Crazy Faith

Ephesians 3 (Borean Study Bible), “For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles… Surely you have heard about the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace, given me through the working of His power. Though I am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to illuminate for everyone the stewardship of this mystery, which for ages past was hidden in God, who created all things. His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to the eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Him and through faith in Him we may enter God’s presence with boldness and confidence. So I ask you not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory…For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of the riches of His glory, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Paul understood the supernatural. He witnessed it first on the road to Damascus. God used him to raise the dead, heal the sick, and to perform many other miracles, including those in his own body. He was stoned, drug out of town and left for dead, yet got up and walked away, and then left to minister the very next day.

God sometimes asks us to do some hard stuff, like give our businesses, homes, or cars away. Some are asked to sell everything and to devote their lives to serving overseas. Others are asked to quit lucrative jobs and serve in soup kitchens. Some are asked to start new businesses and they don’t have a clue what they are doing. God asks more of us than we can do on our own. That’s why it is “super” natural. If we could do it in the natural, it would just be our works, which amount to wood, hay, and stubble. However, because we need Him and His grace to do it, He gets the glory, the work is for eternity, and it proves He is at work in and through us.

One of our pastors said during a message recently, “The supernatural often looks “crazy” in the natural.” (Pastor Paul Hohman)

If I had a dollar for every time a well meaning Christian told a brother or sister in the faith that their vision was “crazy”, I could pay off our mortgage! Read the books of the prophets, or read about Peter’s dream, follow the story of Joseph and his dreams, it’s all pretty crazy stuff! Even better, read the book of Acts what they did took extra-ordinary, not plain ordinary faith!

Do as Paul prayed for us, be rooted and grounded in His love, comprehend the length, width, height, and depth of His love. This fills us with His fullness and makes us do some crazy stuff for the kingdom!

How is Your Heart?

Proverbs 28:14 (Jubilee Bible 2000), “Blessed is the man that fears God always, but he that hardens his heart shall fall into evil.”

A hard heart is a very dangerous thing. A heart that is hard does not hear the voice of God, it is not teachable or humble and quite frequently it is full of pride. We harden our hearts or allow them to get hard for all different reasons. The most common one is that we are afraid of getting hurt. It’s a self protection mechanism, part of our fallen human nature.

The only problem is that we are only harming ourselves not helping. What we foolishly see as protection actually keeps the One away who wants to protect us. In fact the Comforter can’t even comfort us and heal those past hurts. A hard heart becomes like a stainless steel container that houses bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and all kinds of ugly junk. If you let it stay hard long enough, it becomes incapable of love.

Have you ever seen the experiment where someone dips a soft petaled rose into liquid nitrogen? They then dash it onto a table top and what happens? It shatters into a million little rose colored shards.

“It’s the hard things that break; soft things don’t break. It was an epiphany I had today and I just wonder why it took me so very, very long to see it! You can waste so many years of your life trying to become something hard in order not to break; but it’s the soft things that can’t break! The hard things are the ones that shatter into a million pieces!” – C. JoyBell

Ok, so maybe you realize your heart is hard, or on its way to diamond plated, what do you do?

First repent. Ask God to forgive you for the sin of self preservation, for putting yourself first, for doubting that He could or would heal you and protect you.

Next, soak it in the word. Look up scriptures about how much He loves you and how important it is for our hearts to be soft, teachable, pliable, and humble. Memorize them if you have to. Tell someone about it so that they can encourage you and hold you accountable.

Years ago a friend of mine and I agreed, after a conversation about the condition (hardness) of our hearts, to occasionally ask each other, “How is your heart?” I can’t tell you how much that helped me. We actually ended up not asking very often, but the thought that she might kept me searching my heart and asking God to help me keep it soft. The outcome was that for a while, some things really hurt! But the good news was that it only proved that my heart was tender again. So when I loved, I really loved!

How is your heart today, my friend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forget About It!

Forget About It!

I love Psalm 103 (well I love a lot of scriptures), however this one has so much to say about what God has already done for us. Some of these things are: “His lovingkindness is forever to those who fear Him,” He knows we are dust so He doesn’t flip out when we mess up, He has the compassion of a Father towards us, “He is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness,” He renews my strength like the eagle, performs righteous deeds, “He has redeemed your life from the pit,” “Pardons all my iniquities and heals all my diseases,” and here is the verse we are talking about today:

Psalm 103:12 (NASB), “As far as the east is from the west,  So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

East will never meet West. So apparently our sins are gone, gone, gone. He says so. If we have truly repented, turned from our wicked ways, He removes that sin. Again, it’s gone.

Isaiah43:25 (NIV), “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Our sin is gone, it’s blotted out, removed, gone, and here’s the important part, He remembers them no more. Did you get that? He chooses to forget about them all. Anytime you try to remind Him of how ugly you used to be, His answer is, “I don’t remember that.”

A great man said it this way,

“Until God can change or lie, he never will bring to mind again the sin of that man whom he hath pardoned.” Charles Spurgeon

So…

Quit holding your past mistakes over your head, quit holding others sin over theirs. You need to do what God did/does. I have heard people say, “I forgave, but I just can’t forget about it.” Well, that’s what the Holy Spirit is for. He’ll help you forget and whenever you think about that sin, yours or theirs, rebuke that memory, and choose to think of something else. Remind yourself of these scriptures.

And…

Forget about it!

Trust

Jeremiah 17:7 (NLT), “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.”

Blessed is the one who trusts in Him. Period. This isn’t rocket science. If we trust Him, we are blessed.

It all boils down to this: How much does He love me? When we are sure He loves us we stop questioning Him and just do what He tells us to do. This is putting our faith on Him and Him alone.

I have been struggling with some trust issues the past few days, feeling like I have bitten off more than I could chew and felt like I didn’t have it in me to do what I had purposed in my heart to do. An old enemy, anxiety, came creeping back, and I am ashamed to say I didn’t toss him out as quickly as I should. After a wonderful encouraging Sunday morning message, and some lengthy prayer, I finally realized that my lack of trust wasn’t in myself, that unwelcome anxiety was the result of placing my trust in ME instead of in Him.

Simply put, it was sin. So, what does a person do when they realize they have misplaced their trust? Repent! I told God I was sorry, thanked my Pastor for the message, and changed what I was thinking.

This morning during my quiet time with the Lord, He spoke these words into my heart, “I LOVE you, let that be your strength today.”

Do I trust Him! You bet I do. Do I sometimes forget He is trustworthy, sadly yes, yet, He is faithful to remind me of His love. And because He loves me, I can put my trust in Him.

Amen!

See Him Smiling

Numbers 6:22-27 (Message Bible), God spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons, this is how you are to bless the People of Israel. Say to them, God bless you and keep you, GOD smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the face and make you prosper. In so doing, they will place my name on the People of Israel—I will confirm it by blessing them.”

(Verse 25 NIV), “the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;”

I am not sure which version I like better. God smiling on me is a wonderful picture. Who doesn’t like to have someone’s face light up with a big smile whenever you walk into the room? However, the words “His face shine on you” reminds me of the warmth and brightness of the sun. On a gloomy, overcast day, with moods grey as the sky, when the sun bursts forth from behind the clouds, something sings in my heart.

For too long, people have had a vision (a false one) of God being angry, a picture of a stern face and a disappointed Father. It’s not the kind of Father most people would want.

It’s time to get that lie of Satan out of our minds and out of our hearts. He (God, our true Father) is SMILING ON YOU! He is NOT angry, disappointed, or ashamed of you. He loves you, He is there to help you, and He wants only the best for you. He isn’t some distant deity that is watching on high to catch you doing something wrong. He is patiently waiting for you to give Him a place in your heart. He longs for you to return His love, just like a child to a father.

He is not frowning on me, my Heavenly Father is smiling on me!

See Him smiling on you.

Get Up!

Luke 22:46 (NIV), “When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

We all get tired, lazy, under the weather, weary, and lethargic and the list goes on… But God says to us, “Get up!”

Not much good happens while we sit on our backsides. Sure a bit of office work, some reading or computing, but actual work for the Lord, work that wins souls and pleases Him happens when we are up and moving.

Sure Jesus made it through it all without the prayers of the disciples, but perhaps His suffering would have been less, or maybe the real suffering happened to the disciples because they didn’t watch and pray.

We do get down, but make sure you call on the strength of God and get back up.

We feel week and tired, but He promises us rest.

He also cautions us not to grow weary in well doing. That doesn’t mean don’t do good things, it means build yourself up in His most Holy Word and walk in His love and strength.

Get up!

False and Fragile Chains

A inspirational speaker a few months back reminded me of something about elephants in captivity used for entertainment (years ago, not sure if the practice is still used.) When the elephant calves are small they tie a chain around a hind leg and attach it to something solid that can’t be moved. Over the years the elephant learns that it can only go so far, before the chain stops them in their tracks. Eventually a small rope and a tent stake will hold this enormous animal in place, actually it’s the ingrained belief, not the fragile rope at all.

Why did this speaker, Jonathon Thomas, use this elephant story? To point out that what we think, how we train our minds, is very important.

For years, I suffered from anxiety. At one point it almost had me paralyzed. Like those elephants, I believed I could only go so far, with certain “safe people”, and lived a horrible life of fear and bondage. All of this happened while I was a born again Christian! Why did it last so long?

I think mostly because I had to change the way I thought and my expectations. Instead of believing made up lies of the enemy, I should have believed what God said. When I expected God’s best and quit expecting the worst, life got better. Once I sat through a dentist appointment with no pills and no anxiety, the next time wasn’t problem. When I could wait in line, sit in a crowded room, and manage a new situation without the sky falling or the ground swallowing me up, and without fainting or seemingly heart failure, I knew that God had my back.

Whenever feelings of anxiety try to come back, I rebuke them and quote His truth.

What fragile and false chains are holding you back?