Always the Heart

book-2115176_640

Isaiah 55:11 ‘so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.’

This is a call to Christians. A call to please God, not man. ‘Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.’ A call for you to evaluate where your hearts are at. A call to draw close to the One who made you and called you according to His purposes. A call to really know Him and what He is calling you to. A call to be grounded in the Word. A call to know what is required of you. Micah 6:8 ‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’

I feel like I need to write a caveat before I send this blog forth. It is possible I may offend people but before you choose to take an offense up, can I challenge you to ask your heart why? And forgive me please as my intention is not to cause offense. I write about this subject because God is burning it in my heart these days and I feel broken because of it. I write about this because I have been in the middle of these situations all the way back to when I first found Jesus. I have been a part of these situations. Because guess what, people are people. Even if we don’t purposely set out to let the enemy use us, when we don’t know God’s voice, we can become the accusers of our brothers and sisters. One word timely whispered and an offense can be set off. Revelation 12:10

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:pointing-1991215_640

“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.”

My heart is burdened because we cannot do His will here on earth well as a fractured body. And we can do so much more together. I mean, He is God and His purposes will be accomplished as the Word says above but will we fall by the wayside and will He have to raise others up to accomplish the purpose He had for you?

How well do you know God? Like really know Him and His Word? Would you say that His heart is for you? Would you say you know you are loved, forgiven, saved, righteous, His child? Would you say that you are following Him and not people?  Are you sold out to His commission for us as believers? Matthew 28:18-20 ‘Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

My heart has been breaking for all of the stories I have been hearing lately about how people are hurt by Christian people and that becomes generalized to the church and then projected on who they think God is. Offence is picked up and if not dealt with this can turn to resentment. If they are Christian, their faith may suffer, reconciliation might never happen,  then they possibly fall away or in some cases plan never to attend church again. In the meantime a fracture happens within the church by the loss of these people and that particular body goes on but with a noticeable limp. I realize sometimes there is a grand purpose in God removing some people from a particular body of believers but it may not always be the case. It may be the enemy working his steal, kill and destroy program through his bait of offense.

I understand when someone is a Christian we naturally give them a higher standard to hit and that should be the case but I think it should be higher, not impossible. This also means if you are a Christian, you also are called to this higher, not impossible standard. It is not impossible with His spirit and strength, it will be in our own strength. They are not God, neither are we, we are all human and we hurt each other, often not on purpose. I also realize that church is not the only platform to display His glory but it needs to be a place where we grow together to be strengthened to go out into the world, in all the places He calls us. The local church is the hope of the world but a fractured one doesn’t always paint a beautiful picture of hope. Please don’t take this to the extreme because I know we are all broken in some way and the beauty of God doing what He does through broken vessels is often what it is about. I am just saying if we are loudly broken without Christ on display in our behaviour, hope doesn’t always shine through. What is your part in the restoration?

So what is getting in the way of your witness? Is it you? Can I gently suggest we get over ourselves? I love how Revelation 12 gives us the answer with verse 11 in the Message translation,

‘They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb
    and the bold word of their witness.
They weren’t in love with themselves;
    they were willing to die for Christ.’ 

Most of all I think God’s heart in all of this is not to equate who He is with who we are as humans. Remember the part, my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways? God said that. He sees us through the filter of what Jesus did, dying on the cross for our sins. Christ’s blood and His love cover a multitude of sins.

As I was praying through this blog, a few things came to mind that may get in the way of us not fulfilling the commission.  Pride, unforgiveness, inability to work through conflict, missing God’s heart, lack of identity, disobedience, blindness from our own wounds. This doesn’t just apply to issues within the church but  within our own hearts. Working through these things is not easy and I think we forget that we have the power of the resurrected Christ within us to help us get through these places.

Joyce Meyer said,‘ The gap between desire and doing is determined by how much pain one is willing to endure to do God’s will.’ . It is always a heart issue. How sold out is yours for our Saviour that you will do whatever it takes to live at peace with others and be obedient to His purposes?  Please read the following out Romans 12 out loud, stop on each verse and challenge your heart to see if you are living these words, if not, repent, ask His forgiveness and move forward knowing He is for you, and Holy Spirit will empower you to live this out. Be blessed brothers and sisters.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’

los-cabos-68861_640

 

 

Fearless Prey

hawk-1643089_640

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Peter prefaces this verse by encouraging the scattered believers to cast all of their cares upon God and follows it by reminding them to resist satan. He knew that when we get caught up in our cares, we take our eyes off of Jesus and become prime targets for the enemy to steal, kill and destroy. Peter had experienced this more than once and he had learned that standing firm in the faith and being deliberate in resisting the enemy was the only way to stand in the face of resistance.

The enemy, satan, the devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, King of Babylon, Antichrist, Father of lies,  whatever name you have heard him referred to it doesn’t refute the fact that he is real. He would delight in nothing more than destroying you. Satan in Hebrew actually means destruction. Ignoring his existence does not lessen his efforts. He appears in ways that can be pleasing to us as Paul warns people to be aware of false prophets. “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14

Deception is his game. Death is his aim. Often he uses people to create the distraction. He nudges someone to offend, or take offense. The Father of lies whispers unworthiness, uselessness, isolation into ears ripe to blame. Or he builds up, pumping someone full of pride and entitlement. He sneaks into the hurt and the wounded and encourages stuffing of the pain until a root of bitterness or unforgiveness grows in the darkness.

Death can come in the form of complacency, spiritual apathy, broken relationships, addictions, people bound up in trauma and pain, actual death. Anything that will hinder a thriving relationship with God. He doesn’t actually have to kill us for us to be ineffective in the Kingdom of God.

Yesterday my husband was working in the garage swapping tires on his truck. He heard a bird chirping as though in distress. Looking up he saw one flying frantically around the garage and as he watched a falcon swooped in behind it in full pursuit. The potential victim bird flew toward the windows of the door sensing a possible escape. In a moment, the falcon curled its deadly talons over the bird and dropped to the floor. Mesmerized by this scene, keeping eye contact with this predator for many seconds, Wade reached for his phone to try to capture the moment. Who would believe this? Much to his chagrin, his hip was empty, his phone left inside. A few more seconds of eye contact and the falcon lifted up and out the door, prey in tact.

The differences were evident between my husband and I as he was totally fascinated with this series of events and I incredulous, asked, is this an omen? It reminded me though of how the enemy swoops into our circumstances and lives with no regard for anything else but to capture its prey. He has someone in his sights and is relentless to try to capture them.

This is not meant to make you fearful, only aware. There is good news. Jesus. He wins.

Sin is a way for the devil to get in. Jesus died for our sin.

“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Repent. Acts 3:19, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Live from a place of Victory. Romans 8:37 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Do not give in to fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

Always remember. 1 John 4:4, “You dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

We are not helpless prey, we have been given authority over the enemy by the blood of Jesus that was shed for us. Read the chapter Ephesians 6 to learn about your armour and power against the enemy and Stand firm. God wins in the end.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:10,11…

knight-1062126_640

 

 

 

 

Embracing Space

plait-1348903_640“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. With whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?” Isaiah 46:4,5

The prophet Isaiah penned these words near the end of his life and so this promise of God being with him even to the old age and gray hairs was very relevant. Isaiah was teaching the nation of Israel as they had a tendency to waver between the one true God and pagan gods. He is reminding them that there is no comparison. As God spoke in verse 9, “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is none like me.”

I know of so many people, women in particular, that feel like they don’t have a right to take up space in this world. They often apologize about being a burden, not embracing their true value. I realized as I met with one of my dear friends today, there is not much that fuels my passion for Jesus more than when I see women believing the lies of the enemy that they aren’t worthy. I see them consumed by guilt and shame and agreeing with the enemy’s voice. They are caught in cycles of comparison with others that aren’t even in the same arena of life. Their insecurities are like a starving wound that is devouring any false confirmation to the lies that have been planted in their souls.

The reason my heart gets more fired up for Jesus is because I know He is the only answer. He can bring healing to all areas of our heart so much so that there is no evidence left of what created the hurt. I know and have lived a multitude of reasons that we can become full of shame and feeling unworthy. There are times that life overwhelms us with the difficulty of living in this sin filled world.

False guilt is the fuel of shame. Comparison is the thief of joy. It is the enemy of contentment. It eats away at your ability to be confident. I heard it said recently that comparison fosters competition more than community. In this it creates unrealistic expectations that stimulates wrong thinking. Comparison isolates us, drawing us even further from the truth that we are enough with God.

This makes me want to throat punch the devil for how he undermines our value and worth. He started it in the garden, right from the get go, planting a tiny seed that we aren’t enough. “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:4,5

The enemy is adept at just throwing in a tiny twist on the truth that will get us spinning or trying to make it happen on our own. I can just hear that slimy little snake comparing them to God when they weren’t Him. We may have the right desire to become more like God but when we take it into our own hands, like Eve did, we become our own god. Our independence becomes a hindrance to intimate relationship with our true God.

Who are you comparing yourself to? The one and only lasting thing that will set us free from the lies we have believed is God’s truth. And His truth says “I am he that will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Set these promises deep in your spirit. Dig deep into discovering the lies that you have or are believing. Find His truth and speak it until you believe it. You don’t need to continue to allow those things to spin around and defeat you. Get in your lane, the one created just for you, you are unique and meant for the space and influence that God has given you. Find help.Take up your sword and fight the lies for it. It belongs to you, it was formed with you in mind. Seek a community of like-minded people who will encourage and build you up. We need to link arms to stand against the enemy and his schemes. It is time for us to take our places and put him under our feet where he belongs. Don’t let him take any more casualties. No more identity theft. No more lies. Our identity is in Jesus. He established the space. Embrace it.