Always the Heart

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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.’

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Posture to Receive

“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3

There seems to be a recurring theme in my life lately that creates opportunity to change expectation into expectancy. It is when my expectations are in people or circumstances that the disappointment is ripe to grow. As I have experienced and studied the topic of expectations while I write, a formula that is usually accurate is when expectations do not equal reality it creates frustration. Often then we will look at the circumstances and place the blame or frustration there rather than digging deeper and seeing the pathway that led us to be disappointed in the result. BAM! Did you see that? Often our Pastor, when speaking something he feels is profound or impactful will repeat what he just said to highlight the point. I will give you a real life example.

Please do keep in mind I love my husband and children more than my life itself but I think all you Mama’s will relate to this one. I have been feeling convicted to spend some time writing and the last 2 weeks have been plumb full of people, kids off school and kids ministry etc. So when Wade left for work and Owen and Tessa were going to school and then her home for the weekend, I was quite excited to have my time of writing. Ok bye-bye, out the door now, did an early workout so gonna hop in the shower as soon as they leave and not waste any more time. Tessa walks back in, “My tire is flat!”  100 scenarios of how my time is going to be sucked away play through my mind and I give every possible helpful hint that wouldn’t involve my time. Holy Spirit knocks on my head, Hard. Remember the let me be open to your leading today Lord prayer…”I will call Wade about the air compressor.” After that, time-stealing scenarios are still making music in the background, I begin to explain where it is, how to use it, then more HS knocking as I stare at her frozen windows and sweet face and pregnant belly, “Wait, I will bring it around.” Just for the record I would not have left her stranded and would have given up my whole day if I needed to but my expectation of a time of writing and quiet had been interrupted and I went straight to selfish mode. The reality did not match my expectation and therefore created frustration.

God has been speaking to me a lot lately about being in a posture to receive. Be still and know that I am God was one of my Mom’s favorite verses and it has always seemed difficult to do. It created an expectation in me that I needed to be physically still in order to hear and know God better. It has created a lot of frustration sometimes when life is busy and I long to just sit with the lover of my soul. This verse comes from Psalm 46:10 and the complete verse says, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” Be still in the Hebrew context is to let go, or release so in essence we let go of our own control and know that God is in control.  It is not necessarily a physical posture, which interestingly one definition of posture is a particular way of dealing with or considering something, an approach or attitude. BAM again! Did you see that one. Ok I will stop, but really…

This psalm talks about God defending his city and people, how He is our fortress and no matter what is going on, He has the ultimate victory in the world. The rest of the verse, I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth are a reminder to us as His people to take time everyday to recognize and exalt (hold in very high regard,speak or think highly of)Him. This can be done in all situations no matter how physically still we are. A posture of receiving is a state of mind, an attitude to choose to see God wherever we are at, whatever we are in. Also for the record a physical posture of quiet before Him to receive and listen and exalt Him is sometimes required.

God promises often in His word that He will never leave us or forsake us. Abandon is one meaning of forsake and so it is comforting to know that God never abandons us, he may leave us to our own devices sometimes but He is always present. As I was taught and experienced early on in my walk with Him, He is a gentleman, He will never bust in where He is not invited. Graham Cooke says, “If we are in Christ, then all of our circumstances are as well.” So let your expectations move into expectancy of God, not in people or circumstances or processes but God Himself. Invite Him into the exact place that you are, He sees your state of nakedness and knows anyway.