Great & Unsearchable

bible-1388427_640 ‘But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.’ 2 Timothy 3:1-5

I know when God repeats a passage in 3 different forms to me in less than 12 hours, He is speaking and commanding my attention. Imagine my surprise when He speaks that I should have nothing to do with myself! The book of 2 Timothy has been heralded as the apostle Paul’s famous ‘last words’. He knew he was to be executed soon and so as he was in prison he wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy. It was a passing the torch kind of letter and it tells of the urgency Paul knew to be true for God’s people.

This same urgency has been placed in my spirit, to not just know about God but to have a transformative relationship with Him and to urge others to do the same. I feel many of us are walking around as Paul says above, ‘having a form of godliness but denying its power.’ We go to church, we speak the language, but have we truly allowed the living Word of God to transform our minds and hearts? Can you read in the list above and see yourself in it? ‘lovers of money’, ‘boastful’, ‘proud’,’ungrateful’, ‘unforgiving’, ‘lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God’. To name a few.

My heart is repentant and heavy today, I had to come before Him and confess that there are many areas in my life I have not let His Word change. I have often been as 2 Timothy 3:7 says, ‘always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.’ Repentance is a change of heart and mind that is a literal turning away from our sin and brings us closer to God. The first step to receiving God’s forgiveness is admitting that we need it. Needing it is not just at the point of salvation when we realize we have sinned in the world and need Jesus, it is an everyday part of walking with God, realizing that we fall short and have a great need for Him to  help us in our humanness. How easily and quickly we can fall.

I think I have skimmed over these verses with thoughts of all the terrible things that are to come but dare I say it is here, and it is in us. Corrie ten Boom once said, ‘If satan can’t make us bad, he will make us busy.’ I fear in this we do not take time to know God and there are too many distractions from really sitting with Him and knowing His heart and having ours changed in the process. Louie Giglio said, “Why do we look so forward to eternity but we do not want to spend time with Him now?”

Verse 16 in 2 Timothy 3 says, ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ How are you letting the Word do its work? Do you know enough of it and God’s character that it has changed yours?

Has the time come that Paul talked about in 2 Timothy 4:3,4 as he gave Timothy a charge to speak the word, correct, rebuke and encourage others with it. ‘For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.’

We like to have our ears tickled don’t we? To hear all the grace filled things in God’s truth but if we are true followers of God’s Word, we need to give heed to all of it. A lot of it is correction, not because He is against us but He is for us! Do we discipline our own children just for kicks? Well neither does He. Our heart is for their best and if we take the time to know God’s heart, we will see clearly His is the same.

The beautiful thing is that He waits for us to come. He is a gentleman, He stands at the door and knocks, He does not barge in and force His ways upon you. He wants us to know Him but He has given us free will. My deepest desire is that I know Him and He knows that so I heard these words out of love and not condemnation today. He wants all of my heart, the hardened parts included. As He does yours. Are you willing to give it? Are you willing to sit with Him and listen, read His Word and ask Him to open your understanding. Jeremiah 33:3, ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ This does not necessarily mean the secret to world domination. Today it meant, see these places in your heart that keep you from me, bring them to me. Turn your heart from them and turn toward me. I love you and want you to know me.creation-1906289_640

Go to Him. What are you waiting for? He is waiting for you, just as you are.

Healing Offence

cry-1316458_640

Jeremiah 9:1,”Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears. I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.”

My heart is burdened. I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His and the first thing that keeps playing over in my mind is how people blame or have bitterness toward God, the church or others for pain in their lives. I have witnessed over and over the basis for this blame is often rooted in unresolved offences, judgment and unforgiveness. When we blame we can temporarily take our pain and lay it on something else instead of seeking after healing for it. Healing takes responsibility and action. It may be the hard thing but God longs for hearts to be reconciled to His. I am not saying there aren’t people who hurt us but what often hurts us the most is our responses to the hurt. Therein is where we sin.

Why is it so much easier to deflect than to deal with issues? Anytime you assume to know why someone did something, you are judging them. It is almost like second nature for us to try to determine Why something happened. Beth Moore said that she feels there are a lot Whiners because people have unresolved Whys! She said asking Why is not about getting the answer necessarily, its knowing you have the right to ask that of God. It hinders intimacy when you don’t express it, once you do, you can get on with it.

Why’s can come in all forms. It may be from a significant loss, from an event, in relationships, with God. The most dangerous form of why can be the assuming why. Someone walked right by you and you ‘assume’ it is because they don’t like you. You didn’t get a text or phone call back immediately and you ‘assume’ it is because they are mad at you. You didn’t get picked for a team or project, you ‘assume’ you aren’t good enough. In these places you pick up offence.

Dr. Jim Richards says, “Unresolved offences are emotional suicide.” You know I don’t throw that world around lightly but I agree with him that is the best descriptive for what happens in our hearts when we take up offence. He also taught, you can’t have mercy for someone you have a judgment against because judgment calls for a penalty. Judgment shuts our hearts down to mercy. When we numb our hearts to pain, joy and peace suffer.

I have been reading in Jeremiah this morning. The ‘Weeping Prophet’. When I see the call God has on these prophets lives in the bible, there is no doubt they would be weeping. God calls them to draw the people back to Him and often the response is the opposite. It was a difficult task. This is the burden I am sensing in these days, people’s hearts are far from Him and often this could be resolved as hearts heal. Jeremiah actually asked for tears for his people as we see in the verse above.

This was a good ask because if he kept all of this frustration and sorrow over the people bottled up, it may have exploded to judgment and offense and kept him from completing God’s task for him. 40 agonizing years he had to keep speaking to these hard-headed people. He even went on to write Lamentations, true to its namesake it’s a passionate expression of his grief and sorrow over his people. “My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city.” Lamentations 2:11

I know that Jeremiah’s musings were regarding the destruction of Jerusalem but his message applies to us today. Disobeying God invites disaster and His heart suffers when His people suffer. We are still hard-headed, hard-hearted and suffering. He is the answer. I won’t apologize for saying that. We are to seek after true reconciliation, not just say I’m sorry, bury it and move on.

Stop assuming you know the answers. If God shows you something why don’t you stand in the gap for that person in prayer instead of filling in the gaps about them. If you have taken offence, seek God for healing and forgiveness and go back to that and say, I don’t know why they did what they did but God help me to be merciful. If you are assuming why in the midst of a conversation or exchange, ask immediately for clarity so judgment can be prevented.

You know the saying, don’t assume, or it makes an a.. out of you and me. This is pretty accurate because then it is just interpretation not the truth and it will create some kind of hurt or conflict. Jesus is the truth along with the way and the life and living from a place of judgment does not allow for the truth to penetrate. But, when we surrender judgment, it gives us the capacity to have mercy. Jeremiah knew that our God was one of mercy. He cried out and gave the people plenty of opportunity the chance to repent and turn back to God. It is really quite amazing how very merciful God is when I think of my sins alone and how He has forgiven me, now multiply that by the sins of 7 billion! That is His heart, that none should perish. NONE! For those that know Him already, He wants All of your heart.

What causes you to weep?  What offences have you taken up that God wants you to lay down? In what areas of your heart do you need Him to minister ? Are you far from Him? Turn around, He is standing right there.

Lord, I plead with you to heal the brokenhearted. Father to meet with people in their hurt and help them not to blame and be offended. We know the enemy would love nothing more than to block our intimacy with you. We trust your heart to heal and forgive in those painful places. We surrender our judgment so that we can be merciful. Father, help us in the things we weep for so that we can go and lift up others who experience the same things. We know our world is full of injustice, poverty, war, suffering, offences and rebellion against you Lord, help us to respond appropriately and do what we can and pray for the rest and trust you. Thank you Jesus! Amen.

cross-106416_640

Shameless Restoration

“Finally brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

The biblical meaning of restoration is to receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition. In the verse above, it tells us to strive for it. This is not a passive suggestion.

I have issues. I know you might be surprised after reading my blog for a month and thinking wow, has that girl ever got it together. Haha, not.  Today an issue was highlighted by a conversation I had which triggered a panic button in me that sent my thinking down the sewer. I know we are made of layers, even ogres know that, but sometimes I wonder how many rings this old tree has. Dr. Jim Richards says that when we are healed in an area, it doesn’t mean we won’t think about it but when we do there will be no emotion attached to it. Well I had a lot of emotional baggage get pulled on with this one.

I see the evidence around me more and more that when there is not full restoration or healing in relationships or circumstances, people can cruise around like the walking dead. Wounds are in plain sight and one push or rub the wrong way activates the old emotions connected to this cesspool of hurt. Oh we pretend. We smooth over. We act out. We avoid. We don’t discuss the big gray thing in the middle of the room. We move on…until God allows the trigger to be set off. Bing, Bing, Bing. And we want to pull back even more.

The funny thing is that God wants us to press in to this. You know, the turn the other cheek thing, I think He meant that. He has reconciled our hearts to Him and made us ministers of reconciliation. Reconcile – to compose or settle, to bring into agreement or harmony, to cause to accept to or submit to something unpleasant. Did you see that? Often when there is true reconciliation we need to submit to something unpleasant. Who truly loves conflict? I know some people seem to, but deep down I think most of us would like to avoid it.

My husband has taught me that conflict is not the end of the world though. I know, how dare he. I have felt like it was for most of my life. I did not have great skills to cope if it did happen so avoidance seemed the better path. But did you know it is ok to agree to disagree. God can also bring healing out of the unpleasant things. We need to be willing for him to get up in our business about it.

The ultimate restoration occurred when God sent Jesus for us. We are not the standard, Jesus is. These are some steps toward restoration:

  1. Talk to God about the problem.
  2. Take the initiative. Think of it as the one who makes the first move is the most mature.
  3. Repent. What part was yours?
  4. Address the problem, not the person.
  5. Forgive. As He has forgiven us.
  6. Stress reconciling, not necessarily resolution.

I know that restoration can be extremely uncomfortable and in some cases, maybe completely impossible. But we serve a God of the impossible and we are to keep the peace as far as it depends on us. So do your part. When there is one walking dead, the body of Christ is infected. And if we are to be ministers of reconciliation for the world, how are we to do that walking around like a bunch of zombies?

My heart breaks for those that have been hurt by imperfect people, but we are all that. The enemy’s perfect plan is that we will choose to pick up offense in our deceit and then he really doesn’t have to do much else does he? I can assure you through experience that the avoidance, unforgiveness and wounding is far more painful and long-lasting than pushing through to confrontation, forgiveness and healing. Talk about the gray thing with Jesus. See what happens.

elephant-114543_640