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

 

 

Advertisements

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