Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

It’s not popular today to speak in terms of  “good and evil”.  Having grown up in a religious setting that tended to breed condemnation rather than confidence in the work of Christ in our hearts, I can understand it.

Nevertheless, we can’t ignore either word.  There is obviously both good and evil in the world.  Everywhere we look there is are hard things.  Poverty, sexual slavery, broken families, crime, bigotry, injustice, wars, and so on.   On the other hand, we see good in those work to make a difference or rise above their own negative circumstances or a raw hand that was dealt them.

What determines whether someone is good or evil?  Luke 6:43-45 makes it clear that it is the kind of fruit one bears.  It makes it clear the fruit we see comes from the condition of one’s heart.

Christ’s sacrificed life made it possible to live in goodness.  Salvation is for body, soul, and spirit.  Reunited or back in agreement with God, it is now up to us to plant and tend to the vineyard of our hearts, that we might produce GOOD FRUIT.

Andy Andrews, in his book The Traveler’s Gift, talks about one of the seven principles of success–I have a decided heart.  If we choose to follow Christ, then we must also decide to become like Him.

Luke 6:40 says “everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” A decided heart is one that refuses to let things unlike Christ remain in their heart.

One can’t have bitterness and say they are following Christ.  Nor can we dwell in unforgiveness, a vengeful spirit, self-centeredness, pride, apathy, rebellion, greed, etc.    Those attitudes will choke out the good fruit and fill our hearts with unhealthy habits and desires.

We also can’t live in the land of unbelief, a place that denies what God says about us or the priniciples and promises of God.   It is impossible to please God without faith!  Not just faith in his redemption, but walking it out by being who He has called us to be and producing good fruit.

Luke 6:45 says”For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  Faith is a matter of confession and profession.  What you say matched by what you do  indicates the faith you have.    It is not enough to say “Lord, Lord”.   We must have faith that is rooted deep in our hearts vineyard.

That kind of faith, fills our heart with the qualities of God.  Love, forgiveness, peace, long-suffering, goodness, meekness, temperance.  It is other focused.  It is about blessing, not cursing.  It is about us rising up to our position in Christ’s kingdom and living from a decided heart!

It is work because faith without works is dead.  It’s not about performance for the sake of performance but it is about truly accepting the work of Christ and letting Him transform our hearts into a vineyard…the planting of the Lord.  It takes self-examination under the light of the Holy Spirit.  It takes a decision followed by committment, that we will continue to add the character of God to our lives, letting go of the things that hold us back or produce rotten fruit.

I am challenged today to inspect my fruit and pull out by God’s grace the things that produce bad fruit.  I am determined to put into my heart the seed that will create a bountiful harvest.

How about you?  What do you need to pull out or put into your heart to produce greater fruit?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Considering Possibilities

I’m sure, like any young woman, Mary was hopeful and excited about the possibilities of her life with her soon to be husband, Joseph.  Can’t help but wonder what it must have been like when God’s chosen purpose for her became clear.

Face to face with His angel, hearing the words of being chosen to conceive the long-awaited Messiah, must have been both thrilling and scary!  So much responsibility, so many miracles needed, so much reputation to be lost, so many things to consider.  Overwhelmed would be the word of the day, I think!

Before Mary would actually become pregnant by the Spirit, she had to think about it all.  Her response was the key to it all.  Would she say no, denying man the miracle of a savior?  Would she risk her own reputation, her preconceived life plan, her possible loss of Joseph?

We are faced with those same questions every day in our lives.  Will we open ourselves up to what God has for us?  Will we stop caring so much about what others think and just do the right thing or be who we are?  Will we submit our will and plans for our future to God, trusting Him with it?  Will we move beyond our own understanding of what is possible for ourselves,  our kids, our spouses, ourselves, our community, our world?  Will we accept that if God says it is so, He will do the impossible?  Will we understand that His ways might look different but they are full of possibilities that change us and the world around us?

Mary had to accept that Father knows best.  She had to consider carefully what it means to open herself up to the Spirit of the Living God.  Her life was never the same and her decision impacted the world eternally.

What is facing you today?  Challenges of health, finances, family, relationships, career?  God is the God of impossibilities.  (Matthew 19:26)

What might be possible if you open your heart to the Spirit of God and let Him breath His life into the situations?

Consider you might become pregnant with the Spirit and deliver the plans of God to the world.  That no doubt would change a lot of things, wouldn’t it?

 

Read Full Post »

This has been a week where I’ve been so conscious of pain.  Not so much my own, but that of those I love or the world in general.

So many stories.  Some involve injustice or hurt at the hand of others.  Some tell a tale of consequences for personal choices.  Most of them are really about both.

Regardless of the source of our pain or loss, it is clear that how we handle it will determine the power of it in our life.

I speak from experience.  I know the difference between the two.

I spent years playing the role of a victim.  I justified my own choices and the my reaction to the hurts inflicted by others by staying in that familiar space.  Poor me.  People are awful.  Why me?

When I learned to look at pain differently, my life had a seismic shift!  I am grateful for the lessons I learned.  Hopefully sharing it with you will help.

First of all, it’s God’s love that allows us to experience consequences for our own choices.  He always has our best interest at heart and His purpose is not to punish but to set us on the path that opens the door for the abundant life He promised.

II Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct produce a repentance (change of mind) that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil and never brings regret…..”

When we let God direct the pain of the consequences of our choices, He will step in and change us from the inside out.  Sometimes we have to sit for awhile with the pain, contemplating our part in it before we can give it to God.

When we accept our responsibility for our choices, we can expect God’s forgiveness and His action on our behalf.  The consequences may not go away but we can look at the future with hope, knowing somehow, some time God will turn even this for good. We can walk toward that future without the shame and guilt, free to move closer to our destiny.

The same is true with the pain that is caused at the hands of others.  Betrayal of someone we love or trust is never easy.  Injustice  is a horrible thing.  Regardless of the circumstances or the story, our choice is the same.  Will we allow God to direct us and our pain for good or choose bitterness, victimhood, and unforgiveness?  Will we turn trouble into triumph, or let the pain rule our life?

This type of pain can wound and scar us so deeply.  There is no doubt that it can change the course of our outward life such as position, jobs, finances, etc.  It can also affect our emotional or physical well being.  Even the purposes and gifting that God has placed on our life can be delayed.

What we do with that pain will determine how much power we give it.  We can be forever stuck or forever free.

It’s not necessarily easy.  It takes thought, prayer, and processing.  But, the quicker we choose to ask God for help, asking Him to heal our souls and direct our footsteps, the sooner He can turn it to good. And the sooner we will experience a peace that passes understanding.

“and never brings regret: ”  The rest of that verse says, “but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of a pagan world) is deadly. (breeding and ending in death!)” (Amplified)

When we go through pain,  we have to options.  We can choose between a bitter, death producing life of victimhood or life, hope, freedom, repentance and a number of God’s wonderful gifts.

There is truly a gift in pain and grief.  It’s up to us to open it.

What can you do to open the gift today?

Read Full Post »

I love how quickly God can speak to us through His word.   Doesn’t always happen but today I just bowed my head, said a prayer asking for what God wanted me to know, opened my eyes and looked at the page my Bible was open to and voila!

Deuteronomy 31:3 “The Lord your God will Himself go over before you, and He will destroy these nations from before you and you shall dispossess them.”

Mmmmm! Strange verse but my heart jumped at the first 9 words. There are always things in our lives that seem as big to us as defeating a nation.  I’m facing a few obstacles right now and I love this promise.

The context of this verse is the story of Moses leading Israel to the Promised Land.  He tells them he is old and can’t go out and in anymore and that he will not be going into the land with them.

Sometimes I feel like that .  Leading a family isn’t easy.  Mommas never lose their sense of protection and responsibility even when the kids are grown.  Leading a business isn’t easy either.  There are a host of relationships to maintain and challenges along the way.  Caring about others isn’t easy either.  Sometimes we want to fix things and we can’t. Keeping our dream alive is definitely not easy because there are so many competing voices in our heads.

These are some of the areas I’m facing obstacles in.  What are yours?

The good news is just when we think we can’t go any farther, alone without someone to lead the way,  in comes God.

He has laid out the plan already and provided for us to reach our destiny.  He will bring someone to help us or step in supernaturally.  The Spirit will remove the things standing in our way as we keep being obedient and following Him.

God goes before us.  He is the one who has all power and authority and we go in and dispossess the obstacles (nations) and possess the promises.  He asks us to be strong and courageous and firm.  (Vs. 6)

Too many are stopped cold by fear.  They are afraid of the obstacle, afraid of others, afraid of themselves.  When we live in that place of fear we can begin to feel terrorized by what comes at us and frozen in place, unable to move forward.

That same verse says, “fear not nor be in terror before them for it is the Lord Your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.”

God has and still goes before to clear the path.  Then He goes with us along the way.

What or who is there to fear?

What can you do today to let go of the fear and put your faith and trust in the God who goes before?

 

Read Full Post »

People disappoint me.  How about you?

Relationships can be difficult when you live in the land of expectations.  So often we want things of people that they never promised to give.  Ever been upset because someone didn’t give you what you thought they should or act the way you wanted them to act?

That’s me.  And I’ve been faced with that ugly thing over and over again. It’s a lesson I have to keep learning, especially when it resurfaces old scars.

Here’s what I’ve learned.  I have a high expectation of myself in most areas of life and my values are really strong.  Sometimes I can use those as clubs over other people’s head when they don’t share the same values or are not living up to what they say they want. I expect them to want what I want and do what I do or at least what I’ve convinced myself I do.

Get it?  It’s easy  to hide behind rags of self-righteousness–convincing ourselves that we have given all and that our heart is pure.  There are times when we have a pure heart or done all but there are times when there’s something  in us to work on.

Scripture speaks a lot about unity and peace in relationships.  I’m beginning a deeper study on them.

For today, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we all started to move from what we expect of others to looking for the gold in them.  Can’t help but think we would create an atmosphere of peace and unity.

Here’s a few steps that could help but before anything else know this.  God loves you and has all of your best interest at heart.  No matter what happens, that never changes.  Stay in relationship with Him above all else.

1.  Start with YOU.  Be honest and real about your hurts but never use your hurt to blame someone else.  Ask “How am I part of this problem?”

2.  Understand that others don’t know what you expect unless you’ve had that conversation.  Communication must be clear and specific.

3. Make it a habit to look for the good in others instead of focusing on the flaw you see.

4.  Make it a practice to whenever possible live at peace with everyone.  Find common ground and things to build unity on.

Psalm 133:1 says “How good and pleasant it is for brethern to dwell together in unity.  It is like precious oil upon the head. “

Expectations are usually born from our own wounds.  People not being who they could be is usually a result of being wounded.  Oil is a healing force and if we choose to stop expecting and start finding the common purpose, I believe we can change the world.

What expectations do you need to let go of?

What can you do today to bring healing to a conflict?

 

Read Full Post »

Cured

Compare the two.  “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil by anxious thoughts and forebodings, but he who has a glad heart has a continued feast regardless of circumstances.” Proverbs 15:15

Which would you rather have?  A feast regardless of circumstances or evil days?

The choice is pretty clear.

There are always times in our lives when things are disconcerting and worrisome.  We have to be totally honest about how we feel during those times in order to move forward, but there is a danger when we choose to brood over them.

I call it sitting on the pity pot when we  choose not to move beyond.  It’s as if we are sitting in the bathroom, constipated yet unwilling to take the medicine that would help move things along.  So we sit there hour after hour, day after day miserable, uncomfortable and plugged up!  We play the blame game (accusing someone else of causing our problems), the victim game (Poor me, I don’t deserve this but there is nothing I can do about it), or the much afraid game (panicked and out of control anxiety and despair).

The more we sit there covered by every negativity known to man, the more plugged up we become.  Eventually every day is a bad day and every thing has gone wrong.  If we continue to live there, we may even find ourselves acting out and doing “evil”  or destructive things.

God never meant for us to live that way.  And there is a God given laxative to clean us out.  Proverbs 17:22 says, “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing.”

With God’s help and proper focus, we can move beyond trouble into a state of joy and gladness.  Here’s a few steps.

1.  Be honest before God.  Don’t stuff your emotions.  Cry out to God and be real about how you feel.

2.  Ask God for help and listen for His encouragement of His word.

3.  Think differently.  Choose to focus on the blessings, past successes, and things that bring you joy.

4.  Do the right things.  If you walk in integrity and character regardless of circumstances, you will eventually see the hand of God!

5.  TRUST.  Trust God and His promises.  In the end, that is what brings us confidence and hope for the future.

If your heart is hurting or you find yourself struggling at some level, what could you do today that would bring you a “glad and merry heart”?

It is the cure!

 

Read Full Post »

Ever had a dream deep inside of you that you believe God has put there?  Ever done your best to follow His instructions and come to a point where you just didn’t see how the dream was going to actually be birthed?

I’ve been there several times.  In fact, was just there again last night.  It’s difficult to keep your mind and heart focused when you are discouraged by the outward appearances of what’s happening.

The voices that resonate in our head during times like that are so easy to listen to.   Things like:  Who do you think you are to even believe you could do this? It’s just like everything else you’ve tried, it’s a silly pipedream!  You are just an ordinary person, you weren’t meant to do great things.  You aren’t smart enough, don’t know the right people, etc. etc. etc.  God isn’t really in it.

These are just a few voices that cause so many of us give up on the thing God has put in our heart.  The first sign of struggle or the first objection can throw us into a pit of despair and discouragement.  And sometimes we labor, pray, travail and give up just before the birth happens.

What it really boils down to is faith versus fear.  We are afraid to let God really shine through us….to dare to believe we can do big things through Him.   We are afraid that God might not love us enough, might not have chosen us, might not think we are significant to His kingdom.

While we are believing the lies of the enemy, here is what God says in Isaiah 66:9.  “Shall I bring to the moment of birth and not cause to bring forth?, says the Lord.  Shall I who causes to bring forth, shut the womb? says your God.”

What kind of God would we serve if He didn’t care about the deep desires He put in us?  What kind of cruel God would He be if He brought us right to the moment of delivery and then ran away or stopped the birthing process?  God isn’t like that.  As long as we stay open and ready to birth what He has spoken by His strength He will bring it forth.  As long as we are willing to follow the plan He has given us, He will bring it forth.

We were meant to birth the things of God in our marriage, our children, our businesses, our relationships, and our lives!  God will bring it forth.  The question is:  What can we do to cooperate with Him?

Go forth and multiply!  Birth the baby God has for your life!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »