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Posts Tagged ‘character’

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?

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As I read Hebrews 3, I find a lot to think about.  After the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, it’s hard to believe that the children of Israel caused themselves to wander in the wilderness for 40 years!  Why?  Because they couldn’t or wouldn’t see God’s character and believe that He truly cared for them.

Sound familiar?  I have to ask myself, How many times have I not believed that God really loved me and would take care of me?  How many times have I resisted His love?

The Israelites weren’t exactly compliant people.  They wanted God to take care of them and then constantly ignored His direction for their lives. They thought their way was better and convinced themselves that they were right.

Sometimes that’s what we do in the wilderness too. When we are tested or delayed, we often make a bad choice to keep us in the wilderness.  Then, we blame God or someone else for our wilderness experience.  Even when God shows His hand of provision which includes direction for the way out, we ignore it and harden our hearts.  We treat God like He is a fairy godmother who will just wave a magic wand and fix everything for us.  Then when because of our choices we are stuck, we get mad at God and others.

The more we do that, the more we become acquainted with a hard heart and fail to acknowledge the ways of God according to verse 10.  We create our own vicious circle of wandering, rebellion, and bad outcomes.

It’s not that we don’t know what to do or how to do it in these moments, it’s that we’ve set our will ahead of God’s ways.

God was grieved by the Israelite’s  behavior.  He is grieved by ours as well.  He gives us the right to choose above all other things and won’t  prevent the consequences of our actions.

If you find yourself in a journey that leads you to wander in the wilderness season, you may want to ask yourself if you need to adjust your will.  Are you listening to God’s direction?  Do you believe He loves you and will care for you even if you are asked to do something you don’t want to do?  Where has your heart become hardened to God’s desires and ways?

The answer to those questions and taking the action to correct them, just might lead you into the promised land.

 

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I just reached an impossible goal in our home-business.  It was amazing to watch what happened after I became convicted that it could and committed to working until it did. There were so many times when it looked like it would not happen, but in the end, it came to be.

Life is like that.  Sometimes we have lofty and good goals but what is happening or what we are seeing makes us think it is impossible.

I love II Corinthians 5:7-9.  Here’s my paraphrase:  We move in life by faith.  Our lives and our behavior is regulated by our conviction and belief  about God’s relationship with us and the divine things He’s promised.  We accept those with trust and holy burning desire and therefore we don’t walk by what we see or what appears.  We have confident courage no matter where we are at.  We are constantly ambitious as we work earnestly at pleasing Him. 

One of the reasons I do this blog is because I want every person to really understand and experience a PERSONAL relationship with God.  I know the more personal that becomes the more we understand God’s love for us.  The more we understand how much God loves  the more we will do what pleases Him.

Here’s a few keys to that relationship and a life of blessing.

A. If you need a behavior change, it starts with your belief about your relationship with God.  How seriously do you take what God says?  How strongly do you believe His principles and trust that He will do what He promises?

B.  A life of faith requires burning desire.   What is more important to you–your own desires or what pleases God?  When we have a burning desire to pursue the principles  of His kingdom rather than our own way, we will experience a life of faith and blessing.

C. A life of faith requires ambition.  When I reached for my business goal, I gave it all I had.  I left every ounce of energy on the table and at the end, I was spent.  That is what ambition looks like.  What could change for you if you determined that you were going to pursue God and strive to please Him more than anything else in your life?

I dare say, we would have better marriages, parent better, experience better finances, be more satisfied in our work and play, have better relationships and a greater circle of influence if we would live a life of conviction and belief about God and His relationship with us.  We would take it seriously.  We would understand that life is sacred and we would work with everything that is in us to establish and grow His kingdom on earth and strive with all we have to please Him. 

 

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Christians talk alot about hearing God and God hearing us.  My heart was stirred this morning as I read Isaiah 10:17-18.  These verses reveal God’s heart and what His ear is tuned in to.

When I am talking to God, often it is about me trying to gain something for me.  Maybe it’s direction, answers, healing, etc.  All good things to pray about.  Sometimes I hear clearly and other times not.

What could happen if I began to ask to hear as God hears rather than for God to hear me?

I can only imagine.  Not only would I know what I should do, but I’d be able to make a bigger difference.

I would be tuned into those who are oppressed and minister to those who are fatherless or burdened down with life.

The enemy of our souls wants nothing more then to destroy us by bringing hopelessness, fear, and despair.  There are so many people who are longing for just one word or one action that will begin to bring them out of that pit.  True justice is reversing the sentence on someone who has experienced injustice.

Many have lived through something that was not because of their choice and would have chosen a much different path had they been able to.  When you really think about it, all of us have experienced things that are unjust.

I am freshly challenged to desire God’s ear and be a minister of His love and justice.

Teach me to hear with your ear, O God.

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In this political age and postmodern era of moral equivalency, right  has taken on a whole new meaning. Often it is interpreted as an ideology that is judgmental of others and unloving towards people.

But in scripture, right is principle we can’t afford to ignore.  If we want to have a full, satisfied life understanding right is important.

Imagine that life is like a scale of justice.  On either side of the center is a place to weigh things.  All things being equal, something has to tip the scale in one direction or the other.  What tips the scale in the direction of full satisfaction?

I believe with all my heart and have proven it over and over again in my life, it’s by going right. 

Let me define that as I see it.  Going right is an attitude.  It’s not about us being perfect but it is about us surrendering ourselves.  It’s like a child who is being willful or disobedient.  There are consequences for those actions and while facing them the child is never happy.  But when a child complies with the direction of the parent, things are better all the way around.

Psalm17:15 says it like this . (My paraphrase)  This is what I will do.  I’ll continue to look at your face in righteousness.  I will stand for rightness, justice and keep myself in a place of  openness and right standing withYou.  “

Rightness is a place of clearness.  It’s like stepping out of a shower, squeaky clean.  We’ve washed away the dirt of bad decisions, past wounds, and let go of the willful selfish ways that hide His face.  Even if we aren’t there yet, we have an open heart to do so.

This is the reward of going right.  “”I shall be fully satisfied when I awake to find myself beholding Your form and having sweet communion with You.” (Amplified)

We will see His form and part of the reason why is that His form will begin to take shape in us!   You can’t help but take on the character of someone if you live and communicate with them long enough.

If you feel dissatisfied, check and see if you are going right.  Chances are you’ll see something that needs to be adjusted.

 

 

 

 

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Pure in Heart

I am always amazed at the ways God speaks to me.   When I’m listening, the message is so clear, even though it often comes to me in unexpected form.

That was the way it was a few days ago.  I was at a local rest home, conducting census business.   I was sitting at a table in the dining hall doing paper work.  Directly across from me was an elderly woman.   Ruth was confined to a wheel chair, and although alert, could not speak.   I greeted her warmly and continued with my work.

Later that morning, while walking to a room to interview a patient, I met Ruth again in the hallway.   As I passed, she reached for my hand.   Assuming that she just wanted my touch, I offered it.  She took my hand and brought it to her lips, planting a kiss.   Such a tender moment.

Feeling the profoundness of her loving act, I blessed her and continued on. As I walked, I to pondered what had just happened.

Later as I spoke with the administrator, I commented on Ruth.  He responded, “Whenever we”re feeling bad about ourselves,  or had a bad day, we stop and see Ruth.”

Later that evening, recalling this precious God moment, I was so humbled  it brought tears to my eyes.  You see, I had assumed she needed something from me.   Instead I saw a pure heart.  She had her own “stuff” to deal with, but was unaware of her trouble.  She was aware of someone else and reached out to them, asking for nothing in return.

To many, it would seem that her life was over.   After all, the quality was gone.  Or was it?  Ruth just was.  Her purpose was the same as ours.   To be who we are and show love to others.   She was completely Ruth in that moment.   No masks, not even cognizant of her own needs.  She was the face of God as she reached out to kiss the hand of a passer by.  She could not speak in an audible voice,  but her words resounded loud and clear in my heart.

I love you!  You are special!  I honor you with this kiss.   You are significant.  I noticed you.

How many times have I walked by the unloved without showing love?  How many times have I forgotten to tell someone how special they are to me?  How many times have I dishonored a person or relationship in my life?  How often have I treated someone as insignificant?  How often have I been so focused on myself and my needs, that I didn’t notice someone else?

The final question haunts me most of all.   How often do I give because I want something in return?  Money, recognition, approval, applause or whatever else I think I need at the moment.

I want to walk in the pureness of heart that Ruth had.   How about you?   Will you join me in this prayer?

Lord, create in me a pure heart.

Renew a right spirit in me.

Let me live in close communion with you so that I might be unaware of myself and totally aware of others.

Help me give to others the gifts I have been given, with no thought of what I might receive in return.

Let me be like Ruth.

Let me reach out to the ones who are passing by, kissing their hand with the kiss of God.

Amen.

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