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Posts Tagged ‘spirit’

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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The Secret

I’m dating myself, but there was an old tv show I used to watch with my dad called, “I’ve Got A Secret.” There was a panel of celebrities who tried to determine a contestant’s “secret”– something unusual, amazing, embarrassing, or humorous about that person.

Many of us have or do have secrets too.   We keep them hidden and they keep us from walking fully in our destiny and living an authentic life.  Those secrets cause a root to grow deep in our hearts.  That root, another S word.  SHAME!

Shame is something that comes on us through the words or curses of someone else, the unjust actions of another, or as a result of our own guilt about a failure or sin in our life.  

Just think about it…..I know I heard these words from my mom…..”Shame on You.”  I know I felt it when I my sincere heart was judged or misrepresented, when I experienced a violation as a child, and even in the “religious” old way of thinking in the church.   

It’s a feeling you can’t escape that you are unworthy, unloveable, that there is something horribly wrong with you.  

It causes us anxiety, insecurity, bitterness, unforgiveness, and can even be the root of our rebellion.  

It’s a dirty little secret  that we seem to keep hidden for hours, days, weeks, months, and even years. And as we hold on to it because of our pride, it can lead us into depression, depression, and literally drive us crazy!  

So what do we do with it?  Joel 2  gives a great picture of God’s heart towards someone who is walking in shame, hiding behind the secrets and dark places in their lives.  

Verse 12….”Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”  Rend your heart and not your garments.   

What’s He saying?   I think he is saying come to me with your heart in hand.  Grieve over those places.  Cry before me.  Take it seriously.   Don’t let even eating get in the way.   Open up your heart. Let Me in.  Change your mind.   Say enough is enough!

Why would we do that?   Because God is gracious and merciful and has great kindness.   We don’t have to be afraid that someone will punish us or think less of us if we let out the secret before God.  Just the opposite.   We can anticipate God walking toward the sea of forgetfulness with our secret in hand, leaving a blessing behind Him as verse 13 says.  

For years religious ideology mixed with childhood trauma, caused me shame.  I was so afraid that even God would reject me.  But Praise God, I know now that His purpose is not retribution but restoration!  Verse 25 says if we repent (CHANGE OUR MIND), He will restore the years the locust has eaten…the crawling, swarming, consuming, chewing locust.   

I got sick and tired enough of the enemy of Shame devouring me, chewing me up and spitting me out that I decided to SAY NO MORE.  I decided to accept that God loved me just as I was and had much more for me.  I decided I would accept Him at His word and believe His love was everlasting and His plans for me were grace, mercy, and a bright future!   

The promise of God that goes along with saying no more to shame, presenting our hearts to Him, grieving through the loss and moving on is “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied.  And praise the name of the Lord your God who has dealt wondrously with you.  AND MY PEOPLE SHALL NEVER BE PUT TO SHAME!  I AM IN THE MIDST OF YOU AND AM THE LORD YOUR GOD!”   (vs. 26 and 27)

God always replaces that which we give up to Him and this is no different.  He replaces Shame with SPIRT!  His Spirit (vs. 28-32)  And when His Spirit is poured out on us we are immersed in a New Secret.   It is the wine of dreams, visions, discernment, deliverance, and POWER.  We are no longer held back by the past, and are empowered to walk in the present with an eye to the future.  We are a Your Kingdom Come people, seeing with fresh eyes that are focused on things as they are in His kingdom instead of this world.  

No More Shame!  No More Guilt!   Full of hope, faith, and love.  Free to Be and Free to Become a man or a woman of destiny.  

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I’m hoping as I share God’s word for me this morning it will encourage you in your 2012 journey.

As I continued to pray about some scripture for the year, I read Jereimiah 1:6-12 I got excited.  Here’s what I found for my life.

1.  2012 is  a year for  no excuses.  (Verse 6,7)  We can do whatever God asks of us.  He is in charge!

2.  2012 is a year for no fear.  (verse 8) .  Whatever we come face to face with God is with us and will deliver us.   He has promised!

3.  2012 is a year of speaking His words.  (verse 9)  God Himself has spoken and all we have to do is open our mouths (and hearts) to let Him fill us with what He is sending His word to do.

4.  2012 is a year of appointment!   Verse 10 tells how.  Oversight of the nations and kingdoms.    You may not think you have that oversight but you do.  You have kingdoms and nations within your own life’s circle.  Your family, community, yourself, your church, your finances, etc.   It’s time to rise up and take note and exercise the authority you’ve been given.

Verse 10 g0es on to say….. we have been appointed to Root Out and Pull Down.  2012 is a year to dig deep and get rid of the roots that are entangling us and keeping us from our destinies.  It is a time to pull down the obstacles that are standing in our path.

2012 is a time to Destroy and Overthrow.  It’s time to recognize the enemy and go on the attack to remove his lies from our life.  We are in charge not him.  What we choose to believe is up to us.  What we choose to follow is up to us.  We do not have to succumb to his influence….emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually.   God is greater!   If  we want more of what God has for us then we must stand and declare NO MORE to the enemy!

2012 is a year to build and plant.  Having cleared out the old places,  we can start on level ground.  It’s a time to welcome the dreams and begin to put them into place.  God will establish the work of our hands.

Sounds like a full appointment to me!

5.  2012 is a the year of the almond tree branch.  (verse 11,12)  When asked what he saw, Jeremiah answered, “the branch or shoot of an almond tree.”  This branch was the emblem of alertness and activity, blossoming in late winter.    The Lord commended him for what He said, promising that, “I AM alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.”

For many of us, 2011 was difficult.  We’ve needed hope.  We’ve needed faith.  We’ve needed love.  And we’ve needed answers!  We’ve done all we could to hang on to God’s promises.

As we enter 2012, unsure about what the year holds, we have this assurance.  God is Alert (well aware of our lives and His plans).  God is Active (involved in every little itty-bitty detail).  God is Watching  (over every word He has spoken to see that it is performed). 

Regardless of what the year brings, 2012 is a year of Overcoming! How do I know?  Because He has appointed us to oversight of everything that is holding us back.   We have been granted authority based on His own words and have His promise to perform it!   Therefore…..

If God be for us, who can be against us? 

Be strong and courageous in the Lord!  Watch the walls fall down!   AMEN!  (So Be It!)

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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?

 

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Remember the line from A Few Good Men when Tom Cruise asks Jack Nicholsen to tell the truth on the stand.  Jack, vehemently looks at Tom and says, “Truth?  You can’t handle the truth?”

Throughout the years, truth has been debated.  It’s no different today but as an “older” person, it seems to have changed into a time when all “truth” is what we say it is.

As a Christ follower, what God’s word says is important.  Scripture is not something to be used to beat someone up with but it is the roadmap for a life well lived.

James 1 paints two very different portraits of the way people handle the Word (the truth of God).  There are two camps of people.  The DOERS and the LISTENERS.

In James 1:21-24, a listener is compared to a man who looks in the mirror, sees himself and then goes away and forgets what he looks like.  Mmmmmm, I wonder if doing has anything to do with knowing who we are.  What do you think?

The problem with listeners, is that they are not living authentically. Instead of obeying the truth, they make excuses and try to reason with it.  Verse 22 says they betray themselves and fall into deception.   It’s kind of like a teen-ager.  Ever known one who told you where you were all wrong, while making excuses for their own behavior?

Think about the TRUTH, (God’s way).  If we say we are Christ followers, then we have to follow Christ!  We must ask ourselves:  Am I walking in His way in my marriage?  Am I parenting my kids like He says?  Am I following His principles in my job or business?  Am I handling my money, my health, my relationships the way He directs me too?

I think the biggest question of all is, “Am I trying to reason with God and His principles and commands to justify my choices?

We can’t truly say we are followers of Christ and ignore a life of true worship.  True worship is expressed in the outward actions of our inner lives.  A blessed and authentic life is one that handles God’s truth by acting on it!

 

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River Run Wild!

There are times when a sip of water just won’t do it.  When you are parched and dry it seems you just can’t get enough.

Life can be like that.  Sometimes we are so thirsty for something new or different, nothing seems to satisfy.   We have gone so long without hope, or used up all the strength we had in reserve and it seems like our lives are like a desert, barren, cracked, and dry.

One drop of water can’t wipe out the dryness of land or repair it’s cracks.  One glimmer of hope won’t help us quench our dry and barren places either.

That’s why God doesn’t give us just one drop.   HE POURS LIVING WATER on us!   Isaiah 44 :3:   “I will pour water upon him who is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground.   I will pour My Spirit on your offspring and blessing upon your descendants.”

God’s promise is to POUR out His Spirit.  He describes it as a river of living water.   It’s not only vast enough to quench our thirst but to spread to our kids and grandkids.   There is not just enough.  There is more than enough.

Summer is the time for river rafting.   It’s so refreshing and cool to feel the water and for the adventurous types to ride through and over the more rapid water waves as they envelope our bodies.

You have an open invitation to jump in the river of God’s Spirit.  It’s a river ride that is wild and free as you explore the promises of God and discover more of who He is.   It’s a river ride that will repair your dry places and quench your thirst for a fulfilled life.   And best of all it’s a river adventure that will never end.   There is a boundless supply of living water.

Lord, let this be a day when we jump into the river and let you pour your spirit on us!

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