Thursday, April 12, 2018

Forgive and Forget: Are they one and the same? 

What if you forgive someone who doesn’t seem to want to forgive you?
What if someone claims to be a repented Christian yet is unforgiving and refuses to change their thoughts?

I believe that forgiveness is a decision, yet it is something God expects it from us.                            Not only does he expect it, He is very firm about it. He even commands it!                                          Even if the offender doesnt desire forgiveness, and / or has no desire to forgive and forget himself, God demands that we do! According to Matthew 18:22, we are expected to forgive seventy times seven, a number that symbolizes boundlessness. A friend of mine told me that the best way to handle forgiveness is to do it immediately. Don’t allow things to have any time to fester. 

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enimies, bless those who curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you, and persecute you. 

A Christian who refuses to forgive will find his fellowship with God hindered in more ways than one.

Matthew 6:15 But if you fail to forgive someone for their tresspasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive yours.
There are other consequences as well, such as bitterness and loss of reward.

Hebrews 12:14-15 in the Passion Translation sums it up nicely: 14 In every relationship, be swift to choose peace. (It doesnt say some, it says every) and run swiftly towards holiness, for those who are not holy, will not see the Lord. 15.Watch over one another to make certain that no one misses the revelation of God’s Grace. And make certain no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many 

The Bible says that God does not remember our wickedness. (Hebrews 8:12)

Although we strive to be more and more like God, we fail miserably. (Fall short, Romans 3:23)  

However, as humans we can’t selectivly delete specific things from our memories or forget hurtful things people do or say to us, but We Can make that truly important decision to forgive them without making excuses for not doing so.                                              

And we do make excuses. Here’s a few that come to mind:

“Maybe I could forgive them if I understood why they did it”

“What is the point of forgiving them when their not even sorry”

“They could care less if I forgive them or not”

“They refuse to forgive me, so what good does it do for me to forgive them?”

God may not remember our wickedness, but he is still All Knowing!

He forgives our sins, and having been forgiven, we are justified (made right with God, or declaired righteous)

Heaven is ours as if we never sinned. If we belong to Him, through faith in Jesus Christ, God does not condem us for our sins. So in that sense, God “forgives and forgets”.

Romans 8:1 Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ 

If by “forgive and forget we chose to forgive and forget for the sake of Jesus and move on with that individual, then we are making a wise and Godly decision.                                                                                        However, if we “forgive and forget” thinking that it means we can forget what happened to us (especially in cases of rape or a violation of trust by someone in your work or home; for reasons such as infidelity or theft) and behave as if it never happened we’re making a mistake. It did happen and although God asks that we forgive them, He most certainly doesn’t expect us to behave as if nothing happened. Don’t confuse forgiveness with trust. They are two very different things. 

Proverbs 22:3 The prudent see danger and take refuge but the simple keep going and pay the penilty

Jesus told his followers that when they found themselves in the company of unrepentant sinners to be “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” Matthew 10:16

In other words, we must be be willing to forgive, yet cautious.

Being cautious doesnt mean we haven’t forgiven it simply means we are not God and we can’t see what is inside of another persons heart. We’re feeling our way through life and we all make mistakes. Mistakes made by people in our everyday lives should be forgiven for their sake as well as for the  sake of our own hearts.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  

On a more personal note, Anytime I write a blog, I approach it as a ‘learning experience’ that I desire to share. I pray it never comes acrossed in anything close to “A know it all’ perspective” 
In fact, often times this old heart of mine is learning as I write.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sanctuary of Tranquility: When God Calls Us Into Seclusion

Sanctuary of Tranquility: When God Calls Us Into Seclusion: There are times in our lives when God knows that the only way we will become what he wants us to become is by isolating us; by pulling us...

When God Calls Us Into Seclusion

There are times in our lives when God knows that the only way we will become what he wants us to become is by isolating us; by pulling us aside and putting us in a position where the only true answers we get come from him, to show us that the very best friend we have in the whole wide world is him for he is the only one who truly understands us and what and who we need. 
Those times can be very difficult; if we struggle to  understand what he is doing, it can almost feel like a punishment. God does not punish. He does, however, rotate people in and out of our lives. and he does it for seasons and reasons that we may never understand. He knows exactly where we need to live, why we need to have specific jobs or join specific clubs. In essence, he knows exactly what we need to help us succeed and get the things accomplished he has planned for our lives.
He does indeed have a master plan for each of us with experiences we need to endure that will change our attitudes and beliefs. And he knows exactly who will provide the perfect encouragement to us when we are close to giving up, and who will be around to open our eyes to the truth about our own thoughts and behavior. He whispers things to us that become part of our own thoughts and he can and will answer any question we ask him in his time and he will only allow things to hurt us for a season if that pain will bring forth lessons and change or something beautiful.

Ecclesiastes 3:1111 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end

I sometimes struggle to fully understand the free will thing. Most people in this world, have 100% free will. However, when you belong to Jesus, its not quite like that.
You are his possession in a sense and although that may frustrate you on occasion and you might think, if only for a minute, that you don't have to listen, you don't have to do what he wants, the reality of the situation is do.
You see, that old expression, "There's no turning back" is true. You can't change your devotion to him and and you wouldn't change it even if you could, and the reason is simple.
You know that he knows e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g and he would never steer you wrong unless that wrong manifested into something amazing.
He is not only your very best friend. 
He is God Almighty.

Being isolated with God can be lonely if you allow it to be, but if you press in and treat him like the best friend that he truly is, you will experience changes and miracles that will draw you even closer to him and you won't ever want it any other way ever again.
It's kind of crazy in a fantastic way!
Things will begin to happen and things will change; unexpected things. 
Always expect the unexpected with God.
When they happen, you will know it's him. There is no explaining it to anyone who doesn't know him, so you just smile, knowingly and keep it to yourself. 
God is so amazing.

There will be, however, moments, hours and days when he is trying to make a point with you. Sometimes the things he wants us to learn are not easy, and anything but fun.
Often times they are even very painful. 
Yet, painful with the knowledge that he is forcing you to open your eyes and see things, do things his way, instead of your own.
Good luck getting mad at him or trying to make him see things your way. He will listen and he will see, but that won't change his mind unless and until he is good and ready. 
When he is determined to change something about you, he will get it done. 
It will be accomplished, His will will be done. 
He is always successful in every single one of his endeavors
Always! So you can do things the easy way, or you can do things the hard way, that choice is ultimately yours. 

He is destined to change us if we belong to him. asking him to change you is a brave request! He listens and is more than ready to take you up on your request. Be ready for some amazing transformations to occur. You will look back and shake your head when you think about how different you have become. 

1 John 5:14-15 
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Don't let that scripture fool you, God is not Santa Claus. Santa may be described as having a few of God's characteristics but they are worlds apart. The one characteristic that truly defines Jesus is that "if we ask anything according to HIS will, He hears us". 
It must be his will for he doesn't hand out perfect gifts unless they are his perfect will

Believe me when I tell you, receiving that perfect will is tougher than it sounds.
If he has placed you in a difficult situation, it's all yours until he is ready to change it. 
Have you ever asked for something and been told 'No'? 
I have, more times than I can count. Don't pout, Father knows best. 
Remember, No request to God comes back void. 
You will receive what he determines to be the perfect response when he is good and ready, and it's not always what you thought you wanted, but it always comes and it's always perfect. God is not going to just hand you something without it being precisely what he wants it to be and you can rest on that. 
Because he created us, he can use his finely tuned wisdom and knowledge to plant dreams and ideas into our minds and without a second thought we come to believe that those thoughts and dreams were our own idea. We are so determined to believe we are in charge of everything that we fail to give him the credit he deserves. That is the pure and simple truth.

Don't misunderstand what I just wrote; "He did not make us to be mechanical robots that just march around doing preordained things. Our Father God created us to have fellowship with him. It is our birthright to have an actual relationship with our God."(From the book Hearing God by James W. Goll) But it takes two to complete that relationship and the more time you spend alone with him, the greater that relationship will become. Go into seclusion with God. Talk to him. read the Bible, listen to podcasts from good teachers and ask him to change anything about you that he knows needs changing and you are guaranteed to see miracles in your own life. I promise. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: He Leaves the Ninety Nine

Sanctuary of Tranquility: He Leaves the Ninety Nine: As this year draws to a close, I can't help reflect on my current situation and the circumstances of countless of others in this world...

He Leaves the Ninety Nine

As this year draws to a close, I can't help reflect on my current situation and the circumstances of countless of others in this world who are struggling, yet have something in common... a tremendous faith and love for God. 

I have traveled a rough and ragged road in the past year, as have so many others that I know. There have been days when I have been angry with God for putting me through such a season; a season that has been trying, and some days has even felt like a punishment. 

What is this all been about? 

It may not appear from the outside that my season, or yours, is tough, but Jesus knows your truth, he is with you through all of it.  

One thing I know for sure is that because I am here, writing this, even though it has been difficult, it has been a season of blessings. For there are Always Blessings. Always things to give thanks for. 

Those blessings can be something as simple as the fact that God woke us up this morning, he gave us a breath, a drink of water, a roof over our head, a warm place to sleep and on and up from there. It doesn't matter what we have or don't have...the Bible says when we have God, we have all we need. 

That being said; Our Father God is one tough customer, he has expectations of us which can be difficult, almost too difficult sometimes. 

He expects us to get through situations we are certain we haven't the strength to accomplish; hard things that make us want to give up, quit and move on. 

I can't tell you how many times I have felt like my giving up day is drawing very near and I have even told him so. I have given him deadlines, making pretend alternative plans so in case things don't change soon, or in case his promises don't pan out, I will have something to fall back on. Something, quicker and easier so that I can pretend I never heard his voice.

I bet he thinks I’m really funny, I know he thinks I am impatient! Perhaps when he says "soon" I don't envision months or years. But the Bible says that God is not a liar and he always comes through! He has a keen sense of humor and loves to be praised. He knows us each very well, and he is always one jump ahead of any foolish, stubborn plans we make on our own.

I can not lie and say that I have never doubted God. I must be honest and say that I have foolishly doubted him and he has shown me time and time again that He is not like a human who will lie and use and abuse us for his own gain and then walk away. 

So if I l were to be the one to up and walk away; call it quits (which I could never do because that would mean I would be failing him), it would be about me, not Him. And that right there is what keeps me going. You see, although I am no saint,  I do want to be a tough customer just like him. 

It's true what they say, there  is no turning back. Once you love him and feel his mighty love for you, turning back is not an option, and there is only one way...

His way.

So the best thing to do is rest in that and be as patient as you possibly can be. 

am blessed to wake up many mornings with some truly great music playing in my head. I know it is Jesus who provides that very music, for the songs I am hearing reflect his great love for me.        Sometimes  when I am sad, mad, frightened or  frustrated and I cry out to him and when I wake up   I just know he has been right there by me all night and I feel blessed and very content.

Good Good Father" from Chris Tomlin is one of his favorites, he plays it frequently.  Other mornings I hear Steffany Gretzinger telling me that Jesus is and should be The King of my Heart.                            When  a song pops into my head during the day, I know he is reassuring me, especially when I am having a rough day and I am exhausted or frightened. It is his way of telling me to keep going, and not to give up. He whispers, "I know I'm making you fight a tough fight, walk a tough walk but you can do it. You have this, this is cake." And I know then that I do have it. I can do it. I can deal with any and all personal or financial struggles, get up before dawn and drive through any storm, deal with the most difficult of situations and be kind to the most difficult of people. I know I can overcome whatever I have to... because He Loves me. 

He loves music and is aware of the music we like. One of his favorite songs  is Reckless Love. Its such an amazing song that explains his mighty love for us in a way our tired, worn out brains can understand.  When I hear the song and feel his great love, I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! 

Read these words and listen to the song....

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me. You have been so, so Good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me. You have been so, so Kind to me.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, Still You give yourself away Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.
When I was your foe, still Your love fought for me, You have been so, so Good to me. 

When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me. You have been so, so Kind to me 

Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. 
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine. 
I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still You give yourself away. 
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

There's no shadow You won't light up, Mountain You won't climb up, Coming after me.
There's no wall You won't kick down, No lie You won't tear down, Coming after me.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. 
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine. 
I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still You give yourself away. 
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

The lyrics to this song reference the Parable of the Lost Sheep which is told by Jesus, and recorded twice in Scripture, first in Matthew 18:12-14 and again in Luke 15:1-7

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable
4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Source: Bible Gateway

That says it all right there... 
it doesn't matter who you are, what you've been through, or what you've done. 

You are one of those 100 sheep and if you get lost, even for a minute, He is coming after you. He is only a call away; "Jesus, please help me. I need you!" 

I have been like Peter on the lake;  I looked away for a split second and lost sight of him and found myself calling, "Please help me! I can't make it without you my dear, sweet, Father." 

He always knows where we are and what we're enduring and he always has his eyes on us. 

So please, keep your focus on Him and try not to take your eyes off of Him, but if and when you do; and it does happen just like it happened to Peter, Jesus will find you and he will rejoice and never let you go.

So remember...

There's no shadow You won't light up, Mountain You won't climb up coming after me.  There's no wall You won't kick down, No lie You won't tear down coming after me  Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, Oh, it chases me down, fights  'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn't earn it . I don't deserve it. 

 Still You give yourself away...

We might not be able to see the end of our current situation, or understand why he is allowing it, but he can and does. Remember always that His ways are nothing like our ways, and His thoughts are nothing like ours...we tend to forget that, and it's a good thing to remember. Don't try to put him in a box, because first of all, there are none like him and secondly, there aren't any boxes that can hold him. No matter what your circumstance or situation is...know this, if you keep your eyes on him and make him your number one will see the blessings, even if they are invisible to those around you. 

Blessings for a Joy filled New Year...
    Keep your eyes on Him, His are on you! 

Jeremiah 23:3-4 
"But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where 
I have driven them and bring them back to their folds and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they will fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking." says the LORD

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Paul to the Corinthians 

About a month ago I picked up a counted cross stitch kit while out shopping and began working on it. I thought it would be something fun to revisit as the weather cools off, plus as it is a great passtime.      The kit I selected is based upon 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 to be specific. A message from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians                                                                                                                        What a wonderful opportunity it has been to revisit those words spoken by Paul to the people of Corin and to truly reflect on their meaning. This scripture is most frequently associated with wedding vows, however, Pauls thoughts were far from weddings or ceremonial vows. It was Paul’s intent, to teach the people of Corin how to treat one another...with charity.                                                               Charity is defined as goodwill, compassion, consideration, concern, kindness, kindheartedness, tenderness, tenderheartedness, sympathy, indulgence, tolerance, leniency, and caritas which is Latin for Christian love of human kind, ‘charity’
In todays world when we hear the word charity most, clutch their wallets tightly as their brains immediately go to the poor, broken, unfortunate, helpless, diseased, aborted, beaten, abused and on and on.
The true meaning is totally eluded.                                                                                                  Charity is in fact, the voluntary giving of help and isn’t that what we all deeply desire from the people in our lives? Our parents, spouses or significent others, children and friends?
Although I am uncertain which Bible version my cross stich is, I have chosen to use the King James; where the Apostle Paul refered to love as ‘charity’ in his original writings and the Message, which is quite contemporary and has a lovely and interesting view and flow.
The Way of Love.                                                                                                                            Though I speak with human eloquence; the tongue of men and angelic ecstasy, but have not ‘charity’,    I am as sounding brass or a tingling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy (I speak Gods words with power, revealing his mysteries and knowledge) and though I have faith that I can say to a mountain, “move” and it moves, without charity (love), I am nothing.                                                             If I give everything I own to help the poor, and even give my body to be burned at the stake like a martyr, if I don’t love, it has been of no profit to me.                                                                             So no matter what I say, what I believe and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.                                     Charity suffereth long (never gives up), is always kind (never me first) nor does it want what it does not have (never jealous)                                                                                                                       Charity never behaves irritably (flys off the handle)  It doesn’t ever keep score, it puts up with everything, (endures all things). Is always honest (speaks truth in all things) and fair, (never rejoicing in wrong but always rejoicing in right) Love Trusts God Always and Always looks for the best and never looks back but keeps on going to the end (love never ends)

A good excercise that only takes a few minutes is to read this again and replace the words love or charity with “I” See how that feels. God will test your heart, (he’s really good at that) and it will serve as a good starting place for all of us when we ask God to help us be more like him.

                   Blessings for a truly wonderful Holiday Season.