Porcupine People

Funny Porcupines_4

We’ve all been around them – porcupine people; in fact, we’ve all been one to someone else at some point in our lives. We are imperfect people living in a world filled with imperfect people!

 

The quills of a porcupine are used as a defense mechanism to detour predators from getting too close to them. They are laid flat on the body until something comes near and they feel threatened and then the quills are raised to scare the other animal or person away.

 

Many times in our own lives we form relationships with people and all seems to be going well until something is said or done that threatens the security of the other person. The quills are raised and if we aren’t careful we will get too close and experience the pain of a stick!

 

All of us have past hurts that we carry through life. The quills or barbs of pain that we experience can be revisited by something that is said or done to invoke that same feeling of fear, pain or sense of insecurity. So, how can we avoid the sting of a porcupine person? And how can we live our lives lovingly without being a porcupine person?

 

1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

 

Walk in love towards other people. Remember that just as you have sensitive areas in your life so they have in theirs as well. Love covers people with a blanket of security. It says to another that we understand their pain and respect their feelings. Love makes allowances for those times when people are vulnerable and subject to weaknesses.

One porcupine person to another

Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

 

There are times when I’ve wished I could go back and pull out the quills of pain that I, as a porcupine person myself, have inflicted upon another, but often the pain is too great for that person to receive an apology or to forgive an offense. I pray that when I have done that that God will help me to not only forgive those who have hurt me but also to restore the relationships that I have had with those I have hurt. Sometimes that is not possible, but as the Word says, “if it is possible”, as much as it depends on me that I am to live in peace with all men.

 

Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

 

Go the extra mile; love them, even if it is from a distance; bless them; do good to them and pray for them. It’s hard to continue to hold a grudge against someone you are loving, blessing, being good to and praying for. Boundaries may have to be set up to guard your own heart and keep the distance so you are not placed in harm’s way, but love can still be shown from a distance in how you speak about that person, how you smile at them when encountering them, and in how you pray for them.

 

Matthew 6:14, 15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

 

Removing the barbs of hurtful encounters is done through forgiveness. It releases us from the pain and guilt of painful encounters with porcupine people and sets us free from the wounds that have been inflicted by people who are hurting within themselves. Porcupine people are often just reacting to hurts in their own lives that they are dealing with at that particular time. When the quills come up it is an indication that there is something in their heart that God wants to deal with. He is just bringing it to their attention. When that particular issue is not dealt with it will come up again and again until it has been resolved. We can’t change things that have been done to us but we do have control over our reaction to those things. Forgiveness allows us the freedom to move on without being tied to an offense. According to Matthew 6:15 it also clears our path for forgiveness with our heavenly Father. We need to forgive others so He will forgive us!

Dog with porcupine quills

Pray that God will heal the hurts in both of your hearts! Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. Wounds from the quills of a porcupine person can leave lasting effects, but God is the Healer. He heals the pain involved with the barbs of words that have been spoken that can’t be taken back. Emotional wounds can sometimes be more painful than physical wounds. They have a tendency to heal more slowly and leave scars and wounds that can be re-opened if not completely healed. But God is able to remove even the remembrance of those wounds. He heals completely and brings lasting peace into our hearts.

Peace is not the absence of conflict

Father, I thank You that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. I pray today for those who have been hurt by words that have been spoken through times of misunderstandings and seasons of adversity in all of our lives. I pray that You will touch those who have been hurt through relationships that have gone sour and offenses that have been harbored in the hearts of those who have been injured. I ask You to set the captives free from the lasting effects of those offenses. And may we all be people of love living in peace with each other. May we consider the interests of the other person before our own and exercise forgiveness and understanding for their weaknesses. I pray that we will not be porcupine people but that we will cover the sins of hurtful words with our love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Believe!

BElieve

Isaiah 43:10-13 NLT “But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the LORD, “And you are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God; there never has been and never will be. I am the LORD, and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your deliverance; I declared what I would do, and then I did it—I saved you. No foreign god has ever done this before. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the LORD. “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can oppose what I do. No one can reverse my actions.”

 

God says in this portion of scripture that there are three things that we have been chosen in Him to do: 1) we have been chosen to know Him; 2) we have been chosen to believe in Him; 3) we have been chosen to understand that He alone is God.

 

It’s imperative as children of God, those who are called by His name, His people, His own family, that we know Him, believe in Him and understand that He alone is God! There is no way that we can be effective witnesses and serve the One true and living God without these three things being prevalent in our lives.

 

We must know Him! Jesus said in John 17:3: And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. (NLT)

 

What does it mean to “know Him”? The Greek word for “know” in that verse is the word “ginosko” and it means a knowledge obtained not by mere intellectual activity, but by operation of the Holy Spirit upon acceptance of Christ. This knowledge is not marked as finality in the fact that there is an initial meeting and a continuous growth process in knowing Him. This verb is the same word used for a husband knowing his wife sexually. It is a progressive knowledge learned through experiencing life with someone. We come to know God initially through accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord, but then we grow in knowing Him through experiencing Him as we fellowship with Him through prayer, Bible study and fellowship with the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. There is an intimacy involved in “knowing God” that moves beyond intellect or mental assent into the realm of spiritual intimacy that comes as we grow closer to Him through our relationship with Jesus Christ. We have been chosen to know Him!

 

We have been chosen to believe in Him! The Hebrew word for “believe” in Isaiah 43:10 is the word “aman” and it means to be firm, endure, be faithful, be true, stand fast, trust, have belief, believe. In the passive stem, “aman” has several emphases. First, it indicates that a subject is “lasting” or “enduring”. It also signifies the element of “being firm” or “trustworthy”. In one scripture, Isaiah 22:23, aman refers to a “firm” place, a place into which a peg will be driven so that it will be immovable. The peg will remain firmly anchored, even though it is pushed so hard that it breaks off at the point of entry. The word also means “trustworthy”. In all these different meanings we see one common strand of understanding: we have been chosen to believe in Him because He is the One person that we can know will be faithful to us regardless of what we are experiencing in our lives. He is the anchor that we can ground ourselves to knowing that He will never change; He is always enduring and trustworthy! We can be assured that God will not move away from us or change His feelings about us. He is faithful!

 

The first biblical occurrence for “aman” is found in Genesis 15:6: And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous because of his faith. It was not primarily in God’s words that he believed, but in God Himself. In other words, Abram came to experience a personal relationship with God rather than an impersonal relationship with His promises. We can read God’s word and know that He is faithful to His word and His promises are true, but until we “believe” God, knowing that He will do what He has said in His word and fulfill it to us personally, that we will experience “knowing Him and believing Him. He is a personal God that wants His children to know Him individually and trust Him to do what He has said He will do in each of our lives. We are chosen to “believe in Him” as in “trusting Him”, personally!

 

We have been chosen to understand that He alone is God! When God gives a promise and says He is going to do something, there is no person on earth or demon in hell that can reverse that promise. He is faithful to do what He has said He will do. When we pray and ask God to take care of something for us we can be assured that He will do that. In praying and seeking His will in a situation, when God gives you the scripture that promises His provision for your need ,you can be assured that if you believe, as in “trust” Him by standing on His promise and expectantly waiting for its manifestation, that He will do it. Abram “believed” God; he didn’t just believe “in God”, but he believed that what God said He would do and he waited 25 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise. That doesn’t mean that Abram sat down and didn’t do anything while he waited for God to fulfill His promise. This word “aman” in it’s New Testament counterpart is “pisteuo”. It means to trust in, have faith in, be fully convinced of, acknowledge, and rely on. It expresses reliance upon and a personal trust that produces obedience. It includes submission and a positive confession of the lordship of Jesus. We see “pisteuo” as not just a trust in or reliance upon God, but believing Him so much that we act upon that belief through something that we do. We act as if the promise has already been manifested. We see an example of this in Romans 10:9, 10:

 

(NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 

In this scripture we have a perfect example of “believe”. There is two parts to it: believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth. So, we see that to “believe” is more than just waiting for God to do what He has promised. There is an action that goes with what we are believing in our hearts. In this case, we speak out what we are believing in our heart that He is going to do based on His promises. Many times when Jesus healed someone he would ask them to do something to show their belief in what He was doing in their lives.

 

Matthew 12:13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out and it was restored as whole as the other.

 

Jesus often said to those to whom received His healing touch that it was their “faith” that had made them whole. They believed in Him, reached out to him in faith and He proclaimed that it was their action tied to their belief that drew upon His healing power and made them well. We have been chosen to understand that He alone is God and no one can oppose Him or reverse His actions! When we come to Him in faith believing that He will do what He has said we can know that when we act on His promises He is faithful to do them!

 

Do you know God? Are you believing Him for specific promises that He has made to you? Do you understand that He alone is God and what He has said no one can oppose or reverse His actions? God wants you to know these things! He has chosen you to be in Christ Jesus, alive spiritually in Him so you can have a living and vital relationship with Him. These are all promises that are fulfilled as you grown in your relationship with Him. But it begins with an initial introduction to the Lord Jesus Christ. If you haven’t received Him as your own personal Lord and Savior that is where the relationship begins. Ask Him into your heart today and He will come in through the presence of His Spirit to live with you and walk through every day with you.

 

Father, I bring those before You who may not know You personally. I pray that today will be their day of salvation. I ask You to draw them by Your Spirit into a living and vital relationship with Jesus as they pray to ask Him into their hearts. I thank You for touching them, for showing them their need to receive Him as their own personal Lord and Savior. Father, I pray for those who may be struggling with faith issues this morning. I pray that You will show them the promises in Your word that meet the need in their lives and help them to stand firmly as they believe You to bring those promises into manifestation. Father, open blinded eyes this morning to see that You are God and there is nothing too difficult for You. Touch hearts and bring people to salvation, healing, deliverance and freedom through Your Spirit’s power in their lives. Father, move in their lives in ways that they will see and understand that it is You and not any coincidence or chance happening. Bring glory and honor unto Yourself in each person’s life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Fruit Or Gifts?

2 Corinthians 5 17

II Corinthians 5:17 AMP Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

 

There’s something special that takes place in a person’s spirit when Jesus comes to be their own personal Savior and Lord. The Bible says they become a new creature; their old previous moral and spiritual condition becomes new and fresh. The heart of that person that was previously spiritually dead now becomes alive. We call that act of rebirth as regeneration.

 

Titus 3:5 AMP He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [th] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit.

 

It is in that moment of acceptance of what Jesus did on our behalf in payment of the penalty for our sin that we become “born again”; born of the Spirit, and regenerated into a new creation in Christ Jesus. Spiritually we become a new person. We look the same on the outside, but the heart is changed. Our spirits are then indwelt by the Spirit of God; the Holy Spirit who comes to live within that person.

 

Regeneration – Reproduction; the act of producing anew. In theology, new birth by the grace of God; that change by which the will and natural enmity of man to God and his law are subdued, and a principle of supreme love to God and his law, or holy affections, are implanted in the heart. (definition from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language)

 

When the Holy Spirit comes to live within us He brings His fruit, His character and nature with Him. We are now indwelt by God’s Spirit and so our DNA, so to speak, is changed. We now have the DNA of our Father, God.

 

What is DNA? It is deoxyribonucleic acid, or better known as DNA. We all know that elephants only give birth to little elephants, giraffes to giraffes, dogs to dogs and so on for every type of living creature. But why is this so?

 

The answer lies in a molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which contains the biological instructions that make each species unique. DNA, along with the instructions it contains, is passed from adult organisms to their offspring during reproduction.

According to God’s Word when we become new creations in Christ Jesus our spiritual DNA is changed. We have now been born of God’s Spirit and His DNA flows through our veins as it did in the original creation of man in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 1:27 AMP So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.

When sin entered the heart of man the spiritual nature of man in relation to God changed. The human nature, or the soul, became the driving force in man’s decision making process. He no longer could commune spiritually with His God as he had done before sin entered his heart. Spiritually he was considered dead. But that changes and he becomes alive spiritually when he receives Jesus as Savior and Lord. The channel of communication is once again established and the spirit of man is quickened or made alive. Now he can relate spirit to Spirit through the indwelling of God’s Spirit within him.

So, the Holy Spirit, when He comes to indwell man’s reborn spirit, brings with Him His fruit, or His character and nature, the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22, 23 AMP But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].

Once regeneration takes place the Holy Spirit begins working to change the character and nature of the person that has received Jesus as Savior and Lord. Even though at salvation, or the initial moment that a person is changed spiritually to become a new creation, the process of changing the character and nature of that person is worked out as a process. We are being changed from faith to faith and from glory to glory as the Holy Spirit works on our character development.

2 Corinthians 3:18 AMP And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit works in us to change our character and nature to match the Lord’s when He comes to live within us.

The gifts of the Spirit are totally different. They have nothing to do with a person’s character and nature; they are endowments for service. The Holy Spirit gives gifts as He wills to do the work of ministry and are given to build up or edify the church. They are described in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. Love as discussed in 1 Corinthians 13 is what makes the gifts of God’s Spirit work. I like to think of the love chapter and it’s description in 1 Corinthians 13 as the mortar that holds the bricks of God’s gifts together. Without love, which is a “fruit”, or character and nature of God’s Spirit, we cannot function properly in displaying the “gifts”, or endowments of the Spirit even though He may give us with one. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given as they are needed for the work of ministry in ministering to people in need.

1 Corinthians 12 1

1 Corinthians 12:1; 4 AMP NOW ABOUT the spiritual gifts (the special endowments of supernatural energy), brethren, I do not want you to be misinformed. Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments (gifts, extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit) and they vary, but the [Holy] Spirit remains the same.

Gifts – Greek word charisma. Strong’s #5486. Related to other words derived from the root char. Char is joy, cheerfulness, delight. Charis is grace, goodwill, undeserved favor. Charisma is a gift of grace, a free gift, divine gratuity, spiritual endowment, miraculous faculty. It is especially used to designate the gifts of the Spirit.

The “gifts” of the Spirit and the “fruit” of the Spirit are two totally different things. The “fruit” speaks of our character and nature development and the “gifts” speak of special endowments for service that the Holy Spirit gives during times of need in people’s lives.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10 describes the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We will not go into them today, but verse 11 tells us how they are distributed.

1 Corinthians 12:11 AMP All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses.

The gifts of the Spirit are given to a person as He chooses, not as we choose. They are His special endowments and He knows who needs to manifest that particular gift at that particular time. He gives them as He sees the need. The fruit of the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is resident within the believer and is developed through time and experiences. We are molded into the character and nature of Jesus as we live day by day under the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our character and nature is changed as we yield to the work that He does within us. The gifts that He gives for service are given at special times when needed to manifest His power to supernaturally change a person according to their need at that moment.

The “fruit” and the “gifts” are often viewed as one in the same, but they are different. Growth is a process and God’s Spirit works in each one of us to develop and change us into the image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. We are changed over a period of time. The gifts of His Spirit come upon a person for supernatural use. One, then we see as happening over a period of time and one instantaneously through the manifestation of His Spirit. It is important that we know the difference because we sometimes become disappointed that people who accept Jesus into their hearts do not immediately exhibit the change that has taken place in their spirits. We expect them to immediately be totally different. They are changed spiritually immediately but the manifestation of that regeneration within them takes time as the Holy Spirit develops His character and nature within them.

Philippians 1:6 AMP And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

The Holy Spirit is always at work in each one of us working to develop us into the image of Jesus. Don’t become disappointed when you do not see a complete change immediately as it is a work in progress. He’s still working on you and me!

Father, I thank You for the process of change that You work in each one of us as we yield to Your Spirit within us. I pray that we each will cooperate with His power to change us into the image of Jesus. Father, I pray, also, that we will yield to Your Spirit as He desires to endow us with His gifts for the work of ministry. I pray that we will be ready to receive that gift when He sees the need for its use. Only You, Lord, know what needs to be given for the needs of the people around us. Father, I thank You that You are ever changing us and working through the situations around us to perfect Your work in each one of us, to Your honor and glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

A Child Of The King

A Daughter Of The King

I’m so thankful that my heavenly Father loves me and cherishes me as His daughter.

 

God wants to be intimately involved with our lives and He loves us with a perfect Father’s love. There is no fear in His love because fear involves torment and causes us to run from His presence. How can we say we love Him when we are afraid to come before Him for one reason or another. We see that in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned. One of the first things they did was to hide from their heavenly Father. Instead of running into His arms of love and giving Him the opportunity to wipe away their fears, they ran away from Him.

 

For years I have always spent a special time with the Lord first thing in the morning, and I still do. However, some days I’m not as alert as others and some days it takes me a little longer to get moving. It’s in those times that I feel less connected to my heavenly Father. These times affect my ability to enjoy my fellowship with my Father.

 

One morning recently I experienced one of these times when I just didn’t feel as aware of His presence as I usually do. In praying about this situation the Lord spoke ever so gently to me and ask me how I would treat one of my children if they got up not feeling well and was having a difficult time of interacting with me. And I responded that I would take my little one in my arms and rock her/him speaking tender words of love and affection for her/him while she/he took their time in waking up, stretching and acclimating to their day. It was then that He brought to my memory these verses in Psalm 103:

 

Psalm 103:13, 14 NKJV As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

 

Then He spoke this to my heart:

 

“You are free to be yourself, Child. I have set you free to live as I direct you. You are free to come into My presence any time you want. I am always here waiting to meet with you. It’s okay for you to take your time to prepare yourself to meet with Me. I am not a harsh taskmaster who demands your attention before you do anything else. Relax in My love and enjoy being with Me. Let your hair down, so to speak, and relax. Envision your child coming to you. You don’t demand their every moment or expect them to give up all other life activities for you. And neither do I, My Child. I created you and placed you in the world in which you live. I created your body to function. Every season of your life is different from the last. Don’t feel that you must go through life the same way every day. I am not into formulas; I want a living relationship with you. I understand your moods, your ups and downs and your physical needs and limitations. Relax and enjoy Me as I enjoy you. You are the apple of My eye. I delight in you. Don’t allow condemnation from the enemy to push you away from Me. Come to Me and I will refresh you.”

 

In reflecting on His tender words of love I am reminded of some scriptures that describe who we are as His children.

 

John 1:12, 13 NKJV But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

Those who are born again, or who have received Jesus Christ as their own personal Lord and Savior have become children of God. The scripture says that He gave them the “right” to become His children.

 

Right – Greek word exousia – one of four words defining “power” in God’s word. This definition means the authority or right to act, ability, privilege, capacity, delegated authority.

 

As children of God we have been given the authority and right to act as His children. Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:14 that we are named after our Father because we are in His family.

 

Ephesians 3:14 NKJV For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

 

My children, when growing up, carried the name of their Father; my son still does. They were known by their family name and I love them because they are my children. They are not perfect, but they are mine. As a mother I look past their faults and love them because they are my children. God loves us because we are His children. We carry His name: Christians, Christ followers. Just as I am delighted in my children, so He is delighted in those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ and have become His children. We have been given the right to act as His children because we ARE His children!

 

Psalm 139:17, 18 NKJV How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.

 

If you are having a difficult time understanding God’s love for you I pray that you will take the time to talk with Him about it. Get to know your heavenly Father as a loving Father, not a God who is far way.

 

Galatians 4:6, 7 NLT And because you Gentiles have become His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father. Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, everything He has belongs to you.

 

Father, I thank You for Your great love that has brought me into Your family. I thank You for Jesus laying down His life that I might have life through Him. I thank You that I am Yours and You know me intimately. You know my going out and my coming in and even the words on my tongue before I speak them. You are intimately acquainted with me because I am Yours. Thank You for loving me unconditionally. Father, I pray for those this morning who may be living “less loved” than what You would like for them to live. I pray that You will open their eyes of understanding to see how much You love them and how pleased You are with them. May they experience the love of God that passes all understanding and live in the freedom that You have given us as Your children. Thank You, Father, for being patient and kind with us when we fail You. Thank You for forgiving us when we sin and fall short of Your glory. Thank You, Father, for giving us the right to be Your children. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

Fear Verses Faith

Matthew 8 26

Fear and faith cannot both be in operation at the same time!  If fear is present faith isn’t.

II Timothy 1:7  NKJV  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

When fear is present the mind is clouded and foggy.  But God says that He didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but one of the things that He did give us was a sound mind.

Sound mind – Greek word sophronismos – A combination of good judgment, disciplined though patterns, and the ability to understand and make right decisions.  It includes the qualities of self-control and self-discipline.

When fear comes the mind loses all perspective of what is taking place and goes immediately to the worst case scenario.  The devil plays off of our fears and weaknesses.  He looks for loopholes to get a foothold in our lives.  But faith sends fear away.  If faith is present fear can’t stay.  The mind becomes disciplined and self-controlled, good judgment and optimism of the future comes to the forefront.  Hope takes the place of fear and God becomes bigger than our fears.

Will fear push God to the side in your life this morning?  Or will faith takes its place and exalt the name of Jesus above all others.  Fear is a name and it is under the name of Jesus!

Father, I thank You that I do not have to fear what lies ahead for You go before me into every situation.  I thank You for your power within me is greater than the one who is in the world.  Father, I pray for those this morning who may be afraid of what is happening in their lives.  I ask You to reveal Your greatness to them and give them faith in the place of fear.  Father, I thank You for giving each one of us a measure of faith to meet the obstacles that lie ahead of us.  I pray that we will each one exercise our faith to believe, beginning with the small things and working up to the big things in our lives.  Father, You’ve said that when we speak with our faith that even though its just the size of a mustard seed that it can move trees and pull them up by the roots and plant them in the sea.  Father, may we take that little faith that we might have in what is happening in our lives and use it to effect change!  Thank You for Your Spirit’s power and ability within us that does exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or imagine!  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

The Father’s Heart

1 John 4 10

1 John 4:9, 10 NLT God showed how much He loves us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 

We hear “I love you” coming out of people’s mouths so much any more. They often speak of “loving this or that” and terms of endearment for people, places and things are all categorized under “I love…..” But what kind of love is being exhibited in each of those instances and how deep and true is the love that is being spoken of? God’s kind of love is a love that is unconditional, without limits, sacrificial, selfless and true.

 

The word for love in this depth and magnitude in the Greek is “agape” and it means: an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good of the other person, no matter what he does. It is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object. Agape is a love by choice and it refers to the will rather than the emotion. Agape describes the unconditional love God has for the world.

 

In this description and definition of the word used for “love” or “loved” in the above verse we see the Father heart of God; a heart that gives without expecting anything in return; that sacrifices the best for the worst of us; that goes beyond the limits of expectation in provision for those upon whom He bestows His benevolent love. God exhibits the extreme definition of “agape” love. We see this further in 1 John 3:16:

 

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

 

It is in seeing the picture of Jesus hanging on that cross, saturated with the sin of mankind that we see love in it’s extreme demonstration! This is how we know love. This extreme love is not a feeling, although feelings often accompany it; it is a choice to do the best for the one you love. The Father heart of God chooses to do the best for us. That’s why He gave Jesus to die for our sin. He knew we couldn’t do anything to deliver us from the consequences of the sin of mankind. We had to have a sinless lamb to shed His blood that we might be set free from our sin. Jesus was that sacrifice!

 

In looking at the heart of God and understanding this extreme love we come to the realization that we often use whatever example we have of a parent in relating to God as a heavenly Father. Often our earthly example is skewed, imperfect and lacking in this unconditional, sacrificial love. It is then through a clouded lens that we see God and transfer those misconceptions of a parent onto Him. We reduce Him to our picture of a parent and often believe that His love is as imperfect as our earthly parent.

 

But God is a “perfect” parent! The scripture tells us in 1 John 4:8 that God is love; He doesn’t just love, but His whole being is love. You can see a description of Him in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 where Paul speaks of the attributes of love.

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever,….

 

This word for love in this portion of scripture is the same Greek word, “agape”, and can be used to describe the love that God has for us. Since God is love, his inherent characteristics can be identified through inserting His name in this portion of scripture where it uses the word “love”. In doing this it is not meant to be changing His word, but simply to give us a better understanding of how God is, what He acts like and how He relates to His children. So we could say that God is patient and kind. God is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. God does not demand His own way. God is not irritable, and keeps no record of when He has been wronged. God is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. God never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. God will last forever,…

 

Is that the picture that you hold within your heart of God? Do you see Him never giving up on you; always loving and kind, patient with you? Or has your understanding of God seen Him as a harsh taskmaster, ready to whack you if you did something wrong? Have you related to God as “the man upstairs” or your loving Father, who delights in you?

Zephaniah 3 17

Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV “The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

This is a correct picture of God, our heavenly Father. He is here with us, never giving up on us. He is the Mighty God who saves! He gave His very own Son to die for you and me that we might have eternal life; that we might live forever in His presence enjoying the benefits of the abundant life that Jesus died to give us. He rejoices over us with gladness! He quiets us with His love. When we are hurting He hurts with us and when we are exciting and joyous He rejoices with us.

 

There are two different Hebrew words for “rejoice” in that verse. The first one is “sus” and it means to rejoice, be glad, be greatly happy. God is greatly happy with you! He is not mad at you and He doesn’t hold grudge against you when you do something wrong. God rejoices over you!

 

The second word for “rejoice” in that verse is the Hebrew word “gil” and it means to joy, rejoice, be glad, be joyful. It contains the suggestion of “dancing for joy,” or “leaping for joy,” since the verb originally meant “to spin around with intense motion.”

 

God dances for joy over His children. He spins around with intense motion and leaps for joy over those that He calls His own. God delights in you! Can you see that? He is a proud papa! His sees His children as the apple of His eye!

 

Zechariah 2:8 NKJV For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”

 

Our heavenly Father has each one of us inscribed on the palms of His hands. He will never forget you!

 

Isaiah 49:15, 16 NKJV “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”

 

God’s love far surpasses the love that even a mother can have for the child to which she has given birth. Human love can be swayed and sometimes emotions or fear cause a human mother to push away the child of her womb, but God never does that! He never gives up on His child!

 

Since we have seen earthly parents at times give up on their children and that is the only example we have of parenthood, we may have a tendency to transfer that imperfect understanding of a parent over onto our heavenly Father, who loves perfectly. But He doesn’t exhibit His love for us in that manner.

 

Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”

 

God loves us with an everlasting love; a love that never quits, never gives up, never condemns and never leaves us. His love for us goes on and on and on….. It is with lovingkindness that He draws us to Himself. He is not a harsh God; He is a loving Father.

 

If you have had a misunderstanding of God and His love for you, I pray that today you will begin to see Him as He really is.

 

Father, I thank You for the love that You show us. You love with a perfect love, Father, and I pray that we will each one begin to interact with You as the loving Father that You are. I pray that those who do not understand Your love will have their spiritual eyes opened this morning to see You as You really are. I pray that they will receive the love that You have shown them through the sacrifice of Your Son and that they will be drawn to You through Him and receive Jesus as their own personal Lord and Savior. Father, open the eyes of the blind; restore what has been stolen from those who have suffered at the hand of their enemy. Father, heal those who are sick and hurting. Establish your kingdom in the lives of Your children! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Seeds For Success

Seeds for success

Mark 4:14-20 NKJV The sower sows the word. “And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; “and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, “and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. “But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit; some thirty-fold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

God’s word is the seed that is sown into the hearts of people. It is when it reaches the heart that action takes place. The seed, God’s word, is good, but the heart of people sometimes impede it from taking action, growing and bearing fruit. It is up to the person to make sure that their heart is ready to receive the seed. We plow up the fallow ground of our hearts through prayer, asking God to show us things that would hinder the growth of His word. We also prepare our hearts to receive by yielding to God’s Spirit within us and telling Him He is welcome to come and convict us of sin that might stop us from receiving the Word of God. Holy Spirit also fellowships with us as we spend time with the Lord in prayer. We prepare our hearts to receive the seed of God’s word and then when it falls on good ground it bears fruit in our lives.

One of the things that works against us in receiving the seed into our hearts is the devil, Satan, who comes only to steal, kill and destroy. Verse 15 says that he comes immediately to try to steal it away from us. We protect the word that has been sown in our hearts by submitting to God and resisting the devil. (James 4:7) Our hearts are also protected through watching, being self-controlled, and resisting him being steadfast in the faith. (1 Peter 5:8, 9) Faith in God and exercising our ability to believe and receive His word prepares our heart to receive the good seed that is sown in our hearts. The walk of faith becomes a fight when the devil comes to steal God’s word out of our hearts. We must protect the seed!

When the word falls on stony ground it’s like a flash in the pan, so to speak. The person is excited about what God has just spoken to them, but because they haven’t taken the time to develop what they already know about God the new seed has a slim chance of surviving. When trouble comes they stumble because they haven’t developed a deep enough root bed for the seed to develop and grow. They don’t have the tenacity to fight the good fight of faith and win the battle. Obstacles in their path become bigger than the God that they serve. Trouble becomes the focus instead of Jesus who has overcome the world for us! Freedom lies within our relationship with Him, but it’s what we set before our mind’s eye that we will follow. If the vision that we have is that of trouble and having no way out, then we will follow that path. But if God’s word and the strength that comes from drawing from the Lord Jesus’ ability to empower us to win becomes our focus then we will succeed.

Then we see the cares of this world and the desire for material blessings choking the word that has been sown in the hearts of those who are described as having thorns, or what I see as mixed beliefs. The person with this heart doesn’t know for sure what they believe. They flit from one hot spot to another, not taking the time to focus on the truth of God’s word and allow it to judge between what they are hearing and believing from each different teaching. God’s word is sharper than a two-edged sword dividing between the soul and spirit and it judges even the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) It is as we allow the Holy Spirit to bring life to the Word that we know is true that we find freedom from the cares of this world. That comes through diligently studying and applying God’s word to our lives. There are many false teachings that have come from different groups through the years that brings thorns into our lives when we receive them as truth!

The only ground that provides a good seed bed for the Word of God is the ground that is steeped in humility, ready to receive and act on the seed that is sown into the heart. 1 Peter 5:5 says “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” It is a heart that is after God’s heart; humble and ready to receive that makes good ground that when the seed is sown into it becomes a fruitful field. It is a heart that has died to it’s own desires in order to live for the desires of the heavenly Father. A life that is lived for the world is a life that will be lost, but one that has made the choice to live for God will live.

John 12 24

John 12:24 -26 NKJV “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. “He who loves his life will lost it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

The Word of God is filled with seeds for success. What will we do with them? Will we be a people with a good heart that is ready to receive His word and act on it so it will bear a good harvest?

Father, I thank You for Your Word. I pray that my heart may be good ground for it to grow in and that when the seed of Your word is sown into my heart it will take root and grow and bear a hundred fold harvest in my life. Father, I ask You to help me see the areas that I need to submit more to You. I pray that Your Spirit might convict me of those things that are hindering me from being a person with a heart that is ready to receive Your word. Show me, Father, what I need to change to be more ready to receive and bear a fruitful harvest through my life. Thank You, Father, for Your grace, mercy and love! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

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