A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Hate is such a strong word, isn’t it?  As Christians, we’re taught we should never hate anyone, yet that is the word that is used in this portion of Scripture to describe how non-Christians will feel toward Christians.  We’re told that this hatred is not because of us, but because of the One we serve.  It makes sense, doesn’t it?  That’s why we need to try not to take this hatred to heart – we need to remember that Jesus still loves us and we need to keep striving for the prize – because we have reason to rejoice in the end, for in the end we gain Heaven!  Remember, there is still a hell to shun and a Heaven to gain.  It’s not personal when we are hated – and we need to get tough skinned, wear blinders and keep being the people we’re supposed to be.

Even when the world seems to be against us, God is pleased!

Speaking for myself – it’s really one more reason why I have to stay in God’s Word and shun other things.  I have to stay in touch with what the Lord finds acceptable and pray that He will help me be the person I need to be.  You know, I saw a post online the other day, and it fits perfectly with this subject:  We’ve all had moments when we feel misunderstood and abandoned by others.  We have to remember what Jesus went through to secure our Salvation – that puts all of our rough patches in perspective, doesn’t it?  I’ve not been abused like He was!  God is good all the time, even when people are not good.  We are commanded to go into the world and preach the good news – so we plant seeds of hope everywhere we go!  That’s all we have to do – what happens after that is up to God!  That’s how I look at it.  I do my part and God takes care of the rest!  

So there you have it!  If we will trust God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be our guide as we stay strong and endure in the faith, we will be saved and make Heaven our home one day!  God’s never going to steer us wrong.  🙂

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

I doubt that we need to review examples of living according to the flesh.  It’s sad to see people get caught up in fast living, only to crash and burn in the end – sometimes literally.  Why does God want us to kill fleshly desires when they seem so attractive sometimes?  The answer is simple:  HE LOVES US!  He loves you and me so much – and He knows that those temptations are dangerous to our bodies and souls.  God wants to protect us – body, mind and soul.  We can’t overcome these things alone.  It’s only through God’s precious Holy Spirit that we can turn tail and run away from harm’s way.  He’s not trying to keep us from having fun!  He’s trying to show us a better way to live – and if we belong to Christ, we need to run into His arms and ask Him to show us His way of life.  Only with the Spirit’s help can we make wise choices.A relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit means that we have everything we need to avoid sin and win.  Of course, we have a free will to choose either way – right or wrong.  Nobody has always chosen the right – nobody that I know, anyway.  We’re not perfect all the time, but we know that if we choose badly, we can turn from that bad choice and ask our loving Heavenly Father, through Christ, to forgive us and forget our transgression.

One day I was driving home from work in a terrible rain storm.  I took an unfamiliar route because I was sure the regular route was flooded.  As I drove, I prayed aloud in the car, asking the Lord to protect me.  I was frightened, but confident that God would get me home safely.

There were not many cars on the road I took, which I thought was strange, but I forged ahead.  When there is water on the road, it’s difficult to gage how deep it is – or the condition of the street below.

The next intersection was full of water – the flash flooding was catching up with me… I felt led to make a left hand turn and go to the street just south of the one I was on.  I made the turn and ended up on a street that was a bit elevated and the water was running off.  I had a straight shot home.  I sang praise & worship songs and thanked the Lord for helping me get home.

I was curious about the flooded intersection where I made the turn.  I went back to look at it, and found there was a very large pot hole – and had I kept going straight, I would have gone in the hole and would probably have water in the car.

When we live life waiting for the next big thrill with no regard for the God who just wants to protect us, we end up being a slave to the very thing we thought was such fun at first.  I don’t understand why some folks think that Christians don’t have fun.  We have such fun – it’s just a different kind of fun.   God protects us and His Spirit helps us stay away from sin because all sin does is cause harm.  God doesn’t want us to be harmed – He wants us to be free!  And so we are.

Free from the law…  oh happy condition.  Jesus is mine, oh precious redemption.

A LIFE OF FREEDOM IN CHRIST…  it can be yours!  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

This is a verse that is familiar to Sunday School teachers because at some point we work with kids to memorize it.  Some say this verse disproves the concept of the Trinity, but I don’t think it does.  I still believe in the three in one – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Paul is addressing the question whether there’s more than one God because a pagan said there was.  On behalf of Christians everywhere, he’s affirming that there is only one God, creator and ruler over the wide universe!  The fact that he didn’t go on to say anything about the Trinity does not mean it doesn’t exist.

Doth not all nature around me praise God? If I were silent, I should be an exception to the universe. Doth not the thunder praise Him as it rolls like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not the mountains praise Him when the woods upon their summits wave in adoration? Doth not the lightning write His name in letters of fire? Hath not the whole earth a voice? And shall I, can I, silent be?  – Charles Spurgeon

When we praise the Lord, it’s the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.  – John Piper

As we trust more in the faithfulness of God, we are better able to open our hearts to others.  It’s amazing how much joy fills our lives as we put all our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It’s my hope and prayer that we all will believe in the blessed Trinity and lean fully on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in our everyday lives.  Remember – the more we praise the LORD in His presence, the more of His power we will see in our circumstances.  He inhabits our praise and answers all our prayers.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Traditionally, we observe these events in the life of Christ on Passion Week:  His triumphal entry, His last supper, His death, burial and resurrection.  What is Easter all about?  We serve a RISEN SAVIOR!  God raised Christ from the dead on the 3rd day – and He sits at God’s right hand.  There’s something else that happened before Christ ascended to Heaven…  He left us the greatest gift – His Holy Spirit – the comforter and our guide through this crazy life.

The Holy Spirit of God is filled with goodness and wisdom.  God wants us to be kind and quick to forgive one another.  It’s only with His help that we can do these things.

We are loved by God – and are to be loving and kind to one another.  As we rely on God’s Holy Spirit to help us, we can accomplish so much as we plant seeds along the way.  It’s so nice to make friends with like-minded believers, knowing that no matter what, you can go back to the fact that you both have God’s Holy Spirit and can work anything out as you rely on Him for guidance and direction.

It’s nearly impossible to talk about God’s Holy Spirit without mentioning the fruits of His Spirit:

Does that mean that we will be perfect?  Um…  nope.  Does it mean that we can love perfectly?  Well, as we live by God’s precepts that certainly could and should happen.  If we will lean fully on God’s Holy Spirit, we can have some beautiful attitudes and be a blessing to others.  We want the fruits of the Spirit to be clear in our lives.  God’s more than happy to reveal to us how that can happen.

If you could imagine a pyramid in your mind – sort of like the food pyramid (which seems to be changing with every diet that comes along).  The good thing about this pyramid is that it never changes.

God’s Holy Spirit is at the TOP of the pyramid.  No surprise there.  At the other two corners are you and another person – any person you come in contact with.  God’s Spirit gives love, comfort, power, peace, wisdom and the ability to control things like temper.  Because He’s given us these things, we are able to share them with others in our lives, with evidence of the fruits showing through in the process.

Remember that the Lord did not leave us here as orphans to figure out how to live.  He has everything we need to live an abundant life…  if we’ll just ask Him to help us.  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

I look forward to spring for so many reasons, but I think my favorite one is that we will start grilling hamburgers outdoors!  I don’t mind turning the stove on when it’s cold outside because it heats up the kitchen; however, in the spring and summer I’d rather not cook indoors because, well, it heats up the kitchen.

How many hamburgers do you eat at one time?  There’s no right or wrong answer – it’s not a trick question.  The calorie police are all at the donut shop – so don’t weigh your answer.  Be honest – do you have one hamburger, or maybe a few?  What is your portion of ground beef on a bun?

I’m a career dieter…  that is, I’ve been on one meal plan or the other since I was about five years old.  I was the poster child to represent the one who could not climb the rope in P.E. class.  I’ve learned lessons through the years – the primary one being – you must use portion control when you eat anything – no matter what diet you follow.

When it comes to spiritual portions…  there’s never too much of God’s Spirit!  I’ll tell you, if I eat too many hamburgers (or anything, for that matter), it will show up fairly quickly.  When I depend on God to be my portion – every moment of every day…  it shows up also, but in a positive way!  He is so faithful to me, and I depend on His love and kindness to renew my soul – over and over again.

It’s taken a lifetime, but I’ve learned to rely less on the portion control in a diet, and more on the PORTION that is the Holy Spirit of God.  I’m not as quick to pick up a cupcake to deal with stress like I used to.  I choose to take a deep breath and seek God when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.  It’s His will for my life – and it’s a healthy and good way to deal with stress.  The Lord is my portion…  and there are no calories or carbohydrates to count.  🙂

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

a-commentary-from-the-heart-14

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  – Titus 3:4-7

titus-3-5

The hope that every Christian has hinges on what Christ did – it has nothing to do with us, except for the fact that we’ve come to believe in Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary – just as we are.  Our righteousness is not even almost good enough, but God’s grace and mercy are what we place our faith and trust in.  That is why we have the hope of eternal life, but we hold on to the Lord because we love Him above all else.

I want to show you something I found on my facebook newsfeed.  I was taken aback a bit when I first saw it – and then I read the article and decided that this guy has a pure heart and pure intentions – he really wants people to see Easter in the right way – so look what he did at this FRED’S store in Tennessee…

http://www.gracecentered.com/freds-store-displays-easter-crosses-mr-pibbs.htm

Every day in this world we watch people backstab and hate each other, but it’s the duty and joyous privilege of God’s children to love one another.  Why?  Because once we realize that Christ has delivered us from our miserable condition by HIS mercy and free grace, and has given us HIS precious Holy Spirit – we understand that love is the cornerstone of our faith.  Without love, it’s a lie.  God is love and He wants us to not only love Him, but love one another as He loved us and sent His precious Son to this earth to live and die for our sins.

because-i-love-you

How will you share your faith today?  Maybe you can do it through your job – in creative ways when you stock the Mr. Pibb…  or maybe as a retired secretary, you want to start writing a little blog that shares faith, hope, and love with others.  There are so many ways to share your faith – but one thing is for sure – if you feel God’s Spirit prompting you to share your faith in some way, you will be miserable if you don’t do it.

Christ is the fountain from which the precious Holy Spirit flows.  It’s only through Him we are able to teach and mentor others with patience and prayer.  What a blessing to have the Holy Spirit in our lives each day.  Because we have Him, we can practice true love and kindness in our daily walk.  Think about it…  His love and His grace have such great power to change a human heart.  Commit the lost to Him and be patient as you share and teach.  Remember His timing is not our timing.  Never give up on anyone because the Lord did not give up on you.  🙂

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (15)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  – Philippians 4:6-7

Anxiety is something that many people struggle with – including me.  I’m not particularly depressed, but I have a black belt in anxiety.  God tells us what to do when we begin to have irrational thoughts and feel pressure as thoughts of the future seem to overwhelm us in the present.  We need to pray – be thankful to God and tell Him what we need.  If we will do that, He has promised to give us peace – the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.  It’s a peace that will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.2

I’m not boasting, but my doctor has asked me for years if I want some medication for anxiety – but I have said no.  I’m going to do what Dr. Jesus prescribes.  He has seen me through and has never let me down.  I want my heart to be less stressed, less worried, less overwhelmed and less uncertain about the future.  I want a healthy happy heart that prays and is thankful for the present.  God’s Holy Spirit is the present in my present.  He’s in control of today and tomorrow.  Yesterday doesn’t matter – it’s over.  No amount of thinking or praying, for that matter – can affect yesterday.

I’m also going to cut myself some slack about my anxiety issues.  I was reminded today that everyone has some degree of anxiety about the future – it’s a very human condition.  While I know the answer to anxiety is definitely prayer, I also realize I’m human – so human.  3

So…  I’m going to make a real effort to focus on RIGHT NOW.  Dr. Jesus says to lean on Him and not on my understanding.  He already knows about tomorrow and doesn’t think it’s necessary for me to know about future events.  I’ll tell you…  right now – I’m in a warm house with a computer that works.  I’m paying my bills on time and drinking a hot cup of coffee.  I’m saying a prayer of thanks to God…  I thank Him for right now.  He is good.  He’s always been so good to me.  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (20)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  – Psalm 51:10-11

There’s more to renewal than eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and promising yourself you will go to the gym more often.  At the risk of sounding a bit introspective, may I suggest you spend some time in your prayer closet getting real with the Father?

He’s the only One who can make changes last.  He made you, so doesn’t it make sense that He knows how to make all the trash in your life get out for the rest of your life?  I don’t know about you, but that’s exciting to me!  I can be free of worry, anger, disappointment, jealousy, resentment and regret!

Give it all to God through His Son, Christ Jesus.  Don’t wait – do it now.

Make today garbage day for your life.. Round up all your worries, angers, disappointments, jealousies, resentments, and regrets. Throw them in your mental garbage can, roll it out to the street and be done with them once and for all.. Smile as the sanitation department roars away with all that junk you no longer need.. Make that change!!  – Stanley Taylor

I want God’s Holy Spirit in and with me from this moment on.

It’s fine to have other resolutions.  I’ve resolved to throw away my lonely little sock that hasn’t had a mate for about 3 months.  You KNOW what will happen when I toss it, don’t you?  The other one will show up!  It’s some sort of unwritten cruel law or something.  Those were my favorite socks!  I will mourn the loss.1

For changes that are life-altering, consult the maker of you.  Go to your prayer closet and ask Him to do a great work in you.  He’s faithful to answer your prayer and you will know when all the trash has been taken out.  You’ll know immediately – trust me.  🙂

 

IRON SHARPENS IRON – FRIENDSHIP

IRON SHARPENS IRON

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  – Proverbs 27:17

IRON SHARPENS IRON

Yesterday I told you what I do not want to be – a stumbling block.  Today I’m going to focus on what I do want to be – an iron sharpener!  This year my goal is to bring out the best in everyone – including myself!  You’ve heard of friendships where the two or three just keep “feeding” off each other and getting funnier and funnier, right?  I love it when that happens – even if it’s off the wall and silly.  If I can be the friend who makes others laugh and spew diet Dr. Pepper out of their nose…  what can I say?  It’s my mission in life and when that happens, I can say mission accomplished!  My work here is done.  You’re welcome!

Real life is stressful and often awkward and uncomfortable.  Should friendships be the same way?  I really don’t think so.  There’s nothing worse than spending time with someone you want to escape from – and you spend the whole time hunting for the nearest exit and plan the escape in your head.  Let’s face it…  those are the friendships you have to re-think.  You just do – and yes, it’s sad.  Some people are not meant to be in our lives for the rest of our life.15822977_1868319833412478_4287722067523972073_n

Thank you, Lucinda – for keeping me polished!  I’m so glad that God allowed our paths to cross!

For those friendships that seem destined to be, how can we be an iron sharpening friend?  I’m glad you asked.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Pray for your friend – and for your friendship.  If your friendship is covered in prayer everyday, it will be strong and won’t crumble over petty things.  I tend to be upfront and honest in friendships because I appreciate those qualities in my friends.  One day I was feeling especially envious and a bit jealous of a friend’s success when I did not seem to be gaining ground with my project.  I told her about it, knowing that she would appreciate my honesty and candor.  She helped me by first of all praying for me – and secondly, she started pointing out some positives that I had missed somehow.  She knows if the shoe was on the other foot, I would have done the same for her.
  2. Cherish the friendship because God designed it.  Review the start of your friendship once in a while.  Let your friend know that you appreciate what she brings to the friendship and how much better your life is now because of it.  Praise God for the way ministry grows and matures when Christian friends work together.  Ask God to impress on you and guide you to the next project.  It’s amazing and wonderful how God brings your separate work together as one very large witnessing tool.  Be thankful when others are helped by your ministry – thankful of course to God, but also to each other.  Don’t take friendship for granted.  Friends don’t grow on trees.  Most of my friends would think that visual was hilarious.  I also imagine they’d imagine me hanging by my tail like a monkey, with a banana in my mouth (I have to be eating – well DUH!)
  3. Communicate as clearly as possible.  A friend and I were chatting on facebook not long ago about this.  We agreed that messaging on facebook is more challenging than talking face to face because there’s a lack of facial expression in the communication.  Then we joked about using emojis – or really over-using them – in an attempt to let others know that we’re smiling 🙂 or 😀  or that we’re loving what they’re saying <3.  Of course, when I’m talking there’s always the popular – I’M CONFUSED.  :-/  Yeah – I really use that one frequently.
  4. Don’t try to fake it.  God knows everything about everything, so it makes no sense to keep anything from your friend in the Lord.  It’s a temptation to keep the “downer” stuff to yourself so you don’t bring her down too – but if you do, you are robbing her of the opportunity to lift you to God in prayer.  Maybe you’re going through something that you don’t even feel like you can pray about yourself.  I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too.  Let your friend know what’s up so she can pray for you.  It is a privilege and an honor to pray for a friend.  Don’t let silly pride keep you from asking your friend to whisper a prayer for you.

iron-sharpening-sheep

We eventually get where we’re goin’ – together.  I want to be an iron-sharpening friend.  I hope you do too.  Let’s all work together to sharpen some iron in 2017!  🙂

PROVERBS 10:8 ON 10/8

tl-10-8-proverbs-10-8-on-10-8

The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.  – Proverbs 10:8

You know, the thing about  those Proverbs…  they don’t mess around.  Some portions of Scripture dilly dally around to get to the meat of the matter.  Wow – the Proverbs – not so much.  They say what they mean and they mean what they say! 

Whether your boss is wise in heart or a chattering fool…  once in a while they will criticize you about something.  Let God worry about which they are…  you just make sure you are wise in heart and know how to be accepting of corrective criticism.  😉

with-gods-wisdom-and-quick-witYou may ask, “Can you combine the wisdom you get from God with a quick wit?”  I’d ask how you couldn’t?  Maybe it’s just how God works with me, but more times than not, if I’m enduring some corrective criticism and asking God’s Spirit for help – He not only provides wisdom, but He also gives me thoughts about how to lighten the moment.  It’s very unusual to not have His wisdom and a joke or a story pop into my mind simultaneously.  dont-let-peoples-compliments-get-to-your-head-and-dont-let-their-criticism-get-your-heart-worship-quote

Is it necessary to explain what a chattering fool is – or how they can ruin???  I pray I’ve never been one, but I was young and immature at one time, so…  here’s the thing…  we are all works in progress.  God’s not done with any of us yet. 

By the same token, God loves us too much to leave us in an immature state.  He wants us to grow in our faith.  Let’s focus on the positive…  how do we become WISE IN HEART???  How do I learn to accept commands, to accept corrective criticism, to accept help given by authority to make me better?  What is that key attitude that God wants me to have as part of my armor to navigate this life?

  • PRACTICE DISCERNMENT.  I say “practice” because discernment is a part of wisdom that only comes with practice…  lots and lots of practice.  When a person in authority corrects you and you are tempted to let it hurt your heart, stop that process in its tracks – stop it right there.  Pray that God’s Holy Spirit would help you discern whether the correction is 1) necessary and 2) helpful to your future workmanship.  If God’s Spirit lets you know that it is both necessary and helpful to your future workmanship – then and only then can you accept it, learn from it – and move on.  When corrective criticism is given about your work – something you are being paid or compensated to do a certain way – and it meets this criteria…  it is not aimed at you personally.  Take notes…  do what you have to do to get it right – but don’t let the criticism set in your heart!
  • BE GRACIOUS.  We’ve all received corrective criticism – and a few of us have received the rantings of a fool who just happens to be our boss, am I right?  Regardless of whether you work for a wise person or a fool, always be gracious.  There are times to scream and cry and shout and yell at the top of your lungs.  That time is not as soon as you’ve been chewed out.  Go to the bathroom and stand in a stall or if it’s raining, go outside for a while (rain is great camo for tears).  My new go-to is a workout, followed by a shower.  Take it out on those machines…  they can take it! 
  • TOW THE LINE BETWEEN STRENGTH AND UNDERSTANDING.  God did not make you to be a door mat.  If you are unjustly called on the carpet, do what I call “the quick prayer” – you know, like, “Lord, please help me here – this isn’t right.”  He knows!  It’s amazing how quickly he answers those prayers.  He answers as quickly as you pray them.  If you work for a wise person, they can show understanding and answer any questions you may have.  If you work for a fool, it could get tricky – but God’s going to work that out for you because you asked Him to!  A foolish boss will just chatter and chatter to hear him/herself talk.  It’s frustrating.  But, when God makes your boss need to take a breath, don’t be afraid to be strong and find out more deets about the proverbial raking over said coals.  Ask nicely, but be strong, keeping a calm, even tone.
  • STAY SWEET.  Sweet words are like honey to the soul – even the soul of a foolish boss.  The wise boss will understand where you’re coming from, but the foolish boss will mistake your sweetness for weakness and assume you are afraid of people.  Nothing could be further from the truth, but in any case, stay sweet.  If you have been criticized and have prayed about it – and discern that it is unjustified, don’t lose your cool.  That wrecks your witness to your foolish boss.  Remember that God hasn’t given up on him/her.  You shouldn’t either.  The battle is the Lord’s.  Be still and let HIM fight it for you.
  • BE PRUDENT.  Once in a great while, we really do have to choose our battles very carefully in the workplace.  We need to be wise and think about consequences that follow actions.  Is X worth Y???  Again, we pray and ask God for HIS way to handle things.  When Jesus was taken before Pilate, remember how He didn’t speak, even though He was heading for a horrific beating and subsequent death on the cross?  One without wisdom just pops off without a thought of what follows.  Keep emotions in check – God’s got the big picture under control.  Sometimes it’s a matter of just taking the criticism and keeping your mouth shut.
  • EXERCISE INTELLIGENCE.  Before I explain, I want to say that intellect and common horse sense don’t even graze in the same field.  There are educated idiots running around all over the planet; however, if you are hearing corrective criticism from your boss and you actually have some knowledge about the subject at hand, it’s okay to speak up and explain why you did what you did the way you did it.  If you want God’s wisdom, it’s not always going to be intelligence that He wants you to use – but if it is, you’ll know it.
  • HUMILITY DOESN’T HURT.  If you can accept the criticism from your boss, pray about it (in your head – God hears), and be wise in your response…  add a dash of humility into the mix.  Most bosses, whether wise or foolish, come down off their high horse long enough to let a humble person know that it’s okay to be human now and then.  Again, take a note…  do what it is you need to do to keep it from happening again.  Being humble is a huge (pronounced UGE) part of acquiring God’s wisdom.

God’s wisdom in the workplace will give you true joy and satisfaction of spirit.  It’s true…  read Proverbs 16:16.  🙂