Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Forgiving The Past

Proverbs 10:32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaks frowardness.

       I read this sentence in a news article. "I never felt really healthy. The best I could feel was - not sick." I understood what she was saying because I was wondering the same thing about my own life during the past Christmas holidays. I had been explaining these same feelings to my son and we pondered and wondered if I would ever rise above - not being sick. I am happy to say that I did come through to a healthier place and still progressing onward. I did it with a lot of prayers and seeking God. Psalm 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain. 
      Healthy living and being proactive in one's health choices in order to rise above the norm is far better than just being on the verge of sickness and disease, as in borderline diabetics, recovering alcoholics, first stages of dementia and so on. That place of living is not a healthy place to be in unless you are already headed to health from that place of borderline sickness. 
      Some of the people who struggle with forgiving their past are experiencing the same thing as the people who are just not sick. They have gone through the motions of forgiving the ones who have hurt them, but sense no real freedom. They have forgiven in a way that seems to work until the memory or encounter with that person or situation explodes again. Forgiving under our own terms with strings attached will continue to bind us up. 
      Why does God admonish us to forgive everyone and the part they played in our past? So that we may go forward without hindrances! That is it in its simplicity. Psalm 103:4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. Living in a place with an unforgiving heart will hinder our lives in all that we do. Forgiving the hurtful events from our past will set us free for today and the future. However, the forgiveness we offer must be a choice of forgiving completely. Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
       Deep down we all know it is the right thing to do because we have all felt the joy of being forgiven. Psalm 32:1 How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! We have all felt the freedom forgiveness gives us when we have been forgiven and pardoned for something of great significance. How many siblings need to forgive each other for the scars encountered while growing up in a volatile and brutal family? How many divorced people need to forgive their deplorable spouse for the unfaithfulness and utter feeling of being betrayed to the core of their hearts? 
      We all know of unspeakable things that have been done to others that defy reason and human understanding, and yet God asks us to forgive all the sins and memories of the past. As Derek Prince says. "Forgiving is not an emotion, it is a decision." We choose to obey God by forgiving the past.
      What courage this action takes in the life of the believer in Christ. The fortitude of walking forward and saying, "I forgive you completely," leaves many speechless because of the great burden of debt lifted from the accused shoulders. What most people do not realize is that the one forgiving is the one who gets set free the most because this graceful action cuts all ties of misunderstood justice. They are no longer just not sick, but walking healthily in the love and power of the Holy Spirit. They no longer wear the coat of blame, excuses and rationalization that they have come to rely upon for their lack of growth in the Kingdom of God. 
      In forgiving completely, these brave souls have removed the vestment of hurt and put on the robe of righteous-strength and walk purposefully in the peace that passes all understanding. Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
      Prov. 10:32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaks frowardness. When we say, "I forgive you completely," our lips of righteousness know it is the right thing to say. When we do not forgive completely, our conversation will prove our choice by the duplicity being voiced by our soul. 
      As we get older in life and mature in our walk with Christ it is no longer good enough to be just not sick. We need to walk in the health and power of the grace of God and be the righteous witnesses Christ has made us to be. My sins were many and Christ forgave me completely. All I can say is, Lord, teach my lips to speak acceptable words of forgiveness and peace to all who have hurt me and are in need of your merciful salvation as I have been blessed to walk in. Thank you, Lord.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Memory Tree

Proverbs 10:7 The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.
      
      My wife and I have lived in the same house since the late nineteen-eighties. We raised our two sons here on this big lot with room for fun and imagination. They had all kinds of places to play and grow up in all seasons. The boys have moved out and on their own now. However, a lot of their treasures (they are to me) show up once in a while in different parts of the yard. Spring has come early out here in the south-western part of Canada. 
      I have started the spring yard work as in getting the garden beds ready and the fruit trees pruned and so on. Every year as I am cleaning up dead foliage or stems from last years colorful displays, I always find a plastic ninja turtle ring or a tin car peeking through the natural mulch. Somehow these trinkets make their way to the surface of the soil, poking their way through. 
      Yesterday, I found a malleable small plastic soldier and a yellow hard plastic dinosaur. The soldier belonged to my oldest and the dinosaur came from my youngest son's inventory of playtime imagination. I have a honeysuckle creeper that is old and well-established. It winds its way up a heavy duty trellis. I always take these treasures of the past and hang, twist and squeeze them into the stems and branches until they become part of this huge plant that has come to be known as my memory tree. 
      The amount of bobbles, farm animals, soldiers and parts of action figures that protrude from the limbs are first, colorful and second, a blessed archival record of smiles, laughter and fond memories gone by. I literally smile every time I find one of these plastic diamonds per-se. How fortunate I was yesterday when I found two memories, one for each son. Yup, they went right up there in the memory tree and I sent up a prayer of gratitude to my God for giving me these wonderful sons.
      God has been doing the same with His children that He loves unconditionally and whom He has a relationship with. The Lord has a sort of memory tree and I am sure it is much more colorful and diverse. We read in Mal. 3:16 Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. 
      Imagine, every time we think and talk about the wonderful things God has done for us, our names go into His memory tree or book of remembrance. Often people will wonder if God even notices them or the sacrifice they have done on behalf of someone else. We can rest assured that God sees our hearts in everything we do. 
      If God is measuring our hearts in giving a glass of cold water to anyone needing a drink, then don't worry He knows what your sacrifices have been throughout your life. Matt. 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.
      To be thought of fondly by our heavenly Father is a blessing within our hearts that is immeasurable. To know that we know that we are in the love of God's favor is a place of intense joy and well being. Psalm 91:1 He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. To be engraved into the Lord's memory book because we give glory to His name is the goodness of God manifested in our lives. 
      God takes the time to record our thoughts and our expressions of joy concerning our God. We bring joy to the Lord's heart as He writes about our day in a similar way we muse over an old photo album and we pick out the good memories. I know that all things will be judged, good or bad. 2 Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. However, there are a lot more joys in the Lord than there are regrets if we get right down to the honesty of it. I have walked with Jesus for over thirty-six years now and I wonder what has been hooked, squeezed and hung in God's memory tree from my life. 
      I will continue to look for the blessings in my life so that I may proclaim out loud the wonders of the Lord. Knowing that my name is being written down because of the joyful talk just adds flavor to my walk with the Lord. Blessings to all of you, and may you all hear the Lord's pen scratching your name down today.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

All That May Be Desired.

Proverbs 8:11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

      We all have an over-imaginative thought process when it comes to the wants that may be within our hearts and minds. We can sure come up with a wish-list if we were to start writing down all that may be desired. Yet, the Proverb tells us to desire wisdom rather than rubies, silver, and gold. Prov. 8:10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. 
      Surely if I had a lot of silver and gold, I could get all that I desire. How many people say, "If I could just have that new thing, then I would be happy." Would we be happy if we got absolutely everything we wanted without delay? I'm not sure, because I have never experienced that luxury. 
      I was walking through an auto junkyard with a friend who was looking for an '86 Pontiac Parisienne tail light. As I looked over all the rust and bent car frames, I became aware that at one time a lot of these cars had been wanted and coveted with motives spurred on by avarice. These broken and rusted shells that had once been dreams and goals of individuals had now been long forgotten. 
      Some of these cars had been desired to the point of theft, crooked dealings and over-extended credit; just to own that car that would bring happiness. Now, these idols of imagination were being picked over and rusting away through oxidation. Where was the wisdom of Proverbs now? Matt. 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 
      What happened to the polished chrome shine, leather adjustable seats, fast glass, and the air-conditioned dream rides that were the answer to all that could be desired? The novelty wore off, as it always does, with any of the many idols that find their way into our hearts. Whether the wants are vacations, dream homes, careers or anything that has replaced the Lord on the throne of our hearts, there will be a disappointment. 
      The British songwriter Mick Jagger said it best; "I can't get no satisfaction." James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. There is nothing wrong with asking, but make sure you are asking within your life lived in the Kingdom of God.
      Eve has been described as the woman who had everything. Gen. 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. What more could a person want? The entire world was given to Adam and his wife Eve. 
      They were the stewards of everything new and created. What more could be desired? What more could a woman or a man want? The only thing outside of their grasp was the fruit of the one and only tree of knowledge of good and evil. We all know what happened and it begs the question, "Is that the result of getting all that may be desired?" 
      No matter how much we have, even if it is the entire earth, we will still want more. If Christ is not in control of our hearts, it seems our existence cannot be satisfied. Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Is that why God says to run after wisdom, rather than stuff? With wisdom, we will be able to handle all our stuff. Without wisdom, the stuff will own and handle us.
      God's wisdom in any situation will be a blessing to our lives and the answer to whatever we are looking for. We can count on the fact that the wisdom God gives us to enjoy with great favor will promote real life within us. If we choose the Lord's wisdom to work in our lives, it will help us make right what is wrong, make straight what is crooked, and be a blessing to the Kingdom of God. 
      We will be influencing this world that needs the miraculous love and workings of God. Prov. 2:10 When wisdom enters into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; 11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee. Imagine, God's wisdom is worth far above all that can be desired. Give us this wisdom, Lord, that we may be complete in your love. Amen and amen!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Pass The Salt

Proverbs 22:12 The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthrows the words of the transgressor.

      Don't take the word of the Lord for granted. Preserve the word of God that has been sown in your hearts. Cherish it as the most valuable thing you have ever owned. Matt. 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. The word of the Lord that is at work in you is what is preserving you from the corruption in the world. 
      As ambassadors and representatives of the Kingdom of God, we are the salt of the earth. We have been ordained by the Lord to use our dash of saltiness in this earth that is filled with festering and spoiled hearts. The word of God that has preserved us from corruption and decay can also help others preserve their lives. Matt. 5:13a Ye are the salt of the earth.
      You might say, "I only know a few verses of God's word. How can I help anyone?" Those few verses you are referring to may be the very answer the person you are helping needs to change their lives entirely and head in the opposite direction of destruction. Those few verses were the salt that persevered the lost from their destruction. It is not the quantity of the word you know but the quality of the word you live by that will bring life by the salting of your love.
      2 Tim. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. When the Spirit of God says "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God," the Holy Spirit means even the small amount of scripture you know has the power to change anything God wants fixed and loved by Him.
      Salt is used to heal, preserve, control bad stenches and give flavor to foods. If God says "Please pass the salt," He may be referring to you being poured out in or on a particular situation that smells really bad or helping a gangrene infested soul. We may be sprinkled on a sick Christian who needs healing and help with their faith to believe for the healing, because we are the salt of the earth. We may be spread across a place and time that is not in our comfort zone, where we might be asked to preserve an odious and unlikable person.
 
      That is the value of the salted word of God at work in our hearts, making us the blessed salt of the Kingdom of God. This is why we are to value the word of God as the most precious and valuable blessing we have ever had. The word of God preserves life. Heb. 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
      There was a slave named Onesimus who had run away from Philemon who was his master. Through divine appointment, Paul (who was in prison) led Onesimus to the Lord. Paul is now sending Onesimus back to his master which could result in a death sentence because that was the fate of a runaway slave. Paul points out that the slave was once a problem slave to Philemon but now because of the born again relationship with Christ, Onesimus has turned his life around. Phm. 1:10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: 11 Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: 12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart. 
      Paul points out that they are now brothers in the faith and the salt of God's word will be needed in their relationships on both sides. Phm. 1:15 For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou should receive him for ever; 16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? We know that the relationship worked out because Philemon was a member of the church of the Colossians. Col. 4:9 With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here. 
      Paul, who was the salt of the earth, preserved the life of a slave and restored relationships. What a blessing it must have been for the Colossian assembly to have a first-hand account and explanation of the letters written to them by the hand of Paul. 
Onesimus, who had been preserved for the work of the Kingdom of God, could give some insight from his own relationship with Paul. 
      We, who are in Christ, all have this preserving power and mandate within each one of us. We give flavor and taste of what is on the table God has set for all who come to Him. Don't ever take the word of the Lord for granted. The next time you hear the words "Please pass the salt," you may be being prepared for a kingdom adventure. Blessings.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

What Can God do?

Proverbs 8:35 For whoso finds me finds life, and shall obtain favor of the LORD.

      
      What can God do in our situation? Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. A very short verse but speaks volumes. Gen. 18:14a Is any thing too hard for the LORD? Jer. 32:27 Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me? When God asks a question that has the answer in the question, we have to submit to the truth of the Lord's promise that is in the verse. The part most of us struggle with is when we ask ourselves, "Would God actually do something for me?" 
      We rarely question God's ability to do anything. After all, we know God created the entire universe and all its intricacies. Deep down in our hearts, we all know nothing is impossible for God, but we wrestle with the question. Would God do something for me? Why would God even want to do something for me or in me? Does God want to actually help little old me? Am I even on God's radar? Oh! I can understand God wanting to do something for you because you are obviously one of His favorites, but for me, I am not sure.
      The lie of the devil is hard at work and he has not changed his tactics in millenniums. He says with slithering whispers into your mind."What can God do for you, after all, you know what you did yesterday." The devil brings up the lie that you are not good enough for the All-Mighty, or you will always be a loser because you were born wrong. On and on it goes. 

      The enemy of our soul is still doing the same old thing as in the garden of Eden. Gen. 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die. What a lie that was and we are still falling for it. The reason we are attacked this way is that the devil knows full well that we do have absolute authority over the devil and his lies. We do have mighty weapons to defeat this onslaught of corruption from the father of lies. 2 Cor. 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 
      If Satan actually had power over us Christians, why then does he have to deceive us into sinning? Why does he not just go ahead and kill us? The reason is that he has no authority over us whatsoever. We are not under the authority of sin; we only wrestle the power of it. Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
      As my friend Jonathan, (the leader of a life group I attend) likes to say, "What has the devil got to do with me? I am a king in the kingdom of God and Satan is only the prince of the air. Kings do not take orders from a prince. As a matter of fact, Kings give orders to the prince. Kings have authority over a prince as we have authority over the works of the prince of darkness." Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 
      What do we do with this kingdom authority? Matt. 10:7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. We are kings and priests in the kingdom of our God. Rev.1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. As kings and priests in the kingdom of God, we take our orders from a King - not a fallen prince. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. We do not need to look anywhere else for instruction in life.
       Now, it comes back to those questions. "What can God do in and for me? Am I worth God's attention? Would God actually work a work on my behalf?" If we are under the blood of Christ, then we have a right standing with our God. With that right standing, we can seek first the kingdom and God's righteousness and that puts us in a position to receive all that the King of us kings has to offer. 

      If God can make the wolf be at peace with the lamb, then surely He can make our destructive wolves, per-se, come under the authority of our consecrated lives in Christ. Isa. 11:6 In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. When we learn to live in the kingdom of our God and rule as kings with righteous motives, we will live a life of favor in the LORD. Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.