Finding Your Focus

Little did we know, as we walked into the doctor’s office, our world was going to be turned upside down again.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Little did we know, as we walked into the doctor’s office, our world was going to be turned upside down again.  I finished breast cancer treatment two years earlier, and we triumphantly drew a line in the sand, stepped over it, and never looked back.  Our focus turned to embracing life and finding our rhythm again. But sitting in our doctor’s office that afternoon, reality shattered around us.

Devastated, we contemplated how we were going to tell our children and family that the cancer had metastasized and the diagnosis was grave.

As my head swirled with conflicting emotions and confusion, I could feel stress and anxiety rise up inside me. I knew that I could not go through this next season in this condition. I had to shift my focus onto something that was solid and sure to find relief for my anxiety and stress.

The storms of life will rock, shake, and unsettle you. Without a battle plan you will be tossed, beaten, and battered. You must find a place where you position yourself that is resolute and sure in God’s word and His promises.

[su_quote cite=”Romans 10:17 TPT“]Faith, then, is birthed in a heart that responds to God’s anointed utterance of the Anointed One.[/su_quote]

God’s word became the fortified place that I positioned myself behind. I turned to the only place that I knew had the power to bring hope, and bring the miraculous into my life.  We added more faith to our faith, drenching ourselves in God’s anointed words.

My husband printed a list of verses about healing for me. These precious words were like water to my thirsty soul.  They nourished me and filled me with peace and calm. I began to compile ‘My Faith Binder’ with scripture verses sent to me from friends and family. I would meditate on them daily, speaking them out loud so I could hear them. I personalized them and decreed them over myself. They washed over me, soothing away the stress and anxiety, and birthed in me a deeper faith. Hope began to emerge and take root!

We all know the verse, So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” -Romans 10:17 (NKJV) But what does that actually look like in our lives?

Faith is grown through hearing, speaking, repeating, and declaring God’s word over your life. It is built by taking His word and declaring it in the face of your enemy. Faith sees what is not seen. Faith speaks that which is not, as though it is. It looks with supernatural eyes at your situation and gives you the confidence to speak His word over it. It creates an expectation to see His word manifest in your circumstance.

Today, let the truth of His word cut through the lies of the enemy. Let it birth in you a new hope and enlarge your faith to believe for the miraculous! You have been set free, healed, restored, sanctified, and renewed. You can face your circumstances with confidence knowing that His goodness, faithfulness, steadfastness, loving-kindness, grace, mercy, hope, comfort, and righteousness are for you, behind you, and surround you. The full force of heaven is beside you, and with you, as you face your battles.

Fix your focus on His word, it is your fortified place. Respond to His word, and allow it to enlarge your faith. Believe for more![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][siteorigin_widget_vc][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The dry season is over.

The dry season is over. He is doing a new thing. It requires us to forget the past, stop looking back there – we are not going in that direction.


“The dry season is over.” The Lord has been speaking to me about the dry season being over for about a week. He prophetically spoke Isaiah 43:18-19 over Solid Rock on Sunday. (I love when God confirms His word.) Here are some thoughts I have had as I have meditated and prayed into this.

These verses are large in me right now, and as I studied the account of Elijah, his servant and the cloud, I saw some interesting things.

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.. Isaiah 43:19 KJV

I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. Isaiah 41:18 Amplified

And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. I Kings 18:41-46

  • Elijah prophesied that it was going to rain.
  • Told Ahab to eat up.
  • He stretched himself out and put his face between his knees.
  • He sent his servant to look towards the sea.
  • There was nothing.
  • He sent his servant seven times.
  • Finally there was a tiny cloud the size of a fist.
  • He told Ahab to get down because the rain was going to come.
  • The rain began.
  • The Lord was upon Elijah and he ran faster than Ahab’s chariot.
  1. The prophetic word was spoken.
  2. Elijah persisted in prayer to bring it to pass.
  3. He sent his servant 7 times for a status report.
  4. He had to persist and persevere.
  5. He was committed to seeing the word of the Lord brought to pass.
  6. The Lord was with Elijah and strengthened him.
  7. Elijah experienced what was spoken.

The dry season is over. He is doing a new thing. It requires us to forget the past, stop looking back there – we are not going in that direction.   We are going to experience it and recognize it. We will see it.   He is doing something new; fresh living waters are flowing. They are filling the dry places. It’s coming in abundance – rain, springs, rivers, fountains, and pools. It may require us to persist in prayer, holding fast to the word that the Lord has spoken, being tenacious and not letting go until we see Him perform it. But as I have heard the words, ‘the dry season is over,’ my heart has been encouraged. The time of fresh rain, springs, and rivers is here!

Power of Rest

bird-under-wingResting in His presence is one thing that helped me through the last couple of years.   I would say to people, ‘the Lord has taught me the power of rest.’ and often the reply back would be, ‘yes, you need to get your rest and let your body heal.’ Now this was good advice, I did need to physically rest and allow my body to heal, and I did on a daily basis.

But what I was referring to was something different than a physical rest. It is a resting IN Him, in His presence. It is a positing yourself in Him. I had studied Psalm 91 and the power of the secret place the year before the cancer diagnosis, and I was supposed to be writing our ladies’ Bible study curriculum that year on it. What the Lord had given to me revelatory through that passage, I lived the following 18 months during treatment.

Dwelling in the secret place and abiding under His shadow is a position. It is to be set and hidden in Him, to stop and stay permanently under His shadow.

It is intentionally entering and placing yourself, tucked away under Him. I think of the picture of the bird that has her offspring tucked securely under her wing.  I know this picture doesn’t really show the magnitude of being hidden under His wing.

Throughout the Psalms we see God’s promise to us.

For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the secret place of His tent; He will lift me up on a rock. Psalm 27:5

……hide me in the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 17:8

You hide me in the secret place of Your presence…. Psalm 31:20

He who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

Turning our focus off of our circumstances and onto Jesus, intentionally positioning myself under His wings; allows God to work miraculously on my behalf. It moves me from a place of worry, anxiety, and stress into a place of rest, peace, God’s got this, and He has a provision for this.

It is truly one of the most joyous places to live from, I am not moved by my circumstances, but His joy dominates my life.

We don’t have to live tossed to and fro with every storm that comes along, but rather we can position ourselves in Him. The storm may rage, but Daddy is taking care of me. He is working on my behalf. I can rest, be at peace, rejoice and see what God is going to do!

When Pajamas Are Too Short, Holey, and Mismatched.

With the Christmas season fast approaching, sometimes us women get caught up with busyness. Our plates are full and our jobs seem endless sometimes. It seems like there is always something that needs to be done and sometimes we feel like our work never ends!

Image-1With the Christmas season fast approaching, sometimes us women get caught up with busyness. Our plates are full and our jobs seem endless sometimes. It seems like there is always something that needs to be done and sometimes we feel like our work never ends! But, sometimes it’s okay to overlook the mess and take advantage of those opportune moments to connect with our family.

What are your favourite Christmas memories? What do you love most about the holidays? What treasured memories have you created with your family?

What are some ways that we can take advantage of the Christmas season to connect with our families, creating lasting memories.

Embrace your family.   Not every family is the same, maybe you are just starting out and it’s just you and your spouse, maybe you are a single mom, maybe you have children with challenges, maybe you have young children, or maybe your children are teenagers, or maybe you are experiencing the empty nest.

No matter what your family structure is, embrace it. See it for what it is and become determined to make memories with them. Don’t wait for the perfect moment or time. Don’t think, ‘I’ll just wait until we have children, or we need to wait until the children are older, or’……. You will never find the perfect time. The time is now! It’s starts with just you and your husband as you are beginning life together. It starts now with a house full of little ones.   Don’t compare your family to others, but embrace your family as they are now and find ways to celebrate them and make memories with them.

ENJOY your family!

Enjoy YOUR family!

Enjoy your FAMILY!

Did you catch that? 

Look for things that you like about them, embrace it, and enjoy! Don’t take life too seriously, relax and breathe in the moments of life. Learn to appreciate the uniqueness that each family member contributes. Sometimes it means setting aside what we think needs to be done, and just embrace the moment. With that in mind, when you think of each family member, what is one of the first things that come to your mind?

Focus on the Important Things

I love listening to my family tell stories. ‘Remember when’…….. How are these ‘remember when’ moments created? They often don’t ‘just happen,’ sometimes they do and those are beautiful moments to be treasured and remembered. But often, it requires us to be flexible in our schedules, to embrace little moments when they arise, to be willing to set aside my plans to enjoy those moments. In our increasingly busy lives, we must remember to carve out quality time for our families.

One of my treasured memories is when we would travel late into the night and my son would get talkative. He was in his teenage years and those were not his most commutative years, he would lean forward in his seat, hanging over my shoulder or his father’s to get closer and he became engaged. He would animatedly talk for hours!

When we travelled, I got to experience another side of him. The rest of the vehicle would be sleeping and quiet and he would begin to talk. (Maybe he finally felt free to do so, because no one else was talking!)

Now, those of you who have travelled anywhere with me know that I don’t really want to drive, it’s not that I can’t or don’t like it…….no, it is purely selfish reasons…..I like to sleep! I will put my ear buds in to tune out the noise, put on a movie or music, and then I am gone within a few minutes to be woken up at our next stop.   David on the other hand, loves to drive, so we are well matched!

Now back to my story. I learned to treasure those times with my son. I found out what he was thinking about things, friends, things that were going on in his life, and his opinion about matters. It allowed him to express himself during a season that was maybe hard for him to do so. It allowed us to hear his heart and speak into his life. This is a special memory for David and I. Was this a planned event? No. Did I have to adjust what I wanted to do or my routine? Absolutely!

My point in this story is that sometimes it is good to take a deep breath, pay attention to what is happening right in front of us, adjust ourselves and embrace the moment and create a new memory!

Often the times of prime connection do not present themselves when we are finished our jobs, when we are rested and have nothing else to do!

 Make some memories.

The holidays create a unique environment for creating treasured memories and traditions. Some memories and traditions are crafted from careful planning, and others are birthed out of things that are not so magical!

Like many families, we have a Christmas pajama tradition. Now I wish I could tell you it started out as some great ‘memory building idea’ but truth be told this tradition began in our family because when we were young and our children were little money was very tight. It was so tight that I remember wondering how we were going to make ends meet each month because there seemed to be more going out than coming in. But God was always there, He was faithful and He met our needs. We always ate, we always paid our mortgage, and no one was running around naked! Because of this, we didn’t have a ‘clothing budget’; we were just trying to survive every month! The only time we bought pajamas for the children was at Christmas!

As much as I wish I could say that I had thought of this great plan to build memories and make a tradition, I can’t. The real reason behind the Christmas Eve pajamas is a much more vain one! I wanted the children to be in new pajamas so that our pictures wouldn’t be of children in pajamas that were too short, full of holes, or miss-matched (because you know after they wear them once it is very rare to see the top and bottoms matching again!)

This is how our Christmas pajama tradition began, by a mother who couldn’t buy pajamas for her kids during the year and vainly wanted them to look good in the Christmas pictures!

But what began as my craziness, has turned into a beautiful tradition of coming home from Oma and Opa’s, sitting down with cups of tea (it used to be hot chocolate and marshmallows), opening their pajamas and slippers and posing for our annual Christmas Eve pajama picture. (Which is usually a gong show of laughter, howling and tomfoolery!)

Now our children are grown and my need for perfect Christmas morning photos has waned (it’s still there, just a little!).   My husband and I tried to bring it to an end, but the children……well let’s just say, the tradition lives on! (The above photo is from 2010.)

What was birthed many years ago has turned into a beautiful tradition that everyone enjoys and no one wants to give up.

So this Christmas season as you are celebrating our Lord’s birth, embrace and enjoy your family. Find ways, intentional or unintentional, to create fun and lasting memories. Breathe deep, lay aside the busyness and enjoy your family!

Have a wonderfully blessed Christmas season!

10 Keys for Practically Walking in Love

God has shown us His love; He has demonstrated it and He has clearly laid out His expectations of us. (I Corinthians 13:4-8, Colossians 3:12-17)  So how do we practically walk in love?  I believe this is a continual learning process…

Keys for practically walking in love and compassion.

 

God has shown us His love; He has demonstrated it and He has clearly laid out His expectations of us. (I Corinthians 13:4-8, Colossians 3:12-17)  So how do we practically walk in love?  I believe this is a continual learning process and we are to continually grow in love and compassion.

1.  Value.

  • We must recognize that EVERYONE has value.  They may not look or sound like us, but they still have value.
  • The more you value someone, the more precious they become to you.

2. Respect.

  • Because we value people, we will respect them.
  • We need to earn people’s respect, but I will respect the other person regardless.

3.  Freedom.

  • We must never attempt to control people with the threat of withholding our love.
  • Give them the freedom to make their own choices. Those choices may have consequences, but they should be clearly differentiated from our love
  • Allow the people in our lives to be free and be who God created them to be.
  • Manipulation tries to control and restrict other people’s freedom.
  • Manipulation is fear based.

4. Expectations.

  • What are my expectations?
  • Am I expecting something that is not realistic or theirs to carry?
  • Realize that NO ONE is perfect, not even you!

5. Communication.

  • Have I clearly communicated my expectations?
  • Have I listened without jumping to conclusions?
  • Have I listened without preconceived ideas marring my judgment?
  • Have I re-stated back to them what they are trying to communicate? (Listening exercise)

6. Judgment

  • Is my first mode judgment and correction or is it compassion and coming alongside?  An answer to this question is action.  If I am continually irritated by something but I choose not to come alongside something is wrong.  My discomfort should lead me to a love action, a coming alongside, compassion, a desire to see them succeed.  In some cases, this means JUST prayer.  If we have not developed a rapport with people, we do not have access to speak into their lives.  But whether it is getting involved with people or just prayer, it requires US to do something.  Compassion moves us from judgment to action.  It takes us out of passive to being active.  Judgment is passive – you don’t do anything.  Compassion cannot live in passivity.
  • Judgment is not our job. Stay out of judgment.
  • Judgment and discernment are two different things.

7. Commitment.

  • Recognize that relationships take hard work. Patience, long suffering, working together is required.
  • Be committed in your relationships.
  • Don’t run at the first sign of conflict.
  • Be committed to doing your part to resolve the conflict.
  • Work at being in a right relationship with each other again.
  • Commitment is a mindset that I have and portray.
  • Their response doesn’t determine my commitment.

8.  Forgiveness.

  • Be quick to forgive.
  • Ask yourself, ‘if that was me, how would I want to be treated?’
  • Extend the same grace that you have received to others.

9. Find the good.

  • Every person has value; therefor, you will find something good in them.
  • Celebrate the good.

10.  Live in joy.

  • Live in joy.  It is not your job to change people, so relax and enjoy life!

God Models Love

I love how God models this for us and shows us HOW to love.  Through the whole Bible we see a demonstration of God’s love in action.  Jesus showed us how to love, He lived it, He demonstrated it, He was passionate about it, it required something from Him.

He Models His Expectation of Us.

I love how God models this for us and shows us HOW to love.  Through the whole Bible we see a demonstration of God’s love in action.  Jesus showed us how to love, He lived it, He demonstrated it, He was passionate about it, it required something from Him.

He models this for us, but He also instructs us in love.  We see in the life of Jesus, how He moved with compassion.  When He encountered people, when people came to Him, He never turned them away; He always met their need.  He demonstrated His love for them.  He redefined it, explained it, and demonstrated it.

Jesus changed the face of compassion, tradition, and teaching. History had given the nation of Israel a concept of compassion that gave them liberties which Jesus was combating face on.

In Matthew 14:14, Jesus was moved with compassion.  He saw the great multitude and His compassion was moved towards them.  He saw their great need, their deficit and it caused Him to move, it required something from Him.  He healed their sick.

When we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus was teaching them how to be moved with compassion.  He was showing what compassion looked like in action.

Over and over we see how Jesus loved, how He was moved with compassion.  His love required action.   Compassion rose up from inside of Him, it came from His innermost being and it propelled Him in action.  Read the Gospels with the mindset of discovering how Jesus loved, how He was moved with compassion, how He interacted with people.

God is love.  It is part of who He is, it is one of His attributes.  He cannot function outside of His love. He demonstrated His love for mankind by sending His Son to die for us. His redemptive plan was formed before the foundations of the world.  He has modelled this for us. His expectation of us is that we would do the same.  He strongly states it that we are morally obligated to lay down our lives for our brothers.  He has created a picture of how we should live and how we relate to each other.  His desire is for us to live sacrificially for each other, that we would demonstrate love the way He did, by laying down our lives, our rights for each other.  He set very big boots to fill!

Love comes from the very core of our being; it resides in the seat of our affections.  The Bible uses the word bowels, which shows us that it is place deep inside us that rules us, it is the seat of affections.  It means inward affection, tender mercy.

This compassion is active; there is movement to it.  It cannot sit idly by while others are hurting or in need.  It is motivated by mercy.   It requires action from us.

Compassion comes from our bowels, from the place of tender affections, the place where mercy resides.   God uses the word bowels, which shows us that it is place deep inside us that rules us, it is the seat of affections.  Part of its root is mercy, which is kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.

Love requires something from us.  We cannot say that we love and have no action.  There must be action.

Let’s look at how God demonstrated His love for us and see how He wants us to love each other.

I John 3:17-18 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

God’s demonstration of His love for us by sending His Son to lay His life down for us.

What should we be willing to do for our brothers?  According to I John 3, His expectation of us is that we would lay down our lives for our brothers.

Our willingness to give to our brother reveals our heart, it reveals the love of God in us.

What are we to love in?  We are to love in deed and truth.  God’s expectation is that our love has action behind it, it is not just words.  He requires action from us!

We have seen how He loves us, we have discovered His definition of love, we have seen how He wants us to demonstrate His love, but how do we cultivate love and compassion?  How do we have our capacity to love enlarged?

Cultivating love and compassion as part of our character.

We have studied what love is, we have looked at how God loves us, and we have seen how Jesus demonstrated and modeled love for us.   All of these things help us to better understand how we should love others.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

When we read the word compassion in this verse, it comes from the word pitiful, which means well compassioned, sympathetic, tender hearted.  Interestingly it means to have strong bowels, a strong place of affections, a strong place where we are ruled from.

Compassion affects us deeply, it comes from the seat that rules us, and it is full of mercy and affection.

When we are functioning from a position of love, mercy motivates us and rules us.  We are willing to extend mercy even when the recipient doesn’t deserve it.

There is a dimension in compassion that joins us with their suffering or their pain.  We feel their pain, and we hurt for them.  This joint suffering compels us into action, it moves us from a place of complacency to where we want to help them succeed or overcome.

  • Compassion is connected to relationship.
  • Compassion releases the supernatural.
  • Compassion cannot live in passivity.
  • Compassion requires action.

Compassion requires action from us!

Colossians 3:12-17  gives us specific instructions of what we are to do and what we are to put on, it says PUT ON, there is an action required here.  He is instructing us to do something, He wants us  equipped.  We are to put on:

  • Bowels of mercies – this is compassion, pity, mercy.
  • Kindness – this is goodness, integrity, excellence in character.
  • Humbleness of mind – having a humble opinion of one’s self.
  • Meekness – gentleness, mildness.
  • Long-suffering – patience, endurance, steadfastness, perseverance.
  • Charity – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence.

We are instructed to:

  • Forbear one another – to hold up, bear, sustain.
  • Forgive each other – graciously to restore one to another.
  • Let the peace of God rule our hearts.
  • Be thankful – well favoured, mindful of favours, grateful. 

If we look back at verse 14,  we are instructed to above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.   Above everything else, we are to put on love.  Love is the bond, it is a joint tie that binds everything together.  Love is the ligament that brings it all together and causes everything to work well with completeness.

His expectation of us is to purposely put on the characteristics of love, this is a will decision, this requires us to do it intentionally.   Love is what makes everything we do work well.  If we think back on I Corinthians 13, we can be really adept in spiritual gifts, but if we don’t have love, it doesn’t work, it is for nothing.  I Corinthians 13 describes to us the uselessness of our works and words if they are not cloaked and covered in love and compassion.

If we could just grasp how effective we would be if we would continually walk in His love.  Everything that we do, everyone that we encounter, every conversation, if we would be moved by His compassion and demonstrate His love we would see amazing, supernatural things happen.  It is His love flowing through us that makes it all work, it is what binds it all together.  

People are desperate for a demonstration of love and Jesus wants to use you!  

Take a couple of minutes and ask God to enlarge your heart and enlarge your capacity to love.  Ask Him to change your head knowledge of love to a heart experience.  Ask Him to give you a different way of looking at people, a new lens, to see people how He sees them.  Now take a couple of minutes to sit quietly and receive what He has for you.

Tomorrow we will discover  10 Keys for practically walking in love and compassion.   

Oh How He loves Us!

God has opened up and revealed His love to me in such a large measure these past few months.  He has birthed an even greater love for others, and my heart has been enlarged for the care of others.  My cry has been to accurately reveal and display His heart.  Having a heart of compassion for others like the Father has for us.

We have all heard of I Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter, but today I want to see HOW God loves us,  what His definition of love is, how Jesus demonstrated love, and His expectation of how we should love each other.  I want us to have our capacity to love enlarged supernaturally!

God has opened up and revealed His love to me in such a large measure these past few months.  He has birthed an even greater love for others, and my heart has been enlarged for the care of others.  My cry has been to accurately reveal and display His heart.  Having a heart of compassion for others like the Father has for us.

My heart for you is that the Father would reveal His great love for YOU and that you would have your heart enlarged and transformed by His love and by the very virtue of His pouring of His love on you, you would in turn pour His love on others.

That being stated maybe you recognize yourself in the following paragraphs.  I think we can all see ourselves somewhere in there.  Let me ask you some questions, not to bring condemnation, but in an effort to be real.   By asking ourselves questions, we assess where we are at and we discover our need.

  • Have you been frustrated by the actions, attitudes or condition of someone?
  • How do we function from a position of love without getting frustrated with them and ourselves?
  • What do we require of others?  What do I require of myself?  Is it the same?
  • What does it mean to have compassion?
  • What does it mean to love?
  • What does love look like?

I was listening to some teaching on healing recently and the speaker used an illustration that twigged with me and caused me to examine how I function.

This gentlemen moves in healing, it is his assignment and he has seen thousands healed.  He liked to watch a particular TV show  – he liked the unorthodox character who thought outside the box.  But one day the Lord told him to stop watching that TV show.  He did not understand why.  He asked the Lord why, and the Lord told him that it would begin to effect his healing assignment.  He soon found this to be true, because instead of looking at people with a heart of compassion, he looked at their sickness and illness with a more analytical and critical eye.  He would think, that maybe they needed to change what they were eating or maybe that they needed more exercise.  The knowledge that he had gained from this show caused him to loose his compassion.  He had to refocus and bring that area of his thoughts back into subjection.  He had to be, move and live in the position of compassion.

This began to germinate inside me; what things, thoughts and ideas have robbed me of my compassion?  What things have moved me from my position of compassion?  It’s like a compass that is slightly off, you won’t be effective, you will be frustrated, irritated, you won’t hit the target, you will be doing all the work but the joy won’t be there.  We must re-calculate our route!  Get our compass reading correctly.

We live with people, work with people, play with people, we rub elbows with them, we fight with them, argue with them, disagree with them, we are irritated with them, frustrated by them…………………….we could come to believe that THEY are the problem!  But we are going to have to continue to live with them, work with them……..so how do I not allow them to frustrate me?  There are many things that we can do, but I think the first and foremost is compassion.  Compassion and love will transform and change OUR thoughts and feelings!

I think for us to fully understand HOW to love each other, we must see HOW the Father has loved us.

For many, this is head knowledge, we know that He loves us because the Bible tells us so, but it hasn’t become heart knowledge where we KNOW He loves us.  I want to spend some time looking at His love for us, and then how He models His expectations for us in how we should love others.

What is Love?

When you think of the word love, what comes to mind?  How would you define love?  We all have pictures and ideas of what love looks like, but I think the best description of love comes from the Bible.  Paul clearly describes what love looks like.  He paints a beautiful picture for to help us understand.

Let’s break I Corinthians 13:4-8 down.

  1. Love suffers long.  It does not loose heart, it patiently bears the offences and injuries of others.  Love bravely endures misfortunes and troubles.  Love is patient.
  2. Love is kind.  Love is mild and pleasant in character, it is not harsh, sharp or bitter.
  3. Love does not envy.  It doesn’t boil with envy, hatred or anger.
  4. Love does not boastful.  It is not a braggart.  It will promote others and loves to see others succeed.  It doesn’t need credit for what it has done.
  5. Love is not puffed up.  It is not proud and doesn’t inflate itself.  Love is humble.
  6. Love does not act unbecomingly.  It is not ill mannered, it is not rude.
  7. Love does not seek its seek its own.  Love doesn’t insist on its own way.  It is willing to lay down its own rights for the benefit of others.  It looks for ways to benefit other people, it is more concerned about the state of the other person.
  8. Love is not easily provoked.  Love does not get easily irritated, it is not easily exasperated.
  9. Love thinks no evil.  It is not destructive or injurious in its thinking.  It does not think worthless thoughts.
  10. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.  Love acts against injustice.  It doesn’t rejoice at the failings or fallings of another, but love causes us to be stirred to help them succeed.
  11. Love rejoices in truth. Love stands in opposition to unrighteousness and what is wrong.  Truth is celebrated and held up as the standard.  Love will not lie.
  12. Love bares all things. Love covers with silence.  It does not expose people’s faults.
  13. Love believes all things.  Love has faith to believe and to trust.
  14. Love hopes all things.  Love expects, it has an expectation.
  15. Love endures all things.  Love remains and doesn’t pull back.  It preserves under misfortunes and trials, holding fast to our faith in Christ.
  16. Love never fails.  It is not powerless, there is power in love.  It moves things, changes things.  When love is enacted it always brings a result.

We have been given a great description of what love looks like.  But God doesn’t want this to be just in our heads, He wants it in our hearts.  When it remains in our heads and does not flow from our hearts, it becomes something that we know, but we do not function in.  We say, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah……’ but there is very little do, do, do……

O How He Loves Us!

For us to fully understand love, we must look at God and how He loves.  When we read First John, it says that God IS love.  Love is one of God’s attributes; it is part of WHO He is.  He cannot function outside of His love; He cannot do anything that is contrary to His nature.

I John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 

His love is extravagant!  His love for us is of the highest quality.  I love how Wuest puts it, exotic love – love that is foreign to the human heart.   We don’t easily understand it.  His love is permanent; it does not change!  Oh, how I wish you would grasp and understand this!   He LOVES YOU!  It is not dependent upon what you do or don’t do!  He LOVES YOU!   We are not worthy of it, we have done nothing to deserve it, and yet He loves us!  Settle in your heart – HE LOVES ME!

If this is something that you struggle with, or maybe as you were reading the above statement, you thought, ‘…..but….’.  I want you to stop right here and ask Him to show you His love.

Ephesians 2:4-5 gives us another picture of how He loves us.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

I love how the Amplified Bible states it, ‘because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us.’  His love motivated Him, it drove Him to give His life for us, it is what propelled Him to the cross.  His love required an action from Him; He could not sit passively by and do nothing.  It drove Him and propelled Him to the cross.  It is important to note that He did ALL of this while we were sinners!

God loves YOU!  He wants you to EXPERIENCE His love, He doesn’t want His love to just be head knowledge.  He wants you to feel and experience it everyday.  He wants you to live in His love.

Take a few moments today, and ask the Father to demonstrate His love towards you.  Ask Him to show you HOW much He loves you.   Then sit for a few minutes and receive His love.

Learning to Hear His Voice

Do you desire to hear God’s voice more clearly, regularly, and distinctly?  Have you ever said, “I wish I could hear from God like other people do?”

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Rev 2:7

The Holy Spirit is a communicator!  He loves to speak!  He loves to talk with you!  He desires to have continual communication with you, not just during storms or trials.  He wants to talk daily with you.  He is very vocal, we just need to learn to hear Him.

Why do you think the Holy Spirit wants to talk with you?  DO you think that He wants to talk to you?  Maybe this is a new idea and you have never considered that God would actually want to speak to you.

Do you desire to hear God’s voice more clearly, regularly, and distinctly?  Have you ever said, “I wish I could hear from God like other people do?”

Do you ever wonder, is this God or is this me?  Many people ask, ‘How do I recognize when God speaks to me?  How do I know that it is not just me’?   Do you desire to effectively discern when someone tells you, ‘God spoke to me, or God told me’, whether it is from God or not?

Do you want to understand God’s Word more?  Do you want to understand how to apply His Word to your life?

Do you have a desire to be His vessel, someone who hosts His presence, that no matter where you go, who you meet, you are ready to effectively minister His love, grace, and goodness?

We have heard that today God doesn’t speak the same way as He spoke in the Bible.  Have you ever said to someone; ‘God spoke to me and said…’ only to have him or her look at you like you are crazy? Have you ever noticed how on TV, when they depict someone who has heard from God, they depict them as a crazy person, someone who doesn’t have all of their marbles in place?

But in His Word, He says that He does speak AND He actually expects us to listen and obey!  There are many different ways in which God speaks to us.  There is no set formula; God will speak to you in the way He chooses.

Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice,  and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27

The Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself, but He will receive of the Father and the Son and speak to us what they say.  It is God’s plan for us to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice.

He is pouring out His Spirit today. God is speaking and He is pouring Himself out upon us today, presently.  Joel 2:28-29, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

  • He speaks to us through words.
    Acts 8:27-29  Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
  • He speaks to us through dreams and visions.
    Joel 2:28-29, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
  • He speaks to us in our spirits – a still small voice.
    I Kings 19:12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God.
  • He speaks to us through what we see.
    Through out the book of Jeremiah, He asks Jeremiah, ‘what do you see?’
  • His communication requires a response.  Further instructions or benefits are dependent upon our response.When God met Saul on the road to Damascus,  God spoke to him and He required obedience from him.  God gave Saul an instruction.  Saul’s obedience brought him to Ananias where he received  greater revelation and understanding.  He received healing and he was commissioned.
  • He gives you what to speak.  He will give you the words to say and the exact moment you need them.
    Mark.13:11  “But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

You may ask, ‘how do I hear the Holy Spirit’s voice?’  Set aside time every day to spend with the Holy Spirit.  Get into the Word and spend time talking with the Holy Spirit and meditating upon God.  Talk to Him about your day.  Ask Him what He wants you to know today.  You can bring specific questions before Him and seek Him for an answer.   Listen for an answer and be willing to obey.  Then as you go about your day, talk to Him; involve Him in your day and your decision-making processes.  Involve Him in your conversations, speaking to Him and asking Him for direction and the right words to say.   Become more aware of Him as you go about your day.

Get so accustomed to talking with Him that you know immediately when He speaks to you.

Fear – What to do with it.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear) but (He has given us a spirit) of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.  2 Timothy 1:7

Fear, we have all experienced it and had it affect our lives.  There are many types of fear.  To name a few, there is the fear of abandonment, death, people, being unloved, heights, spiders, germs and the list goes on.  Doctors spend hours a week with patients helping them overcome their fears.

There is a healthy fear that triggers and gives our bodies a signal to take flight and flee, when there is danger near. Our creator designed our bodies to react quickly to protect us from danger, however, when our imaginations and fears are left out of control, Satan uses them to keep us bound, in terror and not able to enjoy our lives.

John 10:10 says ‘The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’   God’s plan for our lives is that we would live a life of joy, freedom and abundance.

Fear lives and feeds on poor self-image, failure, and my past.  Because it is a spirit, it has constant movement.

Fear can be debilitating if it is not brought under subjection and under control.   Fears abound everywhere in all of us.  That is not going to change, fear will always be here.  The place that we allow it in our lives is what matters.    We are not denying the existence of fear, but we must put it in its proper place.  Whatever we give a place of influence in our lives, rules us.  If we give fear an elevated position in our lives we will live in terror incapacitated to fulfill our life’s assignments.  This is why it is so important to have the Word of God firmly rooted in us, knowing what His Word says about life, my circumstances and situations.  We must elevate His Word above all.  We must believe what His Word says and not be dictated to by fear.  The power is found in aligning ourselves with the Word!

When we function from a position of:  my identity in Christ and what is the destiny assignment that I have been given, we begin to place our emotions, fears and circumstances in their proper place.  We must not give them an elevated position in our lives.

When fear dominates our lives we are ruled by it.  It controls us and it dictates our actions.  We should not be ruled by fear.  If we are not to be ruled by fear, then we must ask ourselves the questions, what should we be ‘ruled’ by?

There are two Kingdoms in the Bible – the Kingdom of God/Heaven and the Kingdom of Darkness.  These two kingdoms have very distinguishing differences, and are ruled by different kings.  You were in the Kingdom of Darkness and now you are in the Kingdom of God.  He took you into His kingdom and wants you to let it rule you.  But your flesh doesn’t like that and it wars against your mind and uses your weaknesses, failures, and your past to terrorize you and paralyze you.

Why is this important for us to understand?

Kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God in my life.  The word king is used for a reason, because many believe in God but are not ruled by Him.  A King is the one who rules His domain in my life.  This is what we should be ruled by.  What does that look like?

The Bible tells us that ‘For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 14:17

When His Kingdom is ruling our lives our fears are dealt with in the way that  our King has set out.

This brings us to our position in Christ. To function at our fullest capabilities, freedom, and authority, we MUST understand what our position is.  We MUST know what our identity is.

When we fully understand our position in Christ, we move into our rightful authority.  All that Jesus took possession of He shares with us.  All the victories of the cross, He shares with us.  This is an amazing position to be in.  We are His sons, His heirs.

In Romans 8:15 we read ‘For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” ‘

Paul is bringing out the reality of our position in Christ Jesus.  We are no longer slaves but sons and we qualify for all that is available to sons.  Sons do not function from a position of fear and cowering, rather they are dressed in royal garments and the have full access to all that the father has and the authority to execute it.

We need to realize that we don’t need to remain in states of fear and panic.

Spirit of Fear:
For a moment let’s dig a little deeper into the spirit of fear.  The word spirit is defined as the movement of wind.  So the spirit of fear is the constant movement of terror, torment, intimidation, cowardice, and dread in our lives.

He wants us to function with the principal of replacement.

So now as we read 2 Timothy 1:7, let’s expound on the words and pull out the original meanings.  It says, He has not given us the spirit of fear – He has replaced it with….power (dunamis of the Holy Spirit)  This is the constant movement of the Holy Spirit in our life.  His power is working in us.

Power:  dunamis of the Holy Spirit.
It is from this word that we get our word dynamite.  When we read the definition of dunamis we begin to get a fuller picture of power that God has given us.  It enables us to understand what our authority is.  We have enough power in us to blow up the terror.  In the Holy Ghost is where you find strength, power, and ability.

Ability of dunamus:  inherent nature in which a person can be exerted or put forth.  Who we really are can be put forth.  Excellency of soul, moral power, ability to perform miracles.

The power and influence that belongs to riches and wealth.  They have the ability to buy anything, go anywhere they want, and do what they want.  Dunamis is this power.

Its classed as a power consisting or resting upon armies, forces and hosts….its overwhelming power.  It cannot be stopped.  It has all the weapons you need.

Sound mind:
Let’s look at the definitions we find for sound mind.  It’s an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control.  It is to moderate, control, curb, disciple, to hold to one’s duty.

To admonish, to exhort earnestly.  It is to be of a sound mind, sane.  It means to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction.  To deliver from the penalties of Christ’s judgement.  To save from the evils which obstruct the reception of Christ’s deliverance.

When we read the definitions of sound mind we begin to understand the fullness of we have exchanged the spirit of fear for.   We have traded up!  We have given up terror and fear and it has been replaced the provision of being safe and sound, being rescued from danger, injury, disease, saved from evils which obstruct the reception of Christ’s deliverance.  We have been given the provision of healing and health.  We have the ability to think sanely and be in our right senses.  We can curb our desires and impulses.

The sound mind operates on the Word, what does the Word say? Get to KNOW the Word.  Power comes from aligning with the Word!

By virtue of its inherent nature – the new creation (which you are) has a sound mind.

Love – brotherly affection, good will, benevolence, celebration (celebrate love).

The negatives effects of an abusive past are not greater in power than dunamis, love, power and sound mind and they should never keep you from living a free, abundant, full life that Christ has paid the price for.

Know Your Resources.

We have studied the importance of knowing our identity in Christ and we have seen in I Timothy what God has replaced the spirit of fear with.  These are very important for us to understand.  But I would like to address a few other areas regarding combating fear.

David

Let’s look at I Samuel 30:6 first.  The background of this story is, David and his army had been out fighting.  (They were on their assignment.  They were doing good.) They returned home from war to find that all of their wives, children, and possession had been taken.  David’s men were very angry with him and ready to stone him.  David was distressed and I am sure he was experiencing some fear.

Read 1 Samuel 30:6-20

We can learn from David’s example of what he did during times of distress.  We discover a few interesting principles in this passage.

  • His condition.
    • What was David’s condition? v. 6
      David was in great distress.
    • He had to put up with others distress.  Everyone wanted to stone him – he had no friends.  He had no one to support him, build him up, encourage him, instruct him.
  • He encouraged himself.
    • It is interesting to note that he commands the Ephod be brought to him. ‘Bring me the thing God communicates with me.’ V.7
      • David knew that he needed to hear from God. He didn’t want to hear from others, he needed to talk to God.  He knew the avenue from which God spoke to him.  He recognized it.  Before he spoke or gave direction, he enquired of God.
      • He enquired of God v.8

Enquire means – to ask a favour. To borrow. To consult. To seek, desire, require, salute, demand earnestly.  It is a strong word.  He was enquiring for a result.  God, You’ve got them, and I need to hear from You.  He wanted direction, but he also wanted to know what the result would be.

  • He followed the instructions.
    • He followed the word.  You can never encourage yourself outside the Word.  The Power is found in aligning yourself with the Word.

It is vital for us to learn to encourage ourselves in the Lord.  We cannot depend upon others to do this for us, to prop us up, wind us up and send us on our way.   We must learn the art of encouraging ourselves in the Lord.

Elisha & his Servant

The next area I would like to briefly discuss, is knowing what is going on in the spiritual realm.  The story that comes to my mind is the story of Elisha and his servant.  The background for this story is, king of Aram was at war with Israel.  They were continually trying to raid Israel and he was frustrated because every time he moved the Israelites knew he was coming.  So his people told him, that the prophet Elisha was telling the king of the Israelites what was going on even in his bedchambers.  So king Aram sent out his army to find Elisha and capture him.  Here is where we will pick up the story, with Elisha’s servant opening the door and discovering the army

Again, we see a powerful principle in play.  Elisha’s servant was afraid because he only saw what was going on in the natural.  He did not have the discernment to know what was going on in the spiritual.  Maybe he was not skilled in hearing from God. When Elisha asked God to open his servant’s eyes, the servant’s fear dissipated because he could now see things clearly, the whole picture.  He then recognized that he did not need to fear because God was with them.  The enemy was trying to steal and raid in Israeli territory and by only seeing in the natural the servant let fear and terror rule him, but when his eyes were opened and he saw what Elisha saw (and what God was up to) his fear left.

We need to remember that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12.

Sometimes the enemy is trying to steal our territory.  Sometimes he is running raid parties into our territory.  We do not have to tremble and fear, nor do we have to tolerate it.  Rather, we can like David and Elisha did:

  • Enquire of the Lord.
  • Ask the Lord to show us what is really going on.
  • Ask Him for instructions and a game plan.
  • Ask Him what the outcome is going to be.

Then base your decision on what God reveals to you.  If I cower and run in fear, I will give up my territory and I will never receive the help that the Father has made available to me, but if I seek His face I will recover and protect the territory He has for me.

Do not let the past dictate your present or plan your future. Remember that you are a child of God, He is your Father and He has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind. The thief comes for destruction, but our Father does not. Change the way you look at situations, ask God to open your eyes to see His hand behind the circumstance.

You do not need to live in fear anymore.

Turning Love Around

Our society seems to flourish on ME.  What can you do for me?  What does your organization have to offer me?  What can I get out of this?    This seems to be a resounding theme in our culture, which is opposite to the Jesus culture that Jesus created.

In the Old Testament we were given the laws and the commandments, but in the New Testament Jesus redefined it all, He summed it all up into two commandments. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

He made it simple for us – two things to remember!  Love Him with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves.

We can break that command up into three questions:

  • Whom am I to love?
  • What am I to do?
  • How am I to do it?

The definition of love is:

  • to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly, benevolence
  • to approve of, to like, to treat affectionately or kindly, to welcome, befriend, to show signs of love, to be friendly to one, wish him well
  • To esteem, love, indicating a direction of the will and finding one’s joy in something or someone.
  • To respect, veneration, meaning to love and serve with fidelity
  • Love is caring in action.  It is an action, not a state of being.  It is a habitual action that often reflects a lifestyle. It is in the active voice which means that we carry out the action.

What does that picture look like?  How do I love my neighbors as myself? What would happen if we turned our questions around?  Turning, What can you do for me? into What can I do to help? Asking the questions, What can I do for you? or What can I give? What would happen in our homes, jobs, churches, schools, neighbourhoods if we began to ask the question, ‘what can I do’?

By changing our focus from ourselves and onto others we create an environment for fulfillment and an environment for God to work through us.  What would our impact on those around us look like if we daily became dispensers of His love and goodness?  When we create an environment for God to work, exciting things begin to happen – miracles, God moments and encounters.  Possibilities begin to open  that were not there previously. When we invest in others we take our minds off of ourselves and our problems; we begin to live much happier and more fulfilled lives.

Be a dispenser of His love and goodness!