Celebrate Christmas Year Round

2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP) Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].

I pray you had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with your families. My family and I are away from home, enjoying each other, in the mountains of Tennessee. We take this time to just be us. We go on adventures, eat out at new places and spend time in a new environment to check on our growth status as a family.

I think we should do that regularly as believers as well. We get so comfortable in our routines. I use to read the above scripture and think that it only applied to the moment I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. That is just part of it. Freedom comes when you realize that spiritual awakening brings new life. My spirit man became alive, yes, however I did not know it’s fullness until I started applying the next verse.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (AMP) But all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ [making us acceptable to Him] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation [so that by our example we might bring others to Him], that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them]. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation [that is, restoration to favor with God]. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we [as Christ’s representatives] plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. 

I am a minister of reconciliation, and if you are in Christ, so are you. As I surrender and pursue after a relationship with the Father, His spirit will begin to speak to my spirit and reveal things in His Word that will cause me to grow and get stronger spiritually. There is no magic formula. I cannot wait to feel it in my emotions. This is a decision I have to make. I have to determine to want the new.

Read your Word not to get your streaks, and not to get your goal to read in a certain amount of time. Read your Word with a surrendered heart. “God what are you saying to me today?” I cannot allow my emotions to lead my life or run my life. It is not about the feeling, it about the character and nature as revealed through His Word.

How can we celebrate Christmas year round? How do I determine if this new life is a part of me continually? Be determined each day to grow in God. How? 1) Through relational development. I must be committed to spending time with God. 2) Through personal surrender. I must be willing to say no to things in my life that pulls me away from the development and relationship with Him. 3) Make myself available to serve. If you have number one and number two and you do not have an outlet in the kingdom, then you really are not growing in anything. If you have number three with out numbers one and two, you are doing it for self promotion and not kingdom building. It is in the moments that you serve that the things that you have learned will be tested and proven. Being available to serve is proving ground in what you said you learned. I would also like to suggest that being available to serve will reveal your calling…the calling to the ministry of reconciliation.

Father, I thank you for the gift of love that you show and give. Let me be an example of that love by answering the call into the ministry of reconciliation. Through your Son I have been made a new creation. The person I was yesterday, is different from who I am today. I choose to grow in your Word and in your ways by developing a closer relationship with you. I choose to serve as I grow. I choose to surrender as I grow. Your life is better than my old life. You are where I find my fullness. Let me be an example of that to others. In Jesus Name, Amen.

So Loved

John 3:16-18 (MSG) This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

The most quoted verse, John 3:16. We see people holding poster boards with “John 3:16” written at different events. Our athletes have it written on their face or on their clothing somewhere when they go into a game. It is the most well known of all the verse, other than the shortest verse…Jesus wept.

Have you heard something so many times and the meaning of it gets watered down? I think that is how we get about the “So Loved” part of this scripture. The KJV says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I was thinking on this verse on how Jesus told us to love. Can we love as big as He did? We often look at the word “so” and say His love is so great, that He gave. What if we see the word “so” as how He loves, not why He loves? Does God really need a why? Love is in His DNA, it is His character and nature. He did not need a reason, so why should we?

This time of year can be really difficult for some people. Think of the mother and father that no longer have the structured family they had in previous years. My thoughts are with an individual who will be spending their first Christmas without their children waking up in their home, because of divorce. Those parents who are empty-nesters for the first time and not all the kids could come home or Christmas. Those that have been home bound since COVID and never got back out to doing life like it was before.

Ephesians 3:16-19 (AMP) May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

“Having been deeply rooted and securely grounded in love,” that is what we must hold onto when those around us do not make us feel loved. I have been deeply rooted and securely grounded in love. Past tense, it has already been done, I do not have to wait for it to be done.

1 John 4:10-11 (AMP)  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath]. Beloved, if God so loved us [in this incredible way], we also ought to love one another.

Beloved, give love regardless of what others have done. God so loved, that He gave first. Be known for your love (unselfishly seeking the best for others). That is what the joy of this season is all about. Remembering that He SO LOVED! God is a giver and so should we be too. Why? Because we have been deeply rooted and securely grounded in love. We have everything we will ever need when Jesus came. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior our DNA was changed to love. Show your SO LOVED today!

Father, thank you for sending your Son and planting the seed of SO LOVED. You are so wonderful. You are so glorious. You are worthy of our honor and praise. Thank you for deeply rooting me and securely grounding me in your love. I desire to be a giver and thank you that you have given me the tools in your love to give. I will never be alone because of your love. May I be an encouragement to others that do not feel loved during this season. Let me see them. Anoint my tongue and my hands, lead me to minister reconciliation to them, as we are all called to do. In Jesus Name, Amen.

My Jerusalem

My Jerusalem April 2, 2022

Romans 12:9-13 (MSG) Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

For most parts of the country this week, the temperature dropped, but not gradually. It dropped like we just saw a patrol car and we were going fifty miles over the speed limit! If you are like me, you still refuse to turn on the heat, because it is just going to be hot again by the weekend. My kids and I have been walking around the house in hoodies. My husband is sleeping during the day (he is on third shift) so he does not get to enjoy the crisp fall weather during the day. By my request he has taken the weekend off. Why? So that we can serve as a family, with our church, in our community.

My city has an ministry that is called Way 2 Serve. Twice a year they hold an event called My Jerusalem, taken from the book of Nehemiah. Churches, small groups and individuals gather and are sent out to do home repairs in our city. I have been doing it with who ever I could get to go with me for a few years now. The past few times we have been getting together to do it with our church. It is a wonderful way to put in to practice the above scripture.

The Amplified Bible says this, “Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.”

When my husband and I sat down to write the vision for Connect Church we knew people got excited about missions. My husband grew up on the mission field. He lived in Belize for ten years. He saw what it was like for those who came and did short term missions and the expense it was for them to make that trip. It is an opportunity to go into all the world. However, we wanted to make the biggest impact. We needed to start here. So we came up with, “We exist to touch the world through our community.” As a church we do not have to start up programs when great ones are already going on in our city. We joined up with Way 2 Serve.

We are looking forward to repairing a home so that someone can get their home back. We are looking forward to showing genuine love. We do that by taking time off, by getting up early on a Saturday, by braving this cold snap and putting our hands to the needs of people. People need to know that they are seen. They need to know that they are loved. There have been times that we did not get to meet the home owner. There have been times when I spent all day with them because they had to tear down to the jousts to get the rot out. Every project is different. The heart is the same. We are honoring each other. Enthusiastically serving and practicing hospitality. We get to do this! How can you get burned out by making the biggest impact in someone’s life?!

Father, I thank you for the love that you have shown us by sending your only Son to die for us. Let us continue to show love for others in doing good to those who are in need. Thank you for gifting us with the ability to do it with a glad heart. Let this weekend glorify You. Our heart is to bring people closer to you. Let us be the hands and feet that shows your love and mercy. Lead us. We rejoice in hope because of our confident trust in Christ Jesus. We thank you for the impact that we will make this weekend. Let your love flow through us. We thank you for the leading of the Holy Spirit and wisdom on how to accomplish the tasks before us. We praise you for giving each one of us and small part to do something big together. Thank you for the church body that you have planted us into. We strengthen each other to do the work of the ministry. Let us walk boldly as ministers of reconciliation this weekend. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Just the way you are

Philippians 4:8 (AMP)  Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

This week I had a discussion with a friend and they were talking about how they desired to speak in a way that people would receive them. Like me, they feel like people do not receive them because they come off too harsh (just blunt). Their heart (and mine) is to say these things out of love and to point others towards Christ. There is no ill intent, just to make it plain.

Here is what I stated, and what I have to put in front of myself, we are all responsible for how we receive. Why is Paul making these statements on how to think? Paul has sent harsh letters of rebuke. He has sent letters of encouragement. He wrote the most quoted verses on love. Preceding the verses above he talks to the church about being anxious and worrying. He encourages them to live a life of thanksgiving to God. He tells us that we need to guard our hearts.

God created us with the personality that we have. When we draw close to Him we should grow in integrity and character. My character (moral nature) will align with His. My personality, the parts that make me unique to me, He loves. I do not need to try to be like someone else.

A few years ago I was going through a hard time with someone in the work place. I had led a meeting with our group about seeing value in each other, using the above verse. A couple of weeks later tension rose up again and one of the employees confronted me that she just did not like me. I asked her if she could see me through Philippians 4:8 and her response was that she could not. Being a Christians non-profit, this was not a good environment and I should have put in my notice, but I loved the organization. At that moment I realized that because of my personality she did not like me. Nothing I did was wrong. Now I could have done one of two things, I could beat myself up and sulk about not being a likable person or I could walk in confidence and knowing who I am in Christ and that the love walk means that although they may not like me I have value and so do they. I would like to say that I did the later, but the next six months were miserable there.

This is what I told my friend the other day, and what I wish someone would have said to me, are you speaking out of genuine love and and a desire to see them grow? If yes, then it is up to the one receiving to think on what is true, what is of value and what brings peace (especially if they are a brother and sister in Christ). We should be thinking of each other with the expectation that we want to see each other grow. We should challenge and encourage each other. It is the challenging part that we may not like, but we really do need.

Paul was not always liked, but he was what the people needed. You are too. You make an impact because of Christ in you. I am thankful for you and that God created you just the way you are.

Father, I thank you for creating me just the way that I am. I thank you that you put people in my life to challenge me and to encourage me to grow. I am rooted and grounded in the love of your Son, Jesus. I choose today to see the statements made to me, that encourage me to grow, as true, as honorable and worthy of respect I choose to confirm them by your word. I choose to see my bothers and sisters in Christ as pure and wholesome I choose to think on whatever is lovely and brings peace. Those that you have placed in my life are admirable and of good repute. There is excellence, there are areas worthy of praise and I will think continually on these things. You have implanted love in my heart and I thank you for opportunities to implant them into others.

I cannot stumble in peace

Psalms 119:165 (MEV) Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing shall cause them to stumble.

As I was reading Psalms 119 yesterday this verse jumped up at me. There are many verses in that section that I highlighted, but this one I meditated on a little more. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). What does that really mean? In Matthew 10:34, Jesus tells us that He did not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword. What! Then there is this block of verses that can be taken way out of context: “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his [own] household [when one believes and another does not].” (verses 35-36 AMP)

What is it about us that we are attracted to drama? The first place that our minds go to is that they just do not like me or they just do not want me. It stems from our root nature to judge the situation for ourselves. That is why we have to renew our minds daily. This is why we need to mediate on the Word daily. That is why the psalmist wrote, “those who love Your law have great peace.” The law here is the precepts or the first five books of the Bible that we have today. When the disciples led others to Christ, they did so by showing how Christ fulfilled the law (which means they knew it). When the thoughts of destruction or fear rise up that others are against us, we need to be grounded in the One who knows us.

John 14:27 (AMP) Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

How can I not allow my heart to be troubled? I need to be rooted and grounded in His love (Ephesians 3:16-19). The hardest part of entering peace is first accepting that you are loved. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 AMP). I read this yesterday and it really calmed the storm of what others perceive of me: “He does not love you with the hope that you will be like someone else,” Lisa Bevere. He does not love me hoping that I will become anything more than He has created me to be. I was created to be His daughter.

I am here to tell you that you may battle rejection. You may fight the urge to hide because you feel like you do not measure up. Our hiding place is in Him. We can walk boldly into that throne room of grace because of Jesus and His great love. When we do not walk in His love, we walk in fear. We will walk in the mindset that we are not accepted. We will focus on other things that will not line up with the purpose for our lives, that is to glorify Him. When we choose anything else we will stumble.

Philippians 4:8 (AMP) Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

His Word is good and that is why we should implant them in our hearts. Direct your mind back to the Word. I cannot get focused on anything other than His Word. Yes, there are demonic spirits out there that want to tear down every ounce of peace that we have. However, we do not fight against people. We should never put our mouths against people. People are not trying to indoctrinate us or our children, the enemy is. When we know the Word, when we spend time in relationship with Him, we will know His voice. All those other voices can speak, scream or yell, but they will not have access to my peace. Why? Because I am rooted and grounded in His love. It is not a passive love. It is an aggressive and passionate love. A love that I will pursue after.

Father, I thank you for sending your Son to be the Prince of Peace. Thank you for changing my mindset of what Your peace is. Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is knowing that we are grounded in love. You are my hiding place and my fortress of peace. I love your Word and it will not depart from my heart. Thank you for the ability to renew my mind. I choose to focus on You today. I choose to walk in love today. Show me opportunities to glorify You today. Lead me through the still waters. I choose to listen to Your voice today. I am loved because You are love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

The baggage that should not be claimed

Philippians 3:13-14 (AMP) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul was a man with a past. Paul (known as Saul) held the coats of those stoning Stephen. He was responsible for persecuting the early church. Then he was the one who was being persecuted. Why? Jesus became real to him and he could not keep quiet about it. He learned first hand what Stephen was going through physically, and he held the coats of those doing it, while cheering them on.

We often wonder what Paul’s thorn was in 2 Corinthians 12, could it be the hurt he caused those that he is now trying to minister to? How he wished that they would forget like God has forgotten who he was. Paul was not the same man he was holding those coats. He was not the same man who searched the cities with the intent of killing anyone who professed Christ. That did not mean he was trusted by them now.

Paul said that in verse 10 that his determined purpose was to know Him more. That is something you and I have to grow in, just like Paul did. He was humble enough to admit that he did not reach there to completion yet, he had some things he was still working out, but one thing he did know was to forget what lies behind and reach forward.

He had to let go of the baggage of his past. There are some areas that we have to get to the root cause of. Those areas are rejection, hurts, orphan spirit, victim mentality, etc.. The area I am talking about is our mistakes. Like us, Paul had made some mistakes. He could not put his focus there. We can carry it around like baggage and let it way us down. If we try to unpack it, we eventually put it on and identify with it.

Have you ever flown and your luggage was too heavy? Instead of paying the surcharge to check a heavier piece of luggage. you take out items and put them on. So now you are wearing two pairs of pants and three bulky shirts. That is what it is like when we identify with our mistakes because we tried to unpack them and examine them. How comfortable is that flight going to be? The seats are already tight enough. Don’t you think a little bit of anxiety is going to set in? We sit there long enough like that and depression gets a hold of us. Then you do not want to move. You would rather hide in your bed than face the world because you have identified with your mistakes. Relationships start to suffer and now you have isolated yourself.

The biblical word for baggage is strongholds. It is the one area that always stays with us. Always trips us up.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

The definition of stronghold here is: a prisoner locked by deception. Living life by something that is not true.

This is why Paul said forgetting what lies behind. God chose to forget our sins. We have to choose to forget our past. The Hebrew words for “forget,” shakach and nashah means to cease to care or to ignore. It is has not dropped from the mind, but it has dropped from the equation.

Still think it’s too bad? You have been through too much?

This is when you need to stand on Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Paul fought with his flesh, the human nature to do things with self concern. The inability to walk in forgiveness and not letting go of who we use to be, has to do with us. We need Jesus.

Ephesians 4:22-23 (AMP) Regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude].

I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

How? By forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. Drop it. Your mistakes do not have to form your future. There may be consequences. Like Paul, the people had to watch and see the character change that happened. There is not need of convincing. Take off that old self and let them see the true you, the you that was made in His image. Glorify God with where you are right now. We are all still progressively growing. We are going to make more mistakes. None of us have perfected this, not even Paul. Jesus has been the perfect one. Keep going. Keep focused on Jesus. Get to know Him more through the Word, through prayer, through the Holy Spirit and through showing love (the unselfish concern for others). We are His, let Him work through you today.

Father, I thank you that you are the God that sees me. You know my every thought and action. Yet, you sent your Son to die for me. Please help me in the areas that try to weigh down my mind. I know you have forgiven me for my past, please help me not to live there any more. You say we can come boldly before you in your grace and mercy. I know you do not identify me by past and I am not asking you to control the thoughts of others. Please help me to not see them as my enemy and not ones who bring condemnation. Let your love flow through me. I desire to be close to you and glorify you in all that I do. In Jesus Name, Amen.

My ‘why’ behind my response

Romans 8:1 (AMP) Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior].

This verse is often misquoted. Did Paul say this in retaliation or relief? Was it in defense or comfort? When do you use this verse? Is it in an argument? Are you being defensive? Is it because you have become offended by correction by those in leadership over you?

I can become defensive and I have to remind myself of this verse,”Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV). Why? I will often come up with scenarios as why someone jumped to that conclusion about me. It is a defense mechanism I came up with when I was a child. I was the oldest and was given a lot of responsibility at an early age. I felt pressure to be perfect. If I was not perfect, if I had messed up, then I was shamed for it. I became isolated. I felt very alone as a result of the silent treatment I was given because I did not meet expectations. I have really worked hard on not having defense come up when a question comes up on why I make certain decision or what I am doing. I still have not become perfect in my response, but that’s okay. Charles Spurgeon once said, “I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.” So I apologize and move ahead.

Have you ever thought that this main verse may be the continuation of a thought? This is not the beginning of the thought process, it is his conclusion. Read it in context for the fullness. “Therefore” should not be where we plant our flag if we have not taken the time to find out how Paul got here.

Romans‬ ‭7:14-25‬ ‭(AMP)‬‬ “We know that the Law is spiritual, but I am a creature of the flesh [worldly, self-reliant—carnal and unspiritual], sold into slavery to sin [and serving under its control]. For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. Now if I habitually do what I do not want to do, [that means] I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good (morally excellent). So now [if that is the case, then] it is no longer I who do it [the disobedient thing which I despise], but the sin [nature] which lives in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. For the willingness [to do good] is present in me, but the doing of good is not. For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want to do, I am no longer the one doing it [that is, it is not me that acts], but the sin [nature] which lives in me. So I find it to be the law [of my inner self], that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully delight in the law of God in my inner self [with my new nature], but I see a different law and rule of action in the members of my body [in its appetites and desires], waging war against the law of my mind and subduing me and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is within my members. Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]? Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind serve the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness, my sinful capacity—I serve] the law of sin.” ‭‭

If you believe that wrestling is condemnation, you are mistaken. Wrestling with your flesh should not bring you to condemnation, it should bring you closer to Christ. Your conclusion should not be condemnation, it should be Jesus. That is exactly what Paul is saying here. Paul was battling with himself that he knew to do write but his flesh did not want to. Have you ever gotten the “just don’t want to’s.” Paul recognized that he fought that. What did he turn to? Condemnation will in turn bring us to the door way of depression with thoughts of “I’m not good enough,” or “I will never be able to do that.”

When my Eli was in little league, at about the age of 10, he played a game that his batting was really bad. He is a wonderful ball player, but some days they have a bad day. He hung his head in shame. He talked about how bad of a player he was and how he let the team down. I had to remind him of the great play he made in the outfield and that he brought more to the team than his batting average. Some days you cannot get into the momentum of hitting. That is okay. He cannot give up. He needs to go back to practice and try again. He kept at it and is now playing in high school.

You see condemnation comes from the enemy. It is the voice of shame urging us to believe that our heavenly Father is shaking His head at us in disappointment and disgust, His arms crossed and His heart closed. If you notice that I said enemy and not people (Ephesians 6:12). Choose how you receive the words of people or you start to believe they are against you and they are your enemy, when they are really trying to help you and love you. Condemnation is often a result of my refusal to own up to my faults and refuse to change to His reflection. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit. It is the voice of grace beckoning us to run to Jesus, repent, receive mercy, and run the race before us in His transforming power and grace. Do you believe your leaders pray for you and hear God? Often times they are telling you something that the Holy Spirit has already been dealing with you.

Read the full story. Look at your ‘why on how you respond to correction. The end result should not be isolation and shutting people out because you believe they are condemning you. Remember you do not fight against flesh and blood. We are called to a body and if there is someone rubbing the ruff edges off of you, thank Jesus that they are. You are growing. Allow the Holy Spirit to do the work in and through you. Come out of shame and into His marvelous light. Own up to your faults and grow. I am not where I want to me, but I am not where I use to be.

Peace, Love and Jesus

Philippians 4:6-8 (AMP) Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

I love this block of passages. When I read 1 Corinthians 13, I also read this. When I read about putting on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6, I also read this. When I read about the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5, I also read this. I believe our peace is directly connected to our love walk. How can we love if we are anxious? How can we love if we are constantly in worry? How can we love if there is a storm always going on inside of us? How can I love if I am in fear?

1 John 4:18 (AMP) There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].

I am one of those that can take a future conversation and run with it. What if they say this to me? I am going to respond this way. What if they tell someone this? How am I ever going to win them over to my side? Then you go the whole day and nothing is said to anyone. I will just avoid that person entirely because of the future scenarios that I had in my head. Way to show love, Amanda!

I did not choose to think on whatever is right and confirmed in His Word. Anxiety, fear, dread and anything other than peace was about me about that person. We can get that way about situations too. How about when the car starts making funny noises? How about when the line is long at Starbucks? How about when you go look for that protein bar that you had been saving for before church snack? The last one was definitely me.

Peace is also a weapon…so is truth. So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth…having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation (experts from Ephesians 6:14 and 15). How can I fight the enemy that likes to attack my mind without putting these on each day. I have to actively choose truth. I have to actively choose peace. Therefore, I have to actively choose love. The only one who was all love was Jesus, and I think He had to choose it too. I cannot “just love everybody” and gossip. I cannot “just love everybody” and avoid people. I cannot “just love everybody” and talk negatively about everything going on in my life.

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart] (Philippians 4:8).

I want my heart to be aligned with Him, so my thought life does too. Peace, Love and Jesus…make it a what you are known for.

Happy Independence Day!

John 8:36 (AMP) So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Acts 13:38-39 (AMP) So let it be clearly known by you, brothers, that through Him forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you; and through Him everyone who believes [who acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior and follows Him] is justified and declared free of guilt from all things, from which you could not be justified and freed of guilt through the Law of Moses.

The United States of America is two hundred and forty six years old today. I do not know about where you are (for those that life here in the states), but celebrations have been going on all weekend. Our city held their fireworks show and Freedom Celebration on Saturday (two days ago). Our neighbors were shooting off fireworks all night last night. Tonight the city next to us has their fireworks and festivities. We have not made plans to attend a single one. We would have done it when the kids were smaller. We would go now if it interested them.

What does it mean to be unquestionably free? My definition of freedom is probably different from yours. My definition is tied to my peace. My peace of mind. Torment is not freedom. Worry is not freedom. Anxiety is not freedom. To me, that puts me back in bondage. When I get that way I have to dig deep and ask myself, what has put me back in bondage.

John 14:27 (AMP) Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

There are moments that I allow my peace to be taken. I allow myself to worry about certain things and thought of certain people. I allow myself to get upset when I allow another person’s torment to affect me (this usually shows up in annoyance). I am not as nice as I would like to be sometimes. I have allowed that freedom of peace to be taken. Here is the great thing about Jesus. He already paid the price for me to take it back. I do not need to beat myself up about what happened for me to lose it. I do not need to feel guilty or shameful. I (with the help of the Holy Spirit) put my thoughts back in line and focus on what is important to bring me back in line with peace.

Romans 14:17 (AMP) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking [what one likes], but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Take back your dependence on all the wrong things. Put your focus back on Jesus. He is the one who gives us the real freedom. Peace is part of that freedom package. No matter what the legislature is saying and doing. No matter what your family may be saying and doing. No matter what the news outlets (some depend on social media) are saying and doing. What did Jesus do? He came so that we could establish His Kingdom here on earth. With what? With righteousness (not by dead works), with peace and with joy.

Galatians 5:13 (AMP) For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.

When I can seek the best for others, I know that love has brought me to the place of perfect peace.

Happy Independence Day!

Do not let the roar of the lion drown out your voice

Amos 3:17-18 (AMP) Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret plan [of the judgment to come] to His servants the prophets. The lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken [to the prophets]! Who can but prophesy?

Did you know that when you speak you are prophesying? There is a difference in the five fold ministry of a prophet and a born again believer being a prophetic. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” If my words have power, then that would mean that they are prophetic. My favorite words to speak are those found in His Word.

I love the words in Ezekiel 37 when God tells him to prophesy to the dry bones. He did not just say “get up, dry bones.” He said, “dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.”

The question regarding whether we really heard God can be like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). Although a lion roars, a true servant of God listens to the voice of God above the roar of the lion (John 10:27). If it lines up with His Word, do it, and in boldness, say it. It might look foolish to others (believe me, I battle this too). Often I will argue with God before delivering a hard word. I do not take it lightly. As a teacher of the Word, I know I will be held accountable far greater than those who are not (James 3:1). The call to follow God in obedience should be louder than the roar of defeat.

He speaks through us to others, encouraging them and affirming them, and upon occasion, giving a word of correction for them (this is the part I wrestle with). I have learned to dust off my feet after I have been obedient (Matthew 10:14). My heart is to see people grow and to be blessed. It is not my job to make sure they receive it. My job is to deliver it. May I add a little thought provoking question? If you sit through services and listen to your pastor and it does not prick you to take an evaluation of yourself, has your heart become hard? Being sweet has nothing to do with the status of your heart. Love will propel you to seek the best for others, unselfishly.

Here are some questions I ask myself. Does it line up with His Word? That is not the same as it making you feel good or stroking your spiritual ego. Does it line up with His character and nature? Not how I want Him to be. Sometimes we want God to conform to our image of Him. Finally, will it bring freedom (even if it is correction)? We are called ministers of reconciliation. If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions. Then be obedient. Do not let Sanballat’s (Nehemiah 4:1) in your life deter you from what God told you to do. Be bold and courageous. Here the voice of the Lord and go!