Christian Living

The Purging in the Waiting

Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him (ESV). 

Purge: rid (someone) of an unwanted feeling, memory, or condition, typically giving a sense of cathartic release.

I saw this verse recently posted on Facebook: Psalm 105:19 until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him (ESV). I sent it to someone who responded by saying “purged”. Release. Cleansed. The waiting tests us. Tries us. Breaks us. Cleanses us. It is uncomfortable, painful at times, and frustrating. Waiting can be like nails on a chalkboard. You just want it to end. Now. But, waiting can also strengthen and renew. Yes, it really can. There’s waiting for the sake of waiting. Then waiting for the sake of necessity. There’s yet another type of waiting. Waiting on the Lord.

I hate waiting. There, I said it. My flesh can’t stand it. Patience is a fruit of the Ruach (Spirit) I’m lacking. Letting it do it’s full work in us makes us perfect and complete, lacking nothing (see James 1:4). Patience definitely hasn’t done its full work. I’m still being refined. Purged. I’ve often wondered why God does this. Why does He make us wait so long sometimes? Why did He tell David, Joseph, or Abraham something they’d have to wait a long time on to see its fulfillment? It is not because God is mean. On the contrary, it is because He is loving and merciful. He wants to give us hope, direction, and comfort. God desires to give us insight so we’re not stuck in the dark, clueless.

When the Creator decides to tell you a promise about something, He is giving you a virtual little cheat sheet. The test will come. There will be questions and situations to process and properly answer. But you know you’ll pass it and what happens when you do. The time in between the word and its fulfillment is the purging. And it’s beautiful.

Just very recently I’ve switched perspectives and seen my struggles as an opportunity to draw very close to God. Be aware of His presence as much as the air I breathe. The sunlight streaming in from the window. The stars twinkling in the night sky. The smile on my children’s faces. Our Maker is seen in all of it. Even in my prayer times crying on the floor He is there. I’m more conscious of my need for Him and feel His heartbeat with greater intensity. The most painful yet beautiful experiences I’ve had were when I was pouring my tears out before God. Somehow although He feels distant He also feels especially close. And He is.

Today, I want to challenge you to let God purge you. Refine you. Work patience in you as you wait. The waiting is for a good purpose. I’m learning that life flies by so fast. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey, not just look for the destination. It will come soon enough.

Psalm 27:14 ESV Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Psalm 33:20-22 ESV Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Lamentations 3:25 ESV The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

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You Shall Live

Ezekiel 37:5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall Live (ESV). 

My spirit is stirred. God showed me a picture a few weeks ago and told me a shifting was coming. For some, wonderful doors just opened. For others, like my family, it has been labor pains. The heat intensified. There’s obviously escalated warfare going on right now. The physical realm is often a reflection of the spiritual realm. In the past week I’ve received several messages about really tough situations happening for some. Not to mention several difficult things concerning my family. We’ve been hit. And hit. And hit. I spent part of my last prayer time laying on the floor, reading scripture and weeping.  Have you ever been in those seasons where you feel so low someone could peel you off of the ground? As if you’re one with the pavement, being stepped on over and over. In the midst of praying I heard these words: the dry bones will live.

Are you feeling like you’re in a barren land; a dry lifeless desert? Does God’s presence seem so far away? I understand. I just heard these lyrics: you may have forgotten but He has not. Sometimes we forget who Elohim is. Creator. Almighty God. The One who made us, saved us, gave us talents and giftings for His wonderful eternal purpose. He doesn’t forget. Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me (ESV). God will never leave us or forsake us (see Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5). God demands all of the glory. And He will bring your dream to the point of death before resurrection. So when it lives it is clear who gives it life and who deserves the honor.

Today, I want to speak to those who are holding on by a thread. Or maybe you’ve given up. The dream in your heart seems dead. Impossible. It seems your life is over You feel defeated. Beaten down. Perhaps as I’ve described myself feeling, as if you’re one with the pavement getting stepped on. Just remember, God is still God. Don’t panic or roll over in defeat. It’s not over until He says it is. Stand on His promises. This is a test.

It. Shall. Live.

Ezekiel 37:1-6 ESV The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.

And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God , you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord . Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.

And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

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Render to Caesar (or Trump)

​1 Peter 2:17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor (ESV).

Opening up the political can of worms is something I’d rather not do. I like politics, but recognize it’s such a divisive, polarizing topic. Few subjects cause offense faster than politics. I understand it. But there’s a place for it. I do lean conservative but actually am fairly independent. I wish we had a good third party that could actually win but we don’t. Some speculate whether presidents are truly elected or selected. Voter fraud is an issue. How candidates are chosen and vetted is dubious. It’s all a bit shady. Different wings, same bird in essence. However, there’s something to be considered that many do not. God uses (and used) good and wicked leaders to accomplish His purposes. Pharaoh, in the case of Joseph to save his people. Another Pharoah in Egypt for the purpose of showing YHVH in strength and glory. Herod to teach a powerful lesson (God alone gets the glory). And yes, Donald Trump.

Yeshua (Jesus) actually addressed the issue of politics and government. Matthew 22:21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (ESV). Simply put, we are to honor our leaders. I’m shocked at how many professing believers are openly critical and almost rebellious of government leaders. I didn’t vote last time as I was newly post partum. I could have but chose not to. I admit I wasn’t a fan of the choices. However, it’s sad to me how believers tend to sit at a distance criticizing without actually doing something.

Are you upset about abortions? Marriage and transgender issues? Religious freedom? Taxes? Health care? Affordable housing? Let me ask you this. When was the last time you prayed about it? Have you ever signed a petition or communicated with your local representative or senator? I grow tired of seeing posts slamming our president and its administration without constructive purpose. This is an amazing quote by Thomas Jefferson: the government you elect is the government you deserve. The Church’s inaction and lack of effective communication (and lack of holiness bluntly) is why we see the current policies in place.

Today, I want to challenge you to pray for your leaders. Many believers are rebuking principalities when they really have no spiritual authority to do so. The demonic forces in place are there because leaders invited them in. Pray for the hearts of the leaders of this country. Pray for your pastor or rabbi. Pray for your boss. Pray for your husband and your parents. We all have someone in leadership above us to pray for. Complaining will do no good. God has them where they are for a reason. Yes, sometimes like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego we must honor YHVH and disobey leadership. But this is in cases of outright sin. Even then, it can be done so respectfully.

Honor God by honoring your leaders. Even the “bad” ones. Pray for them and let the Ruach (Spirit) deal with them. Just because a leader is famous and talked about often doesn’t mean badmouthing isn’t lashon hara (evil speech). It still is. Render to Trump what is his. Leave the rest to God.

Ecclesiastes 8:2 ESV I say: Keep the king’s command, because of God’s oath to him.

Job 12:23 ESV He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away.

Isaiah 9:6 ESV For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Romans 13:1-2 ESV Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

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Defeated Conquerors

Romans 8:37 ​No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (ESV).

I saw a scenario or vision in my mind this morning. A woman was literally running from something in fear. Periodically she’d look back to see if she was safe. A seemingly scary looking monster was lurking at a distance behind her. She would occasionally stop to rest while looking around to see if the monster was nearby. Every move this woman made involved keeping one eye out for danger. Or perceived danger. This seemed to continue for a long time, as if the running was a lifestyle not one event. Finally she turns around to see the monster right in front of her. All of a sudden this lady realizes it isn’t a threat after all. She exclaims, “I don’t have to be afraid of you!” The scary creature turns to dust and immediately blows away with the wind. All this stress, this fear, this hiding was unnecessary. The monster was not the threat it appeared to be.

I’ve been thinking about this vision I received this morning. God loves us too much to let us stay in the bondage of fear. Constantly running and hiding in torment is no way to live, and not the way we as believers should. Yet many do. Something from the past, or some things from the past, keep them nursing their wounds and feeding their fears. Many are what I call defeated conquerors. Oxymoron. Especially for believers in Yeshua (Jesus).

We are more than conquerors. We serve the God who is greater, stronger, and wiser. He has overcome the world (see John 16:33). We can do all things through Christ (Mashiach, Messiah) who strengthens us (see Philippians 4:13). And yet, most (myself included) don’t really live in that knowledge. We may have a few verses memorized, but we don’t know how to truly apply it to our lives. So, we run. We look over our shoulders. We look for the devil behind every bush and under every rock. And he is a defeated foe.

Today, I want to encourage those who are struggling with fear. Perhaps bitterness, anger, and trauma. There may be deep pain. This causes you to run away from things or people that are difficult to face. You avoid. You never quite move forward. There’s unfinished business behind you. Some of you need to face something from your past that you really don’t want to. But you need to. God asks you to. There’s a blessing in it. Not only will you grow, you’ll also give the Ruach (Spirit) an opportunity to work in your heart and theirs. This just may be the key to unlocking some doors that have remained shut.

Remember, John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (ESV). If you are a believer and Yeshua (Jesus) is Lord over your life then you are free. The enemy is defeated. Sometimes God desires us to go back and face something. Stop running in fear. Your blessing, and peace, awaits.

Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Luke 10:19 ESV Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.

2 Timothy 1:7 ESV for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

1 John 4:4 ESV Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

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Wages

​ James 1:15  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (ESV).

Many months ago now I saw a video on Facebook that was very memorable. In fact, it was slightly shocking. I think the director was going for the “shock value” approach to convey the message. At the beginning of the video was a small group of young people, looking to be late teens in age at a beach. They were laughing, partying, and flirting with sexual sin. This group appeared at first to be having the time of their lives. Then, a sign was visible. It said: Danger.

No one else was around. They must have heeded the warning. These folks however, were enjoying this seemingly amazing space all to themselves. All of a sudden something happened. One woman stepped on a landmine and was blown up. Blood everywhere. As others began panicking and screaming they were blown up too. Ones that didn’t die were terribly injured. The video ends by saying something to the effect that the danger sign was there for a reason. These young people reaped consequences for their disobedience. God, too, gives us instructions in the Bible. Failure to follow them is sin. Sin leads to death (see Romans 6:23).

Let me be clear. You can never be good enough to earn eternal life. Yeshua (Jesus) paid the penalty for our sins. However, faith without works is dead (see James 2:17). Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it (ESV)? We are not obedient to get saved. We are obedient because we are saved. If there’s no good fruit in someone’s life, there’s a problem with the root. I’d question if they actually are a believer and Yeshua has lordship in their life. A true believer may have bad moments, but they will have good spiritual fruit (see Galatians 5:22-23) and emulate Him.

Today, I want to speak to two groups of people. Those that do not know Yeshua (Jesus) and those that do (if it’s possible to know Him and deliberately sin) but are not living as they should.

Perhaps compromise has creeped in your life. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (ESV). Now is the time to repent. Sin leads to death. Usually not immediately. That’s the trap. It is pleasurable for a little while. If the wages of sin were immediately paid, people wouldn’t do it. But, like a sin baby concept, when first pregnant the baby isn’t noticeable. Eventually the baby can no longer be hidden and it must be delivered. We each get a set amount of time to live this life. Then it’s facing God. Time is precious. We should never assume how much we have left. Only God knows.

Repent. Turn away from sin towards God. Being a believer or “Christian” isn’t about praying a prayer, attending church, or memorizing a few key Bible verses. It’s making Yeshua (Jesus) Lord over your life. He is King. You live emulating Him as He went about the Father’s business on earth. Follow His commandments. They are your guardrail. Life won’t necessarily be easy. In fact, easy was never promised. But, you’ll have peace and the assurance of eternal life. You will avoid the landmines of the enemy.

There’s nothing better than knowing where you’re headed. No more wandering. You are no longer lost. You are found.

Romans 5:6-11 ESV For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Philippians 3:14 ESV I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 9:27 ESV And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.

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Social Graces

​Proverbs 18:13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame (ESV).

Social graces: Social graces are skills used to interact politely in social situations. 

I’m going to admit something here. I have a bad habit of interrupting others. For some reason I tend to finish people’s sentences for them. Yes, I know, it’s rude. My assumptions on what was about to be said is sometimes very wrong. I wish I knew where this habit started. I suspect it’s something residual from my upbringing.

My mother was not a very chatty person. However, she would complain a lot about me and to me. She liked to whine about things. I grew up feeling like I never really had a voice and was not validated. Sometimes she tried, but mostly not. My mom was hurting and angry at the world. She carried grudges and many chips on her shoulders. She had quite an attitude, or as some call it, a tude. So, I think I developed a mindset and habit of making sure I’m heard. The trouble is, not everyone wants to listen. Not everyone has to. It’s pride to assume that. But, it’s OK to want to be heard and validated in general. Balance is key.

I read recently the number one reason conflicts stay unresolved is due to feelings of invalidation. When someone doesn’t feel they matter and have a voice, it hurts. And they will be less willing to hear what you have to say. Sometimes simply saying, “I’m sorry” or “help me understand” can do a world of good. It speaks to the other person that they are important. It’s biblical. Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (ESV).

Today I want to challenge you, and myself, to be a good listener. Validate others. Treat people like they matter. I’m an ENFP on the MBTI categorization. My personality is fairly good at empathy and considering the other person’s perspective. However, the weakness (and I’ve done this) is I can also be very critical of those who do not live life and process as I do. Without meaning to, I can get a bit prideful. Especially when it comes to communication in relationships. God has been dealing with me about this. I need to listen more, say less, and respect differences in others.

Have social graces. They are seriously lacking in today’s culture. Love others. Part of that involves being a good listener. Don’t interrupt. Don’t listen to respond. Seek to understand. A truly wise, humble person realizes how much they have to learn. They see the giftings and strengths in others. And, they nurture it too.

Treat others with respect. Realize their time is valuable, their feelings are important to them, and they have something to give. In return others will want to hear what you have to say.

Proverbs 10:19 ESV When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Matthew 7:12 ESV So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Romans 12:16 ESV Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

James 1:19 ESV Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

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Compassion Heals

​Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (ESV). 

I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when I saw an article that caught my attention. It was titled 15 Habits of People With Concealed Depression. Having battled with depression and post partum depression before, I related. But there’s something in particular that caught my attention and deeply grieved me. The word “concealed”. Many hide their pain. I’ve found believers especially do. 

There’s a woman I have been friends with for over two years now. We pray together regularly. I do my best to be a support. My life doesn’t allow me much time to connect with others. She’s a very outgoing bubbly person. I noticed a while ago she wasn’t reaching out as much. Various reasons were given. To most she seemed OK, but knowing her fairly well, I could sense something was wrong. I finally just bluntly asked if she was all right. I got a voicemail full of pain and tears. She had been in a deep depression and had even felt she’d be better off dead. Her children are why she doesn’t entertain that thought more or act on it. 

My friend is a very solid believer. The shame and rejection she’d faced from other so called believers in the face of her depression kept her withdrawn. My heart nearly broke. This is the state of the Body (church, believers) as a whole. Many are desperately hurting. They do not feel safe (sometimes rightfully so) to seek support. In her case, she’s disabled. Her physical pain becomes unbearable at times. Pain is isolating. Most won’t take a few minutes to reach out. I’m not trying to elevate myself or seem condemning, but that is just terrible to me. We make time for trivial things yet overlook a hurting person. God forbid. Lord have mercy.

I get quite a few messages from people in response to my posts on Facebook and my blogs. I believe it’s because they sense the Ruach (Spirit) and how He uses me and sadly, because many have nowhere or no one to turn to. Churches are often places that cause more injury. People who are depressed or who struggle in some way get coldly judged (not righteously so as in John 7:24), avoided, or told they need more faith. Some are even rebuked, putting them in even greater pain. Yes, depression does involve doing your part to heal. But sometimes saying “shape up” or “just smile and let it go” is nowhere near enough. 

Today, I want to leave you with two points and a challenge. First, know that God is love and we love Him because He first loved us (see 1 John 4:19). Second, in response to receiving His love we must love one another as this sums up the law. Galatians 5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (ESV). This means we take the time to care about others in actions. Help someone in need. Offer a kind word. Be the hands and feet of Yeshua (Jesus).

I am transparent because I hid my pain for many years. I know firsthand what it’s like to be shunned or misunderstood. I want others to know they are not alone. If I can help someone know God’s love and show it to someone else, that is the greatest gift and joy I can receive. It makes all the praying, writing and pouring out I do worth it. For the whole point of living is to emulate and honor Him. 

Prayer: Father, lead me to someone today that needs You and help me to love them. May my thoughts, words, and actions glorify You. Thank you for the blessings You’ve given me. 

Psalm 61:1-3 ESV Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

John 13:35 ESV By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Romans 12:10 ESV Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

1 John 4:11 ESV Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

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If God Said It’s Not Over

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (ESV).

I was listening to a song called “Over” by Kirk Franklin. I had been feeling down and a bit frustrated. My human eyes want to see what my spiritual eyes do. This faith walk isn’t always easy. The following are some good lyrics from the song:
(Hello it’s not over) When the bags are packed and it’s looking like the end.
(Hello it’s not over) When you pray every time you pull up to the ATM.
(Hello it’s not over) When your enemy turns out to be your best friend. 
(Hello it’s not over) Give thanks cause after each storm new life begins. 

As I was listening to this song and I heard the phrase “If God said it’s not over” something resounded in my spirit. Too often we quit the race, and don’t run with endurance as in Hebrews 12:1. Something discouraging, or perhaps several somethings, happen. Life seems hopeless. The race is lonely, tiring, painful, and riddled with difficulty. Some stretches are smooth and bright and others are dark, rocky, and winding. You may be wading through water or enduring storms. Maybe some are running past you not even giving you a glance or casually saying, “Pick up the pace” without understanding where you’re at. I know how that feels. And there’s no comfortable answer. The solution is to decide to run with endurance. In other words, you choose to be in it till the end. The long haul. You just won’t quit. 

Today, I want to speak to those who feel it’s over for them. If you’re breathing then it isn’t over yet. Life wasn’t promised it would be easy. It’s also about choices. Sometimes success comes from just not giving up. Trying over and over. Getting back up. Then getting back up again. And again. It is recorded it took Thomas Edison over 1,000 attempts (though he was quoted to have joked it was 10,000) to successfully create a functioning light bulb. In fact, he was fired from his first two jobs. He didn’t give up. That’s the difference between those who finish well and those who don’t: not giving up. 

Make a decision to finish the race. And finish well. No matter what you’re going through in your life right now, God is able. Your finances. Your health. Your marriage. That backslidden family member. The friend who betrayed you. Whatever it is, God is bigger. Keep running with endurance one step at a time. You’ll get there. He will provide and make a way. It’s not over. 

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 ESV Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Hebrews 12:3-7 ESV Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 

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Grudge Exchange

Leviticus 19:17-18 You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord (ESV).

Grudge: a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.

Just the other day I saw something posted on social media and I mentioned it to a friend. I didn’t say anything negative or bad, but she reacted as if I had a grudge. Apparently I was a bit edgy in how something was said. Initially I denied it. No, no grudges in my heart. For the most part it’s true. But the most part isn’t all. I realized that there was still something there that shouldn’t be. I was holding a bit of a grievance about something. And it’s sin. 

How often have we said we forgive someone or had forgiven them long ago and yet there’s still a grudge? Too many times. I’ve heard people tell me how they forgave someone only to bring up the awful things they did and how it hurt minutes later. They say they forgive. They may have sincerely spoken in faith and intent to let it go. But that didn’t happen. The awful thing that took place is still engrained in their minds. The replay is still going on. We as human beings don’t have a “sea of forgetfulness”so to speak like God (see Micah 7:19). We remember. Forgive and forget is a nice phrase, but not totally realistic when serious pain or offense occurs. Replace the grudge with love.

Today, I want to encourage you to have a “grudge exchange” if you’re struggling with bitterness towards someone. Replace the grudge with a decision to love them. Pray for them. Bless them. Do good to them and speak well of them (without being dishonest or misleading). Forgetting 100% may not be possible, but choosing to exchange the grudge for love is. Acknowledge the hurt, then choose love instead of bitterness or vengeance. 

Prayer I’ve prayed: Father, I praise Your name. I repent of my bitterness towards (name) and I ask You to give me a heart of love and mercy towards them. I release their debt to me when they did/said (offense). Bless them Abba (pray Numbers 6:24-26). 

Don’t hold onto a grudge. Do the grudge exchange for His love instead. Feelings will follow in time. But you have to take the first step. 

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 ESV If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

1 Peter 4:8 ESV Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 John 2:9-10 ESV Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.

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Father Filtered

​Hebrews 4:15-16 KJV For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

I have at this point on my spiritual journey listened to hundreds at minimum preaching/teaching messages. Between teen church groups, the revival meetings I’ve attended throughout the years, Bible college, tapes, CDs, TV and just all the churches I’ve been to there’s been many sermons that have hit my ears. I’ve been saved 20+ years now, and one particular message sticks out to me above the rest.

When I was in Bible college, I had a friend named Ben. He would sometimes clean our dorm building floors as he worked for the school for extra money. He had a southern accent (this is MN), and a relationship with God that really stuck out. He was, still is, an example of how God often calls those from painful pasts for greatness. One day I was talking to him about something that bothered me, and we got to talking about our pasts and upbringing. A few days later he handed me a teaching tape with a message and a title I will never forget: Everything is Father Filtered. He said to me, “When you ‘get’ this, it will change everything.” The title is pretty self explanatory; God’s sovereignty.

In recent years my husband and I have been through a lot. Not to mention those I know who are really going through tough things. I could copy/paste messages that would just put many teary eyed and grieved. Deaths, sickness (very painful, debilitating, can’t get out of bed, work, feed, or take care of themselves) sickness. People losing their spouses, losing their jobs, losing their homes, cars, ministry positions etc etc. Those needing food, clothes, and money for utilities. Addictions, abuse, maltreatment-you name it. After a while, it can get you down. There’s so much darkness in this world. In the midst of it all, I am recalling the title of that message from 15 years ago: Everything is Father Filtered.

The book of Job has been on my heart the past few days, along with Jeremiah. I’ve been wrestling with the concept of God’s goodness, His love, faithfulness and sovereignty and human suffering especially among believers. Many have asked why God allows suffering. Perhaps that is the wrong question. We live in a fallen world. I wonder if instead we should be asking, “For what purpose does God allow suffering?”

When you’re hurting, the last thing you feel like doing is looking for the purpose to your pain. You just want it to end. God’s sovereignty is something no human can fully grasp. He is outside of time, always existed, and is all powerful and all knowing. And yet, bad things still happen.

Today, I want to encourage you to relook at the book of Job, and Jeremiah, Joseph and others who went through difficult times. Look at Messiah. I think for the suffering of believers, there’s verses in Hebrews 11 that sums it up well. This is, after all, a faith walk. We are walking towards our eternity. May we never forget that.

Prayer: Father, help me to walk by faith, and trust Your sovereignty, Your plan, and Your eternal perspective. Forgive me for my unbelief. I choose today to trust You, knowing You are good, work all things together for my good, and that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.

2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Hebrews 11:35-40 KJV Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.