Freedom

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV

Photo by Alex North.  You can find more of his beautiful work here.

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Cymbals and Gongs

“And now I will show you the most excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Most people, or Christians at the very least, have heard the definition of love given in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – “Love is patient, love is kind…” I even wrote a post on it a while back.  Very recently I have learned the value of always including verses 1-3.  So often we forget that God is Love. (see 1 John 4:8)  And so to be without love is to be without God.  If He is love and one does not love how then can one claim to have God?

And He doesn’t just love the “perfect” ones – He loves everyone… yes, even the lost, broken, wrong, mean… you name it, He loves all!  We are all made in His image, therefore love is part of the identity God put in each and every one.

Just because God “gives you a heart” for a specific group of people does not mean you are not to love everyone else just as much.  It means He has tailored you to that specific ministry to further His Kingdom… His Universal Kingdom of Love.

Love – God’s love – is our filter, our standard, our commandment from God Himself. “This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17)

If you are in a position of authority – and lets face it, unless you are a young child you are in some position of authority in your life – that authority was given by God.  If it is given by God, Who is Love, who also commands love to Him and everyone… then love.  Authority enacted without love is Godless.  Love-less = God-less

We all have moments that love is not in the forefront.  We all have tipping points but God expects us to stop and seek Him, ask Him to fill in where we lack.  His power is made perfect in our weakness. (see 2 Corinthians 12:9)

However, when we choose not to stop and seek Him to help us love, even when we do not want to, we reject His very Person.

One can be completely in the wrong yet still love.  One cannot be without love and be completely right.  Stop and Listen – Selah – Pause and think about that… often.

Resounding gongs and clanging cymbals are deterrents/repellants – like a security system alarm.  The noise cancels out everything around it.

No matter who you are, think you are or have been told you are by followers, this message is profound and necessary.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

If He is Love, we are to love Him, love love and all He loves.

Abba,

My fervent and humble request is that I and everyone who reads this is given full revelation of God, His Love and how we are to love like Him.  I thank you and praise you for your love, mercy and grace.  Not one of us deserves it, yet you pour out on us fresh each day.  You amaze me each day.  I lift Your Name on High!

Amen, amen and amen.

 

Photo by Alex North.  See more of his amazing work Here.

Crying Out

Being a Christ Follower is not always pretty or easy.  When we find ourselves in an ugly place we are supposed to cry out to Him; to fall on our faces humbly before Him and pour out our pain, hurts, anger, frustration; giving it FULLY to Him.  Then step back, look up and praise Him as if it is already handled.  Even when we do not see it, He is doing it.  Many things we seek He has already done.  He is just waiting for us to stop trying to do it ourselves and get out of His way!

When Jesus rose from the grave the work was complete, the victory won.  That completed work and victory is ours the moment we accept Jesus as Savior.  That is grace!  Undeserved favor from God to those who have not and cannot earn it.  The grace message is not about following God being perfect and easy, it is about God’s glory being made known in our mess.  Grace is not an excuse to sin, it is a reason to rejoice and humble ourselves before our Great God, because His power is made perfect in our weakness.

When we walk in grace we are fully relying on God, not our own works.  Do this and watch in awe as God shows you who is really in control of your circumstances and heart!

So get down on the floor, keep some tissues close by and pour all of the ugly out to your loving Daddy and ask Him to take your mess off of your hands.  Then get up and sing Him a song of praise and thanks!  He will water the seeds you planted in prayer and praise with your tears and grow them with His Light!  Then you will have a beautiful garden to admire in awe and wonder instead of a pile of fertilizer to wallow in!

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”

Psalms 40:1-3 NIV

Abba,  

Please turn your ear to each of your children as we cry out to you.  Mend and heal, teach and discipline, embrace and love, reveal and guide as each is needed.  I pray that you bring each life into alignment with Your will and plan.  Thank you for your grace, mercy and love.  I praise you and lift your name on high!  Through the precious, holy, perfect name of Jesus Christ our King,

Amen, Amen and Amen!

 

Photo by Alex North.  See more of his amazing work Here.

Amplified Love

I understand most people are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 regarding love.  However, I have discovered something powerful recently.  By reading the Amplified Bible version of verses 4-8 out loud and slowly, something happens… it becomes much more personal.  By personal I mean, I don’t sit there, as I am reading, and think “So and So” needs this part or “that guy” sure needs to hear this one.  As I am reading it out loud and really thinking about the words I am reading I start to see how I need it, how I don’t have love all wrapped up in a bow like I thought.  So today, I am keeping it simple.  Below is the passage from the Amplified Bible.  Read it slowly and out loud.  I pray that in doing this, reading Gods Word out loud, you will be blessed and given revelation!

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a [AMP]

“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.  Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].”

I pray that this passage has blessed you today and will continue to bless you for many to come.  Be blessed and joyful always, for the Lord, your God, loves you and His love and mercy and faithfulness endure forever!

Jamie

Photo by Alex North.  See more of his amazing work Here.

Flowers from God

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house;

you give them drink from your river of delights” 

Psalm 36:7-8

It could be a thought you know isn’t yours because your thoughts are focused on the problem, a verse you needed and somehow forgot, even though you read it a dozen times, an unexpected yet sorely needed hug or smile …. These gifts of love are like when a child picks that one tiny, perfect flower that you didn’t even notice was right next to you. They hand it to you with such pure joy and love, so simple yet so powerful.

God does that for us when we need it most. He loves us so much we cannot fully comprehend it. Jesus said we should come to Him like children. (Luke 18:16-17) If we are made in His image and we are told to be like children, then, to me, that is Him giving us yet another image of Him. That tells me He loves us (and we are to love) with the pure, sweet, forgiving and joyful love that we see in that child’s eyes when they excitedly hand us that flower. I pray each and every one of us truly and fully gets that revelation of love. Because God Is Love! With the revelation of His love we have revelation into the person of God.  Oh, the freedom that is released in fully knowing Gods love! Such beauty and joy can only come from One that loves us beyond our limited understanding. Oh, how He loves us!

God is the Creator of all things, the King of Kings, the Alpha and the Omega – yet He still takes the time to pick us spiritual “flowers” and hand them to us with a loving smile and warm embrace.  Such a sweet reminder that He truly knows all of our thoughts, needs, worries, hurts, and desires.

When I was weary and felt like I was running in place, he picked this “flower” for me and placed it in my heart.  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  (Galatians 6:9)  Right when I was trying to figure out what I needed to give up to try to create some balance, He stopped me with His love and compassion. He reminded me that I did not need to stop doing anything, I just needed to rely on Him instead of myself to persevere.

What “flower” has God handed you?  Do you stop to realize that is what He is doing?  So often in our busyness we miss these sweet gifts. When you feel like your are at your bottom, stop and look around, God may just be waiting for you to stop and look at Him so he can hand you a beautiful little flower.

Thank you, Abba, for your perfect and pure love.  Thank you for flowers, in the physical and the spiritual. Thank you for the big and little reminders you give us each day, that above everything, You are Love and that you love us more than our words can describe.  Father, please pour out revelation of your love to each person who reads these words and let that love pour from them to every person around them.  I love you, praise you and lift Your Name on high!  Amen, Amen, and Amen!

We Are Free Indeed – Part 1

‘To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “we are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone.  How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”’   John 8:31-36 NIV

Sometimes, I feel that freedom is an ideal that as a culture we have turned into a cliché.  We talk about freedom in relation to our country and government so often that I think we have lost what the true meaning is.

As Christians, freedom has little to do with our government.  We know, or should know, that God is above all kingdoms and nations.  Despite how it looks to us from our perspective on the world, God is in control.  So I am not going to talk about freedom from a political standpoint.  Our freedom is much bigger than that.  This freedom, given to us by the King of Kings Himself, is eternal.  It is freedom from true slavery.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23 NIV

Not many of us today can truly relate to slavery.  Or can we?  Jesus tells us here that in our natural state we are slaves to sin.  “Everyone who sins” is everyone.  Through the Fall of Adam, we are all sinners to our very core.  It is not something that we chose, it is our very nature.  When I first learned this, it shed a huge light on sin and the fact that no matter how hard I tried, I kept going back to it.  I kept hanging on to those things in my life that I knew were wrong.  Even after I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I struggled with this because I did not understand it.  If you have not come to an understanding of this or disagree with me here, I recommend you read Romans 6.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, personally set us free from slavery.  Pause and think about that.

“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14 NIV

No matter what our situation in life, we can have full confidence that we are free!  Just knowing that we are not slaves anymore gives us the strength to look in the face of the sin that tempts us each day and say “NO!”  “No, I am no slave to you!  You have no power in me or my life.”

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  Galatians 5:1 NIV

Is there something in your life that you feel chained or bound by?  Each time that sin, habit, or thought process rears its ugly head remember these words, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed,” Romans 8:36.  Put them on an index card and keep it with you, make them the wallpaper on your phone, tablet or pc.  Claim your freedom!  Thank God each day that He has already given you the freedom, especially when you don’t “feel” it.  Thank Him for His mercy and grace.

Father, I thank you for your grace and mercy.  We do not deserve any of it, yet you pour out fresh mercies on us each day.  Thank you for the freedom you have given us through Jesus Christ.  I pray for blessings, mercy and your understanding to pour out on each person whose eyes this reaches.  Open hearts and eyes to see Your love and compassion everywhere around us.  Your kingdom come, Father, Your will be done, for the power and glory are yours forever and ever, Amen.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; and great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

Potsherds Among the Potsherds on the Ground

“But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this’?”  

Romans 9:20 NIV 

“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground.

Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’

Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?

Isaiah 45:9 NIV 

I cannot count how many times I have thought or said, “I am too broken for God to use me.”  As I kept saying and believing this, God kept nudging me.  Recently, He stopped nudging me and changed tactics.  He spiritually smacked me upside the head, so to speak.  He put in front of me many people that served Him and furthered His Kingdom while still broken, still living their mess.  And it finally hit me that he uses our brokenness, our mess, to reach others.  Now we are left with the questions of “how” and “why” God would do this.

For one, if we are aware that we are a broken mess, we are less likely to be prideful, judgmental and/or self-righteous.  And really, who of us were ever truly impacted by someone that, not only did not relate to our mess, but judged us for it?  If anything, those people pushed me further away from God.  I knew I could never live up to the standards that were being put to me as the only way to be a “good Christian.”  If lowly man thinks I am not good enough, then what in the world must the King of Kings and Creator of all things think of me?  What value could I possibly have in His eyes?  Those are just a few of the lies I believed far too long.

Secondly, our brokenness leads us to have compassion for those around us.  One of the qualities that Jesus displayed over and over was compassion.  Through the compassion we show others, we will show them the same compassion that has been shown to us by our Savior.  What better way to share the love, mercy and grace of God than with action?  Our words mean nothing if we do not back it up with action.  On the same note, our actions mean nothing if not done for the right reasons. That is a topic for a different post, though.

Lastly, it was after Jesus was broken on the cross that He did the most powerful work for all mankind.  After His torture and death, He overcame the grave! He paid the price for the sin of all mankind!  It took Him being broken first in order to complete this incredible act of mercy and grace.  If Jesus’ life and example are to be the standard we aspire to, how could we expect anything other than us serving the Kingdom of God through our brokenness?

Who am I to question Gods workmanship in me?  Who am I, as a broken piece of pottery, to question The Potter?  God created us, molded us exactly the way He wanted us to be in order to further His Kingdom.  In this we should find joy and relief!  In Philippians 1:3-6, Paul reminds us that The Potter is not finished molding us.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” NIV (emphasis added)

So, I conclude that we are not to wait until our mess is all cleaned up to answer the call God has put in each of us.  We are to step out in faith, follow His leading, knowing that He prepared us “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV

Be blessed and Joyful always!

Jamie