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Yes, and…

mayyes-and-fancyWhile my husband and I were at a financial workshop designed for couples to communicate effectively in regard to the emotional impact finances have on their marriage, we did an interesting activity involving brainstorming. We were given a scenario and told to try to solve the dilemma using the phrase “Yes, but…” After a few minutes we were instructed to use the same scenario, but use the phrase “Yes, and…” while brainstorming.

What a difference one word makes! At the completion of the exercise, we talked about how easy it was to use “Yes, but…” to get our point across, yet, didn’t help us solve the problem. Using the phrase, “Yes, and…” took a little more effort but opened our hearts and minds to greater possibilities.

Later in the evening we had opportunity to brainstorm solutions for one of our own financial goals. While doing this, my husband and I found ourselves in a quandary because we were literally saying “Yes, but…” and tension was escalating. “Yes, I hear what you’re saying but you want me to do what?” “Yes, I hear what you’re saying but that’s ridiculous!”

We weren’t getting anywhere because we weren’t hearing each other. Suddenly it hit us! We were saying the wrong things! We smiled! We laughed! We regrouped! We started saying, “Yes, and…” We had fun! We brainstormed! We came up with a plan! We’re on our way to reaching our goal!

All this got me thinking though about something bigger! It got me thinking about the power of those two little words, “Yes, and…” AND what if we used those words with Jesus! What if we read His Word and always responded with those two words?

let_not_your_heart_be_troubled_mousepad-p144284209831913735envq7_400Here’s what it might look like taking John 14 as an example: Jesus says, “Don’t let your hearts get all out of whack! Don’t be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” We say, “Yes, and how cool is it that we don’t have a trouble in the world AND how cool is it that we GET to believe.”

maxresdefaultJesus says, “Yes, and in My Father’s house are MANY mansions. I’m going there to prepare a place for you.” We say, “Yes, and when I die, I GET to live in the place You’re preparing.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and since I’m going away to get this place ready, you can believe I’m coming back to get you so where I am, you are.” We say, “Yes, and I can hardly wait to see what You’ve prepared for me.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and where I go, you know! AND, you know the way.” We say, “Yes, and we know we know the way because we know You.” (Yes, read it the way I wrote it)

imagesJesus says, “Yes, and there is more! I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We say “Yes, and knowing You the way we do, we also know our Father.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and because you believe in Me you get to come to your Father.” We say, “Yes, and now because we know our Father, can you show us our Father?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and I can do more than that! Just so you know…you’re looking at Him…because when you see Me you see your Father who is in Me and I am in Him.” We say, “YES, and…Is there more, Jesus?”

He says, “Yes, and assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father.” We say, “Yes, and how excited we are to do these greater works. Is there more?”

20120319-231032Jesus says, “Yes, and whatever you ask in My name, I will go ahead and do it just so My Father will be glorified in Me.” We say, “Yes, and from now on I’m going to ask for all the “whatever’s” in Your name. Is there still more?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and if you ask ANYTHING in My Name, I will do it.” We say, “Are You kidding me?” (haha!) No, we say, “Yes, and if I ask for anything in Your name, I know You will do it. More Lord?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and if you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” We say, “Yes, and because I love You, it is truly an honor and privilege to obey You.”

pic twoJesus says, “Yes, and there is more! I will pray that My Father will give you another Helper who will stay with you forever.” We say, “Yes, and I can’t wait to get to know this Helper intimately.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and this Helper is the Spirit of truth and you already know Him.” We say, “Yes, and we know Him because He lives in us and is with us all the time,everywhere we go.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and you can believe something else too… I would never leave you fatherless. I’m coming back.” We say, “Yes, and I can hardly wait! I’m so excited for the time You are coming to get me.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and until that time the Helper, Holy Spirit, whom Father God is sending in My name will teach you everything you need to know and He will help you remember everything I’ve said to you.” We say, “Yes, and I am teachable and want to know and remember everything! Is there still more?”

images (1)Jesus says, “Yes, and I’m leaving you something real special. My peace! It will keep your heart from being troubled and afraid.” We say, “Yes, and Your peace is so different from the fake peace the world offers us.”

Yes, and I could go on and on and on in God’s Word! I could show you lots of examples where we see people saying, “Yes, and…” People like Abraham when God said He would make his descendants like sand on the seashore. People like Rebekah who went with Abraham’s servant when he met her at the well and said he would like to take her back to be Isaac’s wife. People like Mary, Joseph, Paul, and let’s not forget Jesus, who always responded to His Father with “Yes, and…”

There are lots of “Yes, but…” responses too. BUT, those don’t turn out so well just as our “Yes, but’s” don’t turn out so well today! It’s a choice! As for me, I’m going to make sure my vocabulary includes the phrase, “Yes, and…” instead of “Yes, but…” and I’m going to have some fun with the Lord today and everyday! How about you? My suggestion is you give it a try! What do you have to lose except some “but’s”!

 

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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Peace, Uncategorized

 

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Perception is Reality! (Not So Fast)

WARNING! Much of this blog will sound like a riddle so take your time reading it so you can solve the riddle!

Albert Einstein “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

Douglas Adams “Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.”

Anais Nin “We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.”

Stephen R. Covey “To change ourselves effectively, we first have to change our perceptions.”

Each of these quotes point to the conclusion our perceptions create a reality. We tend to be very stubborn in defending our created reality, even when it is based on perception alone. Most often we are in denial that “perhaps” our perception could be wrong. No matter how many times we might hear, “That’s just your perception”, we still believe it is REALITY, acting like “We know what we know and that settles it”! Unfortunately, this often leaves us in “the land of no return” refusing to believe anything other than what we perceive to be real or true.

Even Christians let their reality be formed by their own errant perceptions even though we “Walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) We walk by faith in a God that is alive and living within us! THAT is our reality – based on faith not on perceptions! So when we base reality on sight and on what we perceive to be truth instead of faith, we actually live in a false or made-up reality created by us.

The great news is anyone can change their reality by changing their perception. Of course, without letting perception be formed by faith in Jesus Christ, we would still just be creating a different reality! So…we let God fashion our perceptions AND create our reality rather than letting our personal perceptions dictate our reality. To do that requires only one thing: a decision!

Most everything in life starts with a decision or a choice! I’m sure most people reading this are thinking, “Really? I didn’t decide or choose to be born! I didn’t decide or choose my parents! I didn’t decide or choose to have this disease! I didn’t decide or choose to live in a bad marriage! How is it that most things in life begin with a decision or choice?” Touché!

But not so fast! Most often in life we can’t decide or choose what happens TO us – BUT we can always decide and choose what happens IN us and how we respond to the world AROUND us! Those decisions make all the difference in life! And I’m not talking about the power of positive thinking or having a positive attitude! I’m talking about making a conscious decision, choosing to let God create and continually renew our perception of reality.

Friends…the sad truth is… if we decide not to let God fashion our perception of reality, there are plenty of people in this world more than willing to help create a false or tainted perception for or with us. Wandering through life not making purposeful choices or letting people and circumstances help create your perception of reality leads to a very un-fulfilling life.

Marketers, magicians, artists, even the government all rely on their ability to make us see things the way they want us to see them. Unfortunately, even some Christian churches rely on their ability to draw people unto themselves and into their programs instead of into Jesus! Plus, Satan has done a pretty decent job of getting God’s people to see all that is wrong with their leaders and each other, to focus on disagreements, to walk away from their churches, to accuse other Christians of making them feel unloved, rejected, bored, angry, or hurt; all in an effort to form negative perceptions about the reality of following Christ!

When Christians believe their perception is reality in the Church, it gets twisted real fast and they start church hopping, trying to find the perfect church to fit all their needs, feeding their own selfish desires, instead of asking the Lord where He wants them. When people move from church to church because of dissatisfaction based on perceptions, they just take their false perceptions from one church to the next to the next, spreading poison and creating a blurred or completely clouded perception of true Christianity to more people, resulting in lukewarm Christians fighting against one another in the name of love.

“Perception is Reality” is false on a strictly factual basis though practically speaking it at least “appears” to be true in our society! Because of this, we often let people’s perceptions of us make or break us, whether they are accurate and have any merit or not. There is also the issue of “our” perception of other people’s perceptions, which can also be tainted and false though just as real. These too can cause a ton of damage as we tend to believe what we perceive to be real even though what we might feel is based solely on our perception of what they perceive about us. (reread that if need be)

As you can see, this is just a vicious circle of falsehood based on faulty perceptions we have determined to be reality!  When we allow the perceptions of others to determine how we perceive ourselves, it can lead to some devastating and debilitating psychological issues, or at the other end of the spectrum, can makes us think WAY more highly of ourselves than we ought to think if we perceive people think highly of us!

Another big problem with “perception is reality” is it creates biases based on past experiences. For example, if we perceive something to be true based on a “bad” past experience, it is difficult for us to get a clean, fresh, unbiased, objective view of something or someone, thus we base present and future actions from that bad experience. When the past has left a sour taste in our mouths, we are unlikely to give anything or anyone another shot! Biased “bad” past experiences lead us to act and perceive things negatively both in relation to self and the world, not to mention we stubbornly hold tight to our perceptions, no matter how tainted, unhealthy, pessimistic, depressing, or harmful they are, just so we can be “right”.

Here’s the bottom line: Perception might be our reality, but truth still trumps perception EVERY TIME! Now THAT is TRUTH! We must be willing to embrace truth, letting God’s Word generate and regenerate our perceptions in life; otherwise we stay ensnared and imprisoned by falsehood, deception, and fear without even knowing it’s happening.

When we settle for the “fact” that “perception is reality”, in reality we are merely settling for our own explanation. In other words, we let our perception form excuses for our behavior, especially where division and misunderstandings exist. This “allows” us not to do anything to change our circumstances or behavior, seeing there is no perceived need TO correct our behavior, because if perception of the situation is reality, nobody better dare tell us our reality is wrong!

Making matters worse, this mentality contributes to leaving and letting people live in their flawed perceptions. In effect, we choose not to tell the truth, concluding since perception is a person’s reality we are incapable to change anyone’s perception, therefore incapable of changing their reality, so it’s pointless to tell the truth if we believe they only see truth in terms of their own perception anyway. Whew!

This of course completely leaves out God’s Word! “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (including freedom from our own perceptions) (John 8:32) Or “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) Or “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”  (Romans 10:17) Truth be told; we need to be told the truth!

So… while pondering all this, I had an epiphany! If we stop buying into the falsehood that “perception is reality” even though it might be factual in society; if we stop using “perception is reality” as an excuse for not telling the truth; if we stop staying silent because we think nobody listens to truth anyway; THEN we can be part of God’s plan to help people perceive His presence in life, and live in His truth based on His reality, 24/7!!!!

Since it’s a fact “perception is reality” BUT… truth surpasses AND annihilates perception, THEN…the truth is we just need our perceptions cleansed by the blood of Jesus, purified by the fire of God’s love, and transformed and renewed by the Word of God! Then “perception is reality” is replaced by “God’s truth is reality”!

How about THAT for an epiphany?

Perception is Reality? Not so fast!

 

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By His Stripes We Are Healed – It Really Is That Simple!

One Sunday after worship my husband was praying healing over my neck and back! As I rested in the Spirit and continued to pray quietly, the Lord said, “By My stripes you are healed. Yes, Julie, it really is that simple!” He knows me so well! He answered my question “Really Lord?” even before I asked it because He knows I would have asked it!  Then I asked Him to share more but His only reply was “By My stripes you are healed. It IS that simple!”

I know very well the Scripture which promises this healing! Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Jesus was literally pierced through His skin for our rebellion! Jesus was literally crushed and broken into pieces in His spirit for our perversity, crime, and sin. Jesus took the discipline, the chastening, and correction for our completeness and soundness! Jesus took the blows and bruising upon His skin so that we are made completely healthy! How simple! How profound!

It really is that simple because Jesus made sure of it! And since the Word of God says this, it’s a done deal! I believe it wholeheartedly and I hope you do too!  However, our experiences don’t always match what we believe! We pray for healing yet sickness, disease, and pain keep coming on a regular basis. We know the results of living in a sin- riddled world will include some serious trials including sickness and disease and so we pray for God to heal us and the truth still holds…by His stripes we are healed!

Some people say this healing only refers to spiritual healing, not physical. Yet, the Word of God says our spiritual healing; our cleansing, redemption, forgiveness, and nearness to God come through the blood of Jesus!

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” That’s spiritual healing!

Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” That’s spiritual healing!

Ephesians 2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” That’s spiritual healing!

If we believe His stripes only bring spiritual healing today, where is the hope for physical healing? Was physical healing only for the people who Jesus touched when He was on earth? Or was it because Jesus was their ONLY alternative for healing? Or did God HAVE to heal them because they didn’t have the medicine and treatment plans we have today?

I’m familiar with the arguments we use for the lack of physical healing we see in the United States today. Apparently we are so sophisticated and medically advanced here with God blessing us with brilliant doctors and research ability that He doesn’t need to touch and heal us Himself. He could! But He expects us to use the resources He has provided.

Then there’s the food argument. With so many preservatives being added to our food, our bodies cannot process all the processed foods, thus we see more disease. Then, animals raised for meat and dairy production are given natural and synthetic hormones to speed up the growth process and increase milk production, disrupting human hormone balance, having a negative effect on our health and causing cancer and other issues. God can’t heal us if we continue to consume all this unhealthy and unnatural food.

There is also the “God’s will” argument. We should just pray for God’s will to be done when disease hits. If it His will to heal us, then we will be healed. If it is not His will to heal us this side of heaven, we will be healed by going to heaven.

And then we have the thorn argument. If we have tried everything to be healed and aren’t, it is probably our thorn in life, just like the Apostle Paul. Since God’s grace was sufficient for him it should be sufficient for us. If we aren’t healed but don’t die, it must be God’s plan to let us suffer because we have Him and His grace.

Even though I believe whole heartedly God’s grace is sufficient, I can’t possibly compare the pain in my body with the thorn in Paul’s life, and we honestly aren’t given enough information about the thorn to conclude exactly how much pain he was in on a continual basis. Not to mention, God gave him the thorn to keep him from being exalted because he was given revelations of Paradise. Can any of us say the same? Absolutely not!

I personally hate pain (well, I guess most people do) but I also don’t like spending God’s money on doctors and medicine. I’m not opposed to them, just allergic to them! (that’s a joke – laugh) I am thankful for the ability of doctors and medicine to alleviate the symptoms of disease and sickness but I am more thankful we have a God who heals! Exodus 15:26 “…For I am the Lord who heals you.” Psalm 103:3 “Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases.”

It was after a debilitating auto accident more than a decade ago that I came to know the Lord as my Healer! Since then I’ve had numerous “sudden” healing experiences and also gradual ones, all of them miraculous! And through all of them, I learned much about “God and me”! Now, I NEVER take health and healing for granted! Every single day I’m reminded of the goodness of God when I walk, run, ride my bike, play with my grandbabies, play Frisbee, cook a meal for my family, laugh, clean, do laundry, iron, and the list is endless.

See… I couldn’t do any of those things for five years after the accident. If I tried, the pain was excruciating! Doctors had no solution other than get used to it! So I know first-hand the healing power of a God whose healing presence surrounds me every day of my life! Yet, sometimes the pain returns! The day I received prayer and heard God tell me “By My stripes you are healed. It really is that simple” followed a string of days where I was experiencing excess pain.

It was a day I came face to face once again with the living God who reminded me how cautiously I’d been living to protect and prevent injury and pain! I was living in fear of its’ return so not doing the things I wanted to do. It bothered me to know I was settling for partial healing when I knew God healed me! It is God’s “more than sufficient” grace that motivates me to say “More Lord! Complete Your work in me!”

I will soon pass over the half century mark in life, and that means the skin starts to sag, the muscles aren’t nearly as tight, the energy weans a tad, and well, the body just starts to look and act tired. Age had begun to limit even my ability to fulfill my desire to worship and praise the Lord with all my soul, strength, and mind!  All the more reason to trust God for more! To give me all I need to live fully, to dance before Him without fear of pain and never again let that pain keep me from loving on Him! (Okay! Dance is a strong word choice! I actually just jump up and down like a pogo stick in my excitement but still…)

Though it was a spiritual challenge for me to move beyond where I was at with healing to a place of total trust in Jesus by pushing my body more, it’s a prize worth pursuing! See, when the challenge comes from the throne of God, He gives you everything you need to face it! So in effect, I have “worked out” with God all these years, and just need to make sure I stick with Him because He is a great coach! Turns out, it wasn’t really healing I’ve been pursuing! It’s Jesus! And in Jesus, all things are made new! (Revelation 21:5) Simple! Life-giving!

This all leads back to the beginning of this blog! Simplicity! If I want more, I need to keep it simple! If I want my experience of healing to match my faith in God for healing, I need to keep it simple! By His stripes we are healed! It IS as simple as that! No more! No less!

Oh, I can theologize, complicate, and debate this whole healing thing with Christians but then, why would I want to? Why argue about what His stripes are and what kind of healing He speaks of? Why limit Him? If I need healing, and it is by His stripes I am healed, then yes! It really is, as Holy Spirit spoke to me that day, THAT SIMPLE!

Sure – there are days pain comes back to try and drag me into unbelief! But then, I have only to remember His Words to me today! By MY stripes you are healed Yes, Julie! It really is that simple! Those words of encouragement stir me to faith, moving me to believe Him more than I believe the pain, to trust Him and His truth more than the facts, to walk by faith and not by sight!

Today, He says the same to you! By My stripes you are healed! Yes, it really is that simple!

 
 

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Are You Really What You Eat?

It’s interesting how Christians pick up on worldly sayings isn’t it? One day as I was walking and worshipping, God chuckled and said, “You are what you eat!”  Holy Spirit had spoken a random thought into my spirit and it made me smile. I won’t go through the whole dialogue piece by piece but I did have a splendid conversation with Him about this subject.

How can we possibly be what we eat? Think about it! I don’t want to be ANYTHING that I eat! That is just plain gross! And then think about what comes out of us? Better yet, don’t!  I don’t know about you, but I’m going to disagree with the statement “You are what you eat!” No, I’m not waste material, thank you very much!

Of course I know what people “mean” when they say that, but folks, say what you mean instead of saying something ridiculous to try to prove something you believe in!

It is true we should eat healthy and in moderation, that we abuse food and drink far too often, and that we don’t exercise enough! But it is also true many people eat and drink all the wrong things and live happy, healthy lives, while some people eat and drink all the right things and are always sickly.  Prevention is good but wisdom is better! When we depend on prevention we are greatly discouraged when things don’t turn out like they “should” if we think we are doing everything in our power to prevent bad things from happening.

What the Lord really wanted to convey though is His children should not pick up on and use slogans or phrases coming out of the world! These always focus our attention on ourselves, and are usually far from truth not to mention unclear! See, we tend to believe what we say! So if we are saying all these worldly things even if we don’t agree with them entirely, we still believe them. We ought to spend a lot more time saying what God says about us and what we are, not what the world says!

If we aren’t what we eat then what are we? Are we what we say? Are we what we think? Are we what we do? Are we what we dream? Are we what we hope for? Are we just what we are? No, No!  God clearly tells us what we are, and when we start proclaiming what He says, living in His reality and truth, we won’t have time to focus on all the things we “think” we are, because we will be so busy living in His world instead of our own!

Let’s see what God says: You are the dust of the ground! Genesis 3:19 “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”  Well that sounds promising huh? Not at first, but it is! God said this to Adam after he sinned. Obviously there were and are consequences for our sin BUT there is also hope! We came from dust and we return to dust, but then…we rise to new life in Jesus!

You are children of the Most High! You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. You are of more value than many sparrows. You are the branches of the Vine. You are friends of Jesus! You are God’s field, you are God’s building. You are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. You are the body of Christ, and members individually. You are an epistle of Christ. You are the temple of the living God. You are light in the Lord! You are complete in Him! You are a chosen generation. You are a royal priesthood. You are a holy nation. You are His own special people! You are of God!

(Psalm 82:6; Matthew 5:13; Matthew 5:14 Matthew 10:31 John 15:5 John 15:141 Corinthians 3:91 Corinthians 3:231 Corinthians 12:272 Corinthians 3:32 Corinthians 6:16 Ephesians 5:8 Colossians 2:101 Peter 2:91 John 4:4)

Now… would you still like to say “You are what you eat”? I would rather say and be all the things God says! I will even be so bold as to say what I eat can just be what it is or I will eat my words! I will be who and what God says I am!

More important than all of our own “you are’s” is who God is to us! And since we are one with Him, our interest in Him proves more beneficial in discovering ourselves than all the effort we exert to “find” or describe ourselves outside of Him. Plus, there are hundreds more “You are’s” in reference to God than to us which means we should be shouting out who He is, not what we are!

Here are some “You are’s” from the book of Psalms:

You are my confidence. You are the helper of the fatherless. You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup. You are holy. You are with me. You are the God of my salvation. You are my hiding place. You are my King. You are My God! You are my shield. You are near. You are more awesome than Your holy places. You are my help and deliverer. You are my rock and my fortress. You are my hope. You are my trust from my youth. You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. You are my strong refuge. You are more glorious and excellent than the mountains. You are to be feared. You are the God who does wonders. You are my God. You are great and do wondrous things. You are the glory of our strength. You are my Father and the rock of my salvation. You are from everlasting. You are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty. You are my portion.

I didn’t even begin to touch on the rest of the Bible which proclaims and declares: You are the Christ, You are the Son of the Living God, You are the Spirit of God, and well… you get the point!

Still, if any follower of Jesus insists on proclaiming “You are what you eat”, by all means go for it! But then…eat from the Word of God every day for every meal! You can’t go wrong there! God says you can’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from His mouth!  (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4)

Instead of getting caught up in, and digesting all the “you are’s” the world feeds us, feast on the Living Word and then tell the world who you really are. Just a little food for thought today!

 
 

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Be Careful How You Hear – Part Two

In the last blog we left off with the question “How do we take heed how we hear?”  The answer is actually pretty simple. We hear by the Word of God!  Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

We listen to lots of things in this world. We learn facts about the human body, disease, nature, weather, politics, technology, psychology, behavior, relationships, marriage, parenting, history, mathematics, sociology, business, finances, and on and on it goes. Some of it is interesting information, lots of it is boring, but all of it gets cataloged, taking up room in our brains.

We generally listen to all these facts without being careful how we hear them! And if we are not careful how we hear, we won’t hear God speak louder and more clearly about and into every one of these topics and situations in life. If we don’t hear God, then we will live in these facts and are led by them, without experiencing real life in the truth!

The problem is we neglect or forget to hear by the word of God. And if we aren’t hearing by the word of God, faith doesn’t come. And if faith doesn’t come, well…we are very confused, doubting people. Though most Christians actually do “try hard” to let faith rule their lives, they are easily frustrated without realizing or knowing how easy it is to let faith come to them. And it all has to do with our willingness to hear and then be careful HOW we hear.

True hearing only comes by the word of God! We must read, study, let pastors and teachers explain the Word to us, and memorize the Bible. Reading it out loud is also a great exercise to strengthen our faith as we literally hear it. Without the Word of God our hearing is limited to the natural sphere of life, where we hear physically but not spiritually.

We hear God loud and clear when we are careful to hear by the Word because it brings faith, and when faith comes, our daily walk escalates to a whole new level!  2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith not by sight.” I love that God tells us how we walk.  He isn’t telling us how we “should” walk but “how” we walk!  Brothers and Sisters in Christ!  We walk by faith! So then, when we find ourselves walking by sight, when we are shaken by things in life that threaten our faith walk, we remember “Wait! I walk by faith not by sight! What I see is not as real as what I believe!” Then we walk on in faith!

This reality of walking by faith not by sight happens naturally when we are careful to hear Him by His Word! When we know hearing comes by the Word, we hear God speak above the din of circumstances in life.  Then faith comes flooding in, and we walk!

Sometimes it feels like what we see has the upper hand and our faith wanes! No problem for God, thus no problem for us! Just realize and admit we got our signals crossed and are experiencing technical difficulties, then get right back to taking heed how we hear! Get back into the Word of God so we CAN hear, so that faith comes, so that our signals get uncrossed and so that we can walk by faith unhindered by what we see once again.

It is very simple! When we’re not in the Word, we don’t hear! When we don’t hear, faith doesn’t come! When faith doesn’t come; perceptions, opinions, facts, thoughts, and intentions DO come! When those things come, we make things up as we go! When we make things up as we go doubt is our constant companion because we hear nothing we can count on! Doubt causes us to question our faith!

Romans 14:23  “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”

At this point we are right back where we started! If we question our faith, we aren’t hearing! We aren’t hearing because we are not in the Word, the one and only thing giving us the ability to hear!  Chances are we are not in the Word because we are too busy hearing everything else in life!

So…how do we take heed how we hear? Keep it real folks! And by real I mean keep the faith!  And by keep the faith I mean remember how it comes! It comes by hearing! And hearing? It comes by the Word of God!

Can you hear Jesus speaking to you today? Be careful to look in His Word and you can hear Him! Then there is no end to the possibilities!

 Matthew 21:21 “So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, If you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to this fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, Be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done.”

If we have doubt we don’t have faith. If we don’t have faith we doubt!  BUT, if we have faith AND do not doubt, well… then… all things are possible!

Are you struggling in life today? Not a problem! Just check your hearing! Don’t waste your time trying to figure out why you struggle or why bad things always happen to you! Don’t waste your time trying to stay in faith when the world has ripped you apart!

Instead, spend your time in the Word of God! Spend your time hearing Him speak through His Word! Spend your time exercising your faith as it comes to you by hearing it by the Word of God!

When you find yourself walking by sight and not by faith, stop! You were just diagnosed with hearing loss. Grab your Bible and get healed!  Hearing COMES by the Word of God! Faith COMES by hearing! How are you hearing today?

 

 

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The Great Cover-Up!

“Do it yourself” projects can be fun and interesting but they are often a bit deceiving.  The experts who put together projects for “do it yourselfers” sometimes underestimate the work and knowledge necessary to obtain the same results they get, making projects look easier than they really are. What may be simple for one person can be exceptionally challenging for someone else with different gifts and talents.  Experience also plays a huge factor because the more time and effort we have put into something, the more “unforeseen” problems we have faced and solved!  And even though experts can help avoid or sidestep difficulties, rarely can “do it yourselfers” come out unscathed, and very often mistakes need to be covered up.

Ultimately, there is no substitute for expertise. For example, most of us call the electrician when we need electric work done in our homes.  If he finds bad wiring and informs us of a fire hazard, I doubt we would argue with him or share our opinion, but would get the repair work done. We call on contractors to build, add on, or fix problems in our homes.  We usually take their advice, especially if they find issues, and it is unlikely we ignore what they have to say. We call on dentists when we need teeth fixed, doctors when we have medical concerns, lawyers when we have legal issues, bankers or financial experts when we have money questions, and plumbers when we have…pipe problems .  We might get a second opinion at times, but rarely do we pretend to be the expert in these things, nor would we think it appropriate to argue with those who know more than we do! 

It seems natural that we would do the same spiritually, you know, call on the experts to help us understand the Bible, grow in faith, and grasp truth.  Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Instead, when it comes to God, the Bible, and religion most people tend to be “Do it yourselfers”, forming their own opinions with little to no help from the experts.  People like to tell God their plans, “make their peace” with Him (whatever that means) and go on with life!  If a Christian pastor speaks truth, suggests a change of direction, tells us our spiritual understanding (wiring) is messed up, or that we have some problem areas, we rarely listen to their advice. We would rather argue, walk away, make our own plans, and continue to do our own thing.  There always seems to be someone who will come into agreement with us, so we just keep looking until we find them. 

Rejecting spiritual advice from those who are called to give it is like telling an electrician we disagree with them when they inform us a fire is imminent. Or telling a contractor we don’t consider the cracked foundation he found to be a big issue so we will just take our chances. We tell spiritual mentors, “Thanks for the information but we’ll be fine!”

This happens because electricians, contractors, dentists, doctors, lawyers, bankers and plumbers all deal with tangible, hands-on problems making it easy to see and feel our own limitations and inabilities.  We easily surrender to our need for help if we physically see and feel all is not well, and though we will complain about the cost, we still pay!  But when it comes to faith and spiritual issues that we can’t see or touch, we aren’t as willing to admit our limitations and inabilities, or seek advice, or pay the cost.  Sin is at the root of nearly all problems in life. This is where the “Do it yourself” approach gets us into the most trouble.  We don’t think sin is anybody else’s business and as long as we take it up with God and He is good with us, we do whatever we like.  At least that is the prevalent attitude out there. 

But here’s the thing about sin!  It’s not relative! In other words a sin cannot be compared to other things to determine if it really is sin or not.  Our personal definition of sin is irrelevant when it disagrees with God’s Word and this is where it would be wise to consult those who study the Word of God and are appointed by Him to lead us.  Most of the time we tell our spiritual leaders what we are doing is not sin.  The thing is, sin deceives and destroys leaving us vulnerable and in need of exposure the same way bad wiring or construction is unsafe and we need experts to uncover the problems. Most often we do whatever it takes, including seeking and heeding professional advice to get and stay healthy to rid our lives of physical pain and agony, yet do we make the same effort to care for ourselves spiritually? We generally don’t because we can’t “see” and “feel” it as quickly so it is just a slow fade!  Sin eats away at us like decay in our mouths, or germs and virus eat away at our bodies. 

The great news is we don’t need to sit back and let sin do its’ dirty work unbeknownst to us.  Sin does not define who we are nor does it direct our destiny.  Sin should be neither hidden nor flaunted.  It is not meant to be argued or debated.  It does not have the ability to embarrass or humiliate.  It is not a private matter between God and us.  Keeping sin secret might save us embarrassment for the time being but in reality it is a huge set-up for failure because where there is no accountability sin runs rampant.  Instead, sin is meant to be exposed and expelled from our lives according to the Word of God. Sure, it isn’t always easy.  But the answer is still simple. We have a Redeemer.  His Name is Jesus!   He is our remedy for sin and with our eyes fixed on Him, sin is just sin.  Its power is gone when exposed!   

All that is required is faith in Jesus to let God’s wisdom and understanding have the driver’s seat in our lives while making human logic and reasoning take a back seat. We don’t leave them behind when we walk in faith but they are no longer the driving force.  By faith we accept the fact that without Christ in our lives, we are broken down messes with undetectable cracks and wiring issues in need of repair and professional help.  When we open ourselves to the “experts” we discover spiritual matters demand time, endurance, patience, and our cooperation.  There are rarely any “quick fixes” when it comes to problems in life. This is usually where we lose interest.  We don’t like the fact that we can’t “hire” someone to fix up our lives, so we fix them ourselves, rejecting the leadership of our shepherds, trying to make God fit into our plans, and assuming He fixes our cracks and wiring with no effort on our part.  Indeed, on the outside things might appear to “be fine” but in reality we have just covered over problems with our “Do it yourself” remedies.

Through faith in God and His Word we will have no problem seeing that the “Do it yourself” approach in life is not God’s great cover up. James 5:19-20 “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”  The only way to turn each away from the error of his way is to call sin what it is; a wandering from truth! We get to talk about truth AND about sin. There are no gray areas here!  Neither truth nor sin is relative and exposing sin turns us toward truth saving us from certain death!  Now that is great news!

We can probably all agree it is not an easy task to turn sinners from the error of their ways because it is never welcomed.  Even those who say they want to be held accountable only like it if they already know they are in sin and confess it before they are held accountable.  Instead, we are quick to attack, defend, rationalize, or flat-out deny any error and we totally reject any effort to save our souls from death.

God’s great cover up for sin is further exposed in 1 Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”  In these two verses we discover God’s great cover up: Salvation and love cover a “multitude” of sin not just a little bit of sin. However, we must understand this is not like the covering of a nice cozy blanket in bed on a wintry night. Salvation and love are not coverlets for sin, nor would we want them to cover over our sin. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to sleep with a multitude of sins, whether they are covered with love or not!  That is like eating chocolate covered maggots.  Yuck!

This would be another good place to consult the “experts” when it comes to uncovering the secret to this “cover”.  The Greek word for “cover” in these verses is “kalypto”, which most often means “to hide or hinder the knowledge of something”.  But if that was the meaning in this context, it would insinuate love hinders our knowledge about the sin in our lives, which is obviously absurd.  Instead, in these two verses, “kalypto” means “to pardon the sins or to procure pardon of the multitude of sins from God”.  Isn’t that beautiful? Love doesn’t cover our sin in the sense of hiding it, but it pardons, forgives, and removes the sin from us so that we can revel in love! How does that work?  By turning one another from the error of our ways, by exposing sin for what it is, and then receiving pardon by turning to His love!

Peter’s reference is taken from Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”  This Hebrew word for “cover” most often means to conceal or hide something. But here it means to “pardon” or “officially release us from further punishment.”  And we see the same in Psalm 32:1 “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Psalm 85:2 “You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin.”  Knowing these Greek and Hebrew definitions for “cover” helps us expose sin in order to be released from it rather than covering it up or hiding sin.

God’s great cover up for sin is so much better than ours.  We embrace His ways by letting Holy Spirit open our eyes to what He is saying rather than reading His Word through our own eyes of understanding.   For example, one truth from Scripture that Christians often misread leading us to be silent and deceived when it comes to sin is Matthew 7:3-5 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Most Christians read this and conclude since we all have planks (sin) we should keep quiet about specks (sin) in others.  In other words, since we all have “huge” sins in our lives we should not talk about the “little” sins in the lives of others.  But this is not what God is saying at all!  By relegating the meaning to this, not only will others not get free from their sin but we won’t either.  Nowhere in these verses does it say we are not to remove sin from each other! In fact it says the opposite!  Scripture is consistent! We should get rid of our own sin so that we will see CLEARLY to REMOVE sin from our brother or sister. Jesus points out the hypocritical attitude of people who ONLY see the sin of others without acknowledging their own sin.  He is not saying “Let’s never talk about sin!”

Hypocrites are people who say one thing but do another; they are pretenders.  Hypocrites are not people who call out sin in the family of God.  We are hypocrites if we pretend other people have sin and we don’t.  We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but that does not leave us victims.  Get rid of our sin, and then let’s deal with sin in others.   

The question remains, why are we so willing to remain silent in the face of sin? Because we know people will reject us if we call sin, sin!  They will say we don’t love or support them. They will accuse us of being judgmental!  They will walk away from us and THEN how can we help them?  They will say we aren’t any better than them (no one said we were).  They will find others who sympathize with them. They will go find people who will be “nice” and support them instead of letting the kindness of our Lord lead them to repentance.  In the end how much better is it to risk rejection for a moment here to save a soul from death?  The cost is great – but it is well worth it.

I want to be around people who refuse to cover up the truth of my sin and want the same for themselves. Oh, I know I won’t like it – but the pay-off is worth it.  And I want to hang with people who believe in the greatest cover up of all time – The love and salvation of Jesus Christ! Then, we get to go and share this great news with everyone we meet!   

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2011 in Sin

 

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