Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Deeper Forgiveness

I was laying in bed a moment ago attempting sleep with no success and began thinking about forgiveness.  Our Women's Bible study group dove in richly to Heitzig and Rose's "Live Deeply: A Study in the Parables of Jesus." One night a week our teacher, Leesa uses a method learned from her previous class, "Precepts for Life," called the Inductive Bible Study Method.  It is explained as:

"Individual study is the first step. Group discussion based observations and insights from personal study are encouraged. It is in the discussion, for many students, that the lesson begins to “gel”. The discussion confirms, clarifies, and corrects as each student seeks to discover truth for themselves. Discussion of the Bible's truths helps to seal them in our minds and sharing application encourages individuals to live out what they are learning. In this approach, spending time to know what the Bible says, understanding what it means, and living it out in our daily life, results in a life that honors God"

Towards the end of today's study, (If you're looking at the post time on here....hey I got it done alright, even if it is at the end of the day!) the book mentions the verse about forgiving others because God first forgave you (Ephesians 4:32). They challenged us to re-write the verse in our own words.  This assignment circled around in my head, then continued on a somewhat of a round about up there, swirling and whirling.  You know the ones you can get stuck on forever and ever as cars keep coming in from all different directions and you keep circling and see the turnoff you are supposed to take looping past your shoulder for hmmmmmmmmm........let's see.....THE 15TH TIME!!!!!! There we go around again....arghhhh!!!! For several minutes more they unveiled their kingdomness (yes, this is found in Olivia's Dictionary) in my head and I begin to see the treasures and jewels the Lord desired the intensely potential puking experience to be. 

My heart burst with what we normal don't see in the verses.  Little tiny jewels glisten in the Words and have such depths to them and also to our hearts and lives. Firstly, we must truly hear this....You can't forgive someone for something they did to you, if you have not allowed Jesus to forgive you and cover all of your sins. If forgiveness is not within and at work in you, it is impossible to give.  You can't give something to another if you don't have it.  I always heard it as "You can't give what you don't have."  We cant produce it within ourselves and give it away.  If we are empty of forgiveness or know nothing about how deep it goes with Jesus and what He did for us, then we cannot give it to someone else.  It is just not something we have.  When people don't have unconditional love ruling their lives, they can't give that to the children, spouse or friends.  It is just not there.  It has to be felt, needed and asked for by God to fill you inside, and when you know it and learn it and it begins making you feel free, happy, loved, cherished and forgiven, then you are able to show that to others because it is what has been shown to you by HIM, so much so, that it overflows.  Kind of like Psalm 23:5, when the cup overflows with the Love of God....WE ALLOW GOD TO FILL US AND THE OVERFLOW IS WHAT WE GIVE TO OTHERS.  And yes, this requires being filled by Jesus a lot as we go about our lives.  We must remain in Him and He in us, otherwise we will be on empty and immobilized.  It is so amazing, it is just so amazing Jesus!  Thank You!

See, forgiveness is a hard thing.  I think for most the concept sounds easy, but the forgiveness He speaks about is the type that comes from the heart, from the deepest place of the heart that knows the reality that Jesus forgave them. Initial forgiveness is us being able to say the words and try not to say anything mean to someone or maybe even behind their back.  It may also include just ignoring them after.  You did your job, you forgave and now you did your godly duty....check mark please!?  But the DEEPER and FREER forgiveness that Jesus is talking about goes beyond this level and goes to the next.  Did you know there was more levels beyond that?  There are, and as we mature in the Lord we must lead our hearts to these wisdoms and learn how to not only walk in them, but help others walk in them as well.  (*****Remember the enemy doesn't want our hearts free and full of God's ingredients).  When we stop here, and just forgive and try and love, most often than not, we will again find ourselves in a similar situation with pain and quarrels or even perhaps with a different person.  Then afterwords as we pray again, we end up feeling guilty, wronged, disappointed in ourselves and even condemned that we were unable to keep the bad thoughts out of our minds towards them and situation. Did I even forgive them?  I thought I did! And so we must keep going, dig deeper and be STRETCHED a little more.  The next step of actually forgiving someone, beyond initially saying it and trying to act good is actually BLESSING THEM in the kingdom. Matthew 5:44 says " But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you..." This happens in so many ways, but one way I want to encourage you to do is that you ask Jesus to see that person through His Eyes and through His Word.  What does Jesus say about so-and-so?  What kingdom mindedness can you declare for that persons life?  "I know God that you called her to be healthy and blessed and not act out of fear.  I know that You see her as a beautiful woman of God who is talented and loves children. I bless her to have moments where she can feel Your Presence richly, that she will walk with you daily and seek you in her marriage and amongst her time with you.  I pray you would allow her kingdom moments, times where you send a treasure or situation that was meant for them as a gift from a Father Who loves them."  This would be a small example of how seeing through God's Eyes ties into blessing someone that you are forgiving, or that is acting as an enemy in your life.  It guides our minds to not jump off the path and whisk away our emotions and misconstrued feelings that ultimately affect our behavior towards them.

But it doesn't end there.  When we don't forgive it hurts us.  A lot of what God alarms and says about things we shouldn't or should do, is about the heart and about the fact that He doesn't want us hurting.  Unforgiving hurts and affects our lives like a bad disease.  It clouds our hearts and minds from our purpose in life.  It causes physical ailments, moodiness and depression, and emotions and focus are all impacted by unforgiving.  Jesus knew it needed to be rid of in our hearts because it would end up corroding our hearts, corroding our Love.  And Love is the greatest commandment God has given us. 

There are several people in my life right now that I love dearly and pray for.  I do not consider them my enemy, but I do need the Lord to show me how to love them like He does.  Some people do have people in their lives that are enemies.  There are spiritual enemies, people who act as enemies to ones emotions, or even physical wellness, and some have enemies amongst their community, their city, neighborhoods, and especially in their place of employment.  Jesus wants us to Love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  We must remember that unless we know and comprehend what true forgiveness and love is, that we will not be able to love and forgive upon our own power.  We must allow Jesus to help us do that through His Word, life and His testimony.  He can give us the peace, grace and freedom our hearts need to walk healthy in the world. We must train ourselves to focus on Him above all.  Our days are getting darker.  I keep hearing the verse of how people will exchange Truth for a lie.  This means that those who already KNOW Truth will exchange it.  Let's not only know it in our heads, but in our hearts and produce the fruit that shows our living of it.

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

Romans 1:18-32

Monday, April 28, 2014

Shining for LIFE: Rhododendron Parade

This weekend we were able to be a part of something special, our first parade and experience as a community member in our new city.  We partnered and sponsored with the Pregnancy Care Center and walked with a purpose to share the hope that abortion does not have to be the choice, that God can offer hope and that these girls are not alone and can chose to be surrounded by resources and by God's Love.  The JRophe ministry here offers free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds to the community.  I am telling you it is a HUGE deal in these parts.  We need the Lord's power to open the eyes of this city in this aspect. We made Ahava a special outfit that day to show people that a tiny little life can LIVE and be healthy and she truly walked with a covering and blessing around her and spread Joy all over the city.  It said "23 WK" on the front and "MIRACLE" on the back.  We had many many MANY people ask about her story.  WE GOT TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT WHAT GOD DID! The mention of God and Jesus in this city is a lot different from where we were in Texas.  There is a big resistance to Jesus here, but I could tell God used Ahava's story and testimony to soften hearts and cause people to think.  To see the AMAZING CALL on Ahava's life already in play overwhelms me often.  I pray the Lord can guide me with wisdom as she continues to become aware of Who God is and Who He will always be for her. She looked like a little rhododendron flower!  The paper actually took a picture of her walking and dancing and asked to possibly use it, but I don't think they ended up doing so.  She would walk, jump, dance and wave to everyone as she walked by.  I could hear people squealing as she approached them on the sidelines because they couldn't wait for her to walk by.  I know I am her Mom, but really...she was beyond adorable that morning! I am a little convinced she thought it was all for her, but I am not going to burst her bubble!  She can think that if she wants too!  Ha-Ha!!!   It actually turned out to be a long walk for all of us that morning and by the time we reached the end, we all were ready for a good nap, but we knew it was for a reason, to push back darkness with Love.  We got to talk and love on a lot of people in the community that we would have never had an opportunity to do it like that otherwise.  One little one, our leader got a picture of me talking and praying for without me even knowing it (picture below).  And of course Ahava made LOTS of furry little friends, one of whom she adored that walked with us (see picture below).  There was a lot of take in during the walk, especially since we had an eternal purpose upon our shoulders.  I knew as we got ready that morning, to pray over all of us for protection and for the Lord to walk before us.  It was a true blessing.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

I NeedA Laugh

A LONG time ago, I used to do a segment on my blog every week that was dedicated to "needing a laugh." I titled it "I NeedA Laugh".  I don't know why I combined the "A" with the "Need", that is just the way "I NeedA Laugh" goes.  Anyway! Today is the day where it reappears!  There is a site I go to frequently.  It is called www.FaithIt.com.  I was so tickled at these posts, that I had to share them.  The title for them was something like, "I always knew superheroes were real!" Enjoy them and remember that laughing is a good thing that God created out of the beauty of His being!