I Have Wronged No Man

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. (Acts 9:1-2, NLT)

They rushed at …[Stephen] and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned him… (Acts 7:57-59, NLT)

Saul persecuted, arrested and was responsible for the deaths of Christians. Yet later (as Paul) he says, “Please open your hearts to us. We have not done wrong to anyone…” How can someone with his history say that?

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities… (Psalms 103:2-3, NKJV)

Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin. (Romans 4:8, NLT)

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12, NKJV)

Today, I too can say, I have wronged no man. Not because I have always treated others as I should, but because of the blood of Jesus that brought me forgiveness of all of my sins. Today, I can also say that no man has wronged me. How can I say that? Have I always been treated right by all men? No, but the blood of Jesus was shed for them too.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32, NKJV)

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12-14;MSG)

I choose to forgive as freely and completely as He chose to forgive me. Selah.

Teach Me

Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:4-5, KJV)

I’ve written on this topic before, but felt very strongly this morning that I needed to do so again and in greater detail. In 1997 my nephew passed away a few short days after his birth. Many shared their thoughts on why this happened, why God did this. I knew God, but I knew very little about His nature and His ways. My prayer to Him in the midst of it all was this, “God I don’t know what happened, but I don’t believe You did this. Teach me about healing.”

Within two months I found myself at a new church, though neither my husband or I had considered leaving the church we had been in for years. There is so much to this story, but for the sake of space and time let me just say that less than a year later I had become a part of the healing ministry at that church including volunteering in their hospital ministry and being a part of their healing school. Many years later, many prayers later, hundreds of people ministered to and prayed for later, I became the person ‘in charge’ of the healing ministry at our church. I was in charge of training the hospital ministry team and coordinating the ministry. I taught healing school and trained the healing school volunteers. Sixteen years later I am still praying for the sick and seeing them recover. How? I asked Him to teach me about healing.

It didn’t take me long to realize what it meant to ask Him to teach me. I asked Him to teach me about prayer and soon found myself as a young woman with jet black hair, sitting in prayer meetings where just about everyone else in the room had white or gray hair. I’m not trying to make much of myself. I’m making much of my God! I asked Him to teach me about prayer and I ended up with wisdom beyond my years.

I asked Him to teach me about love and to teach me how to love. While at this same church, I not only taught classes on healing, but I also taught many classes on God’s love.

I’ve asked Him to teach me how to be a good wife. I’ve asked Him to teach me about anything and everything I can think of and He always does.

Recently I shared this with someone going through a very difficult situation. One of the things they were battling was tremendous fear. It was not only a battle that was specific to this situation, but one that they had struggled with for much of their life. I encouraged this person to ask God to teach them about His love. Perfected love (His perfect love) casts out all fear. I also encouraged them to ask God to teach them how to walk free from fear.

He longs to lead, guide, instruct, encourage, and teach us. We don’t have to walk through this life alone. We don’t have to try to figure it all out on our own. Trust me you will never figure it out on your own.

Ask Him, “Teach me”. Let Him help you to have the abundant life His Son gave His life for. Selah.

…one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray… (Luke 11:1, KJV)

It Is Well

I have mentioned in the past that whenever I write, I always have a song stirring in my soul. Today as I write, the song I’m hearing in my heart is “It Is Well With My Soul”. I’m letting it wash over me as I weep for my friends that just lost their baby.

For 16 years now I have been helping family, friends and strangers navigate through critical illnesses and life’s tragedies. By the grace of God, and only the grace of God, I can remain strong, peaceful and calm in the midst of any storm. However, while I could keep my emotions in check and the tears at bay when most needed, I also found that often the tears never came. But those emotions, those tears don’t just disappear. Little by little they accumulated in my soul. Not good for my soul or for my body which is affected by the activity in the soul.

I have learned to embrace what I call my gift from God of a built in release valve, my tears. It’s okay to cry. I’m telling myself this as I also pray this helps anyone else that needs to hear this.

I sit. I weep. I let Him restore my soul.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul… (Psalm 23:2-3, NKJV)

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2, NKJV)

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8, NLT)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows]. (Psalm 147:3, Amplified)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNqo4Un2uZI&feature=kp 

Touched

When I say the word ‘touched’ what comes to mind? Maybe you think of the physical act of touching. A hand reaching out to come in contact with a person or object. Maybe it causes you to think not of a physical act, but an emotional one. Being deeply moved emotionally by an act of kindness or by the suffering of another.

During a recent conference, one of the speakers shared on the woman with the issue of blood. Let’s take a look at her story in the book of Mark chapter five.

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. (Mark 5:25-29, KJV)

I love what the conference speaker shared in regards to this woman. He spoke of how some make it seem as though she grabbed Jesus or clung to Him in some way. But he demonstrated what it means to touch. She reached out her hand and maybe with just one finger lightly, gently and momentarily came into contact with His clothes. All around Him people were pressing in. I picture people pushing and pressing being jostled about as they tried to get to Him.

And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? (Mark 5:30-31, KJV)

The disciples were thinking, “Are you kidding me? Who hasn’t touched Him?” as they were being pressed on all sides. But someone touched Him in a way that caused virtue, His healing power, to flow from Him. He wanted to know who touched Him in faith and received the grace to be healed.

As I listened to the speaker a song started to stir in my heart, He Touched Me. The song flowed through my heart and my mind. Then I heard His still small voice, “You’ve touched Me.” My heart was flooded with joy. My eyes filled with tears. I knew what He meant. He was not speaking of a physical touch. He was telling me that I had touched His heart.

Yes, He touched Me. Yet, I am humbled, amazed, and in awe of the fact that He is a Savior, our God, that we too can touch.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched… (Hebrews 4:15, KJV)

But For the Grace

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. Luke 4:1, NKJV

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15, NKJV

This morning the headlines were many announcing an evangelical preacher of a very large church resigning due to moral failings. Some reports indicated possible porn addiction and extra-marital affairs. These specific failings were not confirmed officially.

I saw the headlines and my heart sank. A family betrayed and hurting. A congregation, including this pastor’s staff, confused and hurting. I prayed for them and then I prayed for this pastor.

I think of the saying, “There but for the grace of God.” We hear it everywhere, but I don’t think it’s usually said with the true weight and meaning that this statement should carry.

I started this post with two scriptures that speak of our Lord Jesus Christ being tempted. He was tempted but did not sin. This was not because He was the Son of God. He laid down His divine nature and came to earth as a man. I believe the reason He did not fall under the weight of such great temptation was because of what happened prior to His entering the wilderness. “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit…”

But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it). James 4:6, Amplified

There but for the grace of God. There but for the power of the Holy Spirit to meet this evil tendency and all others fully. I think it’s important to realize that just as Jesus was tempted, we too can be tempted. If we think we have arrived at a place where we cannot be tempted, we may fail to humble ourselves and receive the grace that He is freely offering.

I don’t say this in judgement of this pastor. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I share all this as a reminder to myself and to anyone who reads this, when tempted, humble yourself and receive His grace, His power to meet and overcome all temptation.

One final thing, Pastor Joseph Prince says that when facing addictions and reoccurring sins in our lives, to remind ourselves  out loud as often as needed, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ.” In the face of addictions and failings, it takes humility to press through shame and guilt to say what God says about us. This is an act of faith. It is by faith that it might be by grace. We humble ourselves with an act of faith and receive the grace that sets us free. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:6-7, NLT

I Believe

What just happened? I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to feel. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m numb.

No worries. These are not thoughts and feelings that I am experiencing now, but there was a time that I felt this way. After years of hoping and dreaming my dreams seemed to be finally coming true. Then things took a turn, a turn in the opposite direction. I was left devastated. 

I have always been a person with a strong belief system, especially concerning the Word of God. Yet, here I was confused, disappointed, and broken-hearted. Add to that some very strong medications that I was taking for medical treatment, I was not in a good place. I didn’t know what I believed any longer. The disappointment was too much. The pain was too much. I went numb.

I don’t know how to describe this other than to say it hurt to talk, so I didn’t. I was silent for days. Then slowly I began to climb out of the pit, but still I wasn’t talking much. I wasn’t saying anything about what I believed, and that was highly unusual for me.

A slight uneasiness started to creep into my heart. I felt like I wasn’t trusting God and that I was disappointing Him because I wasn’t sure what I believed any longer. I was going through a crisis of faith.

I finally ventured out of the house to attend a small ladies gathering at my church. Worship started. I went through the motions. I felt nothing.

The song we were singing was Nothing Is Impossible by Planetshakers. I was singing, but still numb. Then I heard the words coming from my mouth, “I believe, I believe/I believe, I believe in You.” Suddenly the words were not just coming from my mouth anymore. They were coming from my heart.

I was still hurting. I was still recovering. I still wasn’t sure what I believed. However, there was one thing I did know, no matter what I still believed in God. I realized that you can’t be afraid of disappointing someone you don’t believe in. I believed in Him and that would never, ever, ever change.

 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

 I believe in You!!!

How Beautiful

Have I ever mentioned that I almost always have a song going in my head? Today I wanted to post the lyrics from one of the songs that has been playing in my mind for the last few days. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

How Beautiful by Twila Paris

How beautiful the hands that served
The wine and the bread and the sons of the earth
How beautiful the feet that walked
The long dusty roads and the hill to the cross

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

How beautiful the heart that bled
That took all my sin and bore it instead
How beautiful the tender eyes
That chose to forgive and never despise

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

And as He laid down His life
We offer this sacrifice
That we will live just as he died
Willing to pay the price
Willing to pay the price

How beautiful the radiant bride
Who waits for her groom with His light in her eyes
How beautiful when humble hearts give
The fruit of pure lives so that others may live

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

How beautiful the feet that bring
The sound of good news and the love of the King
How beautiful the hands that serve
The wine and the bread and the sons of the earth

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

There are some very ugly things to see in the world. I never watch the news, but I would read it on-line so I could pick and choose what I saw and read. Now just seeing the headlines can be disturbing. Violent or inappropriate images surround us. But when we look at each other we can see beauty, because we can see Him. How beautiful, the Body of Christ.