Friday, December 30, 2011

The heart…….core of your being……

“Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do,
and I will obey you faithfully;
teach me to serve you with complete devotion”.    Ps 86:11  GNT

When we use the word "heart" we are usually referring to that very important organ in our chest cavity which pumps blood throughout our body.

The Bible uses the word "heart" many times but rarely uses it of the physical organ.

The term "HEART" in the Bible usually refers to the central core of a man, the inner person. The "heart" is the way to speak of the WHOLE person.  When the Bible speaks of someone's heart, it is speaking of the inner person.  The heart refers to the whole person, including the person’s mind, will, emotions, etc.

The physical organ which we call the heart is vitally important. We cannot live without it, and if it stops beating we will die.  Heart disease is a serious killer of men and women.  So also the inner "heart" of man is of utmost importance.  All that we do and think and feel flows out of the heart.  It is the center of our inner being.

The heart is the center of man's thinking: "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).  As I think, so I am.  The clothes we put on are not who we are.  What we do for a living does not make us who we are. We are who we are in our mind and in our heart. Our physical body is not who we are; it is just the house we live in.

“…….the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Sam. 16:7).

People look on the outside, but God looks on the heart, on the inside.  God is not looking at the physical organ, but at the inner person. God sees what the person is like on the inside.

“Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23).

The heart is the core of your being.  The heart is the key to a person's life.  Keep your heart more than all the other things you keep.  Regard it as the very citadel (fortified place, stronghold) of your soul.  Out of the heart are the issues, the springs, the outgoings of life.  The heart is the source.  The heart is the substance.  The heart is where decisions are made.  Everything you express comes out of the heart.  All the affections and feelings, good or bad, are in the heart.

Man's sinfulness comes from the center of his being.  “For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.  All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you” (Mark 7:21-23 NLT).

The heart refers to the person inside and reveals how they speak and act.

"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).  

Only God has a cure for the sinful heart of man, and that cure was made possible by the blood of Jesus.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I am told that the greatest of all deceptions is self-deception.    God will not allow any of His disciples the privilege of self-deception forever.   Sooner or later He will force the mask off and let us see ourselves as we really are.   He is the great mask remover.

I remember the story of Naaman and Elisha but do I remember Gehazi?  He is just as much a part of the story as the other two (II Kings 5).   Naaman, the Syrian leper, came to Elisha to be cured.   Elisha told him to dip seven times in the Jordan River, which he did, and his flesh became as the flesh of a child.

He wanted to reward Elisha for his cure, but Elisha refused.   Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, ran after Naaman and asked for the silver and clothing that had been refused.   Elisha rebuked Gehazi for his disobedience and he became, as Naaman had been, leprous.

The tragedy of Gehazi was that he never recognized he was first a leper in heart.   He assumed that because his environment was right, he was right.

Elisha was always before him, the prophetic school around him, and the service of the Lord always by his side.   With such surroundings, who could possibly be ungodly?

The truth is, with such surroundings it is easier to be self-deceived!   Self-deception always works on the principle that God is as blind as people are; we think that because they do not see the truth, He does not see either.

However, Gehazi reminds me that God sees all too well, and sooner or later people will see what He has been seeing all along.

What is God telling me here?   I must root out inward leprosy lest God make it painfully public.   He will help me do it, for what I voluntarily expose to Him, He will never expose to the world (I John 1:9).

   Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says”.      James 1:22 NIV

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

God Separates ………..

“Don't become partners with those who reject God.  How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong?  That's not partnership; that's war.  Is light best friends with dark?  Does Christ go strolling with the Devil?  Do trust and mistrust hold hands?  Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God's holy Temple?  But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way:

"I'll live in them, move into them;
I'll be their God and they'll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
leave it for good," says God.
"Don't link up with those who will pollute you.
I want you all for myself.
I'll be a Father to you;
you'll be sons and daughters to me."
The Word of the Master, God.”   II Cor. 6:14-18 Message Bible

When I first became a Christian I was taught that I must be “separate,” that is, I must cut all ties with sinful ways and worldly associations.   On the strength of Paul’s admonition, that is a necessary thing to do. (II Cor. 6:14-18)

But I soon discovered that God did some “separating” of His own, a separation from my own brothers and sisters in Christ.   Of Joseph it was said that he was “separated from his brethren” (Deut. 33:16).   That separation took place when God determined that Joseph was to be the “prince” of the family, and it was affected when his brothers sold him as a slave into Egypt.   The man separated by God was then separated from his family and all for an important reason.

Joseph’s separation from his family was necessary in order to make possible his rise to the Egyptian throne, which made possible the cradling and growing of the infant nation of Israel.  Unless Joseph had been “separated,” Israel would have been destroyed by powerful enemies.

Immediately after his conversion, Paul “conferred not with flesh and blood” but went into the desert of Arabia, separated from his brothers.   This was another of God’s separations and it rendered Paul unspoiled to be a fresh, open messenger to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:15-17).

I am to separate myself from sin; the responsibility is mine alone.  But only God can separate me from my “brothers,” a separation that is designed to create a special messenger, a special voice, to communicate His message in a given and sometimes crucial situation.  If God separates me, I must accept it without question, knowing that separation from my family, friends and job is a transitory phase of my ministry for God that always results in “good,” both for me and others (Gen. 50:20).

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left”.  Matt. 25:31-33 NLT

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Spiritual Inheritance…….

They do not believe, because their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world.  He keeps them from seeing the light shining on them, the light that comes from the Good News about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God”.  II Cor. 4:4  GNT

God moves in certain ways and gives us certain manifestations of His glory.  Instead of rejoicing in that and getting ready for the next aspect of glory, we like to stop and camp by the “glory that was.”  We call this TRADITION.

We are creatures of habit and try to keep doing things our way.

How do we move from “glory to glory”?

Repentance ----- when we change our mind and habits and become determined to surrender our will to Jesus.

 The people of Israel could not see their hardness of heart because of the veil over their minds.

 It is a blessing to see what is wrong with our character, our families, and our relationships so that the healing and restoration of God can be receive and applied.

After repentance comes obedience.

Obedience is a change in our actions.

We must ask God to give us a new attitude of gratitude, cheerfulness, and the willingness to change.

An attitude change requires a change in feelings.   Many times as we are in the process of God transforming us, our feelings get hurt because of disappointments and abusive words.

Forgiveness---- is often needed to change our feelings.

 When our forgiveness changes our situations, our minds become renewed to the perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us,  “…. we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are begin transformed into the same image from glory to gory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Our desire to change is something that pleases the Lord.

Change Brings Forth a Greater Measure of Our Spiritual Inheritance.

Since change is an act of obedience, we reap blessing upon blessing when we respond to God in obedience.

God is changing us from glory to glory—from repentance to rapture!

The greatest thing Jesus can say to you when you enter into eternity is "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Monday, December 26, 2011

…..He is still workin on me…….

“……..The one who has faith can do all things.”   Mark 9:23 NLV

Jesus declared, “…..with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26)     

Jesus also promised, “….Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mk. 9:23)

Paul’s words are filled with hope – “And we..…are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory…” (II Cor. 3:18)

Let us not give up hope, but continue to believe that transformation is possible.

It is focusing on the Lord and yielding to His will and ways that leads to transformation.

Bringing the Lord into every part of our lives leads to transformation.

The big question for us is:   How do we do this?

How do we allow the Lord to transform us into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, while at the same time make every effort to do our part?

 I would suggest that our part includes practicing the spiritual disciplines: such as prayer, worship, Bible study and meditation.

 Nothing can take the place of the Word of God in our lives which then becomes the sword of the Spirit in our hand.

1 Peter 2:2-3 says, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Let’s be encouraged by the fact that the Lord will bring transformation into our lives through the Holy Spirit, as we do our part to cooperate with the Lord.

Let’s not be discouraged or give up hope, because we know that transformation is possible, and is a process – it takes time.

Let us focus on the person of transformation, the Lord Jesus Himself and let us allow the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God to do its’ work within us.

How great it is to be a child of God; a disciple of Jesus Christ!

How great it is to experience God’s transformation with ever-increasing glory.

Together we can say, “I’m not all that I can be, or want to be, or will be; but by the grace of God, I’m not what I use to be.”

We used to sing a great children’s song that goes like this: “He’s still workin’ on me, to make me what I ought to be. It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.  How loving and patient He must be, cause He’s still workin’ on me.”

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Transformed into His likeness…… Part II

“….so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him”.            II Cor. 3:18  MSG Bible

None of us have ever been given an assignment quite like the one Moses received, but we have been called to follow the Lord and to represent Him in this world.  At times, this task becomes difficult and discouraging, and we need something from the Lord.  We may be asked to do something we cannot do on our own and we need something that will recharge our spiritual batteries and that will rekindle the old flames of excitement and passion for the Lord.  We refer to that something as revival.  We pray for God to send revival and all we are really asking is for that which Moses prayed: “Show me Thy glory!”

II Cor. 3 verse 18 reads: “…. we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.
This verse is the climax of the chapter and presents truth that is so exciting and marvelous.

It declares that all of us, Christians, are privileged to share in possessing and radiating the glory of the Lord through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Under the Old Covenant, only Moses ascended the mountain and had fellowship with God; but under the new covenant, all believers have the privilege of communion with the Lord.

We are participants in the glory of God and are transformed into His likeness by the Holy Spirit.
As we look into God’s Word and see God’s Son, the Holy Spirit transforms us into the very likeness of God.

Paul declared: “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart”. (2 Cor. 4:1)
When we understand that our lives and ministries involve the glory of God, how could we quit or give up hope?

 Paul declared: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

No matter how long we have been a Christian, whether a short time or a long time, we are a new creation.
As a new creation, we are a member of the family of God, and we have received the Spirit of God, and God is for us.

Ultimately, there is nothing we cannot overcome and become, because we like Paul can say, “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

None of that means that transformation is going to be easy or quick, because Satan is working against us, and sometimes we also work against what God is trying to do in us and for us.

But no matter how frustrated we might be, or how much we may have failed to experience transformation in the past, the possibility remains in the present and the future.

God’s promises always remain – including “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Transformed into His likeness……

“….so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.            II Cor. 3:18  MSG Bible

In 2 Cor. 3:18, Paul tells us that all who believe in Jesus - all who see Him as Lord, Savior--- are moving in a wonderful direction:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

Paul tells us: As we fix our eyes on Jesus, as we look in His face, as we see who He is through His Word, He transforms us “into the same image” – into Christ-likeness – “from one degree of glory to another.”  This last phrase is, literally, “from glory to glory”.

We look at His glory, His characteristics, His perfections – and He changes us into His likeness. We receive that glory.  We initially become like Him and then we become more like Him; from glory to glory.

Paul refers to this same process in Philippians 1:6: “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

God begins His good work by enabling us to see Jesus.  We respond with wonder, love, and praise, acknowledging our sin and His perfections. We keep seeing Him, and He changes us from glory to glory, completing His work of perfecting us.

When will this work be complete?    Paul tells us: “At the day of Jesus Christ”.  When is that?

The Day when Jesus returns as King of kings and Lord of lords. That day is described in Rev. 19, and the last half of chapter 20.  That will be the Day when the kingdom of this world becomes the Kingdom of our God.  That is the day we look forward to as the beginning of eternity, in new bodies, seeing more and more of His inexhaustible and infinite greatness and glory.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Transformed from Glory to Glory…….

“…….so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him”.            
II Cor. 3:18  MSG Bible

Transfiguration is another strange churchy word that I dare you to use in regular conversation. 

‘Transfiguration’ is sort of like ‘transformation’ but ‘transfiguration’ focuses on appearance.  So when Jesus appeared in dazzling white we say He was “transfigured” — dramatically changed in appearance.  ‘Transfiguration’ can also signal a change that glorifies or exalts somebody.

 In Exodus Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand.  Aaron and all the Israelites were really freaked out because Moses’ face was shining since he had been speaking with God. 

Now they didn’t have sunglasses back then, so Aaron asked Moses to put a veil over his face so they could talk without being blinded. 

So when Moses went up Mount Sinai to talk with God, he took the veil off.  And when he came back down again to talk with Aaron and the Israelites, he put the veil on again, at least until the whole shiny thing wore off.

Have you ever walk outside on a winter morning and been overwhelmed by the sun’s rays reflecting off the new snow?  It can seem like the whole of creation is reflecting the glory and beauty of God. 

Maybe that’s what happened to Moses after he spoke with God.  The glory of God is so strong that it was reflected in Moses’ very being, like the snow glistening in the sun.  But, after a time, Moses didn’t need the veil any more.   The transfiguration wore off.

That’s how life works, I guess.  If we don’t watch it, we can lose our shine. There’s no doubt we, like Moses, need times to recharge our souls, times of encounter with God and God’s people, so that we reflect God’s light for us.  After too long without prayer or worship, too long away from a community of faith, our countenance can begin to dull a bit.

Our shine will change for certain.  But rather than looking at this as a problem, let’s welcome the challenge. We said that the word, “transfiguration” is pretty close to “transformation.”  They both mean a type of change.

Like it or not life is transformed every minute of every day.  But “transfiguration” points to a change in appearance as well.  This means a change in how we see and in how we are seen.

So how do you see the world?

How has the world been transfigured as a result of Jesus Christ?   

In some way large or small, how do you reflect the shine that God gives you?

Maybe it’s helpful to be reminded that though we can grow weary, though we grow dim, the One whose shining glory we reflect is still calling us to spread the word that Jesus is God’s Son; that we are transfigured people because of that good news.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Changed from Glory to Glory……. Con’t

“All of us, with no covering on our faces, show the shining-greatness of the Lord as in a mirror.  All the time we are being changed to look like Him, with more and more of His shining-greatness.  This change is from the Lord Who is the Spirit”.      II Cor. 3:18  NLV

 God is in the process of changing us into His image.  Because He is so different from us, it takes us years to recognize all that needs to change within us to make us more like Him.

 Pressure brings change.  That is why He allows us to go through pressure and difficult circumstances.

Seasons change; times change; nations change; music styles change; technology changes; our cultures change.   

 Although God never changes, He is constantly moving His Church toward perfection from “glory to glory.”

We must be led by the Holy Spirit and sense when He is moving us on to the next level from “faith to faith” and from “glory to glory.”

When we gaze intently into the Word of God, we see the reflection of Jesus Christ. The Bible mirrors Jesus, showing Him to us in His glory and splendor. Without that revelation in the mirror of His Word, we cannot fully know Him or be changed into His likeness.

Through His Word, God wants to show you what you are by nature and what you can be by grace.  As you look in the Word, you become like what you look at.  He wants to make you like the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible serves two important purposes: showing us the condition we are in and revealing who Jesus Christ really is—His transcendent glory and splendor.  Both are vital to our Christian walk.

The Christian life is a life of transformation and change.  Is this true in your life or are you stuck in a rut trying to get out?

 Our life is a life of change in which each stage of our walk with God involves constant moving change, precept upon precept, line upon line.  Active response to God’s will involves constant change.  His will is progressive by nature, meaning we must constantly adapt to the changes in our lives where the will of God is leading us.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Changed from Glory to Glory……

“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.  And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image”.   II Cor. 3:18  NLT

As you know, transformation is a big hit on TV these days.
 Our present love affair with reality shows has led to many programs that have to do with changing.
There are home makeover programs that transform ugly rooms and deteriorating homes into something that could be featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
There are programs like the Biggest Loser that transform men and women from obesity to healthy.
This is all well and good, but these transformations are external.

God is also in the transformation business, but the changes that God wants to bring into our lives do not focus on externals.
The makeovers that God is interested in bringing about have to do with our hearts, and our character.
Transformation is an inward renewal and reshaping of the mind in which a Christian’s inner person is changed to be like Jesus Christ.  

Paul told the Roman believers, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world, but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

As our Christian life progresses, we should gradually notice that our thought life is being changed from worldliness to Christ-likeness.  Transformation does not happen overnight. 

Christians are transformed to Christ’s image gradually as they spend time in an intimate relationship with Him.  Eventually, they will begin to be more like Jesus.

As Christians we are to act like Jesus who calls us to be loving, kind, and
merciful as He was and is.  We have a special responsibility to act as representatives of Christ.

Can we conform to God and still hang on to old habits?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Change can be an adventure…….

“You will help me, because I do what is right;
you will keep me in your presence forever”.   Ps.41:12 GNT

Fear of the unknown is the most common reason people resist change.

Most people like to stick with what they know, even if it isn’t in their best interest. They do so, because it is something in this chaotic world that they can ’depend’ on being a certain way. They feel like what they have known, they understand, and can trust to remain a certain way.  It becomes kind of a ’false security’.  They become attached to it, and would rather suffer through something not in their best interest, that they can count on, than take a chance with the unknown.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Change involves risk, courage, and a belief that you'll be ok, no matter what.

You have to be willing to take action, to move out of your comfort zone and to face fear to increase your courage and self confidence in a way that stays with you.  You have to be willing to take the punch and risk some emotional pain for a while.

Many times you will feel great as you just move over that invisible barrier and face your fear. You may not even get the result you wanted but still feel great about yourself because you just dared to face that fear or take some action.

The truth is - people love change!   People change their clothes, they change their hairstyle, they change their hair color, they change jobs, they change offices, they change marriage partners, they re-arrange their furniture, they travel to new places and they change automobiles.

Our physical bodies are constantly changing.

Our environment is constantly changing.

Our minds are constantly changing.

Our internal world and our attitudes are changing as we cope with the external changes all around us.

Change - that "thing" that everyone is supposedly afraid of - is a normal, natural part of our life.  We cannot get away from it.

So, given that constant change is a reality we must face, how can we learn to see it as a positive thing?

It's simple - we must re-adjust our viewpoint, change our mind about the nature of change and our place in it.  Instead of fighting a change that appears in front of us, we can learn to see it as a new adventure.  Then, we can start learning about and enjoying the new adventure, instead of wasting our time and energy looking back at something that is no longer real.

When you come humbly before God honestly seeking Him in prayer, confessing your sins and asking for His mercy and forgiveness, we are told He will lovingly hear your prayers, forgive you immediately, and remember your sins no more.

He promises to reward those who diligently seek Him. Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of the Father reminding Him that He has already taken the punishment for all of our sins.  The rewards for our faith and good works may not be found in this life, but there is the promise of a crown, with great comfort, rest, and peace waiting for us in His Kingdom.

 So, as you cling to the hope and promises of God to help you and strengthen you through the fierce and bitter storms found in this life, remember . . . God’s Promise is for you!!!

“……you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”   John 8:32 NKJV

Friday, December 16, 2011

Defensive actions against change…….. Conclusion

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy”.   Prov. 28:13 NIV

In God’s eyes there is nobody in this world who is any better than you, or whom He loves any more than you.  No matter what pain, suffering, or distress you are going through, God knows and He cares.  God is in control.  Trust in Him!

Many people discover early in childhood that a debilitation or “handicap” exempts them from complete responsibility for their actions.   Most are unaware how feeling sorry for oneself fuels self-exemption, because the very nature of self-pity is to blind.   They may even learn to create problems for themselves which cause others to become more tolerant and understanding of their misbehavior.

More of our common defensive actions:

Sickness:   Some people find such solace in the tolerance shown them during an illness that they convince themselves that they are sick most of the time.   Rather than focus on their responsibility as presented by the confronter, they focus on the “hurt” caused by those who demand “too” much of them.   People like this are often consumed with bitterness and fall victim to self-pity and laziness.

Fatigue, hunger, hormones, and irritability:    Many people justify certain behavior when they deem themselves physically exhausted or emotionally distressed.   They feel that their “condition” exempts them from complete responsibility, godliness and they refuse to listen to correction.

Rejection:  Some people, because of social awkwardness, demonstrate a lack of social tact or other offensive behavior, so encounter rejection even from fellow believers.   Such rejection can fuel self-pity, which causes these individuals to exempt themselves from responsibility for their actions.   

Ignoring is a firm, resistant denial of what is being said.    The listener in this case refuses to hear or consider anything contrary to their beliefs or practices.   Either their mind is made up or their heart is so hardened that they cannot even begin to consider what is offered to them.

Acknowledging the validity of what is said will require them to change and they do not want to.   When confronted they will act as if they did not hear what was said.   Subconsciously, they may agree with the confronter, but they will not admit it lest they feel guilt.

Self-pity is feeling sorry for one’s self and excuses one from personal responsibility by concentrating attention on one’s “oppressed” and “victimized” condition.     Those using self-pity consume themselves with the hurt from “unfair” treatment they have received.  

Not uncommonly, they are bitter and unforgiving towards those they hold responsible.  

Self-pity can be a strong factor in denial, guilt projection, and emotional manipulation.    It can also be the motivating factor behind “low self-esteem”.

As I stated at the beginning change is uncomfortable.  Sometimes it’s physically painful, but it is always mentally and emotionally painful, in the form of discipline, sacrifice, uncertainty and fear ……

Most people are scared of the new, unknown and unfamiliar.  They prefer to stay in that womb of comfort.  When the going gets tough; when a little more effort is needed, when things get hard, they always pull back into safety. 

The Bible says God cannot lie and that God will never change.  This means all of the promises in the Bible are true and will always be true.  God wants us to know we don’t have to face the pain and sorrows of this life alone. 

Many will have a hard time believing God’s promises apply to them because they feel those promises of hope must be for somebody else . . . someone who is better, or more righteous in God’s eyes.  

It is the shed blood of Jesus that washes us clean from all sin and once we accept Jesus as our Lord and invite Him into our hearts, we are all considered equal in God’s sight, for Christ’s Spirit then dwells in us, and through Jesus we now have access to the throne of God.

Jesus will lead you step by step, moment by moment, and day by day through this life.  It won’t feel easy and the pain is real, but He will bring a peace that is beyond all understanding.

“He cared for them with a true heart
and led them with skillful hands”.   Psalms 78:72 NLT

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Defensive actions against change…….. continued

“But I am not like that; I live with integrity.
So redeem me and show me mercy.”    Psalms 26:11  NLT

Jesus waits for us to ask Him into our lives to help, to strengthen, to comfort, and to heal.  He lovingly wraps His arms around the lonely and the brokenhearted. Jesus will never cast away or turn away any man or woman that willingly comes to Him, regardless of how young or old, or how good or bad.  Any and all who come to Him with a sincere and humbled heart are welcomed with open arms.

More of our common defensive actions:

Intimidation:  When a person explodes into a rage they sometimes can unnerve and distract the confronter.  Their intensely displayed emotion can redirect the attention back to the confronter by challenging their security and confidence.  An unwary confronter, who becomes the target of the listener’s sudden rage, may fear the loss of the listener’s approval, and therefore compromise the exercise of their authority.   A rage may also intimidate those who simply dislike conflict or those who mistakenly think they have pushed the listener to the point of exasperation.   Angry responses can be especially effective when mixed with profanity and accusation.

Patronization:  Because some people hate tension or conflict they become agreeable to everything said by the confronter.   Although they do not believe what they are agreeing to, they are accommodating to appease the confronter, thereby diffusing the tension, and bringing to a close the time of confrontation.   However, they often leave angry and feeling unjustly accused or manipulated.

False humility in the midst of confrontation is used to acknowledge their guilt, but overstate it with the intent of evoking compassion and mercy in the confronter.   Their self depreciation may even cause the confronter to minimize their sin, saying something like, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.   You are not that bad.”

Accusation is employing “guilt projection.”   A person will find fault with his confronters.   If he can get them on the defensive by pointing out their failures he will take the heat off himself.   He may try to make the confronter feel guilty for hurting his feelings, or criticize the confronter.   If they are successful with this action they can get the subject changed and evoke an apology from the confronter.

Flattery is a charm technique used to stroke the confronter’s ego with the intent of getting them more concerned about themselves rather than him.  

Embarrassment:  By making a scene in public may successfully change the focus of a conversation.   This is commonly done with an emotional outburst involving anger, profanity, crying or a raised voice.

Jesus now prepares our place in Heaven where there will be no fear, no worries, no pain, no heartbreak, and no tears.  He will see you through these difficult times. Trust in Him ... and with open arms and tears of joy He will be there to welcome us into His Kingdom . . . It’s God’s Promise!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Defensive actions against change……..

“Protect me and save me;
keep me from defeat.
I come to you for safety.
 May my goodness and honesty preserve me,
because I trust in you.”    Psalms 25:20-21  GNT

Many people have a negative association with change, as if pain is necessary in order to allow us to change.

The Holy Spirit will help us change when we need to change, He will help us be strong when we need to be strong, and He will be there to help and comfort us through each of life’s battles . . . if we ask Him.

It is a wise man who recognizes his human weakness and so welcomes any exposure of his sins.  That man will grow in wisdom, knowledge, and godliness.  

May all who read these posts have the grace to identify and forsake the defensive attitudes that could be used to avoid taking responsibility for change.

Here are some more of our common defensive actions:

Denial is a willful refusal to even consider one’s contribution to a problem or to acknowledge there is a problem.  It is a dangerous form of self-deceit which fosters lying. 

Guilt projection means disavowing personal responsibility by casting the blame onto someone or something else.  Those who hold others responsible for their own mistakes and failures may have the “everyone owes me” mentality.  Those who feel the world is in debt to them may employ some method of “emotional manipulation” to make others feel guilty or responsible for their difficult situation.   They may even have the audacity to become angry at those who fail to take adequate responsibility for them and are often thoroughly unappreciative for favors given them.

Emotional manipulation is an individual’s attempt to control the confronter by manipulating their vulnerable emotions and insecurities.

They withdraw by retreating into themselves or giving off the “silent treatment,” the individual will attempt to punish and manipulate the confronter with guilt.   Sulking and pouting are plain attempts to manipulate others and can serve to change the direction of a conversation.

They will use charm to resort to playing up their “attractiveness” to soften their confronter’s anger or intensity.    This may include premeditated actions such as enhancing one’s appearance, i.e.: clothes, hair, changing their tone to soft spoken, seduction, flirtations, laughing when a person is not funny, and using charm for their own personal gain, flattery and emotional security.  

Whining is a method many people have learned to manipulate others by drawing them in emotionally with stories about their difficult life. What sounds like a sobering story of pain and misfortune to a compassionate listener, can be nothing more than a disguised appeal for pity.   Someone who has mastered this method of manipulation can cause a confronter to soften up on the confrontation or keep the subject away from the real issues.

Emotional outbursts: By an intense outburst of crying a skilled manipulator can redirect a conversation in two ways:  

    Tears can evoke compassion and halt further confrontation.   Attention then                              becomes focused on the hurt and “to-be-pitied” condition of the crier.  The confronter can even be manipulated into an apology when this technique is used “properly”.

    Tears can fool the “conviction-resistors” themselves.   They become so preoccupied with their “distress” that they will no longer focus on what has been said.   For many this form of self pity is a standard defense act which consistently prevents them from accepting the confrontation of others.

Departure is an attempt to play on the confronter’s insecurities and fear of hurting the emotionally fragile and they will suddenly storm out of a conversation.  They are playing games, “If you really love me you will follow,” or possibly, “You have really done it now----I am hurt!”  If successful, they can actually evoke an apology from the confronter.

 Jesus is our Hope . . . Although there are times we may feel alone and abandoned; He will “never forsake you or leave you”.  The Bible says the true child of God will find suffering in this life.   Each of us will have our faith tested.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Change ………….. stepping out of our comfort zone……

“Those who refuse discipline
despise themselves,
but those who listen to correction
gain understanding.”    Prov. 15:32 CEB

Over the next few days I will be writing about some of the ways we avoid or resist change.  It is understandable that change can cause pain but changing is a natural process which enables us to grow, and growing is a completely natural process that we cannot stop or reverse.

Change is hard, it hurts and it is healthy.  Change reminds us that we are not in control, that we are moving out of our comfort zone and it can lead to new and better circumstances.   In these changing times remember that God is our steady refuge, His love for us will never change and God's Word will never change.   God's plan for us also has NOT changed.

Change is all about stepping outside of our comfort zone and that means embracing a little pain along the way.

Most people are scared of the new, unknown and unfamiliar.  They prefer to stay in that womb of comfort.  When the going gets tough; when a little more effort is needed, when things get hard, they always pull back into safety.  But extraordinary people do the opposite.  They know they have to get out of the comfort zone and into new territory or they will become stagnate and die.

Change is uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s physically painful, but it is always mentally and emotionally painful, in the form of discipline, sacrifice, uncertainty and fear ……

Contrary to popular belief recent research reveals that people do not naturally resist change.   What people resist is the pain of the change.

In any life situation where loss and letting go are necessary, grieving inevitably has to take place for new bonding to be possible. 

In a world where change has become a way of life, successful change is dependent on one key condition - feeling secure.   This is one of the reasons many people stay in a job they dislike or in difficult relationships.   Even though things may be bad and they know change is necessary they are unwilling to take the step due to fear of the loss of their security base from where they feel safe and their needs are provided.

Perhaps you have realized that you are repeating similar experiences over and over again.  This means you have already created a habit that associates changes with pain and unhappiness.  Your unconscious mind is a very fast learner and if you have experienced unhappiness and pain once when things were changing in your life, it will happen over and over again until you stop the pattern.   Awareness of the repeated pattern helps you to recognize where you are at and what you really want in life.

Sadly, many believers desire godliness, but are spiritually crippled by habitual defensiveness to change.

It is a wise man who recognizes his human weakness and so welcomes any exposure of his sins.    That man will grow in wisdom, knowledge, and godliness.  

May all who read these posts have the grace to identify and forsake the defensive attitudes that could be used to avoid taking responsibility for change.

Listed below are some of our common defensive actions:

Rationalization helps us avoid taking full responsibility for something one has done by means of excuse and self-justification.   The seriousness of personal sin is down-played, so repentance is incomplete or non-existent.     Innocence requires NO defense.  Those with defiled consciences are often quick to defend themselves.

Avoidance means staying away from or leaving individuals who may confront them about their behavior, i.e.:  working late, missing counseling appointments, changing churches, walking out of conversations when conviction gets too great, etc.

“Those who walk in innocence
walk with confidence,
but those on crooked paths
will be found out.”    Prov. 10:9  CEB

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Truth makes us Free!

“If you hide your sins, you will not succeed.
If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy.”  Prov. 28:13 NCV

Many people truly desire to walk in truth and be free from their hidden sins.   Sadly, most do not because they are afraid of what is hiding inside or they are too prideful to admit wrong or they do not want to change.

The pain of change can mean a loss, a move, a true heart confession of disobedience or admitting a life of denial.

People will say continually, “I’d like to change this or that in my life,” but they never seem to do it.  Why?   The pain of being the same seems less than the pain of changing.   

One way or another it’s going to hurt to make adjustments in our lives.  That’s the bad news.   The good news is that we can choose the pain we endure.   We have two options: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

When Adam first sinned he tried to hide his guilt and blamed God for giving him the woman who led him into sin.   As Adam’s descendants, we have inherited from him that same tendency----we avoid personal responsibility for misbehavior and hide our guilt behind defense mechanisms.

 Until we see how we deny our responsibility in personal problems and our contributions to troubled relationships, we will continue to deceive ourselves about ourselves and will remain unchanged.  We will not find victory in our pursuit of holiness, nor will we walk in the power that comes with a clear conscience before God.

As Proverbs 28:13 tells us, the confession of our sins will allow us to enjoy God’s mercy, the concealment of our sins will bring us spiritual and emotional bankruptcy.

We, just like Adam, resist taking responsibility for our actions because we do not want to believe evil of ourselves.   Either our self-esteem is threatened or we fear judgment from God or others.

Whatever, the reason, when others confront us we resist with anger and denial.   We say we want to become godlier and grow into the image of Jesus, but our resistance to change says otherwise.

“Change will come when the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of change.”     (Author unknown)

“Change happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go.”   Spencer Johnson

“……… is your faith that has healed you.  Go home in peace, and be free from your trouble.”  Mark 5:34 (Phillips)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Heart to Heart relationship with Jesus………

“I will behave wisely in a perfect way.
Oh, when will You come to me?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”  Psalms 101:2  NKJV

The first step to an authentic life with Jesus is to get real.   We must be honest about our weaknesses, struggles, addictions, and ultimately, our sins, and we must come into the light of Christ. 

If we hope to bring authentic change to our family, friends, neighborhood, and city our hearts must first change.   Until we take responsibility for our self and our own actions, we will not find lasting freedom and victory.

The only group of people that Jesus seemed to have hard words for were the religious hypocrites of His day.   God did not and does not appreciate phonies who hide behind His name or some religious fa├žade.

Many times people put on masks and hide behind a smile as they come to corporate worship.   Our churches should be a safe place for people to be encouraged and to find healing, hope and victory.  

However, we must be willing to get real and be truthful if we ever want to have a true relationship with Jesus and a positive influence on their world.

We have, at times, become our own worst enemy.   God knows our heart and what is at the center!  He sees the secrets, the hidden motives, private agendas and selfish desires.  

It is time to be truthful with ourselves and take responsibility for who we are.

“From the inside, out of the heart of men come bad thoughts, sex sins of a married person, sex sins of a person not married, killing other people, stealing, wanting something that belongs to someone else, doing wrong, lying, having a desire for sex sins, having a mind that is always looking for sin, speaking against God, thinking you are better than you are and doing foolish things.   All these bad things come from the inside and make the man sinful.”    Mark 7:21-23  NLV

True heart knowledge is the first and foremost thing that makes us free.   But this truth is not some grand theological achievement to which we aspire; rather, it is the truth that must be applied personally, starting with the heart.

A heart is the essence of a human being.   It comprises of who we really are and who we really want to be.

“Now the message that we have heard from his Son and announce is this: God is light, and there is no darkness at all in him.  If, then, we say that we have fellowship with him, yet at the same time live in the darkness, we are lying both in our words and in our actions.   But if we live in the light—just as he is in the light—then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin.

 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us. But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.   If we say that we have not sinned, we make a liar out of God, and his word is not in us.”                    I John 1:5-10  GNT

Cleanse my heart, O, Lord……

“Have I lied to anyone
or deceived anyone?
 Let God weigh me on the scales of justice,
for he knows my integrity.”    Job 31:5-6 NLT

Al Johnson, convicted of sin, converted to Jesus, went and tried to make things right with the state by confessing his crime.   As it turned out, under a KS statute of limitations, he was set free.   There was no penalty that could legally attach to him for his crime.

David experienced something even better than that.   There is forgiveness, justification, and salvation.

The last step to having a changed heart is cleansing.

David wrote in Psalms 51:7, 9-10 “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.  Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.”

He recognized the filth of his sin and wanted to be cleansed of it.  He knew the inclination of one’s heart to evil.  He was aware that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick”. 

It was not David’s desire, nor God’s intent, to gloss over sin.  It had to GO!

It is not while we indulge, or excuse, or hide sin, but when we have experienced God’s cleansing that we can know the joy of His salvation.

God has a cleanser that never fails: “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Someone once said, “Man cannot cope with guilt alone.  I do not care how many worship services you attend or good deeds you do, your goodness is insufficient.  You cannot be good enough to deserve forgiveness….    Quit trying to quench your own guilt.  You cannot do it.  You need Jesus!”

 “Declare me innocent, O Lord, for I have acted with integrity;
I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
 Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
Test my motives and my heart.”   Psalms 26:1-2 NLT

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Integrity of the heart………

“For I know my wrong-doing, and my sin is always in front of me.   I have sinned against You, and You only.  I have done what is sinful in Your eyes.  You are always right when You speak, and fair when You judge.”   Psalms 51:3-4  NLV

Al Johnson became convicted of sin, was contrite, humbled his heart and decided to forsake his sin and follow Jesus.   When he did, his life changed.   He stopped a lifelong habit of lying and cheating.   After much thought and prayer he confessed his crime. 

His confession made television and newspaper headlines.  Honest acknowledgment of sin is essential in our own lives, too. 

What is another step in having a changed heart?

Confession!   It has two sides:  confessing to oneself by admitting the sin and confessing to God, for sinning against Him.

Along with admission of guilt is a confession of God’s correctness and justice in judging our sins.   David makes no plea for indulgent lenience or permissiveness, and no claim that God is too hard.  

A genuine confession demands a right estimate of sin meaning it is not a mistake, a slip-up or mischief. 

It also demands a right attitude to sin; a loathing, a disgust and disapproval of sin!

This brings us to the cross where we do NOT hide sins, but confess them and trust Jesus to wipe them away.

To confess demands honesty!

“…….I will walk with a heart of integrity
in my own house.
 I won’t set my eyes
on anything worthless.
I hate wrongdoing;
none of that will stick to me.”   Psalms 101:2-3 CEB