Thursday, April 29, 2010

Forgiveness And The Soul

It was the blunder heard 'round the world. Campaigning yesterday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told aides that a lady who asked him hard questions about immigration was a "bigoted woman." He didn't know his microphone was live, or that today's New York Times and other news outlets would give his mistake global coverage. Now the woman he insulted may hold his political career in her hands. What should she do? What should you do when someone hurts you today?

Yesterday we explored Jesus' warning, "I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment" (Matthew 5:22). We learned that the anger Jesus teaches us to reject is not angry emotion (thumos in the Greek) but the decision to continue being angry (orge in the Greek), to choose vengeance rather than forgiveness.

Biblical forgiveness is the decision to pardon. It is not pretending that you were not hurt, or excusing the behavior which hurt you, or trying to forget that the offense happened. To pardon is to choose not to punish, as when a governor pardons a criminal. She does not pretend the crime did not occur, excuse the behavior, or forget the offense. She chooses not to inflict the punishment which the law allows.

As you know, our culture authorizes revenge. If they lie about you, you are justified in lying about them. If they gossip about you, or slander you, or hurt you in another way, you can hurt them in the same way. Jesus teaches just the opposite: choose to pardon those who have hurt you. No matter what they have done to you. How do we handle our anger in this way?

First, act on your anger immediately, before it takes root in your soul: "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold" (Ephesians 4:26-27). Deal with this infection before it spreads. Admit it, and give it to God.

Second, guard your tongue, especially while you are angry: "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" (James 1:26). What we say shows who we are.

Third, choose to pardon, for the sake of those who have hurt you and for the sake of your soul as well. Tim Stafford was right: "I would rather be cheated a hundred times than develop a heart of stone." A wise elderly saint added, "I will never allow another person to ruin my life by making me hate him."

The Didache is the oldest theological document outside the New Testament. It gives us good advice: "Love those that hate you, and you will have no enemy" (1:3). Ask God's help, and it will be yours.

The poet Edwin Markham lost everything when an unscrupulous banker betrayed his business confidence. He hated that man. As a result, he could not write poetry, but doodled circles on paper for hours. Finally he realized he must forgive the man or die. He said aloud, "I forgive him." For the first time in months, words began to flow. Looking at the circles on his paper, he wrote:

He drew a circle that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in.

With whom do you need to start your circle today?
"God Issues"
By Dr. James C. Denison
President, the Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas
April 29, 2010
Topic: forgiveness and the soul

Monday, April 26, 2010

The great mystery

Do you like a good mystery? A book that is so captivating that you can’t put it down or a movie that is so intense, when the unexpected happens it causes you to jump? I think everyone likes a good mystery.
As I walk on this journey called life, it seems that I know what I know about God and my personal relationship with Him, yet He still is a great mystery to me. He is God Almighty, and is far beyond my human understanding. I Corn. 13:12 - Now we see through a glass darkly - face to face ,know in part, but then I shall be known even as I am known. He is able to answer my questions and give me a full explanation of all the whys in my life. He knows already what I am going to say and do. Yet He is not obligated to offer explanations to me on why He does the things He does or why He does not make things work out the way I want them to be. He is Sovereign and Providential. He is Infinite and Almighty. His thinking and ways are perfect. It is a mystery to me. Yet, He makes Himself known to me. He speaks softly and tenderly--through His word and to my heart. I know Him through His son, Jesus - yet- it is like only getting to touch the hem of His garment, even in these precious ways of knowing Him. “ O man what is it that you are mindful of Him?” The vast mystery of God. I am glad I am not expected to fully understand Him only to trust Him. I am glad that He works in my heart, and the difference He has made in my life. He says, “ My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are not your ways.” The more I learn - the more there is to understand. My God, Lord, My Friend, Savior is still a great mystery to me.
Abraham was told by God to look up to the stars and see his descendants. Abraham left his homeland for an unseen promise made by a Mysterious God. My life or your life as simple or complicated as it may seem is full of mystery. Why were we born to a particular family and not another? How and why we meet the people we meet, or that even change the course of our lives. Why do some things resonate so deep in our hearts? Why do we just burst out in song, or are moved to tears? The mystery of God. We experience it in the unexpected mercies of life. The accident that you almost had and missed. Looking back and seeing His protection, presence and loving care. His great love. Daniel 2:22 - He reveals the deep hidden things that He knows. Job 11:7 - Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? John 16:12-Still I have many things to say to you.
Mysterious, Omnipotent, Holy, Omnipresent, Omniscient. Before all things. Holds all things together. His is the everlasting throne. He revealed the mystery that was hidden for ages -- Jesus, who came to live and die and live again, not only in Heaven but in our hearts. We should be like Mary, pondering these things in our hearts. Let our hearts sing with wonder. Believe in the things that you do not see. Trust when you can’t understand. Look for God in all things. Embrace the mysteries of the human heart. Let God surprise you.
Father: as we walk and talk with You and experience all that You are to us, You are still a great mystery to us. Your Holiness, Your Righteousness, You Mercy. Our finite minds cannot capture Your Greatness. We do not always understand Your ways, but we have the great privilege of knowing more about You as we walk with You and You are revealed to us through Your Word. Thank you for allowing us to experience more of You each and every day. Amen
As you continue to walk on your journey of life, take time to ponder the greatest mystery of all - the love of God. The scriptures proclaim it, but we also experience it in the unexpected mercies of life. Have a blessed week.
Janice CR FBC NWA Encourager Coach-Team

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm so desperate

In His word, God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us and that He is always near to the ones that He loves. A friend and I have been meeting and doing a Bible study and we were discussing the nearness of God. What about the presence of God? What things were we doing to experience the presence of God in our lives? Praying, spending time in the word, quiet time at the feet of Jesus ? The question came up --” How badly do we want to experience the presence of God continually in our lives? Not in just the quiet times?” How much do we desire being in the presence of God all the time? I am talking about continually experiencing the presence of God every second of each and every day. Not only mentally knowing that He is present but physically and spiritually knowing it also. I thought about Matthew 7:7 and Revelation 3:20. Both scriptures use the word “ Ask”. Ask -- how simple is that! Why does the obvious escape me sometimes? “ Father, I know that you are near always, but I want more --I want to feel your presence in my life every minute.” I have never asked for that before. Then I remembered a wise woman saying to me, “ God is always a gentleman, He never goes where He is not invited.” Doesn’t God want us to grow deeper into a personal relationship with us? Doesn’t He want to be where we are? In our getting up, quiet times, work, play and family time? Inviting Him in --walking in the light of His presence -- abiding with you. Experiencing the presence of God is the concentration of the soul’s attention on God knowing with your whole being He is with you. When you invite Him to be with you, He comes and He gives of Himself to you. It is there you find the difference of Him watching over you and knowing His presence with you.
This is not an invitation to receive Christ as your Savior, but it is an invitation of seeking intentional intimacy with Him -- asking Him all the time -- not just in the times you schedule with Him on a daily basis that you set apart to spend time with Him. It is every minute of your day and life. I want more -- I want to be in His presence all the time. He stands at the doors of our hearts and desires to have communion and fellowship with us. If you think about it-- Jesus makes every effort to pursue us. Sometimes, why is it that we do not make the same effort. Look at James 4:8, Jeremiah 29:13 and John 14: 15-24. Jesus tells us that if we seek Him with all our hearts we will find Him. He promises His presence to us if we believe. I believe, but I just was not asking for more, I was just being satisfied with the known. I came to this conclusion -- because I have settled for the known, God hears me, He answers my prayer, He supplies all my needs, He is near to the broken hearted , He supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory and so on, I got totally content with this.
Gently, He speaks, “ I have pursued you” I say “Yes I know”. That is when the sorrow floods my soul. “ Father, forgive me, I want more of you, but I have failed to ask you for what I want and need.” Do you want to feel His Holy presence with you all the time-- not just in the set times? He is standing at the door of your heart waiting for you to ask Him to grant you the grace to continue in His presence. He will allow us to know His presence. When we know His presence, everything about our lives , the good, the sorrowful, the bumps in the road can be turned back into praise and worship to the Most High God. He is with us -how could we not rejoice?
Father: you tell us that we can ask. I don’t understand sometimes why the obvious seems to escape us and we don’t ask. Sometimes Father, we don’t even know what it is that we are to ask for. Father, give us more of you. Come and abide with us, we want to know You more, we want to experience your Holy presence in our lives all the time --- not just the times we set apart for you. We are asking this in your Sweet, Sweet Name. Amen
As you walk on this journey of life -- ask God for His sweet presence each and everyday. Have a blessed week.
Janice CR Encourager Coach-Team FBC Rogers

Monday, April 12, 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends

Therefore, let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Romans 14:9. Encouragement. Have you ever had someone that you knew who just encouraged you? How did it make you feel? Encouragement is one of those gifts that you can give away often -- you do not have to go to the store and look for the right shade, something different or unique, it is a gift that is always in fashion, a gift that everyone would love to receive and you could give it with or without a card or fancy wrappings. It is a perfect gift to give anyone. Sometimes you will be the giver and sometimes you will be the receiver. It could come in the form of someone listening to things that are going on in your world, a warm shoulder, a helping hand, someone to lean on and a understanding heart to help with the challenges of life. Being an encourager is like being an extension of God’s hand of support. Some one who will inspire courage, hope and reassure you in the midst of a weary world. An encourager repels negative thoughts and reinforces someone’s self worth. They are the people who say to you, “ yes you can,” when all they can thing of is “ I can’t.“ An encourager is sometimes a mouth piece from God and they don’t even know it.
There are many ways that you are able to encourage others. Have you ever told someone what it is that you like about them? Have you ever been honest and kind? How many times have you listened to what your heart was telling you -- to go and speak to someone ? I bet it was in obedience to that nudging, you were able to say something to someone else that they needed to hear. Don’t worry how the encouragement is received. There are so many people out there who have been hurt, are insecure and do not know how to take praise or encouragement. When you encourage someone, you believe the best for them when they are afraid to believe the best about themselves. When you are an encourager, you have the ability to focus on the good in everyone. What is the first thing that comes out of your mouth when you see someone who is headed in the wrong direction or is having difficulty? Do you immediately talk about their faults, or do you find something about them that would encourage them or discourage them? Some of us have come from backgrounds where there was little encouragement. When someone encouraged us, it was a strange feeling. Someone was actually telling us to keep trying and that we were good. It uplifted our spirits and our burden did not feel so heavy. It gave us confidence that someone saw good in us that we could not see ourselves.
Be an encourager to yourself. Watch how that internal voice talks to you. Compare everything that goes on in your head to what God says about you. It is okay to think about what it is you do good and it is okay to like yourself. Focus on the bigger picture. You are part of God’s plan -- He has called you to a unique work here in this world. Give yourself, time, space and grace. Release all your discouragement to God. Ask Him to help you find purpose in your pain and disappointments. Believe for the best. Focus on the positive. Believe in yourself, and believe in the best of others-- and then take encouragement from God and His word. Then as a hearer and doer of the world, offer encouragement to others as often as you can. Encouragement is like oxygen to the soul-- all you need is a heart full of grace and a spirit generated by love.
Father: You have given us the gift of one another. Let our words be encouraging to each other. Let us be a blessing to one another and not add more to each others burdens. Teach us ways to be inventive in encouraging one another. Amen
As you walk on this journey called life -- find someone to encourage this week. Janice Encourager coach CR-Team FBC Rogers. Have a blessed week.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Love So Amazing

He is God, yet He was the Son. Majestic, Holy, King of King and Lord of Lords. He created us and promised to love us forever. There was just one thing, a glich -- sin. Something that had to be dealt with, if not all of His creation would perish. That ugly mark, that kept us separated from the Father. It was out of His precious love for us -- He did not want to see us die. He knew what had to be done to cover and protect His beloved ones. He could not bear to see them all die. Yet, He knew that we would never be perfect, there would always be some sin that would blemish us. But yet His love for us was so great --that there had to be a way for us to be covered for our sins. Something that would last forever He watches us struggle, fall down, and sees us exactly like we are -- all is laid bare before Him and not hidden. He knew that it would take someone who could be able to bear the weight of all the sin in the world --someone who could cover us completely for all our sins forever. Something of great expense to Him -- the Son that He dearly loved. Love too great to measure. A way to make us accessible to Him. A way for Him to see His son first --standing in front of us covering all our filthiness and ugliness from His sight. The perfect way to have a relationship with Him and a covering and atonement for our sin. Love so amazing--unfathomable love, divine and perfect love.
Yet your Sweet Lord and my Sweet Lord willing came out of His extreme Love for us, in obedience to the Father and his brothers and sisters, to die so that we might live--a death that He did not deserve. To give us a new life and a new identity. I Peter 2:9-You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation--Go’s own special people--that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light.
With His death and resurrection we are free to live life now and eternally. How great a debt was paid for us. It is not about who we are or who we are not, the circumstances of our birth, our economic standing, or what we have done. Some have waited many years to realize what a great price was paid for our lives. What matters is what we do with the fact when we realize what He has done for us. It is about the fact that “ Just as I am I can come.” Anytime.
Eph. 1:11 -- It is in Christ, we find out who we are and who we are living for. Long before we heard of Christ and got our hopes up-- He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living--part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.
( The Message )
Are you thankful for the great gift that He has given you? Do you come to Him daily and thank Him for sending His son and for the gift of salvation and eternal life? Are you investing you time and talents? Are you doing your best--trusting God with your life and all the details? Are you relaxing in His love or are you struggling? Are you enjoying the freedom that you have in Christ? Do you realize and take to heart how special that you are to Him and what a great price was paid for you? My heart can not contain all the love that I feel for Him, and so I say thank you and humbly bow in praise and thanksgiving for all that He has done for me and given me.
Father: We praise you for Your merciful kindness and Your great love. More frightening than the thought of letting go of You is the thought of Your letting go of us, or relinquishing us to consequences of our sin. You could have abandoned us, you could have destroyed us, but instead you led us to repentance. Oh God, may we never take your great love and kindness for us for granted. Thank you loving Father. Amen
As you walk on this journey called life --take time to thank you everyday for the debt that was paid for you, and then walk humbly with the Lord Your God.
Janice Encourager Coach-CR Team FBC Rogers

Friday, April 2, 2010

Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed

Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed
Text: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748
________________________________________
1. Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
for sinners such as I?

2. Was it for crimes that I have done,
he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

3. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died
for his own creature's sin.

4. Thus might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
and melt mine eyes to tears.

5. But drops of tears can ne'er repay
the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
'tis all that I can do.

From Bob and Cheryl Moeller "Marriage Minutes"