Wednesday, May 30, 2012
God can out-wait anybody. He is the King of Wait. But when He wants us to hurry up and "get it" He presses us and allows us to feel the discomfort of our own sin. He has a set schedule to keep, of course, and we must be prepared and ready for the blessing - because, my friend - there is an appointed day for His visitation. Imagine, if you will, that you and your sibling are both in your room and Dad comes in to check on you before bed. He pops his head in the door and lo and behold, Dad catches one child doing something that requires discipline and the other being obedient, chillin' and just minding his own business. Who is going to get the reward and which child is going to receive correction with no reward? This is kind of a picture of what happens when the day of God's visitation rolls around. You never know exactly when Dad is going to pop His head in the door and check on you, but you need to be ready at all times.
Look for signs. The Lord doesn't want to catch us off guard. Remember when your dad would call out, "I'm coming to check on you in five minutes!" Well, our Father so wants to bless us, He gives us little clues that He is on His way! "And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes will see your teachers, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it.' (Is. 30: 20,21)
"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear." (Is. 59:1,2)
Many people have been in a dry place, a time of darkness, confusion and frustration. They have not necessarily understood why, but sometimes the length of duration can cause bitterness. Hope deferred makes a heart sick, the scripture says, and a sick heart - an offended heart - always looks for someone to blame. An offended heart turns into an accuser, and the spirit of accusation will accuse God, too. An offended heart is critical of others. It is one of the most destructive forces that spreads into the minds of people across the land. The spirit of back biting, fault finding, or digging up weaknesses and pointing them out to others can become an unbreakable habit for some if they don't repent and renounce that addiction. But criticism never upgrades one person by downgrading others. It doesn't score points with God, either. As a matter of fact, that spiritual pride will cause God to resist you. These are only some of the things that God is dealing with in people. He is going deeper than He has in the past and dealing with heart conditions. Things that people might have gotten away with in previous seasons isn't going to fly anymore. He is examining character, testing our integrity, and bringing many things up to the surface that people may have thought were long over with. There are things that sometimes we earnestly do try to "take care of business," but maybe we tried to do it without real sincerity; we just wanted something uncomfortable to be over. Many people have deeply rooted issues from their past that they've tried to overcome, tried to forget about, but way down deep inside they still aren't healed from whatever may have happened. God wants to heal that breach. It is God's mercy that doesn't let us bury the pain indefinitely. Unhealed wounds and offenses fester and turn poisonous to our spirit (and sometimes our flesh). It is God's mercy that presses us to be honest with Him about our feelings. He doesn't want us to have just a surface relationship with Him. He wants access to the deepest issues of our heart. Many people seem to resist giving God their pain and offenses because they already know what He will require - forgiveness. They prefer their judgments over His mercy, making idols of their judgments, forgetting that this same God has been merciful to them.
It is God's mercy that allows us to experience the frustration of waiting. It is His mercy that allows us to feel the depression from our own sin. It is God's mercy that allows us to feel the unrest in our soul, because a troubled soul seeks relief. Many people seek relief from false substitutes like shopping, gambling, alcohol, drugs, or other external sources. Whether it is a need for approval or validation from others, materialism, other outward displays of success, or maybe something else, nothing will satisfy the desperate soul for very long. It is in fact how many addictions are formed. But if you like your sin too much to quit, you will convince yourself that you can't quit. And if you convince yourself that you can't quit, you will eventually rationalize that your sin isn't even sin at all, and if it's not sin, then you will convince yourself it has no consequences. That's a dangerous road to be on. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, feeble excuses and a lot of denial. Wake up! The longer one stays in prolonged sin, the more it is asking for God to turn up the heat and make life really, really uncomfortable. You don't have to suffer. You don't have to feel that pain, anxiety, fear or depression. People try to cover their pain, depression, lack of fulfillment and lack of fruitfulness with anything they can to plug that hole in their heart. People are so eager to be doing something that makes them feel validated, yet this void is something that can only be removed through repentance, and filled with the Spirit of Christ.
Genuine repentance lifts the burdens, the weights, the depression and the unrest that people experience. People with bi-polar disease, depression and many other forms of emotional illness struggle with emotional instability when a great deal of their suffering - perhaps even all of it - can be alleviated with prayer and renouncement of certain sins. God teaches no easy lesson. How often we want the learning curve to be shorter, the road easier to travel on this journey called life. These are the lessons our Father teaches because He knows that we are more apt to remember the experience and have our heart genuinely transformed through the process. So He presses us, allowing the discomfort we feel to nudge our conscience towards self examination. It's the thing people often resist the most, but the unresolved sin is what keeps people from true fellowship with God. It blocks prayers, locking people in darkness, confusion and frustration until they are so uncomfortable being stuck that they become motivated towards a real change of heart. Genuine repentance is what unlocks a flood of peace, joy and renewed fellowship with God. Then, and only then, are we ready for something new.
I thank You for loving me so much that you encourage me towards a clean heart. Let a right spirit be renewed in me this day. I give You permission to change my heart, my attitudes, or whatever needs to change so that I can receive whatever revelation I need. Forgive me for being stubborn or resistant. Let my soul breath again, O God. If there is anything I need to see differently, please show me. If I have a wrong belief about something that You say is sin, show me so that I can repent. In Jesus name, Amen.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
How does one arrive at true forgiveness, and know that it is not just us trying to convince ourselves, but in fact a genuine act of divine intervention, allowing us to genuinely forgive someone that has sinned against us? Because the reality is, a person can go through the same process (sometimes for years) of confessing from their mouth, "Lord, I forgive so-and-so" for what they did; we can even try to convince God that we have, sometimes as an act of our sheer determination, indeed forgiven the offender - yet still miss the boat.
When wounds are deep and it seems that all your efforts fail to loose your heart from the struggle, what is required is both willingness on your part, and divine intervention on the part of God. He never asks us to do something that He does not give us His help to carry out. Jesus said we must forgive others or God can not forgive our own sins, but He does not leave us without His help. He provides the grace to pull those stubborn weeds out of wounded, bitter hearts so that His love and grace will flow from vessels of integrity.
Until you see the offender in the light of your own human weakness and can bring yourself to identify with them as a person who has been wounded, genuine forgiveness will escape you. It is when we can accept the fact that the person who did wrong to us did so out of their own unresolved pain, perhaps their own fears or insecurities, and we are just as prone to making the same type of error if perhaps we had felt what they experienced. What would have happened if we had heard the enemy's logic as it had been whispered in their ears? How would we have reacted if we had felt the same emotions, listened to the enemy's twisted ideas of truth, and become prey to be used for wrongdoing? Could it be possible that we would have committed the same type of fault? Have we even done something similar in times past, perhaps never stopping to think that we too were once guilty of a similar crime?
I know that there are some things that are just plain heinous. Unthinkable things that predators have done to willfully harm others. Yet, they too were once just children. Innocents that had something inexplicable or perhaps unimaginable done to them. The wounded, if they are never healed, go on to become predators themselves, lashing out to hurt and offend others or willfully mistreat them. It doesn't excuse wrong behavior, but it helps us understand it. It is truly only God's grace that can intervene and allow us to see deep hurt and offense in this light. It is the piercing light of His love that allows compassion to arise, enabling us to forgive those that have hurt us. This is the divine gift of God's grace, to forgive with genuine humility of heart. When your heart has truly released the person that offended you, you will know it, because you will feel your heart soften towards them. You will experience the gift of compassion that allows you to be forever free from those old wounds.
It doesn't necessarily mean that the person we have forgiven is off the hook with God; but it means that we are. If we are to ever recover real joy and peace, we must ask God for His ability to see the perpetrators through His eyes, for in doing so He also grants His ability to forgive. Compassionately. Understanding all human beings, no matter how grave their sin and faults, are prone to being used by the enemy - as we all have been at one time or another - to inflict pain unnecessarily.
It was for this cause that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to walk among man and demonstrate Divine Love and Grace. Intellectually we may know this to be true and accept the word of God. But until we model it...live it...demonstrate it...we fall tremendously short of being Christ-like. God gives us challenges with human relationships not so that we can dwell upon the pain, but so that we have endless opportunities to demonstrate that we truly KNOW Him.
I thank You for showing me anyone I might still need to forgive. Bring their name to mind, Lord. I want to please You, so I ask for a gift of Divine Grace to be poured out into my heart. I ask You to enable me to see those that have hurt or offended me through Your eyes. Help me to see them through eyes of compassion so that I can truly forgive and be healed. Help me to recover my joy, Lord, for it is joy that becomes my strength to overcome. Help me to recover peace and experience Your presence in a greater way. Forgive me Lord, for I need Your forgiveness and Your mercy every day. In Jesus name, amen.
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