What is in Your Hand?

What do we have in our hands? 

There is a well understood biblical and spiritual principle, “What do you have in your hand?” 

We think of Moses, “Then the LORD asked him, ‘What is that in your hand?’, ‘A shepherds staff,’ Moses replied.” Exodus 4:2

Consider Elijah and the widow at Zarephath, “Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the regions of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so that I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” 

“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and so as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and brig it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sense rain on the land.’”

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.” 1 Kings 17:7-16

Then too, the boy with five loaves and two fish that fed over 5000 people. We think of the widow with her one coin at the temple and the word that she would be remembered for the rest of time. And what about Elijah and the widow with the small bit of oil, the collection of many jars, and the filling of all those jars. Not to mention the water turned to wine by Jesus himself. 

What do you have in your hand? It can do more than you imagine. And just may be all you need!

At Capturing Courage we’ve been considering this once more. What do we have in our hands? We have recently embarked on an exploration, sensing out a future location for a House of Prayer. There are a few different thoughts about this. Many things we could do or be, in specific ministry this way or that. 

But not all these thoughts have any solid basis upon which we have advanced before. We must remain in what we have in our hands. The tangible solid wherewithal and capacity upon which God has already been growing, leading, and developing us. 

So, we are asking, “What is in our hands?” 

The Lord has made it clear that we are to move forward in this journey towards a house of prayer in a public way. You can therefore find more posts about this over at https://capturingcouragecanada.org and even a few jottings over at https://cyndylavoie.com 

Jesus’ Faith For You

Live in the faith of Christ for you. We don’t need a ton of faith. Only as small as a mustard seed. Scriptures tell us that God will not put out even a faintly burning wick. 

Never in scriptures are we told to bring our much to God. But everywhere we are told to bring our little and that God will make it into much. 

– one small coin
– two loaves and five fish
– empty jars and a little bit of oil 
– a brook and a raven
– an army of 300 
– a faintly burning wick
– faith as small as a mustard seed

Let this grab you today and bring you peace. 

This isn’t about you or I folks. 

“The Lord’s Chosen Servant
42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
5 Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8 I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”
Isaiah 42

The Wrath of God

In my part of the world, maybe yours too, there has been one couple buying up all the Lyslol cleaning wipes from the stores and reselling them at exaggerated costs, taking advantage of people’s fear and need during this Covid-19 pandemic. 

This is called racketeering. It is a gross offence of blatant disregard for any other but themselves. Such folks will now carry much disdain among the community. To put it lightly. 

It is this exact kind of behaviour that had Jesus turning over the tables in the temple with rage. Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18

You see, for the Passover each year folks came from far away to the temple in Jerusalem. It was a long, hard, journey for many. 

Because of the difficulty, (heat and endless walking), the folks would not bring with them the dove or the lamb or the goat for their sacrifice at the temple. 

Rather, they would wait until they arrived to purchase what they needed for their sacrifice back to the Lord. 

But the religious leaders acted exactly like the couple buying up and then selling all the cleaning wipes. 

They were taking advantage of the need of the people unto their own benefit. 

Instead of selling a dove for the actual reasonable normal amount they would sell the dove for much more. Taking advantage of the people’ needs to turn a vast profit. 

Thus, Jesus, in a rage turned over the money changers tables. 

You see, God is serious about justice and integrity. 

It is also why Jesus was so hard on the pharisees, calling them whitewashed tombs, looking all great on the outside but full of dead mens bones. 

It is also why there is stern injunction against selling prayers or miracles or anything that is freely given of the Lord. 

Exchanging money for healing, or for spiritual strength, or for a sense of rightness with God, is sacrilege. 

Such behaviour demotes God to a transaction. And it takes advantage of folks in their spiritual need to feel right with God, to feel heard, to know that God is with them. 

I could go on. 

For those of you in Christian ministry. You must stop taking advantage of folks need to know God by creating some transaction, by which you skim the cream off the top. 

For those of you who reject the notion of God based on such behaviour. First, you are smart to recognize this as evil. Second, know that God never condones such behaviour. Ever. 

Jesus, in rage, revealed the heart of God against spiritual thieves and religious manipulators. His words tell us more,

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t got in yourself and you don’t let other enter either. … 

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are! … 

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from our herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law–justice, mercy, and faith. … 

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy–full of greed and self indulgence! … 

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs–beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people bones and all sorts of impurity.” Matthew 23

The anger and wrath you feel against the couple price gouging on cleaning wipes, those taking advantage of folks needs and fears to make a profit. 

That is the same anger of God against religious leaders who would profit from the spiritual needs of the people.

God Remains With Us

Sometimes we act as though God has gone somewhere. Often we treat others as though God is not acting on their behalf. We may find ourselves in a demise of thinking that assumes God is fickle, picky, reactive, and dismissive of us. The truth is, God is with us.

God has not abandoned this world, our earth, or you or I.

God is actively working on your and my behalf more than we will ever know. God is present in our lives whether we know it or not. And God is present whether we acknowledge him or not.

The people you want to see change. God is for them. And God is with them.

In your own life, in the spaces of difficulty and trouble, God is there with you.

The awareness of God for all of us changes our attitudes and our actions towards ourselves and each other.

Once we know God deeply within our own experience, we won’t preach so much doom and gloom onto others. We won’t preach a fearful God. We won’t teach a ‘suck it up’ mentality. Rather, the Spirit of God brings us to pleasant places.

“Lord, I have chosen you alone as my inheritance.
You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion.
I leave my destiny and its timing in your hands.
Your pleasant path leads me to pleasant places.
I’m overwhelmed by the privileges
that come with following you,
for you have given me the best!” Psalm 16:5-6 TPT

At Capturing Courage we have been reminded to remain turned to the Lord. Not because we have to. Not because God is a tyrant that demands our attention or our obedience. But because in God there is life.

In God there is life!

God is life.

Yes God, we come into your life today. Yes God, we participate in your love and in your instruction and wisdom. Yes God, we glory in your presence. Yes God, be mighty in our midst this day and forevermore.

Be our life this day. Amen

Miracles Come Softly

There is a Janette Oke book from long ago called Love Comes Softly. It is the story of a pioneer couple set in the USA mid-west late 1800’s. Their lives coming together is chronicled as love coming softly to them, for each other. Instead of a big bang of feelings and passion they slowly grew into love together.

And this has been coming to my mind. In terms of miracles.

So much of our language around miracles comes with an expectation of suddenlies, where all of a sudden something drops into place for us, seemingly out of the blue.

Now, I believe in miracles. I affirm suddenlies. Yet, as I look at my own life I can attest to the very-strong-sense that what has gone right in my life has done so by degrees and over a span of years. Sometimes, many years.

Imagine this: I once had fibromyalgia. A chronic pain disease. It nearly sent me to bed rest. But I was connected up with good cellular strengthening nutrients. I intentionally began removing stress from my life. And I began dealing with repressed anger deep within.

Today, these past many years in fact, you would not guess that I was once increasingly crippled by fibromyalgia. This, is a miracle, to my mind. It is certainly a miracle in my life from where I once was to where I am today!

But it came by and by, over a number of years and with good cooperation on my part. I sought the miracle and took measures to affirm health, wholeness, and life for myself.

Many things on the outside, of grand sweeping vistas and momentous developments often have at the backside, years of faithfulness and reaching for all of what might be.

Miracles happen in our own hearts and minds first, and then outward in the day to day of living.

I don’t know about you but I’m waiting for miracles again and still. My gaze is often on the future and what is required as we carry on. It’s not always certain what may be but I’ve come to understand that miracles come softly.

They rarely rush upon us. Although, bravo!, for when they do. The longest lasting developments are those that are built within us from the inside out. It’s the infrastructure of heart and mind, of manner and thinking that lays a strong foundation for more of life and life abundant to overshadow us.

Becoming on the inside, brings about what we desire on the outside. In that order.

Miracles come softly. Have you personally noticed this? And where might you be expecting it still? Note the horizon of your life with gratitude on your lips and wonder at what might be.

And by and by we may look over our shoulder and realize how far we’ve come and all the Lord has done for us. Be in expectation and take courage for your journey.

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:13-14

NOTE: The work I do is supported by the gifts and financial partnerships of folks just like you. Every amount makes a difference and each donation encourages and enables me to continue on with Capturing Courage International Ministries. If you see the value of impacting the body of Christ with wholeness deep inside, please give something towards this work. You can find our donation page over at GIVE https://capturingcourage.org/give/ . Be mightily bless this day. With joy and peace pressed down, Cyndy

God is Near

Still, to this day, all over the world there is a thinking that God is distant and cannot be accessed. Even within our churches and faith gatherings we have found that most folks believe God must be coerced or convinced to draw near to us.

Of course, at CCIM we have no such understanding. At Capturing Courage International Ministries we have one foot on earth and one foot in the heavenlies and we are bridging folks to God.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Because of thousands of years of religion and idol worship and of witchcraft there remain many fragments of false thinking about God.

The world must know that God is with us!

Capturing Courage International Ministries begins with this.

One of our favourite testimonies comes from one of our teaching days when a young pastor shared, “I have learned to touch the heart of God.” 

Would you partner with us at CCIM to bring “God is with you! God is for you! God has not abandoned you!”, to pastors around the world?

Partner With Us Here

“We Found the True Gospel Restored in the Church through the teaching that you Lovingly Sent to us, that Clings to the Whole Truth Handed Down by the Prophets & Apostles. The Gospel Teaching you sent Touched our Hearts and Encouraged me more to Remain Faithful to GOD and Diligent to works.” Pastor E., Philippines

 

CCIM College Correspondence School

We’ve a short term, one year project underway.

In order to establish our CCIM College Course in an online kind of way we are testing out our instructions, pace and rhythm of the course, with a small group of students.

We will be doing this as a correspondence course direct with our Executive Director, Cyndy Lavoie, author of our College of Capturing Courage International Ministries.

It will be facilitated via email. With one or two emails a week that relay the process and instructions for taking the course bit by bit, one step at a time, we hope to help those who have been wanting to take this course.

It will be a solid year of study. It is for those wanting increase in personal renewal and leadership development before the Lord; strength from your inside out.

  • College of Capturing Courage International Ministries
  • Correspondence Course Opportunity
  • One year of study
  • August 2019 to August 2020
  • One or two emails per week from Cyndy to you
  • Instructions and step by step process for working through the course
  • With feedback and reporting expected from you on a monthly basis
  • Comes with certificates and final diploma as each section is completed

This opportunity of CCIM College Course for one-year’s correspondence with Cyndy is by application as we need to keep the number of students to 20 or less so that we can stay in good communication. Too many students would compromise the year.

  • For majority world folks there is an application process below.
  • For western folks this year’s correspondence course is offered by donation to CCIM with a suggested donation of $100 per month.

After this year of direct correspondence the course will be available as an online learning course. NOTE: If you do not take the course this year, in this way, it will be available online and at a self-paced rhythm in further years.

To see more about CCIM College and it’s contents click HERE. 

To see the Core Learning Outcomes click HERE.

Then, if you are interested please fill out this application form and press the ‘submit’ button. You will hear back from us in about two weeks time.

Chapter 28: Love

Chapter 28:  Love

I write these God’s Hearts as the Holy Spirit leads me.  I don’t have an agenda of topics chosen months in advance, I simply write in accord with the Lord’s leading.  And these last few weeks I’ve been brought back to the central truth of God’s love for us and am compelled to pass that on. 

It feels to me that the Lord wants to remind all of us that while we are working and serving alongside the Lord in His kingdom that we must not forget how much we are loved.

The heart of God’s love for us is beautifully expressed in Zephaniah,

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

Just this one verse alone reveals a depth of the heart of our Lord in regards to each one of us.

1.  God is in your midst

2.  He is the mighty one who saves

3.  He rejoices over you with gladness

4.  He quiets you with his love

5.  He exults and sings over you

Lets review these one by one.

  1. God in our midst means that we are not alone

Though the weight of our work and of life itself may press down on us we can know that God is with us. 

Immanuel means ‘God with us’ and is one of the names given to Jesus.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 ESV

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 ESV

God with us means that God is working through us.  As we rest in the presence and work of Jesus Christ he works through us.  We take comfort in this.  The work is not all ours to do.  Rather we enter into dependance on God and as we invite Jesus Christ into our lives we agree with Him and when we agree with the Lord life takes on new satisfaction.

2.  The mighty one who saves indicates a continuous present tense

God has saved us.  God is saving us.  God will save us.  We experience the truth and presence of God in our past, present, and future.

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21 ESV

“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5 ESV

The love of Father God foreknew us and prepared a way for us. Jesus Christ his Son entered into our present tense and died a sinless death so that you and I might live.  Our Holy Spirit remains with us leading and guiding us each and every day.

This work of God never ends.  It goes on in our lives and in the lives of every human being on planet earth. God is continually drawing all people unto himself in love and kindness and understanding.  This we can count on.  This we rest in.

No longer do we need to force God upon each other.  No longer must we micro-manage those around us.  No longer must we fear.  God is active in all our lives even when we cannot perceive Him.

Because of this we can come to a place of greater understanding alongside our fellow human beings.  We are released to just be people alongside people for Jesus is the one working in all our lives.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 ESV

3.  He rejoices over you with gladness 

God’s heart over us works to dispel the lies and condemnations within us.  Remember the utter joy of a child born to you?  This is the same joy (but bigger yet) that God experiences in regards to you each and every minute of every day.

I ask:  How might His joy about you change how you view yourself, God, and this life you are living?

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 ESV

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.” Psalm 16:9 ESV

Life alongside God brings us to deeper understanding of our lives.  We realize that there is another reality to living than just this earthly experience and our earthly struggles.

We learn alongside God that even though there are difficulties God is in the midst.

4.  He quiets us with His love is the exact result of God in our midst

We cannot stay stressed when we are aware of the presence of God.  In His presence our anxiety, our worry, our concerns fall to the side. We are quieted in our inner person.

“For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.” Psalm 33:21 ESV

“He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” Psalm 107:29 ESV

While we make our plans and do the work of our lives it takes on a new ease as we allow the Lord’s quieting over us.  We do the same work but our hearts don’t worry the same.  We carry on the same tasks but we are more relaxed and okay with God’s leading.  We do not rush to control or fix things like we once did. God quiets us and we enter into His rest.

5. He exults and sings over you and he exults and sings over each one

In this love of the Lord we realize that he loves everyone to the same extent that he loves us.  And as we realize this we begin to take greater care with those around us.  We realize that we must treat others as the great loves of God that they are.

As we experience God’s love and exulting and singing over us we bring this same spirit and manner over others.  We learn too to rejoice in our fellow human beings.  We begin to see the beauty of mankind all around us.

God’s singing over us changes how we perceive each other.  We, all of us, every single person, is precious to God, and we dare not use and abuse them.  It is God’s love that alerts us to this.

“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,” 1 Thessalonians 3:12 ESV

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

John 13:35 ESV

We are reminded today that though we work to understand God more, though we work to bring justice where there is injustice, though we work to teach and guide and lead those depending on us, though we strive to accomplish much good in the countries in which we live, we remember that love and our manner alongside God and others is the most important thing of all.

We remember that how we treat each other matters first and foremost.  We remember that God loves us with a deep and abiding love and we are reminded to slow down, to take notice of our fellow human beings, to acknowledge each other in kindness and understanding.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.  As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 

1 Corinthians 13 ESV

Prayer

“God we come before you today dependant on you to grow your love in us.  We cannot love as you love unless you change our hearts from the inside out.  Please give us your love.  We wait on you for this and we thank you for the work you will be doing within us.  We praise you Lord.  Thank you.” 

Application

  • Today, spend some time worshipping and thanking the Lord for his great love for you. 
  • Remain in the presence of God
  • Be silent before Him 
  • Ask to know His love more

Summary  – love 

We are not alone.  John 1:14

God delights over us.  Zephaniah 3:17

He saved us, is saving us, and continues to save us.  Matthew 11:29 

God makes us glad.  Psalm 33:21

We love others because of God’s great love for us.  John 13:35

Chapter 27: Holy Spirit

Chapter 27:  Holy Spirit

In the Amplified Bible we find Jesus telling his disciples,

“But the Comforter (Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.” John 14:26  AMP

In a regular dictionary we find the following definitions of these adjectives describing our Holy Spirit:

1. Comforter: A person or thing that provides consolation

2. Counsellor: A person trained to give guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems

3. Helper: a person who contributes to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose

4. Intercessor: (mediator) a negotiator who acts as a link between parties

5. Advocate: A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy

6. Strengthener: a device designed to provide additional strength

7. Standby: Readiness for duty or immediate deployment

Even in this simple way we can see the immediate kinds of help that the Spirit of God brings to us.

There is much to say about the Holy Spirit.  Too much for this simple study, so let’s look at just a few of the marks of the Holy Spirit, how we can recognize the Spirit of God in our lives.

The very first place where we find the Spirit is in our salvation.  When we come to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we are told that the Spirit seals us in him.

1.  The Spirit Marks us and Seals us in Christ

“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

This is important because when we first come to the Lord we are immature in our faith. 

Sometimes it takes years to mature and to grow to our full stature in Christ, and God understands this.

God knows that growth is a process and that while we go from immaturity to maturity, even in that process, we are marked as belonging to God by the Holy Spirit.

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 ESV  (footnote below)

Because of the intercession of the Spirit, one of the first ways that we experience the Holy Spirit is in the inner sanctum of our hearts.  Paul in Romans gives this blessing:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV

And it is in the inner experience of joy and peace and hope that we are assured of God’s presence in our lives.  We all know that we cannot conjure these things on our own. 

Rather, joy and peace and hope are gifts from God and come to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And it is out of this joy and peace and hope that we are healed.

2.  The Spirit Heals us

Isaiah records it this way,

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3  ESV  (Read all of Isaiah 61)

Consider how the Psalmist describes it:

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”  Psalm 30:11-12 ESV

God in his power and majesty and by the work of the Holy Spirit enters into the depths of our hearts with comfort and joy and dancing.

In the power of God we are given back celebration and worship.  We are enabled to praise him and to experience in that praise a deep gladness of heart that transcends all that we know and understand.

I am convinced that when Peter says, “always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” 1 Peter 3:15b ESV, that we are to answer the basic question, “how has God made you glad?”

We might know all scripture, understand the ancient texts and languages, but if we do not know how the Lord has brought gladness to our hearts, if we do not know where our mourning has been turned to dancing, then perhaps we are missing an elemental component of walking with God.

If nothing else, know this day the impact and the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart.

It is from this touch of the Spirit to the depths of our hearts that we then walk in wisdom and understanding.

3.  The Spirit Teaches us and Gives us Wisdom

“And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13 ESV

*Read 1 Corinthians 6:6-16

Life is complicated and fraught with confusion.  It is therefore good to know that we do not have to do life on our own understanding.  Rather we have access to the wisdom of 

God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah in his foretelling of the coming of Christ said this,

“And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2-3a ESV (Read 11:1-10)

We come to reverence in the Spirit of God.  Our understanding is opened to the might and majesty of God and we are never the same.  We learn obedience and how to walk in sync with the living God.

How God moves we move.  What God is concerned about concerns us.  The manner of compassion and grace of our Lord becomes our own.  There is something different about those who walk in the Spirit.  We find in Galatians,

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Our very manner of being takes on the mark of our Lord.  In this we give tangible evidence to the Holy Spirit in our lives.  This depth of the Spirit in our lives is important to God.  Consider the words found in 1 Corinthians,

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV

We may have good deeds, prophecy, knowledge, and even faith, but if we are not walking in the manner of the Holy Spirit, the place where our hearts reveal the fruit of the Spirit as Galatians teaches us, then we are missing the greatest point of walking with God – change within our inner person.

Christ didn’t die on the cross to get us to heaven.  He died and rose again so that our entire life might be redeemed and restored to the original vision of God, and this begins with the infilling of the Holy Spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit one to another.

I’ll leave off with Peter’s blessing:

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” 1 Peter 1:2 ESV

Application

Consider this diagram (on the next page) about the covering of Jesus Christ. Note that as we mature in Christ there are subtleties to being ‘right with God’.  Our discernment and our ability to hear and to obey the spirit must therefore become greater. 

While there are many actions and deeds that are outside of the covering of Christ, as leaders and pastors in the Kingdom of God we must begin looking at our own hearts and seeing deeper than just actions.  We must take sins of the heart seriously and this is where the Holy Spirit is particularly equipped to teach us and to equip us. 

Consider the small differences of our hearts before God when we are under the covering of Christ, to those same things of the heart without the right motive or without obedience to the Lord — Where is your life?  Are you fully under the covering of Christ or is there a habit of thought and action that would be outside of Jesus’ covering? 

Use the listening prayer process to confess and repent of what the Holy Spirit shows you. 

Summary – Holy Spirit 

The Spirit seals us in Christ.  Ephesians 1:13-14

The Spirit brings peace, joy, and hope.  Romans 15:13

The Spirit heals us.  Psalm 30:11-12

The Spirit teaches us.  1 Corinthians 2:13

We live out the fruit of the spirit (as evidence of the spirit in us).  Galatians 5:22-23

 

Footnote: God is very okay with our growth and the time it takes to mature. We must not condemn others for their growth process. Rather, we rest in the work that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are doing in our lives and we trust that this same work is happening in the lives of others. It is okay to serve God while we are still maturing, for he is growing us. 

Chapter 26: A Glad Heart

Chapter 26: A Glad Heart

2 Corinthians 9:7 reads, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” ESV

It is the cheerful heart that intrigues me.

While this verse speaks about money and our tithes and offerings, I wonder how might the ‘glad heart’ principle apply to the rest of our life?

It occurs to me that there are three things that the principle of a glad heart guide us in:

1.  It Challenges us to Check our Hearts

What are we believing and feeling about any given situation, and how might we adjust our attitude in order to find and express a gladness of heart?

It takes maturity to overlook the assumptions, expectations, and ignorance of others. 

But in order to give with a glad heart this is often what we must do.  It is, after all, what 

God has done with us.

Despite our offensiveness and sin God rose above all that to give to us with a glad heart.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 ESV

And while we are not God we can have the Lord’s help with our hearts at any time.  The Psalmist cried out, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” Psalm 51:10 NIV

While we cannot change the core of our hearts we can come in honesty before the Lord.  It is honesty before the Lord that purifies and refines us.

While we cannot mandate another’s heart, we are to be responsible for our own.  In this we find God working on our behalf.

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:12b-13 ESV 

The principle of a glad heart is highly personal.  It is something for each of us to work through with the Lord for ourselves.

2.  It Guides our Giving

For many of us, generosity is a way of life.  Yet, because of this there may be many who simply come to expect, and take for granted, this in us.

When expectation, without respect, is placed on us by another, our hearts alert us to this difficulty – our hearts are not able to be glad.

When we are unable to give gladly it is time to step back from giving.  Perhaps we are burnt out. Perhaps we have been taken advantage of.  Perhaps we feel compelled and manipulated.  Perhaps we intuit that our giving would end up with regret.

Here we are warned away from a generosity that would suck our life-force from us.  If we cannot give gladly, it is better to not give at all.

In some instances gladness will return, other times not.  What is inferred in “each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV is honesty and integrity in our inner core.

Our decisions and our actions must clearly align with our hearts, otherwise we are living falsely. This doesn’t bless the Lord.  And it doesn’t ultimately bless others.

We refuse to give under compulsion, or guilt, manipulation, not grudgingly or with regret.

We put boundaries against those who would dishonour us.  We do not allow ourselves to be taken advantage of.  We ensure an honesty in our giving.  For we understand that it is our job to ensure we can remain in a gladness of heart.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life”  Proverbs 4:23 ESV

“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;”  Hebrews 12:15 ESV

Do what you are glad to be doing.  Allow your heart to lead you in the activities and service you are to be about.  There are many good things to do in this world, but which good thing makes you glad?

Go after that.  Invest in that.  For therein lies your passion and the calling of your life.  Here is where there is honest living for you, and true blessing towards those you serve.

“For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”  2 Corinthians 8:12 ESV

Keeping in mind that we do this to the extent of what we have.  While many may demand and expect of us much, we must always remember to give of what we have.

Do you have wisdom, perhaps money, expertise in crops, business savvy – a heart for school children, for other leaders, for women, for education, for trades and technical skills… what is your heart for?  Work from there.

3.  It Reminds us to not become a Weight on Others

When others cannot engage with us gladly, then we know something is off.  The lack of gladness in others reminds us to back off, to fix our approach, to reckon what might be wrong, and to give full respect for the generosity of others towards us.

We can watch for this gladness in others in a variety of situations.

While applying to our financial giving, it also applies to any situation, from the gifts we give, to help with chores around the house, and even to sexual intimacy in marriage.

I once heard it taught to men how to recognize the willingness of their woman in regards to sexual intimacy – it was this: Look for enthusiasm.  When a woman responds with enthusiasm, know that she wants sex as much as you.  Without enthusiasm, you are bordering on rape at worst, and blatant disregard at best.

Gladness of heart in the bedroom reveals the core of a marital relationship.  Gladness of heart in the bedroom indicates the level of honour and respect in the relationship.

In addition to this example from marriage, consider how this applies to leadership.  There are a number of verses throughout the Bible admonishing us to work in cooperation with our leaders, and I am convinced that gladness of heart is at the core of these requests.

“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.  Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”  Hebrews 13:17 NIV

As a leader, a teacher, a mentor, when is it most amazing to lead?

When we can do so from a glad heart.

As people, we want to increase other’s gladness.  Leading is hard enough, there is no need to make it any harder.  Take care not to erode the gift of gladness to those who are spending their lives on our behalf.

For as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, the point is so that mutual give and take, blessing and being blessed, can flow back and forth within the Christian community.

We give with a glad heart out of what we have, knowing that God is taking care of us just the same.

“Your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.”  

2 Corinthians 8:14 ESV

We cannot ever force another to have a glad heart. In fact, remaining in someone’s face demanding their gifts in a gladness of heart, ensures a less glad heart.

In every area of life, pushing for what we want, means we get less of what we want. 

While perseverance is good it is always to be worked out in the context of relationship with each other.  It does us no good to get what we want but to break fellowship along the way.

Gladness of heart ensures a right attitude as we give, and as we receive, and as we work and live and love alongside others.

When we invest in our own glad heart, respect the glad hearts of others around us, and when we refuse to diminish the glad hearts of others, we find a deep gladness for life itself.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.   And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Colossians 3:15-17 ESV

Application

The biggest violation of this glad heart principle is found in churches and their demands for a tithe from every member each and every time they enter the door of a church. 

Tithing was never meant to be a burden or to be used to manipulate and wrestle money from people.  God makes it very clear that it does not matter what we give, but it does matter if we can give it with a glad heart. 

God does not need anything. God does not need your money.  God loves a cheerful giver because he knows that giving enters us into the same work as he himself is in – but not even God forces anyone to give. 

Seek the Lord about the tithing practices in your church and ask God if you are forcing people to tithe.  Also, if you are afraid of what might happen if people didn’t give, then take these fears to the Lord and ask for healing.  Begin to trust God in a new way for your provision as pastor.  Do not use your position to violate the principle of a glad heart for your people. 

Summary – a glad heart 

Honesty with our hearts is first and foremost.  2 Corinthians 9:7

Secondly, we allow God to change our hearts.  Philippians 2:12-13

Third, we make space for other’s hearts and what they can or cannot do at any time. 2 Corinthians 9:7 

Next, we trust God to change all our hearts.  Psalm 51:10

We do not force others.  2 Corinthians 8:12

We give and we receive as The Spirit leads, without compulsion on ourselves or others. 2 Corinthians 8:14

Chapter 25: A Long Life

Chapter 25: A Long Life

The Bible speaks many things about living a life unto God and when we do this we experience good fruit. 

Today I’m outlining just five principles that lead towards a long and prosperous life.

1.  Honouring the Elderly

We will begin where the Bible begins, with one of the Ten Commandments given to Moses for the People of Israel. In Exodus we have record of the Ten Commandments with the fifth commandment,

“Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 ESV

In Ephesians 6:1-3 we find this commandment repeated and noted as the first commandment with a promise.

We find that honouring our parents is critical to our future satisfaction with life for honour is of God. God honours all individuals, and there is a special honour for those who have lived life before us.

The essence of this command ties into the law of sowing and reaping.  For instance,

“The one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:8 ESV

The law of sowing and reaping determines that when we sow (plant) honour, we will reap (receive) honour ourselves one day.

While we may in our flesh want to ignore our parents, despise the elderly and simply get on with our lives, we are told that this does not please the Lord.  Dishonour does not work in the Kingdom of God.

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Galatians 6:7 ESV

Learning to reap unto the Lord begins as we grow a deep respect for the Lord.

2.  Deep Respect for the Lord

It is our honour of others that shows whether we have a deep respect for the Lord, or as it is said in Psalms 128, as one who fears the Lord.

“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!  You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” Psalm 128:1-2 ESV

A fear of the Lord is all about understanding that one day we will stand before God and answer for our life.  This is not something to be afraid of, so much as something to understand and realize with much sober mindedness.

The fear of the Lord spurs us on to live a life pleasing to God, a life that is ordered around the Lord’s principles and heart.  What God loves we love, what hurts God’s heart we stay away from.

In a very simple way it is the same deep respect that we would give to a family member, a good friend and our marriage partner.

It is about living in such a way that we do not purposefully break fellowship with our Lord.  A fear of God compels us to make good decisions, to weigh choices carefully and to walk in honour of our Lord.

When we do this we will “be blessed, and it shall be well with you”

3. Integrity and Truthfulness

Our deep respect for the Lord begins to show up in our speech and the attitudes of our hearts. God is all about integrity and truthfulness.

“Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?  Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies!  Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace and work to maintain it.”  Psalms 34:12-14 NLT 

God asks here, ‘Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?’  Then here is what you do:

• do not speak evil

• do not tell lies

• refuse to participate in evil

• be a peacemaker

Peacemaking comes into this conversation because where there is evil there is no peace. 

Where we tell lies we cause trouble for ourselves and for others.  And when we speak evil we agree with the enemy and not God.

God has taken the initiative to overcome evil with good, and we are called to do the same.

This is the way to a “long and prosperous life”.

4.  Obedience to the Lord

All of these things so far, are the very ways we are to obey God.  Obedience is not often about what we do and where we are going.  While our physical choices are certainly an element of obedience, the core of following the Lord is:

• to live in a manner where our hearts are, I. Honouring our parents and the elderly.

• where we have a, 2. Deep respect and holy fear of God

• where we, 3. Walk in integrity and truthfulness

“But this command I gave them:  ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people.  And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.”  Jeremiah 7:23 ESV

Walking in God’s ways is not about the letter of the law, but rather in the spirit of the law and the change that must come to our hearts.  When we do not pay attention to what is important to God and go our own way, this is what we experience,

“But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” Jeremiah 7:24 ESV

The good news is, that our lack of obedience, our inability to hear God’s heart, our lack of honor and the lies we live and the truths we avoid, can all be confessed and renounced.

We bring ourselves to the cross of Christ and we find healing and wholeness.

While we know how to live, we are unable to live it. In and of ourselves we will violate every single one of these principles.

This is why Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead.  To become our righteousness.

5.  Trusting on Christ for our Righteousness

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3 ESV

It is the work of Jesus Christ that saves us, that makes us holy, and that restores us unto righteousness (right living).  It is Christ that we serve.

“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5 ESV

Prayer

“Jesus we welcome you into our lives today in a new and fresh way.  Where we have dishonoured our parents and the elderly around us, please show us honour, teach us to honour, may we have new habits of honour. 

Where we have not respected you or sought your ways, we ask that you would show us who you are in a fresh way.  Enable our hearts to understand your might and your holiness.  May we learn a holy fear of who you are, and may we not disregard the amazing opportunity and invitation to do life alongside your ways. 

The times we have operated out of falseness and in lies, where we have lacked integrity and truthfulness in our dealings with others, we bring ourselves to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We lay down our dishonesty today and renounce it in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Build in us new sensitivity to truthfulness and honesty.  May we not manipulate or lie to get our own way.  But rather may we trust you with our lives as we live in honesty. 

And where we have heard your voice and felt your compelling on our lives, but have not taken action, where we have not obeyed we simply bow to you today.  We are sorry.  Restore to us the ability to walk with you, to hear your voice clearly and to follow you. 

May we simply be obedient people, those who show the heart of you in everything we do, the ways we talk and the ways we love others. 

In all this, we declare our dependence on our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is our salvation and the one who makes possible our life unto God. Jesus we thank-you today for making a way for us to walk with our God. Holy Spirit, please breath through our hearts and thoughts and lives today.  We invite you.

With all glory and honour to God and God alone, amen and amen.”

Application

Are you honouring your parents? 

Have you forgiven them? 

Are you caring for him or her if they are very old and frail? 

Have you visited them lately? 

Is your spouse free to minister to his or her parents? 

God do what is right. 

Ask God to show you one thing today that you can do to honour your parents. 

Summary – a long life

We honour the elderly.   Exodus 20:12

We respect the Lord and we walk in His ways.  Psalm 128:1-2

We obey God.  Jeremiah 7:23

We trust Christ for our righteousness.  Philippians 3:9