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 

Chapter 18: Sabbath

Chapter 18: Sabbath

It is hard taking a day of rest. There is this driving fear that would keep us working, working, working. Bills need to be paid, food needs to be bought; there is just always something that needs to be taken care of.

It is why it is so difficult to understand on a human level God’s rhythm, and command even, to take a weekly sabbath.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11 ESV

God, at the beginning of time, set into place a rhythm for our working and our resting.  And while we do not any longer live under the law of the Old Testament, we do want to understand the principle behind this command; we want to know God’s heart and intention for us in this admonition to keep a sabbath.

In it’s simplest understanding a sabbath is a day of rest.  It is one day a week that we dedicate to ceasing from our labours and the things that must always be taken care of.

It is a fasting of sorts and an act of trusting God for our work and our livelihoods; by taking a sabbath we act out our trust in God’s keeping of our lives.  We may be tempted to believe that it is only the wealthy that can afford a day of rest, but in fact as we risk to enter into a day of rest we are then entered into the wealth of God.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV

I remember years ago when I first began keeping one day of rest a week.  It was a fearful thing to do. 

There was always work to be done, many things to be attended to, and yet I came to realize that these things would always be there.  My work would never be done on this earth and I realized that it is faulty thinking to wait until our work is done before we take a day of rest.

Taking a sabbath is in many ways a simple act of obedience to our Lord.  It truly is a way of saying, “I trust you Lord with my days and with my life.” 

Then, as we grab hold of the courage to take a day of rest we welcome into our lives a greater movement of the Lord on our behalf.

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:5 ESV

Think of it this way.  We can either continue trying to maintain our lives by our own hands and effort, or we can make space for the Lord in the keeping of our lives.  A sabbath helps to make space for the Lord in our lives.

We intentionally step back from our own keeping, we take our hands off our own care so to speak, and in this space, as we take our hands off, God is invited to put his hands into the mix.

Taking a Sabbath makes space for more of God in our lives.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Taking a Sabbath comes out of our hearts of worship and trust in our Lord.

Unfortunately, the ancient church leaders had made the sabbath into a weighty and unholy thing for the people.  They demanded and shamed and made the sabbath harder and harder to keep, with more and more rules and condemnation for any transgressions.

And so when Jesus arrived on the scene he modelled a healthy view of Sabbath keeping.  For instance, we find him,

“On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered.  And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them,“I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored.” Luke 6:6-10 ESV

He brought us back into balance that the sabbath is a gift to mankind. It is God’s rest for those who are living in his trust.

“And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27 ESV

And so we must walk balanced in our practice of taking a day of rest.  For those in Christian service, pastors and lay-leaders within the church, Sundays are generally not a day of rest.  Rather, they are days of much preparation, teaching, and leading.  For Pastors and Christian leaders and their wives, it is often therefore important to take another day of the week as your sabbath.

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31 ESV

If you are married it is as husband and wife you will want to decide together what day is going to be a sabbath for you, and you will also need to discern best how to make it a day of rest for both of you.

It is not okay for a man to announce to his wife that he will be resting on this or that day when she must remain cooking over a hot fire that same day.  Men, you want to honour the Lord and honour your wife by making room and taking up the inconvenience of giving her a day of rest also.

How might you do this?  Think creatively and be generous in your plans towards her.  Perhaps she takes a different day as her sabbath and you take care of the home as she rests with the Lord.  Perhaps you and your family fasts on the day decided as a sabbath, so that no cooking needs to be done.  Or, perhaps you help her to prepare extra food the day before your sabbath and then everyone eats cold food on your day of rest.

Men, I can guarantee you that as you take a sabbath that both honours the Lord, and honours your wife, and teaches your children to do the same, your lives will be blessed and you will experience more of the Lord in all your earthly matters.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” Ephesians 5:25 ESV

There is no end of the creativity that can be taken to keep a sabbath day holy unto the Lord.  There is no right or wrong in any of this.  Remember, God has made the sabbath to be a day of rest for his people. 

It is a gift from God, and like all gifts the receivers must simply take the gift gratefully and make good use of it.

We do not make a sabbath into law for others, rather we take it as a day personally for ourselves and our family; we live it out in the spirit of a gift as God intended it to be for us.

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God”  Hebrews 4:9 ESV

And finally, we must remember that the Sabbath is not an excuse to neglect people. It is not a day meant to make solid habits of laziness and disregard for responsibility. It is also not a day to make others work harder so that you may take it easy.  The Spirit of a Sabbath is about generosity of time and of entering into the rest of the Lord.

“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.” Exodus 20:9-10 ESV

A rest is for everyone.  Facilitate this in your life and the lives of those around you and receive good favour from our Lord.  Taking a Sabbath brings us into the blessing of the Lord as children of God.

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honourable; if you honour it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”   Isaiah 58:13-14 ESV

Let’s Review

1.  Sabbath is a healthy rhythm of work and rest for our lives.

2.  A Sabbath is like a fast unto the Lord where we act out our trust in Him.

3.  Taking a Sabbath is an act of obedience whereby we respond to the Lord’s leading.

4.  A weekly habit of taking a Sabbath makes more space for God in our lives.

5.  A Sabbath can be any day of the week on which we choose to rest in the Lord.

6.  As married couples, come to agreement about the details of your Sabbath day of rest.

7.  Men, use the Sabbath to minister to your wives and children.

8.  Remember, to take the Sabbath as a gift for yourself, do not burden others with it.

As you walk with God and learn how to honour him and each other with a Sabbath I pray the Lord’s deep peace and joy upon you.  May your lives take on a new richness as you trust in Him.  Amen and Amen.

“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

Application

1.  Sit down, together with your spouse, before the Lord and think and pray.

Make a plan for establishing a sabbath rest, each week, in your home.  Try your plan. If it doesn’t completely work, then come back together and make a slightly different plan.  Try that plan.  Keep working the plans, shifting them and changing them as necessary, until you find a way for both yourself and your spouse to take a sabbath rest. 

  • Make it a joyful day in the Lord
  • Do something that brings you rest and refreshment
  • Trust the Lord for the work of your week
  • Enjoy your sabbath rest with the Lord

2.  For one month, keep a journal of your plans and sabbath days. (footnote below) 

Record what you are trying and how it is going.  Make note of your own struggles to rest.  Write down what the Lord is showing you and teaching you through this time.  Note:  this exercise and your journal is part of your final grade for this course.  Taking a sabbath is not just a nice thing to do, it is a command from the Lord.  So let’s take it seriously.

Summary – sabbath

Taking a day of rest grows and proves our trust in the Lord.  Isaiah 26:3-4

A Sabbath day is an act of worship.  Isaiah 40:31

Give a sabbath to your household as a gift from the Lord.  Hebrews 4:9

Stop, pause, and turn toward the Lord.  Isaiah 58:13-14

 

Footnote:

When we are establishing something for the first time it takes great effort to make it happen. This will be the same with establishing a day of rest each week. Know that you will have to put extra focus at the beginning. This is okay and very normal. 

One very important thing to keep in mind is to not speak too much about your plans. Please do not boast to your friend that you are going to take a sabbath day each week, for this is the surest way that your efforts will not succeed. The Bible is very clear that where we boast we usually fail. 

I suggest, therefore, that you make your plans with your spouse and then just DO the plan. Do not talk too much about it. Your energy and focus is required to take the sabbath, do not use your energy and focus to talk about taking a sabbath. Can you see the difference? You want to take the sabbath, not talk about taking the sabbath. 

So, as you go forward into your first month of seriously taking one day per week for rest, do this in humility and in a quiet way, so that you might be successful. 

Chapter 14: Our Journey

Chapter 14: Our Journey

This journey of walking with God is not always smooth.  We experience a lot of hurdles and bumps in the road.  There are times of confusion and disappointment.  There are times of frustration and upset.

These are really normal.  They are part of our experience as human beings.

Sometimes, especially when we are young in the Lord, we expect God to make everything great.

We think that if we walk with God then everything will go how we want it to go.

But this is rarely the case.  Using God in this way simply reveals us as children and God as something we would like to use.

God does not fix everything for us.  And the path he has us walk is not always smooth.  It is how we learn after all and how we come to rely on him.

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4  NLT 

As we walk with God there are a few things we can do to come to greater understanding of God’s leading and guiding of us.

1.  One is to have a bigger perspective than normal.  With God we are able to step back from our own experience and lives and look at things from God’s angle.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts”, says the Lord, “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”  Isaiah 55:8 NLT

How does he see this situation? How might God be leading me through this difficulty?  What might I learn from this?

“Joyful are those your discipline, Lord, those you teach with your instructions.” Psalm 94:12  NLT

There is not one wasted experience or situation in the Kingdom of God.

Everything is for our benefit and for our development. God is continually growing us and shaping us so that we can reflect Him more accurately and come to understand how much we are loved.

2.  The second thing is to allow options in our thinking.  We need bigger thinking.  Life is not all one way or another.  Often the Lord leads us in one way of thinking simply to get us to another spot.

God meets us where we are at and leads us from there.  He knows that we cannot make leaps in growth or understanding.

“Have you never heard?  Have you never understood?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of all the earth.  He never grows weak or weary.  No one can measure the depths of his understanding”  Isaiah 40:28 NLT

And so while we may think that ‘A’ is the answer, he knows that ‘F’ is really the solution. 

He takes us on journey’s of thought and practice to get us from ‘A’ (our thinking) to ‘F’ (his best solution).

This can be a disheartening journey.  Often we don’t really understand where he is taking us. But that is okay.

“Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser.  Teach the righteous and they will learn even more.”  Proverbs 9:9  NLT

While his leading is not a guarantee of our best wishes, he knows better than us what we need and is intent on getting us there.

God has our best interest at heart.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

3.  In this process he tests us again and again by having us lay down our desires.  Just like Abraham laying down his son’s life on the altar, we are tested the same.

Though we have good desires and pray for outcomes that will bring glory to God he sets up situations where time after time our motives are tested.

“Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.  Test my motives and my heart.” Psalm 26:2 NLT

Do we really want prayers answered for Him or for us?  Are we looking to the best interest of others, or of ourselves?

God brings hurdles and roadblocks to our lives to test us this way.  For he knows that with the wrong motives everything will come to an end.

“Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.”  Deuteronomy 8:2 NLT 

Our reasons for praying for this or for going after that must be refined and proven solid. 

Only then is He glorified and do our lives have real satisfaction.

Through all  of these things, 1) Learning to have bigger perspective, 2) Bigger thinking, and 3) Testing of our Motives, we mature and grow up.

Rather than little children who demand this or that, who cry out ‘But you said!’ we enter into a true partnership with the Lord.

“God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  1 Corinthians 1:9 NLT

We are wiser, we think differently, we pray differently, and we act differently.

God is in the people development business.  God is intent on growing us up into spiritual adults.

We welcome your growth in us Lord.  Thank-You.

Application

Take some time to think about your life and ask the Lord to show you how he has led you to where you are today. 

Each of our lives have undergone big changes from time to time.  We have transitioned into who we are today, and many of these transitions have been marked by what we call life-markers.  Life-markers are times in our history that we do not notice when we are in them, but looking back we can see them. 

Not everything that occurs in our lives are markers of transition. We cannot count everything in this way. Yet, it is a good exercise to look back on our lives and see and make note of how our life has progressed. 

Take some time before the Lord and with pen and paper.  If you are 30 years old or younger, identify 5 life-markers. If you are 30 years or older, identify 8 life-markers. 

A Life-Marker could be any of the following: 

  • an event in your life where you became a different person because of that time
  • a time where you had to grow and learn at a fast pace for the circumstances
  • a time when you had a thought or new understanding that changed the direction of your life
  • a crisis that changed your life in some way
  • a realization about yourself or about God that changed you as a person

You may have to begin by naming more life-markers than just five or eight, but narrow down your list to either five or eight life-markers, depending on your age. 

As an example, here are my life-markers: 

      1. accepted Christ at 6 years of age
      2. received the Holy Spirit and wisdom at 16 years old
      3. got married at 20 years and began having babies
      4. life fell apart from 30-35 years old
      5. began my inner healing journey in 2000
      6. hit by a car in 2005
      7. became single in 2009
      8. international launch of CCIM in 2011

Once you have your list of life-markers, look at each one and note 1-3 things that led up to that life-marker, and then note 1-3 effects of that time or event. 

For example – For my 6th life-marker:   ‘hit by a car in 2005’

leading up to this: 1. ignored a warning from God 

ongoing effects since then: 1. my career changed because of my physical limitations 2. my kids lives and family life became different because of my accident 3. I began seriously writing 4. today I write for many around the world 

As you can see in my own example, that getting hit by a car dramatically changed my life.  While that event was traumatic at the time, it was definitely not all bad.  In fact, that life-marker was a very important event in getting my life headed in the specific way that God wanted and with my becoming a more serious writer.  The impact is continuing to this day with this course and other materials used by pastors and leaders in many places. 

Now it is your turn: 

  • Make Your List of Life-Markers
  • Note 1-3 things that led up to that life-marker
  • Note 1-3 effects from that time or event

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • As you look at your list of life-markers what do you notice about your life? 
  • As you make note of the continuing effects from that time or event what comes to mind? 
  • As you look at your life-markers are you noticing anything new that you never thought about before? 
  • How has God worked through these things in your life?

Give Thanks to the Lord: 

Even though our lives contain both good and bad it is a valuable skill to be able to give thanks to the Lord in all things.  It is not easy to come through hard times and it is not easy to see God’s hand in our hard times.  I pray that through this exercise that you have been able to recognize where God has been in your life.  He is with us at all times even when it does not seem this way in the moments. 

Take some time before the Lord to thank him for your unique life-markers.  Thank him for where these things have brought you.  Thank him for what he has taught you through them.  Thank him for the continuing effects and the good that you can see from these things. 

Finally, claim your life and all of its parts for the glory of God.  Give praise to God for your life and dedicate it and yourself to him anew from this day on. 

Prayer

“God, I come before you today in thankfulness for my life and for your hand upon me.  I see that you have been with me even more than I realized.  Thank you.   Today I claim my life for the glory of God and in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank you Lord for the path you have had me on.  Although it has not always been easy I give it to you and I ask that you would use my entire life for your glory and honour and for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.  Thank you for giving me a part in your big plan for this earth and my communities and I give my life to your service in this.  Amen” 

Summary – our journey 

We can ask God for bigger understanding of our lives.  Isaiah 55:8

We take our thoughts captive to the purposes of the Lord.  Romans 12:2

We accept the testing of the Lord (it proves we are his child).  Psalm 26:2

We trust him for all we do not understand and cannot see.  1 Corinthians 1:9

We dedicate our lives to the glory of God.  Romans 12:1

Chapter 7. Worship

Chapter 7.  Worship

per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #32

Worship is an important part of our lives as believers.  Each Sunday around the globe finds multitudes coming together in praise to our Lord.

But what if worship is more than singing and dancing before God?  What if worship is intertwined throughout our lives and the manner of our hearts?

I propose that worship is much more than what we think it is; lets take a look and see.

1.  The Work of our Hands

In Colossians we find, 

“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 3:17 ESV

The work of a craftsman, an artist, a gardener, a builder, is also a way to worship.  There is no work that is more pious or sacred than any other work.  All that we put our minds and efforts to accomplish is holy unto the Lord as we commit it to him and invite him into it.

Today, be grateful for the work of your hands and give it the honour it deserves, and allow it to usher you into the presence of God as worship.

Today, honour and celebrate the work of other’s hands.  In this way we also worship our Lord who has equipped each of us for beauty and excellence in everything we do.

2.  Trusting God

The Psalmist writes,

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!  You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you!  I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.”  Psalm 40: 4-5 ESV

I suggest you read all of Psalm 40. It is a chapter thick with the presence of God when we remain in trust of him.  This is of course always the challenge.  How do we continue in trusting God when circumstances appear that we must do things on our own?

To remain steadfast and in trust of our God is also worship.  It is the refusal to give up on the character and goodness of God in our lives.  This will be tested time and again for trust is not easy to have.  But for those who remain in him, these ones prove their worship.

3.  Leaving Revenge to the Lord

“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.  He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.  Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”  Psalm 34:15-22 ESV

When we are under attack from others we often want to cry out and

• defend our reputation

• declare our innocence

• hurt those who are hurting us

But none of these things are the way of the Lord.  In fact, God calls us to a different way. God says, ‘leave it with me, trust me.’  And when we put our reputation, our innocence and our hurt into the Lord’s hands, trusting Him, we are worshipping.

Proving by our actions and our restraint to go after others we enter into another deep layer of trust and rest in the Lord, here our worship is pure and sweet.

4.  Treating Our Enemies Well 

In Matthew we read this one sentence, 

“And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”  Matthew 5:41 ESV

Jesus was talking in this passage about how we are to treat our enemies.  He was speaking to the jewish people who were under Roman rule.  Their very lives were always under scrutiny and oppression.  The Romans were present in the land and a law at the time was this: If you are on the road and a Roman soldier is going the same way as you, that soldier can make you carry his pack (his bag) for one mile.

The people obviously hated this.  It would have been like having dust and dirt ground in your face by the one you hate.  It would have been humiliating and degrading to carry the pack of your enemy.

So Jesus speaks of a better way.  A way above humiliation and degradation, and that way was to bless over and above the required amount.  If one mile is required then carry it for two.

As we overcome evil with good we step out of ought and should and law and we enter into love and good deeds that again prove our understanding of God and his ways and in this we enter into profound worship.

5.  Being an Honourable Person

Proverbs says, 

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

It is up to us to choose what we see and bear in our hearts.  We are commanded to keep our hearts with vigilance.  This means to take great care about what we put into our hearts and the thoughts and attitudes that come out of our hearts.

We are to be:

• honest and truthful

• patient and gracious

• holy and with a clean heart

• prayerful and trusting

• keeping our word

• gentle and kind

The manner in which we care for our hearts can also be worship.  Make good choices without excuses and here we also worship our Lord.

Honour him today and you will be honourable and your worship will be honourable.

6.  Being a Peace Keeper

In James we are admonished, 

“And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” 

 James 3:18 ESV

I suggest you read all of James 3.  This entire chapter is speaking about our language, the things we say and the spirit in which we say them.

It is a chapter about being careful with our tongues and our words.  The passage finishes off with this verse that speaks of peace.  We are told that righteousness is sown by peace.

This is important to know and to remember.  Righteousness does not come about by violence or under compulsion.  Rather, peace is our method if we are to be in the Lord.  Here too, as we seek peace and lead with peace we are worshippers.  In peace we honour the heart and ways of the Lord and here we also worship.

7.  Enjoying Ordinary People

Romans tell us, 

“Live in harmony with each other.  Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.  And don’t think you know it all!”  Romans 12:16 NLT 

As leaders and pastors we must leave our importance behind if we are to please the heart of our God. 

There is nothing more offensive than Christians who think they are better than everyone else.

In fact, arrogance and pride make filthy our worship.  When we think we know it all we leave no room for God or others to give us a hand, and this is offensive to the ways of the Lord where we are to be receiving from each other.

As we leave our importance behind, only then can we truly enter into worship. Enjoying ordinary people is our worship.

8.  Honouring People

And in Romans we read, 

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.” 

Romans 12:10 ESV

The love of our God is people.  It is for people that Christ came to earth.  It is for people that our Holy Spirit remains with us.  God is for us and as we are for others we come alongside the Lord.  This too is worship.

To be concerned with what concerns God is worship.  To take action and advocacy on behalf of others is exactly what Christ did for us and this too is our worship.  In fact, all of our lives can be summarized by how we have loved people.  This in fact proves our worship. 

We may very well come each and every Sunday to worship, but if our treatment of others is ill-kempt the rest of the week our worship is nullified.

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”  Matthew 5:23-24 ESV

And there is more.  Basically, in any way that we agree in words and heart and action with our God, this is worship.  For in the heart of worship is acknowledgment and due respect and honour proven by our actions and choices, by words and deeds.

Worship the Lord today and every day.

Prayer

“God we bring you our very lives and ask that worship would become a part of every day.  As we interact with our children, our spouses, our families, our neighbours, remind us that our kindness and care reveals our hearts of worship, or not. 

We want to express you through every part of our day.  Enable our actions to speak of you.  May the work I must do today be unto your glory and honour.  I worship you with my work. 

Teach us patience, trust, faithfulness, and peace that in all things my manner may worship you.  Renew my heart and my attitudes so that you are honoured in all things by my life and mind. 

Thank-you God for worship and adoration.  May my outer worship on a Sunday morning be supported and proven true by my actions and words and love the rest of the week.  With all honour to you Lord,  Amen.” 

Application

Our worship is proven, or disproven, by our integrity in all things.  Scripture gives us standards by which we can check ourselves to see how we are doing. 

  • Are we honest?  Leviticus 19:35
  • Do we honor others?   Romans 12:10
  • Are we kind and patient?  Colossians 3:12
  • How is your speech?  James 4:11-12
  • Do we respect our elders?  Leviticus 13:92
  • Are we gentle with children?  Ephesians 6:4
  • Do we work with diligence?  Luke 16:10
  • Do we make excuses or blame others?  Hebrews 12:15
  • Are we taking responsibility for our lives?  Luke 12:48b
  • Are we considerate of our co-workers?  James 3:17
  • Do we receive from each other?  Ephesians 5:21
  • Are we holding grudges?  Matthew 15:18
  • Are we people of peace?  Proverbs 14:30
  • Do you lead well?  1 Peter 5:3

These are just some of the questions we can ask ourselves. (15)

Again, in our walk with God we can bring all parts of our heart to him.  This kind of honest and authentic relationship is what he desires to have with us.  There is nothing too big for God and this includes every part of our hearts. 

And again, conviction and revelation of our hearts sin is a gift from the Lord; we cannot see our own sin without the Holy Spirit showing us our hearts.  So begin by inviting God to show you the sins of your heart and life, that you might be transformed by his power. 

1.  Invite the Lord to convict you and to bring to mind where you may be violating the heart of God. Write down what the Lord reveals to you. (16)

2.  Use the prayer process  to confess and repent of any areas of your life that do not reveal a true heart of worship to our Lord. 

3.  Take the time to pray through each thing the Lord reveals to you.  Do not rush this. Allow your heart to come into true repentance and a turning from the sins of your heart and life. 

4.  Become conscious of how you might change your habits.  For instance, if you have had a habit of holding grudges consider how you might come to God on a regular basis, confessing your hurt and leaving justice in his hands. 

5.  Ask the Lord to guide you as you continue to seek him on a daily basis.  Be consistent and diligent in your relationship with God.  Come to him each day and he will transform your life.  

Summary – worship 

Worship is much more than singing and dancing to God.  Colossians 3:14-17

Worship is how we: 

Live our lives.  Romans 12:1-2

Treat other people.  1 Peter 4:8

Go about our work.  Colossians 3:16

The Bible tells us to take care of things before we come to church.  Matthew 5:23-24

Worship is: 

Heart attitude.  Proverbs 4:23

Taking action to make things right.  Isaiah 1:17

This life-hearted worship pleases the Lord.  John 4:23-24

 

Footnotes: 

15. Note: We ask ourselves these questions. Do not take these questions and use them for your congregation this next Sunday. Begin with yourself and the Lord! Only in time, after you have done business with the Lord for yourself, are you free to take these things to those you serve. 

16. Remember to first set the space with the Lord, “I come before you God in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. I desire your revelation God. I declare that all lying, deceiving, and confusing spirits must be silent in the name and blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. I invite you God, to speak to me.”

17. From the Freedom Chapter (in the course found on Pages 31 – 34). Linked HERE

Chapter 1. The Great Expectation

CCIM College Course: Chapter 1.  The Great Expectation

( per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #19 )

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called:  Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6 NLT 

The story of Christ is a simple one. 

Long years back God created heaven and earth, land and sea, animals, fish, birds, and human kind. Men and women, male and female, we were created in the image of God. 

God, being love, orchestrated a great multiplication of love as the Spirit of God was breathed into and through us and as humans were mandated with filling the earth and taking great care of this world. These first humans were Adam and Eve.  Genesis 1:26; Genesis 2:7

There was though, one injunction, one command,  “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  Genesis 2:17 ESV

But, as we know, Adam and Eve did eat of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  The Bible tells us that immediately they became aware of their sin in crushing self-consciousness; they lost their innocence and ability to live life freely as children of God.  We are told they hid themselves, ashamed and broken. 

Yet, we then read the most amazing thing.  God came walking in the cool of the evening as was his habit. God came toward Adam and Eve, seeking them out to fellowship and walk together as in the days before. 

We then read that God, the creator of heaven and earth and everything in it, the one who birthed every good thing we know, killed one of his creations in order to cover over the shame and nakedness and embarrassment, the self-consciousness and sense of condemnation that Adam and Eve were experiencing. 

And God has been coming toward us ever since.  Even though our sin may seem offensive to God, he takes no offence. It is impossible to offend God because offence lies in the heart of the offended. 

Proverbs 19:11,  Ephesians 4:1-16,  Proverbs 17:9

God emulates his scriptures where we read in Ephesians, 

“.. with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:2-3 NLT 

And we must not forget this amazing passage in Romans, 

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 

No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Romans 8:38-39 NLT

We know that we all have sin as the Apostle Paul testified, 

“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.” Romans 7:18

But, God says, 

“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ Says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ “   Jeremiah 29:11 NLT 

The heart of God is for us.  God is for you!  God is your solution.  God is the solution to our dying, chaotic, broken, weary, world.  Matthew 11:28;  Jeremiah 31:25;  Revelation 22:17 

As we read in Romans, 

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”   Romans 5:17-21 ESV

You see, God is bigger than your sin.  God’s love washes away a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8

God took care of the sin problem some 2000 years ago.  

“He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”  1 John 2:2 NLT 

And so, we remain in expectation of God’s heart for us, over us, in us.  Jesus has done a great work for  us!  The gospel is NOT about what we do for God, but the gospel is about what God has done for us!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”  Ephesians 2:8 ESV

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”  Romans 5:11 NLT 

All through time God has continued to come toward us.  The Bible is the story of God intersecting our human experience, meeting us as people in all our various contexts and cultures.  

God is always communicating to you and to I.  Jesus is our priest and Holy Spirit is our leader and guide.  Look to the Lord. Cry out to God.  Call on the name of the Lord and things will go well with you.  

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:6-8 ESV

God is on for you.  God loves you.  God is restoring you.  Call on the name of the Lord. 

Application

The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (really, love and light and life) spilled out for us on the cross of Calvary, is the investment of God in our freedom, healing, transformation, and protection in this world and in the spirit realm. 

We can choose to come under the blood covering of Christ, or we can refuse.  All this means, is to accept that Jesus Christ has taken care of the death requirement that sin always demands (and mightily overcame it with life!).

Within the covering of Christ we are saved and kept in God. Outside of the covering of Christ we are on our own and without the protection of the Lord and without new life. 

When we accept Jesus as Saviour we accept his covering.  To accept his covering we put down our own best efforts, our striving, and our law-based thinking and behaviour.  To receive Christ is to turn from our own keeping of law and religion. 

Jesus Christ came to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  We must get this. 

Religion says, “You must sacrifice” — Jesus says, “I am the sacrifice”  Hebrews 9:11-15

Religion says, “You must try harder” — Jesus says, “Rest in me”  Matthew 11:28-30

Religion says, “You have failed” — Jesus says, “I am making all things new”  Rev. 21:5

Religion says, “You must obey your pastor” (1) — Jesus says, “I am your priest”  Hebrews 7:15-28

Our part is to stop trying to make ourselves right with God.  We cannot.  Galatians 2:18-19. 

Instead, we enter into His rest.  We truly accept and receive deep into our inner being the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.  Galatians 5:4

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you answer these next questions:

“Holy Spirit I come in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ.  I ask that you would reveal to me where I am still trying to keep the law and to make things right on my own.  Show me my errors of self-effort and of refusing to come into your grace.  Amen”  (2)

Find a quiet place to sit before God.  Ask these questions one at a time, waiting to hear what the Holy Spirit wants to show you.  Then write down your response to each question. 

1.  Holy Spirit, where am I still trying to make things right with God? (3)

2.  Holy Spirit, is there something in my life that I think is too big for the grace of God? 

3.  Holy Spirit, what area of my life am I holding back from God? 

The answers to each of these things must be brought to the cross of Jesus Christ and left there. 

We bring our self efforts, we bring our striving, we bring our pride that would want to be good and right, and we enter into Christ, for he alone has made (and is making) all things right. 

Galatians 5:1 (4)

“Jesus I enter into the blood covering that you provide for me.  I put down my striving and my self efforts. I am sorry.  I move from law and religion to your salvation which has paid the price for me.  I am free and I ask that you bring your freedom and life to my heart in a new way today.  I enter into your rest in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Summary – the great expectation 

The gospel is the story of God loving and making away for the restoration of all people. 

Isaiah 42:1-4,  Jeremiah 29:11,  Luke 4:18

We are caught in sin and brokenness.    Romans 3:23,  Proverbs 6:16-19,  Romans 1:28-31

God comes toward us in forgiveness.   Isaiah 1:18,  1 John 1:9,  Isaiah 53:5

God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Romans 5:8,  Isaiah 40:28-31,  John 1:1-5

God offers himself as our sacrifice.   John 3:16,  1 John 2:2,  Revelation 1:5

When we accept Jesus we accept his help.   2 Corinthians 5:17,  John 5:24,  Psalm 23:3

In Jesus, and Jesus alone, we are renewed. 1 Corinthians 15:22,  Galatians 5:1,  

Ephesians 2:8-9

We stop trying to make our lives good.   Acts 13:39,  Romans 5:1-5,  Titus 3:5-7

We stop trying to keep the law.   Proverbs 3:5-6,  Galatians 3:3-10,  Ephesians 2:8

We live unto God.   Jeremiah 24:7,  Romans 10:4,  2 Peter 3:18

 

Footnotes:

  1. We must take the passage about obeying our leaders and weigh it against all other scripture. The primary heart of this passage is about receiving what our leaders have for us. It is encouraging us to have a heart that is eager to hear their perspective and to take their wisdom into account. Do our leaders have good stuff for us? Certainly. Do our leaders have our best in mind? Of course. But this does not mean that we are to obey them as children obey their parents. It is not this kind of relationship. Acts 5:29 And good leaders will not demand obedience from their people. They know that each person is accountable to the Lord for their unique calling and gifting and to weigh-in too heavily in matters that do not belong to them is to risk touching the glory of the Lord as it is revealed in each other. We take great care in telling others what to do or not to do for we know that when we are working with people we are on Holy ground before the Lord. At the same time, for those increasing in the things of the Lord you must have a mentor or mentors. Learn from those older than you, those more advanced in the things of the Kingdom of God. Your humility and ability to receive from others is part of your protection in the Lord. Do not rush ahead of those who have wisdoms to extend to your life and spiritual growth and ministry.
  2. Note: this is very important as you cannot know this yourself. 
  3. NOTE: there are right things to do, but we cannot make ourselves right with God, only he makes us right with him
  4. Take the time to read the entire book of Galatians

Poverty Strongholds #5 – Mind Sets (faulty thinking)

Poverty Strongholds – Part Five – Mind Sets (faulty thinking)

  1. Demons
  2. Poor Stewardship – link to past article
  3. Lack of Knowledge (common sense)
  4. Mind Sets (faulty thinking)
  5. Lack of Holiness
  6. Agreements with the Enemy
  7. Bad Theology
  8. Blaming & Excuses
  9. Refusing to be a Blessing
  10. Pain Upon Pain

Today we look at Mind Sets, or faulty thinking and how the way we think may be keeping us locked into cycles of poverty.

On the Poverty Strongholds graphic I have faulty thinking noted as: 

  • layers of denial, optimistic without seeing reality
  • superstitious thinking and beliefs
  • rushing to conclusions (already addressed in Lack of Knowledge)
  • stuck on letter of the law without the spirit of the law
  • little innovation, stuck on how it’s always done
  • assuming bigger is better

In brief I will add some understanding to each one of these.

Layers of Denial: 

Layers of denial are habits of thought that keep us protected from bad news and from grief but also keep us from clarity and reasoning that can move us forward. Like the woman I mentioned in my first post under faulty thinking, she is protecting herself from the raw knowledge that she married a man that does not love her. He is refusing to care and commit to her, is using her for sex (unprotected sex even, as more children are added to compound her poverty), and meanwhile she continues in a habit of thought that continues to hold out hope.

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Poverty Strongholds – Part One

We were more than halfway through our ministry trip in Uganda. We had been alongside many, many pastors, had stayed in many homes, and had been to many districts and villages and churches.

So far, we had been experiencing a bounty of thought and action, of hospitality and sufficiency. Those we were alongside knew that God was caring for them, knew that life was good albeit hard, and out of that delighted in their care of us.

But then we ran across some thinking and perspectives that glared out at us as a poverty mindset extraordinaire all rolled into one. They claimed poverty as their biggest challenge and relayed to us stories of how the enemy was confounding everyone, literally everyone, in that surrounding area.

Now, we had heard bits and pieces of this same thinking in the months prior, but somehow it all came together in stark reality — all poverty was blamed on the devil; it was ALL satan’s fault.

Now, while we know that satan’s plan is one of destruction we could not abide by the belief that everything bad and wrong was of the enemy without any responsibility from the humans involved. If this were the case, then we would all be victims forever more, the end.

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The Work of Death

God delights to meet with His people. Gathering, walking, talking, abiding in each other’s presence, this is the agenda and heart of God and all of His efforts ever since the beginning of time have been unto relationship, and since the fall, have been about restoring relationship.

Within the text of Genesis, right at the start in chapter three, we find God restoring dignity to mankind and covering over what had already been lost.

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21, is not just a nice little verse about the newest fashions of the day. It is about God interrupting created order for the sake of his children. God the creator of all things, the one who sustains all life, kills one of his creatures for the benefit and blessing and restored dignity of both Adam and Eve.

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Capturing God’s Heart – Love – Volume 36

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.

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For Men

Some weeks ago we had a specific request from one of our pastors in India,

“Sister I need a study or a sermon on husband and wife relationship according to Bible or marital life with Christ because in our church we have many broken families. Women are hard working and their husbands are fully drunkards and they beat their wives like anything. Kindly I need a sermon like how they can change their husbands”

We acknowledge that without the inner transformative power of our Lord Jesus Christ none of us can ever be changed. This material simply seeks to take men through a short study of the scriptures in regards to the value of every human being, forgiveness and redemption found at the cross of Christ, the heart of God over each of us and how these things play out in the roles and responsibilities of leadership and within the context of marriage.

We pray the Lord’s quickening of our words, but we particularly agree to the quickening of His words found in scripture. This we have sought to faithfully give.

We share the entire content in this post. Please find the pdf for your easy downloading HERE

 

Stewardship

In this life everything we are given is a gift from God. Right from the beginning of the world God put Adam and Eve as overseers and stewards of all He had made.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15

To be a steward is to be given a trust, to be entrusted with something. As stewards of God’s kingdom we will all answer to Him one day for what we did or didn’t do with what we were entrusted. Our actions matter, the choices we make matter.

We have responsibility to God for how we live our lives and the manner in which we go through our days. We have responsibility in regards to how we treat each other. We will give account for how we brought the Spirit of Christ into all of our dealings.

Yet right from the beginning things have gone wrong. Adam and Eve sinned in not believing God and ever since men and women have tried to do life apart from Him. It hasn’t turned out so well.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

There has been much conflict and difficulty. We use and abuse each other. We hurt and cause harm to others and ourselves. It is easy to see that we are lost without God’s touch upon our hearts and minds and lives.

Thankfully God stepped in by sending his son Jesus Christ to take care of our sin natures.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

The good news is that Jesus takes full responsibility for the things we have done to each other. He bore the burden of our sin on the cross. We are told that we can now take hold of this new gift of life and grace that Jesus made possible for us.

We simply receive Christ and the gift of life that he bought for us,

“Jesus I realize that there are many things I cannot make right. There are many things that I struggle with and on my own these are just too much. But I hear that you are interested in walking alongside me and within me. I’d like this. I agree today to your redeeming my life and me. I want to do life with you. I welcome you to guide me and to show me how to live. Amen”

As we turn toward Jesus Christ He enables us to live different kinds of lives with ourselves and with others.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Our spiritual eyes are opened in new ways and we begin living differently.

Women are Equal Partners

One of the first ways that God’s heart begins to show through our hearts is in our treatment of each other. Receiving God’s love and grace and forgiveness into our own lives enables us to show God’s love and grace and forgiveness to others. We are supernaturally equipped to do life.

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

For men this begins at home with your wife and children. Whenever any of us come to God, turning to Christ, we realize every single human being has incredible value and worth. God has made every single one precious in His sight.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

We find in fact that men and women are created equal in God’s sight and we recognize where we have been unjust in our treatment of the women around us.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

At the same time we are often stuck in patterns of ill treatment towards each other. Here too we turn to Christ and invite and rely on Him to change us from the inside out.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10

We are all entrusted with the hearts of each other to care for, to nurture, to love. A man is gifted and entrusted with a wife; she is his most important stewardship opportunity. One day each man will stand before God and answer for the way he treated her and her children.

You are Enough in Christ

This is a big task and the most important work of all. You have been gifted for the task as you live in God. You are enough in Christ for all the difficulties that might come your way. We are told,

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,”   2 Peter 1:3

In regards to difficulties and this life we have some great promises of God to hold onto and to give us strength.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” Psalms 91:1-6 (read all of Psalm 91)

Life has Problems and Pain but also Healing and Redemption

It is not easy of course. Life is difficult and we as men and women have grown up receiving our own hurts and harms from our parents and those who raised us. Sometimes we take the pain in our own hearts and pass it on to those around us. In fact, it is often those closest to us that get the worst of our behavior.

Sometimes it is our own bitterness and hatred that drives us to hurt others. Whether it has been hurts given us by others or the bitterness that we carry, these things we can give over to God. Here too, instead of managing poorly in dealing with hurts and hatreds we simply turn to God with them. We give ourselves over to God.

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.” Acts 3:19

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8

And as we turn to God with our hurts and our hatreds God relieves us of these great burdens; we were never meant to carry hurt and hatred and bitterness. This is the great news of Jesus Christ; we can be new people because Jesus came to carry our pain.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

We must remember that Christ died not only to remove our sin but also to cover over the sin of others against us. As we give our hurts to God and he replaces them with peace and patience and with gladness and joy. We can learn to treat others with the peace and patience that we ourselves have received from God.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

One day at a time

We live this new way one day at a time. Change comes bit by bit. Sometimes we still hurt over our past but as we come close to God we are told that he comes close to us. In this way we are changed into the image of God. He tells us we are loved.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Each day we begin with, “God I invite you into today. Welcome into my relationships today. I give you my pain and my sorrow. I receive from you your peace and gladness. May I walk in you today. May I treat my wife and children as you would have me treat them. Help me to love them as you love them; thank-you for the gift that they are in my life. Amen” 

Commitment to a bigger way – gentleness, vulnerability

Walking each day with the Lord grows our awareness. We begin to understand things that we never thought of before. We realize that we don’t know everything like we once thought we did. And we see that we have made mistakes.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

These new insights can make us feel vulnerable and unsafe. “What if others reject me?” we may ask.

Before we thought that powerful was being scary and mean. Now we begin to see that the most powerful people are those who are gentle and kind. We realize that to influence and to grow others, that we must have bigger thinking and understanding. We begin to see that we can have a good impact in this world.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:12-14

Loose off Guilt by the Power of Jesus Christ

But it is hard to take on new ways when we are burdened by the guilt of the old ways. The good news is that Jesus Christ died to carry your guilt. He became the scapegoat that takes away the sins of the world. No longer do we look at each other, nor ourselves with wrath and hatred and contempt.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

We therefore give our guilt to God, “God I see this day all the wrongs that I have done. The guilt of these things are too much for me. I am tired and worn down by my guilt. Today I renounce this guilt in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and I put all guilt at the foot of the cross. I declare my guilt covered in the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ, washed away. I simply stand as a new creation in Christ and I receive your forgiveness God. Thank-You.”

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

And as we do this we are told that Jesus comes to us and eats with us. He initiates forgiveness and restoration and peace to community and family.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Take on His Compassion and Sacrificial Service

Once we have given our guilt to God and felt the release of His Spirit over our lives we can enter into compassion and sacrificial service. Where before we condemned others for our bad things, we now release others to be as God created them to be. Then we find ourselves released to love and serve them.

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2

We realize that we are all sinners. We all make mistakes. The difficulties of this world have impacted all of us. We are no better or less than anyone else. Because of this we find new compassion flowing over us and we are now able to be compassionate to others.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Our eyes and understanding are opened to the good that others are trying to do. We see people with grace and understanding and this includes our wife and children. We begin to treat them better too.

All of this is possible because we remain in Jesus Christ, turned toward Him each day.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4 

Jesus Models Regard for Women

When Jesus was on earth he modeled a very different kind of respect and regard for women. Traditionally all over the world and all through time women have been treated very badly. It is as though Satan has a particular hatred for women. But Christ came to show a different way.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

  • Jesus’ own ministry was supported through partnership with women.      Luke 8:1-3
  • He refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery. John 8:1-11
  • He took the time and risk to speak to the Samaritan woman. John 4:5-42
  • He visited and taught women, most particularly Mary whom he commended for her heart to learn from him. Luke 10:38-42
  • A woman anointed Jesus (Jesus came under her authority to anoint him). Mark 14:3-9
  • After he was raised from the dead he showed himself first to the women. John 20:1-18

His was a special relationship with women, one of full regard and respect and love for them. Jesus counteracted the culture of his day, and of ours, where women are ill treated, abused, and considered a throw-away commodity. Consider this,

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7

There are four vital principles for husbands in this one verse:

  1. Live with your wife in an understanding way
  2. Show honor to her as a weaker vessel
  3. Know that women are heirs also to grace and the kingdom of God
  4. Do this so your prayers will be answered

Principle one and two is a practical suggestion based on the physical ability of women. We know today that physically women are weaker than men; men have three layers of muscle while women have two layers of muscle. From a purely physical stand point women simply are not as strong as men.

Because of this Peter is admonishing men to recognize this and to relate differently with their wives, to live in understanding of them.

Where two men might ‘fight it out’ we are told in the Bible that this is not the way between men and women. To beat a woman is to overwhelm her with violence both to her body and her heart.

Do not beat your wife. To do so is to dishonor her and it is a dishonor of God who made her; she is equal to you, treat her as such. Show her honor and regard and love.

For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain.”  Titus 1:7

God feels so strongly about this that we are told that a man’s prayers will be hindered to the same degree that he dishonors and ill-treats his wife. (1 Peter 3:7 as above)

We find similar admonition towards care for wives in Malachi,

“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” Malachi 2:16

In many cultures around the world women are treated as disposable commodities. They are cast off at the least little thing and regarded as interchangeable and considered to be made only for man’s pleasure and convenience. We know this to be false for every single person, man, woman, child is made in the image of God.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

God is saying to not treat your wife as less than yourself. God declares her equal before Him. To cast her off, to beat her, to dishonor her, is to curse your self with layers of violence. By dishonoring her you dishonor yourself. Men, rather, are to serve their wives as Christ served the church.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25

“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28

“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:19 

Men head of the household – leaders take 100% responsibility

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Ephesians 5:23

We know today that to be the head of something is to take 100% responsibility. The one in leadership is entrusted with the care and outcome of that thing and this is in regard to business, organizations, churches, and relationships of all sorts including marriage.  You are responsible.

We also flip this around and assert that the one taking 100% responsibility is the one leading; for authority and responsibility go hand in hand. To have authority is to have responsibility. To have responsibility is to have authority.

Yet not authority to lord it over, to belittle, to put down, to curse, this type of authority is that of Satan. The authority of Jesus Christ, and of all those who follow him, is that of lifting up, of honoring, of encouraging and bringing blessing where there has been cursing.

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11

Quite simply we can tell the quality of a man by the look in his wife’s eyes. A woman well cared for shines. A woman despised carries grief and sorrow and it shows on her face and in her posture.

If your wife is your crown we ask, “how shiny is your crown men?” How bright eyed and lovely is your wife. A woman’s beauty comes from deep inside her soul. This beauty is released as she is regarded, respected, with genuine care and concern.

As leader and head of his wife a man will stand before God one day and answer for what he has done to her. Does she reflect beauty and confidence or is she sad and despondent?

Like all actions in leadership this is a place that refuses to cast blame and refuses to make excuses. Rather men of leadership quality seek answers and solve problems, remembering the grace of our Lord.  They remain in Christ as we spoke of earlier. Most of all they lead well and take great care of the hearts that have been entrusted to them. 

You are More Powerful than you Know

You have the power to make your wife shine. Each day ask your wife how she is doing. See if there is anything she might need help with. Thank her for all she does for you and for your household. Bless her for being the mother of your children.

Touch her in non-sexual ways, with simple touch let her know that you see her as a human being and valuable to God. Tell her how much you appreciate her. Thank the Lord for her daily.

Be a safe person for your wife. Do not make her responsible for your fears, your insecurities, your anger, and everything that has gone wrong in your life. These things, and we all have these, are to be taken before the Lord on a daily basis. Find your center in the Lord and become a blessing to your wife and children.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Look into her eyes and acknowledge her. Listen to her. Take time to just sit alongside her for a time each day. You do not have to fix everything. Simply assure her that you are for her and not against her. She will begin to shine.

God has made women to pour out to all those around her. Women are wired to be generous and to give their lives away. Who is pouring into her? Who is filling her up so that she can continue in this life-giving manner given her? You, her husband, are to be the one pouring into her.

Just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her, so too are men to be sacrificially giving their lives to their wives. What and how might you encourage and strengthen and gladden your wife’s heart? Serve her. Help her. Offer her your strength so that her strength may not wither away.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 

Stand before God, well done!

One day we will all stand before God and we would like to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.” As husband and head of your wife and home, as the one taking on 100% responsibility this is both an awesome and terrifying opportunity.

The first thing to do is found in Proverbs,

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

The second thing to do is to receive from your wife. She has been uniquely wired to help you be widely successful. God has given her special gifting to help you. Listen to her. She has wisdom, insights, and understanding that you do not have.

It is a foolish man who will not receive (from his wife) all that she has to give him.

“Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21

Submission is in many ways about receiving. Submission is about coming under the unique gifting of each other for mutual benefit and blessing.

Receive from your wife and you will be more successful than if you try to do life on your own. It is the wise man that walks in understanding with his wife, creating for her safety and security that she might share her heart, her insights, her wisdom.

For when a man listens to his wife in this way he becomes wiser too. And he benefits from this gift given him called a wife.

The quality of a community, a church, a home can be determined by how the women and children are treated. Be a quality man, be part of a quality church, lead a quality home that treats women well. Bless them and do not curse them. Give to them, serve them, help them.

How might your wife be best served today? Ask the Lord and ask her. She will tell you. The Lord will direct you.

“Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.” Psalm 25:12-13

Whatever good you think of doing for her do it! Each and every day do the thing that comes to mind that will help and care for her. In this way you will find God’s particular favor coming into your life and home.

For God has entrusted your wife and children to you as most precious gifts. She does not belong to you. Your children do not belong to you. They are created in the image of the most high God and belong to Him. Treat them well for they are Gods.

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”     Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Capturing God’s Heart – Holiness – Volume 30

Holiness is the call of those who claim to know God.

Holiness is the work of the cross done first in our own lives.

Holiness is our personal proving ground before we head out with the gospel to others.

Before Christ we were enslaved to our flesh. Our hungers were focussed on our physical body and our heart sins. We lied, we cheated, we were licentious and gluttons.

It was easy to hate. It felt good to slander. We brought others low so we could feel big. We were consumed with how we could bring pleasure to ourselves.

Then we came to know Christ.

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