Posts Tagged ‘gracious’

Pulling On God’s Heart

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among My people… If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” (2 Chron 7:13-15).

Ministry Breakthrough:

Our Lord Jesus said fasting would be necessary for His disciples when He was no longer with them in person. “The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast” (Mt 9:15). Notice Jesus is giving the impression that the disciples would need to fast in order to pull information out of the spiritual realm after He was gone.

The early disciples remembered the words of Jesus and made fasting a vital part of their spiritual lives, especially when breakthrough was needed. The outstanding work God accomplished through them speaks for itself. They could easily hear God speak to them through prayer and fasting and so their activities in ministry were more effective.

Just imagine the scene as those disciples were worshiping and fasting. The Holy Spirit spoke with amazing clarity. “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them“. So after they fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them into ministry (Acts 13:2-3).

Personal Breakthrough:

We must recognize the value of fasting and prayer, as we consider our own heart toward God. Many times in my life, I have seen wilderness experiences turned into opportunities for promotion, simply because of fasting. Turning sorrows into joy and mourning into dancing, must not be left to chance or opportune times. We must move into our responsibility as stewards of our spiritual destinies, because we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Prayer and fasting will separate us from spiritual laziness, where we stop expecting God to bring success and lay it at our feet. Jesus told His disciples that when they prayed and fasted, God would reward them publicly… openly (Mt 6:18). I have watched God move with Kingdom resources when I gave myself to fasting.

“Even now, declares the Lord, return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and He relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:12-13).

If Only

This is what the Lord says- Your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isa. 48:17-18)

“If Only… you had paid attention to My Commands!”

These words echo in the heart of those who live with regrets. We have all found ourselves off track to some degree… with strange perceptions, bad choices and wasted opportunities. Many times in our self-absorbed lifestyles, we think that we are doing the right thing or going in the right direction only to find out that we have been wrong. We hit the wall or reach the end of the rope and cannot find our way out. Some have so damaged their future that recovery would require a miracle. Life is not something we should guess at or rush into, but problems are often the high price we pay for trying to please everyone around us. Perhaps you have felt the shame and embarrassment that follows these words… “if only I had paid attention” to God.

Losing Peace:

God has given us all that we need for life and godliness in His Word and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:2-4). He knows what is best for us and He desires to teach us those things, because He loves us. Unfortunately we sometimes refuse what God teaches us and insist on doing our own thing. When we do this, we eventually find that we have lost our peace and our life gets full of unnecessary problems and difficulties.

God is Gracious:

God will not leave us in our confusion if we are willing to return and recover what has been lost. His arms are always open for us and He is always waiting for our return. Although we hear within our soulish man, “If only you had listened”, God does not leave us in defeat if we will come to Him in faith. We often beat ourselves up with the “if only’s”. If only we had not done this or if only we had done that instead. But in spite of what we have done, there is hope in God!

God holds out a wealth of righteousness… His Mercy, invites us into a fresh peace that flows like a river and washes over us like the waves of the sea.

Shifting the Focus:

We cannot change the past, but we can shift the focus and live beyond the regrets of the past. Jesus tells us, “YOU ARE FORGIVEN!”. This changes everything inside of us, when we know we are free of the past, free of the guilt and free of the entanglements. The chains that have held us fall lifelessly to the floor, so we can begin anew. We can begin today with the right choices and listen to God’s instructions for Kingdom life. We can begin now with fresh perspective and limitless possibilities. In return God will cause us to walk in the righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).

Life to the Fullest:

Have you gotten off track and done your own thing only to find that you have lost your peace and brought unnecessary problems into your life? Take ownership of your future and shift the focus… living beyond your regrets is a matter of choosing who gets to speak into your heart. God’s invitation is not to control you, but to free you to enjoy life to the fullest.

The key is to hear His heart: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you.”

Blessing & The Face of God

“The Lord bless you, and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

The blessing that God commanded Moses to proclaim over Israel, contains the Father’s heart for His people. In these words we are introduced to the essence of relational blessing… the seeing of His face and the authentic joy of reflecting the light of His countenance. God loves for His face to be seen and His heart to be experienced. He loves for His Glory to shine upon His people. Why? So others see the reflection and are drawn to investigate! David adding this wonderful statement, “That Your ways (God’s ways) may be known upon the earth” (Ps. 67:2). It is one of the most important priorities of God… that His children shine with the light of His countenance and reflect the family resemblance.

“Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord in the light of Your countenance.” (Ps. 89:15)

Seeing His Face:

The face of God radiates with joy and reveals the power of unconditional love! When you see His face, the result is overwhelming. His joy captures the heart and creates within us the sound of joy. It is this sound, the joy of abounding love that enables God’s people to shine with the light of His Glory. Walking in the light of His countenance is the most effective way to conquer sin, overcome our frailties and fight the good fight of faith. God has made us in such a way that when we see His countenance through the “eyes” of our spirit, we reflect His very nature. We are invited to know His heart and experience His mercy, His goodness and blessing. In fact, this is the essence of the ministry of the Holy Spirit… to make the Glory of God visible in the face of Jesus for all men to see with spiritual eyes. The process of restoration, healing, deliverance and all that would accompany salvation… are all products of seeing the face of God with clarity. We are offered the opportunity to see who He really is… and who we can become when we walk in the light (1 Jn. 1:7). We then become a living testimony, a reflection of His countenance to others.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:6)

The 3-Fold Nature of God’s Blessing:

  1. Security – He promises to “keep” us! (Phil. 1:6)
  2. Grace – He promises to be “gracious” to us… to give us favor! (Rom. 5:20-21)
  3. Peace – He promises to give us “peace” (shalom)… nothing missing, nothing broken! (Heb. 4:9)


The Heart of Conflict

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk. 16:14-15)

Don’t you hate it when you see a little “pharisee” in yourself? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could simply renounce old habits and selfish behavior and respond to conflict in a gracious and constructive way? Let’s face it, as conflict arises peace is stolen and replaced by a spirit of strife! It’s not an easy task – staying clear of conflict. In order to break free and stay free, we need to understand why we react to conflict the way we do.

Its an Issue of the Heart!

Jesus provides us with clear guidance on this issue!

During His earthly ministry, a young man approached and asked Jesus to settle an inheritance dispute with his brother. “Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Lk. 12:13-15).

Recognize the Traps:

This passage reveals a common human pattern. When faced with conflict, be on guard against all kinds of greed. Greed lives on the inside of us! We tend to focus passionately on what our opponent has done wrong or should do to make things right. In contrast, God always calls us to focus on what is going on in our own hearts when we are at odds with others. Why? Because our heart is the wellspring of all our thoughts, words, and actions, and therefore the source of our conflicts. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Mt. 15:19).

The Heart’s Central Role in Conflict:

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (Jms. 4:1-3)

Conflicts arise from unmet desires in the heart – greed! When we feel we cannot be satisfied unless we have something we want or think we need, then that desire turns into a demand called greed. If someone fails to meet that desire – we judge, condemn and quarrel. We fight to get our way. Conflict arises when desires grow into demands and we judge and fight with those who get in our way.

But the Heart has Power:

Love, honor & trust… these are words of worship! These are the words that overcome conflict when they are positioned perfectly in the heart of a fervent believer. Jesus calls us to love God, honor God, and trust God… and God Alone! (Mt. 22:37)(Lk. 12:4-5)(Jn. 14:1) Worship is a powerful tool to overcoming conflict… its an attitude of the heart!

Anytime we cherish, fear, or trust in something more than God, to make us happy; it is the worship of false gods… “idolatry”.

I know it sounds harsh, but greed is idolatry and it has levels of influence. It often goes unrecognized until we are knee deep into a quarrel. The quarrel itself is just a symptom of a deeper issue. That’s when we find ourselves wondering, “how did we even get into that mess!” Well, something was sitting in the heart waiting to be defended.

But, when our focus is on worship – rejoicing in Christ, walking in gentleness and prayerfully considering everything that gets in our way; then the believer has a greater platform of self-control. Greed and idolatry are diffused of their control and the heart is guarded by the peace of God that goes beyond our understanding (Phil. 4:4-7).

Delight Yourself in God!

Find your greatest joy in thinking about your loving Heavenly Father, meditating on His works, talking to others about Him, praising Him, and giving Him thanks for all that He has done. Delight yourself in Jesus and look into His eyes by faith, consistently and longing for His mercies to become fresh every morning. Wait on the Holy Spirit and listen before you speak… there might be a divine appointment in that moment of hesitation. Consider these powerful promises as spiritual keys to avoiding conflict.

  • “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4)
  • “My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long.” (Ps. 71:8)
  • “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18)

Put God First!

“But seek first (strive and pursue) the Kingdom of God (His ruling Dominion) and His righteousness (right standing, purity and holiness), and all these things (necessities of life) shall be added to you.” (Mt. 6:33)

I have learned that spending time with God is a vital necessity in my life. Something amazing is adjusted in my mind and ministered to my heart when I make God my first and highest pursuit. In fact, I cannot do what I am called to do if I don’t seek the Presence of God every day… early and passionately! I need that supernatural peace and sense of anointing that I feel in His Presence! If I don’t make time for God first, then everything else seems to become more difficult… at times even falling apart or hitting the inevitable “wall of resistance”.

Selfish Ambition is Subtle!

Selfish ambition often masquerades as important priorities in our daily routine. Yet when we hit the wall of resistance, it is because God is speaking… calling us to His side for fellowship. You see, God apposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Jms 4:6). Its my own pride and selfish ambition that stand as barriers to living the life that Christ has promised… the abundant and overflowing life (Jn. 10:10). The abundant life is the Holy Spirit directed life. What I am continually reminded of is that God is waiting for me to begin the conversation and He will spend as much time with me as I will give Him… as much time as it takes for grace to begin to flow.

Quality, not Quantity:

If you measure your seeking by the amount of time, and set a timer for 30 minutes or 3 hours; you might find you feel nothing and believe there is no value in putting God first. But we must realize, time in God’s Presence is measured by quality, not quantity. He is waiting for the shifts in your mind and heart!

“Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.” (Isa. 30:18)

Jesus tells us to repent, or change the way we think and see… for the Kingdom of God is at hand (Mt. 4:17). Indeed, the Kingdom of God is within reach and we can experience its influence when we set our minds and hearts for encounter. This shift of setting our “inner pursuit” is the connection He looks for… its our ability to enter into His fellowship, find His counsel and pursue His priorities. This is what honors Him most and releases His grace like showers of blessing in our lives. The best part is that by pursuing what pleases God… empowers us to accomplish more and experience peace that goes beyond our understanding.

Putting God first every day, allows every thing in life… to find its proper place!

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