Dare To See Yourself!

Dare To See Yourself!

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy. Proverbs 14:10 NIV

Here’s a challenge for everyone today. Get a mirror or go to the mirror in your bathroom or in your car. Take a good look at yourself and be willing to see the depths of your soul through the windows of your eyes. What do you see?

Do you see joy or sadness?

Do you see love or hate?

Do you see angst and bitterness?

Do you see helplessness or hope?

What do you really see?

Think about that for a moment. Now think about “why” you see what you see.

Far too often, people are bitter and hateful because they do not recognize the seed that has been planted by circumstances beyond their control. That includes how parents raised them or not raised them (love and hate are taught)–the struggles they fought through on a daily basis–or the envy and jealousy they felt when they looked at others and wondered, “Why them and not me?”

I have a better question for everyone to wonder about–why not you?

Look, every morning (because of my age) I take a good look at myself in a magnifying mirror so I can “see” the hair growth and pluck it out before I leave the house. Some women don’t care, but I do. Nothing creeps me out like discovering I left the house with a long, curly black hair sticking out my face (chin) wherever it might be. But now here’s the tricky part–cataracts are forming in both eyes and even when I look before I leave, I don’t always see the ornery little hair trying to escape detection. When I “feel across my chin” even the tiniest hair is discovered and back into the bathroom I go with my trusty little tweezers until the culprit is gone.

Even though I get a little put out when I miss those hairs, it’s nothing that compares to how I feel when I know I have slighted someone–unintentionally–and when I look at myself–I recognize when I’ve headed in the wrong direction and immediately, I repent.

Though life’s circumstances (in the last 65 years) have provided plenty of fodder and fuel and fertilizer to nurture bitterness and disappointment--I refuse to let it grow. God has been too good to me to allow a seed of bitterness to linger in my soul and bud, attempting to flower and spread like an ivy throughout my being. So, I allow His love to flood my soul and heart–washing away the bitterness and disappointment–never allowing hate to bud or flower and every time–every time–I get angry and want to hate–He reminds me He is love and if I truly belong to Him; I cannot hate. What a wonderful feeling–to have so much love within that hate has no room to enter.

Now, have you had time to really look at yourself and think about what you see? If you haven’t, keep looking and dare to see beyond the surface, all the way down to the depths of your feet.  Is there anything there that needs to be plucked out? Do you have a trusty pair of tweezers?

Own what you see and be willing to rid yourself of anything that will nurture bitterness and hate and allow the Love of God to fill you to overflowing and the world will see–the joy that resides within.

This joy I have–the world didn’t give it and I won’t let the world take it away!

exploration

When Souls Are at Risk!

When Souls Are at Risk!

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:19-26 NIV

Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.Proverbs 16:8 NIV

Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool— how much worse lying lips to a ruler! Proverbs 17:7 NIV

How do we lose our soul? By trying to live according to man’s dictates rather than living by The Word of God and obeying what we hear Him say to us.

When man thinks it is more important for people to listen to them, than to God, souls are at risk. Since I’ve never been one to try to please people, I try to make sure my soul–my soul–remains in position to be blessed by God, knowing where my eternity shall be spent. All is well with my soul!

Now, because of my love for God and the desire to please Him, what I do is often misinterpreted as being an act of disobedience by some who think they know more than God. I realize that God has given us all a gift–specifically–purposed by Him, for Him. Though I did not recognize the gift as a child when I was always the one trying to maintain peace among kids on the playground and in school, I do recognize it now. He has always used me to fight for the underdog–those who were not capable of speaking up for themselves or not willing to do so because of fear.

Looking back at the endeavors I’ve undertaken, I can see how I was being prepared for such a moment as this. I’ve always been a community activist–fighting for justice and equality for the oppressed. I’ve never had a lot of money, but what I had, I often used to help others in need and God has tremendously blessed my life. So, I know when I hear God speak to me and another–I will not hear. I will not be tempted by religious affiliation to steer others onto a path that is not of God.

When trying to choose between two job offers–one that paid more money and was fairly secure and the other that paid less and offered no job security, but involved defending the rights of poor people. I prayed and found in His Word the right path for me–taking the job that paid less, but enriched my life.

I’ve spent years volunteering my time and skills to help others who could not afford to pay for the services I rendered, but the joy of the Lord was kept alive in my heart by their gratitude, not their money.

As an educator–my purpose was to give those students I taught what they needed to succeed beyond the walls of a classroom and when I see some of them now, they let me know how much they appreciate me–pushing them to do their very best.

And now I understand more than ever how important it is to hear God for ourselves and obey what He’s telling us today. I am still an avenger for justice and though I lose the approval of man, I know I have the approval of God when I obey Him, rather than man.

Until the end comes–the end of life or the end of my ability to type–I will obey God because my soul is too important for me to heed the words of mere mortals over the voice of God. My soul belongs to Jesus and another will not cause me lose my place in eternity, simply to pacify another mere mortals with religious rhetoric.

Lord, I thank You for giving me another opportunity to glorify You in all I do. Forgive my reluctance to act even sooner, not obeying what I heard You say, out of concern for what others might think, because I didn’t understand, clearly. I will hear and obey–whether I understand it or not so people will not have to live under the dictates of fearmongers and hatemongers who pretend to know You, but don’t. And now I ask Your continued blessings and wisdom to be poured into all who desire to please You as we continue our journey to defend the rights of the poor, needy and oppressed.

Understanding Our Ministry Purpose!

” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:9-13 NIV)

Christ, Himself gave gifts to men and women to function in the roles of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers–all promoting The Word and how to live a Godly life–so that all in the Body of Christ will know what they are to do and how they are to live.  Christ did not set up denominations or religions to divide those who Believe Him, but to bring all who believe into unity–one purpose–teaching all, what God said in preparation for His return.

The ministry gifts–given to those chosen to function in those offices are accompanied with the Spiritual gifts as noted in I Corinthians 12:7-11 (a separate lesson coming soon). All of the spiritual gifts are given as Holy Spirit chooses to those He chooses–not as we desire. Many have been given the gifts of healing and manipulated the gift to bring attention to self and have been exposed for the deception. We are not give gifts to exploit people, but to provide purpose for what we do, magnifying God in all we do–so He gets the glory, not us.

But note this:  The nine gifts listed, cooperatively work in groups of three–faith, healing and miracles; prophecy, speaking in tongues and interpretation, wisdom, knowledge and discernment–all working together for the same purpose, but through different individuals. For anyone to claim they operate in all nine of the spiritual gifts–on their own–I would question the validity of that claim based upon the scriptures and discount anything else they had to say.

This is why it is important for all Believers to know and understand The Word. It is not enough to know what is said without having understanding of what is said and why. It is because so many have gone out–proclaiming and declaring things that God did not say, that we have so much confusion in the Body of Christ today. We must read, study, mediate upon The Word, gaining understanding before we attempt to tell anyone else, anything.

One of the reasons people attempt to manipulate the gift given is because they do not understand their purpose in ministry. They proclaim they have been called by God (when actually some have been called by people) and spend little to no time, preparing to function in the calling they claim. When God calls us–He equips us to do the work He has called us to do–naturally, supernaturally, and spiritually. He inspires us to study, directs us to where we can find information to clarify our roles and in understanding His Word. He speaks to us when we allow ourselves to hear Him, guiding us every step of the way.

When He anoints us to do something out of the ordinary, it is the supernatural gifting and operation of Holy Spirit in control, not us and all we have to do is submit to His leading and by this submission, people will know–whether we are called by God or we have allowed men/women to influence our decision to get into ministry.

Doing the work of ministry is not always a pleasant task, but it is a necessary task and when we do it to the glory of God, we know it is worthwhile.

Before we go out into the world of unsuspecting people trying to make our name for ourselves, let’s seek God and obtain understanding the purpose of the ministry gifts and then allow Him to fill us  to overflowing to function in the gifts, He gives!

Know Who You Serve!

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism” (Colossians 3:23-25).

There are times in this life that we forget who it is we really are called to serve.  Notwithstanding that when we work at a job, or for a career, we usually work to pacify “man” or the corporation for whom we work.  Even in that capacity, our approach to doing a job for pay should be done as “unto The Lord” so we can expect a reward and not just a paycheck.

Think about it!  How many times have people gone to work with a poor attitude and did their work halfheartedly?  How many times have people gone to work late and then get an attitude when they are admonished about their attendance?  How many people take far too much time for breaks and lunches and then get frustrated when they don’t complete their tasks for the day?  How many people “steal” from their employees and then attempt to justify the theft? How many people think they deserve a promotion and more pay when they have not been diligent or as productive as they need to be in the position they have and then get angry with a manager or supervisor because they are always overlooked?

Some people think they deserve positions and pay simply because they suffer from the delusion of entitlement.  Some think they deserve positions because they know somebody who knows somebody.  And some think they deserve positions because of family connections, even when they are not qualified to do a job.

On our jobs, within our families, in our communities and wherever else we may be; we must remember that whatever we do, we should do it as unto The Lord and do it to the very best of our ability.  Our rewards, ultimately–come from The Lord.  It is He who touches the heart of those supervising us. It is He who gives us favor with people we don’t even know.  And it is He who also sees everything we do and will allow the consequences of our actions to fall upon us–good or bad.

In order to make sure we always receive God’s best, we should always do our best in serving Him and others.  “Be not deceived!  God is not mocked.  He sees and knows all and when we think no one else is watching, He is!”  Serve The Lord with joy–smile, seek means to do extra to help someone else and watch Him work on your behalf. 

Father, help us to understand what true service is to You so we can be better at serving You through all we do.  In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen!