Wise Men Still Seek Him

December 24, 2017

I am always challenged at this time of the year to know what is HIS heart during this season when we supposedly are to be putting “Christ back into ‘Christmas’”.  In order to “do” just that it pre-supposes that we have a true grasp of what Christmas is (and isn’t) AND that we have a revelation of Christ. All the wise men knew was that they saw a sign in the heavens which the prophecies reportedly indicated that a new king had been born. They sought for a king. They wanted to witness for themselves whether the sign was true and be the first to pay homage to the King. They followed the sign, paid the cost, and in seeking Him out, they obtained what they were looking for. Their efforts were not in vain, but did they have a revelation of Who Jesus really was and His full reason for coming?

We are urged to seek HIM also, and it is promised that, if we DO seek for Him, with all of our heart, He WILL be found. And, in finding HIM, we will have found the greatest treasure in heaven and in earth. Like the kings of old, if we are wise, we too will seek hard after Him!

But there is much more to seeking Him than looking for, and celebrating the birth of a historical Jesus, as great as it was that He came to earth. May I reminds us all that HE never once asks us to celebrate or even remember His birth. Christians the world over make such a huge deal about “Christmas” and go to great lengths to make sure we cannot be accused of being a “scrooge”; someone who selfishly avoids or criticizes the idea of giving during the festive season of “Christmas”. The scripture says the Lord loves a cheerful (happy, spontaneous) giver…  one who gives WITHOUT OBLIGATION. The moment we enter into giving because an obligation to give is placed upon us, it is no longer giving “from the heart”, and God, Who is the biggest and best giver of us all, is no longer blessed by our “giving”.

Wise men still seek Him and in finding Him they receive (are given) Him… The King of kings! He comes and lives and abides within. HE becomes the giver of Life…  to us, in us and through us to others. He IS a Life-GIVING Spirit and if we have truly sought Him out and have found Him, and have received Him into our hearts, we have received the GIVER OF LIFE, right within US! What greater gift can we possibly give one another, but HIS LIFE! …To literally give HIM to someone else, so that they too can receive the greatest gift ever given, is to give of ourselves, as He exemplified.

To truly seek HIM is to seek His kingdom (His rule in our hearts) and His righteousness (His right way of doing things), FIRST and CONTINUALLY in ALL situations and circumstances where we have the ability to do so. This seeking, however, is costly! It will cost us our pride, our self-determination, our desire to “do-it-MY-way”….  Ultimately it will cost us our all, even our very lives. But that is precisely what He is after….   OUR LIFE! It is a divine exchange….  Our life for His

He takes our life…  ALL of our hopes, ALL of our fears, ALL of our wants and desires, ALL of our issues and problems, ALL of our worries, illness and pain, ALL of the things of this world…  and in exchange…  He gives us Himself!

He gives us freedom…  from the power of the law of sin and death!
He gives us Joy, which becomes our strength to endure life’s hardships.
He gives us His divine provision so we will never go hungry or unclothed.
He gives us a knowledge of the Truth in everything we see and hear allowing us to sort out the many confusing voices in the world.
He gives us peace because the Prince of Peace dwells within and because…
He has given us His forgiveness we can fellowship with Him ALWAYS, even when we have committed the “worst” sin….
He never pushes us from His presence, or withdraws Himself from us.
He gives us His love… for us, AND His love through us for others, even for those who are not easily loved.
He gives us His Spirit of Wisdom that we can navigate life’s decisions and issues.
He gives us talents and creativity with which we can be an inspiration and blessing to others.
He gives us power over our own propensity to sin (miss the mark).
And, as was mentioned already, He gives us His divine LIFE!

WOW!…   hardly a fair exchange wouldn’t you say?

So, if we truly are going to put Christ back into “Christmas”, we will commit to living HIS life, and seeking HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness EVERY day of the year. AND, that we put aside, in our hearts, this obligatory holiday of “Christmas” and in it’s place we ought to celebrate, appropriate and experience (the TRUE meaning of ) the feasts He does desire…

Passover

Pentecost

and Tabernacles

namely….   Christ IN us (mas), our hope of glory

I pray you will be blessed with His life through this season and throughout the coming year/s, and that we will all have the grace to seek HIM and HIS kingdom knowing that as we do, ALL these things are added unto us.

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Forgive My Enemy?

April 11, 2016

Renee Napier, Phillip And Mary Dickson
Taken from LISTVERSE

Renee Napier and Phillip and Mary Dickson have lived through a parent’s worst nightmare. On May 11, 2002, Napier’s daughter, Meagan Napier, and the Dicksons’ daughter, Lisa Jo Dickson, were struck and killed instantly by a drunk driver. They were both only 20 years old. The grief was unbearable but Napier and the Dicksons were determined to help others avoid the grief that they were experiencing.

The Dicksons worked through their local Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) organization, and Napier founded The Meagan Napier Foundation with the purpose of promoting safe driving. Napier works to spread her message to as many people as she can in the hopes of saving lives.

The drunk driver, Eric Smallridge, has accompanied Napier to some of her speaking engagements. While still serving his sentence, Smallridge was given permission to travel with Napier to speak and tell his story. He would encourage those in the audience to avoid ending up in his situation. After the presentation, the audience would be given the opportunity to view the mangled car.

Napier really wanted her message of forgiveness to get across. Napier and the Dicksons all lobbied for (and won) Smallridge’s early release, and if that’s not a hallmark of incredible forgiveness, we don’t know what is.

Immaculee Ilibagiza
Taken from LISTVERSE

Immaculee Ilibagiza is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide that took place in the mid-nineties. Political tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes resulted in the massacre of hundreds of thousands of members of the Tutsi tribe and of members of the Hutu tribe who opposed the genocide. On Easter Sunday 1994, when Ilibagiza and her family were gathered together, Ilibagiza’s older brother, Damascene, begged their father to take the family and flee to safety. They made the fateful decision to stay.

On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying the Rwandan president, a Hutu, was shot down, and everyone on board was killed. Soon after, a killing spree began that targeted the Tutsi people. Ilibagiza and her younger brother, Vianney, managed to make their way to a local Hutu pastor’s home, who provided protection from the chaos that was surrounding them. When they arrived, they learned the heartbreaking news that Vianney could not stay. Ilibagiza and seven other women hid in a small (1 square meter) bathroom for three months. When Ilibagiza and the seven other women were finally able to leave their hiding place, Ilibagiza learned that her family had been murdered. Ilibagiza herself lost 22 kilograms (50 lbs) during her ordeal.

While our human nature desires revenge, Ilibagiza chose to forgive the people who killed her family as she felt the bitter feelings of rage destroying her. Though not easy, she was determined to let forgiveness, rather than hate, rule her life. Eventually, she met one of the murderers face-to-face and told him directly that she forgave him.

Ilibagiza is now living in the US with her children, some of whom are adopted from Rwanda. She has written a best-selling book about her experience, Left to Tell, and has made several television appearances. She has spoken at several conferences and founded the Left to Tell Charitable Fund to help children who have been orphaned through genocide. From the unimaginable pain she had endured, Ilibagiza has managed to do a great amount of good and make the world a little bit of a better place.

WOW!  Amazing stories of genuine love and forgiveness! In a world that is filled with pain and suffering, much of it merely due to circumstances beyond our control, but much of it certainly perpetrated with intent. Of course, every man will be held accountable for our own choices and actions, whether we wronged someone, intentionally or unintentionally, as well as how we responded when we were wronged.  We have all recited the Lord’s Prayer in which we ask our Heavenly Father to forgive us our debts (sins/trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (those who have sinned/trespassed) against us. It is so much easier to vocalize the words of this profound prayer than to actually find the grace to forgive a wrong, much less genuinely and sincerely love our “enemy”.

We earnestly and fervently pray that God will not hold our sins against us, or that He will be merciful to us protecting us and keeping our loved ones safe from harm, to prosper our way, even heal our illnesses, diseases and infirmities. However, sometimes our prayers are hindered by a shear lack of obedience on our part of His simple commandments such as love your neighbor as yourself, or do to other as you would have them do unto you.

We want all the blessings of heaven and earth, but don’t realize that in the same way that God has established immutable laws in the natural realm, such as gravity, the seasons and seed-time and harvest, there are also immutable laws in the spiritual realm such as sowing and reaping. When we intentionally wrong someone, and might think we have gotten away with it, we can rest assured that what we sow we shall also reap. And, when we fail to forgive those who have wronged us, no matter how significant or insignificant the deed done to us seemed to be, we reap the consequences of that bitterness and unforgiveness in our own souls, and even in our body.  We wonder why we are not getting any better after being sick. Yet, we are hiding unconfessed wrongs in our own lives, or are harboring bitterness against others who have wronged us. We must understand that the heavens become brass and our prayers only rise up so far before falling back down to our miserable hardened heart. However, that can all change and there can be restoration and healing at ALL levels!

As you read this I am sure you are thinking of many times in your own life and experience where someone did something to you that caused you material loss, physical harm or mental anguish. You look back on it and wonder how they could have done such a thing, particularly when it seemed entirely preventable, or seemed that it was even intentional on their part.  Have you forgiven and forgotten?  Are they free? Or YOU free? Did you seek revenge, trying to find a way to pay them back? Or did you go to them and let them know that you hold nothing against them, are praying for them and would bless them if they would receive it.  There are many who call themselves “Christians”, but to forgive IS what it means to BE “Christ” …to others.

This simple act of love and humility…  to forgive…  has such a profound impact on both the one who did the wrong, as well as the one who is offering forgiveness. Swallowing our pride, getting over ourSELVES, and doing as Jesus taught would certainly go a long way to make this world, we (all) live in, a much better place.  It is actually bringing heaven to earth… the first part of the Lord’s Prayer.

I was so moved by this video and it drives home the truth that to “love those who love us in return” is only human, but to “love and forgive our enemy” is truly divine….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Life is a Series of Transactions

October 15, 2008

It is my firm conviction that we ought to seek out the heart of a matter rather than settle for the outward appearance of things. To me, the issues of life flow out of the heart and in my experience so often what gets communicated, much of the time, simply serves to cover up what really is at the root of the issue, or hides the simple and obvious solution.

Life is in essence a series of transactions. Every thought, every conversation, every action that we engage in is a direct result of some sort of trade off. We learn to navigate life by being frugal (self-conserving and often times self-preserving) and are constantly making decisions as to what will cost the least to us personally in terms of sacrifice of our money, our energy and our time. We place value on material things, on the time we spend doing things for ourselves and for others as well as on the energy we expend to achieve these things. We most certainly count what it will cost us in dollars and cents. Let me offer some examples…

The most obvious “transaction” that impacts us all is the transaction between ourselves and our immediate source of monetary income. Whether it is a job, business opportunity, investment or government subsidy, the removal of this income, which we have become utterly dependant on, seems to immediately impact the other financial “transactions” of life that are obviously a big part of our lifestyle, namely our rent (transaction) or mortgage (transaction), as well as other living expenses (transactions) such as food, gas, utilities, taxes, etc.

Those are the monetary “transactions” that are so much a part of all of our lives and are so “in-our-face” because without the assurance that we will have the basic necessities and comforts of life, we become stressed and tied up in knots. This then impacts the other “transactions” we engage in such as where we will go, who we will see and spend time with, etc.

Then there are our social “transactions”. When we think or perceive that we “have it all together”, we feel more confident to be able to negotiate successful social transactions including engaging in verbal conversation, perhaps written communication and exposure of ourselves to others whether they be friends, neighbors, co-workers or our brothers and sisters in Christ. We often convince ourselves that unless we have something of value to offer someone in return for what we might receive from them (a balanced transaction) then they just might feel somehow cheated out of something or may feel slighted in some way. That just wouldn’t do! They may think less of us if we don’t give a good show. We might somehow be a drain on them, or rain on their parade. We don’t want to be a wet blanket, get over emotional or appear to be less mature than the others, so we simply hide ourselves away and convince ourselves that they are better off without us there. We would rather stay home by ourselves then be seen as not having it all together, or in some way or other be viewed as “less spiritual” than the rest.

We very often place value and worth based purely on our preconceived ideas and notions about what we believe others value and find worthy as well. We conduct our affairs and make decisions much of the time based on false assumptions and miss-guided ideas about what we believe others will think of us. Another common example of this is when we go out for lunch with a friend, we often demand to be the one to pay for the meal because we would rather pay the bill (sacrifice of our money) than give the other person even an inkling that we feel like we are imposing ourselves on them by allowing them to pay (sacrifice of our pride). Know what I mean?

I see all these very cerebral mind games as a very real form of bondage that God wants us to be completely free from. And in setting us free we are able to simply BE ourselves and not try to be what we perceive others think we ought to be or do. He (or she) whom the Son sets free is FREE indeed! This bondage keeps us away from the very ones who can be, in and through Christ, a genuine source of life and encouragement. Spirit quickened interaction with other members of the Body of Christ may actually be instrumental to set us free, or certainly to encourage us to hang on to whatever level of freedom we have already achieved.

More importantly, this type of bondage keeps us from being able to carry on a very real, vital and personal spiritual “transaction” with God, to believe that God can be THE source of Life, Truth, Wisdom and liberty right within US, and for us. Because in our carnal mind we perceive that He somehow requires something from us that we don’t believe we can give, or simply do not have to offer Him in order to please Him, then we cut ourselves off from the ONLY true source of EVERYTHING we need and desire. It is precisely in this way that to be carnally minded is death (spiritual separation from the Life of God).


WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

It becomes abundantly evident that I must come to the end of myself! It is at the point of utter weakness and vulnerability within myself, when I finally reach the bottom of the barrel, that I gain a keen awareness of my own inability to do anything of or for myself. It is at this point of realization that “of myself I can do NOTHING” that He is MOST ready and willing to BE my vital source of strength, wisdom and understanding. When I am weak, then HE is strong (in me). It is precisely at this point that I finally realize that His grace is truly sufficient for me!

WOW! When I realize that it is ALL based on God’s amazing grace, the rules of the transaction change! I gloriously discover that I have NOTHING to bring to the table except to offer up myself to Him, to present my self to Him as a sacrifice and to trust Him to DO IT ALL — for me and in me! He must increase, and I must decrease!

As I have walked through certainly one of the greatest struggles of my entire life over the last few months, tearing free from my dependency on a man-made substance which I heavily relied upon all of my adult life to keep me from a hellish experience, I have come to understand experientially all over again that this process I find myself in is designed and tailor made specifically for me, to utterly strip me of ALL of my dependencies on ANY thing or ANY one other than Him. And when I force my mind to let go of the feelings of anxiety and desperation, fear, doubt and worry about what I simply perceive “could be” the consequences of letting go of these dependencies, to actually throw EVERYTHING upon Him in abandoned trust, I find a peace and an assurance floods my soul and guards my mind that is indescribable in any human terms or language. When we have truly tasted THE true peace that passes all understanding, we can never go back to the false, shallow sense of peace that we seemed to experience by relying on something other than Him alone.

He floods me with faith that His word and His promises are sure and the sense of His presence returns which literally becomes my strength to face the issues head on. I find that the fog begins to lift and I can think more clearly. As I think more clearly I become encouraged that I actually have His mind on the matter and there are answers where only moments before there seemed to be none. Hope returns where the situation seemed utterly hopeless. That hope gives way to a deep sense of joy that all will be OK. I am assured in my heart and mind that HE IS IN CONTROL! That’s because He truly IS!

My dependency shifts from the earthy, natural, material and temporal things of this world onto HIM who is supernatural (of the spiritual [real] dimension), eternal and where there is real power over the natural elements of this (my) world and situation, to effect real change whether financial, health related or in my social relationships. Like any loving father, He delights in us when we place our trust entirely in Him. When we demonstrate that we trust only Him by intentionally breaking our reliance on these worldly thoughts, emotions, perceptions and dependencies, His heart is moved to go to battle on our behalf and to prove Himself worthy of our trust. His desire is to prove His faithfulness to the promises He has given us, to prove His faithfulness to His own Word. Real freedom is found in the realization that THE BATTLE IS THE LORD’S and HE IS VICTORIOUS over ALL our enemies! The outcome is sure and we are simply the beneficiaries of HIS victory. It is faith in HIM, through the faith OF Him, that we find true peace right in the midst of the storm. We find we can truly cease striving and rest in HIS works.

Beyond that I realize that I am nothing without Him, without His grace. But with Him and in Him, by His grace, I am becoming everything He is transforming me to be. And, all the others, who I perceive “have it all together” are really just as messed up (in and of themselves) as I am (in and of myself) and we really do have much more in common than I thought. So, hey, I can be real and open about my issues and they won’t love me any less or think any less of me. Do I love them any less or think any less of them when I discover their weaknesses? NO! In fact I find I love and accept them even more readily because they are willing to be real, open, honest and vulnerable. But hey! It’s okay for others to be real, open, honest and vulnerable…..  BUT NOT ME! Right!?

We’re ALL in this together and together we stand, but divided we fall (much more readily at least). When we find our ALL, our source in Him, we have learned how to tap into the true energy source Who dwells within each of us and we get re-energized through our actual trials rather than mowed over or wiped out by them.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst–not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” (John 4:13-14)

Now that is a transaction I can buy into!

Bless you all!

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Scripture references:   1 Sam 17:47, 2 Sam 22:1, John 3:30, John 4:13-14, John 8:36, John 15:5, Rom 8:6-7, Rom 12:1-2, 2 Cor. 12:9, Gal. 2:20, Phil. 4:7, Jam.1:2-4, Heb. 4:9-11