When Light Breaks Into Darkness

Centuries ago, darkness was convinced it had the world in its grip and victory in the bag, but then again it didn’t really know its foe.  That day was a dark one, the friends and family of Jesus had just witnessed him mercilessly beaten and crucified on a cross.  Grief stricken and confused by the course of events, it must have seemed like darkness had overtaken them, after all the Messiah, the one they had been waiting for, had just been put to death.  Yet, at that moment so much more was happening…light itself was breaking into the darkness.

The Passion of Christ is a powerful moment in history.  It speaks of an unconditional love we cannot fully comprehend.  A light so powerful that darkness cannot stand it.  Jesus, love and light, made the ultimate sacrifice to bring freedom and restoration.

Imagine what could be accomplished if we received God’s unconditional love more freely and in turn loved more unconditionally.  Imagine if we let that light shine within us…oh how it would break into the darkness and the darkness would flee.

#easter #goodfriday #LoveofGod #lovewins #light

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Perpetual Hope

perpetualhope.001Christmas is known as the season of perpetual hope. Hope, a simple four letter word that carries so much meaning and something that so many are desperate for…sometimes the only thing people have to hold onto. The only thing they can see to hold on to.

I was thinking the other day about the word perpetual. Dictionary.com defines perpetual as:

  1. continuing or enduring forever; everlasting
  2. lasting an indefinitely long time
  3. continuing or continued without intermission or interruption, ceaseless
  4. blooming almost continuously throughout the season or year.

So perpetual hope means a hope that doesn’t cease, it continues without interruption, it’s everlasting…then really a “season” of perpetual hope is an oxymoron…there is no season for hope, but it is to continue without ending. Hope is essential to our lives even the Word of God says in Proverbs 13:12 that,” Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

What is it that you are hoping for this season? Let your heart not be sick in the waiting and let us also keep in our hearts those who have a hope of freedom and pray that 2016 will bring just that.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A Heart Captivated.

We have all been in a season in our lives where we are not the biggest fan of how situations are turning out, but have you ever been in a season where you are watching the amazing work of God’s love in your life and love the process?  That is current my season.  I am learning much and growing in a new way and my heart is captivated by the situation and God’s love and direction through it all.  It’s felt like a loooong time coming…but God is never late.

You see, lately I have been actively feeding on His faithfulness (Psalm 37:3)…which simply means to be rejoicing in all that God has done for me.

He pursued me in my sin and brokenness and called me holy. (Hebrews 10:10)
He pursued me when I felt ugly and called me lovely. (Psalm 45:11)
He pursued me when I rejected Him and ransomed me anyway. (Hebrews 9:15)

God’s love has pursued me (as well as it does you) and captivated my heart.  His love at work orchestrating situations (as I trust Him) has captivated my heart again and my heart sings about His faithfulness.

We all have times in our lives when we want to do anything but rejoice…but let’s remember that the Israelites 11 day journey turned into 40 years in which many didn’t even make it to the Promised Land.  Why? Because they refused to feed on God’s faithfulness, rejoice in what He had miraculously done for them, they chose instead to complain and had hearts far from Him.  Personally, I want the 11 day journey.  In fact, maybe it’s not so much about the Promised Land as it is about the journey…will we sing and hold onto hope through it or complain and let our hearts be far from God?

May you be encouraged today that God has not forgotten the promises He has made you, He has not forgotten the deep desires of your heart…for you are unforgettable.  I am a firm believer that what matters to us matters to God.  May this month be a time where your heart is captivated by what God is doing (and has done) in your life; that you see His love at work and are able to walk in joy knowing that He is sovereign and working on behalf of those who trust in Him. (Isaiah 64:4)

So go ahead and post the lyrics to Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable on your mirror and let your heart be captivated by the One who loves you…remembering all He has done and rejoicing in all He will do.

The Journey of Forgiveness.

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Recently, as I sat in worship I was pondering the greatness of God’s love for me, what little we can actually comprehend, and I went back to about 14 years ago.  It was a painful time in my life, but the love of God was ever present and ever pursuing me.  The key to much of my freedom over the years hasn’t just been receiving the forgiveness of Christ, but forgiving those who wounded me deeply…even forgiving myself.

I think about the women I work with, beautiful, precious and brokenhearted.  For some, the greatest steps of healing they will walk through will be to forgive those who exploited, abused and wounded them deeply.  While those will be some of the hardest steps to make they will also be some of the most freeing.  I love the quote floating around about how keeping unforgiveness in your heart is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die, because it is true.  Nothing binds so much as unforgiveness.  Maybe that is why the journey of forgiving seems daunting, painful and at times unattainable, because it is possibly one of the most freeing journeys to make.

Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’”  That seems to fit with Jesus’ final words on the cross, “It is finished.”

The cross doesn’t just represent freedom, but forgiveness.

Jesus made that journey over 2000 years ago.  It was the hardest journey anyone would ever have to make.  He took each step strengthened by the power of His Father and the Holy Spirit and His passionate love for us.  His journey of forgiveness paved the way so that we could make that same journey of forgiveness that leads to freedom.  Remember that love keeps no record of wrongs…that means forgiveness is an act of love.  Jesus went through the ultimate act of love…He forgave and still does today.    I don’t believe that forgiveness is so much about loving those who hurt you, but more about loving yourself enough to let go.

Let’s follow that lead and walk in the freedom He intends.  Take the journey that leads to a whole heart.  During this month of “love,” make a decision to love yourself a little better…you are worth it.

Love doesn’t exploit.

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Characteristics of Love Series

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It ALWAYS protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7  (emphasis my own)

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and with more people enslaved now than ever in history we can safely say that we have a monstrous problem on our hands.  Human beings are buying and selling each other; men, women and little children.  While I say the word “human beings” I recognize what drives this industry…evil, pure evil.

Women and children are forced to sell their bodies (actually someone is selling it for them), forced to have abortions, and are becoming drug addicts just to try to mentally, emotionally and spiritually escape their daily horror.  There have been times when I have looked at what seems like an unconquerable situation, where heartache reigns and evil triumphs.  Then, I remember what love is and who love is and my heart is renewed within me.  Isaiah 61 promises that Christ came to set the captives free and God isn’t a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19) and it also says that He has given us what we need to overcome.

We can have faith, we can have hope, but the greatest of these is love (1 Corin. 13:13) and love is the greatest thing we can give.  Remembering, that real love doesn’t exploit and it is the action of love that will bring an end to this atrocity.  Love will not buy sex, love will not sell another human being, love will rescue, love will heal, love will reach out and love will not exploit because it always protects.

Next time you see a picture in the news of a woman arrested for prostitution, don’t skip by the article, don’t skip by the picture.  Look at her, have compassion and pray for her (act in love).  Next time you hear about a prostitution ring (trafficking ring) being busted, don’t ignore it…thank God (the One who is love).

I also urge you to get involved, even if it’s only for January…do something because someone needs you…heck the world needs you.  Be the love someone needs because they matter.  Make a decision to protect…make a decision to love.

Characteristic of Love #6…love protects (it doesn’t exploit) 

Want to learn more about human trafficking and what you can do?

Contact Us

Sharedhope.org

Polarisproject.org

Exoduscry.com

Books about trafficking:

Renting Lacy by Linda Smith

Refuse to Do Nothing by Shayne Moore, Kimberly McOwen Yim

The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores

Movies:
Nefarious, Merchant of Souls
Not My Life
Not For Sale
Born into Brothels
Half the Sky

His Love Brings You into the Promised Land

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Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah (and Abraham) what He had promised. Genesis 17:21

Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
Joshua 21:45

Are there promises from God that you have been waiting on?  Words He has spoken to your heart that you are waiting to see the fruition of?  You are not alone, just remember Abraham, Sarah, Hannah, Moses, all of Israel, heck all of the disciples too.

God promised Abraham and Sarah.  God promised Isaac and Rebekah. God promised Jacob and Rachel. God delivered His promise because He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) and as Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?”

Were there people who didn’t make it to the promise? Yes, those who didn’t trust, complained even after all God did for them…an entire generation of people.

Want to make it to your promised land?  Worship, cry out in praise, refuse to complain, and refuse to believe the lie that God’s love isn’t enough to get you there.  Refuse to believe the lie that God’s heart isn’t towards you and that He is good.  Believe that His word, His character, and His love is true.  Believe.

Psalm 26:3 says, “For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”

Psalm 37:3 says,

“Trust the Lord and do good.  Live in the land and feed on truth.” (NCV)

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.” ( NKJV)

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” (Amplified)

As a practical way to feed on God’s faithfulness try doing to two things:
1)      Post His word (scripture) on post its or sheets of paper everywhere-remind yourself daily of God’s character and His heart for you.  Remember the enemy didn’t just deceive Eve into sinning, but He was able to get her to doubt God’s heart for her.
2)      Make a list of things God has done for you; you should have a lengthy list, if you don’t try re-examining.  Review that list and “feed” your heart with God’s goodness and faithfulness.

May this New Year be the year you live in your promise and in the meantime… feed on His faithfulness.  Remember, His love will get you there.  Happiest of New Years!

Love looks ahead.

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Characteristics of love series

When Jesus died on the cross He wasn’t looking backwards…He was looking straight ahead.  Hebrews 12:2 says, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before Him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Emphasis my own) We were and are still that joy.  He was looking ahead, He knew His purpose on that history making day, He came for us.

I find this extremely comforting when I have flesh out days and lose my temper with my kids.  I find it extremely freeing when shame or regret tries to grab ahold of me because Jesus endured the cross and the shame for the joy that was set before Him…me and you.

You see, love looks ahead.  It offers new mercies each and every day.  In fact, it says in Deuteronomy 30:15, “See! I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction,” which means that each day God sets before us life and death.  No matter what we choose He is there and the morning comes and His everlasting patience sets before us life and death again.  Now, I am not saying that when we sin there are no consequences, what I am saying is that Jesus paid for our sin…period…it is finished.  We look back, hold records of wrong against others and ourselves and wait for the axe to fall.

If we just understood who we are in Him, we would choose life more and more.  If we understood that love keeps no record of wrong (1 Corinthians 13 and Psalm 103:12) and it knows the end from the beginning we would live differently.  If we understood that God, who IS love, doesn’t love like we mere humans understand it, because His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).

Walt Disney once said, “Keep moving forward.” Well, you can’t move forward very well if you keep looking back. Think about this: He sent His son while we were still sinners, knowing full well that not everyone would love Him in return and we get so lost in our past and at times our present.  Yet, I believe God in His infinite wisdom looks ahead.  Maybe today He wants us to know that He knows there is a better tomorrow, but today we need to know He loves us no matter what.  That is life changing.  That’s the love I want to know more.

Characteristic of love #5: it looks ahead