Give Love

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal….(1 Corinthians 13:1).

Many of us, myself included, have viewed the pursuit of life, in the Kingdom of God as a ladder to climb on our way to the top. I have pursued my own selfish desire to be known and seen by others. I’ve pursued making a name for myself. I’ve even pursued the praise and adoration of people as I’ve “served the Lord.”
 
In fact, for many years I led a very successful ministry, but it took me a few years of leading it to figure out that my greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God was not in running a great program, but in dispensing love. The kind of love that can only come from God.
 
Yes, the greatest gift we can give to another person is love, to see them, and to help them know they are deeply loved. Not as another number in a program, but a person to be loved. Yes, this was the mission of Jesus, to love people, not things or programs.
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How do we give out this kind of love? You can fake it, but that won’t go very deep. You can try to muster up more of it, but again, it will never come out as genuine. We must submit ourselves to the mercies of the Lord Jesus who grows our hearts to be more like His. Yes, this is the only way as we submit ourselves to His transformative love. I have found for me that I have to be very intentional to change my habits and do things that make me feel a bit uncomfortable as I trust God for a new heart.
 
Consider practicing love with a simple hug, or a smile. Start small and begin by letting the love of Christ that dwells richly in your heart through His grace be what comes out of you. Submit yourself to His metamorphosis and watch Him love people through you. Will this be a less glamorous ministry? Yes, of course, but it will, on all accounts be true Kingdom work for the glory of God.
 
Lord, today I want to live for you. I want to submit myself to you. Please love people through me. I cannot do it without you. Jesus, be my joy and search the deep parts of my heart as I seek to love people with your love, in your name I pray, Amen.

Increase My Faith….Because the Hurt Was So Deep

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” …(Luke 17:5)

 
Today I found myself uttering the same words as the apostles, “Lord, increase my faith!” If I could be quite honest, I feel a lot like them after reading Jesus’ words about forgiveness. As I was contemplating the words of Jesus on forgiveness I thought of 1 Corinthians 13….”love keeps no record of wrongs”…”love is not proud”….Sometimes, these are hard ones for me to live out. I’ll be honest, sometimes, the stories of my past sit right behind my lips because I struggle at “keeping no record of wrong” towards that person.
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Learning to let our past go means learning to wipe away the sin done to us by the other person. This doesn’t mean that we agree with what they did, it just means we release our hurt and their sin into the hands of God. He is full of justice and mercy. We don’t need to keep recalling, because in doing so, it only keeps us from true freedom. The closer that story is to our lips, the further our hand presses that person away.
 
Why did the disciples cry out, “increase our faith?” Because, just like you and me, they knew they couldn’t practice such forgiveness without deeper faith in the Lord Jesus. Maybe instead of crying out for justice and for answers over our painful situations in life, we should instead be crying out, “Lord, increase my faith!” Today I’m going to choose that phrase instead. I’m trusting God will meet me and grow my faith, because, at times, it can be so weak.
 
Lord, increase my faith! Yes, please, grow me to be one of your Kingdom workers. Forgive me, Lord, when my faith is so weak. When I let the sins of the past plague my heart and mind. Jesus, today I release everything to you. All of it. Even the deepest parts. Shower me with grace, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Have Laid Up Many Stones Upon My Heart to Keep Me From Getting Hurt Again….

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb….(Luke 24:2).

There have been many stones laid up upon my heart. Stones of unbelief, fear, discouragement, and pride. Stones that keep me hidden in the grave. Yet, we must remember that God is always seeking to redeem us from the grave. Yes, He is in the business of resurrection. Truly, He is the God of life and peace. He makes all things new and that includes removing the heaviest of stones we have placed upon our hearts.
 
I had a big stone laid upon my heart as a teenager. It was a stone placed there to protect myself from getting hurt by other people. It was a stone that said, “I’m not letting you in, because I’m afraid you’ll hurt me too.”
 
The more stones we lay up upon our hearts, the less meaningful our relationships in life will be. Jesus wishes to free us from the burdens we have placed on our own lives. The heaviness of sorrow, the anguish of unbelief and fear. The weightiness of pride and the back-breaking reality of shame. For far too long I hid behind these stones, not letting people in, because I was afraid that exposing my true self meant being rejected by others.
 
As the two women went to the tomb that morning they saw the stone rolled away and entered in to see what had happened. There was no body to be found because the Lord Jesus left the tomb. Yes, as God rolled the stone away Jesus walked out and into new life. Beloved, hear this, Jesus is rolling your stones away, please, walk out. Your freedom awaits you because your Lord is rolling the stone away. Do not stay stuck in the grave, walk out with your Lord towards new life and freedom. Is it risky? Yes, of course, but truly, it is worth it.
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Abba, daddy, you have rolled the stone away. Thank you for setting me free by your love. Thank you that you don’t leave me in the grave, but you are always looking for ways to set me free. Lord Jesus, I trust you. Today, I want to run with you out of the grave and into faith. Yes Lord, roll a stone away today. Show me where I am not trusting you, so that I can set that aside to walk with you towards freedom instead, in Jesus name, Amen.

What’s In It for Me?

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon….(Luke 23:44).

The Lord spoke something into my Spirit today. As I was reading, I found myself scanning the Scriptures to simply find something that “speaks to me.” Instead of searching the Scriptures to simply find God I came looking with the attitude of, “What’s in it for me.” Ouch….
 
This is the same kind of attitude that filled the world with darkness and placed an innocent man on the cross to be crucified. An attitude of selfishness that’s constantly asking, “What’s in it for me?”
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One of the saddest realities for the son of God was not His death, because truly, God brought about the resurrection, but it was the betrayal of those He had walked so closely with during His life. It was the darkness of the heart of man that selfishly chose what was best for their own agenda instead of caring for another person. When we neglect to care for people in the Kingdom of God, we too will throw them up on crosses to be crucified if it means the advancement of our own personal agendas.
 
Whenever this kind of evil enters into our minds, we must be quick to submit it to the Father. This keeps us from pressing forward with our own selfish motives asking, “what’s in it for me” as we join with the crowd, shouting out our demands.
 
Jealously and bitterness have a way of making us shout even louder. In our pride, it’s hard to let other people be better than us. This was an issue in the religious leader’s hearts that they could not overcome. If we don’t overcome it, we’ll leave people to be crucified too, if it means the protection of our own ego. In my own selfishness, I’ve done this, because I wasn’t secure in who I was in Christ.
 
If we truly want God’s light to shine through us, we must begin to ask ourselves not, “What’s in it for me,” but, “What gives God the most glory?” “How can I love, support and care for this person in front of me?” “How can I make them more important than myself?” This is when light enters in.
 
Lord, forgive me for my own selfish heart that is more often than not crying out, “What’s in it for me?” I need your restorative love. Jesus, enter into the deepest places of my heart and mind in need of your metamorphosis. Yes Lord, make me brand new. Forgive me for when I have crucified others to protect my own ego, in Jesus name, Amen.

Hearing God’s Voice Amongst the Clutter of My Own Stubborn Heart

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps…. (Proverbs 16:9).

The Lord is saying something to me, it’s, “Heather, slow down.” I feel my heart running ahead, and I’ve sensed for quite some time the Lord was saying to me, “slow down,” but I kept plowing forward anyway. I have a tendency to do this in my life because I’m just not very good at waiting. However, this morning, I’m listening.
 
Great plans always come from my mind. At least, they seem like great plans. My timeline seems perfect, the answers to all of my questions seem great and the outcome seems like the perfect fit, but God says, “Heather, I’ve got this.”
 
Yes Lord, I know, but can you move a little faster, please? Oh, how stubborn I can be with the Lord! Like a child, waiting in the grocery line demanding a candy bar to satisfy my hunger, I have a hard time waiting for the beautiful provision God wants to bring about in His way and in His timing. Whatever gets me to my destination faster seems like the right fit. But, this is not always the case. In fact, it rarely is what’s best for us. We need a heart that is content as we wait upon the Lord. I can plan and prepare all I want, but this only keeps me from truly being able to hear the voice of God clearly.
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Our minds are so full of our own good ideas that we often drown out of the voice of God. Simply because we’ve contemplated our own ideas more than seeking Him and His will for our lives. I’m just saying that because I know I’ve done it. In fact, I feel myself doing it now in this present season.
 
I heard a great sermon yesterday that challenged me to set aside my own wishes, wants and desires and get in a place of stillness and quietness before the Lord. We cannot hear rightly from God if we have not silenced our hearts and minds before Him. Many of us don’t hear very often from God because we do not create quiet places of rest within our lives. Since there are no rhythms of rest, there is little space for God to speak.
 
Another thing I’m finding is that because I let go of faith and held fast to doubt, there is a lot of clutter in my mind which makes it hard for me to truly hear God’s voice because I keep being met with another box full of thoughts of doubt and unbelief. Until I clean out the clutter and replace those lies with God’s truth, I will have a hard time hearing His voice.
 
Lord, I want to hear your voice. In fact, I long to hear from you. I have to hear from you because my own voice is so loud. God, forgive me for my impatience and my stubbornness. Forgive me that I hold fast to so much unbelief. Today, I want to quiet myself before you, because I must hear your voice alone. Lord, let that be true, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Have Closed Part of My Heart Off….But Faith is Knocking….

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!….(Mark 9:24).
 
I have closed part of my heart off. I know it. I can feel it. Especially now that faith is knocking. I feel internal walls of protection shoot up to keep faith out because quite honestly, practicing faith on this one puts me in a vulnerable place only to possibly get hurt again.
 
Yet, faith keeps knocking, keeps asking to come in and lead my life down what to me, seems like an impossible path. A path that requires me to put aside all unbelief and trust in a mighty God who moves mountains, splits the sea and raises the dead. I know He’s capable of great and mighty things, but my hesitancy comes from a place of fear. I’m afraid that if I let my walls down and allow faith to come in and things don’t go as I hope then really, in the end, I’ll just be hurt once more.
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Faith is risky, isn’t it? It requires us to put down all of our own past experiences, or present pain to believe against all odds and side with the King of Glory. I hear my heart saying to the Lord, “I believe, help my unbelief!” I believe God honors that prayer and with each moment, as we seek Him, He tears down those walls within our hearts that we’ve put up to try and protect ourselves from being hurt once again.
 
The crazy thing is, I hear another voice, saying, “don’t let faith in!” I know that’s only the enemy keeping me from seeing and experiencing the greatest of God in the places of my life that are being redeemed by His hand. So today, I’ll choose to walk in faith, even when my heart tells me not to. Today, I’ll trust in the Savior’s love to melt my stubborn heart as I surrender it to His love.
 
Lord, I know that you’re knocking. Please forgive me for my stubbornness. Forgive me for my lack of faith. I know that you are a mighty God, even for me. Today, I open up the closed part of my heart to your healing love. I can thank you that no matter what happens even if its a no once more, you are such a good and loving God to me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Learning to Let Go When My Selfish Heart Says to Hold on Tight…

I have put my hope in your word…..(Ps 119:147).

Sometimes I put too much hope in myself; my good ideas, my own personal thoughts, and feeling, etc. I have to be very aware of my own selfishness as I seek God’s will for my life.
 
I sense that God is asking me to come towards Him with open hands, not holding on too tightly to what I’m hoping for. Instead, letting go of everything I desire to simply receive from His hands. When and if He’s ready to give it.
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You see, the tighter we hold onto things, the more we starve our hearts of God’s provision. I cannot receive very much from God if my hands are full, clinging ever so tightly to my own wants and desires.
 
I hear the Lord say, “Heather, let it go. I’ve got something great for you. Just be patient.” My heart says, but, what if…..or….why not now, Lord? Then my Spirit says, “TRUST in the Lord.” Sometimes God will give us what we desire, but we cannot come to Him demanding it from Him. We must accept the fact that maybe it’s not what God wants to bless us with and we will praise Him no matter what.
 
So today, I’m coming with open hands and a heart that is fully aware of its own bent towards selfishness. Today I’m choosing to walk towards my own personal freedom with a willingness to receive from God whatever He wants even if what He hands me is, “WAIT.”
 
Lord, today I come with hands that are open. I don’t need anything other than you. Thank you for loving me, for showering your love upon me and for making yourself known to me. Thank you that I have joy in you. Truly, there is nothing better in this life than living according to your word. May I always be applying it to my life, for your glory, and for your grace, in Jesus name, Amen.