Heart Condition

Romans 2: 4

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and restraint and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Yesterday I wrote to you that repentance broke open the way for our Father’s supply to reach me. I hesitate to even talk about repentance because some people are so freaky about it. We are aware of the sort of preacher who would have everyone falling to their knees at the altar in great travail over their sins, tears streaming down their face. Some people carry the histrionics so far that true repentance is lost in the dramatic arts.

True repentance is a heart condition. It need not be public. It does not require moaning, groaning or groveling. It requires understanding that you are not where God directed you. Your “sin” (another word I use lightly) may not be intentional though that does not change that we have failed to do what God told us. Often, as in the story I told you yesterday, there is a moment of clarity when you realize that you have missed the mark. In that moment, without the necessity of any formal methods, simply talk with your Father. He already knows you are wandering off in the weeds. It will not be any revelation to Him that you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing. So, just talk with Him as if He is an interested person, a lover of your soul, because He does, in fact, love you above all else. See in Him acceptance as He guides you back onto the right path. Repent for not doing what He has told you to do. It is as easy as, “Father, I am sorry. I apologize. You have taught me to pray over my life and family daily and I haven’t been doing it. Forgive me.” And that’s it. You don’t have to bawl and wallow on the floor in a manner worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy.

I want you to know that repentance can be a simple matter. You can speak with your Father, openly. He is accepting and kind. That is not to say your heart won’t sometimes feel intense grief when you realize you are off the prescribed path. It is just to say that turning your face to Him and, with very normal words, talking to Him makes it better. He picks you up and returns you to where you should be. Repentance should be, to you, healing. In fact, it has blessing in it. Just learn to say, “I’m sorry Dad. I messed up.”

Perhaps we’ve simply lost the skill of apology. Maybe we have forgotten how to apologize to our friends and family when we offend them. Repentance and forgiveness does not have to be an elaborate affair full of ceremony. That does not mean it lacks sincerity though. I would not minimize the emotional impact discovery of disobedience can have. Instead, I would communicate to you that it is okay for you to feel those deep emotions and equally okay for you to speak with Father about them instantly and without having to weep at an altar. The reason I want to convey this truth is because I do not want you to hesitate for even a moment. I want you to immediately turn to your Father and apologize. Receive His forgiveness and let Him get you back on track. There may be times when you do feel such pain that you want to lie at His feet and cry. There is no shame in that. Just don’t think that repentance is a “churchy” demonstration or stage play. It does not have to be accompanied by profuse displays of grief, though it can be. You don’t have to go to church to repent nor should you be made to feel that your repentance needs to be a public spectacle. You may need or want the support of your church family, but don’t think that repentance is so one dimensional. Let it be normal and let it be sincere. Receive forgiveness and then get on with what God has told you to do. And, be blessed.

Weapons of our Warfare

1 Corinthians 10: 4

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage battle according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

God’s Word, praise; these are the ultimate weapons of our warfare. Ephesians 6: 17 tells us very clearly that the Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. In other words, our weapon is the Word, and by extension, our words when God’s Word is in our mouths. As we speak positive declarations of our beliefs which are constructed from the Word of God, we are doing battle against the things of this world which would limit or even harm us. By exchanging the word “fortresses” with the word “strongholds” the NIV translation reveals that some of the foes of faith are the strongholds within our own minds. These can be anything: a belief, lack of belief, a thought process, lack of education, etc. Those strongholds are the targets of transformation. Through transformation we discard old thought and habit patterns which are generated from our thoughts and allow faith thoughts which are in accordance with the Word to reveal the beautiful butterfly within. Our words, then, become powerful weapons as confessions of faith.

Let me show you this in a real-world example. Recently I contracted a virus which caused a rash. Now, I know that our Father protects me day and night and I truly believe He is the greatest protection against Covid. I am grateful that He has protected me from contracting the coronavirus, but how or why did I get this virus? When the rash didn’t go away right away, I went to the doctor who diagnosed it and told me it would likely take 6 – 8 weeks to heal. Oh my! I was not pleased to hear that. Of course, I was already praying for healing, but I really knuckled down to prayer after that diagnosis.

In conversation with Father, I found a problem in me. I actually wrote about this recently in the Word of the Day entitled Victory in Jesus and again in Fortress Dweller. Each of those devotionals encourages us to speak the Word of God over our lives. Our testimony is how we overcome situations and problems. The smart thing to do is to speak faith statements continuously and to endlessly thank and praise God for all that He daily gives. I had fallen down on the job. I was not confessing my health. I was not daily thanking God for maintaining my immunity and health. So, in my time with the Lord, He showed me that I wasn’t putting the shield around me daily. The first thing I did was to repent. Repenting amounts to apologizing to the Father for not doing what he said to do or for doing what He said not to do. I realized I had not been doing what He has taught me.

As soon as I repented, it felt like something that was standing between me and my healing was removed. Now, that is not to say that God was withholding anything from me, but repentance unblocked whatever was preventing me from receiving my healing. I prayed again for Father to heal me. In the next days I heard a song about healing continually coming up in my spirit. The lyric was, “The healing power of God is working in me, right now.” The good news is that the rash has all but disappeared. It has only been two weeks. God healed me by showing me that there was a spiritual block preventing me from receiving my healing.

The moral of the story is, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony,” (Revelation 12: 11). Get your testimony in the game. Start professing God’s promise over your life making daily positive, present tense declarations of God’s Word. Then, you will live in triumph in His name, by His grace.

Healed and Whole

2 Chronicles 7: 14

If My people, which are called by my name, shall 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.

When you read the verses which precede this one you understand that God is saying, “In your time of need, if you will call out to Me and seek Me then I will hear and restore you.” This verse comes from the point of need, the time of trouble, so the first point I would make is how much more does this apply when we don’t have our backs to the wall because of our sin, recklessness or error.

The major point, though, is that God is standing at the ready when we finally get around to calling on Him. One can see the situation unfold like this, we have run around doing our own thing, ignoring God and have not sought His counsel. The result is inevitable – trouble. All the while God was sitting on His phone watching and waiting for us to call. He says, “Look, if you will just inquire of Me, I will fix everything. I will lead you in the way you should go and I will repair the damage your ignorance created.” That is amazing to me. This is the exact opposite of the world which says, “You made the bed, now sleep in it,” which of course means, you made the mess so deal with it. God is ever ready to rescue us, even from the calamity of our own making. He actually wants to heal and restore you.

Let’s talk about “your land” for a moment. The verse refers to God healing His people’s land. The Bible is a historical record and a living document at the same time. Therefore, this verse represents not only God’s promise to Israel, which would have been the application at the time it was spoken, but it also applies to you and me through the living Word, Jesus our Messiah. You see, if it was just a dead letter, it would only show us His response to Israel. However, we know that Jesus is the Word (John 1: 1). He has breathed new life into the Old Testament for everyone who calls him Lord. That has got to make you want to shout! All those Old Testament promises, like the one from today’s verse are yours in Christ Jesus. Yea!

You are His people who are called by His name. That is the first element of this verse. What are the others? Humility, prayer, seeking and repentance. If we will humbly seek Him and pray, turning away from our ways, He will respond with all His grace and love to heal your world. Your land may be your home, your work, business, health, finances, family or any other area. It can also apply to the country you live in or are from.  They are all under God’s grace when you invite Him in through humility, seeking His face and His advice. Find that quiet space in your life and seek the Lord and His counsel. Be whole. Be blessed!

Heaven or Hell?

Matthew 3: 2

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

No, this isn’t the typical “Are you going to heaven or hell” speech we hear so frequently. I really want to pose a question. Do you want to go to heaven or do you simply want to avoid hell? What motivates you, heaven or hell? You see, I think some people just want to avoid hell, and well, that is a good motivation. Hell is not a place any person will enjoy. In fact, we should avoid it at all costs. Selah.

Some of us gave our lives to Christ because we wished to avoid the horror of eternity in hell. Somewhere along the line, though, hell became less of an issue, less of a point of focus, and heaven became the target. Avoiding hell is good but it certainly is not the prize. Heaven is the prize. What is heaven anyway? At some level we think of it as a place, but the real draw is that it is the residence of Jesus and the Father. In other words, wherever they are, is heaven, at least to me. Heaven is spending eternity in the direct company of Jesus, Yahweh and the Holy Spirit (I wish he would tell me his name).

Imagine a scenario where there is hell, a neutral place and heaven. At this point we have removed our names from the register in hell but to be forever in the neutrality without God would not satisfy. Of course, that would be hell, but the point is that the neutral space would no longer satisfy us. Our longing is to be with the Father. Our energy is focused on knowing Him. Getting into heaven is good but the heart’s desire is far beyond just getting in the gate. Don’t we long to sit at the Father’s feet and listen to His stories? Perhaps you just want to put your eyes upon Him. There is nothing so great as being in the presence of the Holy Trinity.

Repent means to change your direction, change your way of thinking. So, we continuously readjust our sights and compasses so that we are pointed straight towards the Father of heaven. We seek His presence here, true, but we are also seeking His presence in eternity.

One last thought about today’s verse, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” As we reread it and think about it, thoughts about saving lost souls may surface. Additionally, it may even call into question our approach to evangelism. The first thing I noticed is that there is no mention of hell here. Jesus did not preach about the kingdom of hell. He preached the good news, the Kingdom of Heaven. He called people up to God. He did not come condemning them, or us, as sinners. Our sin was fact, but not the message. The message is heaven. The message is the greatness of a Father who loves us. Just a thought to ponder. Selah.

Bad Seed

Job 4: 8

According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.

According to what I have seen, this verse is true, alarmingly true. Sometimes when bad things happen it is, unfortunately, because we have sown bad seed. It is almost frightening at times to think about what kind of seed we might have in the ground. Whatever we have sown will produce a harvest. Galatians 6: 7 couldn’t be more clear, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” This may sound like pretty bad news but we have heard that the Gospel is supposed to be good news, so, how can this verse inform our lives for the positive?

First, if you are living in a deluge of bad things happening, frustrations and just generally unsettled waters, inquire of the Lord if any of it is the harvest of seed you have sown. We certainly don’t want to hear God tell us, “yes,” but even if He does, at least we can develop a strategy for overcoming it. Remember that Jesus made us overcomers. If the answer is yes, there is an answer because Jesus made a way for us. You can ask your Father what the seed was, and then it is as simple as repenting. What is repentance? It is a change of direction, a change of heart, a change of mind. If you will just tell God with a sincere heart that you are sorry and that is not what you want for your life He will shower you with the fruit of His forgiveness.

Next, ask Him to redeem the bad seed. Ask Him to kill it at the root. You can also ask Him to reveal to you any other bad seed and the two of you can uproot it. You do not have to live with the produce of your errors but you do have to be sincere about your change of direction if you want Dad to destroy the bad crop.

Look, everyone makes mistakes and we are all learning and growing. Sometimes we let that old dead man out of his grave and he always sows bad seed. No worries. Jesus is the master gardener. Humbly ask him to help you and he will hoe new ground shoulder to shoulder with you.

Lastly, if you are sowing discord, grief, or any negativity into the lives of others, please be advised. It is going to come back to you. And the great and horrible thing about a seed is that it produces much more harvest than its size. There is forgiveness for this but you need the help of the Father. Humility and honesty will avail much. Prostrate your ego at the feet of Jesus and he will help you.