Obedience releases blessing! A praise report!

This is a follow up to my last post

I have a wonderful praise report! The person who had bought the ticket to leave my life and run from the plans the Lord had for them CHANGED THEIR MIND at very literally the last moment. The result has been overwhelming. Obedience to the Lord releases the blessings He has laid up for you, and this person is living that out in a very large way. My family has been blessed, and we're excited to watch how God will continue to show off in their life because of this huge decision.

Prayer works! Obedience is ALWAYS the best plan!

Focus on Jesus, with our eyes toward eternity - to protect our Love.

Today, God has illustrated to me a sad but critical lesson about the part we play in our relationship with Him. There is a very important person in my life who is choosing to walk away from me, not just me, but my entire family. Nothing I have said or done has been able to change this person's mind, or convince them that love is worth fighting for. After years of sharing life and honoring this person in heart, word, and deed, I've learned that not only has it all been in vain, but that our relationship was destroyed long ago by lies that took deep root in this person's mind so much that there is no amount of truth that will change today's situation. This person left their heart unguarded and the enemy was given a foothold long ago, whispering lie upon lie, until their mind was a mountain of steel boxes filled with untruths that completely shape their reality.

Friends, God loves us. He has done so much for us, that we can never be worthy of - but His love MAKES us worthy. He offers redemption and relationship without first requiring works or service. We can never earn His gifts. All He asks is that we choose to begin a relationship with Him, and then REMAIN in relationship with Him. That we love Him. Through that love, He transforms us, and through that love, we are inspired to do good works and acts of service, but they are not what saves us.

BUT - If we allow the enemy to convince us that our worthiness depends on our actions, if we allow the enemy to convince us that we have to clean up our hearts on our own, if we allow the enemy to convince us that God's love is conditional, then we begin to see God as a master who is constantly disappointed in us. We lose our love. We begin to do good works out of obligation and fear. We begin to tear apart other believers or withdraw and not have any fellowship at all. We also begin to critique God, and compare His love for us with His love for others, and become jealous or gloating.

The Bible tells us about this - and warns of this kind of relationship deterioration. At almost every wedding that happens in a church, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is read. Those verses tell us what love IS. With all key passages, I like to read the surrounding verses, and often, I realize the depths out of which the key verses rise. The first part of 1 Corinthians 13 tells us how important love really is. Without it, you can read your Bible all day long, and it simply doesn't matter. Without love, you can spend your whole life in service to the poor and it's worthless. Eternally worthless. You can even have amazing faith and great spiritual giftings, but when they are not paired with love, they are only of temporary value. Worse than that, the Bible says they are like an obnoxious noise!

We are to store our treasures in heaven, and 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us the only eternal treasures we can cultivate on this earth. Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. Our love for God, and our love for one another are the greatest treasures and should be most highly prized. Why then are we so quick to believe the world's definition of love, and the world's disposable view of love?

God doesn't force us to love Him. I can't force this person to love me, to love my family. I can't force this person not to leave us. I can make my pleas, and I can attempt to reason with them and convince them of the value of family and this relationship, but in the end, it's simply not my decision. Free will and the lies of the enemy are taking this person out of our lives. Free will and the lies of the enemy can take us out of God's presence as well.

Be so careful to guard your heart - don't let your love grow cold, even as the wickedness of this world and the lateness of the hour are so unsettling. REMAIN IN JESUS - and let HIM fan the flame of your heart's fire, focus on Jesus because only by remaining so close to Him can we ever hope to survive the coming days. Only relationships that are grounded in Jesus will survive as well.

If we are focusing on ETERNITY, and not our present circumstances, then love becomes more important than disagreement, more valuable than opinion, and more treasured than our own desires. We will have the kind of love that would lay its life down for a friend, or a daughter. We will love unconditionally and without condemnation. We will do good works out of our joy and love for God, and for one another, instead of to try to earn our keep or heal a wound. We will communicate and bear with one another, put up with one another, while we allow God to smooth the personality conflicts that are inevitable. But love overcomes. Love doesn't give up.

My heart is breaking over this loss, and what it means for all involved. The door of my heart will always be open to this person, but their choices are widening the gap more than I can bridge on my own.

Back to the Salt thing again...

Jesus tells us we are to be salt and light to the world.

Matthew 5:13 & 14

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden."

Often, I've been chastised by fellow believers who get bristled by my personal brand of salt and light, and I'm admonished to tone it down, or be more loving, or not to discuss certain things publicly. Now, I'm not writing this in response to anything recent - but tonight as I was enjoying a lovely and quiet drive home from visiting family God just popped this teaching in my head and I have to share it.

This teaching is long, so I'll split it in two. 

First, let's talk about SALT:

If I had a dollar for every time someone said something like "salt makes things taste better, so if we are to be salt in the world, we should enhance the world around us..." well, I'd have at least

If being humble is rewarded, what will happen to the proud?

We talked about the promises God makes to those who aren't afraid to humble themselves, and today I want to take a look at the consequences if hanging on to our pride. I think just about everyone knows the saying "pride goes before a fall" but that's not the half of it.

Here's the source of the saying we all know:

Proverbs 16:18 - " Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall."

also Proverbs 18:12 - "Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor."

But what else can we learn about pride?

Promises for the Humble

I can't get past this topic! I keep thinking we can move on to another verse or section of the Sermon on the Mount, and then I get sucked back into this word - Humility. Today I want to share with you two things:

The Webster's Dictionary definition of Humble so we know what we're aiming for...

Power of Humility

As I was researching for our post on Matthew 5:3, I noticed a trend that I thought deserved it's own entry. We were discussing what it means to be "poor in spirit," and Scripture gave us as part of that definition, to be humble. We learned that Jesus was humble, and we learned that in God's economy humility is like currency. When we are humble, He exalts us or lifts us up.
When I read through all the verses in the Bible that deal with humility, I noticed quite a trend in the Old Testament with the many kings recorded in 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles. Over the years, Israel and Judah had many earthly kings. Some were good, and some were bad. Some started out good, and ended badly, and others started out horrible, and ended well. Humility was a huge factor as God judged those kings. Let's take a look...

Yesterday's Homework

Yesterday we learned some hard truths about relationships and I hope that you have had time to meditate on them. Have you had the chance to make any apologies to anyone yet? One of the hardest parts of apologizing is mustering up the humility to just do it. Our pride gets awfully big, and awfully in our way in moments like those. If you're struggling with humility, hopefully today's teaching will help.

We're going to break down Matthew 5:3 today, and travel all over Scripture to gain understanding about this key verse. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs."