Tag Archives: heart

Ten Lepers – Discovering the Difference

23 Dec

What made the one leper different?

If you’re familiar with the record of Jesus healing the ten lepers, you’re already thinking, “One leper returned to thank Christ for healing him.”

This is true, but there is another distinction.

As Jesus traveled between Samaria and Galilee, ten men with leprosy called to him from a distance, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

To all of them, Jesus said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” (According to the Mosaic law, the lepers had to remain outside the city a certain number of days and if they appeared clean, go show themselves to the priests for further instruction as to when/how they may reenter the city.)

And as they went, they were cleansed.  

When the one returns, falling at Jesus’s feet with praise and thanks, Jesus says, “Were not all ten cleansed? …..Rise and go; your faith has made you whole”  (see Luke 17:11 – 19, KJV). 

Do you see the other distinction?

Yes, the one leper was different. He alone went to praise and thank God. His heart stood apart from the rest.

The other distinction is what Jesus told him. Whole. Your faith has made you whole.

So what’s the difference between clean and whole?

Could it be a glimpse of this truth–Christ was born to all, Christ died for all, yet only some surrender to praise Him as Lord and become a servant?

Lord, please make me your true servant. Let me not raise my hand to receive what you give me without falling at your feet to praise and serve. This Christmas, may I not celebrate the fact that you came without using my life here to follow.

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What’s Your Mile Marker?

25 Oct
Sharing my journey from Good Girl to God’s Girl has me celebrating. And what a thing that is, as many of my loved ones are sick and battling serious situations today. 
A heart that’s able to be joyful in my relationship with God while pouring out the prayers of great need for my loved ones — all at the same time– that’s what turning myself over to Him has done. Let’s keep going, Lord!
A heart in transition; that’s what I want to share with you today. This is a poem from my journal. It’s a mile marker to me as I reflect on it now, a marker of how God began to empty my heart of the old stuff and transform it into a pure heart for Him. It’s a daily process by the way. 
Here’s my journal entry as I wrote it,  back when I first started this journey. A journey of becoming fully and purposefully His instead of routinely His.

 Lord, Be Exalted in My Heart 

God, I believe in who you are
Shaper of moon, earth and stars
Show me how and where to start
So you can rule inside my heart

 

Jesus, You saved me from eternal death
This earth won’t hold my last true breath
To work and play and church I go
Your hymns, commands, and truths I know
 
But God, my prayers are so routine
My do’s and don’ts can’t make me clean
What good comes from this outward game
If in my heart, I’m still the same
 
I try so hard to do what’s right
Performing, working, holding tight
But in my heart You do not see
Yourself exalted, only me
 
Wanting purpose and security
To be known and feel free
I think that now I finally see
I must search for You, not for me
 
At last to find all that I need
Your plan holds my identity
Only faith counts as righteousness
This, my Lord, You will bless
 
Your words are life, Your works are great
On You alone, my Lord, I wait
You are the God of the patriarchs
Lord, be exalted in my heart

Damaging Detour – “Good Girl” Series Post 3

18 Oct
Welcome back to post #3 from the “Good Girl to God’s Girl” series.
Last time I shared my mantra, “Being Right Is Not Who I Am.” 
God had revealed my true condition:  Much of my identity was rooted in myself, in what I did or didn’t do. That’d been my main problem.
Think of it this way. Even within the heart of a true believer, vast detours can take place.
Self-centered living drives the Good Girl.
Christ-centered living drives God’s Girl.
So how could I do the 180 degree turn and shift my thoughts and heart away from self and to my God?
I couldn’t. But God could.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

The first thing I needed to do was pray to God and admit the pride in my heart, and ask for His forgiveness and His renewal.
Here are some personal notes from my journal during that time.
God, you can see my good motives and genuine care for people. But, you can also see my selfishness, the laziness in my approach to you. My desire to be in control and produce immediate results. I believe you created me with special care, giving me abilities to be used for your kingdom. I do not want to lose you in the middle of obedient routines. I believe you can teach me and show me how to be fulfilled and submitted all at the same time. Only you have what I need.
Another key verse became my earnest prayer.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting  Psalm 139: 23 – 24  (NIV).

What might God reveal to you about your own identity? We can always go further, releasing more of us to be filled with more of Him.
Leave a comment, what’s one thing you sense God asking you to let go of to move closer in relationship to Him?

False Identity – Good Girl to God’s Girl Series (#2)

13 Oct
“Have you ever failed?”
The question stopped me. Made me pause.  A coach asked me this question one morning while I was in over-analysis mode about a car purchase. Should I or shouldn’t I? I didn’t want to make a mistake.
Pride.
A vehicle purchase of all things. This is what I was spending my time discussing.
Measures. The cost. The value. The smart thing to do.
But that question: Have you ever failed? It jolted me. It shifted my perspective. Those words forced me to realize where my identity rested.
Me. What I did. Performance. Being Right.
The answer was yes. I’d recently failed in a business. And I wanted to avoid any type of failure ever again. It stung. It tasted bad. It dented the armour of me.
“I was tired of acting free when I was not, tired of acting strong when I was in fact weak.” That’s a quote from Lisa Bevere’s book Out of Control and Loving It, and it depicts exactly where I lived at the time.
The car discussion was a snapshot of the pressure I put on myself in everyday life.  I had gotten so accustomed to doing the “right” things and living an “obedient” life, that it’d become a false identity for me.
People unintentionally reinforced my performance-based identity. They’d say how efficient, reliable, loyal I was.
Nothing wrong with that, except for what they couldn’t see on the inside.
I was focused on tasks. I didn’t focus on God. I knew right from wrong. I’d invited Jesus into my heart at age nine. I went to church every week. I listened to christian radio.
I also ran my own life within a box of do’s and don’ts.
I didn’t spend precious time satisfying myself in God. I was only satisified by tangible tasks being done. Items crossed off a long list. Bank account balances showing progress. Anything I could measure. Something I could control.
That same day, I developed a mantra. “Being Right Is Not Who I Am.” I repeated it to myself over and over. Especially when I felt the perfectionist rising inside.
It may sound silly, but for a good girl who fell into the trap of always trying to do the right thing, it was groundbreaking. Paradigm shifting. It also created the obvious question: Who am I?
When my coach asked me this, I said, “Just another child of God.”
Lord, forgive me for the word “just.” What a gift that I am yours and that is everything. You are more than enough.
That’s where my journey from good girl to God’s girl really took off.
What are you more hungry for than God? What attaches itself to you, good or bad, as your identity that’s not from God?

Linking up with

Life: Unmasked

Joel Osteen and the Right Question

7 Oct

This article from Charisma magazine caught my attention. The headline reads “Osteen Willing to Vote for Candidate of Different Faith.” http://www.charismanews.com/us/32112-osteen-willing-to-vote-for-candidate-of-different-faith

A summary of Joel’s recent television interview with Piers Morgan brings up many controversial ideas. Would he vote for someone of a different faith? A Mormon? A Jew? A Muslim? 

As if that wasn’t enough to stir the pot (or perhaps get high TV ratings), the conversation went on to discuss homosexual marriage. Would Osteen perform one? Would he attend one?

These may be attention grabbing questions, but they are the wrong questions. The wrong focus. And, they’re asking answers of the wrong person.

I’m reminded of Israel’s desire for an earthly king, like all the other nations around them. You can read these accounts in 1 Samuel 8. God said to his prophet, Samuel, in response to the people’s demands for a king. “…they have rejected me as their king” 1 Samuel 8:7b  (NIV). 

God had chosen Israel as his own people, yet they wanted to conform to what the other nations had, a man to serve as their leader. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles” 1 Samuel 8:19b-20 (NIV). 

A long line of kings followed which you can read about in 1st and 2nd Kings. Some did good, some did evil.

What about us? As Christians, do we still want to be like other people? Are we still looking to other leaders to tell us what to think and do instead of to our holy God, and his Word which stands forever?

God provided us with Jesus as our forever King. Our forever High Priest. Our forever Redeemer. The most important question was asked by Jesus himself:  “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15 (NIV).

Our standing with the Lord our God is individual. Jesus died to make us the reconciled children of God. (See Galations 1: 3 – 5.)  Yet, we live in a world with many other examples around us. We choose who influences us. Do you choose the world or the WORD? (See Romans 12:2.) 

Once you choose God, he creates growth.  God uses his word in a willing heart to create a transformation. 

Back to the Old Testament kings as an example, Josiah’s father did not do right by the LORD. He did evil. However, Josiah honored the LORD in his heart and in his actions as king of Judah. In Josiah’s command, the Lord’s temple was being repaired. The book of law from Moses’s time was discovered and Josiah had it read aloud to him.

Josiah did two major things in response to what was read.

  1. He tore his clothes (to show grief and repentence of the wrong God’s people had commited)
  2. He inquired of God for direction. (See these events in 2 Kings 22 (particularly v11 – 13; 18 – 20) and Ch 23 (particularly 1 – 3; 21 – 25.) )

God still uses his word to bring willing hearts back to him. The earthly kings of Isreal and Judah all passed away. Current earthly influences will all pass away one day.

Read 1 Peter 1: 13 – 25.  Pray and stand fast in God’s word. The only imperishable life, the only imperishable kingdom. The only thing that stands forever.

Who is king in your heart?

The most important thing?

6 Sep
This morning, I read the following sentence in a journal with a quoted scripture. It read, “Nothing is more important than our obedience to God.”  The verse offered was Luke 11:28: He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
I opened my Bible to Luke 11 to get the context. The scripture noted was Christ’s response to a woman’s declaration after witnessing Jesus cast out a demon from a mute man.
 27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
 28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”    Luke 11:27 – 28 NIV
The first few words of verse 28 reminded me of the beatitude verses we’ve been studying. Today, we come to the following.
Matthew 5:7 – 8  (NIV)
Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy. 
Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
Heart is the connector for me on all of these verses. I believe Jesus’s response in Luke 11:28 urges us to see we are not blessed based on birth, family position, or position in society. Rather, a person is blessed if they will hear the word of God and be changed by it. A true change creates resulting actions.
Mercy is an act of compassion. Compassion comes from the heart.
Mercy, compassion, pureness of heart — they all come from a willingness to hear the word of God and be changed by it. A willing heart. A heart with faith.
The faith-filled heart is a foundation to all things of importance. This too, is a gift from God.

Lord, fill us with renewed faith today. Overcome our doubts, and our unbelief, our grief. Faith releases us to obey  Your promptings. I praise you, Jesus, as the author and perfector of my faith. (see Hebrews 12:2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c24En0r-lXg  Let Faith Arise, by Chris Tomlin.

True Hunger = Empty Hands

30 Aug
We’ve made it to Matthew 5:6 in our focus on the beatitudes.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; for they will be filled.”
I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, a couple of words in this verse likely evoke different thoughts in today’s culture than when originally spoken. “Hunger” and “righteousness.” 
Have you ever experienced a desperate state of hunger? I haven’t, not to a point of entering starvation. It’s always been within my ability to satisfy my need (or to be real, more often my desired craving.)
What about righteousness? Outside of scripture, the most common form I hear of this word is “self-righteous.”  What a negative connotation that brings, and the opposite of what the verse addresses.
Matthew 5:6 is saying those who recognize their own emptiness and inability to satisfy a true hunger for right standing before the holy God, they will be filled. Not the ones who only want the benefits of a mighty God. Not ones who want to compare themselves to others and be called righteous. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness recognize a crucial need for knowing God and being close to Him, and understand they must rely on God to fill that need.
I’m reminded of a song, part of the lyrics say, “Blessed are the ones who understand, we’ve nothing to bring but empty hands.” The song is Fall Apart by Josh Wilson.
Here the entire song here, with lyrics posted.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKISYTwnn0A
God, here are my empty hands.
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