Resist Hate = Embrace Love

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus/John 16:33

Last night, I had a terrible time sleeping. Tossing and turning, I felt unrest in body and soul. I told God, ‘I feel braced for bad news.’

His answering whisper in my soul was from the verse above: ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

After sleeping less than two hours, I awoke early, still anxious. He led me to a song by Rich Mullins in my inspirational playlist. The words that penetrated my soul went something like this:

There’s bound to come some trouble in this life… hold onto Jesus, hold on tight. He’s been there before and He knows what it’s like. You’ll find He’s there.

After listening to the sweet melody and comforting words of this classic Rich Mullins song, I searched His Spirit as to, ‘what next?’ I felt pressed to switch on the news, something I almost never do, for I don’t watch daytime TV.

The headlines were screaming across several channels: 50+ Dead, 200 injured… over 400 taken to hospitals in Las Vegas. Largest mass shooting in U.S. 

As my mind and emotions struggled to take in the devastating, overwhelming news and images, I realized God had been prepping me all night long. He was one step ahead, leading me, letting me know He was still in control.

God is real. He talks to His kids. He wants us to understand He does not prevent all pain in this world, but He promises to be with us no matter what we face.

 

One of the things we hear a lot these days is the phrase, ‘resist hate’. That is actually good advice. But I find many who proclaim it seem to lack real know-how. You see, to fight a negative, you must replace it with a positive. To resist hate, we must embrace Love.

Love is more than a concept. It comes from somewhere, a very pure, living source, a Person. His name is Jesus, the Creator who made us and gave all for us, Who loves us without end. He is Truth. He IS Love. In His presence, hate cannot survive.

So, connect with the source today. Embrace Love. The world so desperately needs Him.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— John 1:12

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Heart of God

Yesterday morning brought one of those unusual God-moments, a touch of love in the midst of my human nonsense. Some will think I am a nut. I am a nut. A nut for the Savior Who loves me no matter what mess I make!

My dietary health has been a challenge the last couple of years. As a result of long ignorance on the diet/immune system connection, my digestive system suffered at the hands of an often unhealthy diet. I’ve been trying to do better since I realized the cause, but admit it is a struggle. Old habits are hard to break.

Yesterday morning I woke up late, and in my hurry I wondered if I could eat cold pizza for breakfast instead of making myself something healthy which would take longer. Wallowing in guilt over that decision, I gingerly asked the Lord if He thought it would be okay for me to eat just one piece of cold pizza.

I heard His Spirit say in a rather formal manner, “I will authorize it… one piece.” I was a little surprised He answered at all, to be honest, and moreso over the permission. Amazed and relieved, I started munching on a slice of cold pizza with my coffee.

After a few bites I thought, this would be better if I heated it! So, I turned on our countertop griddle and attempted to heat the half piece remaining. As I ate the freshly heated half, so much better than the first, I thought to myself, I really want to heat another piece and I’ll just call it breakfast and lunch!

Another guilt wave hit me. I knew the Lord had only ‘authorized’ one piece. But knowing I was going to do it regardless, shamelessly petitioned Him for grace anyway. Again, I was shocked at the generous reply in my spirit, “eat it with your homemade dressing”.

My homemade salad dressing is extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar with spices. That type of vinegar is an excellent detoxing tool. I was surprised and thought, what a good idea! And I was grateful for the grace even though still ashamed.

After pouring some dressing into a little cup for dipping, I went to return the container to the fridge. Before closing the door, I heard the Spirit say, “more”. So, I drizzled more into the cup and headed back to the fridge again.

A second time, I heard the Spirit say, “more”. I obeyed, but as I looked on the growing amount, perhaps a full half cup at this point, I wondered how on earth I was going to eat all of that dressing. Oh no, did He want me to drink it? Detox drinks are made every day with apple cider vinegar. I cringed at the thought. It would serve me right for cheating with pizza for breakfast!

When I finally sat down with my second piece of hot pizza and half cup of dressing, still feeling bad about myself, I struggled to soak as much dressing as I could into each bite. It seemed to be going nowhere fast. I dreaded being convicted to drink it, so I knowingly cheated, pouring the whole amount all over the pizza, most of it dripping off onto the plate. My hope was I would have an excuse to throw it away when I was finished eating!

More guilt. I had become completely nonsensical! Working every angle to get around what I feared would be the Lord’s condemnation and anticipated punishment.

Can you relate? How many times do we do exactly the same, in all types of situations, trying to maneuver ourselves around God?

By this time, I vaguely realized if I’d just cooked myself a couple of eggs, it would have taken less time than all the pizza manipulations! Still more shame washed over me.

When finally I took the last bite and gave up wrestling my conscience over breakfast, I looked down at the plate and saw something that made me gasp… and laugh.

There swimming in a pool of wasted olive oil, vinegar and spices was a blob of pulpy tomato sauce in a very distinct shape. It had oddly formed a perfect heart, looking all the more real with its bright red, fleshy appearance.

The little, lifelike heart in the midst of the mess I’d created whispered a clear reminder of the very real heart of God, of His wish for me to chill out and rest in His love. I laughed and laughed over His cuteness in the midst of my ridiculousness.

He knew the amount of dressing would be overwhelming, knew exactly what I would do… saw all my manipulations, and still waited for the perfect opportunity to show His heart and encourage me not to take myself so seriously.

Now, I know some people think, there is no way God does anything like that. Perhaps you grew up being taught God is as black and white as the words printed on the pages of your Bible. Maybe some stiff adult convinced you He is austere, He doesn’t play! Well, I’m here to tell you, you need to think again!

I’ve seen God’s humor so many times over. Think of how silly and playful so many of us are, we humans. He made us in His image, remember? So, He has a sense of humor, too. Only, unlike most humans, His is combined with purity and love. It is never sarcastic or mean-spirited, and He doesn’t pull pranks. His humor is sweet, cute and innocent.

God knows life has enough difficulty. I believe He interjects moments of humor to give us joy and help us lighten up. Just like how we crave those times with our closest family and friends, I think the Savior wants to share moments of love and laughter with us.

Open your mind, and get to know another side of God today. Draw near to Him, surrender to His love and pray for His Holy Spirit to fill you. Then, watch for Him to give you messages of love… to play with you in ways that let you know He is with you, that He loves you… that you can relax in His presence.

He is just that personal… and extraordinary.

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You and Me Time

Do you have a relationship that is extra special in your life? A spouse, friend or family member, someone you make time for just because you enjoy the relationship and are blessed by it? How does it feel when you have not seen that person in a while? Something is missing, you feel out of sorts or lonely, perhaps… Have you ever had the thought or made the statement to that person, we need ‘you and me time’!?

This morning, as I rose to face the challenges of the day, I said to Jesus, ‘Lord, I don’t know where to begin.’ He said back quickly in my spirit, We need you and Me time.

Isn’t that amazing? He is so personal and loving. He knew the thing I most needed to settle my busy mind and sort my day was to sit in fellowship with Him. I needed to soak in His calming presence and our loving relationship. And He needed it, too. We don’t often think in those terms, but He desires our presence maybe more than we desire His.  He craves ‘you and Me time’ – those loving moments together!

So, with His prompting, I poured a steaming cup of coffee, grabbed my laptop and curled up on the sofa. The first thing I did was play a few worship songs. Godly music so quickly saturates the atmosphere around me and makes it holy. As I respond to the words, and use them to love my Father, Savior, and welcome His Spirit, His presence surrounds me with unconditional love and joy.

Reading and pondering His Word are the next step. It doesn’t have to be more than a verse or two. But getting Scripture inside us arms us against the assault of lies that constantly come from the world every day. Truth from His Word keeps our mind wise to the enemy and lights our steps.

Another thing I do is talk to the Lord, and listen. It is so common to think of prayer as mainly a one-way street. But it is actually a conversation.

When we learn to walk surrendered and filled with the Holy Spirit, we begin hearing the Lord speak to us. To grow our ability to hear Him, we must regularly embrace quiet… and listen. Over time, we begin recognizing His voice. He loves to surprise us at times how clearly His Spirit whispers words of love and guidance into our soul.

So, have you had your ‘You and me time’ with Jesus today?

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 NKJV

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20 NLT

The Burden of Pride

In my youth, I remember hearing often the comforting verse, cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you (I Peter 5:7). The word care was understood to be some type of burden. At the time, in my young mind I thought a burden was only something that caused worry or sorrow.

This morning, the Spirit showed me that pride is as difficult a burden as worry. Maybe more difficult. Pride can be a lion ready to shred others at any provocation.

How quickly do we take offense to the slights of others? All it takes is a short drive down the road to bring out my lion. “She cut me off!” “He raced too fast around me, how dare he!” Pride lurks so close to the surface, it takes next to nothing to have it springing out, claws extended!

Yet, traffic offenses are mostly impersonal. Strangers cutting us off are nothing compared to someone familiar getting in your face and yelling at you in front of others. To fight off the lion in those moments and find grace and forgiveness is truly tough.

What do we do with this care, this burden that could become an out-of-control beast? Paul said cast it upon Christ. The word translated cast in I Peter 5:7 could mean either place it or throw it in Greek. The lion of pride is surely one that needs to be thrown! Don’t wait, or it might catch you with its claws in the process of trying to take someone else out.

The next time you are wounded by someone, and the burden of pride comes roaring out like a lion, throw it quickly upon Jesus! Let Him dissolve it into peace, reminding you He understands pain and humiliation very well, and let Him restore your spirit by filling you with His.

Challenge to the People of God

For anyone who knows Christ, this is a quick, personal challenge burning in my heart today:

Do you find yourself despairing over the atmosphere of our country and the direction she is headed, the division, violence, etc? I know you are praying about it. But, have you fasted yet? Fasting is the ultimate spiritual weapon.

According to Christ, ‘some things are broken only by prayer and fasting.’ So, until we have fasted, the truth is we have not yet even begun to fight.

I wonder what would happen these next few weeks in our nation if all of us fasted for her one meal a week, or more?

Pass it on…

[Do not fast if you know you have a physical ailment that makes it unsafe! See a doctor, if you need to be sure!]

Praise, Peace, and Comfort

On this, National Day of Prayer, the Lord led me to Psalm 34. What a beautiful song of praise and assurance as we and so many are fasting and praying for our nation. Be encouraged, read the words of King David and may His lovingkindness touch you today!

Psalm 34

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.

Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 
Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 
What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 
Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 
Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.
15 
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 
He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
21 
Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

English Standard Version (ESV)

Fasting For America on May 5th

The people of God need no convincing that something is wrong in America. We hear of growing violence from both within and without our country in the news. Division on many important issues seems to widen. Each year our culture further alienates biblical truth and the strength and spirit of our nation are weakening. Godly people are praying, have been praying, for a long time. So, why the continued downward trend?

Consider an answer right out of the mouth of Christ. When the disciples came to Him asking why they could not cast out a particular demonic spirit, Jesus replied, “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). I believe we are at the place in America where prayer alone is not enough.

It is time for us to do more. The Lord has impressed on my heart to call the people of God to spiritual battle on behalf of our country using the ultimate spiritual weapon He revealed to us: fasting. For this reason, I urge you, please join me in prayer and Fasting For America on National Day of Prayer, Thursday, May 5, 2016.

Watch in days ahead for additional information about Fasting For America on May 5th, and for tips on fasting. It is an old discipline and the most powerful spiritual weapon in a Christian’s life.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (earthly) but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.  II Corinthians 10:4 NKJV

People of God, I urge you to consider fasting regularly, for the needs in your home and for our country. How much of Heaven and earth could we impact if we all fasted one meal per week? Or one day per month?

Thank you for visiting Fasting For America. Please follow us and share the fasting event on May 5th with your family of faith. God bless you!