Luke 6: 35-36

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I watched the film “The Shack” featuring Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington. Worthington’s character was filled with anger toward God and hatred and bitterness toward the man who killed his daughter. At one point, it was explained to Him that we all are God’s children and His desire is to redeem and reconcile with the ones who are lost – no matter their past.

While we are quick to try to explain how someone else’s sin is worse than what we’ve done, Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. We weren’t told that there were different punishments for sins that fell into group A or B. While God does judge and discipline, He also forgives and shows mercy. God doesn’t look at whether we deserve forgiveness, mercy, or compassion. When we repent, He doesn’t hold our past against us.

Luke 6: 35-36 tells us to love, do good, and be merciful just as we would want the Father to be with us. If we are to call ourselves “Christ-like”, we must reflect the Father. #LoveDoGoodBeMerciful #ThankHimThursday

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Luke 6: 35-36 (MSG) I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

Luke 6: 35-36 (KJV) But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

1 John 2: 5-6

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We’re not perfect, so of course, there are times we may fall short; however, whom do we reflect more in our intents and actions? Do our actions reflect Christ? Or do our actions make people question whether we’re truly children of the God we claim? #FollowLiveLikeChrist #WitnessingWednesday

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1 John 2: 5-6 (MSG) But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.

Colossians 1:16

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Despite our flaws, the One who made and is all still desires us. When we were ignorant and running wild, a plan was set in motion meant to bring us back to God. Sometimes walking in His plan isn’t easy because anything worth having requires some fight and sacrifice and faith. When those times come and you’re weary or you feel like giving up, remind yourself of Colossians 1:16. Why be overwhelmed when you believe and serve the one who “made everything in heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we can’t; the spirit world with its kings and kingdoms, its rulers and authorities”? Why doubt who you are in Him when we “were made by Christ for his own use and glory”? #CreatedForHim #TrustingHimTuesday

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Colossians 1:16 (KJV) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him

Ephesians 4:1-3

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Have you ever read Ephesians 4: 1-3? I’m pretty sure many in the Body of Christ have not. I was blessed to have been raised in a church that was based on the Word and not on people’s feelings. It also didn’t allow drama in its doors. This was a sound upbringing, and it kept me completely oblivious to the foolishness of some of God’s people and the tomfoolery taking place in His houses.

As I grew older, I’d hear other people explain why they didn’t go to church or why they left church. Older (yet not matured) “saints” judging newcomers, making them feel unwelcomed and unloved. Hookups taking place at church events despite marital statuses. Visitors being discouraged to come back because of their clothes. Ministers wanting titles but refusing to serve. The list goes on.

Scripture tells us that we are to be the lights of the earth. People are to look to us to experience God’s love. Also, in the midst of a world seemingly overrun with wickedness, we are to be the voices crying out to God for change. How can His children moan and complain about the conditions of earth if we’re not all on one accord and actually walking as He intended?

We have a purpose. It was not given for the special attention but to build the Body and to restore those that are lost. Are you walking worthy of your purpose? #WalkWorthy #MeditateOnHimMonday

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Ephesians 4:1-3 (TLB) I beg you—I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord—to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. 2 Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.

Isaiah 26:9

 

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God has shown His love through countless actions. For instance, He’s kept me at peace even when there seemed to be chaos and uncertainty all around me. He’s opened doors of opportunity, proving His timing, providence, and favor. He’s healed physical and emotional pain and has seen me through long nights. He’s continued to forgive me when I’ve fallen short and keeps giving me chances to do better for Him. Despite my areas of lack and my past, He continues to treat me as if I’m a special individual worthy of His love and attention.

Confession time: When I take a true look at how I act, it doesn’t always say that I love God very much. Sometimes my actions scream, “I don’t love God as much as He loves me!” Looking at my actions convicts me and creates a desire in me to do better. Yes, God is perfect and all-powerful, but there are still things I can do to show Him that I love Him as Creator, Protector, Father …as God. I want to honestly tell God that “through the night my soul longs for you. Deep from within me my spirit reaches out to you.” (Isaiah 26:9 MSG) Do you? #CravingGodNightDay#SetApartSaturday

 

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Isaiah 26:9 (KJV) With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

Isaiah 26:9 (MSG) Through the night my soul longs for you. Deep from within me my spirit reaches out to you. When your decisions are on public display, everyone learns how to live right.

Luke 6:38

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In Luke 6:44, Jesus told those listening that a tree is known by its fruit. So then, the children of the Most High are known by what they produce – their actions, thoughts, intents of the heart. In verses 27-45, He described the noticeable difference in actions of Believers versus those of non-Believers and those “Believers” that don’t actively try to walk in righteousness.

One area He mentioned was giving. In most churches, we hear Luke 6:38 (Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure…) quoted during offering; but as His people, we should know that God doesn’t limit giving to money. When Jesus tells us to give, He wants us to freely give actions that reflect Him and His Father. For example, He wants us to give love and prayer even to those we don’t think deserve it [but if we think about it, do we honestly deserve it?], to be willing to give help and resources to others in their times of need, and to give mercy and forgiveness to all no matter how they wronged us [because where would we be without His mercy and forgiveness?].

Being able to willingly and freely give of ourselves demonstrates the true condition of our heart. Applying God’s principal of giving not only rewards us (as mentioned in v.38) but also helps to build our spiritual foundation in Him (v.48). Everything we have and whatever makes us ‘us’ – our resources, our abilities – was given by God so that we can help others. Don’t hold on so tight that you miss out on what else He’s trying to give you. #BeAGiver #ForgivenFriday

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Luke 6:38 (TLB) For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give—large or small—will be used to measure what is given back to you.

Ephesians 6: 12

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Paul told the Church of Ephesus a key that holds true today. In Ephesians 6:12 (KJV), he told them that they’re not going up “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”. What we as Believers oh so often forget is that our eyes don’t see everything going on around us. Sometimes we get so involved in the routine of our natural lives that we forget that we are literally in the midst of a war or as the Message Bible puts it: a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Satan is not content with being condemned, so he wants others to join him. What’s the saying? Misery loves company. Why should he be the only one to suffer for eternity if he can have company? John 10:10 tells us that Satan’s mission on earth is to steal, kill, and destroy. Our eyes get so focused on the people that he’s using that we get distracted from him – the real enemy.

Instead of being upset and complaining about what people are doing around us and to us, we must look with our spiritual eyes and recognize the enemy’s tactics. Was this done to distract me from my purpose? Why attack me? Was this an attempt to weaken me in God? Hmm, so what’s Satan really afraid of? He’s afraid that our growing stronger in God will allow us “to successfully stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11 AMP).

Don’t underestimate the enemy. Don’t underestimate yourself. Draw closer to God through fasting, prayer, and His word so that you can be strengthened in truth, righteousness, peace, and faith. Do what you need to stand strong against Satan. #BeAwareOfTheRealEnemy#ThankHimThursday

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Ephesians 6: 12 (AMP) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.

Ephesians 6: 12 (MSG) This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Matthew 5:14

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Because we have chosen to fashion our lives after Christ and the Word of God, Matthew 5:14 (TLB) tells us that we “are the world’s light — a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see”. Being Christ-like means that our lives – whether or not we realize it – are always on display for the world to see.

In Matthew 5, Jesus explains how following Him and living as He did requires a different level for our thoughts and our behaviors. Jesus gives examples of what we’re used to versus what we are to do as Believers. For example, we all know murder is wrong; but in verse 22, Christ talks about how we shouldn’t even harbor negative feelings for one another. We’re also used to being nice to those who are nice to us and (at least) avoiding those we can’t get along with. However, in verse 44, we’re challenged to “unselfishly seek the best or higher good for your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (AMP). For real, Jesus? Ugh.

Joining the Body of Christ will yield eternal reward and a beyond beautiful relationship with our Father and our Savior. Nevertheless, we can’t forget that we’re called to represent the Kingdom. Accepting Christ is accepting a new walk – a lifestyle different from the world. As His sheep, we’re to “be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48 AMP).

#MoreMatureInGod #WitnessingWednesday

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Matthew 5:14 (AMP) “You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden …

Matthew 5:14 (TLB) You are the world’s light — a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see.

Jeremiah 1:5

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I’ve felt like Jeremiah. Who am I to tell anyone what God has said? There are more “saved”, holy, experienced Believers that can write a blog or stand in front of a congregation and share a message. Though we tend to doubt ourselves and our abilities for whatever reason (age, flaws, lack of experience/education, etc.), we must keep in mind the words of the Lord in Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG): “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.”

The Creator knows all – our past, present, and future – and has woven us into His plan. He understands who we are. He sees our doubts and our fears. He was there when our past wasn’t stellar. He knows our darkest moments that we keep hidden, afraid of how others might look at us if they knew.

The same words He shared with Jeremiah are the same ones He left for us: “Be not afraid” (v. 8), “I have put My words in your mouth” (v. 9), “gird up your loins … do not be dismayed and break down” (v. 17), “I have made you today like a fortified city … giving you divine strength which no hostile power can overcome” (v. 18), “They will fight against you, but they will not [ultimately] prevail over you, for I am with you [always] to protect you and deliver you”(v. 19).

Our Omniscient Father has built us into His design in spite of how we feel about ourselves. We are the ones that must have the faith to trust Him and follow where He leads.

#HisChosenInstrument #TrustingHimTuesday

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Jeremiah 1:5 (AMP) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own]; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG) “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: a prophet to the nations — that’s what I had in mind for you.”

Mark 8:34-35

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What are we willing to sacrifice for God? We have our lives, our routines, and sometimes following, trusting, and drawing closer to God seems to be another thing on our to-do list. At times, we unfortunately don’t make Him a priority and we fit Him in where we have time in our schedule.

I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of it. “I’ll read my Word first thing in the morning,” I’ll tell myself. Or, “I’ll get my daily reading done during lunch.” Though I’ve made that plan, things will happen. I may not wake up as early as I intended. Or during lunch, I’ll have some things I need to get done instead.

Who else has been guilty of ignoring God because something just came up? Maybe we didn’t really want to do what He said just then, or we had our own way we wanted to do things. Maybe we were more concerned with how others would look at us and maybe treat us differently afterwards. In Mark 8:34 (AMP), Jesus told those around Him that to truly follow Him one had to “set aside selfish interests … [express] a willingness to endure whatever may come … [conform] to My example in living and, if need be, [suffer] or perhaps [die] because of faith in Me”.

After all He’s done for us, this shouldn’t even be a question, but how willingly are we to give up the “things” of this world and intently live for Him?

#HimFirstNotMe #MeditateOnHimMonday

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Mark 8:34-35 (AMP) Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake and the gospel’s will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God].