My bible study this morning was in Proverbs 11. As I studied verse 3: “the integrity of the upright shall guide them: but all the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” I looked into the enduring word bible study and read their definition of integrity: “living a trustworthy life without shame or secrets.” I know what it is like to want to hide something. I have done it for years with my eating. Raise your hand if you have ever eaten a whole box of cookies and hid the container deep in the trash so no one would know. 🙋♀️ Maybe a mistake was made at work and everyone knows it but doesnt know who did it and you do everything in your power to hide that it was you. Or maybe you said something bad about someone and it got back to them and you do everything you can to jusitfy or lie about what you really said. Why do we do this? Shame. We are ashamed of ourselves. Shame comes in many forms. Embarrassment, depression, or hatefulness. There is a cure for that. The bible instructs us to live with integrity. Secrets are kept in the dark. When you bring them from dark to the light then healing of shame begins. We are also instructed to be humble. We all make mistakes. Be humble enough to live with integrity and shine light on what you did instead of putting so much energy into hiding it in the dark. “No, the cookies didnt mysteriously disappear and the kids didnt eat them. I ate the whole bag and threw them in the trash. I need help to pray over this.” “It was me that made that mistake and this is what I plan to do to make sure I dont do that again. If you have any other ideas I would like to hear them as well.” “Yes, I did get caught up in gossiping and it was about you. Im sorry about what I said and I pray you will forgive me and we can work through this. Im so sorry I hurt you.” Living a life of integrity doesnt mean you wont make mistakes. It means you own up to your mistakes and find ways to make it right. Mistakes have literally been made by the most important people in the bible from the beginning of time. Remember good ol Adam and Eve trying to hide in the garden like God didnt know where they were? Of course He knew, but like Adam and Eve, He wants us to bring it to the light willingly. Here it is Lord. I did it. Please help me correct it. And He will. Everytime.
So many dont follow Jesus or the bible because it tells them they cant do all these things that they really want to do. He never says you cant do them. He says He doesnt want you to. Jesus died for our sins, and as the bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:23: “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is beneficial.” He doesnt want you to do them because they will harm you. He isnt a God of “because I said so”. He is a protector. He wants you to behave in a way that benefits you and He knows the way. He doesnt want us to be obedient to fulfill some pride filled “I have rule over you” type mentality. Jesus is humble and kind. The law isnt there to provide a way to prove your salvation or to earn your salvation. The law is there to protect you from harm and an unhealthy life. We live for Him and His way because we learn we can love and trust Him. Like when a trainer tells you how to work out and eat to lose weight. You can trust that what they tell you will give you the promised results if you are obedient to it. Yes, you can fully believe Christ is your saviour, yet never live for Him. When you do that you are truly missing out on the power afforded to you by putting full trust in Him and knowing His way is right. God made the law. Jesus provided a way for us to be forgiven for falling short of obeying the law, but He did not take the law away. It is there to help, guide, and be beneficial to us all. Be willing to let go of what is holding you back. Ask Jesus to transform your rebellious spirit into an obedient heart. Before long you will see the changes. You will appreciate the changes and wonder why you held on to the other stuff for so long. Jesus doesnt want to order you around. He wants you to come to the Father willingly. He wants you to see how you can trust Him with all your heart. On the solid rock you stand. All other ground is sinking sand. May Christ be with you all, Amen
I love this excerpt from To Kill a Mockingbird, but these days I would replace head with heart. Not everyone who comes at you has a problem with you. Many times the problem is within themselves and when you choose not to fight but to love like Jesus then you start to make a difference. You plant a seed in their heart and you give yourself freedom. Freedom from drama, anger, and regret of words you said. Replacing a habit of fighting back with a habit of love will allow God to move more in your life and others. Stop looking at how much they hurt “me” and look for how much they have been hurt. When you walk in strong confidence with God and allow Him to declare your value then what others say doesn’t sting so hard. And when it does sting, you know where to take it so you can release it quick and get back to your Father’s business.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
“Those whome I love I rebuke and discipline.” Ugh, who wants to be rebuked and disciplined? I already know Im not perfect, no need to make me feel bad for it! But that’s the thing, He knows you arent perfect and He isnt the one condemning you. Conviction is loving guidance and when you rebel against it then you often feel condemned. Submit and surreneder to the conviction of your loving Father (yes, Lord, I acknowldege my sin, I ask for forgivness and ask for You to step in and change me. I can do nothing without You, and Im thankful to know You will walk with me every step of the way.). As soon as you step in to His goodness and mercy that follow you all the rest of your life (Psalm 23:6) then you feel the condemnation fall away. If you were ever in sports and you told your parents that the coach always seems to be on you, always calling your name, and your parents said its because coach sees your potential. Its when the coach stops calling your name that you should worry. Same here. When you feel the conviction of God in your life dont think of that as a bad thing. Its when you stop feeling it that you should worry.
Is Jesus knocking on your door? Are you scared to let Him in because you dont want the conviction? Are you scared you wont be good enough? Pray over that. We are all found wanting, my friend. We all fall short. If any of us got it right all the time then why did Jesus die on that cross? He is here to change us, each and every day. That conviction of love we may not be used to right away but dont let it scare you away. Our momentary afflictions are but a vapor in this life. We have a whole eternity awaiting us. What door do you want open to you? I can tell you which door Jesus wants you to open right now. He loves you. He made you for such a time as this. Open that door.
I listened to the story of Jesus and Barabbas the other day. It had me thinking about all the battles with temptation. You know that one or two things that are really tough for you? The ones you pray hard over and wish God would just take them away cause the battle is so hard and you keep failing. So, you have Jesus, good and pure and full of love and then you have Barabbas, evil, hateful, all the bad things a person can be. They are both wrapped in chains and set before the crowd. Pilate tells the crowd to choose. Which of them do they want to set free? The next time the temptation hits you, whatever that thing is that you have really been working on, picture yourself in that crowd, given that choice. Will you remove the chains from Jesus or Barabbas?
Lord, in Your name I speak over this virus and the fear and panic it has caused. You say resist the devil and he has no choice but to flee. Where You are he has no power. He is a conquered foe. I speak in complete faith and reliance on Your promise that You are in control of this. Ask not, have not…so I ask of You to release this fear, to renew in us a new spirit Lord, to remind us that You take care of the birds in the sky and You hold us even higher than them. What can man or virus do unto us when we have You? I am thankful that You will take every bad circumstance of this virus and use it for Your good. Im thankful that I dont have to sit back and worry constantly knowing that You have promised to provide my needs. I pray this over everyone out there that they turn their hearts towards You so they can live in the same confidence that You have given me that I have NOTHING to fear. That I am to worry over NOTHING. Thank you Lord for easing anxiety, depression, worry and fear. Thank You Lord that this virus will clear out quickly and not a speck will be left behind. I thank you Lord that all tragedies will turn to blessings and people see You and Your good work through all of this. I pray for the lost Lord that are living in such fear over this. I pray for those trying to rely on their own strength and finding ways of comforting themselves without turning to You. I thank you that You are right there waiting for them with open arms. I ask forgiveness and thank You for Your grace when I fall short of the trust and faith I know to always have in You. We love You Lord, we trust You. Thank You for not forsaking us. In Christ name I pray, Amen
I am a very protective person. Once I care about you, I got your back. Someone swings on you then Im swinging on them. That has always been my nature. Let me tell you my downfall on this characteristic of mine. When I hear someone speak bad about God, Jesus, or my faith….I want to swing. I get mad more than concerned. Show me someone that is on the fence and Ill come running to try to love them over to the Savior’s side. Show me someone that is all the way over the other side and I am MAD. At THEM. I have been praying for guidance on this and God has finally shown me that I am trying to protect Him. Can you imagine that? Little ol me trying to protect God? Yall, this is the mindset that starts religious wars. And I dont want that. Even though I have learned to bite my tongue, my heart still fills with anger. Anger in the heart always finds a way out. People against God dont need my anger, and God certainly does not need my protection.
Thank You for showing me where I need to love more and put my anger down. Please help us all to see where we can be a light in the darkness, even in the darkest of places. Please remind us that our reactions can be seeds planted of good in Your favor. In Christ Name, Amen
2 Timothy 2:23-26
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? …
Does conviction scare you? It used to scare me, too. I used to read bible verses and feel it and think “oh great, here is something else I do wrong. Just another thing that makes me a big ol disappointment.” I am forever grateful that God kept showing me His love and giving me words of encouragement thru sermons and bible studies. I am forever thankful that God answered my prayers for wisdom and to understand Him better. Now when I feel conviction I push aside condemnation and become excited for the next change God is going to make in me. When I felt condemned I felt that I was the one that had to change it. I worried over it. Tried with my own might to change. Then I learned more and more about how God really works. About how much He really loves me. And as long as I keep my heart turned towards Him and practice my faith in Him fully trusting Him, then change comes on its own. Do you know your Father like that? In this world we learn it is hard to trust people. But God is not people. Learn Him. Love Him. And you will find your joy in His conviction as well.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
A couple years ago I kept a journal. Well, I loosely kept a journal. When I felt overwhelmed with thoughts battling in my head then I would write it down. One entry I wrote that I just wanted God to transform the monster in me. I remember how I felt when I wrote that. I felt so far behind. I had such an ache in my heart for realizing how wrong I had been living my life. Part of me thought that living blindly felt better because I didnt have this realization back then. I felt scared because, what if I couldnt change? What if I had gone too far and I was too damaged? No matter how I felt I forced myself to push forward. I prayed for the strength to push forward. I stood away from the crowd for a minute and focused on my relationship with God. I focused on being obedient as best I could. I soaked up church, sermons, bible study like never before, and for a while that was all I listened to. Change started to appear. Sometimes I felt like I had leaped over a wide river. Other times I felt like I was barely shuffling an inch at a time. Im overjoyed to say God has transformed the monster in me. I will always have work to do. I will always pray for God to keep me on the potter’s wheel. But that ache in my heart? It’s gone. Love has taken its place. I want that love to grow and overflow onto EVERYONE I meet. I dont know what your journey will be but I know someone out there is ready to start. I pray for you, with you and about you. Happy trails, friend! The road ahead is glorious!
May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
2 Thessalonians 3:5