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Prisoner of Unforgiveness

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By: Carole L. Haines

I have stayed a prisoner to my unforgiveness and didn’t even know it. I should have known it. I’m sure God tried to tell me a million times, the Holy Spirit urging me to truly forgive from my heart, but I didn’t listen. I wanted to pick at the wounds, demand my rights, wallow in self-pity. The wounds festered, they grew infected, and spread everywhere throughout my bloodstream. I never thought about it like this before, but God’s Word tells us:
23 Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. (Prov. 4:23)

In the body, the heart is what carries the blood to all the organs and such, enabling us to think, and do all we do. But if there is an infection in the bloodstream, stemming from the heart, it will carry that poison throughout all the rest of our being and infect everywhere.
Guard means to:

  1. to watch, guard, keep
  2. to preserve, guard from dangers
  3. to keep, observe, guard with fidelity
  4. to guard, keep secret
  5. to be kept close, be blockaded
  6. watchman (participle)
    (Blue Letter Bible BLB)

I have not done these things when it comes to forgiveness. I have let unforgiveness run riot throughout my body by holding it in my heart. I kept asking God to restore unto me the joy of Salvation, this was His answer to me. The person I have needed to forgive more than anyone else, is myself. I still have much to let go of toward others, but God made it clear to me, that my greatest grudge was toward myself. He showed me that to forgive as He forgives us includes forgiving ME.

  1. The heart means: inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding, mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory
  2. inclination, resolution, determination (of will)
  3. conscience, seat of emotions and passions (BLB)

All these parts of myself became infected by my unforgiveness. My will, my heart, my emotions, my understanding, my memories, my conscience. All infected, all disturbed and twisted by unforgiveness.

Dearest Lord Jesus, Have mercy on me, an unforgiver. You have touched me at the sorest spot, and I run to you for the strength to forgive fully from my heart. Nothing is impossible with You. I see now. Help me to do the deep work of forgiveness toward all, holding nothing back. Please empower me, as I know You have given me. Please give me the want to and the desire to, forgive from my heart, as You have forgiven me. Amen

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How could we not recognize Him

by: Carole L. Haines

Watching MOVING ART New Zealand. Such beauty overwhelms my mind and ignites all my senses. How can we stare in the face of Nature at her most glorious and not recognize the fingerprint of God in every crevice and canyon? Yet in the glories of such pondering, even more stunning are the Words penned by John in His Gospel:

10 He was in the world,
and the world was created through Him,
yet the world did not recognize Him.
11 He came to His own,
and His own people did not receive Him.

(John 1:10-11)

He came, He walked, He meandered our streets, pulling at our hearts, drawing us toward Himself. Drawing us to the Father, and yet we did not see Him, we did not know Him. Our creator, who formed our inward parts and knit us together in our mother’s womb. How did we miss You, our Precious Lord, Creator and Savior? How could we not see You, Lord, when you came down to dwell among us? How could we not have Known the one who made us? The One who fashioned us to be who we are and bent down to earth to become one of us; so as to take all of our sins and rebellion upon Himself. Our sins had so marred our frames and hearts, yet you died and rose again to free us, to save us, to make us whole.  Forgive our blindness, Lord God, and open us to receive You fully now and forevermore. Amen

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Transformational Forgiveness

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by: Carole L. Haines

God showed me something very powerful recently. A close relative was coming to visit and I started to have all kinds of resentment and anxiety about that. Feelings of anger over things they had done in the past began to surface and before I knew it, I was mad at them before they even got here. When they arrived, I realized that the person that I was mad at didn’t even exist anymore, Jesus has so transformed them that they truly are a new creature in Christ. As believers, we are in a state of constant transformation. Who I was yesterday differs even from who I am today. God’s Word tells us that in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

However, context is so important. This whole section of Scripture says:

 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.”

Wow! From now on, as we look at one another in the Body of Christ, we are never to regard each other from a worldly, or fleshly point of view. Christ is transforming us all from the inside out. We may look the same but we are not the same at all. We are given the Ministry of reconciliation. God is reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. We do not have the right to look at our brothers and sisters from a point of view that is not held by God Himself. We only have a right to see others as He sees them.

My visit with this close relative went wonderfully and I found that not only has God transformed them, but me as well. We are truly new creatures in Christ and He is our Savior and transformer. Believe this for yourself, and Your Fellow Companions in Christ. This truth has been so freeing for me, that I felt God wanted me to share it with you all. Be Blessed.

 

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The Hand that made them

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By: Carole L. Haines

In The Gospel of John, there is one of the saddest statements ever penned.

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (John 1: 10-11 NIV)

The Creator of the World, the one through whom all things were made came here and many did not even recognize the hand of their Creator. Just who is this Hand of God who spoke the world into existence? Do we see His hand as the fingers writing on the wall, sealing our doom; or as the Hand that made us? What does the Hand of God have to do with me? Shall I kiss it or refuse it? Shall I spit on it or take it firmly into mine? Will I follow where He leads me or will I break away and try to do it my own way, in my own strength? It’s not usually all or nothing in answering these questions. Some tend to call on God when they have come to the end of themselves. While others commune with Him daily in a wonderful relationship. Still some spurn Him as the enemy of their freedom. But Jesus is our Creator and so much more than that.

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:14-17 NIV)

My heart weeps when I read the above passage in John 1. I have come to know Jesus as my precious and loving Creator, Savior and Friend. It actually hurts me when I think that some of those I love don’t know Him and don’t seem to want to. I pray for them often, but I can’t make them see Him as I see Him. I am powerless to open their eyes to the precious Hand that made and fashioned them into who they are. He filled them with all their potential and gifts, their personality and talents. But God directs us to pray for those who do not know Him yet. Don’t you love that word, YET? Just the sound of it inspires hope of a future fulfillment of our desire for our loved ones to walk with Jesus. His Word tells us how to pray for them. Here is one example of how to pray for your loved ones to come to know and treasure God, and the Hand that fashioned them.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(Colossians 1:9-14)

Sometimes I feel so helpless to reach those I love with Christ’s message of hope. They have ceased to listen to me. But God has His ways of reaching them and loving them beyond all that I could ever do. My call is to pray for them and to trust the Spirit to do His work in their hearts. I just place their names in the Scripture above and pray it over them. Perhaps you are feeling a deep desire for people you love to know Jesus. Pray this over them often, it brings hope and encouragement to us, and is filled with the Power of God toward them. Be Blessed.

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Works of Grace

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Photo by: Cody J. Haines

by: Carole L. Haines

Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:2-6)

When I read the underlined phrase above, The Spirit pricked my conscience about my number one stumbling block… people pleasing. Circumcision, for myself, represents a faith based on works rather than God’s Grace through Christ. When we look at verse 4, we can see that whenever we are trying to be justified in any way by whatever our own circumcision is, we have fallen away from grace.

Now does this mean that we have lost our Salvation? Of course not, I believe it means that we have shifted from living the life of faith, in that particular area, from grace into works. We begin to try to produce works based on abilities of the flesh instead of relying on Christ for His works of Grace produced within and through us. Now I am sure some will argue with me about this, and it is certainly not doctrine. But I sensed so strongly from the Lord this morning, that to try to please others instead of Him, alienates us from the Grace of God to live for Him alone, through His strength.

When I looked up the Original Greek for the words, fallen away and alienated, it really gave greater insight into what this passage actually means. To have fallen away can mean to have been driven off course, to have become inefficient, to become of no effect, to become powerless. 

Christ makes this very clear Himself throughout Chapter 15, of John’s Gospel.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. (John 15:5)

To rely on the approval of others or even on our own talents and strengths, is tantamount to circumcision in the Jewish Law. Now that is a strong statement, but it is what I sensed the Lord saying to me this morning, so I am sharing that with you.

He uses others and our gifts and strengths, but always through Christ, and under the umbrella of His Grace. Fruit bearing is beyond us, unless we stay strong in the Vine, as a branch, where He can easily flow through us and produce His Fruit.

Looking back at our original Scripture in Galatians 5, it fits perfect here to close with verse 6: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

So rest in Him, Dear Believers. Stay close to Him, and He will produce Beautiful Fruit through your life. The only thing that counts is faith in Jesus expressing itself through love.

 

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We want to see Jesus

DSCF5640by: Carole L. Haines

20 Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.”

22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

24 “I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop.[g] 25 The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:20-26)

We want to see Jesus; this is what we should desire to hear people say to us. We don’t want to have people gather around to hear or see us. We want them to see beyond us, to the One who inspires our teaching, our songs, our writing, our art. We want people to come to us, as these Greeks came to Philip, and say, “We want to see Jesus.”
When I looked up the meaning of the word ‘See,’ I was intrigued by one of the meanings; to see i.e. have an interview with, to visit.
Imagine interviewing Jesus. What questions would you ask Him? What would you want to know? Our lives should leave others wanting to see Jesus, to meet Him, to interview Him; not us. I don’t want people to ask me how I learned to sing, or write, or paint. I want them to ask me about Jesus. I want to disappear, and He is all they see.
Jesus tells us, 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

In such a way. Yes, I need to let my light shine in such a way, and only in ways, that people see beyond me and what I do, straight to Jesus. I want to learn the grace of being hidden, while still being seen. I want people not to ask about me, but to ask about Him, to come to me and say, “I want to see Jesus.”

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Masterpiece or Mosaic

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Artwork by Carole L. Haines

By: Carole L. Haines

When I was younger, I had big dreams, big ideas of becoming more than I am now.
I pictured myself becoming a Masterpiece in the hands of the Master. A Beautiful Sculpture, intricately fashioned, or perhaps a Painted Canvas with the Natural Beauty of a Forest enclaved waterfall. I certainly didn’t expect life to go the way it did. I have so much to be grateful for, and I am so very grateful. But I needed God to make me His own vessel, not my idea of His vessel. Perhaps some would see my life and think, “It’s such a shame, so much potential. Too bad this or that happened to her.” I used to think that way, and self-pity bloomed in my garden like a festering weed, choking out the life of the Truly useful plants. I spiraled down into a place of aloneness, comforting myself with the facts that I had a wonderful husband, three precious children and a God who loved me. I settled into my day to day life, with most thoughts of fruitfulness cast aside, regrets festering and spoiling many of the joys I daily experienced.

Many of my girlhood dreams had shattered, even grown-up dreams shattered as well. My details are not needed because we tend to compare war-wounds and that is not the point here. God brought me to a verse years ago, that just changed my life and began to birth in me a new perspective that I believe I should share. Perhaps it will bless some of you as He used it to bless me in one of my most bewildering and troubling trials. It’s tucked into a story in the Bible that is not often mentioned in sermons. Come to think of it, never in a single sermon have I heard this story talked about. It’s the story of Absalom, and David’s mistreatment of his son. The whole story is found in 2 Samuel 14. Please take the time to read the whole story, it is quite intriguing. But for our purposes I will just reveal the verse and what it has come to mean to me.

14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.
2 Samuel 14:14 (NLT)

When I first came upon this verse, I felt my life was ruined. As I said earlier, I gave up my dreams of being fruitful for God. I just began to live a life of taking care of my family, growing up my children and settling in. Life had crushed me by blows, one after another, after another. Like waves crashing over me that nearly drowned me and made it hard for me to even catch my breath. I was surprised to wake up and find I was still here, still alive. With all that had passed before me, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to be. When I asked God to take me home, He said that only one death was necessary, His. He wanted me to live and tell others my story and how He rescued me and has given me new life. My life did fill like the verse above says, “Water spilled out on the ground that cannot be gathered up again.”

But truly God does not just sweep life away. He does not give up on us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. Some of the things that happened, God could have prevented, really all of them, but He didn’t. He let things go the way they did.

God does not always save us from our fears, sometimes He saves us through them. We live through something we dreaded, something we were afraid of, and we find He is faithful in the loss of those dreams. I love how the verse says. “Instead, He devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from Him.” God was active in the trials I was going through. He was devising a way, not just sitting by watching it all unfold and hoping for the best. I have given God all the broken pieces of my life, the shattered shards and jewels of a life as I thought it should be, a life as it used to be. He has, and is, making a beautiful Mosaic Display of it. I never became a Masterpiece, but I am a Precious and brightly colored mosaic on the Art-Wall of God. Isn’t He just so good? Mosaics are my favorite works of art now, simply because I have become one

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