More of Heaven on Earth

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by: Carole L. Haines

One of the things that was prayed during our Prayer time at Church this Sunday was “On earth as it is in Heaven.” My heart has been aching for home lately, wanting to be with Jesus. As I reached out to Him during this prayer time, I yearned for heaven saying, “Lord, You know where my heart lies, I want to be with You.” But what I sensed Him speak back to my heart was, “How about if I bring more heaven to earth for you. It’s not time for you yet, to come to Me here. I will bring Heaven to earth for you. There is still work for you to do on earth.”

I was so blessed that God would care enough for my desire to be with Him to speak to my heart, as He often does.  His kindness, mercy and love are so amazing.  Some of the ways He brings more heaven on Earth are good, strong and reliable relationships with other believers. Fellowship that is pure and beautiful, is one of God’s greatest gifts to us.  We had a discussion this past week about Purity in a small group I attend, and I remembered the Beatitudes.

Matthew 5 (NASB)

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Truly, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Being transparent with God is one of our greatest ways to maintain purity and when we maintain purity, we see God more. So Precious ones, let’s bring more of Heaven to earth today by being pure and transparent with each other. None of us is perfect, all of us are flawed. Forgiveness, letting go of past hurts and moving on in Christ is one of our privileges as believers.
More of Heaven on Earth, yes Lord, let me be one of those whom You use to bless others in this way. Amen!

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The WHO and not the HOW

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By: Carole L. Haines

A Precious woman was recently sharing her difficulties and kept saying,
“I just don’t know how to do this? What steps do I take? I don’t know how to walk through this?”
As we began to pray for her as a group, God gave me a beautiful thing to pray over her. Here is what He gave me for her:

“Lord, I see this precious one is asking, How? But You are the lifter of her head.  I pray she will gently feel your Hand upon her face, lifting her head to gaze into Your eyes.  Fixing her eyes on You, Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of her faith. Guide her to stop asking How? And focus on the WHO. You, Lord, only You. Help her to focus on You. This is one of those times when we see only one set of footprints in the sand, and those footprints are Yours, not hers. You are not asking her to walk through this. You are carrying her through it.  Help her to relax in Your arms as You carry her through these waters. Help her to stop struggling, to cease striving and know, just KNOW that You are God. You will be exalted in the Heavens and exalted in the Earth. You will be exalted in this situation that is so overwhelming for her right now.  We Praise You, O God, the lifter of our heads, the Lover of our souls, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we praise You before we see the breakthrough for this dear one.” AMEN.

How many times have I focused on the How instead of the Who? Times beyond number.  How about You today? Do you need to shift your gaze from the problem in front of you, to the Face of Christ, who loves you. Our society has diminished the meaning of he word LOVE. We love chocolate and football; the beach and mountains. We love so many things, but God’s love is demonstrative.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:8-11 NASB)
Focus today on Him and His love every time your heart wanders to the “How?” In your life.  Be Blessed, for You are truly blessed in Him.

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For God Only

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By: Carole L. Haines

My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.
(Psalm 62:1-2 NASB)

Do I wait in silence for God only? Or am I still seeking the approval of people? Good Questions. Paul asked Himself the very same things.

10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men?
If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:10)

Am I a bond-servant of Christ? Or am I a servant of myself, hiding beneath the Robe of Christ? Honestly, I am both. I am fully His servant, but He is showing me places where I still have not fully come under His Lordship. It is in those places that I find I am still trying to please people. Is that true of you as well?

11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)

I am learning, as Paul said He learned, to only live by what he receives from God. In our marriage vows we say, “and forsaking all others.” Have I forsaken all others in regards to God?  Am I still trying to get people to say that I am okay, or normal, or whatever?

God has been showing me that as long as I want to hear the affirmations of people, I will be enslaved to the tyranny of the approval of man. God has already set me completely free from the opinions of others, but have I chosen to walk in that freedom? Or am I still enslaved to what others think, or even enslaved to what I think of myself? Romans 8 says:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death…31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (vs, 1-2,31-35,36-39 NASB)

Am I really convinced that nothing can separate me from God’s love? If I was, I wouldn’t seek it from others so often. I would truly be able to say that My Soul waits in silence for God only.

Precious Father, Your word says that we have come to know and have believed the love that You have for us. I am not fully there Lord. It seems to be more of a yielding to what is already true about You and about me.  Therefore, I yield all I am to You, every crack, crevice and crag. I want you to fill me, My precious All in all, for me to decrease and for you to increase in me until all I am is consumed in all You are. Amen!

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Proving Myself
By: Carole L. Haines

Baths are always a great way for me to listen to my own heart and listen to God’s. I’m relaxed under the warm and steamy water, just listening, yielded and still. This morning, like many mornings recently, my heart was running to what kind of fruit my life has born. Pretty deep thoughts for 6 a.m. in the morning. God was speaking to my heart about the fact that I have been trying to prove myself my entire life.  What does that even mean, proving myself? Proving what, and to whom? I let the thoughts run their course, conversing with the Lord in silence. No one else would even know anything was going on. But my mind was firing on all cylinders as I listened. to both God and myself, bantering back and forth about this odd subject. And yet, how odd is it really?  How many of us are trying to prove we have worth and value in our lives? Maybe it’s not as obscure a struggle as I originally thought.
The conversation continued in my heart as I dried off and wandered out to my usual chair, in my usual corner to have an actual time alone with God. Glancing next to me I am reminded of the high school pictures that my husband found while cleaning the basement yesterday. I was so young, so naïve, so full of dreams and ideas.  I used to grieve when I would think back to my dreams of all I thought that I would do and be.  But I realize now that those dreams were my thoughts for myself, my plans, my determinations. But God had a different plan for me, though it would take me years of trying to realize my own plans, and failing, to understand this. So many closed doors and seeming rejections. So many disappointments and tears along the way. Disillusionment, anger, shaking my fists at the heavens. Only to end up right back here, alone, with my God, some 30 years later. I wonder how many others have felt as I do? How many countless millions have felt their lives have ebbed away and not accomplished much? Do framed degrees and awards on the wall actually mean someone’s life has value? It can? But not having them is no indication of a life devoid of purpose.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9)

 We really have no way to measure the worth of our own lives. This is left alone, with Our Precious Lord. I yield to His understanding and not my own, His plan, not my dreams, His purpose, not my wants. I find my comfort in His Word, especially in the verse I will close with.

Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Col.3:1-4)

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A New Perspective

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by: Carole L. Haines

29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
(Ephesians 4:29-32 NASB)

My intention this morning was to finish writing a Devotion I started yesterday, but God grabbed me with this one. I was at a gathering of Believers last night whom I didn’t know. That is always awkward for an extreme introvert like myself. It makes me so self-conscious instead of Christ conscious. My husband said I did fine, but I just don’t know how to do the whole “socializing” thing. I woke up this morning with a knot in my stomach and was feeling so unsure when God brought me to this passage and seemed to whisper to me,
“Do not speak against yourself in this way. You should speak words that are good for your own edification so that you experience My Grace.”
I was dumbfounded. I mean, I never think about how I speak to myself.  I have had many people, including my precious husband, tell me that I am much too hard on myself.  I felt God urging me to ease up on the worry about how I came across. I tend to think of myself as “an acquired taste.” You are either going to like me, or not.  But I think that God has been showing me that is much too harsh a way to look at someone who is a part of His Body.  I’m not into that whole, “self-love” thing. But I felt God telling me that I need to be kind to myself, in thought as well as speech, because He meant it when He said to love your neighbor as yourself.
I will tend toward hardness toward my neighbor, if I think wrongly about myself.  God has given me a whole new Identity in Jesus. I am Beloved of My Father, a part of a Holy Priesthood, one of His own possessions. He loves me with an everlasting love. The Bible tells us we are to speak truth to one another in love. That includes ourselves.
If you struggle with doubts about yourself, feelings of inadequacy and fear. Look at the above passage from this new angle God gave to me this morning. Do not be bitter or angry toward yourself. Be kind and tender-hearted, forgiving yourself, as well as others, the way Christ has forgiven you. Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, no accusatory or harsh declarations. Speak the truth of God’s view to yourself and I believe you will find it easier to love your neighbor, to truly love one another.

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Coloring outside the lines

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By: Carole L. Haines

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

The Women’s Ministry Leaders, at a Retreat I led worship for, gave me a gift. It was one of those wonderful Bibles with pictures in the margin to color and wide margins for taking notes. I was coloring one of the margins today, after reading the text I am studying, and was frustrated because I didn’t stay within the lines. There’s no erasing, no do-overs, I just had to leave it that way.  But then it was like God tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “Yeah, Carole, but who put the lines there?”
I sensed God telling me that life with Him is not meant to have the picture drawn ahead of time, not by other people or even by ourselves. He is the only One who determines the course of our life. He intends for us to be colored outside the lines  that others have forced upon us, or we have strangled ourselves with.  His Will is perfect, our concepts of His will are not. Have you ever had someone try to pigeon-hole you, make you something you are not? Have you failed again and again at something you know the Lord has called you to do? Perhaps it is because you are not allowing Him to be the one who draws the lines of your life.

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
(Psalm 16: 5-6)

A measuring cord or line, a territory; that is what the word “lines” means in this context. The lines in which God marks off our life, the boundary lines, the territory we dwell in, we minister in, we work in. God has set those lines and the psalmist says they have fallen to him in pleasant places. The Apostle James tells us that all good gifts are from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly Lights (James 1:17). We only appreciate God’s Boundary Lines when we erase our own. If God is coloring outside your established lines of life, let Him! His picture of your life is far more beautiful and far more fruitful than anything you could imagine for yourself.

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Darkness to Light

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It’s been a little while since I last wrote, but God really spoke to my heart out of the following verse this morning, so I thought I’d share what He encouraged me with.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

I love how this verse shows us that, God made light shine out of darkness. It then immediately says that He made His light to shine in our hearts to give us light. If we have never been made aware of the darkness within our own hearts, we will not truly appreciate the light that God places in us through faith in Jesus.

We begin to feel our darkness and we are tempted to shy away, cover it up, paint it a different color, put a spin on it, or don a pair or Rose-colored glasses. Don’t!
Instead, embrace what God reveals about your darkness with the concurrent knowledge that He is able to crush that darkness with His light.  God only reveals to us what we need to see in order to lead us to the repentance that leads to life in Him. Repentance isn’t just for the time we first come to Christ. Repentance and confession is something we need all the way through our walk with Christ on this earth. We are not stuck in the revelation of Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
God tells us He understands our heart and is greater than it.
18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.  (1 John 3:18-22)

We don’t need to be afraid of the Darkness within, because He is greater than it and already knows it. He can forgive us and free us from it. But we must entrust Him with it through confession. Confession is agreeing with God about our sin. We can’t agree with what we do not allow ourselves to see. The first step in transformation is the acknowledgement of the sin and darkness within our hearts which leads to a true repentance and sincere joy over the Grace of God.

Thank You, Father, that you love us so much and want to free us from all that separates us from You.  Thank You, Jesus for making that possible through Your death, burial and resurrection. Thank your for causing Your light to extinguish our darkness.

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