Power beneath our feet

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By: carole l. Haines

I have been absolutely mesmerized by the recent pictures of the Volcanic eruptions in Hawaii. How often do we think about the power beneath every step we take each day?  The Earth’s Outer core is liquid rock, moving freely beneath us each day, while its innermost core is solid, composed of an iron-nickel alloy (Wikipedia). I never thought about it until those amazing pictures of the Eruption in Hawaii recently forced my mind to take stock. I looked up facts on the Earth’s Core, on Volcanoes, etc.  I just couldn’t get over the immensity of what I was seeing.

This all made me think of what the Bible says in Philippians 2:12-13

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Oswald Chambers commented on this passage by saying this:

With focused attention and great care, you have to “work out” what God “works in” you— not work to accomplish or earn “your own salvation,” but work it out so you will exhibit the evidence of a life based with determined, unshakable faith on the complete and perfect redemption of the Lord. (From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition)

There is power in every believer in Jesus Christ.  God is at work in us both to have the “want to” and the “ability to” accomplish His will on this earth.  There is a yielding to God’s leading that takes place. I watched with amazement as the Lava from the Volcano just went wherever it found a place to flow.  It created rivers of molten rock throughout communities, making its way to the Sea.  There was no stopping it, no stemming the flow, no diverting of the pathway.  It was impossible to do anything but watch in awe and trembling, as the Eruption went on for weeks.

God is at work within each of us, seeking to make us an unstoppable force for His Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is being built by God through us. What an amazing privilege and honor to be a part of His Eternal Plan.  Sit before this precious and all-powerful God today and praise Him for both the “want to” and the “ability to,” do His will.  He is able and will make a way where there seems to be no way, in and through each of us.

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Those wounds look angry

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By: carole l. Haines

I remember hearing as a child, “OOOOOO, those wounds look angry.” I never knew what that meant, but later I came to find out that it meant the wounds looked infected. I have a couple of those infected wounds on my arm right now, from gardening and coming into contact with poison ivy.  It made me think about our emotional wounds. Can they get “angry” looking too? Do emotional wounds hove the potential to get infected?  My own personal experience tells me that they do.  God made us deeply feeling people, even as He Himself expresses emotions. God has said in His Word that He:

“The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (Genesis 6:6)

“Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses,” (Genesis 4:14)

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (Exodus 34:6)

God was sorry and grieved.  At times, His anger burns.  Yet, He is also compassionate and gracious, abounding in lovingkindness.  Emotions are a part of how we are made in the Image of God.

But our anger, bitterness, frustration, etc. can cause wounds that get infected, that look angry. To cure infection, you need something stronger than the infection itself. In our bodies, there are antibodies that fight viruses and bacteria.  But sometimes our own antibodies are not strong enough and need help from what we call antibiotics. These assist the body in killing certain fungi and bacteria during an illness. They assist our own immune system and strengthen it to fight what we cannot fight alone.

When it comes to infected emotional wounds, we need God to come alongside us and enable us to fight it and heal. Forgiveness is the greatest weapon in our arsenal when it comes to this malady, and forgiveness is only possible when we recognize just how sinful we ourselves are.

I love what Ecclesiastes says:

20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. 21 Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. 22 For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others. (Ecclesiastes 7:20-22)

Infected emotional wounds can often come from a inability to see ourselves as we really are.  We are all sinners. We are all in need of a Savior. He is Jesus Christ.  Our Savior summed up the Law and the Prophets in two commands,

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

I’ve often heard it said that the three most important words in a relationship are, “I love you.” But I am inclined to think that they are, “I forgive you.” When it comes to our angry emotional wounds, the two-sided coin we must use is love and forgiveness. Only God is strong enough to help us do this.  Bring your angry wounds to God today and ask for His help in loving and forgiving others. He will make a way for healing and restoration for you, even where there seems to be no way.

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The Prisoner of The Lord

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By: Carole L. Haines

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 NASB)

Paul considered that his imprisonment was from the Lord.  He wasn’t bitter, but he was concerned for those Believers with whom he had interacted, to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. Why is this? I believe that it is because Paul could no longer walk among them.  God had imprisoned Paul for the purpose of writing the Epistles which would ultimately become a large portion of the New Testament. Now Paul didn’t know that while he was writing them. Perhaps his imprisonment perplexed him, made him feel trapped and useless.  But Paul did not become bitter and began to do his “walking in a manner worthy,” through the writing of letters to all the Churches he had helped establish.

God has a purpose for all the happenings in our lives, whether we are walking in freedom, or we feel imprisoned within our circumstances. God has a perfect plan.  God promises us that He will work all things together for our good and calls us to love Him and trust His purpose for our lives (Romans 8:28). There were times that I felt imprisoned at home with three little ones under my feet, but I knew I was called to raise them up. Looking back now, I see how important that really was, and what an awesome privilege it was.  I work in a learning center with young children now, and I see mothers every day, who wish they could stay home with their little ones. I was blessed, and enjoyed that blessing immensely, even on the days I felt trapped. I love what Henry Blackaby says about our circumstances in his book Experiencing God.

“Never allow your heart to question God’s love. Settle it on the front end of your quest to know Him and experience Him: He loves you. Every dealing He has with you is an expression of His love for you. God would not be God if He expressed Himself in any way other than perfect love! What you believe about God’s love for you will be reflected in how you relate to Him. If you really believe God is love, you will also accept that His will is always best.”
Henry T. Blackaby, Experiencing God

God was using Paul’s imprisonment, to help us learn to walk in a manner worthy. If Paul had not been imprisoned, he would have just gone to the Churches in person and shared his heart.  Because of his imprisonment, we have the writings that God accomplished through Paul to teach us how to live the life of faith we have, and to glorify God in all we are.

So yes, at times we are all “the prisoners of the Lord,” for a purpose, and that purpose cannot necessarily be known while we walk the earth.  Trust God in your circumstances. He has reason for all He does, and He promises to work it all for good, as we love and trust Him and His purposes for our lives.

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The Court of Public Opinion

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By: carole l. Haines

What goes around comes around, right? That’s what I’ve always been told.  In some ways this is true, and never truer than in the area of judging others.  I have actually had people say to me, “Well, you don’t really seem like you have a whole lot of sin in your life.” Ridiculous, we all have a lot of sin in our lives.  Perhaps mine have not been as public as some, but they are there, in the heart and that is what Jesus is after in us, our hearts.  He speaks in His Word of judging others often.

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.(Matthew 7:1-5 NASB)

God had to reveal to me, early on in my Walk with Him, that I have a tendency to be self-righteous and judgmental.  That’s my hideous sin, a sin of the heart, that perhaps not many others see, but I see it; and God sees it.  So, as you can imagine, in the school of “What goes around comes around,” I have suffered under judgment from others.  Being judgmental will draw judgment toward us, about us, into us.  Jesus tells us that it is what comes out of the heart that defiles the man.  (Matthew 15:12-20)

The journey God has had me on for the past 40 years has been a journey out of caring what others think of me, and a journey of seeing others as only God sees them.  This has been no easy task, but I believe it is one of the most important parts of our Spiritual journey.  How can we love one another, if we are suspicious, or judgmental toward one another?  Only God’s view of us will stand.  What anyone else thinks of us, or what we think of anyone else, will make no difference in eternity.

I have often told others, “I will be standing alone before God in Eternity, and I choose to stand alone before Him now. What others say or think of me doesn’t matter; only what God says of me.”

I have tried to live by this since God made it clear to me about 15 years ago.  I still catch myself being judgmental, and have to confess and repent of it. I still find I am being misunderstood and wrongly judged by others, which I have learned to dismiss without much effort. I have learned to live under the precious declarations that God makes of me and of you, in the Kingdom of God.

Have you been feeling judged? Do you fall into the trap sometimes, of judging others, like I have? Than let me reiterate what God revealed to me in His Word.  You will never stand before anyone but God Himself in eternity, so live out your life before Him, and Him alone, right now.  Make every effort to be transparent and real.  When you sin, and God shows it to you, confess it. If you have hurt another person, go ask their forgiveness.  The court of public opinion, what is that? We live our lives now, as believers, in the Court of the Kingdom of God, alone before Him.  Be at peace with others, by being at peace with God. 1 John 1:9 tells us that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Live out your life before Him alone. Cover nothing, do nothing you need to cover. Confess when you are wrong, be transparent. The peace that God promises is yours and you embrace who He says you are, and who He says others are.  Only He is judge, let Him be that, and He alone.  We are called to love one another.

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Those deep cleansings.

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by: carole l. haines

Woke up to an annoying Ant problem this morning in my kitchen.  I always wipe the counters down with cleaner and bleach, but I don’t always move everything out from the back edges and clean behind everything. I feel so busy that I just do the dishes and wipe the counter down and I’m off to the next thing.  But yesterday morning, I found ants, and we sprayed all around, removing everything on one side of the kitchen.  This morning, they were back, only now on the other side of the Kitchen.

Everything had to be taken out of cabinets, to check for any ants.  I washed every piece of silverware, etc. Just simply exhausting. And it all could have been prevented, had I taken the time to move everything out, and clean behind the appliances on the counter. We can’t be in such a rush to do a quick clean up of our lives either.   God wants to do a thorough cleaning.  He doesn’t want us to just clean things up on the outside and leave the inside festering.  Jesus tells us:

18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”
(Matthew 15:18-20 NASB)

God is calling us to live transparent lives.  He wants us to be as real and devoted to Him at home as we appear to be in the Church. He wants every single cell filled up with His goodness.  This means we must invite Him to do a Spiritual Cleansing of our lives on a regular basis.  Gunk builds up for us spiritually, just as it did on my counters, and drew those pesky ants.

There are two prayers from Scripture I pray a lot.

1)      23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139 NSAB)

AND

2)      O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.

God has blessed me so much through praying these Scriptures in times of need for cleansing and surrender in my life.

Come to Him today, Dear Child of God, and ask Him to search you, and heal you of whatever is troubling you at this time.  He will reveal those things holding you down and give you the opportunity to turn them over to Him, yield them, confess them, and set you free. And when Jesus sets you free, you are free indeed. Dive in to His Spiritual Cleansings, you will be refreshed, and you will be able to live more transparent lives before Him and others. Be Blessed.

 

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What if you’re the TRIAL you are going through

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By: carole l. Haines

I found this quote in my FIRST 15 devotional, by: Craig Denison, this morning.

“In the midst of any trial you can have transcendent, tangible comfort in God. In this midst of any suffering or pain you can find rest in the loving arms of your heavenly Father. And in the face of great opposition you can choose to live courageously. Your God is with you. He will never leave you. Courage comes from acknowledging the reality and power of God’s nearness.

I immediately had the thought, “But I am MY TRIAL, Lord.”  Do you ever get tired of dealing with yourself? Have you ever tried to out-run your own problems, side-step them, so to speak?  I tend to try to study enough, read enough, write enough to get away from myself. I read Psalm 139 and am glad for how ever-present God is, but sometimes I wish I didn’t have to deal with ME.

Sometimes I read this Psalm and I think to myself,
Where can I flee from myself, where can I run from Me.
If I go to the lowest depths of the Sea, Still there I am.

I am so grateful God is there, but tired of dealing with my own problems.  I have social anxiety disorder, and it can cause great awkwardness for me.  In the realm of the Church, we are to be Christ-conscious, not self-conscious.  Does anyone else feel this way sometimes, like you want to take a vacation from yourself.? Is this even possible.?
I do believe it is, but only by handing that poor, weak, naked, vulnerable self over to God and leaving her there.

I love what Paul says about it:
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:10)

Do you ever feel like God’s grace toward you has been in vain, that your problems are just too big to overcome? Well, they’re not. People may give up on us, and we may be tempted to give up on ourselves. But instead; we need to place that naked, broken, vulnerable heap of hurt we know we are, right into the Hands of the God who loves us. He is the God who knew what we were and who we would be.  But He views us differently than we view ourselves.  He sees us as finished works of Grace, purchased by Jesus Christ.  We see the difficult process, but He sees the finished beauty.
So as I woke up this morning, to yet another day of dealing with myself, I decided to spend time in prayer and hand that woman over to God, unashamedly, without reservation. I can’t change myself, I’ve tried, but I know He can.  Scripture says 

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:2-5)

So I will rejoice myself over into the hands of the only One who can bring real change. Isn’t that what Being a Christ-follower is all about, Him in me, the hope of glory.

So come to Him, Dear one, and admit, “I am what I am,” as Paul did. Then hand yourself, just as you are, all you are; over to Him, unreservedly.” He will make a way for you and I to be completely transformed. Praise God for transformation.

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In a fog

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by: carole l. haines

I make it too difficult, Lord, this following You

and isn’t all of life that way, difficult, yet sweet

the fellowship I find in You, drips with honey when I’m in need

and isn’t all of life that way, me in need of You

So, here I am again, confused as to where I need to turn

Bends in the road are closer now, and your heart I must discern

Here or there, left or right, stay or go

Which way is Yours, I’m in a fog, Lord, and I cannot see the road

*“Faith never knows where it is being led,
but it loves and knows the One Who is leading.”

So I’ll shift my focus more to You and less upon the road

Fixing my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith

Are you not my eyes, Lord, and I blind without you here

Are you not my ears, Lord, and Your words I seek to hear

Are you not my heart, Lord, my very life and love

I may not know where am going , Lord, I stand here in a fog

But I know the One who is leading, and You always lead me well.
*from My Utmost for His Highest, March 19, 761 L

 

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