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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The color I’m supposed to be

via The color I’m supposed to be

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The color I’m supposed to be

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by: Carole L. Haines

There’s an interesting natural phenomenon that happens all around us every Spring.  We are used to the splendor of Autumn colors, but have you noticed that when the trees are just beginning to shed their Winter wears, the color of their buds are gloriously burgundy, sienna, or gold. At least where I live this is the phenomenon I see.  The interesting thing is that these are the true colors of the leaves.  They are truly gold, burgundy, sienna and wheat colored.  It is in the warmth of the Springtime sun and the lengthening of the days, that cause the trees to start producing the Chlorophyll in the leaves. This gives all of Trees their uniformly green colors.

Nature teaches us a lot about the Spiritual Life of a Child of God, and I believe this is one of the most poignant I have ever come across.  We start out our lives uniquely ourselves, but blow by blow, we begin to conform to people around us. We want to fit in, be accepted, be loved; so, we tend to do whatever it takes to make that happen.  In the process we lose ourselves, we stop being the color God created us to be.  We conform.

God has made us each completely unique, and for a specific purpose. God’s Word tells us not to conform to this world.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

God created us just the way He wanted us to be, to conform to the desires of others, or even our own desires, is to mess with our true purpose.

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

We are drawn by God deeper and deeper into who He created us to be.  I believe this is part of what John meant when He said that He (Jesus) must increase and we must decrease. (John 3:30)

It took me a long time to realize this precious truth.  I was made to be as I am, and for a very good purpose.  There are works God has just for me.  I have learned to say “No” to the things that others want me to do, and “Yes” to God’s purpose.  So much precious time was wasted trying to please others and myself.  I am in the Autumn of this journey now, and my leaves have taken on the color they were meant to be once again. Beautiful hues of burgundy, gold and sienna, are beginning to mark my life. I sense more joy and contentment then I ever did before, while trying to conform and be other people’s idea of “a Christian.” I am finally becoming the color I was supposed to be.  I pray God will lead you in your own journey of becoming uniquely who He made you to be too. God Bless.

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Creating Atmosphere

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Photo by: Cody Jonathon Haines

On the way to Yosemite from Joshua Tree National Park, we drove by what can only be described as a field of Windmills.  I love Wind Energy, solar energy, anything off the grid, but am especially enamored with Wind Mills. The reason this sight was so amazing is that the amount of wind harnessed by these hundreds of windmills seemed to be creating an atmosphere of its own.  The skies were blue everywhere else, but above this field of windmills, there were clouds and fog surrounding them.  It was breathtaking.  Do we create atmospheres in our homes, families, or places of work, by how we interact with our surroundings? I believe we do.

 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV)

Paul states here that we have our ministries, by the mercy of God.  We don’t deserve them, we don’t earn them; they are stewardships handed to us by God.  Have you ever wielded your ministry as if it were yours to do with what you wish?  I have, and I am so ashamed of this failure in my life.  But God has forgiven me, and so I forgive myself based on His Grace. 

But notice in the Scripture above also says that we do not lose heart when we remember that our ministries are given to us by the mercy of God.  We don’t earn them, so we do not have to manipulate to keep them. We don’t deserve them, so we mustn’t get big-headed and arrogant within our ministries.  In the past, I confess, I have done both. 

But God is good to bring correction to our lives.  He softly whispers our needs to change our thinking, our ways of doing things, etc.  If we don’t listen to the whisper, He may roar loudly, through circumstances, other people or the Word, to remind us that our ministries are given to us as a gift, by His mercy.  We are mere stewards of the grace of God in practicing our gifts.  How desperately we need to remember this as we interact with one another in the Body of Christ, and with the world. 

Show grace, because you so desperately need grace. and boy, so do I, and lots of it. We create atmospheres where we live, work and minister. We carry our attitudes in our demeanors, our facial expressions, tone of voice, etc.  Let’s remember that our gifts are given to us to build up the Body, and not for our own gain.  Let’s serve one another, remembering that all we have and all we are able to do, are only by the Mercy of God.

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