More than these

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by
: Carole L. Haines

Growing up with several siblings can make you feel like you have fallen through the cracks. This creates in you a desire to be special, a favorite of somebody’s, anybody’s. Thus, began the life pursuit of trying to be somebody’s favorite whatever. I tried it on as a favorite child, a favorite friend, a favorite singer. I even used to want to be one of God’s favorites. But, Praise God, He doesn’t have any favorites, and that is where healing from this malady began.  I picked up on what may have been a similar struggle in the Apostle Peter’s life.

15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep. (John 21:15-17)

This is a precious passage where I believe Jesus is restoring Peter from the three denials he committed, as Jesus stood being questioned before His death (John 18:25-27). By asking Peter if he loved him three times, Peter was able to be restored by saying three times. “Yes, Lord, I love you.”  But I believe there is more going on here than just restoration.
The first time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him has an extra phrase, “more than these.” Peter was a natural leader, which is seen as you watch him in several passages of Scripture, which I cannot expand on now. But one obvious indication of his leadership call, is prophesied by Jesus Himself.
17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (Matthew 16:17-19)
Now perhaps I am taking liberties here but bear with me. Peter perhaps thought he must be a favorite of Jesus by being called the Rock and building the church on that rock. Perhaps we have thought more highly of ourselves through a similar call or position God has put us in.
I believe the fall of Peter, through the denial of Jesus, was something Jesus used to help Peter realize that God has no favorites.  “Do you love me more than these?” is a question that God has shown me I was unconsciously asking and believing for quite a long time. I longed to be somebody’s favorite, so I tried to be God’s.
But the true freedom is found in belonging to a God who has no favorites in His Kingdom at all. He just has Beloveds. He loves us all equally, completely, perfectly. Perhaps God is having to show you that He has no favorites, just beloveds. He showed me through the same kind of fall that Peter went through. I was knocked off my high horse like the Apostle Paul in Acts 9. But it was the love of God that knocked me off that horse, and it was the love of God that left me in a suffering situation longer than I would have liked. It was the Love of God that told me I was not a favorite of His because He has none. I don’t try to be a favorite anymore. I don’t need to because like all the children of God, I am a favored one, a beloved one, a treasured one; as are you all, Dear Believers. Rest today from favoritism, in His all-consuming, never-ending, completely restoring Love.

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Kisses from God

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By: Carole L. Haines

It was my usual routine of rising around 5:30 (body-clock, not by choice). I went out to the kitchen to get a tea and there was a mess from the day before. I never do dishes and such at night because I am a morning person, so I even cook dinner in the morning some days and have it ready before 10 a.m. As I was cleaning, washing, preparing; etc. the “feel-sorry-for-myself” bug began to bite. I was moaning inwardly about how I do this stuff every day and no one even knows it. They just have a fresh breakfast, clean dishes, folded laundry and a hearty lunch and dinner. Yes, I work, part-time, but this routine has been part of my life for 34 years, daily. I have never achieved the dreams I thought I was destined for, so I was be-moaning that too.

Suddenly I heard that familiar voice inside my thoughts and He said to me,” She rises up early and cares for the needs of her family.” God was encouraging me in the midst of my self-pity. For those who may not know where this quote is from, it’s from Proverbs 31. I avoid this Proverb as much as I can because it details a woman that I think I can never be.  Let’s read some of it below:

10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. (Prov. 31)

Pretty daunting list, huh! No wonder I have avoided it.  I highlighted the one God spoke to me this morning for you.  But as I read the list just now, I felt His kind prodding that there were other things on that list that I do as well, and He is pleased with me.
He also pointed out one that I could work more diligently on, as well.
The point is, God let me know that He is pleased with me this morning! There can be no higher praise in all the world.  It was like what we do with our kids when they are hurting from a fall. We call them close and we kiss their hurt. There is no magic in that kiss, not to physically heal the wound, but just the sense of being loved and cared for is enough to send a child skipping off believing all is right now. Just because of that act of caring, that kiss on a wound.  God kissed me this morning in a place I have been hurting, and there can be no greater blessing in all the world.  Pour out your heart before Him this morning, Dear Believer, and may He kiss you where you hurt.

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For God has accepted him

hintergrund-tapete-1454922739FYC[1]by: Carole L. Haines

Opinions, O how we love them sometimes. But as believers in Jesus Christ, we really don’t have a right to our own opinions. We worship our rights within our culture. We constantly hear it said, “Well I have a right to _________________.”  None is ever more touted in our society than, “But I have a right to my opinions.”  Do we really, as believers, have a right to our opinions?  Perhaps we do over trite things, such as favorite foods, places, colors, ect. But not over one another. We exchange our opinions for solid truth when we become Christians. As believers in Jesus, we lay down our rights because we have found something much better than rights, we have found love, deliverance, freedom, and solid truth, not fleeting opinions that change more quickly than the wind.  Opinions often fly in the face of truth, never more so than in reference to how we perceive one another in the Body of Christ. Let’s look at a passage of Scripture:

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand… For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14: 1-4, 7-8)

I have always looked this passage as being about what to eat and not to eat, etc. But it is really about our opinions, judgments and acceptance of others. I have highlighted and underlined the key things.

We are to accept anyone who belongs to Jesus, weakness is a reality for us all. Strength of our own is an illusion that life will soon obliterate.  Paul boasted in his weaknesses because in embracing them, his strength was always from the Lord, not of Himself. Accept one another.

We are not to pass judgment on one another, especially not on his opinions. We are not to judge one another.  This was discussed above in detail.

We are not to regard one another with contempt, for any reason.  If we find this in ourselves, we need to bring that to the Lord and ask Him to reveal where our thinking is wrong.  If we sense it toward ourselves from others, we need to pray for God to gently reveal to them their own issues.

Paul sums it all up with one of the most practical portions of Scripture: Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand… For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

Above all of these reasons, Paul ties it with the bow of the fact that God has accepted each one of us. So, who are we to reject one another?

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GOD IS and I am His

Read Hebrews 11:6 on Bible Gateway.

by: Carole L. Haines

We all know the profound definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
But this verse gives us a different perspective. Faith is portrayed here as simply believing GOD IS, that He exists; and that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. God loves to bless His children, and part of that blessing is to not allow us to stay as He found us, trapped in sinful patterns. Sometimes the surest way to wholeness is a path of suffering and loss. That was true for me, and He reduced me to a place of just being glad that HE IS and that I am His. God’s love is definitely the ultimate in TOUGH LOVE. His love is a love that breaks through our walls of resistance and self-reliance.  His love breaks through our rebellion and the determination to have things our own way.  His love breaks through our idols and the things that we place above Him. His love breaks through all, tears down all and calls us into a deeper walk with Himself. His love corners us, boxes us in, and lovingly  lifts our head to see that all we really need, all we truly want, is not what we think; It is Him. We were created by God and for God, and true joy can never be experienced until we embrace our destiny, the reason we are here.
One Pillar of our Faith put it this way:
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
Dear believer, go simpler. Simply Believe God today, and earnestly seek Him, with all that You are. He truly will never fail you.

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Conflicted

 

By: Carole L. Haines

My son has often expressed that some of his favorite characters in movies and stories are the ones who are conflicted. You can tell they want to do good, and succeed at times, but they also have a dark side to them that is unpredictable and scary.  The Bible has characters who express this as well. They are aware of their dark side, but long to do right and be holy. David and Paul are two great examples of these kind of Characters. Paul expresses it this way:

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.  (Romans 17:8 NASB)

David expresses it another way:

Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me; For I am afflicted and needy.
Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man; O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.
(Psalm 86: 1-2)

David reveals himself as needy, conflicted, weak; yet also as godly and trusting in the Lord. Too often I think we feel guilty when this conflicted nature shows up inside of us, but it was right there inside of two of the godliest men who ever walked the earth.

When we see this inside of ourselves, often we try to cover it up, like Adam and Eve did, with fig leaves and hiding from God.  But Cod calls us to do something else when we feel conflicted like this.

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
(Heb. 4:12-13)

The Word of God examines us, it reveals things about us, such as our motives and intentions. We are then told that nothing is hidden from God’s sight, so running and hiding like Adam and Eve tried to do, is not only futile, it’s defeating the purpose for which our sin is revealed to us. So, what do we do? The next verses from the above Scripture tells us exactly what to do.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 12:14-16)

We still run. But we run to the throne of God, to our Great High Priest. Jesus the Son of God.  We need to look at one another through this lens of truth.  When your brother or sister in Christ seems conflicted, pray for them, acknowledging the same plight within yourself. When we embrace this within ourselves and train ourselves to run quickly to the throne of Grace whenever we feel its grip; we can be used of God to help others learn to Run toward God, instead of away from Him when conflicted.  So, let us come boldly, together, with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may, together, receive mercy and grace to help each other in time of need

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Correction sprinkled with mercy

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By: Carole L. Haines

There is an amazing demonstration of God’s mercy amid one of the greatest events in all of History.  In the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from the land of Egypt, God offers mercy amid correction, kindness amid the consequences of our own bad choices.

18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”

20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field…
So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; 24 hail fell, and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. 25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. 26 The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were…
31 (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed, and the flax was in bloom. 32 The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later. (Exodus 9:18-32 NIV)

God says this about Himself:

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)

For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them. (Deuteronomy 4:21)

Then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. (Deuteronomy 30:3)

And the list goes on and on and on, not the least of which is this one:

Therefore, the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. (Isaiah 30:18)

BEHOLD YOUR GOD AND WORSHIP, REJOICE WITH JOY AND THANKSGIVING. God sprinkles mercy even in the times we need correctio. Praise  you,  Lord.

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When the rain is still present

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By: Carole L. Haines
“This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;  I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.  It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,  and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.  When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:12-17 NASB)

I’m a bit of a Nature freak and I love to know how everything works and runs. I love the cycles of and Seasons of Nature. So, when I saw an article about rainbows on the internet this morning, I read it. I know that rainbows are created when light shines through water droplets. That’s why I run outside every time it is raining with the Sun out, to see if I can spy one. As I was reading the article, it suddenly struck me that when God put the first rainbow in the sky, it wasn’t raining at all. When we read the story of the Flood and the Promise God made not to flood the earth again, the rain had already stopped.
God now only puts a Bow in the Sky during our storms, not when the rains have stopped, but while it is still raining. The droplets must be present for the light to shine through and reveal the colors of the rainbow. So, the first appearance of the Rainbow was a bit of a miracle, it was a dry rainbow because the rain had already ceased.
But now we see rainbows only in the midst of our storms. God doesn’t wait for us to be through our trials and tribulations to remind us of His faithfulness and promises. He reminds us right in the middle of the storms, when the rain is still present. The clouds part and the light of Christ shines through the droplets of our tears or our struggles, the losses and brokenness. God is right there during this time with us. He is with us, reminding us of who He is, and just How true He is to His Word and His promises to us. Next time you see a rainbow, thank God for showing up to remind us of Himself amid our storms, not just in the aftermath.

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