Seventy Times Seven

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you,not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! Matthew 18:21-22

Unforgiveness, something that ruins friendships, marriages, and even complete lives. Unforgiveness is something we harbor in our hearts, holding it in our hearts until it cannot be held anymore and permeates our entire lives.

Carrying unforgiveness is like wearing glasses with blinders, you become blind to the good and only focus on your hurt. The funny thing about unforgiveness though, is that it doesn’t hurt anyone but you. The person who caused your hurt may not even ever know you harbor this toward them, in the same sense that this feeling doesn’t hurt the perpetrator, it radically changes the one who carries it.

This is a burden we were never meant to carry. Jesus died for us to be forgiven by our Father, what makes us think that we are just in carrying unforgiveness toward others when the one whom we sin to daily forgives us every time? For some reason in the world we are lead to believe we should love and forgive our neighbors and hate our enemies. How does that make sense? By doing that, we are just as guilty of sin as the one who hurt us.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Through the Spirit we are granted those things, do you see anywhere in there “unforgiveness”? I didn’t think so. It’s tough, believe me I know. But when we forgive others for our sins it gives a small glimpse into the Father’s love for us. Forgiveness is what has given us eternal life.

I won’t lie, forgiveness doesn’t come easy; it’s something I still struggle with. I carried unforgiveness for so long against my dad but you will never have true joy if you’re holding on to this burden.

Pray. Pray for yourself, pray for others. These prayers can start off small. Pray for God’s guidance, pray for Him to teach you how to pray the big prayers. Pray for change, not for the situation to change, but for you to change.  Dig deep into the word daily, so that you start seeing Him everywhere.

  • But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15
  • Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it. Proverbs 11:27
  •  Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2
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Identity Theft

When you’re not firm in your identity with Christ it can be so easy for the enemy to slip in. See, where we mess up is that we begin finding our worth and identity in the world. Some may find it in that next compliment from a guy, others find it in the next shot they take. These things, while making you feel good in the moment don’t last.

Like a thief in the night, the devil can slowly take away your identity. Not all at once, but slowly. When you let your guard down, one thing here, maybe compromise your morals a little bit there, nothing too crazy. You’ll say no next time. The more and more you let the little things become ok the harder it’ll be to say no the big things. Things you’d think ‘never in a million years would I do that’. Things like drugs, sex, partying, lying. Who knows your sin, the devil attacks in all different ways. One day you’ll look in the mirror and won’t even recognize the person staring back at you. Even the voices in your head will seem unrecognizable. Instead of the sweet, tender whisper of God all you can hear now is the screaming of your insecurities. It’s like falling into a seemingly bottomless pit; your actions keep building and building until the next thing you know you’ve reached rock bottom, wounded and broken.

When you’re not firm in your identity with Christ it can be so easy for the enemy to slip in. See, where we mess up is that we begin finding our worth and identity in the world. Some may find it in that next compliment from a guy, others find it in the next shot they take. These things, while making you feel good in the moment don’t last. That guy? Nine times out of ten he’ll leave. Alcohol? The buzz won’t last and tomorrow you’ll be stuck with a hangover. But you know who will never leave? Our sweet Abba. There is a great fullness that comes with God, and this feeling isn’t temporary. It wont disappear when life gets tough. It’s easy to get caught up in the world and begin to try filling yourself up with tis pleasures, however, doing that is like trying to fill a bottle with holes in it; no matter how much you put in it will eventually run out ending up empty. God is the opposite though, His love will fill you long after your cup is full. With God’s love, your cup will overflow.

Sweet friends, I pray that God reveals to you any place in your life where you aren’t firm in your identity. That He would build you up so that with Him, the enemy won’t stand a chance.

 

Now, you’re probably wondering. How do I become more firm in my identity? Here’s some ideas.

  • Dig into your bible. When you really dig deep into the Word, it begins to affect all areas of your life. Surround yourself with truth and you’ll begin to see it everywhere. I saw somewhere the other day “A proverb a day keeps satan away”.
  • Forget who the world says you are, and remember who God says you are. In Christ, you are beloved, chosen, redeemed, victorious, and an overcomer just to name a few. Remember that.
  • Pray. Just talk to God, ask Him to begin creating in you a firmer identity. Ask Him to help you. He’s there, waiting on you, you just have to call out to Him.

Do these things daily and I promise things will drastically change.

God Bless my Anxious Heart (And 7 Verses to Overcome it)

For some reason, in today’s culture we think we have to be constantly in control of everything. But we forget we aren’t, God is. Sweet friend, we have got to learn how to fully put all of our trust in God and give up that fear that has manifested itself in the form of anxiety.

I’m an anxious person, I don’t remember a time in my life where I haven’t been. I stress about things before there are even things to stress about. This is seriously one of my biggest struggles but it’s also something I’ve been fervently praying about and working on. See, when we hold onto stress and create an anxious heart we aren’t putting all of our trust in God. Merriam-Webster has this definition for stress:

  • fear or nervousness about what might happen.

What might happen. Why do we get so worried about what might happen when we have zero control over the situation and the one who does has our best interest on His mind? For some reason, in today’s culture we think we have to be constantly in control of everything. But we forget we aren’t, God is. Sweet friend, we have got to learn how to fully put all of our trust in God and give up that fear that has manifested itself in the form of anxiety.

I know, easier said than done but here are 10 verses that help me overcome in times of stress.

  1. And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:27 This is one of my favorites, it kind of puts it in perspective for me. Worrying is not going to add anymore time to my life. Worrying won’t even change the outcome of the situation, I can only control my emotions of the here and now.  
  2.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14 This is an amazing reminder, no matter what we do, we will not change the outcome. God doesn’t ask us to fight for ourselves, He only asks us to be still.
  3. Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25 Have you ever noticed how when you’re stressed out about one thing it feels like you just keep getting hit with more? It’s because anxiety literally makes you heavy, it’s a burden we were never meant to carry. Having anxiety and stress in our hearts changes our perspective and makes it seem like the world’s a lot darker than it actually is.
  4. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 Give it all to God. God knows your heart and mine, He just wants us to cry out to Him. When you truly give it all to Abba, He will guard your heart and give you a kind of peace that your anxious heart can only dream of. 
  5. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19  Another sweet reminder of our Abba’s love. Even in the deepest pits of despair, God’s love is greater. Take heart in that.
  6. I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2 Lastly, God hears you. He always hears your cries to Him. Even when it seems He’s left you in the dark, He hasn’t. He is working on something far greater than you could ever understand in this moment. 

I pray that next time you feel that first sting of anxiety that you would call upon the Lord for guidance. He’ll get you through it, I promise.

Joyful Like Jesus

For me, their utter joy was a small glimpse of Jesus and I want to be more like that.

At a prayer service a couple of weeks ago God began stirring something in my spirit; a new look on joy. I believe I was purposely placed a row behind these two men that night. These guys looked like they had probably seen their fair share of tough times, but that is not what stuck out to me. When the worship music began, you could feel the Holy Spirit radiating from them. You could tell that these men had truly laid everything they carried at the feet of Jesus. They swapped out their burdens, giving them to God and receiving joy. Y’all, I do not think I have ever witnessed a person that happy. They didn’t have to speak to me, didn’t have to tell me their names or life stories. But they affected me. So much that weeks and weeks later, I still cannot get them out of my head.

For me, their utter joy was a small glimpse of Jesus and I want to be more like that.

I could put up a front and tell you I’ve always been pretty happy but that would be a lie. Actually, in the last eight months, God has been doing some major changing in me. See, I used to let my circumstances define my happiness. I’m not saying I’ve lived some awful life because in reality God has blessed me beyond measure. But I let things get to me, I carried burdens Jesus never meant for me to carry. Things like my earthly dad not being in my life, my anxiety, and many other things were all used like excuses for the attitude I had adopted. I felt like, in a way, the world owed me something, like my actions and feelings were justified because I had circumstances. I was unhappy.

Jesus did not die on the cross for me to be like that. His death did not give me some kind of right to a negative spirit. His death, was for our life. I was unhappy because I was putting my joy in the world. But God calls us to place our joy in Him.

Though you have not seen Him, you love him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. – 1 Peter 1:8

“Inexpressible and glorious joy”? 

I’d say that is an exact description of the men I told you about. Want to begin looking more like that? Me too. The great thing is through Jesus Christ, we can. Let joy become your prayer and God will begin a change in you. Pray that He could not only give you the gift of joy, but also teach you to give that same joy to others. That He would teach you to live in a way that others might want to know more about Jesus, because that is ultimately our goal as His followers, right? Pray against negativity, that when you are faced with adversity you would rise above, giving it to Jesus and not letting go of your joy because He created you to be a overcomer. But friends, when you pray big prayers even bigger changes occur. Don’t let that scare you, let God create you to be more joyful like Him, I promise you it will be worth it.

  • J – Jesus first.
  • O – Others second.
  • Y – You last.

And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord. It shall rejoice in His salvation. Psalm 35:9


 

Giving Grace Freely

We’ve all been hurt. Some of us in the past, some of us in the present, but at some point all of us in the future. Maybe your best friend betrayed you, or your daddy left you, or you were overlooked for that job promotion. No matter the circumstances, it all hurts and it all boils down to rejection. I read about a study the other day where the pain of rejection was actually linked to physical pain, makes sense right? In the moment, that pain of rejection is like a fresh wound; all you can focus on, forgetting that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I guess somewhere along the way, we’ve learned to be aware of our own pain and struggles. Even basing how we are and see the world on those things, in our heads we’re the only ones who hurt. We forget that everyone else also has a past filled with circumstances that may have left them a little bruised and worn. God sees us, and all our pain. He sees the pain we cause others, the pain we cause ourselves, and the pain that’s been put on us. He sees all the screwed up things we do, and you know what? He gives us grace. Let’s just take a second dig deeper in that word. 

Grace– the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. Originates from the Hebrew word Chen meaning favor. 

Free and unmerited? Absolutely. The grace that God gives us, Jesus died for. That grace? It completely covers all of or sins; past, present, and future. See, with God, there is no lack. His fullness can’t be added or subtracted from. It doesn’t rise nor fall with human actions. He’ll be the same God He is today, tomorrow and all of the tomorrow’s after that. Why is that? I can give you the answer in a single word: grace

If God gives us this amazing gift of grace then why do we interact so poorly with each other? We get so wound up over the rejection from others that we forget that God will never reject us. When you start fully living in your identity in Christ then you start to notice the hurt of others around you. You then start letting God strip away all the layers of self righteousness and selfishness. This is when you learn to fully and freely give grace to others. You have to let God teach you to understand that others hurt just like you, and the hurt they may have caused you probably stems from somewhere in their past they too were hurt. I’m a firm believer in the statement: hurt people, hurt people. If you’re living in hurt, you’re going to cause hurt. It’s unavoidable. But friend, you’ve gotta give that up. Let God wash His mighty grace over all your old wounds. 

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6

Let God humble you, begin freely giving grace. Next time someone throws hurt your way, stop. Stop focusing on your hurt and try to understand theirs. Don’t write them off and exiling them from your life. Instead, pray for them. Try extending them a little sliver of the grace Jesus Christ died for. Speak to people and who they are not what they’ve done. When we start looking at grace like a amazing gift we can freely give, that’s when revival will start. That’s where it’ll change.