Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~His Truth, Not My Opinion~ February 28, 2014

Here fairly recently, I had myself a little freak out moment.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of prayer requests and those who were seeking guidance.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the opportunity to minister to others and I consider it a privilege to walk alongside those who are hurting, but not too long ago, I panicked!

I was fretting over what to say and feeling immense pressure that I was going to mess someone up with my advice.  Somewhere in the midst of my crazy, the Lord gave me the most beautiful revelation.  God is not asking me to share my opinion with those who reach out to me, He has commanded that I share His Word.

“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” (vs 2)

“Those whose hearts understand what is right get knowledge.  The ears of those who are wise listen for it.” (vs 15) 

The last thing I want is to open my mouth like a blubbering fool and let my own ideas and thoughts pour out.  But if I am scouring the Bible for wisdom, when I give counsel, it will be His truth that comes out and not my personal opinion.  While I could allow this to stress me even further, it actually gave me a sense of peace and freedom in my ministry.  Other translations of verse 15 say the ears of the wise seek out knowledge.  Basically, go look for it!  You can be certain that whatever you pursue, eventually you’re going to find it, whether that be good or evil.

We must constantly remind ourselves that so long as we are seeking the Lord’s face, listening for that still small voice and submitting to His leading, then we can feel confident in the words that we speak to the one in need.

When someone thanks me for my insight, I am quick to point them to Jesus.  It is not wisdom from within that I speak of but Biblical truth that brings about understanding and correction when needed.  I am a vessel for the Lord to work through, just as all others who are answering the call to minister in however the Lord sees fit.  I pray that I would never take for granted the immense honor that it is to be an ambassador for Christ.  May those who seek to glorify the Lord with the work of their lives be emboldened by the power of the Spirit that lives in the hearts of those who diligently seek Him.wise doubts

*The above Scripture references are from Proverbs 18 as part of the 31 Day Reading Challenge of the Book of Proverbs.

 

~Are You a True Friend?~ February 27, 2014

“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9 NLT)friends pick up

There is something incredibly sad about seeing a friendship dissolve over unforgiveness of past hurts.  The one who was at once your closest confidant becomes a complete stranger when you start keeping a record of wrongs.  Another translation reads the above verse this way: Forgive someone, and you will strengthen your friendship. Keep reminding them, and you will destroy it.  

Who wants to be constantly reminded of every mistake they’ve ever made?  Most people do a good enough job beating themselves up over their transgressions that the last thing they need is for their friends to start throwing punches too.  A friend loves at all times, not just in the “on the mountaintop” seasons.

If a friend abuses the trust in your relationship, admits fault & seeks your forgiveness, can you find it within yourself to extend grace & mercy?  The definition of friend is “a person whom one has a bond of mutual affection.”  When you truly feel affection for another, you sympathize with their hurts and can see beyond their err in judgment to forgive them and love them through it.

Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and others.  It is a sign of maturity when we can overcome that which the world would tell us is punishable by isolation.  But when we are hurt, we often make the mistake of seeking counsel from the not-so-wise who only agitate the situation by trying to instigate a fight rather than point towards the Word which teaches reconciliation and peace when at all possible.    

Let us seek to show compassion where it would be easy and even justifiable to dole out judgment.  If it seems impossible, sit and meditate for a bit on all that God has pardoned in you and you might just find that forgiving others isn’t so hard after all.

“Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” (Proverbs 17:17 Message)

those who love

*I hope you all are enjoying our 31 Day Reading Challenge of the Book of Proverbs as much as I am!

 

~But God~ February 26, 2014

I just this moment left my women’s Bible study to come home and work on my Proverbs post in silence before I have to pick up my baby from preschool.  As I was leaving the group, Lysa TerKeurst via video was beginning to discuss what happens when you use the phrase “but God.”

Imagine my surprise when I come home, open my faded, tattered Bible to Proverbs 16 and the very 1st verse reads:

“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.” 

Sometimes God is subtle when He’s trying to get your attention, this was not one of those times.  It’s like He knows sometimes I can err on the side of stubbornness and decided to send me a flashing neon sign in the form of confirmation.

The concept that Lysa was sharing about inserting the words “but God” into any situation changes the perspective entirely.  What may seem foolish, reckless or downright insane can suddenly make perfect sense when you add God to the equation.

I shared with my lady friends how when we say yes to God, we have our own preconceived notions of how He is then going to use us.  “Ok, Lord, I’m ready to serve you now.  Just so you know, I am writer, not a speaker, I work well with little kids, not teens and I can sing but Lord you know I have no rhythm so I’m not going to dance.  Now that you know all this about me, could you kindly open the door for my ministry.  Amen.”

Next thing you know, God’s pushing you to speak at a prayer group, lead an outreach for troubled teens and head up the new dance troop for your church! Not funny, Lord, not funny at all.  That is how God works!  He calls you to do what you cannot possibly do within your own abilities.  When you can feel the Lord yanking on you, leading you to do something for Him that is in exact opposition of your comfort zone…chances are that’s right where you are supposed to be!  Going against our norm ensures our full reliance on the Lord to complete the task at hand.

I have heard the expression, “tell the Lord your plans and he just laughs and laughs.”  He tells us quite clearly that we are to commit our actions to Him and then our plans will succeed (vs 3).  I happen to believe the reason being is when we truly submit ourselves to His leading, He will plant desires in our hearts.  It may come as a shock to some of you, but God can totally change your heart and mind to line up with what He wants you to do as opposed to what you want to do.  He stretches us, shapes us and molds us to do His work.  We are being refined and strengthened every single time we say no to ourselves and yes to Him.  The more we deny our own plans to take up the ones He has set before us, the more He will see that our faith and trust is in Him alone.  When that happens, God will start flinging doors wide open for you to share the Truth in ways you never dreamed possible.

If you are feeling a nudge to do something for God and you’re in the throws of a mental debate of wanting to be obedient but questioning, “God is this you because I’m not so sure you’ve got the right person for this?”  May I give you a very simple piece of advice?  The enemy will not ask you to do something that glorifies God.  If what you feel pressed to do is pointing people to Jesus and the absolute truth of His Word, it ain’t the devil.

Say yes to God and feel the warmth of His smile rest upon you.

“When the KING smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain.” (vs 15)

She is awesome...very well stated.

She is awesome…very well stated.

*Day 16 of our Proverbs 31 day challenge…man this is good stuff!

 

~Reward now…or Later?~ February 25, 2014

lose soulDoes it bother anyone else when you look around and see the people who are living like hell thriving while the godly seem to struggle?  This used to be a real issue for me in my early years as a Christian.  I would basically fuss at God.  “Why is that heathen excelling while my friend who loves you is barely scrapping by?  Lord, are you even paying attention?!”

“The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good….Even hell holds no secrets from God- do you think he can’t read human hearts?”  (Proverbs 15:3 & 11 NLT/Message)

These verses were incredibly freeing for me.  I’m not going to pretend to fully understand the why behind it all, but a wise man, also known as my husband, once shared a profound truth with me: “The wicked are receiving their reward now while ours is being stored up for us in eternity.  It’s one of the tricks of the enemy.”  I would much rather struggle for a little while in this life in order to receive my blessings in Heaven than live as the world calls blessed now and spend eternity in the fiery pits of Hell.

“It’s better to obey the Lord and have only a little, than to be very rich and terribly confused.” (Proverbs 15:16 CEV)

While it may appear to those of us on the outside looking in, that the one who is successful has it all, we haven’t a clue what demons they are dealing with behind closed doors.  I wrote this poem about a year ago and shared it on this blog last May.  It is relevant to this post, so I am sharing once again.

The Rich Man

I know a man who has it all;

big house, nice car, designer clothes.

He’s attained success in his career,

good luck follows him wherever he goes.

So why is it that his demeanor

is down-cast, sullen and morose?

Could it be that beneath all the accolades

lies a secret that nobody knows?

While wealth and good fortune are his for the taking,

his spiritual life; a disaster in the making.

He gives no recognition to the God

who gave him a firm place to stand.

God deserves none of the credit;

he is a self-made man.

His days are filled with good times and laughter

but what about what happens after?

In the quiet of darkness, he lies alone.

Inside the recesses of his mind

where “light” has never shone.

For even though he has it all, there is one thing he lacks.

A relationship with his Creator

has slipped right through the cracks.

Life without our Lord and Savior is really no life at all

So the rich man isn’t actually rich

for he remains broken from the fall.

So do not envy my friend, the rich man

for his riches shall all pass away.

His achievements will prove to him useless

before the Lord on Judgment Day.

For the one who submits that God is Lord over all, our pain lasts but a moment, while our joy is everlasting.  For the one who seeks earthly possessions over heavenly gain,  “you must be humbled before you can be honored.”  (Proverbs 15:33 ERV)

*We are at our halfway point of the Book of Proverbs study.  Let us continue with diligence and a a willingness to let the Lord reveal new wisdom to us.

 

~Look Beyond the Smile~ February 24, 2014

“Hi, how are you?”

“Fine, and you?”

“Just fine.”

Hand shake, hug around the neck, smile and move on.

Sounds about right for a typical Sunday morning encounter at your local church, wouldn’t you say?

The trouble with this type of interaction is it oozes with “fakeness.”  It would be real easy for Christians to be satisfied with that blanket response that they will likely get from every person they greet in the congregation.  While some people may be just fine, the majority are lying.  It’s simpler to say that one little word than it is to be real with people.  Our job as ambassadors for Christ is to look beyond that pretty little, plastered on smile and see what’s going on inside the heart.

“Laughter might hide your sadness. But when the laughter is gone, the sadness remains.” (Proverbs 14:13 CEV)

This is why I urge you to pray for discernment when dealing with people within your sphere of influence.  Ask the Lord to show you signs of those who may be struggling and to give you the words to make them feel comfortable in opening up.  Pray that their hearts would not be hardened by whatever burden they are dragging around but that they’d be receptive to a listening ear and gentle spirit.

It breaks my heart to think of the many who walk around dying inside with the most beautiful smile on their face so no one ever suspects there’s turmoil just under the surface.  That’s why I always look at the eyes.  It’s the eyes that reveal sorrow and pain or true joy and happiness.

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!”  (Matthew 6:22-23 The Message)

When you sense in your spirit that the one word response is phony, don’t be afraid to ask again, “Is everything ok?”  Sometimes people are giving you a simple answer because they don’t think you truly care but it may be that all it would take is a second time for them to see you are sincerely interested in their well-being.

And for the one who is hiding behind your “I’m fine” smile….stop it.  The next time someone expresses genuine concern for you, let them in so that you can quit wilting away on the inside.  God doesn’t want you to suffer in silence.  We were created to need other people.  And it is not a sign of weakness to reach out for help.  It takes more courage to seek counsel than it does to “tough it out” alone.fake smile

 *This is day 14 of our Book of Proverbs study.  Won’t you join us?!

 

~If Only We Came With a Pause Button~ February 23, 2014

“Wise people think before they act; fools don’t-and even brag about their foolishness.”  (Proverbs 13:16 NLT)

In the heat of an “intense moment of fellowship,” also known as a fight, it is often hard to hold thy tongue.  Most of us are hardwired to go blow for blow when someone makes us mad, whether it be with words or literal blows!  The concept of turning the other cheek becomes a near impossibility when our blood pressure reaches it’s boiling point.

While most of us later regret when we act out of anger, there are some who are quite proud of themselves for their less than savory responses in combative situations.  Why?  What in the world makes someone boast about their ability to belittle or physically hurt another human being whom God loves?!

Proverbs 13 clears that right up for us…a fool, synonymous to: idiot, moron and a 3 letter word that also means donkey.  (No offense, just a fact, look it up.)  Only someone who is completely lacking in respect for others and themselves finds it amusing to advertise that which they should be ashamed of.

When we find ourselves in the midst of a disagreement, it would be wise of us to learn how to operate our internal pause button.  Unfortunately, it is not accessible to anyone else so no one can punch it for us.  It may be that you need to walk away from the situation for a bit.  Maybe you are far more self-controlled than I and you simply need to take a deep breath to regain composure and speak with wisdom and understanding.  Others can count to 10 and feel a sense of calm while others still may need to count to say 1000 before the rage meter drops a notch or two.

The whole point is to find what works for you to keep from flipping your lid and blowing your witness when you are upset.  Nothing about a hot-tempered fool screams “I Love Jesus!!!”  Let the words from James be written on your hearts so that when controversy comes, and you better believe it will, you will be able to quickly call it to remembrance and shut. your. mouth.

“You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.  So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” (James 1:19-21 NLT)

cruel

*If you are new to this site, you have stumbled upon a 31 day reading challenge on the Book of Proverbs.  Want to start from the beginning?  Search “31 Day Challenge” in the tool bar on the left!  Also found in the February archives.

 

~You want it? Work for it!~ February 22, 2014

work“Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit.” (Proverbs 12:12 NLT)

How much time do you figure we waste coveting what our neighbors have?  I would venture to say that if people would expend HALF  the energy they use “wishing” they had what so-and-so has on actually working towards earning it, we would find ourselves far more prosperous.

Very few successful people got that way overnight.  However, the society that we live in now teaches entitlement over hard work.  Everybody wants nice things and yet only a handful are willing to put in the time and sacrifice that it takes to get there.

I know that there are people who have fallen on hard times and need a helping hand until they get back on their feet, so understand that I am not referencing those who have an actual valid need.  There are those who manipulate and abuse the systems that our government has in place who are depleting the resources.   They are blessed with perfectly able-bodies but unwilling spirits.  Essentially, they are too lazy to work.

If we were to take the words of 2 Thessalonians literally, some people would be in a world of hurt:

“The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”  

We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.  Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.  (3:10-12 NIV)

Put your hands to work instead of walking around with them extended looking for a handout.  Going through a rough patch?  Take the time and help to get things back in order and then get back out there!  God honors those who work diligently towards their goals.