Drop the Grievances, They Help No One

grievances help no one

Yet there are some who carry grievances as if they were badges of honor. They’re not honorable and have no redeeming value to anyone whatsoever.

Grievances are akin to a dark mass that surrounds those who carry them. What can they do?

1. They can subdue the light. It is contrary to that great exhortation:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:16

What will people see when we carry grievances? They will see a person who cannot forgive, who is bitter and who is lacking in love; certainly not a person of light.

2. They can suppress joy. It is notable that the Bible equates joy with inner strength.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” -Nehemiah 8:10

Joy and grievances simply do not mix. If joy gives inner strength, then it follows that grievances weaken you.

3. They can blur spiritual understanding.

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. -Proverbs 29:18

This means we will be incapable of receiving wisdom. How can we when our thoughts and emotions are clouded by grievances?

4. They can cause graceless speech.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. -Colossians 4:6

Yet, our conversation cannot be full of grace if there are grievances in our heart:

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. -Luke 6:45

Grievances hurt, but mostly to the ones who carry them.

Drop the grievances. Dispel the darkness. Let the love of God filter through.

Delight in God

delight in God
King David knew the secret to living abundantly.

Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)

But the question might be asked, “How does one delight in the Lord?”

Here are a few suggestions.

1. Believe with all your heart that God loves you. Because he does!

His love is non-judgmental. His love does not condemn. His love does not recognize titles, degrees, positions. His love is not limited by culture, educational background or religious belief systems. His love is unconditional.

It is us who sometimes try to define God’s love and our definitions always fall short. Don’t define nor rationalize God’s love. Just believe!

2. Immerse yourself in God’s love. Be in the here and now. Don’t dwell in the past, don’t worry about the future. God is doing something now. He’s loving you and desires to bring you to where he knows you can receive all that he has in store for you.

God’s presence is in the present. His power is in the present. His love is in the present. Be in the present!

3. Spread the love of God. Be compassionate. Be kind. Be forgiving, especially to yourself. Sing his praises. Hug people. Pay your tithes. Lead by serving. Share his word.

Be the person God wants you to be. When you do, you become the channel of his light and love. You become salt of the earth.

You become the very semblance of Christ on this earth.

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:35

When you delight in God, God delights in you. And so will your fellowmen.

That, without question, is abundant living.

The Flow of Love

Love Must Flow

“God is love,” John the Revelator wrote. In this description do we immediately see that God is a God of relationship. Love flows within the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

And that same love is poured out unto us.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. -Romans 5:5

Thus, the love of God must flow out of our hearts into the hearts of others.

How can we make this happen?

1. Be forgiving. Love stops flowing when we have an unforgiving heart. Unforgivingness breeds bitterness which then leads to hate. It is destructive to relationships and even blocks the love of God from flowing through the unforgiving heart.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. -Matthew 6:14-15

2. Practice random acts of kindness. Mother Theresa said this: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

With kindness you can touch people with the love of God. Kindness is one sure way of soothing the hurts you may have received from others. Melt the bitterness with kindness.

3. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It’s a scary thought. To be vulnerable is to be open to more hurts. Yet, the alternative is to build walls around us, which desensitizes us and causes us to be indifferent.

Vulnerability may rent, tear and rip us. But it opens up gaps in our souls that enable God’s love to flow through. God’s love engenders compassion and empathy.

And healing.

It’s what the world desperately needs.

Be Kind in 2017

As we enter a new year, many will be making resolutions for a better life. Here’s one I believe should be on everyone’s list: Be kind. Or be kinder.

We’ve seen so much hate in 2016 that the best way we can hope for a better year is to be kind. There is a verse in the Book of Acts that exemplifies kindness.

The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. -Acts 28:2 (NASB)

After being shipwrecked the Apostle Paul and his companions swam to shore and they were met by the islanders. Although they were complete strangers, the islanders nevertheless received them and kept them warm with a fire.

While this was a literal action of warmness, kindness is also –even more so—keeping hearts warm through genuine ministerial care. Many go through storms –emotional, spiritual, psychological—in their lives and kindness will make them feel they are not alone.

So, in 2017, be kind even if others may be unkind to you.

Be kind even if you are misconstrued, misjudged, misinterpreted.

Be kind even if false accusations are hurled against you.

To be kind is to spread love in Christ’s name.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience… -Colossians 3:12 (NASB)

The Other You

The Other You

Have you ever stood before a mirror and asked, “Who are you?”

The obvious answer would be, “Your reflection.”

And that’s how the world would want you to answer when it asks you, “Who are you?”

This is because the world wants to create the illusion that you can become what you are not. So it foists upon you the latest make-up, the classiest clothes, the fastest cars, the slickest gadgets and the most popular diets. And if you’re not able to cope with all these, the world will say you have a problem and will throw at you the trendiest self-help books.

When you get caught up in the world’s illusion, you invite fear into your lives – the fear of rejection, the fear of not looking good enough, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of not having enough, etc. You then forget the other you.

The other you is the real you, the one that God originally had in mind to create.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:27

God created you to be divine, untouched and uninfluenced by the trappings of this world. You don’t need the world. The world instead needs you.

But we lost our sense of divinity with the fall of Adam and Eve. As such, we have placed more importance on the external than the internal. We began to search for the gods of security and significance in the world when the I AM has been within us all along.

I AM is one of the names of God.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“ -Exodus 3:14

Jesus significantly called himself I AM several times. He was the epitome of divinity in human form. Yet, for us today, he can be more than just an epitome. He can be the very life within us that can mold us into the image of God.

The other you can be the Christ in you. What the world offers is all illusion. Christ is the reality.

The other you should be the real you.

3 Awesome Ways God Loves Us

God's love

God is love. This is his very essence. And if there are three persons in the Godhead –Father, Son and Holy Spirit—this means love is the essence of all three. So here are three awesome ways God loves us according to the three persons in the Trinity.

God the Father – he runs to us.

In the parable of The Prodigal Son, we read that the father, upon the return of the wayward son, ran to greet him.

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. -Luke 15:20

This is a picture of the love of God. God is not an aloof God who is sitting in the far reaches of heaven waiting for mankind to fall all over themselves to try to reach him. He is a God wanting to run to us, throw his arms around us and kiss us. If only we would let him. And we can by following what the wayward son did. He made up his mind to return to the father with humility and repentance.

When we run to God, we will discover that he was running towards us all along. His love is that awesome!

God the Son – he prays for us.

In the Book of Hebrews, Jesus is spoken of as the Great High Priest and he has taken as one of his duties to pray for us.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. -Hebrews 7:25

If love is the essence of God the Son, then the prayers of Jesus can only be pure, sincere and full of compassion, not expecting anything from us in return. It is the kind of prayer that will be answered by God the Father. To appropriate the answers of the prayers of Jesus, we have to abide in him in submission of our lives to him. To trust in him is to bask in his awesome love for us.

God the Holy Spirit – he moves in us.

The Holy Spirit dwells in us.

That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. -2 Timothy 1:14 (NKJV)

And the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of love (see Galatians 5:22). This means we have the ability to love the way God loves. We have the ability to forgive the way God forgives (see my previous post). Thus, we have the power to dispel hate in this world by the love of God that is within us. The awesome love of God is universal and can touch the life of anyone.

We should not allow ourselves to love any less.

True Forgiveness

true forgiveness

When we get hurt, the intensity of the hurt really depends on how we judge the offense. More often than not, we judge the offense with our ego.

The question we thus should ask is, what really got hurt? Was it our sense of dignity? Our opinion of certain issues? Our looks? Our associations? Our idols?

Then we need to examine the degree of our like or dislike of the person who caused the hurt. If we do not know the person too well, the degree of the hurt is much more than if we knew the person better. For example, we find it easier to forgive a sibling or parent than someone outside of the family. This is because our ego is less likely to assert itself when the hurt involves our loved ones.

Thus, oftentimes it is the ego that deals with the hurt. It can tell us to not forgive. It can tell us to forgive and then have nothing to do anymore with the person who hurt us. It can tell us to forgive but harbor murderous thoughts. It can tell us to forgive but not forget.

In other words, the ego has its own definition of forgiveness. And we go by it.

But what does God’s word say?

So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” -Luke 17:3-4

Jesus wasn’t referring to quantity, but the quality of forgiveness. The relationship is still there. There is no walking away. There is still the effort to build up the relationship.

True forgiveness doesn’t say, “I forgive you. Goodbye!” True forgiveness says, “I forgive you. Allow me to minister to you because I know you’re hurting too and that might be the cause of why you hurt me.”

It is true love –what is known in Greek as agape—in action.

Forgiveness should not be based on ego. It should be based on Christ in us. It should produce the hope that the hurt will be soothed, that reconciliation will take place and that the love of God will prevail so that his goodness will ultimately be the outcome.

And his glory be revealed.

3 Awesome Attributes of God’s Love

God's Love

Love has four meanings in the Greek. The greatest of these is agape, the love that describes the love of God.

Here are three awesome attributes about God’s love that we should emulate, so we can begin to understand the full impact of what love truly is.

1. It is humble.
Pride is so subtle that we can think we’re being humble but unknowingly proud. Take forgiveness as an example. Humility in forgiveness is a two-way street. The one asking for forgiveness and the one who forgives should both reach out to the other with the goal of soothing the hurts, starting over again and restoring whatever may have been lost.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. -Matthew 5:23-24

But oftentimes the one who forgives will not forget. He will forgive but not reconcile. There is no love, there is no humility. It is not forgiveness at all.

When Jesus hung on the cross, he forgave. With his death and resurrection, he continues to reach out to people to reconcile them with God. God’s awesome love was displayed in Calvary!

2. It is self-emptying.
In other words, love in its highest form empties us of the trappings of the ego: self-love, self-worth, self-importance, etc. Agape says, “I will give you all that I am so you can be the best that you can be.”

The crucifixion exposed the worst in man; the resurrection revealed the best that man can be. Jesus emptied himself at the cross so that he can fill us with the best that heaven can give.

Many times it will cause us pain to seek to love the way God does. Yet, it is the ego that is pained, because it struggles to let go of what it believes gives us significance and security. The ego is illusionary. The reality is God.

Give up the ego and embrace God. We will then be on the road to finding and expressing God’s love.

3. It is sacrificial.
It is readily offered. We do not become humble and empty ourselves because we do not have a choice. We love because we want to love, just as God loves us because he wants to love us. Love doesn’t just happen. We make it happen.

We give and we serve and not count the cost. We do so as an offering to God. We do not judge on whether the person is worthy of our love or not. We just love. God always finds us worthy of his love. And he paid the price of this love.

Love at its highest form never asks for anything back. God’s love is an unconditional love.

All three attributes is summarized in this passage of Scripture:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross! -Philippians 2:5-8

May we love the way God loves!

The Music of Love

Music of Love

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. -Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

Perfect harmony. Beautiful description of people coming together in love.

It speaks of unity. Synchronicity. Blending. Flow.

And God is pleased.

It doesn’t come easy, but it can happen. It takes practice, getting to know one another, recognizing each other’s gifts, learning, correcting, following, leading.

Just like a symphony. But the conductor is the Holy Spirit. The audience is only one – the Lord Jesus Christ.

So we dare not be out of tune. We dare not be the screech that will spoil the music. We would want to be a part of making beautiful melody unto the Lord.

Love. Put it on. Wear it. Be comfortable in it. Never remove it. Don’t worry, you won’t smell. On the contrary, you will become a sweet-smelling aroma that wafts up to heaven.

Making music doesn’t get any better.

Perfect harmony.

Sheepish Declarations

Sheepish Declarations
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. –Psalm 23:1

In the first verse of Psalm 23, we see two kinds of declaration. One is a declaration of faith, the other a declaration of surrender.

“The Lord is my shepherd,” is a declaration of faith on a God who is able to provide, protect and empower. It is faith because God is invisible and yet we can believe he exists .

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. -John 20:29

The declaration of surrender is implied. If we declare that God is our shepherd, we are tacitly declaring that we are his sheep. Sheep are meek, vulnerable and easily frightened. This means we are to take the attitude of a sheep, that we are lost without a shepherd. In other words, we can find fulfillment and contentment in God and his will for us. I shall not want.

Yet, a surrender to God’s will also means recognizing that he knows what we want and need and that he will supply these according to HIS riches in glory. Not ours.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:19

Our concept of what we want is totally different than God’s. God’s concept is always better and always abundant.

It is significant to note that David made these declarations even when he had already been chosen as king. Everything about David’s life, whether he was shepherd or king, was centered on following after God’s heart.

And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the[son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ -Acts 13:22

Declarations of faith and surrender are declarations of devotion to God.