two words

I often draw a great deal of comfort from two words in the book of John, for they remind me that Jesus can relate to loss, and all the emotions grief invokes: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35 He gets how we feel, so we can safely bring our feelings to Him.

#hopefortheharddays

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#torontostrong

Shock. Horror. Grief.

When a normal day swerved into a day of sudden, avoidable loss filled with confusion, fear and mourning just a way up the road in Toronto.

In the quiet of this new day as I brought this situation before You, You reminded me of the Truth You want proclaimed over #the6ix – both today, and every day – and every other city, town, community and place we call home, every where around our world.

This truth You first proclaimed in a small pub years ago to a worship band listening for what You wanted to say in the midst of a city in extreme brokeness, crying out for justice. That who You are is always there for the hurting, broken and grieving. Through every tear, despite our fear? We can rest in Your strength when our loss overwhelms us. For You are with us, for us and walk along side us every step of the way through any circumstance or situation which comes our way.

“You’re God of this city, You’re the King of these people, You’re the Lord of this nation, You are.
You’re the light in this darkness, You’re the hope to the hopeless
You’re the peace to the restless, You are.

You’re the Lord of creation, the creator of all things, You’re the King above all kings, You are.
You’re the strength in the weakness, You are love to the broken, You’re the joy in the sadness, You are.

For there is no one like our God. There is no one like You, God!

Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city. Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done here.” – Bluetree

#torontostrong #hopefortheharddays

focusing on the inside out

Your Word reminds me that it’s what’s inside that matters most, not the outer trappings. So I do not need to worry about what I wear or what I will eat, because You provide for all my needs. (Matthew 6:25)

#hopefortheharddays

starting the week off right

Unlike most of the world, Sunday is the day which anchors my week. Not Monday with all its hype, nor Friday with its “weekend coming soon” lure.

I look forward to Sunday each week, and all week.

For Sunday holds glimpses of our eternal home!

1. The church is actually a gathering of His House on earth.

2. All are welcome to come & accept the key (Jesus) to enter, becoming family when we do.

3. It’s filled with wonder – God revealed through His Word & worship, our testimonies and His miracles.

Want to turn your week upside down?

  • Make Sunday your start day.
  • Spend time with the Son.
  • Get to know those who love Him.

I usually discover a verse each Sunday which helps set the tone for my upcoming week, which helps to remind me to first look to Him for everything and to continuously lift His praise no matter the hard day!

All together now—applause for God! Sing songs to the tune of His glory, set glory to the rhythms of His praise. Say of God, “We’ve never seen anything like Him!” When your enemies see You in action, they slink off like scolded dogs. The whole earth falls to its knees— it worships You, sings to You, can’t stop enjoying Your name and fame. Psalm 66:1-4 MSG

#calltoworship #raiseHispraise

doing our part when extending forgiveness

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. Matthew 6:14-15 MSG

In short? If you struggle with being able to forgive, you block being able to receive His.

It took many years of struggling for me to realize that unforgiveness is a poison which only eats away at the unforgiver, not the offender. Which meant I was only hurting myself in the process.

Until I grasped these freeing truths.

  1. Forgiveness isn’t letting your offender go free without consequences. It means you trust God to judge them instead.
  2. Forgiveness isn’t making light of what happened to you. It lightens your load by giving it to God to carry instead.
  3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you stay in relationship with the offender. Or that if they broke the law, you don’t file charges. It seeks God first to ask for His direction, and follows as He leads you through unraveling the after effects in your life.
  4. Forgiveness means focusing on your hurt, Your response, your freedom. It is part of how God designed us to function at our best.

By releasing Your offender through forgiveness, you break the unhealthy ties which formed between you.

Which means you are both free from what happened in the past, and can move forward without a negative attachment.

Which leaves more room for God to expand into within you where unforgiveness used to live, and allows for a greater faith and trust to develop as you forgive and see God’s handiwork.

I visually see forgiveness as a shield which gets activated when we forgive, and is strengthened by God’s forgiveness towards us.

  • Forgive so you can receive His forgiveness.
  • Forgive so you can leave the past where It is to remain, as a part of Your history but not the current chapter.
  • Forgive so you can experience greater freedom as His child, and offer that freedom to those who need it.

Choosing forgiveness will not initially be easy to do. But God will come alongside you and battle for your freedom. He will heal, love and encourage you as you obey His instruction to forgive.

#hopefortheharddays

THE SWEET FRAGRANCE OF FORGIVENESS⠀

Over the years, I have noticed that something almost explainable is released into the atmosphere, and within me, when I forgive a hurt, unkind word or negative action.⠀

And amazingly, it always begins with my decision to forgive.⠀

Our choices have more influence on what is going on around us in the natural than we realise.⠀

My choice to respond with kindness, grace, mercy, compassion and forgiveness not only lightens my soul and spirit, but releases those as a gift about me. Whether it is received or not, God honours our desire to live free and model forgiveness.⠀
Just as Jesus did when He was amongst us.⠀

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32 (MSG)⠀

Want to shift the atmosphere about yourself? Invite God to show you if you are needing to forgive someone, and/or show them compassion and kindness wherever you are. He is always willing to guide us when we look to Him, and tune in to listen for His response.⠀

#hopefortheharddays

the extravagance of forgiveness

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “How many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22⠀


Anyone else first read those verses and gasp out loud too at Jesus’ response?!⠀

For me, these verses have actually become a comfort to me on the harder days.⠀

Because I know that in my own strength, I’d be lucky to occasionally offer forgiveness, let alone such an extravagant number of times like Jesus mentions!⠀

But as His child, and because of the cross, I don’t have to do anything in my own strength anymore. Including forgive!⠀

“Love doesn’t keep score, because Love has a bad memory.”⠀

And there is the crux of the matter. With the right heart attitude, we can forgive generously because we have been forgiven much by our generous God.⠀

True forgiveness is not an action after the fact, it is an attitude with which you enter each moment. David Ridge⠀


So God? Would You please help me to forgive in each moment where that choice becomes evident? Fill me with the courage to do so when I am at my weakest, empower me to speak it out loud as I offer forgiveness, and help me to grasp more completely the gift of Love You extended to me when You forgave my faults and flaws upon the cross. I thank You that I am never alone in each moment I face the choice to forgive, and that Your example of generous forgiveness towards all will never fade or pass away.⠀

#hopefortheharddays

the boomerang effect of forgiveness

Not forgiving people is more common than we realize.

It’s funny how we can go through our days and not realize that some of why we feel the way we do is because of our lack of obedience, and refusal to choose to let go.

Luke 6:37 NIV reads, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

The reminder here is clear, we reap what we sow.

To me, the Message version of Luke 6:37 reads slightly more relatable to my heart: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

The boomerang is a tool which when thrown correctly, intentionally comes back to the thrower. But you have to throw it, or give it away in order for it to return.

God’s kingdom is the same! When we give Him our hurts, He opens us up to receive positive things where the negative formerly resided. Give Him your pain, He gives you life in exchange. Refuse to forgive, jump to judge, highlight flaws just because you can? Tossing negativity out only brings it back to us, just like the boomerang.

I don’t know about you, but today’s verse impacted my vision today to be more careful with my words & heart attitudes, and reminds me that there is no reason why I can’t take a second to ask Him to help me filter any situation through His eyes, and respond with His heart.

Bottom line? When I extend grace and forgive, He releases more grace and forgiveness towards me! Who couldn’t use more of either?!

#hopefortheharddays

Its okay to let go when it's time to move on.

revisiting forgiveness

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to share about a particularly awkward and emotionally charged situation in terms of what God has taught me about forgiveness, around the same time as someone close to me asked me how I was so easily able to forgive.

The honest answer?

I am not easily able to forgive. It has taken years of lassoing my emotions and bringing my hurting heart before God in exchange for Him to give me the willingness to forgive…instead of letting my wounds fester and my emotions stew. In fact, there are years which badly damaged me where unforgiveness kept me tethered to a painful moment in the past, and at times, the tension almost pulled me under.

Letting go and allowing Him to help me to forgive has been the best lesson on Kingdom living I have ever learned so far.

So this week, I am going to share a few of the best verses and truths I have found in the Word with you, in the hopes that you too will find the freedom and release you crave deep down within from the One who can not only set you free, but replace those painful moments with the ability to recall them without unforgiveness pushing your buttons.

One of my favorite verses about forgiveness is found in Ephesians.  The relationship and battle chapters which I am often drawn to for His guidance and reassurance.

Ephesians 4_32 kind forgive

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other. Ephesians 4:32

There are four aspects to this verse which caught my attention anew this morning…

  1. Be kind – the starting place.  A Godly characteristic we are to walk in.
  2. To one another – in our relationships, with those we know and like, and those we may have been hurt by. Basically – everyone we encounter – including ourselves!
  3. Tender-hearted – a soft heart ties the kindness and what comes next together.
  4. Forgiving each other – letting go of what can keep us apart spiritually by forgiving what has happened in the past, whether immediate or long ago.

My prayer for us all this week? As we spend time with God, that He would reveal any moment or area where we need to extend forgiveness, so we can make room for more of Him – His healing, grace, mercy, love, kindness, patience, faithfulness – within!

#hopefortheharddays

 

When your hope seems at its lowest

In shock, those who followed Jesus were left with silence and their memories after He died on the cross.

The path ahead looked bleak and dark as of Thursday night. Illegal trials, unjust accusation, unwarranted physical and emotional cruelty, depths of pain and agony…watching the One they loved and admired take it all.

When He finally spoke after darkness covered the area? To make sure His mom was taken care of, to welcome a new believer into His Kingdom, to offer forgiveness & cry out at the separation sin cost Him right before He died.

The veil tore, He was hurriedly prepared for burial, and His shocked family & followers were left with their grief.

Grief and silence can be overwhelming when you do not have positive memories and faith to cling to.

Jesus had prepared His followers for the truth to come…and yet the shock of His recent loss would have overshadowed His words.

Until He put them into action and rose again.

I always get a thrill at Mary approaching the tomb where Jesus kindly and slowly revealed Himself slowly to her.

He was risen, and that good news has never stopped being any less true than the day it first occured.

My Savior is alive! He paid my debt, and set me free to follow His ways.

New life for Jesus means a new start for everyone who encounters Him and accepts the truth.

God is not dead, He’s truly alive! Not only on Easter Sunday, but every single day.

The days where things go well, and the ones which drag us into pain, sorrow and anxiety.

We can now have hope, because the One who told us what He would do has done it. God came to us, showed us His love face to face, and then took our destiny (to be convicted by the cost of our wrongs) upon Himself – by becoming the required offering to make things right again. For us.

Because Love doesn’t leave the ones He loves without improving things for them.

The cost was oh so high, but the results? Oh so eternally amazing!! Love does.

My Saviour lives! And because He does, I too can truly live, and walk alongside Him forevermore!

#Easter #Helives #Hereigns #hopefortheharddays