4 Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; 5 it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs 6 or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! 7 Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. 8 Love will never become obsolete. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 The Voice
One day during my devotional time I decided to let my Bible fall open and that is where I would read. It fell open to the last page of the concordance. The words “wrong” and “wronged” caught my eye. It took me to scriptures in 1 Corinthians and Proverbs. The gist of the scriptures I read was this:
(1) Isn’t it better to be wronged than to have wronged someone else?
(2) Love covers all wrongs
This gave me pause. I still had quite a few sticking points in my heart with some folks. They felt like rough ragged edges that my feelings would get caught on. It was a place of injury. So I started to pray. I started to ask for the characteristics of love. I asked for patience, kindness. I asked to be able to rejoice in the truth, protect always, trust always, hope always and to always persevere. I asked God to help me let go of all the junk associated with these ragged edges in my heart. I began to realize that I was not the only one injured. I was able to lift others up in prayer too.
Father, show us where the frayed and ragged edges are in our hearts. Make them more smooth from experiencing and practicing Your love.
“1The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:1-3 NIV
The image of John receiving this message from the angel of God is a powerful one. Wow. To see and hear from God like John – that would be incredible.
So what does it take to hear from God this clearly? Be still. I think we also have to know how much God loves us in order to fully trust what we hear. It is critical for us to know how deep and how true He loves us.
We will be tested. We will need to stand firm; stand firm in His life and His love. We will be faced with ugliness. Darkness will be all around us. In those times, the hard times, we need to trust God. Trust His love for us.
Father, help me stand. Help me simply stand firmly next to You. Hold my hand. Never leave me or forsake me. I know You never will because You promised.
“18 They are blind to true understanding. They are strangers and aliens to the kind of life God has for them because they live in ignorance and immorality and because their hearts are cold, hard stones.19 And now, since they’ve lost all natural feelings, they have given themselves over to sensual, greedy, and reckless living. They stop at nothing to satisfy their impure appetites.” Ephesians 4:18-19 The Voice
“22 then you know to take off your former way of life, your crumpled old self—that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust— 23 to take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit. 24 Then you are ready to put on your new self, modeled after the very likeness of God: truthful, righteous, and holy.” Ephesians 4:22-24 The Voice
Hopefully you can see the contrast. It is very interesting that this message was for believers. Paul is reminding the believers in Ephesus to shift – leave an old lifestyle behind. Leave an old hard heart behind. Change. Transform. Renew. Choose a new life. Obviously we can’t do this alone. We need to be in a Christian community with a commitment to unity and accountability to accomplish a major shift like this.
It’s not perfect or easy. As believers we have a model in Jesus. We have instructions in God’s word. All we have to do is immerse ourselves in the operating instructions! When we lose our way, just go back and read the instructions again…God is gracious and loving and kind. He never leaves us or forsakes us. Just hang on and keep referring to the instruction manual!
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8 NIV
A right heart is the foundation for everything else. I can do a lot of things. I can fill my task list with all kinds of “good” things but if I do not do them in love, they are not worthy. Often in prayer I ask God to search my heart because I want to offer it up to Him and I trust Him to keep it right. Sometimes I see an element of fear or comparison or performance and I ask Him to get rid of it. I ask Him to fill my heart with things too. Like discernment and wisdom and love. Sometimes I just ask Him to make it right and then He shows me what’s going on. I’m so thankful. He is the best heart surgeon around! Talk about preventive medicine! And I always ask that He fill me with His love. His perfect love heals all. All we have to do is ask Him and He will do it.
Psalm 7:10, Psalm 17:3, Proverbs 3:5, Matthew 22:37
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NASB
When the peace of Christ rules in your heart it is noticeable. People see something different about you. Instead of being caught up in the worry and anxiety of performance, you trust in a greater plan. I have come to understand that I don’t know everything. I accept that I am not meant to know everything. The only person that knows everything is God my Father. If my heart is dialed into His heart I follow the direction of Him, the One Who Knows Everything. That is a lot more peaceful than trying to guess what is coming or feeling like I need to be prepared for whatever comes my way. Instead, I have peace that my Father only wants what is best for me. I trust His ways, His Word and His guidance. I don’t weigh in with another twelve people for input before making a decision. His voice is the voice that I hear most clearly. I seek wise counsel when directed. He lights the path for me. Thank you Father for loving me so fully and holding me in Your tender care! Thank you for making me pure and righteous through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ!
Psalm 29:11, Isaiah 26:3, John 14:27, Romans 15:13
“Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your Truth and teach me, for Your are God My Savior, and my Hope is in You all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5
I had been scared about God’s reference to submission from time to time. I thought it was about breaking my spirit. What I have come to understand is that a transition occurs, a surrender, as we come closer to God. Our desires become His desires. Our ways begin to reflect His ways. Our heart begins to reflect His heart. Whether I realized it or not, I had already started to submit. My heart had softened to hear His Word and accept His direction (and sometimes correction!). It turns out not to be scary after all. Anything but. It turns out to be an easier, more peaceful, joyful way to live. Casting all my cares on Him.
I began to pray “Father I surrender all things to You: myself, my daughter, my family, my choices, my life and all that is in it. I trust that You only want what is best. You see all. You know all. You LOVE me. Thank you, Lord.”
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17
The condition of our heart affects all things. How we see the world. How we interact with the world. How we see others. I can’t get past how important it is to care for our heart. The Bible provides so much instruction on how to trust our heart to God, how to guard our heart, how to confess our heart. If our hearts are set on Jesus, they will be open to wisdom from heaven. The following prayer by James Goll, a Prayer for Spiritual Eyes, really resonated for me. I have referred to it several times: “Lord give me that spirit of wisdom; grant me that spirit of revelation so that I will be captured by Jesus Christ. Release the shafts of revelation light into the eyes of my heart, that I might know the hope of Your calling, that I might know the glorious inheritance that lives inside of me, and that I might know the surpassing greatness of Your power that works in me.”
Ephesians 1:17-21, Isaiah 11:2, Luke 12:12, Luke 14:26