A Message from God about Love and Forgiveness

A Message from God about Love and Forgiveness

Toni D

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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Have you ever felt like God was trying to tell you something?  I have had one of those weeks.  God spoke to me four different times in one week about LOVE!

I serve on a planning committee for a Christian women’s conference.  To promote the conference, some of the committee appeared as guests on a local radio station, and the main speaker called in.  She said that she would be speaking on love and forgiveness.  When she said this, I felt a quickening in my spirit.  I was not sure why or what He was trying to tell me, but I was listening.

When she spoke at the conference a few days later, she started with the traditional, “God is love.”  But, then she flipped that around: “Love is God.”  True love is God through His sacrifice of His Son for our sins.  I continued to listen.  She went on to talk about the ongoing process of forgiveness.  I still was not sure where this was going for me, but I was beginning to get some ideas.

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 

1 John 4:8 (NASB)

The next day at church, the preacher began his sermon, and guess what it was about?  Love!  We need to be doing things out of love.  1 Corinthians 16:13-14 states, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.”  He continued with Ephesians 4:15, “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.”  We should do everything in love.  This is sometimes difficult to do, especially when we feel we have been wronged.

Three days later, I went to a funeral.  I will not go into details, but the grieving family demonstrated such an outpouring of love and forgiveness.  This was so emotional.  Despite the grief this family was experiencing, they were concerned enough and loved someone else enough to make sure he knew that he was loved and that the family harbored no ill feelings.

From the events of this week, I learned so much, including the realization that I do not always do things out of love; I do a lot out of obligation.  In my words and actions, I do not always show love.  I also realized that there were people that I thought I had forgiven but unforgiveness had crept back in.  I had previously been on guard for it, but I had let my guard down.  God really spoke to me this week and I know there is more I need to work on and probably more that I will get out of it.

Do you do things out of love?

Has God spoken to you about anything recently?

What to Do when Someone Bad-Mouths You

What to Do when Someone Bad-Mouths You

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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Hopefully, you have never been in this situation and will never find yourself there.  But sadly, many of us have.  So what should you do when someone bad-mouths you?

The answer is the easiest, yet most difficult thing you will ever do. You only need to do the following things.  Are you ready?

1. Pray.

This is the best thing to do in every situation.  Pray as if your life depends on it, because in reality, most of the time, it does.  Your relationship with the Lord will determine how you handle the rest of this situation.  At times, you will want to lash out at the person bad-mouthing you.  Resist that temptation.  Instead, pray for that person(s).

Yes, praying for the person bad-mouthing you can be difficult. But it is definitely something that must be done.  If nothing else, it will soften your heart for that person, and you will be able to face them with grace instead of venom.

2. Let God fight your battle.

I say it’s easy, but it is the hardest thing you will do.  You will be tempted to correct the gossip you hear about yourself.  Don’t be tempted to defend yourself.  God will send others to do that (even without you inciting them.)

Some years ago, I was going through a major ordeal.  I heard all this incorrect information about myself, some of which even made me laugh out loud because it was so outlandish. After months of trying to resolve it personally, I sat through a meeting designed to talk through the issues. Instead, it turned into something completely different.  Two of the people spreading untruths used the meeting to attack me with these untruths rather than trying to resolve the issues at hand.  At this time, I fully understood the following verse…

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

In that moment, I understood more than ever before that there was nothing I could have said to change their minds about me.  So if I could not change their minds, why engage them?

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Why not let God work in ways that I cannot?

For two hours I sat there, listening and praying that I would keep my big mouth shut.  (Because let’s just be honest here, I do not shy away from conflict.)  Thankfully, a friend was praying over me at the exact same time.  God was able to keep my mouth shut just like he did the lions’ mouths when Daniel was in their den.

On a side note: I am not saying that you should not try to work out misunderstandings and wrongs.  Of course, we should always try to reconcile our differences.  Matthew 18 instructs us to do so, but sometimes we must deal with people who do not want to resolve issues. They just want to stir up problems, manipulate the situation, and cause divisions.  This is what I faced, and I realized this after trying to resolve the issues one-on-one several times.

3. Follow Christ’s example.

This goes back to #2 and is the perfect illustration of how to accept malicious words.  When Christ was falsely accused and put on trial, he was humble and strong.  Some believe He was solely keeping quiet so that he would be sent to the cross, but I believe it was more than that.  I believe He was setting an example for us, knowing that his followers would face slander and similar situations as well.

There is a time to speak out and be bold.  But, unless I overlooked some verses–which is possible so feel free to correct me–what I read about Christ, his disciples and apostles speaking out boldly is that it was for God and others…rarely for themselves. We are commanded to speak out for others and defend the faith.

Paul “boasted about” himself in a way in 2 Corinthians 11, but goes on to say this is utter foolishness.

We are commanded to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.

Proverbs 31:8

4. Realize it’s a blessing.

What?  How can we even contemplate that being bad-mouthed is a blessing?  We can! And we should believe this to be true because the Bible tells us so. When we are holding steadfast to God and His truth, letting Him guide us through crazy situations, we may very well find ourselves in the slander spotlight. When this happens, trust these verses…

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. – Matthew 5:11

 

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. – 1 Peter 3:13-17

Our faith grows when we watch God work it all out and see Him get all the glory for all He has done! What a blessing!

5. Believe the truth will come to light.

Again, if you are going through this I am very sorry.  It is not a fun situation and can be distressing.  Just lean into Jesus.  He above all completely understands.  In the end, whether on Earth or in heaven, the truth will all come to light.

In the situation I mentioned above, a few years after that horrific two-hour ordeal, I received a letter from one of the two people involved. That person expressed complete sorrow for having said what was said and asked for forgiveness.  It was one of the most memorable experiences I have had and I was very thankful, that even though it took years, the truth became evident because God was working it all out.  Because of all this, relationships began to be mended where division had once resided.

He will fight for you! You can trust that!

My prayer for you:

Lord, you are beyond amazing.  You work in our lives in ways we could never dream.  You use what we feel are the worst of situations to bring about good and resolve situations that might have otherwise gone unresolved.  We thank you for always working behind the scenes, calming our hearts, and giving us the Holy Spirit to guide us through such difficult circumstances.  We specifically lift up all those who are being bad-mouthed and slandered right now.  Give them your peace, which surpasses understanding, and the courage to let you fight for them.  In the One who let you fight for Him so that we could be redeemed to you – Amen!

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Embracing His Love

Embracing His Love

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Last Thanksgiving my husband’s parents generously hosted Thanksgiving at a condo in Branson so that we could enjoy the holiday festivities at Silver Dollar City. It was truly a wonderful idea! We were very excited about taking our then two-year-old daughter to experience such a fun place!

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It just so happened that Silver Dollar City’s holiday hours were a tad bit inconvenient for our daughter’s nap schedule and so we went in the evening, a time that is usually not her happiest. In addition the crowds were heavy, which meant we couldn’t let her toddle around very much, and it was so, so cold. As you can imagine, she wasn’t very happy. She cried and cried. My husband’s sweet parents soon took her back to the condo where she could play in a more comfortable setting.

Of course, we were not angry with her for causing stress on our delightful plans. We could see her tiredness and frustration. Understanding her limits as a toddler, we had compassion for her. (As a side note, we really had a great trip and thankfully everyone was able to have a fun time. We just had to work around the limitations of our young daughter!)

The Lord’s Compassion

Psalm 103:8-14 says:

“The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens of the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”

psalm-103

Do you ever feel distraught over your mistakes? Perhaps you were given a wonderful opportunity to do something marvelous but ended up making a mess of everything. In these times it can be easy to let fear and embarrassment keep us from approaching our Heavenly Father. We might even back away from our church family. It is so easy to be overcome by our pride and insecurity. How easy it is to forget that God loves us as a father does his children, that he understands our limits and frailties.

I’m reminded of the prodigal son. He begged for his inheritance money and foolishly blew it all on worthless things while living a lazy lifestyle. When he humbly returned home with the plan to work as a servant, his father RAN to him and threw him a large party. His son’s return filled him with joy! Christ explained that God’s enthusiasm is the same when one of his precious children returns to him.

Embracing God’s Love and Presence

Our Father God is rich in love for us. We must be kind to ourselves when we mess up. We should humbly seek him at even our most shameful times. He understands. He will welcome us! When we rest in His love for us, we will be able to move past our mistakes and shortcomings. We can dare to do great things for Him without worry and doubt in our way!

So be encouraged, sweet friend! How freeing it feels to know the pressure to be perfect can dissipate when we truly embrace that we are His child, whom he dearly loves.

I love the music video for Andrew Peterson’s song “Be Kind To Yourself.”.” Two of his children are featured in the video with him, and the affirming words of his unconditional love for them are a gentle reflection of God’s love for us. I hope it will encourage you today if you are struggling with insecurity or past mistakes. God loves you so deeply! Embrace his presence today!

Click HERE to watch “Be Kind to Yourself”.

*A discussion topic found in The Lifegiving Table Experience by Sally Clarkson inspired this post.

 

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Put down the Rope and Stretch out Your Hand

Put down the Rope and Stretch out Your Hand

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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Have you ever been lassoed?

I have and let me tell you it was not a fun ordeal. Even though the person intended it as a joke, it got out of hand. The rope burn around my neck lasted for weeks. This experience left me with a memory that brought about a spiritual revelation decades later.

When I first became a Christian, I was super excited to share Christ with others–and I still am. Where I look back now with a sad heart is how I felt I needed to “rope” someone around their spiritual neck and drag them Where I look back now with a sad heart is how I felt I needed to -rope- someone around their spiritual neck and drag them up to my current spiritual understanding.up to my current spiritual understanding. I was young and immature in my understanding. I wish I could apologize to all those I left with rope burn.

So if you are reading this today–I’m sorry on behalf of myself and anyone else who has done this to you. They might have had the best of intentions but presented their care for you very poorly.

Thankfully, a wonderful Christ-filled couple willingly mentored my husband and me over the years.  Through them, we realized that our initial way of doing things was not the way Jesus handled things. They held out their hand, walked with us, studied scripture with us, and by grace, patience, and love helped us along our spiritual journey.

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Mentored instead of Roped

Instead of roping us around the neck and dragging us up to their level of spiritual understanding, they were patient with us, and allowed us time to grow and mature.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

2-peter-3-9

It’s important to realize that we are all on our own personal walk with our Lord and Savior. He has patience and grace as each person is walking and growing in their faith. We need to do so as well.  This definitely goes for those who have not accepted Christ as their Savior yet too!  Yes, we want them to have the same hope we do. But trying to drag them into it will not make it happen.

If we feel we are ahead of a friend, we don’t need to rope them and drag them to our level. No! If we try that, then they miss the wonderful opportunity to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Instead, we need to reach out our hand and encourage them along the journey. That way, when we stumble and fall, we also have a friend holding our hand and helping us along.

So, if the rope is still in your hand, will you agree to put down the rope and reach out your hand?

Have you ever roped someone or has someone roped you?

How did that affect your relationship with that person and the Lord?

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The Bully in my Brain

The Bully in my Brain

Julie W

Julie W

I am a certified fitness instructor and have been teaching group fitness classes for over 22 years. I am also a board certified holistic health counselor with a degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. I am 48 years old with a 25 year old daughter and a 23 year old son. My husband Chris and I have been married for 28 years. I have been a member of the Church of Christ my entire life as well as my mother, father and both sets of grandparents. I am the owner of a local food service based business and currently teach conditioning classes here in the Edmond area. I have been a strict vegetarian for many years but I will walk 10 miles barefoot in the snow for a good piece of chocolate! ;)
Julie W

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The Voice in Our Heads

We go out of our way to be kind to total strangers. We watch our tone with our children. When the conversation is important, we measure our words carefully. And yet for a lot of us, none of these rules apply to the voice that speaks the loudest in our own minds. I wonder why?

We not only say hurtful and belittling things to ourselves, but that voice also has a tone. It is not sweet or kind; it sounds critical, judgmental, and harsh.  In my health counseling practice I have spoken with so many women who repeat the same demeaning mantra over and over as if on a recording device.  Things like:

  • “You’re so stupid.”
  • “You are so lazy. Why can’t you get your act together?”
  • “You will always be fat so stop trying to be something you’re not.”
  • “You’re weak…you don’t matter…you aren’t capable…”

And the list goes on and on.

We would NEVER speak to another person with those words or that accusing tone but we have no qualms about being our own worst nightmare.  We would never put up with another person treating us in such a way. But if it’s coming from our own voice, in our own head, not only is it fine but we believe it to be true.

The Need for Self-Compassion

Two words have been cropping up over the past several years in counseling offices, in therapy books, and TED talks alike.  Those two words are SELF COMPASSION.  Most of us know how to be compassionate to others but are at a loss how to offer that same love to ourselves.  In the words of one of my favorite Natalie Grant songs, she says, “You can’t be free if you don’t reach for help and you can’t love, if you don’t love yourself,” and it is so very true.

Frequently, I am asked questions about:

  • Techniques for weight loss
  • How to stop overeating
  • Ways to have more energy
  • How to feel more confident in my own skin.

As a fitness trainer, I know the scientific solutions to these questions but without self-compassion, self-love and self-care, none of it works.Remember the 2 greatest commandments-

Remember that the two greatest commands are to love God and to love others.  Matthew 22 goes on to say that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Self-love and compassion is a commandment of God’s word. I think a lot of us have missed the mark on this one.

The body is the single most proficient machine ever created.  It is beyond the measure of intelligence and efficiency and comes with all the signs, signals, and tools we need to be fully alive and functional.  The problem is we have stopped listening.  So many louder voices speak over us that we are no longer in tune with our bodies’ demands, wants, and needs.

Getting Rid of the Brain Bully

What if we made a pact with ourselves to remove that harsh, critical voice in our heads, and to honor our bodies by listening to its messages?

The answers to all of those health and weight loss questions lie in this formula.

When my body says:

  • Rest–I will rest.
  • Eat–I will honor it with healthy, life-giving nutrition and I will stop eating when I am satisfied.
  • I am hurt–I will deal with the issue immediately whether physical or emotional.
  • I feel like crying–Cry.
  • I need a friend–Call one.

How opposite is this compared to the way most of us operate?  We tell ourselves we don’t have time to:

  • Eat breakfast.
  • Rest.
  • Deal with that hurt right now.
  • Connect with others.

We push and push and push and completely ignore the things our bodies are literally begging us for.

Some of us:

  • Make our bodies wait hours for nutrition.
  • Sleep as little as 3-4 hours a night.
  • Give so much to work that we miss out on the very things that make our lives meaningful.

We all struggle with these issues. However, we must find balance in order to avoid the consequences of an overworked, over-stressed, and physically exhausted lifestyle.

The body-spirit-mind connection is so strong.

The three are inseparable, so to honor one is to honor all.  If we take this challenge we will fall in line with God’s design for us both physically as well as emotionally.  We will kick the brain bully to the curb. We will treat ourselves with the same love and kindness we extend to those around us.

We are worth it and some of us have spent far too long believing otherwise!  Since God’s own son died for one and all, HE certainly believed you were worth it!

Are you ready to start kicking the brain bully to the curb?  

What changes will you start making today to live in line with God’s design for us?

Bearing with Each Other: The Other Side of Forgiveness

Bearing with Each Other: The Other Side of Forgiveness

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

“Forgive and forget.”

It sounds so easy. I don’t like conflict so forgiveness usually comes quickly for me, but oh, the forgetting–that is where I have a hard time. The sting of past offenses stay with me, and the enemy uses them to distract me and even bring out sin I am ashamed of.

About ten years ago, I found out something had been said about me and it crushed me. To make the situation even more difficult to walk away from, this was not a person I could avoid. Someone I was going to be around for a long time had said these hurtful things. Despite my hurt and disappointment, I knew I was going to have to live with this remark and move on. I knew I didn’t want to hold a grudge, so I decided to take the comment for what it was worth and forgive in my heart.

Don’t Let Hurtful Words Destroy

As I said, this person is a part of my life, and whom I love. I’ve had good times with this person as well. In fact, I’ve even grown a little as the comment has helped me. However, that doesn’t mean I’m without memory of what happened. To this day I cringe when the memory pops up. I often feel intimidated and insecure around this person, all because of that one comment made ten years ago. The enemy wants to stir up past wounds and put anger in our hearts. He is out to destroy our godly relationships with others and wreak chaos in God’s kingdom. We can’t let that happen. We must put into practice the instructions offered in Colossians:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.  

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How Can I Forgive?

I don’t believe I have to forget about my past grievances in order to forgive. I just need to be able to handle these hurts with:

  • compassion, as I seek to understand my offender’s point of view and situation;
  • kindness, as I choose to be respectful and pleasant despite how I’ve been treated;
  • humility, as I examine myself, and my own fault, realizing that I need Jesus to make me whole;
  • gentleness, as I respond to offenses, with my words, thoughts, and actions;
  • and patience, as I understand that this might happen again, and it might be difficult to move on.

When I read the phrase “Bear with each other,” it reminds me of ongoing struggles. It tells me there will be those who drive me crazy and might even upset me, but it’s not my right to hold a grudge. I’m to bear and forgive. I’m to live with it, and move on, realizing that the only perfect one is Christ.

Above all, I must remember to love. Strong’s Concordance defines this agape love as benevolent. It’s a love we give, not because it has been earned, not because we “feel” it, but because it is the right thing to do.

Bearing Each Other is Hard Labor

Learning how to move past my offenses in a godly way has been life-changing for me. I wish I could say that it’s easy, but “bearing each other” is hard labor. We should take the step of forgiveness, but we mustn’t forget that our relationship with that person isn’t over yet. The regard we hold each other in and the way we interact is important. We will likely feel the sting again, but we can move forward in love if we take on the characteristics described in Colossians 3. It is also helpful to remember that our enemy is Satan–not each other.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:12

We must move past the grievances we have toward one another so that God’s kingdom is made stronger. 

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Do You Have Unforgiven Past Hurts?

What past hurts are lingering in your heart? Are you open to bearing and forgiving? It sounds hard, but you don’t have to do this on your own. You have a Father who understands because he continues to lavish his children with perfect forgiveness and reconciliation. Our Lord can empower you to bear and forgive, offering you the support you need. Won’t you seek Him?

Father God, You are Lord of the universe, yet you seek us out, one by one, drawing us to you in perfect reconciliation. Thank you for the forgiveness and life you offer us through your son. Thank you for your presence in our life and may we draw strength from you as we seek to have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience in our relationships with others, bearing with each other and forgiving. Forgive us for the times we struggle to forgive and fail to take on these characteristics. Give us strength and wisdom to be united as your church in love. In Jesus Name, Amen

 

 

 

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