heart issues

Being Less Judgmental and Loving Others

Matthew 15:16-20 (KJV)

16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:  20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

It is not what we do on the outside, like following a bunch of rules, that defiles us; instead it is what is coming out of our internal heart that brings defilement.  Have you ever mentored someone or been around someone that is very religious, a church goer and Bible scholar, but they have major heart issues?  Jesus gave a list of heart problems that described the Pharisees and Sadducees in detail: evil thoughts, murders, adultery, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.  When we have these in our heart, it becomes defiled.  It is not clean.  Even without realizing it, we can quickly become like the Pharisees, asking questions out of a critical spirit instead of a teachable position.

Many times, these questions are rooted in finding a way to express one’s disdain for the listener or teacher GOD has placed in your life.  It is like saying, You want to teach me, but are you really qualified?  What about this rule or Scripture in the Bible that you and your disciples have failed to follow?  How can you teach me anything?  The Pharisees and religious rulers of Jesus day were so angry with Jesus because when He taught His words cut to the heart of the matter.  Jesus was able to see right through their fancy show of religion and get to the nastiness in their soul life.  He then began to share about how this was not pleasing to GOD.

Instead of changing, the religious leaders tried to play the blame game.  If they could get Jesus to look bad because He didn’t follow every command in the Old Testament, then they could justify not listening to anything He had to say.  But once again, Jesus had a ready response for their accusation.  He told them where they were falling short of following the Scriptures due to their tradition.  Then He taught His disciples on what it’s really about- matters if the heart, not actions.

It is easy to get so focused on following rules that we can become self righteous hypocrites, no longer really glorifying GOD with a loving heart towards others and looking down on those who do not carry our traditions.  But we must be honest with ourselves; all of us have sinned and are still falling short in some area.  It is easy to point out the obvious overt sins in a neighbor’s life such as lying, cursing, fornication or getting drunk.  But it is harder to realize that the worse position to be in is having a defiled, hateful, unforgiving heart, pridefully accusing those who are growing in GOD at their own pace.  This is why we must pray the prayer of David, asking the LORD to refocus our attention on the internal and show us our hearts.

Scripture for Meditation:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV)

Prayer:  Father, please forgive me for accusing others and pointing out their sins before I have taken the time to examine my own heart.  I ask You today to cleanse me of a judgmental heart and help me to love others passionately, as You do; I know I cannot do this in my own strength and need Your help to become a stronger Christian.  You know my heart.  You know my thoughts.  And You know where I am seeking out faults in others because I do not want to face my own imperfections.  This may make me feel stronger and less insecure but I want to rely on Your strength in the midst of my weaknesses.  Lead me into the way everlasting and remove me from any wicked way in me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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How does GOD respond when we turn our back on Him?

Jeremiah 3:19-20

“I planned what I’d say if you returned to me: ‘Good!  I’ll bring you back into the family, I’ll give you choice land, land that the godless nations would die for.’  And I imagined that you would say, ‘Dear father!’ and would never again go off and leave me.  But no luck.  Like a false-hearted woman walking out on her husband, you, the whole family of Israel, have proven false to me.”  GOD’s Decree.

Have you ever had something or someone you couldn’t wait for; you knew the moment was coming, had faith it would swell your heart with joy and were waiting with anticipation?  That’s the sense of emotion I get when reading this passage.  Although both Israel and Judah had backslidden from GOD, not even taking the time to acknowledge Him, but GOD was committed to the relationship and had already premeditate His response when Israel returned.

He was filled with excitement about the day they chose to come back home.  He already had a plan of what He would say.  It would not be a reminder of all they had done wrong or condemning words of disapproval.  Instead, He would lovingly embrace them as a Father and a Husband.  He would run up to them with eyes of wonder and joy, catching them in His hands, twirling them around in delight.  Like a movie when a beautiful bride awaits her husband’s return from war. She prepares herself for The Moment.  Dressed in her finest apparel, not a ringlet of hair out of place, she stands waiting for the grand entry.  She looks around seeing children reunited with their father, husbands reuntied with wives and old friends hugging one another knowingly,  The sound of the train and breeze whisps around her heart, causing even more feelings of exhilaration.  And here He is, her Prince Charming, fully suited in garbs of honor.

She runs to him in delight.  This is her moment of nothing but sheer acceptance and approval.  The world seems to stop and life becomes perfection in the arms of love.  This moment would be forever sketched in her mind: the day she got her love back from a potentially eternal split.

GOD is awaiting the return of His Bride in full apparel, ready to see Him.  And as we, His Spiritual Israel or Judah, leave it all behind (the false lovers and idol gods); we realize we couldn’t have had it better all along!  We are blessed.

Have you experienced A Moment with GOD you will never forget?  Or perhaps you are ready to let it all go and finally rest in His Loving Embrace.  He has already planned what He will say when you return.  In fact, every time you fall, He is there to lovingly catch you with a warm smile on His face and a Father’s loving heart.

A Recent Moment with my Wonderful Husband:

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Why You Don’t Finish What You Start and How to Overcome

Ephesians 4:1-3 (MSG)

In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do.  While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk- better yet, run!- on the road GOD called you to travel.  I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere.  And mark that you do this with humility and discipline- not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

Have you ever started something only to find yourself not finishing it?  This is a lesson it took me a long time to learn and I am still learning.  You get all excited, ready to go, you are focused and have a set goal in mind (especially at times like the beginning of the new year).  But you soon find yourself tapering off of your original goal.  Many times we (myself included) are full of zeal and great intentions, but we have forgotten to mix zeal with humility and discipline.  There’s an old saying my college track and field coach used to have in her office, “Slow and Steady Wins the Race”.  Next to the saying there was a picture of a little turtle taking it’s time to finish the race.

When it comes to cross country and long distance running, this principle definitely has it’s place.  When it comes to life, it is also very applicable.  We want to be runners, not jumpers- jumping from focus to focus, assignment to assignment, excitement to excitement…but never finishing what we start because we see a new opportunity in front of our eyes.  Our eyes begin to swell with vision but a few months later it will all be soon forgotten.  This is a cycle that can be broken with a small dosage of humility and discipline.  And mark that you do this with humility and discipline- not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love…

As we grow in GOD, we realize that we need to pace ourselves.  I’ve been in many long distance races where I’ve beat another runner simply due to endurance.  The inexperienced runner thinks they will win the race through starting out really fast, full of zeal.  But the experience runner allows them to go ahead and burn themselves out.  She knows that it’s only a matter of time before that person will slow down or completely stop.  The newby has the right goal in mind (to run as hard and as fast as possible) but her plan of execution is lacking.  She didn’t think about strategy and how long she will be able to continue at this pace.

Many times, I was able to be successful running because I was coached to know myself- know my limitations, know how much gas I have left in my tank.  My flesh wanted to just get it over quickly, pass through the process, the painful part.  But this is not possible when you have three, ten or fifteen miles ahead of you.  You win by getting into a rhythm and focusing on keeping that rhythm.  You are ultimately racing against yourself.

So the next time I get faced with another grand idea of how I am going to save the world, I must stop, write the vision, make it plain and begin to plan how this is possible based on the current priorities in my life.  Then I began to pray about timing and how to gradually execute this vision.

No more fits and starts!  But steadily, we will pour ourselves out for each other in acts of love.  This is just as valuable as the heroic, zealous moment of love.  We must convince ourselves that even in the mundane, just like that little turtle we are going to slowly win the race.

Our Prayer:

Lord Jesus, we pray that you will help us to understand the value of endurance.  We are not as much as interested in passion and zeal as commitment and discipline.  Mix our passion with a renewed sense of discipline.  Help us to pace ourselves.  Sometimes we get so excited that we want to take everything on at once, but we must remember the times we’ve done that in the past and soon lost our focus.  Let this be a year of slow and steady progress, remembering our resolutions and commitments to you.  We are in it for the long haul and we want our love for others to be poured out gradually, consistently.  This is what the world longs for out of the church; this is what we need from one another.  Use our gifts and elevate us in our callings.  In Your Precious Name we pray.  Amen.

Have you ever burned yourself out trying to run the right race too quick?  I encourage you to take a step of faith- share your story with others and be an encouragement.  Or maybe you’re realizing that you’re about to bite off more than you can chew.  We’ve all been there before!  If you’d like to write a prayer requests, feel free to do so below and we will pray for one another…

Blessings!

Jade Lee

Overcome Abandonment and Find Acceptance

Abandonment

March 1, 2015

They still didn’t get it, didn’t realize that He was referring to the Father.  So Jesus tried again.  “When you raise up the Son of Man, then you will know who I am–that I’m not making this up, but speaking only what the Father taught me.  The One who sent me stays with me.  He doesn’t abandon me.  He sees how much joy I take in pleasing Him.”

John 8:27-29 (MSG)

I am not abandoned.  I love how the Message uses the word “abandon” to describe Jesus’ message.  He was being accused, hated and mocked but He felt accepted.  He knew He was accepted.  He believed He was accepted so He felt accepted.  When I go through feelings of abandonment it is because I feel deeply alone.  I am looking at my natural situation.  No one else is there with me, so I must be alone.  This recently happened when I was recovering from sickness and my husband began to walk away from me in the grocery store.  I said, “Why are you leaving me?”

This may seem extreme until you know another fact- I could barely walk.  My knees were swollen and in great pain.  It seemed impossible to take another step to the bathroom door and I had to go terribly.  In that moment I wanted him to take my arm and help me walk.  But he was walking ahead of me to try to show me the restroom.  Had he really left me?  Not at all.  He was right there with me; this was simply a distorted perception in a moment of weakness.

I believe we do the same to GOD sometimes.  Because we can’t feel Him with us we forget He is there, especially when we am in discomfort or pain.  But He is a very present help in the time of need.  He is always there and He has not abandoned us.  The One who sent me stays with me.  He doesn’t abandon me.  He sees how much joy I take in pleasing Him.

May this become our reality in the midst of difficulty.  When the winds and waves begin to blow, when people reject us left and right, when we want to quit because we do not feel accepted nor appreciated.  Discouragement can begin to creep into our lives simply because we do not stay in the place of truth.  It is when we are fully armored with the Armor of GOD (Ephesians 6:10-20) that we are able to overcome feelings of rejection with ease.  But this reality comes through a constant mind renewal.

It is so important for us to take time daily to meditate on the truth, especially when going through a difficult season.  And we all find so quickly that it is not enough to do this one time and then never come back to it again; the belt of truth must guard our emotions daily.  This is a part of the Armor of GOD and it protects our waist.  Our waist covers some of the most vital and sensitive organs in our body.  These organs represent our sensitivity as humans – our emotions.

Abandonment is a heavy emotion, a strong feeling of aloneness and rejection by others, but the truth is that we are never alone as Christians.  In fact, there are promises in the Bible that our GOD will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).  This is truth no matter what is going on or how we feel.  Our GOD is a very present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).  He also encourages us not to be afraid or terrified because of them because He goes with us (Deuteronomy 31:6).  We have to remember that no matter what others say or do to us, the LORD is with us. The fear of being alone, being hurt and having no solution can then begin to fade away into the distance as we visualize our Heavenly Father taking us into His arms, crying with us, singing songs of deliverance over us until we are comforted.

Do you need reassurance today that GOD is with you and you are not an abandoned child?

Pray this prayer with me:

LORD, please lay a foundation of acceptance in my life.  Let it go deep in my heart- Your acceptance for me as a daughter.  Let me feel Your presence over me and Your presence with me.  I know You will never leave me nor forsake me.  I want to please You and this brings You great JOY!  Thank you Jesus for granting me great faith.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.
Scripture for Meditation:
Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you.  He will be with you; He will never fail you nor abandon you.
Have you ever felt abandoned?  Do you need prayer?  Share your comments and prayer requests below then consider taking the time to pray for someone else’s requests.  And remember, none of us are ever alone!
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Finding Strength While Overcoming Grief

Free Image12GRIEF…That 5 Letter Word we would all rather forget exists, but it’s real.  It’s hard to believe that it should be a part of our lives because it seems like the remainder of the world gets over hardship oh so easily.  Work continues, Motherhood goes on, Being a Wife resumes and somehow everyone is happily moving on like the dark cloud you feel doesn’t exist.  It becomes problematic as we tune into the world of Social Media, where everyone’s Facebook page is full of happily behaved children, smiling faces and beautiful selfies.  But this is simply not always reality.

Grief can hit us like a ton of bricks at the most unexpected, inopportune times; it is important to know we are not alone in this hidden process.  It may be uncomfortable to talk about when a loved one dies, we lose a relationship we deeply valued or our health suddenly declines, but all of these losses are real.  In the year 2014, I went through a few types of grief, one being the loss of our Senior Pastor, who was also like a Grandfather or mentor in our lives.  It would become soon apparent that grief was a process, not a one time event.  And it would take time to heal.  Back to back events began to occur in our lives and we were in the midst of a mini Job-like experience.

During this time of grief, it was an opportunity to get closer to one another (as husband and wife) but also to evaluate the people we needed in various areas of our life.  Looking back, grief pressed us into deeper relationship with one another.  Grief opened the door to new relationships we didn’t know we needed.  And grief helped us to see how to reevaluate the way we were relating to the current people in our lives.

Although this process is very painful and may not be the talk we want to have at the dinner table every night, finding the right person to talk to is very important as we heal from the wounds of deep loss.

Remember, even Jesus wept.  He went through grief as one of His closest friends lay lifeless in a grave.

Have you ever been through Grief?  If so, how did you endure through it and experience the healing needed to finally continue on with your life?  Do you have words of encouragement for someone else who may be experiencing a similar difficulty?  Please share them in the comments section below.

In His Love,

Jade Lee

Scripture for Meditation:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18  “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

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Finding Comfort in the Midst of Pain

Comfort in the Midst of Pain
January 4, 2015
imageThere are times when you do everything to help another person as a parent, a friend, a pastor or a sibling, yet you find yourself feeling ‘hated without a cause’. Throughout the last 12 years of ministry this has definitely occurred in my personal life. Although I have not done everything right by any stretch of the imagination, ministry has a way of brusing you up a bit and not always giving you the turn out you would expect to come with helping others…I have seen the same response to parenting. Parents provide their children with a comfortable house, heat, air, food, water, clothing and love. But at a certain age, children become teenagers, then adults. The appreciation expected is not always seen in these maturing youth. Instead, an attitude of a lack of gratitude and wanting to leave you abandoned may be all you see in response.

This is a very hurtful process for a parent, caregiver or leader who has given all of their resources to help you. But Jesus went through the same experience with almost every one of His disciples. He then warned us that we would be persecuted and ‘hated without a cause’ just like Him, for following His actions. It is encouraging to know that this is a natural process we must go through as His followers and that there is a template already in place as we press through the unchartered, stormy waters of life. No one wants to be ‘hated without a cause’ but it is possible to learn how to endure through pain with a Godly outlook.

In John 15, Jesus teaches us this principle through the pain of persecution from the world, knowing He would soon be left my His closest ‘friends.’ In this moment He thinks of how He can use this painful situation as a relatability reference to others, teaching us how to go through difficulty in our current relationships. He teaches us to:

1. Abide in His love. When others harm us, stay focused on His love and live in His love. (Jn 15:10)
2. Be filled by His joy. As you remain in His love, joy will fill your heart. (Jn 15:11)
3. Lay down your life for your friends. Don’t give up sacrificing and being there for others, even when it may hurt at times. This is the greatest form of love. (Jn 15:13)
4. Know that you are not alone. The world hated Jesus and people may not like you at times. Jesus went through more pain than any of us could imagine. He understands. (Jn 15:18-20)
5. Rely on the coming Comforter. The Holy Spirit will come and Comfort your heart in the midst of pain. (Jn 15:26)

Let our hearts be Comforted as we know that we are doing a noble cause in continuing to lay down our lives for the one’s we love most, even if that involves an uncomfortable cost. It’s worth it to show the Love of Christ.

Has there ever been a time you’ve been required to continue in His love or lay down your life for a friend? Please encourage one another and share words of comfort below for others going through a similar trial.

Scripture for Meditation: And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17, NLT Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23, NLT

Blessings!

Jade Lee