There is a wolf nipping at your soul

There is a wolf nipping at your soul

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Thoughts on Matthew 7:15-20

Beware of false prophets who appear as sheep, gentle and peaceable but on the inside are ravenous wolves, ready to devour to satisfy their hunger. Beware of those who claim to be forwarding the kingdom, but are in fact forwarding their own agenda.

Of course, the Spirit inspects my soul before looking outward. Oh, Lord, please keep me true. Let the me I present match the me that beats inside my heart and let it be authentic and honoring of your Lordship and the people you love.

Jacob presented himself as his brother in order to steal Esau’s blessing. Isaac was fooled. Barbara pretended to care about me to gather information she could use as power. I naively fell for it. I have offered concern for others as a means to accomplish my goal, forgive me and check me so I do not do this again.

inma-ibanez-24380 cherries.jpgYou have said “we will know them by their fruits.” A cherry tree only grows cherries. Some cherries are rotten, ruined by insect, weather or disease. My hope is to produce “cherries” in accordance with your law of love. My crop is not always bountiful and sometimes my cherries are rotten, tainted by pride, greed, fear. Some are immature, sour to the taste because they have not gathered the sweetness that develops as they remain connected to the tree.

Lord, be the master farmer who tends this cherry tree of yours. Guard me against external harm that would ruin my fruit, and against silent, but deadly disease that seeks to destroy the sweetness of your Spirit’s work. Offer through me life and sweetness.

And teach me to pay attention to the fruit other people’s ministry bears in my life. Does it promote a stronger connection to you? Does it increase the Spirit’s fruit in my heart? Does it move me to love others in word and deed? If so, blessings on that life-bringer. And let me share with them the gift they have given me. If not, grant me the grace to let them go without judgment. Thank you and amen.

Dear friend, learn from my example. Let me be your cherry tree, and let the Lord be the farmer who tends your fruit.

With you on the journey,

Debby

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What to do with people who voted differently than you.

Thoughts on Matthew 5:20-26

Hearing these words must have been discouraging for the crowd. How could they, ordinary folk who were busy living their lives be more righteous than the people whose whole existence was dedicated to religiosity? What? OK, I can manage not killing someone, but to never be angry? to never use my words to describe another’s flaws? to never label someone a fool? Such things are natural, normal, my right, not reasons for judgment and hell. (seriously, hell?)

But you state clearly your standard of righteousness. To be right before God, I must be right with my neighbor, even if they are wrong. I must do what I can to be at peace with the one who has a problem with me. This places unity and relationship above correctness. In this political climate of finger pointing and accusations how do we manage this?

Jesus doesn’t dismiss the differences between people, he doesn’t tell us to abandon our principles or our understanding of justice, he acknowledges there will be reasons to go to court, but he emphasizes the value of maintaining the relationship. “Make friends with your accuser,” he teaches. In Greek, the phrase translated make friends, means to “wish one well, to be be well disposed, of a peaceable spirit.” I am to desire my accusers well being; I am to approach him with my soul grounded in peace. This is possible because I know the only one who has a legitimate charge against me has made a way for us to be reconciled. God has made me, the one who has violated his law of love over and over again, to be at peace with him. How could I not offer the same peace to the one who I accuse or who accuses me?

Lord, whether we think Donald Trump is your gift or Satan’s tool, have mercy and teach your people the way of peace. Thank you and amen.

It all begins with the ASK

Thoughts on Matthew 7:7-12 and then a couple of questions for you.

In the midst of your discourse on life, you give assurance of answered prayer; ask, seek, knock.

Ask, given; seek, find; knock, opened. The parabolic father gives only good to his child, he would never harm the one he loves; the perfect Father will do so to an even greater degree.

Let’s start with the ask. This is where it begins, determining what I want or need. What do I want to ask of God? Or taken from a different angle, what is it that God wishes to give me and is waiting for me to ask it of him? Now that’s a good question.

I go back to the Psalm I read this morning (138:7,8) to see what exchange took place between you and David, what did he ask for? What did you give him? Strength of soul, preservation of his life in the midst of trouble, deliverance from his enemies, fulfillment of his purpose. Is this a model of what I should ask for? of what you want to give me?

All right, Lord, I’ll do the ask.

I call on you to be with me in this moment, let your presence astound me, assure and encourage me. You are with me, your strength is mine. Your Holy Spirit is the rebar in the foundation of my life. Thank you.

Let’s look at the trouble I walk through. First and foremost I thank you that the troubles I walk through are so minor; they are troubles of my soul, the texture of fine sand. Unchecked they could clog the machinery of my heart and need to be dealt with, but I have food, water, health, safety. So many of your loved ones don’t. My heart is grateful for your kindness toward me, and I pray that I will not forget the ones that need your kindness to be given them through me.

There is good news and bad news about the trouble I walk through. The bad news is that the troubles are not going away. The good news is you will keep me safe as I walk through them. My sand-y, gritty troubles revolve around choosing obedience and trust rather than indulging my appetite and consumerism. Face it Debby, these will always taunt you, tease you, lure you. Jesus you are the guardrails that boundary my day’s path, holding on to you as I walk will preserve my life. Thank you.

Some enemies, though, you intend to remove from the landscape of my soul, to deal with once and for all. Thank you for that deliverance – I have no fear of death, I am assured of love, I am a treasure you have redeemed, I am a arrow in your quiver. Thank you. I ask: continue this deliverance from the remaining enemies that populate my world.

I never read The Purpose Driven Life. My apologies to Rick Warren, I’m sure if I had read it I would have found it useful for the Kingdom’s sake. But I resisted it because I wanted a life driven by the Spirit, not by a purpose. I still want my life to be more consumed with being rather than doing, so my doing is born of my being. Yet your word suggests you have a purpose for me and you are determined to fulfill it.

I am compelled to ask, “What is your purpose for me?” Ah…you remind me of my mission statement. “I wake up every morning eager to hear your voice of love and then to share it with the world we so love through my writing, my words, my acts and my relationships.” This is the desire of my heart, given me from your heart. You will fulfill this purpose. Thank you.

Interesting, embedded in the asking, is the seeking and the action required of me to cooperate with grace. The good is given generously, is found by my seeking heart and empowered by trust and obedience.

Thank you and amen.

You know these thoughts come from my morning prayer journal. I hope they are helpful for you as you pursue God’s heart. Will you let the Spirit guide you in your prayer as I was: What do you ask of God, or better yet, what does God want you to ask? What are the troubles you walk through? From what has God delivered you? What purpose is God fulfilling in you today? It all begins with the Ask. 

With you on the journey,

Debby