Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bowels of Kindness

In the aftermath of hurricane Irma, we noticed that the damage and destruction caused to so many families was far greater than we anticipated. There are still thousands without electricity and so many without homes; being stripped of all their possessions and most basic necessities. But what has struck me more than the terrible loss in these communities hard hit by the hurricane’s onslaught, is the overwhelming kindness and generosity of people who have sprung up from everywhere to help.


From such a terrible catastrophe, has come the most beautiful acts of kindness. It has really touched my heart to see the goodness people have in their hearts for others, even strangers, that have had their worlds turned upside down.


This made me think of Colossians 3:12 that’s says, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering...”


One translation actually says we are to put on “bowels of mercies, kindness,...” 


What an unusual way to describe the way we are to display these beautiful characteristics. “BOWELS of....”. Well, according to the Greek translation of this phrase, it actually refers to someone being stirred with deep feelings of compassion from deep within their spirit. So much so that they feel they must immediately respond to the conviction of their hearts through words and actions.


The wonderful part of this is that as we respond to others with this kind of truly, heartfelt kindness, the Holy Spirit simultaneously works through us. Through us, He reaches out and makes a spiritual deposit into the lives of those who are suffering and find themselves on the receiving end of our tender words and gracious acts.


When we heard of the devastation hurricane Irma brought to communities right next to ours, it was very easy to find people in the process of reaching out to help. They were setting up teams of volunteers to collect supplies, linen, clothes and anything else to provide some sort of relief to the families affected. So the children and I jumped into action and joined in, adding as much as we were able to the loads of relief goods, ready to be taken and distributed. Before we left our contribution, we prayed over it, thanking the Lord for the opportunity we had to give something of ourselves to help those who desperately needed it. We prayed that it would be a blessing to them and bring them hope and comfort, even joy, and that somehow, through it all, they would see His hand of love and provision in it.  


I really do believe, that when we respond to the stirring of compassion in our hearts for others, the Holy Spirit Himself is using us as His vessels of love to reach out to others. That’s why it’s so important to not ignore or suppress those deep feelings that urge us to take action and help, and to act immediately. Too often, when we don’t do something right away, we fall prey of reasoning ourselves out of being the blessing God intended for us to be. How tragic to lose the opportunity to be His representative to others who need to feel His love and goodness in their lives.


We don’t need to wait for a disaster to act in kindness either. Paul said we are to put on these wonderful qualities because we are God’s representatives. We can ask Him every day to show us how we can touch people’s lives through His goodness and mercy. What a wonderful way to live.  


Won’t you join me in putting on “bowels of mercies, kindness, humility, meekness and long-suffering...” each day, to see God’s love being demonstrated through us.


Much love,


Jenny

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Picking up the Pieces

Hello everyone!

Last week this time, my family and I were bunkered up in a place of safety, witnessing the most ferocious storm we have ever encountered.  Marco Island, Florida received a direct hit from category four, hurricane Irma, on Sunday September 10th.  We endured winds that were recorded at a constant 146 mph (234 km/h) and peaked to gusts of 175 mph (283 km/h).  We were warned of a predicted sea surge of up to 15 feet, which would render the entire island under water.  But by the mercy of God and fervent prayer, the sea surge only rose up to 7 feet, keeping us safe and free from flooding. 

Even though the office building and our home did suffer some roof damage and needed some structural repair, no harm came to any of us, our equipment or our belongings.  Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!  

This week has been very tough for everyone on the island and up and down the coastal areas surrounding us.  So many people lost everything.  Many are still without any power or internet and telephone communication.  Our power only came on yesterday, so we had seven consecutive days without it in very hot temperatures of well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  The smell of rotting debris and clogged sewer and water pipes has been overwhelming.  We spent every day picking up debris, broken pieces of metal and roof tiles, broken off tree limbs and remnants of what was once some part of someone's home.  We saw the bewildered look on people's faces as they looked over their properties, wondering where to begin the clean up process.  We were able to lend a hand with chopping down fallen trees into potions that could be moved away from people's homes.  Everyone was faced with having to sort through the damage and destruction of Irma's fury.  We were all left to pick up the pieces together.  Can you believe that that alone offered some sort of comfort?  The fact that we were all in it together offered a comradeship that brought hope and joy.

Praise the Lord for His goodness and mercy and His mighty hand of protection and provision!  We are living examples of His faithfulness!  

I have to say, this experience shook my very foundation.  It reminded me of what is of actual value in this life, and how easily my comfort and security can be based on things, rather than the security I have in knowing and experiencing the person of God Himself.  

To be honest, there were moments I had to fight off fear with all my might.   I wish I had been more like Paul, who took all his life threatening experiences and their 'could be' consequences with such confident ease and rock solid assurance.  I have come to understand more clearly something the minister at our little local church preached this morning; that our peace of mind and sanity are directly related to the deep seated trust we have in the Lord alone.

I spent some time reading Isaiah 26:3 in the Amplified version.  It says, You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”

In the original Greek, this verse implies that when we choose to fix our thoughts on the Lord, to the extent that the character and inclination of our minds is to constantly trust in Him; we will know the perfect peace of God.  Can you imagine being at the point where no matter what comes your way, the natural inclination of your mind is not to fret or worry, or react in fear, but to calmly be at peace as you confidently trust in the Lord to take care of you and all that concerns you, no matter what?

Well, I'm certainly a work in progress in that regard and am forever grateful to the Lord for His loving patience and grace to gently lead me into that place of constant, perfect peace in Him.

I pray that if you haven't already come to that place, you too will join me in the journey of  learning how to live hidden and secure in the shelter of His wings.

Love you dearly,

Jenny



Saturday, September 9, 2017

In the Face of the Storm

Hello everyone,

It is Saturday afternoon, September 9th.  Normally I would have my letter done and dusted and ready for publishing by now.  Ready to send to all of you Sunday night for you to receive on Monday morning.

The thing is, this week my family and I have been preparing for hurricane Irma’s predicted landfall on the State of Florida.  While we were preparing, we were keeping an eye on the local weather channel, watching for the predicted time of impact, wind strengths, sea surge levels and all the terrifying things that come with a level 5 hurricane, and all the devastation Irma has already left in her wake.

To be honest, out of everyone in the family, I have been the one to panic the most.  Yikes, you would think someone who loves to study the Word and fill her heart with faith, my self control over my anxious thoughts would be far better.  Well, when I heard Irma was making her direct hit  where we live, and imagined those wind gusts of 150 mph (250 km/hr.),  I couldn't help but wonder if my roof would withstand her strength, or if my house would be flooded by the 15 foot (4.5m) sea surge.  I found myself fighting for peace with every ounce of my being.

With all the preparations done that are humanly possible, we left our home this morning and are camping in our office suite on the 3rd floor of an office complex.  The building structure was built to code to withstand a level 5 hurricane.  It's brick and concrete, with concrete floors for each level and a concrete roof.  We are also high enough up to be safe from sea surge.  The windows aren't barred over with hurricane shutters because they are hurricane proof.  Which means I can sit and watch the weather outside without having to guess behind noisy, pounding metal shutters.

We have watched the weather deteriorate through the day, and have been told to expect tropical storm conditions through the night before Irma makes her arrival tomorrow morning.  We are told she will hang around in all her hurricane furry until Monday morning, when the sea surge is predicted to flood in.  This means hunkering down for 24 hrs of non stop hurricane force winds and rain.  We were warned that there will be no power or running water for a while.  So we have stocked up with flash lights and candles.  We have three large black trash cans (dustbins), filled with water to flush our toilets and wash our dishes and ourselves.  We have gallons of drinking water and non perishable food to last a couple of days.  What more can we do now, except wait and watch the storm out.  So as I'm watching the enormous clouds rolling in and around the eerie grey skies, and the tall palm trees bending under the gusting winds; I'm thinking of all those people across the state who are not in a strong, sturdy structure, or who have not yet found higher ground to escape the sea surge.  And as much as I'm praying for the safety of my family and home, I am praying for their survival too.  Don't get me wrong, I have stood my ground in faith more times than I can remember, and declared the promises of God over the state.  I've spoken directly to the elements, rebuking and declaring Irma to dissipate in the name of Jesus.  And I will continue to do so, as I know so many others  will and are right now.

Since there will be no way for me to send this letter to you on Sunday night, I'm sending it now, before we brace for the storm.  Thank you for your prayers.  I have no doubt that we are safely in the hand of the Lord  and that by next week’s letter I will have a testimony to share with you.

Love you all,

Jenny




Sunday, September 3, 2017

Build Yourself Up!


What do you need in your life right now?  I have no doubt the moment that question registers in your mind, there are at least a dozen things you can think of, on the spot.  

Regardless of what our immediate needs are, and there will always be things we need in order to accomplish what is necessary to get the job done; there is something that will always take precedence over them.  It's called character.  If we want to be successful at anything in life, character that is strong enough to withstand the demands and pressures is essential.  With the right character, not only will we find a way to see needs met, we are able to keep a clear, steadfast resolve to continually push forward and reach every goal, no matter the opposition to attain it.  

We all experience days where we are tempted to give up. But even giving up doesn't ease the situation we are facing.  No matter how you may be feeling about yourself right now, or the mountain that seems to be looming in front of you, if you are a born-again child of God, you have everything you will ever need to see God’s character developed in your life.  Even when you feel you have done everything humanly possible to make things work, and you have no control over the outcome, there is something you can do.  You can build your spirit up and strengthen it till it dominates your flesh. That's because the Spirit of the living God resides in you.  His very nature is already in your spirit.  You also have the written Word of God that produces the force of faith by which God’s character and nature is developed inside us.  Go after developing His character in you, and every one of your needs will continuously be met.  That's because you will have the attitude and ability to hear His wisdom and the courageous faith to implement it, even when the desired result seems impossible.

2 Peter 1:8-11 speaks about God’s character being developed inside us.  The Bible refers to His nature and character as the fruit of the Spirit.  Many believers understand the fruit of the Spirit to be nothing more than pleasant qualities that improve our personalities.  They believe that these qualities make us nicer people, and not much more than that.  The truth is, the fruit of the Spirit should be referred to as PURE SUPERNATURAL POWER!    Scripture teaches us that as they abound in us, they will keep us from being idle or unfruitful.  That means, the more the character of God influences and dominates us, we will always have OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE of God’s power being at work in and through us!

I once read something Gloria Copeland wrote on the fruit of the Spirit, and  found it to be exactly what God’s Word says about it.  The fruit of the Spirit is so strong that once we have it abounding and flowing out of us, all the demons in hell cant stop it.  It has the power to correct every problem in our lives.  It will keep us steadfast when others around us are falling down or caving under pressure.  It will keep us above water and rooted on our feet when systems fail and the storms of life come.  There is only one way we can make it through to victory, again and again, and that is through the character of God being developed and made strong in us.

The last part of 2 Peter 1:4 says that we must become partakers of the divine nature.  That means we must be actively involved to see God’s nature and character abound in us.  Verse 8 & 9 tell us why, “For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)...”

How do we build ourselves up in the Spirit?  Romans 8:26 says, “So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.”.  Praying in the spirit, by the Holy Spirit causes your spirit to rise up in the power of God and flow in and through you.  It strengthens you and gives you fresh hope and perspective.  Jude 1:20 says that as we pray in the Spirit, we build ourselves up, on our most holy faith.  The Amplified version says, “… [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 8:28 declares that God Himself is our partner in life.  Everything we need to be supernaturally strengthened and equipped to overcome is already inside of us.  As we yield to His Spirit inside of us, praying in the Spirit, we will build ourselves up in His supernatural power, and as He reminds us of His promises, we wield the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God), and declare His truth over our lives.  No matter how hopeless your circumstances seems, these are the things you can do! So build yourself up today!

All my love,

Jenny



Friday, August 25, 2017

Too Spiritually Minded to be any Earthly Good

You may have heard the phrase,“Too spiritually minded to be of any earthly good” before.  It's normally reserved for people who appear to be spiritual by always having a scripture, or great faith confession roll out of their mouths.  Nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that even though their words sound right, there is no actual faith backing them at all.  They're just mimicking what they've heard someone else say.  So when it comes down to the challenges of every day life, or even a crisis, they have absolutely nothing of real value to offer.  Instead of standing their ground in faith, they tend to draw back in fear, or turn their back on their walk of faith, saying it just doesn't work for them.  It's as if all their spirituality resorts to ‘smoke and mirrors’, nothing more than an illusion, when the time of real testing arrives.

In the book of Hebrews 10:23, it says, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”  

The Greek translation for the word profession, initially means to say the same thing.  However, when we take a deeper look at its meaning, it conveys a stronger message than just copying or mimicking words.  It actually means to be in agreement with them to the point where they become your point of view.  And the more you hold onto them, they become the conviction of your own heart.  

I really love the way Rick Renner, in His book Sparkling Gems, describes the translation of the word profession.  He says it's when someone becomes aligned in their thinking and believing not only of the words, but of the one who wrote or spoke them.

So in light of Hebrews 10:23, we get the idea that we are expected to come into agreement with God when we take His Words into our hearts.  But it doesn't just stop there, we actually believe them, and make them our own conviction.  Then, when we speak those words that have become so real to us, we hold tightly to what we confess, and refuse to allow anything to distract us from that conviction.

Doesn't that sound just like the process by which FAITH is produced inside of us?  Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”. The Word of God that becomes that real to us, where we refuse to doubt it, is the Word the Lord has promised to fulfil in our lives (James 1:6; Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24).

What I have found most interesting, is that we only really live in the reality of the Word that we have made ours.  

Just reading and memorising scripture doesn't necessarily mean we have a revelation of it.  In fact, the devil himself can recite every scripture but will never receive the life and light it has to offer.  The Holy Spirit within us makes God’s Word alive and real to us when we choose to meditate on it and make it our own.  Psalm 1 is a brilliant example of how this revelation knowledge produces the fruit (evidence) and benefit of God's truth in our lives. So much so, that no matter what pressure or challenge comes against us, that Word that has become the conviction of our hearts, will not only sustain us, but cause us to flourish and prosper in the midst of adversity.

Faith to receive the manifest reality of God’s Word in our lives comes by the Person of the Holy Spirit revealing its truth into our spirits.  It's beyond natural reasoning and mimicking words.  Truth that is spiritually discerned, becomes our confession (1Corinthians 2:14).  It’s supernatural quality causes us to stand strong and true in the face of trouble, patiently waiting, without wavering, until God’s promise becomes our reality in the natural.

I have never know someone who has held fast to the profession of their faith being labelled, “Too spiritually minded to be any earthly good”.  Instead, they have become a living testimony of the faithfulness, goodness and mercy of God, in the face of challenges and trials.  

This is how God’s Word becomes a powerful force in our lives, something, with all my heart, I desire and aspire to consistently experience.  I must confess, I'm still a work in progress concerning this.  Hopefully you will be inspired to join me along this exciting journey.

All my love,

Jenny






Sunday, August 20, 2017

Does God make bad things happen?

“Bad things happen to good people.”  Words I've often heard spoken, and even experienced myself.  Sadly, it's the reality of those words that have caused many Christians to ‘throw in the towel’ on their faith in God.  Then join the thousands who decide to not ‘believe’ in a God who allows horrid , unthinkable evils to befall the innocent and those unable to defend themselves, let alone His own children.

In John 17, the Bible tells us we live in a fallen world.  A world that is corrupt and evil and subject to decay.  Many Christians believe that as long as they live in this world, they have no option but to suffer along with it.  They must share in disease, defeat, poverty and failure, along with those around them. They've even accepted this by believing their misfortune is God's way of teaching them a lesson in humility, a way of catching their attention so they can be more devoted to Him, a way to make them love and trust Him more.  

We know that in Old Testament times, because of the original sin, the curse called the law of sin and death, was instated.  If God’s people didn't conform to the law, and all it's obligations and rituals, they would find themselves out of His protection and favour. The Bible says that to perfectly conform to the law was actually impossible. That's why sacrifices for the atonement of sin had to be consistently made.  This rigorous, lawful ‘relationship’ between God and His people was never His intention. Time and again, He attempted to convince them to love and respond to Him out of personal desire and not fear.  But the law of sin and death made this an almost impossible reality. Even those who did choose to love Him and respond to His kindness couldn't live flawless lives, and because of the law, had to suffer the consequences.  When God’s people abandoned His ways and sought after their own, or the ways of neighbouring pagan nations, the only thing that brought them back to Him was the consequence of the curse, often in the form of calamity and devastation.  Their ‘salvation’ was based on works, and under the curse, punishment for their wandering ways was the only way to bring them back to it.

But thank God for Jesus!  According to the Word of God, in Him we have a new covenant!  We are no longer subject to the curse and its law of sin and death.  Now it's by grace, through faith that we are saved.  His blood completely eradicated our sin, when He bore it on the cross.  He suffered the punishment for it, once and for all.  Now we are free to embrace His forgiveness and enjoy a relationship with Him based on His great love.  It's  His kindness towards us that leads us to repentance.  Our devotion to God is no longer motivated out of fear, it's motivated out of knowing that He loves us unconditionally.  And from the moment His Spirit takes residence in us, His incorruptible nature becomes ours.  As we remain in His Word and intimate fellowship with Him, our hearts are constantly drawn to His ways and we willingly cling to them because of His goodness and faithfulness towards us.  We adore Him and worship Him because of His loving kindness that is better than life and His tender mercies that are new every morning.  We worship Him because His Word is true and every promise in it is available for us to enjoy and live free and healthy and victorious in a world that is not.    

You see, health, prosperity, success and victory in this life are all God's ideas.  They are His purpose for us.  You will find them written in each of His promises.  It is true, that while we live in this world that is riddled with evil, we are certainly going to encounter it. But evil things, calamity and devastation are not manipulated by God to teach us a lesson or compel us to come back to Him.  Even though for some people, hardships may just have that affect on them, under the new covenant, we can be sure God did not cause them.  Jesus said in John 16:33, "...In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration;..". But then He goes on to say, "but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]"

How is it possible for us to live in the reality of that promise - as over comers in this evil world?  Oh I'm so pleased you asked that question.  In John 17, Jesus has this very same conversation with His Father, and in verse 17, He asks the Father to sanctify us (purify, consecrate, separate us for Himself, make us holy) BY THE TRUTH.  God's Word is Truth.  We are separated to God, from the evils in this world through the Word of  truth! 

In the Old covenant, God’s people were separated to Him by having to fulfil the law and suffer under its consequences.  In the New covenant, we are separated to Him by His Word that is written, by Him, on our hearts.

God's Word, alive in our hearts, produces FAITH and makes the promises of God our reality, while we live right here, in the midst of chaos and mess!  As God's Word becomes our living reality, it takes us from trouble to triumph every time!  Even when bad, horrible things happen - because we live in a world that is dominated by sin - we do have a God who will ALWAYS lead us through, like a good shepherd, into victory and peace. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, "But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere,"

1 John 5:4 says, "For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith."  It's time for us to realise who we are in this world and Who our God is.  He  does not cause bad things to happen to us to draw us to Him. Bad things happen because we live in a world that is cursed.  But Jesus overcame that evil for us.  We are victorious because we are born of God, and our victory comes through our faith that is produced by His Word that we live by.  His Word that is alive in our hearts!  Don't settle for anything less child of God!  Live like Jesus intended for you to live - free from fear and victorious over evil.  Even though you are in this world, no matter what it throws against you, the Spirit of Christ lives within you, and you have faith from His Word, to overcome - every time.

All my love,

Jenny





Sunday, August 13, 2017

We Are Rich!

Hello everyone,

Today, There is a particular phrase that is tugging at my heart and inspiring me to ‘dig a little deeper’ into the treasure chest of God’s Word: “God’s truth revealed to our hearts enriches us!”   Take a moment to dwell on that truth and let it sink into your heart.  

The scripture that immediately comes to my mind is Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

According to the dictionary, the word richly means, elaborate, generous and plentiful.  So, when we allow the Word of God to dwell in our hearts in a plentiful, elaborate and generous way, we can expect it to affect our lives in the same manor.  Wisdom, guidance, instruction, peace, grace, inner strength, spontaneous joyful singing, faith, encouragement for our own hearts and others; these are just a few of many wonderful attributes the Word enriches our lives with.

In fact, in Ephesians 1:18, we see exactly how God’s truth revealed to our hearts enriches us.  It says: "By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),.."

The revelation we receive from the Spirit of God, when we gratefully and expectantly, embrace His written Word, is like a powerful light that floods the eyes of our hearts, showing us something we never saw before, even though it was already there.

The Bible teaches us that a born-again spirit is fully filled and flooded with God Himself. The Spirit of God without measure is living inside of us. I love this concept.   There is a never ending supply of spiritual wealth we can receive from the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, every time we lavishly indulge ourselves in it (give it our full attention).  1 Corinthians 2:11 says, “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
To say the full, limitless measure of the Spirit of Christ is living inside of me, is something I have thought about long and hard (Ephesians 1:23; 2:5). I don't necessarily imagine the Spirit of God crammed up inside my spirit, unable to move, like an oversized genie, taking up every available space in a bottle. However, I do believe that He does fill every part of the place my spirit is contained in my earthly vessel - free to live and move and flow in His fullness. 2 Corinthians 4:7, speaks of the Holy Spirit being the treasure that lives within our earthen bodies.  I do also believe that my spirit is alive in Christ, joined to and one with His Spirit - inseparably and eternally connected to Him.   And whenever I ask Him, He illuminates scripture, as if the curtain has being pulled away and there it is - a new, deeper understanding of a truth that has always been there.  

That flow of revelation knowledge from the Spirit of God into our spirits, is essentially what Ephesians 1:18 says, "...having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand..."

That light enables us to see something we never saw before, it reveals what is already there; the treasure in His written Word, and it enriches us.  

Spend some time this week meditating on this glorious truth, and allow the eyes of your heart to be flooded with light so you can know, understand and declare that His Word, revealed to your heart has made you rich!

Much love,

Jenny


Ephesians 1:23, "Which is His body (the church), the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself]."