As the month of January concludes, the winter season will soon usher us into February.
What a great month!
Not only is it short, but its centerpiece is Valentine’s Day, the day of expressing love to those who mean the world to us.
It’s a day to enjoy exquisite chocolates, fragrant flowers, and cards with verses that touch hearts and bring tears of joy.
It’s a day full of red and pink hearts, iced cupcakes, and tiny gifts tied up with bows.
It’s a day of white tablecloths, candlelight, and sharing dinner with that special someone.
So, in honor of our February celebration of love, I’d like to express my gratitude to you by gifting you with my novella. Click “Buy on Amazon” under the meme for your free ebook (available from January 27-30).
Curl up by a toasty fire with an afghan and a mug of hot chocolate on a snowy winter’s day. Lose yourself in Carlie’s senior year of college where she finally decides to put God to the test. Can a girl really find her perfect fit if she turns the matchmaking over to God?
Can Carlie’s faith also challenge today’s single women searching for a godly husband? Find out how 2 Corinthians 6:14 is still relevant in today’s culture.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (ESV)
Have you ever been betrayed by someone close? I sure have. I call it my Judas Experience.
Deep hurt leads to a crossroads—forgiveness versus unforgiveness. It’s your choice to make.
If you’re like most people, your heart has a compartment where you can jail old soul wounds. You think that if those bad memories stay locked in the dark long enough, they’ll dissolve and blow away with the winds of time, gone forever.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Instead, those hurts fester, rot, and stink inside its little coffin. You may try your best to conceal it with a sweet-smelling cover-up. However, it’s no use because God sees through pretense.
O God, You know my foolishness; And my sins are not hidden from You ~ Psalms 69:5 NASB.
Unforgiveness is like swallowing poison, hoping the other person dies. But, isn’t it funny how that guilty one often continues with his or her life, while you’re stuck in the same spot, sucking the bottle dry? Just the thought of their “getting away with it” drives you mad, which is exactly why you cling to unforgiveness. You believe that if you let go, it would declare innocence for the guilty person. You become a lighthouse guardian of a wrong suffered, proudly carrying a blazing torch to memorialize it–to the grave if need be.
Can unforgiveness affect your physical health?
For some, unforgiveness may fester into a chronic illness hiding deep in cells, poisoning the rest of the body with puzzling physical symptoms. It could open a door for disease to gain painful access. Medicine often can’t diagnose its cause nor find its cure, so chains of suffering could last a lifetime.
That’s not any way to live. How can you cleanse your soul of this toxic waste, like dirty bathwater in a tub with a stopped-up drain?
Think about the life of Jesus. He lived a perfect, sinless life, but His enemies crucified Him to terminate His ministry. He never did or said anything to justify dying the most painful, shameful death imaginable. The Sanhedrin felt threatened by this new miracle-performing Rabbi who was proving to Jewish throngs that He was indeed Messiah, the Promised One.
At the crucifixion, those around Jesus hurled insults, saying, ‘Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’ ~ Mark 15:29b-30 NKJV.
Jesus could have commanded legions of angels to come to His rescue and kill all His enemies in a split second. But that wouldn’t have accomplished God’s purpose. Jesus came willingly to lay down His life as the perfect Lamb, God’s perfect sacrifice, for all mankind to be saved.
Suffering and bloody from His crown of thorns, thirty-nine lashes, and spikes driven into His hands and feet, Jesus forgave His enemies with beautiful words, forever memorialized in Scripture.
‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ And they divided His garments and cast lots ~ Luke 23:34 NASB.
Can you imagine patiently suffering unto death and still forgiving your enemies as they mocked you? Have any of us suffered to a point like Jesus? Our miseries may seem unbearable now, but they are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us ~ Romans 8:16-18 NKJV.
How many times should you forgive? Not once, not twice, but 490 times!
Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’ ~ Matthew 18:21-22 NASB.
Will your tithe be accepted if you harbor unforgiveness toward another?
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift ~ Matthew 5:23-24, NKJV.
What happens if you refuse to forgive?
‘For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’ ~ Matthew 6:14-15 NASB.
So, there are serious consequences attached to unforgiveness. Just as Christ has forgiven us, we are commanded to forgive others. It’s not a suggestion. We MUST forgive if we expect to be forgiven and enter heaven. Contrary to today’s culture, God doesn’t bend His Word—there’s no wiggle room.
No matter how our emotions may balk, we overcome through our free will. Pray to forgive your enemies, not because you FEEL like it, but because you WILL to do it in obedience to Christ. The Holy Spirit will certainly reward you with the victory.
Then, in prayer, release your hurts to Jesus. He will come through the Holy Spirit and pour oil and wine into your raw soul wounds, remove the stingers and cover you with a healing balm of Gilead, binding up and covering you with His grace and peace. Jesus promised to never leave nor forsake you.
I’ve found that as I forgive my enemies and bless them in prayer, the chains of inner suffering loosen and disintegrate. Jesus drains the filthy water away and scours my soul clean by the blood of the Lamb. Physically and spiritually, I’m freed from all that poison. My deepest cells heal, and my body can return to perfect health.
Releasing hurts and injustices to the Lord has wonderful benefits. Not only will it free and restore your joy, but it permits the Lord to work on your behalf. God’s Word testifies about how much He hates injustice, fights for His children, and punishes their enemies.
For the Lord loves justice And does not forsake His saints; They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, And dwell in it forever ~Psalms 37:28-29 NKJV.
When I realized that God can fight my battles FAR better than I ever could, even on my best day, I now gladly release my enemies into God’s hands. As I pray for my enemies, my heart is restored through God’s grace, and I once again dwell in peace and joy.
Today, I am thankful to live in the freedom of forgiveness. I trust God—not myself—to be Judge.
How about you? Will you lay down unforgiveness and embrace joy?
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises ~ Psalm 98:4 NKJV.
Christmas has recently passed, and if you’re like me, all the decorations are neatly tucked away for another year. Although the house is back in apple-pie order, my emotions mourn.
A month before Christmas, I labored for a week to arrange twinkling lights, pine boughs, crèche figures, and ornaments. But now, after just a few short days, no trace of that joyful celebration remains.
I admit, I was rather sad to see such lovely beauty vanish. I also pondered why my JOY had disappeared along with the decorations.
True JOY isn’t a by-product of the physical realm–that kind is passing, not permanent. Instead, JOY is a lasting gift God plants deep down in our spirits.
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation ~ Habakkuk 3:18 NKJV.
Years ago, when I was still teaching, I used to always smile and bubble over with JOY. Students would often ask me why I was so happy all the time—especially early in the morning. Since it was a public school, I danced around the real reason, which was the JOY of Jesus living in my heart. But it thrilled me that my witness made a difference, even in a place where I wasn’t verbally allowed to share my spiritual beliefs.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven ~ Matthew 5:16 NKJV.
We realize Christmas isn’t just about outward glitter, presents, and holiday feasting. All that is a by-product of the JOY of the birth of Jesus Christ.
This first month of the New Year, let’s take that precious JOY, live it out in our daily lives, and let our lights shine from the housetops!
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! ~ Psalm 32:11.
Although happiness can turn upside down and dissolve with life’s circumstances, let’s allow the JOY of the Lord to shine through every word and action. No matter what comes our way, we can choose our response–JOY.
So, let’s take off the lid of that pot of JOY bubbling in our hearts and allow the bliss of God’s love to overflow to the world in 2018. Let JOY be the witness of our salvation through the blood of the Lamb, having made us whole in Christ Jesus.
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation ~ Psalm 95:1 NKJV.
Will you choose JOY to shine from your life this year?