Welcome to Heartsprings, where I share what springs forth from my heart for God and His people. I pray that what you find here blesses you and draws you nearer to your Heavenly Father who loves you like no other.

In His love,
Brenda :-)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trade Rote for Relationship

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!" -Matthew 6:7-8

Our Father knows EXACTLY what we need even before we ask Him. Does that mean we don't need to ask? I don't think so. "..... Yet you do not have because you do not ask." -James 4:2. I think God wants us to ask, but we don't need to go on and on about it thinking that the more fervently we ask, the better the chances of getting our prayers answered. There are times when I find myself repeating myself in prayer, mostly out of passion for what I'm praying about. I don't think that's the issue. We pray to a living being, not a dead saint or a piece of wood, gold, or bronze that can't hear us anyway. In that case we WOULD need to repeat our prayers again and again, unfortunately they would still never be answered. How thankful I am that when I pray I am heard by my loving and gracious Heavenly Father who already knows everything about me, my needs, and the desires of my heart...AND He knows what's best for me. He knows exactly what to provide and when. If I never asked and just sat back and waited for Him to provide everything, what kind of relationship would we have? Not much of one, I daresay. When I come to Him with my needs and requests, it opens the door for conversation, fellowship, and communion. Our relationship grows because we have spent time together, talking and listening to one another. It's a beautiful thing. Do I sometimes come to Him excited and animated, repeating myself at times, of course. Our children do the same thing, do they not? The problem is when our prayers become rote and ritual. If we think we can say seven "Hail Mary's", and ten "Our Fathers" and our prayers will be answered and our sins forgiven, we are mistaken. God wants our hearts, not our rituals and routines. He cares nothing for human tradition when there's no heart involved.

We can say words until we're blue in the face, but if we have not come into relationship with the Father through salvation in Jesus Christ, then we may as well be speaking to a piece of wood. If we don't know Him and have not drawn near to Him and Him to us, then we are as people of other religions. "Don't be like them", He says. "Know Me as Father, a Father who knows before you even ask, but desires that you ask so that we can have relationship.". When we're in relationship with our Heavenly Father, there's no need for repetitious rote. Amen!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Forever My Bearer

Psalm 28:9 - "Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever."

"Lift them up forever". This is an amazing statement. The NKJV uses the word "bear" and this is the definition according to Strong's: Bear (lift up)- Strong's Number: 5375
Transliterated Word - Nasa'
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech
naw-saw'. Verb
Definition: to lift, bear up, carry, take to bear, carry, support, sustain, endure
to take, take away, carry off, forgive, to be borne, be carried, to be taken away, be carried off, be swept away, to lift up, exalt, support, aid, assist, to desire,
to carry, bear continuously

This is what God does for us when we allow Him. Forever, He will carry; support, endure, forgive, exalt, aid, assist, and desire us........FOREVER! This is not the face of some grim entity in the sky waiting for the opportunity to throw lightning bolts down at us. I have struggled for years with replacing the face of my earthly father with the true face of my Heavenly Father.

I understand that's a common transference, to put our earthly father's face on God. That is really so unfair to God because our biological fathers can't hold a candle to Him. My biological father was critical of me and made me feel that his love was conditional upon my performance. My dad was angry and yelled a lot. I grew up feeling very intimidated and thought of God in much the same way; big, loud, and angry.

As I've grown in the Lord and read more of His Word, I see a totally different person. Certainly, God is capable of great anger and IS very big, and can also be very loud. However, that's not the essence of who He is. Love, unconditional love, is the essence of who He is and I want more than anything to get that deep in my heart. For that reason, I love verses like this that tell me of His true love for me. Getting into the depth of the words and their meanings also helps me to really get it. God loves me unconditionally and not only does He love me, but He wants to always be there for me in a way no one else can. He wants to help me, not criticize me; build me up, not tear me down. He is for me, not against me and He has good plans for me regardless of what's going on in the world around me. My Heavenly Father is my biggest fan and my greatest ally, the one who loves me with the purest, most unconditional love there is and the one who will be there for me when no one else is.......FOREVER! Amen!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Which "Pull" Will You Choose?

As I am in Christ and Christ has won victory over sin and death, then so have I. Then why do I walk around with a defeated attitude? Because I walk more by sight than by faith, contrary to what the Word tells me to do. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" - 2 Corinthians 5:7

This world has a strong pull and it WANTS us to walk by sight, but God's pull is stronger if we choose to let Him pull us - by faith. The trick is, we get to choose. We get to decide whether we're going to yield to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, or bow down to our flesh and make provision for it's lusts. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." - Romans 13:14. Giving in to the flesh feels good for the moment, but it can have long-term consequences. Disregarding and disobeying God and His Word is something we most certainly can do if we so desire, but be prepared for consequences every time - even long-term and eternal consequences. Obeying God, however, yields long-term blessing and eternal life. Hmmmm.....momentary pleasure with long-term consequences or defeat the lusts of the flesh and reap blessing and eternal living? It seems like a no-brainer, but its much easier said than done. Take some advice from someone who's experienced both......choose carefully. Choose very, very carefully. The consequences of disobedience can hang around for the rest of your life. You can be totally forgiven and still experience consequences. The principle of reaping and sowing stands even in the face of forgiveness. Again...choose carefully.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jesus Servanthood

Jesus knelt before His disciples and washed their feet. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords stooped so low as to become a man here on earth, and THEN stooped even lower to become a servant of man. After washing their feet Jesus basically said to the disciples that if He, Teacher and Lord, would serve them then they also ought to serve one another. His life was about extreme servanthood, from his lowly birth to His excruciating and unjust death. If Jesus is our role model. If we live to glorify Him and serve as He served, how are we doing? Do our priorities line up with His? I Peter 4:8-10 - "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.". 

Do we serve and love like Jesus did, or does our favorite television show have priority... or our Facebook games, or planning the next vacation, or any number of things that distract us, as my pastor talked about Sunday. We are part of a family aside from our bilogical family, to which we have obligations. We are called to so much more than just a hug and a smile on Sunday morning. We are called to be involved in each others lives. To know each others business, and not for the purpose of gossip or "one upmanship", but for the purpose of prayer, service, and love. If one of us is hurting or facing some kind of challenge, it's our business to know about it and come alongside and lift them up. Whether its by providing some kind of practical service, or by praying with them, or whatever. But we don't know what's going on if we're not involved and fervently loving.

Fervently: (S) (1619) - ektenos-intently (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance). When you love something intently you are focused on it and actively involved in caring for it. Think about that. Is that how we are with our brothers and sisters in Christ? That's how God's Word says we should be. Challenging isn't it? As is the true Christian life, not the complacent pew warmer kind of life. The life that models Jesus servanthood will always challenge and enrich us beyond anything we ever imagined. I guess what we need to decide is if it's worth it. :-)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Protection from Pride

God teaches the humble His ways. That's what Psalm 25:9 tells us. The whole issue of pride has always been a big one for me. Years ago I asked the Lord to rid me of the sickening characteristic. I had no idea the process would be so painful. The pain continues today and I don't wonder if the Lord allows it to continue to protect me from the pride He has so painfully extracted from me. I still have my moments when I like to think I'm all that, but I know better really. Nothing good that's happened to me has been my own doing. Nothing that I've accomplished has been through my efforts alone, and no good that I ever do will be solely because of me and my hard work. My limitations are not only mental and emotional, but physical as well. I literally can't get out of bed every day without the grace of God. Some people who know of my limitations, marvel at how much I do in spite of them. I have to give God all the glory because none of it would be even possible without Him.

Father , I pray that You would remove this thorn from my flesh, yet if it is what's needed to keep me humble and teachable to Your ways, then leave it. I would so much rather be in pain, but humble than healed and prideful. Thy will be done, Father, on earth as it is in heaven, Amen!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Need as We Succeed

After a mission trip to Mexico, I was awed by the faith of the people there. They live in run-down shanties on mud streets. Some of their dwellings don't even have windows, yet they don't seem to notice what they're missing. I was told that their faith is so strong BECAUSE they have nothing else. They have God and that's all they seem to need. The worship services I attended were like nothing I'd ever seen. It was heavenly. Their adoration of God was so apparent in the way they sang and worshipped. It was beautiful. It was also a stark contrast to the way most Americans worship. Is it because we have so much more and therefore don't need God as much?

Our Heavenly Father is the Blessed Controller of all things. We have the ability to do the job we do that provides the income for the beautiful house, nice car, and family vacations because God gave us those abilities. We live where we live in the time we live because God put us there. We wake up breathing every morning because God gifted us with one more day. We can look forward to eternity in heaven instead of eternal death because God put all of our sin on His only son, Jesus Christ, and allowed Him to take the penalty instead of us. How pompous of us to think we don't need Him as much as anyone else and how prideful to not be as grateful as those who have less. We should be even more grateful for how incredibly blessed we are. Most of us live in nice houses with windows and everything. We drive decent cars, at least. We have access to some of the best resources in the world. Here's a scary statistic for you; 8% of the population uses over 60% of the world's resources. Guess who that 8% is? That's right, America! We are not an impoverished nation. This nation is what it is because God has allowed it to be. I am sitting in my comfortable home, surrounded by comfort and convenience because God has blessed me and my family with both natural and super-natural blessings, for His own reasons and purposes. I am thankful, and whether I have a good roof over my head or not, I need God. When I was a young mother raising small children on meager means in not as comfortable a home as I live in now, I needed God's help and guidance. Now that I'm an older mother raising teenagers and grandchildren on more generous means in a more comfortable home, I still need God's help and guidance to deal with everyday things as well as more major life decisions and changes.

No matter where we go in this life, how far up the corporate ladder or how high we go in social stature, our need for God should not change. In fact, the more we succeed, the more vulnerable we are to the temptations of this world, and the more we need God to keep us balanced and focused on the right things. I think our need for God should increase as we succeed, not the other way around. I desire to be like those precious souls in Mexico regardless of the circumstances of my life. Circumstances change, sometimes quickly and unexpectedly, but God never does. I'm putting my trust in the unchangeable and making God the One I need most as I succeed according to His plans and purposes for my life. Amen!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What If.......

"You, Lord are all I have and You give me all I need. My future is in Your hands."-Psalm 16:5

I wonder what my life would look like if I took this literally and lived accordingly. If I really believed that God gives me all I need. I struggle to believe that God will provide a new food processor when my current one no longer functions, or a new computer when this one is so full of viruses it just self-distructs. It's hard for me to see God in practical terms sometimes. Yet, I know He cares about the practical aspects of our lives as much as the spiritual. I've seen Him do things like repair the garage door of a newly widowed friend, provide lawn mowing services for another friend whose husband just up and abandoned her. I have seen Him provide the practical supernaturally, so why would there be any doubt in my mind. I think I know at least part of the answer.

I spent a good part of my life (the first 35 years) relying on myself or other people to meet my needs. I don't recall ever asking God outright to provide for me. Old habits die hard sometimes. Even after 15 years of walking with the Lord, I still forget to go to Him first sometimes. Also, there's the fact that I want what I want and not necessarily just what I NEED. I hate to say it, but I guess the bottom line is I don't trust God to provide for me the way I want Him to; according to MY will and in MY time. There's that control issue again! I guess if I would just let go of my will and trust that God really does have my best interests at heart I might be able to walk out the above scripture in real, practical life. Maybe it would help also if i would remember this portion of scripture: "Would any of you who are fathers give your son a stone when he asks for bread? Or would you give him a snake when he asks for a fish? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"-Matthew 7:9-11.

God is such a better father than any earthly father, and I've known some earthly fathers to give some pretty awesome gifts....the exact things their kids wanted. So, why wouldn't God do even better than that? He would, if I would just give Him the chance. Father, forgive me for not trusting You the way I should and for not remembering that You are the greatest dad there ever was or ever will be. You are my Abba and You love me beyond compare. You know exactly what I want and exactly what I need. Help me to trust You completely in ALL areas of my life and with every little (and big) thing. I love You, Father, and desire all that You have for me, Your plans and purposes fulfilled in my life. I thank You that You are Jehovah Jireh, my Provider. In the ultimately provisional name of Jesus, Amen!

If Attitude is Everything...

You know the old saying, "Attitude is everything"? I think attitude is extremely important and a major factor in the way we respond to things, but what about perspective? Does not perspective affect our attitude? If my perspective is that my life should revolve around me and my personal happiness, then something bad happens, what do you think my attitude would be? Well, I can answer that from experience, it would stink. My response would be to pout and moan, and complain. I might even cry a little and I would definitely not be any fun to be around. A negative attitude would prevail as a result of my self-absorbed perspective.

"Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,"- Psalm 13:3. "Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death".......change my perspective so that I don't kill myself with negativity. The thought of dying from negativity might seem exaggerated, but it has been proven that a negative attitude and high stress level can lead to all kinds of illnesses. Negativity is not a good thing and I totally believe that it comes from a self-focused perspective. We get upset when things don't go our way. When people or circumstances don't line up with our agenda, we are offended because it's all about us. NO.....it's not all about us! It's not about me, it's not about you. It's about God and His plan for our lives to glorify Him and bless others. We need to take the focus off of ourselves and put it on God and what He wants us to do for others, to His glory and the furthering of the kingdom. How much more joy do you feel when you step out of your "norm" and help someone in need than when you just go about your daily routine? I know I feel a LOT more joy. How about your joy level during worship as opposed to staying home and vegging in front of a ball game? Ok, maybe that's not a good example. A lot of people find great joy in watching a ball game. Personally, I prefer worship because it's where I feel closest to God and for me, that's a high nothing can come close to. My point here is that when my focus is on God rather than myself, those are the times I feel the most joy. My attitude is positive because my perspective is focused on the greatest source of positive energy, my Heavenly Father.

I'm going to challenge myself for 30 days to maintain a heavenly perspective and see what effect it has on my attitude. I'm going to smile on purpose at every person I come in contact with. I'm going to play worship music all day when I'm at home doing all that lovely housework that so challenges my ability to control my perspective. I'm going to attempt to see every situation through the eyes of Christ and respond with the mind of Christ. I'm going to refuse to yell, scream, grumble or complain.....for 30 whole days! That's a long time for a melancholy personality like mine, in a body riddled with arthritis. In fact, I think I'll not even use the words "melancholy" or "arthritis" for 30 days as well. I think I'll write a blog about it too, since that's the thing to do these days. :-)

Heavenly Father, change my perspective and help me to maintain a positive attitude even beyond this 30 day challenge. Help me to keep my focus on You at all times. I desire, Father, that my actions, my life, would glorify You. Give me a heavenly perspective and the mind of Christ. I ask these things in the mighty name of Christ Himself, Amen!