Forbidden Fruit

Obey is one of those words that we don’t like hearing. From the time we are toddlers, whenever we hear “Obey me”—or it’s shorter version “NO!”—we immediately think of what is being withheld from us. I can’t touch, taste, smell, or do what I want to. But the reality is obedience protects.

This reality of protection in obedience hit home for me one day when I was babysitting a toddler who was determined to destroy both herself and my house. After rescuing her from everything from toilets to outlets, I put her in the playpen for a nap. To little Taylor “No!” obviously meant “Go for it!” How was I to teach her otherwise?

How could I get her to understand that toilets and outlets are dangerous when she couldn’t  comprehend the words drown or electrocute, or even death?

It wouldn’t have done any good to have sat her down and shown her electrical diagrams and explained currents and wiring.  Instead, I had to confine her within the boundaries of the playpen to keep her safe, until I finished a few tasks and could watch her like a hawk.

That evening, I was talking to a friend who was suffering a lot of consequences from making wrong choices. I shared with Him about little Taylor. When he was defying God’s “No’s” all he could think about was what God was withholding from him. Now He was learning the hard way that God’s “No’s” were for his protection.

Sound familiar? In Genesis, God places Adam and Eve in a Paradise of “Yes’s”. He only gives them one “no”. They are not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

If the serpent (devil) had told Eve to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree because it tasted better than the fruit from the other trees, she might not have fallen. But the enemy didn’t deceive her with the fruit, he deceived her through a lie—a lie about the goodness of God. If he could get her to doubt God’s heart for her, he could get her mistrust God and convince her to sin, bringing death, disease, fear, destruction and every other wicked thing that could harm her into her life. The more she believed the lie, the more appetizing the forbidden fruit looked.

The devil still uses the same tactics today. That is why we struggle with obeying God’s “No’s”.  When we choose to sin, we might not always be aware that we are doubting God’s goodness, but we are. Whenever we deliberately make a wrong choice, we are inwardly telling God that we doubt His heart for us. We see Him as withholding, instead of holding out His hands to bless us.

God wants to withhold evil from us; not to withhold what is good for us. But, unfortunately, you and I sometimes  have to get shocked a few times or nearly drown in tears from our decisions until we realize that God really knew what He was talking about when He told us “No!”.

God is a good father and He knows what will truly bless us (his children). The devil wants to steal from us and rob us of our peace. God wants to give us peace, and part of that peace comes through obeying Him and resting in His care for us. Trusting leads to obedience—and obedience leads to rest. May you and I purpose to trust Him, obey Him, and rest in His care!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Genesis 3:1-7

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17 NKJV).

Testify

I used to think testimonies were about taking tests, now I see them more as testaments of God’s faithfulness.

One of the definitions of testament in the Merriam Webster’s On-line Dictionary is a tangible proof or tribute.  Since testimonies testify to the love, glory, and power of the Lord, they are given to us, not just to grow us, but to reveal who God is to others. This is why God told the Israelites to set up stones of remembrance when they crossed the Jordan.

“Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe;  and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7 NKJV).

This is also why over the past 30 years I have written down testimonies of God’s faithfulness in my life.

I don’t know about you, but, many times, I have been mightily impacted through the testimonies of others. That is why I encourage people to share what God has done and is currently doing in their lives. Often, we are unaware of the treasures we are holding onto until we share them. You could be holding onto the very story that someone desperately needs.

If you have a testimony you would like to share, I would love to post it on this site! Your story will bring to God glory and often become a part of another person’s story, when one day, they too, will say, “I read a testimony that inspired me….”

If you feel the Lord stirring you to send your testimony, please email it to me at truthrejoices@gmail.com . Be sure to let me know whether or not you would like me to include your name when I post it.

Thank you!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

 

Resting in God’s Love

 

Healthy Relationships are built on trust. But it’s difficult to trust someone when you don’t trust their heart for you. I served God long before I trusted His heart for me. The result was striving, guilt, fear, and condemnation.

Because of hurts and disappointments, I like many others, learned early that the world was not safe and that people betray trust. I projected my fears onto God. I longed for Him to love and accept me, but no matter how much I “did” for Him I still felt unlovable.

I began to trust God’s hand after seeing Him repeatedly provide for me and heal me, but I couldn’t trust His heart until the lies I believed about Him, and about who I was to Him, were replaced by truth. Some truth was revealed through personal experiences with God (I share some of these in my books), other truth came through reading the Word, counsel, books, sermons, and healing and prayer sessions.

Everyone’s journey toward healing and wholeness in Jesus looks different. I have heard testimonies where people have had a one-time revelation of God’s love and they totally trusted Him from then on. That is not my story. I didn’t learn to trust through one encounter or because of one thing. I just had to keep listening, learning, and doing the next thing God had planned for me.

My journey to discover God’s heart for me would include many personal revelations (mostly in the midst of trials), and many people from many different churches over the course of many years.

I can now honestly say that I trust God’s heart for me!

I can trust that He will love me unconditionally, even when I feel and act unlovable.  

I can trust that His arms are open wide, even when mine are crossed in anger or stubbornness.

I can trust that He truly does have good plans for me because He is good and His intentions toward me are for my best.

I can trust that the boundaries He sets for me are to protect me, even when I do not understand them, and they do not feel good.

I can trust that He knows how to orchestrate opportunities for me to use the gifts He has placed in me. 

I can trust Him, not just walk with me through trials, but to equip me to overcome in the midst of them.

I can trust Him to build my character and to develop the fruits of the Spirit in my life.

I can trust Him with the times and seasons of my life. 

I can trust Him with my eternal destiny because of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary.

I can trust Him to redeem my past, bless my present, and prepare my future.

I can trust Him to comfort me in times of loss and to rejoice with me in victories.

 I can trust Him to watch over me through the night and in the midst of the night seasons, and to rejoice over me with singing.

I can trust Him to teach me to learn to dance over the graves in my life, to dance with Him as my prince, and to dance on His feet as his precious daughter. 

I have learned that I can trust Him in all things because I know He loves me, and that He truly does have my best interest in mind!

Today, I pray that you will be able to rest in the assurance of God’s love for you. No matter what is going on in your life, know that you can always trust Him!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39 NKJV).  

 

 

Counterfeit Fruit

In my last post I mentioned that I was asking God for more revelation concerning my past false definition of gentleness. By the end of the day I had written down false definitions for all of the Fruits of the Spirit. Since the Fruits of the Spirit are grown in relationship with the Lord, wouldn’t it make since that counterfeits of the Fruits of the Spirit would manifest in our lives through self-reliance or faulty understanding about God’s love and character.

When you and I don’t understand our identity in Christ or know what healthy relationships are supposed to look like, it easy to confuse the fruits with their counterfeits:

Lust feels like love- until you are finished using or being used.

Happiness feels like joy-until trials come, or you don’t “feel” happy anymore.

Denial feels like peace-until your circumstances become unbearable.

Passivity feels like patience (long-suffering)-until you’ve had enough. Then it can easily turn to rage.

Permissiveness or being subservient feels like gentleness-until you discover that you lost the real “you” a long time ago.

Self-righteousness feels like goodness-until you see your flaws. Then it turns into shame and self-loathing.

False responsibility feels like faithfulness-until it turns into resentment.

Enabling feels like kindness-until you realize that the people who are using you aren’t getting better and that you are paying the cost for their bad decisions.

So if the counterfeits fruits often feel like the genuine fruits how can we tell the difference?

The true Fruits of the Spirit bear good fruit in our lives.

Counterfeits will keep us guarded, Real fruit keeps us guided by the Holy Spirit.

Counterfeits make us feel intimidated or cause us to intimidate; Real fruit leads to true intimacy (into-me-you-see)

Counterfeits bring frustration; real fruit brings freedom.

Counterfeits are birthed out of pain, loss, disappointment, fear, failure and believing lies about God , ourselves and others. Real fruit is birthed out of passion, love, desire for relationship, faith, freedom, and believing the truth about God, ourselves and others.

The other day when I was paying for my groceries with a fifty dollar bill, the cashier shared a story with me. Apparently, a few days before, the cashier had to call the police because a woman had given her a counterfeit fifty dollar bill. The woman proved to be innocent, but since the bill was fake, the woman lost fifty dollars.

The devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy. One of the ways he does this is through counterfeits. Thankfully, because of what Christ had done, you and I don’t have to lose out when counterfeits are discovered, we just have to take hold of the truth and allow God to restore!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

Picture a Lamb

All morning I have been thinking and praying about what to write about today. Since Wednesday is usually the day I post testimonies, I was hoping to find one in my e-mail this morning. But there were none. I thought about posting one of my personal testimonies or a portion of one of my past Bible Studies, or even a chapter from one of my books, but to tell you the truth, I am not thinking in words today, as much as in pictures—one specific picture to be exact. The picture of a little lamb.

It all started last night when I received a message in answer to a question I had asked someone. I had been reading Ephesians 4 and verse 2 stuck in my mind. Always be humble and gentle. Instantly, the wheels began to turn as I thought about how my past definitions of humility and gentleness had caused me heart ache and robbed me of my identity. I immediately thanked the Lord that I was no longer wearing the counterfeit slave garments of false humility and niceness.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to hear other’s insight concerning the Word of God, so I sent out a message to someone I barely knew and asked for their insight. I was preparing for an enlightening discussion and sharing of some testimonies, but what I got back left me speechless. “Picture a lamb…”

After reading the rest of the description, I sat back in my chair and blankly stared at my computer screen. I wondered why tears were forming in the corners of my eyes. I closed my eyes trying to picture a gentle little lamb, but the lamb I saw had fangs and was roaring like a lion. It troubled me that I was having difficulty picturing a gentle creature, so I got up and went about my normal business, deciding I would try to picture the lamb later on that night.

Before bedtime, I closed my eyes and tried again. This time the little lamb was far in the distance. I asked the Lord why I was having such a difficult time with the gentle little lamb. There was no answer.

As I was studying the Word and writing notes this morning, I had pretty much convinced myself that I didn’t picture the lamb because I am a teacher and I learn differently. But then God reminded me of all of the times He speaks to me through visions. Why was I having so much trouble with this picture?

Believe it or not, as I write this I am getting my answer. Part of me still views gentleness as weakness. Because of his wounds, my ex-husband was nether kind nor gentle. And because of my wounds, my definitions of both kindness and gentleness caused me to have low self-worth and be subservient.

Since I now have been walking in the freedom of knowing who I am in Christ for quite a few years, I have a totally new understanding of who God is, who I am, and about how relationships should look. But I am also fully aware that because of His love and care for me, God is continuously healing and restoring the broken pieces of my life. Apparently, there is something deep in me that He is bringing to the surface for me to examine, to receive revelation about, and to release to Him.

I am not sure what wound He is beginning to reveal to heal because of this little lamb, but until I receive the full revelation, I will picture the lamb I can always easily picture. The Lamb that was slain for me before the foundations of the world. The lamb that holds me, His little lamb, close to His heart—my precious, beloved Savior and closest friend Jesus Christ.

 

May you and I always keep our eyes on the Lamb of God!

Be abundantly blessed,

Jeannie

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV).

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

 

Never Forgotten

Five years ago, I returned to Corpus Christi to care for my mother and special needs sister and to help my father with his business. At the time I had no idea that I was heading into a season of healing and restoration with my father.

Because of His critical and controlling nature, I had not felt closely connected to my father. Through the years, as the Lord revealed His Father’s heart for me, I was able to see my earthy father in a new light and forgive him for the pain he had unknowingly caused me. I was so thankful that I had made peace with my father.

But in 2012, I learned that it’s easier to have peace in a relationship separated by over a thousand miles, than in the midst of daily chaos. Over the next few years, Daddy and I ended up learning a lot about each other. I had to draw boundaries; he had to learn to respect them. I had to see beyond his habits and words into his heart full of love. He had to be reassured of my love and learn to trust me. I had to give him opportunities to express his disappointments, and He had to allow me to have an occasional meltdown. We both had to learn to work together, to extend a lot of grace to each other, and to laugh lot, even when life hurt. Together we weathered the storms, and in the midst of holding on to God and on to each other we developed a closer relationship than I ever could have imagined, this side of heaven.

That is why I was apprehensive about calling him yesterday. During the years Daddy and I bonded, I transitioned in his eyes from the daughter who could do little right, to the daughter who could do no wrong. Now, most days he doesn’t even know that I am his daughter. He just remembers me as the wonderful woman who helped him out the last few years.

Alzheimer’s can be a vicious killer of relationship!

Thankfully, when I called it was a good time, and with some coaxing, He put together that I was His daughter. That is the best I can hope for at this stage in our lives. It’s funny, often during the past few years I wanted to run away from my father’s house. But now I am so very thankful that I had the opportunity to be there.

I am aware that If his Alzheimer’s continues to progress, there will soon be a day where I will be forgotten in the mind of my father. But I will always know that I will never be forgotten in his heart.

Before I called my earthy daddy to wish him “Happy Father’s Day,” I called out to my Daddy God in prayer. As I poured out my heart to Him, I was reminded of His love and care for me. It brought me great comfort to know that although my earthly father might forget who I am, I will always be in the heart and mind of my Heavenly Father…never to be forgotten.

Earthy Father’s are just that-earthly. Some have known how to love better than others. Some have not known how to love at all. But even the best father can only love In part.

I am so thankful that you and I have a Daddy God who can love us completely!

May we always remember that we are never forgotten.

May you be abundantly blessed,

Jeannie

“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16a NLT).

“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close” (Psalm 27:10 NLT).

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7 NKJV).

He Who Dwells

 

Through the years, as my relationship with the Lord has shifted from being that of a fearful orphan to being a beloved daughter, the Holy Spirit has often brought me new understanding concerning scriptures I used to recite. A recent example would be Psalm 91.

I used to view Psalm 91 as my 911 Psalm. It was the Psalm I read when I was in trouble. It was the Psalm I posted in its entirety on the wall above my bed when I was terrified at night. It was the Psalm I claimed when I was in the midst of trials. But recently I have been thinking about Psalms 91 in a new way.

Whenever I would read or recite Psalm 91 I would fly through the first two verses and get down to the business of claiming and declaring God’s protection and deliverance. But the past few days I haven’t been able to get past the first verse: “He who dwells in the secret place of the most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”(Psalm 91:1 NKJV).

Could it be that in my rushing, I had missed the whole message-It’s not about rescue as much as it is about dwelling (relationship).

Below are a couple of definitions of dwell from the The Online Free Dictionary

1. To live as a resident; reside.

2. To exist in a given place or state: dwell in joy.     

In Acts 17:28 the Word says, “for in Him we live and move and have our being…” (NKJV). In order for us to live and move and have our being in God, we must have an intimate relationship with Him.  He needs to be our habitation not just our hang out. Instead of defaulting to Him we are to dwell (live) in Him.    

You and I don’t need to run to a shelter in the midst of a storm if we are already living in a shelter. We just need use the resources that have been made available to us. To me this means drawing close the heart of God and receiving the love, peace, and joy He has for me as I rest in His care.

During the years when I used to view God’s presence as a place to run to, I was often running from Him, because I didn’t feel worthy and I didn’t trust His heart for me.

When you and I dwell in God’s presence we are transformed by His power. In His presence, faith replaces fear and acceptance replaces abandonment. In His presence, our minds are transformed, and we no longer see ourselves as slaves but as beloved sons and daughters (God’s princes and princesses).

Instead of just viewing God’s presence as a fortress, may we make it our habitation and relish our relationship with Him.

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

In the Midst of the Storm

A few years ago, when I was living with my daughter’s family in Maryland, I offered to babysit my grandsons and a neighbor’s son so the young moms could get away for the afternoon.  While the boys and I were hanging out on the front porch enjoying the pitter patter of rain, a strong gust of wind blew the outdoor trash containers over and sent us scurrying into the house. Within seconds, it began to downpour and the power went out. After staring at the wall of black clouds through the window I checked to make sure the storage area under the stairs was clear in case of imminent danger. Then I turned my attention to the screaming toddlers.

In the midst of the ruckus my daughter called confirming we were under a tornado warning.  As I attempted to detach the terrified trio from my appendages, I informed her of my plans in case the need arose. When the call was over I focused on calming the children by singing songs, reading books, and talking about how “cool” the rain and clouds were.  Although the storm outside continued to rage for a while longer, the storm inside quieted. After the wind and rain let up a bit, I took the kids back out on the porch, where to my astonishment, they began dancing.

Seventeen years ago I was in the midst of another storm; the storm of betrayal and  divorce. One night in order to escape the chaos, I checked into a hotel. As the winds of change blew and the rains of failure and rejection pummeled me, I turned on the Christian radio station.  In the midst of my raging storm the words to a song by Scott Krippayne “Sometimes He Calms the Storm” calmed my raging heart.

Sometimes the storms in our lives are preceded by warnings, but often they are not.  Whether it’s the doctor’s diagnosis, a financial crisis, the betrayal of a spouse or friend, a traumatic experience, or the late night phone call you wish you never received, the circumstances that rage around us can easily terrify us and overwhelm us. It’s awesome when the Lord speaks to the wind and waves and calms the storm, but, more often than not, He speaks to our hearts and calms us in the midst of our storms.

When I look back at my stormy seasons, I see God’s love and faithfulness as He held me, grew me, and taught me to dance. He might not have jumped in and immediately changed my circumstances, but He always changed me and deepened my relationship with Him in the midst of them.

If you are currently in the midst of a storm, know that God loves you and He is there for you. Let Him draw close to you and calm you. It might not seem like it right now, but there will come a day when, you too, will dance.

I pray the words to this song by Scott Kerpain would bring you comfort and peace as they did me many years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BMIJHZSavo

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

Naptime

“No naaaap!!!!” The ordeal had begun. My daughter had put her then rambunctious two-year-old down for his daily nap. Since I had been staying in the next room, I had the privilege of experiencing the sorrowful symphony in its entirety. It began with wails from the brass section and progressed to the ear piercing high notes of the woodwinds and strings-not to mention the intermediate interjections of the percussion, represented by the pounding of toddler feet against the sheet rock.

As I sat on my bed with just a wall separating me from the drama, I thought to myself, “Come on, Rhett. It’s just a nap. You need to rest. Why are you fighting so hard.”

It was then I remembered the first time God had told me to lay down and be still for an hour. Since “It’s off to work we go” had been my Christian matra for so many years, rest and laziness were synonymous to me. Being still was for sick people, not for a busy home schooling single mother of four.

As I dutifully trudged to my room to lie down and quiet myself before the Lord, I didn’t wail, scream, and kick the wall, but I was internally screaming, “NO NAP!” as my mind, will, and emotions played an encore performance of protest.

My first attempts at being still and resting were more pathetic than productive. I was waiting for instructions or for the next prayer burden, but I heard nothing. After my allotted hour, I would get up feeling less rested and more frustrated.

On the third day, all that changed. I was begrudgingly lying on my bed, watching the clock waiting for “naptime” to be over, when I started to complain: “Lord, just tell me what I need to hear because I have a million things to do. This whole being still thing is a waste of my time!”

God is a good father. When He speaks to us He doesn’t condemn, but He does convict. What I heard him speak to my spirit convicted me to the core of my being. “If I brought you the man of your dreams, and you were lying next to him, just doing nothing, would it be a waste of your time.”

My entire marriage I had longed for my husband to connect with me emotionally. Being still was not about God wasting my valuable time. It was about Him valuing my heart. It was about Him drawing me out of my works mentality into a deeper relationship with Him. It was about emotional intimacy.

Being still taught me to rest in His presence and to be refreshed by His love and care for me. Being still brought more restoration to my soul. And, in time, being still gave me much revelation.

Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God…”

We can learn much about God and experience Him through reading the Word, praying, worshiping, and serving others, but to “Know Him” (truly connect with His heart) I believe  we must also embrace “nap time” and be still in His presence.

The funny thing is that even though my grandson fought naptime, he would eventually be still and fall asleep, waking up renewed and refreshed to enjoy the rest of the day.

If God is drawing you to be still and experience more of Him, don’t fight it. As you release your will and rest in His love, you will be renewed and refreshed, allowing you to more fully enjoy Him and the life He has for you.

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

Beyond the Doorway

In my last post I mentioned that when we walk into a new season we have to allow God to strip off some old things and re-equip us. The vision I had to symbolize stepping into a new season was a doorway in the middle of a field.

Earlier in the week, I was so busy getting ready for my move that I didn’t open the Birthday card a good friend emailed me on Monday until today. Since she knew nothing about the doorway or Wednesday’s post, I saw the card as yet more confirmation. (See first card pic above.)

This is what was on the other side of the Arch (doorway)

I see this card as a prophetic picture of what God is going to bring about, not only during this next season in my life, but during the next season of many people’s lives.

I believe we are heading into a season of spiritual fruitfulness-A season where we will see prayers answered that we have been praying for years- A season of restoration in families as well as in our identities-A season where we will walk out of the familiar and take hold of our destinies-A season of hope, healing, and abundant joy!

If you, like me, see yourself walking into a season of fruitfulness, I would love to hear about what God is doing in your life. Feel free to email me at truthrejoices@gmail.com

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. (Joel 2:23-26, ESV)

The Birthday card was created by Jacquie Lawson e-cards