Spirit food: Eat this; not that

 

Proverbs 27:7
A person who is full refuses honey, 
but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.

Did you ever look at a friend who wasn’t being treated well in a relationship – and knew it – and wonder why that friend kept taking the kind of treatment she was receiving? Maybe her boyfriend was a cheater. Maybe he was cruel in some way. Maybe he ignored her. Whatever the hurtful behavior…it was bad; and, she stayed in it. You just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t break it off and move on.

How about a friend who had some sort of life-damaging issue, addiction or behavior? An eating disorder, promiscuity, hoarding, self-harm, drug use, isolation?

I remember seeing a news clip probably 20+ years ago when Robert Downey, Jr. was being sentenced AGAIN for drug issues. This brilliant, talented, valuable man said the most heart-breaking, tortured thing. “It’s like I have a gun in my mouth and my finger’s on the trigger and I like the taste of metal.”

We’ve all done the same in one way or another. Because of some need or deficit. – some hunger in our lives, we learned to eat the bitter until it tasted normal or sweet to us. The danger is two-fold. We establish an appetite for the bitter and unfullfilling. And because it cannot satisfy, our appetite for it increases and we eat more and more while remaining forever hungry in that area.

I will occasionally see articles on the internet aimed at helping us make better food choices. They’re called, “Eat This, Not That.” The premise of the articles and website is to do “swaps.” Instead of “that” choice at the grocery store, restaurant, salad bar, etc., choose “this” better thing that will be good for you and taste wonderful.

Maybe we’re eating self-pity, loneliness, judgmental and critical thoughts and conversations, feelings of inferiority and unworthiness, offense and hurt, envy, jealousy, strife and arguing, shame and guilt, resentment, condemnation…the list goes on. Let’s get our fingers off the trigger and the metal out of our mouths. We need to belly-up-to-the-bar and have a heaping helping of the crazy sweet love of God. We need to get so full of “this” we cannot imagine eating another bite of “that.”

Here are some tasty morsels to chew on:

*Your love, Lord, is priceless and unfailing and isn’t withheld from anyone (Psalm 36:7)
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I am the temple of God and I meditate on His unfailing love (2 Corinthians 6:16, Psalm 48:9)
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His love for me reaches from earth to the heavens and His faithfulness to the skies (Psalm 36:5)
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I flourish in God and trust in His unfailing love forever and ever (Psalm 52:8)

*You, Lord, are compassionate and gracious, not angry with me and Your love and faithfulness for me is HUGE! (Psalm 86:15, Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 8:12, Hebrews 10:17)

*Nothing can stop Your love for me. (Romans 8:35-39)

*Your love for me will never end. (Psalm 136:26)
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You love me and You are delighted with me. (Zephaniah 3:17)

*Knowing You love me so much brings peace and quiet inside me (Zephaniah 3:17)
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You love me so much, You sing over me – with joy and celebration (Zephaniah 3:17)
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You are with me and because You love me, You bring your strength and power to save me. (Zephaniah 3:17)
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Your great loving-kindness compels me into closeness and intimacy with you. (Jeremiah 31:3)

*You don’t love me because of anything I’ve done to earn or deserve it – You love me just because You love me. Just because You are Love. (Titus 3:4-5)

*Because You love me, Father, You sent Jesus for me. Through Him, who I am is completely different than who I was or could ever be without Him. (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Feeling a little spiritually and emotionally hungry? Starting to reach for a bitter bite? Reach for “this” and not “that” as quickly as you realize what is happening. Make the “swap.” Taste and see that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8) Purpose to change your spiritual and emotional appetite and it will change every aspect of your life. It really will. He promised. We have His Word on it! Take a big bite out of His love!

God is good and He adores us!

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Sin is dirty business…

 

“You never know how good it feels to be really clean until you’ve been really dirty.”

This was said to me about taking a shower after doing some pretty dirty work. Hot, dirty, unpleasant work. It immediately struck me in my spirit.

Sin. The filth. The degradation, decay, and stench of it. I’ve been there. You, too.

In John 7, a woman of less-than-sterling reputation is lavishing love and gratitude on Jesus while He visits Simon (not Simon Peter), the Pharisee. Simon is disgusted that Jesus would be so kind to her given her reputation and past.

John 7:47 (NLT)
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown Me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
 
What I love about this whole passage is that Jesus isn’t saying that her sins were worse or bigger or more numerous than those of the Pharisee He was addressing. He was confronting the Simon’s perception that her sins and mistakes made her unworthy while Simon had no sense of his own issues. He thought that he needed little to no forgiveness. So often, we look at what others have done and think of ourselves as having needed less forgiveness. Or, having needed more forgiveness. The reality is that whether we have a Pharisee’s perception of ourselves as pretty clean or this dear woman’s awareness that our sins were many; we have all needed the finished work of the cross. Forgiveness and redemption. All sin is sin. We’re the ones who’ve categorized it into what is and isn’t as dirty. It’s all the same to God. It all required the cross.

The awareness of forgiveness. Not necessarily for things done naked or with a weapon. Murder. Adultery. Those, too. But equally for things that happen in our hearts, minds, and with our words. His forgiveness eradicates our wrongs. No matter what we’ve done. Gone.

The correlation between our awareness of His grace to our ability to love is clear.

1 John 4:19 (NLT)
We love each other because He loved us first.

Struggling with being judgey (judgmental), harsh, or critical? Struggling with what it really means to love the Lord? Especially with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength (Easy to quote. Hard to understand. Impossible to do on our own.)? Struggling to be good to people who aren’t being good to you? Struggling with a spirit of competition or superiority? How about condemnation and shame?

Take it back to the most basic place. Focus on His love for us. His grace. His favor. His goodness. The absolute, unconditional love of the Father. The sacrificial love of Jesus. Redemption. Newness. Blessings. For us. For you. For me. The goodness and mercy of the Father.

We’ve all been forgiven much. When we revel in that grace…that love…that mercy…that goodness…we will love richly and freely and generously. We will live more consistently in the understanding and expression of the righteousness that He gave us as a gift. We will love much.

It is like living fresh out of the spiritual shower we all needed so desperately and Jesus so lovingly provided…

God is good. And, He adores us.

Be led…

How’s your hearing? Your sight?

How's your hearing 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 20:12 (NLT)
Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the LORD.

I can see a beautiful, early morning snowfall outside my window. Steady. No wind. Blanketing the ground and accumulating perfectly on the trees and rooftops. Stunning. I am grateful today for my eyes and the ability to see all that surrounds me.

Yesterday, I was listening to a new worship project. It was really, really good. I get to do that as part of the work I do. It’s a privilege and I am so thankful to be able to hear good music and occasionally even great music. And, I am even grateful for the ability to hear and not enjoy music that isn’t so wonderful!

Yes. Ears to hear and eyes to see are both tremendous gifts and blessings from God. Today, I am encouraged to ramp up my awareness of these simple, significant gifts. To acknowledge the Giver and His goodness. More consistently.

There’s another dimension of hearing and seeing that is ours, too. An amazing gift from our Father…part of our new life in Christ. Beyond the physical. Beyond the obvious. A progression over time. Things changing, being made new, and renewed in us begin to change us. One of the best indicators is how we see and hear things differently than we did before. [Read more…]

Go for wisdom…

acquire wisdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 19:8 (NLT)
To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; 
people who cherish understanding will prosper.

ACQUIRE: to get as one’s own: to come into possession or control of: to come to have as a new or added characteristic, trait, or ability: to locate and hold a desired object: develop, cultivate (according to various dictionaries)

CHERISH: to hold dear: feel or show affection for: to keep or cultivate with care and affection: nurture: to entertain or harbor in the mind deeply and resolutely (according to Merriam-Webster)

PROSPER: to succeed in an enterprise or activity; especially: to achieve economic success: to become strong and flourishing: to burgeon (according to various dictionaries)

FLOURISH: to grow luxuriantly: thrive: to achieve success: prosper: to be in a state of activity or production: to reach a height of development or influence (according to Merriam-Webster)

BURGEON: to send forth new growth: bloom: to grow and expand rapidly: accelerate, accumulate, build up, increase, multiply, proliferate, rise, expand, gain, escalate, mount (according to Merriam-Webster)

Burgeoning sounds good to me! Flourishing is pretty spiffy, too!

I want to – acquire – get as my own, come into possession of, and have as a new and added characteristic, trait and ability…wisdom. I want to hold wisdom dear and precious, nurture it, cultivate it, entertain and keep wisdom in my thoughts purposely, and to have wisdom make its home in me.

When wisdom’s home is in me, I will succeed in a special and unique way and will become strong and will flourish. I will grow and thrive and flourish and be productive, fruitful and succeed richly (don’t just think money and things) at what I do. I will develop and grow and become large and strong in my purpose and calling and God will multiply the results of my efforts. This will influence others and point them to Him because my life will represent His goodness and His grace and is a witness and demonstration of Who He is and how He loves and blesses.

Wisdom prospers.

James 1:5 (NLT)
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

I need wisdom. Every day. In everything. More and more. I can so see where not accessing guidance and wisdom from God and leaning to my own strengths and ideas led to failures and less than His best in my life.

So, I am asking…

“Father God, You ARE generous. You ARE good. Your Word is true. I am asking for wisdom and according to James 1:5, You promise to give it to me. I will take it as my own and receive it from You as an added God-like and God given characteristic. I hold it dear and will nurture it and listen and take it deep…purposely and actively. I will put Your wisdom first and deep in my mind as I make choices and face each situation.”

“Father, I love how You love me. Your wisdom is for me and You are generous with it. You will never, ever keep it from me. Your Word says so. And, with it comes success and growth and strength and wholeness – prosperity – in every aspect of my life. You said so. With Your wisdom alive in me, others will see Your goodness working in my life and want You, too. What a gift, honor and privilege. I have You.”

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A New Kind of Christmas List

the everyday Christmas list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 21:14 (NLT)
A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury.

Proverbs 21:14 (MSG)
A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person;
 a heartfelt present cools a hot temper.

On the surface, this verse can so easily raise my resistance. A bribe? Really? REALLY????

Something to remember is the context and culture at the time it was written. Bribes were not necessarily bad. They were a normal part of conducting personal, business, and governmental affairs. And, it was ok.

But, the principle in the verse transcends that. There is practical wisdom and spiritual wisdom at work here.

Luke 6:27 tells us to do good to those who hate us. To love our enemies.

Mathew 5:9 equates being a peacemaker with being a son of God!

Romans 12:19 tells us to never avenge ourselves.

Romans 12:20-21 tells us to feed our enemy if he is hungry; to give him something to drink if he is thirsty. We are not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.

1 Corinthians 13 is what we call the “Love Chapter.” Be patient and kind. Don’t keep any list or record of wrong done to us. Don’t be irritable or resentful.

Mathew 7:12 says that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated.

Proverbs 15:1 reminds us not to meet anger with anger – that a soft answer calms the anger aimed at us.

We heard a minister preach a sermon along these lines several years ago. He said that if someone is angry at you or even doing hurtful and very wrong things to you, “put that person on your Christmas list.” This message came during a particularly gruesome time where some very horrible things were happening in and around our business. Things that weren’t right. Not fair. Lies told. Nightmare situations emerging. Real loss.

My husband recently found a note pad of mine from around that time. There was a page titled “Christmas List.” Under that heading, there was a list names and things I could do for those people. Without them even knowing it. My husband didn’t remember the message and was truly confused by the list. I reminded him and we laughed about it. We can now.

But, I will tell you that making that list and purposing to do good to and for people who were seriously destructive was a BIG challenge. “Pray” was next to each name. “Do not speak anything against him/her” also made the list. Several times. We gave a couple of gift cards for restaurants. To people bent on hurting us. I did some gentle and kind things anonymously. Not because it changed THEM. Not even because it changed the situation and issues. But, because it allowed something sweet and peaceful to begin working in me. In us.
 
It was pretty impossible to let the poison of bitterness, anger, hurt, vengeance, and hate swirl around inside me when I was thinking of ways to do good and to have compassion. I would love to tell you that situation was the last one where I’ve had that opportunity. It wasn’t. But, the principle works. Every time. It does a few of things…

#1 – It changes my thought patterns and focus. Instead of lasering in on what has or is being done wrong to me and me as a victim; it is actually empowering and quite freeing to switch to a different role.

#2 – It changes my ability to extricate myself from the emotional turmoil. I am able to open myself up to the healing,  direction, and wisdom of God in how to best navigate the circumstances and situation. When I am pulled inward by the pain, anger, indignation, shock, etc., it is very, very difficult to get above the emotions and operate in my spirit person and hear from God and see His plan and path to take me out of this and into a place of wholeness and restoration.

#3 – It changes the spiritual results and possibilities. It opens up fresh environment and willingness in me for the Holy Spirit to bring peace and newness. To move on and move up and not get stuck emotionally or spiritually.

Sometimes, it isn’t someone doing evil or bad things to us; it is just conflict or misunderstanding. And, (I know this is shocking!) we are usually quite sure that we are right and the other person is wrong. At the very least, they are wrong in their response and reaction. Making them wrong even if we were originally wrong. Right?

The great wisdom here is that it doesn’t matter. I was right? Ok. I wasn’t right? Ok, too. Oh. Well. The answer is the same. Gently, kindly, humbly…do something nice and generous and good. Quietly. Secretly. Not as a show for everyone else. Not as a show for them. Just to and for the person who is angry.

It can SO go against our grain. Hit our pride. Feel wrong. Seem counter-intuitive or even manipulative. We don’t want that person to think that we think they are right. We don’t want to be weak. We don’t want to be the first one to back down. We may not even be sure we want to continue any kind of relationship with them again. Ever.

Not the point.

[Read more…]

Let gratitude abound!

so much to be grateful for

My SELF

self

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-confident. Self-assured. Self-improvement. Self-made. Self-sufficient. Self-esteem. Self-discipline. Self-reliant. Self-preservation. Self-conscious. Self-control. Self-interest. Self-indulgent. Self-image. Self-important. Self-imposed. Self-fulfilling. Self-restraint. Self-satisfaction. Self-starter. Self-proclaimed. Self-promotion. Self-realization. Self-respect. Self-righteous. Ick. It really all comes down to being SELF-RIGHTEOUS.

In John 5:30, Jesus said, “I can do nothing on My own…”

And way too often, I think I can do so much by mySELF. If He could do nothing on His own; how much greater is my need?

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