Walk in Love

Mark 11:25 — “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop” (AMP).

This verse comes right after Jesus talked to the disciples about believing God and speaking forth His promises. Our faith works by love. If you’ve been standing on God’s promises and are not seeing results, you might need to check your love walk. Prophet Kenneth E. Hagin once said, “Many times believers miss out on what God has for them because they choose to be offended and refuse to walk in love and forgive.”

My husband and I carry the message of forgiveness all over the world. We have walked through many trials, as I’m sure you have. Sometimes we initially failed to walk in love and had to repent and start over. But God is faithful, and the Holy Spirit is a good Helper. We must simply yield to Him and His leading. When offense comes, we must choose to forgive and love just like Jesus forgave and loved us.

If you are struggling with an offense, bring it to the cross today and leave it there. Forgive your offender and move forward in love. Mountains will move when we believe, speak, and walk in the God-kind of love.

Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love (NKJV).

—Heidi Jonker

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General Sherman

Zechariah 13:9 — “I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God’” (NLT).

General Sherman is a cut above the scores of sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park. With a height of 275 feet and a diameter of 25 feet, it weighs in at a whopping 2.7 million pounds and is an estimated 2,300-2,700 years old. General Sherman is the largest known living tree by volume on the planet.

Giant sequoia trees naturally grow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range at elevations between 5,000-7,000 feet above sea level. At that elevation, the trees are provided with the rare combination of dry air and snow (water) they need in order to thrive. But even in these ideal conditions, I found it interesting that a sequoia’s health largely depends on fire.

Fire suppression helps sequoias release the seeds from their cones, recycle nutrients in the soil, reduce competition from other trees, and remove undergrowth. You could say fire has played, and continues to play, a pivotal role in fortifying one of the world’s strongest living things—General Sherman.

Fire plays a similar role in the life of a believer. In Zechariah 13:9, God Himself said He will bring His people (you and me) through the fire in order to purify them. When you walk through the fire, be sure God has a purpose for it. He wants to burn up the things in your life that stunt growth and boost those things that stimulate health. Embrace the season you’re in and know God is making good use of it.

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Surely, All, and Forever

Psalm 23:6 — Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (NKJV).

There are three words that jumped out at me when I read this verse—surelyall, and forever. All three are definite. The word surely implies something is definitely going to happen; you can count on it. All means every or total, not lacking. The word forever means never-ending or eternal. Now I want to direct your attention to the phrases these words are attached to in Proverbs 23:6. Be encouraged today!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you. Have you ever been followed before? I have. Being followed by someone is usually annoying or creepy, but God’s goodness and mercy can tail me anytime. His goodness is His unmerited favor. Who wouldn’t want that? His mercy is what keeps us from getting what we deserve. Hallelujah! How awesome!

But not only are His goodness and mercy surely going to follow you, they’re surely going to follow you all the days of your life. That means God has a fresh dose of goodness and mercy for you every single day. When you wake up in the morning, His favor is upon you and His mercies are made new. Perhaps you needed to be reminded of this truth today. God has an endless supply of goodness and mercy stockpiled, and He liberally provides it to all of His kids!

Lastly, David said you would dwell in the house of the Lord foreverThe Amplified Bible says His presence will be our dwelling place the length of our days. It is not God’s intention for anyone to ever live outside of His presence. He is readily available at all times; we simply fail to acknowledge Him. Recognize His presence, and get ready for His goodness and mercy to follow you.

Lamentations 3:23 — Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning (NLT).

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Everyone Must Submit

Romans 13:1-2 — Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by GodSo anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished (NLT).

With all of the political, civil, and social turmoil in our great nation, I was reminded of this passage in Romans. There are few truths I want to draw out from these verses, and I pray they serve as a reminder to you as well. While we cannot control how others treat and respond to authority, you can control you, and I can control me. So let’s do this.

The first three words of these verses jumped off the page at me: Everyone must submit. The word submit is defined as to accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority of another person. Let me put it to you straight: No one is exempt from honoring the established authorities—local, state, or federal. This truth also covers authorities such as parents, teachers, and bosses—anyone who is in leadership over you. Everyone must submit.

The second truth that caught my attention is all authority comes from God; He placed them there. This is very difficult to understand, especially if a person in leadership is crooked, immoral, or just a poor leader in general. I’ve often wondered, “How in the world did So-and-So get into that position? He or she must have slid in under God’s radar.” No, He put them where they are. Nothing catches Him by surprise, and we are to submit to them whether we agree or not. Period.

Lastly, God promises those who don’t honor authority will be punished. Anyone who does not submit is in rebellion, and the one who rebels in secret will be held just as accountable as the one who openly defies authority. Insurgent social media posts and displays of violence may have different earthly consequences, but they fall under the same category in God’s eyes—sin. I don’t know what the punishment for rebelling against God’s authority is, but I certainly don’t want to find out.

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No Dispute

Colossians 2:14 — He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross (NLT).

Several years ago, I was checking the account balance of our credit card when I noticed a certain vendor had overcharged us. As a matter of fact, we had been charged twice for a transaction that was in excess of three hundred dollars! Needless to say, I was not amused, but I understood these kinds of accidents happen on occasion.

I quickly got the credit card company on the phone and disputed the charge. Over the next few weeks, I had to endure the charge-disputing process. It started with the phone call. I told my side of the story and why the charge should be removed from my account. Moments later my online account noted the dispute, and then a few days later I received a letter from the credit card company stating the vendor had been notified of the charge in question. It was quite frustrating, especially since I was innocent.

I checked our online account every day to see if the charge had been dropped, and every day it was still there. It indicated the charge was being disputed, but my credit limit was still affected by it. Though it was in dispute, the charge was held against me. Finally, after weeks of waiting, the charge was canceled, and my account balanced. Peace at last.

I am so thankful there is not a charge-disputing process when it comes to canceling our record of sin. There actually is no dispute! You don’t have to plead your case before God and tell Him why certain charges should be dropped. He canceled your record by nailing it to the cross with Jesus. Hallelujah!

Don’t forfeit your peace fretting over charges God has already dropped and forgotten through Christ. There is no waiting period. You have been vindicated and are innocent of all charges right now!

Romans 8:33 — Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies (NKJV).

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Start to Finish

Romans 5:3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance (NASB).

The world is full of starters, but there are far fewer finishers. Many people are gung-ho at the onset of certain tasks, but once there is the slightest opposition, they lose heart and give up. Perhaps you are one of them. God’s desire is for you to develop perseverance in every area of your life. He wants you to be a finisher and to remain motivated when faced with difficulty.

A lot of people flee from adversity because they are scared of conflict. They avoid hardship, but many times God leads us into trials. He allows us to walk through tough times in order to develop perseverance in us. Most people lack the ability to finish because they either run or quit when they encounter adverse circumstances. Perseverance only develops when your faith is tested (James 1:3).

Not finishing what you start is a sign of immaturity. James 1:4 says, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (NIV). If you don’t discipline yourself to finish what you start, you will never be a complete person. You will lack confidence, and your faith will stumble.

Being a finisher requires great strength and self-control. The devil doesn’t want you to finish things, so he fights you every step of the way. He attacks your spirit, soul, and body. But you must remember you are fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). My wife Heidi says it is a good fight because we are fighting from victory, not for victory. Hallelujah!

Be encouraged: Do not quit! Finish what you start. God has given you the grace you need to complete the task at hand. May your level of endurance increase today.

James 1:12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him(NIV).

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Are We There Yet?

1 Peter 4:19 — So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good (NIV).

Have you ever gone on a long, car trip with small children? If not, maybe you have been the small child on a long, car trip. If you’re like me, you’ve experienced it both ways. When I was little, my parents chauffeured my sister and me all over the United States from Carrollton, Texas. (There are not many states I haven’t been to because of our marathon family trips.)

We drove to Yellowstone in Wyoming, Disney World in Orlando, Seattle, D.C., Las Vegas, and more. We even drove to Toronto and Vancouver in Canada! The car rides were less than desirable, and my sister and I probably blurted out, “Are we there yet?” hundreds of times.

I can’t complain, though. I’ve had the rare opportunity to see Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. I’ve snow skied in both Colorado and New Mexico. I’ve seen the Golden Gate Bridge and walked Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Reaching the final destination was always the highlight of my childhood travels, but I did not fully appreciate the thousands of miles we drove in order to get there. I just wanted to be there fast. Some trips were smooth and easy, but others were long and exhausting.

The same is true as we travel down the road to God’s will. Many times you will enjoy mountaintop experiences, but other times God will lead you through valleys. Perhaps you are suffering today as you faithfully follow God’s direction. Maybe you’ve recently asked Him, “Am I there yet?” I want to encourage you not to give up. Keep in mind it is on the road to His will that your character is built. Lastly, enjoy the trip and be willing to endure because the final destination is worth it.

Psalm 51:12 — Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (NIV).

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