In the story of the prodigal son, the older son was jealous and angry when he saw his father bless his younger brother. He was so focused on "his good works" and "his brother's sins," that he was unable to enjoy the benefits of being a son. He slaved for years trying to be "good enough" to earn his Father's approval and blessing when he already had it all along.
Can you relate to how the elder son felt? Have you ever felt jealous when someone else got blessed, or angry because you felt God was blessing someone who was less deserving than you? I love how the Father corrects these negative feelings in his eldest son's heart. He doesn't reprimand him for his anger, jealousy, judgement, or self-righteousness. In response to his anger, His Father simply reminds him of who he is. He says, "My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. So you can be happy for your younger brother and come celebrate his return with us."
He was inviting His son to live in His love by realizing that everything He had was already his to enjoy simply because he was his son.
Galatians 4:4-7 says, "But when the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves of the law, so that he could adopt us as His very own children. And because you have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son in your hearts, and you can call God your dear Father. Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are his child everything He has belongs to you. NLT
Heavenly Father, thank you for reminding me that I am your beloved child and everything You have belongs to me. I no longer have to live as a slave trying to earn your approval and blessing. I can live in Your love and enjoy the benefits of simply being your child because of Jesus!
You can watch the video teaching of week 4, "Living Securely in the Father's Love," at: http://www.becauseofjesus.com/video-broadcast
Posted by Connie at 8:59 AM
In my journey of learning to live securely in the Father’s love the understanding that because of Jesus my Heavenly Father will never be angry and punish me has brought such peace to my heart. When He corrects me it is always with love and compassion because I am His beloved child. I don’t really understand why people believe that God is still angry and punishing people for their sins when He made a very clear promise to us all in the book of Isaiah.
In Isaiah 54:8-10 our Heavenly Father says to me and you, 8 “…with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer. 9 “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. 10 For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you. NLT
In the story of the prodigal son, Jesus gives us a wonderful example of the Father keeping His promise. Here was a son who made bad choices and his life was a mess, but when the son decides to go back to his Father, his Father showers him with love and compassion. What a beautiful picture of our Heavenly Father’s unconditional love and compassion toward us when we have done wrong. He removes the shame of our sin by reminding us of who we are. He embraces us and kisses us with His words of love. Who wouldn’t want to run to a daddy like that? I know for me this understanding has totally changed my life and my relationship with my Heavenly Father. When I’ve done wrong, I run to Him because He is my safe refuge. He is waiting to correct my wrong opinion of myself with His love. He pours His love and compassion on me and I find myself completely loved by Him and free from the power of sin in my life. What a wonderful Daddy we all have!
Zephaniah 3:17 say, “The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.
We truly can live free in our Heavenly Father's unconditional, unchanging love because His good opinon of us never changes!
You can watch the video teaching of Week 4, "Living Securely in the Father's Love," at: http://www.becauseofjesus.com/video-broadcast
Posted by Connie at 6:56 AM
There is no one in all the world that is going to love us the way Jesus does. That’s why we can only find true security in our relationship with Him. In this world we all deal with people who disapprove of us or even reject us. I used to live with a sense of rejection. I worried about what people thought about me and their opinion affected my heart in a positive or negative way. This created insecurity in my heart.
Realizing that I am accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6) and allowing that truth to penetrate deep in my heart has brought such healing to my soul. My Heavenly Father loves me. He sent His Son to die for me to prove how valuable and important I am to Him. His thoughts about me are precious and He has a plan to prosper me and give me a hope and a future. If He is for me, who can be against me?
In today’s lesson, I love the example Jesus gave us to demonstrate how we can live free and secure in the Father’s love. Right after the Father said to Jesus, "You are My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased," the devil came immediately to question His identity. But listen to how Jesus responded, “I live by every word my Heavenly Father says about me.” (Matthew 4:3)
Jesus also faced disapproval and rejection from the people around Him. When they questioned His identity and judged Him badly, He responded in a similar way, “I do nothing without consulting My Father, and everything He says about me is true. Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me because you are not looking at me through my Father’s eyes.” (John 5:30-42)
And in John 8:14-55 Jesus said, "I say only what I have heard my Father say about me and what He says is true. If I were merely boasting about myself it wouldn’t count for anything, but it is my Father who says these glorious things about me and if I said anything about myself other than what my Father says I’d be as big a liar as you.”
This puts a whole new perspective on what it means to follow Jesus' example and be His disciple. I now know what it means to live securely in the Father's love. Just like Jesus, I do not judge myself without consulting the Father because everything He says is true. What others have to say or think about me means nothing if it isn’t in agreement with my Father. My Father says I am loved, abundantly blessed, favored, anointed, healed, accepted, approved, valuable, and complete in Christ. If I were merely boasting about myself it would mean nothing, but it is my Father who says these glorious things about me, and I assure you that everything He says about me is true.
We can live every day secure in the Father’s love by saying only what we hear our Heavenly Father say about us. What does your Heavenly Father say about you?
You can watch the video teaching of Week 4 of Living Loved at: http://www.becauseofjesus.com/video-broadcast
Posted by Connie at 9:31 PM
You shall establish yourself in righteousness…; you shall be far from even the thought of oppression or destruction, for you shall not fear, and from terror, for it will not come near you. Isaiah 54:13
I am continually amazed at the freedom that the gift of righteousness brings to my heart. When I live in the awareness of who I truly am in Jesus, the devil may try to throw his oppressing, negative thoughts at me, but I simply say, "No! I’m not listening to your lies. I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and God’s promises are true in my life!"
Psalm 112:6-8 says, “ a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear, in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.”
NO FEAR, SECURITY, and TRIUMPH are the fruit of being established in righteousness. I can live secure and confident in this world because of Jesus!
For the last 19 years, I have continually established my heart in the truth of God’s promises concerning my children. Even though the enemy has used negative circumstances to attempt to oppress me with his lies, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, Devil, I’m not listening to your lies! My Heavenly Father has spoken and what He says is true. His Spirit will not depart from my children and His Word will come forth from their lips (Isaiah 59:20,21)
Today I experienced the manifestation of that promise as I watched my children sing about what Jesus says about them in this You tube video. Listen as 3 of my precious children and two of their friends sing the song, "Talk to the hand devil, cuz this heart ain't listenen." We can all live free from the thought of oppression by being established in the truth that we are the righteouness of God in Christ Jesus and what He says about us is true!
Watch the video teaching of Living Loved, "An Oak of Righteousness," Week 3 at: http://www.becauseofjesus.com/video-broadcast
Posted by Connie at 7:56 AM
One of the amazing things that has happened in my heart since I began embracing the gift of righteousness is I find it so much easier to rest in the promises of God. I no longer have to figure out how to qualify for them. What qualifies me is being righteous and my Heavenly Father declares me righteous because of Jesus. Now when I read the promises God made to the righteous in the Bible, I can rest assured that He is talking about me in those verses.
One of the verses I have been thinking upon alot lately is:
Isaiah 32:17-18: "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be confident trust forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest."
When I embrace the gift of righteousness the fruit of my life is peace. Peace means prosperity, happiness, wholeness, health, nothing missing and nothing broken. My heart is made whole with His love.
The effect the gift of righteousness has on my heart is confident trust in the One Who loves me.
As I let this promise penetrate deep within my heart, I realize how much my Savior loves me to purchase such a powerful promise for not only my heart, but the hearts of my family as well.
In verse 18 God said, the home of the righteous would be filled with peace (happiness, health, prosperity, love) and we would enjoy undisturbed places of rest.
I want nothing more for my family than to know the love of Jesus and for their hearts to be filled with love, joy and peace: enjoying the life our Savior died to give us.
So now when I see one of my children or my husband discouraged or sad, or they are dealing with a negative attitude toward each other or someone else, when I since strife trying to enter my home, I remember what my Father, God spoke over my home because He made me righteous in Jesus, and I agree with Him.
I look to Him and say, "Thank you Father, that you have promised peace for each member of my family. You said my home would be filled with peace, our hearts would be secure in You, and we would experience undisturbed places of rest. I am trusting You to bring peace to my husband and my children's hearts because everything you say about me and my home is true. Thank you, for your gift of righteousness. I can rest in your love."
I can't even explain what peace comes to my heart when my thoughts are filled with this promise. He truly is able to bring peace and joy into the hearts of everyone I love!
You can watch the video teaching of week 3 of Living Loved at: http://www.becauseofjesus.com/video-broadcast
Posted by Connie at 1:23 PM
I’ve been a Christian my entire life, but it took over 20 years for me to begin to truly embrace the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, I had asked Jesus into my heart to be my Savior, but I didn’t understand my new identity in Christ. What my heart heard all those years was what I needed “to do” to be righteous enough to earn God’s promised blessings and approval.
You know why that’s not good news? If you and I have to depend on our perfect obedience to be righteous and worthy of God’s promised blessings than we’re all disqualified. We’ve all disobeyed God. We we’re all declared sinners. That’s why we needed a Savior. We could never be righteous by our own good works, so Jesus proved His love for us by giving us His perfect righteousness as a free gift. That’s the reason He went to the cross to make it possible for us all to be made righteous in Him (Isaiah 53:3-11)
The Message of Good News is the Gift of Righteousness!
II Corinthians 5:19-21 says, “He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God. For God made Christ who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!
What does it mean to be given this wonderful gift of righteousness? Righteousness means to be declared innocent, free from guilt, and justified; the person justified is declared to be entitled to all the advantages and rewards arising from perfect obedience to the law. It is the crediting to the believer by God Himself the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:17 tells us that, “those who receive the gift of righteousness will reign in life through Jesus Christ.
What about “it’s a gift,” did I not understand for so many years? I don’t have to work for it. I don’t have to earn it. Jesus paid for this gift for me with His blood. All I have “to do” is receive it and enjoy all the benefits of it. Jesus gave you and I His very nature and qualified us for every promised blessing of God by giving us His perfect righteousness as a free gift of His love. All the promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen” in our lives because we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!
I no longer listen to those sermons that tell me there are 5 steps to prosperity, healing, answered prayer, etc. I’ve been made righteous in Jesus and I qualify because of Him. I am abundantly blessed, healed, favored, approved, and victorious in Jesus. Righteousness is the greatest gift of love ever given and I am so thankful for what my Jesus did for me!
You can watch the video teaching of week 3 of Living Loved at: http://www.becauseofjesus.com/video-broadcast
Posted by Connie at 2:07 PM
Why does it seem easier sometimes to hold onto the lies of the devil, rather than to truly embrace the truth of God’s promises? I know for many years of my life the reason I held onto the lies is because I feared I’d be disappointed. And yet the reality was I lived in disappointment because I wouldn’t let go of the lies. Disappointment surrounded me. I was disappointed with myself, my marriage, my husband, with God, my finances, and I lived with a fear that my life would never change and the desires of my heart would never come to pass. Even though I heard, “All things are possible with God,” my heart believed the lie that it probably wasn’t going to happen for me.
The devil deceived me into believing that if I truly trusted God, I’d just end up disappointed, so I thought I was protecting my heart from that pain by holding onto this lie, when all along this lie was creating the pain and keeping me in bondage to disappointment.
Agreeing with the lies of the devil created so many broken places in my heart that when the truth was presented to me it just leaked out of the holes in my heart. Just like the parable of the sower, the enemy came immediately to steal the truth so that it never produced God’s promise in my life. I remember being so filled with doubt and unbelief that my heart became hard and angry. I was miserable. The lie I thought was protecting me was actually bringing death to every area of my life.
I can remember like it was yesterday the day my heart began to heal. I cried out to God from the depths of my heart. I so desperately wanted to be free. “Jesus, help me! Show me the truth that will set me free. Help me to trust You with all of my heart.” That simple prayer has totally changed my life.
Now that I know that negative emotions are symptoms of believing the devil’s lies, every day when the devil throws his lies at my heart, I have a choice to make. I now know if I hold onto the lie, it will produce death in my soul; so once again I turn to the One Who loves me and say, “Lord, show me the truth of your love. Set my heart free.” He is so faithful to whisper once again His words of love into the depths of my heart and then gives me the power to trust that what He says about me and my family is the absolute TRUTH! I am who my Father says I am because of Jesus!
My life has been totally transformed by letting go of the lies and agreeing with the One Who loves me. I no longer live in disappointment. The truth has set me free. I continue to experience the abundant life that Jesus came to give me because the truth is “those who agree with Jesus and put their trust in Him will never be disappointed” (Romans 10:33)
Be encouraged by viewing the video teaching of week 2 of Living Loved at: http://www.becauseofjesus.com/video-broadcast
Posted by Connie at 9:15 AM
In II Corinthians 11:2 & 3 the Apostle Paul said that we have been presented
to Jesus as His pure and righteous bride, but he feared that just as the devil deceived Eve with his lies, our minds would also be corrupted from our pure devotion to Jesus. Every day the devil prowls around looking for one of God's beloved children to devour (I Peter 5:5,9). He throws his lies at our minds in an attempt to fill our hearts with insecurity and fear. He wants us to question God's love and faithfulness and our true identity in Jesus.
My heart experiences both positive and negative emotions. Just as pain in my body is an indicator that sickness is trying to attack my body, pain in my heart is an indicator that the devil's lies are attacking my mind. And just as Jesus is the Healer of our bodies, He is also the Healer of our hearts. He loves us so much that He came for us to experience wholeness in our spirit, soul, and body! When we become aware that negative emotions are symptoms of the devil's lies we can break free from their affect on our hearts by turning to the One Who loves us.
Every day I am very much aware of how my heart feels, I want more than anything to live in my Heavenly Father's perfect will and experience His promises in every area of my life. My heart is an indicator of whose voice I am listening to and whose plan I am experiencing in my life. So whenever my heart feels negative emotions, I turn to Jesus and say, "Lord, what lie is the devil tempting me to believe? Show me the truth that will set me free." With the lie exposed to the light of Jesus, it dissipates in the truth of His love. I find myself once again experiencing positive emotions, my heart filled with the fullness of God- living loved and living free!
Be encouraged by this week's video teaching of Living Loved Living Free at: http://www.becauseofjesus.com/video-broadcast
Posted by Connie at 9:20 PM
John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance to the full, until it overflows.”
As I was reading this Scripture out of today’s study, the Holy Spirit really impressed on my heart to go back and read the context of this Scripture. It became very clear to me that we experience abundant life when we listen to the Shepherd’s voice. When we listen to His voice, we come to Him and find salvation (John 10:9). Salvation literally means wholeness, peace, health, happiness, and life. The Lexical aids defines it as “inclusive of all of God’s blessings.”
The thief is anyone or any voice that tries to deceive the sheep to go through a different door (besides Jesus) to find wholeness and salvation for their soul (John 10:1, 5-8). We all know that the devil is behind every deception because he is a liar and the author of all lies (John 8:44). He comes in many forms, but always for the same purpose: to steal, kill, and destroy the people that God loves.
I am aware that there is a fight going on for my heart. I hear my Shepherd’s voice drawing me to Himself. He knows if I’ll listen to and receive His love, I'll live free and my heart will be made whole-filled with love, joy and peace, but there is another voice of deception attempting to draw me away, tempting me to look somewhere else to meet the needs of my heart so that I remain broken-full of insecurity, fear and disappointment.
That’s why our Heavenly Father admonishes us so strongly with His words of love in Proverbs 4:20-23: “My child, Pay attention to what I say. Listen closely to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
The voice I choose to listen to determines the course of my life. The abundant life that Jesus came to give you and me is found in listening to the One Who loves us and letting His words of life penetrate deep into our hearts. Today He is saying, “My child, listen to me when I say, “In Christ, You are approved! You are favored! You are blessed! You are qualified! I’ll take care of you! I’ll work all things together for your good! I’ll perfect that which concerns you! Trust Me, I am able to do beyond what you could hope or dream. I love you, dearly!”
What peace and wholeness fills our soul, when we listen to the One Who loves us and think deeply upon His words of love. As we agree with the One Who loves us, we truly experience the abundant life that our Savior came to give us.
Watch the video teaching of week 2 of Living Loved Living Free, "The Fight for your Heart," at: http://www.becauseofjesus.com/video-broadcast
Posted by Connie at 3:41 PM