Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Treat it Sacred. Keep it Private.

Recently while shopping, I had the privilege of standing in a long line, waiting to check out two small items for a teenage granddaughter. It was just a few days before Christmas, it was hectic, I was tired and wondering what in the world I was doing here, and if I could find these two little things somewhere else where the line wasn't so long. (I've promised to do better next Christmas.)

The line began moving slowly and I noticed three young women, obviously shopping together. They were a few shoppers in front of me, and they had their heads together, giggling, and then one just laughed out loud. And my thought was: "Glad y'all are having a good time." Then the lady in front of me stepped out of line to get something else, (why oh why would you do that?) and I was able to move ahead. Another shopper got fed up and left also, and then I was right behind them and I could hear their conversation. And I wished I couldn't. One of the young women was verbally degrading her husband and making jokes about something that should have been very private between just the two of them. But it got me thinking: how many times do we, out of frustration or anger, "vent" to our girlfriends about our husband?

Ladies, there are some things that are just sacred and private in your relationship with your husband, and if you choose to share those sacred and private things with other women, you are doing damage to your marriage and to your husband's dignity that will not be easily repaired. You are also creating an image of him in the minds of your friends that will cause them to loose respect for him, or worse...see him as a "joke".

The wife in Proverbs 31 made sure her husband was well respected in the city gates by how she spoke of him and how she treated him with respect. (v23)
Her husband's heart could trust her, knowing that she would do good things for him. (v12)
She spoke with wisdom and kindness. (v26). It is never wise or kind to reveal sacred and private things to others.
Her husband sang her praises to the high heaven because she was a wife who knew how to love and respect him and she influenced others to think highly of him by her example.

Do you want your husband to be a stronger leader in your home and church?
What are saying about him in public? Even things that seem cute and innocent to us can be things that might be embarrassing to him and give a wrong impression to others.

Do you want your husband to be respected and looked up to by his peers?
What are you saying about him to your girlfriends? It may be funny at the time, but when they tell their husbands, (his peers) it may not be so funny and cause him to loose their respect.

Do you want your husband to be more open, share his heart, his hopes and dreams for your future?
Then he must be able to trust you with his heart, his hopes and his dreams, knowing you won't reveal his private thoughts to anyone.

God loves your marriage and He wants you to love it, too. Love it by treating it as sacred and private and watch how God will bless your marriage. And the cool thing is, when you get serious about doing your part in keeping things sacred and private, just watch that husband of yours grow and mature into the man God created him to be. God has given you the blessing of playing a major role in your husband's success and we do that by keeping the intimate parts of our relationship sacred and private. One day I promise you, you will be so thankful you did.

And just one more thing: how you treat your marriage, and how you talk to and about your husband will have a huge impact on how your kids respect their Dad, and how they treat their future husband/wife.
Eph. 4:29: "Let no corrupt communication proceed from your mouth, but that which is good and builds up, that it may minister grace to those who hear you speak." Powerful words. And all the more reason to
Treat it sacred. Keep it private.

Penny

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

High Maintenance Relationship? 3 Ways to Improve Every Relationship.

Are you in a relationship that is......hard? It may be with your sister or brother, a parent, friend at work, someone at your church, or maybe your relationship with your husband or child is going through a difficult period and when you are together it is just..hard.

A relationship that is "high maintenance" can affect every single part of our lives. Ever loose a good night's sleep because you kept reliving in your mind the angry words, the strained silences? When a difficult relationship goes on too long, it can even affect our health; we can't eat or...we eat all the time, our work and productivity suffer, and...we take our feelings and emotions out on those we love.

Maybe one of your New Year's resolutions ( I prefer to call them goals) is to work harder at those hard relationships and the place to start is with ourselves. In Proverbs 8, Solomon has some great advice on lots of things pertaining to life, but especially on how to improve our relationships with those we love and care about. The New Year is a great time to purge some old feelings and "hang ups" as we used to call them, and look at life from a different perspective. But good relationships don't "just happen". They take work and a lot of love. There are so many things that go into building strong marriages, good parenting, life long friendships, and strong family bonds, but here are 3 things every believer can build into every single relationship we have and we can begin to see an improvement almost instantly. You may have others and I hope you will share them with us, because every woman I know struggles from time to time with a relationship that is "high maintenance."

In v6 Solomon said, "Hear;" And in my Bible there is a semi-colon after the word, hear. Solomon says to his sons: "hear;" and then he pauses. And when the wisest man in all the world, (not to mention the richest and most powerful) says "hear" then doesn't immediately say anything else, I'd stop what I was doing and "hear"!

The first thing that will make or break a relationship is: Truth.

In v7 Solomon says: "I am going to tell you the truth."
Always telling the truth is the cornerstone of good relationships. Without it, we have no integrity. In our marriage, truth is everything. In parenting, truth is everything. In our relationships with friends, co-workers, church family, if we aren't known for our honesty and truthfulness, we cannot be trusted.
Ladies, it is difficult to say the hard thing. It is difficult to speak truth when a lie would get us so much further down the road. But Solomon also wrote in chapter 31 that a husband's heart can safely trust his wife, and he can trust her because she tells him the truth.
Children need to know Mom tells the truth. They listen when we talk on the phone, when we talk to their Dad and grandparents, the pastor, our neighbors, and they hear the discrepancies. Truth equals trust, and without truth we have no trust.

Consistency .

I have little patience with moody people. I look at it this way; we all have troubles, we all get mad, but that doesn't give me the right to ruin your day with my bad mood.

So here's the scenario: you and your husband have a silly argument on the way to church. You walk into your SS class with the "look" on your face, don't speak or if you do it is a short answer, and that is the signal to "stay out of my way."
But please get this: Being moody is another way of bullying people to do what you want them to do. It is a way of controlling people and situations and it will do more to alienate people than just about anything else you can do. When someone is in a bad mood, what do we do? We try to get them in a good mood by giving them what they want. And when we do that, we are enabling them to abuse us. Yes Ma'am we do. And the more we give in the more they control others by their moods and it is a vicious cycle that we can't break out of. And Mom, kids catch on very quickly. Teens soon learn that a "mood" can work on just about anything. A "sulled up" face in the grocery store can get a Milky Way. And a few tears can get bedtime extended another 30 minutes. But here is the sad thing; moody people sabotage their own relationships and they don't even realize it. Ladies, we don't speak or act wisely when we are moody. And.....we loose the respect of others. Get out of that bad mood, fake it till you can actually smile, and don't put your family and everyone else through another one of your "moods."

If you are sick; say so. If you are angry: say so. If you are in trouble: say so. Someone will appreciate your honesty and actually want to help you through it. It really does work! Lack of consistency in how we treat others is a form of evil peer pressure and it will destroy relationships. Ask God to help you approach every situation, every relationship with consistency. Consistency in our speech, in our actions. You will be amazed at how instantly your relationship with your husband and kids will improve when they see you responding (not reacting) consistently to everything, no matter what it is, with the same quiet, gentle, trusting spirit every single time. Yes, we will get upset. Yes, we will get scared, frustrated, concerned, even angry. But when we determine to respond in a non-threatening way, not hold a grudge, it builds respect into our relationships, not to mention tons of trust.

Forgive.

Memory is a wonderful thing. The older I get, the more sweet memories I have. But memory ceases to be a good thing when I remember the hurt someone caused me. The untruths, the criticisms, the hurt feelings can soon become a grudge and if left to itself, a grudge can become bitterness to my soul.

The only way to blot out a bad memory is to forgive. Proverbs 10:12: "hatred", or holding onto a grudge will stir up a fight or trouble in a relationship; but what will love do?

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, there was not one single sin that His shed blood did not cover. Jesus forgives all sins. There are no big sins, no little sins, they are all sin.

In Matthew 18:21, Peter asked Jesus how many times should I forgive someone; 7 times? And what did Jesus say, verse 22?

The point is, forgiveness should be so automatic, so part of our forgiven nature, that we forgive. We forgive when we are asked to forgive, and when we are not. We forgive when the other person acknowledges what they have done, and when they do not. We forgive when we want to, and we forgive when we do not.
Marriage will not survive without forgiveness. We cannot be successful parents without forgiveness. We cannot have good relationships in our church, with our friends and family, in our job, without forgiveness.
We forgive because "love covers all sins." Proverbs 10:12.

You may be starting this new year with a difficult relationship looking you square in the face. You've tried being nice, you've tried getting along to just get along, you've told them what they wanted to hear, you've looked the other way. Try these 3 things in that relationship and don't just try them once;
allow them to become who you are.

Truthful.
Build integrity into every relationship by being someone who can be trusted to tell the truth.

How you live your life; consistent. Don't try to control people and situations by your moods. Pay attention to how you treat people, put a smile on your face and don't let your mood dictate how you act or react.

How you respond; forgiving. And every time that memory or bad thought about someone comes up, say out loud if possible, or in your heart if you can't say it out lout, "I forgive." Forgiving isn't for the other person and forgiving doesn't mean it was ok for them to hurt you and it doesn't mean you'll just forget it and go on; it means I am releasing myself from holding a grudge and allowing bitterness to eat a whole in my heart.

Ladies, God wants you and me to make an impact on our world. He wants us to be women of truth, consistency, and forgiveness. In this new year, don't be content with those "high maintenance" relationships that drain you physically, spiritually, and mentally. Invest some truth, consistency, and forgiveness into each one and watch how God can turn that high maintenance drama into peace.

Happy New Year, I'd love to hear from you!
Penny

Friday, December 11, 2015

Parenting Through the "Morally Formative Years."

I don't like bullies. I don't like the fear and humiliation they impose on others and I don't like seeing the self esteem of a child crumble under the vengeful eye of a bully. I have been bullied and.....I have bullied. In some instances, it wasn't meant to be taken in that way, but it simply happened because I was careless with my words or actions. Then there were those times when it was a simple matter of revenge, that "I'll get you back" attitude. And oh how sad to see a Mom bully her own children. The one person a child should be able to trust and depend upon, becomes the one whom her child fears and is forced to suffer the humiliation of being bullied.

For some, bullying is hurtful words, embarrassing pranks or being left out of the group. But for some, it means the loss of life, the ultimate extreme of bullying.

Like every Mom who loves her children, my heart broke as news reports gave the details involving the murder of Tyshawn Lee, a 9 year old boy who was lured into a situation that he never returned from. And those details reminded me of the suicide of a young high school student several years ago, Phoebe Prince. Two very different situations; Tyshawn was murdered, Phoebe took her own life, but the result was loss of life before either of them had an opportunity to live it.

I remember where I was when I heard of Phoebe's death; in my car, listening to Break Point with Charles Colson. The nation was shocked when the details revealed that she had been the subject of many lies, pranks, humiliations, most of which involved social media and it had become so intense that this 15 year old girl felt she had no way out. In his commentary, Mr. Colson made this statement that has stuck with me for years and caused me to try and do a better job of influencing the children in my realm of influence to know and understand that morality is important, it matters, and this was his statement;
"Children are no longer trained by loving parents in their morally formative years."

Morally formative years. Those precious short years from birth through 7 or 8 when our value system, our sense of right and wrong, our conscience, our sense of compassion and empathy for others, our value of human life are shaped and developed. It is the time when the foundation of our moral and ethical code is laid down and if that foundation isn't laid by morally strong adults, it will become a crumbling foundation that devalues people and their feelings, their rights, and their very lives.

With all the chaos that invades our lives and our homes, the influence of the media, movies, books and music, how can Moms and Dads shape the ethics and morality of their young children? Well I certainly don't have all the answers, but I'd like to share a few things that I believe are necessary in raising children with good ethics and morals during their morally formative years:

1. Mom and Dad must be on the same team.
Satan is a divider. His agenda is to divide you and your husband on moral and parenting issues so that he can conquer your family. Don't let him. Your husband has a responsibility that you, Mom, will never have; he is the God-appointed leader of your home and your family and God will require an accountability of him that He will not require of you. (our accountability is for another post at another time.) Your husband needs you to be on his side, make sure you have his back. You are the key player in your husband's success as a leader and you'll help him succeed when you let him lead and together you will present a united front to your kids that says, "We love you too much to allow you to "raise yourself." (another post for another time, lol)
When parents communicate with each other, it is so much easier for them to communicate with their kids. There's just something about working together in our marriage that God puts His blessing on and it spills over into our parenting and our kids reap the benefits. Mark 3:25 tells us this: "A house (family) divided against itself cannot stand."

2. It's the day to day living that makes the biggest impression on our kids.
Wouldn't it be so nice if we could do 1 or 2 big parenting things a week and that's all it took to raise kids who possess high standards of right and wrong? But it doesn't work that way. God has given us the 1st 10 or so years of our children's lives to teach them right from wrong, good from evil, the truth from a lie, but we can't wait until they are even 6, 7, or 8; we have to start when they are babies by building trust. As we are building trust, we add to it things like kindness, being polite, helping others, being careful how they speak and respond, insisting on respect and showing them respect, gentleness, being careful with our tone of voice, and a good ole fashioned "yes Ma'am" never goes out of style. Seeing morality in the daily lives of their parents goes a long way in shaping their own morality.

3. Children must be taught right from wrong, good from evil.
And Mom, we have to take it up a step; we have to make a concerted effort to teach our kids right from wrong. We can't expect someone else to do our job. It is not the responsibility of the church or the school to parent our kids. It is our job. A good church, a good school will re-enforce our teaching, but Mom, "the buck stops here." We're the adults and we need to act like it. Teach them to be kind. Show them what it means to show and accept love. Show them compassion for others. Expect them to tell the truth, be honest, not take things that do not belong to them. Teach them by example that it is not ok to make fun of others, call someone a derogatory name, do harm to someone's reputation or to them physically.

Kids need to be held to an accountability for their actions, but the accountability starts with us. Do the Mom thing and train your children in their "morally formative years", those precious, fleeting years when their conscience and morality are formed. Train them to care about people and to see people as created in the image of God. There are no "do overs" when it comes to parenting; it's a one time gig. Love your kids, make sure they feel secure in your love, then put everything you have into teaching them that they are important and valuable to God............... but so is everyone else.

Penny

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Let's Put it to the "Good" Test.

Ladies, no funny stories or cute little posts, here it is:
James 4:17 says this: "To you who knows to do what is good and right and does not do it, to him it is sin."
Blunt, plain, simple.

This past Sunday our pastor reminded us of this verse then he explained it. Little by little, step by step and for the first time I really understood what James was saying and how to apply it to my life.

Is it good to attend Sunday School and Church? Then not to attend is___________.
Is it good to be honest, kind, compassionate, trustworthy? Then not to be is_______.
Is it good to be obedient to the prompting of the Spirit? Then dis-obedience is_____.
Is it good to love our husband and children, work at our marriage and not give up on it, pray for wisdom in raising our kids and give it everything we have? Then not to is_________.
Is it good to dress modestly and appropriately? Then not to is ________.
Is it good to read our Bible regularly, "pray without ceasing", tell others about Jesus? Then not to is _____.

You get the idea, right?

We live in a day when everything we say and do is expected to be politically correct, we aren't to offend and we sure aren't to be offended, we are to be tolerant of all lifestyles, and we are to accept a woman's right to choose as the meter and standard by which all of our decisions are made. And for heaven's sake we better not say that little 3 letter word _______.

Ladies, let's stop making excuses; let's stop trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong and put it to the "good" test and let that be the determining factor in every single issue and circumstance in our lives that comes into question. People are watching. They need to know that there is a standard and it is a high one. But would we want any less for our "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace. Lord of Lords and King of Kings?" He deserves our very best because He is so worthy, so worthy.

Is it good? Then not to is _____.

Penny

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to His People?

Kids love to ask questions, right? From the time they begin putting 3 or 4 words together, they soon learn to form a question and from that moment on, their lives are a sponge of questions, asking, then soaking in the answers. But.....sometimes they ask a question when the answer is obviously right in front of them.

Recently our son was preaching and I was holding our 2 year old grandson, Isaac. He is a Daddy's boy right now, (and we know that can change quickly at this age) and just before his Daddy had gotten up to preach, he had been sitting in Daddy's lap. Daddy is preaching away and Isaac looked at me and asked, "Where Daddy go?" The answer was obvious, Daddy was right in front of him, but his expression was so sweet, so innocent, all I could do was hug him close and say, "Daddy's right up there, he's preaching."

I've asked God many questions; have you? But only recently did I find the answer to the most obvious question of my life; "Why God?" And it was right there in His word all along.

There are so many things that come into our lives that have us scratching our head and asking, "Why, Lord? Why did that happen to me? Why did that happen to her? Why did I have to endure that experience? Why am I sick? Why did she suffer that loss? They are such good people and they have been through so much, why? Where do I go from here? Who can help me?"

In Deuteronomy 8, the children of Israel are almost home. They are so close they can smell the grapes and taste the milk and honey. I can just imagine being a Hebrew woman who has lived in a tent for 40 plus years and the idea of a real home, real stability and security are just a few short miles away and close enough to smell and taste. I am not a camper and would not fare well as a tent dweller. I can chalk up 2 camping experiences in my life and they were not pleasant, I was not a happy camper. But for the Israelites, the camping out is almost over.

I have been a believer for many years. I have read the book of Deuteronomy many times, taught lessons from it, and read stories of God's deliverance that have built my faith. But only last week, my son shared this scripture with me and answered my often asked question; "Why does God allow bad things to happen to His people?"

If your Bible is close by, I encourage you to open it to Deut. 8:3; you will want to mark or hi-lite this verse and meditate on it, and commit it to memory. The entire chapter is a great read and in that chapter, Moses is looking back at his life and all he and the children of Israel have been through in over 40 years of journeying together. In v3, God says to Moses:

"I humbled you, I allowed you to be hungry, so that "I" could feed you." (emphasis on the word "I" is mine.)

Oh ladies, is that not earth shaking to you? It is to me. God only allows hurtful, terrible things into our lives so that He can be the One to "feed us." He allows those hurts and situations to invade our tightly knit families and perfect little worlds so that He can be the One to take care of us, to teach us, to lead us. God loves us so much that He doesn't want anyone else to feed us, He wants to do that Himself, and the only way He can feed us is to allow us to get hungry.

Food is our most basic need in life. The Israelites got hungry and God gave them manna from heaven. They knew where it came from and from that time forward every generation knew that they were hungry in the wilderness and their Jehovah Jireh, the Lord Who provides all our needs, fed them.

Today you may be hungry. You may be physically hungry with no way to buy food for your family. You may be spiritually hungry and need to hear from God. You may be sick; emotionally, physically or relationally and you need Jehovah Roi, the God Who sees us, to come right to where you are and "feed you."

Until we are in Heaven with Him, we will always ask "Why?" We will wonder and speculate, we'll try to figure it out and still we won't know the whole answer to our question, "Why does God allow bad things to happen to His people?" But today I do know this; He allows me to endure the hardships of this life so that I will know beyond a shadow of doubt that it is Him, my Lord and Savior Who feeds me and meets each and every one of my needs.

The next time you face a situation that threatens your peace of mind and stirs up your fear and causes you to wonder "Why", tell your Omnipotent Father that you are hungry and you are trusting Him to feed you.

Penny

Sunday, October 4, 2015

How Do We Fight Fear? With Fear!

Recently some friends and I were having lunch and I was asked about a mutual friend who had suffered for years from depression. She had seen doctors, had light therapy during the winter months, and when I say "suffered" with depression, I mean that literally; she suffered. And my answer surprised me; I said, "She is doing great. Actually, she wasn't depressed so much as she was afraid." I was surprised to hear myself say that because until that moment, I didn't even realize that it was what I had thought for years, but never verbalized it.

Fear is a terrible thing. It robs us of our peace, it sends cold chills down our spine, it weakens us physically and spiritually, is often mistaken for depression and becomes a tool in our enemies' hand to destroy us. Depression is a terrible thing, too, and many, many people suffer in silence. This post is in no way about that debilitating disease. But friend, fear and depression are close kin, and close kin stick together and fight the same fight. One feeds off the other.

Maybe you were raised in a home where fear was the "norm". I call it "growing up under an umbrella of fear." It is an atmosphere in the home that is created by the care givers who are themselves afraid and those fears are "caught" by their children. Without realizing it parents can create a lifestyle of fear with little things like, "Oh, what if Dad looses his job, how will we make it?" "What if I get sick, what will you do?" And then there is the fear of making a mistake, falling down, getting caught, being a disappointment, and our fear list grows longer as we get older.

I have no degree in "fearology", but I have sure logged some college hours in the subject, and one thing I have discovered is this; Satan will use my fearful nature to detour my walk with God more than any other thing in my life. And since there are so many things in our world to legitimately be afraid of, how do we distinguish the "healthy" fear from the debilitating fear?

Healthy fear locks the car doors at night, makes sure the doors and windows are locked, wears our seat belt, doesn't text and drive, uses caution, but not in a fearful way. Fear that is akin to depression is a sense of doom and gloom, waiting for the other shoe to fall, a strong sense of dread for the future, seeing life from a negative point of view.

So ladies, how do we fight fear? With fear. The Bible says in;
Proverbs 9:10; The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Proverbs 10;27; Fear of the Lord prolongs our days.
Proverbs 14:26; The fear of the Lord gives us confidence.
Proverbs 14:27; The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
Proverbs 19:23: The fear of the Lord tends to life.

When you and I have the proper "fear" of the Lord, we won't have to fear anything else. To "fear" the Lord means to simply hold Him in deepest respect and admiration. It means to see Him as our Father and to approach Him with honor and in a way that is be-fitting of His Divine holiness. And Moms who have a healthy fear of the Lord influence their children to fear Him, to respect Him with deep honor and reverence.

But what about those times when we just can't help it; we're scared. We're scared of the doctor's report, we're scared about our job or our husband's job, we scared our kids are making poor choices, we're scared about our aging parents, we're scared about our marriage: how do we stop this fear that rises up into our chests and threatens to suffocate us, makes our heart race and we feel sick in the very pit of our stomach?

There are 365 "fear nots" in the Bible. One "fear not" for each day of the year. And here is one of my favorites:
Isaiah 41:10
"Fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, I am Your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, yes, I will hold you with My right hand of righteousness."

Today, in prayer, say, "Lord, I am afraid that ______________________ will happen." And then say to Him, "But I will fear not because You are with me. I will not loose courage, (be dismayed) because You are my God. I am trusting You to strengthen me, help me, and hold me with Your right hand because You have said You will." Oh dear sister in Christ, fear cannot stand in the middle of that kind of faith, in that kind of power, because God's word prayed back to Him in faith makes demons tremble and releases the supernatural power of God into your fearful situation and things change; God's power brings change.

Choose today to fear Him and no one and nothing else. Fight those fears with.......fear!

Proverbs 3:25,26:
"Don't be afraid of "sudden fear", neither of the desolation of the wicked when it comes; for the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep your foot from being taken."

Penny

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mercy Please

When you hear someone talk about spiritual gifts, what immediately comes to mind? My first thought is the gift of preaching, and where would we be without good, biblically sound preaching of God's Word? Then I think about the gifts of teaching, healing, (doctors, nursing, care givers. And believe me, I do NOT have this special gift and I am SO thankful for those who do) administration, encouragement and all the others listed in 1 Corinthians 12. But in Romans 12:8 there is a gift that every believer has been given, but sadly, many times it is not developed into the the great gift of ministry that can do so much good for so many people. It is a gift that can often make the difference between healthy and unhealthy self-esteem, good parenting, a great marriage, and even life and death: It is the gift of "Mercy."

Talents and spiritual gifts are not the same. Everyone is born with certain talents and abilities and these are often related to the talents of our parents and grandparents. Musical talent, artistic ability, writing, etc. Much of our talent is inherited.

But spiritual gifts are only given to believers by the Holy Spirit and they are given to edify, or build up the body of believers, the church. And a woman with a spiritual gift that she uses for the glory of God is a woman who changes the world around her. For most believers, our spiritual gifts and talents work together to bring glory and honor to our Lord. But I know of many women who claim no particular talent, but are the most spiritually gifted people I know. Not everyone can be a preacher or teacher, doctor, nurse, or great administrator; but with prayer and a tender heart, ALL believers can be believers who show mercy in every situation.

Simply put, mercy is not saying the obvious; mercy knows when to keep silent; mercy knows when to "do" and not say; mercy knows when a hug, a hand warmly clasped, a kiss on the cheek, a look, a softly spoken word is all that is needed to say, "I am so sorry. I love you. I understand. How can I help?"

If you are a Christian, mercy is there. It may be sitting just below the surface, waiting to be nourished and cultivated, but it is there because you see, mercy identifies us with Christ. Mercy "helps" to explain grace. Mercy defines love as well as any one thing can define love.

Do you have the spiritual gift of mercy? Yes Ma'am you do. How do I develop it? You can't. The Holy Spirit gave it and He will develop it as we listen to His voice; as we follow His leadership; as we earnestly pray to be a woman who shows more mercy.

Here is the mercy test; how should mercy respond in each situation?

1. Your friend's husband looses his job and they have 3 children, school is starting, no income.
No mercy responds with; "What are y'all going to do? How will you pay your bills? Glad I'm not in your shoes. What did he do to loose his job?"

Mercy responds:

2. A lady in your Bible Study class just found out she has cancer.
No mercy responds with;  Avoiding her. (Or) Asking her, "Are you still smoking?"

Mercy responds:

3. Your friend's son was arrested for a DUI;
No mercy responds: "I told you he was running with the wrong crowd."
"I knew this would happen when you turned him loose with his own car and those friends."

Mercy responds:

You see ladies, mercy doesn't say the obvious thing in any and every situation. Mercy doesn't judge. Mercy doesn't seek revenge. Mercy doesn't shame or hurt someones self esteem or their feelings. Mercy doesn't take advantage of someone when she is hurting. Mercy isn't hateful, sarcastic........mean.

Do you want mercy? Give it. Mercy is one of those spiritual gifts and disciplines that the more we give mercy, the more mercy we receive.

So today ladies, let's look for opportunities to show a little mercy please.

Love you. Have a great day.
Penny