July 28, 2012

Martin Luther wrote, “And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him.”

July 26, 2012

Perseverance and patience

I'm learning to wait on His timing as He's teaching me to have patience in all circumstances. With that comes great peace as I wait for His plan to unfold. God is good!!

The Power of Patience
-Charles Stanley

Hebrews 6:9-15

Picture yourself waiting in a checkout line that hasn’t moved for ten minutes. Many of us would feel frustrated. We live in a generation that expects instant results.

Everyone struggles with some degree of impatience. We’re born with this trait—think about a three-month-old who wants milk in the middle of the night. The inborn reaction is to fuss at the first hint of discomfort and to keep at it until the need is met.
Patterns from our old “flesh” nature make this a continual battle for most people, but one that is very worthwhile to fight.

Let’s consider the biblical definition of patience. It can mean both longsufferingand perseverance, or not giving up and yielding under pressure. In either case, it reveals itself when we are willing to wait without frustration while suffering or experiencing some strong desire. In other words, we accept difficult situations without giving God deadlines. What’s more, patience means accepting what the Lord gives, on His timetable—or what He chooses not to give. This quality results in inner peace and lack of stress. Meanwhile, we should pray, obey, and persist as we seek God’s direction.

The danger of impatience is that we might miss the Lord’s perfect plan and His blessing. Only when we trust our Father’s will and timing can we rest peacefully.

What causes you stress? Carefully examine whether you are taking matters into your own hands or releasing the circumstance to almighty God. Listen to Psalm 37:7, which says, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Seek His way and His timing. Anything else can be destructive.

Needed this reminder today. Thankful that God knows and sees all things.

Matthew 18:1-7 The Message

At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, "Who gets the highest rank in God's kingdom?"

For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me.
But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don't have to make it worse—and it's doomsday to you if you do.

July 11, 2012

The two loves of my life and five special blessings


In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 1:7-8

Sin can forever change the journey our life takes if we do not understand God’s forgiveness and grace.  At fifteen, I committed a sin that forever changed my journey and sent me on a path of self-destruction that lasted until I was in my thirties.  I realize now at thirty-six, my self-destruction came as a result of not fully understanding what forgiveness in Christ truly meant but through God’s grace and mercy, He has shown me great things and I now have an understanding of His character that has changed my life. 

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I lived for many years unhappy and unsatisfied.  With each purchase of a new toy, new home, new car or new outfit, I just knew I had found sheer happiness and joy.  I knew all my dreams had come true and the sky would stay sunny forever.  I was wrong.  Within days and sometimes-mere minutes, the feeling of happiness would vanish and I was back to feeling empty.  I wanted so much more from life but because of sin that had settled deep within my life, I could not attain the relationship that I truly wanted with God.  Now at the time, this was not something that I recognized.  You see I did all the right things according to “church standards.”  I attended church and bible studies.  I participated in various ministries and served when called.  From the outside, I had it all together.  I even believed I was doing all the “right things” but there was still such a void within my life.  It took that day of destruction for the truth to begin to surface. 

Sin does that.  We become blind and numb to what truly matters.  We want to hear from God and we even plead with Him for a sign of His presence but we cannot find it.  It is not because He is not there; it is because our sin serves as a barrier that separates.  Now I will not divulge the sins of my teenage years right now but those sins shaped me into a person that was very insecure and naive.  Satan used those characteristics within me to speak lies into my heart that kept me from trusting the promises of God. I was easily manipulated and trusted the wrong things.  I placed my faith and hope in people instead of God.  I began to justify the choices I had made as a teenager and rationalized within myself that I could make it all up to God by getting my life together as an adult.  I have now learned that it just does not work that way.  It took such a long time to get here but now that I am…OH MY GOSH!!  There is such FREEDOM!!

Back to sin and forgiveness.  Here is the truth that changed my life and brought me tremendous FREEDOM!  Forgiveness is complete even when confession isn’t!  There is it!  That simple truth changed my life.  The thing is though that I did not just hear that truth one day and got it.  Nope!  I did not have anyone to share that simple fact with me but instead, God used the past few years to teach this truth to my heart.  You see throughout my life I believed each time I committed a sin that I lost the love of God and had to start all over again.  I believed that I had to do certain things and live a perfect life in order for God to love and bless me.  I made His love conditional.  I have learned it is not that way at all.  That was just another lie of the enemy to keep me from God.  I had to learn that when I came to Christ, He forgave all the sins of my life committed in my past as well as my future.  I learned that I do not have to confess the sins of my past all over again and I do not need to fear that God will reject me if I do not keep my slate perfectly clean.  Jesus died on the cross so that all my sins were forgiven once and for all…forever.  I learned that my relationship with Christ is secure forever!  However, I had to come to understand that my lack of confession is what hindered my relationship with God. When I sinned, I was still forgiven.  God still loved me. It was my lack of understanding repentance and confession that kept me from experiencing His amazing freedom. Throughout my life, God still worked and blessed me.  Though I had wandered off His path for my life at the age of fifteen, He still gave me health and five healthy and beautiful children.  He protected my children and me and He still continues to do so. He was always right there with me though I was not fully aware of how to access Him. Those years spent on my own path were years filled with unhappiness and emptiness but those were consequences suffered from choosing my own way.  It has been heartbreaking but life changing as I have experienced God work out such bad things into such great things for His glory. 

Last year I became single again.  My prayer over the past few years has been that God heal my heart and make it a heart that longs only after Him.  My prayer was also that if it was God’s will for me to ever be in relationship with anyone, that He send me someone that loves Him as much I do.  Pure and simple, I want someone in my life who longs to walk with God as much as I do. I believe He has answered that prayer. That story in and of itself is one that I cannot wait to tell someday and is a story full of sin, grace, mercy, love and forgiveness as well as answered prayers and God has placed that person in my life.  The person God brought into my life happens to be a person that I would not have expected but through a set of circumstances that could have only been set into motion by the One who controls the Universe, it happened.  I spent a year falling in love with God.  I spent a year allowing Him to penetrate my life and put my broken heart back together and in return He has blessed me with an incredible man.  Now this man has his own history but he is someone who has found and experienced forgiveness and grace as I have and has forever been changed.  We both walked away from our past changed.  We both walked away from our sinful past and found a forgiveness and love that we now understand and want to share, together.  It is amazing.

I have never been this happy.  My life according to the world is not perfect but in a world where God is in control, it is perfect because of His love and blessing.  Everything in my life has changed.  I live a simple life now.  A life spent experiencing “family” and understanding the purpose of why I am here on this earth.   God has given me the amazing blessing of walking hand in hand with my best friend as we serve and love Him together.  We are taking this journey together and together we are living out God’s design for what a healthy relationship should be in front of my children.  We are worshiping and ministering side by side.  God knew the longings of my heart and He has fulfilled each one of those longings.  I feel so undeserving but I am learning that God is faithful. He is not faithful because of what we do and do not do but instead He knows our heart and our true character and He rewards and blesses accordingly. 

I do not know where you stand today in your life or what trials you might be facing but I do know this….God is faithful.  He is full of love and forgiveness.  He longs to bless us and to fulfill our deepest desires and longings but we have to walk toward Him.  We have to find our way out of the dark and choose to tune out the lies that Satan would whisper into our ear.  (Be aware that those lies can come from anywhere. Satan can use friends, family and even pastors as a way to make us doubt God’s voice.  Satan used Peter to try to cause Jesus to doubt. Matthew 16:21-23) We must always be on guard but most importantly, we much know God and His character.   Once we understand who He is and the way in which He loves us and the freedom and happiness He brings into our lives, we will experience more than those without Him will ever be able to comprehend and it will make us want to shout from the rooftops…How great is our God!!

July 8, 2012

Hurt people, hurt people

Pastor Jimmy often says that hurt people, hurt people. That statement could not be more true but after a while it becomes a choice. After being hurt we choose to either move on and allow our hearts to heal or we become engulfed in bitterness and hurt other people. Often you find that people choose the latter. They choose to crush the spirit of others by hurting the way in which they hurt.

Personally, that is not the way in which I want to live. I've been on the receiving end of that kind of punishment from a hurt person and I can tell you that the hurt I experienced from them cannot touch the poison of bitterness that surrounds them. You see I had my heart broken and my dreams shattered but I survived. I turned to the only One who could heal my broken heart and fell deeply in love with Him allowing Him to reshape not just my life but my heart.
I have been through a lot but I have watched God turn horribly painful things into such amazingly great things. Because He healed my heart and put my life back together there is no room in my life for the cancer of bitterness to eat away at my soul.

There is definitely a way to find healing and there is absolutely a way to finding true love with another but both require falling in love with the only source of true joy and contentment in this life.

I found this article this morning. It offers some helpful advice in the process of recovering from a broken heart.

How to Heal from a Broken Heart Whitney Hopler

When a romantic partner breaks up with you, the heartache can be so strong that it feels like it will never end. But the good news is that the pain will gradually subside when you follow biblical principles to fall out of love with your ex. In the process, you’ll fall more in love with God, whose love is stronger than any human being can give you.

Here’s how you can heal from a broken heart:

Change your feelings through changing your thoughts. You can overcome the negative emotions (such as grief, loneliness, rejection, anger, bitterness, guilt, and jealousy) that may be tormenting you right now if you follow the Bible’s advice to renew your mind. Keep in mind that God sometimes allows people to experience troubling emotions to motivate them to change their thoughts, which lead to their actions and shape the course of their lives. Pray specifically about each of the negative emotions you’re feeling, asking God to show you what specific thoughts in your mind are causing you to feel that way. Then honestly evaluate the thoughts you’ve identified, to determine whether or not they reflect biblical truth. Any thought patterns that don’t line up with God’s principles are unhealthy for you, so you should change them. For example, if you see that some troubling emotions you feel are being caused by bitterness toward your ex, the Bible says to get rid of bitterness, so you should change bitter thought patterns. You can do this by refusing to dwell on unhealthy thoughts that enter your mind and then praying about them, asking the Holy Spirit to help you shift your focus to something positive that reflects biblical truth. Memorizing key Bible verses that relate to the thought patterns you want to change can also help, since the Holy Spirit will bring those memorized verses to the forefront of your mind when you pray. The more your thought patterns change over time, the more your feelings will change as a result.

Turn to God alone for comfort. Don’t try to tranquilize your pain through alcohol or other drugs, rebound relationships with other people, eating, shopping, television, or anything else you think may comfort you. Instead, go directly to God for the help you need, since God is the only source that can truly help you.

Focus your devotion on God. God is the real love of your life. When you’re alone romantically, you don’t need to feel lonely, because God is always with you, and His presence is more than enough to make up for the loss of your ex’s company. If you spend as much time now thinking about your ex as you did when you all were together, you should drastically limit the amount of time you spend thinking about him or her and spend the extra time in prayer with God and meditating on what He says to you through the Bible. Use this time to the fullest to develop a closer love relationship with God. As you do, the He will comfort and heal you.

Derive your sense of security from your relationship with God. You never need to feel insecure because you don’t currently have a romantic partner, or because you’ve gone through a breakup that’s made you feel rejected. Keep in mind that your security is truly based in your relationship with God, who loves you completely and unconditionally.

Let go of regrets. Don’t allow yourself to be tormented by regrets about the past; doing so isn’t productive and will only interfere with your healing process. Ask God to help you shift your focus from the past to healing in the present and hope for the future.

Keep up with your daily responsibilities. No matter how you feel, don’t neglect your daily responsibilities, such as showing up at work on time. If you fulfill your responsibilities, you’ll fight back depression before it can gain a foothold in your life.

Serve other hurting people. The suffering you’re going through after your breakup is preparing you to comfort and encourage others who are suffering.  Ask God to alert you to the opportunities He brings into your life to help others with all you’ve learned from your own struggles. Then be faithful to respond to each opportunity by reaching out and helping them.

Avoid sinful responses to rejection. Choose not to respond to the sting of romantic rejection in a sinful way, such as with bitterness, angry wrath, complaining, slander, gossip, grudges, or revenge. Check your motives when thinking about your ex, and ask the Holy Spirit to direct you away from unhealthy thoughts and toward healthy ones. Pray for your ex when you think about him or her.

Choose kindness and forgiveness. Decide to love your ex as God wants you to love him or her. Treat your ex as you would like to be treated (with kindness). Obey God’s command to forgive your ex for however he or she has hurt you, relying on God’s help to make the choice and remain committed to that choice anytime afterward that you think about your ex.

Deal with your own sins against your ex. Make a list of the specific ways you’ve sinned against your ex, and then confess those sins to God and to your ex (in an appropriate way, as God leads you). Repent to God and ask your ex to forgive you.

Remove unnecessary reminders of your ex from your life. Let go of items that remind you of your former romantic relationship and make new associations with places that you and your ex used to visit together. Don’t let the fear of encountering your ex keep you from carrying on healthy activities (such as attending church and family gatherings) in your current life, however. Instead, trust God to help you gracefully deal with seeing your ex again if you encounter him or her.

Get rid of self-pity and embrace gratitude. Stop wasting time and energy feeling sorry for yourself, and instead develop a habit of noticing the blessings God brings into your life and thanking Him for them. The more you express your gratitude, the more you’ll become aware of abundant blessings in your life.

Turn your worries into prayers. Whenever a worrisome thought enters your mind, pray about it, trusting God to handle your concern in the best way possible.

Grow more content with your life. Trust God to give you what’s truly best for you, and delight yourself in your relationship with God (which will last forever) more than anyone of anything else that comes and goes.

Be patient. Over time, God will heal you completely from your heartache. You can rejoice in the knowledge that what you’re going through now will eventually produce godly character that will be valuable to you both in this life and in heaven.