Is Your Compass set to TRUE North?

Being lost is an awful feeling. I recall after being deposited in Romania to continue working on our adoption, several weeks had passed and I was wanting to venture out on my own to attend an English-speaking church. I did not have a car and I wanted to try and get around alone on the bus system there. I needed to take a bus from the small town where I was staying to the larger city of Suceava nearby. I had not yet developed my language skills enough to function well, but decided to go for it anyway.

It was so nice to attend the Wednesday evening worship service and meet other English-speaking people. After the service, I found my way back to the center of town. I knew the bus number that would take me back to Ițcani where I was staying with our soon-to-be-adopted children and their cousins. The problem was I got on the bus in one location and wasn’t quite sure where to get off because of the route it took back. I was told that some of the buses that head to the Gara (train station) quit for the night and I did not want to walk alone, in the dark all the way from the train station! When I figured I was close enough to my destination and saw that most of the people were getting off near the viaduct, I got off and followed the crowd. As they confidently began to disburse in different directions I began to fear becoming vulnerable, uncertain of which way to go, yet did not want to stop and appear lost. Thankfully, I recognized a storefront that I had been in the week before with cousin Angela and I was able to confidently walk down the street that led to their home.

I shared that story to say the crowd can feel safe for a while but eventually, you have to know for yourself where you’re headed. Without a true inner compass to guide you, there will be times of vulnerability and fear. Our world is only growing more troubled and confused as scripture says it would (2 Timothy 3:1-17) before Christ returns for His Bride-the Church. This is no time to live in confusion or fear. One thing is sure: if we have the confidence that God IS our Father, and the Holy Spirit is living within, we can trust Him to help us in our time of need. I urge you today if you do not yet know God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son (I John 5:20) in a personal way then seek Him while you can. You’ll want to find a church that adheres to scripture, with a shepherd that does not fear others to help you on your journey. Finding a pastor and leaders that can disciple you and that you can get to know in a personal way is so important.

YOUR COMPASS

Id’ like to have you think about your inner-compass, and ask yourself if it is sure, trustworthy, and set to True North. We had an elderly outdoorsman friend who knew all about true north vs. magnetic north. My son used to love to go treking around the Adirondack Mountains with Mr. Fred. Andre would come home having learned so much about hiking, hunting, and woodsmanship. As we trek through our agitated world, we must learn and determine for ourselves what is Truth (True North), as God our Creator explains it, versus what is relative truth (magnetic North) the way humankind interprets it. They are very different, much more than the 12-degree difference that travelers adjusting their compass for declination must do. We live in a post-Christian society that knows little anymore about the God who created us, and the need to adjust our thinking to His Word in order to rightly find our destination. walking only a few degrees off true north causes major deviation as time passes. Failure to navigate without God’s help is causing so much confusion and division in our world, and in our families.

Unless we align our heart with God’s and center ourselves in the Truth of His Word daily, we will find ourselves in compromised situations wondering what to believe or do. People end up way off course by multiplying the untruth that human wisdom alone provides. The Potter (Isaiah 64:8) who molded and made us is well able to guide us through the maze of these tumultuous days. He is the One who instructs us with the Truth about us, our world, and our condition.

DIVISION

Our society has never been so convoluted in its division. Yes, the Civil War (1861-1865) was the fruit of a major division in our country over the issue of slavery. But today we have so many issues that are not clean-cut, discernable and based upon clear criteria, such as the slave trade was. We’ve fallen into a pit of darkness concerning every possible topic one could discuss. There is no longer a sensible view of what is right or wrong. People are so confused over the simplest of matters, such as God creating people male and female (Genesis 1:27). When such an obvious biological fact becomes debatable, we have completely lost our way. Agendas abound… I do not want to be led astray by people feeding me lies, partial truth, or man-made “facts”. I want the whole truth that God offers to us in His Word.

WHERE ARE YOU HEADED?

I do not watch TV. I decided long ago that for me it wasted valuable time that I needed to invest elsewhere. If I were going to be able to think critically, I would need good source information beginning with the Bible. Next, I add to that a variety of reliable sources to learn from. I think it is wise to educate ourselves on what’s going on in the world, but if you allow the news media to interpret these events you will be misled by their viewpoint. Because of our fallen nature, all people lie to some degree, whether with intent or not: God alone is True and knows all. Human beings can only offer what they see from their limited view and particular bias. Without the lens of Scripture to help us interpret Truth from falsehood, we are left to hopelessly navigate through lies. You must decide whether your brain will be washed by the world’s thinking or by God’s Word (Romans 12:2). Even with God’s Word to guide us, we are often wrong in our views. This is why humility is so important and a highly regarded ingredient in scripture. Prayer with humility is crucial in finding our way.

WHY All THE FIGHTING?

So why is there such major divisions among us today? All people have agendas, and we are naturally (I Corinthians 2:14) governed by our sinful lusts: greed, power, fame, and self. With the transformation that Christ stepping into the center of our lives brings, we gain the opportunity to renounce these lusts by God’s grace, and live another way (Colossians 3:9). We come to know that God holds our future in His Hands (Hebrews 13:5) and we are taught to give rather than hoard things for ourselves and dominate others. We are also encouraged to speak up for the oppressed and for righteous causes (Micah 6:8). While many good people attempt to do this, the heart’s true motivation is eventually seen. Motives and desires are heart issues and our actions reveal what we believe. The clash of thinking, values and all-out war concerning ideas in the public square is because of opposing worldviews; mans vs. Gods and how we apply scripture to our lives.

WHERE IS YOUR COMPASS TAKING YOU?

We can find peace and assurance as we set our sights and resting place with God as our dwelling place, both here and in eternity. I desire to follow the inner compass God has placed within my soul. I am serving God by doing His will as He daily reveals it to me. When we fix our compass upon the scripture and are nurtured daily, feeding upon God’s abundance, we find ourselves secure under His care. But this is not the case for those who follow their own way; they call it following your heart or doing your own thing. We are told in the Bible that this will lead to destruction and worse yet, Hell (a place created for the devil and his demons, not mankind) in the end (Revelation 21:8). The decision you make today, will determine your destination, your outcome… what will it be?

Psalm 1 is my favorite, it pretty much sums up the 2 divergent groups and where they land. Think about it and decide: Am I lost… following the crowd of this world? Or, are you found in a secure, flourishing place near God’s stream of living water. He offers you abundant life, will you take it? (See John 10:10).

Psalm 1 says: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Adopted and Fearless

Fear is a snare. The only way to overcome the fear of any person (husband, wife, father, mother, sister, brother, or child) is to trust in the Lord and fear (reverence) Him.

Fear is used by the enemy of our soul to keep us from moving forward into an abundant life in Christ. God has provided everything we need to live fully for Him in this world (II Peter 1:3-4.) The Holy Spirit living within us is greater than the spirit in this world (I John 4:4). As we learn to yield everything to God’s Spirit, we become free from the bondage of fear and the enemy’s influence upon our lives.“ For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:14-15 (AMP)

As God’s adopted children, knowing our position in the Kingdom of God, gives us the confidence we need to overcome fear.  Remember who your Father is — Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of heaven and earth! Romans, Chapter 8 declares that as obedient children in God’s family we can be free from condemnation and live as His own adopted children, available to freely serve our Father as He created us to. Fear is a major hindrance that binds us from this freedom. Fear comes to us through three main areas: 1) The world—by the fear of man, 2) Our flesh—through condemnation, and 3) Satan—lying spirits and deception.

The World-by the fear of man

The fear of man brings a snare, but whomever leans on,  trusts in,  and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.”  Proverbs 29:25 (AMP)

Hunters lay snares to catch animals… I found this pic of a fearful rabbit as I researched snare hunting a bit. (Oh, it is heart wrenching to see the pictures… and I am not a hunter.) The Bible tells us the fear of man is a snare and the outcome of living this way is also heart wrenching! Some of my biggest failures in life have been because I feared a person rather than God! My husband, my children, an employer, any authority figure became “my god”. When God delivered me of that, those around me were set free to be accountable before God for their actions and I was set free to worship Him fully!

We are told by Jesus Himself not to fear man.  “And  fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. “    Hebrews 13:6 (KJV)” So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”  Matthew 10:28 (KJV)

Fear carries with it doubt and unbelief.  Our fear of failure, or how we are viewed by others, reveals our human nature that is governed by human pride.  Human fear, when rooted in pride, will bring defeat.  This fear of man reveals whether we are truly trusting (believing) in Christ as our source or in our own abilities.  Healthy fear equals reverence toward God our Maker. The fear of man brings us into bondage and a snare.

Our Flesh—fear through condemnation

The secret to freedom living is to align yourself with Jesus in all you do!  Not only does this produce a rewarding, fulfilling life, but it protects us from sin and condemnation.  “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).  Conviction of sin is a precious gift from God.  It is the Holy Spirit attempting to lead us into Truth and freedom.  Conversely, condemnation comes when we refuse to respond to conviction and continue to walk in sin.  We, in essence, are conflicted because we are willfully acting against Truth presented to us by the Spirit of God.

Internal conflict drives people to act in ways that harm themselves and others.  A person becomes disillusioned with themselves and attempts to cover this conflict in a variety of ways.  The Holy Spirit continues to convict by His love, yet if we continue to indulge in sin, we will continue to experience condemnation, guilt and discouragement.  Yet, all the while freedom awaits us! Jesus said to the woman who had been condemned of adultery, “…Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:11).  We come out from under condemnation and receive the freedom Christ offers when we choose to turn and “sin no more.”

I John 3:20-21 (AMP) says, “Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For we are in God’s hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].  And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God.”

So, we must discern the source of condemnation.  God already knows it, but we need to see if it is because we are going against the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or if we are facing an external spiritual attack upon us.  Knowing God’s Word helps us in assessing this. Conviction is good; it comes because of God’s love and desire for fellowship with us. When we respond rightly to the Holy Spirit we sense grace, assurance and His love, which in turns gives us boldness. 

God’s Word tells us that as His Children, our position is purchased and kept because of Christ.  Our thoughts as to who we are needs to be placed upon the Cross of Christ and what He did for us to make us worthy!  He is the One who took our sin so that we can come unto the Father.  Our soul was redeemed by His precious blood—nothing else.

In order to live victoriously over sin, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to guide, direct, and comfort us.  Our greatest need is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, fully surrendered to His leadership, and find true joy and usefulness in God’s Kingdom. We then become Adopted and Fearless!

Satan—fear from lying spirits and deception

If we are obeying what we know, and walking in open fellowship with God, yet sense condemnation, we can discern that it is coming from the enemy to defeat us and pull us out of the place of victory.  Satan uses this as a tool to keep us away from God–falsely!  The Father of Lies, tries to tell us that we are not worthy of God’s love and care.  He can build upon that through deception and can use other people in a variety of ways.  People who continue to live under condemnation, develop a guilty soul and the shame pulls them into bondage. The focus then becomes their shame and guilt, and fear grows. Depression usually accompanies this. Freedom and change seem impossible in their situation. Deception has done its work.

The work of Satan and lying spirits is to tempt and deceive us. He attempted this with Jesus Himself (Luke 4:1-13). Concerning fear, spiritual warfare is a battle between truth and lies. And the battle rages strongly within our minds. Satan is the Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).  In order to win the battle, our position as adopted and fearless children is crucial to overcoming the wiles of the enemy!  You can be safe and protected. But as a good soldier (I Timothy 2:1-5) you need to be willing, trained  in and obedient to the “Manual”, God’s Word.  Our weapons and our true enemy is outlined in Ephesians 6:10-19 and II Corinthians 10:3-5. Satan and the fallen angels desire to bind you with fear and aloneness in your battle. He wants to make you an orphan, rejected and discouraged. But God desires to adopt you, to make you His own, fearless and useful in His Kingdom.  He desires that you know the purpose for which He created you, and the destiny He planned for you.

Remember, God’s objective is to fill your life with Himself, use you in His Kingdom and for His glory which results in great joy and fulfillment.  The objective of God in filling us with the Holy Spirit is to enable us to love as He loves, to walk without fear in this world, and be a witness for Jesus Christ.  This lack of fear and abundance of love will allow you to walk as a victor, not a victim, causing you to overcome in every circumstance you face.   II Timothy 1: 7-8 (AMP) “ For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or about me His prisoner, but with me take your share of suffering for the gospel [continue to preach regardless of the circumstances], in accordance with the power of God [for His power is invincible].”     Amen.

Photo credit: Google Images, Pixabay

Destroying Relationships

Fighting over who is elected as the next President seems to be a worthy cause for some, even to the point of damaging lasting family relationships. In jabs, barbs, texts, FB posts, the style of banter used reveals the value you place upon your relationships.

So, what are your relationships worth? Are you the type who gives your view and then huffs off, thinking “There, I let them have it! Now they know what I think.”  Perhaps you’re a mocker, one who uses sarcasm to get your feelings out on another.

Depending on the emotional health and relational well-being of our family of origin, we find ourselves somewhere on the scale. Unfortunately, many of us did not have good teaching or examples with this and have had to learn the hard way, the humble way, but hopefully we have learned! If not, we should.

So many families right now are under stress, or duress, when interacting with a member who is adamant about who everyone should vote for. Some take it to social media and with pride attempt to outwit the other. We’ve all seen it and have likely been tempted ourselves to jump in with our 2 cents, but then thought better of it.

How can you tell the difference between someone simply sharing their feelings or information on what they believe, versus these powerplays of viciousness and/or manipulation? It’s revealed by what’s in their heart. Step back and use your discernment and good relationship skills to respond. Sadly, there are many enabler-types who feed right into the hands of these hubristic people… I used to be one of them.

These interactions reveal someone’s relational heart-health and if poor, that will lead to broken relationships. Circumstances bring out what has been hidden. The old elephant in the room usually gets prodded a bit during election seasons, throw in Covid-19 with its accompanying fears, and some are ready to devour their family members.

Here’s a few reasons why some people are unable or unwilling to surrender to the higher call of love (Romans 13:10).

1. Poor Relationship Skills – This is often fear driven. It causes one to assert themselves and expect others to conform or agree with their view, often manipulating others through authority, anger, relationship, revenge, shame, etc. to agree with them.

On Facebook you see this with the “likes” and “comments” others make to this type of person. You can sense the pressure upon the peer or sub to accommodate their poor statement, thought, or even an emotional rant. But in order to comply with the dominant, they indicate agreement anyway! Very foolish–it is the worst thing one can do as it reinforces the persons poor emotional health and they are deceived into thinking they actually are doing okay by acting this way. They also think they have genuine friends, when it’s their manner that produces these conformist “friends”.

2. Elitism – This political ideology believes some are bright & right (according to their worldview) and others are not able to make a sound decision, so they feel like they should have the authority to do it for them.

(Wikipedia: Elitism is the belief or notion that individuals who form an elite—a select group of people described as having an intrinsic quality, high intellect, wealth, special skills, or experience—are more likely to be constructive to society as a whole, and therefore deserve influence or authority greater than that of others.)

As with salvation, God’s gift is freely offered and while those of us with a Biblical Worldview believe it’s the right choice for all people, we cannot, should not, force this upon someone (remember the 4th century Roman Empire?). The Holy Spirit draws a heart and they alone must choose Christ to be their King. Compelling another with a godly life and heart of love is the way of the Master, not elitism. While Truth is valuable and must be shared, we cannot force another to believe.

3. Fear of the Future. If you are a believer, a follower of Christ, you can trust that God will take care of you; your life is in His Hands. Believing that the next President holds greater sway in your life than God does is a form of unbelief and is demonstrated by fear. When you live as God desires, He replaces fear with confidence in Him. I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with torment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” The Holy Spirit in us helps us love those who oppose us, and calls us to this higher love that Jesus taught us.

It is very important for us to voice our concern by our vote over the issues in government that we see as right or wrong. We also must acknowledge that God is sovereign and is over all that happens in our (His) world and as finite beings we may have difficulty reconciling the two. Yet, we do our part by taking responsibility in letting our views be known in a variety of peaceable ways and we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Then, God takes our obedience to Him or lack thereof and does the rest.

Scripture indicates often throughout the Old Testament that God raises up and brings down Kingdoms; there are many examples if this. We also know that God influences the heart of the King (or President). That explains why we may see someone, unlikely in our view, doing something that upholds God’s righteous ways. It doesn’t make sense but it happens because God is doing something through it. (Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turns it whithersoever he will.)

Of course, there are other reasons for poor behavior in relationships leading up to and following this election, but these three give us enough to think about and hopefully each of us will examine our hearts and see where our health meter is sitting. Is your heart for others, or against others? It is to bring peace while disagreeing on a matter or to engage war?

I wrote this poem, Step Back, many years ago and it seems to fit here. When we are re-acting to someone or something that is happening, we get ourselves into trouble. But if we will act, after thoughtful moments, we find that we are much better at responding properly.

STEP BACK

When life seems quite overwhelming,
and you feel the need to take charge.
Be careful you honor the scripture.
for pains of consequence are large.

If you will take gently a step back,
consider your ways and be wise,
you’ll soon see your Father’s instruction,
in your situation proved wise.

Step back and make room for the Lord,
give time for His will to reveal.
Instead of you charging forward,
with error your future to seal.

Wait! God will in His timing,
use peace to measure the score.
And if that is not present within you,
Step back, do not engage war.

God guides by these simple treasures,
His Word, obedience, and peace.
And when, all these three are present,
the warring and tumult will cease.

So step back and do an assessment,
and see where you’re missing the mark,
adjust and then humbly go forward,
with God’s favor and peace in your heart.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Fear Not! or should I?

sparrowFear is something we gain or lose, depending on our ability to trust God and His power to redeem our circumstances.

It was about twenty-one years ago a pastor-leader, who I have learned much from, took a group of men to Armenia to meet with some pastors and their wives from Iran. They met secretly in this neighboring country to avoid the dangers that this meeting would pose to the Iranian Christians. In this meeting, a man who had been arrested by the authorities in the late ’90s told his story of overcoming fear.

The young pastor was imprisoned and the Iranian guards were getting ready to execute him for continuing to share the gospel in his homeland, after being warned not to. Before execution, the custom is to shave the head of the “criminal”. This had occurred and he knew that soon he would be taken from his cell and put to death. While pondering this and thinking of his family he became very distraught, wondering why God would let this happen. Then the Holy Spirit reminded Him that he was being counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake and that he should rejoice instead. When the scripture in Matthew 5:10-12 came alive to him, he began to rejoice and sing and dance in his cell. The guards, surprised and troubled over his actions, called their supervisor. They ended up releasing him because they were so troubled over the fact that he was rejoicing that he would be put to death for Christ’s name and for His glory – they would not allow it!

To Fear or Not…

When Jesus gathered His twelve disciples, He gave them instructions, as recorded in Matthew 10. He told them not to be afraid because our Father cares for His own. Jesus uses the example of a sparrow falling to the ground, He told them of God’s awareness of this and that we should not fear because our value to Him is much more important than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:26 “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. 27 What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! 28 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[j] 29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin[k]? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. 32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”

Jesus indicates that His followers are precious to our Father. These disciples needed to understand that they belong to Him, they’ve been adopted and have become His children. This relationship is reciprocal, it involves fidelity on both sides; God the Father toward us and us, His disciples, to Him. Jesus reassured these believers that they who possessed this relationship need not fear.

Many live in fear but fear the wrong things.

What about you?

Are you able to see God as your Father who dearly loves you? If not, Find someone who you know honors God and humbly begin a discussion with them. Many are going about living as though there will never be a day of reckoning. Do you wait for something tragic to happen before you consider you’re relationship to God? Has this pandemic caused you to think more earnestly about your life, your mortality? It should, but don’t stop there.

Some people do not realize that there will be a day of judgment when we will ALL stand before God and give an account for our lives. Conversely, there are those who have once known the gospel and are now living in rebellion to God’s will; they will suffer much loss. They are the ones Peter warned about (2 Peter 2:20-22) who once knew God but turned away to fulfill their own lusts, living according to their own desires. “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:20-22 (ESV)

Human pride and arrogance defy God’s rightful place in our lives. This attitude of indifference toward our Creator is dangerous and damning. Rather than reckoning with our lost condition as humans, some take the attitude that James describes in chapter 4:13-15: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

An illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depicts the 2019 Novel CoronavirusOur current pandemic…

Living through this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 coronavirus should cause us to pause and consider our lives. How are you doing with yourself? Are you at peace and content being alone or contained with your family? What are you truly living for? If everything ended today, would you carry regret when standing before God and having everything in your life made known? Or would you be ready and thankful for the years you were given? What is the substance of your life?

Perhaps you are stuck in a place you never thought you would be. When you look at your life you wonder, “How did this happen to me?” Your gradual slide into the muck began with some offense, a loss, a divorce, a sinful relationship, an addiction; these situations can leave us feeling displaced, removed from a sweet-spot we once enjoyed. Then along comes a confining situation that exposes us to ourselves: a quarantine of sorts. Remember the young pastor with his head shaved and the gallows prepared? Or think of Sampson, tied to the pillars of the temple, disgraced and being made fun of (Judges 16:28-30). Had God forgotten them? God has a way of bringing hope to any situation. His perspective causes us to see differently. He has the power to turn things around for His glory if we will allow Him to.

DSC06758I spent nine months in Romania going through my own pregnancy of sorts, the process of adopting our four children. At times it was very uncomfortable, I suffered physically, and it felt very restricting — I was contained in a foreign land. I thought the main purpose of this experience was adopting our four children, yet God used that time to create in me a new level of faith and understanding of His faithfulness.

I hope this containment time will cause you to reflect upon your situation, and where you are in life. Let us consider where we stand with God. Think about: What is most important in my life? Whom or from what do I draw comfort? Am I obeying His call upon my life or denying Him by living for my own desires.

He’s giving us time to reflect during the coronavirus and giving us the grace to receive His gift. Will you spot Him during this time and receive what He offers? If you do, humble yourself and initiate change by making things right with those you’ve wronged. This is the first evidence of a sincere turning away from self, to God. Your act of building a relationship (as much as depends upon you) with someone you’ve avoided will open the door for God to pour blessings into your life. Then you can confidently say, I will not fear because I belong to God.

Photo Credit: Pixabay, CDC

Painful Pasts

autumn-2857032__480If you have lived through a very painful past then you are able to understand how exhausting and emotionally dark it can be to recount these experiences… you feel the pain and turmoil all over again — as though you have purposely gone back for more. Who would want to do that to themselves? That is why many never come to healing because they fear the process – but you do not have to.

I recently had a taste of this experience upon my visit home to Wisconsin. After several days into my visit, I scheduled a day to go and visit several friends from the past. I had not previously taken the opportunity to tell some of the details of my recent journey and felt free to share more of my story during this visit. All went well with these friends and I enjoyed my time, but that night in my sleep a floodgate of pain poured into my soul. Upon waking, I felt like I had lost the victorious ground I’d gained – like I had traveled back to a very broken place in my climb; what happened? This experience caused me to think about why this occurred.

When we re-enter the large room of our painful past and relive it, that doesn’t mean wewoman-837156__340[1] are still there. It may feel that way momentarily, but what we do with these feelings will determine how we think. We can choose to restructure our minds and return to the place of peace God has given or continue ruminating upon the feelings that have resurfaced.

Many face fear when thinking of their past, and so leaving it alone is the solution they choose; yet God has a better way. In my view, if you are not holding tightly to God’s healing hand and being guided by the power His Word offers, it is a fearful and dangerous proposition to regurgitate the past. Hope and healing that proceed from your Creator’s heart is the safest arena from which to process the painful experiences you’ve lived through.

Truthfully acknowledging that we have suffered is honest and right to do. Bringing into the light all that is darkness (or sin) is needful (I John 1:7). Forgiving our offender is necessary (Matt 6:14-15) and is a process that we want to pursue; a good counselor/mentor can help with that. Allow God to set things straight (Romans 12:19). Healing from the wounds is God’s will and if you desire that, it can happen — that’s is God’s specialty.

I’m thankful our hearts and minds can be powerfully renewed and rebuilt through the Holy Spirit’s work in us. Sharing our testimony about what God has done for us is good. When Jesus Christ suffered and died for sin, He offered the possibility for us to gain freedom from our past. This includes sin we have committed as well as those committed against us. Jesus suffered the awful price and penalty for our sin on the cross 2000+ years ago, we are now left to respond to this great gift He offers. How we appropriate His sacrifice for sin will determine our freedom and healing, or not.

If you are struggling concerning the pain of your past, through poor decisions made and/or violations committed against you, I hope this helps you in your climb to freedom. God’s plan is to recover and deliver you from destruction. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy us, but Jesus said He came to give us abundant life! (John 10:10).

There is hope for you! No matter what your journey has been, remember God can redeem it and give you great purpose in your future because of it.

This is part 1 of a 2 part message. We will look at the steps to recovery and deliverance from the pain in the next message.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Continue to Part 2