My Heart Rejoices in the Lord

God has placed the record of Hannah’s faith in the Old Testament Book of First Samuel. During the biblical time in which she and her husband lived, much of a woman’s worth was predicated on her ability to bear children. If she was barren, she would most likely face public ridicule, as well as the disappointment of her husband. Hannah had been childless for a long time, and she grew very distraught about this. Peninnah, her husband’s other wife, had children and made Hannah’s life miserable by taunting her about being barren. 1Samuel 1:7(NLT) tells us, “Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.”

Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, did not seek to divorce her because she couldn’t have children. 1Samuel 1:8(NLT) says that when he’d see her crying, he’d say, “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?” However heartfelt Elkanah’s sentiments were, they didn’t silence Hannah’s anguished cries about the inability to conceive.  

Barrenness in the Bible wasn’t viewed the way it is in modern society. The advancement of science and medicine has made it possible to recognize infertility as very often a treatable medical condition, but this was not the case thousands of years ago. Fertility is a gift from God, and in biblical times it was believed that pregnancies occurred when the Lord “remembers” the woman and then opens her womb. When this didn’t happen, most believed that either God was withholding the blessing of pregnancy or the woman was cursed. Under these circumstances, it is easy to understand Hannah’s grief and agony.

God doesn’t withhold blessings. Psalm 84:11(NLT) says, “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” This is the promise of God on which you and I must build our faith. Our Heavenly Father isn’t angry with us, and He doesn’t want to see us unhappy. God is good all the time and He wants us to place our trust in His goodness and rely upon it continually.

After the sacrificial meal, 1Samuel 1:9 tells us that Hannah got up one morning and went to pray. In deep anguish over her condition, she cried out to God and 1Samuel 1:11(NLT) says she made this vow, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” This vow was Hannah’s promise to God to not only commit herself to Him, but to make sure her son would be committed to Him as well. In other words, Hannah promised to return God’s gift back to Him. This was a tremendous act of faith on her part. Hannah understood that whenever we give God our best, God will multiply it back to us, and this is the continuous cycle of giving and blessings that He has established towards His people.  

Just as Elkanah might not have understood the depth of Hannah’s desire for a child, some husbands today may not understand the pain and frustration that many wives are experiencing. These are not necessarily related to infertility but could be other emotional issues that sometimes weigh us down. The reality is that our husbands don’t always understand us, but we can be confident that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, understands us and everything we go through. Hebrew 4:15(NLT) teaches, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” Jesus Christ knows our pain, and he offers us a solution. We are to surrender our pain and all that we are to him.

Another human being should never be our everything. Therefore, we should not look to our spouses to fill up our empty spaces. Only the Lord Jesus can do this for us. Placing this expectation on another person is unfair, because it is beyond their capability. We were created to worship and have fellowship with our Creator. In marriage, both spouses are to join together with an understanding of their purpose to be unified in Christ, always putting God first, and always seeking Him first.

Hannah went to the Source of all blessings for the desire of her heart, and this must be our practice as well. After conceiving and having a son, she declared in 1Samuel 2:1(NLT), “My heart rejoices in the Lord!” Hannah knew from whence her deliverance came. It did not come from her husband; it came from trusting and believing God! This is the way all our problems and issues are resolved, by taking it to the Lord in prayer and believing in His promises with all that we are. He hears our cries, He knows our hearts, and He will bless and deliver us when we place our trust firmly in Him. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

 “My Heart Rejoices in the Lord”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Your Victory Status

Deuteronomy 28:12(NLT)
“12 The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do.  You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.  13; If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.”

The other night, I watched an interview of a woman that had much success in her life, but she’d also experienced many pitfalls as well. A successful entrepreneur with a thriving business, she was asked by the interviewer, “What keeps you humble?” She replied, “The shoe is going to drop one day. I know it is, so I work hard to prepare for the hard times, and I never let my head get too big.” I thought her response spoke to what it means to have a level head and a good  work ethic, but the reality is that the shoe dropped for all of humanity when Adam sinned against God. Adam fell and took all of us with him and Eve, but God had a plan. Through Christ, He laid the path for our victory, and all we need to do is walk in it.

In Luke 14, a large crowd was following Jesus Christ. They had no doubt seen and heard of the miracles he performed, how he healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, and caused the deaf to hear. They wanted to be where the action was. Some wanted to be entertained and others were only interested in what they could get from him. But there were a few who genuinely wanted to be a part of God’s Kingdom and to learn more about it. Our Master Jesus is the Great Discerner and Separator. Luke 3:17(NLT) says of him, He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” Our Redeemer separates what is real from what is fake. That is what he did with this crowd, and this is what he will do when he returns to the earth.

In Luke 14:26-29(NLT), Jesus Christ turned around and said to the large crowd, “26 If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. 28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost.” Our Lord and Savior is fully transparent. He doesn’t keep anything hidden from us. He wants us to know that there’s a cost to discipleship. There’s a cost to following him.

When we give our lives to Christ, we make him LORD! He is the head of everything in our existences, from the smallest to the greatest detail. Our lives belong to him totally and completely. 1John 4:4(NLT) declares, “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” We belong to God! And Jesus Christ is Lord over our emotions, over our thoughts, over our conversations, our relationships, our going in and our going out. He is Lord over us, and we must honor him as the head. This is what it means to give our lives to Christ. In Luke 14:26-29, he makes it fully transparent that this is required, and if we’re not up for it, he tells us to consider carefully whether we should begin this journey.

In Luke 14:28, he tells us to count the cost. This means we should think about the price or cost of following Christ before we begin the journey. As born-again believers, our lives may be targeted for adversity and tribulation. This Christian walk is not always easy, and Jesus Christ asks us to pick up this cross and follow him. We do it because we made the choice to follow righteousness and turn our backs on darkness. God rewards this choice in a big way. 1Corinthians 2:9(NLT) declares, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

When we are going through the battles of life, it can get so bad sometimes that you can’t find the Words that God has imprinted on your heart. You want to declare that you are more than a conqueror in every situation, but your tribulations seem insurmountable.  This is the time when you must trust God and do everything in your power to stand on His Word. It’s not about how we feel. It’s not about how a situation looks. It’s about believing that God does not lie, and that His Word is true! He has all power in His hands, He is faithful to deliver us, and He will set our feet on higher ground. This is what we must trust.

Never doubt your victory status. It was purchased with an exceedingly high price. God wants us to obey His Word because this is how we walk in the victory of Jesus Christ. Life will throw many things at us, because the devil is busy, but we must remember what God tells us in 1John 4:4, “the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”  Our Heavenly Father has put us in this race. It’s a race that started when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and God has made sure we are all equipped to win it. He tells us in 1John 5:4(NLT), “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” We are destined for victory in Jesus Christ, and we are not defeated. We must keep the faith, continue to read and study God’s Word, and be willing to carry our crosses no matter what comes our way. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Your Victory Status”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

You’re Never on Your Own

Matthew 11:28-30(NLT)

“28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

A good friend and I were having a conversation the other day, and she told me how tired she had been lately. In her words, “Life seems to be getting tougher, and I’m tired of having to juggle everything by myself.”  She’s 58 years old, and even though she’s always wanted to be married, it has never happened. Feelings of depression and loneliness creep up every time she thinks about all the heartaches and obstacles she’s had to face on her own. Even though my friend is over fifty, the feelings she’s having are not unique to a certain age group. The loneliness of being single far longer than you’d like doesn’t discriminate.

My conversation with my friend made me remember when I felt much the same way she does. I’d go to bed at night feeling depleted and sad, thinking that I’d feel better in the morning. The funny thing is, I’d awaken the next morning just as tired as I was the day before. It dawned on me that I needed more than a good night’s sleep. Like all of us, I needed, and will always need, the deep spiritual rest that only the Lord Jesus Christ can give.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus Christ extends an invitation to all of us that are feeling exhausted and burdened down by life. He knows that the world can wear a person down, and he tells us to bring our tired and worn-down selves to him. He will give us rest. The rest that he gives is supernatural. We can’t use human reasoning to explain it because it exceeds our understanding. His rest is administered to the deepest part of us, and there, it restores and replenishes our souls. It’s a rest that belongs to us because our Master Jesus paid for it with his life when he died on the cross for our sins.  

You and I must take this rest by faith. Taking it by faith is the only way. Jesus Christ laid this out for us in Matthew 11:28-29. He said, “I GIVE, YOU TAKE!” That’s the order! He gives, and then you and I have the great privilege and honor to respond to what he has done. We are to take what he offers. Well, what are we taking? In this passage, he also answers this question for us as well. We are taking his yoke—his guidance, direction, truth, example, power, and love. He tells us to learn about him, because in John 14:6, he teaches us that he is the way, the truth, and the life.

His truth is food for our souls, and after we feast on him, our souls will be at rest. In John 6:35(NLT), he said “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus Christ is life to us! Again, learning about him feeds us in a way that nothing else can. This is the part where so many of us go south and miss the greatest blessing of our lives. For some reason, we will not place ourselves in a posture of studying and reading to learn more about God and His Word. We will not avail ourselves to Christ and will not connect the reality of our soul’s starvation to our refusal to know more about Jesus Christ than we know right now.

Our Master and Savior is humble. He left the throne of God to come to earth to save us. Philippians 2:6-8(NLT) declares, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Jesus Christ was not forced to die for our sins, he chose to die a humiliating, agonizing death on the cross in order to redeem us from the slavery of sin and death.

We’re never on our own. God is always with us and knowing His great love through Jesus Christ will transform us! He freely offers us this love, and the greatest thing we can do for ourselves is to take it. Spending year and year feeling sad and depleted is not God’s desire for any of His children. He wants us to be happy and blessed every moment of every day, but the joy that He gives is no ordinary joy. The world cannot give it, and the world cannot take it away. It is a joy that isn’t dependent on what we have or don’t have. It isn’t dependent on a relationship with anyone else other than our Master Jesus.

The yoke of Christ will demand that every drop of our tendency to look to someone else for our joy and happiness is completely abandoned. Jesus Christ is LORD! There can be no other who occupies that place in our hearts but him. We don’t get to tell the Lord that our heart belongs only to him, because none of us know our hearts that well, but God knows them. He tells us in Jeremiah 17:10(NLT), “But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Every good relationship that any of us will ever have is birthed from our love, devotion, and loyalty to God through Jesus Christ. When this spiritual lesson is firmly in our minds and hearts, we will enjoy God’s rest and all the blessings that come with it. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“You’re Never on Your Own”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Have Hope in God

Ecclesiastes 7: 9-12(NLT)
“Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. 10 Don’t long for the good old days. This is not wise. 11 Wisdom is even better when you have money. Both are a benefit as you go through life. 12 Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life.”

“Where did I go wrong in my life?”

I was talking to Louisa the other day. She’s a middle-aged Christian woman that I’ve known a while, and she expressed her desire to have a do-over with her life. Louisa has lots of regrets. She wished that she had never moved away from her hometown in the South and that she would have married her high school sweetheart. “At least with him, I knew what to expect.” she remarked. What did she get instead? A man that cheated on her most of their 25 years of marriage. She met Larry two years after she moved to Ohio. They dated for a couple of years, got married and had three children. She found out about his affairs after they had their second child, but because her oldest child had medical issues, she remained in the marriage. Raising two boys alone would’ve been more than she could handle, she thought, and after her daughter was born, she settled into what she refers to as a life of disappointment.

Most of us wake up every morning, go to work, raise our children, and do what is necessary to live a peaceable life. It isn’t a fairy tale, because life isn’t meant to be. It’s meant to be a walk of faith with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Most of us are fully aware of this. Things in life don’t always go the way we plan. Many of us are caught off guard by this and catch ourselves wishing that we could have a do-over, especially when it comes to some of our mishaps and mistakes. But life just keeps rolling, and we must have faith in God to keep up.

When our reality is far from what we’ve dreamed, we think we’ve missed something or left something behind that would have made us better and therefore made our lives better. We figure it’s almost impossible to recoup now that we have so many responsibilities. Others are depending on us to hold things together, and it isn’t always easy to be strong. Our hopes are injured because it feels that any chance of living the dream is greatly diminished. We’re left wondering how we ventured so far off track.

Romans 8:29-30(NKJV) declares, “29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Verse 29 tells us that God knew us even before we were in our mother’s wombs. He has given us a destiny, and this destiny is shaped and modeled in the example that Jesus Christ left for us. We are children of God, and God is the One who predestines our lives. It’s not our plan, it’s His plan! Our great pleasure, privilege, and responsibility is to pray, to seek what He has in store for us, and to follow His plan and purpose with all our hearts.

Our plans and dreams are limited to only what we can see and imagine. We don’t consider all the pitfalls and missteps because we couldn’t possibly know them all. We think about what is good for us, but don’t always know what is good for everyone, or how our dreams and desires might impact the lives of others. Our God is interested in what is good for everyone, and the benefit of all is masterfully woven into His plans. Our Heavenly Father knows everything. Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 6:8 that God knows we need before we ask Him. There isn’t any detail about our lives or the lives of others that God does not know. Acts 17:27 tells us that He alone set the boundaries of our births, and He left nothing to chance.

Galatians 3:13(NLT) declares, But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”” The past is gone forever and will never come again. It cannot be relived, and none of us can have do-overs, but we must never, ever forget the reality that our Heavenly Father is a Redeeming God. He redeemed us from the curse of sin, sickness, and death. Adam disobeyed God and sold us all into the slavery of sin, sickness, and death, but God always had a plan for our redemption through Christ. Romans 5:12 affirms that Adam sinned, and sin spread because we all sinned too, but through his sacrificial offering for our sin, Jesus Christ redeemed and saved us from this curse. Now, we are free and have received the gift of eternal life because of what God accomplished through the death and resurrection of our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

God redeems! He delivers and restores! When we try to make our plans work, they don’t always come out the way we envision, and this is what causes disappointment, but God’s plan always works to His glory and to our benefit and glory as well. In Proverbs 3:5-6, He instructs us not to lean on our own understanding. He tells us to place all our trust in Him, and all means “ALL”. He directs our paths, and on this we can depend.In Jeremiah 29:11(NLT), He told His people living in Old Testament times, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Romans 8:28(NLT) affirms, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” We make mistakes, but they teach us that God is the One that is in control! We don’t have any power to call our own. All power belongs to Him! Although there are disappointments in life, He can redeem them to such a degree that the sting of disappointment no longer affects us. Through Jesus Christ, God has given us a sure hope, and Romans 5:5 declares that this hope in Christ does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through His Holy Spirit!  So, let’s not waste time on wouldas-couldas-shouldas. Let’s be secure in the knowledge that we can bloom wherever we are planted as long as we trust God and depend on Him to lead us on the path He’s set for our lives.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“Have Hope in God”, written by Kyada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Keep the Courage

Deuteronomy 28:13(NLT)
“If you listen to these commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.”

Trust the truth within, don’t look back – keep going forward.

Abusive relationships are about someone trying to steal your power. This can do a number on your mental and emotional well-being. Once you make the decision to leave an abusive relationship, it’s common to frequently travel down the path of second thoughts. You’ve made a good decision by leaving the biggest mistake of your life in the rear-view mirror, but repeatedly, you question your decision. We do this because our head is convinced, but our hearts aren’t yet on board. That’s because they haven’t fully healed. You feel as though you’ve got just enough courage to make it one day at a time, but it’s tough being alone. Loneliness makes us second guess our decisions probably more than anything else. It makes us listen to the advice of people that don’t have the best track record of common sense and sound judgment. They don’t understand the courage it took for you to leave.

Whatever it is you’re facing today, at this very moment, remind yourself to keep up the courage and stay true to your faith in God. Remain strong and never forget what it took for you to get this far. Don’t look back. Understand that this is what many of us do. Many women who have been in toxic or abusive relationships allow their gut instincts to take a back seat. They make decisions with their hearts and deny what their heads are telling them. Jeremiah 17:9(NLT) offers God’s sound wisdom on this subject. It tells us,“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” God wants us to know that if we haven’t trained our hearts with the wisdom of His Word, then we can’t make our hearts the governing authority over our lives. 

We can’t always do what our hearts tell us. Society has a completely opposite notion. It tells us that we can’t help what our hearts feel, and we can’t help who our hearts love. If that were true, then surely every person that has ever lived would fall madly in love with God. John 3:16 tells us that He loved us so much that He offered the life of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for our sins. If we have no control over who we choose to love, then surely God would have preprogrammed us to love Him automatically and unconditionally, the way we should; because He is good, holy, and magnificent beyond words. But this isn’t the case. God gave us free-will agency. We choose who we will love. It’s our choice, and if we can fall in love, we can choose to fall out of love, especially if the person is hurting us.

Love is a commitment. It’s a commitment to honor and respect someone to such a degree that you place their welfare over your own. This is the way God wants us all to love and honor the significant person in our lives. 1Corinthians 13:5 tells us that love doesn’t push, shove, or demand its own way. Love only wants what is best for the other person. God has emphasized this truth countless times in His Word. This is what He means in Deuteronomy 28:13. He doesn’t want us to be egotistical or arrogant, but He wants us to know that we are His treasures. We are valuable to Him, and therefore, we must be valuable to ourselves. 

We’re the head and not the tail. We’re above and not beneath. This tells us that we are favored by God through Jesus Christ, and this is how we should be treated. Philippians 4:13 tells us that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. What do conquerors do? They conquer! They overcome! This is your destiny! Even if it is in the smallest way, once you’ve gotten to a place where you have enough strength and confidence to believe this, make sure you keep confessing and telling yourself that you are more than a conqueror in Christ! Remind yourself continually that your future is much better and brighter than your past. Keep looking ahead and be thankful to God for what He has already done for your life. We are God’s masterpieces! It is not His Will for you to be hurt, mistreated, depressed, suicidal, or hopeless. He wants everyone to be happy and blessed, and when you begin to trust this, you’ll see your path to peace and happiness so much clearer. 

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Keep the Courage”, written by Kyada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Jesus Christ Is Our Peace

John 16:33 (NLT)
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

 “If she curses me out one more time, I don’t know if I can move forward. 
Her words are so hurtful!”

Humans are not perfect. We make a ton of mistakes and some of them are real doozies. This is never more true than in the love department. In our significant relationships, we’re not going to get everything right, and we’re not always going to end up on the winning side. Some of us will experience the most hurtful disappointment we’ve ever endured. The targets of our affection don’t always appreciate the love we’re giving, and when it’s apparent that this person isn’t capable of reciprocating quality love, but instead they are causing us more pain, we need to open our eyes to what is being revealed. This person wasn’t sent by God and they’re not going to be the blessing we desire for our lives.

I ran into an old acquaintance, and we talked for a while. He began telling me about the difficulty he’s now having with his fiancé.  They’d gotten engaged a year-ago and have called off the wedding twice in six-months. He loves her very much, but he said, “If she curses me out one more time, I don’t know if I can move forward. Her words are so hurtful!” This isn’t the way anyone should be treated. God isn’t pleased with this kind of behavior. He commands us in Ephesians 4:32(NLT), “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Heavenly Father commands us to be kind to one another because this is the way He is with us. His mercy and grace endure forever, and He has shown us how much He loves us by giving His only begotten Son as a offering for our sins. God’s kindness towards us is our example, and He expects us to treat everyone this way, but we are to be especially kind to the person that will walk with us through life.

The world we live in can be extremely harsh, mean, and cold. The person we love should be creating a space that is a warm place for us to land. We should feel safe in their company and not have to keep our guard up the way we do in the world. Most people understand this, and when they can’t bring themselves to model God’s tenderness and love, we need to beware. There could be a darkness internally that they are refusing to acknowledge or confront. If the love you’ve given them hasn’t yet motivated them to change their behavior, it’s time to have a serious conversation with God about your life and the decisions you need to make.

Many times, growing up, I’d hear my elders say, “When you’ve done all you can do, trust in the Lord, and He will carry you through.” This is now deeply imbedded in me, and it’s how I’ve learned to address problematic situations. For years I tried to carry the weight of troublesome issues on my back. In relationships, I took it upon myself to solder the inner turmoil of the men I loved. I offered myself up for the brunt of their self-punishing behavior, but this was not God’s Will for my life. He gave His Son to die so that we can all be free. Galatians 5:1 (The Message) declares, “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”

Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 11:28-30(NLT), “28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Our Lord and Savior instructs us to give our burdens to him and let him bear the heaviness of them. When we do this, we shouldn’t take them back. We are incapable of carrying our burdens, they are too heavy. Giving them to Jesus is all we can do, and once we’ve given him our burdens, we must have faith that he will take care of the rest.

He also tells us to take his yoke upon us. This means that we should be focusing on learning more about Jesus Christ so that we can put on more of his example. It means that we should never try to wear his yoke and someone else’s too. Jesus Christ is humble and gentle; he is our everything, and he is medicine for whatever ails us. He is our peace, and we need to let him heal our hearts, so that we love from the place of his strength and reject anything and anyone that doesn’t love us from that place as well.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Jesus Christ Is Our Peace”, written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

All Things Working Together for Your Good

Romans 8:28(NKJV) is a verse of scripture that is even well-known among those that haven’t made Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of their lives. This truth is a source of comfort and encouragement for all who follow Christ. In it, God declares, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This is the shining pinnacle of the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans. As God’s people, we are “the called!” We have a destiny in Christ, and whether we know it or not, it far exceeds our greatest and grandest expectations and imaginations.

This verse in Romans 8:28 conveys the perfection of God and the perfection of His Will. It assures us that no matter our mistakes or shortcomings, God loves us, and for those of us that love Him, He will put the greatness of His power on full display in our lives. He will take details, no matter how small or large they appear to be to us, and He will cause every one of them—every circumstance and condition—to cooperate. When He’s done, we can be assured that the outcome will always be for our good. This is very good news indeed!

God works through people and situations to bless and help us. We must never underestimate the truth of this. Hebrews 13:2(NLT) says, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” This verse holds a very important truth when it comes to one of the ways in which our Heavenly Father helps us. Angels can come to our aid, and sometimes they appear as people that come into our lives as helpers, and then they leave as quickly as they came.

Some worship angels, and we are never to do this. The instruction of the Father in Hebrews 13:2 is not so we will become focused on whether we have entertained angels. It is to open our eyes to His expectation regarding our treatment of others. He doesn’t want us to forget that we are to show strangers and everyone else the love of Christ. We are to treat them with the kindness that we ourselves want to receive. Many of us haven’t done this in the past and we’re not doing it now. Because we have overlooked the direction of the Father in this way, we may have repelled a blessing rather than brought it closer within our reach. We may have turned away an angel through meanness and arrogance, when they were the link to the very deliverance of God that we have prayed to receive.

Heavenly Father tells us in 2Corinthians 13:5(NLT) to “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves.” This must be a continual practice. We must look in the mirror and examine how we are treating other people, even those that do not like us. God isn’t punishing us for our ill-treatment of others and our bad manners. He is waiting for us to wake up and open our eyes. We erroneously think that we’re wide awake already. We haven’t realized the extent to which negativity in our hearts, in our behaviors, feelings, and conversations, have caused us to miss out.

God tells us in Jeremiah 29:11(ESV), “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” In some respects, we see ourselves as very small, so small in fact that underneath it all is the thought that God can’t be bothered with the minutia of our everyday lives. This simply isn’t true. God is the One with the plan for our lives. He wants us to bring everything, from the smallest to the greatest detail, before Him. Ephesians 1:11 affirms that He predestined every individual that He has called, and He has done so according to the workings of His perfect Will. He’s left nothing to chance when it comes to our sonship inheritance in Christ. On this we can depend.

God has given each of us a destiny, but it is our choice to follow it. If we do, we will live in Christ and spend every moment being perfected in him. The longing we have in our souls is often misunderstood and mistaken to be that of humans yearning for other humans. It is in truth our longing to know God, and to know Him so fully that our cups run over. His love is just that good, His countenance is just that loving, His grace is that unyielding, and His power is that all-consuming fire. He alone is our passion, and every detail, encounter, and experience are pointing us in the direction of His rich and holy presence.

We ought to burn to take Him all in, not halfway, but all the way. And we must also come to the realization that taking God fully into our hearts means that anything in us that isn’t of His love and light must die. We might think it’s too difficult to change, but to the extent that we want to please God and grow in Christ, the blinders must come off. God is causing all things to work together to bring us closer to Him. He is doing this for our great benefit, so we can know Him and then be committed to carry forth the purpose of which we were called.

All things working together is a premise we understand. We understand it because we have lived all things working against us and all things falling apart. We know brokenness. We know confusion and chaos. We know when the pieces of our lives are shattered and scattered all over the ground. The war between the flesh and the Spirit is this consuming urge we have to pick up those broken pieces ourselves, and then to try and put them back together again. We cannot. Only God knows how to restore. Only He knows which pieces are useful to our journey forward and upward, and which are not. He alone causes things to coagulate and merge to such a degree that we are lifted far above the conditions that once held us back.

God’s Will and purpose are the force behind life. His Holy Spirit is the worker behind Romans 8:28. God is, as Philippians 2:13 tells us, working in us through His Spirit, giving us the desire AND the power to do the things that please Him. Do you know the things that please Him? This is the question, and the pursuit of the answer should motivate us each day. If we seek God earnestly, the thing which we seek will be unveiled. This He promises.

We are called according to God’s purpose, and whether we know it or not, this calling is everything to us. It will cause us to live the more than abundant life that Jesus Christ made available. But we must realize that progressing to the place that God has destined for us means that some things in our lives today must be left behind. The soul-tie must be clipped and removed. They are weights, impeding our progress and bogging down our lives. If higher is our destination, those things simply can’t journey with us.

God has fully saved us through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He will not stop until we walk fully in His light, fully in His love, fully immersed in His Word, and fully living in Christ. Our eyes will be no longer blinded when we know this for ourselves, and we will see with new enlightenment and awe, that causing all things to work together for our good has been God’s handiwork since the very day we were born.■

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“All Things Working Together for Your Good”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Praying for the Right Person to Talk to

Proverbs 27:17 NLT
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

My good friend, Nina, has gone through some troubled waters. Like most of us, she’s had her fair share of the ‘not so good side’ of life. As a child, initially she grew up with both parents in the home, but not long after their divorce, she decided that her mother was too strict and overprotective. Her father, on the other hand, was laid back and allowed her the freedom she wanted. When she was 14, she decided to live with him, and that’s when the first hard lesson about choices and consequences opened her eyes.

After a year of living with her dad, Nina became pregnant. In the words of her father, at 15 she went from being “daddy’s little girl” to “a daughter that made him a grandfather”, and he wasn’t happy. His treatment of her broke her heart. He had been abusive to her mother, and for the first time she understood why her mother had been so protective of her. She didn’t want Nina to deal with what she had gone through.

The father of Nina’s baby provided no support, meanwhile her own father’s behavior became even more hurtful, and she was ashamed to tell her mother any of this. She felt like she was in prison, with no one to help her through a hopeless situation. All she could do was bottle her feelings, and this eventually turned to deep resentment towards her father and insecurity in her own decision making.

Emotionally drained and afraid of what might happen to her and her child, one night she turned to God for help. She prayed that He would send her a friend that would be a confidant, someone that would give her a “safe place” to open up and GET IT OUT!

I have been this friend to Nina, and to others as well. We can all be a compassionate listener that will not be judgmental, but kind and caring. Everyone needs someone that will sit down and listen, and most importantly someone that will pray for those that are dealing with emotional pain. Our Heavenly Father tells us in Proverbs 27:17 that friends can sharpen one another. Again, we do this by giving the encouragement of God’s Word, by lending a discreet and compassionate ear, and by praying for those we know are in need.

Tell God what you need

Philippians 4:6(NLT) says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” No matter what we’re going through or attempting to do, telling God what we need and what is on our hearts should always be our first step. He has all power in His hands, and He is both willing and able to bless us. He will direct our paths and take care of our needs, and we must trust Him with our whole hearts.

Pray for the right person

Jesus Christ commands us in Matthew 6:33 to,Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” This wisdom is crucial when we are dealing with a challenging situation and we don’t know what to do. Before we seek the advice of any other person, we must seek God first. We need to hear His truth, and He is the only One that knows the words that will help us move in the direction that He desires for us. We must pray that He will send someone who knows the truth. The right person will deliver a Word from the Lord that will make all the difference in our situations. It will put us on the path to be healed and to grow in Christ.

Pass it on

James 2:14(NLT) tells us, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”

Being a blessing positions us to receive a blessing. We should always be willing to do for others what we hope someone would do for us when we are in need. 1John 4:19 reminds us that we love because the Lord first loved us. We are ambassadors for Jesus Christ, and he has commanded us to let our lights shine in this dark world so that others may see his love in us. When you pray and ask the Father to help you and to send you a compassionate listener and Godly friend, also pray that He will help you to become one yourself. Pray that you can one day help someone to get it out and let go of their pain. None of us are perfect, but we are being perfected in Christ. All we ever need to do is to make ourselves available to God to be a blessing, He will do the rest! ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Praying for the Right Person to Talk to”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Our Lives Mean the Most to God

I know people that have been angry with God for a long time. Things seem to always go wrong in their lives, and they are tired of it. They blame our Heavenly Father for their sadness and disappointment, and they’ve built a wall around their hearts that keeps Him out. With these individuals, you do your best to encourage them in the Word and to help them see that God is for them in every way, but something in their minds and hearts will not receive this. They refuse to wholeheartedly believe that God loves them far more than they could ever imagine. They won’t accept that our lives mean the most to Him, and He will never leave or forsake us.

In Romans 8:38(NLT), God gives us a perfect portrait of His limitless, unconditional, and everlasting love for us all. This verse tells us, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” God treasures us, and He reassures us of His love because we need to be continually and constantly reminded of it, especially in our day and time. It’s no secret that the devil is bombarding us with the wrong information, and many believers are captivated by it. We’re on our cell phones so much that they seem to be an artificial extension of our hands. From distorted information and insulting humor to entertaining animal tricks and outright lies, we are soaking it all in. We’re no longer protecting our ears and eyes, but instead, we’re letting all this stuff into our souls.

Because we are not protecting our minds and hearts, it’s not surprising that so many are suffering from extreme bouts of sadness and anxiety. They have not flooded their understanding with the truth and have disconnected themselves from the practice of meditating on God’s goodness. What’s the reason for this? Why is it that we don’t spend time training our thoughts to think like Christ? In many cases, we don’t do it because we lack faith. We won’t believe in the possibility of being caught up in the wonder of who God is and captivated by how much He loves us. So, we spend our time thinking, focusing, and obsessing about things in this world, and this is a sure recipe for despair and disappointment.

Galatians 3:27(NLT) says, “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” When you and I get up in the mornings, we understand that we must put on a change of clothing for the day. It would not occur to us that we could just stand in one place and have God change our clothes for us. He has given us bodies that move, a mind that works, and the gift of free-will. He’s given us all these wonderful gifts and more! So, we all understand that we must put on our own clothes, and not only this, we get to choose which garments we’d like to wear. Well, all of this gives us a good example of what God is requiring us to do in Galatians 3:27.

God has made it possible through Christ for us to put on what is good and pleasing to Him, and to take off what no longer fits. Because of Christ, we have a new nature that is holy and perfect. God commands us in Ephesians 4:24(NLT), “Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” God loves us so much that He created us in His image. He wants us to be like Him, because becoming like Him demonstrates the impeccable quality of His love. His love creates, motivates, and changes everything for the better. This is what He desires to see in our lives; as any good father would. Because of what God has accomplished through the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, we are united with Christ. When we make him Lord of our lives, we receive a new nature, and like new clothes, we must put it on.

In Colossians 3:10(NLT), we learn even more about God’s expectation. He tells us, “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” The way that we put on our new nature is to train our minds to think like Christ and our hearts to love like him. This is the way we are renewed. But this is our choice. We mean so much to God that He doesn’t force us to change, He motivates us to change through His love. Many of us are holding on to things we should have released years ago. God has commanded us to strip them off, and to put on Christ. He wouldn’t tell us to do this if we lacked the capacity to get it done. Our lives matter to our Heavenly Father, and He wants us to know that through Jesus Christ, we have strength, power, and authority. God has made all this available to us because we are His children, and He has unfailing love for us all. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Our Lives Mean the Most to God”, written by Kyada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

God Makes the Pieces Fit Together

But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”

2Chronicles 15:(NLT)

Glenda was surrounded by devout Christian women in her family, and they had a huge influence on her life. She was trying very hard to live up to their example, but something in her own life just didn’t seem to fit. She felt like a piece of the puzzle was out of place, but sometimes, not only was she unsure about the piece, she was unsure about the puzzle. She was at that awkward stage of wanting to enjoy more of her single life, but also wanting to be in a serious relationship. A serious relationship was definitely winning out, but her hopes had been dashed so many times, that she wondered what God really wanted for her life. With everything in her being she was trying to be patient, but she wanted more information from God, and she wanted more out of life. Not knowing how to turn the dial to ‘next’ kept her mind busy at night with unanswered questions. She just wanted this season in her life to be over.

Many of us are asking Heavenly Father the same question, “When will this season of my life be over?” We all go about our routines every day, but underneath it all, it feels like we’re missing something. We have wonderful people in our lives that we love and who love us, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to fill the void. However, whenever we’re feeling a bit out of balance, it means that our souls need to be drenched and replenished with the truth of God’s Word. Colossians 2:10(NLT) tells us, “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” God wants us to know that even though it seems we don’t have all the answers, we know the One that IS the answer, Jesus Christ. He completes us, and through Christ, God has given us everything we need to be all He created us to be.

Even though it may feel like it sometimes, the truth is that there are no gaping holes in the lives of those that God has called. We may feel out of place, but this is often because we haven’t understood 2Chronicles 15:7. In this verse, God tells His people living in Old Testament times to be strong and courageous. He didn’t say “FEEL strong and courageous, but BE strong and courageous.” When God tells us to “BE” something, He means for us to get it done. It’s not dependent on how we feel, it is dependent upon our obedience to hear His command and obey it.

God informs us in Malachi 3:6 that He doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This “trust-and-obey” response that God expects from us is not something you and I can neglect. It is demanded of every born-again believer. We get so busy with our lives, that we begin to run them as though they were our own, but God tells us in 1Corinthians 6:19-20(NLT), “19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

We don’t belong to ourselves. Although we think we know ourselves so well, and we may feel some type of way at times, God is in control. He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 that He knows the plan He has for us, and it’s a good one. Our pleasure, privilege, and responsibility are to walk with God every moment of each day. It’s to stay in His Word, to pray often, and to seek His guidance and direction in all that we do.

He told His people that their work would be rewarded. Many of us go to our jobs every day, and we expect our employers to compensate us for the work that we do. It would never occur to us that they would refuse to pay us for our labor. Well, God is THE REWARDER! He is faithful to His Word, and He never breaks a promise. He tells us in Hebrews 11:6(NLT), “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” God rewards those who love and trust Him, and this is where our faith must be.

Life’s solutions are always found by looking at the example of Jesus Christ and keeping our eyes focused on him. The challenge for many of us is keeping our eyes on the prize as we patiently endure the disappointments, heartaches, tribulations and sometimes boredom that comes with life. The reality is that “trust and obey” must be anchored in us and God is the only One who knows when it is. Our level of faith in Him must outweigh any other thing in our lives, and His love must completely fill our hearts. The work that we are called to do is to build our faith in the reality of who God is, not in what He can do for us. When knowing God is our sole motivation, He guarantees that all the pieces of our puzzle will fit together perfectly.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“God Makes the Pieces Fit Together”, written by KLizzie for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!