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!

Leaving the Past Behind

Ecclesiastes 7:9-12(NLT)
“9
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.”

Angela was mandated by the courts to enter an anger management program. She physically assaulted her husband in a domestic dispute, and the incident resulted in her being taken away in handcuffs by the authorities. She received a restraining order with no contact with her husband. At the time, she thought this was one of his sneakiest and most damaging manipulations. He would never entertain physical violence, although had he chosen, he might have easily overpowered her physically. A very intelligent man, Angela’s husband was masterful with mental and emotional manipulation. He held a grudge and wanted to put Angela in her place. When she slapped him because of his affair, he called the police.

It was one of the lowest points in Angela’s life. She knew better and was embarrassed and ashamed. She also thought that he should have been the one in anger management, but she discovered a lot about herself in these mandated classes. Self-discipline and patience are required for Godly living and learning to control outbursts of anger can go a long way towards our own personal healing and spiritual growth. Angela learned to let go of old negative patterns, and to stop looking back to the past and allowing it to define her present and future reality.

Many people look back at their lives and think about the good old days, before they faced adversity and before they made catastrophic mistakes. We don’t think about the reality that God covered us in a tremendous amount of grace, because even in the good old days, we had behaviors and attitudes that might have created the environment for the adversities and mistakes we later encountered.

We want to go back to those good old days, but the truth is that we can’t bring anything from our past into the present and future, and if we try, we’ll be stuck, and this isn’t what God wants. Ecclesiastes 7:10(NLT) tells us, “Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise.” With this wisdom, our Heavenly Father is warning us about our attitude towards His goodness and grace. When we put God first in all we do, and we seek Him first before any other person or thing, He will reward us. There isn’t anything better than living in Christ. With him, life gets better and better, from faith to greater faith. Our attitude of gratitude must indicate we understand this.

The reality of where He has brought us and what He has brought us through is greater than anything in our pasts. The events and situations of the past will never be again. This is a very challenging truth for humans to accept but accept it we must if fulfillment and joy in life are our goals. We must stop ourselves from focusing on the past, because it slows us down, and it can keep us from moving forward.

In the Book of Genesis, we learn about the record of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. He and his family moved to Sodom and Gomorrah, and this was a dastardly wicked place. So much so, that the Lord destroyed it, but God spared Lot, because this was Abraham’s request. An angel of the Lord had given Lot and his family firm instructions and told them that as they escaped, they were not to look back. Lot’s wife didn’t follow this instruction. Genesis 19:26(ESV) states, “But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”

Some say she met with such a tragic end because of her disobedience, but we can’t stop there. The directive from the angel was purposeful. Looking back is often a signal that we’re not prepared to embrace the newness ahead. Looking back demonstrates that our hearts are clinging to what has passed. It means we’re stuck, and sometimes tragically so, like a pillar of salt.

The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13(NLT), “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” This is the mentality and attitude we must have as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. God doesn’t want the problems, regrets, and situations of the past to keep us stuck in things like anger, shame, and resentment. When we are stuck and haven’t healed to the point where the past no longer impedes us, we might bring bad habits and behaviors of the past into the new life that Christ has made available to us. This is what Angela did.

She was emotionally and mentally exhausted. She was spiritually malnourished, and her faith in God was not where it is today. Angela was shocked at her actions, but when there’s deep and unresolved anger, the only solution is to allow the love of God in those deep places. There was no excuse for Angela’s use of physical violence. She knows now that her husband’s infidelity and disregard triggered a level of anger that she had seen playout in her own parent’s marriage. She needed to break this cycle through the love of God in Christ.

We might fantasize about what it would have been like to not have the pain and heartache we’ve experienced, but this doesn’t alter the reality of our past. We can’t change our pasts. They are gone forever. We can only change our right now so that our futures look brighter and clearer with the help of the love of Christ.

When we know better, we have the tools to do and live better. We need to know that it’s not only possible to leave the past behind, God requires it. He has given us a new life in Jesus Christ, and this means we have a new nature of love within. God will not force us to choose His love. He will not force us to leave rage, anger, resentment, and hurt in the past, and embrace the love of Christ which makes us stronger. But He wants us to know that He created us out of His love to live in His love. He created us to walk in the light and liberty of Christ. If we will humble ourselves before Him and trust in His love, He will help us to transform from the inside out. We’ll get to a place where the mistakes of the past will pale in comparison to the person we’ve become through His love. ■

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.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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

When We Lose Our Balance

1Corinthians 4:20; For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. 21; Which do you choose?

“Ok God, you have my attention now, what in the world did I do wrong?”

A few years ago, I fell and broke my elbow. At that time, I had enough spiritual knowledge to recognize that my fall was not an ordinary oops but a severe wake-up call. Although falls are common, we have to always go back to God’s natural order. As God’s children, we’re covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. God doesn’t want us to be hurt in any way, for any reason. Life happens, but we are called by God to pay attention to the consequences of all missteps, mishaps, and mistakes, because we can learn from them.

Psalms 37:23-24 (NLT) tells us, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. 24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”  Both literally and figuratively, a fall symbolizes that balance has been lost. Something is out of alignment and it’s our responsibility as spiritually mature individuals to examine what has caused us to become out of balance and why.

Falling can sometimes be a signal that we’re getting close to going off the path of God’s righteousness in some way. It can also be a wake-up call to the reality that we are veering too far away from the purpose God has for our lives. We’re not paying attention to the things that matter most to Him, and we need to slow down, take a pause, and think about what we’re doing.

John 4:24(NLT) tells us, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Our Heavenly Father is a Spirit, and everything He has created is spiritual. Genesis 1:26 tells us that He has created us, human beings, in His own image. He has created this extraordinary universe, and He’s created this planet, earth, for our habitation. We are like Him! He created us in His own image so He can relate to us. We are human spirit and human soul housed in a human body. Everything about us was perfectly designed by our Heavenly Father to love Him, have a relationship with Him, and relate to others through Him.

Romans 8:29-30 informs us that God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, His one and only begotten Son. This passage also tells us that He called, justified, and qualified us to snuggly fit into the purpose for which we were called. Our lives are not random. They are ordered by God. Jeremiah 29:11 affirms that God has a good plan for our lives, a plan to give us a future and a hope. There’s no falling or hiccups in His plan for us. He’s a God of peace and everything God does is in order. So, when we fall in any way, it’s a spiritual occurrence of which we can derive spiritual information regarding where we are in the things of God.

Again, everything, and I do mean E V E R Y T H I N G, is spiritual. There will never be a way to extract ourselves from this truth. Those with a prideful mindset may have difficulty with it because they want to live according to the flesh, but that’s not the way children of God live. We walk by faith and not by sight. When we depend solely on our physical eyes and not on our spiritual eyes, we’re not actually seeing what’s in front of us. In this state, a person can fall several times before he or she recognizes they need to pay attention to our Almighty God.

A fall may show up in the form of a failed relationship, a lost job or losing your home. Loss can very often symbolize imbalance, and this isn’t God punishing us. He doesn’t want us to feel bad about ourselves or to be tripped up in life. He wants us to wake up and draw closer to Him so He can help us. The Apostle Paul said in 1Corinthians 13:11(NLT), “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” Immature or childlike behavior as an adult will always lead to situations that provide an opportunity to mature in the Lord.

Whenever or however we fall, we can rest assured that our ground can never be too shaky for God to make our crooked paths straight. He is always here for us if we would just humble ourselves and ask for His help. As adults, we will often try and take matters into our own hands. We get ahead of God and this is never a workable strategy. We must take heed to God’s signal, correct our courses, and begin to allow Him to lead, guide, and direct us. He knows where we should be, when we should be there, and He knows how to get us there.

Humility is where it’s at! Humility expresses our love for God, and it activates us in His purpose. It’s necessary to surrender to God through humility because this is what aligns our actions and behaviors with the move of God’s Spirit.

We were never meant to do this thing called life alone. Galatians 5:1 tells us that now that we have been freed from the bondage of slavery by Jesus Christ, we must never again allow anyone or anything to saddle us with bondage again. We can’t have a double standard where we yield to God in certain areas but not at all in others. He commands us Galatians 5:25 to live in His Spirit and to walk by His Spirit. Then, instead of falling because of the circumstances of life, we will fall more in love with God through the Lord Jesus Christ and allow His Word, plan, and purpose to always keep us standing stable and strong. ■

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.

“When We Lose Our Balance”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

LOVE is a Decision

1John 4:7-11(NLT)
“7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  9 This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Do you believe God loves you? Do you feel His love for you in your heart, or are you not too sure about this? There are lots of people in our lives, and most of us interact with them almost every day. Whether its family, friends, coworkers, colleagues, or pets, many of us allow ourselves to care for others and this feels very natural to us, sometimes we do it without giving it much thought. The truth is that the only reason any of us can love others is because God has made it possible through His love for us. 1John 4:8 tells us that God is LOVE!

We are able to feel the emotions of love and put it into practice through our feelings, sharing, and kindness because God created us this way. He wove His love into us, and if we choose to, we can love everyone. But here is the truth that we all must accept; love is a choice. It is a decision that we each must make. As it relates to romantic relationships, there’s a saying that people can’t help who they love. This saying or sentiment sounds very dreamy, and many of us buy into it. We long to be swept off our feet by someone that pulls these emotions from us. Although this attraction can come with very strong urges for both people, these feelings are not uncontrollable. We very definitely can and should control them.

How do we know that we can and should control these emotions? We know it because 2Timothy 1:7(NLT) tells us, For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Self-discipline is required for a successful life in Christ, especially when it comes to our emotions. Romantic love is a beautiful aspect of God’s love, but we must never forget that it is birthed out of our relationship with Him. It comes from HIS love. His desire is that we love like Him. Loving through Christ should be our primary concern, and it is always and forever the goal.

Romantic love is composed of affections that are carved out of physical attraction. Our flesh is very much engaged, and we place all kinds of limitations and restrictions on this kind of love. We don’t just love anyone or everyone romantically. There are all kinds of conditions that we set ourselves. Most of these have nothing to do with the way God loves us, they are based on our five senses. The person has to look or act a certain way, have a certain amount of money, or have a certain profession or job. We allow ourselves to love someone romantically based on criteria like these, and whether or not our senses are heightened or stimulated.

God’s love isn’t concerned with those conditions. He loves without discrimination. 1John 4:9-10(NLT) declares, “He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be a sin offering for the entire world. He did this when we were at our absolute worst. By this, we clearly know that God’s love is unconditional and without limits. He loves us through and through, and He is fully committed to love us continually. He goes on to tell us that since He’s demonstrated His overwhelming love for us through Christ, we must then love one another with this same unconditional, limitless love.

Because of God’s love, we can love others. We didn’t come up with love, and we don’t define what love is or how it operates. God has done this. We are to love through Him. Emotions and feelings are only a small part of it. Love is so much more than emotions. It’s a commitment and it’s also a decision. And God’s love will take us beyond our comfort zones. It will stretch us to express love through faith and not through any conditions or circumstances that we might bring to the table.

The confidence to love through the love of Jesus Christ takes fear out of the equation. 1John 4:18(NKJV) says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Making the decision to love includes the little things that we do for one another, even when we don’t feel especially loving. It is more about your choice to demonstrate love than about having a motivation to receive love. God takes care of our needs, so He will always have our backs when it comes to what we do or don’t deserve. Our responsibility as His children is to not get entangled with how a person looks, how they dress, or how much they love us back. We are to do as 1Peter 3:8-9(NLT) instructs, “8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.”

God is looking for our commitment to love through the love of Christ. This is what He wants to see in our hearts, because learning to love through the example of Jesus Christ is the only way to be prepared for marriage or to be prepared for anything else in life. We love God by being obedient to His Word. Our Heavenly Father has given us this capacity, and it begins when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. Colossians 2:10 tells us that it is because of our union with Jesus Christ that we are complete. If we are committed to him and his example in the way God requires, we will have all that we need to walk in God’s love and love others the way He has commanded us to.■

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.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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

Change Your Ways

2Corinthians 7:9(NLT)
"Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way."

No matter how many times you seem to move forward in your life, all it takes is one word of bad news and the pain, fear, and nervousness rear their ugly heads and set you back. They make you think they’re running the show, and it makes us feel so down. When I read the verse in 2Corinthians 7:9, I was reminded that pain can be purposeful because it can cause us to change in ways that we never thought possible. 

You might ask, “Why do we need to go through pain in order to change our ways?” I also asked myself this question, but what quickly came to me is the freedom that God extends to us by allowing us to choose. We have free-will choice, and we get to choose how we’re going to respond to situations. God is the complete opposite of the hurtful feelings we experience. He represents love and liberty for us, and He doesn’t ever want us to feel pain. But if we are going about our daily routines of life, walking around asleep to God’s Word and what He’s called us to do, pain and sorrow will inevitably find their way to us. Our hiccups and missteps can almost always be tied back to something we could have changed or could have let go but didn’t. 

God is a loving Father. He is full of joy and love, and He wants us to be full of joy and love as well. Jesus Christ said in John 10:10 that he came to the earth in order to make a more than abundant life available to us. So, we should be confident that Heavenly Father wants us to have a successful life. And in order for us to have the life that Christ made available, God commands us to live like Jesus Christ; we are to live through him. This means we must pattern our lives after the example Jesus left for us. 

We experience discomfort when everything around us is conspiring to help us recognize that change is in our midst, and we need to make some adjustments before life no longer cooperates with our refusal to do so. Emotional stress is often a blinking indicator that something is going on internally that requires our attention. Sometimes it relates to an area in our lives that we have not yet given God access to, like our significant relationships, for instance. 

Many women have difficulty prioritizing when it comes to the love they feel for a man and the love they should have for God. We must understand that our love for God should be exponentially higher, more intimate, and more fulfilling than the love we have for anyone else. Jesus Christ commands us in Mark 12:30(NLT), “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”  We must love God with all that we are, and this is not up for negotiation. As we think about what we need to change, alter, or increase about ourselves and our faith, this is the first place to start. 

We need to ask ourselves if we are loving God the way Jesus Christ has commanded. Some of us never ask this question of ourselves, and this is sometimes what our sorrows will reveal. Going back to 2Corinthians 7:9, Heavenly Father reminds us that the positive change that our sorrows spark is the greater gain. In His Word, He tells us His expectations regarding how we should change. He spells out exactly what we should remove from our lives, and exactly the kind of love that should saturate our hearts, and not only this, it is the kind of love we should be receiving from others. In Ephesians 4:30-32(NLT), Heavenly Father tells us, “30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

As God’s children, we are created to house His Spirit and to be conduits of His divine love. We aren’t built to hold on to bitterness, rage, anger, and evil behavior. Not only can these heavies break us down physically, but they take a toll on us spiritually. We can’t be who God has called us to be when our hearts are not flooded with His love and goodness. Change can be very challenging, but we cannot grow without it, and growing in Christ is our reason for being on this earth. We must always remember that we are never alone. The Lord is with us always, and He will never forsake us. We can be comforted in the reality that He is helping us to develop spiritual character, and when we have reached the level of spiritual maturity that He desires, He will be pleased, and we will be rewarded. ■

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.

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

Don’t Let the Pain Turn You Away from God

John 14:1(NLT)
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”

Monica handles pressure well, she has to. She’s a single parent with two children, and one has autism. Four months ago, she moved two hours away from her family and friends to get away from an abusive relationship. Brady was so loving and tender with her and the kids in the beginning. He was especially good with Jason. His younger brother has autism, so having Brady’s help had made a big difference in their lives. After a few months though, she noticed that his drinking was much more than casual. He’d get drunk on the weekends, and at first, it was just the verbal abuse, but then turned physical when she’d confront him about the drinking. 

When she and the boys moved, she found it more challenging than she had expected. She missed Brady and hated what alcohol had done to him and to their relationship, but she couldn’t allow him to come back into their lives. It was too painful. They needed this fresh start, and she was back to juggling a million things on her own, but she felt different. This time she was really struggling to hold it together, and she wondered if she was finally at her breaking point. 

In Matthew 11:28-30(NLT), Jesus Christ instructs us to, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Most of us know that he wants us to come to him with all our troubles and pray for his help and guidance, but sometimes we see our problems bigger than we see his willingness and ability to help us. 

Monica was angry with herself for getting involved with Brady and allowing him to be such a big part of her kid’s life. She felt she should have been more careful. On the other hand, the first few months of their relationship was one of the best times of her life. He was everything she wanted a man to be. Still shocked at how quickly things went downhill, she wondered if she’d ever be able to trust anyone again. She decided to put all her feelings and emotions on the backburner and just plow ahead, taking care of her kids and doing what she had to in order to make their lives work. The problem is that bouts of sadness were more frequent, and harder to ignore. 

In 1Thessalonians 5:17(NLT), God commands us to “Pray without ceasing.” He knows we have responsibilities at home and at work. He knows we have obligations that must be tended to, so He doesn’t mean that we should be praying repeatedly and continually, 24/7. He means that a large part of our spare time should be spent in prayer to Him in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:10-11(NLT) tells us, “10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” And Jesus Christ tells us in John 14:13-14(NLT), “13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”

We make mistakes and errors in judgment, and we sometimes end up in a lot of emotional pain, but we must not allow it to turn us away from God. He is faithful to help us. He tells us to trust in Him, and when we trust in Him, we can rest in Him. This means that we will need to give ourselves the pleasure and privilege of getting to know God on a greater level. Romans 10:17(NKJV) tells us, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Our faith is increased when we hear and learn more about God through His Word. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to keep guard over our hearts because the heart is the place where all the issues of life are determined. If we study and read God’s Word, it will shield our minds and hearts from chaos and confusion and give us God’s peace.

God is the answer to all our problems, no matter how hurtful or complex they may be. He wants a close relationship with us, and He wants to be a part of every aspect of our existences, but we have to do the things He has told us to do. We must invite Him into our situations and circumstances by praying often, reading and studying His Word, and by having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The source of our strength, peace, joy, and power is in God. When we turn away from our pain and run into His arms with all that we are, He will not disappoint us. The Lord will comfort us with His love and heal our hearts as we seek to grow closer to 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.

“Don't Let the Pain Turn You Away from God”,  written by Kyada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

He Had Two Families and She Didn’t Know It

How does a woman with four children, all under the age of 12, find herself abandoned after 13 years of marriage by a man that has another family, and she knew nothing about it? Were there signs that she missed? Was she so busy with everyday life and the kids that she ignored what was happening in her marriage? Or could it be that she was so consumed with taking care of everyone else that it never dawned on her to take care of her own needs? Did she nurture her connection to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, or did she prioritize everything else ahead of it? It can be very challenging to hear and face, but there is always a reason behind every event, experience, and encounter in life. We don’t always know the reason, but God knows. If we are willing and ready, He’ll help to open our eyes, and we can begin to heal and restore our lives using these three very important guideposts.

God’s Kingdom and Righteousness
Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 6:33(NKJV), “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” This is a piece of truth that is meant to ground us completely and thoroughly. It tells us definitively what we should place in the number one spot of every aspect and experience of our lives. God and the things of His Kingdom can never be number two. As a matter of course, every living and thinking being prioritizes. It’s something we humans do, and we prioritize beginning with what is most important to us. If at any time, we allow God and the things of His Kingdom to slip below first place, and we make other things more important to us than our relationship with Him, we will be in big trouble. We will see the opposite of what Jesus Christ has stated in Matthew 6:33. This means that instead of ‘all these things’ being added to us, they will be subtracted from us.

Our marriages and significant relationships are often attacked by the enemy, because he hates God’s institutions, and the devil vehemently comes against unity. 1Corinthians 14:33 lets us know straightforwardly that God isn’t the author of confusion. Confusion and chaos belong to the devil, so when we are severely attacked and emotionally distraught, we know who to blame, but we cannot stop there. If we do, we might miss the elevation and promotion God has for us. We must have the courage to look under the hood, so we more confidently put on the weapons of spiritual warfare and therefore will not continue to be outsmarted by the devil.

Forgiveness, not condemnation
None of us are perfect. We make mistakes, and some of those mistakes are doozies. We make these mistakes sometimes because we’ve been lured into a trap. God warns us in 1Peter 5:8(NLT), “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” Just as angels see what we’re doing, demonic spirits do as well. Angels protect us according to our faith, and demons are dispatched by the enemy to identify our sin and weaknesses; they are looking for a legal way to cause chaos and confusion in our lives, because they cannot do it illegally. Our mis-prioritization of not seeking God’s Kingdom and Righteousness first, as well as any other sin we commit, gives the devil and his cohorts the legal opportunity to interrupt God’s agenda for our lives.

We are the ones to open the door. Sometimes we do it unconsciously or out of ignorance, but our failure to seek God and His Will preeminently is just the opening the devil is looking for. Heavenly Father does not want us wallowing in self-condemnation, blaming ourselves, and putting ourselves down for being blind. Romans 8:1 tells us that Jesus Christ has done away with that condemning business for those who walk after the Spirit. Through his sacrifice on the cross, he cancelled out all the charges the devil could bring against the believer. So, we shouldn’t want to minimize in any way the work of the cross. Condemnation is a tactic of the devil to keep the believer down. TRUTH will always lift us up and open our eyes to the light of Christ.

Causing emotional distress is an evil plot to keep us licking our wounds so we will not know and seek the deliverance God offers. In the case of our significant relationships, many of us get caught up in bitterness and resentment, blaming the other person for the tremendous hurt they’ve caused. We get angry and sometimes this anger turns to rage. The bitterness, resentment, anger, and rage we feel didn’t just suddenly show up on the scene. Even before the husband’s infidelity was exposed, those feelings were in us. But because the infidelity is out in the open, we can see our patterns of behavior. We can now lay bare before Heavenly Father, which is what He requires. We must seek His forgiveness for any sin we’ve committed and place our focus on our relationship with Him.

Jesus Christ is your hope
When there’s an issue in our families that critically impacts us and our children, we might feel helpless and hopeless. But we must remember that feelings and emotions cannot hold a place of governing authority in our lives. Only Jesus Christ can hold this position. He opened the door to the throne of God’s unyielding grace, love, and mercy. Our responsibility is to walk through that door, so that we might obtain God’s favor and mercy, especially in the time when we need it most. Our emotions and feelings will tell us to come apart at the seams, but Jesus Christ tells us to put our trust in God, and do not lean on our own understanding.

1Peter 1:3-4(NIV) tells us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…” Praise opens the door to deliverance! We should praise God with all that is within us for what He accomplished for us through Jesus Christ! Most of us haven’t understood the resurrection and all that was done through it. Because of what our Redeemer has done, God reconnected us to the brilliance of His purpose. This purpose is that we have His Spirit actually living inside of us. You cannot engage your victory in all the fullness of what God meant your life to be, unless you come out of emotional enslavement and begin to walk in the liberty of Christ. Your origin is not earth, it’s heaven, and in order to access its resources, you must grasp your completeness through Christ. He is the way! He is your hope, and he cannot fail.

If someone fails to honor who you are, never allow it to define your identity. That man may have another family and you didn’t know it, but now that you do, refuse to be defined by the trick the enemy has played. Open your eyes, pray often, and let the Lord lead you to the victory and treasures that He desires to give you.■

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.

 “He Had Two Families and She Didn’t Know It”, written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Less Talking and More Praying

The hope of every believer is that things will get better. This is always our hope, but we cannot be ignorant of the truth, and we certainly cannot ignore Biblical prophecy. People have been wicked a very long time, and even now, as unprecedented challenges are upon the entire world, arrogance and a desire for more power still consume the hearts of many people. As soon as one fire smolders, another begins to burn with unyielding fury. You wonder what’s next, and how bad can it get. Some of us are experiencing a heighten level of anxiety about all this, but God has not changed and neither has His Word. He tells us in Philippians 4:6(NLT), “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” God has told us to pray instead of worrying. It is our responsibility as believers to get very clear about what God is demanding of us in this hour and figure out a way to make sure it happens.

As we look at the trouble in the world, we know that it is the devil’s handywork, and that it is designed to steal our attention away from our relationship with God. 2Corinthians 4:4(NLT) tells us, Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” Our Heavenly Father did not want us to be ignorant concerning His number one enemy. He has told us straightforwardly that the devil is the god of this world. One of the methods the devil uses to add to his kingdom of darkness is to blind people, so they don’t understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their minds are so consumed with this world that they can’t see the truth. They are walking around asleep and they don’t even know it.

God tells us in 1Thessalonians 5:5(NLT), “For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.” Children of the light are those that have come to God, asked Him to forgive their sins, and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior by believing in his resurrection. John 1:12(NLT) tells us, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Don’t add to darkness

It cannot be lost on us that there are way more people that have not accepted Jesus Christ as Lord than those of us that have. Now, more than ever, we must prove who we are. If we say that we represent Christ, there should be fruit that backs this up, and one of them is our refusal to add to darkness and our commitment to add to light.

Now is not a time for dwelling on the darkness of what we see around us. It is a time for less talking and more praying. God did not cause the tribulation and disappointments we’ve endured, but through them He has prepared us for such a time as this. James 5:16 tells us that the earnest prayers of the righteous has great power and produces great results. Our hearts have been seasoned through every tear we’ve shed, and today we are better able to pray for others with the authority and power of Christ. This is our responsibility as his followers. We must not allow ourselves to be diverted from this task.

Some of us have wondered what to do, because we’re feeling like we’re surrounded by limitation. This must not keep us from pursuing God’s Will. We hear so much about fulfilling our purpose, and prayer is the way to approach it. God tells us in 1Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing. This doesn’t mean that we can’t take care of our other responsibilities, but we should be praying much more often than we do. And we should be asking Heavenly Father to help us grow in our relationship with Him so that we reach higher levels of intimacy in our prayer lives.

There are places that we can go supernaturally in prayer that will close the wrong doors and open the right ones. Whole communities, even cities, can be released from darkness because of our prayers, but we won’t get there if we can’t control our tongues. 1Corinthians 6:19-20(NLT) tells us, “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, for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Your body is God’s temple. His Spirit lives inside you and prayer time should be one of communing with God through the Holy Spirit. We can have a wonderful encounter with Heavenly Father through His Spirit, and prayer, praise, and thankfulness opens the gate.

We can’t commune with darkness all day long, let it inside our eye-gate and ear-gate continually, and then expect it to be easy to let the peace of God rule our minds and hearts when it’s time to pray. No. We must guard our hearts in such a way that we can enter into that blessed place every time the Spirit beckons us there, but some of us are so consumed with what is happening in the world that we can’t even hear the Spirit calling us. Let’s change this. With all due haste, it’s time to get on our knees for our families, loved ones, and communities. So many people are in trouble, so many are desperate for help. We may not be able to provide financial resources, but we can pray for them in faith, and ask the Father to deploy heaven’s armies to help us all. Prayer in the name of Jesus Christ is the very best help we can offer, and we must be diligent to it because God has called us to get it done.■

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.

 “Less Talking and More Praying”, written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

The Rebuilding Phase

Lexi was waiting at the red light, both hands clutching the steering wheel as drivers behind her furiously blew their horns. Two male sympathetic pedestrians trying to get her attention in the kindest way they could, yelled. “Sweetheart, don’t cry! It will be all right!” Tears bolting down her face uncontrollably, the kind words of the pedestrian strangers delivered just enough of an intervention. She looked at them pitifully, noticed the greenlight, and drove through. Utterly distraught, she had no awareness of driving home. Automatic recall had taken over her usual routines and for weeks, all she did was go through the motions. Her heart was so broken that she became both emotionally and physically ill.

She was defying the wisdom of her grandmother by allowing her world to be totally shook by a breakup with a man. And to be honest, she never thought this would happen. Jayden, her boyfriend for the last two years had honestly believed that if he ever got married (and it was a big ‘if’) that Lexi would be the one, but when the ultimatum she’d given him was nearing its expiration date, things fell apart. Undeniably they made a beautiful couple, and Jayden had always tried to be very careful with her feelings. He remembered her birthdays with special gifts and sometimes flowers. He made space for her in his life, and was very attentive when they spent time together, but he wouldn’t commit to a wedding date, and made no assurances that they’d actually get married.

Lexi loved him so much, and she wouldn’t accept that rather than give her a date, Jayden opted to end the relationship. Lexi’s love was a heavy glob of affection and fear, and although Jayden didn’t articulate this to her, he was repelled by the weight of her insecurities. When she saw him with someone else days after their breakup, the pain was beyond anything she had ever experienced. She felt as if the bottom had fallen out from beneath her.

It’s true that you and I don’t know what rests at the core of our beings until an event brings those emotions and feelings to the surface. We often think that the hurt and heartache are new feelings that we’ve never had before, but this is a misconception. These emotions and feelings are already in us. As hurtful as they are, they are showing us the places within that have been hidden in darkness. They were beneath our consciousness, meaning we didn’t know they were there and had been operating in our lives as if they didn’t exist. Even those parts of us must be exposed to the love of God. His love must go down deep, and most of us will only go deep when we’ve clung to someone or something very tightly, and the enemy has caused the loss of that someone or some-thing.

Life comes with challenges, and some of those can be painful. We all know this, but the severity of the impact may reveal the degree to which we may have prioritized the someone or the some-thing over and above our relationship with God. We must understand that placing anyone or anything in life ahead of our relationship with God will cause devastation, because it means we are disobeying the commandment of Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:33. This commandment tells us to seek God first, it is to lean totally on Him as our Provider and Source of all things. When we’re doing this in the way Christ commands, we will not behave as if someone or some-thing else is our source. We will not be paralyzed, the way Lexi was, when we find we must go on without them or it.

Jesus Christ also teaches us in Mark 12:30(NLT) about the greatest commandment. He said, “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” In other words, we are to love God with all that we are. He would not tell us to do something that we’re incapable of getting done. As God’s children, He made sure to give us the ability to love Him this way, and we are to do it by modeling the example of Jesus Christ. We are to love God the way the Son loves God.

When we come into consciousness about what we’re treasuring in our hearts, and we find out that we might be treasuring someone else’s love more than God’s love, some reconstruction is necessary. We need to enter a rebuilding phase of fortifying our believing and knowledge of Jesus Christ as we allow his love to saturate our beings.

1Peter 5:8(NLT) tells us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” We see this a lot in relationships. We fall so deeply in love with a person and we place all our eggs in that person’s basket. This gives the devil just the opportunity he is looking for to wreak havoc on our lives. When this happens, as hard as it may be, it gives us an opportunity to come face to face with our vulnerabilities. It’s an opportunity to rise up in the authority of Jesus Christ and regain the power the enemy tried to steal.

To rise up in the authority of Jesus Christ, we must know more about him than what we do at the time of our encounter with heartache. The rebuilding phase signals it’s time to grow spiritually, and we don’t do it alone. The Holy Spirit helps us. Jesus Christ tells us in John 14:16 that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, and he will reside with us forever. Our responsibility as God’s children is to partner with the Holy Spirit’s work within. We must pray often, fast, and increase our understanding of God’s Word through careful study. Most importantly, we must spend a whole lot more time with God. This requires us to spend quality time in quiet meditation, just keeping our minds and hearts light, free of worldly distractions, and focused on God’s goodness.

If your heart is broken, give God time to work within you and commit yourself to Him. Meditate on His promises and allow Him to help you rebuild your core through quiet meditation and prayer. He will give you a peace that passes all understanding, and you will be strengthened and healed through His love. ■

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.

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

God Will Fill Our Voids

Heavenly Father chose us to be His sons and daughters, and this is the highest honor of all eternity. He is a great big, wonderful God, and the expanse of His creation is incomprehensible to the human mind. In our current times, space travel has permitted some to go far enough outside earth’s parameters to see how very small it is. Earth is but a tiny dot in God’s universe, and He created this tiny dot as a beautiful place for our habitation. We haven’t been the best stewards of it, and we were headed for destruction because most of us chose hate instead of love. God rescued us from ourselves. He saved us through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and He has called us to live holy as His set apart people.

2Timothy 1:9(NLT) tells us, “For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.” Holiness isn’t like any other characteristic or quality. Holy is what God is, and because we were made in His image, He has commanded us to be and live holy as well. He tells us in Ephesians 5:1 to be imitators of Him as His dear children. This means that we live in love the same way that Jesus Christ did when he walked the earth as a human being.

Holiness is set-apart-ness for God’s special purpose. The psalmist said in Psalm 4:3(NLT), “You can be sure of this: The LORD set apart the godly for himself. The LORD will answer when I call to him.” This verse demonstrates that holiness is an aspect of our relationship with God that brings us closer to Him, and our commitment to holiness causes our relationship with Him to grow. Therefore, it causes us to increase in spiritual strength.

Many people have often thought of holiness as an attribute that is only sought and achieved by a few religious people. It is also a commonly held notion that some that call or consider themselves holy must do uncommon or challenging things to prove their holiness. 1John 4:18 tells us that there is no fear in the love of God in Christ. In truth, love and fear are polar opposites, and they cannot exist in the same space. We don’t have to be afraid of any attribute or aspect of Godliness or holiness, and we should not walk in fear of what others will think, say, or do because they see us living and behaving as God’s set-apart people. We are to walk in the liberty of Christ. He has set us free from being beholden to society’s opinions and judgments.

Holiness and Godliness should be the nature that every believer in Christ strives to achieve. But sometimes we don’t quite hit the mark. Either because of the challenges of life or because of other situations and experiences we had in the past, we feel empty inside. We feel a void, and many of us attribute this feeling to not having something or someone to fill up this void. It is common for individuals that have lost someone very special to experience feelings of emptiness. We feel it when a relationship that was very precious to us has been severed. Single people are very in touch with feeling this gap or void also, it is why they want to be married. They see having a significant person in their lives as filling the void they have felt for a long time.

The gap, void, or emptiness we experience is the place where God would like to be. He fills the voids with His matchless love. Genesis 1:2(NLT) tells us, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The earth was dark and void, but God filled the void with His light. Genesis 1:3(NLT) declares, “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” This is what He will do for us as well when we trust Him.

God’s holiness fills our empty places. He commands us in Ephesians 4:22-24(NKJV), “22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Our old self believes that people and things can fill up our empty spaces and make us feel whole, but if you try to build the foundation of your life on people and things, you’ll have a shaky foundation at best. 2Samuel 22:32(NLT) boldly affirms, “For who is God except the LORD? Who but our God is a solid rock?” The Lord invites us to fill our voids and gaps with Him. He fills our cups. He tells us in Romans 15:13 that He is the Source of our hope! If we will cling to Him in faith, He will completely fill us with joy and peace, so that we overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. ■

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 Will Fill Our Voids”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!