How to Be Content in Life

John 10:10 is probably on every believer’s list of scripture favorites. It’s the words of our Master Jesus, and he teaches us, The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” In this verse, Jesus Christ tells us exactly why he came to the earth. He came to rescue us and to give us a more than abundant life. Most of us would be fine with just an abundant life, but our Heavenly Father deals in the exceedingly abundantly above anything we can ask or think. So, there you have it. More abundant it is! And this is good news indeed! Our problem is that our world has become bombarded with hate, disappointment, mistrust, lies, cruelty, and cynicism. Sadly, it’s rubbed off on many of us, and we no longer believe or stand on the Words of our beloved Savior. We have to change this and turn it around as quickly as we possibly can.

Very simply put, a worldly mindset is one that is shaped and molded by the world. By this, we know that when the Bible refers to the ‘world’, it is defining an anti-Christ consciousness that refuses to honor God. When a mind is blinded in this way, faith eludes it. A worldly mindset can only accept and believe what it perceives through sight and other senses, so it only believes what the systems of the world feed it. This kind of mind is dangerous for the believer, because it is a mind that is disobedient to God’s commandment to walk by faith and not by sight.

The Struggle

As believers, many of us are struggling with John 10:10 because we won’t come to grips with the degree to which we have allowed the world to influence us. We’re not following God’s blueprint, and we want everything on the double. We have refused to put on the Spirit’s fruit of patience, which is God’s requirement. We’re discontent with life because our Heavenly Father doesn’t coddle our refusal to get our heads in the game. He’s committed to our spiritual maturity in Christ, and our excuses will not work.

The discontentment really sets in, and in some cases turns to extreme sadness, when we simply won’t take the initiative to turn things around through our faith in God. In 1Corinthians 3:10(NKJV), the Apostle Paul said, According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.” In this verse, God is teaching us through Paul about His amazing grace. He’s teaching us what we are able to accomplish through His grace and love. Just like Paul, we are master builders who are empowered by God to build on the foundation that our Master Jesus laid for us. We accomplish this by using our entire lives. In other words, our very lives should be the strong, solid layers that we are laying on the foundation of Christ. Jesus laid the initial foundation with his finished work, and our lives should be built on it by following God’s Word.

This is a construction phase that will continue until he returns. Our lives are our building material, and we offer them up to God so He can make them what He desires them to be. We know this because God tells us in Romans 12:1 that our whole lives must be presented to Him as a living sacrifice. Our lives are to be holy and blameless before God, and He is the One that will work within us to achieve all this.

Build a life

A foundation is the load-bearing part of a structure or building. This means that it can withstand pressure, and it can support the weight of other hefty material, structures, fixtures or furniture that may be placed on it. A foundation will not collapse when storms come, and strong winds blow. It will continue standing because it is made well. Our lives must be this kind of foundation or else we will not be able to steward God’s blessings in the way He expects, and most importantly, our house will not be in order when our Lord and Savior returns.

We cannot receive spiritual strength from the world. It’s impossible. We must build our lives from God’s Word, and this requires us to use the building material of the present. We can’t try to build a life from our pasts or from the future. Jesus Christ teaches us in Matthew 6:25-27(NLT), “25That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

We cannot be so dependent on the world’s customs that we’re lost when it comes to living by the light of Christ. But the truth is that some of us don’t have a clue how to build a life. We can change this by doing as Jesus Christ instructs in Matthew 6:31-33(NLT), “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” To lay a foundation of contentment in life, our faith must grow and continually increase in our Heavenly Father. This must come before any other person or thing.

Work with what you have

All we have is right now. If gratitude and thankfulness for this very present moment escapes us, we are in trouble. Sadness, disappointment, insecurity, doubt, and all the other defeating emotions, have their root in fear. They increase because we are not living in the moment as Christ instructs us to do in Matthew 6:31-33. Instead, we’re worried about what happened in the past or in many cases, we’re worried about not having a need fulfilled in the future. We must wake up and recognize that the worry, angst, fear, and doubt that we indulge in this moment is laying the kind of foundation we don’t want for the future. It’s a shaky foundation, and it is not sturdy enough to hold all that God has in store.

Contentment is the choice to clothe ourselves in gratitude to God for the blessings we have right now. He is a faithful God, and He deserves every good thing from us. Paul said in Philippians 4:11(NLT), “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” We must be committed to learn this golden lesson as well. He said in 1Timothy 6:8(NLT), “So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” Heavenly Father doesn’t mean that we should stop wanting greater blessings. He expects us to understand that this moment is all we have, and we should make the most of it with gratitude and contentment before Him; He deserves this. He’s blessed us wonderfully through Christ, and if we’re not as thankful as we should be, we need to pray that He will open our eyes to His goodness. Contentment isn’t having everything we want, it’s the confidence that we have all we need in Christ, and when we need more, we’ll have that too. ■

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.

“How to Be Content in Life”, 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!

Why Did It Have to Be So Bad?

Years ago, when my childhood friend confronted her mother about the abuse that they both had endured from her father, it was like I left my body. Having just graduated from college, I was looking forward to spending time with them and enjoying their company and conversation. It had not occurred to me that my presence would be the source of my friend’s strength to speak what she had left unsaid for many years. Calm turned to anger, and then rage as she blamed her mother for not protecting her all those years. At that time, I lacked the ability to process the pieces of the tragedy that had just shattered a relationship. There the pieces lay, all over the ground. None of us able to say anything in that moment that would comfort or help heal my friend’s soul. I would love to say she recovered, but her life was one of tremendous heartaches and devastation.

Periodically I’d hear news of my friend’s difficulty handling the care of her autistic child and ultimately the heartache of a failed marriage. She retreated inwardly, and this began a decline that none of us could have imagined for her. It’s important we understand that demons who cause molestation and domestic violence have a mission to snatch destinies, and they do it by demolishing the soul in such dark and devastating ways.

Ephesians 6:12(NLT) tells us, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Because many people are not aware of who our real enemy is, they can expend incredible amounts of emotional, mental, and physical energy trying to fight with and against other people. This is an exercise in futility. Without the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, some victims of abuse succumb to living a life of fear and rage. Doing this, succumbing to fear and rage, is very common in those who have suffered childhood trauma like my friend.

Whether it’s sexual or physical abuse, the mental and emotional toll causes some to struggle with always being in fight or flight as adults. The anxiety they experience can be constant. It either prevents them from sleeping or causes a depression that makes them want to sleep all the time.

Abused individuals are often insecure about their decision making, especially when it comes to choosing a significant person in their lives. It is not uncommon for individuals that have been abused as children to choose partners that have abusive tendencies. This repeats the cycle, and when you’ve experienced the viciousness of the repetition, the pressures can be overwhelming. You never quite get the swing of showing up in a relationship as your authentic self, because you don’t really know who that is.

However unpleasant or catastrophic a situation might be, human beings look to impose blame, and often as children, we blame ourselves, even though it’s not our fault. We self-punish and self-sabotage in many ways because the program of shame and guilt is still running internally in the background. The unspoken is that we need answers to questions we have not dared to ask. Questions like why our parents were neglectful and why they didn’t do a better job of protecting us. If we’re brave, we might pull back another layer and ask why God allowed such terrible things to happen to us, as children and as adults.

These are unspoken questions for many individuals, but it is imperative that we go to God for the answers. Our first birth is a physical one, and we are born into a sinful world. This is a brutal truth that happened as a result of the arrogance and disobedience of the human race. Most of us try to run as far away from this truth as we possibly can, but God has allowed us to see what happens when people do not repent from their sin, but instead pass it down from generation to generation.

People might think it isn’t fair that God would create us and then allow us to be born into such a dark place, where parents can do such horrible things to their children, and people can be so cruel to one another. The reality is that if we do not pass through this sinful and dark world, we cannot become God’s children. We cannot be reborn spiritually if we are not first born physically. There was no other entry point for your existence other than the one that fostered the life you now have. We could not have come from different parents or have been born at a different time and still be the people we are today. Situations, conditions, and circumstances, as horrible as some of them might have been, have all converged in a way that they present us with a pivotal choice. Despite all you’ve been through, it is the choice to either remain conformed to this sinful world or to surrender totally and completely to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can heal and deliver us from the emotional and mental torment we’ve been through. All we need to do is trust Him.

There is much suffering here, and Jesus Christ did not keep this a secret. In John 16:33(NLT), he taught the disciples, “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.” Our Lord and Master endured more pain and suffering than any of us. We could not have taken the constant backbiting, lies, slander, and the brutality he endured on the cross. He overcame it all and showed us the way to do the same. He set us free, and by walking in his example and having faith in him, our relationship with God will become tighter and tighter. So, as God’s sons and daughters, even though we know the world is a dark place, we must believe in the victory that Jesus Christ won for us. We came to earth to make this choice.

After all the hardships many of us have endured, we might ask ourselves, “Why did it have to be so bad?” If those before us had lived according to God’s Word and had been obedient to the example of Christ, things would be very different today for all of us. But the truth is that they could have made different choices but didn’t, and the same can be said of us. It’s because of God’s grace that we are living another day to give Him praise, and no matter what we’ve been through, the fact that we have another opportunity to praise Him and give Him glory is all that matters.■

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.

“Why Did It Have to Be So Bad?” written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

He’s Not Who You Thought

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

Psalm 34:18(NLT)

Marriage is one of our most rewarding relationships. Outside of our relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, marriage is the second most significant relationship of our lives. This is exactly how our Heavenly Father planned it. When it comes to human-to-human interaction, marriage is the relationship God established first; it is the foundation upon which families are produced and expanded. God intended marriage to be sacred and uncomplicated. It should be stamped with His brand of love, unity, and peace, because that is the way He created and desires everything to work. The problems and complexities of the world have increased, and one of the downsides is that many of these issues have spilled over into our relationships with one another, particularly marriage.

Because marriage is so important to Heavenly Father’s agenda, it is no secret that the adversary tries to vehemently attack it. As a result of the adversary’s lies and attacks, many of us do not view marriage in the light that God intended for this beautiful blessing. Most individuals see it as a very difficult relationship to maintain, but in truth, marriage is not difficult, people are. Of course, marriage comes with its challenges, but this is the case with anything worth having. Marriage will stretch us to love beyond the threshold of our perceived capabilities. People have free-will. They have choices, and they can change very suddenly. This can be mild, or it can be extreme. But either way, one of the most challenging aspects of marriage is when you think everything is going fine, and out of nowhere, you see a side to your husband you never saw before. It’s one of those instances that stretches our faith, but not to the point of being physically or mentally harmed.

Ephesians 4:31-32(NLT) tells us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” This is God’s instruction to us all. He wouldn’t have told us to conduct ourselves this way if we lacked the ability to get it done. Heavenly Father doesn’t want anyone disrespecting another person. And by the same token, He doesn’t want any of us being disrespected by someone, especially in a marriage. The love of Christ should be in our hearts, and his love should surround our respect and adoration for our spouses. But sometimes our spouses surprise us with their lack of understanding about honor and respect. We see things we couldn’t have imagined or expected to see, and the person we fell in love with is not the person we thought we knew. For some of this, we can apply the powerful combination of prayer and the love of God in Christ, and our spouses are transformed. But we must know that when it comes to violence and abuse, God doesn’t want us in that situation, not even a little bit.

Violence and abuse is more than disrespect, it’s an abuser’s attempt to control, manipulate, harm, and devalue. No one deserves to be treated this way. In most instances, violence and abuse in a relationship doesn’t just go away, as most abused partners will attest. It requires serious spiritual, mental, and emotional intervention, and in all cases of healing and restoration, the abuser must be willing from the depths of their hearts to change.

While dating, many of us fail to discern if the person has a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, or if they hold themselves accountable to Heavenly Father’s moral and spiritual standards. When a person refuses to be accountable to God for their conduct, it is a gigantic red flag. We really don’t have anything to work with when this is the case. It is one of the reasons that God wants us to grow in Christ to the point that we use good judgment and wisdom in our decision-making. When we listen to God, we don’t rush into things. Instead, we wait patiently, walk with Him, and move only as He guides.

The bottom line is that many spouses discover that they weren’t as prepared for marriage as they thought. The spiritual lesson from choices gone wrong is to begin to live our lives in such a way that we depend totally and completely on God in everything we do. He tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6(NLT), “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” It doesn’t matter how old we are, we are still children to God, and no matter how many mistakes we make, He never holds them against us. He wants to help us, because He loves us. He’s our Heavenly Father, and we will never be too old to totally trust Him with all that we are, especially when it comes to marriage.■

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.

“He’s Not Who You Thought”, written by Kyada, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Refuse a Life of Regrets

‘Destiny’ is probably one of the most significant words in human vocabulary. Destiny is coded in our spiritual DNA, and long before we actually arrived on the scene, God wove it in the bloodline that made our very existence possible. At this moment, the search to fulfill our destiny is either driving our aspiration to expand into the person we are meant to be, or the neglect of it is fueling a level of ambivalence that frustrates our every move. Fulfilling one’s God-inspired destiny is the measuring stick by which the umph of life is gauged. Without it, we don’t understand what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. The epiphany that many realize sometimes very late in life is that everything about them was destined for a purpose, and it didn’t become clear until so much had been wasted. When we talk about regrets, this is often a doozy.

The psalmist wrote about the Lord in Psalm 16:11(NKJV), “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Who better to show us the path of life than the Creator of it? He will reveal what He has in mind for us IF we’re interested in following it, but there are a few other things that we must know as well. One of them is about how the Father reveals this path of destiny to us. He’s a God of the exceedingly abundant, but the golden rule of abundance is that it doesn’t support wastefulness. God has structured the laws of the universe in such a way that ignorance and poor stewardship are not rewarded. So, if we have no interest in fulfilling our destiny or gaining knowledge of it, it is doubtful we’ll recognize the path to its treasure; for we will not position ourselves anywhere near its proximity.

Very often, Heavenly Father reveals our purpose in pieces. Once we’ve shown ourselves interested in following the path He’s placed before us, He reveals a nugget and then waits on our response. What should this response be? Primarily, it should be one of gratitude, for this is the key that opens the door to a blessed life. In Old Testament times, people worshipped God by offering the sacrifice of animals, but God made it clear to them in Psalm 50:10 that everything they offered belonged to Him anyway. In Psalm 50:14(NLT), He gives us a directional cue that leads to the path and tells us, “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.”

The sadness of regret is often caused by believing we are worse in the present because of something that happened or didn’t happen in the past. It’s something we perceived as a missed opportunity. We should never become emotionally distraught or vexed over one or two missed opportunities. Our God is a Redeeming God. Nothing is lost to us when His love is the driving force of our lives. Heavenly Father has seen to it that opportunities are strategically positioned all around us, but when our hearts are closed to gratitude, we are blind to opportunities we might otherwise see. This is another very important truth for us to nibble on. Colossians 4:2 encourages us to devote ourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart, because the more thankful we are to God for His blessings, the more opened our eyes will be to what He has in store for us.

In our everyday dealings, we cast serious shade on an individual that walks around like they deserve the best but does nothing to earn it. There’s some biblical basis for this, because Jesus Christ tells us in Luke 6:43-44 The Message (MSG), “You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.” A tree is known by the fruit it produces. In other words, we know the treasury of a person’s heart by their deeds and actions. Our Heavenly Father has shown us who He is, and proved it, through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son.

Our God deserves the highest form of praise and worship. He deserves the greatest of all we have to give, because this is exactly what He has poured into us. Our well of gratitude to Him for what He’s done through Christ enlightens our understanding in ways we can never articulate. Ephesians 3:17 tells us that as our gratitude deepens, our roots grow down into God’s love and keep us strong. This is how we refuse a life of regrets, by clinging to the One who loves us more than we can fathom. The sacrifice and resurrection of Christ shows us how wide, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love is. And when we experience this overwhelming love through Christ, Ephesians 3:19 tells us we will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from our God.■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Refuse a Life of Regrets”  
written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Sold Out on God’s Goodness

I’ve had several conversations with Brenda, a wonderful woman who is over 50 and yearns to be married again. Quite honestly, my heart breaks every time this subject comes up. Brenda’s desire for partnership is palpable and finding a compatible mate invariably comes up at some point in just about all her conversations. She always requests that I pray for her, and she frequently asks me why I think the Lord hasn’t yet answered her prayers, but when I endeavor to encourage her, she won’t allow it to land. She either over-talks me, zones out, or takes only the bits and pieces of what I’ve said that fit with her own narrative.

It’s been ten years since her divorce, and it was an abusive marriage. Brenda struggles with forgiving herself for leaving her husband and still wonders if she did the right thing. For a long time, she believed that God was punishing her for it by not allowing her to marry again. Nothing could be further from the truth, but we can get so dug in when it comes to our way of thinking that we simply refuse to see life any other way. 1John 1:5(NLT) tells us, This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” Gifts from our Heavenly Father cannot be improved, they are perfect, just as He is perfect. He is a Giver in the greatest, most infinite sense of the Word. He does not punish or withhold gifts. He gives freely and it is His great delight to do so.

If we refuse to see God in the truth of His identity, we will not be able to see ourselves in the truth of our identity. Ephesians 2:10(NLT) tells us, For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God calls us His finest work, and He has a plan for our lives. We were not created to wing it as we go along. Psalm 37:23(NLT) says, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Heavenly Father intended our lives to be in total partnership with Him, and His expectation is that we will move according to His Will and Plan for us.

Brenda is beginning to understand that God isn’t punishing her, but she still struggles with doubting God’s love, and she also struggles with negative thoughts about herself. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith in Him, and Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and perceiving the Word of God. Faith is required for every move we make. You cannot get up from where you are sitting without faith in your ability to do so. Romans 12:3 tells us that God gives every person a certain measure of faith, but His expectation is that we will increase it as we continue to pursue His Word. So, when we are not fully persuaded in God’s goodness, life doesn’t cooperate with us in the way we desire. Instead, life responds to our doubt and unbelief, and it continues to show us situations, circumstances, and conditions that reflect our refusal to fully trust God.

This is the insidiousness of darkness. It enslaves until we understand the authority and power we’ve been given through Jesus Christ and refuse to be enslaved any longer. We must come from behind the veil, and 2Corinthians 3:14,16-17(NLT) tells us, “14 And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” The Lord Jesus Christ releases us into his glorious light where we can remain continually under God’s covering. The greatest desire of our hearts must be to trust our Heavenly Father by believing in what He has given us in Christ. God is worthy of our overwhelming and unrelenting trust. He alone is worthy of our praise.

I’m not sure what it will take for Brenda to desire God more than she desires to meet someone new, but rest assured, that is the leap of faith all of us must make to please Him. 2Chronicles 16:9(NLT) tells us, “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be sold-out on His goodness, for He is a good God and there is none that compares to Him. Domestic violence and abuse can do a number on our self-confidence. It can cause us to think the worst about ourselves and others and to even think the worse of our own ability to make good and sound choices, but Jesus Christ is the solution for this. Through him we can be strengthened. We can be wiser from God’s Word, and it is Heavenly Father’s desire that we allow Him to fill up our empty places, so that our minds and hearts are transformed by our faith 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.

“Sold Out on God’s Goodness”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Flip the Script and Increase Your Faith!

Mark 9 chronicles the record of a father who had a son that was possessed with a demon. We live in a time where many folks don’t like to believe there is such an entity as a demon, and they certainly don’t want to think about the possibility that humans can be possessed by them. But God’s Word is true, and our opinions and speculations are meaningless when it comes to the truth. As my grandmother would say, there’s a whole lot of folks on this planet, and many of them are full of the devil; they’re just very clever at disguising it. In the days that Jesus Christ walked the earth, people understood that everything is spiritual, so when the father approached our Master Jesus, this father with a young son understood that he needed a spiritual solution.

The boy and his father had made quite the spectacle that day, and Jesus Christ was very used to there being huge crowds wherever he went. He is charismatic, energetic, kind, gentle, compassionate, intelligent, and more powerful that we can fathom. When he walked the earth, people flocked to him like a magnet. They had great need, and if they had faith in him, their needs were met in a miraculous way. News of Jesus Christ spread quickly and wherever he went, the crowds expected great teaching, healing, and miracles.

Jesus Christ approached the crowd and inquired about all the ruckus. Mark 9:17-18(NLT) tells us, “17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” The father wanted to save his son and was desperate for help. He told Jesus Christ in Mark 9:22(NLT), “The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

It is extremely important for us to pay attention to the details of this account. As a parent, we can relate to the agony of seeing our children in pain, and we can imagine how badly the father wanted his son to be healed, but when he said to Jesus Christ, “IF you can…”, the father revealed that doubt was still calling the shots, and doubt is the enemy of all the blessings of God. So often, we trust the pain and misery the devil sends more than we trust the goodness, power, and willingness of God to bless us. Whether two thousand years ago or today, when doubt dominates our mindsets, the script must be flipped in order for God’s blessing to manifest. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing the truth about Jesus Christ. If the truth isn’t present, faith does not come.

Hebrews 11:6(NLT) tells us, “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’s grace and mercy are never ending, but He is a Righteous Judge who never violates His law. In the systems of laws and governments that humans have produced, we hear all the time about judges and officials that are corrupt and manipulate the system of justice to serve their own interest of power and greed. Our God would never do this. His Word is His law, and it is incorruptible. Our Heavenly Father is beyond faithful to uphold the standards of justice He has set. So, when He tells us that it is impossible to please Him without faith, we have no other choice but to understand that faith in God is a requirement. It is the basis of our relationship with Him. Without it, it is impossible to please our God.

Jesus Christ showed us this in his response to this boy’s father in Mark 9:23-24(NLT). He said, “23 What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” So often we become desponded, disillusioned, and defeated in our minds because we’re up against incredible circumstances, but our believing is going in the opposite direction of faith. The boy’s father asked the Lord Jesus Christ to help him overcome his unbelief. This is the humility that unlocked the door for God to come into the situation and bring the miraculous.

Many of us assume we’re doing this faith walk the right way. When things don’t work out to our satisfaction, we immediately think that God isn’t cooperating with us, when the reality is that we’re not cooperating with God. We’re not getting in His Word daily, learning about Jesus Christ, and praying often. We’re not thinking and speaking what God thinks and speaks, and we’re not believing that God will do what He says in His Word. He keeps His promises. We have to change this, so that we flip the script, increase our faith, and renew our minds by changing the way we think. There doesn’t exist in all of time a substitute for having faith in God, and we don’t get to play at it. Faith in God through the Lord Jesus Christ is necessary to develop our relationship with Him. It allows us to respond to Heavenly Father with the gratitude, reverence, and love that He deserves. Faith is how we come near to God, and when we do, we demonstrate we believe that He exists, and this is something He promises to reward. ■

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.

“Flip the Script and Increase Your Faith!”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Never Give Up!

Prior to the pandemic, a woman I had known for several years passed away. I didn’t consider her a friend, but she was certainly an acquaintance for whom our meeting was very purposeful. Indirectly, she taught me many lessons that have been important to my spiritual journey in Christ. I learned them from observing her actions and from those she depended on for help. Towards the end of her life, she was very miserable and depressed. She seemed to give up even before her condition worsened, and because she did, people around her, including those responsible for her care, seemed to give up too. This was the last lesson I would learn from her, and I made sure to learn it well. Never give up. Even when others abandon hope, fight the good fight of faith.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 1Timothy 6:12 that faith is indeed a good fight! It begins in our hearts, gets its momentum in our minds, and soars with the actions we take to back it. The thing is, many of us think we have it when we really don’t understand what it is. We don’t understand why we’ve been given this potent spiritual substance, and more importantly, many of us haven’t studied God’s Word to know exactly how we should apply it. As a young adult believer, just learning some of the deep truths of God’s Word, initially I thought faith was the way to get God’s goodies. I had been badgered severely by the evil one and his cohorts, and I thought my whole life would be one big struggle. When I learned about having faith in God through the Lord Jesus Christ, I just about jumped right out of my skin! It literally blew my socks off, and I was changed forever.

I had lost my job, had my car repossessed, and was down to ketchup sandwiches—that’s all I had in the frig. Things were really bad, and I couldn’t see a way out. I had no clue that human beings could live with God’s power. The notion had never occurred to me. I felt helpless and hopeless. It popped into my head on more than one occasion that I was being punished, but I couldn’t quite figure out what for. I knew that I wasn’t perfect, but I was being dragged through the mud and my circumstances seemed to be getting worse by the day. God opened my eyes to His Word through wonderful individuals that were willing and relentless to teach me to walk by faith.

John 10:10(NKJV) was a pivotal verse for me. In it, Jesus Christ said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” I felt that my life was far from abundant, but as I started to believe that God’s Will was for me to have a more than abundant existence, I could sense a shift internally. As I began to build my relationship with God, my faith in Him increased and soon the internal shift in my thoughts and feelings made its way into my external circumstances.

Hebrew 11:1 tells us that faith is the title deed to what we hope for, and it is the evidence that we have the thing we’ve prayed to receive even before it shows up. We must believe in what we can’t see. 2Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we must walk by faith and not by sight. We also must learn that our faith must be expressed through the love of Christ. Spiritual maturity beckons us to leave the ‘kid in a candy store’ mentality behind, because it’s an attitude where our focus is mainly consumed with what we want. Intimacy in our relationship with God demands that our focus is on His purpose and fulfilling His plan for our individual lives.

This means that as our faith and spiritual maturity increase, some of the things we’ve held on to so tightly will need to be released. The woman that passed away hit this lesson home for me. I don’t know this for a fact, but it seemed to me that she had spent a great deal of her life being bitter. She complained a lot and had an opinion about everything, and when she didn’t like something, her words could be harsh and biting. I believed this had been her pattern of behavior for a very long time. Whether by receiving a revelation from the Spirit or by an encounter with a believer that had called her out on her stuff, this woman tried in her later years to change her behavior a bit and release some of those negative patterns. She had an epiphany of sorts and must have saw a reflection of who she had groomed herself to be, and she didn’t like what she saw.

She showed me an up-close and personal portrait of what it looks like to spend a lifetime knowing about God, but not spend a lifetime getting to know who He is through Christ. She hadn’t made that intimate connection with Heavenly Father through His Son, and therefore, she hadn’t learned to walk by faith. She didn’t know that a person can believe God to live a good life and actually have one. She hadn’t believed in the miraculous, didn’t think it showed up in people’s lives like it did in mine. And when the circumstances of her life called for her to trust Him to show up in an amazing way, her mind and heart couldn’t make the leap of faith required.

If you and I are not tenaciously, confidently, and exuberantly overwhelmed with joy about the faith that Jesus Christ has given us, then we haven’t truly discovered what faith is. It is potent beyond what you and I can imagine, and in the words of our Master Jesus in Mark 11:23, if we truly believe, through faith in God, mountains can be moved.

We must believe that #1, God is all powerful, #2, that He is a Rewarder who rewards His children, and #3 that He is WILLING and delighted to use His power to help and bless us through the Lord Jesus Christ! Faith is unleased in a powerful way when our attitude and belief is in line with all three truths. You can’t be lackluster in mind and heart about the faith of Jesus Christ, because if you are, you will not be fully transformed into his likeness. The faith of Jesus Christ is more dynamic, transformative, and powerful than anything we could ever hope to acquire. It is the instrument of change for those belonging to the higher consciousness of his love and light. Romans 10:17 tells us faith comes by hearing the Word of God, and it will perform in direct proportion to our level of enthusiasm, reverence, confidence, and belief in God through Christ.

If we are not thrilled beyond excitement about faith, we are not a match for its potency. If we don’t understand that God has given us the same faith that Jesus Christ had, so we can get some good things done in the earth just like him, then we need more knowledge about Christ. The tenacity, endurance, and hopefulness of which we pursue the faith of Jesus Christ will determine its outcome. If you’re anything like me, you want all that God has in store for you. Let’s not be like the poor lady who thought faith was something you take off the shelf for one day a week for an hour or so. Let’s get real about why we’re here and what we’re supposed to be doing. We were created in the image of God and in the likeness of Christ. Faith defines us, and we must fight to bring our minds and hearts equal to its power.■

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.

“Never Give Up!”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Care for the Soul

What makes us pursue someone that hurts us? I’ve seen it more times than I can say. A woman is disrespected, abused, and sometimes cheated on, and when the man leaves, she does everything within her power to get him back. Is our fear of rejection and loneliness so severe that we will do just about anything to keep a warm body near? I personally know women that have compromised their integrity, put their jobs on the line, and even sacrificed the well-being and their responsibilities to their children in order to get the man back. What I’ve learned is that when we abandon the care of our souls, our need for intimate connection can take us down a very dark and dangerous path.

Genesis 1:26 very plainly tells us that God made human beings in His own image. One of the attributes of God’s image is that He is self-governing. He makes decisions, and He doesn’t have to consult anyone about them. He alone is sovereign, and He can do anything that pleases Him. One of the things that pleased Him was to weave this self-governing attribute into our beings as well. We make our own choices and decisions, and God doesn’t stop us from doing this. In all of humanity’s history, there wasn’t a more catastrophic choice and decision than the one Adam and Eve made when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and bowed to satan. Surely, if there were such a thing as God interfering with our choices and decisions, that would have been an occasion when He would have done it. He could have slapped that ol’ apple right out of Eve’s hand and prevented the series of horrific events that led to the fall of humanity, but God didn’t interfere.

Romans 11:29(NLT) tells us, “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.” Heavenly Father allowed Adam and Eve to throw away the treasures of life and holiness that He’d given them. He gave them, and He’s given all of us the gift of free-will agency, and He will not overstep or withdraw it. Understanding His allegiance to His Word also underscores the reality that there’s no mistake any human being can make that God cannot correct. His Will goes forth no matter how foolish we are. Adam messed up big time, and God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to correct Adam’s colossal mistake. Our Heavenly Father could have wiped Adam and Eve from the face of the earth and made it as if they had never existed, but He didn’t do this. He is a redeeming God, and His willingness to offer redemption reveals that He is forgiving, full of love, and He bestows grace and mercy upon those who seek it. This is indeed good news for us!

To redeem is to compensate for the faults or poor aspects of something by exchanging them for something far better. What God did for us through Christ was to redeem us from sin, so that we could be all He originally intended us to be before the first couple’s catastrophic actions. He did this spiritually, and it’s up to us to align our souls so they are in harmony with the overwhelming love God has shown us through Christ.

Sin is not doing things God’s way. Jesus Christ told us in John 14:6 that he is the way, the truth, and the life. So, God has shown us HIS WAY through Christ, but in the minds of most, sin seems like the easiest, most pleasurable and practical choice. The Bible tells us that thoughts like this about sin are those belonging to a person that has a mind blinded by satan. 2Corinithans 4:4 says that because satan has blinded them, they can’t see the glorious light of Christ and don’t understand it. This is the condition of an individual that craves the thing that causes injury to their souls and pursues that thing instead of the healing that comes from God.

Wanting a person so much that we are willing to chase after them even though we know they are not good for us; this shows us the degree to which our souls need nourishment. Fear is a lie from hell. It causes us to abdicate our rightful standing of authority and power in Christ. Fear causes us to hold tightly to what we think will bring us pleasure, because we don’t believe God’s way will achieve a better outcome. God is the One with the plan for our lives. We must not ever underestimate the good plan that He has in store for us, and we must never underestimate how much prayer will help to align our steps with what He has planned.

Darkness will cause us to think that our souls can lead us righteously, and arrogance will cause us to think that we alone can come up with a workable plan. Not so. The good news is that we can indeed become all that we were meant to be and have the life God wants to give us, but our humility is not negotiable. We must surrender our plan for God’s plan.

Heavenly Father told us in Psalm 46:10(NKJV), “Be still, and know that I am God.” Stillness is a spiritual practice, one that requires the discipline to put the soul on lockdown, so that we give our spirit a chance to minister to us according to the Lord’s guidance. We need to cease from responding and reacting to our circumstances and move to the place of spiritual quietness and renewal; it’s a place where we humbly submit ourselves to the leadership of Christ. It’s when we have surrendered all to God and are availing ourselves to Him, and Him alone, in every way possible.

We live in a time where everyone does whatever they feel is right for their own souls, and this is usually done without accountability or responsibility to what God says is right. It simply will not work, and the current state of the world proves this overwhelmingly. Our Heavenly Father backs His Word. He’s supreme and He does not lie. Even though our souls may experience discomfort, it isn’t the person that left they are aching for. Our souls ache to be fed manna from heaven, the everlasting power and virtue of God’s Word. If we’ll make the free-will choice to turn to Heavenly Father and trust what He says, we will receive comfort and calm, as our souls are transformed by the One who made them.■

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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.

“Care for the Soul”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Bound or Loosed

Matthew 16:19(NLT)
“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

I went to a wedding of a dear friend last summer. As I watched this couple declare their devotion for the rest of their lives, I prayed that they would be able to stand strong through whatever would come their way. Over the holidays I spoke to my friend’s brother, and he said that the two of them were having a lot of problems. In his words, “All hell was breaking lose in their marriage.”  He believes it is because his brother is very egotistical and has anger issues. On the other hand, he said, “His wife is very needy and can’t seem to do anything without my brother’s permission.”

God created marriage to be the most rewarding and beautiful gift, but if we’re not spiritually mature, it can also be very challenging. Just about everyone that takes that walk down the aisle underestimates this. One of the most challenging aspects of marriage is dealing with the emotions of another person. At no time should one spouse ever disrespect the other, but situations will arise that can test our limits and stretch us beyond the point we ever thought possible. Most people that are married will attest to the reality that you see all sides to a person as you grow and become one. Sometimes you see things you couldn’t have imagined, even after knowing and dating your current spouse a while before you married.

God has given us the person of the Holy Spirit to dwell within our body temples. Jesus Christ told us in John 16:13 that the Spirit’s occupation is to comfort, teach, lead, and guide us according to the instruction he receives from Christ. Through His Spirit that indwells us, God will prepare us for marital partnership if we allow Him.

Ephesians 1:11 tells us that God predestined our existence even before the foundation of the world. Acts 17:26 tells us that He appointed the times of our births and the family that we would be born into. There isn’t anything about our lives God doesn’t know. He knows the person that is best suited to walk with us through life. The truth is that many of us don’t choose this person. Some of us fall in love with a person that hasn’t learned to love through Christ and has no intention of ever loving us in the way we deserve. To our disappointment and detriment, and because they haven’t learned a Christ kind of love and compassion, some of these individuals are abusive.

Heavenly Father does not want us in this kind of situation. He knows we’re not perfect and that we will get ourselves into trouble. This is why He tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6(NLT), “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”  This passage is one that every individual must have as their foundation.

Sometimes people cross the line and go way past the issue of carrying baggage. They resort to hurting those who love them most. This is evil, and when we’re in a situation that leads to this kind of bondage, many of us feel overwhelmed. We don’t know what to do, but God tells us exactly what to do and exactly what not to do in Proverbs 3:5-6. We don’t lean on our own understanding, but instead, we seek His Word to find out His Will, and we lean on Him to direct our paths.

In Matthew 16:19, Jesus Christ tells us that he’s given us the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. We have the keys to unlock doors that lead to all the abundance the Kingdom of God extends. These keys are in your possession. When you settle your mind and heart to use them, don’t attempt to walk down corridors that lead to where and who you used to be. You can never be that person again, but you can and should be the person God has destined you to become! You can be stronger and better through the love of God in Christ, and this is where you must place your confidence.

Don’t stay locked in a situation that undermines your right to walk in the liberty of Christ. Trust God with all your heart and seek His Will in all you do. When you use the keys according to His Word, you will loosen those things that keep you bound, and God will show you a way out. ■

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.

“Bound or Loosed”, written by KYada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!