Praying for the Right Person to Talk to

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell God what you need

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

Pray for the right person

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

Pass it on

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

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

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

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

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!

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!