Truthful Tuesday – Trusting God Again after Abuse

series (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 6:18

“Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”–but the immoral person sins against his own body.”

I confess I have had this blog entry scheduled before but just did not want to write it. Still, my Spirit urges me on. I could never do justice to the pain so many have endured, but perhaps I can ease that pain with the truth of God’s comfort in the midst.

Abuse is one of those words that causes the human spirit to want to avoid the subject. We just don’t want to talk about it. It makes us uncomfortable and often victims of abuse themselves feel ashamed or judged, too. The mere thought of such a carnal act happening to one who is made in the image of God is unspeakable.

Sins committed outside the body are bad enough, but harming another person by abusing them physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually produces devastating consequences that are not easily overcome and repercussions can last a lifetime.

I know what it was like to be a little girl told to be silent. As much as the pain of multiple attempts was on my soul, I can look back and see the hand of God guiding me. I have walked through emotional and spiritual abuse, as well, and the ensuing torment of trying to be free from it. Through it all I learned that God did not cause the devastation of my soul – His character could never do such a thing – but He would heal me and help me to overcome.

Even though the enemy of our souls can use hardship to create doubt in our minds over the goodness of God, our God does not cause the evil that man chooses by his own free will. Instead, our God chose the human suffering we sought to avoid and to bear our pain and sorrows.

So what causes abuse? This fallen world is full of people needful of God, but many who choose to satisfy their flesh instead and fill their righteous need with a wicked counterfeit. The lust of the eyes and the flesh never have their fill, but those who have seen their true need of God and choose to accept His grace and salvation are redeemed from living for the flesh. They see their God-given purpose of knowing God and making Him known, of living a godly life – and don’t waste it on sin.

But what about the wounded people, left in the wake of someone’s decision to harm them and to take the most personal thing they have to offer? What hope is there for them? Abundant hope. Raw, transparent moments. Encounters with a living God. Patient healing.

Hurting another human soul in such a manner is evil and damages the faith of the victim. But God. I love those two words. God is indeed able to take the deepest wound and heal. The process is itself painful, but with such a wound it takes time.

Recognizing our hurt and not concealing it is so hard to do. Seeing what the abuse has caused in our lives and courageously exposing the bitter root and possible resulting sin in ourselves is the path toward victory. Sometimes the pain is so deep we just don’t want to face the reality of it. But the word of God can meet us in that place if we will apply it.

As we peel back the layers of our heart to reveal the root of our hurt – how God could allow this suffering in the first place, we begin to understand our wound is first a spiritual one. Why does God not spare us from the sins of others hurting us so deeply? Perhaps we are even asking, “Why doesn’t He give us a perfect life?” Such questions reveal a desire for God to bless us, but they also reveal a heart attitude that says we will love and trust God only when good is allowed into our lives.

But it is scary to trust God again, isn’t it? How do we trust again? When we feel like God does not see, we refute that lie with the many Scriptures that show He does. When we feel like he will not defend us, we focus instead on the truths in God’s word that He is a righteous judge – our Defender, Protector and Savior.

God cares about our feelings – we can run to Him with our turmoil and grief. But feelings are not facts. He will transform our understanding as we get into His word. This website offers a lot of verses to help. God also helps us to have faith that He can heal us as we place our burdens in His hands.

Whether it is a wound from being abused, or having dear loved ones harmed in such a way, God is able to help us trust again and to forgive, as well. Sometimes life will look a lot different and we have to protect ourselves from relationships that could cause further harm, but in all of it we know that God will use it all for His good and our glory. He promises to and He is not a man that He should lie.

The scars left behind, the searing pain in the soul will soften over time. The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead. Here is a song the LORD gave me when He revealed my lack of trusting in Him from all that I had suffered: Layers. God wants to heal you. He knows your pain and sees you. He is trustworthy and He loves you so very much.

Lord, thank You for setting our hearts free and healing us from all the sins in this world. You have overcome and we walk in Your victory because of Your amazing grace!

Thoughtful Thursday: Opportunity Knocks

Opportunity is Knocking

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

 

Luke 8:10

“He said, ‘You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand.'”

“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?”

Don’t worry, I won’t tell a cheesy knock knock joke. Had you wondering, though, huh?

Opportunity is a funny thing. We long for opportunities but often do not even recognize them. We hope to be used by God to do something amazing but miss astounding promise all around us, dubbed as “ordinary”.

We can feel it in the thump of our heartbeat. Hear it in the soul’s cry. Sense it with our Spirit. Somewhere within us is a sense of a calling. Opportunity is knocking on the door of our soul – wondering if we hear our Master’s call for us to see the longing around us.

The moment we are awakened to hear and to understand God’s word, we are on mission. Entrusted with secrets that God has revealed, do we pretend not to see the needs, the hurts, the deadness in their eyes? Maybe in our own?

Growing up, I always felt special when someone trusted me with a precious secret or a position of leadership. Those who Christ has revealed His Gospel are the most blessed people on the face of the earth. We hold the keys to salvation and the opportunity to share it with lost people who we once were identified with.

The resounding knock stirs our souls to act on the knowledge and insight we have been given. The world’s din can try to silence the relentless needs and opportunities, but if we listen carefully, we will hear the knocks and answer. The souls God has called us to reach around us are counting on it.

Lord, help us to hear the needs around us and to listen attentively to Your word so that we might share what is on Your heart.

Mundane Monday: Stubborn Hope

 

Stubborn Hope (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The hope we have in Christ is sure and steady; a never failing, firm foundation.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 1:18

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

Sleepy eyes and Mondays go together like peanut butter and jelly. It can take awhile to get back into the swing of things, but reality and deadlines hit us square in the eyes whether we like it or not.

But here we have eyes of another sort being opened. A revelation of our souls to know the hope of the amazing salvation and eternal rewards that God has for His people. What an encouragement on a Monday, right?

Problem is that our work weeks and lives can be daunting, and hope is often deflated or crushed when challenges arise.

But this hope does not depend on any surrounding circumstances.

No, it is a fact predetermined in Heaven. A quiet stirring in our souls, reminding us that this is not our home. This stubborn hope looks out at the landscape of life and smiles inwardly at the promise within.

We are called to this hope. More than that, this hope is a certainty that God will use all things for our good. This hope is the knowledge that every wrong will be righted. This hope is that God sees and redeems. This hope is that our salvation has been achieved forever and cannot be stolen.

Our hearts can be strengthened to carry on if we will allow our hearts to focus on God’s hope instead of focusing on the hopes the world has, which are merely temporal.

Finding this hope might seem like an esoteric enigma, but it is so simple we often stumble over it. Searching for hope in people leaves us bankrupt, but searching in His living Word gives us a living hope that never fades, reserved for all who believe in Jesus.

Lord, thank You that You have not left us without hope. No matter what happens in this life, we have You, our treasure – both now and for all eternity – to guide us.

 

Truthful Tuesday: Steward of Grace

Stewards of grace

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our unique voice reaches exactly who we are called to.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 3:1-4, 17-19

1 “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that by revelation the divine secret was made known to me, as I wrote before briefly.4 When reading this, you will be able to understand my insight into this secret of Christ. 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, 18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

Blind to the ways of God, we are desperate for our God to have mercy on us. When we cry out and ask Jesus to save us, it is in that place that we are then given a trust – the LORD opens our eyes to see and understand His great salvation.

But how do we steward this undeserved grace? We are called to nurture our faith and to give it away, to invest what we have learned in the lives of others. But more than that, to search His precious Word and seek to know and understand Him more.

 

A steward must prove faithful and not take for granted the great gift he is given. There is no credit on our behalf, for all that we have was freely given to us. Instead, the steward seeks to magnify the One Who owns what we are stewarding.

In our desire to fulfill the position of steward, we cannot lose sight of the Kingdom purposes and our role of bringing people to meet Christ. We are just empty vessels filled to overflowing, and God has desired us to play a part.

Each of us will have different gifts and callings that we are held accountable to and they cannot be compared, but our unique voice reaches exactly who we are called to.

Lord, thank You for calling us and entrusting Your great salvation to us to share with Your people. Help us to be faithful stewards, all for Your glory.

Denise Pass Promo PicDenise Pass | Author | Artist | Speaker | Worship Leader

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Truthful Tuesday: Purpose in Provision

Be-careful-what-you-sow

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

By sowing what we have been given, we demonstrate that we trust that God will give again.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Corinthians 9:6

“My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. 9 Just as it is written, “He has scattered widely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever.” 10  Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God,” 12 because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God. 13 Through the evidence of this service they will glorify God because of your obedience to your confession in the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your sharing with them and with everyone.”

Everything we have is given so we may be generous to others, but our giving also is for us. Sowing what is not ours in the first place bears fruit for eternity, and causes us to grow to be more like Christ.

By sowing what we have been given, we demonstrate that we trust that God will give again.

When others look into our lives and see God’s blessing and our obedience to share that blessing, it serves to point them to God and brings Him glory.

All too often, though, we can look at what we don’t have or focus on all of the abundant needs there are around us instead of seeing how much God has truly blessed us with. The fact is, there will always be needs, but those needs point us to the One Who gives us the greatest riches of all – Himself.

When we have Christ, we can sow more than just physical needs – but also seeds of the Gospel into the hearts of others, giving them true wealth. He gives us all we need for this life. He is the vine and living water Who quenches the thirst of all who come to Him.

Just like we should not withhold material blessings when we can give them, the gift of salvation is one we should share liberally, as well.

Lord, may You be glorified in all that You give us and may we be faithful to bless others with the gifts You have given, including our salvation.

 

 

Worshipful Wednesday: Striving No More

It is Finished

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Be still and know that God is fighting for us.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 46:10-11

“He says, ‘Stop your striving and recognize that I am God! I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!'”  11 “The LORD who commands armies is on our side! The God of Jacob is our protector!” (Selah)

“It is finished”, Christ proclaimed as He breathed His last on the cross.  No more work needed to be done to complete the perfect sacrifice.  Such a stark contrast with the other religions of this world which state that we will never do enough to earn our salvation.

In Christ, we recognize that our good works are like filthy rags, but we also see our need to serve God with all of our lives.

The motivation is different, though.  We do not serve out of guilt or obligation, but out of incredulous gratitude and a heart of obedience.

Formerly enemies, we, who are in Jesus Christ, are now called His sons and daughters.  And He says to be still – to cease striving, worrying, trying to defeat the enemies we encounter while temporarily on this earth.  He, our All-Powerful God, already won the war and we are positionally already with Him in the heavens.

When faced with life’s realities, though, it can be difficult to rest in God’s victory, because our eyes, hearts and minds scream out the opposite.

What does this rest look like?  Not lying down on a couch eating potato chips and playing video games – no, this rest is on our knees crying out to our God to fight on our behalf. Once again, the motivation is changed.  It is not for us, but for His glory.  We do not just want Him to fight for us, but for His Name’s sake – that others who look at our lives will see that we serve the living God.

Lord, thank You for accomplishing our salvation and victory and for living in us.  Help us to not look at the waves of this live, but to rest and to look to You, our Almighty God Who loves us.

Holy Week: Palm Sunday Irony

Palm Sunday

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Sometimes salvation comes in a way we least expect.

Scriptures:

Zechariah 9:9, 11

“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.”

Hebrews 13:20-21

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep. 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Isaiah 46:16

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

Exodus 24:8

“Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Happy Palm Sunday!  I confess I have missed blogging and look forward to blogging each day this week after taking an unannounced spring break.  🙂

I brought a liturgical element into our worship service this morning, palm branches for Palm Sunday.  Ok, let’s be real.  The palm branches ended up being limpy leaves, not branches.  But burdening my heart was a desire to help the worshipers at my church get a sense of the awe the people must have felt, waving palm branches as Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey.  500 flimsy leaves did not quite capture that emotion for me.

Nonetheless, I pressed on in Scripture and chose songs that would hopefully evoke the rich symbolism of these leaves representing victory.  What victory were these people hailing?  Though they thought He was coming to conquer world governments, instead He captured our hearts and ultimately achieved victory over death.

Christ’s entrance was a fulfillment of the prophesy spoken 500 years earlier by Zechariah. How amazing that God would communicate to His people how He would come into the world.  He did not want them to miss it.  Even though they could not understand fully God’s purpose in coming to them at the time, the groundwork of God’s covenant promises laid a path toward this salvation.

The blood covenant could not be paid by an animal or an ordinary person.  God had to bear the transgression of His people, Himself.  This Savior, their King – came humbly – riding on a donkey.  This manner of salvation appears so foolish to man – that a King would come riding in on a borrowed donkey – to die – rather than in a majestic array of splendor as a hero riding in to demonstrate incredible power.

He owns everything, yet He borrowed a donkey.  He lacks for nothing, yet He chose to lack. He is All Powerful, yet God chose to come in weakness.  This does not make sense until we see that He became weakness, infirmity and sin and chose the place of suffering to bear it all in our place.  He did not save us while He himself sat in a lap of luxury.  He spared no expense or detail, but simply rode in humbly.

These same fickle people who praised Him passionately as He entered Jerusalem, begging Him to save them now (Hosanna), would kill their Savior by week’s end.  Christ’s mission might have seemed like a failure, but the very people He came to save brought about their salvation unknowingly, by condemning Christ to His death.  The wordplay is hard to miss in the Scriptures above.  God inscribed His people on His palms and His people waved palm branches to their Savior.  Ultimately it would be nails driven into his palms (wrists) that would forever set His people free.

Lord, thank You for Your salvation, offered freely to sinners.  Thank you for showing us how to live and for providing for a debt we could never pay.

 

Mundane Monday: Enigmatic Salvation

Salvation

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Salvation is given not just to those who don’t deserve it, but to those who did not want it in the first place.

Scripture:

Romans 11:7, 26-27

7 “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was diligently seeking, but the elect obtained it. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. 27 And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'”

How is it that God’s people could seek Him and not find Him?  It seems futile or unfair. And yet their temporary blindness resulted in salvation for all.  God’s wisdom and ways are not ours.  The election of gentiles ultimately provokes a jealousy in the Israelites to receive this same salvation.

This covenant with God’s people demonstrates His kindness and faithfulness to finish the work of salvation for those He has chosen.  A perfect, Holy God with a righteous standard violated by His creation chose to pardon those who broke that standard.  Wow.

The law awakens our need for salvation and reveals our sinful condition, yet this Almighty God chooses to pay that sin debt and remove sin’s stain permanently – to those who did not even seek Him.

This grace of God is befuddling, completely undeserved.  Surely no one can boast.  What a beautiful promise that our Deliverer will remove ungodliness from us!  Although we might not appreciate the sanctification process by which God makes us into His image, taking a step back we see His faithfulness to complete the work He began in us and the miracle of His opening our eyes to understand so great a salvation.

Lord, thank You for Your mercy.  I cannot comprehend fully how I came to know You, but I thank You and pray that all reading this post will also see their need of You and accept the free gift of salvation you have given.

 

 

Mundane Monday: Undeserved Mercy

Undeserved Mercy

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Mercy would not be mercy if we could earn it.

Scripture of the Day:

Romans 9:15-17

For he says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh: “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may demonstrate my power in you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Here it is, the beginning of a work week again.  We labor not in vain, though, if we labor in the LORD.  So often we work for our own glory or we try to attain favor or mercy based on merit.  It makes sense that we should earn what we have sought so hard to achieve . . . or does it?

In one breath the verse above can be discouraging to the workaholics among us who try avidly to curry favor only to see another given grace unmerited; but the fact that God’s mercy could never be earned is beautiful.

Our righteousness is as filthy rags, and any insight or ability we think we have was given to us, so we trust in God’s sovereignty in the mercy he grants us in all of life.  This is a vulnerable place to be and we can be tempted to cry, “not fair!” when a deed goes unrecognized, but resting in the perfect goodness of God and the reality of our deserved damnation causes us to fall to our knees in gratitude that God has mercy on us at all.

Mercy is evident throughout every part of our life, though it is often not perceived.  We do not see what we have been spared from, and what blessings we have received we might take for granted.  When we are tempted to become embittered at life’s vicious curve balls, may we remember what grace has been given to us – the obvious and the not-so-obvious mercies.

God’s mercy is not always seen as a blessing.  Sometimes His merciful hand prevents blessings which could ultimately be our undoing.

But the most important mercy ever to be received is the salvation God offers.  Every inclination of our hearts is steadfastly toward sin apart from the grace of God. What sweet grace opens our eyes to know that we are sinners and to receive His free gift of salvation!

We may never fully understand the mercy of God extended to us, but somehow in His sovereignty He chooses to reveal His mercy and love that we might know Him.  Life is a vapor, but for all eternity we have mercy!

Jesus, thank You for saving me!  Thank You for revealing my need of You.  When things have not gone as I thought they should, Lord I thank You.  Your mercies overwhelm me. You are good all the time.

“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.'”  Galatians 3:8

Thoughtful Thursday: The Pity-less Party

wpid-pity-party

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We are more blessed than we deserve.

Scriptures:

Job 9:1-4 (ESV)

“Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God?  If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times.  He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?”

Proverbs 19:3 (NIV)

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”

Life is an amazing gift from God. Yet many people never really live the abundant life that Christ meant for us to have.  What keeps us from a full life?  Ourselves.

Life can be exhilarating and a bummer sometimes, if we are honest.  The roller coaster ride of flat tires at inconvenient times, an award for a job well done, terminal illnesses, healing, reckless accidents, miraculous protection, unemployment, a new job, unfaithfulness, loyalty, rebelliousness, obedience . . . and the list goes on and on . . . can be no fun at all for us less adventurous types.

To think that life would be great if we never experienced pain is flawed, however; for the pain is a vivid reminder of how blessed we were to have had moments without suffering in the first place.  When we made a mess of things all by ourselves, the consequences for our sin point us to our need for our Savior, which leads ultimately to that perfect, abundant, eternal life.

So how do we wreck abundant life in Christ if we did not cause our own demise?  Our response.  How we accept, deny, respond in anger or blame others or God – sets the course for whether or not we will walk in the joy that Christ has for those Who are His.

I get it, believe me, I do.  When other people’s sins cause immense pain and horrible consequences.  I have been there, done that, and still feel the effects.  There have been moments of horror, anguish, PTSD, shock, disbelief in my life – but at the end of the day the LORD would bring me to a singular truth that I could not argue with – I am doing better than I deserve.

Every time I try to argue with myself about that truth, when I somehow feel I have been unjustly treated (and it might be the case), I finally relent and realize it is folly to even attempt to play the self pity card when the truly Perfect One didn’t.  He did not deserve to suffer for my sin or anyone else’s, but He WANTED to.  This was not because he enjoyed suffering – no, He cried tears of blood in anxiety over His choice, but He chose it nonetheless, because comfort was not His God and the salvation of our souls was His mission which He did not falter from.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are tremendous burdens that seem completely unbearable, that make us lean into God hard.  When we see others hurting, we have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of God – not just to dismiss their suffering.  But in that comfort, it is in vain if we do not point them to the Healer Who is able to help us handle every let down.  But perhaps our expectations, when placed in reality, help us to take notice and be grateful when things go well.  Why is it that I did not get sick?  Why is it that I can see this amazing gift from God at all?  What an amazing grace is ours.  Such understanding this is that we can turn away from our behaviors that hurt the heart of God and thank Him instead.

Lord, forgive us when we get mad or disappointed when things don’t go our way.  Your ways really are the best.  Give us eyes to see and ears to hear.