fear, faith, trust, fearless, freedom, risks, uncomfortable, living boldly, God’s promises, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Taking Risks: Christ’s Freedom Allows Us to Live Fearlessly

Taking risks is scary, but in order to live a bold life, taking risks is often necessary. Thankfully we have the freedom to take risks, and this is why…



My daughter’s recent birthday inspired lessons on fearlessness…

Taking risks is scary, but in order to live a bold life, taking risks is often necessary. Thankfully we have the freedom to take risks, and this is why... Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #fear #faith #trust #fearless #freedom #risks #uncomfortable #bold

My Girl

Y’all, let me tell you about my little girl. She is absolutely the brightest part of my day. I am crazy about my boys, but I am gushy with her! The moment I go to get her up in the morning, she is beaming with joy. When she comes down the steps, she greets everyone with “g’mornin’!” Wherever we go she says “hello” to anyone and everyone we pass, and waves her farewells when we leave. She spreads joy like it’s jam.

She also will have a meltdown when I take the spoon that she was handing me. She knows she needs help, but desperately wants to do it on her own. She has begun to refuse to hold my hand on the sidewalk and goes noodle limp when I make her hold my hand in the parking lot. She’s the only child of mine who has been in trouble for hitting another kid in childcare at the YMCA.

At 8 months old, army crawling around the house, she would smile at me while she did something she knew she shouldn’t. She still does this, and it drives me bonkers. She will yell at her brothers if they are touching something that she has determined should be hers. Heck, she yells at me if I have my hands on the shopping cart where she doesn’t want them.

Taking Risks

She is also fearless. She is the one who will try to climb out on the roof. She is the reason I’m feeling nervous that there is a second-floor balcony over our foyer. She is why I cannot relax at the pool. She knows how to get out of the puddle jumper, and she will jump right into the pool. Lord help me.

I even dunked her underwater in hopes that it would discourage her from going in alone. Did it work? Nope, she thought it was fun! When we were at the beach, she dove face-first into the waves. Only because she didn’t care for the saltwater, did she not try that again.

As much as her boldness and strong-will tire me out, I love it. I want to live with that kind of fearlessness, just without so many melt-downs.

The Freedom

In my attempts to “warn” my daughter about the water, I think I actually emboldened her. By dipping her under the water, and bringing her up, she knows that she can trust me. By letting her dive face-first into the ocean surf, and then scooping her up, she knows that she can try new things (even if she doesn’t want to do it again).

I could have kept her away from the water, but I wanted her to experience it within my grasp. I was ready to “rescue” her, anticipating the dive. I want her to live fully, and be willing to take risks.

Boldly Living

This is how we can live boldly in life. Trusting that the Lord will pick us up when we fall. He doesn’t keep us from falling. Then we would never learn how to swim. We are free to take risks because we can trust that when we fall, we will be met with compassion, and a deeper intimacy in knowing who the Lord is, and who we are.

One of my favorite songs to run to is “You Can’t Stop Me” by Andy Mineo. Yes, I run to rap. Yes, I rap out loud with my hands in the air. And yes, I’m a scrawny little white girl. Anyways… there is a line where he says, “My God is good, He is not safe.” This is how I want to live. Not safely, but boldly. I’ve experienced a deeper life with the Lord by taking risks. Yes, it is uncomfortable, but I am not willing to trade it for safety.

I want to dive face-first into the ocean.

We are free to take risks because we can trust that when we fall, we will be met with compassion, and a deeper intimacy in knowing who the Lord is, and who we are. Click To Tweet

From the Editor…

Republishing Rachael’s words sparked some inspiration to dive into God’s Word. As I searched and read on living boldly, Ephesians 3:11-12 stood out to me…

This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

Ephesians 3:11-12, NLT

Isn’t this the boldest action we take? Allowing Christ to save us, accepting His sacrifice, professing Christ as King, and surrendering our lives at the throne of God. This gift of salvation is the biggest, safest risk we take in this life. We are bold because HE is bold.

Taking risks is scary, but in order to live a bold life, taking risks is often necessary. Thankfully we have the freedom to take risks, and this is why... Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #fear #faith #trust #fearless #freedom #risks #uncomfortable #bold

unsplash-logoMaksim Shutov
Afraid, unafraid, fear, fearless, living boldly, boldness, God’s love, brokenness, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Becoming Fearless: Brokenness Leads to Living Fearlessly

Fear and rejection can leave us feeling paralyzed. But it is our brokenness that will ultimately lead to becoming fearless.



My earliest memory of fear occurred when I was a child of six. On a warm summer evening, my family went to the home of some good friends of my parents for dinner. All my brother and I cared about was that they had kids close to our age – two boys. (It seems none of my parent’s friends had girls, but that’s another story!)

While the adults chatted after the meal, we children happily played outside on the swing-set laughing, yelling, and probably arguing. Suddenly, I felt something stinging my face; the pain was immediate and intense. Jumping off the swing, I ran screaming to my mother, who soothed me and quickly assessed I had at least two bee stings on my face. Her friend made a paste of baking soda and water to apply to the stings while I rested on mom’s lap.

Fear and rejection can leave us feeling paralyzed. But it is our brokenness that will ultimately lead to becoming fearless. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #afraid #fear #fearless #LivingBoldly #boldness #unafraid #brave #brokenness

Becoming Fearful

Within several moments I was ready to return playing with our friends, but no words came out when I opened my mouth to speak. I tried once again but to no avail. Panicked, I got mom’s attention and she realized my body was swelling. Things moved quickly from there.

Fear spread throughout the group as they were preparing to take me to the hospital. Fortunately for me, mom had recently read an article regarding deadly allergic reactions some people had to bees and that a new desensitization process was being offered by the medical community. That article saved my life.

Needless to say, despite several years of shots to alleviate my reaction to bees, I spent decades being deeply afraid of them. I’m blessed to say I’ve raised perennial flower beds for 15 years now.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1, NKJV

Rejection

In high school, I wanted to be popular…translated – liked/loved. As a result, I became a cheerleader, joined clubs, became editor of the newspaper, etc. Guess what? There were still people who didn’t like me. Shocker, I know.

For reasons unknown, I can recall one particularly vicious phone call I received from a popular girl about something I didn’t do, but she thought I did. Even though I professed Jesus, I was looking for acceptance at the wrong addresses.

Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My law: Do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; But My righteousness will be forever, And My salvation from generation to generation.

Isaiah 51:7-8, NKJV

Paralyzed

When I was a young mother with a baby, my husband worked a swing shift. I didn’t like staying alone on the nights he had to work, but I spent most evenings at my parents’ until it was time to take my son home and put him to bed. But then one night while we all were out, our home was burglarized. My husband and I felt violated.

After that, fear blossomed like a sunflower in my chest. I heard every noise, real or imagined, in the house or the basement. It’s embarrassing to remember the times I would call our neighbor over to check the house because I thought I had heard something. (He and his wife were very gracious!) This fear lasted so long it was making me physically ill – I was trying to stay awake all night, begging God to keep us safe. I was thinking of escape plans should someone break-in. It was difficult.

Delivered

During this time, I was working with first graders in Sunday School. One week we made a prayer wheel out of paper plates. For every need on one side of the wheel, there were Bible verses on the other side that applied to the need. “Coincidentally,” my husband worked nights that week, which I dreaded with a vengeance.

In desperation, one night I pulled that children’s prayer wheel out and turned it to fear, looking up each verse. I told God I was so weary of living this way, and I knew that He didn’t want me to anymore. (He does say, “Fear not” 365 times in His Word!) From that night forward, the paralyzing fear left me. Has it attempted to return? Sure, but God has delivered me from the stronghold of fear each time.

I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth; You have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor? […] But I am the Lord your God, Who divided the sea whose waves roared – the Lord of hosts is His name. And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand…

Isaiah 51:12-16a, NKJV

Becoming Fearless

I believe we all battle with fear in one form or another. Otherwise, why did God mention it so often? Sometimes I wonder if our fear isn’t used by God to help bring about needed brokenness…because only out of brokenness comes fearlessness. And isn’t that what we really want – to become fearless? Even Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for this in him in Ephesians 6:16-20.

Louie Giglio said in a sermon at 2012 Passion, “Minimize your fears by maximizing your one fear and realizing this: I’m already chained to Jesus Christ. The only thing I’m afraid of is living an insignificant life.”

Amen!

Sometimes fear is used by God to help bring about needed brokenness…because out of brokenness comes fearlessness. And isn't that what we really want – to become fearless? Click To Tweet

Fear and rejection can leave us feeling paralyzed. But it is our brokenness that will ultimately lead to becoming fearless. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #afraid #fear #fearless #LivingBoldly #boldness #unafraid #brave #brokenness

unsplash-logoJason Blackeye
shame, enough, hidden, perfectionism, defensive, apology, judgment, bondage, freedom, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Shadow of Shame: Step into the Light of Our Savior

The Lord came to break all bondage in our life. Step out of the shadow of shame and into the radiant light of our Savior.



Let’s talk about the S word. No, I’m not referring to a curse word. Or even the word “stupid,” which was not allowed to be used in our home when my kids were growing up. (They heard enough pejorative adjectives from their peers.)

Rather, I want us to take a few minutes to inspect, take a fresh look at, and perhaps begin to disarm a sleeper cell that has dwelt in mankind since the Garden. I’m talking about shame. While it isn’t possible to sweep out all the spiders and cobwebs that have accrued over the decades of darkness in which shame has hidden, perhaps shining some light into the darkness will at least put a broom into your hands.

The Lord came to break all bondage in our life. Step out of the shadow of shame and into the radiant light of our Savior. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #shame #perfectionism #defensive #apology #judgment #bondage #freedom

Shadow of Shame

The topic of shame has made a resurgence in recent years, almost as though the subject had never been brought up before, (it has, but we didn’t have social media). For this, we can thank the research of University of Houston’s Dr. Brene Brown.

Her work resulted in books and TED Talks on YouTube, which catapulted the topic to a buzz word for several months…and that’s really longer than one can expect any topic to last in our micro-everything culture. Since Brown’s Ted Talks are some of the most-watched videos in the world, we should know all we need to know about shame; it’s already so ‘last year.’

If that is the case, why do we continue to experience that painful, pervading sense of being flawed or not enough – ever?

Unashamed to Fig Leaves

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:25, ESV

That is the first time shame/ashamed is mentioned in Scripture, but certainly not the last. However, it is one of the last times Adam and Eve were UNashamed. Only a chapter later they were hiding from God, ashamed of their sin and nakedness.

And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’

Genesis 3:10, ESV

Since that pivotal day, mankind has been hiding our shame behind our own fig leaves, which we have woven together since childhood. Yours may look different from mine, more colorful or loud, more acceptable or appealing, but an honest look inside our hearts, an honest probing by the Holy Spirit will reveal where each of us is prone to hide.

Let’s look at a few hiding places where shame operates…

Hiding Places

Perfectionism is often defined as the need to be or at least to appear to be perfect. I like to say that I am a recovering perfectionist. It used to almost make me physically ill if I could not perform most tasks perfectly, according to my estimation. Yet, this a socially acceptable fig leaf. Brene Brown said:

Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfection is not about healthy achievement and growth. She explains that perfectionism is used by many people as a shield to protect against the pain of blame, judgment, or shame.

https://www.goodtherapy.org

Perfectionism can cause procrastination, (if I can’t do it perfectly, I will delay until I can perform perfectly). This can also lead to an attitude of blaming others for anything that appears like a failure. “It wouldn’t have happened that way if so-and-so had done his job correctly! It isn’t my fault,” which leads to our next hiding place…

Defensiveness is one way we protect ourselves from unpleasant feelings such as feeling sad or sorry that we disappointed or hurt a loved one. Being defensive is a way to avoid taking responsibility for our behavior, especially if we equate responsibility with shame.

Let’s say my husband is upset because I’m late meeting him for lunch. If I’m defensive I might say, “Well, we were late to church last week because you took so long to get ready and I didn’t get mad about that!”

If I’m not shackled by shame, I can recognize that my spouse has expressed his feelings about my tardiness. It isn’t something intrinsically wrong with me; I simply need to hear his feelings and apologize for my delay.

More Hiding

Apologizing can go either way.

Shame can cause us to be overly apologetic and compliant. We assume that others are right and we’re wrong. Better to diffuse a shaming attack or criticism before it begins by apologizing first.

Conversely, we can be so powerfully ruled by an unconscious shame that we don’t want to expose ourselves to imagined ridicule by admitting any wrong or mistake. Being vulnerable is seen as being weak.

This is what one blogger wrote about co-dependency/people-pleasing:

I always thought co-dependency would be easy and obvious to spot, but I tell you what – in the Church – it’s easy to confuse co-dependency with godliness. Codependents are the people who always put others needs before their own, which sounds so great, except it’s fueled by a compulsion to put others needs before your own. Many who struggle with this don’t even feel their own needs or desires anymore…the soul infected with shame is so unsure of its worth (not having that matter settled between self and God) that it seeks to find value in being needed or serving others.

http://www.fabsharford.com

The Church and Shame

Church is one of shame’s best hiding places.

Although it seems counter-intuitive, shame can cover itself with an attitude of superiority and judgment. My mom was filled with shame and insecurity due to her abusive childhood. But she hid that by presenting a haughty, superior person to everyone outside of our home. By judging others first as less than, people were thereby not given the opportunity to reject her. She rejected them first and led a lonely, almost friendless life.

Sadly, I’ve seen this often in the Church. It usually hides behind doctrine or theological arguments, sometimes social issues. However, we must be alert to our own hearts for this sly hiding place of shame. Maligning others in order to make ourselves feel better is not a way to healing.

The Release of Shame

I don’t believe it was ever God’s intention for His children to remain shame-based in our lives or relationships. Scripture has much to say about shame, and it isn’t about God shaming us – unless we choose to remain in our sin.

‘Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us. For we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.’

Jeremiah 3:25, ESV

Despite deserving judgment and death, He continually promises deliverance for those who come to Him.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

Psalm 34:4-5, ESV

The wondrous, heralding chapter of Isaiah 61, prophecies the coming of our Lord Jesus. Among other beautiful things, he announces the release of shame.

Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.

Isaiah 61:7, ESV

Sisters, come out of hiding. There is no need to live in the shadow of shame any longer. Our Warrior King has come to strengthen, heal, and deliver us from the shame that binds us, for His glory and honor.

Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.

Zephaniah 3:19, ESV
Sisters, come out of hiding. There is no need to live in the shadow of shame any longer. Our Warrior King has come to strengthen, heal, and deliver us from the shame that binds us, for His glory and honor. Click To Tweet

The Lord came to break all bondage in our life. Step out of the shadow of shame and into the radiant light of our Savior. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #shame #perfectionism #defensive #apology #judgment #bondage #freedom

unsplash-logoThomas Millot
abuse, bondage, freedom, reckless, release, repression, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Free: Allowing God to Break Repression and Bondage on Our Lives

Abusive relationships, depression, sin are just a few things that can cause bondage in our lives. But we are set free through Jesus’ death and resurrection!



Set Free

The young girl ran towards the water with reckless abandon. She loved this time of year when she could swim in the ocean and pretend to be a mermaid. But, today would be different. A short while later while splashing around she was hit by a large wave. The undertow was strong. She was tossed in circles and hit her head on the ocean floor time and again. She was seized with fear and felt as though she would drown. After what seemed like an eternity the sea spit her body onto the shore. She was trembling and coughing up water, but she was alive. She was free from the grip of the ocean’s power. 

Thirty years later the young girl was now a woman. She respected the sea and its power. Today she found herself floating on the still ocean waters. Her body gently moved with the ocean’s movements; the water rolling over her like a caress. Her face titled toward the sun; drinking in its warmth. She relished times like these when she could talk to God amidst the beauty of His creation. It was in that still moment, God reminded her of how she had been set free.  

Abusive relationships, depression, and sin are just a few things that can cause bondage in our lives. We are set free through Jesus' death and resurrection! Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #abuse #bondage #freedom #reckless #release #repression

Abuse

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18, NIV

What I have to share is deeply personal and a sensitive subject for many men and women. Many of us have faced brokenness so deep that it leaves us crushed. There are all kinds of repressions we face in our lives.

Some know very little how it feels to constantly be knocked down with words or actions. But, far too many men and women know the real horrors of being physically, mentally, and/ or emotionally and verbally abused. The physical is unimaginably difficult to get over. I admire more than one of my friends who have had the courage to break free from the cycle of abuse and find strength in Christ to heal and move forward. 

I took me a lot of years to recognize what verbal and emotional abuse look like. It does not mean I was not in a loving relationship. In fact, I still love this person very deeply. However, words and actions can still hurt us deeply. They can beat us down and make use believe lies about ourselves and even give us a distorted identity.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1, NIV

Recognizing What Binds

The effects of abuse are often debilitating. Depression, confusion, overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and poor physical health are all effects. Cling to God’s words in I Corinthians 13 because God paints a very clear picture of what love truly is and is not. But, the first step to solving any problem is recognizing what the problem is. So, I ask all of you reading this, what binds you?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it doesn not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  

I Corinthians 13:4-8, CSB

Realizing Your Role

I am a people pleaser and I know this about myself. But, it is not always a good thing. In fact, until I reached my mid-thirties, I used to allow others to run over me because keeping the peace was so important to me. So, I played a major role in allowing others to hurt me. 

Now, of course, this did not make it right. However, sometimes we allow things to happen to us because we are seized with fear, anxiety, want to keep the peace, overwhelmed, or just think we are powerless to stop them from happening. If we are saved, then the Holy Spirit is within us. God’s power is within us! Claim it! Realize the power of Christ within you!

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…

Ephesians 3:20, KJV

Releasing it to God

If you love someone let them go. If it was meant to be, then they will come back to you.  

As a teenage girl with a lot of crushes, I used to cling to this phrase. As a mature woman, I now realize the value in these words. After decades, I finally had to let go of the one whom my heart loved. The one whom I shared a life and children with. But, letting go does not mean giving up. It means releasing it to God. As humans, we try to control and fix so many situations in our lives. But, it is important to realize there are many things beyond our power.   

Reckless Abandon

When you think of a person who has reckless abandon you often think of one who is wild and careless and does not think about the consequences of their actions. However, I want you to think of living the Christian life with reckless abandon in a slightly different way. 

The term “reckless” comes from the root word “reckon” which means to account for or to think of every thought. Is it our job to reckon with God and think through every little detail of our lives? No. We are not God. He is there to lead and guide us. If we try to reckon or reason with Him, then we are trying to take control away from God. 

The verb for abandon means to leave. The noun for abandon means to lack inhibition or restraint. So, let’s put these two words together. Reckless abandon in the Christian life means to leave your life, without restraining or trying to control any part of it, and rely completely on God to control and direct every part of it. How freeing it is to allow the Lord to rule your heart. To allow Him to free us from things that bind our lives. He has a purpose and a plan we need only to follow Him with reckless abandon.

Until we meet again…Gracie

How freeing it is to allow the Lord to rule your heart. To allow Him to free us from things that bind our lives. He has a purpose and a plan we need only to follow Him with reckless abandon. Click To Tweet

Abusive relationships, depression, and sin are just a few things that can cause bondage in our lives. We are set free through Jesus' death and resurrection! Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #abuse #bondage #freedom #reckless #release #repression

unsplash-logoDieter Kühl
Anger, angry, forgiveness, righteousness, oceans, grace, freedom, broken, sin, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Angry: Silencing Anger through God’s Redemptive Love

Acting on our angry feelings is dangerous and invites a stronghold of sin to take root in our lives. But we can break through with God’s redemptive love.



Be angry and do not sin;

Ephesians 4:26, ESV

I’ve been desperately grasping for a reprieve from anger… grasping for peace amongst the storm of rage. Just when I think I’ve pulled it all together, something happens that creates a massive eruption of spew from my mouth.

Acting on our angry feelings is dangerous and invites a stronghold of sin to take root in our lives. But we can silence this through God's redemptive love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #anger #angry #righteousanger #sin #grace #freedom

Righteously Angry

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.

Romans 12:19, NLT

I keep hearing about righteous anger, but I often wonder if I even have the ability to embody it. Is it possible for a human to have purely righteous anger? Are we able to knock over tables in righteousness…

Matthew 21:12-16, lays out the prime example used when we speak about Jesus’ anger. –I’ll have to be honest, there are times when I think it would be nice to tip some tables over in rage.– However, I would like to challenge our minds to think about the depth of His anger; think about how His anger differs from ours.

Jesus was perfect and blameless. Sinless. He had the ability to show care and bring restoration even in this heated moment. It grieved His heart to see the perversion that had become the Temple of the Lord, for the sake of His faithful.

But those who saw Jesus act and heard His words of conviction, praised Him. Children sang ‘Hosanna’! He overturned perversion and restored the innocent. This is not often the result of human anger.

Human Anger

I can’t account a time when acting on my anger brought about healing. In fact, I tend to lace my fury with the lie that it’s part of my healing process–Well, not if someone else has to heal because of it.

My heart aches. I can’t explain the pain and brokenness my false righteous indignation has caused. I can’t tell you how many messes I’ve had to clean up because I acted out my firey insides. Or how many times I’ve had to ask for forgiveness. Especially from my Savior.

We don’t get a pass on sinful anger just because we call it righteous. If you have to say it’s righteous, it probably isn’t. If you have to account for your actions during bouts of anger, you’ve probably been acting selfishly and, ultimately, sinfully.

Always the Ocean

A lot of life reminds me of the ocean. A lot of my relationship with God reminds me of the ocean. Always with the ocean. This time, thinking of anger… it’s captivating and extremely dangerous.

I know the curative therapy that is the sea; breathing in the salty air, diving into the warm water, letting the waves bring you back to shore. Its majesty lets you know you cannot tame it.

Oh, how small we are.

But that’s how enticing anger is. The eruptions like waves; believing in the false therapy following. Breathing in and out, in and out… Yeah, that’s not working. Diving into the heat of the moment. Its waves pulling you further from shore, with no hope of taming the rage.

Oh, how small I’ve become.

Take a Breath

Because I am still in this season, because I’m not on the other side of this lesson, I feel I should share what God is speaking. In trying to derive advice from The Ultimate Authority, a series of questions ran through my mind. I believe these will allow us to take a breath, evaluate our anger, and have to repent of sin less often.

Am I angry at what makes God angry… did this make filthy, what God made pure?

Am I being honest about my anger? Do I need to repent of these actions?

Do I have the ability to be angry and love at the same time? Is my anger meant to restore or tear apart?

Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to control my anger or am I harming those around me?

Freedom from Anger

Yes, these questions may help bring rational thought to a fueled moment, but how do we feel anger and not sin? How do we handle seasons of anger and break free from its bondage? As I said, I’m still in the thick of it, but these are my daily practices and convictions…

Self-control: Proverbs 16:32

Face to the floor prayer.

Take every thought captive: 2 Corinthians 10:5

Fasting.

Give NO opportunity to the devil: Ephesians 4:27

Biblical meditation.

Do good: Romans 12:19-21

Love God and keep His commands: John 14:15

God’s Peace

In these moments of helplessness, moments where rage takes over, I am reminded of how much I need the redemptive power of my Father. How much I need the freedom given through His blood.

Through His blood, we can repent of our unrighteous, sinful anger. We can be made whole, we can heal through His grace, not our rage.

His grace silences our haughty words. Silences our temper. It covers us and gives us the ability to approach His throne with the things that have broken our hearts. It allows God to speak:

That ocean you love so dearly, its majesty, its nature, its constant rhythm is my love for you. I am the ocean, unwavering, unstoppable, overwhelming, raging. The battle between the ocean and the shore, that’s my battle for you. For your freedom. That peace you feel, that’s my gift to you. No longer will you be a slave to this crashing bitterness. You are delivered. You are redeemed.

Through His blood, we can repent of our unrighteous, sinful anger. We can be made whole, we can heal through His grace, not our rage. Click To Tweet

Acting on our angry feelings is dangerous and invites a stronghold of sin to take root in our lives. But we can silence this through God's redemptive love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #anger #angry #righteousanger #sin #grace #freedom

unsplash-logoRuslan Valeev
addiction, freedom, Holy Spirit, new, salvation, sin, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

All: Applying ‘In Jesus’ Name’ to Every Part of Our Lives

As new creatures in Christ, we must turn over all areas of our life to the Lord. When we do this–in ways large and small–He becomes our All in All.



And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8, KJV

“In Jesus’ name. Amen.” We hear these words so often. Typically at the end of a spoken prayer in church, at a Bible study, or around the dinner table. But what about in the rest of our day to day life?

What if we, as believers, were to apply these words to our entire lives? After the thoughts we think about ourselves and others? After the words we speak? When choosing the music we’re going to listen to or the movie we want to watch? When we’re considering whether to marry someone or start a family? How might our lives change if we were to apply these three words: “in Jesus’ name” to all that we think, say, and do?

As new creatures in Christ, we must turn over every area of our lives to the Lord. When we do this--in ways large and small--He becomes our All in All. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #addiction #freedom #HolySpirit #new #sin #salvation

All Means All…

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV

I looked up the definition of the word “all,” and guess what it means? All! Everything. The totality of a person or thing. The whole shebang! So if we are to trust the Lord with all of our heart and acknowledge Him in all of our ways, then every single aspect of our lives should reflect who He is. If we were to truly give Him our all, wouldn’t the choices we make look like His best for us in every situation?

Sometimes our choices feel small and of very little consequence. Other times, we face big situations that require very difficult decisions. But, as we commit to inviting the Lord into every choice–small or large–we make, we begin to see how His good and perfect will applies to all that concerns us. And, we don’t have to fret about the choices before us or worry whether we’ll make the right decision. If we’ll ask Him, the Holy Spirit inside of us helps us know the right thing to do at all times.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 16:13, ESV

Small…

Here’s a small example…

My husband and I have always loved watching movies together. Pre-kids, that meant late date nights at the movie theater in comfy reclining seats, replete with an entire barrel of popcorn doused with “movie butter.” Don’t ask me what was in that stuff, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t actually butter, and I’m also positive that it tasted delicious!

These days, movie nights look a lot different. Showtime is at 8:30 p.m., in our living room, in our pj’s, on our non-reclining couch. A movie requires a full, strong cup of coffee after dinner just to stay awake, and the popcorn is a slightly healthier version.

But the setting and the movie butter aren’t all that’s changed. The content we regard as entertainment has shifted dramatically. So much of what used to captivate and thrill us now disgusts and saddens us. If a film is full of foul language, gratuitous nudity, violence, and empty, nonredemptive plots, we just won’t watch it. In other words, if I can’t say “in Jesus’ name” to my choice, I can’t press play.

The check in my spirit simply won’t allow me to sit through two hours of anything that doesn’t somehow uplift, inspire, or motivate us to live a more full, joyful life. Friends, we have to be careful about the choices we make, even in things as seemingly small as entertainment choices. Because if we aren’t careful, we can allow in “little foxes” of sin and doubt that seek to spoil our faith.

Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

Solomon 2:15, KJV

Big…

Now, choosing our entertainment is a relatively easy area to distinguish between dark and downright unholy and offerings that are good and wholesome. But there are other, bigger areas of our lives that hold much greater significance–like whom to marry, which job to take, whether to have children, how to respond to a health crisis, how to overcome an addiction, and such. In these areas, the “in Jesus’ name” litmus test applies to an even greater extent.

A number of years ago, I was struggling with a problem that falls into the big category. A drug addiction. As a relatively new believer, I had become a new creature in Christ, yet I hadn’t fully allowed all of my old, sinful habits to die. In other words, I wasn’t all in for the Lord.

Throughout high school, college, and through my 20’s, I smoked marijuana. I had wrapped so much of my identity as an artist into my identity as a pot smoker that I feared I couldn’t create anything good unless I was high as a kite. I recall many a late-night spoken word poetry and songwriting session punctuated by bong hits and coughing fits.

For years, I used this drug recreationally and never suffered a guilty conscience from inhaling ungodly amounts of smoke. Much less from flouting the law of the land! But once I asked Christ to come into my heart, I began to understand that what I was doing was wrong.

I knew that I was, in fact, sinning. Both by breaking the law and also by altering the chemical state of my brain–which was supposed to be a holy temple for the Holy Spirit. But for years, the pull and the desire to smoke weed held a very strong grip on me.

A Realization…

One day I was driving down the highway on a long road trip by myself. As I was singing the words of a new song the Lord was giving me, for some reason, my thoughts turned to the drug paraphernalia in my glove compartment.

Part of me really wanted me to do what I’d always done on road trips–pull out my trusty pipe and take a toke. But an even bigger part of me felt repulsed by the very notion. The Spirit inside of me was warring against the sinful choice I was about to make.

And in that moment, I had a realization. I wasn’t high, yet I was coming up with a new song! And in fact, I had a bunch of new songs that hadn’t come to me while I was smoking. Like a lightning bolt, the epiphany struck me: the source of the creativity inside of me was not the pot I was smoking. My creative gifts came straight from the Creator Himself. Buzzing from the excitement of this new realization, the Holy Spirit inside of me rose up, and I began to praise God.

Eventually, I did reach into the glove compartment. But it wasn’t to smoke a bowl. Instead, I grabbed the little embroidered bag that held my pipe, lighter, and weed, and I chucked it out the window. And I have never looked back. In retrospect, I guess I committed another sin that day–breaking the littering law. But I hope the Lord won’t judge me for that….or for my marijuana addiction!

Become New…

Beloved, when we allow all of the old things–our old sins, old ways, and our old choices–to pass away, we can begin to truly live a life where “all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17, KJV). Earnestly trying to apply “in Jesus’ name” to all that we do, clears the smoke in our vision. It allows us to see that so many of the things that used to please us were really chains that bound us.

Before I quit smoking pot, I thought that life wouldn’t be any fun without it. Like the ashes from my bowl, I pictured my creativity just drying up and blowing away. But I can tell you today, I feel better than ever. I’m having much more fun and I feel more creative than I ever did during those years when my entire life was shrouded in a smoky haze!

All in All…

The enemy wants us to believe that the Lord is a divine killjoy who wants us to live boring, mundane holier-than-thou kinds of lives. But friends, nothing could be further from the truth! When we walk away from all the old, sinful counterfeits, we are able to see that we serve a good God who wants to give us all things for a full, joyful, abundant life in Him.

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.

2 Peter 1:3, KJV

Beloved, if we’ll let Him–just like the old hymn says–He truly will be our “All in All.” In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Is there a small choice–“a little fox”–in your life that won’t allow you to say “in Jesus’ name” afterward? Maybe a big area of your life where you need the Lord to make all things new for you? Is He your All in All?

Earnestly trying to apply 'in Jesus' name' to all that we do, clears the smoke in our vision. It allows us to see that so many of the things that used to please us were really chains that bound us. Click To Tweet

As new creatures in Christ, we must turn over every area of our lives to the Lord. When we do this--in ways large and small--He becomes our All in All. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #addiction #freedom #HolySpirit #new #sin #salvation

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apology, forgiveness, grace, pain, freedom, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Apology: Asking for Forgiveness is Difficult but Freeing

Admitting we have hurt someone and asking for forgiveness can be difficult. A genuine apology shows obedience to God and frees us from sin and pain.



Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32, NET

Polarizing Tactics

For the first twenty-five years of our marriage, Gary and I seldom argued. That isn’t to say that we didn’t disagree, didn’t hurt each other’s feelings, or give each other the silent treatment; I’m simply saying we seldom argued.

Neither of us came from homes where disagreements were handled in a healthy way- his dad went to the basement; mine hid behind the newspaper. Therefore, neither of us were equipped to manage conflict well… so, we didn’t. We went to our separate corners and waited for the storm to pass. Or, perhaps more realistically, I waited for him to apologize and he waited for the storm to pass!

What it took me many years to learn was that his family, (and men in general,) didn’t learn to express regret when they were wrong or wronged someone else. Apologizing, admitting mistakes seems to be a learned trait for about half of the population. Yet, I felt like I was saying, “I’m sorry,” for everything, sometimes even my existence! But that was my own issue, not Gary’s.

Admitting we have hurt someone and asking for forgiveness can be difficult. A genuine apology shows obedience to God and frees us from sin and pain. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #apology #forgiveness #freedom #grace #pain

Deteriorating Foundation

One of the many problems with this scenario in a marriage or friendship is that the tiny papercuts and the buildup of infractions can become a gaping, bleeding wound which eats at the foundation of the relationship. Then someday, an incident that is seemingly a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, becomes an immediate 10, and your spouse or close friend, doesn’t know what hit him, (or her, as the case may be).

That was our cycle. Build-up, build-up, build-up, BOOM. My anger would explode at something Gary had done or not done. He would remain quiet, calm, and in control, while I ranted; then I felt shame because I would be reminded of how my mom reacted toward my dad, (and I promised myself that I would never be like her, of course).

Each time this happened, my heart closed a bit more toward my husband, like the bloom of a flower closing against the night. (Now granted, I wasn’t exactly the Proverbs 31 wife with a gentle, quiet spirit. Our five years of marriage counseling was for both of us!)

One-Liner Apology

During our marriage counseling, Gary began learning the importance of saying he was sorry when he had hurt me. However, for many years it continued to feel disingenuous and rehearsed to me, probably because he usually followed up with, “but I didn’t know” -or- “but I didn’t mean to,” which left me feeling hollow.

Ted Cunningham wrote for Focus on the Family about ways not to apologize. These are some famous one-liner apologies that should never be used! (Do they sound familiar?)

“I’m sorry you feel that way” is another way of saying, “You shouldn’t feel that way.” It’s one of the world’s worst apologies.

“If I offended you, I’m sorry” is another way of saying, “You shouldn’t have been offended by that” or “You’re too sensitive.”

“I’m sorry you took it that way” is another way of saying, “That’s not what I intended.” What your spouse hears is more important than what you say.

“I’m sorry I said it that way” is another way of saying, “What I said was right, I just said it in the wrong way” or “What I told you was truth and you needed to hear it, but maybe my tone wasn’t right.”

www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/communication

Apology

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, has also written that there are five languages of apology. He believes that this is the reason why so many marriages stutter at the apology and don’t travel forward to much-needed forgiveness.

Expressing regret – This is the emotional aspect of an apology. People who speak this language believe it is important to acknowledge that you offended them and to express your own sense of guilt, shame and pain that your behavior has hurt them deeply. Actually being able to say “I am sorry” is very important to a person who speaks this language. 

Accepting responsibility – In this instance, an apology means accepting responsibility for one’s actions and being willing to say “I was wrong.” This is often very difficult because admitting you are wrong can be perceived as weakness. 

Making restitution – For an apology to be genuine, it isn’t just about saying “I am sorry.” Instead, it’s all about making things right for a person who speaks this language. They want acknowledgment of the wrongdoing and they want to know what you are going to do to make it right.

Genuinely repenting – The word repentance means “to turn around” or to change one’s mind. If a person speaks this language of apology they are expecting that you not only apologize but that you will seek not to repeat the offense again in the future.

Requesting forgiveness – A person who speaks this language believes that an apology not only includes “I am sorry,” but also a request for forgiveness. Requesting forgiveness indicates to some that you want to see the relationship fully restored.

www.firstthings.org

Biblical Forgiveness

While I have great respect for Dr. Chapman, my guiding principle is always the Word of God. It speaks clearly about forgiveness. Jesus delineates the need to take all the steps which Dr. Chapman has laid out, not one that we choose to be our personal language.

Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

Luke 17:3, NET
»«

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

Matthew 6:14, NET
»«

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others. 

Colossians 3:12-13, NET

Abundant Grace

And there it is, the inarguable point; how can we contend with this? The Lord’s forgiveness has been abundant, vast…how can we withhold grace and the mercy of forgiveness from one who has offended or wounded us? I had to learn…am still learning…to forgive half-hearted – or no – apologies. My brother was one who never asked forgiveness for the pain he inflicted.

And there are unfathomable wounds some of you have endured, aching wounds for which no one has borne responsibility or asked forgiveness.

But God…

He knows your pain and He covers it with His balm of healing grace.

Forgive them, so that you may go free.

The Lord’s forgiveness has been abundant, vast…how can we withhold grace and the mercy of forgiveness from one who has offended or wounded us? Click To Tweet

Admitting we have hurt someone and asking for forgiveness can be difficult. A genuine apology shows obedience to God and frees us from sin and pain. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #apology #forgiveness #freedom #grace #pain

unsplash-logoDallas Reedy
freedom, God’s love, identity, loved, truth, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Loved: Knowing God Desires Us for Who We Were Created to Be

We believe so many lies. One of the easiest to believe is that we cannot be loved. But God desires and loves us for who He created us to be!



I’m a pretty good driver. The only accident I’ve ever been in was entirely not my fault. I’ve never received a ticket. Never even been pulled over. So I really believe God intervened the night I ran over a raccoon and hit a deer within a 20-minute time span.

The few months leading up to that life-changing drive were some of the worst months of my life. I was working as the middle school director for a summer camp. A job I loved but caused me to endure some vicious slander from a young woman I lived with at the time. A sister in Christ.

Her verbal attacks made me believe maybe I wasn’t a good leader, a good friend, a good follower of Jesus. Her accusations wore me down emotionally and even spiritually.

We believe so many lies. One of the easiest to believe is that we cannot be loved. But God desires and loves us for who He created us to be! Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #freedom #identity #loved #truth

Attacked and Abused

Then our summer staff came to camp. I always enjoyed the weeks of training new staff and seeing how God brought us all together to teach His truth to campers. What I didn’t enjoy, though, were the two young men who flirted rather heavily with me. Two young men with girlfriends, I might add.

I remember the disgust I felt as I attempted to dissuade their flirtatious interactions. Here they were, men who claimed Christ as their Savior, using me for some fun without care for my feelings or, of course, their girlfriends’ feelings. 

The few weeks leading up to that fateful drive, my days consisted of listening to a fellow Christian attack my character and attempting to ward off flirting games.

I was sickened. I felt used and abused. 

The Ugly Anti-truth

From then on, I allowed Satan to take their words and actions and twist them into an ugly version of truth. This ugly anti-truth didn’t stop at crushing my character, though. It placed the words and actions I was receiving from sinful humans over God’s character. Before I realized what had happened, I began to struggle with believing the truth that God fully and uniquely loved me.

I knew Christ loves all people equally, but I struggled. If He truly loves us all the same, how was I special to Him? How was I unique to Him? How could I be loved by Him?

I prayed over this lie. My friends did, too. I sought wisdom from others. I saw Satan’s schemes for what they were. Yet I couldn’t move past the thought of, But what if he’s right? 

Freedom

It was on that drive when I found freedom. God revealed His answer to my prayers. I had tears threatening to spill as I drove home from Bible study. I cried out to God, asking Him why these fellow Christians were treating me like an afterthought. Why wouldn’t He remove this lie from my heart about who He was and how He loved me?

And that’s when I hit the raccoon. He had run out in front of me so quickly, I had barely seen him… I felt the thud, and I just burst into tears. This was not what I needed.

But as I wept, I decided enough was enough. So I numbed myself from the pain of my attackers. I took all my emotions and pushed them as far away from my heart as possible. I wiped my tears, set my jaw, and would fight back by simply not caring.

And that’s when I hit the deer. I remember looking at my speedometer for half a second. When I looked up, he was just standing there, right in front of me…

Overwhelmingly Loved

As the impact — physical and emotional — of what just happened tore through me, I once again began to weep. I cried out again and again, Why?? Why now? But instead of silence and my continued sobbing, I heard God’s answer…

He reminded me of the many ways He physically protects me. My love language is touch, and He had kept me safe from harm my whole life. There were different scenes that played out in my mind’s eye of moments when I should’ve been seriously injured — the current one included — but instead, I had not a scratch. 

For reasons I know as the Holy Spirit, my mind was released from the lie that God doesn’t love me perfectly and exactly the way I need love. The evidence overwhelmed me. 

His love overwhelmed me. 

I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and not rejected you.

Isaiah 41:9, NIV

The Only One

God reminded me how He knows every part of me, even the ugly parts, yet He still loves me. While human love will never satisfy, His will. While human love will always love flawed, His love never will. In fact, He rejoices over me.

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17, NIV

You might be facing this same lie or a number of other ugly anti-truths. But know, God has chosen you and not rejected you. He has engraved you on the palms of His hands. And if you were the only human on earth, He still would’ve sacrificed Himself for you. That’s how much He loves you.

No matter what others say about you or how people treat you, the perfect, unique love of our Savior is ready to wash you clean from your wounds. He is the only One who sees every aspect of you and loves you more than you can imagine.

Rejoicing in Truth

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV

His love surpasses our understanding and knowledge. Yet we can rest in the truth that His love is not measured in human standards. How we love one another should reflect God’s love for us, not the other way around. 

So whatever lie you face this day, continue to give it to Jesus. Continue to hold it up to the truth of Scripture, knowing He rejoices over you with singing. 

And my prayer is that it won’t take hitting a raccoon and a deer, for you to know the truth that will set you free.

God's love surpasses our understanding and knowledge. We can rest in the truth that His love is not measured in human standards. Click To Tweet

We believe so many lies. One of the easiest to believe is that we cannot be loved. But God desires and loves us for who He created us to be! Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #freedom #identity #loved #truth


Emily Saxe was born and raised on the east coast but currently resides in Indiana with her husband. Working as a full-time freelance writer and editor, her heart and her pen are drawn to stories of faith as she helps people share how God is working in their lives. Everyone has a story to tell, and Emily loves helping to give people a voice to share their own story. Read more of Emily’s articles on her website, To Unearth. You can also find Emily here: Pinterest Instagram Facebook

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suffering, pain, freedom, praise, blessings, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Exchange: A Wonder-Full Trade of Beauty for Ashes

God calls us amidst our sorrow, pain, and despair. He invites us to exchange this life’s suffering, with His beautiful gift of freedom.



Excerpts From: Zimrah Dream Singer by Susan Valles

In the spring of my fourteenth year, Master Jesse came back from a long voyage at sea. I had not seen him since the leaves were falling from the trees the previous year. He strode into the courtyard still wearing his head covering held in place by two blue cords and a warm smile on his neatly bearded face. His linen robe was long and light in color against the heat of the sun with three small buttons at his high collar. Covering all, he wore a handsome mantle of a rich, dark blue. I noticed a small package enclosed in one of his long-fingered hands.

“Master Jesse! You’ve returned.” I stood in Nina’s herb garden, brushed soil from my hands and knees, and received his kiss on both my cheeks.

“Look at you! Little Zimrah, not so little anymore.” He pulled back to hold me at arm’s length, so he could look at me. “You’ve grown tall, and more beautiful than ever. You’re probably taller than other girls your age, by a head at least!”

God calls us amidst our sorrow, pain, and despair. He invites us to exchange this life's suffering, with His beautiful gift of freedom. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #suffering #freedom #blessings #pain

Beautiful

I smiled but discounted the compliment. Beautiful? Me? I was too tall, too dark, and my eyes too strangely grey to be deemed beautiful. Instead, I considered the dusting of grey in his beard and gazed into his deep brown eyes. The skin wrinkled around them when he smiled back at me. I saw tenderness there, but also the old sadness that still lingered.

Perhaps he saw something of the loneliness in my eyes or the fear that tormented my nights and clouded my days, causing my dread of the inevitable setting sun. Perhaps what he saw had sparked the compliment. There was no beauty in me. 

He held out the package and I opened it, discovering a lovely, ivory comb carved in the shape of a butterfly.

“Thank you, my lord,” I whispered with emotion threatening to overwhelm me. I held back tears, not wanting to cry in front of my master and possibly have to explain what the matter was. How could I tell him how much this small token of love and consideration meant to me in contrast to all the fear?”

That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.”

Slavery

Although my book is about a slave girl living in Judea at the time of Jesus, the battle portrayed within its pages is just as real today. Fear is a horrible, relentless slave master with no compassion or mercy. Like Zimrah, my younger years were plagued with slavery to a presence I couldn’t describe or shake. Fear. It followed me everywhere I went and whispered lies from the shadows whenever I was alone, which was often. 

Unlike Zimrah, who grew up in one, protected house, I lived in 13 houses, in four different states. I never stayed anywhere long enough to make any real friends and became as familiar with loneliness as I was to the inside of a moving van.

Now, (on the other side of years of healing prayer) I know that my parents were amazing, and like Master Jesse, gave me gifts and called me beautiful. But at the time, I couldn’t receive the truth enough to outweigh all the whispered lies in the darkness.

My parents…gifts from my heavenly Father. They gave me an upbringing in the word of God, and my dad…what he gave me was priceless…

Sparkle of Light

“I walked back through the sunbeams into the courtyard—the sunlight doing much to dispel the atmosphere of sadness that lingered—and crossed the shade of the almond blossoms. Their sweet aroma made me think of pressing oil with Nina when the fruits ripened in the summer. I walked into the cool entryway and then turned left into the library.

I loved this room. It was saturated with the memories of Silas sitting at the heavy cypress table with his scrolls, brushes and ink, teaching me Greek, Hebrew or Phoenician letters and their meanings. I ran my fingers on the familiar lines on the low table, imagining as I did when I was younger, little faces of animals or mythical woodland creatures in the scattered circles of darker wood made by the grain. Across the room, in one of the shelves built into the plastered wall, I pulled out Master Jesse’s ledger, right where I left it half a year ago. As I crossed the room to return it to him, something to my right caught my eye. It was a little sparkle of light coming from the adjacent storage chamber.

I hardly ever ventured into this chamber anymore. I had no reason except curiosity when I was much younger. It was full of Master Jesse’s family things, trunks full of old scrolls and maps of ancient boundary lines…But now by some trick of the sun coming in the windows at just the right angle, the bronze fittings on an old trunk resting on the back wall were highlighted. It drew my eye and awakened my curiosity.

Treasure

I knelt on the tattered and dusty carpet on the floor, which might have been brightly striped once, but was now so darkened with age that the original pattern was unrecognizable. I placed the ledger beside me and touched the bronze fitting that had caught my eye. I half expected it to burn my fingers as if it were truly hot from a fire. Blowing dust from the top of the ancient oak and undoing the clasp, I opened the cover.

It was full of what one might expect—musty smelling cloaks and folded cloth, but under a few layers of heavy fabric was something else. It was a case made of a dark wood that looked older than the trunk, though much better preserved. 

My curiosity flared. What could be in it? The carving on top of the wooden case was an outdoor scene, a meadow surrounded by lush trees on the side of a hill. I ran my fingers over the smoothness and marveled at the quality of the workmanship. The case was so beautiful in itself. I could not imagine what kind of treasure it contained. I placed it gently on my lap, so I could close the lid of the trunk and use it for a table. Moving up to my knees, I put the case on the lid and opened it. What I found would change my life forever.”

Exchange

What Zimrah found in the case was a lyre, an ancient instrument like Kind David played.  What my father gave me was based on that ancient musical device—the guitar. He taught me how to play and how to worship, and like King David, he taught me the power of singing the word of God. It is that word and learning to accept the love of the God who spoke it, that sets me free from slavery to fear. His words are true.

Because you are precious to Me. You are honored, and I love you. Do not be afraid for I am with you. 

Isaiah 43:4-5

In the midst of my fear, He is calling. In the midst my loneliness, He is singing, “Daughter Mine, fair and fine, light in the morning sun. Come to me, sing to Me, before the day is done.” 

He is calling me to a wonderful exchange: freedom for slavery, beauty for ashes, joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.

What joy to hear His call every day and respond, “Thank you, My Lord.”

In the midst of fear, God is calling. He is calling us to a wonderful exchange: freedom for slavery, beauty for ashes, joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair! Click To Tweet

God calls us amidst our sorrow, pain, and despair. He invites us to exchange this life's suffering, with His beautiful gift of freedom. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #suffering #freedom #blessings #pain


If you would have asked me when I was eight what I wanted to do, I would have said, “Write.” God had a lot of other wonderful things planned for me first. Daughter, wife, mother of four, songwriter, worshipper. He knew they would all be used to tell a story of victory.

Zimrah Chronicles are an allegory for that story. I am constantly learning how to live the adventure Jesus spoke before I was born, to live from heaven to earth, and to bring as many with me as possible.

If you would like to connect with Susan more you can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, her lovely Podcast, or on her website

Yoni Kozminsi

Deliverance, freedom, hope, plans, redeemed, salvation, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Hoped: Past or Present, God Reveals and Restores

Circumstances can pull us away from our once fierce hope in the Lord. We don’t know the whole story and must submit our “hoped for’s” to God’s plan.



But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel…

Luke 24:21a, ESV

The road to Emmaus…Cleopas, (and several scholars believe), his wife Mary, were decimated by the crucifixion of Jesus. After the Sabbath finally came and went, with heavy hearts and dragging feet the couple gathered their belongings together to return home. Despite Mary’s news of seeing the angels at the tomb, despite the unthinkable announcement that the tomb was empty, Cleopas and Mary headed out of town, shrouded in sorrow. In the words of Dr. James Boice:

…they were going home. It was all over. The dream was dead, and they were sad.

Many, many years ago, the infant daughter of some friends of ours was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At the time, our church was in the throes of an unusual months-long, Spirit-filled revival. We experienced the power of God in numerous, unexplainable situations and we were excited to incorporate it in prayer, at times without wisdom and discernment. Oh, how we prayed for that baby! How we entreated God’s healing hand, anointed with oil, trusted He would intervene, despite what the doctors said…

Precious baby girl died three months later. Our small group was devastated, not to mention her parents. We had trusted. We had believed God. Had hoped He was who He said He was.

Circumstances can pull us away from our once fierce hope in the Lord. We don't know the whole story and must submit our "hoped for's" to God's divine plan. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #salvation #freedom #hope

Hoped…

Not unlike Cleopas and Mary, our hope and trust became past tense for a season.

When Jesus joined them on the road home to Emmaus, He didn’t allow them to recognize Him. After all, the last time they had seen Jesus, He had been a bloody mess, beaten and beyond recognition, hanging on a cross. Their story borders on comical, however. Jesus approached them on their journey, behaving as though He was clueless to recent events. Jesus asked them why they were sad. Cleopas and Mary were incredulous!

Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” Jesus said, “What things?” They answered, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet, mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we hoped that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel.

Luke 24:18-21, KJV

But we had hoped that He should have…

I wonder how often I have looked into the face of Jesus and claimed, I had hoped, I had trusted, I had believed, but You didn’t do what You should have done.

For we hoped that He should have redeemed Israel. We had hoped. We had trusted that He should have redeemed Israel.

Irony

If it didn’t feel so sadly familiar, I would feel sorry for the Emmaus disciples. I wish they had said, “Even though everything we see assaults our hope, and it looks as though we have trusted in vain, we continue to believe that we will see Him, again!” But instead, they walked beside Him declaring their lost faith, and He had to say to them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe!” (L. B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert).

The irony is that Jesus, indeed, came to redeem Israel, whether each of His disciples held to their faith or not. That is exactly what lead Him inexorably to the cross – our redemption from sin. This kind of redemption, this freedom from bondage and subjugation isn’t what Cleopas, Mary and many others had in mind; not at all. Their sights were set too low. They only wanted a physical king to bring emancipation for an earthly season.

Jesus offered so much more…immeasurably more.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—

Galatians 3:13, ESV

knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

1 Peter 1:18-19, ESV

Deliverance

In today’s culture, everyone seems to have their rights violated in one way or another. It might even be labeled oppression. Sometimes the pervasiveness of that attitude becomes wearisome.

But let me be clear, the Jewish people had experienced centuries of severe oppression, so I don’t want to be too critical of Cleopas and Mary. Their hopes were soaring. Jesus was finally going to bring the longed-for deliverance for which their hearts had yearned for generations.

And then He was crucified.

Hopes dashed against a cross.

What else was there to do, but to go home?

But then Jesus, in His infinite love and mercy, showed up on the road to Emmaus. He began revealing to them the Scriptures. He told them the rest of the story.

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:27, ESV

Eyes Opened

Do you ever stop to realize that we don’t know the whole story? The beginning, middle, and end? Has it ever occurred to you that maybe we only have a minuscule speck of awareness concerning what God is doing in relation to the vast scope of things? We see through a glass darkly (I Corinthians 13:12); unless and until the Spirit reveals His truth to us, that is our limitation.

And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’

Luke 24:31-32, ESV

Their eyes were opened. Their hearts burned within them.

Where do we need our eyes opened? When did our hearts stop burning and our hope fail? Did God’s answer refuse to fit the parameters we had set, Beloved? It happens to all believers at some point. For reasons of sin or reasons of growth or both, we have each known times when we were convinced God was going to answer one way and He didn’t…or hasn’t.

Has God failed? We may never utter those words, but what does our walk with Him look like today? Do our hearts burn within us or is our hope a past tense thing, our faith a yesterday or last year topic?

It doesn’t have to be. Cleopas and Mary were desolate, hopeless. Yet, Jesus restored them to resurrection hope by opening their eyes to Truth.

May He do the same for each of us.

Did God’s answer refuse to fit our parameters, Beloved? Do our hearts burn within us or is our hope a past tense thing, our faith a yesterday topic? Jesus restores us to resurrection hope and opens our eyes to His truth! Click To Tweet

Circumstances can pull us away from our once fierce hope in the Lord. We don't know the whole story and must submit our "hoped for's" to God's divine plan. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #salvation #freedom #hope

Annie Spratt