Sunday, 8 January 2017

Valley of Dry Bones


Sometimes when I am worshiping at church, God will drop something into my spirit.  Most often, it is something for me, a word of encouragement that He sees me and that He is there, an exhortation to change something that is hurting me or my family or His heart, things like this happen pretty often.

Then sometimes something drops in and I know it isn't just for me, though sometimes it is for me as well. It is something he wants me to share publicly.  Many people might call it a prophetic word or inclination. Sometimes it is meant to be shared before the church body and sometimes it is meant to be shared here on my blog with all of you.

About a month ago, I was worshiping at our local church (Tri-County Worship Center in Seneca, SC, www.tcwc.net) The worship team was singing the bridge of the song "Great are You Lord."  We were singing....

Our hearts will cry.
These bones will sing.
Great are You Lord.

"Great are You Lord" by All Sons and Daughters

As we sang, the Holy Spirit quickened the story of the Valley of Dry Bones from Ezekiel.  So I pulled out my phone with the handy little Bible App to read the story.  Isn't technology convenient?  You can read the story here or use your own Bible to go to Ezekiel 37.

I quietly read through the words of Ezekiel's vision.  As I read, I thought of how the story applied to my own life and realized that it is very likely that many of the people in my church and friends in my life may be having a similar experience where their life feels like a valley of dry bones.

What I saw in my mind was a valley of scattered bones...broken, picked apart by vultures, scattered everywhere, and just left there as a memorial of destruction and desolation.  I felt great sadness in my heart, for my own life and for others who may be feeling that they have also been broken by life, broken by others, or even broken by God and left out to rot and decay.  I began to grieve for those of us who feel like we have been picked apart by vultures, torn to pieces, and scattered all over a valley of death and destruction.



The music played on...
"These bones will sing. 
Great are You Lord!"

And I am crying out to God and thinking even though these bones are battered and shattered and though it feels like Habakkuk 3:17-18, I must still sing "Great are You Lord"?

17the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.  (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

In my spirit, I was overwhelmed and overcome with a newfound resolution to rejoice and be joyful in God in spite of my current circumstances. My spirit just wanted to shout out, "Come on church, I know your bones feel scattered and dry, but He is great. Let us praise Him!"

I went back and read the Ezekiel story again.  God asked Ezekiel, "Can these dry bones live?"  When we are in the Valley of Dry Bones....when we are the dry bones, we feel like we can't live.  We feel hopeless just like Israel, "our bones are dried up and our hope is lost, we are indeed cut off."

Thankfully, like Israel in this story, God doesn't leave us there hopeless and dried up.  He said to Israel and is saying to you and me, "I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people.  And I will bring you into the land of Israel.  And you shall know I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves...I will put my spirit within you and you shall live and I will place you in your own land.  Then you shall know that I am the Lord, I have spoken, and I will do it."

There is nothing in this world like being raised from the dead.  I have never been physically dead, but I have certainly felt spiritually and emotionally dead many times. Losing a loved one, changes in life, jobs, marriage troubles, wayward children, parenting challenges, addictions, troubled relationships can all leave us feeling dead and dry, but when Jesus comes and tells your dry bones to live (or asks you to tell your dry bones to live,) something changes inside.

God told Ezekial to prophesy to the bones. Sometimes, we have to speak to ourselves like David did in Psalm 43:5.

 5Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

We have to tell the broken, scattered, dry bones to come together and function again.  Hard times in life knock us down, but it is never God's intention to leave us broken and useless in a wasteland.  If you find yourself in a place where you feel like those bones, prophesy to your life and tell your bones to live.


Ezekiel spoke to the bones and there was a rattling and the bones came together bone to its bone.  I would have freaked out. Rattling bones coming together before my eyes and joining together by my words!  (Well God's words spoken through me I guess, but still!) Those desolate bones came together. At least now, those bones could function, right?  They were not just lying around in waste.

I must confess that in my life at the moment, my dry bones might be pretty content to be out of the wasteland and to just function. Functioning would be a welcome improvement and would be good enough for me.



Well, thank God that He had a better plan for those bones in the valley than to just function. Thank God that he has a better plan for you and me than for our bones just to function too.

 

A functioning skeleton can walk I guess, but in this Ezekiel story, God did not stop there.  Ezekiel said sinews formed on the bones and flesh came on them.  That's a lot better than a funky looking skeleton walking.  These bones in Ezekiel even started looking normal, whole, healed even.  All the bones gathered and assembled, muscles working, skin formed.  Hallelujah! It's a miracle.

I've experienced this.  Have you?  It is a miracle and most of us would be content and happy to stop there, but God isn't finished with just functioning.  He isn't even finished with us looking whole.  He wants to breathe His breath into us.

God wants better than to just see us functioning.  He wants to heal us completely and that means more than just functioning and looking normal on the outside. He wants us whole and restored on the inside.

In Ezekiel's experience, the bones rattled and came together with sinews and flesh, but there was no breath in them.  Our lives can sometimes feel this way.  We function, we look normal to everyone around us, but inside we find it difficult to breathe.  We feel like life has knocked the breath out of us.

                                  

Have you ever fallen or been hit and had the wind knocked out of you?

I remember a middle school basketball game years ago.  Yes, this short little mama played basketball, and I think I was pretty good. Not a star, but a pretty decent guard and an even better defender.  The other team had a player who, compared to me at the time, was a giant.  I know memory tends to exaggerate (and realize I'm still only 5'2" full grown) but she was close to 6 foot tall and weighed at least 150 pounds (probably more). I maybe weighed 85 soaking wet and holding a bag of bricks. Our team shot the ball.  She was in the middle of the paint and went up to get the rebound.  I was behind her, ready to steal as soon as she turned around.


Well, she turned around with her elbows out. Her elbows were right at the level of my throat and that is exactly where her elbow landed.  It hurt, but I thought it was no big deal.  I turned around to shake it off and get down court.  I quickly turned around....took a breath....but no air came into my lungs.  I tried...nothing. Cue the throat grabbing followed by falling to my knees followed by coaches (and probably my mom) running out to check on me.


Fortunately, the breathless trauma passed quickly.  I don't think I passed out.  I remember being told to stay calm and relax.  I remember trying, but it is hard not to panic when you can't catch your breath.  

After a few minutes, my breathing returned to normal and I was able, after a rest, to get back in the game and life went on as normal.  Sometimes, life knocks you hard...so hard you can't breathe.  Usually, we can pause for a few, wait a while, and then get back in the game.  Other times, life takes your breath away completely and you end up dead in the Valley of Dry Bones.  Thankfully, you don't have to stay there.

Ezekiel 37:9
Then He (God) said to Ezekiel,  "Prophesy to the Breath. Say to the breath, "Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds o breath and breathe on these slain that they may live."

Sometimes we have to use our mouths and speak life to ourselves or those we love.  We can't settle nor let the ones we love settle with living life breathless.  We have to let God's breath, His life, His hope, come from the four winds and breathe on us.  There are many times you may not feel it, but you have to speak out in faith and command life to come...not just functional life, but abundant life.  I think there are times we say we are waiting for God to come and fix something when He is waiting for us to open our mouths and command life to come forth.

Look what happened when Ezekiel spoke!  Breath came into the bones along with the sinew and flesh, and the dry bones lived...not functioned...not looked ok...they LIVED! They stood on their feet an exceeding great army.

"To Our God" by Bethel
"An army of dry bones is starting to rise."

There is an army God wants to raise up.  Too many of His soldiers are in the grave or living as skeletons, barely functioning, or looking OK on the outside but feeling lifeless on the inside.  God wants to put His Spirit within His people and raise them from their graves.  When God raises you from a place of brokenness, dead and rotting, picked apart, and scattered by vultures, you know beyond a doubt that He is LORD.  When we have experienced His resurrection and we know in a new way who He is, we become His army ready to push back the kingdom of darkness in not only our own lives but in the lives of others.  When we finally grasp this revelation, He will place us in places and situations where can make a difference by sharing what we have learned with others.


Here is the catch, we have to start opening our mouths and start speaking life.  Do you feel like you are the dry bones in Ezekiel's valley?  Do you know someone who is in their own Valley of Death?  Maybe a child, a co-worker, a relative or friend or perhaps there is a situation that feels dead, lifeless, and hopeless?  Perhaps the situation you are in feels hopeless-- a sickness, a broken relationship, financial difficulties?

Are you ready to look at those dead, dry bones and tell them to live?  Don't just tell them to come together and function or to look good, but tell them to rattle and come to life, whole and filled with the breath of God!


Are you ready to raise the dead and build an army for Christ?  You may be the prophetic voice God wants to use in someone's life or someone's situation. My voice may be the prophetic voice calling you to raise up from the grave! I don't have to stay the way I am. You don't have to stay the way you are! We do not have to stay broken and scattered. We can be gathered, mended and whole and full of the breath of God.  (Yes those are song lyrics...shocker!)

"Broken Vessels" by Hillsong

I might have ignored this message on that Sunday morning.  I might have let it go, but then, the following Sunday at church, all of the songs were about God breathing on us.  I'm convinced that God is wanting to breathe His breath into our dry bones and fully restore us. As I sat there listening to the songs, I asked God about my own dry bones.

Personally, many times, the year 2016 left me feeling broken, dry, scattered, abandoned, and breathless.  My family and I left a ministry position that we loved in a city that we loved with people that we loved.  In fact, we left vocational ministry completely.  It's a long story that I won't go into here, but we lived in two different cities for almost 6 months because financially it was our only choice.  I had a miscarriage.  When we all moved back in together, it was strange.  The new town we now live in is small.  The culture is different.  The people are different.  The new church we are in is different from the Every Nation family that I have been apart of for 21 years.  Not bad, just different. I've felt out of place.  My heart has been broken.  I have at times felt abandoned and left out to rot and be picked apart by vultures of loneliness, depression, contempt, anger, and unforgiveness...just to name a few.

I feel God is telling me that it's time to speak to my dry bones and tell them to live again.  Even though I often feel dry and like hope is lost, I am making the choice to open my mouth and command these bones to LIVE.  Not to function, not to look ok to the world but feel lifeless inside, but to truly LIVE.

I hear the bones rattling.  I see them coming together and sinews and flesh coming on them, and I feel the breath of God coming into my lungs and giving me new hope and new life.

PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO....SO POWERFUL IT GAVE ME CHILLS! IT'S AN ANIMATION OF THIS STORY IN EZEKIAL THAT WON'T DISAPPOINT!


And now, I'm speaking to the bones I see around me.  To the people around me and to the situations I see around me that seem hopeless. I'm not leaving any bones in a valley of desolation and destruction. I'm commanding them to LIVE.

I'm challenging you to LIVE and to speak out to the dry bones around you as well.  I'm commanding you to LIVE and know that God is the Lord!  He raises the dead from their graves and He can raise you and any hopeless situations you are facing.  He wants your dry bones to LIVE. You may just need to open up your mouth and speak it forth!

Can we do it together?  Can we be whole and filled with the breath of God? Can we raise up an army of dry bones that have been fully restored and are ready to change the world for Christ? Can we call out to dry bones, "Come Alive"?  We can! In fact, this is God's heart and His desire for us.  We just need to agree with Him and speak it forth!  I'm up for the challenge, are you?

"Come Alive" by Lauren Daigle

__________________________________________________________________

I hope reading this encourages you to know God more.  If I can pray for you in any way, please feel free to contact me at reachteachgrow1@gmail.com.  

Renea


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Life in the Shadow

If you grew up or live in my hometown, you probably know my brother.  Billy Jack's the guy that everyone knows and everyone loves.  As a teenager, he was larger than life and well known for other reasons I suppose, but as an adult, (and please never tell him I said this) he continues to be a genuinely great guy.  He has a huge heart and deeply cares for his friends and family...even strangers.
It was sometimes hard to be the little sister living in that huge, larger than life shadow.  He was way more popular. (Thankfully I was smarter!) ;-) Sometimes though, I didn't mind being Billy Jack's little sister. He was only one year ahead of me in school, so I guess being his sister helped.  I wasn't invited to his parties or anything, but I did always know I was protected.  If something bad were to come up (even though we were not super close at the time,) I knew my brother would stand up for me.  There was safety in his shadow.
My brother Billy and I at prom.
No, we did not go together!
Yes, we were this awesome!
A few years ago, I was walking with my kids.  It was a hot summer day, the kind that sucks the very life from you.  I don't know why (perhaps my 5 & 3 year olds were driving me nuts, and I needed out of the house,) but I decided that we would get out and take a walk.  Brilliant!

It would be fun, a nice break in the monotony of the day...WRONG!
This would have been a better idea!
Have you ever walked a small child in the blistering heat of summer?  It was fun for about 5 minutes...and then the complaining began.  In my mind, I know my son was there, probably in the stroller, but he fades in the background at this point because Baby Girl who often is the center of her own universe was determined to be the center of everyone's universe that day.

"Mommy, it's so hot.  Mommy, carry me.  Mommy, it's too bright."  Translation:  #Imgoingtodie!


We were not too far from home, but it seemed a million miles away.  I might have picked her up and just carried her (that is what she really wanted;) but as I said, I was already pushing Baby Brother in the stroller, so that wasn't an option.

Then, I looked down and saw my shadow.  
There it was. The solution to our problem, a shade from the brightness and cooler shelter from the heat of the sun.  "Samantha," I said gently (though I wanted to scream,) "Walk in my shadow."

Cue bewildered toddler stare and....wait for it...."why?"

"Because there is shade.  If you walk in my shadow, the sun will not be so bright and you will be a bit cooler too."  I knew she would be sheltered from the heat and brightness of the sun if she would only walk in my shadow.  I gave myself a mental pat on the back for my genius problem solving skills.  "Well done, Mommy," I silently congratulated myself.

For a moment (a very brief moment) she tried it. Then stopped and loudly proclaimed in all her five year old glory, "NO! I don't want to. It's too hard" and it was back to complaining and utter misery.

Ah the joy that floods your soul when your sweet little one (whom you labored with for what seemed like forever and pushed for 3 1/2 hours to birth into the universe) looks at you with that defiant determination and tells you NO!
In the midst of my frustration, I felt a gentle, unexpected nudge.  Not the nudge of a sweet little one saying, "I'm so sorry for being a stubborn tyrant dictator!" though that would have been very welcome.  It was a different kind of nudge, but one just as familiar as the tug of a toddler.  It was the nudge that comes when you know the Holy Spirit is trying to grab your attention.

In my wisdom, I knew that if Samantha would only walk in my shadow, her life would be easier.  She wouldn't be as hot and the light would not be hurting her eyes, so what was the stinking problem?

The problem was that walking in my shadow (from her limited perspective) was a chore.  She had to stop when I stopped, go wherever I went, and follow wherever I led...and she just didn't want to go the way that I was going. She did not want to be in my shadow.
As God continued to move upon my heart, I felt those familiar tears begin to well up in my eyes and burn my face as they rolled down my cheeks (and not just because there was sunburn though surely there was.)  The Holy Spirit was speaking directly to my heart.  The truth was piercing me like a two edged sword...dividing soul and spirit...judging the thoughts and attitudes of my heart (Hebrews 4:12) not to condemn me (Romans 8:1); because he understands and empathizes with my weakness (Hebrews 4:15), but to set me free (John 8:32).

I don't remember exactly what was going on in my life at the time.  I remember we had moved back to North Carolina after eight years in Europe with a dream to plant a church in Pittsburgh, and I remember that it wasn't going the way that we had planned. (In fact, that's not where we ended up at all....maybe one day?)

Spiritually and emotionally, I was frustrated, hot, the sun was hurting my eyes too.  I wasn't happy at all.  I missed my friends, my life felt upside down.  I was unhappy and everyone around me sure knew it.

God was clearly speaking to me in the heat of that extremely frustrating day...

Psalm 91:1(emphasis mine)
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will REST in the SHADOW of the almighty.

The Holy Spirit whispered, "You need to walk in my shadow.  There is shelter from the heat for you. There is comfort for you.  The heat of this trial doesn't have to scorch you."

"But God, I'm tired.  It's too hard." I argued. (Sound familiar?)  "I don't want to go where you are leading. I want to go somewhere else.  I don't want to stop here.  I don't want to go there?"  But did I dare to stare up at heaven and loudly proclaim "NO! I don't want to!"

What choice did I really have?  Walk on my own, sweat, let my eyes squint and cause a migraine all because I was just as stubborn as my five year old and thought I knew more than God!

There's a song (Yeah, it's me, of course there is a song...)

Where you go, I'll go.
Where you stay, I'll stay.
When you move, I'll move.
I will follow.

In that moment, God was offering me shelter.  He was saying, "You don't have to brave the heat on your own.  You can abide in my shadow.  All you have to do is go where I go. Stay when I stay, and move when I move."

It seems so simple. Why did I want to fight it?  Why on that hot summer day was my daughter failing to see I was trying to help?  Why was I failing to see and accept my Father's gentle solution to my misery?
As I walked down the street that day I surrendered.  I said, "OK God, I get it. I'm going to stop trying to do it all on my own in my own stubborn way. I'm ready to get out of the heat and rest in Your shade. I'm ready to cool off."

I'm writing this three years later and it still in many ways seems like it was yesterday.  I'm writing this now because I find myself once again in need of shelter and refuge.  I'm having trouble going, staying, and moving when and where He does, and I need to abide in the shadow of the most High and realize He has a plan and is looking out for my best interests even if I can't understand what is happening right now.

I need to let God hide me in the shadow of his wings (Psalm 17:8).  This is a season in my life where I feel like God has just stopped moving for a minute.  I want to go forwards or run back, but the shelter is in the resting shadow of God who, in His infinite wisdom, knows that I need to stop for a minute.

I'm frustrated.  I tend to still think I know better, but I have to trust Him.  Just like I needed my daughter to trust me that day and to walk in my shadow, God needs me to trust Him and abide in his shadow because He sees the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) and knows what is best for me.  I need to listen and be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). I need to find a way to sing for joy in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 63:7)!


You see God is like my big brother. (Oh my, did I really just say that?...Please NEVER tell him!) Well, at least in this one respect, He has my back.  When I need Him (even when I think I don't need Him,) He is and will always be there for me.  Living in His shadow may not always be easy, but it certainly does have it's advantages.  There is safety in His shadow.  We are protected and sheltered. May we all learn to abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  There's no better place to be than living life in His shadow.

________________________

Are you struggling between walking on your own or walking in His shadow?  May I encourage you that you don't have to take the heat.  Life is better when we choose to trust Him even in the most difficult situations. If I can pray for you in any way, please let me know!  Pray for me as well!

Trusting Him Always,
Renea

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

7 Layer Chocolate Cake - Life Lessons We Should Learn from Grandma

Mary Frances Grimes, my grandmother, went to be with Jesus on Saturday.  Today we had her funeral.  This is my tribute to her.  Rest in Peace Grandma!  Well done good and faithful servant. Enter in to your Master's joy!

A 7 Layer Chocolate Cake - Life Lessons We Can Learn From Grandma

Chances are if you are in this room, then you are familiar with the fact that one of Grandma’s favorite things to do was cook.  It’s also likely that at some point in time you have eaten some of her famous 7 Layer Chocolate Cake.

Like the layers in the cake she always brought to reunions and holiday gatherings, there were many layers of lessons that we can all take away from my Grandma’s life. 

The 1st layer is the one that was most important to Grandma and has also become the most important to me as well.  The foundation of everything she was and the life she lived was her love for God.  I remember going to stay with Grandma as a child.  I remember her reading her Bible. It was marked and highlighted with care.  It was worn from use.  The words went from the pages into her heart and made her the woman that we all knew and loved.  I saw her pray beside her bed every night before we would go to sleep.  I couldn’t always hear or understand the words that she was saying, but there is no doubt in my mind that many were for me…and many were for you.  We will all do better if we make God our foundational layer as well.

The 2nd layer we can take away from Grandma’s life is to love our family.  Passionately, boldly, unwaveringly.  Grandma loved each of us.  As different as we are, as many mistakes as we have all made (some more than others though I won’t name names), never once have we doubted that Grandma loved us.  She has always been there for us.  Sitting at a dance recital, a graduation ceremony, a wedding.  Grandma was present.  In today’s world, someone can be at a particular place or time, but still not be present.  Today we get distracted with smart phones and TV.  When you were with Grandma, she was present.  There in the moment with you.  She made you feel important and loved.  That is something I’d like to learn from and make sure in my life and with my family and friends, I’m there…100% and that they know they are important. This is how we should love our family.

The 3rd layer we can take away from Grandma’s life is her love for others.   As I drove from SC on Saturday, I was thinking about legacy.  I guess for some that means something grand like solving the problems of the world or becoming famous.  Grandma’s legacy was different.  I think possibly the most profound legacy that she left this world spawned from her love for others.  If anyone needed help, Grandma was there.  She was the kind of person who would do anything for anyone she could.  When I look at our family, each of us inherited this compassion.  Mom and Aunt Barbara have always helped others.  All of us in the family have watched this from our birth.  And when I sat and thought about it, we are all helpers.  We go out of our way to help others.  In a world where this is becoming more and more rare, I’m glad that we learned from Grandma the importance of loving our neighbor as ourselves.  I’m glad that this legacy is a part of our heritage, and I hope we can continue to pass this legacy down to our children as well.

The 4th layer we can learn from Grandma’s life is to be content.   Grandma’s life was not extravagant.  She lived simply. I never heard her complain.  She had one box of toys in the back of her home.  We were all different ages at different stages in life, and there were a lot of us.  Somehow we all were content with that same old box of toys….for years!  Sometimes I feel like I always have to have more, get more, do more.  I think I can learn, that we all can and should learn to just be content and thankful for what we have.  We are so blessed and if we are not careful, we will be too busy looking for the next thing in our lives and our happiness will pass us by.

The 5th Layer would be to find something you love and do it…with joy, with excellence, with others if you can.  Grandma loved cooking, playing games, plastic canvas, quilting, singing, and gardening among many other things.  So she found time to do the things that brought her joy.  I don’t know where she found the time, but she did.  I think we do well when we pursue the things we love and make time for them instead of letting the tyranny of the urgent make us slaves to what we must do at the expense of doing what we love with the ones we love.

The 6th layer I want to take away from Grandma’s life is to have the ability to exude peace.  This is hard for me to explain because I’m not sure how she did it.  Whenever I was with Grandma, I just felt peace.  I think that is why I loved to be with her.  We didn’t have to be playing something or doing anything together. When I was at Grandma’s I just felt at peace.  As an adult, I now realize that even Grandma surely had problems of her own. I know she faced trials, yet somehow whenever I was in her home, I felt a supernatural peace and calm.  Grandma’s house was a safe place.  My home was also safe of course.  It was great, but Grandma’s house was special because Grandma’s love was special.  And in her love, my heart felt peace.  I want to be able to bring that peace to others as well.  The world is hard.  People need peace.  I hope we can learn from Grandma that even though we have troubles in this world, our hearts can still find peace in God, and our homes can still be a place of peace for others.

The Seventh layer and the icing on the cake, is Faithfulness.  She was a faithful Christian, a faithful wife, a faithful mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great great grandmother.  In her later years, she was a faithful caretaker to Granddaddy James.  You could always trust her word.  If she said she would be there, she was there and on time. (God help me.)  She was dependable, someone you could count on and not worry about.  God help us all to be so faithful.  And thank God that when she left her earthly body behind, she finally got to hear God’s words affirm her faithfulness as He surely said to Grandma, well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord and that is where she is right now. 

Grandma’s cakes were made of just the right ingredients. They were frosted with love and prayer, and baked with perfect timing.  I’m thankful for the legacy she has given to all of us and thankful that one day, if we have learned from her life, we can all be with her again in heaven.  That would surely be her greatest joy!

Rest in Peace Grandma…until we meet again!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Out of These Ashes


This morning was difficult. My back was in pain.  I did something to my back last Saturday and have had to deal with the pain all week.  The doctors are not sure, but it is either a sprained or pulled muscle or a problem with a disc in my back.  I'm on steroids and Aleve and taking painkillers and muscle relaxers as needed.

I find my family once again in a chapter of transition where God is asking us to let go of one thing before really telling us what it is we should grab a hold of next.  Chris, my husband, has taken a job in another city, and without long explanation, the kids and I are living with my parents (7 hours away) for a few months as we try to see how God will put the pieces of our broken hearts and lives back together in a story of redemption like only He can write.  We were all set to visit him in the town that will likely be our new home during our Spring Break from school when this back fiasco came along and has now completely ruined our plans.

With all of this weighing heavy on my mind, I awoke this morning with my body in pain and my mind clouded and overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair.

I have fought all of these mental battles before but never with a sense of physical helplessness and pain that is leaving me dependent upon others and unable to literally get up and out. There is nowhere to run but to my Lord.

As I laid in bed, I felt the sense that I was being overwhelmed and something rose within me that thought: though I can't push back all of the physical pain in this moment, I have to fight in the Spirit to push back the mental anguish because it is crushing me. (Side note: Yes, I do believe and pray for physical healing, it was just not my focus this morning.)

So I began to pray in the Spirit and tried to push back against the anguish, these are the things I felt and sensed God showing me as I prayed....

I felt some space begin to lift between the darkness and my mind. I asked God to fill in that space with His hope, love, and joy...Hope for the feelings of hopelessness, joy for the feelings of despair and comfort for the helplessness I was feeling.

I felt as I prayed that God was speaking to me the words  from a Stephen Curtis Chapman song...
"Out of these ashes, beauty will rise 
You will dance among the ruins. 
You will see it with your own eyes."


  "Beauty Will Rise" by Stephen Curtis Chapman

A glimmer of life and hope awakened inside, but even still, I felt like despair was trying to overtake me. So I began praying and asking, "God, what is the opposite of despair?" because I knew that is what I needed and is what I need right now.

The only thing I could think is that the opposite of despair must be joy, and I remembered these words from another song.

 I am pressed but not crushed,
Persecuted not abandoned,
Struck down but not destroyed.
I am blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure
That His joy is gonna be my strength.
Though the sorrow May last for the night, His joy comes in the morning.


 "Trading My Sorrows" by Darrell Evans


It's not just a song, it is a promise in God's word.

2 Corinthians 4:7
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed


So I prayed (and continue praying now... For me and for you..)

"God help me not be crushed by the disappointment and despair I feel. Help me have understanding where I am absolutely baffled and perplexed in the midst of what you are doing in my life. You see the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) but I can't, and I need understanding and peace in this storm.  Though I feel struck down, let me know that I am not destroyed!"

"God please give me joy in the midst of pain and despair, the secret treasures hidden in darkness that you speak of in your Word."

Isaiah 45:3
3I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.


"God give me The secret treasures of Your hope, Your life, Your peace, Your comfort, Your Presence, Your Strengthening, Your freedom."

"Go before me and as Isaiah 45:3 says level the mountains I face and break down the gates of bronze and cut through the bars of iron that are imprisoning me in my own hopeless and despairing thoughts."

Isaiah 45:5-7
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you...
6so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.


Friends, I am choosing to cry out to the one and only God who forms the light and brings prosperity and disaster, so that He may strengthen me that I may know Him and His treasures hidden in darkness and that others may see His light and glory being worked in and through my life. That the world may know and see that He is real, true, and completely with us in the midst of our grief, pain, sorrows, joys, highest moments, victories...God is with us, Immanuel, in every time, season, and chapter of our lives (Matthew 1:23).

As I continued to pray, I felt God comforting me with the words from another song....
I am not alone, I am not alone.
You will go before me, 
you will never leave me.
 I Am Not Alone - Kari Jobe
Verse 1
When I walk through deep waters
I know that you will be with me
When I'm standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
Oh I will not fear

Chorus
I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

Verse 2
In the midst of deep sorrow
I see your light is breaking through
The dark night will not over take me
I am pressing into you
Lord you fight my every battle
And I will not fear

Bridge 
You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as your own

You're my strength
You're my defender
You're my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You have always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul


I know God is with me walking through this chapter, as He has in every chapter of my life.  I am not alone.  He has not left me.  He goes before me. He never leaves me. He never will. 

His word also promises this truth. Nothing can separate me from His love.

Romans 8:37-39

37In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,kneither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Nothing can separate me from God, and all of this momentary light affliction is working in me something eternal for Your  glory .

2 Corinthians 4:
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Romans 8:18
18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.


So in light of his Truth and promises in the Bible, I pray God will help me as I wait to keep perspective and that He will help me know that this chapter will not last forever. 

Another song awakened in my Spirit, a song for me to treasure in my heart....a hope that God will give me
Beauty for these ashes, 
A garment of praise, for my heaviness. 
Beauty for ashes, 
Take this heart of stone and make it yours. 
I delight myself in the richest of fair, 
Trading all that I have,   
for all that is better. 
A garment of praise for my heaviness 
You are the greatest taste, 
Your the richest of fair.


"Beauty for Ashes" - Shane and Shane

Again it's not just a song but a promise from His Sovereign word...

Isaiah 61
The Year of the Lord’s Favor

1The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,a
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.



This is what I am realizing, I
n order ....

...for me to To be an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor....

....for God to rebuild ancient ruins and restore places long devastated for generations in my life...

....For me to bind up the broken-hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives...

Right now ....

In this season and in this moment,

...I have to allow God to bestow upon me a crown of beauty instead of ashes

...the oil of joy instead of morning

...and the garment of praise instead of the spirit of despair that I have felt weighing me down.


This isn't easy for me.  


Why?

Because it requires faith that as I surrender my pain, grief, suffering, disappointment, He will actually take it and give me something better. Somewhere deep inside my heart, I struggle to put all that trust in Him because I fear disappointment.
 

But from somewhere deeper inside my heart, I have to remind myself...I have to remember that God is a good, good Father (yes that's yet another song...)


 Good, Good Father - Chris Tomlin

and When I ask for bread, He will not give me a stone. (Matthew 7:9) It is His desire to work in my life for His will and good pleasure, and mine too (Philippians 2:13). His promise is to prosper and not to harm me, to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

So this morning, God once again as always, has come to me in my place of despair and encouraged me to fight for the promises and hope that the devil, is trying to devour, steal, kill, and destroy. (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10). I must remember that Jesus has come to give me life, and to have it to the full. (John 10:10).

Though I can't say I feel the glory of heaven, I can say that I do feel lighter and that the darkness has been pushed back and God is filling in those places of darkness with the light of His love.

This I know, I will continue to press into God and fight back against the despair...

....Until the hope in me is secure and I become that oak of righteousness for the display of His splendor,

...until the ancient ruins and places long devastated in my heart are rebuilt and renewed.

....Until I am restored and able to with newfound boldness and the freedom that comes from one who has overcome, bind up the broken-hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives, to comfort those who mourn and help them to also receive the oil of joy and a garment of praise. 


I resolve to fight, not just for me, not just for my family, but for those that God will use me to reach in the future.

Easy? Not really.  But I have nothing to lose. So I chose to press on. Will you?

Philippians 3:12-14
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Peace on Earth

by Chris Gill
Associate Pastor, Every Nation NYC, East Side

Peace on earth. These are words that I can barely fathom, especially in light of recent events in our nation but particularly here in our city. From the racial tensions among whites and blacks to the strained relations between the public and law enforcement, it has been an unsettling  autumn. 



Trust has been broken, families have been torn apart, and lives have been unnecessarily taken from us. “Peace on earth” seem like words uttered in a fairy tale, and carry no weight.

Jesus was also no stranger to tragedy. His life started out as a toddler avoiding an assassination attempt that included him fleeing to another country. Later his cousin’s life was cut short when a little girl asked that John’s head be given to her on a food serving tray. Another time, He was betrayed by one of his closest friends through an unjustly arrest that eventually led Jesus down a path that resulted in his execution. Where was the peace then? Where is it now?


Complete peace will never exist on earth among humanity as long as sin is present. Peace and sin are like oil and water, they can’t coexist. Yet on that night, above a field full of mangy sheep and a few shepherds, the sky lit up with tons of angels and they announced:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
-Luke 2:14 ESV

When we accept Christ to be the Lord and Savior of our lives and He dwells within us, then peace also exists within us. That doesn’t mean that bad things no longer happen to us or that we’re immune to fear, but rather we have a foundational truth in our minds and hearts that we stand upon in times of great peril. We understand three things as Christians:

1) God is ultimately in control despite the presence & action of sin around us.

2) He is a God of justice and will not let sin escape judgement.

3) Despite our circumstances, He works all things together for the good in our lives as we love, trust, and follow His ways. 

Peace on earth will not exist until Jesus Christ comes again and brings the final judgement in which the presence of sin, the devil, and all of his fallen angels are expelled and confined to a supernatural eternal prison. Then and only then will peace on earth exist as a whole. For now, the peace within us as Christians is merely a sufficient taste of what is to come. 

Join with me as we pray for all the families out there who have lost loved ones this year. Let’s pray that God’s peace will dwell among them. And as always, let’s lift up our city and #PrayForNYC.




Monday, 8 April 2013

Grief, Healing, and Reward...The Story of Eli




Baby dedications can mean different things to different people.  For Chris and I, it is about declaring our intentions to raise our children in a way that honors God.  It is our way of saying to the world that we are committing them to God's grace and guidance, and we are praying for God's help and wisdom to help mold and shape their hearts towards God.

To some, it may seem strange that on Sunday we dedicated our youngest son, Eli to the Lord at our church in Greenville.  It's not strange that there was a baby dedication and that we would want to do this, what's strange is that Eli is two years old.  Most children at baby dedications are in fact...babies, usually quite small ones as you can see in this photo.


We had scheduled to do a baby dedication for him in Edinburgh, but there was a huge marathon that day, and we were unable to make it to church on time because a 10 minute drive took us 1 1/2 hours. Then we just had to park and walk another 30 minutes to get to church.  Of course, by the time we had arrived, we were just too late for it to work out.

After that, time just flew by, God was calling us back to the USA, and it just never happened.  I had almost decided that we'd just let this go.  God knows our heart after all.  This wee lad had been dedicated to God long before he ever made his way into our loving arms.

Then I thought of Hannah, Samuel's mom.  And I remembered how much like Hannah I felt in the year before God gave us Eli.

2009 was by far the most difficult year of my life.  The year began with us finding we were very unexpectedly pregnant followed closely by a miscarriage.  Then we returned to our home in Budapest, Hungary to find that the church we were working with was basically closing it's doors, so our world was thrown into further chaos as we began to try and figure out where God was sending us.  We moved back to the USA to await visas before moving to Scotland.  While we were waiting, my brother died suddenly from a brain aneurysm.


My brother James and his wife Beth


So I moved to Scotland in September, and all that loss hit me in a wave of grief so strong that it was hard to breathe.  Depression sank in, and I began to fight with the Almighty in a myriad of questions about how He could allow all of these things to happen to me when I had given up everything to serve Him and follow His plan for my life?  Tears burned my face almost daily, and it was all I could do to get out of bed and keep moving forward. All of this swarmed in my mind while I was also trying to learn a new culture, make new friends, and minister the love of God to the lost, and....oh yeah....chase my toddler around and try to be a good mom!

Somehow in the midst of all this loss, I began to believe that there was one thing that would redeem all of the hurt and all of the loss...looking back it was crazy, but at the time it seemed so logical.  In my mind, I began to believe that having a baby would heal the hurt in my soul.

Like Hannah, in deep anguish, I prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly and saying that if He would look upon me and give me a child, I would give Him to the Lord for all the days of His life.  I was deeply troubled and pouring out my soul to the Lord.  I was praying out of my great anguish and grief.

(If you don't know Hannah's story, you can read it here.)

Month after month, I waited.  Month after month, my waiting was met by disappointment.  Each month the grief intensified, and I began to realize how angry and bitter I was with the Lord.  How could he hurt me so deeply?  How could He take everything away from me?  How could he deny me the one thing that (in my mind) would redeem it all?

Why?

After months of wrestling with God in all of its ugliness, God began to show me the reason He was not allowing me to become pregnant.  I was looking for a baby to redeem all of that loss and fill the hurting places in my soul.  In retrospect, how could I have ever put so much responsibility on such a tiny wee soul.  A baby was/is never meant to carry such a great weight.  A child should not be expected to heal a mother's wounded soul....well, at least not any normal child.

But there was one child who was born for such a purpose.  Jesus, the son of God, born of a virgin, living a perfect life, dying a gruesome death, rising victoriously from the grave.  A child was my Redeemer, but the child that was meant to redeem me was not a child that I would bear.  My Redeemer was a child born 2000+ years ago to another mother who came to know grief all to well and in a deeper way than I could ever imagine.

God did not want to give me a child of my own to be my redeemer.  He did not want to give me a bandage or something to replace what I had lost.  He wanted to give me Himself.  He wanted to be my Redeemer, my Restorer.  He wanted to heal my hurt and make me whole.

That way, when He did give me a child, it would not be a replacement for the child I lost or a redeemer of the all the loss I had experienced.  He wanted to give me a child as a blessing, an addition to an already whole and fully redeemed me.

It was hard.  I spent months in anguish.  My husband encouraged me to seek help and a dear friend held my hand and prayed with me and counseled me to allow God to do a deep work of healing in my soul.  She told me that this was not His time for me to have a baby.  That in my life, this was His time.  Tough words to hear.  In fact her words made me so angry at the time, but they were so true.  God wanted my whole-hearted, undistracted devotion.  He wanted my eyes on Him.

I had to repent of all of that anger I had towards God. I had to grieve the loss of a child, a home, a ministry, and a brother. It hurt more deeply than anything I had ever experienced.  I had to let go of the hope that having a baby would heal me.  I had to let God be my healer and come to the place where I accepted that God may never give me another child, and that this would be ok because I had the promise that He was with me, and He was more than enough.

It took months before I finally surrendered and fully repented.  It took time before I could say like Job, "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21) I had to get to the place where I said, "God I want you more than anything."

It hurt.  My soul felt like it was being ripped into shreds, but God was near and very real to me...more real than any other time in my life.  He took me into His arms as I wept.  He was there bringing the healing that no child could have ever given to me because what I needed only He could give.

Finally, I reconciled in my soul that we would probably never have another child.  It was well with my soul.  Then, one month after I fully surrendered all of it to Jesus, we were surprised by joy, and in November, Eli was born.



So maybe it is fitting that Eli is a bit older for his baby dedication.  If you remember, Hannah waited until Samuel was weaned before presenting him before the Lord.  Maybe he was around two years old as well, I'm not sure.  It does say that "she took the boy with her."

So this week as we presented Eli to the Lord, I was able to pray as Hannah did when she brought Samuel to the house of the Lord....



"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the Lord.  For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord."(1 Samuel 1:27-28)

____________________________________


What loss have you experienced?  Where are you going to find healing?  Are you looking for God to be your Redeemer or are you trying to fill the void with something or someone else?

Might I encourage you to go to Jesus?

I challenge you to trust His goodness even in the midst of great loss.  I don't say this because it is easy, far from it.  It may be the hardest thing you ever do.

May I also encourage you to reach out to a friend in the faith or a mentor who will stand with you and hold your hand?  Find someone who will pray for you and drive you to the foot of the cross straight into the arms of the only one who can heal you.

You can be mad at God, but it is very hard to find healing when you are separating yourself from the only one who truly knows your hurt and truly has the power to heal.

This one is hard to say, but don't forget that when you are running away from God, there is an enemy who waits to destroy you.  When you remove yourself farther from your Protector, Satan gains a foothold into your life that you do not want him to have. (This was one of the hardest parts for me to grasp.  The enemy was having his way with not only me, but also my family. This realization hurt, but it helped me find my way home.)

He is here.  He is waiting with arms wide open to envelop you in His loving arms.  He longs to pour out His healing into the deepest part of your heart.  He wants to show you that He bore all of your sin and paid the price for you to be healed, made whole, and set free.

There is a scripture that was hard for me during this season in my life, but it also gave me hope.  I share it with you because God's truth is what you need more than good advice or man's wisdom.

Hebrews 10:35-36 

Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (NLT)

Be confident of his unfailing, steadfast, unwavering love for you even in the midst of your pain and uncertainty.  Persevere and follow Him even if you feel He is leading you straight into the heart of the valley of death.  He will not leave you.  I promise this fight and journey has great reward. Maybe not the one you think, but the reward will always be that you will come out of the valley knowing Him in a deeper way than you could have ever imagined.  It is worth the pain to receive this promise!


Would you dare to trust Him again?  It may take time, but I promise, my dear friend, He will not disappoint. He will draw nearer to you than you could ever imagine if you will allow Him to do His work, His way...and His ways are always for your good.

_____________________________

Father God would you take this message and use it to minister to my friends, your children.  May those who hurt find healing in the shadow of your wings.  May those who are experiencing grief find the comfort and healing that only You can give.

God I pray that every thing that they are wanting to fill that void or loss would be stripped away.  I know that sounds harsh, but I know that those things will disappoint them, and You never will.  Father give them Yourself.  Be their Redeemer, Restorer, and Healer.

I pray that they would reach out for help and find Godly friends who will pray for them and remind them that You are good.  May there be no condemnation for any person who is walking through loss and/or questioning Your goodness.  May there only be healing and turning to You alone.

God draw near to every hurting, angry person and envelop them so strongly in Your love that they can no longer run away from You.  May these words help bring the same comfort to others that You have given to me...the comfort of Your presence and Your healing power...In Jesus name.

_____________________________

If I can pray for you in any way, please don't hesitate to let me know.  You can send me a personal message at european_missions@yahoo.com.  May you find God's rest, peace, and healing in your time of need!



Thursday, 14 February 2013

The God Loves Me Project



A friend of mine has been collecting encouraging scriptures and letters from women about God's love in order to send them to a teenager who is just about to graduate from high school.  This is what God gave me to share with her.  I wanted to share it here on my blog as well.  I think Valentine's Day is the perfect time!  I feel there are many people who need to hear this message. I know how much I needed to hear it again myself. Enjoy.



At the beginning of last year, I was having some trouble with my self-image.  A lot of things had happened, and I was in a pretty dark place in my soul. During that time, a friend and mentor in the Lord challenged me to begin to meditate on how God sees me.  She challenged me to stop looking to what others think of me and stop looking at all my failures, and begin to place my eyes on what Jesus thinks of me. She challenged me to search the scriptures and make a list answering the question, “How does God see me?”

There were a lot of things that I found. I am the apple of His eye (Deuteronomy 32:9-10, Zachariah 2:8, and Psalm 17:8). He delights in me (Psalm 18:19). He was pleased to make me His own (1Samuel 12:22). He chose me (Ephesians 1:11). He takes pleasure in me and has adopted me as His daughter (Ephesians 1:5). He has plans for my good and to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

But out of all the scriptures I read and all the things I learned about how God sees me, one nugget of truth resonated the most.  God began to show me that I am His treasured possession.

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be His treasured possession.


Somehow meditating on this verse helped me begin to realize that I was chosen and treasured.  Even when other people did not treasure me, even when I felt my own family was treating me like rubbish, even when I felt like rubbish myself, the Maker of Heaven and Earth treasured, chose, and valued me.  He saw that I was a treasure even when I couldn’t see it. Even when others around me didn’t see it, He saw. 

And He was waiting quietly in the wings for me to come to Him and listen to Him speak words of life to me.  He wanted me to hear that everything I was looking to others to provide for me was meant to be given by Him.  He was continuously longing to poor these words of life into my soul, but I was too busy looking around and within to hear Him speak.

I learned during this time that I had to stop looking to the world and others (even Christian people, even my husband and my family) to provide what only He can. He is my source of sufficiency. He is the giver of hope and life and esteem.  I have self-esteem because God esteems me.  For me to look on what he calls treasure and say it’s rubbish is just sin.  I could write for hours to tell the whole story and all God brought me through and showed me.  There was an intense time of repentance for believing the lies that Satan was shouting at me over the truth that Jesus paid the price for me to know.  I am His treasure.  You are too.




In Exodus 19:5, God says:
If you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the Earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Again God is echoing that we are His treasured possession, but in these verses there seems to be more to it.  There is also the command to obey His voice and keep His covenant. Now this was the Old Testament and the covenant was a bit different, but I think the words hold true today.  We are under a new covenant, bought with the blood of Jesus shed for our sins to bring us into right standing before God.  There is grace, but grace is not an excuse to sin.  (See Romans 6:1-4)  God still wants us to obey Him, to follow Him and keep a heart of repentance that bends our heart towards Him and away from sin.  He wants us to be holy. When we fall victim to the lies of Satan that tell us we are worthless or no good…when those thoughts race through our mind that we are a failure, we have to remember that Satan roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom He may devour (1 Peter 5:8).  He comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  He wants to take us out.  He doesn’t want us believing in God’s truth about us. 




Why? Because if we truly believe we are treasured and we see that we are more than conquerors through Jesus (Romans 8:37)…if we know that Jesus has already made (past tense) us victorious (2 Corinthians 2:14), we will live our lives with purpose and passion.  Not only that, but we will also persuade others to live by the truth as well.  That makes hell shake in fear.

In Deuteronomy 26:18, the Bible states:
And the LORD has declared this day that you are His people, His treasured possession as He promised, and that you are to keep all His commands.

You are treasured, beloved, valued, esteemed!  The Lord of Heaven and Earth has declared it. The enemy does comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came so you could have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). The greatest part is that it’s not because of how good you’ve been or what you have or haven’t done.  It’s just all because of Jesus and what he has already done on the cross.  When you fail, it’s ok.  Repent and move forward.  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  You don’t have to lie their wallowing in your sin or self-pity.  Jesus forgives.  That’s why He died and rose again.  He’s not surprised.  He loves infinitely and completely.  His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).  Those are His promises.  God has declared it, so why don’t you declare it too? I dare you.

1 Peter 2:9 says…
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.





Don’t stay in the darkness of Satan’s lies.  You’ve been called out of that.  You belong to God.  You were made to declare His praise.  You are chosen royalty my friend.  You have been set apart, so live differently.  Look to Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2).  When times are hard, know it’s ok.  He’s with you and still treasures you…that’s right YOU!  He cries with you and for you.  He just wants your heart…all of it...to believe and trust His truth. 




Would you be willing to do that?  Would you take a minute and meditate on the fact that you are His treasured possession and let that change the way you think and the way you act?  

Dear God, please help those who read this find a new revelation of the truth that they are your treasured possession.  May they look to you as their source of encouragement and esteem.  May they fully trust Your love for them.  May they know that of all the people on the face of the Earth, You have chosen them to be Your treasured possession.  All of heaven and earth is Yours, but You treasure them more than anything else.  There is a saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I thank you God that we are not rubbish…we are not trash…not even close…no matter what anyone might try to say…no matter how loud the devil may be screaming it at us...no matter how hard our own soul seems to condemn us. We are worth so much that You sent Your Son to redeem us from our sins.  You paid the highest price so that we could be brought near to You.  Let us realize our true value.  Let us see ourselves as Your treasure and live our lives in such a way that others will see it too.

Friend, I truly believe that when we begin to see that we are a treasure, we will act differently.  And you know what…speaking from experience, now that my life has been changed by this truth, I have noticed that people do seem to value me more.  I’m not sure if it’s just my perspective or reality, but I truly believe that God’s transformed my life so miraculously that others around have taken notice.  My prayer is that this life changing revelation would transform them too, and I pray it will transform you!

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.


You are His treasure, His masterpiece for the world to see. Now go forth and do the good things He has planned for you. It will be an adventure, not always an easy one, but He will be with you always (Matthew 28:20). Believe His promises, rest in His truth, trust His ways.  I dare you!