Archive for June, 2008

‘Father to the Fatherless’: God Can Heal Your Childhood Wounds

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

“… to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)

Elaine knew evil. She experienced it. She lived in terror of it.

Personifying evil was her corrupt father. A man known in the community to associate with “bad company,” in fact, he was the head guy of his gang. His lust for crime, corruption, control and violence worsened with each passing day. His behavior at home was the same as it was with his gang. Elaine’s father physically and emotionally wounded his wife, children, and anyone in his way. Because of him, everyone called her “child of evil.”

Elaine’s words attest to her vehement disgust with her father’s evil ways: “My deepest fear was that I would grow up to be like my dad. When he beat me, I hoped he would kill me. Being dead would be better than growing up to be like him.”

Elaine felt like two persons. One person was unwillingly dragged into the horror-filled world she could inherit because of her father. The other met Jesus at Vacation Bible School, memorized John 3:16, and learned to sing “Jesus Loves Me.”

The Battle for Identity

What Elaine experienced is called spiritual warfare.

On the battlefield of your heart, Satan and his agents constantly confront Jesus for domination of your soul. Evil principalities want you to be a prisoner of your past and your identity in Christ unclaimed.

Elaine knows. Years after her father’s death, Elaine discovered the battle was still raging when she became engaged to marry Jack, a pre-med student and a man dedicated to Christ. In pre-marital counseling, the pastor uncovered her deep emotional scars and fears.

“Pastor, I’m afraid I will become like my father who was cruel and corrupt,” Elaine said. “I don’t want to be the ‘child of evil.?'”

The pastor referred her to John 1:12-13 (above) and said, “The moment you accepted Jesus as your Savior, you became a permanent member of God’s family. You are no longer the same person. You are not a child of evil, but a child of God.”

After years of counseling and Bible study, Elaine began to see herself as God sees her. “Each time Satan would try to tell me I was doomed because of my father,” says Elaine, “I would reread who my Heavenly Father says I am.”

Discarding False Identities

Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3) Jesus did not speak of a physical birth resulting from human flesh, but of a rebirth from God through the Holy Spirit.

When we follow Jesus, we experience rebirth. Simultaneously, we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to live in us, making his temple in our bodies.

Today — and every day — is a new beginning for followers of Christ. We deliberately, consciously remind ourselves that our past identities are just that, history. We have new identities. We’re born of God. We’re fully adopted with all the benefits of his naturally born child. Through God’s mercy we call him “Abba, Father,” or “Daddy.” We can also expect to share in the inheritance of his only begotten son, Jesus.

The Holy Spirit transforms our nature into that of Christ’s. We will, over time, see evidence in our lifestyles. Patience, gentleness, kindness, love become a natural part of our life. Daily our entire spiritual selves become more like Christ’s.

As we grow in God, we develop a new self-image. The old self-image — filled with negative impressions and difficult life experiences — disappears forever. Self-destructive behaviors — alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, promiscuity, poor health habits, negative attitudes, and threats of suicide — fade away as we surrender our old self to the Lord.

Growth in Christ is a lifelong transition. Many individuals who have personally survived traumatic experiences and/or marred childhoods feel change takes too long. The assumption is that if God is involved, the process will be instantaneous, magical, and not too messy. Deep healing — supernatural change — may take years of struggle, trial and error, learning, and growing in strength to make the next significant move of faith.

Every Christian alive is a work-in-progress, each with a unique growth and change process. This process will continue for all of us until we are standing face-to-face with Jesus himself. It continues until our Father welcomes us home with a greeting of “my child.”

CoatesJan Coates is the founder and president of www.setfreetoday.com, a ministry where you can come as you are and leave with a new beginning. A sought after speaker and popular author, Jan?s contagious passion for the Lord is felt in every word she shares. She is on a mission is to energize audiences with truth and freedom. For more information, please email her at jan@jancoates.com or visit www.jancoates.com

MontgomeryRebekah Montgomery, author/speaker/teacher, is a gifted, dynamic communicator. She is the author of more than seven books and has penned 1,100 articles. She shares tough real-life topics and biblical application in a simple easy to grasp manner. To book Rebekah for your next event visit http://www.rebekahmontgomery.com. Rebekah is also the executive director of Set Free Today ministry.

Feeling Betrayed?

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Feeling betrayed?

Having trouble with your friends and family?

Does it seem that no one understands?

I do. I really do.

My financial advisor sold me to my enemies — cheaply, too.

But My blood bought your freedom from your enemy — Satan.

My closest friends slept while I wept.

Which is why I’ll never leave you or forsake you.

I was loathed and distraught

— but I didn’t complain because I wanted to win your love.

My soul was overwhelmed to the point of death

So you’ll never be tempted by more than you can handle.

I asked my Father if there was another way —

rather than by Me dying by crucifixion — to pay off your debts.

There wasn’t. So I did.

Was all My pain worth it?

That all depends upon you.

Need a friend that sticks closer than a brother?

I’m volunteering.

Love,

Jesus

P. S. Rebekah Montgomery paraphrased this for you from in various places throughout the Old and New Testaments. Read an account of My love for you in Matthew 26.

Montgomery
Copyright 2008 by Rebekah Montgomery

Rebekah Montgomery, author/speaker/teacher, is a gifted, dynamic communicator. She is the author of more than five books and has penned 1,100 articles. She shares tough real-life topics and biblical application in a simple easy to grasp manner. To book Rebekah for your next event visit http://www.rebekahmontgomery.comRebekah is also the editor of Right to the Heart of Women and a publisher at Jubilant Press .

God is Not Our Puppet

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

“But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Isaiah 64:8 King James Version

I receive a lot of emails from people who tell me that God did not do what they told Him to do. Somehow we have got the roles reversed. We are the clay, and God is our potter. He is not the clay; He is the potter. He is also not a name it, claim it God. We don’t have any right to tell Him what to do. Our Heavenly Father is a Holy God and we are to treat Him with respect.

In fact, we shouldn’t ask Him for anything unless our hearts are in right standing with Him. The first thing that we should do when we pray is to ask Him to please forgive us for failing Him and hurting Him, and all of us fail Him and hurt Him. We also should understand that it is a privilege to be able to go to Him in prayer. It is only through the precious blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross that we can go to Him.

It is time that we stop telling God what we want Him to do. We need to humble ourselves and go to Him with broken hearts and cry out for His mercy, grace and forgiveness. We should thank Him for all that He has done for us and for all that He continues to do for us every day.

Are you going to our Heavenly Father and demanding that He do something for you? If so, you need to be careful. Humble yourself and cry out to Him for mercy, grace and forgiveness. Remember, He loves you so much that He sent His beloved Son into the world to die for you. How can you tell Him to do more for you than He has already done for you? It is okay to ask Him for things but we must do it with humble hearts. Start thanking Him and praising Him for what He has already done for you.

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

$5 Fine for Whining

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

The rustic wooden sign read: “$5 FINE FOR WHINING.”

It didn’t matter to me that the white-painted lettering was a little crooked or that the leather strap to hang it on the wall was a bit worn. I bought it anyway.

I purchased this sign at a horse show while holding my then six-year-old daughter’s hand. As she read the sign she whined, “Where am I going to get $5?”

Eleven years later, this ole’ sign still hangs in my laundry room. I’m reminded of it today. One, because it’s Monday and I’m getting the weekend laundry caught up. And two, I’ve been whining a lot lately. Really. Just ask my daughter.

Hindsight is great, isn’t it? I’ve decided that I’m 200% great until I get out of bed. Then, look out. This past month or so, I’ve complained about the weather, grumbled about my writing deadlines, moaned about the weeds in my flower garden. In other words, if I were to pay my whining debt at $5 a pop, I’d need to get a better paying job or use my credit card.

But ain’t it great? God doesn’t charge us for whining and complaining. He doesn’t keep tabs either. So we don’t have to open the wallets or write a blank check. Here’s what the Bible instructs us to do:

“But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you” (Ephesians 4:20-24/The Message).

Today is a new day. Today, right this very moment, we can start over. We can trade our stinky, whiny attitudes for an attitude of gratitude. We can learn to wake up in the morning and thank God for what He is doing and will continue to do in our lives. As we continue to grow from the inside out—at work, at home, and even while doing laundry—we can find something positive in the situation and allow the character of Christ to shine through us.

Back to my laundry room, thanking God I have clothes to wash.

Coates
Jan Coates is an author, speaker, consultant, founder of Set Free Today and serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery®.

Light in the Darkness

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9: 2 King James Version

I think if we will be honest with ourselves there have been times in all of our lives when we have walked in the darkness of criticism, sarcasm, despair, discouragement, heartaches, heavy burdens, loneliness, fears and doubts. Then Jesus, who is the light of the world, lifted us out of the darkness into the light of His unconditional love and understanding. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8: 12).

Joyce Landorf Heatherley, a well known author and speaker, said on one of her teaching tapes “Someone once said to me “This is a long tunnel. I can’t see the end of the tunnel. I don’t think there is an end”. Jesus, You are indeed the light of the world. You are also the light of hope, happiness, joy and peace. When everything looks dark and we can’t see the end of the tunnel, it is then that You shine Your light of love into our hearts. Thank You for loving us so much that You care when we are hurting.

If you feel like you are in a long tunnel and you can’t see the end because of the darkness of despair and hurt in your heart, reach out and take the hand of our precious Saviour. He is waiting for you to come to Him. He longs to comfort and encourage you. He loves you very much. He died on the cross for you so that you may have eternal life and live with Him forever. Run as fast as you can into His waiting arms and allow Him to comfort you as only He can.

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Trust in Your Heart?

Monday, June 9th, 2008

He who trusts his own heart is a fool.
(Proverbs 28:26-paraphrase)

I was talking with a young friend about studying the Scripture. She was resistant to using study guides or commentaries. “I want to discover the truth for myself. I don’t want to believe what anyone else says is truth. I want to follow my heart,” she said, “like Ariel in Little Mermaid.”

The Little Mermaid is a Disney retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale. Andersen’s story ends in heartbreak and disaster for the mermaid. In Disney’s, of course, everyone lives happily ever after.

Red warning lights flashed. “The Holy Spirit can and will lead you to truth,” I told her. “But the Bible is clear on the matter of following your heart: Your heart will deceive you. It is desperately wicked and unknowable.”

She was stunned. “I thought the Bible would tell us to follow our hearts,” she protested.

“No,” I said. “The Bible and Disney do not agree on the origin of Truth. The Bible tells us to follow God’s leading whether or not our heart agrees. It says that God is Absolute Truth and our heart is an absolute liar.”

My young friend is not alone is her misconceptions. We have forgotten that it is our soul, or heart, that is in need of salvation and transformation. Instead, we listen to it and are foolishly led astray. Some would consider it insulting, but recognition of this fact is the basis for salvation:

Today, O Spirit of Truth, let me hear and listen to You. Let me march to the beating of Your heart.

Montgomery
Copyright 2008 by Rebekah Montgomery

Rebekah Montgomery, author/speaker/teacher, is a gifted, dynamic communicator. She is the author of more than five books and has penned 1,100 articles. She shares tough real-life topics and biblical application in a simple easy to grasp manner. To book Rebekah for your next event visit http://www.rebekahmontgomery.comRebekah is also the editor of Right to the Heart of Women and a publisher at Jubilant Press .

It’s All About Grace

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:8-10).

The older I get, the more I am amazed by grace. I am also amazed at how easily we begin to cheapen and take that grace for granted when we fail to spend time with the Father, communing with Him and drawing closer to His great heart. For the more I know of Him, the more I recognize my unworthiness to be in His presence or to hear Him call me “daughter” and the more I recognize my need for grace.

And that, of course, is what God requires of us: relationship with Him. If we claim to have relationship with Him but fail to spend time in His presence, well, maybe it’s time for a heart check to see if we really are born again. Do our hearts yearn to be in His presence? Do we miss Him when we’re away? Do we long to please Him and do His will, to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” not because we’ve done anything so wonderful but because He has allowed us to partner with Him and serve in His name?

As a believer of more than three decades, I tend to find my greatest temptation is to rationalize neglecting time spent WITH God by instead trying to do things FOR God. Busyness. It’s a curse, isn’t it? And I?m not just talking about the necessary things we do each day in relation to family or jobs, but rather, things like going to church or Sunday school or Bible study; witnessing to others; organizing or serving at church functions. Sure, those are good things, and I should hope that as born-again believers, we are involved in those necessary works. But why are we doing them? Because we’ve somehow slipped into the cult mentality that it can help us earn our way into heaven? or because we are so grateful to Jesus for already paying the price for our admission to heaven that we now want nothing more than to love and serve Him?

When asked to identify the greatest commandments, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37, 39). Out of love, God saved and redeemed us and has promised that if we are born again, we will spend eternity with Him. He has already accomplished everything that needs to be done to assure the fulfillment of that promise. That’s grace. When we make that grace our own through faith in the sacrifice of God’s only Son, then out of love for God and others, we begin to walk in those “good works” that God has prepared for us to do.

It’s all about grace, folks; all about Him and what He has already done for us. Out of love and gratitude, may we walk in the good works He has called us to today; not to earn anything but because He has already given us everything.

Copyright 2008 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored seventeen books. Her newest book “Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World” (New Hope Publishers) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Emotional Surgery

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” Psalm 61:1-3 King James Version

A friend of mine had to have both of her knees replaced because she was in extreme pain when she walked. Her husband told me that she could barely walk across the room. After she had her knees replaced, she was in a lot of pain while she was recovering from surgery. As I was thinking about her yesterday morning, the thought came to me that just as we need surgery when we are hurting physically, so we have to have emotional surgery when our hearts can’t take any more pain.

My friend’s doctor did the surgery, but her doctor or any other doctor couldn’t operate on a person’s heart that is broken and filled with despair and repair it. Sometimes our hearts are so broken and so crippled with the lack of self esteem, and have become so full of depression, discouragement, fears, loneliness, confusion and doubts from years of emotional pain that we are literally unable to get out of bed. Only the great Physician, our precious Saviour, can repair a heart that is shattered into little pieces and lifeless.

When Jesus in His great compassion and mercy, lovingly and tenderly removed the years of emotional pain from my heart, it felt as if someone had removed a heavy boulder from off of my heart. However, just as my friend had pain while she was recovering from her surgery, I also had pain when Jesus started working on my heart. I had to let go of all of the bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness and hatred that I had in my heart for the ones who had hurt me.

It wasn’t easy for me to do that and in my own strength I could never have done it but the more I fell in love with Jesus, the easier it was for me to forgive the people that had said so many cruel things to me over the years. One day God took me out to His woodshed and spoke to my heart. If you have ever been in His woodshed then you know that it is painful. He said to me “Don’t ask Me to forgive you if you aren’t willing to forgive the ones who have hurt you. It is true that you have been hurt a lot but you have also hurt your family and your friends. Don’t dwell on your past. Live for today. I can’t forgive you if you won’t forgive the ones who have hurt you.”

I think sometimes we bring a lot of pain on ourselves that we wouldn’t have if we would only learn to forgive from our hearts. I read someplace, I don’t remember where, “When you don’t forgive people, you aren’t hurting them because they could care less. You are only hurting yourself”. The most important thing that we need to understand is that when we don’t forgive people, we bring disgrace on the precious name of Jesus and hurt Him.

We read in the Bible “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25: 40). Are you hurting Jesus because you won’t forgive the people who have hurt you?

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

God’s Printer

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Revelation 20:12 King James Version

Imagine that God has a printer sitting on a big desk and at the end of every day He prints out a sheet of paper for every person in the world. On one side of the paper, He lists all of the kind things we have done and all of the kind and loving words we have said to people. On the other side of the paper, He lists all of the unkind things we have done and all of the criticizing remarks and unkind words we have said to people.

I wonder what side of the paper we would be on at the end of the day? For us to be on the side of the paper that brings joy to the heart of Jesus and lists all of the kind and loving things and words we have done and said to people, we must allow Him to constantly search our hearts and remove the things that bring shame and disgrace to Him. There are many times we allow satan to put resentment, bitterness, jealousy, hatred, criticism, sarcasm and unforgiveness in our hearts and we hurt Jesus and bring shame to His name.

When God prints out your sheet of paper at the end of the day, what side of the paper will you be on? Will you be on the side that makes Him happy or will you be on the side that hurts Him and brings disgrace to His name and makes Him sad? One day we will be judged out of the book of life. Will you be able to look Him in the eye or will you have to hang your head in shame because of the unkind words you said to people and the unkind things you did to people?

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org