April 28, 2017

Girls With Swords: Chapter 14 Weekly Review – “Cross Carry.”

Welcome to Campground USA

Log Cabins, Nature Trails, Canoes, Paddle Boats, Bikes, Fishing

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Once upon a time there were 5 girlfriends–Teresa, Jennifer, Tonya, Diane, and Martha–headed to a weekend retreat. They were riding down the road giggling so hard that their sides were splitting. Then all of a sudden, they saw a road sign up ahead that read: 

 You are now entering the Prince of Darkness Territory.

You are a Target!

Deciding that they would not allow fear to defeat them, they continued on their journey, and met up with 2 bu loads of women.  Previous plans were cancelled and all 150 plus women ended up camping at Campground USA studying Girls With Swords by Lisa Bevere.

What a time they have had!  Tonight was their last night together before heading back home.  I can’t wait to hear what my 4 girlfriends have to say about  the final chapter: Cross Carry.  Let’s head on down to the bonfire.

Teresa

Throughout our study of Girls With Swords, we have learned that we are Chosen, Equipped, and Armed.  This week, we have been COMMISSIONED to enter active service.  ‘Commissioned’ means: the act of granting certain powers or the authority to carry out a particular task or duty; a group of people officially authorized to perform certain duties or functions; in active service; authority to undertake or perform certain duties.

Preparation for Active Service

1.  Jesus gives The Great Commission:  “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, BAPTIZE them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  TEACH these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

2.  How to carry out this job?  “If anyone would COME after me, let him DENY himself and TAKE up his cross and FOLLOW me.”  (Matthew 16:24)

3.  What is OUR crossIt is our part of the Kingdom.  We each have a job that only we can do.   

Take up your cross, do your job, and be honored to lay your crown down at the feet of Jesus.

Jennifer 

Quoting Lisa:  “Jesus didn’t hold formal crusades, conferences, or even weekly services.  Yet every waking moment of his life was a message.  There is nothing wrong with these, but they are rarely part of our everyday lives.  Jesus carried God with Him every day, everywhere He went, and He is asking you to do the same.  Embracing all of what God has done for you and reflecting this new life to others can be likened to taking up the cross.  As we lay hold of this truth, we carry ourselves and see our world differently.”

How does each of our lives become a living message

  • It comes down to TRUST.
  • Will I let God use me, this fragile clay jar, in order to further the gospel message? 

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.  

(2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

Tonya

I have loved learning about the various crosses we are to carry, the true power we have as girls with swords, and the true power that those swords possess.  We are instructed to wield different kinds of swords, to possess different characteristics.  

I have asked, “How do I do this and do it the right way, Lord?”  Two words:  “Follow Him.”

Christ:

  1. Loved the people  (Matthew 4:23) 
  2. Forgave the people  (Matthew 9:2-8)
  3. Fed the people  (Acts 10:38)
  4. Redeemed the people  (Psalm 107:2)

As Lisa said:  “The Cross is our sign and you are His wonder.” 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Love.  Forgive.  Free.  Heal.  Redeem.  Encourage.

Diane

In Zechariah 9:13, God tells us He will make us like a warrior’s sword:  “From now on people are my swords.”

1.  A Sword

  • As God’s warrior swords we put Him on display each morning as we begin our day letting His love shine through our imperfect human flesh.
  • Quoting Lisa:  “Daughter of God, turn from your reflection, deny its limitations, and reflect Him.”

 2.   A Hero

  • Being a hero is getting rid of yourself, and filling up your life with Jesus.
  • When we let ourselves be God’s sword, we become His hero as well.
  • Being a hero has nothing to do with us, it has everything to do with what we let flourish inside of us:  Jesus
  • Quoting Lisa:  “Live like a hero, and you will strike a sure blow to the enemy, and the captives will be set free.”

Be sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life.  As He leads you, Satan will be cut by the living Sword you have let flourish.  Lost, lonely, hurting captives will be set free, and you will be nowhere to be found but living as a hero in Christ!

***************  

And so it was a night to end all nights around the campfire.  “Something” got a hold of everyone in that campground. 

  • Such singing like you never heard led by Coleen
  • A pink bedazzled sword group led by Diane marched around the bonfire as in the Jericho March
  • The prayer team of Coleen, Merol, and Mary laid hands on every single woman in attendance
  • Much scriptures were given by Mary, Clella, Colleen, Amy, and Kim
  • At midnight, Christi started preaching again

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Laurie started dancing around that bonfire.  To put it mildly, she danced, shall we say a Freedom Dance. She stopped long enough to say:  “Come on everybody, join in with me, and let’s dance!”

Oh, how I do love to worship the Lord, but I have got to tell you that, in public, I am a little conservative.  But, when I saw Laurie dancing, something moved in me, and I said to myself;  “I want that kind of freedom, too.”  And so I began to move out slowly at first, but then, it happened.  What came upon me next was not, shall we say, a little charismatic skip and hop, it was a warfare dance.  Bondages fell off me, and I felt like The Great Commission had now taken root and would become active in my life. 

And that’s the way our time together ended—worshipping the Lord, and dancing into the night.

 *****

Let’s Pray: 

Lord, how we thank You for this time of studying Your Word together.  We thank You for using Lisa Bevere in our lives to learn more about the sword You have given us to wear daily.  We pray Your blessings upon her as she travels around the globe ministering to the lost and hurting.  I close with:  May we all fulfill The Great Commission in our lives.  In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen!

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Now a word from our Founder, Christi Wilson:

Ladies, I pray this last study has been as much of a blessing to you, as it has been to us!  We have enjoyed learning from Lisa Bevere, and will continue to lift her in prayer, as we have each day of this study.

We hope you will join us for our next study that begins July 8th.  

Written by Teresa J Bolme, especially for Girlfriends Coffee Hour, “I AM” will be a study about discovering who the great I AM is, who you are in the great I AM, and what your eternal hope is in the great I AM!  This is an amazing study, and we are so excited to share it with you.  I want to personally thank Teresa for all the many hours she put into writing this study!  The Holy Spirit truly led her in the writing of this book, and we are very appreciative!  We feel very blessed to have such a talented person, as Teresa is, on our Leadership Team!  THANK YOU TERESA!

We will release the study next Wednesday, July 3rd.  You will be able to purchase it then with a donation to Girlfriends Coffee Hour, in ANY AMOUNT.  This helps us defray the ministry and website costs that we incur; as well as helping us provide Bibles to those who are in need of one.   

You are able to REGISTER TODAY, but will not be able to purchase the study until July 3rd.  Once you register, we will email you when the study is ready to purchase and download to your computer.  

Once again, thank you for joining us again in this “Girls With Swords” study.  May the good Lord bless you, and all that you put your hands to, in Jesus’ Name, AMEN

Girls with Swords: Chapter 14 – Living Swords (pgs 220-222)

page 222

 

I am back!  If you were wondering where I was the last two weeks, it was India.  I was working with young girls who have been rescued from human trafficking to put on a retreat for other young girls who have been rescued from brothels, where their mothers have been trafficked and are still currently living and working.  To say the trip was the most amazing experience I could have ever imagined it would be is a huge understatement.  God is good!  I am so glad to be back with you ladies for the last blog post of our study.  HUGE shout out to the amazing Kim Spring for filling in for me while I was away, thanks dear!

Of all of the things I have always thought of myself as, sword has never been one of those things.  In Zechariah 9:13 we find God telling us He will make us like a warrior’s sword.  I personally contend that this realization is a perfect way to end our study.  We are no longer just carrying God’s sword to church each Sunday, or meditating on God’s sword each Easter when His cross is displayed on stage.  God is carrying us, His swords, each day we follow Him in His will for our lives.  As God’s warrior swords we put Him on display each morning as we begin our day letting His love shine through our imperfect human flesh.

Daughter of God, turn from your reflection, deny its limitations, and reflect Him. (Page 221)

This is one of my favorite things Lisa tells us to do.  In our imperfect selves we sure do have limitations.  Thankfully though, we have a perfect Savior who gives us His strength to do all things (Philippians 4:13).   Stop looking at your reflection.  Start living your life how God intended it to be and I promise you, your eyes will be open to seeing Jesus’ love and beauty pouring through your soul.  This look is not just for you to see in the mirror, it is for the entire world you pass by for the rest of your life to see so they can see Jesus in you.

The last sentence of this book has hit me the hardest; I cannot read it without crying.  Live like a hero, and you will strike a sure blow to the enemy, and captives will be set free.  (Page 222)

Even more than a sword, I never ever thought of myself as a hero.  I feel uncomfortable with that sentence even as I type it.  We need to realize though what a hero is.  Being a hero is getting rid of yourself, and filling up your life with Jesus.  When we let ourselves be God’s sword, we become His hero as well.  Being a hero has nothing to do with us, it has everything to do with what we let flourish inside of us—Jesus!  When we are being God’s hero, we will not be found; only Jesus inside of us will be found for all the hurting to see.

While in India, it became time for me to share my talk with the girls.  It was about the weapons of our warfare.  After the talk, I decided to share my testimony with the girls.  This is something I did not want to do, but I was simply following the Holy Spirit’s lead to do so.  In that moment, I truly disappeared.  The Holy Spirit filled me, and what came out of my mouth was all Him…I was nowhere to be found.  As each of His words fell out of my mouth, the room became filled with His presence.  And GOD MOVED!!!  (If you would like to hear more about Diane’s trip to India, please join us on our next Girlfriends Coffee Hour Conference Call on July 16th.  Details will be posted soon on our Facebook Community page)

I share this because I want you to understand the importance of being sensitive to and being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life.  As He leads you, I promise you, Satan will be cut by the living Sword you have let flourish and lost, lonely, hurting captives will be set free, and you, my dear, will be nowhere to be found but living as a hero in Christ!

*****

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father,

I praise You, and thank You, Lord.  I have no words right now, only tears.  I know You know the words expressed in each and every one of my tears right now.  I pray that the women reading this today will be touched by Your mighty power.  I pray that whatever is holding us back from being a hero for You would be demolished.  Help us, Lord, to live as Your limitless sword and not a reflection of our limitations.  Lord, it doesn’t even feel right that You would give us the title of hero-but let us never forget that without “in Christ” after the word hero, we are nothing.  You are what makes the word ‘hero’ true in our lives.  Let us never ever keep You out of our lives.  Keep us out so You can fill up inside of us.  I pray all of these things with thanksgiving in Your Precious Holy Name.  Thank You, Jesus!

Girls with Swords: Chapter 14: Our Cross-Carry (pgs 214-220)

Going through this book I have loved the various crosses that we are to carry. I have loved learning of the true power that we have as girls with swords.  I have loved learning about the true power that those swords possess.  We are instructed to wield different kinds of swords, to possess different characteristics; and, yes, I have asked, “How, Lord? How do I do this and do it the right way?”

Two words:  “Follow Him.”

Jesus spoke the truth, fed the hungry, cast out demons, healed the sick, confronted religion, and raised the dead. He did this to show love, forgiveness, healing, freedom, and redemption.

Christ:

Loved the people

Matthew 4:23 (NKJV)

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.  

Forgave the people

Matthew 9:2-8  (NKJV)

Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”  And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”  But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said,“Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house.  Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men. 

Freed the people

Acts 10:38 (NKJV)

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 

 

Redeemed the people

Psalm 107:2 (NKJV)

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.

 

One of the things that stood out to me the most is the need for us to follow Him, for us to model our lives, words, actions, and thoughts after Him. Lisa said more than once that this generation, the world we live in today, needs these things more than ever. We need love and forgiveness, we need redemption and freedom. We need miracles, and we need signs and wonders. We need to follow Him in His actions, in His efforts to draw others closer to Him. We need to show that the Cross was the “ultimate display of His unconditional love for us” (pg. 214).

The Cross is our sign and you are His wonder.”  We were placed here to pick up our swords.  We were placed here to follow Him and to build the kingdom of Christ.

The final verse of this section touched my heart:

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NKJV)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Love. Forgive. Free. Heal. Redeem. Encourage.

FollowHim.jpg

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example You offer to us.  We see so much hurt and pain in our world.  We know that we have the sword and we know that we have the power, but how to use these sometimes escapes us.  Lord, remind us to follow You, remind us to model after Your example.  Most importantly remind us to love.  Through love so many other tasks can be accomplished.  As You instruct in Hebrews 10:23-25, let us stir up love, let us stir up good works, let us lift one another up.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Girls With Swords: Chapter 14 – “A Conversation About the Cross” (pgs. 210-214)

2Cor4_6

 

There is so much I can write about the Cross – what it is, what it represents, what it means to me personally, and what is has done in my life. But, I want to go a step further today. I am challenged by the author’s words at the bottom of page 213 and the top of page 214:

Jesus didn’t hold formal crusades, conferences, or even weekly services. Yet every waking moment of his life was a message. (There is nothing wrong with these, but they are rarely part of our everyday lives.) Jesus carried God with Him every day, everywhere He went, and He is asking you to do the same. Embracing all of what God has done for you and reflecting this new life to others can be likened to taking up the cross. As we lay hold of this truth, we carry ourselves and see our world differently.

When I first read this, I thought that there was no possible way that every waking moment of my life could be a message. I mean Jesus could do it, because, well—He’s Jesus! But, me? I’m just a frail, selfish, fallible human who does a lot of things wrong most of the time. Thankfully, God’s grace and His power see me though. He lifts me up when I fall; He redirects me when I stray off the path; and He shows me how to make my light shine to those around me who most need to see it.

So, how does each of our lives become a living message? It essentially comes down to all the all-important ingredient in our Christian walk: TRUST. Will I lay down my will for the will of my Father? Will I lay down my cross(es) (burdens, disappointments, hurts, pains, betrayals, past sins, unforgiveness, etc.) and let Him pick it up for me? Will I let God use me, this fragile clay jar, in order to further the gospel message?

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7, NLT)

God wants to use each of us to reach the lost and broken of this world with the message of hope and life that we know is found only through the Cross of Jesus Christ. We have a light shining in us that only He can provide. His Spirit is alive and active in us, and only works when we allow Him to work. The Lord knows we are fragile humans. He knows that we need Him and His power to get through each moment of the day. We are powerless on our own. Our lives were changed when we accepted Christ, believed in Him, and fully realized the significance of the Cross. We MUST live each day remembering this and helping others, as we are led, find their new life as well.

I will end us with the prayer Lisa writes at the end of this section:

Heavenly Father, may everything that the crucifixion of Your Son provided gain full expression in and through my life today. I choose to deny sin and my former limitations as I magnify Your work and follow You. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!

Have a Great Week!
Jennifer

Girls With Swords: Chapter 14 – “Cross Carry” (pgs 209-210)

As we come to the final section of our book, we find a new word:  COMMISSIONED.  I looked it up for us so we would know what we were talking about.

COMMISSIONED

  •     The act of granting certain powers or the authority to carry out a particular task or duty.
  •     A group of people officially authorized to perform certain duties or functions.
  •     In Active Service.
  •     Authority to undertake or perform certain duties.

There are a couple of very powerful words hidden in the definition of this word.  In the first point, someone has the authority to grant certain powers or authority to another person to enable them to carry out a task or duty.  In the second point, there are a group of people who have been assigned this authorization – they have been commissioned.  In the fourth point, being commissioned means someone has the authority to undertake or perform assigned duties.

BUT, in the third point, someone who is commissioned is IN ACTIVE SERVICE.  Someone is not authorized to be in passive service, or absent service, or ‘when you want to’ service.  If you are commissioned, you are in ACTIVE service.

Throughout our study of “Girls With Swords” we have learned that we are CHOSEN.  We have been EQUIPPED and ARMED.  In this final week we are learning what it means to be COMMISSIONED by our Commander to enter Active Service.  Look with me at the words of Jesus as He prepares the remaining eleven disciples for ACTIVE SERVICE in His Kingdom.

JESUS Gives The Great COMMISSION

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

Did you notice the action words in this passage?  Go, Baptize and Teach.  As commissioned disciples of Jesus, we have a JOB.  Jesus did not give us a job without teaching us how to carry out that job.  Look back at Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Again…more action words: Come, Deny, Take and Follow.

Jesus says “anyone” and that includes you and me.  We have the ability to accept His invitation to follow Him, to obey Him, to deny ourselves, and take up our cross.  Lisa says we each have a different cross because we are different people.  We each walk our own journey and need His help carrying our cross.

For us to be able to wear the King’s crown one day, we must learn to carry the cross.  Lisa says something pretty profound:

“We wear the crown, and we carry the cross.  Jesus bore our cross so we could wear his crown.  He became like us.  Isn’t it time we became like him?” (page 210)

So, what is OUR cross?  It is our part of the Kingdom.  We each have a job to do.  We are called into ACTIVE SERVICE because Jesus has the Authority to Commission us.  Jesus invites us to join Him in His work.  He has given us a job.  Will you participate actively?  Are you passive?  Are you still sitting on the bench waiting and watching other people carrying THEIR cross?

When I have a really big job to do, it bothers me to no end to see my kids sitting on the couch watching TV or painting their nails.  We all have a part to play in the proper function of our household.  If I am the only one working, I begin to have a bad attitude.  I imagine Jesus has felt the same way about us, don’t you?

Jesus has offered us the opportunity to come alongside Him and serve.  He has commissioned us Into Active Service.  We have a job that only we can do.  If you are sitting on the sidelines, someone else is doing your part and getting your blessing.  Your cross is not a ‘memorial’ or a symbol.  It is your active service to the KING.

Take up your cross, do your job, and be honored to lay your crown down at the feet of Jesus.  Let’s begin this last week together worshipping the King.  You have been chosen, equipped, trained, and commissioned.  Let’s make our Commander proud.

Let’s Pray:

Father God, King of Kings and LORD of our lives, we submit our will to You today.  Thank You for choosing us.  Thank You for Your care in training us and for Your belief in our ability to serve in Your Kingdom.  Thank You for Your Sword.  As we learn to use our Swords, we will be able to take up our cross daily and SERVE You.  We love You, Jesus.  You took our cross so that we might wear Your crown.  We lay our crowns at Your feet today.  We want to be ACTIVE warriors for You.   AMEN

Girls with Swords: Chapter 13 Weekly Review – “Sword of Forgiveness and Restoration” (Contest Included)

 Welcome to Campground USA

Log Cabins, Nature Trails, Canoes

Paddle Boats, Bikes, Fisher

_________________________________________

For the last few weeks, I have felt like a kid on Christmas morning as I unwrapped each gift God has literally placed in my hands.  He gave me a:

  • Sword of Harvest

  • Sword of Light

  • Sword of Song

  • Sword of Silence

  • Sword of Forgiveness and Restoration

My thanks to Lisa Bevere for helping me realize just how much God loves me.  Oh, you got the same bag of Swords?  Well, of course you did!  I feel a song coming on.  Sing it with me.

“Oh, how He loves you and me. Oh, how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give.
Oh how He loves you, Oh how He loves me, Oh how He loves you and me!”

But, He did give more.  Not only did He give His life for us, but He gave us a bag of swords to join with Him on the battleground in which the enemy rages war against us.

Let’s go on down to the bonfire, and learn more about this Sword of Forgiveness and Restoration from my four girlfriends.  And BTW, don’t be in such a hurry to leave the bonfire tonight.  It is Bible Sword Drill Time.  You don’t want to miss it.  You will see the quiz questions below this review.  Answer the questions to the best of your ability, without using your Bible.  Submit your questions; we will announce the winner on SUNDAY, June 23rd!  

_________

Teresa

The concept of “stooping beneath” someone else is seen as subservient and undesirable.  Pride is prized above personal relationships.  Grudges are held until the reason for the anger can no longer be remembered.  Stubbornness and pride are not virtues in God’s economy; humbleness and forgiveness are.

Quoting Lisa:

  • We have to be devoted to a greater cause than our individual rights and opinions.
  • Though we are entrusted with a Sword of the Spirit, we are not armed to harm.
  • We do not fight to tear down, but to build up.  The authority heaven lends to us on earth is to destroy evil by doing good.

Someone will eventually need to “stoop” to show love.  Make 1 Corinthians 13 your guide as you break down family curses.

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)

Jennifer

During a visit with her father, who was in a facility due to dementia, Lisa relates a story about God’s faithfulness. Lisa sensed that her father was fully cognizant of who she and her children were; and she prayed asking God what she should say. Here is the exchange:

  • Heavenly Father, what should I say?”
  • The response was:  “Tell him he was a good dad.”
  • I countered, “That’s a lie! I am not going to lie to himespecially not now! He was not a good father.”
  • I heard a firm assurance: “He was as good as he knew how to be.”

If you are nurturing hurt from a broken relationship and God is prompting you to move toward restoration, listen to what He has to say and then act.  His timing is always perfect and He knows just what we need to say and do every time.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.  (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Tonya  

As a Bereavement Counselor I have seen unforgiveness

  • lead to children not visiting their parent as they die
  • breed words of hurt and hate, open wounds that were thought closed, and cause those wounds to go unhealedopportunities gone.

I have also seen forgiveness

  • build bridges, heal hearts, create new beginnings, new opportunities relationships restored and mended.

We don’t know what will happen after we pick up that sword of forgiveness and carry it with us on our journey. But what we do know is after we forgive, after we lay the issue at God’s feet and allow love to fill the space where the unforgiveness lived, that God will take over.  He will fulfill the promises He made regarding relationships before they were even formed.

Forgiveness – -whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

Kim

What is your story, dear friend?

  • Do you have deep wounds that still need healing?
  • Perhaps you have overcome and you are in a good place, but someone in your family is struggling and you are just at your end with it. The ripple effect is reaching everyone including your children.
  • Did your daddy love you and tell you how beautiful you were, or are you still begging for his attention?
  • Was your childhood stolen by someone who had no right to do so?
  • Maybe something happened in your life as an adult and you’re ashamed of the way you dealt with it.

Your story is full of opportunities to help someone else struggling. Only when we have let go of resentment and forgive can we be free.  As Lisa said:  “How might God use you as an agent of restoration?”

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others when they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  (2 Corinthians 1:4)

***********

Let’s Pray:  

Father God, we are so thankful that You gave Your life for us so that we might have a home in heaven with You.  But, we are also so thankful that You did not leave us stranded as the enemy tries to wage war against us here on this earth.  Help us look to You for guidance as to how and when to use the Sword You have given us.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

 

 DON’T LEAVE YET!!  IT’S QUIZ TIME!!

 

QUIZ TIME

 

Girls with Swords: Chapter 13 – Sword of Forgiveness & Restoration: What’s Your Story? (pgs. 205-206)

2Cor1_4

If you could see the underside of your life, you would see God your Father all over the details. He wrote your story. What is your story, dear friend? Do you have deep wounds that still need healing? Or perhaps you have overcome and you are in a good place, but someone in your family is struggling and you are just at your end with it. The ripple effect is reaching everyone including your children. How can you do this any longer? I don’t know your story. I don’t know what your childhood was like.

If your daddy loved you and told you how beautiful you are or if you are still begging for his attention; or maybe your childhood was stolen by someone who had no right to it. Maybe you had life happen to you as an adult and you’re ashamed of the way you dealt with it. Oh dear one, there is One who knows all and He came to take your shame away, to redeem and restore; release you from all that’s past and give you a future full of possibilities. Your story is full of opportunities to help someone else struggling.

We are given so many opportunities as His followers to step out and share the hope that we have in Him. One by one, story by story, lives are transformed and families restored…the list goes on and on. Hope is passed on when we walk in obedience; when we speak His words of restoration.

There’s a saying that goes: “Hurt people hurt people.”  Oh how true this is! But let me encourage you to try something if you are that hurting person. Instead of lashing out at a grumpy cashier, or anyone else giving you a bad attitude, show compassion. We don’t know their story of why they are acting the way they are. We are called to be His hands and feet in this lost world. Lisa asks us if we have any daggers of disappointment or bitterness that might threaten to misdirect a sword at hand. If so, we must willingly lay them down (pg 205).

Only when we have let go of resentment and forgive can we be free. As stated on page 206, “How might God use YOU as an agent of restoration?”

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Let’s Pray:

Dear God, my Daddy in Heaven, I surrender all. I lay it at Your feet. I trust You will guide each one of us and direct our steps as we step out into a hurting world and speak Your words of restoration and healing to others. Give each one of us the courage to be bold and use this story You have given us to encourage and give strength to one another as we travel together. I pray we choose to always say ‘yes!’ to You. We love You and we praise You and worship You with our whole being. We release our hurts and resentments. We release those who hurt us so that we may be whole to serve You wholly.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Girls with Swords: Chapter 13 – “The Sword of Forgiveness” (pgs. 200-205)

Working as a hospice Bereavement Counselor, I have heard and seen stories like Lisa’s numerous times. These stories do not cease to touch my heart. But I have seen stories of forgiveness have two different outcomes as well.

There are two decisions that can be made in a situation such as the one depicted in this chapter.

1.  Forgive 
2.  Don’t forgive

As a Bereavement Counselor I have the opportunity to speak with some of the most interesting individuals I have ever met. Our patients have lived full lives, raised families, and created legacies. When working with our patients and their families all too often we are faced with issues of unforgiveness—either on the side of the patient or on the side of their family.  I have seen unforgiveness lead to children not visiting their parent as they die. I have seen unforgiveness breed words of hurt and hate; open wounds that were thought closed; and cause those wounds to go unhealed…opportunities gone.

I have also seen forgiveness build bridges, heal hearts, and create new beginnings and new opportunities. Relationships restored and mended. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing!  It is a beautiful gift that we are given by God to have relationships with others after our flesh and the world has tried to corrupt them.

Forgiveness is the remission of sins.
For it is by this that what has been lost,
and was found, is saved from being lost again.

–Augustine (pg.205)

Lisa questions how forgiveness impacted her father that night she went to go see him, she doesn’t know exactly what happened, what he was thinking? But, she did know that God moved that night. Her willingness to forgive, her willingness to pick up that sword and walk forward with God by her side made a difference in her father’s life. It made a difference in her life and it made a difference in the life of the social worker who cared for her dad. She didn’t know what forgiving her father would do but she knew that it was something that needed to be done.

We don’t know what events will follow after we choose to say ‘yes‘ to God, we don’t know what will happen after we pick up that sword of forgiveness and carry it with us on our journey. We don’t know what will happen after we forgive that mother, that father, the brother, sister, friend, whomever it may be. But what we do know is after we forgive, after we lay the issue at God’s feet and allow love to fill the space where the unforgiveness lived, that God will take over, He will fulfill the promises He made regarding those relationships before they were even formed.

Lisa’s forgiveness of her father and his actions was a gift—a gift to her father and a gift to herself. Like Lisa said in this section “God is faithful.”  We are to forgive, and He will handle the rest.

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Forgiveness is at times made to seem to sound so easy; but, Lord, You know that it can be hard. Lord, it takes faith and strength and trust in You.  Stories like Lisa’s are beautiful and heartwarming. Please touch the hearts and lives of the women here who are dealing with the issue of forgiveness.  Please soften our hearts and give us the strength to lay the pain at Your feet, the strength to pick up our sword of forgiveness and walk forward with You by our side.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Girls with Swords: Chapter 13 – “Sword of Forgiveness and Restoration” (pgs. 198-200)

God knows every one of us. He knows our past, our present, and our future. There is nothing that we can keep from Him: no secrets, no heartaches, no fears, no doubts, no lies. He is sovereign over all. We will never understand His ways because we cannot see what He sees. We cannot see into the hearts and minds of those around us. Our only job is to follow His leading… however difficult it may be.

The author’s story about her father is heart-wrenching. In our short section today, there is much to chew on, though. Up to this point, we have learned that this man may not have been the best father. He suffered with an alcohol problem, was dismissive of his family, and generally showed a lack of caring. Do we know what was causing all of these issues? No, but God does. He knows every detail of her father’s life. He knows his struggle, his pain, his heartache.

Plus, God knows what it will take to move the relationship forward.

During a visit with her father, who was in a facility due to dementia, the author relates a story about God’s faithfulness. Lisa sensed that her father was fully cognizant of who she and her children were and prayed, asking God what she should say. Here is the exchange:

“I lifted a silent prayer: Heavenly Father, what should I say?

The response was shocking and immediate: Tell him he was a good dad.

What? Stunned, I countered, That’s a lie! I am not going to lie to him…especially not now! He was not a good father.

I heard a firm assurance: He was as good as he knew how to be.”  (pg. 199)

Isn’t that the way of God? He tells us what to do, but His answers are often not the answers we want to hear. The things He makes us do are difficult and painful sometimes. Forgiveness is extraordinarily difficult, especially when we have been severely hurt by another person.

Yet … God knows how to mend those broken relationships. He is the Ultimate Healer and Fixer. His timing is always perfect and He knows just what we need to say and do every time. It may not make any sense to us, but to God, it makes all the sense in the world.

Can you imagine if the author did not heed God’s leading and speak those words to her father? We cannot spend another day living in regret of what we should have said or done. If you are nurturing hurt from a broken relationship and God is prompting you to move toward restoration, listen to what He has to say and then act. His timing is perfect and His plans are always good. He will not lead you astray. Holding on to those feelings of resentment and anger will only inhibit your relationship with the Lord. Release them. Release the person. Let God work it out. He wants to..you just need to let Him.

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Let’s Pray: Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for supernatural strength and boldness to take a step of faith in our broken relationships today. Help us, Lord, to move toward healing and restoration. Give us a heart of love and peace. Show us how to focus on the hope we have in You rather than on our bitterness and anger. We thank you in advance for this provision, Father. Amen.

Girls with Swords: Chapter 13 – “Sword of Forgiveness and Restoration” (pgs 191-198)

There is a cultural, learned pattern in our home the last several years which has been terribly hard to correct.  The concept of “stooping beneath” someone else is seen as subservient and undesirable.  Pride is prized above personal relationships.  Grudges are held until the reason for the anger can no longer be remembered.  Stubbornness and pride are not virtues in God’s economy; humbleness and forgiveness are.

My Bible tells me that All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  None of us will get out of this life without making a mistake, hurting someone, needing to ask forgiveness— and through grace and mercy—be restored to a right relationship with the one you hurt.  We have only one life to live, so we should learn to live it well.  We need to realize our faults and failures before we hold the faults and failures of others up for all to see.

If we consider another person’s feelings above our own, we will not find ourselves with the “wrong motives” Lisa talks about on page 192.  It is one thing to be ‘against’ something, but what are we really “FOR?”  We have to be devoted to a greater cause than our individual rights and opinions.  Lisa says, “Though we are entrusted with a sword of the Spirit, we are not armed to harm.”  The Spirit within us will not strike out to harm another person.

The purpose of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to lead, guide, and direct us on the path of right living.  The Spirit will reveal the areas in our lives needing to be cut away and pruned so that we may continue to grow in the Lord.  Cultivate a soft heart so the work of the Spirit will be quick and less painful.  A tender, caring heart is a vessel the Lord can use.

I was stunned at the anger in the heart of a loved one the first time I heard the term “stoop beneath” used.  There was hurt and bitterness.  Even after hearing the one-sided details of the story she was angry about, I knew there had been wrong on both sides.  Neither party was willing to “stoop” to offer an apology or forgiveness.  A record of wrongs was being kept and that pattern was taught in the home for many generations.  We are still struggling to break down these generational “curses” with unconditional love.  The Bible will lead us to a right definition of LOVE in 1 Corinthians 13.  Make it your guide as you break down these family curses.

Lisa shares with us, “We do not fight to tear down but to build up.  The authority heaven lends to us on earth is to destroy evil by doing good.  Just because I have walked with the sword of God’s Word on my hip for more than three decades doesn’t mean I have always worn it well” (pg. 192).  When we lift our weapon in anger we leave a wound that needs to heal.  Without the soothing balm of forgiveness, the wounds begin to fester and leave scars.  Be quick to ask for forgiveness, grant forgiveness, and begin to restore the damaged relationship.

After the lessons on keeping silent last week, it is only fitting that we focus on WHEN we should speak, HOW we should speak, and for WHAT purpose we should speak.  In 1 Peter 4:11 we find this bit of wisdom, If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.  If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and power for ever and ever.  AMEN.”

The story Lisa shared about the relationship with her own father struck a chord in my heart.  I was emotionally abandoned by my father and I replaced him with God when I was twelve.  The new girls in our home were neglected and abandoned by their father and my husband has taken them in.  I totally related to the feeling of abandonmentand then of JOY at realizing my God was my Father and He would not leave me or forsake me.

In our family we are all adopted by each other.  We choose to be a family and love each other.  Our story gets told over and over, but we are still hard for some people to understand.  When Lisa shared that God spoke so vividly to her that the rejection by her father was an overwhelming ADOPTION by her Heavenly Father I totally understood.  It was at that moment that I released my earthly father from his “duties.”  I began to rely on my Heavenly Father for nurturing and support.

Like Lisa, I find comfort in the words of Psalms 45:10-11

“Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:

Forget your people and your father’s house,

And the king will desire your beauty.

Since he is your lord, bow to him”

Our earthly families are fallible.  Our earthly families can hurt us and we can hurt them.  We MUST show love like our Heavenly Father and offer forgiveness and restoration wherever possible.  Where stubbornness and pride live and flourish, Satan rules.  Do not give him a foothold in your life.  Keep your heart tender and soft, eager to forgive and be forgiven.  We are here to serve each other.  Someone will eventually need to “stoop” to show love.

I pray there are more great examples of fathers out there than neglectful ones.  We have a choice to show love like our Heavenly Father whether we had a good earthly example or not.  Choose today to reflect your Father.  It’s worth it.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your faithful love.  Thank You for seeing the beauty in my life and leading me in Your ways.  I thank You for my earthly father, because through him, I see You more clearly.  Today I choose to love others the way You love me.  AMEN