June 29, 2017

Glorious Living w/ Coach Megan: Praising God…Even in the Hard Times

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More and more it seems that suffering and hurt are prevalent everywhere we look.  Maybe you have recently lost your job or you are living with a chronic illness….  Maybe you are grieving a loss or have recently been handed a major disappointment.  If you are hurting right now while reading this, know that your tender, loving Father has His arms open and He is always ready to hold you if you just let Him.  Many people who are hurting today are cursing God and some believers have abandoned God.  They did not have Christ as their solid foundation.  It is so important to have a strong faith through the best of times so when the winds blow, we will not be moved.  Trials and hard times come for a reason and that is to grow closer to our Father.  So, how can we praise Him during the darkest hours?  Let us look at scripture for some clear examples.

Remembering Christ 

2 Timothy 2:8-9 says, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal.  But the word of God is not bound!”   Remembrance of Christ and His death at Golgotha needs to be the centerpiece through which we praise God in the hard times.  When we suffer, we can remember that He suffered, and His suffering gave us freedom!  This is one reason some leave the faith…they forgot what even brought them into God’s loving hand.  Praise be to God, our Almighty King, that gave us the final sacrifice to atone for our sins!

Trials and hard times come for a reason and that is to grow us ever closer to our Heavenly Father.

Prayer 

Every time we connect with God in prayer, we are praising Him because we are acknowledging our need to set our burdens on His strong shoulders.  Isaiah 25:4a says, “For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”  These are things we can praise Him for while we are praying!  He takes care of His children!  Even in the darkest part of the storm, He is there as a stronghold to keep us standing against the crashing waves and raging winds.  A woman on her knees in prayer can stand before any tragedy.

Through Song

When you read Psalms, you can find so many verses about God’s children singing praise even in the midst of hard times.  David writes in Psalm 142:4b-7, “No one cares for my soul.  I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “you are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”  Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!  Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!  Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!  The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.”  This particular psalm was a written prayer, but it could just as well be sung.  So many songs today are written straight from the Psalms.  One particular song that has always touched my heart on this issue of hard times and suffering is “There Will be a Day” by Jeremy Camp.  This song always brings tears to my eyes as it offers so much hope!  What songs speak to your heart as you praise your Father?

Time in the Word 

Anything that we do as Christians that focuses our time on God brings Him glory and praise.  When we look to His word for healing and guidance, we again are telling God that we need Him and we praise Him for His sovereign nature in all circumstances.  In Hebrews 4:15-16 it says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  This is a passage of love that speaks to all who are hurting.  Jesus was tempted in every way so we can be completely firm in our belief in Him.  My fellow sisters, write these verses on your hearts.  We can have confidence in our Father in all circumstances.  Stay in the word!  It can heal the brokenhearted.

Fasting

Fasting is an outlet that provides a spiritual and physical reliance on God.  Fasting is not set on any particular facet.  Many people fast from food for an extended amount of time, but fasting really involves giving up anything that means a lot to you in order to spend time with God instead.  This is a precious way to praise Him!  When you fast you stop “me” and focus on Him.  He has sustained me every time I have fasted.  The spiritual bond always grows with fasting because God is feeding that bond as you rely on Him…and you are creating the space He so desperately needs to move!

Forgiveness 

Forgiveness always reflects praise on the Father.  We forgive out of obedience to Christ.  We forgive because it is always the right thing to do.  There is real spiritual maturity and growth when we can look at specific people who have wronged us personally and forgive them.  This is because sin always comes from the devil and not from the individuals themselves.  There is massive spiritual warfare fighting for us every day.  Satan’s legion of demons are always hunting.  It is our job as believers to always forgive those who trespass against us.  The true fault is always against the devil and his wicked schemes.  Even Christ on the cross asked His Father to forgive those crucifying Him (Luke 23:34).  May we all strive to be like that!  Praise be to our Sustainer in all circumstances!  The next time you are having trouble with another person, remember that your battle is NOT with them and it is not of the flesh….  Your battle is a spiritual one and your Mighty Creator is BIG enough to guide you and sustain you to forgive.

I would love to hear all about how YOU show God praise through the hard times!  Please leave me a comment below all about how He is your Sustainer and Redeemer!

Blessings,

Coach Megan 🙂

In God Whom I Trust

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He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD,
‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’ 
Psalms 91:1-2

Jesus is perfect!  He’s our example! He has complete dependence on God!  He trusts God!  He came to earth to do the will of the Father.

In Matthew 26, Jesus prayed for God’s will, knowing that He, Jesus, would die very soon on the Cross for the sins of the people of this world.  Three times in the garden of Gethsemane, He prayed a prayer like this, requesting God’s will to be done:

 ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.
Yet not as I will, but as you will.’
Matthew 26:39

Thank You, Jesus, for being our perfect example of following God’s will, even to the point of sacrifice and death.

My heart turns to shine a lesser light on a hero of faith—Corrie ten Boom.  After being a prisoner in a Nazi camp, she one day came to a place of forgiveness when she saw one of the Ravenbruck Camp guards that had been so cruel to her in another time and place. In her book, Tramp for the Lord she tells the story…

She was slow to forgive, but she prayed. And with this prayer as an act of surrender, she was able to forgive this man who asked for forgiveness.  “I forgive you, brother!” I cried,  “with all my heart!” For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.

[Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord (CLC Publications, 1974) p. 57]

Although I never have had to endure the horrific things that Corrie ten Boom had to endure, I can truly say that, when I have forgiven someone who has hurt me deeply, it is in that moment that I truly understand with a greater depth the immensely great love and forgiveness that Jesus has given to me! And that just makes me want to praise, worship, and adore Him even more!

Jesus Christ’s words on the Cross toward those who had mistreated Him, as He was hanging there in my place and yours, were these:

“…Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…”
Luke 23:34

Christ loved God; He prayed; He surrendered to God’s will to bring God glory; and forgave others…and so did Corrie ten Boom…and I hope I do as well with each day I am given.

Can I add your name to this list?  Is it your heart’s desire to do the will of the Father?  Do you trust Him completely—even when you don’t understand some things that seem so hard to endure?

* * * * *

Oh, dear Lord, let us have hearts like Yours and submit to Your will.  You are our Fortress and our God!  Even when we do not understand, let us trust You for Your ultimate plan in each of our lives to be revealed!  In Jesus’ precious Name.  Amen!

Let My Life Be the Proof…of His Love

Let my life be the proof … the proof of Your LOVE
Let my LOVE look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died—LOVE is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof … the proof of Your LOVE

Do these words echo in your heart as they do my own?  So, may I ask you then, what does ‘…let my life be the proof of Your LOVE…’ look like?  (I would love to know your answer!  Please leave a note in the comment section below.)

Here is one answer that I am sure of:

By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us,
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:16 and 18

If my life truly is the proof of His LOVE, then there is sacrifice as well as action, not simply words.

In the Gospel of John, there is also this record of Jesus teaching His disciples about LOVE, and giving them command to follow.

“When you bear much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine. I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My LOVE and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His LOVE.  I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.  This is My commandment: that you LOVE one another [just] as I have LOVED you.  No one has greater LOVE than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.  You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.  I do not call you servants any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing.  But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father….This is what I command you: that you LOVE one another.”  (chapter 13:8-15, 17)

Jesus gave those who walked Him and lived with Him and saw with their very own eyes how He perfectly LOVED many, many examples of how to LOVE.  They were with Him when:

  • He healed (Mark 3:10)
  • He brought back the dead to life (Luke 7:12-15)
  • He cast evil spirits out (Matthew 8:16)
  • He miraculously fed thousands (Mark 6:31-44)
  • He saved a sinful woman from being stoned to death (John 8:3-11)
  • He touched lepers (Mark 1:40-45)
  • He actually washed their own feet (John 13:5-13)
  •  A few of them were even there when, dying on the Cross, He asked His Father to forgive those crucifying Him (Luke 23:34).

They were eyewitnesses and recipients of His compassion and His care and His LOVE.

Jesus not only taught them by His example but He clearly and purposefully gave them instructions for when He was gone.

This is how everyone will know that you are My disciples,
if you have LOVE for one another.
John 13:35

Simply put, LOVE—in order to be LOVE—must be shown through our actions, not just through our words and how we feel.  Our LOVING actions ARE the proof.  When we choose to obey God and to LOVE others in the way that He has told us…it is LOVE just like Jesus’ love.  Here’s the best list of actions that ARE the proof that I know….

Love is patient,
Love is kind and is not jealous;
Love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
It does not seek its own, is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails;
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

And lastly—but of vital importance—is to always remember who we are AND Whose we are!  Jesus pointedly stated,

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

Nothing.  (ummm, that IS what Jesus said.)  Nothing of importance, nothing of value, nothing of eternal weight.  But, as we abide in Him, and follow His direction and example, we can be instruments in the Master’s hand.  We can be part of His purpose and plan.  Our lives CAN be the proof of His LOVE!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Will you pray with me, please?

Dear Lord, how incredibly thankful we are that You did not just demand that we LOVE…You prepared our hearts. You gave us examples (oh, so many!). You promised to help us. You gave us much instruction. You gave us the Holy Spirit to be our Helper!  We so desire to LOVE as You LOVED, Lord!  We so yearn to be Your hands and feet!  We so want to help to draw others to You, as we have been drawn!  Please help us to be humble, recognizing our immense need for Your help!  By God’s grace and mercy, may we bring glory to our Father as we live lives that ARE the proof of Your LOVE!  Thank You, Lord…we pray and ask these things in Your name, amen!

Let all that you do be done in LOVE.

1 Corinthians 16:14

Praying for each of you!

  coleen

Girls with Swords: Chapter 5 – “Scapegoat” (pgs 76-78)

Every single word that Lisa has written on these two pages of the book have touched my heart in one way or another.  There is so much “good stuff” in this section of the book.  I have enjoyed the whole book so far, and I have really loved this chapter.  This chapter has caused me to look at the Cross in a whole new way.  The Cross as a sword is something I never visualized before.  This idea was all new to me, and it brought something to mind.

We all have a journey to the Cross.  Everyone’s journey is different.  Maybe we can all relate with the scapegoat in different areas as we journey to the Cross.

  • Guilt: How many times have you blamed yourself for an event in your life in which you carry around an immense amount of guilt from?
  • Lonely nights: How many nights have you fallen asleep next to your husband, or at home with your family, yet the loneliness that you feel inside is strong enough to cause you to think you are alone in this world with no one to love you…care for you…or be there for you? 
  • Oppression: How many times have you felt a heavy burden on your heart, one that crushes you to your core causing you to panic and shake the calm life you once lived? 
  • Rejection: How many times did you just want to fit in with your friends, family, co-workers; just to find out that no one wanted to be around you, and when you tried to surprise them you overheard the cruel words they spoke of you that cut deeper than any knife ever made?  The list goes on and on.  There are so many words that are used to describe the scapegoat we once believed we were.

Let’s consider Jesus’ journey not to the Cross, but with the Cross.  Jesus knows the pain and the hurt behind each and every word used to describe what a scapegoat represented.  Jesus went through more suffering than our human bodies can ever imagine.  Yet your depression, your loneliness, your hurt, your pain, your guilt, your betrayal, your shame, your (insert others here) were all taken with Jesus on the Cross.  Could you imagine the weight on His shoulders as He fell up Calvary’s hill?  The astonishing part is that Jesus’ innocent shoulders were not the ones meant to carry all of these things.  We deserve all of it, yet Jesus loved us so much that He took what was meant for our cross and sacrificed Himself so that we can be saved and free in Him!

As Jesus approached the spot where He was to be sacrificed, I can only picture Him taking the Cross with the weight of it all and sticking it into the ground.  Then I imagine the Cross as a sword and I know that when that sharp point hit the ground, our world was shaken.  Not for the worse, but for the better.  Jesus IS the ultimate sacrifice.  As I write those words, “Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice,” I begin to tear up because I stand in awe of Jesus and His love for me that He died and rose again, defeating all that was on the Cross, FOR ME, that I may live eternally with Him.  Lisa is right: the Cross is a sword of love.

It is time, ladies, to follow Jesus’ footsteps to the Cross.  For when we arrive, we will meet Jesus waiting to hand us His sword.  As He gives us His power, we must be able to echo His words in our hearts, “Forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  We must forgive ourselves, too.  We must leave all the burdens we carried to the Cross in His hands where they belong.  We must pick up His sword and follow JESUS TO HEAVEN!

Make time to meditate on this Scripture today:

 

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Let’s Pray: 

Heavenly Father, how can we find the words to thank You for what You alone have done for us?  Thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your only Son to die for us.  Lord, some of the ladies in this study may have already traveled to the Cross and found Your healing and have picked up Your sword.  I pray for these ladies, that You empower them to use Your sword and stand firm in You against Satan as You guide them to Heaven.  Lord, maybe there are some ladies who are in the middle of their journey or have not started yet.  Lord, I pray for these ladies that You show them Your paths to the cross, that You give them Your strength to reach the point where they find You and give You all of the burdens that lay so heavy on their hearts.  I thank You for the power of the Cross.  I thank You for guiding us every day to You.  We love You, Lord, so much!  Amen.