September 20, 2017

Glorious Living w/ Coach Megan: Trusting God {a prayer exercise}

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Dear Megan,

Lately I have really been struggling with trusting God and I feel horrible about it. In my heart, I know what I need to do, but my mind is fighting me every step of the way. I don’t know if you can help, but I just don’t know where to begin.

~T

My dear T, we have all walked through these seasons and I am so happy you have reached out for help. In addition to being in the Word daily and having as much quiet time with the Lord as possible, I have found this prayer exercise to be very helpful in training my heart to work with my mind in letting go and trusting God with every single little thing. I pray this is a blessing to you.

Trusting God {a prayer exercise}

A five-minute exercise you can do anytime you need to.

Your heavenly Father promises relief from adversity for those

who honor him, have faith, and trust him.

A word from scripture:

Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright. Psalm 112:4 (NIV)

 ***

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,

which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. Proverbs 4:18 (NLT)

Meditation Guidance:

 1. Tell your Heavenly Father that you are looking to Him for relief, like the dawn, to come. Talk about your faith and trust in Him. Speak of your doubts also. Use these scriptures to shape your prayer:

I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words.

I stay awake through the night, thinking about your promise.

In your faithful love, O Lord, hear my cry; let me be revived

by following your regulations.

Psalm 119:147-149 (NLT)

***

Desperate, I throw myself on you: you are my God! Psalm 31:14 (MSG)

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To you, O Lord, I offer my prayer; in you, my God, I trust. Psalm 25:1-2a (GNT)

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But even when I am afraid, I keep on trusting you. Psalm 56:3 (CEV)

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Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me.

Psalm 23:4 (GNT)

2. Talk to your heavenly Father about the despair and darkness in your life. Cry out to God. Use these scriptures to help you:

O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning.

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you.

Psalm 5:1-2 (NLT)

***

Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs: “Be good to me! Answer me!”

Psalm 27:9 (MSG)

***

Hurry with your answer, God! I’m nearly at the end of my rope.

Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me!

Psalm 143:7 (MSG)

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Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.

Psalm 13:3 (NIV)

 

3. As you wait for your heavenly Father to answer your prayer, meditate on these scriptures to strengthen you:

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7 (NIV)

 ***

Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him. Psalm 62:5 (CEV)

***

You, Lord, are my shepherd. I will never be in need. You let me rest in fields of green grass.

You lead me to streams of peaceful water, and you refresh my life.

You are true to your name, and you lead me along the right paths.

Psalm 23:1-3 (CEV)

***

I can lie down and sleep soundly because you, Lord, will keep me safe.

Psalm 4:8 (CEV)

 ***

I know that I will live to see the Lord’s goodness in this present life.

Psalm 27:13 (GNT)

4. Repeat as often as needed and let each and every word in the Scriptures penetrate the depths of your soul. Breathe  in the truth of God’s Word and let satan’s lies tumble on out.

Your assignment: give one thing over to God today to trust Him with.  It can be as small or as big as you want it to be…just give it to Him.  Once you do, it is not yours anymore.  Do this exercise to keep that thing out of your imperfect hands and safely in the magnificent hands of our Lord and Savior!

Blessings,

Megan 🙂

Glorious Living w/ Coach Megan: Restoring Broken Relationships

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Dear Coach Megan,

A very horrible situation happened several years ago between one of my family members and I.   Ever since then, we have not had any contact with each other.   I am very unsettled in my heart and spirit about this and I feel God pushing me towards reconciliation with this person. My question is in how I know if this is something I should pursue or not. I hope you will be able to help me with this.  Bless you, P.S.

Hello, P.S.!

My heart aches for you, knowing how grave the pain is when any relationship {family or otherwise} is ripped apart.  Not much makes me happier than to see relationships restored to even better than new, but you and I both know that sometimes, that isn’t what ends up happening. Reconciliation is the act of settling or restoring differences.  While a relationship will not always be salvaged, the spirit of reconciliation will ALWAYS reflect the heart of God.  Read with me Romans 12:18.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Most people do not know the when for reconciliation, but the Bible does state two specific times:

  1. When you have wronged another {Matthew 5:23-24}
  2. When you have been wronged {Matthew 18:15-16}

In order to pave the road for reconciliation, you must 100% sincerely commit to forgive and be reconciled in the relationship.  This does not need to go both ways, but your heart must be pure in motives and sincere.  1 Peter 3:9 says: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

With this in mind, use the following as guide in beginning to pave your road for reconciliation….

Prepare your heart for seeking reconciliation. Be willing to:

  • view the conflict as an opportunity for growth
  • learn what God wants you to learn
  • discover that you are partly at fault
  • expose your weakness
  • be open with your feelings
  • risk the relationship
  • accept a negative outcome
  • pray for God’s will to be done

Colossians 3:15

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body
you were called to peace. And be thankful. 

 Know that the refusal to seek reconciliation affects the intimacy of your relationship with God. Humble your heart and pray:

  • “Lord, I don’t want to be prideful and unbending”
  • “Lord, I want Your favor in my life, not Your disfavor”
  • “Lord, I want to reflect Your character and be open to reconciliation”

Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Seek forgiveness and apologize for words that have hurt the other person

  • “I have tried to see our relationship from your point of view”
  • “I realize I have been wrong in my attitude of _______”
  • “Will you forgive me”

Proverbs 6:2-3

you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.
So do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go—to the point of exhaustion— and give your neighbor no rest!

Recognize the ground rules of communication:

  • Offer unconditional acceptance
  • Confront the problem, not the person
  • Listen without interrupting
  • Verbalize your feelings
  • Use words that build self-worth
  • Aim for mutual understanding
  • Give more than you take

Ephesians 4:2

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Be kind and gentle

  • Don’t harbor resentment
  • Don’t make excuses for yourself
  • Don’t get drawn into arguments
  • Don’t fail to pray
  • Don’t have expectations of immediate acceptance

2 Timothy 2:24-25

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome 
but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 
Opponents must be gently instructed, 
in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth

Reflect the character of Christ in ALL you do.

In order to prepare your heart to reflect the character of Christ, pray:

  • “Lord I die to my personal rights” {Galatians 2:20}
  • “Lord, I die to defending myself” {Psalm 28:7}
  • “Lord, I die to relying on my own abilities” {Proverbs 28:26}

Enlist a mediator if necessary

  • Pray for God to prepare the heart of your opposer for mediation
  • Seek a person whom your opposer can respect
  • You can say, “At times an outside person can have a different perspective that is more objective. Would you consider having a mediator help us think through our problems with the hope of reaching a successful end?”

Matthew 18:16

But if they will not listen, take one or two others along,
so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

Do not hold yourself responsible for the outcome

  • When reconciliation is refused, do not live with false guilt.
  • You cannot force reconciliation to occur
  • Everyone is individually responsible to God

Romans 14:12

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Rest in the knowledge that you have done all that you can do to seek peace

  • Continue to show love and treat the other person with forgiveness
  • Thank God for giving you the desire to be at peace with everyone
  • Praise God for His commitment to orchestrate your own spiritual growth

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Dear P.S., if your efforts are refused, remember that if your heart has been repentant, you have God’s total forgiveness {1 John 1:8-9}.  Be sure to pray for those who refuse reconciliation and for their unmet need {Matthew 5:44}.  Know that God never leaves you when you suffer the loss of a close relationship {Psalm 34:18}.  Be careful to control what you say about those who refuse reconciliation {Romans 12:14}.  Do not be vengeful toward them.. in time, God deals with those who do wrong {Romans 12:19}.  Know completely that God will bring something good out of the pain {Isaiah 43:18-19}.

In closing, my friend, please keep in mind that reconciliation is restoring a relationship based on restored trust. It requires repentance and is to be extended only when earned. Pray to God for discernment on this and I so hope that you will be able to use this as a guide when preparing your heart, mind, and spirit.

Blessings,

Coach Megan 🙂

“I AM” Chapter 5 – Day 1: Who I AM in Christ

Memory Verse:

Heb4_16

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I AM Accepted…

I have a dream that burns within my heart.  I was very young when I first felt the fire of that dream.  Its warmth has kept me going down a different path that separates my way from the world.  Even in church circles I am different.  A square peg trying to find my way through the round hole.  Maybe you are too…and never realized it.

As a Christ-follower I never really understood why there were “denominations” of believers. To me, a denomination is a mathematical term used to quantify or an English term used as an adjective to describe the more superior word (noun).  Why do we need denominations in the family of God?  My experience has been that denominations are exclusive, divisive and, well, negative.  You must join, perform, and perpetrate the belief for that church  to flourish.

A few years back, my “word of purpose” was Unity.  There should be unity in the body of Christ.  Unity in the Church (with a capital “C”).  Does this thought ever cross your mind?  Look at what the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:4-6:

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

UNITY means we are all ONE.

Jesus established the Church.  The members of the church were followers of the Way (John 14:6).  The Way is a person: JesusJesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Lord of All.  When we each stand before God we will be asked  ”What was your relationship with Jesus?”  The question will NOT be “What denomination did you belong to?”  The question will be “Who do you belong to?”

When Paul stood before the council of Jews (as reported in Acts 24) he talks about his experiences and commitment to the Way.  He was asked about his beliefs because they were radical.  Paul lived his life following Jesus’ example.  He was “All In.”

There is another word that describes someone who strives to live like Jesus:  Christian.  Because Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God, He is known as Jesus Christ.  Those who choose to live life by His example can call themselves Christians.

Unfortunately, the world hears the term “Christian” and thinks “Pharisee,” “Hypocrite,” and “Judgmental.”  Do those words describe your walk with the Lord?  If we truly live our lives like Jesus, we will show love and compassion, grace and mercy, and generosity.  The world will want to know us and our Savior.  Jesus’ life changed the world.  Jesus living in you will change the world also.  Let’s change our world in Jesus’ name and live it by His example.

Jesus gave us a gift.  Have you accepted it yet?  Just like with any new gift, we have to learn how to use it properly.  Apply yourself to learning who Jesus is and what His life was about.  Jesus will Rock your World!!!  So, back to denominations…

Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth addresses the division in the church over which leader they were going to follow (1 Corinthians 1).  The man leading the church was not as important as Jesus Christ as the head of the church.  The Corinthians received correction over their wrong thinking.  We need to check our allegiances, too.

If this topic of Unity of the Body of Christ has sparked an interest for you, please read First Corinthians Chapter 1, ask God to give you an understanding of being “One with Christ,” and a part of a larger body of believers (The Church).

Look at these words of beauty and warning:

“Every word of God proves true.  He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.  Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.”

Proverbs 30:5-6

“And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book:  If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book.”

Revelation 22:18

These words are from the book of wisdom and the best friend of Jesus.  Follow the Great I AM.  Accept His Gift, it’s free.  Learn the Truth, follow the Way and let Him show you how to LIVE.    You have been chosen by Jesus.  You have been ACCEPTED into the family of God.  What is your response to Jesus?

We are a City on a Hill.  We are to be shining the Light.  We are ONE.  United we will Stand. Divided we will FALL.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Jesus,

You are the Christ, the Messiah, the One who gives us Life and Love, Grace and Mercy.  Teach us to love like You.  Help us to accept our place in Your Church body.  We all have a part to play as we reach the lost for You, Lord.  Open our eyes so that we can see where we have gone astray.  Give us the desire to be one with our brothers and sisters.  May our love for You bind us together and the divisions be erased.  We want to be the Church—Your Church, ONE CHURCH.  Father, gather Your children home.  Thank You for making us that City on a Hill leading the lost to You.  We love You, Jesus.

AMEN

“I AM” Chapter 4 – Day 1: Jesus is the “I AM”

 

Memory Verse:

John15_11

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I am full of questions today.  Why is it important for people to know us?  What difference does it make if people REALLY know who we are?  Does it hurt us when people get the wrong impression of us?  If I needed someone to write my life story, what kind of person would I choose to do that for me?  How would I go about finding someone who could accurately portray Who I Am to other people?

If you are still following along with us after three weeks of learning who the Great I AM is through the Old Testament, then hold on to your seat, because Jesus is going to ramp up the study!  Jesus was like that, you know.  Wherever He found people, He would push them outside their comfort zone, challenge their beliefs and get them to really see themselves for who they really are.  Have you begun to look at yourself a little differently yet?

As we cross the Bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament we walk across 400 silent, unholy, mixed-up years.  God is preparing the world stage for the coming Messiah.  The people were living life the way they wanted to, making gods of whatever they found valuable to them at the time.  The Bridge crosses a silent ocean of godlessness.  The picture of the Bridge in my mind sags in the middle.  The first part is downhill, bottoms out at a very low point and then there is an uphill climb to get off on the other side.

Look at our memory verse for the week.  It is John 15:11.  If you notice in your study guide, there is a typo in the “I AM’s” of Jesus.  It should read John 15:1 for that section.  As I began to prepare for the study, I had all these questions, so I took them to Jesus.  He turned that typo into our memory verse for the week and the answer to ALL my questions.  He will do that, you know.  There are no dumb questions when you seek Him with ALL your heart.  He will give us the answers we need so our JOY will be FULL.

  • Why is it important for people to know us?  We were placed on this earth for a purpose.  If we don’t share ourselves with others, we are missing our purpose.  Don’t miss your purpose for living.  Share your life with others.
  • What difference does it make if people REALLY know who we are?  If you do not show them who you really are, they will make up their own story.  Some of it may be true, but it cannot ALL be true.  Truth is important!  Let others into your life so there is no question where you stand on important matters.
  • Does it hurt when people get the wrong impression of us?  Absolutely!!!  There is nothing more painful than having someone tell a lie about us and have others believe it.  It hurts even worse than when the story is true.  We can grow through that pain, too.
  • If I needed someone to write my life story, what kind of person would I choose to do that for me?  I would want someone who was known to be truthful, honest, and fair.  Someone who had taken the time to get to know me and my heart.  Someone who would not back down when others had a different story to tell.
  • How would I go about finding someone who could accurately portray Who I Am to other people?  I would take the time to reveal myself to others so they could make up their own minds about me and let them write the story based on their own experiences with me.  Each story would be different and unique—just like the relationship between us.  By reading the stories of each writer, others would be able to get a fuller picture of who I really am.

Who did Jesus choose to reveal His character to?  He chose to share His life with strangers who HE turned into disciples.  He said, “Follow Me” and they did.  The disciples got to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of living life as Jesus.  Just like us, Jesus had best friends.  John was Jesus’ closest friend and gives us our first seven “I AM’s.”  If I truly want to know who Jesus is and what He is like, I want to talk to His best friends.

You are writing your life story RIGHT NOWWhat would those closest people to you be able to reveal about your character?  It matters, you know.  If you aren’t showing them the example you had hoped, there is time to make changes and reflect the Light inside you.  You can open the Door and offer Bread.  You can point people to the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Your story isn’t finished yet.  Finish it well!

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Jesus,  Messiah, Lord of ALL,

We thank You for making Yourself known to us.  Thank You for loving us in our sinfulness enough to give Your life for ours.  Thank You for showing us what it means to develop friendships.  I pray for each person seeking You today.  I pray they find You right where they are.  We allow You into our hearts so that Your Spirit can change us from the inside out.  We want to reflect Your Truth, Your Light, and Your Way.  We can feel that JOY welling up now.  Help us to reach the overflowing mark.  We love You, Jesus!

AMEN

“I AM” Chapter 3 – Day 1: The Great I AM in the Books of the Minor Prophets

Memory Verse

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:19

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As we begin our week examining the books of the Minor Prophets, we begin with Hosea and Amos.  Do not be fooled by the size of their writings because their message is mighty.  Through Hosea’s life we see God revealing Himself (for the first time) as a Faithful Bridegroom and the children of Israel as His bride.  That imagery runs all through the New Testament.  What a legacy!

For thousands of years and many generations, God has been patient with His people.  God demonstrated His love for His people using marriage as a metaphor.  Ouch!  If our life was a metaphor for our relationship with God (and it is) what would it say to the people around us?

In looking at Hosea’s story, I noticed seven ways God used Hosea’s life as an example to the people around him.  Let’s see if they might pertain to our lives as well.

  1.  Our relationship with God is like a marriage.  From “Will you…” to “I do”… to “?”
  2. God uses our struggles to display His POWER through us.  Not what we can do on our own.
  3. God uses our challenges in our relationships to reveal His LOVE to others.  We have a choice.
  4. God calls us to love the unlovely – even those who have hurt us deeply.
  5. Our disobedience to God brings judgment and severe consequences.
  6. God calls us into a covenant relationship with Him. He WANTS you!
  7. God expects us to live in a manner that would connect others to Him.

From the moment we say “I Do” to a relationship with the Great I AM we are in a committed, monogamous, covenant “marriage.”  Why does God use marriage as an example of His relationship with us?  Marriage is that object or state of being we have sought after (in one form or another) most of our lives.  When we were young, we would dream of our perfect wedding to the perfect person and we would live a perfect life.  Happily Ever After, right?

Then maybe we found that perfect someone, promised a perfect “forever” and began to live that dream.  Then…that “perfect” life hit a few bumps along the way.  Our perfect marriage gets rocky…then what?  Dreams are shattered, hearts are broken, eyes are opened.

Look at God’s example.  He used Hosea’s life and Hosea’s marriage and Hosea’s service to speak to the Israelites about their “marriage” relationship with God.  Just as those “perfect” dreams were shattered, our relationship with God becomes broken.  It is at this moment of broken dreams that we find we have a choice.

We can choose to honor our marriage vow or walk away.  We can choose to love the unlovely one or cast them aside.  We can stand firm when the going gets tough or we can faint in the face of struggle.  We can choose to OBEY or expect the consequences of our actions.

We can break our promise to God.  We can leave those “other people” out there in the dark instead of leading them to the Light.  We have a choice.  Because we chose to say “I Do,” we get the blessings of a life in relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  Because we said, “I Do,” we have a Helper, a Leader through our struggles.  Because we are “one flesh,” we are loved when we are un-lovely.

So how can God use us  –  You and Me – to lead others to Him?  How can God use a broken heart and a broken spirit to shine its LIGHT?  He changes our heart.  We were born with a heart problem, but God is our Healer.

The prophet Amos (who studied under Hosea) told the Israelites their words were empty without the right heart.  They needed the heart of a worshipper and the heart of a servant.  Oscar Wilde once said,

“Every Saint has a PAST.  Every Sinner has a FUTURE.”

God showed Hosea how to love his wife, Gomer, the way God loved Israel; the way He loves you and me.  Hosea forgave Gomer, rebuilt the marriage and taught others to follow God.  Hosea’s struggles did not disqualify him from service.  Gomer’s wicked ways did not prevent Hosea from being used by God. Their children, who were given very unfortunate names by God, were restored and dearly loved in the end.

We were born with a heart problem, but we have a choice.  We can choose to live with a bad, broken heart, or we can give the pieces to God and let Him make something lovely.

Let’s Pray:

Lord, We bring You the pieces of our broken hearts and our broken lives.  Thank You for loving us when we are un-lovely.  Thank You for making a way for us to go from an unfortunate name of “I am not your God” to “I AM your God.”  You asked us “Will you?”  We want to say “I Do” and live under Your Protection all the days of our lives.  We love You, Lord.

AMEN

 

“I AM” Chapter 2 – Day 1: The Great I AM in the Book of Ezekiel

Have you ever watched someone worship and wonder, “How do they do that?”  I have.  I think I have “worship envy.”  Maybe it was my upbringing in a conservative church environment, maybe I care too much what people think, maybe I have never totally surrendered myself to worship.  The reality probably lies somewhere in between.

As I read the Book of Ezekiel, I found myself in awe again of someone so sold out for God that he was willing to do whatever to get God’s message across.  Ezekiel was “All In.”

If God said lay in the street on your left side for 390 days and then on your right side for 40 days…Ezekiel did it (to teach a history lesson).  If God said shave your head and divide your hair into three piles to explain a prophecy…Ezekiel did it.  If God asked Ezekiel to NOT mourn the passing of his beloved wife as an example to the Jews…he managed to do it.

God said, “Teach” and Ezekiel had the responsibility to teach the captive Jews discipline to follow their God.  Discipline doesn’t always have a positive feel to it, so I looked it up for us.

Discipline

1)       Training to insure proper behavior;

           the practice or methods of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior.

2)      Training that corrects, molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

The Israelites found themselves in captivity…again.  Sometimes we think God isn’t paying attention to our lives when times get hard.  I think it is just the opposite.  Those hard times are to drive us toward Him.  How do people survive without God?  We were created to need Him.  If we leave Him out then we deny a very important part of ourselves.

God sent Ezekiel to help the Jews adjust to their captivity.  He gave them hope to carry on and a way to return to a right relationship with God.  “God never forgets those who are faithful to Him” (pg 25).   He won’t forget you either.

Do YOU know Ezekiel’s God?  Ezekiel 16:62 says,

 “I will establish my covenant with you, and YOU shall know that I AM the LORD.”

God’s promise to establish His covenant was for anyone who would obey Him and follow His commands.  That’s what the name LORD means.

As we see in Ezekiel’s story, there is not one sedate and reverent way to worship God.  Neither is there always craziness associated with worship of the LORD.  Worship happens as we seek His face.  As we offer our lives to Him, He chooses how to express His love to us.  Give your life to the ONE TRUE GOD and be part of the Body of Christ.

If you search for the I AM, you will find Him…He wants to be found.

Let’s PRAY:

We come into Your presence to acknowledge that YOU are LORD.  You are Sovereign and You know what is best for us.  Thank You for loving us enough to reveal Your character to us.  Ezekiel has shown us that You can breathe new life into our dry, dead lives if we only have faith in YOU.  Change our hearts so that we can more fully submit to YOUR will and not ours.  We want to worship you in freedom.  Lord, teach us!  We love you, LORD.

AMEN

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.

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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 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 12 Sword of Silence “David’s Sword of Silence” (Pgs.183-187)

The variety of swords at our disposal does not cease to amaze me. I think that it is easy to forget the power that our swords truly hold, but I am thankful for studies such as this that lay those swords out in front of us, resources that remind us that we have been blessed and chosen by God to carry these swords and to use them for His glory. The sword that is being discussed this week is one that has, at times, been difficult to wield; but at other times—with God on my side—it has been carried with ease. The sword of silence seems too heavy to bear when we have been “wearied by all the altercations” (pg. 183). All the altercations of life, of relationships, of responsibilities, and like David we may have felt the weight of wanting to be included. It feels unbearable when we feel like we have had enough and we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders.

When David felt like this, when he felt wearied, he reacted. He tossed aside his sword of silence and picked up a sword which he intended to use for harm.

“If you are not careful, listening to what other people say about you may cause you to forget who you actually are” (pg. 185). One thing that I have noticed is that this does not always apply to other people. There have been times when I have been my own distraction, where I have talked myself out of my sword of silence. Both those around us and our own inner thoughts can distract us enough to cause us to react. “The trick is choosing to allow those critiques to refine, not define, us.” (pg. 185)

There are some key takeaways for all of us here:

1.     God alone establishes houses.

2.      When we live under the directive of God’s Spirit, God protects us.

3.      God knows how to settle matters with our enemies.

4.      We should never use our position with God to protect ourselves.

5.      We are not to take judgment or salvation matters into our hands; both of these matters belong to our God.     (pg.186)

I have to remind myself often that the sword I am being instructed to pick up is my sword of silence. I am to step back in prayer and allow God to handle the situation; I’m supposed to bite my tongue.

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, there are so many times when Your instruction is to pick up our sword of silence. Life (and the weight it places on us) can cause this sword to feel extremely heavy at times. Lord, I ask for strength for all of us when we are to carry this sword, when we are to silence our own thoughts and the words of those around us. Thank you for protecting us and for settling our matters for us, Lord.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.

Girls with Swords: Chapter 11 – “Sword of Song – Songs of Battle” (pgs 170-173)

 

When I read this section, I thought of this song. I thought of how this song touches my heart and empowers me each time I hear it. This song reminds me of how music works, it reminds me of those times when I was in the middle of a battle, in the middle of a test or trial and I would turn music on. Sometimes I would sing aloud, or sometimes I would sing silently to myself; either way the words of the song, and the sounds of the music would help to create a type of “joyful strength” (p. 171), as Lisa described it. Songs have the ability to “remind us of just how awesome the Most High is” (p. 171).  It is so easy to become caught up in life and to let His promises drift to the back of our mind. Music has a way of bringing us back.

Isaiah 54:1

“Sing, O barren,
You who have not borne!
Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
You who have not labored with child!
For more are the children of the desolate
Than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.
(NKJV)

I think of praise and worship on Sundays, and the atmosphere that the songs usher in. The sanctuary full of people singing praises to God in unison, everyone lifting their voices in praise and thanks to our Heavenly Father. His power in the room can be felt. It pours into our hearts and minds, it covers us in God’s love. I think of driving in the car with the radio playing and a feeling of life and peace enveloping me. I think of my rambunctious children and the effect that music has on them!  I love hearing them singing Christian songs in the backseat as we go about our daily tasks; in their own way, they are singing through their own battles.

There are ‘go-to’ songs that I have when I need to feel closer to God; songs I listen to when I clean; songs I play for my children when they go to sleep. God has given us many tools in life, and the gift of song is one of them. There are times in our lives when we need to pick up our sword of song, we need to wield it, shout and sing. The song of battle needs to be one of our tools as a warrior of Christ, and, as a girl with a sword.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your gifts! Thank You for reminding us of Your love and Your strength through song. Thank You for the joy it creates, and the security it provides. Lord, please give us a holy boldness and remind us that we are living for none other than You.  In Jesus’ Name we pray, AMEN!