Archives for : Washed Clean

Psalm 104 Praise the Lord

104 My soul, praise the Lord!
Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with glory and honor.
2 You wear light like a robe.
You spread out the skies like a curtain.
3 You built your home above them.[a]
You use the thick clouds like a chariot
and ride across the sky on the wings of the wind.
4 You make the winds your messengers
and flames of fire your servants.[b]
5 You built the earth on its foundations,
so it can never be moved.
6 You covered it with water like a blanket.
The water covered even the mountains.
7 But you gave the command, and the water turned back.
You shouted at the water, and it rushed away.
8 The water flowed down from the mountains into the valleys,
to the places you made for it.
9 You set the limits for the seas,
and the water will never again rise to cover the earth.
10 Lord, you cause water to flow from springs into the streams
that flow down between the mountains.
11 The streams provide water for all the wild animals.
Even the wild donkeys come there to drink.
12 Wild birds come to live by the pools;
they sing in the branches of nearby trees.
13 You send rain down on the mountains.
The earth gets everything it needs from what you have made.
14 You make the grass grow to feed the animals.
You provide plants for the crops we grow—
the plants that give us food from the earth.
15 You give us the wine that makes us happy,
the oil that makes our skin soft,[c]
and the food that makes us strong.
16 The great cedar trees of Lebanon belong to the Lord.
He planted them and gives them the water they need.
17 That’s where the birds make their nests,
and the storks live in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are a home for wild goats.
The large rocks are hiding places for rock badgers.
19 Lord, you made the moon to show us when the festivals begin.
And the sun always knows when to set.
20 You made darkness to be the night—
the time when wild animals come out and roam around.
21 Lions roar as they attack,
as if they are asking God for the food he gives them.
22 When the sun rises, they leave
and go back to their dens to rest.
23 Then people go out to do their work,
and they work until evening.
24 Lord, you created so many things!
With your wisdom you made them all.
The earth is full of the living things you made.
25 Look at the ocean, so big and wide!
It is filled with all kinds of sea life.
There are creatures large and small—too many to count!
26 Ships sail over the ocean,
and playing there is Leviathan,[d]
the great sea creature you made.
27 Lord, all living things depend on you.
You give them food at the right time.
28 You give it, and they eat it.
They are filled with good food from your open hands.
29 When you turn away from them,
they become frightened.
When you take away their breath,[e]
they die, and their bodies return to the dust.
30 But when you send out your life-giving breath,[f]
things come alive, and the world is like new again!
31 May the Lord’s glory continue forever!
May the Lord enjoy what he made.
32 He just looks at the earth, and it trembles.
He just touches the mountains, and smoke rises from them.
33 I will sing to the Lord for the rest of my life.
I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.
34 May my words be pleasing to him.
The Lord is the one who makes me happy.
35 I wish sinners would disappear from the earth.
I wish the wicked would be gone forever.
My soul, praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

 

Biblical Steps to inner healing

God wants to take your wounds, pain, hurts, and sorrow! Before we begin, I want you to know that God desires to heal our wounds and take our pain and hurt from us. You know how you can love somebody so much, that you wish you could take their pain or suffering from them? That’s how Jesus feels about us… He loves us so much that He paid the price for our emotional healing in the work on the cross! Isaiah 53:4, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” He carried our sorrows in His work on the cross. The NT Greek tells us that the word sorrows here literally refers to anguish, affliction, grief, pain, and sorrow. Jesus took these things and paid the price with His own blood for us! You need to know that God desires to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds. This is what the Bible tells us: Psalms 147:3, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Do you want to receive healing from emotional wounds, pain, sorrows, grief, and anguish? It is vital that we take advantage of what Christ has done for us, and learn to cast our cares upon the Lord. Not some of them, but ALL of them; knowing that He cares for you and wants to take those things from you. 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Release those hurt, painful and fearful emotions into the hands of Jesus Hanging onto fear, hurt and pain can actually block the healing power of the Holy Spirit in your soul. It is vital to open up and allow the Lord to heal your wounds. Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Jesus paid the price for the healing of our souls and to set us free from the bondage that we have come under from the bruises that we’ve received. It is important to God that we receive this inner healing… His Son paid a costly price for it! Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In the above verse, it’s not speaking about a heavy physical burden, but a burden in a person’s soul. This is made evident in the later part of this passage where it says, “Ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Jesus is telling us to come unto Him and give Him our heavy burden, and take His yoke which is light and easy to bear. Allow your painful emotions to be released as you give them to the Lord. It’s okay to cry, sob and let the damaged emotions come out as they are given to the hands of the Lord. Holding on to the pain and hurt will only prevent you from be healed. James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” If you can find a person to confide in, it can also be very helpful to share your burden with them and receive prayer for healing. There is tremendous healing that can take place as you share your pain with a fellow brother or sister in Christ! Realize the love of God for you; this will help you open up and receive inner healing Knowing the true nature of our heavenly Father will help us to trust Him and open ourselves up so that we can receive the healing that only the Holy Spirit can provide for us. Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” After Christ has suffered and died for us, why would He withhold healing our wounded souls? We can confidently open up to Him and know that He has our best interests in mind simply by looking at what He went through on the cross for us. You are loved by God, not because of what you’ve done, but because of who you are. The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He longed to have a relationship with you even before you became His child! Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus said that the greatest love a man can show for his friends, is when he lays down his life for them. Jesus laid down His life for us – that is how valuable and dear we are to Him! John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Did you know that God loves us with the same love that He had towards Jesus Himself? Yes, believe it or not, this is true! I want you to look up this verse in your Bible: John 17:23, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” It is absolutely essential that we learn of and realize the love that our heavenly Father has for us. Without knowing the love of God for us, we cannot be filled with His fullness: Ephesians 3:17-19, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Realize God’s will for your mind and receive it! 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Abuse, trauma, hurt and pain are all works of the devil. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and restore His children to the fullness to which He created them to fulfill. When Jesus was here on earth, He went about doing the will of the Father in heaven, and this included healing all who were oppressed of the devil: Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Jesus desire for you is to heal your broken heart and set you who have been bruised at liberty: Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” He wants to restore your soul from all the damage that has been done to you: Psalms 23:3, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Extend forgiveness towards those who have hurt you Unforgiveness will hinder or block the healing power of the Holy Spirit. It will bind you up and separate you from God’s forgiving and healing power. It is vital to release those feelings that you have against others, so that the Holy Spirit’s healing and forgiving power can heal and restore your soul. Unforgiveness is a deadly poison that separates us from God’s forgiveness in our own lives and gives us over to tormenting spirits. It is hard to receive healing when one is in such a position. Consider these passages in scripture concerning the deadliness of unforgiveness and bitterness in our lives: Mark 11:25-26, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” As we can see, unforgiveness will block God’s forgiveness from operating in our own lives. Inner healing requires God’s forgiveness. Matthew 18:32-35, “Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Unforgiveness will put us into the hands of tormenting spirits. This is the last thing we need when we’re seeking healing for our souls! As if that isn’t enough, unforgiveness also puts a person in spiritual darkness and separation from God, and defiles us spiritually: 1 John 2:11, “But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” It is absolutely essential to release feelings of bitterness and unforgiveness, in order to fully receive healing for our souls. Forgiving others will welcome the healing power of the Holy Spirit into our lives. Realize who you are in Christ Realizing your identity in Christ is absolutely vital to our healing process. You need to know that you are a new creation in Christ, freed from the darkness of your past, forgiven of your sins, and freedom and healing are yours because of the Blood that Christ shed for you! I encourage you to go through my teaching entitled, “Who we REALLY are” for more information. Stop feeding on lies of insecurity, guilt, and pain (Jesus took your pain!) My father often uses the story of two men on our shoulders, and whichever one you listen to will crowd the other one out. This is absolutely true concerning how we handle God’s voice and the devil’s voice. Just recently the Holy Spirit gave me a powerful revelation, here’s what He said to me: “You need to be discerning of the voice of the devil… it is your responsibility not to give consideration (or pay attention) to it!” (Wording may be slightly different, but that is the exact message) It is absolutely vital that we NOT listen or pay attention to the voice of the devil in our minds. God’s Word tells us that we need to be taking every thought captive to the obedience to Christ: 2 Corinthians 10:4, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” One thing you can look out for is condemnation and fear. Both of these come from the enemy. “What if” thinking is always a giveaway that there’s a demon doing the speaking. For more information about condemnation, I recommend reading my teaching on Condemnation vs Conviction. Forgive yourself – see yourself as God sees you Forgiving yourself is a vital step that we must take while seeking inner healing. We need to love and appreciate the person that Christ has made in us! It is vital to see ourselves for who we really are in Christ. If you continue to beat yourself up for your past failures, after the Blood of Christ has washed them away, then you are, in reality, denying the very work of the cross! Here are a few (of many) good verses to mediate on in God’s Word: Psalms 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Hebrews 10:22, “…draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Colossians 1:22-23, “…he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed by God to proclaim it.” (NLT) For more information on forgiving yourself, I recommend going through my teaching entitled, “Forgiving yourself.” I also highly recommend my teaching entitled, “A love relationship w/Jesus.” Speak to the pain and release it into Jesus’ hands Lastly, go to the pain, the emotional wound that is hidden within you, and confront it with the healing love of Christ. Knowing that Jesus has paid for your emotional wounds, hurts, pains, and sorrows, tell the inner hurt, painful memories, and emotional affliction to leave in the name of Jesus. Then call upon Jesus to remove those things from you. You might pray something like this, “Lord Jesus, I love you, thank you for bearing my burden on the cross. I ask that take these inner hurts, painful memories, and emotional wounds from me right now. I submit them to you, and accept your peace in place of those things which I am giving up.” The next step is to seek deliverance from any spirits that are involved in your mind or emotions. These spirits must be confronted and cast out in Jesus’ name. You may attempt this yourself as a self-deliverance, or seek a qualified deliverance minister to help you with this step. If you begin to experience overwhelming or strong demonic reactions from the below prayer, or if the spirits aren’t coming out, then it is recommended to seek deliverance from a qualified minister. If you are not yet a believer in Christ, then I do not recommend confronting any evil spirits until you do. Without Christ, the demons are nothing to mess with, they are powerful spiritual beings, and without Christ, they are not yet disarmed in your life (see Colossians 2:13-15). If you would like to accept Jesus right now as your Lord and savior, go before Him now with a prayer like this, “Lord Jesus Christ, I realize I am a sinner. I believe you died and shed your blood for the remission of my sins, so that I may have eternal life. Right now, I turn from my sins and ask that you come into my life, changing me into a new person and washing all my sins away. I receive you as my personal Lord and Savior. Amen.” A simple self-deliverance prayer might go something like this, “I now come against any unclean spirits that have been influencing my mind, will and emotions, and I take authority over these spirits

 

Forgiveness of Sin

 

Forgiveness of Sin

 

Introduction: Forgiveness of sin is truly a great Bible truth. Forgiveness is great because of the enormity of sin (that which is forgiven), the one who forgives (in the case of God), the cost of forgiveness, and the unworthiness of the one forgiven. There are three areas involving forgiveness: God’s forgiveness of man’s sins, man’s forgiveness of man’s sins in general, and the one sinned against forgiving the offender.

I. The enormity of sin. Sin (hamartia) is lawlessness (I Jn. 3: 4, ASV)

A. The enormity of sin is seen in the fact that sin separates man from God (Isa. 59: 1, 2).

a. James presents the sequential progression which eventuates in man’s separation from God (Jas. 1: 14, 15). Sin will cause people to suffer the unimaginable agony of hell for an eternity (Matt. 25: 46).

II. The blood of Jesus, the means and cost of forgiveness

A. Animal sacrifices were not efficacious in the permanent remitting of sin. In fact, there continued to be remembrance of sin – sin was “continued forward,” if you will (Heb. 10: 1-4).

B. Jeremiah prophesied that the days would come when God would make a new covenant that would offer “total” forgiveness (Jere. 31: 31-34).

a. The writer of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah and shows its fulfillment is in the new covenant that has Jesus as its eternal sacrifice (Heb. 8: 6-13, 1-5, chs. 7-10).

C. Jesus said, “For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26: 28). We are sanctified by “the blood of his covenant” (Heb. 10: 29). Moreover, Jesus’ blood reconciles the estranged (Rom. 5: 10), redeems the enslaved (Eph. 1: 7), and justifies the guilty (Rom. 5: 9). Jesus’ blood is not only presently effective but his blood flowed backward “for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant” (Heb. 9: 15). Let us now turn our focus to the three areas involving forgiveness:

III. God’s forgiveness of man’s sins

A. As indicated, man is an unworthy recipient of God’s forgiveness (Rom. 5: 6-9). There was (is) no way man could earn or procure forgiveness through a system of meritorious works (Rom. 11: 6, Tit. 3: 5). We are saved (forgiven) “by grace…through faith” (Eph. 2: 8). The word “forgiveness” (aphiemi) means “to send forth, send away…to remit…” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine). Peter said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3: 19). “Blotted out” is derived from exaleipho which means “…to wipe, signifies to wash, or to smear completely” (Vine). Remember, when God forgives he “remembers no more” (Heb. 8: 12). We must also not forget that man has sinned against God and it is man’s responsibility to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5: 18-21).

B. Some believe and teach that God’s forgiveness of man’s sin is unconditional. If this be true, all men would be saved because God is not willing that any perish (2 Pet. 3: 9). However, only a few will be saved (Matt. 7: 13, 14). The scriptures also present man in need of reconciling himself to God, as seen; hence, man is not passive in the matter of his forgiveness.

C. The simple way of arriving at how man procures God’s forgiveness is to observe teaching which mentions how to have “forgiveness” or “remission” of sin. It was prophesied “whosoever believeth in him (Christ, dm) shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10: 43). This belief, however, is not passive or dead (Jas. 2: 19-26). “Believeth” (pisteuonta) is in the accusative case, singular in number, masculine in gender, participle, and present tense (The Analytical Greek Lexicon, pg. 326). The contemplated belief, then, which leads to forgiveness is on going and active (see “John 3: 16, A Great Statement,” located in the archives). Furthermore, the scriptures enjoin acts in addition to the initial act of belief – acts which are “for the remission of sin” (Acts 2: 38, repentance and baptism). The totality of the teaching of the New Testament regarding how the non-Christian obtains the forgiveness of sin or salvation is: Belief (Jn. 8: 24, Heb. 11: 6), repentance (Acts 2: 38), confession of Jesus’ deity (Rom. 10: 9, 10), and water baptism (Acts 2: 38, 22: 16, see “Salvation,” accessed from the home page). Water baptism is the consummating act which puts one into Jesus Christ, where salvation is enjoyed (Gal. 3: 26, 27, 2 Tim. 2: 10). “I do not agree,” one objects. Remember, God is the offended and it is man’s responsibility as the offender to humbly comply with God’s terms of forgiveness – not argue and substitute his own plans and means!

IV. Man’s forgiveness of man’s sins in general

A. The Christians at Corinth were commanded to forgive the member who had been in sin (2 Cor. 2: 7, 6-9, I Cor. 5). The situation at Corinth did not involve a personal infraction against the individual members, as such (I Cor. 5, cf. Matt. 18: 15-17). It will be observed in this scenario, just as in the case regarding God’s forgiveness of man’s sins, the forgiveness was conditional – the sinner had repented (2 Cor. 2: 6).

V. Man’s forgiveness of man in cases of personal offences

A. One can personally sin against another (Matt. 18: 15-17). In such cases, there is a prescribed procedure that must be followed (ibid.). This forgiveness, however, is also conditional. “Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him,” Jesus teaches (Lk. 17: 3). If there is no repentance, there can be no forgiveness!

a. Hence, in all three possible areas of forgiveness – God’s forgiveness of man, man’s forgiveness of man’s sins in general, and man’s forgiveness of man in cases of personal offences – forgiveness is conditioned and contingent on the sinner complying with God’s terms of forgiveness.

Conclusion: The prophet said, “…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1: 18). To be forgiven means to be released and free of guilt! “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1: 5).

 

 

Seeing Yourself as God Sees You

Seeing Yourself as God Sees You

 

Recently I was talking with a group of women about body image issues and the strain our culture places on women as desperately try to become “beautiful” in the eyes of society standards. One woman brought up the fact that there was a country that once had no television, and no real issue with anorexia. Apparently, once that country became media-ready and televisions invaded the land, they noticed an increase (up to 30%) of girls who were showing signs of anorexia. The “image plague” struck their society and began to change the girls in their midst. Body image, and the perception of beauty, changed.
The reality of “beauty” in our culture is quite deceiving. Just walk down your local toy store doll aisle, and look at the unrealistic proportions of the fashion dolls; each one modeling perfect hair, long legs, and overall body measurements that if translated to the average woman’s shape would look pretty silly in real life. Yet somehow, today’s girl looks at these dolls and craves similar curves, and sometimes even starves herself to achieve the tiny waistline, and plans for surgical procedures to augment her shape in other ways.
Also, think about the periodical displays at our local check out counter, look at the airbrushed pictures on the latest magazines. The young starlets that show up on the covers of these magazines are not exactly as they appear in print. A photo shopped nip here, a graphic tuck there, and voila! Perfection. We understand that what we see is not always what truth, but the impact of the media’s message is heard loud and clear by today’s girl. Strive for extreme perfection. Unfortunately, even in this airbrushed age, we can get caught in the trap feeling inferior to the false presentations on the newsstand.
Beyond the intangible expectations of our society, we as Christian women answer to a higher calling. We look to the Lord for our worth, and our acceptance. The only expectations and approval we should seek are that of our Father in heaven. And there is great news for us: God loves us. He adores us! He created us to be wonderful, diverse, and not anything like the media’s call to be an unattainable shape. God calls us to be His daughters. His followers. His servants. And you know what? The Almighty God loves us – loves you – just the way you are. And you are beautiful to Him!
In this women’s issue package from Jennifer Devlin, readers will understand the root of true beauty and happiness, the dangers of comparison, and receive practical helps for feeling beautiful in God’s sight.

You are Beautiful to God

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Familiar saying, but do we understand the magnitude of this thought in relation to the way God sees us? God looks upon us with love, and sees us as a beautiful creature He created. He loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to provide a way for us to enjoy eternal fellowship with Him.
Somehow, on our worst hair day, or the time of the month when our clothes fit a bit tighter and our nerves are on edge, it is hard to imagine that the God of all creation would consider us beautiful. But He does. Even on our bad hair days! Society, on the other hand, will try and tell us that beauty is only skin deep – and that the newest procedures, products, and pills will be the answer to our most pressing image issues. Which will we believe? The cosmetic industry’s marketing mantra, or the Father who created us in His image?
God is head over heels in love with you and me, and desires for us to reflect His light to the world. Can you imagine? We can stand firm on this truth, knowing that God will always look to the beauty within us; the Spirit’s presence that guides us and helps us reflect the true beauty that comes from being a child of God Most High. Don’t toss to and fro to the tide of advertising schemes and skewed image requirements – stand strong on God’s Word, and delight in the promise that it is our inner beauty that pleases God. — JD
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge\u2014that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Comparison Trap

A friend once told me that women dress up to impress other women more than to receive approval from men. You know, I think she was right! Just look at how we, as women, plan our clothing and accessories — intentional and thoughtful. Thinking, rethinking, changing, and constantly assessing the outcome. Most men don’t even notice the details we spend hours planning. But women; they notice right away! Typical conversations may sound something like this:
New earrings?
Yes, they are! Nice shoes, where’d you get them?
Oh, at the store down the street. Thanks for noticing…
That sweater is a great color on you.
Have you lost weight? You look terrific!
Yes, I’ve been on the latest diet plan. Let me tell you all about it…

The niceties of conversation move from one topic to the next, but women somehow always incorporate image and presentation. Deep within, behind those acknowledgments and compliments, potentially lays another layer of observation – comparison. The earrings are better than someone else’s. The shoes must have been expensive. She looks so much nicer than another friend. Or, the comparisons may actually include the tragic comparison over weight issues. As women continually compare, compete, and cry over their current state of appearance, we fall into the snare set by the enemy. Today’s culture can hold us captive as we compare ourselves to others, the world, and the standards society sets for us…if we’re not careful to avoid the comparison trap. — JD

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Practical Steps to Beauty

Friend, you are beautiful to God. You matter to Him, no matter what your shape or size. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and as a believer, the Holy Spirit dwells within you and guides you into all truth.
And yet, as you and I live in the world, we constantly hear messages that can make us feel a level of discontent. As we end this package’s sessions together, and have looked into comparisons, culture, and contentment, what’s a woman to do? How can we live victoriously as a believer and a woman who is beautiful in God’s eyes?
Here are some easy steps to understanding your true beauty:
  • Turn off the television when programs air that support unhealthy self image messages and stop buying magazines that promote unhealthy body shapes — keep away from the messages and media images that perpetuate culture’s unattainable standards.
  • Stay in the Word of God – especially seeking out verses that describe our worth to God, our beauty in His sight, and our standing in victory through Jesus Christ. Understand that those verses apply to you, your life, and the shape you are today.
  • Understand what you want to change about yourself and why – are you seeking change because of society’s demands, or because of a true inner desire? Evaluate motives, and only act on your desires if they will lead to personal goals being met instead of pressure from outside forces.
  • Most importantly, remind yourself daily with the truth that you are beautiful to God! — JD
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

 

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God Knows Best: Even If It Doesn’t Seem So

By Danni Andrew
Guest Writer

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

My life has been an uproar lately. I have not been able to write, nor have I been able to think clearly. The time is fast approaching marking “one year”, since my Mother had her stroke. Soon after will be one year since I was forced to put her into a nursing home. Not long after will be … one year since she breathed her last on this planet.

When one person leaves such a huge void in my life, I am at a loss as to what to do about it. My life was not my own for so many years while I cared for the needs of my Mother. My dreams lay at the door, waiting for the moment when I could pick them up again. I do not regret one moment of the time spent with her. She needed me, and I needed to be needed!

God knew what my needs were before the words were even a breath. As I begged God to show me what to do to help my Mom, it became very clear that it wasn’t about what I wanted. I simply wanted my Mom back. I wanted her to get up off of that bed and tell me to quit being so bossy, just one more time! It wasn’t meant to be. It was her time and I needed to let her go peacefully. As much as I didn’t want to!

In those moments in time when I don’t have a clue what to do next, God does! When my head is hanging and my heart is broken, God knows what the next step is. God knows how much I hurt. He also knows that His plan is so much better. My Mom used to say, “If I could just get some rest I would feel better.” Well, Mom finally got the rest she has been wanting for such a long time.

As I stand here looking at my own dreams, I find it hard to pick them up. Somewhere in my sadness I must remind myself that it is ok to be sad, but I must also move on. My inability to write has been because of the loss of my Mom. Her words ring in my ears, “Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and do what you have to do!” I have allowed myself to get bogged down in depression long enough. She lived a good life, and now so must I.

While I still feel like Job a bit, I am becoming more and more excited about the life that is before me. The door is opening and I must walk through it. My Mom would want me to. She was the one that read every Devotion I ever wrote. She was the one that always said, “Go for it!”

“I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,” declares the LORD, “and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.”Jeremiah 29:14

While taking care of my Mom was not exactly “exile”, as I enjoyed my time with her, it was still somewhat of a deviation from what I had planned. It is a road I will never be sorry for taking.

You never know what the plans are that God has for you. You cannot know the road He will take you on. I learned many things about myself while taking care of my Mother – lessons that God felt I needed to learn. I am more patient now. I am somehow quieter as well. I am more reflective than I was before. My Mother and I spent the last eight months of her life studying the Bible. God knew all of this. He knew that I needed her just as much or more than she needed me! My life has been enriched because of the time spent with her. I am thankful for that time. My writing is much better now than it was before, and somehow God knew that too.

By His Stripes We Are Healed-Isaiah 53

53 Who really believed what we heard? Who saw in it the Lord’s great power?[a]

2 He was always close to the Lord. He grew up like a young plant, like a root growing in dry ground. There was nothing special or impressive about the way he looked, nothing we could see that would cause us to like him. 3 People made fun of him, and even his friends left him. He was a man who suffered a lot of pain and sickness. We treated him like someone of no importance, like someone people will not even look at but turn away from in disgust.

4 The fact is, it was our suffering he took on himself; he bore our pain. But we thought that God was punishing him, that God was beating him for something he did. 5 But he was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain. 6 We had all wandered away like sheep. We had gone our own way. And yet the Lord put all our guilt on him.

7 He was treated badly, but he never protested. He said nothing, like a lamb being led away to be killed. He was like a sheep that makes no sound as its wool is being cut off. He never opened his mouth to defend himself. 8 He was taken away by force and judged unfairly. The people of his time did not even notice that he was killed.[b] But he was put to death[c] for the sins of his[d] people. 9 He had done no wrong to anyone. He had never even told a lie. But he was buried among the wicked. His tomb was with the rich.

10 But the Lord was pleased with this humble servant who suffered such pain.[e] Even after giving himself as an offering for sin, he will see his descendants and enjoy a long life. He will succeed in doing what the Lord wanted. 11 After his suffering he will see the light,[f] and he will be satisfied with what he experienced.

The Lord says, “My servant, who always does what is right, will make his people right with me; he will take away their sins. 12 For this reason, I will treat him as one of my great people. I will give him the rewards of one who wins in battle, and he will share them with his powerful ones. I will do this because he gave his life for the people. He was considered a criminal, but the truth is, he carried away the sins of many. Now he will stand before me and speak for those who have sinned.”

1 Peter 5-Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

The Flock of God

5 Now I have something to say to the elders in your group. I am also an elder. I myself have seen Christ’s sufferings. And I will share in the glory that will be shown to us. I beg you to 2 take care of the group of people you are responsible for. They are God’s flock.[a] Watch over that flock because you want to, not because you are forced to do it. That is how God wants it. Do it because you are happy to serve, not because you want money. 3 Don’t be like a ruler over those you are responsible for. But be good examples to them. 4 Then when Christ the Ruling Shepherd comes, you will get a crown—one that will be glorious and never lose its beauty.

5 Young people, I have something to say to you too. You should accept the authority of the elders. You should all have a humble attitude in dealing with each other.

“God is against the proud,
but he is kind to the humble.”

6 So be humble under God’s powerful hand. Then he will lift you up when the right time comes. 7 Give all your worries to him, because he cares for you.

8 Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and eat. 9 Refuse to follow the devil. Stand strong in your faith. You know that your brothers and sisters all over the world are having the same sufferings that you have.

10 Yes, you will suffer for a short time. But after that, God will make everything right. He will make you strong. He will support you and keep you from falling. He is the God who gives all grace. He chose you to share in his glory in Christ. That glory will continue forever. 11 All power is his forever. Amen.

Final Greetings

12 Silas will bring this letter to you. I know that he is a faithful brother in Christ. I wrote this short letter to encourage you. I wanted to tell you that this is the true grace of God. Stand strong in that grace.

13 The church in Babylon[b] sends you greetings. They were chosen just as you were. Mark, my son in Christ, also sends his greetings. 14 Give each other a special greeting[c] of love when you meet.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

4 Ways to Stay Strong in Your Christian Faith

1. Remember that God is Always There

Even in the driest times, when you just don’t feel God’s presence, you need to remember that God is always there. He does not forget you. True faith is developed even when you don’t feel God.

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (NIV)

2. Do a Daily Devotional

Developing long-term habits is important to maintaining your faith. A daily devotional will keep you in the Word and enhance your prayer life. It will also keep you closer to God even when you struggle in your faith.

Philippians 2:12-13 – “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (NIV)

 

3. Get Involved

Many people become apathetic over time, because they do not feel connected to a church body. Some churches do not offer ways to connect. Yet, there are a lot of activities on campuses and in the community. You can even look into other ministries. The more connected you are to the body of Christ, the more likely it is that you will maintain your faith.

Romans 12:5 – “so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (NIV)

4. Talk to Someone

If you feel separated from God or you find yourself backsliding, talk to someone. Try your oldyouth leader, a pastor, or even your parents. Talk through your issues and pray with them about your struggle. They can offer insight into how they have worked through their own struggles.

Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (NIV)

How to Avoid Temptation to Sin

Human beings are naturally inclined towards sin. Everyone feels the urge to sin at some point because sinning gives us tangible yet fleeting benefits at the cost of moral and spiritual ones. Temptation is the urge to sin. We’re judged by the degree to which we thwart our temptations. Because of humanity’s sinful nature, everyone, at some point, fails to resist their temptations. Luckily, we’re never alone in our quest to thwart our temptations. In the words of the Bible: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 English Standard Version) In this guide, you’ll learn strategies for avoiding temptation and for combating it when it does find you.

STEP 1–Identify your temptations and the personal flaws that create them. Everyone has their own temptations. Though Jesus never sinned, even he was tempted to. (Hebrews 4:15) Spend a few moments self-reflecting to identify your personal temptations. Then, pin down the personality traits that lead you to temptation – maybe you’re insecure or you’re never satisfied with yourself. Perhaps you prioritize pleasure over responsibility. No two people are exactly alike. Your temptations might resemble those of your friends, family, or other associates, but there’s also a chance that they’re unique to you. A priest, counselor, or other trusted person can help you discover your unique temptations and the flaws from which these temptations developed.If you’re having a hard time defining exactly what your temptations are, begin by pinpointing the things in your life that make you sad, then try to find a thought process or habit you possess that leads to these things. For instance, let’s say you’re in a committed relationship with a woman you love but you frequently feel intense guilt because you flirt with other women. Search your heart. Ask yourself, “what do I think or do that makes me want to act like this?” After some reflection, you may find, for instance, that you’re worried about whether you’re still attractive. The source of your temptation in this case is your sense of insecurity.

STEP 2—Set reasonable goals for fighting temptation. Your aim when fighting temptation should take into account the fact that, as a human being, you’re incapable of perfection. Don’t set an un-achievable goal like “I will never sin again.” If you do, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Realize that you will inevitably sin again (and again and again). Set a realistic goal that takes this into account.For instance, if you’ve been neglecting your child’s vocal recitals in favor of nights spent at home watching TV, you might set a goal of never missing another vocal recital (except for emergencies) and of reducing your time spent watching TV every week by four hours. This goal is well within your grasp.
For a few very serious sins, it is absolutely necessary to set a zero-tolerance goal – for instance, you should obviously never commit murder or marital infidelity. These sins can cause irreparable damage to others’ lives.

STEP 3—Take responsibility for yourself. You were blessed with free will for a reason. Don’t waste your opportunity to act decisively against your personal temptation by giving into the separate temptation of inaction! Stand up and take action now. Make it your goal going forward to not give in to your temptation. The hardest part of overcoming your temptation can be getting started. Don’t sabotage your journey before it’s begun by telling yourself you can’t do it.When Jesus died, he gave us authority over the forces of evil. (Mark 16:17) Never fear or run from the forces of evil in your own life. With hard work and sincere faith, nothing is beyond your grasp.

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Please Forgive Me Father

Praise God, that you feel the burden of your sins and that you feel the desire to repent! Be glad at this: your soul is not dead, your heart is not empty and your conscience is not numb or your sins would not weigh on you.

So it’s time to give it up! Whatever has happened, has happened. God lives to forgive. Any sins up to this very moment have been cast into the Sea of Forgetfulness once you turned them over to God. There are no “same sins” with God. They are erased. The slate is clean and you start fresh.

Relax in that. God is not looking at you and holding your past against you. He sees you through the loving and forgiving eyes of Jesus. The second you relied on Jesus, the power of forgiveness was granted.

Each time you turn to Him, it’s granted. Each time you turn to Him, you’ll see less of your sin and more of God.

May you know the depth and breadth of His peace and love.

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