Browsing Category: Encouragement

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Shackled by a Heavy Burden?

“Shackled by a heavy burden,
‘neath a load of guilt and shame…”
The the hand of Jesus touched me,
And now I am no longer the same.”

The Gaither Vocal Band wrote the lyrics to this gospel song, which after a walk in the woods one morning with the pup, kept coming to mind and I began to sing it.  I was admiring the beauty of the freshly fallen snow but as I glanced at the trees they were so heavy laden with that thick weighty load bearing upon the branches.  I am sure that some of them were close to breaking and I thought of how familiar that is to us when we are full of unconfessed sin.

Sin is a very heavy load to bear, after all, the Father didn’t design us to carry that kind of a weight around!  It is a weight that will eventually cause damage physically and spiritually. Physically we hide our sin and by hiding or stashing it we become unhealthy in our actions trying to cover up our mess.  And what about the guilt that we carry around because of our sin? It could be from something we’ve done or said or we might live in denial pretending that we have done nothing wrong yet wonder why our happiness and joy is stifled, only a facade.

Spiritually speaking, we might do likewise as we pretend that our walk is just fine and that all is well.  When in fact we for some reason have a difficult time with people, you know, those certain ones who remind of us of a place we would rather not visit.  Or those especially nice ones who make us uncomfortable because they seem so clean and right. Finally, there is a void when we don’t know Jesus and He doesn’t reside or dwell within, don’t you just want peace with yourself and with others!

“Then the hand of Jesus touched me,
And now I am no longer the same…”

I have learned that sin is a weight that is not intended to be carried. My sin and guilt was so overwhelming that I wanted to die…my load of guilt was nearly unbearable! I am unable to soar bearing its load.  God created me and you to fly like an eagle and soar to great heights. But by carrying an unnecessary burden, I become handicapped so to speak, unable to attain those things that God has destined for me!  But there is a remedy…

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart–these, O God, You will not despise.” (NKJ)

God delights when we turn from sin! There is no degree of one sin over another, it is all unacceptable to Him. And there is nothing sweeter than being released from that burden which stood in the way as a road block between me and God! No more guilt, no more shame and one thing is for sure, the world takes on a whole new look when it isn’t skewed with our sin and guilt!  You see, God provides enough grace and mercy daily for every wrong we confess.  After all, He delights in our fellowship and right standing with Him because of the sacrifice His Son Jesus made on the cross.  When Jesus rose from the grave on Resurrection morning, He made a way for us to have life and a relationship with Father God. It was extreme love, given for us!

John 15:13 says it clearly, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (NKJ)

And like the song continues…

“He touched me, oh He touched me,

And oh the joy that floods my soul!

Something happened and now I know,

He touched me and made me whole.” 

So if it is unforgiveness, adultery, abuse, a besetting sin, the sin of unbelief, you just name it and give Him your burden, don’t delay, it belongs at the foot of the cross! Jesus blood covers it and God has already forgiven it!

Visit Grace and Truth for more encouragement.

When the Bootstraps Break!

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Desperate for the Sonshine

Visiting over at Grace & Truth today just in case you need encouragement!

Most of us know the saying “pick yourself up by your bootstraps”–a saying that basically means “quit feeling sorry for yourself and get on with your life.”  From a worldly perspective, it sounds like the right thing to do; but it can sure put a guilt trip on those who–hard as they tug–are not strong enough to handle life and its stresses.  Let me just say that there are times when life is just challenging and stuff happens.  So where do we run when it does?

As a young girl I learned early on to fend for myself.  I developed the tendency to depend on no one but me.  I left home at the early age of 15, became a mother at 17 and thought I was getting along just fine.  However, God did not design us to live independently and apart from Him!  I continued to mooch off others and be involved in relationships that were rather one-sided because of my selfish, me first survival mentality.  I learned that if I were going to survive, I would have to keep picking myself up and moving along.

My world came crashing down around me as my first marriage crumbled into adultery and alcoholism in an effort to find true love.  I became overwhelmed by the fact that I was insufficient as a wife, mother and human being; I was miserable.  The only way I could see out of my hopelessness was to take my life.  After all, I had made a genuine mess of everything.  That became a turning point for me as, thankfully, God began stirring my heart and I finally began to think about somebody besides myself.  What would happen to my children?

For the next few years, I sought help by going to church.  I felt the arms of Jesus through the sweet women of the church who reached out to me and encouraged me along.  My wild, spirited youngest son would run up and down the isles of church and I would just cry because I could not make him behave.  A dear saint would gently stop him by scooping him up and holding him through the rest of the service while I sat there blubbering over my inability to control him.  Oh, how those women made me feel loved and ‘church’ became a comfortable place to be.

However, this warm and fuzzy place to be did not fill the longing in my heart.  I began to do a lot of thinking Nyborg  0022about church and what this all meant as far as the Bible and what role it would play in my life.  I could not really understand most of it and the more I questioned the more confused I seemed to get.

It was during that time that I began to periodically listen to Focus on the Family during the noon hour.  I would even tell my youngest son that he had to have quiet time for that half hour just so I could listen.  The help for hurting families began to pique my curiosity, so that I would look forward to fitting that half hour into my day as a stay-at-home mom.

Then I discovered Christian television and the 700 Club.  When I heard the stories of how Christ had  intervened in the lives of people just like me, I began to have hope.  I wanted to be helped just like they had been.  The turning point in my life came when I prayed with Pat Robertson, extending my hand toward the television and I received Christ as I prayed the sinner’s prayer.  This profound moment came at the age of 30.

The most notable difference to me was that the Bible, when I would read it, came alive for me.  I also learned through trial and error that I was better off to grab the extended hand of my God instead of the boot straps that kept breaking when I would pull, trying to pick myself up!

Jesus has rocked my world and the process of being turned right-side up from wrong-side down has been a wild journey thus far, not easy a lot of the time but so worth the journey.  God has filled me with peace and joy even when the road has been rough and rocky.

Friend, if you are tired of trying to make life work, will you grab the extended hand of the Father? He is waiting.  I am not saying it will be easy, but you will begin a journey that you will never regret as you begin a new life in Christ!

Are You At the Breaking Point…

Bearing the weight!
Feel like you are ready to snap?

Has the bottom fallen out of your world?  Life can be devastating with an unexpected change takes place in our lives!

If you are like me you like to think that you are sort of in control of your environment.  Ha, that’s really kind of a joke isn’t it!  I’m talking about how quickly things can change then our ‘plans’ have to also adapt.

I have figured out that when I get too comfortable and appear to have all my ducks in a row that I may as well gear up for the bottom to fall out of my well laid plans.  It only takes a phone call, a misinterpreted conversation, an unanticipated financial expense and wham, what now?

What is it that you are ‘planning’? A summer vacation? Visiting family or friends? Taking the kids on a surprise fun trip? It doesn’t always go this way but many times, the plans can get thwarted when the unexpected comes. Could be a sudden illness, financial mishap, death of a loved one, disaster…

Sorry friends but this is life! And it is full of surprises! The good and unfortunately the not so good!

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So here may be a good place to ask yourself some valid questions…

  • What is my goal here?
  • What is important, why am I planning this and for whose benefit?
  • What is the result I hope to see from the experience?
  • What is my plan “B”?

Some valid questions when stress reveals itself in your world!

The following verse hit me one time reminding me first and foremost of Who is in control and of placing my focus on the One who is in control when things begin to slip downward, from Isaiah 59:19b (NKJ)

Isaiah 59.19

The enemy of our souls really loves to make our lives confusing and frustrating because when we find ourselves in an uncertain mess we can tend to give up and forget our purpose.

However when I read that verse, there is hope,  and it is also imperative!  You must remember to act on what God has done when the enemy rears his ugly head.  And that involves looking at the truth and the verse in its context!  I have felt hopeless before and it isn’t fun and undoubtedly I will feel that way again.  Look at what is said in the verses before the one above beginning at :14

“14 Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot enter. 15 So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him That there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor;”

Justice and righteousness are not to be found, truth and equity are forbidden.  Without truth, he who walks away from evil is prayed upon.  But…God saw this and He was moved to wonder where is the justice in this situation and where is the intercessor…God Himself would raise the standard by His own arm and righteousness as a breastplate and helmet.  God is not threatened by the enemy who has infiltrated the land.

Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him. 17 For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, Fury to His adversaries, Recompense to His enemies; The coastlands He will fully repay.

The first part of verse 19 states:

“So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun;”

What is it that has you in a stronghold, what has stolen your peace and joy?  The truth of the matter is that God is for you and not against you.  And please catch this truth…God's intentions toward you are always only for your good, always! You are His and He is ever mindful of… Click To Tweet

You may have let your circumstance overwhelm you as the enemy flooded your surrounding with things that hurt and caused pain and doubt.  Or by bringing you in a situation that you simply could no longer control. Check out the rest of this portion of Isaiah 59:

“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

Will you take heart by reading this truth? Will you not see that you have an advocate who wants to fill you with hope and peace?

Today in your messy state, look at the truth and simply agree with what is spoken by the One who loves you and only wants His best for you!

Lord, today I choose to focus on truth, the truth that you love me with an everlasting love. I am covered by the blood of the Lamb of God because He paid my ransom being the spotless sacrifice You required.  And I know Your Spirit is within me and I am covered by the full armor of God.  Lead me forth from this darkness that I may walk in Your light, making a difference for those around me and who may also be in the midst of a darkened place. I refuse to give up hope in Jesus’ name, Amen!

You may also like to read Blocked Goals.

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When You Don’t “Feel” Worthy

Do you have days when you just don’t feel like you are loved?

There used to be days when it was hard to imagine that I was really loved. Because of the many messes in my early years and the fallout, I struggled to believe that I was worthy of being loved.

Have you ever questioned how you could be worthy of love?

I want you to know that God has a heart for you!  When you are in Christ you are the apple of His eye!

“Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.  

Let Israel be glad in his Maker; Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.  

Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.  

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.”

These are the first four verses of Psalm 149 (NASB) and I want you to especially pay attention to the fourth verse.  In Christ we can count on the fact that God takes pleasure in us!

2 Cor 5-21

Do you suffer with anything?  Could be illness, loneliness, abandonment, grief, depression, confusion?  Please, take heart. The above Word says that God will beautify you, with salvation.  Look what the Lord has done!  By keeping your eye on the prize, and your gaze on Christ, God is glorifying Himself in you!  You are precious in His sight! But, you must believe it.  Say this with me, “I am the righteousness of Christ.”  Then keep saying it again and again until you truly begin to ‘walk’ in that reality!

The ESV translates verse four like this:

“For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.”

Maybe you are like me in thinking that God only wants perfect people. Oh friend that just ain’t so because there aren’t any perfect people, nope, we are all in process!

This process we are in could include our issues or afflictions that God uses to keep us humble and wholly dependent upon Him.  The hardest thing we can do is to embrace where God has us today! In so doing we will be ready for a promise to come, tomorrow.

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I want to give you some truth to counter the doubts you feel when you are in a low spot, when you are not feeling worthy…

Worthy of being loved…I have declared you forgiven of all your sins…Romans 5:1

…I see you as a holy one, a saint…Ephesians 1:1

…your life is complete in Christ…Colossians 2:10

I am significant…I empower you by My Spirit to be my witness…Acts 1:8

…You are a branch of the true vine, infused with life…John 15:1,5

…I designed and crafted you to do good works…Ephesians 2:10

I am totally secure…I have freed you forever from condemnation…Romans 8:1-2

…I have made you a citizen of heaven…Philippians 3:20

…I will complete to perfection the work I began in you…Philippians 1:6

Now what? Say to yourself, I believe! This is who I am, because God has said so for His Word has proved it. God will not renege on His Word. He can’t, it is who He is…”The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Will you trust God to lead you into believing that His Word is truth?

In so doing, you can trust Him to fulfill His promises.

You can walk unencumbered by doubt that kept you from believing that you matter. You are filled with value and precious because you are loved by God!

What’s Your Prognosis?

One fall back in 1997, I got a cold that settled in my bronchial tubes. (That seems to be where I am most vulnerable in my body.)  I couldn’t seem to get over it, developing a horrible cough that just wouldn’t abate.  I am not a ‘run to the clinic’ kind of girl and try to use natural remedies that often do work. However, I would seem to get things settled down and then the cough would reappear. My husband kept threatening me with the “You better get to the clinic or I am going to take you myself!” threat. Poor guy, my coughing at night didn’t afford him a very restful night’s sleep!

Well, my teas, vitamin C’s, water, steam…you name it I tried it, could only bring it to rest for a short period of time and then it would return. I seemed to be losing some weight with this and I wasn’t feeling quite right so I finally responded to my guy’s final request to get to the doctor.

 

The trip to the clinic evolved into chest X-rays and blood work and as I was waiting for the doctor to come in after the testing was completed, something shifted in my spirit and I could tell that he was lingering outside the door (barely open) where I could hear soft discussion over my X-ray before he came into the room where I was seated. I knew something wasn’t quite right. And the doctor revealed to me that there were some suspicious spots in my right lung that would need further examination via a CAT scan. Oh boy, I have to admit that I was becoming concerned with what was in my lung. Well I was put on antibiotics, told I didn’t have pneumonia and sent home to wait for the test the following week and rest, rest, rest to get over whatever it was that I had.

The physicians decided that because of the precarious location of these spots that a biopsy couldn’t be done and the CAT machine that was local wasn’t conclusive enough so I was referred to Duluth to have another try and opinion to determine the next step in this journey.

James 5.15

Oh my, this time in my life God was beginning to teach me of Himself as Jehovah Rophe, our God who heals, Click To Tweet and let me tell you, I was learning a huge amount faith in this area as I began to call upon my Jehovah Rophe! I did the biblical account of James 5, going to my church for public prayer and it was right at Christmas time, yikes, I felt so awkward interrupting our lovely service for MY concern at this special time, but I wanted to be obedient to His Word! I was anointed and prayed for by the congregation, then off to Duluth the following week for my second CT scan.

My daughter lives in Duluth and I was able to stay with her. Of course she insisted on coming with me to the appointment and I agreed so we could have a second pair of ears upon consultation! Their remedy was that I would be cut open from front to back  under my rib cage to remove my two spots that were just too close to my heart to do a safe biopsy. I was to plan to be off work for two months! I haven’t had a surgery since having my youngest son and I wasn’t really welcoming this idea of someone placing their hands in my body! But the doctor knows best (doesn’t he?) and I would go home to prepare for this new adventure. I want you to know that I anticipated going to Duluth to have them find nothing after being prayed over, but God had some other lessons in mind for me.

 

Upon returning to work to let everyone know the plan, my coworker and friend said, “Aren’t you going to get a second opinion?” (Duh, well, ah, never thought of it!)  I am so new to this stuff that I didn’t even think of it, don’t you just trust your doctor? (I am learning!) I was on the phone to Mayo clinic the next day and within eleven days my husband took me on the seven hour journey to Rochester! I have to say that prior to that appointment, my precious prayer group did come to my home and we gathered down in our family room as they too anointed me with oil, laid hands on me and prayed for me. My husband who doesn’t usually partake in that kind of ‘thing’ totally blessed me by also following suit with the others and prayed for me (even audibly!) That was a huge blessing!

I had recently discovered a new kind of praise and worship music from “Down Under” at the Hillsong church. We used a lot of their music during our prayer and praise nights and I rather felt God gave me this song to hold on to and sing on my trip to Mayo:

Mayo Clinic is a very quiet and somber place to be but I had that song on my lips and in my heart  for most of my visit there. Whether walking to and from appointments, gently whistling or singing that song, I was claiming the truth in those lyrics for my situation and God used it to sustain me!

You know friends, I am fully aware that not everyone’s situation turns out the same.  I also know that God works individually in each of our lives and two people can be dealing with the same thing while God chooses to answer differently in each case. In my case, my third CAT scan appeared to reveal no cancer. I was praising Him all the way home and beyond! Someone else’s story is quite the opposite as they get ready to undergo the process of some sort of treatment to try to deter or get rid of the invasive disease. Would I be praising God all the way home if I had received the sad news that I did have cancer? Of course I want to say absolutely but honestly, probably not!

There is power in praise, and for one thing it raises our level of faith and helps us keep from being… Click To Tweet God is in control!  And for whatever reason and because He sees the big picture that I am unable to see, He lovingly allows things to go certain ways because the outcome will teach us to walk closer to Him and always bring Him glory! Provided we posture ourselves to a position of surrender.

1Thes5.16-18

Please friend, if you are in a place of uncertainty, fix your gaze on Your maker, He has you in the palm of His hand.  Look to Him and praise His name for you can trust your life and all you love to His care!

From Hebrews 11:1 the Message paraphrase:

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.

If you are in a tough situation right now, physically, emotionally or relationally,

I would love to pray with you and for you!  It’s what the faith-filled body of Christ does for each other!

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The God of All Comfort…

Storms Brewing
Storm’s A Brewing

 

Life is sure difficult today and maybe you agree. God reminds us that we are to bring encouragement to those who are having hard days. Whether it is depression, loss/grief, illness or how about uncertainty for the future, your experiences in life are partially intended to bring comfort to those in need.

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These verses from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV) spell it out for us:

2 Cor 1.3-4

As God brings hurting people through my pathway, I am burdened to pray for them and hopefully bring words of comfort to their seemingly hopeless situations.  Oh to be the hands and feet of Jesus!Line Break

How about you?  Are you feeling overwhelmed with life today?  Only God can make a way where there seems to be no way… If I can pray for you, please let me know!  Don’t let the heaviness of your situation weigh you down, our burdens are meant to be shared. Prayer is available here!