Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Set Free 12 – Not Good Enough

There are so many times we struggle with not feeling good enough. This is a struggle we can keep returning to without meaning to. Satan preys on our feelings. His main goal is to get us away from focusing on Christ, and it doesn’t matter who gets hurt along the way. Even if it’s you. Even if it’s me.

He’s gonna try his hardest to make us feel not good enough.

Here’s the thing. We aren’t good enough.
We never will be.

Not by ourselves anyway.
This realization can get us down, and while we’re down we’re useless.
I knew it.

Do you see the cycle?

Let’s get a fresh perspective, shall we?
Come with me – read our text, Psalm 34.
I’d love to draw out some key verses, but I want your thoughts first.

DO: Grab your journal and highlight verses in this chapter of Psalms that shine and soothe.
DO: Please share your answers in our community (comment below) keeping in mind that your answer may be different than mine, or than someone else’s. That’s the beauty of God’s Word; it’s alive and can be used for the varying needs of God’s children.

The verses that touched my aching heart in this chapter were especially verses 5, 7, 10, and 18.
7 and 18: being surrounded by God’s angels, and by the LORD Himself; my broken heart is of great value to Him.
10: I shall not be lacking any good thing. My heart is pure, valuable, precious and complete to Him. Any ‘not-good-enough’ is filled in with Christ.

And last but not least, verse 5:
Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.” HCSB

Looking to Him, Creator, wise, holy… GOD, and not being ashamed? How can this be? I look in the mirror and feel ashamed, and I’m me. How can I look to God and not feel ashamed?
Because, Sweet Thing, He chose you, made you, knows you and loves you.

And not only that, but He fills in where we fall short.

Keep a finger in Psalm 34, but go take a look at these verses: Colossians 2:10, and then 2 Peter 1:3.

When He looks at you, He sees Christ’s completion.
Colossians 2:10 “And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” NKJV emphasis mine
(or notice in HCSB, “And you have been filled by Him…” emphasis mine)

Because He is the One who completes us. That’s why He doesn’t see the not-good-enough us that we see! Because He sees perfection. Because He sees Christ.

2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” NIV

We get to participate in His nature.
With this mindset, of course we wouldn’t feel ashamed.
(Before we get too heady about this though, please read how Christ handles this lofty position in Philippians 2:6-8.)

Q: In Philippians 2:7, how did Christ respond to being equal with God?

Turn back to Psalm 34. Here’s the thing I’d like you to see.
When we’re feeling down, and feeling not good enough, we are not seeing ourselves the way God does. We are seeing ourselves as pre-Christ creations, not as the Christ-filled, Christ-transformed (2 Cor 5:17) creation that we are.

More importantly than that, we are not seeing Christ at all.

Yep. You read that right. Re-read Psalm 34 and answer the following questions – personally in your journal, or also in our community in the comments below.

Q: In verse 1, what does David say?
Q: In verse 2, who does David boast in?
Q: In verse 3, who are we to join in magnifying?

Do you get the idea? Keep going if you like, through the whole chapter, making a list of all the times, or circling in your Bible like I did, that you see the following exchange:
I praise – He protects
I look to Him – He is near.
Focus on Him – Lose all shame.

I’d like to close with a concept the Lord impressed upon my heart in a Bible study I attended 5 years ago that totally upended my view of God, and transformed my view of relationship with Him from Master-Creator/Slave-servant to Father/Child and all the love, understanding and acceptance that comes with it.

We were looking at 1 Peter 2:3-10.
(I’d like you to glance at it too, so you can have an idea where we were at. Notice the repeat from Psalm 34:8 and 1 Peter 2:3? Don’t you love how God ties things together?)
We looked at the concept of a stone, and how Christ is our cornerstone, holding it all together. God impressed upon me that night how precious we are (vs 9) to Him, and He gave my heart this picture (He often uses pictures with me because He knows it works and stays with me longer. You?):
Picture a diamond, pressured, cut, chiseled, carved. Now picture the prongs where it is set are actually the hands of God. We are that diamond or precious stone.

Repeat these words aloud until you believe them: “I am a stone, set like a jewel in the heart and hands of God.”

Know that. Know, too, that for that stone to be beautiful, it does require pressure, change (2 Cor 5:17 again!) and cutting and carving.
No stone starts out perfect. That’s why I said at the beginning today that we aren’t enough.
Because we’re not enough.
But with Jesus, we are beautiful, and with Jesus, we shine.
Shine, sister. That’s how He sees you, and that’s how He wants you to see yourself.

You are so precious to Him.

I hope you’ve been blessed by this segment on being Set Free. I know I have. We will be starting up another series Lord willing near the beginning of September, but should have a few devotionals in between.

How did your verse-memorizing go?
I’d love for you to share a short video on Twitter or Instagram of you reciting them (use tag #faithspokenof). It doesn’t have to be perfect. Remember what we learned about perfectionism, and today about not being good enough. That’s not the point. The point is you’re hiding His precious Words in your heart.

If you haven’t started yet, that’s fine too- you can start today. 

God bless you this week and we’ll see you soon! 
You can connect in the meantime on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Set Free 11 - On Surrendering Control

Text: Matthew 6:25-24, Matthew 7:7-11

It’s so so difficult to surrender control to God. Of anything; decisions, outcome, relationships, circumstance… you name it.

So, what does the Bible have to say on the matter? We know God loves humility, and we know He rewards those who seek Him.

James 4:6b “…“God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” NLT
Also seen in Proverbs 3:34 and 1 Peter 5:5

Hebrews 11:6 “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” NLT emphasis mine

But when it gets down to the day-to-day, the nitty gritty of a situation, our emotions get in the way, and then our humanness prevents us from actually surrendering control.
Anybody like me in that? It’s a whole lot easier to know we need to give it over to God, and say we’re giving it over to God… even pray that we’re giving it over to God than it is to really hand it over. Really, truly rest in God’s decisions on the matter, rest in His outcome.

It’s a trust issue. When we want control over a situation, or person, or whatever, what our heart is saying is “God, I don’t really trust that you’ll do what’s best here.” Or even “God, I love him more than you do, so I’m gonna do this my way, to make sure this turns out right.”

How many times must God sigh and watch us in this foolishness. We are foolish sometimes. Of course God loves us and our loved ones more than we will ever be able to comprehend. And of course God’s wisdom far surpasses our own. Always. But why do we still want to hold on so tight?
It’s lack of trust. That maybe somehow God’s gonna mess it up.

Am I right?

Q: What are some areas in your life you have had trouble giving over to God?
Q: What are the biggest ones right now that you’re holding the tightest to?

Don’t you think it’d be more refreshing to just let God work? I’m not saying we sit and be spiritual couch potatoes, but really think about God, the God of no limits, and the God with the ultimate imagination – how much greater He could orchestrate an outcome than we could?

Romans 11:33 “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” NLT

James 1:17 “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” NASB

And from our text:
Matthew 7:11 “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?” NLT

Practically, though, what does that mean for our day to day?

Good question. This is one that I believe many of us who have control-freak tendencies would like to know. (I like to phrase it that way, ‘tendencies’, because I believe if we label ourselves a Control-Freak, part of us inside gives up on that ever changing, and nothing is too hard for God, amen? If it’s labeled as a tendency, then its no less a redeemable sin than anything else we’re redeemed from.) We like to have a plan of action, a checklist to follow.

Good news, bad news. I’ll break the bad news first. There is not a checklist to follow. Every person is different, all situations are different, so every believer’s plan of action looks a little different.
Ready for the good news? Any plan of action can be summed up the same.


I want you to take a few minutes today and take a really close look at God’s creation. I mean, close-up. If you have the opportunity to get nose-to-nose with a flower, take a look at the intricate detail, the great beauty that God planned, implemented, and sustained.

Q: Do you think God is involved in those steps of your life? (Planning, implementation, and sustaining.)
Q: Why or why not? explain

If you answered no, then I’d like to politely ask you to reconsider. I know God has planned for you to be you, in the specific time, family, era and everything on purpose. He implemented the course of action needed to get you where He wants you today, in spite of, and even through our choices as a free-will creature. This is where I have to refer back to Romans 11:33, because if I think too long and hard on our free-will compared to God’s will, and how the two are interlaced and play off of each other, I get confused. I have such a finite mind, and this is just one more way that I realize God’s ways are greater than mine, and I must stop there. You?
And He definitely sustains us. If you haven’t already, please read our text from Matthew 6.

I had never really applied this passage to being a control-freak before, but it fits so well. Because at the root of all control tendencies is a lack of trust. We, for whatever reason, don’t absolutely, from the core of our being, trust God’s best. We either don’t trust that His ‘best’ is really that great, or we don’t trust that He will come through. Either way it’s a lack of trust.

So, as with almost all trust-relationships, trust must be learned. I encourage you to study God. Take a look at His ultimate plan from the beginning, and how, rocky road though it may have been, He sustained the way for Christ to be born.
He created the world.
He created you.

Do you see what I’m getting at? Study His miracles. Look over your shoulder at where He’s brought you, and how you’re stronger for it.

Do you see wounds there when you look back? Certainly. I’m sure that’s probably a lot of the reason it’s hard to trust Him. But can you try to see the bigger picture? And if you can’t see the bigger picture, maybe He’s still working – have you thought of that? That maybe you’re still in the middle of the picture, and it won’t be until later you’ll see the outcome?

Can you trust Him? Can you trust that He is indeed Good, and Wise, and most of all,
He’s got this!

Let’s close with Psalm 100:5.

Psalm 100:5 “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

All generations, including yours. He is good. And He always will be.

Trust Him, and little by little, you’ll learn to let go.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Set Free 10 - Stuck in the Mundane

When you first started a relationship with God, it was probably all you thought about, off and on throughout the day. Or, if you’ve been raised in a Christian environment, maybe it wasn’t all that new? I know we all have ups and downs, highs and lows; times of spiritual power and understanding, and times where we feel so very very human.
That’s okay.

It has taken me a long time to become okay with this. It’s just not okay to be okay with staying in a low spot.
Are you following me? It’s okay to have a spiritual low, or a rough patch, it’s just not okay to be content to stay put there. Crave the more. Crave the uphill.

Sometimes these lows can come from other events in our lives, such as illness, fatigue, a death, or some other thing that has got you physically or emotionally drained.

The good news? That being drained, that extreme low makes room for Jesus. So if you’re in a slump, exalt in the fact that you’ve got more more room for Jesus to fill you up.
More of Him. More grace.

And who doesn’t want that?

We have a few passages to look at, but the first I’d like you to read is 2 Kings 4:1-7

While many of us don’t have to go and borrow emptiness from our friends, this beautiful story shows just how ready and willing God is to just fill us up! The more emptiness the better. And did you notice the same thing I did? Look again at verse 7. There was some left over. God didn’t just look at her current need, and just exactly meet that, He reached down and in not so many words said, “Daughter, let Me be your source. Let Me be your Provider.” And so He will do with each of us. Physically, emotionally, and, yes, Spiritually.

A verse you can probably tell by now is one of my favorites, one I  cling to, especially during these dry spells, is Psalm 103:14.

Psalm 103:14 “for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” NIV

And from that dust, that dirt, we are made into clay vessels. Vessels to hold more of Him.

2 Corinthians 4:7 “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” NLT

He knows we are fragile. He knows, too, that this fragility brings Him more glory.

Our next passage is Psalm 62. Please take the time to read it now.
Look at verse 3.
Q: How does the enemy view us? (You might need to look at NLT or NIV for this one.)

The enemy views us as crumbled anyway. And he will not hesitate to kick us when we’re down. Already broken pieces are easier to break, don’t you agree? And even though the enemy is persistent, he is going to pick the easiest way to get us down. He’s going to try to get us at our most crumbled state and attack then.

Take heart, and now look at verses 5-8. I love these so much.

Psalm 62:5-8 “Let all that I am wait quietly before God,    for my hope is in him.He alone is my rock and my salvation,    my fortress where I will not be shaken.My victory and honor come from God alone.    He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.O my people, trust in him at all times.    Pour out your heart to him,
    for God is our refuge.” NLT emphasis mine

Q: What does verse 8 say we should do with our heart?

The core of us, our center, the lifeblood of all that is us, He asks us to pour out. Pour it out to Him!

Q: What happens when something is poured out?
Please give your insight on this question in the comments section. I’d love to hear your word-pictures!

Some things I came up with were that the container became empty. The worth of that which it once held was lost. The container became vulnerable.

Q: What happens when something is filled?
Again, please share your insight on this question in the comments section!

Some of my ideas were that the container’s identity might change based on what it holds. It is more stable. It is useful.

So let’s be emptied, then. These thoughts and reminders make it actually sound desirable, instead of something to be plagued with. The mundane, empty, dry spell may not actually be that bad. It’s just part of the process.
As long as we don’t stay empty. As long as we let Him fill us.
Let Him be the power in you. 2 Cor 4:7 bears repeating, yes?
I like this from the Message translation:

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!” MSG

Be encouraged in your emptiness. God hasn’t left your side.
Be encouraged if you don’t know what to do next. God knows what to do.
Be encouraged if you’re thrown down. You are not broken.
Be encouraged if you’re going through the worst. You’re getting in on the best.

Let’s close with verses from Psalm 62.
Psalm 62:11-12a “God has spoken plainly,    and I have heard it many times:Power, O God, belongs to you;unfailing love, O Lord, is yours.” NLT

Monday, August 19, 2013

Set Free 9 – Negative Thoughts and Words

It hits you when you’re at your weakest. When you’re tired. When something rubbed you the wrong way at work. When you didn’t get that raise. When you got reprimanded- whether or not it was your fault. When your husband was late home from work. When your dress was a bit tighter than you remembered. When you got laid off. When your child didn’t obey.

Whatever happened, it did not make you feel good about yourself, or your life.

And it replays again and again in your mind with “what-if’s” and “If only I’s” punctuating the story.

And then come the lies. Ones like “You’re not good enough.” “You’re a failure.” “You are trash!

And you believe it.

It’s the horrible downward spiral of negative thoughts and words.

But where does it come from?

Q: What is the primary source of negativity in your life? It may be your thoughts, it may be a person, or a media source, some combination of all of these. It may be something else entirely. Please write down your answer after careful thought. You may share if you keep your answer vague. Please remember this is not a gripe-fest. This is for healing.

Please read our text: Philippians 4:8-9 and Psalm 103:2-4

Fix your thoughts on what is true!

John 8:32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” NLT

Q: I would like for you to prayerfully consider this: When you have negative thoughts, do you believe they are an attack from Satan, or do you believe that it is your sin nature of doubt and pride showing up?
(it may be a combination of the two)

Knowing the source of the negativity help you tackle it.
If it is a lie from Satan, remind yourself of these precious words from Scripture:

Psalm 103:2-4 “Bless the Lord, O my soul,And forget not all His benefits:Who forgives all your iniquities,Who heals all your diseases,Who redeems your life from destruction,Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies” NKJV emphasis mine

When you think a thought such as “I’m not good enough,” or someone criticizes you, “You keep messing up!”, take heart. God doesn’t see you that way. He has already lovingly carried a heavy cross on a back rubbed raw, just for you! A heavy wooden cross built from all the shame, guilt, and ugly across time. Child of God, that’s where your ‘not-enough’ went to. You don’t hold that any more. Your not-enough was crucified with Christ on the cross. It’s dead. It’s gone. The Christ-in-you is what remains. Just Christ. And with Christ in you, you most certainly are enough.
Don’t you see?

Romans 8:10 “And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.” NLT

But Satan knows our weakness, and will do his best to remind us of where we failed. He will try to convince us to turn back, ‘because it’s not worth it anyway. You’re not worth it.’.

Satan is wrong.

Read our next passage, Genesis 18:22-33, looking carefully for God’s heart- because, Sister, God’s heart is the same today as it was yesterday, and the same as it was 4500 years ago back in Abraham’s time.
I believe if Abraham had continued asking for smaller numbers all the way down to one, God would have still agreed.

So if Satan is trying to get you down with guilt over something you’ve done, either recently or before your walk with Christ, remember whose you are. Remember Who cleansed you from all of it. All of it.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” NKJV emphasis mine

So if you are cleansed from that, and freed from the guilt, power and punishment from sin, you are truly truly free. It bears repeating. You are free. No matter how often or how cruelly Satan tries to re-chain you to your sin, to your sin’s punishment, to the shame and poor image carried by the old you that Christ freed you from, he cannot. Because you are free.

John 8:36 “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” NKJV

If it is not a direct attack from Satan to get you cycling down the negative way, then is it pride taking you there?
Consider this. Pride is a form of self-focus, correct? So, if we’re looking at a situation, accepting blame or fault when it’s not ours to accept, could that be a form of pride?

Q: Why or why not? Please share.

I believe it can be. If you are so focused on yourself in a situation that you feel like if only you were better, you would’ve done this better, or that sooner; if you feel like you are to blame for your poor circumstance, lack of acceptance, or missed promotion; if you perform better, your husband would come home from work sooner; if you this or that…. maybe we need to adjust your lens.

It’s not all about you! It’s not all about me! Are you following me?
Maybe, just maybe God’s working on someone else in this situation, and you are a civilian this time. What do you think about that?

Isaiah 55:8 ““My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”” NLT

Romans 11:33 “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” NLT

As good as we think we are at reading God by now, He may just have a plan we can’t see this side of Heaven. No need throwing a pity-party when our situation isn’t ideal, as long as another soul comes to know Jesus, amen?
We just never know what God’s plan is. If our situation didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean that there’s something the matter with us- it may mean that God’s got a scenario lined up to reach another child, or to bring another child into the molding and shaping they need to be like Christ. If you get a little bent out of shape (or molded and shaped too) in the meantime, then so be it. It doesn’t mean that you’re all that bad to have deserved it.
Make sense?

God thinks highly of you, no matter what He allows across your path. No need fretting, looking at yourself in self-pity, or berating yourself for who you aren’t or what you did wrong. Look at yourself the way God does; as a child of God, imperfect and saved by grace; on this earth to bring Him glory. If we’re wrapped up in what ifs, we are not glorifying our Savior. He saved you from the what-ifs.

His positive thinking is more than the Dr. Phil variety. It’s Kingdom thinking. It’s thinking about God’s bigger picture, resisting the enemy, and shining His light.

Let’s unwind from the negative spiral and focus our thoughts on Jesus.

Hebrews 12:2 “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” NLT

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Set Free 8 - If You've Been Hurt

Have you been hurt? I have.
Is there someone in your life who has left some major scars?
Physically or emotionally.
I’m sure most of us can think of someone. Some hurts may go deeper than others but they all hurt. And many times, even when we thought we’d healed, then something comes along and scrapes at the old wound, revealing that it was deeper than we ever thought, and is indeed still there.

Let me start out by saying this. It may never go away.
The person who hurt you may be in your life permanently, and they may never change their behavior.

For this session we will be dealing with emotional injury, rather than physical injury. Please, if you are in a situation where you are being physically harmed, find a safe  place to go.

No, for this session we will be dealing with the type of emotional injury and hurt that sticks around like a bad penny.
What happens when we leave hurts undealt with is one (or more) of a few options.
1)      We start to get bitter
2)      We start to believe it, believe the lies that hurt us.

First let’s find some focus. We were not the only ones to ever hurt because of another.

Isaiah 53:6 “But He was wounded for our transgressions,He was bruised for our iniquities;The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,And by His stripes we are healed.”

Jesus took the blow for us – and in that felt the effects of every bit of anger, hate and rejection that any of us have ever felt. And worse.

Our passages today are 1 Peter 5:7 and Matthew 11:28-30

Since they are short, I’ll go ahead and include them here.

1 Peter 5:7 “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” NKJV emphasis mine

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” NKJV emphasis mine

Can you see it? See the exchange?
Cast your cares; your hurts, your wounds, your insecurities, your injuries, still bleeding or not, on Him! Give them to him to deal with.

I know, it’s easier said than done. It is. But if you daily, or even moment by moment, consciously hand them over, instead of keeping a grasp on them, you will eventually find healing. You will not feel a need to hold them any longer. They will become less a part of you and more a part of your testimony, and story of God’s great grace. They will be yet one more thing that Jesus wanted to take off your hands so much that He came to die for you. Do you see it? If you keep a grasp on them, then grace is void. If we don’t accept His help- accept Him and all of Him, then why accept even part?

Do you hear what I’m saying? You don’t need it. You need only Him.

Colossians 2:10 “And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” NKJV emphasis mine

And look at our second passage, in Matthew.

He says to come to Him. Broken, beautiful you. Come.

See verse 29.
Learn from Him. He says learn from Him, because He has been there.

Let go of what you’ve been holding close to your heart- the worries and cares and hurts, and take what He’s got. He knows it’s hard, but we don’t need those to define us.

Yes, they may be a part of how we got to be the stronger person we are today, but they are a part of your past. They do now have to be a part of your now.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” NKJV

One of my family’s favorite names for God is the one He used for Himself in Exodus 15:26, Jehovah Rapha, God our Healer.

We see it used multiple times in the Bible.

Psalm 23:3a “He restores my soul…” NKJV

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows].” AMP

Jehovah Raphe; The self-existent One, and healer of our personal distress, defects and hurts. source

It is a part of His nature- so much so that He uses that for His name! Just as much as you who are moms or sisters or friends, when you say “I’m Lisa’s friend,” or “I’m Emma’s mom” it’s a part of you- it’s not only something you do on occasion (like, “I babysit her sometimes.”), it’s a part of your nature. You do things without question because that identity is a part of you- like caring for your child, calling to check in on your friend. Because you want to – out of love. In the same way, Him being our healer isn’t just part of His Heavenly job-description, it’s a part of who He is.

When we let Him heal us, even if He needs to re-bandage our wounds every single day, or multiple times per day, He loves doing it. He delights to heal you. Please let Him.

Part of the meaning of this name Jehovah Rapha gives the picture of Him sewing together, or mending a tear. Picture your loving Abba holding you in His hand, mending you, stitch by careful stitch.

He meets the emotional needs of His people. When we hurt, He feels it. And heals it if we let Him.

So, no, the one who has hurt you may never change their ways, and you may continue to get hurt. Just see that you are handling yourself correctly in the situation, and reflecting Jesus.

1 John 2:6 “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” NLT

Ephesians 4:1-2 “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” NLT

Q: If there is someone in your life who has hurt you, do you feel the sting every time you think of them?

Q: Have you prayed about whether this is harbored bitterness on your part?

Q: Do you act like Christ would act in the situation? If not, pray that He would give you the love and forgiveness to offer that person- because you may not have it on your own. You may rely on His strength to forgive them.

DO: Pray for healing. In yourself- not necessarily for healing of the relationship (which is okay to pray for too), but for healing within, from the Holy Spirit. Healing on your side, so that you are blameless and holy before God, not harboring any bitterness toward that person, and so that you yourself are not hindered in your ministry and testimony of God’s work because of an injury.

He will heal you! It is His desire for you to be whole.

Luke 4:18 “…He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted…” NKJV

And from our memory verses this segment,

Excerpts from Isaiah 61:1-3
“…He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted…To comfort all who mourn,…To give them beauty for ashes,The oil of joy for mourning,The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”NKJV emphasis mine

He doesn’t want you to remain hurt. He wants you to be healed. But look Who provides the healing: He does. Nobody else. He alone can heal you. Accept His healing and let go of your hurts. He’s all you need anyway.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Set Free 7 - Defeating Defeat

Middle English deffeten, from Anglo-French defait, past participle of defaire, desfaire to destroy, from Medieval Latin disfacere, from Latin dis- + facere to do

The word itself means destroy.
And that’s just what it does.
It destroys us from the inside out, and it doesn’t just make us discouraged. It destroys joy, destroys love, destroys hope, destroys faith. It destroys rest and peace.
It destroys grace.

We were called to victory.
Anything less is not what God wants for us.

Please read Joshua 1:5-9.
We are going to cover several passages today, so have your Bible-fingers ready.

In our text, God is talking to Joshua, who just had a huge responsibility passed off to him. A frightening, tiring, and mentally and emotionally taxing responsibility.
Does that resound with you at all?
It does with me, time and time again.
Not only do we have to do this thing called life, but we’ve got the whole spiritual warfare thing to fight now too? Time for a coffee break, right?

Q: What is an area (or areas, plural) in your life that has got you overwhelmed?

It is overwhelming. And God does ask a lot of us sometimes. But please take heart. He’s here alongside you.

Joshua 1:5 “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.” NLT emphasis mine

And, Sister, He doesn’t want you to live defeated. He wants you to live in victory. That’s the whole reason He came. That’s the reason He left His Spirit to live inside of us.
Satan would love nothing more than for us to feel like we’ve lost the battle. Become battle-weary and allow our emotions and fatigue to take over our reasoning; our focus.

He wants us weary. He wants us dragging. And the longer he can get us to drag in the dirt, the more that’s all we’ll see, that’s what we’ll believe, and it will have us so covered in dirt that our light won’t shine.

He wants to steal our light. Steal our joy. Steal our faith.

John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” NKJV

Did you see it? Destroy. Defeat. Satan’s goal.
But do you also see the solution?


Just like we read in Joshua 1:5. We have already won because of Him.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” NKJV
(despair: to be utterly at loss, be utterly destitute of measures or resources, to renounce all hope; source)

God is there.

Romans 8:31b “…What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” NKJV

Our cause is His cause.

The heart of God in Joshua and countless other places through His Word shows that His desire for you is victory through Him.

Isaiah 54:17 “But in that coming day    no weapon turned against you will succeed.You will silence every voice    raised up to accuse you.These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord;    their vindication will come from me.    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Do you see a resounding theme?

Q: In Isaiah 54:17 this victory is the heritage of whom?
Q: In Ephesians 6:10 we are told to be strong how?
Q: In Philippians 4:13 we are told that we can do all things, but how?

Look at 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” NKJV 
So it is already ours. If we are living with a defeated heart, where is our focus?
Not where it should be. Not on Christ.

DO: Pray for God to reveal the areas you’ve been feeling defeated. In your journal, please describe them, and your thoughts as you encounter these situations from day to day. Pinpoint the time when your gaze shifts from God to self-sufficiency – I’ll bet that’s when you start battling feelings of defeat. Pray – visit with God about these issues and ask for His help keeping your focus on Him.
Grip His hand. Don’t let go.

Please read the last verses of our base text again;  Joshua 1:7-9.

Q: What tool did God give Joshua for success that he was to use day and night?

See also Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:11.

Though the command in Joshua 1:8 was spoken to Joshua, we would do well to obey it also. The war is the same one we’re fighting; the tools, reconnaissance and strategy are still the same.
God’s Words are the tools we need with us. And because we need it handy always, we NEED to memorize. This is not optional. We need to memorize to become a strong warrior. And so much of the battle is in our head, so wouldn’t it be prudent to put the weapons there too?

It may be a little daunting to realize that we are actually commanded not to feel dismay, however, when you look at the nuts and bolts of it, it looks like this:
Eyes off Christ = dismay.
Eyes on Christ = no dismay.

Not so daunting now, is it?
Take heart.
Take peace.
Don’t be defeated – because we are not defeated. Christ has the victory in hand already. Take His hand and accept victory. And keep looking to Him.

John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” NLT

We see the importance of memorizing God's Word. Start today! Get free printable index card of our memory passage here 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Set Free 6 - Battling Perfection part 3

Today’s the day we bring it home. Perfectionism stops here.

Our text today is Galatians 5-6. (Specifically 5:1-8, 13, 15-18, 25-26; 6:1-3, 7-8, 14-18)

Read as much as you can and we’ll begin.

Galatians 5:1-2 “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you.” NLT

Now replace “circumcision” with something on your list. (If you’re just joining us, read about the list here)

Look closely again at Galatians 5:2 and 5:6. Do you see the contrast?
It’s either one or the other. You can’t have such a focus on being perfect all the time- if we rely on one good thing (i.e. church going, good deeds, serving in poor countries, etc) to give us good brownie points with God, then Christ is no benefit to us. According to verse 3, if we are counting on good things to give us good standing with God, then we would have to uphold every. part. of. it. Every single rule. And let’s face it. We will fail.

On our own.

So would we rather try (and inevitably fail?) or would we rather choose to humbly accept (and know that it’s fail-proof)? Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

We are called to the latter. Called to freedom.
I don’t believe in destiny, but this is the closest thing to it in my opinion – God’s will.

Galatians 5:13 “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” NLT

1 Timothy 2:3-4 “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” NASB

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” NKJV

So how do we pull it all in to the reality that is the every-day of this flawed world?

We will be tempted. Tempted to try to carry it on our own. Do perfection by ourselves. It will likely even be second nature to many of us – especially people pleasers, checklist people, and those with OCD tendencies.
Just remember (as God does, thank Heaven! Psalm 103:14) that we are human and we will fail. Others around us will fail.

Enter grace.
Enter Holy Spirit – for any holy living – actual holy-living comes from the overflow; comes from the Holy Spirit in us. Choose to surrender to His desires.

Galatians 5:16 “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” NLT

Your natural human tendencies will likely be opposite that of the Spirit. Actually, there is no ‘likely’ about it. They will be. God says so. (5:17)
See our flesh-tendencies in verses 19-21 and contrast them to the Spirit-tendencies in 22-23.
 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence.” NLT

Indeed, we are new. Because it’s not us anymore.

If we keep our focus on our actions being prodded by Christ, keep in mind that it is the Spirit doing it. Picture yourself the latex glove, and God and His Spirit the careful surgeon. The glove doesn’t get the credit or the blame, does it?

Galatians 5:26 “Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” NLT

Galatians 6:3 “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” NASB

Keep a careful watch this week on our actions. If it is better this week to push pause on a particular ministry until you can determine your motive, I think God would honor that decision. He hates pride (Prov 6:16-17), and so if you need to take a step back to determine whether your service to Him is done out of pride or not, please do. Because you’re not fooling God. Galatians 6:7-8

Q: Do you think that self-imposed standards are always a matter of pride?
Q: Why or why not? Explain. (Use the space in your journal and share in the comments here.)

In my opinion I don’t think they always are. Sometimes we can set up rules to protect ourselves or others, just because we know our own flaws and tendencies and sometimes it is easier to draw the line at a safe distance from the actual breaking point.

Just bear in mind this picture. We are branded by faith. What we do because of that (or in spite of that) does not define us. It may show others Christ’s work in us, to God be the glory, but it does not make us who we are. Christ’s brand alone does.
We are His, and we are covered by His grace.
Let’s act like it; let’s allow that grace for ourselves and let’s allow that grace for others.

Galatians 5:14 “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”” NLT

John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”” NASB

Galatians 6:17 “From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.” NASB

Friday, August 9, 2013

Set Free 5 - Battling Perfection part 2

How did your list making go?
It makes a lot of our do-goodery look pretty ugly, if yours looked anything like mine.
No, not all the things, or all the time, but enough.

Today we will look at our inheritance.
Ours is special. Most times for an inheritance, someone we love has to die, and that which they left behind, even if it is great, has a limit.

With our inheritance, however, even though Christ had to die for us to attain it, He did not stay dead, and His Spirit lives in our hearts as a part of that alive-ness.

Romans 8:10 “And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.” NLT

But yet, there’s no limit to the inheritance, and it will never run out.

Our inheritance is freedom. Our inheritance is grace. Free grace.
I ask you, did you do anything to get it?
No, of course not.
Q: So why then do we think we have to do and be so much to keep it?

Psalm 103:14 “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” NASB

So, dust-child, who did we think we were kidding? Not God, certainly. Ourselves, probably. Others? Most likely. Leave it to us to be so flawed even in our doing good. But He loves us anyway.

Let’s open with Galatians 3 and I’d like to highlight verse 3.

Galatians 3:3 “How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” NLT

Our text today is Galatians 3 and 4. (Specifically 3:1-7, 11-15, 21-29; 4:1-9, 22-31)

Look at Abraham. He was one of the “greats” right? A “good Christian” surely. But look at what saved him.
Not his lineage, not his place in the kingdom plan.

Q: What does it say in verse 6 that saved him? What made him holy in God’s eyes?

Please take the time to answer in your journal. I believe you’ll gain so much from physically writing it down.

So what saved him? His faith. That’s it.

And we can have that exact same thing. We can inherit the same, be accepted into God’s family the very same way. Faith.

Galatians 3:7 “The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.” NLT

Faith alone.

Jump down to verse 11.

Galatians 3:11 “So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”” NLT

Verse 12 says this is very different from what we’re used to, and that couldn’t be more true. Everything about what we’re used to is reliant on being better, doing more to rise higher.

But we are rescued from that.

Read that again and feel free to issue a sigh of relief. We are rescued from that. (Galatians 3:13-15). And nothing will ever change that fact. Praise Jesus!

So, you may ask, what is the law for? Why all the rules always associated with being a child of God?

Here’s our answer – find freedom in this. Read verses 21-29.

Galatians 3:24 “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.” NASB

It is here to teach us of our need for Christ. Like the mirror in James 1:23, it is here to reveal a need.
We needed the rules to train us. To know this is how a child of God acts.
As a child, we were no different from a slave, in that we had to obey the rules, no questions asked. Because those are the rules. (Any moms out there said that line?) But when the right time came for each of us to be saved, and we received His Spirit, in that moment we were no longer slaves, but children of God. And heirs.

Romans 8:17a “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” NIV

Before that time, and in the old testament before Christ came to set us free, the people of God did need to do the elements. (The Greek word behind elements refers to marching in rank. The fundamental practices of a discipline) It was part of it, and they were required to do them. Yes it was still faith that saved them (Galatians 3:6, Romans 4), but they were required to do those things because Christ had not yet come.

Going back to the original discussion in Galatians (see our previous post) about circumcision. Again, you may apply this to practices we use today as our defining marks.
Before the time of Christ, to be that heir, that child  of God, to be adopted into the family, a mark (via circumcision) was required.
What we see here is that now, that mark, that sign, or thing that brands us as God’s people is faith. Faith becomes that public, no-going-back, change to distinguish us. Not our actions.

Faith is not a marching in rank kind of thing. It is a gift. A freedom, and a hope.
To wrap this all up, I’d like to ask you a question. Please answer honestly in your journal. If you feel comfortable, please also share here in our community.
Q: What have you been depending on as your defining mark to set you apart?

Is it your deeds? Attending church? Your language? Or is it just faith alone?

Please don’t remain enslaved by the “do”.

Galatians 4:9 “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” NASB

We are heirs not because of what we do. We are not slaves. We are faith-children. (Galatians 4:31)