Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 3

It was a Wednesday evening and my husband and I were getting ready for church.  We had just returned from our dreamy honeymoon a few days prior and we were beginning to settle into life together as man and wife.

That’s when the phone rang.

I checked the caller ID and when I saw it was my mom I picked up with a cheery, “Hey Mom!”

Sniffles on the other end were all I could hear.

“He’s gone, Wendy.  Your Dad is gone.”

Gone? Gone where? My mind raced to understand what she was saying.

“Your dad, he, he’s died.”

My heart instantly sank to my feet as I collapsed on our hand me down couch. How is this possible?  What happened?  At the time no one knew, an autopsy would need to be done in the coming days.  All we knew was that while my mother was out running an errand, my dad took his last breath in his living room and was now in eternity.

Now I was left to deal with the memory of the last words my dad ever spoke to me on this earth. Though he was a believer, he had not walked with God for many many years. Sadly, rage and bitterness had indwelt his very being.

The very last words my father ever spoke to me on this side of heaven were, “You are the biggest disappointment in my life.”  He then turned around and walked away.

His words stung deeply and sank into my heart and that was now the last memory I would ever have of my dad here on earth.  Disappointing anyone goes against my very being, how was I ever going to get past this?

I found myself in the coming days and weeks faced with a decision.  Would I forgive my dad and move forward?  Could I forgive and move on?

Forgiveness is an interesting thing, isn’t it?  Some of us have been profoundly wounded and the thought of forgiving is just inconceivable.  Though it may not be painless, forgiveness is essential for the Christian life.

Oh how grateful we can be for forgiveness!  Christ saw us, and all of the sins we would ever commit, and still said, “You are worth it!” as He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, and mine!  Making a way for us to have legitimate, honest, true forgiveness!

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:13-14

Christ has set the ultimate standard for how we are to forgive, but sometimes in our sinful nature we feel like saying, “Enough!  You have wronged me one to many times! I’m over it! No more!!”

I think Peter in the New Testament could relate.  Let’s look at Matthew 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

This passage causes me to wonder if Peter had been hurt by someone again and again, and he was looking for a justifiable reason to stop forgiving.  I mean, if Christ says it’s okay to stop forgiving, it must be alright!

I love Christ’s response!  No, He was not telling Peter to go begin making tally marks against all those that had offended him.  He was simply saying, “Keep on, Peter, keep on!”

I love what Stormie Omartian says in her book 30 Days to Becoming A Woman of Prayer. “Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes us free!”

The person who wronged us may never come asking to be forgiven, but it is imperative that we forgive anyway!  Unforgiveness tends to lead to bitterness and God tell us in Hebrews 12:15b, “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;“.  Bitterness will always effect more than just us. 

If we choose to not forgive, the only person we will end up hurting is ourselves. Matthew 6:14-15, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”  Our decision to not forgive will be what keeps us from receiving forgiveness from Christ! 

What better way to show God our appreciation for His forgiveness of us, then to forgive others!

So there I was, reeling in the shock of my fathers sudden death and faced with a decision,  was I going to forgive him of the hurtful words he spoke?

Because of the grace of God, I have been able to forgive.  I can live my life in peace, knowing that God is not disappointed in me!

Praise God for the gift of forgiveness!  Praise God that we do not have to live a life of unforgiveness and be bound up with bitterness!  He has made a way for us to be forgiven and has shown us how to forgive!  Oh how good our great God is!

Many blessings,

Wendy

ps: If this has been an encouragement, please feel free to share it with others!

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 2

“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mineWhen thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon theeFor I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee.”  ~Isaiah 43:1b-4a

Labels.  They are often a necessity, and when in the right context they are SO helpful!  I  for one am thankful my hairspray has a label on it!  If it didn’t, I would end up accidentally picking up a can of something else and instead of having a hairstyle that stays in place, I could have a radical new hair color!

What about labels in the kitchen?  Labels on spices are helpful aren’t they?  The dinners in our household would  quickly turn into something awfully peculiar if we suddenly had WB0933574nothing on the bottles to distinguish one seasoning from another!  We rely on labels to be correct, true, real!

When it comes to many household products, brands of clothing, labels on groceries, etc these can be so helpful and very needed.  Yet, how often do we carry false labels around that we or others have placed on us?

When we stand in front of our mirror, instead of seeing ourselves the way God sees us, we are often blinded by false branding.

“Failure”, “Incompetent”, “Ugly”, “Loner”, “Introvert”, “Perfectionist”, “Messy”, “Unworthy”, and on the list goes.

We consistently find ourselves so busy believing those descriptions, that we are unable to quiet our minds and hear what God calls us.  I’ve been there, have you?

The past several weeks or so I found myself in this battle.  I would look in the mirror or lie in bed at night and only see the headline, “Wendy, also synonymous with failure!”

 I felt as if I was falling so short as a wife, making far to many mistakes as a mom, inundated with the sense of failing in my role as Pastor’s wife, and then when it came to getting my book published, goodness what was I thinking?  How could God ever use this book in the life of someone else?  There I sat in my defeat, having an early Thanksgiving feast on the lies that my enemy willingly fed me by the spoonfuls!  Failure was etched loved_newacross my forehead, or so I thought.

Oh friend, how thankful we can be that God takes the time to remind us, He calls us different names then we call ourselves.  When we look in the mirror and see “failure”, God says, “No, you are victorious through Me!”  Romans 8:37, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

When we lay in bed engulfed by loneliness, He says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”, Hebrews 13:5b.  Then reminds us He is, “a friend that sticketh closer than a thumb-forgivenbrother.” Proverbs 18:24

We tend to be so hard on ourselves, berating ourselves again and again with sins we have already been forgiven for.  God says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:13-14

God has a whole other set of names He calls us and all of them are the complete opposite of what the enemy shouts to us.  God speaks in a still small voice, the enemy does not.

Believe what God calls you and says about you!  Cling to the names He has given you!  Remember, when Satan begins to heap doubt on us, when he begins to bring up the labels that are not ours to begin with, remember, the enemy is a liar!  Let Christ speak truth to your heart!

Be encouraged!

Many Blessings,

Wendy

ps: If this has been an encouragement, please feel free to share it with others!

Images courtesy of this website.

Two encouragements for the fearful at heart

The past two weeks our family has been on vacation.  It was a wonderful and relaxing time away and it was just what the Dr. ordered.

On our way home my husband shared with me two different political decisions that were made by people who simply abused their power to make decisions that were not theirs to make.  Social media, news outlets, magazine covers, and newspapers exploded with the news of one of those decisions made late last week.

Anger, fear, judgement, horror, and many more emotions and thoughts raced through many minds.  Questions of, “Where is our country headed?” were passed around the dinner table and coffee shops.

As a mama my heart could easily become crippled with fear, wondering what kind of a country my now small children will have to live in as they grow into adults.  Can you relate?  Fearful hearts and the feeling of hopelessness is exactly where our enemy wants us.

Can I share some encouragement with you?

First, fear and hopelessness are not from Christ.  1 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  When fear threatens to overwhelm your very being, stop and pray!  Our enemy delights when we feel crippled by fear because if we are crippled, we are no longer doing what God has called His children to do.  We stand like a deer in the headlights, eyes blinded by our greatest fears {and imagined fears as well}, not doing a thing for Christ.  If we have accepted Christ’s gift of salvation there is HOPE dwelling in us!  There is PEACE that is accessible! Christ fills us with courage to share HIS LIGHT and HOPE!  Christ has called us to not fear but to be filled with courage!  Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”  Remember friends, Christ has already won the victory!

Second, you are not the only one desiring to live for Christ!  Yesterday my husband preached a message from 1 Kings and in that passage we read not one verse, but two how Elijah told the Lord he was the only one who was righteous in all the land.  God reminded him though, he was not truly alone.  God had a remnant of 7,000 people who were righteous and longed to live holy lives.  Friends, I know our country has been compared to Sodom and Gomorrah and I know the same sins that were in those cities are here in America, but hear this.  In those two cities, there was only one righteous man.  In our country there are still thousands of God-fearing believers!  They take on the forms of missionaries, Pastors, Evangelists, Camp Workers, Christian school teachers, Grandparents, Parents, Aunts, Uncles, and yes, even children.  There are still godly believers in our nation and they are burdened and praying for our nation, you and I are not alone!  I found the events of last week burdening my heart to make sure I am living a life right before God.  I felt burdened to make sure my husband and I are doing our best to raise our children up to be God-fearing, God-following adults filled with courage to stand up for Christ, no matter the cost.

We have lived in a nation that was founded on godly principles and full of freedoms, but our freedoms have made many become complacent.  Apathy oozes from God’s House.  Many claiming to be Christian but no evidences of true salvation are in their lives.  Take it or leave it church members leave God’s House half full.  Sports, parties, bitterness, blame, judgement, excuses and more keep people from even giving God one full day of worship.

Friends, I say this with a heart full of desire to see God’s people growing and thriving, now more than ever, we need to be a people of prayer, of righteous living!  Believers not crippled by fear but indwelt with a burning passion to hear from God and to share Him with others!  Not so bogged down with our own agendas, but realizing we were placed here at this very time in history, for such a time as this!

Hope in Christ!  Live as a victorious Christian!  Share Christ with others!  Take the light of Christ and let it SHINE!  When darkness is at its darkest, that is when the light shines brightest!