Tag Archives: hope

Breaking Free

If you’ve interacted with people in your life, you’ve been hurt by someone at some point. The people closest to us seem to hurt us the most. When we get hurt, the easiest thing to do is let that pain turn into hate and bitterness. We want to hurt them back worse than they hurt us. If we’re not careful, the pain inside of us can consume us. I read a story this week of a 73 year old who found a high school classmate and killed him because of how he hurt him over 50 years ago. He lived his whole life wanting revenge for the pain this person caused him.

In Genesis, Abraham’s son Isaac had twins, Jacob and Esau. Esau was very hungry one day and Jacob had prepared a meal. He asked for some of it, but Jacob made him pay for it with the birthright which meant he would inherit his father’s wealth. Later, when Isaac was about to die, he summoned his firstborn Esau to bless him. He sent him out to kill something wild and cook it first. Jacob found out, and beat him to it. Esau hated Jacob for it and wanted to kill him. He let the anger consume him and the only way to console himself was to plot revenge.

In Genesis 27:40, Isaac told Esau, “You shall live by your sword, And serve your brother; However it shall come to pass when you break loose [from your anger and hatred], That you will tear his yoke off your neck [and you will be free of him]” (AMP). If you’re still carrying the pain from someone hurting you, it’s time to break loose from it. Get their yoke off your neck. Forgiving them is the way to do that. Ask the Lord to help you. I know personally this is easier said than done. It’s a process that starts with you forgiving in your heart first. The pain will go away and a scar will remain, but you will be free.

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Hark The Herold Angels Sing

This time of year, it becomes obvious that we don’t remember much more than the first verse of most Christmas Carols. As we lead up to Christmas this week, I want to explore some powerful verses in some of my favorite carols.

I have an angel as part of my annual Christmas decorations for my yard. This year, my son has been asking me, “Dada, what’s he saying?” I tell him, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (Luke 2:10-12 KJV). Then several other angels joined him and they started singing!”

We can only imagine what that celebration looked like. The farther we get from an agrarian society and into a technological one, the harder it is to imagine sitting on a hillside at night, watching sheep, and having angels pop out of no where. In 1739, Charles Wesley must have been imagining that incredible night as he composed, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. Nor did George Whitefield in 1758, who adapted it to what we sing today.

The verse I want to focus on is this:

Christ by highest Heav’n adored, Christ the everlasting Lord; Late in time behold-Him come, Offspring of the Virgin’s womb. Veil’d in flesh the Godhead see, Hail th’ incarnate Deity! Pleas’d as Man with Men t’ appear, Jesus our Emmanuel here.

My favorite part of that is the second half. This time of year, we celebrate that God came down, took on the form of a human, so that He could be Emmanuel, God with us. He veiled Himself in flesh so He could better be acquainted with all we experience. Philippians 2:6-7 puts it this way, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being” (NLT).

This Christmas season, let’s not forget that the baby birth we are celebrating was God veiled in flesh. He came to being peace on earth and goodwill toward men. The Angels celebrated that night and we have been celebrating since. Our God came to us so that we could be with Him. This baby grew up and died a criminal’s death in order to pay for our sins. When we think of that, we can celebrate with those heralding angels that God and sinners are able to be reconciled.

Photo by Charmoré Nel on Unsplash

Each year, I take a one week sabbatical from writing to refresh and to spend time with my family. Each devotion this week will be a past favorite. Enjoy and I’ll see you next week.

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Comfort and Hope

Christmas time and the overall holiday season can be a difficult time for those who have ever lost a loved one. When families come together, it’s another reminder of the gapping hole that person once filled. Many times families won’t decorate or truly celebrate the season if they lost that loved one that year. It’s understandable and we have to remember that each person grieves in their own way. There are no rules or timelines on how a person is to grieve or how long. I understand their are stages of grief, but each person follows them in their own way.

As Christians, it’s ok for us to grieve as well, but we do so with the hope of seeing that person again one day. For us, it’s not goodbye. It’s see you later. The pain is still there. We still go through the stages of grief, but we have hope. We can be comforted in knowing that death is not the end because we serve a savior who holds the keys to death, hell, and the grave. As I Corinthians 15:55 put it, “Where, Death, is your victory? Where, Death, is your power to hurt?” (GNT)

For those who have accepted Jesus as their savior, death is no longer defeat. Death is not the end of life, but rather the beginning of eternal life. With that knowledge, Paul wrote this in I Thessalonians 4:13, “Our friends, we want you to know the truth about those who have died, so that you will not be sad, as are those who have no hope.” Death doesn’t make us grieve uncontrollably and hopelessly because it is not final for a believer. We can still grieve and we can still feel the loss because of their absence though.

In the final verse of that chapter, Paul wrote, “Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words.” He knew that we would need encouragement and comfort in our time of grief. So, if you’re grieving and hurting this holiday season over your loved one, it’s ok to do it in your own way, but don’t do it as one who is hopeless. Take comfort in knowing that the same reason we celebrate Christmas is the same reason we have hope.

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Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Powerful Promises

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

When we were in Nazareth, Israel, a tour guide reminded us, “It was here that Jesus began His ministry. It was in the synagogue of Nazareth that Jesus stood up and read the first several verses of Isaiah 61.” It says, “The Sovereign Lord has filled me with his Spirit. He has chosen me and sent me To bring good news to the poor, To heal the broken-hearted, To announce release to captives And freedom to those in prison. He has sent me to proclaim That the time has come When the Lord will save his people And defeat their enemies. He has sent me to comfort all who mourn, To give to those who mourn in Zion Joy and gladness instead of grief, A song of praise instead of sorrow” (GNT).

What Jesus said next angered them, but will prove to be powerful to you and me. In Luke 4:21, Jesus said, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (NLT) What should have been an exciting moment in history ended with them trying to throw Jesus off a cliff. He wasn’t just telling them He was the Messiah, He was telling them He was bringing healing and restoration. Think about what Jesus was saying would be fulfilled. He would be bringing good news to the poor, healing the broken-hearted, freeing us from our prisons, saving us from sin and enemies, comforting those who mourn and bringing joy to those who grieve.

Jesus said that starting that day He began fulfilling that Scripture. He wasn’t just going to do those things for a short while. He came to do it long term. That’s great news for you and me. When we find ourselves in need of healing or restoration, there’s no need to wait for a future date. He’s willing and able today! We don’t have to stay in the prisons of our own devices. He’s here to liberate us. We don’t have to live a life of grief. He gave us the Comforter and plants joy deep in our heart. I believe today is the day you can enjoy that promise and experience all that God has for you.

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

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The Prince Of Wholeness

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

One of the names of God that I love is Jehovah Shalom. I began to dig deeper into the word “Shalom” to see what all it means. I know it means “peace” and that it is often used as a greeting in Israel, but one of the other meanings for the word is “completeness” or “whole”. I found that very interesting. So I went back to Isaiah 9:6 where it says Jesus will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. I switched to the Message version of the Bible and there it called Him the Prince of Wholeness.

My mind raced, “How had I missed that?” I’m not sure how I’ve read that a hundred times and have heard the word shalom over and over and never saw that He is the Prince of Wholeness. We all need peace in our lives so much that we focus on that part of “shalom”, but rarely go deeper into its meaning. We don’t look beyond the surface, but we need to. We need to dig deeper to find something like this because we all need it.

I’ve had my life shattered and broken. When I look back at that period in my life, I see myself laying on a foundation in the pouring rain. There is debris of what was my life laying all around. There is nothing that is salvageable. That is there is nothing I can salvage. But here, in this scripture, I see a God who can take the broken pieces of my life and make me whole again. I see a Prince who is not content with leaving me broken and unprotected. He wants me to be whole.

He wants you to be whole too. When you’re broken like that, you think that all is lost. You feel that no one cares and the world is dark all around you. You can’t see the future because you can’t imagine a future you’d want to be in. There is no light of hope to guide you. You take each breath as it comes. Each second of the clock ticks in slow motion, and survival is your only instinct. You aren’t worried about tomorrow because you’re focused on surviving today. Yes, even in that moment of your life, He is the Prince of Wholeness.

God is able to take you from that broken place in your life to a place of Wholeness. Completeness. Rebuilding. Becoming stronger and better. He is the God of creation and He can create a new beginning for you. It’s not something that happens over night. A masterpiece is not painted in a day. A mansion is not built over night. Your life is more complex and worth more to Him than anything else in all of creation. You may struggle with feelings of unworthiness or worthlessness, but you are worthy and you are priceless. You are worth rebuilding to Him. You are worth being made whole. Don’t give up. Invite the Prince of Wholeness to come in today and to complete the work which He began in you.

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Winning Inner Battles

God does this thing with me where He will wake me up in the middle of the night and want me to pray for certain people. On one occasion, God kept waking me up to pray for this individual. Early the next morning, God said, “Send them a text.” He had a very specific message for me to send. I answered back, “Seriously? It’s weird to text that to a person I barely know.” God kept at it until finally I sent the text. A few minutes later, I got a long text back from that person that confirmed what God was speaking to me.

They had been fighting a hidden battle on the inside, but on the outside they were pretending that everything was fine. The enemy lies to us and tells us to fight our battles that way because he knows that when we agree in prayer with others, God multiplies our strength exponentially. You know the verse that says, “If one can out one thousand to flight, then two can put ten thousand to flight”? There’s power in agreement of prayer so the enemy often attacks us on the inside with the lie that we need to cover it up.

The apostle Paul understood that we often get attacked on the inside. In Ephesians 3:16 he wrote, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit” (NLT). Each of us need inner strength to withstand the attack from our enemy who tries to crush us. We need to remember that greater is He that is within us! You and I don’t have to fight our inner battles alone. God has unlimited resources to help us fight back. Tell a friend who will pray for you and with you until victory is won.

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Live Forgiven

To me, one of the saddest things anyone has said is, “I can never forgive you for what you’ve said and done.” That’s a pretty strong statement and it’s usually spoken out of hurt and anger. It’s meant to hurt and cut to the core the way that person has been hurt. If you’ve ever spoken them or had them spoken to you, you understand. The problem is it creates bitterness and hate within a person. Pain mixed with a grudge is an incubator for anger. Nothing good comes from situations where one side isn’t forgiven.

If you’ve had those words spoken to you because of something you’ve said or done, and you’re truly sorry, it’s also difficult to handle. Every one of us makes mistakes. Every one of us hurts other people whether intentional or not. When we’ve said or done the unforgivable, and the other person won’t release us, we can either spend a lifetime trying to prove how truly sorry we are or we can walk away knowing we’ve done our part. Either way, there’s an incompleteness to being unforgiven.

In Matthew 12, a Pharisee said some hurtful things to Jesus. He accused Him of being demon possessed and that His power came from Satan. After Jesus explained to him how a house divided can’t stand, He then addressed the sin inside the man. In verse 31, Jesus said, “There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven” (MSG). That’s a powerful statement that you and I need to grasp and meditate on today. Read it again.

There is nothing you can do or say that can’t be forgiven by God. No matter how bad or how wrong, He’ll never say He can’t forgive you. If you’ve been holding back asking forgiveness for something, I want you to release it today. Get rid of that incompleteness that’s created from unforgiveness, and be made whole at the cross. God isn’t human. He doesn’t hold grudges or harbor resentment against us for things we’ve said or done and been forgiven of. Give it to God and be set free today.

Photo by Grant Ritchie on Unsplash

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