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Evicting Shame

Have you ever had someone in your life who constantly reminds you of your past mistakes? Sometimes it’s a spouse, a friend or a family member, and sometimes it’s your own voice in your head. They seem to bring them up at the most inopportune moment. No matter what you do, because of them, it’s like you can never move on. You’d like to move on and forget it ever happened, but they’re there to make sure you never forget. It’s difficult to move forward when you’re constantly looking backwards. Your past becomes like a ball and chain that impedes your progress.

That’s what shame does. I believe many of us live with it constantly holding us back. “No one will accept you if they knew about… You can’t go back to church now. You’ve been gone too long. You don’t deserve to be happy. How can you call yourself a Christian?” Shame is a master manipulator who hits below the belt in an effort to kill our desire for growth. Understand this: SHAME IS NOT FROM GOD! These voices and thoughts are not God speaking to you. He loves you and wants you to succeed and grow and move forward. He wants to set you free from shame, and it starts with you refusing to listen to that voice.

I love Zephaniah 3:17. It says, “The LORD your God is in your midst, A Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins], He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” (AMP). God is a warrior who is fighting for you to win this battle. He loves you and doesn’t bring up your forgiven past. He rejoices over you and delights in you because you are His child. That’s who God is. It’s time to kick the voice of shame to the curb and to embrace God’s voice. Anytime those other thoughts come in, push them out. Don’t entertain them. Open your Bible and replace them with what God really says. You are forgiven. You are accepted. You are loved.

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Letting God Lead

Fifteen years ago today, I hit rock bottom in life. I was fired from my job and had no path forward. It was the last straw in losing pretty much everything over a six month period. I was at the bottom of a dark hole with no way out. I had no direction in life or purpose. I had just been through six months of hell and i wasn’t sure i wanted to continue living. I went home, laid on my living room floor in the fetal position and wept. I told God that i couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t go on. I was emotionally drained and was out of strength. I couldn’t find anything to hold onto in life. That’s when I heard God say, “Finally! Are you ready to try things my way?”

It was a crucial moment in my life. Everything I had built had crumbled, but I determined with God’s help, I would claw my way out of that hole. It took a lot years, a lot of prayers and a lot of faith, but God lead me away from that place in life. Up to that point, I had been fighting Him and His desires for my life. I was living how I wanted, but agreed to do things His way. I held onto a promise He gave me that said my ending would actually be a beginning, and if I trusted Him, He would lead me into more joy than I had ever known. Fifteen years later, He has continued to fulfill that promise.

Psalm 32:8-9 says, “I hear the Lord saying, ‘I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!’” (TPT) I believe God is close to every one of us trying to lead us down His path for us, but too many of us fight Him like i did. God wants to take you where you’ve never been to experience what you can’t imagine, but you have to let Him lead. You have to put down the reins and give Him control. Are you willing to do that starting today?

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Rise Up

Today’s devotion is a guest post from my wife.

When I was younger, I thought I was Holy and pure. Looking back, I can see it was a lot of self righteousness. I was full of myself which meant there was not much room for Jesus in my life. You see the more there is of me in my life, the less there is of Him. The less there is of me, the more there is of Him, and that corresponds to how much grace I give as well. We live in a world that desperately needs grace, but many of us can’t give it because there’s not much grace in us to give. It’s time for us to rise up, be vocal about the Jesus who lives inside of us, but because of where society is, we back down.

I believe we stay quiet because we are afraid of how we will be attacked by others for our beliefs. 1 Peter 5:8 says that devil roams around like a roaring lion. He isolates us, pretending to be a lion, making us think we will be devoured, but what we forget is that we have the Lion of Judah on our side. He is our protector, our defender and the one whom we should get courage from in today’s world. If He is for us, who can be against us? Yet, even though He is standing with us, we fear what the world will do, so we stay silent.

Psalm 59:16 says, “But I will sing about your strength; every morning I will sing aloud of your constant love. You have been a refuge for me, a shelter in my time of trouble” (GNT). It’s time for us to not be afraid to show the love and grace of Jesus to others. It’s time for us to be free to speak about our faith. The more we love Jesus, the more we should love others. That love should be overflowing from our lives and spilling on to those we come in contact with. If we want the world to change, we need to be showing and sharing His love because it covers a multitude of sins. We can’t be stingy anymore with His love and we can’t stay silent because of our fear of today’s society. We must break out of the silence that society has forced us into, speak out for what’s right, give grace freely and live out loud.

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The Importance Of Rejoicing

If you grew up in church, you’ve heard the phrase, “Rejoice in the Lord.” You’re probably not sure what it is, how to do it or why, but the Bible consistently tells us to do it. It simply means to find your contentment in the Lord no matter what you’re going through. I believe it’s one of the greatest tools God gave us to fight with when the enemy attacks your mind. His goal is not to get you to worship him as much as it is to create discontentment between you and God. If he can get you to blame God for the bad things in your life, then you won’t rejoice in the Lord. Paul said it best in Philippians 4:12, “I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content” (GNT).

You don’t have to pretend that you like your situation to rejoice in the Lord. You have to recognize that all things work together for your good, and that God can use anything to develop and grow you. There is purpose in pain, strength in struggles and peace in the unknown when you’re content with God. To rejoice in the Lord during those times, I play praise and worship music constantly and I spend time praying and reading the Bible. That helps me to focus on God instead of my problems, and that strengthens my relationship with Him. It’s not easy to rejoice in the Lord sometimes, but it is necessary.

Here are some Bible verses on rejoicing.

1. Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice!

PHILIPPIANS 4:4 AMP

2. My beloved ones, don’t ever limit your joy or fail to rejoice in the wonderful experience of knowing our Lord Jesus! I don’t mind repeating what I’ve already written you because it protects you.

Philippians 3:1 TPT

3. I will be glad and rejoice because of your constant love. You see my suffering; you know my trouble.

Psalm 31:7 GNT

4. But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory [filled with His radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy.

1 PETER 4:13 AMP

5. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Habakkuk 3:18 NLT

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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.

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Comfort In Calamity

When I was in high school, my physics teacher gave us an assignment where each of us had to build a bridge out of popsicle sticks and glue. There were some other specifications it had to meet as well. Then, on the date the assignment was due, he put the bridges to a battery of tests to see how well they held up. One test was a weight test. He kept adding weights to the bridge until it broke. Only one bridge in the class survived this test. The rest all cracked at some point under the weights. On that particular one, the teacher ran out of weights to put on it and it was still standing strong.

The book of Nahum in the Bible is a book of prophesy that spoke of a time of calamity and hard times that were coming. Unlike some other books of prophesy, this one was designed to administer peace in those times. Even the name of the prophet God chose to write the book Nahum has significance to the prophesy. It means comfort. I believe God was telling the readers of this book that no matter how bad things get, He is there to comfort us and give us peace.

Nahum 1:7 says, “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him” (NLT). I love that first phrase. It’s not a promise, it’s a fact. The Lord is good. He’s also strong. Each of us have a breaking point under the weight of stress, but God doesn’t. He is a strong refuge when we are weighed down. We must learn to trust Him with our burdens and the weights that we carry. Even though at times it feels like we’re alone, He is close to us ready to comfort us in our time of need and able to handle the weight that would crush us.

If you’ve been going through a tough time and have been wondering where God is it how could a good God allow bad things to happen, check out my friend’s book “God is Here” by clicking here.

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Overcome

I love the song “Overcome” sung by Jeremy Camp. It was written by a friend of his who went to a church that went through some difficult times. One of the incidents was where a gunman came in and opened fire killing several people. The church’s response wasn’t to close down or to operate in fear. Instead, this song became their anthem. They took their focus off of themselves and their situation, and put it on the one who has already overcome and who gives us victory. I think this song resonates with so many people because we all go through difficulties. We all have times in our lives when we’re desperate.

When you think about those times in your life, there’s a voice in your head that tells you, “No one else is going through this. You’re the only one who is experiencing this. You’re alone. No one understands.” Those lies are meant to isolate you and to keep you quiet. They are the first step in defeating you, but you must not listen to them. While your situation may be unique to you, the pain you feel has been felt by many and will be felt by others in the future. When you’re quiet about what you’re experiencing, you prevent those who can help you from coming to your aid. You also fail to give hope to those who will experience pain in the future.

Revelations 12:11 says, “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony” (NLT). If we’re quiet, we’re defeated, but if we speak, we defeat our accuser. Testimonies are powerful and our enemy would rather we stay quiet. If God has brought you through something, tell your story. It’s in your pain that others will find their healing. It’s in telling your story that you will overcome. Don’t be a prison to your past pain any longer. Share it even if it’s with one person, and defeat your enemy.

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Here’s a link to the video of the song.

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