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Category Archives: Wednesday’s Word

Rainbow After The Storm – Finding Hope In Midst Of Hurting

The sun glistened on the fresh raindrops outside the car window.  Partially dry windshield wipers screech across the window clearing the rain from the brief mid-June shower.

As I lifted my heavy head from my hands and wiped the pool of tears from my eyes, there painted across the sky in the most brilliant colors, was a rainbow. A promise. A covenant signifying hope after the storm, beauty after devastation.

Beauty, after this storm, Lord? Could there ever be?

Nothing would bring my brother back. Not only was I was mourning the loss of someone precious to me, but hopeless thoughts of his eternal home sank deep into my soul. Questions raced. Bargaining of “what if” and regret of “if only” stifled any strength I had left. How can anything beautiful come from such a tragic ending?

While I will never understand why this or other tragedies have to happen, I now know a side of my Father I never knew before. My Merciful Helper showed up with unparalleled strength, matchless healing, and restoration of hope.

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Perhaps, you find yourself grieving the loss of a loved one, miscarriage, a broken marriage, health, stability, or a dream. I’m here to assure you there is One who can take your wounded, weary, burdened soul and fill you with hope and joy in return.

But what do you do while you travel through this valley of despair? How do you get to the other side when you feel like you’re surrounded by nothing but lifeless, dry bones? Grieve. Receive. Believe. And Agree.

GRIEVE

1. Allow Yourself To Grieve.

Grieving is a natural response to pain and loss. Psalm 126:5 says, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy (NIV).” Did you know the chemical makeup found in emotional tears are extremely different than normal lubricating tears? Filled with higher levels of manganese, they provide a “mental cleansing” and increased mood. But, there’s no wrong or right way to grieve. The point is to permit yourself to do so, not to ignore or suppress your feelings. Roller coaster emotions are common: there will be good days and indeed hard days. Sow, scatter, shed your tears. However, whenever, wherever and with whomever.

  • Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. Psalm 126:5-6 NIV
  • Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. 1 Samuel 30:4
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 NIV

2. Be Willing To Do Your Part. 

Notice, in Psalm 126:6, the person goes out weeping BUT still carrying seed to sow. We must be willing to do our part in the healing process. In addition to seeking God, this may include talking to friends, church family, or counseling. As an introvert, all I wanted to do was withdraw, avoiding any contact with the outside world. But, isolation only makes you vulnerable to enemy invasion. As hard as it seems, keep living. Go out weeping, and you WILL return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves of healing with you.

  • Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV

RECIEVE

1. Sorrow Is Temporary.

When you’re in the midst of grief’s valley and all you see are the mountains of despair hovering over you, it’s hard to believe there will ever be better days. Eyes grow weak with tears, the body weary with sorrow, and anguish consumes strength. Walk through the valley but don’t get stuck there. Don’t stop and build a tent somewhere along grief’s journey. It’s been a little over two years since my brother’s death and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, but the sorrow that gripped me has diminished. There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV).

  • Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 NIV
  • … weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5 NIV

2. God’s Word

This might go without saying, but God speaks most through His Word. When you need to hear His comforting voice, dig into His love letter to you. I can’t tell you how many times God met me on the pages of Psalms. During the darkest time of my grieving, when I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, Psalm 119:105 became my lifeline verse. His word gave me just enough light to see each next step, guiding me through the valley and onto healing. If you don’t know where to start, the book of Psalms is a great place. Be prepared to be met by His comforting arms.

  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 NIV
  • The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 NIV

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BELIEVE

1. God Will Bring Good Out Of Tragedy

For a child of God, suffering is never wasted. He alone can bring good out of our tragedies. If we allow God to use our pain, we will once again sing with joy. God can multiply the seeds, make them grow, and return them a thousand fold like sheaves. But, just like a seed looks completely different than the growing plant, our “sheaves” may look completely different than what we sow and expect. Either way, only our Redeemer can wipe every tear from your eyes and return what the enemy has stolen.

  • And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

2. Times of Refreshing Are Coming

Be patient. Waiting on the Lord’s timing, not leaning on our understanding, is a test of trust. Will we wait for His leading or, out of frustration, will we jump ahead to what we think is best for our lives? Like a farmer who sows seeds and waits to carry sheaves, we too must wait on the Lord to renew our strength and replace our joy. He will give you wings to soar above the circumstances, to run the course and not grow weary, and to walk this season of sorrow and not faint.

  • But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
  • Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! Psalm 31:24
  • The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

AGREE

1. To Share Your Story

There is a gift of understanding that comes from sharing your story with others. Understanding you’re not alone. Not in your suffering, your feelings, your fears, your thoughts … NOTHING. A gift of understanding that, while some may be a little further ahead or behind, others are traveling the same journey to find hope and healing. God has strategically aligned my path with others going through similar grief and used my story as a key to lifting their burden on the journey. So, allow your pain to bring healing to someone else.

  • Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

What if you’re not the one going through the grief. What can you do to for others?

To read about some ways you can help those grieving, join me over at DebbieKitterman.com where I’m guest posting. I hope to see you there!

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Aligning Our Time With Eternity – Creating A Christ-Centered Calendar

“If it doesn’t fall out in the next week, we’ll need to pull it,” the dentist said, further explaining the implications on the permanent tooth.

My daughter is at that age where it seems as though all her friends are having some form of dental work – teeth pulled, expanders, braces or a combination. The reality is their mouths are limited in space. Not big enough for the new teeth coming in, their mouths become crowded leaving permanent teeth searching for a resting place.

Our time on earth is a lot like their mouths – limited. So often, I have tried to cram things into my already busy schedule. All the while, they push, twist and misalign God’s plan, leaving His eternal work, well, searching for a resting place or worse – not coming in at all.

To expand our time and align our schedules, we may need to pull some things from our limited resource of time. While this will come with some temporary discomfort, it’s necessary to making room for permanent, eternal things.

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1.) Determine Which “Teeth” Are Crowding

Time is a precious resource which, to be honest, can run out at any time. As short or long as it is, our time belongs to God. Unfortunately, busyness has become a badge we wear with honor. When we prayerfully seek first His kingdom and righteousness, all other things – including our calendar – fall into place. To live on purpose and make time count for eternity, seek His guidance on what activities have little “return on investment.”

  • But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God. My times are in your hands.” Psalm 31:14-15 NIV
  • But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you. Matthew 6:33 NIV

2.) Pull Unnecessary Baby “Teeth” Activities

The longer they sit there, the more crowded our life becomes and the more distorted our calendars look. There’s no room for incoming “new teeth” because the old ones are still there. Like my daughter’s permanent tooth, eternal things find its resting place hidden behind the temporary baby activities. The writer of Hebrews tells us to throw off everything that hinders the race marked out for us. Not everything that distracts us is sinful, but everything that distracts us takes our eyes of the Author and Perfector of our faith.

  • … Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 NIV
  • For if these things reside in you and abound, they ensure that you will neither be useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:8 NIV

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3.) Set Braces In Place

For those who have worn braces, you know there are certain off limit foods – no exceptions. To create a straight calendar, we must wear Godly braces. This may mean saying no to certain things until you have complete alignment. In Biblical times, walls were a means of protection from enemy invasion. In the same way, setting braces in place creates protection from attacks on our time. God thought enough about “braces” to establish the Sabbath, a day of rest from the busyness of life.

  • Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. Proverbs 25:28 NIV
  • Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. Exodus 20:9-10 NIV

4.) Wear A Retainer

Perhaps one of the most important things to do once our schedules are aligned is to “wear” a retainer. Just as teeth have a way of slipping back to their memory spot, humans have a high tendency to return to former ways. For our family, this retainer means committing to nothing other than church on Sundays. With this retainer in place, it’s an automatic NO to sports with practices or games and even Bible study groups that meet on this day. Choosing to be unmovable gives us the margin to abound in His work.

  • Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV

Did my little girl have to have her tooth pulled? Nope! I’m happy to say after days of pulling, pushing, and wiggling that stubborn tooth; it finally fell out. Instead of waking up with a tooth extraction appointment, she woke to a tooth fairy reward nicely tucked under the pillow.

Savior, we don’t want to regret the time we’ve spent on “baby teeth” when we could have made that time count for eternity. Help us not to cheat our lives of the great blessings you invite us to. Give us the strength to pull meaningless tasks from our schedule and make room for what matters most. May Your reward be tucked into the crevices of a heart set on you. In Jesus name, Amen!

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When Anxiety Is High

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When the multitude of anxious thoughts flood your mind today, can He be your consolation? When the worries of the world, the chaos of life, and fear of tomorrow take center stage, will you let Him bring you delight, cheer, and rejoicing to your soul?

Today, when your foot feels like it’s slipping, let His loving-kindness and mercy hold you up.

When doubt takes your mind captive, He is the soothing hand to comfort you.

When the butterflies take flight in you, He is the soft voice whispering words of comfort.

When an anxious cold sweat overtakes your flesh, He is the cool breeze of help blowing through your hair.

When your heart races ahead of your chest, He is the peace that holds you in place.

He is your calm, your joy, your rest – today.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. Psalm 94:19 NIV

 

 

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Walking out of Yesterday’s Shackles: When You’re Physically Free But Mentally Enslaved

They laced up their shoes and headed for the starting line. What seemed to be a typical half marathon soon changed as the contestants began strapping on weights. Arm weights. Chest weights. Ankle weights. The ultimate challenge – run the race carrying the weight they had recently lost. Runners strapped on 75 – 115 lbs as a reminder of what used to weigh their lives down, keeping them from living to their potential.

On an elevated level, I am convinced we do this as believers. We strap on rejection, a painful past, fear, guilt, and old habits and attempt to run the marathon of life. Burdens that are no longer ours to bear, paid in full by the cross, continue to hold us down, molding our identity, shaping our longings.

The Israelites were no stranger to this weird phenomenon. After 400 years of slavery, they were finally free – physically. With each struggle in the desert, they longed to return to their land of slavery. The chains that held them in cruel bondage and discouragement were familiar, a sense of security in an unknown desert land. They were physically free but mentally slaves.

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For many of us, while we walk in freedom from the chains of death, we remain mentally chained to our past. Not realizing God does some of His greatest work through the frailest people.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone! When you find yourself returning to familiar chains, strapping on the heavy load of a previous you, there are a few things you can do.

1. Understand This Is A Lifelong Battle

The enemy knows our name, but he calls us by our failures. As long as we are still breathing, the enemy is still dangling memories, trying to get us to strap on the hurt. Recognizing this is a lifelong struggle is a key to standing in victory and not feeling defeated. It’s not a once win, always win. As believers, we are not absent from pain and suffering caused by ourselves or others. Hurts will arise. Sin will creep in. We must be ready, not exchanging the peace of freedom for the bait of slavery. Until we meet Jesus face to face, the marathon of life continues. Remaining focused on the heavenly goal, we will forget what is behind, strain toward what is ahead, and press on to the heavenward prize.

  • For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. Romans 7:22-23
  • Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12
  • Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

KEEP PRESSING FORWARD ~  PHILIPPIANS 3:13


2. Choose Your Thoughts

Paying close attention to our thoughts is key to living shackle free. What we think comes out in our actions and words. Physically held by force, bound by the Spirit at work in us, our thoughts must become obedient to Christ. Anything – EVERYTHING – that sets itself up against God must be crushed, annihilated, destroyed. This doesn’t mean ignoring the thoughts because they seemingly return. It requires renewing your mind. Dwelling on God’s Word, not the voices that call you back to former things. God’s desire is to use the painful past to make a way in the wilderness, streams in the wasteland. He is doing a new thing in your life! Do you perceive it?

  • We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
  • Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah. 43:18-19
  •  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

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3. Realize You Are Created Victorious

With every unwelcomed circumstance or thought, a choice is at hand. Will we choose to be a victim or victor? The moment you accepted Christ, the weight He bore on the cross broke the heavy shackles, and your burden lifted. His death and resurrection swallowed slavery – for good! So, when those lies of defeat, discouragement, and bondage come knocking, let the Savior answer. Under the pillar of the cross, we take our stand of victory. The smallest victories are worthy of a celebration; turn them into a conversation of gratitude with the King.

  • But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)
  • For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. Deuteronomy 20:4 (NIV)
  •  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)
  • No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37

4. Stand on the promise of God

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) so who we are (or aren’t) isn’t nearly as important as who He is. Even when you feel defeated, and the circumstances tip the scale toward a victim, chose to stand on the promises of God. Heaven and earth may pass away but God’s word will not. The foundation of His throne is faithfulness. He does not violate His covenant or alter what His lips have already uttered (Psalm 89:34). Whether you need strength, healing, courage, wisdom, peace, or anything else, stand on the gift of His promise. Like any gift, though you have to receive it, unwrap it, and use it.

  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! Galatians 2:20
  • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “YES” in Christ. And so through Him the “AMEN” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)

Father, thank you for taking the weight of the world’s sin so we can walk with our heads held height. Help us to understand this lifelong battle, choose our thoughts wisely, walk victorious and stand on Your promises. We want to be free both eternally and mentally. Help me overcome the noise of my past. For no matter how many promises God has made, we say “yes” and “AMEN”. All for the glory of God!

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MAKING CHRIST LORD OF YOUR LIPS WITH FREE 28-PAGE WORKBOOK – OVERFLOW OF THE HEART

Have you ever squeezed an orange only to have lemon juice come out? No? Me neither!

While that may be a silly analogy, the same applies to us. When the pressures of life squeeze us, what’s on the inside pours out in our words and actions. Proverbs 27:19 says, as water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart (NIV).

What would our reflections be? Would they display grace and encouragement, nourishing those around us? Or, would the words of our mouth reflect the frustration, anger, and bitterness of hearts grown cold?

In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus put it like this, you won’t find grapes on briers or figs on thornbushes. The tree is recognized by the fruit it produces. Whatever fills the heart, bubbles up and flows through our mouth (paraphrasing).

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The truth is, from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. To change our speech, the words we use, the tone we use, and the motivation of our words, we have to get to the heart of the issue. So download your Making Christ Lord Of My Lips Workbook (sign up for the newsletter) and let’s get started!

1.) TASTE YOUR WORDS

The words of our mouth are the fruit of our hearts. If you were to “eat” your words, would sweet, refreshing orange juice or bitter lemon juice flow? Would your stomach turn sour, or be satisfied? What is the health of your fruit?

  • From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips, he is satisfied. Proverbs 18:20 (NIV)

2.) DETERMINE WHAT MOTIVATES YOUR SPEECH

Last week we talked about the different forms of poison our mouths can produce. Of the areas you struggle with, what is the underlying root? Is it anger? The expectation of perfection? Frustration? Pride and arrogance? Jealousy? Fear? Perversion? Acceptance? Hurt? Lack of gratitude? Need for attention? Determining the cause is key to “uprooting” the weed.

  • Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Matthew 7:17-18 NKJV
  • For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7 NKJV

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3. CONFESS, REPENT, AND REPEAT

In Psalm 32, David talks about his body wasting away as he kept silent about his sin. Confessing lifts the heaviness from our soul, opening the line of communication with God. The heart of the Father has always been to turn His children back to Him. Resist the enemy’s urge and, over time, the urge will flee.

  • If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NIV)
  • Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19 (NIV)
  • Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (NIV)

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. – Margaret Thatcher


4.) COMMIT TO MAKING CHRIST LORD OF YOUR LIPS

Lord – master, captain, commander, King, leader, boss, director, instructor and judge. Whoever sits on the throne of one’s heart, determines the life lived. There is only room for one King on the throne. Either we give all access to our King, allowing Him to steer, direct, and lead or we retain the reigns and direct our own lives.

  • For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 (NIV)
  • Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37 (NIV)
  • But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

5.) STORE GOD’S WORD IN YOUR HEART

To keep our ways pure, we have to live according to His word, seeking Him with all our heart. Hiding His Word in our hearts keeps us heavenly focused and deters us from sin. Though the Making Christ Lord Of My Lips Workbook has scripture relating to our heart, words and renewing the mind, there are verses for every area we struggle in. Search the Bible for them, write them down, commit them to memory.

  • I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
  • I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. Psalm 119:7 (NIV)

6.) GUARD YOUR HEART

Our hearts are the source of life both spiritually and physically. If we don’t guard it with the breastplate of Christ’s righteousness, we leave our lives open to enemy invasion. Do you find yourself around others who draw those weaknesses out? Are there certain environments or entertainment inviting it into your life?

  • Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Proverbs 4:23-24 (NIV)
  • Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20 (ESV)
  • Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV)
  • Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked. Proverbs 25:26 (NIV)

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Guard that time well.


If you missed last week’s discussion on the lifelong damage of the tongue, be sure to check it out!

Don’t forget to download Making Christ Lord of Your Lips Workbook. This 28-page workbook has a 31-Day reading plan, questions, guided prayers, as well as a scripture reading plan for each area discussed in Scripture.

Our family is doing the study together over the summer. I’d love to hear how you use it!

Blessings!
Esther

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[…] MAKING CHRIST LORD OF YOUR LIPS WITH FREE 28-PAGE WORKBOOK – OVERFLOW OF THE HEART […]

[…] to mention, I want my words to heal wounds, not cause them. How then do we tame the tongue? Join me next week as we get to the heart of the issue! […]