LNever Alone!

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Has there ever been a time in your life where you felt alone, abandoned or simply forsaken? Has anyone ever let you down you thought you may never recover? Have you ever trusted in someone so much yet the person couldn’t live up to your expectations? Have you ever been so devastated by someone’s selfish actions?

I have experienced all of the above during a painful time in my life. I had just given birth to my fourth child…a precious baby girl. My life was turned inside out and backwards when my husband; the person I thought would be there for me and for our family would leave the state for another woman. Not only that, but he would take my car fifty miles away and leave it at the airport while stealing the last few dollars I literally had out of my wallet.

The pain in the pit of my stomach was more than I could stand. This was devastating. Alone and feeling desperate, I couldn’t process what was happening. I had just given birth to this man’s child. How in the world does a person leave another during such a vulnerable time? Where were the compassion, the love and the sense of duty to stick through the good and bad times?

The painful memories still haunt me. I didn’t have enough diapers for my baby girl. I recall thinking “what in this world am I going to do?” This was truly one of the lowest points in my entire life. He wasn’t a good man and had many times hoped I’d be free of him, but the way this unfolded was just tragic.

Before I was left abandoned, this man verbally attacked me. Over and over he devalued me, telling me no one would ever want me. He degraded me, and I was convinced I was not someone worthy of anyone else. I was no good. The messages of not being enough and I would be alone forever echoed throughout my mind on constant repeat.

So now he’s gone, and instead of feeling relieved, I’m wondering if I would now be alone the rest of my life. Would I now be one of those spinster cat women you see on TV? I was blessed with four beautiful children, but I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d be known as the five musketeers from now on. So many questions ran through my mind, and the enemy was right there throwing so much chaos at me I didn’t know which way to turn.

I had felt abandoned and isolated as we had just moved out to the country. I was now away from the city and in a town of 600 people and cow pastures everywhere. I felt like I was on a Green Acres episode, and my name was Lisa. “New York is where I’d rather stay, I get allergic smelling hay.”

Ironically the town we moved to was called Godly. Hmmm… maybe this wasn’t a coincidence in my life. But at the time, all I knew is I had no husband, and I had no idea where God was.

Jesus tells us to call upon Him in Psalm 91:15. The promise is God will not only answer us, He will free and honor us! However, I cried out and could not hear or feel His presence. His Word instructs us to call on Him, yet all I heard was deafening silence. This only confirmed the ugly lies my husband spoke over me as I now believed I wasn’t worth of God’s love either.

But it would not be long before I would have an encounter that would show me the truth that nothing can separate us from God’s love. After husband left and I cried out to God, He showed up in a powerful way. His healing restoration started working in my life when a co-worker called and heard the loss in my voice. I guess it was too difficult for me to hide the feelings of devastation and betrayal. I didn’t have to hash out my feeling as this co-worker simply asked me if there was anything he could do to help.

I didn’t want to ask for anything, but my newborn baby girl only had a few diapers left and wouldn’t make it through the night. Reluctantly I asked if he would mind bringing me a couple of diapers. He came quickly with a big box and just comforted me. No expectations… just kindness.

Isn’t that just like the Lord? In Psalm 34:18 it says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God was right there, and He sent me someone to comfort me and freely provide the compassion and resources I desperately needed.

This experience taught me several key lessons:

  • God is always listening
  • He will always answer our prayers, even when we don’t think He is
  • He is always for us
  • I am His daughter, the daughter of the King
  • I am loved by God

People are all human although some don’t always act in the most humane ways. We will make mistakes. Some will fail us, disappoint us and hurt us. There is only one who will never abandon, and that is Jesus Christ. In fact Hebrews 13:5 tells us that Christ said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We are never alone.

And to make sure I knew I’d never be alone, God brought the co-worker to my door. That man, who showed me such sincere kindness, ultimately became my husband. And we have been happily married now for 16 years. I was never left to be the cat woman, and I was never left alone to single parent my four kids. I was given the desire of my heart.

John, my spouse, is the most kindhearted, compassionate, loving, responsible man that calls my children his own. He even adopted them and gave them his name… a reflection of how God adopts us when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior.

Even in my darkest moments, when I thought I was rejected and abandoned… I was never alone. The truth was then and is now simple: my God is always with me, and He is also always with you.

You might be going through a devastating experience right now, I can tell you from experience that our God is there with you in the midst. You might not be able to see Him, but let me assure you, He is there.

Even if you feel far from Him, He is there. Believe the scripture and believe me when I say, He will never leave you or forsake you. You can count on God when everything else might be chaos. Don’t listen to the chatter of the enemy, but instead listen for God’s still small voice and be comforted in His presence.

Courageous one, if it is time for you to receive God’s love, assured that He will never leave you or forsake you to strengthen you, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and trust that God’s word will never condemn or harm you in anyway.

Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come into agreement with the lie, I take responsibility for believing that ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen!

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. Can you remember and describe a time in your life when you tried to hear God’s voice but couldn’t hear Him? What is one verse you can find that could help you in the future so that you never feel alone again?
  2. What are some lies about God that you might be believing that could be causing distance between you and the Father? What verses of the Bible could replace the lies with God’s truth?
  3. How can you usher in the presence of God to hear his voice clearly? Challenge yourself to ask God a question, sit quietly and wait for Him to answer. Make this a regular practice and watch Him draw near to you as you pursue Him.
  4. Do you know in your heart that God is a perfect Father? If you are not sure, reflect on His goodness and recall times He has shown you He is always with you.

You Are Truly Beautiful!

Shirley Temple c.1935

When I was six years old, we moved to Berlin, Germany, to where my dad, who was in the Airforce, was stationed. We were a long way from all that I held dear and called home – my friends, family, familiar surroundings and the comforts of American life.

Not long after settling in, my mom took me to get a haircut. I was so excited to have a new style ­– a short Pixie cut. It looked really pretty on the beautiful model in the picture we saw, and I just knew it would look that good on me.

After the blow dry, I whirled around the chair. My new look was revealed. What I saw staring back at me in the mirror was definitely not the model. I instantly burst into tears. I was devastated and cried out “I look like a boy.”

Gone were my beautiful blonde curly locks, and that initial reaction played over and over in my mind. “I look like a boy.” Instantly I began to believe I looked ugly. After all, I had gone from Shirley Temple to Jerry Mathers on Leave it to Beaver in the blink of an eye. This was a traumatic event for this six-year-old beauty, and as a result, the door was opened to the enemy.

The lie went from bad to worse – from looking ugly to being ugly. Soon the lies became “I am ugly.” This one lie haunted me throughout most of my life. When I came into agreement that I was not pretty, my heart was wounded. The scars from that day would impact my life for decades.

The truth was then and is not still the truth – I wasn’t ugly at all. I had been marked and labeled by the father of lies, and I unknowingly created a core image of myself that was in direct opposition to the Word of God. I believed I wasn’t beautiful.

What I didn’t understand at that young age was in God’s eyes we are all beautiful. We are all stunning pieces of artwork designed masterfully by the Creator of the Universe. In fact, it says in Psalm 139:14 that you and I are uniquely and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:13-16 of the Message translation so eloquently says:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something… Before I’d even lived one day.

God’s Word says we are marvelously made! It’s really hard to wrap our minds around this concept, but isn’t it amazing that He stood in “awe” as He made each one of us? To be blown away by His creations means He must think we are His works of art – beautiful masterpieces.

Ephesians 2 confirms this for it is it written in verse 10, “For we are God’s masterpiece.”

A masterpiece by definition is a person’s greatest piece of work and anything done with masterly skill. So the Lord’s created piece of work is each one of us. How amazing is that?

I’ve often heard the phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This means each of us has our own opinion about beauty. But wouldn’t it be great if our only measure of beauty came solely from the One who created it?

In Ecclesiastes 3:11 we learn God made every thing beautiful in His time. But what exactly does the word beautiful mean? It is defined as possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction. To see, hear, think about that which delights the senses or mind. Excellent of it’s kind; wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying.

Sadly it would take half my life before I realized the whisper of negativity in my mind was from the enemy. I had been listening to a liar and degrading my self worth – all while grieving the One who loved me most.

Earlier this year, I experienced a pivotal moment that tore down a major stronghold in my life. It was as if God spoke to me exactly like was spoken in Song of Solomon. “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone.” (2:10-11)

One morning I was looking in the mirror putting on make-up and styling my hair. My daughter Heather had placed several sticky notes on the glass with some of God’s truths. One of them said, “You are beautiful.”

As I finished reading the last word a negative thought ran through my mind. “Remember that time when you didn’t put any make up on and didn’t style your hair very well? Did you feel beautiful that day?”

I suddenly had a sinking feeling in my stomach. That was not my thought, but rather it was a lying spirit. Was I going to continue on believing as that little six-year-old child did, or would I finally stand up and silence the accuser once and for all?

I stared at that paper and felt like God wanted me to arise! I finally allowed the truth to sink into my heart. I am God’s beautiful masterpiece. In an instant, I was free to accept my true identity. I am beautiful.

Do you recognize any areas in your life where the enemy speaks death? If so, what is the lie you have come into agreement with? What Bible verse could silence the negativity by replacing truth with the lie?

If it is time for you to arise, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and know God’s Word will never condemn or harm you in any way.

Father God, I thank you that you the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come into agreement with a lie. I take responsibility for believing that ___________________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _________________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen.

Questions to pray and ponder:

1. Where are your vulnerable places that you have felt pounded by the enemy?

2. What lies are you listening to from the enemy that steals your peace and joy?

3. What can you do to replace and cover those lies with God’s truth and love when the enemy comes at you?

He Loves Me. He Loves Me Not. He Loves Me!

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Never was there a princess so loved in the world! The day I was born it was as if you could hear the angels singing and rejoicing with my family! I was like royalty or from Hollywood the way everyone fussed over me with so much love.

Grandpa Keeney especially hung on my every word; he thought I was the cutest little girl ever. I recall him telling me, “You would say, “calk grandpa” when you wanted to take a walk or refer to my movie star sunglasses as ‘sasses’.” I was lavished with attention, and I liked it.

I was 12 years old when my parents divorced, and it was very traumatic. I was the oldest, and maybe because I had my parents all to myself, this hit me the hardest of all. As a result I started acting out behaviorally. I went from feeling like a princess to hearing the crickets in the darkness.

We went for a visit to my Grandparent’s home. One day I was called downstairs into Grandpa’s dimly lit office. My sister had made some long distance phone calls, and Grandpa thought I did it. I can still recall the accusations and harsh words. His voice was cold and stern. Scared, I told Grandpa I didn’t do it, but he didn’t believe me. I was crushed. Where was my doting Grandpa? The one that recited every sentence I spoke and made me feel so special. I didn’t know this man.

I was devastated for I was innocent! I proclaimed my innocence again, this time asking him to question others. He questioned my sister, “Suzie, honey did you make those phone calls?” She responded, “No Grandpa.” What? Were my ears deceiving me?

I was in disbelief. I wondered where was my grace? I was stunned at how sweet he was to her and how, he was so harshly accusing me.

To top it all off, my sister wasn’t telling the truth. Like all kids, I’m sure she was scared to come clean. And with the lie, Grandpa proceeds to have the same conversation with my sister Lisa who also denied making the calls. In the end, I was found guilty even though I was innocent, and a piece of my heart broke.

The truth regarding who made the phone calls came out, but the damage to me was done. I believed the lie Grandpa didn’t love me. I was unworthy of love due to my acting out. These lies would scar me and impact me for years to come.

Maybe a month later we journeyed on to Grandma Roberts’s house. I wasn’t sure what to expect during this visit, but God knew what I needed. My Grandma restored my tired soul and refreshed me.

She greeted us with warmth and displayed love, honor, dignity and respect. She respected the stage I was at in life – she even let me shave me legs for the first time, and I felt like I was inducted in to the hall of womanhood.

On the way to Grandmother’s house I was riddled in fear and reluctant to trust. My Grandpa’s harsh accusation and judgment had wounded my soul; my heart had been penetrated by the fiery darts of the enemy, and I wasn’t sure anyone would love me now.

Years later I reflected on those summer trips and how very different they were. First I learned how it felt to be wrongly accused and convicted because of preconceived perceptions. Then my Grandmother showed me a snippet of how God showers us with grace even when we don’t deserve it. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

I can imagine that God’s amazing love is so much greater than how it was when I was a baby. Lamentations 3:22-25 clearly spells it out:

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”

It’s just so sweet the way God used my Grandmother to help undo some of the damage done by my Grandpa. I was so grieved, yet the Lord brought me some redemption even when I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t do anything wrong at Grandpa’s, but remember I told you that I had been acting out. I felt shame for the way I had been acting. Did I deserve to be treated poorly? God says no, but I believed the lie that yes… I deserved punishment.

I should have been given the benefit of doubt. I should have been innocent until proven guilty. But I was deceived into believing I was loved based on condition and feeling. I longed to feel wholly loved and accepted for who I was.

As a result, I searched for unconditional love for years. I believed I wasn’t good enough, therefore love was always based on how I acted, whether I said the right things, wore the right clothes or behaved the way people wanted me to. I had to be perfect in someone’s eyes and meet all of their needs in order to be loved by them. This sadly set up a lot of co-dependent, unhealthy relationships.

I went through massive trauma and suffered though divorce because I was so wounded.

Freedom came when I realized the truth was I didn’t need the love of any person or man. What I had been longing for was God’s love. It was freeing to learn that He alone satisfies the desire of my heart. It says in, Psalm 21:2 “You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.” It’s God’s desire for us to love Him, and Him to love us.

Many of us struggle in our walk with God because we view Him as having the same traits as an authority figure. I was caught in a web of lies the enemy spun from my relationship with my Grandpa. I believed God could only love me conditionally just like Grandpa did. It was an easy lie to believe since it was Grandpa introduced me to God. He was a pastor – wouldn’t he be like God?

Do you believe God is distant? Do you see Him as a punisher? Cold? Distant? If you believe anything contrary to what the Bible teaches, it’s time that stronghold be broken! The truth is the God of the universe does not offer conditions to the love He has toward each one of us. He loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

In 1 John 4:8, the author proclaims, “God is love.” He chose us. He loves everything about us. His word says He created us with awe, thought about us and made each one of us unique and wonderful.

The truth is I am loved, and it is not based on condition. God loves me in my weakness and worst moments. And He loves you like that too!

Pressing into God’s love taught me that my identity was not associated with others perceptions of me. Only God’s opinion matters, and He says I am the apple of His eye.

I also discovered I really am a princess. I am His princess! I have been adopted into royalty. The good news is when you accept the love of God by way of His Son Jesus Christ you can be adopted into His vast royal Kingdom too.

Beloved one, are you sick of believing you don’t matter, don’t measure up and will never be worthy of love? It’s time to silence the accuser once and for all. To receive God’s love, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith and believe His Word will never condemn or harm you.

Father God, I thank you that your love is unfailing and not based on conditions. I recognize I have come into agreement with a lie that I am not worthy of love. I take responsibility for believing ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie in the might name of Jesus. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. I thank you and give you all praise. Amen!

A next step:
If you are ready to feel the love of God in a deeper way, put some worship music on, start praising and worshiping God with all of your heart. God always shows up when we worship Him. When we praise God it is a labor of love that honors God, and honor begets honor. Spending time in a position of praise allows the Lord to fill you with His unfailing love until you are overflowing. If you are struggling, ask God to show any lies you believe about Him and sit quietly and listen for Him to respond. Clear your mind and just focus on quieting your mind from all the usual chatter. Allow yourself to be filled with His all consuming love, and I promise you’ll be glad you did. His presence will change your life.

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. What is the condition of your relationship with God?
  2. In what ways have you experienced God’s love?
  3. How can you strengthen your faith and be assured of God’s love?

You are a Force to Reckon With!

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My sister Lisa was a 13-year-old blonde beauty with big blue eyes. With a heart of gold, she was so full of love and was one of the most caring, compassionate and courageous people I’ve ever met. While I was out blowing my allowance, Lisa saved hers all year to buy Christmas presents. She never thought of herself – she was always thinking of others.

I always felt it was my role to take care of my baby sister. And when the worst happened, I was riddled with guilt as I was supposed to be strong enough to save her. While her sickness and death was totally out of my control, the enemy heaped lie after lie upon me, and I believed every one.

After all, I was her older sister. At the age of 17 how could I let this happen? Even though I was just a young woman excited about the future, my shame would ultimately convince me I shouldn’t look to my future when she didn’t have a future. My world was changed forever with the loss of my precious sister.

The world lost one of the most amazing little girls God had ever created, and I just knew it was my fault. While the angels were rejoicing the day Lisa went to heaven I was drowning in tears. I didn’t understand God’s ways. I accused Him. Why God? Why?

Lisa’s death was one of the hardest things I’ve had to endure in my life. From the moment she drew her last breath, sadly I was never the same.

Has there been a time in your life you ever felt powerless or weak? Have you experienced a time when you didn’t know how you would make it one more minute, never the less one more day? I have, and it was only through God’s strength in me that I was able to endure and move past the mourning season. It wasn’t an easy time for me, but God was there every moment comforting me as only He could.

This was a season I learned the true meaning of Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I needed a refuge, and it was Elohim, the Father, Spirit and Son, that carried me through this most difficult time. I’ve heard it said time heals all wounds, but I have come to understand that time didn’t heal anything… it was Jesus Christ who brought be back to life!

Before this tragedy, I was a carefree, STRONG woman. Full of courage and vigor, I wasn’t afraid of anything. However, after her death, I went from being fearless to fearful. The enemy used my sister’s death to make me afraid and weak. I felt shame for having to go on without her.

Her death left a hole in my heart the enemy filled with lies. I felt lack, defeated and scared. Instability had set in, and I wondered if my life and my family member’s lives would be normal again.

In John 10:10 we are warned the enemy comes to steal, and to kill and to destroy. The enemy killed my sister, destroyed the family I’d known and stole my truth.

But the good news is God made a way for me to be victorious over the enemy when I was able to stand up and fight. Jesus encourages us in the scripture “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

My story didn’t end in demise after I found hope in Jesus Christ and bolstered my faith in His promises.

I’m so thankful for God’s grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

This means because of His grace, there is nothing we have to work for. We can rely on His strength in our weakness. It took me a little while to grasp this scripture as I was used to relying on my own strength. When I finally came to the place that I could accept His grace and received it as a gift I grew strong again.

Gaining that strength required me to dig into the deep places in my heart to see the strongholds and lies I had been bought into. The Lord was faithful to protect me and help me every step of the way!

It happened just as 2 Timothy 4:17 described: …the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…

Years later, my daughter went through a traumatic time in her life. She needed a mom who could listen with no judgement, keep an open mind, and could love her no matter what she had to say and no matter how difficult it was to hear.

While I will not share the details of that time, what I can say is that it was the hardest conversation I ever had to hear and the greatest challenge of my life. It was such a blessing that I had learned how to lean on the strength of the Lord during the season of my sister’s death. It was only in His strength that I was able to support, prop up and comfort my daughter! I would be a force to reckon with. I would be strong for her. I would fight the enemy when she couldn’t.

She needed to know irrevocably that I believed in her and in the truth! We stood together, and with many prayers and God’s help we preserved through this time! I not only had strength for myself, but also was able to pour into my daughter the love that Jesus Christ had poured into me. It was beautiful, and today I can look at how she now pours that strength and love out to others as well.

2 Corinthians 12:10 says for when I am weak, then I am strong. It was in weakness I was able to access the strength that Jesus Christ provides. He is our strength if we will reach out and receive all He has for us.

I was never weak or powerless just as I was not responsible for the death of my sister. The truth then, the truth when my daughter needed me and the truth now is simple: I am courageous, a tower of strength and a child of the most high God. I am all He says I am!

The good news is that no matter what the enemy whispers in your ear, the truth is you are also strong, courageous and a child of the Most High. You are a force to reckon with!

Courageous one, if you have grown weary in a difficult season of your life, it’s time to receive God’s grace to strengthen you. It’s easy. Simply repeat the prayer below, have faith and trust God’s word will never condemn or harm you in anyway. Say out loud the following:

Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize I have come into agreement with lies. I take responsibility for believing that ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen.

Questions to pray and ponder over:

  1. Have you ever felt powerless or responsible for something that was not in your control? Repent and ask God to remove all spirits of accusation, false burden bearing, guilt and shame. And then give Him thanks and praise for setting you free.
  2. What are some things you can do to get the strength needed to get through a difficult time?
  3. Do you feel defeated in a situation right now?  How can you replace the lie that the enemy hoisted upon you with God’s truth and find strength in Him?

Pray out loud and ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to find a scripture then start meditating on it and let God’s truth take root in your heart. This is a good first step to start living free and victoriously!

If you want to learn more about finding strength through weakness, visit http://sonrisechurchandministries.sermon.net/main/main/20679990 to listen to a great teaching by John Aldridge, Senior Pastor of Son Rise Church and Ministries.