Monday, November 23, 2009

Chapter Ten

We are on the last chapter of the Saveone Bible Study which is chapter 10 and we pray that healing was found for all through God's loving touch and mercy. His mercy is what it's all about. We can read over and over again in the Old Testament all about God's mercy for His people. And through His mercy for us He sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for our sin once and for all. God's mercy is never ending. It even extends to our conscious. Hear this from Hebrews 10:19-23: "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscious and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."
Pretty mind blowing. Not only does He wipe away our sins, we are to be cleansed of our guilty conscious. I don't know about you, but abortion isn't the only horrible sin I committed. We (you and I) release these sins. As believers we know Christ did not die unnecessarily. We embrace the sacrifice He made for us and recognize we are new creations ready to live a life for Him free of our past. Lets do it.
In this chapter we spoke about Esther and her courage. We recognized that God was the source of her courage. All of us with God are capable of courageous acts and in the future someone may be blessed with our story of healing from abortion. If the situation is appropriate such as the right person, place and time and feeling a nudge from God you may want to share how God healed your heart.
Please be prepared if satan attacks. Read your Bible daily. Remember to memorize a favorite scripture, meditate on it, visualize it and repeat it. This whole process will bring you peace and bring you closer to God.
Continue worshipping the Lord each Sunday, continue bible studies on God's Word and if at all possible join a Community Group of fellow christians. They are like family and can be a source of great support when needed.
I pray with all my heart that all women who suffer from the pain of past abortion find healing and recognize how clean and pure she is before the Lord. How loved she is. How worthful and redeemable she is. Jesus Christ died for all of us to be blemish free when we stand before Him on judgement day. All of us who believe and love Him. That would be us.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Chapter Nine

What a tough chapter this was. But God has been with us so far and there's no doubt He was with you through this one. Through prayer and through God's divine power you were able to discern things about your child, even the sex of your child. I hope and pray as you worked this chapter you remembered Deuteronomy 31:8, "The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." God will never quit you, abandon you, leave you behind or cease from you. God loves you too much. He loves our babies too and has taken excellent care of them. They are experiencing utter joy in heaven.
I have a scripture that has brought me comfort and I'll try my best to explain it as I see it. It is 2 Corinthians 1:5, "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." How long did we carry the burdens of shame and guilt? A year. Perhaps years. Either way that's a long time to suffer. Why did we feel that way? We knew it grieved God. We sinned. Jesus bore our sins. He suffered too. He experienced shame and guilt, humiliation. Do you see the connection? We suffered as He did. Now it's time to discard those emotions and move on. Through Christ death on the cross our comfort comes. Now that we fully internalize the depth of His forgiveness we can experience His comfort to overflowing. Allow it to overflow! He doesn't want His suffering, death and resurrection to be wasted another minute. Embrace the comfort He offers. Not only will we experience the comfort He offers if we embrace it we will love Him more deeply.
Having an opportunity to name my babies and provide characteristics was painful yet bittersweet. Being able to memorialize them gave them a place in my home and my heart. Because, as Sheila Harper said, our children were pure, blameless and spotless before the Lord they wait eagerly for our arrival. They have been blissfully rejoicing the presence of the Lord in heaven. And one spectacular day we will get to meet them.
What to work on this week is to banish any residual negative emotions you may have. Call on the skills you have learned. Focus on the heavenly realm your child is in and how one day you'll be sharing it with him or her. Praise God for the mighty work He has done in your life so far and for the love He has for you. Read your Bible, meditate on scripture and fill your mind with God.
Scripture to meditate on is 2 Timothy 4:18, "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen." Also, Revelation 21:6-7: "He said to me, 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son."

Chapter Eight

Now that you've worked on and are in the process of forgiving yourself you need to change or replace those old negative, harmful, useless and not of God feelings and renew your mind. Keep in the back of your mind always Phillipians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Despite our circumstances we can think of praiseworthy things everyday. The light turning green when we need it to, the color of the leaves, a stranger smiling at us. All of these are praiseworthy. It's in how we look at events in our lives. It's how we renew our minds.

How else can we renew our minds? When bad thoughts come, take them captive, throw them away. Say aloud, as I do, "Begone Satan". Tell him to go away out loud. There's no more room in your life for him. Satan cannot hear or read our thoughts, but he can certainly hear our voice. Make it clear to him each and every time. Then say a memory verse or as I sometimes do, the Our Father.

One of the exercises in the chapter called for writing out a familiar shame statement then writing a positive confession so that when we thought those old familiar statements of shame we would then automatically think of our positive statement. One of my statements was so deeply ingrained in me I thought I'd never rise above it and it was that I was just not redeemable. I found Paul's words in Romans 7:24-25 so appropriate to me, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death"? And then Paul said, "Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord." Paul saw how wretched he was. How without Christ he was a slave to sin. With Christ we have redemption and forgiveness and His perfect love. He knows we are human and that we will sin and fall short, but we must always lay our shortcomings at His feet. If we know we have areas of weaknesses we should ask for help and guidance from our Holy Spirit. And pray to do God's will each day. Renew your mind.

Scripture that may be helpful to meditate on are: 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come." I know you've been in Christ, but you've carried this baggage around for so long. Imagine yourself new in Christ, but this time the baggage is gone. It's a new relationship with Christ without all the negative emotions, the past is gone. Your filled with excellent and praiseworthy things, the new has come. The enemy may try to trip you up, but you know what to do. You have a new relationship with Christ and no one, absolutely no one can destroy it. How freeing is that? Pretty darn free!

Psalm 51:10: "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
Dear Father God,

I pray, Father, that you help me rid myself of all negative emotions.

More than anything I want to be closer to You. Please create

in me a pure heart. Point out those areas that I need to cleanse

for You. I don't want anything to come between us, Father. And

renew in me that steadfast spirit of faith. Help me to see so

clearly that without You in my life I am lost. You are my hope

and I love You. In your Son's precious name I pray. Amen

Isaiah 40:31: "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Chapter Seven

This is an important chapter in that it addresses the issue of forgiving yourself which is important in your relationship with God in that in can cause an obstacle in it. A few years ago I approached my community group leader and told him I a committed a sin that I though was unforgivable. He led me to 1 John 1:8-10, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." This was the first verse to lead me to healing. To not accept God's forgiveness and to begin forgiving myself would be like calling our Lord a liar. We know our Lord is not a liar. I just couldn't do that. I meditated on these verses alot which began a healing process for me.
Another verse to meditate on is Romans 8:1: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ," The minute we believed in Christ, that He died and rose for our sins we were in Jesus Christ. We became one of "those who are in Jesus Christ". There is no condemnation for us. Isn't it time we stopped condemning ourselves and listened to the healing Word of our Lord?
Check this verse out, Judges 10:16, "Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord. And he could bear Israel's misery no longer". This is a perfect example of God's mercy. When the Israelites confessed, relied on God's mercy and became obedient by getting rid of foreign gods and serving the Lord, God "could bear" their misery no longer. If we have confessed with our mouth and heart and choose to serve the one and only Lord we are forgiven. God loves us as he did the Israelites and can't bear that we are miserable in our guilt and unforgiveness. It grieves Him. Accept His forgiveness and accept forgiveness for yourself. The enemy is happy when we hang on to all those burdens because it affects our relationship with God. Get rid of them. Whenever those old feelings of guilt and unforgiveness surface take them captive, throw them away or lay them at Jesus feet and remember your memory verse, "For you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. For if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed". Remember there is no condemnation because you are in Jesus Christ.

Chapter Six

Imagine the gifts you received in the past...a pretty package with bows, but rather than open it you decided to give it back. Unimaginable, right? But that's exactly what we do if we don't accept God's grace. He offers us this wonderful gift of undeserved love and favor that is limitless. We read about Saul (Paul) who hated and persecuted christians and how God's grace even extended to him. God's grace extends to us as well. We may know this in our heads now, but we must learn to feel this in our hearts too. We must learn to see with our hearts God's abiding love he has for us. To do otherwise is a playground for the enemy.

We talked about asking for forgiveness for our abortion and read scripture Isaiah 38:17 and Psalm 103:12 supporting that God puts our sins behind your back and puts our sins as far as east to west, which can never meet. Why does God so eagerly forget our sins? Not for our own sake, he loves to hear our praise and glory. We talked about not only our sins of abortion, but other sins in our lives and I can speak for myself when I say God knows my human heart and my propensity for sin, particularly from when I was younger. He knows how desperately sorry I have grieved Him. He is a loving God who wants to forgive a repentant heart and remember the sins no more. Through His Son's all encompassing sacrifice I can approach God on judgment day with a clean slate and a receiving heart. And as the book says you may not feel instantly forgiven, but over time you will. Know in your heart you are forgiven.

Please take some time to actually meditate on God's gift of grace and take more time to praise him for it each day.

Some additional scriptures to read are: Hebrews 8:8-13: God saw where Israel could not obey the old covenant so he sent his son to die as the perfect sacrifice for sins once and for all calling this the new covenant. How wonderful God's grace is that he saw how weak and sinful we were and are, yet planned a new covenant to give us every opportunity to revel in His awesome grace.

Jeremiah 29:4-14: Despite year after year of being warned by God through the different prophets Israel continued to sin by the making and worshipping of false idols. God disciplined (because they were still in their sin) the people of Jerusalem by leading them into captivity to Babylon. The people of Jerusalem were exiled for 70 years and during that time God encouraged them and did not forget them. The Lord told them that when the 70 years were up " ' I will come for you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " God granted grace and forgiveness again and again in the Old Testament and He grants it to us again and again. He loves us.
Isaiah 44:22: "I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you." God not only forgives our sins, He wants us, in facts, commands we return to Him.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chapter Five

In our meeting we discussed Chapter 5 and Forgiving Others. We found that each of us were at different stages of forgiving someone who played a role in our abortion experience. We agreed that it is imperative to relinquish that person who hurt you to God and to pray. To hold onto these feelings of anger, betrayal and bitterness is corrosive. It affects your relationship with God and Satan is loving it. Romans 12:19 says "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay', says the Lord." Pray, pray and pray some more for God to soften your heart toward this individual, to give you a heart of forgiveness, for understanding to the meaning of forgiveness and to be obedient. Prayer is vital. I had to do this in order to forgive my father and even though initially I did not want to forgive him, I prayed anyway. With God I was able to forgive my father and truly realized it when I felt a sense of sympathy for him because he would have to undergo the wrath of God.
I have a therapist, friend and truly gifted woman who wrote an article on Forgiveness and I have condensed the article to include in this email. The entire article can be seen on Sue McHenry's website, click on Biblical Therapy on the right, go to the Table of Contents on the left and click on Index to Posts and you will find the whole article titled Forgivness.

Sue writes:
"Let me define forgiveness first. Forgiveness is canceling the debt and promising not to dwell on it in our mind when it comes to mind. When God forgives us our sins, He canceling the debt we owe Him.
What it is not: Forgiving is NOT forgetting, reconciliation, or condoning. They are all different and separate things. Forgetting is not possible, and reconciliation may or may not result from forgiveness depending on whether or not the offender is safe and willing.
God knows us. He knows that as long as we harbor the anger and the pain and the hatred and the sickness, our fellowship with Him suffers. He wants absolute, utter, boundless, inexpressible joy in our lives, and He knows that as long as we harbor the pain of the past, we rob ourselves of that joy.
Jesus knew that, too. Why did He ask the Father to forgive them? Were they going to be forgiven by the Father just because Jesus asked? Of course not.
It was about Jesus not allowing them to rob Him of His joy and His fellowship with the Father. It was about not allowing His natural hatred of them (He was fully human, remember, as well as being fully God) to distract Him from loving and serving God in His final moments of His earthly life. It was so He could be an example to us as to how we can do it, too.
It was NEVER about them. It was ALWAYS about Him and His relationship with His Father.
And He wants that for you. Your forgiveness isn't about them. It doesn't change a thing for them when they face God. God says "leave room for My wrath." (Romans 12:19 He'll deal with them, and when He does, it will far surpass anything you've ever done to them, or could.
Your forgiveness of them is about you, and about your joy and your relationship to God.
If you haven't fogiven them and moved beyond it, then they still own you. They're still tormenting and torturing you. And the enemy loves it. Your anger and hatred and lack of forgiveness is your right. They enemy is making sure you don't forget that. And he's robbing you of your joy and your fellowship with the One that will condemn him to eternal fire, as well. Remember that he wants you, and as long as he can keep you anger-filled and distant from the Father, he has you.
Want the joy that God has in store for you. Want it so badly that you're willing to do anything to get it. Crave it, hunger and thirst for it. Don't give up. Claim victory over your past. It can't own you unless your a willing participant. Defeat it. Begin today to reclaim the joy."

Please read the article in it's entirety. Below is a prayer I prayed to forgive others who have harmed me in the past. With prayer I was successful and I have to tell you that it is freeing to be rid of all of the anger, hurt and bitterness.
Dear Father God,
Please give me a heart of forgiveness. Give me the heart to say this prayer forgiving __________ with meaning and sincerity. Lord, I don't want to disobey you. Help me understand what it means to forgive ___________. Help me to just hand this to You. In Jesus name I pray. Amen
1. Father, I have been hurt. Please heal my wounded heart. Heal me of these feelings of rejection, alienation, sorrow and loss.
2. I confess that I want to retaliate against this person. I am angry, frustrated and in pain. I know these are not emotions that are going to be helpful to me or that will resolve my situation. I ask You to forgive me of these negative feelings. I desire to forgive this person, Lord. Help me to forgive.
3. I free this person right now from the wrong he has done against me. You deal with him, Lord. I turn over all responsibility for him to You. Free me from any memories that might try to haunt me or discourage me in the wake of this hurtful experience. Help me to walk in freedom and strength in relationship to this person and to all others who know of this incident. I trust You to do this, Holy Spirit. And I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Chapter Four

Chapter Four dealt with the emotions of shame and depression and the life changing necessity of renewing our minds. As Sheila Harper points out on page 54 it is imperative that in order to renew our minds we must consistently study and meditate on God's Word. By internalizing and believing in our hearts the truths in God's Word we can rid ourselves of the shame statements of "I'm worthless", "I don't deserve to be forgiven", "There's no hope for me" and "I've made too many mistakes". One of my own shame statements were "I'm more sinful than David or Paul". All these statements are lies of Satan's and pull us away from the one who loves us most and who sacrificed the most for us. We dishonor Him by persisting in these negative beliefs that weigh us down. As Sheila Harper says on page 55, close the door on Satan, take these negative thoughts captive, throw them away.
We also discussed depression and the importance of remembering God when we are downcast. He is there to comfort us. Remember, "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit". Psalm 34:18. Our group discussed strategies to counteract episodes of depression with getting into God's Word being primary, involving yourself in a community group or bible study, a benevolence activity, exercise, activity with a close friend, phone call to a special friend or relative. What I found particularly helpful for myself was I made a list of the people in my life who needed prayer. It had about 15 to 20 names. Throughout the day or in one sitting I would take my list and pray either in detail or not, for each individual on the list. In doing so, I was taking the focus off of myself and blessing someone else. I think God saw favor in this and helped lift those time of feeling down for me. Sometimes we focus so inward we miss those around us and God's special messages for us.
The third emotion we were to choose ourselves. The others in the group couldn't think of an emotion, but fear was an emotion we all agreed was one in which we had experienced. Personally, I had a fear of God's punishment, fear he would take my daughter away because of the sin of abortion. The verses that come to mind that a contradict this fear are this, "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1John 4:16b-18. Verse 16b says God is love. God loves us. God disciplines. We know we sinned and have asked for forgiveness. By God's grace and mercy our sins have been washed clean through the blood of Christ's sacrifice. Our sin of abortion has been forgiven. Those who are disciplined by God are those that don't see their abortion as sin in their life. The fact that we recognized and confess our sin no longer has need for discipline. God is a good Father who loves us.
The steps we can take to get these emotions under control are read God's Word, meditate, visualize, repeat God's Word; take captive negative thoughts and close the door on Satan and pray.
The first scripture we reviewed was Titus 3:3-7 to give us a perspective of what our thoughts can be focused on rather than those negative thoughts. After we capture those negative thoughts and discard them, think of this, "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." No, we don't deserve it, but because of the love of our God and the blood of Jesus we are given mercy and washed clean. Because we accept and love our Lord the Holy Spirit lives in us and we can ignite this Holy Spirit through prayer, listening when He convicts us, and following when He prompts us. Our rewards are growing closer to the Holy Spirit, increasing discernment of God's Word and awesome views of eternal life. Imagine your favorite day, walking along the surf, a view of the Grand Canyon, or perhaps a walk in the woods with wild life. You feel physically 100%, no sadness, no tears, no shame, no guilt, happy beyond words. Now imagine Jesus Christ walking right beside you and call this place Heaven. This is just my small view of eternal life. I'm sure there are no words in the english language to adequately describe it. Maybe you can make up your own view of paradise with our Lord and meditate on that whenever you throw away the negative.
The second scripture we reviewed was 2 Chronicles 33:1-20, please read. Manasseh was King of Judah and reigned for 55 years. He committed many sins against the Lord. He built altars and asherah poles to the Baals and worshipped them, he bowed down and worshipped the starry hosts, he built altars in the temple of the Lord, he took carved images he made and placed them in God's temple AND he sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. He also led the people of Judah to sin. The Lord spoke to Manasseh, but he ignored him so the Lord sent the Assyrians and captured him. In verse 12 Manasseh "sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself" and in verse 13 "the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea". Manasseh was probably one of the most sinful kings to ever lead Judah. He put a carved image in God's temple! But God was merciful, in spite of Manaseh's numerous sins, and heard his prayer. God hears our prayers too and is moved by our pleas, just as He was for Manasseh's. You are forgiven! You need to reach that realization and embrace the compassion God has for you. Internalize the love and forgiveness God has for you and you'll feel empowered as Manasseh did to turn Judah around. You'll feel empowered, loved and free at last from the bondage of guilt, shame and fear that Satan holds you in. All you have to do is accept the essence of God, His love.
Other scriptures to read are: Isaiah 61:7, Isaiah 54:4, Psalm 25:20, Romans 7.