Ruth 1:20-22 (Amplified Bible)
And she said to them, Call me not Naomi [pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty, has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me? If you have never read this story, here we have a woman whose life was drastically changed. First, she and her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons left Bethlehem because of a severe famine. Looking for a better life, they journeyed to Moab. While in Moab, Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, dies, and ten years later, her two sons die, leaving her to care for her two daughters-in-law. Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, but upon returning she has no husband or sons, instead, a bitter heart.
I can’t recall how many times I have read this passage of scripture and each time God would speak to my heart. I believe all the scriptures are written to teach us valuable lessons that will be taught through life’s experiences. I had no idea the one day I had to practice applying this principle to my life.
Just as Naomi did not understand why God had chosen to take her through one of the most challenging experiences in life, I pondered as well. Just like a child growing up in life you have expectations and plans that usually don’t include bruises and bumps in the road. But I found that even when the unexpected things in life do occur, God has a plan and purpose to make something good out of the worse situations.
While going through the hardest times in life, I found hope, encouragement and a renewed spirit while going through a divorce. Although my plight was not one in which I welcomed or embraced, I had to accept that God had already known about this part of my life before the foundation of the world.
He was taking me through one of the most unpleasant times in my life, but I had to trust that the one in which I had given my life to, knew exactly what was best for me. There was something about my life that He was going to reveal and what I had faced and conquered was really going to alter my life forever.
I had one choice to make either I was going to allow myself to be bitter with what He had allowed to happen, or I was going to let the situation develop and make me into a better person. I decided to use the situation to make me better.
God was using my circumstances to bring me to a place of maturity, confidence and total dependency on Him. I learned not to look at my current condition, although quite hard at times, but I had to realize that someday God would show me why He had chosen me to carry this particular cross.
So many times I wanted to give up, throw in the towel and quit but something inside me would not let me. Gods’ spirit was constantly bringing comfort to me, guiding me and assuring me that everything was going to work out for my good. God had a wonderful plan and purpose for my life even when I couldn’t see how things were going to turn out.
I encourage you, even if things don’t go according to your plans, that God has a plan that is so much bigger and better for you. Trust Him you will not be disappointed.
Paulette Harper, an award winning author, bestselling author, writing coach, and speaker. Paulette seeks to inspire women from all walks of life. She is a, mother, grandmother, Bible teacher, and owner of Write Now Literary Book Tours. She has been mentoring and teaching women for years though seminars, workshops and conferences. Website: www.pauletteharper.com
This article content is provided free of charge by the author. You are welcome to place this article on your site or in your publication as long as 1) it’s used in its entirety, 2) the full bio is also used, and 3) you previously request permission through Paulette Harper Johnson@email@example.com
What is true freedom? That is a loaded question. I have been in church for many years. I received Christ in my late twenties. However, what I didn't completing understand was true freedom in Christ.
In scripture, freedom means to exempt, to liberate, to deliver, to set at liberty: from the dominion of sin.
Lets break down liberty: Liberty means freedom from external or foreign rule, freedom from control, freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint.
This definition caused me to think. I don't know about anyone else, but I was once bound by sin, abuse, rejection, low self-esteem, and other things. When I received Christ and began to walk in relationship with Him, I experienced liberty through His power and deliverance. I just didn't know it at the time. I still allowed the opinions of people to try to take me back to that dark place in my life.
After looking closely at the above definitions, I then read the above scripture in several different versions, but the Amplified stood out to me. In the context of the scripture, Jesus was speaking to Jews. He was trying to explain to them that if they received Him, abide in Him and His word then they would be free. However, they like many of us, reminded Jesus (as if He didn't already know) that they were descendants of Abraham and they had never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, "You will be made free," they continued.
You see, before we can be made free, we have to first recognize that we are bound. We can't be free and bound and the same time. They couldn't see nor understand the truth due to their self-righteousness. They had kept the law and offered sacrifices, so they believed that they were good.
Jesus interrupted and said, "Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever."
Wait? What? (I pictured them saying this)
Jesus was speaking of spiritual things. I believe that he was trying to get them to see that all of what they had learned and sacrificed were but a shadow of His coming to truly set them free. They couldn't see that because they were focused on the flesh, but Jesus was referring to a spiritual matter.
I believe that he was showing them that they were no better than any other human being. We are all on a level playing field. We are all sinners, and we remain in sin because we have no power to deliver ourselves, no animal sacrifice could solve a spiritual matter, only Christ.
So I ask the question again are you truly free. Have you received Christ and are walking in relationship with Him, trusting in God's word and not man's philosophy or opinions. Remember, Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free," - John 8:31-32 NKJV.
Here is another scripture:
"For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.” II Corinthians 10:18 NKJV
True freedom has nothing to do with fleshly or earthly things, but everything to do with the spirit and soul of man. We can't be free in the natural unless we are made free in the spirit first. We can't be bound and free at the same time. Christ is that freedom! His power sets us free from foreign rule (sin, evil). His power frees us from the control and captivity of satan, sin, and even people. Finally, we are no longer restrained, our spiritual eyes are opened, but free to worship our creator and walk out His purpose for our lives.
Allow the Son to make you free and if He makes you free, you shall be free indeed!
Scripture Focus: Gen. 1:1
- In the beginning God
(elohiym, ruler) created the heavens and the earth.John 1:1-2
- In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God
. He was in the beginning with God
- By the word
of the Lord the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.Who is Jesus Christ?
Many individuals today ask this question. There are many religions in our world. There are also many skeptics and even those who don't believe in God at all. I have often thought of it this way, "If God exist and He does, then there must only be One truth and not many." God is not a religion. Religion is manmade. God is truth. God speaks to us; He reveals Himself to us. He doesn't keep us in the dark pertaining Himself. God's Word records His truth.
The first scriptures listed above begin by affirming that Christ is the WORD
(logos, something said, the Divine expression as uttered by the living voice). He has always existed from the beginning with God
(theos, Supreme Divinity) and He is God
. The same (The WORD) was in the beginning with (beside, unto, next to, toward) God.
In John 14:6, Jesus made the following statement: "I am the way
, the truth
, and the life
. No man cometh unto the Father but by me. This is a direct correlation with John 1:1. I believe that Jesus is affirming who He is so that there is no confusion.
The scriptures about Christ don't use the article (a). The scriptures use (the). Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, and the Word
. The article "the" leaves no room for questioning.
For example, if I asked my son to bring me the book off of the computer desk, then there would be something specific about that book. There would be nothing else to search for. The instructions to my son would have been clear enough to know that there was only one particular book that I expected him to bring. The words of John 14:6 and all the other scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The article "the" was used for a reason. God wanted us to understand that there is only One way, only One creator, Only one truth. Think about it: If there is truth, then how can there be many truths? How do we know the difference between a lie and the truth? Where do morals come from? Can morals come from many different sources or one?
Life is found is Jesus Christ. He is God! God and Christ are One!
The purpose of these scriptures is for us to know that there is a God, He was not created as others. He is not just one of many. He is Christ our Lord and He wants us (His creation) to know Him and to develop a relationship with Him.
Hope-in-ChristCopyright © 2016 by Denise Walker/Hope-in-Christ Ministries, Inc.
Bible Verses from New American Standard Version were found on Bible Gateway.
“Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” John 9:39 NLT
This scripture relates to one of the miracles that Jesus performed. The man that He is speaking to was blind from birth. Then he had an encounter with Jesus. He was able to see and knew that there was something different about the man who had performed this great miracle.
Jesus then explained to him that he had received physical sight, but He also was the one that could heal spiritual blindness.
My husband wears glasses and can't see very well without them. A few years ago, he was leaving for work. He was still a little sleepy, and he got into his car and prepared to leave. He then came back into the house and said, "I was wondering why everything looked so blurry when I got in the car. I realized that I had left my glasses." He and I laughed about this for a few minutes. He then grabbed his glasses and left.
Like the man in scripture, this relates to physical sight. However, in the same way that things looked blurry to my husband, spiritual blindness can cause us not to see clearly. In the scripture referenced above, Jesus is saying that He came to give sight to the spiritually blind.
Spiritual blindness may cause us to believe that we are not sinners. It may cause us to believe that there are many ways to get to God. It may even make us believe that God doesn't exist. Whatever the situation, Jesus is the only one that can cure us.
He came to set us free. All we have to do is surrender and allow Him to do the work. When He opens our spiritual eyes, we can see and understand the things of the spirit. We can understand and experience our creator. He is spirit. Jesus is the only way and the only truth! Allow Him to open your spiritual eyes so that you can see and experience His beauty, His peace, and His holiness!!
I Peter 5:7 (NIV) - " Cast all of your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
Stress is a very common thing in today's society. We have children, careers, bills, and other challenges. It is very easy to begin to stress about what we have to endure from day to day. This can affect our physical and spiritual health. It can cause many different health problems, health care expenses, and a shorter life span. Spiritually it can keep us from seeking God because we are trying to fix our own problems, but we don't have the power. Our strength comes from above!
God's word gives us many strategies for dealing with stress. One of the most important is in the scripture noted above. We must cast our cares upon the Lord. There is no other way to overcome the cares of this world. A relationship with the Lord must be developed and we must surrender our hearts. We can't make it without Him! I hear people say that they are in control of their own lives. The truth of the matter is they are not. Either we give the enemy or God control. Our spirit man is dead outside of the living LORD.
God never called us to fix it. He knew that we wouldn't have the strength. We learn this through reading the Bible and prayer. As we surrender and develop a relationship with Christ, we go from death to life. We begin to walk in the power of His might. Then we can talk to Him about anything and He will always be there. His power and unfailing love will comfort and equip us all the days of our lives. Christ is the only one that can set us free! Bondage, fear, and anxiety cannot triumph over the power of Jesus.
Rest in Him!
2 Cor. 12:9
- And He said, “My grace
(unearned, unmerited favor, a favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men, The application of Christ's righteousness to the sinner, pardon) is sufficient
(enough) for you, for My strength
(power, ability) is made perfect
(made complete, accomplished, finished) in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities (feebleness of mind or body, disease, sickness, weakness), that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Have you ever prayed for God to remove sickness from your life? Ever wondered about your past? abuse? Mistreatment? Rejection?
In 2 Corinthians Apostle Paul describes a struggle that he continued to pray for God to remove but it remained with him. He goes on to explain how God helped him to understand that His grace was enough for Him. When he was weak, then he could depend and rely on God's power to see him through.
Like Apostle Paul, most of my life I have experienced many struggles, disappointments, and pain. I was told that the enemy has tried to attack my life from the time I was 3 days old.
At 3 days old, I was rushed into emergency surgery on my stomach. I couldn't keep anything down. I was told that I almost died.
As I got older, I experienced so many other attacks on my life!
Then one day I was introduced to the “Alpha and Omega” the “King of Kings” and Lord of Lords.“
I was downtrodden, depressed, and disappointed and He changed my life!
He drew me by His great power!
After that great encounter, I still experienced struggles but I was now walking with the one who could fix it all. He could mend my brokenness. He could make it all work together for good. He could make it all make sense and He did! Some of it was Him working in me. Some of it was indeed spiritual attacks.
The Lord rewarded me with His grace and He has continued to walk with me, to hold me in is arms, and break the chains of bondage.
Just recently I wondered if I was still walking with Him. I felt so far away. I was even in church and feeling so disconnected and alone.
He begin to draw me near and call me deeper. Deeper into prayer, deeper into His Word. A deeper walk.
He called me to start Hope-in-Christ Ministries. He encouraged me through every blog post, through every book we read in the book club, and every time I would go out to mentor the youth.
As soon as I was moving forward and He was opening so many doors, I was told that I had to have surgery. I had already experienced adult onset of asthma, diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, and now a surgery that was directly related to that major surgery when I was 3 days old.
I was struggling with fear and questions of why, but He was showing me that His grace was enough for me. He was showing me that all I need is found in Him. He was showing me that before I could minister hope to others I had to know and understand that hope for myself.
And so by His grace, I have! I drew closer. I begin to cry out and He is healing, delivering, and transforming my life day by day. Even after more than 12 years of walking with Him, He is still growing, shaping, and molding me into His image.
I now feel like I'm living a newness of life in Him.
The ministry that He has given is growing and He is showing me who He has designed me to be.
Much was birthed out of my pain!
What is He showing you through your struggles? Know that His plan for your life is very good and He will be with you through it all!
Enjoy this worship song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN2Y99GBYDE
Copyright © 2016 by Denise Walker/Hope-in-Christ Ministries, Inc.
Bible Verses from New King James Version were found on Bible Gateway.
About two weeks ago, the Holy Spirit led me to begin to study the book of Hebrews. While studying, I have been amazed by the great detail of the speaker in trying to get the audience (the converted Jewish believers) to understand that they didn't have to do what they used to do. They didn't have to walk in the old covenant. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for their sins once and for all.
As I continue to deeply study this great book of the Bible, I have asked God many questions. If Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, then why are people not walking in true freedom in Him? Why are people still bound by sin? Why is the enemy deceiving so many individuals?
God then took me to a few more scriptures to help me better understand. I begin to analyze the word "redemption." Redemption means to rescue, recovery, rebirth, or deliverance from bondage. I then begin to asked even more questions. In order to be redeemed, don't we have to first acknowledge that we need redemption from something? Don't we have to acknowledge that what You recognize as sin is sin to us as well? How can I remain bound if I say that I have Christ and shed His blood to set me free?
There is a disconnect here!
I came to a better understanding that we can be our own hindrance. We can be so comfortable in sin, bound by sin, bound by our past hurts and struggles or simply walking in fear that we don't allow Christ to do the work in us, to make us whole. You see in the book of John, chapter 5, Jesus asked a man a very thought provoking question. Jesus was coming from a Jewish feast and went up to Jerusalem to a place called Bethesda. This place had 5 porches and a pool. He found many sick people there waiting for an angel of God to come down and stir the water in order to be healed of all their many diseases.
There was a certain man there that had been sick for over 38 years. On this day Jesus asked him a simply, "Do you want to be made whole? (John 5:6-11).
The man began to give Jesus excuses and blame others, but Jesus was trying to get him to take a look at himself, and understand that he had to have the will and the desire to truly be made well. This was not temporary what Jesus wanted to do in his life. It was permanent. He had to participate. He couldn't wait for anyone else to do it for him. Did he trust God or not? Did he really want complete wholeness?
Jesus then said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." The scriptures go on to tell us that the man was made whole immediately and he didn't step one foot in the pool. He had faith in the only one that could truly heal him. Christ did it, because he believed and wanted a changed life.
Jesus saw him again and gave him a final instruction, Go and sin no more, or a worse thing will come upon you (John 5:14).
So today, just like the main at Bethesda, Jesus is asking us, "Do you want to be made whole?" I believe that God has asked me that same question more than once in my life.
God is not powerless! He has all power, but do we believe Him? Do we believe that He loves us and desires to bring us out of darkness? Do we believe that His plans for us are good or are we going to keep trying to figure it out on our own? Do truly understand what it means to be made in His image and likeness? Are we walking in fear or condemnation? What is it?
What ever it is surrender it ALL to Him! Be made whole in Him today! Only He can truly set us free. I am a living witness of it!! Trust Him! Allow Him to make you complete in Him!!
Copyright © 2016 by Denise Walker/Project H.O.P.E. Ministries, Inc.
Bible Verses from New King James Version were found on Bible Gateway.
Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - KJV
Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. AMP
Hebrews 11:1 - The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. - MSG
What does the Bible mean by faith? Why is it so important?
According to the Strong's Bible Dictionary, faith is the acceptance, belief, confidence, and certainty of God's truth as revealed in scripture, The Holy Bible. Faith is essential to our walk with God. It is the essence of discovering who we are in Him. The writer of Hebrews 11:1 focused on faith's importance as he/she spoke to the Jewish converts of that time, reminding them of the dangers of turning away from true faith, faith in Jesus Christ.
As I was reading this particular scripture on faith, I found it very helpful to break it down into parts in order to get the big picture. Here is a closer look:
Who should have faith?
Believers; All of humanity
What is faith?
True faith is having confidence and belief in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob and His plan for redemption of mankind through the blood of Jesus Christ.
When should one have faith?
One should have faith continually without wavering.
Where does faith abide?
Faith abides in the heart.
Why should one have faith?
Hebrews 11:6 specifically states, "But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him. - AMP
Without it, we can't draw nearer to God and be made whole through Christ blood.
How is faith obtained?
Faith is obtained by hearing the Word of God (the message of Christ), according to Romans 10:17.
So as you can see from the analysis, we cannot live a truly productive and redeemed life without faith. Our faith can't be placed in those things that profit nothing, but must be rooted and grounded in Christ alone. Let us keep our hand in His and allow Him to lead the way to eternal peace!
Truth, what does that actually mean? To begin, the Webster's Dictionary
defines truth in the following ways: the body of real things, events, and facts: a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality, dependability, reliability.
Strong's Bible Dictionary simply defines truth as: in reality, in fact, certainly, verity or true.
With that being said, truth is a very important subject today. We must know and understand truth or we will believe the lies of the enemy. The Bible uses truth many times to describe God and Christ deity. The Bible also uses the word truth to explain how we as believers should worship and live our lives. Here are a few of those verses that use the same Greek definition for truth:
- God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
- For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18)
- Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 1:25)
- Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
- that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess. 2:12)
When I look at the above scriptures, I have to point out the fact that truth is never compared to anything else. It is to be understood beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is only ONE TRUTH! The article "the" distinguishes that fact.
Why then is there Deception:
If God is Truth, the only Truth, and nothing but the Truth, then why do people believe a lie? The Bible answers this question. Scripture helps us understand that the root of deception is Satan. It states that Satan is the Father of lies (John 8:44).
If God is truth, the Creator of truth, then truth has to have an opposite. Therefore, truth can't come from all the many different sources of which the world declares are truth. Truth must start and end with GOD! Everything else is deception!
If we walk with Christ, then we have to believe that He is who He says He is. We have to believe that the Word, the Bible is ALL truth. If there is any skepticism, then the enemy can cause us to walk in the spirit of deception.
I believe that deception comes when we begin to believe the lies of mankind rather than what God's Word states is Truth. If there is a God (and there is), then there can only be ONE. If God is who He says He is (And HE is), then TRUTH comes from Him and Him alone.
The enemy, Satan, comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants us to believe that Sin is not the way God defined it. He wants us to believe that there are many ways to get to God. He wants us to believe that Hell does not exist, but Christ said these words, "
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it
more abundantly." (John 10:10). The life that Christ is referencing is not just the here and now but eternity.
So today, begin to pray and ask God to deliver you from the deception of man and turn to Christ, the Word of God and walk in HIS TRUTH because only HIS truth can make you free! And whom the Son sets free is truly free, indeed (John 8:36).
Truth, ONE Truth=God's Truth!
Today's world is full of many religious beliefs, but let us never cease to forget that there has always been ONLY ONE WAY!! Jesus Christ!! As an English, Language Arts teacher, I pay close attention to words when I am reading the Bible. When I read John 14:6, I focused on the fact that the article "the" is being used by Jesus himself. This is a Definite Article. Webster's dictionary defines definite in the following way: having distinct or certain limits: free of all ambiguity, uncertainty, or obscurity: unquestionable, decided.
This definition paints a powerful picture because it leaves NO ROOM for inquiry! Jesus uses strong connotative language here so that we might get the visual of who He is in our minds. He states without a doubt, "I am the way, the truth, and the life! Jesus uses "the" 3 times for emphasis.
Now read the scripture again by focusing on the definition that is included above. Isn't that powerful? God had a plan from the beginning to redeem us to Himself and He gave us free will to come to Him for ourselves. Now that is true love!!! This scripture is only a reminder of what we already know in our hearts! Jesus Christ is not just a man in the Bible and our history books. He is Lord and He is God!! He couldn't redeem us otherwise!!
So as our world around us continues to walk in deception and uncertainties. We as believers in Jesus Christ can stand firm on "the" Truth because there is only One. There is no other God!! Jesus (the Word) became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). He gave us access to the Father!! He and the Father are ONE (John 10:30)!!
Call upon Him and He will answer. Seek Him and you shall find Him as you search for Him with all of your heart (Jer. 29:13).
Copyright © 2016 by Denise Walker/Project H.O.P.E. Ministries, Inc.
Bible Verses from New King James Version were found on Bible Gateway.