Lesson Five: A Time to Heal

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~ Hope for the Wounded ~

God longs to bring healing and restoration in every area of our lives.  We can entrust ourselves to God as our Healer. – Margaret Feinberg

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After a couple of months away from this study I am now revisiting this lesson and looking at it with fresh eyes.  I know, now more than ever, that I must protect my emotional health and guard my heart.  Wounds on the inside – emotional wounds – the unseen ones – are often the hardest to overcome and heal.  So, so true.

I’ve been through several of the scenarios listed as examples in this lesson.  I’ve had to make tough choices that left me feeling like part of me died.  People have said and done things that cut me to the core.  I’ve experienced loss and pain that left me torn apart.  Life has thrown painful punches.

And so have people.

People I trusted.

I honestly would rather have a stranger punch me in the face than have someone I care about betray or abandon me.  I would definitely heal more quickly from than than emotional wounds.  I am deeply loyal and committed to those I love and care about, and when I am wronged by them it feels like part of me dies.  I have come to realize over the last 8 weeks that I feel that way because I have never learned how to set healthy boundaries in my relationships.  I take on too much responsibility for the choices and actions of others.

For the past two months I have participated in a weekly group studying Boundariesa book that has been hugely eye-opening and that I highly recommend.  This class and study has ushered in a while new level of healing for me.

Jesus healed not only people’s physical bodies, He brought healing to their hearts and minds.  That’s important to remember because God doesn’t limit healing to our physical bodies, but He also wants to heal our hearts and emotions. – Margaret Feinberg

Psalm 147:3 says:

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He is Jehovah Rapha – “YAHWEH Who Heals.”

God has healed my emotions many times over the course of my life.  I am now learning that a lot of the pain I have experienced was brought about by poor choices on my part, combined with a lack of boundaries.  God is now teaching me how to guard my heart in a healthy way so that I can let the good things He has for me in and keep the negative and toxic things (and people) out.  It is hard, slow work, but it must be done if I want healthy, whole relationships in the future.

In order to experience His full healing, I need to listen carefully to His voice, do what is right in His eyes, pay attention to His commands, and keep all His decrees (Exodus 15:22-26).  In order to do that, I need to stay in His Word and pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  A deeper relationship with Him is the key to my freedom.

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Too long have I allowed myself to be held captive by unhealthy, emotionally destructive thought patterns.  Too long have I settled for relationships and “friendships” that weren’t God’s best for me or in my best interest due to fear of loneliness, fear that I was unlovable, and fear that I would never find something better.  Christ died to give me abundant life.  It is high time I claimed that gift and began living it.

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The key to experiencing God’s restoration and healing is to spend quality time alone with Him.  In Mark 6:31, Jesus tells the disciples

Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.

As a woman – especially a single mom with a full-time job – it is difficult to find time to be alone with God without distraction.  I had to get over feeling guilty for taking care of my spiritual, mental, and emotional health.  What good is a spotless house if you are a mess on the inside?  Those feelings and thoughts of guilt are not from God.  God tells me that the most important thing I can do is deepen my relationship with Him.  And I have found this to be true.  Strengthening my relationship with God strengthens me, and in turn that strengthens my relationships with others.

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Setting aside time to rest and be restored by God is key to healing.  I have to take the time to work through and deal with my grief, disappointment, and pain.  I can’t ignore it or pretend it isn’t there.  Ignoring problems won’t make them go away.  But I can’t just sit around moping and feeling sorry for myself.  On the flip side, being busy as a way of just numbing the pain isn’t helpful and doesn’t work.  I must be busy working through the pain and getting closer to God.

God is nudging me to embrace my current life stage and take the opportunity to rest in Him and deepen that relationship when what I want to do is hurry up and get through this time of singleness and find a life partner.  But God is telling me to slow down, find out who I really am, and trust His timing for the rest.

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Previous Posts on this Study:
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Psalm 27 {Sunday Simplicity}

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I’ve been surrounded lately by messages to wait, hope, and trust.  To be patient.  To embrace the process and live fully where I am right now without trying to rush ahead.  This psalm, and the image I posted at the bottom that showed up first thing in my Facebook feed today, are just more timely reminders.
 
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Psalm 27

My Stronghold

Davidic.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?
2 When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
3 Though an army deploys against me,
my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
still I am confident.

4 I have asked one thing from the Lord;
it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord
and seeking Him in His temple.
5 For He will conceal me in His shelter
in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.
6 Then my head will be high
above my enemies around me;
I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

7 Lord, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
8 My heart says this about You,
“You[a] are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face.
9 Do not hide Your face from me;
do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper;
do not leave me or abandon me,
God of my salvation.
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.

11 Because of my adversaries,
show me Your way, Lord,
and lead me on a level path.
12 Do not give me over to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing violence.

13 I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong[b] and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.

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Blog Update and Psalm 26 {Sunday Simplicity}

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I’ve taken a little over a month off from blogging for various reasons. Life is pretty crazy right now between work, home, personal, and church commitments.  While I am still doing my quiet time and Bible studies, I just haven’t had the time – or the energy – to devote to writing posts.  Honestly, I’ve been a little LOT overwhelmed and exhausted, and both my physical and mental health were suffering from being overextended.  While I love blogging what I am learning – mostly because it helps me to process – and I also love interacting with the community I have found in doing this, it was becoming almost like work.  And that isn’t the point.  My study time was becoming focused on what kind of blog post I could generate out of it, and that’s not the point either.  Not the point at all.  So this was one thing I could set down for a while and not have to worry about doing while I got back to focusing on studying to build a relationship with God and instead of studying to write a blog post.  And I’ve also been working on building healthy relationships with others, and that takes time and energy, too.  But I don’t want to totally stop blogging.  I just can’t devote as much time to it as I was.  So, I’m not going to be cranking out several posts a week like I had been doing, but I will try to post something fairly regularly, even if it is just a Psalm on Sunday or a Five Minute Friday post here or there.  

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Psalm 26

Prayer for Vindication

Davidic.

1 Vindicate me, Lord,
because I have lived with integrity
and have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
2 Test me, Lord, and try me;
examine my heart and mind.
3 For Your faithful love is before my eyes,
and I live by Your truth.

4 I do not sit with the worthless
or associate with hypocrites.
5 I hate a crowd of evildoers,
and I do not sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands[a] in innocence
and go around Your altar, Lord,
7 raising my voice in thanksgiving
and telling about Your wonderful works.

8 Lord, I love the house where You dwell,
the place where Your glory resides.
9 Do not destroy me along with sinners,
or my life along with men of bloodshed
10 in whose hands are evil schemes
and whose right hands are filled with bribes.

11 redeem me and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
I will praise the Lord in the assemblies.

Coffee with God – October 1, 2013

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Passages that stuck out to me in today’s reading  in The One Year Chronological Bible (NIV).  Today’s passages were on John baptizing Jesus, the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, and the call of the first disciples.

John Baptizes Jesus:  Mark 1:9-11; Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34

  • In these passages we see all three members of the Trinity present – the Father expressing His pleasure in the Son as the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus.

Satan Tempts Jesus in the Desert:

At once the Spirit sent Him out into the desert, and He was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan . . . and angels attended Him. (Mark 1:12-13)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  (Matthew 4:1)

The tempter came to Him . . . (Matthew 4:3a)

Jesus said to him, “Away from Me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'”  Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him. (Matthew 4:10-11)

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. (Luke 4:1)

Jesus answered, “It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'” (Luke 4:8)

These verses really resonated with me today.  For the past month or so I have felt absolutely exhausted, defeated, and pummeled by life in general, to the point of almost giving up hope that things will ever get better or that God – or anyone else for that matter – even cares.  If I can just be real for a minute, I’m not sure why God keeps letting so much crap happen.  I have to hold on to the belief that there is some sort of purpose in what keeps getting thrown at me.  But it’s getting harder and harder to see that, and the weight is getting heavier and heavier.  At this point, I’m just trying to hang on to hope and faith for dear life.  These verses give me some hope that this will end, and God will send someone or something to help restore my joy and give me some hope back.  I just pray it happens soon.

Four Fishermen Follow Jesus:

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  At once they left their nets and followed Him.  When He had gone a little farther, He saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets.  Without delay He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him. (Mark 1:16-20)

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.  They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.  Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John.  They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets.  Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.  (Matthew 4:18-22)

So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.  (Luke 5:11)

I’ve never really thought about Zebedee in this story before until today.  What must he have thought?  I mean his sons were working with him.  They had a job to do for their father and their family.  Then some dude comes by, tells his sons to follow Him, and THEY DO IT.  They just up and LEAVE their father in the middle of the job they are supposed to be doing.  I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through Zebedee’s mind.  Actually, yes.  Yes, I can.  I worked with my dad when I was younger, and that would not have gone over well.  It would not go over well now if my son were to walk away to follow some random guy in the middle of a job I had given him to do.  

But the point is that Jesus called, and they obeyed.  Something made them drop everything – leave everything and everyone they had ever known  – parents, siblings, SPOUSES, CHILDREN, jobs, security, safety, comfort – and follow Him.  Not knowing where they were going or what would happen.  He called, and they answered.

They met the Son of God, and they couldn’t say no.  They couldn’t stay where they were.  Not after that.  Nothing else mattered.  Knowing Him – meeting Him – made it all worthwhile.

I want that kind of encounter with Jesus.  I want to know that it is all worthwhile.

 

Trusting in the Wait – Psalm 25 {Sunday Simplicity}

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Psalm 25

Dependence on the Lord

Davidic.

1 Lord, I turn to You.
2 My God, I trust in You.
Do not let me be disgraced;
do not let my enemies gloat over me.
3 No one who waits for You will be disgraced;
those who act treacherously without cause
will be disgraced.

4 Make Your ways known to me, Lord;
teach me Your paths.
5 Guide me in Your truth and teach me,
for You are the God of my salvation;
I wait for You all day long.
6 Remember, Lord, Your compassion
and Your faithful love,
for they have existed from antiquity.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth
or my acts of rebellion;
in keeping with Your faithful love, remember me
because of Your goodness, Lord.

8 The Lord is good and upright;
therefore He shows sinners the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right
and teaches them His way.
10 All the Lord’s ways show faithful love and truth
to those who keep His covenant and decrees.
11 Because of Your name, Yahweh,
forgive my sin, for it is great.

12 Who is the man who fears the Lord?
He will show him the way he should choose.
13 He will live a good life,
and his descendants will inherit the land.
14 The secret counsel of the Lord
is for those who fear Him,
and He reveals His covenant to them.
15 My eyes are always on the Lord,
for He will pull my feet out of the net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am alone and afflicted.
17 The distresses of my heart increase;
bring me out of my sufferings.
18 Consider my affliction and trouble,
and take away all my sins.
19 Consider my enemies; they are numerous,
and they hate me violently.
20 Guard me and deliver me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in You.
21 May integrity and what is right
watch over me, for I wait for You.

22 God, redeem Israel, from all its distresses.

Coffee with God – September 26, 2013

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Passages that stuck out to me in today’s reading  of Nehemiah 13 and Joel 1-2 in The One Year Chronological Bible (NIV).

Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing. (Nehemiah 13:2b)

Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.  (Nehemiah 13:14)

Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to Your great love. (Nehemiah 13:22b)

Remember me with favor, O my God.  (Nehemiah 13:31b)

‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ (Joel 2:12)

Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.  Who knows?  He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing – grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God. (Joel 2:13-14)

Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice.  Surely the LORD has done great things. (Joel 2:21)

Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for He has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. (Joel 2:23)

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten – the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm – my great army that I sent among you.’ (Joel 2:25)

‘And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.’ (Joel 2:28-29)

And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls. (Joel 2:32)