Forgiveness Series – Part 3: What About Me?

As I’ve mentioned previously the key to our release is forgiveness and this comes firstly in repentance (asking for our own forgiveness) and then forgiveness of others. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) states: ‘Father forgive me for my sins’ and then continues with us asking for forgiveness for those who have hurt us. The second part of that prayer is hard, but I find the first part the hardest. I can quickly and easily see the faults of others but when it comes to my own faults and wrong doings I can be so blind and arrogant. My moments of sickness left me bitter towards myself I didn’t like being trapped in my failing useless body, in fact I resented it. But to discover that some of the issues were because of choices I’d made meant having to take a good long hard painful look at myself. I didn’t like what I saw. Growing up I had brownish red hair and people around me took delight in saying things like: “look at that red hair and fiery temper to match!”. In my teens it was a rule around my house to not talk to me before I had breakfast because all you’d get was a grunt. I had attitude issues and it was commonly said that I regularly gave people “the look”, you know the one where you throw ‘daggers’ with your eyes! Not a nice picture ay.

I tried hard to work on all my anger issues but they flared up when my kids were young. I’d often not handle a situation with the grace that was required of me. I remember attending a women’s event and they had a fountain as the focus, we were invited to hand something to God and wash our hands in the water to symbolise the cleansing. I remember feeling prompted to drown angry-Keona in that fountain because I desperately wanted to stop being a fool by allowing anger to dwell in my heart (Ecclesiastes 7:9). I proudly came home and promptly apologised and declared to my family that the angry me was gone!

I have to admit I’ve unfortunately had my moments still, but overall God has done and is doing a great work in my life. But as I reflect upon forgiveness I identify anger as a by-product of my unforgiveness towards myself. In 1 John 1:9 we are promised that when we freely confess our sins God will forgive us and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness, He will remove all that does not conform to His will and purpose from our life. My experience has been that this cleansing process is a painful one. When issues flare up I feel like I’m stuck back in that place of anger, but as I allow God to work I find that He is actually pulling up the roots of anger and other issues.

In Colossians 1:13-14 we find a promise that Jesus has drawn us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of Light because through Jesus we find redemption, forgiveness of sin and the cancellation of sin’s penalty.

Micah 7:19 promises that the Lord has extended His great compassion to us for He has destroyed sin’s power over us! He has cast all of our sins into the depths of the sea where they no longer have a hold on us!!! But again this can be a process of continually pressing in and trusting God to outwork this glorious promise. For example I am healed, I truly believe that, but it is taking some time for the physical weakness to leave my body.

Mark 11:24-25 is the wonderful promise that when we ask and pray with great faith then we will receive and have the things we have asked for (in accordance to God’s will). But we are reminded that when we are praying and asking for these things if we are holding unforgiveness towards anyone we are to forgive, drop the issue and let it go, by forgiving others God will also forgive us.

There are some pretty tough challenges contained in those verses but as I reflect upon them I’m also comforted to know that the Holy Spirit longs to assist me to live a life that reflects them.

It has been a process that God has taken me through and I think one of the things that broke through my hard veneer was to know that I was fully accepted (Romans 8:15), God called me His child despite all my faults and failings. That truth for me brought me so much hope and healing. As I allowed that truth to fix itself in my heart I allowed God deeper and deeper into my life to fix that which needed correcting. As I found deep forgiveness I discovered that forgiving others became so much easier.

I found that as God’s love bloomed in my heart I was able to move into a closer alignment to Romans 12:9-10 which urges us to not pretend to love others but to REALLY love them. We’re to despise evil, which I interpret here as a call to refuse to hate and reject others, and embrace everything that is good and virtuous. We’re to love with genuine tender love that delights in respecting and honouring others. It’s a HUGE call and one that I fail at time after time but as I allow God to grow and mature me I believe that genuine, truthful and appropriate love for others will grow.

“Admitting we are wrong, acknowledging we have hurt others and asking for forgiveness is not easy, but essential for authentic relationships.” Christine Caine

If you’re struggling with unforgiveness of yourself here is a prayer that you can pray:

Thank You that for the promise that when I freely confess my sins God will forgive me and cleanse me continually from all unrighteousness, He will remove all that does not conform to His will and purpose from my life. (1 John 1:9)

Thank You Lord Jesus for drawing me from the dominion of darkness and transferring me into the Kingdom of Light. Through Jesus I have been redeemed, I find forgiveness from my sins and the cancellation of sin’s penalty. (Colossians 1:13-14)

God I praise You for extending Your great compassion to me, thank You for destroying sin’s power over me! I believe that You’ve cast all of my sins into the depths of the sea where they no longer have a hold on me!!! (Micah 7:19)

Empower me to ask and pray with great faith, stir up my faith Lord. I long to receive and have the things that are in accordance to God’s will. When I pray and people are brought to my mind that I need to forgive, please enable me to forgive them. Lord, also help me to drop the issue and let it go. Just as I’ve been forgiven I need to forgive. Holy Spirit assist me to live a life that reflects Jesus’ character and nature. (Mark 11:24-25)

I thank You Abba that I’m a fully accepted Child through Jesus (Romans 8:15), help that truth to penetrate deep into my heart to bring hope and healing. I invite Your great transforming love deeper and deeper into my heart to fix that which needs correcting. Let forgiveness flow readily and freely from my life as Your great love blooms in my heart.

Let me not pretend to love people but genuinely love them. Enable me to despise evil, refuse to hate and reject others, and embrace everything that is good and virtuous. Let me love with genuine tender love that delights in respecting and honouring others (Romans 12:9-10). I praise You for forgiveness Lord. I pray all of these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

But my heart still cries: ‘what about me!”

When it comes to the subject of forgiveness there is a part of us that cries out: “but what about me?” because there is a deep desire for justice and even revenge. It is our human nature that screams out in protest as soon as we begin to think about forgiving others.

But remember Matthew 6:14-15 reminds us that when we pray we are to forgive the faults of others so that our Father in Heaven will also forgive us. We are warned that if we withhold forgiveness then God also withholds forgiveness to us. Ouch! That hurts doesn’t it?! What about the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35) and the call to forgive from our hearts so that forgiveness is not withheld from us. But it’s hard, right? I don’t think I’m alone in my struggle. But as Christians we are to be Jesus’ example to the world and when He was being crucified He cried out:  “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 New King James Version)

I know that at times I’ve felt ‘crucified’ by people – I have felt like their words have pierced my heart with pain; I have felt my hands shake as the rage of injustice builds in my heart; I’ve felt my stomach churn as accusations were thrown at me; I have endured bullying which felt like shred of dignity being torn off me. I know people fail us and they hurt us deeply. I’ve had hurtful words thrown at me when all I was trying to do was comfort and assist someone through their pain. I can tell you right now in each of those situations my first words were not “Father forgive them”. I know that we can get into the habit of comparing our pain and feeling like ours is far greater than others. I know that people don’t fully understand our pain. BUT I also know that God never fails us. I know that Jesus FULLY understands because He faced life here on earth; He battled rejection and pain; faced disappointment and betrayal; and as I mentioned He has endured the most extreme pain a person can face – crucifixion. When I think about all that He endured I actually cannot begin to imagine His pain and suffering. I’ve watched the Mel Gibson movie The Passion Of The Christ and I can tell you right now it was brutal. So many times through that movie I felt physically sick at what was happening but I also think that it was important for me to watch it because when I’m having a bad day I can think about all Jesus endured. I can reflect upon that and I can know:

  • My day isn’t anywhere near as bad as that.
  • That when I ask for His help and He says that He understand I know that He truly does and in fact He understands human nature far better than I.
  • That even in the hardest of moments Jesus cried out for the forgiveness of others.

There is a warning to not hold a grudge or try to get even, we’re not to seek to repay evil for evil, rather we’re to see and plan for ways that we can be gracious towards others. We’re urged to endeavour (focus all energies possible) to live in in peace with everyone. We’re not to be obsessed with taking revenge but rather hand the matter over to God and allow His righteous justice to prevail, for He states: “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay” (Romans 12:17-19).

There is an even harder call, to bless our enemies. Yes, I know not the kind of news we want our hurting heart to hear is it?! But God challenges us to feed our enemy if they are hungry and if they’re thirsty we’re to offer them something to drink (that is not laced with poison). When we do this we’re conquering evil with good. Now the next bit we can get excited about for all the wrong reasons and even think of doing that as we offer them food because it says when we are kind towards those who have hurt us we will heap burning coals of shame upon their heads (Romans 12:20-21). This is a confusing statement to put in and all I can really think to say is that when we respond with kindness to cruelty we reveal the nature of God that is contrary to the human nature. When we reveal God’s grace we invite His presence into the situation which can cause people to think carefully about their actions because one of the roles of the Holy Spirit, and it is His divine work alone, is to convict us of our wrong doings.

Therefore, as God’s children we are to have hearts full of compassion; display kindness; walk in humility; have a gentle and loving heart; and patiently endure injustice or unpleasant circumstances. We are to be gracious towards others by willingly and completely forgiving them because just as we have been forgiven we are expected and required to forgive. Through the help of the Holy Spirit the forgiveness extended to us can flow through our lives into the lives of others (Colossians 3:12-13).

“You can focus on the person who hurt you or the God who healed you. You will talk most about the one on whom you focus the most!” Christine Caine

My prayer:

Lord help me to cry out, from my heart, “Father, forgive them.” (Luke 23:34)

Holy Spirit help me to not hold a grudge or try to get even, to not seek to repay evil for evil, rather enable me to see and plan for ways that I can be gracious towards others. Let me endeavour (focus all energies possible) in living in peace with everyone. Let me not be obsessed with taking revenge but rather hand the matter completely over to You God, I’ll step back to allow Your righteous justice to prevail, for You state: “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay”. (Romans 12:17-19).

Therefore, as God’s child I ask for a heart full of compassion; let me display kindness as I walk in humility; grant me a gentle and loving heart that patiently endures injustice or unpleasant circumstances. Empower me to be gracious towards others by willingly and completely forgiving them because just as I’ve been forgiven I’m expected and required to forgive. Through the help of the Holy Spirit the forgiveness extended to me can flow through my life and into the lives of others (Colossians 3:12-13). I praise You for forgiveness Lord. I pray all of these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I pray that this has encouraged and helped you. Many blessings, Keona

Note: The Passion Of The Christ (2004) is a movie depicting the final twelve hours of Jesus’ life with some flash backs to His entire life. Directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus; Maia Morgenstern as Mary; Francesco De Vito as Peter; Luca Lionello as Judas and Monica Bellucci as Magdalen. Other cast members include: Christo Jivkov; Mattia Sbragia; Toni Bertorelli; Hristo Shopov; Claudia Gerini; and Fabio Sartor.

Image – Pixabay modified

Forgiveness Series – Part 2: Captive vs Prisoner

Is there a difference between a captive and a prisoner? In the Bethel Sozo training dvd they state that there is and refer to the following Bible verse:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” Isaiah 61:1 (NLT)

Here we read the reference to captives and prisoners and my interest was sparked. In Luke 4:21 (NLT) Jesus reads the above scripture and declares that: “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”. Therefore, Jesus came to release the captives and free the prisoners. But what is the difference? My research has led me to the following:

As a captive we are taken from being free to having constrains or bondages placed upon us. Although we might still be in a familiar place we are restrained from being able to move freely. Captives are usually dealt with harshly, they receive no mercy, and are usually abused therefore suffer horrific treatment. The Israelites were led away in chains from Jerusalem to Babylon (Jeremiah 40:1) physically but we can find ourselves in such a state spiritually. As a captive we may be bound but still able to move around a bit. Captivity usually entails moving from a familiar place to an unfamiliar place where we become a prisoner. As a prisoner we don’t have liberty (freedom) we may be still restrained but we are also now confined and or contained in an unfamiliar place. Not much movement can happen if any at all. As a prisoner we move from being captured and shackled to now being in a prison cell.

God highlighted to me that as a:

  • Captive we are restrained
  • Prisoner may still be restrained but are now also confined

My story, about being imprisoned, was written to try and convey the idea that someone has taken us captive, put us in chains and done unspeakable things to us. Then thrown us into a prison cell leaving us to die in great pain. The person who has hurt us may think of us no more or they may come back to taunt us each day. Whatever the case is we can be free.

 Liberty and Freedom

Oxford Living Dictionaries defines liberty as: The state of being free.…from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life or behaviour…

Bible Study Tools explains liberty as the opposite of servitude or bondage, hence, applicable to captives or slaves set free from oppression.

Oxford Living Dictionaries defines freedom as: the state of not being affected by something undesirable; and a special privilege or right of access.

Bible Study Tools states that the theme of freedom rings loudly in one of the most crucial sections of Scripture, namely the narrative of the exodus. God’s people were enslaved in Egypt, they were suffering and He desired to see them set free. God longed to see His people reconciled to Him and He wanted them free so that they could love and serve Him. But the people found it hard to obey God and love Him with their whole hearts. Psalm 106:43 states that God rescued them many times but they continued in their rebellious ways, they chose to ignore His warnings which meant they sank lower and lower into wickedness and were destroyed by their depravity. Romans 8 (5,7) explains that our human minds fix upon things which satisfy the flesh, we have a mindset that is actively hostile towards God’s plan and refuses to submit to His direction; laws and instructions because it simply can’t. This reveals that there was a deeper issue than just physical captivity. There was a divine liberty that was needed.

But what is this divine liberty?

In Luke 1 we read that redemption has come and that Jesus brings us salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us (Luke 1:68,71).

They prophesied he would come one day and save us from every one of our enemies and from the power of those who hate us.” Luke 1:71 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Romans 8 explains that God sent Jesus to accomplish what the law was unable to accomplish, because the law was limited by the weakness of human nature. We were imprisoned and held within the fierce grip of sin. To experience freedom we need to be clear about who has authority over us, if we are captured or imprisoned we need to understand who we are in bondage to. We need to ask ourselves the tough questions such as: Have I given full authority of my life to God? Have I asked Him to release me from the bondage of sin? Have I claimed my redemption through Jesus?

In 2 Peter 1 Simon-Peter refers to himself as being a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ. Another way of describing this is that Peter chose to be a loving servant of Jesus, he acknowledges Jesus as having authority over him. Peter committed himself to serve Jesus in any way that he could, and we know that he served to the point of death!

For a captive to be released or a prisoner to be freed someone has to speak in their defence, a proclamation of freedom needs to be made and proof provided to show their innocence.

The wonderful news is that Jesus has and will always speak in our defence, He has proclaimed and will forever proclaim our freedom!!!!

His scarred and nail pierced body is the eternal evidence that paid the price; Jesus’ blood claims our redemption; and Jesus provides the evidence we need for innocence!!!

Jesus bore the price for all of our sins. WOW! Isn’t that just too wonderful?

Let’s look at that some more and try to fully understand this truly wonderful Good News:

We are liberated:

Romans 8:2 declares that the law of the Spirit of life flows through Jesus Christ to us as His followers and we are set free (liberated) from the law of sin and death.

Because Jesus has paid the price:

Jesus was sent in human form (in the likeness of a sinful man) to identify with human weakness and as an offering for sin (Romans 8:3b).

Jesus personally carried the sins of the world in His body upon the cross, that is our past sin, any present sin and any sins we may commit in the future. They are ALL covered because Jesus willingly offered Himself as a sacrifice for us! Jesus’ great sacrifice has made us dead to sin, which means that we are immune from the penalty of our sins, and we are no longer held with the power of sin. With Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we can live a life of righteousness. Jesus’ body was beaten, whipped and wounded so that we can declare: ‘by Jesus’ stripes we are healed!’ (1 Peter 2:24).

When Jesus becomes our Lord and Saviour we can hold to the following promises:

  • No longer live a life according to our flesh chasing after worldly things
  • Live our lives guided by the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit
  • Have a brand-new mindset which brings us life and peace
  • we have spiritual wellbeing because we walk with God
  • The Spirit of God empowers our lives and directs and guides us
  • The Spirit we receive is one of full acceptance, we are adopted as God’s children because we receive the Spirit of complete sonship which means that we are God’s consecrated children! (see Romans 8:4, 6b, 9, 15 &16)

Forgive others

Because we have received God’s grace and complete forgiveness we’re required to forgive others. God can, and wants to, enable us to forgive; to let go of all of the emotions and strongholds; and to leave that place of imprisonment behind!

We can be truly set free!

Forgiveness may not change the person we’ve forgiven. But The power of forgiveness sets us free! When we forgive the person who hurt us they no longer have any power over us, we’re out of that prison cell and we NEVER have to go back!!

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy.

We have to fight for our freedom every step of the way.

We have to deny that part of us that wants vengeance.

It’s going to be tough BUT the reward is freedom!

The reward is walking in right relationship with God which will put us in a place where we can receive all the healing balm we need!

“The question isn’t how much forgiveness do they deserve. The question is, how much freedom do you desire?” Pastor Steven Furtick

Here is my prayer:

Lord Jesus, You came to bring the Good News and I ask You to come and comfort my broken heart. Lord whatever is binding me I ask to be set free because You came so that the captives could be released. Lord whatever is imprisoning me I ask for You to release me because You came so that the prisoners could be freed (Isaiah 61:1 & Luke 4:21).

Lord Jesus I believe that you personally carried the sins of the world in Your body upon the cross, that is my past sin, any present sin and any sins I may commit in the future. Thank You that they are ALL covered because Jesus You willingly offered Yourself as a sacrifice for me! Jesus Your great sacrifice has made me dead to sin, which means that I’m immune from the penalty of my sins, and I’m no longer held with the power of sin. With Jesus as my Lord and Saviour I can live a life of righteousness. Jesus’ body was beaten, whipped and wounded so that I can declare: ‘by Jesus’ stripes I AM healed!’ (1 Peter 2:24).

Because Jesus is my Lord and Saviour I no longer live a life according to my flesh I will no longer chase after worldly things; I will live my life guided by the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit; I have a brand-new mindset which brings life and peace; I have spiritual wellbeing because I now walk with God; the Spirit of God empowers my life, leading directing and guiding me; I have received the  Spirit of full acceptance which means that I’m adopted (through Christ Jesus) as God’s child, I receive the Spirit of complete sonship which means that I’m God’s consecrated child! (Romans 8:4, 6b, 9, 15 &16).

I desire to walk in the abundant life that you promise (John 10:10). In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.

Many blessings, Keona

Forgiveness Series – Part 1: Imprisoned

I’ve awoken shaking with fear tightly gripping my heart, I can hardly breathe. I gasp for air and look around my bleak prison cell. My eyes feel heavy and my heart is weighed down. I try to sit up but my injuries prevent me from moving without pain. I struggle over to the wash basin to try and splash some water on my face. As I stand my head swims and I struggle to stay upright. I slowly drag myself to my bed and gently ease my weary body back down. I lay on my side because the bruises make it too painful to put pressure on my back. Tears flow without restraint as the sorrow overwhelms me. I lie there for hours battered and bruised feeling feel just as black and blue on inside as the outside. I feel dead and completely void of life.

I hear a faint whisper and slowly sit up wondering if my prayers have finally been answered. “Lord?!” I cry out “please speak to me!” I hold my breath waiting for a response.

Child listen

I sit up straight with my heart beating fast

the key for your release is near

I sit there stunned looking around trying to find where a key could be hidden. I stop my search and cry out: “where is the key Lord?”

Forgiveness rings out in my ears and I shrink in fear.

“How can You possibly expect me to forgive? Do you not see my pain, have you not heard my cries? How can I possibly forgive them for all the brutality?”

I cry bitter tears and hide under the thin blanket. A warmth spreads through my cold body and I peek out from the covers “Lord?”

I’m here child, will you please listen?

I slowly sit up and hang my head, “yes Lord I’ll listen”

Take a deep breath and listen carefully

I inhale and exhale a few deep breaths and wait with my heart feeling heavy

Is there anyone you can forgive?

“No Lord I simply can’t”

I will help you, will you trust me?

I shrug my shoulders and hang my head lower as the pain increases in my heart. I feel sick at the mere thought of having to forgive, as my stomach churns I wonder how it can even be possible. “Lord how can You possibly condone what they did?”

Child, I DON’T condone what they did, forgiveness is not about that.

“Why didn’t you stop them?” I sob heart wrenching tears and curl up on the cold hard bed. I lie there for ages wondering if God has left me alone, “So You’ve abandoned me again?” I whisper to the wall.

No child I promised that I would never leave you nor forsake you. I’m right here where I’ve always been and where I’ll always be!

I cry more and blubber “Then why can’t I feel Your presence? Why do I feel so alone?”

That is a lie my child, don’t allow those feelings to put the wall up between us.

“How Lord can I believe? How can I trust You?”

Allow me to love you, allow me to comfort you, to strengthen you and allow me to enable you to forgive.

“But Lord how can I possibly let them ‘off the hook’ for what has happened? Why don’t you punish them?”

Child what they did was devastating enough, don’t allow the feelings of hatred, bitterness, judgement, discouragement and anger fester in your heart and mind any longer.

I feel sick again and wonder if I might throw up, but then rage takes over and I yell: “I want to be angry, I want to hurt them back!”

Child, NO! Don’t give the enemy a foothold in your life. You must let go!

I curl up and sob “I don’t want to Lord, I simply cannot”

Child will you trust me to help you?

I shrug and think for awhile. I go through all my options and weigh them up. I finally decide that I don’t want to stay in this place any longer. “Ok Lord I’ll trust You”, a great warmth surrounds my heart and I let out a huge sigh. The weight of pain has started to lift. I softly pray:

“Heavenly Father dwelling in the heavenly realms

Hallowed be Thy name

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven

Grant me this day my daily bread

Please forgive my sins, as I forgive (my throat catches but I push through the pain and the strangling of my vocal cords to continue) those who have sinned against me

Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen!”

As the words reverberate around the room I feel as if the walls are shaking and shifting. I open my eyes and look at the door as it begins to creak and groan.

Well done child!

I smile for the first time in a long time and I feel the pressure lift from my heart. “Ok Lord what now? The door is still locked tight”

Laughter fills the room and the quiet voice cries out: patience child

I sit in the silence and allow the warmth to spread into the very depths of my being, “Ok Lord, I’m ready what do I do now?”

Begin to name and forgive each person as they come into your mind, don’t be afraid I’m right here

Faces begin to flash in my mind and as each one comes into focus I cry out: “Lord help me to forgive”, the pain intensifies, and I double over as great sobs of grief wash over me. As the faces build and build I cry out: “Lord, it’s too much I cannot continue”.

Child you are far stronger than you realise, draw upon My strength not yours

I take a deep breath and allow the pain to subside before I continue, “Ok Lord strengthen me”. The faces turn into moments and as the memories race through my mind the pain stabs at my heart, “Lord I forgive! Lord I release the pain to You, please take it away. I let go of hatred, bitterness, judgement, discouragement and anger. Take it all away. Lord please fill me with compassion towards those who have hurt me.” A peace falls upon me like I’ve never known before and I feel stronger and so full of life.

“Thank You Lord” I cry and jump up with great excitement. I hear the sound of metal on concrete and I look down. I gasp as my gaze falls upon a beautiful large key lying on the floor, I bend and gently pick it up.

Open up the door my child for you’re now free.

I walk over to my prison door and I find that the key fits perfectly into the lock and easily turns. As the door swings open I take a final look back at my cold prison cell. I stand there in amazement but also with grief gripping my heart, “Lord I’m so sorry for sitting here feeling hard done by and sorry for myself. I wallowed in my grief and didn’t cry out to you for so long”

It’s ok my child, move forward now with My great compassion burning bright in your chest.

I lift my head and look down the hallway. I can see others trapped in cells just like mine, “Lord shall I share with them what I’ve learnt?”

Of course my child! Your freedom is only one part of the story, now you must go and tell others how I can set them free.

As I walk away from my prison cell my heart fills with God’s great compassion.

“Lord help me to always display kindness, grant me a gentle and loving heart. Teach me how to walk in humility, knowing that it is Your strength alone that enables me. Grant to me a steadfast nature that can patiently endure injustice or unpleasant circumstances. Lord help to be gracious towards others by readily, willingly and completely forgiving them. May I always remember to forgive others not just because You command me to, but because You long to bestow forgiveness upon me and others. Holy Spirit flow Your great forgiveness through my life into the lives of others.”

As I move along the corridor I have a new sense of purpose!

The Bible urges us to forgive and to release blessing upon those who have hurt us. Forgiveness is such a hard issue to deal with and time after time I know I’ve gotten it wrong. I desire to not continually keep getting it wrong. I recently watched the training dvd from the Sozo ministry and they explained that we can be imprisoned due to unforgiveness, that really sparked within me a desire to know how to completely forgive. I wanted to truly and fully forgive from my heart. I looked up the Bible verse they mentioned and then others and I spent time allowing the words to wash over me. As I pressed into God I wrote this story. Please note that I haven’t been physically abused or imprisoned in the traditional sense – I haven’t committed a crime that has resulted in me being in jail. But I have been imprisoned in a physically debilitated body; I have felt imprisoned because my mind has experienced depression; I have felt emotionally imprisoned and I have felt spiritually imprisoned. I wrote this story using those elements as my inspiration.

As I’ve journeyed upon deep inner healing my need to ask for forgiveness has burned in my heart. I’ve had to address my failing and wrong doings.  Acts 3:19 issues a challenge to repent, that is to change our inner self which includes dealing with our old ways of thinking, our regrets and past sins. We are to turn to God and seek His purpose for our life so that our sins can be wiped away, completely erased, we will then experience a refreshing which comes from the presence of the Lord.

I absolutely loved the idea of being refreshed and was pleasantly surprised to discover that as I allowed God to bring up issues, that really needed to be dealt with, I found a real release and refreshing through repentance and a commitment to change.

Daniel 9 contains a wonderful prayer and here is my paraphrased version: I pray now and confess my sins to You Almighty God. Lord You are so great and awesome, a faithful God that keeps His covenants and extends lovingkindness towards those who love You and keep Your commandments. I acknowledge that I have sinned and done wrong by You, I have behaved badly and rebelled from obeying Your commandments. There have been many times I haven’t listened to You, I apologise now and ask for Your forgiveness. Lord God You are merciful and I beg wholeheartedly for Your forgiveness and seek Your favour by turning away from my old ways. I long to pay attention to Your instructions and I place great value in Your truth. Almighty God Your mighty hand has delivered in the past and I ask that You would extend it now to me. Please let Your face shine upon me; incline Your ear to hear; and open Your eyes to my situation. I present my life before You and ask for Your mercy and compassion. O Lord please forgive me. O Lord please act.

Ephesians 1:7 declares that in Jesus we have redemption, we find deliverance and salvation, because of the blood that Jesus shed for us. We can find forgiveness and the complete pardon from our sins in accordance with His amazing grace that is lavished upon us!

As I studied I cried out: ‘Lord God, I come before You now and I ask for Your forgiveness. As Your child I ask that You would grow within me a heart full of compassion. Help me to display kindness to myself and those around me. Teach me to walk in humility. Develop within me a gentle and loving heart. Build a steadfast spirit within me so that I can patiently endure injustice or unpleasant circumstances. Enable me to be gracious towards others by willingly and completely forgiving them because just as I’ve been forgiven I’m expected and required to forgive. Through the help of the Holy Spirit the forgiveness extended to me can flow through my life into the lives of others (Colossians 3:12- 13). In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.’

I pray that this has sparked within you some hope and encouragement.

Many blessings, Keona

Picture – Pixabay

The Goodness of God

Now I wouldn’t blame you at all if you struggled with the title of this blog. When I was battling endometriosis and extreme fatigue I couldn’t see it either. If your life is in disarray, if you’re facing debilitating pain, or a battle that has you completely overwhelmed, I understand that you can be left wondering where God is in all of it. For most of my life I believed in God but I struggled with my faith particularly as I faced heartbreaking moments such as my miscarriage. As I wrestled with the grief and the pain of losing my child I just couldn’t see how God was good. As I wrestled with extreme pain and scepticism from medical professionals I felt totally imprisoned in hurt and rejection. When I faced months of being trapped in bed due to my illness I was left feeling so distant from God, but when He healed me in September 2016 I discovered the goodness of God. As I journeyed upon deep inner healing and restoration I discovered how God had been at work and I was surprised to realise that He had been there in the moments that I felt utterly abandoned. As I’ve been allowing God to reveal more and more of His goodness to me I was reminded of the story about the prodigal son. I’ve just reread a novel series written by Beverly LaHaye and Terri Blackstock and in the 3rd book, titled Times an Seasons, one of the characters in the book is a 15 year old called Mark, he made a silly choice which left him incarcerated in a youth detention centre. As he wrestles with the consequences of his actions at first he is really angry but as he is supported by family and friends he comes to discover God in a deeply personal way. The story that breaks through his wall of anger and hurt is the story of the prodigal son. I felt a prompting to study the story afresh for myself.

The story is found in Luke 15:11-32 and it is about a father and his two sons. One day the younger son asks for his inheritance and the father lovingly distributes to both of his sons their inheritance. The younger son leaves home to see the world and enters into a life of binging extravagantly and recklessly. Soon he finds that his money has run out and growing hungry he begs a farmer to hire him. It is noted that food is scare because there is a famine in the land and the younger son’s job is to feed the pigs. Now from a cultural point of view caring for pigs would have been a huge challenge for him because Jewish people were forbidden from raising pigs. The younger son find himself doing a job that he would have never ever imagined doing and to add insult to injury he is desperately hungry, he becomes so desperate that he considers eating the pig’s scraps, yuck! In utter desperation and humiliation, the younger son remembers that his father’s servants are well cared for and he wonders if he can go home and beg for a job. The young man decides to make his way home and rehearses his plea: Father, I was wrong. I have sinned against you. I’ll never be worthy to be called your son. Please, Father, just treat me like one of your employees.” (verse 18 The Passion Translation).

As the son nears home his father sees him dressed as a beggar and great compassion swells up in his heart, he races out to meet him where he sweeps his son up into his arms hugging him and kissing him. Rather than displaying his anger and disappointment the father showers his son in tender love. The son starts to stumble out his plea but his father interrupts saying: “Son, you’re home now!”. The father then turns to his servants and orders them to bring his best robe to place on his son’s shoulders; a ring to place upon his finger to represent his sonship; and to organise a huge feast to celebrate his son’s return. His brother feels angry that a big celebration is being held for his wayward brother, but his father urges him to celebrate saying: “I thought that he was dead but he is alive; he was lost but now he is found; let’s celebrate because he is home safe and sound!”.

It’s a beautiful story of reconciliation and forgiveness. As I reflected upon that story afresh I was also reminded of the roles that the trinity have: Father God wants to instil in us value and identity, to be our fierce protector and faithful provider. Jesus desires to be our constant companion and best friend. The Holy Spirit longs to comfort, teach and nurture us. (Based on the tool: Father Ladder used by the Bethel Transformation prayer ministry titled Sozo).

Let’s unpack that some more:

Father God

Wants to instil in us value and identity: Just like the prodigal’s father our heavenly Father longs to be in a loving relationship with us. When we mess up He lovingly runs to pick us up. Through Jesus we enter into a relationship where we become God’s sons and daughters (see Romans 8). As we walk and talk with God by reading His Word (the Bible) we discover who He is and who we are. When I struggle with my identity I always love to read Psalm 139.

Wants to be our fierce protector and faithful provider: As we trust God in every situation we face we discover that He longs to protect and provide. Psalm 91 is a powerful reminder that we are hidden in the strength of God Most High because His massive arms are wrapped around us. His arms of faithfulness are a shield that keeps us from all harm and we do not need to fear a thing! That just sounds way too good to be true right? BUT God’s promises are reliable. God as our faithful provider is a promise that I often cling to when I face difficulties. One particularly rough patch I was reminded that God is Jehovah Jireh – our God who does provide (Genesis 22:14).

In Philippians 4 we read Paul’s letter thanking the Philippians for their faithful support. His letter of thanks becomes a prayer as He asks God to bring them “abundant reward” for the generosity that they have bestowed upon him. He goes on the explain that He truly believes that God can fully satisfy every need they have for Paul has experienced God’s abundant riches of glory which were revealed to him through Jesus Christ! If that is true for the Philippians I believe that it can be true for us. I truly believe that as we give what God calls us to give that He will meet every need that we have. Warning though that this isn’t a meeting of our wish lists or what we think we need but rather what God knows we really need. God can meet our every spiritual and physical need because He is a good Father who faithfully provides.

Jesus

Jesus desires to be our constant companion and best friend. The thing that I absolutely love about Jesus is that He has walked this earth. He has faced some of the very same difficulties that we have faced.  He laid down His life so that we could be His companion so when we ask for His support and companionship He will provide it. We’re promised that He will never fail us or abandon us because we will never be without His support and help (Deuteronomy 31:6,8 and Hebrews 13:5).

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit longs to comfort, teach and nurture us. We read in Acts 9:31 that the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, explaining that there was an end to persecution. Christians enjoyed a time where they were spiritually built up in wisdom, virtue and faith as they lived their lives in the fear of the Lord because they were comforted and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. They also enjoyed a season of growing in numbers. This description of the people being comforted by the Holy Spirit reminds me of the promises in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that God is the God of all comfort who comes alongside us to comfort and encourage us in our moments of trouble and suffering; then we are able to comfort and encourage others as they face a painful trial.

We also see how the Holy Spirit is teaching the early church because it is documented that they grew in wisdom, virtue and faith. Jesus promised that this would happen, in John 14:26, because the Holy spirit would be sent to teach us all things and help us to remember every word that Jesus taught. 1 John 2:27 even explains that the Holy Spirit will lead us into discovering the Truth.

I encourage you to Read “Acts 9:31 – The Comfort of the Holy Spirit” for more great teaching around this. Also www.bible.knowing-jesus.com has a collation of Bible verse around the Holy Spirit being out teacher.

My prayer:

Father God I invite You to instil in me my true value and identity which comes from knowing You. Thank You that I can be called a daughter of God (Romans 8).

I ask to walk closely with You Lord and as I read Your Word help me to discover who You are and therefore who I am.

Thank You for being my fierce protector and faithful provider. I long to trust You Father God in every situation I face. Thank You for the promises in Psalm 91, that I’m hidden in the strength of God Most High because His massive arms are wrapped around me. His arms of faithfulness are a shield that keep me from all harm and I do not need to fear a thing!

Thank You for being Jehovah Jireh – my God who provides (Genesis 22:14).

Lord I ask for provision along with wisdom and discernment to faithfully support Kingdom work. Let me be generous trusting that You can fully satisfy every need I have. Let me continually experience God’s abundant riches of glory which are revealed through Jesus Christ! I believe that You can meet every spiritual and physical need I have because You’re a good Father who faithfully provides.

Thank You Lord Jesus for laying down Your life for me. I want You to be my constant companion and best friend. Thank You for the promise that You will never fail me or abandon me because I’ll never be without Your support and help (Deuteronomy 31:6,8 and Hebrews 13:5).

Holy Spirit I invite You to comfort, teach and nurture me. Grow me in wisdom, virtue and faith as I live my life in the fear of the Lord because I’m comforted and encouraged by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31).

Thank You God for being the God of all comfort who comes alongside me to comfort and encourage me in my moments of trouble and suffering; then I’m able to comfort and encourage others as they face a painful trial (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Holy Spirit come and teach me all things and help me to remember every word that Jesus taught, lead me to discover the Truth (1 John 2:27) more and more each and every day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

I pray that this has encouraged and inspired you to discover God’s goodness. Many blessings, Keona

Image from Pixabay

‘Living In the Overflow’ – People & Songs – YouTube video

The privilege of voting

As the local election campaigns roll out there is a real urge in me to complain, to moan and whine. I think about the annoyance of all the posters, flyers and ads. I find that I’m very quick to complain about the political climate of my state but not so quick to take the time to pray and make a positive impact.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 is titled “Pray for All People” or an “Instruction on Prayer” going on to urge us to present our supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for all people and specifically notes kings and all who are in high positions (ESV). The Passion Translation version urges us to pray for every political leader and representative explaining that when we do we can “live tranquil, undisturbed lives, as we worship the awe-inspiring God with pure hearts.” Going on to state that “it is pleasing to our Savior-God to pray for them.”

This has spurred on my passion to pray for my leaders but also the following research has reminded me about the privilege of voting:

According to the AEC Tasmanian women aged over 21 and who were British Subjects were eligible to vote in 1903.

The Conversation article on Women’s Votes let me know that Saudi Arabia granted women the ability to vote in 2015. It also advised me that although Pakistani women were given the ability to vote in 1956 the turn out is as little as 3% of voters due to community and religious leaders discouraging women from voting.

Grazia declares that in 2015 50 women in Zanzibar were told by their husband to not vote and because they voted they were divorced by their husbands. Also that women in Papa New Guinea are discouraged from voting; only 7 women have been elected since 1975; and the “lack of female representation only deepens the problems of violence against women and poor employment opportunities, further perpetuating the cycle of political inactivity.”

Martha Knight comments on quora.com that she is unable to vote “because I am legally blind, a non-driver, and not close to a place where I can get an acceptable voter ID with my photo, and my state legislature passed a voter ID law.”

ABC News states that it wasn’t until 1962 that Indigenous people had the ability to vote in federal elections.

Global Citizen observes that in Russia voters are so disheartened with the electoral process that only 47.8% of the population voted.

I’m know that there is so much more that I could research but the main point is that people have fought hard to give everyone the right and ability to vote. I am so blessed to live in country where I can vote without the worry of my husband telling me not to; I am so blessed to have church and community leaders who encourage everyone to vote; I am blessed to have the choice, freedom and ability to vote.

Local elections are taking place right now and I urge you to take the time to research and make an informed choice.

Many blessings, Keona

Picture from Pixabay

 

My Father’s Eyes

During High School I faced a really tough couple of years where I was constantly bullied. I would come home from school every day in tears with my heart in absolute turmoil. I had been given one of Amy Grant’s cd’s and I would shut myself in my room to sing and cry. As I reflect upon that time I’m truly amazed at how God used Amy’s songs to sustain me. In particular one of the songs I loved was “Father’s Eyes” where Amy sings:

“I pray:
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say:

‘She’s got her Father’s eyes, her Father’s eyes;
eyes that find the good in things, when good is not around;
eyes that find the source of help, when help just can’t be found;
eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain;
knowing what you’re going through and feeling it the same.’
Just like my Father’s eyes…”

That song became my prayer. I desperately wanted God to help me to see the good in people, to look past the hurtful words they hurled at me. I desperately longed to be taught how to be kind when all I received was cruelty. A desire was implanted within my heart to be Jesus’ example to others. I wanted to become compassionate, merciful, gracious and kind.

Decades later I was reminded of that prayer when a dear friend said to me: “when I look into your eyes I see Jesus”. I have to tell you that in that moment tears came to my eyes and as I write this I’m crying. My prayer was answered when my dear friend took the time to speak to my heart and confirm a prayer that I had almost forgotten I’d prayed.

Recently I was challenged to think about what I want to be remembered for. As I reflected upon that question I was reminded about my desire and my long ago prayer. It is my desire: “that when you’re called to stand and tell just what you saw in me, more than anything I know, I want your words to be: ‘She had her Father’s eyes’..”.

My prayer:

Lord I want to have eyes that find the good in things, when good is not around. Help me to see Your goodness at work in each and every situation I face because You are good and do good (Psalm 119:68).

 Lord I want to have eyes that find the source of help, when help just can’t be found. Because Almighty God You promise to be my faithful source of help in my times of need; You’re my refuge and strength; and a very present help in moments of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Lord I want to have eyes full of compassion that see every pain, knowing what people are going through and feeling it the same. Jesus I ask for You to impart to me Your compassion for others (Mark 1:41, Mark 6:34).

Holy Spirit I ask for Your great comfort and encouragement so that I can comfort and encourage others with the comfort and encourage that You alone can bestow (2 Corinthians 1:4).

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Note: “Father’s Eyes” was released by Amy in 1979, songwriter: Gary Winthur Chapman.

Many blessings, Keona

‘Father’s Eyes’ – Amy Grant – YouTube lyrics video

Picture cred – Pixabay

What is Prayer?

God has been taking me on an exciting journey of discovering and I’ve been asking: just what is prayer? In my studies I discover the Hebrew word for prayer: tefillah (tey-fill-ah), the definitions given are:

  • to “self evaluate” going on to explain that the Jews would compare their actions, behaviour and attitude against God’s holiness. Dave Adamson
  • the root is: ‘to think, entreat, judge, intercede’, and the reflexive: ‘to judge oneself’, and ‘to pray’.  Encyclopedia.com
  • “a labor of awakening the hidden love within the heart until a state of intimate union with the divine is achieved.” Going on to explain that it’s “communion, a joining together of mind and spirit.” Tzvi Freeman

The self evaluate definition is confirmed in 2 Corinthians 13:5, 9 we’re urged to test and evaluate ourselves, this means to look closely at our faith and the way that we are living our lives. We are to examine ourselves on a regular basis to ensure that we are living as Jesus Christ wants us to. We are to be genuine examples of Christ not counterfeit. But it also assures us that we don’t need to fear, fret or worry if we find ourselves weak because we can ask for God’s power to freely flow through us and make us complete – fully restored and mature in godly character and spirit!

The cry to self-examine is something that can make me feel very uncomfortable and it’s not an easy thing to do. As I’ve been reflecting upon it I’ve been reminded of a story my husband told me. He witnessed a road accident between a car and a motor bike. The motorcyclist tried to get up almost immediately after the accident had sent him crashing to the road and he was trying to walk upon a broken leg in an attempt to get his bike off the road. My husband kept urging the cyclist to sit down as his leg didn’t look too good (it was twisted the wrong way) but the guy kept trying and trying and kept falling down getting more and more frustrated and angry. Eventually the emergency services arrived and the guy was calmed down and taken to hospital. As I pondered on that story I realised that I can be like that motorcyclist, I have a big issue to deal with but I’m too focused on the smaller issue. God patiently and lovingly asks me time after time to sit down and listen, to deal with the bigger issue assuring me that the smaller issue will be dealt with also.

But I’m encouraged by the truth that examination will lead to me prayer and thus transformation!

“Through prayer we move from where we are to where we ought to be ….. because in prayer (the speech of the devoted heart), the soul climbs higher and higher: ascending step by step, from its present level to the very peak of all levels, drawn upwards by its passion for God, until it becomes fully absorbed in the radiance of the Infinite, blessed be He.”J.Immanuel Schochet

As I lay my big and small issue before the One I love He gently and kindly deals with them. As I trust God to be my Jehovah Rapha (the God who heals see Exodus 15:26) I know that daily He can heal, cure, restore and make me whole.

I can declare that my sins have been taken away from me as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103) and can live my life in freedom!

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

With my whole heart, my whole life and with my innermost being I bow in wonder before the One I love. I urge my soul to bless and affectionately praise the Lord. I desire for all that is within me to give praise, glory and honour to my Saviour Jesus. I invite the Holy Spirit to come and do a great work in my life.

I urge my mind to remember ALL of my Lord’s wonderful and life-giving benefits! I call to mind the miracles of kindness that I’ve witnessed in my life: my heart has been kissed and healed with forgiveness, for He has forgiven ALL of my sins and wrong doings. I have received healing from all sickness and diseases. My life has been redeemed from the pit of death and destruction. I’m lavishly crowned with lovingkindness and tender mercy. The Lord satisfies my life with good things and my life is reinvigorated, I feel as if I am an eagle soaring great heights.

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

Abba makes things right because He executes righteousness and grants justice to the defenceless. Just as He did for the children of Israel He makes know His ways to us, revealing what He alone can do.

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

God is so kind and tender-hearted; He is merciful and gracious; slow to anger; abounding in compassion and lovingkindness. He is always patient with people who fail Him because His love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness.

The Lord has not dealt with us according to our sins and we are not punished according to our wickedness. The Almighty is not holding a grudge against us or disciplining us because of our sins.

NO! Rather as high as the heavens are above the earth is how far our wickedness has been removed from us! As far as the east is from the west is how far our sins have been removed from us!

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

Our Heavenly Father is a loving father who has tender and compassionate feelings towards us. How He smiles when we come into His presence with awe-filled respect and deep reverence.

Our Lord knows all about us, inside and out, and is mindful that we’re made from mere dust.

Our days are momentary moments that swiftly fade away, what is left behind for others to remember us by?

In contrast the Lord God Almighty has endless lovingkindness that stretches from everlasting to everlasting; His love is unbroken and unrelenting toward those who fear Him. The Lord’s unfailing faithfulness passes from parents to children, to grandchildren, and beyond. So what legacy can we leave? The love of the Lord which has been imprinted upon our hearts as a rich inheritance for the generations to follow!

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

God’s heavenly throne is established in the heavens, it is eternal, secure, and strong! His sovereignty rules over the entire universe.

Therefore, bless and praise the Lord you messengers of power, you His angels, who do His commandments and obey the voice of His word!

Bless the Lord all you mighty warriors who serve Him, do His will and fulfil His desires.

Let all of God’s works throughout the earth, wherever His dominion stretches, praise the Lord!

As for me, I will bless and affectionately praise the Lord with my whole heart for ALL of my days!

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

(Inspired by Psalm 103 Amplified and The Passion Translation)

‘You Came to My Rescue’ – Christy Nockels – YouTube lyrics video

Image – Pixabay