To Forgive or Not To Forgive?

Biblical forgiveness is one of the principles that is most often incorrectly taught to followers of Jesus Christ.  Some professing “Christians” believe that because they once said a prayer asking Jesus to be their Lord and Savior that all of their past, present and future sins are automatically forgiven by Almighty God.  They do not believe that they will be held accountable for any sins and that there is no need for them to repent.  That line of thinking only leads to rampant sin in the life of a person who is not a genuine Christian. We must understand that God’s forgiveness requires us to sincerely repent by changing our ungodly behavior when we sin.  If we refuse to repent, Jesus Christ is not our Lord.

Forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, means that we are given the opportunity to spend eternity with Almighty God in Heaven.  John 3:16-21 state that Jesus came to provide for our salvation.  The verses also describe the difference between those practicing evil who are condemned and people who are honoring God.  People who willfully continue their evil, sinful behavior, in spite of claiming to be Christians, are not sincerely following Jesus, and they will not go to Heaven.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. 

John 3:16-21 (NKJV)

God’s forgiveness is not unconditional.  God expects us to obey Him.  When we disobey the Lord, we will suffer the consequences.  Deuteronomy 28 clearly describes the blessings that we will receive for obeying God and also some of the results if we choose to disobey Him.  In Genesis 19:15-26, Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed the Lord and looked back after being told not to do so.  The cost of her disobedience was immediate death.

My Scriptural understanding of our responsibility to forgive others has changed greatly during the past several decades.  I was taught repeatedly, and as a result I once believed, that we are supposed to forgive everyone regardless of what they did, whether they were a genuine follower of Jesus Christ or not, and whether or not they were sorry and repentant.  I no longer believe that based on several Scriptures, many of which are Jesus’ own words.  According to Luke 17:3, Jesus stated that repentance is a condition required for us to forgive a brother—a fellow Christian.

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

Luke 17:3 (NKJV)

True Christians will obey the Lord and if they occasionally sin, they will repent and change their behavior.  They will express genuine remorse.  However, there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing who are pretending to be followers of Jesus Christ, but do not obey Him and do not repent for their sins.  We can know the difference based on a person’s actions and sincere sorrow.  John 3:36 clearly warns us that the wrath of God remains on those who do not obey the Lord.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. 

John 3:36 (ESV)

Sincere followers of Jesus Christ should always be willing to forgive others when it is appropriate to do so.  Our Most High God does not forgive everyone, but He is ready and willing to forgive us when we are truly sorry for our sins and change our behavior—repent—to live according to His Word.  God’s forgiveness can only be received through the birth, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. People who refuse to genuinely accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, and obey God’s commandments and directions, will not spend eternity with Him in Heaven.  

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Psalm 86:5 (NKJV)

However, the Lord Jesus said, in Matthew 12:31-32, that there is a sin that God will not forgive.  Blasphemy—the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence—against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven by God.  These words from Jesus show that our Most High God considers that to be unforgivable!

“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” 

Matthew 12:31-32 (NKJV)

In Acts 5:1-11, Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive the Holy Spirit and lied to Peter about the amount of money they had received when they sold a possession.  They kept back a portion of the proceeds from the sale.  That was not the problem.  Their sin was that they lied about it.  They were both guilty of deception and lying.  Ananias and Sapphira were given the opportunity to repent and tell the truth, but they did not do so.  They died as a result.  That may seem like a harsh consequence for lying, but it is one example of believers receiving God’s judgment for not repenting for their sin. 

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Acts 5:3-4 (NKJV)

Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.”

Acts 5:7-8 (NKJV)

In addition, when we have sinned and have not asked God to forgive us, and have not repented for our sins, it always blocks our relationships with Him.  He will not hear our prayers if we have known sins on our accounts.  

But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.   

Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV)

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

God does expect us to forgive as we have been forgiven in Christ.  After we make a sincere profession of faith in Jesus, ask God for forgiveness for our sins, and repent, God forgives us.  The condition of repentance is often ignored by those who want us to forgive them, but do not want to change their behavior.  At times, people may forgive someone who is not repentant because they do not want to lose that relationship.  However, that is a very selfish reason to forgive and it allows the offender to continue the ungodly behavior without consequences. That is not in agreement with God’s character and Word.  In this life or after they die, our Most High God always carries out His judgment against those who do not repent.

This is a powerful quote from John Hagee: “Granting forgiveness without demanding a change in conduct (behavior) makes the grace of God an accomplice to evil.”  Just think about that statement.  Ungodly behavior is sin and evil.  If we grant forgiveness without requiring the person to repent and change their behavior, we are making the grace of God a partner with that evil.  Godly sorrow and repentance are not optional in order to receive God’s forgiveness, and it should be a requirement for us to forgive others. 

Why would we think that we should forgive unrepentant rapists, pedophiles, murderers, and other evil people, including pseudo “Christians,” when Almighty God does not forgive such people?  Those who tell abuse victims/survivors to forgive an unrepentant, evil perpetrator are asking them to do something that our Most High God does not do!  One woman to whom I ministered told me that she would never forgive the person who murdered her daughter.  Not only was the killer unrepentant, but he denied that he had committed the crime even though all the evidence proved he had done it.  Based on God’s Word about forgiveness, I do not believe that the Lord expected that heartbroken lady to forgive the unrepentant murderer of her precious daughter.

Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 

Acts 8:22 (NKJV)

 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.    

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)

Without faith in the One True God and His Son, Jesus Christ, a person cannot truly forgive.  The love of God makes it possible for us to genuinely forgive when it is appropriate.  A desire to obey and please the Lord is absent without that faith.  A remorseless wrongdoer cannot benefit from God’s forgiveness.  The fact that God forgives us based on our acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice and our repentance is the only reason that we have hope and the assurance that we will spend eternity with the Lord in Heaven.  Obeying God and forgiving—when it is appropriate—helps to keep our relationships with the Lord strong.

Also, we cannot base whether or not we have truly forgiven someone on our feelings.  We may still feel emotional pain when we think about the person or situation.  Many years ago, the life and career of a man I knew was seriously damaged and almost destroyed as a result of the wicked actions and lies of several people.  He was carrying an indescribable amount of pain and trauma.  Hoping to reduce his suffering, that Christian man eventually made the conscious decision to forgive the people involved, but he still felt lots of bitterness and anger regarding the injustice that had been done to him.  The bitterness and anger were attached to the emotional pain and trauma that he had suffered, which had not been released or healed.  If we forgive someone who is truly sorry and repentant, we may not always feel like we have done so until Jesus releases the pain and trauma and heals our broken hearts.

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

Luke 4:18 (NKJV)

Our Most High God gives everyone the opportunity to receive forgiveness for sins, true freedom, and healing through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Whether or not we are forgiven by God depends on our sincere acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Our obedience to God and His Word, and our repentance when we sin, prove that our relationships with Him and Jesus are genuine.  Almighty God will never force anyone to repent, but thank God that He gives us the opportunity to do so! Otherwise, we would all be doomed to an eternity in Hell.

               Kathy Shelton

Three Devotionals about Samson

The following 3 devotionals are about Samson and Delilah, and they are taken from my book, Devotionals for the Brokenhearted, which was published on Amazon.com on April 6, 2022. The link to the Amazon.com page for the book is here:

DEVOTIONALS FOR THE BROKENHEARTED

There are 2 additional devotionals about Samson based on Judges 16:20 and Judges 16:28 in the book. They are also available online on the Healing the Brokenhearted Devotionals website here:

https://healingthebrokenhearteddevotionals.wordpress.com/.

JUDGES 16:5

And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”

Judges 16:5 (NKJV)

Suggested reading: Judges 16:1-6

Delilah was instructed to entice Samson in order to discover the source of his great strength. Samson’s enemies wanted to bind him to afflict him. Synonyms for afflict are trouble, bother, worry, upset, distress and make miserable. They had nothing but evil plans for Samson. They wanted to cause him severe physical and mental distress by discovering the secret to his strength and taking it away from him!

The devil is the enemy of followers of the Most High God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Satan wants to take away strength from Jesus’ followers and cause us physical and mental distress in the process. He wants to afflict us! When emotional, physical and/or spiritual pain and trauma come our way, we must hold on tightly to our faith, the source of our strength. If our hearts are broken as the result of that pain and trauma, we need to run to the One True God—never run away from Him. He is our strength, and the devil knows that. We must never allow the devil or his army of evil beings to overpower us!

A broken heart can cause us to feel very weak and vulnerable, but Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. Sincerely accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and following His example for the rest of our lives will give us the strength we need to resist temptations from the kingdom of darkness. Pursuing Biblical healing for our broken hearts is one way to fight the spiritual warfare that every believer encounters.

JUDGES 16:15

Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.”

Judges 16:15 (NKJV)

Suggested reading: Judges 16:13-15

This is a deep and serious question. “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me?” Delilah was asking Samson this, because he had not been honest with her and told her the source of his great strength. When we say, “I love you,” to another person, or to the Lord, it must be backed up by our actions, or they are just empty words.


Many of us have had our hearts broken as a result of liars in our lives who told us they loved us, but did not treat us like that was true. Evil people use the words I love you to manipulate and deceive their targets in order to fulfill their own desires. They are indifferent to the destruction they leave behind. The emotional pain and trauma that is caused by insincere words, lies and broken promises can be devastating and stay within our hearts and spirits for many years. The good news is that Jesus Christ came to heal the brokenhearted. He can release the pain and heal us like no one else in existence.


We must also be very careful—when we tell the Most High God that we love Him—that those are not empty words. He knows the difference! Saying that we love God and Jesus must be proven by the way that we live our lives. Practicing known sin and refusing to stop is rebellion to God and evidence that a person does not love the Lord. We should follow God’s Word and obey His commandments on a daily basis. Our sincere love for and obedience to the Lord is essential in the healing of our broken hearts!

JUDGES 16:17

…he told her all his heart, and said to her, “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

Judges 16:17 (NKJV)

Suggested reading: Judges 16:16-18

Samson finally told Delilah the truth about the source of his great strength. He was a Nazirite and his unshaven hair was the outer representation of his consecration and devotion to God. That was the source of his strength and he knew he would be weak, like any other man, without it.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must understand how important it is for us to consecrate ourselves to Almighty God! We pray and ask Him for many things, but are we truly dedicated and devoted to the One True God? Just as Samson’s strength came from his consecration to the Lord, our sincere dedication to our Most High God and His Son, Jesus Christ, gives us strength. That strength enables us to endure, and have victory over, the painful and traumatic events in our lives.

When our hearts are broken, we can feel very weak and almost unable to function, or go on. Those are the times when we must cling to the Lord and dedicate ourselves to Him moment by moment. The strength we need in our everyday lives, and especially in times of trials, is only possible if we have genuine, personal relationships with Jesus Christ. That relationship will get us through anything! However, that does not mean it will be easy. Some days will be more difficult than others, but knowing that Jesus is with us will strengthen our hearts, minds and spirits.

Kathy Shelton

The Pain

Emotional pain.
Physical pain.
Mental pain.
Spiritual pain.

The pain is so real. The pain is so intense. The emotional, physical, mental and spiritual pain from traumatic events can cause people to do many things to try to escape, numb, or cope with the pain they are feeling. A person may turn to drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, cutting, denial, anger, and other self-destructive behaviors. Numbing the pain with drugs, alcohol or other ungodly coping mechanisms to try to alleviate the pain can lead to addiction. However, the Lord is the only One who can bring true, lasting freedom and healing from the pain.

He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3 (NKJV)

Traumatic events include betrayal, emotional abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, spiritual abuse, sexual abuse, ritual abuse, rape, the death of a loved one, domestic violence, divorce, accidents and natural disasters. The levels of emotional pain that we can experience from trauma vary greatly. As traumatic situations become more severe, and if they are ongoing, the emotional pain can, and often does, cause physical illness.

Secondary trauma is trauma that we heard about or saw that happened to someone else, but did not directly involve us. Secondary trauma can have a significant impact on our hearts and spirits even though we did not experience the traumatic event first-hand. Ministers, counselors, mental health professionals, police officers, firefighters, and people in many other professions that deal with the public can carry extreme, and sometimes disabling, amounts of primary and secondary pain and trauma.

Trauma is energy. It comes at us like a blow to a bone. That bone can receive a hair-line fracture, a splintering, a complete break or several breaks depending on the force behind the blow. Emotional and spiritual trauma have similar effects on our hearts, minds and spirits. The effects from traumatic events that do not receive healing will steadily distract our focus and drain our energy away from reaching our God-given destinies.  The pain from trauma will fester and eventually erupt like a volcano if it is not released and the damage is not healed.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious result of extreme traumatic events. It is not just limited to veterans of war, although there are a high percentage of veterans suffering with horrific PTSD symptoms. Many more people are living with the debilitating symptoms of PTSD than anyone realizes. PTSD is a real illness. It can develop after living through or seeing a life-threatening, traumatic event. PTSD makes a person feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over. PTSD can cause problems like flashbacks, or feeling like the event is happening again, trouble sleeping or night terrors, feeling alone, and panic attacks. PTSD starts at different times for different people. Signs of PTSD may start soon after a terrifying event and then continue. Other people develop new or more severe signs months or even years later.  PTSD can lead to all of the ungodly coping behaviors mentioned above and that last, most self-destructive action of suicide.

Current traumatic situations can, and often do, bring the emotional pain of similar past traumatic experiences to the surface. We were meant to love God with whole, not broken, hearts. We cannot do that when the pain and trauma are constantly bombarding our hearts and spirits.

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Matthew 22:37 (NKJV)

The pain can also cause us to wear an emotional “mask” around others. We don’t want others to see how deeply we are hurting. Many people just don’t know how to cope. They may try to get help, but it may be unsuccessful, or even cause more damage. So, they may eventually turn to wearing a “mask,” not letting anyone know how severely brokenhearted they are—not letting anyone know the level of pain that they are carrying. However, the more they wear that “mask,” the more the “mask” becomes part of who they are! The following poem by Helen Joseph, The Mask, addresses this very well.

Always a mask

Held in the slim hand,

Whitely,

Always she had a mask

Before her face–

Smiling and sprightly,

The Mask.

 

Truly the wrist

Holding it lightly

Fitted the task:

Sometimes however

Was there a shiver,

Fingertip quiver,

Ever so slightly–

Holding the mask?

 

For years and years and

Years I wondered

But dared not ask.

 

And then–

I blundered,

I looked behind,

Behind the mask

To find

Nothing–She had no face.

  

She had become

Merely a hand

Holding a mask

With grace.

I have quoted the above poem during Healing the Brokenhearted Ministry seminars and workshops for many years. There has always been a very strong reaction to the poem from those in attendance. Many people can relate to wearing am emotional mask/false face. It is not socially acceptable to wear our pain on our sleeves—to let it be known to others. Unfortunately—very unfortunately—in Christian churches, there is an enormous amount of emotional and spiritual pain being carried by believers, and they are afraid to be real with anyone. They have been hurt too much. They may have been spiritually abused and deeply wounded by professing Christians. They don’t want to take a chance that it will happen again and understandably so.

When we go to a church service and look around, we will normally see rows and rows of people wearing their emotional masks. If we ask them how they are doing, they will answer, “I’m doing fine. I’m doing good. I am blessed.” Yes, Christians are blessed because Jesus came, died, and rose again so that we can spend eternity with Him and the Father in Heaven. However, life on this earth is difficult to say the least. It is not a bed of roses even for, and sometimes especially for, Christians. We have all experienced emotional pain and trauma.

The answer, however, is not to walk around wearing a mask! The answer is not to worry about what others will think. Our Most High God is the only One we need to please. Wearing “masks” does not please Him. If we please Him, then we will be pleasing those people He wants us to please. We cannot do that while wearing an emotional mask!

Instead of continuing to wear an emotional mask/false face that will draw us deeper and deeper into isolation from our Most High God and other people, we need to find someone with whom we can share our deepest pain. We need to allow that emotional mask to come off. We need to be careful, because as many of us have discovered, not everyone is safe. However, we can ask a trustworthy, Christian friend or family member if they know a safe believer who can help us receive freedom in Biblical ways. We must reach out and not isolate ourselves in order to receive the inner healing we need.

The LORD is near to the heartbroken
And He saves those who are crushed in spirit (contrite in heart, truly sorry for their sin).

Psalm 34:18 (AMP)

Healing for our pain requires that we take the first step and sincerely ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. We must obey God’s Word and repent for our sins. Jesus’ sacrifice was a huge price paid for our freedom and healing, and we need to honor it by being honest with our Most High God and genuine in our confession of faith.

Jesus Christ can release and heal our pain and trauma! 

Jesus said:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;”

Luke 4:18 (NKJV)

JESUS is always safe! We need to talk to Him. We must pray and listen for His response. He will lead us and guide us on the healing path that we need to follow for the specific pain and trauma that we have experienced.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)

May the Lord Jesus bless you as you seek His healing and freedom from pain and trauma. I pray that your heart will be open to receiving that healing and freedom and that nothing will stop you from pursuing it. I bless you as you determine to stop wearing an emotional mask long enough to get the help you need so that one day you will not have to wear that “mask” ever again. May Jesus Christ strengthen your heart and give you courage. May you see the goodness of the Lord as you remove your mask!
Kathy Shelton

Children of God

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

1 John 3:1 (NKJV)

Genuine followers of Jesus Christ are children of God. What an amazing truth to meditate on and embrace with our hearts, minds and spirits. Sincere Christians are sons and daughters of the Most High God! They have an inheritance as such that is out of this world. Our Most High God has promised His children a glorious eternity with Him that we can only imagine if we have genuinely accepted His Son as our personal Lord and Savior. That is His incredible love for His children!

However, when our hearts are broken as a result of any type of abuse, the death of a loved one, divorce, domestic violence, rape, accidents, natural disasters, or any other form of trauma, we may begin to believe that our future will be determined by those extremely painful and traumatic experiences. We may feel like it is who we are, and our outlook can be skewed, because we have accepted the negative labels—word curses—that accompanied the trauma.  Those labels may include victim, abandoned, rejected, or unloved. They can help keep us in bondage and prevent us from receiving freedom from the emotional and spiritual pain.

The trauma is not who we are—it is what happened to us! If Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, we are sons and daughters of the Most High God. That is our true identity. We are loved by the Creator of the Universe, the Great Physician, the Lord of Hosts. We are precious in His sight and He wants to heal our broken hearts. We must embrace that truth. God loves His children with an incomparable, everlasting love!

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”

Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV)

The following is a short list of who we are according to the Word of God, the Bible, if we have sincerely accepted God’s Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior.  The associated Scriptures are in parentheses below each statement.

We are children of God.

(Romans 8:16)

Our sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus. 

(Colossians 1:13-14)

We have been saved by grace through faith.

(Ephesians 2:8)

We are new creations in Christ Jesus.

(2 Corinthians 5:17)

We are partakers of His Divine Nature.

(2 Peter 1:4)

We are delivered from the powers of darkness through the blood of Jesus Christ.

(Colossians 1:13)

God’s children are led by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit.

(Romans 8:14)

We are getting all our needs met by God through Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 4:19)

We humble ourselves and we cast all our cares on God.

(1 Peter 5:6-7)

We are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

(Ephesians 6:10)

We can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.

(Philippians 4:13)

We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ if indeed we suffer with Him.

(Romans 8:17)

We can receive the blessing of Abraham, the promise of the Spirit through faith.

(Galatians 3:13-14)

We have been given eternal life in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

(1 John 5:11-12)

In Christ, we are blessed with every spiritual blessing.

(Ephesians 1:3)

We are healed by Jesus’ stripes.

(1 Peter 2:24)

We are more than conquerors through God and Jesus Christ Who love us.

(Romans 8:37)

We are overcomers by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and the word of our testimonies.

(Revelation 12:11)

We can have victory over evil spirits. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

(1 John 4:4)

      We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.

(2 Corinthians 4:18)

We walk by faith and not by sight.

(2 Corinthians 5:7)

We are being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

(Romans 12:1-2)

We are God’s fellow workers.

(1 Corinthians 3:9)

We are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 5:21)

We are to be imitators of God as dear children.

(Ephesians 5:1)

We are to be the light of the world.

(Matthew 5:14)

The above declarations clearly describe who we are as children of the Most High God! We must never let the devil convince us otherwise. The negative labels that people and the kingdom of darkness have inflicted on our hearts, minds and spirits are lies. God’s Word shines the truth of who we are and what we are called to live as God’s children and genuine followers of Jesus Christ.

We love Him because He first loved us.

1 John 4:19 (NKJV) 

Not only do our heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit love us, but we love them in return. They show us their love for us in countless ways. We show our love for them by trusting God and obeying Him and His Word, because He first loved us.

Kathy Shelton

Laughter and Healing from Traumatic Events

 

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

 Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

Many people lose heart because they do not believe that they will ever see their situations improve. The emotional and spiritual pain they carry from traumatic events can become unbearable. The enemy can bring discouragement through numerous methods. One of those is when he whispers the lie, “God does not care about you. He would not have allowed this terrible thing to happen if He did.” If we listen to the devil and his lies, our faith will be weakened, our hearts can become more troubled, and deep depression can set in.

Traumatic events always cause a broken heart and spirit. Trauma includes betrayal, emotional abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, spiritual abuse, sexual abuse, ritual abuse, rape, the death of a loved one, divorce, domestic violence, accidents and natural disasters. The levels of emotional pain that we can experience from trauma vary greatly. When traumatic situations are more severe, and if they are ongoing, the emotional pain can, and often does, lead to physical illness.

Secondary trauma is trauma that we heard about or saw that happened to someone else, but did not directly involve us. Secondary trauma can have a significant impact on our hearts and spirits even though we did not experience the traumatic event first-hand. Ministers, counselors, doctors, nurses, mental health workers, police officers, firefighters, and people in many other professions that deal with the public can carry extreme, and sometimes debilitating, amounts of emotional pain from secondary trauma.

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Proverbs 15:13 (NKJV)

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)

These verses make it very clear that a merry heart is good for our physical well-being. However, when we go through emotionally painful and traumatic experiences, it is difficult to have a merry heart. That, in turn, can seriously affect our physical and spiritual health!

If our hearts have been broken, a merry heart is sometimes very difficult to even imagine. However, our broken hearts and spirits can, and often will, result in physical sickness if the emotional and spiritual pain are allowed to continue without relief. That is what is meant by “a broken spirit dries the bones.” Dry bones are not healthy bones.

Not only is our spirit broken by sorrow of the heart, but our physical health is negatively affected as well. If we do not acknowledge the emotional pain and trauma we are carrying and seek help through godly, Bible-based prayer and ministry, the results can be devastating. When we least expect it, the suppressed emotional pain can be triggered by other similar situations, contributing to undesirable and ungodly behavior. This cycle will repeat until a person deals with the inner pain.

Proverbs 17:22 says that a merry heart is good medicine! One way to help the healing of our broken hearts and spirits is to laugh. There is absolutely nothing funny, nor laughable, about suffering emotional and spiritual pain due to a traumatic situation. However, laughing in the face of pain and trauma as we are able to do so is very important. It will help heal our hearts and spirits. If we cannot think of anything to laugh about, watching a funny movie is helpful. Reading a humorous book can also be healing.

Medical and scientific research has found that laughter reduces stress hormones and boosts the immune system. It also lowers blood pressure and reduces physical pain. Once again, the secular world is proving that what the Lord told us in His Word is absolutely true.

Laughter and a merry heart are part of the physical and inner healing process for past and present emotional pain and trauma. They are also excellent maintenance for our bodies and spirits. Genuine followers of Jesus Christ must be intentional and very selective regarding what they read, listen to, and watch in order to maintain a merry heart and peaceful spirit. They must let laughter be a regular part of their daily spiritual exercise.

We cannot allow our circumstances and the people responsible for breaking our hearts to determine our emotional, spiritual and physical health, or lack thereof, by staying in depressed and hopeless states. What Jesus Christ did on the cross for us is more than enough to give us hope and cheer us up. If Jesus Christ is truly someone’s personal Lord and Savior, they have the assurance from our Most High God that they will be rejoicing in heaven with Him and Jesus in the future. So, they must let their hearts be merry about that awesome promise!

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)

It requires an inner joy of the Lord to laugh when one’s heart and spirit are broken! If the enemy, Satan, can steal our joy, he has won half the battle. The devil loves to lead a Christian into a state of anxiety, fear, or worry. That is one of the ways he can get their focus off the joy of the Lord. If a person’s heart is broken, they are more likely to succumb to Satan’s tactics. One reason it is so important for us to cling to the joy of the Lord in spite of our circumstances is that it gives us strength against the enemy. It also makes it much easier to have a merry heart.

Laughter and having a merry heart are very important parts of the healing process for our broken hearts and crushed spirits.  Laughing has many beneficial effects on us emotionally, spiritually and physically.  It is one of the remedies that the Lord created through which we can receive some healing when we are brokenhearted.  However, we must deliberately participate in that blessing to receive the healing it provides. Having and sharing a godly sense of humor with others is also extremely healing and essential in the inner healing process. Choosing to laugh and rejoice about something on a daily basis is choosing to have a merry heart!

Kathy Shelton

Inner Healing — Healing from the Inside Out

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord,
Searching all the inner depths of his heart.

Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV)

Inner healing is the healing of a person’s emotional and spiritual wounds. Many of them are wounds that were initially experienced in early childhood. Our spirits register everything about us from the moment of conception on. 

There is a great need for inner healing in this world! So many people are miserable because they cannot bear the emotional and spiritual pain from trauma that they are carrying. That pain can result in addiction, abuse, divorce, domestic violence, murder, abandonment, physical illness, suicide, and many other epidemics in our society. Inner healing from emotional and spiritual pain that we have suffered is not optional if we desire to fulfill the Lord’s destiny for us.

A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)

The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,
But who can bear a broken spirit?

Proverbs 18:14 (NKJV)

Trauma can be experienced in many forms including molestation, rape, domestic violence, death of a loved one, divorce, accidents, and natural disasters. Abuse, including mental, verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse, produces traumatic effects on our hearts and spirits. Traumatic situations always leave our hearts and spirits broken. Without inner healing for emotional and spiritual pain, we can become bitter, resentful, excessively angry, full of hatred, and physically ill.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45 (NKJV)

The good treasure in our hearts does produce good in our lives, but it does not prevent evil treasure from producing pain and suffering for our family and friends. Those closest to us—the ones we love and who love us—end up being easy targets when our own pain and trauma are triggered. This dynamic alone causes more relationship issues, broken homes, and divorces than most people realize.

Some of the evil treasure of our hearts may be formed as the result of painful and traumatic circumstances. We often suppress the emotional and spiritual pain without even trying as a defense mechanism that we develop to continue to function from day to day. Suppressed emotional and spiritual pain doesn’t just disappear. It can turn into lingering physical pain! In addition, the pain will not stay hidden forever, and it will eventually erupt like a volcano. That is when the abundance of the heart pours out of our mouths, or through our ungodly actions. Denying that emotional and spiritual pain exist within our hearts and spirits will never stop that from happening, and it will never cause the inner healing that we need to be accomplished.

Reproach and insults have broken my heart and I am so sick.
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
And for comforters, but I found none.

Psalm 69:20 (AMP)

Many people have hurt us because they were carrying emotional and spiritual pain and trauma for which they never received healing. It is often said that hurt people, hurt people. That is true, but no excuse for us to continue to hurt others because we have not pursued inner healing for ourselves.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10 (NKJV)

A clean heart represents a heart that has received healing for the things it contains that are not godly and glorifying to God. Our spirits cannot be steadfast as long as we are suffering the effects of pain and trauma. Once a person has sincerely asked Jesus Christ to be their personal Lord and Savior, they must ask God to show them what is in their hearts and spirits that needs to be released so they can truly obey Him in every area of their lives. We need to be living from the heart that Jesus gave us. Unfortunately, most of us are living from a heart that is broken. None of us will ever have a totally clean heart until we pass from this life into eternity in Heaven, but pursuing the cleanest heart possible should be a Christian’s goal in their inner healing journey.

According to Isaiah 53:4 (NKJV), Jesus has borne our griefsand carried our sorrows. Griefs and sorrows include our spiritual and physical sicknesses. Borne and carried mean to take upon oneself, or to carry as a burden.

Bible-based inner healing that relies on the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is the most effective and long-lasting healing. We do not have to live our lives in a prison of pain and trauma that we carry in our hearts and spirits! Isaiah 61:1 (NKJV) says that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted—not Buddha, Allah, Mohammed, or any pagan god. Jesus Christ, the Son of Almighty God, came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free (Luke 4:16-21, NKJV). True freedom is possible if it is pursued in a godly way.

Asking for help to receive inner healing takes courage and a willingness to admit that there is emotional and spiritual pain and trauma that are contributing to a lack of peace. Talking to a Christian counselor or prayer minister about your need for inner healing may seem frightening, but it will be the most important step you can take to help yourself and those you love. The Lord has provided many Christian ministries that help with inner healing. However, they will not search you out. You must do some research and find the best one for the specific pain and trauma that you have experienced. Our website includes a HELPFUL RESOURCES page on the top menu which lists suggestions for ministries that you may want to contact for help (CLICK HERE).

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18 (NASB)

Inner healing for emotional and spiritual pain is a process like peeling an onion. It is ongoing. Inner healing is not about trying to be healed and whole all at once. Each person needs to allow themselves the time necessary and receive the Lord’s grace to continue one day at a time. Each step taken in the inner healing process will increase one’s love for and closeness to Almighty God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Kathy Shelton

What did you just say?

Our words carry so much weight, especially in the spiritual realm. The Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. As always, the Bible is absolutely true.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.

Proverbs 18:21 (AMP) (portion underlined for emphasis)

We need to be very careful about the words that we allow to come out of our mouths. Word curses are real and they have significant power. People who are serving the kingdom of darkness know this very well. They speak word curses, curses, spells, and incantations, and they see the results of the words that come out of their mouths.

Genuine Christians are not exempt from speaking word curses. They do it all the time. I know numerous followers of Jesus Christ who have unintentionally spoken word curses over themselves or others. Destructive and unwanted situations can come upon us based on things that we have said about ourselves. We are responsible and accountable to the Most High God for what we do and every word we speak.

There is a difference between speaking a word curse and speaking the truth—saying something that is factual. An example of a factual statement would be saying, “My father just died.” That is not a word curse. That is a fact. “I just filed for bankruptcy,” is also not a word curse. That is a fact. However, if someone says, “I am telling you right now, you are going to file for bankruptcy within the next five years,” that is a word curse. They are ignoring the power of God in someone’s life when they say those words. People have told others, “You are going to end up _________!” (Fill in the blank with any negative circumstance.) That is another example of a word curse. That does not take the Lord’s power into account and acknowledge that all things are possible with God. We must be very careful what we allow to come out of our mouths!

Many of the women and men to whom I have ministered in personal inner healing sessions, or in group workshops and seminars, have been told as children that they were not good enough. They were told that they were stupid. They were told that they were ugly, too this, or too that. Those were word curses that affected them throughout their lives in many ways. It is a form of brainwashing that is tremendously hurtful to the person receiving those negative words.

Another example of the power of word curses in someone’s life is when a person is told that they are not smart enough to do whatever they think they would like to do. If they are told that by people who have significant authority and influence in their life, they will often just give up pursuing the dream they once had. Word curses can change the course of a person’s life!

Word curses can also be spoken in anger to us or by us to others. Words said in anger can be very damaging. The effects of those words are long-lasting and hurtful to our hearts and spirits.

One woman was told by several family members that if she divorced her husband, she would go to hell. All the people involved were professing Christians. Yet, they told this woman—who was being abused physically, emotionally, mentally, verbally, and sexually by her husband—that if she divorced her husband, she would go to hell. Their words could have kept her in bondage in that horrific marriage. She had two small children who were also being impacted by the ungodly actions of their father. That woman eventually divorced her husband. I don’t believe for one second that she is on her way to hell because she left her husband and his abuse. That does not line up with what the Bible teaches about God’s love for His children!

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting comfort and encouragement and the good [well-founded] hope [of salvation] by His grace, comfort and encourage and strengthen your hearts [keeping them steadfast and on course] in every good work and word.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (AMP)

Christians need to diligently watch their words! So many people have used Scripture from the Bible, taken out of context, to speak word curses over others. That does not honor our Most High God, our loving heavenly Father. He says that He wants the best for us—that He has a future and a hope for us. He had a future and a hope for that young woman and her two children that did not include continuing to be subjected to that horrible abuse.

For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 (AMP)

Word curses from any source, including curses and all the evil words that people who are serving the devil and the kingdom of darkness speak, can have a huge impact on our lives. However, we can break word curses because of the power of the blood of Jesus Christ! What Jesus Christ did on the cross was more powerful than any word curse, spell, or curse that can possibly be spoken over us by Christians or non-Christians. Jesus’ blood provided the means for us to be set free from those curses. Jesus’ resurrection provided the power to break word curses. We have to believe it is possible and we have to pursue freedom. We also have to be walking with the Lord in a way that is free of known sin in our life. We cannot be straddling the fence. We cannot have one foot in the kingdom of God and one foot in the kingdom of darkness and expect to have the authority we need to break word curses that have been spoken over us.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [of sin], we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].

1 John 1:6-7 (AMP)

We must be fully and totally sold out to the Most High God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Then we can apply the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, over us to cleanse ourselves from those curses. The most important part of that process is that we have fully given our hearts, minds, and spirits to our Most High God. We must have submitted ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ and sincerely asked Him to be our personal Lord and Savior, not just our Savior, but our Lord and Savior. Repentance is crucial. Stopping ungodly habits and known sin is vital for us to be able to break word curses in Jesus’ name.

So produce fruit that is consistent with repentance [demonstrating new behavior that proves a change of heart, and a conscious decision to turn away from sin];

Matthew 3:8 (AMP)

Following the Lord’s guidance and obeying Him are essential for freedom from oppression caused by word curses. We cannot expect to have victory over the word curses that have been spoken to us, by us, or over us if we are not walking with the Lord to the best of our ability. It is not a game. Satan is very serious about wanting to destroy as many people as he can on this planet. He is doing a really good job. The devil is very disappointed when people become Christians. However, the devil doesn’t stop trying to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10) when someone makes the profession, “I am a Christian. Jesus is my Lord and Savior.” Satan does not end his attacks on us until the day we die. We have to stop giving him the pathway to attack us by using our own words, or by using words spoken over us by others. We have to break those word curses in Jesus’ name once we have genuinely surrendered our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you need help to receive freedom from word curses you have spoken or from word curses spoken by others, there is help available. Check out our HELPFUL RESOURCES page.

Word curses can play a part in causing our hearts to be broken. God does not want us to continue living with broken hearts! He wants the work that His Son did on the cross when Jesus said, “It is finished,” to be the source of victory in our lives. Take steps toward your victory by pursuing the freedom that you need from word curses. Begin the habit of speaking words of blessing over yourself and others. Be blessed today as you submit your life to Jesus Christ—the One who loves you more than you can imagine.

Kathy Shelton

The Importance of Godly Relationships

The Importance of Supportive, Godly Relationships While Going Through and Healing from Trauma

Supportive, godly relationships are critical as we go through and heal from traumatic situations. Traumatic situations include the death of loved ones, serious illnesses, physical abuse, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, rape, domestic violence, being the victim of a crime, divorce, accidents, devastating financial conditions and natural disasters. Those extremely painful circumstances can leave us feeling alone, abandoned, rejected, depressed, hopeless, betrayed and even suicidal at times. Negative and harmful emotional responses are often initiated or exacerbated by the lies of the devil. He always tries to discourage God’s children and lead them into a pit of despair when they are weakened by traumatic situations.

We live in a world full of pain and trauma and there is no way to avoid it. However, our Most High God provided ways for us to not just survive, but to more easily go through and heal from the effects of trauma. We must be diligent in staying connected to God and genuine Christians in order to avoid the traps of the devil that occur if we isolate ourselves due to one-time or ongoing traumatic events.

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;

Deuteronomy 33:27 (NKJV)

 

A father of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.

Psalm 68:5 (AMP)

The most important relationships that our Father God wants us to turn to when we experience and need healing from traumatic events are our relationships with Him, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Our Most High God wants to comfort us and lead us on the paths that will help us. He wants to heal our broken hearts and spirits that have been devastated by traumatic situations. However, we must sincerely accept God’s love and His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior, to be able to receive His incomparable comfort and healing. 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus also said,

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 

Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

Therefore, the first relationships that we should always rely on for comfort and healing are those with Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They are the most important relationships we can ever experience on this journey that we call life. Supportive, godly relationships with other people are also essential for us to continue to be comforted during, and heal after, emotionally traumatic situations. The Lord knows our need for godly counsel, prayer and support, especially when we are weary and vulnerable to the lies of the enemy.

We all need a listening ear and a kind word from a godly person to lift our spirits when we are drained as the result of emotional and spiritual pain. He will surround us with people who love us and care deeply about our pain, but they may be people other than family members. The family was created to provide that kind of comfort and support. However, we do not live in a perfect world and our own family members may be the cause of some of the emotional pain and trauma that we suffer. Feelings of rejection, betrayal and abandonment can become intensely painful when trauma is caused by our loved ones. Loneliness and a feeling of isolation are lessened when we reach out to genuine Christians.

God makes a home for the lonely;
He leads the prisoners into prosperity,
Only the stubborn and rebellious dwell in a parched land.

Psalm 68:6 (AMP)

Traumatic circumstances always break our hearts. People often carry emotional pain for years and decades without even realizing that suppressed pain and trauma are affecting them in significant areas of their lives. We were never meant to go through pain and trauma alone. Isolating ourselves during those circumstances is the worst thing we can do and only adds to the pain. That is why we must receive love and kindness from people who are living according to God’s Word—whom we can trust with our broken hearts—not in place of the Lord, but in addition to Him. 

We must reach out to godly friends, family, healing ministers and others who can provide prayer, encouragement and the love that we need for the healing process to be accomplished. Our Most High God created us to be in close relationship with Him and godly people. Cutting ourselves off from those relationships makes us incredibly susceptible to destructive feelings and to attacks from the devil. Fear of being hurt again can also cause us to be hesitant to reach out to people for help. However, The Lord will show us who can be trusted and through whom He wants us to receive His comfort and healing. We must receive God’s provision of healing for our broken hearts through His Son, Jesus, and the godly relationships with which He blesses us.

Jesus said,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

Luke 4:18 (NKJV)

Jesus came to not only save us from our sins, but also to heal our broken hearts! A genuine, personal relationship with Him is essential in receiving comfort and healing during and after times of emotional pain and trauma. Our heavenly Father also blesses us with His love and peace through supportive, godly relationships with people who know how to listen and be compassionate when we are in emotional pain. Keeping emotional pain stuffed inside only makes things worse. We must let go of our pride, reach out to the Lord Jesus and His sincere followers, and allow them to help us.  

 

Kathy Shelton

 

 

The Joy of the Lord IS Your Strength!

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)

Joy means happiness, pleasure, bliss, and ecstasy to the world. Since most followers of Jesus Christ have come from a worldly background, it is easy to confuse the joy of the Lord with those emotions. However, the joy that comes from knowing the Lord and following Him is far beyond fleeting feelings of happiness. It is a sense of peace and contentment in knowing that one day we will be in heaven with our Most High God and the Lord Jesus Christ forever.

If the enemy, Satan, can steal our joy, he has won half the battle. The devil loves to lead a Christian into a state of anxiety, fear, or worry. That is one of the ways he can get their focus off the joy of the Lord. If a person’s heart is broken, they are more likely to succumb to Satan’s tactics. One reason it is so important for us to cling to the joy of the Lord in spite of our circumstances is that it gives us strength against the enemy.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)

The joy of the Lord is our strength and remembering Almighty God’s marvelous works will help us to receive His joy and to rejoice in the Lord. Traumatic experiences weaken our hearts and spirits and the only true and lasting remedy is healing through Jesus Christ. The most incredible thing that the One True God has done for all of us is that He sent His Son, Jesus, to this earth in order to offer us the opportunity to be forgiven for our sins and to receive healing for our broken hearts. We must thank God for that and talk about it, because it is very healing to speak of all His wondrous works. It fills us with His joy!

The fact that Jesus was born and died a horrific death is nothing to rejoice about if He had not also risen from the dead. The disciples and His family were overcome with emotional pain before they realized that His promise to be resurrected was to be taken literally. Once they saw that Jesus was alive again, they rejoiced.

Since we have the blessing of knowing that Jesus’ death was not the end of the story, we should enthusiastically REJOICE! The more often we remember and meditate on the fact that Father God gave His Son, Jesus, to die for us and that Jesus rose from the dead, the more we will be able to rejoice. The Father and the Son love us deeply and eternally. No person can come close to that magnitude of love for us. Those amazing blessings should cause sincere Christians to rejoice!

A broken heart is no excuse not to rejoice in the Lord. However, the devil uses emotional and spiritual pain to bring discouragement, depression and despair into our minds, hearts and spirits. That is why we must obey God’s Word faithfully and rejoice in the Lord. As we rejoice in God and all He has done for us, we are filled with His joy. That strengthens and heals us in ways that are unseen, but more real and permanent than the world’s solutions for pain and trauma. The joy of the Lord is our strength and it helps heal our broken hearts and spirits.

Serve the Lord with gladness and delight;
Come before His presence with joyful singing.

Psalm 100:2 (AMP)

Serving the Lord can look very different, depending on a person’s age, culture, environment, maturity level, and the stage or season of their life. Everyone, including mothers, fathers, students, teachers, doctors, nurses, business owners, employees, farmers, shepherds, missionaries, and ministers, can serve the Lord in their daily lives. For example, children can serve the Lord by being respectful and obedient to their parents.

As we do whatever the Lord has given us the opportunity to do in this life, we should do it with gladness and delight. However, a broken heart can dampen our ability to feel glad. Joyful singing may seem impossible at times. We may even become numb to feelings of gladness and joy as a result of the pain and trauma that we are suffering or have experienced in the past. Anything that inhibits our capacity for joy and gladness must be addressed and resolved. The pain and trauma that caused our hearts to be broken can and will steal our joy and strength. However, Jesus Christ can release emotional pain and trauma from our hearts and spirits. He alone can heal the brokenhearted in a lasting way.

We cannot serve the Lord in freedom until we have received healing for painful and traumatic situations that have caused the numbing of our emotions. The Lord wants us to joyfully sing to Him. We must ask Him to heal our hearts and spirits from whatever may be preventing us from doing so. A genuine, personal relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Savior is the key to the restoration of joy in our hearts, minds and spirits. That joy gives us the ability to serve the Lord with gladness and delight.

When our hearts are broken, we must stand up against what the devil has done in our lives by embracing the joy of the Lord. If we allow the pain we have experienced to determine our outlooks on life, the enemy will be victorious and we will be miserable. However, as we rejoice in what Jesus did for us, we will be blessed and our hearts and spirits will be healed and strengthened. The joy of the Lord is our strength!

Kathy Shelton

 

Thankfulness… One Leper Returned

 

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

Luke 17:15-16 (NKJV)

Luke 17, verses 11-19, recounts the story of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus at the same time. It is a remarkable testimony of the genuine thankfulness of the one leper who returned to thank Jesus and give glory to God. However, it is also a very sad statement that the other nine lepers did not return once they realized that they had been healed.

The one extremely grateful man glorified God with a loud voice! He wanted everyone to know that Jesus healed him and how thankful he was to God. He did not just continue on his way as the other nine did, accepting the miraculous gift of cleansing, but failing to go back and thank the One who had mercy on them.

Besides returning to thank Jesus, this one leper also showed his great thankfulness by falling down on his face at Jesus’ feet. He did not just glorify God verbally, but he demonstrated his immense gratitude with his physical actions as well. He humbled himself, knowing that only God could have done such an incredible healing. His physical suffering from the horrible effects of leprosy was over. The terrible social stigma of being a leper was also ended. The emotional pain and trauma connected to that would no longer continue. He was overwhelmed with thankfulness!

Although being healed of leprosy was a miraculous example of healing, the most important healing anyone can receive is the healing of their heart and spirit through a sincere conversion to becoming a follower of Jesus Christ by asking Him to be their personal Lord and Savior! As followers of Jesus, we should also be overwhelmed with thankfulness regardless of what might be happening in our lives. Our hearts and spirits should reflect the amazing gift we have been given of being forgiven for our sins and welcomed into God’s family. We are children of the King of Glory! We are sons and daughters of the Most High God! The undeserved gift of salvation is more than enough for us to be forever grateful to the Lord.

We must show our thankfulness and love for Jesus by obeying God’s Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us when we fall short of living the godly life that the Lord desires for us. When that happens, we must ask God to forgive us in Jesus’ name, and repent by changing our attitudes and behavior. Repeating the same sin over and over does not indicate that we are truly thankful for Jesus’ incredible sacrifice. Only genuine repentance— having a change of heart and following the Lord’s instructions—demonstrates how much we love Jesus and how grateful we are for what He has done for us. 

Too many people, including a large number of Christians, take everything for granted and have an attitude of entitlement. They act like they deserve blessings from God—like the Creator of the Universe owes them something. If we do not surrender our lives to the Lord in humility and have a sincere, personal relationship with Jesus, what we deserve is punishment for our sins. That includes spending an eternity after physical death in Hell—separated from Almighty God forever. None of us deserve any blessings without living a life of obedience and thankfulness to our Most High God. However, thanks to our merciful and loving, heavenly Father, He does bless us if we accept His Son, Jesus, and live according to God’s Word. That includes being thankful to the One who sent His Son to die for us and to heal our broken hearts and spirits.

An attitude of entitlement is an ungrateful attitude. It is also a sign that people do not really understand Who provides for them. How could the nine lepers not return and thank Jesus? The Scripture says that the one who returned was a Samaritan. The Samaritans and Jews normally despised each other. Jesus was a Jew, but this Samaritan man did not care about that fact. That one leper was exceptionally grateful and honored Jesus!

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was a wonderful example of giving thanks to God. The Bible contains several instances where Jesus gave thanks, including the following one in Matthew 15.

And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude.

Matthew 15:36 (NKJV)

Paul exhorted believers to give thanks as well. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, he urged followers of Jesus to give thanks in every situation no matter what the circumstances. We need to be thankful in every situation, not necessarily for every situation. Paul said that we should be thankful and continually give thanks to God for this is “the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” The will of God for His children is that we are thankful and continually give thanks to Him! If we are not actively being thankful to God, then we are disobeying God’s Word. Disobedience to God’s will is sin and causes distance in our relationships with the Lord. It also hinders the healing of our hearts and spirits. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 must be put into practice in our lives!

Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (Amplified Bible)

Expressing and showing the Lord our thankfulness is an essential part of the inner healing process for emotional pain and trauma. We must verbalize our gratefulness to the Lord and share our testimonies of what He has done for us. There is no substitute for being thankful. It blesses the Lord when we thank Him and we bless others when we tell them how He has set us free. The more we do that, the more freedom we will receive. Our broken hearts will continue to be healed as we deliberately and daily thank God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for every blessing in our lives, especially the priceless gift of being able to spend eternity in Heaven with the Lord.  

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 118:1 (NKJV)

 

Kathy Shelton