THE NEW LIFE :: HEAVEN’S PRIORITIES

At RHW we publish a new column each Friday. We’re going through four specific studies with each series being published on a designated week of the month.

In THE NEW LIFE series we’re studying one of my favorite chapters in the Bible: Colossians 3:1-17. As you will see in the coming months, this is a rich chapter full of valuable life transforming lessons. Join me on the third Friday of each month in 2020 for this in-depth Bible study with real world application.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. ~ Colossians 1:1 (NLT)

 

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ,…

In our first verse Paul is encouraging believers to realize that Jesus wasn’t the only one who was raised from the dead. As believers in Jesus Christ we’ve all been raised to a new life with Christ. From God’s perspective every believer– past, present or future –is considered raised with Christ. Because we’ve been resurrected out of our walking-dead state we can live new lives of freedom with God in Christ.

…set your sights on the realities of heaven,…

Paul goes on to tell us that because we’ve been raised from the dead with Christ our focus should not be on earthly things. Setting our hearts and minds on the realities of heaven we’ll strive to walk out these priorities in daily life. As we begin to see life from heaven’s point of view we’ll naturally pursue a deeper knowledge of Christ and everything that’s involved in living for Him and with Him.

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” ~ Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

…where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.

One of the most important heavenly realities we must see, truly foundational to our new life, is that we must recognize that Jesus Christ is seated next to His Father in heaven. In this place of honor and authority Jesus makes intercession for us to the Father. Unless we recognize the truth of Christ’s authority in heaven and on earth, He won’t have a place of authority in our lives either.

To develop our new life and actively pursue heaven’s priorities requires discipline. Here are some key disciplines to apply to your life:

      • * Discipline your heart by memorizing Scripture.

        * Discipline your mind by rejecting anything not from God.

        * Discipline your relationships with healthy fellowship.

What does this new life look like? How are we supposed to live? Check back on the third Friday next month as we continue our study of Colossians 3 and The New Life.

Let’s enthrone King Jesus with our highest praises singing this powerful song by Jeremy Riddle and Bethel Music.

 

THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES :: SUBMISSION

Spiritual Disciplines are not a list of religious duties. But rather habits that nurture and mature our spiritual growth. They are inward, spiritual attitudes walked out by behaviors and actions. These habits are critical for lasting spiritual growth and true life transformation.

In The Spiritual Disciplines series we’ll be learning 12 disciplines that will guide us as we grow deeper in our walk with God. These columns will post on the second Friday of each month in 2020.

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: habits that nurture spiritual growth. 

SUBMISSION : aligning my will and freedom with God’s will and freedom; submitting to others in love and reverence for Christ.

“Be humble in the Lord’s presence, and He will honor you.” ~ James 4:10

“Place yourselves under each other’s authority out of respect for Christ.” ~ Ephesians 5:21

 

The Spiritual Discipline of Submission in the truest sense is humbling ourselves, actually lowering ourselves beneath the power and authority of Jesus Christ as our Lord, King and Master. By doing so we’re making ourselves subjects in His Kingdom; allowing ourselves to be ruled by His wisdom, not our own.

The potential for power and leadership in our personal lives is grown and developed in the classroom of the disciplines. While submission plays a part in our relationships with others, we won’t know how to truly submit to any authority figure, or show respect to people in general, unless we’re able to submit our heart and souls to God Almighty.

“Fear God or fear everything else.” ~ Kanye West

Unless and until we submit to God’s authority over our lives we’ll be vacillating between seeking the world’s approval or fearing the world’s rejection in some form or other. But as we humble ourselves, and live our life for the audience of One, He will honor our efforts and give us true success beyond what we have asked for or expect.

Take a few minutes to contemplate the Spiritual Discipline of Submission with this beautiful worship video from Hillsong Worship.  If you haven’t done so, consider aligning your will with God’s will now, giving Him full reign of your heart and life. There will never be a better time than today.

THE LORD’S PRAYER :: OUR FATHER

At RHW we publish new columns each Friday. We’re going through four specific studies with each study series published on its own designated week of the month.

The Lord’s Prayer series will be published on the first Friday of each month in 2020. We will be studying this beloved prayer phrase by phrase and learning fresh ways to apply it to our lives today.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen. ~ Matthew 6: 9-13

 

This beloved prayer, traditionally called The Lord’s Prayer or The Our Father, is taken directly from Scripture and spoken by Jesus to His disciples. The first account is in Matthew chapter 6 (quoted above) during Jesus’ most famous teaching, The Sermon on the Mount, where He is teaching a detailed lesson on how citizens of the kingdom are supposed to live.

The second reference of The Lord’s Prayer is in Luke 11: 1-13 where the disciples are asking Jesus to teach them how to pray. No doubt they had witnessed Jesus often retreating in prayerful solitary time with His Father and wanted to learn how to do that themselves. Jesus then sweetly teaches the disciples this beloved prayer that the many of us have held onto through rough days and long nights.

The Our Father prayer begins where we must start… recognizing and honoring our heavenly Father.

For some, seeing God as a father is painful and difficult because our earthly father may have let us down in some way, maybe even harmed us.

Father God isn’t a man who is untrustworthy. As our best Father, God provides, nurtures, protects, comforts, heals, guides, encourages, trains and corrects us… all for our good.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:18 

God has spent thousands of years trying to show humanity how much He loves us. Is He reaching out to you today?

Take a few minutes to contemplate the love of your Heavenly Father with this beautiful rendition of the Our Father by Hillsong Worship.

RHW 2020!

Happy New Year Friends!

I’m excited to give you an overview of the upcoming weekly Reaching Hurting Women columns for 2020.  We’ll be continuing our magazine format with a different topic each Friday of the month as follows:

1st Friday: The Lord’s Prayer 

The first Friday of each month we will be studying The Lord’s Prayer. We’re breaking down this beloved prayer one phrase at a time and applying it to our life today.

2nd Friday: The Spiritual Disciplines 

On the second Friday of each month we’ll be studying The Spiritual Disciplines. We will be learning about and putting into practice twelve of may favorite spiritual disciplines.

3rd Friday: Colossians 3 

This particular section of Scripture is my favorite chapter in the Bible. It has so much richness that can provide transformation for anyone’s life. On the third Friday of the month we’ll break it down by sections to find fresh application for us all.

4th Friday: The Red Sea Rules Study 

In November of 2019 I reviewed a wonderful book that I’ve been reading over the last several months during my weekend devotion times. For the fourth Friday each month we will learn how the God who led us in will also lead us out. 

5th Friday: Music Reviews 

This year the months of January, May, July and October each have five Fridays. I’m excited to branch out with a new format and bring you reviews on music that has been especially important and touching in my life. 

I’m looking forward to a wonderful year of study and writing. I hope you will join me and bring along a friend when you can.

May the grace and peace of Christ be with you in this coming year and always…

Tamara

WALKING IN TRANSPARENT GOODNESS

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The twelfth step of humility calls us to always manifest humility to those around us.  ~ The Rule of Benedict

I am bowed down and humbled in every way. ~ Psalm 38:6

Each of the 12 Steps of Humility progressively build on the next, creating a strong foundation on which we can stand for years to come.

With each step we grow closer to God’s perfect love that casts out all fear. As we walk humbly before others we reflect a life that has been radically transformed by Christ.

Let’s review the journey we’ve taken this year. Each of the paragraph titles are hyperlinked to the corresponding columns in this series.

 

Recognized God’s Presence: Fear of the Lord This is a foundational step for the rest. Here we learned to have a proper reverential fear of the Lord, keeping our self in proper perspective, while knowing that God is present with us at all times.

Accepting God’s Will: Turn from Willfulness  Our life is to be modeled after Jesus. He did nothing and spoke nothing that wasn’t from his Father in Heaven. This is where our heart and mind need to be: To think like Jesus thought and to be one with our Father’s will.  That will come as we continue to stay in God’s Word and in His Presence. Only then can we hope to turn from the stubborn willfulness that plagues our humanity and live God’s best life.

Accepting Spiritual Direction: Obedience   An obedient, humble heart increases our openness to receiving directions in our daily life. This applies to our relationships with a supervisor, teacher or parent. But before we can express our obedience by complying with a command, we must first listen. Most importantly we must listen to our Heavenly Father who will in turn help us obey our earthly authority figures.

Persevering: Quietly Embracing Patience  Benedict links obedience with patience  and perseverance. When facing difficult situations most of us don’t embrace the suffering quietly or without weakening. Jesus encourages us no matter what we’re experiencing, if we will endure, if we are faithful to the end, we will experience deliverance in this lifetime and certainly in the next.

Acknowledging Our Faults: Radical Self-Honesty  Saint Benedict teaches that the path to humility requires pure honesty. Humility calls us to truthfully bring to light whatever is hidden deep in our heart. These may be things that we’re even in denial to ourselves about. Often answers and even healing come as we’re sharing with our trusted friend or counselor.

Living Simply: Contentment   A humble heart is fixed on God so much that the changing external circumstances of life don’t affect our mood. Our realities don’t dominate our state of mind or spirit. We submit our desires to God’s will in our life for today knowing He has good planned to come from it all.

Honest About Yourself: Be Mindful of Your Limitations  In recognizing our personal limitations we find the first secret to victory. If we can humble ourselves and admit our human weaknesses, see our need for help from God and others, we’re on the right path. Scripture teaches us, God’s power works best through those who know their limitations and who turn their weaknesses over to Him.

Being Teachable: Be Moldable  Being moldable and teachable isn’t a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign of strength, faith and trust. Our challenge is to make sure the person who is molding us is following God’s direction and Biblical values.

Listening to Others: Restrain Speech When we’re trying to communicate with someone, we expect them to have proper manners, to restrain their speech, give us their eyes and listen. God isn’t any different. He wants our undivided attention when He’s trying to speak to us.

Speak Kindly: Avoid Idle Laughter  Just like God’s kindness leads us to repentance, so too our kindness toward others can lead them to God. Let’s cultivate an atmosphere around us that invites others to Christ with our words and behavior. Words that harm others are not funny. Humor is about seeing the lighter side of life. It should be used to lift people out of troubles not beat them down into them.

Accepting Others As They Are: Speak Modestly  Here Benedict describes the appropriate way that we should converse with others. We’re to be generous and sincere in our listening. Then when it’s our time to speak we are to brief and gentle with our words, not loud or boisterous.

There’s no arguing that Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility are a tall list of expectations for us to live up to. They certainly are demands that one couldn’t possible attain without consistent help from God.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit graciously gifts us with the strength and abilities we need to press into His Presence and begin the transformation process. Only then can we even begin to live a transparent life that reflects the goodness of God daily.

Let’s end this series, this year and this decade contemplating the infinite Goodness of God with this lovely music video by Bethel Music. I pray God’s many blessings will chase you down this new year ahead.

THE ETERNAL UNSEEN

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’ve been studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. For many challenging years this section of Scripture continues to be a consistent source of faith and comfort for me.

For the final column in this series I’ve broken from my traditional format by inserting several instrumental music videos to accent the message and to help us contemplate the eternal things of God. The videos are from Bethel Music’s most recent instrumental album: Genesis. These songs beautifully represent God’s creation in a musical video art form. I hope you enjoy it! Blessings…

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”

Everything we experience in life benefits us in some way in the eternal scheme of things. As we keep a grateful attitude our life becomes a light to show others God’s grace and love. When those around us see the goodness of God, thanksgiving and praise will bring God the glory He deserves.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

Even though our outer body slowly decays in this earthly atmosphere with age or sickness we can trust that our inner spirit is growing stronger and stronger each day to God’s glory.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

The troubles of this present moment are fleeting but they serve a purpose. They are preparing us for the glory which is to come in Heaven with God.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18

As we press through our challenges, trials or sickness, we must be determined to keep our eyes not on the things of this world, but rather on the unseen eternal things of God. That is where our Living Hope comes from…

IN GOD’S HOUSE FOREVER

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we have been studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me for this last installment in the series.

As we near the end of the year and our Psalm 23 study, I’m ruminating on ways to describe this famous chapter of Scripture. It is beautifully inspiring and certainly one of the most memorized portions of Scripture ever written.

For many, myself included, Psalm 23 is a place of solace and security; a place of hope and healing; a source for meditation during times of difficulty, loneliness and anxiety.

I can’t count the times I’ve prayed Psalm 23 while tossing and turning during a sleepless night. Or in times of uncertainty, indecision and just plain exhaustion trying to deal with life… again Psalm 23 consistently brings a balm of comfort and peace.

This particular stanza we have before us today encourages us of the future we have for eternity with Christ. No matter what we may be experiencing today, we can rest in the hope that one day we will be at home with God, in that beautiful mansion Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare for all of us. What a vision of peace and glory to hold on to!

If you haven’t put this chapter to memory, I highly recommend you take some time to do that. There’s nothing like having Scripture hidden away in your heart, when it’s needed at  a moment’s notice.

Now let’s take a look at the full chapter of Psalm 23.

Each of the stanzas below are hyperlinked to their corresponding columns that we’ve been studying this year for you to review. Enjoy…

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD;

I SHALL NOT WANT.

HE MAKES ME TO LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES;

HE LEADS ME BESIDE THE STILL WATERS.

HE RESTORES MY SOUL;

HE LEADS ME IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE.

YEA, THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL; FOR YOU ARE WITH ME;

YOUR ROD AND YOUR STAFF, THEY COMFORT ME.

YOUR PREPARE A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MY ENEMIES;

YOU ANOINT MY HEAD WITH OIL; MY CUP RUNS OVER.

SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE;

AND I WILL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER.

As you contemplate this poignant portion of Scripture I hope you will take a few moments to watch/listen to Audrey Assad’s version of Psalm 23 exquisitely put to music. Love, peace and blessings…

SUPREME HAPPINESS FOREVER!

The Serenity Prayer column is published on the first Friday of each month in 2019. We’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today.

” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy forever in the next.   ~ AMEN “

 

Scripture makes it clear that this world is not our permanent home. God created us to dwell on this earth that we might learn and grow in His ways, teach them to others and hopefully bring glory to His name.

We may have periods of what we might consider happiness. But the happiness that we experience here on earth is nothing compared to the incredible happiness we will have in the presence of God forever in eternity.

Much of the happiness we humans are seeking is directly related to the desire for that heavenly happiness that only God can provide.

In times of struggle, challenge and sorrow The Serenity Prayer can help us. Each stanza of this beautiful prayer carries wisdom that can strengthen us on our journey.

The Serenity Prayer is a timeless classic that will continue to encourage us for many generations to come. I pray this column has been a blessing for you this calendar year of 2019 as it has been for me.

Take a few minutes to contemplate your forever happiness with God as you listen to this wonderful song by Michael W. Smith.

BOOK REVIEW :: THE RED SEA RULES by Robert J. Morgan

The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times

by

Robert J.  Morgan

 

 

 

Difficulties and challenges are not strangers to most of us. And during these trying times it’s helpful to have a voice of experience that can help walk us through. This is what The Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan does for us.

A dear friend recently introduced me to this simple, yet profound, little book. She’s been through trying times these last few years and told me that this book has helped her make it through. Because it was so important to her she kept her copy of The Red Sea Rules on her night stand so she could read it regularly.

After I was able to look at my friend’s book I quickly ordered my own copy. I’ve been going through it as a devotional on the weekends for the last couple of months.

Using the Exodus 14 story of the Israelites as an example, Robert Morgan shares 10 God-given strategies for walking from fear to faith during difficult times. Here is a sampling:

Red Sea Rule  #1:  Realize that God means for you to be where you are.

Red Sea Rule  #2:  Be more concerned for God’s glory than for your relief.

Red Sea Rule  #3:  Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.

Red Sea Rule  #4:  Pray!

Red Sea Rule  #5:  Stay calm and confident, and give God time to work.

Red Sea Rule  #6:  When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.

Red Sea Rule  #7:  Envision God’s enveloping presence.

Red Sea Rule  #8: Trust God to deliver in His own unique way.

Red Sea Rule  #9:  View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.

Red Sea Rule #10:  Don’t forget to praise Him.

I’ve really been enjoying these sweet inspirational readings. The chapters are short which makes The Red Sea Rules perfect for a devotional reading time. Each chapter offers a few questions for reflection at the end.

I highly recommend The Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan. This book is one I’ll be reading over and over again. I hope you will consider getting copy. It’s a great gift idea for the upcoming Christmas season. Another wonderful thing… The publisher has provided a discount for bulk purchases. If you want to give them away as gifts you can buy them here in bulk for less.

Enjoy this brief video of Robert J. Morgan telling about his wonderful book: The Red Sea Rules.

SPEAK MODESTLY

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

 

The eleventh step of humility is that a monk speaks gently, with modesty, briefly and reasonably without raising their voice.  ~ The Rule of Benedict

Speak concisely, say much in few words; be one who knows and yet holds their tongue. ~ Sirach 32:8

 

Healthy communication within a community is vital. Benedict thought it was so important that he devoted three of his 12 Steps of Humility  to communication.

In Humility Step 9 Benedict advises us to actually listen more than we speak. Step 10 cautions us against making jokes at the expense of others feelings.

Now in Humility Step 11 Benedict describes the appropriate way that we should converse with others. We are to be generous and sincere in our listening. And when it’s our time to speak we are to brief and gentle with our words, not loud or boisterous.

This is definitely unlike our modern culture where people are blasting out opinions while ignoring anything that goes against their thoughts.  Certainly not the kind of behavior that can build community. Rarely do we see actual conversation that allows both sides to gently share their views while listening kindly in return.

Participation in a community requires that we speak and also that we listen. In speech we must be candid, in listening we must be accessible. ~John McQuiston II

The one thing I find most appealing about Saint Benedict and his 12 Steps of Humility is that they are practical for use in any environment. They are timeless tools for running the home, office or a community of any size.

While speaking modestly comes naturally to some, it’s often more common among those who have gained some wisdom with years of life behind them. Elders are are usually more sparing with words than young people.

We can’t expect the youth to come by this virtue so quickly, but by walking in Benedict’s example we can help them put these lessons into practice.

Enjoy this sweet song sung by Casting Crowns helping us have a humble heart of praise that God will listen to.