TURN FROM WILLFULNESS

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 second step of humility is that we love not our own will nor take pleasure in the satisfaction of our own desires.  ~ (Rule of Benedict 7:31)

I have come not to do my own will, but the will of the One who sent me. ~ John 6:38

Jesus is our perfect example for life.

When He walked the earth, Jesus’ disciples saw him perform many miracles. But amazingly they didn’t ask him to teach them how to heal people or raise the dead. The disciples only asked Jesus how to pray. In this model prayer, Jesus taught them to ask for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This is our starting point.

We can’t accept God’s will until our heart’s ready for it.

It will be impossible for us to turn from our self-will and embrace God’s will if we are completely immersed in our own view of reality. This means examining our heart’s desires. What’s at the root? What is the motivation? Why? Maybe it’s from past abuse or poor parenting. As we read God’s Word and pray the Holy Spirit will transform our mind. Gradually our heart will softens in humility and become able to follow God’s will.

One with the Father.

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: one with our Father’s will. To think like Jesus thought. 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.

Contemplate trusting God’s will for your life as you listen to this sweet song from Hillsong Young and Free.

GRACE IS REACHING

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the last decade. As we work our way through this passage of verses you’ll see how it builds on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people…

It seams we’re hearing more about God’s grace than ever before. God’s grace certainly isn’t a new thing. For some reason we are more in tune with it or maybe we are more aware of it. Grace may appear simple but there are multiple layers to the concept of grace.

Grace defined.

Biblical grace is defined simply as the undeserved favor and blessings from God. It is a gift from God through Christ which gives us the power and ability to do what God wants us to do. Grace not only is a gift from God to us, it is working in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How grace reaches me.

For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 (GNT)

We have access to God’s grace simply through faith. God’s grace is freely given to us the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. But really it was the grace of God that even opened our heart to know and receive Christ to begin with. God’s love is full of grace. God’s grace is full of love.

How grace reaches others through me.

Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.  ~ Matthew 5:16 (VOICE)

My proper response to God’s amazing grace is a life well lived for Christ. And that is exactly how God’s grace reaches others through me. They will see how our attitudes have changed, we may have freedom from an addiction or recent healing in our relationships. We may be exhibiting a special gift: teaching, giving, leading, or encouraging those around us.

Whatever the case, we must remember in each and every season of our life we have a cloud of witnesses watching. Whether it’s our neighbors, family or co-workers… someone is always watching to see how we’re walking life out. I pray by the power of God’s grace I will leave His influence in my wake.

God, keep us near your grace-fountain and bless us!
And when you look down on us, may your face beam with joy!

Send us out all over the world so that everyone everywhere
    will discover your ways and know who you are
    and see your power to save.  ~ Psalm 67:1-2 (TPT)

Contemplate how God’s amazing grace is reaching in and through your life as you listen to one of my new favorite songs by Elevation Worship.

*The Voice Translation

**The Passion Translation

 

I SHALL NOT WANT

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we will be studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

IMG_3934

Breath Prayer Meditations

During seasons of struggle this verse becomes like a mantra for me. There are many days and nights that I keep this Scripture close to my heart and mind. At work I often have it posted on my computer monitor.

When retiring for the night it’s very comforting to meditate on. Reciting it quietly as a breath prayer calms my spirit and soul to help me fall asleep.

Worry is Unnecessary

As a sheep in The Flock it helps to remind myself that My Shepherd hasn’t forgotten me no matter how bleak things may seem. The Good Shepherd always takes care of His sheep. He makes sure all their basic needs are met. While we are desiring more that just basic needs, it’s important that we seek our Shepherd’s face for guidance and not only His hands for provision.

In this beautiful song Audrey Assad finds the perfect words to help us contemplate Psalm 23:1. Enjoy…

 

COURAGE

In The Serenity Prayer column each month we are studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today. These columns will be published the first Friday of each month in 2019.

GOD grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can…

courage: strength in the face of pain or grief; the ability to do something that frightens; mental or moral strength to persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty; willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation.

Most of the changes we need to make are related to the personal challenges we face as individuals.

Some of my biggest challenges are low self-esteem, lack of self confidence and allowing myself to be easily discouraged.

There are many people in scripture that struggled with self-confidence, the most memorable is Moses.

At the burning bush when God commissioned Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt he protested saying, “Who am I to lead the people of Israel!” Although Moses was well educated and qualified to be a leader, he suffered with self-doubt.

Sometimes we won’t even try to change for fear of failure.

God isn’t expecting perfection. He knows what we are made of and only asks that we try with the abilities and resources available to us. As we do He will crown our efforts with success.

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. ~ 1 Chronicles 28:20

Rather than striving to make changes in my own power I must remember that all my strength comes from the grace of Christ.

With Jesus’ help I will step out with courage. I will do everything possible, to live the life God has for me and be the person He wants me to be.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

Watch this wonderful worship song from Bethel Music as you prayerfully contemplate the courage you need to make changes in your life.

RECOGNIZE GOD’S PRESENCE

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

The first Step of Humility: a  monk keeps the fear of God always before their eyes.  ~ The Rule of Benedict 7:10

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. ~ Proverbs 1:7

As we begin our journey we must humbly bow down and recognize the Presence of God in our lives and live from that awareness moment by moment.

Have an honoring, reverential fear of the Lord. To walk in humility we must live from a stance of reverential fear of God always. Not fear in the sense that we are afraid. But fear in the sense that we have a deep abiding respect for God’s authority in our life.

Keep self-worth in a proper perspective. By not putting ourselves down for our weaknesses or puffing ourselves up because of our strengths we can better see ourselves as God does. When we can have a balanced view of our flaws and gifts we come closer to the reality of who we are.

A foundational step for all the rest to come. Starting with a firm foundation of reverential fear of God will help the future step to be a little easier. As we recognize God’s Presence and give Him reign over our daily lives, we will find the freedom that comes from accepting our proper place in the universe.

God is always present in our lives. Whether we realize it or not, God is always present. He is present to our every thought and every action. It’s not hard to imagine God with us when we are being good. But to think of Him being present when we are doing something bad is uncomfortable.

Guard yourself at every hour. If we stay aware of God’s Presence moment by moment following the Holy Spirit’s lead we are promised to be blessed.

Take a few moments to contemplate the Presence of God in your life as you watch/listen to this beautiful worship song by Jenn Johnson.

Image Copyright ©2019 Reaching Hurting Women Ministries. 

ALL THIS IS FOR YOUR BENEFIT

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18This section of Scripture has proven a solid resource of faith for me through many challenges over the last decade.

In the midst of struggles it’s hard to imagine how this could be for our benefit.

We may never know why some things happen. If God tried to explain why He’s allowing something to happen in our life our mind wouldn’t be able to grasp it.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:9

God is a Mystery. It requires faith for us to follow God and trust His ways. That’s why we are called believers and not doubters. Believing means we believe!

It is the Lord who directs your life, for each step you take is ordained by God to bring you closer to your destiny. So much of your life, then, remains a mystery!  ~ Proverbs 20:24 (The Passion Translation)

It’s not always about us. The struggles we are going through may not be only about us. God may be growing us through this trial so that we can comfort another person one day going through a similar situation.

What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (The Living Bible)

Endure hardships with a good attitude. God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. As we press through our struggles with a good attitude, doing everything as unto the Lord, we will grow stronger in Christian character and virtue. But most importantly God will be glorified as others around us see how we walk out life.

So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. ~ 2 Timothy 2:10 (New Living Translation)

As you listen to this beautiful song by Covenant Worship take a few minutes to contemplate your life situation. How can you be a vessel of God’s glory to others in the midst of your struggle?

MY GOOD SHEPHERD

On the second Friday in each month of 2019 we will be studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: Psalm 23. Join me as we bring new application of this beloved Psalm to our lives today.

There are multiple places in the Bible where people are compared to sheep. When we look at the photo above we might think that’s a sweet thing. But after some study we will see that it’s not really a compliment!

Sheep may possibly be the dumbest animals on the planet.

They’re wayward and weak. They can’t defend or groom themselves. Their bodies aren’t strong and must be sheared to prevent the wool from becoming a burden. They’re restless and wander away when left alone. And because they have no sense of direction they get lost easily.  Left to guide themselves sheep will literally follow each other off a cliff. And when they fall down on their backs they can’t get up without help. This list could go on and on.

Do any of these weaknesses sound familiar?

That paragraph could easily describe much of my life. There was a time when I walked away from My Shepherd thinking I could do life better on my own. I didn’t take good care of myself and made many bad choices. Soon I began to follow other sheep and ended up in a deep pit with other rebellious sheep.

Then came a soul-shattering time.

My Shepherd allowed me to experience the consequences of my bad choices. Often breaking the bad habits of a strong-willed sheep only comes after serious disciplinary action is applied by the Good Shepherd.

A shepherd disciplines rebellious sheep to protect the whole herd.

When a rebellious sheep leaves the herd repeatedly, sometimes a shepherd must break its leg to force it to stay close to him. In the same way, our Good Shepherd may allow painful life situations to draw us back to Him.

Today I am grateful for the discipline of my Good Shepherd. 

Many years have passed since those harsh days of discipline. But still I stay close to His side, listening for His gentle voice to guide me in all I do. Life is so much better when He leads the way!

Jesus says: “My own sheep will hear my voice and I know each one, and they will follow me.” ~ John 10:27 (The Passion Translation)

There are many beautiful renditions of Psalm 23 put to music. We will listen to several thoughout this year together. Take a few minutes to reflect on your relationship with The Good Shepherd as you watch the video below.

 

SERENITY

In The Serenity Prayer column each month we are dissecting this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today. These posts will be published the first Friday of each month in 2019.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…

serenity:  a state or quality of being serene, calm, tranquil, peaceful; having an inner calm in the midst of the ups and downs of life; involves learning to be content with the things in our life that can’t be changed. (Serenity’s opposite is agitation.)

Human beings aren’t naturally serene creatures. We don’t have to be taught agitation. It seems to come with the inner selfishness which is built into our nature. I certainly lean more towards agitation with most things in life. That’s why we need God’s help!

Our lack of peace is directly related to our thought life, worry and ingratitude. The Apostle Paul teaches this in his letter to the Phillipians:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Now brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worth of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.              ~ Phillipians 4:6-9

It’s to us to decide what we’re going to think about. No one can control our thoughts but us. When we look for good we will usually find it. The opposite is also true.

Stressing over situations and people that we can’t change only makes more stress. If we can settle into life as it is, finding a way to be content, we can trust God will work all the good and bad for our good.

Let’s lean into God and put Paul’s teaching into practice. Then the peace of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will put a guard over our hearts and minds, and ultimately our life.

Take a few minutes to contemplate Christ’s peace with this beautiful worship song by Bethel Music.

RHW 2019

Happy New Year Friends!

In preparation for the new year I wanted to quickly give you an overview of what you can expect from upcoming Reaching Hurting Women blog columns. For 2019 I’m returning to a monthly magazine format that I used a few years ago. I’m excited to be sharing four of my favorite topics! You can expect a new column each Friday. Each month the columns will have the following schedule:

1st Friday: Serenity Prayer The first Friday of each month  we will be studying The Serenity Prayer. We are breaking down this well-known prayer a phrase at a time and applying it to our life today.

2nd Friday: Psalm 23 On the second Friday of each month  we will be studying The 23rd Psalm. We will break down this beloved psalm verse by verse and find God’s grace and mercy for today.

3rd Friday: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 This particular section of Scripture is my life verse. Since it was first given to me by the Holy Spirit in 2006, I have found application in every season of my life. Each third Friday of the month we will break it down by sections to find application for us all.

4th Friday: Humility Study The last few years I’ve devoted much study to the subject of Humility. Each fourth Friday, with the help of Saint Benedict, we will learn how better to walk the 12 Steps of Humility with Christ.

5th Friday: Book Reviews The months of March, May, August and November each have five Fridays. On these weeks you can expect a book review that will line up with a topic for that month.

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…

Tamara

Book Review

When a book continually hits my radar it means I’m supposed to read it.

2018 was my year for Streams.

There are almost as many types of devotionals as there are people and issues. Formats range from monthly to yearly. Some have short daily readings with a Scripture reference and a simple encouraging word for your day. Others are dedicated to specific topics or people groups. Streams in the Desert is for everyone.

With its pinpoint Scripture references, relevant stories and beautifully supportive poetry this devotional is perfect to help us make it through life’s daily challenges. One might be hesitant to read  Streams in the Desert since it was written in 1925. But because humans still struggle this book is completely applicable to life in the 21 Century. 

Lettie Cowman and her husband were missionaries to the Orient in the early 1900’s. When her husband became ill in 1917 they returned to America where she cared for him until his death in 1924. It was during those trying years that Mrs. Cowman penned this touching devotional. For me knowing this history of when it was written gives it much more meaning and insight.

With the new year just ahead, now is the perfect time to get your copy. I highly recommend Streams in the Desert! It’s one of the best devotionals you will ever read! I’ll be returning to it again and again.

Our capacity for knowing God is enlarged when we are brought by Him into circumstances that cause us to exercise our faith. So when difficulties block our path, may we thank God that He is taking time to deal with us, and then may we lean heavily on Him. ~ Lettie B. Cowman