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

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.

WHAT YOU SEE IS TEMPORARY

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re 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 past fifteen years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build 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 may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

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

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

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen.

For what is seen is temporary…”  

~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18b

 

We have a tendency to get attached to people, places, and things. Often we hold on too tightly. 

When our child grows up and leaves home our hearts are broken. 

When a life change comes and we have to move, maybe even across the country, we have to leave the home we’ve made so cozy. We leave a church family we’ve been part of for many years, close friends and loved ones are now left behind. 

In that process we may have had to downsize drastically; selling or giving away some of our treasured possessions. 

How can you know when you are too attached to something? 

When being without it truly hurts.

I write about this with first hand experience. In fact, due to job changes and other challenges my husband and I moved 12 times between 2006 and 2017. The last few called for drastic downsizing taking us from a 5000 square feet house down to a small condo with 600 square feet. Now that hurt! Yes our life has been simplified and our load lightened. But still the process was very painful. 

At the beginning of our life transitions in 2006 I read about a missionary when reminding himself to not get too attached and that life changes quickly would post notes around his home that read:

“THIS IS TEMPORARY”

Everything we can see and touch is temporary. This earth is not our permanent home. And because this world is not our permanent home we’re supposed to keep our hearts, minds and spirits focused on things above. 

” Since you became alive again, so to speak, when Christ arose from the dead, now set your sights on the rich treasures and joys of heaven where he sits beside God in the place of honor and power.  Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here. You should have as little desire for this world as a dead person does. Your real life is in heaven with Christ and God. ” Colossians 3:1-3 (Living Bible)

We must hold on to things, people and places loosely or not at all. We’re much better off putting them in The Hands of our Heavenly Father, Who knows best how to care for them and us. As we do our life will be more peaceful for ourselves, more pleasant for those around us and more pleasing to God. 

With all the beautiful, yet temporary, things of this world that we can see today, God promises us there is so much more to come… beyond what we can ever think or imagine!

Let’s take a few minutes to meditate on the joys of Heaven and things above with this beautiful song by Bethel Music.

GOODNESS AND MERCY FOLLOW ME

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.

As you look back on this journey called life… the school years, marriage, raising a family, having and changing jobs, moving around, buying houses, making various life choices… What do you see?

 

 MISTAKES

          or 

LESSONS LEARNED

 

It’s easy to look back with regret and see all the things you wish you could change. We need to remember that when we were living in that space and time we made the choices we did for a reason. We could only do what we could with what we knew at that particular moment.

Ok, maybe it was a bad decision that became a huge mistake.

But we who are followers of Christ must believe what God has promised us:

 

“…every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives…” 

~ Romans 8:28  (The Passion Translation)

 

No one is going to manage our memory time. It’s up to us to not waste time looking back in the rearview mirror at yesterday with regret and sadness.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. ~ Psalm 23:6a

Today’s portion of Psalm 23 assures us that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life. That means we can expect to look back and see God’s goodness in every season… to see God’s mercy sparing us of something bad that could have happened that was much worse instead.

When we take this perspective on our past, whether it is in the distant past or just earlier today, we must trust that God is faithful to His Word.

He is going behind us, as we follow His will in our life, He is making sure there is goodness and mercy following us as He weaves every detail of our life together according to His special plan.

When we do this, we can rest much easier without hanging on to regretted mistakes. We can trust that God knows who we were when we made those decisions and He will turn that mistake into a message that we can share with others along the way.

Join me in celebrating the Goodness and Mercy of God in our lives with this new music video by Encounter Music.

BE REASONABLY HAPPY… NOW!

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…”

 

Let me begin by saying this is an area where I struggle, not every day, but often enough. I don’t want to come off as someone who has this all figured out. Because I definitely don’t. I’m in a life learning process just like you.

While we can be sure that God is going to take care of us each day, Scripture never promises us an easy life. In fact, Jesus tells us to expect troubled times.

How can I be reasonably happy in a life that’s often filled with difficulties?

The key word here is “reasonably” which by definition means: moderately. So to be moderately happy, is to be in the middle, not excessively happy or excessively sad; balanced.

Most of us want to live on the mountaintop, in the exciting times of life. But life is filled with peaks and valleys. Life is balanced with happy and sad times.

There is a time for everything,
and everything on earth has its special season.
There is a time to be born
and a time to die.
There is a time to plant
and a time to pull up plants.
There is a time to kill
and a time to heal.
There is a time to destroy
and a time to build.
There is a time to cry
and a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad
and a time to dance.
There is a time to throw away stones
and a time to gather them.
There is a time to hug
and a time not to hug.
There is a time to look for something
and a time to stop looking for it.
There is a time to keep things
and a time to throw things away.
There is a time to tear apart
and a time to sew together.
There is a time to be silent
and a time to speak.
There is a time to love
and a time to hate.
There is a time for war
and a time for peace. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

We must also consider that happiness is related to happenings. Where as joy is a deeper emotion that is available to us even when outward circumstances may warrant different reactions. True joy is not about situations but rather a spiritual component. The Bible tell us that joy is a fruit, a by product, of the Holy Spirit’s work in our life.

The secret to being REASONABLY HAPPY lies in The Serenity Prayer itself…
    1. SERENITY comes when we accept the things we cannot change.
    2. COURAGE comes when we step out to change the things we can.
    3. WISDOM comes as we seek God’s guidance.
    4. LIVING each day as it comes, pressing forward step by step.
    5. ENJOYING each moment as if it were our last.
    6. ACCEPTING that hardships will lead me to the Prince of Peace.
    7. TAKING the world as it is because I can’t change it or other people.
    8. IT’S NOT MY WORLD to change but God’s in His perfect timing.
    9. TRUSTING GOD will make everything turn out for good in His plan.
    10. SURRENDERING my will to God’s perfect will and purpose.

As we purposely walk out these steps of The Serenity Prayer we will begin to experience the reasonable happiness that God has for us.

Let’s enjoy some everyday Happiness NOW with this great Ayesha Woods video.