Category: Restoration


“…and they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the words of their testimony.”

Don’t let the enemy rob you of your testimony. He wants to convince you to give up in the midst of the battle. He understand that through Christ you already have the victory as long as you stand.

As he paints his illusionistic portraits of negativity and despair his purpose is to distort the view of faith. If he can get you to believe his lie you will not retain the testimony of God’s deliverance. Listen, their is no trial, temptation, heartache, valley or pit that you can find yourself in that God has not already planned your deliverance. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy. Don’t accept the negative report of the enemy.

He will tell you that the prolonged length of your struggle is an indication of your failure, when the Word of God has revealed repetitively that struggle has no deadline and delay in deliverance is not indicative of denial of delivery or absence of faith. God has set a path and much of it is appointed for the duration and nothing you do will expedite the situation. Abraham waited 25 years before the fulfillment of the promise. The Children of Israel waited centuries for their deliverance from the Egyptians. Joseph, before them, waited thirteen years before the vision became reality. I could go on. What I can tell you is that the longer the delay, the greater the destiny.

Hold on to your testimony for dear life. Your testimony is a powerful weapon in combating the enemy. Your testimony speaks the powerful words of victory and deliverance. It is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). Hold on to your testimony with all that is within you.

You will overcome, just hold on to your faith and your testimony. They both have power. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

Lord Heal

Lord, there is someone hurting today. Someone has been left to bear a most pressing burden on their own; lift that burden and give them rest. Someone has been seized by the unbearable pain of abandonment; hold them in your arms and caress away the hurt. Someone is perplexed by the enigmatic conundrums that seem to plague their lives; simply this moment so that they can exhale.

Lord, somebody is at the point of giving up, shine a light into their darkness so that they may see that they are standing on the edge of a breakthrough. Lord someone has been convinced that their life is not worth living, reveal the cross so they will see that you thought so much of their life that you gave yours to save it. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

November 5, 2012
Be My Portion, Part 2
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him” – (Lamentations 3:24, ESV).

Friend to Friend
I sometimes run to God as if He’s a celestial Wal-Mart purposed to satisfy my every want. Change my family. Fix my job problem, God. Do it my way! Instead of leaning in to hear the whispered will of the Lord, I selfishly shout my will, my desires and my demands. Lord, give me relief from life-pressures instead of giving me strength to endure them. When I’m desperate to fill my mega-sized heart-cart with things that I want, I rob myself of what really matters: the pursuit of God and the blessings found in Him alone.

The truth is that even those of us who are Jesus-girls, you know… good Christian women who strive each day to live for Christ… continually sin and wallow in the shallow, unsatisfying waters of discontentment. We tell God what we’d like Him to do for us so we can be happy and then expect Him to intervene in ways that suit us. We blur the lines between our wants and our needs – between our plans and God’s plans.

In part one of this devotion, we were reminded to rest in God. We looked at His care of the sparrows, considered that God loves us even more than he does the birds of the air, and were challenged not to worry. Today, we focus on prioritizing God above all else. Matthew 6:33 instructs us to seek God first: to look to Him as our Ultimate. Our Portion. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33, ESV)

David modeled this beautifully when he called out to God in the midst of trouble and recognized Him as being enough. I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5). In Psalm 119, the psalmist recognizes God as his portion and takes the moment of surrender a step further by tethering his satisfaction with obedience. You are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to obey your words. I have soughtyour face with all my heart; be gracious to meaccording to your promise (Psalm 119:57-58).

Life is unpredictable. There will always be days that we want to yell, C’mon, God! Throw me a bone here! I could use a little help, please! It is not a bad thing to call to God in the midst of our struggles. In fact, we should! We must! The big game changer, however, is not God’s presents – but His presence. Refuge from our circumstances and contentment in the midst of them is found in the center of our surrender.

So what’s the connection point between our longings and His provision? Perhaps the better question is not what but who? The late pastor and theologian Charles Spurgeon said it this way, “It is not ‘The Lord is partly my portion,’ nor ‘The Lord is in my portion’; but He Himself makes up the sum total of my soul’s inheritance. Within the circumference of that circle lies all that we possess or desire. The Lord is my portion. Not His grace merely, nor His love, nor His covenant, but Yahweh himself.”[i]

Once again, Spurgeon hits the nail on the head. We are distracted cravers when we expect our people, places and things to fill our hearts as only God can. God loves us so much. Why do we forget this all the time? His plan is perfect and we can trust Him. He knows our needs and desires. When we seek Him as the answer instead of for the answer, God enables us to rest in confidence that He’s working on our behalf and in our best interest, to bring glory to Himself through our lives.

Set your list of wants aside today and seek God. Go before Him with a heart of worship and adoration. Get lost in His presence. Remember His mercy. Relish His grace. Love Him. Seek Him. Choose Him as your Portion.

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, Please be my Portion. Forgive me for the times when I seek Your blessings before I seek Your heart. You are all I need. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen.

November 2, 2012
Be My Portion, Part 1
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” – (Lamentations 3:24, ESV)

Friend to Friend
I am a lot of things, but low maintenance is not necessarily one of them. Straight up, I am a girl with some constant cravings. Though I do try to savor life moments with gratitude, I fail all the time. Many days, I find myself looking beyond my now to my next, longing in discontent. I seek God’s blessings instead of seeking God. I seek His hand instead of His heart. This frazzles my peace and messes with my joy. It tangles my heart in knots until I begin to dance through my days to the tune of, “I can’t get no satisfaction!”

Why do we desire God’s presents in our lives more than His presence? Does God need us to tell Him how to be God? Isn’t that what we do when we stomp our feet before His throne and whine about all of the things that need fixing instead of praising Him for the strength He graciously gives us to get through? While we’re certainly encouraged by Scripture to make our requests known to the Father (Philippians 4:6), the highest calling on our lives is to love God with all of our hearts, souls, bodies and minds (Matthew 22:37). We can do both, but we are commanded to seek God first: to look to Him as our Ultimate. Our Portion.

Asaph wrote Psalm 73 with a lot on his mind. He was flustered about all the bad people around him. He wondered why God wasn’t smacking them around for being so wretched and was struggling to keep his eyes on his own life. (Sound familiar?) Then his woes turned to worship as he entered into the sanctuary of God (v17). His heart began to untangle as he remembered God’s sovereignty. In Psalm 73:26, he finally landed in a good place. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heartand my portion forever.

He took a deep breath and found his God-confidence.
Oh, how I can relate to that!

The Bible shows us time and time again that when we prioritize God – when we look to Him to be our Portion – we are supernaturally equipped to rest in Him. Do you remember that old hymn His Eye Is On The Sparrow? Girlfriend, God doesn’t miss a trick. He knows what’s going on.

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘what will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today(Matthew 6:30-34, NLT).

If divine eyes rest on tiny sparrows and flowers of the fields, how much more are the needs and desires of God’s children known to Him?

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, Would You be my Portion today? Help me to trust Your plan and rest in Your grace – beyond what I see or feel. In Jesus’s name, amen.

November 1, 2012
Raising Your Expectations
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” (John 10:10 NIV).

Friend to Friend
When I was in my early twenties, I did not have great expectations for what my marriage would be like, if I ever walked the aisle at all. My parents had a tumultuous relationship from my earliest remembrance. Cycles of heated arguments and physical violence followed by silence and passive aggression were as predictable as the seasons. The atmosphere in our home was tense. It was as if I lived on an earthquake fault line, never knowing when the “big one” was going to hit. There were many “big ones.”

I became a Christian when I was fourteen and resolved that if I ever got married, it would be to a man who loved Jesus with all his heart. Through the years, I dated many Christian young men. In my young mind, most of them were not very much fun.

So I had a conversation with God that went something like this: “OK God, if I ever get married, it will be to a Christian man. I’m committed to that. I won’t give a guy a second glance unless he is a man who loves You with all his heart. It is not enough for him to say that he is a Christian. I want to see it in the way he lives his life, the way he uses his words, and the way he relates to other people. I’m going to pay attention to what he laughs at, what he watches on television, and how he handles anger. I know what I’m asking here. I know what I’m getting into. I realize that I most likely won’t feel very passionate about this guy. I know that my life will probably be rather dull, boring, and lackluster. But that’s OK. I’m holding out for a Christian man, no matter how humdrum and ho-hum he may be. If I like him pretty well, that’s enough for me.”

Oh my goodness! Talk about low expectations! I’m sure God got a big kick out of my request.

Here’s what happened several years after that “prayer.”  When I was twenty-two, I returned to college to further my education. A young man from my hometown had a Bible study at his apartment and invited me to attend.  When I walked in, I saw a young dental student sitting cross-legged on the floor and leaning up against the wall. His dark chocolate eyes looked up at me as he said, “Hi.” I melted in a puddle.

After a few weeks, Steve finally asked me out on a date. But the venue of our rendezvous confirmed what I had expected all along.

“There is a missionary from Jackson, Mississippi speaking over at Murphy Hall,” he explained. “I’d like to go hear him. Would you like to go with me?”

Well that certainly lined up with my expectations! Steve was handsome; no doubt about that. He was a Christian, that was for sure. But going to hear a missionary on our first date? He was going to be boring after all. But hey, what did I expect? (Now remember, I was young. I love missionaries! I am one! Just keeping it real.)

When he came to pick me up for our date, I wasn’t quite ready. My apartment mate welcomed him and directed him to the sofa to wait. While he perused the scattered magazines on the coffee table, some of my favorite music played on the stereo. In the South, we call it beach music. It’s a type of 60s R&B Motown music.

When I finally emerged from my primping, Steve looked up and asked, “Do you like that kind of music?”

“Sure do,” I replied. (I must say I said it with an attitude of “and you gotta problem with that?”)

“I do too,” Steve said. “I have an entire collection. Do you know how to Shag (a traditional Southern dance similar to a slow version of the Swing)?

I think I heard God laugh.

“I’ve been dancing the Shag since I was in the fifth grade,” I said.

“Let’s see if we do it the same way,” he said as he grabbed my hand.

For twenty minutes, we separated and came together as if we had been dancing together all our lives. He held my hand up and I spun under. He pulled me in and then rolled me out like a scroll. His shuffle kick mirrored my own.

You know what? We did go and hear the missionary on that crisp fall night in 1979. And afterwards, we went to a favorite college hangout on the Campus of UNC the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and danced until the doors closed. We had fun, and we haven’t stopped having fun yet. We have grown in God’s grace, and we’ve graced the dance floor. Steve is the mostfunnest guy I have ever known, and he loves the Lord with all his heart. And to think I actually was ready to settle for a just a nice Christian guy. God exceeded my expectations beyond all I ever could have asked or imagined.

But this isn’t just about my love story with Steve. It is about my love story with Jesus. It is about yours too. And like my silly twenty-something prayer for a mediocre-but-nice husband, I fear we have lowered our expectations in our relationship with God. He longs for an intimacy with us that ushers in a deep abiding joy, but I’m afraid we’ve settled for simply nice.

Are you ready to raise your expectations in your relationship with Jesus? Oh sister, He got so much to show you, to tell you, to share with you. Don’t settle for “just nice.” Jesus is much more exciting than that!

Let’s Pray
Dear Jesus, forgive me for having such low expectations in our relationship. I know that You came to give me abundant life, not a so-so life. Today, I’m raising my expectations of life to line up with Your word. I’m expecting the abundant life that  You came to give!
In Your Name,
Amen

“They that sew in tears shall reap in joy.” (Ps. 126:5).

I know that you are going through some dark times in your life right now. It seems that the more you press the deeper you sink into your pit. I just want to stop by and let you know that God responds to the tears of His saints. The scripture says that those that sew in tears shall reap in joy.

Your tears are temporary, but they are compelling the movement of God in your situation. God told Moses, “I have heard the cries of my people in Egypt…I have come to deliver them.” I just want you to know that if you need to shed some tears right now, its okay. Just know that God is about to show up and bust a move in your life.

My Bible tells me that weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Well, my friend, God sent me to tell you that morning is near. The sun is dawning just over the mountain top. Hold on with all that you have in you, for God is about move in the midst of your mess. He is about to rescue from the darkness of depression and establish you on the platform of promotion. Your broken heart is about to be mended and set ablaze with a passion for praise.

So, go ahead and cry if you must, God is about to personally wipe every one of those tears from your eyes. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

October 24, 2012
How to Manage Emotions Part 2
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. – (Proverbs 25:28, NIV).

Friend to Friend
Many people are imprisoned by feelings of inferiority, and the results are always disastrous. Constructive criticism is perceived as an emotional attack. Jealousy burgeons as others receive the accolades we desperately crave. Decisions are made and the course of a life is determined so that fragile egos are fed, excluding God’s plan and purpose. Comparison reigns as a false idol attempting to validate worth and success. Inferiority crosses over to pride, and sin reigns. It is time for us to take control of and learn how to manage negative emotions.

Step one:Identify the source of negative emotions. Proverbs 23:7 (NIV) reminds us of a simple but powerful truth, “For as a man thinks, so is he.” Negative emotions are nourished in many ways – by daily challenges, a painful past, hurt or rejection, an undisciplined thought life or Satan himself. Some people qualify as “carriers” because they not only transmit negative emotions but constantly use others as their personal dumping ground.  In managing negative emotions, it is imperative that we identify their source and eliminate it.

Step two: Label negative emotions correctly. We are masters at mislabeling emotions because we fear exposing our true emotions will affect the way others see us. It is time for us to take off and burn the emotional masks we wear because healing and restoration begin at the point of emotional integrity.

Step three: Learn to manage emotions. It is not enough to acknowledge the presence of negative emotions or even understand why they exist. We must take action because if we don’t, negative emotions will. We must not only be able to manage negative emotions, but we must be able to respond correctly to negative emotions produced by the sometimes abrasive behavior of others. The people in our lives watch carefully, curious to see what happens when the pressure is on. Our prayer should be the same as the psalmist, “Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires” (Psalm 51:10).

On the other hand, we can put negative emotions to work in our lives. Emotions can be like runaway horses.  You are trampled by someone with a hidden agenda, kicked in the gut by a friend, thrown by the lies of a family member or crushed by a lack of integrity and character in those in authority over you. Emotions can easily stampede out of control and into sin.

The success of emotional integrity lies in the one who holds the reins. We must constantly choose to surrender every emotion to the supernatural control of God because when we do, the Holy Spirit empowers that choice, produces control and transforms emotional bondage into emotional freedom. Learning to control anger is a crucial life lesson. The people around us want to see what happens when life pushes our buttons or squeezes our emotions. While God created us with the capacity for emotions, it is our responsibility to control them instead of allowing them to control us.

When Jesus saw money-changers desecrating the temple of God, He was furious! Yet, He modeled the right way to harness emotions and use them for good. I have heard many Bible teachers and preachers attempt to soften the response of Jesus, but the truth is – He was irate! I can almost see His face shrouded in plain old fury as He contemplated His options. If I had been in His place, I can tell you that those wicked men would have been toast, but before Jesus faced the intruders, He stepped aside to braid a whip, not because He had completed “Whip Braiding 101,” but because He was taking the time to harness His emotions. Jesus then used that harnessed anger to drive the money-changers out of the temple, correcting a wrong. We choose where to invest every ounce of emotional energy we possess. Like Jesus, we must learn to invest wisely, in order to reap the benefits of healthy emotions, harnessed and trained by godly discipline.

Emotional bankruptcy is too often responsible for the destruction of our emotional health as well as the health of our relationships. When we value success over obedience or comfort over character, the result is a life without balance and purpose. We must intentionally monitor emotional withdrawals and the impact they will have on the life journey to which God has called us.

Daily life provides the opportunity for countless emotional withdrawals that are good, right and ordained by God. I will never forget the night we found a broken and defeated young pastor standing at our front door. With tears streaming down his face, he told us his wife was having an affair and wanted a divorce. Certain that his ministry was doomed, this precious and gifted servant poured out his pain and defeat. For months, Dan and I ministered to this stellar young man, loving him, encouraging him, making him part of our family while he tried desperately to save his marriage.

When it became clear that his wife was determined to leave, we repeatedly assured him that God would once again use him for Kingdom work. Today, that once broken young man is married to a beautiful, godly woman who adores him and they have three incredible children. The church he now pastors is exploding in growth, changing lives and impacting the world for Jesus Christ! The time and energy we poured into this young man was a worthy emotional investment, to say the least, and one of our greatest blessings in ministry.

However, some emotional deposits are not good, right, healthy or God-ordained. Each day is jam-packed with lifeless places in which we can invest emotional energy. There are those who look to us to be their faithful savior or an always available crisis manager. Those roles belong to God alone.

We all know about bounced checks. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why banks don’t adopt my obviously superior philosophy about checking accounts. It goes something like this, “As long as there are checks, there is money.” Sadly, my current bank is rather narrow-minded in this area, so the reality is that our checks will bounce when our bank account is overdrawn and out of balance. The same is true in life.

We constantly need to check our emotional balance, guarding the emotional withdrawals we allow and diligently making consistent emotional deposits. Prayer, solitude, Bible study, friendships, service, accountability and a guarded thought life are just a few of the deposits that can make the difference between emotional health and emotional bankruptcy. Paul says it well, “God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing” (Ephesians 2:10, NCV). In other words, we need to do what God has called us to do – period.

Emotional imbalance occurs when we operate in our own strength, doing our “own thing” instead of wholly depending upon God and living in the parameters of His will. When we abandon all that we are to His strength, purpose and power, the Father deposits everything we need to accomplish every good work He created us to do.

Let’s Pray
Father, I praise You for giving me the gift of emotions. Please help me learn how to manage and control those emotions so that they are assets instead of liabilities. I want to become a godly woman of discipline, but I can’t even start that journey without your power. I choose to spend time in Your Word and in prayer. I submit my emotions to You and ask that You use them in my life for Your glory. In Jesus’s name, amen.

In this series, we have been discussing the need of emotional healing and the process for healing. As with most progressions in this ethereal journey of Christianity, emotional healing is a process. In discussing healing it is important to truly understand what healing means and to do so we will deal with it in the physical sense initially.

 

Many people confuse being cured with being healed. This is one of the reasons many people never experience true healing; they get trapped in the cured state. Being cured is experiencing the elimination of the source and symptoms of an illness, whereas being healed means being restored to the original state of existence before the illness originated. Let’s use cancer for example. When an illness as devastating as cancer enters the life of a person, it brings with it more than the physical challenges of the illness itself, but it brings psychological, emotional and spiritual challenges as well. It can challenge your faith, strain your relationships (including your relationship with God), disrupt your finances, and so much more.

 

When a cancer patient finally wins their battle with the disease, it is just the beginning of the healing process. There has to be a recovery and restoration from the damage that the disease caused. The cure brought relief and healing will bring restoration. Healing brings the positioning to reengage life in full capacity of your God given potential.

 

Now, let’s translate this into emotional healing. When you are emotionally damaged because of past hurts, disappointments and emotional assault, the first thing is to bring relief from the situation. This begins with removing yourself from the hostile environment and then forgiving and releasing the culprit from their debt to you. Now the healing process begins. This is where God begins to add back to you all that the assailant robbed you of: Self-esteem, self-worth, identity, purpose, vision, sense of destiny and more. So, in essence, being cured is the elimination of the source and symptoms and healing is being made whole.

 

What I want to speak with you about today is identity. What and who are you identifying yourself with? How are you viewing your situation? All of this carries immense weight in the healing process.

 

When a person has suffered emotional abuse, they have become disconnected from the true source of their identity, Christ. Through the malevolent treatment by others, they have been conditioned to identify with what that treatment implies or in many cases what their perpetrator has said concerning them. In reconnecting with the true source of their identity, this person is reconnected with their purpose and destiny. This is not an overnight process and dependent upon the length and extent of the abuse, this can be a lengthy process. The one thing to understand is that God is more than able to reach down into the deepest pit to rescue and restore anyone willing to call on His name.

 

John 8:32 says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” What truth is in view here? The true source of your identity, Christ. The only true revelation of self, the Holy Spirit. The only one that will never forsake you, God the Father. It is the reunion and sometimes the introduction to the only one that has the power to bring you to the fullness of your purpose.

 

The secondary truth is the truths that these initial truths will reveal. When you become acquainted with the source of your identity, you become aware that this identity comes with some extremely powerful assets. Becoming acquainted with your identity reminds you that you are more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37). Identifying with Christ assures you that you are a special, unique, chosen and ordained person; personally chosen by God to proclaim His Greatness (1 Pet. 2:9). This new identity bears with it the knowledge that its bearing has been grafted you into the Royal family of God and has given you eternal security within the family. This identity brings knowledge of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and all the power associated with it.

 

Identity is a powerful force. That which you identify with establishes your path, approach, perspective and ultimately, your destiny.

 

Paul said, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, behold all this of the old man have passed away, and all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17). Stop believing the lies of the enemy; stop accepting his erroneous assessments of you. God has established you as a new creation. As Satan attempts to remind you of your past; its hurts, disappointments, and failures, God desires to erase the negative impressions of the past that are so heavily engrained in your psyche. He desires to restore you. He simply needs to you seek Him and surrender to Him so that He can begin His work in you.

 

One of the greatest hindrances to this part of the healing process is the natural proclivity to conceal the past due to embarrassment and shame; however, there is great power in sharing your past struggles. First, it lifts the burden of carrying something that is too heavy for you to carry. Second, it allows others to see God’s ability to transform and heal. While you are healing you are also giving hope to others. Find your identity in Christ and allow that identity to bring restoration. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

October 16, 2012

Master Designer
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
For he [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10, New English).

Friend to Friend
Our son was born to be a builder. From the time he could hold a plastic red hammer in his toddler-sized hands, Jered began hammering imaginary nails into the coffee table, fixing everything that was broken in our house, and drawing crayon blueprints of various objects he planned to build. No wooden surface in our home was safe from Jered’s scrutiny or design.

Since my husband enjoyed woodworking as a hobby, he decided to build Jered a miniature workbench beside his own in the garage. Several nights each week, Dan and Jered headed out to the garage to pound and hammer and do what they called “man stuff.” I thought it was cute – a philosophy that would drastically change in the years to come.

I knew we had a true builder on our hands when Jered built a clubhouse inside our garage. And what a clubhouse it was – complete with four walls, a roof, windows and a door, carpeted flooring and a window air conditioning unit – all of which he scrounged from neighbors, dumpsters and piles of discarded wood at construction sites. He built a jewelry box for my birthday and a toy box that held his prized Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If we needed storage cabinets in our garage, Jered drew up blueprints and built them. When we moved to a house with small bedrooms, Jered designed and built a queen-sized bunk bed over a built-in desk and book shelves to conserve space in his room. We no longer bought furniture. Jered simply built it. Looking back, I did not realize that those crayon blueprints and plastic tools would pave the way for our son’s career. Today, he owns his own construction business and is a master carpenter and builder.

Jered reminds me of another young man who was destined to become a builder – Jesus. Jesus’s earthly father, Joseph, was a carpenter by trade and taught Jesus everything he knew about being a master carpenter. It was not uncommon for the son to carry on his father’s business in those days. I often wonder if Jesus didn’t have a little workbench beside Joseph’s. I am sure Jesus must have followed His daddy around, hammering alongside His father’s true blows. I imagine Joseph had to remove a few stray nails driven by Jesus and even repair a few of his Son’s “jobs.” Did Jesus make a jewelry box for His mother or did He build a piece of furniture that Mary treasured like I treasure everything Jered has ever built for our home? Jesus was and is the ultimate Architect and Builder.

Yes, God is the Master Creator, but His greatest creations are not made of wood or stone. Jesus was and is the creator of eternal masterpieces like you and me. His blueprint for our lives is second to none. His plan is the Word of God and is without flaw or error as it molds us into the image of God – a process that is sometimes painful.

I once promised myself that I would never buy a house that could be described as a “fixer-upper.” I don’t like fixing things. I want everything to be fixed before I move in. But there I was, buying a town house that needed so much work even the realtor couldn’t believe my husband and I wanted to buy it. Why didn’t someone stop me? No one did, so the sale was made, and we went to work. Actually, my son and husband went to work while I went crazy.
I had no idea how horrible the process of remodeling could be. Layer after layer of dirt, grime, stains and ugliness was stripped away. Rotten kitchen cabinets were torn from the walls, and rusty appliances were replaced. We basically gutted the whole place and rebuilt it – while living in it. I was not happy!

I will never forget the day I woke up to see a toilet sitting at the foot of our bed. It was at that moment I resolved to never set foot in another house that required so much work. I am so thankful God does not feel that way about me.

Honestly, I used to wonder why God didn’t just demolish the old me and build a new one. Then He did just that – through a two-year battle with clinical depression. While sitting at the bottom of that deep, dark and slimy pit, the Father lovingly stripped away old fears and insecurities. From the walls of my heart, He tore the rotten attitudes, undisciplined thoughts and unholy desires that had walked me to the edge of my pit – then pushed me in. He replaced rusty old dreams with new ones and basically, gutted my life to build a new one, a better one, and a stronger one.

I know there are days when the plan of God seems completely wrong and we simply do not understand. Every moment is pregnant with darkness, and our hearts are numb, paralyzed by fear and doubt. We are treading water in the storm-tossed sea of life, desperately longing to see Him walking on the treacherous waves toward us, rescue in His hand. It is in those shadowed moments that we must choose to trust the Plan Maker, the Master Designer, even though our faith is small, and we cannot understand the plan. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And one day, every one of our question marks will be yanked into exclamation points as we see that high plan as He sees it – perfect.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

Today, girlfriend, set aside your meager agenda. Lay down your limited life arrangement and look for God to meet you at the point of surrender, power and victory in His hands. Now that is a great plan.

I want each of you to pick up your iPhones, EVO’s, and all of those other smart phones, turn off the screen until its dark and then look at your reflection in that iPhone and I want you to tell yourself, “Self, I am coming out and I am coming out with my hands up! I coming out of every dark situation with my hands held high in victory. God has promised that he would deliver me.I am coming out of the trap of selfish ambitions.
I am coming out of depression.
I am coming out of low self-esteem.
I am coming out of financial difficulty.
I am coming out of this abusive relationship.
I am coming out of confusion and despair.
i am coming out of subpar living
I am coming out of the sphere of dwarfed goals
I am coming out of weak moments and poor decisionsLook to God and tell Him that you glory in His name and you rest in the promises of His Word. Self, I know that God has something for me, for His Word says that Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the hearts of men all of the things that God has prepared for those that wait on Him. Self, hold on a little while longer, the breakthrough is coming. Self, settle yourself into the peace that transcends all understanding and wait for the flow of God’s awesome power to reach into this situation. Self, I am coming out. I coming out with my praise in tact. I am coming out with my joy in place. I am coming out with my song ever refreshed in my soul. I coming out with a new testimony. I am coming out with new wings to soar. I am coming with a Dance like David’s. I am coming out with vision and purpose in view.

Praise God.

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