God Heals the Wounded

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

It is impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of hurt or heartache. Some hurts are emotional or psychological and some wounds are surface level while others are deep seated. Some human beings are naturally more resilient than others, so it is hard to measure types of hurt and try to determine how it will affect people. Two people can go through the same experience and both respond to it differently. It is hard to tell what makes some people more resilient or to determine why some people are better able to cope.

Whatever the hurt, God is invested in mending and providing healing. I didn’t always understand that God cares about my emotions and I once felt that he was too busy to be bothered with my heartache. I later learnt that God also cares about the matters of our hearts and our emotional well-being. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Not only does God care about our heartache, but he is close to us when we are hurting.

It is sometimes the people that are close to us who cause us the most heartache. David said, “For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him” (Psalm 55:12). In this passage David was lamenting about the betrayal of a friend who he used to confide in. We have to trust our emotions to God and trust God when we cannot trust other people. We learn the lesson, try to make better choices and try to be more selective when making decisions about significant relationships.

The best thing is to allow God to choose our friends and those people who he wants us to be close to. We have to also surrender our hurts to Jesus so that we do not become hardened as this can lead us to hurting others. God is not like people and a difficult relationship with a parent can affect our ability to trust God. God is a good father and even if our parents forsake us then the Lord will take care of us.

“For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord, because they have called you an outcast: ‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares’” (Jeremiah 30:17)!

A.P.-Y.

God Directs

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).

This scripture in Proverbs speaks to the idea of favour and God’s ability to cause persons in positions of authority to consider you favourably. When we consider the story of Esther, from the time when she was a captive in Babylon, God prepared the heart of the King to turn towards her. When Haman wanted to kill all of the Jews and Esther called a fast, as the people prayed God worked on the heart of the King. God would allow the King’s heart to soften towards Esther so that she would gain favour with him.

There were times in scripture when God hardened the heart of Kings or the Pharoah in Egypt in order to gain glory for himself. “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so” (Exodus 14:4). In this case, God knew that Pharoah was stubborn and hard hearted. God used his own weakness and nature against him to demonstrate that he was not in complete control.

We do not have many kings in this time, but we can use this scripture to represent anyone in a position of power and authority. It is up to God to determine if your leaders will submit to his will and allow you to find favour with them. Some leaders will submit to the will and purpose of God and he will use them to establish his plans. Other leader who are stiff-necked and stubborn will face the consequences of their hard heartedness. This often demonstrates a heart that is already hardened towards God and these leaders will face the judgment of God.

Nothing happens which is outside of God’s control and his children are the apple of his eyes. God is concerned about our affairs and he does not want us to face difficulties and bad treatment. He will turn the hearts of leaders towards you and cause you to have favour. For those leaders who will not submit, God can move them out of your sphere of influence. God will then raise up another leader who will establish his will and purpose.

“but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another”(Psalm 75:7).

A.P.-Y.

Mercy Obtains Mercy

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Jesus shared the parable of a servant who owed ten talents to a King who wished to settle his accounts. “And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made” (Matthew 18:25). The servant fell on his knees and begged the King to have mercy on him and give him time to make the payment. The King conceded and agreed to forgive him the debt. After this conversation with the King, the servant met a fellow servant who owed him significantly less. The servant owed him just one hundred denarii. Now one talent is 6,000 denarii so he was forgiven by the King for a lot more.

The fellow servant begged him to give him time to repay. The servant started choking the fellow servant and demanded that he pay and when he could not pay, had him put in prison until he could pay. Other servants saw what this unforgiving servant did and reported him to the master. “Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me” (Matthew 18:32). The master scolded the servant that he should have had mercy on his fellow servant in the same way that he had been shown mercy. The King was so angry that he had the servant thrown in jail until he could pay his debt.

“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35). Jesus shared this parable with Peter in response to his question about forgiveness. Jesus told Peter that we need to forgive each other seventy times seven. We forgive because God has forgiven us and has placed all of our sins into the sea of forgetfulness and remembers them no more. God does not hold our past against us, neither does he hold unto what we have done.

Forgiveness is not easy and we have to forgive people who are not even sorry about what they did. We do not forgive for the benefit of that other person, but we forgive to set ourselves free from bitterness. Holding unto bitterness is allowing the person to continue to hurt us over and over again. This is because bitterness and resentment harms us and not the person who we are angry toward.

“and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12).

A.P.-Y.

Uncommon Favour

“So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:4).

Solomon’s encouragement in Proverbs is for us to remain faithful to God and allow his love to remain in our hearts. This recipe Solomon concludes, leads to activating the favour of the Lord and leads to good success. God wants us to show love because he is love. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). As we enter this season of uncommon favour, let us be perfected in love so that we do not have enmity towards others. We cannot say that we love God who we cannot see if we do not love those who we can see.

Some people are difficult to love and the difficult people are often the ones who are most in need of love. We can love our way into our blessings and a wealthy place of rest. God will lavish his blessings on those who are full of love because he can be sure that we will be willing to do his will. “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor” (Proverbs 22:9). The kingdom principle around increase relates to sowing and reaping. We sow into God’s kingdom and we expect a harvest which is multiplied. We have to love people to want to sow and be able to see the needs of others over our own.

God says it is more blessed to give than to receive because those who give will never be in need. “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). The scriptures do not lie and God means every word written by the prophets. Love one another, be kind and considerate and demonstrate to God that he can trust you with abundance.

God wants to bless us in the same way that parents want to be good to their children. God wants us to be good stewards of his blessings so that he can trust us to be a blessing to others. Being perfected in love will open uncommon doors of favour. As we lay aside the weights of sin that would keep us bound, we soar to new heights and territories in Christ Jesus.

A.P.-Y

Managing Difficult Emotions

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Yesterday we explored the dangers of anger and how if left unchecked can lead to sinful behaviours. Today I want us to explore how to manage those difficult and harmful emotions that can affect our relationships. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). James felt that a good remedy for handling difficult emotions was confession. Most of our churches don’t practice confessionals in the same way that the churches did in the Old Testament. However, there is a place for godly relationships with people who we can be open and honest with and who can hold us accountable.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need” (Proverbs 17:17). We need people in our lives who can be honest with us when our emotions lead to behaviours that are toxic and dysfunctional. We need to be open to listen and do the self-examination in order to correct and amend our ways. Solomon said in Proverbs, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). If your friend is sincere then you know that you can trust their feedback. You also trust that your friend loves you enough to tell you the truth because they want the best for you.

In addition to friends, we need to submit to spiritual authority and leadership. David had the council of the prophet Nathan to correct him when he fell into sin. “Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife” (2 Samuel 12:9). Once David was confronted, he was immediately repentant. It helped that David was not defensive and he did not retaliate against Nathan. “Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin” (2 Samuel 12:13).

The story of David is an extreme case of the result of unchecked emotions of envy, jealousy and lust. This led to deception and murder in order to cover up his sin. Despite how depraved the sin was that David committed, he repented before God, prayed with sincerity and gained forgiveness. In summary, some of the ways to handle difficult emotions are to confess them to someone who God has placed in your life; be open to feedback and examine what is being said to see if it is meant to hurt you or to protect you from hurting yourself or others. Prayer and repentance is the main thing that we need to do with unhealthy emotions. God will heal and restore you from your place of brokenness and the Holy Spirit will give you the grace to avoid acting upon these emotions.

A.P.-Y.

Give No Place

“And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness]” (Ephesians 4:27).

We know that the devil is the accuser of the brethren and Paul spoke in his letter to the Ephesians about the dangers of anger which leads to sin. The letter says, ‘be angry but do not sin.’ In other words the emotion of anger itself is not sinful but if we act upon the feelings of anger, then we have acted sinfully. Some of the behaviours that result from anger are retaliation against others, filthy communication and taking vengeance. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”” (Romans 12:19).

I know that it is not easy to take insults and ill-treatment from others without the desire to retaliate. We have to remember that we do not war in the flesh and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4). “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). As hard as it is, we have to keep this in mind when people are coming against us. We take the fight out of the flesh and take it into the realms of the spirit. The devil will try to keep us in the flesh because he will wear us out and beat us every time.

We do not have the physical strength to win earthly battles and the days when the people of God waged physical wars are in the Old Testament. Even then, the men of God relied on heavenly intelligence and strategies to give them an advantage over the enemy. If we struggle with anger and it remains unresolved then it leads to bitterness. Bitterness and resentment separates us from God and hinders our prayers. “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). We have to forgive if we want to be forgiven and remember that God does not hold our sins against us.

It is not easy when we are hurt by others, especially when they are unrepentant. This is when we have to pray for them because it is difficult to forgive them without the grace of God. If we struggle with anger and bitterness, we have to ask the Holy Spirit to show us the root causes. We often treat the fruits when some emotions are deep rooted. We can carry roots of anger from our childhood and hold bitterness towards our parents for example. This can result from abuse, neglect or disappointment. The reality is that if we do not resolve these hurts then we will transfer these emotions into other relationships.

Tell God where it hurts and trust him to heal you. My Dad always says that, ‘God is a healer of mind and emotions.’ In the same way that we need physical healing for ailments when we are ill, we also need emotional healing from past hurts. Some emotional wounds if left untreated can also result in physical ailments. The Holy Spirit will show us where we have unhealed wounds and he will reveal in order to heal.

A.P.-Y.

Timeless Faith

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

Paul speaks in Hebrews about faith and recalls the stories of many heroes of faith in the bible. We know that we need faith to believe and serve God and our faith increases through hearing the word of God. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). The stories are recalled from Abel who trusted God and offered a better sacrifice than Cain to Abraham who was the father of faith. Cain envied his brother although he was unwilling to make the same sacrifice which his brother made in order to receive from God. Although Abel died, he is still considered a hero of faith because his heart was pure before God.

God made a promise to Abraham that his children would be many as the sand of the sea. What is significant for me is that Paul pointed out that many of the promises that God shared with these men were not seen in their lifetime. Yet they died with the hope that what God had promised would come to pass. We know now that the Jews have expanded and the descendants of Abraham grew and did great exploits for God.

Abraham received the promise of Isaac and also conceived Ishmael. This was the hope for Abraham that God would keep the seed of his generation for thousands of years. All those who serve God have also been grafted into Abraham’s family. The man who was childless for over ninety years is the father of many nations. God also made covenants and promises to David concerning his children and kept his vow not to destroy his kingdom. This was despite the disobedience of his children which grieved God. When David received the prophecy concerning his family, he praised God and gave him glory. This is because he believed every word spoken.

John the Baptist was the New Testament prophet who prepared the way for Jesus. John did not live to see the work that Jesus did as he was beheaded after his arrest. Yet John lived to declare with conviction the entrance of Jesus Christ and prophesied concerning what he was here in earth to do. The faith of these prophets transcended time and they did not wait to see the physical manifestations before they took hold and believed. God is not a man that he would lie and if he has promised, it will come to pass.

“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it” (Hebrews 4:1).

A.P.-Y.

Work Out Your Salvation

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he cautions them to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling before God. The matter of working out one’s salvation relates to understanding and knowing who God is and serving him with reverence. Our fear of God is not a dreadful fear as we are his children. God is loving, gracious, kind and forgiving. He can also be a dreadful God and a God of judgement. God expects us to listen and obey when he speaks to us and for us to take heed to the Holy Spirit’s instructions. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).

Paul understood as a leader that he was called by God to shepherd the church. Like many believers, some people adjust their attitudes depending on who they are talking to. Many Christians have a reverential fear and respect for ministers and those in spiritual authority. What about our fear of God who is always present with us and sees everything that we do? The Holy Spirit who lives in us hears even our deep thoughts, motives and intentions. Is it not wise to be more fearful of God than we are or men? “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Most parents discipline their children because they want the best for them. Parents understand that in order for their children to develop discipline and become positive members of society, that they need correction. In the same way, God will at times discipline us not because he does not love us. He wants to ensure that we accomplish our assignment on earth and have our place with him in eternity. God knows the things that gives the enemy a place in our lives and gives him legal rights to afflict us. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

Samuel once scolded Saul when he disobeyed a direct instruction from God and said, ‘to obey is better than sacrifice.’ At the time he was making reference specifically to the act of sacrificing an animal to God. Saul went against what God said in order to please the people. The consequence of Saul’s disobedience was costly for his entire family. We often cannot see the end from the beginning but we serve a God who knows how all situations will end. God knows the outcome and it takes faith for us to trust that he knows best. The will of God can be the hardest thing to do at times but our obedience will yield fruits of righteousness.

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

A.P.-Y.

Consistently Consistent

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

This verse translated in the new living translation says, ‘stand firm and let nothing move you,’ as you continue to work for the Lord. We work now during the day because we know that the night season comes when we cannot work. Everything that God has entrusted to us here is a part of our God given assignment. Every relationship, our marriages, children and careers are an investment which we have been entrusted with to work towards eternity. Whatever we do, who we are and every aspect of our lives represent Christ as we work to advance the kingdom of God.

Jesus shared the parable about the wise man who hears his words and does them being like a man whose house was built on a rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:25). When we are firmly built up on the word of God, the storms of life will not cause us to stumble and fall. The person who hears the words of God and does not do them is like a foolish person who built their house on sand. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:27).

It is trying times that reveal what we are made of and determine what we have built our house upon. A man trying to reinforce his house during a storm is a bit late in his preparation. The foundation and the make up of his house should have already been secure enough to withstand the storm. We become solid and secure in the word of God and allow the word to take root in our hearts. The enemy can attack someone who is firmly planted in God, but his strategies will not work for too long against you.

Our love for God and our devotion to him should not change based on the circumstances around us. God needs to know that he can trust us to worship him as much when the storms are raging as when we are being blessed. If we can only praise God when things are going well then our salvation is based on what God can do for us and not in our love for God. We have to grow and develop strong faith which gives God the confidence to know that he can trust us to abide in him always. Trials should draw us closer to God because we know that only God can help and deliver us.

“But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7).

A.P.-Y.

A Book of Remembrance

“On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king” (Esther 6:1).

Yesterday we looked at the story of Esther and the favour that she found with the king. Today we will look at how God also allowed her uncle Mordecai to find favour because he refused to bow to Haman. Haman was promoted by the King and all the King’s men who served at the gate would bow down and pay homage to Haman. Now Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman because his relationship with God forbade him to bow to any other man or God. Haman was angry at Mordecai for this and determined to destroy not only Mordecai, but all of the Jews who served God.

Earlier in chapter 2, Mordecai discovered a plot against the King’s life and told Esther who told the King in Mordecai’s name. The matter was investigated and the men punished and this was recorded in the book of the chronicles. When Mordecai let Esther know of Haman’s plot, she called a fast. It turned out that on the first day of the fast, the King was unable to sleep. The King asked for the book of the chronicles to be brought and read to him. The deed which Mordecai had done was read and the King was concerned that nothing had been done to honour Mordecai for saving his life.

While the King was considering Mordecai’s good deeds, Haman had gallows built to hang Mordecai because he refused to bow to him. To his surprise when he went to see the King to ask for Mordecai to be hanged, the King had an entirely different plan. The King asked Haman for suggestions of what he could do to honour a noble man. Haman thinking that the King wanted to honour him suggested that the King have the man paraded on horseback through the street. “let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set” (Esther 6:8). The King commanded that Haman would do everything that he had described for Mordecai.

Imagine Haman’s confusion and frustration, when the King sought to honour Mordecai who he wanted to kill? God used Mordecai’s enemy to bring great honour to him. Because of the prayers of the saints, the King could not sleep as God brought to his attention what Mordecai had done. Our good deeds will not be forgotten and God will disturb the sleep of those in authority until they bring honour to us. No good deed will go unnoticed and at the correct time, God will cause you to have uncommon favour. He will bless you and establish you in the presence of your enemies.

There is a book of remembrance in heaven, in which is recorded all that you have done for the establishment of the kingdom of God. God will bring honour to his children who refuse to bow down to the kings of this world. There are many of God’s people who daily refuse to compromise and who continue to stand up for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Persecution can cause you to feel forgotten and forsaken. God has not forgotten your labour of love. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬).

A.P.-Y.