LAW / GRACE/ FREEDOM :: The Judges

REACHING HURTING WOMEN MINISTRIES OFFERS FOUR TOPICS FOR CONTEMPLATION EVERY MONTH OF THE YEAR. EACH TOPIC IS A 12-MONTH STUDY SERIES ASSIGNED TO A SPECIFIC FRIDAY OF EVERY MONTH. IN MONTHS WITH FIVE FRIDAYS WE’RE REVIEWING CHRISTIAN MEDIA.
On the fourth Friday of each month in 2022 we’re studying the RHW 2022 Theme: God’s Law, Grace & Freedom.

“Without God’s law and grace there is no opportunity for recovery from any addiction and therefore no true freedom!”

LAW

The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim. He spoke to the people of Israel there and said: “I brought you up from Egypt. I led you to the land I promised to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my agreement with you. But in return, you must not make an agreement with the people who live in this land. You must destroy their altars.’ But you did not obey me. How could you do this? Now I will tell you this: ‘I will not force out the people in this land. They will become your enemies. Their gods will become a trap for you.’” Judges 2:1-3

After Joshua and all the people who came from Egypt died off, God raised up political / religious leaders to guide the people in times of oppression from their enemies. The era of the judges highlights the core principles of God’s law brought by Moses:  Obedience brings peace and life. Disobedience brings oppression and death. These stories remind us God’s judgement for sin is sure to come. However, forgiveness of sins with restored relationship is equally as certain for those who turn to Him in true repentance.

REBELLION

The people of Israel served the Lord as long as Joshua was alive. They continued serving the Lord during the lifetimes of the elders who lived on after Joshua. These men had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel….  After those people had died, their children grew up. They did not know the Lord or what he had done for Israel. So they did evil and worshiped the Baal idols. They did what the Lord said was wrong. The Lord had brought the people of Israel out of Egypt. And the ancestors of these people had worshiped the Lord. But the Israelites quit following the Lord. They began to worship the gods of the people who lived around them. That made the Lord angry. The Israelites quit following the Lord and worshiped Baal and Ashtoreth. The Lord was angry with the people of Israel. So he let robbers attack them and take their possessions. He let their enemies who lived around them defeat them. They could not protect themselves from their enemies. When the Israelites went out to fight, they always lost. They lost because the Lord was not on their side. The Lord had sworn to them this would happen. So the Israelites suffered very much. ~ Judges 7; 10-15

This section of scripture shows us the cycle of sin, judgement and repentance that the people of Israel repeated over and over. This is the cycle all humanity repeats over and over again. As one godly generation dies off, the next generation either wasn’t taught the ways of God or they simply fail to follow God because the temptation of sin is so great. The responsibility lies on the family leaders. When one generation fails to teach the next generation how to follow God’s laws, the cycle of sin is sure to continue.

GRACE

Then the Lord chose leaders called judges. These leaders saved the people of Israel from the robbers. But the Israelites did not listen to their judges. They were not faithful to God. They followed other gods instead. In the past the people of Israel obeyed the Lord’s commands. But now the Israelites stopped obeying the Lord. Many times the enemies of Israel hurt the Israelites. So the Israelites would cry for help. And each time the Lord felt sorry for them. Each time he sent a judge to save them from their enemies. The Lord was with those judges. ~ Judges 2:16-18

Even in the face of all Israel’s consistent rebellion to God, He faithfully continued to deliver them from their oppressors. This deliverance wasn’t because of the repentance on Israel’s part, but of mercy and compassion from the heart of a loving Father.

FREEDOM

The judges, even with their flaws and weaknesses did save Israel from their enemies. But through it all the people of Israel continued to insist on having a king like other nations. They did need a king, but not the kind they thought. What they needed was The King, and Messiah, Jesus Christ who would bring true freedom from all the oppressors.

The most important lesson we can learn from the judges stories is that humanity is ingrained with a cyclical sinful nature. Unless we keep our focus on God’s Word and teach the younger generation God’s ways, humanity will consistently return to dark, evil ways.

The good news is our heavenly Father will always be there when we turn away from sin. When we call out to Him, He is faithful to deliver us from our enemies, even if that worst enemy is ourself. God will bring us to a place of freedom and victory over any bondage we may suffer from if we continue to follow Him.

Be blessed by this worship song with Jesus Culture.

 

Resources:

ESV Study Bible

Spirit-Filled Life Bible

NLT Parallel Study Bible

International Children’s Bible

Celebrate Discipline :: CONFESSION

IN OUR CELEBRATE DISCIPLINE COLUMN EACH MONTH WE ARE LEARNING A NEW SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, HOW TO APPLY IT AND HOPEFULLY GROW INTO THE PEOPLE GOD WANTS US TO BE.

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: habits that nurture spiritual growth; exercises unto godliness.

CONFESSION: an admission of misdeeds or faults to God or another person.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. ~ Psalm 139:23-24

Since God desires to give and forgive, He has put in place the process of redemption which started at the Cross and was confirmed with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is because of Christ’s holy work and through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can make our confession and know that forgiveness is possible.


The Spiritual Discipline of Confession is a difficult one for us because we often choose to see our community as one full of saints rather than a fellowship of sinners. All the more reason for confession to be a priority in our lives. When we are able to help someone struggling with their lives it helps us to know we aren’t alone in our struggle with sin. If I am left alone in the confession of my sin, I stay in the dark. It is in the light of mutual confession that healing power is released and lives are transformed.

In some Christian traditions there are formal printed confessions spoken as a congregation or to a confessor. There are many advantages to this method.

  1. No more excuses or blaming. We confess that we have sinned by our own fault. 
  2. Forgiveness is expected and given. With words from a brother or sister our forgiveness is sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  3. Remorse is experienced. We use this time to consider the seriousness of our sin against God.

Confession journalling is another avenue to consider. As we go about our daily lives we can process our various sin struggles in a diary or journal. This can be a sweet time of self-examination with the Lord at the end of the day.

The most common view of confession is that spoken to another person. But before we run off and start sharing our deep dark secrets we must take care to find the proper person. Key qualifications we should look for are: spiritual maturity, compassion, wisdom and the ability to keep a confidence. 

Having found a confidant there are three things we must check before we begin.

  1. Our conscience ~  We invite God to show us where we need healing and forgiveness.
  2. Our sorrow ~ We are taking our confession seriously because we know we have offended God.
  3. Our desire to sin ~ We ask God to help us live holy lives from this point forward.

The Spiritual Discipline of Confession breaks all pretenses over our life. We are now free to walk in our God given grace and forgiveness with the hope of making a difference in the lives of those around us.


“Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change.” ~ Richard Foster


If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for a beautiful song to meditate on.

RESOURCES:

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

BOOK REVIEW: Think Differently Live Differently by Bob Hamp

Think Differently Live Differently ~ Keys to a Life of Freedom
by @BobHamp
Thinking Differently Press 2010
252 pp

I can’t think of a better way to start this new year than to review the book I’ve placed at the top of my recommended reading list! 

In 2008, my husband, Bill, and I were blessed with the opportunity to participate in Freedom Ministry at Gateway Church in Southlake,Texas. It was there I first encountered the incredible gift Bob Hamp has for communicating spiritual principles. Not unlike the parables in the Gospels, Bob’s stories tug at your heart strings while imparting truths you can easily understand and apply to daily life.

A culmination of life-long spiritual growth and years of counseling experience, Think Differently Live Differently lives up to its title. Through beautiful analogies and humor woven among the teaching, we are drawn into a story that completely changes the way we see original sin, our Creator and ultimately ourselves. With this new perspective comes revelation and suddenly we find freedom as never presented before.

There are few books I will push this strongly. It’s a must read for everyone! 

After all isn’t true freedom what we’re all looking for? 


Working the Steps–Step 7

Continuing my goal to work The Twelve Steps, one Step for each month of the year; focusing on Step 7 for July…

Step Seven:
Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

Step Seven is critical to the cleansing process and will prepare us for the next stages of our recovery. In the first six steps, we became aware of our problems, looked at ourselves honestly, revealed hidden parts of ourselves and became ready to change.

Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove these hidden areas. If you are anything like me, your list is long and painful to reflect on. That pain may bring us to our knees, but what better place to humble ourselves before the Lord in prayer.

We must not hold anything back. It is only in surrendering everything to Him, that we will find true healing and freedom. We must take the inventory list and give each item to God; only then will we experience the serenity that brings the true joy we seek.

Going down the list of shortcomings can cause us to dwell on our self. To take our mind off self, we can meditate on Christ’s presence in our life, on being free to live life following His example. We will soon begin to care more for others and put our self in proper perspective. We will begin to understand who we are and find joy in becoming the person God wants us to be.

To truly humble ourselves in the biblical sense, we must see ourselves as God see us. This can be difficult when our entire life as been spent seeing our self as worthless. By reading and meditating on God’s word regularly we will find the value God sees in us and His plan for our life. We must empty our self like Christ did, surrender to God’s will, serve others and thereby fulfill God’s plan for our life.

It takes faith and courage to ask God to remove our shortcomings. We must trust that God hears us when we pray and believe He wants to answer us. We may not feel or sense an immediate change, but in thankfulness we can go forward confessing that God has heard our request and has begun the change in us. In time change will come to our sight.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:10-12

Originally posted January, 9, 2009

What’s Your Secret?

If you’re a ‘Baby Boomer’ like me you may remember the old game show called I’ve Got a Secret. The show aired from 1952-1967 and was one of my parent’s favorites. The format was simple: while the secret flashed on the TV screen for the viewing audience, four panelists took turns questioning the person with the secret to determine exactly what the secret was. A nominal financial award was given to a contestant whose secret could not be guessed by the panel. It was always funny to hear the questions the panel would ask trying to guess the secret.

I write today about secrets because as a recovering addict I have a past of many secrets. Not that my past is still a secret today, but when I was walking in sin and addiction, my life was full of secrets. Sometimes too many to keep up with. Secrets stacked upon lies and lies stacked upon secrets. It was a veritable house of cards that when finally collapsed was actually a relief.

If you’re a woman who struggles with addiction you know the burden of secrets. Satan, our enemy, knows the power of those secrets. His job is to keep us from uncovering our secrets. As long as the secret is hidden it has power over us. The enemy will tell us we shouldn’t tell anyone our secret because they will hate us. He’ll try to tell us that even God hates us because of our secret. The longer we keep the secret the worse it gets. In fact, nothing will get better until the secret is out in the open.

The key is to find a trusted friend or counselor with whom we can share our secret; go to her for prayer and support. Confessing our secret starts the healing process and removes the power of darkness over our lives. You’d be surprised how understanding others will be once you begin to share with them your struggle.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. — James 5:13-16 NIV

The power of hidden behaviors and secrets can work for us as well as against us. David said, “I have hidden your [God’s] word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” If we hide God’s Word in our hearts by meditating on it and memorizing it we will find a new transforming power that will keep our minds and hearts pure. Jesus taught, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.”

Secrets have a way of being exposed. Let’s use our ability to keep secrets for prayer and meditation. Unlike the game show contestants where the panel is guessing the secret, we will see an unbelievable new power, a power of Light, being exposed in our lives drawing ourselves and others to The Source of our secret.

Finding True Freedom

What does it mean to be free? Where is freedom? Can we find it? How do we find it? Who is a free person? What do they look like? How does a free person live their life? I want to take a look at this word Freedom and talk about what it really means to be free.

Freedom can mean many things to many different types of people. Whether it’s freedom from political persecution, freedom from physical restraint, immunity and civil liberty or simply the power to exercise choice and decision without constraint; freedom is a powerful state of being which we all crave and for that matter deserve.

I’ve lived the life of a people-pleaser for most of my 51 years; to the point that I was living my life for everyone else. I was a social chameleon trying to be all things to all people. I sacrificed a college education to be a stay at home mom, committed to home school my three children rather than subject them to the failing public school system. In early adulthood my husband and I were in a denominational church that put a lot of emphasis on service. My husband and I taught 4th grade Sunday School for years, I taught preschool choir and sang in the adult choir, not to mention caring for aging family members. I worked hard to be the ideal wife, mother and citizen. All while my husband was climbing the corporate ladder of success; working 60+ hours a week with a 3 hour round trip commute to our suburban home. We were practicing Christians living a “Christian” lifestyle, but were we free? Was I free? Looking back, I would say no. I was in deep bondage to what I thought others expected of me and of the expectations I had on myself. They weren’t real expectations, but they felt real to me and I lived my life accordingly. Where does a person go from here to find true freedom?

Not long after this, my life took a dark turn that led to a lifestyle filled with sin and addictions. The “selfless” people-pleasing life I had been living built up so much resentment that I exploded into a monster no one who knew me would have ever dreamed I could become. I was lost in my own pain with no where to turn. Searching… but what was I searching for? Freedom. Freedom for me began to mean I could do whatever I wanted to do, no matter how it effected the people around me. The freedom to be myself on my terms. The freedom to be who I wanted to be no matter what anyone said or thought. It was all about my freedom. A very narcissistic mindset, but one in which many of us live today. In reality, my “freedom” brought with it a bondage that ultimately destroyed my life, my reputation, my family and my marriage. Where was this true freedom I so desperately desired? I ended up having to spend time in jail to find true freedom. Ironically, there are people behind bars today that have more true freedom because of a relationship with Jesus Christ than many people walking the streets in the darkness of their own personal bondage.

Jesus Christ says, ” You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… I assure you everyone who sins is a slave of sin…if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.” – John 8:32,36 NLT

The note in The Life Recovery Bible to this verse states:

To be “set free” is to know the truth– the truth about ourself and about Jesus our liberator. The truth is this: We are a slave to sin and powerless to manage our life effectively. With God’s truth as a standard for our moral inventory, we can recognize and confess our needs and struggles, our sins and addiction. As we confess these to God, to ourself, and to at least one other person, we share the truth about our life. When we turn our broken life over to God, who alone can make us whole, we are again acknowledging the truth. These different applications of the truth can combine to set us free from sinful habits, chemical dependencies, and emotional bondage.

It is my prayer that in reading this column you can find your way to true freedom in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. God Bless You.

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