March 6, 2017

Walking Step by Step in the Light, Part 2

Welcome back for part two of Walking Step by Step in the Light.

Before I jump into our lesson, I’d like to celebrate with YOU, my dearest ministry friends, my new book that will come out in early 2018. This book shares the beautiful lessons and stories the Lord taught me as I walked through the pages of 1 John. Last week and this week’s messages are a preview of what’s tucked inside this study. If you missed last week, click here to read it. I will share more about my new study in the months to come with fun giveways and ways to participate in helping me get the word out. 

Let’s get back to our message about living in the light.

Last week we received the great news that we aren’t perfect. Best news ever, right! However, that’s not an excuse to keep sinning. We talked about how important it is to recognize and agree with God about our sin because that ensures our sin doesn’t stay hidden in the dark.

What’s the best way to do that? As I struggled with my tongue a few years back, God took me through a process. He gave me a script to follow when I find myself struggling with a sin. But following this process is an intentional choice. We must choose to:

Interrupt our thoughts

Sin begins in our thoughts. Our thoughts lead us down the path of disobedience. And it’s our disobedience that interrupts our fellowship with God. So, learning to recognize and interrupt our sinful thoughts before they lead us to action is the key to uninterrupted fellowship with God.

The best way to counter our sinful thoughts is by drawing close to God. Praying and spending time in His Word sensitizes our hearts to the leading of His Holy Spirit. Something deep within our soul discerns that we are walking outside His Will and grieving His heart.

Confess our sin

How will we respond to what we feel from the Lord? We’ll either feel convicted or condemned. And which one we feel will depend on how we view God. If we know God as a loving God who desires to redeem and restore us, that feeling will convict our hearts. We will respond in trust and obedience. But if we know God as a harsh judge who seeks to punish and shame us, that feeling will condemn our hearts. We will feel shame and guilt and run from God.

If you get nothing else from our time together today, please understand the distinction between conviction and condemnation.

Conviction is from the Holy Spirit. It’s from the heart of our Creator, our loving Father. It is good because He is good. He is safe. He is trustworthy. He uses conviction to intervene in our mess and draw us back into the light and into perfect fellowship with Him.

Condemnation is from Satan, our enemy. It is not good because he is not good. He is not safe. He is a liar and the father of lies. In him, there is no truth at all. Satan uses condemnation to intervene in our mess and move us further from our Father’s heart and deeper into darkness.

God never condemns. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

So beware of  the evil one’s lies. Replace them with truth from the One who created and formed you and deeply loves you. Ask forgiveness from the One who is waiting to draw you back to Him.

Turn around and step back into the light

Make intentional choices to keep from repeating the same sin.

It might be memorizing a truth you can speak or pray when that temptation to gossip, criticize, or control comes your way.

It might be resolving in your heart not to yield to what tempts you and inviting a friend to pray for and with you and hold you accountable.

It might be changing friends.

Sometimes there will be a cost. But it will be so worth it, my friend.

Remember, we don’t fight this battle alone. God equips and empowers us with spiritual discernment to alert us to the people and situations that seek to lead us into sin and darkness. His Spirit provides us with the strength and courage to resist that temptation and stand on the Truth.

Walking in fellowship with Christ, day-by-day, step-by-step, ensures who we say we are, matches who we really are.

We are blood bought baby girls of the One True God. We are daughters of the Holy One of Israel. We are loved. Chosen. Redeemed. Beautiful in His sight. Created with purpose.

Don’t let the devil interrupt your fellowship with God or mar the beautiful woman God has created you to be!

I would love to hear from you today. Share one step you need to take today to walk in the light.

Blessings,

February 27, 2017

Walk Step by Step in the Light, Part 1 (Winner announced)

It’s hard to come face to face with our sin. The sin that comes because of our fallen nature (because of what happened in the Garden when Eve ate the fruit). It’s especially hard with those sins we commit over and over again. We speak a harsh word. We engage in gossip. We lose our temper. We succumb to fear instead of trusting God. Each time, we tell God we’re sorry and promise we will do better next time.

And we don’t.

It’s a vicious cycle.

On the other side, God’s Word calls us to live in the light.

What does that mean? It requires that our hearts, our actions our words, our thoughts, our values, and even our schedules align with His heart and His character, not with our sinful nature and fallen character.

So much harder said than done.

The good news I celebrate today is that living in the light doesn’t require perfection! Let me repeat those words.

Living in the light does not require perfection.

God does not require perfection.

Let those words sink deep.

Only Jesus is perfect.

God requires repentant hearts. When we sin, He asks that we immediately bring that sin before Him and confess it. When we follow this formula, He forgives us fully and completely.

In 1 John 1:7, John teaches his audience to “walk in the light.” The Voice translation says, “walk step by step in the light.” Jesus is the Light of the World, so walking in the light means walking step by step with Jesus, letting Him lead, direct, and guide us.

It’s a daily walk. And we don’t walk alone. We walk with a loving, forgiving Father who empowers us to do better each and every day through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit.

At times, we will take a wrong step … away from the light and toward darkness. And this step may interrupt our fellowship with God. But the good news is, we need only turn our hearts back toward our heavenly Father and ask forgiveness. He waits for us to come to Him with open arms. He longs to forgive and restore our fellowship with Him.

The key is agreeing with God about our sinful thoughts! Because agreeing with God about them brings them into to the light.

What happens in the light is glorious! We don’t find shame or condemnation, we find love and forgiveness. It is the place where God will work in our hearts not only to correct us but also train us to think, speak and act in new ways.

When we don’t take immediate action to walk back into the light, we leave the door wide open for the enemy to take full control of the reins of our heart and lead us deeper into darkness and further into sin.

I have lots more to share on this topic! In fact, it’s a bit of a foreshadow of things to come. Will you come back next week and join me for Part 2? I will have a script we can follow when we find ourselves in a cycle of sin. And I can’t wait to share it with you. Please come back next week!

Let me close with a prayer.

Thank you, Jesus, for leaving the glory of heaven to enter into the grit and grime of this dark world. Thank you that You are the Light of the World. The One who can shine light into the darkness lurking in our own hearts. And when You shine that light, it is free of shame and condemnation. Your light brings with it mercy, grace and conviction. We confess that we have dark places in our hearts. I agree with You in this moment, they interrupt our fellowship with You. We ask You to shine the lamp of Your light into the deepest crevices in our hearts. Forgive us. Renew our thoughts. Renew our hearts. Make it so we honor you in all we say and do. We ask this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

And I would love to hear your thoughts on what I shared today from 1 John and how sin interrupts our fellowship with God. If you have a few minutes, please leave a comment.

*****WINNER OF SHARON JAYNES’ BOOK*****

Susan who posted on February 20 at 11:03 pm.

Congratulations! Susan, please e-mail me at deuteronomysix@aol.com with your full name and mailing address so we can get you your book.

Blessings,

January 30, 2017

Live Full, Walk Free with Giveaway!

Happy Monday, friends! If you love our Inscribed Bible Studies, you will be excited to meet today’s guest. I’m thrilled to welcome our newest Inscribed Bible study teacher, and my friend, Cindy Bultema.

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God has given Cindy a beautiful story of redemption that will touch you like no other. She lived for years a lonely, rejected, cocaine-addicted single mom, living an empty, self-defeating, rebellious lifestyle, until the amazing day she met the One who set her free.

Her newly released Bible study, Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World, celebrates her NEW life in Christ. She is now a married mother of 4, and this summer marked her 20th anniversary of being cocaine-free. Hallelujah! Only God!!

I know you have a deep love for Bible Study so that is why I’m extra excited to share this book with you. Cindy teaches from 1 Corinthians. Chapter by chapter, she will take you through Paul’s teachings and equip you to live a set-apart life for Christ in today’s sin-soaked culture.

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Enough of my words, let’s hear from Cindy:

Overcoming Addiction

Life wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.

As a red-haired, freckle-faced little girl, my childhood dreams included being a cheerleader, driving a fancy car, wearing sparkly things.

However, my story did not progress as I had planned. My young adult reality would have made for a depressing TV movie: bullying, betrayal, and rejection.  As I sought to fill my emptiness and loneliness, I sampled everything I could from the “smorgasbord of life.”

Food.  Shopping.  Alcohol.  Men.  Drugs.

Nothing worked.

Before long, I found myself as a single mom. Used.  Abused.  Alone.

Not knowing how to calm the caverns inside of me, I turned to outside remedies again. The bar became my nightly hang-out, and alcohol and cocaine use quickly consumed my life.

On the outside, everything looked fine. I worked hard and loved my 2-year-old son. But on the inside, I was still empty and hurting.

In the midst of my mess, I reached out to a friend’s mom and shared the web of deception I had created, and an intervention was arranged. Compassionate Christian women held yellow pads filled with strategies. Go to AA. Pursue inpatient therapy. Tell my parents.

None of the proposals appealed to me. I left the gathering with a fresh sense of self-confidence. “I can do this. I don’t need their help. Everything is under control.”

I discovered willpower alone is not enough to overcome the allure of addiction.

Soon the cravings were overwhelming, and I caved in to my temptations. Before long I was back in the bar making the same self-defeating choices.  “I’ll try again tomorrow” became my evening tune.

Two weeks later, I accidentally overdosed on cocaine.

After driving myself to a med center, my parents were quickly notified.  One concerned nurse informed my mom she should say her goodbyes to me, her only daughter.  The doctor’s prediction as they rushed me by ambulance to a local hospital: I would be dead on arrival.

Thankfully, I didn’t die like they expected (whew!), and the cocaine overdose became my “bottom.”  Out of desperation and a determination to survive, once again, I asked my friend’s mom for help.  This patient woman shared with me four simple words that have changed my life— 

“Cindy, you need Jesus.”

And on that day, freshly discharged from the hospital, I cried out to Jesus and asked Him to enter into my life and save me.

Can I just say – best decision ever?  Life has never been the same.

Willpower alone is not enough to overcome the allure of addiction – but Jesus is.

Jesus alone can rescue, redeem, deliver, restore, and open up prison gates and set any captive free. There is no one too far gone from His redemptive reach.

Now I wish I could share it’s been an easy, carefree journey of sobriety and freedom.   Not so much.

Although Jesus delivered me from my pit of despair, I’ve also had to do my part, including:

  • Pursuing a daily relationship with Jesus Christ through His Word and prayer.
  • Renewing my mind with Truth. 
  • Leaving behind the “old” life, involving: letting go of any alcohol/drug related friendships, and avoiding tempting environments.
  • Stopping secrets and lies, exposing all areas of my life to His Light.
  • Getting to the “root” of the problem through Godly counseling.
  • Asking for ongoing accountability.
  • Discovering and practicing healthy new habits.
  • Praying!  I ask God daily to protect me from temptation, replace my cravings with His satisfaction, surround me with women to build me up, and fill my heart and mind with Truth.   

The good news? This year I celebrated 20 years of sobriety. Yay, God!

Please know I’m not a trained therapist, just an ordinary girl transformed by an extraordinary God.  There isn’t a day I don’t invite Jesus to do His powerful work in my life. I’m desperate for Him. But I must show up to do my part as well. Life’s worth it.  Jesus is worth it!

How about you?

If you’ve been searching for something to fill the emptiness and find yourself ensnared by the lure of addiction, please remember, willpower alone is not enough to set you free. 

Sweet friend, you need Jesus.  Please don’t wait another day.

Giveaway

Leave a comment before 5:00 pm Friday (2/3) sharing a specific verse God spoke into your heart during a dark time to redeem or deliver you. We will choose one name to win a copy of Cindy’s study and the accompanying DVD. I will announce the winner Tuesday, February 7th.

More about the book:

Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World is a six-chapter journey through 1 Corinthians. A six-session DVD is also available providing additional teaching from Cindy to enhance your study. For a FREE chapter of Live Full Walk Free, a set of A-Z scripture cards, and other resources, visit Cindy’s blog here: http://www.cindybultema.com/live-full-walk-free/.

More about Cindy

With nearly 20 years of ministry experience, Cindy is a popular women’s speaker, author, and Bible teacher. But don’t let her cheerful smile fool you—Cindy has endured single parenting, overcome bondage to addiction, and survived tragic loss. Cindy lives in Michigan with her husband and their four kids. Most days you can find Cindy walking her beagle Rocky, attending one of her boys’ hockey games, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school.