friendships

When Someone Hurts You: Part 2

As I was praying for my precious friend whose husband was unfaithful to her and had deeply wounded her, the Lord gave me a vision of her husband. First, let me say that her husband is a charismatic man who at one time had been a bold evangelizing believer, but over the years had become consumed with building his career and that, along with making his son’s sports events a priority, had led him to drift away from spending time with God alone as well as with the fellowship of believers.

The vision the Lord gave me was of a battle in which he was the target of a major assault and rapid fire was coming his way.He was attempting to fight off the enemy, but he had failed to carry his weapons with him. Part of the enemy’s strategy was to get him off by himself so that others in his unit couldn’t help him. In addition, he wasn’t making use of the communication device that had been issued to him in order to keep him in contact with his Field Commander. He was doing the best he could on his own to withstand the enemy, but he was no match for the enemy’s attack.

Unequipped with the necessary weapons for warfare; away from his unit; and no longer in communication with his leader; he was a ‘sitting duck’ who was easily taken captive.Next, I visualized him being led–head down and looking very defeated–in a long line along with others who also had fallen prey to the enemy. Once in the enemy’s camp, rather than being dressed in his army’s uniform, he had on the grey and white striped clothes of a prisoner of war (POW). He was being brainwashed to believe the lies of the enemy and to doubt what he had known to be truth.He was in desperate need of someone to intercede for him and to intervene to get him released from the clutches of the enemy!

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That vision reminded me that every one of us is living in a spiritual war zone, whether we realize or not. We too will be taken captive by the enemy of our souls, Satan, if we are not prepared for the daily battle we face. We must put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), remain with a Body of faithful believers who will fight with us against the enemy, and remain in continual communication with Jesus, our Commander in Chief through pray. You can expect yourself or your loved ones to be taken captive by Satan if you or they are not going into battle protected and in close communication with God and the Church; it is inevitable. “Therefore My people go into captivity [to their enemies] without knowing it and because they have no knowledge [of God].” Isaiah 5:13a

When someone sins against you, rather than allowing the enemy to take you captive by the sin of unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness, respond as Jesus did on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Visualize that person as being taken captive as a POW who is powerless to withstand the enemy. Realize: unarmed soldiers who aren’t obeying their commander and are operating as a “lone wolf’ will fall prey to the enemy.Realize also that Satan, the enemy of their soul, seeks to rob them of the abundant life and to destroy them for all eternity as well as to use their offense against you to rob you of your joy, your intimacy with God, and your witness for God’s kingdom.

Rather than succumbing to sin for the wrong done to you, do as Jesus has commanded us to do: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”(Matthew 5:44) Your intercession is vital to free them from the grip of the enemy. It is the goal of God that every believer be conformed to the image of Christ and to live our lives in accordance with His will and to emulate the example Jesus laid down for us. And what did Jesus do? He came to ‘set the captives free’ (Luke 4:18), He died for us“while we were yet sinners”, and He lives ‘to intercede’ for us (Hebrews 7:25).

What difference would it make in your life if you saw every offense against you as being committed by someone who is a brainwashed POW of Satan?What if you prayed for him or her rather than giving vent to your anger against them? How much more would that be consistent with Christ’s desire for you than how you usually respond when you are hurt by others’ sinfulness?

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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Got Conflict? God's Got the Solution

Your stomach is tied in knots. You can’t sleep at night because you keep replaying the words you exchanged with your spouse— or other family member, boss, or close friend. In this world, conflict with others is inevitable.Broken relationships from the conflict are not inevitable.God longs for us as believers to live in unity with one another and He provides guidance on how to achieve it.

Jesus’ prayer before He went to the cross included these words intended for us as well as His disciples, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power ofyour name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.’ John 17:11

Romans 12:18 gives this counsel, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

So how should you respond when conflict arises between you and others?

1) Ask God to give you His heart in the matter, and especially His heart of love for the other person(s) with whom you are in conflict.

2) Slam the door on Satan! Recognize that your adversary Satan’s age-old strategy is always to “divide and conquer”. He longs to rob you of wholesome and ‘holy’ relationships with your family and friends. If you open the door to his lies and scheming, he will do all he can to get you to focus on yourself and to pit you against others, because his desire is to destroy intimacy and joy in your relationships.

3) Instead of focusing on your “rightness” on an issue, be willing to surrender your “right to be right” in order to be in right relationship with the other person. Remember, Jesus gave up all of His rights in order for you to be in right relationship with your Heavenly Father. If He had insisted on His rights, He never would have gone to the cross in your place and you would still be doomed to death and damnation.You are called to follow Him and ‘pick up your cross daily’ (Luke 9:23), which means being willing to sacrifice your rights for the sake of relationships.

4) Rather than rehearsing your side of the story, seek to see the situation from the other person’s point of view. 1st Corinthians 13:5 tells us: “Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].” Amplified version

5) Do NOT get others outside of the conflict involved for the purpose of taking sides with you! “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy and faithful in spirit keeps the matter hidden. “Proverbs 11:13

6) If the Lord leads, get together with the other person(s) to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15) for the purpose of reconciliation. Before doing so, make sure to ask God to give you a humble, ‘unoffendable’ heart. Ask Him to show you where you might be in the wrong. Make your priority listening to the concerns and understanding the heart of the other person rather than just sharing your own viewpoint.Above all else, allow no root of bitterness or resentment to grow in your heart toward the other person. Be even more vigilant of ridding yourself of resentment than you would be of ridding yourself of cancer in your body.

7) Be rich in mercy and generous in forgiving, knowing that you owe your very life to the mercy of God and the forgiveness He bought for you through Jesus’ death on the cross.

Do you deal with conflict God’s way? If not, are you willing to do so for the sake of healthy relationship with others, and even more importantly, to be in right relationship with God?

Written by Jamie Shaver

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God Revelation- Blessing of Trials

“What does eternal life mean to you?” For many years the answer would have been for me— and I would imagine for many people “heaven”.  That changed for me when I read John17:3:  “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” God’s desire for us is that we know Him; when we come to experientially, personally know Him we go from death to life.

One of the reasons that the Lord leads us to and through trials is so we can come to really know Him. It is through trials that we often come to recognize our great need for Him and understand aspects of His character, His holy ways, and His amazing love for us.

The apostle Paul experienced countless trials as he obeyed God’s call on his life.  Before becoming a Christian he had everything the world considers valuable. Yet, he states in Philippians 3:8-11: 

“…I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings…”

Do you too consider everything garbage (literally ‘dung’) compared to knowing Christ Jesus?  There was a time when like Paul, I considered the things of this world of great value. But then I came to know Jesus, and realized that all I truly desire in life is found in knowing Him intimately. 

I fervently prayed that He would reveal Himself to me and that I would be conformed more and more into His image. I admit that it didn’t occur to me that the answer to my prayer would necessitate suffering.  It was in the midst of a great trial that I came to understand that since Jesus was a “suffering servant” Who “learned obedience through the things He suffered”, that if I was to understand and become more like Him that I too would have to experience trials and suffering. 

When I experienced a gut-wrenching betrayal by someone whom I had considered a close friend and was reeling from emotional pain, I heard in my spirit, “You asked to be conformed to my image.  Look to the cross. I know what it feels like to be betrayed by those you love. I chose to endure betrayal for your sake. Allow your suffering to draw you closer to me.”

In that instant, the pain of my betrayal actually became a blessing and gift to me! God used it to reveal to me how great His love is for me. I realized that He loved me so much that He chose the pain of betrayal that He experienced when Judas betrayed him and Peter and all the disciples forsook Him at the time of His greatest need.  He gave me the privilege of allowing me in a very small measure to be a “partaker of His suffering”. I came to know Him and the depth of His love in a way that I never could have without going through that trial. 

That incident also taught me to appreciate that God often uses trials in our lives to reveal Himself to us in ways that we never could comprehend without suffering. If there is no perceived need for Him, we may not look to Him or appreciate all that He is.  If we never stop to consider what it cost Him to bring about our salvation, we can easily take His love for granted.

For example, although this list is far from comprehensive it gives us a few examples of Who Jesus is. You will only come to know Him in the following ways if you recognize your need of Him:

 As your Refuge if you are in need of safety

As Shepherd if you need guidance. 

As The Great Physician if you have need of healing

As Your Strength if you are weak

As Your Provider if you are in want of something

As Your Comforter if you are experiencing loss

As Your Encourager if you are downcast

As Your Rock if you are needing security and steadfastness

As Your Savior if you know you need saving

What trial has the Lord allowed you to experience in order for you to know His character and love even better? What are you going through right now that He wants to use to draw you even closer to Him and to His heart of love for you?

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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