Broken

I love having bible study with women where we open God’s Word and learn truths that can help us function in our everyday lives.   These truths help me not just to function, but they help me to thrive in my role as a wife, mother, employee, friend, ministry leader, etc.   I love to get real with others while God’s Word is open to share the truth that HE is revealing to us.

I’ve been a bible study leader for over 10 years now, mostly with women who have been in the church for a while and who are somewhat familiar with scripture, women like me, so it’s comfortable.

About 2 years ago, I was given the opportunity to co-lead a bible study with women who have been rescued from human trafficking.  Women not like me – women who’ve lived very different lives than I have, who have grown up with very different circumstances than I have and are broken.

Broken.  What does that word mean?  I have sat around the table having a meal and opening God’s word with women that the world has called “Broken”.  I have gotten to know about their lives; I’ve heard their dreams, hopes, likes and dislikes; I’ve seen their beauty and their talents.  I’ve also heard some about their stories and the scars they have as a result.   At times, I’ve left our meetings in tears trying to wrap my mind around how difficult their lives have been.  Sometimes I leave angry at the evil in this world.

But when I leave every meeting, I know I’ve been in the presence of God.  I know that God is bringing healing to these precious lives.  He is a redeemer who has a plan for their lives. He is bringing beauty from the ashes.

I have to say that when I’m with “broken” women are times that I’m most challenged in my faith.  These women know that they are in need of a Savior.  They know that they need God – they have tried it their way and failed.

This is where I find common ground with them.  I have been there – trying it my way and failing miserably, knowing that I need a Savior and realizing that I can’t do it on my own.  Although I’ve never experienced anything close to the trauma that they have, I can relate to them in their brokenness because I have been broken too.  Because of sin in my life, I need a Savior to fix the broken places in my life.  I need God to heal me from my pride, my selfishness, and my tongue that gets out of control and says things that aren’t pleasing to Him.

We may look different on the outside – but our insides are certainly the same – our hearts are made clean by a Savior that redeems us.  AMEN!  Our common ground is knowing that we can’t do it on our own and that we need HIM every hour of every day to help us in this life.

Our pasts may look different, but our futures are the same.  We will be in heaven together forever praising our King.

Who has God put in your path that may look different from you?  How can you reach out to them and show them love?

Let the Spirit of the Lord lead and guide you to do the work that He has put before you to do.

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”  Isaiah 48:17

Angela Sutsakhan

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Doing Well

“Do well what I’ve put before you.”   Jesus

These words have been echoing in my heart for some time now.  It has been a theme that God is showing me when I spend time with Him, when I’m quiet before Him.

At times, I am impatient with where I am at – in my faith walk, in ministry, in my job, etc.  I sometimes want to be further along than I am.  I want to have more responsibility in these areas.  But GOD has been saying to me these words:

DO well what I’ve put in front of you now.  Don’t look ahead; don’t get ahead of the plans I have for you; stay on the path with me by your side.  In due time, you will have more responsibility, but right now, I want you to be content where I have you. I want you to do well with the things I have given you.  I have assignments for you to do each day that are of eternal significance and if you are distracted by other seemingly better things, you will miss them. 

Wow- it’s sure hard to wait when we think we are ready for more and can do more.  But God has been reminding me that His ways are always best.  His timing is always perfect.  He knows what is coming and can see into the future.

I’ve got two teens in my care at the present time –a 16 year old daughter and a 13 year old son.  The things that they are experiencing in school and the influences around them are so hard to navigate.  There are so many pressures and things to worry about that my parents never had to worry about when I was growing up.  God is showing me that I need to be a very present parent during these years.  I must be available to them to help them navigate these years.  I can’t be too busy to listen and to have a conversation, even if it’s at midnight on a school night.

It takes time and mental energy that sometimes I don’t have, and that when I’m honest, I’d rather spend on other things.  But God is saying to me that right now – THIS is my ministry.  When I get right down to it, I really have a few short years to be a major influence in their lives and the lives of their friends, friends who don’t have any Christian influence around them.  Some of my kids’ classmates are going through their parents divorcing.  Some are experimenting with sexuality.  Some have already made decisions with huge consequences.  God has put these individuals in my path for a reason and I have an opportunity to influence them.

Additionally, he has given me a ministry opportunity to serve as a small group leader in a women’s bible study.  Each week, he has put ladies in front of me so that I may be present with them, encourage them, and do life with them.  He wants me to do this well as He has put this before me in this season.

I won’t always have my current responsibilities.  My kids will grow up and leave for college.  I will have more time to give to other things.  But for now, God has given these to me and I need to be a good steward of what HE has put before me.

What is God saying for you to do well?  What is before you that HE has given to you as ministry? We don’t have to look far.  Chances are, it’s right in front of us.

Ministry has different forms and different seasons.  Some are more visible than others.  Some seem more important than others.  But whatever God is telling you to do well in this time and season is where our focus should be.

Take time to seek HIM.  Ask HIM to show you what HE has put before you to do well.

Ephesians 2:10  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Angela S.

Silencing the Roosters

They warned me about the rooster.  At the very first Dominican Republic mission trip meeting, I heard that I would be awakened early each morning to the sound of a rooster crowing. Little did this city girl know that meant the rooster would start his cock-a doddle-do-ing at 4:30am and he wouldn’t stop announcing the day for hours.  The daily racket was enough to make even St Francis of Assisi want to tell that beautiful creation of God to just stuff a sock in it!

It’s interesting what that rooster’s wake-up call did to my mind as I lay in my bunk-bed each morning. It made me think of the apostle Peter. Every morning I awoke wondering how Peter could stand the crowing of a rooster. Did he live in an area where that would be the first sound he heard? Did he rise each morning remembering how he had failed his Savior, betrayed his dearest friend? And if the answer to those questions is yes, then how, dear Peter, how were you so effective for the Kingdom of God?   These were the questions that ran through my mind every morning for seven mornings.

You see, I have been Peter with the noise of past failures echoing in my ears. Satan seems to whisper those reminders whenever I want to do something for the kingdom of God. Does he do that to you too? Just when you are getting ready to take that step of faith, start the sacred project, or open your mouth to speak the powerful name of Christ do you hear the crowing, “Remember that time, remember that sin, remember that shame?”

Getting to the bottom of how Peter handled the sound of his “rooster” became a mental quest for me. Since I won’t be able to ask him directly until Jesus calls me home, I have decided on my very own answer and here it is: I believe that Peter ate fish for breakfast each and every morning. For the remainder of his days on earth, I think Peter chose to be reminded of the restorative breakfast he shared on the beach with Jesus instead of dwelling on the times he had denied even knowing Him. I don’t think Peter let the sound of a rooster crowing fade in his ears without putting a piece of fish into his mouth.

I believe that the reason Peter could be so effective for God is that He didn’t linger on his failure, he chose to abide in God’s grace.

Shouldn’t we do the same?

We have been redeemed. Our precious Jesus was stretched out in agony on the cross to pay for each sin we have committed or ever will commit. Why in the world don’t we think that is enough? Whenever we don’t do the things God is calling us to do because of some old confessed sin, we are rejecting and minimizing the cross of Christ. When we languish in guilt over a confessed sin we are REJECTING AND MINIMIZING the cross.

We are loved. Confessed and repented-from sin is forgiven. The cross is ENOUGH. That is Good News.

Now, let’s silence our “roosters” and go do the things God has called us to do.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Luke 22:31-34

The Fear of the Lord

Oh fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. (Ps 34:9)

I love walking down a deserted beach, listening to the roaring and crashing waves remembering the Scripture “the voice of the Lord is like many waters”. (Ez.43:2;Rev.1:15/14:2) It is a glimpse of the power of God who created the heavens, the earth, the sea and all that is contained therein, both visible and invisible.  The restless ocean must abide by the boundaries set by God “this far, and no further” and it can only trespass beyond this point by His permission. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. (Ps.107:25) Anyone who has stood on the shoreline during a violent storm learns a new respect for the power behind nature as it relentlessly protests against its borders.  It is a reminder of our smallness and utter helplessness in this universe apart from God, but Jesus demonstrated that even the wind and sea obey Him, and this generated a deep fear of Him among His disciples. (Mk.4:41)

We are living in times when much of the western church has neglected to learn the fear of the Lord. We are bombarded with distractions and technological advances that captivate our attention, and draw us away from meditating on the things of God. Many live away from the language of nature, and are surrounded by manmade structures and systems that magnify mans’ ingenuity.  We live lives that are relatively routine and dependent upon our ability to earn a living. Our attention to nature may be limited to a garden, or a nicely manicured lawn or the nuisance of mosquitos and gnats.  Perhaps this is why the Psalmist counters that the heavens declare the glory of God…(Ps.19)…where-ever we are, we need only look up to see what our God has made and sustains.

Often I have heard it explained that the “fear of the Lord” is a “reverence” of Him.  I probably have said it myself. It is impossible to have a true “reverence” for a God that we do not fear.(Ps.89:7)  There has been such a focus on the “Love of God” in Christ Jesus, that there has been a lackadaisical regard to His other simultaneous attributes. His Omniscience, His Omnipotence, His Omnipresence, His Immutableness, His Holiness, His Sovereignty and Justice are neglected in light of His love and mercy.  How grateful we are for His love and mercy, but if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then we should rightly understand this God who created us and joined us to Himself in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

We experience thunderstorms with awe. Unless we were living in tents much of our fear of them is muted by the safety of our homes. Scripture declares that His lightnings light the world, the earth sees and trembles. (Ps.97:4). Lightning and wind may be intimidating, but God Himself makes these things. (Jer.10:13/51:16)   We must learn to see our God not only through the humanity of Jesus Christ, but through His divinity. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. (Heb.13:8) He is the same God of the Old Testament, as He is in the New Testament. He has changed us, but He has not changed. He is not like us. (Ps.50:21)

Christian persecution is on the rise worldwide and hints of it seem to be lapping upon the shore of America. When we have learned to fear the Lord as the Creator of those things which are terrifying, we need never to fear anything else. Fortunately, we can learn a healthy fear of the Lord so that we do not wander from Him. (Dt. 17:19/Jer.32:40)

We are accepted in the Beloved, hid with Christ in Him, and we His Saints who fear Him, and Him alone have a God who alone should be feared. If this God is on our side, who can be against us? (Rom.8:31) Therefore having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.(2Cor.7:1)

Deborah Claypool