A Little Girl Lost

Archive for the ‘sin’ Category

Fear. Guilt. Pain.

“Did that little girl eat all those ribs?” Our server nodded at the pile of stripped clean, baby back, barbecue rib bones in front of our five-year-old daughter, Kari.

“Yes.” Kari had eaten more ribs than her Dadda and twice as much as I did. Yet, she looked clean. There were no outward signs to indicate she had eaten anything. Especially barbecue.
She had wiped away the evidence with those little “towelettes” our server had provided. Her face glowed. Her fingers held no signs and we found no trace of the sauce on her clothes.
If a little child can clean up so much external filth with a few small pieces of wet paper towels, how much more can Jesus cleanse in your life.
Everything! Every mark. Every stain. Every bad feeling. Fear. Guilt. Pain. Envy. Coveting. Every sin, for no sin is greater than another is. Christ died for them all that we may have eternal life.
Jesus already knows your sin, and He is still wooing you to so sit down and talk to Him. He knows your hopes, your desires and your dreams. He also knows what is holding you back.
Our God is not an angry God. He created us to love Him but gave us free will. We can choose to love and follow Him or we can remain in this world of sin and death.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).
In Christ,
Berta
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Still a Long Way Off


The parable of the prodigal son was my story. I had a well-paying job I loved but had nothing else to fill my life. I wasted my money on physical things I thought would make me happy.  I only felt worse. 
I hated being alone so I sought the company of other people who also hated being alone. After each night out, each party, I was alone again.
Earl and I met and spent time together at the hospital. Without a word of condemnation or salvation from him, God’s love began to seep in to my heart. We began dating after a year. My partying friends noticed I drank less, cursed less and acted different.
My entire social structure collapsed in on me one night. Tears blurred my vision as I drove to Earl’s apartment. Through sobs, I told him, “I don’t know what to do. My friends won’t talk to me. They laughed when I talked about you.”
He held me close and I calmed down. He kissed my salty cheek and told me he loved me. We talked a while then he asked, “Will you marry me?” Of course, I said yes.
Another year passed and I became a pastors’ wife. Suddenly I knew why my friends laughed when I spoke of Earl. I didn’t belong among church people. I didn’t deserve to be a wife—especially a pastors’ wife. My sins were too terrible, too many, too ugly, too harmful, too selfish, too damaging!
My shame ran deep. Like poison in my veins, it was killing me slowly and painfully. I knew I deserved the flames that were licking at my feet.
It took four more years for me to consider that God might love me in spite of me. I opened up to a small group of young Christian women and learned I wasn’t the first to feel defeated. When I cried out to God, I was amazed at how quickly I felt His presence. His peace filled my spirit and I felt His love for the first time.
I joined the church members the next Sunday as a fellow worshipper of God and faithful member of Christ’s church. I began courageously witnessing to God’s love, peace, grace and forgiveness in my life when and wherever God opened a door.
My Father has provided all I have needed and more than I deserve. He is faithful in all His promises and I am blessed to be His daughter.
“But while she was still a long way off, her father saw her and was filled with compassion for her; he ran to his daughter, threw his arms around her and kissed her” (Luke 15:21 NIV personalized by writer).
In Christ,
Berta
Friends, Remember to share with your friends. People are being blessed around the world for God. I am so thankful to be a broken vessel in the hands of a loving God. May He bless you. 

A Sinner Saved By Grace


Have you ever heard or said, “I’m a sinner saved by grace.” I know I’ve said it and read it on bumper stickers.
In my reading this week, this identification was challenged. Are we really sinners first? 
Are you a sinner? Is that the way the world sees you?
I know a man who worked in a factory alongside the same co-worker for twenty years. While on break one day this man pulled out his Sunday school lesson. His co-worker saw this and said, “I didn’t know you were a Christian.”
God cannot look upon sin. Remember that moment on the cross when Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) If God could not look at his only begotten Son who took on the sins of the world, how could he look at us as “sinners saved by grace?”
Once we were sinners. Sinner’s sin. (Habakkuk 1:13).
But we were saved once for all by the blood of Jesus when we accepted him as our Lord and Savior. (Hebrews 5:9) That salvation gave us a new name.
Saints. Holy people. (1 Corinthians 1:2).
God wants us to live out our salvation as saints who sin. In his grace, we spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in this sin-filled world by our words and actions.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10).
In Christ,
Berta


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Besetting Sins

After my baptism at age 28, I didn’t feel “saved.” Did I not get it? Am I still the same? What did I do wrong?

Over time, I couldn’t break free from many of my sins. Each time I sinned, I confessed then I sinned again. I couldn’t stop the cycle. I didn’t understand why and I felt trapped.

I hated myself and my life. I suffered from debilitating loneliness as I pulled away from people who loved me.  I lost hope of ever experiencing victory.

Through a Christian ministry, I was encouraged to read TheBondage Breaker by Neil Anderson. Suddenly aware of the spiritual realm, I learned about spiritual footholds and attacks of condemnation.

Even though I’d made a profession of faith, Satan had access to my spirit. Sins of my past that I still felt guilt over had allowed footholds. He wanted me to suffer and believe God couldn’t or wouldn’t forgive me.

Jesus shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins, and prayer in His name breaks the bonds Satan has on us. Therefore, we must turn to Jesus and resist Satan to experience freedom in Christ.

I was right to confess my sin, but I had failed to follow through. Binding Satan through the power of Jesus blood will set you free.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV).

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1, 2 NIV).

Pray this prayer, or your own, out loud to protect you and your family from bondage:

Father, I praise You and thank You for the forgiveness of sin Jesus blood supplies, and I bind Satan with that power and in Jesus name. Satan, I bind you and cast you out of my life and the lives of my (family/children). (I’m/we/they are) covered by the blood and you have no authority in (my) life. In Jesus name, Amen

In Christ,

Berta

If this devotion blessed you, would you consider sharing it with your friends? Thanks, Berta

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Planting Seeds

Looking back over my life, I see God’s hand in every day, even before I knew Him.

Though I had made a profession of faith in my twenty’s, I was far from Christ. I felt I was drowning in a sea of personal sin I didn’t dare share with my Christian friends.
Fear of their judgement scared me in to my own private hell.

Then I went to a retreat where I heard Christians talk about their sins and God’s forgiving heart. My shell shattered and I cried out to Him and found freedom in the love and forgiveness He held for me. I made a promise then, “I’m going to tell everyone I meet about Jesus.” And I did. Friends turned away and “perceived enemies” became brothers and sisters.

Eight months later an accident severed my spinal cord. I came home weak and weary six months and nine days after my injury. My power wheelchair had one true asset then—it reclined. I withdrew from life, laid back and hid behind veiled eyes. I refused to face my future.

The cost was high in body, mind and spirit, but God’s blessings are phenomenal. In His infinite wisdom, He prepared the way. Earl had served as a hospital chaplain on a reconstructive surgery floor where many of the patients had a spinal cord injury. In rehab, the staff taught us how to take care of me at home. According to them, I would live to within five years of my natural lifespan if I had something to look forward to and got out of the house routinely.

Earl took me on nearly every pastoral visit and preachers meeting he went to, but I just leaned back in my wheelchair with my eyes closed. He encouraged me to keep a journal and try teaching Sunday school. He loved me even when I failed.

As I filled those roles with study and preparation, I learned more than I taught. I read the story about how David sinned but was a man after God’s heart.* Job lost everything yet said, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.”** I began sharing my story of God’s faithfulness again and grew stronger in my faith each time. I wrote my brief story and passed it out as a tract to everyone who spoke to me.

While in a small group studying Steve Harper’s Devotional Life in the Wesleyan Tradition many years later, a friend pointed out my seemingly fearless sharing of my faith. I made light of it, “I just tell what God has done for me, but I’ve never led anyone to accept Christ.”

She said, “You may not have, but you have planted many seeds. You may never know until you get to heaven how many people are there because of your testimony.”

Those words have encouraged me to be bold as I tell my stories of His faithfulness to friends and strangers. Old and young. Churched and un-churched. In stores, in doctors offices or on the telephone with sales associates. Earl says, “Imagine that, Berta’s talking.”

Jesus tells us to make disciples. You too can plant and water to prepare hearts for God’s harvest. Trust Him and tell what He has done for you.

Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6 NRSV).

In Christian Love,

Berta

*Acts 13:22 KJV
**Job 13:15 KJV

He Loves Me

Before I met Jesus, I met Earl and I wasn’t happy to find out he was a Christian and a chaplain. As our relationship grew, some of my old ways fell away by thoughts of pleasing him. He never pushed religion; he just loved me. When he proposed, I would’ve married him that day. I made a profession of faith and was baptized before we married—because I thought a preacher’s wife should be baptized—but I brought a truckload of baggage into our marriage.

More than four difficult years later, I talked to Jesus about my sinful past. He healed my broken heart and I accepted His forgiveness. My life changed—for a few months. I prayed again and again for deliverance from sins and guilt I’d held on to. Then one day Earl said, “Berta, you’re in ICU. You had a wreck, and you’re paralyzed from your neck down.”

Though unable to do anything for myself, I continued to desire those now unattainable sins. As my body healed and my strength increased, I began to study and even teach God’s word. I learned many things:

  • He didn’t cause my injury
  • He didn’t rejoice in my injury
  • He allowed my injury
  • He sent His Son to redeem me
  • He had a plan for my life
  • He disciplines those He loves
  • He loves me!

I pray for God’s strength and leading every day as He uses my physical disability to bring me through to the spiritual life he desires for me.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word…It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (Psalm 119:67, 71).


In Christian Love,
Berta

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Useful

Jesus called me to tell what He was doing in my spirit. He said, “Invest in Me. My word is truth. My yoke is light.” How can I express His greatness and power? The fire that burns in my belly?

God’s call often sounds foolish to us. Noah built an ark before it had ever rained a drop. Moses told Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” Peter stepped out of one boat and walked on water, then cast his net in the deep water from another boat.

I came from sin. A sinner born from sinners to sin. Physically and emotionally alone, I felt separated by the cruelty of a world I couldn’t understand. Constant unbearable pain weighed heavy on my soul from childhood.

As I grew older, I knew God was out there. I’d tried to talk to Him but He’d never answered my selfish pleas. The day came that crushed by my sin, guilt, and self-loathing, I turned to Jesus and cried for mercy and forgiveness. I poured out my sin and soaked in His Holy Spirit. I walked away from who I’d been; I couldn’t keep doing the same things.

He began to use my life, which I once thought was useless—my voice, my joy and laughter, my pain and weakness—to speak to those who needed to hear about Him. He wants each of us to participate with Him in bringing others into the Kingdom, and he wants us to experience His presence in our lives.

“God doesn’t give us what we deserve, because if He did, we’d be burnt to a crisp in a nano-second. Because receiving justice would be hell; mercy is salvation; and grace is peace, and joy, and so much more.” Joni Eareckson Tada

“I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.” (Philemon 1:10-11 NIV.)

Lord Jesus, I thank you for bearing all my sins and setting me free from the law of sin and death. Give me boldness to share Your mercy and forgiveness at every
opportunity You provide. Amen

In Christian Love,
Berta
 

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