From Despair to Deliverance

by Terri Blanchard

Psalm 40

2) He lifted me out of the pit of despair, the mud and the mire… 12) for troubles surround me – too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. My heart fails me.

Thirteen years ago, I found myself in a deep, dark pit of despair. My life of sin and mistakes were too many to count. Years of poor choices and bad decisions slowly dug a hole in which I would surely fall into. Guilt and regrets caused me to sink deeper and deeper. Slowly I was sinking like quicksand into the depths of despair. My heart was distressed and my soul was depressed. In my hopelessness and desperation I cried out to God.  

13) Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me.  11) Lord, do not hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.

In tears of brokenness and desperation I cried out to God, “Please, help me Lord, I need You! I can’t go on like this anymore. I am done trying to do this on my own. I have made a mess of my life. Only You can fix it, only You can save me. I give everything to You, and I mean everything. Father, please forgive me of my sins through the blood of Your son, Jesus and deliver me from myself.”

 1) I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. 2) He lifted me out of the pit of despair, the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.

I could not reach up, but God’s hand reached down from heaven into the lowly pit of my pathetic existence and set my foot upon the Rock. He held my hand and steadied me, baby step by baby step. I had to face truth, make changes and work hard to walk on this new path he had set me on.

3) He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God; many shall see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

I had to come to the end of myself so God could give me a new song in my heart. Not one of despair but of praise. Today, I praise Him for what He has brought me out of, where He has brought me to, and where He is taking me; from a pit of despair to a new fulfilling life to an exciting future.

17) my God, you are my help and my deliverer.

Out of my despair came my deliverance. Only when I surrendered and cried out to God is when He could deliver me. I pray you would know that what God has done in me, He can do in you, too.

 

Terri Owens Blanchard is very happily married to John Blanchard. She is also a mother, a Mimi to her granddaughter, a Mary Kay Consultant, and a small group leader for the Military Wives group. She loves to shop, travel, and shop as she travels! She also enjoys spending time with family, friends and her crazy pets. She can be reached at t.blanchard1@yahoo.com   

Guard Your Heart

by Dani Catherine

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

Within the storms of life that may cause me to be open to the enemy, Proverbs 4:23 is one of my favorite verses. What does it even mean to “guard your heart” and how do we guard it?

The heart represents our center; our heart takes in emotions, our deepest desires, and passions. If biblically, we are reminded to guard our hearts, then it’s quite possible that at times our heart goes unguarded, which means we are open to attack from the enemy.  To guard, means to protect against danger. I can remember a few times where my heart went unguarded. I was letting society speak truth into my life rather than the word of God. I was surrounded by the wicked ways of the world, which left my heart open to all forms of temptations, sin and hurt. I was under attack by the enemy because I wasn’t guarding my heart.

So, how do we guard our hearts? We have to dig into God’s word and remain attentive (verses 20-22) and become disciplined about what we say, what we think and our actions (verses 24-27). God tells us to keep our mouth free from what is untrue. And in Matthew 12:34, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” it reminds us that eventually, whatever is in the heart, will come out. We are called to fill our hearts with thoughts that are pure, loving and honest. We are then told to keep our eyes looking forward and not get distracted by the things to our right and to our left. To me, this means to fixate my eyes on the number one goal; to glorify God with my life rather than glorifying the world. In the times that my heart went unguarded, I was all about glorifying the world.

Lastly, God calls us to consider where our feet carry us, because whatever sin our mind is contemplating, we will speak about it, and once we speak about it, we will begin to look for it. And when we begin to look for it, we will be compelled to fulfill that desire and start running towards sin and temptation. We must turn our feet to the cross, not the ways of the world. Speaking from experience, it leads to self-destruction, guilt and shame. But God wants us to be joyful and covered by love.

When I first experienced Christ and the gospel, my heart changed. Once my heart changed, I continued to pray about the protection of my heart and continued to seek His word. I pray that you are also on guard to protect your heart, for you deserve a life filled with God’s love and blessings.

 

Dani Catherine loves to bake, paint, snap photos and spend time with her loved ones. Dani enjoys leading a table at Beautiful Monday nights and loves to volunteer as much as she can at Grace Family Church.

 

The Wisdom of Proverbs

by Kim Wiezycki

Who Am I?

My mouth will utter truth.
I am better than jewels.
I hate a perverted mouth.
I am understanding.
I love those who love me.
I was established at the beginning.
I am God’s delight.
Listen to me.
Find me and you will find life.

Who Am I? According to Proverbs 8, she is Wisdom. Wisdom calls and beckons us and yet at times, we still ignore her. As I read this chapter in Proverbs again, for the purpose of reminding me to use my words carefully, I am reminded of how absolutely imperative using wisdom is in our moment-to-moment lives.

Because God loves us, and like the good parent that He is, we are warned of the specifics of acting without wisdom. We are Christians and one of the characteristics we deeply desire in our faith journey is to become more wise. So, why do we say foolish things when the Holy Spirit is prodding us to say the right thing? Or why do we sometimes say nothing at all? (James 1:19)

Proverbs 3:7 and Isaiah 5:21 both warn us not to be, “wise in our own eyes.” We are told to turn away from evil. But let’s face it, much of what we want to say or do to someone who has aggravated, angered or embarrassed us, is evil!

Have you ever screamed at your child or husband in frustration and you feel justified at the moment? Yet it says in Proverbs 18:6-8 that, “a fool’s mouth is his strife and his ruin.” We usually realize the truth of that later, don’t we?

Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

I have to remember daily that my words and my response must be in line with God’s instruction or I will reap consequences I never intended. I have experienced the “death” of friendships or other relationships as a result of going against wisdom. Did I know better? Yes. But as a human, sometimes I am “wise in my own eyes,” only later do I realize the pain my words or actions caused.

Ephesians 4:16 tells us to speak the truth in love. We are not to exasperate our children and we are to respect our husbands. The words we say can build up or break down the very spirit of the people we are in relationship with, even co-workers and those in authority over us. Yes, truth must be stood for, but God guides us in how to do that.

Wisdom.

Refer to the scriptures before reacting to a situation. Don’t seek your own desire. Don’t quarrel against sound wisdom. In 2013, become another year older and another year TRULY wiser, by reading and putting into practice God’s wisdom for your life.

 

Kim has been married to Larry Wiezycki for over 16 years and they have two boys, ages 9 and 11. When Kim isn’t in church, she can be found teaching curly girls how to take care of their hair, spending way too much time on Facebook or reading real books, and running a 5k here and there.

A Psalm of Continuous Praise

by Dawn Smiling

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1

In the madness of life’s journeys and the challenges that are attached, Psalms 34:1 is truly one of my favorite verses.  David is speaking and sending a resounding message that he will bless the Lord at all times.  Really, what does that mean?  Do you really feel like giving God praise when it appears that your life has taken a detour you were not expecting?  God has a way of testing us through His scriptures.  It is so easy to read God’s word, but it is often a challenge to live it.  When you least expect it, a situation will arise that will make you question if God remembered you.  Just at the moment when you feel that everything is calm, there is a hidden storm brewing that gives you a feeling of being drenched by life’s curves.  It may be with family, our jobs, our finances, or our health.  There is always a challenge waiting in the wings.  How do you bless the Lord at all times, when you really feel the enemy has pulled the rug from under your feet?  Or when the enemy plays tug of war with your emotions or challenges your love for God. 

It seems God is always throwing a challenge my way.  I find myself asking God to go to someone else today, as I am backed up with enough tests in my life.  But God continues to challenge me, and I have come to appreciate His quest to see me grow.  Whether blessings are pouring out, or a storm of life’s disappointments appear, God is seeking my attention to Him.   As I bless the Lord at all times, a complaint cannot live long because the situation belongs to God. As I bless the Lord at all times, I am obedient to God’s word and instruction for me on any given day.  As you bless the Lord at all times, your tongue will not be subject to the enemy who insights gossip, or stating untruths.  As you bless the Lord at all times, you constantly remain in a place of acceptance of God’s will for your life.      

David said his praise shall continually be in his mouth.  David also said in Psalms 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” I feel a close connection between these scriptures.  David used the word might.  This means even though he knew the Lord and loved the Lord, there was still a possibility that he would make mistakes.  This speaks to the importance of keeping the word on the inside of us.  If the word is in you, you won’t use mere words to fight the enemy; you will use the words of God, and continually praise God for the manifestation of His word in your life, as you go through your daily challenges. 

 

Dawn Smiling enjoys volunteering at Grace Family Church as a prayer counselor, part of the soul care ministry, and as a table leader for Beautiful Monday Nights.

 

Singing the Psalms

Today we begin a new series on A Beautiful Blog. All month long our bloggers will be sharing their favorite verses in Psalms and Proverbs. God has given us numerous life lessons and principles for living in these books. We hope our stories bring you encouragement and hope.

by Julie Jaunese

My husband and I left the denominational church in 1977 and became part of a nondenominational church.  The church was small and met in a Holiday Inn in Michigan.  We had a guitar and drums for music.  The songs we sang were all written directly from scriptures.  What a great way to learn scripture! I remember singing Psalm 61 when I was feeling low:  “Hear my cry, oh Lord, attend unto my prayer.  From the ends of the earth will I cry unto thee.  And when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I – that is higher than I.”  Psalm 91 tells me how protected I am and Psalm 23 tells me how God walks beside me.

My small group, the Yada’s (which means to be known intimately), has been reading Talking Back to God- Speaking your Heart to God Through the Psalms by Lynn Anderson.  As we studied this book I was constantly reminded of verses I had memorized though song.  The songs I memorized were more than 35 years ago and I haven’t forgotten a tune or a word.  Better yet, the songs from scripture that I learned in “Girls Missionary Guild” when I was 9 years old still stay with me, and that is more years ago than I want to claim! 

While studying Psalms 91 with the Yada’s I decided to look to see if I could find the tune I had learned to memorize this Psalm and see is I could get it for my group.  I never found it but I found a group from Australia called Sons of Korah.  This group has lots of albums that are the Psalms sung word-for-word.  What a great way to memorize the Psalms.  Put a CD in while working around the house or driving the children to school.  The words we learn in song are never gone from us.  Ladies, there is nothing better than driving in your car hearing your children sing God’s word at the top of their lungs.  Remember, your children will emulate what you do.  Be the example.

Let me leave you with these words from Psalm 119:9-16 from The Message:

How can a young person live a clean life?
By carefully reading the map of your Word. 
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you.
Don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.
I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart
So I won’t sin myself bankrupt.
Be blessed, God;

Train me in your way of wise living.
I’ll transfer to my lips
All the counsel that comes from your mouth;
I delight far more in what you tell me about living
Than in gathering a pile of riches.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,
I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
I relish everything you’ve told me of life,
I won’t forget a word of it.

When I was little I was taught that you never know when you may not have a Bible, but have need of God’s word.  I challenge you to memorize Psalm 119:9-16, either through music or however it works for you.  Remember, each time you memorize the scripture you are “hiding (banking) it in the vault of your heart.” 

 

Julie Jaunese has been married to her husband Michael for 41 years. She has two daughters and three grandchildren. She works at Moffitt Cancer Center and hosts two women’s small groups, the Yada Book Club and the Fabulous Fems. Mike and Julie have been part of Grace Family Church since it began with 40 people in a house.