Good Friday—His Life for Ours

Good Friday—His Life for Ours

Greater Love hath no man than this that a man lay down His life for his friends. John 15:13

Luke 23:44-46 Now it was the sixth hour (noon) and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour (3 PM). Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. And when Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last breath.

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour (3PM) Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? Which is being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

I want us to reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for each one of us. We will never know the immense pain He experienced not only physically but spiritually. On the hours that Jesus hung on the cross from 12 noon to 3 PM the whole earth was darkened, and so was the sun. God had forsaken His only Son when He bore all the sins of the world on His body. Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The word forsake in the Merriam-Webster dictionary means to renounce or turn away from entirely. Holy God darkened the earth for 3 hours because He could not look upon Jesus when He bore our sins upon Himself. The Bible says that Jesus became sin for us, who knew no sin. I read a commentary that said God caused the darkness so humans could not look upon Jesus and see the turmoil and agony that He went through on our behalf. It was a sacred sacrifice that only the Father could see. This was His perfect Lamb of God who was sacrificed for the sins of the whole world.

At the same time the veil in the Temple, between the Holy of Holies, was torn from top to bottom. The very hand of God tore the veil, giving us access to God through Jesus His Son. Jesus was the new and living way for us to go to God, we no longer had to go through a Priest to make atonement for our sins. Jesus paid for our sins so we could have free access to the Father by Him. This gives us, you and me, access to God anytime day or night, that we need Him. That is so comforting to know.

Now think of all the sins you have ever committed, they are too numerous to count, yet all of them have been covered by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, if you have received the gift of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins. If you are born again, the Bible says you are a new creation in Christ, old things are passed away behold all things become new. (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

It is good Lord, to be reminded of the miraculous work you did in me when I became born-again. Thank you for forgiving all my sins, my rebellious actions, my drunkenness, drug usage, fornication, my abortion, my lying, stealing, my pride and my idol worship. All these I lay at your feet Jesus. I no longer have to carry these sins on my back. You have exchanged my sins for your righteousness. I am so grateful to you Lord, the day you had mercy on this broken woman and opened my eyes to see that what I was doing was not working and I needed you in my life. I surrendered my will and my life to you and confessed my sins and asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. It was the most beautiful day of my life, February 6, 1994. A day I will always cherish.

Questions:

What is the Holy Spirit bringing to your mind right now?

First, Are you born-again? Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you asked Him to forgive all your sins?

Even after we are saved, we need to confess our sins daily to God. Is there anything the Lord is putting on your heart that you need to confess publicly?

What are you most grateful to God For?

I pray the Lord will bless you as you seek His wisdom and discernment in your life.

 

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

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Delight Yourself in the Lord

Delight Yourself in the Lord

I Will Delight Myself in You, Lord.

Psalm 37:1-9

1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

4 Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.

6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.

9 For evildoers shall be cut off:
But those that wait upon the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.

Lord, I am feeling weary and tired.

Lord, I feel I don’t have much to give because my energy is so depleted.

What do I do when I feel like I have nothing left to give?

God speaking to me through the Holy Spirit, “Come to Me. I am the fountain of living water. Now drink. Fill yourself with My Spirit and My power. For when you are weak. I will make you strong.”

Lord, what do you want me to share with the women tomorrow?

The Holy Spirit responds, “I want them to be hopeful and confident in Me. This world will wax worse and worse. Do not look to the world because it cannot give you what I can. I am your only source of strength, hope, salvation, forgiveness, love and peace. You have a home in Heaven with me forever. My Kingdom will never end. This world has been taken over by the evil one because the church has fallen asleep, and the enemy has crept in unawares. My people don’t realize the power they have through My Holy Spirit. You have access to me through prayer 24 hours a day because I never slumber. I hear every whisper, and I see every tear, I have collected them in a bottle. There is power when your hearts and voices are united in prayer and praise. How the enemy hates when you praise Me! Praise Me when things are hard. Praise Me when you are sad or feeling weak. Praise Me when it looks like you are all alone. Praise Me! Be bold and courageous and fear not for I will be with you wherever you go.”

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28)

 

How are you feeling? Hopeful and confident? Or, fearful and alone?

What are you struggling with right now?

How can we pray for you and your family?

Please reach out; we are here ready to help.

Blessings,

Toni

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Stinking Thinking: My Distorted View of Self

Stinking Thinking: My Distorted View of Self

Isaiah 43:18-19 and Psalms 62:6-8

Stinking Thinking refers to the negative thoughts that torment us especially when we are HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired) or have thoughts such as a distorted view of God and self, negative thinking, justification, fear, and anxiety. We will address each of these topics so we can discern between the lies we have believed over the years and replace them with God’s truth. Our goal is to equip you so you can have victory in these areas.

Isaiah 43:18-19
“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Psalms 62: 6-8
“He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”

I was the oldest of 3 and came from a strict second-generation Italian-American Family. My father and his 2 brothers and sister ran a family owned Construction Company started by my grandfather in 1948. My grandfather had a drinking problem, and my dad growing up in that environment, acted like an alcoholic even though he did not drink, I refer to his behavior as a “rageaholic”. He worked extremely long hours and was dealing with a lot of stress and competition between him and his brothers. He was not able to communicate in a healthy manner without becoming angry and raising his voice, he had a very short fuse. So, when he was home, I would literally want to run and hide. I had an over developed sense of responsibility and I took on shame very quickly as a child. He was very unpredictable and scary at times. As a result of this I hid behind my wall to protect myself. I pretended to be the good quiet one, in order to protect myself and to set myself apart from my sister who was 15 months my junior and my brother who was born 3 years later.

How was I supposed to get the love and attention I needed? After the “good quiet one persona” was not working anymore I started sneaking Scotch Whiskey from my parents’ liquor cabinet. Like I said, my dad did not drink so he did notknow I was watering down his liquor, until I overheard my uncle comment on it one day when he had a drink.

Now I was really hiding because of all the sins I was pilling up, while still keeping up the façade of the good quiet one. By 13, I was getting high and doing other drugs, having sex at 16, and getting pregnant at 21. That’s quite a recipe for disaster. I felt very insecure because I started gaining a lot of weight from all the extra calories from the liquor, and binging after getting high. I felt ugly, fat, unloved, alone, and depressed. I never developed my voice either, so all the stuffing I had been doing during my life was about to come out sideways, and I will not be able to control it. I would become like my father, a “rageaholic”.

After many years of destructive choices, unhealthy copying mechanisms and addictions; my self-loathing was at an all-time high, my depression was preventing me from functioning normally and all the pain I had been stuffing all my life, was coming out sideways; I was a walking volcano. I literally just wanted to end this disaster of a life and stop the torment I was experiencing. I felt I was not worthy to be loved. In fact, I thought I deserved to be emotionally abused because of my abortion. I did not see myself as a person of value to anyone, not even to God. This destructive pattern would continue until I was 34, when by the grace of God, I heard the gospel and within 4 weeks I got saved and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and to be my Lord and Savior. The most beautiful and memorable day of my life is February 6, 1994 when I received Jesus as my Lord. Jesus met this broken shell of a woman and breathed in me life and I became born-again.

Even after my salvation I still struggled with my stinking-thinking regarding my relationship with God, I felt I had to work for His love and for the approval of others in leadership at Church. My people pleasing was consuming my life and God showed me that this is idolatry, that anything that I put above God is an idol. Slowly overtime as He poured His love and grace over me and many years of recovery, intensive inner healing work, and involvement in high accountability groups; God showed me His love for me was not based upon my good works, but it was only because of Jesus’ death on the cross on my behalf that I was now righteous before God. I stopped striving to please people and only live my life to please God. As a result of this new mindset, I have become more dependent upon God and bolder and more courageous. I am so grateful for the wonderful adventure the Lord and I are on right now.

How has your distorted view of self, opened yourself up to all kinds of abuse and sin as a way of trying to cope with all the pain?

How was your distorted view of yourself especially after your abortion different from the way you see yourself now?

Blessings,

Toni

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The Tool of Detachment

The Tool of Detachment

John 10:10a, 1st Corinthians 14:33b, Proverbs 6:19b, James 1:19

The tool of detachment gives me the ability to love someone without getting caught up in their dysfunction. Satan is the author of confusion, chaos, and discord among the brethren and our families. He has made this his primary mission: to steal, kill, and destroy our testimonies, our relationships, our peace, our joy, and to make our lives miserable. We must guard our hearts from responding to others in ways that are hurtful and mean spirited, instead speaking the truth in love. Use your voice in a way that is pleasing to God and to the hearer. Recognize that everyone has wounds from their past and the way in which people respond to certain situations has a lot to do with where they are in their healing process. It’s important to remember, “Hurting people hurt people.” They are blinded by their wounds and cannot see how they are hurting others.

It is extremely important to have healthy boundaries. I grew up with no boundaries at all. I had to educate myself about boundaries and learn how to communicate them with others. Eventually, I started speaking up for myself and sharing how I was feeling. Over time, it became second nature for me to use my voice and to protect myself from unhealthy people or situations. Starting something new is always the hardest part, but it becomes easier with time.

If you have not read the book, “Boundaries,” by Cloud and Townsend, I suggest you do. This book is a very helpful resource. In my journey with the tool of detachment, I also had to recognize that I cannot fix, rescue, or save anyone. I had to realize that I cannot control another person, nor can I change them, but rather, God can. I had to surrender to God and relinquish all control to Him. As soon as I did, I began to feel more peaceful, calmer and less anxious about things.

When I trust God and humble myself before Him, I am released from being tormented by the evil one. A humble, teachable spirit is a very powerful weapon against the enemy, and God draws near to the humble. There are times I need to leave a room and walk away from a conversation because I feel I may say something I will regret. Once I say something that is hurtful, I can never take it back. Removing myself from a volatile situation is sometimes my only option. By doing this, I have a chance to cool down, think, and pray before I respond to this person or situation. I can now respond, instead of just reacting without thinking. God wants me to think and pray before I speak, knowing that my words can be used to lift others up or they can cause others to stumble.

Detachment gives me wisdom and discernment when dealing with a situation or an individual who is in a volatile state. I don’t have to fear or be anxious, and I don’t have to take the situation on as my own. Instead, I can recognize that the occurrence has nothing to do with me. I can respond in a calm and godly manner, and I can speak the truth in love. I can walk away and return when I am calmer and more composed. Seeking God during this process helps me to remain in peace and in control of my emotions; that’s all I am responsible for, and I leave the rest in God’s hands.

In His love and service,

—Toni

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Self-Pity

Self-Pity

Self-Pity

Philippians 2:2-4, Galatians 5:22-23

God wants me to spend less time thinking of myself, and more time thinking of Him and others.

Self-pity is being consumed with thoughts about oneself, usually regarding some unfair situation or treatment by others. Self-pity is feeling sorry for yourself and asking yourself questions like, “Why Me? Why is God not doing something about this situation that I am in?”

I feel self-pity when I perceive an injustice, when I am feeling rejected or left out, when I compare myself to other women, or when I am hurt and disappointed by another’s actions. Self-pity is a dark, slippery, deep hole. In this pit I feel alone, abandoned by others, and tormented.

When I focus on self and not God, I have a distorted view of truth. I feel hopelessness because I am doing things in my own strength. I cannot see how my circumstances can change because I am powerless to change them. When I focus on self and not God, the enemy sees that I am vulnerable and attacks me with his fiery darts. My head and eyes are cast down, I am heavy with no energy, and I feel all alone. When I am looking down, I cannot see God and be thankful for all the things He does for me on a daily basis. This is the enemy’s plan. He wants me to isolate myself from God and others. He wants me to focus on that one thing I don’t have, and he continues to lie to me until I start believing him. Then, he has me exactly where he wants me. His purpose in this world is to steal, kill, and destroy me, my testimony, my joy, and my trust in God.

I also know I am in self-pity mode when I compare myself to other women, being critical and judgmental towards them. This happens when I am feeling insecure about myself and I am not walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When I catch myself thinking like this and speaking harsh things, I immediately recognize I am in sin, confess this to God, and ask for forgiveness. Instead of judging others, I need to look for the similarities between us and seek out the good in them. Who am I to judge another person? Only Jesus is Judge. I am commanded by God to love others.

How can we get out of the pit of despair and negative thoughts?

  • The Word of God replaces those negative thoughts and lies with His truth. It is His truth that makes us free. (John 8:32)

     

  • By focusing on others. We read in Philippians 2:2-4: “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let His mind be in you (The mind that was in Christ).”

In His love & service,

Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!