July 30, 2017

Luke 21:12-13 (NLT)
12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.[a]

Mark 5:19 (NLT)
19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.”

Philippians 1:12-18 (NLT)
12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters,[a] that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard,[b] knows that I am in chains because of Christ.14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers[c] here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message[d] without fear.
15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.

Psalm 107:2 (NLT)
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!  Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.

One Sunday twenty-seven years ago while sitting in a Women’s Bible Class I felt compelled to share a portion of my personal story.  I can’t remember the exact topic of the lesson that day, but whatever it was, some kind of way I felt that sharing my story could be a worthy contribution to the discussion.

I had gone through a very stressful and violent divorce and only those very close to me, such as my family and one or two friends really knew what my journey had been.

A marriage that was failing was not something that one desired to go around publicizing in those days.  There was so much shame and embarrassment attached to divorce back then.  It was a little different from the times we live in today, where people actually invite their friends over to have a Divorce Party to celebrate the end of their marriage.  I must say, there are still people who feel ashamed because a sacred covenant has been broken and the other reason they feel ashamed is because so many people are so quick to pass unfair judgments on those who have gone through a divorce, without knowing all of the facts.  For these same reasons I simply kept my situation quiet for quite some time.  I needed to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually, and I didn’t need any more injury or pain as I went through that process. It was my way to protect myself.

As I shared a small portion of my story that day,  amazingly God used my story to touch the hearts and lives of the women there.  I didn’t know until then, that sharing my pain could help someone else heal from theirs. I began to see how God was working good from my pain.

When the Bible Class was over that Sunday, a lady came up to me stunned, and said, I would have never known that you had been through so much, you are always so cheerful.  She asked me, “how I could be so cheerful with all that had happened in my life”.
My response to her was, how could I not be? God had been so good to me and His protective hand had always been over my life. I had only told her a portion of what I had gone through.  She really had no idea how much he had safely brought me through.

Several other ladies came up and made comments as I was leaving the class. Before I could get out of the door, the leader of the class stopped me and asked if I would be willing to speak and share more of my story at the Women’s Retreat that was coming up.  I said yes, and that was the beginning of my Speaking Career.

After I spoke at the Women’s Retreat several women opened up to me about the violence they were experiencing at home.  I was shocked! These were women that I would see at church each Sunday entering the building with their spouses as though things were absolutely perfect at home.  These women were beautifully dressed and wearing their Sunday smiles.  Who would have known the level of pain that they were experiencing inside? I certainly did not know. I should not have been shocked, I had been there and I had worn their shoes of shame. I had been that same woman.

God was using my transparency that day to allow them to feel more comfortable in becoming transparent. It was as though my truth was a magnet for their truth.
They began releasing their secrets and sources of shame and sharing their inner fears. They were experiencing the freedom that comes with confessing our struggles.

Satan uses these terrible burdens that hold us hostage to make us think that we are alone and that no one else is going through what we are going through. We become ashamed to speak about the painful situations in our lives. Ladies this is truly a trick of the enemy and a way to continue to hold us hostage and in bondage to his lies. It is also a way to make us feel inadequate and unworthy.

That day I realized that my mess had truly become my message. It was a message that God would use to give other women hope. I shared with them how God had kept His hand of protection over me and allowed me to be safe in the midst of the most violent of storms.

My story was about living twelve years in an abusive marriage and how God saw me through it.  Your story may be totally different from mine, your story may be about addiction, or sexual abuse or any number of other things, but whatever your story is, don’t be afraid or ashamed to share it.

I now know, that I have no reason to feel ashamed.  I don’t allow my perspective or my purpose to be clouded by the judgments of others anymore.  I know that the accuser is really Satan.

God can use your story, just as He has used mine, so let Him. When you tell your story make sure that your focus is on how God has brought you through your difficult time.  He still gets the glory even when it is a painful trial or situation that you have come through.  The glory is His, because He allows your pain for purpose.

Not every story is about heartaches.  Your story may be totally different; it may not be about a hard or painful experience. It may be a joyful story about a great blessing God has brought your way.  Whatever the story,  give God the glory because nothing happens apart from Him.

Your story is your opportunity to be an ambassador for Christ,  so whatever you do, don’t be afraid to speak up  and share it. Be a woman of courage who joyfully tells her story, because your story may be the very story that changes another woman’s life, and points her straight to Christ.

Mark 5:20 (NLT)
20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns[a] of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him;  and everyone was amazed at what he told them.

1 Chronicles 16:8 (NLT)
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT)
31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.






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