The mind is a powerful thing. It controls every life-giving function in our bodies, processes complex emotions, and is constantly learning and adapting. Our very thoughts have the ability to shape how we see ourselves and the world around us. Because of this, it is paramount that those thoughts be firmly established in truth.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
The first word in the list of things to focus on, is whatever is true. When we hold firmly to the truth about who God is, and who we are in Christ, we have freedom and joy. We are shaped to be more like Christ and we are no longer bound by insecurity or fear. We are free to love ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. We are free to step into our calling when God says go, and free to say no to the things that are not in step with the Holy Spirit’s lead. We are free to live life abundantly. Jesus even promises that when we remain faithful to follow Him, we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free! (John 8:32)
In what area of your life could you use a little more truth that sets you free? Take some time to pray this week about it. Ask God to help you seek the truth about who He is, and who you are, and can be in Him.
How many times has your mind replayed over and over again that mistake you have made in the past? When you think about it, you get a knot in your stomach and feel horrible about yourself. We all have experienced a situation where we really screwed up and we just can’t get past it. Sometimes we mentally beat ourselves up, knowing we screwed up yet again. You may say to yourself, “how could I have been so stupid?” or “how come I keep making the same mistakes?” or “I just can’t get it right!”
Although we know that Jesus died for our sins, we don’t always live in the freedom of forgiveness He offers. God has made us to live a life of true freedom, no longer held captive to sin or bitterness. We often hear about forgiveness in the context of forgiving others, which is important and necessary, but there is one person who we usually have the hardest time forgiving–ourselves.
There have been times in my life when I have messed up and have asked for God’s forgiveness, knowing that the Bible says He will forgive me, but I haven’t extended that same grace to myself. God might be extending forgiveness to me but I can’t always accept it. I don’t feel like I really deserve to be forgiven–I’ve messed up one too many times. Surely His grace only goes so far!
During these times, Psalms 103 reminds me what is true:
All that I am, praise the Lord; everything in me, praise his holy name. My whole being, praise the Lord and do not forget all his kindnesses. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He saves my life from the grave and loads me with love and mercy. He satisfies me with good things and makes me young again, like the eagle. The Lord does what is right and fair for all who are wronged by others. He showed his ways to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord shows mercy and is kind. He does not become angry quickly, and he has great love. He will not always accuse us, and he will not be angry forever. He has not punished us as our sins should be punished; he has not repaid us for the evil we have done. As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is his love for those who respect him. He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from the west. The Lord has mercy on those who respect him, as a father has mercy on his children.”
The first time I saw these verses my heart finally understood the vast scope of God’s love and forgiveness. “He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from the west.” Do you know how far that is? The east and west will never meet because they go on forever in opposite directions. It’s not just a really long distance, like saying as far as the moon and back. It’s no distance you can measure because it is infinite. God didn’t just remove our sins and past mistakes from us, but they are so far gone that they can never be found again.
So why do we hold on to something that God has forgiven and doesn’t remember anymore? When we don’t accept God’s grace and forgiveness as our own, we leave an opportunity for Satan to double-down on us with shame. Shame tears us down and attacks our identity, making us feel unworthy and disqualified for God’s love and forgiveness. Shame makes us doubt that we are even forgivable. When we believe the lie that Jesus’ sacrifice is big enough for everyone but ourselves, we aren’t able to experience the freedom that Christ died to give us.
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin…”Acts 13:38-39
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
The lies of shame and doubt keep us trapped and enslaved to our sin and past mistakes, but God’s immeasurable love for you, propelled Him to send His son to redeem you and remove the sin and shame that entraps you. When we choose to trust in Jesus, we are set free! We are able to let go of our past mistakes and choose the freedom we have in Christ.
So, dear one, let us live in freedom as children of God who are forgiven and loved. There is no end to His passion and love for you–His grace is never-ending. God’s grace and forgiveness are for YOU. Jesus thought of YOU when He went to the cross. Today’s the day to accept His forgiveness for whatever lays heavy on your heart, and allow yourself to be set free from the heavy burden of guilt and shame. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, and it’s God’s desire to see you live a life of freedom in every way!
“…the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” Isaiah 61:1
At the very heart of Revive Ministries is the Scripture Isaiah 61:1-3. Each verse captures what we pray women will experience as they seek their identity in Christ. All this month we have been talking about freedom, so today we wanted to focus on “binding up the brokenhearted and proclaiming freedom”. Today’s post is a little different from our usual weekly bit o’ encouragement, but we felt that it was important and relevant for so many of the women we encounter every day.
Over the years, we have met many women who have experienced betrayal in their marriages or relationships. It is precisely the kind of experience that turns one’s entire world upside down leaving deep questions about their own identity, and leaves wounds that are painful. The truth is, life is messy and painful and no one is exempt from brokenheartedness or disappointment. When we met our guest blogger Stephanie Broersma, and heard her story of being a broken bride made whole again through Christ, we knew we had to share it with you. Whether you yourself have been through the trauma of betrayal in your marriage, or maybe you know someone who has, you will be blessed and encouraged with Stephanie’s real-life insight, wisdom and humor.
Stephanie Broersma is the author of “Reclaimed: Finding Your Identity After Marital Betrayal” and the founder of Reclaimed Ministries. Her mission is to help others find wholeness and healing again after infidelity, through redefining their identity in Christ.
Below is an excerpt from her book that we are honored to share with you. Stephanie will also be our guest in a special episode of The Experience Revival Podcast, that comes out on Friday! In the podcast, you’ll hear more of Stephanie’s story and how Reclaimed Ministries came to be, learn how a traumatic relationship experience can shape your identity and how you can move past shame, anger and brokenness to gain confidence as you rebuild trust and self-worth in Christ.
A big thank you to Stephanie Broersma for her willingness and vulnerability to share her heart and her story with us! “Reclaimed: Finding Your Identity After Marital Betrayal” is available this month for purchase as an individual devotional or a group study, atreclaimedministry.com.
“Reclaimed: Finding Your Identity After Marital Betrayal” by Stephanie Broersma
“It is critical to know who you are in Christ as you offer yourself to your marriage and other relationships.”
Many women, scrambling to pick up the pieces of a broken heart after the confession or discovery of a marital affair, often state the same question: “Who am I?”
Everything a broken and devastated bride thought they knew about themselves suddenly becomes testimony in the courtroom of life, with their identity on the witness stand. “You’re not a good wife because your husband cheated on you and sought pleasure through a pornography addiction rather than his wife. You’re not pretty enough or skinny enough, so your husband went outside the marriage to seek beauty. How can you be a good friend or mom if you can’t keep your marriage whole?”
The majority of women walking through a confession have expressed how shattered their self image is after attempting to pick up the pieces of betrayal. I know this all too well. When my husband confessed to a ten year pornography addiction followed by multiple affairs, my entire being was crushed. Who I was no longer existed and everything I thought to be true was seen and felt as a lie. My complete existence was felt as a veil of ungodly beliefs and the Enemy had his firm hand on my identity, worth and my value. The command to kill my self worth was perfectly being executed by the maker of lies and his legions. The negative narrative that kept on repeating in my head was that my husband’s web of sin and consequences now defined the person I would be, if I could ever make it out alive. I felt as if the mistakes in our marriage would now identify how I approached relationships. Shame, embarrassment, filth and self disappointment weighed like a ton of bricks making it impossible to take a deep breath.
Your identity is not found in the sins of the past or web of consequences from the mistakes in your marriage. Your identity is found in the Risen Savior!”
I continually wrestled with God about who I was now, and yet His gentle voice would quiet the wandering thoughts that consumed my every waking minute. What I learned in the months post confession was that if I couldn’t identify who I was in Christ, my faith would be crippled and from there every other relationship would fail. Securing my own relationship in Christ was key to healing my wounds before attempting to heal the “us” in our new marriage.
Knowing who you are in Christ is key to any relationship, especially your relationship with yourself. Your identity can’t walk out in confidence if you don’t understand the depth of God’s love for you. You can’t love well if you don’t experience His love first. Scripture reminds us of how much God loves us.
In 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) it says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
Our citizenship is awaiting us in Heaven. Abba, your Daddy, has given you “a crown of beauty, the oil of gladness, a garment of praise and an everlasting joy.” (Isaiah 61:3,7 NIV)
The negative narrative needs to stop cycling through your head and heart, and instead be replaced with Godly beliefs that speak truth and life. It takes discipline to silence the lies that influence and persuade the course of your life. The narrative we have with ourselves will determine the decisions we make in every relationship we share, in the circle of community we live in. This has been an incredible challenge for me as I battle with self worth, questions of identity, whether I’m good enough, and knowing my value as a cherished bride. The pornography addiction stripped all ideas of beauty from my mind. How am I to compete with airbrushed images and Hollywood fantasies? God clearly did not wire me to be that sexy, mischievous or exposed. But, let me tell you this much…I’ve since learned that’s not what my husband desires for me to be.
Having the clarity to separate the truth from lies has greatly increased my view of who I am. Knowing that I am accepted, secure and significant as a chosen, claimed, precious daughter of Christ’s is key to any pursuit of healing and wholeness. Speaking these truths out daily over yourself, your home and family is such a powerful tool against the Enemy.
You are not called to be weak. You are not of lesser value or diminished by another’s sinful actions. You are not defined by sin or the mistakes of your past. You are not unworthy to someone else’s love. You are not too far lost to be rescued by the Creator of the Universe.
You ARE enough. You ARE worthy. You ARE chosen. You ARE bought by the blood of Christ. You ARE forgiven. You ARE beautiful. You ARE redeemed. You ARE a child of God. It should be a daily discipline to silence the lies and shame of the Enemy, who is here to “kill, steal and destroy,” (John 10:10) God wants you to share in an intimate (in-to-me-see) relationship with Him as He’s already given you a place at His table. Take a seat, rest in His truth and know that you ARE His.
Are you ready to embrace your eternal identity? What do you currently see your image being rooted in? What evidence is there that Christ is working in your life?
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (NIV)
Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
Every July 4th we stop and pause and celebrate our freedom. While we have tremendous liberty here in the United States, there is another freedom that is greater still. It is a freedom not granted to us by a government or a person, but a calling from God to live in freedom through Christ.
The word “calling” comes from the greek word kaleo, which means Divine Invitation. Usually we talk about calling in terms of the purpose and meaning we want to find in our lives. We are invited by God to be a part of His story. He has created each of us uniquely, with gifts and talents and roles to play.
But God has also extended a Divine Invitation to live in freedom. When Jesus died on the cross, was buried and raised from the dead three days later, He broke the hold of sin on our lives and we were set free. Jesus conquered and we get to share the victory!
Through Christ, we are invited to live in freedom from sin, wrong thinking and insecurity. Freedom from measuring up and competing with our friends and neighbors. Freedom from despair and hopelessness, loneliness and isolation. Freedom from addiction and being stuck in unhealthy cycles. Through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, we can experience a life that is truly free.
All of this freedom is ultimately for a purpose. We are not set free to run back to the things that held us captive again, or to be the sole beneficiaries of our new found liberty. We are set free to love and serve one another. We are free to use our gifts to help others, to lift them up and encourage them. We can point people toward Christ, so that they too can live a life of freedom and joy. We can give them a hand up, dust them off and lead them out of the darkness of captivity and into the light. No longer do we have to be hindered by our past and our failings. We are invited by God Himself to experience freedom like no other!
In Christ you are grounded in truth, empowered by the Holy Spirit and truly set free.