Thriving in the Fire

Thriving in the Fire
Have you ever read a Bible passage and instantly knew it was what you needed to hear that day?
Well, the other day, I had that experience.  I opened up my Bible and found myself in Daniel chapter 3 (I’ve been reading through the prophets one chapter a day).  In Daniel 3 I read the story where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego get thrown into the fiery furnace.  I will never cease to be amazed at their great faith and boldness to stand up for God even when it was going to cost them their life.
But what stood out to me this time as I read the story was not their bold faith.  It was the part when after they were thrown into the fiery furnace and there was a fourth man with them.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:24-25)
The fourth man in the fire was a form of God himself, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in the furnace, unharmed by the flames, just “chillin’ with Jesus” during one of the scariest moments of their lives.  I have to say, after reading this story again, I found so much encouragement and truth for my own life.   I want to share with you all the main truths I pulled from this chapter in Daniel.
Below you are three truths from Daniel 3 that can be yours when you find yourself walking through the fire.

1. God is with us in the fire

All of us will go through hardships and tribulations in our life that can be referred to as fires.  In 1 Peter trials are compared to the process of using fire to refine gold;
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
I probably don’t have to tell you that fires are not easy things to walk through.  Fires are often used as an instrument of death and destruction. But when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego were thrown into the fire they didn’t even get burned.  They were unharmed and unbound while they were in the fire and God’s very presence was with them.  With God, even something evil can be used for good!  That is the beauty of the gospel and our loving God.  God is with us during our dark days, just like he was with Shadrach Meshach and Abednego when they were in the fire.  Because God is with us, we can rest in him and find peace even during our darkest moments.  God is the one keeping us safe and protecting us from the flames.  God also promises to never leave us when we are in the fire.
Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord God is with you, He will not leave you or forsake you. (1 Chronicles 28:20)

2. We can thrive while in the fire

This truth is really hitting home with me today.  I can’t stop thinking about how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego were in the fire, unbound and unharmed.  Not a single trace of the fire was seen on them when they came out.  I can’t help but get this picture in my head of them laughing and having the best of times with Jesus while they are in the fire.  They just got thrown into a fiery furnace, the last thing they should be doing is rejoicing and having the best of times.
Did you know that we can have this same kind of joy during our fires too! That’s the amazing thing about the power God gives us through His Spirit.  When we go through our fires, we can rejoice.  Because God is with us, we won’t get burned.  Just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, our time in the fire can lead to the sweetest fellowship with our Saviour Jesus Christ. Because of Christ in us, we can thrive even when in the middle of the darkest of circumstances.  I have seen this ring true in my life when I think back on the hard fires God has called me to walk through.  Even when my entire world was crashing down before my eyes, I had the strongest sense of peace and joy that was rooted in God.  God is not only with us, but He is the one who gives us all we need to thrive during the fire!
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:3-5)

3. God uses the fire to bring Himself glory

In the last part of this chapter, after Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the furnace,  King Nebuchadnezzar is amazed and humbled.  He realizes that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is the true God and begins praising God;
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. (Daniel 3:28)
After Nebuchadnezzar witnessed God’s glory he gave God praise for what had happened.  I think that an important thing for us to always remember when we are going through our fires is that people are always watching.  People want to see how we respond when we are faced with rough circumstances.  When we respond with joy and strength that can only come from God in the hardest of circumstances, it causes people to wonder.  Our fires and the way we thrive during them can be the most effective way to reach someone with the gospel because they will see that we truly do have something in us that is better than what the world offers; we have God’s Spirit living in us!
 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)
God’s ways are not our ways and His plans are not our plans.  The way God chooses to bring glory to His name often is through the hard trials we must walk through.  But this can encourage us to keep on keeping on through the hard days because, in our weakness, He is made strong.  God’s glory is being made known through us and that is an amazing thing!
Whatever fire it is that the Lord has called you to walk through, I hope and pray that these three truths can encourage you and give you strength.  Be encouraged that God is always with you during your darkest days and He will give you everything you need to endure.  Because of the good God we have, you can rise up and thrive while in the fire.  God will give you His peace and joy that makes no sense to this world.  And when those who don’t know Christ watch you, your life will be a testimony of the gospel to them.
Keep on following Him, dear friend, even when He calls you to go through the fire.  And never let your heart forget, there is another in the fire with you; His name is Jesus.

How Far Does He Forgive

How Far Does He Forgive
“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12
Did you know that if you were to stand directly on the north pole, it would be impossible for you to go any more north?  Every direction you go would be south.  You are already standing as far north as you can possibly be and once this happens north turns into south.  But do you know what’s even crazier?  If you go north far enough it becomes south, but if you go east or west far enough they will never change.
Just the other day I was out in God’s creation talking with a group of people and we were talking about this concept.  My mind instantly went to the verse in Psalm 103 where God says that he will forgive our sin as far as the east is from the west.

How far is the East from the West?

Stop for a moment with me and just think about this.  How far is the east from the west?  If you follow the east it never turns into the west. And visa-versa with the west. If God had said that he forgives our sins as far as the north is from the south then there would be a point where he’d have to stop.  But the east and west never touch, which means God will never stop forgiving our sins.  Oh how amazing this is and what a beautiful thought!  What comfort it should bring to our hearts when we realize that God promises to never hold our failures, our mistakes, or our sin against us.

God has forgiven you!

Whatever obstacle or thought is standing in your way of embracing this wonderful truth about God’s forgiveness, let these words be the breakthrough.  You don’t ever have to worry about not being enough, or sinning so bad that God will never forgive you.  God’s forgiveness is ours and it stretches as far as the east is from the west.  God loves you so much, dear child, don’t you ever forget that.  Live for him in His beautiful forgiveness.  Live in His truth today and you will find that where there is forgiveness there is freedom!

3 Tips for Practicing Forgiveness

3 Tips for Practicing Forgiveness
~ Blog post by Autumn Cockrell ~

Have you ever wondered what forgiveness is and what it looks like for the Christain?

Forgiveness is an important characteristic of the Christian life. We are taught to forgive one another as God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). Easy enough, right? Not at all. In most situations, we think if we ask for forgiveness, we will receive forgiveness. We think if we forgive, that’s it, we have forgiven that person. In reality, forgiveness is a muscle we must ‘exercise’ every day of our Christian life.
But, what do we do when forgiveness is not easy? What do you do when you have forgiveness but you still feel the strong emotions of bitterness or anger against that person? Or if someone refuses to forgive you?
Today I wanted to share some practical ways to keep forgiveness in mind when we are faced with situations where forgiveness is easier said than done.

1. Forgive Them – Over and Over and Over Again

In the book of Matthew, Peter asked the Lord how many times he should forgive a brother who has sinned against him. Jesus says, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22). Basically, God is saying that we need to be forgiving a person over and over again. In my younger years, I thought verbally forgiving someone was the ‘done deal’ and I didn’t have to forgive again. However, I can recall a situation in my life where I outwardly forgave them even while truly not forgiving them in my heart.
So, what do you do? Jesus says we are to forgive them seventy-seven times! If you have already forgiven them verbally, pray every day to forgive them in your heart. This is key. Praying for God to soften your heart against someone is the only way to forgive someone in your heart. Without Him, we would be unable to forgive! Cry out to Him, pray for a softer heart toward that person, and while it may feel like nothing is happening, stay diligent and press on in these prays.
“Lord, please soften my heart. Let me be able to forgive ____. Lord, I do forgive him/her/them. Amen.”
I’ve had a rough past and for so many years it seemed impossible to forgive those who hurt me. But, God! By His grace alone, He has softened my heart and I can now look back on my past knowing I have forgiven those people just as God has forgiven me.

2. Make a Point to Ask for Forgiveness

Forgiveness and asking for forgiveness go hand-in-hand. While we must actively forgive those who have sinned against us, we must also make it a habit of asking for forgiveness – even over the smallest things! This was something my husband and I made a habit of when we first got married. I grew up in a household that did not practice this so when my husband would ask for forgiveness, I got uncomfortable because I did not know how to respond. I often delayed in asking for forgiveness because I was not used to asking and I would get a negative response when I did.
Over time, I got so used to asking for forgiveness because I was exercising that forgiveness ‘muscle’. Like any physical muscle we try and train, it’s hard at first. We are weak, we can’t lift the heavyweights, we can’t do that many pushups or sit-ups, and we can’t even fathom doing a pull-up. But, does that mean we give up? No! We continue to train and as we become stronger. It is the same with asking for forgiveness.
The more we ask for forgiveness, the more we exercise that muscle, and the more we learn about humility.
There is a big difference between saying “I’m sorry” and asking “Would you please forgive me?” Asking for forgiveness is humiliating and asking teaches us a lot about that particular fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We can all say “I’m sorry” with ease, but do we always go through the humiliating experience of asking for forgiveness?

3. Pray for Those Who Won’t Forgive

We’ve talked a lot about forgiving and receiving forgiveness. Lastly, I want to talk about what we ought to do when someone won’t accept our apology and refuses to forgive us?
I’ve been in that exact position, maybe you have too. I had gotten in an argument with someone and after cooling down, I approached them and asked for forgiveness. The person refused my apology – and never changed their response. I’ll be honest, the sinner inside me wanted to start yelling at them and revoke my request for forgiveness. Who wouldn’t want to respond in that way! It’s discouraging to come to someone, exercising humility and forgiveness, only have someone not accept.
This is where the two steps from above come back into play. If you already asked them for forgiveness, you might have to forgive them over and over again, and also add in the second part; pray for them. Pray that God would soften their hearts. Even if they never come to you and ask for forgiveness, you can continue to pray that God would soften them and bring them healing. During my short time on this earth, I’ve found often that someone who won’t forgive is broken and in need of the Lord’s healing hands.
Forgiveness is a difficult muscle to work and a very hard task to complete well. It takes humility, practice, and prayer for us to stay strong and truly embrace this type of forgiveness that God calls us to. I hope these practical tips about how to forgive will encourage your heart and bless you as you go about your life.  When God asks us to forgive, we can rest assured that He will give us everything we need to follow through and choose the path of forgiveness and healing.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

 

~Blog post by Autumn Cockrell

10 Bible Verses for Healing

10 Bible Verses for Healing
I don’t know about you, but whenever I find myself facing hard times, God’s word has always been my go-to.  There truly is a verse and a promise in God’s word for everything.  God’s word is like a healing balm to our hurting hearts.  God constantly uses His word to remind us that His plans for us are always good, even when we are walking through some rough storms.
We go through many seasons in our life, some hard and some full of blessing.  Sometimes after going through a season of hurt we need to experience a season of healing. Whatever hurt God has asked you to walk through, you can find comfort in knowing that there is going to be healing in His plan for you.
There are many verses in the Bible that talk about God’s healing. It truly is such an amazing thing that God cares so deeply for our hurting hearts. I wanted to share some of my favorite verses in the Bible about healing. Whether you are longing for God’s healing or have experienced His healing touch, I hope and pray these verses will encourage and comfort your heart.
10 Bible verses that talk about healing and how God comforts us during our seasons of hurt
  1.  “LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.”  Psalm 30:2
  2. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28
  3. “‘But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 30:17
  4. “You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”  Isaiah 38:16-17
  5. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
  6. “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength…Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29,31
  7. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3
  8. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
  9. “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18
  10. “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits —who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” Psalm 103:2-4
May these verses be a reminder of how much our Heavenly Father loves us!  He cares especially for those who are hurting.  In your time of need, draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

Healing Happens

Healing Happens
 I have a message for you today, healing happens. Okay, that’s all, thank you.
To be honest with you all though, that is the main gist of what I want to get on here and say.  But I’ll elaborate a little more. Over the last three months (almost four months now) I have been going through a very hard season in my life.  It has been the hardest season of hurt I’ve had to walk through in my life, but it has also been the most God-filled season of my life too (It was actually in the midst of all the hurt and pain that I felt God put in my heart the idea for this blog). In God’s time, I believe I will get to share with you all my story, but I’m not quite ready yet.
Anyway, it was about a week ago, I was driving into town when suddenly God spoke the message of healing right to my heart. Not even two minutes into driving down the road I was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of healing. I almost began crying, it was that powerful. I honestly don’t know how to describe to you what I felt. It was like something broke down in my heart and for that one beautiful moment, I felt like all the pain I’d been holding onto for so long wasn’t there. It was gone and all I could think about was God’s love covering me.  It still gives me happy chills just thinking about that moment.
As I continued driving I distinctly remember God putting these words in my heart – “healing happens”.   I didn’t hear a voice, but I know it was God’s spirit that put these words in my head.  God was telling me that healing does happen, even if it takes a long time, and that it was finally my time for healing.  But that’s not all, God also made it clear that I needed to share those words that He gave me. Again, I didn’t hear a voice, just a sudden and overwhelming feeling of needing to do something.
So today I am sharing with you all the truth that God spoke to my heart – healing happens. Oh praise that Lord, it happens!

Healing happens in God’s timing and in God’s perfect way. 

If you are in a season of hurt or pain, I want to tell you that healing is coming.  If your situation seems hopeless I want you to know that healing does happen.  Healing takes time.  Just like any physical wound we have, it takes proper care and time for healing to happen. Some wounds take longer to heal and they need more care.  Some wounds will leave a scar, they will heal completely, but they leave a mark on us that can never be erased.  But in all cases, it truly is a miracle that healing happens.
It took almost four months for my broken heart to feel God’s healing and I honestly had come to the point where I was ready to accept the fact that I’d always be hurting. But here I am, finding myself now in this new season of healing.  When I look back I am able to see how all the time I spent processing my hurts and crying out to God for comfort were a necessary part of the process.
If you are waiting for healing, trust the process, let yourself heal. It takes time, and it’s different for everyone, but it happens.  Healing does happen!

I am going to say it one more time – healing happens! Whatever you are going through, keep on trusting in God. Keep on following God and choosing to obey Him down every path He puts before you. There will be hard days but the hard days won’t compare to the overwhelming feeling of love that surrounds your heart when healing finally comes.
As you walk through your storm, let this be the anthem that keeps you strong – healing is going to happen.  Healing is going to be a part of God’s plan for your life!  That’s God’s promise to you.   If you have experienced His amazing and supernatural healing in your life then won’t you join me in praising our amazing God who loves us so much and gives us healing!

Meet Autumn!

Meet Autumn!
Hello everyone!  I’m so excited because today I get to introduce you to someone!
A few months ago when I began creating this blog I was struggling with trying to balance a part-time job and be consistent in creating content.  I was really starting to get overwhelmed but I felt a huge pull from the Lord to keep working on this blog and not give up on it.  The lord kept putting this idea in my head about reaching out and finding someone to help me write on the blog.  Then the Lord kept putting a certain person on my heart.  So I took the chance, I reached out to her and asked her to join me in this journey.  Well, long story short, she said yes and I’m so happy to have her here as a part of this blog. So today I’m introducing you to my friend and writing partner, Autumn!
For today’s post and wanted to create a fun little way for you all to meet her! So I decided to write out a few “get-to-know-you” questions and had Autumn answer them. I hope you all enjoy getting know Autumn a little better through this interview style.

Briefly introduce yourself?

Hello! I’m Autumn and I’m just a California girl who has found herself living in the midwest. I grew up in a Christian household but didn’t accept Christ as my personal Savior until I was thirteen. I’ve been writing since I was nine years old in the form of novels, blog posts, and short stories.

How did you hear about this blog and become a contributor?

I heard about it from Sydney, the creator of the blog! Ten years ago, we went to the same church together and became friends. We stayed at the same church together for many years but I moved out of state about two years ago. We stayed connected via Instagram but reconnected through video calls and now here we are, writing on her blog together!

What did you study in School?

Theatre arts! I grew up studying ballet but when I went to college I wanted to take a different route with my ‘stage career’. I was a performer and in a handful of musicals. I also took a year to study the behind the scene aspect of theatre and actually was hired as a technical assistant at my college’s performing arts center. I worked there for about a year designing lights, building sets, and working sound for events. In my final semester, I was in the school musical as well as building the set!

What would be your dream job?

A mother! I’ve wanted to be a mother since I was a young girl.  To someday be a mother would be a dream come true!

What are your favorite Summer activities?

Hiking, swimming, and I love exploring new parks in the area.

What’s you’re favorite Bible verse?

“I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

What is something that God has been teaching you about this past year?

He has taught me so much about TRUSTING Him. I have always had such a hard time trying to trust Him and always fell into unbiblical thinking surrounding trusting Him. This year, He has truly challenged me and after a lot of fighting, I realized I would not feel peace unless I trusted Him. It’s hard laying my dreams at Christ’s feet and trusting He will do what is best for me, but I trust Him, and hopefully, He will continue this lesson in trust.

10 Bible Verses to Remind You That You are Loved!

10 Bible Verses to Remind You That You are Loved!

Did you know that you are loved!  Infinitely loved far beyond what you can even imagine!  Who is it that loves you so much?  Why, God of course!  God loves you relentlessly and He pursues with abandon.  There is no mistake you could ever make that will keep Him from loving you.
I thought for this week’s post I’d share some encouragement from the Bible about God’s love.

Here are 10 bible verses that tell you about God’s love!

  1. You are precious to God. “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you” Isaiah 43:4
  2. God quiets you with His love. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save, He will rejoice over you with singing, He will quiet you by His love.” Zephaniah 3:17
  3. You are the apple of God’s eye. “Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me under the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17:8
  4. You are engraved on the palm of God’s hand. “Behold I have engraved you on the palm of my hands, your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:16
  5. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
  6. God’s love for you is beyond measure. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
  7. God loved you first. “This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
  8. God lavishes His love on you. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
  9. God’s love is everlasting. “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Jeremiah 31:3
  10. God’s love is steadfast and unchanging. “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

And I could go on and on with many more verses in the Bible that tell you how much God loves you.  God’s love is written all over the Bible!  I hope and pray that these verses will help you see how loved and cherished you are!  You, my dear friend, are so very loved, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.