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Graceful Perseverance: FORGIVENESS

Posted November 19th, 2017 @ 07:11am

Welcome back to this week's blog. This week is a tough subject, forgiveness. A lesson we must all learn that feels like it takes a lifetime to get right, with others and ourselves. Whether you are a Christian or a non-believer, this life lesson applies to all of us, not just some of us but all of us. None of us can live a life of peace if we don't discover humility to first forgive ourselves and then forgive others. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:32.

Over the course of my life, first I've had to learn to forgive my biological parents. When I was six years old, both parents signed the adoption papers when they decided they no longer wanted me as their daughter. Forgiving my mother took 26 years of therapy, as two doctors and three social workers diagnosed her as a paranoid schizophrenia who severely abused me from the age of 0-6. What I learned about this lesson of forgiveness is she was very seriously mentally ill, and was not cognitively aware of her actions, thoughts or behaviors in her role as a mother.

Sometimes in life it's easier to forgive someone who has wronged you when you take into consideration they were or are suffering with an illness as a result of their actions. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. - Luke 23:34. Doesn't make the pain and the loss any less, but it helps with discernment. In my life, my mother had a very serious illness that provoked her to severely physically, and emotionally abuse her daughters. I had to learn to forgive her for robbing me of a childhood. I had to learn to forgive her for not loving me as a normal mother would love and nurture her children.

I had to relive my childhood and the daily abuse in order to bring closure to the pain and loss and abandonment my little girl carried around her entire life. With many years of therapy, and a lot of spiritual growth, I found peace to forgive her so that I could go on with my life. I live out my reward today. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. - Matthew 6:14-15.

I no longer have to carry the weight of my anger, bitterness, revenge, hatred, hurt and the loss of not growing up as a normal child, and not knowing my biological family because of my mother's illness. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. It has everything to do with our own internal work.

Forgiving my father was next lesson of forgiveness in my life. I'm still pondering if I've really forgiven my father for not fighting for me, but signing the adoption papers knowing full well that he may never see his daughter Debra ever again. I'm close to forgiving him, but this too is a process. The hurt and sadness still surface. I've learned to manage the "trigger points" of life that cause the flooding of emotions that come back to me due to the loss of my earthly father. One thing that I have learned that's been valuable in my life; you can forgive someone who has wronged you, but forgiveness doesn't mean that you have to have them be a part of your life today.

Forgiveness is always the healthy thing to do, more for ourselves than for anyone. With forgiveness comes comfort and peace that it is over and closure is now resting. Even though I've forgiven my parents who have wronged me in my life, doesn't mean that I have to include them in my life. We can forgive someone, but free will allows us choose to walk away so that we can live out our lives in peace. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. - Matthew 6:14.

Scripture time and time again demonstrates what God commands of us when it comes to forgiveness. He teaches us in scripture how to first forgive ourselves of any sin, any wrong doings we have done to ourselves or to others. It's hard to get down on bended knee and confess what wrong doings you have caused others. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. - Mark 11:25.

Admitting that we've done wrong is truly humbling and frees the soul from the guilt and shame. Guilt and shame will always take up space in our heads if we haven't learned to forgive ourselves for hurting or causing someone else pain. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

If we don't learn to forgive ourselves, we live in a whirlwind of disarray. Disaster follows disaster in our lives. We find ourselves depressed, filled with anxiety and shame. We quickly learn to disrespect our bodies and our lives as a result. Shame and blame take turns stirring in our minds a continual message that convinces us that we are worthless and not worthy of anything good in this life. Carrying this burden is not God's will for our lives. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:13-14. 

If our Heavenly Father has forgiven us for our sinful ways, then why is it such a struggle for us to humble ourselves and forgive those who have wronged us in our lives? We need to love one another above all else, which is pleasing to the Lord.

Blessings until next week,

Debra Pauli

Unstoppable Believer

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Graceful Perseverance: Living with Jesus

Posted November 12th, 2017 @ 09:11am

Welcome to this week's blog. This week I am touching on the reality of our Godly or not so Godly behaviors in private and in public places. How do we behave in front of others? Are we the same person in private? The bigger question for all of us is: If Jesus were living with us, would we behave any differently? I challenge all of us to become more aware of who we "pretend" to be in public, as opposed to who we are behind closed doors.

What amazes me, is that most non-believers and even Christians cannot comprehend that regardless of our behaviors in public or private, Jesus sees us in every situation. He knows our thoughts and our hearts better than we do. He is always with us, watching over us, and by our side regardless of what we think or believe. The validity of our behavior as Christians, and as witnesses, must be apparent even when no one is around.

If Jesus were in your home and sitting next to you while you were watching TV, would you still be watching the same television shows or would you turn the channel to something cleaner and less evil or provocative because Jesus is there?

If Jesus were a guest at your dinner table, would you behave the same way? Or would you be more diligent in prayer and more loving towards others at the table?

If Jesus could hear you and your spouse having a conversation, would that conversation be without vulgar language or disrespect?

Regardless of how you answered each of these questions pertaining to your private life, Jesus is with you always. He sees all the good things we do, and he sees our sinful nature as well. We cannot escape or pretend to be something we're not in the eyes of God. We can't manipulate, or be insincere in front of Jesus, because he is the Master of the Universe, the maker of everything. He is everywhere all the time. He sees us pretending to be the devoted Christians on Sunday morning in church. And He sees us leaving church with slander and vulgar language falling from our lips. He sees us with mocking and gossiping behavior, condemning and laughing behind others' backs.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye..." - Matthew 7:1-20.

We cannot be living with God on Sundays, but not Monday through Friday. He sees us pretending to be better than anyone else because we call ourselves Christians. By definition, the word Christian is more than a description of someone's beliefs and behavior, it's a combination of our words and actions being equally devoted to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. He sees all of it.

Examples of Christian behavior are woven throughout scripture. It is these examples that we are to live by. Jesus himself spoke in great length and in great detail of how we are to behave toward each other, towards friends and even enemies and persecutors.

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. - Ephesians 5:1.

Scripture tells us how Jesus lived his life here on earth, with accentuated love and compassion for all, including Christians, non-believers, the sinners, the evil doers, the corrupted, the lost, the forgotten, the homeless and those who were weak in their faith. Jesus lived out his life in a way that consummates the ideal example of what our behavior should look like.

To do good works means all the time. Not some of the time or only when we feel like it, but all the time, which means in both private and in public settings. It would be hypocritical of us to behave in a Jesus, Christ-like manner in public, and then in the privacy of our homes with our family and friends, behave the opposite of what is "holy and pleasing to God." I know I am always challenging my behavior in both public and in private. Probably more so in private because that's where many of us believe that no one will see us and if we fall short and break a commandment no one will know.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6:8.

It is in the privacy of our homes where we can say or do whatever is pleasing to the flesh and not have to abide by the Christian behavior God has called us to do. We think we won't be held accountable for cruel and sinful behaviors because no one can see us. Contrary to this belief, God sees everything, everywhere, all the time. He sees our sinful nature. We don't answer to each other, we answer to the Lord above anyone else. He knows when we are not loving our neighbor as we love ourselves even behind their backs. 

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 27:37-40. 

Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us. True Christian behavior is surrendering our hearts and yielding our sinful bodies to Christ so that He might continue God's work through us and in us. What does this mean? Love your enemies, love the ones who have wronged you in your life and be a witness, a beacon of light in a dark world.

Blessings until next week,

Debra Pauli

Unstoppable Believer

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Graceful Perseverance: Are we right now in end times?

Posted November 5th, 2017 @ 07:11am

Welcome back to this week's blog. I want to continue the subject of last week's blog "God at Work" and the book of Daniel. Today's topic points directly to the question many of us have been seeking - Are we now in end times?

This is a repetitive theme, but God is in control. Some would call me an extremist, but I do believe in end times, last book of the bible - the Book of Revelation. Are all of the natural disasters a message from God that the day of the Lord is near? Is this God's coming of judgement and destruction and we the people are unprepared? Is this God's warning for us to surrender our lives to Him now before it's too late? Luke 17:26-30. Is the world seeing the last warning message from God? Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision; for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. - Joel 3:14).

If this is the final warning, the call of mercy, what must we do to be saved? What does it really mean to "surrender" our lives to the Lord if we want to be "saved?" If you aren't convinced that God's word, the living, Holy Bible, is not the authority over all of mankind and over Heaven and earth, read Daniel 2:31-45. It talks about the future kingdom of this world leading up to the end of time.

We are living right at the end of time! You don't have to take my word for it, but I would pay close attention to the word of the Lord, which is His truth was written centuries ago.

Below are a handful of Biblical Truths (end of time signs) I looked up and studied in scripture that answer the worldly question: Are we right now in end times?

Daniel 2:31-45 - Historical evidence

"Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue - an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of Heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory, in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Whenever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold.

After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron - for iron breaks and smashes everything - and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

In the time of those kings, the God of Heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands - a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

"The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy."

Daniel 12:4 - Increase of knowledge

But you, Daniel roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.

Revelation 13:17 - Ability to enforce the mark

So that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 - Man of sin revealed

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

Matthew 24:37 - Violence and Sexual Immortality

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Luke 17:28-30 - Violence and Sexual Immortality

It was the same as the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

1 Timothy 4:1 - Rise in Spiritualism

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Hosea 4:3 - Mass animal deaths

Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away.

Luke 21:25-26 - Natural Disasters

There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

Matthew 24:7 - Earthquakes

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

Daniel 12:4 - Unsealed Prophecy

But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end.

Matthew 24:4-5, 11 - False Christ and Prophets

Jesus answered, "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah,' and will deceive many....and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 - World pushing for peace

While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Matthew 24:6 - War

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 

Matthew 24:7 - Famine

Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

Matthew 24:9-10 - Christians being killed

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.

Matthew 24:12 - Increase in sin

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. 

2 Timothy 4:3-4 - Christians turn away from the truth

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Revelation 11:18 - God destroys those who destroy the earth

The nations were angry, and your wrath has come.

Matthew 24:14 - Gospel preached to the world

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and the end will come.

Now I will leave you pondering on this worldly question - "Are we right now in end times?" I'd also encourage you to turn this question inward and personalize this with your God. Reach out to Him in prayer for answers, for His gospel for centuries has provided all of mankind with interpretation that is trustworthy.

Centuries ago Jesus preached His commands to His disciples so that they would pass down their tablets and scrolls to future generations that are now available to us today through the living bible. They call it the "living" bible because the stories told then are very much applicable to our life stories today. Absorb our ancestors' knowledge, the wisdom and the discernment that the living bible offers generations today. It is there to guide us down a straight path. Every parable, psalm and proverb, as well as each book in the old and new testaments describes to us an account of how we are to live while we are here on this earth.

We should all expect to be witnesses to this truth in these end times. He has shown us multiple signs of end times in scripture - natural disasters, earthquakes, flooding of the seas, increase in sin, false god's appearing to deceive us, Christians being killed, people leaving their faith, sexual immortality. Destruction is all around us, which is why we must keep our faith strong. Be watchful and stay in prayer. God warns us multiple times in scripture what to watch for (end of times signs) and to avoid deceitfulness and false gods at all costs.

He desires us to live out the gospel right up to the end of times so that we may be lifted up and taken back to our eternal home in heaven while the earth's destruction and disappearance are unfolding. His word proclaims who will be taken up with Him and have eternal life in Heaven with our Heavenly Father and who will not. As I said in last week's blog message, I do believe God is in control of Heaven and earth and everything in it. This is biblical truth that has been passed down for centuries. He is the Master of the Universe, our Creator.

Blessings until next week,

Debra Pauli

Unstoppable Believer

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