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Fully Surrendered – No Matter the Cost

by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
Keynote Speaker, CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries

Surrendered to do a difficult task

God gave Jeremiah a very difficult task – he was to stand in the court of the Lord’s house and speak to all the cities of Judah who came to worship — and the news he was to tell them, was not good news at all. God had a message for the people, and it was Jeremiah’s job to give them the message. It is what God had called him to do.

Surrendered to deliver God’s Message

Regardless of how unpleasant the news or how hard it was to deliver, Jeremiah surrendered in obedience to do what God told him to do. God said the nation of Judah, through Jeremiah, “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you to heed the words of My servants the prophets whom I sent to you, both rising up early and sending them (but you have not heeded), then I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.”

Shiloh was about 18 miles north of Jerusalem. It was where the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant were set up after the conquest of Canaan but was destroyed by the Philistines in 1050 BC after the battle of Ebenezer (see Psalm 78:60-64 and 1 Samuel 4:-11). So basically God said, “Return to me or I will destroy you.” Because of their unrepentant sin, God had turned against them and was now prepared to remove them from the land He had given them and He would send a pagan king to do it.

Being surrendered often has consequences

As you can expect, the priests, prophets, and people who heard the message we not very happy with it. They seized him saying, “Why have you prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without an inhabitant’?” They pleaded their case against Jeremiah to the princes and Jeremiah defends himself with great courage. He was brief and straightforward and stated that his message originated with God. He didn’t back down. In fact, he said to them, “here I am; do with me as seems good and proper to you.” Jeremiah does get a “happy ending” when the princes declare that Jeremiah does not deserve to die.

Totally surrendered

Jeremiah was totally surrendered to God. When the task got difficult he didn’t talk about stress, burnout, or compassion fatigue. He didn’t “sugar coat” the message. He delivered it exactly as God had said it. Jeremiah had to have known the people wouldn’t like the message, but he didn’t back down. He understood what was at stake and throughout the book we see him weeping over the people. Because of this, he has been dubbed, “the weeping prophet.”

He knew (because God had disclosed it to him) that the foreign nations were coming and that the nation of Israel would be scatted. But that wasn’t the only reason he cried. No matter how hard he tried to tell them what was coming because of their unrepentant sin, they would not listen. And so, when God tells him to stand in the court of the temple and deliver His message to the people, Jeremiah does so, even though it might cost him his life. He was so confident in who God was and trusted him so completely, that he is able to say to the people who are ready to kill him, “Here I am, in your hand; do with me as seems good and proper to you.”

Are you living as surrendered as Jeremiah?

What about you? Are you able to live so fully and completely surrendered to God that you can freely and without hesitation say to God, “Here I am, in your hand; do with me as seems good and proper to you.” Most of us would have a very difficult time saying those words to God with heartfelt meaning. We might say something more like, “Here I am Lord, do whatever you want with me….except don’t ask me to go overseas and be a missionary.” Or maybe we’d say, “Here I am Lord, I’ll do whatever you ask of me, just don’t ask me to give my bonus check to the church, okay?” Or maybe it sounds more like, “Here I am God, I’ll forgive anyone you want me to…just not that person over there.”

As long as we are offering to serve God on our own terms, we are not fully surrendered to Him. Often what He calls us to do is hard – very hard. If you want to be fully surrendered, then you have to let go of everything.

Focus on the One who is in Control

Sometimes instead of focusing on what we are letting go of, we need to focus on the One who is in control. When Jeremiah said, “I’m in your hands,” he was saying “You have all the power and authority to do whatever you want to me.” Have you thought about what it is like to be in the hand of the omniscient, omnipotent God? As scary as it is to give up your control, there is no safer or better place to be than in the hands of God who loves us with an everlasting love.

What’s holding you back from being totally surrendered to God so that He has control over every part of your life? Those parts that are not totally surrendered – they’re your idols.

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Satan is constantly trying to trip us up and he doesn’t even play fair because he uses our own desires as bait to get us to sin. James tells us the five steps that lead us down the path to sin in James 1:14-15, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” This download helps you identify your desires so that you can better recognize when Satan is baiting you and you can avoid falling into sin. When used along with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to identify the desires that Satan baits you with, you can then ask the Holy Spirit to help you not become a victim to the bait of your desires. Download the worksheet today.

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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce

What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

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Praying for Revival

A daily verse about the state of our nation and time for Christians reflect and unite in prayer, asking God to send a revival across our land and turn our nation back to Him. If you long for revival in America (or your nation) we invite you to reflect on these daily verses and join us in praying for revival.

Today’s Bible verse for Revival

Praying for Revival

Father, King Jotham was a lot like many of our leaders today. In verse 2 of 2 Chronicles 27, we find Jotham’s half-hearted attempt at being a good king. This verse says, “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord according to all that his father Uzziah had done, except he did not enter the temple of the Lord.” The result was that all the people still followed corrupt practices. Even though he did not enter the temple, he still ordered his ways before You and acknowledged you and his God. So you blessed him and he became mighty. God we don’t want to be a nation that half-heartedly follows you, but we surrender in full our hearts to you and to do what is right in your eyes, including worshiping you in our churches. As we surrender in full, totally and completely, we ask that you bless our nation and make in mighty. May your glory be made known throughout the world because America loves and fears you with total obedience to You.  

Lord, send a revival and let it begin in me.

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God, Love, and Marshmallow Wars

by Julia M. Bruce

What’s Inside God, Love, and Marshmallow Wars?

This book includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on
  • Conversation Starters
    • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages
    • Romance Builders
    • Relationship Builders
    • Personal reflections
    • Date ideas
    • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobel. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

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 Join the community of couples on Facebook who are committed to intentionally growing their marriage and learning how to have a marriage that honors God. Here you can post photos of the different activities as you do them, ask questions of other couples, share how God is using this book to strengthen your marriage, and grow with other Christian couples. We’ll see you in the community.


Need some music to get you through the day? Check out one of our Playlists on YouTube

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Or Click here for the Hymns Playlist

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The Eternal Blood Donor (Hebrews 9:12)

by Julia Bruce
CEO, Author, and Conference Speaker
Image result for crucifixion of jesus
But by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  –Hebrews 9:12

What’s the rarest blood type?

Have you ever given blood? We all know that being a blood donor saves lives. Yet, if a person receives the wrong type of blood, it can have the opposite affect. The more rare your blood type the harder it can be to find a donor. And even if you find the right donor, it doesn’t mean you live forever. Only One person is the eternal blood donor.

Years ago when I was in a car accident and doctors were considering surgery, they began looking to relatives to donate blood. My dad had the same blood type, but had cancer so they couldn’t use his. My younger sister had the same blood type, but she was pregnant, so they couldn’t use hers. Her husband, my brother-in-law, was also the same blood type and he donated blood for me. I’m not a rare blood type. Mine is rather common. However, the rarest type is AB negative and only 1 in 167 people (0.6% of the population) have it. On a bloodmobile sign one day was the following statement: “The rarest blood type is the one that’s not there when you need it.” Thankfully, our eternal blood donor is always there and ready to share His life-giving blood that washes away our sin.

The “universal” donor

On the other hand, a person with O-negative is considered a universal donor because it can be mixed with any other blood type and have the ability to save lives. However, it’s life saving power is only temporary because everyone is appointed to die at some point (Hebrews 9:27).

The Eternal blood donor

There is yet another supply of blood and it has power to give eternal life and is available to everyone – simply for the asking. 1 John 1:7 tells us, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Adam and Eve are the only humans that ever had a choice to live or die. They were told not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil for in the day they did eat of it they would die. When they chose to eat it, they chose death and that meant death for every person throughout history. Jesus also had a choice and He chose death – but His death would give us the choice to choose eternal life by faith in Him or eternal separation by rejecting Him.

In the Old Testament, animals were sacrificed on the altar by a priest so that the people could have forgiveness of sin but it had to be done over and over again. It was the death of Jesus and the shedding of His blood that satisfied our sin debt to a holy God as the payment of our sins. Because Christ choose death, we can choose to cry out in faith to God, repent of our sin, ask for His forgiveness and find salvation and eternal life. Through His blood that cleanses us from all sin, He gives us eternal life – now that’s a blood transfusion!

Eternal Blood is Free!

The best news is that Jesus’ blood is a free gift to all who accept it by faith. Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Who can receive this free gift? John 3:16 gives us the answer: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Whosoever…that means you! Regardless of who you are or what you’ve done – you are a “whosoever!”

How do you get this free gift? Simply by believing that Jesus is the Son of God, acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, and asking Jesus to save you and cleanse you of your sin. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

So if you are in need of an eternal blood transfusion, why not ask Jesus to forgive your sins and be your Savior right now?

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God, Love, and Marshmallow Wars

What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

This book includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on
  • Conversation Starters
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages
  • Romance Builders
  • Relationship Builders
  • Personal reflections
  • Date ideas
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobel. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

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 Join the community of couples on Facebook who are committed to intentionally growing their marriage and learning how to have a marriage that honors God. Here you can post photos of the different activities as you do them, ask questions of other couples, share how God is using this book to strengthen your marriage, and grow with other Christian couples. We’ll see you in the community.

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Get a Handle on Anger (James 1:19-20)

by Julia Bruce
CEO, Author, and Conference Speaker

Think before you speak

regret

Doesn’t this verse just punch right in the gut? I mean, my natural tendency is if it pops in my brain, it’s out of my mouth in the same second! I can remember in my late teens my mom saying that she never knew what was going to come out of my mouth when I opened it….and more often than not, I ended up regretting what was said.  The Message Bible puts it this way: “Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger.”[1]

Got Anger?

There are many reasons that we get angry. Lack of patience, being under a lots of stress, worry about paying the bills, marriage problems, rebellious children….and THAT driver that cut us off this morning. Sometimes it’s as simple as we didn’t get our way about something.

One important thing to point out is that not all anger is bad. Anger is an emotion that God gave us. Jesus even displayed a righteous anger in the temple when the money changers were cheating the people. James understood that there will be times where we get angry, but his words of caution to be “slow to anger” are wise words to follow.

Angry-man

This doesn’t mean that we allow anger to build and fester, letting it slowly rise up. That will only lead to an uncontrollable explosion later on. I believe that James’ words of wisdom are meant for us to stop, step back, evaluate the situation and form a proper response before we let our words and actions cause us sin.

Let your words be few

Proverbs 10:19 teaches, When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise.”[2] Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, “Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”[3] Most of us have heard the saying, “God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we could listen twice as much as we speak.” In studying these verses, the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible took this a little further and said, “the ears are open and exposed, whereas the tongue is walled in behind the teeth.”[4] Our teeth and lips are like two gates to our words and there are times when those gates should be locked.

Why is it important for us to be “slow to speak” and “slow to anger”?

christ in mirror

As a Christian, every word we say is a reflection of Christ. If we speak as a reaction to things and circumstances, do those words honor and glorify our Savior? We know this concept as a head-knowledge, but do we practice it? A few verses down (verse 22) James says, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”

So if it’s important enough that God put this teaching throughout the Bible from several different authors, how can we be sure that we are putting it into practice? So often the words that come out of our mouth will either put out an argument or give it fuel to burn hotter.

Here are five questions you can ask in any situation to help you decide if you need to unlock the gates to your words or just be “quick to hear.”

S – Does it glorify my Savior?
P – Does it lead me to Pray for others or circumstance?
E – Does it Edify and Encourage others?
A – Does it Affirm the truth?
K – Does it advance the Kingdom of God?

Jesus

Does it glorify my Savior?

In Ephesians, Paul writes, “You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.”[5] Because we put off the old way of life and put on the new self of God’s likeness, when the world looks at us as Christians, they should see God through our lives – every word we say, every action, every facial expression. They should see God in our work ethics and habits, in our home life, in our recreational activities, and every other aspect of our lives. They should see God in how we treat other people and they should see us love all people as Christ loves them.

But let’s get real…we are not always going to agree and there are going to be times that we get angry. Anger is one of the emotions that God gave us when He created mankind. So when these times come, how do we then glorify Christ? We can find the answer in 1 Peter 3:15-16 – “but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.”[6] (Emphasis added)

Even in our anger, we need to approach people with both gentleness and respect. Sometimes that might mean we take some time and separate ourselves from the circumstance or person and seek wisdom and guidance from God…which leads us to the P in SPEAK.

praying-man

Does it lead me to Pray for others or circumstance?

Every day people all around us need for us to be intercessors and go to God on their behalf in prayer. It’s what being a prayer warrior is all about. As we are “quick to hear,” we can take the concerns and problems other people are facing and pray for them and their circumstances. Mountains are moved and God does amazing things when we come before him and lay our concerns for ourselves and others at His feet.

Being “slow to anger” also means that we are taking time to pray about why we are angry. We can ask God to show us if there is justification to our anger or is pride the underlying motivation to why we are angry? We can ask God to forgive us if He shows us that in that circumstance, anger is not justifiable. If there is just cause for anger, than we can ask him for wisdom on how we should handle the situation and ask Him to help us be forgiving towards the person that caused it.

Does it Edify and Encourage others?

encourage

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing[7] Over in Proverbs (15:1), we read, “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.”[8] Kindness, gentleness, and a soft answer often lowers the intenseness of a situation while responding with your own hot words of anger will make the whole situation worse. Look for ways that you can build the other person up and encourage them. Let them know you understand their side and be sure your words are calm, gentle and not accusing. Be sure your words also edify Christ.

Does it Affirm the truth?

speak truth in love

When we are angry, we often see things skewed or slanted the way we want to see them. Evaluate the situation honestly and trying to see things from both viewpoints will help us make sure that the words we say truly reflect the whole situation…the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But even in speaking truth, we need to do so in gentleness and love. (Ephesians 4:15)

Jesus with couple

Does it advance the Kingdom of God?


In any situation we find ourselves in, we need to be sure that the words we say lead people to Christ and not away from Him. This also includes HOW we say the words. Our tone of voice and body language are even more important than the words we say.

Why is anger such a big deal?

whats-the-big-deal

Weather our anger is justified or not, there are many consequences to anger. Often anger leads to thoughts and actions that are not in line with God’s expectations….which then become sin. Anger is an emotion that triggers our “fight or flight” response which floods the adrenal glands with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. As a result, our heart rate and blood pressure rises, our respirations increase, and body temperatures rise. When there is a constant flood of these stress chemicals and anger goes unmanaged, both short and long-term health problems appear, including headache, digestion issues and abdominal pain, insomnia, increased anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, skin problems, heart attack, and/or stroke.9 Other consequences to anger can also include: hurting our relationships with others, guilt, physically hurting others or property, and legal problems. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.”

What to do when anger rolls in

man-breathing-controlling-anger

Whenever you find yourself with anger boiling up inside, reflect on James 1:19-20 and take the time to stop, step back, evaluate the situation and form a proper response before you let your words and actions cause you to sin.

Is this anger helping or hurting?

Stop and ask: “Is this anger helping or hurting?” Almost always the answer will be loud and clear…HURTING. However, to be able to answer honestly, we also need to step back and evaluate the situation. In the heat of the moment, all we can see is the reason making us angry. So it’s helpful if we can remove ourselves for even just a few moments. In those moments, take a deep breath and hold to the count of three. Slowly let the breath out and repeat a few times. At the same time, silently pray for God to give you wisdom for the situation and to help you not say anything that would bring further harm to the situation or escalate feelings. Ask him to reveal to you any way you may have contributed to the situation and then ask His forgiveness. When other people are involved, you will also need to be able to return to them and ask their forgiveness for any part you played in the situation.

Work on a proper response

Once you have stopped, stepped back and evaluated the situation, we need to work on a proper response. This is where the “quick to hear” becomes valuable. Hearing how other people are feeling is important. Their side of the story is just as justified as our own. So commit to setting aside your own feelings and take the time to be “quick to hear.” Listening….true listening…takes skill and is a learning process.

To be a good listener, start by facing the person you are talking to and make eye contact with them. Be attentive, but take on a relaxed stance. Your tone of voice and body language speaks much louder than your words and even if what you are saying is true your tone of voice and body language can still cause the argument to escalate. Listen to the words the person is saying and try to picture in your mind what the person is conveying to you. See their side. Stand in their shoes. Avoid interrupting them and throwing out solutions. Wait for the other person to pause or end what they are saying and then ask clarifying questions so that you are sure you understand them. Begin by saying something like, “What I think you are trying to say is….” Once you have a clear understanding of their side, calmly and with gentleness explain what made you angry. Then work together towards a solution, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Overcome the urge to blurt in a moment of anger

Overcoming the urge to blurt out words the moment they pop in our brain takes effort and when our natural tendency or habit is to blurt out our thoughts, we can often end up regretting what we say or we can start an argument that breaks down our relationships and leads to anger. When we take James’ advice to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, we are able to keep our words behind the gates of our teeth and lips until we have a moment to think about what we say and how we say it. If you are ever unsure if you should say something, remember this: Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity (Colossian 3:14) because hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12) and we should maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

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[1] Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Jas 1:19–20). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
[2] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Pr 10:19). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
[3] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Ec 5:2). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
[4] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 485). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[5] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Eph 4:22–24). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
[6] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (1 Pe 3:15–16). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
[7] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (1 Th 5:11). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
[8] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Pr 15:1). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
[9] Better Health Channel (2017). Anger – how it affects people. Online article.

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