Good morning Sisters and Brothers! Today I wanted to share with you my very favorite psalm. I hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed me! 🙂
Tonight I wanted to share with you….daily devotionals! They can really aid you in your journey to opening up two way communication with God, no matter what stage you’re at in life. Please “like” and subscribe and as always, may God’s peace and blessings be upon you, Brothers and Sisters!
So for this week’s scripture, (and yes, I’m aware I missed it last week! I’m sorry!) I want to discuss the question “What is the biggest problem in the world today?” I googled that question and came up with more answers than I could shake a stick at, but really, for me, the answer is quite simple. Please, sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy!
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
-Ephesians 4:30-32 (ESV)
Hi there! I’m Mandy from Nest Full of Birds. I just wanted to take some time to introduce myself and tell you a bit about Nest Full of Birds and why I’m writing what I write. Now, you’ll see on the blog that I write about some pretty bold, pretty risky things. I’ve really been through a lot in my life, and I’ve been blessed that God’s seen me through all of it. I feel a lot like Mary Magdalene, having been saved from 7 demons. I owe everything to God. God is my One True Father. I don’t have an earthly Father that I can turn to and for that matter; I really don’t have a mother either. God is it for me.
I was born into an abusive home and right away my mother had to flee from my biological father. He spent a lot of time in prison for drugs and just wasn’t a good person. I’m amazed that my siblings and I survived. It was a horrible situation. Then my step-dad just used me for trash. My whole childhood was rough. I’m a survivor of childhood rape and sexual abuse. Out of that stemmed a lot of issues with PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide. I’ve had 4 suicide attempts – two before I turned 18. I died once, when I was 16, and I remember being so angry when I woke up. I truly wanted to die. But God wasn’t done with me yet and it took a long while, but I’m so glad He saved me.
I’ve struggled with homosexual tendencies. I made the choice to marry my husband, and I’m glad I did! We have two great kids and there’s no looking back for me. I truly fought a hard battle and am happily married to my husband, Anthony. As a result of the battle with homosexuality, I really struggled in the past with porn and alcoholism. I’ve struggled with self-worth. I’ve had a lot of people tell me what a sinner, what an awful, despicable person I am. The only thing they’re right about is that I am indeed a sinner, but fortunately, I’m saved by Grace. I’ve struggled hard with adultery and won that battle. All the glory goes to God for that one.
You know, I thought once I was married that all my troubles with my abusers were over. I was in a safe place, I wasn’t being abused anymore, but I just had no idea how to function in that kind of an environment. I didn’t know yet what to do with a good husband, a happy home and a quiet life, so I gunked it all up. I almost lost my marriage and my kids, but I turned to the Lord and I sought Him with everything I had. I wrestled hard for that blessing; I wasn’t going to stop until I got it. I knew I was made for more. Why else would God save me from so much?
I wasn’t made to be trash. I wasn’t made to be treated like trash and I certainly wasn’t made to be rolling in it, either. And that’s a lot of what I’m writing about on Nest Full of Birds, because at the time I was going through all of this, I couldn’t yet see the bigger picture. I figured there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but since I couldn’t see it, I was getting really discouraged. It’s my mission here at Nest Full of Birds to really bring that message to you.
You’re not stuck in the place you’re in now. You’re not trash.
God has healed me from a lot. It’s because of Him that I’m here right now, talking to all of you. God says in Jeremiah 1:5 that “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”
The King is enamored with your beauty and of you, He is well pleased.
You are not stuck in the place that you’re in right now. God will make a way out of whatever situation you’re in, whether it’s healing or deliverance. You can and should repent and be free from whatever is holding you back. God is ready to hear your prayers right now.
God has done this for me, and He can do this for you if you allow His power in your life. Philippians 4:13 says that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yes you can!
Allow God’s power to over take your lives, beloved Brothers and Sisters.
You are not trash. So I’ll end here, summing up my story and the content of Nest Full of Birds with this scripture from Psalm 23, the Living Bible translation.
Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need! He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most. Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow! Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.
In keeping with the theme of God’s redeeming love for His bride, we’re still looking at Hosea and studying the amazing story there. Recently, I stumbled across this video series from Irving Bible Church and it’s a powerful interpretation of the story of Hosea, as was the movie Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea that I watched a few nights ago. I invite you to watch both the movie and the YouTube video series all the way through, then leave a comment and tell us what you thought of it. (Disclaimer: We are not associated in any way with the Irving Bible Church, other than just being a fan of these videos.) 🙂
I’m never quite sure how I feel about social media in the long-term scheme of things, but I’ve decided to open myself up a bit more and allow people in further than the front door, so to speak. So…if you’re on Facebook and have nothing better to do, look me up and we’ll be Facebook Friends, maybe?
Read: Isaiah 12
A common theme of my blog is growing and changing – pushing off from where I was to make a better future for myself and my family from what we’ve had in the past. Like many men and women from the Bible, I’ve made many grievous mistakes in this life, yet I seek the God who will rip the sin from my hands and feed me – truly feed me spiritual food and wash me clean.
I could live a lifetime of regret, thinking about all the people I’ve hurt, all the opportunities wasted, all the messages I’ve failed to hear, but what would that really solve? I’m not advocating a hardened heart, but rather a repentant one. Repent, friends, and be free from all of that. Those moments are past, and there is little you can do to fix it sometimes. I’ve lost some truly wonderful friends due to my selfish and destructive behavior. Recently, I’ve wanted to reach out to them and apologize, to try to make things right, but I know it’s not possible. They are as gone from my life as my abuser and his wife. If there were ever to be reconciliation, it will have to come from God and God alone. No amount of meddling, regret, apologizing or pleading can make it otherwise. I’d lie and say I easily accept this, but what good would that do, Brothers and Sisters? It hurts to know I’ve foolishly thrown away a friendship, yet I know I can still pray for their success and joy in this life. I do not need to allow myself to marinate in regret, or open up old wounds for them. I can pray and move on, growing and changing as the Lord sees fit.
Thought for the week: You are never stuck in the place where you are right now. No matter how repugnant others say you are, you are God’s blessed, beloved son or daughter. You belong to the King and He will always come after you to save you, even from yourself. Call out to Him now.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I need You in my life. I am lost, lonely, confused. I’ve made some poor choices in my life and I need Your help to grow and change beyond the person I am today. Give me the strength to fight this battle, the faith to know that You are with me, and the courage to keep going even when others say I should quit. I also need Wisdom and Peace that can come only from You. It’s in Your Holy and Precious Name I pray, Jesus. Amen.
Last night I was in the mood for a movie and as I searched through Netflix, I was a little disappointed by some of their choices for Faith and Spirituality films. I was looking for something that would shake up my world a bit, but I wasn’t really finding it, until I saw this movie entitled “Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea“. It was exactly what I needed to watch.
The story of Hosea is one that makes many Christians cringe – some because they can’t fathom living Hosea’s life, being “forced” to stay married to Gomer and some because they know firsthand what kind of struggle Gomer was forced to fight, being married to Hosea.
I’m aware that empathizing with Gomer is not a popular side to take, however, aside from my own personal story, we are all like Gomer. You see, Hosea is a story of God’s redeeming love for mankind, despite man’s disobedience and betrayal of God. We are, each of us, Gomer at our truest form. We are each despicable, repugnant and riddled with faults, yet our God loves us no matter what we do. He will take us back into His arms and He has paid a hefty price for us each time we find ourselves drenched in the stink of sin.
1 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. 3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”
4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.
Hosea Chapter 3
God sent His own Son to pay for our sins, yet we’ve bowed down to other gods, served ourselves before considering God’s commands, and at times, hated God for not giving us what we want. It amazes me that God’s love is so great that He could overlook all of these faults and still pull us to Him. Hosea is living out God’s will in the absolute most difficult situation possible, pointing the way to the teachings and life mission of Jesus. How many of us could say that we would be willing to love someone who did not love us back? It’s not a pleasant thought is it? Could we love a whore like Gomer? Could we forgive her? Could we be her friend? Could we overlook her faults in order to love her to Christ? Could we place ourselves in her shoes and try to understand why she has such a difficult time accepting free love instead of chasing after the pain of abusive and deadly “love”?
Many of us cannot and furthermore will not, yet…we are all a lot like Gomer, married to Hosea (God), yet unable to fully accept His free gift of love – love that covers a multitude of sins and is far from self-serving.
I am married to Hosea and I’m so glad He’s never given up on me. When I saw nothing worth redeeming, He did. When I chased after abusive, damaging “love”, He still chased after me, pulling me toward Him.
1 Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
2 Take words with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
“Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
3 Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount warhorses.
We will never again say ‘Our gods’
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion.”
4 “I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots;
6 his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
7 People will dwell again in his shade;
they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like the vine—
Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.
8 Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a flourishing juniper;
your fruitfulness comes from me.”
9 Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
Hosea Chapter 14