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http://www.michellebenthamcreates.com

Please visit me at REDEEMED...RESTORED...RELEASED: One Woman's Story of Living Free to read more about what God is doing in my life and how He is working those things to set me free. Thanks so much for following, visiting, reading all about it and supporting me as you have done so many times these last few years. If you follow my other blogs, the posts from all three of my blogs are going to be transferred to the new digs for one big blog about our journey to restoration and freedom in Christ.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday's In Other Words: The Joy of My Salvation

Blessed and enviably happy [with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!
Matthew 5:4 (AMP)
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This week's IOW quote is from a sermon taught by Robert Morris. When he began the series "Happiness Redefined" he began by explaining just what the Amplified version of the Bible shows us, that being blessed in a Biblical sense means happy and enviable. I could relate to what he was teaching because a season of mourning had been my life for many months. But then he took the message to a new level:


Is it possible we could experience the joy of our salvation if we mourned [over our sin] as if someone had died? We cannot experience joy without mourning.”

~Pastor Robert Morris, Gateway Church. From the Sermon: “Those who mourn are happy”~
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Throughout this series, Pastor Robert drove home the point that the Beautitudes were about more than just a state of Blessing, but he pointed to each step in our Spiritual Journey with God from Salvation to growth through Persecution. Every level listed in the Beautitudes represented a milestone in the Christian experience and a new state of Blessing that followed. So when he got to this message and shared this insight I began to say - that is what I've experienced... Truly. Not in the grief over my son, but in the grief I had experienced over my past, my sin and the cost of Salvation paid on my behalf.
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"Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (AMP)
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For me I had shame, regret and a deep sense of guilt over my sinful past - over the prodigal years I spent squandering my youth in wild living and contaminating the lives of my children with ungodly, unsanctified behavior. I hated the person I had become back then and spent years running from the truth of my existence. I was certain God was angry with me, and would want nothing more to do with me if I poured out all those years of painful, self-induced misery before Him.
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And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord! the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.
Exodus 34:6-7 (AMP)
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I was in every way guilty of the most heinous and vile sins. I was the harlot caught in adultery waiting to be stoned, the thief waiting for them to cut off my hands, and worst of all I walked into a church as the new wife of a good, unsaved man and pretended - yes, PRETENDED to be good, too. The only problem with a past full of sin - there are skeletons from that dead life wondering around in your closet just DYING to get out. Better to get them out before God than in front of a congregation full of your "closest" friends. Get my meaning?
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"If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts]. 9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. 10 If we say (claim) we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be false and a liar, and His Word is not in us [the divine message of the Gospel is not in our hearts]. "
1 John 1:8-10 (AMP)
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As a growing Christian I had heard many leaders in the church say that their past was covered by the Blood and they did not have to deal with that past anymore because it was forgiven. I began to claim that for my past, too. Only problem: I had never surrendered my past to God allowing Him to cover it by His Blood. I convinced myself there was no need to confess those sins because I had already said, "God I'm sorry for everything I've ever done wrong. Thank you for forgiving me in Jesus Name, AMEN."
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But, was that enough?
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Not according to 1 John 1:9... Confession. Naming and agreeing with God what I had knowingly done against His will and His Word to put Christ upon that cross for my personal sins. That is confession. I had more than ten years of past that I had left unconfessed. Let me tell you something about the enemy of our soul... He is waiting for us to leave some stone unturned, some sin unconfessed and uncovered - He is just chomping at the bit to get to God's throne before we do and the words he speak resound in our ears -
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UNWORTHY, UNHOLY, SINNER, BAD, HARLOT, SHAMEFUL, UGLY, UNGRATEFUL, LOSER!
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"10 Then I heard a strong (loud) voice in heaven, saying, Now it has come—the salvation and the power and the kingdom (the dominion, the reign) of our God, and the power (the sovereignty, the authority) of His Christ (the Messiah); for the accuser of our brethren, he who keeps bringing before our God charges against them day and night, has been cast out! 11 And they have overcome (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death [holding their lives cheap till they had to die for their witnessing]."
Revelation 12:10-11 (AMP)
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You name the insult and he is hurling it like a dart straight at your heart of hearts. He used all of those and more on me. I didn't want to confess my sins to God because it meant I would have to face the DEPRAVITY of MY OWN SOUL. I didn't believe I could handle facing what was hidden deep within my heart. It was not because God could not forgive it. He already had. It was because I didn't trust that promise. I believed that if confessed my sins would outweight His grace and I couldn't bear to face that possibility. .
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But God already knew that. In 2003, He arranged six weeks to uncover that sinful heart of mine and expose my sins so we could examine them and He could cleanse me of all that mucky, messy unrighteousness I had walked in as a young woman. He had been waiting for me to trust him with the most bruised and broken places of my life. To confess to Him the most shameful and defiled moments so that He could wash them clean. Heal them. And make me new.

One night, as I lay in bed sleeping a voice startled me awake.
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...GET UP AND WATCH THE VIDEO...
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Believing my dinner was talking and my dreams were a bit too vivid. I glanced at the clock. 3:00 AM. I lay back down and pulled the covers up snuggly around my neck. I sighed heavily before closing my weary eyes begging for a few more hours of sleep..
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...I said GET UP. Watch the Video...

God?
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Watch the video.
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I realized then I was not going to get any rest until I watched the second week's video from Beth Moore's study, "When Godly People Do Ungoldy Things." I kicked out of covers grumbling under my breath much the way a disgruntled child gets up to ready themselves for school. NOT A HAPPY CAMPER..
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I walked in the living room, fumbled in the dimly lit room for the videos and pulled out the DVD of choice. I hastily grabbed my book off the box and sat myself down with a HRUMMPHH! in the recliner. I didn't even bother to turn on the light. .
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Half way through my heart broke into a jillion pieces as every vile and heinous thing I had ever done began to run through my mind. My sin was overwhelming. The volumes of lies, vanity, profanity and shameless flaunting of God's standards ripped at my heart, my soul and my mind. I felt like a knife pierced my heart each time a new memory clouded my mind. One by one, I began to confess those horrific images out loud to God. I was on my knees, face to the ground weeping bitterly over my sin. I confessed my unworthiness and that it was my sin that had cost the Savior His life not just the curse of sin left to us by Adam and Eve in the garden. My choices had crucified Christ. I was broken apart, aching inside - not because of what it had cost me, but because of the precious price that had been paid in my place. I was weeping because of what my sin had cost God.
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That's when it happened. In the midst of an exhausting, full-on ugly cry I confessed the last of the memories that had surfaced in my heart. Then I lay there weeping, struggling to find clarity when I suddenly asked, "God? What do you want me to do now?".

...Go look in the mirror....

Look in the mirror? But God, I've been crying. There's....

... I said, Look in the mirror....

Okay..
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There in that mirror I saw the face of a broken woman. A woman who had finally come clean. A woman who had let go of everything that had been holding God at arm's length for so long and I saw the truth. .
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Look what a mess you made, out of the beauty I created..

Not a moment of that sentence was condemning or mean-spirited. He said, I AM the beauty He created. A few week's later I came face to face with the price that was paid for me. The cross of Christ and His crucifixion described in graphic detail on May 3, 2003. That month in the Spring semester of 2003 changed my life.
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Therefore with joy will you draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And in that day you will say, Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name and by means of His name [in solemn entreaty]; declare and make known His deeds among the peoples of the earth, proclaim that His name is exalted!
Isaiah 12:3-4 (AMP)
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I ran to God with my confessions. .

If I found myself in the midst of a sin, conviction overtook my heart and I poured it to God right that moment. I still pray daily and tell on myself to Him. I tell Him everything I know I've done and I ask Him to make me aware of anything that I have left unconfessed. Oh and the beauty of it is that He does it so gently, so kindly - not accusing or angry. He just says, "See Here, Child. This is what I want to deal with." And it is done.
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The hardest part for me was receiving that grace. But just a few months ago I stood in my bathroom with a song in my heart I didn't understand. Whitney Houston's voice rang through my heart "The Greatest Love of all is happening to me... Learning to love yourself, it is the greates love of all."
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I turned my chin to the sky and cried out to GOD, "Why is that the song in my heart today?".

Then I saw my reflection in the mirror. His love washed over me anew. He was singing that song over me - the Greatest Love of all is God's love, and it has been happening to me over the last few years in a mighty way. He wants me to see myself through His eyes, live my life in His will and receive His forgiveness with a heart full of joy for the Salvation that I have been afforded..
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That day as Pastor Robert taught that message on mourning resulting is us being happy, he concluded the message with this Question: "What if we really mourned over our sin as if someone had died?".

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BECAUSE SOMEBODY DID..

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2 Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. .
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3 Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds. .
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4 You have not yet struggled and fought agonizingly against sin, nor have you yet resisted and withstood to the point of pouring out your [own] blood. .

5 And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; .

6 For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. .

7 You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline? .
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9 Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we yielded [to them] and respected [them for training us]. Shall we not much more cheerfully submit to the Father of spirits and so [truly] live? .

10 For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness.

Hebrews 12:2-7, 9-10 (AMP)
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OH I DO LOVE HIM SO!


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If you would like to share your insights about today's quote, please link up to your own post here using Mr. Linky and then leave me a comment. Thank you so much for stopping by today! I'm so blessed to have been able to share this quote with you.













For more information about Tuesday's In Other Words, please visit Loni at Writing Canvas and check it out!


8 comments:

Esthermay said...

I read your post twice. . .
Thank you for sharing your testimony. It is beautiful and written with a broken – yet rejoicing – heart. I smile.
Your experience watching the video was genuine! No doubt. The sarcasm is me wants to compare your “conversion” with the “conversions” that “Christian” young people experience in mass at Christian Rock-band concerts and I ask (rhetorically) “Which is REAL?”
But I won’t do that. (Ooopps. I just did.) sorry….
The proof of the sincerity and real’ness of our commitment is in the post-game.
Look at your life today.
Are you bearing fruit?
I only know you in blog world, but your blog is nothing but Truth from God’s Word applied to your life! Amen!
Do you know the difference between surrender and commitment?
Again, I only know you in blog-world (and Facebook…), but. . .
You are dependent on HIM – your Christian walk is dependent on HIS Work, not your own.
. . . You have MOURNED the depravity in humankind and specifically and prayerfully, your OWN depravity before a merciful God and he has offered genuine SALVATION. This is what the Gospel is all about!

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the worst. . .”
~ I Timothy 1:15

Your sister in Jesus,
~esthermay

writingcanvas said...

Thank you so much for hosting today - but even more so for sharing your heart so openly. What a testimony you have to share of God's grace and His new mercies.

It may appear different on different computers, but your widget for Amazon with the scrolling books goes across part of it, so there was a paragraph or two I could not read. :(

I hope to join later today. I've got a Bible study tomorrow morning to go to, and have to finish up studying. Thank you for your time in sharing today.

Loni

Michelle Bentham said...

Thanks for the heads up Loni... I'll just move the widget.

I didn't realize it was problem (:o])

Blessings.

MiPa said...

Michelle, bless you for sharing your heart. This is a powerful, amazing post.

Laurie Ann said...

I am moved and praising the Lord for you here! What a power-packed post, so full of inspiration and most of all, the grace and mercy of God. Blessings & Hugs, Laurie Ann

micey said...

Hi Michelle,
Your post says beautifully everything I tried to say in mine. I know just what you mean and I know just that amount of pain that comes from hanging onto a past that can never be changed, only confessed and let go. Thank you so much! May God bless you richly with His mercy and unfailing love!

Denise said...

Such an inspiring post, bless you.

david santos said...

Thanks fot your posting! Brilliant inspiration!
GO BLESS