PAIN ON PURPOSE

Published on 11 May 2011 by in Encouragement

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PAIN ON PURPOSE

He [the LORD] called for a famine on the land of Canaan, cutting off its food supply. Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. There in prison, they bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfil his dreams, the LORD tested Josephs character” (Psalm 105:16-19, NLT).

Do you think betrayed, bruised, and bound Joseph dreamed, or even imagined a way out of his painful experiences? Do you think he expected them to ultimately test him, shape him, refine him, lead him, and directionally influence others as a result?

What framework guided Jo’s thinking to see him through every day of unfair captivity, while gingerly trying to sooth his bruised and restrained feet; or, to daily manage an unyielding burden of heavy metal restriction around his neck?

What about you? What dream has been shattered? What unexpected twists and turns have you bound like a prisoner? What extreme limitations squeeze the essence of your character out? Do you daily manage the choke hold or does it manage you?

“Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the kings household; he became ruler over all the kings household; he became ruler over all the kings possessions. He could instruct the kings aides as he pleased and teach the kings advisors” (Psalm 105:20-22, NLT).

Joseph daily choices where based on a knowledge of God and a developing relationship of trust. Remember God had given him dreams. I’m sure there were many tough conversations exchanged during those difficult days that grew into years. However, the daily dependence served to cultivate and refine the character we see in Joseph.

CHARACTER inspired the trust of a king; gave way to freedom; and opened the door to oversee and even instruct others. I wouldn’t be surprised if Joseph eventually taught a class for advisors called – Belief 101, which included a section on Hard Knocks from Another Perspective.

Your pain has purpose!

Has God given you a dream? What is your framework of belief when direction shifts to the unexpected? How is it managed daily? Do you engage in conversation with God about the details? Do you trust Him? Would you need to confess and repent of any lie you’ve embraced during the days of disillusionment – about God, yourself, others or your dream and replace with truth? As you focus on God’s trustworthiness – he will build and refine your character according to His dream for you. You never know whose freedom he may be sending you ahead for.

We declare you LORD to be the One true God, infinitely perfect in all your ways as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your sovereign plans and purposes are high and mighty and truly above our understanding. You are worthy and deserving of our trust. Wherever you place us, whatever the circumstances, may our belief in you reflect as character to those around us! Thank you that you hear and answer prayer!

Jesus told them, This is what God wants you to do: Believe in the one He has sent’” (John 6:29, NLT).

I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me” (John 6:57, NLT).

©2011 Dr Karen Braun

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I DON’T KNOW THIS!

Published on 04 May 2011 by in Encouragement

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I DON’T KNOW THIS!

“Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Prov 9:9-10, NIV).

Have you heard it or even said it yourself – I don’t know this!?

I recall my son at age four being unfamiliar with a task. Uncertain, he adequately captured this innocent helplessness with these words, Mommy, I dont know this!” I was delighted to show him how.

I heard it again last week, “I don’t know this,” but this time from a grown woman all alone who was forced due to a fire, to evacuate her apartment building and find some place new to live. I was thankful I could serve her in some small measure to lighten her load.

Yesterday I said it, when faced with responding to a situation that was totally foreign to my knowledge. I was grateful God provided someone else to instruct me, and another to remind me that peace can rule in times of uncertainty. Both helped!

We are not meant to do life alone. We need God and we need each other. Whatever your age or situation, is it your instinct to expect and ask for help?

Prayer is that healthy dependence and way of making our need known.

Do you experience the certainty of the LORD who draws near, hears and answers your sincere prayer? Do you know Him as the One who is all knowing, longing to surprise you with peace. It’s okay to not know everything, and even better to admit it. He delights in helping.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me (Ps 18:16-19, NIV).

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Ps 32:8, NIV).

Thank you loving heavenly Father, for giving your Word, your Spirit and one another to help us do life. Forgive our prideful independence that robs of joy and peace. Please enable us to live childlike in our faith, to be okay with not having all the answers; and, to actually appreciate the journey of revealed knowledge. Thank you for the ongoing discovery we can share together.

© 2011 Dr Karen Braun

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Like A Shot Of Morphine

Published on 27 April 2011 by in Encouragement

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Like A Shot Of Morphine

“At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Gen 4:26, NIV).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7, NIV).

2 ml of morphine brought the 150-beat-per-minute heart rate down to 50–70 within five minutes. “This will protect your heart from damage and decrease the pain,” the nurse told my mother-in-law, who was taken by ambulance Easter Sunday to the hospital. It was an atrial fibrillation and we all thought it was a heart attack.

Our hearts were beating faster as we called on others to pray, especially during the initial traumatizing moments. Prayers were ignited and united, precious people came by our sides, and quickly a peace was injected and released that literally calmed and protected hearts and nerves, easing the pain of uncertainty!

I couldn’t help but compare how prayer in this circumstance was like that shot of morphine. Yea God! There was no damage to Mom’s heart, and peace took over.

A desperate cry is a prayer that God hears and will answer. A prayer united in agreement is a powerful dosage. So what has your heart beating faster? Who do you call on to pray in your crisis and need? Have you considered how your prayers inject God’s peace for others? Who or what needs a shot?

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how, or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good (Rom 8:26-28, The Message).

You LORD, are PEACE! You are gloriously strong, holy in splendor and our Great God and King. You not only see our state of mind and heart, but you teach us how to cry out to you. You respond by making your presence known and work all things together for good as we trust you – no matter the circumstance.

Remind us how prayer is good for the heart and forgive us for our prayerlessness. In Jesus name we ask, Amen.

©2011 Dr Karen Braun

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Language With Meaning

Published on 19 April 2011 by in Encouragement

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Language With Meaning

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds” (Deut 11:18, NIV).

Do you understand and know how to respond to these words: піднімається, المسيح قام, Χριστός Ανέστη, המשיח קם לתחייה, मसीह बढ़ी है, キリストが復活さ,그리스도 께서 부활 ‘?

I fondly recall hearing my Dad Easter Sunday mornings joyfully greet us in his mother tongue with these cherished words – “Hristos a înviat!” We always replied with – Într-adevăr El este înviat!” Meaning…

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

I find joy understanding the meaning and sharing that unique exchange.  However, I did have to be reminded each year, how to say the words because it was the only time I spoke Romanian. I regret not learning the language.

Do you hear your heavenly Father joyfully greet you every morning? How do you listen and respond? Is it only at Easter? Are your conversations with Him frequent enough to recognize the meaning of His words everyday, and do you welcome reminders?

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

 “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright; he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones” (Prov 2:1-8, NIV).

To repeat and pray God’s Word is a practical way to become familiar with God’s “mother tongue.” Soon you can be speaking His language with meaning and never regret it! Life depends upon knowing, believing and declaring His Word – JESUS!

“For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt 12:37, NIV).

How can we adequately say thank you Jesus, the WORD, for your willingness to die in our place! You have brought us life! Help us teach and repeat your words to others so they too can know the meaning living language of love.

©2011 Dr Karen Braun

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Listen Long, Listen Deep – Part 2

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt 4:4 NIV).

How are you growing in your awareness; becoming more familiar with God’s communication style with you?

To listen long and deep is to feed on and digest the written Word of God. The more familiar with His spoken and recorded Word the more we learn to discern His Spirit’s whisper and gentle leadings. Yes, especially into our loud-mouthed circumstances.

The Lord said, Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah’ (1 Kings 19:11-13, NIV)?

In life’s chaos, how well do you hear His voice?! Are you honest about why you seek Him?

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12-13, NIV).

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it, he will be blessed in what he does (James 1:25, NIV).

“God will be heard by those who genuinely seek Him, producing freedom.

Jesus says, My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me’” (John 10:27, NKJ)

Then He said, Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand’” (Mark 4:9, NLT).

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts” (Psalm 119:45, NIV).

Now that’s a communication style that can be recognized and is worth pursuit!

Heavenly Father, we choose to be still and wait to hear you speak to us. We are in awe that you love to communicate with such style! Forgive us for boxing you or limiting how and what you may want to say and do in our lives. How grateful we are to receive your perfect Word. May your style become ours – long and deep.

©2011 Dr. Karen Braun

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Listen Deep, Listen Long – Part 1

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).

Clear instructions! BE STILL – move past the clutter and distractions of life and take the time to KNOW that He is God – the results are seriously far-reaching! Is that your experience? Is there evidence?

The deeper and longer we listen to Him, the more we are changed from the inside-out, by His presence. The life-giving and life-sustaining words that dwell in us set a course to reveal the same!

THE INVITATION – (or is it a command?) to be still.

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place  (Psalm 51:6, NIV).

The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being (Proverbs 20:27, NIV).

THE CHALLENGE – Satan and our own thoughts wrestle against our ability to hear God’s voice.

Some people are like seed along the path, where the Word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the Word that was sown in them” (Mark 4:15, NIV).

Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew 16:23, NIV).

THE CHOICE – Our natural thoughts must be transformed by choosing to be still long enough to hear and obey God’s voice.

Dont copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know Gods will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2, NIV).

What measures will you take to be still longer?

Thank you passionate Father in heaven, that it is your desire to make yourself known to us. We confess our tendency to resist and stubbornly cling to foolish thoughts and habits that prevent us from being still. In so doing we permit Satan to interfere. Forgive us LORD, both the knowing and unknowing ways we have hindered you from making your words,  your voice,  known to us. Transform us we cry. Word of God speak – long and deep!

©2011 Dr. Karen Braun

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Value!!!

Published on 30 March 2011 by in Encouragement

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Value!!!

“I will call nobodies and make them somebodies; I will call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, ‘Youre nobody! they are calling you God’s living children” (Romans 9:25-26, MSG).

Have you ever written anyone off? Or been disregarded  yourself? What assessment was the measure? Was it generous or scanty, warranted or unjustified?

Nobody values feeling like a zero. It’s crushing!

What makes one loved???

Hearing seems important and so does belonging. Colliding with the knowledge and receiving the experience of copious extravagant love is a transforming, life-changing solution, especially after knowing hollow irrelevance. The ongoing encounter with Father-love has multiple repercussions.

“Long before he laid down earths foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son” (Ephesians 1:3-6, NLT).

Do we hear our value enough? Do we believe it all the time? Let’s pray for a movement that embraces this kind of relational love at home, work, and play.

Precious Father in heaven, you are love! We humbly ask that you would remove any and every obstacle that prevents us from hearing and believing the value you declare in us. Enable us to receive and then give away this kind of pleasant embrace to all! Thank you for your profuse fondness!

©2011 Dr. Karen Braun

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An Extracted Response

Published on 23 March 2011 by in Encouragement

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An Extracted Response

“Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk?’ I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins. Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, ‘Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed’” (Luke 5:22-26, NLT)!

Jesus knows how to respond to every thought of an accuser, the recipient, and the observer. To encounter Jesus is to extract a response. What is His? What is yours? Others?

“And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped to his feet, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe. And they praised God, saying over and over again, ‘We have seen amazing things today’” Luke 5:25, NLT).

“What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all. What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What festivities await us inside your holy Temple. You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth” (Psalm 65:1-5, NLT).

Thank you Jesus for giving us what we don’t deserve and not giving us what we do deserve. Help us in our response to others to reflect your kind of response. We choose to humbly follow you Lord Jesus. You alone are power and strength!

©2011 Dr. Karen Braun

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Rescue Efforts

Published on 16 March 2011 by in Encouragement

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Rescue Efforts

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God  (Romans 8:18-21, NIV).

Have you any prejudice against limitations and suffering? Do you fear the unknown? Have you faced off with depravity? Victories are not victories unless you have battled. Agony and ecstasy are the journey of liberty.

Dialogue with God is the necessary intervention. Approaching Him adds value to the diversity of experience. Being open to His perspective is part of that equation – which does require vulnerability and total honesty. Whatever is disclosed God is able to amend (alter, adjust, modify, revise; make changes, improvements, corrections) as we trust and obey. This truly is not about worsening but improving. It is about love being seen for what it is.

Love is enough and it is powerful for every limitation, every disaster – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social, relational, intellectual, and any other “al” you can think of.

I sense the Lord would remind us: ‘I am able to make all grace abound to you. I am able to fill you and meet your every requirement, every tragedy, shortcoming, imbalance, lack, heartache, hindrance, delay, and every sorrow you have known from all time. You will so love it when you are complete; in the meantime, you have everything you need for life and godliness. So for your life, today and for these moments remember I am your powerful provision.’

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, 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 8:34-39, NIV).

Most High and Almighty God we acknowledge that even in view of the tragedies witnessed in our world, like tsunamis , deception and wars, we declare our great need of YOUR powerful unfailing love. You alone are strength and a place of safety. We ask for your rescue efforts and protection against what seeks to destroy. Rise up and help we cry. We will sing about your power, your refuge and unfailing love, even in the day of distress!

©2011 Dr. Karen Braun

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Belief’s Benefit, Unbelief’s Detriment

God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if there is even one with real understanding, one who seeks for God  (Psalm 53:2 NLT).

What do you believe about God today? What are you asking, and for who?

Have you ever considered the sobering truth that to NOT believe God, reject Him, or treat Him with contempt is EQUAL to being disowned and destroyed by Him? There are serious consequences to unbelief! Fears are fulfilled, just read Numbers 14-15.

How long will these people reject me? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague (Numbers 14:11,12, NIV).

BELIEF, however, can MOVE the plans of God, always in keeping with His character!

Enter Moses, to PLEAD on their behalf. What will the Egyptians think when they hear about it? They know If you slaughter all these people, the nations that have heard of your fame will say, ‘The Lord was not able to bring them into the land he swore to give them, so he killed them in the wilderness.’ PLEASE, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed it to be; the LORD is slow to anger and rich in unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. PLEASE pardon the sins of the people because of your magnificent, unfailing love, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt  (14:13-19, NIV).

The Lord ANSWERS. I will pardon them AS YOU have requested (14:20, NIV).

God will always honor belief and always dishonor unbelief.

But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the LORD’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they tested me by refusing to listen. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will enter it. BUT MY SERVANT CALEB IS DIFFERENT” (14:21-24).

BELIEF is the difference!!!

“Riches wont help on the Day of Judgment, but right living is a safeguard against death (Proverbs 11:4, NLT).

Heavenly Father, because of your mercy and grace PLEASE forgive our unbelief and help us believe by listening and obeying you. We stand on behalf of __________ asking you to save them because of your unfailing love and because you forgive EVERY KIND of sin. You are worthy of all our trust, our adoration and our praise.

©2011 Dr. Karen Braun

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