Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Break (02/06/06)
TITLE: The Voice of Hope
By Joyce Sykes
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These were the first words spoken by the guest speaker at our church one morning early in the month of January. Even as he began speaking, my spirit seemed to just seem to reach out and grab every word coming from this stranger. The next few minutes would change my life. It seemed as if the Lord had sent a message just for me. This was to be a fresh beginning at the start of a new year. As the message continued, I rapidly jotted down notes and the various Scriptures used in the sermon text. There was no question this powerful sermon would affect me for all eternity.
I had known the Lord for years, but I always felt a cloud of darkness hanging over me. There was an invisible barrier that I just could not overcome. It was not depression but something else, something elusive. It seemed as if I could take two steps forward and then bam! I would sink backwards for five steps. But, I knew in my heart the words of this message would help break this endless repeating cycle.
He spoke of guilt and shame being strongholds that hinder a closer relationship with the Lord. It seemed as if he had looked into my life and knew all there was to know about me. Yet, that was impossible, we were total strangers. Listening closely to all he said, I felt like I was hanging onto every word. It had been a long time since a message had stirred me like this one. Much of what he shared I had heard previously, but this time it was different, like a puzzle of connecting the dots. Finally the dots were coming together to form a picture I had never seen quite clearly. Hope was rising in my heart.
He shared that our past was just that, our past. If we had prayed and sought forgiveness then we had been washed in the blood of Jesus. Okay, I knew this. But he connected more of the dots with the remainder of his message. The Lord had chosen us, and He desired His people to be free. It was in that freedom that we would be able to touch other souls and help them break free from their past. The Lord had broken down every wall and barrier that separated us from Him. He had already paid the price through His precious blood. I had known all the bits and pieces, but I had never seen the total picture as clear as that Sunday.
My past failures and secrets no longer mattered. The control it had over me began falling away. My mistakes of earlier years were still there, but I no longer heard the taunts and jeers of an invisible enemy telling me, I was worthless, and no good. I began shaking off the heckling voice that no one would ever want me. The earlier years of emotional abuse and name calling no longer held sway over my life. The shackles of my past were breaking off.
In the days and weeks to come I began looking at myself through the eyes of the Lord. His Word became my source of security. I was God’s child, chosen from the foundation of the world. He had called me by name and I was His. Jesus willing gave His life for me. I knew in the natural I was never expected or wanted, but that no longer had power over my outlook on life, because I was now secure in the knowledge that I was not an accident according to Scriptures. This Almighty Father loved, cherished and willingly adopted me. I was His daughter. Indeed, I was free, free to be who the Lord had called me to be.
It’s been three years since I listened to that life-changing message. But the effects it had on my life will always remain with me. I had known the Lord, asked for His forgiveness and had struggled for years to be who I thought He wanted me to be. Yet, in just a few short minutes on a cold Sunday morning, the Lord used a total stranger to impact my life and offer words of encouragement and hope. My life was again changed for all eternity. The Lord has, without a shadow of a doubt, broken the strongholds in my life.
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