Deck the Soul with Boughs of Forgiveness

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

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Matters of the Heart is a weekly blog that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart, the issues we all face but sometimes don’t want to talk about. The heart is the programming center of our lives. What is programmed into our heart will affect every area of our lives. Learn how to discover what is in your heart and how to program your heart for success.

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NOTE: This blog post first appeared on my blog on December 21, 2015. Because of the positive feedback from readers, I am posting it again this year. May it especially bless those of you who struggle with difficult emotions during the Christmas season.

CHRISTMAS! The word evokes many feelings, depending on our experiences. For some, Christmas is a happy time, filled with beautiful memories and joyful expectations. For others, Christmas is a depressing time, a season one wants “to get over with” as quickly as possible because of bad memories associated with this time of year.

Having ministered to people for many years, I have come to the conclusion that depressing memories at Christmas time are most often related to problems of unforgiveness. Hurts from the past become more pronounced during the Christmas season, but the reason those hurts still affect us is that we have not let go of the bitterness associated with them. In short, we have not forgiven the people who have hurt us.

Stressed woman looking unhappy.Why do most people have such a difficult time forgiving? I believe the main reason is that they do not understand what forgiveness really means. If you are one of those people, what follows may help you:

LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT:

• Forgiveness is NOT letting someone off the hook.

• Forgiveness is NOT condoning evil.

• Forgiven is NOT being a doormat.

• Forgiveness is NOT having to trust again the person who hurt you.

• Forgiveness is NOT a feeling.

• Forgiveness is NOT an option.

NOW LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS:

• Forgiveness IS taking the person who hurt you off of your hook and placing him on God’s hook, then praying that God will have mercy on him.

• Forgiveness IS acknowledging that evil was done but choosing to bear the consequences of that evil without retaliation.

• Forgiveness IS taking charge of your emotions.

• Forgiveness IS setting boundaries with the person who hurt you, even refusing temporary or permanent interaction with that person, if necessary. An example would be a wife who is being beaten by her husband.

• Forgiveness IS a decision.

• Forgiveness IS obedience to God’s commandment to forgive.

No matter how badly you have been hurt, choose to forgive. It’s the best thing you can do for your own well-being. Unforgiveness chains you emotionally to the person who hurt you. Forgiveness breaks that chain and sets you free.

What better time is there than the Christmas season to forgive those who have hurt us? The very essence of Christmas is the truth that God forgave humanity through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Who are we not to forgive when God has forgiven us?

So this Christmas, forgive! But don’t just forgive. Ask to be forgiven. As the Word of God tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All of us need not only to forgive but also to be forgiven. And as long as we are on this earth, it is never too late to forgive or to be forgiven.

Now, it’s YOUR turn: What emotions does Christmas trigger in you? How do you handle the negative ones? Please leave a comment in the box below.

TWEETABLE: “Deck the Soul with Boughs of Forgiveness” by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio (CLICK TO TWEET)

a-christmas-homecomingFor a heartwarming, compelling story on the power of forgiveness, you may wish to read my novella titled A Christmas Homecoming. It is available in electronic format for your Kindle, Nook, or iPad. 

To view the beautiful book trailer of A Christmas Homecoming, click here.

To purchase a copy of A Christmas Homecoming, click here.

Last, but not least, may you forge happy memories this Christmas season as the power of forgiveness sets you free!

Copyright 2012-2016 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com.

 

If you found this post helpful, please forward it to a friend. Thank you! You may also be interested in reading the following recent posts:

Why Getting Offended Is Dangerous

Don’t Let Satan Play Your Pipes!

How to Think Like a Winner

Older, but very popular posts, include:

Sex and Soul Ties

How to Recognize a Contolling Spirit

Seven Keys to Successful Parenting

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Five Ingredients of Great Relationships

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

WINNING WITH THE WORD

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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Like all things that pertain to health, relationships require care.  Here are five tips for keeping your relationships strong:

Business people joining hands
Fotolia File: #66780827 | Author: vadymvdrobo

 1–LOVE. This means treating the other person in the relationship with respect, dignity, and encouragement. Love is the foundation of all good relationships.

2–COMMUNICATION. We communicate to understand. Understanding paves the way for trust. 

3–TRUST. Trust is the glue that keeps a relationship strong. Trust must be earned. 

4–FORGIVENESS. We all mess up. Forgiveness sets the stage for rebuilding a relationship.

5–TIME. Growth takes time. For a relationship to grow, you must invest time in it.


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Copyright 2015-2020 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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Their Blood Cries Out!

My Thoughts on Dr. Nucatola and the Planned Parenthood Clip

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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After watching the horrific video clip with Dr. Nucatola of Planned Parenthood, I could not sleep. I lay in bed, pondering the depths of depravity to which our country has fallen. Over the last sixty-five years that I can remember (and I’m almost seventy years old), our country has been sliding on the slippery slope to utter corruption.

lightstock_62571_medium_maryann_Photo Source: Lightstock Photo ID: 62571

A country that kills its own babies is a sick, sin-ridden country! It doesn’t get any worse than that, folks.

Grief overwhelmed me as our Lord began to show me in my spirit the unspeakably horrific nature of our national sin. What I saw sickened me. I could only imagine how it sickens the heart of the Father. My daughter Lia has rightly said that “We are no different from those who, in ancient times, sacrificed their children on the altar of Moloch.”

“A country that kills its own babies is a sick, sin-ridden country!”

I began to repent for America, the land that was once the land of the brave and the home of the free but now seems to have become the land of the spineless and the home of the licentious.

As I lay in bed thinking about the 55 million babies we have brutally slaughtered, I asked myself several questions. I invite you to ask yourself these same questions and to think about their implications:

How many future babies were in the sperm and eggs of those 55 million babies? And in their future babies? And in their future babies? And on and on? How many billions, if not trillions, of people have we actually lost?

• How many future spouses did those 55 million babies represent? Spouses whom God intended to be lifelong companions to others of their generation who were not subjected to the abortion knife?

• How many of those 55 million aborted babies will never experience the joy of parenting their own children nor the joy of seeing their own grandchildren? For these generations have also been viciously cut off.

• How many parents who aborted their babies will never have the caring help they need in old age, the caring help that children usually provide?

How much outstanding talent did America lose in those 55 million babies? How many leaders, inventors, scientists, teachers, authors, artists, composers, farmers, doctors, engineers, computer experts, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc., were in those 55 million murdered babies?

How much economic contribution to our society died with those innocent babies?

When I thought I could not bear it any longer, Holy Spirit spoke this heart-breaking question to me:

Of how many immortal souls has America robbed God the Father? Children meant to be a part of His family? Souls that would have been the offspring of those 55 million murdered babies and of their countless progeny? Souls that would have been a part of God’s eternal family in Heaven?

At Holy Spirit’s words, my heart broke.

Then Holy Spirit spoke to me again. “But just as the depth of your nation’s sin is great, so is My mercy far greater!”

America, it is time to fall on our faces and repent! To throw ourselves on God’s mercy. The blood of these slaughtered children cries out to the Father, and their voices will not be silenced until justice is done in the land.

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In my newest work of fiction, SURRENDER TO LOVE, young widow and life coach, Dr. Teresa LopezPicMonkeyFINAL061815416pm Gonzalez, discovers that only by losing her life will she truly find it.

Available in Kindle and print versions.

You may leave a comment by clicking here. To receive these blog posts in your emailbox, please click here.

If you found this post helpful, please pass it on to someone who can benefit from reading it. Thank you!

If you have any questions, you may contact me as follows:

Email: drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com
Snail Mail: PO Box 1185, Merchantville, NJ 08109
Tel. 856-488-3580
________________________________
Copyright 2015 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com  or via one of her social media venues below:

Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers?

Three Reasons for Unanswered Prayer

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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If you’re like me, you’ve been through periods of your life when it seemed as though God were deaf. Of course, He is not deaf, so the reason we sometimes don’t hear from Him must be something else.

illustration of a man praying under the cross

Photo Source: Fotolia.com File: #61687178 | Author: sognolucido

Please allow me to offer you three reasons that I have discovered for unanswered prayer. As I addressed each of these reasons, I discovered that my prayer life made a turn around and I began to see results.

I am a results-oriented person.  I want what I do to bear fruit.  I don’t like spinning my wheels.

And my guess is that you don’t either. 🙂

So, here are the three reasons I’ve discovered for unanswered prayer:

1) Praying for something that is not specifically promised to us by God in His word.  God has given us thousands of promises in His Word.  Each of these promises represents what God wants for us and what Jesus died to give us. When we pray based on these promises, we can rest assured that God hears our prayer. Why? Because He cannot contradict Himself nor what He has promised.

For example, if I pray for healing, I can pray with confidence that God hears me because He says in Psalm 103:3 that He heals all my diseases.  Not some, but ALL.  So when I pray based on that promise, I can rest assured that God hears my prayer.

The opposite is also true. If I pray for something that God specifically forbids in His Word, He will not hear my prayer. Years ago, a woman began praying to marry a prominent evangelist. The only problem was, he was already married. So she prayed that his wife would die. There was no way God was going to hear this woman’s prayer because it contradicted His Word about marriage and about having murderous thoughts toward others. 

So, when you pray, be sure that what you are asking for is something God has promised you. The only way to know this is to study His Word. If what you are praying for–like whether or not to move to Atlanta–is not specifically stated in His Word, then stand on His promise in Psalm 32:8 that “He will instruct you and teach you the way to go.”

Many of God’s promises cover general situations, so use those promises as your foundation for praying when there is no specific promise for your situation.

2) Praying based on grace alone, and not faith.  This kind of prayer leans on God’s grace alone in that the person praying sits back and waits for God to act.  An example would be a person who needs a job and asks God for one but does not pound the pavements looking for a job. Instead, he expects God to drop a job in his lap. This won’t happen. God expects us to cooperate with Him by trusting in His grace and then by taking some action to prove our trust in His grace.

3) Praying based on faith alone, and not grace.  This kind of prayer leans on my personal efforts alone in that, once I pray, I think it’s entirely up to me to get that prayer answered.  This is a legalistic, “works” mentality prayer, and it won’t go anywhere. It will not get a hearing from God.

For example, I may need healing, so I ask God to heal me but then I keep thinking that my healing will take place some time in the future. I also make sure that I’m doing everything right—eating right, exercising right, acting right, praying enough, reading my Bible enough, fasting enough–and on, and on, and on.  If I don’t see the answer to my prayer, I start feeling condemned and wondering where I’ve missed it.

Yes, I’ve been there. Done that.  This process is all wrong.  It’s backwards and won’t get an answer to prayer.

Why not? Because both God’s grace and my faith are required to receive answers to my prayers.

So, let’s get practical.  How do I get my prayers answered?

The process is really very simple.  So simple, in fact, that we can easily miss it.

 1) Believe that God wants you to have what He has promised you. He paid a big enough price to give it to you by sending His Son Jesus to die for you so that you could experience the fulfillment of those promises in your life.

2) Realize that whatever God has promised you in His Word is already yours. If you don’t see it present in your life, the reason is that you have not reached out into the spirit realm with your faith to bring it from the spirit realm into your physical realm.  God is not holding back on you. You are holding back on yourself.

3) Realize that your faith does not move God to act.  God acted 2000 years ago on Calvary.  Your faith simply reaches out to grab hold of what God did on that old rugged Cross.  As Jesus hung dying on that Cross, He said, “It is finished.”  He meant that what He came to do was done.  There’s nothing more for Him to do, but there still is something for us to do.  Our part is to reach out and take what Jesus gave us on Calvary.

Just as we received the new birth by reaching out to Jesus and accepting His gift of forgiveness and eternal life, so do we receive everything else God has promised us.  In the same exact way–by reaching out and accepting His gift of every promise He died to give us.

It’s as simple as that!

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In my newest work of fiction, SURRENDER TO LOVE, young widow and life coach, Dr. Teresa LopezPicMonkeyFINAL061815416pmGonzalez, struggles to reach out to take what God has given her. Will she come to understand that what God has promised her, He will fulfill if she only surrenders to Him?

Available in Kindle and print versions.

You may leave a comment by clicking here. To receive these blog posts in your emailbox, please click here.

If you found this post helpful, please pass it on to someone who can benefit from reading it. Thank you!

If you have any questions, you may contact me as follows:

Email: drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com
Snail Mail: PO Box 1185, Merchantville, NJ 08109
Tel. 856-488-3580
________________________________
Copyright 2015 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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Amazon.com Required Disclosure:  MaryAnn Diorio is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com  or via one of her social media venues below:

Has Someone Done You Wrong?

 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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No, this isn’t the title of a country song, although it might make a good one. This is a question to which every one of us can probably give an affirmative answer.

All of us, at some point in our lives, have been wronged. Perhaps, as a child, you were abused either physically or mentally by the very person who should have protected you and taken care of you. Perhaps you were wronged by an unfaithful spouse, a broken promise, or a lie someone told about you.

Whatever the situation, do you now feel bitter about it? Have you vowed never to forgive the person who hurt you? If so, God wants to speak to your heart today. So listen carefully to what He wants to say to you because it is literally a matter of life or death.

What you experienced through being wronged is called an offense. According to Webster’s Dictionary, an offense is “something that outrages the moral or physical senses; the state of being insulted….” When you are offended, you are outraged or insulted by what someone has said or done to you. Your natural response is to want to retaliate, to get back at the person who offended you. But doing so is not the right way to handle the situation. Retaliation only compounds the problem.

Now, I am not saying that there are not certain instances where confrontation is necessary. But the motive of the confrontation must always be love, not vengeance.

None of us will go through life without being offended. In fact, Jesus Himself said in Luke 17:1, “It is impossible that no offenses should come.” So, while we cannot avoid offenses, we can learn how to respond to them in such a way that they will not affect our hearts adversely.

To learn how to handle offense, we must look to Jesus Christ as our perfect example. In I Peter 2:21-23, we read this information about Jesus: “…when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him Who judges righteously.”

Notice that when Jesus was offended, He did not attempt to get even with those who wronged Him. He did not threaten them in any way. What did He do instead? The above verse says that He “committed Himself to Him Who judges righteously.”

Who is He Who judges righteously? It is God the Father. In other words, Jesus did not try to handle the problem Himself. Instead, He put the problem into His Father’s hands and trusted God His Father to handle it for Him.

Why did Jesus refuse to take matters into His own hands? We find the answer in Hebrews 10:30. There God the Father says, “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay.” This means that only God reserves the right to punish those who have offended us. Unless our offenders repent, they will not be able to escape God’s punishment.

Because God alone reserves the right to punish those who offend us, we do not have that right. To take matters into our own hands is a very dangerous thing. It means that we are allowing bitterness and unforgiveness to take root in our lives, and bitterness and unforgiveness, if not repented of, will eventually lead to spiritual, mental, and physical death.

The right way to deal with offense is to obey God’s command to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). This means to love and forgive the person who has wronged you, to pray that he will repent, and to put the matter into God’s hands and leave it there. When you do, you will be amazed at how God will work things out for your good.

Questions: 1) Has someone done you wrong? 2) Did you handle the situation according to God’s Word? 3) Do you need to repent and give the situation over to Jesus?

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Copyright 2015 by Dr. Mary Ann Diorio.  Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com  or via one of her social media venues below:

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