|Posted on October 31, 2019 at 1:45 PM||comments (0)|
I am not afraid of the ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Psalm 3:6
Experts say on average I have about 2,000 thoughts an hour. From rise to rest I am consciously aware of my thoughts 14 hours a day so multiply that by two and I have about 28,000 fleeting thoughts. Some are productive like what I need to do, plans I need to make, others are judgement like what others are doing, how others look, still there are the hopeful thoughts when I think about the future and what I hope will happen and then there are the negative ones that creep in. I can’t give an exact number but double digits sounds about right.
The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. Genesis 6:5
I wish I could say God was wrong about me but I would be lying He who created me knows my thoughts. I believe He called them worthless in Psalm 94:11 Every single day a wicked thought enters my mind, something cruel, condemning or judgement toward people other times they are aimed at me. But like Paul said in Romans 7:24-25 Oh what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God the answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
Tonight kids will be dressed as their heroes or horrors but the truth is the enemy I face daily doesn’t knock on my door and show up in the obvious form, a red jumpsuit and pitch fork. The enemy I battle with daily is more devious, cunning. He more often than not comes dressed as a harmless thought when for a fleeting moment I imagine the worst of myself and others.
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. Romans 8:5-6
Think about things of heaven, not the things of earth. Colossian 3:2
…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8
If only I could consistently think this way but often times I think of what I am not. The enemy shoots his fiery arrows straight into my thought life how I am not wanted, less than, will never measure up, lots of never’s and not enough’s. God set the bar is too high for me to reach. I have failed miserably too many times. I will never get it right. I should just give in and stop fighting. I will always have to face this sorrow, endure this shame, I can’t run, I can’t hide but the grace of Jesus steps in and says
“Get out of here, Satan,” NLT Matthew 4:10
“Away from me Satan!” NIV
“Get the hence, Satan” KJV
“Be gone Satan!” ESV
“Go, Satan!” NASB
“Get behind me, Satan!” World English
Or my favorite “Beat it, Satan!” The Message
And the LORD said to Satan, “I, the LORD, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.” Zechariah 3:2
I say it however it needs to be said I know I don’t need to stay stuck in a negative way of thinking of myself or others I have been given the power to choose to believe the best of any and all. I can choose to focus on the log in my own eye before pointing out the splinter in my brothers’ eye. My mind is like a television without the guide. It might be channel surfing all day long and just because I come across the movie not suitable, inappropriate, or down right wrong does not mean I am forced to sit and watch the outcome. I hold the remote I can change the channel and choose to watch something else fix my mind I am told on what is good, honorable, right and pure.
Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. Galatians 1:4
And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness and devotion to God. Titus 2:12
For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 1 John 5:4
This is an evil world we live in, turn on the news channel wickedness is all around but that doesn’t mean I have to be part of the evil in it. As the saying goes no matter how long I stand in a garage it does not make me a car. Faith is a battle that takes place in my mind daily. A trial of what I will choose to believe and what I will dismiss as a lie. The enemy is called the Accuser for a reason. His job description is in his name. But so is Jesus whose name means “The LORD saves” and the first thing my Father saved me from was my wicked way of thinking. Not that these thought wouldn’t come to mind but that I had the power to defeat the lies with the truth of His word.
Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection. Proverbs 30:5
Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” Luke 11:28
Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
|Posted on October 8, 2019 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. Deuteronomy 33:26
He rides across the heavens to help me. In Genesis 1:7-8 God created a space between the waters of the earth and the waters of the “heavens” and he called that space “sky” so every time I am outside I make it a point to look up to the heavens. Every time I pray with my hands and head lifted upward toward the heavens where my Father is, as Jesus did in John 11:41; 17:1 to name a few instances. I imagine my Father traveling at the speed of light on “the wings of the wind” as Psalm 104:3 describes if just to be with me where I am when I call out Him.
In Chronicles 2:14 A king named Asa cried out to the LORD his God when faced with his enemies he said “O LORD, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in Your name that we have come against this vast horde. O LORD, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against You!” and the LORD helped them to defeat their enemies.
I may not come up against vast armies but my enemies are within me like fear, worry, anxiety and insecurity. I call out to God to help me with courage and peace, the help to remain calm considering my circumstance, to be bold and fill me with a courageous confidence I know doesn’t come from this world I put my confidence in His faithfulness to me.
In all those times past He has helped me. When He helped me to conquer my fears and doubts. When His marvelous help was the only way that I could overcome the pounding in my chest or the trembling of my hands. He breathed His peace into me that I had no explanation for when He helped me to walk away from circumstances I thought I couldn’t live without. He helped me to fight battles with addiction I couldn’t win without His help. I am still addicted today but now I am addicted to seeking Him for help. I know I can’t get through a single day in this life without His help, without knowing He is right beside me. With over 300 mentions of help it is no wonder I look to Him for help.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; Your help has made me great. Listen to my prayer for mercy as I cry out to you for help, as I lift my hands toward your holy sanctuary. The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust in Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. O LORD my God, I cried out to You for help, and you restored my strength. Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me. Help me, O LORD. In panic I cried out, “I am cut off from the LORD!” But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help. We put out hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield.
The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right; His ears are open to their cries for help. The LORD hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior. Hear my prayer, O LORD! Listen to my cries for help! Don’t ignore my tears. For I am your guest- a traveler passing through, as my ancestors were before me. I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. But God is my helper. The LORD keeps me alive! For you have rescued me from my troubles and helped me to triumph over my enemies. Psalm 5:2,18:35, 28:2,7, 30:2, 10, 31:22 33:21, 34:15, 17, 38:22, 39:12, 40:1, 54:4,7
By the power of the name that saves me, in whom I find refuge. Because You helped Jesus I know you will help me it is in His name I can say AMEN!
|Posted on October 3, 2019 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
For the LORD watches over the path of the godly. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. He watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love. He watches every movement of the nations; let no rebel rise in defiance. We are the people He watches over, the flock under His care. If only we would listen to His voice today! He will not let you stumble the One who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The LORD Himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade. The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. Psalm 1:6, 11:4, 34:18, 66:7, 95:7, 121:3-5; 7-8
In Psalms alone I like to be reminded of the many times He watches over me. I remember once driving down an icy road returning home from work late one night. I was coming over a hill and in the distance my headlight allowed me to see that the bottom of the hill had turned into an ice skating rink for cars all facing different directions over a sheet of ice. I hit my brakes to avoid the pile up only to find they too had failed on the icy road. I saw myself gliding toward two cars who also lost their ability to brake. I remember closing my eyes and thinking to myself this is going to hurt and bracing myself for impact as if I was in an amusement bumper car ride. At the exact moment I should have impacted both cars slid at my approach like something pushed them each aside ever so slightly one just enough to the left and the other to the right leaving me a clear path to glide between them unharmed. A three lane road turned into four and I was able to escape the road unharmed. I do believe in a God who watches over me not just because of this time but countless others He has saved me from harm.
I have never seen the face of God but I know Him by His power and actions that He has been with me. Times when I could have gone completely wrong the sting of His staff protecting me from harm. Those days when the green light was cut shorter than usual forcing me to stop and avoid collision. Or even in life when my way was blocked with difficulties beyond my control forcing me to take another road I believe that was God guiding me along the path He wanted me to go not the path I thought was best for me. Every set back in hindsight was a set up. Every time I felt alone God opened the door for someone else to come into my life. The loss of my mother at an early age gave me many mothers over my lifetime to be raised by, to learn from, it actually did take a tribe to raise me. The bankruptcy of one job lead me to a career I would have never chosen where years later I would hire a woman who would introduce me to the father of my son. As the song goes God blessed this broken road. With all its twist and turns and unexpected detours. God made sure that I would end up exactly where I needed to be even if He had to intervene and stop me from going too far from off the path He laid for me.
The word “watch” and its various forms appears over 200 times in the NLT so even from this I know that in the beginning I was called “to tend and watch over” my life much like my Father watches over me. It’s no wonder we are made in His image, a reflection of who He is. Throughout the Word I am warned to watch out for things that may bring me harm. Called to observe not judge, be a witness to His Word not mock ignorance. My brother pleaded to watch for God, seeking not His face but His miraculous works where there is no logical explanation for why things happened as they did.
By His Word I know that since enslavement to this world began God has been watching closely. He has seen how His chosen are mistreated in a world that knows, even before we are made aware, that we do not belong to it. He has watched over our every step day by day and through each season. He surrounds and watches over us as He would guard His own eyes. Yes I would have to agree the LORD is watching over this journey of mine and because of that I able to walk in peace. Not to say that because He watches I am exempt from stumbling. I know I am dear to His heart even if I find this journey in a pit or a prison He still watches over me.
For the times I am victorious when my path is without struggle I know it is the LORD’s victory not my own. A door He opened and allowed me to walk through is not a door I pried opened by my own will and strength. Because God who watches over me will not prevent me from gaining the wisdom and knowledge I need to rebuild this Temple in the way He meant for it to be. Like my ancestors before me I may be required to hold a hammer in one hand and a weapon in the other to fend off the fiery darts of my enemies that would keep me from building. My existence on the earth means the work given to me is not done but the enemy is also patrolling the earth and watches everything that goes on in it. So I too must be on guard.
The only assurance I have in this life is that God is always watching over me. The enemy does not give life he seeks to take it like my ancestor David warned he watches for the chance to throw me to the ground like a hungry lion eager to tear me apart if I am alert and watching. Keep an eye out because God blesses people before the watching world. He promises to guide, advise, and watch over I need only listen for him daily. The One who watched while I was being formed will watch when I am finally at rest. He watches as quietly as the heat rises on a summer day or as the morning dew forms during the harvest. Just because I cannot see Him doesn’t mean He isn’t watching. As surely as a tree grows in the wilderness without the need for an automatic sprinkler system God waters and cares for it as He also does over me and He will certainly carry out every plan He has for me.
|Posted on September 13, 2019 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. Romans 10:10
I came across this Scripture a few days ago and it has stuck with me since. “Made right with God” I continually repeat. When I make a mistake, when I say the wrong thing, when I don’t do the right thing to live a life of ease I think to myself this is not who I am, Because God said He made me right, right with Him. Then I ask myself do I honestly believe that God made me right? When I look back on all the wrong I have done in my life do I define myself with what I have done or do I define myself with who I am. More importantly whose I am.
I have lied does that make me a liar? I have stolen does that mean I am thief? I have killed does that mean I am a murderer? I have worshiped things of this world and people of this world with all my heart, mind and body does that mean I am an idolater? God said in 1 Corinthians 6:11 that “I was cleansed; I was made holy; I was made right with God when I called on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of my God.” that in that exact moment of belief I was “made right.” All bets were off. The debt was paid. Amen. Amen. Amen.
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for my sin, so that I could be made right with God through Christ. Personal 2 Corinthians 5:21
The truth is God made Christ for me. For all the wrongs I would ever do in this body. He gave me an offering that would wipe me cleaner than snow whiter than wool. He made me right with Him the moment I cried out and believed that Christ did indeed pay the price for me to be in relationship with God. To talk to Him. To come near to Him. To know that I was heard. That my cries did not fall on deaf ears. That He caught and kept track of every tear. But the lie I choose to believe in for almost 40 years was I didn’t believe in His son I didn’t believe in God.
I believed I was god. My parents created me. I didn’t need a sacrifice for what I did. I simply got away with the wrong things that I did if I wasn’t caught. And when I got caught I suffered the consequence. There was no God with me His vindication didn’t come for me. It was the world that labeled my wrongs justifiable by my death. It was the world that said because you did this you don’t deserve to live and I believed that but I never did die for anything I did all ten laws I stumbled upon God never struck me down. There were times I wished I was dead. So that I wouldn’t have to live with the painful memories of this wretched life. The memories of a past I can neither undue or forget. Things at the thought of today make me sick to my stomach. I hung my head in shame and disgrace just like the world that raised me taught me to feel about the things I did made right was never a thought that came to mind.
The world identified me, labeled me by what I did not who I was so it wasn’t till I came to the Word that God told me who I was. That I was made right, from the beginning to the end of this life. Everything I had done God knew. Every place I went He was there with me. Every sin I committed was no surprise to Him. He did not intend for me to live like this but He would work it out for good, for His good purpose. I think back on the life of Paul and all his prison sentences the world labeled him a prisoner and he wore that badge proud.
Because I preach the Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the Word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. 2 Timothy 2:9
He wrote letters to the people in the city that imprisoned him. The world thought that by imprisoning Paul they could imprison the Good News that at the time was against anything anyone believed in. Chaining his body in hopes of chaining his mouth, chain down what he believed in to be truth, what he hoped for that a sinner like him could be saved, was saved by God Himself. He says he was chosen. Chosen for imprisonment? Chosen to endure? Chosen to suffer? Jesus was also imprisoned, he endured and suffered for who he believed he was. Why does this offend the world for people to hope, to believe that they are children of God, an offense punishable by death. Jesus says to Paul before the sufferings he faced in Acts 9:16 “And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Since giving my life to God I have had to suffer for being called a follower of Christ, by his name sake, a daughter of God, a sister to Christ? I watched as my worldly wealth has come and gone like waves on the shore. I have felt the sting of betrayal by Judas himself. The scales of the rose colored lenses I used to view the world through when it revolved around me have been removed from my eyes and now I walk humbly knowing that at any moment in a second in the blink of an eye I could get a call, read a text, learn the news, that everything, everything I built my life on is a lie. And this experience as painful as it has been as taught me that the only truth I know anymore is the Word of God. The only thing I put my trust in is God. I have witnessed the fall and destruction and devastation of people closet to me and watched helplessly as the enemy divided the plunder up for destruction one by one before my eyes while I wept and pleaded for answers that would satisfy.
And still here I am hanging onto this hope that God is merciful, that God saves, God revives, that God made me right. That He raises people from the dead because I saw Him do it with my own eyes. That what was once an addiction to feeding the flesh can be replaced with an addiction to doing good- a “slave to righteous living” Romans 6:19 calls it. That a sinner can be shown mercy and saved from the penalty because the price has already been paid. That the only way I could be sinless was if there was no law to break Romans 4:15. That I am to live by faith 2 Corinthians 5:7 trusting through Christ that God did what He said He would do to make me right. John 14:1 Luke 1:45
For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People who are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life for them, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3:26
There is a belief I have with my whole heart that I made right with God in spite of the sins of my past, present and future. That in this present moment He made me right because I believe in what his Son did. I do not believe that God in His sovereign wisdom makes mistakes. I don’t believe He made me by accident, just stumbled upon me. I know He made me specifically for just a time like this, He planned out each of my days including the ones that I wasn’t perfect. He made me with purpose to serve His purpose Psalm 57:2 and everything He makes is right, flaws and all. The world taught me to believe from birth that I was an unwanted mistake. That nothing good could come from me because nothing good can come from someone that this world has labeled not good and so that was what I was. But God rejected the world’s accusations of me. Zechariah 3:2
God used the wisdom of the world to disprove the worldview of me 1 Corinthians 1:19. Through His Word God spoke so clearly “You are not what you do”. A liar gave birth to a nation. A thief stole a birthright. A murderer can lead a nation. An adulterer can become king. The weak are mighty. The humble are great. A prisoner can live his life in chains and set the captives free with the words I speak through Him. All because God made them right.
He said through Jeremiah 31:36-37 “I am as likely to reject you as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” He said “I will not consider casting you away for the evil you have done.” He goes onto say through Jeremiah 33:25 that He would no more reject me than he would change the laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. He would never abandon me or change His plan for me. Instead He would restore me and have mercy on me. Things the world never once said to me. He casted out my sin each one when he said you are not a liar, you are not a thief, you are not a cheater, you are not a murderer. You are mine a child of the Most High. Isaiah 43:1 Psalm 82:6 You are my child when you are raised by Me. Proverbs 4:10
I don’t make thieves, liars, cheaters, murderers I make human beings. Who you are is not what you have done. You have done many things and I sent my son to forgive you for each one. The one you need to forgive is yourself for believing the lie that you are what you do a label the world gave you but the world did not create you, I did. My son was handed over to death in exchange for all the things you would do. I traded his life for your life because you are precious to me. You are honored and I love you. Isaiah 43:4 I did this just so that you might know the truth, that you are who I say you are and I say you are made right. You are not what this world says you are because you are not a “what” you are a who.
With a deep sigh I look over at my own son and know firsthand not everything he does is right but that doesn’t change his name, my son. That doesn’t change my unfailing unconditional love for him. I ache for him when he has to suffer the consequence of the things he does that are not right but that doesn’t mean I ever look at him and think I did not make him right. He is made right. Wonderfully, fearfully right.
So I stopped believing with all my heart in what this world taught me to believe and I started believing in who God said of me. That I am made right. That doesn’t mean that the things I do will always be right but I am being made right and being made is not the same as done, if He was done with me I certainly wouldn’t be here with you but even I know He still has some work to do and I am good with that.
|Posted on September 8, 2019 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. Psalm 116:17
Thankfulness is a sacrifice because to be honest I am more quick to think of things I lack, the things I think I need to be happy, the people I wish would change because as we know I am so perfected but a sacrifice of thanksgiving is something I have to consciously decided to do. To purposely remind myself of all the good things God has done for me. I have it written down because it doesn’t come naturally to remember these things. They get pushed in the back of my thinking so with on the spot thanksgiving my words become few.
Here today and gone tomorrow even as I sit here and type these words gratefulness for the time I have been given to share, to write, the silence, the solitude to spend with God. My mind is not somewhere else thinking about what needs to be done, how much time in the day is left to do what I need to do. At that moment the sound of my 9 and 10 year old pups breathing under the couch. Part panda part raccoon. Their presence brings me joy. Except maybe those times they snap at me when I brush them or I have to clean up after them. They know the bathroom is outside but if we leave them alone for too long they become lazy or spiteful, still trying to decide.
Gratitude was the recurring message in my devotionals today. H is working on his day off and although in the past I would be quick to complain. I use this time to write. This time to spend more time in the presence of God. Grateful I was able to watch two teachings instead of one this morning because there was nothing that needed to be done or someplace I needed to be. Grateful I woke up before my alarm and shared devotionals over coffee before he left. Sharing thoughts and hopes and dreams, gratitude for all these things.
I wonder how long I could go through this day saying thank you for everything even the things I could complain about finding a reason to be thankful for it. Like my family, thankful they are here to witness life with me. Instead of focused on all the ways they could do a better job at taking care of themselves. Grateful for the health and wholeness of our son instead of focused on his faults and every area he doesn’t take personal responsibility for his life like finishing his driving classes, completing his schoolwork, and don't get me started on his personal space. And there goes my grateful heart.
Why is gratitude so hard to hold onto? Like holding the wind. Catching it in a kite watching it soar for a minute and then nose dive. My alarm sounds it is the hour of Reuben reminding me God sees my misery. He knows I struggle to hold this thing called gratitude. I am quicker to remember the plentiful things I am not grateful for than I am to remember what it is I am grateful for.
Sacrifice is defined as an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy. Could it be that I value the freedom to complain. That grumbling is my God given right that I am not quicker to give.
My ancestors grumbled in the desert. Their spirit still lives alive and well in me. In Exodus 15:22-27 at the bitter waters of Marah. Again in the wilderness of Sin in Exodus 16 when they were hungry for meat and missing their lives of slavery. That time in Exodus 17 when they complained of thirst once more where Moses named the place Massah which means test and Meribah which means arguing where they argued with Moses and tested the LORD. In Numbers 11 they complain about their hardships craving the “good” things of Egypt the word whining enters the scene to the point that Moses begs the LORD to end his life to save him from the misery yup a nagging person can do that. And God’s sent quail for a whole month till they were sick of it. Numbers 21 when they grew impatient with the long journey once again they made the mistake of cursing the manna so God sent them snakes to take them out one by one and whoever had faith to look up at the bronze snake would be saved often taught as a foreshadow of Jesus on the cross. Just look up.
Job said in 6:5 Don’t I have the right to complain? Don’t wild donkeys bray when they find no grass, and oxen bellow when they have no food? Don’t people complain about unsalted food? Does anyone want the tasteless white of an egg?
Repeatedly he cries out 7:11 I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish. My bitter soul must complain. 10:1 I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain. But Paul reminds me in Philippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining and arguing so that no one can criticize me. Jude explains in verse 16 that people who grumble and complain are those who live only to satisfy their desires not the needs of others. So before I say another thing let gratitude be the words in my mouth not complaints.
|Posted on September 6, 2019 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness.” Luke 11:34
I once had eyes that could not see that the way I was living my life was dark indeed. I did things without a second thought as to who I was hurting even if I brought that harm upon myself it didn’t really matter to me because in the end I got what I wanted what I thought I could not live without.
My eye was bad and my body was filled with darkness just like he said it would be but interestingly not my whole body there were still some areas of light in me so I thought. I noticed the darkness in it but not all of it was bad there was a time or two the light shone but not enough times. The times I was polite held the door for the people behind me to go through.
Listened to others with the pure intent to counsel and comfort and even build some up. I found myself being kind and cordial to complete strangers so they wouldn’t see how dark I was. I said things like excuse me, please and thank you. I smiled a lot and acted as though I cared but the truth behind the mask I wore I was simply plotting my next move. Thinking of how I could use people to help me rise higher and higher. Building my relationship skills the world called it. How could this person work harder for me, how could I get more work out of this person, how can that person take me places I wanted to go, make me look good like I did it on my own. Who was willing and naive to do things for me things I could very well do on my own with hard work and perseverance but what fun is that when so many are so willing. Dark indeed were my thoughts.
And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one holding it back steps out of the way. 2 Thessalonians 2:6
A friend once described the darkness as something like Pandoras box, a chest inside my mind of the wickedness done to me, maybe something I saw on TV, heard on the news, a song I heard repeatedly on the radio, or read in an article. All the darkness in the world shoved inside this box and one day whatever was holding it back steps aside and the lock unlocks and the darkness seeps out into my thinking like a slow fog. For no reason what so ever I could be driving by a park, see people walking and the darkness finds its way into to the forefront of my mind like a movie screen. And before I know it, death is the result. Darkness attacks without warning. Everyone is slaughtered. One day here and gone without so much as a kiss goodbye.
Judgement was the first thought that came to my mind, comments like what people were doing, wearing, how much they weighed, the stero types, racial profiling, nothing was ever good, no blessings to give, no gratitude for the things I had that others were without. And I thought I was a good person, one of the good ones in this world just because I would never but that isn’t to say I hadn’t thought of it before.
Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. Luke 11:35
Darkness in disguise. I thought I was good most of the time or at least that is what I wanted people to think I was but the things I thought were not good. The things I said in private were not things I would share in public. The shameful things I did behind closed doors were not things I wanted to be seen in the light. The things I allowed my eyes to see over and over again in private that conditioned me to think a certain way believe a certain belief those were not things I wanted people to see. In the light people saw my smile, they saw I was polite and kind, they saw I was a good listener, they saw the person that wouldn’t harm a fly. But in darkness behind these blind eyes my cunning motives were revealed, in my thinking that went straight from hell itself Genesis 6:5. Till the day I fixed my eyes on things I had not seen before.
Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
Like scales that fell from my eyes the more I shut out the world and what the world would have me learn and exchanged that time to spend more time in His Word the more He made me to understand that my ways were dark, my thoughts were not of the light, my path was crooked, and the way I lived my life would only result in one successful thing and it had nothing to do with the things I was after.
As my brother explained in John 5:29 “Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgement.” For the first time I realized just because I thought I was good did not mean I had “done good” any good I did was always for an ulterior motive for my benefit, not the benefit of anyone but me. The year I gave my life to Christ I did one intentional good thing for every year of my life. I couldn’t make up for all that wasted time living in the dark but I could start by doing just one thing that would benefit someone else for the first time without seeking a reward.
If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” Luke 11:36
Instead of looking at people with judgement in my eyes I began to bless them. If my mind had the power to curse it also had the power to bless, to honor, to give praise and gratitude but it didn’t come naturally. Not like my brother who was the exact likeness of our Father. I had to be intentional about my thoughts. Pandora’s box was still open and the world filled it daily with news and media sources but for the first time I was given power to take my thoughts captive and teach them to obey Christ 2 Corinthians 10:5. The moment the sound of the movie reel fired up I changed the script. Instead of torment, disastrous plots, terrifying chain of events and shameful acts I did what my Father would do, I surrounded the helpless with an army of protection, I gave the weak strength, I lifted the heads of those weighed down by the heavy burdens this world would put on them and turned them into people who walked with their heads held high, I broke the chains that kept people prisoner to their sins and placed them on the enemy they belong to reminding Satan and all his minions that his time is up, no more would he deceive me with his lies. Revelation 20:1-2
Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead. Mark 16:14
*Footnote reads “And they excused themselves, saying, “This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not permit God’s truth and power to conquer the evil spirits. Therefore, reveal your justice now.” This is what they said to Christ. And Christ replied to them, “The period of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other dreadful things will happen soon. And I was handed over to death for those who have sinned, so that they may return to the truth and sin no more, and so they may inherit the spiritual, incorruptible, and righteous glory in heaven.”
|Posted on September 4, 2019 at 2:10 PM||comments (0)|
My hope comes from these 4 simple words repeated throughout Scripture:
What’s more I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you. Genesis 28:15
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10
They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the LORD, have spoken! Jeremiah 1:19
But now the LORD says: Be strong (it helps me to insert my own name)…Be strong… Be strong all of you still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Haggai 2:4
…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of age. Matthew 28:20
There is just something about those 4 words that help me breathe again. Assure me that all will be alright. Calm me when I am afraid. Strengthen me when I am weak.
I tried to walk this way of life on my own but that didn’t turn out so well for thirty something years. Like the closing battle in the Marvel End Game scene (Spoiler Alert) when Captain America is beaten but still manages to get up even if he has to take on the darkness alone. The enemy shows him all he is up against and still with a deep breath Captain America takes his fighting stance. Then in the background there is a light and then many lights. Reminding me of what Elisha told his servant when they were surrounded by their own enemies.
“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 2 Kings 6:16
When I am reminded that God said these 4 words, when I hear them, read them, whisper them with my own voice something inside me rises up from the dirt and I take my fighting stance in spite of what stands against me.
My brother said in John 16:33 that “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” He walked through this life not unharmed. Not without struggle. Not without knowing pain physical and emotional, mental anguish to the point of sweating drops of blood. I have never sweated drops of blood from my turmoil I have had chest pains, cramps, I vomited once but nope can’t say I ever sweated blood. He went through it all and with that he said been there done that, you got this. You can handle this. This is nothing compared to the Spirit in you.
But you belong to God my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 1 John 4:4
In Marvel End Game (Spoiler Alert) when Dr. Strange predicts that in all the scenarios he played out there was only one way we win. And even the Good News said there was only one way. “I am the way…” in John 14:6 so if I have to walk through this life with all of it’s weapons formed against me of going through trials, knowing sorrow, pain and distress that will bring me to my knees so be it, it will not keep me from finishing this race when I know that with those 4 words I am not alone. Not a single day of it so I take my fighting stance.
“Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because (of the enemy or his mighty army) for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!”… 2 Chronicles 32:7-8
By His Word, I do not fight alone for my God is always with me.
|Posted on August 24, 2019 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our Spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
If there is one thing the life of Jesus taught me it is perseverance. The Spirit that will never give up. He never gave up hoping. Never gave up believing. To quote Batman Begins “If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can’t stop you, you become something else entirely…” that is how Jesus lived and what he died for. He taught me as I pinch this flesh of mine that this skin, this meat, this bone is not all that I am. What matters most is not what is on the outside. What matters is buried deep within. This world can and will try to kill, steal and destroy this flesh as it did him. Heck at times I myself might even be the one that deliberately puts this flesh in harm’s way if I am not careful. But this heart comes from Him and I am not talking about the beating one I am talking about the Spirit that is in the driver’s seat of this meat puppet.
Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
Every day that passes this vessel is getting older. This vessel is getting weaker. Like mileage on a car. My knees hurt going up the stairs, I gotta give myself a motivational speech every time I start at the bottom and look up, they never use to hurt before. My thumb joints hurt sending too many text, a problem my parents never had I am sure. My eyesight isn’t as clear as it used to be I have to move the book a little further away each year. But my Spirit this verse tells me is being renewed each day by His Word. The Spirit in me is a like a kid with a red cape running, leaping it thinks it can do anything while I stand on the sidelines, hands on my hips trying to catch my breath motioning with my hand go ahead, save yourself, I’ll catch up.
Jesus taught me that there is no shame in the pain of life, the ridicule, the insults, the failures they are all a part of it. He endured as much just to show me that they can beat, whip, expose this bone but the Spirit remains untouched. They could split this flesh in pieces and still wouldn’t even begin to come to touch the surface of that part of my mind that still small voice that whispers “Get up.” I have been kicked down in a sweat from the fight, with blood of open wounds and tears seeping out of my eyes and still with a deep breathe I have picked myself back up from this wretched way of life. Living like he died for me. Each day is a day that a crucifixion and resurrection take place in me.
Think of the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. Hebrews 12:3
I hate that there are things in this flesh of mine that still need to have their say. The unforgiveness, bitterness, anger and rage. Things I have to tell myself, force myself to let go of repeatedly. He forgave me so I can forgive them. He died for me and He died for them. He covered it all every single sin on his body shown not a single one was left unpunished for. He isn’t asking me to do something he didn’t do first. He isn’t asking for the impossible yet still I find myself struggling with the same internal battles. The same tears shed over every single hurt. Every reminder burned into my memory like I was branded by it of a past I try every single day to crucify.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17
I wish it were that simple that I could just begin again. Start truly fresh. Truly new. Without a past only a future. Without yesterday to look back on only tomorrow to look forward to. But that would include forgetting Him. Forgetting all that He did. And that’s one memory I don’t want to forget. Like the parable of the weeds and the wheat Christ grew alongside the weeds that were growing around me.
The present struggle is small when compared to the glory that far outweighs the sacrifice. For without the trouble I would have never been drawn to Him. Without the longing for separation from this world I would have never been thrust into His Word. Fixing my eyes on what cannot be seen. The visible image of the invisible in me. The One that speaks in Words only my heart can hear. The One I can see with eyes closed holding me, his scarred hand in mine as he leads the way. He fell and rose for me to know this same power resides in me Ephesians 1:19-20. “Rise up” He whispers and I take in this word, His Word like the deep breathe that put this heart in motion. With every ounce of strength that doesn’t come from muscle or bone a resurrected life is being formed. I pick myself up from another day till there is nothing left of this flesh that I am clinging so tightly to I can’t let go of.
Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. Micah 7:8
…and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew. Psalm 110:3
|Posted on August 22, 2019 at 1:45 PM||comments (0)|
At this juncture in my life I am thinking about the hope of restoration found in Jeremiah chapter 31 because to be honest the stresses I face are no different than most. Right now we are struggling in our finances, we overextended ourselves over the summer and are paying for it in the fall. We spent what we didn’t have to spend and now we find ourselves in debt yet again. Disappointed that we didn’t save more for the unexpected things like tires, AC repair, additional purchases for guest we hadn’t planned on hosting. Life adds up and it added up fast. We kept thinking we will worry about it tomorrow and now that is today.
Along with financial struggles our once obedient son has decided that this is the year he would break every rule. It’s a fight every day to stick to the punishment we established for the boundaries broken. If it was just something as small as breaking curfew it would be dealt with and done but it was things I didn’t think I would have to deal with like drinking, vaping and drug use that crossed the boundaries. Yes the big ones.
The new addition to our home is proving to have its’ own stresses. Testing my peace, trying my patience. Constantly reminding myself this is a grown adult not another child I am needing to raise up. I asked once “Do you have everything you need? If you couldn’t buy a single thing from this day forward would what you have be enough?” With downcast eyes they replied “Yes” yet every day their actions speak louder and their truth is revealed that the world has them convinced that more is the way and less is not. Making me cast my own eyes to see yet another bag, another package, another thing to fill the emptiness of a broken heart. Discourage and disappointment don’t even begin to give justice to how this makes me feel but again it isn’t my life who am I to be the judge, so I take a deep breath and put my gavel down and watch and wait for the inevitable fall that nothing can fill what God can only fill.
As for my relationship with H well yesterday marked the one year anniversary that I asked him to leave our home. After 9 months he was still unable to manage his stress in a healthy manner. And now that these new stresses have arose he seems to be handling them better but we are still not completely made whole.
So with the finances, family and relationship putting a strain on this once whole heart I find comfort in being reminded of the hope of restoration. God said in verse 1 “In that day I will be the God of all the people and they will be my people.” In agreement my heart speaks “Father you are my God and I am your people.” He goes onto say in verse 2 “Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to my people.” Though at times it feels like the people I love are living destructive lives all around me, I am finding blessings in this barren land. The surpassing peace of heart and mind that come when I am in His Word.
This summer I found comfort just sitting in my backyard in a beach chair in a kid pool, a shade to protect me from the constant rays of the sun and some tunes to take my mind off the storms inside my home. Staring off into the blue sky, watching the birds fly by, the green grass flourishing, taking me out of the worries of this life. Rest He did give to me each day at my disposal.
In verse 3 He reminds me of His love. “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” I am loved. With a word no man can ever boast an everlasting kind of love that spans across space and time. That love is what draws me near to Him. To sit in the shade He provides. A line from Zephaniah 3:13 comes to mind “With His love, He will calm all your fears.” My worries cannot add a single moment to my life so I surrender them one by one.
Verse 4 He says “I will rebuild you.” Father you know this heart needs rebuilding the kind of restoring only you can do. You said I would be happy again and I am instantly reminded my happiness is not dependent on people or circumstance. My joy comes from knowing you are with me. “And I will dance merrily” like my ancestor David did in 2 Samuel 6:14 I will dance for you.
The next verses remind me to praise God. Praise Him for what He has done and the things to come. When I look back on this year and all the progress made though I am not where I want to be I am not where I was a year ago today there is praise to be made in that.
Verse 9 I say as a personal prayer “Tears of joy stream down my face when I think of all you have done for me. You lead me each day to my heavenly home with great care. I walk beside the quiet streams of the living water of Your Word. I walk beside You on smooth paths where I do not stumble for you hold me by my right hand because You are my Father and I am Your child.”
I keep on praying all the way through all 40 verses reflecting on my own walk with the LORD and as I go through each one comparing it with my own the stresses that surround me about finances, family, relationships fade into the background and God is on the throne of my mind again and somehow I feel restored even if the things and people in my life are not.
I am assured they will be because God is in the rebuilding business and when my life is rebuilt on His Word, His promises, His ways I can be assured that everything and everyone in my life will be holy to the LORD as He said in verse 40 after all of these wonderful promises that I will never be captured by in other words my mind would no longer be taken captive by these concerns and my heart will not be destroyed by them either I believe it is because I will have learned to put my trust in the LORD. My faith is not in people or circumstance my faith remains in God who is faithful.
…the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Habakkuk 2:4
|Posted on August 15, 2019 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.*(In Greek have put on Christ.) Galatians 3:27
“Put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” Alarm clock rings at 520am I chug down a glass of juice, wash my face, brush my hair, pull it up, put on my workout pants, a faded t-shirt and shoes and head out the door within 10 minutes of opening my eyes. I greet the moon, my day starts before sunrise. My shower is the praise music I get to sing on the morning commute. I put on gratitude as the sunrises on my return home. One down one to go. I could let this day allow me to grow weary but it has just begun. On my thirty minute break between routes I read a few 5min devotionals like I would eat a bowl of cereal one devotional one bite at a time before I head out the door one more time.
I dress my son with a prayer of wisdom, knowledge and understanding as we turn the corner toward school and ask that God fill him with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Samson, faith like Abraham, confidence like Moses, courage like Joshua and Caleb and the power of influence like King David all in the bane of Jesus as he faces his own day. More praise music on my return ride home. Feed the dogs and sit a little longer with the LORD in His Word. I put on Christ like I put on clothes.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will be standing firm. Ephesians 6:11; 13
He doesn’t take a break and neither do I. With my morning coffee I gulp down God’s armor to remind myself each day to put on the belt of truth that helps me to defeat the enemy lies. That I stretch my arms out and put my arms through this body armor of righteousness that is the blood of Christ, the grace that was given not by my own good works but what He has done for me. I tie these shoes of peace on tight so that I can shine bright whether this day is cloudy or bright he has made me to know that I am the light while here on earth. I hold up my shield of faith from the word go to fend off the fiery arrows of doubt, deceit and dread that creep in as the day unfolds. I fasten the helmet of my salvation on tight to guard my thoughts against negative thinking and keep them fixed on Him. I take the sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God to take down every lie the enemy would have believe that say I am not enough, that I can’t stand strong and I pray at all times and if I can’t find the words to speak I give thanks for all things all the time. All before I have brushed my teeth and I am still not done.
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. Colossians 3:10
Since God chose you to be His holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15
Like a good soldier who trains for the battles that I may face I must also remind myself that a softened heart is the way I conquer evil, by doing what is good. Romans 12:21 that it isn’t about fighting to be first in the rat race but staying in the human race by helping my companions along the way. It isn’t my nature to do these things I do these things so that my heart will eventually follow certainly not because I wake up and feel like doing them. I learn to know how Jesus overcame. I learn to know God my Father as Jesus knew Him. I learn every single day because there is so much I don’t know. There aren’t enough hours in a day. Enough years in a lifetime to know and I started late. Some things I just have to keep learning over and over again. Keep repeating, keep re-reading. Keep writing, keep sharing. Till it becomes part of who I am. I put on Christ before I put on anything else, if just to be close to getting to know the One who knows me completely 1 Corinthians 13:12.