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Three weeks. I had three weeks. Truthfully I had way more time to complete my homework, but I kept finding myself stuck. When you’re a (former) perfectionistic, approval-seeking, analyzer like myself you would think I would utilize the time I had to my advantage. Instead my penchant for procrastination kicked in. Combine this with the greatest gift known to woman, multitasking, and I thrive in the excitement of finishing.
Like many of my peers I have found ways to accomplish multiple tasks in my day at the same time. I’ve read what the experts have to say about the ill effects of multitasking; split attention, less effective, and mediocre results. But who knows better than me how I get things done? Forget the fact that this homework is for a class at church intended to increase my spiritual growth, and teach me how to walk in my God given authority. Nevermind the fact that if I finish these assignments I will probably find a greater peace in my life. In the time given to me I allowed anxiety set in: ‘what if I don’t pass?’ ‘I need to find a job.’ ‘What am I going to do if I run out of money?’ ‘I promised I would help.’… and on, and on, and on.
This pattern is not new to me. Over the course of my many years of employment I found myself committed to too many projects. Deadlines looming over my head I would agree to help others with their work knowing I had not completed my own projects. At times I took work home, and spent even less time in what should have been the highest priority – my relationship with God. Reading my bible became reading a scripture in a devotional when I could. Prayer became quick thank yous in the shower, and a blessing over meals. The most time I could commit to with the Lord was in my car during the morning commute. I’ll be honest those were not always the finest moments as I tried to pray, or worship, only to be cut off and cussing. That’s right. Road rage was in full effect. So I essentially stuck to listening to Christian radio hoping whatever message I was listening to would sink in. Yet, my thoughts never quite lined up with what I was listening to as they quickly went to the day’s tasks, or bills, or whatever else was a concern for that day. Instead of living a Christ-centered life my life looked more like a pie chart with Christ being the smallest piece of the pie.
In this new season of my life I didn’t expect to have to revisit how I prioritize my time with God. Still, I found that with holding off this homework came a slow depreciation of my time with Him. The busier I got, the more worried I became. Then there was the self-defeating thought that said “just a little bit of time with God is better than none.” That’s right this is a self-defeating thought because if I find my peace, hope, joy, love, freedom, and ultimately myself, in Him why would He be at the bottom of my priorities? Contrary to what you may have heard alone time with God isn’t meant to be a shadow to your list of to-do’s.
I wish I could tell you that I heard some gentle message of Mary & Martha that caused me to want to sit at the Father’s feet. No, quite the opposite. I was attempting to do a low priority task because it was less challenging, and didn’t push me spiritually. That’s right I was avoiding the change I needed. Because after all, once you know better, you do better, right? I was sitting at my computer when the Holy Spirit said very clearly “One thing at a time. You need to do one thing at a time. Prioritize. What is priority?” I immediately felt convicted because the very thing I needed to do first was the thing I put off for last. The assignments I procrastinated to complete were directly connected to my assignment in the Earth. How could I possibly attempt to do anything related to purpose if I couldn’t draw closer to the one who gave me that purpose in the first place?
I recently heard John Bevere teach that ‘it was the good of the tree that Eve was drawn to when she was deceived. The tree we know as good and evil. Eve was enticed by the good because she thought it would make her more like God. Much like Eve, many Christians are deceived by the good of a thing, not noticing the compromise it brings to their lives.’ How applicable this statement is to my very circumstances. Essentially I could have said “I shouldn’t be convicted, because after all it’s not like I don’t spend any time with God. And hey all the things I’m distracted with are for Him for the most part anyway.” But what is the value of a sacrifice when you are giving up a calculated measure that doesn’t mean much in the first place? How much are you changed or even becoming intimate with your Father when you are more consumed with projects, tasks, money, and things?
Mark 4:19 (NLV) says: “But the cares of this life let thorns come up. A love for riches and always wanting other things let thorns grow. These things do not give the Word room to grow so it does not give grain.” This scripture says ‘other things’ which is broad when you think about it. Things can be your career, your house, children, or education. Things could be physically tangible items. Things could be tasks or projects. Think about things. What ‘other things’ are growing up like a thorn in your life and choking the seeds of the word? Hard questions, I know. But I had to ask this of myself as well. If I intend to be a doer of His word I must do more than hear His word. In order to know Him I must know His word. In order to draw closer to Him I must be diligent, and whole-hearted in my pursuit. I must sit still, prioritize, and take one thing at a time.
One of the greatest steps in discovering who we are is discovering who God is. God is a God of justice and righteousness without guilt or sin. He is pure and He is Holy. Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
After Moses had been with God, his face glowed. When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, he was very much aware of his own sinfulness. But in the heart of God a way had been prepared for Jesus from the beginning. God gave His perfect gift, His Son, and through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, blood has spilled on the doorframe of the hearts of every man and woman who trusts in Him. We must draw near to God with a sincere heart of faith. Who we are in ourselves is not enough, but who we are in Christ is everything.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. Acts 17:28 For in Him we live and move and have our being.
God’s power is at work within in us everyday, therefore we can learn to live beyond our feelings. Paul learned to live beyond his flesh and feelings. 2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we learn that His grace is sufficient. Grace signifies unmerited favor, undeserved blessing, a free gift. God’s grace is His power exceeding what we could achieve or hope for if we were on our own. His grace gives us the ability to sustain, endure, and maintain all that He is enabling us to and become in Christ.
His grace enables us to manage our feelings. Although feelings can be very strong and demanding, we do not have to allow them to rule our lives. We must manage our emotions rather than allowing them to manage us. We have free will and can make decisions that are not based on feelings. I am so grateful that I don’t have to wait and see how I feel everyday before I know how to act. With Jesus’ help I am going to live beyond my feelings. I’m going to live the joy-filled life that Jesus came to give me.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-19 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
What is your heart’s cry? God hears your heart! Our words for the most part cannot express everything that is inside of us. Our words fall hopelessly short of expressing our sorrows, frustrations, hopes, and dreams.
God wants to hear our hearts so the Holy Spirit examines our conscience and subconscious innermost thoughts and feelings. I thank God for His Holy Spirit and my heavenly language that prays my heart. Jesus cares more about our heart’s cry than our words.
Romans 8:27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. When we mess up, the first thing we say is “God knows my heart.” Yes He does! Do you?
Have you ever been in a room full of people, a party, or even at a table in the midst of many conversations but you are disconnected and you just feel lonely? There was a time when I felt just like that.
A while back I realized I was feeling very lonely. Even though I have a husband and four children always around me; I felt alone. Friends weren’t calling and my social life was really very superficial, in fact non-existent. There were no meaningful conversations or even just fun daily banter taking place. It was a difficult time, but one that taught me a lot about myself and especially about my God. At first when I started feeling this way I wasn’t sure what was happening.
I would see people going off to lunch together after church, and inviting each other to their homes
I realized I was walking through a season. It was a season where God was calling me to His heart. It was time to draw closer.
and on fun outings. But that just wasn’t happening for me. When things like this occur in my life I usually do some self-reflection. Be careful it can be a slippery slope between self-reflection and self-abuse. I started wondering what was wrong with me and at times acted defensively towards others because of it. I tried being more friendly and outgoing. Nothing was working and my situation didn’t appear to be changing. I started to pray.
I love praying on the way to work. When I leave in the morning it’s dark out and fairly quiet. Even the freeway doesn’t seem to be as noisy as it does at four or five in the afternoon. There were many times I would be praying on my way to work, tears streaming down my face crying out to God about how alone I felt. I would ask Him to come to me, cover my and comfort me. It was in those times, I felt His tender hand wipe away my tears. He would touch my heart and say, “I am here.” It was then that I realized I was walking through a season. It was a season where God was calling me to His heart. It was time to draw closer.
It’s important for you to know that if you are feeling lonely; if you aren’t already, you need to begin to guard your heart. It’s very easy to mistake this season of growth for a pitfall such as rejection. The enemy would love for you to believe you are not wanted, less than, or not accepted. It’s a lie, plain and simple. There were times where offense tried to rise up in me, but I had to recognize the lie and liar and squash it right away. Make sure that you are praying and most importantly, listening. It’s the voice of God that will carry you through the valleys of this season.
I began to hear God’s voice often and sought after knowing Him in a closer way. There were even times when I would be at work and songs would pop into my head. I would hear them over and over again. One day as I walked through the hallway at work I heard Him clearly say, “I am singing my song over you.” It’s so hard to physically stay in control of yourself in those moments when you just want to crumble to the floor and weep in His presence. Not for sorrow, but in gratefulness. Thank God for the large stall in the ladies restroom!
These are months I wouldn’t trade for a hundred close friends. I don’t know how many times I have said and sang the words, “He is Everything to me.” But during this time I learned to live them. I couldn’t look to my husband, friends or children for fulfillment. It had to be God first now and always. Proverbs 18:24 says that a man with too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I would often think about Moses and how Exodus talks about the Lord speaking with him face to face. The dark place of loneliness quickly disappears when you are surrounded by His light. When His breath is on your face and your heart begins to beat in sync with His heart. There is absolutely no one and nothing in this world that is better than that.
Recently, I have had waning relationships that were put aside return in newness and in health. They are simply the bi-product of putting HIM first. Matthew 6:33 can be applied to so many areas of our lives, but it has really come alive to me in the area of friendship. I sought after a real friend and there He stood before me. I was sinking into loneliness and He carried me out of it. I needed someone to talk to and He listened and even answered.
You see it is NOT good for man to be alone. That’s basic bible. It was never God’s intention for us to live closed-off, shut- out and alone. He created us to commune with others but He intended for us to look to Him first. So if you are feeling lonely; look to Him to fill your heart. If you don’t feel like you are connecting, you can connect with Him. If you need love, love on God. I can tell you right now, it’s not going to be an overnight process. But building relationships with anyone never is and HE isn’t just anyone…this is the King of Kings we are talking about. Remember, relationships work both ways. So spend the time, build the relationship. You won’t be disappointed. I promise. I’m not.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you are going about life, minding your own business when you are suddenly hit with a thought or revelation? At this point you stop, do a double-take and look straight into life’s camera as if to say, “Really? Well that only took me fifteen years to get.” Well, I had one of those moments while reading Psalm 59. I need to rewind a bit to the beginning of my lesson called, “Watch Your Mouth.”
I was at work when my boss pulled me aside and started talking to me about promotion. This would not be the last time he would spend moments speaking to me about future plans for our organization and how I was going to fit into that. I was excited about the prospect of promotion and worked hard daily to keep moving forward towards that goal. Soon after my initial conversation with my boss I became very ill and put out on medical leave for two months. When I returned things at work had drastically changed.
The department I worked in had been split and some individuals had been promoted into a new department, not me. However, there was one spot left that and I was sure was being held just for me. A couple of weeks after returning to work, I went to see my boss and told him that I would love to move into the vacant position and I casually brought up one of our previous conversations about promoting me. He looked at me it was as though while I was out on leave, he had also fallen, bumped his head and could not remember the last three months of his life. He told me that he couldn’t remember those conversations and he would have to, “Check his notes.” I was stunned.
The next few weeks were difficult for me because I felt so disenfranchised. I started nit-picking
At this point I had convinced myself that it was ok to speak badly about him… It was an ugly moment in me.
everything and becoming bitter over what had taken place. I tried to still do my job with pride but I found myself complaining quite a bit and even stirring up others by the negative things I would say. At one point I sat down to “unload” on a co-worker who had been with the company for 15 years. Surely, I would receive sound council from this older, wiser woman.
I mumbled, griped, complained and even gossiped about my boss. I was so upset and felt it was my right to say the things I did. Picking and choosing what we will call sin is a dangerous game; and it is one that we will lose every time. At this point I had convinced myself that it was ok to speak badly about him since he had done me wrong. After all, he wasn’t in “church” with me. I knew it was sin, the Holy Spirit lives in me… Just confessing this part makes me cringe. It was an ugly moment in me.
Very soon after I was praying and I heard the Lord so clearly say to me, “You have a choice. You can let me handle it, or handle it yourself. Or will your friend do more for you than I? There are those moments when God speaks to you and He is the Lover of your soul, your heart flutters and you rejoice at the sound of His voice in your ear. He can also speak to you and be Daddy, or Papa loving and tender. At this very moment He spoke to me as Father and Lord. The sound of His voice commanded me to attention and I knew there would be no more excuses or justifications for my behavior. Plain and simple, I was wrong.
From that moment on, I let it go. (I wonder if Queen Elsa knew she was going to release a song of deliverance.) I asked God to forgive me and I moved on by making a decision to change my attitude and chose the high road at every turn. Every time I wanted to remember what I thought had been stolen from me, my mind returned to God’s words over me and I was empowered to return to peace…His peace.
Our organization shifted again and this time because of the changes a large amount of the work load swung over to my group. Coupled with the growing industry demand our department found itself heavily bombarded with more work than we could handle. We were all working ten to eleven hours every day. I kept a good attitude about it all and was determined to be God’s instrument of peace amidst the chaos and complaining. Every day, He put a smile on my face and gave me a reason to laugh out loud and enjoy my job.
One day my manager called me in to her office and told me that we were hiring a new group of representatives and they were starting the next week. She had recommended me for a mentoring position. It was going to be my responsibility to train a new employee. I was ecstatic. I love teaching and this was an amazing opportunity being trusted with a new hire. If I had been promoted those months ago, this opportunity would not have been available for me. I would have been operating in a different capacity and not in the place I was called to be.
Current day…I am reading Psalm 59 and I am looking into life’s camera dumbfounded. I hear the words of David. He is crying out for deliverance from those who seek to destroy him. He is pouring out his broken heart before God and waiting on him to move on his behalf. The man who had become a father figure to him, Saul sought to kill him and yet he waited. What I found most profound about David’s Psalm was that he hadn’t gone out gossiping about Saul telling his woes and troubles to whoever would listen. He took all of that to God and at the end of Psalm 59 in verses 16-17 David praises and worships God, while he waits.
David, in the midst of this great trial and grief, remembers the Lord and how worthy He is. He draws his strength and resilience from Him. He remembers that there is nothing more important than his bond, heart to heart with God. As I came to end of this Psalm I heard the Lord speak to me again and although the scripture may seem harsh to some; at that moment his voice was like gentle rain on my face. It brought refreshing and renewal to me. He said, “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life. But he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction and I have come that you may have life.”
I close my eyes and He is nearer to me than the skin that covers my flesh. He is my breath and the life that moves through me every day. In Him I live…I move…I exist because of Him. Once again he has lovingly taught me a much needed lesson about trust and honor. I sense the chuckle in His voice as He speaks again, “Are you ready?…New level, new lesson.” I can’t help but giggle with Him. Never a dull moment with our God.
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what has been planted. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
It is 5:10 on a Monday morning and I‘m headed out the door on my way to work. My drive in is usually dark due to the early morning hour but today the dawn is quickly breaking through the night sky and the asphalt of the usual dark streets has now begun to reflect the early morning sunlight. The transformation of daylight is only one of the marks of the season’s change. The weather is also changing and the green leafy trees have begun their makeover into an array of browns, orange, red and golden yellows. On this particular morning I can almost see the finger of God pointing to the horizon as the sun begins to peak though.
My heart races, my eyes are open and I sense this season of change is more than just an annual event written in the almanac. His voice is clear although it is a mere whisper in my ears. It is as loud as thunder and as gentle as a soft warm breeze. On mornings like these I wonder how I arrive at my destination. I am completely captivated by His voice and He has all of my attention.
He shows me the beauty in the colors of the leaves and I realize that although lovely to behold these changes signify the death of the leaf. Soon they will dry, wither and fall from the branch. It is a necessary cycle preparing the tree for the next season of life. As the season continues, the rains will come. Each drop of water will aid the process gently removing the unfruitful parts of the tree to make room for the newness and life that will soon come. I see myself and what I have walked through so clearly. I had not relinquished the unfruitful leaves in my life so willingly at first, but as I have surrendered each and every fruitless branch, He has been faithful gently prune it in preparation for new areas of life.
This has been a season of transformational change for me in so many ways. There have been areas in my life that were dead and fruitless. Those areas seemed so beautiful to my eyes and yet it was time to allow the removal to take place. Just like the gentle raindrops washing away the lifeless leaves from each branch, He has washed away these areas in my life. Some of the changes were painful and there seemed to be a time where I even mourned the loss of these areas. God walked me through this too. He allowed me the time to process and when it was time He called me to stand up, and grow up. I would not have come to this place of thriving life if I had not allowed the pruning process to occur.
A time to break down, and a time to build up, a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:3-4
When the dead leaves fall to the ground they are transformed further. They break up and become nourishment to the tree, bringing it strength and feeding it for the next season. The leaves go into the ground and become a type of fertilizer which is then absorbed by the root. The useless, dead leaf is now once again part of the tree, but this time in a way that gives life. Those things that have been removed out of my life are areas where I have gained strength. Each learning process will forever remain in my memory, not as a source of pain, but as a remembrance for growth. I share with you these areas of victory because God has the ability to transform every dead thing that was cut off into an instrument of change and seed for new life. I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures. It was one of the first ones I learned and it has carried me through many situations.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
I arrive at my destination and I am about to enter the building I see a tree at the entrance. There are benches and tables under it. Sometimes at lunch we sit under this tree and it provides shade from the sun. Even during the triple digit heat of summer, it provided shelter and a cool place to rest. I study the trees structure. The trunk is weather and time worn, but wide and strong reaching past the three stories of the building’s height. Its branches spread out across the yard and stretch towards heaven in a stance of praise and surrender.
Breakthrough has come and the new season is here. I see it, feel it and every fiber of my being is alert to what is breaking forth right now. It’s time for me to embrace this newness and walk in the fullness of His plan for this season of my life. My heart is surrendered to Him and all that He desires to do in me. I sense His nearness and I know that His plans for me are good. I can’t help but smile, because I know He is with me here, now, and always.
I am enamored with autumn. The change in weather, captivating colors, warm sweaters, and intimate gatherings make this the best season of the year. Even the fragrance of autumn invokes warmth and friendliness that the other seasons do not share. You see, spring carries the excitement of new life, and fresh blossoms. While summer is about the outdoors, cook-outs, and travels. Winter may be cozy, but is so over-chilled any reason to stay indoors is welcomed. This brings us back to autumn. Autumn, in my opinion, is the centerpiece of community. We can once again gather to drink hot coffee, pumpkin flavor of course. We hold dinner parties, and engage in meaningful conversations because we are less likely to be distracted by a beach ball flying in our face. If married with children, this is the season where our children have returned to school, which means bedtimes, routine, and order are back in place. In the movies, this is the season when couples really fall in love. I could go on.
Yet, we are so captivated by the beauty that surrounds us, we don’t consider all that is being removed.
Instead I would like to consider something this season also represents, but is to some extent ignored, and that is transition. Foliage fades from vibrant greens to serene oranges, and browns before floating to the ground. The bright scorching sun is overshadowed by clouds. Gardeners prune back the once brilliant landscape as plants are no longer producing. This cycle of death is what leads us into the serenity of winter. Yet, we are so captivated by the beauty that surrounds us we don’t consider all that is being removed. One day I was in what was an intense study for me. The words “intentional, deliberate friendships” had been playing over and over in my head. Partly because I realized I have a smaller group of close friends than I used to, and partly because I questioned my decision to decline an offer to “hang out.” Saying no has become fairly new for me, and lately I have used the word more than I have in the past 5 years. So I asked God, “Show me characteristics of what being intentional looks like. Show me how to receive others well, and to be deliberate in my actions towards them.” He showed me many different aspects of relationships through different individuals in the Bible. Then, right in the middle of the lesson I asked for, was a lesson I needed. It was after putting together the list of characteristics that He then showed me Autumn.
Yet, we are so captivated by the beauty that surrounds us, we don’t consider all that is being removed.
Autumn is significant to the season of friendships or relationships falling away. The desire to be a well-liked person can overshadow what God is doing in your life, pushing you into a place of loneliness. We are surrounded by beauty as change is manifesting, but if we don’t allow ourselves to embrace the pruning we will miss it. In order for new plants or fruits to grow the lifeless and fruitless must be removed. Autumn is a season of transition because it is a season of cleaning out or making room. That transition brings winter into a cherished space. The winter is where we can sit in His serenity. In the winter is where we find His peace. In the silence of our alone time we can hear His voice clearer, and feel Him strengthen us. Below the cold desolate surface, in the richness of the soil He has planted us in, are new seeds waiting for the time to spring forth and bring fruit.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,2b (HCSB) says “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven… a time to plant and a time to uproot;”
My prayer is that you find the beauty in the uprooting.
In John 16:33 Jesus “these things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Tribulation can be defined as pressure, oppression, stress, anguish, adversity, affliction, crushing, squashing, squeezing or distress. To me, tribulation is like putting a lot pressure on the freedom Christ has given us. It feels like bench pressing a weight you can’t lift without putting everything you have into it. So I start my day praying, petitioning, taking authority, binding, loosing, and committing everything into the hands of the Lord. And He truly has given me supernatural strength and peace in the midst of the storm.
1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. I know in whom I believe in, and I know I am an overcomer. I know this too shall pass. The hard part is saying strong and walking through it. It’s not by might nor by power but by His spirit.
We are more than conquerors through who Him who loved us Romans 8:37. I know that in this the enemy is trying to wear me down and get me frustrated and discouraged enough to make me give up, but instead I choose to allow the Lord to use all this to make me stronger than ever and to come out on the other side of this with an even greater faith. Thank you Jesus!
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Thank you Jesus that when you are on our side, we have nothing to fear! My hope is in the One who overcame so that I could become an overcomer.
Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. True hope begins with the daily pressure we face, through tribulation we grapple with the truth of God, who He is, and what He has promised. Pressure produces perseverance- the ability to keep going and be patient because we see that God had never let us down. And perseverance produces character because our lives are not based on daily challenges, but on God’s eternal truths.
That truth produces hope which does not disappoint because you have seen His goodness. Through it all we know Him and love Him more. And that is what is truly a reason to feel encouraged and hopeful. We need to praise Him and hope our way through our tribulations because in them, He is doing wonderful things.
His love helps us endure all things. God wants us to be assured of His love and never allow anything to separate us from it. With a heart full of gratitude, we can rest in the knowledge that God loves us in good times, and He loves us in the hard times. God loves us on the days we act right, and He loves on the days we don’t act right. Thankfully His love is unconditional!
He loves us based not on what we do, but on who we have become through The blood of Jesus. In other words we need to know that we are God’s beloved children and how to separate our “who” from our “do.” We won’t do everything right all the time, especially during tribulations, but we are still in right standing in God through Christ. I can celebrate through my tribulations because He loves me through them.
Even though I want to please Him with my actions and my attitude through it all I know that His love for us is deeper than that, I know that through this troubling time in my life there is a mighty battle going on for my peace of mind but I when I shut out the world and focus on His presence, I can enjoy sitting with Him in heavenly realms. My greatest strength is my desire to spend time communing with Him.
As I concentrate on Him, His spirit fills my mind with life and peace. I choose to stay in constant communication with Him as I walk through this season of my life. I refuse to worry, because worry is not faith.
Psalms 5:3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.
What would happen if day in and day out you just never tried to do anything? By anything, I mean ANYTHING. You don’t pay attention to clocks and rise when you feel like it. You don’t go to work because you don’t feel like it. There is no showering, or grooming for you of any kind. You simply “step over” the trash in your home because you don’t want to take the time to throw it out and cleaning is just too much work. During the day you lay down some more, nap a little and watch TV, while of course sitting down on your trash ridden sofa. You eat whatever makes you happy for the moment and at night, or in the wee hours of the morning you retire to your disheveled, smelly bed to sleep until the next day begins…whenever you decide that is.
Some of you may be completely disgusted by the picture I just painted. But can I say that some who may be meticulous cleaners, organizers, and hard workers who never miss a day of employment sick or not, may also be living this kind of lazy-life existence? Sound funny? Well what if I told you that it is possible to suffer from emotional, spiritual, mental and even relational atrophy? It is. Proverbs 29:18 very clearly tells us that without a vision the people perish. So it is possible to neglect ourselves in the areas where most people don’t see. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it!”? It’s true. Just like our natural muscles suffer and degenerate with disuse so does our spiritual, emotional, and mental strength and acuity.
Atrophy does not only occur after disuse. It can also occur as the result of an injury. Have you kept yourself separated from others because you are “too busy” to make time for family or friends? Or is the real reason you avoid too much time with people because you have experienced hurt in past relationships and you fear opening your heart again to others. If you are nervous or anxious about building relationships here is a solution Paul gives us in Philippians 4:6 & 7. He says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.” So in other words…Seek ye first… Matthew 6:33
Atrophy does NOT have to be permanent. Exercising the atrophied areas can build you up and make you strong where you were once weak. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be pain along the way. It happens, but we can grow through it and emerge stronger. When you work out for the first time in a LONG time you get sore. Even if you are normally a physical person you may have switched up your exercise regimen or done something that you normally don’t do. In the fitness world this is referred to as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This pain can be alarming to a person who is new to exercise but someone who is used to exercising knows it and will be able to skillfully work through it because they know the soreness is part of a process that will lead to greater stamina and strength in that area.
Daily life makes it easy to neglect our health and growth in areas that we think are “unseen”. We are all busy but prioritizing is the key. For instance, how much time is spent watching television or trolling the social media sites? Could Facebook or Instagram stand a little less attention from you? Think about it. Could you replace ONE hour a week of social media time with actual human interaction? Could you attend a bible study or even sit down to read or pray by yourself in an effort to grow spiritually? These are the areas you can explore and only you (and God) know where you can give a little more.
Those who run marathons must train for this even if they are normally very physical. They must discipline themselves on a daily basis, watching what they eat, how much water they drink, and of course building their stamina for the race ahead of them. They push themselves to the limit and stretch the boundaries of their muscles and mental status keeping their eyes on the prize, the goal, the finish line. For some winning that race means crossing the finish line, no matter what number they are.
Others race against their own previous record. They want to push past what they were able to achieve before. For you and I…putting on those tennis shoes and making it to the starting line may be worthy of a gold medal.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
You can do it…Flex that muscle…It’s time to DO WORK!
Written By Judy Smith
I have always struggled with the thoughts of my mind. My mind runs a hundred miles an hour and I have a huge imagination. As a child, I would use my imagination to escape. I was alone on the farm with my grandparents and there were no other children living nearby. So I pretended and used my vivid imagination to take me out of my pain. As I grew older I had to face reality and I toned my imagination down.
After becoming a Christian I discovered two scriptures to decree over my thoughts daily. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
We need to bring even our thoughts into obedience to Christ. We are to have a change of heart, and we must also have a change of mind. Obedience signifies attentive hearing and listening with compliant submission and agreement. We have all had strongholds in our minds. Strongholds are established ways of thinking that are contrary to the truth of God. This is why we are to take every thought captive. Behind a stronghold is also a lie- a place of personal bondage where there are unscriptural ideas, confusion, or an ungodly belief that we think is true.
Some of the weapons that pull down these strongholds are God’s word, the blood of Christ Jesus, and the name of Jesus. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
When I war and decree and declare the scriptures over my mind, I see change. I am sure this battle will continue the rest of my life because the enemy will always want to rule our minds. Resist him. Satan has declared war on us and our minds are the battlefield on which the war is won or lost. Satan loves to place wrong thoughts into our minds; thoughts that are not in agreement with God’s word, hoping we will meditate on them long enough for them to become reality in our lives. We can cast down these wrong thoughts and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.
Be thankful that you can choose your own thoughts and that you are not a prisoner to any thought that crosses your mind. Think good things that agree with God’s word on purpose. Think about God’s love for you, and the good plan He has for your life. Think about how you can be a blessing to God by simply being available for Him to work through. Thinking right thoughts will close the door to wrong thoughts and in the process it also closes the door to the devil.
Release the thoughts of worry. Matthew 6:27 And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure to his stature or the span of his life? Worry and anxiety manifest in physical illness and disability. It is one thing to know that we should not worry, but it is quite another to be the thankful for that truth, and then actually stop worrying.
Cast out the stronghold of worrying. What helped me let go of worry was realizing how useless it is. Let me ask you: how many problems have you solved by worrying? Has anything ever gotten better as a result of worrying or being anxious? Of course not.
The instant you begin to worry or feel anxious, give your concern to God in prayer. Release the weight of it, and totally trust Him to either show you what to do or take care of it Himself. Prayer is a powerful force against worry. Years ago we sang a praise song that said If I know the Lord is taking care of me what do I have to worry about? And if I know the Lord is going to see me through, why don’t I sing and shout? When you’re under pressure, pray about your need instead of fretting or complaining about it. Take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ!
Understanding alone will never bring peace. That’s why God has instructed you to trust Him, and not in your own understanding. Many of us have a voracious appetite for trying to figure things out, in order to gain a sense of mastery over our life. But the world presents you with an endless series of problems. As soon as you master one problem, another pops up to challenge you. The relief you had anticipated is short lived. Soon your mind is gearing up again, searching for understanding instead of seeking God.
The wisest of all men, Solomon could never think his way to peace. In Ecclesiasts we see that his vast understanding and wisdom resulted in feelings of futility, rather than fulfillment. Ultimately, he lost his way and succumbed to wrong thinking and began to worship his wives’ idols.
God’s peace is not an elusive goal, it is not hidden, and it is not unattainable. You are enveloped in peace when you are in His presence and in His word. As you look to God and draw near to Him, you gain a greater awareness of His peace and love. What do you have to worry about?
Written By Judy Smith
Believe- to as accept true or real; to hold onto religious beliefs.
Beliefs- something that is trusted or believed.
Sometimes we as Christians have a belief system, but do we really believe? John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
In my thirty years before Christ there were many who let me down and did not keep their promises. I didn’t trust anyone. When I welcomed Jesus into my life, I said that I believed, but I was still working hard to earn my salvation. I studied God’s word and prayed believing, yet I was still trying to fix everything and trying to make it happen.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Did I really believe that I had received salvation? I began to search my heart. As I studied the scriptures I discovered that the disciples struggled with unbelief even after being taught by Jesus for three years.
Mark 16:14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. In Mark 9 the father of a demon possessed son brought him to the disciples and they could not cast the demon out. Jesus said in verse 19 “O faithless generation how long shall I bear with you? Bring him to me. In verse 24: Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!”
I began crying out to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief,” and thus began my journey to greater belief and greater faith. Let me encourage you to do this daily; and let me encourage you today through scriptures. Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Hebrews 11:1 NASB Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Here is the definition of faith for us to live by today: being completely assured of what we hope for, and absolutely certain of what we do not see. Though everything around us goes against that hope, we have complete confidence in God. We believe in God, and that He can do the impossible. Perhaps the question is “will He?” Does God love me enough to help me? The answer is absolutely yes. Even though God has shown His love for us in Christ, we must still accept His love by faith; fully believing that He will not fail us. God loves you, believe it!
Psalms 42:11 ESV Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God…
Every morning we have an option. We can either choose to be discouraged, or choose to hope and believe. It is a decision that remains in your power. We can govern our attitude, especially when meditating on the God who can turn everything around for us. Our circumstances need not dictate our mood.
Are you discouraged? Put your hope in God. Believe! He will certainly bless you. Psalms 43:3 NLT Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live.
Blessed is the believer. Luke 1:45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said. There is so much peace in simply believing and knowing that God will do as He said. Even at her young age, Mary knew to believe. Perhaps that is the reason God chose to bless her with being the mother of the Messiah, because her faith was so strong; she believed. Certainly it’s not always easy to rest and believe in God’s promises. When you believe- really, fully trust- that God will do as He says, you will experience a deep abiding peace, faith, and belief that bless you. You will know His presence and power in a way that will amaze everyone.
Lord Jesus we want to have Mary’s faith; the kind that believes the impossible. Thank you for blessing and strengthening our faith!