Sunday, October 1, 2017

Set Free

"In Christ, there is no condemnation."

Romans 8:1

      You focus on where you fail, but I see where you grew. You look more and more like Christ with every choice. Keeping your eyes on your failures will never let you see the victory.
There is a reason you focus on your failures. Words have been spoken into you by others that took root and choked out the joy and peace and love you had in Me. Your child-like faith was crushed and the lies were rooted deep. Ask Me to reveal them to you. I will. Ask Me to get rid of them, and we will--together. You have to be willing to let them go. It will not be easy because they have been your constant companion all these years. These lies are familiar; they are comfortable; they are who you believed you are all these years. You have to be willing to let them go.
You know I am good. You know I am faithful. You know I can do this thing. You just have to trust Me that the pain will be only for a moment.
You can keep those companions, but you will never be an overcomer if you do. My way leads to complete freedom. That's what I want for you.
You love me. I know that you do. I have never doubted that. I know you. Let me love you the way you need for Me to love you.

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 

2 Corinthians 7:10

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Profound Words

Back in March, I discovered a new author, Staci Stallings.  She has an incredible talent for weaving God's truths into her beautiful stories.  I devoured all of her books in a matter of a few weeks. All of the books had amazing messages, but the message in one impacted me a lot.  I wrote down quotes from the book, but I neglected to write down the title.  I'll find it and post it, but for now--read the message.

1. None of us can live worthy of the call we have received without first giving God the permission to transform us into something we have not yet become, to create in us and with us something completely new.

2.  He gave up Heaven for you.  He went to hell to get you.  And He wants nothing more than for you to choose to follow the path He has set out for you into Heaven.  God's grace made that path an option, and it is freely given to you.  The only question is, will you accept it?

3.  People are valuable not because of their intrinsic perfection but rather because no matter how cracked we get, God refuses to throw us away.  He refuses to give up on us.

4.  When signs start all pointing in the same direction, you can know without a doubt that God is in the middle of it.

5.  Once you have a God calling on your life and you really "get it", your calling becomes your place in the world where God wants to shine His light.

6.  You ask Him to come into your heart and your life.  It is the hardest thing you will ever do because when you really mean it, the next step is total surrender to His way of doing things.

7.  Once you go all-in with God, none other than Satan himself is going to step up to take you out.  You've probably been playing with some of his demons--fear, greed, jealousy, frustration.  But if you decide to go all-in, hell will be brought against you--to make you quit, to get you to give up, to get you off the field.  Satan doesn't just want to convince you (to give up).  He's out to destroy you, to eliminate you, to annihilate you.  He doesn't want you off the field, he wants you out of the game permanently.

8.  There is a battle, a spiritual battle, being waged for souls everywhere we look.  God has been in a pitched battle for your soul for some time now.  Satan wants you to think you are a "good person" with a "good life".  He wants you to stay in that nice, safe, "good" life.  He wants you to believe there is no battle so you will have no real reason to fight.  God, however, has different plans. 

9.  You cannot face Satan on your own  He is Goliath.  He is the Egyptian army.  He is Death.  And he will take you out if you let him.
     You are no longer you.  God is in you.  He is working in your life, and He will fight if you let Him.  This is life-and-death important.  If you try to do this on your own power, the demons don't recognize your power and you'll be at their mercy.  
     There's more going on here than you can see with your natural eyes.

10.  What you have to know is that you are not helpless in this battle.  You are not.  Never, ever think you are.  In fact, the victory has already been won.  It came on a Jewish hillside 2,000 years ago when Jesus broke the chains of sin and death.  When He died and rose, He conquered death, the grave, and hell.  What we have to do now is, claim that victory.  But if we don't know how, if we don't know we have that power, we will never use it--much less use it effectively.

11.  The demons and even Satan himself have no power that we don't willingly hand over.  They can mess with us but they cannot make us do anything that we do not choose to do.
      They have absolutely no power when it comes to the Holy Blood of Jesus Christ.  They must do what you say when you command them by the Blood of Jesus and also with the Name of Jesus.  When you do this, you are not acting as yourself.  You have chosen to put Jesus in front of you, to let Him fight the battle.  The demons hate that.  They will flee.  They have no choice. 
      "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army....You will not have to fight this battle.  Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you."   2 Chronicles 
     You just have to agree and cooperate with Him in the battle.  You are a child of the King, and with that comes certain privileges and also some responsibilities.  One of these is to take up the Word.  This is your weapon.  You learn this, and you will see ever more deeply that God has a plan, and His plan works.

12.  The more you decide to take the battle to Satan, the more he will come after you--work, family, home life--wherever he can get a foothold to know you off your game, he will.  He wants at all costs to convince you that you can't do this, that it's pointless to try, that you might as well give up.  He knows if he can plant those seeds of doubt in your mind and division in your heart, his plan is all but done.

13.  What you do, what you decide to do will make a difference, one way or another.  In fact, it can't not make a difference.  If you choose X, you choose the consequences of X--good and bad.  If you choose Y, you choose different consequences.  In fact, even choosing nothing at all will make a difference in what ultimately happens.  You choose, and you choose the consequences.

14.  Your choices matter.  They will take you where you will ultimately end up.  If you care about where that is, then you have to be making the choices, the decisions, now that will lead you there.

15.  "Satan and all your minions, you are hereby cast out and away from this place by the HOLY Blood of JESUS CHRIST and you are sent to the throne of the Most High God to be dealt with as He sees fit.
      "Dear Jesus, be with us in this situation.  Guide us with Your wisdom.  Help us with Your strength.  Give us Your peace and Your love, Your mercy and Your grace.  We ask this in Your Holy Name."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Swimming in the Shallows

My devotion this morning has stirred my heart, empowered my soul.  I want to share parts of it in the hope that it stirs you and empowers you.  All of the words below are mine, except for the questions.  These come from the devotion. I've retold Mark 4: 38-40, but Jesus' words in verse 40 are directly quoted from The New Living Translation.  If you want the actual devotion, it's found on the YouVersion Bible App and is called Teach Me to Pray: Devotions from Time of Grace.  I've also linked you to the Time of Grace website.  So, with all that said, here I am:

I am struggling.  I am really struggling.  There are so many areas of my life that are not where I want them to be, where they should be, where they were, and I have been powerless to change them.  I have been powerless because my faith has faltered, my passion has plummeted, my hope has been hollow and my prayers have been paltry.  I desperately wanted to be back with Him, but I've been stuck.  God did not leave me, but I left Him.  I stopped holding His hand, and I wandered away.

I've been playing a game--saying I am HIS but living as if I'm not.  I don't want to live this way anymore.

It was not an immediate separation.  It has actually taken years for me to get to this point, to get this far, to get this deep.  I didn't plunge headfirst into sin; I just sort of slid into it, dipping my toes in first, sort of skirting around the edges, getting comfortable with the water before I submerged myself.  Truthfully, it is only by God's grace and mercy that I never sank to the bottom.  He never gave up on me.  He has been calling me back to Himself and has been holding out His hands of love and forgiveness even before I thought of taking a swim in sin.

I've been swimming in the shallow end, but I'm soaked with sin, nevertheless.

That water that looked so enticing from afar is actually murky and filled with debris and death.

I splashed; I floated; I enjoyed the water.  So, I stayed.

I heard Him calling me back.  I saw His hand stretched out to pull me free.  And often I would turn to look at Him, treading water where I was, slowly paddling back toward shore, still believing that I wasn't too far gone.  But I stayed in the water.

Eventually, I realized that I was getting closer to the deep end with every swish of my foot, every stroke of my hand.  It had become difficult to keep my head above the water.  Instead of enjoying my swim,  I was treading water.  I had been playing a long time.  I was tired.  I didn't like the slime and the crud sticking to me.  I turned to head for the ladder, but it was too far away.  I was stuck in the middle. I wanted to get out, to wash off the slime, but I couldn't.  The crud and debris weighed me down and I was going under. All of the work I was doing trying to get myself out wasn't getting me any closer to the edge, to safety.   I could not make it.  I would not make it.  I needed to be pulled from the water. I desperately needed my Life Preserver but I had left Him back before I ever reached the pool.  He seemed too far away.  There was no way I could reach Him.  I so desperately wanted to be safe by His side!

In Matthew Chapter 4, the disciples are in a tiny boat in the midst of a raging storm.  They are being tossed and turned by massive waves; water is crashing over the sides.  Regardless of how hard they row, the paddles cannot control the boat. They cannot conquer the storm that threatens to sink them.  They are frantic, filled with fear.  They are going down.

Jesus is in the front of the boat, sleeping through it all.  The storm doesn't bother him.  The disciples finally cry out to Him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
Jesus wakes and speaks to the turbulent wind and the violent waters, "Quiet!  Be still!"  The wind dies the surging water subsides.

I can see the disciples staring at Jesus with their mouths hanging open, water pouring from their hair, seaweed stuck to their faces and their clothes plastered to their bodies.

Jesus looks at them.  Maybe he shakes his head a bit.  Maybe he holds his hands out in front of him to emphasize His words, "Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?"

Jesus was asking a lot when he asked those two simple questions.  He wanted to know the depth of their commitment.

He wants to know the same thing from me.  So today, He asked me.

Who do you worship?

How big is your God?

Is He really omnipotent or just semi-omnipotent?

Is He the King of everything and Lord of all?  Or just a duke or earl of all you see?

Is He the Master of the universe or merely a middle man?

Has Satan really been dealt a fatal blow or is it just a flesh wound?

How big is your faith? 

I don't want to be where I am any longer.  I don't want to test the waters.  I don't want to sample the offerings of the world.  I don't want to pretend anymore.

I want to be back where I had been ages ago--walking with Jesus, holding His hand, leaning on His promises, serving the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

He has the answers.  He has the only promises that were true.  He has all power, all knowledge, all hope.  He has defeated Satan with a mighty mortal blow.  He has peace.  He has joy!  He has everything I want.

I stop floundering.  The waters still.  I look up and see my Life Preserver, right in front of me, easily within my grasp.  I reach out and grab hold.  He pulls me out.  He sets me on dry ground and washes away the trash covering me.  He wraps His arms around me, pulling me to His chest, and then He whispers the most beautiful words to my heart.  "I've missed you.  Precious woman, you are still Mine!  I'm so glad you are home!"