The Place God Has Prepared for Us

Exodus 23:20-22(NLT)
“20 See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. 22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you.”

“Sometimes I just want to give up! Nothing in my life is easy! Every time I turn around, there’s another hurdle to jump through.”


Can you sense the frustration and disappointment in the statement above? Sometimes, the Christian journey isn’t easy. There can be jubilant highs and gut-wrenching lows. There are hurdles to jump through, and many trials and tribulations to overcome. These are all a part of life’s journey. But somehow, many individuals think that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are exempt from challenges and adversities. We are not. The difference between those that have made Jesus Christ their personal Lord and Savior and those that have not is the victory that he offers us through our faith! 1John 5:4(NLT) declares this! It states, “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.”

You may feel as though you’re on the losing side, but this is where faith comes in. We must trust that God set up our journeys in Christ to be victorious and triumphant, not downtrodden and powerless. When we’re struggling to believe this, God commands us to renew our minds so that feelings of defeat and sadness are not our go-to emotions. He wants us to replace these with faith and confidence in Him.

Our struggle begins when we believe that we must strive to be good enough and that we must force ourselves to have confidence. Jesus Christ tells us in John 6:63(NLT), “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” He’s teaching us the difference between the realm of the flesh and the realm of the Spirit. You and I didn’t save ourselves from the bondage of death and darkness, there was no way we could have possibly done this. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Through the finished work of his sacrifice and resurrection, God has set us free through His beloved and powerful Son.

He tells us Galatians 5:1(NIV), “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This means that we’re to abandon the mindset of trying to make ourselves right and lay hold of the mindset of accepting God’s way of making us right through Jesus Christ. We are spiritual beings, and our new way of responding to God and life is through His Spirit.

God teaches us many spiritual lessons about His provision, protection, and power through the Children of Israel in the Old Testament. We see His faithfulness and His desire for a family. And we also see how God expects us to behave as members of His family. He is our Heavenly Father, and He commands us to lean totally and completely on Him for everything. In Proverbs 3:5-6(NLT), He instructs, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” So, even in our emotions and feelings, Heavenly Father expects us to make them submissive to our faith in Him.

We can learn a lot in the Old Testament from the mistakes His people made when they didn’t trust Him. They witnessed God part the Red Sea to rescue them from slavery under the Egyptians. He rained manna from heaven to feed them, and when they complained about the manna, He caused a wind to bring quails to them from the sea. In the wilderness, He split open rocks and caused water to burst forth like a spring. The miracles God showed them were too numerous to count, but even with all His miraculous works, they still did not remain faithful. With everything that Heavenly Father did for them, they were not totally convinced of His love and power.

You and I can be assured that witnessing God’s miracles doesn’t necessarily cause our minds and hearts to change towards Him. This is a tremendous lesson for us to learn. Jesus Christ commands us in Mark 12:30 to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. This means that we are to love our Heavenly Father with all that we are. This kind of love comes from Jesus Christ, and it is not dependent on the wonderful things that God does; it is dependent on the reality of who God is. We must love Him because He is the ‘Great I Am!’ He’s holy beyond holiness, brilliance beyond brilliant, perfect beyond perfection, and majestic beyond majesty. He is worthy to be praised because He is who He is. This is the truth on which our faith must be anchored.

This race that you and I are running in life is the race that God has set before us. We didn’t set it, He did. Our lives belong to Him. He knows every detail, experience, and encounter in our lives before these things occur. In Exodus 23:20, God shows us that He will even send His angels ahead of us to protect us, and He will keep our feet from falling while we’re running this race of life, but we must trust Him and He will not force us to do so. Everything we do, think, feel, and say is completely up to us. We are the ones to determine whether we will walk in the victory of Christ based on the choices and decisions we make. God desires that we choose Him and His Word every time. He desires us to walk in the victory of Christ so that we will not be defeated by the tricks of the enemy. He wants us to know that we will outsmart the devil by thinking, speaking, and behaving like Christ, and having the kind of faith that Christ has.

Notice also in Exodus 23:20 that God tells His people that He had prepared a place for them. When He told them this thousands of years ago, He was referring to the Promised Land. But because of what God accomplished for us in Christ, we can walk in the Promised Land every day because God has set us free!  We need to focus on the reality of who God is more than we focus on our emotions and feelings. We should never want it said about us that we value our emotions and feelings more than we value the truth of God’s Word.

It’s a mistake to think that God can’t relate to the troubling times we face on earth as His Children. He absolutely does, and He tells us in Romans 8:37 that He’s made us more than conquerors over those things through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Many of us have a pattern of relying on how we feel, and we allow this to govern us, but feeling low, sad, and defeated is not the place God has prepared for us. He wants us to put all our trust on the reality of who He is. He is faithful and has all power in His hands. When we trust in the totality of His goodness, grace, and mercy, He will go before us and lead us every step of the way. He will handle those that talk about us and try to cause us trouble, as we have confidence that victory in Christ will always be our destination when we continue to place all our trust in God.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“The Place God Has Prepared for Us”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Kick Pain to the Curb!

Release the pain and anger of past heartaches and embrace the
victory God gives us through Jesus Christ!

The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14(NLT), “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” In order to get the full impact of what God is teaching us through Paul in Philippians 3:13-14, we need to know a little bit about Paul’s background. At one time, his mind was so blinded by satan that he actually authorized the persecution, murders, and imprisonment of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The things he had been taught were wrong, and because of this, he was going backward instead of forward. He fed his mind and heart lies and misinformation. He became full of arrogance and surprisingly, he thought he knew what God wanted.

Before Paul was converted and gave his life to Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he made humongous mistakes. Again, in his past, he was notorious for persecuting the very people that God commanded him to preach to after his conversion. So, when he started ministering the Gospel, as we can well imagine, it was an uphill journey. He understood that this was his purpose and destiny in Christ, but people had reservations because of Paul’s murderous history. They knew the things he had done, and it was hard for them to accept that he had been transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Paul became such a devoted and masterful teacher of the Gospel that the people could not deny that God was working through him. This is such a poignant example for us because Paul counted the things that he gained in Christ to be far superior to anything he had possessed or done wrong in his past. In Philippians 3:8(NLT), he proclaimed, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.”

This is the posture, mindset, and attitude that God expects from us. We have made many mistakes in our past. We didn’t know the Lord as we do today, and we may not have had the desire to please Him as we do today. Some of us have gone through painful divorces. We’ve injured others and we’ve been injured ourselves from broken relationships. The emotional heartache and hurt of this pain can be very challenging to get over, but like the Apostle Paul, none of us can afford to allow our pasts to define our present or our futures.

This is a choice! Each of us must choose to let the past remain in the past. We must do this for our own sake and for the sake of God’s Will and plan for our lives. God tells us in Ephesians 4:31-32(NLT), “31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” I recently had a conversation with a woman that is still enraged over the infidelity of her ex-husband. She refuses to get over how he treated her and their marriage. He’s moved on and is now in another relationship, but she is stuck in her past. This isn’t what God wants for any of us. He doesn’t want us to be blocked in our hearts and minds by something that occurred a long time ago. And if we’re keeping it real, none of us can change what has already occurred.  

We can’t have a redo when it comes to our past. When those situations occurred, they may have impacted us in a very painful way, but instead of allowing them to trap us like quicksand, we should learn from them. We must understand that we can kick pain to the curb and keep it moving by attending to the things of God. We were born with God’s purpose in our DNA, and we will not be satisfied until we begin to walk in the destiny that He has placed us on this earth to achieve. We have victory in Christ! This is the truth! Paul recognized that everything outside of Christ is a lie, and everything in Christ is love, light, liberty, and life!

Everything in Christ is the truth! Our emotions may remind us of the past, but our emotions were never intended by God to govern our lives. Jesus Christ is Lord! He governs our lives, and nothing should ever come before him. We can be very emotional creatures, and as women, a lot of us base our emotional well-being on how the men in our lives respond to us. Instead, we should base our emotional well-being on how WE respond to GOD. It’s not that God doesn’t want us to be committed to our spouses, but He requires us to make Him the center of our universe. This is a space and place that cannot be shared with anyone or anything, because God is love and we can only truly love others because His love fills our hearts to overflowing.

1John 4:11-12(NLT) teaches us, “11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”  This is the goal, to love better through Christ. Don’t hold grudges and resentment and be angry for a lifetime; don’t allow yourself to go there. It’s so destructive to our entire being. Don’t make room for emotions and attitudes that don’t serve you well. Instead, be committed to let God’s love fill you to overflowing. Believe the promises of His Word and repeat them to yourself continually. Pray and ask God to give you a new heart and be confident in His healing and His desire to give you victory in your life.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Kick Pain to the Curb!”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

My Heart Rejoices in the Lord

God has placed the record of Hannah’s faith in the Old Testament Book of First Samuel. During the biblical time in which she and her husband lived, much of a woman’s worth was predicated on her ability to bear children. If she was barren, she would most likely face public ridicule, as well as the disappointment of her husband. Hannah had been childless for a long time, and she grew very distraught about this. Peninnah, her husband’s other wife, had children and made Hannah’s life miserable by taunting her about being barren. 1Samuel 1:7(NLT) tells us, “Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.”

Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, did not seek to divorce her because she couldn’t have children. 1Samuel 1:8(NLT) says that when he’d see her crying, he’d say, “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?” However heartfelt Elkanah’s sentiments were, they didn’t silence Hannah’s anguished cries about the inability to conceive.  

Barrenness in the Bible wasn’t viewed the way it is in modern society. The advancement of science and medicine has made it possible to recognize infertility as very often a treatable medical condition, but this was not the case thousands of years ago. Fertility is a gift from God, and in biblical times it was believed that pregnancies occurred when the Lord “remembers” the woman and then opens her womb. When this didn’t happen, most believed that either God was withholding the blessing of pregnancy or the woman was cursed. Under these circumstances, it is easy to understand Hannah’s grief and agony.

God doesn’t withhold blessings. Psalm 84:11(NLT) says, “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” This is the promise of God on which you and I must build our faith. Our Heavenly Father isn’t angry with us, and He doesn’t want to see us unhappy. God is good all the time and He wants us to place our trust in His goodness and rely upon it continually.

After the sacrificial meal, 1Samuel 1:9 tells us that Hannah got up one morning and went to pray. In deep anguish over her condition, she cried out to God and 1Samuel 1:11(NLT) says she made this vow, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” This vow was Hannah’s promise to God to not only commit herself to Him, but to make sure her son would be committed to Him as well. In other words, Hannah promised to return God’s gift back to Him. This was a tremendous act of faith on her part. Hannah understood that whenever we give God our best, God will multiply it back to us, and this is the continuous cycle of giving and blessings that He has established towards His people.  

Just as Elkanah might not have understood the depth of Hannah’s desire for a child, some husbands today may not understand the pain and frustration that many wives are experiencing. These are not necessarily related to infertility but could be other emotional issues that sometimes weigh us down. The reality is that our husbands don’t always understand us, but we can be confident that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, understands us and everything we go through. Hebrew 4:15(NLT) teaches, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” Jesus Christ knows our pain, and he offers us a solution. We are to surrender our pain and all that we are to him.

Another human being should never be our everything. Therefore, we should not look to our spouses to fill up our empty spaces. Only the Lord Jesus can do this for us. Placing this expectation on another person is unfair, because it is beyond their capability. We were created to worship and have fellowship with our Creator. In marriage, both spouses are to join together with an understanding of their purpose to be unified in Christ, always putting God first, and always seeking Him first.

Hannah went to the Source of all blessings for the desire of her heart, and this must be our practice as well. After conceiving and having a son, she declared in 1Samuel 2:1(NLT), “My heart rejoices in the Lord!” Hannah knew from whence her deliverance came. It did not come from her husband; it came from trusting and believing God! This is the way all our problems and issues are resolved, by taking it to the Lord in prayer and believing in His promises with all that we are. He hears our cries, He knows our hearts, and He will bless and deliver us when we place our trust firmly in Him. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

 “My Heart Rejoices in the Lord”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Leaving the Past Behind

Ecclesiastes 7:9-12(NLT)
“9
Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. 10 Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise. 11 Wisdom is even better when you have money. Both are a benefit as you go through life. 12 Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life.”

Angela was mandated by the courts to enter an anger management program. She physically assaulted her husband in a domestic dispute, and the incident resulted in her being taken away in handcuffs by the authorities. She received a restraining order with no contact with her husband. At the time, she thought this was one of his sneakiest and most damaging manipulations. He would never entertain physical violence, although had he chosen, he might have easily overpowered her physically. A very intelligent man, Angela’s husband was masterful with mental and emotional manipulation. He held a grudge and wanted to put Angela in her place. When she slapped him because of his affair, he called the police.

It was one of the lowest points in Angela’s life. She knew better and was embarrassed and ashamed. She also thought that he should have been the one in anger management, but she discovered a lot about herself in these mandated classes. Self-discipline and patience are required for Godly living and learning to control outbursts of anger can go a long way towards our own personal healing and spiritual growth. Angela learned to let go of old negative patterns, and to stop looking back to the past and allowing it to define her present and future reality.

Many people look back at their lives and think about the good old days, before they faced adversity and before they made catastrophic mistakes. We don’t think about the reality that God covered us in a tremendous amount of grace, because even in the good old days, we had behaviors and attitudes that might have created the environment for the adversities and mistakes we later encountered.

We want to go back to those good old days, but the truth is that we can’t bring anything from our past into the present and future, and if we try, we’ll be stuck, and this isn’t what God wants. Ecclesiastes 7:10(NLT) tells us, “Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise.” With this wisdom, our Heavenly Father is warning us about our attitude towards His goodness and grace. When we put God first in all we do, and we seek Him first before any other person or thing, He will reward us. There isn’t anything better than living in Christ. With him, life gets better and better, from faith to greater faith. Our attitude of gratitude must indicate we understand this.

The reality of where He has brought us and what He has brought us through is greater than anything in our pasts. The events and situations of the past will never be again. This is a very challenging truth for humans to accept but accept it we must if fulfillment and joy in life are our goals. We must stop ourselves from focusing on the past, because it slows us down, and it can keep us from moving forward.

In the Book of Genesis, we learn about the record of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. He and his family moved to Sodom and Gomorrah, and this was a dastardly wicked place. So much so, that the Lord destroyed it, but God spared Lot, because this was Abraham’s request. An angel of the Lord had given Lot and his family firm instructions and told them that as they escaped, they were not to look back. Lot’s wife didn’t follow this instruction. Genesis 19:26(ESV) states, “But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”

Some say she met with such a tragic end because of her disobedience, but we can’t stop there. The directive from the angel was purposeful. Looking back is often a signal that we’re not prepared to embrace the newness ahead. Looking back demonstrates that our hearts are clinging to what has passed. It means we’re stuck, and sometimes tragically so, like a pillar of salt.

The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13(NLT), “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” This is the mentality and attitude we must have as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. God doesn’t want the problems, regrets, and situations of the past to keep us stuck in things like anger, shame, and resentment. When we are stuck and haven’t healed to the point where the past no longer impedes us, we might bring bad habits and behaviors of the past into the new life that Christ has made available to us. This is what Angela did.

She was emotionally and mentally exhausted. She was spiritually malnourished, and her faith in God was not where it is today. Angela was shocked at her actions, but when there’s deep and unresolved anger, the only solution is to allow the love of God in those deep places. There was no excuse for Angela’s use of physical violence. She knows now that her husband’s infidelity and disregard triggered a level of anger that she had seen playout in her own parent’s marriage. She needed to break this cycle through the love of God in Christ.

We might fantasize about what it would have been like to not have the pain and heartache we’ve experienced, but this doesn’t alter the reality of our past. We can’t change our pasts. They are gone forever. We can only change our right now so that our futures look brighter and clearer with the help of the love of Christ.

When we know better, we have the tools to do and live better. We need to know that it’s not only possible to leave the past behind, God requires it. He has given us a new life in Jesus Christ, and this means we have a new nature of love within. God will not force us to choose His love. He will not force us to leave rage, anger, resentment, and hurt in the past, and embrace the love of Christ which makes us stronger. But He wants us to know that He created us out of His love to live in His love. He created us to walk in the light and liberty of Christ. If we will humble ourselves before Him and trust in His love, He will help us to transform from the inside out. We’ll get to a place where the mistakes of the past will pale in comparison to the person we’ve become through His love. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

“Leaving the Past Behind” written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

When We Lose Our Balance

1Corinthians 4:20; For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. 21; Which do you choose?

“Ok God, you have my attention now, what in the world did I do wrong?”

A few years ago, I fell and broke my elbow. At that time, I had enough spiritual knowledge to recognize that my fall was not an ordinary oops but a severe wake-up call. Although falls are common, we have to always go back to God’s natural order. As God’s children, we’re covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. God doesn’t want us to be hurt in any way, for any reason. Life happens, but we are called by God to pay attention to the consequences of all missteps, mishaps, and mistakes, because we can learn from them.

Psalms 37:23-24 (NLT) tells us, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. 24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”  Both literally and figuratively, a fall symbolizes that balance has been lost. Something is out of alignment and it’s our responsibility as spiritually mature individuals to examine what has caused us to become out of balance and why.

Falling can sometimes be a signal that we’re getting close to going off the path of God’s righteousness in some way. It can also be a wake-up call to the reality that we are veering too far away from the purpose God has for our lives. We’re not paying attention to the things that matter most to Him, and we need to slow down, take a pause, and think about what we’re doing.

John 4:24(NLT) tells us, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Our Heavenly Father is a Spirit, and everything He has created is spiritual. Genesis 1:26 tells us that He has created us, human beings, in His own image. He has created this extraordinary universe, and He’s created this planet, earth, for our habitation. We are like Him! He created us in His own image so He can relate to us. We are human spirit and human soul housed in a human body. Everything about us was perfectly designed by our Heavenly Father to love Him, have a relationship with Him, and relate to others through Him.

Romans 8:29-30 informs us that God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, His one and only begotten Son. This passage also tells us that He called, justified, and qualified us to snuggly fit into the purpose for which we were called. Our lives are not random. They are ordered by God. Jeremiah 29:11 affirms that God has a good plan for our lives, a plan to give us a future and a hope. There’s no falling or hiccups in His plan for us. He’s a God of peace and everything God does is in order. So, when we fall in any way, it’s a spiritual occurrence of which we can derive spiritual information regarding where we are in the things of God.

Again, everything, and I do mean E V E R Y T H I N G, is spiritual. There will never be a way to extract ourselves from this truth. Those with a prideful mindset may have difficulty with it because they want to live according to the flesh, but that’s not the way children of God live. We walk by faith and not by sight. When we depend solely on our physical eyes and not on our spiritual eyes, we’re not actually seeing what’s in front of us. In this state, a person can fall several times before he or she recognizes they need to pay attention to our Almighty God.

A fall may show up in the form of a failed relationship, a lost job or losing your home. Loss can very often symbolize imbalance, and this isn’t God punishing us. He doesn’t want us to feel bad about ourselves or to be tripped up in life. He wants us to wake up and draw closer to Him so He can help us. The Apostle Paul said in 1Corinthians 13:11(NLT), “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” Immature or childlike behavior as an adult will always lead to situations that provide an opportunity to mature in the Lord.

Whenever or however we fall, we can rest assured that our ground can never be too shaky for God to make our crooked paths straight. He is always here for us if we would just humble ourselves and ask for His help. As adults, we will often try and take matters into our own hands. We get ahead of God and this is never a workable strategy. We must take heed to God’s signal, correct our courses, and begin to allow Him to lead, guide, and direct us. He knows where we should be, when we should be there, and He knows how to get us there.

Humility is where it’s at! Humility expresses our love for God, and it activates us in His purpose. It’s necessary to surrender to God through humility because this is what aligns our actions and behaviors with the move of God’s Spirit.

We were never meant to do this thing called life alone. Galatians 5:1 tells us that now that we have been freed from the bondage of slavery by Jesus Christ, we must never again allow anyone or anything to saddle us with bondage again. We can’t have a double standard where we yield to God in certain areas but not at all in others. He commands us Galatians 5:25 to live in His Spirit and to walk by His Spirit. Then, instead of falling because of the circumstances of life, we will fall more in love with God through the Lord Jesus Christ and allow His Word, plan, and purpose to always keep us standing stable and strong. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“When We Lose Our Balance”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Your Victory Status

Deuteronomy 28:12(NLT)
“12 The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do.  You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.  13; If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.”

The other night, I watched an interview of a woman that had much success in her life, but she’d also experienced many pitfalls as well. A successful entrepreneur with a thriving business, she was asked by the interviewer, “What keeps you humble?” She replied, “The shoe is going to drop one day. I know it is, so I work hard to prepare for the hard times, and I never let my head get too big.” I thought her response spoke to what it means to have a level head and a good  work ethic, but the reality is that the shoe dropped for all of humanity when Adam sinned against God. Adam fell and took all of us with him and Eve, but God had a plan. Through Christ, He laid the path for our victory, and all we need to do is walk in it.

In Luke 14, a large crowd was following Jesus Christ. They had no doubt seen and heard of the miracles he performed, how he healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, and caused the deaf to hear. They wanted to be where the action was. Some wanted to be entertained and others were only interested in what they could get from him. But there were a few who genuinely wanted to be a part of God’s Kingdom and to learn more about it. Our Master Jesus is the Great Discerner and Separator. Luke 3:17(NLT) says of him, He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” Our Redeemer separates what is real from what is fake. That is what he did with this crowd, and this is what he will do when he returns to the earth.

In Luke 14:26-29(NLT), Jesus Christ turned around and said to the large crowd, “26 If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. 28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost.” Our Lord and Savior is fully transparent. He doesn’t keep anything hidden from us. He wants us to know that there’s a cost to discipleship. There’s a cost to following him.

When we give our lives to Christ, we make him LORD! He is the head of everything in our existences, from the smallest to the greatest detail. Our lives belong to him totally and completely. 1John 4:4(NLT) declares, “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.” We belong to God! And Jesus Christ is Lord over our emotions, over our thoughts, over our conversations, our relationships, our going in and our going out. He is Lord over us, and we must honor him as the head. This is what it means to give our lives to Christ. In Luke 14:26-29, he makes it fully transparent that this is required, and if we’re not up for it, he tells us to consider carefully whether we should begin this journey.

In Luke 14:28, he tells us to count the cost. This means we should think about the price or cost of following Christ before we begin the journey. As born-again believers, our lives may be targeted for adversity and tribulation. This Christian walk is not always easy, and Jesus Christ asks us to pick up this cross and follow him. We do it because we made the choice to follow righteousness and turn our backs on darkness. God rewards this choice in a big way. 1Corinthians 2:9(NLT) declares, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

When we are going through the battles of life, it can get so bad sometimes that you can’t find the Words that God has imprinted on your heart. You want to declare that you are more than a conqueror in every situation, but your tribulations seem insurmountable.  This is the time when you must trust God and do everything in your power to stand on His Word. It’s not about how we feel. It’s not about how a situation looks. It’s about believing that God does not lie, and that His Word is true! He has all power in His hands, He is faithful to deliver us, and He will set our feet on higher ground. This is what we must trust.

Never doubt your victory status. It was purchased with an exceedingly high price. God wants us to obey His Word because this is how we walk in the victory of Jesus Christ. Life will throw many things at us, because the devil is busy, but we must remember what God tells us in 1John 4:4, “the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”  Our Heavenly Father has put us in this race. It’s a race that started when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and God has made sure we are all equipped to win it. He tells us in 1John 5:4(NLT), “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” We are destined for victory in Jesus Christ, and we are not defeated. We must keep the faith, continue to read and study God’s Word, and be willing to carry our crosses no matter what comes our way. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Your Victory Status”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

You’re Never on Your Own

Matthew 11:28-30(NLT)

“28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

A good friend and I were having a conversation the other day, and she told me how tired she had been lately. In her words, “Life seems to be getting tougher, and I’m tired of having to juggle everything by myself.”  She’s 58 years old, and even though she’s always wanted to be married, it has never happened. Feelings of depression and loneliness creep up every time she thinks about all the heartaches and obstacles she’s had to face on her own. Even though my friend is over fifty, the feelings she’s having are not unique to a certain age group. The loneliness of being single far longer than you’d like doesn’t discriminate.

My conversation with my friend made me remember when I felt much the same way she does. I’d go to bed at night feeling depleted and sad, thinking that I’d feel better in the morning. The funny thing is, I’d awaken the next morning just as tired as I was the day before. It dawned on me that I needed more than a good night’s sleep. Like all of us, I needed, and will always need, the deep spiritual rest that only the Lord Jesus Christ can give.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus Christ extends an invitation to all of us that are feeling exhausted and burdened down by life. He knows that the world can wear a person down, and he tells us to bring our tired and worn-down selves to him. He will give us rest. The rest that he gives is supernatural. We can’t use human reasoning to explain it because it exceeds our understanding. His rest is administered to the deepest part of us, and there, it restores and replenishes our souls. It’s a rest that belongs to us because our Master Jesus paid for it with his life when he died on the cross for our sins.  

You and I must take this rest by faith. Taking it by faith is the only way. Jesus Christ laid this out for us in Matthew 11:28-29. He said, “I GIVE, YOU TAKE!” That’s the order! He gives, and then you and I have the great privilege and honor to respond to what he has done. We are to take what he offers. Well, what are we taking? In this passage, he also answers this question for us as well. We are taking his yoke—his guidance, direction, truth, example, power, and love. He tells us to learn about him, because in John 14:6, he teaches us that he is the way, the truth, and the life.

His truth is food for our souls, and after we feast on him, our souls will be at rest. In John 6:35(NLT), he said “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus Christ is life to us! Again, learning about him feeds us in a way that nothing else can. This is the part where so many of us go south and miss the greatest blessing of our lives. For some reason, we will not place ourselves in a posture of studying and reading to learn more about God and His Word. We will not avail ourselves to Christ and will not connect the reality of our soul’s starvation to our refusal to know more about Jesus Christ than we know right now.

Our Master and Savior is humble. He left the throne of God to come to earth to save us. Philippians 2:6-8(NLT) declares, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Jesus Christ was not forced to die for our sins, he chose to die a humiliating, agonizing death on the cross in order to redeem us from the slavery of sin and death.

We’re never on our own. God is always with us and knowing His great love through Jesus Christ will transform us! He freely offers us this love, and the greatest thing we can do for ourselves is to take it. Spending year and year feeling sad and depleted is not God’s desire for any of His children. He wants us to be happy and blessed every moment of every day, but the joy that He gives is no ordinary joy. The world cannot give it, and the world cannot take it away. It is a joy that isn’t dependent on what we have or don’t have. It isn’t dependent on a relationship with anyone else other than our Master Jesus.

The yoke of Christ will demand that every drop of our tendency to look to someone else for our joy and happiness is completely abandoned. Jesus Christ is LORD! There can be no other who occupies that place in our hearts but him. We don’t get to tell the Lord that our heart belongs only to him, because none of us know our hearts that well, but God knows them. He tells us in Jeremiah 17:10(NLT), “But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Every good relationship that any of us will ever have is birthed from our love, devotion, and loyalty to God through Jesus Christ. When this spiritual lesson is firmly in our minds and hearts, we will enjoy God’s rest and all the blessings that come with it. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“You’re Never on Your Own”, written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Be Aware of the Consequences

Galatians 6:7(NLT)
“Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God.  You will always harvest what you plant.”

“I know actions have consequences, but I didn’t know it would be like this.”

It’s not an easy pill to swallow when we finally understand how the circumstances and conditions of our lives fit into the Law of Cause and Effect. In simple terms, this law means that for every action there is a re-action or response. This is the way our Heavenly Father designed the universe to operate. Whatever we put out there is going to boomerang back to us. In other words, whether it is good or bad, there’s a consequence for every action. We’re going to reap what we sow.  

Jesus Christ teaches us in Matthew 12:35(NLT), “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.” Our Master Jesus defines a good person as one who has a heart that wants to please God and to bless others. When this is our motivation, we will see positive consequences and blessings reflected in our lives. But there’s a flip side to this, and that’s the side we should try our very best to always avoid.

When there’s ugliness in our hearts like bitterness, anger, arrogance, jealousy, selfishness, and resentment, it’s going to come out of us and be expressed through our words and actions. The boomerang of our negative actions and words will often surprise us, because the consequences are far worse than our initial poor behavior. God doesn’t want these remnants of darkness in our hearts because they injure our relationship with Him and keep us from being who He wants us to be. He tells us in Ephesians 4:22 to “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.” He has commanded us to rid ourselves of those thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and words that do not represent His Kingdom. We are children of His light, and we have the privilege and responsibility to represent His goodness in the earth.

2Timothy 1:7(ESV) states, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” God has empowered us through the Spirit of Christ to have self-control. This means that we don’t let people and situations determine who we are going to be and how we are going to act. We should know that our identity is in Christ, and we can and should walk in his love continually. If we don’t do this, we are setting ourselves up for consequences that we will not like.

The truth is that no one escapes the consequences of their actions. We sometimes think this, but it isn’t true. God said in Revelation 2:23(NLT), “I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.” God is telling us this because He wants us to understand His laws and how they work. He is a God of order, not confusion. Everything He does has order, and as His children, He wants us to follow His Word because He blesses His Word.

He has given us free-will to live our lives the way we choose. His love doesn’t shove or push. He doesn’t force us to love Him but hopes that we will. When we turn away from God’s love through our actions, our lives begin to deteriorate, and unless we recognize this, our lives will continue to spiral downward. We can change this, and we should.    

You might ask, “Why does God want people to suffer?” John 3:16(NLT) tells us, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Our Heavenly Father has shown us how much He loves us by giving His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this when we were at our worst. We were lost and without hope, but God rescued us through Jesus Christ and redeemed us from the curse of sin and death. Now, we can walk in the victory of Christ every moment of our lives, but this is a choice we all must make.

Consequences can be devastating, but God doesn’t cause pain and suffering. However, He will allow them whenever and wherever there is disobedience and sin. He’s equipped and empowered us in Christ to live in love. This means we have the privilege and honor to line up all that we do, think, and say with the reality of who God has made us through Christ. The time is out for excuses. Now is the time to come to God with humbled hearts and made up minds to serve and honor Him. He will forgive our sins and transform our lives to such a degree that we will produce good things from the treasury of a good heart. When we put on our new nature in Christ the way God commands, we will love others through Him, and our lives will overflow with His goodness.■

English Standard Version (ESV), The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Be Aware of the Consequences” written by Kyada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

You Are Not Alone

1Peter 5:9(NLT)
“Stand firm against him and be strong in your faith.  Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”

Whenever I’m going through a tough season in my life, I always remember my mother’s words. She’d tell us, “Life will beat you down if you let it.” It must have been over twenty-five years ago that she first said this, but she spoke it with such conviction that I have never forgotten it. Hitting it home even more is the reality that over the years I’ve come to know a little bit about life’s challenges; I’ve had more than a few myself. Admittedly, my mother had been through a lot, including domestic violence. She’s survived things that most couldn’t imagine pulling through, but her faith remained strong in the Lord. This has been such a profound example for me, because through my own struggles, more than any other thing, faith in the goodness of God has pulled me through as well.

1Peter 5:9 makes it clear that we have a spiritual adversary, the devil, but rest assured, God has not left us defenseless. Our Heavenly Father tells us in Ephesians 6:11(NLT) to put on all of His armor “so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” He goes on to tell us that we are not fighting against a flesh and blood enemy. This is the mistake in our thinking that many of us make. People can be mean, vindictive, manipulative, and very unkind. Many of us encounter folks like this every day. When they behave badly towards us, our first inclination is to want to give them exactly what they have given us, but this isn’t the right strategy.

God makes it 100% crystal clear that our issue isn’t with the individual, but the demonic influence that works through them. These individuals haven’t understood the truth about Jesus Christ, and because of this, they can be used by the devil to come against us. If we neglect the truth of what God is telling us in Ephesians 6:11, we will continue to be blinded and attacked by satan and his demonic cohorts. We must open our eyes and become aware of our real enemy, because it isn’t a person, it’s the devil.

In Ephesians 6:13, Heavenly Father instructs us that every piece of His armor is necessary to resist the enemy. First, God tells us to put on the body armor of His righteousness. You and I don’t have any righteousness to call our own. We receive God’s righteousness when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, and we are to wear it like a second skin. We must also hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil, and we must put on the shoes of God’s peace. We’re to wear the salvation that Jesus Christ offers us as a helmet, because following the example of Christ protects our minds, hearts, and souls. When we think, speak, and act like Christ, we leave no room for the enemy to steal the authority that Christ has given us. Living through the example of Jesus Christ means that we can stand firm with soundness of mind and in the strength of God’s love and power.

Lastly, we’re to take the Holy Spirit’s sword, which is the truth of God’s Word. A sword is a mighty weapon. Many of us have been outsmarted by the devil because we haven’t adequately protected our minds and hearts with God’s Word. At times we made the mistake of behaving as though our enemies were flesh and blood. We tried using physical or human-made weapons on a spiritual enemy, and this will always be futile. 2Corinthians 10:4(NLT) declares, “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” In other words, we must recognize that God has equipped us with every spiritual weapon we need to stand strong. When we put on the mighty weapons that God has given us, we will not be tricked by wrong teachings, false arguments, philosophies or any other plot of the devil. Instead, our faith will remain strong in the Lord as we dedicate ourselves to living for Him.

There’s no question that life is challenging. We might get knocked down, but God wants us to know that we don’t have to stay down. That’s not His Will. He wants us to be strong, and to stand tall, because Psalm 3:3 declares that He is the Lifter of our heads. He loves us and only wants what is best for our lives. Romans 3:23-24 says that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard. We are going to make mistakes, and some will cause us great pain, but God is always with us and will never leave or forsake us. He has proven through Christ that His grace, mercy, and love have no limit, and we can be assured that He will always come to our aid.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“You are Not Alone”, written by Kyada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Have Hope in God

Ecclesiastes 7: 9-12(NLT)
“Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. 10 Don’t long for the good old days. This is not wise. 11 Wisdom is even better when you have money. Both are a benefit as you go through life. 12 Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life.”

“Where did I go wrong in my life?”

I was talking to Louisa the other day. She’s a middle-aged Christian woman that I’ve known a while, and she expressed her desire to have a do-over with her life. Louisa has lots of regrets. She wished that she had never moved away from her hometown in the South and that she would have married her high school sweetheart. “At least with him, I knew what to expect.” she remarked. What did she get instead? A man that cheated on her most of their 25 years of marriage. She met Larry two years after she moved to Ohio. They dated for a couple of years, got married and had three children. She found out about his affairs after they had their second child, but because her oldest child had medical issues, she remained in the marriage. Raising two boys alone would’ve been more than she could handle, she thought, and after her daughter was born, she settled into what she refers to as a life of disappointment.

Most of us wake up every morning, go to work, raise our children, and do what is necessary to live a peaceable life. It isn’t a fairy tale, because life isn’t meant to be. It’s meant to be a walk of faith with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Most of us are fully aware of this. Things in life don’t always go the way we plan. Many of us are caught off guard by this and catch ourselves wishing that we could have a do-over, especially when it comes to some of our mishaps and mistakes. But life just keeps rolling, and we must have faith in God to keep up.

When our reality is far from what we’ve dreamed, we think we’ve missed something or left something behind that would have made us better and therefore made our lives better. We figure it’s almost impossible to recoup now that we have so many responsibilities. Others are depending on us to hold things together, and it isn’t always easy to be strong. Our hopes are injured because it feels that any chance of living the dream is greatly diminished. We’re left wondering how we ventured so far off track.

Romans 8:29-30(NKJV) declares, “29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Verse 29 tells us that God knew us even before we were in our mother’s wombs. He has given us a destiny, and this destiny is shaped and modeled in the example that Jesus Christ left for us. We are children of God, and God is the One who predestines our lives. It’s not our plan, it’s His plan! Our great pleasure, privilege, and responsibility is to pray, to seek what He has in store for us, and to follow His plan and purpose with all our hearts.

Our plans and dreams are limited to only what we can see and imagine. We don’t consider all the pitfalls and missteps because we couldn’t possibly know them all. We think about what is good for us, but don’t always know what is good for everyone, or how our dreams and desires might impact the lives of others. Our God is interested in what is good for everyone, and the benefit of all is masterfully woven into His plans. Our Heavenly Father knows everything. Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 6:8 that God knows we need before we ask Him. There isn’t any detail about our lives or the lives of others that God does not know. Acts 17:27 tells us that He alone set the boundaries of our births, and He left nothing to chance.

Galatians 3:13(NLT) declares, But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”” The past is gone forever and will never come again. It cannot be relived, and none of us can have do-overs, but we must never, ever forget the reality that our Heavenly Father is a Redeeming God. He redeemed us from the curse of sin, sickness, and death. Adam disobeyed God and sold us all into the slavery of sin, sickness, and death, but God always had a plan for our redemption through Christ. Romans 5:12 affirms that Adam sinned, and sin spread because we all sinned too, but through his sacrificial offering for our sin, Jesus Christ redeemed and saved us from this curse. Now, we are free and have received the gift of eternal life because of what God accomplished through the death and resurrection of our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

God redeems! He delivers and restores! When we try to make our plans work, they don’t always come out the way we envision, and this is what causes disappointment, but God’s plan always works to His glory and to our benefit and glory as well. In Proverbs 3:5-6, He instructs us not to lean on our own understanding. He tells us to place all our trust in Him, and all means “ALL”. He directs our paths, and on this we can depend.In Jeremiah 29:11(NLT), He told His people living in Old Testament times, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Romans 8:28(NLT) affirms, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” We make mistakes, but they teach us that God is the One that is in control! We don’t have any power to call our own. All power belongs to Him! Although there are disappointments in life, He can redeem them to such a degree that the sting of disappointment no longer affects us. Through Jesus Christ, God has given us a sure hope, and Romans 5:5 declares that this hope in Christ does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through His Holy Spirit!  So, let’s not waste time on wouldas-couldas-shouldas. Let’s be secure in the knowledge that we can bloom wherever we are planted as long as we trust God and depend on Him to lead us on the path He’s set for our lives.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“Have Hope in God”, written by Kyada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!