Obsessed with the Outer Reality

Sometimes, there are people that come across our paths at the oddest times, and they eventually leave as quickly as they came. I met such a person some years ago. For anonymity’s sake, we’ll call her Alexa. She’s nice enough, pleasant to talk to, and very savvy, but I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as uncomfortable around anyone as I was her. To say she was always impeccably dressed is truly an understatement. Hair beautifully coifed, makeup tight, with a perfect manicure to boot, I was super impressed and a little intimidated to be honest. Her kids were as immaculately kept as she appeared to be. Everything was designer this or that, and the Italian and French names rolled effortlessly from her lips.

As I got to know Alexa a little better, her obsession with status was hard to miss. The car, the home, private schools for the kids, all of it had to be top notch. Her need to keep up with it all was unlike anything I had ever witnessed. It would be wonderful to say that she was as adamant about her relationship with the Lord and with the condition of her soul as she was about shoes with red bottoms, but I personally saw no evidence of this. What I did see, however, was how a life can be totally devastated when an accountability to spiritual principles is ignored, neglected, or refused.

There is a very base level of consciousness that most human beings never seek to elevate. It may sound like a judgment, but truth is not bound, hindered, or bothered by any individual’s judgment. Truth stands on its own and proves itself. When we’re obsessed with the outer reality to the point that we’re neglecting the inner reality, every aspect of our existences will begin to mirror this neglect.

In 1Thessalonians 5:23(NLT), God commands, Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.” We are made in the image of God. The Godhead is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In like manner, He created humans to be triune as well. He is our Father, we are His children, and it is therefore undeniably logical and perfectly intelligent that our makeup should mirror His. He’s a God of order, and everything He does has order and purpose. We are an on-purpose people serving and honoring an on-purpose God.

Three parts make up the sum of our being, and without all three parts, we would not be human beings, we’d be something else. We have a human spirit, a human soul, and a human body. All three parts are to be in harmony, and to be unified to such a degree that all are functioning and operating in the very same way that Christ did. A Christ-level of being is the ultimate and the highest state than any living creature could ever hope to attain. To help us achieve this highest state of living and being, God has given us a part of Himself. He’s given us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and sealed our human spirit with His Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14 The Message(MSG) affirms, “ It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This down payment from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.”

Our human spirit was recreated by Jesus Christ through the born-again experience and is perfect in every way. It is the highest part of us, and the soul and body must obey it in order to be in harmony with the Lord. A base level consciousness refuses to be obedient to the ways of Jesus Christ, and because of this refusal, the souls of many people are not fed the diet of God’s Word they desperately need. Our recreated human spirit contains our new nature, and this new nature wants to do what is right, but the soul is a very different story. The soul has the old nature, one that craves whatever will make the body feel pleasure. It is a flesh driven existence, one that keeps a person craving the very thing that defeats them.

The old nature rebels against the ways of Christ, and it causes the kind of self-sabotage that not only destroys our lives, but it can take others down with it. I saw the beginning of this with Alexa. Her need to control, her temper tantrums when she didn’t get her way, and the nastiness of her arrogance were corrosive. When her life began to crumble, the shame of it was too much. The marriage, the home, the car…all of it gone. As quickly as her life had crossed my path, it faded from my view, as it did for many others.

To give ourselves the greatest chance for fulfillment and peace during our sojourn on earth, we’ve got to disconnect from the old nature and feed our souls the diet it desperately craves, which is life in the Spirit. Everything in our entire being is aching for us to let the Spirit be at work within. Ephesians 3:20(NLT) says, 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,” God’s power works in us through His Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit is His seed, and He has placed His seed within our human spirits to help us lead a successful life as followers of Jesus Christ. Letting the Spirit take the lead over our lives through Christ is the very best decision we can make, and it will benefit the whole of our existence. The question that you and I must ask ourselves is whether we’re allowing the Holy Spirit to be at work. If we aren’t, now is a terrific time to start.■

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 quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

“Obsessed with the Outer Reality”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Those Who Refresh Others Will be Refreshed

Proverbs 11:25(NLT)
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

Years ago, I suffered from some very low points. These were some of the darkest moments of my life.  I felt weighted down by all my wrong decisions and bad choices. Self-condemnation was my middle name and many of my nights were sleepless. I always wished that the progression of time would speed up so I could bypass nighttime hours. I dreaded the thought of going to bed because I’d just lay there, with regretful thoughts of my past, and they made me feel so bad.

Reflecting on those times now, I’m very thankful for my family. I tried to focus on them as much as possible, because it made me feel better about things. With concern, I’ve wondered about people that feel worse than I did at that time in my life. I pray they also have family or friends to bring comfort that will help them feel better. But I also pray that they will heed the invitation of Jesus Christ. He invites them to bring their burdens to him. He offers to give us rest for our souls in a way that only he can.

Jesus Christ said in John 15:8(NLT), “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” To produce fruit is to share the Good News of the Gospel with someone that doesn’t yet know the person of Jesus Christ. When we tell people about Jesus Christ and the salvation that he offers because of what he accomplished for us on the cross, we secure the opening that allows the love of God to be introduced into the person’s life. We can’t cause a person to be saved; that’s not our call. God tells us in Ephesians 1:4 that He chose us to be in Christ even before the foundation of the World. He chose us first, not the other way around. So, when we share the Good News about Jesus Christ, we are planting a seed. God is the One that does the watering. He causes the sun to shine upon those who need His light. As His children, He commands us to be ambassadors of Christ. He expects that we will open our mouths when He tells us too, and that we will speak a life changing Word into the lives of those that He has chosen.

During the times that I lacked confidence; I didn’t believe I had anything to give towards the ministry of Jesus Christ. I felt too bad about myself and about everything around me, but God showed me through His Word that I don’t belong to myself, I belong to Him; we all do. We were created for His purpose, not our own. He knows the path we should be on so that we can have a wonderful relationship with Him through Christ, and so that we can have a life that isn’t filled with darkness but filled with the light of Christ. We need to allow God to lead and guide us, and we need to be willing to patiently and humbly follow Him.

God doesn’t see us the way we see ourselves. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s masterpiece. He made us new creations in Christ Jesus, and He did this so that you and I could do all the good things that He planned for us. I prayed fervently that God would hear my cries and let His love come into my darkest places. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. I placed my hand in His hand and surrendered myself to be led by Him. He did not disappoint, for it is impossible for God to fail.

I asked the Father to show me opportunities that would help me feel better about my life and the gift I knew He had given me. Little did I know that He would answer this prayer by leading me to be a blessing to someone. The company where I work had just hired someone new. She is a bright young woman and is full of energy, but of course she was nervous about beginning a new position. Well, her new boss was very demanding, and had given her a task that she considered to be completely outside her level of skill. On that day, I was in our break room heating a cup of tea, and we struck up a conversation. She began to share how happy she was to have landed a good job but wasn’t sure how to handle the new pressures of her position. I offered her a few tips, and said, “Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Do your very best, pray that it’s good enough, and allow God to do the rest.”

I didn’t know this woman’s background or whether she knew the Lord, but I truly felt in my soul that I had been in the right place at the right time, and that I had made a difference for her that day. I didn’t have to leap a tall building, or even stand before lots of people and teach the bible, I just had to use what God has given me very plainly and in my day to day life.

After bumping into each other a few days later, she said to me, “You don’t know how much your kindness has meant to me.” She had been refreshed because I encouraged her in the Lord, and I had been refreshed in an amazing way myself. I thought, “What if I had chosen to let self-doubt rule the day; I might not have spoken a word to this young woman, but I’m so glad that God allowed me to be a blessing to her.” Things that we consider to be so small and insignificant can make all the difference in someone’s life. We have to remember who we are, whose we are, and what we mean to God. He has called us to be lights in this dark world, and He had given us everything we need to do it. All we need to do is listen to His voice, and open our mouths to speak about the goodness of God and the salvation our Lord Jesus Christ offers.■

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.

“Those Who Refresh Others Will be Refreshed”, written by KRenee, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Taking Matters into Your Own Hands Isn’t A Good Idea

Learning to love through the Lord Jesus Christ is a spiritual lesson in wisdom, power, humility, and forgiveness. It’s all wrapped together in the most beautiful package, and we’re entrusted with it. Wisdom is the first place to start. Proverbs 4:7(KJV) tells us, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” When something is a principal thing, it’s first in line in the order of importance. This gives us a clue about how we should value and view wisdom. God tells us to be sure we don’t skimp on it. As a matter of truth, He tells us it’s a necessary tool in our toolboxes, and if we don’t use it, we’ll be in big trouble. Some of us have learned this the hard way, especially when it comes to relationships.  

The Book of Genesis in the Old Testament takes us to school on creation and the very beginning. Our Heavenly Father is meticulously masterful, and thoughtful beyond anything we can fathom. Before He created Adam, the first man, He took six days to make a place for Adam’s habitation. Woven within this paradise called earth were the duties and work that would keep Adam occupied and instill within him the administrative and management skills necessary to reign. When God created the first human, He placed him in this paradise where all he would ever need was already provided. God wanted to make sure that you and I were tuned-in to the pattern He established when He created human beings. 2Corinthians 3:5 declares that “Our sufficiency is of God.” He’s our Source, and from the very beginning He established the reality that humans must rely upon His provision. This is a pattern that will never cease.

Heavenly Father took a rib from Adam and made Eve, Adam’s wife. This was the first couple, and this established another pattern and precedent for humanity. Genesis 2:18(NLT) makes it quite clear. It tells us, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone;” In today’s world, we’ve gotten so turned around that we label what God says is good as being bad, and what He says is bad, we label it good. What God says goes. He created us and He knows the best way for us to operate according to His love.

The Lord established the relationship between a man and a woman from the very beginning of their creation. This demonstrates for us that this significant relationship is fulfilling and meaningful to our existences, but most importantly, it is purposeful to God’s plan and agenda for creation, and for our individual lives. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t deal in ambiguity. He’s extremely precise, and everything He does has a purpose and reason. It is therefore perfectly aligned that we should seek Him for His wisdom, because it will allow us to walk the path He has purposed with confidence and specificity.

Isaiah 14:27(NLT) says, “The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken— who can change his plans? When his hand is raised, who can stop him?” Anything outside of God’s purpose will not prevail. It won’t be good for us, and it will not yield success. This isn’t negative or punitive. It’s wisdom! If we begin our pursuit of a significant relationship with the wisdom of God’s purpose firmly in our grasp, we can be continually guided and directed by God’s Spirit to the right person for us. It’s a big mistake to assume we don’t require His divine leadership in this very important part of our lives.

Romans 8:32(NLT) tells us, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son. He is God’s most precious treasure, and God gave him to the world to save us. God did this, so it is without question that He will not withhold any other good thing from us. He is more concern with protecting and preserving our lives than we are. He knows that the wrong person can cause you dreadful harm and the right person can cause you tremendous good.

Jeremiah 29:11 declares that God has a plan for our individual lives, and it is a good one. Understand that God will allow us to take matters into our own hands and make choices without His input, but this is never a good idea. It’s such a costly mistake, and it can be avoided. Life is not a random chain of unfortunate coincidences. It is the journey that God has ordained for His purpose and for our spiritual benefit. Pray before you leap into relationships. Walk in the Spirit so that you are in tune with God’s wisdom. Get His approval before you make emotional investments in folks that are not aligned with where He wants to take you. God has left no detail to chance, and we need to invite His leadership and guidance into our decision making, especially when it comes to the relationships we want to last. ■

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.

“Taking Matters into Your Own Hands Isn’t A Good Idea”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

He Wants to Fit You in His Back Pocket

Shana said that she sometimes feels there’s a sign on her back that says, “I’m an easy target.” She no longer trusts her ability to chose someone that is right for her life because all her relationships in the past have been abusive. Emotionally exhausted and still in shock over her last boyfriend’s attack, she desperately wants to understand why this keeps happening to her. She’s a very attractive, savvy, and deeply compassionate person. She would never hurt a fly. Her friends and family adore her, and they are always on red alert whenever she dates someone new. Her mother is very concerned and even suggested, “Marriage isn’t for everyone. Maybe you should try being alone for a while.”   

The truth is that Shana loves being in love. Getting married and having a family of her own is her dream, and deep down, she believes it will come true. The thing that has troubled Shana greatly is the men she meets are completely different in the beginning than who they appear to be at the end. The difference is night and day. It’s as if they meet her and after a while, turn into someone she doesn’t recognize. If this had happened only once, she may not have questioned it, but it’s happened with all her adult relationships.

2Timothy 1:7(NLT) tells us, For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.Taking it one step closer, Romans 11:29 gives us everything we need to be anchored in this truth and tells us that God’s gifts and His call cannot be withdrawn. Heavenly Father has given us the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. He calls on us to stand upon His gifts, because they are good gifts. They are given to us to aid our lives, increase our faith, and most importantly, to help build our relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. The spiritual goodies that God did not give us are those that should be rejected. If it doesn’t come from Him, it comes from darkness, and therefore, we should mark it “Return to Sender.”

There is nothing random about our lives. Everything about us is created with a purpose specific to God’s Divine Will and Plan. He doesn’t make mistakes. Everything He does is perfect, and there is a reason for everything He does. Romans 8:28(NKJV) tells us, “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.” To our great disservice, most people underestimate their purpose in God’s plan. They think it’s an arbitrary thing and it doesn’t matter whether they pursue it or not. Because of this cavalier attitude, they also underestimate the unrelenting and evil attacks against them. They are blinded to them—never see them coming.

God’s call is everything. It is life itself! Fulfilling the thing for which we were born literally transforms every detail of our existences. We need to wake up to the reality that when we walk in our purpose, God will cause every detail of our lives to come together, cooperate, and work out for our good. Just the opposite will happen when His purpose is far from our view. And make no mistake, when God’s purpose is far from our view, the devil will try his best to keep it that way. Destiny snatching is the name of the devil’s game, and when we find ourselves stuck in the way that Shana is, the evil minions of darkness are whispering poison in the ears of those who can be used to harm us most.

Blocking your shine, trying to snuff out your light, attempting to squash the magnificence of your call is the abuser’s aim. On every hand he wants to minimize all that you are, so that he can fit you in his back pocket, where you are hidden, silenced, and can only move as he permits. 2Corinithians 4:4(NLT) tells us, Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” The light of Christ is the truth, and when we can’t see the truth, we live beneath our privilege.

To keep us blind, to minimize our Christ authority and power, and to silence us so that we will not capture the blessings and power linked to our destiny is the objective the devil achieves through an abuser. When we’re blinded from the truth, we don’t recognize abusers. Our spiritual senses are dull, and we can’t smell the demonic activity of darkness when it’s in our midst. The solution is not to resort to fear, because God didn’t give us a spirit of fear; it doesn’t come from Him. The solution is to turn to Jesus Christ!

Don’t let anyone hide your light. Don’t let them put you in their back pocket and cancel your destiny. We must be as diligent to protect the treasure we carry in the inner sanctum of our beings as the enemy is to destroy it. 2Thessalonians 3:3(NLT) tells us, “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” God is faithful, but we have an obligation to trust Him. Our faith is not just lip service. We must be committed to walk with the Lord every moment of each day. When this is our heart, and we’re growing in His Word, we will grow in spiritual maturity and authority in Christ, and nothing in the earth is more powerful than that. ■

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

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.

“He Wants to Fit You in His Back Pocket”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

A Slight Change in Our Everyday ‘Get Down’

I had the opportunity to watch a photo shoot recently, and I was struck by how many photos were taken and how frequently they were shot. There seemed to be hardly any movement at all by those being photographed, but the photographer repeatedly took what appeared to me to be the exact same photo. Sometimes he’d tell them to move ever so slightly to the left or right, or to tilt their heads a little, up or down. The thing that surprised me most when I got to see the actual shots was that even though the folks in the frame hardly moved, none of the photographs of them looked the same. All my years on this Christian journey proved that what I witnessed on this photo shoot is a metaphor for life. Sometimes it’s just a slight movement in our perception, thoughts, and behaviors that will make a profound difference in our lives.

Truth will forever be the foundation of life. It is required for a life to be lived well. Our lives may not start out on solid footing, but as we expand our understanding of the truth, our lives will increase in meaningfulness and fulfillment. This is exactly what Jesus Christ was pointing to when he said in John 10:10(NKJV), “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  Jesus Christ is the truth, and the truth is life! Christ is the living Word of God. He tells us in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth, and the life. So, we can know resolutely that in order for our lives to truly expand with God’s goodness and grace, it must be done through a knowledge of Christ.

Jesus Christ doesn’t keep the fullness of his life a secret. He shared it with us all freely, because that is what truth does. There’s nothing clandestine, sinister, or manipulative about the truth. It’s out there in the open for all to see. It’s transparent! So, our powerful Lord and Savior shared his whole ‘get down’ with us, his baby brothers and sisters. By his flawless example of love, he is helping us to grow up so we can be the men and women God created us to be. Romans 8:29(NLT) tells us, For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

When it comes to the quality of our lives, many of us either ignore, neglect, or refuse to acknowledge that we’re not the ones holding the camera. We don’t own it and we can’t position it to photograph only the prettiest picture. The lens belongs to Christ and he sees it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly. He doesn’t punish us because we didn’t make the right moves. He corrects us, and that is exactly what we would expect an expert to do!

God has already given us everything we need to get the positioning just right. We’re exactly where we need to be to walk in the destiny He’s set for our lives. Ephesians 2:10(NLT) affirms, For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God planned for us to get some things done in the earth while we’re here. The DNA for the things He planned come standard with our packaging. We’re pre-programmed for them and this doesn’t require us to do a whole lot of finagling and messing around with things. Often, it’s just a slight movement in our everyday ‘get down’ that will open our eyes to new opportunities.

The smallest thing can lead to a profound change in our lives, but it will require humility towards God to receive the revelation that will help us make it. Another way of seeing things, a different attitude towards a person or circumstance, and most importantly, a greater understanding of God’s love, can open the door to being in the right place at the right time for purpose and destiny. We can’t assume that our lens is the only perspective. Only one outcome can be achieved from our own vantage points. We need a heavenly view, one from which a beautiful portrait can be revealed. We need to see the masterpiece that God sees when He looks at us. This should be our constant prayer. Let’s pray that Heavenly Father floods our understanding with revelation regarding our precious Lord and Savior. Let’s be humble enough to hear what Heavenly Father has to say to us. Then we can make those slight changes, and they will point us in the direction of God’s bountiful blessings. ■

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.

“A Slight Change in our Everyday ‘Get Down’”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Keeping God First

In Matthew 6:33(NLT), Jesus Christ said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” This is a commandment of our Lord, and every believer must seek God’s Kingdom first to become all that He wants us to be. All we have to do is look around at the condition of the world, and it shows us the results of not putting God first. Many people have turned their backs on God, but He is not punishing us. 1John 1:5(NLT) tells us, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” Punishment is darkness, and God is all light. There is so much chaos and confusion in the world because the consequences of not caring for one another and not being good stewards of God’s blessings has caught up with us on a large scale. It demonstrates the degree to which we’ve neglected our Creator and neglected to do what we were placed on this earth to do.

Heavenly Father has been extremely patient with us, but we are approaching a time when we will have to make a choice. Either we are going to believe His Word and chose His love, or we are going to face the consequences of a very wrong choice. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot serve two masters; we will either hate the one and love the other, or we will be devoted to the one and despise the other, but we cannot serve both. We are not built to do this. We are created in the image of our Heavenly Father, and our purpose is to walk in partnership with Him throughout our lives. Even with all the craziness in the world, we can still choose God and His love through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what God wants for every person. He wants to be a Father to us all, and He wants to guide, protect, and walk with each of us every day.

Psalm 91:1(NLT) says, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” This verse conveys the closeness we can have with God. To live in His shelter is to stay in the comfort of His presence and to rest there, protected from all the cares of the world. He invites us to do this, but resting there will require us to strip away the things that take us out of His peace. Isaiah 26:3(NLT) tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” God requires that we take our minds and hearts out of the world, and give them to Him, because only He can bring rest to us and anyone else that desires it.

There are so many distractions in the world, and to fix our thoughts will require a great effort. Through the Apostle Paul, Heavenly Father tells us in Philippians 4:6-7(NLT), “6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” We can see from His Word that God requires our faith in Him. Worry indicates that we have doubt, and He tells us not to do it. And not only does He tell us what not to doubt, He tells us what to do instead. We are to PRAY about everything!

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must develop a habit pattern of prayer. We should have an intimate dialogue with Heavenly Father. Some people think that they have to make themselves perfect before they can pray to God. He does not require this, because we don’t have the ability to make ourselves perfect. Heavenly Father perfects us in Jesus Christ as we surrender and yield to Him. He does the work. All we need to do is give ourselves over to Him in prayer.

Prayer is not a one-way street. It is a dialogue where we talk to God, He listens, and He talks to us, and we should listen. Our listening requires us to be still in His presence. It is a spiritual communication where it’s not just talk, but transformation is taking place. He’s working some things out inside us. He’s strengthening our inner man, and we can be confident that He’s performing a good work in us. Philippians 2:13(NLT) affirms, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

One of the ways that we keep God first is to begin each day in prayer, to give our days over to the Lord when we awaken each morning. Jesus Christ did this, and we should follow his pattern. God tells us in Jeremiah 29:11(NLT), “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.” God is the One with the plan. He knows how to maximize our days and lives, and He also knows exactly what we ought to be doing in order to become the men and women He’s destined us to be. Jesus prayed in the wee hours of the morning that God would take over his day and that he would be led by God’s Spirit. This is the kind of partnership God desires, and we will do ourselves the greatest good by obliging Him.

Brother Adam and Sister Eve got it into their heads that they could operate and manage life without the Father’s help. Boy, did they get that one wrong. It was a disaster for them, and it will turn into a disaster for us if we choose the same path. We desperately need God’s help, and He is oh so willing to give it. We should accept it. He’s our Creator, and He never intended for us to journey through life without totally leaning on Him.

God must be first because that is who God is! He’s first! He said in Revelation 21:6(NLT), “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.” God is first in every way, and we must align our thinking with the reality of His truth. Keeping God first requires us to develop a habit pattern of spending quality and quiet time with Him. We will see such a difference in our lives if we do this. It will be the highlight of our days. We must always remember that God’s number one desire is to bless us. We remain in His blessings by seeking Him first in our decisions and choices and following His lead through the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is how we make sure that we’re giving God the number one spot in our lives, and most importantly, keeping Him first in our hearts. ■

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.

“Keeping God First”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Your Strategy for Happiness

Everyone has a different definition for happiness, and for everyone, happiness is achieved in different ways by different things. There can be no doubt that we all desire it, and the quest for it is what drives many of our ambitions, but happiness is not the door to life. It’s not even a key. For many this is a tough pill to swallow. We’ve placed so much emphasis on feelings and on making ourselves happy with external things that we’ve forgotten happiness is an inside job. It’s a state of mind, which means it’s too subjective to be a foundation for life. What does this mean for our quest? Well, one of the things it means is that we need put on our trusty googles, hone our exploration tools, and get ready to search a little deeper. We may have to alter our strategy for happiness, and if we’ve not had one before, we may have to build it.

The whole reason that we exist is to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Big Brother. Romans 8:29(NLT) says, “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Long before we entered our mother’s wombs, God knew us. We are not surprises to Him. He chose us to be His kids, and He wants us to model our lives after His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We are the brothers and sisters that Jesus Christ wanted, and we should consider this incredible, over the top good news!

God is not redundant. He doesn’t make mistakes. He never has to do a take-back or a do-over. Everything He does ends up achieving the purpose for which He created it. Heavenly Father had a plan for bringing us into His family, and there are absolutely no holes in His plan. When we give our lives to Him through Jesus Christ, a supernatural birth takes place, and we receive His seed. This seed is God’s Holy Spirit. Romans 8:15(NLT) tells us, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.””  Through Christ, Heavenly Father adopted us into His family, and now we call Him, “DAD!” It’s the equivalent of the term “Abba Father” that is used in Romans 8:15. It’s a term of endearment and conveys intimacy in the relationship. This is exactly what God wants with each of us, an intimate relationship.

Again, God chose us, which means that everything about us can potentially come together in such a way that we achieve His purpose for our existence. We are wired for this! Whether we realize it or not, God’s purpose is in our DNA! He predesigned and fashioned us to be in the same mold and image as His Son. And through the example of Jesus Christ, we have a pattern for walking in relationship with God every day. The life and example of Jesus Christ is the route to true happiness. He’s the foundation upon which our lives must be built, and but many of us don’t see it this way.

When I was a teenager and started my first foray into baking, I decided to make my mother a homemade German Chocolate cake for her birthday on my own. In my family, baking was more than a casual pastime. It was serious business and all the women in my family could throw down. The pressure was on, and I spent weeks imagining the “pleased as punch” look on my mother’s face once she’d tasted my prize-winning cake. I’d have a space right next to the matriarchs whose baking prowess I did my best to match. Well, instead of a ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ cup of water, guess what I did? You guessed it! Somehow, I got turned around and added a ½ cup of salt instead of the ½ teaspoon the recipe called for.

As an adult looking back on my baking disaster, I can’t help but laugh. I’ve redeemed myself, and my mother was very kind-hearted and forgiving of my mistake back then, but the lesson was clear. The right ingredients are necessary for the sweetness of the cake. Likewise, no matter what strategy we concoct for happiness in life, the right ingredients are needed to make it sweet. We are created spiritual beings, and we were designed to operate through love. The way that we operate optimally is to remain connected to the Source of love. His love is our fuel. It makes the cake sweet.

Our souls have a voice, and they have a memory that is deeper than our conscious minds can fathom. Our souls remember Romans 8:29, that God knew us before we came to the earth, and that we are the brothers and sisters of Christ. In our search for happiness, many of us look everywhere but to the One who can give it. From people, to relationships and material things, we try to receive a soul satisfaction from all those things, but it can only come from our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Romans 8:16(NIV) tells us, The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” This is the internal communication we desperately need. Spirit to spirit communion is what we truly crave, and through Christ, God so freely offers this tremendous gift. It’s the key piece to the strategy of happiness, and we simply can’t be happy without 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.

“Your Strategy for Happiness”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

A Life Filled with Love, Light, and Other Good Stuff

The Bible is a spiritual book for God’s spiritual people. If a person doesn’t believe that everything is spiritual and that they are spiritual beings, they probably won’t be too interested in hearing what God says. They either will concoct their own theories about life and living or adopt the philosophies of others. The path that many have chosen is to place their intelligence in the forefront and to try to neglect, undermine, or contradict the unmatched intelligence of our Creator. He tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9(NLT), “8 My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Heavenly Father’s thoughts are exponentially higher than ours, and we can be so easily deceived into thinking our way is right, when it is completely opposite of the mind of Christ. It’s important that we confront this, because in order to have God’s peace, joy, love, and power, we must allow for the reality that we may need to change the way we think.

Folks are complaining like never before. They are upset with people they feel have done them wrong, they’re upset with the systems of the world, and truth be told, they are upset with themselves. Nothing is meeting their expectations, and they want to put the blame on God, when they haven’t done as God has commanded. Heavenly Father tells us in Romans 12:2(NLT), “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Learning God’s Will for our lives is the key that opens the door to love, light, and all the other good stuff that He’s made available to us through Jesus Christ.

The choice to change the way we think is ever before us. God didn’t create us to be robots that followed His every command automatically. If that is what He had wanted, He would have created us to be just that. Our Heavenly Father wanted a family, and He created us in His image. Genesis 1:27(NLT) says, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” God created us to be self-governing, like Him. We decide who we’re going to serve and what we’re going to do, but make no mistake, our identity has already been established by God. No matter our choices, we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience, and earth is very definitely a temporary sojourn.

While we’re here, serving one another is integral to our purpose, and we’re to achieve this purpose in the unity, love, and compassion of Jesus Christ. This is “Faith Basics-101”. Living out our purpose in service to God and in service to His people is “God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” This is the path He has set for all His children. God’s kids are supposed to operate this way, because serving others is the way HE operates. Jesus Christ demonstrated this in his life, ministry, and sacrifice. His example leads the way to the Father and lays the path of our destinies before us.

Jesus said in John 14:6(NLT), “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” I am completely and utterly over the moon with what Jesus Christ said in John 14:6. My biological father had issues—serious ones. He was a poor example of how a father should behave, and he did not model love, compassion, and generosity before mine and my sibling’s eyes. His addictions got in the way of him behaving as a good father should, but I can tell you very straightforwardly that if anyone had tried to come against my father in any way, I would have tried my best to make sure they never tried it again. I would have done my best to protect him, even as a child. If I felt this way about a poor example of a father, imagine how Jesus feels about an excellent One. God doesn’t need protection, but He demands holiness. It’s what He deserves. Anything glorious deserves glory, and there is none more glorious and holy than the One True God.

Through Jesus Christ, we are made righteous, we are made fit to stand before God with no sense of guilt, sin, or condemnation. Jesus accomplished this for us on the cross, and his way is the only way to connect to the Source of all good things. Romans 8:29(NLT) says, “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” We were created to be God’s children, and Jesus Christ has perfectly modeled for us what God’s kids should do—how we should behave, think, and govern ourselves in this world. As our Big Brother, Jesus Christ desires to guide each of us in a way that we become what we were always meant to be. This is our destiny. It wasn’t, nor could it be, determined by us. God knew us in advance, and He has already chosen us to be like our Big Brother, because our Big Brother embodies all that God is in human form.

If I tried to mow my lawn with a vacuum cleaner, I will probably be dissatisfied with the results. The same can be said when we try to live our lives outside of the purpose for which they were created. We are dissatisfied with the results. We were never intended to live disconnected from the Source of all life. We are spiritual beings having an earth experience, and the key to maximizing life is to lead it through God’s love. Most of us have our own ideas about how to accomplish this, but God warns us not to leave it to speculation.

We must not let the worries and enticement of the world choke the Word out of our minds and hearts. Ephesians 4:21-24(NLT) tells us, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Our responsibility is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, to change the way we think so that we walk in God’s love and align ourselves with our purpose for being on this earth. This is the way to live a life filled with love, light, and all the other good stuff that comes from above.■

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.

“A Life Filled with Love, Light, and Other Good Stuff”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Jesus, Take the Wheel!

A few years ago, a few of my friends went ‘vision board’ crazy, and some of them were over the moon when the goal listed on their boards became a reality. We were all inspired by their success, but one friend in particular was very impacted by everyone’s enthusiasm and success. She’s much younger and has a special place in my heart because her childhood was very similar to my own. Issues resulting from low self-esteem and childhood trauma had caused her to feel as though life would never deal her a fair hand. After breaking up with her last boyfriend and wondering if she would ever get married and have a happily ever after, she decided to give this vision board idea a try. She hoped it would have a positive impact on her life.

In the Old Testament times, God would speak through a few chosen individuals that were spiritually attentive enough to hear His voice. These were God’s prophets, His truth speakers and truth seekers. They were responsible for delivering the Word of the Lord to the people of God, so that everyone could remain blessed according to God’s Will. There were three extremely important pieces that had to fit together for this to happen. The first is that people had to believe that God exists and that He speaks. Secondly, they had to believe that the prophet could hear from God, and thirdly, they had to believe that the word spoken was a true and sure Word.

Faith doesn’t get down with any finicking, wishy-washy business. It’s a tool in God’s mastery kit, and He designed it to only respond when the truth is heard and obeyed.  Studying God’s Word, it’s clear that many of the prophets of the Old Testament were chopping at the bits to hear from Heavenly Father, and this is a huge lesson in spiritual maturity and development for those of us living today. The prophets understood the enormous value of receiving a Word from heaven, and that nothing in all eternity could challenge or prevent it from going forth.

This is often the missing piece in the way that we think today. We are motivated chiefly by what we want to happen or the blessings we want to receive, and we expect it to take place on the double. Before, or even without knowing whether it’s in God’s plan for our lives, we get busy pursuing what we want and expect it all to take place without receiving a true and sure Word from Him.

‘Jesus, take the wheel’ has become a popular catch phase, and many use it with no idea of its heft. Jesus owns the wheel! Through his grace, he indulges our indifference to this truth. You and I don’t own anything. Everything we have is a loaner from the Almighty. Colossians 1:15-17(NLT) tells us, “15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. 17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” The grace of God is nothing short of amazing, because even our very lives belong to God. Our bodies are His temple, but most people behave as if this isn’t true, and yet, He still loves us and wants us to love Him back.

Habakkuk was God’s prophet, and after praying to receive a Word from God, the Lord answered him in Habakkuk 2:2(NKJV) and said, “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” Our God answers our questions. The answers may not always be what we expect, but He will always answer our questions in a way that reveals His Will for our individual lives. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and don’t lean on our own understanding. We’re to acknowledge Him in all our ways, and when we do this, He promises to direct our paths.

Some of us have this a little backwards. We think we’re supposed to guide, and then tell God to follow along, doling out His resources and power for our plans. This is what my dear sweet friend thought when she set up her vision board for marriage and career goals. Not having a clear understanding that GOD is the ONE who sets the vision has led many down the path of disappointment. Many worry that He might not speak to them, or that they won’t be able to recognize His voice or discern His directives. The reality is that learning to hear His voice and learning to discern His directives is what gives our lives meaning and fulfillment; and walking the path He’s set before us is what makes life sweet. The gift of the Holy Spirit is our perfect teacher! He has no problems whatsoever teaching us to hear and discern. Our job is to be obedient and make sure we learn the lessons well.  

The process of creating a vision board requires a clear vision of the goal. God knows our past, present, and future; therefore, clarity from Him regarding His vision ensures that we’ve got the right goal, so we can then have confidence and faith that it’s achievable AND pleasing to God. A vision board also uses more pictures than words, and the words should be concise and impactful. This is where truth comes in. The pictures we need are those that come from the mind of Christ. John 16:13(NLT) tells us, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” This is precisely the information we need to be concise, and only the Spirit of the Living God can provide it.

Rest assured that dreams come true and goals are reached when we allow Jesus Christ to take the wheel. He knows God’s plans for our lives and the purpose for which we exist. If our aim is to truly follow the call of destiny and reach the greatest level of fulfillment God has destined us to achieve, best to let Him lead the way. He’ll give us the vision for our lives, and it will not disappoint. It’s up to us to write it down, be concerned about making it clear and concise, and follow wherever Jesus Christ leads us.■

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.

“Jesus, Take the Wheel!”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

God Cannot Fail

A person said to me that she couldn’t understand why salvation through Jesus Christ is necessary. She finds the bible confusing and very troubling in some areas, and one of her greatest areas of confusion is consequences and why we must face them if God’s forgiveness is granted. She has heard teachers and preachers say that the world is being punished by God with the pandemic. She is alarmed by what she sees and said, “How can a loving God do this to people?” I’ve been on the Christian journey a long time, and I’m no stranger to questions like these. We live in a world where people see the most horrible things imaginable. They blame these dark deeds on God, even refer to them as “acts of God”, and they attribute the wonderful blessings of life to themselves or the devil. 1John 1:5 declares that God is light, and there’s no darkness in Him at all. This is the truth! We’d give ourselves the greatest gift of eternity if we’d accept that God’s Word is true, that He cannot fail, and if we trust Him, He will prove His Word to us in an undeniable way.    

From the very beginning of His Word, in Genesis 1, God shows us a little bit about His process of creation. This is an oversimplification of course, but in a nutshell, 1) He spoke; 2) everything cooperated, converged, and complied; then 3) everything came into being in response to His sovereign authority, glory, power and majesty. It couldn’t happen any other way. When God speaks, we have the definitive and final authority on any subject. God also spoke us into being. He created humans to be like Him and gave us free-will agency to make our own choices. Like Him, we are self-governing when it comes to how we want to live our lives. We can live them according to the example of Jesus Christ, which was always God’s plan, or we can try to come up with our own code of standards, and live as we please. Some who do this are very sincere, but sincerity is no guarantee for truth.  

In Genesis, we see that God is very specific and leaves nothing to chance. That’s just the way He gets down. For instance, He didn’t create frogs to have baby elephants, or bears to have baby giraffes. Everything produces after its own kind. That’s order! Another important pattern is the order in which He went about creating. It was very systematic and intelligent. He didn’t create Adam first and then create everything around the first man. No. He created everything humans would need for habitation, and then He created Adam. The understanding that God wanted us to enter into His rest and provision could not be compromised in any way. He is a God of order, and wherever there is order, there are laws. Therefore, there will always be a price for violating the law.

God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This was His Word. It was law. He said, “Don’t do it!” and that’s exactly what He meant. Then comes the slick and dastardly evil one, who wanted to steal the dominion and authority that God had given to Adam and Eve. Jesus Christ told us in John 10:10 that the devil is in the earth to steal, kill, and destroy. It’s amazing how people will believe in many of the other truths in God’s Word, but they have a problem dealing with what Jesus said in John 10:10. All we need to do is look around at the chaos and confusion in the world today. It is the devil’s handiwork, and he has blinded people so much that they try to label what God says is wrong as right, and what God says is right as wrong.

We have crafted many of the judicial systems on earth following the pattern of God’s laws. In most of them, if you violate the law, you lose all the privileges that come with being a free citizen. That’s what happened to Brother Adam and Sister Eve. They were in paradise spiritually, because they were holy and had spiritual perfection in their relationship and fellowship with God. This allowed them to be in a physical paradise in the Garden of Eden as well. They were in bliss, but they gave it up because they chose to be separated from the sovereignty of God.

They were tricked by the devil into disobeying God’s commandment which forbid them from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They disobeyed God’s law and lost all the privileges of being a free citizen in the beautiful paradise God created for them both spiritually and physically—on this earth. Notice that God didn’t come down and slap that apple out of Eve’s hand. Heavenly Father didn’t prevent her and Adam from making a bad choice any more than He will prevent us from making them. We are free to choose who we are going to be. The problem is that humans didn’t stop making bad choices after the first couple messed up but continued to sin and do things that were outside of who God has created us to be.

People have thought throughout history that creating more laws was the way the go, that the more laws we had, the better we would become. Instead, the exact opposite was true. The more laws we had, the more we used them to sin even more. We needed to be saved from ourselves and rescued from darkness. So, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to accomplish the work that we could not do for ourselves. Through Jesus Christ, God orchestrated redemption’s plan. He redeemed us from the dreadful curse of the law.

God is a Righteous Judge, more righteous than any of us can fathom. He is not flexible to our whims. He said 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.” Many people have lost faith in the judicial systems in governments and countries. They are ruled in some cases by people that have tremendous power but are corrupt. Because of their corruption, they administer a kind of justice that serves their political, personal, and financial gain. God can never fail. He is perfect in every way, and therefore, He can never be accused of administering justice that isn’t perfect, righteous, and fair. Everyday the sun shines on every living person. Every day, whether we are motivated by good or evil, we breathe air and enjoy a beauty that isn’t possible for us to create or reproduce. God sends the rain to water crops, and the rain doesn’t distinguish which crops enjoy its nourishment. This shows us the goodness of God.

God’s Word tells us in 1John 4:18(NLT), “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” God is not punishing us. We are punishing ourselves, and many are too arrogant to see this. Fear is the opposite of faith. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:24 that we can’t serve two masters. We can’t have fear and faith at the same time. There are some very evil people that are possessed by satan to do some very evil things, and unfortunately, there are more of them than there are of those that love God and desire to please Him through Christ. Many of those counted on by millions to make sound judgments and good decisions do not, but God will never abandon those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. Psalm 34:10(NLT) says, “Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.”  God will not fail us, but we must trust in His Word!

Galatians 6:7 tells us that God is not deceived when we pretend to be something we’re not. He’s not fooled when we say we love Him but refuse to obey His Word. He tells us that the harvest will always reveal the true motive and identity of the seed. In other words, the consequence will reveal the true motive and identity of the action. That’s a big chunk of meat to swallow but swallow it we must if we want to live by God’s truth. For every action, there is a re-action. Every choice we make has a consequence. God forgives our sin, but just as a good parent desires their child to make good choices, God desires the same for us. When we don’t, we shouldn’t blame Him, but humble ourselves to seek His forgiveness and ask Him to help us right our wrongs. If everyone did this, the world would be a much different place.■

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.

“God Cannot Fail”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!