Don’t Let Him Pick You Apart!

I bet just about every woman knows the verse in Philippians 4:6(NLT). It tells us, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Look at how simple Heavenly Father has made this for us. First, He tells us what not to do, then He tells us exactly what to do in order to restore His peace in our lives. We shouldn’t worry about anything because worry isn’t the nature of a believer. Faith and gratitude are our nature, and anything outside of those two doesn’t tell the truth about the goodness of God. Many of us know this, but we let worry and doubt get the best of us anyway. We’ve got to stop giving over our power and authority in Christ this way. We can’t allow the devil to pick us apart, especially now.

I’ve heard many women that are believers speak about the incredible circumstances and situations that God has brought them through. From marital abandonment and financial ruin to domestic violence and abuse, they’ve dealt with it all and some of them did so with darts flying from all angles. As soon as they felt some degree of ease about one thing, two or three other situations came out of nowhere. They felt like throwing in the towel, but they didn’t. One of the common threads in their testimonies of overcoming incredibly painful situations is the lesson they learned about anxiety and doubt. They wasted a lot of time worrying about whether God would come through or if He’d allow them to fall through the cracks. He always delivers on His promises and in the end, He rescued them from darkness and despair.

We all know the grips of that sinking feeling. It brings you so low that you can’t even define the depth. Every part of you feels upset and bothered, and nothing—no thought or feeling, seems to bring comfort. In our darkest moments, we know God’s healing power, and we also know that He’s commanded us not to worry, but we make ourselves sick with worry any way. No matter how many times our friends, loved ones, and spiritual mentors tell us to give it to Jesus, we vacillate back and forth, giving our burdens to him one minute and taking them back the next.

As God’s children, we can learn a lot about having a constancy of faith by the pattern of good parenting that many of us have demonstrated to our own biological children. We love our children and will do anything for them. We must remember that God is the One who has given us the heart and mind for parenting. We didn’t come up with it on our own. We love our kids because He first loved us. Not only has He shown us real and genuine love through Jesus Christ by giving him as a sacrifice for the sins of all people, but God created us with the capacity to respond to each other with His love. We are made in His image, and we understand that His love is the force that propels us forward.

As good parents, we would never harm our kids, but will do everything in our power to protect them. To make sure their well-being is preserved, we would move heaven and earth if we could. God’s love is infinitely higher than the love that any of us can give. In Isaiah 55:9(NLT), He said of Himself, “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.” God loves us more than we can ever imagine. Our thoughts can’t think that high. It’s a deep, unconditional and abiding love, and nothing can separate us from it. No one can love like He loves. To get a glimpse of how He views our worry and doubt, consider the thought of your biological child sitting somewhere, feeling scared, and worrying that you have refused to take care of them or that you won’t do it for some reason. This would hurt you to the core. Imagine how God feels when we don’t trust Him to take care of us.

All good relationships are built on individuals responding honestly, compassionately, thoughtfully, and lovingly to one another. God set relationships up to operate this way. These responses build faith and trust, and without faith and trust, a relationship will collapse or be injured. You and I are here on this earth to build an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of life! Jesus Christ tells us that he is the door to the Father. We must have the faith of Jesus Christ to please God. Faith and believing in Him is how we respond to His overwhelming love.

Fear is a cloak of deception that the devil tries to pull off as being real. It is a false evidence of reality, and worry is a sign that we have bought into the lie. We can’t let the devil continue to pick us apart with his tactics and tricks. Let’s resist his plots by doing as Philippians 4:6 says and get really specific in our prayers. We have the authority of Jesus Christ to plead his blood over situations and circumstances. Colossians 1:13 tells us that his blood cleansed our sins, and through the blood of Jesus Christ, God has delivered us from the power of satan’s darkness and transferred us to his Kingdom. We don’t belong to worry and doubt, and we should never claim them.

Yes, it takes time to develop the habit pattern of choosing faith and not fear, but God tells us how to strengthen the muscle. He said, “Thank him for all he has done.” This is a strategy for Godly living. A person can’t be thankful and fearful at the same time. To keep fear from rising up and overtaking our hearts, Heavenly Father commands us to think of His goodness, and do it continually. This is how we constantly hit the “ON” button of faith. Philippians 4:6(NLT) tells us that as we practice thankfulness and gratitude to God, “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.”

God doesn’t leave our relationship with Him to chance. He tells us exactly how to respond to Him, and to do it in a way that causes Him delight. Our obedience and commitment to respond to God with faith and gratitude will invite the indwelling Holy Spirit to saturate us with God’s peace. This peace guards our hearts and minds, but we must live in Christ. This means we must do our part, and Philippians 4:8(NLT) tells us exactly what that part is. It says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” We can change the way we handle obstacles and adversity by resisting the urge to respond to what the devil is trying to do, instead, we can respond to the goodness of God, be thankful and abide in His perfect peace. ■

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.

“Don’t Let Him Pick You Apart!” 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!

The Spirit’s Fruit Producing Business

Ephesians 1:4-6 declares that long before God laid down the foundations of earth, He knew us and predestinated us according to His purposes. He made us the focus of His love and even before we entered our mother’s wombs, He adopted us into His family. He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to accomplish this mission. Jesus Christ initiated God’s plan by which you and I would become transformed into the very image of Christ. And it is through Jesus Christ that we find out who we are and the purpose for which we are created.

If you and I could transform ourselves, we would have done it long ago. The truth is that we can’t do it ourselves, and because of what Jesus Christ accomplished through his sacrifice and resurrection, we don’t have to. Christ restored the connection to God that Adam lost. He made it possible for us to receive God’s seed, the gift of Holy Spirit, in the inner sanctum of our being. Our Creator set the precedent. His pattern of reproduction is such that a child must have its father’s seed to be that father’s offspring. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Big Brother, by the consummation of our faith, we receive the same seed that Jesus Christ has.

God is our Father, and we carry His seed, the Holy Spirit. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, not the other way around. If we miss this, we’ll miss a whole lot. Every moment on this earth affords us the opportunity to affirm our identity in God’s truth. The gift of this opportunity is monumental because once this life is over, there’s no chance for back-tracks or do overs. This is it! We will either accept our call and walk in God’s purpose, or we won’t. Choosing not to accept His call is catastrophic, but it is indeed our choice to make. However, if we accept our call, we will become rooted and grounded in God’s love through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

With Christ at the helm, there is no regression or going backwards to our old state of darkness and dysfunction. God’s trajectory is forward and upward, never backward. His call is that we abound in Christ, to increase in him in every way, because Christ is God’s blueprint for humanity. Becoming like him is the highest, most excellent existence available to any living thing. And to increase in Christ, we’re going to have to leave our comfort zones. That’s an absolute.

A comfort zone is the place where we hang out emotionally, mentally, and physically. It’s the familiar. Anything outside our comfort zone will press us to change, and change is what many of us resist. We know what we know, we like what we know, and we don’t want to know anything different. That’s a recipe for being stuck, and our destiny in Christ will not support that stance. Rather than being stuck and afraid, we will need to make room in our lives for this hugely supernatural word called ‘surrender’. We must surrender our fears to Christ, take his hand, and allow him to lead us through his Spirit.

Jesus Christ tells us in John 16:13-14(NLT), “13 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. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.” The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, Friend, Teacher, and Guide. He guides us through life according to the purpose and plan God has set for us, and walking by, with, and in God’s Spirit is no ordinary life. We must completely take our hands off the wheel, and let the Spirit do what only he can do for us.

Walking in the Spirit requires us to make a switch. We can no longer allow our flesh to be our guide. That occupation belongs only to the Spirit. We must surrender to him, and when we do, it’s a total faith walk! We can’t lean on the flesh and please God at the same time. He tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6(NKJV), “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” The flesh doesn’t want us to surrender, it wants quick pleasure and to keep us marching to the tune of rebellion. It leads us to think that we can direct our own paths, be self-reliant, and become grounded in self-security. Life will teach us how wrong this line of thinking really is.

Everything is spiritual, from the smallest to the greatest detail of life. God isn’t keeping anything hidden from us. He is one hundred and fifty million percent transparent, and then some. Our responsibility as God’s sons and daughters is to bear fruit through the Spirit for God’s Kingdom. The Spirit’s power is unlimited, and he gets busy. IF we will allow him, he will work through us to produce good works. If we doubt this to any degree, all we need to do is ask God about it. He’s not shy. If you earnestly want to know the truth about why you are here and what you’re supposed to be doing with your life, ask the Spirit. But you can’t ask just for the sake of asking. When you come to God, you must recognize and honor who He is, and you must be ready to surrender and to let the Spirit lead, guide, and direct you in his fruit producing business. ■

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 Spirit’s Fruit Producing Business”, 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!

Your Alabaster Box

I was seven years old when I began spending my summers in Chicago with my aunt and cousin. To my cousin’s friends and neighborhood playmates, I was the country cousin who spoke funny. My words were often met with odd looks and “I don’t understand what you’re saying.” I entertained these youngsters simply by being me, and sometimes this was more hurtful than it was amusing. Now that I’m much older, I remember my aunt’s friends more distinctly than I do the children my cousin and I played with for hours. Her friends were colorful with big personalities that took up all the space in a room, and there was one in particular that I will never forget.

I was nine or ten, and she was wearing all black when I first met her. So lean and stylish, she looked as if she had been a model in her younger years. It was a Sunday afternoon after church, and she had stopped over for a plate of my aunt’s Sunday dinner. My aunt was southern bred and could burn in the kitchen almost as well as my grandmother. Somewhere during her friend’s visit, it dawned on me that she had been the woman that ran to the altar for altar-call at church and fell to her knees, whaling with moans and tears. Her big hat had kept her face hidden from me during service, but when my eyes were supposed to be closed for prayer, they had been locked on her the entire time. I wondered why no one else seemed as mesmerized by her distinct and gushing cries as I had been.  

Luke 7 contains the record of a woman with a beautiful alabaster box. She came to Simon’s house where Jesus Christ had been invited for dinner. Simon was a Pharisee, and they notoriously hated Jesus, but masked it at times for the sake of tricking him or finding something they could use to discredit him. This woman heard that Jesus would be in Simon’s home and came weeping at his feet. Luke 7:38(NLT) tells us, “Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.” She took the contents of her alabaster box and anointed the feet of Jesus with rare perfume.

It was customary in those times to anoint the heads of guest with olive oil as a sign of hospitality, and even though Christ was more worthy of anyone to receive this courtesy, Simon had not given it to him.  Jesus Christ said of this woman in Luke 7:47-48(NIV), “47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”” The humility of the woman with the alabaster box in Luke 7 is palpable, and my aunt’s friend, the thin, stylish woman in black, is in my mind a symbol of her. She was drenched in gratitude, and humility oozed from her being like a river of anointed oil.

When I was older, my aunt explained that this woman, her dear friend, had endured many years of domestic violence and abuse at the hands of her husband. He had been at times ruthless, and she endured it for the sake of their children. Not long after she turned to Christ and gave her life to him, her husband’s health began to decline. My aunt told us she had committed herself to his care, as he no longer had the strength or the heart to do her any harm. Her praise to God was unabashed and in total awe of how our Heavenly Father took a life as pitiful as hers and made peace where there was total desperation.

1Corinthians 4:20(NLT) tells us, “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” Life is not stripped of all adversities, obstacles, and troubles so that we can walk a path devoid of those things. God has designed life to teach us to walk in His power despite the hurdles that come with living on earth. Faith would not be faith if there were no challenges that reveal the magnitude of its brilliance. God’s deliverance and power manifests in our lives in many ways. There is no limit to what He can do, and we must remind ourselves of this continually.

All of us have a beautiful alabaster box. The woman who anointed the feet of Jesus Christ with rare perfume showed us that it isn’t the beauty of the outside but what we do with the contents of the container that makes all the difference. Whether our troubles are prolonged or swiftly moved out of the way, Christ will forever be the reason for our joy. Our hope in him does not disappoint, and in him our every expectation for fulfilling God’s glory is complete. We don’t have any excuses to feel distant from God, He’s brought us close to Him through Christ. And now that we have the great privilege to give back to Heavenly Father the treasure He’s placed within us, we should let the sweet perfume of our faith in Him anoint everything that we do.■

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.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

“Your Alabaster Box”, 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!

Take Life in Small Chewable Bites

All of us are wired with that thing that drives us every day we’re on this earth. We can’t touch it and it isn’t audible, but our souls hear it loud and clear. Not only is it the thing that motivates us to get us up out of bed every day, it draws us to certain people and them to us. It makes us crave energies, environments, and experiences that would otherwise be completely foreign to us. We can’t give it a name and we don’t bother to define it. This thing rests beneath our consciousness and most of us never travel that far to face it. We will only skim the surface when the uncertainty of its desire causes us to make colossal mistakes. The blow-back from those painful missteps hurts so much and cuts so deep that we can scarcely walk straight.

Most of us find the courage to keep plunging ahead because the thing that drives us is inexhaustible. Even when we give up, it never does. It should come as no surprise that understanding it more so that we can harness and aim it in the right direction should be our goal. The first piece of information that will aid our understanding is pretty common sense. It is the reality that none of us created the thing, nor can we own or manipulate it. Locked so deep within us that we can’t determine its beginning or end, we must resign ourselves to the truth that destiny is the thing. It is in us, coded in our DNA, and it reaches further back than Adam, the first created human, for God tells us in Ephesians 1:4(NLT), “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

Proverbs 14:12 affirms that there is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in destruction. The phenomenal wisdom that God gives here makes it a certainty that every person living or that has ever lived has more than one path in life they can choose. They can choose a path that seems right, or they can choose a path that is right. Sadly, most will choose a path that seems right and will end up in a horrible place spiritually. The path that seems right is not their destiny and choosing this path will leave us perplexed and unsettled with life.

The path to our true destiny in Christ doesn’t allow us to know all its ins and outs in one fell swoop. We must walk it out, hand in hand with the Master as he directs our path. Patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, joy, peace, and love are the Spirit’s fruit, and they are produced from the choices we make to walk with Christ every moment of each day. It is a process supported by the combination of time, life, and the Holy Spirit. We are being perfected through and by the Lord. It is in truth the transformation of our souls into the men and women Heavenly Father has destined us to be.

Destiny forces us to deal with our souls. Dealing with our souls requires Christian discipline. This means that it requires an incredible amount of humility and a maturity level that will acknowledge that the Spirit’s fruit is the target. To discipline the soul in this way is sometimes a challenging and jarring process, but the rewards are stellar. It involves sacrifice, so most individuals will opt out of this work of the soul for the quickest route to pleasure. We have our own ideas about what will fulfill our souls and make us happy. Unwisely and often impetuously, we try to open our mouths wide and take the biggest bite out of life that we possibly can. We’re not thinking about God’s eternal riches or longevity but want as much of what the world has to offer as we get right now. The truth is that people will take those big bites, and they will chew and chew and chew, but won’t ever get full. We’ll never be full that way.

Our destinies belong to God. He owns every nook and cranny of them. The destiny that God has placed in every individual is completely covered in Christ. Romans 8:29(NIV) tells us, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” The person of Jesus Christ is the blueprint for God’s original design for all human beings. Coded within each of us is all the mechanics to fulfill God’s purpose for our existence. We’re driven by it even if we don’t realize it. Destiny is designed by the Creator to be lived-out each day, and to do so in total submission to Him.

Jesus Christ commands us in Matthew 6:33 to seek the Kingdom of God first, above all else, and to live righteously before God, and He will give us everything we need. So, each day is given to us to seek the Will of the God and then move according to His agenda. So many people miss this entirely, and because they do, life is lived beneath their privilege.

Life has little tolerance for us trying to steer our own destinies. We can only see what is right in front of us, and none of us can predict the future. God is the One that holds our tomorrows. He has the master plan for our lives. Although our desire is to take that big gulp out of life, He knows that we can only handle small chewable bites. We must submit ourselves to God and have total faith in Him. We should open our mouths wide to swallow as much of His truth as we possibly can. Psalm 34:8-10(NIV) says,“8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 9 Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. 10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” Our souls may at times deny it, but the thing we desperately need is Christ. He is the only One that can steer us into the infinite possibilities our destinies hold.■

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.

“Take Life in Small Chewable Bites”, 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!

Never Give Up!

Prior to the pandemic, a woman I had known for several years passed away. I didn’t consider her a friend, but she was certainly an acquaintance for whom our meeting was very purposeful. Indirectly, she taught me many lessons that have been important to my spiritual journey in Christ. I learned them from observing her actions and from those she depended on for help. Towards the end of her life, she was very miserable and depressed. She seemed to give up even before her condition worsened, and because she did, people around her, including those responsible for her care, seemed to give up too. This was the last lesson I would learn from her, and I made sure to learn it well. Never give up. Even when others abandon hope, fight the good fight of faith.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 1Timothy 6:12 that faith is indeed a good fight! It begins in our hearts, gets its momentum in our minds, and soars with the actions we take to back it. The thing is, many of us think we have it when we really don’t understand what it is. We don’t understand why we’ve been given this potent spiritual substance, and more importantly, many of us haven’t studied God’s Word to know exactly how we should apply it. As a young adult believer, just learning some of the deep truths of God’s Word, initially I thought faith was the way to get God’s goodies. I had been badgered severely by the evil one and his cohorts, and I thought my whole life would be one big struggle. When I learned about having faith in God through the Lord Jesus Christ, I just about jumped right out of my skin! It literally blew my socks off, and I was changed forever.

I had lost my job, had my car repossessed, and was down to ketchup sandwiches—that’s all I had in the frig. Things were really bad, and I couldn’t see a way out. I had no clue that human beings could live with God’s power. The notion had never occurred to me. I felt helpless and hopeless. It popped into my head on more than one occasion that I was being punished, but I couldn’t quite figure out what for. I knew that I wasn’t perfect, but I was being dragged through the mud and my circumstances seemed to be getting worse by the day. God opened my eyes to His Word through wonderful individuals that were willing and relentless to teach me to walk by faith.

John 10:10(NKJV) was a pivotal verse for me. In it, Jesus Christ said, “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.” I felt that my life was far from abundant, but as I started to believe that God’s Will was for me to have a more than abundant existence, I could sense a shift internally. As I began to build my relationship with God, my faith in Him increased and soon the internal shift in my thoughts and feelings made its way into my external circumstances.

Hebrew 11:1 tells us that faith is the title deed to what we hope for, and it is the evidence that we have the thing we’ve prayed to receive even before it shows up. We must believe in what we can’t see. 2Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we must walk by faith and not by sight. We also must learn that our faith must be expressed through the love of Christ. Spiritual maturity beckons us to leave the ‘kid in a candy store’ mentality behind, because it’s an attitude where our focus is mainly consumed with what we want. Intimacy in our relationship with God demands that our focus is on His purpose and fulfilling His plan for our individual lives.

This means that as our faith and spiritual maturity increase, some of the things we’ve held on to so tightly will need to be released. The woman that passed away hit this lesson home for me. I don’t know this for a fact, but it seemed to me that she had spent a great deal of her life being bitter. She complained a lot and had an opinion about everything, and when she didn’t like something, her words could be harsh and biting. I believed this had been her pattern of behavior for a very long time. Whether by receiving a revelation from the Spirit or by an encounter with a believer that had called her out on her stuff, this woman tried in her later years to change her behavior a bit and release some of those negative patterns. She had an epiphany of sorts and must have saw a reflection of who she had groomed herself to be, and she didn’t like what she saw.

She showed me an up-close and personal portrait of what it looks like to spend a lifetime knowing about God, but not spend a lifetime getting to know who He is through Christ. She hadn’t made that intimate connection with Heavenly Father through His Son, and therefore, she hadn’t learned to walk by faith. She didn’t know that a person can believe God to live a good life and actually have one. She hadn’t believed in the miraculous, didn’t think it showed up in people’s lives like it did in mine. And when the circumstances of her life called for her to trust Him to show up in an amazing way, her mind and heart couldn’t make the leap of faith required.

If you and I are not tenaciously, confidently, and exuberantly overwhelmed with joy about the faith that Jesus Christ has given us, then we haven’t truly discovered what faith is. It is potent beyond what you and I can imagine, and in the words of our Master Jesus in Mark 11:23, if we truly believe, through faith in God, mountains can be moved.

We must believe that #1, God is all powerful, #2, that He is a Rewarder who rewards His children, and #3 that He is WILLING and delighted to use His power to help and bless us through the Lord Jesus Christ! Faith is unleased in a powerful way when our attitude and belief is in line with all three truths. You can’t be lackluster in mind and heart about the faith of Jesus Christ, because if you are, you will not be fully transformed into his likeness. The faith of Jesus Christ is more dynamic, transformative, and powerful than anything we could ever hope to acquire. It is the instrument of change for those belonging to the higher consciousness of his love and light. Romans 10:17 tells us faith comes by hearing the Word of God, and it will perform in direct proportion to our level of enthusiasm, reverence, confidence, and belief in God through Christ.

If we are not thrilled beyond excitement about faith, we are not a match for its potency. If we don’t understand that God has given us the same faith that Jesus Christ had, so we can get some good things done in the earth just like him, then we need more knowledge about Christ. The tenacity, endurance, and hopefulness of which we pursue the faith of Jesus Christ will determine its outcome. If you’re anything like me, you want all that God has in store for you. Let’s not be like the poor lady who thought faith was something you take off the shelf for one day a week for an hour or so. Let’s get real about why we’re here and what we’re supposed to be doing. We were created in the image of God and in the likeness of Christ. Faith defines us, and we must fight to bring our minds and hearts equal to its power.■

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.

“Never Give Up!”, 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!

The Lord Jesus Christ Has the Key

Revelations 3:7-8(NLT)
“7 This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open. 8 “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close.”

I spoke to an old friend this week and she was going through some pretty rough times with her family.  She said to me, “I can’t trust anyone around me. I don’t have nobody!” For many born-again believers today, their world seems shaky and unstable. They are feeling insecure because there’s so much uncertainty all around us. Some folks that have declared their love for the Lord for years are now starting to doubt His love all together. The institutions we have relied on for support are breaking down, and their corruption is on blast for everyone to see. Pandemic notwithstanding, everything seems out of place, and many Christians are losing focus and faith. We must not be deceived by what the devil is trying to do. Instead, we must remember and forever stand on the reality that our hope is in Christ, not in human beings.

This period has been especially taxing for some that haven’t been around their loved ones and are feeling lonely and secluded. The emotional toll on their relationships has been devastating in many ways, and some relationships have been irreparably damaged. God knows all that’s happening to us. In the passage of Revelations 3:7-8(NLT), He declared that only He holds our tomorrows, and only He has the power to open and close the doors that are important to our lives.

Many people do not believe this. Challenging times often reveal whether we truly trust God and will choose to follow Him no matter how things look, or if we will abandon our faith as soon as things get tough. We have leaned far too heavily on worldly systems. This has caused many people’s faith muscle to become saggy and flaccid. God created us in such a way that the core of our being is strengthened by faith, and when our faith is small, the circumstances of our lives begin to mirror our refusal to walk in Christ with authority and boldness.

There can be no doubt that we are witnessing spiritual warfare in an unprecedented fashion. And it is affecting many aspects of our lives, but God didn’t hide this from us. In His Word, He has told us exactly what we’d encounter in the world, and He also told us exactly who our real enemy is. He teaches us in Ephesians 6:12(NLT),  “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

In order to stand firm against spiritual warfare in the earth, God tells us to put on every spiritual weapon He has provided. His spiritual weapons are fail-proof, and through them we can continue to walk in the victory of Jesus Christ, even when there’s chaos and confusion all around us. 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 cannot have faith and fear at the same time. We must make a choice. James 1:6(NLT) warns that when we ask God for His blessings, we must “be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” Don’t let satan convince you that the world has something to give you. In the world, there is only heartache and misery, but in Christ there is joy everlasting. He is the door, and he has given us the key to it. Don’t look for the key anywhere else, not in the world, not in a man, or any other person. Anchor your faith in Christ, so that the core of your being is fortified in him. Then, you will be confident in your ability to withstand any challenge through his strength and power.  ■

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 Lord Jesus Christ Has the Key”, written by KYada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

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!