Sold Out on God’s Goodness

I’ve had several conversations with Brenda, a wonderful woman who is over 50 and yearns to be married again. Quite honestly, my heart breaks every time this subject comes up. Brenda’s desire for partnership is palpable and finding a compatible mate invariably comes up at some point in just about all her conversations. She always requests that I pray for her, and she frequently asks me why I think the Lord hasn’t yet answered her prayers, but when I endeavor to encourage her, she won’t allow it to land. She either over-talks me, zones out, or takes only the bits and pieces of what I’ve said that fit with her own narrative.

It’s been ten years since her divorce, and it was an abusive marriage. Brenda struggles with forgiving herself for leaving her husband and still wonders if she did the right thing. For a long time, she believed that God was punishing her for it by not allowing her to marry again. Nothing could be further from the truth, but we can get so dug in when it comes to our way of thinking that we simply refuse to see life any other way. 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.” Gifts from our Heavenly Father cannot be improved, they are perfect, just as He is perfect. He is a Giver in the greatest, most infinite sense of the Word. He does not punish or withhold gifts. He gives freely and it is His great delight to do so.

If we refuse to see God in the truth of His identity, we will not be able to see ourselves in the truth of our identity. Ephesians 2:10(NLT) tells us, 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 calls us His finest work, and He has a plan for our lives. We were not created to wing it as we go along. Psalm 37:23(NLT) says, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Heavenly Father intended our lives to be in total partnership with Him, and His expectation is that we will move according to His Will and Plan for us.

Brenda is beginning to understand that God isn’t punishing her, but she still struggles with doubting God’s love, and she also struggles with negative thoughts about herself. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith in Him, and Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and perceiving the Word of God. Faith is required for every move we make. You cannot get up from where you are sitting without faith in your ability to do so. Romans 12:3 tells us that God gives every person a certain measure of faith, but His expectation is that we will increase it as we continue to pursue His Word. So, when we are not fully persuaded in God’s goodness, life doesn’t cooperate with us in the way we desire. Instead, life responds to our doubt and unbelief, and it continues to show us situations, circumstances, and conditions that reflect our refusal to fully trust God.

This is the insidiousness of darkness. It enslaves until we understand the authority and power we’ve been given through Jesus Christ and refuse to be enslaved any longer. We must come from behind the veil, and 2Corinthians 3:14,16-17(NLT) tells us, “14 And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” The Lord Jesus Christ releases us into his glorious light where we can remain continually under God’s covering. The greatest desire of our hearts must be to trust our Heavenly Father by believing in what He has given us in Christ. God is worthy of our overwhelming and unrelenting trust. He alone is worthy of our praise.

I’m not sure what it will take for Brenda to desire God more than she desires to meet someone new, but rest assured, that is the leap of faith all of us must make to please Him. 2Chronicles 16:9(NLT) tells us, “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be sold-out on His goodness, for He is a good God and there is none that compares to Him. Domestic violence and abuse can do a number on our self-confidence. It can cause us to think the worst about ourselves and others and to even think the worse of our own ability to make good and sound choices, but Jesus Christ is the solution for this. Through him we can be strengthened. We can be wiser from God’s Word, and it is Heavenly Father’s desire that we allow Him to fill up our empty places, so that our minds and hearts are transformed by our faith in Him.■

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

“Sold Out on God’s Goodness”, 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!

God Wants Our Eyes Open

Galatians 5:1(MSG)
“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”

“Why am I constantly being hit with one problem after another? Why can’t I catch a break?”

I once heard a Domestic Violence and Abuse counselor say that many individuals continue to suffer abuse because they haven’t reached a point of not wanting the abuser in their lives anymore. I must admit that I was surprised and a little shocked when I heard this, but it expanded how I viewed the traumatic events of my own life and the mindsets of both the abuser and the person being abused. There is no question that a person being abused has to make a shift. They must come to a place of recognizing that God doesn’t want anyone to be abused. They must also realize they deserve better and that God will help them. This is part of what it means to come into the light of awareness about God’s plan for your life and align our steps with His agenda instead of our own.

Many of us will endure mistreatment and abuse a long time before we begin to trust God and free ourselves from darkness. When you pull back the layers of why we suffer abuse so long, the root of it can be traced to a lack of faith in God. We don’t have faith that He loves us and gives us strength. We don’t have faith that He will bring someone wonderful into our lives, and we don’t have faith that we can become the version of ourselves that He created us to be.

Everything in life requires faith. We can’t get out of bed each morning if we don’t have faith that we can do it. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing the Good News about Jesus Christ. God is the Giver of life. He made it possible for us to have life through His Son, Jesus Christ. Most people understand that life is a gift from God; they at least know this from His Word, but most don’t invest the time to know more than this from His Word. They think they’re here on this earth to do their own thing, and that God doesn’t want to be bothered with the minute details of our decisions and choices. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Proverbs 3:5-6(NLT) tells us, “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” We’re to trust in God with all our hearts, but in an abusive situation, sometimes all our hearts aren’t available to us. We’re too consumed with either trying to protect ourselves or deal with the dysfunction of the abuser. God tells us to cease with leaning on our own understanding, because we’re blinded by the continual shenanigans of the devil. Only Heavenly Father knows and sees the big picture. He is the Only One that can make a way out of no way. Verse 5 instructs us to seek the Will of the Father in ALL that we do. We are to pray earnestly, diligently, and faithfully. He hears us. He is able and willing to help us, and only He can direct our feet on the path He desires us to take.

Galatians 5:1 tells us that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has set us free. He did this when he came to live on the earth, became human like us, sacrificed his life and was resurrected from the dead by the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 2:14(NLT) says, “Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.” Darkness belongs to the devil, and darkness has many cousins like fear, doubt, insecurity, bondage, destruction, depression, and death. These are many of the things that the devil uses to overpower people and keep them enslaved. The weapon that he uses to do it with is ignorance. People can’t rise above what they don’t know, so when we are not knowledgeable regarding what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, the devil can keep us oppressed.

God has designed life in such a way that the more we know about Jesus Christ, the more we grow in faith. The more we grow in faith, the better our lives become. Jesus Christ said in John 8:32(NLT), “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” If knowing the Good News of Jesus Christ sets us free, then not knowing it keeps us in bondage. This is the current state of many of God’s people, and it is because they haven’t learned about what Jesus Christ has made available. When we don’t hear the Good News and trust it, we live far beneath our privilege. The lights are not on in terms of us understanding our identity in Christ and who God has created us to be.

2Corinthians 4:4(NLT) says, “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.” Have you ever wondered why when one crazy thing happens, no sooner than you get it handled, another pops up right after it? Sometimes, it’s just one thing after another. Many people become so used to this bombardment of issues and problems, that they think this is the way God wants life to go. This isn’t true. 1Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not the author of confusion. He is a God of peace, and He desires us to live a peaceful existence, so that we can have peaceful fellowship in our relationship with Him.

If we submit to God, repent from our sins, and trust Him in faith, God will help us. When our trust is in Him, we can be courageous and refuse to walk in darkness any longer. God has given us victory through Jesus Christ, but we must walk in this victory.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to see the glorious light of the Good News of Jesus Christ. God wants us to know that Jesus Christ gave his life as a sacrifice for our sins so that we will saved from a life of bondage and darkness. Ephesians 5:8(NLT) tells us, “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” Heavenly Father created us to be children of His glorious light. If we allow it, His light will shine in our hearts and begin to produce good things in our lives.

It’s time out for not seeing the truth of who God has made us. Whether it is a spouse or significant other who doesn’t treat us well, when you and I don’t know the truth of God’s Word, the enemy can use people that are close to us to keep us blinded from the light of Christ. We must wake up and see it for what it is. Know that every decision you make to walk in your truest, highest self in Christ is a move towards the light. We were created by God to be free, and when we repent of our sins, seek God’s forgiveness, and read His Word more, our lives will be transformed. ■

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.

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 Wants Our Eyes Open”, written by Fran and Kyrene for 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!

Flip the Script and Increase Your Faith!

Mark 9 chronicles the record of a father who had a son that was possessed with a demon. We live in a time where many folks don’t like to believe there is such an entity as a demon, and they certainly don’t want to think about the possibility that humans can be possessed by them. But God’s Word is true, and our opinions and speculations are meaningless when it comes to the truth. As my grandmother would say, there’s a whole lot of folks on this planet, and many of them are full of the devil; they’re just very clever at disguising it. In the days that Jesus Christ walked the earth, people understood that everything is spiritual, so when the father approached our Master Jesus, this father with a young son understood that he needed a spiritual solution.

The boy and his father had made quite the spectacle that day, and Jesus Christ was very used to there being huge crowds wherever he went. He is charismatic, energetic, kind, gentle, compassionate, intelligent, and more powerful that we can fathom. When he walked the earth, people flocked to him like a magnet. They had great need, and if they had faith in him, their needs were met in a miraculous way. News of Jesus Christ spread quickly and wherever he went, the crowds expected great teaching, healing, and miracles.

Jesus Christ approached the crowd and inquired about all the ruckus. Mark 9:17-18(NLT) tells us, “17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” The father wanted to save his son and was desperate for help. He told Jesus Christ in Mark 9:22(NLT), “The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

It is extremely important for us to pay attention to the details of this account. As a parent, we can relate to the agony of seeing our children in pain, and we can imagine how badly the father wanted his son to be healed, but when he said to Jesus Christ, “IF you can…”, the father revealed that doubt was still calling the shots, and doubt is the enemy of all the blessings of God. So often, we trust the pain and misery the devil sends more than we trust the goodness, power, and willingness of God to bless us. Whether two thousand years ago or today, when doubt dominates our mindsets, the script must be flipped in order for God’s blessing to manifest. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing the truth about Jesus Christ. If the truth isn’t present, faith does not come.

Hebrews 11:6(NLT) tells us, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” God’s grace and mercy are never ending, but He is a Righteous Judge who never violates His law. In the systems of laws and governments that humans have produced, we hear all the time about judges and officials that are corrupt and manipulate the system of justice to serve their own interest of power and greed. Our God would never do this. His Word is His law, and it is incorruptible. Our Heavenly Father is beyond faithful to uphold the standards of justice He has set. So, when He tells us that it is impossible to please Him without faith, we have no other choice but to understand that faith in God is a requirement. It is the basis of our relationship with Him. Without it, it is impossible to please our God.

Jesus Christ showed us this in his response to this boy’s father in Mark 9:23-24(NLT). He said, “23 What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” So often we become desponded, disillusioned, and defeated in our minds because we’re up against incredible circumstances, but our believing is going in the opposite direction of faith. The boy’s father asked the Lord Jesus Christ to help him overcome his unbelief. This is the humility that unlocked the door for God to come into the situation and bring the miraculous.

Many of us assume we’re doing this faith walk the right way. When things don’t work out to our satisfaction, we immediately think that God isn’t cooperating with us, when the reality is that we’re not cooperating with God. We’re not getting in His Word daily, learning about Jesus Christ, and praying often. We’re not thinking and speaking what God thinks and speaks, and we’re not believing that God will do what He says in His Word. He keeps His promises. We have to change this, so that we flip the script, increase our faith, and renew our minds by changing the way we think. There doesn’t exist in all of time a substitute for having faith in God, and we don’t get to play at it. Faith in God through the Lord Jesus Christ is necessary to develop our relationship with Him. It allows us to respond to Heavenly Father with the gratitude, reverence, and love that He deserves. Faith is how we come near to God, and when we do, we demonstrate we believe that He exists, and this is something He promises to reward. ■

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.

“Flip the Script and Increase Your Faith!”, 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!

Bound or Loosed

Matthew 16:19(NLT)
“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

I went to a wedding of a dear friend last summer. As I watched this couple declare their devotion for the rest of their lives, I prayed that they would be able to stand strong through whatever would come their way. Over the holidays I spoke to my friend’s brother, and he said that the two of them were having a lot of problems. In his words, “All hell was breaking lose in their marriage.”  He believes it is because his brother is very egotistical and has anger issues. On the other hand, he said, “His wife is very needy and can’t seem to do anything without my brother’s permission.”

God created marriage to be the most rewarding and beautiful gift, but if we’re not spiritually mature, it can also be very challenging. Just about everyone that takes that walk down the aisle underestimates this. One of the most challenging aspects of marriage is dealing with the emotions of another person. At no time should one spouse ever disrespect the other, but situations will arise that can test our limits and stretch us beyond the point we ever thought possible. Most people that are married will attest to the reality that you see all sides to a person as you grow and become one. Sometimes you see things you couldn’t have imagined, even after knowing and dating your current spouse a while before you married.

God has given us the person of the Holy Spirit to dwell within our body temples. Jesus Christ told us in John 16:13 that the Spirit’s occupation is to comfort, teach, lead, and guide us according to the instruction he receives from Christ. Through His Spirit that indwells us, God will prepare us for marital partnership if we allow Him.

Ephesians 1:11 tells us that God predestined our existence even before the foundation of the world. Acts 17:26 tells us that He appointed the times of our births and the family that we would be born into. There isn’t anything about our lives God doesn’t know. He knows the person that is best suited to walk with us through life. The truth is that many of us don’t choose this person. Some of us fall in love with a person that hasn’t learned to love through Christ and has no intention of ever loving us in the way we deserve. To our disappointment and detriment, and because they haven’t learned a Christ kind of love and compassion, some of these individuals are abusive.

Heavenly Father does not want us in this kind of situation. He knows we’re not perfect and that we will get ourselves into trouble. This is why He tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6(NLT), “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”  This passage is one that every individual must have as their foundation.

Sometimes people cross the line and go way past the issue of carrying baggage. They resort to hurting those who love them most. This is evil, and when we’re in a situation that leads to this kind of bondage, many of us feel overwhelmed. We don’t know what to do, but God tells us exactly what to do and exactly what not to do in Proverbs 3:5-6. We don’t lean on our own understanding, but instead, we seek His Word to find out His Will, and we lean on Him to direct our paths.

In Matthew 16:19, Jesus Christ tells us that he’s given us the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. We have the keys to unlock doors that lead to all the abundance the Kingdom of God extends. These keys are in your possession. When you settle your mind and heart to use them, don’t attempt to walk down corridors that lead to where and who you used to be. You can never be that person again, but you can and should be the person God has destined you to become! You can be stronger and better through the love of God in Christ, and this is where you must place your confidence.

Don’t stay locked in a situation that undermines your right to walk in the liberty of Christ. Trust God with all your heart and seek His Will in all you do. When you use the keys according to His Word, you will loosen those things that keep you bound, and God will show you a way out. ■

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.

“Bound or Loosed”, written by KYada 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!

Practicing the Peace of God

Not long ago, a friend said to me that she’s rarely had occasions when she didn’t feel the gut-wrenching discomfort of fear churning away inside her. With everything that is going on in our world, she believes her fears are getting worse. She’s often heard folks speak about the peace of God, but she finds it very challenging to accept. My friend is afraid of everything, and much of her time is spent preparing for the worse. Many of us have been there, and some of us are still there. The anxious gnawing away inside us is the response to our fear of eminent danger, and it’s because we feel powerless to do anything about what we perceive to be a threat. Whether or not we can readily identify any immediate danger is irrelevant. Our internal register tells us that we’ve been wounded before, and we are in jeopardy of being wounded again.

Romans 8:37 declares that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us! The “more than” takes it over the moon for me, because it conveys overwhelming victory through Christ. A life filled with fear is operating in a whole other dimension than a life fully operating in Romans 8:37. It’s almost as if the two individuals, one trusting Christ and the other overwhelmed by fear, are on two different planets. Our fears, worries, and doubts do nothing to help any situation that arises, yet most of us gravitate towards these heavies more than we do towards faith in God through Jesus Christ.

The thing that I shared with my friend is that fear has a ravenous appetite. It doesn’t know how to take one bite. It just wants more and more and more. Anxiety and worry feed it and continue doing so until this cycle of feeding and wanting more takes over a person’s life. At some point, we have to get off this rollercoaster and realize that although it’s fast moving, it’s not getting us anywhere.

The peace of God is our destination, and there are certain choices and decisions it requires for the journey forward. The first of which is understanding that we’re not in charge of God’s peace. It isn’t something we calculate, manipulate, or ration. Fear makes us think that by feeding it, we have some degree of control. We don’t, and this mindset will not fly with the things of God. He is sovereign. This means that He’s in total control, and the only way that you and I can experience His blessings is through our humility. We must humble ourselves before all that He is. Fear is from the kingdom of darkness, and fear does not acknowledge that God is in control.

Another important choice we must make is that of no longer practicing fear. This is not to say that we must totally eradicate every drop of fear in our lives. From where we stand today, none of us are even totally conscious of how much fear and doubt is in our hearts. But to the extent that we are aware, we must focus our attention on God through the person of Jesus Christ and allow Him to do what only He can do in our lives.

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 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 have to be willing to surrender everything to God in prayer, understanding that our faith in Him through Jesus Christ is what transports us from chaos and confusion into His perfect peace. We cannot steer, and we don’t own the map. All we are required to do is to trust Heavenly Father and train the eyes of our hearts to continually look to the Lord, as we allow our souls to rest in His 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.

“Practicing the Peace of God”, 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!

Resurrection Power!

When the food in our refrigerators or kitchen cabinets is passed its expiration date, most of us will throw it out. We don’t think twice about it. Nor do we think too much about the expiration date until it dawns on us that maybe we’ve held on to something too long. The expiration date is an indication that holding on to stuff can cause harm. Having this date in small letters stamped on jars and labels is something many folks take for granted, but we should be thankful because these little dates are quite useful. Good health is a very wonderful thing to have, and we need all the help we can get to preserve it. So, those simple but useful expiration dates can be the difference between spending a day enjoying life or spending it doubled over with nausea, stomach cramps, or worse.  Many of us have been there and done that, and don’t want to do it again. It ain’t fun, and if we’re wise, when something is past its expiration date, we’ll throw the old stuff out because we understand that it’s harmful to our health and overall well-being.

It’s no secret that there are a lot of things in our lives that aren’t stamped, but they very definitely have passed their expiration date, and many of us have ignored it. There are relationships for instance, there are also people, attitudes, behaviors, and lots of other situations that we’re allowing to hang around way past their shelf life. We don’t often recognize how harmful they are to us until it’s too late. Why do we do it? Why do we allow things to remain a part of our lives when it’s pretty clear they’re driving us further away from God and the life He wants us to have? One of the reasons might be that we’re not convinced that if we let the wrong things go, the right ones will show up.

Not only does this fear come to the surface when it involves relationships and people, but it pops up in the behaviors and attitudes we hold as well. In fact, fear cleverly hides away in our thoughts and attitudes, and it gets fuel from our behaviors and deeds. God has given us instruction in His Word for handling this. Through the Apostle Paul, He tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24 (NLT), “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” People these days don’t like hearing about the ‘old sinful nature’. Many preachers don’t talk about it because folks get angry when they’re confronted with their sin. They like the nice flowery stuff, but God’s truth and standard is the greatest treasure of anything in existence, and He wants us to throw out the stuff that is past its expiration date and isn’t good for His plan for our lives.

The stuff that’s past its expiration date is the stuff that Jesus Christ nailed to the cross. The gossiping, backbiting, jealousy, resentment, rage, arrogance, lying, cheating, and all the other heavies that harden our hearts and keep our souls weighted down. Some of the people that have attached themselves to us are feeding off this old nature part of us. They have no interest in spiritually growing in Christ themselves and feel most comfortable when we’re turning our backs on it as well.

2Corinthians 5:17(NLT) tells us “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Our time on earth is the only opportunity that we will have to make an extremely consequential choice. Either we will remain blind and continue to indulge those things that hold us back, or we will embrace the new person we were created to be. It’s up to us to realize that the old life is gone, and to stop reaching back to old dead things that are way past their expiration date.

As the time approaches to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we must remember that he gave his life on the cross so that we could be made whole through his love. He took all our sins upon himself and paid the price we could not pay. 1John 4:10(NLT) says, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Our precious Lord and Savior got up from the grave with all power in his hands, and all the suffering and sin was left behind. That’s where we should leave it.

Often the suffering and discomfort that we experience in life is because we haven’t left the old stuff behind. We’re trying to make it come alive again, and that’s not a workable strategy. Our Heavenly Father has told us what works for a life made brand new. It is to throw off the old sinful nature and all its cousins. Then, we are to make our minds new by flooding them with God’s Word. As we celebrate the resurrection power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let’s remember that God has given us a fresh start, and we ought to take 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.

“Resurrection Power!”, 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!

Can You Turn Your Life Around?

Jesus Christ said in Matthew 19:26 that with God, all things are possible. This is extraordinarily good news! The words of Jesus Christ should break through the haze of doubt and sadness that many people have been walking around with for years, but they feel hopeless, as if nothing and no one can lift them up. When the hiccups and mishaps of life just keep coming, one after another, our enthusiasm for the possibilities that life holds can get buried under layers of emotional stuff, so much so that we don’t know or can’t find the path to joy anymore. Instead, sadness and numbness become the way we move through our days. Some of us are so used to not feeling anything other than sadness and numbness that we think it’s just a part of our personality now, when in truth, it’s a wall. We put it up to try to protect ourselves from getting hurt and to shield ourselves from the pain of experiencing yet another disappointment.

Nehemiah 8:10(NLT) says, “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” Many people have heard this verse but don’t understand it. Is it that we’re to be joyful because God is our Creator? Should we have joy because of what He did for us through His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross? Does God have joyfulness, and does it make us strong? The answer to all these questions is a resounding ‘yes!’. But it isn’t enough to agree with the answer, Heavenly Father wants us to live the answer, and He is ever willing to help us do so.

Jesus Christ said in John 10:10(NLT), “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 came to the earth to give us life, and not just life, but life more abundantly. He is letting us know that life on earth isn’t always peachy, because we’ve got a spiritual enemy that will go for the jugular. Our Master Jesus doesn’t sugarcoat the truth but tells us straightforwardly that the devil’s mission is to steal, kill, and destroy; and he’s not messing around. But Jesus Christ also tells us that we shouldn’t lay down and become the enemy’s doormat. We weren’t created to be continually tricked, manipulated, and influenced by darkness. And in this, we can have joy! We were created to be victorious in every way so that we receive all that God has in store for us.

There’s a better way! Knowing this doesn’t take all our sadness and numbness away. We may not feel like skipping through fields of daisies, but the truth of God’s goodness is a seed that must be planted in our consciousness in order that we might have hope. 2Thessalonians 2:16-17(NLT) says, “16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, 17 comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.” We need to be confident that our Father God and the Lord Jesus Christ love us, and with their love there’s hope, because they are committed to help us through anything that we might be facing.

As Christians, we’re called to be realist, and truth is reality. God has all power in His hands, and all things are possible with Him. This is the truth! You and I are called to have faith, hope, and love. Through the Apostle Paul, God tells us in 1Timothy 6:12(NLT), “Fight the good fight for the true faith.” This means we must be fully invested in the practice of totally leaning on God for everything. This is what faith is, it’s totally leaning on Heavenly Father to take care of all our needs; this is the kind of relationship He desires with us, and He tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that this total dependence on Him is what pleases Him.

It’s not that God isn’t seeing the challenges and difficulties we face in life. He does. We need Him to move in our situations, but He needs us to have faith in Him. And sometimes, when we trust Him, things don’t get better right away. This is where hope makes its grand entrance and the faith muscle gets a workout. You and I might not be able to see the future, but we can hope for a good future because that’s what God promises. So, we have to trust in what we can’t see. Even though at times we might feel like the bottom of someone’s shoe, we have to take authority in Jesus Christ, and let God’s Word have the final say and not our emotions. It doesn’t mean that we don’t feel some type of way, but we must turn to God, continue to trust Him, and our emotions will begin to follow.

God is indeed a joyful God. He delights in blessing us, and He commands us to delight in Him. Delighting in God is our strength because it means we are coming in agreement with the truth of His sovereignty and divinity. We have no strength to call our own. 2Corinthians 3:5 teaches us that our sufficiency comes from God. So, as much as we think we are, you and I are not in control. Life proves this to us every day. Psalm 24:1(NLT) declares, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” Heavenly Father wants you to succeed in life, and you can turn your life around if you are willing to place all your trust in Him.■

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

“Can You Turn Your Life Around?”, 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!

Making A Faith Move When It’s Dangerous

We had been staying at my grandmother’s house for a few weeks, and I was both relieved and terrified. My father thought it was just a temporary thing. We had done this lots of times before, when my mother was too weak and emotionally exhausted from his abuse. She’d threaten to leave him, and we’d retreat to my grandmother’s. She’d rest physically and emotionally, and we always went back. I was familiar with the drill, but this time was different. We had stayed longer than any other time before, and my father was becoming agitated.

Determined to make a new start for us all, my mother had planned to move us to another state to get away from her abuser. Her cousin, notorious for partying and drinking on the weekends, got drunk and told someone of my mother’s plan to leave my father for good. Being a small town where everyone talks, it wasn’t long before my father got wind of it.

The plan was that my mother would leave first to secure a place for us to stay and then send for my siblings and me. Her ticket was purchased, but my father started digging and found out the details of her late-night flight. That evening, my aunts and grandmother gathered, and I remember them being unusually quiet. My aunt would go to the front door and peek through its small window to check periodically. My sweet respite in times of trouble was now a battlefield, and the soldiers were preparing for war. The energy was extremely tense, and my heart was in my stomach. I was accustomed to stress and worry, but I was more concerned for my mom’s safety than I had ever been before. My father had a gun, and I did not doubt that he would use it.

My mom’s cousins had been on the lookout for my dad’s movement, and when one of them met my aunt at the door, I could tell something was going down. I then heard a couple of cars parking inconspicuously as my aunts moved into position. My mother had been told to remain in the backroom with the ‘youngins’ while my aunts handled everything, and she knew they would. They were not strangers to abusers and were prepared to do whatever it took to make sure we would be okay and that my mom got on that plane.

I heard my father’s car as it raced around the sharp curve in the road nearby and stopped mid street, in front of my grandmother’s house. In those days, children were not allowed to witness or speak about the things happening before my eyes, but for whatever reason, maybe because I was the eldest of my mother’s children, I had been allowed to be a silent and shocked observer. When I heard the tussling at the door, it felt as if I had left my body. My mind couldn’t absorb what was happening. There was horrible profanity and threats, and I put my hands over my ears.

My father had encountered a force he had not anticipated. He began to whine, and I felt faint. I knew that if my mother heard his diminished rage, she’d acquiesce. Oh, how I didn’t want that. The instincts that only couples intertwined can share must have kicked in. My mother abandoned her post, and the next thing I knew, she was standing at the door, in front of my father. This time, she did not yield, but held tightly to what strength she had. Outnumbered, my father tore off in his monte carlo, and my aunts and cousins stood watch until my mom departed for the airport.

It took a village to give us a start to a new life, and they put themselves in harm’s way to do it. I was forever changed by this event, and I learned a lot about faith and courage. We all fight in different ways and at different times, but the truth is that we must do exactly that, fight! Our lives are worth fighting for, but we must be smart and strategic about how we do it, and we cannot do it well without faith and trust in God. We must lean on His wisdom and guidance.

Jesus Christ commands us in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God.” This isn’t a suggestion. It is a requirement for living life. Faith in God is the foundation that gives us the courage to move when it’s time to do so. Our Lord and Savior also tells us in Matthew 19:26 that with God all things are possible. The mind-and-heart-set of any person being abused must be strengthened in the reality that freedom from the bondage of abuse is God’s Will for them. And not only this, but God will make freedom from the clutches of an abuser possible if you place your trust in Him through Jesus Christ.

God tells us in Romans 8:28 that He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Living in an environment where there’s domestic violence and abuse is dangerous. There can be no doubt about it, but a commitment to the practice of prayer and to lean on the Lord Jesus Christ will turn what seemed impossible into the miracle we need.

There’s a saying that “God will keep you if you want to be kept.” Some individuals that are being abused do not want to be kept by God’s love, strength, and power. It’s possible they’ve not come to a place of believing that through Jesus Christ, they can fight for their lives and win. Please know, that if you are being abused, God desires to keep, preserve, and protect your life. Never doubt His ability to help you make a faith move to be released from an abusive situation. He has unlimited resources, those that we can’t even imagine. Let the Lord help and guide you, so that when it’s time for you to make a faith move in a dangerous situation, you have the courage and strength to see it through. ■

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.

“Making A Faith Move When It’s Dangerous”, 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!