Deceived by Our Own Hearts

One of the most troubling patterns in a woman’s life is not recognizing when her own vulnerabilities are causing her to miss the mark. I’m reminded of someone that I know who, from outwardly appearances, looks like one of the strongest persons you’ll ever meet. Everything about her seems put together, and I’ve visited her home, it’s equally fierce. Beautiful furniture, impeccably arranged, and every room is spotless. She’s a very successful attorney with a penchant for younger men, and no matter how apparent the signs appear to be, she never suspects their infidelity or the fact that she’s being used for her money.

In the case of her current boyfriend, I’m personally convinced that he cares for her, but there have been numerous events that would have caused the average sister to turn him loose months ago. She hasn’t, and it’s troubling to witness. It’s not a good situation. When questioned about her choices, she says, “The heart wants what it wants.” Ain’t that the truth. That’s exactly why God warns us in Proverbs 4:23 (NLT), “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” To guard is to watch over in order to protect or control. The heart is a part of the soul, and God has charged us with the responsibility to watch over and protect it. He knows that our propensity is to allow our hearts to not only make our decisions and choices, but to rule over them as well. This governing position belongs to Christ. Only he is capable of always steering us in the right direction.

Guarding our hearts not only involves what we allow to flow out of it, but also what we allow to come into it. Jesus Christ said in Luke 6:45(NLT), “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” This verse informs us that the heart has a treasury. It has storage capability, and sometimes it has some unnecessary and unhelpful baggage. All of us are works in progress, and part of our soul-work is to come clean to Heavenly Father about our stuff.

God has given us a mission in life. It requires our understanding of what He’s asking us to do, as well as our commitment to do it. Within our mission to please God and grow in Christ, there are certain tasks that we unequivocally must do, and confronting our baggage so we can get rid of it is one of them.

Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that we can be deceived by our own hearts, because our hearts can and do at times lead us astray. Our human hearts can cause us to veer off the path that God wants us to be on. 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.” God knows our futures. He knows the person that is best for the path that He has purposed and laid before us.

We should never allow the fear of loneliness to undermine our relationship with God and cause us to betray our own destiny within His plan and will. God wants the best for us, and when it is clear that we don’t have it, or that what we have isn’t building us up but tearing us down, then we must examine our hearts. Because if we’re trying to hold on to something that is harmful to our souls, fear is running the show. Whenever that happens, the outcome might cause us to look the part of someone who has it all together, but deep down, we’re falling apart, and we need God’s love to heal our wounded places.

We’ve probably all encountered a friend that doesn’t want to admit the truth to herself, and it might feel as though we’re not able to help, but prayer is the very best help we can offer. It’s a privilege to pray for them in faith. We should also let their examples remind us to put our own vulnerabilities in check, so that we can continually obey God’s Word and produce good things from the treasury of our hearts.■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Deceived by Our Own Hearts” written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2017. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Let It Go

The world is filled with chaos, and we would all do ourselves a huge favor by cultivating a relationship with someone who doesn’t add to it. For some of us, this is a tall order, because we have an underlying belief that draws chaos into our lives. This isn’t God’s Will for us, and it is very important that we know this truth. Heavenly Father is a God of order. 1Corinthians 14:33 informs us that He’s not the author of confusion, and 1Thessalonians 5:23 tells us that He’s a God of peace. He gives every individual the option of introducing His peace into their lives. To do this, sometimes we must let some things go.

Ephesians 1:3 (NKJV) declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”  This is an amazing reality! Through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father has blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings. ‘ALL’ means all. Colossians 2:10 (NKJV) tells us, “and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” God has made us complete in Christ. Through him, we are a total spiritual package. It is absolutely available for us to walk in this, but we know that not all of us will choose to walk in what God has made available.

In Ephesians 4:24, Heavenly Father admonishes us to put on the new man. This means that we have to put on new thoughts, new attitudes, and new behaviors that line up with our new reality in Christ. We can’t be the same people we were two years ago, two months ago, or two weeks ago. God gives us a chance for renewal every 24 hours, and it is up to us whether or not we’ll make use of it. He reminds us daily that this earth is not our home, we’re just passing through. We’re interdimensional beings because our physical bodies are on earth, but our hearts and minds should be constantly at home in Christ.

Some of us might ask ourselves, “With all the spiritual blessings we have received through Christ, why does life have to be so challenging?”  God doesn’t intend for His children to be the devil’s punching bag. He doesn’t want us to go through life constantly in a state of ducking and diving, but we cannot under any circumstances escape the reality that we’re here on this earth to learn lessons about the love of Christ. We are here to walk in partnership with God, to place our hand in His hand so that He can lead, guide, and direct us through the rocky terrain of our challenges. Our spiritual lessons are revealed in literally walking out our hand-in-hand relationship with God daily, but far too many of us are not focusing on walking with Him. Instead, we’re clinging to people, situations, addictions, or things. We’re holding these things too tightly, so the spiritual lessons we must learn are often about release and surrender.

Spiritual lessons not learned will always be on repeat; that’s part of God’s masterful design. If we don’t learn spiritual lessons the first time, situations and circumstances continue to circle back and present those lessons until we do. Sometimes, when they circle back, the consequences of not learning them are a little harsher than before. So, we would do well to open our eyes, be attentive to the Spirit, and learn the lessons that are before us. But the truth is that it often takes us a while to wake up. This is why my constant prayer is that Heavenly Father will help me to see what I need to see, in an effort to learn my lessons well.

God cosigns the overwhelming importance of spiritual lessons through the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 5:11-14 The Message (MSG). It says, “I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.”

Jesus Christ is the head of our lives. He wants to make them function with a harmony we simply couldn’t achieve without him. He starts us off with baby’s milk, but love will require us to digest the meatier, weightier nourishment of spiritual life. Lessons that require us to release those things that no longer serve us well are solid food, because they give us the strength to reach out and embrace the things that will propel us forward, with greater wisdom, love, and faith.

God is our sufficiency. He’s everything to us and we can’t do anything without Him. Jesus Christ commands us in Matthew 6:33 to seek God first and live righteously, so that we can remain covered by His blessings and protection. We can’t get this prioritization piece mixed up. We must not prioritize anything above our God. He will forever and always deserve the number one spot. Only the Lord can lead us to a life of endless possibilities, but it will require us to surrender totally to him. We must let go of anything that keeps us from growing in Christ. If we’ll be committed to do this, Jesus will help us kick the fear of discomfort to the curb, then we can be renewed continually as God’s love fills our empty spaces.

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 “Let It Go” written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2017. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

The Basics of Life-101

Ephesians 2:10(NLT) is one of my all-time favorite verses in the bible. It says, “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.” For individuals with pretty good self-esteem, this verse might not resonate as deeply for them as it does for me. Don’t get me wrong, growing up I had a lot of love in my life, I just didn’t learn to channel it into loving myself. Instead, I felt like one big mistake waiting to happen, and disappointment seemed to be my constant companion. I never believed that anything wonderful would happen for me, and I spent a good deal of time expecting the worse. To say that viewing myself as a masterpiece was a stretch is putting it mildly.

One day, someone told me that I needed to see myself the way that God sees me. I’d like to say that this statement was the epiphany of all epiphanies, and that a lightbulb lit up in my head, but I wouldn’t be telling the truth. I heard the words. They lightly landed on my consciousness; then I dismissed them and moved on in my usual camouflaged, yet predictable gloominess. But you see, that’s the thing about the Word of God. Its truth is so massive, that sometimes we can only take the impact in small doses.

In Isaiah 55:11 (NLT), God tells us, “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” So while I was struggling, trying to find my way, the Word of God that I had heard was working on my heart bit by bit. Heavenly Father had a plan for my life, just as He has one for yours. The Holy Spirit helped me to create a space in my mind and heart to begin to believe that God would work through me to accomplish His purpose.

God’s plan is the foundation of all things. We don’t see this when we’re licking our wounds, and trying to figure out how to press our own agendas forward. We all want things to work out, but we look at everything in our worlds, and sometimes it all seems like mush; nothing is as it should be. The wisdom of Proverbs 19:21 (NLT) teaches us, “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Nothing is more important than God’s plan; this is ‘The Basics of LIFE-101.’ It is an unyielding and inflexible reality, and if we try to go against it, we’re going to come out with the short end of the stick. This is why Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 6:33 to seek God first, because seeking Him first guarantees a blessed outcome.

Some people have a vision of God sitting in heaven, waiting to put the hammer down when anyone violates His laws. God’s Word is the preeminent authority. John 1:1(NLT) tells us, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father set things in motion through His Word a very long time ago. He spoke, and the universe obeyed. He created it, put it in perfect working order, and then rested. There’s nothing more to be done. His Word works with a mathematical precision. He has orchestrated the universe in such a way that it works with us when we work with it. When we obey and honor God’s Word, harmony is achieved. He set up the system to respond beautifully to our obedience.

And He doesn’t hit us over the head with it. Life does this on ‘automatic.’ After a pat, a thump, and then finally a knock upside the head from the situations of life; some of us will realize that our circumstances are broadcasting a message, and we need to wake up before it’s too late. That’s what happened to me. I knew deep in my gut that I was out of place. Every day felt like an out-of-body experience, like someone else was living my life, because it wasn’t the life I was supposed to live. It wasn’t the way destiny feels.

Life’s lessons are on repeat. If we don’t learn them, they continue cycling back around until we do. One of the most obvious and consequential of those lessons is how important we are to God, and how important it is that we get into position and begin to play our parts in His plan. He tells us in Romans 8:28 (NLT), “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Nothing about us is random. We’re uniquely created by Him, and we have a purpose—a calling to fulfill. It is so rewarding to watch our lives come together when we finally get a clue that God is waking us up so we can get on board with His agenda.■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“The Basics of Life-101” written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2017. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Making A Change

When is it convenient to make a change? Most of us would answer “Never!” But a fact of life is that nothing stays the same. Many of us are seemingly deluged with an avalanche of problems. One of the reasons for this is that the engine of life moves vigorously forward, but we get stuck in neutral. It’s why the word ‘destiny’ is such an important one. Change for change’s sake may bring about some positive things, but change for the sake of walking in one’s destiny is literally altering the trajectory of a person’s life. God has planted the wake-up calls for this kind of change in our everyday lives. We need to make sure that our eyes are wide open so that we don’t miss them.

When it comes to making a change in our personal lives, there are two primary areas that are involved, our mindset and actions. We have a way of thinking that we’ve cultivated over our lifetimes, so our thoughts stem from a mindset developed through experiences and influences that have impacted us. If we’re keeping it real with ourselves, some of this is faulty programming. It leads to making poor decisions, wrong choices, and bad judgement calls. It isn’t always easy to admit this, but there can be no growth without an acknowledgement of error, and a desire to become better and stronger individuals.

1Thessalonians 5:5(NLT) tells us, “For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.” Darkness is synonymous with ignorance, and ignorance is not God’s Will for His kids. Many times, in His Word He makes it plain that He doesn’t want His people to be ignorant, and in Hosea 4:6, He tells us the reason why. He said that His people are destroyed because they lack knowledge. Many of us are asleep, and the devil will try to keep us this way. He doesn’t want us to be awaken to the enlightenment of Christ, because when we are, the lights come on and we begin to understand who God has made us. That’s when we really become dynamos for God’s Kingdom, and the enemy wants to stop this at all costs.

Through the Apostle Paul, God tells us in Ephesians 4:22(NIV), “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;” This is how we embrace the person that God wants us to be. We have to take off some old stuff and make room, so that we can put on the new and better stuff. This is the process of an elevated life. We can’t be the same people we were two years ago, two months ago, or two weeks ago. We’re to always grow and abound in Christ. This means that there are going to be those lightbulb moments when we realize that we’ve got some junk in our trunks, and we need to deal with it because it’s weighing us down and keeping us from the blessings God wants us to have.

You may not realize the things that you need to change, but the Holy Spirit is God’s gift living on the inside of you; he knows exactly what you need to change. You see, when we become stuck in the same routine, the same toxic relationships, the same drama, the same set of circumstances day in and day out, our vision becomes very limited. In a way, we are blinded by sameness, and we begin to think and act based on our limited view.  Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) tells us “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If we think about life without the benefit of believing in destiny and newness, we begin to draw to us the things we don’t want instead of what we want.

Many of us bypass the astounding wisdom revealed by Heavenly Father in Proverbs 23:7, but that is a big mistake. Heavenly Father created us in His own image. He is a creative God and we are a creative people. He has given us the incredible gift to change our circumstances by changing the way that we think and act. We’re not going to change every negative thing about ourselves in our lifetimes, but to the extent that we are not fulfilling our destinies in Christ and not accessing the life God intends for us, we need to draw closer to Him and make ‘change’ one our new best friends. Again, we may not know what we need to change about ourselves. We may not know what is blocking us from moving forward and going higher in Christ, but God knows, and if we’ll ask, He’ll tell us. ■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

“Making A Change” written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2017. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!