1 Corinthians 13:7-8(NLT) “7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!”
I was driving home one day after work to meet my husband. Within the span of 30 minutes, he had called at least ten times to check up on me. He knew I left at 4pm every day, and if I wasn’t pulling up in the driveway by 4:30pm, I was sure to hear his mouth. I naively thought this was his way of showing his love. The real truth is that he was so insecure within himself that it blocked his ability to truly trust me.
At that time in my life, I believed I had a good relationship with God, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand why He had allowed me to be married to such an insecure man. The mental and emotional pressure of having someone on my back every day about my whereabouts was way too taxing on me…I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I found myself dreading to come home.
If my husband was home when I arrived, he’d drill me about my day for the first ten minutes. It became a very tense thing for me because I had to be so careful not to say anything that would lead to more questions and accusations. I was always on pins and needles, never knowing if the simplest statement I’d make would anger him to the point of physically attacking me. Pain, fear, and insecurity became my companions for the duration of our marriage.
I remember reading the passage in 1Corinthians 13:7-8 which teaches us about how love behaves. At first, it made me very sad to read this passage, because I didn’t have this kind of love in my marriage. As I thought about it more, I became so angry with myself for having married this man. Just as God didn’t stop Adam and Eve from making a catastrophic bad choice, He didn’t stop me from doing the same thing. We get to choose the path we will take and decide if we’ll claim our destiny in Christ or walk the path of our own making. I had chosen my own path, and it wasn’t the right choice for my life, but I refused to give up hope. Heavenly Father has given us life through His Word. We can change our course in life, begin to walk in His wisdom, and learn to make better choices.
It took a while, but I began reading more and more of God’s Word, and did so whenever I found myself in despair. His love kept me going. My appeal to anyone going through what I described is that you never give up hope in God through the Lord Jesus Christ. It was only with the help of God that I made it through an abusive marriage. Know that He will do the same for you. Continue to pray, and He will give you the strength you need. Never stop believing in the dream of a life of peace and wholeness.■
The infallible, unchangeable nature of truth has an impact. Our Great Redeemer clarifies very straightforwardly that truth is effectual, and one of its most important effects is to set us free. We know it to be most important because Christ made a point to teach us this. He is the truth! Jesus Christ is the living Word of God, and he was resurrected from the dead by the Spirit of God. He is alive, and he is our example and Big Brother. When we believe this, the outcome is freedom! But in this foundational verse of John 8:32, Jesus also says something else that is crucial to our understanding. It’s the piece that causes many people to deny the treasure and completely walk away from it. Jesus said, “and you will know the truth.” The ‘knowing’ is the part in the machinery of life that transfers us out of bondage and keeps us continually parked in freedom’s space.
The thing about most of us humans is that we know what we know, we like what we know, and we don’t want to know anything different. This is a habit we won’t even think about changing unless we are forced to. Believe it or not, it’s the reason for many of the challenges and difficulties we face in life. We dismiss the reality that lessons are baked in. They are standard with life’s packaging. When we hold so tightly to negative or wrong thought patterns, our hearts are not as fertile with humility as they should be. Ignorance can then keep us bound.
Adam, the first human, became a living soul when God breathed the breath of life into his body. 1Corinthians 15:45(NLT) says, “But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit.” Most people look for life outside the life-giving Spirit of Christ. This is ignorance. They look for it in man-made structures, images, and things. They look for it in people, relationships, substances, and money. They seek to worship the creation and not the Creator, big mistake.
In John 14:6(NLT), Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus Christ is everything! And he lives inside us. This means that through us, the Spirit of life seeks full expression, and its fullest expression is truth. Going against this will give us plenty of hiccups. In John 16:13, Jesus Christ said the Spirit’s chief occupation is to guide us into ALL truth. It is critical that we allow the enormity of what this means to our existences to sink in our hearts. Life belongs to the Spirit of the Living God. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, He has made life and all it’s abundance available to us, but we cannot control it, manipulate it, or make it something that it wasn’t created by God to be. Life moves according to the order of the Divine. And the Divine has made it a prerequisite that knowing the truth of life is necessary for freedom.
Outside of truth, there is bondage, there is darkness; there is ignorance and neglect. God said in Hosea 4:6(NKJV), “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” There is a curse that comes with a refusal to know the truth. We will find that ultimately, very little will partner in kind with us when we reject the truth, because it is a rejection of our own identity—the purpose for which we were created.
God designed everything in the universe to cooperate beautifully with His purpose. When you and I are operating outside of this purpose, He doesn’t squash us, He teaches us. His teaching method often feels like tough love and discipline, but we should expect no less from a loving and powerful Father. It is tough in our way of thinking because many of us have been blinded by satan, and he has caused us to think God doesn’t love us. Heavenly Father loves us way more than we can ever love ourselves. And that’s why He wants so very much to set us free. He doesn’t want us to be in the dark, and that’s what domestic violence and abuse is all about, it’s an attempt to keep us in darkness.
And it’s not just domestic violence and abuse, but all the troubles and confusion in life, they can make us feel trapped and alone, but this isn’t the truth. We are never alone, and the Father is always with us. He wants to rescue us, so we’ll know the truth of His love, liberty, and light. When we accept chaos and tribulations as the reality we are meant to live, we are accepting a lie. Let’s reject the lie and embrace the truth. We were meant to walk in the liberty Jesus Christ has made available to us. Colossians 3:3 tells us that our real life is hidden with Christ in God; for this is the place where truth abides. Darkness and trouble exist where God’s Word is not believed or known, but we can change this, and we should. All we need to do is to ask Him to guide our lives. He will do it because He loves us, and He created us to be guided by His truth. ■
Heavenly Father has given us the gift of free-will, and we can use it however we choose. We make our own decisions and choices, and this freedom is birthed from God’s love. 1John 4:16 tells us a whole lot about God’s identity. It tells us that God is love. Love is not only what He does, it is who He is. Because of this pattern the Father has demonstrated by giving us free-will, we can know definitively that love does not withhold the choices of right and wrong or good and evil. In the beginning, when God created Adam, He commanded that Adam should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but God did not remove the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from the garden.
The access to do those things that would harm his relationship with God was not restricted. Heavenly Father wanted Adam to honor Him as his sovereign God and to continue treasuring their relationship, but this was Adam’s choice to make. Heavenly Father will not force us to love Him. He didn’t create us to be robots. He created us because He wanted a family. He made us in His image because He wanted children to love.
Many of us hang on to relationships and situations because we tell ourselves that we can make it right or make it better. The proverb Jesus spoke in Luke 4:23 comes to mind, ‘Physician, heal thyself.” It is a delusion to think we can make anything truly better when we will not seek to make our own souls better. In Luke 6:41(NLT), Jesus Christ asked the poignant question, “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” Many of us trap ourselves in a vicious negative cycle because we’ve refused to deal with the log. We can become so invested in a relationship that we lose ourselves in it, and therefore can’t see things for what they really are.
Unknowingly, many of us will use the person in our significant relationships to feed something within us that shouldn’t grow. This isn’t always easily identified, and the notion of it is very often rejected. But if abuse has been in our backgrounds, it is possible that we’re carrying fear in our hearts, and we’re using the relationship as a Band-Aid. Unconsciously, we may be allowing this fear to call the shots. Jesus has the solution for this, and it requires us to be humble enough to ask him for it.
Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:21 that wherever our treasure is, that’s where our hearts will be also. We don’t want to be treasuring fear or treasuring the person that keeps us in it. Our hearts belong to God, and He has given us His precious Holy Spirit to help us root out fear, so that no part of us is ruled by it. Fear cannot bring us anything but heartache and disruption, and this isn’t the way God wants us to live. Jesus Christ said in John 10:10 that he came to give us access to a more than abundant life, and if we choose to lean on his love, we’ll gain the spiritual strength to give fear its walking papers.■
Love is not hard. 1Corinthians 13:4-5 tells us that it is patient and kind, that it’s not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love doesn’t demand its own way and doesn’t get mileage out of someone else’s mistakes. Love doesn’t have to prove itself by supreme acts of devotion or self-sacrifice. That would be bondage, and it would not exemplify the liberty that Christ made available to us. God has freed us through Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father warns us in Galatians 5:1 to never allow anyone or anything to put us in prison again.
Contrary to what others believe, love is predictable. It’s not erratic or obsessive, and it doesn’t behave out of step with God’s nature. God is love. Just as God doesn’t need anyone or anything to be what He is, love does not require us to subtract or add to it to be what God intended love to be. It doesn’t force, so wherever there exists a need to pressure or forcibly pull out of someone something they have not willingly and lovingly chosen to give, we have stepped out of love and into fear.
We make idols of other people, substances, money, and material things because we think they will fill the void in our lives. There can be no mistake in owning the reality that humans were created with the aptitude to worship because worshiping is such an important part of our relationship with God. Worship increases intimacy with Him, but worship is meant for God alone. So, it stands to reason that we’d be in dangerous territory to take what God intended for Himself and give it to someone or something that pales in comparison to the magnitude of all that God is. But this is exactly what many of us do, and it causes hiccups of the soul.
The nurses in my family tell me that, in the physical sense, hiccups are involuntary bursts caused by the contraction of the diaphragm. This contraction causes a closure in the vocal cords, and it makes a ‘hic’ sound. It’s an interruption in the normal way we breathe and can be prompted by many conditions. Because of this interruption in normal breathing, we use this word ‘hiccups’ metaphorically to describe situations that cause interruptions to life as we define or know it. This is also a good way to describe what can happen to the soul. Our souls have a breath, and just as our bodies hiccup, so do our souls.
In Proverbs 4:23(NLT), God tells us, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” This verse makes it very clear that we live from the inside out, and not the outside in. It also reveals that God has placed the responsibility of guarding the heart, which is part of the soul, in our hands. We are the protectors of our souls, and we need help to do it right. Many people are not aware of this, and they are also not aware of what their soul needs. Like the physical body, the soul requires a proper diet in order to remain in a place of wholeness and to continue to be well nourished.
Anything that needs to be fed will also have a hunger. The soul hungers for the very thing from which it was created, love. When we meet someone that we believe has the capacity to feed us, the guardrails come down, and we will latch on to them in hopes that they will latch on to us. Just as Ashley did with Derek, we allow them a place in our souls. And even though they present conditions that cause hiccups, or they are no longer interested in feeding us, some of us will attempt to maintain that connection at all costs. Why? Why do we ignore the warning signs and continue to put our souls at risk? Most of us do it because the pain and suffering of detaching from a soul connection can be devastating.
Many of us indulge junk food from time to time. Even though we know it’s not the best or most nutritious food, we eat it because we crave the taste. After we’ve eaten it, we might feel just as full and satisfied as we would have if we had eaten a nutritious meal. We didn’t get the nutrients our bodies needed, but it tasted good and the damage isn’t immediate, so we don’t think about it too much. If we persist in this behavior, it’s only a matter of time before the hiccups begin. Sooner or later, they will turn into a much larger problem, because it is inevitable that a malnourished soul connection will end in heartbreak.
Few of us have ever realized just how deep our love for someone can go. Heartbreak bears this out. It also allows us to see the connection between our souls and our physical beings. The emotions and feelings of heartbreak can exhaust us; the soul feels almost breathless and this can translate to actual physical illness. The link between the soul and the body is one of the major indications that the care of the soul is monumental to a flourishing existence. When the soul breathes deeply from extreme jubilance, it is nourished in an indescribable way, but when heartbreak forces it to breathe deeply, the very core of our being can be ruptured. When this happens, it is very important to recognize that we’re not broken because the person failed to feed us what we needed. We’re heartbroken because we have come face to face with the possibility of life without connection.
Heartbreak forces us to experience a void, and a void can be the most painful thing in all of creation to experience. It is nothingness, the feeling of being in a perpetual state of falling, with never a bottom in sight. Fear is birthed from this place, because you are conscious of falling and you are panicking because of it. It is horrific, and it is why obsession can find its way to take root, because many of us will do just about anything to stop the pain of separation, chasing desperately after the person that once fed us junk food.
The thing with us is that we recognize that any ol’ connection won’t do. We want it with someone we’ve deemed compatible and to our liking. They have to make our heartstrings sing, and if they do, we let the guardrails down and give them a seat at the table. At some point, we will have to wake up to the reality that this is a very self-punishing exercise. What’s crucial is for us to decide if we’re going to believe the truth about the soul. The truth is that it wasn’t created to receive food from another human being. It was created to respond to God’s love. He nourishes the soul through His Spirit.
Genesis 1:2(NKJV) says “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” During the time of this verse, the earth was not as we see it today. It didn’t have structure, and it was dark and void. The earth was in tremendous pain, because everything that is in darkness and void is in pain. Hope entered the picture when the Spirit of God hovered. The power of the Spirit of God takes nothingness and makes a masterpiece. This is what God wants to do to our lives through His Son, Jesus Christ.He tells us in Romans 12:1-2 to bring our everyday ordinary lives before Him as an offering, and then we must embrace Him. As we change the way we think, and begin to think like Christ, God will transform us from the inside out.
It is very true that sometimes we must experience the pain of heartbreak to appreciate the blessings in life. The break can make a crack just wide enough for God’s love to get in. Jesus Christ said in Revelations 3:20(NLT), “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” He stands at the door knocking, but it is up to us to open our hearts and let him in: to let his love into that crack so it can be healed.
If we let the Lord Jesus Christ in, it will be the absolute best thing we could possibly do for ourselves. Jesus Christ rescued us from that perpetual state of falling and reconnected us to Heavenly Father, but heartbreak can reveal the degree to which we are still looking for a human being to do what only God can do. Heavenly Father wants us to love others, because this is His commandment, but we are not to offer ourselves as sacrifices to other humans, and we are not to depend on anything other than God’s love to nourish our souls. The very best thing we can do is surrender Lordship of our souls to Jesus Christ and then allow his Spirit to help us guard them. ■
For those suffering domestic violence and abuse, or who have endured it in the past, this time of such global unrest may be causing even more anxiety and fear. The sheer magnitude of all this confusion and chaos coupled with that in one’s own home can be the impetus for total break-down, but this break-down can be avoided. It should be all our prayers, that those who are continually in harm’s way will allow the strong tower of God’s love to blanket their minds and hearts. His love will give them the strength and power of Jesus Christ. Acts 17:28 tells us that it is in Christ that we live, and move, and have our being. And we see very clearly that the enemy is strategizing fiercely to divert our attention away from our Christ reality. Therefore, we must be equally fierce when it comes to the game the enemy is playing, so that we choose faith rather than fear.
Faith is the substance God used to create the entire universe, so we know it to be potent stuff. It is activated through thought, intention, and will. It meets us at a place that is higher than the conditional circumstances that surround our everyday lives. This is why God instructs us in 2Corinthian 5:7 to walk by faith, and not by sight. We can’t rely on what we see day to day, because what we see day to day represents the natural realm. The problem with relying on the natural realm is in 1Corinthians 2:14(NLT). It tells us, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Earth is the natural realm. It is an expansion of God’s territory, but He hasn’t taken it by force. He’s taking it by love. We are ones to introduce His love into this territory by completing the work that Jesus Christ began. God’s goal is that we live and move on earth by receiving from Him through the Spirit of Christ. 1Corinithans 2:10-12(NIV) says, “10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”
If you and I were to rely only on information from what we see in the natural realm, we would be paralyzed in every way, because the things we see can be very scary. We might even think that God isn’t making all things to work together for good as He says in Romans 8:28. Be confident that God is extremely busy in the supernatural realm, and this is a realm we cannot see with natural or physical eyes. We experience it through our spirits. The truth is that the supernatural realm is more real than the natural realm. A follower of Christ must condition their minds and hearts to walk in this truth, because this natural realm of earth dwelling is a very temporary occupancy for us.
In Matthew 14, we can see a vivid example of what’s possible when we receive from the supernatural and rely on God’s power. This chapter in the Gospel of Matthew gives us the record of our beloved Savior walking on water. When his disciple, Peter, saw this, he said in Matthew 14:22(NLT), “Lord, if it’s you…tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus replied, “Come.” And briefly, Peter walked on the water! He did what he saw his Master doing, but in an instant this changed. For a few moments, he was saturated by the faith of Jesus Christ, and when he heard the word “Come”, he didn’t think, but simply obeyed, and moved by the Word of the Lord; the results were miraculous. But then, Matthew 14:30 tells us that Peter allowed what he saw in the natural to override the truth of the supernatural. This is always a detrimental step backwards. Peter saw the wind and became afraid, then he began to sink. He cried out to Jesus for help.
Oh, how I have wished over the years that Peter’s mind and heart had stayed free, that he had remained caught up in the faith of Christ he visited for that brief little while. Where would we be today if he had learned the secret of remaining in a mountain-moving faith, and then taught others? Even still, Peter did what no human has done since, and showed us through Jesus Christ what is possible when we refuse to be bound by the limitations of the natural realm and live through the faith and power of Jesus Christ.
Most of us will never encounter a situation that will make it necessary to walk on water, but we should learn more about Christ and seek to grow in the faith that would make it possible. We were birthed from that supernatural place, and we must learn to put the truth of our reality in Christ above what our emotions and feelings sometimes tell us. They might tell us to breakdown, but our spirit is reminding us it’s possible to walk on water. We must strive to increase our faith by trusting God through Christ, so that we are not rocked by our circumstances; we are not moved to emotional hysteria and breakdown by what we see. Instead we can know with every fiber of our being that God will protect and shield us. He will put a hedge around us and our loved ones if we are diligent to trust Him first, and let our emotions and feelings follow. ■
Melissa was one of the few people I felt comfortable around, and it is only now, after looking back at our lives, that I know why. She was a few years older than me, and before I moved to another state, she married David, the only man who she felt ever paid her any attention. In my eyes, Melissa was an extraordinary person. She did even the small things with the greatest amount of care, and as long as everyone else was having fun, she seemed content to be in the background and remain unnoticeable. For as long as I can remember, she talked about becoming a teacher for children with special needs, but she always let things get in the way of pursuing her dream. And when she married David, she gave up on this dream altogether. She let him convince her that college was an unachievable goal. After he manipulated her self-esteem, he took control and had the final say on all her friendships and just about every other aspect of her life. She accepted and excused his emotional abuse.
An abusive environment is breeding ground for insecurity and low self-esteem. Often children learn to be keepers of the secret, and they sometimes gravitate towards one another, never speaking their truth verbally, but knowing it spiritually. Melissa and I shared this unspoken truth, and the moment I witnessed the interaction between she and David, I knew exactly what had happened. Like a magnet, her insecurity had attracted that familiar cursed and deceptive cyclone we both knew so well. Its rotations are both oppressive and comfortable, pushing its victim further in the shadows. It was what she knew, but she would not acknowledge abuse for the web of dysfunction and evil that it is. Instead, she would cling to it as if it was all she deserved, like it was her last and only hope to be loved.
The Creator of the universe loves us. The enormity of this reality should fuel our every move. When it does, we hear the voice of confidence resonating in our hearts, because Romans 8:16 tells us that the Spirit will testify within that we are children of God. If we allow it, the confidence of truly knowing God loves us will bring us out of the shadows and into the light as we begin to walk through God’s process of Fathering us. He pours His love into the gaps that we have tried to fill with other things.
There is no question that if those we love most have harmed or caused harm to come to us, the ground that would normally secure the foundation of our minds and hearts will break; and it is a sizable crack. The tremors from this crack vibrate brokenness, and it is so uncomfortable and hurtful, that some of us will let those with parasitical tendencies latch on. Everything that an abused person in this cycle of insecurity and denial is fed just goes right through those cracks and adds to their brokenness. We can never get full this way, but many who have been abused will continue to chase the thing that keeps them empty.
We must see ourselves as worthy, not just a little bit, but a lot. Galatians 5:1 declares that Jesus Christ has set us free, and we should never again let anyone put a harness of slavery around us. This freedom that Christ offers is our birthright. He is our Brother, and we are his siblings because of his sacrifice. He gave his life for the remission of our sins and rescued us from the kingdom of darkness. He delivered us from the bondage of low self-esteem, insecurity, and feelings of worthlessness. All this self-loathing negativity comes from satan’s kingdom, and he wants to continue to rob us of life’s vital juices so that we will walk the earth completely depleted of joy, and dependent on his kingdom of fear, sadness, and shame. We can resist this plot of deception and destruction, and we should.
Jesus Christ said in John 3:19(NLT), “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” To love light is a choice, and there is no gray area. We will either love it or love darkness, and loving darkness is not a good choice. It’s the worse one of all. God hopes we will not make that choice. The thing is, sometimes we’re not aware of what we’re doing. We’re accepting whatever comes our way, not discerning what’s from heaven and what’s from hell. We must know that we have a choice, and we can rely on God’s help. We have to wake up and realize that the packages from hell we can and should refuse. We owe it to ourselves to receive freedom from the secret, so we can be released from the pain. When we take even the tiniest step to love ourselves this way, God will begin to fill the cracks and teach us what it means to be free.■
You said in 2Chronicles 7:14 that if Your people would humble themselves, pray, seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways, You will hear their prayers. You will respond by forgiving their sins and allowing Your healing, restorative power to flow into their lives. Please, hear our prayer for Your help! Humility requires that we acknowledge the honor You are due and recognize that You always know what is best and Your way always works best. Humility means that we come to You with a heart that is truly sorry for not giving You the place in our lives that You deserve. We humble ourselves before You, Father God. We know that You love us, and we demonstrate our love for You right now by confessing our faith in what You accomplished by giving Your Son to die on the cross for our sins.
You are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Your name is holy, and You are like no other. May Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There is so much confusion and sorrow in the world, and many people think this is Your Will, that You are punishing us because we haven’t listened to Your instructions and guidance, and we haven’t been good stewards of the earth. Your blessings are not earned, because we could never do anything good enough to earn all that You have done for us. You are not punishing us. You love us, and You bless us because love is Your nature. Love is who You are. Your Will is for us to live the more than abundant life that Jesus Christ came to the earth to make available. You want us to have a life full of Your grace, peace, and joy. This is Your desire for every person, and it has not changed.
Giving Your Son as a sacrifice for our sins is the greatest love act in all eternity, because Your Son is Your most precious treasure, and You didn’t spare Him for us. When we believe that You love us this big, we value ourselves differently because we can have confidence in our worth. We begin to see ourselves as children that are privileged to imitate Your nature. We cannot forget both the joy and unprecedented hate that Your Son was greeted with. Yet, he didn’t allow this to alter or stop him from doing the work You commissioned Him to do. He is our example of supreme love, and like Christ, we must be committed to do the love work You have commissioned us to do as well.
Philippians 2:13(NLT) tells us, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Heavenly Father, we invite You to work within us through Your precious Holy Spirit, because we want our lives to please You. There were times when we went off and did our own thing, not realizing that we could invite You to take the lead, and that we would have access to Your incredible love, power, and strength. We got ourselves into all kinds of trouble by choices that involved the wrong people, relationships, and connections. In many cases, we denied our identity in Christ and behaved in a way that was beneath our privilege. Please forgive us for this.
We’re in an environment that is extremely challenging, and so many of us feel very limited in our ability to access resources or to be resourceful. We’re experiencing feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and we can’t see a way out. We feel desperate and alone. Please help us, Father! You tell us in Your Word that You are our Sufficiency. You are our Source for all blessings. You declare to us in Psalm 84:11(NLT), “For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” You love us way more than we could ever love ourselves. You are our Rescue in the time of trouble. Please, Father, give us a pure heart and renew in us a right spirit. Let us abide in Your shadow so that we are continually covered beneath the umbrella of Your care.
We repent of our sins, and we place ourselves under the guidance and Lordship of Jesus Christ. We trust him with our whole hearts to lead us in the path of Your purpose and Will. You tell us in Philippians 4:19 that You will supply all our need according to Your riches in glory, and that You will do this by Jesus Christ. He is the channel by which Your abundance and blessings flow, and we rejoice in him, because through him, our hope is complete and unfailing. You tell us in Philippians 2:9 that You have given Jesus Christ a name above every name and have highly exalted him; and it is in his precious name, the name of Jesus Christ, that we pray. Amen. ■
Fear and regret are a combination
that can wreak havoc on our lives, especially when domestic violence and abuse
is a part of our history. A biblical teacher that taught me a great deal about
God’s Word would often warn, “Don’t let doubt get stuck in your craw.” She
would say this because she understood that patterns are a big part of the way every
human being operates, and a pattern of fear and doubt is the biggest conduit to
getting stuck in life. We start learning patterns before we learn how to talk,
and we carry them into every facet of our existence. Patterns of behavior
impact the way we treat ourselves, the way we interact with others, and most
importantly, the way we approach our relationship with God. For the most part,
regrets impact our lives after we’ve matured some, but fear is a blocker right
out the gate. The insidious thing about fear is that it can be stuck in your
craw and you don’t even know it.
If you’ve been around people who
speak openly about the domestic violence and abuse they’ve suffered, you’ll
know they often speak about its vicious negative cycle. Some will say that,
like a magnet, they tended to draw individuals to themselves that were
wonderful in the beginning but turned out to cause them tremendous heartache
and pain. After repeating this pattern of choosing a partner who abuses, many people
become insecure in their judgment and decision-making. They are fearful of making
a catastrophic mistake again, so they don’t trust themselves to discern between
someone who loves without harm and a person who tries to manipulate love through
Proverbs 4:23(NKJV) tells us, “Keep
your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” To
keep your heart is to watch what goes in and what comes out of it. God tells us
the reason we must be watchful of our own hearts. It’s because the heart is a
springboard for the issues we’ll face in life. God wouldn’t tell us to be
watchful of our hearts if we lacked the ability to get it done. Neither would
He tell us to watch our hearts if we didn’t NEED to get it done. We are to
watch our hearts so that we can recognize negative habit patterns that work
against us, and then correct them. There are more people who don’t do this than
those of us who do. Many people are comfortable where they are. That ol’
sneaky, manipulative, and evil devil keeps them comfy in self-sabotaging behavior,
so they’ll continue to be blind to it. God commands us to wake-up and snap out
of it. We accomplish this by changing the way we think, introducing new
patterns, and then eradicating the stuff that ain’t working for us. It’s
recognizing the stuff that ain’t working for us that ought to become our
motivation to seek a better way.
When we learn that our hearts can
draw something that harms, we must have that much, and even greater faith that
our hearts will draw something that fulfills our purpose and keeps us continually
attuned to the Father’s love. His love is no ordinary love, and through Christ
He makes us complete in it. God tells us in 1John 4:18 that there’s no fear in
His love, because His perfect love will demolish our fears. We begin to see this
in real-time when we no longer allow the doubt and fear of making a bad choice to
occupy the driver’s seat of our lives. Jesus Christ is Lord! He’s the Head! He
has earned and deserves all the driving privileges that come with this job.
The shift in our focus from self to Christ is a requirement for believers, and it is the best thing we can do for our lives. Going higher in him is often achieved from a vantage point of viewing all the mistakes we’ve made in the past. Through those mistakes, we earned the right to declare, “Been there, done that, not doing it again!” No need for regrets. Our mistakes helped to bring us to where we are today; still living and growing, with a chance to be better and stronger than we’ve ever been. Jesus Christ is why the combination of fear and regret can be kicked to the curb. When we’re trusting his love and following his example, we can have confidence that we’re no longer who we used to be, and that the magnetic force of the love of Christ will keep us on track to God’s blessings.■
The term ‘wholeness’ is one we apply to an individual that is thriving mentally, physically, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually. The Bible is instrumental in helping us understand what happens when the spiritual part of us is out of whack. All the other parts of us go haywire too. Most people would agree that when it comes to the mental acumen for things like technology and science, humanity has advanced in many areas. One would expect that all the other aspects of our being would keep pace, but in fact they haven’t. This is particularly true regarding our emotional well-being. The times are exceedingly stressful, and although we’ve grown adept to keeping up with technological gizmos, emotionally, we seem to fall further and further behind.
Hebrews 12:1, the Apostle Paul said that since we’re surrounded by the witness
of all these wonderful folks that lived with incredible faith in God, we have
no excuse. We have to get busy like they did. After all, they were not perfect.
They had flaws, but they ran the race God placed before them and accomplished what
He wanted them to do. We all have a race to run; all of us! Paul tells us to go
ahead and strip off all that heavy negative stuff that weighs us down so we can
run with endurance. Sure, we might become tired, but not easily so; we’ll keep
running no matter what, with our eyes continually on the prize.
happening to a lot of folks is that they’re not able to run because they don’t
understand they’re in a race. And not only this, they haven’t built up
endurance. Why is this such a huge problem? Well, it’s a huge problem because life
happens. God designed life to be a constantly moving, everchanging, progressive,
and productive dynamic. It doesn’t slow down and wait for anyone. It just keeps
going, and if you’re not prepared for the ‘get down’, it will boogie right
on passed you. The wonderful people that He tells us about in Hebrews 12:1 had
incredible faith, and we know this because they faced incredible obstacles. You
can’t have one without the other. Jesus Christ tells us in Romans 8:37 that through
him, we’re more than conquerors, but you can’t be a conqueror if there’s
nothing to defeat.
this, it is inevitable that life will present some mountains. In Mark 11:23(NLT),
Jesus Christ used a mountain to teach us about faith. He said, “I tell you
the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into
the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and
have no doubt in your heart.” Some of us are dealing with some mountains
right now. Maybe you’re in an abusive relationship, and it seems there’s no way
out. Perhaps your debt is mounting, and you can’t see a way to get from
underneath it. From marriage problems to unrelenting sadness, many of us have what
we consider to be mountain size challenges. The good news is that this is the
Lord’s specialty. There’s nothing too hard for Him, and He loves to help us.
or later, we’re going to have to face the reality that the mountain is part of
our race. Yep, sure is. I know, it seems insurmountable, every mountain does
when you’re looking at it from the ground up. That’s why God tells us to keep
our eyes on His love while we’re moving through rough terrain, so we’ll never
see the problem bigger than we see Him.
is not to minimize the difficulties we face in life, because keeping it real, have
you ever tried to run up a mountain? What?!!! Try putting the treadmill on the
highest maximum incline—it’s no joke, but the thing is, we up the ante on the
treadmill because we know it’s going to give us a good workout. Life is given
to us by the Creator to do same thing to our faith—to give it a maximum workout.
With the treadmill, you can press ‘stop’ and get off. Life doesn’t work quite
the same. You can’t ‘get off’ of life unless you take yourself out; and
some folks are doing this. They are ending their lives because the pace of life
exceeds their emotional acumen to deal with it. God has given us a better way!
It’s the way that leads to wholeness.
awesome that we’re making all these technological and scientific advancements,
but ‘The Cloud’ ain’t got nothing on the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ is
where the action is! Through him, God has equipped us to not just keep pace
with life, but to blaze a trail of love that others can follow. God would not
give us a race that we’re incapable of running. Let’s get moving by being more committed
to Him. Let’s study His Word and pray more. Give the Holy Spirit greater room
in your heart. Throw out the welcome mat and ask him to come in and help you
prepare. He’ll help you train. Then you’ll have the endurance to run up that
mountain and run the race God has placed before you with the victory of faith. ■
I was asked recently to pray for a woman that
has been in an abusive marriage for over 25 years. Her husband has been abusive
in many ways, including habitual infidelity. She’s tried to leave the marriage
several times, but each time he has begged for forgiveness and made promises to
change his behavior. She has taken him back and continued to suffer through his
abuse and cheating. His years of affairs have produced more than one child
outside of their marriage. The child support for those kids has diminished
college funds and financial support for the children they have together. Now
that she’s in her fifties, and after all the lies and everything she’s been
through, she says she’s finally going to leave him and give herself a fresh
When we think of the
word ‘fresh’, we automatically think about newness or something that is
different. The mere mention of the word inspires good feelings. We get excited
about the possibility of leaving the ‘old,
worn out, and no longer useful’ behind us. The harsh reality that stares
all of us in the face is that newness doesn’t get it’s beginning from the
external, it is birthed internally first. Real and lasting change begins in our
hearts and minds. This is an astounding truth that most people ignore.
There are many reasons
that a person will remain in an abusive relationship. If children are involved,
the abuser may contribute part or all their financial support, making it more
challenging to leave the marriage or relationship. Also, both pride and fear
can be deterrents to leaving as well. When the abuser has some degree of
affluence or prominence in the community, pride can become a stronghold. Fear
of abusive retribution and retaliation, as well as the fear of a withdrawal of
support, is also very much part of the reason why many people remain in abusive
relationships. But these are not the root cause of why a person stays, they are
what’s on the surface.
The truth is that God
has empowered every individual of sound mind to achieve and accomplish whatever
they truly want to do. When we’re relentless or passionate about something,
most of us find a way to get what we want done. So, there has to be something
deep-seated in someone’s mind and heart to make them feel as though they are
unable to be set free. This isn’t a judgment. I was bound by four walls of
self-doubt, self-condemnation, and insecurity for many years, so I know the entrapment
of a mindset of powerlessness very well. I personally believe it is its own
hell, a prison that ensnares countless numbers of individuals who believe
there’s no hope.
In 1Timothy 6:12(NLT),
God tells us through the Apostle Paul, “Fight
the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which
God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.”
God’s Word is true. It is the Source of any truth that exists in the earth. A
thing may be factual, but facts change all the time. Truth is eternal, and it
is this fight, the fight to stand on our truth in Christ, that is the greatest
fight of all.
Instead of fighting to
stand ground on the truth of our strength, ability, and liberty that Christ
gave his life to make available to us, we fight for the thing that enslaves us.
We fight our strength, ability, and liberty when we don’t believe in them.
Jesus Christ tells us in John 8:32 that only the truth will set us free. And
the truth is that we will have to give up the mindset of powerlessness for a
mindset of hope.
Hope is the first step
to a fresh start, but it will require something that only the Lord Jesus Christ
can provide in order to back it up. We need the power of the Spirit of God, and
we must invite Him to do a work on the inside of us. Without this, we slip back
into old ways of thinking and behaving and continue to allow ourselves to
suffer. We must acknowledge that we are indeed in a fight, and we will need
more than the armor human understanding and skill can provide. We need the
whole armor of God, and He freely offers it. He tells us in Ephesians 6:11 to
put it on, and therein lies a true fresh start. ■