God Is Not Punishing You

Many moons ago when I was married, in my former life, I made so many mistakes and bad choices I don’t even want to think about it. I didn’t know God’s truth even though I thought I was a Christian. On the outside the people in my life probably thought so too. But on the inside, I was a total mess.

When my husband got sick, we had a doctor take me aside and inform me there wasn’t anything wrong with him. “Men do these things when they feel they are not living up to the standards.” Frankly, I was shocked. But at the time, I took all the blame. If he was doing this because of that, it had to be my fault for the mistakes I had made. I thought I was being punished by God for my bad decisions.

It is only now that I can honestly say with no doubt in my mind that God does not punish us for our mistakes. He may want to more times than we will ever know. He might get angry or sad when we don’t come to Him. But He doesn’t punish us.

The bad things that happen to us are the circumstances of our own bad decisions and the enemy. God is Love. He may allow things, but He doesn’t cause them for punishment. He can bring good out of the bad and tragic situations and use it to bless us and others in a profound way that we could never have imagined.

What would your life look like if you stopped trying to control it on your own?

What do you think God wants for you?

What does God say about you?

Knowing the truth of what God says about us will help us stay strong in the faith and know we are free. All our bad choices have been covered by Christ on the cross. Grace and love carry us through.

 “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then, my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken” say the Lord, who has mercy on you. Isaiah 54:9

Temple of God

Everything we have is a gift from God. Our house, car, job, everything. It may be exciting to get a new car and we can certainly thank God for it and the fact that we are able to pay for it, that is a gift from God. But these material things are temporary. They won’t last. The real gifts that matter are the ones He placed inside us by the Spirit. These are the gifts that shape our character and are meant to help others as we use them for God.

These are the gifts that are most important, and they are inside of us. If we take good care of our material gifts, we should take even better care of our spiritual gifts and the body, mind and spirit they are housed in.

One time, I decided to go on a sugar detox for a few days. I wanted to see how much better I might feel if I left off the extra sweetness. The main thing I noticed was that I didn’t get as hungry when I was eating more real food that didn’t have the added substance. I went off it because it was getting close to Christmas and I didn’t want to miss all the goodies. I might not have noticed a huge difference in the few days as far as how I felt but once I added it back, I realized some of the twinges and pains came back that had previously been prominent.

Since 2013, the year I had multiple fractures, surgeries and spent half the year in physical therapy, I have often prayed asking God to help me make healthier choices and take care of my body. As I wrote in my book, Beyond Yourself- A Spiritual Awakening, I began to figure out that the more I worked on my spiritual side the better shape my body and mind were too. It all works together, mind, body and spirit. I want to strive to take care of all three to the best of my ability as long as I can.

Not only for my own health and lifestyle but I also realize now that I belong to Christ – He is living inside me. I want to act like it by what I put my body through. Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship. We are to treat our bodies as a temple of God and not grieve the Holy Spirit by what we put it through. (Ephesians 4:30)

As I look at how I take care of myself in the light of these scriptures and others it gives me the motivation to do my best to treat it honorably for Christ. I want my thoughts to be pleasing to Him, my words to honor Him and treat my body like I know He is inside me every day.

What kind of house are we allowing Christ to live in? Are we giving Him our best and making necessary repairs and remodeling our house (renewing) to keep our minds, words and body holy for our Savior?

I want to challenge you to think about these truths and ask God if there are any areas of your life (house) that you need to do some spring cleaning. Read the above referenced scriptures and really meditate on how Christ is inside us and see if that changes your perspective on how you treat your body and your thoughts as it did mine.

Take care of your temple and keep it holy as God is holy. What’s on the inside will surface and be what is shown on the outside to others and will reflect how you treat others. Do not slander yourself or others. Show love and kindness to all including yourself. God’s grace covers us. Let us learn from our mistakes and move on. God has. Don’t dwell in the past. Today is the focus- not yesterday or tomorrow. Do the very best today with your focus on Christ.

As broken as I was, He still wanted me. He wanted to live in me so I would be blessed and experience joy as I love others, help others, and share words of encouragement and hope. He wants the same for you too.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So, I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. (Galatians 2:20-21)

Find a Penny Pick it Up…

All day long you’ll have good luck.

Do you remember this little superstition from childhood? Maybe it has carried over into our adulthood? Maybe we need to take a moment to reflect and ask ourselves if we are still putting our stock in these old wives’ tales or an all-powerful God?

We can choose every day to put our trust in a loving God who can bring us joy through any circumstance. We can face any trial that comes our way through the day.

The definition of the word luck, according to the dictionary, is a success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than one’s own actions. But if you search for the word luck in the Bible, you won’t find it.

We don’t need luck- we need Jesus. We need to let our actions reflect our love for Him and trust Him with our day. We’ll have much better odds than by taking a chance on a penny.

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Fair Weather Friend

Is your relationship with Christ dependent on your current circumstances? Do you only go to Him when you’ve reached your breaking point and exhausted all your other options or are you a fair weather friend who praises Him when things are good but as soon as a shift occurs and the tide turns to rough seas you turn your back on Him?

Our relationship with God should be that of a Father and child. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. Our relationship should be too. When we learn how to praise Him through the dark times and thank Him for the lessons, we will start to feel the closeness of our Father. He wants to experience the bad and the good, the sad times and the joyful times; with Him by our side.

It is through the tests and trials that our character is formed. How we handle our reactions to the bad things in life is a good indicator for where our heart is. The more we put our trust in Him through all circumstances, the closer our relationship will be. He always wants the best for us and delights in His little children coming to Him in thanksgiving and praise but also for respite and rest under the shelter of His great wing.

In my daily devotional this morning from Jesus Calling, this line stood out to me: “It is impossible to spend too much time thanking and praising Me.

This is so true. How many times day do you thank Him? It should be more than you can count, especially through the hardest days in the middle of the storm. That is how we keep Him close and rely on Him for strength.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete., needing nothing. James 1:2-4

Road Map

On one of my morning runs, I saw a black and white cat run across in front of me, not just once but twice. Most of its body was black but it’s head and neck were white. It made me think about how we look at things as black and white or gray when we are somewhere in the middle.

I used to be all on the black side before I surrendered to Christ. When I began my journey, it didn’t happen overnight the day I was baptized. The bible says come as you are not wait until you are completely clean.

I then started thinking about pivotal moments in history when there were bad or good things that happened in the world. We all know exactly where we were when we heard the news about 9-11 for instance. I have also had pivotal moments throughout my journey to Christ that I can remember exactly where I was and about what date it happened. If I don’t remember the date I can look back in my journals and usually find it.

These are considered “Kairos” moments; (a propitious moment for decision or action.) Once you decide to be a Christ follower you eventually go ‘all in’- you can’t be both black and white or darkness and light. Most of us probably stay somewhere in the middle most of our lives. I started thinking about when I went all in and how long it took from the time, I had my accident and was baptized. I pinpointed several pivotal moments that I can look back on and know that God was shaping my character during those times to get me another step closer to a Christ centered life. I couldn’t see it at the time but can now look back and recognize how the important decisions I was making were better for my new life and direction.

I had just come out of an abusive relationship where I felt ashamed, unworthy of real love and blamed myself for the things that happened to me. It was during this timeframe of the breakup that I had my accident. The accident changed my life, but it wasn’t at that exact moment that I went all in with Christ. That was just the beginning.

I was still dating and made bad choices for myself. But God began to work on my heart and for the first time I realized that I didn’t have to allow a man to disrespect my body just because that is what he wants. I have a choice. I have a voice. I learned how to use it and stand up for myself. This Kairos moment was just after my accident. This was only one stop on my road map to Christ, but it was a very important one. I could have allowed this person to have his way that day, like I had done so many times before with other men. But this time was different. This time, a voice inside me told me I didn’t have to allow this.

Another important moment came the following year when I was dating again, this time to a very nice person, but I knew I had to end it because I still wasn’t entirely living for Christ. After a getaway weekend, I felt so convicted that I had to end the relationship as soon as we got back. I couldn’t hide it or hold off any longer. He could see it all over my face. I couldn’t hide it because God was in my decision. I broke it off and moved another step closer to Christ.

Recently, I was reminded of my accident and the events that happened that day. I saw each step of that day moment by moment. I saw the changes I began making in my life afterwards, but my lifestyle and focus on my relationship with God took time. 352 days came to mind. There were still a couple of bumps in the road, but He led me to where I am today.

I calculated the days to see what date that would be and then I searched all my journals until I found it. Here is what I wrote in my journal 352 days from my accident:

“A person should never put themselves in a position that they would do anything for another person when it conflicts with their morals and/or jeopardizes their character. This type of relationship should only be with God. A person should not put another person in that position or make it a condition of their relationship or love for that person on those conditions.”

It was very shortly after this that I stopped dating altogether and put all my focus on my new relationship with God. I knew that is where my focus needed to be, without distractions. This was my choice and five years later I am still very happy about it. It gave me time that I needed to grow in Christ and figure out who I was as a person and child of God.

I am now reliant only on God. He is the only one I need to please. The things in my life that I clung to the tightest are the very things I had to let go of. The things I hid from for so long are the things that are being revealed and bring me most joy because it will help others. He created me and saved me for this purpose. I am chosen by God to carry out the mission He has planned for me.

He has a blueprint for my life that is unique as I am. He connects the dots on my journey and directs my path on the road map to a Christ centered life that brings joy and peace even through the speedbumps that occur along the way. These just make me stronger and through endurance my faith grows.

Can you look back and see any Kairos moments in your life that shaped your character and brought you another step closer to Christ? Write them down. Pay attention daily for any new opportunities. God can use everything for His good.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3

The Mountain He Didn’t Move

God has moved some amazing mountains in my life since my accident. Truth be told He probably moved a lot before that, but I wasn’t paying attention. There were so many trials to face during the aftermath of the accident. I was in pain. I was hanging out with strangers and had to rely on them for all my daily needs. I had to fly home in a back brace and large cast with a wheelchair at every stop, depending on others to get me to the gates on a red eye flight.

How was I going to maneuver my bags, seat, time limits? I wasn’t. But God provided all these things every step of the way. He moved mountains to get me taken care of and safely back home. I had an overwhelming sense of peace, especially in the airport, where normally I would be panicked and nervous. Yet, I had no worry or fear whatsoever. It was literally out of my hands.

Oddly enough I can look back at the accident and realize that was the one mountain He didn’t move. Why? I believe it was the one I had to hit to realize I wasn’t in control. It is the one that jolted me awake out of my self-induced stupor. The one that made me pay attention to what God is doing in my life. The one that saved my life by the grace of God who created it. He gives me my very breath and could have easily allowed it to be taken away- but He chose to save me.

It is by His divine glory and grace that I am even here to write this today. He saved me not only from this wreck, but from myself and the train wreck I had become. My life was in complete and utter shambles – I was holding on to things I needed to let go of. Like an abusive relationship- who does that?! Me…that is who. At least the person I was before God intervened. I was gripping it with both hands. I had two broken arms in one year because I had to let go.

I didn’t have the audacity or gumption to stand up for myself in any situation. All my life I gave myself over to others- especially men who used me and threw me away without regard to my safety or well-being, without respect for my body. Why should they respect it? I certainly wasn’t. In order words, I had no backbone, therefore my back was broken in the accident on the mountain that day so I could learn to stand firm and take up for myself and others.

This may seem like a harsh statement- but it is my reality. I have come to terms with the lengths God went to bring me home to Christ and be the person He created me to be. I am grateful and stand in amazement (from my knees) every single day that He chose me- of all people, in all my brokenness and unworthiness, to live the life of the new person with a new purpose for my life. He gives me faith and courage to take the next step every day.

Message from the Holy Spirit about my accident:

“You had to be there to accomplish my will for you in your life and show you another way; a new perspective. It seems drastic, but that’s the only way you were going to change your mind and your heart.”

Have you purchased your copy of, Beyond Yourself – A Spiritual Awakening yet? You can order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kindle or I can hook you up. Check out my website www.angelakcrow.com. Contact me about speaking to your women’s group. Please share. Thank you!