I saw a cat on my run a while back that looked like a neighborhood cat that likes to roam from house to house. It used to hide in the shadows on early mornings and jump out at me as I pass by. As I got closer, I realized it was not ‘Skittles’ at all (a name I gave it). Its demeanor was quite different even though the markings were similar.
It made me think about my relationship with God. The more intimate my relationship gets, the easier it is to recognize Him and test the spirits. Only He knows my heart and the hearts of others.
He does not give us a guarantee that our life on this earth will be easy. In fact, He says in John 16:33 we will have troubles. But His promises are for an eternity of joy – a hope we can look forward to now and later. God does not want us to just be ‘happy’ in this life – He does want us to be full of joy no matter our circumstances. There is a difference. Happiness comes from circumstances and joy comes from our relationship with God regardless of our circumstances.
He may not help us win the lottery, but if we are using our gifts and talents to their fullest for His glory, the joy, and blessings we receive will be equivalent to hitting the jackpot. His joy and blessings are for an eternity and will last forever where the winnings of a lottery will soon be gone and become meaningless.
Our hope of an inheritance with our Father and the beauty that comes with it gives us the strength to continue in this life, looking to Him for comfort, peace, and grace.
The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. Eph. 1:14
While reading my textbook for Global Studies, something stood out to me that gave me a fresh perspective, and I thought it was worth sharing. I usually pray and ask what God’s will is for my life and the path He wants me to take. My textbook says, what we should be asking, is ‘how do I fit into the bigger picture of what God is already doing?’ He invites us to participate in His plan. Think about that for a minute. That is huge, yet such a simple concept. We are part of a much bigger purpose than just ourselves. Our story fits into God’s story.
As I was running that same morning, I encountered a low limb that blocked my way. I meant to go back with my cutters and trim it to clear the path for others because people travel through there each day. I thought about the guy on the bicycle I see going to work every morning, how it would impede his way, and I imagined him ducking to get through. I then thought about all the children walking to and from school. It will not only benefit me but will help others coming behind me. We are not on an isolated path by ourselves in this life. There is always a greater picture and others to consider.
Have you ever been the leader of a group walking on a trail through the woods and suddenly you encounter something and realize you have just walked through a spider web? You cleared the path for everyone else. Yuck, right!? Symbolically, the web can represent our past, like the spider web, some experiences are not so pleasant, but we can share those lessons learned with others. In a way we are clearing the path for those coming behind us. I did go back that afternoon with cutters in hand, but someone had already taken care of it. I am grateful for those who have gone before me and those that will come behind.
Recently, I saw an advertisement for an app that allowed family members to track each other so they could know their whereabouts at any time of day. I realize the purpose of this invention is that it is designed to provide safety for those who are outside the home on the busy roads, and the peace of mind to those at home, wondering if they are okay.
But the first thing I thought of was that, at one time in my life, I would not have wanted this technology to be a reality. Let me explain, before I became a Christ follower, just to put it plain and simple, I was living a double life. I would not have welcomed an app that allowed anyone to know my whereabouts, because no matter how much I tried to hide my secrets, by telling half truths, and going to the place I was ‘supposed’ to be for at least a few minutes, I also spent most of the time where I was not supposed to be, looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t seen.
In that regard, I can only imagine the reasons people are coming up with so that their family members will not use this app to know where they are. I can relate because at one time this would have instilled panic to my very core. I would have feared even seeing the commercial for it when my family was in the room. Do you know how miserable I was on the inside? I can’t tell you how many times I cried myself to sleep, cried all the way to work and back (an hour away), or paced the floor in anxious worry, and then put on a mask every time others were near.
The only reason I can share this with the world today, is because I am FREE!
The enemy has no stronghold on me anymore. The truth really does set us free, and God’s forgiveness and grace allows us to stay free. Once we are saved from our old selves, we can live like we are free (I Peter 2;16, ESV). As a servant of God, I am free from my old self and my old ways. There is much joy and relief in being free. God not only saved my life, rescued me from dangerous, abusive relationships, but He changed my perspective, my heart, and my character. I try to be mindful to thank Him for that every day. The day I fully surrendered, He took the weight I was carrying, and I never looked back.
The thought crossed my mind one day that those who refuse to accept God’s word as absolute truth are believing a blatant lie. While this has some truth to it, I think God showed me how the deception can occur and that it may not always be their intention, simply because the untruth seems more logical.
I have been doing discussion board posts for over a year and I know I am supposed to reply to the other student’s original post, but somehow one day a couple of weeks ago, it seemed very logical to me to post my reply on another student’s reply to me, to carry on the conversation. Now, as my teacher pointed out and, by the way, knocked off several valuable points for not following directions, I was wrong. No matter how logical it seemed, it was not according to the instructions from my professor. She told me that the directions to follow are provided on the rubric. Now if I had taken time to re-read it and refresh my memory of this truth and her instructions, I could have avoided my error and saved myself some points.
Things can seem very logical, especially if most people around us are following a path of popular belief. It made me realize they are not always refusing to believe God’s truth, although some are, but rather are believing a lie based on what seems logical to them and those of influence around them. This is a deception the enemy loves. Maybe this deception occurs when we are not in the word enough to allow God to point out the misconception the world is selling. The enemy is subtle, he uses enough truth sprinkled over a lie to cover it up and make it taste better as it is digested. If we are not careful, we allow our desires and beliefs to override Scripture. This gives Satan a foothold in our life and can wreak havoc.
God says, “His thoughts are not our thoughts, and neither are our ways His ways” (Isaiah 55:8). No matter how many times you hear, “follow your heart”, we cannot trust our own heart to steer us in the right direction (Jeremiah 17:9; Eph. 4:22). We need to pray for spiritual discernment and wisdom to guide us. This takes studying the Word and spending time listening and mediating on Scripture to learn the voice of God so we can properly test the spirits and our own thoughts through the help of the Holy Spirit.
In A Heart Ablaze John Bevere writes that we can sometimes create an idol in our lives without being conscious of it.
“If we still desire a worldly lifestyle, which is against the flow of God’s authority, we can have it by subconsciously serving “our Jesus,” whose will is in accordance with our own desires. Without realizing it we have a manageable deity! It is a subtle deception, not a blatant lie….we can filter God’s word and commands through our culturally influenced thinking.”
Don’t take my word for it, read the Scriptures, and pray for spiritual discernment. I don’t bring these messages as a form of judgement on anyone, I need to take heed as well, but only to warn others of the tactics of the enemy and challenge us all to be diligent about what we believe and in whom we entrust our truth. God’s authority or man? It is not enough to simply believe in Jesus Christ, but we must also take heed of His Word and live by it to the best of our ability. None of us are perfect, only Christ is perfect. But we can look to Him as our example and role model and strive to be more like Him every day.
I believe I have posted a message before about my dream when I was in an abusive relationship, but God brought it to my attention again recently, and is worth mentioning again.
At a time in my life when I was in a dark place, in an abusive relationship, I had a dream that I was sitting on the top row of bleachers with my abuser in an open field. I looked up and, in the distance, I saw three old planes coming into view and they flew on past over our heads. Next, I saw 3 newer fighter jets and they also flew over us. Then I saw black hawk helicopters and they too flew on past.
Lastly, I saw something white flying towards us, as they got closer, I could see that it was several solid white horses, but they didn’t fly on past. As they began to land in the distance, I could see the last few were in an array of pastel colors; blue, pink, and purple. They started to head my direction and as they approached, I saw they were majestic unicorns. They came straight up to me with great intention. I held out my hand and just as the first one got close enough to touch my hand, I woke up.
It is only in hindsight that I believe this was a message about my upcoming rescue. God was sending out all the forces of His army to come after this one lost sheep (Luke 15:4, ESV). The lyrics to Lauren Daigle’s song Rescueexpress this very well. He had a rescue plan so elaborate and incredible, some days I still cannot believe the lengths He went to, to bring me to Himself. My journey isn’t over, my story is still being written, but my life has changed forever, for the better, through God’s good graces. I am grateful every single day for His rescue and my adoption (Rom. 8:15-16).
It is not the first rescue mission God has been on and I am certain it will not be the last, but the ultimate rescue mission was the one where He sent His Son Jesus to die on that old rugged cross to save His people. He entered the world as a human and walked the earth, endured suffering and shame and died for our sins so we could be saved. A great rescue mission of a loving Father who is still coming after His lost sheep today.
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4:8).
On one of the more delightful, enlightening mornings with the Spirit, my cup of joy was overwhelmingly full and seeping over the sides in a sweet little flow. Even though I had been awake since 1:30 a.m. dealing with an unruly contact that refused to come out before bedtime. It woke me up in the middle of the night ready to make its departure from my matted eye. But it didn’t comply easily. It caused me to get up and turn on the light, which temporarily blinded me as I sheltered my eyes. If I wasn’t awake before I sure was now. Once I had it out, I went back to bed but couldn’t return to the slumber I previously embarked upon for the last 4 hours.
Tired of fighting it and having my long list of prayers complete, I decided to get up and start my day, with my normal routine of quiet time, Bible reading and devotionals before heading out for my morning run.
As I said earlier, this particular morning was very enlightening and captivated my attention more than usual. My run serves as further contemplation and processing such matters. So, I know I was mostly focused on my thoughts and asking God to give me discernment on the divine revelation. I didn’t see the rocks that were piled in a heap in my path, until I stepped on them and turned my ankle. I am completely certain that anyone seeing this would have had quite the sight and probably a good laugh to watch me to do everything in my power to stop myself from falling. (Good thing nobody saw it.)
In the end, gravity won. I did manage to tuck and roll using my left shoulder as my cushion and my right hand to keep my face from plowing into the pavement. I twisted my foot and hit my knee but thankfully didn’t break yet another bone. I really can’t afford to do that. So, I limped and thanked God all the way home. I was done for the day. And the next couple of days since my ankle developed quite a painful reminder.
Despite all this, I still rejoiced all day. Our propensity usually likes to take over in these situations and cause us to in turn be in a bad mood or not so kind to others on a day that started out like this and let our lack of sleep drive our emotions. But my joy overshadowed anything the enemy tried to throw my way. His distractions and earthly circumstances of what could have easily been labeled a pretty bad day overall, didn’t deter the fact that I had spent quality time with the Holy Spirit who gave me a wonderful gift in return. Joy unspeakable. Our time spent with God is more precious and gives us more return on investment that anything of this world.
My spiritual joy overshadowed my fall and lack of sleep. No matter what earthly things are going on in our lives, we can still experience joy through the gifts of the Spirit. Our relationship with God makes all the difference.
This is not to say that I don’t have ‘bad days’ that are frustrating and harder to be joyful, it just means that we can choose joy. No matter what is going on. It just may be a little harder on some days, but God is still with us and that alone should make us smile.
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:11
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again- rejoice! Philippians 4:4
Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:5
Realizing our weaknesses, gives us strength through God’s ability, not ours. Once we recognize our need to trust God with everything, we can relax and enjoy the journey set before us with God-confidence. That does not mean we don’t have to put an effort into doing the right things and making the right choices (which He helps us do). There is action on our part as we travel the path God sets before us, but it does mean we do not have to fear what is next or rely on our own abilities to see us through.
With God-confidence and determination we can conquer any mountain in front of us. I remember, a few years ago after a tragic car accident that broke my back, a few people told me I should change hobbies and not attempt to run again. I did not want to hear that. But it put a determination in me to prove them wrong; and maybe an ounce or two of stubbornness- which is not always a bad thing. Couple my determination (actions- not giving up), with my new relationship in Christ (that was emerging every day afterwards), that strengthened my faith and gave me the God-confidence I needed to get back out there and keep running. I remember telling God if He would allow me to run again, I would honor Him with it every day. That is exactly how I use the time. If I am not thanking Him almost every step of the way for everything – I am meditating and processing the messages He gives me. In fact, He gave me this very message on a run.
Today, I give God all the honor and glory for allowing me to run again and for allowing me to share messages with others, it is my hope and prayer that His love and my faith always shines through to give Him all the Glory. With the seasons changing and the mornings becoming less humid, with a hint of fall, the crisp fresh air has improved my pace as I am able to breathe easier. I just had my fastest pace in a very long time. It is only by the grace of God that is even possible. It was only God who had my doctor fight for the insurance company to use cadaver bone in my back instead of cement- which he assured me would not have allowed me to continue running.
It was only God who created me with the tenacity and determination (and stubbornness) to keep fighting as I recognize my deep dependence on Him. Every day is a gift that I am grateful for! It is only God that allowed me to live through that accident and gave me the treasured gift of writing that I am even able to share these God-given messages with you. I know on my own I am nothing. But with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26, ESV). My God-confidence comes from seeing what He has already done for me and knowing He will do it again. He always comes through. It is only through Jesus Christ that we have the freedom and grace to fuel our determination to make every day a God-honoring day.
I have said it before, and I will say it again. I am in awe of God. Every. Single. Day.