The Endless Battle

This morning, in the crazy frenzy of getting ready for school and running out of the house on time, I found myself saying these words to my oldest son: “Why do you always fight me? You fight me on everything. Do you not trust me? I love you and I will always want what is best for you. So when I tell you to do something, I wish you would just do it. You don’t know better than me. I have been on this planet longer than you, and I may know a thing or two. This seems to be an endless battle with you.”

Now, my son is six years olds, and I am sure that he stopped listening to me after the first five words. And I’m also sure that he didn’t really understand everything that I was saying. But as I was ranting and raving, I suddenly stopped. And I heard the Lord say these exact words to me.

I can name countless times in my life when this cycle has taken place: I doubt God and fight Him and question Him and argue with Him in the moment. Then at the end of the journey, I look back and see that God was right there with me the entire time, even when I doubted Him. I look around me and see that the Lord perfected me through the storm and I was better for it. I look up and see that God was once again faithful, even when I was not.

Can’t you just hear the Lord speak these words to our souls?

“My beloved daughter. Why do you always fight me? Do you not trust Me? Have I not proven in My Scriptures and in your life, that I have your back? Have I not given you every reason to trust Me? I love you and I will always want what is best for you. I will always work out what is good and right and true for you. I will meet your every need. I promised you that I will absolutely never leave you nor forsake you. And I don’t forget My promises! Even in the worst of storms, I never left your side. I was there to wipe your tears and hold your hand. When I tell you to do something, walk along the path I have laid. For when you do, you have the guarantee of My provision and My protection. I am the God who hung the stars in the sky. I am the God who sculpted the mountains with my bare hands. I am the God who tells the wind to blow and the rain to fall. I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am the God who parted the sea and saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. And I am the God who sent my Son to be the ultimate and perfect sacrifice. And I am the God who defeated death, rose from the grave, and has given you the Holy Spirit to be your constant Helper. And I am the same God who is right here with you, holding you in the palm of My hand. Have I not given you every reason to trust Me? Beloved, this endless battle does not have to continue.”

Matthew 7:9-11 —– Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

He Knows My Name

One of the things that I enjoyed most about being pregnant…expect for the swollen ankles and graceful waddle…was thinking about what we would name our new addition to our family. Do we name the child after a family member? Somebody alive? Somebody who has passed who we want to honor? A biblical name? A modern name? A unique name that will surprise people? Do we have a junior? A family name that has been passed down? It was a big decision, one that gave my husband and I just a glimpse of the great responsibility we were about to be handed by the Lord, entrusting us with this living being! I mean, we could ruin our child’s life – or make him resent us forever – if we name him something like “Eugene Reginald McBojangles the 3rd.” I deeply apologize if that is your name! I remember repeating different sets of names…”that name sounds like he would be a doctor,” “that’s the name of somebody who would be president,” “that is definitely the name of a successful man.” As if the name I gave my children would dictate their destiny and the path of their life…

Well, thankfully, only the Lord has that much power! There are many times in the Bible when the Lord changed the name of His followers. And this typically came with a covenant or promise. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham when He promised that his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky.

Genesis 17:5 —– No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.

God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah when He gave her the blessing of a son, and shared with her the promise that He gave to her husband Abraham.

Genesis 17:15, 16 —–  And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

God changed Jacob’s name to Israel when He passed down to him the promise given to his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham.

Genesis 35:9-11 —– This time he gave Jacob a new name and blessed him by saying: I am God All-Powerful, and from now on your name will be Israel instead of Jacob. You will have many children. Your descendants will become nations, and some of the men in your family will even be kings. 12 I will give you the land that I promised Abraham and Isaac, and it will belong to your family forever.

Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, when He affirmed to the lowly fisherman that upon him, He would build His Church.

Matthew 16:15-18 —– He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Even Saul, infamous for his persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ, was given a different name when Jesus overhauled his life and filled him with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:9 —–  But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him.

Beloved, Jesus has made a covenant with you and has called you by a new name as well. The same God who established His covenant and promises with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, looks into our hearts and souls and makes a covenant with us as well. And God never ever forgets His promises…even when we forget them. He established a new covenant with us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and He calls us by a new name!

When you invite into your life the love of God, the salvation of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit…

Your name is no longer “Shame” – But you shall now be called IDENTIFIED BY GRACE!

Your name is no longer “Fear” – But you shall now be called COURAGEOUS!

Your name is no longer “Regret” – But you shall now be called FREE!

Your name is no longer “Broken” – But you shall now be called COMPLETE!

Your name is no longer “Depression” – But you shall now be called PEACEFUL!

Your name is no longer “Guilty” – But you shall now be called FORGIVEN!

Your name is no longer “Worried” – But you shall now be called CONFIDENT!

Your name is no longer “Insecure” – But you shall now be called SECURE IN CHRIST!

Your name is no longer “Alone” – But you shall now be called ADOPTED INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD!

Your name is no longer “Unloved” – But you shall now be called LOVED AND CHOSEN!

Your name is no longer “Unwanted” – But you shall now be called CHERISHED!

Your name is no longer “Weak” – But you shall now be called STRONG AND VICTORIOUS!

The question is, who do you say that Jesus is? What do you say His name is? Do you call Him Savior? Do you call Him Lord? You see, His name is Lord, Savior, God Almighty whether you call Him that or not…but it makes no difference in your life unless you invite Him in to change your name and call you…HIS!

Helpmate.

Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.          (Genesis 17:11-13)

Let me be transparent for a minute. There have been times in my marriage when my husband lets me down…shocker right! I wouldn’t believe a married woman out there who said that her husband has never disappointed her. There is a reason Paul tells us in the Bible that it is better to not marry!

Seriously, though, our husbands are far from perfect…and we are just as imperfect. I have to admit that in those times when I do not like what he is doing, or when I wish he would do it differently, or when he just is not doing it the way I would do it (is anybody with me!), that I oh so easily play the role of the judging, critical, nagging wife. As if I think that I can “nag” him into perfection. Wow! Sometimes I fail so miserably at looking at my imperfections, but I hardly miss a moment to notice the imperfections of my husband. Ladies, nobody wants to cuddle with a cactus! I judge – I critic – I correct – I disrespect – and then I wonder why he doesn’t respond in a loving way to me!

We need a news flash: we are not our husband’s judge. The Bible does not say, “Wives, correct your husbands,” or “Wives, critic your husbands,” or even “Wives, you have every right to be stomping mad at your husband when he forgets to do something you told him to do, and you are beyond justified to let him know how mad you are!” The good Word says, “WIVES, SUBMIT TO YOUR OWN HUSBANDS, AS TO THE LORD.” It is not our place to perfect our husbands, and it only ends badly when we try. Our job is to support our husbands, to be their cheerleader, to admire them, and to respect them. God calls us to encourage and lift them up when life beats them down. God calls us to speak life and truth into them. God calls us to respect and honor them, even when they act unloving to us. God calls us to graciously forgive them, for He has unceasingly forgiven us!

I love this little passage in Genesis. The Israelites are fighting the people of Amalek. Whenever Moses had his hands raised, the people of God prevailed. Whenever Moses lowered his hands, Amalek prevailed. And as Moses’ arms grew weary, his partners Aaron and Hur were right there to help him. This is the godly role we ought to take in our marriage. As long as your husband’s hands are raised to the Lord and his eyes are on the Lord and His leading and guidance, your family will prevail and have the security and victory of living in obedience and honor to the Lord. But your husband’s arms will grow weary. As God said, “man is not meant to be alone.” God has sent you to help your husband hold up his hands to the Lord when he is weak and weary. When your husband is struggling, don’t bring him down even further. Hold his hands up and point him back to the Lord. When your husband is tired and irritated, be patient with him. Hold his hands up and respect him still. When your husband is struggling with bitterness or negativity, don’t fuel his fire. Hold his hands up and remind him of the provision and sovereignty of the Lord.

Creation was not complete until Eve. We look around us and see the beautiful mountains, oceans, rolling hills, starry skies, sunsets, and glorious living creatures from the ant to the elephant…and even in all of this beauty, it was not complete until Adam had his helpmate. Respect him and support him and love him, even when it is hard – especially when it is hard – for you are doing it as unto the Lord Himself.

Did God Actually Say…?

Genesis 3:1-7

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Perfect craftsmanship. God Almighty’s stunning painting. Stars, mountains, and oceans singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Ah, and man…the crowning glory of creation. The one to take dominion over the lands and living things. Man and his woman…not just good, but “very good.” Adam and Eve walking with God, as it should be. Adam and Eve, made in the image of the One with whom they dwell…as it was intended to be. Until…sin.

The first sin originated from this doubtful thought: “Did God really say…?” Just as the serpent whispered this evil thought into the heart of Eve, the evil one whispers the same question to us today.

Did God really say that He would provide for you? Matthew 6:33 ~ But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Did God really say that He would heal your broken heart? Psalm 34:18 ~ The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Did God really promise to never leave you nor forsake you? Hebrews 13:5 ~ Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Did God really make man and woman to be one in holy unity? Genesis 5:2 ~ Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.     Ephesians 5:31 ~ “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Did God really tell His people to follow His commandments? John 14:15 ~ If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 

Did God really defeat death to bring us salvation? 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 ~ “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Did God really say that He loves you and calls you His own? Isaiah 43:4 ~ Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.

We often live like we are still in that garden. Staring at what God told us we cannot have (because He knows better than us and loves us), and doubting God. But in that moment when Eve chose to doubt God…God chose to rescue us. And so began His great crusade to bring us back into perfect communion with Him. The entire Bible tells us the story of God choosing His people, never giving up on His promises to us, and unconditionally and faithfully loving us. Even to the point of sacrificing His own son as the perfect propitiation for our sin, so that He may look upon us and invite us into His presence once more.

Every day, the enemy will ask us this question. And every day, we have the choice to believe the TRUTH or the LIES. But see, the only way we know what is false is by knowing what is true. The only way we know what is wrong, is by knowing what is right. Therefore, the only way to rise victorious and conquer this question when the enemy sends it your way, is to know the TRUTH – to know the Word of God. So…every day we also have the choice to equip ourselves with the truth of scriptures in order to defeat the temptations and lies of the enemy.

And you know what else? The Lord has graciously given us all the resources and ability to choose Truth, to choose His Word, and to choose Freedom. Ephesians 1:3 promises us this: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” 

So the next time we hear the whisper of defeat coming to our hearts, “Did God really say…” We need to choose to believe that we have the Lord of Creation holding us in the palm of His hand – we have the resurrection and salvation through Jesus Christ liberating us – and we have the living power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God working in us and through us!

And we can look that serpent right in the eye and say, “OH YES, HE SAID IT! AND I BELIEVE IT!”

A Future and a Hope

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It’s one of the more well known passages of Scripture, but I also think it is one of the most misunderstood. Most people latch onto the first verse, and stop there. “For I know the plans I have for you…plans for good and not evil, a future and a hope” — and we stop. We take something for ourselves, and we are content. “God has good plans for me; plans for good and not evil. Yay!” This verse is misunderstood when we read it with the same attitude that leads us to treat God like a vending machine. “God, just give me your good plans. I don’t want your hard plans. I don’t want your poor plans. I don’t want your plans for difficult times. I just want your good plans.” So, what happens when life is not good? When life is not full of welfare? When our future is painful…or nonexistent? Then we begin to ask, “God, where are you? Did you leave me? Don’t you love me? This can’t be the plans you have for me?”

Beloved, I promise you that when times are hard and when life is not all sunshine and rainbows and butterflies – God is still God. God is still Lord of all. God is still seated on the throne of the heavenly places. God is still in control. And this can be truth that we know with confidence, if we read the rest of the passage and apply it to our lives.

Verse 12) When we call upon the Lord, we will be answered. When we COME and pray to our Lord, He will hear our every cry. Notice the word “come.” This is a verb that puts action to our faith and feet to our words. When we feel that God has abandoned us or taken His eyes off of us, it is not God who has moved, but us. When I feel my weakest, it is usually because I have not spent time with the Lord, to be fueled by His Spirit. The Creator of the universe is inviting us into His presence! That is an invitation we absolutely don’t deserve, and one we absolutely must take advantage of!

Verse 13) When we seek God with our whole heart; when we come to Him holding nothing back – He will holding nothing back from us. This is His promise to us!  When we come to Him in humble adoration, we will find Him as He reveals Himself to us. When we read His Word, it is not in vain and the power of Scripture is invited into our lives. When we cry out to Him with our doubts, fears, worries, concerns, questions, hopes, dreams, insecurities, failures, triumphs…when we bring to His feet ALL of us, then He can permeate ALL of us and give us the joy and peace that we desperately need.

Verse 14) Ah! Redemption! Restoration! It is God’s desire to restore the former devastations of our lives. Is there an inherited sin traced back through your parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents (maybe divorce, alcoholism, drug addictions, anger)? It is the heart of God to restore that and start a new precedent with you. Do you have a past that haunts you, maybe something nobody knows but your reflection in the mirror? It is the desire of God to rebuild the parts of your soul that your past has broken, so that you may walk in freedom! Did something happen in your childhood, that resides as a dark stain on your memory, and even now as an adult you struggle to understand why it happened and how it happened and if maybe it was your fault? It is the passion of the Lord to reestablish your self-worth and bring you to a place of healing over your childhood.

“My Beloved. Yes, I do have great plans for you! Do not limit My words to your earthly standards. I am referring to something far far greater than a nice house, a comfortable life on earth, or a financially stable job. No! I am referring to My plans for you to walk in the peace and victory that I have made available to you through the death and resurrection of My Son. I am referring to My plans for you to have a life abundant with joy, storehouses full of faithfulness, and cups overflowing with freedom. I am referring to My plans for you to have a future and a hope that cannot be shaken by the intentions of the evil one. And this will be a mighty work I would love to do in your life. All you have to do is come! I am inviting you in, and I promise you it will not be in vain. Cry to Me, and I will hear you. Come to Me, and I will give you rest. Surrender to Me and you will walk in absolute freedom! My daughter, come! I cannot wait to bring your heart back from exile, and to restore the devastations of your past, present, and your future!

 

 

 

Constant

I remember receiving my first bible when I was a little girl. It was a white Precious Moments bible, with gold trim and a picture of a little girl kneeling next to a baby lamb. In the front of the Bible, there was a page with Psalm 23 written in beautiful script. I read this psalm every time I opened my beautiful little bible. There was just something about this passage that gave my young spirit a sense of peace and shelter…

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Today’s message is simple…The Lord Jesus is your constant. The word “constant” is defined as “a quantity, condition, or factor that does not vary in specified circumstances.” In my junior and senior years of high school, I was enrolled in advanced chemistry classes. Tough stuff! Whenever we would perform an experiment, there had to be a “constant,” against which the variables in the experiment were measured. This constant was the unchanging standard that provided a baseline, in order to accurately draw conclusions from the circumstances changing in the experiment.

A house built on a weak foundation will surely crumble. The Lord is your constant foundation, your source of hope and life and strength, no matter your circumstances. We need to stop allowing our current situation to define our God, and start proclaiming the power of Jesus into our situations, so that our current situation is defined in light of His truth!

When the winds blow and the waters rage…Jesus is your constant source of peace!

When the road ahead is narrow and dark…Jesus is your constant light!

When you don’t know how to face today…Jesus is your constant sovereign God who knew what your “today” would hold before you took your first breath!

When you fear tomorrow…Jesus is your constant refuge and rock of hope!

When your past haunts you…Jesus is your constant source of forgiveness and freedom and deliverance over your past.

When your financial situation reeks havoc on your home…Jesus is your constant provider, meeting all of our needs.

When the ground beneath you is uneasy and precarious…Jesus is your constant stability, a faithful and firm foundation.

When you just don’t have the strength…Jesus is your constant wellspring of power and courage.

HE IS YOUR CONSTANT. Your husband will fail you. You boss will fail you. Your family will fail you. Your best friend will fail you. Yes, even your children will fail you. And you will fail all of them. For we are imperfect people…who desperately need to put our faith and hope and trust in the ONLY ONE who is unfailing; the ONLY ONE who is perfectly faithful; the ONLY ONE whose love is perfectly unconditional.

Jesus is your constant. Let Him be your firm foundation, your perfect peace, your unending hope. How? Just humbly ask. Ask for forgiveness for trusting in man and worldly security to be your foundation and constant. Ask for strength and help to trust Him to be the Lord of your life. Ask Jesus to take over and empower your life with newness and victory…

…that you may know the “peace that passes all understanding,” no matter your circumstances…

…for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ!”

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”       Matthew 7:24-27     Luke 6:46-49

 

A Life and Death Situation

Psalm 18:21 

“The tongue has the power of life and death…”

James 3:5

So to the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze.

It’s amazing that such a small part of our body has such power and influence. Like a small spark can become a consuming wildfire, the small words that we utter can ignite life or death into our lives, and into the lives of those around us. Have you ever spoken hateful and angry words to somebody you loved, and watched how your words took the light out of their eyes? Do you have memories of words that others have said to you in moments of anger? Every time you remember what they said, how they said it, their tone of voice…the hurt and pain come shooting back to your heart. However, have you ever noticed how a simple greeting, or offering of kind words, or a compliment, can put a smile on a stranger’s face?

What our tongue produces has eternal implications, as it reveals what is in our hearts. In the Book of Matthew, Jesus teaches that “the good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” (Matthew 12:35). Luke 6:45 confirms that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Do you speak life or death into your life and into the lives of those around you? When facing a situation that calls upon our faith, do you choose life? Or do your choose death? In the stressful moments of your life, do you speak words of doubt and fear and negativity? Or do you speak words of truth and hope and trust?

I’m not saying that we can’t be honest and voice our fears. But when we voice them, do we walk in them or do we place them at the feet of Jesus? A look through Psalms shows us an example of a man who was brutally honest with the Lord, and was attributed by God as being a man after His own heart. David brought all of his questions, fears, and doubts to the Lord…but the difference is that he always chose to trust. “But evermore I will praise You!”

Are we going to be women who so easily doubt the Lord, no matter how much He reveals His faithfulness? Like the Israelites, we see God drop manna from the sky on Monday and doubt His provision on Tuesday?

Or are we going to be women of faith, who come honestly before the Lord:

“King Jesus. I need you. What I am facing seems impossible in my own imperfect human eyes. I don’t understand what is happening. Why does this has to happen? If it is possible, Lord, let this cup pass from me! But I choose to trust You, even when I don’t understand. I choose to stand in Your faithfulness, even when my circumstances are painful. I choose to believe You and take You at Your Word, even when the enemy tempts me to doubt. Like the father in Luke 9:24, I cry, ‘Lord, I believe! Help me overcome my unbelief.’ Christ in me is my hope, that even when it is hard and the situation is impossible, You have graciously given me to ability…and the choice…to trust you. Perfect my heart, and purify me to honor you, so that words of life can flow from my toungue. For Your glory and honor.”

Speak life into your world! When the rain falls and the wind blows, OPEN YOUR BIBLE AND READ THE WORDS OF LIFE OUTLOUD! As we write the Words of the Book of Life on our hearts, words of life will flow from our tongues.