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“The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation.” 2 Peter 2:9

“Strategize your obedience as diligently as the enemy is strategizing those temptations.”

I recently read Priscilla Shirer’s book Fervent and care across the quote above. At first, I just read over it, but then I went back and highlighted it and decided it was something I should pay close attention to. Satan is constantly trying to attack God’s people in any and every way he can. He knows that if he can do anything to divert your focus from the Lord, he has you right where he wants you. And he knows we all struggle with temptations in form or another. So, he targets our weakest areas, and dangles whatever that temptation may be right before our eyes. He makes sure he polishes it up nice and shiny so it catches our eye. He makes sure he removes any traces of the trouble the temptation may cause us. And then, he waits. He knows if he keeps dangling it there long enough, we will cave in. And then, once we have succumbed to the temptation, he sits back and laughs because he knows he has just caused us big time trouble. We cannot just sit back casually and hope he passes us by because he won’t! We must be on the offensive if we are to do real battle with him. Knowing that the temptations are coming, we should plan ahead and make our own strategy for obeying God instead of caving in to the temptation. In the heat of battle, we will not have time to decide to be obedient. We have to determine that beforehand. Imagine Satan’s surprise if he comes to attack you and you attack him instead! Do it often enough and he may start to think twice before messing with you! Don’t just let him run over you…prepare your strategy now and send the enemy packing!

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“The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

I don’t know about you, but I feel like Satan is working overtime in my life right now. Every day seems to bring a new attack from the enemy. I feel like I’m surrounded on every side, and he is closing in faster and faster. Although some of these attacks are very vicious and very personal, others are not quite as obvious at the onslaught. It’s not until he has me backed into a corner until I realize he is at it again.  No matter what his battle plan, the enemy keeps forgetting about one thing in my favor! He forgets that I do not fight my battles alone. He forgets that the One who has already defeated death and the grave is on my side, fighting with me and for me! Even though the fight rages, the outcome is already decided. As long as I allow the Lord to fight on my behalf, victory is mine for the taking. So take that, Satan! You may knock me down over and over and over again, but the Lord will make sure I get back up to fight another day. You may leave me bruised and battered, but you will not defeat me. God has made sure of that!

“Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:18

We have probably all heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words” and we probably know that it is absolutely true. You can say you love someone, but if your actions do not line up with those words, the person is not going to feel loved. You can say you want a relationship with someone, but if you are not willing to put in the work a relationship requires, the relationship will not survive. You can say all day long that you are going to do the laundry, but unless you actually get up and do it, your words are meaningless. The same is true for all of our relationships…both with God and the people He puts in our life. It doesn’t take long to see through someone who is all talk and no action. They do not fool us for very long before we see right through them. And God sees through us even quicker than that. We are not fooling Him by saying we love Him in one breath, but living as if we don’t even know Him the next. We can say we are devoted to serving Him until we are blue in the face, but until we get up and put those words in action, we are not serving Him. We can say we believe in prayer, but if we are not committed to praying, then our words mean nothing. We will not pull the wool over anyone’s eyes with talk alone…our actions must match what we are saying in order to bring validity to those words. Are there any areas in your life where you have been all talk and no action? Today is the day to set that right and start backing up your words with your actions.

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.  Your hands are full of blood.  Wash and make yourselves clean.  Take you evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.”  Isaiah 1:15-16

I have been really struggling with one particular relationship in my life.  I love this person with everything in me, but despite all of the counsel, direction, guidance, and help I can give, the person refuses to listen.  I have been lied to more times than I can count.  I have begged the person to let me help them, but it’s been to no avail.  The situation is worsening by the day.  I have poured out my heart to God over and over and over and today, He reminded me of the Scripture above.  He reminded me that sometimes when we are so heavily embedded in our sins, He has to stop listening and watching the tragedy unfold.  He has to wait for the person come before Him with the desire to take care of the sin before He can continue to involve Himself in the relationship.  Now, please hear me…God still desperately wants to help the person struggling with the sin.  He still loves the person unconditionally.  He still has unlimited mercy and grace to pour out on the person.  He just simply cannot continue to stand by and allow the sin to run rampant.  And neither can I!  I cannot continue to enable the behavior of this particular person in my life.  It has robbed me of enough already!  I have let it keep me up at night.  I have been literally sick to my stomach multiple times over the situation.  I have cried until I can’t cry anymore.  I  have done all I know to do, but I have had to conclude that this person isn’t in a place yet to where they really want things to get better. And until they do, God has let me know that there is nothing more I can do except to love this person and continue to pray for this person.  So, I am going to do just that.  And when this person is ready to accept responsibility for the situations going on and is ready for real help, I will be there for them.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

There are several situations going on in my life right now that simply have me mentally and emotionally exhausted. I feel like I have done everything possible to help the situation, but every day, there is just more and more and more uncovered in the situation.  I have prayed until I have no words left to say. I have cried a river of tears over the hurt, the heartache, and the pain that seems unending. I have grieved over the brokenness of relationships with some involved in the situation. I have been angry, bitter, and ready to wash my hands of the whole thing, while at the same time  desperately clinging to the hope that the situations can be resolved without anymore pain. There are moments when I think if I get one more ounce of bad news,  I will completely lose it. And I may completely lose it before all is said and done. I may fail, but my God will not fail. I may not have the strength to endure one more blow, but my God does. I may not be able to bear the heartbreak, but my God can. And He is right here with me…holding me up, fighting the battles for me, and carrying me when I can no longer go on! He has already won the victory, so it is coming, even though it seems so far away. Maybe you’re in the same boat with me (you know, the one that seems like it’s going under for the millionth time), and feel like all hope is gone, but give Him time…He is coming! He will rescue you! He will carry you through whatever it is you’re facing! He is your strength no matter what!

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Psalm 56:3

I don’t know about you, but when I am afraid, God is not the first thing I tend to run to. Sometimes, He is not even the second, third, fourth, or fifth thing I turn to. Sadly, he more often than not, can be my last resolve. You know, the One I turn to after I have exhausted all of my other resources. Instead of trusting Him, I tend to trust myself or my husband or another person. I may trust the balance in my bank account, the security of my job, or a number of other things before I turn to Him. When we are afraid, we want to trust in something that we can see, hear, feel, and touch. We want something very tangible…something we can easily see with our limited human vision. We want something that we can control because being in control makes us feel safer. God doesn’t meet our list of qualifications for things that help us when we are afraid. He is not easily visible, His voice is not readily heard, we struggle to feel His presence, we cannot touch Him, and He is definitely something we cannot control. And because we cannot control Him, trusting Him only adds to our fears because what He is going to do can seem so uncertain. Trusting in Him when we are afraid doesn’t always come naturally. We have to take a leap of faith into the unknown and that alone sends shivers down our spine. But when we take that leap of faith, He catches us every single time. He, and He alone, is worthy of our trust. He never fails us! He always comes through!

 

“But I say love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

I don’t know about you, but these have to be some of the most difficult words to swallow in the Bible. When everything in your flesh screams for you to hate someone, to wish them harm, to be angry with them, and to seek revenge in the harshest form you can fathom, God tells us to love them and pray for them. And when He says pray for them, He does not mean pray that they will fall off the nearest cliff or that they will be struck by lightning or anything of that nature. He intends for you to pray for their good. He is asking you to do what is the last thing you feel like doing. When you are in the heat of battle with said enemy, there is no way possible for you to love them and pray with them on your own. The only way this is possible is through Jesus. He alone can remove your deepest hurts. He alone can heal your gaping wounds. He alone can soften your rock hard heart where this person is concerned. He alone can help you love someone that hates you. Is it easy? Absolutely not! Is it possible? Only in Him! Is it worth it? Definitely! Allowing Him to take your heart and erase bitternesss, resentment, anger, and hatred and replace it with joy, peace, hope, and love is always worth it. So, as difficult as it may be, get on your knees for those enemies and watch your Savior work a miracle right before you.

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