The state of your union

Hot and coldWhat’s the state of your union? I’m not talking about your relationships, I mean what’s the state of your insides? Is there peace? War? Personally, mine have recently been engaged in a skirmish. On one side there is faith… on the other, fear. Only one of them can win.

The Bible says a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25), so there has to be a winner. There will be a winner; whether I like it or not.

So, how do I tip the scale in favor of faith?

The Word of God in my mouth is the only way. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The Message translation says it this way: “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.”

Every loose thought and emotion and impulse… How many of those do I have in a day?

The power lies in recognizing them when they come, and then forcing them to align with a life shaped by Christ. In other words, forcing my thoughts, emotions, and impulses to line up with the Word of God… the Word of God that is hidden in my heart so that I might not sin against Him. (Psalm 119:11)

It’s a battle, make no mistake. The very fact that I’m human and I was born on planet Earth, a sin-filled, fallen world means that there are forces working against me, against my peace, against my fulfillment and my destiny. But I know how to overcome them. God’s Word and His Holy Spirit have given me the power and the tools to calm the state of my union, and declare a winner.

 

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Trouble, trouble, trouble

TroubleI knew you were trouble when you walked in. What a great line. This girl is on to something. And yes; I am going to turn a pop song into a devotional. I’m weird like that.

Take a look at John 14:26-27 where Jesus is giving instructions and encouragement to His disciples before He goes to the cross.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The disciples are naturally freaking out at what He’s telling them, but Jesus says, Let not your hearts be troubled. If you ask me, they had every reason for their hearts to be troubled. They had laid down their lives to follow Him and now He was leaving. I would have been ticked!

Why did Jesus tell them that, and what does it mean for us? Jesus knew our hearts would face trouble. He knew what was coming for Himself, for His disciples, and for all of us, both in those days as well as the future. He was preparing us for what He knew we would encounter in this life.

He’s saying, don’t let your heart be troubled, even though you’re going to want to. You’re going to feel trouble in your heart, but don’t let it camp out there. Don’t allow it to take root and fester. Don’t let fear build a home where it doesn’t belong.

The Amplified translation makes it even plainer: Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled. (John 14:27 AMP)

I want you to read that last line again.

Do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.

That’s quite an admonishment.

Don’t let it happen. Don’t let fear and trouble stay and make a comfortable nest in your life. It will knock at the door, you can count on that; but send it packing. Stand up in the power of the Holy Spirit on the inside of you, rebuke fear in the name of Jesus, and move on. God’s got your back. And through Him, you can be fearless, unflinching, courageous, and immovable.

Reentry

ReentryReentry can be rough. I have no room to complain, I was just on a super fun trip with my family, but getting back to life, back to reality, back to work, school? Ugh. Take me back to the beach.

Plus I think I caught a cold from that questionable bathroom I visited in the wee hours of the morning. (See what I did there?)

But seriously, why is getting back into the swing of things so hard? It’s not like I didn’t know what was coming. I mean we go back to school in mid-August EVERY YEAR. This is not new. And I’ve had a job since I was 18 so that’s not new either. What gives?

I think it might be a feeling of hopelessness or sadness that tends to come against us after we do something very special, something memorable. Am I the only one that experiences this?

I don’t know why it happens, but I know what to do when it does.

First of all, I recognize that it’s the devil. He’s the one who comes and lies to us and tells us we suck and nothing will ever be good again. He’s the one who makes us feel hopeless. He’s the one that brings sadness and dread.

Next, I fight back.

The world goes to drugs, alcohol, food, sleep, etc. The children of God go to His Word.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm;  though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. (Psalm 37:23-24)
The Word of God is the bottom line defense against hopelessness, sadness, and general funk. It’s just a matter of picking up your weapon and using it.

Your mess isn’t too big

chemical-spillYes, you may be in trouble, or in some kind of mess, but God specializes in getting us out of messes and making things even better than they were before. Honestly, just look at the life of Jesus. Try to see it from the disciples’ eyes. They had been going around with their teacher, they had been hearing the Word of the Living God that burned like fire in their souls, seeing incredible miracles, having the time of their lives when one night they sit down to dinner and Jesus tells them He’s going to die. These men had laid down their lives to follow him… left their homes and jobs and devoted their lives to Jesus’ ministry. Can you imagine what they must have been thinking when they watched Jesus’ words come to pass? When they saw Him on that cross?

We think about the disciples being these great men of faith and wisdom, but these guys were just regular people. They must have been horrified! Can you imagine the hopelessness they would have felt when Jesus died? They did not have the benefit of the bigger picture that we have. We know that Jesus had to die to redeem us from sin, but they didn’t know that. They didn’t know squat. But just look at how God took that seemingly unfixable mess and changed the course of mankind.

Talk about making things better than they were before… what would it be like if we still had to sacrifice animals to cleanse us from sin? PETA would not like that at all.

Your mess isn’t too big for God to clean up. You’re not too deep in your sea of troubles that He can’t fish you out. As long as your heart still has room for Him, He has answers for you.

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.(Psalm 91:15 NIV)

A redeemer redeems

RedeemerGod is a redeemer. That means He redeems.

He redeems us from sin, cleans us up, and sets us back on our feet.

He is also the redeemer of situations. That doesn’t mean just fix our situation, but make it even better than it was before.

How does He do it?

It’s different every time.

He’s God.

He’s smarter than us.

Ask Him into your situation. Ask Him to redeem it. Repent of your sin and receive His forgiveness.

Let the guilt go.

Don’t focus on the mess; focus on the Redeemer.

Thank God.

Move on.

Don’t let go

Don't let goWhen something is breaking and you can’t stop it. When the storm rolls over you in waves and you can’t see the sun. When you don’t know how it happened, but you have to walk through it nonetheless. When you know it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Call on God. He’s there. I promise.

Even if you don’t feel Him. Even if you haven’t talked to Him in a while.

He loves you, and He wants to help you. Don’t let go.

Atari and the devil’s toolbox

Do you remember that old game Pitfall? I think it was the first video game I really ever played… besides the big stand-alone games at the skating rink, that is. It was genius for a 10-year-old back in the day. Atari was the coolest new gadget you could have. It was right up there with the Betamax. Unfortunately, I did not have one, but my BFF Michelle did.

Oh, the hours Michelle and I would spend playing that silly game. We would break away only long enough to eat a Pop Ice and ride bikes down the street to flirt with the boy who lived a few houses down, whose name I can’t quite pull up from my dusty filing cabinets.

The pitfalls we encounter as adults are much more sinister. They are sneaky little danger zones that we stumble into that can wreak havoc in our lives. The devil doesn’t have any new tools you see, he has the same old toolbox that he started out with when he was expelled from the Garden. His toolbox uses things like confusion, anger, apathy, and hopelessness to get our eyes off the goodness and faithfulness of God, and on to the natural circumstances, which many times do in fact seem impossible.

My Dad always says: How can a black cow eat green grass and give white milk and yellow butter? Because God, that’s why.

God is bigger than our circumstances, but the devil’s pitfalls make us forget that. God is faithful to the end, but the devil’s pitfalls make us forget that too. The devil even tries to get our focus off the incredible things God has already done for us and tells us, “Well, that really just worked itself out on its own, God didn’t really do that. And there’s really no hope for this situation at all.” That’s the lie he’d like you to believe. That’s straight out of his toolbox, that’s a classic, that’s one he used on Adam and Eve… Did God really say?

Catch him at his game. Slam the lid shut on his toolbox and sail over those pitfalls with eyes wide open to the Word of God, ears wide open to the urging of the Holy Spirit, and hearts wide open to love and forgiveness. You will come out on top, every single time.