Up Against the Wall is a Good Place to Be

Some birds instinctually build their nests in places that are up against a wall for shelter and support. However, people often use the expression “up against the wall” to describe feeling trapped with no way out of a situation.

2The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
10The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Psalm 18:2,10 ESV

Many Scriptures refer to God as a place of Refuge, a Rock, a Fortress, and a Strong Tower. A place where we can run to seek His protection. When we stand up against Him we are not trapped, but rather empowered.

If we go a little further down in Psalm 18 we read…
28For it is you who light my lamp;
the LORD my God lightens my darkness.
29For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
32the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.
33He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
34He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.
Psalm 18:28-35ESV

Our God, our Rock and Refuge is not a place to hide and cower, but a place to be trained and prepared for the battles to come while being protected. And I love how in the midst of this Psalm of war is verse 35, “You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” Wow! His gentleness makes us great! Maybe it was that gentleness that caused David to refrain from taking Saul’s life himself (1 Samuel chapters 24, 26). Though God’s favor had been removed from Saul, he had been anointed by God and David refused to kill God’s anointed.

David knew what it was like to have the power of God working within Him. JlAs a youth he had defeated the lion and the bear. He also knew what it felt like to feel overwhelmed. But he knew that in those moments He had a place to run for help, hope, and strength beyond his own.

God had given him a promise and dream when Samuel anointed him to be king, but their were many years and troubles between the anointing and the coronation. When David found himself “up against a wall” of hardship – from confronting Goliath, going to war against the Philistines, to being hunted by Saul, David knew God was the source of His power and skill. He knew where to run when he was overwhelmed by his circumstances. And there he found the strength and courage to keep moving to do things that he could not possibly do without the power of the Lord with him and within him.

We need to learn to follow the Lord in trust and obedience in the same way. All too often we think so small. We need to learn that He is our Strong Tower, the place where we always find shelter and safety, even when the world seems to be closing in on us. Up against the wall, our uncomfortable place, is the place where He is and where we will find peace. It is in the uncomfortable that we grow and get to know Him even better. It is here God will train us for the battles we have ahead, too. He will equip us with the weapons we need (through the Word, prayer, and in communion with Him) to enable and empower to go forth and face the enemy knowing He has equipped us with strength, trained our hands for war, given us the shield of His salvation, supports us with His right hand, and has made us great by His gentleness.

So maybe the birds’ instincts aren’t so bad. Up against the wall, with the Lord, is a good place to be. After all, His armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) is made to cover just the front of the body. No need to have a rear exit for escape. We are to stand firm in faith and trust, looking the enemy square in the face, knowing we are armed and ready because the Lord is with us. If we don’t feel ready, we need some one-on-one time with the Lord up against His Strong Tower and in His Word, soaking in His radiance and letting Him strengthen us in soul and spirit, so we are able to wield the weapons of spiritual warfare with His power, in praise with thanksgiving.
All glory to God!
Praise the Lord!

1Keep me safe, O God,
for I have come to you for refuge.
2I said to the LORD, “You are my Master!
Every good thing I have comes from you.”
3The godly people in the land
are my true heroes!
I take pleasure in them!
4Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.
5LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.
6The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!
7I will bless the LORD who guides me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
9No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.
10For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy oned to rot in the grave.
11You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 8:1-11 (all) NLT

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Depression and Anxiety

I’m not sure who this may be for, but I am feeling led to write about depression and anxiety today.
Most of you probably don’t know that I have suffered with various levels of depression since childhood. A couple doctors along the way briefly prescribed a drug, but I had reactions to the ones prescribed and no follow up by the doctor. I was also in denial about my need for medication, as I was functional and didn’t believe Christians should need medication for depression. I was so wrong! There are times even believers need medical help and should not be ashamed to seek it. Other believers should not belittle their condition and look down on them for seeking help and taking medication.

What should we do if we feel that God is the cause of our troubles? In 2010 God was moving us 1800 miles from Southern California to St. Louis, Missouri, which I knew from day one was totally of Him, no doubt. Then, one week before leaving, we learned our younger daughter was expecting her first child, our first grandchild. I was heartbroken, having to leave just when we were finally becoming grandparents. I cried out to God, “Why?” His only answer was, “You always have a choice.” But I know there is no choice outside of His will and plan for my life. Knowing that didn’t make it any easier. I held onto that pain too much, too long. It fed the depression and anxiety. Even going to the grocery store caused anxiety attacks. It got a little easier once I found a church and made friends, found sisters to do life together. But the pain of separation from my family ate away at me. In hindsight, I also was not doing all the things God wanted me to be doing. I wasn’t seeing it, because I let anger at being taken so far away eat at me and I couldn’t admit I was angry at God. I finally admitted it, but it was several years in. What a waste of time. But God redeems these things and uses them for His glory when we allow Him to heal us.

I remember the first time I realized Missouri IS my home now. I was on a visit back to California without my husband. As much as I enjoyed the visit, I was ready to go home. That was a huge revelation for me. Until that moment I had still been referring to California as “back home.”

I had been hiding in TV, social media, and game apps. One day God used the dialogue in a TV show to speak right to me. The character said, “Stop the pity party!” But I heard it as Holy Spirit speaking directly to my heart. Definitely got my attention. I began seeking the Lord more and focusing on ministry and other things outside myself, my thoughts, and my pain, but I still was not dealing with all the sources of the pain that were causing the depression and anxiety in my life.

A few years ago depression and anxiety got the better of me and I could no longer function. I could barely even pull my thoughts together enough to seek the Lord with much more than a “Help me” and “What’s wrong with me?” He answered both when the depression began causing me physical symptoms. My doctor ordered several tests. The results sent me to a Neurologist, who recognized all the symptoms I was exhibiting were from depression and anxiety disorder. Both the friend who came to the appointment with me and I felt the Lord’s presence very strongly in that office. This was where I needed to be. The doctor started me on medications. The meds are not a magical cure. But they enabled me to function enough to begin dealing with the causes of the depression, with God’s help.

I cannot afford a therapist. But both Jesus and Holy Spirit are referred to as Counselor (Isaiah 9:6, John 15:26). I sit down across from an “empty” chair and converse with Jesus. I pour out my heart. I know He is there and He hears me. When I get quiet I can “hear” Him revealing things like unforgiveness I had hidden in my heart, other painful feelings I thought I had released to Him, I talk it out, pray it out, let it go (as many times as it takes), and in return He fills me with His peace and joy.

The thing is we have to be willing to let go of the pain and not take it back (Matthew 11:28-30). Sometimes we feel like if we let go and forgive it lets the other person off the hook. But punishing ourselves with depression and anxiety does nothing to them. And forgiving is a command (Luke 6:37, Colossians 3:13). The other person has already moved on. Only God can deal with them. The final blow may not come until they meet Him on the judgment seat, but it will come or they will repent before and be redeemed. Either way, abusing ourselves only hurts us, not them. We also need to learn one more powerful step to healing ourselves, praying for our enemies and blessing and not cursing them (Matthew 5:44-45, Luke 6:27-28, Romans 12:14). It is very freeing to pray for good for someone who has hurt us. Sounds so wrong by worldly standards, but God’s ways are higher and the best (Isaiah 55:6-9)! It is very hard at first, I will not lie. I have had to say I forgive out of sheer obedience to God at first, and keep saying it until it becomes heartfelt. The same with praying for them. But God honors our willingness to be obedient and softens our hearts as we obey Him. We never have to do anything in our own power alone. He makes a way when there seems to be no way.

I still have bad days or groups of bad days. It keeps me humble and seeking after the Lord to uncover anything else I need to repent or release into His hands.

I have not worked outside the home since we moved eight years ago, so I have to be purposeful about not staying isolated and seeking fellowship with my sister’s in Christ. They help me stay grounded.

There is an acronym for the word joy that has helped me considerably with focusing and keeping that pity party from returning.
Jesus first
Others second
Yourself
The way I interpret this is when we take our eyes (our thoughts, our concentration) off of ourselves and focus (our attention, energy, love) upward (in faith, love, and obedience) and outward (with faith and love in action) toward others, God takes care of us, in all things, including our soul needs of joy, peace, and rest. Not that we neglect self-care, but our thoughts do not need to be inward like they are when they cause us depression, anxiety, and pity parties.

Isaiah 43 has a couple passages I love. God specifically gave me verses 18-21 during a particularly hard time.

1But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
Isaiah 43:1-3 ESV

18“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.”
Isaiah 43:18-21 ESV

If you suffer from depression remember: * It’s okay to seek help from a therapist for counseling and/or a doctor for medication.
* Do not isolate yourself. Call a sister(s) in Christ for fellowship. Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer and a listening ear.
* God is for you (Psalm 118:6, Romans 8:31).
* He has promised He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5).
* Nothing can separate God’s children from His love (Romans 8:35-39).
*Hope is ours in Jesus as an anchor in our storms. It does not disappoint us (Hebrews 6:19, Romans 5:5). “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV
*Ultimately God will heal us, it just may take a different route and outcome than we expect (Isaiah 61:3, 1 Peter 3:13-17). [Ex: someone may have an accident and become paraplegic. God may not heal their physical body, but use the disability to heal soul and spirit and use the person to bring Him glory in other ways.]
*God does not waste our pain (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28, 2 Corinthians 12:19).
He will use it as our testimony and our ministry… 3″Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV
Thank You, Father, for this gift of comfort, that we can use the comfort we receive to comfort and encourage others in similar circumstances. It can really make all the difference and make it worth having gone through our own pain to see others helped by our testimony.

Father God, we lift up everyone reading this article who suffer from depression or loves someone who does. Be with them and guide them on wisdom to the answers they need. Do they hold unforgiveness in their hearts? Are they holding onto burdens buried deep within? Do they need help of a therapist to sort it out? Do they need the help of medication? Do they need a sister(s) to come along side them? Answer these questions for them and lead them to the fulfillment of tje answers. Fill them with the hope that comes to each one in Jesus Christ our Lord, that they may know the joy and peace You promise. Let them know Your presence with them in a tangible way, to know they are never alone. Show them how to keep their focus on J.O.Y. – upward and outward and let You have Your way with their inward. We praise and thank You, Lord in Jesus’ name, amen!

Learning from Jabez

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Last week I wrote a Facebook post on the Prayer of Jabez. It was not my best work. I woke the other day with that on my mind as the Lord was speaking to me in my dream about the part I glossed over, his name. His mother named him Jabez, because she bore him in pain. What a thing to do to your child.

Names. We are given a name at birth. Some parents try to make them as unusual as they can making up their own names or spellings, while others research meanings and try to pick just the right one.

We often have nick names or “pet” names given to us by others. Sometimes the names are the taunts of cruel children on the playground, a sibling or even a parent. I am sure Jabez knew something about that, being named a pain by his own mother.

Then there are the names we give ourselves (that the enemy feeds us) that highlight what we see as our faults and failures.

But the most awesome name we are given is the one we get when we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord, Child of God!

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All those names that taunt and tease, and try to hold us down, only have power over us if we believe them. That’s where knowing the Word of God comes in handy. When we know who God says we are and let that truth sink deep into our souls (the Sword of the Spirit) there’s no room for those lies.

dcf901b237e3f70a3743dfd05cc7d07fI love that Jabez did not let his name define him. The first thing we are told about Jabez is that he was more honorable that all of his brothers. For someone who was likely teased by siblings and others about his name,  he did not let it make him bitter. He chose the higher way.  God’s way. He did not let it limit him or limit what he sought from God.

I know for much of my life I let those taunting names define my self-worth and limit the power of God to work in my life,  because I did not seek it. I did not seek, because I believed I was too broken and unlovable and unworthy.

Even as a believer I could pray in faith for everyone except me. I knew God could do whatever I needed, but I doubted if He would do it for me. Well, we are all unworthy (Romans 3:23) until Jesus comes into our hearts and makes us new. He made a way for us to become children of God (John 1:12). He makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT.

Let me tell you, don’t listen to the enemy’s lies. He will do whatever it takes to belittle you and distract you from being all God created you to be. Don’t let the enemy tempt you with comparisons, either. You were created as a unique person for a specific purpose that is solely yours. Each of our journies may be similar in some ways, but we each have a different path that God has laid before us. And His timing is perfect for when things happen in each life. Just because Jane Doe over there started doing something in her 30s doesn’t mean it’s too late for me in my 50s. Instead of comparing be preparing yourself in the Word and in prayer. Be ready when the Lord calls and answer by following wherever He leads. 

Since I have learned what the Bible says about who I am I started taking those negative thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5)  and replacing those lies with God’s truth. Now I am able to wield that Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) with skill and accuracy (see Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4:1-11). You can and must, too!

Let’s take another look at Jabez’s prayer:

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He trusted God to bless him. He was bold enough to ask God to enlarge his territory. Territory equals land and that equals wealth and standing in the community which equals increasing his sphere of influence. Jabez knew he needed God to be with him to handle life’s ups and downs and to help him resist evil influences. If children in his time were anything like they are today he probably got teased about being a “pain.” He knew pain and he didn’t want to cause pain to himself or anyone else. He was an honorable man and God honored Jabez for it by granting his request.

“You do not have, because you do not ask” James 4:2 ESV.

What requests have you hidden in your heart, because you are afraid to ask God to grant your request? Do you feel undeserving of God’s love and care? Take it all to the Lord and let Him show You how much He loves you. Memorize some of the verses in the “Who I Am In Christ” list above, so you are armed for battle when the enemy taunts and teases you. Then present your petitions to God (Philippians 4:6-7). And see what He does in your life! 

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Blessings and peace,

Julia

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Sayings That Are Often Attributed to the Bible and What the Bible Really Says

1 John 4 1

I woke up Thursday morning with this article on my heart. God was feeding me the answers in a dream. There are so many things that people believe are from the Bible, that are not. Some aren’t even close. This is one reason that we need to be in the Word and remember what we read, then, we can live it and instruct and correct others along the way.
“Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16.
There are so many things in this world that sound like wisdom, but are contrary to the Word of God. It troubles me when I see fellow believers quoting false prophets on social media. The Word tells us, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1. We cannot do that if we don’t know the Word. So, let’s take a walk through the Word, so that together we can shine the light of the Word into the darkness of this world.

Saying– God never gives us more than we can handle/bear.
*Jesus said we will have troubles. There are many troubles we cannot handle on our own. God doesn’t want us to try to handle life in our own power. He promises that if we turn to Him, He will help us through them. This saying is a misrepresentation of this first verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Bible— “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33 HCSB
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4 ESV
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 NASB
“So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.” 2 Peter 2:9 NLT
“And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:13 HCSB

Saying– God helps those who help themselves.
*This is similar to the first saying. The world always wants us to look at ourselves and what we can do. But the truth is, this life is not about us, but about God in us. First, after telling us not to worry about anything (Matthew 6:25-32), Jesus tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34). God is the Helper to the helpless. He also expects His people to help others.
Bible — “But You Yourself have seen trouble and grief, observing it in order to take the matter into Your hands. The helpless entrusts himself to You; You are a helper of the fatherless.” Psalm 10:15 HCSB
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly….But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6,8 NIV
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You? ’ “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:37-40 HCSB
“Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.” Psalm 54:4 NASB

Saying–Moderation in all things.
*This sounds so biblical, but it’s really not. The Bible does speak a lot about self-control. It is even one of the nine parts of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). But there are definitely some things that we should avoid.
Bible — “Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away.” 1 Corinthians 9:25 HCSB
“’Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is helpful. ‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person. 1 Corinthians10:23-24 HCSB
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control, as against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 HCSB
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you.” 2 Peter 1:5-11 HCSB

Saying–Money is the root of all evil.
*This is a misquote of 1 Timothy 6:10. Money is just a thing. Like everything else in life it is our thoughts, attitudes, and affections for things that can cause us to sin. We need to realize that all we have comes from God and our trust needs to be in Him and not the things of this world. Worry over the things in life is putting our thoughts and energy into the wrong things. Worry is a form of fear. And there are about 365 verses in the Bible that tell us, do not fear, in addition to the ones on worry. It is fear and worry that cause people to put too much trust in money.
Bible — “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 NASB
“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.” Matthew 6:24 HCSB. Note: The Aramaic word translated as money is mamónas (mam-mo-nas’) which brings a broader definition of the word, “the treasure a person trusts in”.
“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you — you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ’ or ‘What will we drink? ’ or ‘What will we wear? ’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34 HCSB
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 HCSB

Saying–We are all God’s children.
* We are all God’s creation, but the Bible is clear about who are God’s children. Only those who are born again by receiving Jesus are adopted by God.
Bible — “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–” John 1:12 NIV
Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 HCSB
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 NIV
“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” Ephesians 5:1 HCSB
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him.” 1 John 5:1 HCSB

These next few may not be sayings, as such, but the beliefs are widely held.

Belief–He’s a good person, he will be okay.
*I have been told this on multiple occasions in regards to my unsaved husband. But this is not what the Bible teaches. This is a lie of the enemy. The measuring stick is not your goodness compared to the goodness of other people, but compared to a pure, sinless God. Jesus was the only person ever to live a sinless life. From the first sin in the Garden of Eden God instituted the blood sacrifice choosing to substitute the life of an animal for the life if the sinner. The greatest gift God has given us is the life of His Son Jesus. He became the last and best “spotless Lamb”, the final blood sacrifice for sin. We no longer need to sacrifice animals to cover our sins. His blood washes clean all those who are repentant and receive Him as their Savior. It is only through repentance and receiving Jesus as our Savior and Lord that we are saved and inherit eternal life.
Bible — “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23 NIV
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NIV
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us —not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy —through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been •justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 HCSB

Belief–All religions lead to the same place.
*The whole of the Bible points to the truth that there is only One God and One Way to Him, Jesus.
Bible —  “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 HCSB
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.” John 11:25 HCSB
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.” John 3:16-18 HCSB
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:9-10 HCSB

Belief–I am within my rights to not forgive someone who has hurt me, it would let them off the hook.
*Forgiveness is not about letting the offender off the hook. God has forgiven us our sins; how can we not do the same for others. Jesus commands us to forgive, and our own forgiveness depends upon it. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness in our hearts. Forgiving is for our own benefit, so that our hearts don’t become hard.
Bible — “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?  “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven. Matthew 18:21-22 HCSB
All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Ephesians 4:31-32 HCSB
No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person. 1 Corinthians 10:24 HCSB
“[Love] does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 1`3:6 HCSB

If you have any questions about whether a saying or belief is biblical, ask your question in the comments. If you enjoyed this article, please like it and share it with your friends.

Grace, blessings, and peace,
Julia

Transforming Thoughts and Attitudes

What does a godly life look like? The Bible is full of answers to that question. Many books, magazine articles, and even movies have been written on the subject. If I were to boil it down to one sentence I think it would look something like…Humble yourself in obedience to God, giving up your ways for His ways.

My husband is not a believer. When we were first married I knew I had to be the spiritual leader of our family, because he was not, but I wound up taking the lead in everything. I think in some ways I devalued him in our children’s eyes and my own. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time. I thought I was doing the right thing. 

I regret to say that it was about 22 years or so into our now 37 years of marriage God really started to shake me up about what it means to be a godly wife. I was starting a small group for unequally yoked women. If I was going to lead, I needed to learn how to follow. Not something that this control-freak of a woman wanted to hear. That meant learning to follow God more closely and following my husband. Being married to a non-believer did not exempt me from being what God commanded me to be as a wife, including submitting to my husband. I had allowed myself to believe, because he is an unbeliever, I did not need to submit to him. Some of the women in our unequally yoked study group didn’t want to hear this, either. They just wanted the 12-step plan to fix their husbands, but all God [and I] were offering were the steps to growing ourselves into godliness.

We cannot change our husbands. We cannot choose salvation or anything else for them. We are not their keepers. We were created to be their helpmates. That word does not do justice to the original Hebrew words ezer and neged meaning helper and opposite or compliment  respectively. We were created to help, but also to compliment or complete the man. Before anyone starts getting upset with me let me say I am not being sexist. God created men and women to be different in many ways. We are designed to compliment and complete each other. That is the way God created us and why God said that a husband and wife become one flesh. Together we are a whole unit. We each have God-given roles to fill in the family. Instead of fighting that in the name of equality we should embrace our role as woman, wife, and mother.

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I could not grasp how I could submit to my husband when he was not a believer and he was not being the godly husband described in Ephesians 5. God told me that I needed to submit to hubby in everything, so long as it did not cause me to sin. That was a real eye opener and a real paradigm changer. God set me on a path to change my thoughts, attitudes,  and behavior.

It had taken a long time for us to get into the pattern of behavior we had toward each other. We were almost emptynesters and at times it felt like we were more like roommates than a married couple. 

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It was not an easy thing to make these changes. It took a whole lot of seeking God and perseverance. When God is at work we need to have patience and not give up (Galatians 6:9, 2 Thessalomians 3:13. I know, that word, patience, has become a bad word to many. I/We don’t like having to be patient, but it is one of the nine parts of the Fruit of the Spirit  (Galatians 5:22-23) and as such is a key component to godly living. God’s Word is full of commands to wait and be patient on God’s timing. His ways and His thoughts are not like our own (Isaiah 55:8-9). Yes, He loves us as we are, but too much to leave us where we are. Our words and actions in everyday interactions are the true witness to the power of God at work within us. We can try to witness to others (even within our own family) with all the right Christian lingo and Bible verses, but if our lives don’t match up with that it will mean nothing. The legacy we want to leave with our family and friends is one that shows how having faith and living in Jesus with Him as Savior AND Lord is The Way of Life.

The first thing I had to learn was to put hubby second only to God. He had to come first even before me. Jesus said, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” Mark 9:35b ESV.

Next I needed to learn about my hubby. For example, hubby works a 50 hour week and needs his down time. When we were first married I didn’t understand that and I felt neglected and got angry. God taught me to stop thinking selfishly. He helped me to realize how my hardworking hubby needed that time to decompress after a long day. When I started looking at it as a gift to him and stopped complaining, he started spending more time with me, even if it is a fairly silent dinner or sitting side-by-side watching TV.

I learned that men bond in different ways than women do. Men bond side by side with other men watching a sport or doing an activity, while women bond over face to face conversations (and food). When I start looking at how God created us differently I stopped taking those differences as a personal offense and instead started learning to understand and embrace our differences.

I read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I could not get hubby to read it, but I did talk to him about what I learned from it and what I learned helped me understand him even more. I figured out that his love language is acts of service and mine are physical touch and words of affirmation. He uses his own love language more than mine to “speak” love to me. So, now I have learned to recognize, appreciate, and receive his acts of service as a gift of love, even though he is using his love language and not mine. It may sound like I do a lot of accommodating for him, but in some ways he does a lot of accommodating for me, too.

Confession time. I am a pack rat and not a very good housekeeper. I would rather do anything else besides clean house,  do dishes, or do laundry. Since I am currently a homemaker (as I pursue a speaking and writing ministry) I do not expect a lot from hubby at home with chores. When I make sure he has clean clothes and good food to eat, these acts of service speak love to him. I am still working on the clean and uncluttered home. I’ve discovered that clutter stresses him out and that is one of the reasons he will hide out in his den. If I want him around me more I need to be more diligent with keeping a tidy home.

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I once dressed up as a social butterfly for Halloween at work ( butterfly wings, and I hung a phone, calendar, etc. all over me). That’s me. A very social person. I like to talk. I like to do things and go places. Hubby is more of a homebody when he isn’t working. I have friends with whom I love to hang out. Some weeks I am out nearly every day. That’s out of balance. I know that. I am working on it. But it’s hard because it’s fun. Housework isn’t fun, it’s work. But when I start thinking about how it affects how hubby perceives my love for him, it should change my attitude towards it. I say should because it hasn’t translated into a regular course of action yet. 

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When God began working this all out in me our small group was going through a study on the dreaded Proverbs 31 woman (Proverbs 31:10-31). It definitely was a God-thing, because I didn’t like her very much. She just seemed too perfect. But as we went through the study I realized a few things.

1) A husband  needs to feel he can trust his wife to feel secure, especially in regards to fidelity and finances.

2) A husband needs to know his wife appreciates him and respects him.

3) A wife needs to look after the welfare of her husband, family, and her home (The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 NIV). Instead of being the unattainably perfect woman we dread hearing about, the Proverbs 31 woman is a guide to us in how to be a godly woman and wife.

It’s all a matter of perspective and attitude. Our lives and our marriages are what we make of them. We can only change and control ourselves,  but when we change we will often see change in our spouses as well. This isn’t just a marriage concept either. I have seen it work with co-workers and my children.

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These changes and any other real, godly changes in me have all stemed from the fact that I am a child of God and I want to please and obey Him. It is part of growing in the relationship I have with Him. But I have to really want the relationship more than whatever “rights or attitudes” He wants to pull out of me, so He can fill me with the Fruit of His Spirit. If I want more of His presence I need to present myself as a humble servant, just as Jesus did when He humbled Himself in taking human flesh to serve us and die in our place.  Real, lasting change has to be in God’s timing and power. I fail miserably when I try to do things in my own power. I am too weak, but God’s power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

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I had to learn to put away selfish desires and look at the needs of others first Philippians 2:4). It is a hard thing to shift from the “I am number one” attitude that the world shouts out at the top of its lungs to the J.O.Y. mindset.

Jesus first
Others
Yourself

Life in Christ is not about our rights, but about being righteous in His strength and power (2 Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 4:13). Isn’t it such a relief to know that God is okay with our weaknesses, because it allows His grace and power to work in and through us. It is a witness to others around us. But God also requires us to take a step in faith, in obedience, and sometimes even in fear and He will show up and help, guide, and strengthen us in it. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, but it IS worth the effort. And since God is completely trustworthy we can trust Him with the outcome of our obedience.

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Other things I am learning from our friend, the Proverbs 31 woman, are about setting priorities, money and time management. She is a hard worker and she makes wise decisions (v. 25-26). She makes their home beautiful and her family is well dressed (v. 21-22). She runs her household well and takes good care of her children (v. 27).

Part of this is making sure they are raised in a godly way. Making sure to instruct them in prayer and the ways of the Lord. This should come before extracurricular activities and those activites should not interfere with attending church, youth group,  etc. I have seen it too many times in the years I spent working with youth. The children of parents who allowed sports and other activities to take precedence over godly things were the children who wandered away from the Lord as they grew up. Our family activities centered around church, youth groups, etc. and family. Despite the fact they only had one believing parent all of our children are serving the Lord and raising their children to do the same. It is so important to raise them with the right priorities and help them to develop their own faith. That’s something else I have seen often. Children taken to church and Sunday school, but not taught prayer, reading the Bible or any other faith-building activities at home. We cannot rely upon church and Sunday school attendance to change our children alone. They need parental guidance and examples to form their own faith and relationship with God in Jesus.

Becoming a believer is not the end of the road, but just the beginning. We are made a new creation when we become a believer, but the transformation of our minds – thoughts and attitudes – is just beginning. But Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is right there to walk us through it, teach, correct, and encourage us on our way. Praise the Lord!

How is Jesus working in your life to change your thoughts and attitudes? Please share in the comments section.

Blessings and peace,

Julia

 

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An Ostrich or a Lion?

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I have been getting a lot of inspiration from Pinterest lately. This adorable photo made me smile and question myself,  “Do I ever do this?” Yes, I believe I do, on ovcasion, but I would like to do it a whole lot more! What about you?

We should wake up in the morning smiling because we know our Redeemer lives (Job 19:25) and nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). If the things of life are weighing us down we need to give it all to Jesus and stop trying to do life in our own power. Jesus offers us an exchange – our heavy load for His light yoke (Matthew 11:28-30). His yoke is not a yoke of slavery, but a yoke of help and guidance, so we don’t have to do anything in our own strength, but in Jesus’ strength (Philippians 4:13).

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Just knowing we belong to God, that He has adopted us into His family, should be enough to plaster a permanent smile on our faces. We need to train ourselves to be constantly aware of God’s presence with us. He has promised to never leave us alone (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8). If you would like a book to read on this,  I highly recommend, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. We can know God’s presence every moment and be in constant communication with Him if we choose to open our spiritual eyes to see.

Jesus has promised His rest, joy, and peace to us despite our circumstances (Matthew 11:28-30; John 14:27, 15:11, 16:24 & 33, 17:13). So why do we so often become frustrated, stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed by life?

A) Sometimes we don’t start our day with the Lord and even if we do way be rushing through without taking time to just soak in His presence and listen to His voice.

B) We take our focus off of Jesus and look at the storm around us instead of taking the trouble to the Lord in prayer and leaving it in His hands.

C) We try to handle things, especially “little” things, in our own power. Big or small God wants to be a part of it. It may seem small at first, but it could become a bigger problem later, specially if we aren’t operating in God’s wiadom, power and timing. Also, we never know how God will use even the small things in our lives for His glory, so it is better to do everything in Him and get it right the first time.

No matter what is going on in our lives just knowing we belong to Jesus is enough to keep us at peace. It doesn’t mean we don’t experience pain, but Jesus is in the pain with us, He surrounds us, and He fills us with His presence and power to go through it with His peace and the joy of His presence  (the Joy of the Lord is our strength – Nehemiah 8:10). In Him we can be strong and courageous.

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Finally, don’t be an ostrich with your head buried in the sand. Be a lion! Acknowledge that there are evil spiritual forces at work in this world (Ephesians 6:10-13, 1 Peter 5:8-11). Denying they exist won’t make them go away, but it will make us unprepared for the inevitable battles ahead. If we arm ourselves with God’s armor (Ephesians 6:14-18), humble ourselves and submit to God (1 Peter 5:6-7, James 4:7) we can stand against all the devil’s schemes and attacks without fear or worry and make the devil flee from us.

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Have you ever noticed that there is no armor for the back? That’s because with God on our side there is no reason to fear. We are not to turn and run or hide. We are to stand firm and face the enemy. We are strong and courageous with God on our side.

I know that when I take the time to seek God’s presence, His wisdom, and His strength I feel it and know I can face whatever it is in His peace. I had a scare about 3 years ago with a suspicious mammogram. I had to go for a follow-up ultrasound which led to a biopsy. I had determined in the waiting between each appointment that I was not.going to worry. I knew God had me. When I went in for the biopsy the staff and the doctor were all being so caring and encouraging. They were also very puzzled by my calm demeanor. That’s not what they usually see. I was able to shine some light that day by explaining that I was not worried or afraid because I had God’s peace in heart. Praise God it was benign! But it was a huge deal for me, because I am by nature a big time worrier. In Christ we are new creations. Our old nature is gone and is replaced with a godly nature of courage and strength. Can I get an amen?

Blessings and peace,

Julia

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Creator, Lord, Savior

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I was reading Psalm 33 this morning and I don’t know when I have ever wanted to underline every verse in a chapter before. Amazingly this Psalm is annonymous.

I get sad when I am in a worship service and the people are standing still and some aren’t even singing. Most of the time when I worship I want to sing, clap, dance, and shout for joy! Of course there are times when worship is more quiet and contemplative, but when it is an upbeat song I just want to clap and dance my heart out like David before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14ź16,21-22)!

I remember a song I love about this passage in 2 Samuel, “Undignified” by Matt Redman. I can’t sit still when I hear this one, can you?

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I find verses 4 and 5 so reassuring. God’s Word is true, there’s no denying it! God is utterly [completely and without qualification] trustworthy! His love is unfailing,  we know this, but do you ever think about His love filling the whole earth? His love is a gift available to everyone everywhere. He does not hide it from some and lavish it on others. If we don’t know His love it is because we have not reached out to Him to receive it. He loves us whether we acknowledge and accept it or not.

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Psalm 33 moves on to talk about the power of God being so great that all of creation was formed by the Lord by merely speaking the Words and it came into existence. When we are conceived in our mother’s womb He speaks over us as well. He places into our DNA everything we will need to be the person He created us to be, with the personality, gifts, and talents we will need to fulfill His plan and purpose for our life (Genesis 1:26, Psalm 139:13-18, Jeremiah 1:5)…with HIS help. We must learn to trust and follow Jesus, His plan and timing.  When we doubt ourselves we are really doubting God. God did not create us to do life alone in our own power. The Fruit of the Spirit is produced in us as we learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to learn how to properly use our personality, gifts, and talents in the way God intended. He wants us to work with and through Him to fulfill His plan and purpose for our lives. As long as we draw breath there is a purpose to our lives. Not one of us is useless in God’s Kingdom. And not one of us is ever alone. Not only do we have the Holy Spirit living inside us we have a whole family of brothers and sisters around the world. Awesome God!

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Yesterday being the 4th of July brings this verse front and center. Our country was founded on biblical principles and faith in Almighty God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Oh how we have strayed from that foundation in our society today. Please join me in praying daily for our country to return to the Lord and turn from our wicked ways, before God completely lifts His hand of blessing and protection from the U.S.A.

Holy God, Mighty Lord, Gracious Father, we lift up America before Your throne confessing the sins of her people. We have not treasured the lives of the unborn and elderly. We have twisted Your Word to allow us to live in sin and call it good. We have lifted up idols of self, money, “toys”, sex, drugs…. and called it good. We have done unspeakable things in your name and called it right. Bring us to repentance and forgive us Lord. Bring revival among believers and fill us with a passion for Your name, that we would go into the world shining the light of Jesus with Your love and grace in every word and action.  May we once more become one nation under God! Thank You Lord! Be glorified in our lives and land! In Jesus’ name, amen.

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When we put our faith and trust in the Lord He takes care of us. We have no need to fear anything, even death itself, because to be absent from the body is to be present with our Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).

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What can I say about these last 3 verses? Waiting. We have to learn to be good wait-ers. God’s timing is not like ours. We become impatient, but God uses these times of waiting to ripen in us the fruit of peace, patience, and also joy, because our peace and joy should not depend upon our circumstances,  but solely upon the fact we belong to God and no one can snatched us from His hands (see John 10:27-30 below). 

I pray the last verse over each of you…Let Your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon  __ [insert your name in all blanks], even as she hopes in You! And may __ know the depth and breadth of your love for her. May ___ put her complete faith and trust in You to absolutely depend upon You in all things. And that ____would  know wothout a doubt that Your plan is not to bring her harm, but to bring her hope and a future. Help ___ to fine tune her ears to hear Your voice, Good Shepherd, and follow only You. In Your name, Jesus, amen.

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I would.love to hear from you in the comments below!

Blessings, grace, and peace,

Julia

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Seek The Lord and Be Glad

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A Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving
By Julia Melatis 

Look unto the Lord, all you people;
Seek Him with all your heart and be glad!
For the Lord is the Everlasting God
He gave His Son’s life for yours.
He loves you with an unfailing love.
He wants to be your Father, to adopt you as His child.
Turn to the Lord and repent of your sins and He will wash away the stain.
He will clothe you in robes of righteousness washed in Jesus’ blood.

Selah (pause and think about that.)

Love Him with all your heart!
Seek His wisdom and guidance.
His Word stand true forever.
Of His Kingdom there is no end.
He loved YOU and chose YOU before creation.
His wisdom and power are beyond our comprehension.

He set the sun, moon and stars into motion and aligned the planets. 
He created every living thing. 

He governs the universe and yet He knows each of us by name. 

Holy and just in our God. 

There is no one else like Him.

Selah

He offers peace and joy to the faint of heart.
He gives comfort and healing to the broken and abused.
He satisfies our hunger with The Bread of Life and quenches our thirst with His Living Water.
Come to Him all you who are weary and worn and you will find rest for your souls.
Those who trust in Him with all things, will sleep sweet without worry or fear.
The Everlasting God is always with those who trust in His name. He never grows tired nor does He slumber.
He fights on our behalf and gives us HIS strength in our weakness, to defeat our enemy the devil, the father of lies.

Selah

Praise the Lord, all you His people!
Shout aloud and clap your hands! 
Rejoice and be glad for He has rescued us from the fires of hell and blessed us with His indwelling Holy Spirit, to teach us, guide us, comfort and correct us.

He has adopted us as His children and made us co-heirs with Christ Jesus to His Kingdom and eternal life.

Praise be to the Lord our God!
His love endures forever and of His Kingdom there is no end!

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Navigating Life’s Storms

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This canvas spoke to me when I first saw it in of all places, the “Icing” jewelry and accessories store in the mall. I just had to buy it. It reminds me of so any Bible verses, including the story of Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14:22-33 (ESV).

22Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat by this time was a long wayb from the land,c beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 28And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind,d he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Jesus did not calm the sea before telling Peter to come to him. He called Peter to walk to Him on the stormy sea. Peter stepped out in faith, but he faltered when he saw the wind. Why? He took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the problem. How often do we do that? We start out strong with our eyes on Jesus, but when troubles arise our gaze goes to the troubles and we begin to worry, fear, and doubt. We become so fixated on the problem we forget to turn to the problem solver. Jesus promises us that though we have troubles we can take heart,  because he has overcome the world (John 16:33).

The thing I love about Peter is his heart.
Peter was the only disciple to step out of the boat. He wanted to be a man of great faith. He did have faith enough to get out of the boat and take some steps before sinking, and he was the only disciple that made it out of the boat.

I also identify with Peter. I think many people do. He had a habit of acting and speaking without thinking, aka “foot-in-mouth disease.” He sometimes had a problem with pride. Though these things are negatives, they do show he had a heart that wanted to do right. His biggest failure was the night Jesus was betrayed.

27And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”29Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. Mark 14:27-31 ESV

Pride. Short lived pride. Peter wanted to be everything he said to Jesus, but fear overtook him. On the water. In the Garden of Gethsemane. When he denied Jesus not once, or twice, but three times outside of Jesus’ trial. When Peter heard the rooster crow twice after his third denial he wept bitterly (Mark 14:72), because he knew he failed, again. Can you imagine how Peter must have felt, denying His Lord that way?

I have beaten myself up emotionally over past failures. There was a point in my life I was sure that God could never love me or forgive me for the things I had done. And when that point came, God spoke life and hope to me through my Father. He said, quite loudly, “How dare you?! How dare you not forgive yourself when God already has?! Are you better than God?!” That was a turning point for me, my faith, and my whole life, and my children’s lives and their children’s lives (Psalm 103:17).

I am sure that Peter must have felt so ashamed of himself.  It must have been a hard three days while Jesus was buried. And what must have been going through Peter’s mind when he first saw the resurrected Jesus? How could he possibly look Him in the eye? How could Jesus forgive him for denying Him?

Jesus knew Peter’s heart and his weaknesses. It didn’t stop Him from calling Peter as His disciple. Some of the disciples had a not so savory past. But Jesus called them, too. Jesus is not so much concerned with where we’ve been as He is where we’re going. Before Jesus ascended to heaven He reinstated Peter.
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17The third time he said to him,“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” John 21:15-19 NIV

Jesus wanted Peter and us to know that He knows we will mess up from time to time, but He does not define us by those things and we should not either. By nature we have weaknesses, but God spoke these words to Paul, and they echo down through the centuries to speak to us as well…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

If we repent of our failures and submit to God’s leading, His grace will make us stronger and better able to serve Him and those He brings into our lives. He makes us overcomers by His power at work within us. The only way we truly fail is if we don’t learn from our mistakes and allow them by God’s grace to help us overcome future temptations and to speak life and hope to others in need of Jesus’ love, grace, and forgiveness.

So, don’t beat yourself up and define yourself by the times you stumble and fall.  Take the mess to the Creator and let Him turn it into a beautiful message of hope for others.

If a sailor never face a stormy sea, he would never truly know what kind of sailor he is, because his skills are not tested. It is the same for us as believers. It’s easy to profess a deep faith when life is calm and trouble free, but when trouble comes and we feel tossed about, does our faith carry us through or do we lose control and sink our boats? If we turn over the helm of our boats to Jesus the wind may toss us about and some water may lap over into the boat, but we will not lose control and sink. He will help us bail-out the boat and sail us into a safe port.

Blessings and peace,

Julia

#ChoosingJoy #LivingPraise #AnchoredInHope #FaithSeesWhatEyesCannot

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Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

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I saw this meme on Pinterest and it got me thinking. Our thoughts and our words can keep us from living in the freedom Jesus died to give us.

Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Renewing our minds, changing our thinking, is so important! When we receive Jesus as our Savior He releases us from the past and we become a new creation. We receive the Holy Spirit who guides us, teaches us, and convicts us of new sins.  It takes longer for our thoughts to change. We have a history of thinking certain things about ourselves. We need to train our thoughts to think the things God says about us. We need to become intimate with Scripture, so it can work to transform the way we think. All to often we think negatively.  Certainly the majority of our entertainment contains negative, violent, and crude images and language. Commercials, magazines, and the like are full of ads and images telling us we don’t measure up. That we will be happy if we only buy this product, lose weight…whatever it is they are trying to sell. It’s no wonder we have trouble with our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This is how we transform our minds, by changing what we think about. Just as our bodies are what we eat, so our thoughts are what we see and hear. The things we watch, listen to, and read influence our thoughts and therefore our actions. The best place to start is with Scripture. Reading studying, and memorizing (hiding it in your heart) the Word helps us to change our thoughts. 

When we allow the lies, fears, and doubts the enemy plants in our thoughts to stick around they can render us ineffective for God’s kingdom. Perhaps you’ve been told you’re worthless. Jesus says you are valuable. Maybe you feel lonely and unlovable. Jesus loves you and He is always near you! Whatever lies you’ve been told about who you are,  Jesus says, I gave My life for YOU! 

Stop owning things by calling them “mine.” My attitude, my anger (I’m Irish or ____, so I can’t help it), my illness, my______, whatever it is, and give it to Jesus. He is waiting to take it all away from you. He says give your burdens to me and rest in my presence. Let me be your Provider, your Healer, your Refuge, and most of all your King. He wants us to let His love, joy, peace, and hope rule in our hearts and minds.

Whether you have been a follower of Jesus for just a short time or many years I would venture to say that there are probably some thoughts,  habits, or other things in your life that you have not surrendered to God. Jesus wants every part of us. When we hold back parts of our lives from God we are essentially saying we don’t trust Him with it and making it an idol. Ouch! Maybe you’ve never considered it that way before. When we hold back on God we are only hurting ourselves and our relationship with Him.  Jesus is waiting with arms wide open for you to give those things to Him, so you can find rest for your soul. Reach out to him today with your arms outstretched and hands wide open, so He can take those burdens from you and fill you with Himself – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control (fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23). 

Blessings, grace, and peace,

Julia