“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.””Deuteronomy 31:8 NLTI’m reading a devotional on You Version called “21 Ways to Thrive by 45.” Today’s reading was about facing fear by putting our focus on Jesus and trusting Him. The scripture for today was Deuteronomy 31:6-8 and Psalms 56:3-4 . I’ve heard Deuteronomy 31:6 multiple times in my life. At one point I had it written on an index card taped to my desk as a daily reminder. But I’m not sure the passage from Psalms 56 has ever resonated with me before. I had to read it twice this morning before I felt God nudge me about these two verses. It’s summer time where I live. In a month or two the leaves will start changing color, the temperature will turn cooler and the evenings will get darker earlier. Although this is a beautiful time of year with backdrops full of bright yellow, orange and red, this is also a warning sign that winter is right around the corner. For some, this brings the excitement of winter activities such as snowmobiling or skiing. For me, because this also means poor road conditions, it brings fear.Today’s verses reminded me of a time that I found myself caught in an ice storm. My children had had doctor appointments in late afternoon. Although it was the middle of winter, driving to their appointments, the roads were quite clear. However in a short period of time, freezing rain came down and turned the roads into an ice skating rink. I had a 20+ mile drive home. I proceeded with great caution.What should’ve been less than a 30 minute commute was taking well over an hour as I creeped and crawled in my vehicle to ensure I wouldn’t lose control. Vehicles in my area tend to be equipped with four wheel drive but that doesn’t help on ice. Four wheel drive on ice just means you have four wheels spinning out of control instead of two. The closer we got to our home, the worse the road conditions get. The hills also seem to increase frequency and depth.Two miles before home I stopped at the top of a very steep hill. It was dark with freezing rain still falling from the sky. The ice covered road before me had a bright sheen when my headlights hit it. I thought about the best approach for this hill and then I proceeded. My slow decent took a turn for the worst as my vehicle did a complete 180 and I found myself stuck in a ditch, in the wrong lane facing on-coming traffic. With no success, I tried getting out of the ditch and back up the hill. I realized I was going to have to proceed down the hill backward. As I slowly let my foot off the brake to begin backing down the hill, the ice took over and my car slid backward, landing at the bottom of the hill completely parallel to the crossroad that was ahead of me. I was now taking up both lanes. This was a narrow road with large drop offs on either side. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to get my vehicle turned straight into the proper lane and moving forward again. I prayed. I panicked. I constantly reassured my kids that we were going to be ok. But I was shaking with fear. I feared rolling my vehicle. I didn’t fear for my safety-but I feared greatly for the safety of my children. I’m a momma bear by nature and will risk life and limb to protect my children.I also knew that I couldn’t stay where I was at because any traffic coming from either direction could’ve hit us. My daughter was riding in the front seat, my son in the back. All of us had seatbelts on. I grabbed my daughter’s hand. I told my kids I had to get us out of there and proceeded to straighten out my car. Each attempt pulled me closer to the drop off on the right side of the road. In my mind I had already accepted that rolling the vehicle was inevitable. But I spoke out to my children saying “It’s ok. We’re going to be ok. God is going to protect us.” Just as my vehicle pulled farther to the right and I knew we were going into that drop off, my vehicle straightened and I was facing the right direction again. I drove a few feet away from the drop off, pulled to the side of the road then called for help. Tears of fear and relief flowed as I sobbed on the phone to the person I called. God protected us in a mighty way that night. Do you know every winter I still get anxiety over driving on bad roads? Do you know I still wrestle with fear, struggling to sleep some times? I also avoid chasing my dreams and rarely putting myself out there because of fearing rejection. The verses from Psalms 56 were a great reminder to take my focus off fear and remember Who is really in control. It’s also a great reminder that He promises to protect us whether it be bad roads, bad relationships, poor health, toxic situations, etc. When we focus on the what-ifs we give fear and anxiety all the control. We may even become paralyzed and unable to move forward because we’re listening to fear (or get ourselves stuck in a ditch because we tried to handle the circumstance in our own wisdom.) But when we stand on the promises of Deuteronomy 31:6-8 and Psalms 56:3-4 peace overthrows fear because we know that God is watching over us. Fear is a choice. Trust is too. Do not fear. Choose instead to trust in the One who promises to protect us always.
“So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword.”
1 Samuel 17:50 NLT
There are times in our lives when we come against a mountainous Goliath. This person could come in the form of a school bully, a domineering spouse, a manipulative boss or even from a parent, sibling or close friend. Whatever form, they are a person who seeks to have power and control over you. They display an overwhelming strength that can be very intimidating. Your instinct is to want to fight them but fear, lack of resources perhaps or some other barrier keeps you from doing so. Maybe you do fight back but their coarse words or even physical strength leave you feeling even more defeated. You may cry out for help but no one seems to be willing to stand up to the giant. Maybe it feels as though God will never send help. I am confident David’s people knew exactly how that feels.
They prayed for God to send someone to defeat this overpowering beast who killed off anyone who even attempted to take him on. Day after day Goliath taunted the Israeli army. The Israelites shook in fear of him. I am confident they wondered where God was and how He was going to redeem them from the Philistines. God answered by sending David (who interestingly enough enters this story as a delivery boy checking up on his brothers.) if you’re familiar with the rest of the story then you know that David, the unlikely hero, overcomes the giant through God’s divine intervention.
When we read this story, it’s easy to pray for God to send us a “David” to triumph over our giants. I’ve prayed this prayer many times hoping God would conquer my giants the same way. But what if, God’s plan is to empower you and/or me to be our own Davids? What if ultimately we are the ones who will stand up and defeat those who seek to dominate us?
If you’re thinking in human terms, you could be wondering how that would even work? Maybe you’re thinking it’s impossible even. Jesus’ answer to that would be: “…Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NLT) Clearly though, if God wanted us to defeat our enemy it would’ve happened by now right? But what if it hasn’t happened simply because we’ve failed to take a stand, set boundaries and say “Enough is enough. I will not tolerate this anymore.” Think about this: the Israelites HID from Goliath. David ran toward him. The Israelites trembled when Goliath spoke. David responded to Goliath’s taunts with this: “…You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies…” (1 Samuel 17:45 NLT) Verse 46 begins with “Today the Lord will conquer you…” David’s secret weapon was His confident faith that he could fight this behemoth bully because God ultimately would be the driving force behind his victory! Even when others told him he couldn’t fight Goliath, David refuted their words by reminding them of how God had already protected him from brute wild animals who threatened the lives of his sheep.
David’s triumph over Goliath is a reminder of the warrior God has made each of us to be. We aren’t made to be prisoners of war or ladies in waiting locked away in a tower guarded by a dragon. We were made to be conquerors over all the real enemy throws at us including bullies, controllers, abusers, and overbearing people. How do we do that? How do we fight and become conquerors in our own trials and tribulations? Here are some useful tips I have been applying in my own life to become the David who defeats my giants.
1.) Set boundaries for yourself that protect you physically, emotionally and spiritually. This may look like telling someone not to speak to you a certain way but could also mean having to cut off total communication if the person continues to be demanding, abusive, harassing, or manipulative. This may also come in the form of police involvement or obtaining a personal protection order if the person’s actions violate your physical safety.
2.) Controllers do not like boundaries or being told what to do so once boundaries are set, expect backlash or retaliation. Do NOT tremble or cower from this. Be consistent in setting boundaries no matter how intimidating your controller becomes. Even if your heart is racing and fear tries to consume you, stand firm.
3.) Pray continuously and stand on Exodus 14:14. The Lord will fight for you, you need only to remain calm!
4.) If name calling or manipulation is the weapon of choice for your giant, do not feed into their lies. Stand on God’s truth and focus on what God says about you. Our enemies will never define us as good. They will always seek to be destructive because of their toxic make-up. That is their issue-don’t make it yours. God’s opinion of us supersedes any other, especially that of our enemies.
5.) Read the book of Psalms. David was taunted by more than one giant in his lifetime. Psalms is full of times he had to repeatedly remind himself of God’s victories in his life. Even when he feared for his own and was hiding in a cave from Saul David continued to praise God as a way of reminding himself that God would deliver him once again. (Psalms 57 and Psalms 142.)
6.) Don’t focus on your enemies’ actions. This gives them more power and can grow more fear, develop a root of bitterness and turn you toxic. Focus on God’s ability and His promise of deliverance. Praise Him in your storm.
7.) Seek our wise counsel but recognize what is and isn’t helpful. Before David met Goliath, Saul tried protecting him with armor that actually would’ve hindered David from defeating Goliath. Our friends and family can have the most meaningful intentions and still give us advice that, if followed, could set us back instead of bringing victory.
8.) Pray. Not just for protection and victory but for guidance, strength, endurance, wisdom, discernment and grace. No matter how awful our enemy is, God calls us to love and forgive them. This request is the hardest for me to practice in my own life so as I am praying for you, please pray for me in this regard especially.
9.) Don’t go down the rabbit hole of arguing with them (another weakness of mine.) This will only lead to giving them control over your emotions and leave you feeling defeated. If you have to communicate with them-stick to the facts and ignore every attempt they make to discredit you.
10.) If your Goliath is a boss or supervisor, remind yourself that you are working for the Lord. If their actions are creating a hostile workplace or coming in the form of harassment then you may need to enlist help from Human Resources or legal assistance. Laws were created to protect people from harassment in the workplace and more people need to stand on these laws.
No matter your circumstance or who your Goliath is, God will deliver you. Sometimes God will send a David to help us. But other times, He brings out the David within us to bring a victory that exceeds what we could ever imagine. If you’ve been battling a Goliath for a long time, it’s time to ask God to show you the David within you. Then trust God to deliver you from your Goliath by taking a stand, setting boundaries, praying and forgiving.
“Then he asked [her], “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?””
Mark 4:40 NLT
This past weekend I was updating my playlist on Spotify. When you look up a particular artist the site will make suggestions of other artists in that same genre. I was downloading some 1990’s pop music and came across Mandy Moore. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a Mandy Moore fan so I downloaded a couple of her songs. One in particular was a rendition of “Have A Little Faith in Me.” I didn’t give it much thought then but later that afternoon when the song started playing God spoke deeply into me and the tears just flowed.
Are you familiar with the song? Read these two stanzas and I’m confident some if not most of you will be moved by them:
“When the road gets dark
And you can no longer see
Just let my love throw a spark
And have a little faith in me
And when the tears you cry
Are all you can believe
Just give these loving arms a try
And have a little faith in me…”
I immediately thought of my children and my heart’s desire for them. I long to be their constant and their comfort in this life. They are teenagers and faced with so many temptations and distractions from what God made them to be. I have to admit we aren’t diligent in attending church every week and our family prayers usually only occur during meal times and bed time. Family devotionals are non existent because of busyness and my being too tired to battle with them over a five minute reading. We do have talks about God but sadly they’re foundation is more sandy than on solid rock. I take full responsibility for failing in building a stronger spiritual foundation for them and my heart worries about their future far too often.
The first thing that ran through my mind when I heard this song was how deeply I long for my children to trust me. As their mom and the person responsible for molding them, I long for them to see that I have 20+ years of experience ahead of them and I only wish to use my wisdom to protect and guide them. As I was dwelling on these thoughts I felt the Lord tell that’s exactly how He feels about me and all of His children. He longs for us to trust in Him and to rely on His eternal wisdom to guide and protect us also.
God then reminded me of a text conversation I had with my daughter the week prior. It was past both our bedtimes and she texted me because she was afraid. She had watched a video on an end of the world prediction (stating the world is suppose to end April 18th) and it was so realistic to her that she was in a panic. I tried explaining the biblical version of the end of the world in an effort to bring her some peace of mind but it was ineffective. I felt myself getting frustrated because I was tired (I did mention it was past bedtime, right?) and being a believer in the Bible’s version of End times, I knew this prediction was utter nonsense. So of course I thought it was ridiculous to be panicked over nonsense.
I finally told her she had a choice to make. She could choose to believe her mom or to believe that video. She never answered that choice but after a few more texts she ended up falling asleep. I however was too on edge at that point to go back to sleep so I ended up watching an hour of a movie.
God used my own words to speak to me. He pointed out I (and you) can choose to trust God or we can choose to trust in our circumstances. When we have a little faith in Him (even faith the size of a mustard seed), we can move mountains (Matt 17:20.) When we choose to trust in our circumstances we build our foundation on sand which means our security and stability is ever changing, completely unstable and can be washed away with every ebb and wave life splashes upon us.
Did I mention that my daughter has admitted to not believing in God? Did I also mention that my son is struggling with his own rebellion that is not becoming of how he is being raised? My heart breaks for my children. My heart is desperate for them to be free of strongholds and walking in a close personal relationship with Jesus. My heart is filled with angst and guilt for the lack of effort I’ve made in developing them spiritually.
Yet God is faithful. He reminded of His work with Abraham and Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael, Jacob and Joseph, Moses and his mother, Hannah and Samuel, and of course Mary and Jesus. Each story is one of a parent or parents crying out to Abba over their child and God being faithful to protect them and bring salvation upon every one of them. He is calling me (and you) to trust that He will keep His promises over our children as well. Just as He did for those in the Bible, He will protect and bring salvation to my children and yours in His time and always in His way.
Take note-faith without actions is dead (James 2:17). So we need to plant seeds of salvation over our prodigal children. We need to cover them with prayer day and night. We need to call out the enemy and his henchmen binding up the enemy’s lies. We need to profess the blood of Jesus over ourselves and our children. And we need to NEVER stop believing in God’s ability to turn their hearts back to Him.
Just now God reminded me of St. Augustine. This was a man raised by a God fearing mother (St. Monica) and a pagan father. Although Augustine was raised in a church, when he reached a certain again his father sent him away to a place that exposed him to many worldly cultures. Monica’s heart was in total anguish. At one point, Augustine denounced God and even created his own religion. It was only when he had been stricken with a near fatal illness that he turned his heart and belief back to God and became an evangelist of his time. Just another example of a prodigal son whose prayer warrior momma refused to give up and whose faith moved mountains that brought about salvation.
Are you a prayer warrior momma bear like me? Are you an armor bearing dad who’s in the trenches willing to engage in spiritual warfare for your child’s eternity? Then fight with the faith of Gideon and pray with the persistence of this woman in Luke 18:
“There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’
Victory for our kids is certain by the power of Jesus Christ and the strength of our persistent prayers! Can I get an AMEN?!
There’s a Third Day song titled “I Need A Miracle.” The chorus goes like this: “Well no matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done, there will come a time when you can’t make it on your own. And in your hour of desperation know you’re not the only one, praying Lord above, I Need a Miracle.”
Hour of desperation is a pretty powerful lyric. How many have experienced such a time in their life? What does desperation even look like? Hour of desperation is that moment when your circumstance or situation seems completely hopeless. Maybe your jobless and you just ran out of money with rent due tomorrow. Maybe you’re in an abusive relationship and your partner just got drunk again which means it won’t be long before the angry words fly or holes get punched in another wall. Maybe you have a child who’s wandered away from the Christian foundation you built while raising her and says she has no belief in God. Maybe you married the wrong person and you feel stuck because God hates divorce or maybe you’re going through a divorce after marrying a person you believed was from the Lord but turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Maybe just maybe, you’re fighting a chronic illness or was just given news of cancer with only moments left of this life and told there’s nothing modern medicine can do. All of these situations and many others not listed are hours of desperation and definitely needs for miracles.
When we pray-God answers. He doesn’t always answer exactly the way we hope or expected, but He answers. Sometimes His answers are provision, redemption, transformation, healing or reconciliation. But sometimes His answers involved a painful refining process where our world is turned upside down and it feels as though He answered completely opposite of what we asked for. What we don’t realize is that refinement is a transforming, redeeming and healing answer that molds us deeper into His image and changes us more into who He designed us to be.
Whatever your Miracle is know this-God is with you. He hears you. And He will answer in His time and His way. When you can’t see His mighty hand moving, cling to the cross-lay your burden down at the alter and trust His way and His timing. Meditate on His word and remind yourself of these words from Jesus Himself:
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”
John 14:1, 6-7, 10-14 NLT
If I can pray for you, please email me at http://email@example.com
I’m a child of the 80’s. I love 80’s music, the fashion trends, old 80’s sitcoms and especially the brat pack movies like St. Elmo’s Fire, Breakfast Club and my all-time favorite, Pretty In Pink. My kids are so aware of this that whenever we hear the song, “1985” by Bowling for Soup they both tend to yell out, “Hey mom, here’s your song!” Ironically there’s a classic 80’s song that’s come to mind this Christmas season and not because it’s a Christmas carol of sorts. In fact, it’s one of peppy Madonna song called “Material Girl.” I think it’s prevalent right no, because Christmas is the best time of year to get caught up in materialism and totally miss the true meaning of Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, the song is a fun tune and if heard on just the right day (like when I’m home alone with no audience) you could catch me dancing to it just like Madonna in the actually video. But the chorus lyrics say it all when we get caught up on the retail side of Christmas: “We are living in a material world and I am a material girl.” To be honest-I am definitely guilty of being caught up in the “material world” especially at Christmas time.
I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday. It’s the only day I truly love winter because it doesn’t feel like Christmas without a blanket of snow covering the yard. I love decorating the tree, hanging the stockings and enjoying the glow of twinkling lights on a cold December’s evening. Because it’s my favorite holiday, I long for everything to be perfect right down to the gifts I purchase. And that’s where I get caught up in the material side.
I have two children and everyone knows I am an equal opportunity gifter. That means I make sure each of my children have the exact number of gifts and buy them similar gifts so neither thinks I favor one over the other. As a single mom, I also feel like I need to compete with gifts they will be receiving at the other parent’s home. Not because of the other parent. They’ve never made it a competition I suppose. It’s just something inside of me that feels I need to give the same kinds of gifts even though that kind of competition is not fiscally possible for me.
I was raised by a single mom in a Christian home. Christmases were always very modest and any gifts I received were valued blessings because money was not a luxury in our home. I remember one Christmas the furnace broke in our tiny apartment and my mom and I slept on a mattress in our kitchen using the electric stove as our source of heat. We opened presents in an ice cold living room and then spent the rest of the day in the one room that was warm. I never got the latest or most expensive toys, my clothes were usually hand me downs or hand made by my mom. But one thing my house was always full of was independence and love. And love is the greatest Christmas blessing I believe we can offer. Love is God’s Christmas promise to us. He said so in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son…” 1 John 4:19 says we love because God first loved us. His love for us is unconditional and has no end. And His love calls us to love others, even our enemies. He promises love to us and desires for us to show His love to everyone He puts in our path. But love isn’t the only Christmas promise God gives us. I believe there are five more that include, peace, joy, comfort, belief and miracles.
Peace is the second Christmas promise. God’s word shows us this promise when the angels greeted the shepherds with “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14) Philippians 4 tells us that God’s gift of peace is the kind that surpasses all human understanding, a peace that will guard our hearts and minds. (Vs 7.) Isaiah 26:3 tells us He keeps us in perfect peace when our minds are stayed on Him. In John 14, Jesus told His disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Godly peace is truly a gift from our Creator that is unexplainable. But if you ever experience it, you will know the Source of which that peace comes from.
Another Christmas promise is Joy. Have you ever found laughter amidst your sorrow? Have you ever smiled in spite of the fact that everything around seemed to be going wrong or falling apart? That’s joy. It’s like although you’re surrounded by mass chaos your heart can’t stop smiling. And why? Because you’re filled with joy that only comes from the Lord and you fully trust that He is in control. It doesn’t come naturally and just like all of our emotions, joy is a choice. No matter our circumstances we can choose joy. Christmas time always seems to bring a supernatural happiness that isn’t seen the rest of the year. Strangers smiling at each other, “Merry Christmas” wishes offered to even our enemies, and people “paying forward” blessings in a far more generous way. Why? Because Christmas is joyful. But joy is a promise of God we can choose year round. Part of that comes from being content in all circumstances. Not an easy thing to do but what a world of difference it makes when we choose joy instead of anger, bitterness, rage or unforgiveness.
Comfort is the fourth promise of Christmas. The bible has many verses about the Lord being near to the broken hearted. But do you know why Jesus was sent to the Earth? To be our Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6.) What are counselors best known for? Comforting those who are brokenhearted. You see Jesus’ birth was prophesied thousands of years before it came to pass to a people who was at war, enslaved and suffered great hardships. Even though most died before Christ’s birth, those who heard the story were comforted knowing redemption would happen. David understood God’s comfort best when he wrote Psalm 23. In verse 4 he boldly decrees, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” God never leaves us nor forsakes us. He is always with and He is our Mighty Comforter. Personally I’ve climbed up on my Heavenly Daddy’s lap many times in my life sobbing and pouring my grieved heart out to Him because I know He collects all of my tears and even grieves with me. When someone walks along side with you, collects your tears and grieves with you, that’s true comfort.
Belief is the fifth Christmas promise. The movie Polar Express has a great message about belief even though it’s about believing in Santa Claus. A little girl is taken through quite a journey to the north pole only to learn that she should believe in herself and her ability to lead. A little boy, traveling on the same train learns he can only hear sleigh bells when he chooses to believe in St. Nick. For us, belief works the same way. We go a lot further in life when we believe in our ability to be great and to do great things. Our kids are far more successful when they have parents, teachers and communities supporting them, encouraging them and believing in their ability to be the best. My home town alone showed that this football season when the entire community gathered to send off our local varsity football team with a police escorted parade as they traveled to the state semi-finals. In fact, a travel trailer sized sign was posted that said, “We Believe” in letters the size of a billboard. Even though our team didn’t win I believe those boys will go far in life knowing hundreds of people believe in them.
Just like the boy couldn’t hear Santa’s bells until he believed, we can’t hear God’s voice unless we believe. Belief is the biggest factor of faith. You can’t have big faith if you don’t believe. And what is faith? It’s “the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Another word for confidence? Belief! If you want to go far in this life you have to believe in the One who gave you life and believe in His ability to lead you in a journey that will exceed your wildest dreams.
The final promise of Christmas is the gift of miracles. The Christmas story itself is an epilogue of miracles-from Elizabeth getting pregnant with John the Baptist at a very old age, John leaping in the womb when Mary visits Elizabeth because he knew he was in the presence of Jesus, a virgin birth and even the wise men traveling a different route home (away from Herod) to prevent Herod from killing baby Jesus. Jesus’ ministry was all about miracles too-from his first miracle of turning water into wine to walking on water and his greatest miracle which was conquering death, not once, but twice (don’t forget He raised Lazarus from the dead before He raised Himself.) Christ’s birth, the real reason for this season, is the miracle that reminds us to believe in miracles for miracles still happen today. We are God’s vessels He uses to perform His miracles today. Just last night at a candlelight Christmas Eve service I learned of a white helmet squad who miraculous saved a baby that had been trapped under concrete for 16 hours in Aleppo which is a war stricken are in the Middle East. That’s a miracle. This time of year also circulates stories of underprivileged families receiving financial blessings after praying for a miracle. Personally I can tell you I have been blessed with miracles many times at Christmas. One year I was anonymously gifted with $400. Another year, after praying for God to give me provisions to bless a family in need and not seeing any room in my budget to give, God literally dropped a $200 prepaid visa card in my hands. And miracles don’t just happen in monetary instances. Miracles happen through healing, restoration and other provisions too. God is our Miracle maker. And they’re called miracles because they’re things only He can bring to pass. Christmas is a time to increase our belief in His miracles.
No matter what you’re facing this season, no matter whether your house is decorated or not, please don’t lose sight of these Christmas promises. Love, Peace, Joy, Comfort, Belief and Miracles are the true meaning behind Christmas. Keep your focus on His promises and you will carry Christmas in your heart all year through.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years! May God richly bless all of your lives in this Christmas season and especially in 2017.
“As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.”
1Samuel 17:48 NLT
The other night I had a spiritual warfare dream. In this dream, I had just moved into an older, two-story home with a large porch on the front. I found myself in the living room area immersed in fear of an evil presence. I tried crying out and rebuking the devil to cast out the evil but I had no voice. I felt helpless and paralyzed. I prayed for Christ to rebuke the enemy for me and to restore my voice. Suddenly I became bold and angry. Amidst a terror inside of me that was almost debilitating, I ran upstairs and started kicking in doors hollering at the enemy to show his face, daring him to come at me. I ran into dark unfamiliar rooms not knowing what would be on the other side of the door, terrified but determined to face my enemy. I was fed up with being afraid and I was chasing after this evil presence. There was a room at the end of the hallway with a light on. I never made it to that room. When I noticed the light on I called the enemy out again and told him to show himself. He came out of the lighted room cowering. When he appeared, he was nothing but a wiry, thin, pale faced thug-a thief who ran with his tail between his legs when I started ranting and thrashing at him to GET OUT!
Although I woke up exhausted, I had no doubt what my dream was telling me. I have lived in fear most of my life. Fear caused me to not try out for the softball team my freshman year of high school. Fear kept me from studying in France for 5 weeks when I was a college student. Fear kept me from pursuing my dream of being a professional singer/actor. Fear also kept me in an abusive relationship. It even still keeps me from visiting my dentist regularly. God used this dream to show me what I needed to do with fear. Face it. Run after it and kick it out of my soul. Fear has no place in ruling my life or yours.
I have read repeatedly that the Bible says “Do not fear” 365 times. Although I haven’t googled the validity of that statement, I’ve read enough of in Deuteronomy, Joshua and Isaiah alone to believe it’s true. In His word, God repeatedly tells us to NOT FEAR, to not be afraid and to be still. Each time He says it, He also adds, “for I Am with you…” The Great I Am is with us all the time, everywhere we go. Focusing on that alone should be enough to make us fearless. But for most, for me at least, it’s not. I needed God to show me how to not fear.
He not only showed me in my dream, He confirmed it this week through the story of David and Goliath. You don’t have to be a Christian to be familiar with the story of a shepherd boy who took on a 9 foot (2.74 meters) giant and killed him with a slingshot and 1 stone. Some probably think it’s simply a fictional Sunday school story. But the true believer knows it is truth because God’s word tells us so.
1 Samuel chapter 17 tells us David was Jesse’s youngest son. While his older brothers were at war, David went back and forth between the soldiers’ camp and the sheepfold to help his father keep watch on his older brothers and the family sheep. One specific day, Jesse, sent him to the camp with food for his brothers. When David arrived, the Israelites and Philistines were in the midst of war. David ran out to meet his brothers. This is the first time he sees Goliath taunting and terrorizing the Israelite army. Men older and “braver” than David were frozen in fear because of one enemy who towered over them and taunted them. To this point, anyone who had attempted to take on Goliath was murdered. In human thinking, their fear was completely valid.
David was a man after God’s own heart before he became King of Judah. What was David’s response to Goliath’s threats? “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?(vs 26b)” David had no fear of Goliath because David knew his God was bigger, stronger and mightier. He couldn’t understand why the Israelites were so afraid of this giant. David recognized who Goliath really was-He wasn’t an enemy of the Israelites, Goliath was an enemy of God. David knew no enemy of God’s ever wins-that confidence, made him fearless.
Even though David trusted God to defeat Goliath, he still received backlash from even his own family members regarding facing the giant. David’s older brother, Eliab, was angry with David for talking to the other soldiers and asked him, ““What are you doing around here anyway? “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle! (vs 28)” Eliab’s faith wasn’t as big as David’s and he didn’t see David as the man God created him to be. Eliab only saw David as his annoying little brother who was just an action-junkie going to get in the way and get himself killed.
I love David’s response to his older brother. “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question! (vs 29)” Then he walked over and asked other soldiers the same question. He didn’t bat an eye to his brother’s naysaying. I imagine David was already hearing God calling him to face this giant and he was determined to obey God. Nothing anyone said was going to deter David from his God ordained destiny or make him falter in his faith.
At this point, King Saul hears about David’s question and calls for him. When David meets King Saul, the young shepherd boy boldly and confidently tells the king, “Don’t worry about this Philistine…I’ll go fight him! (vs 32)” To which Saul replied, ““Don’t be ridiculous! …There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth. (vs 33)” And here’s what verses 34-37 tells us David’s reply was, “But David persisted. ‘I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,’ he said. ‘When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!’” The best part of that whole passage is the first sentence, but David persisted. In spite of his own family not believing in him, in spite of the law of the land at that time having no faith in him, David persisted because he trusted God to defeat the enemy. His persistent faith is what prompted Saul to finally say, ““All right, go ahead…And may the Lord be with you! (vs 37b)”
Even though Saul consented to David’s request, Saul still didn’t see David as the warrior God made him to be. Saul tried to dress David up in protective armor that actual held David back. If he had worn the man-made armor, David would have readily been defeated because it was too heavy, weighed him down, and not what David was used to. So David refused the armor and prepared for battle-how? He used what he knew, his staff and his slingshot. His ammunition was 5 stones. He ran toward his enemy, fearlessly and was practically a laughing stock to his family, the army he was fighting for and especially his enemy. David looked square at his enemy and said, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us! (vs 45-47.) He loaded his slingshot, took aim and nailed Goliath square in the forehead, then cut off his head. Did you catch that-David, a small shepherd boy killed a 9 foot giant by knocking him down with a slingshot and cutting off his head! Why was David victorious? Because he knew it was the Lord’s battle and he TRUSTED God to deliver the enemy to him.
When we lay our fear down, face the giants in His way and trust His might through us, He moves in a mighty way and makes us victorious too. David had no battle plan. He was simply a natural born warrior and he used what he knew trusting God to do the rest.
As I write this, I’m listening to a sermon by Todd White, entitled, No Longer a Slave to Fear. In this sermon Todd says, “[We] are not victims of circumstance-[we] are victorious. We are sons and daughters of the King. Let us not be bound by [the enemy’s] lies. Don’t let your hope be deferred. If it’s deferred, it’s because your hope isn’t set on what God says you are. It’s impossible to have your hope deferred by circumstance when your hope is set on Jesus.” The Israelites lived as victims. David lived as the victor through Christ. The Israelites lived without hope. David’s hope was set on His God. He knew, deep in his heart, that he was a mighty warrior made by God and that no enemy would be victorious in destroying his God-ordained destiny. Because he was not a slave to fear, God’s destiny for him came to fruition over and over again. David only knew defeat when he sinned against God or handled life by his own might. But even then, when David repented, God raised him up again and made him victorious over all his enemies.
We all have a God-ordained destiny. The only thing that can keep us from achieving that destiny is paralyzing fear. We have a choice to be like David who ran after his enemy or be like the Israelites who doubted God and fought battles in their own human strength. We can live to know who God made us to be, or we can live with a hope deferred and sick hearts (Proverbs 13:12.) We should definitely pray and know God’s destiny for ourselves but once we know, we have to go. As Todd White says, “we’re not going to pray about where to go, we’re just going to go. Why? Cuz’ ‘go’ is two-thirds of God (G-O-D.)” If God is telling you to go-then go, fearlessly, and let God guide you along the way.
To blindly go, we will need faith like David and like Abraham. When God told Abraham to go in Genesis 12, He didn’t spell out the plan step by step or detail by detail. God only said, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. (vs 1)” God said GO then He promised to SHOW. Too often we miss out on what God is calling us to do because we’re waiting for God to show before we go. We need to take that leap of faith and go first. Then trust God to show us the way. We need to trust that God is moving mightily defeating every enemy that attempts to block us from His destiny for us. But remember, He calls us to first GO. He calls us to run after our enemy and trust Him to bring the victory His way, and in His time. Let us stop floundering like a wave tossed to and fro and let us go after what He has already laid on our hearts to achieve for His purpose and glory.
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:14 NLT
I watched my first rugby match this morning. I follow a couple of rugby pages on Instagram and my newsfeed was blowing up with pics of this crazy game called “Origin”. I had no idea what “Origin” was or what the craze was all about. But I quickly learned. Actually, I still don’t know why they call it Origin but I learned what the craze of rugby was all about.
Prior to watching this game, my understanding of rugby consisted of it being a form of football where they wore no pads and dressed like soccer players. I knew the rules were a tad different but never studied it enough to fully understand the similarities or differences. Watching the match was a real eye opener that rugby is clearly in a league of its own.
Football and rugby both have an offense and defense. The offense moves the ball to the end zone/goal line, the defense does everything in their power to stop that from happening. Where American football has four downs (or four attempts to move the ball toward the end zone) Australian rugby offense can move the ball through 5 tackles before the ball is turned over to their opponent. But there’s a greater difference-In football, after each down, a new play is discuss and set up, a new strategy is planned before the ball is hiked and another attempt is made toward the end zone. What I watched in rugby, the team runs together in a horizontal line lobbing the ball to each other trying to bust past the defensive line. When they’re tackled, they get up, kick the ball slightly behind them to a team mate and the running/lobbing madness begins again.
Another difference is passing. There’s passing in rugby but it’s nothing like football. In American football, a quarterback can throw a spiral that’ll clear the defense to a receiver who can outrun the enemy. A quarterback with a strong throwing arm combined with a fast receiver makes for one tough high-scoring offense. I’m still trying to figure out how passing works in rugby, but I didn’t see any throws over the defense’s heads or someone running down field to catch and score.
Watching the offense move the ball to score a try (or touchdown) and the defense repeatedly tackle them was like watching a spiritual warfare battlefield. As Christians, we are the offense. Each day we are called to press on toward the goals we have in this life, accomplishing our God-given dreams. The enemy is the defense. He and his evil henchmen do everything in their power to tackle every move we make preventing us from reaching God’s goals for our life. If we’re tough like an Australian rugby player, we get right back up and keep moving only to again meet opposition and maybe get knocked down again. A vicious cycle until we wear out because let’s face it, the enemy doesn’t get tired.
As exhilarating and slightly confusing as rugby is to me (confusing only because I’m still learning it), there’s a few differences in American football I really like. First, there’s a quarterback who sets the stage, directs the plays and tends to determine how the ball is going to move down the field into the end zone. In life, we have a quarterback too. Psalm 37:23 reminds us that “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (NLT) God has already set the stage for us. If we listen, He directs the plays (our steps) and His word determines how we (the ball) navigate through this life achieving His goals.
Second, the offense’s response to a defensive tackle is to pause, reset, and set up a new strategy before moving the ball again. In life, when the enemy attacks us, there are times we should “cease striving and know that He is God….” (Psalm 46:10 NASB) There are times in life where the enemy has knocked us on our backsides so hard all we can do is pause, seek our Heavenly Quarterback for direction and allow Him to set up our next move. It may look like the same move we tried before, or He may have a different “play” for us. Whatever the plan, if we listen to His leading, we will victoriously find ourselves successfully in the end zone with the enemy licking his wounds in defeat.
One last thing-in American football there’s a term called “false start” where the offense crosses the line of scrimmage before the ball is in play. In life, we can experience false starts too if we try to move ourselves before the Lord tells us to move or better yet before He has even given us direction or set up the play. The books of Deuteronomy and Jeremiah along with many Proverbs warn us of what happens when we walk outside of God’s direction.
Whether you play Australian rugby or American football, the prize is ultimately a trophy and bragging rights. In life, the prize we press on to achieve is accomplishing God’s will for our lives, changing this world and giving Him all the glory. Doing anything that glorifies God is a prize worth fighting for no matter how many tackles the enemy makes on us. With God as our Quarterback, in the end, we will score the ultimately try/touchdown!!!
Ever have a day where everything makes you cry? That’s my kind of day today. Struggling with feeling empty, unaccomplished and alone. I’ve cried on and off all day today. I could blame it on hormones but the truth is this is a spiritual battle and today I’m letting the enemy steal my joy.
Why am I so emotional today? Because a blessed event is taking place today that I can’t be a part of. There’s an ache in my heart that longs to be there instead of here but it’s simply impossible for me to be there. Someone reading this might be thinking, “Nothing’s impossible with God.” And I would agree with you. However short of God teleporting me across the world, I won’t physically be there. Even though I’m there in thought and spirit, there’s a hole in my heart because I cannot physically witness this treasured event.
The enemy has grabbed hold of that ache and made the hole in my heart deeper by bombarding me with thoughts of hopelessness and futility. He’s thrown in a heaping pile of animosity toward someone I’ve already forgiven and he’s throwing me a world class pity party, with him and me the only attendees.
But the Holy Spirit crashed the party and kicked the devil out. The Almighty “Fun Police” arrested the stealer of my joy and put the lying bandit behind bars. Once the pity party was over, Jesus prompted me to make a recording singing Child of Love by Sara Groves. And I did. Then He invited me into His word and cleaned up the remaining remnants of depression by speaking Luke 6:20-23 NLT.
“Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh. What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.”
Jesua dried me tears, lifted up my chin to point my face toward His and reminded me that I am blessed simply because I am His precious child of love.
The next time the enemy invites you to a pity party and starts the festivities off with a round of the crying game-call the Almighty Fun Police and have the Holy Spirit kick that joy thief of the property of your heart and mind before one tear falls down your cheek!
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
Proverbs 19:21 NIV
Like most people I have BIG plans for my life. As a little girl I aspired to be a Solid Gold dancer or a singing contestant on Star Search. Don’t judge (but please feel free to laugh out loud!) Any child of the 80’s with a creative mind like mine and a gift for making a fool out of themselves in front of a crowd, had the same dreams. When I was 12, I wanted to be president of the United States. By the time I completed high school my goal was to earn my college degree, get married, become a mom and have a successful career helping troubled teens. On my 25th birthday I cried-I had only accomplished one of my goals and I was working 3 jobs just to make ends meet. Now at 40, I am a single mom working 2 jobs, still struggling to make ends meet and clearly in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Today I want to travel and touch lives all over the world letting people and orphans know they matter and they are loved.
The past couple of months I have been restless- physically, emotionally and spiritually. This restlessness has boiled into fear and anxiety. It’s become a serious condition like a rash that takes over your entire body or a virus that eats you from the inside out. It invades my dreams, it wakes me in the middle of the night and it robs my joy during the day. The simplest task can become easily overwhelming when fear is hitting me full blast. I become easily angered or I sob. I’m exhausted but can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep because my mind simply won’t shut down or be still. People who know this struggle about me often ask what I’m so anxious about. Sometimes I tell them I don’t know. But I think I’ve figured it out. I simply feel stuck. My life feels stuck in a season of winter and at this age of my life, I am afraid I will stay stuck in winter forever.
Did I mention I HATE winter? I’m speaking of the actual season. Where I live we get very cold, very long and very snowy/icy winters. Days are dull and skies are gray. Many days I drive to and from work in the dark and never see any daylight. I get quite depressed. By the time February and March arrive I am anxious for warm days, sun filled skies and for all the snow to melt away. We tend to get a mid-winter thaw-a few warm days here and there but then we get slammed with more cold, more snow and more ice. April arrives and I check the weather daily hoping for a hint of even 50 degree (10c) weather. And in May, I celebrate the colors of green, the blooming of apple blossoms and spring time flowers. I relish the smell of the first lawn mowing and celebrate the year’s first real thunderstorm. I buy my park pass and count down the days until the lakes are warm enough to swim in while planning out my beach days for the summer. My spirits lift as I think snow is finally gone and my toes will be buried in the sand in not time.
This past weekend, in Mid-May, it snowed! As I woke Sunday morning to a dusting of white powder covering my lawn, I reflected on my life and feeling stuck in a winter season. I have so many plans for my life, yet none of them seem to be coming to fruition. It’s like my life has come to a standstill with no hopes of moving forward relationally, financially, spiritually or even in my career. Seeing that snow outside my window, I thought “That’s it, winter is never going to end, summer is never going to arrive. All my beach days are never going to happen.” Reflecting on my life, I tend to think “My dreams are dead. This is it. This is as good as it gets. God just wants me stuck.”
But God has a different answer. Weather wise, He’s shown it by gifting us with a prediction of 70 degree temps (21c) later this week. Life wise, He says “Don’t worry,” (Matthew 6:34.) He keeps sending me Proverbs 19:21 and a few other verses like Job 23:14 and Isaiah 46:10. He gently reminds me that His way is better than my way and I simply need to surrender my hopes and dreams to Him. After all, every dream He planted in my heart will come to pass in His time. Because patience is not a virtue I was born with and God knows I LOVE being in control, He makes me wait, refining me and conditioning me into the Kingdom Woman He designed me to be to do the big things He has planned for me. Dreams He’s already shown me, I’ve turned into idols and tried manufacturing my own miracles instead of trusting Him to bring them to pass. I always lose when I get in God’s way.
Winter is a time when days are shorter and life slows down. This winter season in my life is God’s way of teaching me to just “be still.” I make myself restless because instead of obeying Him, I act like a crazy hamster in a plastic wheel running a race that will never end, chasing after empty things, and going absolutely nowhere. If you’re in this same season, remember this-a wise woman recently told me, “There’s never been a year summer didn’t come.” With that I will add, there’s not a story in the Bible where God’s dreams and purpose didn’t happen either. Practice being still, practice trusting in Him and read His word every day. When someone I love dearly was going through an incredibly difficult time, we read the book of Psalms together. Psalms was the same book suggested to me just this week to read and pray, as a means to overcome my fears and anxiety.
Lastly, find contentment in every day no matter how long you’ve been waiting, longing and praying. Most importantly-don’t lose hope, but place your hope in the One who gives us something to hope for.
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
Matthew 7:11 NLT
Have you heard the saying, “God doesn’t give us what we want, He gives what we need.” I have-many times and unfortunately I believed it for many years. After all, there are many things I want, have asked for in prayer even, but since I haven’t received them yet, this saying must be true, right? Wrong!
God has always provided me everything I need from the very basics of oxygen to breath to food, water, clothing, a roof over my head and even reliable transportation. But is that really all God is going to give me, or you? No, God gives us more than the bare necessities. His word is full of promises that go beyond what we need. Psalms 37:4 tells us if we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts. Desire is another word for “wants”, not “needs.” Abraham desired a child. He didn’t need an heir. He told God he planned to leave his fortune to a servant. (Genesis 15:2) Attempting to manufacture his own miracle he created a son with Hagar. But God still gave him the heir He promised. God still gave him Isaac.
David and Bathsheba committed adultery and from their sin produced a son. As punishment for David’s attempt to cover up his sin God took the life of that child shortly after his birth. But that wasn’t the end of David and Bathsheba’s story. What did God do next? He gave David and Bathsheba another son, Solomon. David had other children already-Solomon wasn’t a need. Solomon was a want that God gave them. (2 Samuel 12:14, 24)
Matthew 7:11 compares God to earthly parents. If you’re a parent I am confident you wear yourself out providing for the basic needs of your children, but you do more than that. Don’t we as parents strive to give our children what they want too? Don’t we delight in seeing our children’s joy when they receive that special present they longed for, not necessary something they need but something they will find true delight in. I believe God does that for us too. Within reason, God gives us what we want too.
Provided our desires line up with His will, He promises that whatever we ask for in His name, it will be done. (John 14:13-14) “Whatever” certainly doesn’t sound like just our basic needs. Whatever means everything we ask for in Jesus’ name, will be given to us. The key phrase is “in Jesus’ name”-meaning in His will. And God’s will is to definitely give us more than what we need-He longs to see the joy on our faces as we receive His blessings, that special present we’ve longed for no matter how long we’ve been asking Him for it.
What is the desire of your heart? Is it a godly marriage, children, a dream job? Have you aligned it with God’s will for your life? Marriage, children, even careers aren’t anything we need. But if they are part of God’s plans “for good, to prosper…to give us hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) then we have to trust that He will give them to us. Just like our children ask us for wants (or if you aren’t a parent, remember the wants you asked your own parents) we can boldly approach our Heavenly Daddy asking Him for our wants too. Keep in mind, God is not a genie-we can’t rub a lamp and ask Him to grant us 3 wishes. But God does delight in showering His blessings upon us, including gifting us with “the desires of our hearts.”