I Was Not Honest With God

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Can you recall a time you were ministered to through song? Maybe it led you into deeper intimacy with God, brought joy to a sad season, caused praise to be on your lips as opposed to grumbling, or reminded you that you’re not alone. Maybe only a phrase of it jumped into your heart causing an impact in your moment.

It is not uncommon for God to use songs to refine my walk with Him. On one particular day while driving around, running errands, Francesca Battistelli’s song, “If We’re Honest” came on the radio. One part of her song resonated with me, “Mercy is waiting on the other side if we are honest.” It was as if God was saying, “Jodi, you have not been completely honest with ME and that is why you are struggling to find MY peace.” I wanted to slam on the brakes! I had recently brought Him several weighty concerns. I wanted to defend myself before God and remind Him of my surrender of them. However, as I searched my heart and re-evaluated my actions it became clear. I managed to withhold just enough from Him so I could still have some control, some say so, and some influence on my outcome.

What was I thinking?

Why was I not trusting God with it all?

How about you? Do you struggle to surrender to God?

I am aware that for some the word surrender does not set well. I mean who wants to tap out and give up? But with the proper perspective, surrender is a worship word. When we are willing to let go of anything that hinders our relationship with God, allowing Him to be Lord of our lives, we are demonstrating God is God and we are not.

Jesus implores us to release our everything to Him. Consider the following scriptures:

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)

We have permission to reassign responsibility on God for all the details, all our worries, and the outcome of it all.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NKJV)

When we fully surrender to Him we are grafted into His plans and His ways and can do anything through Him.

“…Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34 NKJV)

Why would we not want to deny ourselves of worry, anxiety, confusion, despair…? Perhaps we cannot see the mercy He will give us on the other side. Mercy that gently loves us, covers us and restores us to Himself. Or perhaps it is because we lack faith in a trustworthy God.

As I considered what God revealed to me about not being honest with Him, I repented seeking His forgiveness. Why, might you ask? Because I was indeed telling Him that I could not trust Him with my concerns and I was trying to be god and lord of my circumstances. Immediately upon my repentance, God provided a peace I cannot explain and the fruit of my obedience was more than I deserved. Over those next few days, God’s mercy and grace walked me through a trying time of medical test, surgery, and recovery that apart from Him I would have been a hot mess.

To be honest with you surrendering to God is easier said than done, and I fail at it way too often. However, it is a necessary action if we truly want to walk in obedience allowing Him to be Lord and authority in our lives. The next time you hear your favorite song played, ask God to allow it to fall afresh on your ears. He may use it to impact your moment like never before.

What do you need to be honest with God about today? Mercy is just on the other side!

For fun, I have broken the word surrender down so we can remember the blessing behind the action.

Submit

Unleash

Release                                     The Action of Surrender

Reassign

Emptying


Newness

Dependence                            The Promise of Surrender

Entering

Rest

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Is It Well With My Soul?

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I was perusing through a department store trying to escape my emotions. Honestly, I wanted to feel numb, even for just a moment. I slowly walked through each aisle capturing words on decorative wall hangings. One of them caused me to take a long pause. It read, “It is well with my soul.” I asked myself if that was true for me. The answer was no. No, it was not well with my soul. Life had been feeling difficult. Goals out of reach. Loneliness and depression setting in. Things happening out of my control. I wanted it all to be well with my soul, but it was not something I could magically make happen. As I continued my perusing I found myself surrounded by words of encouragement on these wall hangings.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…

Love bears all things…

Amazing grace…

God is good…

Faith…

I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you…

Choose joy…

Be still and know…

You get the picture. I chuckled because I was not in a Christian store! Here I was surrounded by God’s Word causing me to think and address some of my emotions.

Have you ever felt things were not well with your soul?

Have you ever felt your purpose or goals were out of reach?

Have you ever felt confused by your emotions?

Me too!

I know that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33) When I find my joy gone, and my soul in a drought, I go back to His Word. His Word always speaks clarity to what I am struggling with.

Back at home from the store, I began my daily reading in Deuteronomy and God brought to light something so simple and yet profound. It is found in chapter 30:11,14

“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.”

Let that word wash (or spoken from my true southern dialect “warsh”) over you for a moment. Read it again.

Now, receive this next truth that only God can accomplish. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you.

He will be with you.

He will not fail you or forsake you.

Do not fear or be dismayed.”

If what His Word says is true, and I believe it is, then why does it ‘feel’ like it is not? It is because our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

The enemy (Satan) wanted me to be numb. He wanted me to not address what I was experiencing. But God wanted the opposite for me. God surrounded me with His truths, His promises, His commands, and drew me into His Word in Deuteronomy. He was pursuing me, letting me know that things can be well with my soul. I needed to focus and acknowledge that He is sovereign, He goes before me and yet never leaves me, and what He is desiring me to do is not too difficult.

What He is desiring you to do is not too difficult!

We can trust that if God has planned it, He will do it. (Isaiah 46:11b)

Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

It can be well with our souls no matter the battle we are in. There is no storm that He cannot calm, nor any depth of despair He cannot pull us from. Let praise be on our lips for His word is in our hearts, and ever so near to us. As we trust Him with what we are trying to escape, He will work all things out for the good.

 

 

 

 

Winning Ground in the Battle Field of the Mind

seeds-in-handsMy greatest battle takes place within my mind. It is where truth and lies, right and wrong, reality and fantasy fight for ground; Ground that is fertile, ready to sprout whatever seed is planted.  My mind is fragile and I must protect it! I fight to keep it in perfect peace which only comes from trusting God with all of my heart, mind, and soul.

Are your greatest battles fought within your mind?

Maybe you struggle knowing what the truth is anymore because the lies of the enemy have taken root.

Maybe you find yourself analyzing things to the point you become confused not knowing right from wrong.

Maybe your reality is fogged with fantasy in hopes to release the pain in your life.

The battle is real y’all and it can be exhausting as we fight to protect our minds. But wouldn’t you much rather fight for peace than live in bondage? As Christ- followers, God has already given us peace but we forfeit it when we stray from keeping our minds fixed on Christ. The verse I love to pick apart as I battle is Philippians 4:6-8.

“6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praisedwell on these things.”

With that scripture, I am reminded to pray with all of my heart, trust God for His promises, praise and exalt Him for who He is.  That is when my soul is revived with His peace.

As I was reading Deuteronomy 11:18-22 it reminded me of the importance God placed on the Israelites to impress His words on their hearts and souls. He instructed His Word to be seen and taught throughout the day as a reminder. I laughed as I realized our 3×5 cards and sticky notes with scripture was not a new concept. 😉

It was so important to God for them not to lose the battle of the mind! He had them place His commands and promises all around them in the following ways:

  • On your hand and frontals on your forehead
  • When you sit- teach them
  • When you walk- teach them
  • When you lie down-teach them
  • When you rise up-teach them
  • Write them on the door post
  • Write them on the gates

If this was an effective strategy then, I believe it still is for us today. Though it may look different, the concept is the same. God knows what we battle. He knows our thoughts. He also has equipped us to have victory. Don’t give up! Your mind is fertile ground and you get to choose what kind of seeds sprout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Saw God In Flesh

mydesignOn my morning walk with the Lord, I prayed that He would reveal Himself to me. A moment later, I noticed a man just ahead of me. He was walking slowly, dragging a white bag to his trashcan.  I noticed his extremely thin frame and how it was a struggle to lift the bag up into the can. As I approached where he was, he smiled and gave a good morning greeting. I stopped, replied, and asked how he was doing. He proceeded to tell me that he has cancer along with a heap of other health issues. He said his cancer had gone into remission but now, he is living one day at a time. My natural reaction was to ask him if he knew the Lord as his Savior, and I did.

Have you ever felt the urgency to ask someone about their eternal security?

We said our goodbyes, and I continued on my walk. I began to weep! God had revealed Himself through this man to me. Yes, he had only days to live, but God showed me His grace for this man. His love. His strength. His comfort. His sovereignty. It was nearly too much for me to comprehend.

Have you ever experienced God in such a way?

Not long into my walk, I found a quarter on the road, and Matthew 25 came to mind. As I rolled it around in my hand, I asked the Lord for more clarity. Would you believe that on my way back home I found a dime? It was clear to me that I was to look up Matthew 25:10. I could not get home fast enough to see what His Word would reveal!

Matthew 25 tells the story of ten virgins invited to participate in a wedding.  The virgins, like bridesmaids, were asked to bring oil lamps to light the way for a procession of some sort.  Five of the virgins came prepared with enough oil for the occasion.  They were ready when the Bridegroom arrived. The other five were simply not ready. They had no oil to light their lamps when the Bridegroom came. They frantically rushed to purchase more oil, but by the time they returned, the door to the wedding had been shut.  It was too late.  The verse the Lord led me to on my walk, verse 10, reveals the harsh reality of this story …

“And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.”

Verses 11-13: “Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”  The bridesmaids? You and me. The Bridegroom? Jesus. The wedding feast? Eternal life. Five were ready. Five were not.

When I asked the man about his salvation, he proclaimed that he knew the Lord as his Savior. I asked when that happened for him. He said, “Five years ago, I realized I was a religious man for many years, but when I almost died, I realized I needed to know the Lord as my Savior.” He also told me that he was ready to die; All with a smile and peace glowing from his face. Like Matthew 25:10 reads, ‘he is ready’.  I was compelled to remind him that God allowed him to still be alive today because He was not done with him. I urged him to share with others the strength and presence of God he had experienced.

Can you relate to this man? Are you a religious person without a personal relationship with Christ? Are you ready to meet the Bridegroom?

My friend, we are not promised tomorrow. Today is the day to know the Lord; To have a personal relationship with Him. To know that you know, that you know, you will spend eternity with Him when you die.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Time is of the essence so, what are you waiting for? Click ( here )to pray and know Jesus today as your Lord and Savior.

If reading this brought someone to mind that you are unsure of their salvation, do not wait any longer to ask the question!  Their eternity may be on the line.

I do not think it was a coincidence that I met this man, then found a quarter and dime leading me to Matthew 25:10.  I asked God to reveal Himself to me, and He did!  Wherever your “walk” may lead you today … seek to find Him along the way.   Whatever happens … will be no coincidence!

Is It All About You OR God’s Bigger Plan?

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Ever experienced God’s grace? I have many times. My sins pile high so if it were not for His unmerited favor towards me, I would be hopeless. God has fought for me, protected me, provided for me, been patient with me, and continues to forgive me. He has carried me through my brokenness and healed my wounds. So why do I continue to be stubborn and rebellious with Him at times? Why do I think my victories are about me? Why is the nature of my heart still willing to become prideful?

Have you asked yourself the same questions?

I do not have all the answers but I do know that our victory is based on God’s graciousness and not our righteousness.

In Deuteronomy 9:4-6, Moses spoke hard truths to the Israelites that apply to us today. He warned them not to become self-righteous, and that their God-given victories were not just about or for them.

Moses knew that God would go before them into their promised land, allowing their enemies to fall quickly. He also knew God’s people. They may have thought the victory was theirs because of their own righteousness.  Three times Moses warns them not to think in such a way.

Not because of your righteousness, but because of their wickedness…

“Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, ‘because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you.”

Not because of your righteousness, but because of their wickedness…

“It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Not because of your righteousness lest you forget your nature…

“Know then it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people.

“You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day I knew you.” (9:24)

What a picture of God’s grace!

We can miss what God is unfolding when we think our victory over the enemy is in response to our works. God blesses us not just for our own sake, but for Himself, as well.  He is allowing us to be a part of His work. We can miss this when we yield to our own nature and think it is all about us. Like the Israelites, we too are a stubborn people that are rebellious. So, let’s not allow our righteousness to turn into self-righteousness.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1John 1:8)

Don’t miss the fact that the Israelites would have victory because it was God that would go before them and subdue their enemies. Whatever victory or blessing you receive; it is because God chooses to go before you while extending His grace.

Praise Him and keep your heart clean and upright before a Holy God. God is the one due the glory!

 

3 Steps To Keep Yourself In Check

woman-on-stepsHave you ever been caught in the middle of a conversation between your doctor’s office and your insurance company? What a nightmare! What the doctor’s office knew to be normal procedure did not apply in my case. I only needed them to call the number the insurance company had provided, but they would not. I felt anger and indignation rise up in my heart.  I wanted to prove that I was right and defend myself. I wanted them to care and respect me by making that phone call. I felt my face getting red and heart beating faster. My frustration level was maxing out!

Can you recall a time of emotional frustration? Maybe with a friend, family member, neighbor, or in regards to a bill… You knew you were right in the matter, but the other person was stiff-necked, prompting ugly emotions to rise up within you.

We can allow our emotions to drive us to say or do things that are contrary to our character. We can even justify our actions and feel righteous. With this confidence, we may even stand taller with chin lifted, feeling good that we showed them who was boss.

God’s word has challenged me regarding this kind of assertiveness and pride. Because I was feeling weary and burdened by all of this, I opened the Word to Matthew 11:28-30.  I had read it many times but on this day, something caught my attention.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This is more than exchanging yokes with Jesus. We must also learn from Him how to have a gentle and humble heart. Then, we will find rest. That is a tough one! I knew I was not displaying this kind of heart and knew exactly what I needed to do.

I have a three step process to keep myself in check. I love how my husband says, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” 🙂

  1. What is the condition of my heart? Is it clean or is there sin I need to repent of? What are my motives?
  2. I ponder the truth from the word. In this case, I asked myself if I was displaying a gentle and humble heart. Am I being Christ-like in the situation?
  3. I put into action what God has revealed to me. Sometimes I need to repent for wrong heart motives. But the greatest action to apply is loving others as God loves them.

By the third step, my entire attitude and heart has changed towards that person or situation.  Instead of letting our frustration level max out, let’s aim for a gentle and humble heart so we can remain a light in this dark world. Confrontation does not have to be ugly when you approach it with a gentle and humble heart.

Are you keeping yourself in check today? What scripture are you pondering to do so? I would love to hear from you.

 

 

There Is More To It Than You Think

Crevices of heartWhen I take a test I look like a scared, wet cat clinging to a tree branch. The anxiety causes my stomach to knot up, my eyes to bug out, and I become paralyzed. Talking myself down, I imagine scooching over in my chair, and having Jesus sit beside me so He can see my exam. I take deep breaths asking Him for help. I am a realtor, which requires continuing education courses from time to time. Well, it was time! After finishing my course exam, I took another deep breath and faxed it to my instructor. I felt good about the answers I submitted. Then, the phone rang.  My instructor called to tell me I had failed the test! Confusion, doubt, and low self-esteem crept back into the crevices of my heart.  I would have to take the test again! The following four days, I rehearsed what I might have answered incorrectly. I drudged up self-talks I promised myself I would never listen to again.

Can you relate? You know the ones? Self-talk that convinces us to grab a shovel, dig a hole, and bury ourselves with lies. Lies validating our insecurities and incompetence. Lies convincing us failure will always be our companion.

In those four days, I found myself engaged in a different kind of test.

A heart test … the kind God gives.

“The refining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold, but the LORD test hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3)

Silver and gold are refined through a purification process extracting impurities, which are then scraped away. The process is repeated until what is left shines in its purest form.

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When God test hearts, impurities are exposed, as well.

Such as:

  • Control
  • Motives
  • Perfectionism
  • Lust
  • Codependency
  • Idols
  • Covetousness
  • Comparison
  • Jealousy

Why does God test hearts?

  • To purify us that we might walk in His ways.
    • God tested Abraham with his son Isaac. (Genesis 22:1)
    • God left King Hezekiah alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. (2 Chronicles 32:31)
    • God tested the Israelite’s as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. (Deuteronomy 8:2)
    • You have today declared the Lord to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His ordinances, and listen to His voice. ” (Deuteronomy 26:17)

 

  • To teach us to love Him with all of our heart.

…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

  • To shape us to the image of Christ.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son… (Romans 8:28-29)

  • To prepare us to be light in a dark world.

To quote Lysa Terkeurst, “God often meets with us in the quiet darkness of adversity just before taking us out into the light. He must strengthen the light in us before the spotlight is placed on us.”

You may not believe what I am about to share with you, but it really happened. On the fourth day, I received a second phone call from my instructor. With an electric excitement, he explained that there was a printing error on my exam and I had actually passed!

I told you that it’s hard to believe! 🙂

All of the anxiety, negative self-talk, confusion… was not wasted. God tested my heart and exposed what did not belong.

He loves us too much to leave our hearts tainted with impurities. The pressures and afflictions of life not only expose the hidden crevices, they strengthen our walk with God, and allow us the opportunity to be light in a dark world.

Can you remember the last time you were tested by God?

Did it purify your walk with Him?

Did God teach you to love Him with all of your heart?

Did God reshape you to reflect His image?

Let’s put down the shovel and not bury ourselves in lies any longer. Let’s allow God to use our trials to refine us … becoming the people He designed us to be.

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