I Almost Slipped into Ungodliness

Woman on bench at chapel“My feet came close to stumbling. My steps had almost slipped into ungodliness.” Psalm 73:2

I found myself battling once again on the battle field of my mind. It reminded me afresh of my fleshly tendencies. This time my thoughts began with defending myself if the occasion should arise to have a real dialogue with a person or two. I crafted a reasonable conversation within my mind thinking I settled it.

However, it wasn’t enough. I needed to bring more passion to the conversation within my mind standing firm in my justification of my position. Once again, it wasn’t enough.

Oh, my goodness how I should have stopped myself sooner because I scratched those two drafts and started a brash one that would mow down anything standing in my way.

My thoughts became unharnessed and were not led by the Spirit.

It wasn’t until I came to God, completely undone this time, that I realized I had drawn away from Him. I became consumed day after day with the battle of what I wanted to say out loud, but was not able to. My fleshy desires placed a void between me and God.

I found that Psalm 73:21-22 put my experience into harsh, but accurate words.

“When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant, I was like a beast before You.”

Have you drawn away from the Lord with just one thought that led to your complete senselessness?

Maybe your thoughts of defending yourself led to bitterness in your heart.

Maybe your thoughts of walking away from a situation created a hardness in your soul.

Maybe your thoughts of becoming self-sufficient led to isolation.

Nonetheless, if you are in Christ He is still there to help you. God won’t leave you alone in your beastly mess. You only need to recognize He hasn’t left. He is waiting to take you by the hand to help you have victory on the battle field of your mind.

There is a Psalm of Asaph that conveys a truth about God and ourselves that reminds us of this truth.

“Nevertheless, I am continually with You. You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward, receive me to glory (or with honor). Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 74:23-26)

No matter what kind of mess you may be in God is with you. He will guide you through your pitfalls of life, and will not let you go. Open your heart and mind to God! His plan for you is to have a steadfast peace as you fix your thoughts on Him.  If we look and focus in any other direction we will become senseless and our hearts will fail us.

Maybe your feet have come close to stumbling and your steps have almost slipped into ungodliness like mine almost did, Psalm 73:2. If so I implore you to STOP crafting those conversations within your mind and go before the Lord. He will guide you to victory. God will strengthen your heart like He has mine. Consider lifting your right hand up even now asking God to take hold of you and of your thoughts.

Don’t give up! The battle may be intense, but our God is greater than any enemy you are battling right now. It does not matter if the battle is taking place within or from outside, God is able to overpower all opposition to Him.

The nearness of God is good and when you receive peace, and newness of mind then tell of God’s great work so others may seek Him for refuge, help, and hope, Psalm 73:28. I just did, and would love to hear from you when you experience how good and refreshing God’s nearness is.

Blessings,

Jodi

 

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When loneliness invites company

Young woman enjoying the nature

Have you ever felt lonely? I imagine everyone has felt it at some point in their lives. To be honest I struggle with it more than I care to admit. Sometimes the loneliness is short lived and other times it is a lengthy battle. I know I am losing when I hear the Enemy whispering lies and I begin wondering if there is any truth in them.

Lies such as:

  • Your friends have forgotten about you.
  • You are not needed.
  • Protect your heart, and keep others at a distance.
  • No one else feels the loneliness you do.
  • You are all alone.

Has the Enemy whispered similar lies to you?

When we are in a state of loneliness, the suffocation of it can prevent us from fighting. We fall limp at the feet of the Enemy hoping for a glimmer of light from God to strengthen us.

During one of my battles of loneliness, I went before the Lord and pleaded for His help. I asked for His light to shine in my darkness. I needed to hear His truth about my situation, feelings, thoughts, and fears. I went to Him because He has never lied to me and He can be trusted.

He led me to the book of Psalms 62-63. As my eyes fell upon Psalms 62:10 my heart sank deep within.

“Do not trust in oppression.”

The Mariam Webster dictionary describes oppress as a sense of being weighed down in body or mind:  depression an oppression of spirits

It was clear to me that I was trusting the whispers of defeat, despair, and desolation. But the battle between my heart and mind raged as they conflicted one another.

Then the Lord drew my eyes back up to Psalms 62:8

“Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.”

As I began pouring my heart out to God and choosing to trust Him, rather than in my oppression, something began to happen. His light began to overpower my darkness. The battle between my heart and thoughts were beginning to properly align.

However, there was one more step He led me to take.

The step was found in Psalms 63:3

“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.”

I craved His lovingkindness because this life was feeling bleak. I knew I was to praise Him not just within my heart and mind, but out-loud. This sounds like a simple action step, but when we are in despair, depressed, and lonely it can feel like a daunting task. At first, my words came out as a mumble. However, the more I spoke of His glory, might, power, and majesty I became overwhelmed by His presence with stronger pronunciation.

My loneliness had invited God to join me for company. The battle was won because God heard my praise and my cry for help! My breathing became deeper, thoughts clearer, and eyes brighter. The truth was prevailing and my trust was no longer in my oppression but in almighty God.

Are you in need of His presence? Praise Him out-loud.

Are you in need of His power? Trust Him to do what He says He can do.

Are you in need of His truth? Go to His word and let the truth set you free.

The next time we sense the darkness of loneliness crouching over us, let’s be quicker to turn to God and praise Him. Praise Him with a LOUD voice, because the Enemy cannot withstand our praise to the God of gods, Lord of lords, and King of kings. There is power in His name!

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

John 14:16 – I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.

 

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.

melting-gold-300x223

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.

dirty-shovel-sand-old-65166435

He Set My Feet Upon A Rock

Feet on Rock

Have you ever felt depressed? Have you ever felt like you were in a pit and unable to pull yourself out? I have been there. Not just a pit…but a pit with quicksand at the bottom! I have felt like I was in a pit, and when not in a pit it was like walking through quicksand.  In the pit I felt alone, depressed, and honestly…I wanted to camp there for a bit.  I wanted to be alone. I was depressed but I wanted time to nurse the wounds of my heart. I wanted time alone to process what was changing in my life.  At times sitting in the pit is easier than being outside of it. Being out of the pit meant expectations to perform…to thrive…and that is not the relief I desired. My pit was its own form of “hell” but, at least, it was something I could control.

If you want to be in a pit and you still have expectations on your life, you have to cope. You have to put on that “plastic” smile…but even that is difficult; not to mention, you cannot hide it from those around you who know you. They see that something is off…even slightly off.

The problem with the pit is that if I stay there too long I will begin to feel hopeless. The enemy’s lies start to sound like the Lord’s truth. Slowly but surely…I will begin to decay and ever so subtly…I will wither away.  Scripture reminds us that while a joyful heart is good medicine to the soul a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).

I found myself in one of my “pit events” one morning as I was getting ready for the day. There, on the bathroom counter was my Scripture Stand. On that little 3×5 card were these words:

 “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.” (Psalm 40:2)

The verse spoke of something already accomplished…a completed action. (When you’re in a pit of your own choosing, a verse like this is like a dart of love shot from the arrow of God’s heart right to yours).  As I chose to consider the implications of this verse, my perspective began to change.

The psalmist reminded me that God already brought me from a deep pit of destruction long ago, and my current pit did not compare to where He had already delivered me from. God had already brought me out of the miry clay that was like quicksand choking the life out of me.  God had already set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm even to this day.

That last sentence opened my eyes to see that I was actually standing on a rock firmly planted.  I embraced “the pit” because my emotions were raw. I was tender. I was pitiful. My emotions led me away from the truth. The TRUTH is that (positionally) I had been lifted from the pit! I was not a captive in my self-designed prison. I was lifted out but living AS IF the quicksand had a hold on my life.

This “Ah Ha” moment renewed in me a heart filled with praise to God! My God does not do something “half-way”; rather, God finishes what He begins. He did not start to set my feet on the rock…He did it!  Now as this truth welled up, the praise spoken of in the next verse simply poured out:

 “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40:3)

You can only REJOICE when the Living God rescues you from a dark place that has crushed your spirit and dried up your bones. A joyful heart of praise must rejoice!

My heart repented from striving to work through this time alone without giving it all to God.  Instead of pulling away from Him I needed to draw near to Him, knowing that He would draw near to me. I needed be still and remember that He is God. I needed to acknowledge that when I run to Him, my God will pick me up, dust me off, and restore me to Himself as He places a new song in my mouth.

Are you in a dark place…maybe of your own choosing? Perhaps you should recall THAT TIME when God helped you. Ask Him to speak to your heart and open your eyes that you may see through His eyes. Recognize the completed work of lifting you out of the pit and setting your feet on solid ground. He has not changed.

You don’t have to stay in the pit if you draw near to your Deliverer!

 

Exchanging Weakness for Strength

Exchange PictureIf you are anything like me, then you have an area in your life that you would consider a weakness.  Maybe you are shy and tremble at the thought of meeting someone new. Perhaps you want to “throw up” at the mere thought of public speaking! Maybe you break out in hives or have an anxiety attack when you consider confronting someone for an offense.  Maybe instead of these things, you run to the fridge, turning to food for comfort.  If, by chance, you can relate to any of these things…BE ENCOURAGED, because you are not alone.  Every woman I know has some form of weakness or insecurity that they live with…that WE live with! We beat ourselves up at the recurring drumbeat of the voice of defeat.  You know the voice.  It calls to you, “You will never overcome!  You will always fail! You cannot measure up! Just who do you think you are any way for thinking you could ever…”

The voice of defeat comes from “the enemy.” We even KNOW THAT in our mind, but we choose to believe the enemy’s rhetoric because it’s easier than believing the “truth.” In many ways, it is comfortable and feels true because we cannot imagine seeing ourselves differently!

When feelings and truth are in conflict, God tells us to choose truth! “Take every thought captive!” He says (2 Corinthians 10:5). Why? Because the truth is that our feelings can lie to us.

Given the choice, this is not how I want to live my life. I desire more freedom in life and I want my faith to be bigger than my fears! I want to live out the purpose God intends for me to. I choose to live a life of joy and fulfillment.  I believe in and pursue the abundant life Jesus speaks of.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

To experience abundant life, I must acknowledge two of the enemy’s tactics: He lies and deceives. (John 8:44,).  He has been lying to me for way too long in my life and perhaps in your life too! One of my greatest weaknesses is to “writing” and “communicating” in general.  Writing articles like this makes ME want to throw up…knowing that you may be reading it! Truly! I’m considering having a “barf bag” next to me before I push the “publish” button.  So why do it? Why bother writing like this and risking discovery that the enemy’s lies might be true? Because I have realized that the enemy’s lies and devilish desire to keep me defeated in this area of my life are PROOF that the OPPOSITE is true! God MUST be just beyond my decision to believe, waiting to shower on me ABUNDANT LIFE if I only choose to believe Him for the truth.  He is waiting for me to choose the voice of truth over the voice of defeat. He is waiting for my willingness to exchange my weakness for His strength because in His strength I can overcome.

“…My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.  …when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10e)

My goodness! That Scripture is far easier to read than to live out! However, if I truly want more…more out of life…more of Jesus’ power manifested in me…then I must be willing to press through and do the hard thing! I must choose to believe Him. I must choose to live out what I say I believe! I must choose to rely on God’s grace to perfect my weaknesses…by His power and in His strength. Therefore, when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am ready and willing to exchange my weakness for His strength because, in doing so, my actions point directly back to Him! He becomes GREATER! So, it is time to become more; More than your failures and insecurities.  Be set free to experience the abundant life that God designed for you. Pack up those “lies and deceptions.” Exchange them for God’s strength and truth.  Ship them off with no return address and no receipt required! Then, get up and do it again…tomorrow.