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The Real Me…

Ever had a thought intrude upon your mind that made you shutter? Have you had thoughts about a situation that just couldn’t move beyond the negative? Do these types of thoughts plant seeds of concern about who you really are? If we persist in giving sway to these concerns, they will set us on a path of lies and deception.

But as Christians, we have a defense against such deception. It is clearly stated in over 100 verses in God’s authoritative word that our true identity is based on our personal relationship with God. By believing in Christ and accepting His sacrifice on our behalf, our bodies became the dwelling place of Christ via the Holy Spirit. At the moment of salvation, our old self’s took on a new identity. Therefore, my true identity, my authentic self, is based on my new life in Christ. I am no longer deceived. I have the assurance my negative feelings are not my true self. In other words, “I was one way then I was completely different and what happened in between was Him.” (Season 1, Ep. 1, The Chosen)

Ponder these Truths:

…and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV

Yet, when we reject God’s authoritative word, we open our sin nature (our old identity) to any and everything false. And today the downward spiral of the morals of our country gives evidence of the consequences of such rejection. Some have even digressed to the point that they place authority and value on feelings, over God’s transcendent truths, to define their authentic selves.

In short, the modern self is one where authenticity is achieved by acting outwardly in accordance with one’s inward feelings.

Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists redefined identity and sparked the Sexual Revolution by Carl T. Trueman

When the feelings of ‘self’ dictate our attitude and actions, we are capable of choices that fly in the face of God. Choices that will eventually set us and those directly affected by our choices on a path of destruction. Attitudes and actions that deep within our hearts we know are wrong.

Feelings as authority vs God as authority?

The Scriptures explain the nature of our old selves and why the world rejects those of us who belong to God, as well as God’s authoritative word.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1 ESV

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,..Ephesians 4:22

Consider

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV

STORMS! They have a purpose.

Storms are unavoidable. Why on earth do we try to avoid them. It’s a loosing battle.

Storms are no respecter of persons. No one can escape them. Since avoiding them is impossible, where do we find the source that will subdue the storm?

There is no better perspective to embrace concerning storms than what is prescribed in Scripture. Let’s take a look at Luke 8:22-25, only one of the many go to verses during life’s storms.

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

This verse tells us that Jesus said, “Let us go to the other side of the lake.” Now Jesus, being who He was knew there was a storm coming. (Just like he knows about our storms) Storms on the Sea of Galilee come up rather quickly. But Jesus had lessons his disciples needed to learn. The storm was to be their tutor.

The disciples, though seasoned fishermen, panicked at the severity of the storm. Maybe because they saw that Jesus was asleep they assumed he was not paying attention. Well, of course, this was an assumption fueled by fear. Jesus was right there with them. He hadn’t gone anywhere.

The disciples woke Jesus and in response to their pleas, he rebuked the storm. The lesson? Well, they lacked faith and the storm exposed this. I imagine that whenever they experienced fear like that again, they arrested such fear by recalling that day when Jesus calmed the storm.

Let’s not be too hard on those disciples though. Aren’t we much like them when we encounter storms? The fiery darts of fear and even doubt are first at the scene it seems in our storms. So like the disciples we cry out to God.

If we are willing to cooperate with God when we are being buffeted by storms, he will expose the fiery darts that feed our fears and doubts. We will be empowered to extinguish those weapons of the enemy. In their place, depending on our cooperation, He will supply a stronger faith, less self-centeredness, or resolve to focus on the needs of others. He may call us to change our course. Maybe there are others who need a visual example of how they need to turn to God in their storm.

Recently, it seems my storms have come in waves. I find that I am tempted to center my thoughts on myself. I overly focus on how hard things are. I mourn over the things I’ve lost out on. It’s not natural for me to place my focus on God. So I need to cry out to God just as those disciples did and ask for help. God in His faithfulness will supply me with what I need to overcome the fiery darts attacking me. My situation may not ease up any, but my perspective fashioned by God’s truths will calm my storm.

Storms aren’t random oversights of God. They have a purpose. God’s desire is to reveal that purpose so our lives will be characterized by His peace.

POWER OF PRAISING

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     Ever feel like as a Christian you are letting God down? When your thoughts are consumed with the burdens you bear. You make a valiant effort to spend time with God in prayer and His word. Yet, the weight of the burdens persist. Somedays you are able to believe God. Somedays, not so much. Especially as the burdens bear down upon you and new ones are added. You don’t doubt God as much as you doubt yourself. For you know God’s word is true and powerful. It’s just that the power to tap into those truths keeps evading you. 

     It’s in times like these that we must recognize the fiery darts of the enemy. Here’s what happens when our thoughts are consumed with our problems. The more we focus on our problems, the more pity we feel towards ourselves. Negative focus=fiery darts. Hope begins to drain. No solutions come forth from such a focus. 

But there IS a solution.

     It’s not so hard. But it takes deliberate effort. The temptation to dwell on our problems is strong.  It’s our default reaction. However, as Christians the power of the Holy Spirit is stronger. When you are strong in God’s word and prayer, then Satan must use another tactic. When he won’t succeed at causing us to doubt God, he will cause us to doubt ourselves. It’s nothing but a ploy of the enemy. Here’s how we counter his attack:

Step One

     Make a list of all the reasons you have to praise God. Especially, concerning your problems. Yes, even in the midst of your problems, there are reasons to praise God. 

Step Two

     Make a list of praise verses (Hint: go to the internet and type in the phrase ‘verses of praise’. (I recommend: http://www.biblegateway and http://www.biblehub.com)

     Next time you find yourself drowning in the negativity of your problems, pull out your lists. Allow praise thoughts to saturate your thinking. In all likelihood your problems will remain. But your perspective toward them will have changed. Now they will not overwhelm you.

Some benefits of praise?

     Praising God (even in the midst of your problems) empowers you to rise above those problems. Because you are focusing on God not on yourself. 

     Praise shapes your perspective. Preventing the enemy from draining hope from your thoughts.

     Praise provides you with the means to escape the darkness when in moments of weakness, you revert to your default of centering your focus on your problems. (We are human, after all)

     Praise builds your confidence in God and His Word. (A sure way to stand against the enemy.)

     Praise increases your success route. Did you know that with God on your side, your chances for success go through the roof (a thought from The Word for You Today, p.6, 6/4/19). That’s empowering, isn’t it!

PRAISE IS YOUR POWER, NOW ATTACK!

Choose Easter’s Victory

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“He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” – Genesis 3:15

It’s important to remember Easter is ultimately a spiritual battle between Christ and Satan

 

   When God created man and Satan tempted Adam and Eve, the great civil war between man’s spirit and flesh began. Then Christ came and as a man and as God, resisted Satan. Easter makes a way for us to resist Satan’s fiery darts. By accepting Christ’s death for ourselves, we can be assured that after our death, just like Christ, we will ascend to heaven. 

   As I grow older and move closer to my life’s end, the thrill of heaven, being with Jesus, becomes more intense. Therefore, I do not fear death. Nor should any believer.

You see that’s the victory we as Christians have over the plan of Satan’s to steal, kill, and destroy. 

   Satan’s plan to remove the influence of God’s Word and spending time with God in prayer, makes possible the fulfillment of his plan. Just look around at all the people in our country that see nothing wrong with abortion, homosexuality, divorce, or lying to gain an advantage, etc. When we remove what the Bible says about either of these, and have no personal relationship with God, Satan easily victimizes us. And you know what, we won’t even realize how we have been deceived and manipulated. 

   When the world accuses Christians for standing firm on these issues, we get accused of all sorts of hateful actions. And Satan will make sure that our accusers don’t open up their Bible. Why? Because he doesn’t want the world to know about God’s love, compassion, forgiveness, redemption of those involved with the sins I mentioned above.

   Remember, if you ignore the Bible and prayer, you are easy prey to the enemy. He will lie to you with such skill, that you can become convinced that right is wrong and wrong is right.

   This Easter, choose Christ. Choose victory. Defeat the enemy. Begin cooperating with God as He gives us the desire and power to do what pleases Him. 

   Refuse to allow ourselves to be manipulated, deceived, and blinded by Satan.

Satan has come to condemn us; Christ has come to restore us.

The Fiery Darts of Abortion

     I hardly know where to begin with this post. How can the purposeful death of an unborn child be justified? Yet as we recently witnessed in the news, abortion is  not only justified, it is celebrated. (bringing to mind visions of ancient rituals of offering up children to death, while people dance in mindless celebrations)

     But this can’t be. We are civilized. We are America! We would never be a part of or condone such barbaric behavior! Yet several states allow, by law, abortions up to 9 months! Since Roe vs Wade over 60 millions babies have had their chance at life brutally eliminated. 

And for what reasons was their chance at life snuffed out?            

Here’s a few: ( I call them fiery darts)

The reasons most frequently cited were that 

having a child would interfere with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for dependents (74%); 

that she could not afford a baby now (73%); 

and that she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems (48%). 

Nearly four in 10 women said they had completed their childbearing, and almost one-third were not ready to have a child. 

Fewer than 1% said their parents’ or partners’ desire for them to have an abortion was the most important reason. 

Younger women often reported that they were unprepared for the transition to motherhood, 

while older women regularly cited their responsibility to dependents.

 

Here’s what God has to say about life

  13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

     Our culture is being deceived and manipulated. We have been desensitized to God’s Truth about unborn life. Even in the womb God has plans for that yet to be born child. 

      Before a woman will turn aside from hearing the truth (based on 2 Timothy 4:3-4) and exchange the truth of God for a lie (based on Romans 1:25), she must be desensitized to the truth.

in order for us to be desensitized toward the lies of fiery darts, we must first have our understanding of the Truth of Scripture diminished. By tempting us not to spend time in God’s Word, our ability to recognize the lies of fiery darts is equally diminished, if we give in to that temptation. In the place of God’s Truth, the world’s concept of truth (which is no truth at all) begins to define our thinking. p 35-36 FD’s 3rd edition

 

Believing lies (fiery darts) that justifies abortion, prohibits a woman from acknowledging and accepting the hope, love, forgiveness, and peace God offers her when she chooses life for her unborn child. 

 

Positive power vs negative power

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Positive thinking has positive power. Negative thinking has negative power!

     I bet you knew that! “That’s just logical,” you might say. But there’s a vast difference between knowing about this power and feeling the impact of such power.  

     I know all too well the effect of negative thinking. I wrote a book, entitled: Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice, based on  my first hand experience of this destructive force. Regretfully, it took me many years before my eyes were opened.   Thankfully, I didn’t live my whole life ignorant of the enemy’s power. 

Positive power at work

     Recently, while in a low mood (prime time to get attacked by fiery darts) my mind strayed to the recent departure of two of my children. Both lived relatively close to me. And with a son living in Africa, their closeness was a constant source of comfort. Then a few months ago, two of my three daughters, moved in opposite directions about 11 hours away. The negative power of sadness began to claim my thoughts. 

     Yet, in these moments, the following thoughts began rising to the surface: “During the times your children and grandchildren lived nearby you made a ton of wonderful memories. Why don’t you focus on those instead? Start thanking God for those memories.” So I did. As I filled my mind with one blessed memory after another, the negative power fueled by negative thoughts diminished. The more I praised God for those sweet memories, the better I felt. 

     But not one to give up easily, Satan sent me another fiery dart. My thoughts were redirected towards another situation in my life that has the potential to create burdensome thoughts. On the tails of my recent reminder, I was prompted to find the good that came out of that burdensome situation. A bit harder perhaps, (Satan’s is clever like that) because the burden is something I continue to wrestle with. Yet, the good is there! Once again, the negative was drained away and the positive began to soothe me.

     As a Christian, I live by the God’s Truth and not the lies of fiery darts. My mind is being renewed every time I spend time with God in prayer and His Word (the Bible). 

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

     So, think about it. A mind not experiencing renewal by God’s Truth, is a mind subject to negative power. The negative power of Satan’s lies and manipulation. A decision to take to heart John 3:16, allows us the resources to expose Satan’s negative power. A power that is no match for the positive power of God’s Truth. 

 

Some relief please!

   Does your life seem complicated at times?  Do you feel like you just don’t have God’s full attention? You pray for guidance but it seems God remains silent. Does the peace you earnestly seek for continue to elude you? You fast, but the answers and the peace do not come. And while you are still waiting for answers, you get punched in the gut with more problems! 

  Yet, you have the sense to know that answers won’t come from any other source. Therefore, you know you must persevere. So you keep on asking the LORD.  All the while wondering when the relief will come.

  In the meantime, fiery darts are messing with your resolve to seek the LORD. They plant doubt and confusing thoughts into your mind. With these fiery dart thoughts,  your seeking the LORD grows more complicated. For now you must sort through these dark thoughts to be able to hear from and be guided by God’s Truth thoughts. 

What do you do in these valley times? 

   Might I suggest that you attack the fiery dart thoughts (those thoughts of negativity, hopelessness, discouragement, doubt, fear, impatience, etc) as soon as they enter your mind. Replace them with Truth thoughts such as Isaiah 54:17, Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 11:1, John 14:27, James 1:2-4, Philippians 2:13, Isaiah 43:4. Words from God to encourage you, give you hope, and to lift you up.

  And we’ve all lived long enough to know that sometimes the answers won’t come quickly (which seems the rule not the exception). At times, we might find that we just have to wait for the answers that seem so long in coming. It is during such times that we must arm ourselves with verses that instruct us as we wait.

waiting on God

  It is good for us to remember, that these dark times have a purpose. (Romans 8:28) God will use these times for our benefit and His glory.  Therefore, focusing on the following word from God, will keep our heads above water. And though the answers still may not come for awhile, these words will give us the relief we need to keep on keeping on. 

 Isaiah 48:17, “This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says:  I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

 

Right focus vs Wrong Focus!

“When you focus on situations that displease you, your mind becomes darkened… You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until (that wrong thing) is fixed.” (taken from Jesus Calling 4/6)

  The above statement was presented to me within my devotional reading this morning. Listen, this is my bent and how weary I grow of it.  But I couldn’t escape the obvious question that followed my reading of the above statement, “Is my focus causing me to not enjoy life?” 

   Recently, I reached a turning point in a particular displeasing situation which promised to put me on a path of enjoying life in spite of it. But as soon as my resolve was formed, fiery darts were aimed straight for it.  I’m sure designed to keep me from going any further in the direction my resolve was directing me. I was discouraged, disheartened, tempted to be weighed down by judgmental thinking. Certainly, I was not enjoying life!!!!

   But just in time, I heard a sermon which reminded me that God wanted to encourage me so I wouldn’t loose heart. Then a devotional reading reminded me that focusing on what was displeasing & troubling me would not only darken my mind but would eat away at my resolve. 

   So here I am still holding on to my resolve to focus on what is “right” in my life as He guides me through and above the displeasing situations! It’s a choice that propels me forward and prevent me wasting my time waiting for the things that are displeasing me to be fixed before I can start enjoying my life.