Nothing Should Separate the Love of God’s Children

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A small bit of yeast makes a whole batch rise.

It’s truly sad how friendships grow further and further apart because a little bit of poison, offense, or hurt builds up walls, breaks down relationships, tears apart partnerships, and destroys the intimacy a friendship once had. Maybe you have a friend with whom you once were close, but you slowly grow further and further apart. There is less pursuit of and desire for the things you used to do but don’t do anymore. Before you know it, you’ve got a divided friendship where once it was unified.

I think we should be people who forgive and forget quickly, tear down walls, and destroy barriers so we can stay one in Christ because Jesus’ last words were that we would be one like He and the Father are one. There should be nothing separating us from the love of God’s children. Nothing.

Speak to Your Mountains, Don’t Pray about Them

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There’s a song that says, “I will climb this mountain with my arms wide open.” One day we were singing it in the prayer room, and the Lord said, “I never asked anyone to climb a mountain. I asked them to speak to their mountain. I also told them that I would give them a new threshing tool so they could thresh their mountain into chaff. I also told them that mountains of human obstacles would be made into mere molehills.” God never asked us to climb a mountain, yet we are striving to overcome and become overcomers. We think it’s our religious duty and sacrifice to suffer and climb a mountain.

We say, “Oh, we’ll do it with our arms wide open in worship to You, God. As I worship You and give You everything, I will lay down my life in sacrifice and climb this mountain for You because You are worthy.” That is really what the song is saying. The song is really not about God. It’s about them and what they will do for God.

But what did God ask you to do? He asked you to love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength and then love your neighbor as yourself. He never said, “I want you to suffer for Me. “I want you to struggle for Me every day.” No. He sent the Holy Spirit to be our guide and comforter, to help us get out of our comfort zone, and to be our teacher so we can learn all the ways of God. We can learn that through the Holy Spirit and His leading in our lives.

Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.
— Isaiah 41:15 (KJV)

Jesus replied, “Have faith in God [constantly]. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s unlimited power], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will]. For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you. Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him [drop the issue, let it go], so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions and wrongdoings [against Him and others].”
— Mark 11:22–25 (AMP)

Then he said to me, “This [continuous supply of oil] is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel [prince of Judah], saying, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of whom the oil is a symbol],’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘What are you, O great mountain [of obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who will rebuild the temple] you will become a plain (insignificant)! And he will bring out the capstone [of the new temple] with loud shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”‘”
— Zechariah 4:6–7 (AMP)

It’s not through our efforts. It’s not by our sheer will. We have the power and are empowered to do anything because of God’s Spirit. It’s from that close, intimate relationship and knowing Him, knowing He has it covered and His promises are true.

The answer to every single one of His promises is yes and amen. It doesn’t matter what you see with your eyes. His answer is still yes and amen. But our understanding can become a roadblock and a stumbling place where we think, “Oh, it hasn’t left yet. This hasn’t been healed yet. The struggle hasn’t left me. Maybe I’m supposed to be sick. Maybe I’m supposed to be poor. Maybe this is the banner I’m supposed to carry. This is a mountain I am supposed to climb, and I will climb it, Lord. With everything in me and every striving humanly possible in my body, I will climb it with my arms wide open and worship You.”

This is a bold statement that I am making to you. I am saying there is a mountain you are climbing and you weren’t designed to climb it. You were designed to thresh it, to speak to it, to command it to leave. God moves mountains. He is a mountain mover.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]
— John 16:33 (AMP)

We will face trouble, but take heart; the Lord has overcome the world. This doesn’t mean that when you are troubled, you should suffer, struggle, and have pity on yourself. It means that in your trouble, you can look through it almost as if it’s a glass to the other side and see the promises of God. The answer is yes and amen. There is a way out. There is freedom. There is a miracle coming.

Jesus died for you to have life and life abundantly, and only deception can keep you from having that. Our deceived mind, not fully understanding what Jesus Christ has paid for us, can keep us from receiving what Jesus has already provided. What? Yes. It is true. It’s for lack of knowledge and understanding that we perish (see Hosea 4:6). Yet in 2 Peter 1:3, it says we have been given “everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him” (NIV). That knowledge is relational knowledge.

We can be misled by the teaching. We can be taught by believers—people like me or your pastors—who are teaching through their personal filters. Maybe they were hurt. Maybe they were let down. Maybe they didn’t get their miracle. So they teach through that. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes God’s word doesn’t come to pass. Sometimes God doesn’t do that. Sometimes, God intends to put these things on you.

The truth is that we cannot filter God’s word through our own circumstances. We cannot filter it through what we see, what we know, or our own reasoning. These things cannot be a strainer for the word of God in our lives.

If something does not come to pass, if we don’t see the miracle, if we don’t see God’s hand at work in our lives, we cannot question if the promise is true. It is, regardless of whether we see it or not. It is truth beyond truth. It is unchanging. It is black and white. I will tell you: You can stand on it.

There are times when we don’t see it come to pass, but we cannot change our belief in God’s word when we don’t see the miracle happen. You believe it every time. Every time I pray for someone, I believe that God wants them well. Not every person is healed, but I know it’s a desire of His heart. If I begin to compromise and think, “Well, sometimes He heals, and sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes He wants people well, and sometimes He doesn’t,” then I become an ineffective vessel of God because I am doubting His word, and that is idolatry. I am putting my own understanding above God’s word, and that is unacceptable.

Have you done that in your life? Have you faced your own reasoning and reasoned God’s word into a package you can swallow, tolerate, or deal with? That is unacceptable. God’s word is true every time. Scripture says that “by His stripes (wounds) we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 AMP). What does that mean? Jesus, when He died, took stripes on His back. He was marred beyond human likeness, not only for our sins but also for our physical health. That was two thousand years ago. That was all provided for.

Sometimes I don’t see that come to pass, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. It doesn’t mean it’s God’s will for that person to die. It doesn’t. We are in a true spiritual battle with an enemy who wants to steal our lives. He wants to kill us, destroy us, and infect us with his STDs (spiritually transmitted diseases). He wants to twist the truth, suppress the truth, make us doubt the truth, and then sidetrack us from God. He wants to fix our eyes on circumstances and put our understanding on our own analytical reasoning. He wants us to have a filter that processes our understanding of God through what has happened to us. This is the greatest way we can be deceived.

There is no mountain that can stand in the name of Jesus Christ because His name is above every other name. Either it’s above every other name or it’s not. In Mark 11:23, it says we can speak to our mountains and they will be cast into the sea. When you speak to your mountains, do they move or do they stay? Many times you speak to them and they stay. Does that mean God’s word is not true? Absolutely not. It is truth. You can stand on it. You can bank on it. If you speak to your mountain and it doesn’t move, then you need to ask yourself, “Why do I doubt? What is causing doubt?”

Mark 9:29 and Matthew 17:21 both say, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.” I believe, with everything in me, that doubt is eradicated in prayer and fasting. Many people pray and fast to move God, but prayer and fasting move us. It moves our hearts closer to God. It removes doubt because we are focused on the kingdom. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (KJV).

As you fast and starve your body, your body no longer gets to control you or rule you. Suddenly your body learns, “Hey, I need to listen up. I am being retrained here.” Your flesh is no longer your ruler, and instead, you’re fasting and starving it. You’re saying to it, “Feast on the word of God.” The more you do this, the closer you draw yourself to the Lord and the more doubt is weeded out. Therefore, faith can be effective. Your faith can become effective in two ways: by hearing the word of God and by praying and fasting.

Many times, people think, “I’m going to pray and fast this mountain out of here!” They’re really saying, “I’m going to give my sacrifice to God so He will have pity on me and see my great works, and then He will move.” I can tell you right now, God does not move based on you. He moves based on His will and who He is. He is just that good. His love and His grace are irrational. He is uncontrollably generous. It is the kindest love you will ever know. It is so fruitful and so radically true that you can bank on it every time. He moves because of who He is and His great love for you. He does not move based on your behavior. He moves because that’s who He is.

The name of Jesus has been granted to you, for you to use the authority to speak to your mountain so it can be cast into the sea. If you are not seeing that happen, check out those other verses because God did not call us to climb our mountains with our arms wide open. He called us to speak to our mountains. He called us to tear them down using His name and His authority. It’s His power that is behind it. It’s His life. It’s Jesus’ blood. It’s Him being marred beyond human likeness that gives you great authority to use His name.

God has already done it. He has already provided. But will you reach out and grab it and take possession of it? Will you use it in faith, knowing that God’s promises come to pass because His answer to them is always yes and amen?

My Friend, My God

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God, You cover me in cloaks of grace and love.
I will live my life for You.
I have fallen short of Your glory.
Let Your mercy reign and cover my sin.
Let Your grace hide all I have been.
Let Your love consume me now.
Make me new.
Like a hammer, life hit me hard, but You caught me in Your web of love.
I am new.
My heart and mind will change.
Only for You, my heart will sing all of what You do.
You took my life, a life of sin, and said you can start again.
All you need is to ask and receive all I have for you.
My life is not my own, but please let me show I am new.
My life belongs to the Savior of my soul, the Redeemer of my life.
You have done what only You can do.
You have won me.
You love me.
Your love stays with me even when I’m beneath the sin no child of Yours should know.
Can You show me I’m not too far? There’s still hope for me?
You came to me.
I didn’t choose You, but You chose me to be part of Your family.
I want to know, do I show what You did for me?
Do I shine with Your love?
Do I give to the least of us?
Am I a friend to the lonely?
Do I go beyond religion?
Do I show all You want us to know, that You are never mad, never angry, never bitter towards what I’ve done, but You love and still call me son?
Your grace is with me.
I will be a family to those who cannot see; I will be their eyes.
To those who cannot hear, let me be their ears.
To the girl who ran away and lost herself, she needs to know that she can still follow You.
Give her Your hand and save her from sin.
She is Your daughter, and You love her still.
To the boy who lost everything, all your days trust the Lord. He is good. He will follow You, too.
God forgives all we’ve done.
He will still call me son.
He doesn’t want anything more than for us to know His love.
His grace carries us in this rat race.
He covers my sin and will carry me till the end.

• Authored by Josh Pugh •

People Pleasers

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People-pleasers—they are dangerous. They will run over someone to make someone else happy. This might be good if you are on the receiving end. But at what cost do you want to be pleased?

They are dangerous because their god is not stable. Their idol is a moving target. Their god is the one they seek the most approval from in the moment.

They are angry. When they disappoint someone, they can easily lose their temper because they feel like a failure; they feel like they are not high and lifted up in your eyes.

People-pleasers live out of their emotions. They need to feed their flesh so they can have the fulfillment of approval.

People-pleasers cannot be a sold-out follower of Christ because it’s impossible to please man and serve Christ. You cannot serve two masters.

Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

People pleasers are selfish. They are self-protecting. They call all of their efforts servanthood, but they’re striving to make themselves look good. James 3:16 says where there is a self-serving motive or selfishness, wherever someone is striving because of their selfish desire to be approved, they will find disorder and every evil work. Wherever there is a self-serving motive, you need to watch your back.

James 3:16 (NIV)
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

People-pleasers are disobedient. We are supposed to work for the Lord in everything we do. But when you work for man, you may cut corners or be deceitful in everything. You are working for man whose expectations are always changing.

Colossians 3:23 (NIV)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

Colossians 3:22 (NIV)
 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.

Numbers 23:19 (NIV)
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

People-pleasers are always seeking praise. They practice their righteous efforts for others.

Matthew 6:1-34 (NIV)
Giving to the Needy
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Prayer
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Fasting
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Treasures in Heaven
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do Not Worry
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

People-pleasers are unsafe. They are never safe or stable, because the Lord’s shelter is the only safe shelter.

Psalm 91:1 (NIV)
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

The fear of man is a snare. It’s a trap.

People-pleasers are adulterers. Friendship with the world is enmity with God.

People-pleasers take advantage of others. They have a self-protective nature.

Leviticus 25:17 (NIV)
Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.

People-pleasing makes them step on anyone to get what they want to please.

Psalm 1 (NIV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

1 Thessalonians 4:6 (NIV)
… and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.

They smooth-talk you and try to make what they want your idea so they won’t have any opposition. Once again, they are self-protecting. They deceive the innocent.

Romans 16:18 (NIV)
For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

Heed the voice of the people pleaser. Let no man deceive you. They secretly hate having to please you.

Matthew 24:4 (NIV)
 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.”

1 John 4:20 (NIV)
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

As a man bringing you into bondage. If you are in bondage, you are not free.

2 Corinthians 11:20 (NIV)
In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face.

Rebellion comes from bitterness. Rebellion is the sin of witchcraft. Stubbornness is as inequity and idolatry.

Do We Really Have Free Will?

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Jesus also said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. … By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:19–20, 30 NIV). He said, “I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it” (John 12:49 NIV).

Jesus said that He is just like the Father. He didn’t do or say whatever He wanted but only what the Father willed Him to do and say.

Jesus never made one person sick. He never refused to heal one single person.

If all this is true—which it is—then Jesus would have misrepresented God if God is the One who gives sickness, disease, and problems. If God just allowed it, well then, Jesus misrepresented God because He never refused to heal a single person.

I can, however, show you a couple of instances where people refused to accept healing from Him. 

Look at Mark 6:1–6. When Jesus visited His hometown, “He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:5–6 NKJV). Notice that it’s “could,” not “would.” It’s that He couldn’t do it, not that He didn’t want to do it. He couldn’t do miracles there because of their unbelief.

Not His unbelief. 
Their unbelief.  

You see, there are a couple of instances where Jesus could not heal people—not because of His lack of power but because of their lack of faith. It says the same thing in the book of Acts and other places. But you cannot find a single person on whom Jesus ever put sickness. He never said, “No, you didn’t learn your lesson, so suffer a bit longer with this disease.” He even healed unbelievers. Check out the story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11–19). That is how loving our God is!

If you really believe that Jesus is a perfect representation, the exact image, of the Father (Hebrews 1:3), then you have to take Jesus as the example and say, “It’s not God’s will for sickness to remain in our bodies.”

The only time God ever struck people with sickness was in punishment and judgment, and ALL of our judgment has been fully placed upon Jesus in the new covenant. It is no longer our portion! 

Defending Yourself

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Believer, why are you so defensive? When someone points out an error you made, a mistake, a failure, why do you feel the need to argue and defend yourself and explain why you made a mistake and screwed up? Why do you feel the need to throw others under the bus instead of taking responsibility and bearing the burden on your shoulders, whether you did it or not? Are you counting yourself as more valuable than others or vice versa?

Are you so insecure that you need to be right every time? Are you so insecure that you can’t fail because if you mess up and fail, then you are a failure? Do you label yourself? Do you think, “If I just prevent myself from failing, I’m going to be good enough”? Don’t you realize that we all fail and if we are not failing, we are not trying? Are you struggling with your own identity so much that you have to be defensive and in the defensive position every time?

Listen to your words. Check if you are constantly saying:

  • “Well, I didn’t do that.”
  • “That’s not me. That was someone else.”
  • “I didn’t mean to.”
  • “Here’s what I meant by that …”
  • “That’s not really a failure. I didn’t really miss that.”
  • “I didn’t really make that mistake. Here’s what truly happened. Let me make sure you know that it wasn’t my intention.”

Do you hear yourself saying that type of thing every day, day in and day out? Instead of accepting responsibility for what you have done, you defend yourself, trying to redeem your own reputation. You weren’t called to redeem your own reputation. You are called to lay it down and hold up the reputation of Christ. He doesn’t need any defending.

Ask people around you if you are constantly defending yourself or throwing others under the bus to save yourself. I dare you to have the courage to ask that question. Now, asking your spouse is one thing. Your spouse will probably tell you, “No, you’re not,” to try to keep the peace and the unity. Ask some other people—your closest friend, your coworkers, your children.

One time, my kids said, “Hey, mom. We’d like to talk to you. We don’t really want to hear an argument about your perspective. We just want you to hear us.” They wanted to be heard. They didn’t want to hear my perspective on why I chose to do what I did. They wanted me to hear their frustration.

Do you have a reputation of being defensive and not easy to talk to? Maybe you said you were going to do something, but you didn’t keep your word. Instead of admitting you messed up, you try to defend yourself. You tell people why and make excuses, failing to count the cost of how you have lost credibility in the eyes of others.

You may not think this applies to you, but trust me, I am pretty sure it applies to most people. Look at your behavior and stop defending yourself. 

Let the Church Reinforce What You Are Learning

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Let the church reinforce, but don’t rely on it. The church, the organization, should support and reinforce what you believe. But don’t rely on it to find your beliefs. John chapters 14 and 16 say the Holy Spirit is your teacher, your guide, your friend, your comforter, your counselor, and your advocate. He is all you need—the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. It wasn’t always that way, but it is that way today because we have the teacher living in us. The Word of God is in us. Jesus is the Word. He is the truth, the way, and the life.

Many people don’t take any responsibility for themselves to hear from the Great Teacher, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is part of God, and He is our teacher. He lives within us. He is constantly teaching us and guiding us if we will listen. The pastor isn’t always here on your behalf. No, but the Holy Spirit speaks to you.

Your church should be reiterating what the Holy Spirit is already teaching you. Honestly, it shouldn’t be the first time you hear it when your pastor preaches it. Sometimes it is, in the beginning, because you are a baby, just a mere infant, and you are on milk. You need that supply and food, so it is what’s feeding you.

We need to be in the Word of God—listening, receiving, and hearing from Him—so the Word speaks to us and we learn to discern the difference between worldly and godly thoughts. The Holy Spirit will speak to you through your thoughts. It’s kind of eerie sometimes how you do something and you’re like, “Oh, wow! That was really the Holy Spirit telling me to do that. But I didn’t know it. Now I know and in hindsight, I see it was clearly not me. It was God.”

So don’t rely on your pastor for everything. Let him come in and support what the Holy Spirit is teaching you. There is nothing cooler than hearing from God and then hearing your pastor speak a word confirming exactly what the Holy Spirit said.

Out of the Pit: What to Do When You Are Discouraged

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When I am super discouraged or my hope is deferred, I am very careful of whom I talk to. I don’t want anyone speaking death over me or agreeing with what is going on or giving me advice that is in contradiction to the truth of the Word of God. Every time, I am very careful of whom I speak to and whom I lock arms with.

Everyone’s steadfastness in the Lord can have highs and lows—with moments of really strong commitment and, other times, feelings of weakness. If I focus on my circumstances, I can easily become discouraged. When I focus on the face of Jesus, everything He paid for on the cross, and the truth of God’s Word, my hope can be revived. He has been faithful in the past, and He will be faithful today. He is faithful today, and He will be faithful tomorrow. My God is good, but sometimes I have to ask myself, “Do I really believe who God says He is? Do I believe it?”

What I do to get myself out of a pit—because I seem to be in one this morning—is start praying. I tell God how I really feel. I don’t hold back. I give Him all my ugly thoughts and all my ugly words. I give Him all my doubt and disappointment. I confess it all.

The next thing I do is start asking Him whom I could talk to, who could encourage me. I don’t need anybody to crawl into a pit with me because then we would both be stuck down low. I need someone who is up high and will encourage me with mercy, love, and truth. I need someone who will say, “That sucks, but God is really the only person or thing we can put our hope in.” I ask the Lord to bring someone to mind, or I simply listen and wait for peace. He will direct my steps if I ask Him. “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2 NIV). But if you seek Him, you will find Him.

Sometimes I don’t talk to anyone else. I let the Holy Spirit be my comforter. Today what came to mind was that I needed to call into a prayer line with beliefs similar to mine. I know without a doubt, 100% of the time, they will strongly encourage me. They will agree with me in the truth and renew my hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and it is certain. It is absolutely resolved. It is believing for things that aren’t seen; it’s not visible. It’s impossible for man’s eye to see, but I am sure it is there.

I am reminded of the testimony of a man named Allen Moore. He had a stroke. He is not supposed to be able to walk or talk. His MRI to this date reveals that the part of his brain related to these abilities does not work. With man’s eye, it appears he should not be talking or walking, yet he does. I have met him personally, and he is walking and talking—living the unseen.

I start reminding myself of all the things God has done for me in my life and my family. I start reminding myself of the miracles and the power of God that have been on display in my life for years. As I do that, it encourages me. I am encouraging and sharpening myself in the Lord and in the truth. It awakens me and gives me hope. It gets rid of doubt. It doesn’t increase my faith, but it begins to smash out any doubt so my hope can be renewed. When my hope is renewed, faith is restored. Faith is present.

I can use my imagination in faith to see a part of my body completely healed and whole again. I imagine what it would look like the next time I am able to see it. I’m not going to look at it again until I have done this for a while and I feel it is time.

When I fall into a pit, this is what I do to get out of it. How about you? 

Pray without ceasing

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Our tree was blooming this year. It had this pink, beautiful—we used to call it propellers when I was a kid but they were seeds, pink propeller seeds. They were everywhere. I’ve never seen this tree produce pink ones before, so that was unusual. I wasn’t actually sure what they were until they started to fall off the tree. When they started to fall off, I realized—oh my goodness, these are those brown propeller seeds!

I’ve just been thinking about that for a long time. That the tree produced a thousand seeds. Four thousand new trees—the wind blew them around. As of today, I have about 25 new trees growing in my yard. And I was thinking, you know what we’ll do with those trees—because they’re not beautiful, they’re not placed in the right spot—is we will pull them up, mow over them or something. But at the end of the day, that tree that produced a thousand seeds, not a single one of those trees will actually grow into a tree.

This year, for some reason, it just broke my heart. I just thought why would God make a plant reproduce itself and produce so many seeds if he didn’t want to see those seeds come to life and come to fruition and come to a full maturity and a full harvest.
    
And I just thought about we’ve become a nation in America that we care more about beauty than we do creation. We care more about the right placement of the tree rather than the tree. The tree is the very thing that gives us life. It gives us oxygen and we don’t let them reproduce, are we actually causing a bigger problem later down the road? Something we can’t even imagine at this time? Nor would we want to?

I’m wondering in what way are we stifling what God wants to do on this earth because the way that it happens naturally isn’t okay. We gotta realign it and make it better. What in your life have you stopped God’s creation or God’s work in you? What have you done out of your own flesh that has caused God’s creation to cease in your life?

Every waking moment is to be lived in an awareness that God is with us and that He is actively involved and engaged in our thoughts and actions. 

Unfortunately, many believers hold their “spiritual breath” for long periods, thinking brief moments with God are sufficient to allow them to survive. But such restricting of their spiritual intake is caused by sinful desires. The fact is that every believer must be continually in the presence of God, constantly breathing in His truths, to be fully functional.

Emotions: A Can Opener to the Soul

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One of the greatest things about having kids who are old enough to do things is bossing them around. “Hey kids, do the dishes.” “Hey kids, vacuum the floor.” “Hey kids, do all of my motherly house chores.” When I tell them, command them, or ask them to do something, am I asking them to do something they couldn’t possibly carry out? I mean, how difficult is it to unload the dishwasher for a 15-year-old? She uses the dishes. I use the dishes. Why is the house the responsibility of the mother? It shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t all fall on my shoulders. 

When I ask her to do it, there is a purpose behind it. It’s not something she is unable to do. I didn’t say, “Hey, go reroof the house.” I’m not going to say, “Hey Chandler, I know you are not old enough to drive and you don’t have a driver’s license, but can you drive my car to the store to get us some groceries?”

Right before Jesus was crucified, He was giving His last words to His disciples. But they didn’t realize that in the moment when Jesus said—in John 14:1—“Do not let your hearts be troubled” (NIV). Distressed or agitated is how the Amplified Bible defines that. He told them not to let their hearts be troubled. That is a command. He gave them a command. He was telling them, “Hey, I am going to be crucified. Now when this happens, don’t be agitated. Don’t be distressed.” Would He give them a command they could not carry out? Would God ever do this? Would He give you something to do if He hadn’t equipped you for it already? Absolutely not.

When they took Jesus away to crucify Him, all the disciples fled because of shock, awe, and fear—even though Jesus had told them what was going on and what was going to happen. It was like they did not truly believe Him. They didn’t understand. They didn’t have full comprehension of what was going to go down. 

When it happened, it’s like it spiked their five senses. Their emotions started going wild, like, “What is going to happen? I am afraid. What if they take me, too?” Peter denied Jesus three times because he didn’t want to be associated with Him. What would make someone deny Jesus three times? Fear. Fear for their own life, fear for their own harm, and fear that if Jesus was accused, they were going with Him.

Jesus had just told them not to let their hearts be troubled, not to let themselves be moved. Our emotions are like a can opener to our soul. They can completely and immediately invoke fear and a response if we aren’t being intentional about pausing. The moment it hits us and our heart wants to be troubled, we have to pause, take those emotions and thoughts captive, and put truth to them every time. The moment they heard or saw Jesus being taken into captivity, the disciples should have paused and remembered, “Wait a second. Jesus told us this was going to happen. He told us not to let our hearts be troubled. How can we band together and keep that from happening?”

Instead, their immediate reaction was to flee. They all fled. They ended up separated. What does Ecclesiastes say? “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 NIV). Yet they all fled. They went on their own. They ended up isolated. Peter ended up isolating himself when he denied Jesus. He didn’t have a band of brothers, a cord of three strands.

In John 14:27, when Jesus was finishing His last words, He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (NIV). He told them to stop allowing themselves and permitting themselves to be agitated and disturbed, to be fearful, intimidated, cowardly, and unsettled.

Jesus had given this command to them, and immediately following that, they didn’t carry through with a single thing He had told them to do. They were fearful; they were disturbed. They were agitated. They were cowardly. They were unsettled. They were in denial. They didn’t cling to the truth. They didn’t cling to Jesus. They didn’t remember His words. They forgot. They didn’t linger on the last words of their leader. They gave up, quit, and ran in fear. They didn’t remember He said not to be troubled. If they hadn’t been troubled, they would have remembered, “Oh, He said this is only going to happen for three days. In three days, He will rise again.” But they couldn’t remember that because their emotions took over and their flesh responded.

Whenever we have an emotional response and our hearts are troubled, we have to ask ourselves, “What is it that we truly believe? What lie do we believe that is preventing us from being stable-minded?”

Psalm 91:1 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]” (AMP). When your emotions flare up and your heart is troubled, distressed, and agitated, you aren’t resting in the shelter of God. We have to ask ourselves what it is we believe that is untrue and triggering this emotional response.

My automobile has dashboard lights. I have two of mine on right now—one is maintenance required and the other is low windshield wiper fluid. Those dashboard lights are there to tell me, “Hey, your car needs maintenance. You might want to get it checked out before it breaks down on you on the highway.” Emotions are the same thing. They flare up to tell you, “Hey, it’s a reminder. Remember God’s promises. Don’t forget the truth He gave you. Don’t forget the words He spoke to you. Go back to the last thing He said. Remember His promises so you can be stable. Trust in Him. Rest in Him to be stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Do a heart check. What is causing this trigger to happen? What is the source? Release it in the name of Jesus and be free from it. Emotions are a can opener to your soul. We are supposed to worship God in spirit and in truth. We need to be protecting. When our emotions jump up, we should pause and take a look at our dashboard. Say, “Hey, what lights are up? God, remind me of Your promises. Is there some lie I believe and I need to speak to right now in the name of Jesus and release? Do I need to forgive myself or someone else?”

We need to stop being moved and controlled by every emotional response and not let our hearts be troubled, distressed, and agitated. He left us His peace, not peace like the world has but the peace that transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds when we rest in Him.