Love

I was twenty-four years old before I heard of agape. It was a time of trial in my life. I was driving in the car with a coworker when he started explaining to me the differences among three types of love: erosphilia, and agape.

 

008

 

I had been in church, on and off, for most of my nearly twenty-five years, yet I had never heard of agape. My coworker described agape as unconditional love. It is always there for you no matter how righteous or wicked you are. You cannot do anything to lessen it or increase it; it is the same, steady love day in and day out. This type of love does not keep track of your sins. It does not stifle you or imprison you. It is the kind of love that fills you and frees you. It is the kind of love that changes you.

 

I had spent the last fourteen years deprived of love. I had sought love in every corner. I had pursued passionate love, romantic love, and friendship. I had searched high and low for a love that would make me feel valuable. I yearned for love. I simply wanted to be worthy of someone’s love.

 

You can only be rejected so many times before you start to believe you deserve it. At that time of my life, I felt alone and unlovable. Then my coworker guided me to the truth of unconditional love. I did not fully comprehend the significance of this concept at the time, but I have since come to understand that I am loved. When I felt rejected and worthless, those feelings were not my true identity. In truth, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 NIV). God Himself “created my inmost being”; He “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13 NIV). God set me apart before I was born as one who was and is and always will be loved—by Him.

 

The church needs to wake up and stop constantly fixating on everyone’s flaws. We cannot afford to forget who God is and what He did out of His abundant love for every single one of us. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). We did not and cannot deserve His sacrifice and love for us, yet they are ours to receive. How dare the church allow another child to endure a life of desperately searching for love because no one shared with her the blessing of God’s free gift!

 

Jesus Christ issued His disciples this command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35 NIV). Will you rise to the challenge and share agape with someone every day this year? In one year, 365 days, I challenge you to convey this message of unconditional love to the people God brings into your life. Tell someone, “You are loved. It is part of your identity. It is etched into your being, and it can never be removed. It is in your very fingerprints—every indelible line testifies that you are loved.”

Greater Works

Have you ever made a list of the miracles Jesus did in the Bible? It is amazing. Jesus was for the people. He was caring and so willing to heal—when it was met with faith.

After all of these incredible miracles, Jesus made this bold statement:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 NIV)


You will do even GREATER THINGS…”

At the time I saw this verse, I had hardly seen any miracles, much less greater things. My mom was sick, and I wanted her to be well. I prayed. I asked. I begged God to heal my mom.

Its really hard to have faith for God to heal cancer when you havent even begun to trust Him with a headache or a cold. There is all this fear that creeps in when you hear the word cancer. Fear and faith dont make great companions.

How do we see even greater things than the works Jesus did in the Bible?

Start with the little things:

  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Cramps
  • Earache

Stop trusting in medicine and home remedies and start putting your full trust in the name of Jesus. I am not telling you to get off your medicines. I am challenging you to ask yourself, What tradition am I putting before God?

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition… (Mark 7:13 KJV)

One tradition can be running to medicine for a headache before you seek God.

In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians. (2 Chronicles 16:12 NIV)

God wants us to seek Him first, not when He is the last chance for survival.


The greater things begin with trusting God for the little things. As we trust God, not methods or traditions, we will begin to have faith for bigger and bigger things.


What are your methods or traditions that you run to before you go to God? Coffee to wake up in the morning? Food when you have a bad day? The phone to talk to a friend about something thats bothering you? Medicine when you have a headache?


Make a commitment to run to your Father God first in all things.



Help Me with My Unbelief

How do you defeat doubt? I believe faith is on one side and doubt is on the other. Doubt creeps in when we start to think, “Hey, I prayed this prayer, and it didn’t work. God didn’t answer. He didn’t come through for me. I asked Him to do this, but it didn’t happen. Is His word really true or not?” We start looking around and trying to solve this problem. We wonder, “Why didn’t this work? Why didn’t God come through on this promise? If He didn’t come through on this one, then maybe it’s not true at all in any case.” We start to question and doubt the fullness of the truth in the word of God.

On February 6, 2006, I lost my mother to a 31-month battle with cancer. At the time, I believed Jesus died for healing. I believed God was the healer. I knew He was, and I knew He gave me the faith to believe it. Still, I wasn’t quite there yet. I wasn’t completely convinced. I still had doubt because I had never seen anybody live it out. I’d never seen anybody living that way. I hadn’t even heard anyone teaching it before 2003. Actually, before 2003, I didn’t even have a clue that God is as good as He is. Trying to learn all of that quickly in a microwave was very difficult for me because I couldn’t get over the hump that God was mad at me and that He sometimes takes loved ones. “Sometimes He needs them more than we do,” people told me. Those things I heard in the past caused me to have doubt.

How do you overcome doubt? How do you defeat doubt so your faith can fully flourish? The only way I know how to do that is to keep inputting the word of God into your heart and your mind to renew your mind fully. Your mind has to be renewed. You have to take all of those old sayings that people have spoken into your ear and overcome them with the truth. The only way to do that is to hear the word of God again and again and again until it becomes more alive and true in you and to you than anything else anyone has ever said to you. Faith comes by hearing the word of God.

Take a look at Matthew 17:21 and Mark 9:29. It’s the same message in two different gospels. If you really look at these portions of Scripture and read them in context, you find that the disciples were trying to perform a miracle. They were trying to cast out a demon, but it wouldn’t go. It would not obey them. It wouldn’t leave. The people were probably saying things like, “Why can’t your disciples do this? You can do it, Jesus. Why can’t they? What is going on?” Jesus basically told His disciples, “Really? You’ve followed Me all this time. You’ve seen Me do it. You know I have given you the authority. You’ve walked it out. I have given you the great commission. You know this is what you’re called to do, but you’re not doing it. Your faith is so tiny. Your faith is so little.”

Jesus said, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21 NKJV). I have heard many Christians interpret that verse to mean that the only way the demon would flee, that the miracle could happen, was if the disciples stopped to pray and fast. Yet, that’s not what Jesus did. Jesus didn’t stop to pray and fast. He rebuked it, and it left. He said, “Get out,” and it was gone. Boom. It obeyed. So what was Jesus really talking about?

He was talking about your weak faith. How do you defeat doubt? You pray and fast. When you’re not overcoming by God’s word and living the truth of His word, when doubts are defeating you moment by moment and your imagination is spinning out of control in a negative pattern, fast and pray. Many people think fasting and praying moves God and makes Him do what you’ve asked Him to do, like, “Oh, I’m so proud of her. She fasted and prayed. Look how great she is. I’m going to go ahead and answer her prayer and remove this demon.” No, no, no, no, no. No. That is not what happens.

The process of fasting and prayer moves you and me. It moves us. It moves our hearts into alignment with God’s. It moves the doubt we have. It moves the reliance on our flesh and on our self. It moves our efforts out of the way so God’s efforts can flow freely through us. It puts down our carnal nature and picks up the Spirit of God. If you’re fasting and praying or doing the right things or walking around the building seven times to try to get God to move on your behalf, that does not move God. It moves you.

Defeat doubt by picking up God’s word and reading it until you fall madly, deeply in love with Him. God’s word will become more true than how your body feels, than what’s on the TV, than what your friends say to you or what somebody speaks over you. Fast and pray regularly to keep your flesh, your carnal nature, your meatheadedness out of the way of your being freely in God’s presence.

The Name of Jesus


I had a God encounter. I spoke with a woman who loves the Lord with all her heart. We shared testimonies while we did some dishes. It was a random meet for only a moment between women a few generations apart. 


She had lost her husband of thirty years. I began to weep at the thought of even beginning to lose mine. All those little things that I am nagging about—like his socks beside the bed and the protein powder that he sprinkles but never wipes off the counter—started to grow faint. These are minor issues. They’re immaterial, really. Why does this type of thing bother me? Why does it nag me? Why do I have to open my mouth? Shut up. Shut up. I hear it repeating in my head. I would rather have those socks on the floor and the protein powder on my counter than not have him there at all. Who cares about the house? It’s about people. 

She went on to tell me how her last words to him were, “Hey, you aren’t supposed to be doing that.” He was on doctor’s orders not to do certain things because his heart was fragile. She said she had to forgive him for doing things outside of what he was supposed to do because that was who he was. He didn’t want to be someone different. He didn’t want to live a different life. 

I have been thinking about this nonstop. I was thinking that if we knew how to war in the name of Jesus Christ, then the dead would be raised up until they had long lives. When we are given a doctor’s report, we don’t have to receive it. We don’t have to receive the doctor’s report. We have to stand up in the name of Jesus Christ and receive the truth for our medicine, not a fact. I thought to myself, “If that happened to me, I would not only have to forgive my husband, but I would also have to forgive myself for not being the warrior that I was supposed to be, for not being someone so firmly established in the truth that facts don’t faze me.” 

Truth is my fact. The truth should be my reality above everything else in this world. I do live in this world. I live in a body, but the truth is that I am a spirit. I am a spirit with God living in me. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me. It does no good to have that power inside of me if I can’t use it in this world, if I can’t draw on it to help people. It does no good if I just receive all the dark, sick evil in this world. It does no good whatsoever. 

I want to be a woman of God. I want to be a lioness arising, according to Lisa Bevere. I want to be a woman who is standing at the gate with my sword and refusing to let in any stealing, killing, and destroying. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me, and I have been commissioned and called by God and given the authority over darkness in the name of Jesus Christ.

I hope you have a God encounter today and you have a revelation that changes you forever. Stand up, ladies. Stand up, women of God. Stand firmly in the truth, knowing that this is a spiritual battle. It is not a battle in the physical. It is won through the name of Jesus Christ.

Stirring My Expectations

The Fight to Remain Hopeful in Devastating Times

All the power of Jesus flows through me because He deposited it in me through the Holy Spirit. If I speak to a mountain and I have only faith as small as a mustard seed—the tiniest thing on earth—then it will be moved. I have to have that faith, though. Faith has to be there. What is faith? “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV).

When God spoke the world into being, He spoke. But who was listening? No one, right? So why did He have to speak if no one was actually listening? He spoke because He took what was invisible and made it visible. That is how He spoke. He spoke the invisible into the visible. When we speak, we are bringing the invisible to the visible. That is how the power works in and through us. 

But we cannot do that unless our imagination can imagine it. We have to be able to imagine it. Our imagination is generally for vain use, thinking of the negatives and the what-ifs. We think, “How will I live with this? How will I live with that?” versus “What can God do here? I can imagine this person healed and walking.” There are two ways of using your imagination: a way that gives God glory and brings miracles to pass or the way of negativity.

God meets you where your faith is. In the Bible, when Jesus was walking around, He met people exactly where they were. The majority of the time, there had to be a point of expectation where they were expecting to receive something from Jesus. They didn’t necessarily have to expect to receive a miracle, but they had to have an expectation. What is expectation? It’s another word for hope. You have to have a hope.

I think, so many times, in all of the trials, we become discouraged and overridden with the inability to have hope. We lose our expectation. We become bitter and burdened. We are not full of hope and seeking, knowing and believing God is going to bring about His promises and make them come to pass. We have to have a point of expectation.

During this issue I have had, I recognized the point of expectation was immediate healing. When that didn’t come to pass, I lost my expectation. I had to go back and say, “Okay, what is my expectation? I have to reestablish my expectation. I have to reignite my hope.” It’s kind of like hope is our part and faith is God’s part. The faith you have is a gift from God. You can’t conjure it up. He gave it to you. It is deposited in you. He gave you the very ability to believe in Him. 

I had to ask myself, “What do I expect? Who is my hope in? Do I really believe Jesus is who He says He is? Do I believe?” He asked His disciples at one point, “This is what everyone else is saying about me. But who do you say I am?” I really had to answer that question. Who do I say God is? Who do I believe Him to be? Even though I haven’t seen this manifested in my own body, do I believe who He says He is?

I began to listen to the Word pour in and realized my fear was limiting my ability to receive from God. It had punched out my expectation and my hope. I started saying, “Do not be afraid. Only believe. Don’t be in fear. Only believe. Believe only; do not fear.” You can only do one or the other. I started quoting these Scriptures. “I will come and heal. I will, and you will be clean.”

I am saying Jesus is willing. Greater is He who is in me than anything else in the world. There is nothing that can come against me that’s greater than the One who is in me. Jesus is willing. He says, “I will.” His will is aligned with God’s will. So if He will, God will. If God wants to, Jesus wants to. God is willing. Jesus has compassion on us. That is His heart’s desire. He does not want to see us hurting. He wants to see us prosper and be in good health.

I realized I have been robbed of my joy, my hope, my thankfulness, and my health. Not only was I robbed of my physical health, I also was robbed of my joy and my hope. I had to start being thankful and start thinking, “God, thank You, Father, that I can walk. Thank You, Father, that my neck isn’t broken. Thank You, Father, that I am awake another day. Thank You that I am seen and not viewed. Thank You, Father, that I am loved. Thank You that I know Your Word. It is deposited in me. Help awaken it.” As I truly started to motivate and keep my hope up, I stopped walking alone.

The thing is, the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion. He wants to separate you from your pack. He wants to make you prey. Really, the only way to get to your prey is to get them away from their pack, where they are safe.

This journey for me has been isolating. It has been isolating physically. I can’t really hug and kiss my children or people in general because I don’t know if they can be as gentle as they need to be. So to protect myself, I’ve had to say, “No, thank you. We can hand hug.” The other thing is this has limited my intimacy with my husband because I can’t fully function physically right now.

Mentally and emotionally, I can’t engage in conversations with people. I just don’t have it in me. I don’t have small talk in me. I’m easily exhausted. I can only take on these little bitty bites of social activity. The thought of being social burdens me so much. I don’t want to be social right now. I don’t want drop-by visitors. I don’t want people to bring me food because I don’t want to have to talk to them. I don’t want to have to engage socially. If they want to leave it on the porch, thank you for blessing me. But it’s not really a blessing for me to have to engage and entertain right now. It hurts my neck to turn and be in conversation. It hurts my eyes to look up to the left and down to the right. It’s just random little things. It’s truly been isolating. I’ve been all alone. I don’t even want to text because it hurts my arm, neck, and eyes to have my phone in front of me. It’s been a silent time.

The truth is I am not alone. I couldn’t be more loved, adored, and surrounded by the Father and the people who are around me. I just don’t want to engage with them right now. But I know they’re my friends. They will be there until the end. They are fighting for me, standing in the gap for me. It’s almost like they remind me I am not alone and that increases my hope.

One of my daughters made me realize I had lost my smile. She made me realize I had given up on joy because the pain was so severe that I had lost my ability to smile and engage in laughter. Other days, I didn’t do as much. I sat around and didn’t speak. I didn’t have anything to say.

That’s enough. It’s not okay to steal my joy because that’s attached to my hope and my health. That is one thing I need to keep. I continue to encourage myself. I tell myself I shouldn’t be afraid and I should believe only. I asked the Father to rid me of doubt. I read the Word and realized God meets you where your faith is.

Remember the woman with the issue of blood? Her faith was, “If I only touch the hem of His garment, then I will be healed.” The centurion would speak the Word only. That was his faith. The guy at the gate called Beautiful wasn’t even expecting to be healed, but he looked at Peter and John with the expectation to receive something. That was his point of faith. Jesus met them there.

I reestablished my point of expectation, just proclaimed it out loud, “I repent for losing my expectation. This is my expectation. This is what I believe.” I had a face to face visit with Jesus. I pictured Him in my mind, and I said, “I don’t want to be like Your disciples, who, even though they saw You, walked with You, and saw Your miracles, were still in awe and shocked by them because they didn’t really know who You were. But I know You. I know who You are. I have walked with You. I know You are willing. I know You are trustworthy. I know You have sent Your Holy Spirit, and greater are You than that which is in me. Father, this is what I expect. I expect that every time I have a symptom, I can speak Your name only and it will be gone in Jesus’ name. I know that every symptom doesn’t mean healing didn’t come. It came two thousand years ago, and healing is present. I believe and expect my body to receive that healing immediately. When a new symptom comes, it is exactly what it is. It is the enemy trying to make the symptoms louder than my knowledge and relationally knowing who God is and what He desires for me. Those new symptoms, I will not let them tear me down in fear. I will rebuke fear in the name of Jesus. Now I pray, Father, that You will set me free from the fear that has entangled me.”

I reestablished my expectation and said, “This is what I expect to happen.” It made me fight before I move. I speak, and I pray. I speak to my mountain, and I expect. I am not just praying and hoping, wishing a wishful hope. I am praying, fully expecting it to happen. I am expecting the visible to submit to the invisible. How awesome is that? And He is doing it.


The Compounding Effect of God

How do you make a big impact in the kingdom of God?
                                                           
In Nehemiah, they rebuilt the wall that had been torn down for 150 years. They had actually tried to repair the wall but failed. Have you ever embarked on a really large project that was bigger than you and anything you could have imagined? Did you start working on it, but it ended up being too big for you to overcome?
Well, the only way to accomplish a huge project is to break it down into the smallest of baby steps that anyone could carry out. That’s what Nehemiah did. He had people repair the wall outside of their own homes. 

The city walls are torn down. Repairing the whole thing looks like a huge undertaking. But what if each of us repairs the portion of the wall between his two next-door neighbors, one to the left and one to the right? What if we just work on that bit? That doesn’t seem so bad.

What they found out is the enemy doesn’t like restoration. The enemy doesn’t want us to repair broken-down people or repair and take away strongholds. No, the enemy wants us with our defenses down so we are easy to attack. He wants our neighbors to stay in bondage. To that end, he sends obstacles and threats and all kinds of barriers into our path.
Nehemiah knew they needed to find a way to fight against the enemy who was trying to come in and also keep working at the same time. A lot of times, we are either all throwing down in fighting or all working. We need to do what Nehemiah did. He made sure three hands were holding a weapon and fending off the enemy so the worker could keep busy with his free hand and continue the work (Nehemiah 4:16–18). For every four hands, three hands defended against the enemy, and one hand did the work.
If we want to see the compounding effects of God’s work in our world, we need to have three hands holding swords and one hand doing the work. What that means for us today is in our session praying, those people who are praying continuously are holding back forces of darkness we can’t see in the spirit realm for those doing all the labor. They are clearing the roadway, if you will. Let’s say your car is stopped on an interstate because there’s a major traffic jam, but you can’t actually see what the problem is. That’s like the spirit realm. There’s a traffic jam, and the only way to clear it is through prayer because God’s angels will come and push back that darkness.
When we want to see the compounding effects of God’s work in the things we are doing, we need to assign people who are called, gifted, and equipped with prayer and have them intercede on our behalf while we are doing the work.

God’s Promises Are Yes and Amen

The Bible says God’s promises are always yes and amen.
There is no expiration date on the finished work of Jesus Christ. There is no expiration date on His hope. There is no expiration today of the work He did yesterday. It’s not a gallon of milk that in a few days will expire and curdle. It is always there. It’s always fresh, always available, and always quenching.
You can trust God and His Word. You can truly put your hope in it. There is nothing else worth putting your hope in. You can’t put your hope in doctors, medicine, your boss, your employer, or your ability to work hard. All that stuff will pass away. But God’s promises are good and will endure forever.

Self-Protected, Part 2

I want to go back to my high school story.
In high school, I self-protected big time. I didn’t let this cutie, hottie boy know I liked him even a little bit. I thought I wasn’t worthy of him, so I never let it out. I realized recently with my own girls—I have two in high school—that they and their friends self-protect.

In homeschooling and in the Christian community, we sweetly call it “guarding your heart.” We say, “Oh, guard your heart because we don’t want to let just anybody in.” But the truth is that the only way to guard your heart is to give it fully to Jesus and not give it to any man or to what people say or to whether you are accepted or rejected—if you are asked to prom or not, if you are asked to dance or not. There is no way to protect yourself outside of fully surrendering your life to Christ. It is impossible.
I see all these kids and recognize in them that though they didn’t grow up in an abusive home like I did, they are already protecting themselves. If they put themselves out there, they are extremely careful. For instance, they say, “Let’s go to prom as friends.” They are afraid to say, “Hey, I like you a little. If that’s not cool, it’s no big deal. But I do. I like you a little.” 

It’s as if they deny the natural progression of the fact that they are old enough to be married—in biblical terms, not legally, but close enough. They deny transparency. They act like they’re kind-of friends and kind-of not. They skirt around the issue to the point where they are never going to allow themselves the unchained ability to pursue because they’ve put a title on their relationship called “just friends.”
I’m looking at these youth, thinking, “Is this right?” I don’t think there is any reason to go make out and whatever, yet they won’t even say, “Hey, I spend time with you because I like you. Maybe it will be more than just being friends and hanging out.” It’s almost silent, like there’s a curse on saying it. Boys text your daughters and say, “Hey, if you don’t like me like a boyfriend, then I’m not going to text you anymore.” It’s like, “Hey, can we just be friends?” instead of “Hey, I think you’re really pretty.” Let’s be real. These kids are already protecting themselves. I find myself asking the Lord, “Teach me how to teach my girls to be real and trust You with their protection instead of always protecting themselves.

Honestly, I believe every woman’s desire is to have a marriage where she doesn’t have to be the man and she can actually be the wife. The husband is not a pansy. He is not a pushover. He is strong and gentle, kinder to her than anybody else. He would lay down his life. He will protect her. She can rest in his protection because he is a living example of Christ. He has laid down his life, and he is not going to put anything above her. I mean, that is really a woman’s strongest desire. When she feels that protection removed, she immediately starts standing in self-protective mode. Then she loses her sweet, gentle, loving qualities. You miss the best parts of her when she is in self-protecting mode.

I wish we had so much security in Christ that we would be willing to be rejected 490 times to infinity so we could be real and transparent instead of playing a game and not living real lives. Why is it so bad to be rejected if you can go lay your head on the lap of the One who accepts you?

Jesus Is

If you think God allowed something in your life, then you won’t be able to resist it. The Bible says, in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (NIV).
If you think God allowed sickness or poverty to come against you to teach you something, then, first of all, you are probably under condemnation, feeling guilty about something you did and thinking you deserve it.
Jesus Christ paid the entire price on the cross. He paid for it all. He provided everything we needed through the cross. Let me tell you this: He didn’t stay there. He was resurrected and lifted up to the right hand of the Father, where He deposited His Holy Spirit into us, and we were then lifted up to the right hand of the Father. We are positioned near the King. We are to reign in this life as kings.
But if you continue to think God is punishing you because He is mad at you and is trying to teach you a lesson through sickness, then you will not resist it. You will receive it. You will hold fast to it. You will change the way you do life. You will make accommodations for this new sickness when it’s actually from the devil.
A lot of people say, “You know, God allowed this to happen in my life.” I would say you allowed it. You didn’t resist the enemy. You passively sat by, being tossed to and fro in a wave of the sea, because you weren’t really sure: “Is this from God or not from God? I don’t want it. I don’t want my child to have it. I hate it. I am doing everything I can medically to get rid of it.” Yet, you think God allowed it in your life to help you. If you are right about that, yet you seek medical attention, then you are in complete and total rebellion, searching for a way out of what God gave you.
We can’t pray, asking and begging God to change His mind after He has given us something. The reason why we see miracles is because He is not the author of it. 
Every time sickness is referred to in the Bible, it is either a curse of the law—but Jesus Christ became cursed for us, so we’re no longer under the curses in Deuteronomy 28—or it is referred to as captivity, as in Job 42. God said, “I will release Job from his captivity” (see Job 42:10 KJV). We all know from being sick that sickness is captivity to your bed. You are unable to move to work or to do anything.
Seek God with all of your heart. Keep a pure heart before Him. Seek first His kingdom, and everything will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). He is a God who wants you to prosper, who sent His Son so you could live in this life. He sent His Holy Spirit, who has the same power that raised Christ from the dead. 

In Luke 10:19, Jesus said He gave us all the power and authority. It is the authority we need over the enemy to prevail so no harm can come near us from the enemy. We have the authority of God to use to speak to the devil and say, “Get away from me. Get out of here. I am not submitting. I am not going into captivity because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. There is freedom. I am keeping my freedom. You are not knocking me out.”
But instead, we are so unsure. Our foundation is so rocky. “Did God give this to me or not? Is He using it for my good? I’m not sure. You know, it’s confusing. This stuff is coming at me like darts from every direction. Is this good? Is this for my good? Am I being punished? I did something to deserve this. Maybe God sent it to me.” 

Those are lies. You are leaning on your own understanding rather than standing on the Word of God. In Isaiah 54:9, God said, “So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again” (NIV). Never! He is not angry. He is not a mad God. He is a good Father. “Every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17 NIV). Stop labeling what is evil as “good.” Stop it. It needs to stop, in Jesus’ name.

Wrestle with Assurance

I gave my life to Christ when I was ten years old. I was in a Baptist church, and they talked about hell and scared me to death. I did not want to burn in flames, so I thought I would buy my insurance policy and get out. I raised my hand and went down, and nothing changed.
My life was still the same. Nothing changed at all about who I was. No one taught me how to know the Lord and have intimacy with Him. I continued on the same path I was on. I kept going to church. That is what I thought knowing God was all about. I thought it was all about going to church every week, paying your tithe and serving, going to Sunday school classes, and reading your Bible—if you could understand it. 

For me, I couldn’t understand it. I wanted to read the Bible. I read it, and I was like, “What are these words? I can’t even pronounce them.” I wasn’t that great of a reader. I probably should have been in a reading class for slow readers. I didn’t want to be labeled with a disability, although I felt like I had one. I couldn’t read the Bible. I couldn’t pronounce half the names that were in it. So I continued in my life and called myself a “Christian,” but I was like I was before. Nothing had changed.
Now, the Bible says when you become a Christian, you become a new creation. I wasn’t a new creation. Was I saved or not saved? I didn’t know. I had a lot of confidence that I wasn’t going to hell. It wasn’t until later in life when I read John 17:3 that my eyes were opened. It says eternity—in my opinion, heaven—is truly knowing God. It doesn’t say eternity is a place called heaven where you will go some day after you die. Eternal life is knowing God. 

What an eye-opening moment it was. Oh my gosh! This whole time, I thought being a Christian was about going to a destination upon death. But actually, being a Christian is about a destination in your heart that begins the moment you receive Jesus as your Savior. It’s a door opening to knowing God, and knowing God brings you life. Unbelievable. I had no idea. I kind of felt betrayed, honestly, by my church and all my teachers. Like, “How did I not know this? How did I live all these years completely clueless?”

So then I started to clue in that my life was a wreck. I had broken relationships. I’d basically broken every commandment in the Bible. I was like, “I’m supposed to be a Christian, but yet, you know, I don’t even get this. I’ve done everything wrong. What in the world?” So I made a decision. “Okay, God. I don’t know what I am supposed to do to be Your child, but I do know I have to stop breaking Your commandments. I have to stop going in the opposite direction of You. I actually have to pursue You and try to find You.” I tried. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV). I started seeking God. I changed everything. I stopped going out. I stopped drinking. I stopped partying. I stopped sleeping around. I stopped everything. I started seeking God.
Unbelievably, I found Him. I started to realize He had been there all along. He was a God who would basically partner with me and be with me. He would help me shut my mouth when I needed to. He would help me do the right thing. He would be my helper and my friend.
Yet, even still, I went to church. I sought God. I started tearing through my Bible, reading the Word and asking tons of questions because I didn’t understand. See, I didn’t feel qualified to know the answers. I thought, “These people who are pastors, they went to school. They are qualified. They know the answers. They are the ones. If I could just get them to help me make sure I know God, then I will feel better about it. If I can just have that assurance.”
I found myself. I knew I was pursuing God at this point. I thought I was a Christian, but I still had this little percentage of doubt. Do you have a little percentage of doubt? That little percentage of doubt agonized me. Is this truly the right way? Is this the way?
I would take my teacher—she was a pastor and had all these young people in there— and I would ask her question after question after question. I came to realize that I can never get my assurance about being in Christ from another human being. It is impossible. They don’t know me. They don’t know my heart.

But I wanted it. I wrestled with having assurance that I was truly a Christ follower. I sought so hard. I sought man. I looked for man’s opinion. I asked pastors, “How do you know? How are you sure?” I asked the questions over and over. I drove my class insane. They were so mad at me that it ended up creating a feud. I kept asking, and I kept pursuing. It was like, “I have to know!” I have to know God has forgiven me for my past, for breaking all of His commandments.
But you know, no one ever taught me the law was for sinners, for before you received grace. Once you have received grace, you are not under the law. You are under grace. Christ became the cursed for you. God is not mad at you. I had never heard that message. I couldn’t forgive myself. I wasn’t walking in grace. I was still walking under the law. I never felt the fullness of forgiveness, so I wrestled with assurance.

Have you wrestled with being sure? Are you sure? How do you know? How can you be sure? We are going to continue this tomorrow on this blog.