Staying Focused on Jesus

As we go through our day-to-day business we can many times take our eyes off of Jesus.  We get so focused on work, family, social issues, health issues, the list is long.  It is nothing to feel ashamed of, or frustrated about.  What I have learned as I grow stronger in my walk with Christ, is the discovery of  new ways to bring my focus back to where it belongs.

We can all face struggles and hardships that can seem so overwhelming, but in the middle of what seems the darkest place in your life there is hope, love and joy.  I have learned this so well over the years and I am still learning.  But as I take each day I have learned that they are always better when I take time to look up instead of focusing completely on the things that are coming at me.

When we focus on the things we hear on the news, social media, personal struggles, illness, etc. we can begin to lose focus on Jesus.  Take time in the middle of your day, to just stop and thank God that you are alive, that you have a place to live, a job or anything else.  Breathe deep and just look up at the beauty in the sky, ponder on how God makes clouds so that they float and don’t drop to the earth.  Look at how the mountains and the trees stand tall to worship our Lord Jesus.  We should be doing that as well.  You will feel and see a difference as it takes you off of the things around you.  It breaks through the lies that you may be believing.

 

Walking with Christ

I had a very interesting morning, just conversing with God, and pondering what walking with Christ looks like to me.  I look back and I can see the progress that I have made over the years as I changed from the inside out.  But I also realize that there is always constant growth and change that happens within us as we ponder the word of God.  It never fails to amaze me as new things are highlighted to me each year as I read my bible.  As I gain new insights from my local church Pastor to other teachings I listen to as I hunger to know my Heavenly Father so much more.  But with that hunger is also a hunger to share what I know with others.  My heart is for the world to come to know the Heavenly Father that I have come to know.

As I was reflecting this morning I recognized areas in my life that I had released offenses, but I also realized that I was still holding on to other offenses such as ones with my husband.  At that moment it was like WOW I have been believing that I am good in this department, when I still have work to do in it.  Holy Spirit was so kind as it was highlighted to me and I had a heart change in that moment.  I found repentance in my heart and prayed for the offenses to be removed and given to Jesus and for a new profound love to replace it, that is new every day and just becomes more and more profound, just as the love of Christ for me.

As each of us grow in our walk with Christ, we should be releasing our old natures.  So many times as humans we say oh “that is just the way I am”, “I can’t change”, or we just live by our emotions rather than by the Spirit leading us.  But we are reminded in Ephesians 2:4-7 that we were dead because of our sin, but we were given life when Christ was raised from the dead, for we were raised from the dead along with Christ and seated with Christ in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.  These are powerful words to me and they should be to you as well.  When we live by our emotions and the flesh then we are still living in sin.  We have been given new life and we are now seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.  We walk by the leading of the Spirit over our Soul and Body.  We no, longer should be walking by our Soul or Body leading us.

That is all part of the growing process as it says in 1 Peter 2:2 that we crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it we may grow up in our salvation.  The key word is grow up in our salvation, that means that it is a continual process a weeding out of the old rotten weeds of anger, resentment, offenses, bitterness, unforgiveness, to name a few.  In the word it says that God is the potter and we are the clay.  Clay is shaped and molded into something beautiful.  That is exactly what our Heavenly Father is doing with us as we grow spiritually.  I call Jesus the roundup that destroys the weeds that are in me.  Holy Spirit highlights them to me and I surrender them to Jesus.  For yes they have to bow down to Jesus the name above all names.

It does not make us weak to release the ugliness of the world, of our old nature.  NO! We are stronger, because we have Christ in us and that gives us the supernatural ability to be strong enough.  To release our old nature and to become new in Christ Jesus.  It does not happen over night, but it is a process that happens every day of our lives.  But the first step is always coming into relationship with the Father.  The next step is always allowing Holy Spirit to come in and point out the things that are causing you to fall short, the lies that you are believing about yourself and others.  That process of pruning out the old to make way for the new healthy vines to grow is tough at times, and easy at other times.

What I am learning is that when we go through our toughest struggles is when we can discover the most about ourselves and grow exponentially.  For me it allows me to dig deep and to become more self-aware of the areas I am falling short.  I don’t get angry about it when I realize these things, no my heart wants to repent and I ask Papa to forgive me for the known and unknown agreements that I have made.  I surrender it to Jesus who carried it to the cross.  I then embrace the new or upgrade that happens in me.  It is like I am cleansed from within as I release the old and allow the new to takes it rightful place.

I learn not to seek hope and joy from the world around me, or even the people around me, but instead from Heaven above.  Yes think of the joy and hope knowing that I am already seated in the Heavenly realm with Jesus.  Wow, that is something to celebrate.  But that is not just for me but for you as well.  God chose us and wants us.  Remember he leaves the 99 for the 1.  Father God is always trying to bring the one back into his loving arms.

In this walk with Christ we are always growing.  We should not be staying the same, but we should be becoming mature in Christ.  I was a child for so long because I did not grasp this and I failed to seek and to know Christ.  But now I run as fast as I can to know more and to grow.  I want to be the torch that carries the light of Christ to others.  But that does not happen when we carry our old nature with us.  If we continue to carry bitterness and hate, or to look down on others we miss the mark.  Walking with Christ and being a torch requires growth and depth to who we are.  It requires us to weed out the ugly and to replace it with the love of Christ.  We learn to be merciful and to shower grace upon others.  We become compassionate to the plight of our fellow-man, and love them and lift them up.  We desire to serve others rather than to be served.  We humble ourselves before God and before others.

To be a torch means that you are always seeking the Lord, you are always looking inside so that you can grow.  The soil of your heart has to change, and to become fertile with the word of God.  Having a heart that is filled with God’s love is what carries a torch.  The light of Christ can put out the darkness on whatever it shines on.  I want to be the torch to snuff out the darkness of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.  My desire is to see revival come alive and for the light of Christ to shine on everyone.  I want to see salvation come to billions across this world.  Let’s all be the torch that we were created to be and not be afraid to walk in the light of Christ.  Together we can illuminate the world with the Love and Light of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.

 

Spiritual Growth in the Midst of Struggle

As I traverse a very challenging season of my life I am learning new things of myself and growing spiritually.  You see my Mother has Dementia and I have been on a journey that I would never have imagined a year ago.  But I have trusted in God and listened to that small voice as I watch in amazement at Gods hand in all of this.  So many times we see struggles in our life as just that a struggle.  We sometimes blame it on attacks of the enemy and yes that can be part of it, but most times we fail to realize that God is working in the good and the bad times.  It is in these seasons of struggle that we can grow the most and discover things about ourselves and also become the masterpiece that God created.

We will all face struggles and roadblocks at different times of our lives.  But we can grow closer to Father God during those times.  It is also a time of realizing the things in our selves that we must surrender to Jesus.  It can be extremely easy to place self-protection in your life, but as you do this you develop strongholds.  What I have learned is that many times we do not realize the strongholds that have developed in us.  Self protection can create pride, callousness, control, anger, to name a few.  The list can go on and on, but in the struggles we face choices because we have free will.  We can choose to focus on the struggle at hand or we can focus on God in the midst of the struggle.

I have chosen to face the struggle before me and include God in the middle of it.  For I can not do this journey alone, but I have the strength through Christ.  I am reminded of the journey that Joseph went through so that God could use him for greater things.  Joseph saw visions of things to come which made his brothers jealous.  They sold him into slavery, which I am sure was terrible.  But Joseph grew spiritually keeping his eyes on God in the midst of the struggle that he was in.  Joseph trusted God and knew that both the good and bad God the creator is in the middle of.   Joseph leaned into God during the times he was in slavery, and locked up.  Through that process God was able to mold Joseph into what he was created to do.  We then see how Joseph modeled forgiveness, grace and mercy with his brothers when they come to Egypt looking for food.  If anger would have been the driving force in Joseph’s life he would have locked them up or even something much worse, but no he shows forgiveness to them.  But he even takes it a step further and shows grace and mercy on them by showering them in kindness when they did not deserve it. Just as God does for each of us.

In this current season I have seen God doing amazing things in my life.  In the middle of legal struggles just to get guardianship of my Mother, God made the impossible possible.  I took all of my pain and struggles to the Father and I then would watch him bring peace in the middle of the chaos.  I would see people come into agreement that were fighting against me.  But I made the mistake of thinking that the battle was over after I moved my mother in with my husband and I.  That was a mistake, but I am now learning new things about myself in this process.

At first I was feeling overwhelmed and like the weight of the world was crashing in on me, everything seemed hopeless.  But I did the one thing that I know the best and I cried out to God, I told Papa how I was feeling.  What I realized is that as soon as I brought those feelings of foreboding into the light there was new peace in my heart.  One moment I felt like I was hanging onto the boat and ready to fall into a dark empty void, but when I spoke it out there was Jesus grabbing my hand and pulling me back in the boat.  I was not alone even though at that moment I was feeling completely alone.

This struggle with my Mothers Dementia is hard, and it will get harder, but God is revealing strongholds I have in my life through this process.  Years ago I learned about forgiveness so that I would even be able to open my home to my mother in such a time as this.  But now as I face frustration after frustration, I am realizing that I was carrying anger and control issues with me.  This has taken me on a journey of surrendering those to Jesus and I am finding new freedom in this process.  No it is not a complete one step process, but when you go to Gods word and you fill your heart and mind with worship for Father God, changes begin to happen.  As you verbally speak out and surrender your imperfections to Jesus you begin to feel lighter.  You begin to see your best friend Jesus there wanting to lighten the load for you.

When I told God I could not do this any longer and that I needed to know whether to move my Mother into a Memory care facility, I waited for an answer.  Then suddenly I am offered 15 hours a week for her to go to Adult Daycare and I hear Papa saying, “I heard you and this is what I have done for you”.   I had been waiting for the voice to say yes keep her in the home or no move her, instead Father God blessed me with time.

So as I am learning to embrace the struggles, I am growing closer to Father God.  I am reminded that he is the creator of all things.  I was created for something greater and I believe that this moment in this season God is preparing me for the greater things he wants to do through me in the next season.  Disease and illness is not from God, it is because we live in a fallen world.  I know that God did not cause my Mother to get Dementia.  I know that in this season she had clarity from God, so I could lead her to salvation.  I know that God is showing me the strongholds that need to be removed from my life. and I am learning not to make agreements with familiar spirits.

No matter the struggle that you face, God has given you everything you need for that moment.  For you have Christ in you when you are a believer and follower of Christ.  We have Christ in us!  Remember Jesus is the name above all names, so that means that fear, anger, judgement have to bow to Jesus.  Break off agreements you have made with the lies of the enemy and embrace the new being you have been created to be.  Feel the freedom of having the chains of slavery break away.  To have the inner walls torn down so that you can be covered by the love of God that is a shield of protection.  God has prepared a fortress for each of us, the walls are the love of God and that fortress is built on a solid rock of Jesus Christ.  We do not fight from a place of defeat, no Jesus has won the battle so take up the spiritual battle that is all around you.  Fight from the place of victory that we are in with Jesus.  We stand strong we do not retreat, instead we push the enemy back and we laugh in the face of our enemy.

Stand strong my fellow Christians, embrace your struggles and grow.  Allow Holy Spirit to identify and remove the strongholds of your life.  Jesus sent Holy Spirit to be our teacher, to provide wisdom and knowledge to us.  Seek and you will find the answers, they just might be different from what you were looking for.  In the end Gods way is always so much better than our way.