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.

Letting God Fight Our Battles

I have been on a life changing journey over the last several weeks.  My Mother has dementia, and I am now responsible for her.  In that there have been trials and false accusations made against me from her boyfriend.  If it were not for my faith in God, and leaning into that immense love that God covers us in I would not be walking in peace during this time.   In fact my walk with Christ has grown even stronger and I have learned so much as I read in Samuel about the journey that David endured.

I have come to realize that anyone can face the same issues that David had to deal with thousands of years ago, but there is so much that can be learned.  I have come to realize how someone can have strong faith in God, yet that they can still be crying out because of what is happening around them trying to destroy their faith.  I can tell you that when you lean into Father God rather than trying to do everything on your own, God’s glory will shine even in the darkest moments that you are facing.  When you are going to Gods word and calling out to God in your struggles, you will find a strength that can only come from Christ in you.

David had false accusations made about him when King Saul was pursuing him.  Think of the pain and agony that David felt when someone he held great respect for was accusing him of wanting to kill him.  Yet David showed great control when twice King Saul was in his grasp and David could have killed him, but no he just let him know that his life had been sparred, and he showed a great love for King Saul in those moments.  Many of us can at times in our lives become falsely accused of things.  We know the truth, but the accuser does not and will not listen to reason.  Just as David did you may have to stop trying to confront your accuser and instead pray for your accuser, show love and respect to the person, even though you may be having a struggle deep inside.

I have learned so much from reading about what David did as well as Jesus.  When they faced trials and false accusations they did not confront the accuser.  No they turned to God and they poured out everything that they were feeling and the truth of what they knew of Father God.  As I have applied this to my own life, I have seen a deeper spiritual growth and I have learned so much more about the love of Father God.

Many times I have found myself deep in my bible.  God has shown me and reminded me of the things that I already knew but in my moments of weakness I was drawn into the Psalms, Samuel and even Proverbs.  I have seen an inner strength that I never realized I had, and I account this to Christ in me.  Just as Philippians says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Before the last 6 weeks I thought I understood this, but I have come to realize it is something beyond anything I ever thought.  As I felt I would break emotionally, I continually found myself seeking God.  Over and over I have seen God make a way for things that were seeming impossible because of what was being said or done by others.

When I felt completely defeated and ready to thrown in the towel, I have been refreshed by the living water that Jesus provides.  I can attribute it to nothing else, for there is no human explanation for how I was transformed.  We have a wonderful and powerful God, and he covers us in a shield of love that protects us from the fiery darts that can come flying at us.  It empowers us to not take offense at things that are said or done against us.

I have been reminded time and again what it says in Ephesians 6, For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  That is right even when it seems our battle is the person or persons in front of us, it is really not.  We are to love our enemies, and that can be hard, but when I have shown love to my enemy and I prayed blessings over them, I have seen God do amazing things that go against what the person was saying they would do.

So my fellow Christians you need to put on your armor everyday, seek the Lord in all things great or small, easy or difficult.  Then take your battle to the heavenlies and call on the Great I AM to come and fight with you.  We do not win battles we face with words, no we win the battles by taking it to God, calling on God to fight for you because of his great love for you.  In Ephesians 4:2-4 we are reminded to always be humble and gentle.  To be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.  Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

This is how I have learned to walk out each day and I have seen a change in the environment.  When I turned away from confronting my accuser, and praying for him to be released from any evil spirits there was a shift in the atmosphere.  I can only give the credit to God the Father.  Father God loves me and he loves you.  Papa wants to bless us with what we want.  Remember God knows what we are feeling and our heart, just as well as he knows the heart of the others you know.  Seek God first and trust God with the outcome even if it seems different from what you wanted or imagined.

For I can say that God’s way is so much better than my way.  It may seem strange and confusing at times, but God will never abandon you, not even in your darkest moments.  No instead God will cover you in love, you will find the peace that only Jesus can bring in the middle of a storm.  For the storm may be all around you, but where the boat is sitting the storm is calmed.  The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want, he leads me beside still waters and lays me down in green pastures.  This is a Father that protects you, brings calmness to you, and covers you in abundant love.

In Ephesians 3 Paul talks of the unlimited resources that we will be empowered with.  That is inner strength through his spirit.  Christ will make a home in your heart and your roots will grow down deep into God’s love and this is what keeps you strong.  You gain insight , understanding and knowledge as you grow closer to Father God and you discover a love that is greater than you can imagine.

 

God is on our Side

I am sure that everyone has at one time or another thought God had abandoned them or that God was against them. But I want to reveal to you what Psalm 46 really says about God. I was reading The Passion Translation and although it is poetic it is so powerful with truth.

    God is a safe and powerful place to find refuge

        Yep when you rest in Gods presence you are wrapped in loving arms, it is like a blanket or a cocoon that shields and protects what is within. There is so much safety and it is a place of refuge from the world that is coming against you. Refuge is that place that someone goes to get away from something terrible that is coming after them. They go to that place that they know they are protected. That is exactly what happens when you rest in the presence of the Lord. You are shielded from the fiery darts of lies for nothing can penetrate the shield that the love of God creates. We are reminded that God is a proven help in times of trouble. I don’t know about you, but time and again God has shown up and proven that he is with me fighting my battles. God is a mighty fortress that is built upon the strongest rock Jesus. Just take a moment to close your eyes and picture a fortress built high upon a cliff that is hard to reach. The walls are built of rock and stone, the waves of the oceans below can not reach it and there is a mighty mountain range that must be traversed to even reach this fortress. I can see it sitting high in the heavens, with me safely inside, walking the halls with my beloved Jesus.

    So we will never fear

        I know that is hard to swallow at times, but fear is just a bully that is trying to convince you that he is mightier than Jesus. Well I know that Jesus is the name above all names, and that nothing can conquer the name of Jesus. My friends stand with your hands locked with Jesus and know that fear has no power or authority over you. For you are joint heirs with Jesus and you have power and authority over fear. Stand strong in your fortress that God has provided and yell down at fear “YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME”. The reality is that fear is just a small little ant that is going to be crushed by the sea below your mighty fortress. It is our FAITH that keeps us strong when fear tries to stop us in our tracks. In Psalm 46:2-3 says So we will never fear even if every structure of support were to crumble away. We will not fear even when the earth quakes and shakes, moving mountains and casting them into the sea. For the raging roar of stormy winds and crashing waves cannot erode our faith in you. To me those are some of the most beautiful words. It does not matter how strong and mighty the things in your life are they cannot erode your faith in the Lord.

    God has a constantly flowing river whose sparkling streams bring joy and delight to his people.

        That is right the living water that comes from God is powerful and it is filled with love, that fills his children with hope, joy and happiness, in the middle of whatever they are struggling with. That living water brings life and a power that is unshakeable for it flows through the city of God Most High and pours out upon us. God sits high in the midst of this city, secure and never shaken. For all God has to do is raise his voice and the earth disintegrates before him. I see a picture of his voice floating out and the mountains are crashing down, the storms are clearing and in its place are lush valleys full of abundance that can only come from God. The dark skies are made light and are shining with the Glory of God as a new day dawns before you. For remember God is the Commander. The mighty Lord of Angel Armies is on our side. The God of Jacob is fighting for you and for me.

    

The Glory of God

I was reflecting last night as I was conversing with God. I was thinking about Gideon who told the angel of the Lord, My clan is the weakest of the whole tribe of Manasseh. But he did not stop there for than he said I am the least of my family. Right there in that moment you have a clear picture of how Gideon sees himself and his clan. Weak and powerless!

Many times as we go through life we may feel that we are the least of our family or the group that we are in. But the truth is that God always uses the least to reveal his Glory. Gideon thought of himself as the lowest person around. He does not sound like he has much confidence in himself.

But when Gideon questions the angel he is told “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” See God can always use the least to reveal his Glory. For if God sent the mightiest they would think it was there own power that helped them to succeed. That would end up glorifying themselves instead of glorifying God.

I really like how even though he had doubts, Gideon stepped out in faith. What does he do but fix an offering for the Lord. Then he returns with the offering and presents it to the angel. The angel told him how to place it on the rock and then fire consumed the offering.

Is God calling you to be a warrior for those around you? Maybe people are being bullied at school, or an elderly person is being mistreated. It could be any number of things. Don’t miss the moment when God will show up and ask you to step out in faith.

Just as Gideon was used to glorify God, as the people of Israel we’re being rescued. God can use you. God will make the weak strong so that the goodness and glory of God can be revealed. Stop focusing on your weaknesses and instead focus on God and what he is asking you to do.

Trust that when God is with you there will be success for we have a God that makes the impossible possible.

Jesus Paid the Price

Our beloved Jesus paid the ultimate price for our salvation. It is hard for our human minds to truly grasp the magnitude of the love Jesus had for us that he would be sacrificed so that you and I could gain freedom. That freedom was freely given by our beloved Jesus. At any moment Jesus could have called upon the angels and they would have rescued him, but no he kept his eyes focused on the freedom that his sacrifice would bring.

Jesus was a ransom that God paid to save us from the empty life that we inherit here on earth. The price that was paid for us was more valuable than anything of value here on earth. Things such as gold and silver can lose their value over time, but the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God never loses its value. God loves us so much that he chose Jesus to be the ransom long before the world began. Stop for a moment and think of what that really means.

Before creation had even happened God thought of you and I. God knew that we would fall away, but God had a plan to bring his beloved children back to him. The love that God has for us is so vast and immense that you could never fill a vessel with it. That love is greater than the universe.

Think of what Jesus went through so that we could have everlasting life. Jesus suffered mockery, ridicule and torture beyond imagine. Jesus lived that perfect, sinless life listening to Father God to guide him in all things. Jesus was the perfect, first-born, lamb that was led to the slaughter for all our sins. In those days you had to have a lamb that had no imperfections sacrificed during the Passover.

Our wonderful Lord Jesus had a crown of thorns crushed upon his head, drawing blood as the thorns dug into his head and brow. I can see the droplets of blood running into his eyes, but he endured on. He did not lash out in anger, as he was mocked by the guards. He did not take his eyes off the prize even after he was offered up as a sacrifice. It would have been so easy for him to say Father crush my enemies. But no, instead he remained quiet and endured for us.

Even after the mockery from the guards Jesus had to endure being lashed with a leather whip embedded with metal. Historians have recorded that many that were beaten this way never survived. But Jesus our Lord was not a common man and he endured keeping his eyes on us the beloved prize. If only you can imagine being whipped with something that would cut all the way to the bone. It was known to tear through the flesh, ripping a body, revealing internal organs. Yeah, that is what they used on our beloved Jesus. His body was cut and ripped apart by this terrible leather whip. Jesus did not have welts, no he literally was ripped open with every lash of the whip, having flesh tore from his body, cutting deep into his flesh and bone.

As if that was not enough, than Jesus was forced to carry the cross that he would die upon. Picture our Lord Jesus, beaten, bleeding and then struggling to carry that big heavy cross so that we would not have to. All the while he kept his eyes focused on the love he had for us. The love to bring us into salvation and freedom in our faith of knowing Jesus.

Did you know that Jesus was sacrificed on the same day that the Passover lambs were sacrificed? Back in those days the Priests extended the time for killing the lambs that were brought, so that it was from noon until twilight. These hours coincide with when Jesus was on the cross.

I hope that you can see just how much love Jesus and the Father have for us the beloved children. Even in his body that was destroyed he trusted the Father and knew that he had to finish the task at hand to bring freedom and life. The life that we receive when we believe and have faith in Jesus is greater than any life here on earth. The life of salvation is a gift that is freely given to us through grace and mercy that the Father poured down upon us.

What a love that Jesus had for every one of us. That is such a reckless and wild love that endured to win us back. We no longer have to live in the power of sin, for when we walk with Jesus sin loses its power over us. We are no longer enslaved under the power and authority of sin. The blood of Christ has washed us clean, making us righteous in the eyes of the Father.

Father God gave Moses the law but that could not save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. Yes, as humans we have a sinful nature. But God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Romans 8 reveals so much about Gods love for us.

As we are heading toward Palm Sunday and Easter just think about how strong Gods love is for us. Think about how much Jesus loves us that he suffered so that we could be free, that we could be healed. Take time to thank Jesus for the suffering he endured to bring you into the glorious gift of salvation, that was freely given. There is nothing that we can do to earn our salvation and we surely don’t deserve salvation, but Jesus has given us salvation through GRACE and MERCY.

Thank you Jesus for the love you have for us that you freely gave your life for us. The love you have for us is greater than anything we can ever imagine. It is an endless love that is never-ending. Jesus you are our hero.