Deeper Day 26: Rest and Reset

Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord.  Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.  May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.  Psalm 134

Over time, I have realized just how important it is to make deliberate time to just rest.  Time when we lay down our “to do list” and stop striving and just learn to rest.

God has been using my husband a lot lately to teach me the importance of rest and fun.  It’s amazing how having a good laugh can brighten your whole outlook on life.  Also, I’m learning that it’s so good to allow others to bless me and for me to freely receive.  It took me years to realize that instead of simply receiving goodness from Chris, I was actually trying to avoid it.  Most of the time when I was avoiding his kindness, it was because I already had an agenda in place and was working to get my tasks completed.  Now when I notice him reaching out in kindness, I stop.  It takes a deliberate action and noticing on my part, but I am learning to simply stop.  Then I acknowledge whatever kindness it is he is offering to me, and I move my heart to a posture of receiving, and then I thank him and God each time.

This may sound oversimplified, but I would wager that you too struggle with receiving sometimes.

This practice of receiving, will lead us into worshiping God.  That’s one reason it’s so important to begin learning this.

The more I notice and receive another’s kindness, the more I am drawn to worship my ever-present God.

Prayer Moment:  Today I challenge you to begin noticing simple acts of kindness from others toward you.  It may be more enlightening than you imagine it will be.  Ask God to give you an awareness of His goodness through other’s actions.  Let all of this lead you toward worship and thanksgiving.  Here is some scripture to help you meditate on God’s goodness toward you.

 

I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing Your praise.  I will bow down toward Your holy temple and will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.  When I called, You answered me; You made me bold and stouthearted.  May all the kings of the earth praise You, O Lord, when they hear the words of Your mouth.  May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.  Though the Lord is on high, He looks upon the lowly, but the proud He knows from afar.  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand You save me.  The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever- do not abandon the works of Your hands.  Psalm 138

 

Deeper Day 25: I won’t understand everything

Over and over again I repeat the following scripture to myself when things are happening, and I can’t figure them out….

My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.  Psalm 131

Once I stopped trying to figure out everything and just became content to trust God with childlike faith, an immense burden lifted off me.  I think one of the greatest stumbling blocks for many believers is the desire to define every single thing.  Life doesn’t work that way.  God is so far beyond our comprehension how can we expect to know it all?

His ways are not my ways.  His thoughts are not my thoughts.  The God Who was and is and is to come, He is the God I serve.

Today’s devotional is short, mainly because it should be.  It’s a simple, yet profound thought….I can’t and will never know it all.

Prayer Moment:  Take a moment and release yourself to have childlike faith.  Search your heart.  Are there things you are begrudgingly holding onto because you are determined to figure it all out?  Have you grown angry and discontent with God because He hasn’t shown every detail?  Take a minute and imagine holding all those things in your hand.  Now, open you hand and imagine letting it all go.  Repent to God for holding onto what was never meant to be held and ask Him to help you follow Him with the childlike faith He desires.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways”, declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

He called a little child to Him and placed the child among them.  And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:2-4

Deeper Day 24: Good Plans From a Good God

There is a portion of Jeremiah that I cling to with all my heart, I did not know for a long time that it was a controversial subject.  I was so shocked to discover that there are those who devote themselves to “educating” believers that the words of Jeremiah are not a promise for today.

Here’s my problem with that….Those same people are the ones who teach their children to sing the song that says, “Every promise in the Book is mine.  Every chapter, every verse, every line…..”

This is what I ask myself, “Is this verse in line with God’s character?”  Yes.  “Is there any reason God would withhold this particular facet of His love from me/us today?”  No.

All that being said, Jeremiah 29 is a staple during my walk out of the shade.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12

When life is tough and I feel the cards are stacked against me, I remind myself that God is good, and He does have a good plan and purpose for me.  I remember that, while God may not be causing this trouble we’re having, He can and will use it to mature me and strengthen my relationship with Him.  He doesn’t waste a thing.

If my foundation is set upon knowing that God is good and working toward my good, then what do I have to fear?  I have freedom to walk out the day to day circumstances that arise, all the while knowing that it’s part of what God will use to mold me into the woman He created me to be.  It’s also giving me the strength for the things He’ll have me do in the future.

The bottom line is, it’s all really about trust.  Do I trust God or not?

I choose trust.

Prayer Moment:  Check your heart and make sure you fully know that God does indeed have a good and purposeful plan for your life.  Nothing is wasted.  Will you give Him permission to use anything and everything in your life to draw you into and strengthen you for that purpose, or will you fight Him and be angry with Him the whole time?  Consider this and then simply tell God if you are willing.

 

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed His name, the Lord.  And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.  Exodus 34:5-7a

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him.  Matthew 7:11

Deeper Day 23: Living Through the Spirit

Here is yet another principle that has been soaking into my heart during this season.  I am a soul (that includes my mind, will and emotions), I have a body and a spirit.  So, when I remember the verse that states, “the spirit is willing, but the body is weak”, lately I can literally feel the tug of war between my soul and spirit.  My soul often says to me, “We’re never going to make it through this.  I’m so sad.  I feel defeated.”  But my spirit says, “I trust You God.  I know You have always made a way for me and you won’t stop now.”

Several nights I have woken up into a vision and have seen my soul rocking in the fetal position saying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” in desperation.  When this happens, I acknowledge the level of discomfort in my life and then I tell my soul, “I understand, but we’re going to listen to my spirit right now.”  It may sound completely crazy to you, but every single time I do this, whatever discomfort I may be feeling at the time, immediately lifts off me and I feel peace.

After practicing this over the span of several weeks, I’ve come to a much more settled and peaceful place. What it made me realize is I don’t have to deny my soul’s fears and discomforts, but I can acknowledge them and then defer to my spirit, which is connected to the Father and lives wrapped in peace and the ultimate knowledge of Who God is and what He can/will do.

Now, I know this may feel like a stretch for some of you, but I challenge you to just try it.  Ask God to begin to show you the difference between your soul (mind, will and emotions) and your spirit.  Then, if you’re feeling something that seems so real, but you know isn’t wrapped in truth and peace, acknowledge it and then ask your spirit to take over.  I promise it will be life changing.

Prayer Moment:  If you are currently walking out a challenging time, ask God to reveal His truth to you.  Begin to practice this method of acknowledgment and deferring to your spirit.  If you are saved, then Christ lives in you.  Your spirit is directly connected to Him.  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather walk in the spirit and not the flesh.

Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with Me.”  Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as You will.”  Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping.  “Could you men not keep watch with Me for one hour?” He asked Peter.  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”  Matthew 26:36-41

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.  Romans 8:6-11

Deeper Day 22: Perfect Peace

Another principle, that keeps rolling around my mind like a marble, is based on these verses:

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.  Isaiah 26:3-4

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.  My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.  Isaiah 32:17-18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

I am afforded perfect peace, but the way to remain in that place is through trust and righteousness and going to God with my requests and thanksgiving.

These are also common verses, but nonetheless are so very true.  In moments when I’ve felt my peace being pulled off me, like a blanket thief in the night, I will cover myself with these promises again and again until I find that peace returning and warming my soul.

Walking out a life of victory and peace is not something that happens by accident.  No, it’s something that we must do on purpose.  One word that I can’t escape lately is, “Intentional”.  I think about it all the time and practice it in every facet of my life.  I am intentionally walking out a life of perfect peace while we are currently unemployed and waiting for God to open doors for us, and God is noticing.  Several times lately, He’s told me to stop and turn to Him and let Him tell me just how very proud He is of me.  He’s proud that I’m not wasting away and living a life crippled with fear.  He’s proud that I am continuing to minister in my time of great need.  He’s proud that we are still giving during a time when we need to receive.  He knows.  He sees.  It matters.

I may not be piling up earthly treasure right now, but I sure am filling my heavenly storehouses.

Prayer Moment:  Are you holding onto peace in your own life?  What do the words you speak release into your life and the lives of others?  Are you speaking fear?  Are you speaking defeat?  Or are you partnering with the God of the Universe?  There is no place you could go that His Peace cannot hold you perfectly.  Will you let Him?

 

Deeper Day 21: Conqueror

I am a conqueror.  I believe this with my whole heart, and I tell myself this all the time.  When I face things that are unknown, painful, or scary I remind my heart that I am more than a conqueror because of Christ Who lives within me.  I know the words, “We are more than conquerors” have become so overused in religious circles that maybe we don’t fully absorb the truth in the statement anymore, but that doesn’t make it any less true.  This was the first truth that God led me to as I “ran out of the shade”.  So, this is where we will start.

The truth is, there is no battle that we will ever face during our lives that God has not already placed a path to victory within. The problem sometimes lies in the fact that we have earthly minds and hearts and can miss the true victories tucked within a circumstance.

So, my first encouragement for you is to look for the victories.

You are more than a conqueror.  You are set up to win.  So, whatever it is you are facing or going through, look for a victory every day.  Ask God to open your spiritual eyes to see the many different victories that have already been built into your history.  Some say we should never look back, and only focus on today and the future.  I say, look back when you need to remember the goodness of God in any given moment.  I also say, look back if you are currently experiencing an unexpected or recurring place of pain in your heart and you can’t seem to find your way out of it.  The answer is probably connected to an unresolved pain of the past.  Use your past as a tool to unlock your future, not as an excuse to stay where you are.

I was unable to walk out much victory in my personal life, until I revisited past hurts and allowed God’s truth to be spoken and to shatter the lies I’d built my life upon.

Prayer Moment:  Search out victories in today.  I encourage you to take time this morning and ask God to reveal to your heart and mind the many victories you’ve experienced in your life thus far.  No matter how small or large they are, each one matters.  If you build a house of rocks, in the end the size of each rock is irrelevant, but if one is removed it will leave an obvious hole that must be filled.  Likewise, any and all victories should be counted, remembered and meditated upon to build up your strength to fight another day.

 

What then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all- how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns?  Christ Jesus, who died- more than that, who was raised to life- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  Romans 8:31-37

Deeper Day 20: Throwing Shade

While running at the track the other day, I was spending time with God like normal.  At one point when I was practicing some intentional time just listening to Him, I saw (in my spirit) a large shadow that had stretched over me and I heard (in my heart) “Throwing Shade”.  In that moment God began to show me why the past several days had been so very hard for me emotionally.  Before this moment I couldn’t explain why I had been feeling so down, defeated and alone.  I had been feeling like I was stuck in a dark spot and had no traction to get myself out, and that’s just not the way I usually feel.  Years ago, God set me free from depression.  I mean, I literally felt and saw the cloud of depression lift off me and go away and I’ve been different ever since.  Because of that amazing moment, I refuse to allow depression any foothold in my life or the life of my family.  We don’t even use the word “depressed”.  If any of my kids try to even joke about being depressed, I cut it off immediately because I know how real and oppressive it is.  Which brings me back to the other day…..

I realized that what I had been feeling was a lot like depression, and I was fighting tooth and nail to be free.  So, when God showed me that cloud and spoke those words it was clear that this was an attack of the enemy.

He said, “The enemy is throwing shade at you, so come out into the Light.”  In that instance, I saw myself run right out from underneath the cloud and I saw a bright light wash over my face.  Instead of looking away because of the brightness, I turned directly toward it and refused to look away.  This is something we have to learn to do intentionally because we are told all our lives not to look directly into the sun otherwise, we will go blind.  So, it seems natural to turn your head (and heart) away from something so bright, but what I’ve discovered about the Son is this, if I look directly at Him, then I go blind to all the deceptions and tricks and lies of the enemy.  The way God works is so fun!  I just love it.

As a result of this recent encounter, I have determined to fill my mind with solid truths to combat the enemy throwing shade at me…..So, the next several days I will be highlighting a different Biblical truth each day.  I hope this will also help you walk directly into the Light.

Prayer Moment:  If you do or have struggled with depression, be encouraged today God can and will deliver you from that cloud.  First, be honest with God today about how you are feeling and invite Him to pull you out of the darkness and into His glorious Light!  I pray the next few days leaves you feeling more encouraged and confident than ever.  Let’s do this!

 

This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you:  God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.  1 John 1:5-7

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles- the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.  Matthew 4:15-16