bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

A Promise of Triumph

The Lord will march out like 
a champion,like a warrior he 
will stir up his zeal;with a shout 
he will raise the battle cry 
and will triumph over his enemies.
Isaiah 42:13

Like you, I’ve dealt with a lot of difficult people throughout my life.  Whether it was at work, my children’s school, youth sports, or even my church, I encountered people who just wanted to be adversarial.  And I am certain I was someone’s “difficult person” at one time or another.  But I think the most painful experiences surrounding adversaries are when they are part of our family.

I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day about our two families.  We both struggle with difficult parent situations.  One day she and her sister had a heart to heart about a disagreement from a few weeks prior.  With my Christian friend’s kind and gentle approach she spurred the revelation that they had become their parents.  Each sister taking on the personality and fighting style of one of their parents.  That revelation started a healing process in both of them.  Truly a small victory.

In my own life I have transitioned through the stages of grief when it comes to my relationship with my parents.  I denied there was a real problem in my family.  When I finally recognized the problems, I became angry and fought constantly with my mother – trying to change her.  I even had my own way of bargaining to try and create a Hallmark-style mother-daughter relationship.  I would do things for her to help her see what a good person I really was.  But my expectations and hopes were always dashed.  I became depressed for awhile when I realized we would never be a family that loved being together. I just wanted to untie myself from my parents and let them go adrift.  All of this was before I finally surrendered.  I raised my white flag.  But not to any human.  To God.

But thanks be to God, who in 
Christ always leads us in 
triumphal procession, and 
through us spreads the fragrance 
of the knowledge of him everywhere.
2 Corinthians 2:14

Paul wrote this to the church of Corinth during a very difficult time for him and his relationship with this church.  They were angry with him for changing his plans about visiting.  Some had started false preaching about him behind his back.  And, as Warren Wiersbe states, “When Christians misunderstand each other the wounds can be very deep.”  Isn’t that true of our families as well?

During the last few years, I have experienced that Christ-given “fragrance of knowledge of Him.”  And as I have done so, I finally had to experience that last stage of grief – acceptance.  For us Christians that acceptance comes, more importantly, with forgiveness.  I stopped trying to change the situation by myself.  And I started to rely on God to handle the situation with my parents.  I hold on to the truth of who loves me for all eternity. And I’m learning how to stay tied to my parents without feelings of hurt and anger. As I spoke of this with my friend she announced very boldly, “And now you have VICTORY!” you should rather turn 
to forgive and comfort him, 
or he may be overwhelmed by 
excessive sorrow. So I beg 
you to reaffirm your love for him. 
For this is why I wrote, 
that I might test you and know 
whether you are obedient in 
everything. 10 Anyone whom you 
forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, 
what I have forgiven, if I have 
forgiven anything, has been for 
your sake in the presence of Christ, 
11 so that we would not be 
outwitted by Satan; for we are 
not ignorant of his designs.
2 Corinthians 2:7-11

I forgave my parents for not being able to provide me with what I was looking for in a relationship.  I realized they had never been the recipients of overwhelming love.  I stopped being angry and instead became thankful for the life which God has blessed me – a loving family of my own.  Had I given up at any of the other 4 steps of grief surely Satan would have won.  But like Paul, I am no longer ignorant of the devil’s designs.  

Thanks be to God for the triumph He has promised us. We can hold fast knowing that, not only will He have victory over those who would do us harm, but also over our own souls which get injured and hurt by the world.  We can have victory because the Spirit of God rests in us.

christian encouragement

Clean Feet

Did you realize that Jesus, in the upper room before His death, cleansed all the disciples’ feet.  By all I mean even Judas’ – the betrayer.  Jesus, however, made it clear that not all of the disciples had been cleansed. “Those who have had a bath (cleansing of the spirit) need only to wash their feet (to remove the sins of the world from them); their whole body is clean.  And, you are clean, though not every one of you.” John 13:10.  When Judas left the room with clean feet that’s all he had, clean feet.  Feet that would then be sullied the minute he walked out into the world.

By all accounts Judas seemed like a loyal follower in the eyes of the other disciples. He had all the same benefits of following in the Lord’s footsteps.  The same teachings.  The same experiences with miracles and blessings.  But he never surrendered his life over to Jesus.  He kept one or even one and half of his feet in the world and with the devil.  He mistrusted God’s Word.  He thought he knew better.  He lived in fear of what the world would do to him if he fully submitted to Jesus.  

Contrast that with Peter.  I realized today that Peter is the “Martha” of the disciples.  Always headstrong and trying to control each situation.  He also thought he knew better.  However, in his heart he loved and trusted the Lord.  He accepted admonishment and the teachings of Jesus.  He, as my BSGs (Bible Study Girls) love to say, was making imperfect progress.  He had a foot and a half in for God.  Until God helped him pull in the rest of him.

I had a couple of encounters with Christian women recently who were counseled to “run to God, for His arms are wide open.”  I was so saddened by their responses which included, “How” and “It’s too late for me.”  The first reminds me of how, as Christians, we absolutely must share our testimony.  We must do the work God makes clear to us in His Word.  By enveloping us in His teachings, submitting every single thought, worry, fear, joy, to Him through prayer and petition we will come into His arms.  God gives to those who ask.  Judas had everything available to him.  But he never submitted.  He never asked for God to change his heart.

The second response makes me cry.  It is never too late in God’s holy timeframe.  I’ve been talking with my BSGs and other friends about banging on God’s door.  Demanding to let us in.  Pleading for his intercession.  Not just lukewarm praying.  An all-out assault.  He has promised His love to us.  “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come and eat with that person, and they with me.” Rev 3:20. We need to stop letting satan whisper falsehoods in our ears — you aren’t worthy, you aren’t good enough, it’s too late.  Take back our lives and put them safely in God’s arms by speaking the Truth of God’s promises.  Promises that are clearly and consistently written out for us in the Bible. Revelations continues with: “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne.” Rev 3:21

Sisters and brothers, God is not a passive “spiritual being.”  He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent in our lives.  He is powerful and that makes you powerful.  We can no longer see and hear His blessings and let them roll off our backs like Judas.  We need to take what is rightfully ours and plant it deep inside us.  We will struggle like Peter. But our love for the Lord will work for our good. So that when we walk out into that dirty world we stay clean, we stay in His arms.

christian encouragement

Wave Your White Flag

What battles are you facing right now? For me it’s my fears about the direction the country is going. I am a patriot through and through. I’m not a fan of people who twist history to meet their needs for victimization. That may not sit well with people but I will not judge others for living imperfect lives while I, myself, live imperfectly every single day. That being said I can only live in God’s Truth which is the fact that the only battle I have some control over is the one that tries to pull me away from God.
When I don’t first get on my knees and pray; when I don’t continually look to the Lord for guidance; when I don’t trust that God is the ultimate warrior in the battles for Truth and Justice — this is when I need to remind myself to tighten my own warrior belt and take up my shield.
Our real battles are being fought in realms unseen. Our job is to surrender to the knowledge that God will fight for us when we ask. He will beat back the armies that wish to destroy us. And as King Jehoshaphat commanded the people of Judah to act before battle, we need to give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever!”
It’s time to completely turn your battles over to God. Let’s face it, you haven’t had too many victories without Him. Wave your white flag. Get on your knees and pray.
Join me starting July 27 as I begin 30 Days of Praise for all the great things God has done. Follow me to enjoy this journey!