Faith Over Fear, Part 3: The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength!

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I hope you all are doing well, brothers and sisters in the Lord! I pray you all are seeking Christ every day and are preparing your hearts for His coming. Jesus could really come back any day, and we always need to be prepared for that! Now today let’s talk about a beautiful fruit of the Holy Spirit that we probably all desire more of in our lives: joy.

“How can I have joy, Lord?”

I asked this to the Lord earlier this year as I was journaling and spending time with Him. His reply? Well, He told me to go inside. So I went inside and shared with my dad about some things God had been speaking to me during that time with Him. Soon my dad and I had a good refreshing laugh, and I was overflowing with joy!

God cares about His children and wants for us to have joy. He created joy, and He created us with a desire for joy!

Not only that, but He wants us to have joy even in the midst of great trials. This is because having joy isn’t about having a feeling, it’s about having Jesus. Even in the midst of trials, if we can cling to Jesus and rejoice in Him, the trials will seem so much less in comparison with God’s goodness. It really is possible to have joy in the midst of great difficulty! 

In fact, James urges us to make the choice to be joyful in these times: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:1-3)

Consider it pure joy? What!? I used to look at that verse in awe, but never did anything about it. It just amazed me. I didn’t know if I could truly put such a thing into practice.

Well, James wasn’t just saying something! He meant it, and he knew it could be true because of our connection with the Holy Spirit, who has an unlimited supply of joy!

How can we feel joy when fear seems overwhelming? The other day I was experiencing a lot of fear. Fear may indeed be an easy thing to give into, but if we are children of the light, we must–and I repeat, MUST–learn how to conquer the fear in our lives through faith in Jesus Christ. As I was reminded the other day, we must stand firm in the Lord and in the power of his might (Eph. 6:10).

Yes, God can meet you in your weakness. But, if we never fight against the fear with the authority of Christ we have been given, we will understandably be overwhelmed by it and be very far from joy.

In spite of our weakness, we have been given the authority of Christ and we must use it! Jesus is with us wanting to strengthen us, and it’s our job to choose to be firm and to choose to fight in the name of Jesus! We must do our part, being instilled with faith, and He will meet us with His strength! And what is His strength?

Nehemiah 8:10b gives an example of people who found that in God, they could find strength, and that strength was in fact joy: “…the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

This is exactly the words the Holy Spirit gave me to fight the fear last night: The joy of the Lord is my strength! As I said those words against the enemy and stood against fear, I experienced so much joy in the Lord! Praise God!!!

Listen up, folks. Joy is not just a good feeling, it is a weapon God has give us. Joy is a weapon we have been given through the Holy Spirit to counteract the fear in our lives!

It’s OK if you have to fight again and again… and again. Do NOT let the enemy make you feel stupid. PERSEVERE in the power of the Holy Spirit, standing strong against the enemy and praising God with the joy He has given you. Hallelujah! Wishy-washy words aren’t going to give you victory over fear. Only a spirit standing firm, rejecting fear, and praising God can bring you victory–all in the name of Jesus!

Let me tell you, I haven’t always been a “strong” person. In fact I hesitate to call myself strong now, because I still have so many moments of weakness, and I know I am completely weak and helpless without Jesus.

But ever since I have discovered how necessary it is to fight against fear, doubt, and unbelief, that come at me, I have learned to be a fighter. And learning to be a fighter has taught me how to be a joyful person.

A year ago, I would probably have said something like: “Oh, that’s not my thing.” I am so against hurting things, guys, really! The thought of going to a shooting range to shoot even just targets does not appeal to me.

Still, when you are a child of God, you must learn to fight against the spiritual forces of evil. (These are the only things God calls us to fight in Scripture–people themselves we are called to love.) You must admit that these dark forces will ALWAYS be dark and they deserve NO compassion. God is calling you to rise up and drive them out of your life in the name of Jesus! Give up on fear. Get on your knees. Get sanctified in the blood of Jesus. He will strengthen you!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13

Even in the midst of your pain, your struggle, your devastating circumstances, your everyday job, your finals during school, your family relationships–whatever you are going through, put on the full armor of God! Stand your ground. Stop letting these circumstances drown you and rise above them in the victory you have in Jesus.

Bring your hurts to God. Every hurt. Bring your burdens to God. Every burden. Bring everything to God in prayer and rejoice in His love! He is good! He is kind! He is faithful!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

This verse encourages me many times. Don’t let fear overwhelm you. Don’t let your emotions overwhelm you. Don’t let your circumstances overwhelm. Rise up and trust in the Lord! Rise up and praise Him!

Today, my challenge to you is to rejoice, as Philippians 4:4 talks about: “Rejoice always! Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Paul doesn’t just tell us to rejoice one time, he repeats himself, and he says to rejoice all the time! Don’t be defeated by lies or circumstances, but rise up and praise the Lord! Sing praises to God to combat fear and worry.

Choose to believe that He is in control and He is so, so good. Choose to believe that He is better and more satisfying than your circumstances, and that eternity in heaven with Him is something worth rejoicing about. Hallelujah!

He has saved you and bought you at a great price with the precious blood of Jesus. You can put to death fear because Jesus died and you can rise up with joy because Jesus came to life again. Praise the Lord! Praise Him forevermore!!! (I am extremely happy writing this post, if you can’t tell. These exclamation points aren’t just here, they are trying to express what is going on inside me. 😀 😀 😀 YAY! Thank You, Jesus!!!)

Choose joy today, Beloved!

Choose a joy that fights and believes and remains steady and strong no matter what tries to diminish it. Choose a joy that strengthens you and nourishes you with the holy presence of God. Choose a joy that is totally worshipful and in awe of our precious Savior who bled and died for us so we might live in unity with Him now and forever!

I used to have trouble believing that God wanted me to enjoy Him, but one time at a conference my new friend (who later became one of my dearest friends) said to me: “I am going to pray for you to have fullness of joy in God’s presence.” I was thinking something like: “Ok… That’s nice, I guess?” I didn’t really believe such joy was possible.

But guess what? By the end of the conference I was bursting with joy in God’s presence. I was worshiping my heart out to Him! I was discovering how truly satisfying He was and always is, far more satisfying than anything this earth can supply. I had never experienced such unfathomable joy before. I had never before realized how much God delights in filling His people with joy. He wants to fill your cup today, till it overflows, like in Psalm 23!

God is good, friends! He is so, so good. I pray you all experience boundless joy, energy, and life from the Holy Spirit today. I pray you all learn to stand firm in the Lord, fight against fear by the power of the Holy Spirit, and praise God in the middle of the storm! Joy overcomes fear! Light overcomes darkness. Good overcomes evil. Jesus overcomes your weakness with His strength!

Jesus is with you always, and I personally believe Jesus is coming very soon, so be prepared! Endure and persevere through the end, considering it pure joy as the Lord refines you through these times. No matter how bad things get, you will end up a more beautiful masterpiece on the other side, with a closer intimacy with our precious Savior.

Fix your eyes on Him, each and every day. Live each day to the fullest for Him. And please, by all means, share about the incredible joy and life God has given you with every person possible–stranger, friend, or family! You have a story worth sharing. And there’s people out there who need to hear it.

Remember, Beloved: You are so precious to God, far more than you can imagine. ❤

Have a blessed night, brothers and sisters!

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

 

 

 

Faith Over Fear, Part 2: Love Drives Out Fear

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Have you ever seen a young couple in love? Or a mother who really loves her child? It may be easy to love a person when we are “in love” or to love a child when he or she is behaving well. But what is true love?

How can we love ALL people—old people, young people, children, parents, siblings, friends, coworkers, spouses, strangers, our enemies—at ALL times, deeply and genuinely, the way the Lord loves us?

As you may know from my last post about being filled with the Holy Spirit, I am going through a series about the fruits of the Spirit and how those overcome and banish the fear in our lives. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit–filled with purity, love, and a clean heart–to be able to truly love others in the ways God loves us—sacrificially, unconditionally, unreservedly.

The topic of loving others and being loved by God go hand in hand. Through experiencing the love of God, we learn to love others. Through loving others, we experience the love of God.

Honestly, when my eyes aren’t fixed on Jesus, I have absolutely no idea how to truly love others in a genuine way. Without Him, I am going to fail. I am going to be self-seeking. I am going to not care for others. But with Him filling me up to overflowing, His love naturally flows out of me into others lives.

To be totally honest I am REALLY new to learning how to love others. I am so prone to failing, and I am still just beginning to learn what it means to love others without reserve.

Lord Jesus, teach us how to love. Fill us with the love of Your Holy Spirit. We need to know the depths of Your love for us that is right now so beyond our comprehension. We have so much more to learn of Your love. Speak to us tonight. Speak to us, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You and I need to be filled with God Himself in order to know how to love people. This filling of the Holy Spirit is in contrast to following the ways of our fleshly desires.

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” – Galatians 5:19-26

Have you crucified your flesh with its passions and desires? Right here it says that if you belong to Christ Jesus you have. Plain and straight. In Christ Jesus, your passions and desires are dead.

Do you believe that? Or do you still live by your passions and desires? I know I do. I mess up. And it’s not because my passions and desires aren’t dead, it’s because I don’t believe that they are. It’s because I don’t believe that Jesus paid the price for those passions and desires to be put to death. I don’t believe that Jesus’ finished work on the cross is enough, because I don’t desire holiness enough. When I don’t desire Him, I don’t trust Him. When I don’t trust Him, I don’t know what love is.

The truth is we need Him–we desperately need Him! We desperately need to desire Him in order to get to know His love. We need to desire God in order to experience His love and in turn love others.

Lord Jesus, teach us how to be holy. Right now fill us with the holiness that is in the very name of your Holy Spirit. Holy, holy, holy, are You, Lord. Uproot everything within us that isn’t of You. Completely uproot it and destroy it. Make us clean in Your Spirit. Sanctify us, Lord. Purge every impurities and sanctify us in You. Burn a fire in our hearts to desire holiness, through and through. Nothing else but You, Lord Jesus. Nothing else but You. Burn away every fear, doubt, and unbelief, and fill us with faith, Lord. You are all we want and all we need, Jesus. Help us, Lord.

In order to love well we need to be holy. In order to love well need your holiness inside us, Jesus. Make us holy, in Jesus’ name. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

In order to love well we need to be holy. God says in 1 Peter 1: 15-16, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

I bet you never expected a post about “love” to talk about holiness. Well, that goes to show how little we know about God’s love. The world’s version of love is perverse, lustful, self-seeking, out of control, spontaneous, short-lasting, and leads to ruin. God’s version of love is patient, humble, pure, kind, self-controlled, powerful, sacrificial, eternal, and leads to life and peace.

The only way to be rid of fear in our lives is to cast it out with the perfect love as describe above: God Himself.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4: 16-18

God is Love. God wants us to know and rely on His love, to live in His love, and so have Him live in us. He makes us like Jesus in order to make us complete in perfect Love, which in turn drives out fear from our lives. His perfect Love drives out fear from our lives!

Wow! I want some of Your perfect Love, Lord. So what exactly is it? Perfect Love…

…fights for our holiness, fights for our purity, fights for our sanctity.

…drives out every impurity in our hearts with a jealousy and passion for us to be intimate with God.

…banishes all condemnation, guilt, shame, and every lie from the devil that says we aren’t worthy of Him.

…fills us with the truth that we are worthy, valuable, and precious to God.

…protects and covers us with the blood of Jesus.

…comforts us when we are sad, heals us when we are broken, and encourages us when we feel discouraged.

…speaks tenderly to us in the wilderness of hard times and speaks boldly to us when we turn our face away from God.

…leads us onto paths of righteousness of His name’s sake.

…cherishes, guards, and keeps us

…delights in us passionately, intensely, and unreservedly

….accepts us for who we are and doesn’t let us stay the same

…makes us like Jesus.

…makes us holy.

Have you been made perfect in God’s love? Do you have any fear inside you—even an ounce of it in your being? Seek God today for purity and holiness. Seek Him for the fire that will purge you of impurities and make you clean. Seek Him for confidence, for boldness, for strength. Ask Him to uproot every fear in you and replace every area of fear with faith—full faith in His perfect love.

Do you believe that God loves you? Do you deep down, in your soul, have a peace in the Father’s tender regard for you?

If not, what is holding you back? Fear? Doubt? Guilt? One of the most helpful things I have heard about trusting in the Lord’s love for you is something like this: You feeling like God doesn’t love you doesn’t determine that He doesn’t love you.

Your feelings of condemnation don’t determine the truth. Go straight to His Word to discover His enormous love for you! There is NO condemnation in the Father’s eyes for those who are in Christ Jesus! (Rom. 8:1). Christ’s love is wide and long and high and deep for you (Eph. 3:18)! His love will NEVER let you go (Rom. 8:35-39). Check out what His Word says and then believe it, no matter what you feel!

God the Father is looking at you right now with the deepest love for you and you are sitting there believing that He doesn’t actually care that much. (Ouch.) Well, open your eyes, Beloved! Open your heart. This love isn’t like any love you’ve ever experienced from people before! God’s love knows no limits. He never stops loving you. He never stops delighting in you! He has pure, unrestrained delight in who you are: His Beloved son or daughter.

I pray that you would truly discover the infinite measure of love which God is pouring in your heart tonight. Because you hope in Him, He pours His love out in your heart through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Because you trust in Him, His love fights off the impurities and fills you with holiness.

God loves you and so He demands your whole heart. He gives His whole heart to you, now will you give your whole heart to Him?

Lord Jesus, set us free. Set us free. Set us free to love in a radical way. Make known Your love for us in Christ Jesus who bled and died for us on the cross to restore us back into a relationship with You. You give and give and give and NEVER hold anything back from us! Let us receive the depths of Your love tonight and let it fill our beings so completely that nothing else has a place to stay. Nothing else! Has! A! Place! To! Stay! Lord Jesus, draw us close to You. Captivate us with Your love! Make us so in love with You that there’s nothing else we’d rather do but be with You. Pour out Your love in our hearts, Lord. Pour out Your love, over and over, until rivers of living water flow out from us and spill over into the lives of those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The truth is, without total surrender, we can never be totally set free from fear. Without complete abandon to the will of God, we can never be made complete in the love of God that is deep, genuine, and sacrificial. Surrender. Let go everything but the One who is holding on to you and will never let you go.

Give your whole heart to Him tonight. Start afresh and experience God’s love more deeply than you ever have before! He loves you SO dearly and holds you close to His heart.

I hope and pray you are blessed, refreshed, and encouraged tonight, Beloved!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d_oYr-P16M

Faith Over Fear, Part 1: Be Filled with the Spirit!

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Hello, friends! I hope you all are doing OK with this whole quarantine going on. No, actually, I hope you all are feeling WONDER-full, amazing, and blessed by God today. Doesn’t sound like you? Well, I want to encourage you today to be filled with the Spirit, rather than be driven by fear. God is bigger than COVID-19, bigger than your anxiety, bigger than your timidity, and bigger than any burden or worry or stress you have been carrying. Be blessed today!

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? To be led by the Spirit? To not only live by the Spirit, but keep in step with the Spirit, as Paul urges us to do? (Gal. 5:25)

OK. First of all, you may be wondering what this has to do with being afraid, since the title of the post includes “Faith Over Fear.” Well, as it turns out, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

You might say, But I still feel afraid, and I am a child of God. This coronavirus gets me so anxious! Well, have no fear, my friend! If you trust in Jesus, you have full access to a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. The Holy Spirit within you is capable of boldness instead of cowardice, love instead of timidity, and a sound mind instead of unstable, scattered thoughts. Fix your eyes on Jesus, and the fears will melt away. Look to the Lord at all times in your heart, and you will remain steadfast and firm.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Ask Jesus to help you. Let “I believe; help my unbelief” be the cry of your heart if you are daily attacked by fears, doubts, and unbelief. You will soon notice a big difference and a greater degree of faith in your heart. To “have confidence” is really to be filled with faith. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with faith. This is how we we can have victory over fear in our Christian walk – to be filled with faith! And this is faith totally and completely in Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross. He has power over your fear, should we only trust in Him–that He is greater than any problems we face! Have faith in Him and seek Him to set you free from the bondage of fear! (Psalm 34:4)

So if to be filled with Spirit is the same as being filled with faith, how can we be filled up with the Spirit in our daily lives? Well, here is what Paul has to say about being filled with the Spirit:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 15:18-20

He tells us to “be filled” with the Spirit, instead of filling ourselves up with alcohol! This suggests that this filling is not a one time thing at the point of salvation. (I am not about getting all theological here, but I am simply expressing what the Bible is saying and how I have experienced God myself.) While you always have the Holy Spirit available to you as a child of God, you may not be totally filled with Him all the time. I know I’m not! Too often I walk in my flesh and follow the desires of my flesh. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit you find yourself deeply compelled to follow God, to love others, to speak truth, and to obey Him wholeheartedly. It is a filling of faith, a filling of God Himself, and a filling of deep desire for God.

So how do we get this filling of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis? There are five ways to do that that I will talk about today:

  1. Worship and thanksgiving
  2. God’s Word
  3. Prayer
  4. Fellowship
  5. Obedience

1. Worship and thanksgiving. Scroll up a bit and take a look at Ephesians 15:18-20. One way of feeling God’s presence near to me is in worship to Him through songs or simply giving thanks to Him. Worship and thankfulness are so powerful and uplifting, feeding our souls and nourishing us. Through these things, we can become filled with the Spirit, and all fear is banished from our beings. Lifting up praise to Jesus changes things!

Have you worshiped God lately? Can you set aside time in your schedule to worship Him during this quarantine season? What about thanksgiving? Ask yourself daily: What am I thankful for? There is so much to be thankful for in Christ Jesus!

2. God’s Word. Now, how else can we be filled with faith? God’s Word! Whenever you feel doubtful or weary, get yourself in the Word of God and pour over the pages. In fact, get yourself in His Word on a daily basis no matter how you feel. There is so much to learn to bring life and refreshment to your soul! Drink it in! Let the truth instruct you and convict you. Draw near to Jesus through His life-giving Word.

Have you read the Bible lately? Can you invest more time in it during this quarantine season?

3. Prayer. Along with God’s Word, prayer is a vital tool. Pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit! Pray for more faith! Pray for more of God–more of His love, more of His joy, peace, patience, and kindness, etc. And be in prayerful dependence on God in all you do. Abide in Jesus. Any prayer can fill you with more of the Holy Spirit, no matter what you are praying about. Talk to the Father about how your day is going! Being filled with faith is all about becoming more deeply connected to God in a vibrant relationship with Him. He loves you so much and wants you to draw near to Him in deeper ways and be filled up with Him to overflowing!

Have you prayed lately? Do you pray regularly? Does your spirit “prayerfully depend” on God even if you aren’t consciously focused on God? Consider how you can grow your prayer life during this quarantine season!

4. Fellowship. Real fellowship among other believers should be encouraging, edifying and uplifting us in our walk with God. What God desires for us is to feel the Holy Spirit so present among other believers that their zeal for the Lord feeds off onto us and helps us learn to love more deeply and follow God more wholeheartedly. If you don’t have them in your life already, seek out the kinds of people who genuinely care about you and are authentically pursuing their relationship with Jesus. You will be infinitely glad you did! And if you already do have this type of fellowship–praise God! Continue in that and seek out ways you can love your brothers and sisters in Christ more sacrificially, and have more meaningful conversations about the Lord with one another that really encourage and edify one another. 

In what ways is God asking you to engage in fellowship with other believers today? This week? This quarantine season? Even in this COVID-19 season, there are many ways to connect with believers through technology and such! Don’t let fear hold you back from reaching out to someone. The Lord delights in us reaching out to Him, just as other sincere believers delight in us reaching out to them. In fact, anyone loves to be reached out to!

5. Obedience. Finally, obeying God is of utmost importance. Hearing Him and obeying Him. Take time to sit at His feet and listen to that still, small voice. What does He want from you? What is He saying? Sometimes–in fact most of the time– the answer is simple. Maybe it’s to clean your room. To love your sibling. To serve your neighbor in some way. To reach out to a friend. To open up a spiritual conversation with a non-believing classmate or coworker. Maybe it’s just to sit with Him a little while longer and receive His love for you.

Once you quiet your mind, God is only an answer away. Rest in Him. Slow your racing thoughts down. Be still, and know that He is God. Lean into that whisper. And then obey.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Oftentimes we don’t need a long period of waiting on the Lord to know what He wants for us. In-the-moment situations happen to us all the time. Like your sister interrupting you in schoolwork… or writing this blog post. What do I do? The Spirit of God in me urges me to stop what I am doing and look at her. Make eye contact. Care.

As we learn to rest in and rely on the Holy Spirit, we become quicker and quicker to knowing what God wants for us in a situation and then obeying Him. This is what it means to be “led by the Spirit” (Romans 8:14). Obey God and walk in His truth! He will bless you abundantly for it, as you do it out of love for Him, and in reliance on Him.

Walking in the Spirit is like an actor learning to play their role. The only thing is you aren’t learning to be someone else, you are learning to be yourself! Your true self–who you really are in Christ Jesus. You are special to Him!

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

You are chosen! You are royal! You are holy! You are God’s own possession! Because you trust in Jesus to have the victory over sin and death in your life, you now live by the Spirit. Now keep in step with the Spirit, follow God’s guidance each day. Be led by the Spirit–listen to Him! Tune into God’s voice and be in touch with Him every day.

As you do so, your life will be blessed, your mind at peace, and fears dissipated. Be filled with the Spirit, so your faith will triumph over your fear! Stand firm in Him against any fear that does come at you, using the shield of faith to protect you from the fiery darts of the evil one (Eph. 6:16)!

Let this reassure your heart today, Beloved! You are SO loved, valued, and precious to God. Nothing can separate you from His love. In fact, His love casts out fear (1 John 4:18)! And His love is what my next post will be about, as I continue in my series “Faith Over Fear” and discuss how the fruits of the Spirit counteract the fear in our lives.

Have a truly blessed, Spirit-filled day!

 

Can You Ever “Take Back” That Thing You Said?

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Have you ever wished you could “take back” something you said or did?

Well, guess what! When you choose to trust in Jesus, in the power of His death and resurrection, God “takes back” everything you ever have done or will do, say or will say, that is displeasing to Him. He is completely 100% pleased with you! While the temporary short-lived consequences may remain, the permanent eternal consequences are completely removed. Now you have fellowship with God now and forever, empowered to live a life pleasing to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Today, please know, whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, and wherever on earth you are (quarantining, perhaps!), you are loved. You are SO loved! You are loved by a God who knows you more than you know yourself. You are loved by a God who always offers you an open invitation to come to Him. Be honest with Him. Be flat-out vulnerable with God! He can handle your brokenness. Only when you give up trying and admit you need Jesus will He be able to restore your life again–or even for the first time!

God already knows, He already cares, and He already is pleading for you to leave your life of sin and come to Him. He will free your soul from every burden, every anxiety, every sin that constrains you if you only hand your life over to Him. Trust Him through Jesus Christ, who has bridged the way for you to come to God!

God loves you, and He offers you freedom from guilt, shame, and fear that you so desperately need through Jesus Christ. It seems too good to be true, but that’s exactly why it’s true! Jesus is the answer. He is what every human soul is longing for. ❤️

I hope these verses encourage you today:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” Ephesians 1:7

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

I hope this song encourages you as well. You really are SO loved! God is longing for you to come to Him. ❤

Have you ever experienced the freedom you can have in Christ? Or are you a believer and are struggling right now? If you feel God leading you to, please share how God has freed you or what you are struggling with in the comments! Or have you never experienced Jesus’ freedom and would like to? Comment below, or seek out other Christians you may know! 😃 Find a Bible online or pick up your own if you have one and read it like a child, because child-like faith is what God is looking for. Have a day filled with God’s love, dear friends!

The COVID-19 Gospel

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Are you lonely? Are you wandering, frustrated, stressed out, not knowing what the point if this season of life is? Are you jobless? Angry? Afraid? Sick? Are you suffering–whether it be physically, emotionally or mentally? Are you burdened? Wherever you are at right now, please, take a moment and listen to what God has to say to you. Listen to what He has done for you and take the step of faith to enter a right relationship with Himself. Today is the day of salvation!

Don’t social distance Jesus, no matter how dangerous He seems! He is safer than any other place you can go. He is your refuge! (Ps. 46:1)

The world is full of the corona (spiritual death, sin, fear, shame, guilt) but when you trust in Him to be your doctor, Jesus heals you and then sanitizes you completely so it can’t touch you ever again. You have a life of safety and health in His presence! (Safety= purity, wisdom, discernment, and holiness; health =life, joy, peace, hope, love, and freedom)

When you come to Him, He cleans you of all viruses of sin and distraction! He prepares you to live in a corona-free kingdom forever by filling you with His healthy life without the disease of sin here on earth. With His healthy life living inside you, anything is possible! (Phil. 4:13)

Trust in Jesus — His death on the cross and His coming to life again, so you can destroy the corona (sin) inside you and come alive in the safety and healthy of your home in Jesus. Put your faith in Him! He is trustworthy, as He has proven over and over in His Word (the Bible). Trust in Him with all your heart! (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Even when you rebel against His ways and then get sick in Jesus’ home, He is always your friendly doctor to heal you up again should you desire to continue living a healthy life with Him in His home (or else be plagued by the corona everywhere else). He loves you and accepts you no matter what!

Jesus is safer than a thousand toilet paper rolls, loaves of bread, and gallons of water. He is the Cleanser of your soul, the Bread of Life, and the Spring of Living Water. He is healthier than a hundred pounds of spinach—health that gives your soul vitality forever and ever. 

Quarantine in Him, and you will never catch the deadliest disease of all: sin. And even though you self-isolate from the things of this world, in reality you are staying at home and staying safe in Jesus and thus saving your soul.

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.“ Psalm 62:7

“For the wages of sin is death (spiritual death, disease, bad consequences), but the gift of God is eternal life(spiritual life, health, security) in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit (lose) their soul?“ Mark 8:36

Let this be the greatest news for your soul in the midst of all the bad news! Let this be the most contagious thing you spread during this season of fear, loneliness, and sickness–Not necessarily this post, but the gospel of grace–the good news of what Jesus has done for you and for me! Have a blessed day living in the safety of God’s enormous grace!

P.S. If you have just now placed your faith in Jesus and given your life to Him after reading this post, I would be overjoyed to know in the comments!!! Or if anything I’ve said here is confusing or you have any questions, I am more than open to having a dialogue about this! 😀

What are you longing for? (When you feel lonely during quarantine)

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Many people during this time don’t feel so much afraid as they feel alone. With more time to think and less opportunities to socialize, it can be easy to fall into depression or loneliness.

The other day I was taken up by a raw, aching loneliness inside me. It was so strong I didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t focus on my online schoolwork.

So I went on a long walk with my dog and breathed in the fresh air. Then I read a chapter in the novel, Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. Throughout all of this, I poured out my longings to Jesus. I laid it all before Him. I ached with Him. I cried with Him. I shared the pain of my restless and lonely heart with Him.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” – Psalm 62:8

Jesus met me there with peace. So much, pure and perfect peace. And comfort. He understands what it’s like to feel alone. The people of his hometown rejected him. His disciples deserted him. Even God the Father left him alone, hanging on the cross to bear the sins of billions of people throughout history, in order to set humanity free from the power of sin and death.

“And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).” Mark 15:34

Can you hear Jesus’ aching heart, crying out to the Father, ringing out into the still, empty air? Even Jesus felt completely, utterly alone. It is not a sin to feel lonely. It is only human. And Jesus felt that part of humanity for us, so He could be with us when we ourselves feel alone.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15

Search your heart. Do you feel lonely? If so, what are you longing for? When you feel lonely, you can always be sure that it’s because you are longing for something. Are you longing for companionship? Are you longing for acceptance? Belonging? Intimacy? Affection? Love?

Ask yourself, my dear friend: What are you longing for…?

It’s okay to acknowledge your deepest desires. I know I have been guilty of hiding what’s really going on deep inside me. As long as my mind enforces the truth, it doesn’t matter how my heart feels. At least that’s what I’ve told myself.

“You have everything you need in Jesus.” “Jesus is enough.”

Yes, those are true. But how can I believe it if I don’t experience His all-sufficiency? How can I believe it if I don’t let Him into the deepest parts of my being and nourish and satisfy me with His love in those areas? Do I actually live like Jesus is enough for me or do I just say that He is? The only way to live like it’s true is to experience it yourself.

Your longings are too strong to ignore. I’m not saying that the truth you tell yourself isn’t true, but that you have to acknowledge your own weakness in order for the truth to get from your head to your heart. You have to lay yourself honestly and brokenly before God in order for Him to meet you where you’re at. You have to let Him fulfill your desires with Himself, no matter how intimate and vulnerable that may seem.

Because the truth is, you need Him! You need Him involved in every area of your life. If you pretend like a part of you doesn’t exist, you are going nowhere. You’re stuck trying to pretend like everything’s all right when it’s really not. You’re being proud. I know when I do this, I feel distant from God, just as I would feel distant from a friend if I withheld the truth from her. It’s the humble thing to do to acknowledge how needy you are for the Savior’s affection.

I have tried guarding my heart with mind games. “You aren’t ready for a relationship.” “This will never work out with this person because…”

While those might be helpful at some capacity, they don’t address what’s really going on. What’s really going on?

You need to be loved! And the truth is, you are refusing to go to Jesus with that need. Go to Him, Beloved! Bring it all before Him. He is tender, compassionate, and has deep affection for you. He died for you, to woo your heart to Himself. He longs for you more than you long for Himself!

The other day as I poured my longings out on Jesus, I experienced His “enoughness”. I truly felt like He was enough for me. I didn’t hide or ignore what was really going on. I laid it all before Him, and I felt His presence so near me, soothing me.

Yes, believing the truth in your head is important. But not if it never goes to your heart. Acknowledging the truth about your longings in your heart is what will really set you free.

It’s okay to feel lonely during this season of quarantining. The key is, it’s what you do with the loneliness that will either make you feel like God doesn’t care or make you see that Jesus is truly able to satisfy your deep longings.

And even then, the whole world is groaning for the day when Jesus will completely reveal His love to the Church with the fullest revelation. Let Jesus satisfy your desires for today; and be encouraged that even then, we are allowed to feel restless and look forward to more, because we have not received all that our souls were created for yet—the richness of God in heaven.

Cry out to Him, today, Beloved. Invite Him into the pain of your aching longings, and find hope and rest in His love.

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Intimacy with God, part 3: How to Abide in Jesus (Even When the World is Going Crazy)

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How do you abide in Jesus? Some people, I’ve realized, when they hear this word, they get an unsettling feeling of, “Ugh, yeah, I’m not doing that. That’s another thing on the list of things I need to work on.”

Work on? Wait a minute, what are you talking about? Recently, I remember telling my friend jokingly, “You don’t need to work on abiding; you just need to abide.”

You just do it. You just rest. In truth and in love, friend, God is with you; there is nothing you need to work on using your own human effort! In Christ, you are complete. In Christ, He provides everything you need. There is nothing you need to muster out of yourself to complete the work of abiding. Through your trust in Him, Christ completes you and makes you in a constant state of abiding in Him.

“…and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” – Colossians 2:10 (NKJV)

You are already with Christ and in Christ! You are already dead to sin and alive in Christ, so now let’s live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit in an intimate, abiding relationship with God (Gal. 5:25).

Not that I have never been guilty of striving, rather than abiding in the Lord–because this has been such a consistent struggle of mine! But I am so blessed that Jesus is teaching me I can find my home in Him and let Him be my Living Water in this dry and weary land.

This is something that is true NO MATTER the circumstances–at work, at school, with friends, or with family at home during the COVID-19 epidemic. You can find your home in Jesus wherever you go and whatever you do. You don’t have to be ruled by fear or pride or guilt or shame. You can be ruled by the Holy Spirit in a restful, life-giving relationship with God. Really!

Last month, I talked about what barriers you might have in your relationship with God that could prohibit you from having full intimacy with Him. (Click here to see that post.)

Now that we know what keeps us from abiding, today, I want to talk about what exactly abiding is. So, what is abiding? Here are three things Jesus says about it in John chapter 15:

1. Abide in Me – Prayerfully Depend on Jesus

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:4-5 (ESV)

You enter an abiding relationship with God by faith in Jesus Christ. You remain—or abide—in Him by faith. (Not by human effort!) The Greek word for “abide” is meinete which means to “remain, persevere, stay, continue, or abide.”

Do you want to stay with Jesus? There’s certainly no other place I’d rather go! Without Him I can do nothing! Absolutely nothing of eternal value. It’s all meaningless and unfruitful without persevering by faith to stick with Jesus Christ.

Let’s keep going with Jesus! Let’s continue on. Let’s stay connected with Him.

Abiding in Jesus means a persistent stance of humility in letting Him take control of your life as you rest in the safety of His presence. As my Navigator leader put it, abiding in Christ is “prayerful dependence” on Him.

Thus, sticking with Jesus is to “pray continually” as Paul exhorts us to (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer is being connected to God in your spirt. You cannot always be focusing your attention onto Him in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, or supplication, but you can always be connected to Him in your spirit, depending on Him fully in all things, and walking by the Spirit.

When we prayerfully depend on Christ—something new begins to happen. Joy comes, Life comes, and our branches bear fruit!

There is a drastic difference between a Christian who is dependent on themselves and a Christian who is prayerfully dependent on God. A Christian whose mind is formed by the pattern of this world and a Christian who is transformed by the renewing of his mind. A Christian who drives themselves crazy with trying to do everything perfectly and a Christian who abides in Christ and takes each step of faith exactly as it is—one step at a time.

In fact, if a Christian consistently shows he isn’t prayerfully depending on Christ, you begin to wonder if he is any Christian at all.

Abide in Him. Seek Jesus with all your heart. Stop trying to modify your behavior and let Jesus transform your heart by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). This is all about the Lord leading your life in ways that are for your good, and you resting that He’s doing that and He’s got you covered from head to foot with His grace. Surrender your own plans and trust that His are so much better. Keep looking to Jesus and enjoying His presence with you wherever you go–and you’ll be amazed at the fruit that comes up in the process, flowing from, not human effort, but a life dependent on Him.

2. Let His Words Abide in You – Meditatively Rest in Truth

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:7

Jesus asks us to let His words abide in us. Not my words. Not yours. Not the medias. Not your friends. Not your uncles. Not your grandmas. His words and His words alone!

And guess what? God’s Word has a lot to say about you. In the book I am currently reading, Victory Over the Darkness, author Neil Anderson lists many “Who am I?” statements throughout the book that affirm our identities in Christ. He talks about how believing who we are in Christ and the acceptance we have in Him enables us to be who God means us to be. Below are just a few of the statements in the Bible that reveal the new identity God offers you. Let His Word sink deep into your heart…

“Since I am in Christ…
I have been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)
I have been bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God (1 Cor. 6:19,20)
I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God in Christ, and I have been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge guaranteeing my inheritance to come (2 Cor. 1:21,22; Eph. 1:13,14)
Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Christ (2 Cor. 5:14, 15)
I have been made righteous (2 Cor. 5:21)
I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I am now living is Christ’s life (Gal. 2:20)
I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3)…”

These are true statements about yourself! Do you believe them? Abiding in the truth of the identity God has given you in Jesus Christ will free you to live your life according to who you already are, not according to who you want to be.

Because of who you are in Christ, you can draw your strength from Him and be empowered by your union with Him. Fleshly efforts mean nothing. Absolutely nothing. They don’t work! Our only hope is to surrender our human efforts and depend fully on God.

“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” – Galatians 3:2

Believe what you have heard Jesus tell you! That is the only way to true life. Depending on our futile works of the flesh don’t bear fruit. Only believing what Jesus tells us and abiding in that truth produces anything of eternal worth. Believe Him, Beloved!

The truths about your identity in Christ, and many more, are so important to meditate on and rest in throughout your day. If our minds are not filled with truth, then what are they filled with? Yes, lies. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and fill your mind with the truth about who you are in Christ, and who God is in every circumstance you face (Hint: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! – Heb. 13:8). His truth will set you free to live a life empowered by the Holy Spirt and connected to Jesus, the true source of life!

3. Abide in His Love – Eagerly Delight In His Favor

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” – John 15:9

Looking through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), anyone can see how deeply God the Father loves His Son, Jesus. The Father calls Him “My Beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17).

Take another look at the above passage. Read it slowly. Can you believe it—Jesus loves us the same way the Father loves Him? We, the Church, are the Beloved bride of Jesus, the Lamb of God! Jesus calls you His Beloved.

Abide in the love Jesus has for you. When I enjoy sweet fellowship with Jesus, soaking in the riches of His love, my connection with the vine grows stronger and my love for God grows deeper. Slow down and rest in His love for you. He really means every word He says.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long; and the one the Lord loves rest between His shoulders.” – Deuteronomy 33:12

Rest secure in Him, because He is protecting you, His beloved child! Marvel at His acceptance of you. Take a load off and relax with Him. Wait on Him. Stop and just…

Breathe.

In the presence of God, there can be no doubts or fears. Only peace. Trust in Him! In Him all things hold together (Col. 1:17).

If we’re going to stick with Jesus, let’s abide in His perfect love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18)! There is more love in Him than in any person in the world. More hope. More life. More freedom. Confess to Him your lack of belief and plead with Him to show you how much He loves you. He has rescued you from sin and death and raised you up and seated you with Christ in heaven, securing you a place in the Father’s family for all eternity (Eph. 2:6)! He loves you. Believe me. Well, don’t believe me. Believe Him! The riches of His Word provide us with so much confidence in His love for us.

Abide in His love, Beloved. Let it wash over you and break down your defenses. Melt in His loving embrace. And never, ever hold anything back from Him, the Lover of your soul.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” – Psalm 62:8

 

So, this is the gist of what abiding is. This is a picture of what intimacy with the Creator of Heaven and Earth looks like. This is only a shadow of the far more wonderful relationship with Him that is to come in heaven, but even now it is like a taste of heaven and brings satisfaction and life to the soul here on earth. God is so good to us!

Abide in Jesus. Abide in His Word. Abide in His love.

Keep asking, seeking, knocking to see what His good, pleasing and perfect will is. Keep wanting Him more than anything.  Keep believing who you are in Christ and believing who He is—holy and perfect and loving. Keep basking in His sheer delight and favor towards you. Keep trusting in Him with all your heart and leaning not on your own understanding; keep acknowledging Him in all of your ways, and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Persevere. Stick with Jesus. Cling tightly to Him, to your only source of life in this desolate, fear-driven world. He will always always be there for you; and you can always run back to Him no matter what junk you have hoarded up in yourself for a time. The way to purify yourself not by trying to feel clean and erase the sin from your memory, but rather to confess your sins, and let Him forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Receive His forgiveness and invite Him to lovingly rule your life again!

Keep believing, dear friend. Keep trusting Jesus and keep loving Him. Abide in Him. Abide in His Word. Abide in His love.

He really loves you so much.

And from this abiding, deep fellowship with the Lord, fruit will emerge, fruit that points the world back to God.

Let’s Stop and Listen

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Wow! It’s already been a month since I last posted. This break was, honestly, not really planned. And it’s not really over yet. School and my personal struggles have been consuming my life lately.

I just wanted to stop in and say that I still need a break. I can’t really tell you how to abide in Christ (my next planned post), if I am struggling to do so myself. Even more than that, I am taking time off to spend more time with God, seeking Him and what He wants for me at a particularly rough point in my life.

Please pray for me. Pray that God would guide me to the truth as I seek Him. I know that He is so near to me, and I’ve only to sit at His feet and wait on Him before He speaks to me. He has already revealed to me so many things, and I know there is much more to come. More I need to hear. More truth. More love. More wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.

Last Saturday He told me: Forget about people’s expectations; Make room for the Holy Spirit.

So that’s what I’m doing.

Let’s listen together, to that gentle whisper. He’s speaking. He’s there.

I’ll come back with the post about “Abiding in Him” when I hear Him say it’s time.

“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:27

“I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly.” Psalm 85:8

Intimacy with God, part 2: 5 Reasons Why the Connection Might Feel “Off”

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To read “Intimacy with God, part 1: What is Intimacy?” click here.

Do you ever feel “stuck” in your relationship with God? Like there’s a plug in the sink that’s blocking off the connection? Or do you ever feel like you’ve never really felt connected to God in the first place? Whatever the case, there’s just this feeling, you don’t know what it is, but just this feeling of disconnectedness, distance, and lack of love, desire, and joy in relating to God.

Have you ever felt like that?

I know I have.

When I was in my early teens, I yearned for the feeling of being close with God. Somewhere inside me, I knew that’s what I needed, that’s what I wanted, and that’s what I was searching for.

And so I searched. I sought after Him. I prayed. I studied the Bible. But the single most earth-shattering truth that brought me into intimacy with God was simple and it was this: God actually loved me.

When I believed in His love for me, when I really, truly, deep down believed, everything shifted. I didn’t just think He was with me, I was aware that He was with me. I didn’t just know He cared, I lay at His feet and I let Him love me. I didn’t just wonder what He was thinking, I began to hear His own thoughts, spoken to me through the Holy Spirit within me (1 Cor. 2:10).

When I experience God in this way, it means more to me than anything else in the world. And it means more to Him than it could ever mean to us! Drawing close to God pleases Him far more than any of our vain efforts to “impress” Him. Remember the story of Mary and Martha, when Jesus is gently rebuking Martha:

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” – Luke 10:41-42

As I’ve grown closer to God and experienced Him and been aware and in awe of His love for me, it becomes easy to notice whenever I suddenly feel like that connection isn’t fully there anymore.

And I ask God: Why? Why is the connection gone? What happened? I was having such close intimacy with You, and then it just disappeared, God. Why???

As I ponder what is going on that makes me feel off in my walk with the Lord, He has asked me at different moments to consider possible barriers that may be in the way of beautiful intimacy with Him. I detail these barriers below. Search your own heart and ask God to reveal to you what may be making your connection “off” today:

 

1. Sin.

This is the first and foremost thing we need to address if we want to be close to God! Don’t neglect bringing your sin into the Light. In the last post I talked about Psalm 139, how it describes the depths of God’s intimate knowledge about us. Because God knows us so well, ask Him to search your heart for any way you may have offended Him recently by sinning. Sin is rebellion against God, whether it is done purposefully or unknowingly. Any sin can be a blockage in your relationship with God. The Holy Spirit wants us to open our hearts to God’s loving gaze so we can become aware of what sin we need to remove from our lives, by God’s grace.

Side note: If you have never confessed your sins to God before, I encourage you to turn to God and do that right now! Through Jesus Christ you can be freed from sin and brought into a new life with Him (see John 3:16)! Your life will never be the same again!!! (See this post for more details.)

For those of you who have put your trust in Jesus, it is important to note that while you are completely covered in Jesus’ blood and are secure in God’s family, your relationship with your Heavenly Father will still feel distant if you are living in rebellion, unforgiveness, or in compromise, refusing to fully submit to Him. Check out Psalm 139, in verses 23 -24, where David prays humbly to God about his sin, an example for us to follow: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This is a great prayer to pray if you feel distant from God! As you seek the Father, if He reveals any specific sin in your life, repent and turn to Him quickly, and then open your heart to receive His forgiveness! He SO wants to forgive you! Only when you receive His forgiveness fully will you be empowered from then on to live your life pleasing to Him in this area you have given Him control over.

And He is always, always waiting to forgive you! I know I have often wrongly wondered if God could ever forgive me if I kept messing up again and again. But the truth is: You are never too far from His grace! He is faithful and just in forgiving us, and He is faithful and just in restoring us back to Himself in full union with Him.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

 

2. Lies.

Are you believing any lies about God? Catch yourself. Think about how you’ve been thinking, Beloved. Have you been degrading yourself, giving over to self-loathing or self-pity? Or have you been overthinking, because you don’t believe God is trustworthy enough to take control of your life? Or have you simply forgotten how much God loves you?

By all means, Beloved, stop believing lies! Don’t forget how wonderful God is. Ask God to show you His truth. Get deep in the Word and remind yourself of His unfailing, steadfast love for you. Discover His strength, His purity, His righteousness, His kindness, and all the goodness that He is.

Get to know God! Often, our wrong thinking is due to our wrong view of God. We think God is too small, or too haughty, or too harsh. These are lies straight from the devil! He is bigger than you can imagine, He is NOT too proud to overlook us, and He is tremendously patient and tender-hearted toward you.

He is not only ALL of these things, but He wants to be intimately involved in your life, no matter how messy it may be! He, after all, is the only One who can heal you, refine you, and shower you with the love you so desperately need. Get to know Jesus, because He is the truth, and the truth is what’s going to set you free!

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

 

3. Lack of Communication

This one just sounds like the #1 rule of relationships, right? Well, as it turns out, you are in a relationship with God, ladies and gentlemen! So, the same rules apply. 😉

Communicate with God how you really feel. All the frustration, worry, anger, pride—lay it all down. Express to God how you’re feeling deep down inside. How you’re struggling. Even though He knows everything about you, He wants you to share these intimate parts with Him so you can have a real relationship with Him! Tell Him your deep desires, your secret fears, your aching hopes, your heavy burdens, and your crazy dreams. He can handle it! And what’s more, He wants to meet the needs of your heart in ways you can’t even fathom! Every need, every burden, every longing, every hurt, every struggle, every pain, every fear, every little bit of unrest, everything—He wants you to lay all of that openly before Him. In your most vulnerable place, He will meet you with tenderness and care for you in the most loving ways. 

Don’t withhold any of your mess from Him! And don’t forget to share with Him all your joys, gratitude, and excitement with Him as well! Either one of these forms of honesty are so sweet to Him, like worship. As soon as you lay before Him how you’re doing, you will feel so free. And you’ll want to do it again and again—at all times, as the below Psalm urges us to do.

Come to God in your totally, completely honest place, and He will be so glad to meet you there. Pour out your heart to Him! Whether it be a disastrous mess or pure bliss, share it with Him, Beloved. He is your safe place. He is the safest place for you to be, whatever happens and wherever you go in life!

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”- Psalm 62:8

 

4. Lack of Surrender.

Are you willing to surrender all to God? This is not a question meant to bring guilt, but conviction. We will never be fully willing to surrender all to God. I have no idea what things I am not obeying God in and trusting God in. We will never achieve perfection in this earthly life, so we will never be completely surrendered to God, in the sense that we will never be fulfilling 100% of what God desires for us all the time, by our own efforts.

Oh… wait. Jesus, again? This is exactly where I’m going! Because you are covered in the blood of Jesus, you are fulfilling 100% of what God desires for you right now. He SO delights in you! He adores you! He finds you altogether beautiful, and He sees no flaw in you (Song of Songs 4:7). And that’s all because you were paid for at a high price, and you are clothed in robes of Jesus’ righteousness. Isn’t that incredible? God is so good!!!

So what do I mean when I challenge you to surrender? If God thinks so well of us, why do we need to do anything He wants us to do? Well, precisely because He thinks so well of us, is why we should be more than willing and happy to do anything He asks of us!

Really! You read that right. Jesus is calling out to you and asking you to let go of the things of this world. He wants you to trust Him. He wants you to believe that He is in complete control of all things and that He is worthy of your everything.

Nothing you surrender to Him truly matters in light of eternity, so you don’t need to be afraid that you will lose anything of ultimate value if you surrender to Him. Choosing Him above all else means you gain everything that truly matters!!!

Jesus is ALL that matters! Because Jesus has offered us the fullest life possible with Him now and forever, everything else we have once treasured so highly in life should not mean so much to us anymore. We should be willing to forsake anything that the Lord asks of us (Luke 9:23).

This does not at all mean we cannot enjoy this life! This means we need to, as Corrie Ten Boom said, “Hold loosely to the things of this life, so that if God requires them of you, it will be easy to let them go.”

And more often than not, there are things in our life which we must quickly rid ourselves of in order to draw near to God. The process may at first be painful, but on the other side there is always freedom!

Ask God to search your heart for what you need to get rid of. Often I find that removing distractions and hindrances leaves so much more space for God and I to have sweet fellowship together! You will be so grateful you did, and most of all, God will feel so pleased with you, Beloved.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2a (boldness added by me)

So ask yourself, honestly, what is distracting you from God today?

 

5. Lack of Desire

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m plagued by flat-out indifference or apathy toward God. This lack of desire and love for God leads straight to complacency if I don’t do anything about it. Don’t let yourself fall into complacency. Let God burn a fire in your soul for Himself alone! He is so abundantly worthy of all our passions and affections!

So, how do we get ourselves out of this rut of apathy?

Well, just because you don’t feel love for Him or feel that He loves you, doesn’t mean that you have absolutely no desire for Him, or that He has no desire for you. Don’t let the devil get you to believe that your feelings determine reality! The truth is, that no matter what happens with your relationship with God, even if you feel completely emotionless toward Him, you can always be sure of one thing: He loves you.

So, in spite of your lack of desire or love for Him, in spite of you becoming apathetic toward Him, in spite of you feeling weary and tired of everything, He wants to be ever so near to you, Beloved. It was never about your love for Him, anyway. It was always about His love for you! Let His love refresh your soul! Your apathy is a sign that you need God more than ever.

Ask God for more of a desire for Him. Ask Him for a greater revelation of His love for you. When I tell you to ask God for things, I’m not at all saying it because its the easy thing to say, I’m saying it because I really mean it! These are things you can ask God for that He is all so willing to give you.

Pray in faith that He longs to give them to you and He will soon do that beautiful work in your life. Jesus isn’t kidding when He says in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” What a wonderful promise that is!

After you ask God for more desire for Him, soon, sure enough, you will find a greater love for Him in your heart. A greater desire to do His will and walk in obedience to Him. None of these beautiful things we find in our hearts were ever from us, anyway! Faith, love, desire–all come from God! We need to continually ask for more of Himself and continually want more of Himself, or we will slide into apathy and then soon after into complacency.

So, ask Him, Beloved! Seek Him with all your heart. Knock confidently at His door. He is just waiting on the other side to respond.

 

 

In conclusion, sin, lies, lack of communication, lack of surrender, and lack of desire are some possible barriers between yourself in God. Take an honest look at yourself. Let God reveal to you what the issue is for you specifically. It could for sure be a combination of these things, as many of them are interwoven together.

The root of all these problems is simple: a lack of faith. When we don’t trust that God is better than our sin, when we don’t trust Him for who He really is, when we don’t trust that He cares enough to continually hear how we’re doing, when we don’t trust that God is better than any earthly distraction, when we don’t trust that God is  worthy of our pursuit even when we don’t feel like it–when we don’t trust God in any of these ways, there is inevitably a barrier between us and again. Pray in faith, asking for more faith, and choosing to believe God in all of these ways!

Whenever I feel like my connection with God is “off,” I search my heart and He often reveals one or more of these things to me that is a blockage in our relationship. He is so faithful, and He wants us to remove all hindrances so we can have full intimacy with Him!

You may be wondering: But how? How do I have “full intimacy” with God once I remove all these barriers. What in the world does that mean??? That’s what I’ll be covering in my 3rd and final post in this series about “Intimacy with God.” (It will be about abiding in Him.)

Today, pray and seek the Lord about why you feel distant from Him. Ask others to pray for you. I will pray for you as well.

I will pray that you have a wonderfully intimate time spent with the Lord today, free from all barrier and restrictions and overflowing with the Love of God! And as Hosea wooed Gomer the prostitute, I pray you experience God’s love for you in the midst of yourself dishonoring His name, and that you find His grace is sufficient for you now and always.

I hope you truly have a beautiful day! Enjoy the song below as well. ❤

“He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.” – Job 36:16

“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.” – Hosea 14:4

P.S. Originally, I had two title ideas for two separate posts related to intimacy with God: “Let God Break Down Your Defenses,” and “Be Totally and Completely Honest With Him.” I decided to condense those ideas into one uniform idea in this post. And in my next and final post, I will be talking about abiding in the Lord, while including the very important part of wanting Him more than anything (which was previously going to be in a separate post).

Intimacy with God, Part 1: What is Intimacy?

 

grayscale photography of man sitting on grass field

Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

This is one of 5 parts in a series of articles titled “Intimacy with God.” My personal intimacy with God has meant everything to me, so I cannot emphasize enough the power and beauty of drawing near to God in a daily, intimate relationship with Him. I hope you enjoy reading these, and enjoy drawing nearer to our gracious God, because in return He promises to draw near to you (James 4:8).

How do you feel when you hear the phrase “intimacy with God”?

Recently, a small group leader in a biblical healing class asked us this question. Understandably, it was met by some hesitation.

Two years ago, I would have felt the same uneasiness. I felt like there was a certain place a person could reach in their relationship with God, and that I had not arrived there yet. There was a place so deep, so pure, so close, so exciting, so wonderful, and so beautiful to be—and it was with God. I just knew it. So, how was I supposed to get there? Such deep intimacy with God seemed impossible! And too good to be true.

But soon, I learned with great surprise and joy that intimacy with God was true, and not only that, but it was better than I could have ever imagined.

What is intimacy anyway? I’m not asking what the culture’s definition of it is (a one nightstand, perhaps), but what the best kind of intimacy is: being close to God. This kind of intimacy is what our hearts are all longing for, whether we know it or not.

Nevertheless, instead of coming to God, we so often search in empty and barren places, in hopes that mere men or women, fame or money will fill our deepest desires.
In the Bible, the Hebrew word “yada” is used to mean “to know intimately, to understand, to experience.” (If you want to read more about intimacy with God aside from my blog post, check this informative article out.)

This “yada” is a great word to look at in our study of intimacy, because it encapsulates what we are searching for to fill our longings: someone to know us. To really know us. And to still, somehow, love us deeply, passionately, and tenderly, in spite of the dirty things we have ever done or thought.

Interestingly, the word “yada” is used both in Genesis 4:1, “Adam knew Eve,” and the many times David says “know” in Psalm 139, as in verse 1, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” How is it that the same word “yada” is used for two seemingly different topics (Adam and Eve’s sex vs. David’s relationship with God)? Well, in English we have it tricky, because we have only one word for “know.”

In Spanish, for example, there are two different words for “know”: “saber” which means to know about something, like information, and “conocer” which means to really know a person, rather than just know about them. The word “conocer” often refers to knowing or being familiar with a person, rather than a surface level ability to know that, say, the capital of China is Beijing.

In a similar fashion as “conocer”, the Hebrew word “yada” isn’t your typical word for “know.” God doesn’t merely know information about us. He doesn’t simply know that we are smart or clumsy or talented or naïve. While He does know certain things about us at face value, His knowing goes far beyond the facts. He knows our hearts. Our faults. Our shortcomings. Our desires. Our longings. Our hopes. Our fears. Our dreams.

God knows every single part of us. He knows us intimately. From the beginning, He has known all about us. And not only that, but He loves us in spite of our deep failure. Because God knows us and loves so well, He made intimate knowledge of Himself and intimate communication with Him available to us through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Jesus paid His very own life to pull us out of the muddy pit where we have rebelled against God—all so we could come to intimately know God in a personal relationship with Him!

And this is all because God desires deeply for us to come back into relationship with Him. He desires this because knows all about us and loves us anyway. He knows us completely and thoroughly for all that we really are and all that we really do. In Psalm 139, David was well aware of God’s intimate knowledge of himself:

“You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.”

Wow! God knows us so well. These are only the first six verses of this Psalm. I encourage you to go and read the entire Psalm when you are finished with this post. It is one of my favorite Psalms, because of how close to God it makes me feel. It is so full of God’s intimate knowledge of David, which transfers to that same intimate knowledge He has of us. For example, in verses 17-18, it talks about how God numbers each one of our thoughts and regards them as precious! God is so wild about us that He would be so careful and thoughtful to do a thing like that. He so adores us and is pleased with us! (Can we just appreciate God for a moment? He is pretty sweet. Hallelujah!)

Getting to know a person is a huge part of loving that person. When you meet up with a  new friend or significant other you are dating, you naturally have a desire to get to know them more. The reality that God knows EVERYTHING about us and still hasn’t struck us with lightening bolts is pretty significant.

He is mighty, He is holy, He is just, but He is also faithful, merciful, and full of steadfast love. He desires good for us. And it is plain for Him to see that, in all honesty, getting to know Him intimately is what will do us the most good in our lives. This isn’t pride or arrogance, this is pure, honest, love. It would be selfish for Him to withhold knowledge of Himself from us, just like it would be selfish for a friend to ignore us and not keep us updated on how they are doing—how they are really doing. He allows us to get to know Him by filling us with the Holy Spirit, once we put our trust in His perfect Son, Jesus, for our salvation. He reveals to us the deep things about Himself through His Spirit inside of us!

“However, as it is written:
‘What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’ —
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

So, the Holy Spirit helps us get to know God in a deep, intimate way!

And through His Spirit, we have the ability to understand God’s primary source of knowledge about Himself: His Word! Always, always, always, go to His Word, the Bible as your safe place to get to know God with full certainty that everything in it is true. Unlike every other book in the world, the Bible has not one trace of a lie in it. God has provided His Word so we can stand our ground on what He says is true! (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Bible is powerful and God-breathed, but as we read it we must keep in mind that it is only a way of getting to know God! Getting to know God in a personal way goes much deeper than simply reading off a few verses and then rushing off to work or school. We need to not merely listen to the truth, but do what it says (James 1:22). And not only that, but we need to get to know the Truth as it really is, a person (Jesus), and get to know Him intimately and personally! Only then can we do what His Word says out of love for Him, and not out of false religion.

The truth is, you don’t get your life from the Bible, you get your life from Jesus! Here Jesus says in John 5:39-40: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

Come to Jesus to have life! Get to know Him in a personal way, through reading and soaking in His Word, and through constant, faith-filled prayer.

For me, having intimacy with God has changed everything about my life for the better. I have always felt a deep need inside me to be loved. To be valued. Cherished. Adored. Delighted in. Important and special to someone. I have often felt that, and always thought, unconsciously, that some man out there would be able to fulfill that longing in my heart, someday.

Lately I have been pondering it more. No matter what “perfect” fantasy I have of the man I marry (when I am not taking my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ as it says to in 2 Cor. 10:5), the Only one who can truly make that fantasy become a reality is God Himself. He doesn’t romance our hormones; He romances our heart and soul, our entire beings!

Get beyond the ideas of sex and romance culture imposes on us and listen to the heart of God, to the dream that He allows for us to come true: being intimately known and loved by Him, and given the offer to intimately know and love Him in return.

This is SO much better than earthly romance! Really. I have experienced it myself, and it is soooo true! Being laid bare before God can at first seem intimidating, frightening, and far too vulnerable, but you will soon find that your vulnerability leads to deeper trust in Him, because as it turns out, God doesn’t hurt us when we are painfully honest with Him. Instead, He leads us patiently out of our sin and into paths of life, joy, and peace, one step at a time.

I feel the Spirit weighing these words on my heart, so once again, I will say, with greatest sincerity and tenderness, Beloved: God doesn’t hurt you. He doesn’t hurt you in your honest, raw, naked moment. He knows all about you, but He doesn’t hurt you. Unlike every other human relationship, we can get close to God without Him hurting us with words or deeds at any moment. And not only is it in His entire nature to never hurt you, His child, but He graciously covers you with the blood of Jesus and fully accepts you into His family. Trust in the good Father, who wants nothing but to lavish good things on you! (Matthew 7:11)

I have come to a point where I often (not always) feel intimate with God. I am sensitive to His Spirit, and I pray to Him often. I have moments of deep peace and joy, where God lifts my burdens and gives rest to my weary soul. I have moments where God speaks to me about a specific area of my life that I need to bring to His loving gaze for mending and repair. I have moments where God reveals His truth to me in a powerful way that greatly encourages my heart.

I know God, and I love Him, and somehow He accepts me, in spite of my imperfections. Somehow He speaks to me and encourages me and helps me. Somehow He delights in me, and there are moments where I am deeply aware of His delight, and filled with His love. I am far from perfect, but God cleanses me daily through Jesus’ blood, allowing me to have unbridled, deep intimacy with Him.

It is a wonder to me that I have come this far in intimacy with Him, and yet it is not overly surprising, considering that I have often asked God for more of Himself. He is always willing and gracious to answer prayers like that, so I encourage you: press into God, and ask for more of Him in your life! You won’t be sorry you did, and I mean that with all my heart! He wants your whole heart and your full attention, Beloved. And He is so, soooo worth it!

Because I have experienced the beauty and power of being intimate with God, I want others to experience intimacy with Him, too. No longer am I bound by chains of perfectionism. It’s not about me anymore. It’s all about Him! I want others to have this, too.

Intimacy with God changes everything. Because I am in relationship with Him, I want nothing more than to know Him, to love Him, and to do what He says. And because I am in relationship with Him, I can do what He says. I have the ability! After all, I am not relying on my own ability anymore, but on His enabling Spirit that works within me day by day, by His grace alone! Praise God!!! Thank you, Jesus!!! Amen.

OK, maybe you get the idea by this time: developing an intimate relationship with God is super important. And not only it is important, it is life-changing. The God of the universe “yadas” (intimately knows) you, and now it’s time for you to “yada” Him.

So, now you might be wondering, how do I do that? How do I begin to have intimacy with God?

Well, come back next week to find out! Because this is such an important topic, I have split this topic into 5 sections: “What is Intimacy?,” “Let God Break Down Your Defenses”, “Be Totally and Completely Honest with Him”, “Want Him More than Anything”, “How to Abide, Remain, and Rest in Him At All Times.” I might change things up once I start writing, but this is what it’s looking like at least for now.

Today, begin to trust Him. Begin to get to know Him. Begin to love Him like never before. Today is the day to draw near to God, to go deeper than you ever have before! He is waiting for you. He is waiting for you with hopeful anticipation. He is waiting for you to begin your adventure and romance with Him and to continue with Him for a lifetime, and even afterwards, into all eternity.

I hope you enjoy this song, and have a Spirit-filled, intimate day with the Lord!