Does Your Heart Skip-a-Beat When You Think About Failing?

When You Think of Failure Does Your Heart Skip-A-Beat?

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

Does your heart skip-a-beat when you think of failing?

Do you get anxious? Does the idea of failure create dread and fear in your being?

Many people, especially those with a Type A personality and who struggle with perfectionism, do not like to fail. They dislike failure so much that it can cause them to fear failure. Not only do they fear failure, but they also fear discomfort. They often find themselves in a vicious cycle, where they move from fearing failure to fearing the hurt inside them.

The fear of failure is a byproduct of the Spirit of Fear, and it is a greater struggle for those who struggle with perfectionism. When you struggle with perfectionistic thinking, you can easily find yourself with all-or-nothing thinking, following society’s rigid “shoulds,” fear of discomfort, unrealistic expectations, and fear of failure.

Therefore, when someone fears failure, there is a strong and deep-rooted belief that failure means they are not worth loving, that they suck, are stupid, and can never be wrong. Notice how the devil is tricking them! Essentially, these individuals believe love is earned based on one’s actions instead of freely given. And, if they mess up, that’s it for them. They are out, believing no one will accept them or love them for not being perfect.

Does this sound familiar?

However, what if you started to see failure as your friend as opposed to your foe? What if you flipped your beliefs about failure on the devil himself and saw failure as feedback or even God intervening?

What if you saw failure and success working together versus against one another?

Failure is not the opposite of success but part of success.

There is not a person on this planet who hasn’t experienced failure of some sort, but perhaps the ultimate failure is quitting.

What if you saw failure as feedback as opposed to a final destination that has grave consequences?

It is pretty funny how we see failure in the light of trepidation. The idea of failing causes some to freeze, flee, or fight. But, if you see failure as a tool that helps you recalibrate to try a new approach, you open up so many more possibilities.

Oh, and that motivation that is driven by fear as opposed to encouraged by faith disappears too! Besides, the fear of failure usually is a belief that we will never get o our goal, that we messed up, and now we are forever doomed!

Um... Hello, we serve a loving and POWERFUL Father who can redeem everything!

For instance, if you are playing darts and notice your throw is not getting you the numbers you want – you typically start to change how you throw the dart. You’re hoping the tweak in your throws gets you a more desirable result. Based on your results, you use that feedback to recalibrate and change your tactic. Failure offers powerful insight into information through feedback, which allows you to continue attempting to get the desired results while applying the newfound insights.

 

But, what if that failure was a success if you saw it from a higher point of view? Meaning, what if what you see as failure God sees as successful and all part of His grander plan – what would that do for you?

 

Besides, God knew you were going to do what you did. You don’t think He planned for it and included mercy, grace, and redemption in His will for your life?

I think, sometimes, what we see as failure, God sees as success. We have to remember that God’s ways are the opposite of the world, and sometimes His ways do not make complete sense at first.

Think about it. When Jesus was on the cross, how many people do you think believed they were “winning” and succeeding in destroying Jesus’ ministry? The devil thought he had won too. I think it’s fair to say for many, seeing Jesus on the cross didn’t represent Jesus as winning but failing or losing. However, as the world saw it, that failure was God’s most remarkable success for humanity!

Again, maybe what you qualify as a “failure” or “messing” up is actually exactly where God wants you to be!

As I thought about this insight, it made me realize that humans will sometimes see themselves as “failing” when in reality, God sees us as winning.

Perhaps we only conclude a failure to be a failure because we didn’t receive the results we expected and hoped to see. That’s EXACTLY what unfilled expectations create in us – frustration, disappointment, and even anger!

Yet, I wonder – did you ask God if that is what He wanted you to do? Did you ask if God saw that as a success or failure?

Likewise, I wonder how many times I have succeeded in my eyes, but God sees it as a failure. Have you ever wondered this?

As believers and followers in Christ, our definitions of success and failure are different than the world. Joshua 1:8 declares how we can be successful in God’s eye.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Joshua 1:9).

Psalm 1: 2 also states how God sees success:

But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.

The world defines success as having lots of money in the bank, looking a certain way, having many friends, popularity, exotic travel, a large following, and being publicly known for something. Please know NONE of that will survive the purging process Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 3:13:

But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person's work has any value.

However, God defines success as staying committed to following Jesus, keeping one’s mind focused on what the Bible says, and obeying God.

Maybe that failure in your eyes is a win for God!

Next time you find yourself wanting to kick yourself or complain because you “failed,” ask God what His opinion is. If it’s in God’s will for you, you can do it (Philippians 4:13). Now make sure you wait on His time because it’s perfect! Maybe that failure is what is needed to put you precisely in the right place. If that’s the case, that’s a win!

Be mindful of what you see as success or failure. Stay aware of how you define success and failure. Remember to acknowledge and ask the Father what you should always do.

Psalm 37:23-24 NLT

The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.

Prayer:Father God, thank You for loving me. Thank You for giving Your begotten Son for my life. Father, help me to discern what is failure and success in Your eyes. Please remind me that when I fail to hit my worldly goal, I can trust You and that Your ways and plans are perfect. Father, I want to see success as you see success. Please help me to acknowledge You in everything I do. Guide my steps and give me the wisdom and discernment to know when to move or change directions. When I feel I have failed, Father, remind me of the truth and help me give myself the same grace You give me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Where Does Jesus Need to Calm the Storm in Your Life?

Where Does Jesus Need to Calm the Storm in Your Life?

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

In Matthew 8:23-27, Matthew shows Jesus Christ’s power over the natural world. The fact Jesus could do such is a miracle! Let’s look at the verses:

Jesus Calms the Storm:

23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”

Jesus and His disciple were crossing to the other side of Galilee in a boat. Most likely, the boat was a fishing boat, as many of His disciples were fishermen. The Sea of Galilee is a unique body of water – stretching 13 miles long, 7 miles wide, and 150-feet deep. The shoreline is 680 feet below sea level.

It’s not unusual for large, intense storms to suddenly appear, creating waves that can get up to twenty feet tall. Seeing as the disciples were professional fishermen, it is important to note they did not intentionally set out to sea in the middle of a storm. In fact, they were traveling at night, which significantly lowered the risk of running into a storm.

When the disciples realized they were facing a furious storm with waves breaking into the boat, they knew their danger was real.

How would you feel being in a boat with waves towering over you?

What the disciples failed to remember was who they were following and who was in the boat!

As the disciples were panicking about the storm, Jesus was in the boat sleeping. To sleep through this storm implies how exhausted Jesus was from His earthly ministry duties as well as His human nature.

Of course, the disciples seeing Jesus sleeping most likely only created more panic within their souls. Filled with panic, fear, and uncertainty, they frantically ran to wake up Jesus shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Can you imagine how the exhausted Jesus must have felt as He was rudely and abruptly awoken?

Personally, I imagine Him being awoken like how a terrified young child may wake their mother, but on steroids. There’s no logic running through their minds, only fear!

Perhaps they were feeling hopeless, believing only Jesus could do something about the matter.

One can only suspect how frustrated Jesus was with His disciples’ growth. We know He was not in the best of moods when He awoke because the first thing Jesus does is rebukes His disciples by saying You of little faith.

The disciples were very familiar and aware of Jesus’ power and authority at this point. The reality is the disciples could have very well calmed that storm too. They had failed to take their knowledge and understanding of His power and apply it to the situation. Such thinking most likely prompted Jesus to ask, why are you so afraid?

The disciples wanted Jesus to fix the problem, and Jesus wanted His disciples to trust Him. How many times have you been in a similar situation?

One discipleship pointer we learn from these scriptures is that there is NO ROOM FOR FEAR if you want to be a true disciple. Of course, it takes time to grow, renew your mind, and mature in this area, but for you to do that, you have to take ownership and accountability of that fear if it’s showing up in your life.

The actions the disciples showcased were more a result of a lack of faith or disbelief. The Greek word for “afraid” (diloi) means “cowardly fear.”

YIKES!

Can you imagine the sting of Jesus calling you out like that? He was and is the truth, and that truth had to sting for His disciples, just like it does for us when He calls us out for our sin. Thankfully, He quickly forgives us when we acknowledge our misstep(s).

Jesus wanted them to see that they were acting like cowards when they needed to have acted with their faith in their teacher. They needed to see with their spiritual eyes, not their carnal minds. We see that even though the disciples had witnessed Jesus do mighty and godly acts, they still had not grasped that Jesus was God and had God’s power over all of creation.

Nonetheless, Jesus stepped up to the plate. Where you are weak, He is strong. Jesus stood in the stern of the rocking boat and rebuked the storm. And, “just like that,” the storm stopped! Proof that Jesus is never out of control! Immediately the disciples were amazed. They were still questioning and failing to grasp who the mighty Jesus was.

When Matthew recorded this event, Christian persecution was beginning. Many see this story as an analogy of the persecution and trials of the early church. However, we can take it one step further, too.

Storms are going to come in this life – both figuratively and literally. As believers, we must remember that our peace does not come from that storm being gone BUT from a relationship with Jesus. Believing and holding on to the truth that Jesus has ALL the power over ALL the storms can bring tremendous tranquility if you let it.

Our souls become troubled when we see a situation not going the way we hoped it would. Quickly we can become frustrated, discouraged, and even hopeless when it appears to our human minds that it will never end or go the way we prefer. In these times, it is easy to have a tantrum in front of God – crying out to Him, pleading with Him, and begging Him to know why He’s not doing what YOU think is best in the matter and when YOU think it’s the best time.

However, when you truly realize who God is and that He controls both the storms of nature and the storms of our troubled heart – your contentment, faith, trust, and hope in Him will prevail.

Jesus’ power calmed the storm immediately! He can also help you deal with the problems you face. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask for His help!

Other times, you will need to have patience, trusting that His timing and ways are the best. It can take time for your mind to be renewed. In those moments, when your soul is breaking because you feel you are never going to get your problem solved, remember these things:

If you will delight in Him honestly and sincerely, He gives you the desires of your heart (Ps. 37:4), and His ways are tremendously more satisfying than yours.

Remember, God doesn’t want your heart to be troubled (John 14:1). He wants you to trust Him instead. In those moments, say this, I refuse to let my heart be troubled. Instead, I cast all my cares on to Him (John 14:1;1 Peter 5:7).

Choose to be content and grateful where you are.

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT).

Next time you are facing a life storm, remember Jesus is still the master! He is in your boat with you! You are not alone. He may not stop the storm when you want Him to, but sooner or later, the storm will cease.

Here are a few key lessons:

  1. Sometimes the only person who can do something about the matter is Jesus. Choose to trust Him. Keep praying. And don’t give up hope.

  2. No matter how bad it appears to your human mind, God is in control.

  3. Jesus has drastically more resources than you do. It’s not over until He says it’s over. He makes the impossible possible.

  4. Those hopeless situations are the best situations to trust in God’s preserving power. Choose to grow from them.

You have the ultimate power, and it Is Jesus Christ. Trust Him. Stay Obedient and focused on Him! Believers get the final Victory!

Prayer: Father God, In moments of weakness, temptation, tremendous storms, and the sufferings or pains of life, do not let me lose sight of You or what is important. Father, I know it is easier to be devoured by the devil when I am exhausted, facing danger, and consumed by emotion. Teach me how to be strong. Please do what you must to grow my faith and help me to remember you are my everything. Would you please help me to remember You are in my boat during EVERY storm I must embrace? I do not want to be fooled or let my guard down to the enemy’s ways, but I know you are strong in my weakness. Father, help me to learn how to navigate every storm of life through Your Son. If You will not stop the storm, then use the storm to make me more like Christ. Your Word says I am to do greater works than He did (John 14:12). I want to honor and live that verse. Teach me how to operate in Jesus’ authority and use every storm to do that. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Where is your focus? Is it on Jesus’ peace or the world’s worry

Where is your focus? Is it on Jesus' peace or the world's worry

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

I think it is fair to say a lot has occurred in the last two years. The world is very different from what it once was. With the ever-changing COVID news, the vaccine, and what is occurring in Afghanistan, it is hard not to think about the future! There are many unknowns that many of us find ourselves wondering about, stressing over, and ultimately freaking out about.

Perhaps you are finding yourself catastrophizing – projecting what you hope not to see in the future. Or maybe you cannot sleep at night because your mind is so concerned with the realities of tomorrow, in three days or a month.

When you find yourself worrying about the unknown, afraid of the unknown, or not having peace about the future, the Bible calls this the Fear of the Unknown of the Fear of Tomorrow.

The Fear of the Unknown is very real! It can create insomnia, steal your peace, increase your worry, stress, and anxiety, and even cause you to be paralyzed with fear. However, as believers, we must hold on to the truth that our Father in heaven did not give us a Spirit of Fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). Since He did not give us the Fear of the Unknown, we must keep God’s armor on us and defeat this lying spirit.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus teaches about worry. Let’s take a look:

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today (NLT).

First off, the command “do not worry” does not mean you have a complete lack of concern. God knows you will have concerns, which is why He asks you to cast them on to Him because He cares (1 Peter 5:7). Additionally, that command is not encouraging a person to be unwilling to work and supply their own needs. God cannot bless sin. He tells us to work and live within our means.

Please note that concern motivates a person into action, whether praying to God or being obedient to what God says to do. At the same time, worry keeps a person motivated by fear causing them to hyperfocus and harp on things they do not want to see in the future or things that they cannot change. As followers of Christ, we are not to be self-sufficient but to rely on the Godhead!

Ultimately, Jesus is highlighting kingdom priorities! He is telling us what attitude towards life that His disciples MUST exemplify. Jesus reminds His disciples that they do not need to OVERLY worry about food or clothing because God will take care of them. After all, they are more important than the birds and the lilies. Jesus is trying to get us to see the bottom line here: disciples of Christ need never to let their fleshly desires of worrying about clothes or food take precedence over serving God.

You can trust God to provide food and clothing! He knows what you need, and He will give it to you at the perfect time! Even that money you are working for comes from God! It all comes from Him.

When you worry about what you will eat or wear, do you know what you are telling God? You are telling Him that you don’t trust Him to supply your most basic needs! If you do not trust God to supply your most basic needs, then how can you trust Him with His promise in Jeremiah 29:11?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).

Worry causes a person to pay attention to all the elements they cannot change instead of putting their energies to work in effective ways. Jesus makes it very clear there is nothing effective about worrying! Do you know what worry does?

When you worry, a dual temptation is put into motion. First, you begin distrusting God and what His promises are. Remember, God cannot lie, so you are calling God a liar in turn and unintentionally. The second temptation is you begin to agree with Fear as a practical action. You start to feel like you are proactive while agreeing with those fear-filled, demonic thoughts. What is the end result? You become double-minded and begin trusting the devil more than God. That is a dangerous place to be. When the devil has you on the hook, it’s easier for him to take you down even further or even devour you completely.

Whereas when you trust God in those moments of concern, casting those concerns on to Him, and believing through faith that He will come through at the perfect time, you also move into action. This is how deceptive the devil can be. He wants you to believe trusting in God is not the same type of action as agreeing with his Fear thoughts. Isn’t it amazing how he perverts the truth to trick us? Agreeing with God and His word takes less mental energy than choosing to agree with the devil and spending your bandwidth consumed with what you don’t want to see happen or have no control over.

When you work for God and wait on His timing, you won’t have time to worry! Seeking first to honor God as King and conform your life to His righteousness creates a vortex around you. When worry comes knocking on that vortex, it will always find you as occupied and unavailable. Can you say VICTORY?

When you find yourself worrying or afraid of the unknown, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, take note as that worrying indicates that you do not trust God in that area. Rejoice over this understanding because now you can go to the Father in prayer, discuss the matter, work to renew your mind to trust Him, and ultimately trust Him! Adversity is an opportunity to grow in God’s love, power, and authority, not crumble surrendering to the devil.

In verse 26, Jesus is teaching the disciples about TOTAL dependency upon God instead of humanity’s self-sufficiency. It’s easy to find yourself believing your future, finances, decisions, and anything else only depends on you and you alone. Again, that is a lie from hell! As believers, we are to depend completely on God! Besides, all you have comes from God. He will provide for your needs. He will give you a great future.

When you find yourself worried about the future, your finances, what you should eat or drink, change your focus. Perhaps you might be thinking, “Well, why is anyone hungry then?” Well, that’s a great question. But notice Jesus was not teaching that every case of hunger will be satisfied. He was teaching us to focus our minds, channeling our efforts and directing our energies not to mere bodily maintenance or things that give us pleasure, but to God’s eternal promises and purpose! Besides, man is not to live on bread alone (Matthew 4:4). Next time you find yourself worrying, ask yourself:

How can I become less worried about money and more focused on serving the church, visiting the sick, and learning the Bible?

Plus, doctors finally agree with Jesus about the ill effects worrying causes. In verse 27, Jesus tells us not to worry about those needs God promises to supply! What has worrying accomplished for you? It has accomplished absolutely nothing constructive for me. However, it has created more oppression, problems, and hardship in my life. Hmm, that sounds like someone… oh right – the devil does that!

It is common for people in today’s world to feel “lazy” while waiting for God to supply. In reality, you are working to grow your patience (fruit of the Holy Spirit), teaching your soul, and developing your spirit to place your life and needs in God’s hands!

The bottom line is worry has no place in the lives of Jesus’ disciples. It is the unbelievers who choose to showcase the fruit of worry. The followers of Christ have kingdom principles and a favored relationship with the mighty King, sealed with a promise that our Heavenly Father knows our needs and will provide them.

If you are finding yourself worrying, then see the worrying behavior as an opportunity to settle the question of priorities in your life! When you become a born-again believer, you enter a new kingdom and come from a new world! That means you are to be different than unbelievers whose priorities are comfort, money, fashion, security, technology, popularity, or whatever the trend is for that season.

In Matthew 6:33, when Jesus says “seek,” He says that is a command to fulfill a continuous obligation. To seek the kingdom means both to submit to God’s sovereignty here and now and to work for the future coming of His kingdom. When Jesus says “to seek his righteousness,” Jesus is saying to seek and to live as God requires. He is telling us we have to be completely and totally loyal and committed to the Father. When you are fully loyal, you will turn to God first for help. You will work to fill your thoughts with His desires. You will take His character and emulate it. You will serve and obey Him in everything.

Remember, all worldly things compete for priority. Any of them can easily and quickly bump God out of first place in every area of your life. When your priorities are right, all things shall be added to you! Are you consistently looking for ways to honor, represent, and always remember who your Lord and Savior is?

At the end of the day, you do not yet exist in the time frame of tomorrow. You are not even guaranteed to be alive tomorrow. You must remember to stay present. The truth is you exist right here, right now and today has its own matters that God is asking you to attend too. Do yourself a favor and continue practicing taking your thoughts captive. Tell those thoughts that you do not yet exist in the future. Today has its own agenda – choose to be a good steward of today!

Verses to bury in your heart:

Anxiety, Fear, and Worry:

Philippians 4:6 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

John 14:1; 1 Peter 5:7 – I refuse to let my heart be troubled, instead I cast all my cares on to Him because He cares for me.

Matthew 6:34 – I do not worry about tomorrow but stay present to today. For tomorrow has its own worries and today’s trouble is enough. For I exist right here, right now. I am trusting God with all of my needs and my life.

Sleep:

Psalm 56: 3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Psalm 23: 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Psalm 3: 5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.

Prayer:Father God, thank You for all Your promises and everlasting life. I come to You in prayer asking for Your help and guidance. Please help me to trust You as Lord in every area of my life. Please take away my fears and help me defeat the thoughts I have. I want to trust You with everything. Please help me to see that I can trust You with my life. Help me to believe that You will take care of me and that I am more important to You than the birds and flowers. Father, I know You love you, and I only want to do Your will in my life. I know I do not always trust You with my future and I am so sorry for that. Please help me to change my thinking and trust You in everything! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Are You Asking for Jesus’ Saving Help?

Are You Asking for Jesus' Saving Help?

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

Jesus was coming down from the mountainside after finishing His Sermon on the Mount (Ch. 5-7). At this point in His ministry, it was common for large crowds to follow Him wherever He went because of the authority He spoke when teaching.

Let’s say people couldn’t get enough of His captivating teachings because of the drawing power. Ironically, the truth is self-verifying. Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth and may even dismiss it, but one cannot forget the truth!

As Jesus was coming down from the mountainside, a man SUDDENLY approached Jesus. The man wasn’t any man, but a man society saw as an outcast. The man was suffering from leprosy. Some people say you can think of leprosy as today’s version of AIDS. Similarly, it’s a terrifying disease with no humanly discovered cure.

Now the Greek word for “leprosy” was used for various similar diseases affecting the skin. Some of these diseases were highly contagious. Just like today, people were terrified of getting sick. It seems not much has changed in the years from Jesus’ crucifixion to now.

 Here’s how your life went if you were declared a leper:

  • First, a priest would declare if the disease was leprosy or not. (Back then, priests, under the Law of Moses, also served as physicians).

  • Once the priest confirmed it was leprosy, you were banished from your home and city. You couldn’t see your family either.

  • According to Leviticus 13-14, you were excluded from any social or religious acts.

  • You went and lived with other lepers until you got better or died.

  • You were considered and treated like you were “unclean.”

Now, perhaps the leper had overheard the Sermon on the Mount from a far distance. Maybe he was so overwhelmed with Jesus’ powerful words that the leper thought, “Surely a man speaking with such godly power and authority had God’s power inside of Him to heal me.” Of course, we can only speculate his thoughts. What we do know is that the leper desperately wanted to be healed. We also know he was bold and courageous enough to approach Jesus. Nevertheless, this brave man “knelt (worshipped) before Him.” He asked, “Lord, if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean(Matthew 8:2).

The leper took a huge risk coming to Jesus. What we can gather from the leper kneeling before Jesus is his great desperation, humility, and recognition of Jesus’ authority. It is not just the leper’s actions that display such truth. His words also revealed his faith! When the leper said to Jesus, “if You are willing,” – those words revealed the man’s faith and trust in Jesus’ authority and power in the matter of healing. The fact he said “if You are willing”suggests that the leper was allowing Jesus to decide his fate. Sense the leper was willing to accept whatever Jesus was willing to give him, it shows that the leper only wanted God’s will to be done in the matter.

He knew that if his disease could disappear, a priest could then declare him cured, but only Jesus could make him clean. The leper understood the HUGE request he was asking of Jesus. But, for the leper, it was worth it. He was hungry to be free from his chains, have his life back, and be reunited with his family and community. Notice all those things are also what God wants for us too!

The leper knew Jesus had healing power (Matthew 4:24). The only question was would Jesus heal him?

Notice the desperate plea of this man. He had a point of need. It was a need that was far beyond his control. A person’s point of need could be anything from physical illness, loneliness, finances to defeating the recurring sin in our lives!

Doesn't God often use our point of needs as a place in which He leverages to make Himself known?

Guess what Jesus did!

He reached out His hand, touched the man, and said, I am willing. Be clean (Matthew 8:3).” Now, remember if you had leprosy, you were untouchable. No one was going to touch you out of FEAR of getting the infectious disease. The fact that Jesus touched the leper shows Jesus’ love, power, and His heart of compassion. Jesus also showcases His sovereignty over the Jewish law, which clearly stated no one was to touch a leper! Again, what Jesus did shows that He did not follow the law when it contradicted His Father’s way.

Do not let what the world says control you! Let God's Word control you!

Miraculously and instantaneously, the leper was clean! The man got his life back – he could return to society and his family. Jesus gives life. He wants us all to be healed and in a relationship with Him.

Jesus was willing and able to meet the social outcast’s most basic need. If He is willing to meet the leper’s need, don’t you think He will meet yours too if you ask and believe?

Now maybe you’re thinking, “Well, I don’t have leprosy. How does this relate to my life?” Well, good, I’m glad you don’t have leprosy! But you do sin. Similar to leprosy, sin is also humanly incurable. Likewise, only Jesus’ healing touch can miraculously take away our sins and restore us to really living.

Notice the leper came to Jesus and asked Jesus to do what He thought was best about what was going on in His life. The leper wanted Jesus’ will to play out in His life. The leper knew he could not cure himself and could only ask for Jesus’ help. We have to do the same. We must realize we need Jesus’ help. We have to realize that we cannot heal ourselves and that only Jesus can.

Our Savior has the power to cleanse anyone and everyone from the life-sucking disease of sin. Jesus, and He alone, has the qualifying authority and power to cleanse a person from sin, empowering them to be a worshiper!

Do you know what two warnings Jesus gave the healed leper?

  1. To not tell anyone about what just happened

  2. To go to the priest and let him examine you

Jesus told the leper not to tell anyone of this great miracle because He knew better (John 2:24-25). Jesus was not finished with His apostleship, His mission. He was to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God. At this time in Jesus’ ministry, He didn’t want people constantly coming to Him for a miracle or only to benefit from His powers. Jesus wasn’t interested in being a miracle worker. He wanted to be people’s Savior! Ultimately, He wished to keep His full messiahship hidden until after the Resurrection.

Likewise, sometimes we have to keep our bigger goals, or the plans God has shared with us, individually, a secret because people may not understand or may get in the way.

Jesus wanted the man to go right to the priest to give his testimony. He wanted the priest to declare the leper healed, allowing him to be restored to his community. Jesus showed religious authorities that he was not anti-law but that He was the only one who could fulfill the law. The healed man’s testimony would highlight the truth – that the one who heals lepers had come. People believe this was one of the signs of the Messiah (Matthew 11:5).

In closing:

  • Where is God using your need(s) to draw your attention to Him?

  • Where are you not turning to God with your needs?

  • When was the last time you confessed your need for God?

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your everlasting grace and love. I ask You to show me where I need my attention drawn to You. God help me to see where I am not turning to You for my needs but to the world. Father, if I am living out of Your will in any area, please make that come real to me. Help me to live Your will for my life and no one else’s. Thank You for your grace, hope, faith, and unconditional love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

At the right time…

At the Right Time...

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)!

We live in a fast-paced world that screams GO, GO, GO! Yet, God says, “Be Still.”

It’s no surprise that once again, His way is the opposite of the world. Yes, He wants you to tend to your responsibilities, but it’s a balance. “Doing” is a part of life, but, for many, it is their only way of life.

Here’s the thing, being still with God is where marvelous, supernatural things occur. These things are way better than the “GO, GO, GO” lifestyle the world screams.

 Do you know what happens when you are still with God?

      • Your relationship begins to grow because you learn His voice quicker

      • Prayers are answered

      • Your faith enhances

      • You’re renewing your mind to think about Him before anything else!

      • You remind yourself why you are here – to worship the Lord and not follow the world!

Ultimately, being still with God reminds you that the Lord is God! When you are still before the Lord, you show Him and yourself that He is truly in control. It’s so easy to rely on our own strengths or find ourselves being still with idolatries like the gym, watching sports, that addiction, or whatever excuses or habits take precedents over spending time with the Lord. It’s also that much more effortless to sheepishly find ourselves walking the ways of the world following the wrong shepherd!

Part of walking with Christ requires being still with the Lord. Just like discipleship means learning to persevere until the end, keeping our eyes on Him! Here’s the thing being still with the Lord is really relaxing with Him. This means you could read a Christ-honoring book and invite the Lord in to the read or lay on the couch having a conversation with Him, or maybe it’s just being quiet with Him with your dog by your side. Being still with God is simply relaxing, being quiet and open with Him!

When you know that He is God, you trust His promises, plan, and you understand His character and the truth about who He is. This means it’s easier to let go of your plans (your will) – you know the ones you have been chasing after and stressing over. When you trust God, it’s easier to let go of what is frustrating, scarring, disappointing, or whatever-ing you because you believe without a doubt that His plans will come through in your life. You believe whatever plans God has for you will be better than anything you could imagine!

Living faithful to God means you trust His sovereignty and believe His way is the best!

Admittedly, I have not done the best job of sharing who I am with you. I take sharing the gospel very seriously, and I never want to share anything that is not accurate, which is why I aggregate commentaries, the Greek, and the Hebrew and keep my thoughts limited. I hope to share a bit of me with you in this letter, and I will share more in the future!

I am very passionate about Jesus. I spend all my wakening hours thinking about Him and learning about the Godhead. Sometimes, I get so frustrated because I want to grow this ministry so badly, but sometimes I feel very stuck on how. I, too, can fall into that trap of perfectionistic thinking, focusing on doing everything “right” instead of obediently focusing and doing what Christ is asking. Some days I find myself checking in with God and arguing with Him about what He wants me to do. Then I’m reminded that He is in control and that I will share the gospel regardless of what happens because I am so passionate about living for Christ. Every day I run into someone desperate to get out of their bondage and is looking in all the wrong areas for freedom. All I want to do is help people walk into freedom, share God’s love and truth, and encourage everyone to be BOLD for Christ – to be a Warrior!

The other day, I experienced tremendous presence with the Father.

I was still with God after a hectic few weeks, and it was amazing. In that moment of being still and choosing to shut my overactive brain off, I learned being with Him is where answered prayers can quickly come!

I was relaxing reading a great book about the women of the Bible. The book is called The Women of the Bible Speak: The Wisdom of 16 Women and Their Lessons for Today. It’s incredible. (Click the title to purchase the book – Renew will receive a small commission, but it does not change the price of the book).

As I spent time thinking about God, reflecting about what I was reading, and being with God, He quietly answers a prayer of mine. The prayer is answered out of nowhere too. He shows me how to do something I have been asking, seeking, and knocking for the answer for over a year now, if not longer.

After hearing His answer and leveraging hindsight, I believe He once whispered it to me before, but pridefully I disobeyed – not understanding all that I now do. I have been persistently asking Him for guidance and chose not to stop until I got some answer – direction or a change in heart.

Ah, the answer - direction - the response I hoped for! Praise Jesus!

Immediately a peaceful, freeing, and joyfulness transcended over me, manifesting in a sparkly grin 😄. Oh, He (God) is so good,” I thought! Just like that – it all makes a bit more sense. Just like that, I trust Him a bit more to be so good and marvelous.

The answer to my prayer blessed me on so many levels. It felt as if I “advanced” a step forward in the game we call life. I think to myself joyfully; Now, I’m that much closer to understanding what all of what He’s doing in my life means and looks like.

Have you been here? You know where you believe with all your might He has amazing plans for you, and you just want to know what the end result looks like, so you know what “moves” to make?

I am juggling the most “balls” I ever had to in my life, and I try to remain grateful and content. But, I would be lying if I didn’t feel overwhelmed by all my responsibilities. I find myself consistently praying if God wants me to do them all, and each time I get a “yes.”

Therefore, I believed there was a better way to manage it all. But I couldn’t think 🤔 of it, good thing God’s all-knowing.

Paul is so right – in our weakness, He is so very strong! I was about to give up. I was unsure if He even wanted me to do what I believed He called me to do. I told myself, “I give up on life.” Heck, I even texted my husband saying, I give up! I was done. I was tired.

However, what I was truthfully saying was this: “Here you go, Daddy. It’s yours completely. Do what you want with it.” I gave it all to Him vs. spending bandwidth constantly chewing on how I (emphasis on the “I“) was going to do everything on my plate successfully. At the time, I didn’t realize I was forfeiting doing it my way. I didn’t even know I was doing it my way until I sat and was still with Him, knowing He was God!

Have you been here?

It’s so easy to believe you have surrendered the “care” to Him, all while fearfully strategizing how you will do it. Unconsciously, you take the ball, running away from the most extraordinary quarterback to live! Only to stop, look back, and see that you ran off the field.

No, I’m not saying don’t be proactive. I’m simply saying that worrying is not being proactive.

There’s a time when you trust God will help you figure it out, remaining diligent and focused on the present tasks at hand (including being) and being free from the stress of the “care.” Likewise, there’s the lying 🤥 belief you’ve surrendered the “care” to God, when in reality, the “care” is weighing you down, stressing you out, and destroying the peace in your life.

Don't be fooled!

The devil is prowling like a lion 🦁 – pride keeps you vulnerable. Doing it your way is pride. Forcing the situation and being stressed out because you are not getting what YOU want is also being prideful. You have made yourself your god! Don’t worry, I have done this many times too, but each time I cry out to the Father, asking Him to help me not do that again. Every time He brings me back into the plan and grows me. God wastes nothing. He uses every moment to teach you if you let Him.

The last week and a half have been rough for me. Lots of strangeness occurring around me accompanied by odd symptoms I thought I had ultimately walked out of. Full of disappointment, I admit such thinking is not what I encourage others to uphold. I’m human too. I do badly want to be “perfect” always doing the right thing. Still, as God reminds me right before He answers one of my prayers🙏🏼, “no human is either entirely good or bad, but complex and that it’s My love that carries you through and forgives you bringing you into eternity with Me.” There are so many people in the Bible that were “complex.” But those complex people who God chose had a willing and open heart.

Sometimes we try to bring God’s will down to earth outside of His time frame, but He forgives us. He loves His children so much that even when we “act out,” He still keeps His promise.

If you don’t believe me, look at Sarah! How many times did Sarah try to advance God’s will without God in the picture? Sarah didn’t treat Hagar godly, but God still used her to do incredible things for His people. Don’t buy the lies that that one mess up will cost you your future with God. He can redeem all. Keep your heart open to Him, your eyes fixed on Him, and humble yourself to do what He says when He says. It’s obedience that matters.

Stay hopeful God loves you, and you don’t have to be perfect. God is faithful. At the right time, He answers prayers. At the right time, His healing manifests. At the right time, His favor comes upon you! At the right time, your understanding deepens. At the right time, your bondage breaks. At the right time, you see His time is perfect! His plans always prevail at the right time!

Remember freedom, peace, joy, and love always come. He's for you! Choose to make time to be still with God each day!

Prayer: Father God, I see how important it is to be still with you. Help me to make time each day to be still with You. Help me to think and do Your way in life and not my own. Today I ask that You show me how I can be still with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen

A God Story: My Obedient Walk to the Castle 🏰

A God Story: My Obedient Walk
to the Castle 🏰

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

Trusting God does not mean believing he will do what you want, but rather believing he will do everything he knows is good.”

Ken Sande

Some days I find myself asking God just to come down and talk to me through a bush or a donkey. Some days, I feel like walking with Christ is a bit of a guessing game. Do you ever feel that way?

I am currently walking out of perfectionism and always wanting to do things right. Nonetheless, some days it feels like a real guessing game. I am more risk averse. I prefer to get it right and not mess up. Do you struggle with this too?

There are days where I feel like figuring out what God wants me to do is a guessing game, which is why I find myself sometimes wishing God would come down and tell me exactly what to do in a 1+1 =2 type of way. I like clearer directions that are not ambiguous.

I know our Father does speak to us. Jesus makes that very clear in John 10:27-28.

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

I, however, would sometimes like it to be a bit blunter and more confirmed if you get what I mean. Of course, where would faith and free will be if He did that all the time?

I promise you nothing can stop divine intervention, especially when one makes it their mission to keep seeking and knocking for God’s will (Matt 7:7-8). I want to tell you about a God story that happened to my husband and me this past April, which will also explain why two newsletters were missed. Please forgive me.

We were not planning to buy a house this year. We decided with my mom’s heart surgery, me still in school, and the amount of time we had lost with one another due to this year being so hectic, it was not worth it. Well, God had a different plan.

One day at the end of March, I woke up and felt the Lord tell me to get our family and my company taxes in order because we needed to buy a house. I was a bit confused, mainly because I was not prepared to buy a home this year, let alone in the area He wanted us to buy. I immediately responded to the Lord’s request, and by the end of that day, our taxes were filed, and by the next day, we were pre-approved to buy a house. I couldn’t believe how fast everything was!

When the finger of God is on you, it's incredible how quickly things get done sometimes!

If you have been paying attention to the real estate market over the last few months, you know it is highly emotional and irrational. When it was time for me to buy a house, I never thought the inventory would be as low and competitive as it currently is.

Usually, houses get listed each day, but like many, Richmond, Va.’s market was not like that. All new listings were released on Tuesday or Wednesday, and no new listings would be revealed until the following week when the previous listings were removed, assuming the listing was sold.

When we first started looking, there was only one house we could look at in our budget, and it was a lemon. I remember leaving that house, talking to God, saying, “Well, God, if this is the house you want us to have, then it will work, but this house doesn’t get me excited at all. Did I miss hear you, God?”

We continued to look at houses over the next few days, and everything was lame and terrifying. A few days later, I was becoming a bit overwhelmed with all variables you had to keep in mind, the price of square feet, how quickly houses were selling, and how much more people were paying over asking. At one point, our relator looked at us and said, “be prepared to pay up to 50,000 over asking if you like a house.” Like… say what now?

Each night, Austin, my husband, and I would pray for God’s will to be done. We prayed for the seller’s heart. We prayed that God would bring us the house that was right for us. In the meantime, we chose to be obedient to where God was leading us to.

Then five days after we started this process on Wednesday night, Austin and I were lying in bed looking through Realtor.com when God led me to the Castle. As I started to look at the pictures, I began to freak out with excitement. I looked at my husband and told him I had found our house! I was 100% sure it was ours too! Immediately His peace and confidence flooded me, assuming me it was in fact the house He had for us. Crazy, right? No, that’s just our Father!

I never had the worldly experience of saying “yes” to the wedding dress, but that is how that moment felt. It was like YES; this is our house – this is the house God has for us. The house was bigger and better than I ever thought I would get in a first house.

The house God brought to us was the perfect size to start and raise a family in, invite friends and family over, and such. It felt like the house was uniquely designed for me and my unique ways. It was love at first sight for us too, so much so that we nicked named our place “The Castle.” Why? Well, because the house sits at the end of a cul-de-sac on top of a hill overlooking all the other homes.

Long story short, we looked at the house the next day, put an offer in, and by Tuesday morning, we found out we were the new homeowners. We were excited that the Lord had blessed us with this home because eight other people had offers on this house. While I am delighted that the Lord brought us a more functional and larger home, the home itself is only part of the God story.

You see, I was a bit lost on which path the Lord wanted me to walk in April. I was getting persecuted for my faith at a company I contract with as a mental health coach, my mother was going through heart surgery, and I was falling behind in my duties at Renew Ministries.

Additionally, I was confused about growing Renew, if God even wanted me to continue with Renew Ministries, and what God wants this ministry to do and be. Yes, I was full of doubt and confusion. I felt very lost, but I knew the Lord was with me and would guide me. I kept praying and asking for direction, but I felt like it was not coming, and I grew impatient.

I realized that I was worried about how God would do His part – a part that I had no control over – when all I needed to focus on was being obedient to what I already knew to do. That is what buying a house taught me – great obedience and trust in the Father. My confidence in hearing the Lord grew. It was one of those moments where you want to shout to your mom and say, “Look, Mom, I’m doing it!”

Not once did I get stressed out about buying a house. Not once did I lose sleep over the place. I always knew it would be ours. The peace I had during the home buying process was surreal.

That is when it hit me. It wasn’t about getting it right per se. It was about DOING what God had asked me to do. It was about being proactive and responding to His requests, not thinking about the results of doing what He is asking.

The best way to describe it is to think of a sidewalk square with an “X” on it. The Lord told me to walk to a specific sidewalk square, and that is what I did. Wherever the Lord told me to go, I went, and I didn’t think, catastrophize, or worry about what the next step would be. I just responded to His requests. I knew He would tell me the next step once I got to the first step, and He always did. I had complete security in that. I remember the first house we looked at. God told us to go, and I was so confused, but God wanted to see how responsive and trusting of Him I would be.

My biggest takeaway from the house buying experience with God was how to efficiently be obedient to Him and not question Him or figure out how He would do His end. It’s not about thinking ahead and being strategic in months to come. It is about doing what God is asking you to do right now.

Every time I would go where God was asking me to go, the next request would be revealed, but I might not have been given that next step if I didn’t take the first step. It is so easy to allow the devil and the Spirit of Fear to overwhelm you, causing you not to move or project into the future everything you don’t want to happen. Yet, God’s asking you to trust Him, move when He tells you to move, and remember that you aren’t alone because He is always with you.

Where are you dragging your feet?
Where are you consciously being disobedient because you feel like you can’t do it or are unsure?
What will it take for you to choose to be obedient to the Father and do what He is asking?

In closing, we moved into the Castle in mid-June and then took the last week of June to celebrate my birthday and take a much-needed vacation. Unfortunately, with all the chaos and part of our house still being a construction zone, I lost track of time because sometimes life happens so fast. I apologize for that.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your everlasting, unconditional love. I know there are times I am not obedient to You, and I repent for that. Would you please help me always to move when You say move? I want to do Your will Father and not my own. I know You have good things in store for me, even if I don’t understand them. I know I can trust You with my life, and You will not let me out of Your hand. Would you please help me to do Your will with gladness? If I have missed moving or doing what You want me to do, please bring that to my attention. I want to be a Warrior in Your Kingdom. Grow me. Teach me. Equip me. Help me only to do Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Survival Secret #6: Never Take Your Armor Off

Survival Secret #6: Never Take Your Armor Off

Part 6 of 6 Survival Secrets to Successfully Battling the Storm

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

Oh that we would hunger to be filled with the Word of God; for there is no greater armor, no greater strength, no greater assurance that He is with us, and in us, when we go forth in battle equipped and nourished by His instruction and determined to stand firm on His promises.

Billy Graham

Good Morning, Warrior for Christ!

 

We are at the end of the newsletter series 6 Survival Secrets for Successfully Battling the Storm.

 

Survival Secret #1  The Father Wants to Rescue You!

Survival Secret #2 – God is Never Going to Abandon You!

Survival Secret #3 – God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle

Survival Secret #4 – Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

Survival Secret #5  Give Yourself Grace

Survival Secret #6 – Never Take Your Armor Off!

What do I mean by "Never Take Your Armor Off?"

Always keep God’s Armor on your body! Sometimes God’s Armor is misrepresented as something you constantly put on and off. That’s not the case. 

You want to always keep God’s Armor on you! It can take time to renew your mind to keep this armor on you. That’s okay. Start with one thing, and after you have shown consistency for a few weeks, put on another piece of God’s Armor. 

Remember, spiritual warfare is a way to freedom, not a way of life. Sometimes it might feel like it is perpetual but remember in Christ. You have already won!

10 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His[boundless] might. 11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places (Ephesians 6:10-12 AMP).

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness (Ephesians 6:13-14 NLT).

Life storms can be exhausting and discouraging. Remember to rest in God. He wants you to have rest and peace. The Lord is your joy and strength. It can be easy to think and believe you can only have joy and strength when life is going well, but that’s a load of baloney.

It can also be super easy to get overwhelmed and feel discouraged when going through a tough season or a storm. That’s okay too. When you catch yourself wallowing in self-pity, get up, get rid of it, and get back on track. 

Focus on what God is telling you to do.

If you are not sure what God wants you to do, then do the last thing you know God told you to do.

It may feel you are even ignoring the storm when you do this. However, what you are doing is choosing to go by faith and not by sight. Just as horses wear blinders to prevent them from getting spooked or distracted, you too are encouraged to put on spiritual blinders to keep you focused on God. 

Do not focus on the storm, but on God redeeming all that the enemy took. Glorify God. Get excited about seeing how God will flip this on the enemy. It is amazing how a storm or a tough season can be the best thing in your life as it can put you on a more excellent path.

When you walk with Christ, you are Victorious.

The war is over! The devil will try to fool you about that truth but remember that you have already won! That is why I encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus, not on the storm. The devil wants to take your attention away from Christ, don’t let him. 

He can only do this by you agreeing with his magic show. I say, “magic show,” because that is what it can feel like to me. The devil is going to get you to look over here at the top right corner, while at the bottom left corner, he’s doing the “sneaky” parts that make up the magic trick. Please stop it. Do NOT give the devil attention. He’s not worth your time. Glorify God. Tell that scoundrel to go in the name of Jesus.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9 NLT)."

God is always with you. Be fearless and courageous.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your love, joy, peace, and strength. Thank You for being my rock, advocate, protector, and healer. Thank You for redeeming everything that the devil stole from me. I ask You to help me wear Your armor. Please grow me into a strong, courageous, and fearless Warrior for Christ. Teach me. Train me. Develop me into the person You want me to be. Please help me to use trails and storms as a way to glorify Your name. Thank You for helping me always to desire Your will over mine. I love You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Survival Secret #5: Give Yourself Grace

Survival Secret #5: Give Yourself Grace

Part 5of 6 Survival Secrets to Successfully Battling the Storm

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

Ephesians 2:8 NLT

You are not going to do everything right. You will mess up. You will make mistakes. You may even try to get God to move by doing good works instead of through your faith.

Stop believing you have to be perfect or do something right to be worthy or used by God! That kind of thinking will cause you to drown in bondage. Thinking like that is proof that you agree with the devil’s lies, not the Father’s truth or Word. Remember, no human being is perfect.

God knows you are not perfect. He doesn’t ask YOU to do things perfectly. Instead, God asks you to trust Him and live according to His Word. God wants you to be obedient to Him, not your excuses. Within that request, He asks you to give yourself and others the same grace He gives you!

 

God wants you to be kind to yourself. He does not want you to belittle or hate yourself.

You are going to have days where you do accidentally make a mistake. Or maybe God humbles you, and your eyes become open to your pride or some other shortcoming in your flesh that the Holy Spirit is working out of you. When God convicts you where your flesh is dominant, don’t get upset. Instead, rejoice! Yes, maybe you will feel deep sadness by this conviction. That’s a good thing. That means you care, and you want to do it God’s way.

We all have blind spots. When the Holy Spirit illuminates that blind spot inside you, rejoice because God is helping you become righteous! There are so many marvelous things that occur when the Father does this, and you feel this conviction because only the Holy Spirit can change you. It’s that conviction that goes right down to your belly that will help you renew your mind to doing something the way God encourages it to be done instead of how the world screams it should be done. That conviction is what is necessary for you to break up with that self-righteous way of thinking.

Maybe you responded with worldly thinking or had a lapse in judgment. That is okay. You are not perfect. You are a human. I will keep saying that because it is so crucial that you understand that you will fall short or mess up at times. Again, that’s okay.

What is not okay is when you choose not to listen to the Holy Spirit’s conviction. What is also not okay is when you decide to criticize yourself, hate yourself, inflict pain or punishment on yourself, wallow in your self-pity, or respond with anything other than grace. You have the mind of Christ, and if you have a relationship with Christ, then you know He would not put you down. He might correct you humbly and with love, but He will never shame you or be mean to you.

If Jesus will give you grace, and the Father will provide you with His grace, then why aren’t you giving yourself grace? Do you think you are better than the Godhead?

It doesn’t matter if you see it or not. When you fail to give yourself grace, you believe that your opinion is more important than what God says about you, and that is self-righteousness at the very best. When you start depriving yourself of grace, you encourage antichrist thinking inside of you! And you know what happens?

That storm you are walking in picks up speed and power. Everything will start to become worse, harder, more overwhelming, and the Spirit of Fear will gain leverage. You will feel discouraged, afraid, anxious, and weak because you are surrendering your God-given authority over to the demonic forces.

Now watch out because if you struggle with an Unloving Spirit and the Spirit of Self-Pity, then know they are potentially coming to knock on your thought door too! And oooooh, those spirits are ugly and mean! These spirits are going to tell you that you are not loved by God, by your family, friends, or even by yourself. They will say God cannot use you and tell you your life is pretty much over! Specifically, Self-Pity will try to make you feel bad about yourself and encourage you to wallow in the woes of mePsh, what a literal lie from hell! Stop it! Break it off, now in Jesus’ name!

Be the Warrior for Christ you are in your spirit and rise up declaring what God says about you!

The power living inside of you is mightier than all of the demonic forces in the world combined. You are going to have to break agreement with those Spirits by saying what God says about you! It’s okay if you don’t know the verse verbatim; just say what is in your heart.

Now, if those spirits challenge you, don’t get in an argument with them. Instead, tell them you will go look up the verse, and while you put your finger on that address, with your God-given authority, tell them to get their crap and go! They can’t stay. Break agreement with them and repent for even agreeing in the first place.

It’s important to remember sometimes Spirits come and train you to think a certain way and leave, and other times they are still within you. These spirits may try to come back because you are choosing to agree with lies that you aren’t good enough, worthy enough, or capable. Or your mind might produce those thoughts the Spirits trained you to think! But God says YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS YOU (Phil. 4:13).

What Paul is telling us in Philippians 4:13 is you can do all things which are in God’s will for you to do. Guess what? It’s in God’s will for you to show yourself unconditional love and grace. How many times does the Bible say to love?

Well, I tell you that I have never counted. Still, my quick internet search says that the word “love” is mentioned 442 times in the King James Version (KJV) and the New Living Translation (NLT) mentions it 759 times. The difference in number is due to certain words not translating directly into the word “love.”

My point is that God wants you to love everyone, and that includes yourself. Start showing up and responding with love in all things!

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13 KJV).

Paul tells you that love is the greatest of the graces because it is most helpful to others and God. Love allows you to be others-centered, not self-centered. Yes, loving yourself allows you to show up more for others because you are not obsessively focusing on yourself, acting like the world or God’s kingdom revolves around you! The opposite of love is hate, and hate comes from the devil, and all things that come from the devil rob you from life! Stop it!

Give yourself grace.

When you give yourself grace, do you know what you are doing? You are permitting yourself to be a human, make mistakes, not be perfect, and grow in Christ. Giving yourself grace is giving yourself the permission to be as you are, with the understanding that you are still walking things out.

We are all walking something out. Now the size of it might vary, but as Paul says, we all fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:32). It’s in our weakness that Christ’s power is made perfect (2 Cor. 12:9). Choose to let Christ’s power rest on you!

You cannot make decisions with the information you do not have. You can only make decisions with the information you have at that time and with the guidance of God. Sometimes you will make bad decisions. Even if you pray and acknowledge the Lord in all things (Prov. 3:6), you will have to take a leap of faith at some point.

You might be unsure what God is really asking you to do, so you step out in faith. Guess what? You might leap on to the wrong path. That’s okay. Pray to God. Ask for His guidance to be clearer, repent for the miss-step, and once you hear what He is asking of you, move.

This world is harsh. Please don’t make it more difficult by being a jerk to yourself. God is made stronger through your weakness. The Bible doesn’t say that God blesses the proud, arrogant, or people who believe they are all that and a bag of chips. It says the opposite:

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
(James 4:6 KJV)

You see, my Warrior, God’s grace is what benefits you. God’s grace enables you to resist the devil, to draw closer to Him, to weep when you sin or act doubleminded. God’s grace is what saves, but God does not want you criticizing yourself in His grace because that too is doublemindedness.

You cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6:24) and accepting God’s grace and beating yourself up is straddling the line of light versus darkness. Accept God’s grace and allow yourself to breathe. Forgive yourself for messing up. Rejoice in the opportunity to grow and learn from your mistakes. For it is God that blesses you to cleanse your hands, purify your hearts and minds.

Part of humbling yourself is learning how to give yourself grace and forgive yourself as the Father does. It’s also part of surviving the storms that the enemy brings. As you continue to walk in godly humility to humble yourself, God will exalt you!

Survival Secret #5 might be the most important one for you to remember. It’s the one that can help you keep the peace that Jesus has given you. Choosing to provide yourself with grace amid hardship will help you continue renewing your mind to God’s ways.

It’s effortless to hate on yourself. It’s incredibly easy to do what the world encourages when you feel you have messed up or are facing a storm because you are afraid. But God makes the foolish things the wisdom of the world (1 Cor. 1:20). Beating yourself up will only fuel the storm because the storm is not coming from God. Yet sometimes, it can be encouraging to remember that your life storms are what will put you on your God-given path! God can redeem everything if you let Him. If God is for you, who can be against you? I hope it’s not you!

Prayer:

Father God, Wow! Thank You for your amazing grace. Thank You for sending Your only begotten Son. Jesus, thank You for Your selflessness and obedience to Your Father. I know that I don’t always do things the way You encourage. I know I don’t always give grace to myself or others, but I am asking You to help me better give and receive grace. Please help me to be obedient to Your Word in everything I do. Please help me keep my eyes on You, not on my feelings, antichrist thoughts, or what the world screams. If I am doing anything against Your will for my life, please recorrect me and make my path straight as Your Word says. Thank You for all my blessings. Thank You for loving me. Thank You for softening my heart and developing my character to be more like Your Son, Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Survival Secret #4: Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

Survival Secret #4: Keep Your Eyes on Jesus!

Part 4 of 6 Survival Secrets to Successfully Battling the Storm

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

Focus on giants – you stumble.

Focus on God – Giants tumble.

Max Lucado

We are continuing forward with this series, 6 Survival Secrets to Successfully Battling the Storm. Here is a quick recap:

Secret #1 is the promise that the Father will come and rescue you. He wants you to be with Him more than you do! Thank the Lord for the Father’s love and zeal towards us.

Secret #2 is God will never abandon you nor forsake you! He is always with you, even when you feel He’s not.

Secret #3 is God will never give you more than you can handle.

Today we are talking about Secret #4: Keep Your Eyes on Jesus!

I find this to be the best secret of them all! By leveraging this secret in every area of your life, you will QUICKLY begin noticing the victorious changes that will happen in your life from doing so. Unfortunately, it seems most people forget the power of Keeping Your Eyes FOCUSED on Jesus!

Do you know what most people do instead? They keep their eyes focused on the storm, tribulation, suffering, or the giant in the situation. Essentially, they are focused on what they can see. They allow their carnal mind to take charge, causing them to go by sight, not faith. However, Paul clarifies we are to go by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). As the only way to please God is with faith (Heb 11:6).

When you focus on the problem of a matter, you stumble and turn away from God. Even if you do not realize it, what you are saying to God is that you would rather depend on your own resources than trusting Him. It’s just like what Max Lucado says – “Focus on giants – you stumble. Focus on God – giants tumble!” Survival secret #4 teaches you how to rise over your obstacles! The only way for you to rise in a storm is by focusing and believing in God’s promises, not your circumstances.

Jesus tells His disciples in John 16:33:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (NLT).

It seems people forget the last sentence in this verse. I cannot begin to tell you how many pastors I have heard use this verse in discussing resilience and the truth that hardship will come to you, but they always leave out that last part. The most important part of the verse is where Jesus’ promise and peace come into play.

Yes, on earth, you will have trials and sorrow, but take heart because Jesus has overcome the world.

Jesus tells us to take courage in Him because He has overcome the world. Do you see the victory in this truth? If Jesus is part of the Godhead and the Holy Spirit is the greatest power to exist, do you see how victorious you are when you choose to remain in Him (John 15:4)?

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me (John15:4 NLT).

What Jesus is telling you in John 15:4 is that you are to make constant, moment-by-moment decisions to follow Jesus. You cannot be passive about this. You must be proactive! That is why the Word reminds you so many times to keep your eyes focused on Him!

You must remember, when the devil is trying to bring you down – he has already lost because Jesus has already overcome the world. It’s done. Jesus overcame the world by rising from the grave. Rest on that truth instead of getting caught up in the lies the devil is trying to sell you, typically through fear.

Here are five ways you can abide in Jesus:

  • Believe Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 4:15)
  • Receive Him as your Lord & Savior (John 1:2)
  • Do what God says (1 John 3:24)
  • Continue believing in the Gospel (1 John 2:24)
  • Relate in love to the community of believers, Christ’s body (John 15:12)

John 16:33 contains a powerful promise that is also offered to you! Jesus promised the disciples peace through their union with Him. The world, Satan’s system, is the opposite of God’s. Satan will give believers terrible trouble and opposition. But that’s just a fact of life. The truth is that Jesus has beaten Satan’s system, won the victory, and overcome the world.

With Jesus, you are never alone. Not only is there a body of Christ to rejoice and mourn with you (Rom. 12:14), but Jesus is also always with you as we learned in Survival Secret #2. Despite the inevitable struggles you may face, you are not alone! If the Father did not leave Jesus alone, He’s not going to leave you either! The question is, what are you going to put you focus on? What are you choosing to believe?

Jesus Christ does not abandon His disciples to their own struggles! You have to remember the ultimate VICTORY has already been won. You can claim the peace of Christ in the most troublesome times. Jesus wants you to have peace! He gave you peace, but not as the world gives it.

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid (John 14:27 NLT).

Stop focusing on the problem and focus on Jesus. You have to believe that Jesus will show up for you because He will. You have to begin saying to yourself, Well, I cannot wait to see how Jesus turns this on the devil’s head. Sometimes the chaos of a situation is the exact strategy of how God will work it out. Do you remember how Peter tried to stop the high priest’s servant, Malchus, from taking Jesus in John 18:10-11? Peter didn’t recognize God’s plan, nor did he stop and pray to ask what the plan was! Peter just reacted in the midst of confusion and pressure and was actually going against what God wanted and needed to happen. Imagine if Jesus did not go to the cross!

Never does Jesus promise the absence of trouble. Instead, Jesus supplies strength and comfort for every burden you are called to carry. Jesus offers peace. It is the peace He modeled every day. Jesus’ peace did not flee conflict, pain, or death. Perhaps you have noticed that the more intense Jesus’ difficulties were, the more apparent His peace became. How did He derive this peace? Through an intimate relationship with God, the Father! Jesus allowed the peace of God to move into His heart and life to restrain the hostile forces (sin, fear, and doubt) and offer comfort in place of conflict. Jesus will give you that same peace if you are willing to accept it from Him! Are you ready to accept the peace Jesus offers?

As mentioned above, many people assume the word peace means the absence of conflict. Jesus promises His peace will become apparent in the very middle of trouble and conflict, but you have to keep your focus on Him. The devil is like a magician. He wants you to focus over there so over here he can do his trick.

Trouble can help remind you to ask for Jesus’ peace! Sometimes the Father will immediately stop the storm when you ask. But, more times than not, God’s answer will not usually mean the problem stops, but He does promise that Jesus’ peace will see you through that difficult time.

In closing, are you relying on Jesus’ peace in the face of trials? Or are you focusing on the circumstances?

Prayer: Father God, help me keep my eyes fixed on Jesus instead of the problem. Help me surrender my cares to You so I can keep my heart free from trouble. Father, help me to rest on Jesus’ peace and Your love for me. I ask You to help me grow in the peace and rest that Jesus offers me. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for sending Your only Son to die for me. I am choosing today to receive the promises and gifts You have given me. I ask You to help me keep my eyes on You and not on what I can see. Father, help me to use my faith to change what tomorrow brings. Thank you for growing me in Your faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

SURVIVAL SECRET #3: God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle

Survival Secret #3: God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle

Part 3 of 6 Survival Secrets to Successfully Battling the Storm3

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

"Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved."

 -Psalm 55:22 ESV

I hope everyone had a joyful Easter. What a beautiful day to reflect on the power of Jesus and the VICTORY He gave us through His selfless sacrifice.

We are continuing forward with this series, 6 Survival Secrets to Successfully Battling the Storm. Secret #1 is the promise that the Father will come and rescue you. He wants you to be with Him more than you do! Thank the Lord for the Father’s love and zeal towards us. Secret #2 is God will never abandon you nor forsake you! He is always with you even when you feel He’s not.

I cannot speak for you, but just those two secrets bring me so much comfort. Amid a storm, it can be incredibly easy to forget these truths and turn your attention to the storm instead of your Protector, Jesus Christ! Of course, God has more than six secrets to help you battle the storm. One thing that is so awesome about God is that there is so much wisdom, power, and truth in the Bible to comfort you.

Let's move to surviaval secret #3: God will not give you more than you can handle!

In 2012, the Christian hip-hop band, Group 1 Crew released a song called “He Said.” There are a few lyrics in this song that have always stuck out to me.

"So your life feels like it don't make sense And you think to yourself, "I'm a good person" So why do these things keep happening? Why you gotta deal with them?
You may be knocked down now But don't forget what He said, He said
"I won't give you more, more than you can take And I might let you bend, but I won't let you break
And No-o-o-o-o, I'll never ever let you go-o-o-o-o" Don't you forget what He said"

Those two highlighted lines brought me so much comfort when the Holy Spirit made them come alive to me. (To hear the song, please click on the link below the lyrics).

 God will not give you more than you can handle. He will stretch you, push you, and grow you, but He will never ever let you break! Wow. That’s awesome. God is always there with you (Deut. 31:6). Praise Jesus 🙌🏼!

Perhaps, as the song says, you feel like your life is not making sense with all the obstacles, challenges, and schemes in front of you. Maybe you’re wondering what is going on and where is God? It’s easy to get discouraged and feel like God has forsaken you, but those are lies from the devil because God’s Word says the opposite.

Our Father is so merciful. He PROMISES not to give you more than you can handle (1 Cor. 10:13). Again, God will not give you more than you can take. 

Sometimes it feels like Christians can quickly adopt the mindset of I am a believer. Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to me. I want an easy, obstacle-free life. But guess what? That’s chasing a fantasy. Everyone faces hardship. Everyone experiences suffering. 

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV).

From this verse above, we know the following:

  • Temptation does not come from God (James 1:14-1:15).
  • Trouble does not come from God because God gives life and is the source of love and blessing.
  • Everyone faces temptation, so don’t feel or act like you have been singled out. 
  • There is no shame in being tempted. 
  • As a believer in Christ, you can resist all temptation because God will show you how to resist it. God will even help you resist the temptation by helping you. 

Temptation is not limited to the lust of the eyes or living through your flesh. The soul’s three enemies are summarized as the world, the flesh, and the devil in Christian theology. Therefore, the temptation may come in the form of a lie as a thought that you think is yours.

 For example, perhaps God is asking you to move out of your comfort zone and take a leap of faith. And let’s also say for this example you struggle with Fear of Poverty. Well, the principalities of darkness could either be inside of you or have trained you to think in a certain way. When you contemplate trusting God and being obedient to His command, you may be bombarded with thoughts such as, but not limited to: 

  • How will I pay my bills? 
  • I can’t do this. This is too scary. 
  • What if I fail? 
  • What if I can’t do it? 
  • God, I can’t do that. That doesn’t make sense. How will I pay my bills? This request can’t be from you! 
  • Or other catastrophizing and fear-filled thoughts

With those thoughts, you may notice tightness, extra energy, or jitters running through your chest, and it will feel uncomfortable. You might find yourself worrying about tomorrow, which is a sin, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 6. If you are a bit like me, maybe you want to run away and hide. I get it but understand all of that is not from God, but the devil.

Notice all of these thoughts come from not trusting God, but self. What does Fear do? Fear wants to control you and keep you from moving forward! Fear wants to stop your future! Isn’t that partially what Jesus warned us about in John 10:10? 

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10 NKJV).

As mentioned above, God does not give temptation or trouble. However, He will provide you with tests and commands. Of course, tests can be scary, especially if you fear failure or you struggle with perfectionism. But God tests you for your benefit. Again, everything God does is to promote life and develop your character to be more like Jesus. The tests God gives you help you see where you need to grow, and then He will help grow you in that area if you choose to agree with Him. Again, He respects free will. 

As for those commands, God gives to His body. Well, those are impossible to uphold for a reason. That is why we must have Jesus Christ. We need His grace, mercy, love, and hope. We need Jesus to help us successfully navigate the tests and commands. 

The only way we can do the hard things like tests and commands that God gives us is to do it in UNION with Him! Yes, that means it might not be on your timetable, but it will be a result you are grateful for! When you remain in union with God, you are able to handle anything!

Here’s the most important key! You must do it by remaining in God’s love and loving others. 

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5 NKJV).

When you remain and abide in Him, God will help you! Here are some ways that God will help you resist temptation: 

  1. God will help you recognize the people and situations that give you trouble. If you aren’t sure, ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your memory those instances you missed. 
  2. God will help you run from anything that you know is wrong.
  3. He will help give you discernment to choose to do what is right and pleasing to Him.
  4. He will encourage you to pray to Him and give Him all your concerns and fears. Then He will encourage you when the time is right to step out in faith, but you will have to choose to trust Him.
  5. He will help bring people into your life who also love Him and offer support when you are tempted.
Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT).

I do understand how difficult walking through storms can be. Maybe you’re like me thinking; I wish God didn’t believe I could handle so much. Suddenly, you realize how awesome it is. He trusts you to SUCCESSFULLY and VICTORIOUSLY go through storms with Jesus. The issue is the devil has conditioned our human brains to focus on the storm and not the Father’s glory. I fall into this trap too. 

It’s like what Paul says in Romans 5:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation (Romans 5:3-4 NLT).

Paul is telling you that perseverance can develop godly character if you allow it. God wants to use your trial to glorify Himself. He is hoping under the test you will look to Him to work out His purpose through every obstacle and problem you have. The cool thing is when you look to God to do His will – God will give you, His endurance. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that Jesus’ grace is sufficient for you, for your power is made perfect in weakness. When you get God’s seal of approval, you are filled with supernatural peace, hope, and joy. Jesus is always ready to give you, His yoke. The load will be more manageable. However, don’t fool yourself. It’s easy to be filled with God’s peace, joy, and hope and habitually keep reaching to retake all of the load. That’s okay. You’re walking things out. Just keep repenting and asking for the Holy Spirit’s help. You have to keep your eye on Jesus, not the problem (Hebrew 12:2; John 16:33). It’s precisely what Paul means when he says, If God is for you who could be against you (Romans 8:31). If that verse is not real for you yet, please ask the Holy Spirit to help it become real for you! You have to have a revelation on this stuff, which will be between you and the Father. 

 

PRAYER: Father God, Thank You for sacrificing Your only Son so that I could live in your freedom. I come to You today asking for Your help and strength. Please help me to see where I make life harder for myself. Please show me where I am glorifying the enemy in my life. Highlight all the areas in my life where I may be causing trouble or opening myself to temptation. Father, if You are testing me and I am failing – help me to see where I am failing. Father, I want to do Your will for my life. Somedays, it seems so scary and terrifying. Nonetheless, it’s what I want. Please help me to walk boldly, courageously, and fearlessly towards Your will for my life. Always remind me that You are with me and love me. Thank You for Your Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.