Choosing to be Vulnerable

Too often I meet people who are destroyed by the unfaithfulness of people in their life. They are abused by a parent, disappointed by decisions made for them by those in authority over them, abandoned by a spouse, traumatized by infidelity, or overwhelmed by grief from some loss in their life.

 

Through life’s trials, I have learned that all people are inherently untrustworthy. You and I fall into that category as well. We never know how we will act or react to a moment of temptation and weakness. Yet, God calls us to love unconditionally.

 

If we withhold trust and love from others because we are wounded or fear the potential of being hurt, we cheat our self. We erect walls around our emotions and function in life from our mind only.

 

We refuse to feel anything because life is too painful for us. We do not emotionally invest in anyone, not even our spouse, children or church family. We simply show love by doing acts of service for them.

 

This attitude makes us feel like we are a success and doing our duty to others. Yet, this is a substitute at best – failing to fulfill us at the deepest levels of our soul.

 

This anxious arrogance actually makes us more vulnerable and increases our load of unwanted emotional baggage. We collect the incidents of abuse in our soul and hold grudges, forgiving with our mind but never from our heart.

 

God is the only entity in life that we can truly trust. He always has our best interest at heart. Even if He disciplines us or allows life to bruise us, He never allows life to totally break us (Isaiah 42:3).

 

This makes life worth the risk of allowing our self to be vulnerable to hurt, in order to experience the joy of unfettered love and acceptance. We can even more freely love our self if we allow our self to love others (Mark 12:30-31).
Prayer:

Father God, our soul can only find our true and complete rest in You alone. You are our only salvation and constant comfort and strength. You alone are our rock and fortress. No matter what life throws at us, we will never be shaken as long as we keep our focus on You (Psalm 62:1).

 

Remind us that it is easier to forgive others when we realize that they are as vulnerable and human as we are. We can actually expect to be wounded by other people, but it hurts less when we have our faith in You rather than in our fellow sojourners in this life. You give us Your agape love to share with the world and it is healing and complete.

 

Thought for the Day:

God is our only help and shield from the inherent pain life brings (Psalm 33:20), because He alone is our strength in times of trouble (Psalm 37:39), and our courage in this insecure world (Psalm 130:5); we wait in silence before Him and find our hope only from Him (Psalm 62:5).

 

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A Good Marriage – Draw Together or Pull Apart

 

Marriage is designed by God, but is usually an uphill battle. When we put two or more people together, there is inevitably conflict of some sort. Let’s face it, we often cannot even get along with our self, much less with other people.

 

Life happens, challenges arise and situations change. These often attack our marriage as well. Not only do we have to adjust, but we have to bear the consequences of our spouse’s attempting to adjust as well.

 

If we face life’s challenges together as a unit, we can change and adapt together and at the same time. This makes for a much smoother transition. When we include God in the decisions and problem solving efforts, He works out everything for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28; Ecclesiastes 4:12).

 

God saw that man was alone and this was not good. So He created marriage to bless us and to lighten our load in life. He helps us to enjoy our marriage rather than to endure it. He provides faultless fruition for every need.

 

This requires that we spend time together as a couple, unified in the Spirit and with one another in prayer. God never promises us a window into our future, but He does promise to walk with us and in us through its challenges.

 

Taking advantage of our days off, vacation times, free week-ends, and an occasional afternoon or evening without prior commitments, we can make time to watch a movie together, listen to a political debate, follow our favorite team on the sport’s channel, read a book together, snuggle beneath the sheets, have dinner at a restaurant instead of at home, join friends for coffee and dessert, etc.

 

In Christ, we find joy in our marriage partner and solace in their care for us. We find fulfillment in helping them to fulfill their needs as God supplies us with everything we need. We enjoy life with the mate He gives to us (Ecclesiastes 9:7, 9).

 

Prayer:

Father God, life is never, ever easy; but You make all things possible as we have faith in Your faithfulness. You have arms long enough to save us and ears that always hear our cries (Isaiah 59:1; 1 John 5:15). Help us to commit every moment to You, rather than to follow our own path in life.

 

Everything You do remains forever (Ecclesiastes 3:14). As we walk in obedience to Your Spirit, we reap the rewards of righteousness rather than the consequences of our sin and disobedience. Remind us to draw together as a couple and to lean on You for strength to face life’s challenges.

 

Thought for the Day:

Let us make a conscious effort to add more romance to our marriage; to put an end to pessimism, skepticism, criticism, etc; and to deal with negative emotions before they get deep seated in our soul – confessing our sins to God and to one another.

 

Marriage is designed by God, but is usually an uphill battle. When we put two or more people together, there is inevitably conflict of some sort. Let’s face it, we often cannot even get along with our self, much less with other people.

 

Life happens, challenges arise and situations change. These often attack our marriage as well. Not only do we have to adjust, but we have to bear the consequences of our spouse’s attempting to adjust as well.

 

If we face life’s challenges together as a unit, we can change and adapt together and at the same time. This makes for a much smoother transition. When we include God in the decisions and problem solving efforts, He works out everything for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28; Ecclesiastes 4:12).

 

God saw that man was alone and this was not good. So He created marriage to bless us and to lighten our load in life. He helps us to enjoy our marriage rather than to endure it. He provides faultless fruition for every need.

 

This requires that we spend time together as a couple, unified in the Spirit and with one another in prayer. God never promises us a window into our future, but He does promise to walk with us and in us through its challenges.

 

Taking advantage of our days off, vacation times, free week-ends, and an occasional afternoon or evening without prior commitments, we can make time to watch a movie together, listen to a political debate, follow our favorite team on the sport’s channel, read a book together, snuggle beneath the sheets, have dinner at a restaurant instead of at home, join friends for coffee and dessert, etc.

 

In Christ, we find joy in our marriage partner and solace in their care for us. We find fulfillment in helping them to fulfill their needs as God supplies us with everything we need. We enjoy life with the mate He gives to us (Ecclesiastes 9:7, 9).

 

Prayer:

Father God, life is never, ever easy; but You make all things possible as we have faith in Your faithfulness. You have arms long enough to save us and ears that always hear our cries (Isaiah 59:1; 1 John 5:15). Help us to commit every moment to You, rather than to follow our own path in life.

 

Everything You do remains forever (Ecclesiastes 3:14). As we walk in obedience to Your Spirit, we reap the rewards of righteousness rather than the consequences of our sin and disobedience. Remind us to draw together as a couple and to lean on You for strength to face life’s challenges.

 

Thought for the Day:

Let us make a conscious effort to add more romance to our marriage; to put an end to pessimism, skepticism, criticism, etc; and to deal with negative emotions before they get deep seated in our soul – confessing our sins to God and to one another.

 

Emotional and Mental Health – Healing our Thoughts and Emotions

It is healthy for us to take an inventory of our thoughts and feelings every day (John 7:24). This prevents negative thoughts and emotions from piling up in our soul and exploding at the least provocation.

 

Satan’s lies, our own insecurities and neurosis from our past, and the world’s judgment on us keep us captive to negative thinking. Yet, God’s Word admonishes us to take our thoughts captive in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

 

We tend to dwell on this temporal earth embroiled by human reasoning and trapped by the hour glass of time – still eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil and attempting to save our self (Genesis 2:17, 3:5).

 

These negative constraints affect our thoughts and emotions. We attempt to improve our self, but whatever is conceived by the flesh can be aborted by the flesh. We live on a hamster’s wheel – always running, but getting nowhere fast. However, there is hope for us in God (Psalm 63:2:5; Romans 15:13).

 

God chose us and loved us while we were still sinners (John 15:16; 1 John 4:10; Romans 5:8). At salvation, He makes us His Children and co-heirs with Jesus (Galatians 3:26; 1 John 3:2; Romans 8:17). His Spirit is building us into His house (Hebrews 3:6).

 

We cannot craft any lasting changes to our character in order to earn His love. He makes us clean – not by our good deeds and intentions, but by the blood of Christ (John 15:3; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Psalm 127:1).

 

Jesus makes us wise, righteous, redeemed and a new creation; so that we glory in the Lord rather than to take the credit (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). Christ in us continually draws us into a more intimate union with Himself and our Father (Colossians 1:20). We simply obey (John 14:15).

 

Prayer:

 

Father God, Your love frees us from doubt and condemnation, which are fed to us by our own insecurities, the world’s condemnation and Satan’s lies. Please draw our loved ones away from the seduction of this world, deliver them from the lies of the devil, and allow them to feel Your love and conviction cascading over them like a waterfall.

 

In You there is no shame for our failings and idiosyncrasies, only love and acceptance just the way we are (Romans 5:8). Your Spirit perfects us through a lifetime of sanctifying exercises (1 Thessalonians 5:23). You make us one with You and Jesus Christ through His residing presence and Your Spirit’s sanctifying work in us until You become our whole life (Colossians 3:3-4).

 

Thought for the Day:

Jesus is one with us in spirit and in truth; and He brings us into His rest in His perfect peace and love as we keep our soul focused on Christ in us. – Colossians 1:27; Isaiah 26:3

 

From Frightened to Freedom

As a young wife and mother of three, my life was hectic at best. On top of this, I viewed life and reacted to its challenges and issues from a codependent and perfectionistic attitude – double trouble.

 

I wanted to please everyone, so they would like and love me; I thought that the only way to accomplish this feat was to be perfect. I was under the delusion that if I loved and served everyone – even to the detriment of myself – they would love me in return.

 

However, all I did was to teach people to take me for granted and to treat me like a doormat and their unpaid servant – chief cook, bottle washer, baby sitter, housekeeper and problem solver. People took advantage of me, which stressed me out even further.

 

I even did this with God. I attempted to keep every “jot and tittle of the law” (Matthew 5:18), hoping to please God with my undying service, in order to earn His love. I turned into a foolish “Galatian” and ran myself ragged, meeting myself coming and going (Galatians 3:1-3).

 

Stress kept me from sleeping and sleeplessness made me grouchy, which caused me to be short-tempered with those I loved. I hated who I was…I hated me, but I had no idea how to change things.

 

My self-esteem was in the bottom of the tank and I felt like I was drowning in the details of life. Finally, in desperation, I started researching codependence: what caused it and how to get free from it.

 

I learned that I had to stop neglecting my own needs every day and to allow others to meet their own needs once in a while. The books promised that they would still love me anyway, even if I did not “earn” it.

 

I figured that even if they did not love me, then they had no true feelings for me in the first place. I also translated this into the spiritual realm. God already loved me when I was a lost sinner, and He would always love me unconditionally (Romans 5:8); therefore, I could enter His rest and enjoy His favor.

 

This fact stopped the codependence dead in its tracks. I did a 180 degree turn around and walked away from this driven lifestyle. God’s Spirit broke the shackles of expectations that I allowed to chain me to a meager existence.

 

When I entered into God’s rest, I found a security and warmth that I missed all my life. Over the ensuing years, the comfort of God’s rest brought me more peace and joy than I ever dreamed possible; and He continually supplies all of my needs with His glorious riches.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You so much for Your grace and mercy, which lead us in Your everlasting way (John 10:28-30; 1 Peter 5:10). You teach us lessons all along life’s path and You bring us into ever-increasing intimacy with Your presence within us. When we let go of the impossible demands of pleasing people and focus instead on walking by the direction of Your Spirit moment by moment, we enter into Your rest, we receive Your gift of mercy and love, and we learn to trust in Your wisdom.

 

Due to Christ’s saving redemption on Calvary’s cross, we are no longer slaves of the demon of perfectionism. Instead, we follow the leading of Your Spirit and rest in Your goodness and grace. We trust in You with our whole heart; acknowledge You in all of our thoughts, words and deeds; and glorify You as You direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Thought for the Day:

God invites us to bask in His love; abide in His peace and hide under His wings when life scares us (Psalm 91:4); we learn to accept love when it is given and to serve others only when God’s Spirit leads us to do so; this prevents burn-out and promotes joy in living regardless of our circumstances.

 

No Longer a Sinner – Reaching Perfection through Christ in Us

Standing alone, we are not sinless, because we are not equal to God. We cannot trust in our self for salvation (Proverbs 28:26; John 15:5). Righteousness is not attained by human self-effort (Galatians 3:1-3).

 

The shelves of self-help books in the stores can give us a clue about what we need to change, and we may even discipline some character flaws out of our personality. However, we cannot perfect our self (2 Corinthians 3:5).

 

Paul chronicles his struggle with sin and death in Romans 6-7. In his desperation as a wretched human being, he calls out for deliverance (Romans 7:19).

 

It is then that He realizes that the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ our Lord already delivered us from bondage to the law of sin and death (Romans 7:24-25, 8:2).

 

God gives us His grace and saves us through faith in Jesus’ work on Calvary’s cross (John 1:17; Ephesians 2:8). We no longer need to focus on sin or the world, but on the righteousness of Christ in us, who is our hope of living in eternal glory (Colossians 1:27).

 

Jesus in us already overcame sin, death and the devil by His death and resurrection (Colossians 3:15; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8). Therefore, God’s Spirit changes us over our lifetime by His anointing in our spirit, soul and body, (Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

We walk in His ways by His Spirit within us (Ezekiel 36:27). We simply heed God’s conviction, obey His direction and live through faith in His faithfulness, so that we are able to walk in His holiness one moment at a time (Romans 1:5; 16:26).

 

Prayer:

Father God, create in us a spotless heart, and renew a righteous spirit within us (Psalm 51:10). Work in us according to Your good pleasure and perfect us until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6, 2:13). Give us Your power and anointing to accomplish Your will in the earth each moment of our day (Ephesians 3:16).

 

Thank You that You already perfected our spirit, because we are born again by Your Spirit – through justification; once we see Jesus, perfection will come to our body through glorification; and You perfect our soul – our mind, choices and emotions – from one stage of glory to another through a lifetime of sanctification.

 

Thought for the Day:

Christ in us is greater than both our carnal nature and also all of the powers of darkness in the world. – I John 4:4

 

 

My Hiding Place

 

Most people have a Happy Place. That one place on earth that makes them feel free, happy and safe. A place in nature, the mall, at home, a favorite restaurant, the back pew at the church facilities, etc.

 

Destruction can come to these natural places, however. They are illusive at best. Contrarily, if we find our Happy Place in the presence of God, it will never be destroyed. It goes with us wherever we go and no one can take it away from us.

 

Our Hiding Place in God preserves us from trouble. God comforts us with songs of deliverance in our spirit (Psalm 32:7). He keeps us safe as our shield, as we hope in His Word (Psalm 119:114).

 

His presence is a shelter and shade from the struggles and stresses which parch us, and a refuge from the storms of life (Isaiah 4:6). God shelters us from the tempests and gives us the refreshment of the waterfalls of His love and contentment during dry spells (Isaiah 32:2).

 

When disasters destroy our habitat and water floods our natural hiding place, He offers us the plumb line of righteousness and the measuring stick of His justice to help us to rebuild on the foundation of Christ in our life (Isaiah 28:17).

 

We hope in the promises of His Word and wait on His instructions when darkness surrounds us on every side (Psalm 18:11, 119:114). His presence provides us with a constant secluded place to keep us safe (1 Samuel 19:2).

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us that Satan will hide as a lion in his lair in order to catch the afflicted, many of whom he wounded from his constant assaults on their life (Psalm 10:9). He lies to us and we believe his corruption. Yet, You provide us with a hiding place from the destroyer (Isaiah 16:4).

 

At times, You will even use people to present us with a hiding place from life’s discouragements and insecurity (Deuteronomy 32:38). Yet, more often than not, if we look to the natural world, we trust in a lie for our safety and wellbeing (Isaiah 28:15). Keep us ever mindful of Your love, surround us with Your angels, and shower us with your blessings in the midst of this dry and desert land.

 

Thought for the Day:

If we hide the light of Christ within us, we fail to shine His saving grace to the world around us; so let us represent a city on a hill with a promise of a true and secure Hiding Place, as we offer solace to those God brings into our life (Luke 11:33).

 

 

 

Emotional and Mental Health – Limiting Anxiety

Life is insecure at best and terrifying at its worse. People say that bad things happen in threes, but at times in my life, I have counted five or six stressful catastrophes in a row.

 

I learned early on in life not to expect anything good to happen. That way, when good did happen, I was mildly pleased; but when it did not occur, I was not overly disappointed either.

 

As an authentic Believer, we learn to cast all of our anxious thoughts on God’s strong shoulders – to leave them in His benevolent heart and to have faith in His faithfulness instead of in people (Mark 10:22; 1 Peter 5:7).

 

As we turn our attention away from our self and onto helping other people, we continue to heal from anxiety. This brings inner peace because we help to ease another’s burdens and we find fulfillment in sharing our abilities and resources.

 

As we pray during each moment for God’s will and direction, we acknowledge that God is in control of our life (Proverbs 3:5-6; Philippians 4:6-8). This reduces anxiety quicker than any mantra or affirmation we can repeat.

 

God orders our steps and gives us the grace to enter into His rest (Hebrews 13:5). His presence in our life allows Him to provide serenity in anxious situations. He helps us to set priorities and to follow them.

 

This habit is comforting and provides us with a routine to which we can establish and adhere. Routine limits anxious feelings and defines our responsibilities according to the will of God, rather than our own stressful agenda.

 

I do not hide from life any longer. I know from experience that our Daddy God is faithful, I experience security by walking in His presence and praying without ceasing, and I find fulfillment and peace in the comfort of the shadow of His wings.

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us that prayer is not created for us to manipulate You or to demand that You do our bidding in our way and timing. Our communication with You is for our benefit, however; and we do not need to wait for a crisis, which we can no longer control before we come to You. We wait in silence until we discover Your will for us during each moment of our day.

 

Thank You for giving us Your peace, which transcends any comfort the world attempts to provide for us. You are only a prayer away; and yet we fail to avail our self to the intimacy of our union with You. Thank You for abiding within us with Your presence and for filling us with Your Spirit and fruit.

 

Thought for the Day:

God is not our puppet to manipulate according to our will, but our Savior and King whom we willingly serve according to His will and way; He is not obligated to grant our wishes, but He chooses to give us only the best that we need to live a fulfilling life.