Inward Reflection

Psalms 42:6 (NASB) Why are you in despair my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him. For the help of His presence, my God.

I like how David talks here, that he is going inward as to why his soul is in despair. An inward reflection is the stance he decided at this moment. Right now we are preparing to teach a series in our youth on how our emotions and memories are often tied together. They can, if we allow them to, define who we are. David had very high highs and some very low lows in his writings, but God still refers to him as a man after His heart. David was full of emotions, sometimes in his writing you can tell he was led by them. He had to make a conscious decision to allow God to lead in the midst of his brokenness. There are times you can see great strength coming out at the admittance of his weakness.

There are times that we try to come out of the despair by ourselves. We will go and tell those around us who will listen so that we can get a sympathetic hear. We try to numb it with watching videos. Some use substance to take away the pain. Even in our frustrations and in our pain, the one we can run to is our Father. Especially when you are angry, tell Him, He knows your heart anyways.

Ephesians 5:2 (TPT) And continue to walk surrendered to the extravagant love of Christ, for he surrendered his life as a sacrifice for us. His great love for us was pleasing to God, like an aroma of adoration – a sweet healing fragrance.

When I think of healing I do not always think of a physical need for healing. Some of our wounds are not able to be seen. Mostly I think of emotional healing. I do not like the way I react sometimes. In order to get to the root of that wound, I find that surrendering to the extravagant love of Christ, the one that we are told is there, I have to allow it to surround me. We can receive Christ as our Savior and not really receive this love. Some of us think that we are not lovable. We thank Him for saving us from hell, without realizing all that He wanted to restore within us. I walked this way for years. I truly realized what freedom felt like when I, that I do not have to be surrendered to my wounds, that I can receive a healing deeper than my physical needs.

I want to tell you that it is okay, not to feel okay sometimes. Charles Spurgeon once said, “I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.” He will not just take away the pain though, He wants to bring you through it. There is growth in that process. There is an understanding that happens so that we can love others when they are going through things. I have learned that in my hurt, I have hurt others. I have kept people at a distance so that I would not get hurt again. When I get to the root of my hurt, I can start to heal.

“I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.”

Charles Spurgeon

I was talking with the other youth leaders and told them that one of the reasons that I seemed so stand offish, not approachable, in my early years of leadership, was because I felt like I had to be perfect growing up. In turn, I would often snap real easily at people if I felt like they were lazy or messy. I was the oldest of three (ages five and three, my sisters are twins) to a single mother. My mother was nearly twenty four when she left my abusive father. When we finally got a place of our own, I felt pressure to make sure things were taken care of. We had chores, like all children should, but to a single mom who was trying to better herself, there was not much availability to have a messy home. Everything was always put away. Dishes were done immediately. My sister use to talk about how clean my house was when she would come over. I do not stress about it like I use to. I do the dishes in the mornings now (well sometimes). My sisters were younger and it seemed they did not “care” as much as I did, or maybe did not notice, that these things stressed my mom out. Later, I realized that I inherited that stress. This is at no way a fault of hers, it was something that I did not know how to process as an eight year old. Now that I am an adult, and with ability to surrender into His extravagant love, I can get to the root of why I stress. I did not like feeling that way, why God do I despair? He will help you work through to the root, if you let Him. I still tense up about some things, but I am getting better. You may need to talk to someone who specializes in this, that is perfectly okay. I would just encourage you to find someone who is grounded in pointing you back to Christ.

In Isaiah 9:2-7 (MSG) it talks about the promise of Christ, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—light! sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants— all their whips and clubs and curses— Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian. The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.”

There are no limits to the wholeness He will bring. I like that. However, it does not leave out my surrender to to the process to receive that wholeness. Jesus knows what it feels like to be hurt and to have to work through the emotions to process that hurt, so in turn He could walk in perfect love. It is a process. It is okay in that process, like David, you feel despair. On the other side is immense joy!

John 15:11 (NLT) I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

If you need prayer or someone to encourage you please feel free to email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Goal of Progress

It is New Year’s Eve, tomorrow starts a new decade. I just learned this year from my thirteen year old that decades do not start with the zero at the end of the year, it starts with the one. Fun fact, look it up, it is true. We will enter a new decade tomorrow. Many people will make new year’s resolutions and feel shame when they do not follow through.

Today I was scheduled to be at the Cincinnati Zoo, although it was forecast to rain. This was my Christmas present from my husband. I follow the animals at the zoo on Instagram, especially Fiona the baby hippopotamus. The zoo allowed us to change our zoo reservation, but I did not get to see Fiona. It was okay because I did not feel like being very joyous that day. My grandfather passed away suddenly that morning and I felt guilty for not leaving right then to drive the seven hours back home. I had to remind myself that guilt and shame were not places that I am suppose to reside. I have made lots of progress these past few years out of those areas and had to remind myself not to stay there.

Last week I was in Isaiah because it was Christmas week and I ran across these verses. First what stood out to me was a warning, Isaiah 6:9-10 (MSG) He said, “Go and tell this people: Listen hard, but you aren’t going to get it; look hard, but you won’t catch on. Make these people blockheads, with fingers in their ears and blindfolds on their eyes, so they won’t see a thing, won’t hear a word, so they won’t have a clue about what’s going on and, yes, so they won’t turn around and be made whole.

Then there was the promise, Isaiah 9: 2-7 (MSG) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows – light! sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, They’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants – all their whips and cudgels and curses – is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian. The boots of those invading troops, along with their skirts soaked with innocent blood, will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

I never want to get to a place in my walk with God that I am satisfied and can live in such a way that I do not desire growth for myself. Jesus came so that I can be made whole, not to just survive. Survival is good for a moment. There are things that have happened that I am amazed that I am still standing. However, I do not want to get stagnant.

Jesus came so that I can be made whole, not to just survive.

John Bevere, in his new book X:Multiply Your God-Given Potential writes, “Unless we push ourselves beyond our level of comfort and skill, we’ll never grow. If we aren’t “purposeful,” the danger is that once we reach a level of “good enough,” we can easily become complacent. Then it’s only a matter of time before we become sloppy in our practice, which will ultimately have a negative effect on our performance and hinder further multiplication.”

I am not a fiction reader. I read nonfiction books (books that are inspired by the Word of God), devotionals, and my Bible. I have nearly completed reading through my Message Translation Bible this year. Next I plan on reading through the Chronological Bible. The first book I have picked out for the new year is Bob Goff’s Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want it, and What You’re Going to Do About It. My goal is not to make a resolution that I will quit within the first few months, but to continue in my growth towards wholeness. I want to surrender more of myself this year, and to worry less. Lord, I want to be made whole. I know it will be a process. I have already allowed Him to do so much in me these past few years that people would not even recognize me.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP) And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image (one degree of) glory to (even more) glory, which comes form the Lord, (who is) the Spirit.

Let 2021 be a year of progress!

Be Strong and Courageous

I love reading the Old Testament and find myself referring back to it when I do my studies. There is so much meat in there for us to glean from, how to conduct and view our lives. Joshua, like Moses, is another favorite of mine. Right now I am taking my youth group through the lessons we can learn from reading Joshua. There have been days where we have verse by verse of the challenges and victories that the Israelites went through.

Before they stepped into the Promised Land they had to prepare themselves. Joshua was their appointed leader at the time. He was trained none other than Moses himself. Joshua would accompany Moses as he went up to the mountain top to be in the presence of God. Joshua saw the importance of that relationship and took it a step further. He knew the heart of his people and knew the challenge they would face.

Joshua 1:8-9 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read (and meditate on) it day and night, so that you may be careful to do (everything) in accordance with all that is written in it; for they you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (AMP)

This great people had a real challenge ahead of them, but they had a promise that God would be with them wherever they go. They just had to GO! However, before they went they had to consecrate and sanctify themselves. This is what we like to call today, “a heart check.” Before we just step out and do, even though He has promised us the victory, we must keep our heart aligned with His.

Each victory was going to be won in a different way. Some lessons they had to learn over and over again, just like us today. Forgiveness is one such lesson. What lessons have you had to grow in? For me it has been to keep my eyes on Him and not His people. People can let us down. People can discourage us, especially when you love them deeply. It hurts when they turn theirs backs on you.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms.” (TPT) I am not saying that when people turn their backs on you or disappoint you that they are operating in rebellion. We can be the ones operating in just that by the way we let that hurt affect us.

Let’s get back to the message of Joshua. Joshua in chapter ten has just led a victory against an alliance of many kingdoms. In fact they have just conquered half of the promised land. This land was enough to sustain the group of Israelites. In that view, they could have halted their conquests. Right here in verse 25 Joshua proclaims, “Do not fear or be dismayed (intimidated)! Be strong and courageous, for this is what the Lord will do to all your enemies whom you (are about to) fight.” (AMP)

Why after a great victory is Joshua proclaiming to his people to “Be Strong and Courageous?” He knows the nature of people. We define victory in that we have achieved comfort. We tell God that we just need to rest and then we will get back to it. Really what we are telling God is that we want to live for us. So what “intimidates” us…ourselves.

Our enemy is not against flesh and blood, but principalities in the spirit realm. The goal for the enemy that you are fighting is to get you not to finish, to put your life on pause, in the form of “rest.” Do not stop half way accomplished. Be strong and courageous, He is with us wherever we go.

The goal for the enemy that you are fighting is to get you not to finish, to put your life on pause, in the form of “rest.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young man shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

My dear friend do not give up. Do not fall into the trap of rest as this world defines. His rest comes when we accomplish what He has set us out to do, and He even said He would be there wherever we go. Never give up. Get your life off pause. Be strong and courageous!

Draining Days

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8 AMPC)

There are days where we allow our thoughts to get control of us. Then what becomes even more draining is when we allow others to tell us their thoughts.

It is so very important to surround yourself with people that will build you up. Job was a cheerleader to many, but those who he surrounded himself were not the same for him.

In Job 4 taken from the Message Translation, “You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit. Your words have put stumbling people on their feet, put fresh hope in people about to collapse. But now you’re the one in trouble – you’re hurting!”

Negative people drain me.

Job allowed himself to be surrounded with those that were speaking the problem. Those kind of people drain us. Find a way to get back to your Hiding Place. Negative people drain me. I have to get myself around some faith talkers. How can you spot a faith talker? When they are going through a hard time they have not stopped praising!

We have to do whatever it takes to get us to a place where we do not stop praising Him. My problems no longer are the biggest thing in my life. I no longer see those areas of lack. All I see is Jesus!

Job’s friends (and I have been guilty of this too) tried to explain God. There is no explaining God. There is no reason that we go through what we go through, other than the devil hates us. If he can get you off track, put you on pause, get you distracted, then he has done what he has set out to do.

Paul even says it himself, “But I need something more! For I know that law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in the delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?” (Romans 7:18-24 MSG)

For a moment he sounds a lot like Job. The thing we miss here, is that we want to stop reading. We are like, see, I cannot do this! Paul is not saying we should not surrender to living in constant defeat. What he is doing is expressing anger…he has not received the victory yet. This is a normal reaction.

He continues, “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but I am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different” (Romans 7:25 MSG).

We are going to have those draining, I do not know if I can make it kind of days. Put your thoughts on Him. It is a choice and it is your choice!