Is it just me, or do you find that your mind easily wanders?
A perfect example, was when I sat down to start writing this, only to remember I needed to send out some text messages before the day was done, and half an hour later, I now begin….
More seriously though, how easily does not only our mind wander in the moment, but the more life I live, I realise how powerful my thought life is, and how easy it can be for my thoughts to wander off course.
There are a lot of places our thoughts can go, and one of my many go to’s can be that of “worry”. It could be as simple as worrying about a trip to the dentist, or as complex as worrying about a diagnosis you’ve been given. It could be worry about how a relational issue is going to be solved, or worrying about how you are going to meet your bills this month.
I don’t know about you, but in this fast-paced life we live, with opportunity to be bombarded at any moment with news of another traumatic incident, I need some good tools under my belt to know how to deal with worry. One of my favourite passages of Scripture is found in Philippians:
Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.
Could it really be that simple? Is it even possible? I mean, Paul tells us not to worry about ANYTHING….
So if he is serious about this, how can I put this into practice in my everyday life; when I am overwhelmed and can’t see a way out?
For me, in this season of my life, as a Mum (or Mom now that I’m living in America), as a wife, as a volunteer pastor alongside my husband, my go to worry can be, “Am I doing enough?” If I let my thoughts go down that path long enough, I find myself in a place of discontent, and a little bit paralysed if I’m honest. It can at times, feel like, where do I even begin? Who needs my time?
I am so grateful for a God who meets me in my mess, and reminds me, that He is with me. This passage in Philippians gives me confidence that I don’t have to tackle my situations alone, or worry my way down a path that leads me nowhere good. He invites me to “Tell him every detail of my life”. I think we can get good at giving people the glossy version of how we’re doing and sometimes that can roll over into our relationship with God. Can I remind you, and myself (haha), that God is not afraid of your emotions, or your disappointments, or your lack of faith in the moment. He instead invites us to lay it out with vulnerability before Him, nothing left unsaid… and He makes this incredible promise in return:
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The “peace of God” is available to each one of us, and it is something that no earthly thing can replicate. It literally is a peace that “transcends human understanding”.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 says,
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
What if we I took God at His word, and trusted that not only is He with us, but that we can experience this “peace”, no matter where we find ourselves? If we believed that there really is no place that His peace can’t find us?
What are you going through today that you need the peace of God to invade?
My prayer for you is that you would allow God into those spaces and places of your life, those worries that feel so overwhelming, and let His peace meet you right where you are at. He doesn’t promise to always change what we are walking through, but He does promise His peace in the middle of it, and when we discover that peace, our thoughts are refocused in the light of who our God is.
The past 3 years of my journey with God have been peppered with tests, trials, sorrows, joys, achievements, obstacles and hope. Much like your own journeys, I am sure. There were times when the trials seemed to outweigh the joys and I was tempted to give up. I didn’t think I’d come out of the hot roasting refining fires with any hair let alone unharmed and singe-free.
I wept before the Lord, I railed at my own areas of weakness; I wondered why I kept making the same dumb mistakes over and over. But God was with me, fighting for me and I discovered He was doing a far bigger work in my life. He was working on my character teaching me to persevere and grow in faith.
I had a moment of clarity one morning in the shower as I surrendered my all to the Lord, envisaging myself ‘free falling’ and saying “Here I am Lord, my life is yours”. I made an active decision to forget the past and stop beating myself up about it. However, I was fearful that despite all, God would not meet all my needs; that the ‘holes’ in me, previously filled with addictions, shopping, distractions and even – dare I say it- ministry, would overwhelm me again.
That morning, I reflected on the things I had recently let go of, allowing concerns and memories to ruminate in my soul. I knew I needed to surrender afresh as my mind was pre-occupied with the ‘what if’s’. What if I blow it again? what if I have a bad day and I fail. What if? What if?
The Lord spoke to my heart “Karen, don’t worry about the things you need to let go of, or the issues you struggle with – surrender to me first and I will help you with the rest”.
It was that simple, but it was a moment of beautiful clarity. As I surrendered my heart again, I sensed such peace and trust that God would do what He said He would do, because He is who He says He is! Instead of trying to figure out everything myself, I lifted my concerns to Him and asked “Father, will you meet my needs?”
In a flash his reply came “I will supply all of your needs”. In that moment, Philippians 4:19 came alive for me personally. My Spirit received the words as truth.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Since that day my level of faith has grown. Instead of trying to struggle my way through the myriad of worries or issues I can perceive to be real, I bring this prayer to the Lord “Father, will you meet all my needs?”
I am delighted to be able to tell you that not only has He has met my needs, He has exceeded my expectations and hopes beyond measure. I am getting an inkling of what Jesus was talking about in John 10:10 when he said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Why do we settle for less? Why do we sometimes have a martyr complex and live with doubt? It’s a promise from God. A full life, abundance.
My thought life has been changing as I daily surrender my heart and life to God (OK, sometimes it needs to be multiple times a day). I now declare and decree in faith that my Father will meet my every need; no matter what I’m feeling or what I’m going through.
I believe that good things are going to happen in my day, no longer do I need to be dictated to by my soulish emotions, or dreading a forthcoming ‘off day’. By decreeing and declaring truth my attitude is altered, my faith is activated.
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word about Christ.”
The Word of God not only tells us what to do, but empowers us to do it. Faith is activated by God’s Word. For me the power in “I will supply all your needs” has been life changing, growing my faith and drawing me closer to God and showing me who He really is in my life.
God is supplying my needs in exciting ways and blessing me in ways I did not expect! For you see, when I surrendered my life to him and chose to let go (that was hard – I won’t dress that up), He also spoke to my heart “I will give you so much more than anything you’ve had to let go of or leave behind”
That is who our God is. He wants us to live life to the full. In surrender there is freedom, there is life.
Looking for some Scripture declarations to activate your faith - check out our 21 Scripture Declarations download here.
This post follows on from last week's blog, 'For the Lonely Battlegrounds.' You can read it here.
I'll never forget the feelings that I had when we arrived home from one of my childhood holidays to find that our home had been robbed. The feelings of vulnerability; of violation and of anger. It was evident that they'd been interrupted and not taken everything that they'd intended to - what I would later find out, was that friends of ours camped out in the lounge the following night with baseball bats on-hand to ensure that nothing further was lost!
Last week, I was reflecting on some of the lonely battlegrounds that I've personally been faced with in recent months. Actually, if I'm honest it was more like moping and feeling sorry for myself! I'd finished a time of prayer and Daniel Fasting and I just hadn't seen any of the breakthroughs that I'd hoped for, In fact, I found myself left with more questions than before I began and I was feeling somewhat flat and defeated. As I sat in my favourite chair (with coffee in hand of course!), David's story, his season of needing to strengthen himself in the Lord, challenged me for a different reason.
You see, after David wept; after He strengthened and encouraged himself in the Lord; after he sought God's counsel, he did something else - he pursued his enemy.
David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives.
Our weeping matters. Not only because our grief matters to God and He wants to comfort us in it, but because unless we allow ourselves to feel the depth of our loss and the weight of our pain, we will not reach the point of coming to the end of ourselves. We will not make room for God to be with us. What we do not mourn, we will not desire to recover.
But equally, God does not desire us to stay in the place of mourning and weeping indefinitely. There are times that He asks us to rise up and pursue the enemy. To have the resolve that our friends did when they guarded our house that night with their baseball bats - that we will not allow ourselves or those we love to be robbed of what is rightfully theirs. That we will fight as long as it takes to recover what has been lost.
The word pursue and you will recover that God gave David was not a detailed roadmap outlining exactly how he should do everything - it was more like a road sign giving David a sense of direction. It was an invitation for David to use his strengths and abilities to partner with what God was wanting to do in that situation.
David's resolve and his victory were fuelled by his intimacy with God. When his own strength was gone, he leaned on God to receive His. When he didn't know what to do next, He asked God. And when others wanted to claim the victory for themselves and not share the spoils with those who had remained behind, David gave God the credit saying:
"No my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces that came against us."
David understood that victory did not lie in running ahead of God or in pursuing his own agenda, but in aligning himself with what God was saying and doing; in looking to God and honouring Him for His work in his life.
I knew that day that God was asking me to recover some of my 'fight.' That I was being challenged to not give up or retreat from what was before me. And so I wielded my sword, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17), and I began to declare aloud truths from Scripture; precious promises of God that have been meaningful in my own journey. Strength and determination began to build within me as I partnered with what God was saying,
As I write these words, I wish I could tell you a story like David's - that after a few days of pursuing my enemy and wielding my sword that the victory was won and all was recovered. But that's not my testimony - yet. What I can tell you though is this: I'm not ready to give up on my lonely battlegrounds. I'm standing firm because I've learnt that when you stay steady in what God has promised, He can do the suddenly.
Where is God asking you to stand firm? To be willing to pursue and fight for what is rightfully yours? Partner with what He has promised and trust that He will not only protect you, but that in time, He will give you the victory.
Low-tide is my favourite time to take a walk along the beach. There is plenty of room for Lucas to run and we are free to explore the full length of the beach without getting cut-off by the incoming waves. But as an analogy for life, I much prefer the idea of high-tide - of my life brimming to overflowing and reaching its full potential.
I recently heard a pastor make this statement: the tide will turn. He was encouraging people from the life of Nehemiah, reminding us that the Israelites had faced much opposition when they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and exhorting us that just as the tide of opposition against them turned and they were able to complete their work, it will turn for us too.
This declaration resonated with me and I've found myself contemplating it over and over in recent weeks. Pondering, what does it look like when the tide turns? What happens in the natural when the tides change? I googled these questions and came up with a bunch of answers that made my sleep-deprived (and somewhat unscientific) brain glaze over. But one thing did stand out and brought back some vague recollections of High School Science classes:
The tides change because of the gravitational pull of both the sun and moon.
There is a pull, a tension that causes the waters. to change their path. This is often our experience in the natural - when it's time to change direction; when God is calling us into something new; when breakthrough is imminent, we can feel a conflicting pull.. It usually gets messy before the new direction emerges.
This is the precise time that we must stand firm. When we must keep our eyes on the prize of what God is calling us to - seeing our lives and circumstances as God does. Not allowing the mess, the tug and war pull of our circumstances, to derail us from pursuing God's purposes for our lives.
The opposition that Nehemiah and the Israelites faced as they set about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was both external and internal. Their enemies mocked and ridiculed them; plotting against them and accusing them of rebellion. And in the face of this opposition and the enormous task that lay in front of them, the Israelites grew tired - their strength gave out - and they were afraid of what might happen to them. They faced lack and it all seemed too hard.
As they faced all this opposition from both within and without, Scripture records Nehemiah's response:
But we prayed…
But I prayed…
Nehemiah continually sought out God’s perspective, inviting God’s power to be at work in their circumstances. He chose to exalt God above His circumstances and to fight for what had been promised.
“Don’t be afraid of them. Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”
Fighting faith, faith that stands firm, refuses to lose sight of who God is. Refuses to passively allow the enemy to take territory that is rightfully ours. And as the Israelites stood firm, vigilantly continuing to do what God had asked them to do, the tide turned. Not only was the seemingly impossible task completed, but it was completed in record time.
So the wall was completed... in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realised that this work had been done with the help of our God.
After a storm, the full-tide reaches new heights. It exceeds its former boundaries and claims new ground. I believe that this is a prophetic statement for this season - not only will the tide turn, but it is turning. And as it does, as you stand firm in the face of opposition, you will not only take back what has been lost, you will gain ground.
Where do you need to put your mind on the Master - to remember how great and awesome He is? To recall what He has promised? Stand firm in that place and fight, confident that high-tide is coming.
Live today with purpose,
Dave and I recently did a short Daniel fast. As we generally do when we are fasting, we had some specific situations and questions that we were putting before God - but rather than answers, we got an attitude. More often than not, I find this to be the fruit of fasting. Yes, over the years we have seen answers released and experienced breakthrough on the heels of a fast, but the most common occurrence is that God changes something within us. He gives us a new mindset, a posture of faith to stand in that causes us to approach our circumstances with a different spirit.
Caleb was a man who had a different spirit - and it's not just me saying that, God Himself said of him,
...My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows after me wholeheartedly...
Forty-five years after Caleb had entered the promised land as a spy, he stood as an old man in front of the land that God had specifically promised to him, Hebron, and declared that he was just as ready now as he was back then as a young man, to possess what had been promised (Joshua 14). Decades of waiting did not deter him; did not make him lose sight of what God had declared. Just as the Israelite community had been unable to make him conform to their negative expectation for the future - even when they talked of stoning him, Caleb did not relent from professing that God was able to give them the land.
Caleb had been one of the 12 spies that Moses sent out to scout out the promised land. He had seen first-hand both its bounty and its obstacles, and along with Joshua, believed that they should and could, go and take possession of it. The other ten spies saw the very same land that Joshua and Caleb had. They acknowledged that the land was fruitful and blessed - that it was everything that God had promised them, but in their minds there were too many obstacles for them to be able to receive what He had promised. In other words, they doubted God's ability to deliver on His word.
The naysayers won out that day, convincing the Israelites that the land they had seen was not one of promise, but of impossibility.
"We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are... The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size... We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."
The more they talked, the more the obstacles became bigger to them than God was. And as they focused on the obstacles, the truth became distorted. The land was no longer a land of milk and honey (13:27), but a land that would devour them; they were no longer God's people, but grasshoppers - small and insignificant.
When the spies spread their bad report, discouragement set in and the people wept thinking they would be better off to return to Egypt. They not only lost the ability to see what God wanted to do for them, they lost sight of what He had already done for them in setting them free from Egypt, and consequently a whole generation was disempowered and robbed of their inheritance.
Caleb and Joshua did not deny the obstacles, but they also didn't allow them to obscure their vision of God.
...do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.
For Caleb, the presence of God with them was greater than any problem he could face; he elevated who God is and what he had said above the obstacles This God-focus enabled him to see what was really happening - to see the 'real' facts, that those living in the land, intimidating as they might be, had no protection, but the Israelites did. They had God on their side. And because Caleb let God be his 'but' instead of his circumstances, he eventually possessed what God had promised him, in spite of much opposition and delay - this is the power of a different spirit.
It enables us to stand firm in God's promises
To see His perspective in the midst of our problems
To bless those who have wounded us
To praise instead of complain
A different spirit changes outcomes
When we choose to partner with God; to believe His Word above our circumstances, we invite His power, His light to break through the darkness. Our faith changes the atmosphere from one of despair, to one of hope and of expectation. Caleb's hope - his confident expectation of God's goodness and faithfulness - sustained him and kept him strong and vigorous until the day came for him to claim his land.
As Dave and I spent those days in prayer, rather than petitioning for answers, we found ourselves declaring blessing, prophesying God's Word over situations that had felt bleak and heavy to us in the preceding weeks. Heaven's possibilities became real to us and not just our attitudes, but the atmosphere that we were carrying into those situations shifted. God reminded us afresh of not just the importance, but the power of living with a different spirit.
Where in your life do you need to cultivate a 'different spirit'? To refuse to be dissuaded by circumstances that God is able to do what He has promised?
Don't allow your obstacles to distort the truth - let your expectation be one of 'but God...'
Live today with purpose,
It's been an eventful week in the Walker household with our youngest member learning to crawl - he's only 6 months so my pride in this early accomplishment is somewhat tempered by the knowledge of how much busier life is about to become! I have had to become the floor police - educating the girls on what can no longer be left lying around, and surveying each room with fresh eyes as I assess the potential hazards for Lucas. Despite my best efforts there have still been a few bumps and bruises, and moments of getting stuck because furniture towers over him and he doesn't realise there's a way around it! He's living life at ground level, unlike the rest of us who have the advantage of an elevated position.
This new milestone in his life has reminded me that we can also have a tendency to only see our lives from ground level - to get caught up in what our physical senses can see, touch, hear and smell. But we fail to see things from God's perspective and forget that what we experience on the 'ground' is directly affected by what is happening in the spiritual realm - in the Heavenlies.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul talks a lot about the 'Heavenly Realms' telling us that they are:
The place of blessing for us (1:3)
The place where Christ is seated in supreme authority (1:20)
The place where we are seated with Christ (2:6)
The place where the Church is called to reveal the wisdom of God (3:10)
Some pretty amazing truths when you stop to ponder them! But if we fail to live with an awareness of this realm, we won't draw on the fullness of our inheritance or authority in Christ to navigate what happens at ground level - because Paul tells us that the Heavenly realms are also the place where the real battle rages (6:12).
Over the past few weeks I've been sharing with you the message that God has been revealing to me in this season - that Jesus is my Word of Life, that He is God's 'yes' to all that is promised in His Word. I've also shared the importance of learning to trust His timing for that 'yes' to become our reality. But here's the other side to all of that - while there shouldn't be a striving to our waiting, neither should there be a complacency, We cannot afford to be que sera, sera about what God has promised us because yes, Jesus has come to give us abundant life, but there is an enemy whose mission is to do his very best to steal that life from us.
In Daniel 10, Daniel had been given a revelation of events that were yet to come - events that troubled him and so he set himself aside to mourn, to fast and to seek understanding for a period of 21 days. At the end of that period he has another vision and is told this:
Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian Kingdom resisted me twenty-one days...
Think about this for a moment - there was an answer that God wanted to release to Daniel, but there was opposition in the spiritual realms to prevent that answer from coming through at 'ground level' so-to-speak. Imagine if Daniel had not committed himself to that season of prayer, of seeking God for answers and breakthrough - imagine if he had allowed complacency to rob him of his answers! He would have missed Heaven's perspective and insights into what was happening in his world, but he also would have been robbed of the life that God wanted to release to him personally.
Because when that messenger finally got through - and many believe that this was a vision of Jesus Himself - this is what happened:
Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. "Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed," he said. "Peace! Be strong now; be strong."
Daniel was lifted above what he was experiencing at ground level and empowered with peace and strength. God gave him the resources that he needed to keep contending where the real battle was - in the Heavenly realms.
Just like Daniel, we can get discouraged waiting; overwhelmed by the gravity of the situations that we and the people we love face. God wants to release His answers and solutions so that we experience His life flowing within us. He wants to speak His peace and strength over us! That's why Paul urges us in Ephesians 6 to suit up and prayerfully contend, so that the victory that has already been won can become manifest in us and around us. But if we keep choosing to see everything from ground level, our surroundings will tower above us, and things that when seen from God's perspective are possible, will seem insurmountable with our limited perspective.
Let's not let life on the ground make us complacent or distracted - let's set our hearts just like Daniel did to understand from God's perspective. Let's live aware of our elevated position in Christ and draw on God's strength and resources so that we can stand our ground and see answers break through!
Live today with purpose,
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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