Finding Hope in Detours

helpContinued from here.

When I reached the part of Tony Evans’ sermon series on detours that addressed how to know that we are reaching the end of our detour, I cried through much of it because it explained what was going on my life that I found particularly frustrating. I found myself helping other people out of their pits while still being stuck in my own. The dynamic was similar to Joseph’s plight, where he wanted out of prison, helped someone else get out of prison, and stayed stuck in the same prison for two more years, wondering what the heck??

This got me thinking about something I learned from Tony Evans as well as from Joyce Meyer, which is the concept of giving to others what you want for yourself. For example, if I need financial provision, I need to give money to help others in needs. If I need a friend, I need to give friendship to others who need a friend. Joseph needed to get out of prison, so he planted the seeds for what he needed by helping someone else get out of prison. Without sharing the specific details of the pit I have been trying to get out of for 8 months, I have planted many seeds by helping others get out of the same pit.

I confess it’s frustrating to still be in this pit when I have helped so many other people get out of theirs. The temptation of envy is a shiny object, seeking to lure me into its snare, but I refuse to go there. I thank God for His provision for every single person I have helped get out of the same pit, and I am truly happy and praise God for the deliverance He has brought them. I also continue to help as many people as I can get out of their pits, not out of a selfish desire to sow my own seeds but out of sincere caring for them. I know how painful this pit is for me, so I want to help others get out as I can.

Continued here.

Link to Evans’ Sermon Notes.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace sinking in quicksand and yelling, “Help!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

What is Holiness?

questionContinued from here.

Before we can have a discussion about holiness, we need to understand what it is. I have heard it defined in different ways: righteousness … being in harmony with God … spiritual purity … refraining from sin … being set apart for a special use… My own definition of holiness is loving God so much that I want to please Him, not only in how I behave but also in how I think.

On her television show, Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer says that when we receive Jesus as our Savior, he plants a seed of righteousness inside of us, but we have to work to transition what was planted on the inside so it shows on the outside. So while God sees us as holy through Jesus, our reality is that our outside might reflect something very different, and the outside is what other people see. As an example, despite God seeing me as holy through Jesus, I was bitter toward my child abusers for many years, which is what people saw. The seed of holiness planted deep inside of me remained hidden, and I was ensnared in bitterness that made me – and thus others around me – miserable.

The only reason I chose to forgive my childhood abusers is because I love God. God placed this question heavily on my heart: “Do you love Me more than you hate them?” Honestly, it was a close call. When I chose to obey God out of love for Him, I began working that seed of holiness toward my outside. God healed my emotional pain as I repeatedly chose forgiveness (forgiveness is a process, not a moment). As I changed my thoughts and actions to align with God’s will, I became more holy in the sense that more of God’s holiness became apparent in my life.

Now, I could have chosen to stay bitter for the rest of my life, keeping God’s holiness hidden deep inside of me. If I had, not only would nobody see that holiness displayed in my life, but I also would have remained in bondage to my bitterness. By choosing to love God and obey Him, holiness worked its way from the inside to the outside, and my life got better in this area.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace with a question mark. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

No Longer a Victim

heartsContinued from here.

I cannot remember who said this (probably Joyce Meyer or Beth Moore): we live what we believe, not what we know. I knew that I had on the Armor of God, but I believed I was a victim. Thus, I behaved as a victim rather than a warrior, metaphorically cowering in my church’s parking lot like a wounded child rather than standing up and fighting, using the Armor of God.

My problem was believing that God is distant, with the Holy Spirit being my “walkie talkie” lifeline to Him. I saw the world as an unsafe place, with God always with me in more of a long distance way … like a Skype relationship rather than a face-to-face one. Through His book The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God, Williard has blown this lie to smithereens!

Willard points out that God is located everywhere, viewing the most beautiful places and hearing the most beautiful sounds of the world while also surrounding me. Because of this reality, I have complete access to unbounding love, joy, and peace at all times. This is the truth that Jesus knew, enabling Him to be joyful despite also being a man of suffering and pain.

To help me process this reality, I have been seeking to view the world through spiritual eyes, recognizing that no matter where my eyes look, the God who created the universe is there. Whether I look up to the cloud or stars, down into a valley, or as far as I can see over the ocean, He is there. This means there’s nowhere I can go without being surrounded by boundless love, joy, and peace. This makes this world a safe place, regardless of what my past experience has been.

This also means that the vast majority of this world is filled with God. There are only pockets of places that aren’t, which are inhabited by people who choose to reject God. They are the masters of their own space, and when they congregate, they create a bigger bubble of rebellion against God. However, compared to the enormity of the earth – the mountains, oceans, and everything in between, they are a small percentage of this world. Even when I am in their presence, the God who created the heavens and earth is both around me and in me, so I am never in an “unsafe” place. Where there is God, there is limitless love, joy, and peace for the asking.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace surrounded by hearts. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Digesting God’s Word: “If We”

you_got_thisContinued from here.

Up to this point in our study of this one verse, we have explored God’s expectation that we “do good” while preventing ourselves from becoming weary of doing so. We also talked about why: God will give us a future harvest (blessings!) if we do so. Too bad the verse doesn’t stop there. It turns out that this is a conditional promise, as is evidenced by the next two words: “if we.”

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

The Bible is filled with awesome promises the hinge upon a two-letter word: if. In the legal world, this is called a condition precedent. In layman’s terms, this means that something is guaranteed to happen but only if a condition is met first. Meeting that condition is the trigger that sets the guarantee in motion. So, God makes us this great promise – Don’t grow weary in doing good because a future blessing is coming … IF.

The next word in the verse tells us whose responsibility meeting that condition is: OURS! Sometimes we find ourselves waiting on God to fulfill a promise when we haven’t met the condition precedent to trigger the blessing. This is an example of one of those times. Our choices can trigger the blessing or withhold it, so we need to pay careful attention to what God requires of us. In other words, what’s our part in this exchange?

On her television show, Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer has repeatedly pointed out that we work together with God. It’s a partnership in which we cannot do His part, and He will not do our part. Whenever our part is specifically identified in scripture after the word if, we can rest assured that the blessing isn’t coming until we do our part. And then, after we do our part, we can know in the marrow of our bones that the blessing IS coming because God said it is. He would have to cease to be God if the blessing doesn’t come “at the proper time.”

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling while standing in the corner of a boxing ring holding up a sign that says, “You got this.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Bible Study: Digesting God’s Word

bibleStudying the Bible is a fundamental practice that you simply cannot afford to skip. God’s Word is power. It is medicine to heal your wounds, and it’s a weapon to fight spiritual battles. If you believe you are “too busy” to study the Bible, then it’s time to reconsider what role, if any, your faith has in your life. Saying you are a Christian who is “too busy” to study the Bible is like saying you are married but “too busy” to live with your spouse. Jesus didn’t call us to warm a pew for an hour on Sundays. God wants a relationship with you, and an integral part of that relationship is getting to know God by studying His Word.

I would like to share a method for studying the Bible that I learned from Tony Evans and Joyce Meyer. Tony Evans taught me that God’s Word needs to be “digested.” We don’t just read it – we “chew on it” and invite it to become a part of who we are. Joyce Meyer taught me that a great way to do this is by really focusing on each word in a passage. Don’t just skim through the words, but really focus on what they mean and how you can apply them to your life.

I recently did this with the following verse and was so blessed by the process that I would like to share it with you. If you are a “big picture” person, you might find this process to be a bit tedious, but I encourage you to follow along, anyhow. Just as I was blessed to read the entire Bible despite being a detail-oriented person, you will be blessed even though this method might not fall within your comfort zone.

Here is the Bible verse we are going to digest together over the next several blog entries:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

For now, read the verse in its entirety. Think about what it means to you, and consider writing down your first impressions. Then, tune in tomorrow as we digest this wonderful verse a little at a time. I promise you – you will be blessed!

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace reading the Bible. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Promised Land Living: Choosing Between God’s Energy and Unholy Energy

holy_unholy_energyI recently wrote a series about Promised Land Living. To help explain my points, I included graphics showing how we have to choose between pulling in God’s holy energy or allowing Satan to push in unholy energy. Today’s graphic zooms in on that part of the illustration.

I received the following question from a reader via email:

When you talk about unholy or God’s energy on your blogs, what does that mean? Please explain.” ~ Walking in the Now

Because God is holy, He is only capable to giving holy energy, such as love, joy, and peace. God gives freely without pushing that holy energy into anyone. So, while he makes His holy energy available, He will never “force” you to receive it. If you are a Christian, you have access to all of the love, joy, peace, and contentment you could ever want and more, but you must reach for it to receive it. This requires effort. If you do nothing, then you (sadly) won’t receive the holy energy that God offers you.

Unlike God, Satan is no gentleman. He actively pushes unholy energy into us, such as anger, bitterness, and strife. The unholy energy he offers is the opposite of God’s. Here’s a rundown of fruit of the spirit (holy energy) that God offers versus its opposite (unholy energy), which Satan pushes:

Holy Energy Unholy Energy
Love Selfishness
Joy Despair
Peace Discontentment
Patience Impatience
Kindness Rudeness
Goodness Evil
Faithfulness Disunity
Gentleness Harshness
Self-control Overindulgence

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I hope this helps explain what I mean by holy versus unholy energy.

In our flesh, our default setting is passivity. We don’t “pull” holy energy from God. Instead, we passively allow Satan to push all of this unholy/negative energy into our souls and then wonder why we feel so miserable all the time. On her TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer words it this way: “Stop letting Satan use your mind as a garbage dump.” I’ll explain more about this in my next blog entry.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace receiving holy energy freely offered from God but also Satan pushing unholy energy. She is wearing the helmet of salvation, which enables her to send unholy energy to the cross. The helmet of salvation limits unholy thoughts pushed in & digested. Courtesy Grace Daniels and Bitmoji.]

More Reflections after Weeks of Illness

life_is_hardContinued from here.

When I was in physical pain, it felt like it would never end. During the 17 days of illness, it felt like I always had been – and always would be – in pain. I used to feel that way when I was in therapy for the childhood abuse as well. I couldn’t remember that I had ever known joy or believe that I would ever know it again.

I kept trying to remind myself that what I was going through was temporary. When I couldn’t believe that, I broadened the perspective to this life being temporary. Even though I felt every minute of pain across those 17 days (and across years of healing from the trauma of childhood abuse), this temporal experience in this one life on earth is just a drop in the bucket of eternity. I cannot allow the screaming of my flesh in this moment to drown out God’s truths of eternity.

I was also ashamed of some of my poor behaviors when I was sick. Ever since I did the Love Dare to my husband in 2014, I have been mindful that I choose my behavior. It doesn’t matter how I feel — I can choose love, and I can choose grace. That’s not what I chose at various moments when I was sick (although I certainly made imperfect progress from prior illnesses). No matter how much progress I make or how much success I have experienced over a long period of time, I remain vulnerable to allowing my flesh to drown out the Spirit’s leading.

On Joyce Meyer’s TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life, she shared a story about a man who was facing the death of a loved one. His prayer was, “Help me do this right.” He knew that in his flesh, he would be unable to stay faithful to God, so He needed God to show him … and empower him … to do it.

That will become my prayer the next time I am sick (and was for the last few days after I heard this) because I am painfully aware that, in my flesh, I don’t have a chance of remaining faithful to God. Regardless of my best intentions, I cannot do it on my own. The cries of my flesh are too strong, and in the turmoil of physical pain, I have trouble hearing God’s still, small voice guiding me through “doing this right.” However, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Through God, I can “do this right.”

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lying on a coach with her hand on her head above the words, “Life is hard.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]