I have learned something that has changed my family. It is simple and profound.
The learning is founded on these 2 concepts:
One: Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6)
Two: I follow Jesus.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (My.16:24 ESV)
Note here: Jesus is not the Prince of Conflict. Nor the Prince of Double-Mindedness. Nor Prince of fear.
Here, in the busyness of my day — I can ask myself: Am I following and pursuing peace, or lesser things?
Doing this makes me a wiser decision-maker.
For instance, this helps me to:
– consider if hanging out with the friend with the gossipy-potty mouth will make bring me peace afterwords.
– if saying yes to the 60-hour a week job will create a peace-filled home.
– if debating my husband is increasing peace between us.
The amount or lack of peace in our life often is a good indicator of how we seek and follow Jesus in our lives.
Sometimes, often actually, I have to literally go the other direction from my feelings which seem to scream at me to attend to them. Yet, when I do this, the result is almost always a million times better than the short-term pleasure of reacting. I can benefit in this way, when I take time to consider outcomes.
God is powerful enough to fight my battle!
Do you seek and pursue peace?
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)
He said, “You may want to invest in some snake boots.”
Snake boots? Who’s heard of such a thing? I certainly hadn’t. I had no idea snake-proof boots even existed. But, apparently, in this part of the country you don’t want to go near water without them. You just might find a Copperhead attached to your ankle.
The whole way to our trip location, all I could think about was — these snake boots… We’ve got to be safe…
Finally, we pulled off the highway to head into an outdoor store. Handling the boot, I noted — it was heavy. The material was tough and strong, thick and heavy. So much so, a snake couldn’t penetrate. Nothing would harm my kids with that boot on. Because of the foresight put into it — it was bulletproof, or fang-proof for that matter.
Foresight is not only protection for snake predicaments but for life’s problems and attacks.
Ephesians 6 emphasizes this:
“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:11-12)
These days, we MUST put on God’s armor:
The belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
If you’re wearing truth, you won’t be overrun with worry and fear. If you remember that you have right standing with Christ, your every wrong won’t try to ruin you. You’ll remember nothing can steal your eternal position with God.
The shoes of peace that come from the Good News.
Jesus defeated death. He has overcome the power of sin. He is ruling and reigning. His kingdom has no end. There is good news available to us, all the time. This is peace.
Peace guards it’s heart and mind in Christ Jesus, remembering — there is always hope.
“Take heart! (Jesus has) overcome the world.” (Jo. 16:33)
The shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
Doubt opens us up to enemy assaults. Here, we question what we are doing, why we are doing it and we wonder if God really will…
Faith in God pleases God. Faith believes. It hopes. It prays. It often sees God show up in amazing ways! It is the answer to many of our problems.
Salvation as a helmet, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (see Ephesians 6)
The more we fill our mind with truth of God’s Word, the more arsenal we have to kill the lies of the enemy. Truth not only establishes us — but to reestablish a brother or a sister in need. We are strong when we are strongly rooted and founded in God’s Word.
God’s Word will never fail; God’s word stands forever.
When we remember that salvation is our destiny, we find real and present rest. Nothing can steal the joy of knowing where we’re going. We live for eternity rather than here and now.
Ultimately, we are strong in the power of the Lord’s might. We don’t need snake boots; we have the armor of God!
So much is raging. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you. CoronaVirus and racial tensions are high. You’ve likely seen or heard the stories of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. My heart breaks.
Like me, you may be asking, how do I deal with all this? How do I stay near God and not fear? How do I act justly in the face of things I cannot control?
“And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Mi. 6:8)
Love mercy. Act justly. Walk humbly.
“Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:8).
When the outward position of our heart is love, the inward strength of our spirit gets revived.
When I respond with mercy and humility, the love I give WILL NOT fail them, or me. It cannot. God says it is so. It doesn’t matter if my love seems small. If it appears insignificant. If it only affects one person. It will NOT fail.
One small act can change the world.
One small blessing can heal wounds.
One small person can make a huge difference.
One small word can bring justice to many.
A mosquito is small but can have a huge impact if you spend all night with it. A headlight isn’t too big but shows you the way to greater lands. A hug is small but it can change everything when you haven’t had one in 4 months.
Scientifically, it’s even been proved that a small act of love can start a chain reaction of love. Love is contagious. Just think of what happened after Jesus came on earth; now Christianity is all over the world. And, it happened through love.
Just as much as fighting can spread, so can a wildfire of love…
Let’s the be ones to start it…
We will not win wars on Facebook. Or, with political grandstands. Or, with high and grandiose opinions of how things need to change. We will win the war of the world through love, the love of Christ — touching nations, touching people, touching hearts, reaching out, listening, helping, understanding, sacrificing, and uplifting those who need help. Defending, the oppressed. Being present with those in need. Speaking up.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Prov. 31:8-9 NLT)
We were poor and helpless in our sin and Jesus stood up for us. His love won the day and, now, it wins our every day, from this point straight into eternity…
I don’t have every answer. Far from it. But, what I do have is a wild and unbelievable belief in the love of Christ to change the world. Let’s become activated in it. Let’s do instead of sit around and wait for politicians and people to come up with the answers. We have Christ in us! HE is the hope of all glory! (Col. 1:27)
Prayer: Father, fill us with your love. Grace us with your power. Show us the marginalized, the people in need, those that are taken advantage of…we want to help them. Give us eyes to see how we can help and move. Do not permit us to carry bitterness and anger towards others. May we be change-agents according to your cause. We love you. May we love every person, everyday independent of color or nationality. Teach us how to love like Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
My friend Catherine and I set out for a lazy summer stroll through the neighborhood just before the fireflies emerged to start their party. We chatted about raising boys, working husbands, and decorating dilemmas. When we arrived back at her house, she invited me to come in and look at some fabric swatches for a new sofa. Before I knew it, a few minutes had turned into a few hours.
“Oh, my!” I exclaimed. “It’s ten o’clock. I’ve been gone for over two hours! I bet Steve’s worried sick. He doesn’t even know where I am. I’d better give him a call before I start back home.”
When I dialed our number, the answering machine picked up…which made me just a little mad.
“Steve, I was calling to let you know I’m at Catherine’s. I thought you’d be worried, but apparently you don’t even care because you won’t even pick up the phone!” Click. I said my goodbyes to Catherine and left feeling dejected. “I’m wandering around in the dark all alone and he doesn’t even care,” I mumbled to no one in particular. “I could be lying in a ditch injured, or dead for that matter! I don’t think he even loves me.”
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed Steve coming toward me on his bicycle.
“Where have you been?” Steve desperately asked. “I’ve been riding all over the neighborhood looking for you! Do you know what time it is?”
When we arrived home, I quickly erased that angry voicemail. Whew, I thought. That was close.
A few days later, Steve called me from work. “Sharon, have you listened to the voice mail lately? There’s something you need to hear.”
So, I used my cell phone to call my landline.
The message went something like this: (The voice of sweet Southerness) “Hello, you’ve reached the Jaynes’ residence. We’re unable to answer the phone right now… (enter the voice of Cruella De Vil) “I was calling to let you know I’m at Catherine’s. I thought you’d be worried, but apparently you don’t even care because you won’t even pick up the phone!” (Return of sweet Southerness) “At the sound of the beep, leave a message, and we’ll get back with you as soon as possible.”
“Oh, my goodness!” I screamed. “How did this happen! How many people have heard this over the past three days?”
I called the phone company, and they explained that most likely during the thunderstorm we had a few days earlier, a lightning strike must have merged and scrambled the message.
I was mortified. I think God was too.
The Bible says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10). That all went down in one single voice mail.
As women, I am amazed how quickly we can flit back and forth between blessing and belittling, praising and putting down, cheering and critiquing—all in a matter of seconds. God has given us incredible power in our sphere of influence, and it begins with the words we speak.
In Genesis 1, we read that God created everything we see with but a word. He said, “Let there be,” and then there was. Then on the sixth day, when He created man and woman in His own image, He did something amazing, astonishing really—He gave us the gift of words.
Few forces have greater impact then the utterances that pass our lips. Our words can embolden a child to accomplish great feats, encourage a husband to conquer the world, reignite the dying embers of a friend’s broken dreams, cheer on a fellow believer to run the race of life, and draw a lost soul to Christ. Words start wars and bring peace—globally, and right in our own homes.
Sharon Jaynes is an international conference speaker and author of 24 books, with close to a million sold. For ten years, she served as vice-president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and co-host for their daily radio program. Sharon is the co-founder of Girlfriends in God, Inc., a ministry that touches nearly 500,000 women daily through internet devotions. Sharon is also a popular guest on radio and television programs such as Focus on the Family and Family Life.
She jumped back! The goose was sounding, “Honk! Honk! Honk!” He approached her, hissing and threatening. Terrified, my 6-year old daughter shirked back and bent over. She didn’t know what to do. She looked around, helpless. Only a half a foot taller than the goose, the goose smelled fear. He knew he ruled. So, he fed on her fear. He pushed her back even more.
I wouldn’t have it.
I walked over to him like a military woman taking charge and I shoved that goose back in the water with my heavy approach. I said, “Oh no you don’t. You don’t mess with my little girl that way. You get outta here.” The goose had to move.
Many of us are cowering in fear and hoping the enemy of our soul will move. We are whispering and telling him to get back. We are turning into ourselves.
Yet, fear doesn’t move our enemy, it feeds him. It draws him to us. It gives him a louder sound and makes his approach stronger.
The enemy of our soul only moves when we approach with strength and confidence. When we use our authority, our strength of size, and our power vested in us by the Lord Jesus Christ.
“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Lu. 10:19)
I don’t know what sort of goose you face today. Maybe he looks like a giant. Maybe he is squawking loud. Maybe he’s hissing in your face. Maybe he is coming at you. Maybe he is getting you down. Maybe you feel depressed.
Get out of your chair. Speak up and kick him in the face. Tell him to get away because you aren’t going to listen to his lies anymore.
Make him — get behind you. Proclaim truth. Seize what God has to say to you. Tell your emotions to bow under the truth of God. Tell your heart it will be okay. Tell the mean words to get outta here.
Then, do the opposite of what he is telling you to do. Clearly, he is aiming to hold you back from something. Love those who need loving. Help those who need helping. Give to those who you see are in need. Commit to being positive. Speak life to others. Listen only to the words in your mind that are truth, and only truth. Make yourself pray in the gaps of your day.
Many times, the only way to beat the enemy is to beat him at his own game. You have to take control of the thoughts he wants to control. The second you do that, you get back on track again.
Don’t be discouraged.
You are under a greater force — His name is the Lord Jesus Christ. With Jesus, all lesser evils have to submit to the Power, the Might, the Strength and the Lordship of His name. We always have the upper-hand, through Christ. Many of us, myself included, need to start praying and believing this as the truth.
Prayer: Father, thank you that you are in control. You rule all. You are over all. You have the whole world in your hands. All things work together for your good and our good. You know what you are doing. We are not being tossed like the wind; you love us like a good good father. We trust you. We believe in your good plan. We listen, not, to the enemy’s voice any longer. Pour out your grace and mercy on us. We need you, so desperately. In Jesus’ name.
I put the broken sunglasses on anyway…even though I knew they’d sit crooked, even though they were broken. I guess you could say — I don’t care.
I don’t care what you think about me.
I don’t care if you give me a side-eye glance because one of the two arms are broken off and the glasses are becoming more vertical than horizontal.
I don’t care that I look odd and that you may be thinking weird things about me.
I don’t care, because I choose to be comfortable outside, more than to care about your inward thoughts towards me. I don’t care because the only other pair of glasses I own are now lost in some other state.
So, I plop the crooked glasses on my face and confidently hop outside with the couple we’re having over. I don’t care. If you don’t love me because of — my sunglasses, you would have never loved me anyway…
After a bit of chatting and sitting, one of the guests looks at me. He says, “Kelly, your glasses are so ministering to me.”
Really? That’s odd. I’m intrigued now. I sit up and lean forward.
“It’s as if you are saying, ‘I don’t care’.” He explained.
I love you, but…
I don’t care about impressing you.
I don’t care if you think I am too much for Jesus.
I don’t care if you call me intense.
I don’t care if I look odd when I tell people how much God loves them.
I don’t care if I don’t do what everyone else does, because it leads my heart down wrong-paths.
I don’t care if you judge me because of how I look.
I don’t care if you think you have more bible knowledge or good theology than me.
I do not fear you, so I can love you. With this, more and more, do not care…
What I do care about is God and what He is calling me to. I care about love that is pure and without pretense. I care about authenticity and welcoming others to be real. I care about real connection, despite looks. I care about what God is really saying and doing and leading us into, as a family, much more than I do about appearances.
Although a growth process, one of my greatest joys has been God teaching me to — not care! Now I am free! This is life and boldness for the Kingdom of God — like no other.
God speaks the best words over me, so I don’t have to be controlled by yours.
What do you care far too much about? How might God be calling you to — throw up your arms to say, “I don’t care! By George, I don’t care anymore…!”
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ( 2 Cor. 3:17)
So, my husband and I joined a new gym and, really, we’re just trying to finish the workouts. After every workout I turn to him and say, “We did it, again!” Those words feel like victory.
The truth of the matters is we haven’t really worked out for months. We don’t have muscles yet.
Today, in the class, the instructor, seeing me struggling, called out, “Kelly, go down in weight.” During the workout, I also forgot what movement we were doing, more than once. I had to ask for help. While everyone else carried-on, he had to show me.
The reality is: I don’t have muscle yet, in the places where others do. And, I am still learning the moves.
Shame would have me hating the fact that I needed help. It would keep me, in pride, rather than in humility asking for help. Godliness, however, does the opposite. It frees me up to embrace my truth: I have muscles that aren’t there yet. I don’t really know entirely what I am doing. It’s okay to ask – for help.
I got the info I needed from the trainer and got back on track. I finished the workout, again!
Likewise, some of us, are afraid: to ask for help. We figure we have to show up on the first day looking like we have all the muscles that everyone else does. But, the truth is – some of our spiritual muscles are not formed yet.
We all learn at different times. We grow at different paces. We discover in certain seasons. Why do we hate ourselves for what muscles God has not grown? Why do we berate ourselves for what we haven’t yet figured out?
We can ask others for help, without shame – that we aren’t — there yet. What we are dealing with is not a hindering weakness, but a forthcoming strength – if we let it be.
Imagine what sort of growth could happen if we freely admitted our need, so that other’s learnings could become ours? Might we grow 3 times faster, as we allowed someone else’s wisdom help us? Might we divert pitfalls, ones where we get hurt, give-up or tire-out, as we let other sharpen us?
God gave us people to help; some of us need to allow the blessing – that is “another” – into our heart.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17)
“Where did that come from?” I asked as I pointed it out to my husband.
“I don’t know.” He said.
The next day, I looked down on the ground and there were probably about 5 more. What in the world?!
I had just put felt-bottoms on those chairs. It makes no sense at all that they would be damaging the floors like this. But, they were. . .
I got down on my hands and knees, flipped the chair over, only to find a rock about the size of two specks of pepper.
This little rock could do that much damage? I said to myself while holding it in my hand.
It certainly can.
What little rock do you have in your life right now? Mine is complaining.
I keep on speaking-out what is not right, what hasn’t happened, and what isn’t coming together. I’ve been griping a bit. I’ve been being a little dour and sour. Commenting on little things. . .far too much.
“Show hospitality to one another without complaining.” (1 Pet. 4:9)
But, the reality of this is: I haven’t been creating a hospitable atmosphere for my family. The environment shifts the second I speak-out — a bad attitude.
What about you?
Are you uplifting others or killing the joy? Speaking life or making everyone participate in your every annoying moment?
People don’t remember the food we made them, the house we let them walk into, nor the gifts we sent them away with — they remember how we made them feel. Even more, I wonder today, how am I making the Holy Spirit feel, as He lives within me.
Are we being hospitable to the Holy Spirit, who indwells within us?
Today, I commit to all of you, to do my best, to mind my mouth. To think before I speak. To bring my grievances to God. To gain perspective before blurting-out. Now, I probably won’t be perfect (because who is?), but I do plan to be mindful.
Prayer: Father God, may I speak only what is good, noble, worthy and of good report. I want to love others around them, not pull them down into my muck and mire. Give me the grace I need to focus on what is positive and powerful, in you. Then, I will be full of joy and life. Give me the wisdom, as well, to speak thanksgving more than complaint. When I think of it, I do have so much to be thankful for. I praise you today, In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Late at night, I inched open the door and looked at my kids. Staring at them, I thought something like this, I’ll love them always, no matter what. Nothing will ever change, I will always love my babies. . .
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession. (1 Pet. 2:9)
If God has chosen you; you cannot be ‘unwanted’.
If He declares you royal, He gives you enough worth to receive love, to display love, and to accept love from Him.
If you’re holy, the mistake from last week cannot mark you ‘a bad Christian’.
If God owns you, a special possession, He doesn’t return you back — like an unwanted good.
You are not who man says you are…nor are you who you ‘feel’ you are…or who you ‘thought you were’. You are who Christ says you are. You are wanted and in His love. Like a treasure, you sit on His hand. No one can steal treasure from a King’s palace, and certainly not from — His hand.
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (Jo. 10:28)
There you sit. Loved. Wanted. Chosen. Holy. Righteous — because of HIM.
No matter how the wind blows — good day or bad — you remain — loved as a daughter. No matter how the conversation ended — there you are — still His. No matter how much you need mounds and mounds of forgiveness — there He goes again — loving you, dusting you off, helping you up and teaching you how to walk again.
You can walk any distance, but you cannot walk out of His love.
Because of Jesus we are holy. Because of God’s goodness we are kept. Because God so loved the world that He sent His one and only son — we are always wanted. This is love.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 Jo. 4:10)
Love is not that we proved our self perfect or pretty or pious one day. But, it is simply because one man proved everything, then defiantly busted out of the grave. With this, we get a new life and a new perspective on life.
It doesn’t matter what your history says about you… What appearances made of you… What people think of you… What that person did to you… What you ‘figure’ about you… What condemnation is saying to you… What is happening to you… What you wish was happening to you…
It is finished. Love is here. Love is always. Love helps you to change and grow.
You are: Chosen. Wanted. Holy. Pure in God’s eyes.
Praise be to the unblemished lamb that was slain! He has completely changed everything for you and for me.
This season, the enemy attempted to ‘take away’ some much hoped-for stuff from me, for sure. . . It feels like a season of stripping. Hopes of doing big things with people Ioved slowly evaporated from my eyes. Dreams of aligning with certain people to see love come forth in powerful ways got halted. A project I worked so hard on, just went kaputz in the natural.
The enemy takes away, but so does God.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. (Job. 1:21)
We cannot completely blame on the enemy, what praise is due to God.
Are you in a stripping season? One where you feel like you are losing material items, dreams, things, relationships you counted on, more of what you wanted, expectations, your plans?
Listen, I get it. But, what I also get is that when you have nothing left to rely on, you still have everything.
Stripping-seasons remove so much flesh, we’re left blazing Holy Spirit.
We begin to speak things like:
I expect nothing, but trust God for everything.
There is nothing I want, but Him.
There is no other rescuer, than my King.
I have no plan anymore, but His.
Nothing can restrict me when everything has been removed.
Nothing now can lure me, more than ‘My God’.
Nothing controls me, but the Holy Spirit.
Every opportunity is available to me, as I rely on Him, and Him alone.
Stripping-periods are humbling, no doubt, but they’re also giving periods. When a parent takes something away from a child, they almost undoubtedly do it with the hopes of giving them back something better. Take away the candy — to give better health. Say no to the toy — so they appreciate the plenty they’re about to get on their birthday. Say no to TV — so their mind can grow smarter through play-time learning.
When God says no, He also has a better yes.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job. 1:21)
Blessed be His name.
I wanted __, He gives character.
I demanded __, He comes back and delivers wisdom.
I thought __, He has increase — given in a way that I carry with humility.
I expected ___, He brings me a strengthening that helps me run my race to the end.
I thought ___, He offers me fresh gratitude.
I believed ___, He gives me eyes to see past the great thing to His greater thing.
Prayer: I resolve, today, to trust you, God. You have the best plan for me, Daddy. I don’t have to see to believe that your end is good for me. I lay down ‘what was’ for ‘what will be’ in accordance with your heart’s desire. You know what you’re doing. My feelings may send me left and right, but your love endures forever. I can rest in that place and you work out good. I love you, God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.