Competing Lines

Galatians 5:13,”You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

There is a fine line between a lot of things in life. Between brilliance and insanity, love and hate, pleasure and pain, bravery and stupidity, you get the picture. We need to determine where that line is and navigate our way around it. One area that came to mind is competition. There can be healthy competition to spur us on and press into things with more excellence. This line can quickly deteriorate when comparison blurs the lines or we are trying to defeat someone to build ourselves up.

Humility is key.key-123554_640

Humility positions us to receive God’s grace that enables us to be all we were created to be. It is not a weakness as it is often perceived to be. In fact it is quite the opposite. Pride keeps our focus on ourselves and humility keeps our focus on God. Competing through the filter of comparison builds false pride in our hearts and doesn’t allow us to be free to be who we are.

The apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians mainly to bring truth to the church. Judaizers, or those that believed Gentile (non-Jewish) believers had to submit to Jewish law and traditions in addition to believing in Christ were dividing the church. Paul responded by teaching that salvation was by God’s grace and Nothing Else. He taught that faith in Christ meant true freedom. (Life Application Study Bible NIV)

So imagine with me, the pull on the believers of that time to follow deeply rooted religion and traditions or to move into the freedom that was offered as a gift. Only God can pull out the deep roots in us in such a way as to leave things behind that don’t serve a life of liberty. This truth still stands today. After Paul admonishes that his brothers and sisters in the church were called to be free, he goes on to say in verses 14 & 15, ‘For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.’

See sometimes the enemy does not need to hand hold the whole process of destroying someone. He just needs to plant a seed into a heart missing the fine lines and before you know it, it can slither its way into a full-grown tree of bitterness and resentment. Living in unforgiveness can then cause the seeds to drop into other available places of emptiness.

Insecurity can drive someone to compare and covet another’s gifts or possessions.This can move into belief that they themselves are unworthy. It can grow into jealousy and fits of rage that they aren’t blessed themselves. It becomes a competition to see who is better, often with the other being unaware there even is a competition. Bad mouthing and gossip result in an effort to try to stifle the insecurities. See how that circle spiralled into sin. I have been that person in the past and so I can speak into that. Pride kept me stuck.

I can also speak into the saving grace and freedom of Christ. Humility opened the door.

The goal is this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22,23

The fuel is this: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 road-908176_640

Pick your race and start running. Read Galatians, soak in the truth of your freedom in Christ. If you don’t know Jesus yet, read Romans and get the truth of the right road.

Lord open our eyes to stay in your lines. Help us when we are deceived by our wounds and hurt. Help us to walk a life of humility and forgiveness. Help us to display your fruit and to serve one another in humility and love. Help us to build others up and not tear them down. May we walk in the righteousness you have freely given us. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

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Liberated Identity

Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

When in doubt, go back to what you know. As I sit in my makeshift writing space praying, researching and gathering the copious amounts of writing I have done over the years, I sense God whisper, write what you know.  Over 9 years ago my charge was given to encourage and enlighten others to live in the shameless freedom and forgiveness of Christ. It has been my gathering place when I doubted my purpose or wasn’t solidified in my identity. It is simple really but I have chosen to complicate it.

I have not been set free just to be free. I have not freed myself but it is because of Jesus that I am free. It is my responsibility to live that way. Christ has set us free dying under the curse of the law so we should not take the yoke of slavery upon us again. Freedom is a gift not to be abused but used so that we will serve. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36. It includes telling others of the treasures I have found and my mode of sharing happens to be writing. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last- and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16 

When you realize how much God loves you, you’ll begin to live in true freedom.

As I grew up, I never felt like I belonged in my family. I was a surprise which could have been the reason. God chose my family and I love them intensely. I don’t know why I felt that way and I don’t blame anyone for that. It was what it was. It could have been the impetus for me seeking to fill that empty place in my heart and soul and unfortunately the choices I made to do so weren’t always great ones. The choices were temporary numbing to my emptiness but the true fullness came in the form of Jesus. In this place, awareness of my true identity and purpose collided together in a myriad of new truth. It has now been 15 years of God process, healing the places of me to line up with who I truly am in Him.

I was surprised at the simplicity of the definition of identity. Dictionary.com: Identity – the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. In the world it means being who we are but when identity is rooted in Christ, it is embodied in the Greek definition of identity which means – the vital breath, breath of life or the soul. Identity in Him is full of purpose and power and meaning.

These are just a few of the truths in Scripture speaking the certainty of who we are in Christ:

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John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

My freedom deepens as I allow God to love me through the truth of His Word. God’s priority is our heart and character, not our circumstances. Freedom isn’t a literal releasing as much as it is a becoming. Oh to be like Him! That is true freedom.

Where have you looked for your identity? What part of God’s truth about you do you need to sink deep into your spirit? Sit with it, soak in it and choose to believe it. Live from freedom, from victory because Christ died for it. Period.

Highly Favoured

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28

Recently as an exercise to hone my writing skills, I was to ask a handful of close friends a few questions about how they see me and what kind of influence I could have. The purpose of receiving this kind of feedback was to make the message I have more clear. To help me see how I can best inspire people with the tools I already have. And perhaps shed some light on areas that I may think are obvious but are amazing to others.

First of all, the fact that they were so willing to respond blew my mind. I am blessed by so many incredible women in my life, it was actually hard to pick just 5.  Second, their responses brought some tears. Third, this is a very humbling exercise to perform. Owning the truths that were spoken from their perspectives would have been very difficult to do even a year ago.

God has been teaching me this last year to receive. Receive His truths and let those reconstruct what my identity is in Him. Not in what others tried to tell me, not in the lies I believed, not in the performing so hard for love it almost destroyed me kind of way. But in renewing my mind and believing regardless of what I feel to standing in the promises of God.

Lysa Terkeurst said, “In between progress and perfection is the sweet spot of authenticity.” This statement makes me want to pause and say ahhhhhhh, releasing the places that have been wound tight in me trying to become someone I was not. butterflies-843298_640You see my heart is to be authentic, in all I speak, say, write and do. I am unique, my story has been woven in such a way as to distinctively influence those that God has placed in my path. There are some things I can speak because of my experiences that will resonate with the hearts of those I encounter. This truth is the same for you.

The space between progress and perfection can only be accomplished with supernatural favour. Joyce Meyer once said, ‘Natural favour has to be earned and once it is you need to maintain or keep working for that favour. Supernatural favour is a gift from God. You receive this just by being His child.’

Natural favour is very difficult to sustain. Performance is a vicious cycle. The only antidote to this is knowing in your heart of hearts that you are deeply loved and favoured by God and Nothing you do or don’t do will change that.heart-1213481_640

One way I have been renewing my mind with God’s truth is by speaking that I am highly favoured by the Lord. My travelling companions to St. Louis as of late probably thought I was a little silly proclaiming this phrase everywhere I went. Little did they know I was renewing the way I thought of myself in relationship to how God sees me.

You see,  I know that the only one in the Bible that was given this title was Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was chosen by God to carry the Messiah, His precious Son because she was highly favoured by Him. And this favour carried over into Jesus as we see further down in Luke 2:52, ‘And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.’

As a believer though, one who has chosen Christ as Saviour, I also have the incredible privilege of carrying Jesus. Not in the physical, pregnant sense as Mary did, but in my spirit. He is with me everywhere I go and because of this I am highly favoured by the Lord. Because of this I get to extend His Favour to others.

Choose an area where you have not been believing God’s truth about you. Now find the truth and start to declare it. Is it in the area of not believing you are worthy and have to perform for or earn God’s love? Say it with me now, I am highly favoured by the Lord. I am the apple of His eye. I am His beloved child. Start there. Don’t stop until your heart believes it. Your freedom depends on it. woman-591576_640

Freedom for the Captive!

Isaiah 61:3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

God has been speaking these verses to me for months. This weekend as I finished the second school for Elijah House prayer ministry 202, I realized the very personal implications this word had for me. This captive has been set free!!! For the 13 years that I have been a Christian I have sensed there was more. It was like looking through prison bars, knowing the intimacy I sought with God was within reach but seemingly unreachable. I tried my hardest to live the ‘Christian life’, by going to church, reading my Bible and praying and serving and there certainly have been many amazing things God has done during those years. I believed everything about Jesus and the bible in my head but my heart was unable to connect. Words arent sufficient to describe the agony of my spirit wanting the intimacy with God, yet nothing seemed to penetrate my heart.  I began this deeper healing journey over a year ago after I experienced a time of depression and burn out.

My striving spilled over into many areas of my life and combined with different life events it stopped me. Something had to change. God was calling me to heal to release me to help others do the same. I learned to rest and to say no and to care for my spirit and soul. In the midst of this time Lighthouse for All Nations was offering the Elijah House school and I felt strongly that this was the direction to go. It is the mandate of Elijah House to bring healing, unlocking the doors of our heart and with the Holy Spirit bringing people to repentance and reconciliation, transforming as they say the unbelieving parts of the believer’s heart. If we were all really honest we could admit we have those places in us or I think the church would look completely different from what it does now.  Now do I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sin and shame and all past, present and future sin was nailed to the cross? Absolutely, we have all missed the mark and need a Savior. Romans 3:23 says, ‘for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ And Colossians 2:14 says that Jesus, ‘ having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.’

 I also believe that because of vows I made to protect my heart, lies that I believed and judgments that I made created a propensity or bent toward certain behaviours that kept my heart captive. Often it is not circumstances that bind us up but it is our responses to those things that do. What did your heart say when …… (fill in the blank) happened. We don’t even need to verbalize these vows our heart makes for our spirit to know they are there. For example without getting into detail I made a vow not to feel, how do you think that messed with my God-given emotions and interrupted my responses to my heart?  Sometimes this bent toward certain behaviours comes down through the generations and we have opportunity to stand and put the cross between that and us and our future generations. So it is not just for me that I receive this healing, it is for my family, their families to come and those that God wants to touch through me. Is it difficult sometimes and does the enemy try to keep me from being free, without question, yes! Reminder – John 10:10 ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.’ 

This is my story, it is God’s story. It may not be everyone’s story, God heals us all very uniquely. My call is not to judge how others’ get there and to be faithful to the things that God calls me to do. There is more to do for sure, our final healing won’t occur until Jesus returns.  God was very specific to my heart as people prayed with and over me this past weekend, they said things about me that they had no idea were true. Only God can do that. And if only one person is encouraged or has a glimpse of hope because of me being vulnerable and sharing my journey, that is beautiful. It is not about me really. ‘They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.’ Revelation 12:11 So I will continue to write the words, I received a word from God that one day this gift He has given me will resurrect hearts! Oh Lord, so be it!!! My purpose is to glorify God. I am here for such a time as this. Pray with me that He will awaken our spirits to be who He has created us to be!

‘The glory of God is man fully alive and the life of man is the vision of God.’ Saint Irenaeus