Most of the time I’m scrambling wondering what I’m going to speak to you all about this week. Sometimes, I ask God, and He answers. Sometimes, I choose from a list of topics that I keep in my phone that I’ve been wanting to write about. Sometimes, I choose from a list of topics you all suggest. Sometimes, inspiration will come from an encounter or conversation during my week. This time however, I didn’t even have to brainstorm or wonder. One day, as soon as I woke up I heard the Lord speak the title and the points for this particular blog post. I hurriedly typed it into my notepad, and let it just sit in there for a few days, not exactly sure how I would fill the page of this blog since this one was not my idea at all, but God’s. Apparently these things are on the heart of God for you all, so I pray that you all have ears to hear and eyes to see what the Spirit would have you to receive from them.
I believe that these are 3 of the main things that the enemy uses to try and sabotage God’s plans for our lives. He knows that Jesus has already won the victory for us and has disarmed all principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15), so the only way that he can stop what God wants to do in, through, and for us is if we ALLOW him to. The following 3 things are some of the ways that we allow him to do just that:
1. Unforgiveness (towards people)
Unforgiveness is just too great a weight for us to carry. It weighs us down and usually affects us way more than it affects the person who caused the pain in the first place. Whether we realize it or not, we are only hurting ourselves when we choose to hang onto the agony of unforgiveness, allowing it to grow into a tree of offense in our heart.
One of the things that helps me to forgive quickly is to think about how God has forgiven all of my offenses and how He continues to forgive me for missing the mark daily. And not only does He forgive, but He also forgets. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;And I will not remember your sins.” -Isaiah 43:25. If forgiveness is good enough for God then certainly it is good enough for me because I am not above Him.
As I was writing this, I got the sense that some of the things that you all are holding on to are a really big deal. Some of the things that have been done to you are terrible and some even unimaginable. So I certainly do not want to write it off as insignificant or make it seem as if it is some easy thing to get over. What I am saying is that forgiveness is possible, and as much as this thing hurt you, holding onto unforgiveness is hurting you even more. It is hurting you physically in your body and in your emotions, and it is also holding you back from what God wants to do in your life. It is robbing you of your best life right now.
Do you think it is a coincidence that right after Jesus teaches us how to move mountains that He then goes on to tell us to make sure we forgive anyone we may be holding anything against.
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” - Mark 11:22-25
No, it’s not a coincidence. Jesus is not changing the subject here. Instead, He is making a connection between forgiveness and your prayers being answered. If we do not forgive, we are hindering our prayers, and I don’t know about you but I cannot afford to have my prayers hindered. The person whoever they are and whatever they have done has already taken away enough from you. Do not allow them to take away the power of your prayers as well. Ask God to help you to forgive. He has enough grace to make us strong when we are weak. His grace is sufficient for you. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Fear is to the devil what faith is to God. Let me explain. When you are operating in faith, you are putting your trust confidence and belief in what God says, but when you are operating in fear, you are putting your trust, confidence and belief in the lies the enemy is trying to feed to you. We know that fear does not come from God because He makes it clear in His Word. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7
The reality is that fear is going to come. There will be many instances where you will want to fear because of the particular circumstances; however, just because fear comes does not mean that you have to accept it. Just like if FedEx came to deliver a package to your door that you know does not belong to you, you can return to sender. Do the same thing with fear. Return that package instead of opening it up, letting it loose and allowing it to grow in your heart and in your life.
Fear can be crippling. It can paralyze you and cause you to remain stagnant. It can rob you of your hopes and dreams, and it can kill your spirit. Fear is something that you do not want to take root in your heart and grow because it tends to bring other things with it when it comes such as anxiety, stress, hopelessness and the like.
So how can you combat fear whenever it tries to rear its ugly head? Meditate on God’s love for you. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out, (drives out, evicts, expels) all fear. Most of the time fear seeps in as a result of meditating on all of the wrong things. We begin to think about all of the worst case possible scenarios and everything that can go wrong instead of all the things that just may go right. A recent study proved that most of the things that we think about anyway never even come to pass. The results of the study found that “85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.” (Huffpost)
So, the next time that fear tries to creep in do not cooperate with it or tolerate it. Break out your Bible, and begin rehearsing God’s perfect love for you. Read it out loud, write it down, think about all of the ways that He has come through in the past. Do whatever you have to do to push down that fear until perfect loves come in and evicts it. You are in control of your own thoughts and emotions. Do not let the enemy have a field day in your mind. That’s where the battlefield is and that’s what you have to take control of in order to win the battle over fear.
3. Offense (towards God)
You ever been hoping and expecting for God to do something only to end up disappointed? You did everything you knew and was taught to do. You confessed your sins, repented, prayed extra hard and extra long, declared, decreed, bound things, loosed things, spoke scriptures and still ended up disappointed? Maybe you’ve tucked the disappointment somewhere in the back of your memory or maybe it’s still at the forefront of your mind. Wherever or whatever it is, unresolved offense towards God (or anyone for that matter) can be a toxic and damaging thing. We have got to get this foundational truth rooted deep down on the inside of us:God IS GOOD. God is good no matter what. It is important to really know this so we will not be shaken or moved when circumstances come that try to tell us the opposite. These circumstances have the potential to cause us to harbor offense towards God because we believe that He should’ve would’ve or could’ve done something in particular. Imagine that...the creation telling the Creator, how and when to move or act. God help us.
Jesus had something to say about offense. His forerunner and cousin, John the Baptist was sitting in jail and had become offended because Jesus had seemingly not done anything to get him out. He knew that Jesus was going around doing all of these miracles for other people yet, it seemed that Jesus was doing nothing to help his own cousin. The result? Offense. John the Baptist began to doubt that Jesus was even the Messiah when he himself had bore witness to the fact that He indeed was. He was present when the Holy Spirit came and descended like a dove, landing on Jesus after he baptized Jesus in the Jordan river. He heard the voice from heaven say “This is my son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” -Matthew 3:16-17. But that is what offense will do. It will cause you to question if God truly is who He says He is. It will cause you to question His heart and His motives towards you. Is God really good? Does He really love me? As a matter of fact, is he even real? Because He can’t be if He would allow x, y z to happen. We have to be very careful with that mindset because it has the potential to take us down a rabbit hole that we do not ever want to enter.
God wants to heal you of that offense today. See, John the Baptist never got released from prison. Unfortunately he was beheaded and possibly dies in his offense. But God wants you to experience His goodness here in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). I can’t help but to think that maybe, just maybe if John the Baptist would have held onto the fact that God is good, and not have gotten offended then he could have made it out of that jail and not have been beheaded. That’s my theory anyway.
While, I am not sure of what could or would have been of John the Baptist, what I am sure of is that if you are reading this then that means you have breath in your body and you are still in the land of the living. That is something to bless God about, and that is a reason to keep on going. That means that God is not finished with you yet, and you have a beautiful purpose here on the earth. Instead of living barely knowing how you’re even making it, choose today, right now that you are going to live your best life right now. It is going to take you making some intentional changes, some internal and some external but the results, I promise, are well worth it. God’s got you.
Still Hidden in Him,