mini devotional: freedom

for the past few days, my go-to song has been “Traveling Light“.

I noticed that when I move further from God/don’t do His will, I start to get burdened down by insecurities.


I remember when I was little, my mom would wait till I got home to spank me if I hadn’t behaved that day. I started cutting to the chase: I wanted to know what to expect when I got home. I started asking her if I had been good before we even made it home. I thought it was some recent poor habit I’d developed but I’m realizing I’ve always wanted to know what lies ahead. 


Verse & Prayer

this morning’s verse of the day is 2 Corinthians 3:17 –

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

that verse got me thinking about freedom. this morning I prayed for a sign and I got it. I wanted to be free from thoughts that often blind me and weigh me down. I just longed for freedom.

and I’ve been working on just talking openly to God about things. so that’s what I did when I prayed today. the point of prayer is to seek God’s Spirit – to look for it, to submit to it. and I found out today that when I prayed, I truly found God’s Spirit…I found freedom.


Morning Focus

on a morning call, God led me to focus on the story of the thief on the cross. I love how Jesus doesn’t force the 2nd thief to go through a bunch of rituals and traditions. all He gives him is assurance. assurance that not only will he be remembered, but that he’s received the most important thing that there is to receive in life – paradise. he immediately receives an assurance of salvation.

remember when I said earlier that when I don’t do God’s will, I start to get really insecure? Jesus’ words to this undeserving criminal can assure us that when we cry out to Him, He will save us. He gives us assurance. assurance is the opposite of insecurity.

remember when I said earlier that I love to know the future/what lies ahead?  Jesus’ words to this believer gave him an assurance of the future.

look at this verse from Romans 8:28:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

“we know“. I like that. not “we think“.

knowing something is assurance, not insecurity. no matter what you’re afraid of/what your situation is/what your hopes and dreams are – you know that God will cause everything to work together for the good. so even if your life doesn’t look exactly the way you want it to look right now – be patient. our futures are set when we entrust our lives to Jesus. we don’t have to worry about any aspect of our lives – money, food, clothing, education, careers, etc. even the things we consider bad or negative events will be worked out for good because God chooses to do that for people who love Him.

that verse can give us so much freedom if we accept it and live it today.

freedom from fear and anxiety – especially about the future.

freedom from insecurity.

freedom from burdens.

freedom from sin.


mini devotional: the one I wrote for V

It seems like when I’m losing focus, God sends the right word…passage…song…friend. This time around God sent a friend. A friend who encourages me and points my thoughts to Jesus. I keep editing and re-editing because I’m wondering if I’m talking about God too much. I’m wondering about how to reach you, Reader. How do I connect? I didn’t start this page or this blog for the followers. But that’s always in the back of my mind: I wonder if they’d like me more if I…

I don’t like doing things without purpose. I like to do things and see results. I think that’s why I love cleaning so much. Well, that and the fresh, clean air smell.

Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain our sight of purpose. We can get stuck in routine and wonder what it all means. We wonder whether we’ll ever get out of this rut or that situation.

Maybe that’s how the Israelites felt when they were enslaved in Egypt. Century after century they woke up to the same old limited freedom. Unable to worship the one true God perhaps because they had lost their sense of hope…and their identity.

Exodus 6:

“Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!’”

So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.

If you’re a little discouraged because life seems stagnant, I encourage you to take on a new perspective. You’ve never experienced today, tomorrow, or even the next moment. Each day brings new opportunity even if you’re doing the same old thing. Your identity is rooted in who you are in Jesus. Your identity is first and foremost (I really don’t like that phrase; feel free to suggest another one) in Jesus. That means that even when we’ve got nothing in life, we still have everything because our every thing is based on Jesus. If our identities are based in our achievements, friends, family, jobs, education, or anything but God, then we’ll find that our emotions go up and down like an unpredictable roller coaster because those things (achievements, friends, family, etc.) are always changing. But when we put our hope, faith, foundation in Jesus, we’ll find that even when we’ve got nothing, we have everything.

We’re not really at a loss at all.

And you know, Reader?

There is really no such thing as having absolutely nothing. It’s just a matter of perspective.

There is always something to be grateful for.

But you might need more.

So here it is.

This morning’s Bible verse from Isaiah 40:28

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

The God we serve doesn’t get tired of hearing from us. Further proof here.

The God we serve cares about every detail of our lives.

While you’re waiting for the next thing, change your perspective about the current thing, whether it’s a person, place, or situation.

Find God’s purpose for you. Find out what He wants you to do in the meantime. Use the talents you have in ways you never thought of.

just stand

a few days ago, one of my exes called. there's so much that could be said about the past calling.

you know the usual – you're supposed to be asleep but you get that text that reads

hey, are you awake?

I guess old habits die hard. you know the usual – flirting, temptation, pictures. but this time it was unusual. this time it was different. this time it was one-sided. and I don't know what it was. maybe, like he described later, it was maturity. finally. or maybe I was just bored…

I'm just so tired of being that girl. always a bridesmaid, never a bride. only this time it's always a…I dunno…well I know what I want to say but it doesn't flow as nicely. it's just not nice to not make it to full-fledged wife status with all the frills it comes with. I don't want to settle for anything less than the dream – the vision- that I believe God has whispered to my heart. and something within me just stood up and firmly said no. and I'm not writing about this to brag. I'm typing this out because I've never felt this feeling before. I feel as confident as I felt before I was an awkward, pimply teenager. I feel confident. I feel strong.

I just said no. I feel like I just can't live the same way anymore. Like the Woman at the Well, I'm looking to experience something new. I'm tired of the same old water that continually leaves me thirsty. I really can't do this anymore. Within a few moments of texting and talking, I realized I had grown. I couldn't believe what I was saying. I couldn't believe what I was refusing. And it didn't mean I'd be perfect – no I definitely slip every day, but thank God for grace through Jesus. I don't have to do it all on my own. I don't have to constantly fear slipping up. I can live and walk confidently knowing that my sins are forgiven and that God will help me to live life loved and to live life new. I don't need to return to the past. It doesn't fill me up anymore. And the truth is, it never has.

"In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall." Psalm 18:29

I am stronger. I am goal-oriented. I am focused on the benefits ahead and not on momentary pleasure.

Dear Reader,
Could you please pray for me? Pray for deliverance. I'm praying for you too. Even if you're not there yet – have faith. You will be. This God I serve is so great. So powerful. His love is endless. There's nothing too embarrassing, dirty, or unworthy.

"Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies;"

Psalm 103:4

Song: Clean

"There's nothing too dirty

That You can't make worthy

You wash me in mercy

I am clean

There's nothing too dirty

That You can't make worthy

You wash me in mercy

I am clean" – Natalie Grant, "Clean"

Thank God that we serve a God who's perfect; who loves us even though we don't deserve it. He fights our battles for us. We are never alone.

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

Song: I Am Not Alone

Sometimes we don't think of our bad habits as addictions. Or worse, we think that our bad habit is not as bad as his or hers. But praise God for deliverance. Have there been bad things that have happened this week? Life is filled with mess-ups, slip-ups, and breakups, but today let's make our minds up – we won't live life with a victim mindset. We can make it. We can overcome.

Song: Overcomer

Today let's celebrate the progress we've made. Lets give credit where credit is due instead of focusing on our failures. Let's replace fear of failure with faith in the future: hope. A hope that can only be conceived through a continual trust in Jesus.

Song: 'Tis so Sweet

Let's say thank you to God as we recognize how far he's brought us from our past. And let's look forward to the future.

just stay in your lane

I’m usually not a jealous person. At least I wouldn’t add that to my list of trait characteristics. But recently I had a repeat situation that reminded me of some things I need to take care of. Every Christian will face it at some point – the temptation to look outside of your lane. 

There will always be someone who is prettier/smarter/more skilled than you. Sometimes it’s just a matter of opinion (e.g “prettier). Sometimes it’s a matter of fact (e.g. “more skilled”). 

If you spend your entire life looking in the other lane, you’ll never appreciate all that God has in store for you. I think that’s why this verse is written the way it is:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6 

Giving thanks involves remembering. 

A memory is a powerful tool.

Remembering what God has done for you or others in your life or in the Bible can help shift your thought processes, making them less negative and more positive. 

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1-2 

Focusing on God is uplifting.

What does this have to do with jealousy and envy? someone is asking.

First this to clear up things, a few things I learned from Merriam Webster: 

“Though ‘jealous’ and ‘envious’ may both mean “covetous,” only ‘jealous’ may be used to mean “possessively suspicious.”” 

Jealousy comes with the threat of losing something while envy is wanting what someone else has. 

The biblical books of James and Ecclesiastes give us insight: 

James 4:2-3

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Ecclesiastes 4:4

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 

To stay in your lane, take your focus off the temporal. Don’t look to the left or right, only look to Jesus. He is the One Who tells us who we are. When you know who you are and how valuable you are to God, you won’t need to compare yourselves to others. When you compare, you will always fall short. 

There are various times in a Christian’s life where he or she has to ask God to help with his or her vision:

  • When you’re proud – God help me to see myself for who I truly am so that I can please you. (1 Peter). 
  • When you’re feeling lonely – God open my eyes to see that you are all around me. (1 Kings).
  • When you’re feeling threatened that someone might take what you have or you want what someone else has  – God help me to see that you have plans for me – plans to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

Here are a few power verses to lift your thoughts:

The Key to Anti-Jealousy: Stand firm in knowing who you are because God, who made you, said so. Stand firm knowing that God has good plans for your future.

  • Psalm 143:8-9 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, LORD, for I hide myself in you.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
  • Galatians 5:14-15 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
  • Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Key to Anti-Envy: Keep your eyes in your lane. Recognize that God’s grace and love are able to take care of you as well as everyone else in the world. His supply of love, grace and resources  is unlimited. 

  • Proverbs 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
  • Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…
  • James 3:16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
  • Hebrews 10:36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

when you just doubt.

I wanted to entitle this one “just hope” but that didn’t feel right.

I’ve experienced a lot of terrible situations in life that have left me fearful. 

Anxiety.

Imagine walking to your favorite restaurant. You already know how to get there so you don’t need a map. You know you need to cross a few streets and maybe wait at a few stop lights, but instead of walking the direct path from point A to point B, you stop behind each building you see along the way and then peek from behind the building’s walls before moving forward down the familiar path to your favorite restaurant. That’s what anxiety feels like to me. I feel like I have to hide behind bushes and buildings and wait to see if there’s any traffic rushing towards me before I step out into the street. I feel like a dangerous accident might happen. 

Drunken driver. Malfunctioning airbag. Deer in headlights. Flock of geese. 

I mean, anything could happen. 

And that’s what anxiety feels like to me – like I need to have a peek around the corner before something terrible happens to me. 

Sometimes when I feel that way, I remember this post I read a while ago “Expecting the good that God wants to give you“. 

If you’re too lazy to read that short article, here is a powerful line that stood out to me:

“Fear is the opposite of faith and it takes faith to accept anything good in our lives.”

This verse is powerful too:

All the days of the oppressed are miserable, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast. 

– Proverbs 15:15 HCSB

satan wants us to focus on the terrible things in life that have happened, are happening, or could happen. When you’re stuck on focusing on anything/anyone but God, it is so very easy to become anxious and depressed. We don’t focus on His abilities. We focus on our inabilities. When you see no way out, of course you’ll feel trapped and saddened.

Exodus 20:2-3. Israelites have just been delivered from slavery. God doesn’t want them running their lives by the rules of the old land so he gives them rules on how to live life free. 

The first thing He says to them is 

““I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. “You must not have any other god but me.”

Exodus 20:2-3 NLT 

If you look up the definition of “god” you’ll find it associated with words like worship and adoration and admiration. Whatever or whoever receives our worship, adoration, and admiration is our god. God wants us to make Him our priority. 

Rule #1.

Obtaining freedom from anxiety involves keeping God #1. Not our jobs (or lack thereof). Not homework. Not friends. Not boyfriends. Not girlfriends. Not spouses. Anything else you could name doesn’t count as God. 

But when we focus on God we learn things like true love (click this link & the ones below).

We learn that He is our refuge so we can run to Him at any time.

And not just any time in a fearful way but any time and confidently.

We learn that He’s forgiving

We learn that He’s patient.

We learn that He is merciful.

We learn that He can bring to fruition things that are seemingly impossible

We learn that He understands us.

Yup, understands us. 

And loves us exactly as we are

But too much to leave us there

When we trust Him with every aspect of our lives, He directs us. And He doesn’t just direct us in a far off, distant sort of way. He cares about every single detail of our lives. 

The God of Christianity isn’t at all a tyrant as some have presumed. He is the One who brings meaning to life. 

He brings good things to those who follow Him.

And our God is very good.

just wait. [pt.1]

I only have one verse for this one. Or at least I think I do. I often start off writing about one thing and then Holy Spirit guides me in a completely different direction. Truly, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (And…that was verse number two). 

Today’s focus verse is one I’ve stumbled across several times.

The smallest family will become a thousand people,
    and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation.

    At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” – Isaiah 60:22, (emphasis mine)

 I’ve thought about writing on it before but haven’t taken the time to do so. And maybe I guess it’s because I don’t like waiting or the topic itself so, deep within my subconscious, (in true Freudian style), I’ve purposely overlooked it. No matter the case, here it is – the blog about waiting. 

(Oh no…I just thought of several other verses…here we go again).

Now, in order for this Project to work, I have to be really honest with you. It’s a bit difficult because I’m balancing the fear of the unknown – I don’t know with whom exactly I’m being honest – with the fear of not being honest enough to the point that you, Reader, don’t know me and then this whole thing would fail. Well, let’s just get to it.

the past.

I’ve never been the best at waiting. I remember the days when my mom would come home sleepy from work and she’d fall asleep on the couch. Sometimes I’d ask  for snacks. It was as if I waited for those half-asleep couch moments, but I don’t remember being this skillful or forward thinking as a child. I remember the snack – Chewy brand granola bars. (Eating those several years later, I realize they aren’t really that great). One day she told me not to ask her for things when she was half-asleep! It was a reasonable request. But today I think that spoke more to my impatience and lack of self-control than I could have possibly wrapped my 9 year old mind around. 

I’ve never been really good at waiting. I was more of a “Why not?” kind of kid. In my own right I was a rebel in many things but not the kind you see in leather jackets in TV and not the kind that experimented in the way your mind probably wants to wander. But my inability to wait to think things through has repeatedly led my mouth to say things I only half mean which usually gets me in a whole lot of trouble.

Mm…no, I’m not being honest enough. I’ve been that “pushing past boundaries girl”. I usually don’t set out to test boundaries. I always set out to do what I want to do. That reminds me of Jessica Rabbit’s famous phrase “I’m not bad really…I’m just drawn that way.” (Seriously, that was such an an inappropriate movie for kids). And you know, I don’t want to pretend I’ve been the bad girl who broke the rules every chance she got. But as I’m looking through the Bible and especially the 10 commandments, I’m realizing I’ve fallen short and since all falling short/missing the mark is labeled sin, and all sin is displeasing to God, I’m on the same level as you no matter what you did and despite the differing consequences. 

Waiting

  • Breaking commandments #1 and 2, I’ve had other gods in God’s Presence. I’ve listened to my own reasoning, explained things away, been disobedient, trusted in myself, and especially trusted in my own timing. 
  • #3 takes a bit of thinking but I believe it applies. The third commandment is not to misuse God’s name. This is usually applied to saying it unnecessarily or not treating His Name with respect, but I believe it goes further than that. If you say you’re a follower of Jesus, then your words, actions, and even thoughts should reflect Him. When people look at you, they should see Jesus. They should be inspired by your call to a higher set of standards than anyone on earth could possibly provide. Every time I haven’t waited, I’ve misused the name “follower of Jesus” because I haven’t displayed who He is to other people. 
  • This one also takes some thinking. When I haven’t waited, it’s because I covet. I covet the great fashion sense someone else has. I covet her confidence. The list goes on and on. This opposes commandment #10. 

There are other ways my impatience/refusal to wait has directly affected God’s standards on: 

  • Purity
  • Self-control
  • Substitution/settling for something less than Jesus’ promise to give us “the more abundant life”.

But I read something today that has already begun to change my mindset. 

the future.

In part 2, we’ll talk about zitsfleisch, being still, conforming our will to God’s, the importance of “I, the Lord”, and more stuff on waiting. I promise I didn’t write this in parts just to make a point. I just know that there are people with less than remarkable attention spans because I am one of them.

the present.

I’m reading this book called “Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. 

One of the sections talks about this lie: “I should not have to live with unfulfilled longings”.

Here are a couple of the excerpts that really stood out to me: 

“Our society has bought into the philosophy that there is (or ought to be) a remedy (preferably quick and easy) for every unfulfilled longing. We are encouraged to identify our longings and do whatever is necessary to get those “needs” met.”

“Whether married or single we must recognize that it is not wrong to have unfulfilled longings – they do not make us any less spiritual. We must learn to accept those longings, surrender them to God, and look to him to meet the deepest needs of our hearts.”

Think about that. 

There are things this earth can’t satisfy. Every one of your longings won’t be met. But when the Lord is your Shepherd, you won’t be in want. You’ll have everything you need

Psalm 34:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

“Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.”

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” – C. S. Lewis