Friday, 31 December 2021

In This Dark World, Do Your Words Leave Room for Hope?


It was a simple, short sentence. Just three words really.

But I’ve been haunted by them ever since.

Convicted by the lack of hope I left in their wake.

Has that ever happened to you?

You open your mouth, and out comes words that you regret the moment they take wings and fly. Or maybe, you don’t feel it right away. Perhaps, it takes some time for the uneasiness to settle into your consciousness and ruffle your conscience.  But sooner or later, it pricks you.

You want to shine light and sprinkle grace with your words, to point others to the hope you find in Christ, yet sometimes you do just the opposite. You proclaim a death sentence. A chilling judgment that leaves no room for hope, no encouragement to look for how God will show up, as He always does.

Yes, I know, I understand. The situation looks dire. It has been years and your loved one is still caught in a pattern of self-destructive behaviour. Your bills keep outrunning your income, and you feel like you can’t keep up. And as for your health, some days you don’t even have the energy to fight on. But hear me, carefully. All is not lost.

God is still on His throne, and you are still His child. He is working in ways you can’t even see, and He hasn’t lost sight of you or the problems that plague you and your loved ones. In fact, He still has the whole world in His grasp.

There is hope. Always hope.

I’m a firm believer that one cannot live without hope. And there is no surer hope than the Hope found in God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son.

So, how do we keep this Hope front and centre? How does it seep into our very beings, so much so, that it overflows in our words and actions?

As we bid farewell to 2021, and with it the second year of the global pandemic, I’m choosing three simple R’s to hold onto Hope.

1) Reflect on God as Light

The words of John 1:5 seem to be stuck on full beam in my mind.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~ John 1:5 (ESV)

I can sit with that verse for the whole day. It reminds me that no matter how dismal or dark the world or our circumstances seem, darkness does not win; God’s light always breaks through!

Sometimes, though, it’s hard to find the light. Sometimes, it takes time for our eyes to adjust to the darkness, to search for the shards of light breaking through. But they are always there. To help us see, we need to take time to remember.



2) Remember the Goodness of God

When we glance back over the year, and our gaze descends on the dark days, let’s look closely for the sparks of light. Let’s choose to remember what God has done for us, how He showed up in merciful and surprising ways.

For instance, I think of the pain of losing my sister-in-law, way too soon, and yet I remember God’s mercy to her and the light she shone so brilliantly in her life and even in her dying. Yes, the pain is still there, even overwhelming at times, but somehow by remembering God’s mercy, it becomes more bearable.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to minimize or disregard your pain, I’m simply reminding us to look for God. He has promised never to leave us and when we look back and remember, we can see that He has kept His word.

This is exactly why we rejoice.

3) Rejoice in the Steadfastness of God

Even when life feels uncertain, when everything around us is changing, and we are struggling to find solid ground, we can rejoice. Why? Because God is steadfast.

He never changes, He remains the Rock we can stand on, cling to, and find shelter in. And He constantly pursues us with His unchanging love. Even when we have failed to reflect Him, to use our words and actions to spread hope, He offers us grace.

Nothing quite fills us with hope like rejoicing in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God.

So, there you have it, my friend, nothing complicated, just three simple R’s to help us hold onto Hope and shine light and sprinkle grace wherever we go.

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What about you?

Do you need to take time to reflect, remember and rejoice today?

Do you ever feel convicted by your hope-stripping words?

Don’t worry, God’s grace is sufficient for us all. 

As we reflect on God as our Light, remember His goodness and mercy to us, and rejoice in his steadfast love and faithfulness, may the hope that He offers consume us.

May this Hope sink in deep and settle in the crevices of our hearts, our minds, our very souls. May it touch everything in our lives, the way we see the world, the way we interact with others, and especially the words that we use.

May our hope-drenched words shower us and others with the courage to keep on believing.

For isn’t that what we all need in this world? May God help us all.

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Grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie

Friday, 10 December 2021

Behold Your God - The Pathway to Peace

 


Today for the first time, I think, I'm joining the Five Minute Friday link-up. I just couldn't resist the word 'Behold'. It makes such a difference when I pause to behold my God in all His majesty and beauty!

Do you ever forget who you’re praying to?

Well, no, of course not, you say. That sounds ridiculous.

But sometimes, if I’m not careful, I think I forget. And perhaps you do too, as well.

Let me explain.

Sometimes, I rise from my place of prayer, walk back into my day, and right away pick back up the very worries and concerns God has asked me to leave with Him.

It’s as if I forget that He’s not only able but willing to carry my burdens and fill me instead with His peace.

In essence, I have failed to behold my God, to remember just who I am talking with.

So, now, in my quest for living, breathing, beautiful prayer, I have made ‘Behold my God’ my very first step.

When I pause at the beginning of prayer to fix my mind on God as revealed in His Word and His world, my perspective shifts and my peace deepens.

I remember that He is my all-powerful, loving Father in Heaven who works all things out for my ultimate good and His glory.

Sometimes, I think of His omnipresence, His outside-ness and above-ness of time and space, and it comforts me that He is with my loved ones all over the world, all at once. Or I might ponder the power-pack of His omnipotence and steadfast love, as I bow in thanksgiving that He is as good as He is powerful.

In fact, more than just a path to prayer, beholding God in all His beauty and majesty can fill my whole day, indeed, my entire life.

What about you? What does beholding God look like for you?

One of my favorite 'Behold' passages in the Bible is Isaiah 40. Why not take a few minutes today to dive into that chapter; I know you will be blessed.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie 

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Tips & Tools to Help You Sit Awhile with God


“Father, please help . . .”

The words trickle seamlessly through my mind. There is no hesitation, no doubt, because I know He’s always there, listening.

As I walk through my day, hand in hand with my Father in heaven, conversation flows naturally. When I run into a challenge or think of someone who is struggling, I reach out to Him; I know that He’s waiting for my call, ready to help.

“Thank you, Father…” I whisper as I’m reminded of how good He is and of all that He’s done for me.

No matter how busy the day gets, we talk throughout the day.

But it’s not enough. I crave deeper. For our relationship to grow and flourish, I need to accept God’s invitation to enjoy quality time in His presence. To walk right up to His throne, sit a while with Him, and learn of Him and from Him.

But I don’t always take the time. And when I don’t, I can tell the difference.

If you’re like me, sometimes it feels like an invading army has been unleashed against your good intentions. A wandering mind, physical and emotional fatigue, doubts, a busy schedule, and simply being overwhelmed with the cares of life all seem to join forces in the attack. 

Not to mention, if we’re being honest, oftentimes, we are simply not comfortable with being so exposed in front of God. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s true, just ask Adam why he was hiding in the garden.

So, how do we fight back? How do we mount a counterattack and win the prize of a close relationship with our heavenly Father?

Prepare your heart

First, let’s start with remembering that God is merciful, and good, and loving, and faithful. Offering atonement for our sin and inviting us into His presence, He welcomes our honesty. He doesn’t turn away from our heart-deep desire to draw close to Him and renews and refreshes our strength. And, most surprisingly, He adopts us as His own.

When we call to mind who God is, talking to Him becomes a cherished privilege, one we are quick to ask Him to help us embrace.

Embrace the privilege

One of the best ways to embrace this privilege of prayer is soaking up the pages of the Bible. In it, God reveals to us His delight in a relationship with us, reminds us that prayer is a two-way communication pathway, and prods us to listen just a tad more than we speak. The Bible overflows with real-life examples of people, just like us, crying out to the God of the universe who answers in real, tangible ways. It shows us the intimacy, the power, the privilege of honest to the bone, humble prayer. Whether as poems, laments, prose, or songs, the prayers of the Bible are given to us to help us draw near to God.

Play music

Another great way of drawing near to God is through His gift of music. God loves music. He rejoices over us with singing, and throughout the Bible, from Exodus to Revelation, music features prominently as His people gather to worship Him. It is no wonder then the impact music has in helping us to express our praise and thanks to God.

Over the years, I’ve compiled various playlists that help to quiet my heart and usher me into a sweet time of fellowship with my Father in heaven, no matter what is happening in my life. My most recent  – Songs of Prayer is compiled of songs that seem to flow directly from my heart to God’s in melodies that I could only dream of singing. 

Pray

But the best way of all to connect with God’s heart is simply to talk with God. Yes, I know I said, simply, but to be fair, we all know that, sometimes, it can be quite a challenge to quiet our minds long enough to have a meaningful conversation with the One we can’t see. 

So, oftentimes for me, I start with the Bible in hand. As I listen to His voice revealed in the Scriptures, I respond in prayer - praising Him for His majesty, thanking Him for His goodness and grace, seeking forgiveness for my sins, and asking for His blessings and guidance.

And if my mind still wanders, I find that it helps to pray out loud, either alone in my room with God or as I walk with Him outdoors. There’s just something about being in nature that pulls my thoughts and praise upward.

Writing my prayers and thoughts out has also been very helpful to me. Something mysterious happens when our thoughts flow through our fingers and onto the page. As our minds become more engaged through the handwriting process, our focus sharpens, and our understanding deepens. Clarity often follows and we’re left feeling more at peace or refreshed or relieved.  

You can choose any journal you like, but because my two new journals have enriched my quiet time with God so immensely, I knew I couldn’t keep them to myself. So, for the first time, I’m excited to share about them below.


Beholding the Majesty of God – A Scripture Writing Journal’ is designed to help us stand in awe of God. As we write out each scripture passage that focuses on an attribute of God, we're drawn into a deeper appreciation for who God is. And isn’t that what life is all about – to know God more and more. I think you would enjoy its’ simple, inspiring design.

My other journal, the ‘Live Amazed Prayer Journal – Embracing the Privilege and Power of Praying for Others’ also features scripture writing, but it has an even further benefit. It helps us to be other-focused in our prayers, reminding us that our powerful, loving Father invites us to pray for all people everywhere. Indeed, God has reserved blessings to pour out in direct answer to our prayers. This journal celebrates God and all that He is doing in our lives and our world. I pray that it will help us to live amazed at God through prayer.

If you're interested in learning more about the journals, you can visit my Journals page HERE.

My friend, I know that, like me, you crave a deep, abiding relationship with God. I hope the tips and tools I’ve shared today will help as you strive to connect deeper with Him.

But remember, there is no right or better way. Mix it up or keep it consistent, just do what works for you. And that, right there may be the most important tip of it all – Just Do It. 

Don’t wait for things to fall into place or to feel right, or the busyness to pass, just reach out to God, now. He’s right there, just waiting to hear from you. He doesn’t mind our jumbled words and scattered thoughts (trust me, I know); He simply wants a relationship with you. Don’t let ideals keep you away from the One that promises, “ I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

 

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What about you? 

Can you feel the difference when you miss spending time with God?

 Do you wish sometimes that you could just press pause and reconnect with God? 

What are some things that distract or deter you 

from taking advantage of God’s rejuvenating offer? 

How will you connect with God today?



May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie

Monday, 11 October 2021

How Sitting Awhile With God Helps Me to Live Amazed

 


Here’s what I think I should do, God. Sounds, good? Okay, let’s go! Have you ever told God where you want to go and how you want to get there, then asked Him to bless it? Yeah, me too.

Walking with God is an interesting adventure. For me, it means actively living out my faith while being totally dependent on Him, yet sometimes, I get too focused on the walk. My walk. My plans. Sure, I convince myself, I’m doing it all for God, but if I don’t take the time to sit awhile with God first, I venture out in my own strength. And we all know where that leads.

Turns out, talking with God is the vital link to walking with Him. When I lean in close to listen to God, I hear Him more clearly. Then, He shows me when to march on, when to stand still and when to sit awhile and rest. And even more, He gives me everything I need to do exactly what He’s asking of me.

I’m amazed really at how patient He is. He never lets my hand go, listens to all my rambling, scattered thoughts, and gently but firmly guides me in the way that I should go.

Sometimes, it might mean marching on like a soldier at war to carry out the mission He has set for me. At other times, He calls me to stand still, shielding me with His body, while He fights for me.  And still, there are times when He simply whispers, “Let’s just sit a while.”

And just like that my focus shifts from service for Him to devotion to Him. I toss aside my plans, my ideas, and take the time to be still with Him, to listen for His voice.

When I sit awhile with God:

He reminds me of who He is in all His glory, and I bask in His light.

He receives me as I am, broken, weak, prone to wandering, and welcomes my open and honest confession.

He reaffirms my chief aim – to love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind, and to allow His love to flow through me.

He refills my gratitude, reminding me that all I am and all I have are gifts from His hand.

He renews my faith and helps me to step steadily towards the miracle I know is there, but I can’t yet see.

He reassures me that despite the chaos swirling around us, He is still sovereign and good; He has a plan, and He will provide.

He prepares me for the next phase of our journey and gives me the courage and boldness I need to move forward when He gives the word.

Yep, sitting awhile with my God fills me with peace, hope, and courage and helps me to live amazed every day. Who would have thought that sitting a while could be such a vital part of walking with God?





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What about you?

Have you taken some time lately to sit awhile with God? 

What is he calling you to do? 

March forward? Stand still? Or simply rest and wait for His word? 

Why not lean in close today and listen for His voice.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 ESV )

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If you need help scheduling some time to be still, my friend, Shaunelle Drake, invites you to SitAWhile while she plays inspirational piano music for you. I have enjoyed several sessions with Shaunelle while in the comfort of my home. If you long to pull away from the noise and sit awhile with God, I encourage you to visit Shaunelle's site to register for the next SitAWhile right HERE.  

May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie

Sunday, 5 September 2021

When God is the Only One Who Can Help


I read the passage through again and sighed. Oh, how I could relate.

Under attack? Check

Done all I could? Check

Defeat seems inevitable? Check

Sometimes, I tire of hearing my own prayers. Deliverance seems like a distant dream.

But then there is this:

Servant-child of the living God? Check

And therein lies my hope.

“On what do you rest this trust of yours?”

It was a question put to King Hezekiah of Judah while he was defying the King of Assyria. And it’s a question for us today.

It’s time for some good ole soul searching, my friend. The kind that makes us squirm and shift our gaze.  Uncomfortable yes, but in a good way so long as it makes us confront the idols we’ve placed right up there, next to God.

If I’m honest, my confidence doesn’t always rest in God alone. It’s scary and painful just to type that. Yet, the truth remains, sometimes, my trust is divided. And deep down I know, God is not pleased with divided trust.

So, as I wait for deliverance, I go back to King Hezekiah. Where did he place his confidence? What were the steps in his rescue? What is God telling me about Himself through this biblical account? And how can I respond?

Desperate and Distraught

‘This is what Hezekiah says: this day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them.’ (Isaiah 37:3bNIV)

Unfortunately, sometimes we have to come to the end of our rope before we are desperate enough to turn to God ALONE. When all our carefully researched and resourced steps, taken to guard against a threat, prove to be woefully insufficient, we recognize our dire need for God. Despite King Hezekiah’s vast preparations, He could see no way out. Unless God intervened, Jerusalem would, like the surrounding fortified cities, be reduced to a pile of stones.

When you think of your situation, the one for which you have been praying for deliverance, is God the ONLY way out?  Or do you still have some cards hiding in your back pocket?

Humbly Seek Godly Counsel and Prayer

Coming face to face with their stark inability to defend themselves against the superpower Assyria, King Hezekiah did what any godly king would do, he humbled himself before the living God whose limitless power ALONE was able to deliver them. Tearing his clothes and wearing sackcloth, Hezekiah went into the temple of the Lord and sent messengers to the prophet Isaiah asking for prayer. What about you?  Are you in this battle alone? Or have you reached out to the family of God requesting prayer?  

Spread it All Out Before the Lord

But it is in King Hezekiah’s prayer and what follows after, that I find the most hope. Having received a written threat from the King of Assyria openly insulting God and His ability to deliver them, Hezekiah went before the Lord and spread it out before Him.  

Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.  Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

 ‘It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands.  They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands.  Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.’ (Isaiah37: 14-20 NIV)

Here is my shortened, highlighted version:

You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth, hear, see, deliver us, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.  

Oh, I have so much to learn from this prayer. Who am I praying to? The One who made heaven and earth. Does he hear and see? He sure does. Can He deliver us? Without a doubt.

Wait for His Deliverance

So, when I’m desperate, distraught by the seemingly insurmountable problems I’m faced with, I can do like King Hezekiah, I can humble myself before the living God, seek godly counsel and prayer, and spread out the details before the Lord. Then I wait, for surely, He will answer.

And when I read the words: ‘Because you have prayed to me . . . this is the word the Lord has spoken', I feel God whispering to me, ‘keep praying, I’m hearing and I’m seeing, don’t give up, have faith, trust that your deliverance will come’.  


Such words of hope and assurance!

Yet, if I’m honest, sometimes I wish my deliverance was like King Hezekiah’s. Quick and overtly miraculous. A vast army wiped out in an instant, the retreat of the boastful Assyrian King, clearly the hand of God at work. But my deliverance has not been quick. In fact, though I often see glimmers of hope, the threat remains very real.  

But the more I lean into God and His Word, I’m reminded, that sometimes the rescue takes time and often it can be scary. I mean, just think of the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea. What do you think it felt like crossing over the seabed with walls of water towering on either side? Not the most comfortable feeling, I imagine. So, yes, I keep praying, assured that God hears and sees and is both willing and able to bring deliverance. And most of all, I’m learning more and more to trust His timing. When deliverance comes, it will be clear; it is entirely by the hand of the LORD, and He ALONE is God.

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What about you?

In what area of your life are you desperate for God’s deliverance?

For a fresh burst of hope and assurance that God hears, sees, and saves read the full account of King Hezekiah’s response to the Assyrian threat in 2 Kings 18 & 19 or Isaiah 36 & 37.

God’s Word is indeed alive and active, and useful for equipping us for the good work of persevering in prayer.

 

May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie
 

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Do You Believe in the Providence of God?

 


To say that I’m amazed is a gross understatement.

I’ve been chosen for an assignment, grand in both scope and impact, and on my own, I’m not even slightly qualified for it.

Many days I tremble and shake under the magnitude of its responsibility, yet I keep pondering the profound privilege that it is, and so I keep coming back.

How could I say no?

I have been invited to link arms with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and allow His goodwill to penetrate every aspect of my life, the lives of my family and friends, indeed of the whole world simply through my faith-filled prayers and child-like trust in His providence.

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Welcome to the last post in the series The Five B's of Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer. In this post, we’ll discuss phase four – Beseech Him and phase five – Be Open to the Spirit’s Leading. You can catch up on the previous posts in the series, by clicking on the links below:

Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer series

Phase 1: Behold your God – Marvelling at the Wonder of God

Phase 2: Bless His Holy Name – Why Blessing God is Absolutely Good for You

Phase 3 – Bow Before Him – How to Get Real & Embrace the Gift of Apologising to God

Bonus post – Three Key Steps to Claiming Victory in Life’s Battles

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What do you ask God for?

Do you pray for health, safety, and maybe even a little wealth? Do you seek His help and guidance in your relationships? What about spiritual blessings? Which ones do you seek? And are your prayers centered mainly on your immediate circle or do you pray in ever-widening circles, even touching the whole world?

I remember a time when I was confused about what I could ask God for. I didn’t want to be selfish or misguided in my prayers by asking with the wrong motives or for the wrong things, so often my prayers would be some variation of ‘Your will be done’. Though it had the appearance of piety, looking back I see that my prayer life was shallow and immature. At the time though, my heart’s desire was pure: I simply wanted to pray within the will of God. But there was a problem.

I am not God. Never was. Never will be.

The good thing is -  He’s not asking me to be.  He simply asks me to believe in His providence and in His willingness to unfold certain events or aspects of His will in a direct answer to prayer.

What is meant by the Providence of God?

‘The almighty everywhere present power of God, whereby, as it were by His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth, with all creatures; and so governs them, that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, all things, come not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.’ ~ The HeidelbergCatechism (1563)

Understanding the providence of God helps me to accept His answers to prayer whether they are no, yes, or not yet. I can be confident ‘that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul; and further, that whatever evil He sends upon me in this vale of tears He will turn to my good; for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing also, being a faithful Father.’ ~ Heidelberg Catechism (1563)

I often tell my children, ‘You know I only want what’s best for you, right?’ I believe my words and actions have proven it so many times, that they have come to accept it as truth. They have been blessed with many good gifts from me. Nonetheless, sometimes, when they hear those words, they wince, sensing that whatever it is they are currently asking for is probably going to be denied. Yet, somehow, hearing me speak those words softens the blow because they’re convinced that I truly have their best interest at heart. Even if the best doesn’t feel good at the moment.

‘If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him.’ (Matthew 7:11 ESV)

Turns out I don’t have to worry, like I used to, about what to pray for and how to pray, because: 

1) God always answers what is best. I can be honest with Him and bring to Him my desires and even when I don't understand, I can rest assured that His answer is for my good and His glory, and 

2) God graciously shows me how in His Word. He has given me His whole Word for direction and even more specifically He has set an example for me in the Lord’s Prayer. In fact, the closer I walk with Him, the more He guides me into the very prayers that I should pray.

Do you see why I am amazed?

What about you? 

Do you live amazed at the goodness, majesty, and mercy of God?

Have you fully embraced the privilege and power of prayer?

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The Live Amazed Intercessory Prayer Journal which follows the prayer pattern set by our Lord was designed to help us take full advantage of the privilege of prayer. It has helped me to pray more specifically and intentionally for a wider range of persons, needs and places all while drawing me near to God in worship and thankfulness. 


To accompany my prayer journal and to help usher me into a time of worship, I compiled a YouTube playlist called Songs of Prayer. As I listen to these songs, I am able to behold the majesty of God, bless His Holy Name, bow before Him in reverence, respect, and repentance, beseech Him for all things necessary for soul and body while remaining open to His Spirit’s leading. It is always a time of sweet fellowship with my Father. 

I pray that you find this series on prayer helpful and that the Songs of Prayer playlist will help to enrich your worship experience as you persevere in and enjoy the gift of Living, Breathing, Beautiful prayer.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie

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Complimentary resources and links: 

Live Amazed Intercessory Prayer Journal.

Download here

 




Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Three Key Steps to Claiming Victory in Life's Battles

'I'm living out the victory, doesn't mean I won't feel the heat' ~ Jordan St. Cyr (Fires) ~

It has been a rough couple of years, and I can't think of anyone who remains unscathed from the struggles. As war-torn and battle-weary as we are, sometimes we forget who we are and what we have been given. And in the forgetting, fear and stress creep in and the wearing down begins. We feel discouraged by the string of punches life throws at us and inept to come up with a fight strategy, much less execute it. We may even resign ourselves to accept: “This is how it’ll always be, down for the count.”

But, my friend, getting used to defeat is not for us. Sure, it will pop its ugly head in from time to time and may even throw us a sucker punch and knock us straight out. In fact, as believers, I think it’s almost inevitable that we experience these seasons in our lives. Times when we feel especially attacked as we try to honour God in our lives, or we struggle to overcome a repetitive sin that we just can't seem to conquer. Yet we don’t stay down, we get back up, jabbing and blocking blows as we move forward.

But, how do we do it? How do we remember who we are and claim the victory we have been given? Lean in close, and let me share with you what I've been learning. 

Stay Watchful

It starts with keeping our eyes open. My son always teases me that I’m not spatially aware. I may bump into people on the street, for example, because, according to him, I’m not aware of my surroundings. Well, knocking into some poor unsuspecting stranger is mild compared to what can happen when I remain spiritually unaware of what’s going on around me.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.(ESV) ~ 1 Peter 5:8-9 ~

You see, we must not forget about the battle. Ongoing, even now, in a realm that we can’t see. It’s fierce, and it’s real.  When I remember this, I’m not surprised by the left hook striking from the corner, in fact, I’m expecting it, and I’m ready. It’s true sometimes, I get distracted, and that left hook sends me reeling, but the blow reminds me. It reminds me of where I am and who I’m fighting.

Most of all it reminds me whose side I’m on - the Victor’s side. He has chosen me, and He fights for me. Remembering gets me back on my feet and steels me for the fight. It makes all the difference.

Suit up and Fight 

First I remain watchful, and second, I fight. 

But I’m not alone in the fight. There is Someone in the ring with me and He offers me His armour empowering me with strength, wisdom, and discernment. I cannot lose.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. ~ Ephesians 6: 10-13 ~

In my battle against sin, I must remember this. For example, in my last post: How to Get Real & Embrace the Gift of Apologising to God, we talked about the gifts of confession and forgiveness. Being both deeply sorrowful for our sin and deeply thankful for God's grace, we get to come to Him just as we are and enjoy the sweetness of renewed fellowship with Him. But as I reflected on how often I return to God with the same sin, I found this article from Pastor John Piper which challenged my fight strategy, or lack thereof. 

First, there is confession that, at one level, is expressing guilt and sorrow for sinning, but underneath there is the quiet assumption that this sin is going to happen again, probably before the week is out.

In other words, this kind of confession is very superficial. It’s a cloak for fatalism about your besetting sins. You feel bad about them, but you have surrendered to their inevitability. That’s one kind of confession.

The other kind of confession is that you express guilt and sorrow for sinning, just like with the first kind, but your hatred of the sin is so real that you have every intention as you confess of making war on that sin tonight, this weekend. You aim, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to defeat it. You are going to seek out whatever ways are going to help you put this sin to death. You are going to rob it of its power. That’s the plan — no hypocrisy. Now, those are the two ways of confessing sin. (desiringgod.org interview)

And just like God knew I would, I saw my error. I was looking for grace, receiving grace, but not expecting victory. I was not actively making war on my sin, but rather I was living defeated, accepting my inability to overcome. But didn’t God tell me that He has given me everything I need to overcome sin?

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. ~ 2 Peter 1: 3-4 ~


 

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. ~ 2 Cor. 10:3-5 ~



No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~ 1 Cor 10:13 ~


What I need is to start living like I believe in victory. To fight like I can taste it. To block the fiery darts and wield my gifted sword. To live convinced that God is indeed ‘greater than he who is in the world’ and equips me, even me, to overcome. (Romans 8:37



Taste the Victory

Finally, step three: I need to celebrate. I’m on the winning side, after all. No droopy shoulders, or head hanging low, just look at these passages from Scripture, we have a lot to celebrate. 


For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. ~ Psalm 18:39 ~

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ~ Romans 8:31 ~

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. ~ Psalm 3:3-4 ~

 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me. ~ Psalm 23:4 ~

 

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Cor 15:57 ~ 

Guaranteed victory! Isn’t that something to sing and shout about? In my thanks, in my fight,  and in my life, I can celebrate who God is, what He has done for me, and what He continues to do. And in the celebrating, miraculously, my weakness is replaced with His strength, and I hear the ding of the victory bell. Maybe I should do a little dance or perhaps shout from the rooftop: "Victory is mine!"

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What about you?

How are you battling right now?

Are you getting used to defeat? Or do you believe in victory?

Fight on, my friend, we may be battle-weary, but we can be victorious.

God has chosen us for victory, let’s be vigilant, let’s live and fight like we believe it, and let’s celebrate what God has already won for us.

 

May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie

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This post was a bonus designed to embolden us for spiritual battle. We'll continue with phase four of the Five B's of Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer in my next post. If you don't want to miss it, go ahead and subscribe to my blog, that way it'll be sent directly to your inbox when it's published. As a gift, you'll get a free printable of my Live Amazed Intercessory Prayer Journal which outlines all the phases and helps us to pray at all times.