There are two powerful darts that aim to shoot us down, snatch away dreams and inject poison into our hopes and tries to deflate our faith. Those darts are fear and discouragement. Have you ever got shot in the gut by one of these darts? Most of us experience the unpleasant effects of fear or discouragement when we are burning up to do God’s work. When we are on purpose and intentionally trying to live out God’s will for our life, that when the darts come flying out of nowhere.
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Some of you are probably licking your wounds as you read these words. Maybe it was just a few weeks ago that you had boundless energy to do God’s work. The path in front of you felt familiar because God had planted the seeds in your heart, to carry out his will and you felt fulfilled because that’s exactly what you were doing, then all of a sudden bam! You’re hit with a wave of fear, intimidation, pessimism and a stream of negative thoughts that scream how unworthy and ill-equipped you are to be on this path. After the fear gets cozy it ushers in discouragement. All the confidence and enthusiasm you were bursting with is slowly drained by the poisonous dart that has intentionally found its way to you.
Fear and discouragement are the heavy artillery used by the enemy to derail you and extinguish the fire you have as a follower of Christ. If you’ve been under attack you know how debilitating and paralyzing it is to your spirit. So, how do you loosen the grip of the enemy’s hold in your life?
Just as God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous he commands us to do the same. How can we do this when we can barely see above the fear that’s clouding our vision and the discouragement that invading our heart? We can only do it through the assurance that God is with us always. If God who is all-powerful, omniscient, never-changing, who is limitless in possibility is always with us then fear and discouragement are already defeated. The Lord is our shield protecting us from the darts of the enemy. Through our faith and assurance, our courage and strength are born. We can be encouraged by the knowledge of the scriptures that assure us that God has our back.
When I’m in my groove and on my path of purpose a huge mistake I make that gives the enemy a clear shot is when I become self-reliant. The courage and strength I experience in the beginning are born from Christ, but then that old prideful self-appears and foolishly I start to rely on my own abilities, skills, and strength, placing my protective shield in a corner. The enemy is crafty! When he sees I’ve taken off my armor he will take full advantage of my unprotected state, target my weaknesses and vulnerabilities with a full-on attack. Suddenly I’ve veered off course. I’m deflated, doubtful and feel like a balloon that’s been popped. All that zeal for God is replaced with a hesitancy to go forward. Ladies this isn’t what God wants for us!
The key to strength and courage is allowing it to pour in through Christ. Let him fill you with his blessed assurance, let him wipe away the tears of discouragement and resuscitate you with a heart of encouragement! You have nothing to fear as long as you continue to be rooted in Christ. We don’t have to be strong on our own, we can’t! We need the Lord of infinite power to permeate our life to be a force field against the darts of the enemy so that we can become the masterpiece the potter had always planned!
I get bored with the same old New Year’s resolutions. You know, save money, lose weight, exercise, get organized, etc. They are all worthy goals and worth pursuing, but this year my goal is to simply smell good. No, I don’t have a hygiene problem, so if you happen to see me, please give me a hug! I promise there is no BO! Yesterday, I was catching up on some sermons from our church since we were away on vacation and my minister spoke of smelling good as Christians, based off of Corinthians 2:14-15,”But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” This scripture made me pause and reflect upon my own aroma. How often do I give off a pleasing aroma to my family, friends, strangers, neighbors, and church family? I also asked myself how often do I just stink? Or was I inconsistent in the aroma I was giving off to others which is just as bad as stinking!
Very hesitantly I had to admit that sometimes I was stinky. I didn’t mean to be smelly, but there were days that I allowed the stinky flesh to take over instead of allowing the sweet-smelling spirit of Jesus persevere, which is always regrettable. Regardless of any other goals, I hope to pursue, none is really more important than representing the love of Jesus. I want to be held captive by Christ’s triumphal procession and not held captive by my own ego. I realized the opportunities and assignments I missed to spread the pleasing aroma of Christ and how that doesn’t fit with God’s purpose for my life. I’ve spent some time thinking about when I have smelled good as a follower of Jesus and the joy it brought to others and I want more of that! I want others to look at me and see me as different, as a woman who loves Christ, who smells sweet and spreads that aroma in all circumstances.
My prayer is for God to reveal to me when I’m stinking and help me to choose the sweetness of his aroma. In a world that gives us plenty of situations to be downright smelly and I know I have a challenge in front of me. Out of the many goals of New Year’s past, this one means the most. I believe it is kingdom work that is life-changing. If I hope to maximize my God-given time on earth in a way that is pleasing to my Father, some pretty tough self-examination of my actions are needed, which require me to look at how my life is or isn’t glorifying God and to be consistent and honest with myself and God. If I want to spread the sweet aroma that Corinthians speaks about my life has to be less about me and my desires and more about Christ’s desires for me as his servant. So, I’m looking forward to seeking God more diligently, diving into his Word more intently, and trusting fully in the Holy Spirit and hopefully, I’ll start smelling better every day!
In a world that has an insatiable appetite for everything material, there are only a few things that really matter and are consequential. What matters above riches is a relationship with Jesus, wisdom, faith, and love. In these strange and trying times, I find myself angrier than usual, more easily offended and wanting to jump into the flesh in a New York minute. Everything seems a little louder, a lot more personal and there’s an underlying current of sadness and disappointment in and for the people in the world around me. I’ve been turning to the scriptures for solace and the word that is sticking in my head is wisdom.
Godly wisdom and not the world’s wisdom is an indispensable friend and guardian of my life as I weave in and out of situations that continue to surprise me. I am reminded to hold onto the instruction, to the God-breathed scripture and apply to my daily walk as a mom, a Christian and as a woman. I am so grateful for the blueprint of the Bible as I continue to walk along this crazy path called life. I know in this flawed world there is one thing that is flawless and that is the wisdom of the scriptures and my Savior Jesus Christ.
I’m standing in for a bible study class tomorrow that is on the Book of Psalms. Awhile, back I was studying Psalms and it was amazing to me how much of God’s character and heart was revealed to me and who the Lord is to me personally. This is just some of the characteristics that stood out to me. Psalms is a reminder that when we seek God he reveals exactly who he is to us.
Truth and Freedom are hot topics of conversation that are fiercely debated in our society and rightfully so. We should always seek the truth and fight for freedom for all people. But, real truth and genuine freedom don’t come from our lawmakers or the Constitution, it comes from Jesus, our salvation. Without Jesus, we are just slaves in and to this world to sin and to the lies, it tells. Truth is Jesus. When you’re aware of the truth, when you live it in your daily life and accept it in your heart, the chains that the world keeps you in is broken.
In truth there is freedom. The freedom that can’t be bought, that isn’t given to you at birth but the freedom that comes from Jesus. The world’s truth is distorted and gives you a false sense of freedom. How many of us said when we were younger, ” I just need to find myself.” I banked on finding myself for years! I searched for truth in the world and believed that freedom was based on my terms. Word of advice, to find yourself, first you must seek Jesus and accept him otherwise it’s a futile attempt that leaves you wandering in a wasteland. Identity doesn’t lie in self it lies in who you are as Christ and when that’s understood that’s when you find real truth and freedom. As disciples of Christ, we are so blessed that our freedom is secure in the truth of Jesus! Identity doesn’t lie in self it lies in who you are as Christ and when that’s understood that’s when you find real truth and freedom. As disciples of Christ, we are so blessed that our freedom is secure in the truth of Jesus!
Truth and freedom come with a price, not the price that Jesus paid, but it demands of you that go against the grain. It requires that you turn away from the world’s belief system and its falsely perceived idea of freedom and turn away from its norms. The counterculture life of being a Christian isn’t always comfortable, but when has being a follower of Christ ever been comfy? It requires courage and a deeply rooted faith that can stand among the criticism and not follow the crowd even when it seems easier. As disciples of Christ, we are so blessed that our freedom is secure in the truth of Jesus and doesn’t depend on the knowledge of the world!