I was taking my normal morning walk when something caught my eye and tried to lure me. A hand waving from the side of a building.
Was he calling me?
Sure enough, he was. He wanted me to come over.
Now, this time of day just happens to be my time with God. A time of walk and talk. It’s also a time I am really receptive to being used by him. So, for a split-second, I considered walking down and talking with this fellow.
Maybe I can reach him for Christ.
I took my ear buds off and yelled down the hill, “What do you want?” He motioned for me to come down to him – behind the liquor store.
I considered it, but I didn’t go. I didn’t go because:
He was standing behind a liquor store.
He was a he.
I got the feeling he was up to no good.
And as I walked away, I was in shock: How could I have ever considered doing something so dumb?
Around my house are tons of motels. There are also a lot of drug addicts and prostitutes. I came to realize upon reflection, he was likely a pimp.
Scary, I know.
But what I also realized is that sometimes the enemy can trick us in the name of Jesus. He can pull us into strategies, plans, motions or words we think are God-filled, but are actually traps set to nab us.
The serpent said to Eve, “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5)
The devil appealed to Eve’s senses with something spiritual. He lured her in with a promise of a greater vision of God. He made her believe she was doing something God already knew about. Likely, he made her feel like God was okay with it. He convinced her she’d have greater vision of good and evil.
God would want that, right?
“(Eve) wanted the wisdom it would give her.” (Gen. 3:6)
That doesn’t sound like such a bad cause, does it?
Beware: Just because God is involved doesn’t mean it is a God-cause.
Beware: Just because there is need, doesn’t mean that you’re the one God needs to walk into it.
Beware: Just because you want God’s ways doesn’t mean you go about it on your own.
The enemy will trick us with whatever device he knows will work. Sometimes, it is even things of God.
To fight this:
Act or don’t act.
If you choose not to act, don’t let the enemy trick you with the shame of “not doing”.
Maybe you are there too. Maybe there are miles of distance between you and your once beloved Father, God. Maybe you are irritated, although you likely don’t admit it. Maybe you feel God has let you down. Maybe you are counting up all the ways others have failed, hurt, and insulted you.
Maybe you can’t see straight because you want to let the world, have it!
We’ve all been there. Or at least I have. I remember, I felt God let me down so badly I’d go to church, pretend I was voicing the worship songs, count the lights and draw doodles on my notepad rather than giving the pastor one second of my listening ear.
It seems what others do to us, we displace onto God.
Which is why there is only one way out of this mess: forgiveness.
Yes, it is that word. The one we cringe at. Because we hate to do it. We hate, hate, hate to let go of the injury that was SO WRONG, SO UNDUE, SO MEAN, SO RUDE, SO INFURIATING…SO, SO, SO!
But, the reality is, that person, who injured us doesn’t continue to lose, when we hold on to bitterness, we do. That person who was horrible doesn’t get their due from our resentment, we do. We don’t hurt them. We are the ones who stay hurt. We are the ones who live the offense over and over. We are the ones who stay in pain.
Unforgiveness is the enemy’s trick. He steals, kills, and destroys the freedom waiting on the other side of our anger. He keeps us wrapped up in the agony of the unjust, the immoral and the inept. He keeps our mind off Jesus.
Indeed, he’s cunning. But, God is greater. And, so is forgiveness. It breaks every shackle. It tears off every band-aid. It restores peace. It renews joy. It returns us to high standing with God, where we feel okay with talking to him.
Forgiveness is our way home. Do you need to come home? To a God who wants to comfort you in your time of need.
Dear God, I am angry at ____ because they ____. I know that as I let them go, you will handle them. I hand them to you today, Lord. I forgive them in your name. I ask you to bless them and to keep them. I ask you to heal whatever was hurt within me as a result of them. Repair me. Repair them. Be near to me. Thank you, my God. Amen.
I’m not sure if any of you are like me. I have seasons where I am thinking all of the deep thoughts. I’m not sure what it has been about this summer, but my thoughts have weighed heavy on me. Since the Spring, I have felt a bit tormented in my thought life. It has come in waves and at times has overtaken me.
I have never really been one to deal with a scattered and heavy thought life, but here we are. I can’t help but think that the enemy can sense that the Lord has something of significance awaiting me.
I am also not one to look at the world around me and be so discouraged and yet, here I am. It seems as though there is attack and opposition and hate and oppression at every turn. The enemy is working overtime to destroy us.
I don’t know about you, but I never want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he beat me. As far as I know, our God calls us overcomers. He says that we are more than conquerors. He calls us to continue to fight the good fight and hold on to hope. Hope’s name is Jesus.
What does it look like to be an overcomer and to have hope when all appears hopeless?
We stand on the promises of God.
“…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
God’s Word is the ONLY the thing that has stood the test of time. Leaders and kingdoms have risen and fallen. Buildings and monuments have been built and have toppled to the ground. Religions have arrived and faded away. But, the everlasting God has never changed or left or lost His power. He is the same God who was before the foundations of the world. He is the same God that will reign for eternity when the world has burned away. This very God spoke and creation came to be. His word is a firm foundation. It doesn’t waver or fail. It is alive and active. It goes forth and accomplishes what He set out for it to accomplish. It does not return void. His Word instructs us to live by faith and not by sight. That requires us to hope despite what we can see.
We surround ourselves with truth tellers and encouragers.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-17
The world and all of its voices are unstable to say the least. Fair weather is the name of the game. One moment the crowd is for something and in the very next breath, they are against it. It’s honestly quite exhausting. I am ridiculously blessed to be surrounded by a strong community that is rooted in God’s Word. They have convictions and are not prone to compromise. They speak truth with all authority and call me up higher in my thinking and my doing. When I am hopeless, they have hope for me. They speak hope into my spirit. They remind me that my hope is in Christ and not in my circumstances.
We proclaim the grace of God boldly.
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11
The blood of Jesus and the Word of God are meant for salvation and changing lives. His Word is meant to bring hope to a hurting and hopeless world. And we were meant to conquer…to conquer the enemy, our flesh, fear. We were designed to be ambassadors and witnesses across the earth. But, how will the world around us ever come to know the hope we have in Christ? We must shed our fear and doubt and proclaim boldly His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for His creation. We must declare that He is trustworthy and that He is the bringer of hope and the lifter of our heads.
“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” Romans 4:18
Abraham was the king of hope. He followed an unseen God to an unknown land. He believed the promises of this unseen God decades before the promises was fulfilled.
Oh, that we would be a people of God…
Who hope when our flesh is weak.
Who hope when others tell us to give up.
Who hope when the enemy is waging war.
Who courageously hope against all hope.
If you are in a hopeless situation, I’d love to pray for you!
About Karina Allen
Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
“So, what is your life worth, anyway? Doesn’t look like much…”
Yes, that is what the person said to me. And, yes, it took everything in me, not to hit back with…
Well, hotshot, what’s your life worth?
Because, how do you reply after a question like this?
I didn’t answer. Instead, I sat there dumbfounded with a pocket knife hanging out my side. Like a victim. Bloody. All I could do was stare at it. Then, it hurt more.
And, while I knew, these words were insult-fueled, they were all I could think of…
Am I a waste? Am I no good? Does God think I am a failure?
Insults become attached to us – and come alive in us.
I wonder, has someone insulted you? Maybe they’re insulting you today? Maybe they won’t shut up in your mind.
Insults often hit like this:
“You’re sin caused this to happen.” “You are no good.” “You are ugly.” “You are selfish.” “You are rude.” “You don’t ever ____.” “You are worthless.”
(Add your own)
You know the words, but how do you know how to protect yourself? This is what has eluded me for decades.
Let me tell you about that, but before I do, let me tell you about my daughter.
She has this saying. It is one she speaks if she really doesn’t like, want, or consider something good to hear. When something comes at her like this, she pushes her hands towards you as if she’s handing back what she doesn’t want.
Then, she sings, “Take it, take it, I don’t want to bake it.”
She doesn’t receive it. She hands it back. And, so should we…
If words spoken, are only meant for insult, not to build, grow or transform…if they are only meant to hurt…we should do what my daughter does… push with our hands and mind and say, “Take it, take it, I don’t want to bake it.”
We don’t have to bake in our heart ungodly words deep in our soul. We don’t have to receive kill-words. We don’t have to permit someone’s injury to become ours.
Because then we get hurt and hurt others a similar way.
Instead, we can repent (if necessary) and not accept mean and hurtful words. Take it, take it, we don’t want to bake it!
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” (Eph. 4:29)
I’ve been watching the show, The Partner. In this show, Marcus Lemonis, puts many to the test but is selecting one right-hand-man or woman to be his partner. He puts each person through the wringer: he tests their knowledge of financial statements, has them run their own businesses, and places them in high-tension sales situations.
In a different way, God, also, is looking for just the right person…
…will He find you?
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chron. 16:9)
Just as Marcus noticed how his contestants endured under fire, God notices as well. Not with the goal of eliminating us, but much with the same goal – of promoting us.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Lu. 16:10)
Have you considered, the tests God is permitting are because he knows you’ll prove yourself strong, steadfast and worthy to move to greater things? Have you considered – he believes in you? Have you realized – he desires to move you into great and glorious things for his making?
At the end of the show, The Partner, there was 2 woman left: one was a Harvard genius the other was humble and willing to learn.
Marcus chose the second. I believe God often does too.
Where is your heart? Are you willing to learn? Or, are you set in your ways?
Notice: In 2 Chronicles 16:9, God didn’t say his eyes roam the earth for the best person, the wisest or the most qualified, he said he roams the earth to strengthen hearts “fully committed” to him.
To have a heart “fully” committed is to:
Ask God to search your heart.
Be willing to see what needs change.
To be humble enough to consider doing things differently.
To be open to God’s leading as he helps you do things differently.
To recycle, over and over again, items 1-4 above.
I believe, for this person: new doors are opened, their life is changed, and God’s hand blesses them in tremendous ways. Today, check your heart.
Yesterday, was the “day of all days” for my little 3-year old, turning 4. Her birthday! The girl wasn’t asking for much…no toys, no gifts…she only wanted one thing: to be like mommy. And, she only had one request: to get her nails painted. So, although I figured she was way too young for this, I scuttled her off in the car, expectant of what God would do for her – only later, becoming completely surprised about what he did – for me.
At the nail store, little sweetheart was mesmerized by all the rainbow colors, the nail tools and her mom – she kept smiling, giving me the thumbs up and delighting in how all the “big” people in the salon were saying hi to her.
All was happy. But, then they moved her chair – and rather than her being right next to me, she was across the store.
All I could think was:
I’m missing her moment! I’ve got to see my daughter! Can I smile at her from here?
Leaning my head to the left and right, trying to view her through a slat, aiming to give her my best look, I suddenly was struck…
God looks at me the same way: he wants to see me, delight with me and enjoy my moments.
Just as I want to bless my daughter, God wants to bless me too.
Just as I want to delight in her special moments, God wants to delight with me.
Just as I am thrilled to see her joy, God is thrilled over my joy as well.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Mt. 7:7)
Later, after we got home and she showed off her nails to her brother and daddy, I thought about the little gift, the one wrapped all up in the top of the: a new dress. Specifically the one I told her in the store was, “too expensive.”
I bought it for her. And all my mind kept returning to was the moment she opened it: her face, her delight, her life, her thrill.
God sees us too, as we open his best gifts: our face, our delight, our life, our thrill.
There is no shame in enjoying his good things. Our good, good daddy delights in the giving and he loves our receiving his very best.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from (our) Father…” (Ja. 1:17)
To the daughter who can’t forgive herself for years past. . .God already has.
To the person frustrated they do nothing right. . . Christ Jesus sees himself – purity and righteousness – in you.
To the gal repeating I’m sorry to God. . .Your debt is as good as gone; God keeps no record of your wrong.
To the lady who only half believes in her new identity. . . there is no half-way “you” in God’s handbook.
To the person who feels miles less than free, who the son sets free, is free indeed.
To the child who feels under the microscope, God looks at you and is well pleased.
To want to be more, to try hard for God, to give it our all, to push with all our hearts, these can be good noble things. Yet, trouble comes, when we believe the job belongs to us. When we pull out brute strength. When we expect to muscle our way into some kind of new-glory. God deserves all glory.
Likewise, relief comes when we know this: Our sanctification belongs to God. Our growth is his to impart. Our spiritual strength is His to build or rebuild.
Knowing this, is paramount, because then, when we scuff a knee, or get in a tiff, or injure a loved one by accident, our world doesn’t explode like Hiroshima. “He who is all strength” is still for us.
Keeping our minds stayed, in rest, with God is our highest calling.
We do this by:
Allowing our hearts and minds to be “rooted and established in love” (Eph. 3:17)
Praying we would know “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Eph. 3:18)
Opening our heart to need God’s nourishment, truth and direction.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. (Jo. 15:4)
Confessing and believing – what is done is done.
“You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Mi. 7:19)
God is at work. He knows you. He has destined you for his greatness and he is conforming you to his image: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image.” (Ro. 8:29)
The work belongs to him, the freedom belongs to us. It is his timeline, not our stopwatch and this realization = freedom.
Backing into my driveway today, from my rear view mirror, I could see the sign planted in the ground adjacent to the garage. It said, “This house is secured by ADT.” I needed this reminder from God. Because, while I might forget it — while I might feel alone, left behind, broken or tired, the truth is: I have personal security. And, so do you.
We all walk secured and protected by God: He holds our hand, He keeps our foot from slipping, He gives us his name, His strong tower and He always defends us.
“The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Ex. 14:14)
We have personal security!
This is a vital truth to remember. It is one to return to often, because, like colanders, we only hold Living Water until the gravity of the world pulls it out.
When empty, we wonder:
Is God good? Will he really help me? Do I have what it takes? How will I ever survive? Does God really care?
I found myself in this place today: I was drained, discouraged and down in the dumps. Who knows why!
But, I pulled on security. Quiet time with God is my security. It is likely yours too. It is what protects our mind in Christ Jesus.
As I prayer walked, God reminded me:
He can do all things. He created this world; he can create new circumstances.
In the world I might feel weak; but when I walk with him, I am strong.
Appearances mean nothing; his truth and my status as daughter means everything.
He has created me in advance for good works and these good works he will see through.
If I keep coming to God, He’ll keep showing me what to do.
We all have home security. It is called getting alone with him who assures you, you are: 1. safe 2. loved and, 3. His, forever.
Normally, I wouldn’t venture into the hidden cabinets of your life like this. Yet, today, I feel compelled to do so. Why? I learned the average person has 13 secrets*. This deeply concerns me, because what we keep inside can’t see the light of God’s healing. Instead, it grows, like mold – in guilt, shame, regret, remorse, and isolation.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know a thing or two about keeping a secret. I’ve had:
An eating disorder that I tried to (unsuccessfully) hide for a long time.
Financial turmoil in my single years that caught me in a huge struggle.
A bad habit I didn’t want anyone to know about.
But, this is the concerning thing about secrets – it makes Christians feel like:
C. Disowned by God
This is concerning when to share Christ’s love, we need to first be filled with it (1 Jo. 4:19).
Secrets are like glass windows. No one can really see them, but we know they are there. They keep a wall between us – and God. The amazing thing is – he sees right through them. He sees to our heart. But, our resurrected protective glass keeps His love away. We prevent intimacy. This is the problem with secrets.
Secrets make us hear and believe: we’re the bad child, the guilty one, the unloved one, the unforgiven one, the broken one, the burdened one.
Then, we manage our own public relations campaign. We control. We lie. We manipulate. We feel horrible about it all – and the cycle continues….
What are your secrets?
They could be:
– financial blunders hidden under the guise of “No, honey, our bank account looks great!”
– a hidden sexual past that you try to pretend never happened.
– a lie that you cannot bring yourself to confess.
– a hidden relationship or deep longing for someone of old.
– stealing, hatred or simple unhappiness at work.
– self-harm, injuring someone in the past or a traumatic event.
– too much wine, prescription drug or bad habit
– ambition or maneuvers to get yourself ahead
– family secrets, past or covering for others
– a belief you want no one to know
– theft or manipulation that is ever so subtle
– an annoyance with a spouse that has been building up for years
– internal hatred towards a child
I am not here to mark you bad and send you to bed. I don’t ask you these things to chide you in Christ Jesus. I don’t even tell you to – get it over with – and release your worst foibles on Facebook. On the contrary, I just bring these things to you from a point of invitation, not condemnation.
You’re Invited: To a Party of Great Release Where: With God, at your home, in your car, anywhere How: Through a complete unveiling of your heart, will, and intentions When: Anytime What: What is the desire beneath this secret? Ask God for that desire or for a reworking of it. Who: Your Father will heal you
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Prov. 28:13
Healer is ready to heal. Why not take down the glass wall? Let him in? There is no shame in accepting help. There is no burden to coming to God. There are new beginnings. There are new avenues that will open to you. There is forgiveness from others, and wisdom in the waiting. There is hope from God; there is always hope.
*Study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, co-authored by Michael Slepian
This past week, I sat there. There were no texts, no calls and my husband was working late. Everything was dull. Facebook, a vast echo chamber of voices sounding off with complaints, thoughts and little questions posed on colored backgrounds. Empty. TV, a wasteful pursuit of the same old stuff – guns, reality gossip and divisive politics.
I breathed in. I looked up. God, are you here in all this? Sometimes, days just seem – fruitless. Dumb. Wasteful.
And, with this, more questions started flying.
I wonder, are you in this place too, of questioning? Perhaps you are… Let me assure you, there is nothing wrong in the asking, in the pursuing. So that is what we will do here today. We will ask our hard stuff and then we will hear, what I believe is God’s heart back to us….
Where are you, God?
I love you. I’ve always had you, this, a plan. Wait on me and you’ll hear me. Listen for me and you’ll find me. I have not given you a spirit of fear and timidity but of power love and a sound mind. Great is my faithfulness and my ability to change, help and restore. I have a plan. You will find me when you seek me with all your heart. Get ready. This is only the beginning and where we are going no man, evil and the world cannot stand against. Yes, you may encounter hard times along the way, but I am in them and with you. Be not afraid. You will find my joy in unexplainable ways. You will find my peace surrounding you. I am the fullness of all you need. Rest in me. Walk with me and find me. There are days when you won’t know, that is okay. I know and that is all you need to know. Come follow me. I am the way, your way, the truth, your truth and the life, your life.
God, how to I proceed? I need direction.
Wait on me. Listen. Stop and hear. Ask and discover. Seek and I’ll open the door to you. Watch and I’ll appear. Immerse yourself in my mind and I’ll immerse myself in you. Pay attention to the little things. Open the door of you heart wider. Unfasten the fear and the shame that is keeping you from the fullness of my glory. My wanting you to let go of this is never about shaming or guilting you. Do you want to pass it over to me today? Do you want to hand over what you see as condemnation, so I can begin a grand reformation? Why not take off the burden and pass it along. I am teaching you and leading you, but you need to be able to hear me and my Word.
God, why aren’t I doing more for you?
A baby doesn’t run until the training days are done. Often, you think you are ready to sprint before you’re developed. I am growing in you the spiritual muscles to do the things I’ve prepared for you. Daughter, I AM at work. If you will just be faithful in the small things, in the meaningless days, in obedient ways, you’ll find I am taking those underdeveloped places and making them strong, so then we can go and do bigger things. Just think, if you are a baby, or a child and I allow you to pole jump too early, you’ll land on your face. I want you to fly, at my appointed time, in my appointed way. I want you to be ready in full with all my equipping. Here is what you need to know: be faithful in the little and big doors will be opened unto you.
As I asked these questions of God, his peace fell on me. Are there some questions you need to ask of God? He doesn’t hate you for asking; He delights in your pursuit of Him, of truth and of life. Press in. Seek. And, find.