My face has looked like defeat, of late. I really thought big moves of God were going to happen: breakthrough would come, my kids would act nicer to each other, I’d see God open up doors that had never been open before — yet, it’s been much of the same.
In fact, things seem to be moving — s. l. o. w.
Are you in similar shoes? Maybe you’ve prayed and prayed. . . sought God and sought God. . . asked and asked. . . .waited and waited. . .
. . . well, keep doing it and don’t give up. The Lord is not done with you yet. He’s not done with me either. And, if I’ve learned anything through scripture, it is this: He finishes what He starts. He also is no minder of our timelines.
Be it David becoming a King, Jesus getting resurrected or Lazarus getting raised, God is okay waiting days.
What do we do in the meantime?
We set our face like stone.
“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone,
determined to do his will.
And I know that I will not be put to shame.” (Is. 50:7)
Stone-faced, we set our eyes on Jesus. We determine to only look at Him. We know that we will not be disgraced. We resolve to do His will. We determine to see forth His cause.
We will not give up. We do not back down. We know that we will NOT be put to shame. We keep going.
In some translations, setting our face “like stone” is written as we set our face “like flint.” I want us to realize that our face, set on God, has the ability to start a fire. It has the ability to light things up in our lives and in the lives of others. Do not discount a face — intent on God.
Be like a warrior. Keep working, listening, loving, helping and looking to God — for your God never fails. Ever. You can trust in that.
A few days ago, I watched an athlete in a TV interview. What struck me was not his confidence, but his lack thereof. He seemed unsure, insecure and hesitant. This is not common to champions. It seemed odd. Rather than saying something like, “I’m going to go out there and give it my all,” he spoke something like, “well, I am just going out there. . . and. . . we’ll see.”
I was intrigued by his words. I wanted to know how he was going to fare at the big athletic event that was coming up. I was pretty sure, he’d already counted himself out. I kept my eyes on the event. Sure enough, not much later, he got hurt and was out of the event.
Sadly, it wasn’t his athletic power or prowess that made him lose, but his mindset.
How often are we already defeated, before we even start?
Lately, I’ve been working on a project. If I’m honest with myself, my heart hasn’t been in it. I guess, underneath it all — I don’t want to fail and have bad results. I don’t want it to appear I didn’t do a great job at my work. I don’t want people to think bad things about me. I don’t want to try hard and then lose belief in my self.
“The timing isn’t right.”
“I don’t have the resources like I did last time.”
“I don’t feel good about how it is shaping up.”
“God probably is not calling me to do this.”
What excuses are you making — to not see through something you’ve promised to do?
Often, the Lord positions us to awkwardly trust Him rather than casually continuing our own way. We may see it as a position of: lack. But, God knows, it is a position of: power.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Ps. 127:1)
We build. It’s our construct.
He builds. It’s an impenetrable, unwavering, fortress, not easily tumbled down.
Which construct has a firmer foundation?
When God constructs, feelings, end results, people’s opinions, and outcomes don’t matter. When God constructs, we always get built up. It seems he’s coming to fix a window until He says, “Oh no, it goes much deeper than this — I have to get behind your walls.”
This is why sometimes outcomes don’t turn out as we expect. Because our good Father goes behind facades to build a sturdy house, rather than a feeble one. And, it is all for our good. For your good.
What are you building — a house of sticks? Or, one of materials that will last?
As we entrust our heart, our attitude, our will, and emotions to Him, He will build a construct that will not be tossed, thrown out or torn down — and that will endure all the way to and through heaven.
“What’s wrong with you?” “Why can’t you be better?” “Why do you always?”
If you are a mom or dad, you’ve probably spoken a statement you’ve regretted. We’ve all been there.
I’m not one to critique; I’ve said some pretty horrible things to my husband, like:
“You always. . . ”
“Why don’t you ever. . . ”
Plus, some unmentionable statements spoken under my breath (which I won’t get into).
I’m not proud of this. Why? Because words reflect one’s heart.
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” (Mt. 15:18)
My words don’t only damage others, they damage me. Untimed and uncontrolled words cause arguments, frustration, anger, irritation, bitterness, strife, worry, restlessness, anxiety, divorce, job loss, court losses. . . (the list goes on).
Plus, when I go about . . . complaining, whining, insulting, attacking, gossiping or faulting someone. . . I never feel good inside. Do you?
I regret my words. But, the hard part is knowing — how to “not say” what I know I “shouldn’t say”. Sometimes my words get out of my mouth before my mind catches up with them.
What is a fast-speaker to do?
THREE VERSES THAT GIVE WISDOM:
ONE: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col. 4:6
Reflect before responding. Consider: How might Jesus respond? What might God want this person to know? How can I speak truth full of overflowing love (you have to really check your motives on this one)?
TWO: “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Prov. 15:4
Our words make or break people. They give life or steal life. Before you speak, ask yourself: Is what I am going to say life-adding or depleting? Will it produce blessing or increase fear? Not every story needs to be told. Not every detail needs to be divulged.
THREE: “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” (Prov. 21:23)
It is a matter of a wise woman to pause before she speaks. If it is not holy, righteous, of good report, worthy or true, shut-eth the trap-eth. Ask God what He wants you to say. Then, respond-eth accordingly.
Along the way, extend yourself grace. Remember, if you spew some horrible-blahness on someone and you didn’t mean to — thanks to Jesus, your mistakes become investments in learning. Be sure to learn from the lesson and develop a plan to speak more wisely next time. If you change your words, you will change other’s lives. Be an encourager, a blesser, a visionary, a hope-filled friend, a source of life and someone people can trust in. Test it out and let me know how it goes.
There’s one particular friend who can’t seem to do things exactly right. It’s as though when she buys me a gift, it’s the one color I dislike. When she says she’ll see me soon, she forgets because she “had to run more errands” and shows up 30 minutes late. When she’s trying to be thoughtful, it’s awkward.
Now, issues like this would be fine as an isolated incident, but she always and repeatedly acts this way.
I know her heart, but she lets me down – even though her intentions are good.
It is easy for me to judge her. And, I have. Her wrong timing. Her wrong words. Her wrong ways.
But, recently, I’ve been wondering if I’ve been wrong?
God says: “Bear with each other . . . ” (Col. 3:13 NIV)
Where God wants us to bear with one other, the enemy wants to tear us apart.
Recently, I started noticing my 7-year old son’s tendency for ungratefulness. I’ll buy him the world and he acts as though I owe it to him. I go out of my way to reverse my car so he can see one particular person that looks like his teacher and he gets upset I didn’t do it fast enough. I make him a special dinner and he hardly notices. He tells me he wanted something different.
I’m like my son. I get ungrateful. I don’t see the good. I want things to cater to me at times.
I repent of this. The reality is, this friend is not perfect, but she’s pursuing relationship as best she can. She has many outstanding characteristics about her. She is giving. She makes time to show up. She goes out of her way to be thoughtful.
I’ve been hard on her. I’ve made a mistake.
I am sorry God. Father, will you help me to see the good in others, before critiquing the bad? Will you help me give thanks for the beauty you’ve created in them, even when it is hard to see?
“Make allowance for each other’s faults . . . ” (Col. 3:13 NLT)
May I make allowance so I can draw closer rather than giving enemy room to drive us apart. Thank you for your help, Father God.
Forgiveness feels good when it comes my way. It scratches my itch for another chance. It lets me back in when I should be left out.
But when it’s time for me to forgive, forgiveness may feel awkward or even unfair. I know it’s the right thing to do. It’s what Jesus did for us on Calvary’s Cross. It’s what He does for me daily.
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. (Psalm 86:5 NLT)
Forgiveness moves us forward. I was reminded of its force when I saw a church sign a few years ago.
It read “If you stole our stuff, we forgive you.”
As I consider hurt feelings over a recent relationship struggle, the words on the sign inspire me to say: “Although you stole my stuff, I forgive you.”
I don’t know what items were missing from the church. But I do know the “items” missing from my heart.
Trust. Treasured memories. Future plans.
Are stolen items missing from your heart too? Are chunks of dignity or pieces of a dream absent? Forgiveness doesn’t change what happened, but it changes what could happen if we don’t forgive. We may become bound to the thing we disdain instead of becoming free to walk in God’s purpose.
And yet, I’m still learning.
Forgiveness is how we grow in front of people. Bitterness is how we grow weary by what happened.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31 and 32 NLT)
Letting go of an offense is a strenuous “growth opportunity.” Our pain matters. But what Christ did for us matters too. We must decide if what He did matters most.
I can be tempted to fix things myself with a sharp-tongue or misguided perspective until I realize…
Forgiveness acknowledges what went wrong while trusting God to make it right.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5 and 6 NLT)
It’s not always easy, but He can always be trusted.
I hope the person who stole the church’s items stepped up, made amends and met the Savior. I see Christ working in my struggling relationship in both tough and tender moments.
I want Him to take over my perspective when forgiveness is required.
I praise Him for taking what was meant for evil and turning it into something good.
If your “stuff is stolen,” God knows all about your pain. Whether you need to meet the Savior or need to grow in front of people, may you be restored by His grace and move forward.
About Joy A. Williams
Joy A. Williams is an author, blogger, and speaker. She has served as a small-group Bible study leader, Women’s Conference and Retreat speaker for over twenty years. Her years of experience of encouraging others with God’s grace has deepened her enjoyment of sharing His life-changing truth in Christ.
She is the author of Friendship MAPS: A Journey through Maturity, Aspirations, Perspectives, and Struggles. Joy shares “hope for the heart and joy to the soul” on her weekly blog (at https://joyAwilliams.com) and she loves living life in North Carolina with her husband Brady and their son.
In addition to subscribing to her weekly blog, you can also connect with Joy on Twitter or Facebook @joytothesoul and on Pinterest @joy2thesoul.
I feel convicted. It is easy to read God’s word and to say, “Yep, that thing right there is what I need to do…”. Yet it is quite another thing to do it. It is easy to develop a three-step plan for improvement, but it is hard to see it through. It is easy to remind yourself of all the ways you really need to change. And then to never find change.
At home, as a mom, I’ve recognized 3 things that need to change:
1. I give in to my children when they ask repeatedly for something.
2. I desperately avoid paths of resistance to keep everyone happy.
3. I have a hard time setting boundaries because I feel guilty.
Friends, I guess I feel a little angry at myself that I haven’t changed these things already. That I haven’t recognized them and reworked them. That I still struggle. That I cause issues at home sometimes. That I can’t stand it when people feel unhappy or angry at me.
I know I am wrong; I am a pushover. I am disappointed in myself.
Maybe you feel like me; disappointed in how you are, what you are doing or where you are today. Maybe you’ve told yourself you’re going to stop cussing, start praying or you’re 100% going to speak nicely now. Or that you’re going to get yourself to where you want to go.
Are we justified to feel this way? To “get our self where we want to go”? To “work up” some sort of inner-heart conversion?
Only God can change a heart.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36: 26-27)
– God gives us a new heart.
– By his work, he removes the stone.
– The Spirit, in us, moves us to follow God’s decrees and laws.
Only by a work of God can we work-out any real and lasting life change.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Ps. 127:1
So where does this leave us? In prayer and with faith.
God will complete the good work He has begun in us. (Phil. 1:6) We no longer need to be angry at ourselves but 100% trustworthy in the Saviors saving work, that is at work within us.
It’s an easy thing to forget, I know. We forget things that we are inside of often. For instance, how often do we think, “I am in the system,” or “I am inside the state of ___.”
We rarely consider where we are – although we should. Because when you realize positionally where you are, it situationally reframes the world around you.
What needs reframing in your life? Are you aggravated at a boss? Discouraged at your lack of initiative? So busy you can’t even consider God? Demoralized by the words of people around you? Unsure about the direction you should head? Feeling depressed or powerless to change your circumstances.
Remember where you are. Realize positionally that you are in God’s love to change situationally – everything.
When you are inside God’s love, you realize you are: H.I.S. You dwell on the fact you are H.I.S.
1. Hidden in Christ.
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3)
If you accepted Christ, in Him (inside all His glory, power, honor, might, strength, wisdom) your life is now hidden. You don’t have to fear the future, because you can trust in His providence to change everything.
2. Invincible in Battle.
“Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty; the LORD, invincible in battle.” (Ps. 24:8 NLT)
If you are in Christ, hidden in Him, then – because of Him – you actually become invincible in battle. This is powerful. The King of Glory can go where He wants, in a way that is invincible to the enemy of your life. Take a moment to receive this truth in your mind. Don’t gloss over this point.
3. Secured as you trust.
“Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you.” (Phil. 2:1 GNT)
In Christ, you are strong. In Christ, love comforts you. In Christ, you get everything you need to face whatever mountain stands against you.
You will not be wavered, but full of Christ. You will not be taken down, but covered in his love. You will not give up, but stand firm.
Friends, you are H.I.S. Put your trust in Him. Dwell on these three points. Situationally, you’ll find things radically change. Keep hope and find yourself, in Him.
Feelings can be frightening, overwhelming a heart to the point of desperation and misery. Or prisons, entrapping one to past experiences, traumas or memories. Often they become future proclamations, declaring over us, “What was, always will be. You’ll never escape this emotion.” Feelings, on the other hand, can be amazing, liberating and soul-rejuvenating. Just think of the best day of your life!
What do we do with them?
Up, down and all around – they move like the wind. Like a hurricane or an underground rocking that shakes the foundation of who you are. I get all this. I know how anger has made me act, in days of old. I remember getting all up into my sisters face. And the feelings of self-annoyance I perpetually lived with. The depression that made me feel like there was no good way out of life.
Feelings can be fun, or no fun. They can be old and then haunt us again.
Yet, just because they show up on our doorstep doesn’t mean we have to answer the door so they stay forever. We are not obligated to say, “Come on in and make yourself at home.”
I fear some of you have done this. Sadly, now old feelings are cramping your good style. They’ve spread out all over the space of your soul, heart and mind, stealing your attention on God, negating God’s good plan for your life and telling you that there’s no way you can be enough.
People ask me what to do with “feelings”?
Well, I think when we see them at our doorstep, we peep out the side window and first acknowledge them. We allow them and we even bring them to God. There he is again, “Mr. Disappointment” I see him there, trying to get in. God, what do you think about this? What does your word say about hanging out with this emotion for too long?
Then, with wisdom, we decide whether or not they can sit in our house for long periods of time.
We can do this by asking ourselves a few questions:
1. Are these feelings going to cause me to dwell on what is “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy” or lesser things? (Phil. 4:8) Are they leading me to life or death?
2. Are they reinforcing God’s truth or are they backed by lies?
Example: If God says he is “for us”, we would not be wise to dwell in hopelessness that believes, “God is not for me.”
3. Are they helping me to love God (and others) with all my heart or do they cause me to pull away from this?
If we’re called to do all things in love, anything contending against it should be heart-checked.
Friends, we don’t have to declare our initial feelings as “bad”, ignore them or hate ourselves for them. However, we do need to see them for what they are, quickly, and make moves to let Godly-facts take precedence over wavering-feelings.
Why? Because sadness soon turns into isolation. Rejection soon turns into depression. Anger soon turns into a division. Loneliness soon turns a bottle. You get the picture.
Don’t make a long-term resident of a feeling that should only be seen as a passing-by door-to-door salesman. Yep, Kelly sees you there wanting to sell a whole bunch of stuff, but God’s got a better word than you. She’s listening to truth, over feelings. And letting that be her guide…
So much has hit me in just a few years. Leaks, a flooded house, relational problems, health issues, a hurricane… It all keeps on coming. It seems like just as one friend overcomes something, another gets cancer. Just as someone needs prayer, I get hit by a huge personal life-problem. Grr… a rain cloud has set in over my house. And an enemy is on the loose. #It’sABattle
The enemy comes to steal God’s truth, kill good intentions and destroy what God loves, without apology. He’s relentless. He stops at no one, and nothing. He salivates at the thought of biting. He doesn’t care if we’re on our last leg. #IamTired
With all this darkness, I keep focusing on the darkness. Does the same ever happen to you? #Battle
Do you keep re-hashing problem situations?
Do you agonize over what could have been?
Do you fret because you wish there was another way?
Do you play out all the different options in your head?
Darkness breeds darkness. Attention given to darkness steals our attention from the light.
God says we’ve been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. (Col. 1:13)
There is wisdom in asking ourself, “Are we dwelling on light or on the dark?”.
Battle Ready Tactic #103 (aka. light versus darkness):
Darkness never brings light. To reach the light, you have to venture past darkness.
The How-Tos of this Tactic- Get out of the dark: Think of God. Think of His attributes. Think of His Word. Think of His ways. Give thanks. This moves us from dungeon-dwelling to light-bright living. It illuminates the desires, will and ways of God. It moves us out of the place of stuck-ness, to God’s better thing.
You can start to put this into action by dwelling on these six verses:
“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (John 4:4)
Translation: Christ in you trumps the enemy warfare around you.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
Translation: The devil runs from those submitted to godliness.
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” (Luke 10:19)
Translation: Tread on the enemy, because God has given us power to do so. Nothing will injure you. Actively tread, so you don’t feel tread.
“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” (1 John 5:18)
Translation: As you shed your sinning, God effectively keeps the enemy from doing the harming.
“The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life.” (Ps. 121:7)
Translation: The God who sees you, keeps you.
“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thess. 3:3)
Translation: Part of God’s faithfulness is his protection from the evil one’s attacks in your life.
Do you feel a shift?
Friend, no matter how it looks, you are not in the dark. The enemy hasn’t snuffed out your light. Your situation is not too much of a fright for God. Your days aren’t numbered and doomed. Nope. God has a purpose and plan for your life. He has wisdom and unsearchable things to teach you. He has light He wants to shed on some of your most difficult situations.
About Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt & Live Victoriously
“The best time to be strengthened against the Enemy’s tactics of doubt, disappointment, and devastation is before he makes his first move toward us. We all desperately need the biblical guidance and preparation found in Battle Ready!”
Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries
Battle Readyis a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelve easy-to-implement, confidence-building mind-sets designed to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life. You’ll gain practical wisdom, like how to
· make new habits stick in just five steps
· disarm the seven most common attacks that plague women
· exchange self-limiting thoughts for purpose-driven, love-releasing thoughts
· implement thirty-second mind-lifters that deliver peace
· create boundaries so you live life full of what matters
Unfortunately, I usually default to the bad outlook. Somehow I figure if I focus on what is wrong, I can fix it. Or, if I see what is not right, I’ll have a better handle on it. Or, if I know every detail of the problem, I can lay out a plan. I also like sympathy from people. Emotionally, when I feel hurt, I want someone to make it better. Or, I want someone to really grasp my pain.
After a bit these actions cause issues. On-loading problems onto people almost always off-puts them. There’s a threshold people allow. They may walk away, roll their eyes, tell you to get over it or not call you back. You really have to be careful about going “too far”, I’ve found. But more important than this is – we don’t need sympathy from man, what we really need is empathy and love from God. He is the only thing who will ever fill us up.
So, how do we find this?
Psalm 57 has some interesting answers.
David complains, “I’m surrounded by fierce lions…” (Ps. 57:4)
Shortly thereafter he says, “Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.” (Ps. 57:5)
David whines, “My enemies have set a trap for me…” (Ps. 57:6)
Shortly thereafter he says, “My heart is confident in you, O God.” (Ps. 58:7)
In the place of “not so good at all” thoughts, David gets back to “good”, quickly. His mouth runs ahead of his mind for a second. Then, he catches up to “good” with God’s truth.
We can do the same. Even if we think “not so good” thoughts, we can catch right back up to goodness, by immediately changing course, just like David. We can dwell on thoughts of:
“I will waken the dawn with my song.” (Ps. 57:8)
“I will look to you (God) for protection.” (Ps. 57:1)
“…God who will fulfill His purposes for me.” (Ps. 57:2)
“He (God) will send help from heaven to save me.” (Ps. 57:3)
5. Passion for God
“My heart is confident in you, O God.” (Ps. 57:7)
David didn’t always think perfectly, but he returned to the Perfect One, quickly and readily. We can do the same. We won’t ever be perfect, but above us, around us and for us – is the Perfect One who has all our answers. He answers when we call. Not only this, He sympathizes with our pains, holding our every tear in a bottle (Ps. 56:8).