Faith

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter Ten: Spirit of Power, Love and a Sound Mind

The King James Version of II Timothy 1 uses the words “sound mind” (which I prefer believing it makes the message clearer) instead of “discipline”. That being said, a sound mind produces self-discipline so I believe the words to be interchangeable here. There are scads of texts referencing the mind so, we can logically deduce the mind is of great importance. When we are weak in body and heart, if we keep our minds sharp as to the person, promises and love of God, we won’t so readily lose our minds, as is so commonly stated as a natural reaction to weakness in times of trouble.

We must keep our minds clear because the world and all its woes will readily overtake us if we allow. We must be vigilant, watchful and sober-minded lest we fall prey to the one who despises us without measure. God has, with great liberty, given us a spirit of power and love and discipline. We are created in His image; thusly, we have His nature. We generally, unfortunately, choose the nature of the flesh over the nature of God. When we allow Holy Spirit to overwhelm us, we will have no room in us to be overwhelmed by the flesh.

To say, “I love the Lord” and think yourself close to God just because you prayed an unbiblical “sinner’s prayer”, you’re faithful to church, and do good deeds, is insufficient so as to sustain you in this world of muck and mire. We must know the Lord on the most intimate level if we can expect to be sustained through life’s trials and tribulations.

We are instructed in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” In other words, dwell on God, His Kingdom, His righteousness, His love, His power, His authority, His comfort, His promises, and whatever is of the Kingdom of God. There is no way, in the midst of chaos and confusion, any of us can set our minds on these things if we are not locked in to God 24/7/365. It’s difficult enough when you are, so you can understand the difficulty of being able to reroute your mind when you’re only a Sunday church-goer or Christian by title and not in daily action.

Life can be grueling, no doubt. I know, for me, even though I know God and His Word intimately, how challenging it can be to “speak that which is not as though it already was” as did God Himself in Romans 4:17. We are to speak God’s promises, not the circumstances. Inevitably, when I get worn down, sometimes the circumstances come right through my lips without even thinking. That’s the nature of the flesh at hand. I have to immediately pull down the words (remove them) and replace them by speaking God’s promises. As with Sophia, though it appears she’ll never be better (circumstance), I speak, “I thank God she’s already healed, in Jesus’ name. We will soon witness the physical manifestation of God’s promise of her healing.” If I didn’t walk and talk with God every moment of every day, I would not have His strength to overpower my fleshly weaknesses.

Throughout the challenges with having had toxic black mold in our home causing the auto-immune issues of which Sophia and I have had to contend, God has been faithful so as to speak directly to my spirit reassuring me we are both healed. Believe me, there were times all I could see was the pain and suffering but, regardless, because I hold fast to His promise, I can see the end from the beginning. No one can survive (much less thrive) in this wicked world with merely some theology and a lot of church activities. Survival and thriving through this rough terrain requires knowing God in such a way that no one and nothing can steal your faith. Having a mind set on the heavenly (whatsoever is good, pure, etc.) instead of that of the earthly (whatsoever is horrible, bleak, tainted, etc.) is a matter of life and death.

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God (II Timothy 1:6-8, NAS).”

 

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter 9: Why Worry, part II

Circumstances are Irrelevant

“He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is upheld, he will not fear, until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries (Psalm 112:7-8, NAS).”

Your circumstances will no longer have effect on your walk with Christ. Your circumstances will no longer make you or break you. Your circumstances will no longer dictate how you conduct yourself. Once you realize in your heart and mind that,

  • His love is unfailing and His eye is on you always;
  • He has defeated the enemy;
  • everything the evil one does against you for evil, God has already turned around for your good;
  • the world is condemned and has no power over you;
  • the evil one has been overthrown and is acting on borrowed time;
  • you are more than a conqueror
  • Yahweh is a friend that sticks closer than a brother

 – you will begin your life of victory, strength, power, and love in Jesus!

Once I identified with Christ and related to Him on a personal level, I was able to come to a place that, when adversity comes, I literally laugh. As in Psalm 112 verses 7-8, I have no fear of bad news and neither should you. I know immediately that Satan cannot succeed against me or my family. I laugh even through tears knowing that whatever the situation, it has already worked in my favor. I could write a book merely on the blessings of God turning things around for my favor! Let’s stop giving Satan a foothold by worrying about everything that appears bad. Begin to praise His holy name that it, whatever “it” is, has already become a benefit to you and not a liability. Deny that old Adamic fleshly nature that Christ overcame on the cross.

 You are your own worst enemy when you do not fully know or understand who God has made you through the blood and the water. Peter refers to those in Christ as “aliens and strangers” because your origin has changed from the earthly to heavenly. Christ was a stranger on Earth, and, since He is your life, you too are a stranger. Do not act like the earthy man as through you are of this world.

Prayer: My Father, Husband and faithful Friend, I want to identify with You. I want to relate to You as You identify and relate to me, a mere human. As You chose to live as a man on Earth just to be able to identify with my plight and then die for me that I may live with You, I give my life to You. I hide myself in Thee, O Lord, so that all I know of my identity is that of Jesus Himself. Selah.

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter 9: Why Worry, part I

Worry is the polar opposite of faith. I am always baffled at the ongoing worry, stress and fretting among the so-called seasoned men and women of God. They read, and read, and read the Word yet they walk away every time with just as much fear as when they sat to read. Worry weakens faith; or rather, worry is the evidence faith is not present.

How might one accurately say, “I trust the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength” or better yet, “I believe the whole Word of God” but can’t have enough faith for Him to provide their needs. Worry makes the one who claims to be a follower of Christ look hypocritical to the spectators of the world around them. What hypocrites we are when we proclaim faith that Christ is real yet don’t believe Him for any sort of miracle. In my estimation, there are very few among the multitudes who call themselves “Christians” who actually believe in the God they proclaim.

It’s incredibly easy to praise God and give Him all the glory when things are going really well, but throw in a little wind that lasts longer than 30 minutes and panic ensues. Jesus said to His closest comrades, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Is He saying the same to you? If He is, it isn’t to condemn or guilt you, but to bring you to reconciliation that He is who He says He is and has given His church power over the enemy. He allows the struggles of life to first reveal how little faith we possess and, secondly, to produce much needed faith. Thirdly, in the trials and strengthening of our faith, He is able to glorify Himself when He presents Himself sovereign when all else fails.

Worry is the catalyst for Satan to run rampant in your life. Worry is the adversary to faith. Anxieties, fears, and distresses reveal where we are not with God. They are the factual expression of how we really feel about God. They are of the flesh, not the Spirit. Instead of condemning yourself when this happens, encourage yourself in the Lord so as to usher in much needed faith. Beating yourself up only further exacerbates your dilemma. Learn to discipline yourself so as to refresh your memory of how God has moved on your behalf in the past. Your situation is temporal but God is forever and ever. E.g. when you’re in fear, remind yourself, “Christ is my strength and my salvation. There is none I shall fear. He is my rock and my stronghold.”

It is never God’s desire or mission to shame you but to encourage and persuade you to trust Him. Nothing is for nothing and everything is for something. Find out God’s “something” in your trials. If you ask with a genuine heart so as to discover, He will reveal Himself to you in the most personal way. Take the time to seek that you may find your way through the wilderness. God is sovereign and “shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).”

The “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” is revealing. Again, the “shall supply” is not that He must suddenly create something for you, but that, because of what is already created in the riches of Christ, He will get it to you in perfect timing. What you need, He’s already produced in the heavenly realm; Heaven is the storeroom for what you need ushered down to Earth. Walk according to faith and you’ll see things work for good for those who love Him. It may not manifest physically the way you would choose, but His ways are infinitely supreme to that which we can think or imagine.

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Revelation 2:10, NAS).”

 

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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In my 50 years of life, jealousy has never been something to which I have commonly subscribed. I’m always elated to witness success and assist others so as to catapult them into greatness. That being said, having a chronically ill child has, on more than one occasion, provoked a spirit of jealousy within me. I deal with it in the throne room of grace, to be sure, as soon as I feel it. Nevertheless, the pangs of such a vile emotion rear their ugly head when I least expect it. When I see all around me the kids of friends, family, acquaintances and even strangers who are perfectly healthy and thriving, as awful to admit as it is, I feel the sensation of jealousy. It is not for money or possessions, but for good health for my daughter. I weep for my sweet Sophia as I know others weep for their suffering children.

From family to family, it’s a sliding scale of illnesses and severity but, I assure you, pain is pain. I don’t have less sorrow for my child than a parent of a child with cancer or more sorrow than a parent with a kid with an infection which is taking longer to subside than average. Hands down, it is all horrible watching your child suffer while other children run, play, go to school and do the things healthy kids do. Sophia has begun a two month regimen of medication specifically for her issues. It’s been two weeks and we’ve seen some improvement. She’s been getting caught up in some school work and able to spend time with friends here and there. It has been encouraging to watch as slow progress is still progress.

Yesterday, just as Michael and I had embarked on a much needed date night, we had just sat down at the restaurant to order and the phone rings. Sophia called bawling her eyes out because, while at her friend’s house, she threw up repeatedly and was in a lot of stomach pain. What’s more, she was/is very frustrated she can’t seem to kick this and the correlating problems. This morning at church, a friend was excited to revel in our mutual friend’s daughter’s achievements where she had deservedly, once again, taken 1st place. Of course, I am thrilled for my friend’s daughter; in fact, she’s my best friend. Our daughters are only a year apart and we are each other’s daughter’s god-mothers.

I thought to myself how astonishingly disgusting it was that I would feel such pain and jealousy for one I love so dearly; its a bit of a paradox. Even as I type, I weep at the unbearable thought that I would have such emotions. It was all I could do not to cry the entire service knowing my baby was hurting and feeling the way I did. Notwithstanding, the fact remains, people in my shoes do feel surges of jealousy with the desire for our kids to be able to enjoy childhood/teenhood just like everyone else’s kids.

Just the other day, a friend wrote asking me to pray for peace for her because she was feeling jealousy for reasons I just described. She is a follower of Christ and knows God has a perfect plan for her child, yet struggles with such feelings. She mentioned that watching photo after photo of other kids doing so well and having such joy brought her more pain.

I responded like this (roughly): “My personal peace comes from reminding myself that, at the conclusion of this part of Sophia’s life, it will catapult her right into the perfect will of God. If I may be frank, you do not need prayer for peace, you need to believe God has a plan and that it is good; belief is where the peace lies. I don’t know what God has designed for your daughter’s life, but a part of that is not you feeling devastated as if there’s no hope. I say this to you as I must daily remind myself.” Knowing, believing, trusting and accepting God does have a plan is the key. This knowledge is how I am able to:  

  1. Call myself to accountability in my incorrect emotions
  2. Pull down (away from) my mind all thoughts not of God
  3. Pull those thoughts into the obedience of Christ until my obedience is made complete
  4. Refuse to allow my mind to continue a process of comparing Sophia’s life to anyone else’s
  5. Remind myself God is faithful, He has a plan, He is in love with her and He purposes the best for her
  6. Believe all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who walk according to the Spirit
  7. Trust God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength – regardless of what my eyes see or emotions feel
  8. Reestablish peace that passes all understanding

If I may help you in any way, please reach out to me on Facebook, email or in the comments section. If there’s help for me and my child, there’s equal hope, help and peace for you. Jealousy of others will only lead to further destruction, chaos and confusion, it is a murdering spirit. Just because we feel something in a moment of weakness does not mean we have to allow it to overtake us. Focusing on the love of God chases out feelings which are not of God. Blessings!

Proverbs 14:30: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

 

When All My Strength Has Failed

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The Real Fight, part II                                      

Pulling Down Imaginations and Strongholds:

According to II Corinthians 10:3-4, we have authority through the blood to pull down imaginations and strongholds that arise within you. This means to “take hold” of them and forcibly remove them before they cause irreparable damage. Everything begins in the mind and, if the mind is spiritually weak and contaminated, your actions will follow suit. Before you go into any battle for someone or something, you must first have yourself clean. Here’s the breakdown of the instruction of II Corinthians 10:3-4:

Imaginations: have you ever let your mind wander into some out of whack place? It could be imagining having an affair, stealing from your company, lying to get out of something, and so on. Imaginations that are not led by Christ lead people away from God, not toward God. You are not to allow your mind to wander. Take control over it. You are to operate with the sound mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). In purity, imaginations are what allow you to have visions from God and see them through to fruition. Those visions bring hope to the believer and salvation to the unbeliever.

Strongholds: anything that has a grip on you that would hinder you from being all God created you to be. A stronghold can be holding on to the past, bitterness, anger, greed, jealousy, addictions, or countless other things that seem stronger than Christ in you. When you are led by the Spirit, you will want to pull them down to keep them from oppressing you.

Pulling Down: it is not as much praying as it is commanding those things that hinder you to leave. Commanding things to leave is part of the authority God gave you over your own person. When things try to get in my head, I speak out loud so that demonic forces coming against me can hear, “I command you, in the name of Jesus, to be loosed from your assignment over me (name what it is).” Then I begin to replace them with whatever of God is the opposite. If impatience, replace it with the patience of Christ; if anger, peace; if hatred, love; if sorrow and depression, joy; anxiety, calm; if impurity, purity.

The mind is the home front of all battles; the real battle begins there. Keeping your person clean is imperative. “Pulling down” thoughts, ideas and images of the world that keep us bound in heaviness is our responsibility to keeping an easy yoke and light burden.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying imaginations and every high thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame (II Corinthians 10:3-4, NAS).”

No Conformity:

This has everything to do with pulling down imaginations, strongholds, and every high thing that exalts itself above the name of Christ. Your mind needs to be transformed because the thoughts of the flesh are corrupt and full of perversion. Your mind, in its natural state, is a cesspool of garbage keeping you weak and unable to tap into the fullness of God’s might and power. He would not instruct you to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” if the mind wasn’t a snare and easy prey for the evil one.

When you realize you are seated in heavenly places with Christ, in Christ, you will think His thoughts. You will begin to see clearly as He sees. You will comprehend God vindicates those who are His own and extends rest for the weary. God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and sound mind.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:2-3, 14, NAS).”


 

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter 8, The Real Fight, part I

One of the greatest lessons I learned upon my return to Christ February 2000 was that my fight is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities and the evil in heavenly places. Wow, what a revelation for me! I no longer had to fight for what’s mine, no longer did I need to justify myself (past, present or future); no longer did I need to beg people to realize the life-altering transformation that was happening to me. There was no longer a need to defend my honor because the only honor worth defending was that of Jesus, the Christ. The only way to defend His name was to live righteously, holy, humbly, and with utter denial of self.

I now know that, if I have an enemy, it is not the person but the evil behind their actions. Knowing this basic truth of where my enemy actually lies (in the spirit-realm), I can rest knowing Christ is the only proper weapon of mass destruction. No more do I need to hate anyone, be bitter against an oppressor, be angry and vindictive against someone who has broken my heart, and so on. In fact, by identifying the real enemy, I have the utmost mercy for the offender. I can easily pray for those who curse me, bless those who hate me, and give to those who steal from me. No more do I weary myself over those whom I love that are walking in bondage in some form or fashion.

Once it really hit me and buried itself in my spirit that it is absolutely no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, it changed the entire paradigm of my existence and how I view everything, good and bad. All too often God’s people battle fellow man, for whatever myriad of reasons, and in the process they weaken themselves in all the wrong ways. They stress and strive in their natural man to convince people they need to repent when, unknowingly, they turn people away from that very Christ because of their level of stress, anxiety, nagging, control and manipulation. Love changes people. Rest and peace in the midst of any chaos is proof positive of Christ’s reality.

Fighting one another, constantly in battle with friends, family, co-workers, enemies, or whomever, is not the path to freedom – for you or for them. As we will discuss later, the work of God is complete through Jesus. Since Jesus’ completion of defeating Satan and death, we have no fight, only to surrender to the One who is already victorious. At the risk of oversimplifying, this is the honest truth. I’ve learned (and continue to learn) how to daily surrender people and situations. In so doing, I have rest even when I don’t like what I see or feel. I battle, but only through releasing the blood of Jesus in each and every climate I encounter.

For example, if I’m praying for an addict, I pray this way: “Father, in the name of Jesus, I stand in the gap for __________. I pray for Your blood to cover __________ from the top of his or her head to the soles of his or her feet. By Your power, I thank You that they are delivered from the hand of the enemy. Allow Your righteous right hand to cover them in their weakness. I thank You that Your hand is not so short it can’t reach where they are. By Jesus’ blood, I command the demonic spirits and the generational curse of addiction to be loosed from their assignment over __________.” This is releasing the blood of Jesus and casting your cares upon His shoulders. You cannot carry it.

In fact, because I have weakened myself unto death, I recognize a dead man cannot battle – he’s dead. If I’m dead (metaphorically speaking), Christ, who is my new life, causes me to be victorious even when I cannot see, taste, hear or feel it. It’s done. My warring is through the blood of Jesus, not the flesh; it is not of self-power but of Christ’s. My battling comes with ease in spirit, even when it isn’t necessarily easy for the outward man.

Learning how to battle the enemy through spiritual warfare versus fleshly warfare is a phenomenal element I was missing all my years growing up in a standard denominational church. First, one must begin with taking control of self and all the worldly thoughts that flood our minds day in and day out.

***

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 (Ephesians 6:12, NAS).”

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20, NAS).”

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him (James 1:12, NAS).”

 

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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It’s been 7 ½ weeks since I last wrote because Sophia has been very ill. Shortly after the April 4th blog, she was admitted into the hospital 6 days; it is 2 hours away making the struggle a bit more intense. Test after test, lots of pain for Sophia and many trips back and forth to her specialists (also 2 hours away), they ruled out leukemia and Crohn’s disease, to which I am eternally grateful. Notwithstanding, we’re awaiting other tests to figure out, not only what it isn’t, but what it is. We go to her endocrinologist next week to explore other issues.

In the midst of it all, I must admit, I became wearier than ever before, spirit, mind and body. So much so that, on one occasion when my dad called and said “There are a lot of people praying for her”, the thought crossed through my mind, “for whatever good that’ll do”. I was shocked that even entered my mind, truly. I am a person of faith, nay, great faith. Christ is my life through and through and I make no bones about it. Regardless, that vile thought of faithlessness flitted right in and right back out. At that moment, I realized just how out of spiritual sync I had become. There are times in this life which, left unattended, have the power to utterly crush us. Watching your child in pain 24/7 years on end is one of those times. However, when I heard those words in my own mind, it called me to take notice of my spiritual condition.

Upon further investigation, I found I had been excessively agitated, frustrated and altogether ill at ease all the while begging God, pleading to Him to heal my child. At that moment, I became aware of the ponderance of the situation. I am well aware that, when someone is begging God for anything, they have either lost sight of the nature of God or they never grasped it at all. I was the former. It was then I positioned myself to repent, recalibrate my relationship with Christ and move forward in power and confidence in His purpose.

Our God, the Great I AM, is loving, kind, longsuffering, forgiving and merciful, among many other astounding characteristics. As His child, His bride, His ambassador, I know without question I never have to beg. I am to function in obedience which lends itself to His authority so as to utilize His power in any situation. If when I am not seeing things alter immediately while spiritually sound, I can rest in His ultimate plan. Before the foundation of the Earth, God devised a perfect plan for my life, Sophia’s life, and the life of every human ever to enter the Earth. I trust that plan. I believe in the greater heavenly good no matter how things feel or appear in the moment.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

II Corinthians 5:7: We walk by faith, not by sight…

Romans 5:3-5: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.