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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).”

 

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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Content in Weakness, part III

On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:5-10, NAS)

 

I hear constantly, “I will bend but I won’t break” and that has nothing to do with God’s instruction. God, as I’ve written previously, most assuredly wants us to break because, in our brokenness (utter weakness) He is able to restore, renew, refresh and altogether transform us. We’re so busy trying to be strong enough so as not to break, we miss the God to whom we cry and plead.

After my first husband abused and abandoned me, I can recall emphatically stating, “I will not be like those other poor divorcees, I will not be a blubbering, sad woman broken by a man!” Because of my frail attempt to be stronger than my predecessors who have already experienced such anguish, I became the thing I vowed I would not be and worse. Bottling all that pain and sorrow, pushing it unresolved to the bottom of my spirit only made me more crushed than at the onset. God never wants to crush you as that is the tactic of the enemy. Satan desires to sift you like wheat. God wants you broken, weakened unto death (internally), so He can produce His supernatural life through your circumstances.

If you don’t believe me and cannot find a specific Scripture stating, “God will break you to remake you”, allow me to point you to every person of God who ever accomplished anything for God’s glory and the benefit of the person and multitudes of people. Struggles come to all who have a huge assignment. Some examples are: Jesus, Joseph, David, Mary (mother of Jesus), Mary Magdalene, Ruth, Daniel, Jacob, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Apostle Paul, Job, Esther, Jochebed, Pharaoh’s daughter (Moses’ adoptive mom), Samson, Peter, Joseph (Jesus’ adoptive dad), and Nehemiah.

Certainly the list goes on and on. Read Hebrews 11. There’s literally a list of men and women who were slain literally to physical death so as to withstand the mocking of the anti-Christ spirit facing them. God’s ambassadors must be able to withstand the wiles of the anti-Christ and the only way to accomplish this is to first take us to a breaking point. God was their Portion no matter what earthly portions they were looking to lose. The breaking brings a person of God to the brink of total loss so that their gain is in Jesus alone.

For me, I can lose my husband, my children, my loved ones, my home, my car, money and worldly possessions and survive, but do not remove Holy Spirit because I would not survive. He is my solace, my comfort, my strength, my faith, my life. Without Him, I have nothing, I am nothing, and there is nothing of value. Breaking is a blessing; it is one of our greatest benefits.

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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I’m baffled it’s already been three weeks since last I blogged, but that’s how it goes when you have a child who is perpetually dealing with various illnesses. I’m writing today just to share my heart. I think, no, I know there is a misconception floating around that those who are followers of Christ are never down, never upset, bothered, or affected by their surroundings. As a Christian author and minister, I teach with voracity how to overcome the obstacles of life and I purpose to live that which I preach to others.

Notwithstanding, people of the deepest levels of faith have bad days. Just because we function in absolute trust in the Lord does not mean we’re bubbly and overflowing with positivity like we live in a bubble. The bottom line is, there are days I cry or rather, days I want to cry but literally have no opportunity to do so. There are days when I am just shy of being overwhelmed by the situation. Case in point, Sophia has been throwing up 11 or 12 weeks to date. In that time, I’ve attended multiple meetings with the school, an attorney, doctors, and the superintendent in the attempt to fight the school system so as to keep them from calling truancy (which was successful), dealing with losing our insurance due to Michael having lost his job of 20 years the end of December, attempt to pay bills with money we do not possess because his new job won’t render any real money until May, run back and forth to MUSC (2 hours away) for multiple doc appointments, run a household as well as minister to others.

With all that, I have zero time with my husband – ZERO. Frankly, I miss him. He’s working long hours so as to build a sales clientele and, by the time he comes home, we try to spend time together as a family and then everyone passes out. We have lost all our saving paying for doctors and medication along with the loss of his job. In our nearly 16 years of marriage, we have had 1 vacation and that was a trip to the beach with two two-year-olds…not what I would call a vacation as that is a lot of work! Life is hard enough with a normal setting with healthy kids, but life with a chronically ill child – I have no words. I cannot properly express the exhaustion, sorrow, and altogether madness of dealing with the day to day. No one could possibly understand other than someone in these shoes.

Here is the “so what?” No, we are not to remain in a funk or depression as that is not of God. We are not to spread our sorrows to any listening ear. Yes, we are allowed days where we can admit to the difficulties. Confess there is a present struggle to someone you can trust who won’t be judgmental and will lend godly counsel as needed. Sometimes we simply need a friendly ear and prayer.

God is faithful. God is good and great and kind and merciful. Above all, God is loving. Knowing this, I am sustained. Knowing this, I am at peace. Knowing this, I can push through the worst of days. Knowing this, I maintain the Living Hope, which is Jesus Christ. Knowing this, I can allow myself a moment to cry or even a moment to be frustrated without beating myself with guilt for having a bad moment. The best of people can have the worst of days. Cut yourself some slack and then allow the hand of God to raise you in spirit, soul, body and mind. He is faithful.

I Peter 1:3-4: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.

When All My Strength has Failed

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Chapter 7: Content in Weakness, part I

No Shame in Weakness:

“So the last shall be first, and the first last (Matthew 20:16, NAS).”

“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 1:8, NAS).”

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13, NAS).”

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God (I John 3:21, NAS).”

***

There have been times in the last many years with all the suffering we’ve endured with mine and Sophia’s health that the “righteous” have shunned me. At my weakest, they accused me of hidden sin, unrepented sin, demonic oppression, and more. I knew I had “done all” as directed in Ephesians 6:13 so I didn’t allow myself to buckle in shame at their negative words.

Spiritually, we prayed, declared healing, repented of everything we knew, bound away spirits, released Holy Spirit, pleaded the blood of Jesus, broke generational curses, anointed with oil, and had elders lay hands in prayer. Physically, we took the proper meds and saw the appropriate doctors. I literally knew of nothing more to do spiritually or physically. When the accusations came and “friends” departed, I stood unashamed before God, man and demons. God had previously spoken to me of the forthcoming period of trials and false accusations so I was as prepared as one could be. All I could do was stand unashamed expecting great and mighty things on the other side of the suffering.

I also knew God was not allowing this to be quickly removed so as to temper, humble, and refine me and my household. I refused to be ashamed though there were weak moments when I questioned, “Am I doing all I am called to do in order to expedite healing?” Though I have never been prone to guilt and shame, believe me, there were moments when false accusations would bear down on me trying to make me go into hiding from embarrassment.

The Father always kindly reminded me this life offers plenty of trials and tribulations, but they are God’s tools to refine, perfect, and grow us in love, faith, perseverance and hope. As I mentioned in chapter three, perception is reality. With a heavenly reality, I could with ease pull myself together and refuse the condemnation coming from the brethren. I stand patiently in His Word knowing the first will be last and the last will be first. In other words, the last are the weak but, when God raises them from their weaknesses strengthening them as upon the wings of eagles, they will become first. Don’t let shame hurl you into depression. Firmly and confidently expect the unexpected because God displays His goodness when it seems most unlikely and impossible.

If my heart does not condemn me before God in whatever is happening, I do not need to allow condemnation from man to overwhelm me. I am not ashamed of the Gospel and I purpose to walk in all His ways. Knowing the fact that Holy Spirit forewarned me of treacherous weather which would be a lengthy process to navigate, I reject shame, guilt and condemnation. That which God is orchestrating, I will not allow anything or anyone to knock me over in guilt or feelings of inadequacy. I take up the armor of God and stand against the currents of life. Suffering of many forms comes to all who stand with the Lord. Keep your heart clean and the rest will resolve itself in due season.

With a God-visual, I can weather any storm and not be shamed in my weakness. I don’t have to buckle when naysayers accuse me unjustly. I check myself, then I stand unwaveringly knowing the excellent outcome is not only forthcoming, it’s already complete in the spirit-realm. My faith is in the Father. In fact, because God prophesied this was coming, I can recognize the growth which was required in me. The only way to usher such growth was through the stormy gale. For where I am weak, He is strong. No one can become content in weakness unless there is weakness present. Content means no shame and no pride; there’s only ease in the process.

 

When All My Strength has Failed

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Chapter 6: Becoming Base and Foolish, part II

We’ve seen famous athletes who are suddenly taken out of the game because of an injury and they’re completely lost having no idea how to be anything other than an athlete. We’ve witnessed the filthy rich turned to rags for one reason or another. The actual foolish, at the core, are those who think themselves wise. The authentically wise are those who place no value on anything of themselves. If you are in a situation where you have come to the end of yourself, recognize God is at hand. He earnestly desires you to humble yourself before Him so He may bless you doubly. Don’t think yourself so great that, in your weakness, you believe God has wronged you. Do not boast in your greatness assuming God owes you something.

Don’t despise becoming the base things of the Earth. It is there you will find the righteous right hand of God and all His mercy and grace. With everything my family has endured with mine and Sophia’s physical maladies, along with diminished wages from Michael’s job over the years, I am continually humbled to witness and experience first-hand the awesomeness of such an amazing God. It isn’t that Yeshua immediately manifested His healing, which I believe will happen any day, the restoration of finances, which I believe will happen any day, or that everything suddenly became perfect. No, it is a matter of watching God produce the impossible! Countless amazing God-only things have happened along the way. They confirm always that God is God; that He is in love with me, with my family, with my enemies, with the naysayers, and with His magnificent creation that I could never deny His sovereignty.

This is how foolish I am and I praise God for it! I believe. I expect. I wait upon the Lord when people or circumstances would shout loudly, “There is no God!” God avenges those who make themselves base for His name’s sake. those who lose everything and anything so as to gain eternal life.

Lose to Gain:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11, NAS)

Philippians reads, “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus.” Knowing Christ is only attainable through loss – total loss – because it isn’t about more information, it is about intimacy with the Savior. There is nothing more valuable in this universe. One can only know Christ Jesus through death just as it was for Adam. To know, in the deepest sense of the word, is to to immerse completely into something or someone. Comparing it to human relationships, when a person falls deeply in love, one can say they die to themselves or they lose themselves in the other person. They “lose” themselves for another.

The person in love will do anything to get the object of their affection to reciprocate their love. Being in love is often referred to as painful. “Love hurts,” people say. It is painful because those who were once very independent become dependent on the other person. People have been known to commit literal suicide when their love is not returned, and human love pales in comparison to the pure love of Yeshua. We need to be dependent upon Him and independent of self. This is “becoming base”; becoming as nothing so as to gain everything of value.

Counting everything you are and possess as loss is, hands down, the epitomy of becoming as nothing for the sake of Christ.

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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“Why me, Lord?” or rather “Why my child?” The question of “why” has to be the most commonly asked question of anyone throughout the ages. “Surely God who is loving has forgotten us. Doesn’t He love us? Is He punishing us? Is He lacking in power, goodness or greatness? Surely a good God would not allow this. If He were great, we wouldn’t suffer so.” To be clear, God is equally loving, good and great. He is all powerful and able to heal in any capacity needed; in fact, His healing is fully intact and is complete in the spirit-realm. The problem lies not in who God is, but in how we perceive Him and our circumstances.

We read in the first few lines of the 73rd Psalm of Asaph, “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” He continues citing how the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. Here we witness the candor of a man who was in love with God. He begins with stating the truth about God, that He loves His people, then goes into the confession of his envy of the wicked who prosper. Envy, as shown in numerous verses of God’s Word, is sin. Not only is it sin, but it is mercilessly destructive.

I deeply appreciate Asaph’s confession of his envy of those who flourish yet are wicked. When one has set their cap to serving the Lord yet suffers greatly, it is all too easy to become prideful assuming God should be more mindful of the righteous; this is pride. In our prideful spirit, we believe God has wronged us, forgotten us or altogether forsaken us. This simply is not true. There are a multitude of Scriptures preparing God’s people in how to stand in the evil day, how we have overcome the world yet beset by a myriad of sufferings.

We’re back to the problem: is it God or is it man’s prideful thinking? Without question, it is the latter. When we lay down our fleshly mindset (conscious or unconscious) of “I deserve better because I love the Lord,” already we can deduce we do not love God as much as we think. In fact, we think too highly of ourselves and love ourselves in an unhealthy fashion. It isn’t until we get to know our Sovereign King that we can take hold of a major paradigm shift. The bottom line is, we are all unworthy of God’s grace, yet He extends it regardless. All of humankind deserves hell, yet, in His supreme compassion, He allows us to partake in His worth, His Kingdom, His grace and kindness.

When our children suffer, it is far worse than suffering in our own bodies. Nevertheless, God is sovereign; He is just in all His ways. I believe 100% in supernatural healing, binding away spirits and releasing Holy Spirit in their place, anointing with oil, laying on hands from elders, repenting of known sin and going to sin no more, and breaking generational or other curses. When, however, one who walks with the Lord has done all this through faith and they don’t immediately experience a shift in the situation, we must stand in faith and trust that the Lord is all He proclaimed. His promises remain steadfast and sure.

II Corinthians 1:3-4 states, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Instead of asking, “Why”, we need to begin to humble ourselves and turn the “why” into praise. Let us come to the Father on behalf of our children so as to praise God in faith that He is who He says He is as well as stand in the faith we proclaim. Additionally, stop thinking only of your situation and begin to ask, “Lord, in all this suffering, how may I aid and comfort another in theirs.”

Asaph closed his psalm with the words, “When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in Heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on Earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.”

As parents, let us release the bitterness and embrace the God we say we love. Though our feet nearly slipped, allow God to rescue so that our feet are once again planted on solid ground. It isn’t enough to entrust our lives to the Lord, but we must equally, or more so, trust Him with our children.

I Peter 5:10: And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.