Something God has been speaking to me about a lot over the past year is my purpose. It’s not as complicated as I thought it would be. It’s not as glamorous as I’ve hoped it would be. It’s not as mysterious as I assumed it would be. It’s not as boring as I’ve worried it would be.
My purpose is incredibly simple. It’s utterly beautiful. It’s completely fulfilling. And I’m convinced it is your purpose too…
To be eternally happy in Jesus.
That’s it! It’s not some big chore. It’s not some complicated process. It’s not self-glorifying and glamorous. It’s not inaccessible and frustrating. It’s simple and beautiful and fulfilling.
Psalm 16:11 says…
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
The Lord has been speaking this over me for a little more than a year now and I have to tell you - it has challenged my doctrine and the belief system I’ve carried for a long time. I’d spent most of my life believing that happiness is fine and dandy, but it’s secondary to holiness. I’d come to view the pursuit of happiness as self-serving and a form of idolatry. My mentality was that my lack of happiness could be worn as a sort of spiritual badge. “Look at me. I’m not completely, incandescently happy and that means I’m not a self-indulgent idolater.” Really what that says is, “I love God so much that I’m not happy! I serve God so much that I’m not happy! I spend so much time with God that I’m not happy!”
What a TERRIBLE testimony to the character and heart of our Lord - the CREATOR of happiness! And where in the world does it say anything like that in the Bible?
Let me tell you something the Lord taught me…
Happiness in Jesus is the only path to true holiness.
If you come out of time spent with Jesus and you’re still grumpy, I wonder, did you really meet with Jesus? Oh I’m not saying you didn’t read the Word! I’m not saying you weren’t just praying. But were you WITH Jesus all that time or were you working through the actions of holiness without the heart of happiness?
When Jesus becomes our everything - our hopes, our dreams, our passion, our fulfillment, our source of love and acceptance, our source of empowerment and transformation, our confidence and assurance - why wouldn’t we be happy? And the happiness in being near the Lord, the Creator of the Universe who spoke the stars into existence and still thought the world needed YOU - gives us the desire to please him and allow him to transform us into a holy people!
John Piper shares an excellent illustration for this concept. I’ll do my best not to butcher it…
Imagine if your spouse showed up at your door this evening after work and rang the doorbell instead of walking straight in. When you answer the door, he is standing there in his best suit with a bouquet of your favorite flowers and asks you on a date with him tonight. He says he has the kids taken care of, all the details are planned, all you have to do is go get dressed. If you were to ask, “Why? What made you go to all this trouble?” And he were to answer, “Well it’s my duty as your husband to do the right things. It’s my job. So I’m fulfilling my obligation as your husband to do nice things for you,” would that just let the air out of the room? That would kill the romance for me. But what if he were to answer, “Because nothing makes me happier than to see you smile and to watch your heart overflow! I am happiest when I make your heart glad! There is nothing more fulfilling to me than to bring you pleasure, my dear.”
Would you think that was a selfish answer? Is that the wrong motivation? No way! It’s the same way with us and God. Are we obeying and growing in holiness because it’s our role as His child? Because it’s our duty as a Christian? Because we are supposed to?
Or are we obeying God and growing in holiness because nothing is more fulfilling and nothing makes our heart happier than to see the Father happy! To bring pleasure to God!
Okay, I’m not saying any of this to cause marriage problems for you so, remember your spouse is human - they are NOT JESUS - and you GET to be the love of Jesus to them. This story really isn’t about them. It’s about us. So let’s refocus on us and Jesus (because I know some of us ladies struggle here…)
Do you want to get to that place with Jesus? I know I do. Can I share with you a few things I’ve learned along the way while on this journey with the Lord over the past year?
If our purpose is to be eternally happy in Jesus - how do we fulfill that purpose when we just aren’t happy? In my uneducated opinion, when we are unhappy it’s because we have some areas of our lives out of alignment and it’s wearing our heart down which is going to cause a blowout eventually (did you catch my subtle tire analogy there? I just had some car work done and learned a couple things…)
Here are the three places to check for alignment issues:
When I am unhappy, the vast majority of time, it is because I am focused on crummy circumstances, painful relationships, frustrations at home or work, and am generally discontented with my life.
My husband has a practice with our children that I’ve come to adopt for myself. When one of our kids starts to flip their lid and lose control or get super negative, my husband sits them down and gently asks them to list 3-5 (depending on how emotional things are) things they are thankful to God for. Usually they don’t want to do it at first; they want to stay mad or sad. Isn’t that just like us though? We get to our pity party and don’t want the party to end, probably because it’s justifying our bad behavior (ouch!) and we don’t want to own up to our poor choices. Anyway - once the kids start listing things that they are grateful for, it never fails, by about 2 or 3 in the list, smiles start to creep over their faces and they can finish the list with giggles.
It may take more than 2 or 3 on your list because, let’s face it, being a grown up is a little more complicated than being a kid. But maybe that’s why Jesus told us we need to have childlike faith to enter the kingdom. We need to quit overanalyzing and nuancing every single issue in our lives. IT’S MAKING US MISERABLE, SIS! Let’s just keep it simple. We have so much to be thankful for and it’s time to refocus our eyes and hearts to our gratitude list and start reaching smiles and giggles by 2 or 3!
This one is hard. I know. But sometimes we just aren’t happy because we aren’t willing to let go of our stuff and say YES to God. This is a trust issue. When we struggle to hand things over to God it is because there is a part of our heart and mind that just doesn’t believe He can handle it, that He’ll do the right thing, that He is for us - not against us. We don’t trust Him.
Do you know how to overcome this? There are 2 steps to overcoming here… that’s it. Here they are:
If you aren’t happy, there’s a good chance you aren’t spending much time in His presence. You may be spending time reading the Bible - you can read the Bible and miss that this is the very voice of God speaking his love over you right in that moment. You may be praying - we can talk to God and forget to listen to His precious voice speaking truth over us and breaking off every lie we have chosen to believe. You may be going to church - we can attend church and miss God’s Spirit moving and speaking and ready to heal in the room.
Get in His presence with a heart to see Him, hear Him, and know Him. And if we do it looking for Him to DO something for us rather than just to BE with us - we may miss Him. I have found that when my heart is just to be near to God, not to have him fix all my problems, his very presence is enough. I don’t need answers. I don’t need problems gone. I don’t need finances restored. I don’t need relationships perfect. I just need His presence and that is ENOUGH for my heart. That is where I’m fulfilled. Not because he fixes my problems - which he does that sometimes - but because his presence fills my heart and that’s what I really am needing.
So sister, what is out of alignment in your heart today? What is keeping you from stepping into the fullness of joy only found in His presence? What needs to adjust so that you can live out your true purpose and be eternally happy in Jesus?
Lord Jesus, we know that You alone fill all our holes and gaps. You alone put healing salve on deep, deep wounds. You alone give hope everlasting. You alone give beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. I pray for my sisters today who aren’t happy. For sisters who are hurting and struggling. For my tired and weary sisters. For my brokenhearted sisters. For my sisters who are angry and the ones who are afraid. You are the lifter of heads so we call on You to fulfill your Word and lift their heads up to you and your glorious face right now, Jesus. Just looking into your face changes everything, Lord. We need YOU. Help us to know that. Bring us that revelation in our minds and our hearts. That YOU are the answer - not what you can do - but who YOU are. We want to be eternally happy in YOU Jesus. Show us where you are ready to bring an alignment in our hearts and we’ll submit that to you Jesus. Help us to trust you. We believe… would you help us with our unbelief? We know you are good, you are faithful, you are loving, you are redeemer, you are hope and salvation. Remind us of that truth now, Lord, as we draw close to you today.
written by: lyndsay terry
Read more from Lyndsay @ www.lyndsayterry.com
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It's really been sort of interesting and challenging to begin to think, pray and write through all of the topics we have explored this year at Pretty & Wise in light of all that 2020 has held.
Purpose seems like an especially gripping topic.
This year, we've seen a lot of the vehicles through which we believed we carried out our purpose changed or stripped away altogether. Our ministries, communities, mission fields- adapted to fit into quarantine restrictions or just put aside altogether.
And I don't know about you, but without the things that made up my insanely busy, "productive" and "purposeful" life, it got pretty quiet.
And it became hard to do even the most basic, 'neighbor-loving' things.
And it was in this eerily quiet, unknown and uncharted sort of place where I believe purpose was truly fleshed out.
One of my most favorite books of the Bible is Hosea. Oh, I would love to tell you all about the many times the Lord has wooed and pursued me through this book! It holds such beautiful, breathtaking grace, love and mercy.
Hosea 2 speaks to Israel's adultery and I want you to take a look at what the Lord says:
"For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes.
I will block her path with a wall
to make her lose her way.
When she runs after her lovers,
she won't be able to catch them.
She will search for them
but not find them.
Then she will think,
'I might as well return to my husband,
for I was better off with him than I am now.'
She doesn't realize that it was I who gave her everything she has-
the grain, the new wine, the olive oil;
I even gave her silver and gold.
But she gave all my gifts to Baal." (Hosea 2:6-8 NLT)
Oh, sweet friend. I hope that you will read this book in its entirety, for the rest of this passage speaks even more to what we have experienced this year. An end to annual festivals, celebrations..
This is likened to being stripped naked.
Completely exposed before the Lord, with nothing to hide behind or throw ourselves into.
Just us and our Bridegroom. Face to face.
And wow, I've got goosebumps when I think of this level of intimacy. It is beautiful beyond words or comprehension.
But it is also uncomfortable.
I know so very well how difficult it is to be completely seen. And it's like, we know that Jesus sees us ALL, but when we become keenly aware; when we can't escape it.. whew, it's humbling. It's flesh-killing. It's sanctifying and refining.
Friend, I am sure this year has been all of this and more. And I say to you, sister:
This is very good.
The Lord's Love for Unfaithful Israel:
"But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there.
I will return her vineyard to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble
into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
"When that day comes," says the Lord,
"you will call me 'my husband'
instead of 'my master.'" (Hosea 2:14-16 NLT)
Through the discomfort and exposure to the elements, in the quiet and uncomfortably still, in the arid desert, have you heard Him calling?
Have you seen Him pursuing you?
This desert, this wilderness of a year. Oh, sister, this has served a purpose. Beyond what you can even begin to imagine.
This season has freed us from bondage. Caused us to repent and lay down our idols. We've thrown it all off, all that has weighed us down, so that we can begin to RUN.
Our purpose is to love the Lord God with all that we've got. Above all else. More than any other thing. Our purpose is to know that nothing else in this world will satisfy us and to drink deeply of Living Water.
Our purpose is to hunger and to thirst and to pant and long for God as a deer pants for water. (Psalm 42)
We were created in the image and likeness of the Lord God Himself. To walk with Him. To commune with Him. To love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
And then to love our neighbor as ourselves.
And so if we are to effectively walk out our purpose, purposefully, in the many ways that we love others; if we are to fruitfully be salt of the earth and light of the world, we have *first* got to love the Lord our God above all else.
This is critical.
This is vital.
And so, sweet friend, I pray that you have seen this process unfolding this year. And I pray that if the wilderness has felt unkind and almost like a near-death, wasting-away experience, that now your eyes will be opened to the restoration and new life and new wine to come.
IT. IS. COMING.
IT. IS. RETURNING.
Love is returning.
Hold firm to this truth, sister. Do not give in. God is good. He is faithful. He does not delay.
He is coming for you.
He is doing a new thing.
Do you perceive it?
Jesus, oh beautiful Jesus, we come before you. At your feet. Laid bare. And we thank you for this painful, almost unbearable pruning. We thank you for this great shaking. We pray, Lord, that we would seek Your face above all else. That you would show us how to love, by lavishing on us Your great love. You are good. You are beautiful. Your love IS lavish. It is extravagant. It doesn't make sense but you pour it out on us, Jesus. Open our eyes to see what you are up to! Help us to walk forward from here on out with great purpose, bearing fruit, ready for harvest. Awaken us, Lord! Awaken us to the full life you have for us on this side of eternity and at the same time, awaken us to what awaits for us in eternity with you. Give us an unquenchable desire for you and an urgency to establish your Kingdom. Thank you, Jesus. AMEN!
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As I sat down to write this article, I kept coming back to the same verse over and over. Jeremiah 29:11-13
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
We are talking about purpose this month, and that is something that I have always struggled with. What is my purpose? I see friends who are doing amazing things, leading groups, growing businesses, living what seems to be a profound and purpose filled life. And then I look around me. Piles of laundry, a floor that needs to be swept, dishes in the sink, dog hair on the carpet, kids that need a bath. What is the purpose in all this?
Well sisters, the purpose is for me to show Jesus to my children, husband, and friends, and co-workers.
My best friend reminded me that my purpose is to love, be kind, and keep doing what I am doing in raising my kids. She isn’t wrong. That verse in Jeremiah tells me that God has plans for me and that those plans are for good things. His plans are my purpose. He is the one that blessed me with this family. Why WOULDN’T that be my purpose?
He also tells me in that verse that I need to be calling upon him and seeking him with all my heart so I can find him. I don’t know about you, but when I set my focus on Jesus for the day I am amazed at all the things that seemed to be a big deal dissolve away and I am able to focus on my true purpose better.
I also believe that our purpose can change depending on the season of life we are in. Right now, as I said, mine is for my family. There are women out there who are not married, don’t have children, have raised their children, or who are still raising children. No matter what season of life you are in, God has a plan - a purpose - for you. I’m not going to lie, I am looking forward to the season of purpose that doesn’t involve diapers.
So let’s circle back to that comparison of purpose thing I had going on. When I see friends walking in their purpose I can’t compare my life or purpose to theirs. Looking at someone else’s life and comparing it to yours is never a good idea, but especially if you are trying to figure out your purpose. Seek God with all our heart. You will find him. He will reveal to you what your purpose is. Who better to show you purpose in your life than the one that made you?
I know this article has been a little all over the place. This topic is one that I struggle with, as I said. I want you to know that I am praying for you. Yes you. If you are reading this article, I am praying that you allow God to speak to you and help you either find your purpose in him or find contentment in the purpose he has given you. It has taken me a long time to get to that point and I still have times when I wonder. He knows the plans he has for you - and they are for good and a future and hope.
WRITTEN BY: Angie Reese
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You were made for a purpose.
I think most of us are familiar with this phrase. It then begs the question, what is my purpose? For many, it becomes a lifelong pursuit...or an endless trial and error of 'trying on' this job or that profession. We may even begin a series of volunteer positions looking for that perfect fit. We want to find that job or profession that gives us that hand in glove feeling...to find our sweet spot in life. And we think that as we are doing this we are pursuing our purpose in life.
Maybe it's just semantics, but I believe that we are apt to confuse our purpose with our calling. When we begin looking for our calling when we have not first truly understood our purpose, then we have put the cart before the horse.
I am a word girl. I love words and I believe it is really important that we understand the meanings of the words we use. In our current culture words have become blurred as old meanings have been dismissed and new meanings are assigned to words that we thought we knew the meaning of based on the definitions that have been around for hundreds of years, if not longer. But that is an article begging to be written for another time. I think when it comes to the words 'purpose' and 'calling' we have just generally not had a clear understanding and so we have fallen to using the words interchangeably as if they had the same meaning. Therefore, I think it important to look at their meanings from the dictionary.
2: the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages
4.a strong impulse or inclination: She did it in response to an inner calling.
2. an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
As I look over these two definitions I can see that there is clearly a difference between calling and purpose. Our calling helps us accomplish our purpose.
Calling Facilitates Purpose
In Romans 8:28 we are told that we are called according to His purpose.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.
So we need to look to the author of life for our purpose. If we love God and want to understand why we were created and put here on this earth we need to understand His purpose in creating us before we pursue a specific calling for our lives.
In order to understand how something is to be used properly, we need to understand why it was created.
Let's look at a coffee cup. A coffee cup is made specifically to hold coffee. I am extremely grateful for the creator of the coffee cup as I smell that wondrous aroma and take the first sip of the day….ahhhh…but I digress. The coffee cup's purpose is to hold coffee...plain and simple. Can it do other things? Sure...but it doesn't fulfill the purpose for which it was designed if it's sitting on your desk holding pens.
You and I were created for a purpose. That purpose is to glorify God. We need only to look to the example of Jesus on this earth to see what it means to live out that purpose. In His own words, we hear this,
I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.
So if our purpose is to glorify God, then how do we do that? That's where our calling comes into play. Calling is the means to accomplish our purpose. If we don't understand our purpose before we look for our calling, then we are in danger of allowing our calling to become our purpose.
When we do that we are placing our own calling on the throne of our lives. It becomes the driving force in our life. Our calling becomes our god. And life begins to lose its true purpose. We begin to seek success with our calling and crave the affirmation of that success from the world. We seek our own glory rather than God's glory. By putting our calling first we are putting ourselves on the throne. That's a dangerous place to be. And it brings us misery in the end.
Friends, it is really important that we get this right. Words are important. His Word is the primary way that God communicates with us. His son, Jesus Christ, is referred to as 'the Word' (John 1:1). It's is so important that we look to the Word to understand that we all have the same purpose...to glorify God. But each one of us is uniquely created according to our calling to fulfill that purpose.
You are called. What your calling looks like is very specific to the way you are created. You are uniquely you for a reason. Your giftings, your bent, your personality, your abilities, your occupation, your ministry in the local church...these make up your calling. Your calling will often include specific assignments. Your calling is the thing or things God has given you to carry out to fulfill your purpose (to glorify God).
If we keep our purpose of glorifying God as the primary driving force in our lives, then it becomes the gauge to measure our progress in life, which leads us to our calling.
In The Grand Weaver, Ravi Zacharias tells us that finding our calling,
...gives you the security of knowing that you are utilizing your gifts and your will to God's end first, not yours. When you align your will with God's will, his calling on you has found its home.
If we are looking for God’s calling on our life, then we must first seek His will. When our will becomes synonymous with His will we will find our calling. Our calling will then lead us to bring glory to His name. We are called according to His purpose...to bring glory to His name...name above all names.
Soli Deo gloria...glory to God alone!
WRITTEN BY: GAY IDLE
For more from Gay, head to her website: www.gayidle.com
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What am I even supposed to be doing? I hear that question asked all the time (sometimes more than I like in my own head). Sometimes, sometimes I am looking for my next big step. And honestly, sometimes it is because I walked into a room and I just flat out forgot what I was supposed to be doing. LOL Anyones else do that or just me?!? Sometimes it is when I think about how to raise my children or lead a ministry or help out at my kids' school.
But one thing always seems to be true, there always seems to be something very looming about that question to me. As if almost immediately after it is brought up there is this dark cloud overhead and things start to get heavy. The weight of everything seems to be a little harder to hold...
Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing the wrong thing?...
I have recently been going through the book “Godmothers” by Lisa Brevere and as we were going through the study Holy Spirit revealed something so powerful to me.
In this quiet moment of study where I sat in my favorite chair soaking in my favorite worship music I began to imagine. I began to ask God to take me deeper. To use me however He saw fit. And I began to pour out my heart and tell Him, whatever it looked like, whatever it sounds like, whatever it felt like I wanted to be His. I wanted Him to use me the way only He knew I was specifically created for... And then the cloud...
What if I am not on the right track... What if I have missed too many doors... What if I don’t have the right kind of education, training or background... What if I wasn’t enough... (FYI-YOU ARE ENOUGH.)
Then in the midst of what was turning into a panic, I felt a calm out of no where and Holy Spirit whispered to me “Sis, I never asked you to do all that. I simply asked you to love Me and love others.”
I am reminded of the toilet paper meme that goes something like this:
Everyone wants to change the world, but no one whats to change the roll. BE THE CHANGE!
And as funny and simple as it is, it also brings great truth with it. So many of us are out there reaching for these massive things. We have grandiose dreams where we accomplish these amazing feats. We want to be the best in our profession. We want to have multiple locations and be the CEO’s and CFO’s, we want to be the next big book author or movie star or music artist. We want to be the one that everyone wants to be and have the things that everyone wants to have and do the things that everyone wants to do. We want to change to world.
Sometimes we just need to change our roll.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I believe in goal setting. I believe in having vision for the future and I absolutely believe that having BIG DREAMS is important in our lives and in the lives around us. I am not for one minute discounting that. Only... I again am reminded of the 2 most important commandments; Love God, and love others.
I wonder if sometimes I lose sight of that in my striving to be on the right path, the right steps, the right career. I don’t want the fear of not being enough or knowing enough or doing enough to paralyze me in my tracks anymore.
Sitting there in my chair that morning Holy Spirit reminded me to not get so distracted with my big picture that I forget to change my roll.
Because the truth is, what good is changing the world if you don’t have someone (God and others) to change it for.
I have this friend who whenever I go to her and I am overwhelmed and don’t know what to do, she simply says “What’s the next right thing?” And I love that because it gives me the freedom to not know all the right answers and the where and the when and the how everything is going to work out. It takes the pressure off and helps to realign and get me moving again even if it is just the next right thing.
So, if in this season you are like me and looking around at all of this crazy thing we call life. Maybe you have the dreams and the goals and the visions and plans God has given you for your life, but you are siting in your favorite chair going, Lord I have no idea how or when or where. I just want to encourage you, we do not have all the answers all the time! And that is ok. (Ssshhhh! Don’t tell my husband and my kids LOL) We were never meant to have them all. We were simply meant to love God and love others.
Do the next right thing and do it with love. We can never and will never go wrong with God’s love. He will guide you if you ask Him and let Him.
Father, I pray that You help Your daughter to imagine and dream with You today and throughout this week. Reveal to her Your plans for her. Plans to prosper her, plans to give her hope and a future. I thank You Father that when she seeks You she find You and You reveal Yourself to her. Help her to see herself the way You see her and remind her to change the roll and put her love on. In Jesus mighty mighty name, Amen.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; Jeremiah 1:5
WRITTEN BY: ALEXANDRIA BROWN
For more from Alexandria, visit her website at www.alexandriabrown.org.
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When I was a young teenager, I was really into reading these books for teens on spiritual warfare. The books followed the lives of a brother and sister who had spiritual encounters with the occult, the demonic, witchcraft, etc. They were written in a way that showed God always overcomes evil and the importance of the Armor of God, however, they scared me to death. So much of the book was written to help the readers see that the occult is nothing to delve into while the brother and sister and the power of God didn't overcome evil until the climax of the book - as every good suspense book is written. But as a young teenager, this made me VERY afraid of the devil.
I had read the scriptures and grown up in Bible-teaching churches and a Christian family. I knew the devil was out to kill, steal, and destroy. He is the accuser of God's people. He isn't someone to poke a stick at. After reading those books, I had nightmares. Terrible ones. I could tell you story after story of nights when I woke up paralyzed by fear, hardly having a voice to pray and ask for help. This waned for a time, but shortly after I moved to an area that was inundated with witchcraft the dreams came back. The overwhelming fear came back. The spiritual oppression came back full force. I would wake up and feel like my voice disappeared. I would wake up and feel a presence in my room. If my voice came back, I would just start worshipping and saying out loud, "Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord." I felt like the darkness was haunting and taunting me.
Listen. We are NOT meant to live this way. We are NOT meant to be afraid of the dark, afraid of the demonic, afraid of the enemy. We are NOT meant to hide and cower until he goes away and leaves us alone. We are NOT meant to look for the devil hiding behind every bush in every circumstance. Let's not give him that much credit. He doesn't have any power over us unless we hand it over to him.
I began to understand this about 8 years ago, but God has been showing me some new things about where I stand with the devil.
I have heard it said so many times by believers, "greater levels, greater devils." Maybe that's true, I can't say for sure. I don't see much of a biblical precedent for that, but circumstantially speaking, the statement seems to carry some weight. "Greater levels, greater devils" is a statement that implies that the closer we get to God, the more the enemy is going to attack us. The attacks will get greater and greater, harder and harder as we draw near to God and his plan.
I don't know that I fully subscribe to that statement. I think sometimes that may be true, but I don't know if that is a steadfast rule for every believer.
There is a verse in the New Testament (1 John 3:8) that says Jesus came to "destroy the works of the devil." So if I think about it beyond Jesus' 33 years on earth, I have to understand something very important. The devil is still prowling the earth looking for who he can devour, he is still the prince and power of the air, he hasn't been thrown into the lake of fire yet. Jesus ascended into heaven and gave us his Spirit who gives us access to ALL of God's power. ALL of it. Not just some of it, but ALL of it. Did we get that? The power that raised dead men to life, healed the sick, and made blind people see is LIVING INSIDE OF US. And we have FULL ACCESS to that. On top of that, we are made to walk in the footsteps of Christ, fulfilling the mission he has put before us. Our lives and paths may look different, but we are purposed and equipped to DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL, just like Jesus. We aren't on the defense y'all! We are offensive players. We are STALKING the darkness.
I think each time we submit more fully to God and begin to fulfill our purpose, we come up against a spiritual wall. We enter into enemy territory and we are purposed to DESTROY the enemy in that territory. That territory belongs to God and we are the ones to TAKE IT BACK for God. We walk in a constant state of victory because our brother, Jesus, extended all of his power to us. We have full access to the resources of heaven and perfect victory, but it's up to us to go to God and receive it.
We are not made to be afraid of the enemy. We are made new in Christ so that he is AFRAID OF US. We are made to stalk the darkness, take back territory, and reign as sons and daughters of the most powerful, most loving, most righteous, most holy, most gracious, MOST HIGH GOD. El Elyon.
We have nothing to fear for our God is with us. Emmanuel. He provides the resources to secure the victory. Jehovah-Jireh. We have ranking over the enemy because we belong to the Almighty God. El Shaddai.
So let's stop cowering in fear. Let's stop doing what keeps us safe and start doing what we were purposed to do:
STALK the darkness. DESTROY the works of the devil. TAKE BACK territory.
WRITTEN BY: Lyndsay Terry
Read more from Lyndsay @ www.lyndsayterry.com
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Okay, so when you think of fear, what comes to mind?
Public speaking, you say?
Oh great, so you're tracking with me here! Apparently we are in good company, according to statistics.
All joking aside.. the latest development in my journey of overcoming fear has come about as a result of public speaking.
It's been quite the journey, which funnily enough, began a few years ago with public speaking. The subject? '20 Seconds of Insane Courage'.
Yep, true story.
I have dealt with completely and utterly paralyzing fear surrounding public speaking. It has been crippling and frustrating.
It has also somehow become freeing, serving as an altar on which I can clearly recall and trace and see the Lord's goodness.
Several months ago, I made a commitment to begin making time in the evenings to write a few days a week. From that commitment to myself and to God came this completely unexpected and beautiful time with the Lord and this pouring out of words onto pages of a notebook that I had not a clue what to do with. I just began to write and waited to see what, if anything, would come of this writing.
One Sunday morning soon after, right in the middle of worship, I suddenly knew what I was to do next. And look, I was not thrilled.
I mustered up twenty seconds of insane courage to approach our Pastor after service and said something like, "Umm, hi, so I've been writing this thing. And I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to share it in a communion meditation but I'd really rather not. I mean, I will. I want to. To be obedient, that is. Not a communion meditation. But I will because God said so. So.. Yeah." (Please insert about a thousand "um's" and imagine a very red face for the sake of historical accuracy)
And you know this was completely and totally the LORD because our Pastor was so very encouraging after those tangled words fell out of my mouth.
I lost a good bit of sleep as the day of my communion meditation approached. My heart was constantly in my throat and I shook like a leaf all that morning. I wanted desperately to run and begged the Lord to sustain me as I felt incredibly physically and emotionally weak. After I somehow managed to get through what I had written without passing out, I returned to my seat and sobbed through the rest of worship, crying out to God, saying, "Lord, this is for You. This is all about You. Please don't let me make this about me or my performance or how I may be perceived or received. Please just let You be visible and glorified above all else."
(God, in all His extravagant goodness and graciousness, allowed this morning to be an unthinkably beautiful and emboldening time for me anyway. He's lavishly good like that.)
Moving forward, though, this became a somewhat regular cycle over the next few months. My stomach would drop when I learned the date of my next meditation and I would feel absolutely sick as the time approached, even though I was growing in intimacy with the Lord in the preparation, prayer and worship leading up to Sunday service. One Saturday evening, I had had enough and texted a couple of precious friends of mine, asking what was so heavily laid on my heart, "Please pray for me. I am so sick over this and I am so sick of this. I am praying for ALL fear to GO and for the FEAR OF THE LORD to be the only thing remaining. Please pray with me!"
I share all of this with you, sweet friend, so you will have an idea of how much of a burden this fear has been for me. And there were many times when I thought I surrendered this fear to the Lord and anticipated breakthrough in this area of my faith, only to be perplexed and momentarily defeated when I didn't see this unfolding quite as I expected.
This was so because my trust in the Lord only went but so far, as it turned out. I trusted Him enough to step out in obedience. I trusted Him enough to place on my heart what to say for a particular service. But I had drawn a line and I didn't yet trust enough that He would fill my mouth if I only opened it in expectation that His Holy Spirit would guide my words and fill my gaps. I just couldn't do it and I reasoned that, well, it wasn't that I didn't trust Him. I just didn't trust myself. I was the problem.
And that right there was exactly the problem. Too much hinged on my ability, or lack thereof. Instead of fixing my eyes on Jesus and keeping my eyes there, too often my gaze wavered and I wondered why in the world I was drowning in this fear.
"In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge." Proverbs 14:26
"Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!" Psalm 34:9
I laid down my fear but then ultimately snatched it right back up because of my own lack.
Lack of fear of the Lord.
Lack of confidence in Him.
Lack of belief.
Fear of the Lord means having "a deep respect, reverence and awe for God's power and authority." If I don't allow Him complete and total authority over my fear, trusting that He, in His sovereignty, will come through, even when I don't see a way, how then can His perfect love cast out fear? (1 John 4:18)
How can we have a deep and personal reverence and awe of Jesus if we are not willing to lay it all down, to risk it all?
How can our eyes be opened to the magnificence of His power and authority in our lives- and how can He be glorified- if we won't loosen our grip on the things we feel like we need to hold onto simply because we are afraid of what will happen when we let go?
Oh, friend. It's quite the journey to exchange your fear for the only fear that is pure (Psalm 19:9). He is able. There are no words for the relief and freedom there is when we can finally wholly surrender our fears to Jesus. His desire is for chains to break and for scales to fall as our eyes are opened to His glory.
I praise Him for His great mercy in this walk of allowing Him to loose the grip of fear in my life. I still am growing in this area but have seen such a transformation. There is still trembling but it is before Him. I have seen Him provide and sustain in new and unimaginable ways this year and can say to you with confidence: God's power and authority far outweigh any fear you find yourself up against. He wants it out of your grasp so that you can see just how glorious He is. I stand in awe of all that He has done with such debilitating fear! Him and Him alone!
Lord, we praise you. You alone are worthy. You are worthy of it all. And so, Lord, we lay down our fear to you today. We lay it all down and pray that even our mustard seed of faith in doing this results in such an abundance and covers our lack in such a way that is unfathomable and unimaginable and supernatural. Please forgive us for the fears we have not yet been able to leave at your feet, God. Let your fear reign over our hearts and let all our worldly fear fall off. You are able, Lord. We cry out for freedom from fear and for a boldness for you and for your kingdom. "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
WRITTEN BY: OLIVIA CALDWELL
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When the time came for me to really let her go and say goodbye at the airport, the tears came. How could I impart upon her all the things I hadn’t said? How could I make sure she was making good choices and being safe? How could I let my baby go to the other side of the country without me? She was so young! I was afraid for her. Afraid for things she had never even thought about. This precious gift that God had given me was leaving me and it was time for me to let go. This was me sending my oldest daughter off to Seattle, Washington. She was going to be fine. I knew that in my heart. But not seeing her every day and not hearing her singing in the house and her silly laughing with her little sisters was going to leave a hole.
The fact of the matter is that I am no good at letting things go. I am afraid. Fear gets a foothold in my heart and I can’t seem to release things to God like I am supposed to. Proverbs 3:5 says we are to trust God and not lean on our own understanding. Philippians 4:6 says we aren’t supposed to be anxious, but let request be known to God. Romans 8:28 promises that it will all work together for those that love God. So why is this so hard?
The enemy is smart and knows how much we like to be in control. He knows what kinds of things make us worry and anxious and fearful. He knows that letting go in faith is hard enough, but when you add a touch of fear, it makes it even harder.
We hold tight to so many things. So many of these things are meant to be left at Jesus’ feet. This includes our kids! Yes, we are supposed to take care of them, but there comes a time when we do let go. He loves our kids even more than we do! He loves us more than we can imagine! Sweet sisters, we have to learn to let him take over in so many areas of our life. That job you want? He’s got a plan for it. The spouse you were given? God has it under control. That worry for health issues? He already knows how it is going to work out. That worry in the back of your mind that keeps you up at night striking fear in your heart for it to work out? Already taken care of according to His plan.
The opposite of FEAR is FAITH (a strong form of trust). That is power in our hands! The power that lives in us is built on that faith.
2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
We must rest on that promise. We are told we have POWER, LOVE, and SELF-CONTROL in the face of our fears.
I let a few tears flow that day I put my 18 year old daughter on a plane to Seattle. I am guilty of telling her that she can always come home. But I let her go. I left her in the hands of the Father that loves her even more than I do and knows that she was raised to be independent. What do you need to leave at the feet of Jesus today? I promise that you will be glad you did. Let your fears of letting go be the first things to go.
WRITTEN BY: ANGIE REESE
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There is something so very calming about walking along the beach. Feeling the gritty grains of sand on my bare feet, and the gentle breeze as it lifts my hair to fully expose my face to the bright rays of the sun. It calms my spirit and feeds my soul. As if in the overflow... God wants to fully reveal my inner spirit, the real me, to the world. And in that revelation, I feel His peace.
I revel in that peace. It is a balm to the inner wounds of my soul and spirit. I am walking out the process of being healed and made whole. In this healing, I am able to step forward into the ocean's waves...even as they begin to crash at my feet. He guides me, but I must keep moving forward into the depths of His love and grace.
There is freedom in this intentional forward movement...this dance with the waters, as they swirl around my knees. Oh, what freedom! I love the dance!
This is what I was created for...this freedom to walk into all He has purposed for my life.
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” ~C.S. Lewis
And so I continue to wade into the waters, feeling the waves lift me and carry me,
"As You carry me, LORD, I surrender to Your path for my life. I feel You guiding me deeper still."
Sometimes the waves get a little rough. They rise up and slap me fully in the face. Still, I move forward as I regain my footing and catch my breath. Sometimes there is a struggle in moving forward into God's will. In breathing again, I am thrilled with the wonder of all He has created. And it fills me and enables me to continue on.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. ~Psalm 42:7, NLT
And then it happens. A rogue wave rises out of nowhere and knocks me off my feet! As the waves sweep over me, I struggle to regain my footing...there...there is the sand again. I dig in my heels to steady my body to let the waves sweep past me. Calm is restored. But I cannot move forward. I'm afraid to keep moving.
So I stand there, waist-deep. There will be more waves.
"Can You carry me, Lord? I'm not strong enough for this!"
I dig my heels further into the sand and refuse to move out into the deeper waters. I know He is calling me, but I am paralyzed with fear. I want to move...but as I hesitate, I feel the sands lifting and resettling around my feet as they sink further and further down into the sand ...the sinking sand. And I am STUCK! Unable to move forward into all He is calling me to. Into the wonder, into His grace. I feel the disgrace of the fall ...the shame of being stuck in my tracks.
And yet He calls me deeper still. Out of disgrace into His grace. As I reach out to take His hand, He pulls me out of the sinking sands. I move forward leaving fear and doubt in the wake of His love and mercy. And I am in awe of this God who loves me so.
I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, 'Do not close your ear to my cry for help!'
You came near when I called on you; you said, 'Do not fear!'
You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.
~ Lamentations 3:55-58
Unstuck ... I am free! Free to walk deeper still into this calling. Into His arms...His strength. Into His grace.
Does fear have you stuck? Let God take your hand and step forward into His grace. When you do ... those things that hold you back will begin to fall away. Leaving you free...free from fear. Unstuck! Free to walk into all He created you to be.
Earlier this year, our team gathered together to pray and decide on topics that we felt the Lord was putting before us to encourage, challenge, and strengthen women around the world this year through our blog, videos, and discussion on the Community. The topic of LEADERSHIP was brought to the table and immediately, two women came to mind... Pam Smith and Melanie Resendes. After talking with them and reading their thoughts on leadership, I (Lyndsay) was in tears. I needed to hear so much of this personally and I felt a big, fat confirmation that our choice in asking them to partner with us on the topic of leadership was 100% the Lord's influence and leading!
Pam and Melanie desperately love Jesus, their families, and the work God has put before them. While both are Boss Babes, each of them bring different strengths to their teams and have their own leadership style heavily influenced by Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are so blessed to call them each a friend and have this conversation together today! I'll let them introduce themselves and we'll let's get this thing started...
Melanie and Pam, thank you both for letting us glean from your fields here on the blog. We've got some real nourishment, encouragement, and refreshment from you both today! We appreciate your candor, vulnerability, and wisdom. You both have some deep wells and we are so so grateful for you, your ministries, and all that God is doing in you, through you, and around you.
We'd love to continue this conversation with all of you beautiful women on the Community so head over there and let's chat!
Did God speak to you through this conversation today?
What is He showing you?
How can we support you or champion you to grow in leadership and obey Jesus more today than yesterday?
You are so loved,
Pretty & Wise Co.
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