When Life Trips You Up

When Life Trips You Up

I woke up to a few words that the Lord put on my mind. Well, they are paraphrased because quite frankly I admit that I did not write them down right away. I figured I would remember them. You know how that goes.

(Note to self: Always write down your dreams and/or words from the Lord, ASAP.)

The essence of the words were: “Let go of the things that trip you up. The days are growing evil. You have to remain alert to hear my words.”

The verse that came to my mind is Hebrews 12:1.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set for us.” (NLT)

My first thought: “Seriously, the days are GROWING evil? I cannot imagine them getting worse.”

Then I thought about the things that trip me up and ensnare me, things that bring me down with heaviness.

WEIGHT THAT CAN SLOW US DOWN

Personally, I tend to want to take on all the cares and stress factors that involve my family, my future (their future) the heartaches of the world, the brokenness, the loss, the violence and the lies the world spews. Basically, I have a hard time just letting the cares disappear. I think part of that though, is the compassion of Christ. I pray or intercede often for people and circumstances. That could weigh me down, IF I do not give them to the Lord and leave the tears at the cross.

Also, my mind tends to want to relive past moments where I made an incorrect choice. IF I would let that play over and over in my mind it would drive me mad. But I have to take every thought captive and put it under the blood of Christ and remember that none of us are perfect. In fact, it is our very mistakes that create a testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and grace. God somehow uses those very things to draw us closer to him.

What kind of things weigh YOU down? Is it fear, anxiety, anger, unforgiveness, frustration, hopelessness, despair? We have all gone down these roads. BUT remember these are just things that the enemy would love to put on us so that we CANNOT walk in triumph; so that we CANNOT walk in victory.

They slow us down.

“But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.” Isaiah 40:31 (GNT)

The answer to the things that slow us down is to wait quietly on the Lord and trust him. Let him renew us. How? By getting to know him through the Word of the Lord and prayer and hanging out with those that know him. We have to cast our cares on him because it is not the Lord that is giving us these thoughts of despair. We need to take authority of our thoughts and verbally put them under the blood of Christ so that we can have peace.

Basically think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise. (Phil.4:8) How important it is to have our mind and heart in the right place and practice them. That is how we will discover peace. (Phil 4:9)

There are simple “good” things that slow us down, as well.

Too much entertainment can become distracting, so that our minds are filled with other things constantly. That includes sports, TV, gaming, movies, books etc…Don’t get me wrong, these things are okay, BUT if our lives are not balanced they can take up too much time. Maybe you are a workaholic, or fill your time with so much ministry or volunteering that you don’t have time with Jesus. Maybe it is gluttony. That is a big one for the people in America. It’s just easy and the church doesn’t necessarily consider it bad. But it can bring on health issues that can distract you from your calling. And the list continues…

PLEASE UNDERSTAND: There are occasions that life consumes us with family issues or even emergencies. BUT take a few moments a day to seek the Lord, even in your car.

Think about it, what is weighing YOU down so that you are slowing down in the faith?

THE SIN THAT SO EASILY TRIPS US UP

We are not perfect. Each of us have weak areas that are not totally surrendered in our lives. It is these areas where the enemy will try desperately to get into our lives and wreak havoc. Do you tend to lose your temper or hold onto anger? Do you hold grudges and don’t easily forgive? Do you gossip. complain, are given to substance abuse? Are you easily tripped up by sexual immorality or are you lazy or even complacent?  Yes, even complacency will trip you up because the Lord said that he would rather that you were hot or cold. (Revelation 3:16). Perhaps it’s dabbling in dark magic or lying constantly or lusting things or stealing. Again, the list can go on and on.

We all have to deal with the things (or sins) that easily trip us up and become even MORE cautious in those areas of our lives. That sin will knock at your door, so to speak.  Ephesians 4:27 says “do not give the devil a foothold”.

“Be ALERT and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

Whatever it is that may cause you to stumble, put a stop sign up to the enemy of darkness. And by all means DO NOT hang out with those that dabble in those areas. Be wise who you choose as friends.

“Do not be misled. “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)

The Lord reminds us to be sober and vigilant. We need to make time to listen if we want to hear the voice of the Lord. And how much more important it is as the days are growing evil and confusion is consuming the land.

These words were definitely for me. But I know that they are for someone else today, as well.

Finally, I pray that each of us can run the race with endurance so that we can be found faithful when we meet our Lord, and so that we have the energy and wisdom to encourage those around us.

God bless.

FREEDOM!!!!

FREEDOM!!!!

Magistrate: The prisoner wishes to say a word.
William Wallace: Freeeedommm!!  – Braveheart, 1995

Though the film, “Braveheart” was considered a “historical fantasy” it was a great descriptive story about a few brave souls who sacrificed everything– even their lives–to be free.

Of course this isn’t the only account of sacrifice for freedom throughout the history of the world. There are many nations and/or people groups that have been oppressed. And many individuals who valued freedom enough to sacrifice all they had for it.

The point is: freedom is NOT free. Someone, somewhere, sometime sacrificed so that the word “freedom” could become more than a dream. Instead it would be a reality for those that came after them. I think that many in America or perhaps even abroad do not understand those sacrifices.

Even I take so much for granted. I can work and live where I desire, save money or spend it freely, marry who I want or stay single. My kids can play outside without fear and are able to get an education so they can expand their knowledge. I can worship in any way I want and even have the freedom to express the way I believe openly.

FREEDOM is a gift that I hope my descendants can enjoy, as I have.

Of course you know where I am going from here. The greatest sacrifice for freedom came the day that Jesus gave up his life for each of us. He sacrificed for people who were torturing him. He sacrificed for those who had already died and for those who were not even born. Why was this such a great sacrifice? It was because he was sinless. It was because he was and is the son of God. He wasn’t doing it for himself. He was obeying what his heavenly Father was saying.

The fact is that he could have just rained down fire on those who refused to listen. But he knew that the spilled blood of his pure sinless life was the only avenue that would wash away the sins of each of us and reunite us with the Father. We can now enjoy the same relationship that Adam and Eve had enjoyed before they opened the door to sin. And one day, after this life is over, we will walk with him on the streets of gold.

Jesus didn’t just sacrifice his life enduring great physical pain that was unimaginable. He sacrificed with mental and emotional anguish, having been abandoned by his heavenly Father and dear friends. We may never understand all that he endured that fateful moment. We won’t be able to understand what it felt like to have the sins of the world put on our shoulders nor the pain of all the physical ailments slashing through our bodies when we were already enduring our own agonizing pain.

He didn’t stop there. He entered into the belly of hell for us and stole the keys of sin and death from satan, himself. He broke every rule of a quiet and meek individual and became the warrior no one suspected. And then if that wasn’t enough, he came victoriously back from the dead to encourage those he left behind and even those who had not yet believed.

Because of that– we can be free!

We are free from the death that could have spun us into an eternity of hell damnation and fire. We are free from religion that binds us up with so many dos and don’ts. We are free to trust in a Savior that brings joy and with no condemnation. We are free from the chains of sin that try to keep us in bondage. We are free to love others and forgive when we couldn’t have before. We are free to pray and come boldly, with grace, into the throne room of our heavenly Father. We are free to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and believe in healing and hope when the world tells us otherwise.

There are so many freedoms found in Christ.

But we must be careful to not confuse our new freedom with a license to get lazy and sin. Sometimes freedom gets mucked up with the idea that we are not accountable for our actions.  Freedom does not equal no boundaries. Think. Use common sense and wisdom in each situation.

“Someone may say, “I’m allowed to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but not everything encourages growth.”
I Corinthians 10:23 (GWT)

In other words, just because you may not experience conviction about a situation, ask yourself if it brings encouragement and growth in you or those around you. If not, is it the best choice? You and I may be the only version of Christ others may see. (I am preaching to myself here.) These are the times when we use the wisdom of the Lord in each circumstance and remember that we each need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

But let’s go a step further.

Though some choices may not be a big deal, other situations may seem a bit confusing in the hour that we live. Life tends to be more gray, than black and white, these days.  Because something is legal does not necessarily mean it is right or moral. Let’s not forget what Jesus did on that cross that dark day when he sacrificed his life. He set us free from the bondage of sin and deception.

Be careful. Do not turn around and head back down the path you came from, returning to what you left behind.

“Live like free people, and do not use your freedom as an excuse for doing evil. Instead, be God’s servants.” I Peter 2:16 (ISV)

Think of what Peter was saying. He mentioned in later verses that people can get free from the world of filth only to go back to it again. He stated that it would be better to have not known the freedom found in Christ than to have known it and return to an old lifestyle outside of God’s best. He ends by quoting a proverb from the old testament.
(2 Peter: 20-22)

“As a dog a goes back to its vomit so a fool repeats his stupidity.” Proverbs 26:11 (GWT)

Freedom is a wonderful thing. I am so grateful for it.

I pray for those that live in countries where freedom feels like a lost treasure. I pray that they can still find freedom within those boundaries as Paul often did while he wrote his letters from the confines of his prison cell.  I hope that they can feel the powerful presence of the Lord in the midst of any darkness.

For those that live in a free country, as I do, I pray that the freedom of the Lord will remain alive in our hearts and not grow dim by compromise. Instead I pray that we each use our freedom to spread the gospel of hope.

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” Psalm 119:45 (NIV)

Enjoy your freedom in Christ. Amen and God Bless.