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.

Which path should I take?

Which path should I take?

My husband and I traveled many times in the 80s. One of those times we were in two different vehicles. I was traveling in the first vehicle and he was following as close as he could on the crowded highway. For some reason he thought it would be funny to get off of the highway and surprise me by getting in front of me at the next entrance.

Those were the “good ole’ days” when we had no GPS, no cell phones and no family locator apps. In those days it was just a map and perhaps some good music on a radio. So when I noticed that he wasn’t anywhere to be seen I hightailed it, thinking that somehow I missed him passing me and I was falling far behind him. Unfortunately for him, there wasn’t a simple entrance back onto the highway. It took him quite awhile to find one and once he did he drove like he was in the Indy 500 trying to catch up with me. It is funny now, not so funny then. Eventually we did reconnect as we were headed in the same direction. All was well in the end.

Today we are fortunate to have a GPS in our possession at all times. If during our trip we go slightly off course we will hear our GPS state: make a U-turn. If we don’t follow the U-turn advice our GPS will inform us that we are being rerouted. We may end up taking another route all together. Whichever way we choose to travel, we will eventually get to our planned destination.

Just think: if Moses had a GPS he would not have gone in circles for 40 years in the desert. Or if Jacob had a family locater app on his phone, he could have located Joseph who was thrown into a well and then sold as a slave. The people in Noah’s time could have known using the weather app that an unimaginable storm was approaching and perhaps hitched a ride on the ark.

Of course that is all in jest as the Lord is greater than our current technology of phones or apps.  It is the Lord who leads. It was the Lord that led the children of Israel with a pillar of a cloud by a day and fire by night.  It was the Lord who put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt (in spite of being sold as a slave) to save his people from starvation during a famine. And the people in Noah’s day had already hardened their hearts towards God’s redemption and would not have gone into the ark, even IF given a weather app warning. They were given a higher warning from a man of God and ignored all that he had to say.

The GPS is like the Holy Spirit. He always whispers the way to walk when we have fallen off the path the Lord had intended us to follow. We can make all the plans we want but it is God who will ultimately direct our steps. (Proverbs 16:9) Sometimes the plans that we make seem to fall apart. How many plans have you made that have not turned out the way you first pictured it? Often times that can cause frustration, or discouragement.

Wait,” you might think, “what happened to MY plans?”  God then intervenes, reminding us that he is directing each of our steps.

I thought that life would include a white-picket fence. I thought that the hills would be gentle and the roads would be paved. I didn’t count on winter white-outs or storms to confuse my focus. Think about the pilots who fly through storms and trust in their instruments.

On our last flight our plane was delayed because of mechanical purposes. The pilot reassured us that he would not take flight if for any reason he wasn’t completely sure that the plane was safe. This was his livelihood and he was confident that when we lifted off the ground we would get to our destination safely. And of course we did. In the meantime my daughter was allowed to go to the cockpit and see all the instruments that were used. She was amazed and wondered how the pilots could figure it all out. When they were in bad weather it was these instruments that would lead them home safely.

 

The Holy Spirit is like that, as well. Though I cannot trust the things that I see at times, I focus on his voice. I ask which way I should turn or which path I should follow. At times I make a wrong turn or make a wrong choice. Sometimes I hear him clearly — he says in his own gentle way–“make a U-turn or rerouting”.

Other times there are storms that I cannot see through. Like the pilots, I focus on the instruments that the Lord has put in front of me. It is His Word that guides me when I cannot see the right way with my own eyes. It is His Word that I lean on and trust. It is His Word that gives me strength. Some days that is all I have.

Trust the GPS that is placed inside of you. Trust the voice of the Holy Spirit when he says to jump and you do not see the ground beneath your feet. He will be sure to catch you. He will be sure to guide you in the right direction just as the pilots were able to trust their instruments. You may have gotten off the path for a moment, but be sure that the Holy Spirit will lead you back onto the right path once again.

Each of us will take a different course for our lives. Though we are all part of one body ultimately we each need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) Some of the avenues will be rocky and others will accompany streams of water with green grass by the path we walk. Jesus reminds us that he is the only way, truth and life and that no one can get to the Father, except through HIM. (John 14:6). Whichever road you must travel, it is through Jesus that we will reach our heavenly Father.

At the end of our travels we will meet up at the same place. When we eventually make it to our final destination I hope we each can say with Paul,

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
(2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV

God bless.

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Shhhh, be quiet!

Shhhh, be quiet!

Do you think the world around us is getting smaller? We know in an instant more than we used to in a week, a year or a lifetime. And often the things that we listen to or learn in an instant may not even be true or the best for our lives. Technology speaks volumes into our lives and constantly mandates what we think, buy, wear or say.

Influences will influence you no matter if you want it to or not.

Sometimes I think I know the fate of people around the world before they do because of internet technology. You and I hear about the hopelessness that has effected other lives within minutes, if not before. It was only in an instant that the massacre in Las Vegas hit the internet, or the earthquakes in Mexico, or the hurricanes that flooded the southern states and islands, or the fires that have wreaked havoc; not to mention other catastrophes around the world.

We immediately hear about the birth of royalty or can watch via live cam the birth of a giraffe in a zoo in another state or country. We know or at least think we know the decisions that leaders make regarding power and war and nuclear warheads. We know right away when famous people are getting married or divorced or even about NFL players who are not standing for the flag. And via social media we quickly know what our friends are doing as soon as it gets posted.

We, as a society, have become so information crazed that we can’t even fill our gas tanks without a video popping up on the gas pumps informing us about something, whether it is news worthy or not. I don’t even want discuss how the movie or TV or gaming industry has influenced people’s lives. We question why there is violence amongst us yet welcome it splattered before our eyes in the name of entertainment. Finally we are programmed to believe what the media chooses us to believe and then we walk away proud that we have such wisdom and understanding.

With all this techy knowledge it is a wonder that we have time to think our own thoughts or maybe we don’t. Maybe what you and I are thinking is simply something that has been placed in our minds by a society that speaks for us. Maybe the individuals that show anger in our streets are only expressing an emotion that they have been taught and encouraged through influential osmosis.

If it is true that we are what we eat and what we think and what we read and what we watch maybe, just maybe, we should consider listening to God’s word. Just think of the possibilities! Perhaps we should quiet our thoughts before the creator of the universe whether through communion with him in prayer or reading his word.

The word that he may speak can be like the voice that spoke to Elijah. He expected God to speak in the powerful wind, or in the mighty earthquake or through the roaring fire. Instead he gently spoke in a whisper. (1 Kings 19)

Is there a possibility that he would like to speak into our lives if we quieted ourselves and listened; whether it is a declaration for an entire country or something personal for us as individuals? Maybe we would be wise to consider that he might know us more than we know ourselves and want more for us than we want for ourselves. Why not try to be silent for a moment. The Lord just might surprise you and speak to your heart in a whisper.

Shhh, take time to be still and listen.

BE STILL and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a

 

Psalm 46 (NLT)

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come
And the mountains crumble into the sea.

Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed
From the very break of day
God will protect it.

The nations are in chaos and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders and the earth melts!
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
The God of Israel is our fortress.

Come, see the glorious works of the Lord;
Come see how he brings destruction upon the world.
He causes war to end through the earth
He breaks the bows and snaps the spear,
He burnt the shields with fire.

Be STILL and know that I am God
I Will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the word.

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is
here among us
the God of Israel is our fortress.