Who You Know: Favor and Consequence

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Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

You’ve heard the statement said that “It’s not what you know but who you know.”

Possessing knowledge of something and/or having connections to help resolve situations or to advance efforts are beneficial. More often than not, it’s in the “who we know” that delivers our immediate help. This is the case as we’ll see displayed in Daniel 2 and throughout the book of Daniel’s 12 chapters.

Who Daniel knows — the living God — proves to be his blessing to others by correctly interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. This relationship granted Daniel and the other “wise men” in Babylon a pardon on their lives for the king was going to “cut into pieces” the magicians, sorcerers, and wise men who had promised to interpret his dream and had failed. Through his relationship, commune with and prayer to God, God provided Daniel the dream’s meaning. Because of this, Daniel was given favor with King Nebuchadnezzar and was promoted to a high position, making him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and lavished with many gifts. In addition, “at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.” (Daniel 2:49)

Who Daniel knew not only gained him favor, promotion and spared his life, it also saved others’ lives and gave his closest and godliest wise men promotion and favor with the king.

The favor bestowed was temporary for in chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar builds an image of gold, 90 feet high and nine feet wide in the province of Babylon. He issued a decree ordering everyone to worship the image or be killed. Others did, but Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would not. They were committed to honor, worship and serve the Lord God. The magicians whose lives were saved by Daniel, now saw an opportunity to have Daniel’s men destroyed. The magicians went to King Nebuchadnezzar and told him that Daniel’s men would not worship the golden image. This infuriated King Nebuchadnezzar and he summoned them into his presence.

Despite the king’s threats, the men remained committed to serving the Lord and would not worship the golden image. Well, you know how this part of the story goes. Infuriated by their refusal to worship the golden image, King Nebuchadnezzar orders Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be tied up and thrown into a fiery furnace heated seven times hotter than usual (Daniel 3:19-20). In this process, the men were committed to serving God whether He delivered them or not.

You know the story. The furnace’s heat was so intense that it killed the soldiers who escorted them. God joined His godly servants in the fiery furnace. They were unbound, unharmed and didn’t smell of smoke. Upon witnessing this, King Nebuchadnezzar saw how mighty the God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and decreed that no one say anything against their God or they would be “cut into pieces.” (Daniel 3:28-29). He further said, “for no other god can save in this way.” The men were once again promoted by the king in the province of Babylon.

 

Daniel-3-the-Fiery-Furnace

How amazing is that?! Because of the Who that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew it brought them to be recipients of opposition yet also great favor and promotion. There’s no one like our God! None!

Daniel goes on to interpret more of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. By chapter 4, King Nebuchadnezzar now acknowledges the work and miracles of the Most High God. He once again calls upon Daniel to interpret a disturbing dream he had, for all of the sorcerers, diviners and magicians had failed to do so, once again. He knew that he could trust Daniel to give a correct interpretation. But more importantly, he trusted Who was Daniel’s source of information/revelation.

In verses Daniel 4:34-36, King Nebuchadnezzar by this time is praising “the Most High God,” (this is after he lost his mind and throne for seven years, and then God restored him, per the dream) and says, “I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation (v. 34).” By verse 37, King Nebuchadnezzar says, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

This is powerful. Look at this transformation undergone by King Nebuchadnezzar! An arrogant king is humbled. Who would have thought this possible in the earlier part of his and Daniel’s relationship? What I love about this entire journey of Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar is this:

  1. Daniel never apologizes for or compromises who he knows (God) to someone who did not initially believe in his God.
  2. WHO Daniel knows (God) is both a blessing (he and his men were promoted multiple times by the king, and he was able to spare the lives of the other false diviners) AND a consequence (Daniel’s men were thrown into the fiery furnace for not worshiping the golden image). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would not compromise their relationship with God and were committed to Him, whether He delivered them or not.
  3. Through the CHARACTER and faithfulness of God and Daniel, Daniel became endeared by King Nebuchadnezzar and through that, King Nebuchadnezzar came to see the true God.
  4. Daniel’s intimacy with His God paved the way for King Nebuchadnezzar to experience God personally and glorify God in his life.

As Believers, we do not have to compromise God when engaging with others who do not believe. We have what the world needs. The relationship we have with God and His faithfulness toward us will speak volumes with many who will place us in trusted positions because of what they see God doing through us, even if they themselves choose not to seek Him. Because of Who we know, we will be able to bless others to see the goodness of God where others have failed. Through Him, we will have greater influence to govern, to lead and to provide counsel on some of our world’s most challenging issues. We will be given access that will puzzle others who will say, “How did you get that?”

Let’s be real: there are some folks where just your association with them is always a consequence and no good can come from it! 😦 There will always be consequence and discomfort in knowing the Lord. Daniel’s story shows us that and if you’ve lived for God more than one day, you know this too. However, Daniel shows us that there is an abundance of blessings beyond what we can imagine (even hearts changed for eternity) in following Him, unabashedly. Never compromise and never discount what your influence is doing now and for eternity. Never discount that God is at work. #Harvest

Nicole

 

 

 

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You Cannot Be Gentle in This Fight

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

For the past three weeks, I’ve been praying on and drafting a blog post on the importance of “who you know” based on the book of Daniel. I’ve nearly completed it and was prepared to share it with you today or this weekend. But, a more immediate subject is impressed upon my spirit to address now with the Body of Christ. You can expect to receive the Daniel message sometime next week.

Kate Spade, 55. Anthony Bourdain, 61. Too many others to count. This Tuesday and now today, we are grappling with the sad and sobering news of lives lost to apparent suicide. Bad news travels fast particularly in today’s real-time news cycle at our fingertips— received on our phones, pads and various devices communicated across myriad platforms. As outside onlookers, the breaking news alerts of their deaths shocks us to our core, gives us pause and conjures up questions of “why” because we have benefited from their many gifts and talents. From a distance, we see them smiling, seemingly living well, traveling the world, basking in the fruits of their talents and enjoying life.

But by the news accounts, the external did not match the internal, what we as outsiders were not privy to seeing. We don’t know the inner turmoil they battled. Even for those closest to them, some of the “whys” remain and will remain. We lift their families, loved ones, friends and colleagues in prayer as they process these losses.

I write this article not as someone who has ever contemplated committing suicide. This will not be a data-driven article on suicide. I want to preserve that information for a more in-depth discussion we’ll have on our radio show/podcast as we relaunch our show later this summer/early fall since our hiatus last April. Some of us have been praying about various regions of the U.S. that are experiencing a significant uptick in suicides and we’ll discuss that on the show as well.

This is a message to strengthen and encourage.

I shared earlier today and through previous blog posts on overcoming anxiety and illness this year. While I experienced healing around mid-March, I underwent further attacks to my physical and mental health in late March up through early May. More returned trips to the ER for heart palpitations with heart rates that had doctors very concerned. Labs coming back showing that my body is sound, perfectly healthy and yet heart rates were off the charts. They ruled out this and that. Sent me home. The enemy, our formidable adversary, Satan, kept pounding my head with more thoughts about death, not being alive to complete the call on my life and ministry God has for me, etc., etc. I thought I was losing my mind.

As we continue in our walk with God, He extends us out further to advance His Kingdom; to be light where there is darkness. This is what I do and desire to do more of and yet, sometimes I wanted to isolate. I felt like my head was in a fog, quite simply oppression. The enemy had me running back and forth to doctors’ appointments, multiple tests were run, getting the all clear every time. These were ridiculous “errands” and not a good use of my time or resources. But this is the enemy’s plan. He can’t steal our salvation but he can sure try to steal our peace, joy, time, resources, focus, etc.

One morning, after being pounded relentlessly by the enemy, I called a dear sister in Christ who is a mighty prayer warrior. I seldom reach out to people like this but I was desperate. I knew my call to her was likely inconvenient timing because of her work schedule but I prayed that she would answer, and certainly she did. When her jovial voice answered, I shakily shared with her what I was experiencing. She immediately went into full throttle prayer. I began crying (folks who know me know I don’t do this) for what seemed like 10-15 minutes. Then, that thing just broke. It lifted. Was gone. No more. DONE. We laughed! We spoke for an hour and my spirit was lighter, my head clear and I was back! I should have reached out sooner!! I am grateful to her and the saints!

She said many great things during our conversation but certainly one statement that I have implemented and will share with you. She said, “We need to get angry.” 

I asked her, “Get angry?”

She replied, “Yes. We don’t get angry enough at what our adversary, Satan is doing. We need to get angry.”

I instantly understood what she was saying. And she was right–at least in how I had been responding to the enemy’s attacks.  I had to:

Get angry that Satan was trying to steal my health (and your health too).

Get angry that Satan was trying to steal my peace (and your peace too).

Get angry that Satan was stealing my time and resources with distractions (and yours too).

FIGHT punch

Though I am a fighter, I was still being too passive. I realized that I had to be intentional because the enemy was definitely intentional about trying to derail me. I could not be gentle in this fight. And neither can you be gentle in your fight. Punch the heck out of him. Nor do we give Satan any authority. He can only operate with the authority we give him.

For those of us advancing God’s Kingdom, living daily as Ambassadors of Christ, we can expect opposition. God will often place us in direct conflict with the enemy (sift us like wheat, Luke 22:31), but I promise you, you will be stronger and spiritually mature if you keep your focus on Jesus, in whom lies our victory. Saints, we have a formidable adversary who wants to derail and destroy you by any means possible. It’s important as soldiers in God’s Army for people to see us victorious but for them also to see our battle scars. David, Job, Moses, Paul and countless saints before us experienced those battle scars in part because of their weaknesses even while advancing God’s will. If you don’t have battle scars, don’t have something to lose/gain, then you don’t have skin in the game.

As one dear seasoned saint told me about our adversary, even when things appear chaotic everywhere: “The devil is serious about doing harm to humanity. The difference between him and many of the saints in carrying out efforts, is that he is disciplined, organized and committed.”

Saints, this is indeed spiritual warfare. As our enemy is so committed, we must be committed, disciplined and organized in our prayer life, in our walk. We should do nothing less. Our enemy won’t. We must be fit for the fight (read our blog post on what it means to be F.I.T.). We, you cannot be gentle in this fight. PUT ON your helmet of salvation to guard your thoughts. TAKE UP your shield of faith to thwart the enemy’s fiery darts coming at you. WIELD the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God so you can immediately respond to the enemy’s lies. Remember that you are already positioned in victory through Christ Jesus.

Today, I am at the best I’ve ever been. I feel like I’ve undergone a six-month metamorphosis and have come out newer, stronger, more resolved and more emboldened for God’s Kingdom. What I’ve gained and learned is indescribable and has prepared me for the next level. I pray this for you too.

I shared this prayer earlier on social media, and will include it here as well. I was first praying it aloud but was led to post it.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to give us life and life abundantly (John 10:10). In You, is Life! For those who seek You and trust in You, we know that You have good plans and a good future for us (Jeremiah 29:11). We come against the murderous and suicidal spirit in the earth; the thief that seeks to kill and destroy. We reject the spirit of anxiety, depression, despair and hopelessness. We reject the enemy’s lies which are ALWAYS counterfeit to the truth and Your promises. Father, we pray those battling this right now may feel and know and be settled by Your love, joy and peace. Reset their minds with thoughts of hope and peace. Help us to be a refuge to those who are hurting. Where they feel faint by this life, give them strength. May they know that they are loved by many, but most importantly, loved by You. Thank you. In the name of Jesus, we ask this. Amen.

Love and blessings to you my brothers and sisters,

Nicole

Jesus, Not Politicians, Is the Author of True Liberty and Deliverance

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Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

There were politics in Jesus’ day as it is today.

Jesus was not a political figure, carried to and fro by the whims of the people. He said what needed to be said knowing that it would bring opposition against Him. Jesus could not have helped people then or now had he been a political figure. Unlike the promises made by politicians, Jesus did not necessarily come to remove everyone’s circumstances. What He did come to do was to change our hearts and minds about our circumstances.

No doubt that our society and world endure what are seemingly intractable problems to solve. All around the world it’s the same song. From poverty, racism, addictions, corruption, violence and other issues, we do our best to solve and eradicate the problems. We create campaigns, marches and movements to bring awareness and arouse action. We work to inform and shape policies in hopes to break what has bound us. Yet, with these activities and more, many problems remain. In all of mankind’s intellect, reasoning and can-do spirit, we are unable to completely eradicate problems.

It is in our nature to seek answers; to solve problems. We seek to fix and make sense out of. We desire to bring justice to unjust situations. We desire to bring relief to those ailed. This is all very good.

Yet, for those in Christ Jesus, we understand that even such situations exist for God’s purposes. Purposes we may not understand but trust that God is sovereign even in times of suffering and wickedness. What was meant for evil God can make for our good.

Jesus told us that we would have trouble. It’s inescapable. As sure as we’ll face problems, Jesus also assured us of this: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV)

So how should we respond? Sit on our hands and wait for Christ’s return? No. While we should not divorce the pragmatic from the biblical in addressing issues, and while we should keep our hands to the plow (Luke 9:62) and not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9), most importantly, we pray for people to invite Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit to change their heart and mind. This is where change begins. Jesus, we pray for your love and light to transform.

Yes, Lord. We need change. Without you, true change is elusive.

setting_captives_free

In desiring to help, we must prepare mindsets. This is where the fight actually begins. If mindsets are enslaved they need to be set free. A freed and renewed mind begins to write a different story other than the previous narrative of enslavement they thought they were held to. People can’t change the story until they receive new information. God has given us His Truth to lay down a better track to replace the one they’ve been playing. We have been called to set the captives free, to set free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18). Christ is the true author of liberty and deliverance. The truth will set you free (John 8:32). 

Pray for the Body of Christ to be a light wherever God has planted us; to boldly and lovingly share His Truth. Man’s version of liberty and deliverance is limited and constantly needs revising as it falls short of true freedom. The world can offer good solutions by putting its traditional applications on situations but WE, the Church carry within us the best and true solution: Jesus. Then we will indeed see chains broken.

-Nicole

 

“All You Can Eat”

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

What comes to your mind when you hear or see the words “All You Can Eat”? These four words typically generate excitement among those of us who desire to get the most bang for our buck; to maximize our dollars and leave an establishment feeling greatly satisfied.

A term often associated with buffets, “All You Can Eat” restaurants excite patrons who envision multiple food stations offering a variety of cuisines in as many helpings as they can consume at a fixed price. At some buffets, you could indulge in breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert all in one sitting. A seemingly perfect match for maximizing your dollars only limited by your stomach capacity and waistband.

buffet with people.jpg

Being raised in Kansas and eating hearty foods such as mashed potatoes (yum), macaroni and cheese and meatloaf, these were also once my favorites to eat at buffets at a fixed price. Fast forward to when I located to Washington, D.C. several years ago for an internship. There was a popular buffet near my workplace that I’d visit during lunch. This place offered an even wider variety of food options from different countries and of course…mashed potatoes. Excited to see creamy mashed potatoes, I loaded a few spoonfuls onto my plate. Along with macaroni and cheese, vegetables and other items. What I had not prepared for was that at this buffet and many in the area, the food was charged by weight. Yikes. I paid a hefty $$ for that lunch. I quickly and strategically learned to adjust my portions after that experience!

Food is a familiar territory for Jesus. He fed crowds of thousands with loaves of fish and bread. After feeding the multitudes and they were satisfied, there were baskets of food left over. Jesus leaves us filled, running over and more than satisfied. We can feed at His table continually and the longer we stay, the more we love Him and desire more of Him. It’s okay to linger and go back for seconds. The abundance is ours if we want it.

basket-bread-rolls-fish-750x330

I make no apologies for wanting everything that the Lord has for me. I want to feed at His feet. I daily depend on Him for my sustenance, my spiritual nourishment. It’s where healing is reaffirmed. Where brokenness is healed. Where we gather strength to be refined by and overcome life’s challenges. It’s where we are filled and able to pour into others with a fresh word to revive their downcast souls. It’s where we experience great joy in fellowship with Him and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s where our heart and mind come closer to Christ instead of being far from Him. It’s also where we learn more of who we are in Christ Jesus. It’s where we begin to see that God’s vision for us is much wider than it is limited. It’s where we develop the confidence to grow and go into our calling; to leave the familiar to enter the unfamiliar. It’s where we receive our daily instructions.

God is always doing a new thing, so we need to be at the table to get our instructions! It is where feeding our faith becomes fuel to press on amid spiritual warfare. It’s also where we develop new appetites for what Jesus desires and forgo our old appetites of the world and where we break unhealthy generational appetites passed down to us. I won’t kid you: feeding at the table may cost you separation from those who are uncomfortable with your new appetite. But that’s okay. You’ll have food for them when they’re ready.

Spiritual food= sitting at Jesus’ feet and feeding at His table. When we sit at Jesus’ feet and feed from His table, we are more than satisfied. Take time. Make time. We can have as much of Jesus as our heart desires. He already paid the price for our direct access. The Lord desires a close and intimate communion with us, that we would thirst and hunger to know Him more. That we would have a singleness of heart for Him. He is there waiting for us. The food is prepared. There is no limit to your partaking and return.

Will you come to His table? It is an “All You Can Eat” invitation. #TheBreadofLife

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)

Love and Blessings,

Nicole

A Call for Authentic Faith

 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“The descent is easy.”- Virgil

I read a lot. Thanks to my mom, I’ve loved reading since I was a kid. Mom enrolled me and my brother in a book club where we’d excitedly wait to receive the new reads we ordered each month. As an avid reader today, I am also selective in what I read and what I feed my spirit. Two years ago, a great book passed my litmus test and was added to my collection.

Sometimes you read a book and from the first page the author’s words grip you. Their words resonate with you so much that you are nodding your head all the way through. You might even highlight certain text that you want to remember. You might even say as I did in reading this book, “He (or she) is speaking my language!”

Real Christianity, written by English abolitionist and politician, William Wilberforce (1759-1833), is the book I am referencing. Wilberforce and his book’s message were instrumental in stopping the slave trade in England. In his book’s introduction, Wilberforce pens an “author’s apology” telling the reader that because he is not a theologian he may not be taken seriously but that his message is nonetheless important, truthful and worth strong consideration. After he apologizes, he writes this:

“Enough apologies and justifications; let me get on with the task at hand. Here is what I am going to attempt to accomplish in writing this book. I’m not going to attempt to either convince skeptics or answer the questions unbelievers seem to ask, but rather point out some of the problems with the beliefs and actions of those who already claim to be Christians. I’d like to attempt to contrast what we see in the lives of many, perhaps most, who make this claim with what I understand the Bible teaches about what it means to believe in Christ. I am disturbed when I see the majority of so-called Christians having such little understanding of the real nature of the faith they profess…

…Life as we know it, with all of its ups and downs, will soon be over. We will all give an account to God of how we have lived. Because of this fact, I’m not going to pull any punches in what I write. I hope you will seriously consider what is contained in these pages. If what I write seems too rigid or austere, I would only ask that you check what I have to say against what the Bible teaches. That is the only opinion that counts. If you accept the authority of the Bible, I assume you will agree.” – William Wilberforce, Real Christianity, 1797

Real Christianity book cover

Wilberforce’s words written more than 200 years ago are “speaking my language” today. Wilberforce anchors his message in the infallible, unchanging and often offensive Word of God. His straightforward writing from the book’s start to finish makes no apologies for upholding God’s Word as the standard by which we should live, particularly those of us who proclaim to follow Jesus. In his day, Wilberforce was disheartened by a climate that was gradually abandoning authentic faith and embracing something far easier to swallow; something that would allow people to live how they wanted to live and make themselves more likable to others: cultural Christianity.

Cultural Christianity is a watering down of God’s Word and relationship standards to make it more palpable to those who want to do what they want to do anyway. In watering down the truth, we strip the Word of its power to truly heal and restore people, communities, our nation, world and situations. This action is akin to using a placebo to treat an illness instead of the medication prescribed by your doctor. You allow the illness to fester and worsen. Either you want to be healed or you don’t. Wilberforce said it well:

“Nominal or superficial Christianity does not have the ability to create such outcomes (that overcome any social, economic or racial barriers). (Societal) and political decay can thrive under cultural Christianity but authentic faith will bring it to a sudden halt.”

As society was pursuing greater degrees of progress, Wilberforce saw more people wavering in their convictions. Trust and believe that today, we are reaping those decisions made then.

As the Roman poet Virgil wrote in his popular work the Aeneid, “The descent is easy.” In essence, the seemingly “little” and “insignificant” compromises we make become even easier to do so the next time, and harder to ascend back up to truth. If we decide to be “all in” then we’ll never be satisfied with living as a halfway Christian, making the descent into cultural Christianity and candy-coated messages less likely.

In leading Voices Against the Grain, to boldly advance God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing’ society, I too, pull no punches. I desire to deliver God’s Word just as it is — not adding to or taking away from it. Like Wilberforce and many others who share/teach God’s Word, I am not seminary trained. However, I have gained much knowledge revealed through the Holy Spirit and spending significant time communing with the Lord. God has also placed great and studied spiritual teachers in my life who have aided in my further understanding, teaching and administering of His Word.

Introspection and Call for Authentic Faith

Many of you reading this are living out authentic faith in a time when unbelief, strange teachings and “live and let live” ideals are preferred. Thank you! You have no idea the amount of moral, political and social decay and injustices that have been stopped simply by your prayers and commitment to truly share the Gospel, unfiltered. Yet, God desires that the entire Body of Christ exercises authentic faith— not only some. When we gradually fall in with societal trends, we are accelerating society’s decay. In Matthew 5:13-16, we are described as “salt” and “light.” Salt preserves and light shines a path out of darkness. Neither occurs when we compromise the truth.

Where are you on the spectrum of truth? If you are a Christian, do you see truth from the view of our God who “changes not” (Malachi 3:6)? As a Christian, are there areas where you’re likely to compromise and if so, why? 

This is a call for authentic faith. We can’t walk the fence between pleasing God and pleasing the world. The compromise is never worth hindering someone’s true liberation found only in Christ Jesus. We should trust that God is big enough to overcome opposition. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up (exalted) from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32). The attraction of the cross of Christ and the matchless love of God will prove to be the mightiest revelation to draw those far away near to Christ, those with whom you may fear sharing truth.

John 12-32 I if I be lifted up

We share truth (Jesus) because we love God and we love people. We desire for those who will to become beneficiaries of truth, no longer slaves to deception but freely living as intimate co-workers with God. We desire that no one lives less than the abundant life Jesus promised. This can only be acquired through sharing and living authentic faith.

Can you be counted on to never compromise the truth (Jesus)? Will you live “all in” and not halfway? Pray for courage. Pray to grow in deeper love with the Lord that gives way to your unwavering obedience to Him.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”- John 8:32

-Nicole

What Does it Mean to Be “Fit” (F.I.T.)?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“Fit.” It’s a word that the Holy Spirit has given me in this season. So, what does it mean for me, for you, for the Body of Christ?

First, let’s see how the dictionary defines “fit”: 

1. (of a thing) of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose.”the meat is fit for human consumption”
synonyms: suitable, good enough; relevant, pertinent, apt, appropriate, suited, apposite, fitting; archaic meet “fit for human habitation”
2. in good health, especially because of regular physical exercise.
“I swim regularly to keep fit” synonyms: healthy, well, in good health, in (good) shape, in (good) trim, in good condition, fighting fit, as fit as a fiddle;
verb 1. be of the right shape and size for. “those jeans still fit me” 2. fix or put (something) into place. “They fitted smoke alarms to their home”
synonyms: lay, position, place, put in place/position, fix

Now we have a good idea of what meanings encompass “fit.”

In persevering and running our race, in countering the attacks delivered by our adversary Satan, in dispersing light in darkness and encroaching on the enemy’s territory, in taking territory away from the enemy and reclaiming it for God’s Kingdom, we must be “fit.”

  • “Fit” emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. As Paul said in Philippians 4:12, “I am content in all circumstances.” We are not elated or deflated by our circumstances. We are maintained and steadied by the peace of Christ and the confidence in Him in whom we anchor our hope.
  • That we would allow perseverance to “finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4
  • Our faith should be continuously maintained and developed/kept “fit” to help us persevere in courage, in the confidence of God’s promises and faithfulness. Someone told me of warriors past who would regularly maintain their shields which were made in part from leather. If the leather was not regularly maintained, the shield would crack and leave the user defenseless against oncoming arrows. Consider how important this is in our being able to thwart the enemy’s fiery darts by arming ourselves with and deploying the spiritual shield of faith as depicted in Ephesians 6:16. Our faith must be fit for the fight. 
  • We must shed/lay aside anything (ex: sins, burdens, strange teachings, carrying unnecessary weight) that would hinder our ability to successfully run our race so we are able to move freely and unobstructed as instructed in Hebrews 12:1-2 :

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Training Like an Athlete

When I think about being “fit,” I consider the great example of athletes training to meet and exceed certain performance goals. From diet, to rigorous workouts, to having great coaches (in our case mentors, teachers, pastors), to proper rest and recovery, to implementing discipline and consistency in adhering to the various criteria required to meet their goals, there is significant preparation involved. Being undisciplined or unprepared in any area could lead to missed goals.

Athletes training

During elementary and junior high school I ran track. I was one of the fastest sprinters in school, competing against other schools and taking home first and second place ribbons. My prized races were the 50 and 100-yard dash and bringing up the rear as the anchor in relay races, taking us into first place. Again, these were short distance races for which I was well prepared.

Now enter the 800-meter race. It was a hot day and for whatever reason I was running the 800 meter. The track was black asphalt made several degrees hotter by the beating early afternoon sun. In one moment I remember coming into the curve of the track. In the next moment, I was waking up on the black asphalt and being escorted to the school nurse’s office. My mom was called and met me at school. According to my PE teacher, I blacked out, likely from a combination of the heat, hot asphalt and not consuming enough fluids beforehand, causing dehydration. Thank GOD that I didn’t bust my pretty teeth in the fall!  🙂

In short, I had not properly prepared for that longer race. I was not fit to endure it to successful completion. What I had in physical abilities and talent was short-circuited by a lack of practical hydration. This can happen in running and enduring our spiritual race too if we’re strong in a number of areas but not shored up in one or more. Imagine if you do everything else but aren’t engaged in a continuous spirit of prayer? Or not studying God’s Word, meditating on it day and night so you can immediately and confidently refute the enemy’s lies? Imagine if your shield of faith has been neglected and subject to cracking on the first hit?

In wrapping up, I’ve created an acronym to summarize being fit for our purposes:

F.I.T. = Fortifying an Intentional Trajectory

fortify: strengthen, protect, secure mentally or physically

intentional: deliberate, intended, purposeful, studied

trajectory: moving under the action of given forces; course, path, track

May we fortify our spiritual development with the intentionality of completing our race in excellence.

I believe that we are in a time of seeing greater moves of God accompanied by greater enemy opposition as we advance God’s Kingdom in the earth. We are indeed overcoming that enemy opposition and are more than conquerors because He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. Hallelujah! We were chosen, predestined (fit) for this race. We have been positioned, placed in this particular race by God to endure to a specific end designed on a track for His purposes. So, let’s be intentional, purposeful in our development that we may be fit for what’s coming.

Fortify us, Lord, in your Word and may we meditate on it and keep our mind on you to keep us on the path. We want to hear you say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

female track runnerFit female track runner

Love and God bless you! Run your race!

Nicole

A Fixer Who Trusts ‘The Fixer’

 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Pencil erasers. White Out. Accepted tracked changes. Scotch tape. Duct tape. Super Glue. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. As imperfect human beings navigating this thing called “life,” along the way we’ve made mistakes, have had some “uh-ohs” and “oops,” typos and numerous reminders indicating that we don’t have it all together. To close these gaps in hopes to present ourselves and our situations as being “together,” we’ve created products proven most helpful for fixing things. Super Glue to help make like new that precious vase we accidentally knocked over and chipped (whoops). Duct tape for that piece or attachment that needs to hang on for a while longer so it and we can continue to function without interruption.

As a writer, proofreader and someone whose DIY home decor activities has sometimes been sheer comedy, I know a thing or two about being a “fixer.” Depending on the situation, we may feel panic when the error or incident occurs and then flooded with relief when we’re able to fix it, either through our own expertise or someone else’s expertise or created product. Whew!

repairing-glass-vase-duct-tape-bernard-katz-glass

Yet, life will place us in unprecedented situations and we scramble for solutions. “Let’s try this. Let’s try that. Maybe this here will work.” If we’re honest, our “solutions” may worsen the situation or offer no change at all, leaving us feeling flummoxed, anxious or hopeless. We’ve exhausted everything known within our finite abilities. What are we to do?

“Fix it, Jesus.”

In January, I shared with you in two blog posts a raw account of health challenges I had been facing since this past November. Having long diligence in living a healthy lifestyle, I came down with the flu and then subsequent health issues followed afterward. Several of the experiences were new to me and unnerving. The battle was physical and spiritual. In seeking deliverance from the physical symptoms the Lord assured me in that still, small voice that He would heal me. In my need to see an immediate reversal of symptoms, I would try this thing or that — but to no avail. Why didn’t I take Him at His word? The Holy Spirit told me repeatedly that He would restore me, symptom by symptom.

God desires that we come to the end of our own efforts and surrender all to Him. Eventually, I yielded. Crying out, praying. I no longer relied upon my finite expertise of trying to “fix it.” I wholly leaned on Him daily, hourly, and cast every burden upon Him (Psalm 55:22) to handle and fix in His timing. In talking with Him, I specifically told Him what I desired to see fixed.

In the passing days and weeks, the specific symptoms I prayed against were no longer. The Lord did as He said He would do. I needed to take my hands off of it and trust Him. In this process, I also spent a great deal of time in prayer, studying His Word, viewing Christian programming–just immersed. I pressed in. My mind was being renewed to trust Him even more. Anxieties about my health were being replaced with His peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Thank you Jesus!

My faith was being greatly tested and fortified. I was also becoming a greater warrior against our enemy who consistently attacked my thoughts. I got my head back through truly putting on the helmet of salvation as instructed in Ephesians 6:17 (read this article, “What Is the Helmet of Salvation?”). I learned to immediately reject Satan’s attacks and lies by countering them with God’s Word and what I knew to be true; demolishing arguments and taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is critical. We must do this immediately as it ceases the enemy’s ability to continue in this. Trusted prayer partners joined me and stood with me in believing for my health and recovery. For their prayers, fasting and encouragement, I am so grateful.

My recovery and healing also involved obedience in practical steps I was led to take. This included identifying food allergies that were causing inflammation, juicing and eating more of a Mediterranean diet and winding down earlier for bed.

In follow up doctors’ appointments, I am pleased to report that all is “normal.” I am healthy. I have sat in quiet awe and gratitude of how good and faithful is our God. This process transformed me to love and know Him deeper. I abide in His Word and am even more emboldened to equip and encourage others in Christ Jesus.

Introspection 

“We will all encounter challenges causing us to think that God’s promises for us will “die on the vine,” says my dear brother in Christ, Hakim Hazim, co-founder of Christian think tank FreedomSquared.org. But Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) As my dear brother further shared:

“God is the great Resolver— but not before He brings us to and through those moments that will further define our walk with Him and shape us. In every challenge, God expects us to overcome it or be transformed by it. God gives strength to saints to overcome the situation and continue on — OR, He gives us the strength to be transformed by the situation and continue on. Transformation allows us to change our approach. There are things that we’re required to lay down or cast off in order to move forward (see Hebrews 12:1-2). What we have been transformed by before becomes yesterday’s manna. We now become transformed by a new mindset.”

God is a Healer. He is our Deliverer. He is a Restorer. And if we trust Him, He is indeed THE Fixer. He will fix it while He is transforming us. He is fixing our feet to be “surefooted like that of a deer, enabling us to tread upon the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19), to surmount the rugged places of life with great confidence and faith in our Almighty God.

My love to you and God bless you as you trust and believe God in your situation. Jesus will work it out  (listen to this)!

Nicole

 

Stop Lingering. ‘Come Out of Her, My People’

 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

She has been an adulterer with all of us…

What activities in your life do you linger in that are snares to your spiritual growth?

1After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2With a mighty voice he shouted:

“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. 3For all nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries. 4Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; 5for her sins have piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. – Revelation 18:1-5, New International Version

Babylon was a splendid city in ancient Mesopotamia located between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers about 60 miles south of what is now Baghdad. It was a resilient, thriving and idolatrous city whose pleasures often came with a price to its occupiers. Through Daniel, King Belshazzar, who ruled in Babylon, was warned that “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.” (Daniel 5:26) True to the prophecy, Babylon and Belshazzar’s kingdom was destroyed by the Persians.

Today, “Babylon” is our sinful, wicked and hedonistic culture. It is also whatever is your personal “Babylon.” What is your personal Babylon? I don’t know. But it usually appeals to our flesh. The Holy Spirit surely will indicate areas in your life that need sanctification; activities or people that He has asked you to shed, be separated from, no longer be ensnared by, to no longer entertain the flesh.

Your “Babylon” could be anything from gorging on unhealthy foods or particular goods He has instructed you to abstain from, music, types of television shows or other forms of media and entertainment He has pricked your spirit about to no longer allow these in your life since our bodies house the Holy Spirit. It could be any form of sexual immorality, lusts of the flesh, pride of life, gossiping, ungodly associations, materialism, vanity, selfish ambition, false doctrine, false beliefs and trends, etc.

If we are truly walking and talking with the Lord, studying His Word and learning His ways, we’ll feel that “prick” in our spirit as only He can do. In His infinite wisdom, He knows that indulging Babylon is harmful to us whether spiritually, physically, emotionally or mentally. I presume that any loving parent would call their child away from harm.

In His great love for us, God does the same and we should take joy in this. We are His Children and He calls us away from such harm knowing that it corrupts even if “everybody else is doing it” (in this case, the world). The world is behaving as it should in a world heavily influenced by Satan. We are called to be set apart from the world. Not only has God set us apart from the world for His purposes, we are called to expose the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11).

It may even be something that doesn’t appear bad by outward appearances. For example, habitually drinking coffee, or for me it was listening to a lot of R & B music years ago, watching some TV shows. The Lord may see an activity as too consuming in your life and ask you to “put it down” to subdue the flesh. We may also be ignorant of what is our personal Babylon. Ask Him to reveal it to you.

When He says, “Come out,” don’t linger like Lot’s wife who was destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah for lingering because her heart was still joined to it. Sever ties with it. Avoid rationalizing your need to stay in Babylon, however harmless it seems in the grand scheme of things. That’s the intended delusion!

 

Babylon culture

Is there anything we would allow to hinder deepening our obedience to the Lord, whatever He asks? Is there anything not worth shedding that He asks us? He is indeed a gracious, loving and patient God who calls and prompts us, awaiting our response. He is imploring His People—you and me as members of the Body of Christ, His elect and those lost sheep yet to return to the fold—to “Come out of her,” to come out of Babylon.

I join many of you and other Believers in sensing that Jesus is preparing His Bride, preparing His Church for His return. There is a serious tenderness with an increased urgency to “come out now” and “don’t linger.” While the world will continue to engage in its affections, God has called us to separate from it. He is returning for a glorious Church without spot, wrinkle or blemish, holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:27).

I direct this message to you as well as to myself. Our goal is spiritual maturity, to be perfected in Christ Jesus. To be truly liberated from our clamoring flesh. We are at war with our flesh–not to make peace with it. We must be vigilant.

Sanctification is a process. You have to desire the change and it starts by renewing your mind (Romans 12:2) and setting your mind on what the Spirit desires (Romans 8:5-6). God will not change His mind about what He wants from us so we need to change ours. Come out now and don’t linger. May you be obedient and guard against any rationalization to stay in or return to it. He will help you if you trust Him and obey. He will give you the grace to do it but we must be a participant. May we directly associate obedience with our love for Him.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” -John 14:15 (New International Version)

Heavenly Father, thank you for your lovingkindness shown toward us even when we have blatantly rebelled. As your children, you know what is best for us and the purposes you have for us. May we be determined by a desire for holiness to stop lingering in a lifestyle or habit when you have said “Come out of it.” May our hearts be tendered to your voice. If we are ignorant of our personal Babylon, show us and help our obedience to leave it behind. May we press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us. Thank you for wanting to free us from the affections of this world so we may experience abundant life as you’ve promised. By your leading, may we serve as light, love and truth to help free others who are ensnared by worldly culture. 

In Jesus’ Name we ask and pray this.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will You Be Found Wanting?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Tekel (means “weighed”): You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. –Daniel 5:27, New International Version

The New Living Translation uses the words “have not measured up” and the New American Standard Bible uses the words “found deficient.”

The Gill’s Exposition commentary on Daniel 5:27 gives the meaning on ‘Tekel’:

“though art weighed in the balances: of justice and truth, in the holy righteous law of God; as gold, and jewels, and precious stones, are weighed in the scales by the goldsmith and jeweler to know the truth (the integrity) of them, weighed with great exactness, to know the worth of them… where a person’s principles, practices, are to be weighed; and it is sad where they are found light and wanting…pretending to be righteous and holy and will be found wanting of that holiness and righteousness…his works will be found wanting, and not answerable to the demands of a righteous law, and he without the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness, and so naked and speechless. The fire of the word will reveal, try, and burn up and being able to stand against it; and if these are weighed in the balances, they will be found wanting of real truth and goodness, and be but as chaff to wheat…”

Daniel 5:27 along with the commentary, references those whose works, intentions of their heart and their lifestyle has been counterfeit and unrighteous in the eyes of God.  They pursued vanities and not the truth; not the true oil to fill their lamps. Their living will be measured against God’s standards and found to be deficient. Their vain living and works absent of the righteousness of Christ will be burned up in the fire like hay or wood. The fire will test what work each has done, and if anyone’s work is burned up he will be saved but only through the fire. However, those robed in Christ’s righteousness, who have operated in the truth, will be like pure jewels and stones whose works when measured on the scales will not be deficient but of lasting, enduring, eternal substance and significance.

scales Daniel 5-27

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 also references those who build their lives on foundations other than the true foundation of Christ Jesus. In doing so, no matter their worldly accolades and achievements, they will come up short in their eternal impact.

That which we love, we seek. Many people pursue the vanities of worldly significance, ignorant and oblivious to what will truly be of significance/weight/value in the eternal. This grave and irreversible reality is sealed after they have died, have been eulogized and unable to do no more. They will be without excuse.

Paul also says “each man’s work will be revealed by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13),” and what will remain? The nearer you draw to God in THIS LIFE, it sets your course on your role with GOD in Eternal Life. As Believers, we will not be judged for our sins but our work will be judged. What work did we do for Him? In Matthew 6:33, Jesus told us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” and to be near to Him, and to love Him. We are establishing an eternal inheritance for ourselves.

Introspection

Sometimes I am led to expand more in my writings but have not felt that leading here. The message is piercing and sobering. It calls us to take a serious account of our living thus far; to ask God to reveal to us areas where we are falling short. To seek and pursue Him with everything we have. To yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s leading into truth and to follow in the right direction. We want to hear those words, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

Will your work be sustained or burn up? Will you be found wanting on the scales? Your folly will be made manifest at a time in which there are no “do overs”; the window of “redo” will have closed as you find your living and works deficient, if you are found wanting on the scales according to God’s standards.

Have you lived as God calls us–to be holy and righteous? Have you provided people with sufficiency, weight and truth? What fruit have you produced in their lives that will give them eternal weight?

-Nicole

 

Overcoming Illness: I Had to Believe What I’ve Read and Written About (Part 2)

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Dear Brothers and Sisters: This writing continues as Part 2 of 2  to the previous post I wrote sharing with you my present season of trial in overcoming illness and being restored to health. This has not only been a physical battle but also a spiritual battle in rejecting the enemy’s lies about my future and God’s plans for me. In this experience, God has revealed several things to me which I will share to hopefully encourage you in your current or upcoming trial. Most importantly, I’ve learned that: our God is greater than our circumstances, He is so near to us even at times if you do not perceive His presence, He goes out of His way to remind us of His faithfulness toward us and love for us…and that the devil remains and will always be a liar. I have also been encouraged by many of your “likes,” “shares” and comments on social media with regard to how the previous post blessed you. I am grateful to be used in God’s service for His Kingdom. I am also very thankful for those praying for me.

Lord, help me to see the treasure in this trial. -Joyce Meyer

In the previous post, I concluded that by God’s grace I am improving in health and yet await more concrete answers from my doctors’ appointments. In the waiting, those answers may come slowly. So how should we respond in the meantime?

Indeed, my need to have answers was consuming too much of my focus. During a text message exchange on the subject with a dear sister in Christ, I communicated to her my frustration of not having the full picture of whatever was going on with me. She responded with scripture and Godly counsel that reframed my thinking on the matter that would steer me in a more productive direction:

“I cannot say I understand what you’re going through and it seems quite terrifying by your description. However, I see you rallying to the trial and submitting to Christ and appealing to His mercy for help. I say, ‘Amen,’ and keep fighting my sister!!! Also, I look at how God uses healing to minister to our spirits, remove fleshly strength, increase our faith and to “see” the fragility of man against God’s power, strength and provision. I think about how your dependence on Him has grown and I say ‘Amen!’ I think perhaps the focus might be provision over answers. They may come in time as you work through the medical system but focusing on that “need” keeps you distracted from what God is providing in terms of strength and resources TODAY. Follow Him so close that you are looking at the hem of His garment. Remember He fed the 5,000 and His prayer was to thank His Father for the few fish and loaves He had in hand. Thank God for what is in your hand to open the supernatural abundance that only God can give. I say this to slow down your thoughts and encourage you not to lose the precious holy ground you’ve gained through faith and trust in Him. As it says in James 1:2…“let steadfastness have its full effect”–in other words, don’t cut short your trial because the full effect is that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Lacking in nothing my sister!!! Our God is a burden bearer, our great physician and healer. His work is mighty and our requests are but a shadow of what He wants to accomplish! Be strong and courageous and keep on today with what generous provision He has blessed you with TODAY! Our God is so faithful!”

My dear sister’s words resonated with me and I’ve referred back to them often to remind myself to be grateful and thankful for what God is doing TODAY. To thank Him for the improvements today that were not experienced yesterday. I am grateful!

The Next Health Scare

It was a couple weeks later that I began a doctor-recommended fruit and vegetable juice fast. This would help give rest to my digestive system and still gain nutrients while clearing out any toxins, food allergies, etc., that were aggravating my system. To give my body a reset. For the first couple days, I struggled on the fast for I was already in a weakened state from not being able to consume much without experiencing inflammation. I stayed with dear friends who lovingly cared for me and monitored my progress while on the fast. The fast was good for me as I began to see improvements, namely my energy returning, my digestive system seemed to be settled and my nasal allergies were dissipating.

However, as I continue to learn the sensitivities of my system, my dear friend had to drive me to the ER at 2 a.m., because of inflammation from one of the juices. My heart palpitations were faster and pounding harder than I had ever experienced and it greatly concerned me. The palpitations were likely exacerbated by my anxiousness (though I was trying to remain calm as I laid in her back seat) and also by the inflammation my body was fighting. I also had some vomiting. The ER attendants, seeing my condition, took my vitals and quickly wheeled me back to a trauma room to immediately slow down my heart rate. I didn’t even look at the monitor to the left and above my head, knowing that seeing the numbers would have made me even more nervous.

I am thankful for my dear friend for staying with me as the doctors and nurses got my system settled. Thank you God. When I tell you that I know He is with me, I can tell you for sure having gone through this process. He is indeed with me. I am thankful for my dear friend and her family as they continue to pray for my recovery. I was released from the ER later that morning and went home. I’ve since been prescribed medication to begin addressing my GI issues which has helped. Inflammation is little to no more and I’ve not had palpitations. Even with upcoming doctors’ appointments, I know though more than anything, it is my prayer time, meditating and believing on God’s Word, God’s faithfulness and healing, and the prayers of many that are restoring me to health. We are more than conquerors, my brothers and sisters! The enemy is defeated!

In encouraging words shared by another dear sister in Christ, she reminded me that “whatever God allows us to go through, we’re going to come out on the other side. The one question is, “Do you trust God?” So true. God will see us through it and if we trust Him, we will indeed come out victorious on the other side–like pure gold. There are indeed treasures wrapped in trials.

 

Treasure

What I’ve Learned in This Process to Hopefully Encourage You

  1. Humble yourself, cry out to the Lord. Acknowledge that you need His help and cannot do this by yourself. Surrender all notions of pride or self-sufficiency. At my most vulnerable times, I cried out like David, asking the Lord’s help. He has surely helped and rescued me (The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; – Psalm 34:15). Though I’ve known the Lord many years, I’ve known Him better in the fiery furnace.
  2. Don’t quit, never give up. Keep pressing. There are spiritual blessings, treasures wrapped in trials. James 1:2 assures us of this: “Let steadfastness have its full effect.” When the answers seem slow in coming or hard to understand, trust God.
  3. DEMOLISH arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and take EVERY thought captive to make it obedient to Christ, as told to us in 2 Corinthians 10:5. IMMEDIATELY, I reject any thought or attack of the enemy by responding with God’s Word, God’s promises of what God says about who He is, who I am and my future. This also means our thought life must be renewed and transformed out of the natural (Romans 12:2). 
  4. It’s not enough to read and hear God’s Word. We must also believe God’s Word and be doers/act in accordance to God’s Word as referenced in James 1:22.  I also meditate on God’s Word day and night (Joshua 1:8) and throughout the day. I believe God’s Word. I believe what I’ve read and written about. Now, it’s about holding fast to it and acting on it in every environment and situation. 
  5. Though I had God’s peace before, I am learning more what it means to abide, dwell in, rest in, be still in God’s peace. He has given us His peace (John 14:27) which is part of our inheritance. It’s already in us. We simply need to abide in it.
  6. Do not worry, do not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6), do not fret (Psalm 37:1). This is especially important if you battle anxiety which really is an unproductive anticipatory response (“what if”) about your future when we already know that God is the Chief and Designer of our future. He is already IN our future and He is the One keeping you and me in all moments even when we don’t have all of the answers. I am learning to live in the “right now.”
  7. Celebrate and GIVE THANKS for what God is doing in you, for you and through you TODAY–no matter what you see, how you feel or what you hear that would seek to contradict that God is at work and bringing all things together for your good.
  8.  God loves you and me SO MUCH and in so many ways. Nothing will ever, ever, ever separate us from His love (Romans 8:37-39).
  9. I’ve learned to forgive myself. I am certain that my health issues were created by or exacerbated by my fears and anxiety. As much as I’ve been a good steward of my health over the years by eating right, exercise, etc., I was upset that I allowed something like anxiety to cause me such problems. Anxiety and worry is a sin (and I repented to God about it) as it infers that I do not trust God and who He says He is and what He will do. Yet, God knew this point in my spiritual development would come. I am still being developed, being matured and being perfected in Christ Jesus. No challenge, no change. This is a lifelong journey for each of us who are in Christ Jesus and if we remain steadfast, we will one day be made complete, made perfect, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4). We will also be more of a blessing to equip and encourage others.
  10. Put aside all pride and reach out to others/allow others to help you. God truly blesses us through people as we were not designed to journey this life alone.
  11. Do not find it strange that you have come under attack by the enemy. As long as we’re Believers, we have a target on our back. Though the enemy roars like a lion, looking for someone to devour, be humble, stand firm in your faith and do not fear. Our enemy is on a short leash and will only be allowed to go so far. After you have suffered a little while, (God) will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10). I encourage you to read 1 Peter 5:5-11 which is the foundation scripture in this powerful sermon, “When Anxiety Attacks” delivered by Pastor Steven Furtick. I invite you to watch it.
  12. Lastly: We are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,). We are operating from and seated in a position of victory. We are not of this world. This world is not our home. We are traversing through this perishing, decaying, corrupt world as Ambassadors of Christ, each day walking more and more in the eternal land of the living and hopefully pointing the lost and deceived toward abundant life found only in Christ Jesus.

 

Heavenly Father, thank you, thank you for Your awesome, unconditional and unfailing love You have for us. Your love is beyond compare and I’m still in awe of You. I thank you for how you have cared and watched over us; how Your Presence is with us even in times when we may not feel You as strongly as in other situations. You are indeed with us. You will never leave us nor forsake us as you promised. Father, please forgive us for times we have allowed worry, fears, anxiety or Satan’s lies to overshadow and undermine Your powerful Word, Your promises. We demolish and take captive anything that is contrary to Your Word and what you have promised us. Thank you for patiently striving with us as You lovingly stand with us in the fiery furnace so we will be perfected, lacking nothing. May we stand in Your Truth and abide in your peace in the fiery furnace and at all times, not only being hearers of your Word, but also believers and doers. Shore up our faith that we may remain steadfast. Help us to persevere and encourage others to persevere so the spiritual treasures in our trials may be seen.

Father, be with those who are waiting on You and trusting You for their healing. May they be reminded of Your faithfulness in their lives and cling to that. Give them wisdom in how to proceed and also wisdom to their health care providers in how to treat them. As we wait and believe for the full manifestation of what we seek, may we thank you for what you are doing today, this very minute.

In Your Son Jesus’ Matchless and Mighty Name we ask this.

Amen

God loves you. I love you. Remain steadfast. He’s got you in the protective grip of His Hand.

-Nicole