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Posts tagged with ‘joyce meyer’

  • Ruthless

    If you grew up eating animal crackers and drinking fruit juice at Sunday School, there’s a good chance you’ll recognize this classic song:

    “Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham.  I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s all praise the Lord. Right arm, left arm, right foot, left foot, nod your head, turn around, sit down!” 

    By that last verse, you’ve pretty much done a 15-minute HIIT workout, but what’s this song even about?

    Galatians 3:6-7 says, “You remember Abraham. Scripture tells us, ‘Abraham believed God and trusted in His promises, so God counted it to his favor as righteousness.’ Know this: people who trust in God are the true sons and daughters of Abraham.

    So, Father Abraham is not just a silly song that gets preschoolers to expound vast amounts of energy; it’s scriptural. We are sons and daughters of Abraham, but notice, it’s not our DNA that proves we are true sons and daughters of Abraham, it’s our belief. It’s us trusting that we are made right with God by grace through faith, fully buying into the fact that we can’t work our way to righteousness. Abraham was the first to walk this out, so naturally, he’s referred to as the father of our faith.

    The grace message was a hard pill for the law-loving legalists of Jesus’s day to swallow. They wanted to be made right by keeping the law, and they desired to relate as sons of Abraham based on their genetics–their bloodline. So, they went around proudly singing, Father Abraham had many sons, and I am one of them, but it seems as if they forgot that Abraham had two sons. 

    Ishmael and Isaac.

    And that leads me to a question that the Holy Spirit has asked me several times over the past 21 days: Who is your momma?

    God promised that Abraham and Sarah, who were childless and beyond their child-bearing years, would give birth to a son. But instead of patiently waiting to see the promise fulfilled, they took matters into their own hands. They decided to do things their way instead of God’s way. They stepped out of God’s will, and Sarah had Abraham sleep with her servant Hagar. Sarah’s faith was in Hagar’s ability to conceive and bear children, instead of in the promise God gave her. Of course, Hagar became pregnant and Ishmael, Abraham’s firstborn son, took his first breath nine months later.

    From the moment Hagar saw the two pink lines on her First Response test, trouble ensued. I can’t imagine the drama in that household. Hagar thought she was better than Sarah. Sarah was abusive toward Hagar. And Abraham was caught in the middle of it all.

    Thirteen years later God tells Abraham that Sarah is going to have a baby, and THIS baby, not Ishmael, will be the son of promise. The son born of Sarah would be the one through which God established His covenant, and a year later Sarah gave birth to Isaac.

    Father Abraham now had two sons who were 14 years apart. And just as there was conflict between Hagar and Sarah, there was conflict between Ishmael and Isaac. In Genesis 21 Abraham threw a big party to celebrate Isaac being weaned, and during the festivities, Ishmael began to mock his baby brother. Sarah catches wind of this and here’s what happens next:

    Genesis 21:10-12 So she [Sarah] turned to Abraham and demanded, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!” This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son. But God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.

    As a mother, my heart hurt for Ishmael when I read this. It seemed so ruthless of Sarah and Abraham, and it didn’t seem to line up with the character of God. How could they just send this single mother and her teenage son out into the wilderness? I mean I get it, mama bear comes out when someone messes with your baby, but this punishment seemed too harsh.

    I wasn’t able to move past it even though I knew if I studied it out I would fall behind on my Bible reading plan. My heart wasn’t satisfied with the mama bear excuse, so I started to dig, and God began to unpack truths that I know I’ll never forget. I hope you’ll stick with me a little while longer so He can do the same for you.

    Galatians 4 is where I found all the answers my heart was hungry for. In verses 21-31 Paul contrasts Abraham’s two sons.

    Ishmael was born of a slave in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. Isaac was born of a free woman and was God’s own fulfillment of His promise. Isaac was conceived by grace through faith. Ishmael was conceived according to the flesh.

    Ishmael represents legalism and our human attempts to attain righteousness. Isaac represents the gospel, the good news that Jesus made a way for you and me to experience the miracle of salvation.

    When I began to see that Ishmael embodied our flesh, our unbelief, and us putting our will before God’s will, sending him packing didn’t seem so harsh anymore. My heart no longer went out to him.

    You see, spirit and flesh, unbelief and faith, human effort and the miraculous, law and grace, they just don’t mesh. They can’t abide together peacefully and in the same ruthless way that Ishmael was sent away, we must send away our flesh, our unbelief, and our endeavor to complete our Christian duty checklists to get on God’s good side.

    Friends, we are sons and daughters of promise and we’ve got to stop feeling for our flesh!

    Galatians 4:31 So then, believers, we [who are born again—reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] are not children of a slave woman [the natural], but of the free woman [the supernatural].

    We are free! We have been given supernatural power over sin. We have authority over our mind, will, and emotions. We are the sons and daughters to which God has left a rich inheritance, and it’s time we start living in it! It’s time to be ruthless with our old man, our sinful nature, in the same way Sarah was ruthless with Ishmael.

    This is the time of year when most Christians are wrapping up a fast of some sort. Maybe you’ve been fasting social media, coffee, bread, complaining, sugar, frivolous spending, or secular music. You’ve denied your flesh. And perhaps you’re like me, and you’d admit that a few times during your fast you felt sorry for yourself in the same way that I felt sorry for Ishmael at first glance. Maybe in those moments of sympathizing with your flesh you even gave in and snuck a Starbucks on a super stressful day, only then to feel guilty for the next 24 hours. We’ve all been there. Or maybe you’ve been perfect on your fast, but you can’t wait for it to be over so you can get back to giving your flesh whatever it wants whenever it wants it. That’s not the kind of freedom God’s called us to walk in.

    We’re the sons and daughters born into freedom not so we can cave to our sinful desires, but so that we use our authority to send those sinful desires heartlessly into the wilderness, far away from the path on which God has set our feet. Sin has no hold on us.

    During my fast this year the Holy Spirit revealed so much to me about my heritage. He helped me to see that when I’m tempted to feel compassion for my flesh, unbelief, and the pull to connect to God through works instead of through grace, that somewhere in my spiritual makeup is the power to say NO.

    I am not called to make sure my flesh and my spirit live peaceably with one another. I’m not called to a life of comfort, temporary gratification or short-lived escapes from the world around me. I’m called to live a life of ruthlessly denying my flesh, so my spirit reigns the roost.

    I want to experience more of the supernatural and less of reruns on Netflix. I want to experience more of the presence of God and less of the same-sounding top 40 songs. I want to experience more of the lasting comfort of God and less of the fleeting comfort of chocolate, caffeine, and long baths. I want to experience more joy and gratitude and less mood swings and complaining.

    Whenever we send our flesh and unbelief away into the wilderness, our spiritual senses become more elevated. We can taste and see and hear and feel God all around, not because we’re working some formula, but because it’s part of our inheritance as sons and daughters of promise.

    As you head into a new month and close out your time of fasting, continue to remind yourself that Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham, and you are one of them. You’re the one who represents the gospel and the freedom that Christ set you free to walk in.

    Don’t catch feels for your flesh, be like your spiritual momma, and stand up for your spirit!

  • Spirit + Life + Linguistics

    Ah, Christmas break: the one time of year I refuse to set my alarm and allow myself to sleep until my body feels it’s had enough.  I’ve been sleeping till 8 am the last few days which may not seem late to you, but when 5:30 am is your usual wake up call, 8 am feels like noon!  It’s been a restful and relaxing two weeks, although the achiever in me is officially ready to get back to accomplishing more than binging Netflix’s Manhunt: Unabomber series.

    What a fascinating show, though.  I had heard of the Unabomber.  I remember seeing his sketch as a child, and since my mom worked for the U.S. Postal Service, we paid attention when his devastating crimes were on the news.  I knew he mailed bombs and successfully remained anonymous for 17 long years, but I had never heard the story of how the FBI caught the twisted recluse.

    Linguistics.

    The study of human speech including the units, nature, structure, and modification of language.

    FBI profiler, James Fitzgerald relentlessly studied the Unabomber’s 35,000-word manifesto–the structure and nature of his words.  He studied how he phrased things, how he spelled things. And based on his language alone, the profiler was able to predict how old the bomber was, where he grew up, that he lived cut off from the rest of the world, and when he received his Ph.D.  All of that and more, just based on studying his type-written words.

    Fitzgerald believed that if the manifesto were published, someone, somewhere would recognize the language and turn the Unabomber in, and he was right.

    A woman read the manifesto and immediately recognized the language from letters her husband had received from his brother.  Could the Unabomber be her brother-in-law whom she had never met?  She turned him in as a suspect and handed over a box full of letters Ted Kaczynski had sent to her husband over many years.  After matching up words, phrases, and timelines, the FBI got their search warrant which led to Ted’s arrest and a lifetime behind bars.

    This was the first search warrant in history based on forensic linguistics.  Kaczynski was the first man in the history of the United States convicted on language clues.

    Language is very much a part of who we are.  The words we say and the way we say them represent our age, our ethnicity, where we grew up, and what we know.

    I used to confuse my husband when we were dating when I started talking about crayons because I pronounce them “crowns.”  He thought it was just a weird Sarah word, but the more he got to know my family, he realized we all say “crowns.”  And it doesn’t end there; it seems that everyone who grew up in East Tulsa says it the same way.  Josh was a South Tulsa kid, and it’s easy to tell when he says “Cray-ons” all fancy like.

    I’m sure you can think of specific words or phrases you say, that would be concrete enough evidence to prove you were a 90s kid, an avid C.S. Lewis reader, a west-coaster or an east-coaster.

    But what about a Christ-follower?  Is your speech, your writing, the way you string words together, concrete enough evidence to prove your devotion to God and His way of doing things?

    Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do or SAY, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

    Whatever we do or SAY.  God’s Word is clear: our words matter.

    If a linguistics expert were to study you, combing over the 20,000 words you say in a day, would they conclude that you were just like Jesus?  Do the words that come out of your mouth or off of your fingertips represent Jesus?

    Every word Jesus said was full of truth and grace.  His words were deliberate, thought through.  Full of hope.  He was never talking just to hear Himself talk, but to set captives free.

    Every. Moment. Red. Letter.

    Everyone could tell He wasn’t from around these parts.  He was always talking Kingdom.  His words were futuristic and confident, but not prideful.  He was honoring–so, so honoring of His father.  He spoke love, and he never complained, like ever.  He was full of wisdom and perfect advice.  He used his speech to encourage.

    I could go on and on about the beautiful language of Jesus, but I think this statement from Him sums it all up.

    The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

    If everything we say is meant to represent Jesus than everything we say should be spirit and life.  And because Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to flow in and through us like a mighty river, we have everything we need to represent Jesus and represent Him well!

    I’ve noticed when I speak spirit to spirit with my kids it goes over so much better than when I speak from my flesh to theirs.  My flesh accomplishes nothing.  I can yell and be annoyed and tell them to stop being mean to each other, or I can ask the Holy Spirit to speak through me as I sit them down and purpose to represent Jesus and get to the root of the issue at hand–whether it’s jealousy or someone just being tired and hungry.

    When I speak life over my husband, he receives it.  He soaks it up.  It charges him to step right on into whatever God is calling him to do.  But when I speak death the opposite happens.

    Spirit and Life or Flesh and Death?  You get to choose.  You get to decide how you’ll string words together this year.  You get to decide if you’ll let your flesh lead the way in your day-to-day conversations or if you’ll allow the Spirit to work through you.  You get to decide if you speak death over yourself by agreeing with the lies of the enemy or if you speak life by agreeing with the promises of God.  The choice seems obvious to me, but just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s easy.  It’s not easy.

    It’s humanly impossible to represent Jesus with whatever we say or type this year, unless, we decide to let Him do the heavy lifting.

    Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

    If you’ll accept this holy burden to speak spirit and life and allow Jesus to be your teacher, you can genuinely represent Him to every person you come in contact with this coming new year. And that’s good news because what the world needs is more of Him and less of us.

    Remember, language is very much a part of who we are.  The words we say and the way we say them represent our age, our ethnicity, where we grew up, and what we know.

    May our language represent Jesus and everything good and perfect that He stands for.  Spirit and Life, friends, Spirit and Life!

  • The Root Of Worry

    We all know that we shouldn’t worry. Worry causes us to lose sleep and age faster.  It can interfere with our appetite and relationships. Worry leads to anxiety and can cause us to be physically sick.

    Webster’s defines worry like this: to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat; to touch or disturb something repeatedly; to change the position of or adjust by repeated pushing or hauling; to afflict with mental distress or agitation.

    Usually we associate the word worry with the latter, mental distress or agitation, but I think the other vivid definitions paint a pretty clear picture of what happens to us when we get stuck in cycles of worry. Our thoughts harass us by tearing at our peace, snapping at the truth of God’s Word, like a terrier snaps and tears at a rat. Instead of casting our cares on the Lord and leaving them there, worry causes us to disturb or touch those cares over and over again.  Worry changes our position by repeated pushing. We can be singing “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” one moment and then pushed into sinking sand by worry the next.

    Worry is not cute. Worry is not our friend. Worry is not to be embraced or excused.

    I love this red-letter wake-up call brought to us by Jesus in Matthew 6:25:

    Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life… 

    Put an end to your worrying!  Make it stop, Jesus says!  You’re wasting your time.  Ive got too much for you to do, too high of a call on your life, for you to let worry take up space in your heart and mind.  Stop it!  

    Okay, Lord. We got it. Stop worrying. But how? It’s not like we have a stop/start button which we can push to make worry magically disappear from our lives. So how do we obey this command to stop worrying, so we may start fully living?

    I believe the key is found in verse 26. After Jesus tells us to stop being perpetually uneasy, He goes on to say:

    Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 

    Aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?

    When is the last time you sat down and really thought about how valuable you are to Jesus? When is the last time you let wonder and awe fill your heart as you let the love of God wash over you? I love the worship song “Since Your Love” by United Pursuit. There’s a line which says, “Since your love got a hold of me, I’m a new creation.” God’s love wants to get a hold of us, but in order for that to happen, we have to slow down long enough for it to catch us.  

    I think women tend to struggle with worry more than men, because we are always moving from one thing to the next. We pour out, we give out, then we wake up and do it all over again. Even in our quiet times, we pour out our love on Jesus, but we pack up and move on before He can pour His love out on us.

    When we find ourselves dealing with worry, the issue at hand isn’t really worry, the issue is an underestimation of how greatly God values us. 

    Too often, we let unreliable sources determine our value. We measure our worth based on how many likes we get on Instagram, how quickly a friend responds to a text, whether or not our husband tells us we look pretty, whether or not we get the promotion at work, if we accomplish our to-do lists, or if we’ve been good Christian girls who’ve read their Bibles, prayed, and paid their tithes. We try and let our friends, spouses, employers, kids, or our Christian activities determine our worth, but there’s a much more reliable way to discover your value.  

    The value of an item, like a painting for instance, is revealed by the price someone is willing to pay for it. The value of that painting goes up if someone important like the queen owned it.

    So you could say that the two questions which must be answered to determine our value are 1) What was paid for me? and 2) Who owns me?

    Jesus paid for you with His own life. You were bought and paid for by Christ, you belong to Him.

    The cross states your value and the cross has the final word. Jesus loves you and values you!

    We know it, most of us have been singing it since we were tiny: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” But why don’t we always buy in?

    When we first moved to Oklahoma City I went to get my hair trimmed. I made the mistake of going to a training center for hair stylists because I figured anyone could handle a trim, and I was right, they trimmed my hair just fine. But it took four hours for the stylist-in-training to wash, dry, and trim my hair.  Four. Hours. Not even kidding. When I first sat down in the chair the owner of the school came over and started running his fingers through my hair and telling me how beautiful and healthy and strong it was. I was feeling pretty good about my hair at that point. But as time went on, hour after hour of sitting through the world’s slowest hair trim ever, I observed the owner tell four or five other ladies the exact same things about their hair. He told every client who came in what nice hair they had. He was just schmoozing customers. He didn’t really mean it and his words lost their value.

    Sometimes, because we’ve not only heard that Jesus loves us a million times, but have also heard that He loves everyone else a million times, those words lose their value, and when that happens, we lose our value and worry becomes a comfort zone.  

    After Jesus shares about the birds and the lilies he asks a sobering question: why do you have so little faith?

    In other words, why do you doubt how valuable you are to me? Why do you insult me by worrying?

    The Holy Spirit is asking the same question to us today. Why do you have so little faith? Why don’t you believe God really, truly, passionately loves you and values you more than a little bird or a wildflower? What’s happened to cause you to doubt how valuable you are to Him? What makes His love for you seem more like an illusion than reality?

    To stop worry we must give our entire attention, devotion, and affection to God and allow Him to give us His attention, devotion, and affection in return. We must stop worrying about how to stop worrying and start convincing ourselves that the Word of God is true.  

    Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

    Click here to download a free small group discussion guide to go with this article.

  • Auto Correct

    I’ll just come right out and say it. I’m not a fan of talking on the phone. I used to like it. I liked it so much that when I lived at my parent’s house they got me my own phone line so I wasn’t always tying up theirs or making it impossible for the dial-up modem to connect to the Internet.  But that was before I owned a cell phone. More importantly that was before I owned an iPhone.

    My dislike for talking on the phone came when I got one of those bad boys.  It was just so much simpler to text than it was to talk; especially with a 2-year-old running around. Now, I have three children at home and I rarely answer my phone. I’ll answer a text pretty quickly, but if you call me, you’ll have to wait until the baby goes down for a nap and the big kids are being entertained by a monkey and the man with the yellow hat before I call you back. 

    Since I communicate so much via text messaging I’ve come to appreciate Auto Correct.  This is a handy software feature that automatically replaces a word or suggests an alternate word, if the word you type does not appear in the built-in dictionary on your phone. 

    For instance, if I had too much soy sauce with my sushi, and my extra-puffy fingers accidentally text, “I kovr sushi,” Auto Correct knows that kovr is not a word and what I meant was, “I Iove sushi,” and automatically changes kovr to love—so smart!

    Your phone will also train itself to recognize certain words that are not in its dictionary, if you text them often enough. When I first had my daughter, Beau, her name was not in my dictionary, and Auto Correct was always trying to change it to something else. But after I declined the word replacement suggestion enough times it learned that Beau was what I was actually wanting to text. It even learned to automatically capitalize it. 

    I was texting my husband the other day and watching all the words I mistyped transform into the words I meant to type and I thought to myself, we need Auto Correct on more than just our phones, we need it in our minds. 

    Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you started to have a wrong thought, your mind would auto correct and replace that thought with a right one?  Imagine what kind of effect that could have on your life. If you are thinking right, you are talking right, making right decisions, producing the right kind of fruit, attracting the right kind of relationships. All would be right in your world if you could only program your mind with an Auto Correct feature.

    I’ve got good news. You can. You don’t have to hire a computer programmer or a brain surgeon. You don’t have to pay a fortune. You don’t have to take special vitamins or eat a certain diet or be a part of Mensa. All you need is a Bible. 

    II Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

    The Word of God, when mediated upon, has the power to auto correct your thoughts.  When you study and memorize scripture you are downloading information into your mind and spirit that will override and correct any wrong information you’ve been programmed with, so you can be equipped to do all that God put you on this planet to do.

    You may have programmed yourself to think that stress is a normal part of life and something that you just have to deal with. You may even start certain days proclaiming, “This is going to be a stressful day!” But if you study the Word you’ll see that that way of thinking is wrong. The Bible says not to worry about anything. The Bible says Jesus came to make our burdens light. The Bible says Jesus is the Prince Of Peace. If you make those truths a part of your life, they will auto correct your thoughts when you begin to feel stressed or overwhelmed. They will change your proclamation from, “This is going to be a stressful day,” into “This is the day the Lord has made. He’s going to carry my burdens! He’s going to command peace over my day.  He’s going to lead me beside still waters.  He’s going to calm my storms.” 

    You may have programmed yourself to think that your dream is too big. You find yourself doubting the call God has placed on your life or trying to figure out how you can make it happen in your own strength. But if you study God’s Word, and the lives of men like Noah and David, you’ll reprogram yourself to correct those thoughts with things like, “My God is faithful!  He who started a good work will finish it.  He makes all things work together for my good.  His ways are better than my ways!”

    We all live in the same fallen world and we have all been programmed with thoughts that do not line up with the Word of God, but we can train our minds to replace those thoughts—to correct those thoughts—by filling our inner dictionary with promises and principles from God’s Word. 

    It may not happen overnight.  Just like it took several times of me declining whatever word my phone suggested, when I typed Beau’s name.  It may take you several times of declining whatever wrong thoughts pop into your mind first, but eventually if you keep putting the Word of God in your spirit, it will stick.  God’s Word will be the first suggestion that pops up in every area of your life.  Truth will override everything else and all will be right with you.

    Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (II Tim 3:17, MSG)

  • I Have A Confession

    In 1989, five boys, ages 14 to 16, were arrested for causing trouble in New York’s Central Park.  While they were being held for questioning, a 28-year-old woman was found in the same park, critically beaten and sexually assaulted.  The detectives asked the young boys if they had anything to do with it, they all said no.  After hours of interrogation, the boys were professionally coerced into admitting they were the ones responsible for the awful crime against the innocent jogger, even though they were not.  The detectives had them convinced that if they would just make up a statement, they could go home.  And they wanted to go home, so they confessed.

    When the cases of the five boys went to trial, there was no incriminating evidence against any of them.  In fact, all the evidence pointed to the fact that they did not commit this crime.  No DNA from any of the boys was found on the victim and they were in another part of the park, causing trouble with a bunch of other kids, when the crime would have happened. But a district attorney had their confessions on tape and because of those confessions (which did not agree with one another) they would each spend the next seven to ten years in prison!

    What can we learn from this crazy but true story?  Do not confess things that are not true!

    We make confessions every day.  We confess we are tired.  We confess we are stressed.  We confess we don’t feel good.  We confess we are overweight.  We confess we don’t like our jobs.  We confess we aren’t good enough.  We confess the wrong kind of confessions all of the time, and most of the time, we do it without even realizing it.

    Hebrews 10:23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

    The word confession in this verse is from the Greek word homologia and it’s not referring to someone who just reads confessions or makes mindless parrot-like confessions, it’s referring to someone who has meditated on God’s Word and has it so down in their heart that it fills them with hope and when they open their mouth they can’t help but confess what God says about them.  They can’t help it, because they believe it.

    When you hear people talk, or see their Facebook posts, about how they are dreading Monday or about how it’s going to be a realllly long week, you can be sure they haven’t taken the time to get in sync with God concerning those things.  We know this because we know He isn’t dreading Monday and we know He’s not complaining about the long week.  He says, “This is the day I have made, rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

    We have to pay attention to our confessions, because they matter.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue.  When you say things about yourself, your husband, your children, your day, your week or your year, that don’t agree with what God says about them, you are confessing things that are not true!  When those boys opened their mouths and confessed to a crime they did not commit, they changed the path of their lives forever.

    Don’t let your circumstances coerce you into confessing a lie!  Get in the Word and let it sink down into your spirit, so when you open your mouth or update your status, you confess truth, hope, and faith in a faithful God!