What Are You Chasing? …And Why?

When I was growing up, the biggest pursuit for me boiled down to love and acceptance wherever I could find it. Friends and boys were the top priority in my quest for acceptance.

Instead of realizing and being satisfied that I already had my family’s love and better yet, God’s love, I believed Satan’s lie that this wasn’t enough. “Your family and God are required to love you. Your real value must come from others.”

BIG. FAT. LIE.

But I believed it. My actions proved that I did.

I am convinced that many women (young and old) are still trapped by similar lies today.

You are not enough. You need to be more. Do more. You are not desirable. You are not valuable.

Why do I think this? Because I’m a woman! I can still struggle with believing these lies. If I examine my motives, they sometimes reveal that I am trying to obtain my approval from people. Essentially I am living from the lie that says, “What I already have in Christ is not enough.”

When does this happen? It happens when my eyes are off of Jesus Christ and His glory. It happens when I compare. It happens when I stop pursuing God and chase after the meaningless things of this world.

Be honest – what or who do you pursue? And why?

We pursue what we believe we need.

When we don’t throw out these demonic, worldly, filthy lies from our thinking and living, they begin to CHOKE the Truth (the Word of God) that needs to grow big and strong in our hearts.

This is what happens to me, to us, to our families, and to the Church! Everything God wants to teach and reveal to us falls on deaf ears and dim eyes. These lies CHOKE OUT the germinating seeds of Truth. Fruitlessness is the result.

When we chase after people’s approval we have a LOVE DISABILITY. We don’t truly see the LOVE we HAVE in Christ.

Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us in this state of bondage! Our loving Father draws us in, convicts our hearts and opens our eyes to His Truth.

His Truth says, “My love is far beyond anything you could ever imagine. It is real, pure, limitless, unchanging, deeply and fully cup-runneth-over satisfying to your longing soul.”

We must awaken to HIS REVOLUTIONARY LOVE!

NO MORE believing the lies. NO MORE counterfeit, worldly, self-driven living that only leads to barrenness.

Prayer: Forgive us, wonderful Father! We throw all these lies in the TRASH and pursue you with ALL our hearts. Overwhelm us with Your indescribable love. You alone fully and forever satisfy our being!

 

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TAKE A SEAT

My word for 2015 is “listen.”

“Walk closely with Me”… “Be a servant”… “Bring glory to Me in all you think, say, and do.”

These are the words my loving Father is whispering to me.

Now, I readily receive these messages, and with all my heart I want to follow Him, BUT they are not easy for me to put into continual practice!

The only way I could ever live characterized as a God-glorifying servant of Christ Jesus is to truly learn and live out His whisper, “Walk closely with Me.”

Recently, as my children and I shared our Bible reading insights one morning, this simple statement overtook my heart:

“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord…”

2 Samuel 7:18

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Do you sit still very well? When I say “still” I mean excluding driving, eating, reading, talking, and electronic devices? Like where you just sit with nothing visible or tangible to do? It’s odd to think about, isn’t it?

This is exactly what David did! He sought out the invisible, intangible Living God!

David went and sat before the Lord just after receiving some absolutely amazing news from the prophet Nathan – that God would bless David’s throne forever.

You see, David knew God intimately. He would have never gone and sat before Him and said the things he said if he hadn’t.

As David sat, he began praising God for His goodness and greatness. Surely, he was overwhelmed by the personal love and grace of His God! His deepest longing in those moments weren’t to reflect on his newfound importance and powerful position, but to glorify God as the Great One and the only true God.

When is the last time you simply sat before God – waiting on His whisper and resting in His love?

I want to follow David’s example, don’t you?

I want to sit still before God. I want to regularly take a pause from the strong current in my day and sit. Sit before my Father – to worship Him and listen to Him.

Let’s learn to walk with Him in such a way that our daily lives have become a natural overflow of a God-glorifying servant of Christ.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

Stand in Readiness

With the Gospel firmly in place as our sure foundation, we are made ready. We have the security of knowing we can face any attack unmoved because, as Romans 8:31 NIV tells us,… If God is for us who can be against us?Armed with such knowledge, God calls us out of our comfort zones and we often find ourselves in places of darkness and pain.

Are you already serving on the battlefield of this hurting and dying world, or are you playing it too safe? We should never stand with the peace of our own salvation, yet be unprepared, or worse, unwilling to go — to march — to be ready to do whatever is good Titus 3:1. Maybe you’re still sitting on the bench or maybe you haven’t even gotten dressed to go out to the field.

Christ lives in you by the Holy Spirit, He wants your full, and active service as His Kingdom-sent agent. You might say, “Well, I’m just a ______” or, “I don’t know enough.” But if you are still breathing and encountering humans, you have a God-sent mission! He calls us to boldly share the Gospel of His salvation, to actively love, pray, give, show mercy, forgive, serve with our gifts, and more!

As Christ’s representative, you should never just go to Wal-Mart, work at a job, visit with a friend, hang with your family, or attend church. Go ready to minister! Go prayerful and alert. Prepare yourself! Always stand ready to be God’s hands and feet. Live out the command from 2 Timothy 4:2 that calls us to … be prepared in season and out of season …

Stop now and seek God for His direction or re-direction. Then, don’t wait another moment to faithfully go.

Scriptures:

For further study: Read Matthew 28:16-20. Write out the three components of our great commission to “go.” Now think about the ways you can “go” as Christ’s witness in your daily life. Be sure to plan your next step if you’ve received direction from the Holy Spirit.

Stand in Righteousness

Stand firm … with the breastplate of righteousness in place. Ephesians 6:14 NIV

If you are a Christian, then YOU ARE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD!

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

I want you to read today’s entire lesson on righteousness as if it were typed in bold, capital letters with large helpings of exclamation marks. When I think about God’s righteousness and what He’s given us, my spirit explodes with excitement!

Listen up, Family of God. We won’t stand strong in Christ for a moment if we think it’s up to our efforts to live righteously! … apart from me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5). It is only when we remain in, and rely on, Him that we bear good fruit.

And when the enemy tries to accuse us of sin, we can stand firm in the righteousness of Christ that covers us.

You see, as hard as you and I may try, we can’t get by, even as Christians, on our own efforts to be good. Without Christ’s enabling, our best day of good deeds amounts to a heap of foul trash… all our righteous acts are like filthy rags …(Isaiah 64:6).

So why do we often live as if we can achieve merit points from God by what we do or don’t do? I’m sure you’ve never compared yourself to another Christian, but sometimes I’ve had the subtle notion that I’m less than or better than someone based on a particular behavior. What a bunch of malarkey and bologna. It’s unbiblical nonsense! Pride reeks from the pit of this idea, and it needs to be ripped out!

We never, ever, ever, ever, stand strong in Christ by our own supposed “righteousness!” 2 Timothy 2:22 tells us to Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness … So let’s get this straight. We are the righteousness of God through Christ, but we should run from evil and chase after righteousness. Huh? Why would we chase after what we already are? Well, the word righteousness here refers to our pursuit to yield ourselves to God’s right paths for holy living as He desires to conform us to the likeness of Christ. We are to pursue His way, not our way!

Stand firm then. You are covered. Set free by the knowledge of your righteous standing before God that empowers you to be His — His child, His heir, His powerful tool for His glory.

Scriptures:

For further study: Read Galatians 3:1-6 and try to wrap your mind around the awesome treasure of righteousness! Does it come by your good works or by faith? List the ways that you have tried or are trying to gain your righteousness. Now write down the only way you truly achieve righteousness. Walk in that, and experience Christ’s freedom and peace.

Stand in Truth

Wearing the belt of truth is all about knowing, believing, and holding on to the foundational truths of God’s Word — in that order. It’s not enough to have knowledge of the truth. We must believe it and cling to it! God’s Word is truth and our very hope that anchors the soul.

Too many Christians are applying their belt of truth half-heartedly or with uncertainty because they are lacking knowledge or feeding on false “truths.” Some have unknowingly tried to add a variety of popular secular beliefs (new “truth” belts) to their armor. But these false truths just don’t hold up! They are dangerous lies from the pit of Hell created to ensnare us.

John 14:6 teaches us that Jesus Christ is the way, truth, and life! Regardless of what someone may say, there is only one way to eternal life with our one God, the Maker of heaven and earth. When we believe this and hold on to Him as our Rescuer and Lord (leader), we begin to discover the truth of what we have in Him. We are no longer powerless and defeated! In Christ, we are truly free, loved, co-heirs, and more than overcomers! Christ in us is GREATER than our evil enemies!

Colossians 1:17 proclaims that in Christ, all things hold together. All things! Like the function of a belt, the truth of Christ and His Word is what fully sustains us.

Our job is to stand yielded to His battle plan: Submit to God. Resist the devil. Tightly fasten on the truth, until it’s the very core of who you are, and take your stand against the strategies of the evil one.

Scriptures:

For further study: Read Hebrews 12:1-3. Take an honest inventory. What distracts you from the truth? Be specific. Write it down. Now, jot down what helps you remain surrendered to the truth. Cast off the distractions and determine to keep your eyes on Jesus.

Stand in God’s Strength

Ephesians 6:10 urges us to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

We should rehearse this verse every day, every hour! We need to be reminded that our supposed “strengths” are micro and amount to absolutely nothing without God’s favor and goodness.

Remember, God is our leader. We’re the yielded follower. But this relational dynamic is dependent on our continual trust and acknowledgment that God’s ways are highest and best!

Newsflash! God doesn’t need us to be strong in ourselves, our abilities, or our know-how! Proverbs 3:5,6 exhorts us, Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and (guess what happens next?) He will make your paths straight. Straight! I can’t even get my head on straight! But what we could never do is made possible by yielding to Christ’s ways and power!

Alone, we are in a desperately needy state. With Christ’s help, we can do ALL things. We can live content no matter the difficulties. We can live unshaken by surrounding temptations. We can live confidently when the known facts may terrify. We CAN in CHRIST!

Proverbs 3:7 takes this message even further;Do not be wise in your own eyes. GULP! Does this hit home for you like it does me? Maybe it’s because I’m female, but too often I’m simply positive that I know what’s best for me, my spouse, my kids, and the list goes on. What about you? Do you give up waiting on God when His plans don’t fit your time parameters? Sadly, when we stop trusting and take the lead, it can forfeit the gift of seeing God’s faithful and best plan play out.

What audacious pride to think that we possess any sort of wisdom outside of God shining His light on our limited understanding!

So let’s get this right. Basically, there are two essential ways we stand in God’s power.

1. We acknowledge our weaknesses.

Let’s admit our limitations. Without Christ, we are weak — and not just a little weak — we’re totally helpless and hopeless. But believer, we are not without Christ!

2. We rely on His strength!

We are able to stand strong when we look to Jesus and depend on His powerful life within us!

Scriptures:

For further study: Reread your Scriptures and list or paraphrase the main lessons that Paul learned. Write a prayer of reliance to your Heavenly Father.

Stand in Prayer

I love verse 18 of Ephesians 6! We are told to pray (in the Holy Spirit) all the time with all kinds of prayers. We are to continually pray for all the Church.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Now, I hope you are letting this word, all, really sink in. There’s a lot of all in all! This takes commitment! I don’t know about you, but I want to pray with more consistency. I want to grow in faith and in the content of what I pray for.

I believe the reasons many of us don’t pray more are because we don’t really believe our prayers will make a difference, or we’re too distracted, or we think that continual prayer is only assigned to church “prayer teams” — as if committed prayer is only a calling for a select few.

Years back, I took an amazing journey and dug into a personal study on the subject of prayer. After long, biblical word searches and reading numerous books on the topic, I was deeply changed. Prayer became a joyous passion for me — a priority — because I more fully understood how important it is and how closely it draws me to the heart of God. It’s all about drawing near to God, enjoying His presence, and then conversing with Him. But sometimes I get distracted and lose out on this awesome privilege and calling.

My hope is that God will stir your heart as you’re reading today and you’ll begin afresh with a commitment to continual, daily prayers.

We stand strong because God is able to keep us standing, but please notice the importance of our prayers for one another in the verses of 2 Corinthians 1:8-11:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

All of our prayers are needed! God longs to be longed for. For us to press in and plead for His mercy, power, healing, guidance, strength and wisdom. For us to trust Him. This means we ask and then are filled with His peace, knowing that He hears us.

We stand in prayer.

Scriptures:

For further study: John 17 is a heartfelt prayer that Jesus prayed to His Father. As you read through it, notice the conversational flow He had. In light of this prayer, what mattered most to Jesus? What were His specific requests? How can you grow in your communication with your heavenly Father through Jesus’ prayer example?

Stand Armed with the Word of God

If you’ve become disillusioned by unanswered prayer, Satan may have fed you this common lie: “Since you’ve given your life to Christ, God should do whatever you want.”

To make you insecure and discontent, he may also spew out some garbage, like, “If you really are God’s child, then only good things should happen to you,” or, “Don’t you want more of what this world offers? Come over here and I’ll show you a good time!”

In Matthew chapter 4, we see Jesus strike three heavy blows to the evil one by quoting the truth of scripture. This is at a time when Jesus was desperately famished with hunger and physical weakness. Yet He maintained the strength to STAND against significant temptations. He wielded the weapon of Scripture with short and potent precision: Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ … It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’… Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Remember, believer, Jesus Christ is the Word of God and He lives in you by the person of the Holy Spirit. You are armed with the mightiest weapon! Take hold of the Word and fight against the lies of the devil! Never neglect your weapon!

Seek out the Word of God. Delight in it. Cling to it! Live it out. Study it. Meditate on it. Memorize it. Proclaim it! Let the Word heal you and set you free.

Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

Scriptures:

For further study: Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, but it is one of my favorites. I encourage you to read it. Maybe you could cover it over the next few days. If you really want to be blessed, record what it teaches us about the benefits of God’s Word (also known as: law, statutes, commands, ordinances, and precepts,). I promise, you’ll love this!

Stand in the Hope of Your Salvation

Take the helmet of salvation … Ephesians 6:17

We stand in the great and sure hope of our salvation! This hope is our anchor and stability (see Hebrews 6:19). With a secure hope of salvation, you can be continually filled with peace, joy, and righteousness! Don’t just casually read over the previous sentence. It’s absolutely and astoundingly true! And it’s a supernatural gift of God to possess these qualities.

It breaks my heart that so many people struggle throughout life without Christ. As a mom, I’ve witnessed the massive difference between my children wearing and not wearing a protective helmet. Concussions are scary. Who wouldn’t want to safeguard against dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, and slurred speech?

Tightly fasten on your helmet! It protects you more than you realize.

Salvation provides us with a new and powerful identity – the truth of who you are and Whose you are – transforms your mind to the mind of Christ; therefore, you are prepared for every battle!

Your spiritual enemy’s attacks are aimed to hit your mind with fear, doubt, and discouragement. Whenever he tries to accuse you, telling you that you are a lousy excuse for a Christian and that you might as well give up, resist these evil lies by rejoicing in the truth. Christ’s salvation covers you, and in Him there is no condemnation!

I’ve come to experience a deep rest through relying on my salvation in Christ. This hope supplies an unwavering endurance that will take me to the finish line. It brings reality to the words found in Philippians 1:21, to live is Christ, to die is gain.

Scriptures:

For further study: Read through Ephesians 1:3-14,17-21 and write out everything Paul teaches that you have and are in Christ. Declare your list aloud when you’re finished. You just might want to love on your heavenly Father with some heartfelt praise, too.

Standing Strong

Sisters, the following devotion is the first day of a ten-day YouVersion reading plan called Standing Strong. I will be posting a devotion each day this week and next week, Monday through Friday. This reading plan is a continuation of a message God placed on my heart for our annual Sisters Women’s Ministry event this past weekend at all LifeChurch.tv locations. I pray this blesses you as it blessed me immensely in my preparation!

Stand Yielded

Every day we have a choice as to whom we will serve. Yes, as Christians we say we follow and serve Christ, but let’s closely examine our declared devotion and see if we can deepen our surrender.

You see, the truth is we either serve ourselves, man-made gods, or the one true God. We may not literally bow down to anyone or anything, but our actions speak for themselves. Many of us fall into the trap of serving our own, selfish appetites or our image (a people-pleasing disease of pride). We can even be ruled by our fears and insecurities.

Fact: Christians are to be servants of Christ.

Obviously, a good servant should do the will of his master. It’s never the other way around. That would be ludicrous! Be honest. As you reflect on this day, who has been the leader — the Holy Spirit, you, or something or someone else?

If the Lord has not been the master of your days lately, you haven’t been able to enjoy all the fullness of life in Him that John 10:10 describes! Plus, you’ve been missing out on being effective and fruitful for His Kingdom.

But there is good news! His word clearly shows us how to overcome this and stand strong as His faithful servant — humbly yielding all to God. Submit yourself in total surrender. Yield to God in the very smallest ways. Don’t be afraid to trust Him completely. You’ll find He is more than worthy of your all. You’ll discover His power at work in your complete weakness. You’ll enjoy the honor of truly knowing and serving the gentle and good Master.

If we are to stand strong, we must daily choose whom we will serve.

Scriptures to read: Joshua 24:15, 1 John 2:15-17, James 4:3-10, John 10:10

For further study: Read through James 4:3-10 and 1 John 2:15-17 again. Make a list of all God wants you to do when battling pride and worldliness. Prayerfully read through your list and ask God to show you how to respond.

 

To sign up for this plan in the YouVersion Free Bible App, please visit: