“Not today, Satan!” These words must be more than a cute saying on a t-shirt or hashtag. We must live in the reality of telling the enemy to get behind us and that he will not stand in our way of moving forward in God. We won’t succumb to his evil tactics. We won’t get caught in his web of lies. Saints of God, this is not the time to become distracted! We have to armor up; we are in a full fledged war and we have to engage in warfare even if we don’t want to. When soldiers are on the battlefield, they must remain sober and press beyond how they feel and remain focused on the mission. They fight with victory in mind and they focus. It is easy to get distracted by tangential issues and lose sight of who the real enemy is. If we are not careful, the devil can trick us into fighting those who are on our side instead of galvanizing together and fighting against the real enemy.
What would happen if husbands and wives put aside their self-serving agendas? What if they focused not only on being happy but becoming holy, adopting a servant’s heart towards each other, not insisting on always being right, and came together in prayer and declared with boldness, “NOT TODAY SATAN!”
What would happen if different denominations stopped arguing over the nonessentials, holding higher the tradition of men than the word of God but band together to bombard heaven and declare with boldness, “NOT TODAY SATAN!”
What would happen if we spend more time with God than we do with our electronics? What if we stopped saying we don’t have time to spend time with God and instead humbly admit that we have not made it a priority and have idols in our lives that take our worship? What if we were intentional about positioning ourselves to hear His voice and declare with boldness, “NOT TODAY SATAN!”
What would happen if the church would reach across racial lines, stop being racist towards our brothers and sisters in Christ and pursue authentic unity that comes from seeking the face of the father together? What if we stopped taking cues from the world on how to address the sin of racism and instead humble ourselves and pray with one voice defiantly declaring, “NOT TODAY SATAN!”
What would happen if we were more focused on getting more of God instead of more earthly possessions and status? What if when the enemy comes to lure us away with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, we declare with boldness, “NOT TODAY SATAN!”
I tell you what would happen, Satan would have to flee and we would see God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven! I repeat, this is not the time for us to become distracted. We have to fight to claim the victory that is already ours in Christ Jesus! I pray that the church will awaken from spiritual slumber and see the distractions for what they really are. I pray we will get over ourselves and our own agendas and pursue the agenda of heaven!
Colossians 3:2 NIV
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
A few weeks ago, I purged my email account and deleted thousands of messages in my inbox. It felt so good to get rid of all those emails. This was something that I needed to do a long time ago, but I was afraid of letting go. Since that day I have been diligent about deleting read and unwanted emails. I don’t want to return to that place of having an overcrowded and overwhelming email account. I have had to do daily maintenance, and this same principle applies to my walk with God. God has delivered me from so much baggage, and I have had to fight to maintain that deliverance. The enemy actively attempts to hinder me from walking in the freedom I receive. He is always looking for ways to pull me back into old sinful habits and wrong mindsets. I can’t assume that once God has delivered me, I can live on cruise control. No, I must put in the work to maintain the deliverance I received. No one can do the work of maintenance for me, I have to be an active participant. The best way to maintain my deliverance is to daily commune with my deliverer through praying and reading His word. I didn’t deliver myself, so I can’t think for one second that I can maintain deliverance in my strength. That’s foolish thinking. What has God delivered you from? Are you still walking in that freedom or have you become lazy and drifted in the wrong direction? If you want to remain in a place of deliverance, know that God’s grace is there to help you maintain it, I encourage you to tap into that grace that is readily available to all believers!
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are a family of eight, so most mornings I do laundry to avoid having a mountain of dirty clothing by the end of the week. This morning as I was doing laundry, I noticed that my washer had a blinking signal that I was not familiar with, panic ensued. Initially I tried figuring out the problem by pressing random buttons to see if I could clear the screen, but it was not working. Before I could get into full-blown panic mode, I realized I could just check the online manual to see what to do. I paused, grabbed my laptop and within a few seconds of googling, I found out how to fix the problem and I carried on with my duties.
In that moment, the Holy Spirit reminded me I must have the same response when things malfunction in my life. There will be times when things don’t go as planned. It’s easy for me to panic and try to fix situations on my own instead of going directly to the manual and the manual maker-God and His word. I can think of times where I just pause, refuse to panic and seek God and His word for how I should respond in my crisis moments. When I use this method, without fail His peace attends me. The problem may not disappear right away like it did with my washer but when I consult the manual my fears and impulsive sin nature are over ruled and instead I receive the peace of God and His perspective. Consulting the manual (God’s word) doesn’t mean the problem will disappear, but it will give you the correct way to respond. I encourage you to make getting in the word of God a DAILY priority. This life promises difficulties, but when we remain in God’s word, the difficulty won’t cause us to panic.
Psalm 119:105 (NLT)
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 61:2 (NLT)
From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety.
God is not afraid of our questions. He is big enough to handle them. However, many times we are not asking God why because we sincerely want to understand His will. Instead, our questions come from a prideful and untrusting heart, one that thinks it knows better than God. Some questions are sincere where the seeker really wants to understand why God said or did certain things. But there are some who ask those same questions, and they are disinterested in God’s answer. They are more interested in God accepting what they think the correct answer should be. Their question reveals that they want God to embrace their will instead of them embracing His! Are you sincerely seeking an answer when you ask why; or do you ask why, intending to accuse God and question His goodness? There is a great distinction between the two.
I become easily disgruntled if I remain stuck at always asking “why?” It keeps me on a hamster wheel and I am left frustrated and confused. Instead of asking God why He allows certain things, I think the question I have to ask myself is, do I believe God is who He says He is? Perhaps I should interview myself instead of interviewing God. When I face difficult circumstances that seem to contradict God’s word, when I experience pain beyond what I feel my heart can take, when the answer is no when I am convinced it should be yes; I have to go back to that secret place and ask myself some questions. Do I believe God is who He says He is and do I trust Him? Do I believe He is sovereign? Do I trust that He has my best interest at heart? Do I trust He knows the end from the beginning? Do I trust He is as loving as He claims to be? If I can answer yes to the above questions then I won’t get hung up and all the “whys?” Not that I never ask, but I don’t remain stuck in trying to understand it all. I conclude knowing that even if I don’t know and understand the why’s, my loving God does, and that is good enough so I rest in Him!
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
I’m no stranger to the walls of a hospital.
I’ve been here before.
I am familiar with the beeping of the machines, the whispers of the nurses, and the concerned speeches of the doctors about the diagnosis.
I have been here before.
Twice I entered these hospital walls with a baby in my womb only to leave with a sewn heart to remind me of the baby that didn’t leave with me in my arms. Miscarriages.
I have been here before.
I entered these walls ready to give birth to blessings #5. I was filled with joy and anticipation about meeting my new bundle of joy. But three days later I left with a heavy heart, lots a of paperwork and no baby in my arms. Things took a turn for the worse and I had to leave my brand new baby behind in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). One month and two surgeries later, I brought him home with instructions on how to tend to my brand new baby who now had an ileostomy and scars on his body from surgery. I also knew that a third surgery was in his future. I left those walls excited but feeling extremely inadequate because of all that was going to be required to tend to our baby.
I have been here before.
My water broke…12 weeks early. I had to go on bed rest in the hospital. So much about this pregnancy was already delicate. They told us blessing #6 would be born with a chromosomal abnormality and heart defect among many other complications and that was if she even made it out of my womb alive. I sat on bed rest behind those hospital walls praying for a miracle. All their efforts to keep the baby in the womb expired after 15 days. It was time for me to give birth….10 weeks early. After her delivery, my husband and I sat there in silence. No chance to hear or see the 2 lb 6 oz gift I had just delivered. They immediately rushed her to the NICU and ran many tests. Two hours later we could finally see her but the many machines and contraptions on her face and tiny body formed a wall between our bodies but not our hearts. Three days later I left those walls, and again there was no baby in my arms. I left with a heavy heart for my sweet baby girl who I had to leave behind at the NICU. A little over a month later I left those walls with a fragile baby but a grateful heart.
I have been here before.
And here I am again.
This time me and my husband entered these hospital walls in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The hospital was one of the last place we wanted to be, but we had no choice. My husband carried our ten-year-old’s frail and pain ridden body to the emergency room. We didn’t know what was going on. For days he had been lethargic and quickly loosing weight. Things took a turn for the worse early that morning. He came in our room, short of breath, super dehydrated, and complaining of abdominal pain. He threw up and also had diarrhea. We prayed and as his health continued to decline; we rushed him to the emergency room. They poked him, drew blood, ran many tests and come back to let us know it was not the dreaded COVID 19 virus instead it was the onset of type 1 diabetes. Unknowing to us, his body was not producing insulin, and he was experiencing what they call diabetic ketoacidosis; a condition where your body produces high levels of blood acids. If left untreated, Elijah could have fallen into a coma and ultimately die. They immediately started him on insulin trips. They told us he was in critical condition, and they transferred him via ambulance to the ICU of another hospital. Every hour they poked him, drew his blood and ran test until he was stabilized early in the morning on RESURRECTION SUNDAY. They inundated us with information on type 1 diabetes, how to check his blood sugar and how to administer insulin at home. Three days later we are leaving with lots of paperwork and medicine for a type 1 diabetic patient. All of it is overwhelming, but we are also grateful to leave these walls with a child who stared death in the face and came out alive!
Yes, I have been here before.
But never have I been here alone.
For every painful and unexpected news I’ve received behind these walls, God has been right here with me. Never leaving me without hope, even when I was experiencing loss.
He’s flooded my heart with a peace I couldn’t understand,
Gave me a praise even when the diagnosis was not what I wanted and taught me to pray real raw prayers.
Behind these walls, he has taught me he is good, even when the circumstances are less than ideal.
These walls won’t cause me to question God’s faithfulness, on the contrary they have confirmed that He is who He says He is!
These walls won’t push me to curse God and die, instead they have produced a greater surrender and sweeter communion with Him!
These walls have never closed in on me, because God has always been right there with me-to comfort, to love, to give me an eternal perspective.
I’ve seen a lot behind these walls and each time I leave with a greater revelation of God; pain has a way of doing that.
Yes, I have been here before
But make no mistake, I have never been here alone.
Idols are falling all around us, and the temptation is there to create new ones instead of turning to the one true God. Some of our idols are education, vanity, sports, pleasure, consumerism, money, our jobs, and even church programs just to name a few. The schools, beauty parlors, sports organizations, restaurants, cruise ships, retail stores, and Disney World are closing. Jobs are telling people to work from home, and the market is not looking too hot right now. The things we have put our trust in and run to for comfort and security are being cancelled, they are failing us. Let me just say that these things are not evil in and of themselves, but when they take first place in our lives, then we have crossed over into idol worship. We have sacrificed so much on the altar of the aforementioned, mainly our relationship with God. He tells us in Exodus 20:1 that we are not to have any other Gods but Him. And now He has our attention, how are we responding? Instead of running to God, many are busy creating new idols, finding other things to sit on the throne of our hearts.
Some of us told God we would spend more time with Him if that time were available. What are we doing with the time we now have since so many things are cancelled and inaccessible? Does our current use of time prove that we were lying, that we were just offering lip service, and telling God what we thought He wanted to hear. Times of difficulty helps to reveal our motives. How long will our hearts be hardened, how long will we resist God, how hard does it have to get for us to give God what He deserves; our life, our surrender! While many things are being cancelled, let us not CANCEL OUR PURSUIT OF GOD! He is a firm foundation and the only sure thing in these times of uncertainty.