How much is Satan and how much is me? As time has gone on, I’ve found myself wondering how much of my emotions have been affected by Satan, and how much was my own sense of insecurity and doubt. Then that takes me down a road of thinking, how much does Satan really have to say to get my mind to take off on a tangent. I think when we find out the answer to this question we will be surprised.
I don’t feel like every bad thing comes from Satan. I don’t think he is lurking behind that flat tire you got on your way to work or that sickness your kiddo brought home from school. I think that there is a large human component to some of the bad things that happen in our lives. I think there are many time we make situations harder on ourselves because of our mindset.
On the other side of that, I also believe that Satan has been around humans a loooong time. I believe that he knows people very very well. I think he understands how we use our vices and knows how to play the odds to influence people.
When I go through spiritually hard times, I begin to notice that I when I feel guilty about displeasing God, I tend to avoid my bible. I think you can equate it to wanting to avoid a person when you know you’ve upset them. I believe, unfortunately, this is human nature. Most of us don’t like conflict. But I think the sin comes because when we avoid the bible, we aren’t meditating on the word and being purposeful in our lives. And it just leads to a cycle where a month has passed, or a year, or many years, and we find ourselves asking what happened.
But while I do believe we play a big role in our own wrongdoings, I think that often times, the devil needs only to whisper a few key ideas in our ears. And we take off with those whispers.
Which leads me to believe that Paul told us to take every thought captive for this very reason. Because when we are out of the word, all of those voices running around in our thoughts start to sound the same. And we just don’t discern thing in our lives as well. At least I know this to be true in my own life.
Going through these struggles is tough, but I really believe that after we are through it, we see why we need to focus and meditate on the word. Which is really just STUDYING the bible. Knowing it in your heart. Because if we know the things God wants us to know, we can use those words and promises to fight the temptation to avoid him when we feel like we’ve displeased him.
I want to wish you luck if you’re going through this. Regardless if we’ve put it on ourselves or not. Jesus didn’t die for only those people who fall into Satan’s temptations, but also for those of us who mess everything up ourselves. It’s ok. I love you and so does he, and you will get through. He works for our good because we have chosen to love and serve him. He does not forget that.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Isn’t that a hard thing to do? I say that all the time. Mostly because I’m a bit of a control freak. But also because I can occasionally doubt God is working for my good. Not intentionally, but that’s pretty much what is happening when you take control out of his hands, right? You don’t think he is doing good for you, or noticing your struggles, so you try to do good for yourself. You think you can do it a little better, or a little faster, or make a little more money if you do it this way. Maybe he’s just a little too busy right now. Maybe his focus is on something more important than your situation, so while you’re waiting on your answer, you go ahead and move onwards and upwards. We all do this, whether consciously or not. In our thinking, we often times acquaint ourselves with that old saying, time is money. So we take this belief as truth. It trumps over God’s patience and promises.
Now I’m not saying that everytime we step out of God’s will, it results in a terrible catastrophe. But I am saying that when we wait on God, God provides. And you know what I’ve found? Usually, if I would have waited and not rushed into something, I could have gotten a better deal out of it.
Our goal in this life is to live in a way that we put God first. And when I first heard this, I was like, uh no. Thanks, but I’ve got too much going on. I can’t even think about that. I can’t take the time to read that bible, I don’t understand it. I need someone to tell me what they think about it. It takes too much time to sit down and pray. I can do it tomorrow.
Have you ever heard these excuses before? Have you said these things to yourself to justify why you just can’t? I have. And things were ok. I survived. I worked and we lived. But life never really got great. I was tired, I was always worrying, always anxious, stressed, yelling at my kids because I was too tired and worn out to deal with appropriate discipline. Isn’t it shameful to read that? It’s shameful for me to admit it. Because even though we were doing ok on the outside, inside, I felt like everything was too much. I couldn’t keep up with work, life, and family.
I had to do something different. I needed a change in my life. Bad. Right about the time I was going through this, is when that movie came out. War Room. And man oh man. Let me just say wow. I didn’t realize. I just didn’t know what God could do for us. For me. For my sense of direction. If you’ve never seen this movie, you need to watch it.
I didn’t really know how to apply what I saw at first. The following morning I figured I’d start out by trying to pray. I gave myself 20 minutes. I woke up before the kids and sat in my closet. And my closet is FULL of clothes. It isn’t that nice, neat closet like the woman had in the movie, lol. It’s a tiny small closet crammed full of things. I sat on a tote full of scrapbooking supplies because it was more comfortable than the many shoes, hangers, and old toys scattered across the floor.
At first I just kind of sat there. Not really knowing what to say. Which was actually kind of nice because I’d been going full steam ahead for so long, I hadn’t realize how long it had been since I’ve heard peace and quiet, or since I’ve just been still.
Slowly, thoughts started coming to my mind. The ones that didn’t have anything to do with God I let go. But when a thought about God came up, I really tried to focus on it and hang on to it. And I started to wonder about God. What is he really like? Does he honestly even like us, we are all so bad sometimes. How can I do what he wants from me? What does he want from me? And I came to the realization that I did not have any of those answers. And that made me really sad. I mean, I was a Christian. I believed in Jesus and I wanted to go to heaven. I wasn’t a terrible person, there were many other people who did things far worse than me, so I should be good, right. How wrong my thinking was.
It really bothered me I didn’t know what God wanted from me. I reflected on my thoughts all day after my prayer attempt that morning. I finally realized the importance of reading that bible. The one that sometimes gives me a headache. The very same one I made all those excuses for not reading. But I knew in my heart that is what God wanted. He wants us to know him like he knows every fiber and being in us. He wants a true relationship, and those are not one sided.
This is what prompted me to start actually reading. And to be honest. It probably took a couple weeks of picking it up, reading some, and putting it back down, going to youtube to see what I could find preached on whatever I was trying to read to figure out what it was trying to say. But I stayed persistent and I didn’t give up. And then, while I was reading, it started to click. I realized that it was applicable to my life. I could see why, if people internalized this, it changed them. And I’ve been reading ever since.
I don’t think you could ever read the complete bible one time and get everything you need to know from it. I think it depends on Gods influence on you at the time you’re reading it. I’ve read the same passage several times, and depending on what I was going through, I had gotten different convictions out of it that helped me through my circumstances. I think it was made to keep coming back to time and time again. Like a life manual. And I think God intended it to be this way.
I just want to take the time, right now, to encourage you. Wherever you are on your faith journey, keep going. Don’t give up, no matter your circumstances. Put control back in Gods hands. How do you do that ? Read your bible. Start to know God and read about his promises to you. Believe these promises and believe in Jesus. Believe in his ultimate sacrifice for you. Just. Don’t. Stop. Sometimes as Christians, we can be stagnant for a little while, or even backslide, but don’t let that deter you from coming back to HIM. God is so patient. He is giving us this time to choose to come back to him. Know this. I pray for all of you out there reading this. I hope it helps.
What does that mean? Have you ever really thought about it? Can you break it down to define what it means to you, or what it means in your soul? I can tell you, when I heard this years ago, it was usually in one ear and out the other. I’ll do what I want today and tomorrow I’ll try a little harder. God knows my heart, I can cheat a little, He knows I try hard. Tomorrow I’ll read that passage. Tomorrow I wont lose patience and yell at my kids, I’m just tired today. Tomorrow, I’ll go see Grandma, I don’t feel like it today. But my problem was that tomorrow never came. It stayed tomorrow.
I’m the kind of person who always thinks I have more time that what I realistically have. I have the bad habit of putting things off. Especially overwhelming things, and things that make me feel bad or guilty. I don’t know why I do it, I just do.
But there comes a time that it starts to be an issue. Not only for the people around you, but for the Father above you. And he starts to weigh in on your heart. It starts out with little things, that small little voice that says, maybe I shouldn’t do it this way. Or that feeling you get…you know the one….when you know God is aware how you acted or what you just did. We can’t live on this earth and pretend that our consequences don’t matter anymore. Our actions mean just as much to Him now as they always have.
I had a terrible sugar addiction. Like Bad. Like when I was stressed, or it was getting close to that time of the month, I had to have something sweet to calm myself. I would run to a gas station in the middle of the night, to go buy chocolate or cookies, or whatever they had. To make myself feel ok. And it wasn’t just every once in a while. No ma’am. It became every day. Every day I had to have something sweet. If I didn’t make it at home, then I had to buy it. I neeeeedded it.
It was my vice. And it kept me from growing in Christ…Now before you roll your eyes and click away, hear me out. What does Jesus tell us to do with our anxiety? Does he tell us to be gluttons when we are stressed out? Does he say it’s ok to eat yourself to death? (I was starting to have very frequent heart palpitations and thyroid issues. BOTH of which have resolved after changing my diet). NO. What he tells us is to turn to him in our burdens. Choosing my self and my vice was not serving Christ. This right here, deciding to put away the sugar and to trust only in Christ is what changed my path.
I was stuck. I didn’t feel like I was progressing in my path because I wasn’t truly trusting that He would take care of my problems. I was using my anxiety as an excuse to eat everything in sight. It stopped me from growing and it stopped me from seeing who’s path I was going down, and it wasn’t the straight and narrow. And it wasn’t just because I had an addiction. I think when you allow yourself a vice like that, where you refuse to turn to the bible and see what Gods word has in store for you, but instead try to cope on your own, without God, this is choosing the other guy. Especially when you are wallowing in self pity, crying in your closet with a pint of ice cream, trying to be quiet so your kids don’t hear you and want some ice cream too worry about you crying.
I don’t want to say that every once in a while when this happens that it’s wrong, because I know life happens. But for me, It got to the point it was wrong because I’d let myself take in all these negative thoughts, instead of hearing what God tells me. He tells me he does not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline. I didn’t love myself, I had no self-control over what I ate, and I was powerless to change. All that stopped the moment I chose him over myself. And not in a sappy, now I love God so my life is perfect kind of way, but in a way that I need him every day. I need to start my day with his words so I can keep him in my mind when I do get stressed. I need to meditate on him throughout the day so I know what he wants from me. I need to go to him in my troubles and cast my cares on him, not let them burden me. Don’t let the devil steal your joy. He is real and that is one of his many distributing goals.
When you give your troubles to Christ and put him in control of your life, something crazy happens. He takes that control and stress and anxiety and uses it for good. Good in your life and good for his kingdom. You just trust him and let him work for you. Step out in your faith. If that person offends you, don’t try to “get them back” He tells us that it is to our glory to overlook an offense. HE will make it right!! Maybe not right away, but in his own time and we have to trust that. This place is not our final destination. Think about it. Once we pass from this life, we will move on to the next. There’s no stopping it. And I want my next life to be by his side. I want to feel that eternal love and comfort he promises us. If you struggle, there are some great videos on youtube to help you grow closer to God. Greg Laurie, David Platt, Jeff Durbin, Matt Chandler all of these people and more helped lead me to Christ. Always be wary when you are listening, and compare their words with your bible. You don’t have to accept someone’s interpretation of the word, read it yourself and see how you feel with it. Break it down. Look at the hebrew translations of words or passages that confuse you. STUDY!! You will not be disappointed.
John 10:10 New International Version
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
I woke up this morning, had my coffee and my bible out on the front porch with me, and my great big teddy bear Samson lounging at my side, when I heard the kids come outside.
Now I knew they hadn’t even come close to finishing their morning chores. And I knew in that moment, I had to make a choice. I could get mad and yell, or I could choose to take the moment, just then, and be kind. See what they wanted and why they hadn’t started on their chores. And I’m glad that this morning, I made the right choice. Benjibear had come out to tell me he loved me. In my past, I ashamedly admit that I would have reacted negatively to the kids not doing what I asked them to. Because I was tired, because I let other things lead my life, because my focus was not on God, but on everything around me. I would have taken that moment to yell at them, not to hear what they wanted to tell me, but to yell and say, “I told you three times already to get this done, get in there and do it.” And then missed the opportunity for my oldest to have a moment of connection with me.
We hear all the time how much our kids love us. So from the outside, this may seem trivial. It may seem like he was only coming to tell me he loved me because he was trying to get out of his chores. But do I truly believe that? No. I believe in his mind, he thought he needed to come tell me right then that he loved me, and that is what I want to foster in my children. Love. Confidence that he could come and tell me he love me without Mom getting mad at him. Joy that he could share his love with me.
Kids are so beautiful. They are so adaptable to their surroundings. They are true survivors. We’ve all had our moments of disappointment in ourselves as parents. We’ve all done those things that we are not proud of and wish we hadn’t done or said. And I think it goes back to the bible, as in all things. See, what God wanted from his people to begin with, was an obedient loving people. Not people who disobeyed and tried to make up for it. He wanted our hearts. But he will take our repentance. And I think these little moments shape us. Those moments that we get mad and yell shape us. And those moments that we realize we shouldn’t have done what we did shape us, and those moments we choose to STOP and think before we react to our children shape us. For me, it’s been such a long journey. And I have a long way to go. But that’s ok. Because I know that he will finish this great work he started in me. He will give me a clean heart.
But it also made me realize, how much a Mom is like a manager. You can’t get mad and yell at your staff when they don’t listen or misunderstand. Well….I guess you can, and I’m sure some do, but they also loose alot of people that way. I don’t want to lose my kids. I want their hearts. And I have to manage them in a way that directs their paths while building them up instead of tearing them down. This morning, I really looked at being a mother like having a full time managing position. Because we are managing our families. Oftentimes as mothers, we are the ones guiding our children’s behavior. Father’s too. And we want to do so in a way that is encouraging. And I think we have to look past our initial negative knee-jerk reactions at our kids not listening, and instead take a step back. Try to imagine where they are coming from, just like you’d treat someone working for you, just like you’d treat a neighbor in Christ. You wouldn’t yell at a stranger for not doing what you asked them to do, why yell at your kids? And this is something that has truly helped me to stop yelling. Because I did alot of it. I’m not saying that temptation isn’t there, lurking at the corner. But I’m saying that instead, I’m choosing to encourage my children. Stay positive when they don’t listen, because they are not small adults, they are children. They don’t yet have the brain capacity to think like me. And that’s ok.
John 13:34-35New International Version (NIV)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”