Father, I thank you for Your mercy as this scripture comes to assure my heart of Your forgiveness for my selfishness practiced yesterday, leading to my missing an opportunity to minister to others in Your love and grace. It makes me exceedingly sad when I fail You.
Thank You for demonstrating Your perfect patience through Christ toward me. I praise You for loving me enough to discipline and teach me so I may grow strong in following You in faith’s trust (Hebrews 12). Help me remember, and may I be found faithful at Your coming.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)
Father, thank You for helping me know beyond a shadow of doubt that I am not powerless.
The devil loves making us think we are powerless (helpless, hopeless). But God! Christ living in us, grants us the full measure of Your grace (strength in weakness, the power of God made effective in us). Along with that, Jesus makes us the righteousness of God in Himself, giving us victory to walk in triumph and have full reign over ourselves in life.
Father, thank You. May we each truly grasp hold of this truth, that when we reign over ourselves in Christ’s power and authority, we will know how to live in every circumstance, with full use of all Your good gifts to us, living life abundantly. Thus, we will experience Your abundance, whether in humble means or in prosperity. Like Paul, we will know how to be content in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves. We, too, will be able to “do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Make it so in us as in Jesus, amen.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus didn’t need the baptism of repentance. He was perfect in all His ways, living for the will of God. So why did He seek baptism?
“Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
Jesus is our example in righteousness. He had nothing to repent, but He did have a call to do all the will of God. It didn’t make sense to John’s way of thinking, and maybe not to ours, but doing things the right way is important. It shows obedience to God, accomplishing His purpose, and expressing our trust in Him that does things His way even when it doesn’t make sense or seem necessary. What was the result, proving Him correct in seeking this baptism?
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.””
His obedience obtained God’s fresh and witnessed anointing for all He was called to; and it provided those watching the assurance of God’s approval of Him as Son.
We don’t always understand the purpose behind the requirements of God for those He calls into some specific ministry, but our understanding is not required. All that is required is our willingness to trust and obey. Many of these requirements are set to test whether we will humble ourselves before God and trust His way of being and doing as we head into the ministry He has for us. Plus, there is power and authority that comes when we trust God enough to do His will His way. Failure to follow scriptural protocol can, and most often does, work against us, rob us of anointing needed for our success, and even serves to close doors that would have opened had we simply trusted God’s design.
If we believe the inerrancy of God’s Word and that His directives have purpose that works His good in and through us, we will trust and obey, even when it doesn’t make sense to our finite minds.
Father-Patēr, make me to know the humility of forthright and obedient praise and worship You empower me to freely give to You. I want to see and house Your glory.
In that, I again give You my mouth (lips, tongue). Make my tongue the pen in Your hand. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You. Let them flow from Your fountain of love, truth and grace. Grant me wise discernment of places (hearts) receptive to the pearls You bless me to share. In Jesus, amen.
“Over the years, I’ve become convinced that praise sets up a mantle of protection around the people of God. Praise is an atmosphere through which the Adversary cannot move.”
These are my words, written on my heart. I didn’t write these words. They come from the pen of Jack Hayford. But I could have written them, for this is my truth, too. Is it yours? More from Jack’s pen…
“If you and I really entered into this truth, it would transform our lives. And it’s not simply because praise can insulate or protect us. It’s more than that. It’s because God is worthy, . . . worthy of the best of our praise, the depths of our thanksgiving. As you ask the Lord to teach you more and more about the tireless, ongoing spirit of praise, it will change your circumstances, and it will change you!”
Jack speaks my over-and-over-again experience. Change comes when we quit fretting, fearing, and dreading, look up to Him Who loves us, and turn our hearts to knowing Him, trusting Him, and believing He is able; He is faithful; and He loves to amaze us. At just the right time, when all hearts are where He desires they be, His will comes to pass and we rejoice in awe of His wonder at the glory we walk into.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. [Jer. 6:16.] For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” – Matthew 11:28-30 AMPC
The main ingredient to a healthy, peaceful, restful lifestyle is developing, growing, and maintaining a healthy relationship with God through Christ. Distractions, whether cultural, emotional, physical, financial, relational, or social, rob focus from our main purpose in life. Relationship with God.
I am seeing in these days of my life, and especially in the past few days, how situations and circumstances we face are not so much challenges to overcome, but more invitations to draw nearer still to God. When I choose relationship with God, leaning into all I know of Him, trusting Him, and seeking deeper experience of Him, I discover the greater depths of relating to Him that He is after. It is then that I find all I need to overcome the challenge, most often seeing Him deal with the issues of life in miraculous ways that amaze. In those experiences, God works in and through me to accomplish His purpose in life; and especially in my life, as knowledge of Him inspires new life in me, making me into all He planned me to be.
When I maintain this focus, my emotions stabilize quicker, enabling me to enter/remain in His rest, preventing me giving myself to the bad habits of my flesh in turmoil. I find my load lifted, council for the path, and hope for the outcome. However long the challenge remains, God is faithful to walk with me as I draw nearer still to Him.
You, Lord, tell us that we have the mind of Christ and we must not be double minded – struggling between the mind of the flesh and the mind of the Spirit. Thank You for reminding me of this and helping me see how subtle the struggle can be.
There have been so many times I thought to do something, ignoring it because I didn’t think it was Your thought, only to wish I had listened. That is a flesh mind struggle. Instead of trusting You for the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God to control me, I waiver, vacillate, and procrastinate. Forgive me, Father.
I lay my mind at Your feet and take up Yours. I trust You. Make Your thoughts known and make me faithful to obey. In Jesus, amen.
Father, if there is any part of me that is not completely Yours, reveal it, please, Sir. I desire You in all Your fullness. Only You can make me whole and wholly Yours. Only You can make me Holy, one with You, being all You created me to be, accomplishing all Your good will and purpose according to Your good plan and way. Here am I, O God. I bow.
Rick Warren rightly points out that You, Lord, give us wisdom to hear You and to follow through with what You tell us. It is true. You give the wisdom to hear and follow, and You give the POWER needed to accomplish Your will in Your way.
Father, Your Word says that I can do NOTHING apart from You. I can’t even promise and be faithful to Your Word to me without Your grace sufficient for me, strengthening and enabling me to obey. I am completely and totally reliant on You for it all. And I am blessed, for You have provided all for me, giving me Your Holy Spirit to teach, instruct, equip, and empower me, walking with me, being in me, living through me. I am eternally grateful. Thank You, Lord.
Now bless me this day to hear You with assurance and accomplish Your purpose with fervor. In Jesus, amen.
Father, I thank You that, in Christ, I am of a chosen race; a royal priestess of a holy nation, a person designated for Your own possession, so that I may proclaim the excellencies of You who have called me out of darkness into Your marvelous light. I once was not of Your people, but now I am one with the people of God. I had not received mercy, but now I have received mercy.
Beloved, Your desire for me as an alien and stranger in the world, but not of it, is that I abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against my soul. Father, grant me Your Spirit’s power to keep my behavior excellent among those of this world, so that in the thing in which they slander me as an evildoer, they may because of my good deeds in Christ, as they observe them, glorify You in the day of visitation. In Jesus I pray, amen.
Lord, let Your mighty spiritual awakening and great revival begin in me. O God, refresh and restore my life, myself, my soul, the essence of who You created me to be: the me You planned while knitting me in my mother’s womb. Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me. Know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me and lead me on righteous paths to Your everlasting way.
Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence, I pray, nor take Your Holy Spirit from me; but draw near to me as I draw near to You. Fill me to overflowing with the Power of Your Presence in me.
Restore to me the joy of my salvation in Christ. Renew a steadfast Spirit in me: more steadfast than ever before, in ever growing strength of stance. Then use me as You will: teaching transgressors Your ways and converting sinners to Yourself, bringing them to their own life giving, eternal relationship with You.
Make Yourself known in, to, and through me for Your glory and crown; Your Kingdom come, on earth as in Heaven. This I pray, in Jesus, Amen.
“…since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” (11:11b)
Amen! Yes. By faith. By faith to trust You, O God, we please You. That faith that pleases You is settled on the Promise Keeper. Not the promise.
Father, we tend to view Your promises from a fleshly standpoint, aligning our hope with our own understanding and desire. We too readily fail to see with Your eyes and realize that You do far above all we can possibly think or ask.
When things don’t go the way we think it should, we believe You failed us and fall into despair. This is sure sign our faith is setting on the promise as we see it, not on trust in You who have the full answer, know the full truth, and always do what is best, accomplishing Your best good for all. Father, forgive me this, and grant me faith that is fully and truly based in You: Your who, Your do, Your will, way, plan, and purpose. In Jesus, amen.
Father, Your peace that passes understanding has walked me through many storms on the raging seas of life. I am so grateful to You for that peace, and I crave it in these troubled days in which we live.
The wind and waves of storms tend to catch our attention, distracting us from focus on being attentive to You – listening for You. Forgive us when distraction wins, leading us to fight the wind and waves from fleshly panic and prideful arrogance. Empower our hearts to turn to You with full focus. Grant us spiritual ear buds that cancel out the noise that leads to fleshly responses on storm tossed seas. Focus us on You, Your presence, Your wee small voice sounding, “This is the way. Walk in it.”
With focus on You, grant us to enter into and remain in Your rest. Empower us to hear and heed Your instruction and walk in Your Spirit to victory over the destructive forces around us. We need You, Father. Make us attuned to paths of righteousness where peace resides and rest rules; where we are made visible lights, drawing others to You. In Jesus, amen.
In my Galatians 4 reading today, this stands out to me:
“Now Hagar is (stands for) Mount Sinai in Arabia and she corresponds to and belongs in the same category with the present Jerusalem, for she is in bondage together with her children. But the Jerusalem above (the Messianic kingdom of Christ) is free, and she is our mother.” – 4:25-26 AMPC
Living a Kingdom life now – realizing oneself as citizen and representative of the eternal Kingdom and behaving accordingly – is the walk of freedom that is found in Christ.
Adding to this thought as I pray over it, the fact that the eternal Kingdom “is our mother” fills me with joy. As we follow Mother in knowing how to live for and serve our Father and our King in the power and filling of His Spirit, we find true freedom. We can look at The Kingdom and know how to live on the earth.
The Kingdom is always full of light, for God is the Light, therefor, we are light in Him. Darkness is a facade. Trust God to light up life and make the path clear. He will.
As Jesus is always present in the Kingdom, so He is always with us. He, somehow, is with each of us individually, and all of us simultaneously, without having to divide Himself or His time among us. We are one with Him. Live that.
And as the Spirit fills all things and flows freely throughout life there, so He is in us who seek Him. Trust His flowing Presence, and release yourself to His rhythm.
As this Trinity is eternal and fills all things, so they fill us and make us one with the Eternal. Having our focus set here in God’s Kingdom, empowers our Kingdom life on earth. Walking out life here in this blessed estate, we walk free!
We are freed from fear, knowing death has no right over us, as we are already walking in Life: eternal, abundant, and full, settled in desire to truly trust God to accomplish His plan and purpose in and through us. Jesus had no fear of death, because He trusted God to fulfill His plan.
We are freed from the cares of this world, knowing the Father cares for us from Kingdom stores. He cares for us watchfully and affectionately, never leaving nor forsaking us.
We are freed from the opinion of fleshly beings knowing we walk as Kingdom citizens, pleasing the Lord.
Whatever comes to this life on earth, we know is temporary and it cannot truly harm us who are eternal with Christ. Jesus took our separation from God on Himself at the cross, so we will never have to be separated from Him again. He is with us through whatever comes. He will help us.
This world may kill our flesh, as it did Jesus, but the essence of all we are is already eternal – and safe with Him who gives us Life. We are one together with Him. Live FREE.
As I begin looking at this morning’s “Refresh” scripture, I am led to read it in context with the entire chapter. In Psalm 139 Father highlights this passage, causing me to pause and ponder.
“Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.” – Psalms 139:21-22 NASB1995
This thought process reveals our human tendency to attach evil to the people who practice it. But is it true that God hates those who hate Him? I don’t believe so, and here is why.
One: God so loves the world that He willingly and freely gave His one true Son as propitiation for their sin. The world / worldly is defined by a mindset that is against God and God’s truth. In other words, the world / worldly moves in opposition to God, His will and His way, which is the defining character of that which hates God. But God doesn’t hate the people of the world. He loves the world and made the ultimate sacrifice to prove it.
Two: attaching sin to the sinner is to keep an account of wrongs suffered. God’s word tells us that love does not do that. God is love. He does not act in opposition to His own word and dictates. He is the perfect example of all He calls us to. Proof?
Jesus says of Himself that seeing Him, we have seen the Father. He is the personification of the Father for us. On the cross, He did not take the sin against Him into account, but instead prayed for God to forgive them, “for they know not what they do.” In this act on the cross, Jesus was exemplifying the Father’s example in Isaiah 43:25.
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”
In the midst of Israel’s sin, God forgave them out of loving desire to fulfill His purpose of maintaining relationship with them. He says He did so for His own sake. He detaches us from our sin for His own sake so He can continue to love us and reach out a saving hand to us for His own sake, that His purpose and plan may be fulfilled, on earth as it is in heaven. We are called to do the same.
God hates sin, and sin cannot stand in His holy presence. When God turns His back, He is turning His back on sin, refusing it. Sin separates us from a right and good relationship with God, but it does not separate us from His love. He still loves us though our sin hinders our realization of that love. Sin is what God hates, not the sinner; He sent His Son to die for the sinner.
When we grab hold of God’s loving hand through Christ, the death of sin found in separation from God is immediately broken off of us. And as we begin to walk in Love relationship with God, He delivers us from that which leads us to sin. He engenders a hate for sin in us that causes us to turn from sin and walk with Him. But He also places His love in us, thus we hate sin while still loving the sinner; and we are able to forgive the sin in order to have a relationship with the sinner, making us useful to God in being the hand of Christ to a lost and dead world.
There is no sin God has not forgiven except the sin of refusing the work of God accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. So we who are God’s children through Christ are called to love as He loves. We hate sin, but we love the sinner. We do not walk with the sinner into sin, but we are ready to help them find the love of God for themselves. Holding hate toward the sinner because of their hate toward God revealed by their surrender to sin’s grip only hinders us being the picture of Christ to them, following His example as the image of God to the world.
I’ve been meditating on and praying through the “refresh” verse of the day meditation and prayer on the YouVersion Bible App each morning. Today went into following Jesus, which led my thoughts to “take up your cross daily.”
Usually in taking up the cross, most I know – including me – talk about taking our sin / sin nature up, or our sickness or whatever malady plagues us and hinders us: bearing up under it and pressing on despite it. Even just thinking about that is hard and heavy. So I asked God about that, and He brought to me a new understanding.
Jesus bore the hard and heavy of our sin, paying the penalty once and for all. He took that sin and shame to the depths of hell and left it there along with sin’s death. He now gives us freedom from it as a gift. All we need to do is receive it. We have no need to keep bearing that which is removed far from us in Christ. We need to take up our freedom in Christ and walk in it.
Jesus also bore our stripes for sin and sickness. By His stripes, we are healed. We don’t have to take that up and carry it. He bore that for us. And He helps us bear it now while we walk to full healing, whether that healing comes in this life or the next. Our health may prove a challenge, bringing opportunity to trust God and see all He will do in the midst of our struggle, but it can’t stop God’s purpose in us. There is always a way to serve and shine for Him when we seek His heart in every opportune moment.
Jesus also tells us that we should yoke ourselves with Him. Like Simon of Cyrene, Jesus is there to help bear our cross, but He does so willingly, not because He is required to by some enemy force. He says, “My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” (Matthew 11:30 AMPC)
As I think on that, I realize the view God has of the cross Jesus bore. That cross was not the sin and shame, sickness and death we look at. God sees freedom for His children. He sees the humility, selflessness, and obedient heart of Christ, which now lives in us. He sees mercy made new every morning, compassion that fails not, forgiveness made free and clear. He sees a willing heart made ready for God’s will. He sees Life, abundant and full.
Our cross to bear up under is yoked with Christ. It is freedom from sin and shame, sickness and death. It is one of willing surrender to the will of God, knowing that all He calls us to, He helps, provides for, and empowers us to do. It’s a cross set to please Him, honor Him, glorify Him. It’s a cross of eternal purpose that displays grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, selflessness, courage, strength, joy, contentment, assurance, power, and more.
The cross God left His children to take up daily and bear for all the world to see is light, easy, and an honor to His holy name. It has nothing to do with our physical strength, health, or struggles in this life. Those are simply opportunities to shine His Light and experience His power made perfect in us. Our cross has everything to do with our eternal perspective and assurance; with love for God and others that does hard things made easier in Christ.
Nothing can keep us back and hold us down when our heart is set on the eternal perspective of God’s purpose, plan, and provision. We experience God as we daily take up the heart of God, the mind of Christ, and the eternal perspective of a Life made new and easy in Him. By the understanding that God will complete and fulfill His purpose through our willing surrender, we partner in the cause of Christ to carry out our ministry to the glory of His name.
I was praying about this day and the need to get things done. As I did, I told the Lord how weird I feel. I see a plate before me piled so high with things I need to do and get off my plate, but I can’t find focus there to get anything done. My focus is on a second plate that is empty and peaceful. Both plates beacon my attention and seem important.
As I pray, a flash of understanding hits my mind and excites my heart as The Father sets one thing on the empty plate in my mind. He tells my heart, “You don’t have to worry about the plate piled high. Just trust Me to serve you one thing at a time in due season. Together WE will empty both plates.”
There are six examples of suicide in scripture. We’ve looked at two of them. Through these six, we see the heart behind the cause of the choice: fear, anger, depression-oppression, pride, shame, a sense of failure, helplessness, hopelessness, extreme remorse, condemnation, guilt, and the list goes on. (Samuel 31:3-6, 1 Kings 16:18-19, Matthew 27:3-5 ) We even see in scripture example of the telltale signs of one planning to take their own life, as Ahithophel set his house in order before hanging himself (2 Samuel 17:23).
Suicide has been around for as long as our need of God has been met by resistance to Him. Those of us who can’t fathom taking our own life, also can’t reconcile God allowing it. Thus we have the frequent struggle those left behind face as they come to such truths as those proclaiming the sovereignty of God.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NASB1995
In a video devotional that went with this verse today, the teacher said our partnership with God and His participation in our lives is not a 50-50 or 70-30, our choice verses His. It is 100-100. I understand that concept, as God taught me the 100-100% principle in my married life. Successful, happy marriages are not 50-50. It’s all-in-all.
In relationship with God, He is all in our being one with Him and He with us. He is also all in for our right to choose whether we will be all in with Him and His will and way.
Right of choice is a gift from God. He does not remove our choice from us: we are allowed choice. But whatever choice we make, God is there and He causes all to accomplish His purpose, working it together for good and glory (Romans 8:28).
When we have God as our delight, we give self to His will. When we refuse Him, He does not remove our right of choice from us. He respects our boundaries against Him.
We are His delight and desire, whether or not we choose Him, for God is love, and He so loved the whole, entire world, that He gave His Son for us. He desires that none should perish, but all come to repentance: which means to align our will and desire with His will and desire for us.
God wants a loving, growing relationship with each of us. He also desires what is best for us. One of the things He sees as best for us is that we have right of choice. A love without choice is no true love at all. God wants true love relationships, so He gives us choice: God or not God, life or death, blessing or curse. God is Life and God is Blessing.
The hard thing is reconciling the fact of God’s sovereignty and His love for us with things like hard hearted Pharoah, or, closer to home, a dear friend’s family member who committed suicide. It’s hard for us to comprehend God, who is sovereign, being 100% partner with those horrendous decisions of the heart of man, and, in the case of Pharoah, even increasing his stubborn, hardened heart for God’s purpose. Our finite minds with our limited way of thinking cannot comprehend a loving God allowing, much less seemingly participating in such decisions leading to horrid outcomes. That’s where the truth stated by Joseph fits into the equation: “As for you, you meant evil…but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20 NASB1995 – https://bible.com/bible/100/gen.50.20.NASB1995).
But God! His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. He sees things beyond our comprehension. His plans reach to effect far more than our here and now. And He uses the effect of such hard things in our here and now to accomplish purposes far more eternal in nature than we can begin to realize.
Take this beloved’s suicide. I cannot even begin to think that God’s will was his suicide. What I do see is this: a long time struggle with depression-oppression and constant heartache that became unbearable for a precious man, loved by God.
I believe that, in 99.9% of suicides, there is a point where mental health loses the battle. Though he may have wanted to believe in and trust God, the constant struggle hindered him being helped by any degree of hope he managed to grasp hold of through Christ. I don’t believe God wanted his death in that way, but God did want this one He loved free from the struggle. So when this beloved of God could not grasp God and chose death, God allowed His choice and took him out of his pain. Absent from the body…home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
My understanding about this young man is that he wanted God and new Jesus as the way, the truth, the life, and the gateway. I believe God has him home with Jesus right now, no longer in pain, no longer struggling. He is now safe in the arms of God, freed from that mental turmoil. That is a hope I stand on, and encourage those suffering such loss to grasp hold of.
Now for those left behind suffering the aftermath. What now?
God says, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore….’” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 – https://bible.com/bible/100/jer.29.11-14.NASB1995)
Those left behind have a choice now. Trust that God’s purpose in allowing their loved one’s suicide was not death, but life. They are more set free to live than ever before, never to be troubled by depression-oppression again. Their grasp on the reality and provision of God is finally firm.
Now the ball is in our court. Will we run from God to our own struggle and hardship, or will we grab His hand, get His heart for the good He wants to work through our pain, and walk with Him to the fulfillment of the future He planned for us?
It may not be an easy road. Walking a hard path we can’t understand seldom is easy. But when we grab hold of trust in God, He always leads us to an eternal good that accomplishes through us an unfathomable glory.
So the choice is to run from God in anger and grief, which is death-though-we-live. Or run to God, where healing is found in the grief, restoration to life arises, and a greater good comes out of our pain as we who are comforted by God comfort others.
“And the Philistines pursued Saul and his sons, and slew Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, Saul’s sons. The battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers severely wounded him. Saul said to his armor-bearer, Draw your sword and thrust me through, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through and abuse and mock me. But his armor-bearer would not, for he was terrified. So Saul took a sword and fell upon it.” 1 Samuel 31:2-4 AMPC
Fear of being overtaken by his enemies, only to be mocked and humiliated by them, led King Saul to a soul-death that led him to commit suicide. Many in battle commit suicide rather than face their fear. Fear is a powerful enemy against the health and wellbeing of one’s soul.
Satan loves to exploit our fears. Fear makes us vulnerable. Add to that grief and feelings such as guilt, anger, blame, inadequacy, shame, loneliness, etc., and it’s a poisonous mixture to drink. Experiencing the loss of a loved one by suicide too often mixes up a brimming cup of such poison for those left in the wake of it.
Fear of one’s own inability to trust God, struggling with thoughts and feelings of anger towards Him, are enemy arrows to one’s soul. Fear that God will leave us because of our anger toward Him, failing to trust that God understands our struggle and keeps His word to be with us in trouble furthers the assault. The assault of fear can come without warning, leaving one feeling hopeless and helpless. It often attacks family members and friends who feel they should have been able to do something to prevent a beloved’s suicide.
Some believe that suicide is “the unforgivable sin”. The struggle of a loved one that led to their suicide can cause us to question whether they had a saving relationship with God. Lack of assurance that a loved one who died by suicide will be with us for eternity can cause a fear and frustration that wreaks havoc on the soul (mind/thought life, will, and emotions). The hope I would breathe into this equation is…
One: the only “unforgivable sin” I see in scripture is blasphemy (denial and belittling) of the work of the Spirit found in the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ (Matthew 12:25-32). And…
Two: salvation only takes an instant and can come in the last breath (Luke 23:39-43). As long as God is, there is hope.
The counter to fear is faith – faith to BELIEVE and TRUST God. In Hebrews, we are instructed that faith to believe and trust God brings us into His peaceful rest. In the place of God’s rest we find truths that are effective weapons to thoughts that fail to consider God’s power, presence, and provision.
Fear cannot stand where faith to trust God’s unfailing love resides. When we know God is love and His love never stops or leaves us, fear leaves. Even when we can’t “feel” Him because of our pain and grief, trust in His love assures our hearts that He never leaves nor lets go of us. Trust in His love that desires none to perish, but all to come to repentance, clings to hope for the personal work of grace leading our beloved to His mercy even in their last breath. Trust in a loving God refuses to give up on Him.
As one considers suicide – whether contemplating committing it, or being forced to cope with the aftermath of it, fear is an enemy arrow to the heart of one who must realize they are on a spiritual battlefield. Unless we realize there is an enemy of God who constantly watches for opportunity to destroy the work of God in and through us, we will fail to deal with fear as a weapon against us. Like Saul, we will give up on life and fail to trust that God can and will make a way where there seems no way. Giving up on life denies God’s faithfulness and His power.
Fear is overcome by keeping focus on God with faith’s hope, trusting His unfailing love to walk us through to victory.
Yesterday Father led me to call a precious friend and ask a simple question regarding her coping with her beloved’s suicide: “How is your trust in God through this?” The answer was as I suspected: “Not good, Darlene.”
Then God led me to find a devotional series on coping after the suicide of a loved one, asking Him to use the thoughts therein to inspire my heart as to how to pray for this beloved family in this unfathomable time.
The first day was introductory and one paragraph sums up the path to healing. “There is help. There is hope. This help and hope is found only in Jesus Christ. He alone gives genuine comfort to your inward being. He alone gives healing to your heart. Only Christ can replace anguish and hopelessness with transcendent peace and enduring joy.” (Julie Gossack, Hope Beyond Despair)
Today covered the suicide of Samson after Delilah’s betrayal, and this one telling fact that opened my heart to a slew of understanding. The truth is this:
“It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.” (Judges 16:16 NASB1995)
They may try to grasp it, but the battle raging against their mind, will, and emotions weakens their grasp on truth, robbing their strength, and turning them to willingly receive the lie. Trapped in the vale of the shadow of soul death leads to an agony they cannot overcome on their own. Feelings of being unable to get out of their situations or to trust love, grace, and truth from family and friends, or even God, they choose death.
The truth God is giving me is that those who succumb to suicide first suffer soul death. Their own thoughts and desires over life situations nag them until their soul dies, making them feel useless, worthless, helpless, hopeless, and insecure to the point of seeing no sense in continuing on with life. Their nagging thoughts – influenced by the lies of fleshly comprehension, worldly desires, and demonic designs – get such a hold on them that they cannot believe the truth countering their beliefs given by loved ones, nor even by God.
Many who survived a suicide attempt bear testimony that in the instant physical death was upon them, they recognized the truth that their concerns were based on lies. That they can overcome the issues at hand because they are loved and cared for by a God who deems them worth the cost paid in full by Jesus Christ. Because of Him, they are not helpless. There is hope.
I believe that instant of life to their soul is God’s reality reaching them as a hand to pull them back. That being true, I believe that same hand reaches the heart of those who succeed at their suicide commitment, which gives hope to my heart that, though the hand of God did not pull them back to this life, it did pull them up to eternal life. As long as there is our loving God who desires that none perish, but all come to repentance, there is hope for God’s mercy and love to prevail, even in the instant of death.
For family and friends left behind in the wake of their beloveds suicide, here’s the thing to realize and watch for as you cope with the reality of a loved one’s self induced death. Feelings that God failed in preventing the death in such an unimaginable act is a weapon against our own faith to trust God, hindering our ability to perceive and receive His help for our grief. Struggling with our own inability to help our beloved and prevent their demise leads us into a depressive struggle with our own sense of failure, inadequacy, and helplessness that can produce hopelessness. Blaming self or others in the equation that look to be the straw that pushed our loved one to such an end produces hate, unforgiveness, and bitterness that can prevent our ability to help others, or to be helped in our grieving.
These issues open us to constantly struggle with the why, what, and who questions that can put us in an onslaught of our own troubled thoughts, leading us into our own soul death situation. This struggle is, at least in part, a reason we too often see suicide come to groups in multiples. It explains why many fall away from loving relationships after suicide and even leave faith in a good God. Turning from faith, family, and friends removes from our lives the very things we need for help in healing, which robs us of the support that is needed to keep us safe from a soul death battle.
My prayer for my friend and her family is that trust in God be restored and firmed up. God constantly reaches to us, offering Himself to us and placing His resources in our path to pull us back from the brink. He does not force Himself on us: trusting Him is a choice He will not remove from us. If we earnestly seek Him, taking time for a close examination will reveal His presence reaching a hand out. If you’re reading these words from God’s instruction to me, this is His hand reaching out to you, giving insight and understanding that will help if you can grasp it. And God will help your grasp if you choose to trust Him in the midst of your struggle.
Friends speaking concern and trying to connect are also God’s hand reaching out to help you find soul life. God’s word touching your life is His loving presence set to draw you to Himself. But it is our choice to grasp the hand and open up to God and those He sends to help us.
If you are one who lost a loved one to soul death leading to suicide, God’s love for them leaves hope that His hand of love pulled them into eternal life in an instant of their own realization and acceptance of His loving care. If your grief is causing a thought life and emotional onslaught of bitterness and anger leading to the beginnings of your own soul death, grasp God’s love for You. Let Him lift you from death to life. Trust in God’s unfailing love is life, abundant and full. No one and nothing can rob this truth from us who choose to rest in His grasp through believing faith.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” — Deuteronomy 30:19
When my husband died, we were more ONE than I ever realized we could be. When he took his last breath, all my being felt like it was ripped in half. As I cried out to God, I saw in my mind a crystalline half of a heart move in to meld together with my torn half. It lit up and became one anew, and I inhaled new life.
My God fills me up and completes me. Realizing that benefit, I seek Him wholeheartedly. He is my first, most vital need and necessity. By His grace I live, breathe, and have my being (Acts 17:24-28). I am, only because He is. He is my all in all.
I still miss Johnny, and I feel his absence deeply. But I’m not doing it alone. Ishi is with me.
“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord, “that you will call Me Ishi (my Husband) and will no longer call Me Baali (my Master).” — Hosea 2:16
God wants our all to grow strong and be in good health. As I read this verse, to my understanding it is giving priority to the requirement of our soul’s health and growth. As our soul prospers, so will our body and life.
The soul is our mind, will, and emotions. The mind here indicates our thought life. The will points to our desires and passions that dictate our choices and decisions. And our emotional health indicates the dictates of our feelings in any given moment.
Our emotions are good and intended to help our lives, but not as the leading role for life. Our emotions can prosper and help us only when they are dictated by right thinking and good choices flowing from the dictates of the Spirit controlling our desires and passions.
The soul is covered in scripture as one part because, to function properly, the three aspects that make our soul must function as one. As Father, Son, and Holy Presence work as one, so must our mind, will, and emotions. When mind, will, or emotion go off in their own direction, separate from the whole, that is when struggle, dysfunction, and instability takes hold of our lives.
Give some focus to soul care today and may your entire being prosper as your soul grows stronger allegiance to God and His ways.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. …
“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
Satan is the author of persecution. He tempts to the dark side. It is his goal to use the things we face in day to day life to tempt us away from faith-filled trust in God. The tempter desires to tempt us away from a life that honors God as God. He wants to ruin our testimony and rob us of peace, joy, and hope so we are ineffective as Christ’s ambassadors, the image bearers of God. In doing so, he causes us to doubt our Christian faith and walk away from God.
A man once said something ugly, condemning my Christian faith, then in one breath, quickly adding, “and no: I’m not persecuting you.” I don’t remember saying anything to him before or after. He was a passer by I did not know, nor have I seen him since. He spotted me as who I was in Christ, said whatever it was he said followed by the part I remember, and walked on, leaving me looking at him with “How rude” on my stunned face.
On one hand, he was correct. He was simply the unwitting instrument in the hands of him who was using the man to persecute Christianity. On the other hand, he was allowing himself to be that instrument, seemingly without understanding it’s source and purpose.
The same is true of a deadly diagnosis, the sudden death of a loved one, or any number of tragic events that leave us wondering where God is and how He could let such evil come upon one who loves and trusts Him. Anything that tempts us to doubt, fear, and turning from God is Satanic persecution of our Christian faith.
I believe Satan’s being the author and perfector of persecution is why God warns us to realize our battle is not against flesh and blood, but demons and principalities (Ephesians 6:10-18). Not only do we tend to focus anger toward the instruments of persecution, failing to love even our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we fail to realize enemy tactics of persecution through the temptation to doubt God that comes with our daily struggles.
This belief regarding tactics of persecution coming from the enemy of God has protected me from giving myself to fear, doubt, and unforgiveness. It has helped me separate the sin from the sinner so I can walk in God’s mandate regarding love and prayer. And it has kept me from allowing the fruit of God’s Spirit to be stolen and buried by the evil intent brought to life’s circumstances.
“… Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” – Psalms 37:1-9
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:8-11
Father, life is filled with continuum experiences, granting us understanding. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, mainly that You are good and we cannot fully understand Your goodness this side of glory. Evil is the opposite end of that continuum. As we do not know the fullness of Your goodness, we cannot fathom how evil bad can get.
Your call for us to overcome evil with good is vital to our days, Lord. Grant us daily to draw in closer to You so our understanding of what “good” is grows.
Out of the heart flows the wellsprings of Life. May our hearts be cleansed and made good as You are good, and may that goodness flow freely from our lives surrendered to You who are good, the source of good, and the only one who can make us truly good. In Jesus, amen.
Father, thank You that You are taking me deeper in true understanding of trust in You. Trust in You does not just look for what I want and believe should be. Trust in You realizes when things look and are going all wrong, You are still doing something awesome in the situations and circumstances of our lives and the lives of those we love. We may not understand why You allow what You allow or go about things the way You do, but we can know there is good purpose in it. Help me rest things securely in Your capable hands, pressing forward in the things You call me to without fretting while waiting on You to do what only You can do. Show me when I fall away from true trust, and grow me stronger in the wait as an ally to Your will, way, plan, and purpose. In Jesus, amen.
God is calling me (and I believe He is calling all He calls “My people”) to greater trust.
I am in a spiritual battle right now that God is impressing on me as being training ground for increased trust in Him. I stand in awe of His accomplishment in this experience. You are going through something right now that is God’s call to greater trust in Him. God is getting “My people” ready. Cooperate with Him and choose to trust Him.
Believing God feeds trust. Unbelief kept Israel from entering God’s rest because it reveals a failure to trust. Our trust in God increases and releases our faith, which, in turn, strengthens our ability to believe Him. I am discerning that the strengthening of our trust is vital to our ability to stand in these days that are coming at us. I discern that an evil like this generation has never seen or imagined is coming around a blind corner, something we can’t fathom. End of days? Maybe. But for sure an evil beyond our ability to survive without trust in God for it.
We know we’re living in evil days and we know worse is coming, but this thing coming is beyond comprehension to even think. Trust in God is all that will get us through. Blind trust, that doesn’t have to see to have faith that believes God’s love and faithfulness, is the call of this hour. We cannot stand firm without it. We will fall. Proverbs 3:5-6 is vital to live out now.
Father, as You know, I didn’t feel well when I woke up this morning, so I stayed home out of the cold. Watching church online this morning, the pray-er gave thanks for those who woke up wanting to worship You: wanting to see You. Father, I desire that desire in every day and all day. I cry out for a heart of true, deep, Spirit filled worship. I cry out for a heart of earnest expectation and hope filled desire to see You active in me and my life for You. You are my first love. You are my first, most vital need and necessity. I pray my heart seek You fully, all day, every day, with full recognition of Your faithful Presence and watchful care. In Jesus, amen.
Father, thank You for leading us to know that recognition of our great need of You in right and true relationship is our first act of worship. Thank You for reminding us of these things. I praise You that when we seek You wholeheartedly, You keep Your word to make Yourself evident to us and cause us to know You. Father, we — I desperately need You and Your wisdom in these days. We greatly need a fresh wind of Your great vision for us in this time in history. We need You in our every breath. Please breathe on us with the freshness of Your Spirit flow. We need You in our every footfall. Please show Yourself strong as You faithfully direct our steps to paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Make us fervent as Your house of prayer in these days. May we be found faithful at Your return. In Jesus, amen.
Lord we need You. You are our first, most vital need and necessity whether or not we recognize our deep destitution apart from You. Please sweep across this nation bringing about a mighty spiritual awakening and great revival. Open our eyes to see You, our ears to hear You, our minds to know You, and our hearts to understand You and Your ways with believing faith. Make us to know our true need and our deepest shortfalls. Cause our hearts to turn to You through earnest repentance, truly seeking Your face. Remove our heart of stone and grant us a heart that is circumcised to You and pliable in Your hands. Forgive our great sin against You and, by Your faithfulness to Your word, heal this land. Restore our strength, renew our minds, and banish everything in us that is not of You. Then glorify Yourself, granting us godly leaders and making us a light of Your goodness, grace, and might in the earth. Until Jesus comes, we seek You with earnest expectation and hope in Your mercy made new every morning and Your unfailing love and compassion toward us who believe. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!
Seeking Holy Habitation, seated at God's feet (Exodus 15:13).