"Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me." Isaiah 30:15 (MSG)
God spoke a word over me this year that was unconventional to my understanding and logic. He told me that I would be stronger but not in the way that I understand strength. My increase in strength would not be from doing more on my own but instead would be from letting go and surrendering more to God. I must become less and less, and God must become greater and greater, (John 3:30, emphasis mine).
Oftentimes I think of strength in a physical sense; the definition of strength is the quality or state of being physically strong. However, I know from Ephesians 6:12 that the battles and struggles I fight are not against flesh and blood (physical) but against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (spiritual). Therefore it is more important for me to be spiritually strong than physically strong. So then that raises the question: how do we become spiritually strong?
To be spiritually strong is to be weak in my flesh. 2 Corinthians 12:9 makes it very plain and applicable for me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” For God’s power and strength to be made perfect I must be weak. This weakness does not mean that I am frail; this weakness takes the shape and form of surrender, submission, and dependency. Isaiah 30:15 tells me that my strength comes from settling down in complete dependence on God. When I am completely submitted and surrendered to God I am dependent on Him to fight my battles and provide me with a heavenly strength that does not come from this world. This heavenly strength comes from our Creator and Savior, without His strength we are not properly positioned to fight the spiritual battles that come our way.
This word that God spoke over me went against my natural inclination to control everything and to be completely independent. With this revelation, I have taken small steps of obedience to release my control and be more dependent on God. My partnership and agreement with God’s word and will has led me into a life with greater spiritual strength and capacity.
Written By: Caitlin S. Lambert
“You are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.” Psalm 36:9 NLT
Picture this: You’re in the middle of the ocean in the worst possible storm you could imagine. You can’t see very far in front of you, with no place of security and no destination in sight. You panic, wondering when you will reach safety, how you will reach safety, where you are going, and why the storm is so bad. Suddenly, you’re surrounded by what looks like many arms, and you can no longer see the ocean & storm anymore. His hand turns your face to look in His direction and pulls you into His arms.
Do you hear the invitation to come close and refocus your attention on the One who commands the winds and the waves? Do you hear the invitation to come close to the One who has already crafted the healing, life, and dreams you desperately desire to know more about?
It is in this Holy and still place of intimacy and trust that the Father molds you with His perfect love; healing distorted thoughts and replacing exposed pain and brokenness with Holy Truth. What a beautiful love this is. The Father knows everything that you need, and yet He cares so deeply about the condition of your heart. More than reaching the destination, whatever that may be for you, God wants you to be rooted in His love; it is His love that will keep you strong (Eph. 3:17-19). His first and greatest commandment is for you to love Him (Matt. 22:37).
He is the light by which you will see. Let that give you hope, sister. In Him, you will see. Hear this invitation to be deeply rooted, to rest in green pastures, and planted by peaceful streams despite the storm. This invitation to live in surrender and under His lordship is an opportunity to experience divine guidance and peace in the middle of the storm. May you draw in close enough to hear the heartbeat and breath that the Father has given you, by grace.
Father, the Sovereign One over it all, I need Your help. Thank You because You are faithful to help me, by grace, to focus less on the storm and the destination and more on Your heart. May Your Word and presence be the light by which I see. Thank You because Your light brings guidance, protection, and comfort and reveals the places in me that need re-alignment with Your Truth. May You give me the grace to learn how to delight in You so that Your desires may be mine. Help me, Father, to fall into Your loving arms to grow deeper in Your unfailing love. May You grace me with experiencing You in a new way. I love you, Father. Amen.
Written by: Olivia Mbualungu
“Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 NKJV
Over one year ago, I received a Spirit-led word from Ashley Stovall that I was moving from “coal to a diamond”, and I see that coming to pass now. Unexpectedly, coal and diamonds have a lot in common, yet with some differences that really set them apart. Both coal and diamonds have the element carbon in their structural makeup, both are found underground, and both require pressure to be formed. However, not only are diamonds formed at deeper levels underground, it also requires extremely higher temperature and pressure to be created. You will not find a surface level diamond that has not experienced fiery temperatures or being hard pressed on every side. Beyond that, diamonds are a much more pure compound, which is why it sparkles and shines with brilliance and beauty. Similarly, as God takes us deeper, with more pressure and heat in our lives, He purifies us and we shine the light of Christ more than ever before.
My word for 2021 is “pure”, with Matthew 5:8 as my focal scripture. Pure by definition means “something that is not mixed with anything else”. There is a separation that takes place when something is purified, a removal of anything that is unlike the desired substance. Walking through the process of purification with Jesus requires the examination of your life on a deeper level, exposing, confessing and repenting from anything that is unlike Him, and allowing Jesus to extract and replace the impurities with His Truth. This is indicative of the Refiner’s fire, and I have found that the deeper you go, the purer you’ll grow.
The Refiner’s fire requires faith and daily obedience to the Lord. The process of purification is painful, but the Lord is with you every step of the way. Jesus, who lived a perfectly sinless life, experienced this like nothing else when He took all the sins of the world (yes, yours and mine too) upon Him as he was crushed and crucified on the cross. The suffering Jesus experienced through immense torture that led to death trumps any painful thing we could ever walk through. Jesus knows what it means to suffer; He sees you and truly understands your pain.
I am so thankful that we serve a God who loves me and you so much and desires for us to be healed and whole sons and daughters of God. In reference to Matthew 5:8, when we allow God to purify and heal our hearts of sin, trauma and lies, we become blessed to see and know him with greater clarity as we reflect Him more. We can be assured that when we put to death our impurities that we will then be resurrected with Christ, experiencing abundant, everlasting life.
What parts of your heart are you not allowing God to purify, heal and restore?
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 139:23,24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Written By: Valerie Hutzell
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26 NIV
In Fall 2017, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. It was a decision much bigger than deciding what college I was going to attend or what job I was going to choose after college. I decided to follow Christ. I was on fire and eager to learn more about who Christ was and how I could build an indestructible relationship with Him. I started the new members course at my church, got baptized, and joined a disciple group. It was an exhilarating feeling. Then, about three months into my journey, I was asked two not so simple questions: “How are you following Christ? and Are you willing to lose everything, if necessary, to follow Him?” I immediately answered, “Well, I have joined three bible study groups, I attend church every Sunday, and I read my bible almost every day.” My friend from my bible study said “Azure’ that is good and all, but Jesus tells us in Matthew 16: 24 NIV … If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
During that season of my life, I had no idea what that meant or entailed. A trillion questions ran through my head and I bombarded five friends with text messages asking them endless questions. After reading their responses, I immediately went into prayer and reflection. I was led to Luke 14:25-33. As I was reading the passage, the word “disciple” constantly popped up. Remember, in the beginning I said I was involved in a disciple group, right? Well, let’s just say that I only had a vague understanding of what that term meant. Disciple means learner or someone who is a student. I then took the definition of disciple and replaced it throughout that text with the term learner.
In the text, Jesus clearly outlines what it takes to follow him. Luke 14: 26 says “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” First, Jesus boldly says that nothing can come between you and God; not even good things like family or friends. Self-preservation cannot become idols to a true disciple. He asks for the ultimate commitment, and we give it to Him because we love Him. When we know and understand the unfailing love of Jesus, only then can we be committed to Him with great devotion.
As disciples we must do the following:
Whether we realize it or not, we make decisions every day based primarily on one core, foundational decision: who we have decided to follow. I pray you decide with your whole heart to follow Jesus. Like for me, it will be the best decision you’ll make.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your covering and your understanding of how to follow you. You know how difficult, uncomfortable, and frightening it is for me to change my life and rid myself to things unlike you to fully follow you. Lord, I ask that you continue to do a work in my heart and renew my mind. So that I will become a better disciple of you. It is in your most holy name. Amen!
Written by: Azurè Minor
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I have learned that forgiveness is truly the most essential part of the journey to become whole in Christ because not choosing it can be a true barrier to receiving freedom, healing, and wholeness.
For several years, even after learning about the importance of forgiveness, I struggled with forgiving both my mother and father. With my father, it’s always a topic I avoided. I made myself believe I had nothing to forgive him for because he wasn’t in my life. But I was naive to think his absence had no impact on me. It is easy not to care about someone who is never around, and if that person is never around, it’s easy to dismiss any thoughts and emotions pertaining to them.
Although I would have loved to avoid the father topic altogether, my Heavenly Father desires for me to be completely free, not partially free. He wants us to walk in complete and total freedom. God wants us to be whole and that will require hitting on areas that we want to avoid; areas that are uncomfortable, unfamiliar, or unwanted.
Choosing to forgive the person who hurt you can be the most important decision of your life outside of salvation. It is a part of our christian DNA. Forgiveness puts our healing into motion.
God is calling us to a life surrendered on His operating table which requires us to be opened up. Exposed wounds are painful, but required for healing to take place. My past trauma, brokenness, and scarred emotions were used to uncover deeper areas of brokenness and gave birth to the start of my healing journey.
Whether or not you truly have it in your heart to forgive, I urge you to simply say the words out loud. Ask the Lord to help align your heart with your words. Declaring forgiveness in the name of Jesus aloud removes the enemy's foothold, and it gets you one step closer to your healing.
God forgave us; yet when we were sinners, Christ died for us. We were reconciled to him through the death of his Son. If we are trying to be like Christ as women of God, forgiveness cannot be an option. I promise when you choose to forgive, it will be worth it.
3 Crucial Steps to Forgiveness
Repentance and forgiveness are what breaks up the hard impermeable layer of soil within our hearts. It allows weeds to be removed, truth to be planted, God’s nourishment to be received, and our healing to take place. Although Jesus has already died for our sins, it does not give us the freedom to do whatever we want and ask for forgiveness later. No. We are to live a life according to the word of God. We must remain and abide faithfully. We cannot straddle both lines. We are either for God or against Him. Friends, let’s be a people where we die to our flesh and we live by our spirit. Let’s decide to turn away from our human desires and keep in step with the fruits of the spirit such as joy, peace, kindness, and self-control.
I have sat and stewed in anger and bitterness regarding many of my childhood experiences; unfortunately, giving the enemy an entry way into my life. When you decide to hold onto the pain of any trauma instead of forgiving and working through the trauma, it causes strongholds to form, like anger, resentment and bitterness. Strongholds are spiritual points of operation that allow Satan to exert power over you. When we decide to forgive, and choose to forgive quickly, the enemy’s grip on us loosens. We are then able to see more clearly instead of through a lens distorted by manipulation. Forgiveness releases strongholds. Let’s make the conscious decision of our will to partner with Jesus and trust Him to vindicate us as His word promises. Let’s choose to be free!
A few years ago, I was able to see a glimpse of how God the Father saw someone who had hurt me badly. God opened my eyes to see past my pain and to see that His child (my mother) was also suffering. For the first time, my heart broke and I had compassion for her. I was able to reposition my heart and my perspective from her daughter to His daughter, and it brought a new level of forgiveness and healing. A core principle of forgiveness that I love is that oftentimes forgiving is not about changing the other person. It is about the change that happens in us. We must learn to disengage our pride long enough to recognize that God’s way is the only way to true freedom. Distorted perspective and pride are barriers to forgiveness. I pray you allow forgiveness to reposition your heart, even if it doesn’t reposition or change the other person.
Ashley K. Stovall
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh,my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. Psalm 27:1-3
A Dream: "My mom and I are in the bathroom, and we are looking out the window towards our front porch. It’s nighttime, and we see a mob of men yards away trying to get into the front door. I look over and I see my mom holding a shotgun - prepared to protect our home if necessary. She leaves the bathroom while I look out the window. Directly in front of me, I see a man standing, and I believe he’s part of the mob trying to harm us. He’s carrying a torch bright enough to illuminate his whole face and the entire frame of the window. He looks at me and then walks in the opposite direction of the mob. I begin to panic knowing he would use the back door as an entrance into the house. Fear wakes me up."
I entitled this particular dream “Man with the Torch”. My initial interpretation painted an unfavorable view for this stranger carrying the flames. I associated him as a member of the raging mob that attempted to kill me. After I processed the content, the Holy Spirit revealed that the man was Jesus who came to lead me out and away from danger. The purpose of this dream was to provide comfort in knowing Jesus is my guide, my safety, and my comfort. He’s the light that leads me away from harm and danger.
Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
A Jesus directs us during times of difficulty and comforts us in our distress. We have no need to fear what’s before us because we are not alone. The light Jesus brings illuminates every step we take forward, and He guides us when we make it our reputation to depend on Him.
He is also our guard when faced with adversity. To guard is to watch over in order to protect against harm. Have we forgotten this about Jesus’ character? The picture of Jesus we often have in our minds is this gentle, quiet man healing people; or we see Him bleeding on the cross. Jesus is also the savior who guards us! He is not only meek, Jesus is mighty! He is our Protector when the enemy desires to raid our homes in the dead of the night. We need to be confident in Him, call on His name, and watch Him fight on our behalf.
Just as a lamp’s light is close enough for us to see our steps, Jesus’ proximity is even closer. We need only to call on Him and He leads away from darkness and despair! Your biggest issues, your most dangerous spiritual mobs can’t keep Him away.
I’m not sure what evil you are up against, or what places the enemy is attempting to bring destruction, but be reminded that you have a Mighty Soldier in Heaven who guards and protects you, and is the light in darkness! He will be there, torch in hand to lead you out of the despair you face. Hang onto this hope, friends! Please don’t give up and don’t fear. The enemy wants to destroy us and steal our voice; eliminate our fight. Lets forever and always call on the name of Jesus and confidently watch Him be our DEFENDER.
Written by: Ashley K. Stovall
art found at: www.deviantart.com
1 Corinthians 14:40, “But everything should be done in the right way and in good order."
There is a workout program called INSANITY. It was created by fitness trainer and motivator, Shaun T, who works for the fitness platform BeachBody. I am currently participating in this 60-day high intensity training. A close friend of mine would say that “Insanity” is not holy and there’s no way this type of fitness is from the Lord. It is tough, I’ll admit, but I enjoy it!
Shaun T is an excellent coach with a “powerful motivation style”. During the workout, he is very intentional in giving tips and advice so we stay safe. He stresses how important it is to not compromise our form; the specific way of performing a movement or exercise.
He says, “Form over speed equals results. Slow it down if your form starts to suffer. You can do 100 push-ups poorly and hurt yourself, or you can do 10 push-ups the right way and get results.”
God revealed to me that we often have this same behavior when it comes to our faith. We pursue speed over form throughout our spiritual walks. We find ourselves rushing to get through projects or assignments, cut-short a conversation with someone in order to get to the next thing, or trade in our morning devotional time because we’re running late for work. Our quick-pace lifestyle has us missing important details and opportunities due to our laziness, selfishness, and improper “form”.
We let our spiritual fatigue determine the quality of our work. We see fatigue as a sign of weakness; thus we must not stop. We have to prove we can get through it and meet certain expectations that will then validate our spiritual success. When our physical bodies are fatigued, we should take breaks. Rest. We drink water and breathe. Who made it unacceptable for Christans to pause and be still in response to spiritual fatigue?
As a fitness expert, Shaun T understands what can happen if we push beyond our physical limits or push through without water breaks. He encourages us to rest or reminds us to breathe. Can this be the same instruction God gives us?
At some point, our efforts become means of perfectionism and not efforts of excellence. Joseph, Jacob’s son, was a man of excellence. He led with a spirit of excellence. From the pit to the palace, he encountered various types of fatigue and struggle; spiritual, physical, mental and emotional. But his pace was not set on his own agenda or the expectations of the world. His pace, form, and the quality of work was based on his faithfulness and dependence on God. Joseph’s ability to serve with a spirit of excellence was the key to his promotion; in Potiphar’s household, the prison, and ultimately, the promotion to Pharaoh's right hand man.
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, (AMP)
The way you serve determines your progress and your promotion. If we are physically compromising proper form, it will lead to injury, and injuries can hinder your progress. The same with our spiritual health. For Joseph, he never compromised form over speed; not even when he was in pain or when he was promoted. His heart posture was always positioned to please God.
What is the posture of your heart as you serve God? Do you give more attention to the quantity of hours you spend with Him versus the quality of the time spent? Are you operating in a spirit of excellence or a spirit of perfectionism? Is your pace following the speed Jesus has set for you or the pace you’ve determined to be best?
Friends, if you don’t have proper “spiritual form”, you will be prone to “spiritual injury”. A spirit of perfectionism will, ironically and eventually, lead to third-rate quality. I challenge you to take an assessment of the way you “workout” for Jesus. Let’s not rush the pace of our divine exercises or half-do our spiritual fitness. Let’s ensure that the quantity of God’s work through us, represents the quality of who He is.
Written by: Ashley K. Stovall
"But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you."
I've always felt a special connection to the Psalms. Whether they're songs of praise or lament, the Psalmists' words are relatable and raw. Now, in the deepest season of grief I've ever experienced, I'm spending some time revisiting the laments.
For some context before I begin my rambling, this past year has been one of the most difficult of my life. My heart's desire has always been to have children and lots of them, and in the span of a little over a year, I have been pregnant four times: I have miscarried multiple times, given birth to my miracle baby, and then buried him six weeks later.
Throughout my son Noah’s life, both in and out of the womb, God worked miracles: He sustained my son’s life throughout my pregnancy, orchestrated his emergency c-section at just the right time and place, helped him survive six surgeries (many of which many of his doctors didn’t think he would survive), and gave him a personality that joyfully played and fought even when life was hard. God faithfully worked in Noah’s life. He drew others to Himself through Noah’s witness and demonstrated his loving power and comfort. And, even on the worst night of my life when my miracle baby died, God was still with me, orchestrating every event for His glory.
Yet, despite knowing all this, life still hurts. I am still walking through an incredibly difficult time in my life, waiting for God’s response and grieving, so I’ve turned my eyes towards the Psalms of lament and to the reminder that God is always good.
Psalm 88 in particular has stuck out to me. The Psalmist writes:
1 Lord, you are the God who saves me;day and night I cry out to you. 2 May my prayer come be fore you; turn your ear to my cry. 3 I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. 4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. 5 I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. 6 You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. 7 Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. 8 You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; 9 my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. 10 Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do their spirits rise up and praise you? 11 Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? 12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? 13 But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? 15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. 17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. 18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—darkness is my closest friend.
Yes, I know. It's bleak, but it's definitely real.
And I feel like the pain is so relatable. It's hard when you cry out to God for salvation from a specific sort of suffering, and God doesn't answer how you want. Or when God miraculously answers some of your prayers for healing, but not all. It's confusing. It's hard. And the Psalmist willingly pours out his questions to God: "What's the purpose of letting me suffer like this? How can I do your will if I'm dead? Will your faithfulness be declared in the grave?"
And then, I think of the mercy of reading this psalm from a New Testament perspective where we know the end of the story. We can know that these questions are not simply rhetorical questions: we know that in Christ the answer is "Yes!"
Yes, you work wonders for the dead.
Yes, departed spirits will rise up to praise you.
Yes, your faithful love will overcome the grave!
Your faithfulness will even be declared in Abaddon!
Your wonders will be known even in the darkest night!
Your righteousness will be seen even in the land of oblivion.
The thing is that from the Psalmist's finite perspective as he wrote this stream of rhetorical questions, the implied answer probably felt like a blazing no. He felt like God had failed him. God's will seemed cruel. But from a heavenly perspective, looking at the Psalmist's words hundreds of years later, we know that we are promised salvation in the life to come, we know that our purpose doesn't cease to be when we encounter the grave, we know that God can speak his faithfulness, his wonders, and his righteousness through the darkest times.
This psalm is a helpful reminder that I don't know or comprehend God's entire sovereign plan. I don't know whether I will get the answers I want on this earth, but I do know that God is faithful and good and he is working all things together for the good of those who love him. Above all things, He is faithful. Above all things, He is good.
Written By: Mary Cumbie Prince
“But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29
I have offered quite a few prayers to God over my lifetime that are still unanswered. I have spent nearly a decade fervently praying for a family member, and although I have seen bits and pieces of God’s hand in their situation, I have yet to see the divine miracle I’ve been praying for. I have now begun to lose faith. Will God ever answer that specific prayer?
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
When we don’t see what we want to see happen, we lose sight of where God is in the situation. That’s what happened or is happening to me. I have never experienced a lack of faith in this way before; and even though my faith seems to have run away, I know in my heart that this isn’t the time for me to run, give up or be defeated by unbelief. It’s time to regain hold of the assurance of things hoped for. It’s in these times we must do the opposite of what we feel like doing, and search for God despite our lack of faith.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call on Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6
I was playing hide and seek with my nieces and nephews, and it was my niece’s turn to count. As she began counting, we all ran to our hiding places. Of course, little kids usually go to the same places and expect you to be in the same hiding spot. As adults, we attempt to make it easy for four-year olds to have a sense of accomplishment. Well, this time I hid in a spot that I knew no one would find me. My nieces and nephews combined forces as I waited anxiously for them.
I am super grateful I didn’t have to use the bathroom during this game because I was hiding for what seemed like hours! After looking in all the usual places, they were at a loss and started searching in new hidden areas. Finally, they found me! I was so excited! Perhaps, more than them. I celebrated their victory and perseverance. They didn’t give up! They were challenged to look in places they hadn’t searched before.
I believe that’s how God operates. He loves when we seek Him out. He loves to challenge us and hide in new places so when we do find Him, He can celebrate us for our endurance and perseverance. Friends, I may not be a great example of how to keep the faith when a core prayer goes unanswered for years on end, but I am really good at hide-and-seek. In faith lost, I am finding God; and I believe that in time, my faith will rise again.
Our attitudes, actions, and behaviors during difficult times are the sum of our hope and trust in Christ. So, despite what you feel, think, or believe, I encourage you to seek Him diligently. God wants to be found by you! And He’ll wait a limitless amount of time for you to find Him. I know because He’s doing it for me.
Ashley K. Stovall
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
When I was a child, I often received messages from family that fed into the belief that I was unwanted, unloved, and not enough. A seed of rejection grew, and in my mind, I thought I was not worthy of love or affection. I believed the only way to receive love and care was through performance. As a result, I became a very hardworking individual in my academics and extracurriculars, and I gave 100% of my time and energy to help others in need.
All these things alone may seem non-threatening; actually, it seems like working hard would be celebrated. However, I realized that my countless efforts to help was a response to a deep longing to be needed and wanted by others. Fear of being rejected fueled my “yes” to people regardless if I had the time, resources, or desire to fulfill their requests. Unknowingly at the time, I believed that my worth and relationships were contingent upon my willingness to serve, the quality and quantity of my deeds, and my ability to please people.
The core belief that I was unwanted may have been evident growing up, but as an adult, I learned that I am wanted and chosen in Christ. Through salvation and walking with Jesus, I learned that I no longer needed to validate my worth through my deeds. Reading scripture and surrounding myself with God-centered community helped me find the truth. The love and care I received should not be based on what I can do, but on who I am. Because I know Whose I am, a daughter of the One True King, I can strive for spiritual excellence in my duties instead of striving for a sense of worth. My performance, my “yes’s”, and my service can now come from a place of acceptance not fear.
And that’s the beauty of Christ’s love, my friends! That’s the gospel! Our value is not based on what we can do, but what Jesus did for us! When we make God’s truth our core belief, there’s a powerful shift that happens within our minds. It creates a breeding ground for healing and deliverance. Our God will replace the lies we once believed with His truth and love.
John 8:32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I love this list of scriptural truths that therapist and author Debra Fileta outlines in her book, True Love Dates. Read over these carefully. Which of these do you struggle to believe? What is He speaking over you today?
1. You are set apart and accepted. “You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you — from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1 Peter 2:9 MSG).
2. You are wonderfully made. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Ps. 139:13 – 16).
3. You were created for a purpose. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).
4. You are noticed. “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely” (Ps. 139:1 – 4).
5. You are forgiven. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:13 – 14).
6. You are a child of God. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12 – 13).
7. You are loved. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).
8. You are made new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
9. You are taken care of. “Be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ ” (Heb. 13:5).
10. You are redeemed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).
Author: Fileta, Debra K.. True Love Dates (pp. 41-42).
How do I overcome these old ways of thinking?
I believe the starting point of disabling the old way of thinking is to begin at the core of what you believe about yourself. Determining what we believe about the world, what we believe about ourselves, and where those beliefs come from are great places to start. Spending time reflecting and processing here is crucial for personal and spiritual transformation. Transformative change happens within us -- in our hearts and minds. We cannot control what happens around us, but as we walk alongside Jesus and have Him change us from the inside out, we can live a more fruitful life.
Written by: Ashley K. Stovall