In our every day, Christian walk we face many trials and obstacles. Once you give your life over to Christ, the devil will work overtime to cause you as much trouble as he possibly can. Satan is a supernatural enemy that will do whatever he can to rob us of anything and everything that we hold dear. In 1 Peter 5:8, we learn that Satan is our “adversary who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” That is also why the first part of this Bible verse tells us to “be sober-minded and watchful.” We must always be on the lookout for the devil and his underhanded schemes.
We are at war. It is spiritual warfare that we fight against the devil and evil that is both within us and in the world around us. And, sadly, because of our sinful nature, it can be easy to fall into the devil’s traps. The true enemy that we fight every day is sin and Satan and our own hearts that hold fast to our sinful ways. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Being the music lover that I am, I can’t help but think of the INXS song “Devil Inside.” The chorus of that song goes, “the devil inside, the devil inside, every single one of us, the devil inside.” Truer words were never spoken. (Or sung, as the case may be.)
I am not going to lie, I fight this devil inside me often. (More often than I would like, or even care to admit.) However, as I grow in my Christian faith, I feel like I am doing a better and better job against him. But, man, sometimes he gets inside my head and he can really do a number on me. I over-think and worry. I say the wrong things and then dwell on those words. I let what other people say bother me. I don’t let things go. And, I can do these things to the point where I make myself sick. And, trust me, it is not a good place to be. But, it is exactly where the devil wants me.
I know I am not alone in this. I know that each one of you reading this is facing the same types of things. We are all facing spiritual warfare in our lives every day. That is why it is vital for us to grow spiritually, to read our Bibles avidly, and to pray without ceasing. It is important that we have fun too. We can and should gather together and praise and worship God often. (See Hebrews 10:24-25)
We must learn to suit up for battle every day and have our weapons close at hand. Chief among these, in my mind, is being knowledgeable in the word of Christ. When we read and study the Word, we start committing to memory verses that we can recall and use when needed when we find ourselves at war. As the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:10-18, we need to put on the armor of God.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
God equips us with everything we need to not only fight the devil, but to be victorious against him. As a matter-of-fact, our victory was already won by Jesus at Calvary. Isn’t that the best news ever? I think so!
But, unfortunately, we still have battles to fight. So, let us all be vigilant and stand fast with the Lord. He will stand by us and with us through every trial we face. Let us learn to hide His word in our hearts and use them when they are needed. Pray them. Whisper them. Speak them aloud. Shout them out. And, fight the good fight.
I will leave you with ten Bible verses that are powerful and empowering to help you get started.
As a Christian growing in my faith and spiritual life, I have reached a point where I am actively looking for God in anything and everything around me. Even in music.
Did you play Hide and Seek as a kid? I used to play it with my cousins and friends sometimes. I enjoyed hiding much more than seeking. Now as an adult who is working hard to grow my relationship with Christ, I sometimes feel like I am playing a game of Hide and Seek with Him. How about you? I know that God is definitely seeking me. I couldn’t be more grateful and thankful for that fact. And, I am desperately seeking Him too.
I know you are asking yourself, what does music have to do with Hide and Seek? Stick with me and I will get there. I thought I would share with you a game that I came up with that helps me to seek and find God in music.
I am a lover of music. I think I love just about every type of music you can imagine. Bluegrass, classical, pop, Christian, country, opera, jazz, hip-hop, rap, musical theatre, classic rock, alternative—I love them all. (And more.) Each and every type of music has it’s time and place in our lives. Music is medicine to the soul. It can make you happy or sad—it has this amazing ability to fit whatever need you have. It is also a real-life time machine; taking you back in time to places, events, and people in your life. It is one of the few things that I need in my life. (Along with food, water, shelter, clothing, love, and books!)
Lately, my music staple has been contemporary Christian music. I listen to it more than anything in this current season of my life. I love it so much, because it puts my mind and heart and my focus on God. When I listen to it in the mornings, it truly helps me set the tone for my day. And, oddly enough, as my hubby pointed out, a lot of it doesn’t even necessarily sound “Christian” per say. Many of the songs sound like they could be played on any pop music station. They are upbeat and have great hooks. But, the key is to listen closely to the lyrics of these songs. It is the lyrics that tell you that these songs are for or about God and His love. The magic of these songs is in their lyrics. (At least, I think so.) But I digress…
So, back to my music game. I tend to flip through all the local radio stations when my favorite contemporary Christian station is playing commercials. You do this too, don’t you? Come on…I know you do! Well, now when I do this, I listen to the lyrics of any song that I come across to see if I can find anything “godly” in them. And, very often, I do! It is just a new way I came up with to seek out God.
To give you some examples, I am going to flip through some of our local stations now and see what I come across.
Oddly enough, the first song I hit upon is “God’s Plan” by Drake. I hear the lyrics, “God’s plan, God’s plan. I can’t do this on my own.” Yup, easy to find God in this song. I have no idea what Drake’s religious beliefs are, but just the fact that an artist as well-known as Drake is singing these lyrics, makes me happy.
Next up, “My House” by Flo Rida. Now, don’t forget this is a game. And, I can just picture getting up to heaven and God telling us, “Welcome to my house!” in a big booming voice, can’t you?
Third, is “Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp. (Or is it John Cougar Mellencamp?) Anyway, some of the lyrics to this song go, “Little pink houses for you and me, oh for you and me.” This reminds of John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Pink houses remind me of the mansions in this verse. Houses and mansions are both dwelling places. See the connection? Yes, maybe it’s a stretch, but this is how my mind works!
Finally, let’s check the country music station. “Broken Halos” by Chris Stapleton is playing. Another easy one. Halos are worn by angels. There are many angels in the Bible. (And, I believe that angels are all around us every day, helping to keep us safe.)
Obviously, this game doesn’t work with all songs. But, it is still fun to try and find little pieces of God in them. Some might only be one word that makes you think of God, others can be the whole song. You should give it a try. The next time you are in the car scrolling around your local stations, see how you do. I would love for you to share with me what songs you found God in and how you found Him.
In closing, I thought I would go to billboard.com and look at the top 100 songs in the country. As of today, Thursday, May 17, 2018, there are 12 songs in the top 100 that remind me of God, with just their title alone. That is 12 percent. Not too bad. They are as follows:
1. God’s Plan – Drake – ranked #3
2. Never Be The Same – Camila Cabello – ranked #8 (Because with God’s love,
you will never be the same.)
3. Perfect – Ed Sheeran – ranked #9 (Because God is perfect)
4. Heaven – Kane Brown – ranked #20
5. Pray For Me – The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar – ranked #22
6. In My Blood – Shawn Mendes – ranked #27 (This reminds me of the blood of Jesus.)
7. King’s Dead – Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake – ranked #60 (Because God is our King, but He isn’t dead.)
8. Most People Are Good – Luke Bryan – ranked #73 (Because God is good.)
9. Woman, Amen – Dierks Bentley – ranked #86
10. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright – David Lee Murphy & Kenny Chesney – ranked #87 (Because with God, everything will be alright.)
11. Mercy – Brett Young – ranked #97
12. Preach – YoungBoy Never Broke Again – ranked #98
So many people in this world don’t feel any love in their lives. They grew up in homes that were broken in some form or another. Or, they grew up in the home of a grandparent or other relative, rather than with their birth parent or parents. Or, their parents didn’t know how to show their love or declare their love. Oftentimes, the parents were never shown love either. It seems to be this vicious cycle, passed on from one generation to the next.
The older I get and the more people I meet, the more I realize that we are all hurting from something. Therefore, it really is important to be kind to everyone. We need to look at each other through the eyes of Jesus. Jesus looked at everyone with love. We need to love and pray for each other, even those who we consider our enemies. (See Mark 12:31 and Matthew 5:44)
Our world is hurting and everyone in this world desperately needs to know about God and His love for us. I want each one of you out there to know that you are loved very much by God. As a matter of fact, you are His beloved.
If you look beloved up in the dictionary, you will see that as an adjective it means greatly loved or dear to the heart. As a noun, it is a person who is greatly loved. And, that my friends, is what you are to God.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1-2)
God’s love for us is unconditional. This means that we do NOT have to do or say or be anything in particular. We do NOT have to do or say anything special. We do NOT change who we are in any way, shape, or form. We do NOT have to do anything at all. We just need to accept His love. That’s all. Accept it. Beloved is a word that indicates an action on the part of the one doing the loving. And, the one doing the loving on us is God. So, allow yourself to be-loved by God. Be-loved.
As I so often do when I am typing up a blog post, a song comes into my mind. "Beloved" by Jordan Feliz is a great little song to get stuck in your head. It is the perfect way to be reminded that you are God's beloved. Take a listen to it.
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Oh, forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I have been talking recently about spiritual growth. It is my belief that the best way to grow spiritually is to spend time with God by reading your Bible and by praying. My focus lately has been on reading the Bible. But, I wanted to switch gears a bit and talk to you today about prayer.
I don’t know about you, but I find that prayer can seem intimidating. Growing up in a Baptist church and hearing strong men pray always left me with the impression that my prayers should be like theirs. It was almost as if there a certain way that you should pray—a right way, which means that there is also a wrong way. Those men I listened to praying as a child always sounded so well-thought out and purposeful. Even the ladies in my Bible book club who lead prayers are always so, well, perfect. And, my prayers don’t feel anywhere close to that.
It may seem like our prayer life is a looming task to complete each day with set of rules that must be followed. (Must we be down on our knees to pray? Must our hands be folded? Must our prayers be eloquent and lofty? Should we only pray at certain times or at a certain place? How do we make sure God hears us?) Once you become a Child of God, praying should be a joy-filled exercise that becomes as second nature as breathing.
Praying may seem like a hard thing, but I must tell you--there is no such thing as a wrong way to pray. The Bible tells us that our prayers will be met with God’s delight. (See Proverbs 15:8 and Psalm 149:4) So, I think God is just happy to hear from us. And, while Jesus does provide us with guidance on how to pray via The Lord’s Prayer, we also learn from the Bible that the Holy Spirit will help us pray when we don’t know how to.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. (Romans 8:26-27)
Honestly, I think any communication we have with the Lord is a good thing. Do you have an inner dialogue or monologue with yourself? I do! And, I am willing to bet that you do too. I mean, don’t we all talk to ourselves? I have always done this. And, I have realized that rather than just talking to myself, I can talk to God! You can too. I often think of Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing. This seems like an impossible task. But, if you start directing your self-talk to God, you can come a lot closer to praying, or at the very least, communicating without ceasing. And, I believe that this is and can be a form of prayer.
We are self-centered creatures and often go to God in prayer for something we need or want. We put ourselves first. We put our needs first. We put our problems first. Thus, we focus on the wrong things.
If we truly love and trust in Christ, we should put Him first. Then, we can come to God in prayer and be confident in His peace and sovereignty. We need to honor God with our prayers and communication. We need to put God first in our prayers, just as we need to put Him first in our lives. When we put God first in our prayers and in our lives, it puts everything in the right perspective. So, before you go to God asking for His help with things in your life, take a few moments to thank Him first. God first always.
So, no matter how you do it, I want to encourage to pray as often as you can. Just remember to put God first. As I have been typing up this post, I have been thinking of a hymn that goes along with this subject perfectly, “Have a Little Talk with Jesus” by Cleavant Derricks. I want to leave you a link so you can listen to it. And, below is the refrain that fits so well with this topic of prayer. Please, go ahead and have a little talk with Jesus
(Now let us) have a little talk with Jesus
(Let us) tell Him all about our troubles
(He will) hear our fainted cry
(He will) answer by and by
(When you) feel a little prayer wheel turning
(And you) know a little fire is burnin’
(You will) find a little talk with Jesus makes it right
I have had a lot of things on my heart lately that I have been praying about. I am sure you have to. Once you become a Christian, I think, or at least hope, that praying becomes an important part of your life. And, because I know that life is full of ups and downs, I also know that you probably have plenty of people or items on your prayer list. I know I certainly have a lot on mine!
I have often heard through my spiritual journey that God does things on His timetable, not ours. This means that just because you want something right now, doesn’t mean that God will give it to you right now. His timing is perfect and we have to trust Him to do the right thing at the right time in our lives.
But, as the old saying goes, that is easier said than done. I don’t know about you, but I do not have any patience. I joke that I was absent on the day that God handed that out. So, as you already know if you follow this blog, I am a work in progress. And, patience is something that God is working on in me. I love that I can look to the Bible and find what I need in there. My favorite verses about patience are James 1:3-4 which say, “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
There are a lot of different seasons that we go through in this life. Some seasons are shorter than others. But, if you are in a season of waiting on your prayer(s) to be answered, like me, I want to share something with you: God is listening! God hears your prayers. God knows your heart. Take a deep breath, be still and KNOW.
How do I know God is listening? Well, I know from personal experience. Within the last week alone, I received a sign from God that He is listening to my prayers. God has sent me information in the form of two different books that are giving me insight into something that I am dealing with. Honestly, the fact that both books are not only giving me something I need, but the fact that they back each other up, is blowing my mind right now. As I was reading the second book, I could just feel that God was whispering in my ear, “I hear your prayers, Erica. I hear you. I am working everything out. Don’t worry.” I keep coming back to Romans 8:28, “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.”
God is working everything out for me. For me!
And, He is doing the same thing for you! I know it may not seem like it. I know that it is very likely that you have been praying over something for years and you have seen no evidence that He hears you. I know that it is easy to start sinking and feel yourself slipping into despair. I know. I know.
Before I end, I would like to encourage you today. Take a few minutes and go outside. Look around. Do you see some grass or trees or flowers? How about a blue sky overhead? Maybe it’s cloudy or rainy. But, those clouds and rain give life. These are all gifts from our loving Father. Remember, Luke 12:6-7 tells us, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Dear friend, please take heart. God does hear you. He hears your cries and your prayers. You are important to Him. He has not forgotten about you.
Human nature is a curious thing. If you do any research on it, you can easily become overwhelmed with all the information and schools of thought on it. Just reading the Wikipedia write up on it has caused my brain to hurt. Nonetheless, I would like to talk to you today about human nature, but it is MY version of human nature. (Which, has nothing to do Greek philosophy, Chinese thought, or even Christian theology.) My version of human nature is simply what I have noticed for myself in my 42+ years of living life on this planet.
No matter where we are or what we do in this life, we all will meet and interact with other people. These people are either family, friends, strangers, or acquaintances. And, while we can have various things in common, I feel pretty confident in saying that, besides the obvious things that make us human, we all share something else in common; an emptiness inside. (We are kinda like an empty jelly donut with no filling in this way!)
Okay, I know you are asking yourself, “What is she talking about?” Well, whether you realize it or not, I think we all feel like something is missing from our lives. You might think of it as an emptiness inside, or a hole in your life, or an innate longing for something else.
Basically, I think that we all feel like there is something we need, or need to accomplish, to make our lives “whole”. Surely, you know what I am talking about. It is that thought or feeling that if you just got that ideal job, or meet the right person, or have that child, or could lose that weight, or could afford that dream house, or “fill in the blank” that your life would perfect. I think this is just a feeling that is universal to all humans.
I believe that all of us feel incomplete somehow and we spend an awful lot of our time trying to “fill the hole”. We want to be complete, to feel happy and content. (We want that jelly filling!) I have also come to believe that many of us try to fill this hole with things that do not work or make us happy. Things like food, alcohol, drugs, sports, or sex. Sure, these things can give us some happiness, but only for a little while. It is not lasting.
Or, we start making idols out of things in our lives. We find something and we put all our focus on it, and it therefore becomes an idol. And, our idols don’t have to be golden calves! We can do this with anything. I have witnessed family, friends, and co-workers do this with their kids, their marriages, their work, or hobbies. We do things to occupy our time and our thoughts. All ultimately with the goal of filling this gaping hole. (Or, at the very least, to divert our attention away from it.)
I have personally done this with a myriad of things throughout my life. But, two areas really stand out. I have done it by trying to find my purpose in life job-wise. And, subsequently, wasted at least 15 or so years on trying to find fulfillment in my job.
I have also done it by being super focused on my health. I have what I refer to as a mystery illness. I have struggled with this illness for about eight years now. I have gone to more doctors than I care to think about. I have searched for answers about what is wrong with me far and wide. I have spent a lot of time, energy, effort, and money into trying to get to the root of my illness; all in an effort to get better. I have not found a satisfactory answer yet. But, I have succeeded in making myself crazy in my attempts to find said satisfactory answer. (And, I think I have driven my hubby crazy too!)
And, guess what? Nothing works. Not the job searching, not the obsession with what I am eating, not the TV shows I watch, not any of the books I read. Not of any of the things I mentioned above works. It hasn’t worked for me and, if you are honest with yourself, nothing you have tried has worked for you either. Why? Because we are looking for the wrong thing in all the wrong places! (Cue the old country song by Johnny Lee, Lookin for Love.)
But, I have some amazing, life-changing news for you. I know who can fill that hole: God!
Doesn’t it just make sense that the one who created us, created us with a void that only He can fill? This emptiness we have inside, this hole that we want to fill, it was put there by God. I believe that He put it there so that we would search Him out. Sadly, most of us try to fill this hole with things other than God. (As I have been talking about above.)
However, once you seek God and find Him, you will start to feel whole. I am sure it is different for different people. It could happen right away, or it could take some time. If you have been following along in my posts, you know that I am a slow learner. It has taken me a while to put these puzzle pieces together. But, the Bible tells us in Matthew 7:7 seek and ye shall find. And, I have finally realized that what I have been looking for, what I have been seeking, this longing that I have had for so long—it has been God all along. He is what I have been searching for. And, it is He who has made me whole.
I know that you are in the same boat. And, I am here to tell you that God can and will do the same thing for you. When you enter a personal relationship with God through faith, He will make you whole. He will fill that hole, that longing. And, you will no longer need to seek it elsewhere. It is the most glorious, freeing feeling in the world. This is when you will get the peace of God, the peace that surpasses all understanding. (See Philippians 4:7)
Don’t you want that for your life? I know you do. If you don’t yet know God as your personal savior, I implore you to seek Him out right now. This PeaceWithGod.net website shows you how. I am praying for you every step of the way!
I wanted to share some things with you that have been on my mind lately, no pun intended (see title). And, my purpose in sharing this information is to educate you. So, before we go any further, I need to point out that while I hope this information is useful to everyone, I think it will be especially useful for those of you who “over-think” things.
I am an “over-thinker”—and I hate it. I honestly think sometimes about how nice it would be to be able to “flip a switch” in my brain and turn it off the part of me that cares about things so much. (Hence, the over-thinking.) I know that sounds bad, but, I am just being honest. Or, I think about lobotomies. I had a great-uncle that I never got to meet who had a lobotomy. (At least, I am pretty sure he did.) And, being a theatre nerd, it leads me into thinking about The Glass Menagerie and Laura/Rose. But, I digress.
I guess I just like the idea of being able to turn off my thoughts when I need to. I am learning, or trying to learn, to love myself just as I am. I mean, after all, this is the way God made me. And, the Bible tells us that BEFORE God formed us in the womb, He knew us and that we were set apart. (See Jeremiah 1:5) Plus, I also know from the Bible and experience that, through God, we are made strong in our weakness.
So, how about you? Are you an over-thinker like me? Do you pick things apart and go over them a million times? Do you obsess about people or things and wish you could change them? If so, I am here to tell you that you are not alone and there is help. Isn’t that great news??
I am part of a book club. I call it the Bible book club, as it is through a church and we read books by Christian authors to help us grow spiritually. (Side note, it is one of my favorite activities!) We recently finished reading the book The Mind Connection by Joyce Meyer and it has truly been a God-send. The secondary title of the book is How The Thoughts YOU Choose Affect Your Mood, Behavior, And Decisions (emphasis mine). Our book club not only reads books, but we work on the study guides that go along with the books we read. And, The Mind Connection has a great study guide for you to use. It helps you think about the topics more deeply and get more out of the whole experience.
I just love Joyce Meyer! If you have never ready any of her books, I strongly urge you to pick one up. Joyce writes from her heart and she writes in way that is easy to understand and follow. And, once you know her history, she will become an inspiration to you. But, this book in particular has been so helpful to me. I have already decided that I am going to re-read it again soon. And, it is one of those books that I now carry around with me, so I can quickly go back to certain sections when I need to.
For whatever reason, many people believe that they have no control over their thoughts, but it is not true! The main point of this book is for you to realize that YOU are the only person who can control your thoughts. Joyce points out that what you think about is reflected in your words, actions, decisions, and emotions. With God’s help, you can control what you think about. With God’s help, you can renew your mind and your thoughts. You can get better!
There is a question that Joyce asks in an earlier part of the book, that really struck a chord me with. She says, “I wonder how many blessings and provisions we miss in life because we simply have the wrong attitude. How often is God merely waiting to see how we respond to difficulty before He moves to help us?” My bet is A LOT! What do you think?
So, if you are like me, and over-think everything all the time, you need to read this book. You need to take all the great advice and recommendations in it to heart. It may take some time to wrap your head around it and to act upon the information in it. But, if you want to see changes in your life--if you truly want to change, with God’s help, you can! I know this is true because it is working for me right now.
Thanks to Joyce and her book, I am changing the way I think about things. And, I am NOT focusing on things or people like I used to. I am not where I want to be yet, but I am making progress. It is all about baby steps for me. I am handing off most of the stuff that I can’t deal with to God. And I am adjusting my thoughts to the good and positive things in my life. And, I plan on staying the course. Read this book and join me, won’t you?
I am a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light and any good thing that I come across.