The Thief

Many stores you visit have signs warning you that ‘Shoplifting is a crime’. Shoplifting is a form of theft. If caught, the business has the right to contact authorities. Police would then come to search the person and their bags to see what may be in their possession. This is their evidence. And evidence can lead to arrest.

In the Bible, we are warned about a thief- Satan himself. John 10:10 (NLT) tells us that “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” When Satan attacks us, he leaves behind evidence of his deceitful mission.

When our inner being becomes victim of the thief, we have the right to call on God, who is our authority (Romans 13:1). He can help us to sort through all the evidence, which will then lead to the prosecution of the enemy. We can hold onto the promise as John 16:11 declares, “Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.”

So, let us now focus on the evidence of the thief. Becoming aware of his schemes is like upgrading our own surveillance system.

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The thief’s purpose is to steal. The latter half of John 10:10 (NKJV) is Jesus telling us, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The thief comes to steal the abundance that God has promised us in scripture.

We are also given this promise, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”– Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT). If you do not feel these fruits being made manifest in your life, then Satan has certainly stolen them from your inner being.

The thief’s purpose is to kill. We are instructed to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”- Matthew 6:33 (NLT). The thief comes to kill the desire in us to live righteously. When we go against this instruction, we are living in sin.

Sin is evidence that the thief has come to kill God’s purpose for our lives. Colossians 3:5-10 urges us in this; “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.

The thief’s purpose is to destroy. The thief can destroy us by leaving wounds of anger, doubt, fear, anxiety, and pride.

But God is against these destructive ways of life.

  • Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.– Ephesians 4:31 (NLT)
  • But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.– James 1:5-6 (ESV)
  • Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.– Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV)
  • Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.– Matthew 6:34 (ESV)
  • Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!– Romans 12:16 (NLT)

We never know when the thief will come (Luke 12:39). However, we now know how to examine the evidence that he leaves in our possession. Today, turn the evidence over to God. Ask Him to restore all that’s been stolen, killed, and destroyed in your life.


“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast”- 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV).

Passion & Pursuit

The process for choosing an engagement ring can be both intimidating and exciting. You may be the one dreaming of your perfect ring. Or, maybe you’re the one buying that ring for someone else. Maybe you’ve already experienced the adventure of ring hunting. Regardless of your stance, my story to be told comes with a beautiful lesson.

When I was dating my (now) husband, I had my own ideas for what I wanted my perfect engagement ring to be. I always loved the idea of having three diamonds. One bigger diamond in the middle. Then, two smaller diamonds on either side of the middle one. I was not interested in the carat size, cut, or company for that matter. I was just in love with the style.

I came across some pictures in a magazine that resembled my favorite style. And I appointed my brother with the duty to some day share my favorite style with my partner if he ever asked.

Some time passed by, and of course my partner went to my brother to search for some ideas. After two years of dating, he proposed to me with a Hearts on Fire diamond ring. I remember him asking me ‘how much did I love this ring’. I said I’ve always wanted this style, and it was better than anything that I wanted!

Wait, style? What about the Hearts on Fire ring that I wanted? That is what I wanted, right? Well… not quite! I actually had NO idea what a Hearts on Fire diamond ring was.

My husband was crushed. I witnessed pure joy and pride flee from his body. After discussing his search for this perfect diamond ring, we discovered the root of the confusion. The pictures for inspiration that my brother sent him from the magazine were misinterpreted as me wanting that EXACT ring- from the Hearts on Fire collection.

It was no easy feat for my husband to find this particular ring. I would have been satisfied if he went to Kay Jewelers to buy my ring. And he would have done just that if they sold the Hearts on Fire diamond ring (that he thought I wanted). Instead, he searched high and low to find someone relatively local that sold the ring. He finally came across a small shop two hours away, and purchased MY ring.

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His valiant effort did not go unappreciated. I truly had no idea what value I was receiving in this particular ring. But, I was impressed by his passion to please me and his pursuit of fulfilling a promise.

What a beautiful lesson we can learn from this passion and pursuit. The effort to seek the best regardless of distance or circumstances. In this same way, we should strive to please and pursue God! We can achieve this by seeking Him.

Jeremiah 29:13 encourages us with this- You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (NIV). The good news is we don’t have to drive two or more hours to seek God.

But ‘how do we seek Him’ you might ask. We must go to Him in worship and in prayer. We must ask Him to reveal Himself to us. We must practice, study, and follow His word.

Just as I did not understand the value of my perfect ring, we should not undermine the value of God who exudes true perfection.

My groom displayed passion and pursuit to please his future bride and to fulfill a promise. We, too, should strive for this same passion and pursuit by seeking God with all our heart.


“But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.”- Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT)

Soldiers

When I was just a child, I had dreams of being in an army. Not the U.S. Army as you would like to think. Instead, in an army for the Lord.

I had visions of hundreds of children and teenagers like myself marching in sync. We were wearing camouflage green suits. Shouting in a sharp and crisp rhythm, “I’m a soldier in the army of the Lord”.

I was a leader.. a Sergeant, if you will. I had decided in my heart that I would lead people to God. Regardless of what battles I’d have to face, I was determined to make a stand for Him.

The possibility of this vision to be fulfilled is becoming more of a reality. I’ve been given this opportunity to be used by God to reach hundreds (if not more) through my blog posts.

So, not everything is as it seemed in my mind. I’m not wearing the camouflage green suit with hundreds of others and marching in sync down the streets of unknown places. But I am wearing my godly armor (Ephesians 6:10-18). I will continue to boldly and bravely proclaim, “I’m a soldier in the army of the Lord”.

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Unbeknownst to my childlike mind, God had already imparted scripture that encourages us to be a good soldier for Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3-4 & 10 reads;

(3) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (4) Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. (10) So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. 

A soldier will undoubtedly suffer hardships and afflictions, that’s part of the assignment. A good soldier of Christ means that you are able and competent to be a champion of the cause of Christ.

A soldier should maintain a clear mindset in order to lead other soldiers to war or battle. A soldier of Christ will not involve themselves in the businesses of others’ lives. Meaning we should not accommodate ourselves to the opinions, desires, and interests of others.

A U.S. Army soldier lives by the Seven Core Army Values and by their Warrior Ethos:

I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.

Ethos as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is ‘the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution.’ Here is what I studied and translated regarding our Ethos as a soldier of Christ:

I will persevere under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to my faith in Christ. I will bear bravely and calmly in everything, in every way, and in every relation. This is to promote his cause to those who are destined for salvation but have not yet been brought to it. And they will be rewarded, after the Savior’s return from heaven, to the promised glorious condition of blessedness that has no end. 

At GoArmy.com, their website is confident in stating that they’re “the team that makes a difference”.

For those of you who join this elite army of the Lord, I am confident that you’ll make a difference for the cause of Christ!


“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”- Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

Exposed

One of society’s toughest problems is that everything is made a competition. The delusion of perfection that we must be the most fit, to have the biggest house, to have the cookie-cutter family, or to buy into the latest trend.

This isn’t a new concept. It’s not a new struggle. Generation after generation, people deal with these same root problems. It’s just on a grander scale. We now have social media to put our life out there for the world to see.

Surely no one must be able to understand the shame that you feel. Especially when stuffing your face with potato chips, breads, or other tasty carbs. It just seems that everyone else is working out, eating healthy, and posting their amazing progress.

Oh wait, that’s me. Secretly stuffing my face while posting workout progress pictures. Also wondering if I’ll ever be that size or shape again.

Surely no one must be able to understand the ridicule that you feel. Especially when you have to explain that you don’t have enough finances. Whether to buy another product from someone’s party invite. Whether having the ability to lavish your child with the best toys and clothes. Whether turning a friend down from a dinner invite.

Oh wait, that’s me.. from a single-income family trying to make the best of our financial situation. While falling into the trap of the latest trend for clothes, books, jewelry, makeup, fitness resources, etc.

Surely no one must be able to understand the hurt that’s scarred from abuse that you’ve felt. Especially when you put a smile on your face for the world to see. ‘I’m fine.’, ‘Everything is well.’ Or is it?

Oh wait, that’s me.. I truly have been there. That’s another whole story. And while most days are well, there are those occasional days of distress.

Surely no one must be able to understand the doubt that you feel. Especially when you make a decision that goes against the majority of society. Whether in terms of parenting, political issues, speaking out about God, or some other hot topic.

Oh wait, that’s me. I have made choices for my child that even my spouse, parents, friends, and/or society disagrees with.

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You see friends, you’re not alone. Many of us suffer from these feelings. In fact, Jesus who is made perfect by way of God (Hebrews 5:8-9) also suffered from these very struggles. After all, He took on human form (Philippians 2:7) and flesh without God’s strength is weak (Matthew 26:41).

Jesus felt shame. The night that He was betrayed and arrested, He was brought before the high council. He was charged for making claims that He was the Son of God, the Messiah. Jesus did not deny the claim. As a result, the crowd jeered, spit on Him, and beat Him with their fists.- Matthew 26:47-67 (NLT)

Jesus felt ridicule. Before the Crucifixion, Jesus was mocked by the governor’s soldiers. They taunted Him for professing to be the King of Jews. They made a crown out of thorns and forced it into His head. They took off His clothes and covered Him in a scarlet robe. They gave Him a reed stick to resemble a scepter.- Matthew 27:27-31 (NLT)

Jesus felt abused. Not only was He beaten, He carried the weight of His own cross. Upon arriving to Golgotha, the soldiers drove stakes into Jesus’ hands and feet to nail Him to His cross. He also experienced verbal abuse as they spoke blasphemy toward Him.- Matthew 27:32-44 (NLT)

Jesus felt doubt. He was on the cross at noon when darkness overcame the land. After a grueling 3 hours, Jesus cried aloud to God. He asked His Father, “Why have you abandoned me?” before breathing His last breath.- Matthew 27:45-55 (NLT)

You see, my dear friends, Jesus was exposed for us. He became broken. His body was poured out. He bore all those things that we’ve suffered- to the highest extreme.

We should be mindful of, but not manipulated by, our feelings. We must not fall into the delusion of perfection. Furthermore, we shouldn’t let a tough problem or harmful experience determine our self worth.

I’m not asking you to expose your secrets with me or to the world. Just with Jesus- being broken, poured out, and thanking Him for baring it all. You will find that he understands. He will show you the way to be made perfect by way of Him.


For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”- Hebrews 10:14 (ESV)

Bee Stings

This past November, my mom, baby and I were traveling to visit my brother. We got up earlier than the sun since his home was a 3 hour drive away. We headed on down the road toward our destination. After about an hour and a half, we stopped at a rest area to feed and change the baby.

Once inside the restroom, I told my mom I felt like there was a stone in my boot. I surely needed to get it out before we left. No sooner did I finish my sentence, I felt a stinging pain in my toe. I was so overwhelmed by pain that I actually became lightheaded and things were a blur for a few short minutes.

I whipped off my boot and shook it only to watch a wasp crawl out. Our home had been infested with these wasps throughout the summer and fall. However, to my knowledge they were contained to the outside of our house.

Once I collected my thoughts, I became furious! Why didn’t we take care of them when the problem first began? I stewed on the pain some more and shifted the blame to my husband (who wasn’t even present when I got stung)!

Nevertheless, we had a destination to get to by a certain time. So, I got back in the driver’s seat and we headed on down the road again.

I prayed aloud to God saying, “I don’t know your purpose for wasps, but you created them anyway. I don’t know why I got hurt, but I know you work out everything for my good anyway.” Today, God revealed to me something incredible about the situation that occurred that day.

When we get stung by bees we do whatever we can to relieve the pain.

I wrapped my toe in a baby wipe (that’s all I had initially on hand). Then, upon arriving to my brother’s house I took ibuprofen and coated my toe in honey.

On the contrary, when we get stung by people we tend to relive the pain.

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Let that sink in for a minute. I for one have been guilty of this very thing! When someone has hurt my feelings I’ve held onto that pain. And for a very long time- I keep reliving it.

If we let a bee sting go untreated it swells up at the site, the pain throbs harder, and in worse cases can become infected. Similar symptoms occur if we let a hurt caused by someone go untreated. Our hearts swell from anger, pain throbs the longer we think on it, and our attitude toward them or even others can become infected.

So here’s our 3-step plan of treatment:

1st- Forgive them. That’s right, we may need to swallow our pride and be the first to forgive. Just as Jesus forgives us when we continue to mess up or hurt his feelings.

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. -Galatians 4:32 (NLT)

2nd- Give them grace. Showing them free and unmerited favor. Just as Jesus extends grace to us when we don’t deserve it.

And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved. -Romans 11:6 (NLT)

3rd- Love them. Whether you say this aloud or just within your heart, resolve to love them through the hurt they’ve caused. Just as Jesus loves us.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. -John 13:34-35 (NLT)

Friends, let’s call upon Jesus to help us relieve those stings caused by people.


“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”- Romans 8:28 (NLT)