Guarding Your Heart Series Pt. 4a-Pray

wpid-2014-05-22-13.01.17.jpg.jpeg
“DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING, BUT IN EVERY SITUATION,

BY PRAYER AND PETITION, WITH THANKSGIVING, PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS TO GOD.”

Philippians 4:6

I think the 25th and 26th years of my life were the worst years of my life so far. I had trouble in every area of my life. My health, my marriage, my emotional/mental health, my job, my friends, my family.  This verse in this series is where I have to get real with y’all. Prayer is a discipline that none of us can afford to take lightly.  It is the way we talk to God, fight spiritual battles, and find the comfort we need.  In all honesty, sometimes prayer can be the discipline that frustrates us the most when God is silent, or we disagree with the answer. Even in writing this, I know this will be more than one part because I really want you to understand what God is saying to you through this verse.  I can’t be long-winded here because too many of us have an issue with anxiety.  Some of us more than others.  When I was little, I used to get too excited about holidays, field trips, birthdays, and various events that produced anxiety in my heart.  I didn’t have an anxiety issue but my nervousness showed itself in my health through stomach viruses, without fail, around these times. My gut couldn’t take the unknown. Even if it was good! I was saved a young age and I remember thanking God in my teenage years that I did not have an anxiety disorder like other girls I knew in high school who struggled with depression and panic attacks.  My day was coming.

Two years ago I had the WORST boss of my life. I will spare details for another post about your purpose and career, but during that year and a half of my 25th/26th year, I was drowning. I barely had any support and no one understood what I was going through. I suffered from depression and anxiety. The overwhelming feeling of dread. The feeling you would probably get if you saw a killer coming towards you and you know that they will do the worst possible things imaginable to you, not if, but when they catch you- triggered by the thought of going to the office. If you have not experienced severe anxiety or panic attacks, thank God. However, I know so many of you have experienced this.  I asked God why, I wanted Him to take it away, and I truthfully, felt prideful about dealing with it.  (My name is Joy :/ I have a psychology degree. I’ve counseled people through this. I know my purpose is to be used by God to walk others through their deliverance from depression and anxiety. So why me?)

Experience, with God, is the best teacher. I understood what this was, based on my college textbooks and WebMD, but when I went through it, God gave me empathy.  When I say I know what you are going through, trust me, I do. However, today, I am healed. I am delivered. I am set free.  This verse was brought to me in a time of prayer by the Holy Spirit when I was broken, hurt, and desperate for more of God in my life. (If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, feel free to email me at 21verses@gmail.com)

“Do not be anxious”, I read to myself.  “Do not be anxious….about, … ANYTHING?” I felt God’s presence rise in my heart as He comforted me and reminded me of His Word.
Do. Do NOT. Do not BE ANXIOUS. Do not be anxious about  ANY  THING! Any circumstance, any one, any job, any friend, any pain, any decision, any THING.
And the Word of God is so clear to us sisters. God says to you today, about your marriage, about your future spouse, about your money, about your purpose, about your career, about your family, about your children:

“DO NOT FRET OR HAVE ANXIETY ABOUT ANYTHING”- Amplified Version
God has set you free. If you belong to Jesus, you have already been set free from the gripping pains of depression and anxiety. I understand that you will believe it is easier said than done, but that is a lie. The enemy, your adversary, is purposely trying to make you believe that you are not set free. If you are a Christian, your salvation is secured and the enemy cannot take that away. So what can he do? He can try to take your peace. The peace of God that will guard your heart and mind, that is already yours.

So what if you are not dealing with anxiety?
Single sisters, worrying, fretting, or constantly fantasizing about the future is a state of being anxious. Married sisters and mothers, worrying if your spouse is cheating, constantly wondering if your children are ok or if your husband will ever change is being anxious. Jesus says in Matt. 6:25-33 to not be anxious about your life! This passage talks about food, clothing, and your lifespan, but in later verses it says “what shall we eat?”…Is it not true that sometimes we’ve said “Who shall we marry?”
He follows that up with: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” This passage is not about marriage, so don’t get ahead of yourself. Marriage itself is not a promise. Jesus wants your complete dependence on HIM. That’s the point of the passage. Seek first His Kingdom!

For any woman, married or single: Seek first His Kingdom.
Pray. Prayer is how we express our dependence on God. Pray that you will not be anxious about anything, but that He will show you what His will is for you. His will for you is to be free from the anxieties that accompany everything in your life. As the Lord’s beloved, you do not have to be anxious today, tomorrow, or ever. Go to God in prayer, because He is there, He is listening, and He desires our total dependence on Him.
He will gain your absolute attention sister, no matter what.
-Joy
Advertisements

What A Friend We Have in Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.
– Joseph M. Scriven, 1855

Guarding Your Heart Pt. 3- Chill Out

wpid-1400186183109.jpg

“LET YOUR GENTLE SPIRIT BE KNOWN TO ALL MEN. THE LORD IS NEAR.”

Philippians 4:5 (NASB)

Deaconess Rubella. LOL No one knows who this lady is but if you were raised in a predominately African American all black church, one of many on-going, church jokes is about this church woman. She isn’t real, but then again, she is. She’s the one who gives you “the look” when you check your phone in church, or says “SHH!”way too loud if you snicker at a friend’s joke.  She’s the parking space and sanctuary seat regulator with a short, ill-mannered attitude. The modesty mafia. She’s probably nosy, a busybody, or both.  You avoid her at all costs at church events, services, and possibly in the street because she annoys your soul! You want to tell her to CHILL OUT! It’s not that deep! lol. I think this woman exists in all types churches and comes in all races, shapes, and ages; I can only speak from personal experience.

The major issue with this type of woman in the church is that her countenance is antithetical of Christ-like character and nature. Serving, but without love (1 Cor. 13). Her heart and actions don’t reflect Jesus. People talk about her and get offended by her actions because they expect to encounter a woman who serves with the heart of Jesus and at the same time is real about her imperfections. Pray to forgive your Ms. Rubella if you’re having a hard time with the woman like this in your family or church.

What does this have to do with guarding your heart?

We are going through Philippians 4 to see what the Bible has to say about guarding your heart. Part of this includes personal responsibility, to be in a position to let God work in our hearts so it may be guarded.  Phil. 4:5 can be summarized by saying that Paul is encouraging us to let our fair, gracious, just, and gentle demeanor be known to everyone around us. Paul is communicating to have a spirit of grace that is mild in temper and self-controlled in the midst of others offending, or possibly offending God. Why? The Lord is coming back for a bride that reflects His likeness and at that time, He will set all things into place (Eph. 5).  (In support of this, I encourage you to read Ephesians 5, which explains what we should be doing because God is working in us to present us to Himself.  While we are focused on our current marriages or waiting for marriage, we have to understand that as a Christian, all of us are awaiting the return of Christ.)

The Bible calls us the bride of Christ and ultimately we cannot lose sight of this since the primary reason marriage exists is to display Christ’s relationship with His bride, the church.  Eph. 5 is always used at weddings and in marriage studies, but we forget about verses 1-21!

The bride of Christ can be known as a Deaconess Rubella. We know that the church is known for being hypocritical and judgmental; especially in the area of dating and relationships! We impose our ideas of who people should marry, how they should date, establish boundaries in dating/courtship, what we should call it, etc., on everyone! Let’s clarify for a second.

God’s word and His Spirit are the standard for all these things in life. You could say, “Well, aren’t you telling us how we should see dating and marriage in this blog?” The purpose of this blog is to communicate God’s word and help you search the Bible for yourself for possibly a better, less stressful way to deal with this topic. My experiences are only testimonies to how God has helped me with my courtship and in marriage.

I won’t digress, however, these passages support the primary point I have been making in these posts. Your goal as a Christian woman is not to be the best wife, mom, single woman or “fill in the blank” you can be. Your objective is to be a follower of Jesus. He will empower you by His Spirit to be all that you need to be in all these occupations.

Here’s the relationship stuff:

  • As a single woman, chill out. Don’t be so uptight about your standards or how others are conducting their relationships. Seek God about how to set up boundaries and steer clear from actions that are obviously sin to God. Don’t ask questions like “How far can we go?” rather ask “How can I reflect Your standard today God?” or “God, can you show me what parts of my standards or expectations are not like nor from You?”
  • As a married woman, chill out. Don’t impose your standard of what worked for you in your courtship period on single sisters. Share, but don’t be a legalist.

Basically, CHILL OUT! Some of us get tangled up in legalism. We really need to relax. Let the peace of God rule your heart. So what if the young lady you mentor didn’t take your dating advice? So what if your friend keeps going back to that bad relationship? So what if she married him against your counsel?

So what?!

Leave it with God and extend grace. You have the right to offer your opinion and share what God lays on your heart to a sister about her relationship. However, watch how you communicate it, make sure it’s from time well spent with Jesus, and if you are in doubt don’t say anything and PRAY!   Phil. 4:5 for the reader is a great reminder that Jesus will return to set all things straight, but in the meantime, be characterized by a spirit of grace and gentleness. Let the peace of God rule your heart.

See you next week.

 

 

Guarding Your Heart Pt 2: Rejoice!

“REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS. I WILL SAY IT AGAIN, REJOICE!”

 Philippians 4:4

We examined what it means when we guard our hearts from the sin that can affect others in the previous post and I shared a little about why this series is so important to me in the intro.  Let’s recap briefly:

  • this series is not for singles only
  • the Bible was not written for one type of role (men/women, husband/wife, single/married)
  • the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for salvation of your soul and to transform you into His image
  • guarding your heart is not primarily about protecting yourself from relational damage or getting too deep into a relationship
  • you cannot guard your own heart, in your own power, by yourself

Proverbs 4:23 speaks of guarding your heart in the context of protecting your own motives and intentions (which can be deceitful when not submitted to the lordship of the Holy Spirit) from leaving a train wreck of relational and spiritual damage through life.

And so, as we comb through Philippians 4, I want to extend a similar greeting to you seen in Phil. 4:1-3:

I love you and I thank God for you. However you got here, I know by the leading of God’s Spirit, you were brought to this blog to hear from God. There is nothing miraculous from this screen, on these specific pages, on this particular site, on your specific computer. But the power of God can transform you into His likeness as you seek to study His word through resources like this. But know this; there is something miraculous about your life and how God will reach down from His heavenly throne to ensure that you are reading this right now, at this time in your life. Be encouraged by the remainder of this series. I pray you contend for the gospel of Jesus Christ, seek to live out His perfect will for your life and do not waiver when you get the answer from God you are searching for regarding your heart.

——————————————————–

God gave me Philippians 4 as a guide during my courtship period with Brian. He allowed me to first see that in Philippians 4:4, in all things I must rejoice. At the time, rejoicing was last on my list. I thought I could do that when I got married, on my wedding day after waiting for so long in abstinence.

As a single person, I thought sorrow was for the single person, and rejoicing for the married. (all the married people reading this are laughing at my 20-yr-old self right now)

The word “rejoice” here in the Greek means to “take delight in the favor and grace of God”. The basic, English definition of rejoice is to be glad, to make joyful, or to take delight.I was not taking delight in my circumstances. I hated where I was and little did I know, rejoicing while dating, engaged, and in marriage was and is a fight.  Today I fight for joy. I fight to say “blessed be the name of the Lord” and to tell my heart to praise the Lord.

This is why God was showing me that guarding the heart is not for the single person.

It is something that God will do for you as you rejoice. Take delight in the Lord Jesus sisters. He will be the delight and contentment of your heart when you have not properly guarded those doors to your heart and when what is not like Him, rises to burden you, hurt someone you love, or respond negatively to hurt you have received.

The Bible says to sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:18-20), your delight should be in His word or law (Ps. 1:1-3), and to delight yourself in Him (Ps. 37:4). God’s word makes mention many times of delighting in Him and rejoicing in Him. Rejoice in God’s grace and favor this week. Sisters the enemy, Satan, would love to categorize you and make you think that what God has given you at this time in your life is not how things should be. I fight against this lie daily. But I have to remind myself to rejoice; to take delight in the beautiful grace and abundant favor God has given me in my life.

See you next week.

———————————————————————————

  • Are you still single? What grace has God given you and what favor can you see in your life outside of this one area?
  • Are you married? What grace has God given you and what favor can you see in your life outside and inside of you marriage?
  • How can you take time out of your day to delight in the favor and grace of God?

Guarding Your Heart: Part 1

wpid-2014-05-01-20.35.01.jpg.jpegWe have a natural desire to be protected. Women like protection. One of the primary roles of a husband is to protect himself, wife and family from all types of danger. The type of danger that is often thought of is physical, like an intruder or robber. What about emotional danger and mental danger? Danger that stems from himself? His own heart?

To guard your heart is not just for the singles in waiting. It’s for all of us; especially in marriage.

When most people speak of guarding the heart it is in the context of dating or courtship, where we are advised to keep our deepest feelings to ourselves, be wise regarding our vulnerable state, and to not fall too hard for someone who is not our spouse. After all, even if you are engaged, you aren’t married. You are dedicated or committed to that person you will pledge your heart to, but you are not one in the sight of God until you are wed.

So why do we spend so much time preparing everyone for the dating/waiting period when marriage is almost 50-100xs longer the dating period?

I hated being taught about how to date “the right way”. By the first year of my courtship with Brian, I was so sick of reading dating books. It was repulsive!

Christian dating culture would like to teach that dating prepares you for divorce because it teaches that if the dates with this person does not go the way you want, you can move on. It teaches that courtship is such a better word because your mindset is “different”. Well what about those whose courtship doesn’t work out because two people aren’t willing to deal with sin? My “courtship” before Brian was heading towards marriage, but there was so much I was not willing to submit to in that man, I couldn’t bear the thought of it being God’s will, which it was not. That courtship came to and end. (I plan to tell that story another day.)

People aren’t willing to sacrifice. They aren’t willing to fight.

The mindset of training Christians to court seems a little skewed as well. Teach me how to be married. Because on the other side of “I Do”, the enemy lies in wait to attack you and your spouse with more them temptation to cheat. The temptation to give up, to lie, to hold back, to attack, to blame, to be unloving, to be unforgiving, to run, to hide, to be selfish all waits for you to give in so that your marriage will cease. Ladies there is a better way. Teach the cross. Teach us how to be like Jesus. He is giving, truthful, comforting, accepting, understanding, loving, forgiving, always present, available, compassionate, selfless, and unfailing. Teach me how to be like Jesus. He perfectly submitted to the Father, so He can teach me how to submit to my husband. He perfectly cleaned up my life, so He can teach me how to clean up a home. He loves perfectly, so surely He will teach me how to love. He perfectly forgave me, so He is the One who can teach us to forgive the biggest offense that hurts the deepest. Teach me how to be like Jesus. Don’t give me a book on biblical womanhood, dating/courtship, or waiting patiently. Give me the Bible.

Teach me how to be like Jesus because that’s how you teach someone to be married.

We are not defined by our titles: female, single, wife, sister, mother, daughter, friend. You are a follower of Christ first if you have been saved. You can learn to be better at all these titles and get the recognition from your circle for being such a great (fill in the blank). But all glory goes to God for being what you are because He has given you the tools to be her or taught you how to be her (Philippians 3). God has given you His word to help transform your life. He has given you His word, the Bible, to transform your heart. God cares about your heart and that’s why he speaks of it so much. Hebrews 4 explains that God has allowed Jesus to be the way in which we enter into perfect rest. It tells us that His word discerns our hearts and will cut to the deepest parts that expose the darkness within that can cause us to sin, cause harm to others, and to ourselves. The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:8-9 that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately sick;who can understand it?“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind,to give every man according to his ways,according to the fruit of his deeds.”’

We don’t guard our hearts just from things getting in, we guard them from what could come out (Matt.5:10-12)

Wow! So how can you guard something and YOU don’t even know what’s there? That’s like someone asking you to guard what’s behind a huge door, with no weapons, because if you let that whatever is in there out, you will die. Wouldn’t you want to know what’s behind the door? And possibly ask if there is someone more equipped to guard the door?

There IS someone more equipped to guard you from the dangers of yourself. Jesus sees everything in your heart and in your potential spouse’s/spouse’s/boyfriend’s heart too. You can’t guard your heart. You can obey God, who is the keeper of your heart and do whatever He needs you to do to be where you need to be to resist the temptation of the enemy and prevent you from making a decision that is outside of His will.

There’s more to this thing than we think. See you next week.

Read Philippians 4 and Proverbs 4 and study the passages above until next time. God’s Spirit will show you how they apply to your life (John 14:25-27).

Gospel Groundwork: Unashamed

image

There are many reasons to talk about the gospel.

The reason the groundwork in your heart is so important, is because there are many life issues that have to be addressed from this one place. The book of Mark shows us what Jesus says about our hearts: ‘And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” -Mark 7:14-16

Within your heart are the darkest of secrets. We all have them.  I once heard someone say that no one would want the thoughts of their hearts played on a screen in Times Square New York.  It’s true.  We know ourselves well enough to know that we aren’t perfect. The most sinister person you know is you.  Well, some of us are in denial and would like to think that there is some sort of innate good in us. The craze of the modern world and some theologians is that goodness is truly in us. We would like to believe that humankind is good sisters, but that is not the case. Ask the next two year old child you know, with an agenda to touch, hit, run, or knock over something, to stop and their first response will be that of rebellion, not obedience. Besides the obvious examples that are seen all around us that display man’s wicked heart, our condition is best explained in the Bible. 

Before we touch 21 verses of Romans 12 and talk about how we are to apply them to our lives, we must plant in our hearts the essential truth of the gospel. We can’t talk about being a “living sacrifice” or “clinging to what is good” without knowing how we can be those things or who can help us live like this. Let’s use an abridged version of Romans 1-11 to help us see who we are, what the issue of life is, why we need Jesus, and how we can accept His solution.

(If you feel like a superchristian and think you can skip this part, don’t.)

Romans chapters 1-3 gives some of the bad news concerning life. Paul, the writer, starts with a statement in chapter 1:16, almost as a declaration of this good, bad news that will result in great news. Being unashamed of the gospel of Jesus doesn’t mean being only unashamed of the best news, but also unashamed of the worst. He’s not afraid to say that those who reject God’s law and constantly seek lawless living will be left to their evil ways (Rom. 1:28-32). He doesn’t hide the fact that God will judge anyone who doesn’t accept Him and follow His laws. He calls out the religious person, and anyone who is pointing out all the flaws and sin in others, but doesn’t realize that we are all on the list for God’s wrath and judgment. Paul also isn’t ashamed to say, yes, only God can judge you, but based on your spiritual condition, that judgment won’t be based on what you do, where you are from, or how moral you think you are. It will be based on the sin that lies in your heart, separating you from God, reminding you that you can’t keep any of His laws (Rom. 2&3).

This isn’t a guilt trip. If you are a Christian, you can’t be afraid to bring up the sin problem to someone who isn’t a follower of Jesus. We all have sin, none of us are righteous, and not one of us seeks after God. (Rom. 3:9-12). Some of you don’t know that Jesus made a way for you be free from the punishment for your sin and a way to be in a relationship with God. Here’s more truth that you and I don’t have to be ashamed of: God loves you and sent Jesus to die to take the wrath of God you and I deserve. That’s where the bad news changes to great news. You can have a relationship with Jesus.

Stick with me to hear more about what you can or will be freed from and what Jesus did for you and I as the groundwork continues.

Have you asked God to forgive your sin? Have you accepted that Jesus died in your place? You can be forgiven and you can enjoy a life as a friend of the God of the universe. Ask God to show you who He is. He will show up.

If you are a follower of Jesus, ask God to show you what work needs to be done in your heart so you can walk closer to Him. Ask God to help you be unashamed of the truths in His gospel. He will show up.