I’m gonna get you…
My sons had turned our dining table and kitchen island into something similar to a figure-eight race track traversed by two pint-sized, foot-powered drivers filled with road rage.
One had done something to the other and an all-too familiar altercation ensued as the younger one chased the older intent on inflicting bodily harm.
My older son screeched out his plea for protection.
As calmly as I could, I told him to have a seat on the bench at our table, so that I could stand between him and his brother’s flailing fists.
But he was too afraid to stop running and to climb up behind me. He continued to bolt from his brother while lapping the kitchen several more times screaming for me to save him.
“I can’t protect you, if you won’t do what I say.”
Despite the chaos swirling around my kitchen, the gravity of that statement hit me full force as soon as the words left my mouth.
How often have I petitioned God for protection while running from His direction?
How many times have I cried out to God to help me as I continued to turn a deaf ear to His instruction?
I look for His wisdom but don’t make time in my day for Him. I ask for Him to guard my marriage yet refuse to submit to my husband. I beseech Him to take care of my children but don’t teach them His ways. I want Him to shield me in an uncomfortable situation yet won’t lay down my pride. I want Him to protect my prosperity but have trusted more in money and fame than in Him. I beg Him to keep me from harm but continue to act recklessly. I call on Him to protect my reputation but proceed in gossip-worthy activities. I pray for healing but won’t treat my body as the temple He created it to be.
My Heavenly Father is not obligated to provide protection when I fail to do as He says.
Not that God is incapable of anything, but rather by my sin I place myself under the authority of another, inferior ruler. One who seeks only my demise and rejoices as my transgressions increase my vulnerability to his attacks. However, for the sake of His Son’s sacrifice, God has delivered believers from the power of darkness and conveyed us into His Kingdom (Colossians 1:13). With our belief, He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide, protect, and lead us in all truth (John 16:13).
Jesus was punished once and for all for our transgressions to ensure salvation for those who believe in Him. As children of God, we can expect to be disciplined for our sins. This is sanctifying, purifying, cleansing work, not punishment. Our salvation is not dependent on our ability to obey His commands, but Scripture tells us that protection is conditional:
He holds victory in store for the upright,
He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
For He guards the course of the just and
Protects the way of His faithful ones.(Proverbs 2:7-8)
We are made upright, blameless, just, and faithful by Jesus Christ's sacrifice. When we submit ourselves to Him, the devil will flee from us (James 4:7). When we walk in obedience to Him, His Word assures us that we will live, prosper, and prolong our days (Deuteronomy 5:33). We may not understand all His ways, but those who trust and obey are able to walk in the assurance of His eternal protection.
God’s direction is for our protection.
Word of the Day:
“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you in all truth.” John 16:13
Thank you for Your flawless direction in my life. Help me all my days to walk where Your Holy Spirit guides me, so that I may be found blameless and bold in the face of trouble. Teach me to trust and obey You in all things. As I follow where you lead, surround me with Your perfect protection.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Author: Liz Giertz
Some days I enjoy the short-lived illusion of reigning supreme over my little slice of life.
But in general, as an Army wife, I’ve come to the conclusion that most things are way beyond my control.
The Army dictates when and where we move, what my husband’s job will be, if he will get to keep it, and if he will be selected for the next promotion. The mission determines when we will be authorized to take a family vacation and when his life may be put in danger with another deployment.
Truth is that most of us, Army or otherwise, have very little real authority in our own lives. We face situations each day that leave us feeling helpless.
Other people choose to say and do things that are hurtful.
Children throw temper tantrums at the most inopportune times.
Cutbacks and a poor economy cost people jobs and pensions.
Fires and storms destroy homes.
Accidents cause delays and take lives.
Illnesses plague loved ones.
Infertility and miscarriage leave longing arms empty.
No matter how out of my control things may seem, I know that nothing is out of God’s control.
Every detail of my life, no matter how great or small, falls under His dominion.
Our circumstances are tools that God uses to shape and mold us into His image. When faced with trials and the chastening of The Lord it may feel painful at the time, but it produces the fruit of righteousness if we will allow ourselves to be trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).
He has given us free will in responding to our circumstances. Our reactions and responses are choices within our control. His hope is that we will choose rightly.
Anger or grace when provoked?
Fear or faith for His provision when our income doesn’t match our desires?
Disappointment or hope of eternal resurrection when faced with death?
Turn my back on Him or lean into His love for me?
Worry about my situation or expect His peace to fill me as I pray and give thanks?
Unfortunately, when I allow my emotions to determine my reactions to life situations, I usually end up feeling even more out of control. All too frequently, I choose poorly. My flesh is prone to anger, selfishness, doubt, insecurity, and worry.
So, the only way to choose rightly is to relinquish all vestiges of control over my responses to the power and authority of the Holy Spirit who lives and longs to reign in me.
We know that as believers in Christ, we have been set free from the sway of sin (Romans 6:7) and not even death has dominion over us (Romans 6:9). Because of our faith, God has given us His Spirit to live inside us (Romans 8:11). That Spirit frees us when we willingly submit ourselves to it (Galatians 5:18).
The Spirit steers me toward grace, mercy, generosity, faith, peace, and love.
The more authority we give the Holy Spirit over our flesh, the more in control of our responses we feel.
Instead of trying to regulate all the details of our lives, in Paul’s first letter to Peter, he exhorts us to pass all our cares off on to God, to submit to His authority, and live confidently because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:6-7).
Because we know God loves us, we will live courageously at peace, well-pleased that He is in control and we are not.
Word of the Day: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
Dear Heavenly Father,
Forgive me for all the times when I have wanted to be in control. Thank You no matter how far out of my control this life may become, You are always ready to guide me toward hope and prosperity. May I live according to your divine plan and always glorify you in my responses to my circumstances. Amen.
“But, I didn’t hear you.”
“I’m too tired.”
“But first I need to…”
“I don’t know how.”
My kids consistently fall back on these excuses when I have told them to do something they are less than thrilled about doing. I probably used the same ones as a child.
If I’m honest, not much has changed in nearly 40 years.
My Mom doesn’t assign me many chores these days, but God does, and all too often my responses mirror those my boys give me. I’ve even added a few new ones.
“But she is so much better at that than I am.”
“We don’t have the money!”
“What if I’m no good?”
“I don’t have that kind of time.”
Can you relate? Have you given God similar answers?
“But, God I….”
I’ve learned when I feel most like I can’t accomplish what God is nudging me toward, those are the times when God wants me to fully rely on Him.
When my inadequacies are most staggering, God’s power and provision will be most evident.
God calls me to deny my selfish flesh and all its fears and commit myself implicitly to Him.
Independence is often my goal when I ask my boys to accomplish a task. I will be there for them if they need help, but I don’t want to be tying their shoes or brushing their teeth when they are teenagers. God, on the other hand, beckons us to increased dependence on His promise.
Jesus knew what it was like to be asked by His Father to accomplish a task about which he harbored reservations.
After the passover meal, Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to stand watch as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that Jesus prayed to His Father three times, “If this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:36-46, NKJV). The study notes in my Bible explain that it was not His suffering and death that caused Him this anguish, but rather the knowledge that He would, for a time, be separated from His Father. Even facing the cup of God’s wrath as punishment for our sins, Jesus prayed, “Your will be done.”
And so it was.
Jesus was arrested, beaten, crucified and died as the final sacrifice for a broken, sinful world and for my own sins. Jesus is Emmanuel, God With Us, and because he was forsaken for our transgressions, we live with the confidence that nothing will ever separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:37-39 NKJV).
This blessed assurance that He is with me into eternity emboldens me to go where He calls.
Knowing that He is already there beckoning me gives me courage to wander where He wills.
When I fear failure, the image of him gently catching me in His loving arms brings me peace.
Remembering that all I have comes from Him inspires me to give more freely of my time, talents and treasure. His great love for me poured out on the cross conquers every single one of my excuses.
If God calls us to something, we can be certain that He will carry us through it.
The power of God With Us turns our “But, God…” into “Your will be done!”
Word of the Day
“Yet, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height more depth, nor any other created things, shall be able to separate us froth love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 37-39 NKJV)
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that Your very own Son was forsaken so that I would not have to endure Your wrath. Forgive me for the times I fail to rely on your power and provision. Remind me always that You are with me no matter what may come. When You call on me to accomplish something for Your glory, help me by Your Holy Spirit to answer, “Your will be done!” Amen.
Author: LIz Giertz
I longed to do something fun with my children, to treat them to a little something special for a change.
We were stuck in a terrible rut of misbehavior and punishment. Constantly doling out discipline left me feeling exhausted and empty. I wanted to see their smiles instead of their tears.
My older boy had been begging to go to Barnes and Noble for weeks, but I kept putting him off, using the excuse that his room held stacks of books of which he had yet to crack the spine. But, one Friday afternoon I relented and surprised both boys with an impromptu date - a treat in the cafe and their choice of a new book.
Everything started out fine. I even managed to graciously replace the pastry my 9 year old selected and then decided after one bite he didn’t care for with something a little sweeter.
The trouble began when we made our way to the children’s section so they could select their books. My six year old was drawn like a moth to a flame toward a display of Elf on a Shelf toys. Not a book.
He mustered all his manners to negotiate for the doll instead of the book.
I remained firm, insisting that I had offered to buy him a new book, not a toy on this trip.
I knew that the elf would be fun for a while, but at some point it would become burdensome to maintain the ruse and I would be caught. Then, his disillusionment with the “magic” would produce major repercussions.
That is when he crossed his arms, turned on his heels and marched to the farthest corner of the low benches around the tree used for story time. He pulled his feet up to his chest rested his head on his knees.
I made numerous attempts to comfort him, but each time he became even more agitated. When I approached him, he would turn his back to me and stomp away. Once, he even shoved me out of his space.
My heart ached, longing to comfort him even though I had no intention of giving in to his demands. As his mother, I knew a book was the option with lasting value.
How many times have I put God in a similar position?
How many times have I demanded instant gratification, despite the short-term value?
How many times have I insisted on getting my way, even when it may lead me away from His plans for me?
How many times have I fixating on my desired outcome, begging Him to answer my prayers the way I want so I’d know He loved me?
Then, how many times have I shifted away when He didn’t deliver the way I deemed best, thinking ‘If God really loved me He would have…’?
It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for what we want. God wants us to share our heart’s desires with Him. But even more than that He longs for our desires to be in line with His purposes. He wants us to want what He wants for us. Just as I was concerned with my son’s long term well-being, so is our Heavenly Father more interested in giving us the things that have long term benefits than those that yield only earthly or immediate pleasure, even if they seem perfectly reasonable and good to us.
Friends, it is so much easier to accept His will for our lives when we begin to understand that God is deeply invested in bestowing blessings with eternal impact.
Today, let's take time to delight in God's great love, and remember that He deeply desires for us to understand that He has our best intentions in mind even when things don't go how we planned. As we allow Him to captivate our hearts, our desires will begin to align with His perfect plan which will protect us from the lies of the enemy.
Word of the Day: Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for being the giver of all good gifts. Please forgive me when I insist on getting my own way. By your Holy Spirit lead me instead to desire your goodness for me. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Author: Liz Giertz
As a girl growing up in Northern Virginia, we took family vacations all up and down the East Coast. This was back in the days before GPS and in-dash navigation systems and well, if I have to admit it, before cell phones and MapQuest, too. Every once in awhile we would struggle to get from point A to point B, and my Dad would exclaim, “We can’t get there from here!”
I carried on the tradition, non-intentionally, many years ago on a camping trip to the Outer Banks when the road literally ran into the ocean. There “may” have been signs warning us of this hazard, but we must not have believed it at the time. Standing on the beach, we could see where we needed to go, but without a ferry or a bridge, we were stuck.
Now, our family faces a similar situation: we live less than a mile from the boys’ elementary school, but there is no safe way to walk or bike there. Between our house and the most direct route to the school looms a large overgrown area with water, sometimes stagnant and other times flowing. Apparently, one of my sons’ friends played in that ditch once and found a very large snake (there is no way I’d cross that ditch alone). We need a bridge.
Like that ditch, standing between heaven and me looms this overgrown, sometimes frightening chasm of my sin that I cannot cross on my own. Sometimes I find myself wallowing in that mess, and the evil serpent, Satan, pulls me back and convinces me I’m never going to make it. Like, when I realize I’ve lost my temper with my kids for the umpteenth time in one day. It is then that guilt washes over me as I hear his attacks:
“You are a terrible mother!”
“You’ve messed up too bad.”
“What if your kids grow up hating you?” or worse yet,
“What if your kids grow up just like you?”
Like quicksand, he drags me down, as his lies threaten to convince me that I will never reach righteousness from where I stand.
But the truth is: I already have a bridge; I already possess righteousness… and you can have it, too.
When we were unable to reach God, He spanned the distance with His very own Son’s sacrifice. We did not build this bridge ourselves, but we can choose to cross it by faith in Jesus Christ. His blood alone brings us near to God (Ephesians 2:13). He bridges the gap between us and eternity in heaven.
The words of the bible are the most powerful road sign we could ever hope to have guiding us on this journey. We CAN get there from here if we simply believe in Him and the power of His sacrifice to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Not only is Jesus the bridge, but when we rely on Him, He will pluck us out of the miry clay, place our feet on solid ground, wash us off and point us in the right direction (Psalm 40:2).
Have you walked this bridge? If you have, don’t let the lies and discouragement of Satan pull you down. Stand firm on Jesus, His righteousness earned on your behalf, and the promise that no one can snatch you out of His hand (John 10:28).
If you haven’t, don’t let another day go by separated from God’s grace. He freely offers a relationship with Himself and eternal life to all who will believe on His Son, Jesus, the bridge to heaven. Don’t let the chasm of your sin discourage you-- Christ’s sacrifice has the ability to erase your past and set before you a bright future. Pray the prayer below knowing that when you call out to God through faith in Jesus Christ, you become forever united with Him through the “bridge” of Jesus.
Word of the Day:
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13
Dear Heavenly Father, I understand that when I couldn’t “get there from here,” you came to me through the power and the person of Jesus Christ. Thank you for reaching down from heaven, pulling me up out of my sin and drawing me closer to you. Thank you that I am forgiven when I fail and fall. I ask that today you would guide my steps and keep me from wallowing in my own shortcomings. Help me to always cling to the truth of Your word and Your perfect love for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Author: Liz Giertz