Squirrel!

In my quest to get things done, I keep running into distractions. Ever have those? Distractions – little SQUIRREL! moments that lead you off onto something else, which leads to something else, and before long, you’ve totally forgotten that first thing that was oh, so important. Or was it? What was I talking about? Hm…

See what I mean? SQUIRREL!

Ah, but isn’t this exactly what the devil would like to happen? To get us so distracted from the task God gave us that we completely forget we were on a mission. Yes! You. Me. On a mission.

You see, while we toddle around, trying to discover our purpose in life, trying to figure out who we truly are, trying to decide what we’re supposed to be doing today and worrying about what we’re going to do tomorrow, we are missing the truth which gets hidden in the shuffle.

SQUIRREL!

You know, I like squirrels; the furry, four-legged kind that steal your birdseed from your bird feeders and dart out in front of your car as you drive down the road. But the distracting SQUIRREL! moments… I don’t like. Granted, some SQUIRREL! moments can be healthy, especially when it’s a Holy SQUIRREL! moment. Ever had one of those?

A Holy SQUIRREL! moment is one in which the Holy Spirit interrupts your thoughts, conversation, prayer, your whole day even, to give you something He thinks you need at the moment. Now those, I absolutely LOVE! In fact, a Holy SQUIRREL! moment is how I got the inspiration for my newest book, Warrior Princess, which releases on Saturday, July 14! But I digress…

SQUIRREL!

We are going to have SQUIRREL! moments. The key is to identify which kind it is and take care of it promptly. If it’s a distracting SQUIRREL! moment – such as getting stuck in the social media vortex, which can keep you there all day, or a difficult person causing stress over something –  take measures to shut it down quickly. However, if it’s a Holy SQUIRREL! moment – like an encouraging word from someone, or a Scripture that just pops into your mind – then pay attention! Write things down. Do whatever you can to remember it and then act on it!

It’s easy to get distracted. I understand that. Which is why Jesus gave us some wise words to live by ~

“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.” -Matthew 6:33 (AMP)

If we put Christ first in our lives, we won’t have so many SQUIRREL! moments that cause us to veer off onto the wrong path. It also won’t take us so long to get back to where we need to be.

 

Come Awake!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I’ve also been doing a lot of procrastinating. Frankly, I’ve known God wants me to do something and all I’ve been doing is making excuses. That, my friends, is blatant disobedience. For that, there is no excuse.
Oh, I could give one reason after another why I haven’t followed through. But I even have a reason for my reason; it’s an excuse. And an excuse is just a lie, disguised as a reason. Ouch. So, for that, Lord, I’m sorry.

The truth is, every day we are attacked in one way after another. The enemy of our souls has asked to sift us like wheat. Lately, much of that has looked like death to a good number of us. Some of us have lost family, and friends. Therefore, our focus has turned to the tragedy, the loss, the grief, and overwhelming sadness.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” –Luke 22:31-32 (NLT)

I’m not diminishing it one iota. It’s all overwhelming sometimes. But as I started to write this it was just a few days before we celebrate Easter, and it was raining. For days. Thinking back on why we celebrate this occasion, I’m reminded of what Jesus went through just before His crucifixion. I can’t imagine the weight He must have felt. Nor can I imagine the confusion, sadness, and heavy feelings the disciples must have felt. Then again, maybe I can… just a little. While I’m feeling quite a bit sifted myself, I also have hope and an excitement building.
We often focus on the problems in our lives…maybe a little too much. In so doing, we have allowed a drought to take over our minds. This is exactly what the enemy wants to happen. If he can get us to believe we are dried up, shriveled, useless, then he can prevent us from growing. Remember, whatever we sow, that we shall also reap (Galatians 6:7). Therefore, if all we speak are negative things, if all we do is focus on the bad things that have happened, or are happening in, or around, our lives, that’s exactly what will continue.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” –Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

I had put my writing down for a couple of days, and now here it is, Easter. The rain stopped for a while and the sun came out. You know, we celebrate Easter because, although Jesus went through probably the worst death anyone could go through, He came back to life. He rose again. People… Jesus. Got. Back. Up. He’s alive!

That in itself is cause for celebration. As I sat in church and listened to my pastor’s message, I began to realize that the message of the cross; the death, burial, resurrection, is more than just that. It’s not just about salvation. It’s about life! It’s about healing. It’s about forgiveness. It’s about renewal, safety, love, grace, mercy, abundance. It’s about everything because it is everything.
Maybe that’s confusing for some. But look at the cross. It’s so much more than just a tree. There was a t-shirt I saw once that stated, “Jesus beat the devil with a big, ugly stick.” It’s kind of funny when you read it, but ponder that for a minute. The cross wasn’t just about Jesus dying and coming back to life. The cross, while it is a big, ugly stick, is also the source of our healing, salvation, even our very lives. Once we see that, it changes everything.
So, this Easter (and really every day) is, and should be, so much more than we can imagine. Therefore, no matter what you’re going through, grab onto the cross, heave it up, over your head, and declare victory over every aspect of your life!

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” –John 10:10 (Amplified Bible)

The devil (the thief), may be trying to sift us, attack us, or destroy us, but we have the upper hand because of Jesus. Once we grasp this very truth, we become a force to be reckoned with. We need to come awake and pay attention. The devil wants to keep us from becoming who we were meant to be. He wants to prevent us from encouraging and helping others. The devil actually wants to keep us from discovering who we really are. But, he cannot win because he has already been defeated. More than that, because of Jesus, WE WIN… and not just a little. We win BIG!

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” –Romans 8:37 (NLT)


Stop Remembering What God Forgot

As I said goodbye to 2017… wait… that’s not entirely true. I actually wanted to scream, “GOOD RIDDANCE!” Yeah, that felt a bit better. Any rate, I said goodbye and began the New Year by having gone to bed early.
Last year (even though 2017 was only a few days ago) brought many trying times. I won’t go into detail, but I will say, I have recently realized God was teaching me some things. Through some very rough times, He has never left me. Although, I’ve thought a time or two that He did… but, I learned my lesson on that one years ago. I don’t want a repeat of the lesson. It was too frightening. This brings me to the biggest lesson, which I just realized today.
God has been trying to get my attention for a while. I’ve seen it. I’ve listened. Then, promptly forgot, because why? I’m not paying attention.
I’m distracted.
After listening to my pastor on Sunday, I realized that, while he’s preaching to the entire church body, God was directing his (my pastor’s) words to me. Yes, it was for me. And the message was clear:
The enemy is messing with you and you are letting him. Stop it!
I’ve been fretting over many things lately and pretty much having a spiritual pity party because I don’t seem to have the oomph I once had. Well, whose fault is that? Mine. It’s my fault for allowing the enemy to sneak in and clothesline me.
It was two days later that it all became quite clear. I was reading a blog post by an author friend of mine, which had also been posted on Sunday (imagine that). She, too, had been given a message from the Lord. Apparently she and I were in the same boat spiritually. But it was her revelation that brought on mine.
Her message: “You see a thief and help him.”*
Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy…” Who’s the thief? The devil. What does he steal, kill and destroy? Anything he can. But what I was doing was allowing him to steal my peace, my joy, and I was allowing him to bring back old memories of stuff God had long since forgiven and forgotten (Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17), along with stuff He had healed me from. A rather sneaky attack, if you ask me.
So, here I am, reading about someone I’ve never met personally, having the same struggles as myself. How ironic, yet not a coincidence. This brought me back to what I heard and learned in church on Sunday. I’ve compiled them below:
#1 Get the Word of God in you and encourage yourself.
Well, great. I had taken the easy way out and all but stopped reading the Bible. In fact, I was reading the Bible, sort of. Actually, I was reading the Verse of the Day, and then listening to the Bible read to me by clicking the audio button. Yes, it’s wonderful. But as soon as my allotted verses were finished, I closed the app. I was done. I wasn’t allowing God to speak to me and I wasn’t encouraging myself in His Word.
#2 Inquire of the LORD (ask Him questions)
This one was tricky. I asked the Lord questions, but really, not the right ones. My questions consisted of why’s and what for’s, instead of actually asking Him questions so I can learn. There’s a difference. It’s all in your attitude. Mine stank.
#3 Engage with the LORD (pursue Him, meet with Him)
Again, tricky. Every morning, when I wake up, I tell the Lord, good morning and I also tell Him I love Him. That much is true. I really do. It’s what was coming after that that had me in a conundrum. I was redundant, stale, and repetitious. Yes, we are to “keep asking, seeking and knocking” (Matthew 7:7), but mine was unfeeling as well. How could I expect any answers from Him if I’m not willing to ask sincerely? Exactly. I can’t.
#4 Be inspired by the LORD (let Him show you and teach you things)
I wasn’t getting any answers because I wasn’t allowing myself to actually engage with Him, so how could He inspire me? Yet, early in the morning (middle of the night) He wakes me up with words so clear, then a nudge to write them down, so I quickly did (that’s for another time). The point is, even though I’ve been disobedient, He is ever faithful and blessed me beforecalling me out. It was a kind of teaser; I’ll give you this if you’ll give me that.
But it just hit me that it was more like, Come to Me because I’m getting ready to show you something amazing.
How often we forget that God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). He loves us. He cherishes us. All of us! We are chosen (Ephesians 1:4). So why, oh why, do we think we aren’t good enough for Him to love us? The answer is, because instead of putting the devil, our great enemy, in his place and moving on, we allow him to stop us by telling us we aren’t good enough, and allow him to whisper lies to us. “Remember when you did…”
What we should do is retaliate, “But do you remember when Jesus defeated you on the cross, then rose from the dead? Do you remember that you lost?” (James 4:7)
Trust me, he does remember.
Ridiculous as this may sound to you, we really are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). That means overwhelming victory belongs to you and to me because we believe in Jesus.
It’s 2018. It should be a fresh start. Regroup. Come out swinging. I’ve got a job to do. We all do. How we do it, is our individual calling. I know mine. Do you know yours? If you don’t, get in God’s Word, read, pray, and search for your answer. Need help? Ask! But whatever you do, stop letting the devil steal from you and stop letting him bring up the past.
You know, one of the biggest lessons from Sunday could quite possibly be:
Stop remembering the things that God has forgotten!
It’s time to tell the devil to take a hike. Let’s take 2018 by storm and make a difference. By next New Year’s Eve, I hope we can all say, “Wow! What a great ride!”
Blessings!
Shelley
*Blog post reference from Danele Rotharmel