Romans 8:1 says: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live and walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.
Many of you don’t know that my ministry, The Encouragement Center, was started almost twenty years ago with the original name “Romans 8:1 Ministries”. My heart was, and always will be, to tell people that God is good and that He loves them and does not condemn them! He came to save, not condemn.
When you have bad days, setbacks and disappointments, it is normal to hear in your head, “you are an idiot”, “you can’t do anything right”, “no one loves you”, and “who do you think you are to think it will work out for you?” The devil loves and lives to heap condemnation upon God’s children; he is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) . It is up to us to refuse to accept it – no matter how realistic is appears, no matter how hard it is to resist.
When a child is learning to walk, he falls many times before he has the confidence to walk across the room. Even though he may cry when he falls down, he gets back up and tries again (and again, and again) until he succeeds.
When you have those bad days (or bad weeks or bad years), just get back up, dust yourself off and start again!
The devil will try so hard to stop you. He will use discouragement, circumstances, people (yes, even Christians) and condemnation to halt you in your tracks. When he does, you have your weapon — it is the WORD! Say to the devil, “Hey you, I walk after the Lord and there is no condemnation toward me, no matter what you say!”
When you fall and fail (and trust me, you will), that doesn’t mean you are a failure. It simply means you don’t do everything right. We all have to realize we have strengths and weaknesses, and none of us is perfect except for Jesus. Don’t let that imperfection stop you from going boldly to the throne of your Father and asking Him for what you need. Don’t let it keep you from believing you will receive that which you have asked!
Let Jesus be your strength. We have nothing else — but, what more do we need?!
Be encouraged, God is for you and so am I!
Keep the faith!
One day, years ago, I was working in my home office and I heard God’s still small voice whisper to me, “Get up and make cornbread muffins for Larry and take them to him.” I was busy with my work and argued, “But Lord, not now, I am so busy.” A few minutes later, the voice spoke again, “Tina, get up and make cornbread muffins for Larry and take them to him NOW!” Again I argued, “Lord, I don’t have all the ingredients and will have to go to the store.” Silence.
By this time in my Christian walk I knew enough not to argue with “The Voice” anymore; I got up, went to the store and came back to make the muffins. As I was getting the cornbread ready to go into the oven, I began thinking about Larry and wondering why God would ask me to do this, and why do it at this particular time.
Larry’s heart was kind; he was always there when someone needed help. All of us neighbors loved when it was Fish Taco Night at Larry’s house! He made a mean fish taco and welcomed everyone in to eat. But, Larry had a sad side, too. He was a couple of years out of a failed marriage, was estranged from his 20-year old daughter and his fishing rod and reel business had taken a downturn. He hid the sadness from everyone for the most part. As the muffins baked, I began to pray for Larry. I asked the Lord to bring him comfort and show him that, despite the problems he faced, his future could be bright.
Once out of the oven, I put the muffins in a basket and went next door to Larry’s. I knocked a couple of times and there was no answer. I was getting pretty fed up. “God! Why did You tell me to make these if he wasn’t even home?” I turned around to leave, but sensed I should knock one last time. I pounded on the door this time.
The door opened a crack. I could see Larry, tears streaming down his face, with a shotgun in his hand. It was clear that he had been sitting there ready to take his life. He said, “Tina, I just asked God, ‘please, if You are real, help me!’” He was more distraught about his life than anyone could have known. But, of course, God knew.
Long story short, we were able to talk and get him some help; he is a very happy man to this day. He called me “My Angel” from that day forward. However, we all know I was not an angel; I was just obedient to the still small voice.
Granted, not all situations are as life threatening, but we so very much need His direction in every area of our lives. 1 Kings 19:11-12 shows us that God can speak to us in large and boisterous ways, but usually He chooses to speak to us through His Spirit in a “still small voice”. That is why it is imperative we spend quiet time alone with Him to be able to hear that voice and to know it is His. This voice will guide us in all matters, big and small, if we are wise enough to hearken to it.
I urge you today to listen for His voice – and obey it when you do. The rewards are incredibly worth it! Who knows? Maybe it will save someone’s life, literally.
Keep the faith!
How do I know that God is Good?
Because the Bible tells me so!
No one is good but One, that is God. Luke 18:19b
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Psalm 34:8
Once you know – without a doubt – that God is good, you can approach Him in all confidence, knowing He won’t hurt you, won’t bring suffering to you, will never leave you or let you down. He is always there in time of need.
When you go through troubles it is tempting to cry out “God, why are You doing this to me?” There are, sadly, many Christians who will tell you exactly that – God is causing this trouble to teach you a lesson. Refuse to believe it because it is a lie from the pit of hell!
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be by tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. James 1:13
The Word says we learn by hearing the Word, not by being sick and broke. God does not put cancer on His kids to teach them lessons. He is good, after all!
The enemy, and/or our own consequences for wrong choices bring on troubles and trials. We know the enemy comes only to steal, kill and destroy. When he comes, we must take a stand against his works.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7
When you stand, and stand firm in faith, you will be able to say to the enemy, as Joseph did:
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20a
How can you get it into your heart and get rid of all your doubts that God is really good? Spend time getting to know Him!
Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Job 22:21
Keep the faith!!
When a friend calls you and asks you for advice, do you find it easy to rattle off some wonderful words of wisdom? Do you often find you have the answers for everyone’s problems? Do you ever lecture people about what they need to do to get out of their troubling situations?
My friend, Stephanie, always tells people who ask her for advice, “What would you tell a friend who asked you this question?” Boy, if that doesn’t make one stop and think about how they are handling their problems, nothing else will.
Why don’t we take our own insightful advice? Why don’t we practice what we preach? We have such lofty advice for others, why is it so hard to do it ourselves? So many Christians talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Their actions don’t line up with their words.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” He knew that if he preached one thing to others but lived a different thing in real life he would not be taken seriously.
Now, there is a difference in speaking God’s truth, even though one has not fully manifested that truth in one’s life as of yet. A preacher I know is famous for saying, “I preached prosperity, even though I had holes in the soles of my shoes, because it is the truth of God”. After preaching it for so long prosperity finally manifested in his life. There are people who coach others yet they are no where near the level of those they coach. For example, the world’s best golfer has a coach. That coach is a good golfer, though not nearly as good as the pro. However, that coach knows the basics and the techniques that bring success, even if he is not as successful as the one he coaches. That is not what I am speaking of here.
I am talking about people who rail against pornography yet secretly watch it every day online. I am talking about people who preach purity yet are engaging in impure acts. I am talking about people who spout honesty yet cheat on their taxes. I am talking about people who say they love God yet vote for those who stand for ungodly causes such as abortion and gay marriage. These are the ones who are disqualified. God’s Word is clear. He says He is not mocked, whatsoever a man reaps, that he shall sow. (Galatians 6:7)
The way to obtain the promises of God is to be a doer of the Word. When others see you walking the walk, they will be drawn to the light of God in you. They will ask you “What is it about you?” and you will be able to freely answer “It is God!”
When you live your life lined up with the Word, whether fully manifested or not, you are living righteously. He always honors those who honor Him.
Keep the faith!!
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
Sometimes it can be hard to know if the voice we are hearing is God’s voice. There are many things we can know without fail that they are of God because they are in the Word. But what about things that don’t have chapter and verse? Things like where to live, where to work, who to marry, and more. How do we hear Him then?
One important thing to know is that what you hear will not go counter to the Word. i.e. God would never tell you to marry a man who is already married to someone else! God speaks to our spirit which we hear through our mind. So, many times we will think “Hmm, is that me or is it God?” His guidance comes through you not from outside you. He desires to direct you in all areas of your life – big and small.
Once I had lost a very important paper for a client and prayed like crazy to find it. I heard, “You should look behind the table your fax machine is on, you will find it there!” At first I thought “Yeah, right. That is only wishful thinking.” But then, I remembered how much God cares about even the smallest things. I got to my office, looked behind the fax table and there it was! Praise God! His direction saved the day for me!
The more you start listening for Him in the little things, the more sure you will be when He speaks to you about the big things. Start listening today!
Keep the faith!
Then Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29
Do you know that if you want to do anything important for the Lord in this lifetime, you will not always have the approval of people? In fact, many times people will despise you, mock you, lie about you, and condemn you – even Christians, mostly Christians!
Why is this? Shouldn’t Christians all work together? That would be nice, but people who walk in faith and are doing what the Lord calls them to do intimidate others, especially Christians who are not as faithful, who are in disobedience, or who are ignoring God’s call on their lives.
If you want to win popularity contests, you better decide right now not to do much for God. But, if you want God’s approval, you have to acknowledge that there will be those who will mistreat you and say ugly things about you because of your faith and your stand.
We can take a lesson from Jesus Himself. Philippians 2:7 says He made Himself of no reputation. And, as you know, He was mocked, lied about, spit upon and was even killed for His faith and stand!
Today, make it your mission to be a God-pleaser, not a man-pleaser!
Keep the faith!
When you are walking in God’s will you become an open target for the enemy. He sees you, in spite of all your fears and other obstacles, still doing what God has led you to do. It doesn’t make him happy – in fact, it riles him up and the intensity of his attacks on you increases. For example:
- You have stepped out and faith and started that business God showed you was His will for you and almost immediately you are bombarded with customer complaints and false accusations.
- You make the decision to tithe in faith, even though it seems to make no sense because of your already strained bank account. You write that tithe check and sow it in love and faith, and then – WHAMMO – your car and washing machine break down at the same time!
- You have been wanting to make a career change and, after much prayer, you believe God has said, “Go for it!” So you take that new position, hopeful and in faith, and the company bankrupts right after you start and you are now looking for another job.
- You are going about your business, helping many others in many different ways – sowing faithfully into their lives love, finances, prayer, counsel and time. All of a sudden, you experience loads of technical equipment troubles. You are ignored by most anyone that matters and you thought would help you. People verbally assault you for no reason. You feel beat up, battered, and wonder, “Why the heck do I even bother anymore?”
What do you do?
Well, the human reaction is to react, to lash out, and to cast away our confidence. The natural reaction is to scream “God! I trusted You. I thought I was doing what YOU wanted me to do; why did it go wrong?” My favorite line is “Good girls are supposed to get the reward!” What do you do when you are doing good, walking the right path, sowing into the Kingdom, yet you are attacked and don’t get the reward?
One: You must know the enemy does not want you following God’s plan! He wants to steal the love and Word of God from your heart. He will do anything in his power to stop you. He will send people onto your path to assault and offend you. As the prince of the air, he will cause all sorts of technological troubles for you. He will do whatever it takes to FRUSTRATE and DISCOURAGE you to get you to give up. We must know this; we must know our enemy and be aware of his methods.
Two: You need to rejoice! Do not rejoice in the trouble itself, but rejoice in Him! (1 Peter 4:12-14)
Three: Allow yourself the time to get from One to Two! Don’t beat yourself up if your first reaction is “Ouch! God! This hurts and I am angry and hurt!” Just don’t stay in that mode.
Four: Stay on the path you were on before the obstacle or offense was thrown at you! Don’t give up on your mission from God. Galatians 6:9 says, “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”
Five: Submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7 At some point, the devil will take a break because he sees your persistence and perseverance.
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
Notice that is says “have overcome”! That means you already have the victory, no matter the attack! God is bigger than it all!
Keep the faith!
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9
There is a common saying among religious folks: “Seek His face, not His hand.” Another version: “Seek the Giver, not the gifts.” While this sounds pious and humble, it is not very truthful nor scriptural. In fact, it can be very condemning to those who are in need of answers and help from the Lord.
Human beings need both! We want to see Him, His face – to know Him, to love Him. But, as His children, we also seek His hand, His power in our lives. Seeking Him and seeking His hand go together! We not only long for Him to move in power on our behalf, we need Him to act!
Take a look at just a few of the numerous times the bible records David desperate for God’s hand to move on his behalf:
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me, O Lord, make haste to help me! Psalm 40:13
Help me, O Lord my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy….Let my accusers be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own disgrace as with a mantle. Psalm 109:26,29
But You, O Lord, do not be far from me, O my Strength, hasten to help me! Psalm 22:19
I encourage you to not let false piety be placed upon you by well-meaning yet misguided brothers and sisters. Don’t let them detour you from boldly going before your Father! Seek Him with confidence that you will see Him and His power in your life!
Keep the faith!
My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh. Proverbs 4:20-22
What do you do when you are lining your life up to the Word of God, purposefully choosing to do His will, and life still seems to be not working right? We all have been there. We’ve made our decisions to get sin out of our lives, to ‘do it God’s way’, thinking it will bring us victory and success; yet, nothing changes – or worse, it gets more unpleasant.
Some real-life examples:
You’ve made a decision to tithe based on the Word – Malachi 3:8-12, Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42. You’ve heard the testimonies from so many who said, “The moment we decided to tithe, blessings came pouring in!” The Word promises that you will be blessed if you tithe and you believe it. Yet, you tithe and the refrigerator and the washing machine and the car all break down the same week! The money you tithed would have covered all the repairs.
You decided to dedicate your business, or your job, to the Lord based on the Word – Proverbs 3:6, Deuteronomy 28:3-13, Deuteronomy 8:18 and Matthew 21:22. You believe fully that God has your back and that He will prosper the work you do, giving you the power to get wealth, just like it says in the bible! But, you lose three clients, you lose a big contract, your hours are cut at your job or you are laid off, and you are now wondering, “If this is prospering, I wonder what failing is?”
After hearing so much about what must be done in the natural to restore good health, and based on the Word – 1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Jeremiah 33:6 and 3 John 2, you chose to drastically make better choices in your diet and lifestyle. You felt confident that, once you began honoring the temple of the Lord, you would feel terrific and be full of energy. Instead, you don’t feel that same bountiful level of health others say they obtained when they did the same thing. You feel blah and are left wondering if all the sacrifice of the foods you love and the pain of exercise are worth it.
You wonder, “Where the heck is God in all of this? I thought He said there was a reward for doing the right thing?” Psalm 18:12 says, “The Lord rewarded me for doing right….”
So, what do you do? You have a few choices, actually. You can give up and throw in the towel saying, “Why did I even bother? I should’ve known God would not come through for me.” Or, you can go numb because it hurts too much to keep trying to do the right thing and never get the prize. You could even choose to determine that this Christianity stuff really IS a hoax, created for those who don’t have a brain!
The only real choice you have is to keep on keepin’ on! One of my favorite preachers talks about what to do between the “Amen” and the “There-It-Is”. He says, “Having done all you can to stand, stand some more!” Ephesians 6:13. In other words, don’t give up!
At the same time, you cannot get into murmuring and complaining, moaning and groaning about it. Yes, there is a time to be honest with the Lord. Tell Him you are in a quandary. Tell Him you don’t understand why His Word says one thing but another is happening. You can share your struggle with a like-minded close friend or mentor, but don’t share it with the world. Afterward, you must choose to buck up, and endure like a good soldier.
Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee. James 4:7
We must make a choice to base our lives on the Word, not on the circumstances our senses can see, hear and feel. Another one of my wonderful teachers always says, “The power is in consistency”. We didn’t get where we are at overnight; God rarely gets us out of where we are overnight. As it was with the Israelites when they finally entered the promised land, it is with us: “Little by little I will drive them out before you….” Exodus 23:30 Slow and steady wins the race! Consistency has power.
Don’t give up! Hang on tight! Keep on keepin’ on!
And……always – Keep the faith!!
Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4
The other day I heard a preacher say “God works the night shift!” and I thought how true that is!
I have not had a full night’s sleep in many months. It has been frustrating to say the least. I go to sleep right away, but every night, somewhere between 1am and 3 am, I wake up. I am awake for at least one hour, though it is usually for two to three hours; finally, sleep comes again about 5am, just about when it’s time to get up!
The thoughts that whirl though my mind in the wee hours run the gamut from my kids to finances to the upcoming election to the eternal. Sometimes there are some very panicky thoughts: Where is the money we need going to come from? What will happen to this country if the liberals win? Will my husband’s mother ever get better? Are my kids going to be ok? When will I be able to close the big deal? How can we help all the people who come to us in need?
I have found the only way to stop these anxiety-ridden thoughts is to speak out loud and command them to stop. Seriously. I say aloud, “Devil, it may be true that I don’t have the answers right now, but God does. Stop bothering me about it now, go talk to Him!” Then I pray. I mostly pray in the Spirit because I don’t always know how to pray, or for whom. I also make the choice to think on all the troubles and situations God has brought me through before, and that helps me to know He is there helping me through the current batch!
Other times, there are some yucky thoughts spinning in my head: Why do you procrastinate so much? When are you ever going to lose some weight, fatso? How can God love you when you screw up all the time? You always blow it, when are you going to do it right? Who do you think you are that anyone would want to read what you write? You’re already in your 50’s, what have you accomplished in this life?
I’ve learned that I have to take control over them immediately or else I will slip quickly into a pit of despair. Again, to stop them I speak out loud, “Devil, in the name of Jesus, I command you to leave me alone. My Dad loves me and thinks I’m swell, even if I am not perfect. If you have a problem with me, go talk to Him about it!” I start thinking on the scriptures that speak of giving our cares to the Lord and about how faithful He is to us. Praying in the Spirit usually takes me back to sleep.
Some nights I know God has tapped me on the shoulder just to talk to me! Those are the nights I ask Him, “OK Lord, who do you want me to pray for now?” Usually, one specific person will come to mind and I will pray over that person; sometimes many people will be brought to my memory and I pray for them all. Again, because I don’t always know what to pray, I often pray in the Spirit.
I keep a notebook, pen and flashlight on my nightstand so I can write down things that come to me during these quiet hours. Many times God will give me the title for an article, or the solution to a problem I am having, or someone He wants me to talk to, or even a new recipe I can create! I have found that writing these things down lets me put them out of my mind for the time being, and brings clarity in the morning. It is easy to forget if I don’t memorialize them.
The best part of not sleeping? It reminds me that God does not sleep! He is always on call, always at the ready, to commune with us. Lately, I must say, I have been asking Him, “But, do we have to do it at 3 am?” Yet, I know this season will pass. But while it is here, I am grateful that He cares.
Keep the faith!