Have You Confused Your Struggle With Your Identity?

freedom

(FreeImages.com/TahaSafari)

 I might as well not even bother to explain why I haven’t blogged for awhile.  I think you understand because you are probably here just like me, trying to keep up with the whirlwind of life — the basics.   As much as I love blogging, it’s not essential to life so it gets buried beneath an avalanche of other thoughts and priorities and necessities.

Here I am today with this treasure: a pocket of time that I am going to fill with one of my best Christmas gifts to myself: the opportunity to blog.

I know it may sound selfish, but for me, blogging is more than just doing something I enjoy.  I blog because by writing down those “God” moments of my day, it helps me to really soak it in, reflect, and “own” what truths I am to apply.

I have been participating in a Community Bible Study group, which I love, but because of the Christmas holiday, we are having a break from CBS.  I decided to crack open a new study book that I had bought last year.  Just looking at the title, I knew there were truths that I would be taking home.

The thoughts/truths that this book stirred up in my heart were things I have been pondering all along…  Truths that I wish I could just help every single person to soak in, including myself.

It has to do with our identity — who we are.  I have written about this subject on past occasions so why do I continue to mention it?

I believe the importance of identity keeps coming back for these reasons:

If we knew who we were — really knew — we would be unbeatable and would consistently live the victorious life.

This brings us to the second truth:

The battlefield of the mind and in our spiritual journeys will always be based upon one or both of the following lies: a lie about myself and/or a lie about God.

When we read Genesis 1, we learn some important truths:

God’s Words create reality and have the power to bring things into being.

In other words, Being comes from God.  We become the reality of God’s truth as we receive and hear it.  If we tune it out, we miss out on this opportunity.  It also means that what He declares we are in Christ is what we actually are: He created it into Being.

On the other hand, our words don’t create or destroy, but they do promote life as they build up or death as they tear down our emotions and disturb our spiritual growth.  This is also true towards how we use our words in interaction with others.

Proverbs 18:21

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Matthew 12:34

34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

What’s in our hearts is revealed by the words that we speak.

Matthew 12:35

35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

It is interesting that the word here for treasure means a storeroom and actually is the Greek word thesauros.  It means a storeroom of words in our hearts.  Our hearts and minds are containers for words — either truth or lies and/or a combination.  What we allow into our “containers” will influence us.

In one of the assignments in the book, I was to write out a list of “who I am.”  The significance to the assignment was to reveal this:

We often use what we do to describe who we are and think that is the summary of who we are.

What this means is the following powerful statement:

We often choose our I am based on what we do and our struggles — rather than the reality of who we actually are.

Repeat that again because it is so powerful!

We often choose our I am based on what we do and our struggles…

rather than the reality of who we actually are.

Read an example of this in the Bible:

Exodus 4:10

10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

Moses judged his capabilities by his physical abilities or lack thereof.  He judged his potential by his limitations or challenges.  He judged his purpose and calling by his “giftings” or apparent limits.  He forgot that God can take a rod and make it a serpent.  He can take a virgin and cause her to bare the Son of God.  He can take tablets of stone and form His commands upon them.  He can take a shepherd boy and cause him to destroy one of the biggest enemies to Israel.  He can take the Red Sea and part its waters. He can take doubting disciples and transform them into bold testaments to His power.  He can take a citadel of military prowess and cause its walls to tumble.  He can take an orphan and make her a queen.  He can take an old, barren womb and cause it to bring forth life.  He can take a body, deteriorating in the grave for four days and resurrect it to life again.  The point is, He can!

The point is He can.

A few months ago, I was sitting in a church service, and God clearly spoke to my heart these words, “I am not looking for ability.  I am looking for availability.”  He was telling me, I can use you if you are willing to surrender to me, even your fears and limitations.

He often chooses the most unlikely candidates to perform His work because as a result His glory is revealed.

The problem is this:

We often have very little practical awareness of the reality of who we are in Christ and of Who He is in us.

Instead, we judge our usefulness and our identity by our failings, and then instead of overcoming them in the victory we have in Christ, we give in to the lie and live the lie.

1 Corinthians 15:10

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

This is the truth I want to share with you today:

You are not your struggle.

You are not your past.

You are not even the failings of your present.

God’s desire to use you was never based upon your abilities or performance.  God’s love for you was never based upon how many times you obeyed Him.  He loved you in spite of yourself, and He still does!

Our biggest challenge is for us to get out of the way!

A couple of Sundays ago, I was feeling guilty because I hadn’t spent as much time in the Word that week and was feeling the affects.  (Note: I am not downplaying the importance of doing this, but keep reading…)  As a result, I was struggling in my worship.  The Lord then spoke to my heart clearly, and it was this: “Your worship is not based upon you.  It’s based upon Me, and I never change.  You need to get out of the way and stop looking at your unworthiness, but instead focus on My worthiness.”

The amazing truth is this:

I am worthy because He made me worthy!  Jesus gave me His worthiness.  My claim is based upon Him, and my claim is backed by an Almighty God.  The spiritual world recognizes my claim in His name!

As I close this blog post, I want to encourage you with this:

“Who you are and what your struggle with is not the same thing.” (slightly paraphrased from Me, Myself, and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild)

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Random Notes But A Powerful Message!

The home of the the power for the sky

(FreeImages.com/AndreiGhergar)

 Yesterday, the Lord encouraged me with many wonderful truths through His Word, devotionals, a message, and thoughts during a prayer meeting.  I wanted to share them with you.  Enjoy the following:

5/4/16 AM: Believe the Lord was speaking to my heart this morning.  He reminded me of the verse I was given for this year:

2 Corinthians 5:17

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Read in my devotional how we often want to go back — back to happier times.  God though always leads us forward.  I need to let go of the “if-onlys” and remember, “Today is fresh with no mistakes” (quote from Anne Shirley in Anne Of Green Gables), no misgivings, and no if-only.

5/4/16 early afternoon message:  “We often try to head towards freedom when God wants us to live from freedom.”  He is freedom!

It’s been said, “Freedom is experiencing the Presence of God.”  Amen!

“Grace empowers us to walk out the truth.”

Jesus asked the question, “Who do you say that I am?”  Pivotal question!  This will determine your entire belief system and how you live your life.  Who is Jesus to you?  It’s not what other people say; it’s not what the books say.  What do you believe about Jesus?  Who is He really to you?

Your ministry doesn’t validate who you are in Him.  Get ahold of who you are to Him and in Him.  Your “ministry” is not to find something to prove yourself.  It’s finding Jesus — having such a powerful/intimate relationship with Jesus Christ that it impacts everyone you meet.

We spend so much of our time waking up sin-conscience when we should be awaking Son-conscience.

“People aren’t your problem; you are.”

“You can be wrong about being right.”

“Instead of trying to sell people my fruit, why I don’t let them pick it?”  (sharing our faith)

“Let your roots go into the love of God.”

“Your family isn’t your problem; you are!”  (How many times do we blame others for our own lack of happiness and peace?  Our lack of peace and joy can only be blamed upon ourselves.  No one can take away your peace and joy, unless you allow it.)

Wherever you are shouldn’t be dark because you are there.   (Jesus in you!)

“Having a form of godliness is knowing a lot of God’s Word without the power of the Holy Spirit to apply it.”

“You can’t walk the Beattitudes out in the flesh.”  (Why so many don’t like them.)

False grace slips when there’s no relationship with Jesus — not the intimate knowing and being known.

“A lack of the body of Christ is in praying — not preaching.”

“Don’t bypass God to get a father figure.”

Co-labor with fellow Christians — don’t be co-dependent.

Heaven paid an infinite cost.  Why?  Because He values you!  The one who values the object is willing to pay the high price.  This is what gives the object worth.  Anything can be valuable or valueless.  It’s the buyer who determines the worth of the object.  Jesus determined our worth by paying the infinite price to redeem us!

1 John 1:7

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

“If you envy someone else, it means you don’t know who you are.” (Whose and therefore who you are…)

“Intimacy is that you know that you’re known.”  (truly known — all of you and yet accepted and loved)

“Live a life that is pleasing to the Lord — not because you have to but because you want to.”

“Pursue God at the cost of everything; God is worth it all!”

“If you’re on fire and you get put into the fire, you’ll be alright.  The fire is not the issue.  Trials aren’t the issue.”

“Heaven paid the highest price to revalue you.”

Wherever you go, there should be revival.

“Everyone is a target for the love of God, but not everyone wants to be.  You have to know who you are.”

“You’ll never love your neighbor unless you know who you are.”

5/5/16 AM devotional:

Read this this morning: “I will fight for you; you need only to be still. I know how weary you are, my child. You have been struggling just to keep your head above water, and your strength is running low. Now is the time to stop striving and let Me fight for you. I know this is not easy for you to do. You feel as if you must keep struggling in order to survive, but I am calling you to rest in Me. I am working on your behalf; so be still, and know that I am God. Quieting your body is somewhat challenging for you, but stilling your mind may often seem downright impossible. In your striving to feel secure, you have relied too heavily on your own thinking. This struggle to be in control has elevated your mind to a position of autonomy. So you need the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to control your mind more and more — soothing you from the inside out. Take time to rest in the shadow of the Almighty while I fight for you.” (by S. Young)
5/5/16 another devotional:
Reading about Gideon…  He was a man blinded by his perceived limitations.  He relied on the physical rather than the spiritual.  He based his security on what was tangible.  He forgot or ignored the God-equation.  Following quote from Men & Women Of The Bible:
God’s grace and provision are more than enough [to compensate] for what we may lack.
This is true because God is El Shaddai — the all-sufficient God!  He is more than enough!
Gideon’s perspective revealed that he didn’t know his God.  He didn’t know his true self (what God created and died for us to be).
We are sometimes our own worst critic.
from Men & Women Of The Bible:
We are our own worst critic because we don’t know ourselves as God knows us and sees us!
What are we to God:
I am His inheritance!  Jesus brought me to the “throne room of His grace,” redeemed me, forgave me, and clothed me in His righteousness.
5/5/16 AM Bible study with my son:
 God looks at you in the light of His Word — not yours!
from “Men & Women Of The Bible”
So many amazing truths as seen in Ephesians 1:

Ephesians 1

Greeting

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Redemption in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who[b] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding[c] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

How secure is our salvation and position in Christ?  As secure and reliable as Christ and the Holy Spirit!  He sealed us by the Holy Spirit.  He brought our salvation about in Christ.  This is our security!

You accept this gift of salvation, and it is yours.

What is the price of one soul — your soul?!!!

Jesus said, “You are of infinite worth because He paid the ultimate, eternal, and infinite cost for you!”

Winning Over The “Claim Jumper”

Waldorf, Colorado 12

(FreeImages.com/Erik Marr)

The devil is a claim jumper, and he’ll try to steal what you have claimed.  But the Bible says that He who promised is faithful. (See Hebrews 10:23.)  …Put your trust in the all-sufficient One. – Marilyn Hickey in The Names of God

Do you have an area(s) in your life where you feel defeated, overwhelmed, or discouraged?

I do.

About two months ago, God spoke to me concerning this area.  He gave me a whole new “picture” concerning it — a picture of His purpose, calling, and perspective in the situation.  What healing God’s perspective brought to that situation in my life!  He completely changed my outlook, and it renewed my strength to claim His victory in that area.

Since then, from time to time, I am tempted to look at my present circumstances and to accept the old lies of defeat, hopelessness, helplessness, failure…

I love how God knows exactly what I (we) need!   He encouraged me again recently with many stories from the Old Testament — stories of how typical people learned to trust in their God and “staked” their lives in His unfailing promises and character.

God was reminding me again that the area I was fearing was actually an area that He had given to me.  Just like the Israelites, I was not to fear the “giants” or challenges ahead of me, but I was to look at the abundance of His provision.  I was to claim the “ground” that He had given to me, and I was to “stake” His name on that “soil.” 

If God gives you a specific calling, then believe that no matter how daunting the obstacles, His power and provision will always follow His will.

With God, there is no such thing as defeat.  Defeat comes from the enemy.

Don’t let the enemy distract you with his “smoke-screens.”  The only thing he can do is to distract and deceive.  He doesn’t have the ability to actually change the final outcome or to create reality.

Victory is the only possibility and result with God.

“Stake” His name over every area of your life, and claim and walk in His victory.

Battle Call!

An army of such magnitude of size that there seems to be no end… Soldiers standing, shields locked, shoulder to shoulder. Then “Aslan” roars! The soldiers lift their swords as one, while they unite their voices in one triumphant battle cry… As one, they step forward while one name shines forth with blinding brilliance… The name of Jesus is emblazoned across their breasts, and it is His name they cry. He is calling His warriors, and today is their day! Today is His day! Hear the roar!

This is not a physical battle, but it is a battle of epic proportions: it is the battle for the souls of mankind in this fallen world.

Soldiers, it is time to put on your armor and to claim the victory that Jesus won for you.  Erect His standard upon every area of your life.  This is not a time for defeat or apathy.  This is your time.  This is His time!

Wear His name with unshakable confidence!

Putting On Our “Primary Defense Weapons”…

Kendo armor 3

(FreeImages.com/Darya Klevetova)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on the first pieces of our spiritual armor: the “breastplate of righteousness,” the “belt of truth,” and the “shoes of peace.”  (https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/putting-on-your-armor/)

Today, I want to share some insights on our primary defense weapons: “the helmet of salvation” and the “shield of faith.”

Prior to studying in detail the armor of God, I used to say, “We need to put on our armor,” but I didn’t really understand what I was saying.  I knew it had to do with God’s Word, faith, righteousness, and peace.  But what specifically did those things mean in relation to how I was to live my life victoriously?  I understood them in theory but not completely in actuality.

The following is a quote from Kay Arthur in Lord, Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand:

The belt, breastplate, and shoes were essential clothing, but the shield and helmet were the soldier’s primary defense against the enemy’s attacks.  The breastplate alone couldn’t shield a solder from the enemy’s fiery darts, but the shield of faith was able to extinguish all of the them.

Back in ancient warfare, the enemy would often use fiery darts to attack a soldier.  Before going into battle, a soldier would prepare for battle by soaking his shield in water.  A soaked shield would extinguish the fiery darts of the enemy.  In fact, every dart would be extinguished when encountering the prepared shield.

In the Bible, God says that we have a “shield of faith.”  So what prepares us to resist the attacks of the enemy?  Faith!

I think it is also important to clarify what those attacks are.  What is the real attack?  Is it difficult circumstances, wounds inflicted by other people, disease, etc…?  So often, we “drown” in the “deluge” of our circumstances because we think that the attacks are the circumstances, the people, the events, or the objects.  In reality, the attacks are the lies that enter our minds in relation to the events, people, objects, and circumstances.

(Yes, the attacks may come as physical objects, circumstances, or people, but our battles are not fought in the physical realm but in the spiritual — the lies that are associated with those events, people, and objects.)

Let me repeat that because it is so relevant:

The attacks are the lies that enter our minds in relation to the events, people, objects, and circumstances that we face.

This is what we often do not understand and as a result, why we often do not live the “victorious” Christian life.  We don’t understand our enemy’s attacks.

Living victoriously is also more than knowing that his attacks are insidious lies, aimed at us personally to penetrate our “weakest links” in our armor.

Living victoriously involves knowing how we can extinguish the lies and guard against all manner of weapons in a full-frontal assault.  It means holding fast the position of victory that Christ already won for us at the cross.

Every piece of armor is vitally important for the well-being of the soldier against all attacks from the enemy.  If any piece is missing, the soldier is at risk.

Let’s look at the “Helmet of Salvation.”

Without a helmet to protect a soldier’s head, all attacks threaten to be mortal.

The “Helmet of Salvation” represents our position in Christ, otherwise known as our “identity” (who we are in Christ).

The following is a quote from Lord, Is It Warfare? Teach Me To Stand:

The helmet is the assurance of salvation, the confidence that salvation brings.  The helmet is symbolic of the fact that you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ and are a member of His forever family.  When you put on the helmet, you demonstrate that you know and embrace your position in Christ.

…When you put on your helmet of salvation, you acknowledge that the enemy cannot crush you, touch you, or do anything to you without your heavenly Father’s permission.

How important is it to understand your position in Christ?  Vitally!

There are three aspects/”tenses” to our salvation.  I love the way Kay Arthur summarizes them so clearly so I am going to borrow her wording:

The first is justification — you have been saved from sin’s penalty.  That’s the past tense — something which happened in your past, and because it did, you’ll never be condemned.

I recently wrote a blog post on the issue of eternal security.  I believe this is belief is vitally important for protection against the potentially mortal attacks of our enemy.  See: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/the-lie-that-a-lack-of-eternal-security-reveals/.

The second is justification — the present tense of salvation.  You are being saved from sin’s power moment by moment as you live under His control and allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead you into all righteousness.

from Kay Arthur in Lord, Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

We can “quench the Holy Spirit by not letting Him carry out His will in our lives or by singular acts of sin … Your fellowship is broken but not your relationship.” (Kay Arthur in Lord, Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand)

The third is glorification, and it is future.  You will be saved from sin’s presence and given a new body.  Someday, you’ll die and be at home with your heavenly Father and the family of God.  You’ll sin no more.

from Kay Arthur in Lord, Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

So what gives us confidence to “hold our head high”?  It’s the “protection” of understanding our identity in Christ.  No one can take that from us!

How do we practically live this?  We “walk according to the mind of Jesus Christ which became [ours] at salvation.”  (from Kay Arthur in Lord, Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand)

Here’s an amazing quote from James Fraser, a missionary to the Lisu tribe in China, in the book, Mountain Rain:

…deliverance from the power of the evil one comes through definite resistance on the ground of the Cross.

To live a victorious Christian life, we have to be more than “name-only” Christians.  We need to believe the truth of God’s Word and understand our relationship to it and more importantly, to the God of the Bible — our God!

Let’s look at the “Shield of Faith” now and how that relates to us personally.

Earlier, I alluded to how the “Shield of Faith” was an essential piece of equipment for protection against the fiery darts of the enemy.

I think this refers to belief in God’s Word.  In other words, there is a difference between knowing the truth and being able to recite Scriptural truths and/or passages and actually believing/living according to them. 

You can tell others about trusting in God and that He is a good God, but when difficult times come, you can actually walk in doubt, questioning God’s “apparent” neglect.  You can judge God’s actions based on the seen rather than the “unseen” of what He is working within the spiritual realm.

There are purposes God has that extend beyond the present difficulties of your present circumstances to work something exceedingly better.  This is why we “walk by faith and not by sight.”

The physical realm is temporal, but the spiritual realm is eternal.

Faith is the key to seeing God’s purposes, operating simultaneously within the spiritual realm while using events within the physical realm to accomplish them.

The “Shield of Faith” uses the Word of God, through the power of God (Holy Spirit), to “quench” the attacks of the enemy.

The “Shield of Faith” is embracing the truth of God’s Word and living in the reality of it.

Without a steadfast faith in God, you will be unable to reject, resist, or “extinguish” the lies of the enemy from penetrating past the other pieces of armor into the vulnerable areas of your soul.  The enemy knows where those weak “links” are, and he will go for them, using many different means.  Each of his attacks can be defeated by effectively using the “weapons” God has given to us.

We often think the battle is out there, but the real battle is fought within.

If we take captive our own thoughts with the “weapons” God has given to us, we’ll have guaranteed victory.  Our victory is not dependent upon others and their responses, upon the difficulties of our circumstances, the physical sufferings we might be experiencing, and the wounds of our pasts.

Our victory is always won within us.

Today, let’s embrace the truth of God’s Word, live confidently as His sons and daughters, have the faith to see the “bigger picture,” and be “refreshed” by the Presence of His Holy Spirit that enables us to walk by faith.  May today be lived in the victory of Christ!

2 Corinthians 10:4

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

2 Corinthians 10:5

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

2 Corinthians 5:7

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

1 Corinthians 2:5

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Ephesians 3:12

12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

Ephesians 3:17

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

 

 

 

 

 

How Understanding Our Position Secures Our Victory

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/conqueror-1410207)

As Christians, we have this amazing opportunity to walk in victory and freedom — in Christ!  So often though, we do the opposite.  Why is that?

I believe it’s because we don’t understand our position in Christ.  We lose perspective, and we begin to falter.

The truth is quite simple.

We are overcomers because He overcame!

Our position is in Christ, and as such, we inherit what He has! 

Jesus said the disciples should get excited that their names were registered in heaven, because that meant the grounds of their authority were secured through God’s throne — His kingdom — and that’s why the power of hell could not prevail against them.

— Jack Hayford

We can speak with “authority” so long as we are speaking His words.

We can walk in confidence, which means in faith, because He is completely trustworthy.

The following verses are some great words of encouragement, reminding us of who we are in Him and what we have in Him:

Ephesians 1:14

14 who[a] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:18

18 the eyes of your understanding[a] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Colossians 1:12

12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Hebrews 1:4

having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Hebrews 9:15

15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

1 Peter 1:3-4

A Heavenly Inheritance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

Let’s walk in the victory Christ won for us and in faith because Faithful is He who called us!

Afraid Of My Children… Part Two… The Cause And The Solution

I detailed in my recent blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/afraid-of-my-children-part-one, we can fear that which we cannot control and our need for control is indicative of a fear problem.

Our need for control isn’t just indicative of a fear problem; it is indicative of a trust problem.

Understanding the cause and specifics of our trust problem will also lead us to the solution.

Healing isn’t just the absence of the problem, hurt, or sin.  It’s the presence of the opposite: new life, peace, joy, the power of His Holy Spirit.  It’s the Presence of God.

In other words, when we have a problem in a specific area it means that we don’t just have a problem with fear, for instance.  We have a problem with faith — more specifically with our relationship with God. 

When we have a problem with our identity, it means we have a problem with seeing ourselves as God sees us.  We have a problem with our relationship with God because you can’t see yourself as God sees you, if you don’t know personally how God sees you.  (I am not talking about what others say, what your church has said, what books say.  I am talking about what God specifically says and what you believe about it.)

All problems stem from the same cause: a problem with our relationship with God.  There may be layers to it, but healing is intrinsically tied to our relationship with God.

Before you think I am just one of many people come to preach at you and tell you something you have already heard or read, stick with me.  I am going to share with you some things that I have learned through the “school of life experience” and what God showed me in the midst of my own darkness.  (To read this in greater detail, feel free to read my blog: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-second-part-of-my-testimony-the-second-most-incredible-experience-of-my-life.  Warning: it’s heavy reading.)

In Exodus 15:26, it says, “I am the LORD, who heals you.”  Julie Ackerman Link says in Our Daily Bread, “…no healing takes place apart from God.”

The reason why so many people are not being “healed” by God is because: they. are. trying. to. do. the. healing. in. their. own. strength.

You might ask, “What about all the prayers I have prayed, all the books I have read, all the sermons I have heard?  It’s not like I haven’t tried.”

Yes, YOU have tried.

When your “connection” to God is “broken” or “clogged,” it is impossible to rely on God’s strength to claim victory over whatever negative patterns (thoughts and/or actions) you have going on in your life.

Just praying a prayer, reading books, and listening to sermons does not guarantee or ensure that your relationship with God is where it needs to be.

Our relationship with God starts in the heart/soul — not in outward actions.  The outward actions will flow correctly out of a correct heart relationship.  (For greater detail on this, see my blog post: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/being-or-doing.)

For me personally, my relationship with God wasn’t where it needed to be, and I didn’t recognize this at first because I knew (in my head) all the right answers.

The root cause for me began when as a teen I had to face some hardships that I shouldn’t have had to face.  In the midst of those hardships, I began to believe that I had to protect myself.

This was the first and greatest lie Satan tries to get us all to believe.  It’s the lie, called self-preservation.

If Satan can disconnect us from God, he has succeeded in disconnecting us from our source of power, life, healing, peace, etc…

That’s what Adam & Eve did in the Garden of Eden when they ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.  They began to look to themselves to make the decisions for what was best for their lives, instead of to God.  Not only did they become disconnected from their source of life, but they got the opposite of what they “wanted.”  Instead of getting true “knowledge” of good and evil.  They got only their own deceived and twisted view of these things, that only had their own experiences, desires, and logic as its source of interpretation.

When we look to ourselves to interpret “knowledge” and “truth,” we are limited by the scope of our own experiences, desires, and logic. 

For me, I began to believe the lie that I had to protect myself, which meant I turned away from God and became, in essence, my own god.  I did a lot of the “right” things.  My heart was still wanting to do what was right, but my heart wasn’t fully engaged in it.  The problem that I hadn’t recognized was that I was trying to walk in God’s power, while still trying to walk in my own.  It doesn’t work.

When you are trying to do things in your own strength, self is still in control.  When self is in control, there isn’t room for God in your life — not fully.  This can be so confusing because you can still have self as your god and yet still be doing all the “right” things.

When self is in control, circumstances will have a way of revealing this and showing the inadequacy of our god (self).  Take tragedies: natural disasters, disease, deaths, financial ruin, etc…  That’s when people often will cry out to God.  They suddenly realize the inadequacy of their own god of self.

For me, it was the simple situation of not having enough strength and wisdom in myself to know how to deal with two other little people who had minds and wills of their own and so many needs.  I “tried” to look to God, but I had already begun to believe the lie that I was a failure, not good enough for my kids.

The truth is I wasn’t enough for my kids — not by myself, in my own limited resources of power, strength, and patience.

What I didn’t fully believe was that I did have enough Strength at my disposal — the power that comes from being “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

I couldn’t believe the truth because I was not fully trusting God.  Remember, what you believe is revealed by what you live — not what you know.

In the book, Think Differently, Live Differently, by Bob Hamp, it says:

“Our thoughts have the power to instigate and even inflame our feelings, but conversely, our feelings have the power to reveal what we really believe about a given situation or person.

… I am convinced that our feelings will always tell us the truth; not necessarily the truth about reality, but the truth about what we believe.”

In recent months, God revealed the specifics that led me to believe the lie that I had to protect myself.  Once I finally “saw” when I first believed the lie, I was able to then ask the Lord to forgive me for believing the lie that He wasn’t enough.  I also had to forgive a specific person.  Once I was able to do those two things, I was finally able to let the “little girl inside me” run to Abba (“Daddy”, God).  When I did that, my heart finally came “home.”  My relationship with God was healed, and I was able to completely rest in Him.

It was at that time, I felt complete Shalom (true peace that comes from a well-being of soul).

Having my connection to God healed has meant I have been able to be receptive and responsive to His voice and am able to rely on His power.  I will catch myself beginning out of habit to repeat old patterns, but God quickly reminds me of the truth.  I am able to adjust my thinking and beliefs to accept the truth and to reject the lies.  This means keeping a very close connection with God. 

In Think Differently, Live Differently, it says, “At the root of any fearful thought is the lie that, somehow, God doesn’t love me.”

In a future blog post, I want to address this very important question, “Where was God when such and such happened?”  This may be the key to helping individuals (you) finally be able to trust God.  So often we don’t ask this question because we are afraid…

I asked that question recently, listened, and was finally able to hear the answer.  I was a blubbering mess, following what God showed me.

I didn’t ask this question or receive the answer until the following three things happened:

  • I first acknowledged the lie I had believed: that God wasn’t good enough.
  • I then “allowed” God to replace it with the truth: that He is my Provider, Protector, Healer, Truth, and Life.
  • I then chose to surrender my heart to God — before knowing the answers to the question I would later pose to Him.

I recently read in a book, and I can’t remember which one because I have been reading so many lately, that freedom and healing isn’t the absence of something but the presence of Someone.  Finding freedom from fear isn’t just ignoring the thing you are afraid of or distracting yourself from the fear.  Finding freedom is actually replacing it with the true thing itself: Shalom (well-being of soul). 

True peace isn’t reliant on our external surroundings: music, scents, colors, physical positions.  True peace comes from our spirits being aligned with God’s Spirit, which in turns heals our souls (mind, will, emotions), which in turn manifests itself in our physical bodies.  True peace can happen no matter where we are, what we are doing, what is happening around us.  True peace isn’t physically-related; it’s spiritually-related.

True peace doesn’t come from emptying our minds of fear.  It comes from the Presence of Peace Himself.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on the question, “Where was God?”  Until then, may you begin to ask the question, “When did I first begin to believe the lie of self-preservation?”

When We All Need To Feel Victorious

Meribel-Mottaret ski resort, French Alps, France

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=3486745&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=359)

I recently read the chapter on “Jehovah Nissi” in the book, The Names Of God, by Marilyn HIckey.  This name means “The Lord, My Banner of Victory.”

I absolutely loved this section because it was exactly what I needed to believe.  A few weeks ago, I had recently experienced one of those mountain-top experiences that left me experiencing new “freedom” in my spiritual walk and greater peace and joy.

Then after days and weeks, my old nature and the lies began to increase in volume to my ears.  It’s not that they actually had increased, but I began to “hear” them “louder.”  (See blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-second-part-of-my-testimony-the-second-most-incredible-experience-of-my-life.)

Being aware of this struggle, I knew that I was called to “slow down”, if that’s possible, in my outside activities and to saturate myself in God’s Word, prayer time, godly music, and reading excellent devotionals.

So began my reading of the chapter on “Jehovah Nissi.”

In the following paragraphs are direct quotes:

“When you look at your image in Christ Jesus, you must look only at the image that is victorious! I don’t know what your weaknesses are, but I know that Jesus can overcome them to make you a victor and a conqueror.  God’s Word says that Jesus always causes us to triumph in Him.  (See II Cor. 2:14).  You must see yourself as being only in Him!  Without Him, you can do nothing; but with Him, all things are possible.

…After the Lord gave the Israelites manna, they traveled on to a place called Rephidim.  At Rephidim, there was no water at all, and the people thirsted terribly … The people said, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

The Lord certainly was among them.  He told Moses to strike a rock in the land of Horeb (which means ‘fresh inspiration’), and it brought forth enough water to quench the multitude’s thirst.

The New Testament tells us that the Rock that provided water in the wilderness represented Christ. (See I Cor. 10:4.)

… Generations after this incident at Rephidim,… King Saul was commissioned to wipe the Amalekites off the face of the earth.  But King Saul’s greed got the best of him, and he disobeyed God.  It is interesting to note that, in the end, an Amalekite killed Saul. Why?  Because he spared what he should not have spared. What the devil tries to put in your life must be conquered and destroyed.  If you don’t kill it, it may return and kill you.

…The word for banner actually means a ‘glistening pole or ensign, a standard, or a miracle.’  The banner or ‘standard’ represented God’s cause.  It was a symbol of His deliverance and mighty salvation that caused His people to be victorious over their enemies.

Jehovah Nissi is the Lord — Israel’s banner and your banner, Israel’s victory and your victory.  Who is Jehovah Nissi He is ‘the Lord our Victory’!

...As long as you say, ‘God is the victorious One in my life,’ you will be on top of your circumstances.  But when you drop your hands and say, ‘I’m defeated; the devil has me down,’ you can count on defeat.  Focus your eyes on the Lord, Jehovah Nissi, and keep your hands up in the air, holding His victorious standard high!”

In the blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/walking-on-water-or-sinking-sanctified-or-small-minded, this truth of keeping our eyes on Jesus is what Peter had to learn when walking on water.  It’s what you and I have to learn as well so that we too can walk in the victorious “image” that we have in Christ.

In the chapter on Jehovah Nissi, the author says the following truths in relation to why we are victorious and how we are victorious.  She says:

“God did not tell you to fight in your own armor. He gave you His armor.  And if you’ll wear it and stand in it, He will bring you to victory. He’s the Lord, your Banner … Righteous Jehovah hates sin.  If you will hold high His standard of victory, sin will not overtake you.

…Because you are standing tall in the armor of Jehovah Nissi, your Victor and Champion, Jesus did not promise you, ‘Well, now that I’ve taken the victory, it’s going to be a piece of cake for you.’ You have to stand.  But if you stand, He did promise that not even the gates of hell itself could prevail against you!  He has made you a victor in Himself!

…To wear His armor, you cannot lean on your own understanding; you have to learn on His Word!

…God says, ‘You’re not a loser!  I am Jehovah Nissi — your Banner, Miracle, and Victory — who makes you a winner.’  That’s why are you are fighting a good fight of faith.  It’s good because you win in the Lord!

…When you allow that strength within you to flow by relying on Him as your Banner, then you will overcome.”

When reading the story of Moses sending the twelves spies to check out the Promised Land, I never really “saw” the story for it’s powerful message on victory.  In the chapter on “Jehovah Nissi,” it says:

“Joshua and Caleb both discovered God to be their Jehovah Nissi.  …When all of the men returned, the report of those two men was wonderful: ‘We can take the Promised Land!  We can do it!’ (See Numbers 13:30.)

But the other men said, ‘There is no way that we’ll take the land!  There are giants there, and the walls reach to the sky.  Those giants would eat us like meat!’

…Those other ten spies had the wrong self-image.  They saw themselves as defeated ones, not victorious ones.  They did not see their miracle-working God or His promises.  They could only see giants.  Joshua and Caleb saw their own true images in God.  They said, ‘We are already victorious because of Jehovah Nissi, our powerful, almighty God’!”

In a blog post from a few years ago, the story of David and Goliath so wonderfully encourages our hearts with the truth that we can’t look at the size of our “giants”, we have to look at the “size” of our God. 

(See https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/how-to-face-your-biggest-obstacle.)

In Marilyn Hickey’s book, I found her statement, “Many people plan to fail” so gripping.

How many times do we come from an experience of victory, and then begin to accept the lie, “You fell in that area so just give it time, and you are going to fail again.”  We hear the “truth” part that we did fall before.  The lie part is that just because we failed in that area before means that we will fail again, need to fail again, will fail again, and are a failure.

I love this truth in the chapter on “Jehovah NIssi”:

“God did not say that you can triumph only in a few situations.  He said that, in Him, you’re always a victorious one!  You are supposed to conquer because Jesus is a Conqueror!

…Jesus took all of your sins upon Himself, and He gave you His righteousness.  I like this comparison: when a lamb dies, the shepherd removes the lamb’s skin and places it on an orphaned lamb.  The mother lamb, who lost her baby, smells her baby’s skin on the orphaned lamb.  Because the skin is draped over him, she’ll adopt and raise that baby as her own.

It is the same way with Jesus’ righteousness.  When He died, He clothed you with the robe of His own right standing with God Almighty.  It’s a garment that smells like Jesus!  When the Father looks at your, what does He see?  He sees you, clothed in Jesus!

...Don’t ever see yourself as defeated; see the devil as defeated.”

How wonderful it is to know that because Jehovah Nissi is our God, we are victorious in Him!  We are over-comers because He overcame.

How do you see yourself?  As “stuck” with your old sin nature?  Or as redeemed and given a new nature — a victorious image as His son or daughter?

Sanctified And Walking On Water

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(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=1115491&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=826)

As Christians, we can experience those amazing “mountain top experiences” — those times when God has brought us major healing and freedom in areas.  Right afterwards, we experience such serenity of soul and such an awareness of the outpouring of God’s Spirit.

Our worship immediately following is so heart-felt and beautiful because it comes from a broken heart that has been healed.  (There is no sweeter worship than that which comes from hearts that have recognized their brokenness and have found healing!)

Then, perhaps within hours, days, or weeks, the lies aren’t just heard but we begin to receive themto respond in the old patterns of the flesh, if we aren’t careful.  This can happen through physical exhaustion, when it is easy for our awareness to diminish.  This can happen if we don’t stay “plugged in” to God’s Word, saturating our souls with His Truth so that it can “sanctify” (purify and “set us apart”). 

As soon as we believe the lie, our “knowing” (the way we perceive the truth) is changed.  That is why, two people can read the exact same thing and can see or understand two different things.  That’s why a person can totally “hear” something completely different than what you actually said.  Their way of “knowing” is different than yours.

The way we “know” things is crucial because it determines whether or not we comprehend, receive, and correctly understand the truth.

If we try to “know” things with our fleshly, unsanctified souls, we will not “know” the truth that God is trying to speak to us.

Our souls are our mind, will, and emotions.  In their natural, “unsanctified” form, our souls are unable to truly hear and receive the truth.

It takes God’s Spirit to “quicken” (in Biblical terms) or to “make alive”, transform, renew, redeem our spirits first and then to begin the process of sanctifying and renewing our souls.  It is the sanctifying or renewing of our souls that is what God desires and is doing in our lives as His children.

Once we begin to accept the old lies again, which is easy to do, we begin to fall back into the same bondage we were in before.

The danger is very real!  The lie is often so close to the truth that it is difficult to discern.  The lie often always uses some truth mixed with error so that we hear the “truth” part and don’t recognize the error that has been added.  This additional error or misapplication of a truthful statement brings about a wrong conclusion and is therefore still wrong — a lie.

For example, when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Satan came when Jesus was physically at his lowest.  Jesus had been fasting for 40 days in the wilderness.  He was physically depleted of his reserves and mental and emotional capabilities  Satan then quotes Bible verses to Jesus to tempt Jesus.  Satan takes “truthful” statements but misapplies them.  Jesus, being the Son of God, immediately recognized and rebuked the lies.

This is why, the Bible says (taken from BibleGateway) :

2 Corinthians 10:5New King James Version (NKJV)

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

We have to be on guard all the time.  Just because we have come out of a major experience of spiritual healing doesn’t mean, Satan is going to leave us alone.  He will try to get us through different approaches to return to our old bondage.  If that doesn’t work, he will attempt to pull us into bondage in other areas.  This is something we should NOT fear, or we are giving Satan too much credit.  As the Bible says,

1 John 4:4King James Version (KJV)

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

The first few moments, days, and weeks following a “mountain-top” experience can be just like what Peter experienced when he began to walk on water towards Jesus.  Jesus had told Peter to get out of the boat.  Peter did and began to walk on water towards Jesus.  What an incredible experience!

Yet, within minutes, Peter began to notice the wind and waves around him.  As soon as Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to focus on the wind and waves, Peter began to sink.

Nothing in Peter’s circumstances had changed.  Only Peter’s perspective had changed.

So often when temptations come (the wind and waves), we begin to focus on the fear of “sinking”.  The more we focus on the fear of sinking back into the old patterns, the very thing we fear becomes true: we begin to sink.

The more we focus on the problem, the more we focus on the problem (Think about that one.)

Instead, we need to get our eyes off the problem.  (Yes, acknowledge the problem but only so you can find the solution/help you need.)  If Satan can keep us focusing on the problem, he’ll keep us stuck in the problem, drowning in it. 

Instead, we need to focus on the solution. 

Instead, if we look up and look to the One Who told us to step out of the boat (our old ways) and into freedom with Him, we will be back to what got us the freedom in the first place: Jesus!

Jesus is our Solution!  Jesus is the One alone Who has the power to heal, to restore, to redeem, to sanctify, to give peace.  When our eyes are on Him, we become “immune” to the wind and waves around us.

Our circumstances haven’t necessarily changed, but our souls (our ability to perceive) change.

May we continue to walk in freedom and into greater freedom by keeping our eyes on Jehovah M’ Kaddesh, the God Who sanctifies.

How To Face Your Biggest Obstacle

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It started at the end of last week…  those old negative feelings of discouragement, fear, discontment, washed over me, overwhelming and seeking to bring defeat to my soul.  As my heart cried out to God, asking Him to change my thoughts and help me to think the truth, God began to speak to my heart.

It’s amazing how quickly I can be like the Israelites, seeing God’s miraculous hand of victory and then suddenly back to the complaining and whining and forgetting all that God has already done.

Last week, I had just started a study by Beth Moore on the life of David.  As I completed the study guide for today’s reading and notes, God’s Word began to speak to me once again.

My parents first took me to church as a babe in arms and every Sunday after that; so I grew up, hearing the story of David.  I knew all about how a boy defeated a giant with just a sling-shot and a few stones.  It was an amazing story!  Somehow though, it was easier to imagine those incredible type of events happening to the extremely “righteous” people — someone with extraordinary faith and a special brand of godliness. 

Me?  I saw myself as just the average girl  — nothing extraordinary about me.  Surely, I didn’t have that special brand of godliness or exceptional brand of faith.

So, when those “giants” reared their ugly heads, I became just like the Israelites, accepting defeat before the battle had even begun.  No battle had been waged, but the attitude of defeat had decimated me. 

I stood, outwardly, but inwardly, my heart was crumbling.  I wanted to be that amazing mom, that amazing wife, that amazing friend, that amazing woman of God.  Yet, I felt small, worn out, crushed, weighed down, defeated.  Why?  Sometimes, it only takes a word of criticism.  Mostly, it’s because I am just like the Israelites, measuring the size of the obstacle against my own strength. 

How can one defeat the “giants” out there when one isn’t even fully recognizing the God who is present?  Sometimes, it’s not even understanding the God who is there but understanding my relationship with Him/His relationship to me.  Too often, it’s because I still see myself as having to somehow earn His favor and love.  In other words, I am resting in the strength of my faith and the measure of my godliness.  It’s then I feel defeat.  I know I am not perfect enough, godly enough, faithful enough, nor good enough to keep anyone’s eternal and unwavering affection and devotion.

Anyone’s?  Yeah, when I compare God to earthly loves.  It doesn’t matter how good and loving our parents were nor how loving our husband is.  At some point, human relationships are going to let us down.  They were never meant to be our god.

My parents loved me and do love me.  My husband, he does too.  I know all that.  Yet, there’s that seeking, searching little-girl heart that cries, “Abba, do you love me?  Were you with me when that person let me down?  God, show me where you are when sleep eludes me, the tasks of life overwhelm me, the pain of defeat and fear crush my spirit.” 

Suddenly, a “shade” to the “window” of my soul lifts.  I begin to understand that as wonderful as my husband is, he can’t fill my need for identity and worth.  My kids… they are cute and all that, but they sure let me down at times.  Even friends, as wonderful as they are, can’t fill that desperate need to know that Abba-God loves me — that His love is eternal and unwavering.

I then realize the key to David’s victory.  He didn’t measure his obstacle by the size of his faith or his own strength.  He measured his obstacle against the size of His God.  (Thanks, Beth Moore, for that thought!)

Quoting from Beth Moore’s study guide:

Do you approach every circumstance and conflict as a member of the army of the living God?  Do you continually regard God as able?  Is He not only the Lord Almighty on the page but the Lord Almighty on the pavement? Do you stand in His name?  Our victory rests not on faith in our spirituality.  Our victory rests on faith in our God.  We’re often intimidated in battle because we are uncertain of our faith.  We must remember we don’t stand in victory because of our faith.  We stand in faith because of our God.  Faith in faith is pointless.  Faith in a living, active God moves mountains.

I love that thought: Is He not only the Lord Almighty on the page but the Lord Almighty on the pavement?

“We stand in faith because of our God.”

Lord, help me to understand that I don’t need to envy the “Davids”.  Help me to realize that I am a unique expression of your love and a unique testimony to your creativity.  Help me to understand that I don’t have to be David to defeat the “giants” of life.  Help me to understand that I don’t have to have amazing faith or be a flawless paradigm of godliness.  Help me to see that all I have to do is open my heart to your love and to rest in you — your power. 

Like David, I still have to face the obstacles, but my confidence isn’t in myself or my abilities but it’s in You — the God who created the universe.  He is not only the God of the Universe but the God who took on a fleshly body like mine so He could feel the scourge of the whip and the pounding of the nails being driven into His hands to demonstrate the extent of His love for me!

He is a God so powerful that by the word of His mouth, He brought into existence an entire world and countless galaxies and a God so powerful that He could submit to a wooden cross in order to demonstrate the height and depth of His love for me! 

Could it be?  Could it be that a God so powerful died for me and now seeks to show me how to truly live with Him?  Could it be that He doesn’t seek extraordinary people to do great things?  Could it be that He looks for ordinary people who are willing to let Him do extraordinary things in and through their lives? 

Could it be that in God’s eyes I am just as amazing as David and Joseph and Paul and all of those other people of faith?  Not because I am so special in myself but because He made me, He died for me, and He lives within me!

Lord, is this what it’s all about?  Living a life of victory… it’s facing my biggest obstacles because I am not alone!  It’s because of Who my God is and because of who I am in Him!