I used to watch a TV show called Beyond Scared Straight. It followed at-risk teens throughout their day inside the prison. They use the prison environment to give teens a shocking experience to scare them into changing their reckless behavior. Personally, I know from experience the pain and suffering from my consequences for choosing to do wrong instead of right, especially when I knew better. Hebrews 10:26 says “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” For the word of God is clear that willful sinners have their pay day… death (Romans 6:23).
God allowed me to almost lose everything to scare me into my senses to change. I have learned saying “I am sorry” is not enough. In order to change your behavior, your heart must change first. For me, it took being scared straight to change my ways. The thought of losing my family or any peace of mind, was enough for me to stop. I am not talking about being fearful in a negative sense. But I mean being scared to the point of being shaken to core of your heart. Now, I should have learned better from making the mistake the first time. But for us hardheaded folks like me, being scared straight is the best medicine.
I thought about often we say “Don’t judge me. Only God can.” True enough. However it is the Word of God that judges us. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The Greek word for “judge” is “kritikos” meaning “skilled for judging“. In other words, a judge is an expert in a particular area of knowledge. Just as a judge in court is an expert of the law, the Word of God is an expert in examining our hearts. Truth is, we are not equipped as human beings to judge one another about what is in our hearts. However, the Word of God is. Be encouraged. It is for your good to become better than what you are. That is God’s desire for us anyway.
Recently, I shared my testimony about God delivering me from a 30-year struggle with depression and 14 year battle with sexual sin on Facebook and Periscope. My mother mentioned to me one of my close relatives saw my testimony posted on Facebook. She said my relative did not understand my reason for sharing my testimony. I told her “the power of releasing your testimony and being transparent eliminates Satan’s ability to keep you in a place of bondage to sin and shame.” There is freedom that comes with telling your testimony to the world without fear or shame. It is true sign of deliverance when you are able to tell the truth about where you have been. It does not matter how painful or shameful your experience was. It is in our dirty places in life that births true value (Genesis 2:7).
By sharing my story, I am able to empower others to help them live and see it is possible to recover from devastating circumstances. It also challenges me to fight for my life to keep my deliverance each day. It is through the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony we are able to overcome (Revelation 2:11). I am overcomer and so are you because you are still here to tell your story.
Choices… Have you ever thought about the many choices you make? What direction to go to work? What you will have for dinner? Should I pay this bill or another? Should I respond to this situation by how I feel or think? As children of God, we make choices that could make or break us. Although the Holy Ghost presents us with a suggestion, we are to make the choice to obey or not. Honestly, I know I have ignored the voice of the Holy Ghost suggesting to me to not curse out someone or spend money on something unnecessary. According to the scriptures, Jesus said the Holy Ghost, the comforter is here to help us (John 14:26). Why is it so hard for us to receive the help the Lord has given to live successfully in Him? As humans, we tend to complicate things, when God has made it so simple. It makes sense to listen to the suggestion to help you make the right choice.
I remember as a child that sometimes my parents would tell me to “know my place.” It meant that I was not to get involved with grown folks’ conversation or be disrespectful. It was a directive to make sure I knew how to act appropriately in any given situation.
As I have grown and now have children of my own, I realize knowing your place is more than just doing what your parents told you. It is to have an awareness of who you are and your purpose in God. I have come to the understanding that knowing your place has its benefits. How so? You perceive your life with a different pair of eyes. Rather than looking at things negatively, you see them positively knowing that it is for your making for greater in your life. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
As long as I know that I love God, then He called me. He has already orchestrated everything to work for my good. That is the hope we can hold in our hearts through the storms of life. We have security in God in us because we know our place and our purpose to serve Him. Don’t let life shake you up. Stand firm, and know your place.
When it comes to matters of the heart, I had my ups and downs. Yes, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me at times. When wisdom said to wait, my heart said go for it. As a result, I had to endure the heartache, pain, and depression that followed.
I could say that the enemy led me to make these poor choices in love. But the truth is my heart played its own little game: deception. The word of God in Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” We, in ourselves, are not fully aware of all that is in our hearts.
Here’s the good news. I remember that God has given me a comforter in the Holy Spirit. Just when I want to give into my feelings, I remember I have help. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” – John 16:13
I must admit that my heart has deceived me more often than not. But experience has taught me it is better to listen to wisdom and follow it. Be still with your heart. Do not go on your feelings. Let the Lord lead you into His truth.
I was at a job training out-of-town when I misplaced my cell phone. I became really nervous. The reason was my cell phone was my only line of communication to my family, work, etc. Let’s just say I had a hard time focusing on my training. Fortunately, one of my co-workers located my phone and returned it to me.
Nowadays, you can do almost anything on cell phones. They have become a lifeline for some of us. But the Spirit of God reminded me that He is the greatest lifeline that never fails. Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples, realized it in Matthew 14:28-32. “And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.”
On the TV game show, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, the contestant only gets three temporary “lifelines” that are not guaranteed. I am so thankful that we have a lifeline in Jesus Christ that is always available to reach out and touch.
In most court cases, the judge may award full custodial rights of a child to either parent. Then the judge awards the non-custodial parent visitation rights if both parents are cooperative. However, there are some cases where the court may decide the non-custodial parent is not fit to have visitation rights such as being incarcerated, drug abuse and possibly other reasons.
Just as a judge gives custodial rights in the courtroom, we as believers have a choice to give full custody of our minds to the Spirit of God or the spirit of the enemy. What do I mean? Everyday, you decide what you allow to visit your mind. Whether is a new visitor or a recurring one in your thoughts, the question becomes what are you allowing in your mental space? And who or what are you giving full custody to when it comes to how you think?
Jesus addressed the issue about what we give our minds to even when we so concerned about life: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:31-34 (NKJV).
In my personal life, I had to learn that I do not need to waste time of past things that I can not change. The reason is my present day is already going to have its own share of issues. Why complicate things by revisiting or giving full custody of your thinking to your past? It would make our lives easier when we make better choices when our minds are free from any negative thoughts, feelings, etc.
Guess what? You (as I have learned too) must revoke the visitation rights of the enemy and give full custody of your mind to God. He is the best custodian there is because He knows how to keep us in perfect peace whoever keeps his mind stayed on him (Isaiah 26:3).