By Jane Horvath
“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Genesis 3:9
My love of cop shows started when I was 10 years old. The television program name was Car 54, Where Are You? It was a comedy that ran on NBC from 1961 to 1963. The story was about two NYC police officers based in the 53rd precinct of the Bronx. Car 54 was their patrol car. As a child, it was funny to me that no one ever seemed to know where the officers were located. The radio was constantly heard broadcasting, “Car 54, where are you?”
In Genesis 3:9, God calls out to Adam and Eve. He asks them, “Where are you?” Unfortunately, it is not funny in this instance. It is tragic, but also full of grace. God knew exactly where Adam & Eve were when He asked. They were hiding from God as a result of deception and disobedience. That is the tragic part. God was calling out to them. He was offering them a chance to confess. The confession of their sin would re-establish the relationship with Him and remove their shame. That is grace.
When we are in the middle of challenging circumstances, God wants to know where we are in our heads and our hearts. He wants to know if we are being deceived by the enemy or trusting in His plan for our lives. We need to be sure we are not hiding in shame and blame. Call out to Him and let Him know exactly where you are. He will meet you where you are. Learn to hide in His shelter, safe from the enemy (Psalm 27:5-6).
Today, God is asking, “Where are you?” He is not asking for a physical address, He wants to know where we are in relationship to Him. He is giving us the opportunity, seasoned with grace, to confess our sins without condemnation (Romans 8:1). He’s providing a chance at forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Give Him the answer to this question every moment of every day.
By Kendall Kelley
Life is tricky. It is full of ups and downs and unanswered questions. But, if you look at life closely, you begin to see its true beauty, you begin to fully understand its value, and can begin to notice God’s hand at work.
I recently watched a sermon by Todd White during which he spoke on becoming the person God has created you to be. His challenge to each of us was to fully see ourselves the way God sees us and to walk uprightly with God, with the wisdom and knowledge of his love so that we may live confidently in who he says we are. But how do we do this?
One point that stuck with me the most is when Todd said: “So many people today are walking around, trying to figure out this thing called life. But you can’t really do the thing until you become the thing.” He said our main priority in life should be this: To live like Jesus lived, to love like he loved, to walk like he walked, to talk like he talked. We must die to ourselves so that we may be alive in Christ. Die to our old ways and to all our selfish ambitions. We spend so much time comparing ourselves to others, wanting someone else’s life, because we don’t understand and know the life God has created us to have. “If we wake up in love with Jesus, spend our day in love with Jesus, and go to sleep in love with Jesus, then we will have fulfilled his first command – to love the Lord your God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
What does all this mean? What exactly is this ‘thing’ we are meant to become? As I dove deeper into my notes and thought about Todd’s above quote, it was all made clear when I added one word to the phrase: “…you can’t really do the thing until you become like the thing.” In other words, we cannot fully live this life until we become invested in following the one who sacrificed his to give us ours. In John 11:25, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” So, if we want to live a joyous life, and it is written that Jesus is life, then why not start by living a life for Jesus? We do life by becoming more Christ-like. We relinquish our selfish ways, our need to always know the plan, our acts of comparison, and we begin to see ourselves the way God sees us. We take the gifts and desires he has placed in our hearts and we execute them for the sake of his glory and his good.
You see, when we look in the mirror we see something completely different than what God sees. We see flaws, we see imperfections, we see the regrets from our past, the mistakes we made, rejection from others, our addictions, our sins, and our insecurities. We see that we’re ‘messed up’. God doesn’t see that. In fact, he does one better; he says, “I’ll see you’re ‘messed up’ and raise you freedom. He gives freedom from it all. That is how good our God is. He willingly came into this world and became our sin, so that we could become something more. Something more than what our shame, guilt, worry, and rejection tell us we are.
God is constantly forgiving us and pursuing us every single second of the day. He does this because we are his children that he made in his image. We’re made in HIS image! That’s huge!! God, who is perfect in all things, made us in his image – meaning he sees no imperfections in us.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m my own worst enemy. My indecisiveness, ability to overthink little details, and desires to understand every circumstance takes over and causes me to lose sight of who I am. Just the other day, as God was revealing some of that hard truth to me, I found myself writing in my journal. Six pages filled with ugly details from all of my past relationships. These were areas of my past that I never wanted to revisit because they were reminders of times when I was wronged and when I did wrong. The burdens I carried had been pushed way, way down. These memories had left permanent scars on my heart. As I sat there with shame-filled pages staring back at me, I realized just how much of an effect it all still had. The guilt, the anger, the fear and need for control – it was still consuming my every move. Then I heard God say, “Now take all of what you just wrote and go rip it up.”
This is a direct representation of our God. He loves us so much so that he calls out our sins and rips them up, tearing away their bondage over us. He forgives so that we can move forward with a pure heart into the plans he has for us. He does this so that we can become who he created us to be and live an abundant life in the body of Christ. He doesn’t call us to live under our pages of regret; he calls us to rise above, seek his face and be a living vessel of his work. But before we can fully rise to the occasion, to be our very best self, we must first be willing to sacrifice everything that keeps us tethered to the ground.
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12
A special thanks to our guest writer Kendall Kelley. You can find her online at http://www.onefinesoul.com/ and on instagram @onefinesoul.
By Karen Baloy
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT). I felt so liberated the first time I heard this verse. I had been completely owned by my fears prior to hearing it. Whenever I would feel the signs of a panic attack starting, I would recite this verse. I sometimes had to chant it on loop until the feelings passed. I knew God’s words were truth. I wasn’t going to let the enemy’s lies prevail. I wanted to be calm and loving, just like my precious Jesus.
As 1 John 4:18a reminded me, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.” (NKJV) Fear had no place in my life! Romans 8:15a was right, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear”. These verses brought me to a place of total reverence and awe of God, not to mention giving me an appreciation for the continual peace His Spirit provides.
Once I became more settled in my New Testament understanding of God, I began to study the Old Testament. I was immediately bombarded with verses that told me that I needed to fear God to find peace. The voices of my fire and brimstone preachers and teachers of my youth came flooding back. Is God good or is God bad? I’m supposed to demonstrate my love to God by showing him I’m afraid?!? The mixed messages continued to confuse me, even while reading other chapters of Psalms.
Reading Psalm 25 was a transformative experience. I felt urged to research verses 12-14, “Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”
After reading this verse, I wanted to find out why being afraid of Him would bring me wonderful things. It didn’t take long to discover that there are TWO definitions of fear. According to Eugene H. Merrill on BibleStudyTools.com, the two definitions of the verb fear are: 1) produces awe, reverence and obedience; and 2) that which causes one to cover in dread and terror in anticipation of his displeasure.
Prior to the revelation of these two definitions, I hadn’t quite reached peace because I thought I was flawed by not being afraid of God. But then I realized this is exactly what the enemy wanted. Now I can rejoice: Hallelujah, His truth has set me free! I’m no longer a slave to a misunderstanding of a single word. I have now released the spirit of fear by fearing God with all of my heart and all of my soul!
Are we truly aware of the impact our beliefs have on our life and our relationship with God?
She believes she is worthy.
She believes she is loved.
She believes she is accepted.
She believes she is victorious.
She believes she is powerful.
She believes she is righteous.
She believes she is significant.
She believes she has purpose.
She believes she can have hope in Christ.
She believes she is forgiven.
She believes God can heal her.
She believes God will heal her.
She believes she is full of the Holy Spirit.
She believes God makes His home in her.
She believes God works mightily through her.
She believes she can have a meaningful impact on others.
She believes God wants her to show His love to others.
She believes the joy of the Lord is her strength.
She believes she is courageous.
She believes God knows her by name.
She believes God will remove any chains that hold her down.
She believes she doesn’t have to live an unfulfilled life.
By Danielle Harmon
For the longest time, I was worried that I was going to miss God when He was speaking to me. I was constantly concerned, afraid, full of guilt and condemnation and felt that I would make a wrong turn and not hear Him. At times, I lacked confidence in my decisions because I was constantly afraid they were wrong. I was aware of the verse from John 10:27, which reads, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me”. However, I was afraid that somehow I would miss Him. An understanding of the Father’s love for me has been essential in learning to hear His voice more clearly.
Through His Holy Spirit, God has been teaching me that any fear, worry, condemnation, anxiety or depression that I hear or sense is not the voice of the Father. Whenever I have these feelings, they’re directly from the enemy. The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Therefore, if God is guiding me in His perfect love, He will not use fear to accomplish His purpose. Being fearful is not walking in the Spirit. Instead of fearing misdirection, I can remember Psalms 91:14-16 which speaks of the Lord’s protection, deliverance and guidance.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalms 91:14-16
Whenever feelings of doubt or fear creep into my mind disguised as “wisdom”, I can defeat them because of my understanding of God’s love. Meaning, I can recognize these thoughts and feelings as the voice of the enemy and extinguish them. Then, I replace them with the Truth of God’s Word. As Christians, we are instructed to do this in 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Learning to do this is essential to hearing the voice of God. It is the revelation of His love for me which has enabled me to have confidence in my right to use and apply His Truth to my life.
Now that I’m learning to hear God’s voice more clearly, the verse from John 10:27 has taken on new meaning. I have come to understand that the deeper my relationship with Him, the more clearly I hear Him. Continued learning and revelation of His character leads to greater ability to hear his guidance. As I grow in my understanding of Him, I have found that He will direct me so I can follow His will. The Bible tells us this in Proverbs 3:6: “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” I have confidence in knowing that the Father will tell me when to turn right or turn left. He will not lead me astray. He created me for His designed purpose and He is faithful to see it to completion by showing me the correct path. Just as a parent would not watch a child wander off in the wrong direction without speaking up, God will let me know when I start to roam so that I can make a change and turn back.
Through the revelation of the Father’s love for me, I have traded fear and anxiety for love and confidence in Him. I am no longer afraid of “missing God.” I know that He cares for me. As a result of the relationship that I have with Him, He will let me know when I start to get off-course. As I am consumed by His love, I find my refuge and peace in Him instead of being tossed around by worry and fear. I can rest in the knowledge that God truly loves and cares for me (See Psalms 23).
By Danielle Harmon
We all experience disappointments in life: the loss of a home or job, hurt feelings, difficult circumstances. Disappointment is the result of someone or something not meeting our expectations. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the privilege of filtering our disappointments through hope in Him.
We can have hope in spite of disappointment because Jesus’ sacrifice brings us a greater hope — the hope of new life. First Peter 1:3 (NIV) reads, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth in to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Discovering the living hope that is found in Jesus means that we do not have to be constantly disappointed. Hope does not carry around hurts, insecurities or offenses. Instead, we can have hope because there is more to come. And we can rejoice knowing that He willingly went to the cross so we could live abundant spiritual lives now, not just in Heaven.
We’re able to release our disappointments and embrace God’s Truth because the power of the Holy Spirit fills us with hope. Romans 15:13 (NIV) states, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Believing in God and His Truth produces joy and peace in us. And, as a result of the divine work of the Holy Spirit, we experience hope. This supernatural hope allows us the opportunity to see God provide for us when our children make life-altering mistakes, a business deal falls through or a friend doesn’t fulfill an obligation.
When feeling overwhelmed by disappointment, we can have an attitude of thankfulness towards God, which produces hope. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We are told in this verse to be thankful in every situation, including when we’re let down or disappointed. A thankful heart says, “God, I’m disappointed and this hurts; but even though this hurts, I can be thankful for who you are to me (provider, healer, etc.)”. Our thankfulness moves the focus from ourselves and our expectations to God and His goodness.
Although we are children of God, we live in a sinful world and experience dissatisfaction when our expectations aren’t met. Because we have hope through Jesus Christ, we do not have to live with constant disappointment: God offers us hope in its place. Instead of focusing on the circumstances that fall short of our expectations, we can focus on the hope we have in Jesus, with thankful hearts, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
By Danielle Harmon