Anxiety is not something often talked about because I believe that it has become such a subtle attack that it’s become a norm for our lives. But just because many of us struggle with anxiety doesn’t mean that it’s right. The good news is that we don’t have to handle anxiety on our own; we have help!
Anxiety is a form of fear. It deals with worrying about what hasn’t happened yet. In other words, while condemnation can haunt of us past mistakes, anxiety can try to rob us of looking forward to the future. Not to mention, its hard to have joy in the present.
One thing I learned on how to conquer anxiety is to decree the Truth. Anxiety brings lies with it. It loves to make us worry about what hasn’t taken place. Anxiety causes us to ask the question, “what if?” What if I get rejected? What if I don’t get the job? What if they don’t like me? What if they’re not for me? Worry is negative meditation. If we give in to these questions instead of confronting them with the Truth, our thoughts become consumed with lies. Instead, start speaking the opposite of what’s tormenting your thought life. Say things like, “I am accepted by God and those He has sent to my life.” “God has my future in His hands.” “I don’t have to worry about my needs because He promised that He would supply them.” Remember that life and death are in the power of our tongues, and we will eat the fruit of what we speak (Proverbs 18:21).
Another way to conquer anxiety is to focus on the now. Remember, anxiety deals with worrying about the future. Some practical ways I learned how to focus on the now is to simply take deep breaths (anxiety loves to bring panic attacks which affect our breathing, causing shortness of breath and chest tightness). As you breathe, focus on a few things you can smell. Then focus on what you can see. Next, focus on what you can feel. What do you hear? All these things surround us in the moment, and when we pay more attention to what’s happening now, it removes the power of anxiety in that moment. I learned from an amazing therapist, “when we’re in an anxious state, we’re not in the now.”
My prayer is that you know that because of Christ, you have power over anxiety. Christ died for us to be free from the spirit of bondage. I wanted to share some ways that I learned on how to overcome it, and I pray these ways help you.
In the Fire
Strange voices surround you, telling you, “You’re never coming out of this. You will always be broke. You will always be alone. No one will ever love you genuinely. You won’t ever be a homeowner. You won’t ever come out of debt. You’re not effective.” And it seems as if the more you push in the Truth, the heavier you become. You even go through seasons of lack, failure, making mistakes, and dealing with insecurities.
The goal of the enemy is to get us to turn our backs on God. He wants us to take on the mentality that we would be better off without Him, when actually, we would pay a great price being without Him. The enemy is capitalizing off of delays, rejections, and our fears. Much demonic assault and harassment has taken place because the enemy wants to tire us out to get us not to believe.
In the Bible
Do you remember the story in the Bible of the three Hebrew boys? In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold image. He had a meeting with all leaders to see this image, and told them that when they and all the people hear a sound played by instruments, they were to bow down and worship it. And there was also a consequence that if they do not bow down and worship the image they will be cast into a fiery furnace. So, the time came when the people heard the sound. Everyone bowed down and worshipped the image except for Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego.
King Nebuchadnezzar was very upset that they disobeyed his command. He had the three of them brought to him, and he gave them another chance to obey. They then said in verses 17-18, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, o king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou has set up.”
Did you hear their position and stance? They basically told the king, “even if God doesn’t deliver us, we still believe He is more powerful than you.” And if you read the rest of the story, they were actually thrown into the furnace, and to King Nebuchadnezzar’s satisfaction, the furnace was turned up seven times hotter. But also to his dismay, he saw four men instead of the three he had thrown in.
What’s the point of this story? Many times, we take on the stance that if we pray, God will help us avoid every storm, and that’s simply not true. As believers, we will have to go through some things, so it’s unfair to think that because we are Christians, we won’t ever have to endure anything. But just like in this story, God didn’t necessarily remove them from getting thrown into the fire; He was just present in the fire with them.
Do you have the attitude like the three Hebrew boys that even if God doesn’t do it, you will still serve Him rather than other gods? Can you resolve in your heart that there will be some storms you will have to go through? And even when you go through, God is in the storm with you! And just like the Hebrew boys, they didn’t smell like smoke. Neither will you smell like what you endured.
Ever been in a slump? Ever had the wind knocked out of you? Ever wondered how you were going to make it out of this? Ever experienced something that just shocked you? Yes, it hurt, and it still hurts. Yes, you’re in pain. You may be out of gas (momentum and drive), but you’re never alone.
Just because you had the wind knocked out of you doesn’t mean that the Spirit of God is not in you. Do not give in to those who are looking at you, wondering why you’re sad, as if you are not Spirit-filled for dealing with pain. Truthfully, no one can really understand where you are unless they’ve been where you are.
While you’re healing, you have a choice, either to let this pain drain you of every ounce of desire to move forward, or learn from the pain. The choice is yours. But do know that you have a choice, and you also have a voice. Use your voice to proclaim that you’re coming out. Believe that you can do all things through Christ who gives you the strength (Phil. 4:13). Be honest about where are you. Ask the Holy Spirit for help.
Yes, the pain came, and it’s excruciating, but you will make it. This pain is peculiar, one you’ve never experienced before, but you’re on the road to healing. I declare that you will bounce back. I declare that you will live. Let these words be your anthem.
Let it Go
As much as I want to get around it I cannot. Operating in the heart of God is so strong on my heart, and that’s all I keep hearing to share. This kind of love cannot be done in the flesh (carnal mindedness – sense and reason without the Holy Spirit). It must be done through Christ by the Holy Spirit.
At what point do we get tired of holding the grudge? Is this something we have resolved to do for the rest of our lives, knowing that it leads to us not being able to receive forgiveness from God (Matthew 6: 12, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have give up resentment against) our debtors.”)? What is it about holding grudges that has become “power”? Do we feel like we have such news on someone that could ruin them knowing that God has news on us that could ruin us? God chooses to forgive and toss our sins in the sea of forgetfulness.
What about the offense makes it so hard to move past? Is it even worth being angry about? Did it affect life in such a way that you are experiencing hardship and challenges, or was it a mere inconvenience? Have you noticed that those who wronged you have moved on with their lives? Are you waiting on an apology to be happy? Can you resolve in your heart that you may never get an apology? Can you also resolve in your heart that you’ve placed too much power in the hands of someone who’s not responsible for your happiness?
Look at how much time has been wasted, how many potential friendships that could have been formed, but because we were not “over it,” we viewed all new people in our lives through the eyes of our pain. As much as we want to go around it, forgiveness is a part of love. We cannot love God and allow our hearts to be full of unforgiveness. I understand that some things take time, but don’t allow time to be an excuse to keep you from receiving the release in your heart.
What if God was like us?
This is one of those self-evaluation questions. It’s very uncomfortable, because we don’t like to be confronted although we can have a tendency to be very confrontational. The nature of the Spirit of God is that of love. He is a God of Truth. He doesn’t use the Word to get over on us. The Truth is the Truth regardless of if we believe or not.
This is the time where we focus on our own motives, not the motives of others and what they did or did not do. We have no control of the actions of others. We can only do something about us. So I ask again, “What if God was like us?”
In our present state, would God celebrate others or would He be jealous? Would half of the things we say, “God said,” really authentic, or was it a plot to get people to listen to us? Currently, in our heart attitude, is God condescending? Does He make assumptions? Does He judge others based on what they look like?
Is God a gossiper? Does He lie? Is He revengeful? Does He get even? Does He use Scripture to justify bad behavior? Does His heart secretly become happy when He hears about the demise of others? Does He use His influence to tell people off, or does He use it to edify and build people up?
People of God, if we say we have Him, we must look like Him. Not saying that everything we do has to be perfect, but what I am saying is that the picture we paint of Him to others should be that of love. I’m so glad God is not like us, that His nature supersedes that of our flesh and carnal mindsets. I’m so glad He loves beyond bad habits, wrong heart motives and secrets.
But the responsibility comes as believers for us to love people beyond their mistakes, beyond their struggles, and beyond their embarrassments as well. Can people see God in you? It could be that the answer to your prayers for healing in this world will take place when you allow God to love others through you. Selah.
Immune to Living in Fear
There are fears that come and go in our lives, and then there are fears that paralyze us from moving forward and living in the peace of God. A major way to truly access peace is to face our fears. For some of us, we only have one fear; for others of us, we have many.
Do you find yourself being afraid to fail? Afraid of lack? Afraid of being alone? Afraid of rejection? Afraid of success? Do you find yourself working hard to keep people from talking about you rather than pursuing after your identity and purpose in God? What are you afraid of?
What I’ve learned from a book I’m reading called, “Simplify,” by Pastor Bill Hybels, every fear has an origin. In other words, the things or situations we fear derived from something that took place some time ago. Maybe you’re afraid to be alone because someone close to you abandoned you when you were little. Maybe you’re afraid of being original and unique because someone in your family made fun of you in some way. Perhaps you’re afraid of lack because you experienced a foreclosure or repossession in the past.
Ask yourself, “Why do I allow myself to be driven by the lies of the enemy?” You do know that fear is a lie the devil tells you, right? He loves to convince you that you’ll never be healed, whole, free, and happy. He wants you to believe that God doesn’t love you, and that you will spend the rest of your life living in the mundane. He wants you to be immune to living in fear. Because fear brings torment with it he wants you to be so inwardly conflicted and scared until you feel like you cannot talk to God.
The opposite of fear is love. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love.” Perfect love casts out all fear. So ultimately, when we allow lies to rule our worlds we are saying that God doesn’t love us. God loves you, and He wants you to receive that Truth in your heart today. Meditating on and receiving the love of God will give you ammunition to conquer your fears.
The Ball is in Our Court.
We’re here at the end of one year and about to embark upon the beginning of another, and if you’re like many, you’ve been careful not to make too many New Year’s resolutions, if any at all. You’ve seen the pattern of making announcements to yourself in the past and not being successful with following through as you planned. The goal is geared toward making lifestyle changes, and letting the Holy Spirit be the center of that decision making process.
We could say that 2015 was pretty tough to us as we have made the same statement about the past years. The Truth is that we are still here, and although we’ve faced some challenges in 2015 as we have in the years past, God was using those challenges to teach and grow us in some areas of our lives. So instead, we thank God that He is committed to our purpose and life in Him.
We could use slogans for the New Year as we have in times past, but we’ve seen how humorous that has been lately. We could even think that life is going to change for us once the clock strikes 12 am on January 1, 2016, but the truth is the ball is in our court.
Nothing will change unless we decide to change. And before life changes God has to deal with our heart and our head. What habits have the Holy Spirit spoken to you about giving to Him? What has He asked you to surrender lately? What foods have He instructed you to eat more of or stay away from? Has He impressed upon your heart to go to the gym more than you have? What items on your schedule cause you to be busy rather than productive? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to show you how to build a budget for the current provision God has entrusted you with?
The Holy Spirit is not one-sided. He is not just the God of our ministries; He is the God of our lives. And He desires every area of our lives to be blessed, our health, finances, marriages, relationships, and even our schedule. He wants us to be mentally and emotionally stable as well.
So today’s reminder is that the ball is in our court. God’s work was finished on the cross. He has always been committed to our Godly success (Joshua 1:8). The reason why we haven’t accessed it or seen it manifested could be because we were not obedient to His instructions.
No more “New Year, New You.” This will not be a magical experience, expecting someone to lay hands on us and all of a sudden everything changes. The power is not in the clock. The power is in our decision. Selah.
Is it good, or is it God?
I believe this is a very valid question to ask ourselves. Am I doing a good thing, or am I doing God’s will? How do I know the difference between the two? Isn’t it supposed to be normal to do good things?
I believe that balance is an important aspect to help us determine whether or not we are doing things purposefully or just simply doing good things to keep us busy. Balance is a product of wisdom. God’s wisdom will help us discern this.
It is God’s will for us to be intentional and purposeful about everything we do (Ephesians 5:15-17). We should be intentional about working, and we should also be intentional about resting. The problem comes in when we find ourselves overworked, stressed, overwhelmed and rushed as a lifestyle. Though this is considered “normal” in our society, it is not the norm for us through the eyes of God.
It’s so very easy to get in the rush-rush of things. We have so many opportunities pulling at us, so many things vying for our attention. Some of those things are distractions, keeping our time and energy tied up into things that appear to be good but are not God’s will. The intent of the enemy is to keep us burned out doing things we are not called to do while having no energy when the opportunity comes that’s a God-send.
Remember Mary and Martha in the Bible? In Luke 10:38-42 Mary was at the feet of Jesus while Martha was the one doing all of the work. Martha got upset with Mary because, in her eyes, she should have been helping, but Jesus said that she received the greater and better portion, a portion that shall never be taken away from her. There comes a time where even ministry, without the wisdom of the Lord and the leading of the Holy Spirit, can bring about negative effects in our lives. We can be so busy working that we’re not worshipping. And it’s hard to hear His voice if we’re not worshipping.
So, how do we know if it’s a good thing or a God thing? The sobering thing to do first is to ask the Holy Spirit to check our motives. Let’s make sure that we are not doing good things to prove anything to anyone. Secondly, let’s make sure we understand and know the purpose in which we do everything. Thirdly, let’s never be too busy working that we cannot hear God. That’s a good starting point. The Holy Spirit will reveal the rest.
The Power of Perspective
How we see a situation can either strengthen or weaken our faith. Perspective can be positive or negative. What we focus on will not only magnify but also will be attracted to us.
Our thoughts have images attached to them. Whatever we think about will create a picture associated with that thought. So if we think about something negative, bad pictures are formed in our minds. If we think positive, we will see just that. Whatever we see will be spoken, whether positive or negative. And whatever thought(s) we let sit in our minds long enough are those we have received.
Right now, you are going through a lot, and the devil wants you to not only set your thoughts, but concentrate on bad things always happening to you. He wants you to receive the thought that you will never be better, that you will always be where you are, and that you will never get any further than now. I know we are all human, but we cannot use that as an excuse for self-sabotage.
You have a weapon to use. God did not leave you powerless. You’re not defenseless. The Word of God is your weapon of advancement. You must use the Word of God to plant His thoughts in your mind so you can think what He wants you to think, see what He wants you to see, and ultimately say what He wants you to say. You can’t do this making excuses (finding the Word of God boring, not having enough time to read and study). Be honest and determine within yourself if where you are is unhealthy and undesirable enough for you to change some things. Please know that no one has been given this power of decision but you. I know it’s tempting to want others to do it for you, but God loves you, and He’s given you the gift of choice. He has already provided the way of escape. You just have to take it.
Consistently use the Word of God to change how you think, see, speak and pray. Think on those things that are honest, noble, just, true and of good report (Phil. 4:8). God not only desires for you to have victory in every area of your life, He sent Jesus to give it you already. The key to the manifestation of this victory is your obedience to the voice of the Holy Spirit. So wipe your eyes, dust your shoulders off, get back up and go forth. You don’t have to run quicker than anyone else, just as long as you endure.
Do you want to be made whole?
This is the question I’m hearing the Lord ask us, “Do you want to be made whole?” See, wholeness is different from being healed, because when we are whole we lack nothing. The main thing that’s keeping us from receiving our wholeness in God is our lack of faith in Him. Notice I didn’t say, “Faith in stuff coming to pass,” but rather, we should have faith and trust God to be God. There’s a distinct difference.
Before going any further, please know that wholeness is what God desires for you. There’s no question about that. You don’t have to pray for God to make you whole; the only thing you need to do is ask God to align you so you can get in position to receive His wholeness for your life.
There are many contributing factors that keep us from believing God to make us whole. For one, our comfort with where we are hinders us. For some of us, our conditions are not undesirable enough to change, so we think that staying sick, staying depressed and other things are normal. And as long as we view it that way we can’t see that it’s not God’s will for our lives. Secondly, we think that accessing wholeness is a magical thing, and it’s not. In other words we expect people to lay hands on us without us making the decision to change. It’s not the oil or their hands that will change us; those things only work when there’s agreement and a willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit. Thirdly, some of us struggle with convincing ourselves that we will not get out of where we are. We allow the spirit of pride to single us out as to say that our situation is worse than any other, and God is not able. Another hindrance is a lack of obedience. For some situations God will take the appetite away instantly, but in other situations we must be willing to follow the instructions of the Lord.
James 4:7 says for us to submit to God, resist (or violently oppose) the devil, and he will flee from us. The reason why the devil is not fleeing is because we have not violently opposed his lies, and neither have we submitted to God. It’s easy to hear the devil because we constantly feed, make allowances for, and justify what the devil tells us. And on the other hand, we make excuses for what God says about us.
It’s a sobering question and a bitter pill to swallow, but the Lord says that this deliverance is on us; it lies in our decision. We’re not waiting on God; He’s waiting on us to obey and submit to Him so He can lead us out of where we are. Selah.