Surely, they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. – Isaiah 49:15 NKJV
Getting arrested was probably the lowest point of my life, and I became obsessed over what people were saying and thinking about me because of it. That obsession turned into anger, disappointment, and depression once I discovered some of the things that people were saying and believing about me - things that caused them to dissociate themselves from me. I allowed the actions of others to affect me negatively because we often give people outsized influence over our feelings and thoughts in an attempt to feel liked and accepted.
People have the right to leave us and form whatever opinions about us they want. However, we have the responsibility to not allow what others do and say affect our mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. So, to quote Mya Angelou, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Do not try to convince or stop someone from walking away from you. When they go, let them go.
Let Them Go
On two separate occasions we witness Jesus feeding his followers. In Mark 6, Jesus feeds 4,000 men (not including women and children) and at the beginning of John 6, Jesus feeds 5,000 men (not including women and children). So, we can assume that at any given time, Jesus had anywhere between 4,000 to 10,000 people (if you include women and children) following Him. But by the time we get to the end of John 6, Jesus has lost thousands of followers.
On hearing [Jesus’s teachings], many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” … From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. – John 6:60 & 66 NIV
Not even Jesus, at the height of his popularity, was immune from people leaving Him. When He was healing, performing miracles, and feeding the masses, they cheered Him on, followed Him, and spread good news about Him but when His directives became too difficult for them, they left.
When some people think they know how your story is going to end, they leave. When some people feel as if you have nothing more to offer them, they leave. When some people can no longer manipulate or abuse you, they leave. Do not hold on to people who choose to leave. You should not only let them go, but you should also help them go by blocking, deleting, and ignoring.
Jesus gave His followers a choice. They could leave or they could stay, and thousands decided to leave. Jesus did not run after those who chose to leave Him, and neither should you. Instead, He turned his attention to those who truly loved and supported Him.
Instead of stressing over who left you, learn to appreciate those who chose to stay with you.
You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:66-68 NIV
Not everyone left Jesus, the twelve disciples, including Judas, stayed. And after four years of hurt, frustration, doubt, and unemployment not everyone left me. The ones who mean the most to me stayed and through them I experienced God’s goodness, grace, love, and mercy.
We often give too much of our time and focus to those who hurt and abandoned us, instead of to those who are currently supporting us. So, take a moment, look around, and see who stayed. Place your energy on those who want the best for you - those who uplift and care for you. Love those who love you. Pour into those who pour into you. Cherish those who cherish you. Encourage those who encourage you.
Commit your works to the LORD [submit and trust them to Him], And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance]. – Proverbs 16:3 AMP
It is a new year, but the same devil is still prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, manipulate, deceive, and destroy (1 Peter 5:8). While the calendar, your mindset, and attitude may be changing, many of the same problems from last year will attempt to define you this year. To successfully overcome the old schemes of the enemy and transition into a new season of love, happiness, purpose, and overflow you are going to have to be disciplined, intentional, and fearless.
No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:11 BSB
According to studies, 80 percent of New Year Resolutions fail by February. They fail because we make declarations and vision boards but do not follow through with action plans. Action plans are the steps we take to transform our visions into reality and that requires discipline, and discipline requires us to sacrifice short-term satisfaction for long-term gains.
Discipline takes the form of boundaries in our personal, spiritual, financial, and emotional lives. If you want to be the best version of yourself this year, you are going to have to create and enforce boundaries. That may mean changing some of your lifestyle habits (staying home instead of going out), altering how you think about yourself (you are more than a conqueror), and being more mindful of the people you are allowing into your life (everyone should not have access to you). The more boundaries you adhere to, the better off your life will be.
Plan carefully and you will have plenty; if you act too quickly, you will never have enough. - Proverbs 21:5 GNT
We tend to be intentional about things that are inconsequential. We are more intentional about the clothes, shoes, and accessories we wear, cars we drive, and pictures we post on social media than we are about the people we associate with, things we consume, and feelings we express. In your next season, you are going to have to be more intentional about your relationships, emotions, health, and worship.
Be more intentional about praying, attending church, and reading your Bible. Be more intentional about reaching out to friends, returning messages, and spending quality time with loved ones. Be more intentional about your health, the foods you eat, and exercising. Be more intentional about budgeting your money. Be more intentional about how you are living your life and watch as God reward you for your obedience.
The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can man do to me? – Psalm 118:6 NLT
To be great, you are going to have to be fearless. That means you must stop negotiating with negative thoughts, pessimistic people, and self-sabotaging behaviors over your future and instead trust that God, who orders your steps, will meet your every need.
Being fearless does not mean being careless, but it does mean being disciplined, intentional, and clear on the endeavors you pursue this year. So, take a chance and bet on yourself, not succumbing to your misgivings or criticism, but instead aggressively pursuing the things God has placed on your heart.
I am so happy for the things God is about to do for you in this new year. Your business will thrive, a new relationship awaits you, your promotion is imminent, your health is improving, and your joy is returning. Embrace all that God has for you by being disciplined, intentional, and fearless. Do not allow the old tricks of the enemy to stop you from taking advantage of the new opportunities that await you this year. Yes, the devil is the same, but the blessings will be new!
May the Lord himself, who is our source of peace, give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all. - 2 Thessalonians 3:16 GNT
Peace is defined as a state of calm and harmony between your mind, body, and soul. The Greek word for peace is εἰρήνην (eiréné) which can be interpreted as “. . . the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing [apart] from God and content with its earthly [circumstances]. . .”
Before Christ is arrested and crucified, He takes the time to remind His disciples in John 14 that He is leaving them with peace. Now, Jesus did not have much time to waste, and you would think that He would have used what little time He had left to remind the disciples of the importance of love, forgiveness, or prayer, but instead he reminds them of His peace.
So, why does Jesus highlight peace before the cross? Because He knew that this world would try to substitute His peace with one that is contrary to His teachings.
The Peace the World Gives
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. - John 14:27 NIV
The peace the world gives are really problems designed to look like solutions. The peace of this world tells us that if we just get married that we will be happy, that if we get the job, we will be fulfilled, or that if we get more money, we will not have any more difficulties. All those things require you to work in-order to obtain peace, but Christ informed us that peace is a gift that He gives us, meaning it is something we accept and not work for.
The Peace That God Gives
The peace that God gives does not equate to the absence of problems; instead, it requires us to acknowledge His presence in our problems. God’s peace is the type of peace that will allow you to sleep in the middle of a storm (Matthew 8:24), that will give you the confidence to face your giants and allow you to declare; regardless of your situation and circumstances, that all things will work out for your good (Romans 8:28).
So, if you want peace in your life, do not look for it in people or things, instead accept it from God.
Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. - Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP
On October 26, 2018, at 5 A.M. a knock at my front door startled me out of my sleep. The knock wasn’t from a friend or a neighbor, it was from the police. I was only a few hours away from boarding a plane, traveling to Costa Rica, and celebrating my 33rd birthday. Instead, I found myself in jail, in distress, and in pain. Trouble knocked at my door that morning, and I answered it. When I say I answered it, what I mean is I tried to resolve and make sense of what was happening to me without going to God first.
What trouble has knocked at your door that you answered? Maybe it was a layoff you were not expecting, a disappointing medical report, collection notice, eviction, separation, or unexpected death. Oftentimes, when we find ourselves in a situation that we never imagined we would be in - we try to take care of it on our own. Instead of trusting God, we look for solutions in people, money, material goods, and self-sabotaging behaviors.
There are some things that people, money, drugs, sex, etc. cannot fix or heal. For those things, you need God. I know I did. Money got me out of jail and got me a lawyer, but it could not give me my freedom - only God could do that. Freedom, not in the form of deliverance from my troubles, but in knowing that regardless of my situation and circumstances that God is fighting for me (Exodus 14:14). And if God is fighting for us, what troubles can stand against us (Romans 8:31)?
Set-up by God
So, when trouble knocks at your door, let God answer it. You should let God answer it because He is the one who invited it. If you do not believe God invites trouble, just look at the story of Job:
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil… One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” - Job 1:1, 6-8 NIV
God asked Satan “where have you come from?” and Satan answered from roaming the earth. We know from 1 Peter 5:8, that the devil roams the earth like a roaring lion, looking for someone to attack. Now God, being completely unprovoked, offers Job to Satan for him to attack. Why would God invite Satan to attack Job, a good man who was blameless, honest, and upright? Because God uses our trials to strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.
God knows what He put within you and what you can withstand. He knows that though you may stumble, you will not be overwhelmed, because He is holding your hand (Psalm 37:24). Therefore, do not try to fix every problem, respond to every situation, or lose sleep worrying about how you are going to survive the attack of the enemy. Instead, place your faith in God, seek Him vigorously, hold on to His unchanging hand, and watch as He deliberately makes everything beautiful at the right time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
“The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But it does not sink deep into them; they believe only for a while but when the time of testing comes, they fall away.” – Luke 8:13 GNT
Our faith must be constantly renewed, protected, and managed. If not, we run the risk of losing it - the one thing that can help us navigate the darkness that surrounds us during times of uncertainty, anxiety, and lonesomeness. Now faith is the assurance of the things we hope for and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). But it becomes difficult for us to remain faith filled when all we can see are setbacks and sorrow around us.
There have been many times in my life where I felt like abandoning my faith. Times when I did not see the value in trusting God, as my world was crumbling around me. Maybe that is where you are today - feeling that as time goes on, the hope you once had for a marriage, child, job, healing, recovery, or breakthrough is waning. We are often taught that faith is asking God for something and waiting patiently until He provides it to us. But I learned that faith is believing that God can do it even if He doesn’t do it.
For three years I asked God to have the criminal charge against me dismissed and I am now going on year four without any resolution, but I still believe that God can do it. For three years I prayed for a job and haven’t received one, but I still believe that God can provide. My family prayed for my uncle to be healed from COVID and he died, yet I still trust God as a healer.
Do not define your faith by a setback, poor result, or an unanswered prayer. Faith isn’t about receiving something from God; it is declaring like Martha did after the death of her brother when she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:21-22). Martha asked Jesus to save her brother, her brother died, yet she still believed and had faith in God’s supreme authority.
Your faith, then, does not rest on human wisdom but on God's power.
- 1 Corinthians 2:5 GNT
The Grace To Go On
God does not always give us what we ask for. Sometimes the sickness ends in death, the womb remains barren, the relationship dissolves, the job lays you off, and the rent isn’t paid. That doesn’t mean that God has forgotten about you, that He doesn’t love you, or hasn’t heard your prayers - it means that He is going to provide you with the grace to withstand your disappointment.
When we don’t receive what we have been asking God for, the enemy uses our disillusionment to separate us from God. He wants to rob us of our faith because he knows that it is impossible for us to please God without it (Hebrews 11:6). So, he encourages us to place our faith in people, money, material goods, and things that make us feel good, but ultimately, leaves us hopeless. Remember, there is no relief in the words of the devil.
When the time of your testing comes, do not fall away. You may be disappointed, afraid, and apprehensive, but still believe that even now God can save, heal, deliver, and redeem you. Your situation and circumstances are in God’s hands. Trust and believe in Him and He will renew you.
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