What are you gripping? Do you ever feel like if you let go, you’ll fall into a chasm of hopelessness? There’s a time to fight and hang on for dear life and then there’s a time to release.
And sometimes the release is the best battle strategy we could ever choose. Sometimes the release is what fighting looks like and releasing is when we find our strength.
It’s one of the paradoxes of following Christ. It’s a both/and. It’s both facing the battle and releasing. You can stand firm on your battlefield and still choose to release. But what do we release?
We release our thanksgiving, our praise, our remembrance of who God is and what he has done. That’s how we battle.
We release our control and perceived outcome on how God should move in our situation. That’s how we know peace and hope.
The following scripture passage is taken from 2 Chronicles 20. The verses I share here are only a small part of the greater story and I hope you’ll open your Bible and read the full chapter. First, they stood, and then they released.
Stand and Release
“After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” 2 Chronicles 20:21-22
Enemies take different forms. They can be people, but they can take shape through our insecurities, our doubts, and even our thoughts. But God. He transforms, he renews, he holds us close, and he never fails.
Let’s release today. Release what? Both praise, worship, thanksgiving and our fears about the future, or our grip on the outcome of our current circumstances.
We come to you unknowing how you will work things out, but we stand firm in our faith that you love, that you are our refuge, that through you we are strong. And as we stand, we release our praise for your goodness and kindness. That you are great and mighty and oh so gracious. Oh Lord, you are with us, right here, right now. You are in our past, and already in our tomorrows, and we are grateful.
God, we release our angst over our lives and our kids’ lives and the circumstances that we have no control over, but seem to be controlling us. We surrender them to you and we trust you. We know that as we trust, we cannot be shaken, we cannot fail, because you are our rock and refuge. You help, you provide, and you guide.
Lord, as we release we ask that you would move on our behalf and that you would enable us to trust you even when we cannot see you. Holy One, you are mighty and good and filled with inexpressible love for us and we receive you. We believe you and we receive your love.
Let us go into our todays with confidence and face our tomorrows with trust because you are with us.
I love you, Lord and praise you with all that I am. I look to you. You are my everything, In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I pray that this week is a week of release. That you will be set free in ways you never dreamed.
I wrote an article on what it means to have a gentle and quiet spirit. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here.
May Lord bless you as the sun rises and sets and may you know the light of his face as he looks at you,
How do we translate joy into strength when this life seems to drain us of our energy?
We live in the thin place where we function in this world but not of the world. Where we embrace grace so that we can live well with grace while resisting the temptations of the world that hold us back and prevent us from standing strong in the faith that saves.
It’s in the thin place where we realize that we don’t affect transformation but that God works within our surrendered hearts so that we experience renewal. If we look within ourselves for joy and fulfillment we’re let down. If we look to others then we join the human race of competition and comparison where we’re always, always disappointed.
But if we look to God for joy, we discover the source of joy, and the strength to face the troubles that comes with this life.
The end of Nehemiah 8:10 states, “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” In context, we discover the Israelites weeping as they listening to Ezra reading the word of God.
Nehemiah tells the people that it’s good and right to be sorrowful over their sin, but not to allow their sorrow to be so excessive that it hinders their joy in God and cheerful service. He exhorts them to find strength in God’s joy.
This joy of the Lord as our strength is not found in the flesh, but found in the holy understanding that God is good, that his grace directs and governs our lives, and that our hearts delight in his love and favor.
God is Good
Many times the world seems to disprove this, but if we look with eyes to see, we find God’s hand. At times we expect God to ride in on a white stallion and remove us from our situations, when in reality, he sends people along with a kind word, a gentle smile that gives us the strength to endure. We can serve other’s in this way as well.
God is good. Just because bad things happen doesn’t mean he endorses them. This life holds pain, struggles, triumph, and joy, and we mustn’t judge God based our circumstances. Knowing the joy of the Lord as our strength begins with wrapping our minds around the truth that he is good.
God’s Grace Directs and Governs
God’s grace does not endorse sinful behavior, but makes a way to resist the behavior that separates us from him. We’re not sinners because we sin, we sin because we’re born sinners. God’s grace governs and directs our lives and makes a way for us to resist temptation.
As living sacrifices we struggle with the battle between our flesh and our spirit and it’s through God’s grace that we’re able to be renewed. God’s transforming grace governs our lives as we surrender to him day after day. His joy is our strength to say “yes” to him over and over.
God Loves and Favors Us
Joy as our strength to obey comes through the celebration of God’s love and favor for us. Receiving God’s love is foundational to our day to day walk with Christ.
He loves you with an everlasting love that doesn’t waver based on your feelings, but remains constant because God is constant. It’s his consistent love that compels us to obey him even when it’s hard. God’s love propels us onward because his joy is the oil that lubricates the wheels of our obedience.
His favor rests on you, the apple of his eye, and motivates you to obey his call in your life. He calls us to live a worthy life: a life clothed with compassion and kindness, grace and mercy, love and obedience.
The joy that radiates from him like a piercing light is the place where we receive the strength to do the hard things like resisting our sinful nature and saying yes to the ways of God.
God’s joy is our strength to receive his forgiveness and to live like we’re forgiven. Yes, we grieve over our sin and troubles in this life, but we also can live in abundance and God’s joy is the strength that enables us to do so.
Normally autumn is full of contrasts: bright blue skies against golden yellow cornfields. Bright red and gold leaves. Emerald grass and brown fields. Skies filled with constellations twinkling on a midnight curtain. But the skies have been pregnant with clouds, heavy and foreboding.
These gray days of marching forward no matter what while shrouded in lack of light have become symbolic to my faith. I believe the sun has risen even though I can’t see or feel it and so I behave in a way that confirms that belief.
I get up and follow my morning routine of teeth brushing, face washing, coffee making, praying and scripture reading. When the clock says 8am, I begin the day’s work and at noon, I break for lunch. All the while, it’s gray, depressing gray, and my spirit wilts and a scowl digs permanent furrows in my brow.
But when the sunshine pierces the gray mass, I rejoice by throwing my arms up, upturn my face, close my eyes and feel the sun warming my bones. Then I tuck the remembrance of what it feels like into my memory when the gray blankets my world once again.
It’s a simple illustration, but living out broken cycles is like wrestling through the sunny and gray days.
Living as #cyclebreakers means that we’ll have days when we feel like we’re conquerors, but we’ll also have days when we will feel imprisoned to old ways, habits, and thoughts.
In those moments, you must remember that you are a conqueror who lives by faith.
Living by faith is an active, continual journey upward and onward. It’s fluid and moving and ebbs and flows. Then it circles back around to readdress an old wound or realign a misguided heart. Yes, we receive Jesus by faith, but then we activate that faith when we live the truth of what we believe.
Will it be hard? Yes.
Will we see the fruit? Maybe.
Will we be forever changed? Absolutely.
You are a bold, fierce cycle-breaker because of the One who reigns in your heart.
Live boldly with activated faith like these examples:
Noah. . . who’s faith led him to spend 120 years building the ark, who teaches us faith in the face of ridicule.
Abraham. . . who left his hometown to go to a land he didn’t know who teaches us faith in the heart of God to lead and guide us.
Moses. . . who confronted Pharaoh, delivered his people, and led an unruly nation to the Promised land who teaches us our strength comes not from us, but from the One who is strength.
Joshua. . . and the Israelites in their unusual military strategy against Jericho who show us how to be obedient even when we don’t understand how things will work out.
Jesus. . . as he went to the cross to break the sin cycle once and for all and who is everything we need.
Believe and act. That’s the key to breaking cycles.
When you fail (because you will) refuse to accept condemnation and self-recrimination. Confess, receive forgiveness (from yourself, too), ask for strength, and move on.
Don’t aim for perfection. Aim for obedience.
These tools of breaking cycles are in your toolkit now. Each one works in conjunction with each other to break cycles, but the one you reach for will depend on what’s happening in your head and heart.
Do your thoughts ride an incessant merry-go-round? Be still.
Activating your faith means walking boldly in the face of your fears, enemies, and failures because of who is in you. God’s Holy Spirit will strengthen you, encourage you, and build you up. (Acts 9:31) He spreads a table before you in the presence of your enemies. He leads you to quiet waters and restores your soul.
He is for you and and not against you and equips you with every good gift in order to bring glory to him here in this life.
Remember God equips you for the task. He’s set you free from the bondage of sin and he will enable you to break the patterns that prevent you from running in his freedom.