Walking in Truth in an Epidemic of Deception

truth-lies-signIn today’s world, we see deception growing at an alarming rate. It seems more and more people, both believers and the lost, are being duped by fake news sites, false teachers, and duplicitous leaders than ever before. For years, a growing belief that truth is relative has become widespread. Many think that as long as they are sincere in their beliefs, they can decide for themselves what is true or not. But they are sincerely wrong, because truth is not relative, it is absolute. Truth is defined by one person only – the One who IS truth, and His name is Jesus. (John 14:6)

Jesus said the devil is a liar and the father of lies, and there is no truth in him. (John 8:44) So we know that much of the deception we are seeing is a result of people who are believing his lies. But Scripture also tells us we can deceive ourselves. This can happen in several ways: our prideful hearts can deceive us (Obadiah 1:3, Jer. 49:16); sin can deceive us (Rom. 7:11); believing God can be mocked can deceive us (Gal. 6:7); believing God tempts us can deceive us (James 1:13-16); and believing hanging out with the wicked won’t corrupt us, can deceive us (1 Cor. 15:33), to name a few.

Jesus said that knowing the truth will set us free (John 8:32), so seeking after, loving, and embracing truth should be one of our greatest desires and pursuits. We have been given God’s Spirit; He is also called the Spirit of Truth, who will lead us into all truth, according to Jesus. (John 16:13) He also acknowledged that God’s word is truth. (John 17:17) It is through speaking the truth in love that we grow into maturity. (Eph. 4:15) The belt of truth, in Eph. 6:14, is symbolic of truth being the piece of our protective armor that holds all the other pieces in place. Walking in truth is indeed great protection, guarding us from the enemy’s attacks. The Father seeks worshippers who worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

Truth is vital to our spiritual growth and maturity. We must not settle for mere head knowledge of it, however; we must daily apply it to our lives. Deception is the enemy’s greatest weapon because the nature of it is that you don’t know when you are being deceived. To get free from deception requires one to humbly submit to someone they trust more than they trust themselves. Believing lies will always lead to deception – always. We must know the truth for ourselves, believe it, receive it, and walk in it, no matter the cost. To not do so is spiritual suicide.

One of the scariest passages in Scripture is Romans 1:18-32, describing the downward spiral God allows in the lives of those who know, but suppress, the truth. This word, “suppress” literally means “to detain, hold back, hinder, or restrain the course or progress of.” These people knew God, but didn’t glorify or give Him thanks. They exchanged His glory for His creation, worshipping and serving His creatures rather than Him. And they exchanged His truth for lies, and did not believe knowing Him was worthwhile. They even knew that doing these things is wrong, but continued to do them, and approved of others who do likewise. We can see this happening all around us even now.

Obviously, God sent His Son to show us and teach us the truth so we can be free to know Him as He truly is, and to know ourselves as well. He has given us His Word and His Spirit to help us. It is up to us to take advantage of what He has made available, to ask Him to, “Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God, my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.” (Ps. 25:4-5)

Recognize and Get Free From Unrealistic Expectations

Have you ever expected something from someone that they didn’t live up to? I’m sure reality-check-ahead-sign-unrealistic-stealing-dreams-blog-e1407820920643-400x400every person that has ever lived or ever will, has. I suppose it is just part of our human nature. We expect things from the people around us all the time, mostly without realizing it. We expect our friends and family to be there when we need them. We expect our spouse or significant other to always love us. We expect our children to adopt our values. We expect others to be grateful when we help them. These are just a few examples.

It’s not necessarily wrong to expect certain things from others. But when we expect more than they are capable of giving or doing, our expectations are unrealistic. When we have unrealistic expectations, we set ourselves up to be hurt and disappointed. Years ago when I was very wounded, I actually expected my husband to be able to read my mind…no joke. I had some pretty serious issues. Each time he failed to do so, which was pretty much all the time, my heart was more deeply wounded. As I later learned, no one is capable of reading my mind, other than God. It wasn’t my husband’s fault or intention to hurt me, it was my own naivete or stupidity that was at fault. It was a lie I was believing from the enemy.

I have seen many others fall into this same trap. Maybe you have, too. So how do we avoid making this same mistake? First, ask the Lord to show you any unrealstic expectations you may have towards anyone. One possible sign is continual conflict in relationships, or a pattern of broken relationships. Another is continual feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, or betrayal. Be honest with yourself when you are hurt by someone. Ask yourself what you were expecting from that person. If your expectation seemed reasonable, then try talking through the issue or get counseling from a third person if needed. If you were expecting more than was humanly possible, take responsibility for your mistake, apologize, and seek forgiveness.

Sometimes it may help to put yourself in the other person’s place. How would you feel if they were expecting from you, what you were expecting from them? Ask the Lord to show you the lies you may be believing. Renouce and break agreement with them, and receive His truth. Avoid blame shifting; it never resolves anything but only adds to the problem and the hurt. Look to the Lord to fulfill the needs only He can meet. Some needs aren’t meant to be fulfilled by people. God designed us to be dependent upon Him first and foremost. What we receive from others is then just icing on the cake. Expecting others to be your all, to make you happy, complete, satisfied or fulfilled will only lead to hurt, anger, and disappointment. It isn’t that others may not want to be that, but that they cannot. They aren’t made to, and neither are you made to be someone’s all in all.

Take responsibility for your unrealstic expectations and do whatever is necessary to change them. This will set you free to love and enjoy your relationships without the weight of those expectations being placed upon them. Changing your beliefs will also help prevent unnecessary hurt and disappointment. Remember that even those with the best intentions will let you down at times, all of us do. We are all in need of God’s infinite grace and mercy!

 

Survivor or Overcomer? The Choice is Yours.

tmp475674510146666496Years ago I used to watch a television show called Survivor. I’m sure most of us are familiar with the premise of it. A group of strangers was taken to a remote location, given very limited provisions, and a predetermined length of time to figure out how to survive. Though we may not be faced with those types of challenges on a daily basis, many live in what I call survivor mode. We go through life reacting to difficult circumstances, trying to make it through each day. For some it means making it from paycheck to paycheck. Others may be enduring from one treatment to the next. It could be attempting to cope with multiple bad relationships. Generally speaking, challenges turn into crises and life becomes a battle we hope to withstand. Somehow that doesn’t sound to me like the abundant life Jesus promised He came to give us.

Of course, everyone faces difficulties; Jesus never said it would be easy. In fact, He forewarned us that this would be the case. But He never intended for us to hang on, hoping to be rescued one day. His plan was, and still is, for us to overcome. An overcomer thinks, and looks, nothing like a survivor. Those who believe they can overcome will let nothing stop them. They “grab the bull by the horns,” so to speak, using trials to propel them to new levels of growth and maturity. An overcomer runs to the battle, not from it, believing they can and will win. They meet challenges with steely determination, not dread and foreboding. Overcomers do not deny the pain, but are convinced they will conquer it. They have undaunted zeal to reach their greatest potential. Even when they get knocked down, they respond with perseverance, getting back up again and again. The Apostle Paul said it well, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9)

The difference between a survivor and an overcomer is in what they believe. The good news is, we get to choose what we believe! No one else can do it for us. We are not victims of our circumstances, unless we choose to be. God gave us free choice, and He will always honor whatever choice we make, good or bad. If you’ve been living in survivor mode, ask yourself these questions: Do I want to be a victim? Can I control this situation (whatever you’re facing right now)? Will I decide to react to it, based on how I feel? Will I choose to respond to it, believing God will bring good from it? Can I choose to trust God will walk with me through this?

Remember, reactions are always rooted in the flesh; responses are rooted in the Spirit. When we react to something, it comes from our feelings, which is part of our soul. We react in fear, worry, dread, anger, despair, etc. If we train ourselves to stop and think for a moment, we are more apt to respond than react. Responses are easier if we’ll immediately focus on God rather than how we feel. We must pause and ask ourselves, is He with me right now? Does He know what is happening? Does He know and care how I feel? Is He still in control? Can I trust His goodness in spite of this pain? These and similar questions will help us to quiet our soul and choose to trust Him.

Jesus has made it possible for us to overcome even the most difficult situations, for He overcame them all, including death and hell. He calls us overcomers, more than conquerors, and we can be, if we choose to see ourselves as such. We must take Him at His word, and trust His grace to enable us in our weakness. We don’t have to live in survivor mode any longer. Overcoming life is abundant life; the life He makes available to all who choose to receive it. We honor and glorify Him when we decide to use to the fullest this amazing grace!

The Faith of Abraham

“…Abraham is our father in God’s sight because he trusted God as the one Abrahams faithwho gives life to the dead and calls nonexistent things into existence. For he was past hope, yet in hope he trusted that he would indeed become a father to many nations, in keeping with what he had been told, “So many will your seed be.” His trust did not waver when he considered his own body–which was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old–or when he considered that Sarah’s womb was dead too. He did not by lack of trust decide against God’s promises. On the contrary, by trust he was given power as he gave glory to God, for he was fully convinced that what God had promised He could also accomplish.” – Romans 4:17-21

If God sees and considers Abraham as my father, then it seems He would expect me to be like him. A child usually takes on the characteristics of their parents; therefore, it seems God would want me to have the same trust in Him as Abraham did. Since Abraham believed God gives life to the dead–which was his body–and calls nonexistent things into existence–which would have been his seed–then I need to believe the same things. I know He gives life to the dead because He raised Jesus from the dead. He calls nonexistent things into existence because His Word has creative power. He spoke the universe and all creation into being.

But how did Abraham know God gives life to the dead? Had he actually seen or experienced that when he decided to believe Him? How did he know He calls nonexistent things into existence? The Scriptures had not yet been written. In reading over his story in Genesis 15, we can see that he had some powerful encounters with God. Obviously, he believed God because of his relationship with Him. He had come to know and trust Him. However, he was still human. Later, he made the mistake of sleeping with Hagar, so even in trusting God, he didn’t fully understand His ways. I take comfort in knowing that God redeemed Abraham’s mistake as he was trusting Him to the best of his ability and understanding. So surely He will redeem my mistakes, because I trust Him and want to obey Him in all I say and do.

Though Abraham was past having any hope in the natural of his promise coming to pass, yet he chose to trust with hope that indeed it would. Hope and trust are choices we have to make regardless of our circumstances. In fact, if our circumstances seem favorable to our promises coming to pass, it doesn’t require us to have hope and trust. Perhaps we would trust in our circumstances rather than in God. We are called to walk in faith. To walk by faith and not by sight is something we must choose to do, for it goes against our natural tendencies.

Abraham did not deny the fact that because of their age and the condition of their bodies it was impossible, in the natural, to have a child. He took that fact fully into account. Yet his trust did not waver because of the facts. I love it though, that in this passage, God never mentions that Abraham did try to help Him out, and in the process created Ishmael. It is as though God totally forgot or chose to overlook that. God knows the heart, so I believe Abraham must have thought he was doing the right thing when he did that. Still, God credits Abraham as righteous in His sight. He is amazing!

Abraham could have looked at the reality of his situation and decided it was too difficult for God to make good on His promise, but he didn’t. As he chose to trust God in spite of the facts, and worshiped God in the midst of what looked like an impossible situation, God empowered him to believe and stand firm in his faith. When we do likewise, He will do the same for us! God cannot lie, so He will eventually make good on His promises. The question we often struggle with is, when?  Abraham waited about 25 years for his promise to be fulfilled. Obviously, God requires not only faith in Him and His Word, but also patience!

Get Victory Over a Victim Mentality

Have you ever known someone with a victim mentality? If you have, chances are likelyvictim sign you would know it. However, it is highly unlikely that the person who has chosen to believe this lie is aware of it. Of all the issues I’ve seen and ministered to over the years, this is one of the most difficult to get people to recognize and be willing to deal with so they can be free.

Someone with a victim mentality tends to wallow in self-pity. They believe everyone and everything is out to get them, and they feel powerless to do anything about it. When difficulties and disappointments come, as they do for all of us, they feel particularly targeted, as if nothing ever goes right for them. It seems to them that everyone else has it easier. They feel continually attacked by people, life in general, and even God, at times.

Often, this belief has its root in some traumatic experience. The “victim” felt violated, taken advantage of, unfairly accused, mistreated, etc. When it seems to happen over and over, they become convinced that this is just their lot in life; it will always be that way. This expectation then gives place to behaviors that actually set them up to be re-victimized. They usually become angry at the people or situations that have “done them wrong,” but underlying the anger is the feeling of powerlessness.

The belief of being powerless leads to blame-shifting, i.e., “it isn’t my fault; it’s someone else’s fault.” Victims refuse to take responsibility for their own behavior. They will make excuses for themselves, while blaming others, God, or life in general. Their outlook on life is negative. They find it difficult to trust anyone. It is a very debilitating lie!

So how does someone get free from this belief system? Often, inner healing and deliverance is needed first, so that the person is able to recognize the lie. We all choose to believe the things we do – no one can make us believe anything. Realizing they have chosen to believe this lie and live accordingly, is the first step to getting free. Repenting means, “to change the way you think,” and is necessary, for believing any lie is sin; it is coming into agreement with the enemy, the father of lies.

The next step is learning to take responsibility for their actions. This may take time, for old thought patterns don’t go away immediately. Meditating on the truth often, will accelerate the change in thinking. The truth is, God has given us free will, which means we can choose what we want to believe. Even when painful things happen that we didn’t choose, we can determine to respond in faith, believing God’s Word to work it all for good in our lives. He desires truth in our innermost being (Ps. 51:6) because He IS Truth and what He says about us is true. Growing in intimacy with God will further help us become aware of, and secure in, our true identity as God’s beloved child. We can be free, if we choose to be!

Are Toxic Beliefs Derailing Your Destiny?

As a young believer, I often listened to Joyce Meyer on the radio during my daily drive to toxic thinkingtake our kids to our church’s Mother’s Morning Out program. I can still remember her saying one day, “Do you ever stop and think about what you’re thinking about?” and my first thought was, “No, I don’t!” Then I wondered if it even mattered, and if so, why. I was genuinely perplexed!

Now that I’m a bit older and hopefully a little wiser, I understand what she was saying. As believers, our thought life is one of the most important factors of our walk with God. You may have seen this poem or one that is similar to it:

If you accept a Belief

You reap a Thought.

If you sow a Thought

You reap an Attitude.

If you sow an Attitude

You reap an Action.

If you sow an Action

You reap a Habit.

If you sow a Habit

You reap a Character.

If you sow a Character

You reap a Destiny.

–anonymous

Your beliefs and thoughts greatly affect your destiny by determining your choices, or actions. What you do is always the result of what you believe.

I’m not talking about “head knowledge,” which is facts or information we may believe or agree with. I’m referring to the core beliefs that we hold deep in our hearts and may be totally unaware of.

These beliefs often surface when a circumstance triggers a reaction that catches us completely off guard. Have you ever experienced that? Maybe one day your best friend makes a comment that your new outfit is a little snug around the middle. Suddenly without thinking, you get upset and offended, accusing her of calling you fat! And for the sake of this hypothetical example, let’s say you struggled with your weight as a teen and had a mom who made similar comments far too often, though her sincere intent was to try to help you. This is just one (though not particularly good) example of how core beliefs are triggered.

In His mercy, God allows these situations in order to show us areas that need healing in our minds. He understands our frailty and gave us a way to get free from toxic thinking – Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word transformed is the Greek root of our word, metamorphosis – the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. It is a beautiful word picture of the radical change that takes place when we make the effort to renew our thoughts and beliefs.

In the natural, a caterpillar is bound to the earth, crawling along the ground or on plants and bushes. As the butterfly emerges from the cocoon it no longer resembles its former self in any way; it is a totally new and different creature. Free to now soar above the earth, it has a completely new perspective – a heavenly one. This is an amazing picture of what happens to us and our thinking when we make the choice to renew our minds. God doesn’t do this for us, nor does it happen automatically when we get saved, it is a lifelong process that requires effort on our part.

So how do we go about doing this? How do you renew your mind? I discovered a key a few years ago that has greatly helped me and I believe can help you if you will take time to do it. I will be writing about it in my next blog post, so stay tuned for more! How has toxic thinking affected your choices? Please comment below.