Our Hidden Lusts

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James 1:15…

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Lust creates a dark place within our hearts, and minds. It hides deep within, not wanting to be known. Lust is capable of consuming all that we have, all that we are, and can cause division with those closest to us. Lust can come in any form, and in any shape. It doesn’t just come to please, it leaves us with the feeling of unworthiness. Lusting after something, or someone is a great sin. It runs deep in our veins, and into our flesh.

Lust and sin are very much alike, but they both serve different meanings…in life and in the bible. The one we’re most acquainted with is the lust of life, and it’s become such a common factor in our lives. Shopping, coffee, t.v., movies, celebrities, money, porn, and there is so much more that people deal with on a daily basis. Now don’t get me wrong it’s perfectly ok to shop, drink coffee, and watch movies as long as you don’t make that the center of your life. Now viewing porn on the other hand is just a big no no.

God says to enjoy life, as long as we don’t serve other gods or make idols. We cannot please God if we are in the flesh.

I know all of this too well, and I say that from experience. If we come to God asking for His forgiveness, or healing…then this doesn’t mean that you can go back to that same thing that you asked deliverance from. God doesn’t work that way! He is aware of the sin you try so hard to hide every day…every night. At some point we’ll begin to crumble, guilt, and the shame will begin to settle within. God will wait us out until we cry out to Him. I cannot hide myself from God, and neither can you. You can try, but I guarantee you He’ll just pull your right back towards Him.

The thing that consumes us the most is what controls our lives. We are willing to make more time for our lust rather than make time for God. We become ignorant. It’s like we put on this mask to hide from those who may be able to point out that there’s something wrong with us, like we’re hiding something. The last thing we want to do is be honest about the one (maybe many) things that we do that aren’t right in God’s eyes. Let me say that whatever you’re hiding, whatever you’re keeping to yourself is only between you and God. No one else has to know about the very thing that troubles you most in life. Sin may run deep, but God’s grace runs deeper.

As I sit here typing all of this to you, hoping that I can reach out to someone…I myself have been dealing with something’s in my life that I’m not proud of. To the point where I feel like a failure to God, and I know He knows…He knows where my heart stands with Him. Yet he refuses to leave me, and instead decides to love me even more. He does the same for you when you aren’t sure where to go, or where you should hide. His arms are our refuge. He embraces us while the world tries to beat us. He is present in everything we do, and He is there when darkness has over cumbered our hearts.

You’ll never have to face the darkness on your own. Whatever consumes you, whatever hinders you from getting closer to God. He has you right where He wants you to be, an opportunity to tug at your heart, and to draw you back into His arms. While tears rush down your face, all the anger, sadness, frustration, and confusion…He wipes it all away.

God is good.   

 

 

My Empty Hallelujah

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Last weekend I was blessed with the opportunity to attend our Ladies Retreat which happens once a year in Wisconsin Dells, and this year I honestly didn’t want to go. I didn’t feel like I had to go, or that I even needed it. Great preaching happens at the Ladies Retreat, and it’s so nice to feel surrounded by thousands of women who are hurting, lost, and confused is uplifting in a way. Then there are those who are empowered, who have overcome some of life’s greatest struggles. They are an inspiration to me, it tells me that God holds us even in the darkest of days.

Let me back up here a bit. On the way there we came across an antique shop, and as I was browsing I came across one of those “the meaning behind your name” type of cards which intrigue me. The meaning of my name was “rebellious child“, and at the very bottom of the card it stated Psalms 91:9 which I have inserted above as my pic. Psalms 91:1 says…

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

That verse reassured me that God will pull me back once He has seen that I’ve strayed too far from Him, and that I will abide under his shadow.

One of the speakers at Ladies Retreat had asked the question “are you a well, or a cistern?”. Now a cistern if I’m correct, is for storing water. A well is where freshwater flows, and it keeps on flowing. That was a very good question, mainly because I never considered myself to be a cistern or a well. As she spoke on this topic, I began to question if whether or not my waters were flowing as they should be…or did it just sit there. Meaning, was I feeding myself the word of God on a daily basis? Was prayer something I did everyday? The answer to these two questions were a “no” for me. Which I struggle with every day, and between God and I we know why that is.

My church attendance had decreased within the last year, I don’t pray as often as I should, and I don’t read the word on a daily basis. I was indeed a cistern, just a tub of water sitting there…probably a bit dirty as well.

During worship I felt deep within my heart that my Hallelujah wasn’t the same, there was something wrong. It was empty…I was empty. It was in that moment that I told God I was tired…tired of fighting with myself. Tired of trying to fix everything on my own, and not trusting in Him that He would take care of everything. Of course, I know that I also have to take some action on my behalf, but for the most part I have to learn to lean more on God than myself.

I learned from Ladies Retreat that God is pushing back the darkness, and is lighting up his kingdom for us that cannot be shaken (and yes, that is from a song). We sang that verse one night over and over again, and it was so awesome! Not only was it awesome, but it was true for me. When we hurt, He sees it, but He also sees what we’re going to do about it. There is so much I hold onto that I know I need to let go of, and the fact that I have to stop being so hard on myself.

We have to fight our own demons sometimes, but we’re never alone when we need to do so.

All in all, I’m really glad that I made the decision to go to Ladies Retreat. God is good!

The Sin Rooted Within

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Romans 5:8 says…

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

We all face it, every day, every hour, and every second. From the moment we wake till the moment we fall asleep. Sin has a tight grip, and it doesn’t loosen unless it hears the name of Jesus roll off your tongue. Sin cringes at the sound of His name, it hides deep within our souls in fear of being exposed for who we really are.

We’re in a constant battle not only with ourselves, but with the demons that lurk within us. They creep up into our minds, making us think crazy thoughts, telling us we should do wrong instead of doing right. The devil lies to our faces, he loves to see us defeated…he enjoys watching us destroy ourselves while he sits back. If we allow the devil to seep through our minds, and heart, then we’ve given him permission to destroy all the good that we know. Once the devil knows he has a hold of you, he steps back and watches you as you hit rock bottom.

There’s a quote I once read somewhere, and it said “We tend to give the devil more credit than what we give God”. That quote could not be anymore true, because that’s what we do and we don’t even realize it at times. Sin has no dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace.  We have to stop giving the devil our ear, because if we do that then he will never stop talking to us. The battle between yourself, and the devil isn’t a battle for you to fight. God takes your battle and make you victorious through them, and he can do the same thing for you through your sin. He digs deep to see what exactly is going on, and I’m sure whatever he finds isn’t always pretty…but God is more than willing to fix what you can’t.

He calls us by name and not by our sin.

You’re not alone, and whatever you may secretly be dealing with God knows all about. He’s just waiting for you to say something, and He waits and waits. What you allow is what will continue. One thing I will never ever do is blame God for the state I’m in, nor the sins that I commit.

So don’t be so hard on yourself. Each and every person you encounter with is fighting a battle…sometimes it’s more than just surface stuff. It goes beyond the surface, it’s usually sin that’s rooted within.

God Is Good

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James 1:12 says…

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

That word “endureth” means to suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently.

There have been many times in my life where all I wanted to do was blame God for everything that was going wrong in my life, and I always found myself not having the strength to do it. I couldn’t blame Him. I mean I could, but that wouldn’t solve anything. Some of us would rather blame God for all of the suffering, pain, and hardships we go through.

We have to realize that everything that happens in our lives isn’t because of God, it doesn’t happen by His doing. Life happens, and it affects us all in some way.   The one phrase I hear all the time is “Well if God is all good and powerful, why does He continue to let people die, or even let disasters happen?”. First of all death is not final, and going even a bit further, those who pass on from this life no longer have to suffer. Keep in mind that nothing is ever final unless God says otherwise.

There maybe some things that you’ve been praying for, and God hasn’t answered. Maybe whatever you’re asking for isn’t supposed to happen right now, and that God has a greater plan than what you have in mind. Sometimes it’s out of our hands, it’s out of our control…all we can really do is trust God. Trust that He will take care of us, and that He will guide us in the right direction. I honestly struggle with this, and being 21 there is a lot I worry about in life. How am I going to make it? Will I be ok? How will I support myself? How do I budget money (still learning this process)? All of these lead up to one question, and that is “God am I going to be ok? Is everything going to be ok?”.

The other day I had a conversation with my other significant about money, and how bad we are at managing it. Even though we are not married (yet), we do help each other out a lot when it comes to financial things. Lately I’ve been asking myself, and eventually asked him “why do I always come up short by the end of the week? I have a good paying job, and no matter how much I try to budget I always end up with less than what I expected?”. His response…”Maria, we tend to help more people who we care for than ourselves. We hardly shop for ourselves”. He continued on saying…”Maria we give because we have to know that God will take care of us in the end”. Which brought me to realize that God is a good God. Life is good, and it’s because of Him that I am still alive and breathing. I may not have a lot in life, but I have God and that’s all I’ll ever need. He’s brought me through so much in life, and even on my darkest days I knew in the back of my head that God was going to take care of everything…He was going to take care of me.

He can take of you as well if you just let Him, and that you’ll put your trust in Him. Also another thing, be patient. Sometimes God can’t always provide us with what we need right away.

Far From Perfection

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I once read in an article that said…

Perfection is the enemy. Therefore you will never reach perfection.

Not only is that statement above true in so many forms, that I myself have a difficult time embracing the fact that I will never be perfect. Literally to the point where it bothers me, and so I become determined reaching perfection. When the whole time it’s far from my reach, and that I must realize that perfection can become my own enemy if I am not careful.

Believe it or not, you’re already perfect. After all God is the one who created you, and that is what makes you unique. Yeah I understand that we don’t always have it together, and that we make mistakes on a daily basis. But we shouldn’t let those type of things define how God sees us, because to Him we are worthy. He sees us worthy. The problem is we don’t see ourselves worthy, and so we become hard on ourselves. We beat ourselves up over the littlest things that mess us up spiritually and physically. There are these moments in our lives where we find ourselves doubting God, and losing our faith all because we can’t seem to stop messing up…in other words, we can’t seem to stop committing sin. Sometimes it’s the type of sin that we keep committing over and over again, and we become so lost. Thinking why or how could God keep loving me, even when I constantly fail Him. Why me? Why do you choose to love someone as messed up as me?

Remember what I said in my last post? He uses the weak to lead the strong. He chooses you everyday, regardless of your current circumstances.

I used to find myself at the altar every Sunday morning crying about the same thing I cried about last week Sunday. I grew tired, and at the same time I began to think that God must be getting tired of me as well. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that God never walks away from you…we walk away from Him. He holds us when we can no longer stand on our own, telling us that it’s ok. I allowed my brokenness to help me understand what God was trying to do in my life, and to try to understand as to why I kept going back to that same old thing that knocked me down every time. My dad always says “It takes many lessons to learn a lesson”, which I believe God allows us to go through a certain situation over and over again until we learn from it. He perfects us in our own tribulations, which can be quite hard to see when we feel like nothing but a failure at times.

In Psalms 46:5 says…

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

God is in the midst of her…God is with us constantly. There is comfort in His arms, and direction. Keep on fighting the good fight, and please stop trying to perfect what cannot be perfected. Stop beating yourself up, and instead come as you are. God sees your brokenness as the most beautiful thing in the world, He sees it as an opportunity to come into your heart.

Last scripture…Psalms 18:32 says…

It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

There Is Greatness In Your Weakness

 

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We grow in our weakness, we come out stronger than from where we started. This is where we are faced with the situation on whether or not we are going to praise God in our weakness. Weakness gives us the opportunity to find ourselves, and to help us define where it is where we really stand in life. It helps us evaluate not only ourselves, but everything that is going on around us. Maybe you’ve recently lost a loved one, you’ve been diagnosed with some type of cancer, or even someone you know…love. There are many things that make us weak amongst many other emotions that follow.

“God uses the weak to lead the strong”.

I can’t remember if the quote I have inserted above is from a song, or from scripture. But it so deeply true in what it says.  “God uses the weak to lead the strong” I always thought was a silly way of putting it, I actually thought it would be vise versa. “God uses the strong to lead the weak” doesn’t that make more sense? It does to me, but at the same time it just doesn’t sound right. Sometimes even the strong ones need a reminder of what it means to be humble, that not everyone is like them. Everyone expresses weakness differently, some fall into depression, which I believe is giving up the fight…as if there is no hope left. Some put on a mask, acting as if they’re ok. If you were to ask me on how I express my weakness, well then I’d tell you that I do in fact put on a mask. I wear a smile, I laugh with love, and I basically look put together. Like there is nothing wrong with me, when really I am falling apart inside.

“He yearns to hold us, to help us, and to listen to our restless beating hearts”.

While we’re falling apart God is using our brokenness to minister to another hurting soul. Some of us believe that we have no part in God’s kingdom, and that we will never find our true calling…that we’ll never find our place. Let me tell you, the only place you belong is in His arms. I strongly believe that those who are weak are beyond blessed, we just never see it that way. Instead we’re too focused on what is going on within ourselves, and never looking at what God is doing. Our weakness becomes our story, it becomes a part of us, it gives us the opportunity to reach out to those who are just as lost. There is greatness in your weakness whether you believe it or not, you’re worthy, you’re saved, you’re clean, and you’re fearfully and wonderfully made in His eyes. No one, not even the world can take that away from you unless you allow it to. He longs to talk with you from the morning you wake, until it’s time for you to go to bed. He waits and waits on us. There is someone willing to listen, but you just have to be willing to give your time to talk it out.

So stop running from your weakness, and instead embrace your weakness.

–Just wanted to let you all know that I do appreciate feedback, good or bad. You can send me an email anytime at mariajohn224@gmail.com. I do respond, so don’t be afraid if you want to ask anything. 🙂

A Tired Soul

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We’ve all felt exhaustion at some point in our life. That feeling that creeps up on you every now and then, reminding you of all the things that have been heavy on your heart. Not only do you feel like you’ve let God down, but that you’ve let yourself down as well. Finding yourself in all the wrong places, doing all the wrong things…I know exactly how that feels. It becomes exhausting after a while, and our hearts become weary.

In 2nd Corinthians 4:8-9 says…

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

It’s when you can’t take it anymore, you find yourself with no energy to face the day, and all you can say to yourself is “I’m just so tired of it all”. Tired of struggling, wrestling with ourselves, and even with those around us. We begin to lose a piece of ourselves in the process of trying to fix the situation, trying to fix each and every problem we are faced with. We start to become numb to the world, to those around us, and we continue to go forward with the feeling of dread upon our shoulders.

I was reminded during this past Sunday morning service that God must increase, and that I must decrease. God stands before me and all of my demons that I carry, they shudder at the sound of His name. We’re tired because we let this world get to the best of us, we let whatever we see inside thinking that it’s ok. We allow darkness to settle within, and we become accustomed to the darkness. There are things that we carry that no man should ever have to carry, and there are things within our hearts that we keep hidden from others that weigh us down. It’s the little things that wear us out.

There are going to be days where you just don’t know what to do anymore, you aren’t sure who you should talk to. The feeling of being beyond broken, and never knowing what is going to happen next. You don’t have to feel like this, you don’t need to feel any of this.

There is a lyric from a song that always hits home for me, and it’s by Matt Redman (10,000 Reasons).

And on that day
When my strength is failing
The end draws near
And my time has come
Still my soul will
Sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years
And then forevermore
Forevermore

Read more: Matt Redman – 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Wake up. Know that God is with you, even in your time of need. Whatever you’ve been feeling lately, just know that you’re never alone. Even if it feels like you are, God has never forsaken you…and He never will as long as you shall live, but even then He’ll be with you after life comes to an end. As restless as you may seem, you must learn to accept what is. A tired soul is a sign of someone who has been trying to keep it all together for far too long. Live. Breath. Be okay.