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Day 24: If I Ain’t Got You…dealing with ‘the one that got away’

Published May 26, 2013 by lavoniartryon

 Memory verse: They came out from us because they were not of us. If they had been of us they would have stuck it out with us. 1 John 2:19

Psalm: 91

Challenge: Write a letter to the ex that you find yourself still attached. Express everything that you have been too afraid, too doubtful, too whatever to express. Then pray over it and DESTROY IT. Setting someone free truly sets you free.

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Everyone has one. That ex that you feel like is the one that got away. That person that you truly thought you would spend the rest of your life with, yet something went wrong and you are no longer together. I have two such exes in my past. One was an on-again off-again long distance boyfriend in undergrad and the other more recent was about 2 years ago.

INSIGHT: ‘Surprisingly, I have been in another relationship since this first post, yet he doesn’t make this list. This says two things: 1. I probably shouldn’t have dated him in the first place. 2. I’ve recognized what love should look like, and anything that doesn’t even measure up to the ‘one that got away’, isn’t going to be the ‘one that stays’. God never gives us less than, in fact, He is a NEVERTHELESS God. If the one that left was amazing, the one that He has planned to stay will make the pass one look like a 3rd grade crush.’

The most recent one shook me to my core. If I could have picked what I wanted for my husband out of a catalogue he would have surely stepped off the pages. That’s how perfect I thought he was. He was sweet, caring, protective, honest, covered me spiritually and emotionally and he not only respected my vow of celibacy, HE HAD HIS OWN. He had vowed not to kiss another person’s wife, so he wasn’t kissing again until the alter. I was in bliss, but he only had one flaw- he.left.me. And when he left, he took a piece of something vital inside of me. How do I know? Because breathing hurt. Even crying hurt, nothing helped…BUT GOD.

INSIGHT: WOW. I remember this experience of getting over ‘John’, and it wasn’t a fun one. I can distinctly remember dates, phone calls, and interactions with him and realized how I had never felt so valued, so worthy of love by a man. (this is a responsibility that my father would have and should have taken care of but he wasn’t in my life, as you will read about in an upcoming challenge). That’s what got me hooked, that emotion that I should have been secure in from a father, I longed for it in a relationship. Losing ‘John’ wasn’t a good experience, but it was a GOD revelation. The end of this relationship, was the beginning of the realization that I was looking for in a man something that no man could ever give me. I was destined to destroy every relationship I was in, because I was an incomplete, troubled, insecure (although no one else knew it) woman, that hadn’t learned her value in a relationship, or in life. I thought I knew it. I thought I had it all together, but I was so wrong.’

I share this because this is a very real situation, dealing with that one that you thought was gonna be a permanent fixture, but apparently only applied for a temporary position. I never want anyone to think because I have gotten to a certain point of satisfaction in my singleness that I don’t relate with just about every scenario that you can think of on this journey. Yet, I’ve survived-so you can too.

Dealing with a breakup is hard. Especially if it’s one that you didn’t want, and you realize there is nothing that you can do to fix it. The hardest part about letting go is…LETTING GO. I was so afraid to give that relationship to God because I was afraid that He wouldn’t give it back to me and it was MY WILL for me. But as Jeremiah 29:11 comforted me in that time, it still comforts me. He knows the plans He has for, and they are for my good and not for harm. This breakup did not BREAK me. It taught me that I still needed to learn balance. I needed to truly realize that the only man I can’t live without is Jesus. A Godly man/woman can’t replace your God. You may desire an earthly spouse, but you only need an Eternal Savior. Sometimes this is a hard pill to swallow- realizing that it is a desire, but that it hasn’t been actualized yet.

INSIGHT: ‘Letting go is hard. There is no getting around it, no ‘easy button’ to just make it pass. The only way that you can let go is by intentionally placing that thing on the altar, and deciding to walk away and leave it there. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take long days, sleepless nights and some gut-wrenching hard cries-if you truly loved this person. Separating from someone that you are attached to can feel like being wounded. As in the Day 6’s Challenge, you will just have to deal with it. Many people mistakenly believe that ‘the only way to get over on person is to get with another one’. This is so untrue and so not a good idea. What you will end up doing is transferring your unresolved feelings onto the next poor unsuspecting soul, and you aren’t dealing with the messy emotions of letting go. And you WILL have to deal with these issues, eventually, or these unresolved issues will taint every ‘next’ relationship that you have. Sorry love, I wish I had a more butterflies answer for how to get over a break up, but I don’t. You will just have to deal with it. YOU NEED TO DEAL WITH IT.’

You have to realize that a person can have all the qualities that you may think you want, but still not be the one that God has for you. Remember that we can’t know the thoughts of God, but we can be assured that we serve a ‘nevertheless’ God. If God tells you, he/she is not the one—even if by what you see they fit your criteria—will you still be able to reject them? We would all like to say yes, but if we are honest, how many exes do we have that we knew God didn’t want us to be with in the first place? You have to decide if you want God’s created best or only your imagined best. Or, does the answer depend on which comes first? If you are tired of waiting, and haven’t done your homework to commit to wait, this will be a hard question to answer honestly. I can almost guarantee that your top pick will come before God’s, if for no other reason but to test how much more you will trust God and wait for His provision.

God still has a plan for you, but you have to let go of your past to get to your future. This reminds me of the passage of the anointing of David in 1 Samuel 16. The passage opens up with the Lord confronting Samuel about his continuous mourning over Saul’s rejection. God asks, “How long will you mourn over Saul when I have rejected him? Fill your horn with oil and go… for I have chosen another king.” These two verses are so important and speak to holding on to something that God Himself has rejected. Samuel was so focused on mourning who God had said was no longer for him that he had to be persuaded to go find the one that God was bestowing favor on. The thought of holding on to something even a moment longer than God’s Spirit is resting on it, seems ludicrous to even write but in our lives we do it all too often. We sit and re- read letters, and hold on to old pictures and movie stubs in a shoebox that we pull out when we are feeling lonely, which is stupid because it only intensifies our loneliness.

I can imagine Samuel remembering all the “good ole times” with Saul and weeping. I have always heard that hindsight is 20/20, but I think in relationships, sometimes the rearview mirror is a bit cloudy. I know when I was afraid of being alone, (because I didn’t understand the difference between it and loneliness) I would think back to old relationships and remember all the good times, while conveniently forgetting or sometimes even reworking the details of the bad times.

I bet if you go back in your relationship rolodex, you have had a couple of “Samuel” moments as well. Vow to break that cycle. There was a reason he was rejected—don’t forget that. Do what it takes to let go of past relationships. In regards to old relationships, when God closes a door, if we allow, He will paint over it so we can’t find it even when (not if) we try. Allow God to fill your horn with oil and be on your way. Your “David” is waiting for you while you’re wasting valuable time on a rejected “Saul.”

Realize that no one who can or will leave you is tied to your destiny. If a person is ordained to be in your future, they will be there, even if they temporarily leave. So if they decide to leave you now, just know that they will be swinging the door the other way at some point if ordained. It’s ok to mourn a past relationship, but don’t allow that to blind you from learning what God always meant to teach you in it, and then moving on. Christ needs you whole to complete His vision and your spouse needs you whole to complement theirs’. Don’t keep the two real relationships in your life waiting while you hold on to something that has been rejected.

FILL YOUR HORN WITH OIL AND GO.

DAY 23: Jesus at the CENTER of it all, In Jesus Name.

Published May 25, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory Verse: Whatever you ask in My Name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My  name, I will do it. John 14: 13-14

(this scripture should look different after today)

Psalm: 33

Challenge: AFTER READING THIS NOTE: Seriously pray and read the Word and ask God for a manifested ‘IN JESUS NAME’ statement and write it in your journal and/or share with an accountability partner.

            ‘Jesus at the Center of it all. Jesus, take the wheel. Only through and by Jesus has anything ever been created and by Him it all holds together. IN JESUS NAME.’ Do we truly know the power of these statements? I think we have only grazed the tip of the iceberg of understanding the Name, much less the person of Jesus. The Bible says that the name of the Lord (remember lowercase ‘ord’ signifies Jesus) is a strong tower (a safe fortress, a defending army, an impenetrable, impassible wall), the righteous run into it and they are saved (protected, raised high, lifted above their circumstances) Proverbs 18:10. So how do you run into a name? A cross-pollinated look at John 1:1-3 and Genesis 1 opens this scripture mightily for me. Prayerfully the Holy Spirit will do the same for you…

            John 1:1-5: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcomeit.14: The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

NOW LET’S LOOK AT GENESIS 1:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”

9And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.

Still don’t see it? Go to our Psalm for today. Psalm 33:6: The heavens were made by the Word of the LORD (big ORD equates God Yahweh) and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth. 9: For He spoke and it came into being; He commanded, and it came into existence.

THE WORD IS JESUS, JESUS IS THE WORD. The spoken, living, breathing and yes, written Word of God is JESUS manifest. God used Jesus to create everything, by SPEAKING HIM over the circumstances and allowing the Word to change it. So how do you run into a name? You got it-You run into the Word.

So that’s why it’s so important to understand that when we pray ‘In Jesus Name’, it means NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING if it is not a prayer that is in line and manifested in line with the Word. You can’t pray, Lord send me a Husband, IN JESUS NAME, if the Lord has already spoken to you specifically in Isaiah 54:5 ‘For your Maker is your Husband, the Lord of hosts is His name.’ If God has told you that this isn’t your season of marriage, of moving from a job, of WHATEVER, then you praying ‘In Jesus Name’- is wasting your life-giving breath, and seeking to abuse the power of the Name. I hear and have often prayed selfish, disobedient, flesh-ridden prayers and then put ‘IN JESUS NAME’ on the end, like I was sealing something other than the image of how simple my thoughts are.

You can’t pray in the Word’s name, something that is not found in the Word. It’s a contradiction and God has said ‘God is not man that He shall lie, nor the Son of Man that He shall repent. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?’ Numbers 23:19. God can’t lie, but we can sure lie on Him. Vow never again to say ‘Thus said the Lord’ without feeling conviction or confirmation that this is the character of Jesus, the Living Word. We say a lot of things that aren’t manifested in the Word of God, but we expect God to perform it. God is only bound and required to fulfill HIS WORD, not ours.

Re-evaluate your relationship status, whether you are Single, Single and Dating, Single and looking, Engaged, or even Married. Can you say ‘IN JESUS NAME’ and not be lying? This is a hard Word and many won’t receive it, but God’s Word can’t return to Him void, it will do what it has set to accomplish. Those that have ears let them hear.

INSIGHT: ‘Wow. I’m convinced that this word needs no insight. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord (little ord signifies) my rock and redeemer, Psalm 19:14. This psalm just manifested as a Rhema Word. If life and death shall come out of my mouth, then the only way that it can be pleasing to the Lord is if I speak the Lord over it. Take a minute and let it sink in. The Word is what pleases the Word. Christ came to fulfill the Law because He is the living Law. What an awesome God we serve.’

IN JESUS NAME.

Day 22: YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH

Published May 24, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory Verse: He did not even spare His own Son, but offered Him up as a ransom

for us all; How will He not also with Him grant us everything? Romans 8:32

Psalm: 30

Challenge: Think of some negative statements or comments that you have heard or that you have thought that made you feel inadequate-like you weren’t good enough. Now, think of one positive TRUTH to combat each negative statement. Find a scripture for each positive and meditate on it this week.

            Several days in this week will be dedicated to those that feel like they are spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially and any other ‘ally’ that you can think of-ready for marriage, yet the desire for marriage has not been actualized. You’ve been waiting and praying for your ‘one’, but she/he is nowhere to be found. In fact, it’s the opposite. It seems like everyone is getting chosen but you. You may be asking yourself, “How did I get here? Has God forgotten me? What is wrong with me?” This is a dangerous cycle to get caught in. You will soon get sucked into the green-eyed monster and start comparing yourself to those very people that you call friends. Rest assured, because the devil loves mess and messy people, when you do this, he will always make the scales tip in your favor in the “marriage-material” category. You will begin to believe that you are more worthy to be married than the other person. Remember Paul warned against this type of boasting in 2 Corinthians 11. When we start to focus on our accomplishments, and how good or “holy” we are, the enemy has succeeded in convincing us to count on our resources rather than our Source. This is a trick that is literally as old as time and it is still working. Remember the enemy is not always looking to take you out, especially if you are saved; even he understands to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). You are more useful to him if you are ineffective. You become one of his prized possessions when you can cause someone else to stumble. Comparisons are a dangerous game to play because spiritually, you are telling God that you don’t approve of His plan for your life and that you would rather have someone else’s. INSIGHT: ‘I’ve been this monster before. Albeit, I was a small monster-I still felt a twinge of jealousy when someone got engaged that I thought was ‘less worthy’ than myself. Who are you, Lavonia, and when did you receive this high horse that you are sitting on?! Ridiculous. I didn’t see this monster in full effect until I was at a college campus teaching a Singles Seminar. After the session, I opened the floor for questions and one young lady asked, ‘how do you deal with knowing someone is getting married that doesn’t deserve it. Like, you are looking at them knowing that she don’t deserve him, like I’m wondering how did she pull him. So what do I do when I know I’m prettier and better than her, but she is the one getting proposed to?’ I was shocked. Did she really say that? Ummm, yes she did. And although at that moment, I was so confused-the Lord later informed me that many people believe this, but she was the one brave enough to put a voice to it. I had to quickly inform her, that no one is ‘more worthy’ than another, and instead of spending so much time focusing on that woman, spend more time focusing on herself and making herself ‘more ready’ so that when it is her time, she won’t miss it being unprepared. We all need to do this self-check. Are we comparing ourselves to someone else? Do we believe that we deserve to be married and we deserve to be married now? If you answered yes, then you should definitely do some serious Spirit searching. God didn’t give you that mindset so I challenge you to wrestle it under submission of Christ.’ So here you are still on the tree, always being passed up while the apples that are on the ground or on the lower branches are being picked so easily; seemingly like they aren’t even trying. Now doubt is setting in. As a woman you start to wonder, “Am I not pretty enough? Is there something wrong with me? Do I not have the right body type or skin tone?” As a man, you may start to believe, “I’m not accomplished enough. I don’t have the right education. I’m too nice. I mean, no one really wants a coming-up brother anymore, huh?” Change your perspective; you are approaching this all wrong. I believe that the truth is not that the apples which have gotten picked are better than you (or less than you for that matter). It’s simply that God saw fit that it was their time. The reason they were picked may be because God knew that the one meant to pick them was on the way. They may have been in the same position you are in: at the top of the tree, seemingly forgotten, asking the same questions you are asking, questioning their value. I encourage you to keep waiting. Whether God supplies a ladder or bends the branches, you will be just in the reach of the one God has chosen when he comes. Maybe you are still on the tree because you aren’t quite ripe yet. Stay there for a while. Mature on the Vine as you grow stronger. When it’s your time, there is no way that you will get passed over. Remember the view is better from the top. Use it to your advantage to weed out those who aren’t strong enough to make it to the top to get you. INSIGHT: ‘I believe that this beautiful young lady at this workshop was still on the vine because God knew that her mindset wasn’t quite ripe yet. She was still consumed with someone else’s life, that she was missing the purpose for hers. God understood that marriage wasn’t going to cure her mindset, it would just give her another avenue to her discontentment. She’s not alone in this struggle, but many of us won’t admit that we have the same view as her. She didn’t realize that she was already good enough, not because she was prettier or better than someone else, but because Christ had chosen her to redeem. That alone validates her (and us); not whether we get chosen.’ If you long for emotional intimacy, I challenge you to find it in God. A man or woman may complement you, but the King of kings is enthralled by your beauty (Psalm 45:11). You may question if a mate loves you at all times, but you should never doubt that God has loved you with an everlasting love; that He has drawn you to Himself with loving-kindness (Jeremiah 31:3). Even in marriage vows, the epitome of an earthly commitment, the most a person can commit to another is, “Until death do us part.” But I love what Paul says: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). The entire book of Song of Solomon is about the beauty of a woman that didn’t think she deserved the affections of a King, and his patient kindness in assuring her over and over again, that she was indeed good enough. In Chapter 1 she is concerned that her dark skin disqualifies her from being beautiful, but in Chapter 2 her King brings her to the royal banquet hall in front of everyone and places a banner of love over her-his public declaration to her is the same declaration that the Lord is making over you:

YOU.ARE.GOOD.ENOUGH.

DAY 21: Are you the one or should I wait for another?

Published May 24, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory Verse: Beware of false prophets (suitors) that come to you in sheep’s clothing (Gucci and Hugo Boss, smelling all good) but inwardly are raging wolves (only out for your goodies or to steal your favor). You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles.\? (Sooner or later their true nature will come to surface) Matthew 7:15-16 as interpreted by me

Psalm: 23

Challenge: What characteristics are necessary to determine whether this person is ‘the one’? What do you have to see or hear?

THE ELUSIVE ‘ONE’. I’ve spoken with many Christians and some believe that there is ‘that one’ person that they are destined to be with and that is it for them. Others believe that at different points in your life, you may be more compatible with different people, so there is maybe an ordained person for each season and you choose them by whether you are ready to be married. Both opinions are valid and I believe that they can work together. I believe that there is a person ordained for you, but I also believe in free will, so I believe your ordained person can choose to be disobedient and marry someone else—then where does that leave you? Single forever unless you choose to marry someone else too? I don’t think so. I believe that just as God raised Joshua to replace Moses and David to replace Saul-He can and will raise up another for you, ordained to complete your joint purpose.

But that’s not what this day is about. It’s about recognizing ‘the one’. How will you know if this is the one that God kept for you or if it is just another suitor that carries similar qualities that you are looking for? I believe a story in Luke involving Jesus and John the Baptist will give us key clues to recognize him or her when they come.

In Luke 7 and Matthew 11, John is in prison for the cause of Christ and he sends two of his messengers that are with him to ask Jesus ‘Are you the One who is to come or should we look for someone else?’. Jesus’ response is surprising here. He didn’t say, ‘I am the Christ, or ‘My Father and I are One’ or anything that would confirm His identity and deity. He simply challenged the disciples to go report what they had heard and seen. Apparently, John’s disciples were with Jesus during many of His miracles because Luke 7:18 says that John’s disciples told him (John) about all these things. So Jesus challenged them to go back to John and assure him, not through what Jesus said but what He DID. ‘The lame walk, the blind see, the captives have been set free, those once diseased are now made whole.’ From these signs, John the Baptist as well as his disciples could draw their own conclusions, but there could only be one logical answer: He is the Messiah.

What Jesus challenged them to do, I am challenging you to do. What have you seen in and heard from this potential suitor? Has she/he changed your circumstances for the better? Do they pray over and with you and things change? Can they lead you to the throne of Christ? Do they wash you and teach you the Word? These are things that should be evident in any Christian that is contemplating sharing their lives, earthly possessions, and vision with another. WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN?

There should be an outward manifestation of certain characteristics. John the Baptist had himself baptized Jesus into His ministry and saw the Spirit of God descend on Him, but yet He still had doubts. You will too, and they will be valid. Sharing your life with someone is so much more than just guilt free sex and a shared last name. This is serious and it shouldn’t be entered into lightly. While John was suffering, He needed confirmation. During your difficult times in relationships, that person’s actions should confirm their identity as ‘the one’.

INSIGHT: ‘Wow. This day is even more relevant the second time around. The things I saw and heard were clear indications that he was not ‘the one’, but I didn’t take heed of it. Many times the answer is clear, but we are too blind or attached to deal with it. During the difficult times, you should see your significant other as the safe place. You should feel valued and respected and free to share everything. If you don’t, then something is missing. Trust what you see; more than just words trust the actions that follow them.’

Actions speak louder than words. What do you see? What have you heard? The answer to your question if he or she is the one, lies in your response to these two preceding questions.

DAY 20: What being Single has taught me about getting Married

Published May 22, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory verse: I charge you daughters of Jerusalem, Do not awaken love before it’s time. Song of Solomon 8:4

Psalm: 130

Challenge: What are some single perks that you aren’t quite ready to give up for marriage?

            This Challenge will be short and (somewhat) sweet. I’ve determined that this may be a bit self-centered, but I have also determined that I’m ok with that. What being Single has taught me about getting married is that: I LOVE BEING SINGLE RIGHT NOW!!!

I really do. Unashamed, uninhibited and most importantly unattached. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that when I get married I will LOVE being married, but I’m not there right now. I am more than ok with that. There is a certain freedom that comes with being Single. There is a certain luxury not afforded to marriage, as Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians 7 and as Jeremiah was commanded not to do in Jeremiah 2.

We have the freedom and liberty to not check in- USE IT! I have many friends that are married or seriously dating and before we make a last minute decision about a late night dinner, or going on a day trip to the San Marcos outlets- they have to call their significant other. Not necessarily to ask for permission, but just to inform them that they will be late home or unavailable for the day. I call, ummm….my bank to make sure I can shop the way I want to? My mom just in case I have a blowout on the freeway so someone knows where I am (and sometimes not even then)?  Some Singles see this as a sore spot to not have someone to check in with. NOT.ME. I realize everyone may not relate to this post, but I believe there is a remnant that will 😉

Recently I met a guy that was determined to take me out. He was a local delivery truck driver so he worked pretty standard shifts and informed me that when he gets off around 6 or so, he is free every evening, so the date was up to me. I was shocked and a bit turned off, I must admit. ‘You mean, you get off work and just go home? And do what? Watch tv, play PlayStation?’ I couldn’t understand that. Where is your vision, your goals, your life and why aren’t you busy working on them? I NEVER have days when I just come home and watch TV. I fit one into my schedule about once every 2-3 weeks just to keep my sanity, but even then I’m reading or working on my next 3 books. So, needless to say he couldn’t understand when I couldn’t ‘work him into’ my schedule as readily as he could me. Between my part-time job, my two businesses, my book(s), speaking engagements, Singles ministry and sorority- my days are pretty packed-so going to dinner and a movie with a guy that I might or might not be slightly interested in, is pretty low on the totem pole.

INSIGHT: ‘Man, this insights edition is hitting me square between the eyes. I am almost reluctant to admit that in October I wasn’t willing to fit this guy into a date, but I dated another guy shortly after this that had even more free time. This turned out to be a major hiccup in our relationship because he assumed that I should be as available as he was. He couldn’t understand that I had so many other things on my plate outside of our relationship, and that although he was a priority-he wasn’t my only priority. What this taught me was that I still have Single dreams, A LOT of Single dreams and right now I’m ok with chasing them-instead of being pursued. This will change at some point, maybe this year, maybe next-but right now ‘I’m doing me.’’

Maybe some of this comes from the residual effects of being engaged to an insecure, unsure of himself man. Yep, I was engaged-read the book (shameless plug). He wanted to know where I was going and who with. I felt obligated to keep him informed in decisions of my life, and I was no longer at liberty to be as free as I would like. This is not to say that every relationship will be or should be this way, but every relationship does have a level of responsibility to make decisions or at least include your significant other in them. Right now, I am rather enjoying my level of responsibility to only me and God.

INSIGHT: ‘Don’t become so bound in marriage mindedness that you miss the freedom of being Single.’

DAY 19: Too Close for (or due to) comfort: Stop playing with the line

Published May 21, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory Verse: I have hidden your Word inside my Heart so that I might not sin against you

Psalm 119:11

Psalm: 76

Challenge: Think about that ‘line’ that you have been manipulating. Write it out and commit to pray over it specifically for the remainder of this challenge, asking God to give you strategies to resist it.

Read Judges 13-16 for the story of Samson. Use this as background for today’s challenge. We often talk about Samson just in light of Delilah and we will get to her, but I want to start before that. Samson was a  Nazirite- he was instructed not to drink alcoholic beverages, to not touch anything unclean, and never to cut his hair as a show of his vow to God. These three chapters are so full and rich (might be another book 😉 but I just want to touch a few components. The Bible records Samson breaking at least 2 out of 3 of these vows, before the covenant with God was broken.

Why did Samson do it? Was he not aware of the guidelines of his vow? Did he forget in the heat of the moment? I doubt it. I think Samson had gotten used to playing with the line. What does this mean? Samson was an Old Testament manifestation of Paul’s admonishment in Romans 6:1, ‘Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Surely NOT!’ Samson had gotten used to breaking the covenant with the Lord with no ‘noticeable’ consequences, so he kept doing it. He first married a Philistine woman when up to this point, they were forbidden to intermarry with non-believers of the True God (Exodus 34:12-16). Then he killed a lion with his bare hands and on his journey back home, he ate honey from the dead carcass. As if that wasn’t enough, he then gave some to his parents without informing them where it was taken from forcing them (especially his mother because she had been commanded not to eat anything unclean in chapter 13) to participate in his sin with him. Next, he slept with a prostitute, which was defiling his temple. Then, finally since he had gone this far- he told Delilah the final vow that would break the covenant with the Lord that he had yet to break. And lo and behold, she used it against him. For money.

INSIGHT: ‘Where do I even start?! I remember when God first gave me this day and reading the story of Samson with my mouth hanging open. All I could think of was ‘Really, Samson, Really?!??’ Samson married an, as his mother called her, ‘uncircumcised Philistine’ because he wanted her. Singles, this is for us. Our desire for marriage is valid and may very well be from the Lord, but it is not without parameters. Whether you believe in ‘the one’ or not, you must understand that there is a very real command to not be ‘unequally yoked’. God desires you to marry to symbolize his covenent between Christ and the Church, to fulfill a purpose in the Kingdom and to birth and raise mighty children that will turn to Him and too make a Heavenly impact on this Earth. You CANNOT do that if you are dabbling in the ‘forbidden’ pool. Your marriage can’t symbolize the covenant of Christ, if BOTH of you are not in covenant with Christ in the first place. Samson knew this, and his parents reminded him of this, yet he allowed his fleshly desires to get him what he wanted and ignored what God knew he needed. And we can read these chapters and see how that worked out for him. Disastrous!’

This could be a lesson about Samson’s poor choices in relationships, but I want to talk about him playing with the line. Samson had ‘gotten away’ with sin for so long that he had begun to be insensitive to the Holy Spirit and stirrings of God. As you read the chapters, when Samson participated in sin, the spirit of God was not resting on him. What does this mean applicably? I believe we can allow unchecked and un-repented sin to separate us from hearing from God. We allow it to dull our spiritual ears and the quickening of the Holy Spirit (what others call conscience), so that we no longer call sin what it is…SIN. Samson had eaten from a dead carcass and nothing naturally happened. He slept with a prostitute and nothing naturally happened. So he was getting away with sin, right?! WRONG!! We must understand that when something naturally manifests on earth that it has already manifested spiritually (Thy Kingdom come, The Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven). It has already happened spiritually. Each time Samson sinned, I believed he spiritually weakened and quenched the Holy Spirit’s control on him a bit more. How often do we do this? Play with that line until determining what is permissible and beneficial is blurred, or continuing in a sin until we get ‘caught’?

INSIGHT: WOW! The insight is, if you didn’t get it in that last paragraph, read it again.

We have to more concerned with the spiritual consequences of sin-SEPERATION FROM GOD- then the natural consequences that we may or may not experience, due only to grace. Samson should have learned from his 1st wife that women would be his downfall, because she was lured away from him by money. His weakness was a pretty face, and unchecked it brought him to his ruin. With his wife and Delilah, he gave in due to their nagging and begging. He told them both his secrets and they used it against him. In the first scenario, God’s grace extended to him and Samson was not consumed.

But he did it again. WHY?!?!? Because many of us don’t learn from grace, we are only taught by justice. We are not spiritually sensitive enough to understand that grace is getting what we don’t deserve and mercy is not getting what we do. We never attribute God’s mercy in not allowing a physical consequence to manifest, we foolishly think we have gotten away with something. So we keep doing it. We get closer and closer to the line, until we don’t even know when we have crossed it.

INSIGHT: ‘We miss the mark of grace in our lives so much! We miss it by believing that ‘no one knows what we did’ or thinking we got away with it. We miss it. We forget that our heavenly Father sees all and knows all. We keep going until we do get caught, then we are so spiritually desensitized that we believe that the only consequence that we have faced for our fornication is an unplanned pregnancy. Then some of us try to cover up even that up with ending the child’s life by abortion. Lord help and forgive us. We miss it. We have grieved the Holy Spirit and made our relationship with the Lord nothing more than a carnal act of religion with no real relationship.’

Samson first told Delilah things that had no resemblance to the truth- the fresh ropes and bowstrings—in order to appease her. Now, PAUSE. Samson if you see that everything you tell her, she does to subdue you, why do you KEEP telling her? Why do you stay with her? Obviously she doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Just stupid. But don’t judge him too much; you have stupid moments too. Dating a guy that not only doesn’t respect your vow of chastity, he doesn’t even believe it-so he keeps pushing the boundary. And you continue to let him. Or you date a woman that has no respect for you or your vision with no intention of ever submitting to you nor ‘help’ing you ‘meet’ ANYTHING-but you keep her around because all your boys are amazed that you pulled someone that looks like her. Hollow, shallow, flesh-serving desires- LORD HELP US.

Samson then starts playing with fire. He tells her that his strength has something to do with his hair. TOO CLOSE SAMSON!!! You are getting too loose with your anointing. In 2013, this is manifested in those late night movie sessions, heavy kissing and making out, spending excessive time alone, when you have vowed to keep what rightfully belongs to your spouse sacred until your wedding day. Now you are tainting it. You are seeing how close you can get, instead of being focused on how pure you can stay. It was only a matter of time before Samson told her the truth, once he had gotten this close to it. And it’s only a matter of time before your clothes come off, once you have played with this line so much.

INSIGHT: ‘Read those last two paragraphs again.’

Learn from Samson’s life-don’t repeat it. Mercy is not a ‘get out of sin free card’, it is a by-pass so that you can get it right the next time. It’s God way of giving us another chance to prove to Him that our commitment is not based on outward manifestations but grounded in inward convictions.

Draw the line in every area- and commit to stay as far away from it as possible.

DAY 18: SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING

Published May 20, 2013 by lavoniartryon

DAY18

Memory Verse: A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.

 Proverb 22:3

Psalm: 17

Challenge: Think back to your last, a past relationship or even a potential suitor. What were some warning signs that this person might not have been/might not be ‘the one’ but you ignored them?

 

I’ve often heard the phrase, love is blind but marriage is a real eye opener. Of course, we Singles laugh at this (or at least this Single used to), but I don’t think we fully grasp what this means to a person in that situation. What I take from this statement is that, when you are busy falling in love and thinking this person’s dirty laundry doesn’t even stink, you are unaware of all the things that you should be taking notice of. As a result, you get in a committed relationship with a person, or even a marriage before you really get to know the nature of the person. This translates into those long crying sessions with your girlfriends or those intense basketball games with your boys-discussing how they are no longer the person you married or first met. I don’t believe this is completely true, I believe that IS the person you married, you just dated the representative and didn’t bother or was too ‘in the love bubble’ to dig deeper.

INSIGHT: ‘DEAR LORD. I ignored so many warning signs in my past relationships. The most recent one, I remember expressing doubt in my journal the FIRST WEEK that he didn’t seem like ‘the one’-that he didn’t treat me like ‘the one’ would, yet I stayed for another 5 months. Why? Because it became easier and easier to ignore those signs, or to rationalize them into ‘he’s trying.’ Please. There is a difference between not knowing what is wrong and needs to be fixed, and knowing it but refusing to deal with it. The latter was what I was dealing with, until I finally realized that I couldn’t deal with it.’

My previous Pastor used to say when you date you should have both eyes wide open, wear glasses, use a magnifying glass and a black light; then when you decide to marry this person-close one eye and dim the lights. What does this mean? The dating stage should be the time that you acknowledge those red flags or those discrepancies in the person, then when you decide to marry them, you don’t nag about the things that you tolerated while you were courting. Before you decide to spend the rest of your life with a person, you should burst the love bubble (we will talk about this next week) and really discuss things in perspective. Once you walk down the aisle, you can’t turn back around and run up it, because you didn’t know he had 60,000 of debt or that she doesn’t know how nor have a desire to submit.

INSIGHT: ‘This is truth. Ignoring those things that you are telling yourself are small in dating, will become fights over these things in marriage. If it is truly insignificant, then it won’t fly back into your head every time you disagree, it won’t keep you up at night, it won’t cause you more tears than joy. If it does, then stop lying to yourself-it’s very significant. I was there—my struggle, your lesson. You are not doing yourself or the person you are dating a favor by ignoring that key desires and needs are not being met in a relationship, You are only prolonging the inevitable, and causing yourself to become more attached so that when it is clear that you should walk away-it will be even harder.’

Those essential things that you aren’t seeing in the mate should be addressed. Never simply think that they will get better when you get married. They might get worse, because now you have to share everything with this person and what used to irritate you only on Monday, Wednesday and weekends, will be making your living conditions miserable every night of the week.

This message isn’t meant to say that a man or woman has to be perfect to earn your affections, just that you shouldn’t be so casual and careless with whom you give them away to. Snoring isn’t a deal-breaker, but jealousy or insecurity might be. You see what I mean?

The TSA now has this slogan that you will see all around the airport: ‘See Something, Say Something’. This campaign is admonishing travelers to be aware of their surroundings and don’t simply dismiss something that could be suspect, thinking it’s nothing. That ‘nothing’ could be the bomb that changes your life. Same scenario; but in a relationship. That ‘something’ that you keep looking over and dismissing might be the thing that puts additional strain on that relationship and eventually breaks it.

INSIGHT: ‘This day is so personal because this area is still a bit raw from my most recent relationship. From the beginning, I didn’t feel treasured or valued. I felt like an option. I made decisions with him in mind, but it seemed like he made plans and then told me about them, if he told me at all. He wasn’t considerate of me or my feelings and when I would mention it, the response would be ‘you are too sensitive, you need to toughen up’. What I refused to see was that I shouldn’t have to ‘toughen up’ where my boyfriend is concerned. Especially with a boyfriend that loves to talk about making me a wife. He should be the safe place, where I can take my emotions and insecurities and feel valued and special-not the cause of my insecurities. I realized that this wasn’t going to get better, that it wasn’t going to change, so my situation needed to change.’

SEE SOMETHING. SAY SOMETHING. Everything shouldn’t be an issue, but some things should be. Choose wisely, and determine to go into every relationship with your eyes (not just your nose) wide open. If Samson would have done this, his fate would have been very different. We will discuss his particular foolishness tomorrow.

My friend has a saying ‘Everyone has their own brand of crazy, you just have to find the person whose crazy is compatible with yours.’ True statement, truer application.

INSIGHT: ‘I can’t stress enough how much this simple truth can change the nature of your current and future relationships. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your mate that you aren’t comfortable-that’s a problem. If your needs aren’t being met and you are too scared of the consequences that will occur by voicing it (as I was), then I say with confidence and conviction- that person is not ‘the one’. The one will allow you to express your concerns in a safe and nonjudgmental place, and they will value your emotions because they value you. Doesn’t mean they agree, just means that if something isn’t working, they will work to fix it, not make you feel stupid about voicing it. Transparency moment: I felt this way. In fact, I was called stupid for some of the concerns that I had. I put up with double standards and not feeling valued and being treated as less significant than his female friends, YET I STAYED. Why, I’m still trying to figure out. I think it was because I saw potential. We will talk about the dangers of dating/marrying potential later in this challenge. The lesson is that although I stayed for much longer than I should have, I did leave. It was hard because I was so emotionally invested, but I realized that I was beginning to be comfortable with settling and I was beginning to tell myself that this was as good as it would get. The devil is a liar and so was he. I got out. Now that the fog has cleared, I realize that what I experienced was not even my imagined best, so it couldn’t be the Ephesians 3:20 that my God promises me. Don’t trick yourself to believe it is ‘no big deal’ when everything within you is screaming that it is.’

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