💛 Nehemiah 8 vs 10..."And be not grieved and depressed; for the J💛Y of The Lord IS your strength.."

Here we are in the second month of the new year, 2016, and perhaps those new habits, disciplines, rituals of better eating, an addition of a fitness regime, better sleep habits, tweaking your budget by shedding some lifestyle habits, purging closets of excessive clothes and shoes, and/or spending more time with Him...in His Word. ..soaking it up ....and whoops...it just didn't play out like you planned. 

Life happened, didn't it..? We live in a cursed, fallen, sinful world. And when pressures come and there's a pinch somewhere in our life...whether it be in our family, or our workload, or a doctors report, or something as simple as our own feelings getting hurt...and not dealing with them...our feelings...biblically, it shakes out the same, we get tripped up again. Well, the adversary doesn't have any new tricks. He's watching, stalking us, especially us...those pesky little Kingdom Kids. O, he hates us. And when he takes notice or one of his little demons reports back to him that one of those *Royals* are trying to be more Kingdom in some area of our lives...then here he goes. He knows our weaknesses,  by observing us...not being omniscient.  And so, when we vow at the beginning of the year, to tweak an area in our Kingdom life here on earth...he sends out a troop of little demons to attack, frustrate, distract us even, so that we will, without even thinking, say.. .."ughhh, this is just too hard, I can't do this...like I had hoped.." And once again we give up,,and walk away from our resolution, perhaps not even thinking..."hey, wait a minute, that's just the dark side pestering me, trying to cloud my thinking, distract me even, from becoming more disciplined in my soldier life" "So, devil, get on out of here, that doesn't work anymore, because I'm a new creature in Christ! "

So, just like the 12 apostles, after the resurrection,  had become hopeless, depressed even because their Leader, the Anointed One they had followed closely for 3 years was, to their knowledge,  dead and buried in a borrowed tomb...they thought...Now what? So, turning to the leader, Peter, they went back to their old jobs, forgetting Jesus' words to them and any hope His Word had offered to them. So, just like these men, when life happens, when things come, goliaths appear...we can be tempted to *naturally* do or revert back to our old ways, because that is what we know, that is what comforts us, so that we don't have to deal with an issue. Some people,  when confronted with a problem, go eat ...alot...or they go shop...alot...or take back up that drinking or smoking because all of this numbs us, distracts us, and buries the goliath that is still taunting us.  It's easy, because these habits which the world offers, even implies that we deserve to do what feels good, no guard rails at all, Simply put, we revert back and do what seems natural, what you are accustomed to doing. What this example points out is...whatever we do, over and over, good or bad, Kingdom or unkingdom. ..in our everyday lives...will be easy and *natural* for us to do. So, it goes to reason, that if we would just  take on a new Kingdom habit, and *keep* with it...it will too, in turn, become *natural* to us. Unfortunately,  this doesn't always happen and we/I can give up too easily.

The vicious cycle starts...tired of old ways... want to get rid of a bad habit that is simply dragging you down...make a plan....start the plan...demons take notice...demons slink back to the adversary and tattle on you...devil pulls out same old battle plan...boom 💥 ....first chance you get...your *in control flesh* cries *Wah*... and you stop your plan...and slump away...bitter and depressed and perhaps even thinking...this is how it's going to be. I'll never change...it's too hard...at least I don't do ______________(fill in the blank), making your flesh feel better. Then stop on the way home to pick up some cartons of Ben + Jerry's or _____________(fill in the blank)...and just settle back in to the way things were before you tried to improve. Sigh 😩

 But our playbook, soldier's manual, tells us...you and me differently. Let's go back to Nehemiah.  In the eighth chapter, long about verse 10b...the Lord tucked away a golden nugget of great provision for His royals. Let's read..."And be NOT grieved {say your name, carolclare} and depressed,...why???...for the JOY of the Lord IS your {say your name, carolclare} strength and your stronghold..!" Glory, that's some dynamite Word for us, if we find it, read it, figure it out, believe it, acknowledge this Word as Truth now, and act upon It. You might ask, what does this look like, practically speaking?

 Well, it's the middle of February and the new discipline in your life is already like a mountain in your life. For instance, to put up more guardrails in your daily nutrition choices, you have decided to delete sweet snacks. You can still have your 3 meals a day and a snack option but the snack has to be a nutritious option that fuels you better than a sugary sweet snack. And so, you make a meal plan for each week, and shop according to said menu plan, and even make your lunches for the upcoming week, and go to bed on Sunday night...all content inside because of the preparation you have taken to implement this lifestyle choice you have made to enhance the soldiering in your pilgrim life here on earth.

 Monday morning comes and you are working smoothly at your job, lunchtime comes and you are satisfied with your handmade lunch...and you go back to work...pleased and pondering your 2pm. snack break of a high octane, protein packed, treat that is awaiting you. And then it happens...someone in the office has a birthday and a big cake is wheeled out for all to enjoy. 🎂🍴Yay!!  ðŸ˜¨


So what do you do? Old you wouldn't want to hurt the sweet little birthday girl's feelings and say no thank you...or have to explain to everyone as they eat their slices of cake..."what's wrong, you not feel good today?"...knowing they'll say.."O come on, one little slice won't hurt...come on." And now, you do kinda want a piece, what's the harm...I'll just eat less supper tonight...you ponder, ya know, those old rerun thoughts that have kept you from making this choice of a new habit, not actually becoming a natural day to day change in your life. 

So here's the difference this time...the end of the line...the *okay you flesh of mine, you lose this time...there's a new Word in town...and I have His promise to me that says...Phillipians 4 vs 13..."I have strength for all things in Christ, Who empowers me ... (I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self sufficient in Christ's sufficiency)  And you dear sweet immature, flesh of mine are not in charge anymore, and the answer is "No, to the cake.."...and you, dear sweet coddled immature flesh will be just fine. In fact, all is well...!! His promise to me and you is...Christ has already infused us with power and discipline to say no ✋ to this piece of birthday cake. And before this cake popped up on the radar...our Savior had already provided a promise from Him..that is Truth and power to those who know and believe.  And just like when you were little and for me, anyway, were in second grade...learning cursive...and wrote and wrote and practiced my penmanship til those letters in the alphabet looked more and more beautiful and soon, my writing in cursive was easier and more natural because of the repetition and my confidence in writing in cursive in all areas of my homework just followed naturally, so much so, that I didn't write in the old way by just printing my letters but i chose to make cursive my new style of everyday writing for me.

I truly believe that, His grace and power that backs up each written Word of His promises...shows up supernaturally,  upon the moment (s) our heart truly recalls a verse buried deep within our heart's soil,and in turn, leans upon wholeheartedlyin His Word during each crisis or mountain we face. Just like in Joshua 3 vs 13.."when the soles of the feet 👣 of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord of all the earth shall rest (touch..) in the (waters of) Jordan, the waters of the Jordan, coming down from above shall be cut off and they shall stand in one heap..." In other words, the priests led the way of the people,  and when their feet. ..stepped into the large not small, waters of the Jordan...the Lord caused the waters to split and rise up on ether side to make a way, a clear way, a surefooted,  dry way for God's people to use as a way of escape...deliverance so to speak.  And as they passed through. ..this wasn't a short quick little renegade of people. this was the group who had not died in the desert, and were entering the *promised land* ....the priests stayed in the river bed...keeping their soles in this spot...to keep the waters at bay per the Lord's instructions.  Now this is for another time, but as His saved children, we are now *a Royal priesthood* 1 Peter 2 vs 9. And as His saved child, His Spirit dwells within us (ark of the covenant ), now...1 Corinthians 3 vs 16.  

So, take His Word personally...as His instructions and declarations to you, Royal child....and when you decide to follow His lead and start toward your own *promised land*...be it...better nutrional choices, carving out time for His Word,  or once and for all...shedding that bad habit...stepping up your game as a wifey or husband, or mommy or daddy, or student or employee...do any of this by using your faith. Step up to your opponent...stick your foot out...go forward in faith in His Word to you..."I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and just wait and watch for Him to empower you supernaturally.  Our part is to find Word and believe Word. ..His part is to supply, make a way, do the impossible. ..the Supernatural. ..that's all on Him. He can still part waters, He can be with you in the fire and lead you out ...without you even smelling like the fire 🔥 Daniel 3 vs 26-27. 

And just the way we learned our old natural ways by watching and copying the way the world handles things...patterns and fallback and mindsets and all of them became natural patterns in our old unsaved, unroyal day to day lives...so too...these new, chain freeing,  abundant life, royal, Kingdom ways can become natural and our new... *go to* habits for us now. But it takes two. The Lord has supplied the promises...we supply the Faith and the trust and then...once He sees us sticking our little foot out there ...in belief...He supplies the power...the super-natural power behind His Word that does not return void..Isaiah 55 vs 11...and miracles happen, paths are revealed to our sight, opponents flee,  torrential waters move away, and mountains become climbable...🌄 

  And this dear Royal child...this showing up of His power in your daily life...is what causes your *strength* to abound, despite the time of day, or lack of sleep, or running low on fuel in your body. You end up discovering that the *JOY* of knowing what the Lord can do for you and in turn, experiencing Him working for you in difficult situations, that seemed nigh on impossible. ...causing paths to be cleared, enemies to tuck tail and run, and locked doors to suddenly become unlocked....this JOY will become a strength and sure and steady stronghold for you to cling to and never depart. What's also fantastic is, He doesn't stop. He wants to keep on being your way maker, your refuge, your path carver, and your Stronghold from now on to eternity.  This is why..."the JOY of the Lord  (and ALL He can do and is always able to do without slowing up or running out of fuel Himself) is yours and my strength and stronghold!!" Praise His Name!! 👑☝

So cling to Him, dig in His Word for more wisdom, truths, ways to conduct your royal life, and promises of what He can do for you, here on earth. And then, as people take notice of your Joy and stamina ...and ask "what is keeping you going?"...reply..."The JOY of my Lord is my Strength and my stronghold. .!"💛