I had this statement; within my heart for a couple of days, ‘You don’t have to lose hope’. For those two days I have been toiling over it and trying to work through it. I have struggled to write about it. Today, as I was praying about it, a song on Spotify called no hopeless soul came on by Stephen Stanley. Here are the Lyrics and a link to his song.
Do you feel paralyzed
By the things you try to hide
That take place inside your mind
Won’t let you go
Do you feel under attack
Like a chain is on your back
Every breath hurts so bad
Steals your hope
But God don’t make no mistakes
Nothing He can’t erase
Nothing He can’t undo
Never gives up on you
Oh, there ain’t no lost cause
No one’s too far gone
Don’t you know
There ain’t no hopeless soul
You still belong to
The God who stays with you
He won’t let go
There ain’t no hopeless soul
Let your eyes see the light
Let your hands be sanitized
Let your soul be unified
By a perfect love
Mercy is calling
Mercy is calling
Calling your name
Get more lyrics at: https://sifalyrics.com/stephen-stanley-no-hopeless-soul-lyrics
My beautiful wife and I were walking through the shallow waters at Normans beach when we discovered a school of small whitebait swimming amongst our feet. I noticed one all on its own. I made a remark, “that’s dangerous”. When any sort of predator seeks to hunt, they always look for the ones that are on their own, they are easy prey.
As we were driving back to our cottage, we started talking about the importance of community. The importance of having people around you and how dangerous it can be if you pull away from community.
When we join a group, such as Church, men’s group, mum’s group, or a community garden, we are essentially, without realising it, joining a community. When we join communities, we become accountable to those in Charge or in a Church setting; leadership.
Just like the lonely fish I saw, we can sometimes drift away. In certain settings, we fall behind because of various reasons. And sometimes we are trying so hard to fit into a community that we drift away even further.
I have shared once before. I was part of one Church for 35 years. The last 15 years of that I felt lost, even though I had people around me, I was part of the leadership group, and took part in many activities. I felt lost because I allowed myself to isolate when I struggled with life; I thought I could deal with life on my own, and that’s when I declined.
When I isolated myself, I made bad life choices. One of those choices put me in Prison. While in Prison I learned how important community is, especially a God fearing Church. Going to Church was never a huge importance to me, I went more out of obligation rather than the love I have for God and being around people who have the same heart.
God has created us to have community. We only have to read scripture and see. The God-head, family, and church is all community. It is important to find a community where you fit, so you can grow as a person, allow others to challenge you, have accountability, enjoy life and influence others. When we drift away from community bad life choices can happen. We can get swallowed up by a bigger fish.
For me the bigger fish was bitterness, which lead me to isolation and thinking I could do life on my own. History shows that is not the case. We all need community to help us in good times and bad times. If you’re not part of a friendly community where you can grow, feel supported and feel encouraged, then I encourage you to find one.
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
1Th 5:11 NLT
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This year has been a tough year for millions of people all over the world. People have died because of COVID-19, others have committed suicide, people have lost businesses, their homes and everything they have worked for. It has been a tragic year. Earlier this year I didn’t work for 5 weeks, I didn’t know if I was going back to my job. Through that time, I was still grateful to God for having a roof over my head and food on the table. It was difficult. One thing I have learned over the years, to be grateful for what I have; being homeless, living in my car, little possessions, living in prison, and a life of singleness.
I’m on my delayed honeymoon, as I write I am sitting outside a beautiful cottage looking over the bay in Yanakie, Wilsons Promontory, feeling very grateful. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness towards God. It brings me to tears. My wife and I got married earlier in the year over zoom. Because of the restrictions in Melbourne, we weren’t able to travel. We had to delay the honeymoon 3 times because of restrictions. I still had my moments of, why God? Overall, I was grateful for everything I had.
Yesterday we went for a walk along tongue point track in Wilsons Promontory. It is approximately 8kms return. The views are spectacular. As I was admiring the view, it overwhelmed me with gratitude towards God; for His creation, and for my life. I know what it is like to be hungry, homeless, to be in Prison. I also know what it is like to have things I enjoy. A new laptop for my birthday, a new camera for Christmas. At all stages of my life, just having a few clothes or being blessed with luxuries of life.
Strongs definition of gratitude is actively being grateful to God, as an act of worship: That is being thankful, (giving of) thanks (-giving). It’s important to come to a stage in life; no matter what you have or where you live, having gratitude for life can bring you much joy and peace. When I was in prison, my gratitude towards God was a key to my attitude and a life of peace. I found something different each day to be grateful for. Every day I gave thanks to God. Some days were tough, I found strength having gratitude.
Gratitude takes the focus off of us and directs it to God. It is easy to go down a path and look at what we don’t have, or things we might want or need. If our gratitude is on God, then our eyes are on what He has done rather than down a path of angst. It’s also important to show gratitude for creation. I often show gratitude for something I have seen. If I see a bee, I’ll show gratitude because it produces honey. Gods creation is for our enjoyment, so why not express gratitude for it? Sometimes I’m so grateful for Gods creation it brings me to tears. I feel blessed going for a walk to the beach, or the mountains.
I encourage you, as the new year approaches, attempt to express gratitude towards God. Be thankful for the things you have, and the things you don’t have. It will bring you a joy that is satisfying to the heart.
1Th 5:18 NLT – 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Rom 8:1 NLT – 1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
This scripture comes after the struggles Paul has regarding sin. He comes to a question; Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Romans 7:24. Then he says. V25, Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. I believe Paul had a revelation, that’s written in Romans 12:2 NIV – 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Paul was a man with temptations, and I believe sometimes he fell into temptation. He struggled the same way as you and I do. If he didn’t, then he wouldn’t be human. Paul realised freedom came through Jesus. Then he finds comfort with; there is no condemnation of those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Those who belong to Jesus should no longer feel the condemnation of God. God through His graciousness sent His Son to show mercy for those who love Him. God was teaching Paul the same thing, and that’s why he wrote what he learned, to help others because he saw the power in it.
It is through our union with Jesus that God looks at us. Jesus paid the price for us, The condemnation that once was is no longer.
Most Pastors I have heard preach on this scripture have said Paul wrote this as a lesson rather than a personal experience. I believe all of Paul’s writings are from personal experience.
If you keep reading in verse 2.
Rom 8:2 NLT And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
We have the power of the Spirit to free us from the power of sin. That means we are overcomers of sin. When temptation comes, we can break the power of it through the Spirit of God. To know Jesus is to have a relationship with him. If you don’t, then it will be difficult to overcome the sin. It is not a sin when temptation comes; it is a sin when you fall into the trap of temptation. It is important to recognise the temptations. The devil tempts all people, that is what he does. He comes to steal, kill and destroy all people, especially those who belong to Jesus.
I had a pornography problem for 27 years. It was a vicious cycle. I knew it was wrong. I sought prayer and counselling; I didn’t overcome it. I felt condemned, and I hated myself for it. Years later I realised, even though I was going to church, I didn’t have a relationship with God. I was a Sunday Christian. Meaning I only read my bible and spent time with God on Sundays. If I was to spend only one day a week with my wife, then how do we become closer or get to know each other better. We can’t. Relationships take time and effort. That is how we need to be with God. Spend time with him, in prayer, reading your bible, study and talking with Him.
I am reminded of the seven sons of Sceva. Acts 19. They tried to mimic Paul. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” Verse 20. And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Spending intimate time with God gives you an authority in God that comes through Jesus. Living in this authority and knowing it helps us to overcome the power of sin. I knew God has given me the authority to overcome, living it and knowing it are important ingredients to living a Christian life. That comes from spending intimate time with God, which I didn’t do.
If we don’t know God intimately, there will be consequences. If we are not clean within ourselves, there are consequences. If you read Luke 11:24-26 24 “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, searching for rest. But when it finds none, it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ 25 So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and in order. 26 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.”
The devil will not stop, he will try and try again. When I had the pornography addiction, I would get prayer. I wouldn’t look at it for at least two weeks and then temptation would come. I would fall into that temptation and the addiction got worse. Through the healing process, God showed me three things. I didn’t have a relationship with Him; I had other issues to deal with relating to pornography, and I had un-forgiveness festering in my heart. It wasn’t until I dealt with those issues when my addiction stopped and the condemnation stopped.
I look back at my addiction, and I know God has forgiven me. I know I’m not condemned for what I did. If I was to continue down a path of pornography and sexual sin, I would have lived a life of destruction. If I was to look at porn now, through temptation, it would actually bring a sadness in my heart and a separation from God. That’s because of the relationship I have with God, and light can not mix with darkness.
It is good to know God doesn’t condemn us. It is good to know that He will forgive when we ask for forgiveness. This does not give us an excuse to keep on sinning. If we continue to sin, then Jesus’ death was in vain. Gods love should steer us away from sin, whereas the devil will try to steer us away from God. There is a Spiritual battle going on and we have to know how to fight. We have to know the authority we have in Jesus. Ephesians 6:12 NLT says. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. It is important to have your Spiritual armour on to fight off the devil. Read Ephesians 6:10-20. Through counselling I was told to put on the armour figuratively. If you don’t know how to use the armour, then the armour becomes useless. The only way to use the armour is by having a relationship with God, who is the provider of the armour.
If you have any prayer points or comments, please leave a comment. I am happy to pray for you.
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)
Spiritual Hope . Joyful Faith . Trust in God
Trusting the Love of Jesus Christ, One Day at a Time - Psalm 13:5 NIV, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”