Game. Set. Match.
By Alecia Simersky
I love music. One of my favorite songs is by Christian music artist, Danny Gokey, The Comeback.
“After a season of night falls and push backs
After the heartache of wrong turns and sidetracks
Just when they think they've got you game set match
Here comes the comeback.”
Don’t we all go through seasons where we think the dark is winning?
(When you are barely making ends meet and then the car breaks down. A best friend betrays your deepest trust. Your child walks away from the faith you invested years to pass along.)
Sometimes when we look ahead we can see just enough light to keep moving forward.
For me, music, scripture, and friends are the life lines that keep me going when I’m in a season of night-falls and push-backs. They are like fresh air breathing through my spirit.
I’ve learned despite what the enemy throws at me, I can’t lose my hope or faith. Is it easy? No. But if we have our life lines they will keep guiding us towards higher ground and we won’t sink with each new storm.
We also have this promise found in Psalms 61:2, “From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to a rock that is higher than I.”
Our sweet Father promises to hear us when we cry out to Him.
On days when I feel overwhelmed I’ll repeat the phrase, lead me to a rock that is higher than I, over and over until my thoughts are not on what is happening, but on what my God can and will do. My breathing slows, and my anxious thoughts settle into peace. God is in control and whatever will be, will be. I don’t have to worry or spin out of control.
My God is in control.
It’s only when we put our faith into practice are we able to navigate the seasons of disappointments and heartaches.
The enemy thinks he has us, game set match. Oh, he’s a sly one alright. With each setback, he’s wringing his hands in anticipation of us giving up. Can’t you see him? Prowling around, licking his lips, so proud in his thoughts of taking out another one of God’s children.
But, wait. What’s this? No!he growls.
He sees you wipe away the tears and slowly lift your hands in praise. Bowing your head in prayer declaring, God is good! No matter what, He is good, and I will not be overtaken. I will not give up! I trust you, Lord!!
It hits the enemy every time. He may throw a few more punches, just to see if you mean it. Satan can’t overcome a child who is determined to stick with God through a storm.
He decides to move on. He’ll be back though, He always comes back. Determined and persistent to destroy everyone God loves.
But, you’ll be ready, because you have everything you need to be a conqueror.
(What the enemy means for evil, God will use for good. (Genesis 50:20))
Sweet friends, when you feel the enemy has called, game set match on your life, I want you to remember your life lines. Find what connects you to God: journaling, reading scripture, meeting friends for coffee…and watch God move your heart to a rock that is higher than your storm.
Your comeback is coming and it’s going to be glorious!
By Alecia Simersky
Very rarely when we are doing battles in life do we want to stand still and do nothing. Someone wrongs us, and we want to fight. Defend ourselves, prove our case.
But when we look at God’s word so often we see Him instruct His people to, “stand still.”
That seems so counterintuitive if we want to win the fight. We must make a move, we must do something. And yet, over and over we read “the battle is mine, all you need to do is stand your ground.” (2 Chronicles 20:17 (my paraphrase))
Do I think there are times we should act? Absolutely.
But how often could the battles in our life be won if we took it to Heaven from the start? What if we began the battle on our knees first and then allowed Him to direct our next move?
Our way usually makes things worse anyways.
In 1 Samuel 12:16, we find the Israelites once again have gone astray. (I know, shocker!)
They are LOST. They are living life their own way, creating their own gods and have gotten themselves into heaps of trouble. Samuel is trying to help them out, he tells them if you keep rebelling the hand of God is going to come against you.
He encourages them: “Even now, take your stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes.”
He’s pleading with them to watch and take their eyes off their idols. To stop living life the way they think is right and look up!
Are we any different today?
Thankfully, we do have the Bible as our reference to learn from the stubborn Israelites. I used to judge them, big time. How could they be so stubborn and dumb? I mean, they had all these signs and wonders happening right in front of them and yet they still doubted and turned from Him. I would think, I would NEVER doubt God with all those miracles happening right in front of my eyes.
Oh, to walk so closely day and night and never have to wonder if He was real.
In my eyes the Israelites had it made.
And yet I look at my life and I can look back and see ALL the ways He has carried me through. In my dark days He’s provided ways when I couldn’t find one. He’s performed downright miracles just to show me He can be trusted.
But I still doubt some days. I still wonder are you there, God?
Do you see? Do you care?
Samuel’s words were to spur on the Israelites, but they are for me too.
The spirit whispers…
Watch what I will do, Alecia. Take your stand and I will do great things before your eyes, you just watch and see.
Oh, how I want to get better at this. Standing still goes against my every nature, however I want to see my Father fight for me. I want to see the miracles happen before my eyes and be blown away by His goodness.
Father forgive me when I take matters into my own hands. Help me to turn, stand, and watch for you.
He Came to Set Us Free
By Alecia Simersky
Isaiah 61:1-2 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn…”
Seven years ago, I began a blog and began writing. I didn’t know what I was doing or even why. I just knew that when I sat down and typed out the words on my heart I felt like I was doing what I was made to do. I learned all I could, met lots of other “writers” and even met a few in person.
But what was the purpose of it all?
Many times, the Lord would bring Isaiah 61:1-2 to mind and I would read and study the verse, searching out clues to my God-given purpose. Obviously, (to me) it seemed the Lord had anointed me to use my small little platform to tell others about God. And obviously He knew I knew a little about heartbreak, so maybe my job was to write and help people get free from legalistic viewpoints, fear, and pain that can keep us stuck. I declared, “Send me, God! I’m your person. Let’s set the captives free…yeah!!”
And then I went through a crippling season of depression. One that left me wondering if I would make it out alive. I had never in my life felt so hopeless and alone. The medicine left me a in zombie-like state and I was doing good just getting through each day.
About this time the website, God-sized Dreams that I had helped found and wrote for decided that it was time for our small group of writers to meet and have a weekend to plan and dream. I woke up at dawn and drove myself from Dallas down to Houston. Ignoring the butterflies and the feelings of dread about being with others and having to fake myself through, I fought rush hour and the urge to stay home.
On the second day Gindi, our host, pulled me aside before breakfast. She said, “Alecia in my quiet time this morning I was reading Isaiah 61 and felt like the Lord said this word was for you.”
I couldn’t believe it. There it was again, that verse. What did it mean? What was God trying to tell me?
Could it be that all this time I thought the message was for me to set others free when God was telling me I was the captive?
I spent the rest of the time trying to figure out why. Why did God see me as a prisoner that needed to be set free?
In the years to follow I began to understand. I wanted to love and follow Him with my whole heart, but it was a divided heart. I held onto misconceived notions, anger, unforgiveness and like an onion with it’s many layers He was peeling off one by one all that was keeping me bound.
I put idols before Him and instead of trusting Him with my unknowns I held tightly to what I knew and could control. I told Him I’d do anything for Him but put certain things in a “Do not touch” pile. Do not touch my family, do not touch my health, do not touch my children etc.
I was finding out that when you say anything to God He will take you at your word and the pruning is painful.
I wanted shallow faith that didn’t cost me anything and God wanted me to go deeper. He wanted me to have a faith that could sense a storm coming and prepare for the downpour, not run when the waters rose.
God wants us to be free from anything that will hinder His work and plan in our life. He knows the cost because He paid it. Binding broken hearts, setting captives free, comforting those who mourn…we can only do those for others when we have fully experienced it ourselves.
Today, ask the Lord what is holding you captive. What is keeping you from living in freedom?
Freedom-the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved (dictionary.com)
Taste & See
By Alecia Simersky
I make God small. Isn’t that funny? Can you imagine the God of the universe being made small? But I do.
I make the mistake of thinking God doesn’t care about my small problems. Or God doesn’t/won’t do this or that because my brain can’t comprehend how.
I forget that God is God. And in fact, He’s very good at being God.
When I think of thousands of years He’s been planning, orchestrating, and loving us humans quite well. I open my Bible and read the stories, and I read of His goodness and how His plans always prevail and yet I doubt they will for me.
Why? Because of my own small ideas of who God is. My doubts that He can’t love me as much as He says He does.
But God, He wants to show us He’s more than we can possibly hope or imagine. He loves to tear down walls and blow our minds; if only we have the faith to believe.
I can wring my hands, lose sleep, not eat over all the things that have me fearful and dreading. In the end? All I have is sore fingers, dark circles, and a growling stomach to show for it.
What if I faithfully gave my burdens to God, stilled my wildly beating heart, and focused on who God is?
All the fears, uncertainties, and doubts become small as God becomes bigger.
I truly believe God wants to shatter the boxes we try to put Him in. We make Him small with our assumptions of who and what He is, and He relishes the opportunity to blow us away.
I can just see Him up in Heaven saying, “Oh, you think I won’t…can’t? Challenge accepted. You sit back and watch what I can do!”
What pleasure it must give Him to see the joy and excitement on our faces when He not only has answered our prayer but went above and beyond what we even prayed for…hoped for.
The last few years of my life have had me on my knees. Begging God for relief and answers. I only wanted His will to be done. He didn’t answer the way I prayed, but through the fire He was right there with me. And He made sure I knew it.
Through words in a song, a friend’s word of encouragement when she didn’t know what was going on, or a timely gift in the mail. So many ways and times He showed me He loved me and cared for me.
As the Bible says, “Taste and see the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)
Do it my friend, see for yourself that He can be trusted, and He is so very good.
Taste and see for yourself.
Written by Alecia Simersky
Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”
I sent a text to a friend. I wanted to encourage her and so I said, "I hope God shows you today how much He loves you and that he sees you. I hope you see a feather as a reminder." I’m not sure why a feather, but that’s what popped into my head. She wished the same back to me. I prayed silently to God, show my friend that you see her, and you haven't forgotten her.
A couple of hours later, she sent me this text...
Since then feathers and Y's have been showing up everywhere! Why they Y's you ask? What do they mean? Well, Jennifer Dukes Lee, started me on the Y's. Y is for Yahweh-God.
A few years back she started noticing the Y's. In trees, on signs, sticks, roads. You name it she saw it. It was like God's way of reminding her that He was with her.
I think as fallible human beings we tend to forget, and we need the physical reminders that God is close.
After a hard day. After a disappointing day. After a downright no- good- day-let-me-throw-in-the-towel-day. We need to remember God is God and can be trusted.
And for me, God uses feathers. I’ll look down and see it laying on the ground like it’s been waiting for me to notice.
Will You Follow?
By Erica Windham
During the summer that I turned eleven-years-old, my family went on vacation to Atlanta, GA. It just so happened that the entire Osmond family was staying in the same hotel where we were staying. It also, just so happened, that my little nine-year-old sister, Kim, and I heard the hotel staff saying that Donnie Osmond was on the 11th floor of the hotel and they even said his room number. You may be asking yourself, “What are the chances that they would happen to overhear such a conversation?” Right? Me too! I knew it was fate. They were giving me the chance to meet my heart throb. So, Kim and I devised a plan to go stake-out his room.
Now, my parents had left us at the hotel, under the supervision of my sister, Shan, who was 15-years-old, while they went out to dinner. We told Shan that we were going to ride the elevator to "check out the pool" and come right back. You know how most kids love to push elevator buttons? Well, Kim and I were no different. We had played on the elevators for a couple of days going back and forth from our room to the swimming pool. This particular hotel had two sets of elevators. One set was located just down the hall from our room, and the second set was around a couple of hallways. The second set of elevators were the ones that took you straight to the front lobby of the hotel. We called these the "big elevators" because they were roomier and decorated nicely. During this stake-out adventure, we went around to the "big" set of elevators and hit the button to go to the 11th floor.
At this point of our vacation, I was confident that I could have been a professional bellhop, like the ones I saw in the movies. I could press the correct buttons in those elevators without even looking, or so I thought. Donnie's room happened to be located directly in front of the elevator. When we reached the 11th floor, the doors opened, and my eyes immediately locked on the door to his room. I can still remember to this day the excitement I felt as I stood in that elevator, assured in my heart that he would walk out of his room, look into my eyes, and fall in love with me like I was in love with him. The plan was to stay in the elevator until we saw him come out. (We were 9 and 11-years-old, remember?) As we were watching his door, and talking about what we would say to him when he came out of his room, I reached over to push the button to hold the doors open. Well, all of a sudden alarms started ringing all over the entire hotel. LOUD ALARMS! Immediately, I knew the mistake I had made. The elevator doors wouldn't close, and the bells wouldn't stop ringing. By mistake, I had pressed the fire alarm button. Out of sheer panic, I took off running for the other set of elevators, yelling for Kim to follow me. Poor thing, she had no idea what was happening, and as I was rounding the 2nd corner, I looked behind me and didn't see Kim. I just knew we were going to jail, or worse, my mom would find out. I ran back to get her and found her standing in front of the elevator doors dazed and confused. I grabbed her hand and took off running, again. We rode the other elevators to our floor and made it to our room. You could hear the alarms ringing, very loudly, on every level of the hotel. When we got to our room, Shan was worried and asked if we knew what was happening. We told her what we had done, and to protect us, and throw whoever may be investigating why the alarms were ringing off of our track, she called down to the lobby. When the operator answered Shan asked her why the bells were ringing and if we needed to exit the building. Of course, they assured her it was a false alarm and that everyone was safe.
I am, to this day, certain to look at the buttons on an elevator more than once, before I push them.
I have to confess that I have often made the same types of mistakes throughout my life. Thinking that I knew just what I was doing and had no need to “watch where I was going” all of a sudden, I would find myself running for my life trying to escape the outcome of my choices. Sometimes my choices only affected me, and sometimes there were people I left behind dazed and confused. I have, through the grace of God and His faithfulness, changed from being that person who too quickly pushes the button. I often compare myself to the disciple Peter. He, too, was quick on the draw with his decisions. Remember that he pulled the knife out and chopped the ear of the soldier off in the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus could even say “stop!” Thankfully, Jesus saw the heart of Peter. He knew what mistakes Peter would make before He ever made them, yet, He chose him anyway. Father God knew the choices I would make as well, and, yet, He adopted me as His own. He has faithfully and lovingly forgiven my ignorance and my wanderings. He has restored me to Himself and many times He has been so gracious to me that He even allowed many of my mistakes to stay between me and Him.
I wrote this post to tell you that if there is hope for me... there is hope for you! God is in the redeeming business. He doesn't keep a record of wrongs. He is faithful and just to forgive us. He is patient and kind. He tells us in Psalm 46 that He is "very present" with us. He repeats this throughout the Psalm saying, "The Lord of hosts is with us." His word says, "Cease striving and know that I am God." I don't know about you, but that speaks straight to my soul.
Jesus has chosen me to be His disciple at this time in history. He has also chosen you! Will you follow or will you stay back dazed and confused?
A Holy Pursuit
Written by Alecia Simersky
I’ve sort of had a back and forth conversation with God since I gave my life to him 15 years ago. It goes something like this, “Lord, I want to live your way and do what is pleasing in your sight. Show me and search me, what in my life is not pleasing to you?”
He eventually shows me, and I go, “Really, you want me to do what? I think I’m hearing You wrong, bad connection!”
I remember one day several years ago I had prayed the prayer above and was sitting quietly just in case He responded when a popular television show flashed across my mind. It was a TV show that a lot of people watched. That I watched.
Did he really mean for me to give up my favorite crime show, what could be wrong with it?!
There was drama, there was comedy…and there was casual sex, lust, raunchy jokes.
I wanted to obey God and live a pure life, but I also didn’t want to cross into legalistic territory. I wanted to always make sure I was living in freedom.
In her book Dance, Stand, Run Jess Connolly says this: “If we could see the fullness of our sin and the depth of His grace we’d dance. If we knew our true identity as holy daughters, of God made right with Him and called to stay set apart for His glory and abundance, we’d stand firm. And if we fully grasped both of these things, you wouldn’t be able to stop the women of God from running on mission.”
If you’re like me, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in what the world says is normal, and even other Christians, that I forget that God sets the standard. And if He is impressing upon my heart a certain show, movie, or even music isn’t for my good then I should sit up and pay attention.
There have been times I’ve refused to watch certain shows. And in my slow obedience (ok, fine, disobedience) I continued watching. I would rationalize that I really didn’t see anything wrong with what I was watching, and there were WAY worse things.
(Isn’t that just like sin? To rationalize it so your sin doesn’t seem so bad.)
I hate to admit that I didn’t give up that show, my human brain couldn’t understand why, so I ignored the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
The sad truth is I was more worried about what other people would say and my reasons for not watching the show than I was about what God said. I didn’t want to stand out as an overtly Christian (some might use the term, Bible Thumper) or that girl who didn’t watch certain shows ‘cause God told her not to.
Yep, for someone who was worried about not walking in freedom, I sure wasn’t walking in too much of it.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
As God’s holy daughters we are called to a different standard and it won’t always make sense and others will not understand, but stand firm anyways.
I don’t always walk the walk well, and there’s grace, but the longer I’ve been with Jesus the more I understand that He knows me better than I know myself and if He’s asking me to stay away from something it’s always for my good.
And if others don’t understand, they can take it up with God!
“On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.”
(The Solid Rock, Edward Mote)
Guest post by Amy Nabors.
She’s there almost every time I go to Walmart. An older lady, just sitting greeting each and every person.
Walmart isn’t my favorite place, but this one is convenient to the gym and the business I work for. I try to go early in the morning before it gets busy. She’s there every time I go on a weekday morning sitting on the bench near the shopping carts. Every time she greets you with a “Good morning. God bless you,” or “Have a great day. God bless you,” as you leave.
And every time I think to myself that she must have the spiritual gift of encouragement.
I always speak politely to her and say good morning or thank you, but that’s all. I’m so task oriented my brain is focused on the task at hand. Get what I need to get and leave. I’ve wondered for over a year what her story is. Why does she sit there so many mornings greeting people? Where does she live? Is she not able to work?
The last time I went I wished I had stopped long enough to ask her. Something told me I should ask.
As I stopped by Walmart just after 7am on this cold January morning to pick up a few groceries, I knew I was supposed to ask her if she was there.
She was there. Sitting on the bench in the drafty entry way next to the shopping carts. Just like always.
“You’re here all the time,” I say to her.
“Yes I am. It’s part of my ministry. From 6-10 every morning Monday through Friday. I pray for each person that walks through these doors.”
I told her each time I’ve seen her I thought she had the gift of encouragement. You could tell she didn’t want to talk about herself. She just wanted to keep greeting each person and praying for them.
Her name is Elizabeth. And she prays.
I wonder how many people she’s greeted and prayed for over the many weeks and months she’s been sitting there as they’ve walked through the doors of Walmart. I’m thankful I have been one of them.
From Alecia Simersky:
There’s an old Addison Road song called, What Do I Know Of Holy, it’s been a long time favorite of mine and every so often the song pops into my head and I begin the singing lyrics:
“What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life it's name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?”
The song reminds me that God’s ways of love, forgiveness, and grace, are beyond my understanding. That just when I think I may have Him all figured out, He surprises me and takes my breath away.
I’m recently coming out of a particularly hard season of life and one day while I was praying, crying, Lord is this really your will for my life? This is so hard and really hurts, when an image in my head appeared of Jesus sitting in front of an empty frame with pieces of colored broken glass lying next to Him on the floor. Piece by piece he reached down and picked up a shard and placed it just so onto the frame.
This frame was my life, this frame was a blank canvas and represented what He was doing to make whole of what I saw as broken.
Piece by broken piece He picked up the glass-my broken dreams and hurts. He looked back at me and smiled. Did I see what He was doing?
I watched Him with expectation…with hope I hadn’t had in a long time. Could he really make my mess into something beautiful? As if he was reading my mind, He picked up another piece and carefully placed it onto the frame. Yes.
He showed me that day that as I release my will, and all that I thought was lost and could never be used for good, it could be redeemed in His hands.
I can see it. The start of something new even though the whole picture isn’t clear. I can’t envision how it will look when it’s complete, when I’m complete, but I see Him working.
Since that day when I begin to feel overwhelmed, I close my eyes and see the shattered pieces of my life, the frame, and Jesus. I’m reminded, He’s here and He’s moving. I’m at peace, because even though what I see with my earthly eyes doesn’t look all that great, but through my spiritual eyes there is hope for what can be.
Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is working all things for our good.
And He is. Piece by broken piece into a masterpiece.
Oh, Lord may have the faith to trust you with our brokenness and pray not for our will be done, but Yours. In your Holy hands our lives will become a masterpiece. Each day may we choose to not give into our anger and bitterness but trust that You are always with us and working. We choose to see with our spiritual eyes what can’t be seen with our earthly ones. In Your precious name we pray, Amen