February 2021 Email Archive – What Do You Expect from God?
What do you expect of God?
What do you believe he will—and won’t—do?
And how are you living in response to that?
What if God changed all of that by giving you a new pattern of thinking? What if he revealed himself to be different—and better—than you thought?
I believe he wants to. And, based on my past experience with God doing that, I want him to do more of that for me.
I want it for you, too.
“I’ve realized that my thoughts, words, and the ways I live are mostly a reflection of my expectation about who God is and what I believe he will and won’t do.”
But before we go deeper into that, I want to briefly tell the story of how God set out to break a spiritual stronghold in a group of his people a long time ago.
A spiritual stronghold
is a pattern of thought that counters God
A Long Time Ago…
After the days of Abraham and Isaac, Isaac’s son Jacob and all of his descendants moved to Egypt during a worldwide famine. Jacob’s son Joseph—who had arrived in Egypt years ahead of the rest of his family—famously helped the world survive that 7-year famine, through his God-given dream interpretation ministry and supernatural wisdom. (See Genesis 41.)
The family of Jacob (whom God had renamed Israel) continued to grow larger. After all of Joseph’s generation died, a new ruler came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph. He saw only that the Israelites outnumbered Egypt, and he was afraid of what he thought could happen if they turned against Egypt, so he enslaved the Israelites (Exodus 1). The Israelites’ harsh oppression in Egypt continued for 400 years (Genesis 15:13-16; Acts 7:6).
And then, God worked powerfully through Moses and Aaron and ended it (see Exodus 7-11). God brought every Israelite out of Egypt on the same day, miraculously freeing the entire nation.
Now, fast forward just a tiny bit to only several days after that…
The Israelites are being led through a wilderness by the same God who has just brought them out of Egypt.
God is now at work carrying out the next part of his plan—and he has let Moses in on many of the details of it. (He has left out the specifics of the surprise ending, but he has assured Moses that it ends well.)
This part of the plan takes the Israelites far out of their way. But God knows that this apparent detour is a vital part of their journey.
That’s because, after generations of bitter oppression, the Israelites have a lifetime of mental strongholds that need to be torn down. They had developed a pattern of thinking that God was not coming to their aid.
But God was about to break that stronghold. Once God had carried out this part of his plan, every Israelite would know that their rescue from Egyptian taskmasters was irrevocable.
God directed the Israelites to camp at a certain location at the edge of the Red Sea.
And then the Egyptians came after them.
More than 600 thundering Egyptian chariots were now in front of the Israelites. And the Red Sea was behind them.
(Here’s a map that helped me visualize how vulnerable the Israelites’ specific position would have appeared from a human standpoint. God had told them to camp across from pi-Hahiroth near Baal-Zephon, between Migdol and the Red Sea (Exodus 14:1-2). They would have appeared to be sitting ducks!)
Even though God had told the Israelites his plan, what they saw—their cruel human oppressors before them—made their strongholds seem more real to them than God’s freshly spoken word for their rescue. The Israelites responded with terror.
But their strongholds were wrong. God did help them.
(You can read the rest of that story in Exodus 14:1-19.)
And that’s where I want to come back to you and me:
· We may be living—and relating to God—in a way that is constrained by strongholds of which we aren’t even aware.
· Strongholds can keep us bound, or they can be torn down by God’s power and we can be set free from them.
· Our own thoughts can either reinforce strongholds, or help tear them down.
Let God Renew Your Mind
In my experience, any pain point in one’s relationship with God is a good place to ask God to tear down strongholds. Invite God to tear down strongholds in your life and in your thinking. You can do this even if you aren’t aware of what the strongholds are. I share a personal story about this in my book Faith with Wings.
God, please tear town any and all strongholds in me that oppose you.
Replace them with godliness with contentment (1 Timothy 6:6).
Your Red Sea Experience
When you invite God to act in this way in your life, he will work—through any creative expression he chooses—to tear down strongholds, free you, heal you, speak to you, reveal truth, and much more.
For the Israelites, God used a nature miracle involving the Red Sea. For me, books are one tool (but definitely not the only one) that God repeatedly uses in my life—probably because I love to read! In Faith with Wings, I recounted one such powerful and freeing experience with Francis MacNutt’s book The Healing Reawakening.
Fictional stories can also be a powerful part of spiritual formation and tearing down strongholds. Jesus was famously a teller of parables, fictional short stories rich with truth that challenged and changed people’s thinking. I also shared a story in Faith with Wings about how powerfully—and unexpectedly—God used a fictional movie in my life. I love to think about that now. That was no ordinary experience.
God has a way of making his messages unforgettable. He knows when his people need a Red Sea experience.
Tearing Down Strongholds
Scriptures to Explore
· John 8:31-36
· Romans 8:5-6; 12:2
· 1 Corinthians 2:16
· 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
· Ephesians 4:17-32
· Philippians 2:5; 4:8
· Colossians 3:1-17
· Psalm 51:10
· Proverbs 3:5-6
Looking for an online Bible? Here is a free one I like to use: Biblegateway.com.
Here’s some of my favorite Recommended Reading.
I’d love to hear from you: What strongholds are you asking God to break down for you? What books and other creative expressions is God using right now in your spiritual formation?
Just hit reply to send me an email.
To your freedom, health, and wholeness,
P.S. If you haven’t read Faith with Wings, now is a great time to get the paperback or ebook at special prices. In it, I share true accounts of how God worked powerfully to set me free from strongholds that I didn’t even know were there. I believe he’ll work through Faith with Wings to do the same for you.
P.P.S. I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of Faith with Wings on February 14. To enter your name in the drawing, reply to this email by midnight (CST) on February 13, and type “Faith with Wings book drawing” in the message area of your email.
What I’m Writing Now: Inspirational Fiction
As I continue to write my new fiction series, I’m asking God to use it to bring readers more of the fullness of life that Jesus wants for us.
I plan to release several stories in the series at once so that readers can move right from one to the next.
These emails are the place to get updates about my new books, and I’m so grateful that you’re here!
Faith with Wings by AmyLu Riley
Faith with Grit for the Not-Yet Healed by AmyLu Riley
Stay: Why I’m Still Here, A Spiritual Memoir by AmyLu Riley
Jesus as Healer by AmyLu Riley