Our hero, come and rescue us! O God of the breakthrough, for the glory of your name, come and help us! Forgive and restore us; heal us and cover us in your love.
Psalm 79:9 TPT
To have a breakthrough is to move beyond an obstacle. I love how this verse describes God as the “God of the breakthrough.” No obstacle is too big for him; he can help us overcome anything that holds us back.
Let my passion for life be restored, tasting joy in every breakthrough you bring to me. Hold me close to you with a willing spirit that obeys whatever you say.
Psalm 51:12 TPT
Breakthroughs are awesome. They bring us joy and passion for life, and they’re inspiring. Seeing someone overcome an obstacle helps us believe we can do it, too.
So the question we must ask ourselves is, have we been living a life of breakthroughs? Are we conquering obstacles in our lives, or resigning ourselves to them? Are we vulnerably asking God for the power to overcome challenges, or are we settling into a life of stagnation?
As Jesus taught many times, the most powerful changes in our lives start on the inside and work their way out:
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
Matthew 5:8 MSG
The biggest obstacles I need God’s help to overcome are in my “inside world.” For me, they are usually fear, guilt, and pain from my past. I’m learning that opening up my heart and revealing my inside world will help me experience the breakthroughs I desire.
In this devotional, we will learn how to open our hearts so that God can help us experience the breakthroughs we need. We can’t experience breakthroughs when we hide our challenges or deny they exist. When we face them with faith in God’s power and protection, we will experience a heart transformation unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
So let’s dive into four steps to opening our hearts and experiencing spiritual breakthroughs.
Step 1: Build your faith so you can face the facts
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead-since he was about a hundred years old-and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Romans 4:18-21 NIV
Even Abraham, a person in the Bible known for his faith, reached a point where he needed a breakthrough. He had to overcome the obstacle of years of pain and infertility. He faced the painful facts of his situation, but he did it by focusing on God’s power instead of his own.
When we hit obstacles, one of the biggest things we need is faith that God is powerful enough to help us overcome them. Our human strength won’t be enough, and that’s okay.
Without this kind of faith in God’s power, it will be difficult to face the facts of our situation or need for a breakthrough. We won’t want to admit or face areas that feel impossible to change. Instead, we will settle into denial or pride.
When I don’t have faith in God’s power or desire to help me, I tend to pretend I’m fine and that I don’t have challenges to overcome. I become unaware of the things that discourage me, or I get so accustomed to living with them that I don’t even consider the possibility of having a breakthrough.
The truth is, everyone has obstacles to overcome. When we have faith in God’s power, we can freely admit the areas in which we need to grow, much like the apostle Paul did in the book of Philippians:
I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine. That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me.
Philippians 3:12-13 ERV
There’s no shame in admitting we aren’t yet what God wants us to be. Faith in God’s power helps us face the facts about our obstacles because we believe God will give us the strength to overcome them. He has the power to do what he promises, and being honest about our challenges and obstacles will help us rely on this power rather than trying to rely on our own.
Pause and reflect:
- What are some areas in which I am “not exactly what God wants me to be”? How have I been handling those areas?
- Do I see any examples of settling into denial in my life?
Step 2: Open your heart to God
What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy-full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
Matthew 23:25-26 NLT
When I moved to Washington as a college student, I was carrying around a lot of guilt, pain, and insecurity that no one would have known about by looking at me on the outside. I was religious, but I was pretending, much like the religious teachers of Jesus’s day described in these verses.
I tried to protect myself by hiding what was in my heart. My guilt, pain, and insecurity made me feel worthless. I moved across the country because I didn’t feel wanted anywhere by anyone.
This pain felt like too much to handle, so I ignored it and became consumed with trying to prove I was worth something on the outside. I wanted people to like me, to think I was funny, and to think I was smart. I wanted to earn acceptance and approval by being impressive in every way.
I didn’t believe God would forgive my guilt, heal my heart, or help me feel secure, so I turned to self-indulgence to find the comfort I desired. My self-indulgence had two forms:
- When I was by myself, I indulged in pleasure-seeking of all kinds. From video games to sensuality to eating, everything I did was about making myself feel good.
- When I was around people, I indulged in self-pity. I thought that if people felt sorry for me, they would like me.
I’m so grateful that around that time, a friend invited me to church and asked me if I would like to study the Bible. The Bible taught me that God cared about what was inside me. He wanted me to face the truth of my guilt, pain, and insecurity so that he could heal my heart. He wanted me to pour out my heart in prayer. I was religious, but I had never done that.
With the help of the Scriptures and spiritual friends, I started to tell God the truth. I told him that I felt worthless. I told him that I felt guilty. I told him that I felt hurt, and I expressed my need for forgiveness. For the first time in my life, I embraced the truth that I felt bad about the way I had treated my friends and family.
As I opened my heart, God showed me how to change. The Scriptures showed me a new path to full acceptance and forgiveness through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. God’s Word showed me how to build relationships without indulging in self-pity, and I felt free for the first time in my life.
This invitation to freedom is available to all of us, whether we are hearing about it for the first time or have been Christians for decades. All we have to do is open up our hearts. God doesn’t want a performance; he wants a relationship. As we open our hearts to him, our eyes will open too. We’ll be able to see the paths of change he opens up for us.
Step 3: Trust God enough to open your heart to other people
Have faith in Him in all circumstances, dear people. Open up your heart to Him; the True God shelters us in His arms.
Psalm 62:8 Voice
Opening my heart and sharing what’s inside is still scary, but this verse helps. It promises that “the True God shelters us in his arms.” As we open our hearts, God promises to be a shelter for us throughout the storms of life. He will always cover us with his unfailing love and blessings, and when we believe this, opening ourselves up to the people around us becomes less scary. It’s not that people won’t ever mistreat us, but we can trust God to respond to our vulnerability with love and protection. He will also help us have breakthroughs through our spiritual friendships:
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17 NLT
We need friends to sharpen our vision and help us see truths about ourselves more clearly, and it’s much easier to let people do this when we trust God to shelter us through the process.
One of the first times I learned this lesson was when I was dating my now-wife, Michele. As we got to know each other, she asked me about my life and where I was from. I shared that I had grown up in Florida and moved to Seattle for college because Seattle had always been my dream. I told her I had moved because I loved the mountains, the Seahawks (still do!), and the University of Washington.
I thought Michele would be impressed at my boldness in moving across the country and fulfilling my dream, but her reaction surprised me. “That’s as far away from home as you could possibly go,” she noticed. “Were there things that happened in your life that made you want to move away?”
My walls went up. This was not how I wanted the conversation to go. The truth was, I had been planning to get away from home since I was a teenager. As I mentioned earlier, I had been carrying deep hurt and resentment over things I had experienced in my family growing up. But I didn’t want to share that with Michele because I wanted her to like me. I was afraid to share who I was, so I lied.
“Nope!” I answered her, confidently and quickly.
Luckily, God worked through my spiritual friends to help me open my heart. Over time, I discovered that honesty was much better than lying. I didn’t need to protect myself by lying or trying to be impressive; as I opened my heart, God took care of me. Not only did my relationship with God get closer, but my relationship with Michele also got deeper, and we eventually got married. My life would have gone very differently if I had chosen to keep covering up who I really was.
We can’t control or predict how people will react when we open our hearts, but we can trust God. He is bigger and more powerful than anyone, so even if a person treats us wrong, we still have a source of love, protection, and security that will never change. We can also trust that God’s way of building relationships through honesty will lead to closer and more fulfilling relationships than we would experience by keeping our hearts closed.
Pause and reflect
- What parts of my heart are difficult to open up about?
- How do I try to make my “outsides” look good so that I don’t have to face difficult truths inside?
Step 4: Repeat!
God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to God’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
Psalm 18:20-24 MSG
Even after the many breakthroughs God has brought into my life, I still struggle with just wanting to look good on the outside and ignore my heart. I forget about the unconditional love and forgiveness that Jesus sacrificed his life to give to me; I forget about the mercy that allows me to be completely honest with God as I come to him in prayer. I forget about the power of God to make my life complete.
So I start performing again. I do things because I hope people will think I’m loving, spiritual, helpful, and good. I try to get attention from people, using them to make myself feel worthy rather than giving to them out of genuine love. Performing this way makes me tired, numb, and bitter at the people I’m trying to impress because their attention is never enough.
I think this is why the psalmist in the above passage worked hard at his faith “every day.” I need reassurance from God every day that he loves me and wants my heart. He doesn’t want my show.
The same is true for each of us. God wants to know all the pieces of our hearts. As we open up to him, he can give us a fresh start each and every day.
Pause and reflect:
- How hard have I been working at my faith each and every day?
- How can I start opening up my heart to God each day so that I experience spiritual breakthroughs?
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Ephesians 3:20-21 MSG
Any breakthrough we need is possible with God! The biggest breakthroughs in our lives happen when we let God work deep within us, in areas of our hearts that are sometimes difficult to reveal. As we trust God’s power and promises we will find the strength to open up about our hearts, and we will experience breakthroughs greater than we could ever imagine.