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Focus.

29 May

Nehemiah 13:1-31

Let me preface this by encouraging you to read the book of Nehemiah in its entirety. There are so many great lessons to be learned from it!

Now, Nehemiah was one focused man of God. He risked everything when he accepted God’s request to rebuild the wall. He risked his job (ya know,cupbearer to the king), his home, and his security. Yet, he was all in for the job.

He worked tirelessly, gathering the people to help with the enormous task; encouraging them when their lives were threatened; ensuring that everything was done to God’s standards.

Completion of the wall wasn’t just physical; it was spiritual. The Israelites re dedicated themselves to God. Their hope was restored; their passion re-ignited. The city was thriving once again, and it seems Nehemiah was satisfied with the result, because he returned to his former position.

Unfortunately, the praise party ended. The people quickly returned to their old ways of living; sowing seeds of destruction. Nehemiah was made aware of this as soon as he returned for a visit.

I couldn’t help but consider what my own reactions would’ve been, had I been in Nehemiah’s position. All of the taxing labor would’ve seemed pointless. Why did I even bother? Why did you send me here God? These people will never change.

Nehemiah, however, did not react like this. He was mad, but he was focused. He wasn’t going to let anyone distract him from what God had called him to do. God proved trustworthy throughout the entire process. He protected Nehemiah. He helped him accomplish what some believed impossible. He restored him to his former position under the king. In short, Nehemiah trusted that God wouldn’t ignore the good work that had been done. Nehemiah restored the city to its proper order once again, and left its future in God’s hands.

Is there a divine calling we’re ignoring or quitting prematurely? If at this moment you’re feeling like what you do isn’t making a difference, don’t give up. You may not see the results; trust God anyways.

Follow the link below, so you can get connected with a wonderful community of women who dive into God’s Word each and every day!

http://shereadstruth.com/2014/05/30/shesharestruth-nehemiah/

“Remember me with favor, O my God.”

Redemption

17 Apr

Verses to ponder: Acts 9:21, 22

“Isn’t he [Saul] the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.”


God can redeem anyone’s past, even one full of persecution like Saul’s. The thing is, we have to make the choice, like Saul, to accept and move forward into God’s renewal. We cannot allow our pasts to define who we are now.

The people of Damascus questioned the authenticity of Saul’s redemption,. Maybe there are people who question question yours. I’ve had this same fear throughout my own journey. “What if they think I’m a phony?” “What if they don’t take me seriously?”

Lemme share 3 important facts I’ve learned so far:
1. I live for an audience of One.
2. I have been redeemed.
3. We don’t need to defend God. He defends us, and puts our accusers in their places.

Verse 22 says that “Saul grew more and more powerful”, in spite of their opinions of him. He didn’t keep a tight grip on his past. Rather, he let it go and allowed God to redeem it and heal him.

Saul became a mighty warrior for God when He allowed Him to work in his life. Dear friends, let’s allow our mighty God to soothe our wounds and redeem our pasts. We, too, have been chosen to become powerful ambassadors of His great Kingdom.

The ways of the little.

18 Feb

Are you believing in yourself? I overheard my little client* asking his friend this. He was teaching his buddy the art of balloon tying, so his makeshift hacky-sack wouldn’t pour back onto the earth. As I sat there listening to their conversation, I was simply amazed at how kind, thoughtful, and considerate children are! They root for their friends to be successful and stand by, eagerly awaiting the moment they are. They cherish their friendships and allow their childlike faith to direct their every step.

Oftentimes, I find myself enjoying life more when I’m hanging out with the kids, rather than the adults. Somehow we have managed to take away the sparkle of life; it’s spirit crushed beneath our to-do lists, politics, need for gossip, and brick walls of insecurity. How I crave their simple lives! Could it be possible, however, that we can learn from these wise children and incorporate their actions into our own adult lives?

Can we learn to take great concern for our friends, rather than penciling them in to our busy lives? Can we root for them, rather than competing against them and coveting what they have? Can we allow ourselves to actually enjoy our jobs, rather than loathing them (no matter how justified our loathing would be)?

And, can we get back to the point of having childlike faith again? Yes, there is evil in the world; an endless supply of it. But, rather than keeping ourselves guarded and thinking we’re better off just trusting the “almighty me”, can we simply trust in the Almighty? He says He has great plans for us and will direct our steps (Jer29:11, Psalm85:13). Meaning, all of those worries and anxieties about the past/present/future shouldn’t exist if we really trust Him.

Let’s take risks, form friendships, love the unlovable, reach out a helping hand to someone in need. Let’s not think about what’s “cool” or not. And, let’s stop caring so much about fitting in with the crowd. Let us make a “new crowd” of fun-loving, passionate, adults who are eager to make others feel loved. Find your childlike joy again!

Helpful hint: riding a Razor© scooter daily, will help you regain some childlike joy!

Helpful hint #2: if this is hard for you, I would be more than happy to roller-blade, play a game of Monopoly, or collect bugs with you!

* I’m a Behavioral Management Specialist.

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Be bold enough to: Read this.

19 Jan

In light of the events that occurred this week, I have found myself in a position of great distress. I spent the day, yesterday, celebrating the life of a man who became my family in two short years. He was such a funny, caring, kind-hearted, family man. The magnitude of his impact was proven by the church packed wall to wall with people who loved him. We laughed and cried as we remembered some of the best memories about him. It truly was a wonderful ceremony. But, as I sat there, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the people in my own life; all of the people whom I would be heartbroken to see leave this earth anytime soon.

I believe in God. I believe He allowed His son, Jesus, to die on the cross as payment for my many many many sins, and rose again three days later to ascend back into Heaven. I believe He will return one day to restore this crumbling earth. I believe, because of the things I have experienced since I have become a Christian. I believe, because I have found that Scripture is 100% relevant to my life, and has led the way to a deeper faith. I believe, because of the complete life change I have gone through (trust me, a divine intervention was the only thing that could have changed me). I had nothing to lose by choosing to believe in God. I quickly learned, however, that I had everything to gain.

I am writing this to you, because I want you all to know the same God I know. I want you all to experience this absolutely wonderful, mind blowing, awe inspiring, unconditionally loving God that has changed my life. But, I want you to make this decision now. I don’t want it to take a death, or other tragic incident, to move you towards this decision. I want you all to allow yourselves to live an incredible life. Yes, people manage to live pretty decent lives without following God, but they sell themselves short. They could have it so much better. I promise.

This is my plea: try it. Not religion. Try God. Be bold enough to jump in feet first before you pass judgment on the Christian life. If you dedicate yourselves 100% to a relationship with God (and I mean really), and He doesn’t change your life, then feel free to continue on with Him. I promise you, He will come through. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t even have to be in the same town as perfect. As humans, we don’t have the ability to be perfect, but we do have the ability to change.

If anyone who is reading this has any questions, any whatsoever, please ask them. Ask me. Ask a pastor. Ask anyone who could genuinely attest to who God is. If you want to hear more of my testimonies to who God is, I will gladly share. I care about all of you. Be bold. Be brave. Don’t sell yourselves short.

Be bold enough to: move forward.

12 Jan

Read: Exodus 14

I’ve just landed smack dab in the middle of uncertainty. The details of this new situation aren’t as important as the fact that I’m downright terrified of what the outcome could be. Let’s just say I’ve never had to deal with a situation like this, nor did I have it on my bucket list of future things to do. But, it’s here, and I have to face it.

I was desperate for some quick guidance on how I needed to proceed, and boy was I given it. Exodus 14 was part of my devotional this morning, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It gives such a great example of people having to face their fears and trust God’s lead. This chapter begins with the Israelites’ newfound deliverance from slavery. They were traveling on a path to a new future of freedom, away from the Egyptians. Something terrifying, however, was going to take place before they reached that freedom.

“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians marching after them.” v. 10

The Israelites saw the massive Egyptian army (600+ chariots, horses, troops) approaching them on all sides. They sat there wide-eyed, and listened to the thundering of horse hooves and the troops’ cries drawing closer and closer. (Wouldn’t this make a great thriller?) Needless to say, the Israelites were terrified and had no idea where to turn. Moses offered the following words of wisdom that we should all remember in our own hard times:

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…” “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” v. 13-14

The Lord then tells Moses to “move on” (v. 15), as in to move forward. God wanted Moses and the Israelites to face their fears, and trust Him to see them through. Afterall, he had just delivered them from slavery. How quickly they forgot how powerful He is. How quickly, we too, forget.

The truths that Moses told them were truths that should have been in their hearts already. How many times have we encountered difficult situations and instantly worried about the outcome? I just did. How many times have we done so right after God proved to be faithful? Guilty again.

The rest of Chapter 14 goes on to describe how God, again, delivered them from their difficult situation; how He, again, knew exactly what He was doing in the situation; and, how He, again, proved that He was for them and not against them. He gave Moses the direct order to move forward, part the sea, and lead the Israelites through to safety. He wanted him to face his fears. Moses never objected, nor did he ask God if He had forgotten to take his medicine that day. No, Moses “moved on”, completely trusting that God would deliver them; and, He did. The Israelites crossed through safely, and the Egyptians were washed completely away. Freedom was now secured.

The next time we are faced with situations that frighten us, may we view them as opportunities to grow closer to God. May our first reactions be to stand firm, face our fears head on, and know that God is in control. He will deliver us. We must move on.

Scandal.

20 Dec

I had to do a lot of praying and searching of my heart before I could write this post. I wanted to avoid writing something motivated by my emotions, ensuring that I deliver something that has been prayed about, thought about, and prayed about some more.

In light of the new Phil Robertson “scandal” saturating, well, everything, I wanted to highlight something that many of us (including myself) often forget: We really shouldn’t be offended or surprised that this occurred.

I would be lying if I said I was happy, happy, happy when I first learned about this. I wasn’t. I joined the “Stand With Phil” FB page and took to Twitter to make the world aware of how upset I was. Because, I didn’t immediately take my concerns to God, I was ultimately stricken with frustration over my reactions. I allowed my emotions to navigate my actions.

Don’t get me wrong, I do stand with Phil, but this post isn’t about that. It’s about the perspective I have yet to see many people talking about. The real target isn’t Mr. Robertson; it’s Jesus.

“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 1 Peter 3:14


“For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:17-18

Peter knew that suffering would accompany those who took a stand for Jesus Christ, and he knew that we were not likely to respond positively. This is why I believe he wrote in such an encouraging manner. He could’ve said: “Suffering for Being a Christian is totally not worth it. Renounce your faith and move on. Retaliate when those haters start hatin.” But Peter got it. He was like the football coach trying to fire up his losing team. He understood how great the reward is if we would persevere and stand firm in our faith. Jesus, Himself, even warned of this:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

Christ was persecuted for the EXACT same reasons. He represented God in the flesh, taking a stand for His truth. People disagreed with His beliefs. Their solution: persecution of all forms. However, He never denounced His faith or beliefs, all the while knowing He would be persecuted. He continued delivering the Truth in love. He did not discriminate. He did not spread hate. We need to use His example of how to respond in situations like these.

Prayer: When we face the firing squads in our own lives, let us not become discouraged. May we use the persecution to fuel our desire to love more, and may we remember to seek God before we react in any way. He’s been there. He knows our emotions. Let Him take control.

Mary, did you know?

11 Dec

I wanted to re-focus my attention this Christmas to what this holiday time is truly about. I have to admit that I get completely caught up in the traditions: parties, presents, decorations, movies, etc. I mean, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without these things right? I’m not so sure. I’m finding that Christmas would still be Christmas, because our Savior doesn’t depend on these things to still exist. This is what I’m re-learning this year.

Now, I must add that I will still be filling this season up with the aforementioned exciting things. However, I want them to be the sprinkles on the Christmas cookies, not the whole cookie. I am starting this venture by re-reading the Christmas story, and the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. Every year prior, I have depended on a pastor to deliver the message, rather than studying it myself, and boy was I missing out!

I plan to write a few posts following my studies, in hopes that you will also re-adjust your Christmas lense.

TEXT: Luke 1: 26-38

While reading this passage I couldn’t help but think of Mary’s emotional state when she was first told that she would miraculously conceive the Savior of the world. Uhhhh, say what? Here, we have a girl waiting to marry her Prince Charming, remaining pure, eagerly awaiting their union. Then, God interjects and turns her plans upside down. Hmmm, seems like I have something in common with Mary.

The Bible doesn’t give us the inside scoop to what she was thinking when she was first given the news, but mine certainly would’ve been along the lines of:

Great, God, just great. Here I am about to have a secure life, with a man willing to marry me, and You just messed it all up!

I would’ve been devastated; revealed as an adulturer. That just shows how weak my faith is compared to Mary’s. Take a look at her repsonse: I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.  What faith! What courage! In an instant her life had changed completely; seemingly for the worst. Security seemed impossible; her fate, unknown. Yet, she accepted what was to come, because she trusted God completely. And she would soon find out that God’s plans for her were much greater than the ones she had for herself.

APPLICATION: We can adopt Mary’s attitude when our own lives seem to be turned upside down, and when our plans don’t go accordingly. Rather than immediately responding with fear and anger, we should learn to react with acceptance and courage. Will we run away and refuse God’s great plans? Or will we stand firm, like Mary, and hold on to the truth that God is for us, and not against us

PRAYER: My prayer for each one of us this Christmas season, and beyond, is that we would begin to trust God completely. Whether we find ourselves struggling to put presents under the tree or dreading the in-laws coming to town, place your trust in the God who is for you. He has the power to turn your difficulties into treasures.

Merry Christmas. 

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