REVIVAL

Life happened…and continues to happen.  I always thought when I truly surrendered my life to Christ that Jesus would always be #1 in my life.  I wouldn’t allow life to get in the way and detour me from my calling until Satan started to use the very blessings that God gave me over this last year to bring Jesus down to #2. 

This last 2 years have been the best years of my life.  I met my now husband on Eharmony and quickly fell in love.  After waiting for several years for the right man to come along, God blessed me with my husband today.  Since then, we have married and are soon expecting our first child.  We have also found our dream home and moved.  It’s been a whirlwind of blessings from God and I couldn’t be happier, or could I be?

Over the last couple of months I have slowly started to feel an emptiness inside me; a void that I haven’t felt in quite some time and I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, until today.  At first I thought it was just me being sick from my first trimester of pregnancy, but it wasn’t.  I have been so consumed with being happy and so full of joy that I forgot to have a real relationship with Christ.  Relationships take effort and I was not putting in my effort at all.  I got wrapped up in trying to be a good wife, working full-time and continuing my relationships outside my marriage all while forgetting the one thing that I needed to have 1st on my list.  I still praised and thanked God for every blessing, went to church, and even went to bible study, but I was just going through the motions because my real priority and desire in my life was my husband and maintaining a household.  Well at least trying to maintain a household, still working on that one…

It was easy maintaining God as my #1 priority when I was single, but it was much harder when I got married and tried to find that balance.  Life happened to me in the best way possible, and I let my relationship with Jesus fall through the cracks.  For the first time in a long time I sat down and did my devotionals and dove into the word.  There is where I found my heart to be filled to the top erasing the feeling of emptiness that I was starting to have.  It goes to show that you can have everything you want in this life and can still be empty when you don’t have Jesus.

As I sit here writing this my heart is genuine with praise and thanks to Jesus for continuing to be there even when I said thank you for the blessings and then left Him behind.  So as I start to ask myself and Jesus what he wants to call me to next, I hear Him whispering in my ear a verse that I have always loved. 

Be Still and know that I am God. – Psalms 46:10

It’s time for me to get back on my schedule of making Jesus # 1, spending time in the word daily, and praying fervently.  It’s time for me to do a 180 degree turn towards Christ and ask him to REVIVE my heart.  It’s time for a revival and I can’t wait for God to lead me and you in the right direction.

How are you doing today?  It’s the beginning of 2017 and everyone has their goals that they are trying to reach.  Are you trying to fill the void with things of this world, or are you trying to fill it with Jesus?  It’s not just time for a revival in my heart, but a REVIVAL in everyone’s hearts.  Let’s pray for God to return a burning desire in our hearts to follow Him and for our relationship with Him to grow deeper.  My word for 2017 is REVIVAL.  What is yours?

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? – Psalm 85:6

Courtney Kacer

Courtney.Kacer@women180.org

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO FORGIVE

Why is it so hard to forgive?

I have been asking myself this question lately.  Why is it so hard to forgive people whether it is big or small?  If Jesus calls us to always forgive, why don’t we have the heart that makes it simple and easy?  It comes down to a couple of different revelations that I have had over the last few days.

1)      We are selfish people through and through.  We live with a sinful heart that just can’t completely understand the magnitude of what forgiveness does.  We forget that we want and need forgiveness on a daily basis, yet why should we extend that hand of grace to others?  We feel entitled to get what we are owed.  We should get an apology or what is due to us because we deserve it.  There are so many times where I have been stubborn in my forgiveness because I felt that I was owed something all while forgetting what Christ did for me.

2)      We feel that by forgiving someone by definition means we need to be friends or reconnect some sort of relationship with them.  This is more understandable with the major hurts in our lives.  Maybe you were abused at some point in your life, or an unspeakable thing has been done to you.  Maybe your spouse or significant other cheated on you during your relationship.  Whatever it may be it is extremely hard to forgive someone that has done some major damage to your heart and soul.  The truth of the matter is though that forgiving someone does not necessarily mean reconciling with them. This is a long process that happens through time.  We can forgive someone but still decide that a relationship with that person is not possible, or we can put boundaries up. 

3)      We forget the ultimate act of forgiveness that was given to us personally.  In the back of my mind I know that Christ died for me and what a sacrifice that was, but when I am in the midst of being angry with someone I forget really what type of sacrifice it was.  I truly believe that if we could humanly grasp the full concept of the sacrifice that Christ made for us, and we could keep that at the forefront of our mind, then we would be able to have a heart that forgives a little more easily.

4)      We think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person we are forgiving.  My very imperfect mind will always say at first, why should that person deserve my forgiveness when they can’t apologize?  My big a-ha moment was when I realized that the act of me forgiving someone was not to give them a gift or to bless them, it is was an actual gift and blessing to myself.  Caring around a torch of anger, frustration, or disappoint for someone lays a burden on your shoulders that takes a toll on you.  God doesn’t want you to carry that burden.  He wants you to be free from the shackles hate and rage.  God always wants us to glorify Him by the act of forgiveness.

There are so many things that we do that need forgiveness.  I couldn’t imagine having to try and forgive someone who abused me, or cheated on me.  I know that there are so many of you out there that struggle with not understanding the pure evil that may have been done to you.  You struggle with the anger and the questions of why me?  And now you get angry with the very fact that God is calling you to forgive that person when we all know very well that they don’t deserve it.  I can’t stand here and try and understand that level of forgiveness, but I do know that God is a loving God and He wants us to heal through living a life that remains in Him.  Forgiving someone is not a gift that we are to give to that other person.  It becomes a blessing from God to us when we give the anger and hurt to Him to carry leaving us to be able to live a life that is filled with His love and joy.

We here at Women180 are praying for you right now.  Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we are called to do, but nonetheless called to do by God.  It is a continuous struggle that never gets easier.  We pray that you lean on God for wisdom and guidance and for Him to show you the way.

Matthew 18:21-22 says Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?  Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Courtney Kacer

Forgive(ness)

Forgive(ness)

Can I just be totally honest with you here?  I have written and re-written this blog probably 3 times. I even had a complete draft done that just needed to be spell checked and proofed and when I came back to my computer, it was gone.   At this point I questioned whether or not I should even attempt this subject.  Then our very own Courtney Kacer reminded me that this was surely Satan trying to stop me.  So here I am, writing this again, praying for some peace with this draft and hopefully finalizing something that can be posted. 

Lord, I pray for Your guidance in this series that I cannot shake to write.  I pray for Your wisdom and peace as You lead me in this writing.  Amen.

Forgive(ness).  Is this hard for anyone else besides me?  When I first became a Christian I put this on the backburner for quite some time. 

The Webster Dictionary simply defines this as

“to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) ; to stop blaming (someone) ; to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong) ; to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed).”

Sounds simple enough right? 

Shortly after I truly started following Christ my church had a women’s treat. I had no idea what I was walking into, but was excited to have a “mini vacation”.  I expected some bible reading, speakers who would speak about God, and maybe even meet some other women who were in the same set of mind as me.  I had no idea that God would reveal himself to me in a way that changed my life forever. 

I had an opportunity to speak with one of the speakers.  Her name was Sue.  I had never met her, but she had been going to our church for a long time and was highly respected. When she came to my table and asked if she could sit with me I immediately got nervous.  I couldn’t understand why this women – who had just spoke to all these women – wanted to sit with me.  I know now that God totally ordained that whole situation.  She immediately asked me if I understood what it meant to forgive others.  I was taken aback for sure.  Who was this lady?  And how dare she ask such a personal question? My quick response to her was “yes – of course”, hoping she’d go away and I could continue my mini vacation.  Seeing that my bible was on the table she asked me to look up Matthew 6:14-15 and read it out loud. 

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Matthew 6:14-15

As we picked apart this verse I asked so many questions.  The more she answered, the more questions I had.  The more I understood one thing the more I got convicted about another.  We sat at that table for almost 3 hours – talking, crying, and laughing. It was at this table I truly understood what it meant to forgive and to be forgiven. My take away from this conversation was who had I not forgiven that would prevent me from being forgiven?  Thus began this journey I was on for some time.  It has been almost 10 years since this retreat and to be honest, I’m still on this journey of forgive(ness). 

I found out later, because Sue and I became very close friends, that God nudged her big time to speak to me all weekend.  She said she fought it because after she spoke she was exhausted and truly wanted to rest, but God wouldn’t let it go.  I’m thankful she was obedient and came to sit with me. 

So here I am – about to share a piece of myself about forgiving others and being forgiven.  I pray you join me as we venture into why this is so important to God and why it should be so important to us.

I leave you with this last thought before I sign off this week. 

“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves.  Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.” – Letters of C.S. Lewis (19 April 1951), p. 230

Until next time my friends, Be Blessed – INDEED!!

Debbie L. Wayns

Arm Yourself: Equipping Ourselves with the Armor of God

My dear sweet sister in Christ, Michelle Moore wrote a book to help equip ourselves with the Armor of God.  Once I opened the book I couldn’t put it down.  Michelle takes experiences in her life and intertwines it with the lessons we need to learn to fully equip ourselves for battle.  The battle of spiritual warfare.  Some of you may know exactly what I am talking about, and some of you may experience this every day but not know exactly what to call it.

Spiritual warfare is so prevalent in today’s society.  As the world spirals downward into pure darkness, the bright shining lights that have a heart for God become the ones for Satan to bring down.  Satan attacks us left and right, trying to throw us off our game, trying to destroy the good we are trying to do for God’s kingdom.  We need to arm ourselves with the best armor we can so that we may continue to live a life that glorifies God.

Michelle goes on to talk about the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation, the shoes of peace, the breastplate of Righteousness, the sword of the Spirit, the robe of love, and the power of prayer.  One of her most important pieces of truth is learning who we are in Christ.  We can’t apply these pieces of armor unless we know that we have the authority to use them. 

Michelle states, “No one can take any of our pieces of armor without our permission first.  So let’s resolve from this day forward that no one will take from us our true identity, which is found in Christ.”

The best part of reading this book was reminding myself that as a child of God, I have power in the name of Jesus.  I think we often forget that.  We get so busy in our day to day lives that when a slew of things go wrong, we chop it up to just having a bad day.  We need to be in close fellowship with Christ everyday so that we can draw near to Him and live on His strength.  This book reminded me of the different pieces of armor we can put on.

Arm yourself is a great reminder for women like me who have been a Christian for a while, but it is extremely valuable to readers who may have just accepted Christ into their lives, or maybe you are seeking the truth of Christ and haven’t quite committed yet.  There is a war going on for our souls, and the longer we stay in the dark to who we really are, the easier it is going to be for Satan to win.

Satan can’t keep knocking us down if we know how to put our armor on.  I highly recommend this book and hope that when you are looking for your next book to read, you think of Arm Yourself:  Equipping Ourselves with the Armor of God by Michelle Moore.

Please check out Michelle’s website.  The book is available on Amazon.  Click the links below.

http://www.michellemoore.org/

http://www.amazon.com/Arm-Yourself-Equipping-Ourselves-Armor/dp/1490848878

 

About the Author:

“Wife. Mother. Blogger. Author. Worship Leader. Bible study leader. These are just a few of the many hats I put on every day. If you were to take a closer look you would see hats I put on that I have had to hand over to God through the years…Depressed, insecure, hopeless, anxious, fearful, angry, heartbroken, wounded, ashamed.

Praise God He is a miracle maker, prince of peace, counselor, redeemer, healer, and He fought for me! Now I can say with confidence I am restored, set free, victorious, loved, chosen, set apart, a true daughter of the king!

God has inspired me to inspire you. I want every woman to know there is freedom and healing in the awesome power of Jesus! My book, Arm Yourself, starts off with my personal testimony and the struggle I’ve had with depression and anxiety. I go on to explore how the study of the armor of God saved my life and in each chapter I explore what each piece of armor is, how to use it and what it protects. I want women to not just learn to cope, but to learn how to arm yourself!

Not So Different

    I sit here reflecting what our world has become and is becoming.  It is headed on a very dark path that just keeps getting darker.  The terrorism that has hit different countries over the last few decades increases and we wonder why?  What is going on where people think they are justified in taking innocent lives in the name of the their beliefs?  I can’t imagine that our world has come to that, but can I?  As I sit thinking about Easter Sunday coming up it dawns on me that the justification of taking innocent lives has been around for thousands of years which brings us to the death of Jesus Christ.

    Jesus was born for one purpose, to die on the cross for all of our sins.  He lived a life full of every temptation imaginable so that he could relate to us, yet still living a perfect life.  Jesus did nothing wrong, but in the eyes of the religious leaders of the Jews, Jesus was a criminal.  They were set in their ways and their laws and had no room for a Savior to come to save the world.  With Jesus claiming He was the Son of God, the Jews were charging Him with blasphemy.  He threatened their positions as high priests and the jewish law which in turn led them to take Jesus out of the picture.  Jesus was innocent, yet the leaders sentenced Him to death.  In fear of the reaction of the religious leaders, the other people said nothing when the Romans questioned them.

    Jesus was tortured beyond recognition and crucified on the cross.  Nails were driven into his wrists and ankle bones to hold Him on the cross.  So much innocent blood was spilled.  Just as in Jesus day, innocent blood is spilled today.  Most recently, the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.  My heart breaks with seeing the connection of behavior more than two thousand years a part.  People justifying the deaths of others to uphold their beliefs.  So what are we to do?  We pray…

    We pray for the victims and their families that God comforts them through these dark times.  We pray that God reaches the hearts of the people who don’t know Him.  We pray for the terror to subside from these senseless acts of evil and is replaced by the strength of our Lord knowing that one day there will be judgement.  We pray for peace to fulfill our souls once again.  And as Jesus said with His last dying breath, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,”  we pray for the terrorists themselves that God drastically changes their hearts in the hope that they may one day know the one true God. 

    We may never understand why these acts of terrorism happen, but just as God used Jesus’ death to save the world, we trust and hope that God will somehow use these acts of terrorism in a way that could help others.  We have no idea what that looks like, but if we grasp onto hope rather than grasping onto fear we can move forward in healing.

But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. - Psalm 9:18

We wait in the hope of the Lord; he is our help and our shield. - Psalm 33:20

Courtney Smith

www.women180.org

Courtney.Smith@Women180.org

 

 

Falling Trees

                I sometimes feel like a tree that is falling.  The tree is in the direct line of the powerful gusts of wind that blows its way.  The tree stands tall for a while, but as time goes on it starts to lean.  The tree has roots in the ground that are to hold itself up, yet the striking gusts of wind don’t stop.  The roots start to give out and eventually the tree starts to lean heavily.  If the tree does not obtain a support system to keep it upright against the wind, the tree will be lost forever.  Sound familiar?

                We can sometimes feel like we are getting hit left and right with trials and tribulations.  They are hard, exhausting, time consuming, and emotionally draining.  There are times when we can honestly think there is no way out of the situation.  Doubt starts to rise in our hearts and we start to question the very foundation of our lives. 

                The holidays can be times of joy and laughter, but for some people it could be a struggle.  Loneliness, financial issues, and tension amongst family members can add to a less than desirable state of mind.  Depression sometimes sets in and a choice to retreat to anything to relieve the pain comes to mind.  It may be drinking, overeating, drugs, companionship, or many other things.  Hope seems to be lost, but is it really lost?

                Our natural tendency is to immediately relieve the emotional pain that we feel.  Unfortunately, Satan jumps on these moments of opportunity to tell you that the temporary pleasures of this world will help you to forget.  It will make you feel better.  For a moment…a short moment, you feel ok before the pain starts to show its ugly head again.  The negative emotions start to hit you over and over again just like the wind hitting the tree.  Eventually, you start to fall further into spiritual darkness and you start to lean.

                The answer is to grow your roots in the foundation of Christ.  Our roots in Christ strengthen our foundation and resolve against the enemy.  We always need a support system to keep us upright.  My support system is and needs to be Christ.  The more we stay in the word the stronger we get.  We grow through our trials and tribulations and maintaining our hope. Confidence stands against the wind.  Christ is our only answer.  Christ is our  real hope. 

                If you are in a pit of spiritual darkness I pray that God comforts you and opens your heart to look to Him for the answers and not the things of this world.  God can replace your loneliness and depression with the joy and peace of His very essence.  There is hope even through our toughest times.  We just need to remember that when we accept Christ into our hearts, we are purchasing our support system to keep us upright in the wind.  How exciting is that?!

You will not have to fight this battle.  Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17

Courtney Smith

Women180.org

Find us on Facebook.com/women180 and Twitter: @women180_cs

 

Prayers for Paris

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Many of us are trying to comprehend the events that happened in Paris last Friday night.  Unbelievable violence and evil was stowed upon innocent lives.  Fear and sorrow lay within our souls.  My heart is so truly heavy right now for the victims and the family of the victims.  I just keep whispering Jesus hold them close and tight.  

Tragedy hits us when we are not looking and shakes us to the core.  Satan uses evil to create vulnerability within us.  But as I think about it, when tragedy ensues united we become.  Our faith becomes stronger,  prayer becomes fervent within our lives, and unity binds together nations like never before.  Satan creates chaos, but God creates unity and strength.

As we look to this next week let's pray for the people in Paris and know that God was with His children during this horrendous display of evil.  He is with His children now and will be forever with His children.  Let's hold tight that our God is sovereign.  He weeps for the victims just as we do.  

My prayer is that God will give peace and comfort to every life that this touches, and I pray that miracles of people accepting Christ through this tragedy will be accomplished.  Healing will occur and can occur with hope and love through Jesus Christ.

Paris, we are here for you.  Hear our cries.  Hear our prayers.  Feel our grief for you.  Feel our love for you.  United we stand.  United we pray.  United we love.  United we hope.

"I have told you these things, so that you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

 

Bold Prayers

It was late Thursday night and I was laying wide awake in my hotel room in North Carolina. I was trying to process all of the information that I had received that day at the She Speaks conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries. It was a real blessing for me to be there. However, I was feeling overwhelmed and out of my league. I saw so many women who had a passion to write and speak…and then there was me; an unknown Accountant from Southern California who had, until now, never dreamed of seriously being able to write - but regardless felt I had a story to tell. I did not know or feel it at the time, but would realize later that God had brought me there for a reason.

Here was my dilemma; I was in the middle of writing my book with a deadline fast approaching, and I had serious writer’s block. I had written the hard, emotional part of my story, but then what? That was only half the book. Then it hit me right between the eyes. I had turned it into my project instead of God’s project. Wow!! What a revelation into my prideful heart. In the beginning, I was telling my friends that I was just being obedient to God and I was following His will for me and truly believe that was my heart’s intent. But looking back, I was not very obedient in that I dragged my feet for six months before I decided to jump in and start writing. And in spite of that, everything was going fine. But then gradually, over time, the one thing that I did not want to happen happened. I got in my own way. My heart started to be in it for the purpose of what I was writing, and how I was going to help so many women and daughters know that they are not alone with their struggles. The one thing I kept hearing was “I”. No wonder I had writers block. It wasn’t supposed to be my words pouring onto the paper, it was supposed to be God’s words.

So, in the middle of the night, down on my knees I went and began to pray. I asked for forgiveness from our Heavenly Father and fully surrendered my writing and this book back to Him. You see God wanted me to write this book for His purposes and not my own. His words need to be spoken to these women. So I boldly prayed for God to show me why He wanted me at this conference. What was the main reason He allowed me to come? Lord, download into my heart this next portion of my book so that I may write your message and not my own. Show me what your will is for me and I will follow. Forgive me for my prideful heart.

As I prayed and listened in the quietness of my room, I felt the Lord starting to speak to my heart. He told me there were many reasons why I was there and I will find them out over the next couple of days, but the main reason was for this right here; for me to ask for forgiveness for the state of my heart and to realize that God wants me in ministry and not ME-nistry. He knew I would only realize that surrounded by 800 other women who also felt God’s calling to write and speak.

A big point of this story is to illustrate how God not only gets our attention in a big way! But also how these experiences drive us to our knees in prayer. It is through prayer that we speak to and are guided by our Lord. It is there that he heals our heart, reassures us of his forgiveness and unconditional love, no matter how we screw things up. There are many different aspects to praying, but there are three main goals to help guide us in our prayer life.

1) Prayers require boldness. God wants you to boldly go to Him and ask for that forgiveness or for whatever need you may have. Maybe it is for a loved one who is ill, or maybe it is for a new job or for better finances. Maybe it is something that you think is small and trivial. It doesn’t matter. God wants you to BOLDLY go to Him with the trust and the faith in knowledge that God is a forgiving and loving God full of sovereignty. He wants to talk to you about those small things. He wants that relationship with you. So pray boldly.

2) Pray with specificity. Sometimes we pray in general terms. Be specific with exactly what you are praying for. Sometimes we may not know and that is ok, but sometimes I think we do know, but we are afraid to ask, so we pray in general terms forgetting that God knows our hearts and knows exactly what we need and want. He wants us to be specific in our prayers. It helps us also know when God is answering those specific needs and seeing His hands over matters in our lives. Keeping a log of our prayers also helps us to know when and how he answers.

3) Practice being silent in your prayers. Take the time to listen. We often talk and talk and talk in our prayers and sometimes that is needed. But sometimes we forget to listen with our hearts in how God is trying to respond to us. God loves to lay different things on our hearts as we are praying and it is so amazing when we hear it. Praying is a two way conversation and when we realize that, it opens the door to an even bigger prayer life.

When I followed these three steps in my prayer that night, God answered in my quietness. I felt Him say…now I can use you and oh by the way here is what you need to write about for the next half of your book. I was up almost all that night basking in God’s love and writing down His thoughts for His book. I was overwhelmed by His presence that whole weekend and God and I had such an amazing time together.

How is your prayer life doing? Do you feel close to God through your prayer or do you feel a distance when you pray? Perhaps you are like I have been in prayer. You pray because that is what you are supposed to do, it is more mechanical than spontaneous and quiet. Try relaxing and have interactive conversations with God and in quietness feel His love embrace you. Just remember, prayer time with God is personal time with Him and He loves to spend that time with your open heart and show you how much He loves you.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7 

 

HOPE

 

This last weekend I went on our women’s retreat for my church which was centered on how we can become anchored in Christ.  We talked about Faith, Hope, and Love.  The three components that will continue to keep us anchored.  What a great weekend it was having fellowship with other godly women and building friendships that will last a lifetime.  It is always good to get away for the weekend to refresh ourselves and refocus on the most important factor of our existence, Jesus Christ.

Out of all three sections that we talked about Hope was the one that intrigued me the most.  It is the one that really got to me especially living in this day and age.  I am constantly seeing the negativity in people these days, whether it be social media, or talking face to face.  People do not see the glass half full anymore, they see the glass empty at all times and it is a sad thing to see.  Hope is dwindling faster than we can act upon it, but everyone should know that there is hope.  Hope is in Jesus Christ.

Hope is the confident expectation of joy.  I know what some of you may be thinking.  It is hard to have hope when there is no end in sight to your pain and struggles.  It is hard to see hope when everything in your life seems to be turned upside down, but we have to change our way of thinking.  Hope doesn’t just mean a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  We use the word hope incorrectly.  It really means to look forward to a joy that you know you are going to have and that is eternal life.  So in order to have hope you have to have faith.  Faith in a God that He loves you unconditionally.  Faith in a God that knows you better than yourself and stands next to you in every situation.  Knowing that you have eternal life by having faith in our Lord and Savior is that hope.  The hope to keep moving forward.  The hope that no matter what happens in this life that we are working towards our eternal life where there will be no more tears, pain, and suffering.  That is where my hope lies.  It makes it easier to get through every day and every trial and tribulation that comes our way, because no matter what happens I know through my faith that I have hope, and joy that is with Jesus Christ forever.

This is where I want everyone to be including myself.  If you are a non-believer, just be willing to say to Jesus show me if you are real and you can make good on your promises and He will.  He will show you the unconditional love that He has for you and the joy that it provides as you have faith and hope.  And if you are a believer,  to stop and think about the negativity that you may be allowing in your life and re-aligning it with the promises of God.  We need to stop asking where God is and start seeking Him.

God is always with us, especially when we are going through difficult times, but we need to stop and ask what He is doing by allowing us to go through these different situations.  What is He orchestrating?  I can attest by experience that God will always use a bad situation for good, we may just not see it or understand it at the time, but it is the trust, the faith, and the hope that we have in Christ that we know He is a good God.  I often hear that we grow in our relationship with Christ through our brokenness, and through our trials otherwise we get complacent and we may miss the blessings that God has for us as we go through these different trials.  This is so true.  We grow as we learn how to get through our struggles.

So what does it like to stay anchored in hope?

It means we can forgive as Christ forgave us.

We can have joy even through the tough times because we know what the outcome is going to be.  Eternal life.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – James 1:2-3

We can keep going!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:8-18

 I don’t know where you are at right now.  Maybe you are in a great place and you are full of hope, and maybe you are going through hard times and hope seems so distant, but just remember there is hope in Jesus Christ.  There is hope knowing that as children of God we know that Jesus has already conquered sin and for that very precious gift, we have a reason to live and live to His glory.  We already know the outcome.  We get to have eternal life!!  So no matter what we go through here on earth we have something spectacular to look forward to.  Hope!!  The confident expectation of Joy!
 

Faith

 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for.

Hebrews 11:1-2

Recently, I came across a definition of Faith that was new to me and it weighed heavy on my heart.  It said “Faith is believing in something contrary to what you observe”.  I kept thinking how true that was especially in today’s society.  How often we get mixed up in this world of absolutes…a world where if you can’t see, feel, or touch it…then it’s not that important because you can only deal with what is right in front of you.  I want to share a few examples and my thoughts as to how I try to respond.

We often observe in today’s society that it’s acceptable to have sexual relations with your significant other before marriage.  Better yet…why not move in with them?  How many times have you heard the rationale that it’s a good way to know if you are compatible in bed?  Or…how are you going to know if you can live with them?  

My response…because I have faith that God has blessed us with a gift of intimacy that should only be shared as a married couple in its purity, and that I have faith that God has someone for me that will fulfill all of my needs and bless me with someone special.  If I just have faith and trust in God and wait for His timing, then I know I won’t be disappointed.  The only time we can be disappointed is when we take things into our own hands and try to control the situation because our fleshly desires get in the way.  

We observe in today’s society that success is most often measured with how much money we have and the amount of possessions we can obtain…no matter how much we are in debt.  Or, we find it in the status we have at our work.  It’s all about how others perceive us as to when we reach success, right?

My response…Have faith and trust in God that He will take care of your needs and He will bless you with your desires as long as we continue to seek Him with our whole hearts, soul, and mind.  Success is serving God daily and living to glorify Him.  We are not living our lives for this world, but for eternal life.  That is where our faith is contrary to what we observe.

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands produced this wealth for me.”  But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18

We observe in today’s society that if an injustice is done to us that we have the right to harbor grudges, anger, and revenge.  We automatically want to defend ourselves and lash out, but is that really what God wants?  

My response…Have faith that when Jesus says that we should forgive 77 times, that there is a benefit in that.  There is healing for us when we give that burden over to Christ and take that load of anger and resentment away before our hearts harden. 

I can go on and on, but these three big areas are a good start.  Today’s culture tells us the opposite of what our Faith calls us to do on a daily basis.  When we observe these things, we should have faith in the principals and the direction that God provides for us.  Faith that God will get us through the bad times.  Faith that God will provide us with our needs.  Faith that God will bless us for serving Him daily.  Faith that if we follow the path of Jesus Christ that the benefits that we receive in eternal life far out-weigh the temporary benefits and pleasures we would receive here on earth for following the world.  So let’s not be transformed by the majority of today’s society, but rather stand out and have faith that by following God we are following the right path that will bring us pure, long lasting joy…instead of temporary happiness.

Therefore, I urge you, brother and sisters, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship.  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.

Romans 12:1-2

So as you go about your day, think about your faith and what it means to you and live by that faith and not of the things of this world.  I know I am going to be taking a closer look at my every day decisions and make sure they coincide with living for God.  We are not always perfect in our decisions, but we can sure strive to be more like Christ. Amen?!

 

All the Single Ladies!!

I needed to go to the grocery store for some reason the other day and as I walk in it looks like the store threw up red, white, and pink.  Chocolates, red heart shaped balloons, stuffed animals, and flowers galore.  Not the first thing a single lady wants to be reminded of right?  So I walk in rolling my eyes trying to push that feeling of disappointment that yet again one more year is passing me by without a man for Valentine’s Day.  Yes it is the one day a year where we get reminded over and over again as we see women all around receive their roses and chocolates and hear their romantic plans for this one special night.  You try to act happy as you listen with a smile plastered on your face all while you are just telling yourself, well I will be sitting on the couch in my pajamas with a pint of ice cream in my lap and how sad is that.  You then start to feel down about yourself and asking what is wrong with you because that special someone has not whisked you away.  Have you ever felt that way? I know I have, but over the last few years I have started to change my thinking.

I am about to spin things around and turn our negative thoughts into positive thoughts and show you how special you are to God and how awesome it is to be a single lady and being able to use your single status as a bonus to glorifying God.

1)      When we are single we get to serve God with no other distractions.  When you are dating, married and/or have a family your focus gets pulled to provide and care for your loved ones.  There is nothing wrong with that by any means, but I think it gives us single ladies a chance to be able to serve God without those distractions. We should cherish this time that we get to spend with God and use this time to grow our relationship with Christ.  I don’t know about you, but I love this!

2)      We can turn our once bitter feelings about this day into a day that we express our love for our friends and family and show people that being single is not something that we should look down upon, but as a time where we can be inspired and show the peace and contentment that God provides us as we wait for our godly husband.  Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall states “For a single woman to experience genuine contentment while soloing in a couples’ world, she must avoid the ditches of discontentment. She needs to learn the mystery of contentment and its power over the restless torture of desire.”

3)      We embrace the time God is giving to find out who we are in Christ and make sure that our hearts are being filled with God and not the expectation of a godly husband.  No one can fill that void but God and if we try to fill it with anything of this world we are setting ourselves up for failure.   I don’t know about you, but I so love the person I am now that God is in my life and the woman that I have become and I look forward to learning more about myself as time elapses.  If I don’t know who I am and make sure that God is my priority then how can I be a good wife to anyone else?  I thank God every day for the extra time He is giving me to learn this.

4)      And finally….we also don’t have to worry about answering to anyone but God of course and ourselves.  We get to pick up and do what we want, make our own schedules, sleep in on the weekends, and let the dishes pile up if we want to.  Extra bonus points!!

I could go on and on with different bullet points, but the bottom line is I am content with who I am in Christ and being single.  In fact, I love being single!  Are there some lonely times?  Yes, but I know who to turn to when I start to get those feelings.  So as your friends and family are going about their romantic day with their spouses/boyfriends get inspired by their joy and use it to have a date night with God.  I know I am.  I have my pajamas all laid out, but instead of a pint of ice cream to drown my sorrows away, I am going to have my bible and a pen and paper and have some quiet time and really feel the joy and love this Valentine’s Day from my Heavenly Father.

Where are you today? Do you have some bitterness and discontentment that needs to be worked out or are you happy and content in God’s plan for you to be single at this time?

 

Lady in Waiting

(Jackie Kendall & Debby Jones)

Is not about finding the right man,

But becoming the right woman.

The Lady in Waiting

recklessly abandons herself

to the Lordship of Christ,

diligently uses her single days,

trusts God with unwavering faith,

demonstrates virtue in daily life,

loves God with undistracted devotion,

stands for physical and emotional purity,

lives in security,

responds to life in contentment,

makes choices based on her convictions,

and waits patiently for God to meet her needs.

Discouraged

Have you ever just been so utterly discouraged about where you are and what you are currently doing in life?  I was there last night.  I was just plain exhausted feeling like I was just running around in circles and thinking that everything that I am doing to try and glorify God was not bearing fruit.  I started then questioning all of my decisions that I made when I felt that they were the Lord leading me.  Maybe I was wrong and I wanted to do the things that I wanted and I rationalized that it was God telling me to do it for my own selfish reasons.  Have you ever thought that?  I then started feeling depressed because I am still single, my job is not exactly what I expected, and my ministries are not showing the fruit how I thought it was going to.  I started to feel like Alice in Wonderland falling down a rabbit hole not knowing which way was up.

Can we say self pity party of one please?!

I started to share with my accountability partners at church my feelings.  They basically hit me over a head with a 2x4 and snapped me back into reality.  How quickly satan can use exhaustion and one little thought and turn it into a massive ordeal that starts to put doubt in your mind that separates you from God.  I knew in my head that they were right, but I still had that heavy feeling of burden on my chest.

He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your mind?" - Luke 24:38

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. - James 1:6

I was definitely tossed around by the wind last night, but I knew that I had to just have a conversation with Jesus and figure out what was going on.  I know that overall Jesus is truth and if I wanted to become upright again I would need to talk to Him.

Our lives are built around our FAITH and our FAITH is built upon our TRUST in knowing that Jesus is the son of God and that God has a plan, a righteous plan that in the end will make things right and pure again in eternal life as long as we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

You see the problem I was having was that my pride and ego were getting in the way of God's plan.  I wanted to know that I was helping people grow their relationships with Christ and I wanted a job where I can contribute my abilities to the fullest, and I wanted a godly husband years ago, and I wanted....  The problem was it was all I, I, I the whole time.  Are those still my desires?  Absolutely, but I need to trust and have faith in God knowing that He has a plan and that it will not be in my own timing, or in the way that I thought it would be, but He will use me to the fullest in His way and not my own.  So as I continued to pray and talk with Jesus I felt a peace come over me that everything I thought God was calling me to do, He was indeed calling me to do it.  I just needed to remain still in Him and He will use me for His purpose and His will.  I may never see the fruits of everything God has me do, but that is not the point and it shouldn't be the point.  Our purpose is to plant seeds and trust that God will grow those seeds.  We cannot change and transform people's hearts even as much as we would like to force it upon people.  So I need to stop trying to take control and stop trying to do God's job.

He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." - Psalm 46:10

If you have ever had a day like mine or are going through a day like that now have faith knowing that God has a plan that is so much better than we can imagine for ourselves.  We need to trust in Him and His own timing and not ours.  As long as we continue to be radically obedient and strive to live our lives glorifying God, we will be just fine and God will bless us for it.  So have hope that you may going through a rough time of discouragement now, but there is always something to be thankful for, and that God has always got your back.  You just need to believe and surrender fully to Him.


 

Fearing the Lord

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Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!

Psalm 112:1

My friends and I went skeet shooting today.  I have shot a few different shotguns, but I have never shot the M4 Benelli.  This was the second time it laid against the shot gun rack so enticingly beautiful and intimidating.  I have always wanted to shoot it, but fear would always win.  I finally decided to give it a shot.  As I walked up to the line my heart was beating out of my chest.  What if I looked stupid, or what if the kickback was too much for me to handle?  So many thoughts going through my mind.  Part of me wanted to take the easy way out and go back and exchange the M4 for a shotgun I was used to, but something told me to overcome my fear and push forward.  My hands were sweating and I could have thought that people could hear my heartbeat from the opposite side of the range. I loaded the gun I took up my stance and breathed out slowly.   I yelled pull and pulled the trigger missing the first bright orange skeet shooting out of the center of the trap shoot.  I looked up and although disappointed I missed, excited that I got through the first shot and my fear was gone.  I continued to try over and over again and finally after four shots I hit one.  Pure joy, I did it!!

As I was driving home and thinking over the day's events I felt God convicting me on my obedience to Him and Him asking me the question, why do you not fear me as you should?  I feared the M4, but do I lovingly fear God in the right way? I have to admit that there are certain things that God has been asking me to tweak in my life to be more Christ-like, but I keep brushing Him off because to be honest I just don't want to change those things quite yet.  I do not like change.  I haven't feared Him like I should, and by fear I don't mean that paralyzing fear of wanting to run away in the opposite direction.  I mean the respectable fear where I am afraid of disappointing Him.  The fear that wants me to be obedient to Him, to glorify Him.  

I was reading a prayer that Lysa TerKeurst put up today on her website www.LysaTerkeurst.com about praying for God to unsettle her.  She said this:

"Unearth that remnant of justification. Shake loose that pull toward compromise. Reveal that broken shard of secrecy. Expose that tendency to give up. Unsettle me in the best kind of way. For when I allow Your touch to reach the deepest parts of me — dark and dingy and hidden away too long — suddenly, a fresh wind of life twists and twirls and dances through my soul."

I want that to be my prayer today, tomorrow, and the days after that.  I want the Lord to give me that fear of Him so I long to be obedient to my Lord and Savior.  I want Him to unsettle me so that I strive to live for Him and not of this world.  I know it's going to be a hard road, but I want God to show me the behaviors that are stuck in the deepest parts of me that I need to get rid of.  

Not only do I want to work on the behaviors that I need to change, but I don't want to be intimidated anymore for things that I know God wants me to do.  Things that I feel are so beyond me, that I have no idea how to accomplish.  I want to trust Him to the point where I just answer "Yes Lord" without hesitation.

I hope that you will join me in prayer to live a God fearing life and to live with a bold faith.

Lord,

I ask that you unsettle me Lord.  Please show me the loving fear that you so deserve to have.  I pray that you will give me the strength and wisdom to have a bold faith of no hesitation when it comes to  living according to your will.  Thank you for the love, mercy, and grace that you have given to me.

In Jesus name we pray, Amen.