God Is Amazing!

My spirit is rejoicing. My heart is full. My body has finally got some much needed rest today. My mind however, is still on vacation and that’s not good ‘cause I have an assignment due this Saturday. I had been at church every day from last Sunday to this past Friday for our annual women’s conference. That 50 mile round-trip journey was a doozy, but it was well worth it:

A few weeks ago I was at an event at my church encouraging women to register for our women’s conference and I ran into a woman who said she wanted to go, but didn’t have the money to go. I told her that I was believing God with and for her and that He would make a way. About an hour later, one of the minister’s rolled up on me and the other two volunteers and asked us to help with line control because the First Lady/ Executive Director of the organization was donating tickets to ALL the women who showed up for that event. When I saw my buddy standing in line to get her ticket she had the biggest smile on her face and I smiled back like, “See what God can do when you focus on Christ and not on your circumstances?!”

Around Friday afternoon, I encouraged a staff member to not give up on their dreams in spite of what other people have said. Who would’ve thought that that would basically be the sermon to close out the conference?! What an amazing God we serve! Later that evening, women were rushing out the sanctuary doors to get them some more hair products that the owner and co-founder donated to the conference. After we gave all of the hair products away I decided to stay a little longer and break down the boxes. Another volunteer rolled up on me and told me that I didn’t have to do that, but I kept on breaking down the boxes anyway. When I was about 5 boxes away from being finished that same staff member rolled up and saw me and was so grateful for the act of kindness and they shared with me that that small gesture was the encouragement they needed. Fast forward to Sunday and Pastor’s sermon title: The Power of Encouragement. I just smiled again as I thought about my buddy on Friday night. What an awesome God we serve!!

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God Is Amazing! Pt. 2

As I was typing that last post the Lord showed me that encouragement isn’t just with words, it’s also with actions. You can verbally encourage someone and that’s great, because words have power. However, you can also support your verbal encouragement through financial seeds, acts of kindness, showing up to their events, spending time with them, etc.

My heart is also full because the Lord is faithful. The staff member that I showed kindness to, gave me a hookup and I ended up blessing some other people because of it. Just in case you didn’t know, it’s very foolish to turn your nose on the help or the people you “think” are on the bottom of the ladder. It’s foolish for two reasons: 1. They’re called the help for a reason. Duh. 2. Perception is key. All God has to do is turn that ladder 180 degrees and what do you know, look who’s on top of the ladder now??? Perception is key.

The last two years I’ve been trying to show the Lord that I’m serious about my paying my credit card debt off. Owing someone money isn’t cute. Owing someone money whom you’ve never met is just all kinds of bad. In 2014, I switched phone carriers and my phone bill has been a steady $40/month. At the end of 2015, I was really close to achieving my target payoff amount. This year, I decided to be more aggressive and increase my monthly payment. As I was trying to figure everything out, the Lord told me that I didn’t have to worry about paying for the conference registration. In His words, “Don’t worry about it. I got you.” That following Sunday a sweet young woman at church handed me a flyer inviting me to an all-female panelist forum. Although, I really enjoyed her personal invitation, I was not interested in going. I told the Lord, “I already know what you’re thinking and the answer is no. I’m not going. Lord, we’ve already talked about this. You know how I feel. I’m not going.” The Lord’s response, “I want you to go.” We went back and forth about this event all the way up to the week of the forum. What changed my mind was our organization wanted to promote our conference at their event and only one or two of our volunteers signed up. So I decided to put on my batman cape hop in the bat mobile and head to church. I told the Lord, that I would go to the forum for Him. I had no idea that my blessing was tied to my obedience. I had no idea when I surrendered my will to Him and registered for the forum the day of that I would be getting my registration wrist band for the conference. God works in mysterious ways, but He also works in surrendering ways—when you surrender your will to Him.

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Your Presence Is My Secret Hiding Place

Your Presence Is My Secret Hiding Place

In Your Presence…
I’m given instructions on how to enjoy Your Presence
I’m given instructions on how to make the most of the time we spend together (that way neither of us feel like our time was wasted)
I appreciate and see the blessing of being in Your Presence

In Your Presence…
I’m encouraged by the fact that You understand me completely
I’m encouraged by the fact that You give me all I need for the day’s events
I’m encouraged by the fact that You go before me every day
There’s no doubt that Your very Presence is encouraging

In Your Presence…
You teach me by your very lips (Your own words)
You teach me how to love
You teach me about You
Your teaching is helping me become more like You

In Your Presence…
I’m comforted by Your written word
I’m comforted through Your instructions
I’m comforted through Your encouragement
Your Presence has taught me that You Are My Comforter

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Time to Destroy the Idols

“Then if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek Me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NCV

Dear Christians,
We have a god problem. We, like the Philistines in 1 Samuel 5 have too many gods. After the Philistines defeated the Israelites they captured the Ark of God and brought it into their god Dagon’s temple. Even after Dagon lost the battle against God, the Philistines still refused to worship the Lord. Since the Lord and their god Dagon couldn’t get along, the Philistines chose to get rid of the Ark of God. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus confirms our inability to serve and worship two masters. In other words, we can’t have:

God and money.
God and acceptance/approval.
God and career.
God and family.
God and friends.
God and government.
God and food.
God and sex.
God and social media.
God and exercise.
God and astrology.
God and possessions.
God and fear.
God and hurtful situations/people.
God and “me” (actions, words, and thoughts are all self-centered).

Just in case you need the definition of an idol:

1. Taking our needs, cares, or concerns to something or someone instead of God.
For example, if we are worried about our future, we look to the stars instead of looking at the Creator of the stars. We indulge in food and sex for comfort instead of seeking out the Comforter. God is our everything. He can and desires to meet all of our needs (even needs we think are small or unimportant).

2. Worshipping something or someone other than God.
If we were to compare the time and money we spend on a weekly basis on our possessions, it would be greater than the time and money we give to God. This is a form of worship. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Worship comes from the heart. We may not bow down and pray to Twitter and our tricked out Ford Fusion, but the amount of time and money we spend on them reveals that these things have our heart. However, that’s exactly what God wants— our hearts. Need proof? In Matthew 22:34-40 an expert of the Law of Moses asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment and Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”

We need to realize…

1. That God is God alone and He will not compete for our time and our hearts. The Lord has always given us that choice to worship Him, someone or something else. Why? Think about it. Would you rather have someone love you out of freedom or out of fear? I thought you might choose freedom. That’s the way the Lord feels; He’d rather we worship and love Him out of freedom.

2. That worshipping idols is why the Israelites in the Old Testament got in trouble. We don’t need to follow their example.

3. That none of these gods can compete with God. While these things can bring us happiness and pleasure they can’t give us true joy. They can’t love us or comfort us the way He can. The government, our friends, and family aren’t wiser than God; and they won’t be there for us like He will.

Therefore, we need to…

1. Get rid of our idols. They are separating us from God. When there’s separation you can bet there is miscommunication. Does this statement sound familiar to you? “Man! I feel like I can’t get a prayer through!” Well, guess what? God is saying the same thing to us, “Man! I can’t get a command, a solution to their problem, or a word of encouragement through!” Furthermore, we need to get rid of our idols because living in this dark world, the last thing we need is to be separated from the Light of the World. He brings hope, love, joy, and peace—all the things we’re searching for and trying to find in our idols. So how do we get rid of our idols? God answers in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (Side note: If you keep reading all the way to the end of this chapter you’ll notice one of the ways Israel got caught up in doing evil):

1a. Repent: This is the first step. In this verse God says that we need to “humble” ourselves, which in one way means to repent. We have forsaken God for gods. Repentance is more than just feeling sorry; it’s also about changing our beliefs and our thoughts so we can change our behavior. Repentance is the first step because it’s in this step that we admit that we need Christ and that we choose to obey Him.

1b. Pray: Consider prayer as your AA Meetings or your Spiritual Counseling Sessions. Prayer is honest and intimate conversations with God. You want to be honest with the Lord about your fears, your needs, your desires, and your problems. God wants to reveal the roots of your fears, be the Source of your needs, share with you His desires for your life, and show you the solutions to your problems.

1c. Seek God: This is where the hard work begins (that’s why it’s the last step). To “seek” the Lord in Hebrew means to inquire, consult, or to ask God. We’re asking God for a few things:

* To answer the question, “Why am I chasing after idols instead of You?”
* To help us remove the idols. (This goes back to the repentance step where we admit that we need Him.)

2. Get back to our first love— God. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in love, but I have. I can tell you that when I was in love I always wanted to be around them. I was checking my phone every five minutes to see if they had called or sent a text. I was constantly on the computer not focusing on completing my schoolwork, but trying to see if they wanted to talk online. I just wanted to be in their presence. Not only that, I knew the things that my love liked and I would spend my money getting those books, CD’s, candy, etc. Most of the time I got those things because I wanted to see them smile. I also knew the things they didn’t like and I would do my best to avoid hurting them. God wants us to treat Him that same way. He wants our mind, our heart, and our soul. And you know what? For all God has done for us and continues to do for us, He’s not asking us for much.

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Back to the Basics

Prayer

Communication is important in every relationship. I like how http://www.dictionary.com defines communication. The website says that communication is the “imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs. For me, that’s what prayer is—communicating with God. God sharing His plans/desires for my life, His wisdom and His understanding, and I’m sharing my fears, pain, questions, concerns, and worries. I used to feel that outside of salvation God didn’t care much for my life on earth (but of course I was wrong). I also didn’t think He was much of a talker (and of course I was wrong about that too). Here’s something I am right about though, God does talk and He wants to talk to you and here’s proof:

– God talked to Adam before and after he sinned
– God put His Son on the cross not just so the two of you can have a relationship in the spirit realm, but have a relationship in the physical realm as well.

In Matt 6:9-13 Jesus teaches the multitude how to pray what we call The Model Prayer. Many consider The Model Prayer the best guideline when it comes to prayer because it covers the basic reasons we go to God:

– We need help
– Others need help
– Acknowledge God’s rule, authority, and identity
– Acknowledge our sins

Worship

For God, everyday is Valentine’s Day. Every day He shows how much He loves us and is devoted to us. He gives all of us 24 hours. However, at some point during that 24 hours we need to show God how much we love Him. How? Through our time, talent, and treasure. In my opinion, there’s no better way to show God how much we love Him by using the very things that He gives us and giving it back to Him.

– Are we spending a few moments of our time with Him?
– Are we using our time to help and build up others?
– Are we also saving some time for ourselves?
– Are we using the talents, skills, and gifts He gave us?
– Are we honoring Him with those talents?
– And what about our finances (our treasure)?
– Are we trying to live within our means?
– Are we hoarding our money or are we freely and cheerfully giving to others who are in need?
– Are we giving a portion of our income back to God not only to support the ministries and missions placed all over this world, but to show God our appreciation and the fact that we acknowledge Him as the Source and not the resource?

Study

Many times we fail God’s tests because we fail to study God’s Word—The Holy Bible. We believe we can get by with cliff notes (Sunday sermons, quickie prayers, cute spiritual phrases). Truth is we miss a lot of God’s promises, His solutions, His instructions, His knowledge/wisdom, and His desires/plans for our lives. Most importantly, we also miss knowledge about Him. His Word provides the answers to the tests He gives us.

– Has everyone turned their back on you? God didn’t. He promised not to leave us or forget us.
Answer: Deuteronomy 31:8

– Are you hungry? Thirsty? He tells you to eat, and not just eat a little bit. He says to eat it all.
Answer: Deuteronomy 8:3

– Don’t know where you’re going or how to get there? No problem. He says He will show you.
Answer: Isaiah 30:21

– Need to know the truth or get some advice about what you went through or what you’re going through? Ask Him for wisdom.
Answer: Proverbs 2:6

– Not sure why He created you or what His plans are for you? He tells you.
Answer: Jeremiah 29:11-13

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Run the Race and Never Give Up- Hebrews 12:1-3 NCV

Heb 12_1-3

“We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne. Think about Jesus’ example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and stop trying.”

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Posted in Acceptance, Identity, Purpose, Scripture of the Week, Security

“Sweet Victory”- Trip Lee

They like I here you talkin’ wins but I see your losses/
You celebratin’ crowns but I see your crosses/
That’s the paradox that don’t fit in your merry box/
You might not understand if you walk in this pair of socks/
The victor ain’t the one that’s winnin’ seventh inning/
Trophies don’t go to ones that got a good beginning/
When I say I win/ I don’t mean the state I’m in/
I mean that day when the gray skies fade out then/
I’m winning cause I reign with Him.

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