June 16 Leap of Faith Prayer Call

To hear the recording of last night’s prayer call use the credentials below:
Playback Number: (641) 715-3589
Access Code: 859-866
Reference Number: 3

Below is an excerpt of the devotional I shared during the call.
For our topic tonight, I’d like to reference a hymn that actually predates me.  It came about in 1979 and was — and remains — quite popular.  The hymn is, “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough,” sang by that anointed psalmist, Michael Jackson.
Ok, ok.  I’ll admit that “Don’t stop til you get enough” and Michael Jackson aren’t where most folks would find Christ-inspiration, but his song – specifically the hook of “don’t stop til you get enough” – is in fact reminiscent for me of a basic principle in the kingdom: don’t settle.
So tonight, for a few minutes, I want to encourage you to don’t stop til you get enough. Or in other words, to not settle for less than God’s best in your life.
The word of God says that we are to be in this world but not of it, transformed by a renewing our minds (Romans 12:2). Likewise, it says in Jeremiah 29 that God has a plan for us to give us hope and a future, to prosper us not harm us. And then, in Psa 37:4, we’re told that God will give us the desires of our hearts. He’ll literally tell us what we should want so that His plan for our lives can be achieved.
So, for me, adding all of that up, nothing in that says to simply accept what’s offered to you. To go along to get along. Nothing in those promises says we should have low or no expectations in life.
So why then do we, especially women, continue to accept cookie-cutter lives when we serve a radical God who delights in blessing us and Whom the word declares gives us every good and perfect gift?
Why accept the world’s leftovers when God has prepared a table for you? Why accept anything less than God’s best when, as the daughter of the King, His best is in fact your birthright and inheritance?
 Why accept following someone else’s career path when you deserve – and were created to accomplish – so much more?  Why accept simply living, when you’re called to live life more abundantly?  Why accept simply having your “ends meet” from month to month when your God wants you to live in abundance?
Why?  Because sometimes we tell ourselves we aren’t good enough or we don’t deserve it.  We allow the enemy to tell us that we have to earn our stripes, pay our dues, like everyone else.  But I’m here to tell you that Jesus paid it all with HIS stripes so you and I could inherit the Kingdom and all that God has for us.  You’ve just got to be committed to not stopping until you get enough.  And you’ve gotta be patient until your breakthrough is delivered.
See, when we’re patient, the word tells us in James 1:12, that God will bless us. So if the key to getting God’s best is to be steadfast, patient, in waiting for what God wills, why not wait with expectation for His best instead of settling for what’s quickest or easiest?
See, we’re already told in 2 Cor 1:20 that all of God’s promises are yes in Christ. That means they’re already a done deal, ours to take hold of. If only we’d be patient and not settle. If only we’d make up in our minds to not stop til we get enough.
Don’t stop believing. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop hoping. Don’t stop expecting. Don’t stop planning.  Don’t stop working like it depends on you. Don’t stop praying like it depends on God.  Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop.
You know, there’s an Internet image going around of two cartoon men, both seemThree-feet-from-goldingly digging in the same diamond mine. It appears they’ve been swinging their pickaxes for some time; they appear disheveled, sweaty, and tired.  And they also both appear right at the edge of breaking though to an innumerable amount of diamonds right on the other side of a dirt wall ahead of them. Literally, we see them both only a few swings away.
But one of the men has given up; tired from all the digging and plugging away, he’s turned away from the inches of dirt that stand between him and a financial windfall. He walks away disappointed with his pickaxe over his shoulder, defeated. Above him the other man, who’s been digging just as long and as hard, continues to swing his axe. And that’s the motivation for you tonight.  Because there’s no way he can be sure of WHEN he’ll break through, but he knows he will eventually and he’s committed to swinging until that breakthrough comes.
If you’re feeling like that first man tonight – beat down, defeated, tired, second-guessing whether what you’re chasing will ever really come to pass – I want to say to you tonight you’re one more swing away from your breakthrough. You’re one more swing away from landing that new client or earning that promotion. You’re one swing away from getting that ring or opening the doors on your new business. Your breakthrough is an arm’s length away. And your pickaxe is your faith in God.  Your prayers and your confessions.  You are one more prayer away, one more swing away, from God’s breakthrough for you.
Don’t let this world and the people who are of it talk you out of your blessing because their faith is too small or their fear is too big. You must not settle for anything less than the God’s best that you’re pursuing.
You must not give up or give in. Even if you journey on alone.  Even if they can’t understand your passion or why it’s so important to you.  Even if you are starting to wonder if you’ll ever get it, if it worth it anyway, I say to you tonight…
Whatever you do: don’t stop, til you get enough.
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Labor Day

These are the Scriptures that are on my heart this morning:

Deuteronomy 28:8
“The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

Deuteronomy 28:12a
The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do.

1 Timothy 4:14
Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.

Proverbs 18:16
Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people!

Although I’ve been blessed to be employed for many Labor Day holidays, this one today feels different.

It’s different because today I celebrate Labor Day as someone who went to God with an explicit, detailed and bold prayer request for a new job more than six months ago and today I am in that job. A job that God, quite literally, created for me to fit the criteria of my bold prayer and bold faith.

So where, quite often in the past, Labor Day was an all too brief but welcomed respite from the drudgery of a 9-to-5, today I have a different perspective because I feel like I’m using my God-given talents in a job that glorifies Him; in a way that glorifies Him; and through a vehicle He ordained to bless me.

You know, there’s nothing logical about my professional progression. I majored in journalism in college. Worked in Higher Ed administration and admissions for a couple of years after college (probably because I just wasn’t ready to let my college years go). I earned my Masters in writing and in that time did all kinds of writing for all kinds of outlets. I followed a passion for people and telling stories and desiring justice for everyone to a communications stint at the Salvation Army and then into (my first) public relations as the spokesperson for DC Public Schools. From there, I continued to wonder what I wanted to do when I grew up…right into the office of Congressman Elijah Cummings as his spokeswoman.

Now in all of that time, I made a ton of mistakes. I learned a lot. Made invaluable connections. But more than anything, I prayed non-stop that God would use me and that He’d close any doors I was not meant to go through. Let’s be clear, I did not and do not deserve anything that I have. And I didn’t always “get it right,” but the one thing I never waivered in was my desire for God’s will for me and my belief that He woudn’t take me anywhere that I wasn’t supposed to be.

I’ve quit jobs because I trusted Him that much. I took jobs that I thought were beyond my ability in positions I thought were too good for me because I trusted Him. And now, today, I sit in a job that He made for me to glorify His name and kingdom because it’s where He lead me and because He knows far better than I what I’m capable of and what gifts He’s put in me.

Don’t be fooled: I’m still scared about a some of the requirements of this new job. There are things I must learn and improve upon — and fast — but the thing about trusting and waiting on God is that He won’t promote you before you’re ready because He wants to see you succeed.

See it blesses God to see you succeed using the gifts He’s given you. It’s a testimony to His greatness when we allow him to bless the work of our hands. He has no desire to see, gets no pleasure out of seeing, us drag ourselves into jobs day in and day out just for the check. Why? Because, first, He’s our Source and provider, and second, because He came to give us life and life more abundantly.

…I guess I say all of this morning to say this: take time today to seek God’s face about where you are in your career or profession. Be honest with Him about how you’re feeling about where He has you placed right now, and then get serious about living and working on purpose!

The Scriptures above are all promises of what God will do with our work when we give it to Him for His glory and are obedient in using our gifts. They are promises available to all His children. They are work realities that can be yours!

Use today to reflect on how God’s gifted you and how you can glorify HIm with it.

I’m a living testimony that it won’t always look right or feel right, but if you trust God to lead you and believe in Him, He will use the seeds He’s planted in you for His glory AND your good.

I’m a believer that this Labor Day is about taking a moment to check the work of our hands to ensure that it’s fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives.

God wants more for you than just a J-O-B. And if you want that, too, take some time today to talk to God about it! Ask Him to give you a plan for getting back in His will OR preparing for His promotion and then get ready, get ready, get ready!

God has a plan JUST FOR YOU and a purpose that ONLY YOU CAN FULFILL.

Your living ain’t in vain. Live on purpose and He’ll promote you. No matter what you do, where you’re gifted, or what you’ve got, give it all to God. He’ll bless it and multiply it just like HIs word says!

Video: Keyondra Frederick YouTube

Staying Power

I woke up this morning with the Walter Hawkins classic, “God Will Open Doors”, on repeat in my Spirit.

Check it out (YouTube courtesy of minjcj1961):

 

Man, my home church, the New Canaan Worship Center in Richmond, used to ROCK this!  I remember Mrs. Comer used to sing this and when they got to the end, they’d kick up the tempo a little bit on the chorus and sing it over and over again.  The director, Min. James Paige, would get to kickin’ the back of that piano, pounding the keys, and the Spirit would just be so high.

This song has staying power simply because, just like the Bible, its emphasis, its power, and its TRUTH are unchanging.  Yeah, I think it was recorded in the 80s, but I bet you there’s not a church mother at a Baptist, Pentecostal, Apostolic, Charismatic, or WHATEVER church in the south who doesn’t remember swaying and GOING IN to this!  Somebody call the Deacons and get the Deaconnesses to prepare those prayer cloths because folks WILL be slain on this joint!

But you know another reason why this song has staying power?  Because it’s built on, based on and all about a God who also has staying power.  A God that no matter how bad it looks, how hard it gets, how long you’ve been waiting…a God that no matter what your mother says, your father did, the doctor diagnosed…a God that no matter how high the bill, how tough the challenge, how seemingly invincible the foe, that God – who after more than two thousand years – is not only still here, but STILL has an undefeated record and is STILL in the life changing, way making, miracle creating, heart fixing, mind regulating, path straightening, bill paying, tear drying, devil defeating business!

And what may even be more shout-worthy than that is this truth: that the same power to stand and prevail in the face of ANY and EVERYTHING the devil may throw at you (or that you may get yourself into — let’s be honest) is within us.

No matter what we’re up against, just like the song says, through your darkest days, and even though you can’t see the way, God will open doors for you.

When you’re walking down a path that you’ve been walking down with seemingly no results for so long that you begin to question whether it was God’s leading in the first way and you have no idea now where you’re headed.  Know that, just like the song says, when you can’t see your way, and you feel that you have gone astray, doing all you know to do. God has not forgotten you.  Hold your head up and be true, for God will open doors for you.

In some ways I feel like I’m coming out of a season just like that.  I began praying God-given requests in the beginning of 2013.  Dreams and goals so specific, yet so foreign to me that only God could have given them to me.  Now, as we are more than halfway through the year, God is manifesting in my life those very things I circled in prayer repeatedly over the past several months.  The job I wanted.  The salary I asked for.  The schedule I needed.  The blessings for my children and husband.  They’re all coming to pass now.

I say this not to brag – because surely I deserve NOTHING that God has blessed me with — but to encourage you.  Someone reading this has been circling the same prayer(s), praying for the same thing(s) for days, weeks, months, maybe even years.  When you started your petition for that thing you had no doubt that God orchestrated and ordered it. But now, after so long, and seemingly so little progress, you wonder from time to time, Should I even keep praying this?  Is it worth it? Was it ever God’s will?  Does God hear me?  Has He forgotten about me?  Does He see what I’m going through?  Does He care?  Maybe I should just give up.

I may have shared this with you guys before, but if you find yourself wondering those things, I implore you to read, memorize, meditate on, and recite to yourself and that lying devil the Amplified version of Philippians 4:6:

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

There are two things I need you to get from that scripture.  The first is the definition of “petition”, which is “definite requests”.  We don’t serve an ambiguous, passive, laissez-faire God.  In fact, my pastor, Mark Batterson, wrote in his book “Draw The Circle” that it doesn’t honor God when we come to him with vague prayer requests.  What are you saying to the God of EVERYTHING when you come forth with timid, half-hearted, vague prayers?  You’re saying, I don’t know if you can do it, I don’t know if you’ll do it for me, and I probably shouldn’t even ask anyway, but here goes.

The second thing I need you to get — and this goes back to the foundation of this post about staying power — is that the end of that verse says “CONTINUE TO MAKE YOUR WANTS KNOWN TO GOD.”  We give up on God and ourselves and the dreams He’s given us too, the prayers we’ve prayed, we give up too easily and too soon.  When God’s ordained it – when He’s led you to pray for something, to do something, to ask for something, to believe in something, to trust Him for something – IT.  WILL.  HAPPEN.  Period.  So CONTINUE going back to Him saying, “You told me X, Lord, and I believe you will do it/give it to me/make it happen.”  Tap into your Holy Ghost-fueled staying power.  This glorifies God, grows your faith, and helps you remain focused on what God needs you to see.

NOW, in due diligence, I need to reiterate that you must pursue, passionately desire, thirst for, hunger for, seek after, and cling to what God wants for you in order for this to be a guarantee.  But don’t fret, if you can’t shake that dream, that goal, that feeling that you should be doing x, or helping y, or preparing for z.  And if, after every time you pray for it you come out of your prayer closet reassured and feeling at peace, then 9 times out of 10 it’s God prompting you and it will happen.  And in the 10th case, where maybe you misread the signals, the Word says that as long as we believe that what we’re doing is what God wants, He’ll make that work in our favor, too.

When you can’t see your way, feeling that you’ve gone astray…Hold your head up and be true.  God has not forgotten you.  I know my God will open doors for you…

I apologize to you all for my long absence.  As God began manifesting things in my life — blessings all over that indeed I do not have room to receive! – it was necessary that I focus on Him and me and where He was leading me.  But I’m excited to be back.  Grateful for your time.  And humbled that God loves me enough to use my life to bless someone else.

Remember, you’ve got staying power.  God WILL open doors for you!  And He specializes in those doors no one can see but Him!

 

It’s Turning Around

Being a Christian requires a special kind of vision.

Like a Spidey Sense, only different.

Because being a Christian requires that we see things in the spiritual before we see them in the physical.  I mean, it’s literally the definition of faith (Hebrews 11:1):  the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen.

It requires that we see things through the lens of faith – believing that things are already done before we can see, taste, touch or feel them.

This morning I woke up with VaShawn Mitchell’s song, “Turning Around For Me,” in my spirit and on my mind.

The song goes like this: (courtesy of VaShawn Mitchell YouTube)

As I’ve hummed this song to myself this morning, the lyrics have transformed from a word of encouragement to a promise to a declaration.  It moves you from a place of pleading for relief from whatever your circumstances are to shouting in victory and thanks to God that, yes, it’s turning around.

See, the first time you sing this song you’re encouraged because you’re compelled to look at all of the stuff you’ve got going on in your life, around you, at home, at work, in your head and your heart — all of it — and tell yourself, “Yeah.  It won’t always be like this.  It’ll get better.”

Then, as the words start to ruminate in your mind and your heart, it starts to sound like your own cheering section: “Sooner or later,  It’s turning around.  Sooner or later.”  You’re getting worked up now, and thinking, “Yeah, I may not see it, but it’s turning around.  It may not look like it, but it’s turning around.  It may not feel like it, but He’s working on my behalf.  I may not understand it, but it’ll all work to my good.  I may not know how, but I always win.  Yeah, sooner or later.”

And then, before you know it — or hours later, as is the case for me this morning – you realize that the lyrics aren’t encouraging you to believe — they’re practically shouting the command at you: “Hey, you may not see it but THE I AM is telling you it’s turning around right now.  It’s working in your favor. ” Translation: IT. IS. DONE.

That husband or wife that walked out.

Turning around.

That son or daughter that left.

Turning around.

That bank account that never seems to be enough.

Turning around.

That relationship that failed.

Turning around.

That dead-end job.

Turning around.

Your low self-esteem.

Turning around.

The tears you cry at night, when no one is around.

Turning around.

The emptiness you can’t seem to fill.

Turning around.

The loneliness you battle.

Turning around.

The bills piling up.

Turning around.

It’s turning around.

It’s ALL turning around.

Look, you may not see it.  You may  not understand how you’ll win this.  How you’ll overcome this.  How you’ll bounce back from this. 

But the Word is clear and God cannot lie:

Romans 8:28 NIV

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Tap into your Holy Spirit vision.  Remember the promises God’s told you about who you are, what you can do, what He wants for you.

Remember His promise in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

And then look at your circumstances, your situations, your momentary setbacks through the lens of those promises.

Can you see it now?

Can you feel it now?

It’s turning around for you.

It’s turning around FOR YOU.

Look, I don’t know what brought you here today.

I don’t know what heaviness you’ve carried in your heart and in your mind.

I don’t know your demons or your battles.

But I know that our God is bigger than any demon in hell; any problem on earth; and has already overcome and defeated every thing in this world.

And He’s faithful to bless you and to keep you because He declared that NO WEAPON – no bill, no collector, no person, no relationship, no sin, no mistake or misstep, no past, no NOTHING – shall prosper.

You win.

You’ve won.

All you have to do now is see it to receive it.

I won’t lie to you: this devotional, this entry today, is as much a pep talk for myself as it is intended to be for you.  I’m on the cusp of so many blessings and so much favor and so many new seasons that I felt a little overwhelmed when I first sat down to write this.

But I’m smiling now – exhaling the heavy and inhaling the peace of the Holy Spirit – because I know it’s turning around.

Here are the lyrics to Mr. Mitchell’s song (courtesy of Song Lyrics dot com).  If you can’t remember a single scripture, if you can’t remember a single sermon, let this hymn minister to your Spirit.

RIGHT HERE.  RIGHT NOW.  IT’S ALL TURNING AROUND FOR YOU.

Sometimes discouraged, but not defeated
Cast down, but not destroyed

There are times I don’t understand
But, I believe it’s turning around for me

I’ve had struggles and disappointments
There are times I felt so alone
Some of my friends they let me down
But, I still believe it’s turning around for me

Around for me
Around for me
Around for me
It’s turning around for me

Around for me
Around for me
Around for me
It’s turning around for me

I can see the breaking of day
God is making a way
A change is coming for me
If I stand strong and believe
There’s no reason to doubt
I know He’s working it out
And it’s turning around for me

And it won’t always be like this
He will perfect that concerning me
And sooner or later it will turn in my favor
It’s turning around for me

It won’t always be like this
The Lord will perfect that concerning me
Sooner or later turn in my favor
Sooner or later turn in my faovr
It’s turning around for me

Around for me
Around for me
Around for me
It’s turning around for me

Who’s Fighting?

Ephesians 6:13 says this in the NLT version:

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

Let’s just get something clear that this verse in fact makes crystal clear: you’re going to have to go through.

There.  I said it.  No matter what you’ve been told, the reality is that we’re all going to go through.

We’re going to have storms, tests, trials, disappointments.  We’re going to have seasons of waiting and of hurt, of healing and of preparation.

We’re gonna have a little hell to go through from time-to-time.

And the sad part isn’t that we somehow think otherwise.  No, the real travesty is that we come through looking like we’ve been through hell.

We’re whipped.  Tired.  Beat down.  Tore down.  Broken.  A mess of a person.  We look like we just got in the ring with Tyson and are happy just to have our lives.

That’s a grave misunderstanding of whose we are and who we are called to be.

We were created to be victorious and for our very lives of victory to give glory to the King.

So much so that not only should we NOT be surprised to make it through, but we should expect it and walk out looking like victors.

…instead of the sad sacks that crawl out of the least little storm looking like they’ve been to hell and back.

That scripture, Ephesians 6:13, tells us that all we need to do is prepare and stand.  Period.

Nowhere in that scripture does it say we have to fight or attack or strategize.

Nope.

It says do all you can and then stand.

You see, the reason we come out look like death warmed over is because we’re trying to fight spiritual battles – the Lord’s battles – in our own strength, our own time and our own way.

Instead of preparing – by hiding the Word in our hearts and heads – and then standing still and letting God secure the victory He’s already promised to us with the blood of Jesus (whew!), we try to figure out how to make it work; how to get out of our uncomfortable situation; how to get through this test unchanged, unfazed, and unscathed.

We have to do this.  We must prepare and stand.  So God can fight and be glorified and so we can win.

It’s just like Donald Lawrence’s new song, The Gift, says, “You don’t look like what you’ve been through.”

Why let the enemy think He’s won any ground by allowing him to affect your countenance, your disposition, your joy, when you already know – AND HE KNOWS – that he’s defeated at every turn?

Aside from robbing God of the fullness of his praise and glory, there is another risk to trying to fight your own battles: you end up tired.

Sarah Young says it like this in her devotional, “Jesus Today”:

I will fight for you; you need only to be still. I know how weary you are, My child. You have been struggling just to keep your head above water, and your strength is running low. Now is the time for you to stop striving and let Me fight for you. I know this is not easy for you to do. You feel as if you must keep struggling in order to survive, but I am calling you to rest in Me. I am working on your behalf; so be still, and know that I am God.
Quieting your body is somewhat challenging for you, but stilling your mind may often seem downright impossible. In your striving to feel secure, you have relied too heavily on your own thinking. This struggle to be in control has elevated your mind to a position of autonomy. So you need the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to control your mind more and more – soothing you from the inside out. Take time to rest in the shadow of the Almighty while I fight for you.
Exodus 14:14 – Psalm 46:10 – Romans 8:6 – Psalm 91:1

So what’s it gonna be?  Are you going to keep trying in vain to fight battles you were never meant to fight for a victory you already had?  Or are you going to prepare, stand, and let God secure the victory and get his glory?

You can keep scheming, trying to find ways to get through or get over or get past, but know this: there is no shortcut to who God’s created you to be.  Without every lesson, every test and trial, you cannot become who He needs you to be.

So, stop trying.  Start trusting.  Prepare and stand.

This battle is not yours.  It’s the Lord’s…and all you can do is win.

Inspiration from the Ministry of John Legend

Can I be honest for a moment?

I can be needy.

Not just like “in a relationship” clingy, but Spiritually, when it comes to my Heavenly Father, I can be really needy.

If I don’t check my faith, I can find myself in moments wanting a sign to know He’s there.  I want to hear from Him or feel Him or see Him.

I want something that will say to me, “Yup, I’m still here.”

I’m not like this all the time.  No, I’m grateful for the growing measure of faith God continues to develop in me.

That faith keeps me from panic-stricken fits of worry that somehow the omnipresent Lord is not present with me or aware of me in any given moment.

But, if I’m honest, I find my neediness revs up a notch in my seasons of waiting.

You know what I mean.

It’s after your storm: so you’ve prayed and cried and fasted and prayed to get through.  The Lord has answered those prayers, He’s revealed my next steps, a little bit more of the path He has for me.  And then it feels like all progress comes to a screeching halt.

And there. I. Sit.

Waiting.

In that season of waiting (which is more accurately not waiting but divine preparation) it can feel like God’s checked you off of His Holy to-do list to focus on someone else, some other issue for a time.

But today, I want to remind you and I that God never leaves us.

I know this because, well, He said it in a number of scriptures:

Joshua 1:9 ESV

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Matthew 28:20 ESV

Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Hebrews 13:5 ESV

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Romans 8:38-39 ESV

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now…

If you’re anything like me, sometimes a song really helps to drive home the point.  And, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you know I find divine inspiration in all kinds of things.

So…

If you’re in a season where the enemy is trying to get you to believe that God’s moved on, He’s forgotten about you, and that your “next” is delayed or may never come, hum a few bars from the hymnal of John Legend.  The selection is “Stay With You”:

We’ve been together for a while now we’re growing stronger everyday now

It feels so good and there is no doubt I will stay with you

As each morning brings sunrise and the flowers bloom in springtime

On my lovin’ you can rely and I’ll stay with you

Oh I’ll stay with you through the ups and the downs

Oh I’ll stay with you when no one else is around

When the dark clouds arrive I will stay by your side

I know we’ll be alright

I will stay with you

Though relationships can get old and have a tendency to grow cold

We have something like miracle yeah, and I’ll stay with you

Oh I’ll stay with you through the ups and the downs

Yes I’ll stay with you when no one else is around

When the dark clouds arrive I will stay by your side

I know we’ll be alright

I will stay with you

There will be heartaches and pains

Yes it will but through it all, we will remain, hey

In this life, we all know friends may come, and they may go

Through the years I know I will stay

In the end I know that we’ll find love so beautiful and divine

And we’ll be lovers for lifetime, yeah and I’ll stay with you

Oh I will stay with you through the ups and the downs

Oh I’ll stay with you when no one else is around

And when the dark clouds arrive I will stay by your side

I know we’ll be alright I will stay with you

Yeah everything will be fine yeah and I will stay with you

Through the end of time I will stay with you

Lyrics Courtesy of Metro Lyrics

Video courtesy of jarapara/YouTube

GOD PROMISES THAT HE WILL STAY WITH YOU!

Don’t be Ungrateful

This week, I was convicted…for being ungrateful.

Here’s the deal.

During the Lenten season, God birthed very specific dreams and prayers in my spirit.  I prayed those prayers – circled them, as my Pastor has taught me – for weeks upon weeks and month after month.

I moved from a place of cautiously accepting that these were God-inspired thoughts, to faithfully expecting these prayers to come to fruition.

To answer my prayers and further His plan for my life, God had to create an opportunity.  Just. For. Me.

The plan that He unfurled before me checked each of the specifications of my prayers to the letter.  It was both exciting and humbling.  Overwhelming and perfect.

Just as His plan was coming to fruition though, I began to question whether it was indeed the path I was supposed to take.

(Despite the fact that He confirmed and reconfirmed that that was indeed my path in many a subsequent prayer.)

Well, I guess He finally got fed up with my double-mindedness.

One morning this week during my prayer and quiet time He said, “I created this opportunity just for you.  It is exactly what you asked for to accomplish exactly what I need for your life.”

And just like that I got the revelation that I was being ungrateful.

Not in the strictly traditional sense of not appreciating a gift given to me, but in a new way of not rejoicing fully in an answered prayer – a gift custom-made for me.

Somehow, this brand felt like a deeper, different kind of ungratefulness and I quickly repented, overjoyed to return to the peace of knowing that I was walking in God’s will and plan for my life.

But man, the memory of knowing that I was ungrateful, that I’d allowed my worldly eyes to discolor the truth of what God said I could do and have.  That still stings.

Here’s what I know now friends: it can be hard to see this flavor of ungratefulness because it doesn’t present itself as the sour-mouthed, plain face one usually recognizes when the gift you’ve just received isn’t quite what you expected.

No this kind of ungratefulness presents itself as, “I just want to be sure it’s you God.”  “Hmm, is it really God’s will or mine?”  Or even, “This is too good to be true; it can’t be for me.”

So, let me share these three quick tips with you so you can avoid being ungrateful when God answers your prayers so well you just can’t believe the blessing is for you:

1. Don’t doubt the power of your own prayers.  Often we ask for and look for and seek prayers from others thinking that if Sister So and So and Brother So and So pray for your situation then surely God will move.  The reality is that yes, there is power in numbers, but each of us has our own individual relationship with God and can go to Him for ourselves thanks to Christ.  I prayed a prayer birthed in my Spirit months ago.  God heard it and immediately began working on my behalf.  Faith in God is critical.  Belief in the power of YOUR prayers is too.  Combined, these things will be the confirmation we need when God shows up and shows out on our behalf.

2. Don’t resent the down time.  I wanted God to answer my prayer when I wanted it; much sooner than God’s timeline.  I became so married to seeing God move according to my schedule that when it didn’t happen I started to question if I was going in the right direction, if the path I was on was in fact where He wanted me to go.  But, I learned early on in this season that promotion before preparation results in poor performance — and sometimes failure.  So I’m contently waiting for God to align things EXACTLY how they need to be for me to succeed and for Him to get ALL the glory.  In the meantime, opportunity after opportunity is being thrown my and my family’s way.  I’ve realized that they aren’t all for us to move on them now — they’re a foretelling of what’s to come and a reminder to soak up this down time.  New seasons often mean increased demand on us (spiritually and in the world) so rest up now because promotion soon comes.

3.  Don’t lose sight of your dreams.  For me it was a number.  A number that I felt like came out of nowhere, was too high, and I didn’t deserve.  It was a dream.  A dream that at different times along this journey other paths seemed to promise me.  But it was in those times that I knew I had to stay focused on God’s will, God’s plan, and His path.  Sometimes what looks like “options” are actually just distractions to keep you from getting where God wants you to go.  God knows us, but most importantly, He knows what He’s put in us.  Don’t let viewing your God-given dreams through the lenses of this world cause you to doubt the very things God has said He wants to give to you.  He’ll do it…He never fails.

You know, the word says in Proverbs 3:5-6:

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

If we really, truly, deep down believe this scripture then there is no way that we should ever be surprised, overcome/overwhelmed, anxious or fearful to the point of freezing in place when God answers our prayers directly.

I think somewhere along the way religion made us believe that the only way we could ever really get anything good in our lives was to go through hell.  But, I would argue that that is contrary to the word of God which tells us that He orders our steps and makes our paths straight.

So the next time you see the manifestation of some audacious prayer that you’ve prayed, don’t be ungrateful.

Our God is a God of right now, suddenly, and exceedingly and abundantly.  And He loves you enough – SO MUCH in fact – that He delights in blessing you.

So, whoever you are reading this.  I believe God led you here because you’ve been asking Him for confirmation.  You’ve been asking Him to give you a sign that this huge blessing, this too-good-to-be-true blessing is really for you.

Pray once more asking God if this is the sign.  And if afterwards you feel peace about accepting your blessing, know that it was God answering your prayers and believe that He tailor-made that blessing just for you.

And please, don’t be ungrateful.

I’ll leave you with this classic hymn that serves as a reminder to not just be grateful, but that our God is a God of balance.  So no matter how tough your trials have been, know that your blessings will be just that big!

DEVOTIONAL: Mind Your Mouth

You may not know this, but, in addition to being fishers of men, we are also called to be builders.

Not the worldly kind of builders – with physical brick and mortar building.

No, our tools of building are our words.

You see, it is written in Proverbs 18:21 that the power of life and death lies in our tongues.

In fact, the Bible is chocked full of directives telling us to speak things, because there’s something powerful about putting those words out into the atmosphere in heaven and earth.

The very words we speak have the power to prosper and bless OR to curse and condemn, others as well as ourselves.

So with every word we speak we’re either building something up – whether it’s another person, or ourselves, our futures, or our hopes – or we’re tearing something down, speaking curses, ill will, and idle words out into the atmosphere.

And let’s remember that we are admonished in Matthew 12:36 that we will be judged by our idle words.

Haven’t we all been guilty at one time or another?

You know what I’m talking about.  The conversations we sometimes find ourselves in with other people when we aren’t really talking about anything, just killing time or trying to be social.

What starts out as small talk about the weather or the game unsuspectingly devolves into gossiping or complaining, or listening to others to do those things.

In those times – and really every time we speak – we should think about what our words are building.

We really must mind our mouths.

Are we speaking truth and light and God’s word?  Are we building people up with encouragement and living water?

Or, are we tearing them down with negative words, selfish thoughts, and empty chatter?

***

There’s an old hymn that goes like this:

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Refrain:

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

all other ground is sinking sand;

all other ground is sinking sand.

Word by word, brick by brick, we are either building something or tearing something down.

Let’s endeavor today to be mindful of every word that falls from our lips.

Not just because they power they wield, but because of what they tell us about ourselves…

Luke 6:45 (NLT)

45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

It is imperative that we are mindful of what we say.  Not simply because our words are not just tools of creation or destruction, but because they are also one of the easiest ways to know what is in our hearts and who we are as people.

 

DEVOTIONAL: E.W.F Teaches Us Devotion

If you would turn with me to the book of Earth, Wind and Fire, and read with me this passage:

Thru devotion, blessed are the children

Praise the teacher, that brings true love to many

Your devotion, opens all life’s treasures

And deliverance, from the fruits of evil

I bring up this song because as I thought about what to share with you today, I began to consider the word “devotion.”

By definition, the word “devotion” means love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause. A religious worship or observance.  The Ecclesiastical definition is religious zeal.

I bring up the topic of devotion today because as I survey my life, I realize that I am tremendously blessed, unbelievably favored – and right now, just going through a tough patch.

Sure my life is full and I have nothing to complain about, but sometimes the relationships we value the most, the commitments, the things we enjoy — sometimes they come together in a way that just, well, tires you out; frays your edges.

But in this rough patch, I’m reminded – appropriately and necessarily – of the oft-quoted scripture in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

When I think about my close friends, family and my husband, I think of Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.”

And when I get excited thinking about my career and professional opportunities, Proverbs 16:3 comes to mind: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

I mention these scriptures because it appears that Earth, Wind and Fire were right. We DO need devotion.

Devotion to the appropriate – let me say this again, APPROPRIATE – people and activities shows our gratitude to God for the lives and all of the blessings He’s given us.

And it’s this devotion we must remember, hold tight to – especially during the rough times.

Much how we delight in seeing someone enjoy a gift we give them, I believe and the Word agrees, that God wants to see us happy. It makes Him happy to see us enjoying our lives and living them to the full.

Indeed, through devotion we can find deeper value in life.

Devotion to good will thwart the enemy.

Devotion to God overcomes every weapon of the enemy.

And God’s devotion to us overcame death and the grave.

Devotion.

Earth, Wind and Fire go on to say:

In everyone’s life, there’s a need to be happy.

Let the sun shine, a smile your way.

Open your heart, feel a touch of devotion.

Maybe this song, will help uplift your day.

Make a better way

You need devotion

My prayer for you today is that you experience devotion . And that if you can’t readily identify it in your life, that God will show you His devotion to you in the many people, places and things that cross your path today.

Don’t just live. Thrive.

Don’t just do, do with passion.

You, I, WE need devotion.