What are you feeding?

Here’s a short thought for the day…

Your FOCUS feeds your FEELINGS. 

If you FOCUS on your faults, flaws, and failures, that will feed you fear, anxiety, helplessness and sadness. 

But when you FOCUS on His face, His presence feeds your faith with joy, peace, patience, and power. 

Choose today, all day and repeatedly throughout the day, to FOCUS on what feeds your FAITH. 

That means repeatedly choosing to look to, rest in, trust and give attention to the problem SOLVER instead of the problem. 

  
Read PSALM 46:1–2 and decide now to let  FAITH FUEL your day today. 

Because though what we face sometimes surprises us, nothing is a surprise to God. He’s already delivered us before the storm erupts. 

He’s FAITHFUL. So feed your faith, and follow Him. He’ll empower you to walk on the very waters the enemy sent to drown you. 

  

Advertisements

June 23 Leap of Faith Prayer Call

Many thanks to everyone who joined our next to last prayer call.  They’re going by so quickly! Next week is our last week already.  I pray this series has been a blessing to you Ladies.  It’s certainly been a blessing to me.

To hear the recording from last night’s call, use the call-in credentials below:

Playback Number: (641) 715-3589
Access Code: 859-866
Reference Number: 4

Below is a transcript of the devotional I shared:

I didn’t prepare a traditional devotional tonight because I really just want to talk to you; to encourage you.

Sometimes, when we stop to think about the enormity of our God, how good He is and how undeserving we are, we can become frozen in our own tracks.  The enemy will begin to lie to us, telling us we have nothing to offer.  Or trying to convince us that we’ll never be able to get our lives together enough to be of service to such a good God.

But my prayer tonight is that in sharing a little bit of my testimony that you’ll be encouraged — not just to tell the devil to go to hell (literally!), but to also keep pursuing God on your walk with him.

I won’t bore you with the details of my birth story or anything quite that long ago.  But what I will tell you is that in late February/early March of this year I felt like God was so far away.  I felt like for all the good I thought I was doing, I wasn’t sure where God was and I wasn’t sure that He was pleased.

In January, I’d done a stint of praying everyday at the same time.  And from that time with God the idea — and the guest — for my first Leap Luncheon Series™ was revealed to me.  But, like I always had, I soon found myself “too tired” to stay up later or to get up earlier.  And, the “habit” quickly became past-tense.

The following month, when I tried to recreate the magic of the first luncheon, I found that I was a day late and a dollar short.  An advisor told me that invites to really notable folks had to go out a month in advance, if not sooner.  And just like that, what was supposed to be a monthly luncheon was on its first hiatus.

I sulked for a little while over why my event seemed so short-lived and what the Holy Spirit revealed to me was that I’d stopped seeking the Source.  I’d become so enamored with the gift, that I’d turned my eyes from the gift giver.

The revelation convicted me and I immediately committed to returning to my 4:45am prayer and meditation times.

Since then, I’ve had five more successful Leap events.  I’ve been blessed to bless others — giving gifts of money and resources to other folks who cross my path.  I’ve been invited to be a guest speaker at a few different events as well.  And the future looks…exciting.

I look back now, seven months into my decision to give God the first hour of my day, and I realize that it wasn’t until I chose to physically and literally seek God first, as we’re admonished in Matthew 6:33 that things started to turn around for me.

I decided to live out the truth that God was and is my Source.  That means not worrying when bank accounts run low – or overdrawn – but choosing to trust God instead.  And He’s proven that He is indeed an on-time God.

I decided to live out the truth to lean not to my own understanding and to commit my ways to Him.  That meant asking God simple things like, What should I put on my to-do list today?, and then prioritizing the things He gave me.  And He’s proven that every detail of my life is important to Him.

What I’ve found was that at that time  when I started this daily prayer time, I felt like I didn’t have anything to give God.  I literally felt like, I have nothing to offer you, God.  But I know you’ve been good enough to warrant me missing a few winks, so here I am.

There have been mornings when I’ve hit snooze one too many times and had to make up my prayer time at the end of the day.  There have been mornings that I’ve been so tired that I’ve fallen asleep intermittently throughout.  And times when I literally wrote in my prayer journal, God, I’ve got nothing to say this morning.  I’ve gone to Him angry and disappointed.  Sad and confused.  I’ve prayed in tongues some mornings, sobbed uncontrollably others, and simply sat in silence for some others.

But in the six or so months since I’ve been really trying to commit to this thing, God’s moved in a mighty way in my life.  He’s grown this luncheon idea to a multi-city brand that one day may make me a little money and give me a national platform.  On May 19th He told me write down some declarations.  One of them described a house in great detail that I, at the time, never thought I could have or afford.  Today, I’m excited to say we’ve placed an offer on the very house He described to me and we’re just waiting for the confirmation that its ours.

I’ve often in the past few months made it a priority to give big gifts, to give when it hurts, or to give when I’m down to my very last dollars as a means to show God I trust Him and/or to sow seeds for the desires He’s placed in my heart.  Just last week a couple gave my husband and I a substantial sum of money to help us get our down payment together for the house God told me was ours.  Just like that.  Out of the blue.

Look, I’m not perfect.  And I don’t share these testimonies with you to brag or to somehow say I’m better than anyone.  I’m a sinner of the worst kind perhaps.

But I share these bits of my story with you to say this:

1.  God sees you.  He knows how you’re sacrificing and sowing in tears and labor.  He sees all that you’re doing and going through and He is faithful to reward your efforts.  I’m a witness to that.

2.  You are all the gift God needs.  Don’t ever think that you have nothing to give God.  If all you give HIm is your time and attention – and it doesn’t have to be all at once or for some long period of time, it can be throughout the day, while you’re sitting in traffic, or even in the shower.  But if you give HIm you, if you choose to seek Him first literally, He’ll bless you for your efforts.

And 3.  You are not alone.  I struggle all the time with figuring out how to get it all done in a day.  Whether you’re juggling a business, a husband, and kids like me, or you’re just trying to figure out where to live, what to do, or who to date, you aren’t alone.  God loves you and He cares about every detail of your life.  If you’d ask His opinion, tell Him, Lord, I’ll do whatever you want me to today, He’s faithful to direct your path.  I’m a witness.

I don’t always get up in the morning.  And I jack up on my walk many times every hour of the day.  But I can say that since I’ve decided to prioritize time with God, my faith has grown, my expectation has grown, and the room that I leave in my life for God to do miracles has grown, too.

The sellers of our new house haven’t accepted our offer yet, but they will.  I don’t yet have all of the money I need for a down payment either.  I don’t know how we’re going to afford the renovations and I’m not sure when we’ll move in.

But of this one thing I am certain: Philippians 4:19 NIV.  God will meet all of my needs.

And He will meet yours too.  Just have faith, have expectation, and trust Him enough to take the LEAP He’s planted in your heart.

…all He really wants in return is you.

How ya living?

During my reading and journaling this morning I found myself – dare I say it – complaining. ::gasp:: Yes, on the first day of the new year, I was rattling off all of the problems I was facing. I was quoting to God HIS own words and promises and demanding He tell me where He was in all of my problems.

Imagine my surprise when He literally cut me off mid-sentence, “I know about your situation. You made the decisions that put you in these circumstances. I did my part. I upheld my word. Now do your part!”

I sat for a while in silence. Ironically, or at least unexpectedly, I was grateful for His candor and response, even though it pinned the blame squarely on me. And as I sat there, repenting and walking through how He’d have me to right the ship, a peace washed over me.

But somewhere, in the darker recesses of my mind and heart, I still felt pangs of anger and frustration and accusation. A victim mentality that was bubbling up seeking to usurp the peace I’d just had restored.

So I asked God, “What about this anger? This frustration?”

I didn’t actually have to ask really. He saw me struggling and offered this answer:

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
[22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

…and I read on, with verse 25 hitting me like a ton of bricks:

Galatians 5:25 AMP
[25] If we live by the Holy Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.

It said I IF we live by the Holy Spirit.

Look, this may not be the “new year! new you” message you were looking for, but the truth is that I don’t believe we can simply and cleanly walk into 2014 by forgetting 2013. There are people like me who still are learning from 2013. Who are still waiting on promises from 2013, walking through tests that began in 2013, and are still seeking truths and new direction from decisions we don’t want to repeat this year.

If this is you, you could be, like me, finding yourself feeling left behind, left out of the jubilant celebrating of the new year of those around you. You could feel frustration and wonder where God is in your new year when you lost sight of him last year.

If you aren’t seeing the manifestation of God’s promises in your life, I’ll ask you like God asked me this morning: How ya living?

Are you seeking his kingdom first, striving to show others and yourself the fruit of the Spirit?

Or have you, like me, found yourself mired in what feels like unending fatigue, frustration, impatience and overall blahness?

If we live by the Holy Spirit…

If you closed out 2013 feeling like God was far away, know that it is you who moved. Somewhere along the lines your focus shifted and we met a new calendar year stuck in our last spiritual year.

But we don’t have to remain stuck. I took God’s loving rebuke this morning, accepted that I’d stopped chasing him to pursue other things. And realized that those pursuits are what caused the distance and the darkness.

I am excited this morning to know that although I may not have rang in a new year in my Spirit when the clock struck 12, I have now turned the page on 2013 in my heart and can move forward in peace and with expectation now.

I walked away from my quiet time this morning with these takeaways:

    God’s promises and plans for our lives don’t change because we walked away/got off track. He’s still faithful and still wants to bless me.

    The only thing standing in the way of God manifesting me seeing God’s blessings in my life is me.

    IF I live by the Spirit, I am seeking Him first and He WILL add all good things unto me.

    God wants to demonstrate his immeasurable, limitless and surpassing grace and blessings in my life. (Ephesians 2:7,10)

    Per Joel Osteen’s I Declare, ” I will see an explosion of God’s goodness, a sudden widespread increase.”

You can have all of this, too. In fact, I believe God wants you to. But you’ve first gotta do some real soul-searching to find out…

How are you living?

Because how you’re living will dictate what you see manifested of God’s giving.

Square Biz

Yesterday, something that my pastor, Pastor Mark Batterson, said hit home:

What possession are you holding onto, what thing are you chasing so fervently, that you’ve gone from possessing it to it possessing you.

That thing stung, y’all.  I mean, lower-your-head-rasie-your-hand-and-say-ouch kinda conviction there.

For the past week or so I’d just felt so tired, physically, emotionally, mentally.  Drained.

No amount of sleep was fixing it.  No amount of meditating was doing it.  Not even prayer did the trick.

And then Pastor Mark said that, and it all came together.

In the span of a few minutes God revealed to me the source of my fatigue: I’d somehow moved from chasing God to chasing other things and those other things.

Now, before you go and get all high and mighty on me, I’ll share that the “other things” were family things: more money to pay tuition; more clothes for the kids for the fall; more, more, more…stuff.

I’d somehow become so driven to give more and do more that I forgot that God is our source and our everything.  He knows what we need, what we desire, and if we seek him first, as it says in Matthew 6:33, then all good things will be added to us.

It was hard to hear that I’d gone from relying on God to provide to driving myself into the ground trying to do things on my own, but it was a welcomed revelation because after I repented and quietly sought God’s guidance to understand what my wrong priorities were and how I’d gotten then, I was freed from the fatigue and the heaviness and the burden.  I could go back to joyfully and freely depending on the one and only true provider, God Himself.

I bet if you were honest with yourself there are times – or have been times – where you too have strayed.  Perhaps your story is like mine where you sought God consistently and earnestly for godly promotion, and when you got it you all of sudden thought you had to make things happen, achieve greatness and success, by yourself and in your own might.  But how many of you know that there’s no way to succeed alone in what God has ordained and divinely gifted to you?

I know that now.

Or maybe that’s not your story.  Maybe you started out genuinely trying to be a Proverbs 31 woman, or a man after God’s own heart, on a path closely tied to scripture.  But somewhere along the way the competition of arriving “there” first and better overshadowed the journey of traveling in trust with God, and now you feel overpowered by a spirit of drive and competition and acquiring more stuff: more titles, more money, more things, more status.

Whatever the origin, chances are that you are now feeling a heaviness and a tiredness that you can’t put your finger on.  You’re getting more sleep.  Exercising.  Trying to eat better.  You’re trying to take time throughout the day to be quiet, to unplug.  But you just can’t shake this feeling of…burden, desperation.  This feeling that no matter how far you’ve come there’s still infinitely farther to go and you’ll never get there.

See, that is evidence of being overtaken by a maverick spirit.  A spirit of discontent (remember Paul who famously learned to be content no matter his circumstances in Philippians 4), selfishness and/or covetousness have befallen you and without revelation from God you won’t be able to shake it.

That’s what the enemy does best I think.  He waits along the wayside, watching us follow God blindly and joyfully.  Then he waits until God gives us a taste of that which we’d sought Him for before starting to wedge himself between us and God.  He’s discrete about it at first: the job we prayed for doesn’t pay EXACTLY what we wanted so now we want to work harder to earn a bonus or get ahead faster.  Or the car/iPhone/thing we couldn’t wait to have just a few months ago is now yesterday’s news, so we’re unhappy, focusing now on getting the next best thing.

Or even in our relationships.  That husband or that wife that we prayed for forEVER is, we later find, HUMAN (shocker) and it looks easier to start anew somewhere else than to put in the work where we’re planted.

It can happen to any of us.  And if we’re honest, it has happened more than one.  But the great thing about the God we serve is that He’s merciful, always extending His grace to us.  He’s patient, waiting for us to want to come back to Him.  And He wants nothing more than the absolute best for us.  But He wants us to want it, His way.  And in order to ensure that we do, He’s willing to wait.  He’ll wait until we open our hands to release that thing we’re holding on to, pursing recklessly, obsessed with achieving on our own…He waits.  And when we’re ready, He unfurls His beautiful plan and blessings before us inviting us to once again follow Him.

There is someone reading this now who all of sudden realizes that my story, this story I’ve just shared, is your testimony right now.  You somehow became so blinded by what you wanted and were working for – which could very well be a God-given dream/goal – that you’ve stopped following the One who gave you the dream chasing the dream itself instead.

Well, I have good news for you: it’s not too late to get back on track.  It’s not too late to say, “Un-uh, promotion/boyfriend/girlfriend/new car/new phone/new thing/stuff, I want you, but only if it’s what God wants for me.”  And once you repent, and let God show you where you went astray, you’re restored to right standing with Him, just like that.  Seriously, it’s that easy!  Then that heaviness, that burden, that discontent, that discomfort, they’ll all melt away and the joy that God promised us, the peace He said was our for the taking, it’ll come back.

Today I am a new woman because I repented, God forgave me, and I’m back on track.  The reality is that I’ll never feel like I have enough money or am giving enough to my kids.  That’s the way life in this world is; we’re conditioned to feel inadequate so we can constantly consume the “stuff” the world is forcing on us.  But today, right now, in this moment, I am content in knowing that my Father in Heaven wants the absolute best for me; He has a plan to give it to me; and I don’t have to do anything extra to earn it other than love and follow Him.  Period.

You know, there’s something else that Pastor Mark said yesterday that still sticks with me.  He said, “If God loves you and plans to give you life and life more abundantly.  Then the devil hates you and he has a plan to harm you.”

We are spiritual beings living in a natural world.  As Pastor Mark said, we were born right in the middle of a battlefield between God and the enemy.  It’s the devil’s job to make our life hard, to get us off track from time to time, because only when we realize that we’re off track can we experience the renewal of being restored, redeemed and rebirthed into God’s light and goodness for us.

So shake off the weights that are weighing you down!  God’s waiting to restore your joy and peace and contentment.

This may not be a typical devotion, but it’s the square biz folks.  Because I love you and I want God’s best for you!

Credit Isn’t Due

In the past few weeks, I’ve had similar conversations with different groups of friends.

No matter their challenge, I’ve found the Holy Spirit encouraging me to share the following with them:

“Look, the devil ain’t smart. The Bible says there’s nothing new under the sun; so we know he isn’t all that clever. Every trick he’s pulling on you, he’s pulled before and been defeated by Jesus himself. No, all the devil is is patient.”

I want to share that with you – someone reading this – today because no matter what you’re facing, what season you’re going through, you must hold on to your faith in God and your belief that it will get better and that you will win.

Why?

For starters, because it is written that you’re more than a conqueror and we KNOW you’ll win. (Skip to the end of the book; all of God’s children win!)

But also because what I’ve said is true. The devil is just patient.

Get this. When it feels like there’s one problem after another befalling you, things are going wrong left and right, realize that its your decision to stand firmly planted in God’s power and your faith that secures your victory.

The enemy knows that if he beats up enough, puts us down enough, wreaks enough havoc in our lives that we’ll eventually doubt that God cares, that He hears us, or that He’s fighting on our behalf.

If the enemy can distract us long enough by tampering with the temporary circumstances around us, he can distract us from God and possibly delay the blessings the Lord has for me.

Because remember, Matthew 6:33 advises us to seek God first. In doing so, and if we live righteously, He’ll add all good things unto us.

The lesson? No matter what hell is breaking out around you, remember God’s promise in Psalm 91 that NONE OF IT will harm you, and just keep your eyes, thoughts and prayers locked on God. Don’t start telling God about your problems. Begin to tell your problems about your God and watch what happens!

So, what’s the takeaway? Let’s recap:

1. Our season of blessing is upon us. We can see it, feel it, and know that God’s prepared/preparing us.

2. Seemingly, out of nowhere, all hell breaks loose in our homes, on our jobs, in our families, our finances. Everywhere!

3. At first we remain flat-footed in our faith, trusting and believing God to protect and provide. Ultimately though, as in every test, we reach a crossroads where if one more thing goes wrong we feel we just won’t be able to take it. (And let’s just be clear, we ALL reach this point – me included – infinite times along our Christ walk. It’s how we grow!)

4. The enemy waits for us to reach that moment – that “if one more thing goes wrong” point – to distract us with, well, one more thing. Sometimes our faith will be strong enough to stand firm. But sometimes, we break under the pressure of it all and the devil thinks he has one up on us. But, because he isn’t powerful enough to change God’s plan and purpose for you, all he can do is delay the delivery of God’s blessings into our lives or postpone the end of whatever season we’re in.

So, our challenge in moments like that, if we choose to accept it, is to not allow the enemy to distract us. To remember that all of his assails are temporary; they’re like sleight of hand tricks because they can’t render any permanent effects on the blessings, mercy, love and favor of God that we’re drenched in.

I hope that this encourages someone. I believe that there is someone reading this who is wondering, “Lord, why all of this, right now? Why me? Have I done something wrong? Do you see me going through all of this? Do you care?”

To you I would say two more things:

1. The teacher is always silent during the test. Just because you feel God isn’t answering doesn’t mean He’s left you. He knows what you’re going through and, most importantly, knows that you will win.

2. The devil doesn’t mess with people who ain’t got nothing. (Yeah, I know that’s awful English, but stick with me.) It’s just like a thief; they don’t rob folks who don’t have anything. So the devil’s extra attention right now is just confirmation that if you hold on, hang on, keep believing, keep professing your faith and confessing your victory something great is just on the other side of this.

***

At one point in my family’s favorite movie, “The Color Purple”, Miss Celie says to a battered and angry Miss Sophia, “This side’ll be over soon; heaven lasts always.”

Adopt that mindset: this time/season/hardship will be over soon. What’s to come – the manifestation of God’s promises, blessings, favor, love, mercy and grace on you and your life – is eternal.

Stand your ground and like the coward he is the devil will retreat frustrated, you will prosper and God will be glorified.

I know this to be true from my own life.

Do you believe it?