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.

Measuring Up

I love the Amplified version of James 1:17, the first half in particular. It reads:

“Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above…”

The expounding upon perfect is the part that really gets me: free, large, and full.

How many times do we pray for a thing and, in our excitement and haste to see/get/have it now, we begin trying to make it happen?

We pray for a mate, so the next time a young man or lady catches our attention and gives us the time of day, we are already thinking forever…even though the signs are there that s/he isn’t the one.

We ask God to get us a new job with more pay, so we begin applying to jobs based on the salaries we want…even though something inside tells us we won’t enjoy the job or the people or the mission of the organization.

Or we ask God to grow our own business with more income, so we start chasing every person or organization with a bank book…even though none of what they do aligns with our gifts or interests or talents or capacities.

But what we find in the first half James 1:17 are some good parameters by which to measure our “blessings” to determine if they are from God, or just an attempt to distract us from God. Are they something we want to further our own plans, or are they a part of God’s plan advancing for us?

Let’s take a few minutes to unpack the parameters laid out for us in this passage of James.

Perfect (verb) – I love this word used here. God is perfect. Jesus is perfect. And God made us perfect in His image to fulfill His purposes for our lives, and then sent his only Son to shed His blood so we could be reconciled back to Him and His perfect will. That means that in Christ every messy, uncomfortable detail of our lives is perfected, because only that which is perfect (the Son) can make perfection out of flawed materials (us).

So no matter how jacked up we think we are or our lives are, they — and we — are made perfect by Christ. This act, this action, of making the flawed as good as it possibly can be is the definition of the VERB perfect. So, literally, God is always WORKING for and through and on us. It’s the nature of who He is and what He does through his Son.

Perfect (noun) – When we look at the definition of “perfect” as a noun, it says: “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.”

This is what God gives us. When He blesses us, His blessings, His gifts, have everything we need (and likely much of what we want!) and there is nothing better that exists. That’s why His will and plan for our lives is perfect: there is no better way. His love for us is perfect: it never changes, covers all of our faults, and is unconditional. Glory to God!

So if the “blessing” you are claiming isn’t in alignment with God’s perfect will or His perfect plan for your life, it doesn’t measure up.

Free – As cliché as it is, Jesus really did pay it all. So when God blesses, the cost has already been paid. There’s nothing you can do to earn it because God blesses us out of the character of who He is not out of what we can do. If this new “blessing” you are claiming requires you to pay in ways that aren’t in alignment with God’s character or His plan for your life, or asks you to do or say things that just plain don’t feel right in your gut, then it isn’t free and it ain’t measuring up.

Large – We serve a big God. He’s bigger than the vastness of space and time that He created. His word tells us in the latter half of Matthew 6 that He guarantees us the necessities of life – food, shelter, clothes, and their trappings. And the Word also tells us that He knows what we need (utility bills, maintenance on the car, tuition for the kids, down payments, etc) in Matthew 6:8 and will in fact supply all those needs as well (Philippians 4:19). So knowing this, and that His plan is to draw everyone unto Himself, if the “blessing” you’re claiming isn’t big enough to give God glory and credit and show Him to others (or just plain show him mighty in your own life), something there ain’t measuring up.

Full – Does this “blessing” you’re claiming require you to add to it, fix it, adjust for it, or otherwise do something to make it complete or to make it fit your need/prayer? If you answer yes, hold on — something isn’t measuring up. Full
means to capacity, no extra room, no free space. God-blessings leave no room (or need!) for us to add to it. Period.

The reality is that yes, it is necessary, that we make sure the “blessings” we claim measure up because we are called to a higher calling, a higher purpose.  If folks of the world are created to, expected to, conform and just take what the world sends their way, how much more do we, the children of the Most High God, have to be diligent to ensure that all that we allow into our lives meets the standards of the God whose delight it is to bless us?

The patience and faith it takes to let something that ain’t for you go can be tremendous.  But the energy it takes – the spiritual, physical, and mental energies – to deal with the consequences of trying to rush or force the Hand of God is far greater.

Let’s decide now this year we will take the time to ensure that every new person and opportunity that crosses our path measures up to what God has promised us.  And then let’s endeavor to support one another in letting some “blessings” keep right on going, because if we err on the side of caution and let something go that God did intended for us, it’s still ours and His word says that as long as we’re acting out of what we believe to be His will, He’ll bless us all the same.

 

Pursue Peace

In my relatively short life I have learned a lot about people, about change, and about choices.

I think one unifying thing I’ve learned in all three areas is this: prioritize your peace.

Let’s be real. There will always be another fire to put out, drama to navigate, and problem to solve. Work won’t end. Responsibilities won’t cease. And time won’t stop.

These are things we know and should expect and that we cannot control. But what we can control is how we respond to these trying times.

Will we let someone else’s emergency send our day into a tailspin? Will we let someone else’s priorities trump our own? How should we react when life itself threatens constantly to rob us of our joy?

I propose that we must prioritize our peace over our problems. Set our own boundaries. Respect the boundaries we put in place, and don’t allow others to trample them either.

In a meeting with President Obama’s chief advisor, Valerie Jarrett, I was told: “You should never have to hide who you are to do a job.” That’s always stuck with me.

One, because it is a relatable way to remember that we must be true to who God has created us to be. It’s why we get the job in the first place and it’s the best way to keep it.

But Ms. Jarrett’s sage advice also reminds me that God is my source, not accounts payable, my boss or even my job.

We’re assigned to jobs to be different, to be lights, and to use our talents to serve others to the glory of God. That’s it. God remains the real and true source. He is the one who pays bills, provides money, and keeps a roof over our heads. And I know this because when I didn’t have a job – and even when I have and wasn’t being paid enough or at all – our family never wanted for a thing. Bills were paid and our lifestyle never changed.

Look, the reality is that there are many things in this life we cannot control. But what we can control is our God-given, divine peace. We can decide to not allow the ever-changing, temporary circumstances in our lives to interrupt our joy and peace.

God tells us that we should tell Him what’s on our minds and hearts and then He will give us peace. It doesn’t say that He’ll fix whatever bothers us, or that He’ll shoo our challenges away. What it says is He’ll make us feel calm in spite of our circumstances.

So what that should say to us is that our power lies in our ability to refocus, change our perspective, adjust our thinking and priorities. Our peace comes in there, not in the solving or eliminating of the stressors. That’s a blessing because it means we don’t have to wait for our peace. It means that our peace is much more readily and immediately accessible than all of that – and is completely independent of what is going on around us.

This is the peace He gifts us that we must doggedly protect.

Your boss will always have a new project and deadline. Your ex will always have a new gripe. Your bank account will always be assailed by new expenses. And your life may always be busy, full and hectic. But you have the power to remain calm in the midst of the chaos. It’s your divine ability and a right you must enact and choose daily.

If your spouse and kids are important to you, protect your time with them. If the gym is sacred space for you, protect your workouts. And if your quiet time of devotion is as important as the air you breathe, don’t allow the temporary trappings of life to violate it.

That’s what we do with things we love, that are important to us. We protect them as God protects us.

I didn’t really know how things would work out when I went to my boss, a Member of Congress for whom I’d worked less than two years, and told him I was leaving to work with faith groups and have more time at home.

All I had was my divine confidence (read: faith) that my family was my first ministry and I needed to be physically AND mentally available to them everyday. I’d tried to do both well and what I was left with was a boss who was pleased, but a husband and children who felt neglected and unimportant.

I knew God wasn’t pleased with that, and neither was I. I needed to protect what I loved and I had to put action behind my every “I love you.

So I left the Hill, the security of a W2 (lol), and the best boss I’d ever had to reconnect with my family and to retain my peace. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fear-free, but it had to be done.

Because the peace of knowing I was going to have an active hand in raising my children, and that I could go back to prioritizing my marriage and honoring my husband were more important than my fear of letting my boss down or leaving a “safe” income.

I made my peace more important than my problems.

(To be fair, I told my former boss in our interview that I’d be on “black out” from 5:30 to 8 pm nightly to do dinner, baths and bed. And he’d agreed and always honored that boundary, but I found that that wasn’t enough so I had to adjust.)

To this day, my former boss and I are still close and there is no love lost…and I am at peace. No, I haven’t always gotten a paycheck, not have I always known how the bills would be paid…but I am at peace. And I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me or my family as it relates to the expense of life…but I am at peace.

You need to know that you know that you know that God will never leave you (Deut 31:6-8 NLT). And when you decide to pursue your peace, to stand up and do and be all that He has created and called you to do and be, He will supply your every need (Phil 4:19 AMP).

I don’t know what is competing with or threatening your peace right now. But my message to you is this: you have every right to fight aggressively, doggedly and passionately to protect your peace. It is one of the greatest gifts God has given us, and one of the few things in this life that we can control.

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!

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!

 

The B-Side

I’ll start this post by providing a disclaimer: for some, this post may be uncomfortable.

It was uncomfortable for me to receive this loving conviction this morning, but it was a necessary reality check.

Consider this post the B-side to all of the “He’s gonna bless you/Wait on Him/It’s Coming” posts of late.

Let’s start with the scripture…

Isaiah 43:16-24 MSG

[16-21] This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’ —the coyotes and the buzzards—Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.

[22-24] “But you didn’t pay a bit of attention to me, Jacob. You so quickly tired of me, Israel. You wouldn’t even bring sheep for offerings in worship. You couldn’t be bothered with sacrifices. It wasn’t that I asked that much from you. I didn’t expect expensive presents. But you didn’t even do the minimum— so stingy with me, so closefisted. Yet you haven’t been stingy with your sins. You’ve been plenty generous with them—and I’m fed up.

Anyone else saying ouch, yet?

As  I sought God in my quiet time this morning, pouring out my frustrations and needs and wants for what must be the millionth time, the Lord led me to this scripture.

As I read it, two things became clear to me.

1. God knows what I need.  He knew before I asked and He is working things out for me even now.  But I’ve been so self-absorbed, so focused on the job applications that were denied; the doors that were shut; the temporary circumstances around me that I’d fail to see the new connections He’d blessed me with; the new opportunities He was placing before me; and the BIGGER, BETTER plan that He has for me.

I bet I’m not alone in this.  Sometimes we reach a point where the sum total of our woes appear to overwhelm us; they’re all we can think about.  And instead of seeking the Blesser and the Way Maker, we begin looking only for His blessings and for a way to be made on our behalf.

We must never allow our temporary circumstances to cause us to take our eyes off of what’s important and Who is important.  In fact,  when I asked God this morning, “Well, what should I be thinking about? I feel like this is all I can see.”  He took me to Matthew 6:25-34 (to remind me that indeed He is aware of my situation) and Philippians 4:8-9 (to tell me what I should be focused on).  And then, as if to drive the point home of what order my priorities should be in, He reminded me of Matthew 6:33 again: SEEK. GOD. FIRST.

2. God isn’t an ATM.  I cannot continue to go to Him, broken, seeking and desperate, taking withdrawal after withdrawal of his peace, reassurance, favor, and grace.  The reality is, this is a relationship, a two-way street of give and take.  Will it ever be balanced?  No, I will never be as faithful as God nor is it possible to out-give Him.  But He blesses and appreciates my effort.

The second part of the scripture above – “You did not even do the minimum” – really struck me.  At a minimum, God wants us to take note of all He’s done for us.  At a minimum, God wants us to say thank you, to give Him the worship and honor and glory and praise that He’s due.  At a minimum, He wants us to at least look around, consider how our lives could be and praise Him like the God who has saved our raggedy behinds time after time after time.  Like the God who made ways out of no way.  Who healed us.  Saved us. Protects Us. Calls us.  Anoints and appoints us.  AT A MINIMUM.  Doesn’t that God – that all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God – deserve the best worship we can give Him?   And not our sloppy seconds.  I’m guilty.  Thinking I’m going to stay up for a few minutes longer to get my prayer and Bible time in after I’ve given my best and my all to my job, my kids, my husband, my house, and my own interests.

How dare I?  I have not been giving God the minimum of what He’s due.

Lord, I repent.  I am so sorry.  Please forgive me.

***

This post isn’t for everyone.  I know that.  But I believe that there is someone like me who finds themselves weighed down with all the “stuff” in their lives: responsibilities, desires, wants, needs, even God-given dreams and visions.  And we’re in a place where those things are now so all-consuming that even though we desire to get back to God, we don’t know the way back.  We feel stuck, overwhelmed with a reality we no longer recognize or want.

If that’s you, know that the only things you need to do to reclaim the joy and peace that is rightfully ours through Christ Jesus are to repent for your selfish thoughts; receive God’s forgiveness; refocus on what He’s done (count your blessings! — perhaps literally!); and start giving God the worship and honor and praise that He’s due.

Period.

He’s a good God.  He won’t hold it against us that we got lost, that we ended up in this “It’s All About Me” wasteland.  And He won’t change His BIGGER, BETTER plans for us either.  He’ll just keep loving us, blessing us, protecting us, and being the awesome God that He is.

We can praise that, can’t we?  At a minimum?

I decided this morning, when I emerged from my prayer closet, that I’m taking back the joy and the peace that is mine.  I’m shifting my focus from me to others and am committed to thanking God with each breath I take through my actions, thoughts and words.

He’s just that good.

It’s the least I can do.