Leap of Faith Prayer Call June 9

If you missed last night’s Leap of Faith Prayer Call for Women, the second in our five-week series, you can listen to the recording by using the credentials below:
Playback Number: (641) 715-3589
Access Code: 859-866
Reference Number: 2
And many thanks to all who stuck with us even after the technical difficulties. On the recording, you’ll hear a long silent period where I was evidently praying alone.  Stick with it; I unmute myself and pray aloud after that, lol. To God be the glory forever!
Here’s an excerpt of the devotional I shared:
I know in my heart and soul that each of you is pregnant with purpose, with new ideas, businesses, and genius. It’s why you’re on this call: to agree with other likeminded women that your “next” is coming soon, now even.
But just like in our natural lives, there’s no delivery without pushing. You can’t get all that God’s placed in you out until you push it out.
Now pushing in labor is both external and internal. It’s you doing your best on the inside and external forces ensuring everything is in the right position on the outside.
In labor, sometimes the doctor has to put his or her hands on you to turn some things around and line some things up. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but you endure, you grin and bear it because the potential and the promise of what’s just on the other side of your pain gives your pain a purpose. It makes it palatable.
But even after the Doctor has you in position and is ready for the delivery plan to move forward, you’ve still got to do your part. You’ve got to push that thing out to truly give it life.
In church, I believe many of us are familiar with this acronym for “push”: pray until something happens. But tonight, I’m going to encourage you to change that up a bit and do four things to get to your breakthrough.
1. PRAY until something happens.
2. PLAN until something happens.
3. PRAISE until something happens.
4. And then PREVISION until something happens.
Pray. Pray until something happens. You won’t now how to get where God has predestined for you to get unless and until you ask Him. Prayer is your direct line to God. Call Him up. The Bible actually says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we should pray without ceasing.  That simply means we should be talking to God all the time about every thing.  The shortest and fastest route between you and your breakthrough is through Him.
Plan. Plan until something happens. When we’re waiting for God to bring forth our breakthrough, we need to be actively waiting; not just twiddling our thumbs. When we pray believing that we’ll receive, we can also begin to ask God what His plan is for how we should responsibly steward that blessing. What good is a blessing if we don’t know how He wants us to be blessed by it?  It’s integral that we ask Him for and then begin to write out His plan for our next season.
Praise. Praise until something happens. Another way that we wait actively and in faith is by praising God. Praising Him for what He’s already done, for who He is, and what He’s promised us. Praise chases away rain clouds and doubt. Praise is the soundtrack to your push. Praise demonstrates your perception of just how powerful your God is. In fact 2 Chronicles 2:22 tells us that praise confuses our enemy.  So get to shouting!
And finally Prevision. Prevision until something happens. Prevision means to see before.  You’ve gotta see yourself already there: already in the new job; already running your own business; already doing your thing. This is fundamental to our walk with Christ; akin to the definition of faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for; evidence of things unseen. If you can’t see it, then your faith is not yet aligned with God’s will, and you may not be ready.
Look, we’ve already established last week that you are strong — much stronger than anything the enemy can throw at you and any circumstance you might find yourself in.
But tonight I want you to know that not only are you strong, you are powerful. Through the blood of Christ you’ve been given the authority to make things happen in your life and the lives of those around you.
Are you tired of waiting for your turn? Tired of wondering when it’ll be your time? I’m here to tell you definitively that it IS your time and your turn. And if you’re ready and you want to birth the great, God-given desires and ideas planted in you, then all you’ve gotta do is PUSH. Pray, plan, praise, and Prevision until something happens in your life.
Tell that mountain to move and you continue move forward with the Lord!

Dealing With Disappointment

Some of you may remember that last Thursday I finally brought to fruition a God idea nearly a year in the making.

But what no one knows (save my husband and my Mama) is that the day before my big event was bookmarked with disappointment.

The day started with me receiving word that I had not won a Chase Mission Main Street small business grant for my small business.

Disappointed is an understatement for how I felt. I felt abandoned, alone, angry, sad and overwhelmed all at once.

Just like that, the way I thought God was going to move in my life had changed. And I was left with the overwhelming heaviness of the reality of my situation. My goals for my business, the debt my family had amassed supporting my business, they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I cried a lot that morning. I couldn’t sleep I was so grief-stricken. And when I got into the shower, I broke down. The tears and the anger and the hurt all flowed freely. I was overcome.

But somehow, mid-rant, I found myself humming this song: “Lord You are good and your mercy endureth forever. Lord You are good and your mercy endureth forever!…I worship you! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”

Even now, a week later, I remember clearly the puzzled look that crept across my face when I realized the dichotomy of the moment: here I am sobbing into the shower stream on the outside, but my Spirit was praising God.

The reality is that nowhere does God say we won’t be disappointed. Similarly, nowhere does He say we aren’t allowed to feel, to have emotional, human responses to the changes in our lives.

So even as our flesh mourns, if we stay prayed up, our Spirit will minister to us…even without out participation.

In fact, as I reflect now, I smile at the thought of a scripture that the Lord brought me to in my devotion.  It was Job talking, chapter 13, verse 15a: “God may kill me, but I will trust Him…”  That’s how I felt in that shower, ranting about how sad and disappointed I was.  Reminding God of His word and His promises.  (He’d later – much more politely, I might add – remind me that HOW He plans to fulfill the promises of His word is none of my business.  My only responsibility is to believe and expect that He will.)

The corresponding disappointment bookmark came later that Thursday evening. My day ended with my best subcontractor giving me 30 days notice. She’d gotten a job offer for a job that was perfect for her and where she wanted to go. For months, I’d been praying that God would enable me to hire her full-time. But, it wasn’t to be.

But I didn’t take this second spate of news as hard as I’d taken the morning news. And the reason why is because in between the two events I stumbled across the Feels Like Home blog; specifically this entry on 13 Bible Verses and 6 Steps to Deal with Disappointment.

Here’s the part that pulled me out of my pity party and put my day in perspective, directly from the blog:

13 Bible Verses & 6 Steps to Overcome Disappointment

Believe in God’s plan. Our God is a miracle worker. He can part waters, move boulders, heal the dead (not just the sick, remember, the dead), save, destroy, bless, and curse. He can do anything, everything, things beyond our comprehension.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

When I say you have to believe, I mean you have to believe that God has got this thing in His hands. He is looking out for you. He is working out a plan that is bigger than you, and you are going to be better for it in the end.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes, it takes a painful disappointment to teach us a skill or strengthen our faith or to put us in the right place at the right time. We don’t know His ways or His thoughts. We just have to believe in His promise.

Grieve. Things have not gone the way you wanted. Your hopes and expectations have been defeated. You need to spend some quiet time being sad, mourning the way you thought things would be.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Cry. Exercise. Read. Do whatever it is that releases the sadness, the disappointment, the defeat.

And then, eventually, you have to stop grieving and move on.

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

Disappointment is not meant to define you, my friend. It is not meant to hold you hostage or weigh you down into the mire of depression. Don’t give it that power.

Pray. You had to know this was coming, right? Spend some time talking to your Heavenly Father. Tell Him your heartache. Tell Him about the plans you had and ask Him to show you why He’s taken them away. I promise you that He has good in this for you, and it’s okay to ask Him what that good is.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

Talk to Him like you’d talk to your best friend. Your prayer doesn’t have to be pretty or sound like one at your church. It just has to be honest and come from your heart.

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalm 55:22

You, my friend, are the godly. You are chasing after God, trying to do the right thing, seeking a better understanding of Him. Aren’t you? He’s talking about you.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Listen and wait. Big things happen when we pray. Sometimes, they are blessings beyond our expectations.

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:6

Sometimes they happen right away, but usually they happen later when we least expect them. Keep waiting. You’ll know when your prayer has been answered.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalms 27:14

Search for the good. This is a miserable time to try to be thankful. I don’t know about you, but all I want to do is wallow in self pity of my dreams deferred (or dreams lost). This is the time when it’s hardest – and most important – to find the good, grab onto it with both hands, and celebrate it. You need to.

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

In beginning this post in the middle of the night, I came to understand that it wouldn’t have happened if my plans had worked out. I wouldn’t have been sleeping fitfully. I wouldn’t have jumped out of bed to write these words. It was God’s plan for me to write these words. (It has been an incredibly soothing and cathartic process). It is also His plan for you to be reading them right now. I am thankful that He chose me.

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19b-20

Believe in yourself. You too are part of God’s great plan. He is preparing you to do His work right now, even in this time of disappointment. No matter what burden comes, know that He will help you stand underneath it, carry it up the hill, and triumph over it in the end.*

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

God believes in you. You may not feel equipped to handle this on your own, but He’ll give you what you need to get through it.

For I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

*The triumph doesn’t always happen when we think it should. Sometimes, we only triumph over our struggles as we leave this broken world. A conversation I had with my pastor illustrates this point:

“Tara, God will heal her.”

“I just don’t know that He will. She is so sick. She hardly gets out of bed.”

“He is going to heal her. He might heal her body now, or He might heal her soul in heaven, but you can trust Him to heal her.”

Wow. The simplicity and immensity of that statement left me with many tears but complete peace. We can trust Him to defeat our disappointment, no matter what it is.

Look, I don’t know where your disappointment lies.

Maybe it’s in a relationship that ended, or never took off. A professional opportunity that passed you by. Or a personal dream that has yet to come to fruition.

Whatever it is, I hope these passages encourage you. No matter how disappointed we feel, nothing has changed with God: He’s still just as in love with us; just as dedicated to our success and peace and joy; just as committed to giving us “hope and a future.”

Sometimes, just sometimes, we have to go through the disappointment to get closer to our destiny.

Because sometimes the thing we really wanted wasn’t God’s best for us. And what is yet to come is infinitely better.

Sufficiency

Last year, God gave me an idea. It was a way for me to use what I have to bless others.

Well, tomorrow that GOD idea (way better than good) comes to fruition, but not without some work on my part in the days leading up.

Last Wednesday was my big go day to make this thing happen. I was working on my event, managing my employees’ progress on separate accounts, and doing research for two clients. All while trying to be present with my husband as we worked out at the gym, and with my children as I took them to and from swim lessons.

It was a lot. To say the least. And there were moments throughout the day when I clearly remembered thinking, “I’m doing too much.” I combatted those thoughts and fought back feelings of being overwhelmed by making myself acknowledge how blessed I was to have such freedom, and by reciting that my God is not a God of confusion.

But as I pondered how crazy the day felt later in the evening, I was led to 2 Corinthians 12:

Of course, I am now referring to the wonderful things I saw. One of Satan’s angels was sent to make me suffer terribly, so that I would not feel too proud. Three times I begged the Lord to make this suffering go away. But he replied, “My gift of undeserved grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am. Yes, I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for Christ. Because when I am weak, I am strong. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12‬:‭7-10‬ CEV)

The passage immediately made me smile and say “Yessss!” It was an instantaneous response to my unspoken query of how I’d managed to get everything done.

I know you’ve been there. Ripping and running with a to-do list as long as your arm. And at random times along the trajectory of your day you think or say or feel like you’re one new email notification from losing it all.

But this passage is an encouragement to each of us every time we experience one of those chaotic days. God’s grace is sufficient.

There is one very well-know definition of grace that we likely all know: God’s unmerited favor. It’s receiving blessings and favor from God that you and I could never earn, don’t deserve, and can never repay.

But in my quiet time I stumbled upon this new definition that is so aptly described here in 2 Corinthians: the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

Yessss!

It is when it seems all hell is breaking loose around us that God’s grace is sufficient. Not only is the knowledge of a love so deep that it gives without ceasing enough to put things in perspective and give one peace, but then the inner dwelling of God’s divine strength pushing us through the chaos when our own ability is long gone also gives us peace.

It’s like, no matter which definition you use, God’s grace is enough to get you through your hard time.

No matter what you’re feeling, His grace is enough.

No matter what you’ve done, His grace is enough.

No matter where you’ve been or who you are, God’s grace is enough and all you need.

I reflect now on how crazy last Wednesday felt for me and am grateful not just that I made it, but more specifically for God’s grace that pulled me through.

When the children were alternately bickering, crying, and whining…

When my wi-if failed just after I hit send on a critical email…

When I was 15 minutes late leaving the house…

When our car began to act a fool mid-commute…

Each time, having the knowledge of God’s unmerited favor and love in my life kept things in perspective and kept me from losing it.

And each time, His spirit operating in me gave me just a little patience more…a little faith more…a little strength more to accomplish everything He needed me to that day.

And now I’m on the eve of my big GOD event. No, every ticket isn’t sold. And no, I’m not certain that everything will go as I’ve planned. But I know that I’m operating in His will, and as long as I work as in service to Him, His will will be done and His grace will be enough to make it the success HE needs it to be — not me.

I’m so grateful for His grace. I’m so grateful for Jesus. I’m so in awe of God. And truly, His grace is sufficient for every situation I face in life.

What are you facing right now? Have you told yourself that His grace is sufficient?

Unbowed

As time does, today finds us acknowledging that time has swiftly passed.

It seems as though it was just summer…just autumn…just Christmas. And now, we’re embarking on a brand new year.

For a lot of folks, the New Year is filled with the hope of what’s to come. There’s so much possibility in the coming days, weeks and months. I’m excited, too.

But what I feel in addition to excitement is a renewed confidence. A belief that no matter what comes or what the future holds, God brought me this far. I know He won’t leave me.

Much like the line from “Invictus,” we’ve made it “bloodied but unbowed.”

Last year was hard for so many. Folks lost loved ones and jobs. They fought physical, spiritual and mental illnesses. They sacrificed, nearly succumbing to hell all around them.

So while many are facing this new year with excitement and optimism, there are a great many still who are simply relieved. Those who are glad to be done with a year that tested and tried us — our patience, our faith, our fortitude.

We were bent to near breaking last year. We often felt as though we cried more than we smiled. Worried more than we hoped. Fought more than we simply lived.

We struggled and scratched and clawed through layoffs and loss, debt and depression, sadness and sacrifice. We prayed and pursued. We protested and proclaimed. We worked and waited.

Many of us made it to 2015 only by the grace of God. And we’re relieved just to have made it.

If this is you. If all you feel about 2015 so far is relief that 2014 is over, know this: you made it.

The storms that the enemy thought would take you out only made you stronger. The traps the devil meant to harm you only catapulted you forward with more focus and greater determination. What would have literally caused someone else to lose their mind motivated you to keep going, to not give up.

And you’re here, standing at the dawn of a new year. Bloodied, but unbowed. Bent, but unbroken. A little weary, but still a battle-ready warrior.

To you I say own your stripes. There’s a courage, a confidence, and a determination that comes with overcoming. Yours is a testimony no one else can give because they haven’t walked in your shoes, haven’t fought the battles you’ve won.

To you I say stand tall and proud. Because while others were too busy wishing away their todays hoping for tomorrows, you lived and breathed every moment — the good, the bad and the unbearable.

To you I say don’t shrink back. Don’t be so overcome with relief that you forget the strength, the faith, and the resilience your trials earned you. Yes, you may be bloodied, but you remain unbowed.

To you I say this is a new day. A day ordained for your victory; predestined for your triumph.

This day. This week. This year is a year of restoration for you.

God saw every test, every trial, and every tear. He heard every prayer and every plea. And for you He has worked in the background to bless you in the open.

Time will not slow down. It won’t ease because we’re tired or overwhelmed or overcome. But it is the knowledge of what we’ve already been through – and beat! – that spurs us on in our weakest moments.

My prayer for you is that even as you make resolutions, that you’ll also make it a point to count your blessings and your wins. In all of your forward thinking, look back long enough to claim your hard-earned strength and faith and fight.

Own your stripes, your bruises. And honor the important parts of the “old” you in this new year.

Bloodied, but unbowed. Bruised, but unbroken. And blessed in spite of it all.

*A version of this post appeared on The Huffington Post yesterday.  You can check it out here.

My Balanced Plate Post: Wearing “God Goggles” and Waiting with Purpose

How many time have you heard/been told/told someone to just, “let go and let God”?

It’s a well-used colloquialism.  Christian-ese meant to help us restore our peace about a situation by trusting in God.

Well let me ease your mind: sometimes it feels impossible to let God.

Everything we see reminds us how far away we are from what we’re dreaming of, trusting for, believing God to deliver.

Overdrawn bank accounts tell us we’ll never start that business.  Office gossip and haters tell us we’ll never get that promotion.  Your credit report tell you your never get that new house.  And the balance on your credit cards tells you you’ll never be the lender, not the borrower that Bible speaks of.

If this sounds like you and you could use some encouragement holding fast to your God-given dreams and praying like it depends on God but working like it depends on you, then head on over to My Balanced Plate and check out two of my guest posts over there.

Part One: Don’t Wear Rose-Colored Glasses; Wear God Goggles!

Part Two: God Gave Me a Dream…Now What?

I pray they bless you!  And comment below if you want some specific advice or prayer for your specific challenge.

Brokenness

glass__lucent_heart_by_raingarden

I had an experience last week that I’ve shared pretty widely on my personal social media channels, but whose impact was/is so profound on me that I wanted to share with you all.

glass__lucent_heart_by_raingardenI have three children, two daughters (5- and almost-4-years-old) and a son who is 2.  Last week, my younger daughter ended up getting glasses quite unexpectedly.  As a result, my husband and I thought it best if we have her older sister checked out, too.  Just to be safe, y’know?

Neither girl had ever complained of eye or head issues.  Teachers never perceived challenges seeing the board or things across the room.  And the girls themselves never mentioned not being able to see or having issues seeing.

So imagine my surprise when my oldest daughter tested with a vision of 130/20 in one of her eyes.  (For comparison’s sake, healthy, non-impaired vision for young children is about 30/20. )  The other eye saw nearly perfectly and has been compensating for this weaker eye for her entire life.

I sat stunned as my daughter’s exam continued.  Even the doctor, assistant, and later the eyeglass provider remarked at how remarkably vast the difference was in her two eyes, and how unbelievable it was that she’d never complained.

My daughter would end the night sporting brand new purple specs.  I would still be thinking about the experience days later.

That stuck with me was this idea that what the world would deem as inoperable, no good, legally blind, or some other trite categorization God had blessed to be perfect.

With the vision my daughter has in her weaker eye, it is truly a miracle that she doesn’t have many more scrapes, bumps, bruises and injuries.  But because of the power of God, to touch an imperfect thing, she’s seeing as close to 20/20 as a child can.

We all have broken places in our lives.  Relationships that left us wounded and scarred.  Bad experiences and past mistakes that have broken our faith, our expectation and motivation.

But God wants to give us peace for our pieces.  He wants to put back together that which the world would say is beyond saving, beyond repairing, beyond earthly good.

God specializes in taking all of our nothingness and making it something.  He is a master at perfecting the imperfect and blessing the unbelievable.

You may think that your situation is too far gone.  The debt is too high.  Your income is too low.  You’ve been hurt too many times; abused too many times.  You’ve made too many bad choices, too many wrong decisions.  You might even believe that now, because of all you’ve been through, you’re no good to anyone.  You’ll never be loved.  You’ll never get promoted.  You’ll never see increase.  You’ll never know peace.  That child will never come home.  That spouse will never act right.

Whatever your never is, I urge you to give it all to God.  The Bible urges us to cast our cares on Him once and for all because He cares for us passionately.

Give all of your broken places and pieces to the one Potter who can put them all together again.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been walking through life feeling victimized and handicapped.  Perhaps you, like my daughter, have only known one way, one view on life.  You’ve only every known setbacks, let-downs and disappointments.

If you’ll keep walking the path He has for you with joy and gratitude, letting Him have all that you have, He’ll give you perfection.  He’ll give you clarity.  He’ll give you vision.  He’ll give you all the tools you need to walk into a new season with Him and for Him.

You are enough just the way you; broken pieces and all.  And it matter not whether the world sees it or says it.  Heck, it doesn’t even matter whether you see it.  All that matters is that you believe that God sees perfection in you His imperfect being.  And it’s His heart’s desire that you experience abundance – divine perfection and clarity – in every area of your life.

***

My daughter loves her glasses .  She loves the color and how she looks in them.  She doesn’t quite understand why she needed them – she’d always been OK with how she was seeing.  But isn’t just like God to show us better when we can show him that we’re grateful for all we already have?

Seek God for the blessing in your brokenness.  There’s one there, if you’d just give the pieces over to Him.

More Than Thankful

Last week was Thanksgiving and it was a wonderful time.

Surrounded by friends, family – immediate, extended and distant – I was swathed in visual reminders of just how blessed I am.

But I find that today, a full week after the food, festivities and fellowship have ended, I am still meditating on this theme of being thankful.

As I drove to Thanksgiving dinner with my husband and children, the Lord challenged me to move from a place of simple thankfulness to one of appreciation.

You see, the typical definition of thankful is to be pleased.  Whereas, the definition of appreciation is to show gratitude.

I believe that one of milestones in our walks with Christ is to move from a place of simply being pleased and/or relieved by the blessings and favor He showers on us, to being appreciative – grateful for it all and, dare I say, gleaning a lesson from the good, the bad, the indifferent and the downright ugly.

Yes, I am thankful to God for my family and friends.  For every smile of my children and kiss from my husband.  I’m grateful for our home and all of the material blessings God’s afforded us.  I’m grateful for employment, for passion and a vision to fulfill the purpose God has created and is calling me to fulfill.

But I appreciate every disagreement I have with my husband because it challenges me to grow in love.

I appreciate every tear and tantrum from my children because it demands I walk in patience.

I appreciate every time my bank account was empty or even (dare I be real?) overdrawn, because it forced me to learn better stewardship and reminded me of my true Source.

I appreciate every person who told me I wasn’t good enough, because it demanded that I return to what God told me to do.

I appreciate every setback, every hurry-up-and-wait on the road to this season in my career, because it taught to me to trust God’s plan.

I appreciate every negative word spoken about me and/or to me, because it meant I had to rely on who God says I am.

I appreciate every phone call I made that went unanswered, because it challenged me to call on the Lord.

I appreciate every difficult decision and mistake that I’ve made, because they forced me to seek God and His plan for me.

Why, you ask?  How is that so?  How can I be equally grateful for the “good” and the “bad”?

Well, because for me, this time, living in this season of thankful appreciation, is a confirmation of what the word says in Roman 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.

Know this.  I can’t speak for you.  And I am by no means knocking your thankfulness but I am challenging you to look thank about being thankful in a broader sense.

Aggressively find your silver lining.  Proactively seek out the blessing in your mess.

Not simply because it’s a good habit or because it will grow your faith, but because I believe this is how God has called us to live; this is how we exemplify that we are in this world but not of it.  Through out outlook, our perspective.

As the holiday season continues, I pray that you will continue to be shown reasons to be both thankful and appreciative, and that you bless God for them both.

Meditate on this…

YouTube video courtesy of Gregory Slack

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?

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