Labor Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video: Keyondra Frederick YouTube

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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!

 

Who’s Fighting?

Ephesians 6:13 says this in the NLT version:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nope.

It says do all you can and then stand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t be Ungrateful

This week, I was convicted…for being ungrateful.

Here’s the deal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And please, don’t be ungrateful.

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

Devotional: You Made It!

Have you guys ever heard the song “I Made it Through” by Tye Tribbett and G.A.

It is one of my favorite songs of his.  It really connects with me because I’ve thought so many of the  lyrics before.

The first part of the song goes like this:


I thought that I would not survive
I came this close to losing my mind
Sometimes you go through things in life
That makes you say, “Lord why me this time? “

He’s so faithful
He keeps making ways
Out of no way
Just when I thought that I could
Take no more
I made it through

Now I KNOW I’ve got someone reading this who can relate.  You  know, when you reach that point that you think, “If one more thing happens to me, I just might lose it.  If one more person comes at me the wrong way.  If one more person looks at me the wrong way.  If my boss says one more thing to me.  If one more person cuts me off in traffic.  Just one more…”

We’ve all been there.  But you know where I think we go wrong?  You know where I think we end up getting off track?  It’s because we get caught up looking at and focusing on all the things going wrong.  So much so that we lose sight of how much we’ve already overcome.

I mean truly, sometimes we feel like we’re going through hell.  One storm after another.  One trial after another.  But guess what, in order to go through a new one, you had to overcome the last one.

I need someone who can get in their spirit right now that yeah, you may be going through, but you can only go through because you’ve come through something else.

You don’t get to fight new foes without beating previous opponents.  You can’t face new challenges without beating the older ones.  The devil can’t come back if you hadn’t defeated and dismissed him before.

I don’t have to spell it out for you.  You can think back over your life and probably point out by name the challneges, the storms, the fights you’ve overcome.  But guess what: you’re still here.

The devil thought he had you.  He thought he’d thrown his best at you.  He thought you were down for the count.  He thought you didn’t have any strength left or faith left or fight left.

BUT GOD…

Yeah, yeah.  The devil was smug with it, proud of what he thought he’d accomplished.  He wasn’t expecting you to come through it, he wasn’t expecting you to make it.  He wants to take you out of here and rob you of the future and the promise God’s placed in you.  He wants to steal your joy, kill you faith, and destroy your future.

BUT GOD…

BUT, because of the strength and power and faithfulness of God, you made it through.

You made it through.

You made it through.

YOU MADE IT.

And it shouldn’t come as a surprise either!  Romans chapter 8 verses 35-37 tell us that we should expect to overcome.  It says:
Romans 8:35-37

New International Version (NIV)

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

BABY, YOU MADE IT!  It doesn’t matter what it looked like.  It doesn’t matter what should have happened.  It doesn’t matter what could have happened.  The bottom line is that you made it.

Listen to the second half of that Tye Tribbett song I was telling you about:


So many nights I had to cry
So many storm clouds I lost sight
I felt like giving up the fight
Never thought I would see daylight

He’s so faithful
He keeps making ways
Out of no way

He’s so faithful
Just when I thought that I could
Take no more
I made it

I made it through

 

Look, I don’t care what you’re going through.  I don’t care what you’re facing or what you’re just coming out of, get this: it doesn’t matter whether you ran across the finish line, you jogged, you walked, you crawled, you dragged yourself, had a friend pull you across, or whatever.  The bottom line – the most important part of the journey – is that you made it.

Plain and simple.

Now I know you all don’t speak the same language of music that I do, so I’ll leave you with this.

In one of my favorite movies of all time, “The Color Puprle,” Miss Celie finally works up the courage and the strength to leave Mister.  And after Mister confronts her and threatens her, the camera follows her in the back of the car driving down the driveway.  And she shouts these words back to her abusive, oppressive, disrespectful husband:


I’m poor, black, I might even be ugly, but dear God, I’m here. I’m here.

YOU’RE HERE!  In spite of it all, you made it and you’re here.

The Church Mothers used to sing, “When I look back over my life/And I think things over/I can truly say that I’ve been blessed/I’ve got a testimony.”

Baby, you can’t have a testimony without a test.  Don’t downplay your journey.  Don’t undermine your overcoming.  Don’t rob God of the glory He’s due for bringing you through.

With the Lord leading you and on your side, you’ve beat the devil many times before and you’ll do it again.

You made it.  You will make it.  YOU CANNOT LOSE!

Someone oughta bless God for that!  Hallelujah Lord, I thank you that I’m here!

DEVOTIONAL: Mind Your Mouth

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

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

No, our tools of building are our words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We really must mind our mouths.

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

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

***

There’s an old hymn that goes like this:

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Refrain:

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

all other ground is sinking sand;

all other ground is sinking sand.

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

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

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

Luke 6:45 (NLT)

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

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

 

DEVOTIONAL: E.W.F Teaches Us Devotion

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

Thru devotion, blessed are the children

Praise the teacher, that brings true love to many

Your devotion, opens all life’s treasures

And deliverance, from the fruits of evil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devotion to good will thwart the enemy.

Devotion to God overcomes every weapon of the enemy.

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

Devotion.

Earth, Wind and Fire go on to say:

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

Let the sun shine, a smile your way.

Open your heart, feel a touch of devotion.

Maybe this song, will help uplift your day.

Make a better way

You need devotion

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

Don’t just live. Thrive.

Don’t just do, do with passion.

You, I, WE need devotion.

Devotional: Where Is Your Faith?

When I was growing up I remember a commercial that would come on television every night.  It was a simple commercial that frankly asked, “It’s 8 o’clock.  Do you know where your children are?”

Now I cannot remember the imagery that accompanied that ad, but the ad itself is prominent in my memory.  The idea that every family, every parent, every child could reach a point at which it was necessary to check-in, to do a status check.  That fascinated me.

And then on top of that, to know that other parents and other kids were hearing the same commercial down the street, the next neighborhood over, heck, even in the next state.

That commercial for me signified the importance of contact, of following up, of checking in, of knowing where you – or your kids – stood before…

Before something bad happened, before it was too late, before someone else asked you.  Whatever the “before” was, it always felt like this short question gave parents the opportunity to step away from whatever they were doing and take stock.

You know, as I think about it more I’m led to ask you this question: It’s prayer time.  Do you know where your faith is?

The Reverend James Cleveland asked the very same question years before I was born in a song I heard a lot growing up:

Say you’ve been sick? Tell me about it. And you think you can’t
get well
Where is your faith? Where is your faith in– God?

Say you’re in trouble? Tell me about it. And you’re going to court next week
Where is your faith? Where is your faith in– God?

Say you’re out of work? Tell me about it. And all your bills are due
Where is your faith? Where is your faith in– God?

Say you’ve got a habit? Tell me about it. Think you’re hooked and can’t get free
Where is your faith? Where is your faith in– God?

Say you’re out of money? Tell me about it. And you’re down to your last dime
Where is your faith? Where is your faith in– God? 

***

Last year, Pastor Keith Battle at Zion Church did a series called “In God We Trust.”  Over a series of weeks he walked us through identifying the error in some of our ways, the mistake that is trusting in other people, places and things.

See, it is so easy to begin putting our faith in other people and things.  We trust our bosses and our spouses.  We put our faith in plans and big ideas.  We put our faith in our cars, ourselves.  But what we really need to do is put and keep our faith in God.

The oft-quoted Proverbs 3:5 comes to mind now.  It says, “Lean not to your own understandings.  But in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.”

So, I’ll ask again: it’s prayer time.  Do you know where you faith is?

What? Your faith is in check?  OK, then maybe I should ask you like this…

The bills are due; do you know where your faith is?

The doctor said there’s no more he can do; do you know where your faith is?

You’ve submitted that job application; do you know where your faith is?

You’re waiting for your mortgage or rent application to be approved, do you know where your faith is?

You’ve got to ring out at the grocery store; do you know where your faith is?

Your gas tank is nearly empty and it’s only Tuesday, do you know where your faith is?

You just received more bad news; do you know where your faith is?

That great opportunity fell through; do you know where your faith is?

You’re still waiting for your husband or wife; do you know where your faith is?

Your kids can’t get right; do you know where your faith is?

Your friends can’t be found and you’ve gotta talk to someone, do you know where your faith is?

Your loved one is gone; do you know where your faith is?

They’re giving you hell at work; do you know where your faith is?

You’re getting hell at home; do you know where your faith is?

Your problems are so bad that they’re following you to bed, showing up in your dreams. It’s bedtime; do you know where your faith is?

Look, the reality is that no matter what time it is for you in your life right now – no matter what you’re waiting for or what miracle you stand in need of – now is the time to check your faith and check-in with God.

My grandmother’s church used to say it like this.  They’d say,

“My faith is built on nothing less, but Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.”

Look I don’t know what time it is in your life.

I don’t know if you’re just entering a storm, riding through one, or at the midnight hour.  But what I do know is  no matter your circumstances, no matter your situation, now is the time to make sure your faith is anchored in Christ Jesus.

Don’t trust in other people.  Don’t try to fix it yourself with your own plans.  But give it over to God.

What time is it for you?  And where is your faith?