Friday, March 24, 2017

Great Expectations

Philippians 4:19English Standard Version (ESV)

19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

The Lord wants us to have relationship with others, but He wants us to put our relationship with Him first above all others. When we do this, we experience much more balanced and rich relationship then when we place people on a pedestal. To place unfair and unbalanced expectations on people you are growing relationship with can be very devastating to the relationship. 

For example; if a wife places her husband above Christ in her life, she will be very disappointing. The expectations she is placing on her husband are unfair and unhealthy if she is expecting him to be her Christ (idolizing the relationship or the man). When we expect people to fit standards only God can, we find ourselves let down in the long run. This is not to say that it is unhealthy to desire your husband to be the godly man who leads you and loves you as Christ loved the church; but it is to say that you should be Christ focused with a husband the points you to Jesus. A godly husband is not to be confused with God. We are all human and you can't expect a man to do what only God can; satisfy a longing soul. Being content in the Lord and seeking Him as your everything will flow into your other relationships; especially your marriage. 

When we expect a human to meet our every need (as we did when we were babies and reliant on our caretaker), we will be let down. We can not have a human be our all in all. That is why it is so important to let God be our caretaker as we are babes in Christ. Sure, the Lord uses people to help meet our needs (husbands included), but the recognition that it is God through them and not them alone is crucial to balance in the relationship. 

We can often sink into this trap without even realizing it. The devil creeps in or we think we have it straight... then boom... your husband leaves you for another woman and you find yourself lost and falling apart; a victim of your circumstance. I'm not saying it's not natural to be sad, grieve the loss, or be angry and upset. Don't make decisions out of emotions. Also, it's okay to have standards and goals! If someone let you down and you are feeling hurt and confused, those are natural emotions tied to such a crisis. It's how we work through it and handle the situation that makes the difference. One who has their foundation in Christ can rise above the situation because they recognize their true All in All and Meeter of Needs is God and God alone. 

This also can be applied in family and friendships. We often latch on to friends or family members as expect them to be our everything. I often call my Dad when I need guidance and my Mother when I need comfort. I usually call my Grandmother or mentor when it comes to spiritual matters. These are the people God blessed me with... but they are not my God. You bet your buttered biscuits I try to remember to pray before I make any phone calls. I pray for the Lord to tell me who He wants me to discuss the matter with, if I am to even discuss it at all. He uses these people in my life to minister to me and meet my needs; but I recognize it is God through them doing that. God wants us to rely on Him for everything. I think of it as I'm walking, Jesus by my side, I am looking over and asking Him what to do and why and where to go. I imagine Him smiling at me, as a Father with a curious child full of questions does, as He takes my hand to move forward. He helps me navigate the journey of life, and He is absolutely all I need. No human can fill the spot meant for God. It's not fair to the human and it really prevents you from walking in your full inheritance. Don't short change yourself.

Lord God, Adonay,

I praise Your holy name and thank you for your provision. Thank you for being the solid foundation I need in my life. Thank you for being my everything in a world full of disappointment. Help me to be fully satisfied in you Lord; help me to feel the joy that only comes from knowing You! Help me to be fair to those I am in relationship with. Help me keep my heart in check so that I do not end up idolizing a person or relationship above You Lord. I am truly grateful for You and I love You for who You are. You are enough for me and so much more than I deserve. 

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The One Who Owes the Most

Luke 7:36-50NIV

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

See also Matthew 26: 6-13 and Mark 14: 3-9*


Just take that story in for a moment. From a Pharisee mindset, it would have probably seemed like a very awkward and inappropriate scene. A street walker, comes into a party unwelcome... Everything stops and gets quiet... Whispers ensue as the audacious woman kneels at Jesus' feet and rips the Alabaster box off of the cord around her neck, she breaks a bottle of expensive and potent fragrance (pure nard*) beside his feet; sobbing as she pours out the precious perfume on them; mingling the liquid with her tears and wiping them off the with her beautiful tresses...
Eyebrows raise... no one speaks... then Simon breaks the silence...
"What on earth..."
No my friend... heavenly places is where this scene makes sense... Not earth. This story is so beautiful from a Jesus mindset...
Jesus compares this occurrence to debtors who owe a moneylender. What a great way to explain what was happening as the baffled audience watched with confusion on their faces...
Those who owe the most seem to understand Jesus' love from a unique perspective. 
I'm not by any means saying that just because some of us, by the hand of God, who were lifted to Jesus from a deeper, dirtier hole, that we love Jesus more. We are all equal in His love. I'm just saying there are different perspectives to appreciate as we study the work of God. My mind can't even wrap around the fact that Jesus has a unique and intimate relationship with each of us. He knows us.
My growing up and coming to Jesus may be very different from someone else's. No one is any better than anyone else in God's eyes. There is something lovely about someone who is raised up in the church and are blessed with a family who knows and teaches them about God. Some of us were in the dark. Regardless... by the glorious power of Jesus, no matter where we came from or where we stray, we are never too far from the arm of God. He can snatch us back to himself from anywhere. Some of us can relate to Mary of Bethany... 
Some of us came to Jesus desperate, broken, and lost. We didn't come to him in the perfect circumstance from the world's perspective... but we came to Him... which is what He wants us to do. Regardless of where we find Him. It's often the times we come to Jesus is when we are at the end of ourselves. This woman took the most valuable thing she had (out of the little she had) and willingly and boldly gushed it over the road-dusted feet of Jesus... Holding nothing back from Him. She had a past of trying to satisfy a longing in her spirit with all the wrong things. Filth to the world, but precious in the eyes of Jesus, she had finally found the One who would satisfy and save her. 
If you found out the secret to fill the emptiness you've had for years was somewhere in town at a party... I bet you'd barge in and fall on your knees, gasping for air in between sobs of joyful weeping... at the feet of the answer you'd been so desperately searching for. 
I knew all the wrong answers... I found out the hard way by trying to fill the God sized spot in my heart with all the wrong things. It caused much self-inflicted pain, suffering, grief, and heartache. But in my brokenness is when I saw the love of Jesus, and I knew I had found the one I'd been searching for. 
So from Mary's example, we see the steps to an intimate relationship with Jesus.
First...
Come to Him unashamed, keep nothing from Him...
Run to Him and find Him, no matter what. Even if it means crashing a party...
Second...
Come to Him with all you have, everything that you are, hold nothing back. Be broken before Him...
Just like the alabaster box.
Third...
Give Him the best of yourself, lay absolutely everything out at the feet of Jesus,
Pour into your relationship with Him, giving it your all. Going all in no matter what it costs. 
And what does Jesus do after this woman's seemingly odd favor?
He forgives her of her sins... Everything... All of it. Lifted off of her shoulders.
He saved her.
He saved me.
He can surely save you if He hasn't already.
Lord God, my Savior, My All in All,
I come to you, sinful and unworthy. I know I don't deserve, yet I still receive. I am the least, I give all I have to you. My best; I hold nothing back. Thank you for saving me. I desire an intimate relationship with You and I am unashamed.
In Jesus' name I pray,
Amen

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Confirm... Don't Conform.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 NIV

Confirm, Don't conform. Our God did not create us with a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

When the Holy Spirit resides in your heart and you fine tune your intimate relationship with God, you become familiar with God's desires because He places them in your soul. When I started growing in my faith, I began to react differently.

I used to desire to be accepted by people and what they thought of me. I used to want to fit in. If a girl at school made an ugly comment about something I was wearing, I'd be that girl that made sure I never wore that shirt again... at least anywhere she might see me in it. Like anywhere in town or on the outskirts of the town the school was in.

My reaction was to conform. My decisions were fear driven. Based out of the fear of what others think. This entailed way more then my wardrobe (even though I shouldn't worry about that too much either... Matthew 6:25). My whole life had been submitted to the world because I thought that is what I was supposed to do. I was watching the wrong people, listening to the wrong advice, and depending on the world to guide me instead of the Word.

Now I have realized if I look to God for all the things I used to look to the world for... I will be able to tell what is right and what is wrong. I'd be able to be healthy spiritually, physically, and emotionally. My Father tells me if I look to Him and stay focused, the rest will be added to me (Matthew 6:33). I'd be able to call out the devil and his schemes. Instead of bending to the darkness and squirming around shadows, I'd be able to walk boldly wherever my Father called, and light would pour out before my feet even hit the path. And when I do the right thing, it may not be widely accepted by the world.

If I hit a hard place on my Christian walk when I believe I'm following Jesus, I look for confirmation now instead of instantly conforming to prevent any confrontation or criticism. I used to immediately back down and mold myself to whatever would smooth out the snag. I knew how to work the world. I knew what I had to say, do and look like to avoid many confrontations or hard situations. But I didn't grow when I did that.

God said we would be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).

When the renewing of our mind starts happening after we have received salvation and are working through our sanctification, we start to hit more snags. The devil bucks up and takes notice of a child of God awakening from the comatose of the world.

I can imagine what the devil might have said when my dry bones came alive after I was reborn...

"Crap... I was really hoping I could at least get that one into her forties without realizing the call God has for her. She is gonna give me a run for my money. I already have so much to do... Ugh!!! I'll just send some spirits after her. They will get her all muddled up and maybe slow down her sanctification. That girl won't know up from down and right from wrong when I'm done messing with her... *cue maniacal laugh*

Okay... maybe he wasn't that dramatic... but you get the point.

As I learn God's Word I desire confirmation despite the rocky road I find it on instead of backing down and taking the less resistant path.

Morale of the story is... As you grow in God's Word and focus on Him, you will be able to discern what is from Him and what is not from Him. You will know what is right and what is wrong. As you become more spiritually fit, you will be able to K/O the devil's attempts to set you off track and bring you back to the sleepy coma from whence you came... That would keep you quiet and he'd have once less warrior of God to worry about. So when something seems weird, hard, or scares the crap out of you, look over to your Abba and say "Is this where I go... Is this what you want?" and He will be able to comfort you and fill you with His peace through confirmation. The Word being written in you (Proverbs 7:3, Deuteronomy 11:18) helps the Holy Spirit answer those questions as you walk with the Lord, so immerse yourself in it daily and crave it like you are starved.

Lord, my Abba,

Direct my steps. Help me hide Your Word in my heart and write it in every corner of my mind. Let me know what you want from me and give me the strength and courage to obey. When I am scared, be my protector. When I am weak, show Your strength. You call me daughter and it floods my heart with joy; what greater love could there be? The Lord of all, Master of the Universe, has adopted me and promised me an inheritance. Help me to ask for confirmation from You Lord instead of backing down in fear by conformity. Lord God, You are my comfort and peace. What in this world should I fear when I have you by my side all the time. You told me you will never forsake me and I believe it with all that I am. Thank you for all the blessing you shower on me. Continue to keep me on track to becoming the woman of God you desire me to be. In your precious name I pray, Amen. 



Thursday, June 23, 2016

You Are Worth It

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

How often we forget our worth. God loved us so much that He gave His one and only Son as a living sacrifice, to bear all of our sins, and die for us. God turned His face away from the Son, forsake Him, left Him completely alone under the weight of our transgressions (See John 3:16)…
What a love our Lord Almighty has for us. We are so blessed to have life to live. But we have trials and attacks on our hope in this world. Satan is looking for an opportunity to take you out at the knees so that you can’t follow Jesus the way He intended you too. The devil is out to keep you from glorifying God and we must prepare for battle daily (see Ephesians 6:10-18).
Why is any of this relevant to the verse above? Tell me you know that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that you feel that way all the time. It is unlikely. We struggle with insecurities and spiritual attacks that keep us from believing that God loves us and values us. We are His children and He made us how we are, in His image (See Genesis 1:27). We have to believe the verse above after all He has done for us. Yet still we struggle… It is a daily battle for me as well. I had a friend that once told me that every time we think negatively about ourselves, we are putting Jesus back on the cross. That really put it in perspective for me. Now I am able to crash my self-pity parties pretty quickly, because I know the Word is the truth.
So don’t forget Who made you, and what He has done for you. You are more precious than rubies (See Proverbs 3:15, Proverbs 8:11)
Who are you to say God made a mistake when He made you? All we can to is just try to walk closer to Him every day. No person, place, or thing, is comparable to the love of Christ. Same goes for determining your worth. No one besides God can tell you your worth and value. The devil is alive and will try to tell you otherwise, but cling to the truth.


Lord God, I come before you, asking that you remind me that You are the only one who can say what I am worth. I ask that you continue to grow me up in your Word so that I may stand against the devil and his attempts to tell me otherwise. I pray that my mind and heart are protected by your love and strength. I pray that You help me to discern what is designed to take me out so that I may avoid it. I pray You direct my steps and help me walk boldly for You. I love you Lord, and I love it when You tell me I am fearfully and wonderfully made. In Jesus sweet and powerful name I pray, Amen.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Let It Go

 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)

You know that feeling you get when you are praying… and it is like you knew you had to pray those specific words?
I had that feeling this morning. I kneeled in my closet and begged God to forgive me, to comfort me, to love on me, to help me do His will.
That’s the thing… I knew that was the whole point of what I was going through. To bring me to my knees, and ask God for help. He already knew I was coming to Him about it, He even knew the words that were going to come out of my mouth. My patient Father… waiting expectantly for me. This was the first time I had gone to Him before my earthly father about such matters… especially matters of the heart…
Ever since I started praying God’s will, the Spirit has spoken to me about it not always being rainbows and roses. This is where my maturity really has grown…
When I pray for things, now I pray for them and end with, “If it is Your will Lord”. That is something I just recently learned. After finding out the hard way that I don’t always pray for what I need, I pray selfishly sometimes. This helps prevent me from some unnecessary missteps.
I see that His will is sometimes hard to get through. It is best, but not always easy. It is what we need, but not necessarily what I want. But it shapes me and matures me, I grow each time.
I also started praying to be used by God. This was also a misconception I had before the Spirit spoke to my heart on this. I will be used by God, I need to submit to Him and admit I need Him in order for me to be used for His works while I am here on the earth.
When I first started praying this I noticed that I was being used by God, but not in the narrow-minded and limited thinking way that I had expected. He uses me for others, sometimes for their hard lessons. Sometimes I experience rejection and judgement because of the things I am supposed to say to people. The way I am used is not always painless. I have a soft heart. If I speak something to someone for the Lord and they reject me, stop talking to me, or end a relationship because of it, I have to be comforted knowing God will work on that individual, that I did my job, and I have to trust the God knows what He is doing.
This is how limited my thinking was. I believed every relationship, including friendships, were a start to finish deal. Meaning, if I started the relationship, the end of its purpose would be a scheduled matter. They might move away, we might have families now, we may have drifted off with communication and only talk a few times a month… These relationships are God designed, these soul meetings that have purpose, but they aren’t planned by us, we just kind of have to ask God what we are to do in them. They don’t always ride out how we thought they would, or close up nice like the end of a movie. We literally are sometimes just supposed to be a glimpse of God in their lives that they may recall years later and see your purpose or the relationship’s purpose in their life.
We might be a fleeting memory, we might meet them again later down the road. Ultimately, relationships are important in God’s work, but they are not planned by us. We have to be open to the Spirit’s guiding.
I recently had to let go of a friend that I didn’t want to let go of. God demanded it and I didn’t listen and follow His guidance willingly, so I made it more painful and drew it out longer than necessary. I don’t like to let go. But I have to let go and let God. He literally tells me what I have to do, yet I still hold on, making it harder for Him to do His work. He really does much better work and He has all the resources in the Universe. Why do I try to resist?

Abba, Lord my God… I am broken, my Prince of Peace. I am disappointed that I constantly let you down. Please Lord, whatever I am holding on to that I need to give to You, please take it from me! I desire Your Will Lord. It is You I am here for, not myself. I know that You love the brokenhearted Lord. I want to be a vessel for Your light to shine through. Please break me for Your will Lord, and comfort me through the hard parts. Keep me encouraged Lord. I know that what hurts now is out of love and for my good, even though it does not seem like it in this moment. Lord, remove my doubt, help me to trust You, and Your plan, because you have so many great things in store for me that I cannot even imagine. In Jesus’ sweet and Holy name I pray, Amen.   

Check out this poem my Titus 2 Mentor told me about, 


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Remember Why You Are Here

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV- “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
So, we get caught up in life… I get it. It happens to all of us. We really find ourselves lost in the desert sometimes… caught up in work, school, chores… What are we really here for?
This life is temporary… which is why it is important to remember what we are here for… Who we are here for… What we are here to do…
Colossians 3:2- “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Paul reminds the church that we need to have an “eternal” perspective on life. We need to make sure we remind ourselves daily of our higher calling.
So when you find yourself wrapped up in life, remember to stop and pull back and observe your situation.
Katie my roommate brought up a great point the other day. She asked, “What have you been doing as a Christian?”
This was a tough question for me to answer. I wanted to say, “I attend church, life group, and I study the bible… Isn’t that enough?”
But the more I thought about it, I truly began to realize what she was asking. What am I doing in my community? What am I doing for my neighbors to love on them? What am I doing to reach others and create disciples? These were the type of questions I needed to ask myself.
I am here for Him, not for myself. It is important I spend my time with Him and grow in a personal relationship with Him; but I need to remember why I am here. I am here to serve. He died so I could live. I want to be a vessel; I want Him to use me. I have to be available for Him to do that.

Lord, I ask that you help me be more aware of my temporary time on earth and more focused on my eternal calling. Please help me to push myself out of the way so there can be more of You shining through me. Help me to remember I am here for you, to serve. Help me be more like Jesus and follow His example. Thank you Lord for the opportunities I am given daily to serve You and fulfill Your calling on my life. In Jesus’ precious and sweet name I pray… Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Don't Expect, Just Look

A normal and boring day right? Nothing special about it… Can’t wait for it to be over!
Well, if you are so busy waiting for it to be over, you may miss opportunities that God gives you as you go through your day.
We get so goal oriented sometimes that we forget to pay attention to what God is doing in the moment. We start to see things as the world sees them. Normal… Bland… Boring…
But life and our daily walk contains so much beauty… it just often goes unnoticed.
Ever heard the saying, “Take time to stop and smell the roses”? Well, do that! It doesn’t have to be roses… Any flower will do. But we often are no Spirit led. If we are Spirit led, we are more likely to see the beauty in our day to day lives.
My favorite verse for remembering this is Proverbs 2:3-6.
Proverbs 2:3-6
New International Version (NIV)
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

If we look for God’s hand in our day, we will find He will be there. His hand is in everything. I have had some days that I feel were made just for me. The whole day carried on as if I was being cared for and looked after every moment. The days I need encouragement I find it. How we see His hand is beyond our understanding and we need to be sure not to place expectations and limitations on our God. If I need something or want something I don’t have an expectation in my mind much anymore. I just keep my mind and heart open to receiving what I need or want in anyway and at anytime the Lord provides. He always provides… Just not always in the way I expect. Which is why I have tried to stop expecting. Expecting is not trusting God to know what is best for you. So I encourage you to stop expecting things and just start asking for them. Our minds are so limited… God doesn’t play by our rules and expectations… He knows what is best for us.