Smile

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

I almost let the devil win. I have been spiritually, mentally and physically bogged down by a trial that I am going through and that it is showing on my face. 

I’ve lost my smile. I felt like if I smiled that I was content with the situation. 

But this morning I practiced smiling. It felt strange at first and then it felt so good! Hallelujah! Trouble doesn’t last always so I’m counting it all joy. 

I Called…

“And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” ~1 John 5:15

…and God answered. Today I feel so triumphant. This morning on the drive to work I prayed specifically that God would use me to help someone. 
 After making some copies during my prep period, I was headed to my room when a student called out to me. I didn’t hesitate when she beckoned me over, but I wasn’t sure she meant me. I did not know the girl. Iheaded her direction and saw that she had a friend with her who was crying. She explained her friend’s dilemma so I invited them to my room. 

I won’t go into detail, but let’s just saw I received the opportunity to serve as well as glorify God. 

Hallelujah! 

I don’t know why I am so in awe that God knows what is going on with me, cares and hears. But I tell you, I was almost in tears. My road has been a tough one. 

As if to confirm that He is indeed listening to me, I received this email today: 


I requested to be prayed for a few months ago. How timely this was for me. I was beyond overjoyed! And thankful that He hears! 

From Saul to Paul

“Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him.” ~Acts 13:9


Saint Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna

God is in the transformation business. Your beginning does not have to be your end. We see this made manifest in the life of Paul. Paul began his life as a persecutor of Christians. He was known as Saul of Tarsus before he was handpicked by God to be His apostle. At this time in his life, he had no regard, reverence or love for Christians. Saul watched the stoning death of the martyr Stephen and held the garments of the ones hurling stones. 

He was a devout Jew who had permission from the High Priest to persecute anyone professing that Jesus was the Chosen One. Saul says:

“I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.”Acts 22:3-5

It wasn’t until that faithful day on Damascus Road that Saul encountered the Prince of peace in a personal way. The bright light and the voice of the Savior caused him to fall to his feet, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me? ~Acts 9:4 

Persecution of His people was persecution of Him. Saul answered humbly and submitted himself and asked what he should do. He was told to rise and go into the city. This act of obedience left him blind. There he met Ananais who was rightfully afraid as Saul’s reputation preceded him. Also instructed by the Lord, he too obeyed and healed Saul of his temporary blindness. 

Although Saul was well versed in the Bible, he did not believe that Jesus was the anointed Messiah. After the fateful encounter, he dedicated his life to the Great Commission and  traveled to synagogues all across the region to deliver the Good News. Because he was a Hebrew who held Roman citizenship, he was able to speak  with confidence to both the Jews and Greeks and therefore was able to reach more people.  

Throughout his life Paul suffered many trials but continued to press on and fight the good fight of faith despite being imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, flogged, stoned, faced death a myriad of times, battled his own flesh, was often hungry, thirsty and cold-yet he never allowed any of it to prevent him from serving the Lord. Even when the Lord elected not to remove the thorn from his side, he continued on. He felt it an honor to be weak as it showed the strength of the Lord. “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 1 Corinthians 12:9

At the end of his life Paul was content knowing his reward. He spent the remainder of his life working tirelessly for the Kingdom. He had written 14 of the 27 epistles in the New Testsment, lead an innumerable amount of people to Christ, enlisted others to teach about Christ, created the theological framework of justification by faith and lead an exemplary life of faith. He had done all he was called to do and knew his time of death was at hand. “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”~2 Timothy 4-6 

Through his life we learn that God can use anyone. Each and every one of us matter to God. We are never beyond redemption. We also learn that anyone can be a witness for Christ if they are willing to be transformed and made anew. 

Paul was willing and even counted his sufferings all joy. “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” ~Philippians 1:12-14). His transformation was complete. Can you say the same? 

RIP

“And because of his glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. ” ~2 Peter 1:4

This morning I woke up with my mother on my mind and felt heavy hearted. Coincidently,  Mother’s Day is in four days. 

However, before I could become too consumed with gloom, God put the thought RIP in my mind. 

Most of us are aware that RIP stands for “rest in peace” and is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase Requiescat in pace. 

But today God graciously gave me a new meaning and replaced rest in peace with rest in promise. Thus there is no reason to be sad when I can infinitely hope in the Lord. 

The Bible says that “the dead know nothing” Ecclesiates 9:6  which is true. But our omniscient, unchanging, constant God “cannot lie” and is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8. With this knowledge we can be assured that even in death, His promises remain the same for us. Hallelujah! This revelation brought so much joy to my heart I almost shouted! 

Psalm 37:25 says “…Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken” thus death has “no sting” or victory in the face of God and His word which can never return void. 

May my precious mother continue to RIP until “the Lord Himself comes down from heaven!” ~1 Thessalonians 4:16

He Who Finds

“He who findeth a wife, findeth a good thing.” Proverbs 18:22

Many women are frustrated at their single status. But in my humble opinion, most are approaching marriage wrong. The book of Proverbs clearly says “He who FINDETH a wife…” That means that it is not up to the woman to locate a husband. Thus the man must do the searching and procuring. 

And when we do go looking and find, what we do land is usually not worthy of us. We are cautioned not to throw our pearls before swine for a reason. This pattern is repeated over and over-searching and finding with terrible results. 

A godly man who is actively pursuing a wife is guided by the Lord. A woman looking for a husband is often guided by loneliness, fear, a biological time clock, financial stability or all of the above. You can end up with unnecessary heartache when you are unequally yoked-trust me on this one. 

In the meanwhile, ladies, are you worth finding? Are you a Proverbs 31 woman? If the answer is no, it would be wise of you to redeem the time and develop yourself in order to be a worthy wife. Every woman with the title is qualified or deserving. Marriage is a holy institution of God and should be approached with reverence. 

Our Father has a future and a hope for us all. If He put it in your heart to be a wife, it will happen. He already knows whose rib you were fashioned from. He knows whose “helpmate”He designed you to be. 

Remember, there is beauty in every stage of life, even singlehood. You can be used by God like no other time before. Embrace the gift. And before you know it, you will be found by your God ordained mate. 

Testimony Tuesday

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” ~Isaiah 58:8

Today’s testimony is two part. I posted a prayer for myself on the  virtual “Prayer Wall” at my boss’s church.  I was so delighted and humbled to receive several responses to my request: 

  
 

After leaving the grocery store earlier, I remembered I had a coupon for Family Christian and today was the last day I could use it. No titles immediately caught my eye but I was determined to buy something. I halfheartedly picked up a few books and continued browsing the same shelf for the second time when I came across this one: 

  
Instantly intrigued, I flipped through the contents. I hadn’t planned on buying two titles but I just couldn’t put it down. I looked on the shelf but that was the only one. I felt like God put it there just for me. I certainly had not seen it the first time. 

I started reading it shortly after getting home and felt so electrified and Spirit filled! I truly believe God will be speaking to me through its pages-Hallelujah at the goodness of the Lord! 

He Loves Me

“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere” ~James 3:17, NIV

God spoke to me today via one of my church members. He knows that I have a heavy burden pressing on my heart and sent this message to comfort me. 

I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around and received this note: 

 It reads ” For you this week “Peace Be Still.” Well, God Himself might as well have penned it! I felt so grateful and emotional. If I may be candid for a moment, I still struggle with the notion of how much God loves me. I don’t deserve it yet He is still crazy faithful and loves me with an everlasting love. 

My God. 

Father, how grateful I am that you have found me worthy of your favor, mercy, and lovingkindness.  You know everything about me-even down to the amount of hairs that I have on my head, and yet you love me anyway. I thank you Father for seeing my pain and wanting to provide comfort. I thank You for Your compassion. I thank You for this message that I know was from You. Thank you for using such a sweet lady to send it. Thank You for Your reassuring Word Abba. In the healing blood of the Lamb, Amen. 

 

In Spirit and Truth

“But the hour is coming, and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

Today’s church service was different than anything I’ve ever experienced before. I came expecting to receive a word from our Father, and I suppose I did in an unusual way. 

We had a guest today, Vicki Yohe. She sang three beautiful praise songs.

  But after she finished, it wasn’t followed by preaching as I expected. Vicki stated she felt God wanted her to tell us that the spirit of true worship wasn’t found at our church. I can’t really explain what took place next but we spent more than 90 minutes in worship. No sermon, just worship. 

I am not good at worshipping God as I’ve never really known exactly what it entails. When I think of worshipping God, I think of believing in Him and declaring Him as King of my life. But worship is a verb, it’s something that you do. 

I am a “quiet” parishioner. Even though I cry often, the tears are usually silent. When I lift my hands, I lift them low. I’ve never spoken in tongues, danced, or ran around the sanctuary. I don’t know why but I suppose it’s because I don’t want to draw attention to myself.

Today I didn’t care.

Like many in the congregation I had to be guided.   Without prompting I took the broken vessel that I am straight to the Master Potter. I am believing God for one of His promises and I am willing to wrestle with Him to receive it! I felt so stripped bare of my facade of strength, so vulnerable, so transparent. Exhausted. Humbled. I seriously think I had a spiritual nervous nervous breakdown today. Life has been severely testing me with one trial after another. All of the years I’ve spent running from God, all the rejection, pain, and low self worth I’ve  ever felt, the good and bad I’ve done in my life came racing to mind. Today I couldn’t deny the fact that I can’t do a SINGLE thing outside of Jehovah God. It was frightening and liberating at the same time.  One of Dr. Charles Stanley’s life principles is to “fight all your battles on your knees” because we “stand tallest and strongest on our knees.”

So I fell down on my knees at the feet of the Lord. I took all of my woes with me and cried unto Him until I could cry no more. I thanked Him. I praised Him. I gave Him the glory He so rightly deserves. “Nobody greater…” 

Thankfully I had my good friend right next to me because she literally had to help me get up, lol. Our pastor acknowledged that the church has not done a good job teaching the Body of Christ how to worship. I know I have a lot to learn as I know we are supposed to worship Him in spirit and truth. I am looking forward to worshipping Him the way I am supposed to! Hallelujah! Amen!

After Winter

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1

After winter, must come spring. Change comes eventually” ~Lauryn Hill.

For the last 12 years or so I have been in a winter season. Despite being born during a major blizzard, I do not readily embrace it.

Even though I know that winter is a time for hibernating, renewing, strengthening, and preparing, it can be difficult to see better days ahead. Although David was anointed king at the tender age of 16, he spent the 14 years following his anointing running from Saul. It was during this time that the Psalms were birthed. Reading David’s laments, we know how unbearable winter seasons can be.  “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice,” he says in Psalm 55:17. But we also know that trouble doesn’t last.”He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalm 40:2).


Take heart. The hoary head of snow soon melts. The grass morphs from brown to green. The birds return from the south. The sun smiles again. We have visible signs of hope that a change is on the horizon.

But how do we endure in the meanwhile when the air is still polar, the nights long, and the landscape of our lives are seemingly barren? I think the answer that has evaded me my entire life is a simple one. We are to HOPE. This revelation has only come to me in the past year. Prior to this, I spent the time waiting being afraid, disillusioned, angry, and bitter. I didn’t have enough faith to BELIEVE God would get me through. I was fearful that He wouldn’t do for me what He has done for countless others. I concentrated more on the problem instead of focusing on He who is greater than any problem known to man. He’s seen it all. Nothing that we go through is a surprise to Him. He only wants to see how we handle that challenges that bombard our lives. Will we ask for His new morning mercies daily? Will we lean not to our own understanding? Will we be still? Will we wait on Him? Or will we succumb to the desire to do it our way? Will we resist the thorn that adorns the beautiful rose? Will we decline the growth that is sure to come if we just hold on?

I now know that this winter is not in vein. He is not punishing or refusing to help me. He is growing me for something greater later. God is using it to build my character. When He is ready, deliverance will come.

Patience is not my best quality and I  constantly wonder when my relief come. Some days I feel like the speaker in the Kanye West song Stronger “I need you to hurry up now/Cause I can’t wait much longer/I know I got to be right now/Cause I can’t get much wronger./” I want to plead my case for deliverance to the Highest Judge in life’s earthly court.  I need Him to know that I am not righteous like Job, steadfast as David, dedicated like Ruth, or obedient like Noah. Some days I beg or bargain for relief. I am not as strong as You think, I want to scream.

So what’s a girl to do? Here are a few things that keep me going:

1. Seeking God: I do this by reading the Bible, listening to sermons while I am doing chores, attending church, reading Christian books and devotionals, and listening to praise music.

2. Connecting With Positive People: I have cut out many negative people out of my life. I interact with those who will not judge and will keep me uplifted. Though they may admonish me, I know it  out of agape love.

3. Focusing On The Good: The Bible says “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

4. Encouraging Others: I truly love encouraging others. It makes me realize that I am not the only one with problems. And it makes me feel good to be good to others as God has called us to do.

5. Recalling Past Victories: I’ve survived many things and I can only attribute it to the grace of God. It certainly wasn’t by my hand or strength. If He’s done it once, He’ll do it again as long as I continue to fight and faint not.

I would love to hear how you wait in the comment section below.

You Are What You Think

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23.7

When I was growing up, there was a nutrition campaign aimed toward kids to eat healthy. “You are what you eat, from your head down to your feet” was the slogan. I strongly believe that this same train of thought can be applied to your thinking as well because you ARE what you think. 

I know from experience that it is difficult to control your thoughts. Trying to do so often feels like being on enemy ground. So when I have a negative thought about myself, I counter it by stating the exact opposite. I’m also relying on God to correct my wrong thinking because just like the heart, the mind , too has to be guarded.

We have to shift the focus away from self and instead concentrate on “… whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” 

It’s extremely powerful to think good thoughts about yourself. This makes you more inclined to think positively of others and situations as well. 

Furthermore, God did not design us to have defeated thoughts about ourselves. This is actually a form of pride. We were made in His image and to think that something is wrong with us, is to think something is wrong with Him. And if He is flawed, then He can’t possibly be trusted to do what He has promised-right? 

Sometimes we have to change the way we think of God in order to “see” ourselves in Him and to view us the way He does. “For His thoughts are not our thoughts.”He holds us in such regard that He sacrificed His only son for us. Yes, you and you and you. Even me.  The Lord does not examine us with the same microscope we use on ourselves, “For His ways are not our ways.”Through his kaleidoscopic lense, he is able to see and create something magnificent with the broken pieces of our lives. 

And you only have to believe.