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Mountains and Valleys

Many of us have read or heard of the very popular Bible passage Psalm 23, where David talks about God being his Shepherd, how he leads him beside still waters and restores his soul.  One part of this verse stirs something deep within my heart in verse 4.

Psalm 23:4 ESV

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]  I will fear no evil, for you are with me;  your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Have you ever had a season in your life you didn’t want to be in, where you asked God, “Why am I here?”  “What am I doing in this place?”  With fists clenched, heels digging in the ground, telling God, “I don’t want to be here!”  Sounds like the valley of the shadow of death is one of those places.  Other versions of this verse also read valley of darkness or death.

What do you think David saw when he walked through the valley of darkness?

The valley David refers to in this verse is a valley in the desert of Judah.  Anyone who walks through this valley is putting themselves at risk of encountering anything lurking in the darkness, wildlife, bandits, even a random flash flood.

What strikes me, David is walking through the valley where there is a shadow of death.  Where there was a lot of unknowns surrounding him.  Anything could attack or happen to him at any moment.  Yet, he didn’t run away from the darkness, he didn’t take a different route, he walks right through it.

Do you think David knew he was going to walk through a valley of death?

I think many of us would have turned around if we knew what lied ahead.  We always wonder why God doesn’t share details with us.  If we really knew, we wouldn’t go where God was asking us to go.  David then says in response to walking in the valley, “I will fear no evil, you’re rod and staff comfort me.”  David knew even if he was in the valley he was safe and protected because God was with him every step of the way.

In Everybody Always, Bob Goff talks about fighter pilots who train in the valleys in between the mountains.  When asked why do they train at lower elevations where winds can get them, their response was, ‘so we can get better.’

God isn't always going to lead us to the safest route forward but to the one where we will grow the most. God knows without risk we wouldn't grow #quote @BobGoff #EverybodyAlwaysClick To Tweet

David knew walking through the valley would be hard.  But he also knew in the valley is where he learned to depend on and trust in God the most.  Walking through the valley will be dark and seem like God is far away.  When we trust in what God is able to do and not in what we see, He walks us safely to the other side every time.

It is so easy to praise God when we’re standing on the mountain but not always so easy when we’re deep in the valleys.

Imagine what would happen if we took the same approach as David?  If we faced our fears, our darkness and walked through them, depending on God for our guidance and comfort when we’re afraid?

In the valley is where we grow the most and receive the sweetest most unexpected victories when we trust God to walk us to the other side of our darkness.

Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

God goes and prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  God doesn’t promise we won’t have to walk through our valleys in the absence of our enemies, but in their presence.  As our enemies surround us God our Shepherd, the master of provision provides for us everything we need in the midst of our battles.

The enemies in our lives are powerless over us when we praise him in our darkness–when we push through holding onto God’s hand, when we trust and don’t know how everything will turn out.  God’s generosity of mercy and grace then overflows in us, all the days of our lives and we will dwell in his house forever (Psalm 23:6).  In God’s house lies a sanctuary of peace and love like none other that sets us free from the fears of any darkness.

The next time fear gets the best of you, allow God to be your Shepherd leading you through your dark valleys.  Pray Psalm 23 over your situation.  Close your eyes and follow the voice of the Shepherd.  Trust in Him, take His hand, He knows the way.

A voice cries:[a]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 40:3-5

What season are you in?

How do you allow God to lead you through your valley?

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Praying Through Blind spots

When I was a teenager I endured an eye injury which left permanent damage. As a result, I have a huge deficit in my peripheral vision, leaving me with a permanent blind spot. When I’m driving I’m extra cautious of this blind spot for fear that I may not see oncoming cars because of my deficit.

My physical blind spot makes me think are there other blind spots in my life I’m not aware of?

The funny thing about blind spots, is we can’t see them—then how do we detect them?

One person in the Bible reminds me what can happen if we allow blind spots to go undetected.

King David a man who went from a shepherd boy to warrior, to a commander, to a king—had a huge blind spot. David was known for his tremendous faith in God and had everything he could have ever wanted, wives, power, a kingdom, wealth, victories, a palace, even the anointing of God (1 Sam. 16:13).

David was at the top of his game, at the peak of his career and in favor with God—“What could go wrong?”

These are the times when blind spots can get the best of us.

In 2 Samuel 11:2, David merely got up in the night, walked around on his roof probably just to get some fresh air, when he saw a beautiful woman bathing. David was so intrigued by this woman he sent someone to inquire about her to find out her name was Bathsheba and was married to Uriah one of his commanders. He then sent a messenger to get her, she came to him and he slept with her (2 Sam. 11:3-4).

Needless to say, David had a huge blind spot in his life. His blind spot didn’t allow him to see he was flirting with seduction that brought him to the edge of a very slippery slope.

In that one action of inquiring about Bathsheba, David’s lustful blindspot caused him to commit adultery, lie, cover up his lie by murdering Bathsheba’s husband and stealing someone else’s wife. He ended up breaking 4 out of the 10 commandments and displeased the Lord (2 Sam. 11:27).

We can only speculate, but what if David at that moment he saw Bathsheba stopped to pray before responding out of his lustful desires? I think his situation would have been drastically different.

David eventually asked for forgiveness but not until God sent the Prophet Nathan to talk some sense into him (2 Sam 12:1,13). Nathan used a striking parable about a rich and poor man to reveal the atrocity of David’s actions (2 Sam. 12:1-5). It wasn’t until Nathan spoke the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) to David that his eyes were open to his secretive evil deeds and shed light on his blind spot.

Can you imagine the amount of courage it took Nathan to boldly come before King David, one of the most powerful men at the time?

Nathan could have been killed for being so bold. Nathan knew David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14) who had a blind spot. But God gave Nathan the wisdom to use the parable to lovingly speak the truth to David, so his blindspot wouldn’t destroy him again.

Our blind spots leave a door open for the enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, to get into our lives (1 Peter 5:8).

Like David, we too can fall victim to our blind spots if we’re not careful.Click To Tweet

How can we detect blindspots?

By seeking God in prayer and asking Him to reveal our blind spots.

By allowing others to speak the truth in love into our lives—so our blind spots can be brought to our attention.

We may not be able to see our blind spots, but God can. Our blind spots help us to constantly seek him for guidance and lead us straight on our paths.

Are there blind spots in your life?

We all have blind spots. Some of us might have blind spots in our finances, with self-control or in how we treat others. They may not all be the same but it is a part of our human nature not to be able to see everything that God sees. When we can’t see, God is the light on our paths.

Do you have a Nathan in your life that you allow to speak the truth into your life?

I am afraid of where my blindspots can lead me if I don’t let others bring them to my attention. To stay alert and aware I ask God to reveal any blind spots and if there is anything in my life that is getting in the way of God. I ask Him to expose and my blind spots making them visible with His light—so that everything that is illuminated becomes a light” (Eph. 5:13).

Imagine if David didn’t allow Nathan to bring his blind spot to his attention?

I love how David allowed Nathan to speak truth into his life and didn’t allow his blindspot cause his downfall again. He surrendered it all to God and turned his sorrow into praise. God then used David to be apart of his greatest plan ever—the bloodline to Jesus.

I also love how David dedicated the rest of his life to prayer by writing the most poetic prayers in the Psalms. I can’t help to think when David wrote Psalms 86 he was referring to the moment that almost destroyed him.

A prayer from David.

“Lord you are forgiving and good abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer Lord: listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.” (Psalms 86:5-6,11-13)

Lord Jesus, please expose our blind spots with your light, so they don’t cause us to stand on slippery slopes. Help us to keep seeking you for discernment and wisdom when making choices and decisions. Help us to allow others to speak the truth in love into our lives. Help us to stay in your will and plan for our lives so we aren’t flirting with disaster. You are greater and able to see so much more than we can. Help us to trust in you even when we can’t see. We praise you, Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.

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5 Ways God Equips Us to Go From Victim to Victor

Most Everyone has seen the movie Hunger Games.  The Most highlighted sentence on Kindle in the Hunger Game series of books is, “How can we expect to go in this world prepared if we are not equipped with what we need?”

Exactly.

It all comes down to, Preparedness;  being equipped with the right tools to be in a position of readiness.  Having the right tools will make us go from not just being a Survivor or a Victim but becoming a Victor.  Nothing Tells the story of Preparedness better than David and Goliath.

In the story of David and Goliath, a war had come upon Israel.  For 4o days a giant named Goliath came out in full armor, to fight the Israelites.  No one would fight him because they were afraid.  One day David came from the fields where he was tending sheep to bring his brothers’ lunch.  David wondered why was no one fighting?  David was just a teenager at the time, the youngest of all his brothers.  He told King Saul he would fight the giant.

Can you imagine what everyone was thinking, how can a boy defeat a giant?

David then went out wearing no armor just his tunic, carrying only his rock sling and a bag of 5 small smooth rocks.  Doesn’t sound like he was very prepared does it?  David swung his sling around with one rock in it and flung it exactly to the only exposed area on Goliath’s forehead.  Goliath fell to the ground and the rest is history.

David didn’t become another Victim he became a Victor.  

Not everyone can slay a giant and become a hero like David did.  The reason David was a Victor and not a Victim, because God Equipped and Prepared him.  He made him ready for battle.  He gave David everything he needed to win.

David had

  • A Willing obedient heart from God

  • God’s strength

  • People encouraging him

  • The Plan God gave him

  • Courageous Faith

David didn’t have any military training, he didn’t have a sword, armor or any other battle equipment to defeat Goliath, he just had what God intended him to use;  His sling and His Faith.   The rock sling seemed to be an unlikely choice to slay a giant, but sometimes God’s plans don’t always make sense.

 5 Ways God Equips Us to go From Victim to Victor:
1.  KnowledgeProverbs 2:6 “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  Knowledge is Power.  The More we learn the more we grow.  Seek the Experts for Advice.  There is no one better expert than God.  He has provided us with the most powerful resource in the world;  The Bible.  Staying in the Word, reading our Bible daily, equips and provides for all of our needs.  Ask God, ‘please equip me with the knowledge to have a heart of understanding and wisdom to make good choices for 2018.’

2.  Strength–  2 Corinthians 12:9 “My strength is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Our weakness is God’s opportunity to display his strength.  We grow in our weaknesses.  When we step out in faith, even in our weakness, God will use it to transform it into His strength.  God will use our trials and struggles, to develop more perseverance and endurance.  Ask God, ‘help me to trust in you and step out in faith even in my weakness.’  He will use our struggles for something better, I promise.

3.  Encouragers–  Thessalonians 5:11 “Encourage one another and build each other up.”  Everyone needs someone to motivate them, push them to their upper limits.  No pain no gain.  Ask God to be surrounded with encouragers who can help motivate and help reach your goals.  God is your biggest fan you can always turn to him.

4.  A Plan–  Every adequately prepared person has a plan. Good thing God is in the plan making business.  When we live in the plan God has for our life, we are living in the best plan ever.  How to Make a Successful Plan for 2018

5.  Prayer Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.”  Pray for God for help to equip you with the knowledge you need, for strength, encouraging people and to live in the plan God desires for you.

We may feel like we are facing a giant.  For 40 days no one stood up to fight Goliath because they were fearful.  They were fearful of his size, fearful of losing and fearful they may die.  The difference between the Israelites and David is he had Faith.

God will Slay our Giants if we Let Him. He will equip and prepare us for what we needClick To Tweet 

So How does one go from Victim to Victor?

When we allow God to equip us with the right tools so we will be prepared for the plan he has for us.  I promise, when we allow for God’s plans we will always be victorious.  Our goals will never be achieved if we are not prepared.  We wouldn’t jump off a boat in the middle of the ocean without a preserver just like we wouldn’t take a test without studying.

God has designed us to be VICTORIOUS!  For us to be a Victor and not a Victim!

How are you Preparing Yourself for the New Year?

Will you continue to allow your Giants to bully you?

 Or Will You Allow God’s Plan to be your Plan for Your New Year?

We don’t always have to understand God’s plan, we just need faith like David, so God can carry out his plan through us.  You are loved!

“For those who Hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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May your New Year be Filled Abundantly more with God’s Blessings of Love, Joy, Peace and Freedom! I would love to hear from you!  Leave Your Comments Below.


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The Struggle is Real

The other day I was sitting in Sunday school class and the pastor asked us questions about storms we go through as couples.  Couples raised their hands and said they had struggles with finances, loss of a job, unexpected sickness, a baby born were some of their responses.  Our pastor then asked, “How many couples have had a miscarriage or lost a baby?”  A surprising amount of us raised our hands.  No one would have ever known by looking at the couples in the room, that we had these deep struggles.  
There are so many of us that go through struggles in life that we keep hidden and in the dark. Many of us walk around with smiles on our faces but in reality, there are deep struggles going on inside.  
Some of us may have struggles that are hard to even admit.  They might be something we are ashamed of or the enemy has whispered lies that have led us so far astray we don’t know how to get back on course. 
 
The struggle is real.  We all have them.  Even godly people of the Bible had struggles.  
For example, King David had a wandering eye for another man’s wife, which got him into trouble.  One night when David was walking around his roof, he saw a beautiful woman bathing who caught his attention.  He was intrigued and sent someone to find out about her.  The messenger returned and informed King David, her name was Bathsheba wife of Uriah, one of his soldiers in command.  Even though King David knew she was married to another man, he slept with her and she conceived a child.  
To make matters worse, David covered up his mistake.  He concocted a plan for Uriah to return from the field and lay with his wife, to make him think he conceived a child with Bathsheba and not David.  When David discovered his plan didn’t work and realized his mistake would be exposed—King David had Uriah killed by putting him at the front line of battle.    
Talk about scandal!  King David’s wandering eye not only led to adultery but also murdering another man to cover up his mistake!  David had some real struggles.  
At what point do you think David should have came forward his struggle?  
If David had just opened up to God about what he was dealing with or asked someone to pray for him, the scandal could have been avoided.  Just imagine all scandals that could be avoided in our own homes and communities if we would just let someone pray for us?  Or if we would just entrust God with our struggles?
David did not go on to live the rest of his life allowing sin or his struggle to reign over him.  After being approached by the prophet Nathan, David said to him, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:13).  David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).  Through David’s repentance and turning away from his sin, is what transformed his life to become apart of one of the greatest plans ever—the bloodline to Jesus.  
David had to learn the hard way.  His choices did not come without consequence.  Nathan tells David, “The LORD has taken away your sin.  You are not going to die.  But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die” (2 Samuel 12:13).    
Scandals.  They are everywhere.  Our government.  Our homes.  Our communities.  Our schools.  Even our churches.  The very place where we think we can feel safe and entrust another in prayer, is the very place the enemy attacks the hardest. 

No one is exempt from the enemy’s trickery, even godly people, even the anointed and appointed.
Here is the Real Truth. 
“But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 1 John 1:5-7
The struggle is real.  We are all human, we all fall short and make mistakes.  (Rom. 3:23)
Behind every struggle there is an enemy force at work.  
The dark is where the enemy does his best work.  
The enemy desires to keep our struggles hidden in the dark. 
When our struggles are brought into the light, the enemy can no longer reign over us.  
Bring your struggles into the light.  
1.  The best way to expose the plans of the evil one—bring them to the light.  
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”  Ephesians 5:11 ESV
2.  No amount of darkness can ever extinguish the light of Jesus.  Keep his light inside of you.    “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” John 1:5 ESV
3.  Follow Jesus He knows the way.  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12 ESV
The enemy has us scared to believe we will be persecuted and abandoned if we expose our flaws.  He  disillusions our minds to think keeping the struggle in the dark is a better option than getting help that is so desperately needed.  

Imagine what our world would look like if we were free from the reign of the enemy and exposed his evil plan by illuminating it with light?  Suicide wouldn’t be an option.  Abortions would not occur.  Divorce would be non-existent.
We don’t have to learn the hard way, like David did.  We can put an end to the enemy attacks, by allowing someone we entrust to pray for us.  Allowing their prayers to intercede on our behalf.  By surrendering our struggles to God and getting the help we need before it leads to our destruction.  
Hold onto God’s promises.  Stay in His Word.  Stay faithful in prayer!  This will allow our struggles to be brought to the light and allow God’s divine power to fight our battles for us.  
 
Do you have an an accountability/prayer partner that can help you get through your struggles?  
 
Do you have a pastor you can entrust? 
 
Do you take your struggles to God and allow Him to fight your battles?
 
I pray and hope this post is an encouragement to you.  If you are struggling with something, please don’t keep it hidden in the dark, bring it into the light.  Don’t let the enemy silence you.  Entrust another to pray for you, take it to God.  Allow God to fight your battles for you.  
 
Keep praying our hearts and minds will be guarded against the evil one, before it is the death of us.  The enemy is relentless and won’t stop until he has destroyed our lives, our families, our marriages, bank accounts, it is endless. 

Did you enjoy this blogpost? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!

This post was first published on www.akchristianwomensministry.com


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