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The Top 3 Most Powerful Influences In Our Life

 

Influence (Noun)-  the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others:

We are all under the influence of something.  Cops use this phrase all the time, he was driving under the influence.  Now there are breathalyzers and blood tests to measure someone’s blood alcohol level.  When a person comes into the ER they tell us “I only had 2 drinks,” but the results of their blood tests, tells the real story.

In 2016 over 10,000 people in Colorado were arrested for DUI’s.  Being under the influence of alcohol clouds judgement and allows not good choices to impact the future.  Being under the influence, influences them in ways they would normally not be influenced.

'Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead, be filled with the Spirit.' Ephesians 5:18Click To Tweet

I don’t know if you’ve come across this verse before.  But I always found it odd how the Holy Spirit is compared to wine.  Looking closer I see why.  Being intoxicated on wine ruins our judgement controlling our minds.  Paul is trying to express to the Ephesians be filled with the Holy Spirit instead which leads to self-control.  Sounds boring right?  In reality we receive so much more in our self-control.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit isn’t just a one time filling but a regular pattern of life.

What Really Influences Us?

FRIENDS.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been influenced by my friends when I was growing up.  Somewhere along the way I valued what my friends thought more than what God thought.  I fell to peer pressure over and over again, reaping the consequences every time.  We are who we hang out with.  If we hang out with others who curse chances are we’ll start cursing.  If we hang out with others who (fill in the blank)  ______________________ chances are we will start doing what they are doing.  We are influenced by those in our inner circle.

“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”  1 Corinthians 15:33

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs  13:20

THE WORLD.  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2
There have been so many times I’ve been intoxicated on worldly treasures.  I made them more than God.  I pursued worldly treasures instead of what God desired for me.
How often are we lured away by everything the world has to offer?  We form little g, gods we bow down to allowing them to rule us.  We chase dangling carrots, empty promises of being rich, false images that fall apart don’t last–all for what?  This year I want to ask myself, what influences me?  Following the world or Jesus?
POSITIVITY.  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1.  I admit I have gotten into bad patterns of negativity at times.  I’ve allowed negativity to encroach my thoughts and spill out into my actions.  How much more are you impacted when someone responds in love?  When a person could have chosen to get angry and yell, but instead chose to speak love.
JESUS.  His influence changed the hearts and lives of the world while he was on this earth and still impacts us even after he’s gone.  The legacy of love, kindness, compassion, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, joy and patience is insurmountable.
I’d like to say church influences us.  But really many of us, me included, for years have shown up to church sat there, listened to the message, let’s be real here, zoned out and thought of the hundred other things I’ve needed to do.  I’ve sat there taking up space, but my heart wasn’t focused, wasn’t present.  After leaving church, life just went on as if I never went.  The message didn’t seep through.
The message didn’t influence me.  Why?  To be under the influence one has to receive.  One has to partake.  One has to be engaged.  We can’t just expect to be under the influence of something by merely taking up space or by osmosis.  Just like a car can’t run without it’s gas tank being filled with gas over and over, our spiritual lives can’t be influenced without being drunk on the Holy Spirit.  Sounds weird right?

Being influenced requires a regular pattern of life.  A regular filling.  A regular receiving.

We may get mad at God and ask why has nothing changed in my life?  The answer may be what influences us?  Who do we hang out with?  What do we spend most of our time doing?  What music do we listen to?  What words come our of our mouths?  What are we really putting into our hearts, minds, mouths and minds?
There may not be a blood tests that measures what is the level of our spiritual influence.  But there is an indicator in our lives that lets us know what influences us–what fruit is growing in our lives?  An apple tree is recognized by its apples just as a lemon tree is recognized by its lemons.  The fruit of kindness, gentleness, joy, peace and self-control is evident when it is growing in our lives. (Galatians 5:22-23)?

What kind of fruit is growing in your life?

If you would like to know what is preventing growth in your life, revisit the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.  Read what sets a person up for success and eternal growth.  There is no one else who influences us more than Jesus.  His influence has transformed our hearts and lives forever that makes an eternal difference.

What Influences Your Life?

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Prayer Changes Everything

“When a believing person prays great things happen.” James 5:16 NCV

Do you believe prayer changes everything?

I admit, there have been times in my prayer life when I’ve prayed but didn’t really believe God was able. I threw prayers up to heaven not truly thinking anything was ever going to change in my life. But then something happens when we pray when we believe God is able.

When we start praying like it matters.

When we focus on His purpose.

God has the power and strength to do anything at any time, anywhere, yet he patiently waits for us in our unbelief. He uses prayer to shape and mold our unbelieving hearts, to make room for what He desires for us.

Our prayers mean so much to God. They move His heart. Imagine our prayers have the ability to move the heavens.

In Matthew 18:19-20 says, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Have you ever had an experience when prayer changed everything?

Many times I’ve believed, God isn’t listening. I have prayed the same prayer for over 20 years and God still hasn’t answered it. Does that mean He doesn’t care or we should stop praying?

God hears our prayers. I believe God cares about what we care about because we are His children. Our persistent consistency gets God’s attention and shows our faithfulness. When we are constant in prayer, God sees what we’re passionate about. He sees what matters to us. A prayer a person has prayed for years is never wasted and will be used in greater ways than we could ever imagine.

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him.” (James 5:13-14)Click To Tweet

We are only one prayer away from the sick being healed. One prayer away from someone else’s breakthrough. One prayer away from lives being changed. One prayer away from God doing the impossible.

Nothing changes when our prayers are silent and when they go unspoken.

Everything changes when we pray.

Sometimes the biggest change that happens when we pray isn’t our situation, it’s our hearts.Click To Tweet

Do you believe prayer changes everything?

Would you like to make a difference with your prayers?

Whatever is important to you.  Whatever concerns you.  Gather two to or more friends to come together and pray about what’s weighing heavy on your heart.  Meet together in numbers, pray consistently with a fervent passion that shows God I’m serious, please hear my prayers.  One of the greatest tragedies is when a prayer goes unspoken.  God will use us to carry out his greatest plans.  God uses our prayers to fill our hearts with what He desires for us.  Our prayers matter and make a difference.  Don’t give up, keep praying with a believing heart. God hears our prayers and is able to accomplish the impossible.

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The Secret to Being Perfect

Summer is here. The sun is shining, kids are out of school, days are filled with relaxing, activities and hopefully vacations.  I love the things we learn from our seasons and vacations we go on.  There’s indigenous wildlife and landscapes we discover in the places we go.  One bird indigenous to Alaska I will never forget is the raven.

These birds live in parking lots and attack trash cans, devouring any food left on the ground. They live up to their name because they are ravenous scavengers that will eat anything. I’ve always wondered why these birds choose to stay during Alaskan winters. If I were a bird I would definitely use the wings God had gave me to fly to warmer temperatures. Even though ravens don’t migrate when the weather gets cold, I don’t think these Alaskan ravens could fly very far even if they had to. They are self-indulgent glutinous birds way too fat to fly anywhere. I have never seen ravens this big ever in my life. These birds may be sleek and shiny on the outside, but their selfish desires hold them captive in the tundra weather as a result.

These Ravens remind me of the Pharisees in the Bible.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26

The Pharisees had a tradition to engage in ceremonial washing of their body before eating, so nothing dirty would enter their bodies. However Jesus was pointing out, the Pharisees were missing the point. What was the point of physically cleaning the outside of their bodies if their hearts were filled with greed and self-indulgence? The Pharisees thought they were perfect because they followed the traditions of men. They were more concerned with keeping the tradition of ceremonial washings then keeping their hearts clean with the righteousness of God.

How true is this for our lives?

Am I like the Pharisee trying to maintain perfection on the outside but really full of un-righteousness on the inside?

I have been guilty of trying to maintain the facade that everything is perfect in my life on the outside by keeping a clean house, car, a perfectly manicured yard, obedient kids, a successful husband the list goes on. Maybe you can relate?

Have you tried to find value and worth through your circumstances like me? Have you tried to seek righteousness in your own works? Truth is I can have everything perfect and neatly organized on the outside but really am falling apart on the inside.

Where is the hope or freedom in my failures?

Is success in life really measured by my performance and how perfect I look from the outside?

There will be times my achievements fail. Times I don’t always get it right.  There will always be another room to clean in my house. There will always be a child’s behavior to correct. There may be times my husband and I don’t get along. There will always be that certain something that doesn’t go as planned.  Does that mean I only receive hope if my circumstances are going well in my life?

Perfectionism and keeping a bunch of rules will never make me righteous or bring me peace or freedomClick To Tweet

I am not perfect.  But I am made perfect in God. Through God’s eyes even when I fall short, He sees me as his perfect workmanship and makes up for my shortcomings (Romans 3:23).

He created and designed all of us with a purpose that is greater than our next performance.

The secret to being perfect isn’t in what we do ourselves with our own strength but in what God can do in us with His strength.Click To Tweet

God cares more about the condition of our hearts than how clean our houses are. His desire is for us to love him with all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our minds” (Matthew 22:37).

Jesus tells the Pharisees, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” Matthew 23:26. He was trying to teach them you will always be held captive by selfish desires and trying to maintain perfectionism. We will always be set free in God’s truth and love for us.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

When I seek God for my righteousness and desires of my heart he shows me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; our souls knows it very well (Psalm 139:14). Righteousness does not come from ourselves or in anything we do, but from God himself.

“…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“ (Philippians 3:9).

Our hearts will always find peace in His presence and freedom in His truth.

The next time there are a pile of dishes in your sink, say to yourself, “Bless this mess, because I am made perfect in God!” Thankfully God cares more of how clean my heart is than my sink!

Have you ever met someone and thought wow they have it all together, to only find out they are shattered and broken on the inside?

You never know what someone is going through. Just because their life seems perfect on the inside doesn’t mean it’s true.  Thankfully we have all been saved by his grace.  His grace and purpose are always greater.

“He has saved us and called us to holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”  2 Timothy 1:9

Can you relate to the Pharisees?

Do you allow circumstances to enslave you and determine your happiness?

Have you been victim to performance and perfectionism?

How has God’s truth set you free?

Our circumstances will always change.  God’s truth is eternal and everlasting!  There is hope when we seek our truth and identity in God. You are perfectly perfect in who God says you are. He created you and never makes mistakes. You are perfect!

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The Message and The Miracle

Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life and questioned is God even there? Or does he even care?

Sometimes I’ve caught myself questioning God and his motives when I’m going through hard times. I question God ‘why is this happening to me? Don’t you even care?’ Then he so tenderly reminds me, yes he does care more than I’ll ever know.

In my struggle I realize I’m not the one waiting on God, he’s the one waiting on me. If I just opened my eyes to see what God is trying to show me, His creations are all around me. He has made the heavens, the earth and everything in it. He has already sent Jesus to die for us.

Do I really need him to show me another sign of what he is capable of doing?

My unbelief and doubt aren’t so far off from the Pharisees and the crowd Jesus fed.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, capture the life of Jesus, his ministry, his death, and resurrection. Each gospel captures Jesus’ messages and miracles he performed. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle without there being a deeper message at hand. When a person reads the gospels one will see the pattern of a message then a miracle, a message then a miracle. When we look deeper, we can see this message and miracle pattern in our lives as well.

In the gospel of John 6, Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people from only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. The crowd was amazed at this miraculous sign that Jesus did. After performing this miracle, Jesus withdrew from the crowd knowing the crowd intended to make him their king. The crowd then went looking for Jesus in Capernaum.

When the crowd finds Jesus, he then says, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him and the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:26-27)

Jesus knew their hearts already. They weren’t looking for a Messiah, the one who could give them eternal life, they were looking for another miracle.

John 6:30 says, “So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”

Can you even imagine asking Jesus, ‘what else can you do before we believe you?’ It didn’t matter the crowd had just witnessed Jesus miraculously feed a crowd of 5,000 people with just some loaves of bread and fish, the people wanted more.

The crowd didn’t need more proof of Jesus’ abilities, they needed more faith.Click To Tweet

The same scenario happened with the Pharisees after Jesus fed the four thousand people. Afterward the Pharisees questioned Jesus. They wanted to test him and asked him for a sign from heaven.

Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it” (Mark 8:12).

How many times have we been guilty of this as well?

There are signs all around us that God is with us and cares about our struggles, yet we search for God to prove his divine authority by performing miraculous signs.

In both scenarios, Jesus did not perform another miracle when they demanded it because they lacked faith. Their request for a miracle came from unbelief (Mark 8:11 footnote). God doesn’t need to prove his abilities he is able. There is evidence all around us of his divine abilities.

Do we really need more proof or more faith?Click To Tweet
What greater sign do we need from God that he can handle our trials and struggles that he hasn’t already done for us?Click To Tweet

Do we seek God like the Pharisees and crowd does, only searching for the next miracle? Are we missing the point as well?

Our relationship with God goes deeper than him supplying for all of our needs and making sure everything is good in our lives all the time. Our relationship with God is more than just a good feeling that is temporary. Our relationship with God is eternal and everlasting.

Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.Click To Tweet

What do you seek God for? To perform another miracle? Or to be your Messiah who has come to give you life?

Searching for a miracle from God without faith is like a person telling a horse to move without ears. Faith without action is dead. Seeking a miracle without receiving God’s deeper message is like sending Jesus to die for us without the resurrection. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest message and miracle ever.

Jesus’ death would be pointless if there wasn’t a resurrection. Jesus was preparing the hearts of people to have faith in him was going to require believing in the unseen of what God could do.

Matthew 17:20, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

We only need faith the size of a mustard seed for God to move the mountains in our life.Click To Tweet

Do you believe our faith in God leads to life’s biggest miracles?

Do you see the pattern of a message then a miracle in your life?

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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The Lord’s Prayer

 

 

If I were to ask you to recite the Lord’s Prayer whether you are a Christian or non-Christian I bet most of us could recite some lines from this prayer.  In this prayer, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes my prayer life can become dull like I’m reciting a memorized prayer.  Reciting a prayer from my lips that has no meaning in my heart is like an empty cup waiting to be filled.  An empty cup is not fulfilling its purpose unless it’s filled.  

The purpose of prayer works the same way in our lives.  The Lord’s Prayer was never meant to just be something we memorize but a pattern that we apply to our hearts and lives.  God knows better than us what we need and directs our steps in The Lord’s Prayer.  I encourage you to read this whole article today to develop a powerful pattern of prayer that God desires to bring us the most abundant life ever in Him.

 Worship

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Jesus starts His prayer off by turning to God, His Father.  His prayer begins with showing reverence, respect for our God who is sovereign, omnipotent and creator of all things.  Turning our eyes towards God focuses our attention on his abilities that nothing is too difficult for Him.  Recognizing God for everything He is to us, takes our focus off of ourselves and gives Him the glory, which is a form of worship.

Submission

Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  This part of the prayer puts God’s will first ahead of our own agenda.  Allowing God’s desires to be greater than our desires gets rid of any selfishness or self-centeredness.  God is able to do anything, however, the way God works in our lives isn’t as a genie in a bottle ready to grant our every wish.  If our hearts are filled with things that get in the way of him such as greed, lust or selfishness, we limit God’s power within us.  In order to receive God’s divine power working within us, we must be in places of humbleness and surrender.  Submission prepares our hearts for the next part of the prayer.

Appropriate Requests

Give us this day our daily bread.  This is the part of the prayer is where we ask God for our requests and needs.  This is where we can ask for help for anything we need in our lives such as marriage, parenting, help with finances, provision, relationships.  God’s provision can provide us with anything.  But if our requests are inappropriate such as, ‘God please give me a million dollars,’ He will not grant our requests.  Daily bread is our daily provision of what God offers not what we desire.  When we have the daily bread He provides for us we are eternally satisfied (John 6:35).  When we are content with the daily provision in what God provides us we can forgo the rat race and make do with what He provides.

Confession

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  Asking forgiveness from God purifies our hearts and makes us right before Him.  Our sin and unforgiveness separate us from God.

 Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”  (Matt. 6:14-15).

Thankfully God is in the healing and restoration business.  He cares about our eternal salvation.  Jesus paid a high price for our sins with his life.  It costs us nothing to forgive but costs us our lives if don’t forgive.  Forgiving someone who hurt you may be the hardest thing you do.  But I promise when you do forgive, you will be set free from the heavy burden of carrying around unforgiveness.  Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full, not so we can be weighed down with our sins and burdens.  Confessing our sins removes the obstacles in our hearts for God’s love to grow within us and cleans out our hearts.

Authority

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  Asking God to protect us from temptation and the evil one recognizes God as the authority in our lives.  This part of the prayer is asking God who is Lord in our lives to direct our steps and keep Satan away from our hearts.  Praying for protection over our hearts is so important to keep the enemy out of our lives and allows victory over our temptations. Deliverance sets us free from our sins, temptations, and strongholds that keep us captive and away from God’s plan in our lives.

Worship

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  The Lord’s prayer not only begins with worship but ends in worship as well.  Ending our prayer by giving thanks to God for all that he does for us acknowledges that He is the God of the heaven and earth.  

The Lord's prayer is a pattern of prayer that gives us the elements of a strong, powerful prayer foundation. Click To Tweet

The Lord’s prayer isn’t meant to be rote memorization but active, alive and breathing in our lives.  We can learn so much from what Jesus teaches us in The Lord’s Prayer.  Prayer can be so powerful in our lives if we use it the way God intended for us.

What have you learned from The Lord’s Prayer?

Write out your own pattern of Prayer of Worship, Submission, Requests, Confession, Authority, and Worship.

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Praying Through the Storms

Have you ever been through a storm of life and asked yourself the question, “When is this going to end?” ‘How am I going to get through this? Or “Why am I even here?’

The storms of life we go through can feel so burdensome, out of control and chaotic.

One scene in the Bible that sticks out in my mind that describes the storms we go through is the scene where the disciples are rocking in the boat with waves crashing and the wind blowing in Matthew. The disciples are scared and looking for a way out of this storm. Then they see what they think is a ghost, who is actually Jesus.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus was walking towards His disciples on the water during the storm instead of just waiting for them on the other side of the lake (Matt. 14:25)?

Before Jesus came to the disciples in the storm, He was asking them to cross the lake in the boat, to literally be on top of the chaos. The Hebrew word for water is Mayim which literally means chaos. The disciples were fearful and wondering how everything was going to play out.

Like the disciples, we may not like being in the chaos, but can be encouraged that Jesus is always with us in the storms (Matt. 14:24-32).

We can be encouraged that Jesus prays for us in our stormsClick To Tweet

“….he came to them, walking on the sea.” Matt. 14:25 ESV

When the disciples were in the boat being tossed by the waves and wind, Jesus was right there with them. He was praying the disciples’ (Rom. 8:34) faith would not waver. Jesus didn’t send the disciples into the storm by themselves, He was experiencing the storm with them (Mark 6:48). God will never push us into a storm and say, ‘see you later, good luck.’ He is always with us.

Jesus will always come to us in our storms of lifeClick To Tweet

“He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.” Matt. 14:29

The disciples became fearful when their focus was on their circumstances—the big waves, the boat rocking, and the harsh winds. Right before Jesus tells Peter get out of the boat and come to Him, Jesus tells the disciples to “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid,” (Matt. 14:27).

We too can get focused on our circumstances, elevating our fears which limits our ability to see Jesus in the storms. Jesus was trying to teach the disciples that both fear and faith cannot reside at the same time in our hearts and will always blind us to His presence.

The very thing the disciples feared (the sea) is the very thing Jesus used to bring them through. He was showing them that even in the chaos of the storm, Jesus is always in control, we just need to trust in Him.

Jesus will see us through our stormsClick To Tweet

“And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” Matt. 14:32

God knows we would never willingly go towards the storm ourselves. He knows what’s best for us and cares for our every need. To pick and choose the parts of life we do and don’t want, is to forfeit God’s greatest blessings. Jesus did not allow Peter or the disciples to sink or drown but showed them what God can do when we have faith.

Imagine what Peter was thinking after he got back into the boat. “I just walked on water with Jesus!” Just think what Peter would have forfeited if he allowed his fears to dictate his response and stayed in the boat. He would have never witnessed first hand what God is able to do when we trust in Him.

When we are going through a storm we can trust….

In our chaos, Jesus is in total control and is always with us.

God has divine authority over all things.

When we are in God’s will, we will always be kept safe in the storms.

We can trust God to take care of us in our storms.

Jesus is the key to eternal peace.

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

We can always trust in His plans.

God will prevail.

Jesus walking towards the disciples in the storm is a physical representation of what he does for us in our everyday lives. He is right there with us we just have to look up and reach out.

In our storms, God prays for us and hears our cries. God desires every single crevice of our hearts—even the broken parts. Even when circumstances look bleak, keep praying through the storms, He will protect us and get us safely through.

Are you going through a storm of life right now?

Do you trust in what God is able to do, to step out of the boat like Peter, reach out your hand and say, “Lord, save me?” (Matt. 14:30)

Prayer- Dear Lord, we know you are the God of peace and maker of all things. Sometimes life can get so hard and burdensome. We pray that we will seek you in our storms and trust in your plans, your ways, and power. We pray we will hold onto your promises when our surrounding circumstances look defeating. We pray our faith will not waver and we will be anchored in the storms. Thank you, Lord, for praying for us and being our God who loves us. We praise you in our storms. In Jesus name. Amen.

Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on posts.

Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 51). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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Lost Faith

Have you ever lost something very valuable?  Something that no amount of money could replace because it was invaluable?  When I was younger I almost lost something that couldn’t be replaced–my faith.  I made choices I am not proud of and those choices lead me to places I didn’t want to be.  In those moments I turned away from God, He never left my side and His merciful love brought me back home.  In the end, I questioned what was so important for me to abandon my faith?

In the Bible, the disciples were some of the closest people to Jesus.  They walked, talked and followed Him,  heard him speak, saw him perform miracles and yet coward to worldly persecution almost losing their most valuable possession–their faith.

At the Last Supper Jesus warned the disciples that someone would betray Him, one who was eating among them (Mark 14:18).  After the Last Supper, He even warns Peter that he would deny Him (Mark 14:27) and tells the disciples, they will also scatter.

Jesus warned the disciples that their faith would be tested and they too would turn away from their faith.  

“This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”  Matthew 26:31

When Jesus says this, Peter proclaims all the other followers may fall, but I will not (Mark 14:29).  Jesus then tells Peter, before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times (Mark 14:30).  Peter and the others emphatically claimed, even if they had to die with Jesus, they would never disown Him (Mark 14:31).

When Judas appeared in the Garden of Gethsemane with the Roman soldiers, he kissed Jesus on the cheek to signal to the soldiers which one was Jesus.  “The men seized Jesus and arrested him” (Mark 14:44-46).  After Jesus was arrested everyone including the disciples scattered like sheep.

It scares me to think even the people that walked, talked and followed Jesus deserted and fled Him at the time He needed them most.  Everyone left Jesus because they were afraid that they too would be arrested for being associated with Him.

Peter moments before said He would never flee or deny His Lord and Savior.  The disciples proclaimed they would die before ever disowning Jesus.  And yet they fled.

When worldly persecution infringes upon our faith how easy is it to flee in the other direction? Click To Tweet

It was even easy for the disciples who were students of Jesus.  For three years they listened to His teachings, His warnings, His messages.  And yet they fled in fear of getting arrested.

What happened to their faith?

In the three years with Jesus, the disciples witnessed Jesus walk on water, calm the storms, feed 5,000 people with 2 loaves of bread and 5 fish, raise the dead, heal the sick and lame, give the blind their sight, cast our demons and turn wine to water.  They witnessed with their own eyes the very things Jesus was capable of.  They proclaimed Jesus as their Messiah and Lord.  And yet most of them weren’t even present at the cross at their own Messiah’s death, in His greatest suffering.

The disciples fear of persecution caused them to react with their flesh and not their faith.  Who knows?  Maybe their fear saved them from also being crucified on the cross?

It didn’t take long for the disciples’ faith to be restored.  After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to Mary Magdelene and two men walking in the country (Mark 16:9,12).  Jesus told them to go tell the disciples.  When Jesus appeared to the disciples he rebuked them for their lack of faith and stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen (Mark 16:14).  Again they didn’t believe!

The disciples were able to see firsthand the scars of Jesus, proof that he had indeed been crucified, buried and resurrected.  The eyewitnesses weren’t enough to convince their unbelieving hearts that Jesus had risen!  They had to see with their own eyes!

Just 7 days after Jesus’ death the disciples would boldly profess their faith in Jesus again without any fear at the Pentecost [1].  According to the book of Acts, their faith never wavered again and they stood firm even in the face of persecution.

Our rebellion, our fear, our ignorance, our disbelief, our pride are the very things that will make us abandon our faith and choose the other way.  We may not be able to witness Jesus firsthand like the disciples did, but we can witness Jesus firsthand by staying in The Word and through prayer.

Can you relate to the disciples?  They allowed their fears to almost lose the most valuable thing in their lives–their faith.  I’m so glad after Jesus’ resurrection they never questioned their faith again.

Have you ever allowed something to come in between you and God?

Have you ever lost your faith?

I am ashamed to admit I walked away from God for a period of time in my life.  It was one of the worst decisions I made in my life.  I never knew how valuable my faith was until I lost it.  I once was lost, but now I’m found.  God’s profound abundant love, captivated me.  His neverending mercy and grace, consumed me.  His forgiveness and sacrifice embraced my heart to never walk away from my faith again.

Maybe you’re hurting, in a place you don’t want to be.  Maybe you feel like you’re so far from God and don’t know how to get back.  I promise you, God is there waiting for you.  He wants you.  All we have to say is “God help me.” He will be there, I promise.

Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 343). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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3 Strategies Satan Uses Against Us

When you look at this picture what do you see?  The game of chess is an interesting game where one tries to capture the king to become the victor.  I love how the game of chess provides an opportunity for the underdog to win.  It’s not over until it’s over.  Even if all the major playing pieces are taken, it’s possible to still win.  In this game, the pawn can become a queen.  The pawn is merely an underdog until it makes its way to the other side and changes the trajectory of the game.

The game of chess requires perseverance and patience.  How many of us give up before the end of the game? Is it because we are weary and tired?  Or have we lost the confidence to believe that we can win?  In life, Satan can play us like pawns in his game of evil.  He throws temptations in our path trying to lure us away, he whispers lies in our ears to make us doubt and seduces us to believe life is better in the green grass.  He waits until we are at our weakest, most desperate moments to make his move.  He is evil and uses sneaky strategies to make us move where he wants us.  We don’t have to fall victim to Satan’s evil schemes.

3 Strategies Satan Uses Against

  1.  Unforgiveness-  Satan’s role in our lives will always be to tempt us.  When there is unforgiveness in our lives, Satan will always use this against us to tantalize us to the point of destruction.   Unforgiveness opens a door for the enemy to cause division and chaos in our lives.  Satan seduces us into believing holding onto unforgiveness is a better solution than forgiving others.  Forgiveness provides an open door for unity, harmony and peace in our world.  Forgiving others allows an opportunity for the underdog to win.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NIV

“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven–if there was anything to forgive–I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

2.  Making Fear greater than God.  Satan will do anything he can to elevate our fears, trying to make them greater than God.  One of his primary purposes is to instill fear in our lives and take our focus off of God.  The other day we were at the park and my daughter said, “I’m thirsty.”  I said, “There is a water fountain over there, go get a drink of water.”  My daughter said, “I want a drink of water, but there is a wasp over there.”  I went over to inspect the situation to find the wasp had already left.  I told my daughter the wasp was gone, but she would not go near the water fountain because she was still afraid she would get stung.  How many times has the enemy done this in our lives?  He instills fear in us so we can’t go where God is trying to lead us.  Even though the wasp wasn’t there anymore she still wouldn’t go near where it was.  Allowing fear to dictate and control our responses and actions will always keep us from God’s greater plans.  When Fear > God, we will always live defeated life that is stuck.  When God > Fear, we will always live a life that is filled with God’s abundance and victory.

1 Peter 5:8 NIV

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

 

To read the rest of this blog post visit www.theprayingwoman.com

 

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Getting Out of the Grave

 

Have you ever gone fishing in hopes to catch the big one?  Our family has done our fair share of fishing, coming from Alaska.  In Alaska, the king salmon is one prize fish that everyone tries to catch.  The king salmon only run at a certain time, once a year so there is a mad rush to catch the big one before they are gone.  People are so crazy about catching king salmon, there are even fish derbies to determine who caught the biggest fish–which can weigh up to 100 pounds!  People spend years trying to catch the big one and still never catch a king salmon.  However, when a person catches a king salmon there is no going back, they are hooked.

No doubt fishing in Alaska is one of the most amazing experiences a person will ever have–there is a joy and art to it.  However, fishing for the big king salmon makes me think how we go out to lure and hook the big fish, but eventually the desire to catch the big one, lures and hooks us if we’re not careful.

Have you been there before–caught in the trap of chasing more?

I am painfully aware and convicted of how many times in life I’ve been a victim of chasing my own desires to find fulfillment and satisfaction–only to be left weary, disappointed and depleted.

In life there becomes a healthy balance of chasing our own desires versus God’s desires to find some sort of satisfaction and fulfillment.   Sometimes we can get caught up in chasing our dreams for the big one, whatever that may be–a bigger house, better job, nicer car or more money.  Then somehow, someway we get stuck in a place where we don’t want to be, missing out on all of God’s greatest blessings along the way.

Trying to catch the big one makes me think of the Israelites.  

Graves of Craving Numbers 11:4-34

Moses, the leader of the Israelites, had been leading them through the desert for about 40 years to take them to The Promised Land.  In this time of wandering, God was teaching them how to rely and depend on Him for all their needs.  God had provided the Israelites with shelter, water and a bread-like substance called manna.  After while the Israelites became dissatisfied with God’s provisions.  They were tired of wandering around the hot desert and eating the same old thing every day.  They whined and complained and desired something more.  They asked Moses if they could have some meat.  The Lord honored their request and sent quail, not just for one day but for a whole month!

There was so much quail meat, that each Israelite had an equivalent to 10 homers which is 100 bushels or a little over 22 barrels of meat.  Their indulgence and engorgement infuriated God.

“While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very severe plague. So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy” Numbers 11:33-34.

In our lives, there is a fine line between being content with what we have and being greedy.  In the case of the Israelites, their greediness for more left them unsatisfied and became the death of them.  In fact, their greediness dug their own grave.

God used the Israelites greediness as an example for generations to come.  The place of their overindulgence was located in the desert and named Kibroth-Hattaavah, which means graves of craving, desire and/or greed.  Their greed and burning desire actually dug their own graves.  It’s not wrong to crave worldly things but our cravings become a sin when our worldly desires become greater than God.

 

“Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death never satisfied” (Habakkuk 2:5 NIV).Click To Tweet

Satan would like nothing more than for us to believe, overindulging in our desires will bring us fulfillment and satisfaction—when in reality our self-fulfillment will only lead to emptiness and temporary satisfaction.  There will always be another desire to fulfill.

When is enough ever enough?

When we reside in what God desires, we will never desire more of what the world wants and be eternally satisfied.Click To Tweet

How do we stay out of the Grave of Craving?

  1. Trusting in Him.  Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.”   Trusting in the Lord for His provision keeps us straight on our paths, so Satan can’t lure us away.  Keep taking those steps of faith, God will always lead you in the right direction and firmly secure your feet on the straight path.
  2. Being content.  Philippians 4:11-13 NIV, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Being content with God’s provision and trusting it is enough, will provide us with more than we ever need.
  3. Prayer and Thanksgiving.  Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  4. Allowing God’s desires to be our desires.  Psalm 37:4 NASB, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”  When we allow God’s desires to be our desires we will always be eternally satisfied.
  5. Staying alert and aware.  1 Peter 5:8 NIV, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  Keeping our eyes and focus on God will keep us out of the grave.
Satan will always try to use our cravings and desires against us to fulfill his evil plan.Click To Tweet
When our cravings and burning desires are greater than God, they will always be the death of us.Click To Tweet

Our steps of faith will keep us out of the grave.  Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).  He didn’t die on the cross and stay in the grave, he resurrected from the grave so that we could live an eternal life with Him be filled with His abundant blessings.  We aren’t meant to live in the grave but be resurrected with Jesus to live a life with eternal fulfillment and satisfaction.

God can handle our circumstances and turn them into something so much better and greater.  Getting out of the grave of our circumstances will be hard, but I promise you, dear friend, God will hold your hand and never let go.

Have you been a victim to Satan’s sneaky tactics and not even know it?

Have you ever been stuck in the grave with your circumstances?

How has God led you out of the grave?

We were never meant to live in the grave with our circumstances but in the Victory of Jesus!  You were made to be victorious!  God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His Word is alive and active in our lives!  Please let me know if you have any questions!  You are loved!  

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What to Do When You Don’t Like Your Life Season

I’m excited to share Janet Thompson’s new book Mentoring For All Seasons that just came out September 12th!  I am honored that I had an opportunity to be a contributor to her new book.  Be encouraged by Janet’s post how we may not always like every season we are in but can help each other succeed by mentoring or being mentored.

Janet’s Post

We’ve all heard it said, “There’s a time for everything.” Or “You’re just in a season, it will pass.” In fact, it’s Scriptural—

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The good and pleasant seasons sound wonderful and just what God wants for us, right? It’s so easy to think that God couldn’t possibly want what we perceive as a bad or unpleasant season for us. And yet this Scripture passage tells us that God made both, and while we’re alive, we’re going to experience every season—the good and the bad—under heaven.

Pastor Rick Warren often says that life is like a roller coaster: if you’re going up and experiencing a good season, brace yourself because in about three weeks you’ll probably find yourself going down into an unpleasant season, screaming all the way!

We try so hard to hold onto those feel-good seasons, and there’s nothing wrong with that—we should have times of joy, dancing, laughing, loving, and peace. But when the not so good times roll, we need to remember that God has not left us. He’s walking right beside us through the mourning, weeping, uprooting, and war seasons, and that’s when a mentor is so helpful to remind us that she made it through her tough seasons and we will too.

 

CLICK TO TWEET

 

The focus of my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture has Forgotten is for us to remember how good God has been in all the seasons of our life. God never abandons His children. This is a message we need to share with each other and with the culture, especially during these challenging times we live in today.

Reasons for Not Liking our Life Season

Usually, we don’t like our life season because:

It’s painful or uncomfortable.

We’re jealous and like what someone else’s life looks like more than our own life.

We’re living with the consequences of our, or someone else’s, behavior or decisions.

We’re discontent or discouraged.

We’re not sure if God still cares about us.

What would you add to the list?

We all have difficult seasons we want to end. Or maybe we’re in a wonderful season that we never want to end. Many life seasons we have no control over, even though advertisers and the culture would try to make you believe differently. They set us up to fail either way by thinking if we just drink the right cola, take the right pill, own the right car, use the right cosmetics and anti-aging products, eat the right food, reach success . . . every season of our life will be heavenly. The aging clock is going to stop and somehow God made our lives to be different from everyone else’s life.

But that’s a lie and those who buy into it will never be content because everything God lists in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a season that everyone will experience.

What to Do When We Don’t Like Our  Life Season

We probably feel like crying, screaming, maybe yelling, getting depressed, ignoring, or trying to get out of it. If we’re honest, we’ve all been there.

But soon we realize that the only thing that works when we don’t like our life season is to ask God how He wants us to deal with it, and then listen carefully to how the Holy Spirit speaks to us. It’s that still small voice we hear guiding us when we cry out to God. We might not know how to get through the season, but God does. So often He’s talking, but we’re not listening.

Someone on a friend’s Facebook post asked how my Christian friend knew what God wanted. Did he have a direct line to God? I thought, Yes he does! Every Christian has a direct line to God the world doesn’t understand, and one we don’t use nearly enough: praying to Jesus who hears every word and the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us even when all we can do is groan.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

While writing this post, I met a woman whose husband has cancer. As she shared her story, I heard in my mind hug her and pray for her. Mind you, we had just met, and I had already told her I would be praying for her husband and their family since I understood having had breast cancer three times. But as she kept talking, I knew I was to pray for her now. So I said, “Let me pray for you,” and stepped forward to hug her; but she didn’t realize that I meant right then. I knew God meant right then! She needed it and she was so grateful.

I had tried to talk myself out of it, and how many times is God trying to tell us what to do “right then,” but we’re dismissing His words of wisdom to see us through this season and on into the next one. That’s when a mentor can step in and do just what I was able to do for this woman, even though we barely knew each other. Can you imagine how much comfort can come from two women who have a personal mentoring relationship?!

God doesn’t want us going through any season alone, but He also doesn’t want us listening to anyone who isn’t giving us biblical wisdom. That’s why in Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, every season has Scripture to study together that applies to the various issues women might experience in that season.

Being a mentor, or a mentee reaching out to another woman for guidance, doesn’t mean the mentor has all the answers or the Bible memorized. It just means she’s willing to search God’s Word and pray together for Him to tell you both what to do in the life seasons you might not like right now; and then, you both reach out and help someone else going through something similar.

And that’s exactly what Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us we need to do when we’re going through a life season we don’t like!

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness released 9/12/17 is available now for purchase.

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. (September 12, 2017)

She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet at:

womantowomanmentoring.com

www.facebook.com/Janetthompson.authorspeaker

http://www.linkedin.com/in/womantowomanmentoring/

www.pinterest.com/thompsonjanet

https://twitter.com/AHWministries


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