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3 Ways To Make Your Courage STRONGER

#Courage #stonger

Courage.  We all need it.  We all have it.  But do we really know how to access courage and use it when we need it?  

God knew we needed courage more than anything so he left 365 Bible verses, with the word courage, as a reminder for each day of the year.  

Do you know someone courageous?

That someone, no matter what the situation puts their life on line, extends their all no matter what the situation or risk?

Corrie Ten Boom and Irena Sendler, two modern-day women were the epitome of courage.  They risked their lives to save the lives of others at the cost of their own lives.  

Queen Esther risked her life to save the entire Israelite race, putting her own life at risk.  In the end when she did God worked out all the details.

Nathan the prophet risked his life boldly going before King David to call him out on his affair with Bathsheba, getting her pregnant and killing her husband to cover up his sin.  Nathan risked a lot by standing up to a king and basically saying, “You messed up and God doesn’t like it.”  Because of Nathan, David repented and God used him for his greatest plan ever—the lineage to Jesus.  

Do you ever wonder what do they have, I don’t?

Maybe our courage just needs a little more strength.  A little more grit.  That something that takes us from just showing up to practice to winning the gold medal.  

3 Ways to Make Your Courage Stronger:

1. ABIDE in the Power of Jesus’ love.  When we abide in the love of Jesus, we receive his power of no fear, because there is no fear in love.  Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4: I bet each person I mentioned above was scared to death, but the benefit outweighed the risk).    

Why?  Because they trusted in the power of God.  When we trust in what God is able to do, we take the worry and stress off of ourselves that it is up to us to get the job done.  God’s strength and power is so much greater than ours. 

Our courage becomes so much stronger when we abide and trust in God’s power of what He is able to do. Click To Tweet

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God;  if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”  God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world.”  1 John 4:11, 16-17.  

God’s love is perfected within us when we abide in him.  When we live as though our next breath is dependent upon his provision.  When we live as though God is apart of our every being.  We can live in the confidence of what God has already done because nothing the enemy does can change what God has already accomplished.  Our courage becomes stronger when we abide in Christ.  

2.  Take Risks.  Every single courageous person I know takes risks.  Courage isn’t courage without taking risks.  The one thing I have learned about taking risks, I would have never experienced the greatness God’s blessings waiting on the other side.  The path God asks us to take sometimes seems scary like we’re walking towards a fiery furnace, but I PROMISE God’s will, will never take us where His GRACE cannot protect us. 

Each step of faith we take, builds our spiritual muscles by testing our faith, refines us like pure gold and brings us closer to where God desires us to be—which makes our COURAGE STRONGER.  

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuinenesss of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes through it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”  1 Peter 1:6.  

3.  Seek Wisdom.  The closer we are to Jesus, the more wise we become.  Wise people seek Jesus.  Courageous people seek wisdom to know what they’re next steps are.  Wisdom helps us make better choices and discern God’s will, if indeed we are going in the right direction.  Those who abide in Christ, receive the power of God’s wisdom.  God’s wisdom makes our COURAGE STRONGER.  The foundation and cornerstone of our lives is based on God’s wisdom and love.  

“By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place;”  Proverbs 3:19 

Everything we do is connected to the one who created us.  God is the provider of our courage.  Without God’s courage we wouldn’t be able to do what He asks of us.  We see God’s most amazing promises revealed because of the courageous steps of faith others took in the Bible.   

  • We saw the Israelites pass through The Red Sea because they were still and didn’t flee.
  • We saw the walls of Jericho fall because the Israelites had the courage to obey and march for 7 days in the midst of their enemies.  
  • We saw David defeat the big giant Goliath with just one stone, because he had the courage no one else had.  
  • We saw what happened when 3 men had the courage to stand up to the most powerful King Nebuchadnezzar (besides Jesus) who ever existed—their lives were spared from the fiery furnace, not a hair was cinged nor did they smell like smoke.  

Making our courage strong is important in our relationship with God.  Without courage we would never witness God’s most glorious plans that could have only been accomplished through him.  Our courage helps prepare our hearts to be ready when God asks us to take steps of faith.  Will you be ready?  

'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.' Joshua 1:9Click To Tweet

What makes your courage stronger?

How has courage allowed you to fulfill God’s purpose? 

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I would love to hear from you!  Leave your comments below.  Have a Blessed Week!

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We need to know we are not alone.


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Have You Ever Felt Like An Imposter?

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”  Genesis 4:25 NIV

Come out, come out wherever you are.  Remember the game of hide and seek you used to play as a kid?  The seeker would count to 100 and say, ‘ready or not here I come.’  The object of the game was to find the best hiding place, turn out the lights and not be found by the seeker.  If the seeker found you then you became it having to go find those in hiding.  If you couldn’t be found then the seeker would say…..

“Come out, come out wherever you are.”

Have you ever felt like an Imposter?

Like you were playing a game of hide and seek only it wasn’t a game, it was your reality?  At one point in our lives we all hide from something, whether its to cover up gray hair (to appear younger than we are) or a pesky blemish on our face.  We all try to cover up our imperfections.

There have been so many times in my life where everything from the outside appears like its straight out of story tale when in reality I’ve been so desperately hurting on the inside.  From a distance it looks like I have everything all together but really feel like any moment the life I’ve built is going to crumble and fall apart.  I feel like one of those imposters who doesn’t expose their mess in front of others but instead keeps it hidden so no one will know.

At any moment someone is going to discover I don’t have it all together, nor do I have it all figured out.  Can you relate?

Why do we hide?

I think the very nature of our genetic makeup predisposes us to hide.  When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God gave them one command, Do not eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” Genesis 2:17.  Well, we know how that all went down.  Once Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, they became ashamed of what they did and hid themselves from the presence of God among the trees in the garden when they heard God walking in the garden (Gen. 3:8).

The next part amazes me, God then calls out to them and asks them a question which he already knew the answer to–“Where are you?”  Genesis 4:9.  God was the one who created Adam and Eve, giving them life, did they really think they could hide from God?  God is God and knows all things.  There is no where we can hide that he doesn’t see us.  There is nothing we can keep hidden from Him that he doesn’t already know.  

“Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 23:23-24 NIV

It’ s so amazing time and time again we think we are safer or better off if we hide instead coming into the presence of God in the first place.  We try so hard to hide behind fake facades, perfectly manicured lives, masks of whom we think others will accept.  And yet we are so weary from trying to keep up with an image that doesn’t even matter.

In my professional life I wear a mask for a living to help maintain the sterility of the room I’m working in.  If one person enters the room without having the proper attire or their mask up to cover their face, there is a breech in the sterility of the room.  There are days I’m thankful I get to hide behind my mask so people don’t know whether I’m smiling or having a bad day.  Just as these masks protect the sterility of the room, our imposter masks protect us from others getting close to us and seeing the real version of ourselves.

These personas we hide behind aren’t really who we are at all.  The imposter masks may help protect our fake image but in the long run only end up falling apart.

The masks we wear don't make it better, they enable us to live as imposters in Fakeville.Click To Tweet

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”  Ephesians 4:25 NIV

It’s scary right?  Exposing yourself to others, letting them know your flaws, your deficits, your imperfections?  What if you let others in and they discover who you really are and they don’t accept you?

These are valid concerns and fears.  We must surround ourselves with people whom we trust.  Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment of who you should share your struggles with, whom you can trust.

Where are you?  

When God called to Adam and Eve to come out of hiding, Adam told God he hid because he was naked.  God then responded, “Who told you that you were naked?”

Who told you?

Who told you, you must be ashamed?  

Who……. told………… you?

'But everything exposed by the light becomes visible--and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.' Ephesians 5:13 NIVClick To Tweet

Have you ever felt like an imposter?

Our struggles, our burdens, our trials are not meant to go through alone.  The enemy wants us to feel shame so he can isolate us and keep us hidden in the dark with our troubles.  He wants to whisper lies for us to believe we’re better off hiding.  When we bring our struggles into the light the enemy has no power over us and sets us free from the darkness to be able to live in the light of our flaws, deficits and imperfections they way God created us.   God never meant for us to hide behind our flaws but for them to be apart of who we are.

Have Can I Pray For You?

God does his best work in the light.  If you are going through a tough season or trial have you asked someone to pray for you?  Have you told a trusted individual?  Let another person come alongside you and walk with you in your struggle.
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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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When Fear Surrounds Us

It’s almost a new year!  Many of us are excited to start a fresh new year.  Whatever the expectation the new year brings for you, it may bring many fears that can be overwhelming.

I recently had the opportunity to embark on a cruise with 29 of my family members and 5,000 other people cruising around the Caribbean sea.  This was my first Caribbean cruise.  I don’t know if cruising is your thing, but it made me uncomfortable knowing I was in the middle of the ocean with that many people. When I did the calculations, there are not enough boats for everyone if for some reason the ship sank.  Let’s just say it was unsettling for me.

Don’t know if you are one of those ‘What if’ people, I am typically not, however, I am married to one.  I usually don’t think about all the scenarios of ‘what if,’ but when you are surrounded by lots of people and water it makes your mind start going in that direction especially when you watch those movies where the ship sinks or people get eaten by sharks.

Ok, I promise I’ll stop.

But seriously have you ever been in that kind of life or death situation?  Like the scene in the Poseidon movie when Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfus, and the young gal are debating whether they should stay in the room with the flooding water or go towards the vents which they didn’t know where they led fearing they might get stuck?  Everywhere they looked their options went from bad to worse.  If they stayed they would have drowned if they went forward they still may die, but it was their only option for a possible way out.

Maybe we haven’t been in a scenario as drastic as the Poseidon movie where our lives depended on it.  But we all have been in situations when we open our eyes and all we see is the fear that surrounds us.  It doesn’t matter which way we look it’s there and we can’t escape it.  I don’t know about you, but when I live in the ‘what if’ and look for the ‘bad’ things to happen, fear gets the best of me.  When my focus is on the fear, fear is all I see.

We may not like our situations. We may not choose them. But know it could always be worse. Click To Tweet

Maybe you are in a situation like the scene on the ship, if you stay you’ll drown but if you go forward, there is fear of the unknown of not knowing how it will all turn out.

When we let go of our fears and release them to God, we allow Him to take care of them instead of trying to control the situation ourselves.  He is our way out.  Our fears will always squash our hopes, our joy, and growth because we are trusting in what we see and not in what God is able to do.

The verse in Isaiah, I’m reminded of what God was able to accomplish through the Israelites when they trusted in Him.  They saw the enemy armies attacking, coming at them full force and God said, “The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still” (Exodus 14:14).  He then provided a way out for them when he parted The Red Sea when they trusted in Him.

I’m reminded what God did for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace when they stood up against Nebuchadnezzar.  They refused to take orders from the king and only would obey their one true king–God.  When they stood their ground, God protected them when they were thrown into the blazing furnace.  Not a hair on their body was singed nor did they smell like smoke.  God protected them in their obedience.

When we put our trust in God in what He is able to do and keep our eyes on Him we’ll be protected even when our fear surrounds us.

'I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).Click To Tweet

When Jesus lives in our hearts, we are not exempt from having fear or bad things from happening to us.  We are able to be protected from our troubling circumstances when we stand in His presence, focus on God’s power, trust in Him and obey.

Are you surrounded by fear?

Do you trust God with your fears?

Are you hoping to get rid of fear in the New Year?

This New Year, take a deep breath, close your eyes and focus on the One who is able to do the impossible.  Trust in Him.  Allow Him to lead you, He knows the way out.  You are loved, my friend!

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive the FREE E-Book “The Jericho Prayer,” and a weekly Monday Message.  Like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

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Mary- A Heart Prepared

 

Are you getting ready for Christmas?  I don’t know about you, but every year I get caught off guard with all the preparation to get ready for Christmas!  It seems no matter how much I plan, there is always something to get ready for.

The busyness of Christmas can be distracting and overwhelming to our hearts because of all the extra stress the holidays add to our plates.   Then before we know it we are missing out on the very reason why we celebrate Christmas.

A prophet named Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)” (Isa. 7:13-14).

I Love how God Uses the Unlikely to Carry out His Almighty Plan.

In the verse above, the Prophet Isaiah was preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus.

Luke 1:26-35….”God sent the angel…to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary….

Mary was just a young peasant girl who was about to be married.  Why would God choose her?  The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).  The Greek word for highly favored is charis which means grace.  God had found favor in Mary and bestowed a special honor on her.  God sent an angel to prepare Mary’s heart for God’s greater plan.

Gabriel, the angel prepares Mary’s heart, that she will be with child and his name will be Jesus.

Gabriel goes even further and tells Mary five things about her future son.

1.  He will be great.  Luke 1:32

2.  He will be called the Son of the Most High. Luke 1:32

3.  He will be given the throne of His father David.  Luke 1:32

4.  He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.  Luke 1:33

5.  His kingdom will never end.  Luke 1:33

“How will this be,”  Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34).  This is what I love about Mary.  She doesn’t question the fact that the Messiah is coming, but rather that she would be used as a vessel for his arrival, a young virgin peasant girl.  She didn’t doubt or question God’s plan but how will this even be possible since she is a virgin?

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”  (Luke 1:35).  

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like Mary’s.  A heart that is ready to trust and receive God’s promises. Mary’s heart welcomed the angel’s message, by submitting her heart almost immediately after hearing his message!  She didn’t let her doubts or fears get in the way of God’s plan.  She allowed for God’s greater plan to happen through her by submitting her heart to God.  How wise was Mary’s heart to recognize this message could have only come from God Himself.

Mary heard the message of God’s promise, and her heart of faith was reassured by the words, “For nothing is impossible with God”  (Luke 1:37).  She even uttered the words, “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).  No wonder God found favor with Mary.  God already knew Mary’s heart before He chose her.

I want a heart like Mary’s.

Can you imagine if Mary didn’t allow for God’s greater plan to happen and allowed her doubts and fears to get in the way instead?

Have you ever allowed your doubts and fears get in the way of God’s greater plan?

I have many times.

May we all have a heart like Mary's, a heart that faithfully responds to His promises. Click To Tweet

This Christmas before we allow busyness and distractions to take us away from the true meaning of Christmas, let’s stop and allow God to prepare our hearts for His greater plan.  There is a fullness of joy when we stay present in the presence of Jesus.  We can rest assured—that His peace will fill our hearts and joy will fill our souls when we allow for God’s greater plan to happen through us.

A heart prepared is a heart ready to receive God's promises of peace, hope, and joy.Click To Tweet

Have you allowed God to Prepare your heart to receive His Promises this Christmas?

If God sent an angel to you with a message, “Do not be afraid.”  Would you go where God was asking you to go?

Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, thank you God for your greater plan.  Thank you God for Jesus and preparing a place in heaven for us.  We pray we will have a heart like Mary’s, one that is obedient, faithful and trusting of your plan even when we don’t understand.  Prepare our hearts Lord for your greater promises.  We pray we will not get in the way of your plan but allow your greater plan to happen through us.  We pray for your will and ways to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Help us not be afraid like Mary and allow for your greater promises to fill our hearts.  Help us stay present in your presence this Christmas and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Did you enjoy this blog post? 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!  Would you like to know more about the Christmas story!  Join me next Monday as we learn more about what the Christmas story means to you.  

Martin, J. A. (1985). Luke. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 205). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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Where Do Unanswered Prayers Go?

I don’t know about you but I have thought about this question many times.  There have been many prayers I have prayed my whole life, God still hasn’t answered.  Does that mean he doesn’t care?  Does it mean God isn’t listening?  I pray this post encourages you to know that God indeed is listening and he cares and loves you very much.

I have heard many say ‘God didn’t answer my prayer, that must mean he doesn’t love me.’  Even though it may be true God doesn’t answer all of your prayers the way you want them, he isn’t a genie in the bottle waiting to grant our every wish.  God doesn’t work that way.  He is our Father who loves us, who knows what is best for us, who sees the bigger picture and has the best plan ever for our lives.  To not answer our prayers may mean that God has something better waiting ahead.

When our third child was born with a fatal kidney disease, my husband and I prayed for God to please heal our son and for him not to suffer anymore.   We had so many people praying for healing for him.  The day he went to heaven, many were angry (including us at first) and said I can’t believe God didn’t answer your prayer.  Even though God didn’t answer our prayer the way we wanted, he indeed answered our prayer in a bigger way than we could ever imagine.

Our son is living the best life ever in heaven where there is no more pain or suffering, he waits until one day we will see him again.  

When I struggle with ‘Why isn’t God answering my prayer?’  ‘Why is this happening?’  ‘How will I ever get through this?’  I hold onto God’s promises that he is faithful, he loves me and cares about my every need.  He is good all the time and I can rely on him for ALL of my needs.

Where do unanswered prayers go? In God's Hands. He holds them, never forgets them, molding and shaping them into the best life ever for you. Click To Tweet

When I am feeling defeated by my circumstances I think of…………..

The Israelites running away from the attack of the Egyptians.  They cried out to God for help and protection and God provided a way through the Red Sea which provided them with a safe escape and toppled on top of their enemy.

Mary and Martha crying out to God, why didn’t you heal our brother, Lazarus, to see him arise from the dead 4 days later.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace how he kept them protected from the hot flames.  There wasn’t a hair singed on their body and they didn’t even smell like smoke.

I think of Daniel in the lion den.  God sent an angel to shut the mouths of those lions and kept Daniel safe.

It may not seem a likely place to find hope in unanswered prayers, but know that God uses them for good.  He will never waste your prayers or pain.  Your prayers are precious gold to him.

In your trials is where you will find hidden treasures of what God is trying to show you WHEN you allow him to have your struggles and pain.

Do you have unanswered Prayers?  

Did God answer your prayers in a way you didn’t even think was possible?

Keep Praying.  Never Stop.  God is listening.  He is always with you!  God is Faithful!  In God all things are possible!  You never know what Prayers God will answer, know you can always trust him and his plans lead to the best life ever!

In God We can Find Comfort in our Trials.
In God We can Find our Hope despite devastation.
In God We can Find our Peace in the Storms.
In God We can Find Joy in our Struggles.

Keep Fighting the Good Fight with your Prayers!

There is HOPE in our unanswered Prayers!


What do you think God does with unanswered prayers?  

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I pray the God of hope will fill you with Peace as you Trust in Him!  Have a Blessed week!  I would love to hear from you!  Leave Comments Below.


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What is One Thing Holding You Back From Your Biggest Breakthrough?

Do you have that one thing that gets in the way of your biggest breakthrough?  Maybe it’s a quirk, an idiosyncrasy, a flaw that gets in your way? Maybe you struggle with handling money, time management, getting healthy or temptation.  Chances are, the one thing getting in the way is US.

My one thing that is my consistent stumbling is my organization and lies I’ve embraced along the way that I’m not good enough.  If I’m not careful, my disorganization and doubts of myself can be the biggest factor in my downfall.

Whatever our one thing is, they aren’t meant to keep us from our breakthrough they are the catalyst God uses for the breakthrough.   Our flaws and weaknesses can seem like we’re staring at a 90-foot wall, getting in the way of God’s abundant plan for us.  But really they are apart of God’s plan to reveal His greater glory.

Four men who desired a breakthrough more than anything were lepers waiting for their chance to live a life they never had.   

In 2 Kings, these four leper men lived outside of the entrance of the city gate. People with skin diseases were forbidden by law to reside within the community. They were considered outcasts. These four men spent their days begging for food. At the time there was a great famine and war going on—times were tough for everyone.

One day the men said to each other, “Why should we sit here waiting to die?”   “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway” 2 Kings 7:3-4.

The men recognized if they stayed where they were, there was a 100% chance they would starve and die. If they went out to the battlefield and surrendered to the army, they had a small chance of survival. Imagine this scene. These four lepers probably spent the greater part of their lives staring at the gate that separated them from the city begging for food—it’s the only life they have ever known. Now they are about to embark on an unknown path without fully knowing if they will live or die.

“So at twilight, they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there! For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching.  So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives.” (2 Kings 7:5-6-7).

I can’t imagine the courage it took the men to go past the gates that was forbidden to enter so they could have a fighting chance for their future. The odds were already against these four men, but God had worked everything out before they even got to the battle lines, they only needed to take one step of faith. God caused the army to hear an opposing army approaching, which caused them to flee!

“When the men with leprosy arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace” (2 Kings 7:8-9).

How surprised were these men when they found no one there and abundant riches waiting for them? They went from starving to trusting in God, to receive the most lavish gifts ever in their lives. How would you respond? Would you share your newly found riches with someone else or keep them to yourself?

The response of the lepers astounds me. They lived in squalor conditions most of their lives. Their immediate response was to share with the very people who considered them outcasts!

“So they went back to the city and told the gatekeepers what had happened. “We went out to the Aramean camp,” they said, “and no one was there! The horses and donkeys were tethered and the tents were all in order, but there wasn’t a single person around!” Then the gatekeepers shouted the news to the people in the palace” (2 Kings 7:10-11).

How great is our God?

Leprosy was the one thing that kept these men from living in community with others, but God used it in the end, to bring them together. No one else had the courage to go towards the battle except these men.

What is one thing that holds you back from your breakthrough?

Maybe it’s fear. shame. pride. doubt. worry. anxiety. You’re one thing may be the very thing keeping you from the abundant freedom God desires for you.

I am encouraged by the courage of these four men. They were willing to abandon everything that was comfortable to them and go towards where God was asking them to go—towards the battle. When they did, God had already gone ahead of them and worked everything out. When they let go of the one thing that was holding them back, God filled them abundantly more than what they could ever ask for or imagine.

Are you ready for a breakthrough?  You Are………

We are only one prayer from our next breakthrough.  If you desire a breakthrough start praying, ask God to reveal what is getting in the way and give it to Him.  I promise when you say yes to God and surrender our stumbling block to him, He will be there waiting to fill you abundantly more than whatever you could ask for or imagine. God is greater.

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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.

 

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Anchored in Hope

I will never forget the time we had to take our daughter to the hospital when she fell off a stool.  It was dinnertime and she was wiggling around on a not so stable wooden stool.  I had asked her to please stop wiggling around because she was going to fall and get hurt.  She was 5 years old at the time and was working on her listening skills.  I turned around to plate my dinner then heard a loud crash and immediate screaming.  I turned to see streams of blood running from my daughter’s finger.  She had smashed her pinkie finger under the wooden stool onto the tile floor.  I immediately picked her up and applied pressure to her finger with a paper towel.

We knew she needed more than stitches.  As I drove her to the hospital, fear filled her mind with what was going to happen when she arrived in the emergency room.  She was deathly afraid of needles and hospitals.  Our son had died a year earlier and her perception of hospitals was, when a person gets sick they might not come home.  I kept reassuring her that the doctors would fix her finger and she definitely was coming home with me.

After the doctors examined her, they confirmed she needed surgery.  In life, there are some things that can only be explained as God orchestrated moments.  Because the next part of the story I never imagined happening, not in a million lifetimes.  Since Brooklyn’s finger was an open wound she needed IV antibiotics.  She needed to stay overnight and receive her surgery in the morning.  We were in the same hospital our son died.  As the attendant was wheeling my daughter down the hall, everything looked so familiar.  I asked, “Are we going to the intensive care unit?”  He said, “Since the new hospital was built, the old intensive care unit is now used for surgery overflow patients.”

If you can even imagine, we were taken to the very unit our son had died only a year and a half prior.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I started questioning God, “Why did you bring me here?”  Our Father in heaven knows exactly what we need to achieve wholehearted healing.  He knew what I needed even when I didn’t.  He knew I needed to face my fears head on even if it hurt.

When we let go of what we hold so tightly onto, God will fill it with something so much greater and better.

Brooklyn had a successful surgery, everything went well.  After we were discharged, I asked Brooklyn, “Will you walk into Bowen’s room with me?”  I knew if God brought me all the way here, I mine as well visit the last place I held our son alive in our arms.  When I walked into the room I received an overwhelming gift of peace that went beyond understanding.  I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with me, telling me ‘You don’t have anything to fear or worry about, I have your son and am taking care of him.’  I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders that I have never felt before.  When I walked towards where God was asking me to go, I received the greatest reward of hope and peace.

I received another gift that day.  The hospital where our son died was a place of horror for me.  That day, God replaced my horrific memory with a new one.  The same emergency room door we walked out of with empty arms, is the same door we walked out of holding onto our daughter’s hand.  God was a replacing our painful memory with a healing one–one that offered an endless amount of hope.

Have you ever felt hopeless in your situation?

Our daughter is ten years old now and remembers the day she fell off the stool.  Her finger is a daily reminder of how God restores and renews us.  Whenever she sits on a stool we still mention don’t wiggle around!  It’s amazing the pearls of wisdom that come out of the mouth of babes.  She recently sat on a stool that was anchored to the ground.  She discovered she could wiggle around all she wanted and the stool would never fall.  She said, “I need this stool to keep me safe.”  She recognized there is safety when things are anchored to a strong foundation.

Hebrews 6:18 NLT

“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.”

God keeps His word and promises.

Hebrews 6:19 NIV

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,”

 

Like an anchor holding a ship safely from drifting off,  our hope in Jesus ensures our safety.  A ship’s anchor goes down to the bottom of the ocean to ground it.  Our anchor is secured in the true heavenly sanctuary that anchors to God Himself.

When storms come our way we can be kept safe when our hope is anchored in God. Click To Tweet

 

Are you anchored in Hope?

 

What gives you hope in your storms?

 

God is faithful, He will never leave you.

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