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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!

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The Great Escape

In a few days, Christmas will be over.  Gifts will be given and presents will be opened. Just because Christmas will be over doesn’t mean the story of Jesus ends.

A very important prayer was answered over 2,000 years ago that changed the course of our lives forever.  During the time of the birth of Jesus, King Herod an appointed Roman ruler was king of Jerusalem.  He was a very ruthless and mean man.  He murdered his wife, his 3 sons, his mother-in-law, uncle, babies in Bethlehem and many others.  He was not a person the Jews wanted as their king.  They very much were waiting and praying for a new king, one that would save them from Herod’s rule (Matthew 2:1-2).

It all started with the Magi, the wise men who were following a star that predicted the birth of Jesus, the king of the Jews.  Even though the Magi were Gentiles, they went to seek Him in Jerusalem the Jewish capital city so they could worship Him (Matthew 2:2).  But after meeting with the chief priests and teachers they discovered baby Jesus wasn’t in Jerusalem but born in Bethlehem.
When King Herod heard the news of a possible king being born, he was angry.  He called upon the Magi to tell them “Go and make a careful search for the child.  As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (Matthew 2:7).  What the Magi didn’t know was Herod was an evil man and never had any intentions to worship the new king.
The Magi were overjoyed when they finally met baby Jesus and Mary.  They brought them gifts and bowed and worshipped Him (Matthew 2:10-11).  In their rejoicing, Satan was at work behind the scenes, using Herod as his vessel, creating a plan to have baby Jesus killed.
I love how God intervenes to protect His will and plan. 
How was baby Jesus able to escape the evil plan of the Satan?

3 Ways God Intervened:

  1. God warned the Maggi about Herod’s evil plan in a dream.  The Magi decided not to return to Herod but back to their country by another route (Matthew 2:12).  Herod learned he had been outwitted by the Magi, that he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under (Matthew 2:16).
  2. God sent an angel to appear to Joseph in a dream.  The angel said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.  Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (Matthew 2:13).  So Joseph and Mary left with baby Jesus to Egypt until the death of Herod.
  3. After Herod died God sent another angel in a dream to Joseph telling him it was safe to head back to Israel (Matthew 2:19).

God was always one step ahead of Satan.  He knew Satan was using Herod for his evil plan, in an attempt to stop one of God’s greatest plans ever—God is bigger.

God heard and answered the prayers of those praying for a new king and saved (Mary, Joseph and Jesus) from the evil hand of Herod. God provided a way to escape from the plans of the evil one.  His merciful hands had it under control the entire time.
Satan will always be at work trying to prevent God’s plans from happening.  Whatever our circumstances are please know, if God is able to provide Mary, Joseph and Jesus an escape from Satan’s evil plans then God is able to do the same for us.  You are loved!
The only temptations that you have are the temptations that all people have. But you can trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to stand it.  (1 Corinthians 10:13 ICB).
God’s timing and plan are perfect in every way.  If God can answer a prayer from 2,000 years ago, He can answer yours as well.
Your Prayers Matter.  Don’t forget to include PRAYER in Your Christmas Story.   You never know what one prayer can do, it might just change your life or someone else’s.
Do you include Prayer in your Christmas Story?
What have you prayed for this Christmas?
Here is a Christmas Prayer for you.  

A Christmas Prayer-

Dear God-  Thank you for your amazing gift of Jesus this Christmas.  Thank you for hearing our prayers and sending us Savior, a Messiah one that will redeem our world.  You are so merciful and gracious.  Thank you for sparing us and delivering us from the hands of the evil one.  May your light shine through us this Christmas to others.  May they see your bright light and know you have sent them a Savior.  May everyone know and witness your love.  May everyone receive the greatest gift of all this Christmas, eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen
Enjoy your families and know you are loved!
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Praying Like it Counts

Have you ever prayed so hard for a prayer you desired God to answer?

Not just any ordinary prayer haphazardly thrown up to heaven, in hopes God will answer. But praying like you believe God is able to move the mountains. Praying as your life depended upon it.

Maybe you’re praying, for your marriage to be restored, for someone to be healed from a sickness, or for a struggle or temptation to be removed from your life.

Whatever circumstance you’re praying for, do you believe God is able?

One person in the Bible who reminds me what happens when we pray like it counts is Nehemiah. Two main events happen in the book of Nehemiah, the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem and the return of the Jewish exiles, none of which would have happened without prayer.

When Nehemiah heard about the suffering of his people and the destruction of Jerusalem’s walls, his heart was broken.

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel”. Nehemiah 1:4-6

This was not the first time the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed. They had been rebuilt under the leadership of Ezra in 516 BC which took almost 20 years.

When Nehemiah heard the news the city wall of Jerusalem had been destroyed and his people were in exile, he prayed for an entire 4 months, before making any decisions. After the 4 months of prayer were over the wall was rebuilt in just 52 days.

What was the difference?

  1. Nehemiah didn’t let the knowledge of the previous wall under Ezra’s care deter him from rebuilding the wall.
  2. Nehemiah never lost sight of God’s purpose of doing this WITH God not FOR God. He stayed in prayer to receive God’s mission until the job was done.
  3. Nehemiah’s strong leadership skills- He knew his team. He dealt with noblemen, priests, tradesman, servants, etc. Although they didn’t have the enneagram personality test to determine what everyone’s skill sets were, Nehemiah had wise decisive skills that allowed him to use his team to the best of their abilities. When the complaints and doubts poured in, he put a stop to them before they could undermine the work.
  4. Nehemiah never allowed the obstacles of the wall to be bigger than God. Even though Nehemiah faced a lot of inward and outward opposition during the wall rebuilding, staying in prayer allowed him to discern when someone or something was trying to throw his mission off course.
  5. Nehemiah’s story is a testimony of what God is able to do when we pray like it counts. His fervent prayer was enough to move God’s heart, to help him stay focused on God’s purpose in completing the wall. When we embrace God’s purpose for us, staying focused on his purpose and not our obstacles, God will move our obstacles.

Click To Tweetit, and it will be yours’  Mark 11:24.'” quote=”Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[a]it, and it will be yours’  Mark 11:24.'”]

 

What obstacles are you facing?

Do you believe God is able?

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What’s My Focus?

 

The other day I had the most vivid dream.  I’m not much of a dreamer, but for some reason, this dream was so vivid and clear.  I could remember the details and emotions elicited by the dream like I was there experiencing it first hand.  From past posts I’ve shared, I like to run.  In this dream, I had trained and prepared for a race.

I remember being in a car driving to the race, trying to get there, but something was always getting in the way–traffic, crowds, roadblocks.  I remember feeling anxious thinking I wasn’t going to make the start of the race.  Then the race started and I wasn’t at the start line.  The crowds of runners passed by me.  Feelings of disappointment and failure rummaged through my heart as I watched the runners pass me. I had prepared and trained for a race I could only watch and not participate in.  Every which way I turned, every time I tried, something got in my way to prevent me from getting to the start line.

After I awoke from my dream, I felt like I failed (nice way to start the day).  I felt the devastation of not completing the race, thinking what does all this mean?  I spent time in prayer asking God the meaning of the dream and heard his gentle response.  He asked me a very simple question, “Are you going to continue to focus on your stumbling blocks or allow me to take care of them?”  “Focus on my purpose for you, I will take care of your stumbling blocks.”

God was right.  At the time of this dream, I was a hot mess.  I was in an ugly rut of taking matters into my own hands, trying to handle things my way, amplifying the stumbling blocks that laid before me.  God was trying to show me, my struggles, my inadequacies, my unbelief will always keep me away from His purpose for me.  Focusing on my struggles making them bigger than God will always take me out of the race, not allowing me to participate and worse yet not finish.

When we live in God's purpose for us, it doesn't matter what struggles or obstacles lie in front of us, if it is His will, He will move them. Click To Tweet

At the time of my dream, I was studying the book of Nehemiah.  If you haven’t read Nehemiah, it is such a wonderful reminder of what God can do when we discover and live in His purpose.  God chose Nehemiah to carry out what He had promised to Abraham.  The Jewish people spent many years in exile and now it was time for God to come through with His promise for restoration of Jerusalem, their holy city.

Nehemiah’s heart was broken when he received news his people (The Jews) were in great trouble and the wall of Jerusalem was broken down.  Once Nehemiah heard of the turmoil, his burning desire to help his people became the sole purpose of his existence.  Two qualities I admire most in Nehemiah were his wise, decisive leadership skills to lead people in the hard work of completing the wall and his prayerful heart.

Before taking on this task of rebuilding this massive wall, Nehemiah devoted four whole months in prayer, praying and fasting before taking action!  Once the four months was over, it only took 52 days to rebuild the wall!  What is so amazing about this task, about 60 years prior Jerusalem’s wall was destroyed and rebuilt which took 20 years to rebuild!

What was the difference?

In both occurrences of the wall, there were obstacles, inward and outward oppression getting in the way of God’s purpose of rebuilding the wall.

Neh. 2:10-  There were enemies getting in the way of rebuilding the wall

Neh.  4:10-11 There was doubt, discouragement, laziness, and fear

Neh. 5:1-5-  The Jews and their families were being exploited as slaves

Neh. 6:1-8- There was an evil conspiracy plotted against Nehemiah to lure him away from the wall

Neh. 6:10-14- Lying prophets tryied to tempt Nehemiah to sin

Nehemiah 6:9 'For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, 'Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.' But now, O God, strengthen my hands.'Click To Tweet

Nehemiah was successfully able to complete the task of finishing the wall because He stayed in prayer and focused on God’s purpose, not the obstacles.

Our obstacles will always prevent us from finishing the race.  Satan will throw obstacles in our path to prevent us from living in God’s purpose for us, to keep us from His plan because He knows God’s ways are greater and better than anything we could ever imagine.

When our focus is on what God is able to do, God will move our obstacles out of the way.Click To Tweet

We have a choice– Focus on our problems or Focus on God’s purpose.

Nehemiah never lost sight of completing the wall WITH God not FOR God.  He stayed in prayer and asked for God’s wisdom never faltering from His purpose.  Our struggles, our unbelief, our doubts, our past, and insecurities will always keep us away from God’s purpose.  We can choose to amplify our struggles or allow it to be God’s platform for what he’s able to do.

What is your focus?

Do obstacles get in the way of God’s purpose for you?

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Failures Don’t Define Us

Have you ever failed something?  Not just a little failure, but a big failure that defined the course of your life?  I’ve shared in other posts the failure that changed my perspective was when I failed my nursing boards.  But what if you have a constant failure in your life one you have to deal with every day?

I’ve shared before about our daughter Brooklyn who has dyslexia which there is no cure.  She will have dyslexia for the rest of her life.  Every day she’s reminded of her inability to interpret text when she’s asked to read something.  Her deficits and inadequacies are amplified every time she’s asked to spell a word.  I can’t imagine what she goes through on a daily basis fighting the battle within thinking she’s not smart and not capable to do what others can do.

As a mother, I have a choice in how to treat my daughter and my daughter has a choice in how she will respond.  Will, I treat her that she has a disability and allow her to use it as a crutch to make excuses for why she can’t?  Or will I show her I believe in her and give her the skills she needs so she can run?

Many of us believe the lie, our failures define us and hold us back from our future.  

Praise God we serve a God who is bigger and is able.  

We are more than our past failures.  We are more than our weakest link.  God uses our weakest traits as a catalyst to propel us towards his greatest plans.  Our weaknesses are not an excuse to go through life walking with a limp, but an opportunity to learn how to overcome and grow stronger for what God has in store for us.

Our failures don’t define us, God’s truth does.

I am always so amazed how God uses the unlikely to carry out His almighty plan.  He doesn’t use the strongest, the wisest or even the most powerful to carry out His plans.  Instead, he used a little shepherd boy named David, a young teenager named Jeremiah and a man with a stuttering problem named Moses.

When you are chosen, you can’t run or hide from God’s choice.  God sees so much more in us than we will ever see in ourselves.  When God chose Moses to go before Pharaoh, Moses wasn’t so sure.

Exodus 4:10 “And Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord.  I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.  I am slow of speech and tongue.”

I love God’s response to Moses.

Exodus 4:11-13 “The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute?  Who gives them sight or makes them blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

God didn’t say to Moses, ‘you know you’re right, my plan is never going to work because you don’t have the skills to be a great leader.’  Instead, God reminds Moses, who made you and gave you the ability to hear and see?

We may feel deficient.  Not adequate.  Not prepared.  But God will never ask us to go somewhere without equipping us with the skills we need to accomplish what he is asking of us.  The tasks God asks may be hard and difficult.  They may even seem impossible, but God is bigger.

Jesus reminds us inLuke 18:27, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'Click To Tweet

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. “

When Moses went before Pharaoh, he had already provided a way and means to communicate to Pharaoh, his brother Aaron.  He provided the words and the details of what to do.  Moses was merely God’s vessel and needed his obedience.  Moses had no idea how everything was going to turn out, but God did.

I can’t always be there advocating for my daughter in what she needs to succeed, but with tutors, teachers and a strong support system, we are going to give her the skills so she can fly.  I never want her dyslexia to be a stumbling block and reason why she can’t but the reason why she overcomes and succeeds.

 

Just because my daughter has dyslexia doesn’t mean she’s deficient.

Just because Moses had a stuttering problem didn’t mean he was incapable.

2 Corinthians 3:4-5, 'Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves, but our competence comes from God.' Click To Tweet

Where we fall short, God makes up for our deficiencies and accomplishes His greatest plans through us.

We have two choices.  Allow the limitations of our deficits to confine us and stay in cycles of brokenness or allow God to use our deficits to refine us and move forward in His plans for us.

Do you believe God is bigger?

How will you allow your deficits to impact you? To confine or refine?

Has God helped you do the impossible?

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What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Pray

Have you ever sat down to pray and just didn’t know what to say? Or felt like your prayers were empty and meaningless? Or if God was even listening?

Prayer is one the most important things we can do in our lives, yet when life gets busy, its one of the first things we omit out of our daily schedules and what we give up when we do don’t see ‘our prayers working.’

Maybe one of the reasons prayer can be so difficult is because of its meaning.

In English, Pray means ‘to ask or beg.’

In Hebrew, the word for Pray Tefillah means to ‘self-examine.’ The root word for Tefillah is Tofel, which means to ‘attach, join or bind together.’

In Aramaic, the word for Pray salah means ‘to bow, worship.’

In Greek, the word for Pray proseuchomai means to ‘supplicate, to worship.’

As one can see, the definition for pray has a variety of definitions. So which definition is correct?

All of them.

Prayer is a way to worship God, it is a way to sit before God to self-examine ourselves and how we ask God to intercede on our behalf and bow before Him in His presence.

Nonetheless, prayer doesn’t have one singular definition and fit into a box. Making prayer fit one singular definition would limit God’s abundant meaning, purpose, and power for prayer. The purpose of prayer isn’t solely meant to just ask God for our own needs and personal gain, or just to ‘self-examine’ ourselves or just to worship. Prayer goes way beyond that.

Prayer is our invitation to God to open the door for His divine power to move the mountains in our lives and others. Taking our struggles to God through prayer invites Him into our lives, brings us into His presence and binds us closer together with Him.

So what do we say when we don’t know what to pray?

God doesn’t judge our prayers. They don’t have to be filled with eloquent words or with verbatim Scripture. We don’t have to be on our knees, bow our heads or even fold our hands. The prayer posture and how we pray is God’s least concern. God is more concerned about when we don’t pray and the condition of our hearts. Our prayers are a way to get our hearts right with God and communicate with Him.

If you struggle with what to say during prayer here is a prayer tool that may help.

Praise
Repent
Ask
Yield

PRAISE
If you don’t know what to say, start with the very nature of what prayer is, praise. Some of the best prayers written in the Bible are prayers of praise spoken by David in the Psalms. Start telling God everything you are thankful for. Praising God first sets our hearts and minds on our Creator and His greatness and puts us in His presence. Praise purifies and softens our hearts, so we can hear what God is saying. (James 4:6-10)

REPENT
Next comes the hard part of what prayer is—repentance. No one likes to admit their wrongs or even speak them out loud. Confessing our sins to God opens a door for His forgiveness, so we don’t allow sin to reign in our lives but allow more room for God’s truth and grace. Confession allows us to humbly come before our Lord, lay our burdens at His feet, so He can do something greater than we ever could on our own. Confession invites God in to intervene on our behalf. (Matt. 3:8, Isa. 30:15).

ASK
Next, tell God all that is troubling you. He wants to hear what is in your heart. He wants every part of you, struggles and all. Ask God for help and healing, to supply for your needs, your provision, safety, wisdom, discernment, guidance, direction. God is always bigger than our struggles and can handle anything we ask of Him. (Phil. 4:19)

YIELD
Lastly, yield to God. Submitting our ways to God to His will and way allows for God’s greater plan to happen through us. Pray for God’s desires to be your desires. At the end of the day, it’s about God’s plans, not ours. (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:7)

We may not always know what to say, but know when we are silent that is what Satan desires for us. Click To Tweet

Satan tries to limit your praying because he knows your praying will limit him. ~Zig Ziglar

Next time you pray, don’t allow Satan to keep you silent. Cutting prayer out of our lives, cuts our direct communication and relationship off with God, which is exactly what Satan wants. Your prayers matter and make a difference to God. Never stop praying, He is listening.

What is one action step you can take today, to make prayer more meaningful and purposeful in your life?

What does prayer mean to you?

What do you pray when you don’t know what to say?

Prayer- Dear Lord, We praise you even when we don’t understand. We thank you for your greatness and power of what you are able to do. We know prayer can move mountains but can let the busyness of life to get in the way of doing what matters most—spending time with you. Forgive us, Lord, for allowing busyness and distractions get in the way of what you desire for us. Help us stay committed and devoted in prayer daily and integrate it into our lives. We praise you, in Jesus name. Amen.

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