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Do You Know What You Need?

Do you know what you need?

I can tell you better what I want more than what I need.  I want a big piece of chocolate cake without reaping the consequences.  I want my kids to be obedient without giving me a hard time.  I want to work less, sleep in and go on vacation more.  The same goes for my kids.  I ask are you hungry, do you want something to eat?  Ten minutes later they tell me they’re hungry.  I’ve learned over the years don’t do what they say, do what they need.

What I need?  That’s a different story.  I know I need to be discipline even though I don’t want to.  If I wasn’t disciplined I would eat whatever I wanted, let time go by and never get anything done.

Not knowing what we need is apart of most of our stories.

Did you know in America there are over 52,000 Self-Storage units?  That means despite the 65% of Americans who already have garages to store ‘stuff,’ there’s an additional 21 extra feet to store more ‘stuff.’

In a study of overeating rats, Scientists examined their eating habits and their reward system (dopamine receptors).  What they found was once the rats started down the path of overeating it drove them towards a dysfunctional reward system.  In order to feel the ‘reward’ or satisfaction of eating they had to eat more in order to feel the ‘reward,’ which led them to their downfall.

It makes me question with our hoarding and addictive tendencies, do we even know what we need?Click To Tweet

Give me what I need not what I want.

One story in the Bible reminds me of what happens when we look within and seek God for provision instead of relying on ourselves or the world to rescue us.

In 2 Kings, a widow who was in financial trouble came to Elisha who her husband had worked for.  She tells Elisha of her troubles, how creditors are looking for her.  Elisha asks her, “How can I help you?  Tell me, what do you have in your house? (2 Kings 4:2).  She tells him I don’t have anything except a small jar of oil.

Elisha then tells her go to your neighbors and ask for jars, bring them back to your house, shut the door, pour the oil into all the jars and put them to the side (2 Kings 4:4).

“She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons.  They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring until they were full” (2 Kings 4:5).

3 Lessons from the Heart:

Three important lessons can be learned from this message.

 1.  She Chose Wisdom.  Out of desperation, the widow who was in fear of losing her two sons to the creditor as slaves, turned towards Elisha, a man of wisdom.  As a widow she was in a desperate situation, no husband, no way to financially provide for her sons, she chose to seek counsel of a wise man (Elisha) instead of acting out her fear.

2.  God Provided.  Elisha asked, “What do you have?”  When the widow came to Elisha, he didn’t immediately dive in to rescue her by giving her what she needed, he pointed her to look within to see what she already had.  As Christians we are called to love others, but we also can be guilty of taking over the role as the Savior and rescue people from their situations instead of helping them gain the skills they need to do for themselves.  There comes a time when helping helps and when helping hurts.  Elisha didn’t create a cycle of dependency, he gave her the skills to utilize the resources she already had.

3.  God Multiplied.  The oil never stopped flowing until all the jars were filled.  God used what she had and made it plentiful, into more than she needed.  Elisha said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts.  You and your sons can live on what is left. (2 Kings 4:7).  The jar plan Elisha told her, sounded kind of crazy.  But she trusted and obeyed and God multiplied what she had.

How Amazing is our God?

One thing the widow did that makes an impression on my heart is how she embraced the suffering.  She was dealing with the grief of her husband, having to be the primary breadwinner/caretaker of her sons and deal with everything on her own.  She didn’t throw her hands up, say ‘I give up,’ and let her sons be sold as slaves.

When she pursued wisdom and embraced the suffering, it drastically changed her situation.Click To Tweet

What do you need?

Looking at our world, there is an epidemic of brokenness.  A world that turns towards crime, drugs, prostitution, eating, hoarding to fill a void of something we all desperately need–LOVE.

We can have everything taken from us but if we still have love, we have everything we need.  Things and stuff can be replaced but the love from others cannot.

God’s love is the solution to brokenness.

God's love has the power to mend and provide in ways this world can never do. Click To TweetDo you need Love?  Leave a comment below how can I pray for you?

The best way to receive love is to give it.  Who can you love on?  A widow, a person who needs groceries, a parent who could use a date night?  Every small act of kindness makes an impact in someone else’s life.

Prayer-  Dear Lord,  Give me what I need, not what I want.  When I ask for what I want, it makes me dependent upon worldly things that leaves me only wanting more temporary rewards.  I need you Lord.  I want you God.  You are my Maker, my Lord who knows what I need.  Help me seek you, stay focused on you so you can give me the desires of my heart.  Help me be like the widow, who chose wisdom, had faith and trusted in you Lord and allowed you to lead her Lord.  I thank you and praise you for who you are.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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What Is One Answer You Want To Know?

What Is The One Answer You Want To Know?

There are so many questions, yet so little answers.  Have you been waiting on an answer from God about a question that burns deep within?  Seven years ago when our son died, I had a question, “Why?” Oh how I was on a search and mission to discover the answer to the why.  Do you know what happened in my search?  I got further and further away from the answer.  I sank deeper and deeper into the despair of my grief.  My life became utter chaos, everything was out of order nothing was in my control.

In these moments I take matters into my own hand, God so gently whispers into my ear, ‘dear child, if I told you the answer to the why you still wouldn’t understand.  The only answer you need to know is I LOVE YOU.’

There are so many times in the Bible questions were asked and do you know how God responds?  With a another question.  I’ve wondered why does God answer with another question, then it dawned on me.  He answers with a question to reveal the answer within us he already knows.  How well would we understand if he told us the answer?  We understand so much better when we come to the answer ourselves.

I love how God meets us right where we are.

He Sees Us In Our Despair

In Genesis 7-13, God sent an angel to Hagar after she was sent away by Sarai and asks her- “Where have you come from and where are you going?” God already knew the answer yet asked anyway, to give her a very important message.  God sees us in our despair.  In God, He reveals himself as El-Roi, the God who sees us.

He Sees Us When We Hide

In Genesis 3:9-13, God asks Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” after they ate the forbidden fruit.  He then asked, “What is this you have done?”  God already knew the answer yet asks the questions anyway, to let them know, hey I’m God, I know and see everything, there is nowhere you can hide where I can’t see you (Jeremiah 23:16-24).

He Meets Us in Our Unbelief

In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus approaches a situation of a crowd arguing and asks a few questions, “What are you arguing about?” “How long have I been with you?” A father desperately wants healing for his son who is possessed by a demon.   Right before Jesus arrived, the disciples were there trying to cast out the demon but were unsuccessful.  Jesus asks the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” The father responds, “But if you can do anything….”  Wow IF you can?  Jesus knew all the answers to every single question yet the crowd and disciples didn’t even know what they are arguing about until Jesus draws out the answer.

'All things are possible for one who believes.' Mark 9:23Click To Tweet

Don’t you wish God had a telephone number you could call him up at anytime, ask him any question and he provided an immediate answer?

In all of these situations, God knows the answer.  He knows what’s in our hearts.  He sees what we’re going through and what we’re struggling with.  He pursues us.  Meets us where we are and yet we still pursue the answer to what we want to know.

There is no harm in pursuing answers to our questions, but when the pursuit of the answer consumes us and brings more despair, maybe it's time we give our pursuit to God.Click To Tweet

We let him lead us so we can hear what He has to say.  We allow Him to ask us the questions so we can discover the deeper answer within us.

God is close to the broken-hearted.  Our brokenness draws us closer and nearer to him to hear him.  We may not always like God’s plans or what He has to say, but know the only answer we need to know is He LOVES US.  He knows what’s best for us.  We may not like it or want it, but know God is good all the time and desires the best for us.  There may be times when we suffer but know God knows the way through our suffering.  Jesus suffered too.  If anyone knows anything about suffering, it’s God.

Only God can turn our suffering into a door of hope.  Into His glory.  Into His greatest blessings.

What is the one answer you want to know?

Where has the search for the Answer led you?

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3 Ways To Pray For Your Family With Confidence

3 Ways to Pray For Your Family With Confidence

If you are apart of a family most likely you know where they are.  Nowadays there are apps to locate loved ones or smart homes to let you know when they arrive home.  I am one that is not so technologically advanced and  have to rely on my kids or youtube to help me with certain tasks on the phone.

One app our family downloaded, is the Life 360 app which can tell me the exact location of my family.  I simply click on the app and pictures of my family pop up on the map of where they are located.  The app comes in handy when I’m  at work and it’s not my day to carpool.  I know when the kids arrive at school because the app alerts me, they arrived!  The app also tells me how much battery life each family member’s phone has to let me know if their phone is about to die in case I’m not able to get ahold of them.

Isn’t it nice to know the location of your family and they are safe?

Knowing the location of our families isn’t just important in the physical sense, knowing where they are spiritually is just as important.  We need to keep track, so we where they are and if they are safe.

3 Ways to Pray for Your Family With CONFIDENCE:

1.  Know Where They Are.  Can you confidently say 100% my loved one is going to heaven?  This is one of the most important questions to ask yet we shy away from it, why?  Because we’re afraid we might hurt feelings or don’t want to offend anyone?  Not asking you’re loved one where they are spiritually is a greater loss than asking them–Do they believe?  Knowing where they are spiritually can give you a better idea of how to pray for them.  Pray for opportunities to share Jesus in a non-confrontational way, pray for doors to be opened for you or others to speak truth and grace into their lives, for them to receive the love of Jesus.
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:2-4
2.  Know Where They Are Going.  More than anything I want to confidently say all MY Family is going to heaven.  More than anything I want to say I will see them there one day.  In the above verses, Jesus is speaking to Thomas and at this point he’s confused and asks Jesus, “We don’t know where you are going.  How can we know the way?” (John 14:5 ESV).  Jesus then responds………..

Do you know where your family is going?

Praying for our family’s eternal salvation is one of the most important life changing prayers we can pray.  I have been praying for family members my whole life that one day they will accept Jesus and go to heaven.  Don’t give up, keep praying you never know how God will work.
3.  Know Where They’ve Been.  I’m not talking about in a creepy stalker way, I’m saying in a loving concerned way.  Can you say with confidence I know where my kids/family have been, what they’re doing, who they’ve been hanging out with?  Can you confidently say I know what they’ve been exposed to, for how long and if they are in safe situations?  We all slip up and make mistakes.  But allowing consistent patterns of losing track of where they are can create new paths of not knowing where they will be going.
We want to train up our children to be the ones that transform the world not be transformed by the world.  Pray you will stay alert, ask the right questions, that you’re loved one will open up to you and be honest.  Pray for opportunities to have good/hard conversations.  Pray you will have the right words to say and your loved one will be open to listen.
And above all seek wisdom and obedience.  A surrendered heart accepts the will of God better than any disobedient heart.
More than anything, I want to confidently say my family is safe and I know where they are going.  If you haven’t had that conversation with your loved, ask yourself why not?  What’s holding you back from asking?
God has planned a place for us.  He has planned a way for us to get there–through Jesus.  And He plans to come back to get us.  Will you and you’re family be ready?

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure”  (Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT).  

When we believe in Jesus and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we are all apart of one big family.  How amazing will it be when we are reunited again with our loved ones?  How amazing will it be to know we are all in the same place?

Just as our phones can’t operate without being charged our physical lives can’t operate without sleep and nourishment, as our spiritual lives can’t survive without a relationship with God.  Staying in prayer, staying in His word, not only gives us the spiritual strength we need but also transforms our hearts and lives.  There is a Bible app that can help refill our spiritual lives that has lots of info of the place God has prepared for us.

We don’t have to have it all together to follow Jesus, in fact Jesus loves broken people.  He loves everyone no matter who they are.  When Jesus comes back he’s not going to ask us, “Do you believe everything the Bible says?”  He’s going to ask, “Do you believe I sent my son to die for you?”

If you are a believer, you become my sister or brother in Christ.  Nothing brings me more joy than to know my brothers and sisters are going to heaven.  We become apart of the same lineage, adopted into the same family.  If you’re struggling, it’s okay to wrestle with God and question why?  I promise you He has the answer to your pain, your heartache and struggle–His love.  God loves you more than anything.

Do you believe?

Can you confidently say all my family is going to heaven?  If not start praying with confidence!

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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.
Did you enjoy ‘When You Feel Like An Imposter?’ Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a FREE E-Book “The Jericho Prayer,” and a weekly Monday Message.  Like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.

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The One I Admire Most (Leaders Worth Following)

President’s Day has passed and I’m reflecting on a very important question that our country’s foundation is based upon, many of us may think of but may take a passive approach in answering.

What leader do you admire most?

Who is a leader you esteem worth following?

I finished reading the book “How to Lead When Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority,” by Clay Scoggins.  This book has changed my way of thinking of what it means to be the authority verses being a person of influence.  He identifies what separates a good leader from a great one.

Great leaders love people well.

Great leaders live and lead in a way that’s worth emulating.

Great leaders are lifetime learners.

Great leaders make others feel valued and appreciated.

Great leaders forgive well.

Great leaders lead by action.

Great leaders sacrifice themselves for the good of others.

Great leaders admit their failures.

What do think makes a great leader?

Clay Scoggins challenges us to write down leaders we admire and dissect why do we admire them?

Just to name a few of my favorite leaders Abraham Lincoln, Francis Chan, Corrie Ten Boom, Irena Sendler, and of course Jesus.  I admire all of these leaders for different reasons.

I admire Abraham Lincoln because he was a leader who led by action, admitted his failures and was a lifetime learner.  He defended the defenseless, stood up for social injustice by not following the way the world wanted him to but lead in the direction that was for the greater good of others.

I admire Francis Chan as a leader because he loves others well, lives and leads in a way worth emulating.  Francis Chan’s mission in life is to lead like Jesus.  He doesn’t chase fame or power but the influence of Jesus.

Corrie Ten Boom and Irena Sendler are women after my own heart.  I aspire to be like them.  Corrie and her family hid hundreds of Jews in a secret hiding place in their home to save them from going to concentration camps. Irena saved over two thousand Jewish babies from Nazi death camps.  Both women sacrificed themselves for the good of others, putting others before themselves, which in the end saved the lives of many (Gen. 50:20).

Although all these leaders are great, the one I admire most is Jesus.

Jesus is the ultimate leader.  A leader we all strive to be like.  He changed the trajectory of how leaders should lead not by the words he said, not by throwing around His titles, but by what He did.  Titles such as Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father made Him the highest authority of all.   However, Jesus didn’t use His titles of authority to transform the hearts of people, He used the influence of His mercy and grace.  His role as Humble Servant, Shepherd and Teacher won more hearts than His authority ever did.  He didn’t leverage how much He knew, he leveraged how much we can learn.

'Being a great leader isn't dependent upon having more authority. Great leadership depends upon influence. The more influence cultivated today the more you'll have tomorrow' quote Clay Scoggins.Click To Tweet

Great leaders don’t throw around their clout, beat their chests and say, “I’m in charge!”  They use their influence in a way that inspires others to say, “I want to live and lead like them!”

We don’t have to wait until we’re in a position of authority to make a difference, our time to make a difference is today.  We were all created to be a leader in one or another.  Whatever your role is as a teacher, a parent, a coach, a musician, a caretaker, an administrator or a janitor we all have our roles in God’s greater kingdom.  How we lead here on earth prepares us for our day in heaven.

In order for us to have a chance at being a loving culture, to make a difference where we are, we must emulate the best leader of all.  It starts right here, right now, with US.  I pray and hope we all can live and lead like Jesus.  Be encouraged God isn’t done with us and desires us to live in the best design of ourselves.  You are loved!

Who do you admire most and why?

What leaders do you think are worth following?

How do you leverage your influence when you’re not in charge?

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 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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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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A Love That Transcends All Borders

There are some things in this life that are hard to describe unless they are witnessed firsthand.  I have been a nurse for almost 19 years and have witnessed some of life’s most amazing and devastating moments.  I would like to share with you one of those moments today that has been ingrained forever in my heart.  

This particular day, I had already finished a couple of cases in the operating room.  People who know me, know I wear a cross necklace.  As I entered the room of the next patient, he saw the cross I was wearing around my neck.  Before I had the chance to introduce myself, he held out his hands for me to hold.  He took my hands then said, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?”  I said, “Yes.”  It was obvious this patient did not speak much English.  He smiled and said in his broken English, “Then you are my sister.” 

Here was a man (probably of Russian descent) whom I’ve never met before, embracing and proclaiming me to be his sister in Christ before he even knew my name.  

As I was still holding this man’s hand, I responded back to him, “Then you are my brother.”  

What’s so amazing about this moment, it didn’t matter this man could barely speak English. It didn’t matter he didn’t know my name—he didn’t need to.  He only needed to know that I loved and accepted Jesus as my Savior.  We didn’t need to speak the same language to understand God’s love for us.  God’s love is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 NIVClick To Tweet

This man showed me it doesn’t matter if we are Catholic, Greek or Jewish.  When we accept the love of Jesus, we become the same lineage, united by the blood of Christ which makes us brothers and sisters.  In God’s love, there are no orphans left behind.  It doesn’t matter if we came from a broken home, a perfect home or don’t have a home.  The love of Jesus provides a home for everyone– his love is our home.  We are all apart of God’s one big family when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, adopted by the blood of Christ.

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”  Ephesians 1:5 NLT

Once we are adopted into God’s family, we become new citizens not of this world but of heaven.  

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”  Philippians 3:20

God’s love is what transforms our hearts and our lives.  

“who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  Philippians 3:21

My patient recognized I was a part of his family that day because I was wearing my cross.  What if I wasn’t wearing my cross?  How would others recognize we are apart of the same family?

Watching the news, there is so much division and hard to tell who is apart of God’s family because of our differences.  Even in our differences, God’s love is what unites us.  

His grace is what saves us.  When Christ lives in us, his loving kindness overflows from within us, allowing others to see the love of Jesus.  When we give the lovingkindness of God, others will know how much God loves them and in Christ, we are all apart of God’s holy family.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” Phil 4:1

There is no greater love than the love of Jesus.  God could have lived anywhere in the world but he chose to live in our hearts! (author unknown).  You are loved my sister (or brother)!

Are you apart of God’s one big family?

How can we show others we are apart of God’s family?

Nothing unites us and draws us closer to God than when we read scripture together!  It’s not too late!  Join the Bible reading plan. 

Want to tell others how much God loves them? Click Here For Free Valentine Printable Cards with Bible Verses!

 

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Want to know more about being apart of God’s big family?  Are you my brother or sister in Christ?  Please introduce yourself, I would love to hear from you!    Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!


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A Selfless Love

Today we are going to hear a story of great selfless love. Have you ever witnessed an act of selfless love that touched your heart beyond measure?  Last week we talked about how we are all apart of God’s one big family when we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  God’s family started with the greatest selfless love of all— the sacrifice of his one and only son, Jesus.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  Ephesians 2:13

Selfless love all starts with a sacrifice.  It never expects anything in return.  When this type of love is given, a person always receives more than they give.

One of the most selfless acts of love has to be when a mother gives her child up for adoption.  I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to surrender over motherly rights to another mother.  How selfless of a birth mother to put her own child’s needs above her own.  It reminds me of what God does for us everyday.  By giving up her motherly rights she gives another woman a chance to be a mother who may not be able to become a mother on her own.  She gives her child a chance for a better life than she could give herself.

I have worked in the operating room as a nurse anesthetist for over 13 years and in that time, I have witnessed hundreds of babies born.  I will never forget the selfless love of the mother who gave her baby up for adoption.

An Act of Selfless Love
We had gone back to the operating room to prepare for a cesarean section.  Usually the husband or close family members comes back to the operating room to witness the birth of their new born baby.  This time there wasn’t a husband or family member, but the adoptive mother who was present.  When the baby was born, I felt overwhelmed with emotion for both the birth and adoptive mother.  I was in a quandary because the birth mother was my patient whom I was taking care of.  I usually tell the mother congratulations after her baby is born.   This time however, I was trying to console the birth mother who was crying and congratulate the adoptive mother who was rejoicing at the same time.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.”  Matthew 18:5

I was overjoyed for the new adoptive mother but at the same time saddened for the loss the birth mother must have felt.  It makes me wonder if this is how God feels about us?  He loved us so much that He sacrificed his own son for us in order to be apart of His family.  He paid the price for us through the blood of Jesus.  In Christ we are all united by the same spiritual DNA, the blood of Jesus.  There are no orphans in God’s selfless love“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you”  (John 14:18).  

“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”  (Galatians 3:26)

God’s selfless love makes our adoption complete into His big family.  How beautiful it is when you see an adoption story?  One where you know a child is now going to have a life where they are loved by family regardless of them being adopted or not.  We are all God’s children, he loves us all the same whether we are adopted or not. 

“He predestined us[a] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”  (Ephesians 1:5-6)

In God’s family we become new citizens of heaven of God’s household.  In His selfless love we are made complete.  

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19

Have you ever witnessed an act of selfless love that stirred your heart?

How has God’s selfless love impacted your life?

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Nothing is greater or bigger than the love of Jesus. You are loved! 

I would love to hear from you!  Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!


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The Intimacy of Grace

In your own words, what does grace mean to you?

Many of us use the term grace loosely, by putting an introductory word before it, like that’s my saving grace, we sing the song amazing grace, we even say grace around our dinner tables before eating.  Grace is such a beautiful entity by itself and doesn’t really need another presiding word next to it.

What is grace and why do we even need it?

In case you haven’t seen the news lately, our world is a pretty corrupt and evil place.  We need grace like we need oxygen to breathe.

Grace is one of those definitions we can read from a book, but isn’t really understood until we’ve received it.

Grace by definition means the ‘unmerited favor of God towards man.’

Grace is something God freely gives us.  There’s an antinomy of grace which exists where we are all given the free gift of grace, something we could never earn or deserve.  Yet how could we be freely given something without ever earning or deserving it?

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–”  Ephesians 2:8

The answer is simply, because He loves us.  

How many of us have gotten close enough to grace to see what the grace of God really entails? Click To TweetThere are so many pictures of grace in which Jesus shows us He loves us despite our shortcomings, our failures and mistakes.

We see His grace in the story of The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32, when a father takes back his son after he left and spent all of his inheritance.  He celebrates his return with the fattest cow in the herd to show his son how much he missed and loved him.  He didn’t chastise him.  He didn’t give him a lecture, ‘I told you so.’  He embraced him with his undying love sending the message, ‘you are loved and I missed you.’

We see His grace with Peter in John 21:15-25, when Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”  He asks him the same question three times in a row, the same amount of times Peter denied Jesus after he was captured by Roman soldiers.  Asking Peter to profess his love for him the same amount of times Peter denied him, invited him into God’s sanctuary of grace allowing him to receive redemption.

We see His grace with the stoning of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11.  When a woman is brought before Jesus in front of a crowd of people to make judgement upon her for her actions, Jesus responds in a way no one had ever heard or seen before.  Jesus then says to the people, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.”  Then one by one everyone dropped their stones and walked away.  When no one was left except Jesus and the woman, Jesus asked, “Where are your accusers?  Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I.  Go and sin no more.”

These pictures of grace show me, God doesn’t condemn us but loves us despite our wrongdoing.  Grace doesn’t mean he likes our sin or even agrees with it, but means He never turns his back on us or leaves us.

The definition of Intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean something physical.  By definition intimacy means ‘close familiarity or friendship, closeness.’

There is an intimacy or closeness of grace that we would never receive if we weren’t near Him. In each of the above scenarios, each person received God’s grace when they were in His presence.  When God’s love was poured out to them instead of condemnation.

There isn’t a clause that says, grace covers everyone except the evil and wicked, God’s grace is for everyone who willingly accepts it.  God’s grace is one of those things we keep close by but rarely get close to because we’re afraid there’s something required of us.  There must be something God wants from us in order to give this to us.

God wants US.  He wants our HEARTS.  He desires Us.

Imagine if you were the woman whose life was spared from being stoned.  Imagine if you were given that much love and grace, how would you respond?  I think God’s grace was the deal breaker that changed her life to not want to sin anymore.  When God’s grace is staring at us directly in the face, it’s hard to deny the source of where it came from.

We receive the Intimacy of Grace when:

God pours joy into our pain

God’s love chases us down in the most unlikely places

It doesn’t matter how far lost or gone we are, He will find and embrace unconditionally

God covers our shame and there’s no where else to hide except in his light

Even in our poor choices we receive forgiveness and redemption

We receive his eternal gift of salvation

The most intimate, closest moments I’ve had with God were when I’ve been the most broken.  When I’ve been down on my knees before him alone in prayer and he whispers to me, ‘my child I AM here.’

He loves us so much he sent his son to die for us so we could be with Him in heaven.  The same way the cross brought pain to Jesus is the same cross that brings us freedom.  The same grave that brought death to Jesus, is the same grave that brings victory to us.

The closer we get to God’s grace the clearer we see, there’s nothing we could do to make God not love us more or leave us.  The closer we are the clearer we see his undying, unconditional, eternal love desires us more than anything.  Have you received God’s wonderful gift of grace?  You are loved my friend!

How close have you been to God’s grace?

Do you believe God’s grace is for you?

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 FREE E-book “The Jericho Prayer” and a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook pageto catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

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#ShareFourSomethings

Loved- God’s Grace Said-Song by Elevation “Come to the Altar” Learned- You don’t have to be good to be perfect Read- Everybody Always by Bob Goff


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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?

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 FREE E-book “The Jericho Prayer” and a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

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