Where Are You Putting Your Faith?

Last Sunday my Pastor spoke on faith and how your environment and who is in it can impact your faith. What resonated with me the most is when he said that we put faith in our prayers, but we fail to put faith in Jesus to perform a miracle. That was such a revelation to me. It made me think of various situations in my life and how I had been guilty of that. I would pray these elaborate prayers, pray in the Spirit, and then as soon as my prayer wasn’t answered when I thought it should or if something happened that seemed to be blocking my prayer, I would be shook. I would cry, I would get mad, I would feel defeated.

For the past 6 months, my husband and I have been trying to conceive. Each month I would pray those gut wrenching prayers, those prayers that take everything out of you. And with each passing month, I would be faced with a negative pregnancy test, heartache, and tears streaking down my face. With each month, I would try to figure out ways to “help” God answer my prayer. I would change my eating habits, take a gazzillion vitamins, track my cycle, take my basal body temperature every morning, and pretty much drive myself insane. All of these actions weren’t putting my faith in God. No matter how hard I prayed, I wasn’t truly putting my faith in God. I was putting more faith in my prayers and in what I could control or change.

Hearing my Pastor say that we put our faith in prayer instead of putting our faith in God, made everything click. It’s not about me or what I want or when I want something done. It is about putting my faith in God. It’s about resting in God even when it looks like my situation won’t change. It’s about not being moved by every bump or the turbulence that comes when you’re trusting God. Once I finally understood that, I had such incredible peace over this situation in my life. God reassured me that He will bless me and my husband with children some day, but right now is not that time because He has other plans for us. You see, when you put more faith in your prayers than in God, you are so distracted that you can’t even hear when God is trying to minister to you. Rest in God. Put your faith in Him, not your prayers.

Obedience and Suffering

Hebrews 5:8 (NKJV)

“though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

I don’t know about you, but lately life has been nothing more than a combination of a Debbie Downers and a Negative Nancys. It hasn’t been your typical “life happens” moments, but off the wall, crazy experiences that suck the life and energy out of you. Before you can recover from one hardship, there’s another one waiting for you around the corner. I often find myself wondering, “When does it end, when do I get a break?”

Just like our lives are a challenge, when Jesus walked this earth He suffered greatly and experienced countless hardships. Throughout His ministry He was ridiculed and mocked. The Pharisees made it their sole purpose to find fault with Him and plot ways to kill Him. One of His closest friends betrayed Him for some money. He even suffered a gruesome, painful death even though He was innocent. And we complain about how difficult our lives are!?!? Yet despite all of the suffering, all of the disappointments, all of the hurt and pain, not once did Jesus get caught up in the flesh. Not once did He react to the injustices committed against Him. Not once did He throw a pity party.

How is that so? How was Jesus able to stay true to His nature despite all of the pain He experienced? Hebrews 5:8 tells us that through Jesus’ suffering He learned obedience. It was through the pain, the heartache, the sadness that Jesus learned how to stay committed to God. He did not allow the tough times to cause Him to become bitter and resentful. He did not allow criticisms, mocking, betrayal, and physical pain to cause Him to turn His back on God and step out of God’s will for His life. Instead, He remained faithful to God and walked in obedience even to the point of death. He allowed His suffering to teach Him obedience.

That is what God wants us to develop in our suffering: a willingness to walk in complete obedience to Him. James 1:2 tells us to count it all when we fall into various trials. The reason why we can find joy in our pain and suffering is because our suffering pushes us closer to God and helps us to learn how to follow His will for our lives. So instead of letting challenges and pain cause us to get caught up in the flesh, we need to draw closer to God and allow Him to use our suffering to mold us for His purposes.

Mission Trip to Belize Part 1: Preparation

Last Saturday I returned from my very first mission trip. To say that this trip was a life changing experience would be an understatement. From everything that happened in my life leading up to this trip to the trip itself as well as after returning from the trip, it has all left me so in awe of my Abba Father.

For the longest God has pressed upon me to go on a mission trip. Every year I would sign up to attend an information session for the mission trips and even once I paid my registration fee, but I never fully committed. Last year I decided to truly commit. I knew that I had to go on a mission trip. I was honestly not up for discussion. I prayed about which trip I should go on and the Lord led me to go on the Belize mission trip. I paid my registration fee and attended the first meeting. I was so hyped after the first meeting. I made a godly connection with someone who is know one of my close friends. I was so excited for this mission trip. During the first meeting, they told us that we would be attacked by the enemy like crazy. I expected it, but I think deep down I didn’t take it seriously…

After that first meeting, the enemy began to attack me like crazy. Many of my friendships and family relationships began to fall apart. I mean people were doing a complete 360 on me out of nowhere. My finances and my health were being attacked. I was struggling to raise the money for my trip. My mind was being attacked. I was under so much stress because I was commuting to a job that was over an hour from my home without traffic, but with traffic it would take me anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours to get to and from work. On top of that, some of my co-workers were giving me a hard time at work, attacking me for no reason. Everything around me was literally falling apart. I seriously was in a Job season. There were so many times I thought about pulling out of this mission trip, but I didn’t. I knew that was what the enemy wanted me to do.

In the beginning, I was mad at God. I told Him, “Why are you letting the enemy attack me like this when I’m preparing to do something for You? I’m going out into the mission field to share the Gospel and to bring You glory, but You don’t even have my back!”
Yes, I have my moments when I get real with my Abba Father and tell Him exactly what’s on my heart. During this time He began to show me that He was using these trials to prepare me for my mission trip and for my future. Once I understood what God was doing, I embraced the trials. I made it my goal to not let these challenging situations steal my joy and peace or cause me to react. I learned to rest in God and trust Him to work things out.

It wasn’t until a month before my mission trip that God began to turn my situation around. Little by little people began to donate. I had a few unexpected donor’s who paid not only for the remainder of my mission trip, but also gave me money to buy what I needed for my trip and spending money. However, right after that victory, the enemy attacked me physically. I ended up missing about two weeks of work due to having a fever of 100.4 that spiked to 105 and a stiff neck. I went to Urgent Care, ER, and my doctor and none of them could tell me what was wrong with me or what was causing the fever and the pain. I prayed and asked God to keep me despite all that was happening and to show me what to do. I sang worship songs and prayed like crazy during this time. He showed me what to do and healed me. During this time off, He led me to apply for a preschool director position. I honestly didn’t think I would get an interview, but I went for it anyway. The next day I got a call for an interview. I was so scared and nervous because I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I also was concerned that if I miraculously got the job, would they be willing to give me the time off for my mission trip. I prayed and told my Abba that if this was the job that He had for me, He would work it all out. I went on the interview and it was the most laid back interview. I mean it was like I was just talking to one of my peers about child development. On top of that, the woman who interviewed me had researched me and she knew all about my mission trip and she saw my YouTube videos. She really liked me, but had more interviews to conduct. Well two days later she called me and offered me the position and was willing to allow me to start after I returned from my mission trip! You know that was God!

Not only did God bless me with a job that is 15 minutes from my house, He gave me my dream job where I will be able to do some incredible things for His glory. I’m still in awe of what He did. He truly came through for me. After all the stressing and crying because of the long commute I was making, He turned my situation around instantly!

To read about all that God did during my mission trip to Belize, go to Part 2 of Mission Trip to Belize.

Mission Trip to Belize Part 2: There’s No Turning Back

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This trip seriously snuck up on me. I felt so unprepared. I started packing my bag a week before we were to leave for the trip and ended up not completely packing until the night before we left. When the day finally arrived for us to leave for Belize, I was a mixture of emotions. I went from excitement to fear to curiosity to anxiety. During the drive to the airport, I started wondering if I was even supposed to be on that trip…wondering if I had made a mistake. But it was too late to change my mind lol.

When we touched down in Belize, we immediately got to work. Our first project was to a couple of bathrooms and a patio area at a school. We also had the opportunity to play with some of the kids that went to the school and pass out supplies. Some of the other projects we completed were building a fence around a school and a playground to make it secure for the children, painted a church both inside and out, went out into the community to pray with people and invite them to an outreach we had in order to share the Gospel and pass out more supplies.

Although we were able to be a blessing to the people of Belize, they were even a greater blessing to us. They showered us with so much love and welcomed us with open arms. They taught us how to be content and joyful with what we have. They taught us how to appreciate each moment in life. While we were at one of the schools putting up a fence, I helped pass out candy to the children. We gave each child one starburst. What got me was how each child was so grateful for that starburst. They didn’t complain. They were truly thankful for that. Honestly, that convicted. How dare I ever complain about anything? How dare I ever be ungrateful? It really made me start thinking before I twisted up my lips to complain about anything.

Of course the enemy attacked us while on this trip, but God intervened. Our first night there, one of my roommates found a scorpion on her bed. Thank God she saw it before she went to bed and we were able to get it out of the room. A couple of days later we went back to where we built a fence around a playground in order to take a group picture in front of the completed project. While we were there, one of the local kids had a metal goal post fell on his head causing a deep gash. Thank God we were there and we had a few people on our trip who work in the medical field. That same night when we got back to our dorm, there was a fire literally a few feet from the room I was in. Unlike in the US where we’re able to call 911 in order to have firefighters deal with a fire, we had to handle it ourselves. We as a group along with those who were hosting us worked together to put the fire out. We had people praying and singing worship songs, we had people going and getting everything from buckets to trashcans to fill with water to dump on the fire. On top of that, the water pressure was very low so it took time to fill up each bucket, but God. God allowed us to be able to put that fire out and He kept us safe while doing it.

This trip also pushed me outside my comfort zone. When most people first meet me, they think I’m quiet and for the most part I am. Well by day three of the trip, I was my regular self. I was joking around and laughing and letting my personality shine through. I also started building some strong bonds with the people on my trip. They have honestly become my extended family. I was also asked to lead the morning devotional with 3 other women. Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous. God led me to speak on being pushed outside our comfort zones because that was what He was doing in me during this trip. I mean this trip seriously put me in situations that I would have never imagined I would be in. From taking a cold shower just about every night to doing manual labor to not knowing if I was going to wake up with a tarantula or a scorpion in my bed, this trip stretched me.

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Everything I experienced on this trip has prepared me for my new job. Going to Belize has taught me to be assertive, how to lead, how to take the lead when I see a need, how to be patient with others, how to make the best of each moment and situation, and how to embrace and love who God created me to be. Honestly, if you have never been on a mission trip, go. Now. No, seriously, go on a mission trip. That trip will change you forever. You are separated from all of the distractions. You are forced out of your comfort zone, but most importantly You will hear God speaking to you loud and clear, and you will learn how to trust Him like never before.

 

Koinonia

Slide-Connected

Definition of Koinonia

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary: (a) Communion, fellowship, sharing in common. (b) That which is the outcome of fellowship, a contribution

Strong’s Concordance: (a) contributory help, participation, (b) sharing in, communion, (c) spiritual fellowship, a fellowship in the spirit

New American Standard New Testament Greek Lexicon: fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse

To say that building relationships with other Christians is important is an understatement. Fellowshipping with other Christians is critical to the Christian walk. We will not survive living in this world and the many attacks of the enemy if we don’t have close, intimate relationships with other Christians.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

The reason why we need other Christians in our lives is so that they can help us in our time of need and we can do the same for them. There are going to be times when the enemy comes hard against us. We will be bombarded with distractions, unfortunate circumstances will occur in our lives, the enemy will attack our minds with thoughts that are contrary to God’s Word, and we will have moments when we feel weak and feel like giving up. This is why we need to fellowship with other Christians, this is why Koinonia is so crucial.

I don’t know about you, but I have tried to live this Christian life on my own and I was so miserable. I had no one to encourage me in the Lord when I was in the midst of a storm. I had no one to pray with me when I was facing a serious challenge. I had no one to stand in agreement with me for the breakthrough I was trusting God for. I felt isolated and alone. This made me an easy target for the enemy. He began to attack my mind, planting all kinds of negative thoughts. All of that changed when I began to fellowship with other believers.

When I refer to fellowship or koinonia, I am not talking about surface level relationships where you keep people at a certain distance and only let them know so much about you. Being closed off or only sharing the good and not the ugly with your brothers and sisters in Christ will still have you feeling isolated. Now I’m not saying tell any and every person who claims to be a Christian what is going on in your life because that wouldn’t be wise. What I am saying is that you should seek God and ask Him to bring you some close, godly friends that you can build an intimate relationship with like David and Jonathan had (1 Samuel 18-20). This type of friendship is selfless and loving. Jonathan encouraged David, reminded David of the promise God had made to him, protected David, and was heartbroken when David was being chased by Saul.

We need to fellowship with believers who will pour into us when we’re feeling low, who we can feel safe confiding in knowing that they will pray for and with us, who will lovingly correct us when we’re wrong, and who will hurt when we hurt and will rejoice when we rejoice (Romans 12:15). We need those individuals who are constantly pushing us closer to Jesus.

So if you’re someone who is trying to live this life for Jesus on your own, stop it right now. You need to fellowship with other believers. Get involved in one of the ministries at your church, find a small group to join or start one of your own, find a Bible study you can go to weekly. But most importantly, pray and ask God to send the right people into your life.

Stuck

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Have you ever reached a point in your life where you felt stuck? It seemed like no matter what you did, you couldn’t move forward. You tried to go left, right, forwards, backwards, up, down, and around, and no matter what direction you went in, you ran smack dab into a wall.

What do we do when we feel stuck? How do respond? Is it something that we are doing to prevent God from moving us forward in our lives?

This has literally been the story of my life for the past few months. I have felt stuck. Any move I would make, any plan I would make…literally anything I would do would not succeed. This included trying to find a better job as well as maintain various friendships. I felt like everything around me was falling apart and no matter what I would do to try and fix it, I would fail. On top of that, I began to doubt myself. I started to question if I was in God’s will for my life. I started to be so hard on myself because I felt like such a failure since I wasn’t at a certain point in my life. I wanted so much more out of life, but I felt as if no matter what I would do to try to move me forward, I couldn’t move forward. I felt like every door I would try to go through would be slammed shut in my face.

Here was my issue: I kept trying to make my plans God’s plans. I kept trying to push my agenda on God. Although I never mentally or verbally confessed this, in my heart I believed that I knew what was best for me and that I could come up with a better plan for my life, and so I tried to pursue my plans. 

Isaiah 55:8-9 9 (MSG), I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.’ God’s decree. ‘For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.’

We can come up with these plans that we think are full proof and will take us to the next level, but God can even top that. We don’t know more than God. We can’t see the whole picture like He can. This is why we need to live out Provers 3:5-6, which says,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

God knows what is best for us. No matter how many times we try to convince ourselves otherwise, in the end God knows what’s best and we have to trust Him. Trusting Him is so hard, especially when it looks like our situation isn’t changing in the natural. But despite what we see in the natural, we have to believe that He is working on our behalf.

When I finally realized that I was trying to control my destiny instead of relinquishing all control to God, He began to minister something powerful to me. He showed me that no matter what door I would try to go through, what plan I would try to put into action, He would not let it succeed. You see, anything we try to do apart from God or try to do in our own ability, God will not let us succeed in it because it does not give Him the glory. He told me that no matter what plan I came up with or what I tried to do on my own, I would continue to run into a wall. God even gave me a vision. He allowed me to see myself standing in the middle of a room and no matter what direction I went in, I would run into a wall. No matter how hard I tried to escape the room or what plan I tried to come up with to get out of the room, I would hit a wall.

Once God showed me that, I asked Him, ” What do you want me to do then?”. He told me He wanted me to be still and do nothing but trust Him and walk in obedience. Of course that’s not what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear. There was something that God had put on my heart to do a couple of years ago, but I didn’t complete it when He told me to. He wanted me to write a book. I started the book and made it through the majority of it, but I didn’t finish it. I got so distracted and caught up in other things that I failed to make time for it. I did what I wanted to do instead of doing what God wanted me to do.

God already has my life mapped out with incredible plans for me. Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV) tells us Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” I love the Message version of this verse, which says Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you.” Jeremiah 1:5 is telling us that even before we were conceived, God knew His plans for our lives. He knew what He called us to do. He knew how each and every day of our lives would turn out. He knew everything about us before we were even thought of by our parents. Let that sink in! So if someone as mighty and powerful as our God, who has had our entire lives planned out even way before we were born, is asking us to trust Him and follow His will for our lives, what do we have to lose? 

I want to leave you with this: If you are feeling stuck or if you are simply miserable with where you are at in life right now, do not be discouraged. God has great plans for you and He will fulfill those plans and purposes He has for you. Your main responsibility is to continue to pursue God with everything in you, walk in obedience to Him even if He is asking you to step outside your comfort zone, trust His timing, and wait on Him with an abundance of patience and joy. If you do that, the valley season you are in will fly by so smoothly. Stop worrying and fretting, and simply trust in God. And last but not least endure to the end during challenging seasons.

I’m praying for you friends! If you have any prayer requests please feel free to email me at andriarene01@gmail.com

Love you all!

 

 

A Lesson in Faith and Obedience

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Have you ever been to The Cheesecake Factory and faced the tough decision of which cheesecake to select for dessert? I mean there’s about a million selections of cheesecakes from Oreo cheesecake to carrot cake cheesecake so how am I supposed to choose just one cheesecake? Maybe you just go with your favorite like I do or maybe you contemplate trying something new. Deciding on trying a new cheesecake can cause much anxiety. You’re sitting there thinking well if I choose this cheesecake I’ve never had before, I will either love it or absolutely hate it. It sounds good on the menu, but how it sounds on paper and how it actually tastes are two completely different things. So what do you do? Do you just go with old faithful or do you step out on faith and try something new?

Sometimes following God’s will for our lives can be a lot like choosing a slice a cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. We’re often faced with life altering decisions, but how do we know which choice is the best, which choice will keep us in God’s will for our lives?

This is something I’ve been facing lately. In April, I began working as an assistant director at a preschool. In the beginning, I was so excited. Everyday I went to work with joy in my heart and a smile on my face looking forward to the workday. But as time passed and I began to see things I didn’t like, things I didn’t agree with, to hear constant complaining, gossip and negativity, I started to question whether or not I was still in God’s will for my life, whether or not I had made the right decision. There were days when I would go home crying because of the stress of everything. I would cry out to God more and more, but I couldn’t hear His voice. I just didn’t know what to do anymore, but I continued to seek Him. I began to seek Him even more. Talking to Him continuously about everything, seeking Him in His word.

As time went on, I began to pray about relocating to LA because I desired to be closer to my boyfriend and my close friends, plus I was ready for a fresh start. I even started applying for jobs out there. I ended up getting an interview for a position I really wanted. This position would prepare me for the career I was working towards, the pay is much more than what I’m making now, the benefits are great, there are constant opportunities for advancement, and it would allow me to live in LA. I went for the interview early one morning and then went to work after the interview. I promise you, a few hours after interviewing, I got a call from the director who interviewed me offering me the position. To say I was happy would be an understatement. I was like a kid in a candy store. I was thinking, “Yes! I knew God didn’t forget about me.”

The only thing left to do was turn in my letter of resignation on my current job, but I didn’t want to do that until I received my letter of employment from the new job. The director said that they would have the letter of employment for me by the end of the week. So I went ahead and wrote my letter of resignation, and waited to turn it in until I received my letter of employment. Well, the end of the week came and I hadn’t received my letter of employment. I started getting anxious and began to worry. I contacted the director to follow up on the letter of employment, but she never replied. Then, to add to the confusion, my friend contacted me about a part-time teaching position at one of the local community colleges. I had asked her a while ago if there were any openings and she had told me that they had filled all of the positions for the next school year. But then, when I was already confused and it was utter chaos, she texts me to say they have an unexpected opening. I honestly didn’t know what to do, but I went ahead and applied for the teaching position even though it didn’t make sense to me since I was still hoping for things to work out with the position in LA. I started to get so frustrated because I didn’t understand what God was doing, and I had no idea what to do. I didn’t want to make the wrong decision, but at the time I didn’t know what was right. I only knew what I wanted. I told God, “I thought this [the position in LA] was what you had for me! I prayed that you wouldn’t allow me to get it unless it was what you had for me. So why did you allow me to get this position if it wasn’t what you had for me?”. I battled with these thoughts the entire weekend. I had no peace, my joy was pretty much nonexistent. I felt so down and discouraged. I started questioning what I was doing with my life and I honestly felt like a failure. Now that I look back on this, I know I was overreacting, I was letting my emotions rule me, which was not wise.

At the start of the following week, I prayed like I’ve never prayed before. I poured my whole heart out to God and decided to be still. He began to minister to me. He showed me what He wanted me to do. He told me to stay put on my current job because my assignment there was not complete. He began to show me all the changes He wanted me to implement and gave me so many ideas. The next step was to present these ideas to my current director. I honestly didn’t know how she would respond, but I prayed for God to soften her heart and that He would allow her to like my ideas and be willing to implement them.

That week God began to do some amazing things. He allowed me to get an interview for the teaching position, which I was so nervous about because I had to do a brief presentation on my favorite theory of development. Well, I had my interview and let me tell you, the Holy Spirit worked through me and allowed me to do an amazing presentation. I mean the interview panel was even impressed with how I explained certain concepts in a way they had never heard before, but made so much more sense. You know it’s something when you stump someone who has been teaching college courses for years and has their doctorate, but that’s how God works! I left that interview feeling so amazing, but most importantly I had peace. I didn’t feel anxious and I didn’t worry. I rested in God knowing that His will was best and that’s what would be done. When I get to work after my interview that day, I decided to meet with my director. I told her about my ideas as well as the possibility of me teaching at the community college part time. She completely supported me working part-time as an instructor, and she absolutely loved my ideas and decided to start implementing them immediately. One of my suggestions was holding a staff development because there’s so much that needs to be discussed and brought to light in order to improve the school. That same day she created a flyer informing the staff that we would be having a staff development in a couple of weeks. Also, she wanted me to be responsible for some aspects of the meeting. I honestly was not expecting that, but I’m excited because this will allow me to further develop my leadership skills.

So things really began to turn around. I was being presented with some incredible opportunities and I was walking in obedience to God. I was also stepping out on faith and trusting God to work things out according to His perfect will. At that point, I had forgotten all about the job in LA; however, the director at that site hadn’t forgotten about me. She emailed me out the blue asking me if I received my letter of employment. I simply replied that I hadn’t received it. Once again, I didn’t know what to do. All this time I had assumed that she decided to go with someone else so I figured the job wasn’t mine. Part of me wanted to renege on what I told God and my director what I was going to do, and take the job in LA because that’s what I wanted and thought I needed. But the thought of doing that did not bring me peace. Then I started talking to God and told Him, “Lord, if you allow me to get this part-time teaching position, then I will email the director of the job in LA telling her that I will not be accepting the job offer.” Side note: Isn’t it funny how we try to negotiate with God instead of just doing what He told us to do with no questions asked?

I went ahead and decided to go with my plan that I presented to God, but once again I didn’t have peace. I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart and showing me that I wasn’t walking in complete obedience to God. I tried to ignore it, but I couldn’t. Finally, I sent an email to the director over the job in LA informing her that I will not be able to accept the position. The day after I sent that email, I received an email about the teaching position at the local community college offering me the job! I mean all I had to do was walk in obedience and trust God, and He worked everything out. In addition to that, my current director is all on board for me teaching at the community college. Everyday leading up to this offer, she would tell me that she knew I was going to get the teaching position. She is so supportive and encourages me constantly and knows that I’m destined for greater things. She’s truly a blessing. And did I mention that she is also a Christian?

It’s so amazing how when we surrender to God, walk in obedience, and trust Him, He literally allows all things to fall in place. I am so amazed by what God has done in the span of two weeks. I mean He has moved so greatly in my life, but He has also helped me to see things in a whole new light. I no longer dread going to work. Now I’m excited and I look for ways that I can help this school grow. I’m so excited for this new journey in my life and I can’t wait to see how God is going to turn this school around as well as use me as an instructor at the community college.

With that said, when God is showing you to do something, just do it. No questions asked. No trying to think of a better way that will work for you or will be more comfortable to you. Simply trust God, and do what He is showing you to do even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable. Remember “Obedience is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Stay Woke

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“…So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” -2 Peter 3:17b-18

This morning during my quiet time with God, these verses stood out to me. Everyday this world seems to get worse and worse. Yesterday, my city, San Bernardino, CA, experienced what appears to be a terrorist attack. It seems like everyday there’s some kind of mass shooting or bombing or some other horrific tragedy. When these tragedies occur, we often hear people say, “Where was God in all of this or why did God allow this to happen?” The thing is that God is there with us in the midst of all of this; however, we live in a fallen world. We live in a world that is ruled by wickedness and evil. I believe that is why we are told to “be on guard”. It’s discouraging and heartbreaking to see or hear about another mass shooting, and, if we’re not careful, we can allow what we see to shake our faith to the core and cause us to doubt God or question whether He truly cares about us.

Since we are living in the last days, we are going to see more and more tragedies because the enemy knows his time is almost up. This is why we as Christians have to be alert and stay woke. We can’t afford to be lackadaisical in our relationship with God. We need to pray and intercede for this world more, we need to share the Gospel more, we need to show this world Christ and truly be the light and salt of the earth. The enemy is counting on us getting tired and growing weary, but we can’t give him that satisfaction. We also need to ask God to give us a strong spirit of discernment and wisdom. The enemy is looking for any opportunity to take out as many Christians as he can because he doesn’t want us to reach the lost. We’re a threat to him. We must be alert 24/7. If we’re off our “spiritual game”, then the enemy will have a field day causing much chaos, confusion, and devastation. When we feel an uneasiness in our spirit, we can’t afford to ignore the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying to live in fear, but I am saying to use wisdom and if something doesn’t seem right, speak up and say something. A friend of mine made an excellent point about Christians using their discernment. He brought up how the neighbors of the suspects involved in yesterday’s tragedy thought something wasn’t right and had suspicions, but they didn’t say anything. As Christians, if the Holy Spirit is revealing something to us, we need to say something because God may use us to prevent certain things from happening. However, if we’re not in tune with God like we need to be, we will not have a strong spirit of discernment and God won’t be able to use us.

I know living in these last days is not easy. I know seeing tragedy after tragedy is discouraging. I know you’re tired. I know you’re ready for Christ to return. We must continue to press forward and keep with the mission that Christ gave us. We are His ambassadors on this earth (2 Corinthians 5:20). We have work to do. One day we will get to spend eternity with Him with no worries, no pain, no cares, no tragedies, but that day has not come yet. So until then we must do our part. We can’t become spiritually lazy. We need to seek God more, pray more, spend time with Him in His word more, and witness more.

I love you all and am praying for you all. If you have any prayer requests or questions, please contact me at sweeetlybroken25@gmail.com

Your Thoughts Towards Others

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Have you ever noticed that when someone close to you has hurt you and you think about what they said or did, you become even more angry? It’s like you’re reliving in your mind what they said or did and you feel the pain all over again…

I was reading my devotional, Jesus Lives by Sarah Young, this morning and it discussed living at peace with everyone. There was one thing Sarah Young said in this morning’s devotional that really ministered to me.

“To live at peace with everyone, you need to control not only what you say and do but also what you think…When you indulge in negative thinking about someone, your relationship with that person is damaged.”

I have always known that our thoughts influence us and various aspects of our lives tremendously, but I have never thought about it in terms of how it impacts our relationships. Philippians 4:8 tells us “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Whenever I have applied this verse to my life, I have always thought of it when it comes to things such as, not thinking lustful thoughts or not doubting God when trusting Him for something. I have never thought about thinking “lovely” thoughts towards someone who made me mad. Of course I knew that I had to eventually forgive that person and move forward from that situation, but to think good thoughts towards that person after they hurt or offended me…that never crossed my mind. It never occurred to me that the more I thought about how I was wronged by that person, the more angry I became with them and the more that hurt grew in my heart.

2 Corinthians 10:5, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”

This scripture is telling us to throw away and get rid of any and everything that contradicts God and to take hold of each and every thought and align those thoughts with God’s living Word, who is Christ. In Mark 12:31 Jesus gave us a new commandment, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves. In a sense, one aspect of loving others is thinking good thoughts towards them…even those who have hurt us. Even deeper than that is the fact that if we are truly going to align our thoughts with God’s Word, we have to think loving and kind thoughts towards everyone, especially those who are not so lovable because they have hurt us.

Thinking positive and kind thoughts towards those that have mistreated us is not just for the other person, but it’s for us too. Our thoughts can influence our emotions and attitude for better or worse. Proverbs 15:13 says that A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.” What we think influences our mood. So if we are thinking negatively about someone and what they did to us, we are not likely to be kind towards them. More than that, our attitude will suck all together, can cause division in other relationships, and cause us to not be so pleasant when interacting with others in general. We will have a stank attitude and act ugly towards everyone we encounter just because of some negative thoughts about one person. I can say that I have truly experienced this myself. Because I focused on how the person wronged me, I was very short with them, I was not in a good mood whenever I had to talk to them, and I felt so much anger towards them. That anger continued to grow the more I thought about the pain they caused me. This anger then seeped into my other relationships, stole my joy and peace, and made me a miserable person to be around. 

Instead of letting those negative thoughts towards someone continue, you should bring the situation before God. One of the most amazing things about God is that you can pour Your heart out to Him and He will not think differently of you afterwards. I mean you can be brutally honest with God about how you feel about that person who hurt you and He will love you just the same afterwards. In Psalms, David provides many examples of this. He poured out his heart to God. He told God how various people hurt him, how much anger he had towards them, and at times he asked God to strike them down. Despite all this, God called David a man after His own heart. When we pour out our hearts to God, He hears our cries and He alone turns the situation around. God is the only one that can show the person who hurt you what they did wrong and can soften their hearts towards you. Also, you can always confront the person who wronged you. A lot of times people don’t even realize that they have offended you, but if you bring it to their attention, you can make amends. Matthew 18:15, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” Don’t be afraid to go to that person and tell them how what they did hurt you, but make sure you pray about what to say and say it in a loving way. So instead of waiting for the person who hurt you to come to you to make things right, be the bigger person and go to them. But make sure that you aren’t thinking negatively about them because that will influence how you interact with the person.

If you have any prayer requests, you can email sweeetlybroken25@gmail.com

God bless!

Forgiveness. Is it Necessary

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Forgiveness. A simple word, yet such a challenge for most of us to live out. When someone hurts us, the furthest thing from our mind in that moment is forgiving them. We’re focused on the fact that someone wronged us, focused on how horrible we feel right then. But once those emotions subside, what is our next move? Do we forgive or hold a grudge?

You see, I have much experience with learning to forgive. From having a man hurt me in one of the worst ways possible to being rejected and mistreated by those I loved most, I have had to learn to forgive over the years. In the beginning, I opted not to forgive. I would try to rationalize with God saying things like, “But Lord, he hurt me in the worst possible way. I can’t forgive him for that. He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness!”. Every time I spoke those words, God would respond, “But beloved, I have forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) tells us “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” God’s reason for responding that He has forgiven me was so that I could be like Him. As Christians, we are called to be like our Father in Heaven. Although God was reminding me to be like Him and forgive those who hurt me, I refused to listen in the beginning.

By holding onto the hurts of my past instead of walking in forgiveness, I became bitter and my heart started to harden. I had a nasty attitude, I didn’t show mercy to anyone, I tried to keep to myself as much as possible, and I kept a wall up around me and my heart. Not only did this make it hard for me to connect with others, it also made it hard for me to connect with God. I let the hurt and unforgiveness consume my heart to the point that all I could see were my past hurts. I would expect people to hurt me so my goal was to keep them at a distance so I wouldn’t get hurt. The worst part was that I was completely unaware of how the unforgiveness in my heart was affecting me. I didn’t see myself as bitter, I saw myself as wise since I was preventing others from hurting me. Although God told me I needed to forgive just like He continuously forgives me, I felt that I had the right to not forgive those who wronged me.

I didn’t realize that something was wrong until I noticed that I no longer had any friends. I was literally by myself. I said to God, “Lord, why haven’t you brought me any godly friends? Why am I so alone?” God responded, “I did bring you godly friends, but because you could not forgive so that I could begin healing you of your past hurts, you shut them out. You didn’t give them a chance to get to know the real you. You held them at a distance, which kept those friendships from developing.” I was so heartbroken when He told me that. It was truly an eye opener.

When we refuse to forgive others for hurting us, we open up a door for the enemy to come into our lives. He will take that unforgiveness in our hearts and will have a field day with it. What’s even worse is that he will make us blind to the consequences of our decision to hold onto unforgiveness. This is why God tells us to forgive. Forgiveness isn’t just for the person that hurt you. It’s mostly for you in that it’s the first step in setting you free from your past hurts. God can’t begin to heal you of what that person has done to you until you take the first step by forgiving them. Also, when we don’t forgive, God can’t forgive us. Matthew 6:15 (ESV) “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” If we aren’t willing to extend forgiveness, how can we expect to receive forgiveness? We need God’s forgiveness more than anything. Romans 6:23 (ESV) tells us that “the wages of sin is death…” and Isaiah 59:2 (ESV) tells us “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” When we sin, we are separated from God and in order to be made right with God again, we have to repent and be forgiven by God. If we are unwilling to forgive others, God is not going to extend us forgiveness, which we so desperately need.

After God gave me that revelation, I told Him that I was ready to forgive so that He can heal me. He led me to go to a few of the people that hurt me and let them know that I had forgiven them as well as ask them to forgive me for harboring so much anger in my heart towards them. A few of them were truly blessed by this because they felt horrible about the mistakes they made. It was a blessing because we were able to receive closure over the situation. This will not always be the case. There will be times when there is no reconciliation. There will be times when people will stand their ground in saying they did not do anything wrong and that you should have nothing to be upset with them about. Despite all of that, you must do your part and God will honor that.

Although I had gone to those individuals and told them I forgave them, I did not immediately feel better. It has taken time for God to heal me of all my past hurts. In the beginning when I thought of those who hurt me, I would feel some kind of way. But as I continued to confess that I had forgiven those individuals who hurt me and trust God to heal my heart, little by little I wouldn’t feel angry when I thought of them or heard their name. Little by little I was even able to pray for them. And finally, I got to the point where I was able to see those individuals through God’s eyes. My heart even broke for them because I knew that someone had to hurt them badly in order for them to hurt me in such a way. If I had listened in the beginning and started walking in forgiveness, it may have not taken as long as it did for God to heal my heart.

After living a life of withholding forgiveness, I truly believe forgiveness is necessary for each and everyone of us. I don’t ever want to go back to being that bitter, miserable person I once was. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t have joy or peace. I was lonely. Most importantly, I couldn’t grow into the woman God had called me to be. I couldn’t even begin to go further in my relationship with Him. When it comes to forgiving others, we have to remember that not one of us is perfect. Just like it says in Romans 3:23 (ESV), “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”. We all mess up on a daily basis and we want God to forgive us and show us mercy, so we need to do the same. Yes, some hurts are worse than others; however, we still need to forgive.

Just a couple of days ago, the Lord ministered something powerful to me about the beauty of forgiveness. I had asked someone to do a favor for me and they had agreed to do it. It was very important because it was related to an assignment for one of my classes. I was truly counting on this person and all of sudden they started ignoring me without giving me an explanation. I contacted them and got no response. I didn’t get angry nor did I feel any malice towards them. I instantly forgave them in my heart. Now if that had been the old me, I would’ve been angry, wouldn’t have even considered forgiving the person, and made the situation worse than what it actually was. I didn’t respond that way. God ministered to me that,

“As you forgive more and more, walking in forgiveness becomes easier. It will eventually get to the point that forgiveness is an automatic response.” 

Now that I think about how far God has brought me, I can honestly say that it is truly easy for me to forgive. When someone wrongs me, I’m not quick to get angry or hold a grudge. I forgive the person, pray about it, and ask God for guidance on how He wants me to handle it. Sometimes He has me go to that person to bring it to their attention because they were not aware of how their words or actions hurt me. Other times He will convict that person and they will come to me and apologize. Sometimes there is no resolution, but God guards my heart from bitterness and helps me to let it go instead of holding a grudge. That’s the beauty of having such a close relationship with God. He knows the details of everything, He’s able to see the overall picture, and He will work things out for you if you go to Him and trust Him to do so.

I want to leave you with this, if there is someone that you have yet to forgive, forgive them and ask God to heal your heart of the pain that person inflicted. You will feel so much better. Your demeanor will change, your relationship with God will change, a weight will be lifted off of your shoulders, and God will be able to start doing some great things in your life. So unlock that cage you have placed every person that has hurt you in and set them free. Praying for you all. Be blessed!