7 More Days!!!!

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Tea for Two: A 30 Day Devotional

Have you pre-ordered your copy of Tea for Two? You do not want to miss out on this 30 Day devotional filled with encouraging words and various teas that can be used as natural remedies to everyday health issues.

Pre-order your copy now at Smith Publishing and Amazon!!!

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!

Feature Friday

Hey everyone I had the honor of being featured on the site MySpiritChecker.com! God led the owner of the site to have me write a blog on the power of forgiveness and the consequences of unforgiveness. I prayed over it and God gave me an amazing word to share with you all. Go check it out and be sure to subscribe to MySpiritChecker.com so that you can get his newest blogs sent directly to your email.

A Life Changing Experience

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This year I had the privilege of attending the 2014 Pinky Promise Conference, which was beyond incredible. For those of you who do not know what Pinky Promise is, it is an organization created by Heather Lindsey in which she encourages women to pursue Jesus and lead a holy, pure life (i.e., save yourself for marriage). It’s also a sisterhood for women to uplift and encourage one another in their Christian walk. It’s a remarkable organization with an anointed leader. If you haven’t already, check out the website www.pinkypromisemovement.com

The Lord put it on my heart to share with you all my experience at the conference and all that He ministered to me. Let me just say that every single woman that attended that conference left a changed woman. I mean the way that God showed up…the way that His Presence fell on that place…we could not help but leave there changed! All of the speakers were phenomenal and truly allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them. Heather said she’s going to post the videos of the speakers on her site so when you get a chance, definitely go check it out.

On Friday and Saturday morning of the conference, we had quiet time. Quiet time was truly a life changing experience for me…God really ministered to me. During quiet time, all the women met in the ballroom to pray (either individually or in groups) while worship music played in the background. During quiet time, God began to reveal my heart to me…He began to show me some unforgiveness in my heart that I was unaware of because I suppressed it…He began to reveal somethings to me about myself that were not easy to accept. You see, I thought that I had my Christ walk together…don’t get me wrong, I knew I was far from perfect, but there were certain things like unforgiveness that I was sure I wasn’t struggling with…boy oh boy was I wrong! God ministered to me about friendships. A few years ago, I was part of a ministry in which a couple of my siblings in Christ hurt and disappointed me. I thought I had forgiven those individuals, but in reality I forced them and those hurts they inflicted to the back of my mind so that I wouldn’t have to think about it. I didn’t realize it, but because I didn’t lay them and the pain I felt at the feet of Jesus, that pain kept me from allowing others get close to me. This is what God told me,

“You have let past friendships that have ended badly harden your heart instead of laying those people and the pain they inflicted at My feet. Because you have held on to this pain, you have put up a barrier preventing others from getting close to you. When others try to get close to you, you hold them at a distance…you only let them get so close to you…you only let them get a glimpse of the real you in order to protect yourself from getting hurt. Although you’ve been able to protect yourself from getting hurt, it was at the expense of some rich and rewarding fellowship and friendships.”

That absolutely wrecked my heart…I honestly did not realize I was doing that, but the more that I thought about it, the more I could see how I did shut people out in order to keep myself from getting hurt again. I just began to cry out to God…pour my heart out to Him, asking Him to help me truly give the past to Him and move forward so that I can experience the friendships He meant for me to have. I asked Him to show me what to do to change and He gave me my answer the next day during quiet time. That next day we were asked to pray and intercede for others so we got into groups of two and more. I got into a group with 3 other women in which we prayed for one another. As we were praying, I could feel a heaviness on one of the women. I tried to ignore it, but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me so I asked the Holy Spirit what He wanted me to do about it. He told me to go and put my arm around her. Now, for those who know me, y’all know that is way out of my comfort zone. I’m one of the least affectionate people…I wasn’t always that way, but, as mentioned before, my barriers I put up around me kept me from being affectionate. Anyway, I started trying to convince the Holy Spirit that He did not want me to go and put my arm around this woman. I was like, “Holy Spirit, are You sure You don’t want me to just pray for her? Prayer is very powerful!” If you have never experienced the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart, this is how it feels: it’s like a nagging pulling that you can feel all the way to the depths of your soul…it’s a relentless tug…you have no peace or rest until you do what the Holy Spirit has told you to. So now I couldn’t just go back to praying and interceding because I could not even focus! Finally, I put aside my fears and concerns, and scooted myself next to that woman and put my arm around her. As soon as I did that, one of the other women in our group came and started praying for the woman. The woman broke down crying, but it was okay because she had her sisters in Christ there to uplift and comfort her. Now just imagine if I hadn’t obeyed the Holy Spirit. Would the other woman have come over and started praying? What about the woman who was hurting? Would she have left quiet time with that heaviness on her heart? While I was comforting my sister in Christ, the Lord began to minister to me again,

“The remedy to a hardened heart and breaking down barriers is helping and comforting others as I lead you, My child. You must walk in obedience. Obedience allows Me to shape and mold you into the woman I have called you to be. It is through that obedience that you submit to My will for you.”

Just imagine if I hadn’t obeyed the Holy Spirit? Do you think God would have still given me that revelation? I doubt it…or I would have gotten it much later. For those of you reading this, I don’t know what your situation is or what you are going through, but if you have any unforgiveness in your heart, lay it at the feet of Jesus. If you are unsure of whether or not you have unforgiveness in your heart, let me help you out…you know that friend that betrayed you, how do you feel when you see a post from them on Facebook or Instagram? Does anger flare up inside of you? Do you start to think negatively about that person? Then, yes you have unforgiveness in your heart. Maybe it’s not unforgiveness in your heart…maybe fear is holding you back…lay it at the feet of Jesus. 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God,  for He cares about you.” God cares about every single aspect of your life. He cares about when you are hurting, but He doesn’t want you to  hold on to those hurts allowing them to harden your heart. A hardened heart prevents you from feeling and if you can’t feel, how in the world are you supposed to have relationships and friendships? Give all that hurt to God and allow Him to mend your broken heart…let Him make you whole again, and as the Holy Spirit leads you to do something, walk in obedience. Your obedience will allow God to do great and mighty things in your life.