Monday, August 22, 2016

Forgiving Doesn't Make You Weak ; It Sets You Free

John 13:34

"A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

For the past few weeks we have been teaching the kids at Kids Club about love, kindness and forgiveness. Forgiveness isnt always easy, but in the end the only one it ends up hurting is ourselves. When we think of how much God loves us, in sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we may be forgiven, it should make it easier for us to love and forgive one another. In comparison to all that God has forgiven me for, anything that anyone does here on earth is nothing.

I have struggled with forgiveness in some areas, and have harbored anger and bitterness in my heart. Throughout my entire life there have been many instances where I have been deeply hurt by others. I have been sexually abused, physically abused and emotionally abused. I have held on to anger, bitterness, resentment and hurt for years on end, and as a result of holding on to those things and not letting it go, I was weighed down and would seek things of the world to help ease the pain and feel the freedom from it. I was caught in a cycle of these things repeating themselves over and over again, and at one point I had accepted that my life would that way. I had been hurt so many times that I just thought that was the life that i was destined to have. The enemy had fed me so many lies, and I reached a point of just giving up and trying to take my own life. And though I had almost suceeded, God brought me back. He had always had bigger and better plans for my life and He wasnt ready to give up on me yet. He had plans and a future for me that I could never fathom. Now, I have been able to look back on all that hurt, and I have finally felt the freedom of letting it go. I have been able to love others as God loves me, and forgiven as He has forgiven me.

I was reminded of something recently that has really helped me pertaining to forgiveness. I was told, "Forgiveness does not go hand in hand with trust. You can forgive but still not trust, and need time to rebuild that trust." That statement made a huge impact on my life. I struggled with that fact, because I knew that I had forgiven but I still struggled with trust, and it made me question myself. I know the enemy will do anything he can to bring me down and get in my head. As long as I stay in the Word and diligent in seeking the Lord, He will keep me on the right track and crush the lies of the enemy.

Today, I will pray for all of those that have hurt me. I will pray that they will pursue God and desire to know Him, and that the enemy would release any hold that he has on thier lives.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Power Of Words

Proverbs 18:21 (a)
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue."

This verse makes me think of that old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." That saying can not be farther from the truth. Words can absolutley be hurtful, and can actually bring someone to hurt themselves or even commit suicide. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. We may think that we aren't hurting anyone, or only joking around, but deep down it could be affecting that person in a horrible way.

This verse speaks to me because honestly im a jokester. I make jokes about EVERYTHING, and most of the time Im really just trying to lighten the mood. There are times though that I jokingly say something about someone else, and I may do it harmlessly, but that person may have taken offense to it, and without realizing it, I hurt them one way or another. The reason why I joke so much is because I love to laugh and I love to make people laugh. I hate when people are upset, or hurting, or when there is tension in the air, so I just make a joke in hopes that it'll lighten the mood in the room. I do know, though, that there are times when I have said hurtful things and joked about someone, and I knew I shouldn't have said it. Whatever it is that I may have said, could have a negative lasting effect on that person. I dont know what goes on in everyones head, and how the devil is attacking them, or what lies he is feeding them, and for all I know I could have just given the devil more ammo, and thats the LAST thing that I want to do. I truly hope and pray that I haven't hurt anyone with anything that I may have said, because I never intended to do that.

I do believe though, that humor and laughter are both amazing gifts from God. I just need to stop and think more carefully before I make a joke or say something that might be hurtful to someone else.

Today, I am going to ask my entire team here to hold me accounatble and to call me out if and when I say something that could have been hurtful to someone. I am also going to pray and ask God to help me choose words of life, and not of death.

Friday, July 29, 2016

How Great is Our God

John 3:30

"He must increase, but I must decrease."

What does it mean when John the Baptist said that He must increase ? To me it means that Jesus must become more prevelant in our lives. It means that everything that we do should glorify God. We should constantly be living testimonys and witnesses of Christ, and desire to become more Christ like everyday.

When I think of the characteristics of Christ, there is a neverending list of wonderful and amazing qualities that come to mind. A few of these are : compassionate, loving, caring, honest, prayerful, gracious, patient, kind, gentle, humble, forgiving .. the list goes on and on. Jesus is the perfect example of how we should all be. But on the contrary, in order for Him to increase, the second half of the verse says that then "I must decrease". How do I decrease and what does that mean ? I relate it to the lusts and characteristics of the flesh which are complete opposites of being Christ like. A few of these are : prideful, self centered, hateful, lying.. etc. I must stay diligent in my walk and pursuing God so that I may grow in Him, and allow God to soften my heart and mold me to be more Christ like.

I had an experience a couple days ago that really reignited that flame and desire to draw closer to Him. We went hiking in the mountains and when I reached the top, I was in such awe of the beauty of God's Creation. I was brought to my knees in prayer and just bowed down and worshipped God. I know that I get off track sometimes and get distracted by things but for some reason being on top of that mountain helped me see how magnificient and amazing that God really is. I started meditating on all the ways in which God has blessed me, all the times that I have seen His Hand in my life, and all the times He has saved me, and I couldnt help but to just praise Him for who He is and what He has done. I am so small, even smaller than an ant i imagine when Hes looking down from Heaven, yet He still has loved me and cared about me so deeply. Theres been a lot of hurt in my life, and I have had such low self esteem and hatred for myself, and used to not think I was anything special. The enemy still creeps in and reminds me of things that I have gone through, and memories of being hurt, and then some of those old feelings will come back. On that mountain though, God reminded me just how special I am to Him. Deuteronomy 7:6-8 says, "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord you God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of the peoples; but because the Lord loves you." A special treasure. Isn't that beautiful ? I am a special treasure in His sight, and He loves me and cares about me.

As an application, I will memorize Deuteronomy 6:5, which says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." I want to truly hide this Scripture in my heart, and to live each day truly loving God and worshipping Him with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength.

Thank you for loving me like you do, for saving me,for reminding me that I am special, and for showing me how magnificient and great that You are ! Lord, I want to be a light for You. Soften my heart God and help keep me diligent in my pursuit of You and to glorify Your name in all that I do.
In Jesus Name,

Monday, July 18, 2016

Self Control

Galations 5:25

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit"

What does it mean to walk in the Spirit ? When we give our lives to the Lord, He gives us the gift of His Holy Spirit, who guides us daily in our walk with God. In Galations 5:22-23, we are given a list of the fruit that come from walking and obeying the Holy Spirit in our lives. It says this, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." We are also given a list of the lusts of the flesh and are told in verses 16 and 17, "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."

Walking in the Spirit is a daily surrending to God's Will in our lives. It requires self discipline, humbling ourselves, admitting and confessing our sins daily, constant communication and prayer to the Lord, and reading His Word everyday. When I surrendered my life to the Lord, there was a complete turnaround and change in my life, and God is still molding and shaping me everyday.

As I read the list of fruit of the Spirit, I examined my own life and where I need the most growth. There are two that I struggle with the most which are patience and self control, but today Im just going to focus on self control. When I think of self control I am brought to Proverbs 25:28, which says, "Whoever has no rule over his own spirit, is like a city broken down without walls." In other words, I interpret it as, whoever lacks self control has no boundaries in thier life. I must have full control over my entire body, and if I am lacking self control in one area then I am allowing the enemy to gain a foothold and destroy me. The hardest part to control for me is my mind. I have to control where your mind goes, and what I allow to control my thought life. Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established". I must die to self daily, and constantly put to the death what the flesh wants, and turn around and surrender it to God. A huge lesson I have learned recently is that when I open the door just a little bit, pretty soon afterwards it is thrown wide open and has gone completley out of control. When I allow the enemy to gain a foothold in one area, he will continue to play on that, break into it and break down any walls that I had. Thats why self control and self discipline is so important, so that I don't get off track and keep my mind and my thoughts pure and my focus on God. James 4:7 and 8 says, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

Application :

I haven't been as diligent as I should be in my walk with God. I have slowly been neglecting my prayer time alone with God, and not reading my devos everyday. These areas are so important in order for me to continue to grow and to be able to daily walk in the Spirit. I have asked my roomate, Tianna, to hold me accountable everyday and make sure that I don't go a day without doing both these things.

I know that I haven't been diligent in seeking You daily. Please forgive me for not pursuing You as I should everyday. Help me to have self control and self discipline in my life, humble myself and die to flesh daily so that You can continue to mold me and shape me .
In Jesus Name I pray,

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

2 Timothy 1:7
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

Feeling fear well up inside of me is one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced. I have experienced it many times before coming to Christ. When I look back and think about it, everytime I felt fearful, there was some kind of evil behind it.

I like this verse especially because it puts fear and love on opposite ends of the spectrum. There should absolutley be no fear in any kind of relationship . Fear is not of God. This is not an easy subject but it is something that has been on my heart latley. Im referring to different types of domestic abuse and abusive relationships. It is something that I have not only witnessed, but I have personally experienced as well. Before I came to Christ I had a completley different outlook on myself. I went through different forms of abuse , and ended up in a cycle of pain and instead of fighting back I just accepted thats how it would be. For some reason or another I thought I was destined to be treated unfairly, and that I deserved it. There were so many lies from the enemy, and the drugs that I did to cope with the pain only further encouraged those lies and abusive behaviours. Im not only talking about a relationship with a significant other, although thats where most of the abuse was for me, but Im talking about any relationship where there is fear involved. If you feel that heaviness in your chest, and are fearful of someone for one reason or another, it is not love. No matter how many times that person may say they are sorry and even cry, if the abuse continues then they are not truly sorry. All the sorrys and all the tears are often only a form of manipulation and control to get you stay with them. Unless there is a true heart change, which can only come through Jesus Christ, then this abuse can and will continue.

Now let me talk about love. In 1 Corinthins 13, God tells us what love truly is. He says, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." Recently, I compared the love of God to the way my mother has loved me. She has loved me with a pure and true love. She has exhibited all of these qualities and went above and beyond for me. I could never thank her enough for loving me the way she has, and I could never thank God enough for her. That is true love. Someone who does not judge you, someone who forgives you and who is there to pick you back up when you fall; Someone who does not think they are above you, someone who doesn't only "love" you for what may be in it for them, someone who will do anything to mend that relationship...etc. This type of love comes from God, and I think about the way Christ loved us and even willingly went to the cross to die for us. It has become so important to me to become a Proverbs 31 Godly woman so that I can be the wife that God desires for me to be. It is also important to me for the man that I end up with to be a Godly man and have the same desire to put God first in his life. When both people are seeking the Lord first in thier lives, the pure and true love of God will be evident in thier relationship and in thier lives as a whole.

I have started to pray that God will bring me a Godly man when its His timing. I am also, in the meantime, preparing myself to be the Godly wife that I was meant to be and diligently and eagerly seeking God first in my life. I also will start to pray for oppurtunities to reach out to people who are in abusive relationships.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Create in Me a Clean Heart

Acts 5:32

"And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."

First, I'm going to write a little background on the context of the Scripture surrounding this verse. Peter and the apostles had been imprisoned for performing miracles, healed the sick and cast out demons in Jerusalem. Many people were brought to Christ during this time. The high priests and religious leaders weren't happy with what was happening and the fact that they were teaching in Jesus name, so they threw the apostles in jail. While they were at the jail, later that night, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and opened the prison doors and let them out. The angel said to them, "Go stand in the temple and speak to the people al the words of this life." So they left the prison, and entered the temple and taught there. The high priest sent officers to check on the apostles, and when the officers got there they found a closed, empty prison cell with guards still standing outside the door. One officer had heard that they were in the temple and told the others that the apostles were in the temple teaching the people. The captain and the officers went to the temple and brought the apostles back and put them on trial again. The high preist asked them "Did I not strictly command you not to teach in this name?" and Peter and the other apostles answered and said ,"We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (32) And we are witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."

The apostles were first hand witnesses to Christ's life, death and resurrection. They had so much boldness in preaching the Gospel and teaching about Jesus to the people. They weren't afraid to speak out, and even were willing to be imprisoned for their beliefs. I hear of people like this today. Martyrs for Christ, and it prompts me to ask myself the question, Would I be a martyr for Christ? Am I bold in speaking about Him or would I rather please men ? Galations 1:10 says, "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men ? For If I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." This verse is pretty clear. Its important for us to search our hearts and make sure that we are always aligned with Christ. Recently, the Lord gave me Psalm 51 and it has really stuck out to me and its something that I want to make my prayer everyday. Verses 10-12 say "create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me". I want the Lord to search my heart and reveal any wicked way within me, and start my day aligned with Him. When my heart is pure and my posture is aligned with God, then my intentions will be aligned with His will as well.

The Apostles may have physically seen Jesus firsthand and witnessed His life, death and resurrection, but we see Jesus today in many different forms. For me personally, God has made Himself so evident in my life. When I look back on my life, and where I was, and where I could have wound up, I see God's Hand guiding me and protecting me through everything. There is not just my testimony, but also the testimonies of those around us, and of those in the Bible that witness to us about Jesus and His never ending love, grace and mercy on us everyday. I also feel His presence everyday. Because I have obeyed Him and have made Jesus my Lord and Savior, He has given me the gift of His Holy Spirit whom has been my Comforter, my Advocate to the Father, and also the One who convicts me daily of my sin. Once I confess my sin to the Lord with an open and pure heart, that burden and heaviness on my heart is lifted and there is a peace that washes over me and I know that I have been forgiven.

As I mentioned earlier, I want to be more diligent in making Psalm 51 my prayer every morning when I wake up. So tonight, I will write it down in my prayer journal, and then wake up tomorrow and start my day with it as my prayer every morning.

Psalm 51:1-13

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Wonderful Counselor

 John 20:29b
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Jesus says these words to Thomas, whom doubted that Jesus was risen. Thomas did not believe the other apostles when they told him that they had seen the risen Lord. In that statement Jesus is talking about us that believe in Him and believe that He was raised from the dead.
Although I have not physically seen Jesus, I feel His presence every single day. I have not seen Him, but I have no doubt of His existence as my Lord and Saviour. He has been there for me every step of the way and its so evident when I look back at my life and all that He has brought me through. Not only in my past, but everyday, He clearly speaks to me through His Word and through prayer, and its always exactly what I need to hear. His is my Comforter, my Redeemer, my God, my Everything. Isaiah 9:6 says, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace". He has been all these things to me, but the one that sticks out the most to me is Counselor. When I was in my teens I had some traumatic events that happened to me and I didn't know how to cope. I ended up going to a worldy counselor. This person had gone through training, and had the best intentions at heart, but honestly she had only made things worse for me. I was a young girl, broken, confused and angry. I was very bitter and held onto resentment for years and used many worldy things to cope with it and just ended up falling deeper and deeper into misery. It wasn't until I surrendered to God that I was finally free from that. It was still a process, but through biblical counseling, compassion, love and prayer, I have now been able to feel the freedom that I longed to have for so many years. Through Christ, I have learned to forgive those who have hurt me, and also to forgive myself.

Application :

Today, I will pray for all those who are broken and hurting. I will pray that the Lord will comfort them and counsel them through His Word and through Godly men and women, and ultimatley mend thier broken hearts and free them from thier misery and depression. I will also pray for oppurtunities for the Lord to use me in this way as well.