Put a demand on it

Luke 18:35-43 (AMP) As He was approaching Jericho [on His way to Jerusalem], it happened that a blind man was sitting beside the road begging. Now when he heard a crowd going by, he began to ask what this was [about]. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” So he shouted out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David (Messiah), have mercy on me!” Those who were leading the way were sternly telling him to keep quiet; but he screamed all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then Jesus stopped and ordered that the blind man be led to Him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me regain my sight!” Jesus said to him, “Regain your sight; your [personal trust and confident] faith [in Me] has made you well. Immediately he regained his sight and began following Jesus, glorifying and praising and honoring God. And all the people, when they saw it, praised God.

I am in the process of watching the Chosen series for the first time. If you have not seen it, I recommend it. It does take some creative licensing to fill in the blanks on what could have happened behind the scenes. It is not one hundred percent Bible, but neither was the Ten Commandments nor the Prince of Egypt. I like it because it gives personality to those that Jesus ministered to. It gives personality to His disciples. I do not know if this particular encounter is portrayed, but I hope so.

One of the things I like about the series is that it also does flash backs to other stories in the Bible, like the time Moses fashioned a snake on a pole. What they are doing is showing the character and nature of God and how Jesus did what He saw His Father doing. Jesus is showing us that as a man (He laid down His deity for us) His ability to heal was because of the Holy Spirit. Which we now have (Acts 1:8).

My question to you: is healing still for today? I believe it is. I believe it and have experience healing first hand. It did not come by the laying on of hands, as there are times for that. Mine came through drawing on the anointing of corporate worship. Jesus spoke to the man, “your personal trust and confident faith in Me has made you well.” The only time I have missed a service for being sick was when I was COVID positive. Other than that, I have been there (I have missed for being of town). If I could not play the bass, I entered into worship and drew off the anointing. I have been there with sinus infections; I have been there after COVID still recovering; I have been there when my joints were sore. Why? You sometimes have to be in a faith building environment to put a demand on the anointing.

This may not be you. You may say that is condemning to those that do not come when they are not feeling well. I promise you, I am not. I just want to stretch your faith a little bit. When I got saved I told God that I wanted everything that He had for me. I had to put a demand on it when I did not feel like it. I had to put a demand on it when family told me I was being a little too radical with chasing after God. I had to put a demand on it when I was called names that did not match my character. Jesus was called a heretic and a false prophet. The Messiah had stones thrown at Him! What did He do in return? He went to the Father and sought Him for the next town, the next person and the next water stirring event.

I am just stirring up the waters a little bit. Ezekiel 37 is one of my favorite passages to stand on for healing. Why? Because it is illustrative. Verses 1-4: The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass all around them, and behold, there were very many [human bones] in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’

Why is this significant? First off, the hand of the Lord was upon Him. Did you know that when you seek His face that His hand is right there? Ezekiel was placed in the middle of the valley. When we are going through times that we do not see a way, those can often be seen as valley moments. When we do not feel like it. This valley was full of human bones. I look around during the day and I see human bones, just going through their next task. I see human bones that are not really alive and free, just dry. This part I love, how many people did God call “Son of man?” The only other time we read “Son of man” is when it is in reference to Jesus (in Daniel, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Hebrews). To me this is a shadow of the Holy Spirit and the power available to mankind.

Lastly, what does God tell Ezekiel to do? He said to prophesy and tell those dry bones to hear the word of the Lord. God told Ezekiel to put a demand on His Word. When we prophesy (not future telling, but speak His Word) we speak power packed words through a power filled man or woman of God. I put a demand on the Word and it will come to pass.

For what purpose? To turn this world upside down. It is to glorify Him. It is to open eyes and awaken other dead men so they many glorify God. Why do I believe healing is for today? Because there are still dry bones. We need to get out of the grave, take off the grave clothes and step into freedom. Put a demand on His Word!! Do not be ashamed to call after the name of Jesus!

Father, I thank you that when you sent your Son, you sent Him just for me. I speak to these dry bones whether it is in my mind, in my physical body, in my emotions, in my spiritual growth or in my feeling of being unworthy. I believe You see me. I speak do these bone to live. I speak strength to these bones and my mind. I choose to glorify You in everything I put my hands to. I put a demand on Your Word. I believe Your Word is truth and life giving. Just like in Ezekiel, if there are times of correcting and mourning, I willing take it upon me and let it be a sweet taste to my lips. I choose freedom today! I choose to look for the best in others and seek the best for them. You are my strength and my shield. I praise You! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Where does rest come from?

2 Chronicles 14:2-5, 7 (AMP) Asa did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign altars and high places and tore down the [pagan] pillars (obelisks, memorial stones), and cut to pieces the Asherim [the symbols of the goddess Asherah]. And he commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers [to inquire of and for Him and seek Him as a vital necessity], and to observe the law [given to Moses] and the commandment. Asa also removed the [idolatrous] high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. The kingdom was at rest and undisturbed under his reign. So he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround them with walls, towers, gates and bars [to secure the doors]. The land is still ours because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him [longing for Him with all our heart] and He has given us peace on every side.” So they built and prospered. 

When I read the Bible I do not pick and choose just my favorite verses, I read it in context of what was going on during the time it was written. Chronicles is separated into two books and goes along with first and second Samuel, first and second Kings, the books of the prophets, the writing of Psalms, Proverbs, Lamentations and Song of Solomon. King Asa (found in 1 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 14-16) reigned after the death of this father Abijah. In the first verse of 2 Chronicles 14, it states that the land was quiet for ten years. Why was that important? Because after Solomon died, the kingdom was split and warring against each other. There are now two kingdoms and two kings. Does that not sound confusing?

King Asa ruled 36 years. He was known to be a man of character and brought reforms to the nation. In verse five it states, “The kingdom was at rest and undisturbed under his reign.” Yet reformation happened and building happened. Actually, a few verses down we read that Zerah, an Ethiopian Cushate, came out against them. What? I thought they were at rest? The total number in King Asa’s army totaled 580,000 (army of Judah 300,000 and from Benjamin 280,000). The men from Ethiopian came out against them with one million men and three hundred chariots. Talk about out numbered! Asa went out to engage and arranged for battle.

2 Chronicles 14:11 (AMP) Asa called out to the Lord his God, saying, “O Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and the weak; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in and rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”

What happens next? God strikes down the enemy before King Asa and Judah. What does God striking down look like? Is it like He sends down lightning? How about He empowers us so that it happens like we put a knife in a stick of butter that has been softened.

Rest comes in His presence, not the absence of opposition. Not the absence of action. Rest and peace is seeking God with all of your heart, soul and mind. It is making Him your vital necessity. This is where rest come from. When opposition comes, you have no fear and no worry. He has made a way before you and you follow along fully armed in the full armor of God. Ready, have done all and then stand firm (Ephesians 6:13). This is why Jesus was able to sleep during the storm (Matthew 8:24).

King David, wrote Psalms 23 (AMP) towards the end of his life. We know his life did not go without opposition:

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me],
I shall not want.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. 
He refreshes and restores my soul (life);
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.

There is so much I can speak more on what His presence truly brings. Presence is my word for this year. In His presence is peace and rest, even when your enemy (the devil) wages war against you. Seek His as your most vital need today. There is nothing greater.

Father, I thank you for being the God who goes out before me. I seek you as my most vital need today. There is nothing else that I would rather have than be in Your presence. I know I will not really be at rest without You. You have proven Yourself time and again. Your guide me and I am comforted in that. You have prepared a way for me and I will not lack because of You. Let me be a light and example of what it is like to be at peace in this world, not to say that I do not have a care, because You care deeply for us. Peace is one of the gifts You sent when you sent Your Son. I am empowered with peace because of the Holy Spirit that now dwells in and around me. I pray for rest for the person reading this. May they grow to know you more this year. We desire more of You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

The Word for this Year: Presence

Psalms 27:8 (AMP) When You said, “Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word].”

We go into the new year with ideas of how we would like to change. We may think of changing our bodies with goals of losing weight, or getting healthier by changing our diets and going to the gym. We may think of changing our careers so we decide to rewrite our resumes or update that profile on LinkedIn. We may decide to expand our minds by enrolling in classes, whether they are for hobbies or for education (to help with that new career).

As we enter into 2023 I pray that this year you desire more of Him in every part of your life. On January 2nd, during the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals game, a player collapsed on the field and was administered life saving measures. Damar Hamlin, at the age of 24, had went into cardiac arrest and the world watched. They stopped the game, because people are more important. Prayer happened and has happened in areas that was no longer allowing to have it happen openly. Prayer happened on the field. Prayer happened on national television (that was not a Christian broadcast). It sparked hope in me.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (AMP) My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.

What does it mean to seek His face? Moses did it in the wilderness. Read Exodus 33, God is telling Moses that an angel will lead them and God will cause them to drive out the enemies before them. He tells Moses the land is of abundance, it is flowing with milk and honey. However, because of the stubbornness and rebellion of the people, He would not be going, He may be tempted to destroy them. Moses delivered the word and the people mourned. The people repented. They reverenced God and the meetings that Moses had with Him at the tent of meeting. They would rise when he entered, and they would rise when he left. Moses interceded, “Now therefore, I pray you, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways so that I may know You [becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, recognizing and understanding Your ways more clearly] and that I may find grace and favor in Your sight. And consider also, that this nation is Your people”  (13). And the Lord said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest [by bringing you and the people into the promised land].” (14)

What is more important, His blessings or His presence? They were promised abundance, but still grieved because they were denied His presence. This is the ultimate desire of our hearts. Just like my Bella (pit mix in picture), we should desire to be so close that peace is what we are known for. For a dog to lay with their belly exposed is said to show trust, it is the most vulnerable part of them. That is how we need to be with the Father. This is one of her favorite parts of her day. If I have not sat down to read the Word, she will stay by side, and nudge me to get me there. Pay attention to that nudge.

Psalms 37:4 (AMP) Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.

Father, I thank you for your presence. I thank you that you sent your Son to reconcile me to you. Now I have the ability to enter into your throne room of grace and rest in your presence. You go out before me and make a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You are my provider. You are more than enough for me. Check my heart Lord and clean out anything within me that does not bring you glory. I desire to be close to you. Your presence is enough for me. Let me be a light and example to others. I want to know your more so that I can establish your Kingdom here on earth. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Celebrate Christmas Year Round

2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP) Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].

I pray you had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with your families. My family and I are away from home, enjoying each other, in the mountains of Tennessee. We take this time to just be us. We go on adventures, eat out at new places and spend time in a new environment to check on our growth status as a family.

I think we should do that regularly as believers as well. We get so comfortable in our routines. I use to read the above scripture and think that it only applied to the moment I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. That is just part of it. Freedom comes when you realize that spiritual awakening brings new life. My spirit man became alive, yes, however I did not know it’s fullness until I started applying the next verse.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (AMP) But all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ [making us acceptable to Him] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation [so that by our example we might bring others to Him], that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them]. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation [that is, restoration to favor with God]. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we [as Christ’s representatives] plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. 

I am a minister of reconciliation, and if you are in Christ, so are you. As I surrender and pursue after a relationship with the Father, His spirit will begin to speak to my spirit and reveal things in His Word that will cause me to grow and get stronger spiritually. There is no magic formula. I cannot wait to feel it in my emotions. This is a decision I have to make. I have to determine to want the new.

Read your Word not to get your streaks, and not to get your goal to read in a certain amount of time. Read your Word with a surrendered heart. “God what are you saying to me today?” I cannot allow my emotions to lead my life or run my life. It is not about the feeling, it about the character and nature as revealed through His Word.

How can we celebrate Christmas year round? How do I determine if this new life is a part of me continually? Be determined each day to grow in God. How? 1) Through relational development. I must be committed to spending time with God. 2) Through personal surrender. I must be willing to say no to things in my life that pulls me away from the development and relationship with Him. 3) Make myself available to serve. If you have number one and number two and you do not have an outlet in the kingdom, then you really are not growing in anything. If you have number three with out numbers one and two, you are doing it for self promotion and not kingdom building. It is in the moments that you serve that the things that you have learned will be tested and proven. Being available to serve is proving ground in what you said you learned. I would also like to suggest that being available to serve will reveal your calling…the calling to the ministry of reconciliation.

Father, I thank you for the gift of love that you show and give. Let me be an example of that love by answering the call into the ministry of reconciliation. Through your Son I have been made a new creation. The person I was yesterday, is different from who I am today. I choose to grow in your Word and in your ways by developing a closer relationship with you. I choose to serve as I grow. I choose to surrender as I grow. Your life is better than my old life. You are where I find my fullness. Let me be an example of that to others. In Jesus Name, Amen.

The secret to abundant living

Psalms 100:1-5 (AMP) Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness and delight; Come before His presence with joyful singing. Know and fully recognize with gratitude that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with a song of thanksgiving
And His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, bless and praise His name. For the Lord is good;
His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting, His faithfulness [endures] to all generations.

We are four weeks away from Christmas. This year my church has picked a family from the local domestic violence intervention center to shop for Christmas. We were given a list of items they would like and have created ornaments for people to get so they know what to shop for. Some items are candles from a well know chain, jewelry, clothing, gas cards (for the mom), and then there are the big items like an ipad and a Canon G7X. Wow! You may be saying that is too big of an ask. Some even judge and say how dare they ask for something that big. They were asked though. Many of their friends have them, why should they not dream of having one themselves.

I was raised by a single mother with three small children. My sisters were three and I was five when my mother got out of an abusive marriage. We lived in some cramped spaces and spent evenings on the stairwell of the night school. That did not keep her from enrolling us in things like dance classes and softball. We were close to family and they would step in and help at times. We never felt neglected.

Not everyone will have that support system. That is why it is important to seek out others. It is not just a one way seeking. I was reading an article about why it was believed that Christians are not giving their best at this time of year. It is because we look at obvious opportunities to give and do not like to be stretched to give. We need to seek out extravagant giving opportunities.

What does that have to do with the above verse? I believe the level of your thanksgiving and gratitude is gauged by the words that come out of your mouth. My husband and I started our marriage out with a two income family. Within a few months I started back to college full time and he stared full time ministry (making not even a third of what he was before). That year we bought our first house, we signed the papers with his college degree being his work history and he was still in the other job. Our first Christmas in that new house was not what you see now. We had a tree, but that was it. We made sure to get for others, but when it came to each other, we just did not have it. We are tithers. We would rather do without, and have, than not honor God with the tithe. Then there was a knock on the door by our realtor. Since we had recommended her to so many people, and they bought houses from her that year, she wanted to gift us. She blessed us with three hundred dollars.

Do you want to know my secret for attracting things like that? We never complained about what we did not have. We praised God where we were. Thanksgiving was always what we showed. Nobody knew how much we were struggling, not even my family. We did not try to credit card our way to looking better (even though I had to put bills or groceries on them sometimes). We did have to borrow money from family once, and paid it back. Never did we give up on God and putting Him first. We did not throw in the towel and say, “this putting God first thing does not work.” Who am I to limit God on how He sustains us? We are to look at His face and not His hands.

Matthew 6:33 (AMP) But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.

Let us remember to put Him first in our lives. Where your heart dwells that is where your treasure is. My circumstances are never going to be better than my praise. My life is not perfect, but that does not mean His goodness is not always on my lips. Give Him your praise and thanksgiving! This is the secret to living the abundant life.

Will those kids get everything on that list? Yes!

Father, I praise you for who you are. You are a good, good father. You know every detail of our lives and desire to shower us with your love. When you sent your Son you gave the ultimate gift. Thank you for the reminder today to be thankful and to look for opportunities to bless others. Whatever I have is yours. Let us see each other the way you desire us to. We are not against each other nor competing, but encouraging each other to grow deeper in our relationships with you. Thank you for your Word, that it is life giving. Let it change me and mold me. Let it reveal your character so that when other options come my way I will know which voice to listen to. Thank you for the people you have placed in my life. Thank you that everything you placed in my hands I will choose to glorify you with. Let your light burn brighter through me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Something to Ponder

Luke 2:19 (AMP) But Mary treasured all these things, giving careful thought to them and pondering them in her heart.

Have you ever just sat down and thought about how far you have come? My husband and I like to do this together sometimes. We will sit down and talk about all the people we have met, the things we have done with our family, and the home we have made. We will talk about the moment we met and if we could have ever imagined sitting there together twenty seven years later. We will talk about our church and the changes that have happened. We will encourage each other, because there are times when we think they are set backs, but there are exactly where God want us to be. We talk about our growing moments.

I have started doing this with our sons. I will tell them a story about how far we have come. We have raised them to not have to struggle. That has been a blessing, but it also is not completely beneficial. They will be out on their own soon and they need to grow on their own. Mom and dad want to protect them, but we need to point them in the direction of who their true source really is. So I tell them about us trusting God and that we are where we are because of our faith in His promises. It is not magic, it is principles of the Kingdom at work. At the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I chose to put God first in all things. There is only one Savior and His Name is Jesus.

Our Christmas tree is already up. It may be early to some. We did have the tradition of putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving, but as the kids are now teenage boys, they are off doing other activities. My husband has been at me to buy a new tree for a few years now. Why? Because of the shedding issue. Piles and piles of needles shed off every year. Finally, this year, it had to be done. The branches were broken, snapped while put in storage last year. On our way to pick out a new tree, I was telling my youngest about when we bought the old one. It was the year 2003 and I was expecting his older brother in just two more months. We had put a tree on lay away to use for his first Christmas. It was pre-lit with white lights. We had bought real trees before then, but our cats would drink the water and they would dry out (which is dangerous). My oldest will be turning 19 in a few months, so it did not quite make it twenty years. That is a long time to hold onto something.

The best part is holding onto the memories we made, and will continue to make. It was a great time to share about priorities and how far God has brought us. We talked about sacrifice on our way to pick up the new tree and what it means to be a good steward. We looked for opportunities to be a blessing to someone. We did not rush in and get the one item and then rush home. We watched out for others and allowed them to go first. I pray these moments we spend with them will be pondered later on. I treasure them and hope they do too.

Can you see how far you have come in your walk with the Lord? Can you look back and see all of the many ways that He has blessed your life? Can you look back and think of the majesty of it all? I sure can.

Father, I thank you for the person reading this right now. Let them know that they are loved and seen by you. We stand in awe of you. Your majesty is to be treasured. We are thankful for the life that you have laid out before us. May we take advantage of the moments to share your glory. We ask you to heal any broken area in our lives. We give it freely back to you. We have tried to fix things on our own or hold onto things too long, and it is time to let it go. Thank you for the growing moments. We thank you for putting people in our lives to grow us and for us to help grow. We are not called to do this alone. We thank you for placing us in the ministry of reconciliation. Help us see the way that you see. Help us love the way you love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

30 Days of Thanksgiving

Colossians 2:6-7 (AMP)  Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in [union with] Him [reflecting His character in the things you do and say—living lives that lead others away from sin], having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude.

Every November I start each morning posting what I am thankful for. A heart of thanksgiving will overflow with gratitude. It is the fruit of us being deeply rooted in Jesus. It is proof of our faith. It helps build our faith because we choose to overflow in it with gratitude.

Last week my church finished up a six week small group plan following Get Out of Your Head, a study in Philippians, by Jennie Allen. The final chapter talks about anxiety. Could we be focused on fear of a real or, often really the case, perceived threat? Can we trust God, even if?

Philippians 4:8 (AMP) Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

Philippians 4:8 is one of my go to verses that I often meditate on. Why? My mind wants to spiral into some crazy thoughts. Often we think of all the things that can go wrong when presented with a challenge. In reality the more success we have is when we focus on all the things that can go right. The same is with our relationships. If I cannot think of our brothers and sisters in Christ this way, I have a deep issue that has not been rooted in His love. If I cannot bring our minds to think on things that is worthy of praise, if I cannot implant His Word in my heart, I have a deep rooted issue centered on not trusting God.

A couple of years ago a church that we had a semi relationship with (our youth groups would get together) hurt me pretty bad. They had started using some of my youth leaders to do various helps in their church, without us knowing. These leaders eventually left ours to join in with their leadership team because of the relationship they developed. My heart hurt and we cut ties with that other church. Even though what they did was wrong, I became so consumed to what they did and what they are doing that bitterness and eventually depression set it. I had allowed it to do that to happen a year ago. I still had friendships in that church, but I cut off all communication with the pastors. I stayed away from my friends because I did not want to spew my hurt onto them. I do honor the office of a pastor and we should not use the reason of hurt to talk bad about them (James 4:11). When I did come together again, with my friend, I did tell them why, but I did tell the I her I was working through my hurt. I always encourage her to honor her pastors, to join in and help with the vision of the church. I have also started to pray for the church, not to see their errors, but to fulfill the vision that God put inside of them. I am not ready to see them again. I will continue to pray. I focus my mind on what is worthy of praise. They are called by God with a purpose. They are bringing people into the Kingdom.

You do not have to wait to feel good to start having a time of thanksgiving. Joy will start to come out of your praise. Praise even when you are hurting, that is the way out of it. Start with just one. You might say, I cannot come up with thirty things. Just think and be thankful one day at a time. Before you know it, you will have filled the whole month with thanksgiving. Here are a couple of ideas if you need help:

Father, I thank you for challenging us to see the best in others. My hearts desire is to grow close in your presence, because in your presence is fullness of joy. I repent for speaking words or having thoughts that slander my brothers and sisters in Christ. I choose today to think on things that pure, lovely, virtuous, and to not take an account of a suffered wrong. I speak blessings on those that hurt me. May they be successful and favored in every place they go. May they minister the gospel and set people free by pointing them to your Son. I am thankful for the forgiveness you have given me so that I may freely give it to others. Thank you for leading me. Thank you for the friendships that I have. I thank you that we point each other back to Christ. I thank you for surrounding me and rooting me in your love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

My Jerusalem

My Jerusalem April 2, 2022

Romans 12:9-13 (MSG) Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

For most parts of the country this week, the temperature dropped, but not gradually. It dropped like we just saw a patrol car and we were going fifty miles over the speed limit! If you are like me, you still refuse to turn on the heat, because it is just going to be hot again by the weekend. My kids and I have been walking around the house in hoodies. My husband is sleeping during the day (he is on third shift) so he does not get to enjoy the crisp fall weather during the day. By my request he has taken the weekend off. Why? So that we can serve as a family, with our church, in our community.

My city has an ministry that is called Way 2 Serve. Twice a year they hold an event called My Jerusalem, taken from the book of Nehemiah. Churches, small groups and individuals gather and are sent out to do home repairs in our city. I have been doing it with who ever I could get to go with me for a few years now. The past few times we have been getting together to do it with our church. It is a wonderful way to put in to practice the above scripture.

The Amplified Bible says this, “Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.”

When my husband and I sat down to write the vision for Connect Church we knew people got excited about missions. My husband grew up on the mission field. He lived in Belize for ten years. He saw what it was like for those who came and did short term missions and the expense it was for them to make that trip. It is an opportunity to go into all the world. However, we wanted to make the biggest impact. We needed to start here. So we came up with, “We exist to touch the world through our community.” As a church we do not have to start up programs when great ones are already going on in our city. We joined up with Way 2 Serve.

We are looking forward to repairing a home so that someone can get their home back. We are looking forward to showing genuine love. We do that by taking time off, by getting up early on a Saturday, by braving this cold snap and putting our hands to the needs of people. People need to know that they are seen. They need to know that they are loved. There have been times that we did not get to meet the home owner. There have been times when I spent all day with them because they had to tear down to the jousts to get the rot out. Every project is different. The heart is the same. We are honoring each other. Enthusiastically serving and practicing hospitality. We get to do this! How can you get burned out by making the biggest impact in someone’s life?!

Father, I thank you for the love that you have shown us by sending your only Son to die for us. Let us continue to show love for others in doing good to those who are in need. Thank you for gifting us with the ability to do it with a glad heart. Let this weekend glorify You. Our heart is to bring people closer to you. Let us be the hands and feet that shows your love and mercy. Lead us. We rejoice in hope because of our confident trust in Christ Jesus. We thank you for the impact that we will make this weekend. Let your love flow through us. We thank you for the leading of the Holy Spirit and wisdom on how to accomplish the tasks before us. We praise you for giving each one of us and small part to do something big together. Thank you for the church body that you have planted us into. We strengthen each other to do the work of the ministry. Let us walk boldly as ministers of reconciliation this weekend. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Confident

Psalms 27:13-14 (AMP) I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

I am currently reading a book by Joyce Meyer called Confidently You. There are many good points in it and I highly recommend it, especially if you lack confidence. The root for the lack of confidence is fear. Fear can be such a stumbling block that it will cause you to be defensive, stagnant and harbor resentment to those who walk in confidence. She wrote something on stagnation that I want to share:

Stagnation is an enemy of confidence, because where stagnation is, lethargy, despair, discouragement, and even depression can follow. Stagnation takes place for many reasons – stress, laziness, becoming too busy, increased responsibilities, or simply losing interest in activities that were once exciting and fun. One of the major causes of stagnation is fear. People often refuse to move forward because they are afraid they will make a mistake, afraid they will fall, afraid others will ridicule or reject them, afraid their friends and families won’t understand and support them. Or they are afraid they will be out of God’s will, or perhaps they are afraid of all the unknowns that lie ahead of them if they take a confident step of faith. They are so afraid of negative possibilities involved in moving forward that they do not even consider the positive potential of stepping out and trying something. Confidence is the opposite of fear, and that’s why confident people do all they can do to avoid stagnation.

Joyce Meyer Confidently You

Here I am standing in awe of how far along I have come these past 11 years. Eleven years ago I took a group of women on a trip to see Joyce in Atlanta. This was the first trip that I had taken the lead on. In the past I had planned events and sat in the background allowing someone else to take the lead. Someone else would do all the speaking…I just made sure the chairs and tables were arranged, the food was prepared, there were drinks, napkins, plates and cutlery. I would be there early to set up and the last to leave for clean up. I never wanted to be the person to speak. I could organize the activities, but speak, that was not me. Eleven years ago as I was sitting in that auditorium I asked God to help me with my fear. I no longer wanted to live a narrow life that only had room for me and my fears. I decided that I wanted to live a confident life. I no longer wanted fear to rule me. I realized that I could not sit around and wait for fear to go away. I may still feel fear, but I have to take action anyways. The Word says to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9). Courage is not the absence of fear. It is taking action in the presence of fear. I could no longer be led by my feelings. I needed to stand confident in the Lord. That Sunday, I took the microphone and did my first presentation to the church. My confidence comes from the Lord.

Ephesians 6:13 (NIV) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Here is what I learned about waiting. If I waited until I no longer felt fear, I would have never moved. If I waited on God to remove the fear to stand in my calling, I would never have moved. The word wait does not mean to not take action. The word wait means to stand firm, however, I cannot stand firm until I do my part. When I stand firm (wait) I am confidently expecting the Lord to be my strength. I do not have the confidence to preach a message that will bring correction and to bring you closer to Jesus without His strength.

What is it that is keeping you from moving? Is it the lack of confidence? Is it because fear has made you stagnant? We all should know who we are in Christ, should grow in the knowledge of His Word, but it is when we start to pour into someone else that true freedom occurs.

Father, I thank you for the person reading this today. I thank you that they are growing more and more each day to reflect your glory. You are such an awesome God. Your Name is above ever other name, including fear. Thank you for bringing boldness to me when fear tries to take over. I thank you for being the voice the propels me to keep my focus on what is pure and lovely. I thank you for your Word. Your character and nature is to comfort us, but it is to stretch us. We know that we can walk boldly into the throne room of grace. I thank you for sending your Son and the Holy Spirit. I choose today to stand firm with the belt of truth, with righteousness on my heart and my feet ready to go because they are clothed in your peace. I stand in faith today that whatever trial may come at me, you are there. I thank you for the people you have placed in my life, even those in authority over me, so that I am made stronger. I choose today the mind of Christ and to test everything against the character and nature that is found in your Word so that I will not stumble when the enemy comes as a voice of light. I have spent time in your Word and will not listen to the voice of a stranger. I thank you for opportunities to show your goodness today. In Jesus Name, Amen.