That door is not closed…yet

Hebrews 10:24-25 (AMP)  Let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.

Yesterday was National Back to Church Sunday. I hope that you are plugged into a local body. The above scripture shows that even in the beginning of the early church some thought they could do it on their own. Yes, it is a personal relationship that we develop, but we still need each other.

Last week our church passed out one thousand door hangers in hopes that someone new would walk through our doors. I had been preparing for guests for months. I had gift bags printed, mugs printed, pens printed. We spent hundreds of dollars in hopes of us making a good first impression. I woke up in the morning thinking to myself, are we even prepared for new? Do we know how to walk through the door with fresh eyes? What would it be like to walk through those doors, with my kids? Were we prepared to walk along someone who had never entered our doors?

To my disappointment, no one new showed up. I was heart broken, still am. I had to think about the ones that were there. Just because they were not new, did not mean that I did not need to minister to and serve them.

It took me back to my fortieth birthday. My spiritual daughter tried to do a surprise party for me during the COVID stay at home order. It had been two months since we had to stop in person services. She had organized an outdoor, socially distanced, event. There were people who attended, but my focus after the fact, was on the ones that did not. I asked if they were invited. I had seen them out in stores (in groups), but they did not come. I was hurt. Since then I have altered my relationships. Did I have too high of expectations because I favored them more? Did I really favor them more? I had to make a change.

At the gym this morning I was listening to Elevation Church’s message while doing cardio (this is a routine of mine for Mondays). Today’s message really ministered to me. Paul was not without rejection or disappointments. The Corinthian church was one of the largest and most influential churches that he was the apostle over. They did not like his correction in some matters and had rejected him. He had to walk in forgiveness, but that did not mean he was not distract him for a moment. He had sent Titus to help mend things and while waiting for Titus’ report he just could not get his mind off the matter.

2 Corinthians 2:12-13 (AMP)  Now when I arrived at Troas to preach the good news of Christ, even though a door [of opportunity] opened for me in the Lord, my spirit could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there; so saying goodbye to them, I left for Macedonia.

Today I took a step and had a meeting with a director of a local non profit. It is an opportunity to present the gospel to the unchurched, ages 11-19. This is an open door. I could allow the disappointments of all other things to hinder what I am called to do. I am to present the gospel wherever an opportunity (open door) is given.

“Caution! The longer you are a Christian, the fewer opportunities you will have to be involved with unbelievers. Why? You become more involved in church life and activities. You are ‘lifted out’ of normal contact with unbelievers. Solution? Find practical and creative ways to build bridges back to unbelievers.” – Evangelism Explosion

I do not know about you, but I do get disappointed. I do have occasions that I am frustrated. That is okay, because those are signs of hope. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (AMP) Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. If I threw up my hands in disgust, the enemy wins. Love always hopes. Love knows that the door is opened, the enemy wants you to think that it is closed because it is difficult. Remain steadfast anyways. Do not allow your spirit to remain bothered (I am talking to myself) and go through the doors of opportunity.

That door has not closed…yet. Learn from Paul.

Not Rejected but Accepted

Psalm 142:5 (AMP) I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

In my personal studies I am reading the Bible in chronological order. I have been using the You Version App and it has a plan to read it in a year. I cannot say that I read every day, but I do catch it up to where I should be in line with what it wants me to be at. Right now I am in the middle of 1 Samuel and some of the Psalms. These were the Psalms that David wrote as he was being pursued by Saul the first time. I encourage you to read your Bible in different ways and in different translations. The Word of God is living and brings fresh revelation (like the manna) every day. Here are some that stood out to me:

Psalms 142: 4-7 (AMP) Look to the right [the point of attack] and see; for there is no one who has regard for me [to act in my favor]. Escape has failed me and I have nowhere to run; no one cares about my life. I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, “You are my refuge,my portion in the land of the living.
“Give attention to my cry, for I am brought very low; rescue me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I. “Bring my soul out of prison (adversity), so that I may give thanks and praise Your name; the righteous will surround me [in triumph], for You will look after me.”

Psalms 56:8 (AMP) You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not recorded in Your book?

Psalms 56:5 (AMP) All day long they twist my words and say hurtful things; all their thoughts are against me for evil.

Psalms 34:14 (AMP) Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Psalms 31:10-13 (AMP) For my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sighing; my strength has failed because of my iniquity, and even my body has wasted away. Because of all my enemies I have become a reproach and disgrace, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me on the street run from me. I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander and whispering of many, terror is on every side; while they schemed together against me, they plotted to take away my life.

Reading these passages out of context (just reading the Psalms on their own) we would think that anything against us we have the right to wale like David did. In that context when we “think” people, family and/or the world is against us we like to quote these verses of David. I want to make something clear, David was ACTUALLY/LITERALLY RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE!

I had a Psalms 56:5 moment the other day (All day long they twist my words and say hurtful things; all their thoughts are against me for evil.) Then I had to think, “If I had to explain this to an non-believer what would they think?” They would probably think I was nutty, fruity and flaky. Here is what I want you to notice what David did recognize, in Psalms 142:7, he writes, “Bring my soul out of prison (adversity), so that I may give thanks and praise Your name; the righteous will surround me [in triumph], for You will look after me.” When we lament over our thoughts of adversity, we put our own souls in prison. Most of the battles we are facing are in our minds, not like David here, who again was literally running for his life.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (KJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds😉 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

People are not our problems. The more we dwell on them, and how you think you may feel about each other, we are putting up strongholds in the body of Christ that will keep us from reaching the ones that need Jesus. We are the light of the World and we cannot show our light if we keep putting up these strongholds. We cannot keep “feeling” like this against our brothers and sisters in Christ and be effective. We are doing like David said and have put our souls in prison. Let us cast down these thoughts, these imaginations and focus on who we are truly called to be.

1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG) But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

We are not rejected, we are accepted!

Closet Clean Out

Psalms 139:23-24 (AMP) Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.

Our hearts are the most important muscle in our bodies. We often focus on our outward appearance and our outward change that we lose focus on the most important things that need t be dealt with…our issues of the heart. The personal things we hide deep in our hearts.

Ephesians 4:22-25 (AMP) That, regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation]. Therefore, rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths, spreading rumors, any such as these], speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one another [and we are all parts of the body of Christ].

So many of us put our faith in Christ as our Savior…but fail to allow Him to be redeemer, our healer, our restorer. Christ has done everything He needs to be done to be One with us. God lives in me, He sees me, He hears, me, He loves me and He understands me. People may not always understand you, but Jesus will always understand you.

When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, there were promised a new land, a new life…the land of mile and honey! But along the way it was evident that even though they were physically delivered from the bondage of slavery…their hearts were still being held captive! Almost every time that things did not go the way they thought it should have they reverted back to Egypt, “we would have been better off back there.”

One of the enemies best weapons to stop your spiritual growth is to get you “back there.” Back to the place of regret, back to the place of hurt, back to the place where sins of the flesh ruled you. We will never live in a land of promise wishing you were “back there.”

This sounds a lot like the closets we keep in our homes. I have a size ten dress that I am very much trying to get back into. I succeeded a few years ago, then put the pounds on again. I did not get back to the size twenty I started with, but I did creep up a bit. That does not mean I have let that dress go. The closet, attic, garage are usually the places we hold everything from our past. We keep it there just in case. What are we holding onto that needs to go?

Realize this, we are in a process of progress! Daily we have to allow God to come in and deal with the issues we have in our heart.

Philippians 3:12-13 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christ like] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead… Paul is saying that he has not “arrived” yet. He has more to work on, there are areas he needs to decrease in so that God can increase. One thing he says for sure the he had to get a hold on…Forgetting the Past! You cannot live in the past and have a future. Stay focused on what lies ahead, and leave what was behind. Verses 14-16 (AMP),  I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.

Keep on keeping on! You may have been put down. You may have been counted out. You may have been bruised. You may have been falsely accused. You may have been let down, trampled on, talked about and left to fend for yourself…but remember that you have been made a new creation. Old things have been passed away, behold all things have been made NEW!!! Each day you put on the renewed mind set, clean up the intimate areas we allow God to reside in, take out the trash and keep on going!!

The things that have been hidden away… the hurts and the let down that we try to keep to ourselves, the beat down that my mind tries to do to me daily… NO LONGER will I put up with it! That is not who I am any more. I am a child of God, made in His image, for HIS purpose. Get into our closets, get rid of the junk and live a new life in Christ!

He still washed Judas’s feet

1 John 4:19 (AMP) We love, because He first loved us.

Not two days after I finished reading Unmerited Favor by Joseph Prince and starting on The Root of Rejection by Joyce Meyer did I get a blow to my heart. I already knew it was coming. God had told us about it almost a year ago, but it still hurt. The timing was perfect for the enemy to use. Why? I had just come out stating that I was going to remind myself daily that “I am His beloved.” When I read the Word and meditate on it, the revelation knowledge that I get is because, “I am Jesus’s favorite disciple.”

A little back story of what it feels like to be a favorite. My sisters (twins) and I are about twenty two months apart, me being the oldest. When I was four we lived in Kentucky and I remember there being a special drawer for me with gum in it…Bubblicious gum. My sisters were too young to enjoy treats like that, but I got to! It made me feel special. When we moved, I have another memory of one of my aunts bringing treats for all of the little kids (she having two herself). We all closed our eyes and held out our hands and they put candies in everyone’s hands but mine. I was told that I was too old (at the age of six) to receive any. In my gut I knew that it was because my grandparents had a special bond with me and she was jealous.

So when I was told that I was not who they wanted to speak into their life (even though we pastor), that “this person is my leader,” it took me back to the pain of being rejected at six years old. I had to realize that the enemy was jealous, he is not His favorite, I am! It took me a few days to get over that blow to my heart, but it was a distraction. It was a distraction from me walking in freedom and the power that wherever I go miracles follow because the Holy Spirit dwells in me!! Do you know what Jesus’s favorite disciple gets to do? They get to walk around everywhere they go knowing they are loved. The Holy Spirit will bring back all that transpired and say, “you did what I told you to do, they still have free choice.” I have to continue to walk in love even though it was wrong, why? In my wrongness, He loved me first! Even in being rejected and knowing He would be betrayed, He still washed Judas’s feet. I love, because He loved first!

My love is not wrapped in this one person who rejected me. God showed me, look at all of these that see you as a gift. You know He does that with His beloved. I am His favorite disciple, so that I can point others back to Him. I want to tell you that you are His favorite disciple too. He will make Himself as personal to you as you desire Him to. I often like to call them “Daddy Moments.” Remember, He first loved us. He knows what it is like to love so deeply and still be rejected, but He first loved us (the book of 1 John was written to people who rejected Him).

James 1:2-4 (AMP) Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials.  Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace] And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.

The enemy is going to test that Word inside of you. Count it as a joy because it will produce something great inside of you. Do not let the enemy try to get you to go into hiding, as it did me. We need to experience this life. I do not want to lack anything that He has planned for me. I may get hurt again, that is okay. Just like He did this time, He will do it again, He will let me know just how loved and wanted I am. I pray He does the same for you.

Psalm 138:3 (NLT) As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.

Walls of Protection?

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.

Have you ever had a week, a month or even a few months that you became off focused because of words someone said to you? More than likely the transaction you had made you feel rejected, as to why you became off focus. This happens to me. My first reaction is to withdraw. I want to put up wall of protection. I want to put policies in place so that I do not hurt like that again. It is a distraction, because all my thoughts are on how that hurt. It distracted me from being able to write on Monday. The sad part is that I gave it the power to do it. What I learned yesterday is that I cannot beat myself up about that. During that week of distraction I was still aware of my need for my Father. I cried out to Him knowing that I needed His help to take control of my mind. Does that mean He is disappointed? Should I scold myself to get over it? Definitely not!!!Although I had a week of distraction, He still is not mad at me. That brought me comfort and peace. My mind was still focused on Him.

2 Chronicles 16:9a (AMP) For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth so that He may support those whose heart is completely His.

Isaiah 26:1-4 (AMP) In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; He sets up salvation as walls and ramparts. “Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, The one that remains faithful and trustworthy. “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation]. “Trust [confidently] in the Lord forever [He is your fortress, your shield, your banner], For the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

He is my fortress and my shield. I do not need to erect walls of protection because He is my protection. Our purpose is too great to shut ourselves in. It takes great faith to allow God to tear down your walls…it was by faith that the walls of Jericho fell. It takes great faith to keep your gates open to relationships. His is the best relationship. When we put up walls because of hurts and rejection, we inadvertently put up a wall to not allow access for the Father in that area of our life. We are saying that we have to protect it because we do not trust Him to protect it. It takes great faith to trust Him with your heart. It took about a week this time. The time periods are getting shorter and shorter. I celebrate in that progress!

Do you struggle with rejection? I would love to hear from you and share some tools that I have used to help me in this area. You can message me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Available

2 Timothy 2: 1-7 (NKJV) You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.  Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

This was the verse the minister used at my grandfather’s funeral this past week. He grew up in Cooperstown, New York. His father was a farmer. His home was just blocks away from the Baseball Hall of Fame. My grandfather enlisted in the army and made his way to the rank of Command Sargent Major, the highest ranking of the enlisted soldiers. He also earned a spot in the elite, the Green Beret. I could see all of these qualities in why the minister would use this verse.

When my mom left my dad (it was what really needed to happen, no woman should stay in abuse out of fear), she had no where to go. She had three girls under the age of five. My grandparents took us in. My aunt was a teenager in high school at that time. My grandmother worked at a Family Dollar and my grandfather worked in the boiler room of the plant at night. Here they were giving my mom a new start.

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:1

As I look back, my grandparents did not have a lot of money. They did not lavish us with gifts. They did lavish us with their time. I have so many wonderful memories of the time we spent with them. Yes, they disciplined us. No, they did not spoil us. They did spend time with us and help raise us. We were living there when I went for my first day of Kindergarten. My grandfather took me on my first date to see “Pinocchio” at the theater downtown.

Friends were always welcome to come over. The neighborhood kids knew who my grandparents were. My elementary school friends remember coming over and playing in their pool. It was a sad day for us when the house was sold a year ago. We can hold onto the memories though.

I am reading Bob Goff’s book Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do About It. There is a section in the book that says, “availability is your secret weapon.” He writes, “Being available isn’t about giving yourself away recklessly or wearing yourself down to the point where you have no energy to do your own work. It’s about keeping yourself open to the world around you so you don’t fall back asleep.” This was perfect for me to read because fighting the slumber is a real battle. I like routines. It is part of my comfort. However, having a routine can make some seem unavailable. I want to be more available to opportunities and to people this year. This book reminded me that Jesus did not hide from people. Rejection and insecurities have made it okay for me to hide. I do not want to hide anymore. Time is the most valuable gift you can give people. Be true during the time you give. Do not expect anything in return. Use it to build others up. Be bold and courageous, even when you make yourself available.

I want to make myself available to you. You can contact me on Facebook Messenger or via email. I would love to hear from you and pray for you this year.

What if I do not FEEL chosen?

We shape our identity on how chosen we feel at any given time. What can hinder a person from feeling chosen? For me it has been rejection. I remember a relationship with my father up until the age of five. My mother took my sisters and I to see her parents when I was around that age, we did not return home. I did not realize how bad things were for my mom until I reached adulthood. As I look back, and see the signs of abuse, I know she did the right thing. That does not mean there were not seeds of rejection put inside of me. It is a hard thing for your father not to try to keep a relationship after divorce. That is just what he did. He did not try to see us at Christmas. I honestly cannot remember anything but a phone call on my birthday. That was the extent of our relationship growing up. As a result, rejection was my identity. It was hard for me to feel chosen.

1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. 

There is something in each one of us that longs to be loved and wanted.  The Bible refers to us as the Bride of Christ. That was the first step for me into my relationship with Christ. He showed me a love that would not fail. A relationship that desires my presence just as much as I desire His.

There is something in each one of us that longs to be loved and wanted.

Psalm 68:6a (NKJV) God sets the solitary in families

Ephesians 2:19 (NKJV) Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

Maybe your family background is not necessarily godly, healthy, or hopeful.  You might feel doomed to repeat certain patterns or addictions, mental instability, or any kind of brokenness.  You might feel like you can never break free.  No matter how hard you try the world may say that you are going to end up in predetermined way  Or maybe just hearing the word “family” stings your heart. There are a lot of self help books out there to help, but nothing can make you whole except Jesus.

1 Peter 1:18 (NKJV) For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value.

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 in the Holy Spirit); the old things (the previous moral and spiritual condition) have passed away. Behold, new things have come (because spiritual awakenings bring a new life).

Matthew 7:11 (NKJV) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Psalm 40:1-5 (NKJV) I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth– Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord. Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust, And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works Which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.

As God’s treasured possession, we wait patiently and know God hears us.  As I look back over my life I see how treasured I am to my Father. I may have been rejected by someone who was suppose to love me, but I am full of with an over abundance of love from my Father. I often look for what I call “daddy moments.”

Psalm 62:1-6 (NKJV) Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. How long will you attack a man? You shall be slain, all of you, Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence. They only consult to cast him down from his high position; They delight in lies; They bless with their mouth, But they curse inwardly. Selah. My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.

What in your life tempts you to feel less than God’s treasured possession? I still have to fight the feelings of rejection. The enemy knows that this is a tactic he can use against me. I have to remind myself that I am lovable, that I do have something to offer, that just because I am awkward does not mean that others do not see the value in me.

One of my favorite verses to share with a precious daughter that has also had the hardships of rejection in their lives is Psalm 45:11 (NIV) “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” He is enthralled with us. He cannot keep His eyes off of us. This relationship is why I choose to honor Him. What we honor we see value in. I am chosen and so are you!