Faith

Dear Younger Me

coffee-tablet-headphones-work-163187Brothers 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, (Philippians 3:13)

Experience is not the best teacher, but the truth is, despite the tough love and hard lessons learned, I needed my young adult life to play out exactly as it did beginning at the emancipation age of 18 in order to bring me to exactly where I am—content, possessing peace of mind, and humble knowing that, but for the grace of God my story could have had a different plot. Younger me possessed pride and a rebellion seemingly synonymous with youthful oblivion. My mother, who I now realize was always right, not perfect, but right, used to say, “if you don’t hear, you’ll feel.” I never really cared for that statement or more importantly, never grasped what it meant until I came to myself and acquired a portion of wisdom to be able to reflect on some of my past mistakes and how I had to feel in order to really learn valuable life lessons. If I knew in my youth and young adult years what I know now, it would have saved me from my mistakes, but it would not have served purpose because it would have prevented me from being made. Every past mistake, regrettable choice or decision when viewed through the lens of the present can be seen for what it was, a lack of wisdom or the failure to listen to wise counsel. A letter penned to younger me is futile because younger me is behind me and cannot be saved from the failures of her past. However, reflections on the past can be purposeful if they serve as constant reminders of the goodness, grace, and mercy of God and if they perhaps lead to the establishment of mentor-mentee relationships. Otherwise, I have no time to dwell on hindsight’s perfect knowledge because I cannot change a thing, but I can from experience tell someone else that they are whole, that no man, no matter how handsome and together he is, completes them, as they are already complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10); that God purposely positions people in their life to help you make wise decisions, it is their choice to listen; that they are valuable on their own not by any human association or associations, but by the association of Jesus Christ; they have a purpose that can only be revealed by God, so it is best to be still and seek Him instead of their own agenda; that bad company will influence you to do wrong so choose your company wisely; that God’s protective, unconditional, Fatherly love is the greatest; and that because of His great love, the good and bad in their lives is essentially working together for their good (Romans 8:28). When you have overcome, the choices you may regret, and the things you may now be ashamed of are a tool for you to use to help others realize that their future will far outweigh their past if they are full of faith and put their trust in God.

Dear Younger Me is inspired by a song by the same title that I hear almost everyday on the radio and it forces me to be reflective, realizing how far I have come and how good my Father is: Dear Younger Me by Mercy Me.

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10 Easy Steps to Studying Scripture

pexels-photo-24165But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18

Your growth as a Christian is key to your spiritual livelihood. There is grace to be enjoyed and wisdom to be gained that will make you aware of all of the many different graces that are lavished on the believer by our heavenly Father. If you are spiritually immature then, like newborn babies, [you are to] crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. When you taste something delicious, the natural response is to eat more or to desire more. Similarly, since you have tasted the goodness of God, allow that encounter to produce a constant craving for His word. It is a fact that you will not grow spiritually without spending time in God’s word, because God’s word is a seed that when planted in your heart, produces fruit that matures (Luke 8:11). Any urge to avoid such a crucial part to the development of your new life, or any distraction that keeps you too busy to spend quality time with the Lord threatens your ability to be spiritually productive. It is through the word that we are taught, reproofed, corrected, trained, and made complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17).

No matter your level of understanding, God will give you the portion of grace that you need in order to understand how to walk in his ways and to do His will for your life. While it is true that you can learn from preachers and teachers, from books written by wise men and women, what you are learning is the result of those individuals’ personal study and time spent with God. God gave them what they are sharing with you, God inspired them to write what is in the pages of their books, but He desires time spent directly with you in order to share with you knowledge of Himself and His ways, in order to directly feed you pure spiritual milk. God’s word is God-breathed, meaning He said it all, He just used Holy Spirit inspired men to write it down (2 Timothy 3:16). The contents of biblically sound books you read with your awareness of God’s word firsthand, makes these secondary sources of godly information a useful tool to supplement, not to replace your primary Bible study. So, since you should study for yourself so that you can properly and accurately handle the word of God, how do you study Scripture in a way that is not intimidating or overwhelming? Well, it’s simple, pray first asking the Holy Spirit to guide you into the deep things of God and to open your eyes so that revelation knowledge is yours. Apply these 10 Easy Steps to make the most of your regular, quality time with God:

  1. Limit distractions (Bible reading via technology is convenient because our devices are at our fingertips, but be mindful of alerts and the temptation to rush your quality time in order to surf the internet, return a call, post that picture or status update to social media, etc.)
  2. Think about what you know about the book of the Bible itself (its author, audience, purpose, issues, themes)
  3. Context: do not settle on a Scripture’s meaning by one verse alone
  4. Think about how the Scripture was relevant at the time it was written and how it is relevant today; consider how the Scripture can be applied right now
  5. Use a good study Bible (one that I use is Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible); study Bible annotations are the author’s revealed knowledge of Scripture, that being clear, a good study Bible like the one written by Finis Dake is the compilation of a lifetime of work which resulted in some of the best study notes you will find
  6. Use a concordance to find Scriptures related to a matter of personal importance to you, perhaps something you need God to help you with or a topic you would like more understanding of (i.e. Forgiveness), if you use Dake’s reference Bible, impressive components of a concordance are included. I use Strong’s Concordance which I have recently discovered to be very useful, I will revise this post as I become more familiar with this amazing tool.
  7. Your study of Scripture is not a sprint, it is a marathon, a thorough study is more beneficial than a quick read through; so take the time to thoroughly digest what you are reading
  8. Take notes while reading to record the revelation that God is giving you while you are reading
  9. Read and meditate on God’s word daily; our spirit needs daily nourishment in order to thrive
  10. Always remember that you personally know the Author, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the deep truths of God…God does not reveal His deep truths to outsiders

Happy Bible Reading!

 

 

 

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Are You Prepared?

pexels-photo-70298But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. (Matthew 25:10)

Being prepared is a must in any season. Whether you are preparing for a storm, marriage, college, or to buy a house, you either have your business in order or you are in the process of having it in order because you intend to be ready when the time comes for an event that will affect your life. As words of wisdom or words of warning are shared to emphasize the importance of being prepared for today, likewise, a loving Father, God shares the need for preparedness as it concerns our tomorrow. When I think of people who heed a warning to be prepared and people who procrastinate or show disregard and are as a result left to deal with the consequences of their folly, I think of the ten virgins that Jesus taught about in one of His many parables. These women could not be more distinct. Half of them were wise and the other half were foolish. The bridegroom, who they were awaiting, delayed his arrival for some reason, so they all fell asleep. The wise women ensured that they had oil enough to shine bright at the appointed time. Their display of wisdom is the opposite of the foolish women at such a critical time, lacking oil, and upon awakening to notice of the bridegroom being nearby, they attempted to buy oil at the eleventh hour, but it was too late. As a result of their carelessness, they missed the opportunity to enter into the marriage feast and they were shut out. It is a lot like life itself, when you are prepared, you are ready for any occasion whether it is to receive a blessing or to be one, but when you are unprepared, you are not ready for opportunities that could have otherwise been yours and you are faced with negative consequences that could have been avoided if you would have taken heed. Yet, there is a time to take heed and it is not the eleventh hour. Similarly, Christ’s return is to be prepared for, He has tarried like the bridegroom, but as with the moral of the Parable of Ten Virgins, God advises us to be wise and to watch for Christ’s return in that we continue to be ready, continue to be about the business He’s assigned us to fulfill. The mercy and the grace of God readily available to those who do not know Him, those that find themselves unprepared should heed Love, and not be ignorant to the fact that one day there will not be another day, another hour, another minute, another second to get ready. Opportunities will not always avail themselves. Time is not a commodity. The appointed time is now. If we can prepare for a storm, a successful marriage, a great college experience, to find the perfect house, for this temporary dwelling place, we can exercise wisdom in preparing for the certainty of Christ’s return. Are you prepared?

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A Prayer for Election 2016

pexels-photo-129112Be encouraged this election season and do not worry about tomorrow because God will take care of everything. Be an informed voter and urge your circle to do the same. Vote your choice and leave the rest up to God. Instead of worrying about who will take office, focus on what God considers important like loving Him, loving His people, doing His will for your life, and not giving all your attention to this life, but being concerned primarily with being ready for your eternal home not this temporary world that we are just passing through. When it is all said and done, it will not matter who rules the world, but who ruled your heart.

Here is a sincere prayer that I wrote during quiet time back in July 2016, and it is still relevant today. Recite it when you need a reminder of God’s sovereignty in all things.

Dear Heavenly Father,

In your Word, You said that “when the [uncompromisingly] righteous, are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh (Proverbs 29:2).” Lord, at a time when there is so much peril in the world, we desire a season of rejoicing. Grace us with rejoicing Lord, favor us with the most suitable and capable candidate as the next President of the United States of America for such a time as this. A President whose moral compass “bends toward justice” and whose character while not perfect, is still praiseworthy. Lord, we know that, the only perfect Man that ever walked this earth is Jesus, and He’s not on the ballot, but you remain on the throne. We trust you because you are faithful. We trust you because you are good. We trust you because you do all things well. We trust you because of your unfailing love. We trust you because you established the order and authority that is public office, but even still no one trumps your authority. We trust you because no matter who is in office at the local, state, or national level, you are still ultimately in control. You can turn the very heart of any man for our good (Proverbs 21:1). Thank you Lord for hearing our prayer and for answering us. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Divine Intervention

black-and-white-person-woman-girlHearts are breaking more often these days as news of trouble surfaces locally, nationally, and globally. I know God’s heart breaks over the wickedness of His creation. God neither slumbers nor sleeps so I know He is fully awake when injustices and senseless acts of violence occur of any kind. No matter how much He’s excluded from the solution, God remains the remedy to all of the evil in this world and His principles if adhered to would make a world of difference in our society. One thing is certain, God is not going to intervene in any situation in which He is not welcome. That is why the whole world benefits when God’s people pray and seek His face regularly and earnestly for His divine intervention. Above that, what if we did what is required which is to do right, to love kindness and mercy and to understand that it is not about us to the end that we walk in humility before God (Micah 6:8)? Imagine the difference that would be made if people actually loved their neighbor, actually cared about their welfare, actually treated all men as being created (as they were) equal. There would be no war, hate, bigotry, and all other evils in the way of a harmonious existence would be eradicated. Yet and still, we know in this world Jesus warned us to expect trouble (John 16:33); and we also know that the events of this age are leading up to His much anticipated return. So, as we live, be light, love, pray, and act with wisdom, in our hearts we always return longingly to utter, “Come Lord Jesus,” but with this world as urgently in need of a Savior, I can understand the reason for His delay (2 Peter 3:9).

 

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Ending the Culture of Comparison and Competition

pexels-photo-110440If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it. 1 Corinthians 12:17-18

There is too much at stake to waste time making worthless comparisons and competing against gifts and for gifts we were not given by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8). While comparisons and competitions are happening, a world is dying without Christ. For this reason, it is important to end a culture of comparisons and competitions in the body of Christ. Everyone in the body of Christ was graciously given a spiritual talent, a gift of the Holy Spirit, that He felt you should be divinely endowed with for ministry. How then do you reject something so purposefully given? How do you interrupt God’s work by not using the talent that suits you, your setting, and the season? Understand that we cripple the body when we as members of the church, the body of Christ, refuse to be the part of the body we were assigned and when we seek to exchange our part for an unintended one. It is like putting on a dress that is too small and hoping that despite the fact that it does not fit, that it will be flattering. Similarly, a talent not intended for you will not fit you no matter how hard you try to make it work. When we refuse to use our assigned gift, we undermine God’s work because the body part we represent is lacking fulfillment. Since the outcome of both making comparisons and competition in the kingdom is the weakening of God’s mission for the church, both ideas serve one master well—the enemy. The enemy’s divisive schemes disrupt unity and progress. As women, we can intercept the enemy’s plan by embracing how fearfully and wonderfully we have been made and by ending the culture of comparison and competition through stewarding the gift we have been given to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). Instead of making comparisons and competing, celebrate variety in the use of similar gifts and God’s work being fulfilled through diverse gifts. When we get back to our purpose for existing, to bring glory to God with our lives, we will then receive our gift, stir it up, and use it willingly, offering it up as an act of worship as opposed to questioning what we have been assigned and desiring what someone else has been given. How will you steward your gift and encourage others to do the same?

 

 

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Growing in Grace


But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 grace

Growing in Grace, is the realization that you don’t start living until you are living for Jesus, not accepting him with lip service, but actually allowing God to be Ruler. Allowing your will, what you desire, to be subject to his will. As a child, I used to wonder what God’s will was for my life like it was some hidden treasure, as if it were a secret that I was not privy to. Now, I realize that it has always been at my fingertips within the pages of the Word of God, and that if I were honest with myself, I was not drawing near enough to God (James 4:8). I have always possessed the key to all of the answers, but I did not unlock the door to live the life God desired for me. Once I began to apply God’s Word as opposed to doing things my way I began to see the grace of God upon my life. It is no surprise because his ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:9). Prior to Jesus, I only existed by the Grace of God. I was thriving by the Grace of God. Though I did experience success while I was not committed to Jesus, I was favored, promoted, and recognized, it was meaningless because I was empty, misguided, and was not living abundantly. Now I’m fully living the best life imaginable, the Good Life. Therefore, I can state from experience that until you are living wholeheartedly, passionately for Christ, you are merely existing, and to differ from this belief is to be exactly where I was, blinded by the enemy and as a result, ignorant to the things of God. In my youth, I wavered in part because I viewed Christianity as a religion of rules. I felt as though it was full of restrictions, I was too blind to see at that time that what I considered restrictions were protections by a caring, loving Father. I did not utilize the Holy Spirit to help teach and guide me. I was not growing at all spiritually; I was simply going to church, and trying to follow all the rules. I rarely opened my Bible outside of church, I lacked a prayer life, and I occasionally read devotionals for my age group which made me no different. I had no idea about how rewarding a relationship (not a religion) with Jesus could be. At the height of my youthful, rebellious conduct I did not even want to attend church, for me, it was a forced ritual. I realize in retrospect that my associations only contributed to my rebellion and that my friendships should have been made up of other little lights that would encourage me to live for Christ and grow in Grace (2 Peter 3:18), that could pray with me, and that would hold me accountable. As women of God, the company we keep is crucial to the level of our spiritual growth and development, because bad company has the ability to corrupt everything you stand for (1 Corinthians 15:33). Undoubtedly, I know that God used every experience that I have had leading up to me living solely and unapologetically for him for my ultimate good, and for the good of those I influence. I believe wholeheartedly as my life verse states that, “All things work together for the good of those who love God, who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).” Although I learned many things through experience instead of through listening to wise counsel, God is so good that when I “came to myself” like the Prodigal Son eventually did, I was welcomed back home with open arms by a loving Father who was not only waiting for me, he was expecting me. I found that beyond a warm welcome and restoration, God had given me beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3). All things, even the most painful or regrettable things are made beautiful in his time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). My life experiences have given me a beautiful story and a rich humility. I believe that without my experiences, I would not be the woman I am today. Growing in Grace is about being made and becoming all that you are purposed to be. How have you grown in Grace? Tell your story.

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