Hills & Valleys

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23 NASB)

The valley of the shadow of death.  What does that valley look like for you?  It could be the sin you’re struggling with, the death or illness of a loved one, a wayward child, or maybe it’s that situation you’re faced with where all you can do is fall on your knees and cry out to God.  Fear no evil.  Are you fearful of what the outcome of your valley will be?  If you are perhaps you need to take a step back and ask yourself, “Have I really given this situation over to God?” It may be that you’re holding on to that situation or circumstance and haven’t truly released it to the Lord.  As long as we have our hands on a situation trying to control the outcome we bind the hands of God to be able to do His work.  Release it to the Lord and watch what happens. For You are with Me.  In the valleys God is there.  On the mountain tops God is there.  If you’re not feeling His presence in the season you find yourself in dig deeper into the Word and in worship.  God never leaves us or forsakes us.  The sad truth is that sometimes when the going gets tough we leave and forsake God!  Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  Hallelujah that we serve a God who cares for us beyond what we could ever conceive or imagine!!!  He is your comfort no matter where you are at in your walk.  Let us seek Him first in every situation and circumstance for He is a jealous God.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  Though the enemy’s goal is to take you and your family out you DO NOT cower in fear because of the fiery darts that are being thrown at you!  No, you take authority of whatever is assailing you, your family, your church and tell satan to BACK HIMSELF UP!  The truth is sometimes we too easily forget that the very same authority and power that lives in Jesus Christ and gave Him the grace to be able to endure death upon a cross for our sins LIVES IN US.  When the storms of life assail your dominion put on the full armor of God and fight!!!  2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (ESV).”  We have the power of Christ living in us.  Let’s use it!  You have anointed my head with oil.  God has called you to the season you’re in.  Personally, I struggle with some of the places He has me but I rest in the fact that God will never take me where His grace will not sustain me.  That’s true for all Christians.  The Lord Jesus Christ has anointed each of us to be where we work, to serve where we serve, to worship where we worship and to reach those He has placed in our lives.  We are anointed to do His works for the furtherance of His Kingdom.  My cup overflows.  So often we forget how blessed that we are.  I’m guilty of this as much as the next person at times, but the truth is when we neglect to acknowledge how much God has blessed us with we aren’t exhibiting what I like to call an “attitude of gratitude”.  Let us be intentional (myself included) about stopping and thanking the Lord for what He gives us from the breath in our lungs to the shoes that cover the soles of our feet to the fact that God has redeemed each of us.  We have so much to be thankful for and in the moments where we feel as though our cup is truly overflowing with joy and the goodness of the Holy Spirit let us be intentional about stopping and saying “Thank you, God.”  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.  Oh Lord let that be our prayer, that goodness and lovingkindess will take residence in us all the days of our life.  Let us all remember to extend to others the same grace and mercy that you extend to each of us every day.  And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”  Let us never get tired of doing good or what is right.  There are things God has called us to for which we will not see the harvest for on this Earth.  We won’t know the full impact of the faithfulness we cultivate until we are in Heaven.  Do not be discouraged if you do not see the fruits of your labor.  No matter what things look like in the natural our call as Christians is to be an open vessel for the Lord to do His work in us and through us.  Dwell where God has you and He will bless your faithfulness. 

Dry But Not Dead

Dry bones.  They may look dead when we gaze upon them with our natural eyes, but what potential lies within them?  Dry bones in our lives could look like a prodigal child, an illness, a broken relationship, a marriage in need of restoration or any number of other situations. Ezekiel 37 speaks to dry bone situations.

Ezekiel 37:4 – Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’ ”  A second time God commands Ezekiel to prophesy over the dry bones in Ezekiel 37:9 which reads…Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’ ”

When Ezekiel looked at that Valley of Dry Bones there was nothing but what appeared to be death before him, but despite what he saw with his natural eyes he was obedient each time God told him to prophesy over the dry bones.

To prophesy means to utter by or as if by divine inspiration; to predict with assurance; to speak as if divinely inspired; to give instruction in religious matters.  What are you prophesying over your dry bones situation?  Are you speaking life or death? Are you being obedient to deal with that situation the way God told you to and believing with faith that the situation can change, or
are you merely going through the motions of obedience?  Obedience
without faith is going through the motions.  Let’s be faith filled,
obedient life speakers!

Love & Forgive Like Jesus

Do we react with love whenever someone doesn’t react the way we expect them to? When we are mocked, ridiculed, and rejected do we still show the unwavering love of Christ to the very people who have hurt us so deeply? How many times have we grieved the Lord? Yet every single time we fall short He is there with outstretched arms telling us how much He loves us and imploring us to come closer to Him. Do we have outstretched arms ready to receive the lost and the hurting, or is that just lip service in our lives? No matter how much someone has hurt us we must always love them as Jesus loves us. And just as the Lord extends unabounding grace to each and every one of us each day we too must extend grace to those who hurt us.

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We can get over how that person wounded us because the power of the Holy Spirit lives inside of us. Don’t devalue the magnanimous power that dwells in you by saying thinks like, “I could never forgive them for what they said or did,” or justify your unforgiveness by saying things like, “But you don’t understand. You don’t know what they did to me.” What a shame it would be to stand before the Lord one day and have to say “I just couldn’t forgive them the way you forgave me.” Forgive! It’s not worth the price you will have to pay.

When You Don’t Understand God’s Will

Have you ever been in a place where you knew you were in God’s will, but what His will was seemed to make no sense in the natural?  This is my current season.

Back at the end of August I reached a fork in the road.  A decision had to be made and when my Boaz & I went to the Lord in prayer He said my season with the job I was at was done.  In the natural leaving my job made absolutely no sense.  We needed that income.  How could I leave?  Despite the fact that I didn’t understand what God was doing I was obedient.  Since then He’s had me studying His word more, working on launching an online business, self publishing a book and writing.  All of that sounds grand, and it has been fun but nothing He has called me to in this season is providing an income…yet.

Being where He has me has caused my faith to increase and praying and bringing me and my family’s needs before the Father has taken on a whole new meaning.  I can tell you that perspective matters when you don’t understand God’s will.  I’ve had to be very intentional about keeping my eyes fixed on Him and Him alone.

So what do we do when we don’t understand His will?

1)  Trust Him.  Trust that God has you and your family in the palm of His hands.  Trust that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.

2)  Pray often.  Cast your cares upon the Father.  Make your requests and needs known to Him.  He knows everything already, but He loves to hear the sound of your voice.

3)  Stay in His will.  God’s will is not always a comfortable place to be, because often times it goes against our flesh or what makes sense in the natural.  Fight your flesh’s urge to take control.  Let go and let God.

sea-sunset-bird-flying-jpg-846x529_q85_box-013913861005_crop_detailMatthew 6:25-34 (ESV): 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,and all these things will be added to you.  34Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

 

Proofreading, Designing & Finalizing, Oh My!

woman-legs-walking-on-beach-with-the-sea-water_nznnikave__m0000My days lately have been filled with designing the cover of my first book and making final preparations to self publish a 31-day devotional for single mothers that God has birth through me over the last two years.  As I was working on designing the book cover earlier this week I couldn’t help but think, “Is this real life?”  Am I really going to be putting myself out into world in such a vulnerable way?  I must confess this season of my life is both exciting and slightly scary.  You see I’ve always been content to be in the background serving at my local church.  Yet, despite the fact that the background is my comfort zone, the longer I walk down the ancient path with God the more He is calling me out.

Out to do things I never asked for.

Out to do that which I sometimes feel unqualified for.

Out to do things that make me have to cling to the Holy Spirit more and more.

Out of my comfort zone!

Is the Lord calling you out?  Be obedient and step out in faith trusting that where He guides He most assuredly does provide, and oh how He provides!