Thursday, July 20, 2017

"Wait...I still have more work to do?!?": After the Blessings Arrive...

Okay, so you got your blessing, what’s next?  If you thought your happily ever after would begin the moment God blessed you, allow me to lovingly burst your bubble…

Your work has just started!

I was always aware that my new chapter would set into motion new spiritual work to target and lessons to learn.  And let me tell you, there’s already been so much.  Side Note: If you happen to be in a season of waiting, please enjoy it.  I learned that God uses moments of waiting to also give us rest.

So, I’m just going to jump right into it (it’s been a while and we have to catch up 😊)!

In retrospect (once again), clarity settled and I realized the reason behind everything I had to go through during my last season.  God spends so much time preparing us for blessings for a number of reasons:

1) He wants you to be able to maintain your blessing.  God just doesn’t want to expose us to a brief brush or encounter with our blessing.  He wants us to enjoy it for as long as possible.


Well that goes to the next point-

 2) The blessings aren’t just about us.  God wants to use us so we can bless others.  God always blesses us so abundantly to allow us the opportunity to share it with others; He simply allows us to be the vessel or carrier of these blessings.  Ultimately, God uses us so that our testimonies, our stories, can bless others and encourage them in their own journeys.

Let me be real- the fact that God can take a woman like me, and use me in His plan, is so humbling.  Those around me that know me are even amazed by what’s going on in my life.  And, it’s not that I’m special; there’s nothing so great and special about me that makes me different.  My story truly speaks to the glory and power of God.  Even more awesome- God wants to do the same with you.

3) By preparing us for that blessing, God is also equipping us with the tools and strength needed to face adversity.  You see, because we are the vessels or carriers of God’s blessings, enemies will come and try to attack and counter us.  The last thing the enemy wants to do is let God get the glory.  So, he will attack us in order to manipulate us into giving up or sabotaging our blessings from God. 

Note: I want to repeat what I just said- the enemy will try to attack you so that you give up.  The devil only has as much power as you give him. 

Although we weren’t designed to fear Satan, we aren’t called to underestimate him.  The devil is extremely wily.  He won’t use great and magnificent schemes to fight: 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
~Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

Instead, Satan will use small, deceptive tactics to throw you off.  Maybe it’s a tiny lie here or there, a sprinkle of doubt that could grow, or a statement that appears to be factual, but really grounded in untruth.  Keep in mind, whatever God says will most certainly come to pass, but the devil can manipulate us into delay.

Think of the book of Numbers when the people of Israel were delayed forty (40) years from reaching their Promised Land because of their disbelief (doubt) and complaining/grumbling against God.  Unfortunately, what started as a few murmurs in the camp of Israel eventually grew. 

At one point, there was no time for Israel’s leader, Moses, and head priest, Aaron, to worry about foreign enemies attacking the camp because they were too busy dealing with the very people inside the camp who were putting up the fight!

Sometimes, the devil won’t use strangers to shake us up.  I mean, why should he when he can use the very people around us!  I realized this very concept has been unfolding in my current chapter. 

Okay, let’s back pedal a little.  If you can recall, I’ve shared that God has been working on me in the area of patience.  Although I figured the lesson of patience would play a role in unlocking my blessings (i.e. for starters, publishing my book), I realized that I also needed patience to deal with other things in this new phase. 

My new chapter has brought forth both new people and even new problems with old people into my life and I find myself needing more and more patience in order to interact with these individuals and face these issues.  In addition, from my last chapter, I began to communicate and spend time with God more.  I realize now, developing that habit of engaging with God has helped me in this chapter because I also find myself going to Him about the people and issues in my new chapter.

As a result, I now have this wisdom- and I will emphasize that this wisdom does not come from me, but from God- that allows me to not only handle these new individuals and issues, but also maintain my new blessings.

For example, I’m going to be completely frank: I’m not a business-minded person; I’m a creative person.  You may or may not be aware of the quirky tendencies that come with being a creative.  We creative people tend to be unorganized, scattered, undisciplined, and easily distracted (mind you, this rule only seems to apply outside our time spent creating works of art).  Regardless, we tend to do well with abstract thinking, not numbers or logistics.

 In true testament to the fact that God will always give us the skills we need to handle and maintain our blessings, I have to speak on my newfound ability (and y’all, I even call it a miracle) to manage my new role as a self-published author and business owner.  God’s faithfulness completely overwhelmed me after I began successfully executing decisions that I knew I had never been equipped to make prior to God stepping in! 

After God blessed me with the vision and plan for my upcoming chapter, I couldn’t help but wonder how things were going to unfold.  Although I already knew I wouldn’t be able to complete His assignment on my own, I was still curious how I was going to oversee the task presented before me.

But just like God directed Moses on what to say and do before freeing Israel from Egypt’s captivity, and even as God continued to direct Moses (and later on, Joshua) as Israel was led to their Promised Land, God reminded me (and continues to remind me) that He will provide where He guides.

I just want to be transparent: everything I’m doing right now- from my book to my 9FRUITS ministry and platform- is not a result of my own intelligence or creativity or strength or power….

It’s a result of God’s.

I am simply an example of how loving and merciful and powerful God is.  My new chapter and blessings are purely evidence that there is a God and He is so good!

Although this chapter just started, through mistakes and success, I’ve already learned several lessons.  So, for those who are about to receive your blessings or for those that are still waiting, I would like to share some insight God revealed to me during this process so far:

1)   Be careful what you ask for.  Sometimes, God doesn’t say “Yes” because of His omniscience. He knows exactly what the future would hold if He gave us exactly what we wanted and being jealous for us (i.e. fiercely protective), He answers our prayers differently.  HOWEVER, there may be times when God, still being that loving and knowing parent, will grant us exactly what we want so that we (at times being willful, stubborn children) can see that some of our desires aren’t good for us and we don’t always know what’s best for us in the long run.

2)   You have to put in the work.  I have to reiterate this: there’s nothing so significantly special about me.  I’m a sinner and I’m no better than anyone else.  The only difference I see in this part of my life is that I now choose to be obedient to God.  God is powerful enough to do whatever He wants- and make no mistake about it, God doesn’t need us in order to carry out His will.  He does want us to willingly and passionately take part in what He has designed.  Thus, this requires that we work. 

If we want our blessings, we have to be willing to work with God for them.  God is not our genie- He is our Creator and has complete sovereignty.  He wants to bless us with the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4), but He requires that we put in some of the work too.

3)   Show faith. It’s just not good enough to ask for your blessing.  It’s not even good enough to only work for the blessing; you have to act like you’re getting the blessing.  In other words, you have to show faith that God will keep His promise. 

This was one of the areas the people of Israel struggled with after leaving Egypt.  They were free, but they didn’t act like it.  They complained and resisted God (and Moses and Aaron) because they hadn’t fully embraced that they were truly free.  They struggled with God’s promise that He would deliver them to the Promised Land (which was like the first class/the Bentley’s of all freedom). 

There’s this old adage: Dress for the part you want.  Through this simple lesson, we’re taught to dress for that promotion we want, but furthermore, we’re encouraged to act the part.  Why?  On one hand, keeping this sage advice in mind, it shows our true faith.  The book of Hebrews describes what faith is:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
~Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

There’s a line from the gospel melody, “It’s Not Over,” sung by Karen Clark Sheard that says, “You gotta see it before you see it, or you never will see it!”

We have to speak these blessings into existence as if they’re already here.  And in doing so, we begin to shift the atmosphere around us.  As a true believer of cognitive reframing and positive thinking, I truly believe the first generation of Israel, post Egypt, would’ve received their blessing had they showed faith in God and lived like they were free.

So, if you find yourself waiting on the blessing you asked God to fulfill, ask yourself if you have properly prepared for the blessing, as well as properly showed faith that you will receive it.

4)   Take care of what you already have.  This is one I’ve actively been working on.  Think about it like this: when applying for loans, credit lenders like to have evidence that the applicant is able to handle the loan and its conditions.  One way they check credibility is by the applicant’s prior history with handling other, or similar, loans or financial transactions.

 Why would an investor grant you a loan for a house when you use money so recklessly that you can barely handle the month-to-month expenses of your apartment in a consistent manner?

Guess what- God is like that investor.

How feasible is it to expect God to fulfill your prayer of becoming a leader over a congregation when you can barely minister and love on the few people around you?

How feasible is it to expect God to fulfill your prayer regarding a good and stable marriage when you’re (knowingly) making poor decisions in your dating life?

How feasible is it to expect God to fulfill your prayer for more money and materialistic things when you barely take care of the things you already have?

God simply wants to see that you are able to handle what you already have before He blesses you with more.

More and more, I’m embracing how much God truly and thoroughly wants to bless us; however, if we don’t allow God to properly prepare us, if we refused to have faith, if we take for granted what He has already done, like Israel, we run the risk of not being able to handle those blessings once they come.

On the other hand, for those who have already received your blessing, including me, God wants us to be able to maintain these blessings or He may very well bestow them to someone else.  There’s a reason Joshua led Israel to the Promised Land and not Moses.  Additionally, there’s a reason God took the kingdom of Israel from Saul and gave it to David…. but that’s a whole ‘nother blog 😊

If it is God’s will, I will conclude by saying, “Until next time!”  God bless!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New Chapters (Hint: They Never Look The Way We Envision)

So a lot has happened since my last blog post.  With the last few weeks finally behind me, I can definitely say that I have entered into the new chapter of my life, which God had been preparing me for.

I guess because I had spent the last chapter eagerly anticipating the next, I forgot to consider one thing: 

In order for a new chapter to begin, an old chapter has to end!

Not only that, from my experience that transition between old and new chapters tends to be chaotic- meaning a lot of events typically unfold during the period of transitioning.

As I reflected over these last few weeks, I also rediscovered that chapter beginnings and endings rarely look like beginnings and endings.  In other words, I didn’t immediately register that certain transpiring events would actually marked the ending of my previous chapter, while the events that later followed would mark the beginning of a new chapter.  I also must admit that my new chapter looked NOTHING like I thought it would!

Side Note: God definitely has a sense of humor, but I digress.

Despite the heavy traffic of events- some of them being “game-changers”- I walked away grasping some important lessons.  Care to know what they were?

Okay, well first let me set the stage:

Following the March release of my YA fiction book, MIRRORING EFFECT, I found myself (and my time) being divided between promoting the book and 9Fruits endeavors, and my normal day-to-day tasks (work, volunteer/church participation, exercise, etc).

At one point, things had gotten so hectic at my job that I found my days being stretched even further into the night.  In order to target everything, I resorted to getting up earlier and staying up later.  

Day after day.  

Week after week.

About four weeks ago, nature took its course- my body crashed.  Now as a mental health professional, I’m a firm believer in paying attention to your body as it will always tell you when something’s wrong.    Well, that fateful week, my body had sounded the alarm.

Although I spent two days away from my job to allow my body time to recuperate, I immediately returned to work with full gusto.  And that following week, on Tuesday to be exact, I found myself crying out to God for mercy and relief.  As grateful as I wanted to be regarding my new blessing (book), I knew I couldn’t handle the hours that came with having a full time job and an even fuller vision.

So I asked God to shift some things around for me.

Let me emphasize something I’ve mentioned in the past: when God answers your prayers with a “Yes,” it is an immediate “Yes!”

Fast forward to that Friday (three days later) when I was called into a meeting with my boss who had incredible news to share.

In the meeting my boss had explained that due to some changes, the company would be phasing out the position held by two others and me.  While the exact end date could not be determined, the outcome was clear:

 I was losing my job!

I know, I know…incredible, right?  It really was. 

You see, this wasn’t the first time I had been on the receiving end of some life-changing news.  I was blessed to have so many examples where God changed my path unexpectedly.  During those moments, I knew He only did so when He needed me to head in a new direction.  The change in direction always pertained to my higher purpose and calling, which helped me to remember another fact:

God always provides where He guides. 

He took care of me in the past, so I knew He would do it again.

And so, as I was sitting in that room, facing my boss, and processing the information that had just been disclosed, I couldn’t help but to laugh silently.

I knew God had not only heard my prayer, but His answer confirmed that the time had come for me to walk further into my purpose.  On that day, God closed a chapter in my life and began a new one.  And although the ending and beginning of those chapters did not look like I had envisioned (seriously- who predicts losing a job?!?!), using previous life events as reference points, God blessed me with wisdom to know He was in the midst of it all, working it for my good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
~ Romans 8:28 (KJV)

That night as I prayed, I reaffirmed my trust in Him and His plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11); I asked that He once again provide for me.

By the end of the following week (and I literally mean seven days later), I interviewed for a new position within the company with vastly different (and fewer) hours.  

Five days later, I was offered the position.

Do you want to know what’s so incredible and humbling about that experience?  I ultimately accepted a new position that would allow me to direct the majority of my attention towards my vision and calling.

God had heard my plea for mercy that Tuesday night, and He had answered my prayer in His own way. 

Let’s not forget to acknowledge how quickly He answered.  From beginning (my prayer) to end (His answer), only fifteen days had elapsed.

In roughly two weeks, God had ushered me further into my calling and purpose!  Again, when God says “Yes,” it’s immediate!

So, now that I’m in a new chapter, how does it tie to my old one?

If you can recall in previous entries, I noted that God oftentimes uses different seasons- seasons of storms, droughts, etc- to prepare you for the next season.

In my season of waiting, God wanted me to learn several things.  To name a few: He wanted me to learn patience, discipline, and trust.

The lesson of trust had been tested during my chapter transitions simply because I ultimately had to make a choice to trust God when things looked shaky and unclear.

The importance of discipline and patience also come to focus as the events unfolding in this new chapter have already emphasized the need for both in order to successfully complete them.

Lastly, in my previous season and chapter, God had really pressed in my heart the need to strengthen my relationship with Him.  I realized that God had placed me in a season of waiting so I could draw closer to Him.  He made me wait so I could learn to depend completely on Him and His timing, as well as consciously choose His Will over mine.

Although this new chapter will be filled with new blessings, this chapter will also be marked with new testing.  Again, a new level in Christ attracts a new level of opposition.  In order to successfully overcome those trials and testing, I must be firmly planted in Christ.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.
~Jeremiah 17:7-8

Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught. Your life would be full of thanks to Him.
~Colossians 2:7

As I mentioned earlier, I walked away from my old chapter with several lessons.  If I can end with any encouraging insight:

  1. Remain open-minded when it comes to God’s actual work on your behalf. Putting limitations on yourself and your vision puts limitations on God to work miracles on your behalf.  (Hebrews 11).
  2. Remember, in order for a new chapter to begin, the old chapter has to end.  You cannot catch new blessings when your hands are holding onto old ones (meaning the anointing is gone).
  3. You cannot bring old habits into new situations.  If you can recall the example of training for a 5k race versus training for a 10k race.  You will not be able to endure the increased length and challenge of a 10k race if you continue to train on a 5k level.  What worked previously may not sustain you now.

 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.
~Mark 2:22 
  1. Trust in God always.  New chapters aren’t always marked by glorious and exciting news.  In fact, new stages and beginnings often spring from tumultuous trials and sorrow.
  2. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.  In addition to that fact, know that He will also direct your path, allowing blessings to pour down and even chase you. 
  3. Trust in His timing.  When the time is right, God acts quickly and clearly.  As tempting as it may be to take matters into your own hands (please, please, please, learn from my mistakes), trust that once God says, “Yes,” it will be immediate! 

A little one shall become a thousand, And a small one a strong nation. 
I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.
~Isaiah 60:22 
  1. After you receive His “Yes,” don’t hesitate.  Don’t doubt yourself once God gives you the green light- go get your blessing!

If it is God’s will, I will conclude by saying, “Until next time!”

God bless!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Untitled (Because There Are No Words)

The day after my last blog entry, God began pressing another topic into my heart.  A scripture began looping in my head and at one point it became so overwhelming that I knew I needed to share it. 

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
~John 10:10 (NKJV)

The word “abundantly” also continued to dominate my thoughts.  What does abundantly or abundance mean?  In my opinion, I would define its meaning as “more than” or “in addition to” or “in excess or surplus.”  Basically, to have abundance, is to not only have what you need, but to have so much more, even enough to be a blessing to others. 

Think about the time when Jesus fed five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish.

I just want to stop and marinate on this for a bit.

The disciples only had FIVE loaves of bread and TWO fish.

And after Jesus blessed the food, giving thanks to God, they were able to feed five THOUSAND people.

Not only that, but they had plenty of food left over.  They had a surplus.  They had more than they needed.  They had abundance!

So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
~Matthew 14:20-21

Think about the times when we have prayed and asked God for something.  When He blessed us, did He simply give us the bare minimum? 


When God blesses us, He ALWAYS gives us more than what we can ever ask or think.  Just like Scripture says, God always blesses us in excess:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
~Ephesians 3:20

And so when this topic of abundance came to mind, one question persisted above any other:

If Jesus lived and died so we could live more abundantly, why do we continue to enslave ourselves?

God had first posed this question directly to me in order to challenge my current mindset.  If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know God has been preparing me for my next level of blessings….blessings that would be more than what I could ever ask or imagine.  Blessings that would be in abundance.  In this question, God challenged me to really look at my current level of spiritual maturity.  More specifically, He had challenged my level of trust and faith in Him.

You see, God had shown me a glimpse of the magnitude of my blessings and unfortunately, I had unconsciously gravitated back to fear.  But God didn’t want me going backwards, so He quickly posed that very question:

“My daughter, why do you continue to enslave yourself when I brought you salvation through My Son?”

I had to do some serious self-reflection:

Why did I doubt myself (when I have Jesus working in me)?

Why did I revert back to fear (when God didn’t give me a heart of fear)?

Why did I limit myself (which consequently would limit God’s powers working in me through Jesus)?

Why did I continue to enslave myself- remain confined to the limits of this world- when Jesus freed me thousand of years ago?

SN: God really does know how to ask some deep questions  (in the most gentle and loving way J)!

Where God is taking me, He revealed, among other things, I had to also leave fear behind. 

Fear is never from God.  Enslavement is never from God.  He never dwells in places where those things reside.  And so, if I wanted to dwell where God was… if I wanted to go where God was leading me, I had to leave behind the very things not of God.

After I resolved to do just that, He pushed this question even further into my heart. 

Why do we continue to enslave ourselves when Jesus died so that we could live more abundantly?

While this question does apply to non-believers, I really felt pressured to speak to my brothers and sisters who are in Christ.

We have this precious gift of salvation.  This gift gives us freedom.  This gift has broken the very chains the rulers of this world sought to keep us in.  So why do we struggle to embrace this liberty?  Why do we struggle to really live as if we’re free?

In my opinion, Simon, one of the twelve apostles, provided great examples of living as if he was really free through Jesus. Simon was bold and courageous.  In Matthew 16:13-20, Simon was the first to identify Jesus as the Son of God, resulting in Jesus shifting his name from simply being Simon, meaning “he has heard,” to (Simon) Peter, meaning “stone” or “rock.”  Jesus also revealed that He would build His church upon Peter through Peter’s role in the ministry.

In Matthew 14: 28-29, Peter was also the only one trusting enough to ask Jesus to command him to walk on water.

How freeing is that??? 

To do something that earthly had appeared impossible, such as walking on water.  How incredible is that?

After we accepted Jesus into our lives, God gave us that same power:

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him.  This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
~Ephesians 1:19-20 (NLT)

Here’s the thing, this post isn’t really for baby Christians either- those new to having a relationship with Christ.  This is for experienced Christians- those who have seen God move in their lives over and over and over again.  Those who have witnessed miracles that could only come from God. 

If we know the power of God… if we know we have access to that power source through Jesus Christ, why do we live our lives that indicate otherwise?

Why do we choose- and yes, everything is a choice- to live as if we are powerless?

Jesus was an extraordinary man and His death gave us an extraordinary gift, so why do we choose to live ordinary lives?

Why do we do let fear restrict us from enjoying a life filled with fellowship with God?  A fellowship- might I add- that connects us to the Entity that is without restriction. 

Why do we limit ourselves when our Spiritual Father is without limits?

I want to reference to my last blog entry, Part One of “Follow the Yellow Brick Road…” In reference to where I had discussed possible reasons why God doesn’t say anything, I mentioned one reason might be because God trusted our judgment in making the right decision.

In these situations where we have been blessed with peace from God regarding our decision, why do we wait to act on those decisions? 

A follow up question I have to ask:

What are we waiting for???  Another sign?  A burning bush?  A booming voice?  The Rapture???

Seriously, why the hesitation?

Again, although God first delivered this message to me, I know God put this on my heart to share.  Someone reading this entry is hesitating.  You know what you’re supposed to do.  You know the next step.  God has given you the green light.  But you’re waiting.

Is it a business?

A book?

Some type of lifestyle change?

Or maybe it’s about a job or relocation,

You’re hesitating and waiting. 

Ask yourself, “Why?”

Please know, the longer you wait, the longer you allow the door to be open, you permit the devil to step in.  First, it’s one stinky foot- just a little doubt.  Maybe you’re questioning if you really heard from God. 

If you haven’t already experienced this, let me tell you- the devil is NEVER satisfied with just one foot in the door.  Next, he sets another foot in…soon his whole stinky presence, filled with stinky doubt, has entered.  You’re questioning yourself and your ability.  You question your worthiness.  “Is this really for me?” “Do I deserve this?”  “Can I really do this?”  “What if I fail?”  “What will other people think or say?” 

Sounds familiar?  Trust me, I know from personal experience. This has unfortunately been my life for years now. Please don’t let the enemy get even one foot in.  Don’t give room for doubt or fear.

To whoever this message is for, I implore you- please trust God.  He’s saying, “Now is the time.”

I’ll say it again: “Now is the time!”

Jesus died so we could live more abundantly.  Let go of the shackles.  Let go of the chains.  This battle is a mental one- once we truly embrace our freedom in Christ, once we truly hand over our weaknesses to God, our lives will reflect that freedom.

I do want to go back and address the questions I asked above.  It is natural, and I would even say it’s accurate to doubt our own abilities.  We know our past.  And we know we are limited to do anything on our own.  Please understand that once you give yourself over to Christ, you stop living within your own means.  You stop living on your power and strength.  While we, alone, are limited.  We have Christ who dwells in us and He is anything BUT limited!

If God has put something in your heart, a desire or dream or goal, trust it.  Trust Him.  He will not set you up for failure.

 Remember: God created you, so if the Creator thinks you’re worthy, guess what- you’re worthy!

There’s only one “but” though- and this is a big BUT….

You. Have. To. Step. Out. On. Faith.

Faith without works is dead (James 2:17).

Although Jesus can command for the impossible to happen, we have to be like Peter and be willing to step out of the boat.

*** I do want to take a moment to speak on a different, but equally important topic that has also been on my heart ***

If you are new to this fellowship with Christ or if you are contemplating a relationship with Christ, I would like to first say, “Welcome!” 😀

Earlier, I was spending time with God and I became so happy because I absolutely love our moments together.  All of a sudden, I grew emotional because I had this sudden urge to share that happiness with others.  I wanted to share my Father with you because He really is that wonderful!

Although I can sit and talk about how amazing God is until I’m out of breath and energy, I don’t want you to take my faith and make it yours.  My description of God will never do Him justice, so I encourage you not to listen to me.  Don’t take my word on how good God is.  Instead, I implore you…I beg you to please just try Him yourself.

The deeper I get into my relationship with God, the more He reveals Himself to me, and the more I fall in love with Him.

Through God, I’ve become so full, so abundantly overwhelmed with joy and I truly want everyone to have that same joy too.  I want everyone to experience that depth of happiness and love.  I truly feel everyone is worthy of having this precious relationship.

In order to do that, you can’t take your friend’s or spouse’s or mother’s or father’s faith and make it yours.  You gotta have faith of your own.  You have to have a relationship with Christ that you can call your own.

Can I share something?

It’s not a coincidence that you’re reading this blog right now.  It’s not by accident that you’ve been thinking about having a relationship with Christ either.  God put that desire in your heart.  His children know His voice and follow it (John 10:27).

God wants a relationship with you because He loves you so much.  But the choice is yours.

 I implore you, now is the time.

Please seek Him.  It doesn’t matter where you are right now (God will surely come to you)!  You don’t even have to say it out loud right now.  Just in your heart, acknowledge that you want to have a relationship with God. 

Ask Christ Jesus to come into your heart; embrace Jesus as your Lord and Savior and welcome His blessed salvation.

Jesus died so you can live more abundantly.  What are you waiting for? 

The time is now!

If it is God’s will, I will conclude by saying, “Until next time!”

God bless!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Follow the Yellow Brick Road.... Part II

Part Two: Using Discernment When You Don’t Sense God

Now let’s say you’re experiencing one of the reasons I’ve just mentioned in Part One.  Or maybe it’s something else.  Regardless of the reason, though, you can’t sense God and need discernment.  You need help with making decisions- deciding on a new job, a life partner, relocation, removing from/allowing people in your life, etc.  How do you come to a decision?  How do you discern when you don’t sense God (His Direction)?

Now I will be transparent- I’m literally going through this part right as I speak (or type J) and I’m still learning a lot!  The last couple of days have been interesting to say the least…

I’ve found these moments to be extremely challenging.  In fact, it’s usually during these moments I seriously joke with God about being a burning bush (think Moses). 

Ha!  My conversations usually go something like this: “Hey Abba, (laughing) you know I’m just kidding when I say this- but if you really want to do this, I wouldn’t stop you- can you please just tell me what to do.  Like, just print me out an instruction list/manual/”How to Navigate Life” book.  You know, just this one time????”

Or during my more direct conversations:

“God, I really need you to just give me a sign that tells me what I should do about (fill in blank).”

I’m sure our lives would be so much easier if we had burning bushes, gigantic looming clouds, or a booming voice that appears from above to give us life’s answers.  That would be nice, right?

 Well for starters, we wouldn’t mature if those things continually happened for us AND that’s not how God rolls.  That’s not how He designed us to live through the new covenant through Jesus.  God gives us free will.  We’re free to make decisions because He wants us to be free to choose to love Him.  To live for and serve Him is left entirely up to us.

From my personal experience, there are times when God doesn’t say anything because:

1.   He wants me to wait.  During these moments I usually experience a sense of anxiety whenever I attempt to move before the right time.  My desire to act feels rushed as if even internally, I sense my timing isn’t aligned with God’s.  If I do decide to continue, the outcome is undesirable and I create a bigger mess.

      2.  He says, “No.”  Whenever I attempt to move forward during these moments, I usually experience a heavy state of conviction (not punitive, just disciplinary).  My desire to act doesn’t even feel right.  If I do decide to continue, I get no joy from them.  Additionally, I always- I do mean always swiftly receive a negative consequence (it’s like God is saying, “Yeah I saw that and you know you were wrong!”)

      3.   He’s already given me the answer.  Okay, I’m not ashamed to admit that I STRUGGLE with this frequently!  Like, how many burning bushes do I need to see before I know it’s from God???  Hahaha!  Don’t judge me- I’m a work in progress!

      4.   He knows I will make the right decision.  There are times when we don’t hear from God regarding a decision because He knows we will do right by Him (think of Job again).  When we have developed and matured in our character, when we know to immediately go to Scripture and the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment about that decision, God will allow us to make it without godly intervention. 

Again, think about that nurturing parent who only intervenes when his child is in danger.   I truly believe God wants us to use our free will in fellowship with Him.  I believe like a loving parent, He delights in watching us learn, develop, and live our lives (in godly righteousness, of course).

So let’s say you don’t hear from God because He knows you will make the right decision.  How do you use spiritual discernment within free will?  How do you decide on the path to take? 

Well, some things I’ve learned to do that help the process:

1.   Pray and fast.  While we may not get a burning bush, we do have the Holy Spirit who serves to guide us and give us wisdom.  Seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit- while fasting to help remove any earthly or carnal barriers- can help to reach a decision.

2.  Talk to God. Even though you may not be able to sense God, you know you can still talk to Him!  While talking doesn’t necessarily guarantee an answer, it connects you to God, which I personally feel is even more important because you’re connecting yourself to the “Powerhouse” Himself.  And through these interactions, you may find yourself coming to a decision.

For example, have you ever just talked (even vented) to your best friend and your friend simply sat there and listened?  And as the conversation continued, with you tossing out ideas, you felt more secure and confident about what you should do? 

Well, 70% of the time, I’m that person in those types of conversations.  Oftentimes I’m not seeking advice from my friends when I go to them; I’m seeking a listening ear.

Spiritually though, I find whenever I just talk to God, I sense in my gut a direction I should go in.  As I ponder over decisions, I may be filled with peace- which Scripture states peace comes from God:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:7

There are times, however, when I talk to God about certain decisions I’m contemplating and I’m filled with disciplinary conviction:

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
~John 16:13

3.  Spiritually challenge your decisions.  Ask yourself the following questions:

-“Would this decision bring me closer to or further from God?”   God wants us with Him.  In all that we do, we should strive to become more intimate with God.

 - "Does this decision glorify God?”  In contrast to dishonor.  God rightfully deserves all the glory!  And He should get it!  Does this decision promote you or earthly things over God?  Who would get the recognition?  You or God? 

- "Is my decision led by the Holy Spirit or by carnal/fleshly desire?” 

Galatians 5:19-21 speaks of the works of the flesh:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentious, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:22-23 speaks of the fruits of the Holy Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.

  - “Can my decision be supported by scripture?”  This is where prayer comes in.  Anyone can     interpret the bible, but that doesn’t mean the interpretation is correct.  We are called to rightly divide the word of truth (Timothy 2:15).

After you have asked yourself these questions (or any questions the Holy Spirit imparts on you), pray to God and make your decision.

During these last few weeks I’ve really had to make some tough decisions after I didn’t get an answer from God.  And it was only after I made the decisions that I heard a response from God- I felt peace!  While God had been quiet before I made the decisions, He immediately filled me with peace afterward as confirmation that He was okay with my decisions.

So, if you find yourself lost or uncertain, first seek godly counsel and then make a move.  Jesus died so we could live more abundantly (free from carnal and earthly slavery and oppression), but we must choose to live, which means there may be times that we must make decisions and trust that God will always be present with us.  He may also intervene whenever and however in order to protect us from danger (either as a result of our decisions or other influences).  SN: God always gives a warning before destruction.

We must practice having secured attachment in our relationship with God.  We must learn to step out on faith in order to move toward our final destination, which is our home in heaven.

Think about it like this- if Dorothy never ventured outside her house after the tornado, she would’ve never found her way back home J

If it is God’s will, I will conclude by saying, “Until next time!”

God bless!