Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekly Devotional: God helps you Believe

God helps you Believe

A year and months had passed and yet my prayer list is the same. One morning, I woke up and decided I wanted to please God to gain his attention. God seemed to always reward me for pleasing him. Longing to see God manifest and intervene once again in my life I prayed, "How can I please you?”
Then I waited for an answer, hoping to hear God. But I heard nothing. Dejected I said to myself, I tried. Before going back to sleep, I decided to read the bible and at least show God I was serious. I began reading Hebrews casually until, this scripture woke me up.

Hebrews 10:37-39
37 For in just a little while the Coming One will come and not delay.
38 And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”

This scripture made me repent immediately, because I had lost my faith. The reason I was seeking to please God that morning was to avoid confronting that issue which needed faith. I didn't want to keep praying, keep believing over the same prayer list, nothing seemed to be availing. 

But I was refilled in faith that morning and prayed over my same prayer list. Except, this time I prayed with a different confidence and different faith. My journey with God hasn’t been that long; I consider it four years now. In those four years, it has been a journey and in that journey God has been faithful to me. So there will be times when I’m wearied in faith, but as long as I stay connected to God he will restore my faith. God will help you believe. This story is an example of that. I wanted to know how I could please God. The answer was keep believing in him, that pleases him.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

GUEST BLOGGER FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH: Faith is not believing that GOD can but knowing that HE will

            Many of you may not know me well enough to know that doing this is a big step for me. Believe it or not behind that big personality is a girl who has a hard time stepping out and doing things that are out of my comfort zone, so I’m very appreciative for being asked to do this because it presents me with a challenge that will lead to growth.

When the time came for me to begin writing, I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted to write about. I prayed about it, asked God what it was that He wanted me to say, what He wanted me to tell. It was then that I heard His voice saying, “tell a story”.

There was once a woman who was married at a young age. After a year and a half of marriage she gave birth to her first child. Despite any fears that she had, she continuously lifted up her unborn child in prayer, always praying that he/she would be born healthy, happy and thriving. When her child was born she was ecstatic, her little girl was finally here, but shortly afterwards it was then that she learned that there was a problem. Her child was born with a birth defect, a defect that would change her life forever. She was born with one leg shorter than the other, the top of her right big toe touched the top of her left knee, and she was also missing a bone in her leg. The mother, however, never let her child’s anomaly surmount the love she had for her. That mother instantly became very protective over her child. She, as well, became determined to find answers to what was going on with her child. At weeks old, she, along with her husband took her child to DuPont Hospital in Delaware. After a series of x-rays, it was time to meet the doctor. The doctor came in, took one short look at the x-rays and uttered one word: AMPUTATION. When the parents asked why, the doctor simply said that that was the only answer, for the child would never be able to run, walk, ride a bike, let alone crawl unless her leg was amputated. The parents refused and left. When they returned home, the mother immediately dropped to her knees and prayed. She prayed for guidance, she prayed for strength. Shortly after, through the suggestion of a family friend, the mother was referred to a doctor at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Before the appointment, the mother began to pray again. Once at the appointment the doctor said he couldn’t help her child, but he did know of another doctor who resided in Maryland that dealt with cases such as her daughter’s. Without hesitation, the parents made an appointment and drove to Maryland, praying the whole way there that they would finally receive answers. After reviewing the x-rays, the doctor walked into the room, looked at the parents and says, “God has blessed you with this child for a reason. God also sent you here for a reason and I will do everything in my power to help give your daughter as normal of a life as I possibly can”. It was then the mother realized that her prayers had been answered. God heard her prayers. Even though she sometimes felt that He wasn’t listening, even though she sometimes questioned Him, He had always been there, He had always been listening. It was then that she made a vow that she would teach her child the love of God, instill the idea that He will always be there, He will never give you more than you can bear. She from then on taught her child to trust in God for “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deuteronomy 31:8)”.
The child in the story was me. I went on to prove those doctors wrong. I crawled, learned to walk on my own and was even on the rowing team in high school. Like I said above, my mom instilled in me the beliefs that I carry with me today. She always reminded me that God will always be and has always been with me. I always tell people that I wouldn’t be the person that I am and where I am in my life today without Him. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13)”.
My relationship with God hasn’t always been a strong one however. There was a time in my life when I found myself questioning my faith in Him. In high school I suffered from a serious bought of depression. Things in my life weren’t going well. After seeking some help I thought things were better. I graduated high school and was in college. If anyone has dealt with depression, you know that you can experience a series of ups and downs over time. The spring semester my freshman year in college I found myself facing my depression once more. I constantly questioned who I could turn to, when the answer was there all along. Sadly, I stopped praying, stopped turning to the one I could count on most. How could I pray when everything in my life seems to be falling apart? How could I pray if I keep praying for these things to better and they just keep getting worse? How could I pray if I keep dealing with depression? I prayed for it to never come back, but it still did. At times God would try to remind me that all I needed to do was trust and believe. He would try to bring me back to Him but I would ignore. I always believed that I could handle it on my own. "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6)”.  I never fully walked away though. I couldn’t find it within me to do that. Even though I strayed away from Him somewhat, God never left me and never gave up on me just like He promised. He still had a hold on my heart and I soon found myself back on my walk with God. Immediately I saw growth. I started seeking His face a little more. I was eager to read the word. I strived and longed to be more like Him.
Recently I have been faced with a few medical scares. I found myself dealing with heart issues, tumor scares, etc. I knew the only thing I could do in this situation in pray, it’s been instilled in me since day one. Sadly, it took for these scares for me to realize that I can’t just pray and not put all of my faith in God. No, I have to believe that He will do it. Just as my mom had to when I was born. I gave it all to Him. I put all of my faith in Him and all things worked in my favor. Every test that I had to go through so far have come back negative.
With that being said. Let me be an example to you all. I was born with a birth defect, faced with possible amputation. My parents could have given up and given in but they didn’t. They lifted me up in prayer and believed…knew that God would answer their prayers. Remember, no matter what you are going through don’t doubt, don’t worry, and turn to God. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 6-7)

When you pray, have faith and know He will answer.
God bless


Monday, March 17, 2014

Weekly Devotional: God's Promises

What has God promised you? What dream has God placed in your heart? Does it seem impossible or far fetched? Do you feel like there is no way it can happen or that you made too many mistakes and there are just too many obstacles in the way.  Don’t let these negative thoughts or feelings get in your way of claiming what God has for you. There are tons of examples of overcoming insurmountable odds and receiving God’s promises by believing in faith and obeying his word.

God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations and he and Sarah would have a child. They were both very old, Abraham almost 100, so in his mind there is NO WAY they could have a child. But with God all things are possible and if God made the promise it will come to pass. Abraham and Sarah had a son named Isaac.

God promised David that his descendants would always be on the throne and that he would have a lasting dynasty. Talk about seeming impossible, at the time David was merely a shepherd boy tending his father’s sheep, no royal bone in his body. He became king.

Joseph was able to interpret dreams and he had a dream he would one day rule over his family and they would bow down to him. His brothers weren’t too fond of that dream, so they sold Joseph and told their father he died. Joseph was sold into slavery to Potiphar, then put in jail for a crime he didn't commit. Circumstances do not get much more depressing than that. But Joseph believed in the dream the Lord placed in him. He eventually was released from prison and rose to 2nd in command to the Pharaoh.

Do not let the enemy discourage you. If God gave you a promise, no matter how bleak your situation may look, claim it and believe in faith it will come to pass. Continue to praise him and give him the glory for he is worthy. 


Sunday, March 16, 2014

GUEST BLOGGER FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY: Getting Closer to God- Increasing My Territory

Wow! Asked to be a guest blogger – not only is it a compliment but it is a blessing!!! I love speaking on my testimonies. Through lifes ups and downs, ins and outs, its always good to reflect on what God has done for, to me, and continues to grow in me! I was interested in speaking on something I feel passionate about… increasing my territory. It reminds me of the song by Israel and New Breed “no limits.. no boundaries.. I see increase all around me… stretch forth, break forth… release me… enlarge my territory”. To increase ones knowledge and spiritual connection with God is a wonderful life experience – it is a journey – that NEVER ends.. and once you start  it you see life in a whole new world, in ways brand new.
I have always had a relationship with God – but I must admit – in the past two to three years the relationship has gone into a deeper love – something intangible. I have truly felt what it feels to be in love with someone… deeply in love, drowning in a spiritual relationship that I do not want to get out of. It is like I yearn Him. I yearn God – I want Him to have all of me… I want to be soaked in His spirit. Crazy feeling… that I love.
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.       I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands.                                                                                   
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You.” (Psalm 63:1-5 NIV)
 In my generation of young adults it has become harder. It is so challenging in the world we live in. Between everyday life, it has become a challenge in relating to others – unless they can relate to me on a spiritual level. The closer I got/am getting to God, I find it difficult to keep on to old relationships, and even at times to find new ones. There were relationships in my life I knew were toxic to my spiritual health – but I tried to hold on. For the sake of MY happiness (my flesh satisfaction) – and not for the sake of what spiritual influence it had. But as I prayed on it – I prayed for no boundaries for my relationship with God – for increasing. As I prayed on it I watched as changes took place around me. Things no longer entertained me – I no longer received satisfaction of living life in ways that are satisfying the flesh. At first it was scary. I had to ask myself, why aren’t these things entertaining me anymore? Why are these conversations that were so great so lifeless and dull?
It is because God wants to increase me. He wants me to be His worker on a fulltime basis. I cannot direct where my life is going or what is next – I have to focus on my relationship with God. And then I wondered how do I do that? How do I increase a relationship with the God that I already know?
READ THE WORD – I have to acknowledge my weaknesses. One being not fully indulging myself into the bible. I knew that it was the one way to hear Gods word – to read it. But I feared it. I did not UNDERSTAND it. So what did I do? Started going to bible study. While also enrolling in a at home bible study where I receive one on one study sessions on His word. I realized I couldn’t do it alone. Sometimes we think increasing our relationship with God is something we can do by ourselves. But it is not always like that. The support system – the spiritual team around you – is in your life for a reason. To encourage you – feed your spiritual growth together. I couldn’t do this alone. I tried and I failed. Now I have friends who send me text messages randomly – of scriptures – or emails – or inviting me to their churches or bible studies. It helps. It keeps me FOCUSED. I needed help from Gods workers here on earth. And what a blessing it has been.
PRAY PRAY PRAY – TALK TO HIM – Yes, I pray at night. A long and lengthy prayer. But guess what? Prayer has no time. So many times I am at work, in a situation where I just have to close my eyes and pray – even for 30 seconds.  Sometimes it’s the little things – a phone call, a text, “viewing something” on a social network – that can turn your emotions upside down. I have learned to pray and talk to Him – no matter the time location or situation. Trust me – a 10 second prayer can refresh you in ways no advice from a friend or family member can.
And lastly – I SURRENDER ALL – I have to give it all to Him. I cannot question Gods actions in my life. In order to expand – to grow – to fulfill my relationship with Christ I must allow Him to take complete control. When it comes to doubting myself, when it comes to insecurities, stagnant friendships, the hardships in dating and finding a lifelong partner, the doubts in my career, the influence of society, the lack in confidence, the answers that are not right in my face, the challenge of walking by faith and not sight – all that I have to give to HIM. I can’t do it alone. I am WEAK, I have understood and accepted it. I am weak I need saving and I need strength. That’s where my soul comes in – my soul brings me to God. And as I get closer to Him I must say this has been the greatest times of my life. He is mine and I am His!
“For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:7-8 NIV)
Everyday I pray that I continue to grow closer and closer to my King. Because without Him, I am NOTHING. “I see increase all around me” J
“As a prisoner for the Lord then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1 NIV)


Monday, March 10, 2014

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL: There is No Need to Worry- God is in Control

Webster's, definition of worry is, "to think about problems or fears : to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen." Worry causes stress, panic attacks, and can lead to depression. The adverse effects of worrying can take years off of one's life. With such harsh effects why do so many people take part in worrying? God has given us the promise that he will take care of ALL OF OUR NEEDS. As a result, of this promise we can live a life free from worry.

During stressful situations and in times when circumstances were out of my control I use to worry. I would become agitated, frustrated, upset, and rude. On some of the worse situations I can remember my heart racing to the point I would have to take deep breaths in order to calm myself down. Now when faced with challenges I give my burdens to God.  He has enabled me to cast my cares upon him. He has taken my worries away.  When the feeling of worry creeps up I remember that God is in control.  God's Got It!

Matthew 6:25-34 is God's promise to take care of our needs. This promise allows us to live a worry free life.  If you are someone who worries  I encourage you to read the verses below and let God take control of your life. 
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Monday, March 3, 2014

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL: Cocky Faith Vs. Confident Faith

I have found that living for God is the essence of FAITH. According to Hebrews 11:1, "What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see." Every night that I go to sleep I have FAITH that God will wake me up in the morning. Every time I stay up late and sacrifice countless hours to my studies I have FAITH that all of my hard work will someday pay off. Whenever I am talking to someone and tell them that I'll see them later, I have FAITH that God will allow me to do just that! Why do I have FAITH that all of these things will happen? I can't think of anything else, besides that I simply have FAITH in God. I have FAITH in his power. I have FAITH in his love. I have FAITH in his blessings. I have FAITH in his protection. I have FAITH in his presence. And most of all, I have FAITH in his existence. 

God has been dealing with me regarding the topic of FAITH and he has used those around me to help unravel this topic for me in my life. I once read a quote by Lauryn Hill that said that FAITH is setting your alarm clock every night. Although I remember seeing this quote years ago as a little girl, I found it so profound that it has stuck with me years later. This quote reminds me that every single thing we do....we exhibit some glimpse of FAITH. We set alarm clocks, we plan trips in advance, we reserve future dates, we essentially plan our entire lives down to even the most minute details. Why? Because we have FAITH. FAITH is hope! I recently had a conversation with four of my friends who have become like sisters to me since we all met in college. We were all reminiscing about our lives and all of the different paths we are now taking (all positive!). I told them that I remember planning my life out and at 25 years old I was supposed to be married, have my dream house, and expecting twins. Even as I voice my former plans I laugh hysterically lol. The thought scares me because that would mean this would all be occurring next year (YIKES!). I don't even think I have the patience for twins, I feel like I'm too young for marriage (unless the man that God created for me finds me because we all know I'm not chasing any man), I don't even have a job that will be able to even finance my dream house, I'm still in school drowning in debt, and I have no prospective husband lol! My dreams back then were all founded on FAITH -- HOPE. That isn't to say that my dreams won't come to pass, it just means that if I want them to happen perfectly, and according to God's plan, I have to keep my FAITH and be patient. And quite frankly I'm willing to wait.

Since it is apparent that we all exhibit some form of FAITH, my concern is what kind of FAITH we are exhibiting because that reveals where our FAITH actually lies. 

Have you ever met a "cocky" person? Websters defines "cocky" as conceited or arrogant especially in a bold or impudent way; egotistical; boastful. If you're like most people then you canNOT stand a cocky person. They are a complete turn off (although we still love them as Christ loves us) and they're probably hard to be around. Cocky people often feel like they're perfect the way they are and often don't desire any criticism or self-reflection. Cocky people evaluate themselves. 

Is your FAITH cocky? Do you believe that God will answer your prayers even though you barely go before him? Do you only go to God for things when you have a need because you know that God has a perfect track record and hasn't failed you? Have you gotten so accustomed to God's blessings that you have stopped seeking him?

I can admit that I once exhibited cocky FAITH. This was the FAITH that allowed me to go out clubbing before church or even before exams because I just knew God was going to bless me and/or give me that A that I clearly didn't earn. This was the FAITH that allowed me to celebrate a friend's birthday at a strip club the night before my LSAT exam. This was the same FAITH that told me that I would go to law school without even applying. My God was just that good in my mind. I can go on for days about my cocky FAITH and my avoidable problems. When I was cocky in my FAITH I felt stagnant in my growth. I wasn't happy because things weren't going as planned. This was the same stubborn FAITH that would prevent me from going to the altar because I just felt like I didn't need to go. I literally kept hitting dead ends because I stopped seeking the desires of God and made my life about me (as Jael stated last week). It was everything that "I" wanted and the only time that God became relevant was when I had a need that I personally couldn't meet. The truth is, at that stage in my life, if I could've satisfied or met that need I would have. Why? Because I was so cocky in MY FAITH.

The line was blurred for me. When we have exhibit cocky FAITH we're not necessarily having FAITH in God, I think it's more like we have FAITH in our abilities in the world. The cockier your FAITH, the further away from God you become because your goal is self-control and self-satisfaction. Cocky FAITH will have you resorting back to your old ways believing that you will be able to come back to God once you have enjoyed the "perks" of the world. The truth is, not everyone returns back to the will of God after they've been entertained by the world. Cocky FAITH will also have you walking around saying that "Only God can judge me" only to forget that one day God will actually judge you. The Bible states, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18). Don't be so prideful and boastful in your FAITH that you blur the line between your abilities and God's abilities. God honors the believer that works, not the one who sits back and expects everything. You want something? Seek God. You can't expect to be on time for your blessings if you don't set that alarm clock. Remember, FAITH without works is dead (James 2:17).

Have you ever met a confident person? What about that one person who just exudes confidence in everything that they do? I find it that I'm easily attracted to confident people. They're convincing. They're captivating. They know their limits. It seems as if they are always learning and growing. They are always humble. They know exactly who they are and because of that they're easily respected. That's exactly what my FAITH mirrors! I have confident FAITH!

My FAITH understands where I fall short and where God surpasses. My FAITH understands that all of the glory is the Lord's. My FAITH understands that when this world is over, God's word will remain. My FAITH understands that I am nothing without God and I am perfectly okay with that. My FAITH constantly seeks him because I know that I don't have the answers. The Bible states, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (Psalms 9:10). Lord, I seek you because of who you are and who I am not. My FAITH tells me that as long as my heart remains fixed on you, that everything will fall into place. 

As I grow closer to God I begin to understand the strength of
my FAITH. My FAITH tells me that seeing is NOT believing. Instead, My FAITH believing is seeing, because when I apply my confident FAITH to my situations, my FAITH in GOD can turn any situation around. I don't care what my situation looks like, because according to my confident FAITH, "we walk by FAITH not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). My FAITH speaks over my situations according to how I want them to turn out. My FAITH is also submissive to the will of God. I have learned that you cannot run from the will of God. What God says goes so the fight is useless.

I recently met someone that I have been dying to meet. I remember researching somewhat everyday people that I wanted to meet because I was intrigued by their success stories and also found through their interviews that they have always given thanks to God for their blessings. Well I met this one lady who is extremely successful. I told myself I was going to meet her and it happened (My confident FAITH did that)! As we were talking our conversation immediately shifted from her worldly success to focusing solely on God. I was shocked and happy at the same time because my heart felt at home. Out of all of her success (and trust me her resume is extremely long and amazing), she told me that she was most proud when she, "kneels by her beside, and bows her head before God in prayer." From that moment I once again realized how amazing OUR GOD is!!! Confident FAITH tells us that no matter how important we become in the eyes of the world, that God still has to be the most important person in our lives. And as the world moves farther away from him, that's when we have to move even closer to him. Confident FAITH reminds us that there is spiritual warfare even in the midst of our blessings, but that as long as we remain fixed on God that there is no way we can lose. Confident FAITH reassures us that as long as we continue to seek God wholeheartedly, he won't EVER give us on us. Don't get caught up in the hype...make sure your FAITH lies in God and not in the world. 

As of right now I don't know what the future holds for me, but I'm confident that:
  1. God will see me through
  2. I'll keep my FAITH in God
  3. I'll give God the thanks and the glory regardless
  4. My greatest success will be doing his will

Dear God, 

We come before you with heavy hearts. We ask that you restore HOPE in mankind. We ask that you heal the hearts of the broken. We ask that you bring your children back where they belong--kneeling before your feet Lord God. For that person who has strayed we ask that you bring them back in your grace. Give everyone a desire to serve you and only you. Give us the strength to turn away from the enticement of the world because we know that it only leads to a life of destruction. Lord it's time for us to make that shift from cocky FAITH to that confident FAITH. Lord remind us of your power. Teach us to lean on you. Teach us to move mountains with our FAITH. Teach us to put our hope solely in the hands of you. Lord without you we are nothing and with you Lord God we are everything. Continue to keep us, guide us, protect us, and love us. All the glory belongs to you. We love you Jesus. 

By: Jamera