Monday, December 22, 2014

Weekly Devotional: Helpless Maybe, but not Hopeless...God is STILL God



Have you ever felt helpless? Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines "helpless" as: (adj.) 1. not protected: not able to defend oneself; 2. unable to do something to make a situation, task, etc. better or easier; 3. not able to be controlled. Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever felt defenseless, exposed, or even vulnerable in situations? I know I have and especially if you have been watching the news unfortunately, I am sure you can sympathize with these aforementioned emotions.

Now, have you ever felt hopeless? Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines "hopeless" as: (adj.) 1. having no expectation of good or success; not susceptible to remedy or a cure; incapable of redemption or improvement; 2. having no ground for hope; incapable of solution, management, or accomplishment. Have you ever felt this way?  Have you ever felt desperate as if you would implore extreme measures in an attempt to escape your current situation? Have you ever felt that a positive outcome of your situation seems nearly impossible? Unfortunately, I feel as though we have all felt this way in some form or another.

I have often felt a sense of helplessness in situations that I've encountered in life. When I was younger I would often feel helpless when one of my siblings would get in trouble by my mom. I would just sit there like, "I wish there was something I could do." In situations where I would get into trouble at school (mainly because I just talked sooooo much - I still do and it has proven to be an asset) I would feel helpless knowing what my mother, as the disciplinarian would do. The worst was not being able to go outside because I could literally hear all of my friends playing by the window. It was in those moments that I prayed the hardest because although I knew that I couldn't do anything to stop my mom from disciplining me, I knew in my heart that God would send someone to my rescue. Most of the time it was my dad! For some reason, on the days where I got in trouble the most my dad always came by to check up on me. And I just knew it was God! I would whip out the letter from the teacher (usually it was like a pink slip that had to be signed) in front of my parents and my mom would get so upset. I now know that she was just trying to prepare me, correct my behavior, and mold me to understand the importance of authority. Well when God did send my father over in my helpless times, he would always interject and give me a lecture, make me write a sorry letter (which conflicted with my pride), and then make me give him like a mini speech as to why I shouldn't talk during class, talk back, or talk without raising my hand first. I hated all of this but it was better than hearing the sounds of my friends laughing and playing without me. So yes I always felt helpless when I got into trouble at school (as all kids with hardworking parents who just simply, "Don't play that!") but I never really felt hopeless. I was always hopeful that God would send someone or something to interject. And in times when it wasn't my father who stopped by I would pray for distractions. Lord knows that when my mom got on the phone with my aunts I could ask her anything.

There are very few times in my life where I felt hopeless. I've always been a very hopeful person. I like to think that I can change the world and make it a better place. I attribute my hopefulness to my hope in God. Psalm 25:5 states, "Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." God has given me so much hope because he has brought me through countless situations. My hopefulness in God also makes me very bold in my reactions to trials and tribulations. According to 2 Corinthians 3:12, "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold." I no longer cower away from situations that I feel are intimidating or far greater than I am. Instead I embrace the challenge because although the obstacles seem greater than me, they are never greater than my God. Not only has God created us and has directed our problems, but we have to also understand that he has also created the solution. In other words, sin is the problem but Jesus and the Holy Spirit will forever remain the solution. I read an article online that told the story of a professor at this college (I believe it was California) who was an atheist and his teachings reflected his personal beliefs. He challenged everyone who claimed to have believed in Christ. He would end his last class of the semester off by stating that if God existed he could stop a single piece of chalk from dropping and hitting the floor. No one ever challenged him and every year the chalk would drop into a million tiny pieces. By the end of each semester his personal logic placed so much fear into the hearts of believers that everyone would leave questioning the existence of God. That was until one year one student was bold enough and stood up and said that he still believed in God. When the professor went to drop the piece of chalk on the floor the chalk slid down the professor's pant leg, rolled onto his shoe, and landed on the ground...unbroken. I tell this story to say God is STILL God! Is your faith in God so fragile that it can be easily broken? Do you know how easy it is for chalk to break? It is friable rock that breaks under mechanical stress. Do you break easily under stress and/or other pressure? If you do then your faith in God can be shattered at any moment. Your faith shouldn't even be tied to people. Why? Because what faith or hope could be tied to individuals who sin? Your faith and hopefulness should be tied to God! As 1 Peter 1:3 states, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." No matter the situation or what it “looks” like, God is STILL God!


Understanding helplessness means to also understand, as Christian put in the blog last year, "Understanding where my (human) strength ends, and where God's strength begins." There are immeasurable instances where I feel helpless because I know that living in this life full of sin that my abilities and strengths are limited. I can't do everything that I want to do; I am only allowed to do the things that God allows me to do. I can't wake up every morning due to my own merits; God has to grant me the grace to do that. I can't bust open doors of opportunities in my life; God has to grant me the favor to do that. I can't move spiritual mountains by myself; God has to equip me with the strength to do that. I am human, I am sinful, and I am limited. And because I am limited I am smart enough to recognize that my help comes from God. When someone finds it in their heart to bless me even when I don't vocalize my need for a blessing, I understand that God is the one who laid it on their hearts to bless me. God helped me. We see and are recipients of God's help in so many instances. I remember a Bible study maybe 6 or so months ago. One of the questions was "Can we help God?" Immediately, I was like what? How can we help God? He doesn't need our help!!! That was until I listened to other responses of the members of the group. So can we help God? Well yea. We can help God get the gospel to everyone. We can help God spread his love. We can even help restore hope to all of those who seem to have lost it. So yes, maybe we can help God. Maybe even God depends on us, but he is NEVER dependent on us. I say this because we are fully dependent on God. I can depend on my future spouse to pay the bills, however if he can't then I know I'll make a way to do so. But to be fully dependent on him? No. I feel as though our relationship with God works the same way. God depends on us to fulfill our purpose, walk in our purpose, and live a life according to his purpose, and so forth. However, if I slip up and choose to live a life contrary to that purpose, God can find someone else to do it. He is dependent on us to do what he called us to do because he has given us the power of choice, but in the same breath he also has the choice to bestow grace, mercy, favor, or even chastise us for our choices. We are so dependent on God, and as with any relationship, he depends on us to do our part. Hebrews 4:16 states, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." So when you become discouraged or think your situation seems impossible understand that God can pick up right where you left off if you need him to. Psalms 124:7 states, "Those who trust in the Lord Are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever." Just remember, you're never too helpless to pray. PRAYER ALWAYS HELPS.

 

Bridging the gap between feeling helpless and still remaining hopeful, takes prayer. We have pray when we feel helpless and hopeless. With all that has been going on in the news (I would suggest that you start reading Revelations) I have felt so helpless!!! Uggh! I know that I am limited in my own abilities, but my hopefulness in God and his promises has never wavered. Even at times where I am so distraught at the direction that this world seems to be going in and can't find the words to say, I still fall on my knees and cry out to God anyway. Romans 8:26-27 states, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." God knows my heart and he knows what I need! And even times when I'm tempted to react in a manner that does not reflect the LOVE of Christ, I too pray. I pray because I need HELP! I pray because I have HOPE! According to 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." I am solely dependent on God! What he has done for me no man can. What he has given me no man can take away. What he will bless me with no man can block. He is my HELP and for that I am HOPEFUL. And even when I am not hopeful, God is STILL God:

Psalms 46:10 “He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
 
Psalms 46:11 “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
 
Psalms 100:10 “Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”
 
Isaiah 2:11 “The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.”
 
Isaiah 2:17 “The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.”
 
Isaiah 37:20 “Now, LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, LORD, are the only God."

Prayer: Dear God, I come before you to cry out for my sisters and brothers who are so distracted by the work of Satan that they find it hard to see the victory of you Lord. I pray that you bridge the gap between hopelessness and hopefulness -- a bridge that understands that you are here to help in our time of need. I pray with everything in me, that you restore HOPE into humanity; HOPE that is solely vested in the existence and the power of you. Restore our hearts with the love of you as it can conquer all things. Renew our minds with the peace that you give. Restore our spirits with the breath of life that you have so selflessly given to all of us. Allow our eyes to remain fixed on you that we will not become distracted from our purpose and what you have called out to you. Make us selfless and so full of everything that you are. Let your power, your spirit, your grace, your mercy, and the existence of your miracles resonate in our hearts and minds so that we will renew the HOPE that you have given us day after day. We love you and we thank you for what you have done, what you're doing right now, and what you're going to do, because you are STILL God. Amen.


Heather Williams - "God is Still God"
 


NO MATTER WHAT HAS HAPPENED, GOD IS STILL GOD: JAMERA

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekly Devotional: Rest My Child!

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.  After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.  So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8


Satan tries to ruin our contentment by convincing us that we are wasting our time doing what we should be doing, and should instead devote our time to something else. He packages this message and delivers it to you wrapped in a pretty bow, causing it to pervade your mind to the point where you just KNOW that the grass is most certainly greener on the other side. Adam and Eve had the perfect life. They were living in a place of abundance and contentment where they walked with the lord in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8), yet they allowed the Devil to steal their contentment from them, thinking that the one thing they weren’t allowed to do would be their fulfillment.

The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, while Jesus comes to give us an abundant, satisfying, full life (John 10:10). When you hear the words STEAL, KILL, and DESTROY what do you think of? I think of complete annihilation, dropping an atomic bomb and ending everything, slaughtering. The movie Gladiator comes to mind, when the main character Maximus went back home only to see that his family members has all been killed. Their lives had been stolen (and his as he once knew it). His home and land destroyed.

The Devil wants to devastate our lives so that we are irreparable, to the point where we can never find our way back to the Savior (Jesus Christ), and every time we give him a foothold, he takes full advantage and busts the door wide open. He is the epitome of the saying, “Give him and inch and he’ll take a mile.” This is why if we allow him to step in and entertain the thoughts that he places in our mind, we will be deceived. He’ll have you convinced that you are not content, but that once you achieve __________ (you fill in the blank) you will be. Of course, with that mindset, that time will never come.

I recently experienced something like this. Just a couple weeks ago I moved from an apartment with one roommate into a townhouse with two. While in my apartment previously, I kept finding myself saying things like, “I’ll be sooo happy when we move!” And we ended up finding a place that is pretty much perfect, but hours after moving I found myself feeling…empty. People around me kept saying things like “OMG you kitchen is amazing!” “You have a garage!” “You have your own bathroom!” “Aren’t you happy?!” But really I wasn’t, because immediately after moving I found myself in my whirlwind I-have-to-make-everything-perfect mode. In reality, it is nearly impossible to unpack, purchase needed items, and coordinate and set up d├ęcor in just days, but I allowed the Devil to convince me that I would not be happy with my pretty amazing new home until everything was exactly in the state I desire—like something out of a catalog.

I found myself working to unpack for hours in between work and other events, constantly thinking ugh should I skip church to unpack??, constantly tired, surfing websites like Crate and Barrel (knowing I can’t afford much there!), World Market, Wayfair, and Kirkland (which I adore and highly recommend!), and worrying about how I was going to pay for all of the things that I somehow convinced myself I needed. I had allowed the enemy to steal my joy in such a way that having the new place I desired was no longer enough. Having my roommates, friends and family move my belongings into the house FOR ME while I was away for the weekend was not enough. Having a walk-in closet was not enough. Having people give us so many of the things we actually needed not enough. Instead of focusing on the many blessings, all I focused on was the anxiety and the lump in the pit of my stomach that I felt every time I walked into the house (better yet, way before I even walked through the door) and set my glassy-eyed gaze on the huge mess.

One day I played back conversations in my head, answering questions from friends and family members asking excitedly about my new place to which I always started off by responding with a tragic groan, then proceeding to explain to them how stressful the whole process was. I was convinced that was a normal response. Who was I?? All the while, I couldn’t understand how my roommates were so cavalier about everything! While I was inwardly freaking out about where I would store the blender OR how many books I should put on each shelf of my bookcase OR who would pay for the $700 dining room set that I really wanted so I could entertain all of my very potential guests OR when I would be able to comfortably get dressed in the morning with access to every single article of clothing, accessory, hair care product, and toiletry item I own, something said REST MY CHILD.

I heard those words repeatedly in my head until I did it. I closed the browser where I was scouring Pier 1, took my hand off the mouse and shut down my laptop. Instead I picked up my pink Bible which I hadn’t read all week and turned to Colossians 3 which says “since you have been raised to a new life in Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in a place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth…Christ is all that matters and he lives in us all.” Immediately my mind felt at peace and my soul at rest.

I’ve said all of this to remind you (and me) that you are not perfect, as hard as you scratch and claw and beat at perfection. You are made perfect THROUGH CHRIST. Allow yourself to be content where you are so that Jesus can rule your thoughts rather than your next “get rich quick” scheme, your student loan payments, your future husband/wife or your next hairstyle.

Feelings of stress and worry are something that I personally wrestle with each and every day. I don’t know if it’s just my personality or human nature, but I know that someone reading this is dealing with it as well, so as God said to me, I say to you: REST MY CHILD. Take a minute and breathe. Pray this prayer with me and allow the Lord to calm your ever-plotting mind. Then read His word, workout, or call an encouraging friend or family member. Remember not to worry and to “be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).

PRAYER: Lord, I apologize for giving Satan a foothold into my heart and allowing him to convince me that I cannot be content in this very moment. Thank you for showing up and showing me that heavenly things matter most, not earthly things. Thank you for giving me all that I do have and helping me not to focus on what I do not have. Thank you for leading me beside the still waters and for restoring my soul. Thank you for quieting the voice within me that says that I always have to worry. YOU are my hope and my salvation, so I put my trust in you, believing that you alone are my contentment and my portion forever. I thank you God because I still don't have it all together, but I ain't worried! Please give me the strength to let go of all anxiety and continue walk in freedom. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

Don't worry, just smile! Like Blogger, Steven said last week, we are royalty! Someone out there wishes they were you :)
--JAEL




Thursday, December 11, 2014

Weekly Devotional: God With Us!!

As we come closer to the wonderful Christmas Day, I encourage everyone to think about the meaning of Christmas. Why is that we celebrate Christmas? What happened on this day? I know that sometimes we can get so wrapped up in getting gifts and worrying about the gift aspect when in reality we all have the best gift that we can celebrate!! 

Matthew 11:23 says "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." 



Son of God, Jesus, is Emmanuel. Emmanuel means God with us. If Jesus came to Earth to save us and live within all of us with His Spirit, then God is with us. We have this gift of having the royalty running through our veins. We are kings, queens and conquerors. For myself, there are times when I do walk as not a conqueror. I will doubt what God has given me or doubt the placements or positions that He has given me. I doubt sometimes the gift God has placed in myself. But since God lives with us and we are royalty, then we have to live our lives as royalty. We have to walk and talk as royalty. 

Acts 1:8 says that "
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." When God's Spirit comes upon us, we receive power. When God is living in us, anything is possible. When God is with us, we can reach our full potential. 


Romans 8:37 says "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." We are MORE THAN CONQUERORS!!! We are ROYALTY!!!
Ladies, you are queens. Men, you are kings. We have to walk and act as kings and queens. We have power and authority and gifts that God has blessed all of us. I encourage you throughout the whole year and not just a particular time to embrace your kingship. Embrace your royalty with humility. There is no need to walk in depression or with our heads down and there is no need to walk with a cocky mindset. We have to walk with the mindset of purpose, strength and humility. 


Love this song!! It reminds me all the time that there is purpose and that there is royalty running through our veins. Let's embrace it!!



Be blessed my fellow kings and queens!!
God Bless,
Steven Gable 
" What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Weekly Devotional: Do you have ANTs in your Pants??



Just two weeks ago I was given a test.

It was a test of my faith.

I, and I'm sure like everyone else hates tests.

If you can find one person in the world that enjoys taking tests please let me know, I won't to meet that person so I know who to call when I'm being tested lol.

But, all jokes aside, this test of my faith was the worse I ever taken and I failed miserably.

My faith in God for my future was being tried.

It's so easy to say in the good times, when everything is going right, that you have faith in God.

How about those times when things just don't make sense and you can't see where you are going or when everything just looks simply impossible.

Do you still have that unwavering faith that you told yourself you would always have even in the good and bad times?

Or did that faith dwindle into nasty little ANTS.

In church this past Sunday my pastor said that ANTS stands for activated negative thoughts.

These little nasty thoughts literally shutdown the brain to a point where you are no longer walking in the purpose that God has for you.

I can undoubtedly attest to this during my test of faith.

It was during that test that I either had the option to

A. listen to these ANTs that consisted of thoughts like you will never become anything, your future is bleak

B. Listen to that inner voice, the Holy Spirit reminding me of the plans that God has for me and all the things that God told me to do and the gifts and talents he has given me and all the blessings he bestowed upon me that are too many to count

Of course the correct answer would be B. But what did I pick, A of course!

The more I dwelt on those nasty little ANTs the more I became frustrated, emotional, and hopeless.

The bible tells us to dwell on good things. It says,


Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

- King James Bible "Authorized Version", Cambridge Edition

Even though I initially failed this test of my faith, God intervened just like the loving Father that he is and began to remind me of just how blessed I am and how blessed my future will be because of Him.

I began to dwell on those thoughts and as soon as I did that all the ANTs were gone.

Not having faith, being anxious about your future, stressing over situations, moodiness, and being emotional is not of God.

And honestly it sucks being in that state. You can't enjoy the life that God intended for you to the fullest.

He is a God of peace, wisdom, love, power, provision, meekness, etc. Whatever you need it's all in God.

Leave the ANTs out of your pants.

Hannah
Stay in God's Peace not in pieces