Here Today, Gone Tomorrow {Study of Esther Chapter 1}

Esther

 

Click on over and read: Esther Chapter 1

There was some major partying going on here. And a lot of pride and showing off of the goods by the King. Queen Vashti was throwing a separate shindig for the girls because, according to the Oriental fashion, the sexes do not intermingle in society, the court ladies were entertained in a separate apartment by the queen.

As the feast days advanced, the drinking was more freely indulged in, so that the close was usually marked by great excesses of revelry. The King sent for Queen Vashti. It’s a popular belief that he wanted her to appear wearing ONLY her crown.

The refusal of Vashti to obey an order which required her to make an indecent exposure of herself before a company of drunken revelers was unbecoming of both the modesty of her sex and her rank as queen; for, according to Persian customs, the queen, even more than the wives of other men, was secluded from the public gaze. Had not the king’s blood been heated with wine, or his reason overpowered by force of offended pride, he would have perceived that his own honor, as well as hers, was consulted by her dignified conduct. King Xerxes made a rash, half-drunk decision, based purely on feelings. His self-restraint and practical wisdom were weakened by too much wine. The issuance of that decree to the entire empire is ironic because it ensured that everyone in the empire would know about the King’s marital struggles, and not just the “noble women” (Vs. 18).

King Xerxes’ hurt pride turned to anger. Anger often blinds us from doing what is right and causes us to become vindictive. 

Poor decisions are made when people don’t think clearly. Our decisions and actions can cause irrevocable damage, too. We should base our decisions on careful thinking, not on the emotions of the moment. Impulsive decision-making can lead to severe complications.

Obviously, a law cannot possibly cause women to respect their husbands. Respect between a man and a woman is a matter of the heart – from mutual regard and appreciation of each other as people being made in God’s image, not from legal pronouncements and orders. Forced obedience is a poor substitute for the love and respect that wives and husbands should have for one another. For the same reason, instead of forcing us, God gives us free will to CHOOSE to love and follow Him. Beautiful.

We are all “Kings” and “Queens” of our homes too, and our little “empire” is watching us. As a wife, I need to be mindful of how I respond to my husband whether he’s right or wrong because our little “kingdom” is widely affected by my actions, too.

They look to us as an example. We do influence those around us – especially our family. I need to be prayerful and mindful of any pride rising up in me in how I treat my husband and in all of my relationships. Do I respect him? How do I respond to him? Will I contribute to the rise of my household, or to the fall of my household – here today, gone tomorrow? Because a house divided will not stand and pride crushes. Pride absolutely does come before a fall.

Prayer: God, I want to see You. I want to hear You. I want to know You and follow hard after You and the person You intended me to be when You created me. Before I even know all that entales, I say yes to You. Help me be the wife and influencer You have in Your heart for me to be. I want to be a woman after Your own heart. I want to be the person You would be if You were in my place or in my shoes. I accept it. I recieve it. I cherish it. May I live each day expecting to experience You. In Jesus name. Amen.

You Are Blessed

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We all go through things in our lives. Everyone does. We feel lost, at the end if our rope, discontented, persecuted, lied to, lied about, etc. It’s how we handle these situations that makes the difference in people. And a good start is a different perspective that can help change our attitudes and inspire us. No better way of doing that than digging into scripture. And who better to inspire us than Jesus Christ Himself?

Sometimes, we just need to be reminded of how blessed we are. And, truly, we are indeed blessed. Situations we often think are the end of us are just the beginning. I love this quote by Bach:

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly”

What we think is the end, is sometimes just the beginning of something great. What we think is a mess, through Christ is a message. God is always doing 10,000 things in your life. You are aware of maybe three.

Come. Journey through Matthew 5: 3-12 with me. Let’s join in with the crowd and lean in to Jesus teaching the Beatitudes (and get ourselves a “beautiful attitude” with a better perspective because we are not cursed. We are blessed in Christ!)….

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-FULL,’ you find yourselves cared FOR.

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit Christ. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even—for though they don’t like it, Christ does! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. His prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Things may not be as they seem. Get alone with God and His Word and listen to Him speak.

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Since You are God’s idea, you are a GOOD idea

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God planned and packed you on purpose for His purpose. Heaven’s custom design.

At a moment before moments existed, the sovereign Star Maker resolved, “I will make _____________.” Your name goes in the blank.

Then He continued with, “And I will make him/her _________, _________ and _________ and ____________ and __________.”

Fill those blanks with your characteristics. Insightful. Clever. Detail oriented. Restless.

And since you are God’s idea, you are a GOOD idea.

What God said about Jeremiah, He said about you:

“Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.”(Jeremiah 1:5)

Set apart for a special work — Cure for the Common Life

How have your unique characteristics prepared you to do a special work for God?

From Thomas Nelson’s Grace for the Moment: Morning and Evening Devotional [2008] [Max Lucado] Learn more here

#maxlucado #graceforthemoment #grace

Facebook: Online Mission Field

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Facebook has more than 1 Billion members, which by population makes it the third largest country in the world — somewhere between India and the United States(Phil Cooke)

Who’s sending missionaries to that country? Who’s planting churches there?

That’s a HUGE mission field waiting for us.

I’m in.

You?

Our aim in life is to make followers of Jesus, not us.

May they see us pointing to Jesus, not self

More Than Conquerors

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…In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39)

We are more than conquerors

God isn’t sending you out on a suicide mission – He’s inviting you to witness His surpassing power. God is on our side. Let your confidence in Him give birth to optimism.

In all these things we are MORE than conquerors. Don’t give up and don’t give in to the fear of defeat or failure. The solution is life on God’s terms.


It’s time for those of us who follow Jesus to occupy the promises of God – in spite of the bleak reports.

I’m optimistic.

Are you?

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With God on our side like this, how can we lose?

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So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

(Romans 8:37 MSG)

Whatever you’re going through – whatever you’re facing today – embrace this written for you. You are dearly, dearly loved. Dearly wanted. God sees you. He’s here. He can’t forget someone He died for:

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

So look that problem in the eye and say: My God is bigger than you. No thanks!

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Versus Me

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My unresolved guilt festered for nearly a decade. When we began attending a church populated by a number of adoptive and foster families, I wondered if God had hit the family reset button for us. The finances required for adoption were daunting, to say the least, but we thought we could try foster parenting and see where it took us. Our kids were excited at the prospect of having a little baby come to live with us for a while. The social worker that evaluated our family and home prior to granting us a foster license told us we were a perfect family for the task.

She knew this was going to be a part of our family’s ministry but had no idea that foster care was both penance and prayer for me. My unvoiced hope was that maybe one of the foster babies would be left with us—things like that happened once in a while, I knew—and it would be a sign that God really had forgiven me and that I was worthy to mother another child in spite of my decision to have a tubal ligation a decade earlier.

My grief in the restaurant the day Rhiannon left us was sadness at letting her go, but also a revelatory moment when I began to come to terms with the fact that I could not go back to fix the past. My regret had long anchored me to that single disobedient moment in time. My response to the remorse I felt was to beat myself up with my failure in my own wrongheaded attempt to somehow make myself right with God. I wanted so much to be able to right my wrong, to turn my “if only” into a do-over.

I felt a new wave of sorrow as I accepted the fact that there were not going to be any do-overs in this area of my life. Jesus had been waiting and working through all of this to free me from my self-punishment habit. That fresh sorrow marked the reality that I’d finally begun to surrender to God by allowing remorse to do its work in me. The Message paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 7:10 ex- plains the work of this kind of godly sorrow: “Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”

I also began to discover that day how our loving God can redeem our regrets.

The Past on “Repeat”

Regret serves a training purpose in our lives. One of the first things newborns discover is that their cry creates a response from the world: warm milk, comforting arms, a dry diaper. This cause-and-effect interaction with the world teaches babies how the world works.

It doesn’t take long before we graduate to some version of the old “the dog ate my homework” dodge to avoid uncomfortable short-term consequences. As we move toward adulthood, one of our greatest strengths is our idealism. The passion that fuels our idealism also feeds idealism’s trigger-happy pal—impulsiveness. When we’re young, we’re prone to making quick decisions without considering long-term consequences. As a result, we’re also prone to accumulating a nice collection of unprocessed regrets that we may not fully realize until we approach midlife.

I wonder how many times Adam and Eve replayed the moment they bit into the forbidden fruit throughout the rest of their long lives (Gen. 3:1-7) or how many times Esau cursed himself for his impatience at trading his inheritance and his father’s blessing for a bowl of lentils (Gen. 25:24-34). Judas’s regret at betraying his friend Jesus drove him to suicide (Matt. 27:1-5).

In the weeks after my lunchtime meltdown, I took a small first step in facing my regrets by intentionally choosing not to keep hitting the “repeat” button on my decision. I wanted to be intentional about reflecting on the good God had brought into my life despite my bad choices, something I really hadn’t done very often. The exercise offered me a new appreciation for the sovereignty of God. If it is true that God weaves all things together for both our good and his glory (Rom. 8:28), then it follows that he is able to redeem our sinful decisions in order to serve his purposes. I realized that while my life may have been less fruitful as a result of the consequences of my choice, it hadn’t been exactly barren. Mothering three beautiful children, helping my husband as he finished college while working full time, caring for friends, doing the work God had given me, learning, serving in a couple of meaningful ministry roles—each one bore the imprint of eternity. The exercise didn’t instantly erase every regret, but it did serve to interrupt the unhealthy cycle of self-recrimination in which I’d been trapped with some spiritually nourishing, God-glorifying thanksgiving.

Pausing my endless loop of “if only” opened my ears to the lyrics of that tired song to which I’d been dancing and dancing and dancing. It was time to learn some new steps.

Reflection Questions:

1. What are some of your longest-standing regrets?

2. In what ways can you see how your past regrets have affect- ed your present life? How do they shape the way you think about your future?

3. What is one positive thing that has happened in your life as a result of a past regret?

4. If you were going to write a letter to a younger version of you just before you made a decision you now know would lead to regret, what would you say to yourself? What do you think God might say to that younger version of you?

Taken from If Only by Michelle Van Loon, ©2014 by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. Used and reprinted by permission of Publisher. All rights reserved. Visit our website at http://www.beaconhillbooks.com to purchase this title.

#IfOnlyBook #IfOnlyTour

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You Are The Blessing

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The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that The Lord was with him and that The Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of The Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left everything he had in Joesph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. (Genesis 39:2-5)

God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all of his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian — all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day. 

It’s not where you are – it’s YOU that God is blessing. God has favor on YOU.

Being in the favor of God means you’ll be blessed no matter where you are. You walk in a room you are the blessing of that room. 

There is no weak economy in Heaven. There are no droughts in heaven. There are no emergency meetings in heaven. 

In Genesis 13 we see Abram and Lot, uncle and nephew, separate. Lot chose the lush lands of the east. Abram chose the desert and prospered there.

In God’s economy, there IS prosperity in the desert.

When you walk into that job, that home, that position – it’s you that has the blessing and the favor and you bring it with you.
 
God is working through our obedience in Spiritual gifts and professional skills. And, as Joseph’s life reminds us, His purposes stretch from countryside pastures to household financial services firms, from prison administration, to the halls of political power. 

May he find us faithful where we are. Everywhere we are. 

You are the light of world. You carry the light with you. What happens when you walk into a room and flip the light on? Light always wins. No fear. 

Allow God to be the Author of your hopes and dreams —your definition of success. 


Like a drop in the water, your blessings ripple out to those around you. He will bless your work and it will bless your employer, colleagues, clients, customers, vendors, your town. He will bless you and it will bless your family, your friends, your church, your marriage. 

Think you’ve gone too far, or made too many wrong turns? 

God uses broken things. He uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to produce rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever. 

We can all learn a lesson from Peter: In Matthew 14:22-33 Peter walked on water, but as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and onto his surroundings, he began to sink. Don’t look at your surroundings no matter how crazy they seem. Keep your eyes on the Master. He’s the source of power. He’s your confidence.

And, remember this. Don’t forget it: the credit is all His. Take less credit and more confidence in Him. It’s not who you are, it’s Whose you are. 

Prayer:
Lord, thank You for blessing us. Thank You for reminding us that your blessings go with us wherever we are and that our calling doesn’t stop at the church building. You bless us and use us wherever we are in all that we do at home and at work…..and those blessings bless others. Thank You for Your favor. May we be mindful and faithful in all we do. As we go about this next week and all the days following, may we remember to live second. May we remember why we’re here. For Your honor. For Your glory. In Jesus name. Amen.

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Trust Issues

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A Facebook friend shared this picture, and I just had to share it with you.

It’s easy for us look at this picture and think how silly it is for her to hold on when we see that He has something better for her.

Isn’t this so like us?? We have trust issues. We hold on to things we think are the better things for us. Do we really think we know better than God?

We forfeit a lot of untapped blessings by doing this.

If only we would just surrender it all to Him. Because, dear friends, He has better things for us and loves us beyond compare.

He holds no good thing from us. He can do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine….if we would only TRUST Him!


The thing is – Jesus is looking for people to give more than words of belief; He’s looking to see how those words are lived out in our lives.

When we decide to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Him, we are nothing more than fans. We need to become faithful followers.

What is it that you need to surrender? What things or people or hurts or pasts or (fill in the blank) are you still holding on to?

Won’t you trust Him and let go?

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! (Ephesians 3:20, 21 MSG)

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Resting in His Finished Work

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In Psalm 23:2 when David says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”—he’s saying, “My shepherd makes me lie down in His finished work.” With His own pierced hands, Jesus created a pasture for the soul. Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of the shepherd when, with work completed, he sees his sheep rest in the tender grass? Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of God when we do the same?

His pasture is His gift to us. This is not a pasture you have made. Nor is it one you deserve. It is a gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Your Shepherd invites you to nestle deeply hidden, buried, in the tall shoots of His love—and there you will find rest.

From Traveling Light, Max Lucado

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Just drop it already…..

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I knew I was carrying too much. Trying to save a few steps, I loaded my arms up with too much – and the crash to the ground confirmed it. 

In life, too, we carry too much – things not meant for us to carry – taking on things too heavy for us – holding on to things we need to let go of.

It holds us back, holds us down and keeps us from soaring new heights with God. 

God wants to take us where we’ve never been before, and in ways we’ve never dreamed of.

But, we have to drop some things: guilt, shame, worry, stress from things we should have handed over long ago, lack of trust that God can and that He knows what He’s doing. Carrying it around keeps us from freely comforting others, sharing in their burdens, and serving Him fully. 

And besides…

How can we lift someone else’s load if our arms are full of our own?

And, what about our loved ones – our first mission field? How do those things affect our love and care for them? 

Enough.
 

Hand them over.

For your family and friends, hand them over.

For God, hand them over.

For you, hand them over. 

Hand them over and trust Him. These are things you were never meant to carry. 

God is looking out for you, so hand it all over. Let it go. He’ll carry your load. He is more than able. Live carefree before God and soar! See: Psalm 55:2, 1Peter 5:7. 

Go on…have a little talk with Jesus and just drop it already…

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God is NOT Dead

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Tonight my family and I went to see the movie God’s Not Dead. I don’t want to give a run down about the movie because a quick Google search can tell you tons.

If you love God, go see it.

If you hate God, go see it.

If you loved Him once and have faded away from this passionate, fire-breathing love affair, go see it.

You will hear from both sides: the Christian and the Atheistic points of view on God.

You will see people risk everything.

You will see people risk nothing.

Your heart will break and your heart will soar.

Most of all – this movie is all about the heart.

This movie is all about your heart.

GO SEE IT

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Why Is This Friday So Good?

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Why do we commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross by calling it “Good Friday”?

From Billy Graham:

What appeared at first to be a tragedy was in fact a triumph—because by His death on the cross Jesus Christ purchased our salvation. We are separated from God because of our sin, and because we are sinners we have no hope of eternal life. God is pure and holy, and even one sin—just one—would be enough to keep us out of heaven. But by His death on the cross, Jesus Christ became the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins, and because of that, heaven’s door is now open to all who put their faith and trust in Him. And that’s why we can call the day on which Jesus died “Good Friday.” In fact, it was the greatest Friday in the history of the human race, because on that day Jesus Christ won our salvation. At one time, the Bible says, we were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But now we have hope, because Christ died for us.

He chose the nails. For me. For you. For love.

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They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days He will rise again.” (Mark 10:34 NLT)

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The Real Deal

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We have an expression that says, “She’s the real deal.” What we mean when saying this is the person is really who they are appearing to be. They aren’t trying to convince you that they’re someone they’re not. It’s a compliment. It means you’re aren’t a hypocrit or trying to be someone you’re not. 

I had a situation where someone wanted to say something about someone that was out of character for the person being spoken of. I didn’t need to know the details. I knew the person. She’s the real deal

GOD did extraordinary miracles through Paul…. Acts 19:11

Paul was the real deal. GOD began using Paul in amazing ways and there arose people who saw this power who also wanted to do the same acts as Paul. The problem was they weren’t the real deal. They were trying to be someone they weren’t. They were trying to appropriate the same Power Source as Paul without ever having a relationship with the Power Source, and it nearly killed them. 

It is impossible to be the real deal without tapping into the real Power Source. The Holy Spirit is our Power Source. Do you want to experience the extraordinary with GOD? If so, tap into the real Power Source.

Gaining Intimacy With GOD

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I love the sermon we had at church this Sunday. I was so inspired because I passionately crave closeness with my Lord. I love slow dancing through my life with Him. I deeply long for intimacy with Him. It’s more valuable to me than anything else. More than everything else. 

We’re talking about less being more when it comes to gaining intimacy with GOD:

There’s a lie we’ve bought into that says: I’ll grow if I go. We believe that just going to church is all we need to do to grow. It’s great to go to church, but the point is transformation. The point is growing in Spiritual maturity. We need a crisis of transformation. Are we changing? Are we experiencing transformation? 

What we need is intimacy with GOD. This should be our goal. This is more than just going to church. We’re talking about change. You can’t come away from an up close, intimate relationship with God and be the same. Are we changing? Growing more spiritually mature? 

One way to gain intimacy with GOD is through fasting. We traditionally think of fasting as doing without something in order to pray and ask GOD for something we want. 

Fasting is where less is more. 

Fasting is voluntarily denying yourself of something in order to increase time and intimacy with GOD.

It’s denying yourself to provide yourself with this encounter with God.

We sometimes think GOD as a genie in a bottle where we ask Him for something we want and it stops there. But no. GOD wants a relationship with us. The goal of fasting should always be intimacy.

Jesus Himself fasted:

The Spirit then led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. After this fast, He was, as you can imagine, hungry. But He was also curiously stronger when the tempter came to Jesus. Matthew 4:1-3

We grow and become transformed by fasting. We gain power and strength from this intimate time spent with Daddy. It’s digging in deeper with Him. It’s what our motive should be when we fast – to gain intimacy with God. This strength helps us in dealing with the enemy’s prowling around in our lives. 

Jesus has a fundamental expectation that we are going to fast. It’s expected of us:

And WHEN you fast…. Matthew 6: 6-18 (Emphesis mine)

See that? Jesus didn’t say IF. He said WHEN. It’s expected. 

Fasting also reveals a few things for us:

1. What really controls us.

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. Romans 12:2

Beware of the way that culture shapes you. It’s difficult to see the ramifications of our own culture while we are in the midst of it. Think about the trends of our culure and how they are impacting you. Disengage so you can properly see how much. Once we let go of something, we become more aware of the hold we let it have on us. Skeptical? Try stepping away from Facebook or that online game you play and you’ll truly see it’s grip on you. 

Fasting is paradoxical. In fasting, we embrace emptiness in order to experience fullness.  When we get quiet and still, we get fullness in Him. 

2. My abuse of time. 

We’ll discover how much more time we have to seek intimacy with GOD when we disengage in order to grow more intimate with GOD. There are things we’ve allowed to use up massive amounts of time that is meant for us to spend with Him. We are wasting time. Period. 

What helps you feel close to GOD? Whatever it is, when fasting, do that because the goal in fasting is more intimacy with GOD. 

Human beings have an undeniable propensity toward become obsessed with things that ultimately have little meaning or value. We become obsessed or addicted to something that has little value. Don’t know of anything affecting you this way? Again—try doing without it to get perspective on it.

3. That more is not always better. 

We think that more is always better.  

Our biggest temptation is not the ridiculously evil–but the deceptively good. We get ourselves busy, busy, busy with more, more, more of all sorts of things that replace time of gaining more intimacy with Daddy GOD. We need less of something in order to have more of what’s most important. 

You, GOD, are my GOD, earnestly I seek for you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

You know you’re missing something. You know there is a void in your life. Did you know that’s your soul thirsting for GOD? This world – this life IS a dry and weary land. It can’t ever quench your thirst because it’s just shifting sand. It’s dry and weary. Why? There’s nothing here that your soul is longing for. It can’t satisfy that emptiness within you. You try to fill it with many things but it doesn’t help because you live in a dry and weary land and your soul thirsts for GOD. How much sand would it take to quench your thirst? More sand just compounds thirst and you’re never satisfied. You try and quench that thirst by relationships, sex, drugs, activity, people, and working. GOD is the only thing that quenches that thirst. 

As you’ve read this, GOD has brought some things up in your heart that you need to do. Whatever GOD is speaking to you about right now, go and do it and don’t delay. If the enemy can’t get you to deny what GOD wants you to do, he will get you to delay what GOD wants you to do. 

GOD, help us to embrace emptiness in order to embrace fullness. In You. 

My pastor said it best. I love to take notes during church, but you can click here to hear this sermon directly from him with more detail. You’ll want to be sure and watch until the end because you will be so blessed by what’s there.

You can also subscribe to the feed from our church at this link, but if you’re in the area of any of the locations, drop by. You’ll be blessed. 

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Reclaiming Eve: The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God

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I had the privilege of reading Reclaiming Eve:The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God. Visit HERE to get your copy, today!

To be invited in the blog tour was a blessing, but it was only the beginning. Reading this book blessed me on so many levels. My electronic version has so many highlights in it that the whole book is nearly yellow. It unlocked so many things I already knew and encouraged me to continue searching out true freedom in becoming the woman God intended me to be when He created me: a strong power and agent of rescue. An ezer

The following is an excerpt from Reclaiming Eve Chapter 5

God of Community

The spirit of our times could be described with one word: “alienation.” Garage doors go down, people sit entranced in front of computers and televisions, while the solitary lives we lead are crushing our souls. There isn’t a person God will put in your path today who doesn’t long to be known and loved. The bank teller, the boss, the mail carrier, the child, the client, the sister, the old college roommate who just asked to be your Facebook friend.

If it’s true that God calls to us in our pain, then he calls to the isolated businesswoman who has no friend to call when she needs to visit the emergency room. With arms outstretched, he beckons the teenager who was just rejected by her boyfriend after being used. He patiently longs to comfort the fifty-year-old woman whose father abandoned her at birth, leaving a gaping emotional wound that paralyzes her in relationships.

We all long for connection. The ezers and the adams. The single and the married. Those with power and money and those with nothing. In fact, a study from the University of Chicago showed that as you age, loneliness actually raises your blood pressure just as much as obesity or a lack of exercise. The message: healing is a group activity. It’s not only unfulfilling but also physically dangerous to go it alone.

We were hardwired for community. And while you may not have thought about it in this way, you’ve known it all along. You knew it when your mother or father laid you down as an infant and you longed to be held. You may remember moments of friendship that made your heart soar, along with your confidence. And if you’re anything like me, you remember a time when your body physically ached from the ending of a relationship you held dear.

How amazing that in a world of isolated individuals, God the Creator provides the answer to our longings by pointing us back to his original plan. Remember? A God of community, dancing around in a three-in-one relationship, creates Adam. Immediately afterward, he recognizes Adam’s loneliness, highlighting Adam’s complete lack of any suitable companion. Then God dispenses a prescription with only glorious side effects: to end the loneliness of the single human, I will make an ezer who is suitable for him.

The Creator who made his ezers designed them as agents of rescue to destroy isolation. Think of it: simply by being born female, you are a dazzling testament to the beauty of community. You see, it is not good for Adam, or for anyone, to be alone. It violates God’s design and leaves us empty, depressed, and even hopeless. God created his ezers to remind us over and over again that we cannot, must not, go it alone.

How ironic that the very place in which Adam and Eve violated God’s love is the place in which he wants to restore each of us. His community. The place in which each of us are hurt the most, through our relationships, happens to be the same avenue in which God wants to bring unimaginable healing. Whether or not you like it, you are dependent on other men and women to fully experience Christ’s love for you.

There is so much more packed into this book! You must go and grab a copy for yourself and grab hold of your powerful calling in the Kingdom of God for your good and His glory. You are created in God’s image to be an ezera strong power and agent of rescue!

Unlock that power today!

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When Things Don’t Go As Planned

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Sometimes things don’t go as planned. T’s crossed. I’s dotted. You even prayed about it and was sure things were going your way. There was peace. There was joy. And then the door slammed shut. Hard. 

I had this happen to me a few weeks ago. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I prayed. I lamented. I asked GOD to show me the lesson. What did I miss? What did I need to learn from this?

Maybe you had a dream vanish, a relationship suddenly go south, a friendship ran its course, a deal went sour, and big plans fell through. Maybe you were in the middle of something great and God called you to move out of it. Or maybe for you it was bunch of little things that together, became seemingly unbearable. 

God moves in ways we seldom understand. We must let go of judging the situation as failure. Couldn’t it actually a blessing? 

What??

Yes.

GOD has an awesome way of redeeming the broken situations and the hurting people and creating something beautiful from it.

 

Here’s a few examples: 

He took a team conflict between Paul and Barnabas and created two successful ministries instead of one. 

He used Joseph’s forced exit from his home to deliver two nations from starvation. 

After Peter publicly rejected Jesus three times, God made him the founder of the modern church.

When Jesus’ earthly father Joseph relocated out of concern for their lives, a prophecy was fulfilled that verified Jesus as God’s Son.

Don’t misjudge the situation as loss. We are super conquerors in Christ. Once we let go of judgment, we find freedom from grief, anger, and disappointment.

There’s nothing like change to reveal how we truly handle change. How many times do we kick and scream against it? With our carefully marked itinerary in hand, we get mad and try and take back control. 

There’s a popular saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I don’t think God would ever maliciously laugh at us, but I do think He wonders why we thought we had the right to determine our course in the first place. 

Who’s plan do we operate by? 

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” Proverbs 16:9

Dealing with a change in plans requires us to have God’s thoughts as our focus. Jesus says in Matthew 16:24 that if we want to follow Him we must deny ourselves. Following Jesus requires a change in our plans. We must relinquish our desire to plan, scheme, and insist our way through daily surrendering our lives to Jesus. 


While salvation is secure through our Savior Jesus, the struggle to make Jesus Lord is a constant giving up of our plans for God’s plans. 

When your plans change, look for something unexpected. Look for something amazing that changes your course and gives way to God’s life-giving plans. Look for something that came about because of those changed plans.

Surrender. 

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Overcoming

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It happened. We got “the call” about our daughter serving overseas. She got sick. And not just sick. The go-to-the-hospital-kind-of-sick.

There’s one thing you’ll notice about our family: When something goes down, we get quiet. We collectively, as if we are one body, click into a mode where we talk very little, listen, hear from all sides, get information, take in information, pray, get others to pray, go to scripture, take in more information, hear from all sides, and pray. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It’s our form of running. Except we don’t run away…. we run into Daddy’s arms. This is how we overcome and conquer…in Him. All Him.

Everyday is filled with the ups and downs in life – the excitements, the disappointments, the scary unexpected, the adventures, and the times that aren’t so exciting. What we choose to do, and how we respond to these situations, indicates the type of people we are on the inside.

Jesus said, “In this life, you will have trouble. But take heart! For I have overcome the world” John 16:33

Jesus knew we would encounter disappointments. He knew we would encounter troubles, fears, and doubts. To that He says, “Take heart!” because He’s already overcome this life. If we choose to take Him at His word, we choose to live in the place He’s called us to. A place not devoid of sorrow, but where we know and live in victory.


GOD has a plan for each of us, and we are defined by His intentions not our present circumstances


In spite of trouble, in spite of doubt, GOD is there with us.

Here’s the thing: we will encounter sorrow. We will encounter disappointments. But GOD didn’t create us to live there. He created us to overcome, to rise above those circumstances, and to let His light shine through us, in spite of it all.

But those who wait on The Lord will find new strength. They will fly on wings like eagle. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

This is the place where we are called to live. A place of overcomers and conquerors. Choose to let GOD’s light shine through your circumstances – in spite of your circumstances. Choose to be a person who overcomes – in spite of everything. And rest in the fact that GOD is right there, in the midst of it all.

You, dear children, are from GOD and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37

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The Day We Fight Back {Unleashing the Warrior Chic}

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As I held out my hands to her, I could see the grip of fear in her eyes. I was asking her to do something she’d never done before. To go to a place she’d never been. To leave her safe place that ironically was a hard place. But it was all she knew.

Until now.

She’s fighting backShe’s unleashing her warrior chic.

“What if I fall?”
“What if you don’t?”
“I might get hurt”
“You might not”
“You sure?”
“No, but either way, I’m here”
And with that, our eyes locked. And off she went.
We are God’s workmanship, not a workmanship of any other circumstances (Eph 2:10). We aren’t a product of time, we’re a product of eternity. The most potent force on earth is the blood of Christ – and.it.sets.us.free.
Now, draw a blood line in the sand and don’t go back.
Because TODAY.
Today we’re fighting back. We’re unleashing our warrior chic
I can hear those war drums beating now. Hear it? I like that beat.
You can start bad but finish free. Don’t be a woman defined by your issue – be a brand new woman….created in Christ Jesus….defined by the freedom that Christ set you free.
You can’t set anyone else free if you aren’t’ free and it’s not too late. How do I know? Because you’re still here.
What’s holding you back? Or, what things are you allowing to hold you back? We don’t know about tomorrow because life is but a vapor (James 4) so don’t live your life as if you’re supposed to enter death safely.
God has created us to be untamed, undomesticated and to be a force to be reckoned with.
Jesus died and rose again to make us dangerous to the forces of darkness.
This isn’t a dress rehearsal.
We are agents of change.
We are salt to this world (Matthew 5:13-16).
Go.
Salt the world around you.
We are light to this world (Matt 5:13-16)
Light is created to dispel darkness. The only way a room gets dark is to switch the light off.
Go.
Light the world around you.
Don’t stand in the crowd when you’re supposed to stand out.
Normal never did anything significant in the Scriptures. Here’s the thing: that’s not normal – normal is warrior chic! God calls us to go against the grain when the grain is going against God.
Feel like you’re insignificant and meager?
Jesus began in a simple maiden town no one wanted to live in (John 1:46), and worked with simple, blue collar people. What you’re looking at now doesn’t represent the future (Mark 4:30-32).
Jacob was a cheater. Peter had a temper. David had an affair. Noah got drunk. Jonah ran from God. Paul was a murder. Gideon was insecure. Miriam was a gossip. Martha was a worrier. Thomas was a doubter. Sara was impatient. Elijah was moody. Moses stuttered. Zaccheus was short. Abraham was old. Lazarus was dead.
Every weakness you have is an opportunity for God to show His strength in your life. The magic happens out of your comfort zone.
My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in your weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Are you afraid? Everyone is afraid. The questions isn’t – are you going to be afraid. The question is: Who do we believe in more?
What can man do to you? We fear man so much because we fear God so little. Decide that you want it more than you’re afraid of it. God will give you peace as you follow Him faithfully. Faith is like a muscle, the more you use it, the bigger it gets. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.
Now, lock eyes with Jesus, and JUMP because this is the day we fight back!
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Waiting to Exhale: Forgiveness = Freedom

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Hurt people hurt people

We’ve all heard it said a million times. I’ve said it a million times. It’s true, hurt people do hurt people. However, not all hurt people hurt people. The cycle can be broken. How? One word: forgiveness

Forgiveness brings freedom. Yes, hurt people hurt people but free people free people. Forgiveness isn’t always for their sake, it’s for your own freedom

As free, forgiven people we should free people. 

Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him MILLIONS OF DOLLARS He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold – along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned – to pay the debt. But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and released him and forgave his debt. (Matt 18:23-27, emphasis mine)

Authentic forgiveness is never cheap. When the owner forgives the debt, the debt didn’t just disappear. Just like us with Jesus, the master had to absorb it.  

Our moral debt was paid on the cross. 

How does this servant love differently after receiving such grace? 


But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him A FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. (Matt 18:28-30, emphasis mine)

Human nature is to retaliate

Three common obstacles to forgiveness:

1) Forgiveness is not condoning. To forgive someone isn’t condoning or excusing what they did. Because Christ has forgiven me, I’m going to forgive you

2) Forgivenss is not always reconciling. There are people you need to forgive, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will reconcile with them. There are some people you don’t need to reconcile with if they can’t be honest with what they did to you. Without truth there can’t be trust. 

3) Forgiveness is not forgetting. Just because you can’t forget doesn’t mean you aren’t forgiving. Time doesn’t heal all wounds but GOD does. When you forgive someone it doesn’t erase what they’ve done but it does erase the hurt from what they’ve done.  Forgiveness is expensive. Sometimes we don’t have the power to forgive people the way they need to be forgiven. It’s not in you on your own. You’re able to offer it because you have received it. 

Christ forgave this massive debt you had. Go and do likewise:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, FORGIVING EACH OTHER, just as in Christ God FORGAVE YOU (Ephesians 4:32, emphasis mine)

But, you cannot exhale what you haven’t inhaled. Go ahead, take a good deep breath and then let it out. Until you have inhaled that magnificent Grace and Goodness of GOD, you cannot exhale or extend that to others. Don’t hold on…just breathe and let go.


The letters of the name of God in Hebrew… are infrequently pronounced Yahweh. But in truth they are inutterable….

This word {YHWH} is the sound of breathing. In Hebrew “Yah” is an action word that means to breathe in and “Weh” means to breathe out. So God’s very name means our very inhales and exhales of our life, His name is and gives life

The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing. That these letters are unpronounceable is no accident. Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’… God’s name is name of Being itself.

Some of us have breathed in GOD, but aren’t exhaling Him into our lives.

Some of us are waiting to exhale….

Don’t hold on… Just breathe and let go.

You are the most influential person in your life and you have the power to say: “This is not how my life is going to be. I’m going to inhale the Goodness and Grace GOD has given me and exhale it to others”. 

Breathe — and call the name of Being Himself. Keep breathing — and pray without ceasing.

Don’t let the hard things in life silence you. Put it down or it will bring you down. Break the cycle and let freedom reign in your life.

Say to yourself: “GOD loves me NOW” 

“Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. ~2 Corinthians 2:14 (MSG)

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#forgiveness #freedom #choice #Yahweh #influence #hurt #hurtpeoplehurtpeople #freepeoplefreepeople #free #life #pain

Waiting For My One True Love

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I  am not a patient person. I want to know it all. And, I want to know it NOW! I am the girl who flips to the end of the romance book to see if they end up together. A die hard romantic. I just can’t wait long enough to find out their ending or should I say their beginning with their one true love.

In high school, I decided not to date. To just cool my jets and fall in love with my God. It was a time to focus my attention on God. He said that He would bring the man he had for me in HIS timing, not mine. So that’s what I did. 

I waited.

That time of wait was not always easy. However, I have a best friend who had the same commitment, so the waiting wasn’t nearly as hard as it could have been. During those years, we laughed so hard our sides hurt. Pulled pranks. We went on adventures that would make you cry from laughing so hard. We were (and still are) inseparable! We decided to dance our way through this time of waiting.

In the meantime, she had an older brother who I thought was the bee’s knees! He was everything I was looking for in a guy. When I say everything, I mean e v e r y t h i n g: a Jesus loving musician with a heart for people, level headed, calm, cool, collected, an amazing servant leader. The list goes on and on and on! Except there was one problem: He was my best friend’s older brother! 

So I kept it a secret.

I didn’t tell my best friend. I didn’t want her to get mad. And I didn’t want her to think I used her to see her brother, which wouldn’t be anywhere close to the truth.

This went on for years.

And years.
 
In the spring of 2012, I finally told her at a stop light in our small town. It was rather comical. As it turns out, she knew and had been waiting for me to tell her. She wasn’t mad, and it didn’t go as I feared it would. I was so relieved! 

I had brought my feelings to God numerous times. With graduation looming, I felt my time of no dating was coming to an end and this guy was no stranger in my prayers! During that Spring, the situation looked bleak. He was interested in someone else! I was devastated to say the least. I prayed and asked God what I should do. I loved Brandon and wanted only the best for him. No matter what or with whom that would be. 

The only response I got from God was, “Wait.” 

What?

Wait?

Again?? 

Really????

That was not the answer I was wanting. I wanted an immediate answer to the problem! But, I knew God loved me deeply and had a purpose, so I decided to trust him and wait……but this wait was for God to bring someone else. I planned to squash my feelings for Brandon and just see him as a friend. That’s all. I tried. Honestly, I did. I almost believed the lies I told myself too. 

Later that fall, I got a text from HIM. Brandon only asked me a simple question. No big deal. But to my amazement, we kept talking. And talking.

This went on for 7 MONTHS people! I was so impatient! He never gave me any clue if he liked me or not. Not a single one! Ugh! I was just getting down right mad at this point. I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted a definite answer! Either ask me to be your girl or stop texting me! 

I decided to take matters into my own hands (never a good idea). A couple of people had tried to set me up with their friends and I had always turned them down. This time I decided to just meet them. Why not? Brandon wasn’t going to do anything anyways. I got to know them a little bit. Before I could even finish asking God what he thought, I got a resounding NO! I thought I had heard wrong. Surely, I had. But no. I had not. So I dropped it. Never to be picked up again. 

A bunch of us ended up going to a birthday party at the zoo. On April 20th 2013, at the Nashville Zoo by the tiger exhibit, Brandon asked me to be his girl. FINALLY! I was completely surprised. I honestly had no clue if he was interested in me or not. As it turns out, he had had his eye on me for years! He had been praying about me late into the nights and told no one. 
 
I was walking in the clouds that day. And I haven’t come down since. God had a plan and a purpose. Of course He did. One greater than I could have imagined. Those years (and YEARS!) of waiting were worth every second. I wouldn’t trade them. They make our love story especially sweet. God prepared us for each other in HIS timing and not ours. Never have I been so grateful for the word wait

If you are in a waiting season, take heart! God has not forgotten you, just like he never forgot me. God stretches us the most when we can’t clearly see the way ahead. We may not always understand His ways, but God is God. We have to trust Him to make known to us the paths of life. In my lifetime, God has made me wait. He has taught me so much more in the times of waiting than when I have had everything I wanted. You may be waiting for something different. It may be a job. Or a home. Or maybe it’s your one true love as well. But the waiting is the same. Enjoy the ride! Roll down your windows. Drink in deeply the sweet presence of God. Dance through your times of waiting. You can learn a lesson from my story: Don’t push it. Don’t rush it. Just let God bring it to you in His timing. It works out better that way.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

 
Love,
Morgan

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Obedience With A Cost

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Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all. – Exodus 5:23

Have you ever felt like you have been obedient to the Lord for something He called you to do and all you get are more roadblocks?

Yeah?

This is the way Moses felt. When Moses went to tell Pharaoh to release the people because God said so, Pharaoh simply got angry and made the people make bricks without straw. Moses caught the blame for this from the people. Moses was just learning what obedience really means in God’s Kingdom. You see Moses had not even begun to release plagues upon Egypt. He hadn’t even gotten started yet in his calling, and he was complaining about his circumstances. There were many more encounters with Pharaoh to come, and many more plagues with no deliverances in sight.

Why would God tell Moses that He is going to deliver them and not do it?

It was all in timing. God never said when He was going to deliver. He just said He would. In the next chapter, we find Moses arguing with God about not being capable of the job God had called him to:

But Moses said to the Lord, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?” Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and He commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt Exodus 6:12-13. (Emphasis mine)

Do you get the feeling God was losing His patience?

God had a good reason for His delays. He said, “And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it” (Ex. 7:5). God not only wanted the people of Israel but also the Egyptians to know Him. It would be the greatest show of God’s power on earth.

God often causes delays in our lives that we cannot understand. Sometimes it seems our obedience is not getting rewarded. Jesus said He learned obedience through the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). Imagine that – Jesus having to learn obedience. What does that say for you and me?


Sometimes God’s delays are simply because He wants more glory in the situation, more recognition, more Christ-likeness in you and me through greater patience and obedience. Faint not, for the promise may yet come.

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Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, with added emphasis by Christy

#Hebrews #Exodus #BibleStudy #Devotion #amwriting #Faith #LifeWithChrist #Moses #Jesus #christyrawlsDOTcom

Autism Speaks: A Beautiful Reminder Part 2 {finding Joy in the midst of Despair}

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In Bill’s last entry, he presented an overview of his ongoing recovery from Asperger’s Syndrome and how he overcame that to become an occupational therapist. This time, he talks in detail about a key turning point a couple months after he listened to that Paige Armstrong song.</em

 
In life, we have moments where we are on cloud nine and we feel invincible. We can forget God has a hand in getting us there. However, we also have moments where we hit rock bottom. We will question why God places us in such situations. We can forget God is in His master control room watching our every move….
 
 
I found the song Desperate by Joy Williams when I was a sophomore in college. It was a time when I got exposed to Contemporary Christian music for the first time. At that time, I overlooked this song because I purposely wanted to fill my music library with upbeat and positive songs.
 
 
That fall I was attending a students-only occupational therapy conference in Louisville, Kentucky. On the surface, my emotional state was a lot more stable than it was a couple months earlier. My classmates slowly noticed the happy-go-lucky me was coming back. Deep inside, however, my mind was still filled with doubt and hopelessness. This was understandable at the time because I knew I could not fail any more clinical internships when I resumed them in the latter part of the school year. I was worried. As for the conference itself, I had little expectations for it aside from having a few planned moments with Jaclyn, my former opponent in an election for a prestigious student leadership position a few months earlier. 
 
On the first day of the conference I arrived at my hotel (which was also where the conference was taking place) a few hours early. I was waiting for fellow occupational therapy students from USC to arrive so that we could hang out together. Since it was cold outside, I sat in the hotel lobby alone with my USC beanie on and listened to music. Half an hour or so went by when I suddenly saw a girl waving at me. Seeing her luggage tag, I realized it was Jaclyn.

Jaclyn dropped her luggage at the hotel and we chatted for another half hour before going to lunch together. After that, Jaclyn had to do one of her many things during the two-day conference. As she left for her duties, I felt I got my money’s worth already because I was happy that she spent quite a bit of time with me.
 
I had a great time overall during the conference. I got to meet students from other occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs across the United States. I was also surprised that my name was mentioned during the conference opening address along with Jaclyn. Because of that, some of the students at the conference realized that I should be someone that they needed to connect with. Yet, I felt a hint of sadness because I knew the doubt and hopelessness would return once I flew back to Los Angeles.
 
God saw that and set up a miracle. The day after the conference concluded, I was ready to fly home to Los Angeles. Knowing that it was the Breeders’ Cup weekend, I arrived at the airport two hours early. Everything went smoothly as I went on to board my plane on time. However, a message from the pilot came notifying the passengers that there was a computer problem for the plane and the passengers were given the option to wait at the gate and reenter the plane once the problems were fixed.
 
I went outside with some other passengers. Anticipating the wait to be long, I listened to music in the lobby. I was so focused on my music that I missed the reboarding time. I was bummed because I was sure it would be very difficult to fly back to Los Angeles on that day because of the many people wanting to return home from the Breeders’ Cup. Fortunately, I was able to secure a return back to Los Angeles by that evening. However, I had to wait four hours for that flight.
 
Knowing that I screwed up, I was determined to not listen to music any more. I was able to find some conference attendees to get through my first hour of waiting. But, I was wondering how I pass time waiting for three more hours. 15 minutes after I had that thought, I saw Jaclyn passed by my gate. So, I went up and asked her about her flight. Her gate was nearby and she was two hours or so early herself for her flight. We satt at my gate and started chatting for almost two hours before we went our separate ways.
 
During that time, I vented to her what I had been going through since founding out about my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. After I was done venting, she gave me a pep talk. The thing I remembered from that pep talk was, “I had respect for you before we even met in person a few days ago for the first time. Now that you told me what you are dealing with, I respect you even more.”
 
As I reflected upon what she said to me on my flight home, I thought, “Did God just set this up so that He can talk to me? Did He provide me with someone who is so kind to help this lowly person? If I have a chance, I am more than willing to do what Jaclyn did to whoever You feel will need my help, Lord.” I was convinced of it because I knew the probability of this happening to me was very slim. Moreover, my doubt and hopelessness began to fade away.
 
Since that pep talk, I have done some extraordinary things in the occupational therapy world. Especially for an autistic individual. While I did not get all of the opportunities I wanted, the fact that I attempted these things and have achieved some successes got me a lot of respect from my occupational therapy peers and those who know me well in the autism community. Moreover, I felt the moment also motivated Jaclyn, too, because she has continued to achieve amazing things that leave me speechless!
 
To The Point:
We constantly need God in our lives. In times of hardship and despair, we will need God a lot more. Thing is- are we ready for God to speak to us during these times? Are we listening? Will we know that God is showing us the way through those around us? Will we be confident to march boldly on in our lives when God has spent time and spoken to us?
 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

The song: Desperate by Joy Williams:

Don’t go, I’m a homesick child
Just stay and talk to me
Even if it’s just for a while
Oh, I’m afraid of the dark
But You are the light
Stay by my side
Lord, without You …

I get a little desperate
Reaching our for Your love
I get a little desperate
To feel Your touch from above
I get desperate
Far away just won’t do
I’m hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

Oh, Lord, when You hung on that tree
You showed once and for all
That You were desperate for me
And I know You’ll be coming back soon
I hope time will fly, I’ll survive
But in the meantime …

I get a little desperate
Reaching out for Your love
I get a little desperate
To feel Your touch from above
I get desperate
Far away just won’t do
I’m hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

Don’t know what I did before You
Never really lived before You
And I want You to know that …

I get a little desperate
Reaching our for Your love
I get a little desperate
To feel Your touch from above
I get desperate
Far away just won’t do
I’m hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

I need You more in my life
I am hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

Blessings,
Bill Wong

#Autism #AutismSpeaks #Overcomer #Asbergers #AdultAutism #JoyInDespair

Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence – Jenni Catron

Christy:

**WINNER ANNOUNCED**

I’m so excited to announce Heather Snider as the winner of Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence by Jenni Catron!

Congratulations Heather!!! Email your mailing address and contact info to mytotallyother@gmail.com and I’ll get your book out to you ASAP!

If I don’t hear from Heather, a team member will choose another winner.

I wish I had a free book for each of you! This is a book you’ll definitely want in your arsenal. I love to read, and I love to learn. But, this book has “it”. It’s one of those books that really, truly make a difference in you and the world around you.

Originally posted on Christy Rawls :: Encouraging, Equipping, Empowering Others:

Clout.

We all have it.

Your clout is your God-given power and influence. You are uniquely made by God. When we discover and unleash our God-given influence – our clout – we position ourselves to lead with passion and purpose that DEFY our personal limitations. Defies it. Goes beyond. Soars way past anything we could ever imagine in our finite minds! Whew! That’s exciting!

I’m thrilled about a book that came out this week called Clout by Jenni Catron:

 

 

Clout: Discover Your God-Given Influence

 

Jenni’s leadership is outstanding. She is the Executive Director at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee where she leads the staff and ministries of 5 churches that has grown exponentially under her leadership. Her writing is full of heart and shows her desire to help us all grow exponentially! I was deeply encouraged. My book is covered in highlights.

I love what Jenni said here: “One of the…

View original 273 more words

Let God Overwhelm You Today

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I am your all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present Father.

You may feel lonely, but don’t believe it. You’re never far from Me.

I Am is always here – delighting in you, watching you, adoring you.

I know you better than you know yourself, and it brings Me great joy to show you My love. I pleasure in caring for you.

Come.

Let My love overwhelm you today….

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I am far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! Psalm 139:1-6

These are my notes from my devotion time today. His loving presence is wonderfully, fantastically, overwhelmingly, almost too much to handle. It makes you feel like you’re going to spontaneously combust! It’s miraculous. It’s where I crave to be all the days of my life.

Let God overwhelm you today.

Go ahead….invite Him in right now

Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence – Jenni Catron

Clout.

We all have it.

Your clout is your God-given power and influence. You are uniquely made by God. When we discover and unleash our God-given influence – our clout – we position ourselves to lead with passion and purpose that DEFY our personal limitations. Defies it. Goes beyond. Soars way past anything we could ever imagine in our finite minds! Whew! That’s exciting!

I’m thrilled about a book that came out this week called Clout by Jenni Catron:

 

 

Clout: Discover Your God-Given Influence

 

Jenni’s leadership is outstanding. She is the Executive Director at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee where she leads the staff and ministries of 5 churches that has grown exponentially under her leadership. Her writing is full of heart and shows her desire to help us all grow exponentially! I was deeply encouraged. My book is covered in highlights.

I love what Jenni said here: “One of the most important lessons we have to learn about unleashing our God-given influence is that it is not simply for our benefit. It is for God’s plan and purpose to be accomplished through us for the blessing of others.”

 

Right. On.

Each of us has the ability to change the world around us.

We all are capable in influencing others.

We all want to matter. We all want to know that our lives are making a positive impact on the world around us.

 

There are some common traps which short-circuit our clout. Jenni discusses seven clout killers and teaches us through scripture how to avoid these traps:

  • Confronting Fear
  • Understanding the Impact of Jealousy
  • Squeezing Out Scarcity
  • Identifying Insecurity
  • Purging Pride
  • Relinquishing Control

She doesn’t stop there. She goes on to share how we can cultivate our clout, making the most impact in our area of influence:

  • Discovering Your Identity
  • Developing Your Confidence
  • Defining Your Mission
  • Determining Your Passion

 

Thomas Nelson Books has graciously offered me a copy to give to one of you! And trust me, you will want to get in on this. The offer will end on Tuesday, January 28. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Wednesday, January 29. Enter to win by leaving a comment below. The book will be shipped directly from Thomas Nelson.

The Thomas Nelson Books team are amazing and they are giving away an iPad mini in celebration of Clout’s release! Here’s the link to the offer on the Clout website: go here

Don’t forget to leave a comment to win the book!

 

#discoverCLOUT #JenniCatron #Influence

 

 

 

 

Speak.

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No subject is unsuitable for discussion with GOD. Our tendency is to avoid certain subjects with GOD even though this not taught to us in scripture. 

It doesn’t take long when reading in the book of Psalms to discover a writer that went to GOD about everything. The good, the bad, the ugly. Even anger and vengeance. The anger expressed is intense and graphic – directed at GOD because they are intimately aware of GOD’s justice. Vengeance – or action taken as a result of something they have done – is to be carried out by God (Proverbs 20:22, Romans 12:19).

In Psalm 59, we see David’s angry outburst against Saul’s pursuit. The Man After GOD’s Own Heart never took personal revenge on Saul. He always freely spoke His mind to GOD, having confidence that He could sort out what was meant and what was felt. Pray with that same confidence – GOD can be trusted with your heart

Some of you haven’t suffered intense cruelty on a personal level, but love someone who has. And it hurts. Bad. Your heart breaks because, through no fault of your own, you weren’t there to rescue them when it happened. And you just want to stop their pain. You want to go back in time and rescue them. Just thinking of what your loved one endured stirs up so much emotion and grief. 

I’m holding your hand and saying I know. Boy, do I know. Let’s stand strong together and pray for GOD’s intervention. 

Speak

Yell. Whisper. Scream out to God if you want to. He can handle it. He can be trusted with your heart. He knows the real you and how you feel. No subject is unsuitable for discussion with GodSpeak up for them and advocate for them now (Proverbs 31:8-9).

Some of you have suffered such intense pain and hurt inflicted by others that you can’t breath…and still….years later….you are awakened by the same frightening nightmares. Like King Saul in Psalm 59, they chase you. The scars you bear are deep and wide. Your past isn’t your past because it’s right here. Right now. In your present. You’re dying inside. Your body physically can’t handle the secret anymore. It impacts everything about you – how you relate to everything and everyone in your life. 

I’m holding your hand and saying, I know. Boy, do I know. Don’t hide anymore. 

Speak.

Don’t keep quiet. Bring it out into the Light. Drag it kicking and screaming if you have to. Speak out. Scream it out with God if you want. No subject is unsuitable for discussion with God. He’s a big boy. He can handle it. He can be trusted with your heart. I see you. More importantly, GOD sees you. You will sing songs of victory over this. I’ll be even do a Jesus jig with you. 


Do not fear the scars. Do not fear the victory. 

When GOD heals you – and He WILL if you let Him – don’t be ashamed of the scars of life that GOD healed for you. When Jesus appeared to His disciples, He showed His scars openly. No one escapes suffering in this life. Even the innocent. Jesus was innocent. He connected with the disciples…with us…through His scars. He brought redemption through His scars. 

We all need to offer our scars to the world. Not only as proof of what we’ve been through, but as tangible proof of the healing power of Christ in our life. To show not only that we are human, but that we are healed. 

Someone is waiting right now for you to speak out and speak up. We connect to others through our scars – thereby connecting them to Christ through our scars. 

Speak.

We think we have to pretend the scars don’t exist and that we have it all together. Wrong. Lies. There is something intrinsically broken inside everyone. Jesus comes as the Great Physician. Jesus is redemption. The Rescuer. Restorer.


Sometimes He heals the scar completely and it isn’t seen anymore.

Sometimes He allows the scar to be seen as a reminder.

Someone is waiting to connect with you – and Christ – right now.

Speak.

Show them your scars. 

GOD still listens. 

GOD still answers.

GOD still heals. 

GOD still forgives. 

GOD still leads.

GOD still directs.

GOD still cares.

GOD still loves.

GOD is still here.

GOD is alive!

(Some of you are the very ones inflicting pain on others. Verbally, physically, emotionally, whatever. Stop. Now. Remove yourself. And run. Run to a professional. A hospital. The first police officer you see. Get away and run for help not from your problems. Run to GOD. Grace was made for people like you (Grace was made for all of us). He knows all about it anyway, and vengeance is still His. But, I’m standing here telling you that I’m having none of it. Stop what you’re doing and step away from that precious child, that precious girl or precious boy. That precious woman. That precious man. Whoever. I love them, and what’s more…GOD loves them. They are not yours to vent on, abuse, hit, take your own hurts and frustrations out on, or whatever else you are doing to them. Seek help. Seek a professional help. Stop. S.T.O.P. GOD will forgive you. But, you need to stop.) 

Sticks and Stones

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Words.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.

Lies.

Big.Lies.

Great.Big.Fat.Lies.

Ever said something in the heat of the moment and then instantly regretted it? Yeah, me too. You know exactly what I’m talking about. That crazy moment when you’ve lost all good senses and out it comes. And there it sits….looking just as ugly as it felt coming out. We’ve all done it.

*sigh*

Or, have you ever said something carelessly and had no idea the impact your words had?

Yep.

Words are important to God. God spoke all of creation into existence. God spoke. That’s all. And whatever He said, it happened.

God is serious about our words and how we use them, and we should be too. Our words have the power to influence and shape the world around us – physically and virtually- in a good and bad ways.

James talks about how our tongue is used for evil:

 

“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is a fire. A world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed or have been tamed by man. But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men , who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth, come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:5-12 NIV) “

But in Proverbs, we get to see how our words can bring light and a future!

 

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:11 NIV)

The lips of the righteous nourish many, but the fools die for lack of judgement. (Proverbs 10:21 NIV)

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body. (Proverbs 16:24 HCSB)

Before you speak – think:

Is it uplifting? Is it beneficial? Will it strengthen and encourage? Will it bring glory and honor to God? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it’s not something that should be voiced.

Let’s taste our words before we spit them out, shall we? Me and you. Deal? Deal.

There are SO many more verses on our words and how we can use them. I would encourage you to look them up! It’s so rewarding.

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I just can’t believe the people that GOD has blessed me with. Incredible. I had so much fun writing this with our dear, sweet Morgan. I’ve had a peek at a few ideas she has. You guys, I can’t even. You will be blessed. Can’t wait for you to see what’s coming.

Our writing team is growing. There’s room for you. Contact me with what you have and let’s talk.