Humble Yourself

He is able to humble those who walk in pride (Daniel 4:36)

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 14:11)

During my devotion time this morning, God reminded me to continue my journey through the book of Daniel which I started earlier this month, but I got a little sidetracked until I picked it back up again this morning. All I can say is if you have not read the book of Daniel recently, I encourage you to do so during this dry valley of a season we are all enduring. I am being reminded daily as I watch what is happening around the world, that we are out of control and the only One that is in control is the Most High, our Heavenly Father.

This is truly a humbling experience for those who know, believe, study and read the Word. This is a time of deep reflection, a sobering reality and a time for great sifting and shifting, if we really acknowledge what is going on. This is a time to order our steps, to focus on our relationship with God, to solidify our belief in our Savior, and to become more spiritually aligned to Him if we choose to open our eyes. And this is a time to ensure we starve pride and eat that humble pie.

As I read through the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, I thought about my own journey and times when I was humbled under His Mighty Hand and how it deepened my walk with Him. I remember times when I allowed pride to take residence in my spirit and how God disciplined me like a loving Father in order for me to submit my life to His will. I remember how painful that process was, but also how freeing as it relinquished the imaginary “control” that I thought I had.

When my hands and eyes moved from Daniel to the book of Luke, I read Jesus’ teaching on humility from the parable of the large banquet and it brought to mind so much, too much to discuss in writing but it reminded me once more how imperative it is for us to stay humble, especially now. I then thought to myself, “If humility was not a necessary requirement for our walk in this world, it would not have been mentioned over 70 times in the Bible.”

We do not know it all, God does. We are not in control, God is. We do not have it all together, God does. We cannot fix everything, God can and We are not the highest order, He is!

Stay Encouraged and Stay Humble under His Mighty Hand!

Forfeit the Flesh

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)

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Over the past few months, I have become more aware of the intense spiritual tug of war that is not only occurring all over the world, but within my own being. I have been challenged and pressured to continue to operate in the spirit when the flesh wants to do the opposite and this is reminding me of the importance to continue to die to self each day, to forfeit what the world says or thinks and continue to follow Him. But this is not easy, especially when there are so many out there whose intent is to hurt others and if I am not careful to resist the tactics of the enemy, I would speak out of a place that is not aligned with God, which will cause me to operate out of His will, which for me, especially in this season, is not a place that I want to be.

Can you relate? Are you under pressure and pruning, which is testing you and overwhelming you? If you are and you begin to succumb, think about your walk with Him, where that is headed versus where the flesh is trying to lure you into. Resist it. Resist the urge to walk in the flesh. No matter what someone says or thinks, it’s not about them, it’s about God and most importantly, your relationship with your Maker and what you believe. We have our own cross that we must bear. We have our own trial and tribulations that we must wear, but in the midst of this season of stress, stress what’s important: where will you go from here?

The deeper in God you go, the harder the enemy will try you. As you walk with God in mind, dead weight is left behind. As the wickedness becomes heavier and heavier and as you may be called to become more resolute in your beliefs, take up your cross, forfeit the flesh and walk with God, standing strong to resist what the devil is trying to place in your face in order to keep you from operating out of grace. Over the next week, focus on your spiritual walk. Strengthen your relationship with Him. Follow Him intently; WE HAVE A FIGHT TO WIN!

Stay Encouraged and Stay in Christ!

“I PRAY”

Pray Continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

My mom sent my husband and I two t-shirts last summer that read: “I PRAY“. I was not aware of its significance then, but wow have things changed since last summer. This t-shirt with just two simple words are so meaningful now and I am not sure if she knew what God was going to do through me but the words on this t-shirt have literally changed the trajectory of my existence.

At the top of the year, I committed to God to become more spiritually available, which to me required a heightened and intensified prayer life in order to grow deeper, to starve the flesh and to commit to being all in for Him; not knowing what was around the corner, but sensing a spiritual shift in the atmosphere.

I asked God for guidance in this area and about one week later as I scrolled online, I stumbled upon a message about the importance of not only tithing resources but also time. Now if you know me, I am person who appreciates time management so I began to become more intentional on doing just that. I started to tithe my time in the areas of being in His presence intentionally which began to manifest in the form of active prayer, not just for me but for others and with others all over the country and also now internationally.

My private time with Him has also changed. I used to sit in my office to read, study and pray but then early February, I felt the urge to get on my knees to pray and I have not left since. I even set my alarm clock to wake up 15 minutes earlier than normal to get into His presence and some days I lay prostrate before Him, praying for others, weeping over this world and praising His name. I cannot even begin to describe how this has changed my life and the life of those who pray with me and for me. I want to thank those who pray for me because I know how powerful and effective your prayers are, especially in this season.

So today, I encourage you to pray. If you have noticed, our world is shifting drastically and God hears our prayers. If you have not yet, find someone to pray with. This is impactful and life changing. And for yourself, pray continually. Not just in the morning or before bed, but throughout the day, before you get to work, as you are driving to the store, as you are getting ready for a meeting or wanting to respond to an email, text or social media post or before making decisions; pray.

Your prayer life is your lifeline to Him and if there were ever a time where praying for yourself and others is needed, it’s NOW. So do me a favor, if you are reading this, pray for me and send me a message and I will pray for you.

Stay Encouraged and Prayed Up!

Focused Forward

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Proverbs 4:25)

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

I am sure that I am not the only one, but recently, I have struggled with maintaining focused on what I am supposed to be accomplishing in this season. And as hurtful and uncertain these times are, I have had to dig deep recently to maintain momentum in order to endure this intense time of pruning, pressure and positioning. I must admit, it can be downright exhausting if I lose sight and begin to go down the rabbit hole of my emotions. This is also usually the moment when intensifying my time with God is needed in order for distractions to be impeded.

As I thought about focus and forward, two words that have been flashing in my mind like a neon banner, I started to consult His Word for assistance in order to fight through negative emotions that the enemy is trying to send my way. As always, God sent me exactly where I needed to be and also reminded me where to shift my attention: forward. He also reminded me how easily distracted I can get if I am not completely focused on what He is instructing me to do each day.

I believe He is telling us all this. Our world will never be the same again. We know this and I know like me sometimes you may wish for the “good ole days”. Well, in reading these verses, it was highlighted for me to look forward, to let go of what I need to and focus my attention on where God is directing me to. I encourage you as I am encouraging myself that if you find yourself having trouble focusing, direct your attention to the Almighty. He wants us all to win. He desires that we all press in, but that requires our laser focused attention and forward movement direction.

I know it can be a challenge and we will strain to do so some days, but in order for paradigm shifting to be produced, we must keep moving forward toward the goal eliminating any confusion and any excuse.

My question for you today is “What do you need to let go of and what do you need to press toward to?

Stay Encouraged and Stay Moving Forward, No Matter What.

Ctrl-Alt-Del

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)

I am sure we can all agree that there is so much negativity going on in this world right now. Everywhere you turn, everywhere you read, it can be hard to escape and this morning especially as I felt the heaviness of the consequences of evil, I needed a word and a reminder on what to focus on during this valley of the shadow of death. As I gathered my coffee and water heading to my office; my sanctuary of peace and the space where I pour my cares and troubles out to God, I asked Him to provide me with a verse to meditate on today and the days to come. He then directed me to use this scripture verse to “Ctrl-Alt-Del” any negative thoughts attempting to dampen my spirit.

The purpose of this common function that we use often when working on computers is to interrupt or pre-boot a computer system. When I thought about this as it pertains to my own life and mindset, I knew that I needed to focus on the good and to think on these things repeatedly. We have the ability to control what we put into our minds and if we allow the enemy to fill us with negative thoughts, then that will determine our actions and outcomes. Once we begin to think on something negative, we have the ability to use our free will to think of the alternative; something positive and to delete anything negative.

I know this is harder to do than to say. I get it and I am feeling the same way but if there were ever a time that we all need to read this verse and to focus our attention on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, any excellence, and anything worthy of praise, this is the time. I challenge you today and I am challenging myself as well to study this verse, commit it to memory, meditate on it throughout the day and when a negative thought or emotion begins to stir up commotion, control the outcome, think on the alternative and delete the negative.

Stay Encouraged and Think God Thoughts!

His Weapon of Mass Instruction

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

Guess what? We are in a battle. We have been in one for quite some time, but it’s intensifying all around. The increase in turmoil and disruption infiltrating organizational units, homes and minds is approaching its peak, which makes it critical to know the Word on an intimate level and to let it reside within you so that it becomes available when required of you.

As I thought about this Covid-battle that we are in, that is affecting us all in some way, shape or form, I began to yearn for knowledge about bible verses to prepare for spiritual warfare, because let’s be honest, this is a spiritual battle that we are standing in right now. The rhetorical question that came to mind was: “are we preparing ourselves so that we are able to withstand what is occurring and what is to come?

In order to answer that question, I like to first use my acronym for STAND. Stop To Apply Necessary Defenses. This defense is His full armor which is rooted in God and His Word. We have to be ready to use His Weapon of Mass Instruction to destroy what the enemy is trying to build: fear, hate, evil, confusion, divisiveness, despair, and defeat; just to name a few.

We must be so devout in the Word of God that we are able to even extinguish arguments that are against the knowledge of God. When I read that, I thought “wow that’s deep” and “God am I ready?” and then I kept reading and highlighted, “take every thought captive to obey Christ”. It did not say some thoughts, but every thought and that struck a nerve.  To me, this presented only one option; that in order to get ready, I must know the Word for myself in order stay obedient and to ensure my thoughts are in proper alignment to my assignment.

And what was so beautiful about marrying these two scripture selections together was that in order to hold our thoughts captive, which basically means to be in control of what one thinks, we have to seek the ultimate source of instruction in order to rightly divide what is true and what is false and make that part of our everyday life for application and for preparation.

I am not sure what you are fighting up against, but we are all fighting something. If you feel that it is bigger and stronger than you, know that it is not stronger than God but we must prepare ourselves for war by seeking the only weapon that not only carries spiritual protection, but will prevent us from being defeated in this desert of deception.

Stay in the Word and Stay Encouraged!

Transformation in Transition

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)

“Wow!”, I thought to myself as I read this verse, amazed at how thirty-five words can be so enlightening, especially in this season we are all enduring. This title has been on my mind for over two weeks now and I wrote down the concept in my journal knowing that eventually God would inform me what direction to go. After recently listening to a streaming message, I heard these two “T” words and then knew that it was time to write as God poured into me again with this Bible verse on my mind and deep within my spirit. I hope that you can join me on this journey for a bit about how we can apply what the apostle Paul is directing us all to do in this season of transition.

I think I told you in a previous blog post that I love to look up definitions of words. So, of course once again, I found myself looking deeper into the words transition and transformation. Transition according to my friend Google is defined as the “process or a period of changing from state or condition to another”, which to me, speaks volumes to where we are as a world. We have all had to make many transitions; from physical to virtual communication, from at school to at home learning, from socializing to solitude and from jet-setting to sheltering in place. It has been a lot and it can be overwhelming, but there is so much we can get out of our transitory period.

This time that we are facing together but separate, is a testing season. I think we all know this by now. We are being tested on all fronts; spiritually, financially, emotionally, and relationally. And I pray that we are all becoming more discerning about what God is speaking to us specifically as this world is upside down and inside out. But we must not be conformed to this world. We are in the world, but not of it and as you see there are more ideas, actions and attitudes that have become acceptable by the world’s standard but not by God’s and the only way for us to combat the flesh is by allowing God to transform us from the inside out.

In studying the word transformation, the idea of “metamorphosis” came to mind which is noted as a “process of change and development“. And in order to be transformed into who God needs us to be in this season and in the next, we must adjust our mindset to prioritize His will for our life and not the world’s. So as you journey through this season of transition, use the extra time that you may be given to seek God and ask Him to assist you on your transformation. We are all transforming during this time whether we like it or not. We will never be the same again, but the question is, who do you want to contribute to your radical change, the ways of the world or God and His Word?

Stay Encouraged as You Transform

Pre-existing Conditions

But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34)

Are You Ready?

I remember watching the news one day as additional information regarding SARS-COV2 aka COVID-19 became readily available. The news-anchor mentioned that individuals with “pre-existing conditions” i.e. asthma, hypertension and diabetes were considered to be more at risk to the complications associated with this microscopic virus. As time passed and as we are all collectively seeing, the number of people inflicted with COVID-19 is at an all-time high, with many mutations creating an array of clinical signs. And although these individuals who have “pre-existing conditions” were considered more at risk, this organism can affect any one at any time, highlighting the necessity to stay alert and heed the necessary precautions in order to escape this modern-day plague.

As this title became more and more alive to me this week, I thought about the “pre-existing conditions” that we need to work on in this life in order to be ready to stand before Him in the next. I know I am not the only one that senses a major spiritual shift in the atmosphere and how intensely dark the world is becoming so rapidly. To some, looking at this from a carnal lens approach, it may warrant fear, turmoil and angst, but for others who use their spiritual spectacles, recognize that this is a preparatory season. We can either panic or prepare. We can either be in turmoil or be in training. We can either work for Him or wallow in our worry.

What we do now in this life will influence where we go in the next. In thinking about your own life, what pre-existing conditions do you need to resolve with God? What areas in your life do you need to pray on that God moves in? What do you need to settle in this season of uncertainty? And what do you need the strength to escape?

As this verse in Luke so rightly states, we must pray that we have the strength to escape what is going to take place and in order for us to be in proper positioning, we must allow God in and make His will our priority; not the world. And quite honestly, the world that we once knew will never be the same, even as areas are relaxing standards and opening up venues.  We are all different. We see life differently. We have a new perspective on what is important and what is most pertinent in this time, is correcting those areas in our life that we need to in order to be with Him in eternity.

My last question for you to think on is, are you ready?

Stay Alert and Stay Encouraged!

Listen in Limbo

You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:4)

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The world right now is in an interesting place; everything is uncertain, any sense of normalcy discontinued and our state of affairs are out of order. In this time of being in limbo, where we all feel confused and on pause, we must be certain of where we stand with God and which side of the fork in the road we are walking because this determines where we go in the next leg of our journey, on earth and in heaven. In looking at this powerfully packed bible verse, we are reminded of the importance of listening in limbo.

In dissecting the text there were six important verbs or directives that are listed; walk, fear, keep, obey, serve, and hold. Walking requires active movement. When we walk anywhere, it’s generally toward something and this is the catalyst statement to the rest of this verse. If we are walking after the Lord, this means we are following Him and if we are following Him, we have deep respect or fear of Him. In order to respect God, we must retain or have possession of (the definition for keep) His instructions which are provided in His word. Keeping something means we have it with us and like the Word, which are His instructions, we must have that stored up within us in order for us to complete the next directive; obedience. Obeying God requires active listening and heeding. We cannot listen to Him if we do not humble ourselves to His leading and serve Him. 

Serving God in this season requires us to be selfless in our time of limbo. It requires us to die to self each day and to starve the flesh. There are probably opportunities presented to you everyday where you can be of service and now is the best time to take advantage of using what God has given you to be a blessing to someone else. Lastly, holding fast is another way of saying that we need to adhere to His principles which cannot be accomplished without obeying His voice or listening to His instruction. So, during this limbo period, use your time to actively listen, ask Him for His instruction, follow the way He is leading and obey the commands He has written.

Stay Encouraged!

Cast it and Leave it

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV)

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I discussed in a previous blog post that the virtual prayer group that God led me to develop almost one year ago expanded to include a group of wonderful ladies. Last Tuesday, during our “chat and pray” session, one of my sisters in Christ (thank you in advance!) said something that inspired the title for today. To paraphrase, she mentioned that she needed a reminder to cast her burdens and leave it with God. This struck a chord in my spirit and I heard Him whisper and felt the nudge which is why you are reading this right now and most likely you can relate to this in some way in your own life.

I am sure I am not the only one that experiences the emotion of anxiety every so often in this season of solitude. Well, according to an article published on Medscape by Pauline Anderson, “A national survey from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) shows COVID-19 is seriously affecting Americans’ mental health, with half of US adults reporting high levels of anxiety”, which is to be expected in the face of a pandemic. Although this seems to be appropriate, we all know that anxiety can be debilitating if we do not address it or discuss the root cause for its existence.  I then went to the what I like to call the “Weapon of Mass Instruction”, the Bible to find a verse that would provide guidance on what to do when anxiety begins to force its way in.

As I perused through the pages of 1 Peter 5, my eyes fixated on these two powerful verses that we can put into practice as we are on pause. I noticed two important commands that prompted me to dissect further. Peter’s order to first humble ourselves provides so much clarity because it makes us aware that we are not in control. I am not sure if it is just me, but during the past month, I am becoming more and more mindful that this crisis is much bigger than us and there are things which I can control such as socially distancing and doing my part, but what I cannot control, I must cast out. I then thought of why I might feel anxiety and this pointed to the human nature to want to be in control of everything that happens, which if you think about it, it is impossible.

Next, I gazed at the word casting and thought, “what does that really mean? And how can I apply that to my life right now?” So of course, I went to the internet and searched Dictionary.com and found a definition that is so fitting; “to throw something forcefully in a specified direction”. I read it again and let it sink in. I then re-read the verses and it just made perfect sense. I need to be more cognizant that during this era of COVID-invasion, what I cannot control, I must cast, I must give it over to God, because He truly does care for me and for you too. What an encouraging thought to take away.

And yes, I know it is easier said than done, but during this crisis and calamity, we have to realize that God is control. He is. He truly is. I am not sure what you are facing today, but we are all facing something that seems bigger than us, which it is, and which is why we need Him. So as you continue on, press in to Him, humble yourself under Him and whatever is bringing you anxiety and worry, let it down so He can pick it up.

We are not in this by ourselves and if there were ever a source that we need to stick to during this age of anxiety, to help us destroy any feeling of defeat, it is His word and the promises that are so practically detailed for our application in every situation. The next time you begin to start to feel anxious, cast it and then do this one last thing, leave it. He’s got it.

Stay Encouraged!