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!

Courage in the Crisis

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

“One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as He promised you.” Joshua 23:10 (ESV)

“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.” Joshua 23:14 (ESV)

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Over the past few days I have kept hearing the word “courage” within my spirit and then saw this word in front of me during my Bible reading time as I make my way through the book of Joshua. What was even more ironic, or more so divinely aligned was that about one month ago, I found a bible study reading plan on this book that I never completed. I picked up the book and scanned my brain as I perused through the lesson plans, trying to devise a time when I would be able to use and apply it. Well, here we are and now what a mighty word courage truly is, especially during these unsteady times.

As you may or may not know, I love to study and when I see a word that speaks to me, I look up different definitions that may ring a bell and widen the scope of my perception. In searching the word on dictionary.com, two definitions stuck out which I believe are applicable during this period of history in the making. The first definition is the “ability to do something that frightens one” and the second is “strength in the face of pain or grief”.  I then understood why God commanded Joshua several times to be strong and courageous because strength is a pre-requisite for courage. And if there were ever a time when both are needed, it is right now.

I am not sure what you may be facing or embracing that is frightening, but I know God has a word and promise for us all. If you have time during your isolation season and if like me, you need courage during the crisis, read the book of Joshua. It literally points out God’s commands, what He spoke over His people and the fulfillment of those promises. When He spoke to Joshua in the 1st chapter, Joshua was taking over leadership from someone whom everyone respected that had just died; Moses. I imagine that Joshua may have considered himself not qualified, but God commanded Him to be that which He was calling him to be.

What is God commanding you to do during this “Covid-crisis”? If He can create a leader out of one person who would bring His chosen to the land He promised, then what do you think He can do through you? What scares you most about this season of seclusion and what promise is God trying to fulfill in your life right now?  God will give us the courage we need to confront our fears, but we must do what He has commanded us to complete. This act of obedience is tied to our blessing and if He can call Joshua up to the forefront, then imagine where He may be preparing to send you?

Stay Encouraged in Him!

A Pregnant Pause

Have you been wondering lately what God is trying to convey to you in this season we are all in or is it just me? I had a recent conversation with a group of friends that I pray with every Thursday evening and I mentioned that I felt like I was on pause and needed prayer in order to learn the lesson that I need to learn to graduate to the next level that God is taking me to. Although there is so much happening all around us and its literally hard to keep track of what is the latest guidance, I also sense a pause in the world that is divinely connected to our purpose and the will that God has for our life.

Yesterday morning, I listened to a sermon and the pastor literally mentioned the word “pause”. My ears perked up since I said the same word the day before which made me even more intrigued that I felt this, someone said it and that God was trying to convey something to me in that moment. During these uncertain times, I have been reading more Psalms lately because I can so relate to the words that are pouring out like a river flowing, often creating additional conversation between me and God. After reading this verse, I asked Him what He wanted me to take away from this and it was right there in bold letters: “be still and know.”  

When I first analyzed the “be still” part, I thought about the journey as a moment of pregnancy when the development and incubation of a precious person or animal is being molded and formed in order to be released into the world. I then sensed that during this time where we must stay in and isolate from others, that God wants us to be still; not lazy or distracted, but still. In this stillness, He can communicate to us on a different frequency if we receive it, which can birth beauty out of the ashes we experience daily.

As I settled into this, I then reviewed the next statement “and know that I am God.”  I mean, I know that He is God, but when I read it again and again, I felt it. It was peace. Knowing who God is in your life provides us with the encouragement we need to get up each day and to embrace what we are to face. If we allow Him in to actually create the metamorphosis in our life right now as we are being separated and perhaps set apart for something greater, then, like the end of a pregnancy, we will give birth to something that only God can place in us. As you continue your coping in quarantine, try meditating on this scripture verse for the next seven days and ask God to reveal the “be still and know” part of the verse on a personal and intimate level.

As we enter into the second trimester of this year, create space to be still in His presence and to know that He is God, your God, our God now and forever more.

Stay Encouraged!

Be Stirred, Not Shaken

“Not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word..” 2Thessalonians 2:2-3 (ESV)

All I can say is that it has been an interesting few weeks. I think we all can agree that life as we know it will NEVER be the same. It can rattle the mind and distress our spirit if we are not careful and over the last few days as I watched the news, read social media posts and studied the statistics regarding the rate at which this virus is increasing, I thought to myself, “if we are not rooted in faith in our God, this will shake us to our core.”

This is a season where anything that can be shaken will be shaken. We see it all around us. Every man made foundation is being shaken right now and any sense of normalcy has been altered and we as a people have had to make life altering adjustments in order to bear it all. I do not know if you experienced this, but March especially this year has felt extremely long and tortuous to me and if I did not believe in the God I serve who is FAITHFUL, I do not think I would be able to handle all of this.

I am not diminishing those feelings of concern and uncertainty and when I began to sense my spirit becoming off-balanced, I have to go right to the source; God and the Bible, in order to turn down the dial of fear. God led me to read the book of 2 Thessalonians this morning and after reading this letter to the church of Thessalonica, I recognized how aligned it is to what we are experiencing today and that we must really ready ourselves for what is next and know what we believe and who we really serve.

I encourage you to seek God to stir you up from the inside out. Prepare your mind and spirit through His leading. Focus on using your gifts in these challenging times to be a portal of energy and light for someone else. Remember who your God is, what He has said about you concerning your life and the promises that He has given you through His Word. Stand firm in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13) and do not be shaken, be STIRRED by His Spirit within you.

Stay Encouraged!