Grace in the Wilderness

This is what the Lord says: “The people who survived the sword found favor in the wilderness when Israel went to find rest”. Jeremiah 31:2 (BSB)

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I know when reading this title you may be thinking the same thing as I did when I wrote this down a few months ago-“What a paradox”. I thought that too but even more recently, I have come to appreciate the grace of God in the midst of the wilderness. The wilderness can represent many facets in our life. It can be a place where we are being pressed, a season of trauma healing, a period of wrestling, a moment of loneliness, a time of pruning or a walk in uncertainty-all of which we usually do not want to experience but are essential for our growth.

And if we think about the wilderness season as a time of deep introspection and dwelling in God’s presence, even in isolation, we can see the hand of God in our life. And although in the moment, we may feel like we are the only ones who had to journey through the desert place, we are not. If we look back on the life of Moses and Abraham, the people of Israel, John the Baptist and even Jesus Himself, they all had to endure that time in their life to propel them into their next phase. The same goes for both me and you.

I believe we are all in this place in some way shape or form, and we all need to seek the Holy face of God as we make our way through our process. Our life is a continuous journey that ebbs and flows, that is high and low, that is up and down and that is vibrant and dull. If you are in what you anticipate as the low in your life or a walk in the wilderness, thank God for His grace in the wilderness. God will give us what we need- even what we think we do not want in order to uproot us out of the limitations in our mind. Be patient in your wilderness, have faith in God in your journey, listen intently when He speaks and do not be afraid to go the distance in your desert like experience. This too shall pass and God is molding you to be built to last.

Stay Encouraged.

Seek Him. Obey the Call. Complete Your Assignment

Move in Mercy

Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had on you? Matthew 18:33 (BSB)

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Mercy. I know you have heard of that word before and maybe have used it many times. When I read this verse this morning, I asked myself a question that I will rhetorically ask you: “Are you moving in mercy?” You might be asking yourself, what does that really mean, as I did as well. If I am being transparent, I know that there are times when the need to move in mercy should occur more frequently if I allowed the Holy Spirit to operate effectively.

But what is mercy really? I am glad you asked. A befitting definition that I recently read in the book Life in Tension by Dr. Stephen W. Hiemstra, describes that mercy has the “same root as compassion and is closely related to forgive”. And being merciful means “being concerned about people in their need”. Jesus is an example of demonstrating mercy at the highest level by dying for our sins. If we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus on the earth today, what does that tell us about how we should model after Him?

Jesus came for us, sinners. He came for those who hated Him, who did not and do not believe in Him and those who would and will deny Him. In reading over this verse, which is based on a parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18: 21-35), I felt the stir to examine my own heart and actions regarding mercy. I pray that we not only have the word mercy as part of our repertoire, but that our ability to move in mercy becomes a core component of who we are.

Stay Encouraged.

Seek Him. Obey the Call. Complete Your Assignment

Growth Mindset

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundations from dead works, and of faith in God. Hebrews 6:1 (BSB)

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. 1 Peter 2:2 (BSB)

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A few weeks ago, I wrote down these words as I started brainstorming a talk that I will be delivering in a few weeks. When I scribbled down these two words in a prayer journal, and remembered the term originally coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, I felt a stirring to explore further. When describing the growth mindset, it is often contrasted with a fixed mindset. To sum up the differences, individuals harnessing a growth mindset believe that talent and intelligence can grow with practice and experience. On the contrary, fixed mindset believers, believe that those same qualities are fixed and cannot be changed.

As I thought about that in the context of worldly living, it was as if God was providing me additional emphasis of the importance of possessing a growth mindset spiritually. I even thought about the differences between Apostle Paul and the Pharisees. Paul shifted dramatically and continued to grow in God for the sake of the kingdom. The Pharisees were stuck in religious traditions and missed the mark of transformation and salvation.

Growing in understanding, experiencing God daily, meditating on His Word continually and applying it to life consistently are avenues that not only provide access to spiritual development, but as we mature, we will constantly be developing more and more into the person that God sees, not what the world wants. We can try and live “holy” or be “righteous”, but without faith in God and belief that Jesus saved us, then those are just works that come from human effort instead of authentic commitment.

The Pharisees modeled dead works often and represented the fixed mindset category. Although Jesus was standing right in front of them, based on previous knowledge about carpenter Jesus, they could not see Christ Jesus. As we are all walking out our own salvation each day, ask God for the desire to grow in maturity and shift our mindset to living in liberty.

Stay Encouraged.

Seek Him. Obey the Call. Complete Your Assignment

Consider the Lilies

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:28-30 (ESV)

Gods Beauty

About one week ago, I went for a walk and decided to take pictures of the arrangement of flowers that were seen throughout my journey. One after one, I marveled at the colors and the uniqueness of each flower, petal and position. As I made my way to a stopping point, I flipped through my camera in awe of the beauty that God creates. I sat on a cut down tree watching the waves from a distance as the nearby seagulls dove head first into the tide to retrieve their breakfast.

I started to think about these verses and quickly found it on my Bible app and read the words as I revisited the pictures on my phone. I gazed up in the blue landscape with paint brush appearing clouds and took a deep breath. I thanked God and was immensely grateful and humbled in that moment realizing how small I was compared to His vastness, but that He is just so mindful of me. It was in that moment, when a charge of renewed faith stirred within me, crowding out any anxiousness and entering the warmth of the sun and His comfort.

In this season, as we are all undergoing many transitions, uncertainty, restlessness and immense shifting, let us remember who God is and think about why we succumb to worry. Our faith will be challenged today and moving forward but just look at the lilies, the birds and even the creepy crawling things around you. God takes care of them and so He most certainly will look after all of us too.

Stay Encouraged.

Seek Him. Obey the Call. Complete Your Assignment.

Stationed in the Kings Court

To these four young men God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and wisdom; Daniel also had insight into all visions and dreams. (Daniel 1:17)

and the king spoke with them. And among them all, no one was found to compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they were stationed in the kings court. (Daniel 1:19)

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Yesterday afternoon, I was washing dishes and thought about the story of Daniel. Little did I know that this would be the story that would be part of my Bible reading in my devotional time this morning. It’s pretty amazing when the Holy Spirit gives you a download of what is coming before you even realize that that is what that is.

I was meditating on Daniel and his BFF’s because I am becoming more aware of the times we are in and what may be required of us sooner than later. It was like God was reminding me to stand firm and to not back down. I felt God reminding us all that who He calls qualified is so; not what “man” thinks.

If God can give these four men extended capacity wrapped in all the knowledge and wisdom that they would need to be given in their role to work directly at the kings station, imagine what He can do for you right now. We are in some pretty dynamic times; filled with intense darkness but also extreme light.

That light is in you and me. Do not be surprised if God places you in big rooms that you were not expecting to be standing in. Do not question whether you belong there or not? You do because He sent you there. Just allow Him to operate fully through you without the fleshy you discounting who you are in this season. As you begin to flow with what He has provided for you to withdraw from, you will become acutely aware, of the why and the reason.

Stay Encouraged.

Seek Him. Obey the Call. Complete Your Assignment.

Many Dwelling Places

Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself so that where I am you may be also. John 14: 1-3 (HCSB)

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I do not know about you, but if this message as many describe as the “Farewell Discourse” from Jesus is not needed today, right now, I do not know what is. Jesus knew precisely what His disciples needed to hear in that moment, knowing that His death was imminent and that His followers were deeply troubled. He gave them and (us) a clear directive, to ensure that our heart is not disturbed, even when so many disturbing events are occurring all around.

When reading these verses this morning, I imagined the dwelling places in our mind and how that impacts our heart. If our heart is troubled, then most likely our mind is as well. If we focus on all the things around us vying for our peace, we lose the peace that Jesus gives us freely, not the counterfeit version from this maladjusted world.

If we forget that this space that we walk in each day is temporal and fickle, we will not hold on to the promises of God. And God is not one to break a promise right? It may be hard for us to comprehend this because we are human and people break promises everyday, but God is outside of time and space and everything He is doing or what we are seeing, He foreknew .

Today, focus on the dwelling places that Jesus speaks of awaiting us all. We can either be caught up by world or caught into His presence. So you have a choice to make. Which one brings you more joy? Which one brings you more peace? Which one covers you with love? Which one honors the covenant between you and Him? And which one is more concrete?

Seek Him. Obey the Call. Complete Your Assignment.

Stay Encouraged.

Keep Watch over Your Words

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3) BSB

Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21) BSB

Speaking rashly is like a piercing sword , but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18) BSB

Use Words to Uplift

Our Words. This topic has been on my mind and within my spirit for weeks now and I have noticed how the Holy Spirit is beginning to reveal to me more and more the power that they carry. Over the last couple of weeks, I have found myself listening more intently to what others are saying (and “not saying”), what thoughts come to my own mind in discussion and my response in return. I have realized that in some of our frivolous conversations, that we can be negatively impacting our own environment by what we place in the atmosphere.

I am not sure if it’s just me, but I have noticed how much more derogatory others words are becoming and the impact that that may have in my own thoughts. If not careful, I can say something in a response that I wish I could take back immediately, which is why I believe that these verses and so many others pertaining to this topic (Isaiah 55:11) have been stirring within my spirit as a reminder and gentle rebuke, to keep watch over my words.

Our words have the power to build up or tear down, to plant or uproot, to encourage or destroy and to give life or death. The consequence of our action of speech depends on our free will and what we decide to do with those words. In a world built on sensationalism, immediate reactions, hate talk and constant opinions fueled in judgements and covered in ego and envy, I pray that we do not lose our way and get led astray by the deception in dialog occurring in these last days.

I encourage you as I am myself to watch over the words that occupy our space each day. Pray over the atmosphere that you are in. Remember who you are representing. We are to be a light in ever growing darkness. What we say to each other and to our selves about others and even about ourselves, will not return to us void. Consider the light that is within. Do not dim it based on conversation, but use your words inspired by the Good Word to intensify the needed positive illumination.

Stay Encouraged.

Seek Him. Obey the Call. Complete Your Assignment.

The Power of Your Thorn

So to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it way from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness”. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12: 7-9


Question for you today: Have you ever prayed to God to remove something from you that has not been answered yet or fulfilled? If you have and answered yes, then you are not the only one. I have been thinking about that recently after reading more about judgments and forgiveness. It was something that I have been musing on more deeply as we watch the world becoming more radically judgmental and less forgiving.

My mind went back to this verse and I heard someone talking about this verse last week, I think in part as a reminder for me, but maybe also for you. I remember a time in my life when I would ask God over and over to remove some behavior or thinking that I thought was blocking my ability to deepen my relationship with Him, but to be honest, it actually strengthened my dependence in Him, which ironically drew me closer to Him.

Why? How? You may be asking. Well, it made me even more reliant on His guidance and support to let what needed to be stamped out of my life to be done in His timing, not in my fleshly conquest. And as you can see, we are not alone in this journey. Even Paul ( formerly known as Saul) battled with something that led to his boasting in Christ. This same Paul who wrote 2/3rds of the New Testament, was weak in an area that only power of God could strengthen.

Although we do not know what Paul’s thorn was, we know what ours is right? We all have one. It makes us human. It makes us relatable to others. It makes us look at our plank more than the speck in someone else. It makes us more reliant on the power of the Holy Spirit and it shows us that when we are weak, then He is strong. Instead of feeling shame, regret, or perturbed by your thorn, thank God for being made in His image and for the opportunity to be revived in His presence and to receive His power and belief in Him to be reborn.

Stay Encouraged.

Seek Him. Obey the Call. Complete Your Assignment.

The Cloud & The Light

In the daytime He led them with a cloud, and all night long with a fiery light. Psalm 78:14

I was thinking about God’s leading recently after having a conversation with a friend. She was questioning hearing or seeing God in this murky season that we are all encountering. I recounted a few times where I specifically sensed God steering me in a direction unbeknownst to others around me and gave her a list of ways that I began to become even more intentional about hearing and moving in the way that He advised; even when it meant a season of loneliness or wilderness.

This brought me back to this verse. God was leading the Israelites during their wilderness experience. They had a physical manifestation to cling to day and night and they were led accordingly. What I came to realize during this time of reflection is that to be led requires humility, not pride. Many times we miss what God is trying to convey because of our own inability to submit and obey.

In reading this verse and seeing how God led them all day and all night, it made me even more aware of the importance of being led by the Holy Spirit during this season. Just as the Israelites had the pillar of cloud and the fire of night to guide them, God has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to direct us, to speak to us, to show us what to do through His Word, to give us wisdom, provide discernment and insight along our very personal journey in life.

Let us all be led and fed by the Holy Spirit.

If God gave Him as a guide for us to use, then He knows what’s ahead and understands the critical importance of what path to correctly choose.

Seek Him. Obey the Call. Complete Your Assignment.

Stay Encouraged

The Speck vs The Plank

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3-4 (NIV)


I took a bit of a pause in writing over the past couple of weeks, but yesterday as I wrote notes in my journal at church, I stumbled upon this title that I must have written about one month ago. I thought during my devotional time that I would be reading a book that I found on our bookshelf, but the Holy Spirit led me to sit down and write. So here we are- you reading this and me writing this.

I think over the past few months in listening to what others are saying whether between the lines or outright, passing judgements is becoming more and more overt. If not careful, one may find themselves either judging in secret or in public, but the question that I pose is, would Jesus approve? When I asked the questions to myself, I could feel the conviction in my own past diction and thought pattern leading me to repent for my own wrong doing.

In our daily experience, we will encounter those who we may not particularly care for and who we believe are wrong, but we must be careful to observe whether we are falling into the trap of judgements either in our mind or dialect and ask God to remove the bitter fruit of that entrapment.

If we honestly look at ourselves in our own mirror, we can see our own plank that needs correction. I know I require help from the Holy Spirit in this area as my flesh desires to react, but my spirit overrules to respond in love. When we posture ourselves in this manner and consider all that God has forgiven us for, how can we judge others? Makes you sit back and think right?

I pray that today and each day moving forward we can both remove our own plank with His help and guidance, see past the speck of others, lead with love and overdose with grace.

Stay Encouraged. Seek Him, Obey the Call, Complete Your Assignment.