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Who Are You???

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“God is not calling you to an uncertain future. Let the discovery of your identity be an adventure.”

If you were to try and imagine a stranger, someone that you had never met, you would not be able to do it. Too many unknown variables. Sounds strange right.

The person that God is calling you to be is someone that you have never met. Thus you have no frame of reference for imagining this person.

When you meet someone for the first time, more than likely, you put your best foot forward because you expect an amicable meeting. As you do not know the person, you are unable to judge them on an unknown past. It is a clean slate. You cannot form opinions based on who they are now or what they may have done in the past because you do not know.

For the new person that God wants us to become, we must also do just that. We tend to let past experiences or current actions taint the image of a future self. This results in the attitude of “Nope. Not me. I can’t do that.” or “Are you sure?”

Paul wrote that we are to forget the past and be drawn forward by the new future (Phil 3:13 -14); that higher calling.  Christ says that in Him we are a NEW creation (2 Cor 5:17): recently made, fresh, recent, unused, unworn, of a new kind, unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of. (ALL WOW and ALL YOU!!!)

Let discovery of the new with God be an adventure. You CAN be what He wants you to be and do what He asks of you.

This new person is unveiled over time. It’s not like going from inside to outside. One minute here and the next, there. It is a journey. It may not happen as quickly as you might like. There will be struggles and tests and victories and the peace of God to over shadow it all.

Our cooperation is a determining factor in the length of the journey.

You may have heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, or have a strong sense from the Word or have been given a prophetic word regarding the plans that God has for you.

You may even have set out on this journey all bright eyed and bushy tailed only to face falls, failures, disappointments, and you have to believe that God still loves you and wants the best for you.

The thing is, God has already seen that new person. He knows what they look like. He sees the strength that has been built and the faith that has been cultivated and the gifts that have been discovered. He also sees where the chains were broken and where deliverance came and where burdens fell away.

So He is not calling you to an uncertain future. He is certain that you will be that person as long as you put your trust in and walk with Him. No matter how much like a fantasy it seems.

Remember, stop trying to picture this new person and giving definitions of what they are to resemble. You have NO frame of reference. You have no idea what God will do and how he will lovingly form and shape you, once you are in His hands.

Jump in!!! Feet first!!! You know He will catch you!!! Or fly with you. Or keep you afloat.

Ok God, so what now? Where do we go? What do we do next?

He is calling you forward but in all things be sure to count the cost. God wants all of you.

So be excited; not scared.

Don’t  imagine all the ways things could go wrong cause you are not God. There is no way that you could possibly know that.

I recently learned this saying: Stop borrowing trouble; which basically means stop worrying about something that you have no idea how it will turn out.

We can be quick with our ‘what ifs’. Just trust Him and be lead.

You are not your past. Your definition comes from your future. God’s future for you. His purpose for you.

Remember :

Don’t doubt Him. God knows the plans He has for you –  Jer 29:11

Don’t let the fear of failing stop you from moving. You may fall 7 times – Prov 24:16, Psa 37:23-24

Don’t think you know it all. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him – Isa 64:4; 1 Cor 2:9

Don’t set limits. He is able to do far more abundantly beyond what we ask or thinkEph 3:20, Isa 55:8-9

Don’t try to do it in your own strength. Humble yourself under His mighty hand and in due time He will lift you up – 1 Pet 5:6-7

 

My prayer for all of us, is that we believe the infallible Word of God. The Word that speaks of who we are to God and who God has called us to be in Him. That we know that He cannot lie and that if He says something about us, then it is so. That we know that His Words are meant to comfort and not condemn, to lift us up and not pull us down; to cause us to see the truth and to desire His truth in our lives. That I know and that you know, undoubtedly, unashamedly, that He loves us beyond all measure and will reach out to us and draw us to Him. Let God – not this world, ourselves, other people – define us.

By Marisse Cropper

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In Christ alone!!!

  
Life is so beautiful! Yes, there are peaks and valleys, losses and gains and often many hard knocks. These experiences may try to lead us down a path of worry and fear..but when we wrap it all up in Christ, we can win over worry and have perfect peace. 
Here are four common road blocks that can cause us to stumble and how we can kick them to the curb through the power of Christ in us!

The waiting game –

You may be praying for healing for yourself, a loved one or a relationship. Financial breakthrough may be long in coming. A business idea or a dream you have may not yet be fulfilled..and it’s been yearrrrrs. Or maybe you don’t think you are making sufficient progress in your Christian walk. 

Sometimes it feels as if nothing is happening but take heart..Christ is always working and He always finishes what he starts. He is the Alpha and Omega, He’s at the beginning and sees things through to the end so we need not worry when things seem to be at a standstill. We can lay hold of peace knowing that Christ in us began a good work and He will be faithful to complete it!

Lack –

Don’t look at what you don’t have in the natural..set your spiritual eyes on all that you have in Christ!!! 

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands John 3:35 

When we are in Christ we have all things because He has all things. We can have access to His all-sufficiency through prayer and relationship with Him. Let’s read His words daily and let them sink into our hearts..then ask according to His word and see great things happen!!!

John 15:7(NKJV) If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

Relationship difficultiesProv 16:7 The Message (MSG) When God approves of your life, even your enemies will end up shaking your hand.

Don’t you just love this promise? When we dwell in Christ and seek to do His will daily, God will make even our enemies live at peace with us. Many of us can testify to this!! God is a peace-maker. He can either change that spouse or difficult boss or relative..or change us, giving us such love for them that they are converted by our love. Christ in us is the one who at the height of His pain said ..”Father forgive them.” As we do His will, He will bring peace to our relationships!! 

Fear of the unknown –

Regardless of what our past experiences have been…when we are in Christ we can settle in ourselves that everything that comes our way is filtered through Christ first. We are completely hidden in Him and covered in His love, wisdom and power. While we physically live in this world, we dwell in Christ’s world! He holds, keeps and shields us!

Colossians 3:1-4 (NKJV) If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

So let’s do a little word maths here?  Being in Christ = perfect love = no fear = perfect peace! 

Whether or not you’re a huge maths brain, that equation is one we can all definitely grasp!!!  So if you’re stuck in a pit of fear and worry we want to invite you to pursue these truth with us daily.

Let’s pray together: Lord I ask you to dwell in me so that all that you are and all that you have is mine! I want to dwell in your perfect love which casts out all fear. I want to win over worry and have your perfect peace so that others may see you in me and be changed, glorifying our Father in heaven. In Jesus’ name..Amen!

Click to enjoy this beautiful worship song In Christ Alone
Have a great week everyone!

By Carol-angel Jackson & Adrian Reid.

Stop Doubting Your Value (Part Two)

 Luke 12:7

Happy Saturday! Hope you had a great week. Here’s the second part of this wonderful series by Gwen Smith of Girlfriends in God.

Friend to Friend
In part one of this devotion, we looked at the doubts and insecurities that cause us to question our significance and value. We also examined the Biblical truth that validates both. 

Today we’ll look to see what Jesus had to say about this topic and reflect on why this matters in the grand scheme of God’s purpose for your life.

When it comes to knowing the value God places on us, let’s turn to Jesus’s comments about sparrows. Do you know much about these little birds? They’re a dime a dozen. Highly common. Highly overlookable. The way many of us women might feel on any given day.

Look at what Jesus had to say in reference to both ordinary little sparrows (and you):

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6–7)

For context, Luke 12:1 tells us that Jesus was addressing “a crowd of many thousands” when He spoke of the value God sees in each person. Many thousands. The rich. The poor. The average. The misfits. The bland. The spicy. The employed. The unemployed. The talented. The crippled. The lonely. The well. The sick. The married. The widowed. The single. The stressed-out. The curious. The masses! This wasn’t just a pat on the back to encourage His besties! He was talking to the gamut of humanity. This is important because it makes the words He spoke that much more amazing.

Think about what He said! “You know those sparrows that are sold in the marketplace for next to nothing? Those overpopulated little flyers? My Father doesn’t forget even one of them! He remembers them all.”

You know what this means, don’t you?

He remembers and sees you too.

You. Have. Value.

You are not forgotten by God. He sees everything about you—even your screw-ups and failings and fears and doubts—and He finds value. I don’t love my children any more or less because of the way they dress or because of how well they can sing, throw a football, play chess, or pray publicly. God doesn’t love you and me any more or less because of what we can or cannot do, or because of how good or bad we are either. He loves us because we are His. Made in His image. Fashioned by His heart. Believe it. Even if your life wasn’t planned in the heart of your parents, it was planned in the heart of God. You are His, and He remembers you, by name.

You, me, and the stars. He knows us all by name: “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names” (Ps. 147:4 ESV).

God cares for and knows all about you. He knows how you like your coffee or tea. He knows your weaknesses and insecurities. He knows all of the things that make you unique, even if you’re an identical twin! He knows the things that make you tick, the quirky things, the things that cause you to beat yourself up, and the things that put a fire in your belly. And He knows how many hairs are on your head. Incredible!

And Jesus didn’t stop there. He looked those people eyeball to eyeball and told them, You … and you … and you … and you … and you … and you … are worth more than a whole mess of sparrows!

God really is that into you.

Because you are His. Handcrafted with divine devotion.

I can’t help but notice that before Jesus told the people how valuable they were to God, He said, “Don’t be afraid” (Luke 12:7). Don’t be afraid? Why would Jesus say that?

I wonder if it was because He knows that many of us are afraid that our lives don’t matter. We fear insignificance. We worry that our contributions are dumb, weak, and worthless. I wonder if it was because He sees beyond the prodigal to the potential, and He wants us to stop listening to those other voices and let Him—our Creator—tell us our value.

And I wonder if some of us might be afraid of God’s love. Afraid to be defined by His grace. Afraid to be refined by His holiness … to be set free, because those old chains that bind and hinder are our normal.

Jesus made it clear: In God’s eyes, you are of great value. You are loved, cherished, seen, and adored.

You are more than your health. You are more than your abilities. You are more than who other people say you are. You are more than your doubts and insecurities lead you to believe.

  • No one understands the insecurities of a woman like another woman. I’m with you in the battle, friend. I’ve wasted a fair amount of time searching for significance in the approval of others and of God. The secret to finding our significance is knowing God’s heart for us. Once we understand that we are significant to Him, we can move forward in the purpose He has for us—because every life has a purpose.

Let’s Pray
Lord, Thank You for always remembering me and for loving me for who I am and for where I am. Please help me accept this truth when I doubt my value. In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Stop doubting your value (Part 1)

  
This devotional is a repost from Gwen Smith of Girlfriends in God. Be encouraged by the way God loves you and know that you are His child and you are extremely valuable to Him. Enjoy and have a great week! 
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~

Friend to Friend
I may look confident and put together on the outside (when I’m not in my yoga pants and a ponytail) but on the inside I often wander back to that little girl who questions her value and wants to make a difference.
There are lots of ways this inner struggle presents itself in me …

I tether my value to how I look. 

I tether my value to how my jeans fit. 

I tether my value to how I perform. 

I want my husband and kids to love me perfectly,
even though they can’t. 

I want to love others perfectly, but I don’t, so I
 juggle guilt like a hot potato.

I get distracted and waste time, so I feel unproductive.

I want to make a difference, but I try to do too
 much.

The Bible showcases a perfection that I implement pathetically. Like that love chapter in 1 Corinthians that most of us had read at our weddings. Verses like “love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way” (13:4–5 ESV). Wait, what? Geez! The way I love doesn’t even come close to this list! And then the big left hook smacks me hard: “Love never fails” (v. 8). The magnitude of God’s perfect love is epic. The magnitude of my love is minuscule.

I try to be patient. I try to be kind. I try not to envy or boast. All of it. But my efforts are less than. I stub my toe on my ego all the time. I get edgy and loud. I insist on my own way. And then I beat myself up!
If I were a better mom, I would’ve ____.
If I were a better friend, I would_____.
If I were in better shape, then maybe _____.
If I were more talented, I would be able to _____.

And because I’m not content with my own body, my own behaviors, and my own abilities, I struggle to see how a perfect God can look past my brokenness. I know in my heart that He loves me, but I sometimes struggle to accept that He likes me, because sometimes I don’t even like myself.

These doubts and insecurities cause me to question my value and my ability to make a difference. They cause me to feel insignificant. Invisible and ineffective. Yet I know that the Bible says the opposite. And because of this, I’m reminded to, instead, tether my value to truths like these:

I was created in the image of God.
I am sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus loved me so much that He endured a horrific death so I could be saved.

These truths matter. And because they matter, they confirm to me that I matter. And they confirm that you matter too.

Don’t think for one little minute that I don’t sense you bristling up. It’s what we girls do when the spotlight of attention is shined on our significance. We shy away. Throw our hands up to shield the light. Contest with our best excuses…
Some of us contend, “I’m really nothing special. That word valuable makes me nervous. My life is less than. Average at best. Mac and cheese is my jam. I drive a minivan, wear ponytails, use off-brand detergent, and live paycheck to paycheck. Where is the value in that?”
Others of us contend, “I cannot believe you’re going to go there! Did you not read my bumper sticker and T-shirt? I am nothing. Jesus is everything. Hide me in the cross and stop trying to make me feel special. Slap! Slap! Slap! 

Shame on you for even bringing up such a topic of the flesh!”
Some of us acquiesce: “Okay. Let’s talk. I know in my mind that I’m precious to Jesus, but that often gets lost in translation on its way to my heart. Yes. Let’s have this conversation. I want everything God has for me, and I’m ready to move forward as a woman of greater impact.”
Wherever you find yourself in these responses, my prayer is that you will join our last friend with an expectant and curious heart. With a heart that is ready to move forward in the truth of your significance so that you can live out the purpose for which you were created.
I am going to leave it here today. Let you marinate in thought and prayer. In part two, we will go a bit deeper and see what Jesus has to say about all this.

Let’s Pray
Lord, Help me to accept that You are the One who defines my significance. Please sift through my thoughts, doubts, insecurities, and emotions that leave me feeling like less instead of more.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

New Year; Same God

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Hebrew 13:8 (KJV) http://biblia.com/verseoftheday/image/Heb13.8

Yesterday was Thursday. Today is Friday. As it was last week  and the weeks prior. The great difference being that today, Friday, marks the start of a new calendar year.

And while January first brings with it no magical powers to transform all things, it does bring with it something very important: HOPE.

Hope that things will change, will get better, can be re-built.  That the start of something new means that we can move past and forget the old.

We know a God that exists outside of time and in eternity.  Who, year in and year out, is faithful, dependable, unmovable, consistent; His word, nature and character do not change and it is in Him that we place our hope.

This is why:

  • Psa 16:9  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
    My flesh also will rest in hope
  •  Psa 31:24  Be of good courage,
    And He shall strengthen your heart,
    All you who hope in the Lord
  • Psa 39:7  And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.
  • Psa 42:11  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope  in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Similar verses litter the bible; all pointing to the same fact. That there is only one focus for that which we hope: The Almighty God.

Let 2016 bring us to a sense of renewed hope where ours may have waned because of trials faced in the past and prayers unanswered; may we look forward knowing that each day means fulfillment of purpose in Him and that is what keeps us pressing onward; may we know that He is a keeper of promises and that His timing is never wrong; may we encourage and exhort each other in the Lord and with His because that is the only accurate measure; may we stand for Him as He stands for us to walk in and be obedient to His call.

Be strong in the Lord ladies.

Remember our lives are HIs.

by Marisse Cropper

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Love Story

Psalms 136_1

Source: www.pinterest.com

I love romance and love stories. Recently I re-watched ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and was swooning. Yup, I said swooning. There are times when I make room for the mushy. We see the world’s definition of love – the grand gestures, huge weddings and lavish gifts. We also see high divorce rates and failing marriages. People have different ideas of what love should look like and much of that has been shaped by what is disseminated in the media.

I asked God to help me understand His love; to show it to me. You see, my head knows that He loves me but my life and my actions do not always reflect that fact. Walking in the knowledge that the Creator of the Universe has said that nothing can separate us from His love, should make us stand taller and live a more confident life. Trials should not move us because we know that His love for us means that there is a plan even when we cannot see it.

This is what I came to understand:

He knew exactly what He was doing when He created us. Gen 1:27/31 – 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them….31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good(that means us)

We are His. Gal 4:6 – And because you are(i.e. we belong to Him) sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

His love is totally, without reservation and infinitely, unconditional. Rom 8:35/38/3935Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… 38For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

He listens, He knows and He cares. Psalms 138:8 – The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. (also Psalms 118:5; 1 Pet 5:7)

As messy as we are, He is faithful. Lam 3:19 -23 – 19Remember my affliction and roaming, The wormwood and the gall. 20My soul still remembers And sinks within me. 21This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.22Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.23They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.(also Isa 63: 7- 14)

He wants the best for us. Zephaniah 3:17 – The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.(also Jer 29:11)

We are present in His mind. Psalms 40:5 – Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered. (also Psalms 139:17)

1 John 4:10 – In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Ultimately, that says it all. The love of God should never become passé. The sacrifice made on the cross just another fact of life.

God wants to demonstrate His love. He wants us to trust Him and lean on Him and run to Him and lose ourselves in Him.

Smile, for He takes pleasure in us. (Ps 149:4)

By Marisse Cropper

First things First!

Rev 2: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

How’s your personal prayer and worship time been going lately? Have you found that the business of life or even church have been squeezing the joy out of it? 

Truly these are fast-paced, difficult times and there seems to be so much we have to be on top of. Yet, in the midst of that, we have to be militant and unswerving in preserving that all imporant one-on-one time with God.

In the church at Ephesus, so much was to be commended in their works – their diligence, patience and endurance in tough times, their unwillingness to tolerate evil and their testing of false apostles. 

However, all was not right, their christian love had diminished and the Lord needed to bring it to their attention. If they did not repent, His presence would be felt by way of judgement. 

So too with us! In the midst of all the good we may seek to do and be doing, something may be missing and me must take heed to our Master who sees and knows everything as He walks among us. His desire is that we be complete in Him.

I know that the Lord has had to bring this to my attention at many different points in my walk with Him..saying “come back to me..your heart is straying from it’s narrow course and pure love. Enjoy my presence and my word as you did at first. Sometimes OR often, our priorities will have to be addressed and readjusted.

Let’s not neglect that pure, fervent, love we had for the Lord and the desire to meet Him in prayer and worship like we did when we first came to Him. Let’s not neglect fervent love for His body and also those lost in spiritual darkness.

If God is saying this to you, to your family or your church today, consider carefully what your current state is compared to the former. In prayerful repentance acknowledge where you have fallen, go back to where you had left off, return to positions of zeal in prayer, worship and the love for His presence that you had at first. 

He said that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us (1 Jh 1:9). So ask Him to restore the joy of your salvation, your love and zeal for Him and for others. Begin again with you and Christ. Nothing can be substituted for pure love and zeal for Him and a pursuit of Him alone.

Ps 16 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

“Pursuit of you” by Jaye Thomas has been such an encouragement to me to keep it simple. I hope it will encourage you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgonJMritio

God bless! Have a wonderful weekend.

By Carol-angel Jackson