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Grace, grace, God’s grace!

For God has revealed his grace for the salvation of all people. (Titus 2:11). 

This year one of my dreams was fulfilled and that was to travel to Europe..Italy to be exact. I usually pick an aisle seat on airplanes but this time around I got a window seat en route to the U.K…and for a really great reason. At some point I looked out the window and realized we were directly over the Alps. Wowww!! What an unforgettable sight! I felt swallowed up in its vastness and took a few moments just to marvel at God’s creative power..and to think I would’ve missed it if I had an aisle seat. Isn’t God good!! 🙌🏼🙌🏼.
As I looked in between these vast mountains, inside the crevices and valleys I could make out roads and houses where people lived.. in between all of that vastness!!!

Isn’t that a picture of God’s grace! Mountains upon mountains of limitless grace whose vastness is beyond comprehension yet we can freely live, move and have our being in it. That grace reached through time and space to save us from sin and eternal death and is the same grace that sustains us every day of our lives. It’s the gift that keeps on giving as God just keeps blessing us through His grace.

Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another. (John 1:16) 

And..it gets even better!! It’s free, which means we don’t have to work up a sweat striving for it. Only GOD could give such grace!!!

For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

If you don’t know Jesus, receive this free gift of grace today. When Jesus is Lord of your life, you can know that you are covered and filled with a never ending supply of His grace for whatever life may bring. So why keep it to yourself!! Extend that same grace to others.

From great heights to valleys low, grace like fountains overflow, filling every empty place, only God’s grace can sustain and save. (CHJ 2017)

Here’s a song for today:If not for your grace (Israel and New Breed)

Have an awesome one!
By Carol-angel Jackson

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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

Times Of Refreshing

  
Yay!!!! Spring is here! The cold bitter winter is over! The snow has melted and flowers are in bloom again. Let newness SPRING forth!!!

During spring, everything is rejeuvenated and refreshed as the earth tilts closer to the sun, causing warmer temperatures, longer days, frozen rivers to flow and new plants to grow. While we don’t have this season in the Caribbean, during this time of the year we also notice temperatures rising as we approach the warmer summer months.

So how is this blurb on spring connected to our devo today? Where are we heading with this?

Recently there was a headline which caught my attention. A well known worship minister’s confession of sin which ultimately led to a failed marriage..and there have been other similar occurences of sin in the lives of brothers and sisters near and far.

So I heard someone ask.. “If God has forgiven us for our sins and wiped the slate clean, why do we still have to deal with the negative consequences?” Yet, others may say..”that person got off way too easy!!”

There is always a consequence for sin. Though we forgive our children when they do wrong we still discipline them so that they would learn from it.

Hebrews 12:11 (NKJV) Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

King David had found himself in a similar season of sadness, grief and painful discipline of his own making. He had turned away from God and to his own sinful desires, taking the wife of Uriah, covering it up and then murdering him. 

Though God forgave David’s sin, it did not go unpunished as he experienced trouble in his household and the death of his son with Bathsheba.

However, what was David’s response? After God sent the prophet Nathan to reveal to David his wrong. David repented. He still pleaded with God to be merciful and spare his son, but ultimately he accepted his wrongdoing and God’s punishment, refusing to be angry and rebellious against God. David turned his heart to God in repentance and worshipped. Read his prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.

While this is a powerful lesson for us to avoid sin at all costs. It is also a lesson to us that in times when we do sin and have fallen, while we have to bear the consequences of our sin, we must turn fully towards God, repent (change our thinking) and throw ourselves on His mercy and grace. God is merciful and sometimes may even soften the punishment. Whatever the consequence, He is waiting with open arms to restore and completely redeem us, bringing us into a season of newness and freshness in Him. 

Psalm 30:5 (NKJV) For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Let us remember this in our lives and as we deal with fallen brothers or sisters. While they may still have to deal with the consequences of their actions, let us pray, encourage and guide them as we have opportunity towards God’s mercy, grace and restoration. 

Yes, God will punish sin but he still loves us and is unswervingly commited to our success, eternal salvation and destiny in Him and we must be the same. Let us not secretly snicker or despise them but let us pray for repentance, conversion and restoration.

Isn’t it wonderful that the same God who made winter also made spring? He will rejeuvenate and restore us again when we turn our hearts towards Him?

Let’s pray: Father, help us to quickly repent when your Holy Spirit reveals to us our sins. Help us not to harden our hearts but to turn towards you so that you would refresh and restore us in your presence. Help us Lord to pray continually for our brothers and sisters who are in struggles with sin and temptation or dealing with its consequences and guide them with the same mercy and love you continually show us. In Jesus’ name..Amen!

By Carol-angel Jackson

 

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.

Rise up and work!

  
Eph 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Mission Monday: 
Wow! Didn’t the weekend just fly?! As we enter a new week, let’s refresh and refocus our minds on what God’s mission and purpose is for us.

We all have different jobs and occupations. Some are in high powered corporate positions of responsibility, others may be students, housewives, janitors or in church ministry. Whatever it is and no matter how demanding it is, know that God has equipped you with all you need to fulfill that mission!

You may feel as if you are on track or you may feel as if you’ve been experiencing setbacks – workplace conflict, or unexpected projects or tasks; maybe you’re in the midst of a career or ministry change and it’s daunting; or perhaps dealing with a health challenge or an ailing spouse, parent or child. We all have difficulties and troubles that can slow us down and cause us to be too preoccupied with ourselves and the situation, causing us to lose focus on our deeper cause – to live out Christ’s purpose through the highs and lows of our lives.

Sometimes it may be as though certain things have died or are dying and it may be quite difficult to cope with changes in circumstances and relationships especially if they are sudden.  

Today for Mission Monday, I want to encourage you to rise up and work! Continue to do what God has called you to do even in the midst of seeming setbacks.

Remember Jesus..at 33 years old, at the height of His successful ministry He was crucified (killed)..at least that’s all it appeared to be. In reality however, so much more was taking place! God was performing His greatest work since creation..the redemption of the human race from the power of sin and death.  

Things may have to die..things in us, things or people we’ve relied on must go, circumstances and situations will have to change and sometimes God would call us..like Christ to live out this great plan of His..trusting Him alone. 

Sometimes it means that we have to review methods, certain attitudes, actions or strategies and make changes. Don’t resist God. It’s all about Him and for Him. He can see the end from the beginning. He knows what He’s doing. He’s saying to trust Him, make the changes where you can and don’t rely on your limited understanding of that situation. It is not all that it seems..God is working a greater work and you must view those circumstances and guard your heart in the light of His word.
Proverbs 3:5-6(NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Jesus wasn’t just crucified..He was buried in a dark lonely abysmal tomb. Yet by the power of the Holy Spirit, He rose up in 3 days..not immediately..but in 3 days and was glorified and seated at the highest place..above every principality and power. 
John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

A season may be 3 days, 3 months or 3 years. You may feel as if you’ve been hidden or buried in a dark place, grinding and sowing that seed for a while..as if things God spoke to you are not bearing fruit..but be patient. God will in time, in the time of His favor cause that hidden seed He’s planted to break forth from the ground and grow into a tree, with branches of healing for others (the nations) and evident fruit. 

Trust God! Trust God! Trust God and obey what He’s saying to you. 

Your greatest level of worship at this time or any time in your life, is your obedience to Him.
So as you go into this new week, be refreshed and refocused with new strength. Move forward with renewed faith! Draw from God (your greatest resource) all that you need to be godly (like Him) in your life and circumstances. 

You are not merely a “man” or a “woman”, in a position, you are a supernatural agent of God with access to His supernatural insight and power through the Holy Spirit. So go live out your God given purpose..do the works He has created for you to do in obedience and worship to Him.
Have a powerful, focused, God-filled week!

By Carol-angel Jackson

Jesus under pressure – Part 2

  
Happy Saturday Sisters!! 

Are you feeling like the walls are closing in on you? Maybe you have pressure on all sides or just one side in particular. Maybe you’ve been crying out to God for relief but He’s left you in the situation. Could it be that God has bigger and better things in mind, that He’s seeking to work out a greater purpose in you..to make you more like His Son?

If you’ve said “Amen!!” to all of this, then this week’s blog is just for you. What was Jesus like under pressure? Read on to find out!! But before you do, click here to review Part 1 of this wonderful, helpful teaching.

Jesus Under Pressure – Part 2

– Jesus did not defend himself in the flesh, but allowed God to be His vindicator. Luke 23: 9 – Then he (Herod) questioned him with many words but he answered him nothing. Christ did not allow his accusers to provoke him to respond in the flesh.

– He was not easily provoked because love (who is Christ) is not easily provoked. 1 Corinthians 13:5 Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil. Jesus operated in love.

– Christ’s trial presented 2 types of men 1. those who didn’t see anything wrong with Him and that He had done anything deserving of death (Pilate & Herod) and 2. the crowd who wanted to crucify him.

However, neither group affected Him. He didn’t care how he looked to men. He didn’t ride on the support received from Pilate and Herod, neither did He respond to the crowd’s aggression. His heart was so bent on pleasing the Father, that only the Father’s opinion mattered. Instead, He commited himself to God saying – (Luke 23:46) Into your hands I commit my Spirit – just before he breathed his last.

What lessons are there for us? 

– Stay on your cross!! Die to yourself!! Submit to the Father’s will for your life!!

– Be careful not to think that only telling off people is a sign that we are acting rudely or being provoked. Sharp answers or shutting off are just as wrong. Sometimes silence is what is needed and at other times silence becomes a weapon. We have to be honest and discern our own motives, asking God to show us.

– Our flesh desires to look good in front of men. So we often feel a need to prove our own innocence and clear our name; we feel that we need to defend ourselves. Sometimes we have to allow God to vindicate us. In these times He would ask us to trust Him and not seek to prove ourselves right but leave the matter to Him.

In the height of the pressure, Jesus had a prayer- “Father forgive them” – that was the Father’s objective – forgiveness..and Christ remained focus on that until the very end.

If like Christ, we commit to God, the focus is not on ourselves and how we feel emotionally or physically, the focus is on what God wants to achieve. 

When you are under pressure, ask God what he wants to achieve in you. When He reveals it to you, with His help, make Him and what He’s revealed to you the focus. It will help you to endure the pressure and hardship knowing that God is working out His greater purpose in you.

Praise Him for His goodness and faithfulness and know that all things are working out for good.

By Robertha Reid 

Inside Out

  

Hi Sisters..we apologize for the late post. It’s been a bit crazy lately. 😊

Recently I watched the movie “Inside Out” with my boys. It was truly entertaining to see how the writers/producers depicted what was happening in the mind of this little girl in the movie. It was really quite accurate! Sometimes our hearts and minds can be tied up in knots. Emotions of anger, fear and sadness swirl in us like a whirlwind, intermingling with each other and seeming to battle for dominance as joy tries to hold the fort. Good old Joy! I must say she definitely is my favourite character and I really do try to let her rule the roost every day. However for us humans living in this fallen world, sometimes people’s actions, circumstances, loss, life changes, sin and other challenges can really offset that joyful balance. None of us are immune to sadness, anger and fear.  

Yet while each feeling does have its place and can propel us to a place of action. We must ask God to direct our emotions and actions so that we avoid the sinful and negative outcomes of acting sinfully on our emotions.

Take for example – Eph 4:26 which says “Be angry and sin not”. Phil 4:6 – 7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

James 4:1-3 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

The bible is clear that emotions are real. David the psalmist struggled with loneliness and depression as he fled for his life and Job seemed to wrestle with all of them as he endured severe loss. Even Christ was described as a man of sorrows Is 53:3.

However these men came to a place where their eyes were lifted beyond their present circumstances..as they considered the faithfulness and sovereignity of God and they obeyed.
Many people use their feelings as an excuse for their actions. Anger, bitterness and hurt propel us towards unforgiveness which is the root of broken relationships and more severely, crime.

In the midst of Christ’s betrayal and rejection from men, He saw the will of God and was able to say “Father, forgive them.” None of us, regardless of who we are can be above this.  

So, I don’t know what emotion is struggling for dominance in you today, in this season of your life, what wrongs you have endured and how you may be handling the challenges you face. However, I do know that the Lord will guide you if you ask Him. 

He promises: 

Is 61:3 “ To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

2 Tim 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind

Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Ask Him to come on the inside of your heart, to give you His light and joy to be reflected outside.

By Carol-angel Jackson