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The Reality of James 4:3

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The word of God is alive. The written, logos, word has the ability to jump up from the page and slap you, pierce your heart, leave you breathless, render you paralysed and make you stunned. Well at least it does that for me and yet every time something happens, I marvel at how God’s word can affect me. How it can bring illumination and understanding. How one scripture can take on different meanings in different seasons and still not be contradictory. A scripture that you have read many times, at the right moment, has the ability to turn your perspective upside down. How great is our God!

Shortly before this current revelation, I had read the scripture in James and nodded at the truth of it.  Then I moved on. Not knowing that God would bring me right back to that place; to derail a train of thought that was going steadily along its way.

James 4:3 (leading in from vs 2) states: You do not have because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.’ (NASB)

Truthfully I cannot say how many times I have said to myself “You do not have because you do not ask” and thus the asking begins. In this particular case, I was asking earnestly; asking every day for God to move. Specifically for God to work in someone’s heart and bring about change. They needed an encounter with Jesus. Their life would be so much better, I reasoned, if they would only surrender and let God have full control. They would be less angry, more pleasant and nicer if only God would touch them. So I asked, fervently and….nothing.

I had made my move. Now it was God’s turn to answer.

While attending a seminar, James 4:3 was used as part of a presentation and at that moment it was as if the Holy Spirit pulled out a megaphone and a highlighter. I heard it and saw it, LOUD and CLEAR. Something like this: BECAUSE YOU ASK WITH THE WRONG MOTIVES!!!!

The presenter then went on to say that God may not change a situation for your growth.  Teaching you to love people in spite of their faults because something in you needs to change. Sound familiar? Speck in their eye vs plank in yours? (Matt 7:4)

It was at that moment that I realised that all my asking had been because the other person’s transformation would have made my life easier. No more butting heads or feeling frustrated. No relying on the fruits of the Spirit. Just ease. I had been asking for my pleasure. Not solely for their benefit.

Wrong motives.

Now, I stop, think and listen before I take something to Father. Ok, sometimes after as well. The requests that are made to Him need to line up with His guidelines.

My 7-year old asked me if God ever says ‘No’. I had to smile because I know He does. All the time. We don’t always ask smart things. We need to examine our hearts before Him knowing that our hearts can deceive us.

As for the person that was the subject of the prayers: I know God’s timing will be perfect in their life, that they will know His unconditional love and that His plan and purpose will bring them to a place of joy, peace and rest in knowing Him.

 

—–Marisse Cropper—–

 

 

 

 

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Lift up your eyes – the Lord is your keeper

These are difficult times for all of us but regardless of what we may go through, the Lord has promised to keep and preserve us. So, let us lift up our eyes to Him!

We have only one anchor and that is Jesus! Hold onto Him and you will not sink under the pressure. He will give you the strength to bear up under it and you will find new courage in the midst of your battles. 
We lift up our eyes to you Lord! 

Be encouraged in His word today and let us find rest as we worship in His presence. Worship for today: My help (cometh from the Lord) – The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Much blessings and love 
Carol-angel Jackson 

His Prescribed Path

1484317321298_imageJesus said:
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matt 11:29-30)

Compared to the old testament law, the new covenant in Christ was easy. He asked us to do away with following the law that lead to death and to follow Him to eternal life.

In this new covenant we have:

  • grace (Yes!!!)
  • forgiveness of sins
  • no condemnation
  • adoption as sons (and daughters)
  • freedom from bondage
  • joy instead of mourning,
  • healing and restoration of our souls
  • an intimate relationship with God the father
  • the knowledge that He chose us from the earth’s founding
  • redemption because Christ shed His blood
  • faith in the almighty God and access to all His promises
  • healing through His suffering
  • freedom to come boldly before His throne of grace and mercy

And so much more. It’s definitely not an exhaustive list.

What I had to realise for myself, is that even though His promises are freely given, there is still a yoke that I have to choose to take. Even though the yoke is easy, it’s still a yoke. It will, once I surrender, provide direction, restrict what I can and cannot do, require my obedience and cooperation, lead me in a preordained path and lead me away from my previous life. With it, God can pull me away from danger and cause me to learn His ways and grow.

How does this look in everyday life?

  • Adherence to His word
  • Being silent when we would want to speak
  • Putting others before ourselves
  • Being open to His correction and discipline
  • Loving when we would rather not
  • Forgiving when someone has wronged you, hurt you and disregarded you; whether intentionally or unintentionally
  • Choosing not to live by the standards of the world but making sure Jesus is at the center of all our decisions
  • Waiting when we would rather go and listening even when we think we know the answer
  • Relying on faith when all we see before us is unknown, scary looking stuff
  • Holding onto His promises knowing that His word will never change

This list is also not exhaustive.

When we make the decision to put our lives in His hands, we can’t take it back when it suits us or ignore the things we don’t like and accept the things which we do like. God will not force His yoke on us but He encourages us to take it.

Picture Him with the yoke in His out stretched hand, saying “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Then he tells us about Himself, “I am gentle and lowly in heart.” Not a harsh task master. Then comes His promise to us, “You will find rest for your souls.” A place of total surrender and peace. Our future is assured.

Thank you Lord that You determine my path and the stages and seasons of my life.  Thank you that in You I am home and experience overwhelming peace. You have been my guide and my teacher and I desire to be continually shaped and moulded by You. Thank you for joy that bubbles up when I consider Your ways and the rest that comes from knowing that You are in charge. May all that You have given me cause me to give back to others and to showcase Your amazing love. In the name of Jesus, amen.

By Marisse Cropper

 

New Year’s…….

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and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.             Ephesians 4:24

 

 

Well, it’s 2017.

Already.

I can still remember the fuss over Y2K. When everything was going to shut down and there would be blackouts and planes would fall from the sky. That, was 17 years ago.  So much has happened in that 17 years and yet it seems as though so little time has passed.

First of all, I would like to express how grateful I am to our one and only magnificent God, for being His ever faithful consistent self.  All the ups and downs have all led right back to Him cause He never moves. When He says that He will never leave or forsake, He means it. It is His promise and it will stand.

Yet, we shift and move and determine that we know what’s right and that whatever we thought, was a good idea that we had to try. I don’t know about you but I imagine that God frequently looks at me and shakes His head, maybe exasperated but patiently waiting for me to see what He was showing me all along.

We also make these determinations. “I will be better at this” or ” I need to do more of that”. Is that so? Have you asked God His opinion on that?

All around us, are people making their lists of resolutions. ” This is the year.”, they say. “It will be different this time.” We celebrate with those who make it but often times most don’t.

Why? Because,

True transformation is based on association. Not behaviour modification. Dave Cropper

As members of the body of Christ, we do not try to be perfect after the flesh; to seek a perfection brought on by the standards of those around us. It’s not about doing what seems right but doing what God wants for us. It’s about seeking His face for the way that He knows is right. Our change, our transformation comes when we are in Him and when we rely on His grace. Not our limited human effort.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.                              2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) (emphasis mine)

Change does not come from afar or by a wish and a hope. We have to be in Him and with Him. Constantly. Daily. Leading to all things becoming new. That is a truth of God. Believe it. Hold on to it.

What we build by ourselves and with our own plans, will fail.

Let go of our ways and our thoughts and what we think is right.

Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.     Psalm 127:1 (NKJV)

Unless God is the midst of every part of our lives, we act in vain. Why waste energy doing the wrong thing? Discovering the right way requires us to ask, seek and knock.

 

Lord, I know that you have a plan made specifically for me and You know what must be done to achieve it. Show me the direction which you choose and what I must do. Thank you for Your patient guidance and everlasting grace.  I will trust in you and follow your way for me because only in you am I made new. In the name of Jesus, amen.

By Marisse Cropper

8 Tips To Regaining Your Momentum

Greetings everyone!

Today we have a guest, Dave Cropper, contributing to the site and sharing with us a word of encouragment from the Lord.

Be blessed in knowing that God will never be far from your side.


Have you become discouraged or lost your way in your walk with the Lord? Similarly, have you been feeling burdened by the pursuit of obedience to what the Lord is requiring of you in this season?

I’ve been there and here’s some advice:

1. Get Help

You are not in this alone. All champions need help along the journey, maybe you think you can figure things out on your own but consider this. In the multitude of counsel there is safety.

2. It’s time for seeking prayer.

The Lord knows exactly what you need before you even approach him in prayer, however only those that seek will find, those that ask will be given and those that knock will doors be opened to.

3. Go back to your last instructions from the Lord.

Incomplete assignments have a way of tormenting your soul if you allow them to. If you know where you stopped along the way, get back in there. Be strong. Pick back up the plough and begin to push again. Remember that we earnestly contend for the faith.

4. Pluralize your battle strategy.

When Peter was locked in prison, the church was mobilized to come together to pray for his release. Find a community of believers in an assembly that will stand with you in prayer and that have your back in tough times. Also, where two or three are gathered, He is in the midst. We all need corporate prayer to multiply the power of our intercession.

5. Don’t forget that you have an enemy.

Our walk is a battle. It makes us tough when we fight and resilient when we overcome. No one ever became an overcomer without having an enemy to overcome. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. Overcome your failures and dispel that discouragement today.

6. Finish your race.

The race is not for the swift but for those that endure to the end. Remember this race is personalized; tailor made for you by the Lord. You are not in competition against anyone. You are racing against time. Though you do not know the moment of your last breath we can understand our times and seasons. So get back in the race, understand the specific urgency of the season and pace yourself accordingly.

7. Unforgiveness and guilt are the heaviest burdens.

Forgive yourself for your mistakes and forgive those that have wronged you because He has and will forgive us if we fall. Remember there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. You have been set free from the law of sin and death. The pity party of guilt has lost its DJ, so stop dancing to a tune that’s not playing.

8. Re-Activate your Praise.

Praise and worship change atmospheres and cause heavenly help to become mobilized. The Lord is waiting to hear you shout for joy, in the assembly and in your private time. Praise changes your sight and elevates your perspective. There are more working for us than those that are against us.

This post was not meant to identity with your sorrows but rather to equip you with the strategy and understanding of how to get moving again.
Please share this with those around you. You never know who might need this.

So get back in there champion!
Your victory matters.

‪#‎kingdomadvance‬ ‪#‎legacyworldwide‬

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

Becoming the Kind of Women God Has Called Us to Be

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Today we share an article from Penny Young Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America (CWA). The article featured on FaithGateway.

Yes, it is a bit lengthy but well worth the read.

Enjoy. Share with others. Continue to grow as God pours out to you, His love and wisdom.


We Must Hold Ourselves to a Higher Standard

We are God’s masterpieces. That’s the most important truth to get across to women in our culture today. But we must also realize that as God’s masterpieces, we are meant for more. He created us for his glory, not for our own pleasure. The reason to abstain from pornography, promiscuous sexuality, or anything else that demeans the masterpiece God made is because we are not our own. Paul told the Corinthians,

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Wow. As a believer, I need to remind myself that it’s not just about me. I belong to God, and therefore how I treat my body, what I choose to say, and the media I consume matters. Any trash I put into my mind that demeans me is an affront to my Maker.

Okay, so most of us church ladies don’t dabble in visual or written porn, but what about those cable shows? You know the ones I’m talking about, those series that we compulsively binge-watch despite the fact that they’ve got enough sexual innuendo and risqué bedroom scenes to make us cringe. Paul told the Philippians,

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.Philippians 4:8

Uh-oh. Now I’m starting to squirm. What about those magnificently entertaining cable series? One of my good friends recently confessed to me that she felt so convicted she had to stop watching a really good one—one that I watched as well. I felt sick. I knew that I had heard the same still voice, and I ignored it. I fall short every day; we all do. This doesn’t mean we give up the quest to please God in every area of our lives and to free ourselves of negative messages that harm.

We must be ever vigilant to protect our hearts and minds, and in today’s world, that’s not easy. Our culture has pitted men against women, women against men, and even women against one another, and boiled down our relationships to their most base and selfish versions.

We must be the ones to raise the bar. We must be the ones to declare truth and exhort beauty because we know what real Truth and true beauty look like.

We can’t settle for a world of men versus women or accept that women will always be demeaned as objects for sexual use and subsequently discarded. No, together we must demand something different. Together we are a living testament to God’s love for the church and Christ’s sacrifice for her. Together we are more, not less, and we must insist on that principle and embrace it ourselves.

Consider Jesus’ prayer for all believers:

I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one — I in them and You in Me — so that they may be brought to complete unity.John 17:22-23

We are called to unity, and when we embrace this call, God can and will work through us for His glory.

Point Out What Doesn’t Work, and Offer Alternatives Worth Emulating

As we work together to proclaim the truth of God’s love for us, we can also gently point out that the truths by which many people order their lives today simply don’t satisfy. For instance, in our hyper-sexualized society, women are promised more — more sexual empowerment, more freedom, more love or attention from men, more satisfaction. But in reality, we feel like we have a lot less. We aren’t happier or more fulfilled; we’re the opposite. Rates of depression and anxiety are on the rise; one in four women today take antidepressant medications. And a 2009 study by Wharton professors Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers found that over the past thirty-five years, women’s happiness has steadily declined — both in comparison to where we were thirty-five years ago and in comparison to men. Clearly, something isn’t working.

Part of our role in discussing these issues is to help women recognize that the world’s lies are just that — lies. But more important is that we offer them an alternative, a redemptive message that speaks of their own unique value. What does work is a life where God’s view of women takes center stage.

When we embrace the truth about who God says we are, we find a lot more contentment than when we’re trying to live up to all of the wild expectations of the media or society.

We were meant for more. We need to encourage each other to stop looking at the Kardashians as role models and look to our grandparents, our mentors, real-life women who embody the kind of love that does satisfy. All around us, especially in our churches, we have beautiful examples of true women and true love — lasting and agape (God-sized) love. There are beautiful couples who have loved and sacrificed for each other for more than fifty years, not fifty shades.

I witnessed this kind of love up close in the lives of my great-uncle Robert and his wife, Carolyn Young. Robert was a part-time pastor, and they owned a small country store in the mountains of North Carolina. They persevered as life partners through infertility, war, illness, and even the Great Depression. Carolyn’s health was fragile for decades, but Robert lovingly cared for her even when he was elderly. Finally one day she became so ill that she lapsed into a coma. He took her to the hospital and stayed until the staff made him take a break and go home. While at home, he sat down and simply died. I believe it was because he couldn’t face life without her. A few hours later she too was gone. The homecoming in Heaven must have been glorious and unexpected. What a gift. They are strolling the golden streets arm in arm as they did on earth.

We need to celebrate relationships like theirs, ones that value women as treasures and view true love as a reality, not an unrealistic or outdated trope.

One last point. It is crucial that we speak about these issues from a place of humility. Whether speaking with our Christian sisters or non-Christian friends, the only way we’re going to get anywhere is if we remember that we are all sinners, and that the reason Christ died was to redeem us all from our fallen state. The apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans should always be at the front of our minds:

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8

We aren’t arguing to score a point or prove ourselves right; we are speaking truth because God has called us to, and because through us, others can encounter the incredible message of redemptive love.

At the end of the day, we are surrounded by a world that embraces promiscuity, violence, self-degradation, vulgarity, and shallow, materialistic definitions of beauty. Too many women have fallen prey to this culture, attempting to embrace it as a way of self-empowerment or self-protection — but as we’ve seen, it doesn’t work.

We need to realign our perspective with reality and focus our efforts on becoming the kind of women God has called us to be. Let’s work together to become brave women whose primary aim is to glorify God, who recognize that our femaleness is a unique gift, who speak wisdom and truth, who enjoy sex in a way that honors the Lord, and who know that we are perfectly made in the image of God. When we align ourselves with this image of womanhood, we will be truly empowered — able to stand up as role models for the young women around us, able to speak truth to the lies that come from every level of society and government, able to give women a voice that demands respect and has the power to bring about change. As Erick Erickson has written, “a Christian on the sidelines is a Christian not going forth.”

It is time for us to get off the sidelines. It is our time to stand up to a world gone crazy. Will you join me?

By Penny Young Nance