Tag Archive | faith

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!! ūüôĆūüŹľūüôĆūüŹľ.
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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Faith facts

Hi friends, it’s been one of those weeks! Suddenly so many things seem to be in turmoil and as a friend of mine said..the enemy is good at making even things that are blessings seem to be curses! When we face challenges, we may feel discouraged, we may feel overwhelmed but we must never ever let go of faith. Faith helps us meet life’s circumstances with certainty and affirmation that God has supreme control of the outcome..so let’s look at eight encouraging faith facts. I pray that this short study will encourage you as it has me.

1. Faith is the shield that protects us from the potentially damaging effects of the various onslaughts we face. Depression, anger, fear and anxiety come as a natural response to oppressive circumstances but we can flip the switch, pick up the shield of faith and push them back! Better yet, don’t ever put it down! Be always ready!2. Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. You see it’s not about sheer willpower, if the Spirit of God lives in you Faith is already there ready for use! Oranges can’t come from apple trees. You’ve got faith!!!3. Faith must be nourished. How? By focusing on God’s word. If your soul is aching or burdened.. read and internalize faith-building scriptures each day. Doing this along with prayer, worship and fellowship..will be like medicine to remedy our aching souls. Ro 10:174. Workout your faith!! Exercise and build your faith muscles during hard times. Our actions should speak to the fact that we have faith. Don’t let apathy move in. Get up and work in Faith! No money for that big project yet? Start small with what you have. With prayer and faith, work your mustard seed and watch God grow it into a tree!5. Faith attracts God! While you’re dealing with a seemingly insurmountable task or challenge..work at it with all your heart towards God. God loves to see faith and He rewards it! 6. In the end you will shine!!! So work with endurance! Work through it knowing that whatever happens, God will bring you through as beautiful and refined like gold. Don’t let discouragement and depression win.  Job 23:107. Our faith is valuable! So much more than just temporal, so much more than just something to help us cope with circumstances this side of heaven. It is so valuable that it has eternal weight and glory! 

8. Faith leads us into to godly rest where even though we work, we do not strive to make things happen or to bring about the outcome we desire! When we believe, we can rest. Rest in the fact that God has this! He will provide, He will see that the outcome is for good. As the word says, let us make every effort to enter His rest! Faith leads us to rest! Heb 4I don’t know what you’re facing but God wants you to know that He sees and honors your faith. So be encouraged, surrender the outcome to God and raise up your shield of faith! Have a great weekend.

By Carol-angel Jackson

(Click photos for photo sources)

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 ‚ÄúNope. Not me. I can‚Äôt do that.‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúAre you sure?‚ÄĚ

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 ‚Äėwhat ifs‚Äô. 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

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.

Whose Report Will You Believe?

 

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Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

(All Scripture references taken from the King James Version)
( Picture taken from http://ubdavid.org/advanced/new-life3/graphics/23_bible-sword.jpg)

Realization

Recently I had a dream. In this dream I had a number of pets including three snakes. Even though I do not like snakes, and acknowledged that in the dream, I did not get rid of them. One in particular was quite bold. Moving freely about the house and chewing on various objects. Even becoming hidden at times.  Needless to say, I woke up unsettled and woke my husband to talk about it.  Was it an insignificant dream or was God trying to tell me something?

We were able to discover after some searching that snakes represent lies from the devil. These lies I was obviously living with; two that were subtle and one that was making itself very much at home. They were in my space and I even counted them as pets!

Thank God for His love and faithfulness. He has given the strategy and thus the victory.

 

Exposure

What were these lies and how long had I lived with them? Were they all subtle at one time, gaining ground only because I was not aware and did not deal with them?

Talking it out helped to reveal them : low self esteem, trust issues, not having what it takes.

Exposure is the first step to dealing with the lies of the enemy. As long as issues remain hidden, they can grow and become part of your space. The words that you think you tell yourself can become a part of what you consider to be truth.

These thoughts of “I can’t”, “I’m not”, “This I not for me” and others, are born from various sources. Maybe harsh words spoken or a past failure, helped to plant the seeds of something that would become larger over time.

 

Destruction

Only by the word of God can the lies of the enemy be destroyed. After Jesus had finished his fast in the desert, the enemy came to sway Him; to tempt Him and only by the word of God was he vanquished.

God’s word says:

Psalm 91:4          He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Psalm 43:3          O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

¬†Without the light that is God’s word we are defenseless and can be lead to a place that is not His will and purpose for our lives. Light destroys darkness. Truth destroys lies.

What does God say about you? What are His promises to you? Does He not speak of you with an unconditional love? Does He not tell you that nothing can separate you from Him? What has God called you to do?

2 Tim 1:9              Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the           world began

Psalm 139:14      I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Phil 1:6                  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Eph 1:4                 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

Know your worth in God’s eyes. Be assured of His plans and vision for you.

That way it is easy to disregard that which is not true. Disbelieving the lies is automatic when the truth of God’s word reside in us.

Are there any lies in your life that you have believed, that need to be exposed? Remember, you may not see them as lies but God knows.

Freedom comes from His truth.

 

Action

Now, write down 3 lies that the enemy has been bugging you with and find the truth in God’s word to counter it . Pray these words over your life and be patient as these words will change your life.

 

Father God, your word is truth. Expose the lies of the enemy that have taken root in my life. Your word is strength, light and peace to me. May it cause that which has sought to pull me down to be defeated, as I stand firm in you. Forgive me for not believing what you say about me. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness. I know that you love me and will not leave or forsake me. I will continue to look to you as the ultimate definition of who I am. For you made me and you know me. Lord, I will rest in you. In the name of Jesus; Amen.

 

By Marisse Cropper

Information about the meanings of dreams – Understanding Dreams and Visions

 

 

 

Jesus under pressure – Our example

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Matt 26:41- “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”.

Life has many challenges. While challenges make us grow, sometimes the pressure of those challenges can make us feel like we will explode. Let’s look at how our Savior, Jesus Christ, handled pressure and follow His example by applying these principles to whatever we may be facing.

 

1. Jesus did not use earthly tools, He prayed.
e.g. John 18:10 – When the soldiers wanted to take Jesus, Simon drew His sword (earthly weapon). Luke 22:44 ‚Äď when Jesus was in agony He prayed..”Being in agony He prayed more earnestly.”

Why pray?
a. Prayer brings with it strength from heaven (an angel came and strengthened Jesus in His time of need).
b. Prayer brings with it the very presence of the all-powerful God (The three Hebrew boys in the furnace had the presence of the Son of God (Christ) with them in their time of extreme pressure).

Personalize it: What is your method? How do you react under pressure? Earthly weapons/solutions or prayer? e.g. Do you talk to everyone about a situation and gossip rather than praying? Proverbs 10:19 ‚Äď‚ÄúIn the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise‚ÄĚ.

2. Jesus resisted temptation.
Temptation lurks when the pressure is on ‚Äď Matt 26:41- “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”.

We ‚Äėreact‚Äô when we are under pressure and may say or do the wrong things e.g. Matt 26: 73-74 – Peter lied, denying knowing Christ when put under pressure. The pressure of potentially being arrested, charged and killed was too great for him to handle. Luke 22: 48-50 – The disciples asked, “Lord should we strike with the sword?” They had no sense of the hour that they were in. Christ‚Äôs response was very composed/cool/collected ‚Äď ‚ÄėPermit even this‚Äô.

What are some of the temptations we face under pressure?
i. To react in anger and sin e.g. giving someone a good piece of your mind (Bible cautions us to be angry and sin not).
ii. To forget about Christ/God and take matters into our own hands especially if we believe that God is not acting fast enough or doing what we think he should do.
iii. To deny Christ ‚Äď how do we do that? We can be ashamed to identify with him in suffering as Peter did. Enduring suffering for Christ is not something that comes automatically to us so we might try to ease our way out of it (Mark 14:50 says that they (disciples) all forsook him and fled). We flee suffering and deny Christ sometimes by throwing away our faith in God- There are people that leave the faith when they are under pressure ‚Äď I have a friend whose mother was ill with cancer for years and after her prayers for healing were not answered in the way she expected, she left the faith ‚Äď denied Christ.

The GREAT temptation when under pressure is to deny Christ, to abandon God ESPECIALLY when He seems silent. God was silent through Christ’s trial of crucifixion ‚Äď He had no representation in the form of a host of angels (as they were when they announced Christ‚Äôs birth); no forefathers (Moses, Elijah like at Mount of Transfiguration); no voice appearing from heaven (like when Christ was baptized)‚Ķabsolute silence. Under pressure, we have to learn to trust God ‚Äėeven when we can‚Äôt trace him‚Äô ‚Äď when he seems to have left us alone and there is silence.

I pray this was an encouragement to you. We will continue next week with the last two points. Have a great weekend everyone!

By Robertha Reid

Zip It and Pray!

How to Talk to God Before You Talk to Others

Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer. ~ John Bunyan

When I was in college in the 1980s, I came across a pamphlet¬†entitled ‚ÄúHow to Spend an Hour in Prayer.‚ÄĚ I had been a Christian¬†for just a couple of years, and I was intrigued. I knew about¬†people called prayer warriors who placed great emphasis on¬†conversing with God, and prayer seemed to come to them as¬†naturally as breathing. Maybe you know some prayer warriors¬†too. They constantly want to know your prayer requests. They¬†habitually intercede for others. For them, spending an hour in¬†prayer is no big thing.

I myself have never been known as a prayer warrior. Ever. In fact, I am more like a prayer wimp. I find it difficult to keep my thoughts from wandering when I pray. They ricochet all over the place as I try to focus on communicating with God.

Way back in the eighties when I came across that pamphlet, I decided that things were going to change. So I took off to a park one sunny, autumn afternoon with my Bible in hand and a resolve in my heart to follow the step-by-step guide. I felt like a spiritual giant.

I settled myself on a quaint park bench near some pine¬†trees and a lovely flower garden. I opened my Bible and looked¬†down at my pamphlet and began to do what it suggested: ‚ÄúSpend¬†five minutes thanking God for the blessings in your life. Spend¬†five minutes praising God for his character qualities,‚ÄĚ and so¬†on. Apparently, breaking down the various categories into five-minute¬†increments was supposed to help. But it didn‚Äôt help me.

Five minutes seemed like an eternity.

Pretty soon a jogger happened by. He was carrying a small¬†portable radio ‚ÄĒ without headphones ‚ÄĒ and the blaring music¬†distracted me. I couldn‚Äôt really get into worshiping the Lord¬†with Michael Jackson‚Äôs ‚ÄúBeat It‚ÄĚ blaring in my ears. (Hmm‚Ķ¬†maybe in retrospect I should have joined along, singing that¬†tune out loud to the devil!)¬†Two hyper squirrels decided to chase each other up and¬†down a tree and around and around my bench. I laughed at¬†their antics but again lost my place. A family having a picnic¬†nearby decided to engage in a rousing game of Frisbee. The¬†Frisbee got away from one of the children and soared past me,¬†barely missing my head. Even when the animals and humans¬†quieted down, still I had trouble concentrating. I couldn‚Äôt focus.

I kept thinking of all the things I had to do back at the dorm. And I got distracted looking around at nature, even though it wasn’t making a sound. I gave up after twenty-three minutes and concluded I just wasn’t cut out to be a prayer warrior.

My prayer wimp status makes me feel spiritually inferior¬†to those for whom prayer comes naturally, but it doesn‚Äôt stop¬†there ‚ÄĒ a lack of prayer affects another area of my life.

When I don’t pray, I am more likely to say things I later regret. Or to say something that needs to be said but I say it in the wrong way or at the wrong time. And there are even times that I say nothing at all when I should really be speaking up. Yes, when I don’t make it a habit to talk to God, I sometimes speak (or fail to speak) to others in a way I later regret.

Talking to God helps me know how to talk to others.

More Prayer = Less Gossip

In addition to the fact that prayer warriors take communicating with God seriously, I have also noticed something else about them. They are not generally known for gossiping, using harsh words, or talking too much. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Could there be a correlation between the time and effort spent talking with God and the quality of our conversations with others?

I think so.

Take my friend Kelly. She and I became close friends over thirty years ago when we were fresh out of high school and both landed on the same floor in our tiny midwestern Christian college dorm. She was on the cheerleading squad. I was on the dance team. She had only sisters. I had only a brother. Her favorite color is lavender. Mine is peach. But the greatest difference between Kelly and me? My mouth has often gotten me into trouble. However, in the thirty years I have known Kelly, I am certain I have never once heard her gossip. Seriously! While she seemed to spend a lot of time talking to the Lord, she did not spend time talking about others. Or talking in an angry way. Or saying the wrong thing. Or talking too much. I don’t ever recall her having to remove her foot from her mouth, something I seemed to have to do often during my college days.

As I got to know her, I noticed right away that she took her relationship with Christ very seriously. Oh, she wasn’t one to do acts of righteousness before others so that she could be thought of as super spiritual. I just noticed things. Like the fact that she often had her Bible open on her dorm bed, where she had highlighted passages (with a lavender highlighter, of course!). Or I would spot her writing in her prayer journal, recording requests from family and friends that she had promised to pray for. She often sent me a note in the campus mail, telling me she was praying specifically for me. The more I got to know her, the more I realized just how important prayer was to my friend Kelly.

Watching Kelly’s life over the years has convinced me that there is a direct correlation between our prayer life and our conversations.

Perhaps if we spent more time and  energy on our prayer life, we would use our tongues more wisely.

Watch the Keep It Shut Video

Excerpted with permission from Keep It Shut: What To Say, How To Say It, And When To Say Nothing At All by Karen Ehman, copyright Zondervan, 2015.

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Your Turn

Do you have a friend like Kelly who encourages you by example to spend¬†your words wisely? Do you have a habit of saying things you later regret. (I do!) Of gossipping? (Guilty.) Of using harsh words (Yep!) In my journey towards being a prayer warrior, those are still struggles! This Psalm is a constant prayer of mine. Today, let‚Äôs pause and ask the Holy Spirit to ‚ÄúSet a guard over my mouth, Lord;¬†keep watch over the door of my lips.‚ÄĚ –Psalm 141:3. Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about learning to zip it and pray! ~ Laurie McClure, FaithGateway Women