Words determine Responses

Did you realize that our words carry meaning and that they determine how others respond to us as an individual? "Of course!" you may say, "but who cares?" God does... and so should you!

You'd be amazed at the simple things we take for granted- for example, the famous three words- "I don't care!"  Although we are our brother's keeper, almost everyday we hear or use this phrase yelled in response to something said or done.  We take phrases such as these for granted not realizing the impact they make and the responses they generate- our words have power!

The words 'I don't care' when pulled apart, points to selfishness and denial of our responsibility to care about other's feelings. The word 'I' points the spotlight directly on us - it gives us a stage and a microphone to say to the world, "look at me."  Using 'I' gives us power - it makes us become the subject of the conversation - the life of the party - it makes us selfish - a non-characteristic of love.

1 Corinthians 13 reminds us how we should use love to respond to selfishness:

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

Nowhere in this verse do the words, "I don't care" have place to demonstrate selfishness. Saying we don't care is quite the opposite of who God wants us to be.  When we say we don't care, we're basically telling someone that they do not matter; that should never be our stance,  Everyone matters- even if we think that what others say bears no weight or sounds foolish - they matter, their words matter... their lives matter; we are our brothers' keeper!

We have the power to choose to be patient and kind - we have the power to choose not to be jealous or boastful or proud or rude - it's a choice! Choose today to build others and not be self-centered.  In building others, we build a strong society.

Instead of saying, "I don't care," trying using words like, "I don't get what you're saying but it's okay." More words - definitely, but less dismissive; such a statement gives room for inclusiveness, an opportunity for clarity and for individuals to show love, respect, and patience.  Give it a try, then come back to this blog and tell me how it worked.  I'd love to hear your story!

The Just shall live by Faith

Being a single mom is hard and every day, I ask God for strength to face my battles.  Today, He showed me His love and reminded me of His goodness and mercy… I’d like to share in the event that this testimony can be of encouragement to you.  Psalms 23:6 says “…surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” and Bethel’s song called ‘Goodness of God‘ is a wonderful affirmation that God’s goodness and mercy literally follows us everyday. We just need to believe it and walk in it – today’s testimony is my evidence of His goodness and mercy towards me.

I think that this testimony started last Friday when I started worshiping at home after dropping the girls off at school and returning home to have devotion.  The Holy Spirit had placed the song Goodness of God in my heart and I couldn’t stop singing it.  I found it on YouTube and played it over and over until I learned most of the words and it really started to minister to me.  By evening, after I had picked up the girls’ on their last day of school, I took them to the dentist then returned home and made dinner.   We ate and then all of us turned to our individual activities (electronics corner) being Friday and all.  I retired to my room and again the Holy Spirit prompted me to play the same song – Goodness of God – with the lyrics on the television on my room – I was obedient – before I knew it, one of my daughters joined me in the room and began singing with me.  We sang the same song over and over the the presence of God fell on us both in the room – my daughter had her own experience with God, raised her hand to heaven and we worshiped under the anointing of God – it was a joyous and cherished memory I will never forget – personally, I think it opened the door for what happened today!

We attended church and were reminded that the deadline for registering for Kids Camp at our church is June 3.  Now in my opinion – Kids Camp is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences you could ever give to children – from my own church camp experiences when I was about their age, I received a spiritual foundation and that became my motivation to learn how to seek God.  I really… really… REALLY… wanted to send both girls to get the experience but as a single mom with financial commitments, finding the $580 as camp fee for both girls was a challenge.  There was also the issue of one of my girls being fearful to go because she’s experiencing difficulties with swelling in both her wrists and kept telling herself she wouldn’t have fun because of her wrists. I kept praying for God to give me wisdom about sending her;  deep down,  I really wanted both girls to go because I believed that they would benefit spiritually from camp – children need a good spiritual foundation to build character and confidence if they are going to be the light of the world.

That being said, I moved in faith and registered the twin who really wanted to go on Saturday – she was elated to go but unhappy that she’d go without her sister.  Her faith led her to pray for God to give her sister courage to want to go.  She prayed on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, she kept nagging her sister to stir up her willingness to go.  For the entire drive from home to church, she begged and pleaded with her sister to attend camp with her and by the time we got out of the car and were walking towards the building, her sister said she wanted to go!  I was happy that she had changed her mind but also knew that I didn’t have the money to pay upfront for her to go.  I began to pray to God for help.

As a member of the prayer team at my church, we usually meet to pray about fifteen minutes before church begins – I got inside before the group gathered, and jumped on my phone to check if space was still available to register my second daughter.  I felt in my heart that I wanted her to go and I wanted to trust God to take care of it.  As the notices rolled on the digital screens, I saw the camp reminder that the deadline for camp registration was June 3 and right there and then I made a decision to register my second daughter using my credit card.  I prayed to God and told Him that I didn’t have the funds but I wanted her to go experience Him there! I didn’t know how I’d pay it back but I was willing to trust Him to pay it back!  God tells us that we should command Him according to His Word – It didn’t feel like I was commanding Him but more like reminding Him that my children being at camp will benefit His Kingdom-kind-of-request.  I told Him that He’ll have to find a way to help me pay it back because I couldn’t afford to pay for both children but I felt within my spirit that they needed to be there.   I registered her using my credit card, handed the receipt to God and joined the prayer team in praying for service.

As usual, praise and worship was amazing and Pastor Brett shared a powerful word about ‘Let it Go!’ – I was so immersed into the Word and serving with the prayer team afterwards that I forgot about my prayer and the registration receipt that I had given to God.  After church I started greeting some team members and after embracing our prayer team leader, she asked how I was doing and if I had anything planned for the summer.  I casually responded that I was okay, would be working for the summer and that I really wanted the girls to go to camp.  The Holy Spirit  began working through our conversation and the next thing I knew she was offering to sponsor one of my daughters to go to camp! I was ecstatic and overjoyed.  I shared with her how I had registered my second daughter on faith and how God had used her as an answer to my prayer.  We rejoiced together and I continue to give God thanks for her willingness and obedience, and for His answer to my prayer even before I left His sanctuary! He paid the bill!

God knows our hearts and He will never leave us nor forsake us.  I shared this testimony because I know that God is real and that He cares about you and me.  I know there are days when we feel we’re alone and we feel like God left us but I’m here to remind you that God sees you – He knows your heart – He feels your pain and He wants to help you!  If you reach out to Him, He’ll help you through whatever it is that troubles you… He knows how heavy your burdens are and He wants to help you carry them.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light!  Won’t you trust Him to help you? Be encouraged today and live in the goodness of God – the just will live by faith!

Here’s Goodness of God by Bethel Music! Live in the goodness of God! NOW Kids Camp – here come my daughters for a live-changing experience! Thank you Jesus!

How Will I Know?

When God told Abram (before his name changed) that He was going to give Him land as his possession (Gen 15: 7), his first question to God was, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?” (Gen 15:8‬ ‭NLT)‬‬. Was this ever you – asking God how will you know what He promised will happen? I’ve been there… maybe too many times, but I’ve certainly asked God this question while waiting on Him to deliver on His Word.

We’ve all had promises made to us at some point in our lives; we’ve all had some promises broken too – no wonder when it comes to believing God for something, our human tendencies cause us to wonder if God will truly keep His Word. Our minds become wrapped in our own limits and we pull God into our limitations wondering what if we didn’t hear Him right to begin with or what if He changed His mind about fulfilling the promise. Thinking it too good to be true and tired of waiting, we allow doubt and unbelief to gain control of our thoughts… we allow external sources to alter what we initially received from God and avidly, we start working on Plan B in the event that God’s Plan A doesn’t work out – either on time or any at all.

After God’s promise to give Abram a son of his own, Sarai’s suggestion (her Plan B) convinced Abram to manifest the promise through her Egyptian servant girl. We do similar actions like this all the time – but what I’ve learnt is that our Plan B’s will always divert us away from God’s ultimate plan for our lives – Plan B’s create unnecessary responsibilities for us down the road.

What about those times when we laugh at the thought of God fulfilling a promise when the ‘procedures’ for things were ‘outside the norm’- been there, done that… thinking to myself well… since this is the standard way things are done and my situation isn’t this way then I might as well forget about this promise, end of discussion! Sarai had a similar reaction when she overheard Abram talking to God that they would have a son. She laughed and even denied that she did (Gen 18: 13-15). What is profound to me is that even after she did this – God still kept His promise! He never changed His mind because she doubted and when afraid lied about it- this is the same God who keeps His promises to us. He’ll never change His mind about something He promised us even when we become afraid and disbelieve.

So how do I know? Sometimes I ‘feel’ like I don’t- but I do what I must to keep my faith strong and believe that God cannot lie – He will keep His Word to me! You can know too by changing how you ‘feel’ and by choosing to believe what God has promised you- ponder it in your heart until it manifests! Believe that what God says He will do! Even if He doesn’t give you signs of what’s to come, even if His promise seems impossible like Abram and Sarai’s old age promise to have a child, even if you doubt and laugh in your heart at the thought of your promise being fulfilled- know that the God of Creation will never turn His back on a promise to you! Is anything too hard for the Lord?

What’s in it for you?

Many people think that following Jesus is for people who are brain-washed or for people who feel they need someone or something to believe in. Whatever your take is on this topic, it is only in trying to become like Jesus that we will discover what this course of action really means – just like finding out if an orange is sweet or sour can only be done through tasting it for yourself.

What was in it for me? When I really…really started to believe in Jesus, I started taking time out to read His Word – it’s what guides me and keeps me from my mistakes (I learned this way too late!).  Notice I said ‘really…really’ – that wasn’t a typo :).  I grew up hearing that Jesus loved me and that He died to give me life – but never really understood what this meant.  I got baptized at 10 years old, I went to church… almost every Sunday… not to mention Bible studies on Tuesdays, and Youth Fellowship on Fridays… and yes, I took communion every time they did it at church!  Was I brain-washed?  Maybe… but I still never got it!  As I grew, I didn’t think there was more to it than following the rules – certainly I could do that – and that I did for quite a while!  All this time I never grasped what it meant that Jesus loved me and that He wanted me to become more like Him – what did becoming more like Him even mean anyway? My curiosity got the better of me and perhaps at the age of 22, I started to read the Bible seriously for myself… to gain understanding.  Even though I began to change on the inside little by little, I still didn’t know what was in it for me.

As a young adult, I made choices that were not the best – they led to lots of life challenges that took root and tested my strength, patience and determination.  In my anger and frustration,  I questioned God to find out why things were going the way they were – despite the fact that I was the one making all MY choices.  It wasn’t until seriously reading His Word that I began to get insight and find peace for my unplanned outcomes.   Did I start believing only because of what I was taught growing up? No – while a foundation was laid, it wasn’t until I started to believe in what I read that my transformation began.  I discovered through my journey that when I stopped to ask God about any particular situation, things always turned out differently from when I ran ahead and did it all on my own.  I took note… and so… I started believing more… and my belief led me to experience better outcomes, more peace, more patience, more understanding… I finally got it!  That’s what was in it for me!   There was no catch to it, no tricks up God’s sleeve, just plain old believing that He wanted to help me to become more like Him to save me from myself – my mistakes, my choices and my selfish ways!

So… why should you want to become more like Jesus? What’s in it for you?  Becoming more like Jesus is actually meant to save us from ourselves – God wants to empower us and equip us with His love, peace, and joy… just so we can share His ways with others and become our best us!  When we become more like Him, we experience a change of heart and we transform into ways that bring us lasting love, joy, and peace. That’s what’s in it for you!

Jesus is in the boat!

Luke gave a powerful account of how Jesus wanted to go over to the other side of the lake while they were out in a boat one day. One of the many things I love about Jesus, is that He always know when to make the right moves. There was purpose in Him wanting to cross to the other side.

Luke 8: 22-39

It’s interesting to note how as they left for their journey, Jesus laid down for a nap! My first thought was ok… so Jesus says let’s go on this trip and then… He falls asleep. Hmm. Wasn’t it His idea to cross to the other side? Why did He fall asleep? Isn’t He supposed to be awake so He can tell us if we’re going the wrong way? What we must realize is that there is purpose in everything… just like there was purpose in Him falling asleep. He had to “fall asleep” for the storm to come.

Has God ever told you to do something and the minute you started doing it you begin to feel alone in what you’re doing? What happened next after Jesus fell asleep on the boat, is very enlightening. “A fierce storm developed that threatened to swamp them, and they were in real danger” (v. 23). Real danger?!!! I could hear myself muttering inwardly, “Jesus, this was your idea to cross to the other side, first you fall asleep… and now a storm? Oh for crying out loud!” The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was also purpose in the storm – and the purpose was two-folded.

Firstly, the storm was a test for the disciples to assess where their faith was at – that’s why Jesus asked them after He calmed the storm, “Where is your faith?” – it was examination time. Similarly, our storms today are meant to have us examine our faith. Use your storm to assess your faith level and keep reminding yourself that Jesus is always with you.

Secondly, the storm was sent to stop the mission that Jesus was about – to complete the miracle on the other side. Notice that the storm came when “Jesus was asleep”? There was real danger! It was extremely important for Luke to emphasize that Jesus was sleeping when the storm came. This emphasis is for our benefit. God knew that times would come when feel like He fell asleep after we started on our journey. This is never the case because He that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep (Psalms 121: 4). Our life storms bring about real danger. They’re sent by the enemy to derail us and stop us from accomplishing what God wants us to do. How we handle our storms is directly linked to our faith in Jesus as we go through it. This is why our faith in Him is so important.

Jesus’ primary mission to the other side of the lake was to deliver a man who had been demon-possessed for a long time. It was the only thing He did before getting back into the boat and setting sail again across the lake. The people who witnessed the miracle were too afraid of what He did and asked him to leave them alone. Jesus knew the people would do this before He went over – yet He went any way – just to deliver the man to do what he needed to do.

Not surprisingly, the man who was delivered wanted to go back with Jesus but was told no. Why would Jesus say no? Why leave the man with the very people who asked Jesus to leave? The man became a seed that was planted among a group of people who were afraid of Jesus’ power. What better person to help unravel this societal fear than one of their own! Now the good news had reached to the other side of the lake and although the storm was meant to stop it, the mission was accomplished!

What storm do you have today that you think Jesus is sleeping through? Do your storms make you feel alone in your boat? Do you feel like you’re sinking and need to wake up Jesus? By all means, scream to Him for help if you have to… just don’t be derailed or prevent your miracle from happening. Use your storm to assess your faith and remind yourself that Jesus is right there in the boat!

Those Quiet Moments…

“Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer” ~Psalm 94: 19


We all have quiet moments, whether welcomed or un-welcomed… and in most of those times, we tend to either questions ourselves or question God’s will for our lives. Using the Word of God in our quiet moments will empower us to hear from God, rejuvenate our bodies, and renew our minds.

We need quiet moments for God to speak to us.

The busy world often overwhelm us and we spend lots of time trying to accomplish or become accomplished. With work, school, kids, grocery shopping, business trips, and the list goes on, endless responsibilities all compete for our time and energy.

Scheduling quiet moments away from the noise should be at the top of our list so that we can hear from God. Jesus was the perfect example when He went out alone into the wilderness to pray long before daybreak [Mark 1: 35]. He got away from it all to have quiet moments with God and so should we.

Quiet times help us to rejuvenate our bodies.

Everyday life can take a toll on us causing unexplained stress and illnesses. We should purposefully retrieve into quiet times and use it to meditate on the Word of God. It will bring calmness and rest to our bodies – you may even get fresh ideas to revisit and restructure old ideas.

Quiet times can renew our minds.

Renewed minds transform us [Romans 12:2] and making time to ensure that our minds are renewed will equip us to function better spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Next time you feel quiet, try not to entertain doubt and turmoil. David asked for God to quiet him and give him renewed hope and cheer. Let’s use our quiet moments to turn to the Word of God so we can hear from Him, rejuvenate our bodies and renew your minds.

When I can’t find God…

Sometimes it seems hard to find God! I know He’s not lost but whenever we’re going through challenges, our thoughts and minds become clouded with our situations and it feels like we can’t find our way and our God.  Whenever I feel like this, going into worship mode usually helps – but this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. There are times when my flesh doesn’t want to go into worship mode – what do you do in times like these?  What do you do when you know what you’re supposed to do but you still “don’t feel like doing it?” – when you know if you reach out to someone they’re just going to tell you what you already know?

My approach has always been to just start playing worship music. At first when doing this, it feels like nothing is happening… but I keep the music flowing. After awhile…and sometimes a long while… my soul starts tuning in to the lyrics and the words begin to seep into my system. The Holy Spirit gets me to start thinking about the words of the song, and from there on, I can always count on Him to start intervening.

Eventually, my body catches up with my spirit and my mind begins to accept that God is really who I should focus on and not my circumstances. His Spirit begins to remind me how good He has been and that He’ll never leave me or forsake me.

This in itself is a breakthrough but the enemy does not want us to see it this way. So even at this stage, he still tries to whisper doubt that God isn’t listening or doesn’t even care, or the more popular one – we’re never going to get out of this one. This is when we have to open our mouths and rebuke him in the Name of Jesus. James 4:7 tells us that we must resist the devil and he will flee from us – not may – will. That’s power right there! If we want him to flee, we must resist him – that’s something that we have to choose to do.

It’s never easy to remain upbeat and spiritually motivated, but if we surround ourselves with worship music and songs that give God praise, we’ll find that God was standing right there with us all this time – through the clouds and through the challenges.

His promise is never to leave us and His Word is sure [John 14:16].  Below is one of my favorite worship songs to get you going. When you can’t find God… get your praise on and know that you are never alone!

You’ve Got This!

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” ~Philippians 4:13

As I sat outside watching baby birds learn how to fly, I thought about us as a people – I thought about how God our Father teaches us to do so many things so that we can spread our wings – just like the birds do.  He created us and placed us in the earth with tremendous abilities to learn, teach, motivate, inspire, and cultivate.  He gave us abilities to understand, think, and feel – yet sadly, many of us shy away from things we tell ourselves that we cannot do.

As I watched the birds fluttering in groves in the clear blue sky learning their routine, I couldn’t help but think that this act of togetherness was crucial to their survival. They were learning from each other!  Our great God gives us the same power to work together as a people – to learn from each other and become the best us.  He gives us the strength so that we can do all things through Him. Like the birds, we need each other to survive – when God’s strength unite us, we learn to encourage each other, look out for each other, and become more caring like our Heavenly Father.

What is it that you feel you can’t do?  Challenge yourself! Others have done it and so can you! Learn from others – ask God to help you know that with Him all things are possible.  Become the best you – maximize your potential and make the best of your life, and while you’re at it, spend time with friends and family – do fun stuff (I’m still a work-in-progress on this one) – do things that make you laugh – sit outside and just gaze into the skies, listen to the birds, your neighbor’s dog  – stop and smell the roses. I have learned that no matter how much I do, I always find myself returning to the place of rest where I need to stop, pray, ask God for renewed strength to continue my journey.  So can you!

Won’t you ask God today to help you do the things you were created to do? I challenge you!

No SHADOWS

“…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all ”

1 John 1:4-10

When I read this scripture, a few things jumped out at me that I wanted to share:

  • Verse 5 (This is the message God has given us to pass on to you: that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all):

The brightest of lights that I have been exposed to always cast a shadow, even if faintly. Imagine a brightness with no form of darkness – no shadows!  That’s God’s light! I can only imagine the tranquility and serenity that comes from such illumination – this is what the presence of God offers us.

  • Verse 7 (But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from every sin)

If we aren’t experiencing ‘wonderful fellowship and joy with each other’, we aren’t living in the light of God’s presence.  If we are living in the light of God’s presence then Jesus’ blood cleanses us from every sin and frees us to enjoy His light. This is good news!

Truth be told, we all have sinned – if we say we have not sinned we’re deceiving ourselves and we’re calling God a liar (v. 10).  Thankfully, we don’t have to live in our sins because of Jesus. We have the opportunity every day to confess them to Him so that He can cleanse us from every wrong.  This is how we become more and more like our Heavenly Father – receiving forgiveness, learning from our past failures, and trusting God to help us live in His light. No shadows!

Be HAPPY in your work

I may have read this scripture so many times before, but this time, it spoke to me in volumes:

Ecclesiastes 3:22 "So I saw that there is nothing better for men than that they should be happy in their work, for that is what they are here for, and no one can bring them back to life to enjoy what will be in the future, so let them enjoy it now."

Ever wondered why sometimes we find ourselves struggling to be happy in the jobs we do? I think it's because the enemy knows that God tells us to be happy in our work... and so... just as always, he works hard to get us to be sad and to disobey what God tells us.

If you're like me, perhaps you're not... but maybe your current job started out with you doing something just to make ends meet - that's how I started out - fresh out of high school.  I worked in office administration for more than 20 years and got stuck! During that season, there were many times when I felt like I would never get out of it - this often made me sad.  There were so many moments in that season when I felt unaccomplished and it felt hard to choose to be happy in my work.  I did what I could and although it wasn't what I really wanted to do, I tried hard to be happy - I tried to make the best of it - I told myself that I was doing it as unto the Lord.

Now that I think about it, those moments of 'unaccomplished feelings' were temptations that were set up to see if I would be disobedient to God's Word which tells us to rejoice always! I'm so glad that even though I had failed some of the tests, God remained my help through it all.  Every year was necessary and they became a foundation for who I am today!

I transitioned into becoming a Web and Graphics Designer and the attention-to-detail skills from being an administrative professional are now so unbelievably advantageous!  While I am only at the entrant stage, the enemy keeps trying to bring challenges to my thoughts to make me sad, wanting to be further than where I am now - he almost got me! Not today devil!  I thank God for His constant reminders through His Word "Be happy in your work", no matter which stage you're at.

If God tells us to be happy in our work, odds are the enemy is going to do everything to make us unhappy in our work. He does everything contrary to the will of God.  Know today that God sees the desires of your heart and if you let Him, He'll take you to where you need to be to fulfill your purpose in life and in Him.

Enjoy your NOW moment one day at a time - be happy in your work and aim towards becoming like our heavenly Father. He knows we're not perfect! Keep trying.

 

Keisha-Marie