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How to Find Joy and Peace

Matthew 10:30-31 says, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows,” (NLT). The Lord doesn’t care so much about our accomplishments. He created each and every one of us to be unique and special. He values even our hair—whether it’s a lot or only a little! God loves me. God loves you. He loved you when you were only a child, with mud on your nose and peanut butter in your hair. He loved you when you succeeded and when you failed. His love is completely unconditional.

Take a moment to think about that truth. You don’t have to prove anything to God. He just loves you because you exist. God loved you before you were born. He loved you before you even knew Him. He loved you when you were lost in your sins and He came to take care of that! You don’t have to look a certain way or do a certain thing to earn His love. He loves you and He values you, more than you can ever fathom. Even when you mess up and fall flat on your face, He still loves you. Believe this truth. It will set you free.

Our world teaches that the only person you can really trust in is yourself. Unfortunately, that’s a lie. For one thing, the Bible teaches that you cannot trust yourself at all. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death,” (AMP). We, left to our own devices, are headed for destruction, death, and hell. However, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take,” (NLT).

Sometimes, it’s really hard to trust anyone else, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past. Trusting in God can seem extremely difficult because of the simple fact that you can’t see Him or touch Him. However, anyone and everyone can EXPERIENCE God anywhere, anytime.

The great thing about Jesus (God) is He never lies and He always keeps His promises. He is completely reliable and absolutely faithful. If He said it, that settles it! Every promise written in the Bible is for you and me. The Bible was written not just for a few people, but for the entire world. Jesus does not force Himself on people; He simply offers Himself and His Spirit. He wants to walk with you. He wants a relationship with you. Matthew 11: 28-30 says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly,” (MSG).

I’ve heard it preached that the Lord wants to show you what a real Sabbath is. If you are living a life of perpetual fatigue, perhaps you are carrying around too many burdens. Jesus wants you to have a life that is light. He wants to show you a better, more joyful way to live. When we finally let go of our worries and believe the truth that God can handle our lives better than we can, suddenly we sleep better. We awake refreshed and energized. And joy quietly fills us. It’s there, exactly where it’s supposed to be, felt freely and fully.

Remember Psalm 37:4? It says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart,” (AMP). This means that if you will walk with the Lord, He will make your dreams come true.

Excerpted from my book Allowing Joy Into Your Life coming soon.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in encouraging posts, Excerpts

 

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Characteristics of Living Organisms–Physical and Spiritual, Part 1

English: A collage of organisms.

English: A collage of organisms. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Feeding – All living organisms need to take substance from their environment to obtain energy, to grow, and to stay healthy.

Luke 4:4 – And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Matthew 6:11 – Give us this day our daily bread

1 Peter 2:2 – As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby:

If we don’t take in the word of God and apply it to our lives, if we are hearers only and not doers of the Word of God, then just like in the natural, we won’t have energy, we won’t grow, and we will not be healthy Christians. The very first thing that we need to do is begin to digest the things of God: Bible reading, prayer, faithfulness. These will be the things that sustain us. When we feel like we don’t have the energy to go on, the Bible declares that when we are weak then He is strong. Matthew 11:28 says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Movement – All living organisms show movement of one kind or another, whether it be internal movement (moving substances from one part of the body to another) or external movement (move from place to place)

2 Corinthians 5:7 – (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Psalms 101:6 – Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way

There is a point where you must stand your ground. Moses declares to the children of Israel to stand still and see the glory of the Lord, but there is also a time where we march. Where we take that leap of faith and move toward the high mark that God is calling us to.

The Bible says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. The Bible declares that if God is for us than who can stand against us? I submit to you today, that we put on the whole armor of God and march, in faith, knowing that God has already given His church the victory. We just need to increase our faith in God and know it.

James 2:26 – For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. I submit to you today, that if you have faith, you won’t stand still, but you will march and claim that victory that God has already given to you. There is a war. There is a spiritual battle for your souls. There is a lost and dying world out there and we have been put here for such a time as this. It is time to move. ‘Satan this is it. We’re tired of taking it. Satan we declare WAR!!!’ Satan is not just going to give us these souls. He’s worked hard to build his kingdom. Are we supposed to believe that he is just going to hand souls over? NOW is the time. TODAY is the day of salvation.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of sitting still. I just heard a story of an Apostolic taking her life. In my short time of being in church, I have seen soul after soul backslide and fall away from God. We have the truth. We have the revelation of who God is. We have the Victory. We just have to walk in faith and claim the victory as our own.

This is excerpted from an Inspiration preached by: Vernon McCoy

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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The Cure for Burn-Out–God’s Way

Me: “It’s impossible.”
•    Jesus: “And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God,” Luke 18:27.

Me: “I’m exhausted.”
•    Jesus: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

Me: “I just can’t do it anymore.”
•    Jesus: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” Philippians 4:13.

Me: “I can’t figure it out.”
•    Jesus: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6.

Me: “It’s not worth it.”
•    Jesus: “And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28.

Me: “I’m afraid.”
•    Jesus: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” II Timothy 1:7.

Me: “I’m frustrated and worried.”
•    Jesus: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you,” I Peter 5:7.

Me: “I’m just not smart enough.”
•    Jesus: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ,” I Corinthians 2:16.

Me: “I feel so alone.”
•    Jesus: “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Hebrews 13:5.

Me: “I’m burned out. I just don’t want to go on anymore.”
•    Jesus: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord,” Acts 3:19.

This is excerpted from an article called ‘God’s Cure for Burn-Out’. I do not have the source. If anyone knows who I can give credit to, please let me know.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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Dyin’ Inside, Guest Post

This is from one of our Blog Post contest winners.

Dyin’ Inside

I’m the kind of girl who hates to cry
I cover up with a laugh but really I’m dyin’ inside
I’d stay up late into the night
Crying because I couldn’t face the light,
I was dyin’ inside
Dyin’ inside

Mia put down her pen and began strumming on her guitar; her lips moved as she silently mouthed the words of this first verse of a song she was writing. If there was one thing she knew, it was pain. Not physical pain, but a constant pain she kept inside.

Her parents had no idea how she felt, and she didn’t know how to approach them with something like this. She’d never felt very special. She’d always been overshadowed by the achievements of her younger brothers and sisters. It hurt, knowing that her parents weren’t as proud or as happy about what she was interested in. What hurt even more was the fact that when she expressed an interest in music, neither of her parents seemed to notice, whereas when her younger sister expressed an interest in it, they went out of their way to teach her what she wanted to know.

She picked up her pen again and began writing.

Do you know what that feels like?
People not seeing through your disguise?
I’m waiting for someone who’s brave enough to see
That through this mask that something’s killing me
I’m dyin’ inside
Dyin’ inside

Mia brushed away another tear and picked up her phone and read the text message. It was from Tammy.
Hey, it said, how are you doing?
Heyyy Tammaayy I’m doing okay I guess, Mia quickly texted back.
That’s great! Tammy replied.

Mia pressed her lips together and kept writing the song. Then, another text came, and the personalized ringtone sang, “I love you more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine…”

Is everything okay? Ashlynn, the youth pastor’s sister, had just texted her.
Another text from Ashlynn: I just felt an overwhelming urge to pray for you. I just wanted you to know that I’m here for you whenever you need anything!

Mia felt tears welling up in her eyes as she continued writing.

I’ve fooled everyone with a laugh and a smile
I try to shake these feelings for a while
But then I heard Someone whispering my name
You said, “Come here child, I’ll hold you tight
“I’ll give you peace to deal with this hectic life,
“I’ll give you strength so that you can keep holding on tight,
“I’ll give you hope so that you will keep going on,
“I’ll give you life so that you can stop dyin’ inside.”
Dyin’ inside

Thanks, Ash! I’ve actually been battling feelings of inadequacy and bitterness.
After a short pause, Mia quickly sent another text. Sorry, I sound like I’m whining!
It’s okay, girl! Never feel ashamed to tell me what’s really bothering you, came the reply. But I think God wants you to know that He’s holding you right now. Even when you can’t feel it. He’s always got your back! And I do to!

Mia continued writing the song.

So now I can finally see
And I finally accept and believe
That Jesus has got my back
He’s got it through the attack
But for anyone who is struggling with life
For anyone who’s dyin’ inside

Hey, Mia! Greg, a friend from her church who was like the older brother she never had, texted her. Got some pretty amazing news: you don’t have to die anymore. Jesus is right by your side. Just keep holding on! P.S. Hebrews 13:5 “…I will neither leave thee nor forsake thee.” P.S. 2… I really don’t know why I just told you that…but I hope it helps!
The amazing part was that Mia hadn’t even told him about how she’d been feeling.

Another verse was added to the song:

You don’t have to die anymore
He’s here to calm all your storms
So go on, run into His arms
Where He’ll keep you safe from all harm

Her phone rang. At first she ignored it, trying to think of what seemed to be missing, until she heard the lyrics from the personalized ringtone: “…If you’re a ship and you’re lost in the ocean, I’ll be the wind in your sails, give you motion, I will guide you home…”
She answered it.
“Hello?”
“I wanted to say this so that you could hear it, instead of just reading it through a text,” the person on the other line said. She recognized the voice and smiled. It was Jackie, her friend back in Wisconsin.
“Hey, what’s up, Jackie?”
“Remember that melody line that you sang right before you moved?” Jackie asked.
“Yeah…”
“I had an idea. It’s just a few lines, but I’ve got something.”
“Okay, let’s hear it.”

Those last four lines were the end of her song:

Now I’m not saying life won’t be hard
But I know that God is never far
He’s always been by your side
He’s always been holding you tight

Soon after hanging up with Jackie, her phone rang again. As she reached for the phone, Mia sighed and smiled through tears that she hadn’t realized had been falling down her cheeks, wondering if she’d ever get some peace to actually play through the whole song.
“Hey, Dad!”
“Hey, Mia,” her father said. “I just wanted to say that I’m proud of you. Love you!” then he hung up.

Mia cried. She’d never felt so happy. God knew exactly what she’d needed. And His timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

And she was finally able to play through the song.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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3 Thieves Keeping You From Doing God’s Call on Your Life–And What to Do About Them

Did you know that God has great plans for YOU? He has work for you to do that is fulfilling, exhilarating, and challenging. Do you know what your calling is? You probably do, but there are three thieves that will work against you fulfilling your calling. Here they are–and here’s what to do about them:

1. Distractions. It is so easy to get distracted with all that is going on around you. There are e-mails, phone calls, text messages, children, housework, jobs, church work, and the list goes on and on. Some of these are responsibilities that need to be prioritized. Some, not so much.

The solution to distractions is two-fold. First, pray. Ask the Lord to direct your day. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” (KJV). The second solution piggy-backs off the first and is simply this: prioritize. That doesn’t mean you take over and figure out how to run your day. What it means is submit to the Lord your day and ask Him what and how you should prioritize all that is in it. As you work together with Him, you will see that you have plenty of time for all that He has for you to do. It will be a joy to you.

2. Intimidation/Fear. Sometimes, you just don’t feel qualified. Why on earth did God call me to this anyway? I can’t do this. Such and so would be a much better choice. And it goes on.

The solution to this is submission. God does not care so much about your ability. After all, if you can do it all yourself, you don’t really need Him, do you? Who gets the glory then? That doesn’t excuse you from working hard to learn new skills or practice to get better. However, the bottom line is the fact that God is more interested in someone who is WILLING than in someone who is able. He can handle your short-comings. He created you. Just as God helped Moses’ speech issues, He can help you with whatever you struggle with. Just obey Him. Someone once said, ‘God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.’ I would add to that, ‘He qualifies those who submit to Him and seek to do His will regardless.

3. You just don’t have the ‘want to’. Sometimes, you simply don’t feel like doing what God has called you to do. For instance, one of the things God has called me to do is play piano in church. There are days I just don’t want to practice. Sometimes, I even feel like running away from the call. After all, other people play much better than me. Who am I? I can’t do this.

The solution to this problem is a combination of the other two. Submit and Pray. It doesn’t matter how you feel. If you are called to play the piano or write or teach Sunday School, you need to submit to God’s call on your life and obey Him. Trust Him to work out the details. Pray about each step He wants you to take. He will show you. He will lead you.If you get stuck, pray. Ask others for prayer and godly counsel. Jesus will help you if you simply ‘trust and obey’.

Jesus loves you and has a purpose  for your life that is tailor-made just for you. As you grow in your faith, you will be amazed at all He does in your life. You will be amazed at the insights you gain. As you work to submit your life to Him and walk with Him, you will have a life filled with adventure and joy.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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How to Make a Difference in a Big Way–The Butterfly Effect

Recently, I’ve been reading up on the Butterfly Effect. This is a phenomenon in which a butterfly flaps its wings down in Brazil and influences the weather up in Chicago. Wiki says it like this: “The phrase [butterfly effect] refers to the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in another location. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events (compare: domino effect). Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.

“Note that the butterfly does not cause the tornado. The flap of the wings is a part of the initial conditions; one set of conditions leads to a tornado while the other set of conditions doesn’t. It’s possible that the set of conditions without the butterfly flapping its wings is the set that leads to a tornado.” (Taken from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect).

So, at this point you might be thinking, all of this is interesting, but what on earth does it have to do with anything? Well, you are a butterfly. Therefore where and when and how you beat your wings is important.

Do you want your life to be better? Do you want to see the lives of those around you changed for the better? Then, let’s take a closer look at that butterfly.

Note, the butterfly does not cause the tornado, he is just part of the correct conditions in order for it to happen. How can we as Christians be part of the correct conditions for revival to happen in our lives and churches?

1. You need to be positioned correctly. You have to be under the anointing of the Lord. You have to be submitted to your pastors and the leaders the Lord has placed over you. You can stand right next to a waterfall and never get wet. You have to be underneath it in order to get the full effect. It’s not enough to just get misted a bit. If you want real change, you’ve got to get fully wet.

2. You need to be sensitive to the Lord’s timing. I may want all kinds of things and work with all my might and yet see nothing for my efforts. Remember, you don’t cause the tornado, you are part of the right conditions. If you allow the Lord to direct your efforts, it is then that you will see the change.

3. You need to have the right attitude. You can’t affect the kind of change you want with a bad attitude. You can’t affect the changes you want if you think you don’t matter. Each person is of tremendous importance. You matter. It’s not just what you do or say, it’s also how you do or say things.

4. You need to actually move those wings! It isn’t enough to be under the anointing and be sensitive to the Lord’s will and have the right attitude if you never actually flap your wings. The Lord has chosen to work through you to accomplish His will. As you flap your wings, you will see miracles begin to happen all around you and even on the other side of the world.

The Lord has great plans for your life. Partner with Him and see it all come together in ways you never expected. It is truly an adventure like no other.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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My husband said the most interesting thing the other day. He said, ‘The Lord wants us to become untouchable, but we want to remain untouched.’

Think about that for a moment. How can we ever be overcomers if there are never any challenges in our lives for us to overcome? I admit, I don’t like dealing with stress. There are days when I feel like I’m being pulled in about fifty different directions. Sometimes life is difficult. Homeschooling five kids is no easy walk in the park. Just being a wife and mother isn’t always easy either. It’s not always easy following the Lord’s call in my life. But, it’s good. I would never exchange my life for all the world has to offer.

It’s so easy to get annoyed when we think something unfair has happened. When we’re trying to get out the door, of course that’s the time the baby needs a diaper change (and complete new outfit!). When we’re tired, of course that’s the time that someone loses something (for the fifth time) and needs it right now! When we’re not feeling well, of course that’s the time a child is grumpy and frustrated with math.

God wants us to learn to not hold it all together ourselves. He wants to walk closely beside us. He wants to answer our prayers. How can we learn to delight in Him if we never bother to talk to Him? Or worse, we spend hours in prayer and walk away unchanged?

We’ve got to grow our faith. We’ve got to seek the Lord in our lives every day. If I don’t come out of my prayer time unchanged, I just wasted the Lord’s time and mine. If reading the Bible doesn’t change me, that time spent was hardly better than reading the latest best-seller.

What does it mean to walk WITH Jesus? What does it mean to DELIGHT in the Lord? I know it isn’t always easy or fun or even safe.Take a closer look at Psalm 23:

(v1) “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(v2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (v3) He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
(v4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
(v5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
(6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

Say what?! This has me walking through the valley of the shadow of death and sitting down with my enemies standing in the same room! We think of Psalm 23 as being so pastoral and ‘relaxing’, but it’s not. There’s tough stuff going on there. I’ve sung such lovely songs with those verses, but what’s the reality?

I want to draw ever closer to the Lord. I want to dwell in His house forever, but I don’t want to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I don’t want to eat at a table before my enemies. Unfortunately, I can’t have one without the other. Pastor Forkpa said, “God cares less about your comfort than He does about your character.” If I really want to get close to Jesus, if I really want to become untouchable, then I have to do things His way. You know what, that’s really the best way!

Related article: ‘Mess…or Miracle?’

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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