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Be Thankful

24 Aug

Christian Mom

We read in Exodus 15 that right after the Lord delivered the Israelites from the hands of Pharoah by miraculously dividing the red sea, they sang and worshipped the Lord through a song. However, It is ironic that just after the victory, the miracles, and the powerful hand that God has shown them – they grumbled to the Lord.

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Victory through Your Wilderness

28 Jul

Wilderness-a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings. (Merriam-Webster)

Growing up in the south left me with a passion for nature that causes me to look for plant life, even in the midst of New York City. And as much as I love nature, I’m not fond of the raw wilderness. Based on the definition above, humans weren’t meant to inhabit the wilderness anyway.

If I dared to brave the wilderness, I can imagine hearing the sound of snakes rustling through dry leaves, coyotes howling in the night, thirst with no sign of water, and an overwhelming sense of insecurity. Yet, wilderness experiences are sometimes a part of the journey of life.

Take Moses for example. You’re probably familiar with his great wilderness experience through which he miraculously led the children of Israel for 40 years. (Ex.14-Lev.) But Moses had a more personal wilderness experience that prepared him for the big adventure.

For 40 years, Moses lived in the wilderness, caring for his father in laws flock. By the time God captured his attention with the burning bush leading to the big adventure, Moses had forgotten who He was. (Ex. 2: 1, 11)

He forgot that he was well educated and spoke well as a result of growing up in the palace. He forgot that he was destined to deliver the children of Israel out of slavery and lead them into the promise land. God revealed these things to Moses years before, when he lived in the palace. (Acts 7:21-22) But during his 40 years in the wilderness Moses forgot.

When God told him to go and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, Moses was dumfounded and required an assistant. (Ex. 6:28-7:7) Moses forgot who he was and temporarily forgot who God was as well – the One who created him for this very purpose. (Ex. 3:11, 13-15)

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Jesus also had a wilderness experience. He was there for 40 days and came face to face with Satan, the tempter and father of lies. Jesus overcame His wilderness experience by remembering who He was, His purpose, and the One who led him into the wilderness. Each time Satan tempted him saying “if You are the Son of God”, Jesus quoted God’s word and remembered that it is all about God. Jesus stood knowing who He was, whose He was, and what God said. (Math 4:1-11)

Whether we like it or not, the wilderness awaits us on the path of life. Let’s follow the life of Jesus and stand firm on who we are and whose we are, GOD’S chosen sons and daughters. Let’s come through standing on what God said. Even in the wilderness, let’s remember – it’s still all about GOD!

Consider The Source

26 Mar

As you move full speed ahead into blessings, be careful to consider the source of every “blessing” . Keep in mind that Satan offers gifts that appear as blessings, but with a hidden price.

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Perfect example, after Jesus was baptized, He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting 40 days and nights, Jesus was hungry. Satan urged Jesus to turn stones into bread. (Math. 4:1-11)

There’s nothing wrong with eating after a fast. It’s the “how”, in the invitation. Satan urged Jesus to use His power to make bread. Being full of The Holy Spirit, Jesus refused to provide food for Himself using Satan’s suggested method, considering the source and the timing to be evil. Be sure your blessings are derived God’s way, in His timing, not through manipulation, bribery, or deceitfulness.

Satan offered Jesus power and glory, if only Jesus would worship Him. For us, power and glory is equivalent to the world’s definition of “success”. But what is success, except the fulfillment of God’s will in your life? Besides this, Jesus knew that power and glory already belonged to Him. Success belongs to you, as follow Jesus’ will for your life, acknowledging Him in all your ways.

Man in Blue Suit

Lastly, Satan advised Jesus to cast Himself down from a peak, allowing angels to catch Him. For us this could mean engaging in risky behaviors, expecting God to rescue us because we are His. It could be as simple as speeding through red lights, confident that we won’t have an accident.

Perhaps you’re considering purchasing a home with costs above your income, assuming that God will help you pay the mortgage. Or maybe, quitting your job and starting your own business before saving enough to keep you going. It could even mean engaging in a risky relationship counting on God to help you change the person, when the truth is, we can’t change anyone.

Consider the source of your “blessings”. Like Jesus, know the word of God so that you’re prepared to discern between blessings from God, and lusts derived from the flesh. God wants to bless you. Satan wants to trap you. Consider the source!

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Are you Paying Close Attention?

1 Feb

During my college days, one of my professors excitedly said “pay close attention” whenever we discussed a topic we were sure to find again on an exam. The professor wanted everyone to excel in his class. He took such joy in making sure we were actually present, not just physically, but mentally during class.

Our Heavenly Father, God, is even more excited when we “pay close attention” to His word.  And yes, God still speaks.

He speaks in countless ways. Sometimes it’s through the Holy Spirit deep within us. Other times it may be a faint whisper. He speaks through His word, through dreams, visions, as well as through people.

Unfortunately, we are sooo busy these days until we’ve frequently missed messages at times when we should have “payed close attention”.

Like the professor, Our Father desires that we pass every exam, or trial so to speak. However, if we aren’t making time to read, to pray, and to listen carefully we are missing out on being filled with God’s will and His strength that will enable us to pass the tests that life brings.

You may be wondering how you can be sure that our Father is attempting to get a specific message across to you. God confirms His messages. If you hear a message repeated, no matter how simple, more than likely, this message is designed uniquely to encourage and strengthen you.

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For example, a family member shared an awesome testimony stating that we need to remember how God worked things together for us in the past, and know that He will work out our current circumstance too. Later that day, I read similar words in a devotional. I realized that God was speaking and wanted me to “pay close attention”!

What message has our Father attempted to get across to you? No matter what you’re facing today, “pay close attention” knowing that the Lord will bring you through stronger, moving you from faith to faith (Ro. 1:17), and glory to glory (II Co. 3:18) as you “pay close attention” to the messages He’s sending specifically to encourage and strengthen you, enabling you to pass the tests of life.

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.
Proverbs 4:20-22

The Power of Your Song

30 Oct
I’ve come to realize the days I don’t feel like singing are the days I need to sing most.
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Before knowing Jesus, I “sang the songs that made the whole world sing” with Barry Manilow. Maybe you’ve never heard of him. But surely you’ve heard of another of my old favorites, Stevie Wonder and “I’ll Be Loving You Always”.
Now, I awake hearing songs in my soul such as Hawk Nelson’s  “Live Like You’re Loved” and Hillsong’s “So Will I”.
Jesus changed my song, just as He changed my life. He surrounds me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7). His songs confirm that all is well, even when my natural eyes only see the opposite.(ll Corinthians 5:7)
There’s a Bible story that clearly demonstrates the power of deliverance through songs along with prayers. The disciples were beaten and thrown into jail after delivering a young lady from a spirit of divination. They began to praise God through prayers and songs. Consequently there was an earthquake that shook the place, opening all of the jails doors and loosening every chain. Everyone was set free! (Acts 16:26)
Many of us are not inclined to pray and sing when we feel as though we’re beaten by our circumstances. If we could only get our eyes off our situations and focus on the Lord, hope would rise. Worshiping the Lord, especially when we don’t feel like it can produce power that delivers us and those around us from a victim mentality into victory.
Be intentional about your song in good times, for those songs can be used in trying times to deliver you from depression and oppression into spiritual victory. You may even set someone else free.
So what are you singing today? Are you singing at all?  It’s not too late for change.  Sing a song unto Him who is our Song and gain strength, delivering you into a place of miracles. (Isaiah 12:2, Psalm 118:14, Exodus 15:2 Psalm 28:7)
“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD.” (‭‭Psalm‬ ‭40:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

Miracle On 34th Street

1 Feb

 
Yes, I know that Christmas has passed. But you’ve seen it haven’t you? It’s a classic movie called “Miracle on 34th Street”. Of course it has a happy ending as a gentleman who works in Macy’s with the name Kris Kringle proves to be none other than Santa. 

Last month, I happened to actually be on 34th street with a couple of co-workers and went with them to Macy’s. The Christmas window decorations were fascinating. The crowd was captivated by the moving figures, the glamor, and the wonder of it all, and so was I.

However, the memories etched in my mind from that day spark emotions that rain upon holiday cheer. We saw an elderly woman sitting on the sidewalk layered in winter gear. Her tattered cardboard sign said “mother & son homeless.” There was no son in sight. Touched by the scene, we gave her money.

As we walked that short distance of only a few blocks, we saw homeless people here, and another there. It had been a while since I visited the city. I was not prepared. I should have had more dollars ready to distribute. I was not prepared to see people lying on the street on top of flattened cardboard boxes in the winter.  

While waiting for the train to leave the city, a woman neatly dressed, within the fifty to sixties age range said hello and smiled. Her makeup was excessive, almost clownish. “Do you have money or food” she asked through her painted lips. “I’m pregnant”, she said. I gave her the unopened snacks I had taken with me that day. 

I prayed, knowing I had not done enough, nor could I do enough for the people that needed help that day. But what would the world be like if each of us did what we could to help at least one person each day? There would surely be more miracles on 34th Street! The people on 34th street, or maybe even on your street are waiting. 

““Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:37-40‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ 

Today!

3 Jan

I live in an area that has alternate side parking. Vehicles are ticketed by the city when parked on the side designated for street cleaning on specific days of the week.

Since I was blessed to travel during this holiday season, alternate side parking was definitely on my mind. The week before I left, I constantly reminded myself that I had to leave the car parked on the Tuesday side of the street in order to avoid getting a parking ticket while I was away.

Ironically, I was so consumed with parking on the correct side of the street before going away, that I forgot to park on the correct side before my vacation started. I received a ticket the day before my vacation began.

Instead of being annoyed with the city, or myself, I grabbed hold of the lesson learned through this experience. Sometimes we can be so consumed with tomorrow until we actually miss the gift of today.

How can we apply this lesson within this New Year? It’s wise to begin by being thankful that God has blessed us and brought us through one year and into another. We do not, and can not give ourselves life, only God can (Genesis 2:7, Acts 17:25). Let’s be thankful for all of our yesterday’s (Psalm 107:1).

Secondly, may we become so conscious of now, of today, this gift of the present, that we thoroughly enjoy every moment of it. Of course we should always plan wisely for the future. But Lord help us not to be soooo consumed with the future, that we relinquish the the benefits the Lord loads us with each day (Psalm 68:19). Those benefits include family, friends, and even the responsibilities of TODAY!
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