I’m learning to do more of the things that bring me joy. Not things that others enjoy or think I should enjoy, do or try, but the things that genuinely bring joy to my life. It’s funny how people call you names or stereotype you if you don’t participate in certain things. And then there’s the other extreme, where other Christians try to restrict you to not enjoying certain things – restrictions not even mentioned in the Bible lol.
As a Christian, we have so much to be thankful for and can appreciate life in ways that non-believers can’t. We can truly live and enjoy life with God, as we include and embrace Him in all we do. We can even endure trials, tribulations and difficult times with a sense of peace, hope and encouragement that ONLY comes from having a relationship with God.
Even if we don’t necessarily have the means to do everything we want or desire to do at this present time, we can still appreciate and embrace life’s simple pleasures that bring us joy every day. That being said, I was prompted to make a list of the things in life that I enjoy and also to make it a point to start doing them more.
– a bubble bath or a long hot shower
– a glass of red wine just before bed
– trying a new restaurant and picking something on the menu that I’ve never had before
– roller coasters
“resolution” – a firm decision to do or not to do something
Happy New Year everyone! So its 2017 and that time of year again when many people make their “resolutions”. The gyms fill up with people who have resolved to work out and get back in shape. Churches fill up with people who have resolved to be more committed to going to church. Diet microwave meals fly off the grocery store shelves as people have resolved to eat healthier. Lists get posted to refrigerator doors, mirrors, walls, and even work cubicles as people name their top ten things that they are going to resolve to do or not do in the new year. And then…….well then comes February when all those “resolutions” (if they make it that far) go out the window.
I was just making my so-called list of resolutions for 2017 and realized that I hadn’t accomplished 80% of my 2016 resolutions. Not because I wasn’t focused, or that they weren’t important, or that I didn’t prioritize. However, it was honestly because I didn’t involve God in the process. My health, weight loss, need to get out of debt, need for a new car, desire to start saving for my son’s college expenses, plan to go on an overseas trip, etc., are all great and important goals to be focused on. However, setting goals or “resolutions” can become very monotonous, frustrating, tiring and even pointless if we try to accomplish them on our own apart from God.
I have therefore, resolved this year to do one thing: to delight myself in God and commit all my goals unto Him, while trusting that He will give me the desires of my heart in 2017. To delight oneself in the Lord means “to take great pleasure in” God. In other words, I want to take great pleasure in spending more time in His Word, prayer, and doing things that please Him, while committing my “resolutions” into His hands, trusting that He will begin to work in those areas of my life.
This does not absolve me from doing my part. Clearly if I want to be in better shape, I still need to work out, eat healthier, and take care of my body. What I’m realizing is that if I make God my number one priority/focus, and then commit all my other goals to Him, that He will give me the desires of my heart and will even strengthen me to work in areas where I fall short. We work soooo hard to get things we want/desire in this life, and working hard is not wrong in and of itself. However, sometimes we try to do all the work which makes it ten times harder for us, when all we need is to shift our focus to God. After all, the verses are plain – “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”; “commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this.” Even if it doesn’t all happen in 2017, it sure sounds like a guarantee to me – according to the Word of God!
Does this mean we will get every little thing we desire no matter what it is? Close but not quite lol! Keep in mind the prerequisite of the verse – “delight yourself in the Lord”. God did not make any mistakes in any of his promises. Think about it: if we truly begin to “delight” or “take great pleasure” in God and what pleases him, our heart’s desires will begin to align with God’s will and what He wants for us anyway. So yes, when one truly delights in the Lord, God will indeed give you the desires of your heart as they align with His will for your life.
So whether you’re making a list or not, as believers, lets “resolve” to delight in the Lord in 2017!
“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” – Acts 13:22 (NIV)
I love the fact that God called David of all people, “a man after his own heart”. In fact, God chose him and appointed him ruler over Israel, because of this. Why is this relevant/important? Because God, being God, knowing ALL things including what was to come – chose David and identified him as a “man after his own heart”. If you don’t know the full story see I Samuel chapter 16 and then II Samuel chapters 11 and 12 for context.
In the story David is chosen by God to be Israel’s new king. After many successful victories, David ‘falls’. Long story short, he lusts after a married woman, sleeps with her and gets her pregnant, befriends her husband (one of his own soldiers) and then puts a plan in place to have him killed in battle. David’s plan succeeds and the other man is reported dead. Then this ‘man after God’s own heart’ lets the wife mourn briefly, then marries her to ‘cover up the affair’, she has the baby and they continue with day to day life as if nothing has happened! See you haven’t seen a real Lifetime movie until you’ve read the Bible!
God then sends his servant Nathan to confront David regarding the situation, as well as, to pronounce the punishment that God has set forth, which is not a light one at all:
Samuel 12:7-12 (NIV)
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own. This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”
After all this, there is no denial, no excuses, no lying, and no running away. David simply responds as follows:
This response, is genuine, basic, straightforward and true. In his words of confession that “he has sinned against the Lord”, David not only acknowledges his sin, but he shows agreement with God by calling what God has deemed as sin to be sin. It is this very reason that God seeing David’s heart, and knowing exactly what sin David would commit when he appointed him as king, that God still considered him to be ‘a man after his own heart’. David wasn’t perfect, Continue reading →
This week God has been reminding me that not only do I need to trust in Him to do what He says He will do, but that I also need to remember to acknowledge Him in all that I do.
Webster’s dictionary defines “acknowledge” as follows: to accept or admit the existence or truth of. So if the Bible tells us to acknowledge God in all our ways so that He can direct our paths, that tells me that if in fact we proclaim to “trust” in Him, that we would display that “trust” by acknowledging his presence in every aspect of our lives. So what does that look like on a daily basis?
For me, its when I pray for a new job, acknowledging that God is Lord of my life, and committing what I want into His hands, but at the same time asking Him to show me what His will for my life is. In other words, “God, I want to work in education and instructional design so please direct me to a position where my skills can be utilized, but if there is something else you want me doing instead, please show me and direct me accordingly.”
Its letting God know my concerns about my child’s schooling and instead of trying to figure it out all on my own, acknowledging His sovereignty over my life, and asking Him to help me make the right decision.
Instead of just going out and buying a much needed new vehicle, its acknowledging God as provider of all things, and asking Him to direct me to the right dealership, with the best price as opposed to purchasing the car of my dreams that I really can’t afford. Continue reading →
It’s so easy to worry about any and everything. In fact the devil does his best to get us to do just that. From finances, to relationships, to our kids, to our health, there is plenty to worry, stress over and be anxious about it. In fact things can be going great in your life and yet and still, thoughts of worry can creep up into your mind.
God has been teaching me so much lately and I am happy to say that I have grown to a point that not much really worries me. Thanks and praise go to God, His Word and the Holy Spirit, for teaching me how to pray and not worry. I know for a fact that it was nothing that I did on my own or taught myself to do.
Lately, however, I feel like Satan has become fixated on this area of my life, because he knows that God is strengthening me in regards to prayer. Just when I think I’ve mastered it, and I’ve let my everyday problems, circumstances and issues that arise just roll off my back while I continue to give it all to God, all of a sudden, the devil tries a new tactic – getting me to worry about the future and stuff that could happen. Just these last two weeks, I’ve been plagued with thoughts out of the blue like:
‘when are you going to finally get a new car? you know its going to break down for real next time’
‘you don’t want your son going to public school for middle school do you? that’s when they change for the worse’
‘how are you going to afford to send him to college when he turns 18?’
‘more and more family members are being diagnosed with cancer, what if you’re next’
‘what if your job starts laying off people, you haven’t even begun to rebuild your savings back up’
‘what if you die tomorrow? did you revise your will? is your life insurance current?’
‘what if something bad happens to mom/dad, how are you going to take care of them?’
Sometimes we get to a place in our Christian journey, that in order to move forward or take that next step, it is often necessary to look back at where we’ve come from – to reflect, to remind us of His goodness, and sometimes to give us motivation to keep moving forward.
“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of the there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”
Each of us certainly has a story to tell and no two situations are exactly the same.
The Apostle Paul’s story in his own words:
Philippians 3:5-7 (CEV)
5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old, and I am from the nation of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a true Hebrew. As a Pharisee, I strictly obeyed the Law of Moses. 6 And I was so eager that I even made trouble for the church. I did everything the Law demands in order to please God. 7 But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless.
2 Corinthians 11:23-33 (CEV)
23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a fool to talk this way, but I serve him better than they do. I have worked harder and have been put in jail more times. I have been beaten with whips more and have been in danger of death more often. 24 Five times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes with a whip.25 Three times the Romans beat me with a big stick, and once my enemies stoned me. I have been shipwrecked three times, and I even had to spend a night and a day in the sea. 26 During my many travels, I have been in danger from rivers, robbers, my own people, and foreigners. My life has been in danger in cities, in deserts, at sea, and with people who only pretended to be the Lord’s followers. 27 I have worked and struggled and spent many sleepless nights. I have gone hungry and thirsty and often had nothing to eat. I have been cold from not having enough clothes to keep me warm.
I’m the eldest of two daughters born to a young couple in Richmond, VA. Mom would always take us to church while dad stayed home. I remember I never even liked going to church – something about how people behaved so proper and “holy” inside the building and so rude and mean outside the building. Eventually, I learned to fake sick so I could stay home with dad too. Then dad eventually ended up in jail and was released on house arrest some time later. When I was 12 years old, I’ll never forget the man and woman (who would later become my spiritual parents) who were going door to door talking to people in our neighborhood about Jesus. I thought it was all a load of crap, Continue reading →
I don’t know about you, but I hate being told by someone that I “can’t” do something. “Can’t” used in the sense that something can’t be accomplished. I made a vow recently to God in a specific area of my life. I decided to spend some time fasting and praying, as ‘this vow’ would be a much needed change for me, not to mention the fact that it was a stepping stone in the right direction to move me out of an area of sin I have been struggling with and back into the closer relationship with God that I once knew. I wanted accountability and prayer partners for and throughout this process. Little did I know that one of the persons I would approach as a prayer partner, a good Christian friend of mine, would flat out tell me that I couldn’t do it!
She didn’t say “this will be a challenge”, or “with God all things are possible”, or “this is a step in the right direction, and I’ll definitely be praying along with you”; but literally “you can’t do that”. Continue reading →
Time is the one thing we all take for granted in one way or another. This week as my only child completed 3rd grade and brought home several certificates, trophies, a medal for Student of the Year and a straight A report card, I was overwhelmed with excitement, gratefulness and joy. He didn’t know it, but I also had tears – happy tears – just pondering the goodness of God and thankful for His continuous blessings in our lives. I’ve officially been a single mom for the last 4 years and each year that my son and I get through, I look back in retrospect as I marvel at all the ways God has been by our side every step of the way. That’s a story in and of itself, but my point today is “time”.
For the last 4 years, two things have been my sole focus and driving motivation – God and my son. I vowed 1) in spite of all the terrible things I had been through that I would never stop serving God and 2) that I would raise my son the best way I possibly could and teach him to serve God also. He’s 9 years old now, intelligent, funny, extremely active, and has a strong sense of sarcasm that mirrors my own! I don’t miss our mother-son time for anything or anyone. We have our daily routines which include eating dinner together (usually at his Ninja Turtle table and chair set lol), watching one of his favorite shows, and a bed time story / devotions (usually 3 times a week). Then we have our mother/son Saturdays once a month – shopping, a movie, going out to eat, or simply running errands and spending his allowance on something fun like the arcade, skating, or laser tag. But outside of all that, it’s the brief random moments that I love the most. Those times when he says things like “mom, you’re the best”, or in his prayer, he prays for my strength to take care of him, or when he gives me a hug for no reason and says ‘I love you mom’; even those sporadic days when he thinks about his father and says ‘mom, as long as you’re here I’ll be ok’ (tear). Oh, and lets not forget the times of confession – when right before bed he wants to confess something he did wrong that day lol. Continue reading →
This verse is so easy to quote and yet so hard to actually do sometimes. We can say it to others to try and encourage them but how quickly we forget it when our own time of “waiting” actually comes. I’ve recently been struggling with waiting for a new/better job opportunity. I’ve been on my current job for almost 3 years, with little room for growth or increase in pay. I’ve actually been given more responsibility disguised as a “better opportunity” only to still have the same title and pay at the end of the day…..oh and not to mention stricter guidelines and a reduction in my bonus….yeah I’m smh too. After being promised a new role within a year of starting this job, the fulfillment of that promise keeps getting pushed further and further away. I’m sure many of you can identify with this scenario. However, in the midst of complaining, talking about management, and wishing I could just quit most days, God has been vigorously reminding me through His Word how horrible my attitude has been while I wait for Him to answer my prayers: Continue reading →
Because the one true mirror is the Word of God, I have to remember becoming more like Him is my one and only goal in this life. I just need compete to be better than I used to be and strive to keep growing. When we compare ourselves to others we will always find someone “not on our level” and then tend to think we are ok because we aren’t “as bad as them”. We may even compare ourselves to someone who actually is a great role model whom we should aspire to be like. However, at the end of the day, the one and only true standard of perfection is Christ, and until we look into the mirror of His Word and see how much room for improvement we truly have in this life, we’ll never be aspiring toward the right things. Let’s keep reading and growing each day! Not measuring ourselves against each other but only against ourselves in our quest to become more like Christ.
“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Life may genuinely suck for you right now or at least it sure seems that way. But I’m learning that even on the worst of days to just be grateful for God’s presence in my life. Not for the material things, the job, money, car, or significant other. Now don’t get me wrong, those things are good too and we should be thankful for what we have. But most importantly I’m grateful for God and the fact that because of His presence in my life and the relationship I have with Him, that I can go through some serious crap in this life, but still be more than okay because of Him. When we shift or change our focus and begin to just give Him praise, spend time in prayer and thank Him continually no matter what is going on around us, do you know how much our lives will begin to change for the better? I’m not saying all the bad stuff, heartache, frustrations, and pain will vanish. But your attitude in the midst of life’s toughest circumstances and situations will begin to shift dramatically. Instead of stress, worry, doubt, anger, and bitterness, you’ll start to see things that used to raise your tension levels, become less and less of a “problem” for you. People’s harsh words and actions towards you, the car breaking down, getting sick, or your kids stressing you out, will no longer be “the end of the world”. After all if you look at the end of the verses referenced above, you’ll see that being joyful always, praying continually and giving thanks in all circumstances is God’s will for us. And just think, we are always searching for “God’s will” for our lives. Well this is one of several verses that tells us for sure what part of His will for us truly is. Just try it….everyday, even if for a few minutes, take time to just give Him praise, talk to Him, and name several things you are thankful for. I could complain and be stressed all day long about the fact that I had to deplete my savings for $1000 on unexpected truck repairs this week, or I could give thanks to God that I had the $1000 saved up in the first place to take care of this emergency!