Watch and Pray

I have a few friends that serve in the military–one who I am really close with–and I always admire her drive. Just the process of getting into the military alone can be strenuous mentally and physically, so I can just imagine when training is over and they are in full fledged action. They not only have to be fighting through a battle for themselves, but they have to look out for their fellow soldiers as well. They have to always be aware of their enemies. I would imagine it takes focus and the skill of multi tasking to be an effective soldier.

There’s a story in the bible (Judges 7) that deals with effective soldiers and non effective ones. God called a man named Gideon to lead His people out of their imprisonment/slavery from a wicked nation called the Midianites. God gave Gideon specific instructions on how to pick the best soldiers. First, God told Gideon to dismiss majority of the men because there were too many. God knew that if they were to win the battle, they would take all the credit for themselves and wouldn’t acknowledge God. Then He told Gideon to bring the selective few down to the river and divide them into 2 groups. The ones who cupped the water in their hands and lapped it (like a dog) were put in one group. The others who put their face straight down to the water, were put in another group. LOOK AT THIS CLOSELY…the men kneeling down with their face directly to the water, were only thinking of themselves. They were thirsty and went face down in the waters.  The other men, however, drank from their hands while STILL looking up. They were not only drinking, but they were alert at all times. There were only 300 of these men. They started with 32,000 men initially, and God narrowed it down to 300 genuine soldiers, who drank and WATCHED!

Where am I going with this? If you have dedicated your life to God fully to be a true soldier, you have to watch AND pray! It’s time to multi task. Too long we as soldiers are praying but not WATCHING. Can you discern/ understand the times we are living in? BE ALERT! God told me in the beginning of this year, that it’s time to be aware. This is an awareness time! Don’t pray in vein, KEEP Your spiritual eyes open. More times than not, God is showing us things. Are we aware? Are we watching? It’s not the time to be concerned about OURSELVES! It’s not the time to have our face down to the waters. We have to be watching. Looking out for our other soldiers. Looking at the news. Looking in the bible, looking at ISRAEL! What is going on in Israel? Where are we? Direct your prayers to your leaders, to the ones in office that they will make the right decisions. Pray for those that are starving. Pray for countries like Italy, whose having a hard time. Pray for your brothers and sisters who are not saved! The Lord is at hand.

Even though God says that no one knows the day nor the hour of when He will come, He does give us signs. Are we watching? Matthew 24 and 25 gives us signs about the rapture AND the second coming of Jesus to earth. It talks about all we need to know for this time. We have to get into the word of God. Colossians 4:2 says “Continue in prayer and watch in the same with thanksgiving;” While your watching pray. One doesn’t go without the other. Some are watching too much but not praying. What good does that do? You will only get worried. It’s time to pray! Be encouraged. We are going to be ok. That’s what the word says. As long as we do our part. Remember, we won’t be here on earth forever. There is more to our hope, than this life.

2020 Vision

We are coming to the end of the first quarter of the year. March ends the first quarter and April begins the second one. So far, it has been an eventful year in both good ways and bad. Earthquakes, deaths, sickness outbreaks, countries shutting down and so much more; this is ONLY the first quarter! But do you still have your vision?

Last year was a year full of ups and downs. By November, most people were over the year and were eagerly yearning the new one to come. “2020 VISION” became the slogan. Every one was so happy and motivated to start the year; to have clear vision of their goals and to accomplish them. Then all of a sudden, our vision started to get cloudy. Deaths that shock the world, and more important now, a virus that is spreading across the world. Countries all over are shutting down, travel is ceasing, people are being “laid off” and out of jobs.

Now most people are ready to end the year before even starting it. Don’t give up! God is with us. One’s vision being clouded doesn’t make the object in view actually disappear. It only looks that way because of our faulty vision. EVEN if we cant see it, we know it’s there.

In this time when most people are home, let’s use the opportunity to get closer to God. Let’s begin to PRAY! If you’re not home, still pray! Soon the smoke will clear. And EVEN if the smoke comes again, the end result is still there!

God’s promise is still as true as it was the day He stated it through Jeremiah to Israel; “I know the thoughts that I think towards you. Thoughts of PEACE and not of evil. To give you an EXPECTED END” There is an expected end! You see, the Children of Israel as a nation, were disobedient to God. They didn’t listen to His commands. So they God taken into slavery for 70 years. Some of them got discouraged as time went on. There were false prophets lying to them saying “God said” when he didn’t. So God had to tell them to be content where they are. EVEN if they are in an evil land. God said to them, get married and have children. Build homes and be at peace, because you have to go through this situation, but I’m with you. Relax! Then he says to them, that He knows his plans he has for them. There will be the expected end!

Even when the good citizens of Israel had to suffer for the bad, by being taken into slavery to the Babylonians, God protected His children. Daniel had favor with God. He still was thrown in a den of lions but he wasn’t touched. The 3 Hebrew boys were thrown in fire…FIRE! But the bible says that not even one of them were hurt.

Even though your eyes are clouded right now, fight your way through! Your end goal is UNTOUCHED. God knows what plans he has for you. And He will give you your goal! Stay Focused! Read Jeremiah chapter 29 from verse 1-14! Be blessed

Stop Worrying

Every day in life is unique to the one before. We get new opportunities, see new faces, explore new ideas, and so much more. However, we are also faced with obstacles, new challenges, and new trials to go through. We can all say that we have experienced both the good and bad in life in some way or form. I also think it is safe to say that most if not all people dislike challenges. We don’t like feeling “uncomfortable” in trials.

For a long time, it was not for me to face a situation that I am not in control of. It still can be hard sometimes. I didn’t like that I couldn’t “solve the problem” right away or at all. But this is where faith in God comes in. When we pray and ask God to take control, He will take control and give us the victory. We have to just let go and trust that God knows exactly what He is doing.

Even if you aren’t personally facing anything right now, all that’s going on in the world is enough to stress someone out. I’m honestly not caught up in the drama of COVID-19 because I personally wash my hands and try never to touch my face. I also follow up with legitimate news. However, yesterday I was a little taken  back when I saw the way people were acting in the grocery stores because of the corona virus.  There I was, casually doing my usual shopping and people were just going crazy in the stores. There were no shopping carts left. Someone got upset about another person trying to cut the line. Others got upset because certain products ran out. I picked up a few things and I was in there for an hr. In situations like these where viruses or diseases become “pandemic”, it can cause a scare because we don’t have control of it. Yes, we can protect ourselves and family, but we can’t control how everyone in the world conducts their lives. This is why we need to stop worrying. Contrary to what the nation believes, we shouldn’t be worried when we are in Christ. We know that He promised to take care of His children if they obey Him. So if God is in control, why are we worrying?

God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14 from the bible, “If my people,which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and PRAY, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” God is literally saying here (pray, and I will heal your land). If ever a time we need to pray, is now. Even though God gave us free will to enjoy the land and enjoy life, we also have an assignment to pray. Pray for our leaders, pray for health, pray for peace, pray for your brothers and sisters all over the world, PRAY. The only thing that can fill the void of of worrying is prayer. We don’t want “worrying” to fill that place because worrying has the power to put you into a state of depression and isolation. Opposite to that, prayer has the power to bring you into victory and give you strength and joy. It is the sweetest feeling in the world to have hope in God. When you pray, your hope with grow. Even as I am writing this blog, I can feel the joy of the Lord inside of me.

Jesus says in St John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled”. Don’t let your heart be troubled with whats going on around you. He promises that He is going away to prepare a place for us where know sickness or heart ache is. We will physically be with Him forever. This earth isn’t your final place of rest. That is what the bible says. Even though you will be comforted and protected by the Lord on earth, there is a place that is so much better and God is preparing it for you! Be encouraged! Paul also reminds us not to worry, but to pray and make our request known to God. Know that God’s wish for you is to be happy. He is covering you, just trust Him.

 

 

Happiness in Contentment

One of my biggest dreams is to travel. Honestly, if I had it, I’d be booking tickets every other month to somewhere I’ve never been. I love scenery and meeting new people. I’m confident that God will open that door for me soon. However, I try my best not to be overtaken by the desire. I don’t let it consume my mind. I learn to be content wherever I am. You can check out my friend’s latest blog for more about “destination addiction”. Reading her blog gave me all the confirmation I needed to post this one. The title is called “destination Content.” Shevmckenzie.com.

 

If you want to make the best of your life, learn to be content in every season you’re in. Believe me, it’s the best feeling ever when you are happy with the place you’re in. Happiness leads to contentment. If you are happy where you are, you would never be in a rush to leave. My mom always talks about her childhood and growing up in Jamaica. She said they were days when things were hard. Sometimes my grandma didn’t have enough money to buy them individual things (7 children), but they were ok because they had each other. They were content with the little they had. My mom says that sometimes she feels like she wants to go back to those days. Even though now she has many resources.

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 The apostle Paul said in Phil 4:11, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Meaning that if you’re on the highest mountain today and the lowest valley tomorrow, your mindset should stay the same; and of course this takes time. It’s not going to be easy for everyone at first, but practicing everyday with things in your life will help you. 

Practice being content in your job. Even though you may really dislike it. If I’m gonna be completely honest, I’ll tell you I’m not at the place of employment where I wanna be forever. I’m often stressed and I disagree with the way a lot of things are done there, but until God opens the door for something better, I am teaching my mind to be content. 

Maybe it’s the car you’re driving. It’s ok, I started in a “hooptie” too lol. My friends can tell you, I couldn’t even open my front door, I had to climb through the back door. Whew Jesus, thank you for deliverance! The doors were different colors and the gas metal would vibrate after 50 mph! I had it bad lol, but when I first got it I was so excited because it was MINE. I was content because God blessed me with a car so I didn’t have to walk for free. It took me everywhere I needed to go too! It was a Toyota Camry 1992. 

 

Whatever you may have that you aren’t satisfied with, it doesn’t have to be permanent, just be content. Don’t look at others and compare yourself because you don’t know what they had to do to get to that place. Some of them

Worked really hard, and others cheated their way. There are so many opportunities out there and your time will come soon. Hold on to the hooptie for a little bit. Smile when you open the door to your one bedroom apartment. Because one day you’ll look back and be able to tell God thank you for the change! If you’re married and just starting out, have cheesy date nights with candles lit at your dinner table.
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In the future, I see my husband and I living in a home of our own with a beautiful backyard to host events, a nice big kitchen with granite tops and big living room for family gatherings. Even though we aren’t there yet, we are really happy where we are. We enjoy every moment because it’s what God gave to us. It will also help us to appreciate the bigger blessings when we are content with the little.

You are Valuable

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Every morning at 5 am, a set of people from my church get up to pray on our conference line. We pray for and hour, but in the midst of the hour, someone exhorts or gives a word of encouragement. This morning, I was asked to do it. The lesson was from Luke 15:1-7. The scripture tells us that Jesus was sitting with “publicans” (tax-collectors), and sinners. When the Pharisees (an ancient Jewish sect) saw Jesus, they started to criticize him under their breath. They were saying, “why is this man eating with sinners?” Note, they were criticizing Jesus because of who he sat with. But they didn’t realize the value in these people. Jesus answered them by saying that he cares deeply for that ONE lost sheep so much, that he will leave the 99 that are safe, just to go look for one. They couldn’t understand why Jesus sat with sinners, but essentially Jesus was trying to win the soul of those that were lost.

Have you ever been in a place that you felt far from God? I’m not only talking about physical “backsliding” (stepping away from the faith), I’m talking about far from God in your mind. I’m talking about sitting front row in Sunday service, and still the farthest away from God. God is looking for YOU. God is sitting with YOU. Some people (like the pharisees) may not understand why God has a special love for you, but it doesn’t matter. Just know, you are loved! Other people can see it. You ever wonder why you can’t get away with some things that your other friends can? I used to struggle with that. But here’s why, YOU ARE DIFFERENT.

Toba Beta once said “Value is more expensive than price”, and if you examine that quote, it is true.When you value something, you don’t care what price you have to pay to get it. That’s why Jesus was willing to die for you. Because the price He had to pay was nothing compared to the way He valued YOU. He loves you that much. Think about that the next time you doubt how valuable you are.

Resumes are not the only thing that portray our value. Jesus’s precious blood that still runs today is proof that you are Valuable. You are so valuable, that God HIMSELF died for you.

 

Dear Younger Me

Background.

Its amazing how time flies so quickly. At one point you were playing with your friends in kindergarten. The next moment, you’re studying for a final in college. Nothing stays the same forever. Life goes on. But let’s think back–how many times did we make decisions that we regret? How many times do we make mistakes even in the present? And how many times do we hate ourselves for the past mistakes we’ve made? I am guilty.

I’ll admit, I made a lot of mistakes and sometimes I look back and wonder why I did. But to be honest, mistakes are lessons for us. We learn from them. As children, we are ignorant to the pain, danger, consequences and effects that our mistakes can cause. So we do dumb things. Sometimes we may even hurt others along the way, but you know what? Push forward. Stop beating up yourself.

One of our worst enemies can be our own self. Even though something happened 10 years ago, we still refuse to forgive ourselves. If you needed to hear this, then listen clearly (or read in this case): FORGIVE YOURSELF. If God forgave you the moment you asked for it, why wouldn’t you forgive your own self 10 years later? Just think about it. Even if you didn’t do something MAJOR to forgive yourself for, what about the small things? What about simply being hard on yourself? “I wish I was stronger” or “I wish I did something about it.” What are you condemning your younger self for? What is that thing that you struggle with?

Here’s what we should do. We should write a letter to our self. You don’t have to literally write out a letter, but take some time to talk to your “younger you.” Instead of bashing, thank your younger you. Believe it or not, your younger “you” prepared you for the person you are today. Every joy, hurt, pain, happiness and mistake all prepared you for where you are and where you are going. Your younger you teaches you lessons you can teach others.

Dear younger me, I forgive you for lying and stealing. I forgive you for not taking more time to heal. I wish you would’ve done more things for yourself but I’m doing it now. I forgive you for making the mistake of opening up your heart to toxic people. I forgive you for all the years of damage you’ve caused, and I am sorry for all the damaged that was done to YOU. I thank you for teaching me to get back up again. I thank you for teaching me that I am worth more than I thought I was. I thank you for making the mistakes that led me to a beautiful road. Thank you for the emptiness you felt, because Jesus is now filling that place. Thank you for your zeal to serve God! Thank you for your innocence. I thank you for allowing yourself to grow into to the beautiful woman/man that you now are. You are great! You did well! I love you “Younger ME.”

Distractions

If you are reading this blog. You are blessed! You are ALIVE! That in it self is a blessing. Let’s stop in this moment to say “thank you Jesus.” If you are alive, that means you still have a purpose on this earth. You are valuable to God and to life because you have purpose. It’s my deepest desire that each and every one of you find what that purpose is. And let me be clear, it can be more than one thing.

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Unfortunately, sometimes the devil sees how valuable we are, more than we even see ourselves. So his plan is simple, he will do everything to distract us. A distraction is anything that takes your focus off of your task. For example, you may be going to school for a career you’ve always dreamed about doing. What the devil will do is allow you to take your focus off the end goal, and see the stress of studying, the load of homework, long essays, empty bank account, friends having fun without you, sleepless nights, and then all of a sudden you start to go backwards. Don’t get me wrong, those are huge distractions, but no distraction is ever as big as the value of your END GOAL.  Stay focused!

Distractions come in big and small sizes. Wanna know the truth? The devil hates us so much, that every chance he gets, he will try to distract us. In both big instances and in small. Maybe you were trying to clean the house, and all of a sudden, you’re tired, you got a phone call, or you started watching a TV show. Here’s one a lot of us can relate to; you pick up your bible to read, and then you get a text message or you remember you have to pay a bill. Or even worse, you  start scrolling through social media. Even bigger, maybe you are, or you know someone who is trying to give their life back to Christ. This is where the devil will really put in overtime. He will distract you with that no good boyfriend who promised to marry you “soon” and 10 years passed by. He will tell you to party as hard as you can before coming into church, or wait until you get your education. The devil is a liar! The moment you step to Christ is the moment your life changes and others too. I said in my previous post, that so many people are attached you your purpose and your “yes” to God. By you coming to Jesus, you may minister to a soul that I could never reach. That’s the power in your purpose.

If ever a time there was a need to stay focused is now! God is depending on us. He said to his disciples (and essentially us), “Greater things shall you do because I go back to my Father.” This means, since Jesus isn’t physically here on earth, He is depending on us by the power of the Holy Spirit, to do what He did. Can you imagine if Jesus got distracted? What if He got distracted by the distractions the enemy threw at Him every single day. There would be no cross. There would be no sacrifice. There would be no salvation for you and me. All of us are attached to Jesus’s fulfillment of purpose.

No matter how good life gets, there’s always a reminder that the end is near. People are dying everyday, there are wars and rumors of wars. There are numerous earthquakes, and many hearts have gotten cold. Very cold. This is not the time to get distracted because our ULTIMATE GOAL is to get to Heaven. The devil’s biggest task is to let us end up where he is going; HELL. I encourage you my brothers and sisters, stay focused! Greater is ahead.

Humility

Humility is a trait in my life that I intentionally try to maintain. It’s something I admire and can see automatically in individuals who carry it. What if I told you humility was one of the keys to any type of success? What is I told you it is what unlocks an overwhelming amount of favor. What if I told you that the way to God’s heart is humility? Humility is the  quality of being humble. Being humble means having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.

Daniel was a humble man of God. In Daniel ch 9, he prays a prayer of repentance. He says, “ O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; WE HAVE SINNED, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgements. He says “WE.” Even though Daniel may have not been one of the focal people who blatantly disrespected God, he included himself with his nation when repenting to God. He never said “We are slaves to Babylon because of YOU wicked people” or he never went to God saying “Those evil people sinned”, but he included himself. Even though Daniel had so much power in the provinces of Babylon, he remained humble. He never sought attention like the other astrologers and soothe sayers because he didn’t care about people’s opinions as much as he did about God’s opinion.

If you want to get somewhere in life, you have to be humble. Humility is the vehicle that drives you through the street of elevation and brings you to success. When you have the golden ability not respond back to someone after they said or did something hurtful, you truly are humble. When you know the potential you have and are aware of the many ways God wants to use you, but still remain focused and do what He tells you, you are humble.

When we all of a sudden shift focus from what we were purposed to do, to all the “attention” we get, we make a dangerous shift. Can you imagine if Daniel started to boast on being put over the provinces of Babylon? Can you imagine what his friends would have felt like? What if he forgot about his friends and his God because he got so caught up in the Babylonian system and in the way God elevated him? I can imagine the 3 Hebrew boys saying, “How can Daniel do something like this?”

When we begin focusing on the glory, we forget about the work God called us to do. We forget about people. We forget about the cause. Why did we actually start doing what we were suppose to? Was it to please God and help others, or was it to be praised?

I’ve made the decision in my heart that the day I start boasting about anything God gives me or take glory for myself, I’d rather God rip it away in an instant because I understand that nothing (AND I MEAN NOTHING) done in my life was by self power, but by the grace and power of God. It makes no sense in even trying to share in God’s glory because you will end up no where. The BEST elevation is when God elevates you. The bible makes a great example of King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Daniel happened to be under King Nebuchadnezzar’s rulership. This wicked king made his people worship him and his creations, and he did evil things if they didn’t. But when God stripped him of his power, wealth, dignity, and pride, he became humble. He was humbled the hard way. The bible also states in the Matt 23:12 of the NLT version, “But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” This simply means that when you try to make yourself big on your own, you will be humbled. But if you allow GOD to make you big and you humble yourself, you will be elevated.

Be encouraged today. Don’t worry if no one is seeing your true value. God will intervene at the right time. God will begin exposing your strengths to people you wouldn’t even dream about. He will allow the right people to be around you at the right time. When you allow him to elevate you, He will be glorified.

 

 

 

Help, I’m Weary

We are now heading into the end of February and lets admit, some of us are getting weary. Maybe you didn’t necessarily make a “new year’s resolution” but you had a goal you wanted to reach. Maybe it was completing a bible plan without missing a day. Or maybe it was to be consistent with going to the gym. Maybe you’re in college and getting overwhelmed with the course’s workload. Maybe you’re struggling on finding what you want to do in life. Maybe you are the only young person pushing to go to church. To be honest, we all slow down sometimes.

 

It could be that you are overwhelmed with all the things you have to juggle. Maybe you are a mom, or maybe a person who has a lot of responsibilities. Maybe work has been crazy. Maybe there is no encouragement where you are. No matter what your situation is, it’s easy to get “burned out” if there isn’t a place of solace or peace you can go to. Your peace is important! Don’t forget that. It’s important to take time for yourself. Whether that consists of taking a walk, or driving. Maybe it’s taking a longer shower. Whatever it is, you need that place of peace. Create it. When you have that place, you can rest your mind. You are more likely to crash without that place of peace.

 

Another thing is preparing or doing things ahead of time. I am a wife and still learning what works best for me. Meal prepping is important. I cook on certain days, and I cook enough so that Ted and I can have lunch and dinner for the next day. I also have a certain day of the week I wash. I also have natural hair, and whew chile….that’s a full time job (I’m actually laughing right now) lol. My newest thing that I do now is write my blogs ahead of time. Because the two days that I do post, I now work. Sometimes, God inspires me the day of–and in that case, I’ll write that day–but now I find it easier to prepare myself ahead of time.

 

We all have a purpose on this earth, and if you are still learning what yours is, DON’T GIVE UP. God is about to put people in your life to help you discover what it is. If you are already aware of what your purpose is, keep on pushing! God is with you. Don’t give up because so many people are attached to your purpose. For example, if you are in school to be a doctor, maybe there’s a certain patient God knows will need to see specifically YOU! You will be that person’s help. Maybe going to the gym everyday will inspire others to get in shape. Maybe your goal is to read the bible more. Maybe God is depending on you to study and preach to people near and far. Maybe He is depending on you to teach and convert an Atheist to Christ. Maybe there is a little one in your church who admires you so much and if you stop coming, you’ll kill their drive to come. Do you see how big of an impact you have on others? Do you see how powerful you are by God’s grace? Galatians 6:9 in the KJV Bible says “And be not weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” In other words, you are going to see the fruit of your labor if you keep pushing. You’ve got this!

Intimacy with God

This past weekend, I went away with my church for a retreat in Litchfield, CT. A retreat is when you get away from everything. A spiritual or church retreat is when you get away from everything to get closer to God. It’s a place of unwinding.

Saturday, the guest speaker spoke about being intimate with God and waiting on Him. I didn’t realize how long I’d gone without spending intimate time with God. The preachers lesson came from Psalms 91; the psalms about dwelling or staying in God’s Secret place. He was adamant about the importance of being in God’s presence; about how much joy and peace there is and how much power you receive after staying there for a while.

I have to admit, I was broken in that sermon, because I started to miss my intimacy with God. The funny thing is, I was fasting for the retreat and running around doing things. I was not only  preparing for retreat, but I was working, preparing lessons, mentoring teens, doing wife duties, working on CE courses and tending to other programs that I work in. Sounds good right? Not really. Too bad that after all of that, I missed out on good time with Jesus.

I felt like Martha in the Bible. She was so busy worrying about preparing a meal for Jesus and others, that she missed out on what Mary (her sister) was getting: quality time with Jesus. She even got upset with Mary, but Jesus quickly corrected her telling her that Mary is receiving the better part.

The preacher went on to say that “we get so busy doing the work of the Lord, that we don’t remember the Lord of the work.”

How many times have you got caught up with other tasks besides spending time with God? I know it’s not intentional, but are you aware of it? Let’s try our best as princes and princesses of King Jesus to spend time with Him. He delights in it. Just like how any husband or wife would want their spouse to make time for them, that’s how Jesus feels. That’s how we should feel too.

God loves when we are intentional about personal time with Him. He honors you when you take time out of your schedule to pray to Him. Let’s do it together. We won’t regret it.