Margaret H. Johnson
Author. Inspirational Speaker. Self Publishing Consultant
Be Real. Be Authentic. Be You!
"I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14
This morning during my prayer time, God revealed Himself to me. It was a simple message, yet such a profound one. In the stillness of the moment, God whispered these words, "I am the God who cares." I was in awe of how much God loved me in that simple message. He chose to come see about me and for that I am truly grateful.
The Bible tells us in I Peter 5:7 that we should cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us. I have read that scripture so many times and found comfort in those words. I have used that passage to encourage others, but on this morning God chose to reveal to me that He is the God that cares. When God speaks it is as if in that moment nothing else matters. God is not like man. He cannot lie. God chose to reveal Himself to me so that I would know with certainty that He cares for me. God knows the very thing that we need and the exact time we will need it. He looks through the hands of time and sees our tomorrow and prepares us for the journey that is to come. I am so honored that God chose to share His heart with me.
When I was pursing my master's degree in Religion and Biblical Studies, I had to take a course in Apologetics. I was excited about the opportunity to learn about other religions but more importantly I knew that the course would equip me with an arsenal of knowledge to defend my faith against other doctrines. During the course, I studied all types of religions from Buddhism to Hinduism to Atheism. What I found interesting about most religions is that many of them do not worship a specific god. If they do worship a god, it is a distant one that is uncaring or indifferent to their needs. When I finished the course, I was even more thankful that I accepted Christ as my Savior. He drew me in with His love. In Christ, I have a true relationship and experience intimacy that cannot be compared to anything else in this world. Before I even utter the words, He hears me. While I am yet calling on Him, He is already preparing a way of escape.
This week has been a tough one for me. I have been dealing with migraines and the pain at times has been unbearable. I was unable to post on social media this week due to the pain but I am thankful that I am feeling better this morning and am able to share with you in this blog post. Despite what some people may say, God cares about the tears that we cry. He is concerned about every facet of our lives. Even when God allows us to go through hardships, He whispers in our ear and reminds us that He will never leave us or forsake us. In the valley seasons, God is orchestrating our tomorrow. No matter how much the storm rages, God calms the sea of our hearts. He wants us to open up to Him and He is always there with a listening ear. God chose to reveal Himself to me this morning because He knew I needed a word from Him. It was a word that I will cherish always.
The God that I serve cares about His people. He is not a distant or indifferent God. He wants to know about every area of our lives. He is there to listen in the darkest of hours and even in our mountaintop seasons. There is no one else like Him. I have tried Him and I know Him. We can read scripture all day long. We can memorize verses and understand the history of the Bible, but there is nothing like divine revelation from God. When you receive revelation straight from the heart of God it is propels you forward. It gives you the confidence to know that you are not alone. God is right there with you and fighting for you. Revelation is a special thing. It goes beyond knowledge but it is a spiritual gift set aside for those who really want to see God for who He is. God revealed to me today that He cares.
I want to encourage you today through the revelation that I received this morning. God cares about you. He wants you to cast every care upon Him. Don't keep your feelings bottled up inside. God desires a relationship with you today. No matter what you have done or will do, God will never hold it against you. He has a bright future in store for you. There is a path set before you and God wants to show you the road map to destiny. God wants to supply your every need yet He loves you so much that He wants to give you the desires of your heart. Release every burden and He will envelope you with a peace that cannot be explained with mere words. He is the God that cares.
"Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." I Peter 5:7
Until next time.....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be YOU!
Every morning just like clockwork, I put on worship music and begin to pray. I am amazed at what God continues to show me through this short time of intimacy with Him. I have come a long way from the days of silence and indifference towards God. There have been times when I was so overwhelmed by my circumstances that I didn't know how to form words into sentences to pray let alone pour out my heart to God. I have learned to push past those moments and pray anyway despite feelings of isolation, disappointment and pain. God allowed me to go through that season to teach me to trust Him in all things. I have learned a valuable lesson about the power of prayer and it's ability to change my mindset and align my will with God's.
As I have continued to grow in my walk with God, I am in awe of how much He loves me. Despite the flaws I have and my inconsistencies, I can still hear Him calling my name. The love of God is so special. There is no way that I can begin to compare it to any other feeling without doing it injustice. In God's abiding love, He draws me in. During this time of drawing, I have experienced a deeper connection to God than I thought was possible. It is beyond an infatuation or simple rendezvous but now I have a level of commitment to God that causes me to want to know more about His character. What I experienced in the past in my relationship with God, although wonderful does not even compare to what I feel at this moment.
We have all been in relationships and depending upon how old you are, you probably have had your share of dead end relationships or those you thought were going somewhere and you were left brokenhearted when they did not work out. When you find that special one who is there for you through the good times and the bad times it is definitely something that you want to hold onto. Those types of relationships are few and far between because in my experience it takes a special person to stick around during the tough times. Everyone loves you when you're on top, but as soon as you hit a rough spot those same people are no where to be found. When a loyal person comes around, I can immediately detect the difference. Those special relationships are to be cherished and protected at all costs.
Just like my earthly relationships, my relationship with God has gone through many changes. There have been seasons where worship and praise were always on my lips. I would praise God when things worked out and even when they didn't. I could hear God's voice in the stillness of the night and our interactions with one another were all consuming. Then I went through seasons where the storms of life began to rage and I wondered where God was taking me. I spent many nights in tears wrestling with thoughts of negativity and despair. During this time my relationship with God took a turn. I took my eyes off of Him and my direction shifted towards my circumstances. When I did that, my view of God changed. I no longer saw Him as bigger than anything, but instead I saw the monstrosity of my problems. That season was a challenging one because I no longer heard the sweet voice of the Father but instead I was drawn into the deception of the enemy. He began to whisper in my ear and because I had drifted away from the source, I was deceived into thinking that somehow I had failed and as a result, my relationship with God suffered.
What I have since learned about God through all of the many changes we have gone through is that I was the one that did the changing. God never changed. He was always there. I allowed other things to cloud my view of Him and tarnish the relationship. He was right there waiting for me to fall back in love with Him. You see God specializes in drawing us close. There will always be distractions in our lives. There will be seasons when we are on the mountain and those difficult times when we are in the valley. What me must understand however is that God is faithful. He will never leave us nor forsake us. God draws us in with His love. He knows that there is nothing that can compare to the peace and serenity we experience in His presence.
Each of us have a void in our lives that only God can fill. When we put other things in God's place our lives will surely be in disarray. It is not just about idols, but the mistake comes when we put negative emotions and feelings in the forefront of our minds instead of reflecting on the greatness of God. Yes there will be moments when life knocks you down but in those moments you have to remind yourself of how big God is. Relationships are hard work. They don't just develop overnight. They have to be cultivated in order to grow. God will always do His part; we have to do ours.
We have to be steadfast in our walk with God. Nothing should be able to separate us from the love of Christ. Yes we may stray and fall short but in those times of weakness we must allow God to draw us back to Him. There is nothing like being in the presence of God. When you are enveloped in God's presence, nothing else matters. God draws us in even when we don't deserve His love. He draws us closer to Him because He desires the relationship as much as we do. God created us to worship Him. When we falter, He does not throw us away like men do but He draws us in even more. He reminds us not only of His sovereignty but He causes us to see Him in a new way. I am of the mindset that I will never know enough about God. Every time I think I have Him figured out He shows me a different side of Himself. I believe that is why life has a way of shaking us sometimes. It is so we can go to God with a set of circumstances and He can show us another layer of His character. If I were never in need, I would not know that God is a provider. If I never experienced sickness, I would not know Him to be a healer. If I never cried in the midnight hour, I would never know Him to be a company keeper.
I have learned to appreciate the hard times because I have learned so much more about God through those moments. We will have mountain top experiences that teach us about God's favor and His desire to prosper His people. But in the valley seasons, our character is developed and our relationship with God is cultivated. He is continually drawing me closer to Him and I am thankful that my eyes are opening and I can see Him for who He is.
There may be some of you who are experiencing a valley season in your life at this very moment. You are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Your faith is being challenged and your relationship with God is at a crossroads. I want to encourage you today to take a moment and just breathe. Find your secret place. Let God draw you close. He wants all of you today, not just the pieces you are willing to give. He wants your brokenness. He wants the real you. Give it all to Him today and I promise that you will experience God on a whole new level. He wants to draw you in. Just go through the drawing process.
If you need some encouragement as it relates to purpose and cultivating you relationship with God check out my book, Beyond the Veil. I wrote it years ago but I believe it will resonate with you today. Go to the books tab for details. If you have read it, please share your thoughts on it and post a review on amazon.
Until next time....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be YOU!!
This past weekend, I attended my beloved Aunt Doris' Home Going Celebration. Although at times it was sad, I rejoiced at how loved and admired my aunt was. So many people came to share wonderful memories of her and the legacy that she left for all of us to follow. She was truly a role model and I will miss her dearly. There was a resounding theme, however that almost every person proclaimed as they spoke of my aunt. They talked about her name. My aunt was a Harris before marriage and became a Harris after marriage. Whenever she introduced herself she boldly announced that her name was Doris Harris-Harris. It became a staple of hers and anyone who knew her was reminded of her name often. My aunt was a proud woman who loved the Lord. Aunt Dot as I called her, understood that because she was a child of God, she was important. She exuded confidence and it was an attribute to be admired.
This morning I was impressed to read Psalm 8 during my devotional time. The Psalm begins by declaring that the name of the Lord is excellent. He is excellent above all others. We hear that word used all the time but I truly think that it is used too frequently and without true regard to the person or situation. According to definition.com excellent is defined as: possessing outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good. I began to ponder on that word excellent and the more I did I saw the power of the name Jesus. The Bible tells us that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. He is above every situation and circumstance that we will ever face. If His name is above every name, why do we oftentimes fail to call on Him in our darkest hours?
I have oftentimes found myself in situations that seemed so dark and full of despair that I was paralyzed by fear. I wondered if there would be any resolution to my situation. I feared that things would never get better. I know God and have seen His power but yet and still I was plagued by feelings of fear, despair and hopelessness. What a quandary! It was as if I had forgotten the power of the name of Jesus because my situation became overwhelming. How do we continue to trust in the power of His name when trouble comes? I am learning that this Christian walk is all about consistency. Many of us that have grown up in the church know the word. We had to memorize Bible verses from an early age. Sometimes we can have a head knowledge of who God is but forget to truly cultivate our relationship with Him. We have to constantly remind ourselves of who God is and how excellent His name is. We can't treat God as just a being that we worship on Sunday, but we must embrace Him as the loving father and friend that He is each and every single day. I have found that there are days when I have to remind myself of the excellency of God every hour because the enemy is attacking my mind so vehemently. God is not just good, He is excellent. He possesses outstanding quality. There is no blemish or shortcoming in Him. His word is true from everlasting to everlasting.
It is not enough to just know the name of Jesus, but we must say the name. We must proclaim the name of Jesus. I have found that just saying the name of Jesus makes me feel better. It is as if when I speak His name, He comforts me. When I say the name, my fear begins to cease. At the name of Jesus, I regain my confidence. There is power in the name. My situation may not change overnight but I serve a God who loves me enough to come see about me even when I don't acknowledge His sovereignty like I should. I serve a God who specializes in the suddenly and the impossible.
I used to wonder why my Aunt emphasized her name so much. If you ever heard her say her name it was as if in that moment nothing else mattered. Now I know the reason why. When she spoke her name she was not standing in her own accomplishments or accolades. No she was standing on the rock of Jesus. She knew that without Him she was nothing but with Him she could do all things. She lived a life of service to God until the day she died. She knew how to call on the name of Jesus and I am encouraged to keep pressing towards the mark as she did. During her memorial service the words of Paul summed Aunt Doris' life, "I have a fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.." (II Timothy 4:7)
Be encouraged today to know that you are special in the sight of God. No we are not perfect but we serve a perfect God. Despite our shortcomings, pitfalls and moments of weakness God is always there with His loving arms of protection. He keeps us when we need to be kept. He comforts us when we are too weak to stand. He is our bread when we are hungry and water when we are thirsty. Know that you are important in the eyes of God. Your name has value because you serve an excellent God. You are not a mistake. You are not worthless. You are a child of the Most High King. When you feel like you can't go on remind yourself of the name that is above every name. Call on the name of Jesus and something will happen. There is power in the Name!
O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Psalm 8:9
Until next time...Be Real. Be Authentic. Be YOU!
I was so nervous about starting this blog because I knew God was calling me to share my innermost thoughts and feelings with the world. I am quite the introvert so sharing intimate parts of myself with others has always been difficult. I feared if I would be misunderstood or whether people would judge my authenticity as too much to handle. Needless to say, I have received positive responses from most but I neglected to prepare myself for what was to come.
Yes I was concerned about what people would think about my story but I neglected to prepare myself for what the enemy would do as a result of my obedience to God's plan for me. You see the devil was laughing the whole time I was depressed and down about being confined to a wheelchair. He had me right where he wanted me. I wasn't sharing my faith anymore. I wasn't using my gifts. I was just sad and frustrated with the state of my circumstances. The devil whispered lies in my ears and I listened. But once I came out of that funk and started listening to the quiet tugging of God's voice instead, the devil became enraged. As a result of my new found motivation, all hell broke loose in my life.
The very next day after I published my first blog post, we lost a stream of income right out of the blue. Our washing machine stopped working. Then I started having pains in my neck and shoulders which made it even more difficult to write. A host of other situations arose that shook me to the core. I started to begin that same old cycle of frustration that I had fought so hard to overcome, but then I heard the voice of God say, "Why are you surprised? The fiery darts are coming." God went on to share with me that anytime you do something radical you should plan for opposition. It is the tactic the enemy uses to get you to quit. The fiery darts are designed to get you off track. The enemy wants you to focus more on the opposition against you in hopes that you lose focus on the assignment God has set before you. When the fiery darts come, take solace in the fact that you are on the right track.
The Bible tells us that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. What we sometimes don't prepare ourselves for is that the weapon will in fact form. Our response to the weapon however should be praise. I know it sounds weird, but once I started praising God for the weapons forming, He opened so many other doors in such a short amount of time. I am even more amazed by the open doors than shocked by the ones that closed. Not only did God open other doors for me but my attitude changed about the situations that still remain. I know that God is working on my behalf so it is not my job to try and figure out how to make something happen. My only responsibility is to keep moving forward in purpose and praise God through the circumstances that have yet to change.
I have chosen to look at my fiery darts as an indication that the devil is mad at me. I want to keep making him mad. Yes, there are days that the pain is overwhelming but even when I can't write or share a post, I can put on songs of worship and just praise God through my pain. Yes there are days when I feel so consumed by the fiery darts that it is hard to breathe but I keep reminding myself that brighter days are coming. No our finances are not where I want them to be but I can give God a thank you for a roof over our heads and food on the table. Some people would trade places with me in a heartbeat just to have a bed to call their own. It is in those moments when I feel so low that God reminds me how blessed I truly am and that things could be worse. It is all about our perspective. Sometimes when the fiery darts come all you can do is thank God that things are as well as they are.
Be encouraged today to know that your fiery darts are just an indication that God is pleased with what you are doing. The devil sees the purpose in you. He knows that there is an anointing on your life and he is determined to stop you from sharing your gift. He wants you to quit. I am learning to look beyond the night seasons in my life and look forward to the breaking of day. God will never leave us or forsake us no matter how difficult our situation may be. In Psalm 37:25, David says, "I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." Think about that for a moment. David was by no means perfect. He repented more times than we could probably count. He made his share of mistakes but yet he could say with confidence that God always met his needs!
Despite the devil's tactics and tricks, know that God will never forsake His people. God loves us despite our shortcomings. The enemy will try to fool you into thinking that God is not with you and for you but he is the father of lies. Stay focused on God's purpose and plan for your life. Don't let the devil catch you by surprise the next time God calls you to do something extraordinary. Hand in hand with your purpose will be fiery darts. No matter how much pain they may cause...DON'T QUIT!
Until next time....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be YOU!
The Gospel message is all about love. God loved us so much that He gave His one and only son so that we could have life and have it more abundantly. All we have to do is believe that Jesus died for our sins and we are saved from a life of destruction and given the gift of eternal life. All God wants from us is a yes. It's just that simple. Our part is simple, but the path that Jesus had to take to buy our freedom was a daunting one. Jesus is God wrapped in human flesh. While on earth, He provided for us a detailed road map of how to live this life and conquer sin and the grave. He showed us how to love our enemies. He showed us how to be compassionate and not judge others by outward appearances. He showed us how to use our authority and power. He was the ultimate teacher. Yet He had to die a horrible death in order for us to live life abundantly. Doesn't seem fair does it? Well it wasn't. It was necessary.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus came face to face with the reality of what He had to suffer for us. The Bible tells us that sweat dripped from His face like drops of blood. Jesus is God, yet He wrestled with the task ahead of Him. He did not want to partake of the cup, yet He did it just for you and me. Jesus laid down His divinity in order to save a people who did not even believe Him to be the Messiah. Our Savior had to be beaten and broken in order to pay the penalty for sin. He was mocked and scorned. He had to die so that we may live. There was no one else worthy enough to complete the task. Only Jesus could die for all of humanity. Yes God's plan through Jesus' death and resurrection was to reconcile humanity back to Him but Jesus also taught us a valuable lesson in how He handled that trying time in His life.
There have been many seasons in my life when I felt like I couldn't make it through. It seemed like the minute I declared the Word of God that all hell broke loose in my life. It was a constant battle to try and stay positive because before I even figured out how to handle one situation, another one popped up. I wondered how much more I could take. My body has been in so much pain that at times I thought it would be better just to leave this world. I have hurt so bad that no medicine could relieve it. I have been so weak that I couldn't even feed myself and then God reminded me that I can take the breaking.
God allowed His only son to be broken and beaten just so He could raise Him up three days later. When He rose, He was given all power in the palm of His hand. No, Jesus did not want to endure the suffering and pain but He knew that it was necessary. There was no other way around it. Yes, Jesus could have come down off that cross but if He did, our future would be dim and without hope. Jesus was broken for you and me. He was broken in order to fulfill a higher purpose. Despite the suffering, Jesus said yes.
Through Jesus' example, I am learning that I too can take the breaking. The breaking is a part of the plan. It is through the breaking that God is revealing to me who I am in Him. When Jesus was taken from the garden, He exuded confidence in front of Pilate. He knew that His fate was the cross but He didn't try to talk His way out of it. He accepted His calling and walked into His destiny. The breaking causes you to see that there is a higher purpose in motion. Yes there are moments of weakness, but with tears in your eyes you have to keep moving forward. Through the pain you have to cast down those thoughts and imaginations that come against you. Even in your pit, you must muscle the strength to say thank you anyhow. The reason you must do these things is because God is going to use you for His glory. There is a task that He needs you to complete and only you can complete it. Jesus through His suffering and death is a reminder that you can take the breaking.
The path to destiny is a winding road. The Bible tells us that in order to reign with Him we must suffer. Through the suffering God is developing your character. He is imparting you with wisdom and revelation. If you allow Him too, even in the suffering God will show you glimpses of your future.
I don't know when I will walk again. There is no magic cure for me. Doctors don't have the answers. I could look at my situation and drift down into the pit of despair. Yet I choose to follow Jesus' example. It's not my will, but Lord I want your will to be done in my life. I have to go through the suffering, but I believe that I can take the breaking. Sometimes God allows you to be broken so that you and others know that only He could have put the pieces of your life back together. God wants to do a new thing in me. He is the potter and I want to be His clay. If I submit to the molding and shaping, I know with confidence that just like Jesus; I will rise.
Be encouraged today that no matter what you are going through Jesus knows. He is our ultimate example. He took the breaking and so can you.
Until next time....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be YOU!!
When my mom's health began to decline, she would often ramble on and on about things that I didn't understand. There were moments where she was lucid and there were other moments....well let's just say I would rather forget those moments. From day to day I didn't know what I would encounter with her and I began to get frustrated seeing my mom decline slowly each and every day. It was torture for me at times. Then one day, I was visiting her in the hospital and she told me that she wanted to preach a sermon. I was confused at first and fearful that this was going to be one of the "bad days." As I continued to listen, she told me that she wanted to preach from Matthew 25 - the parable of the ten virgins. While she went from moments of clarity to moments of confusion, that scripture stuck with me. Of all the passages in the Bible, why would my mom choose that one?
Matthew 25 is a parable that correlates the coming of Jesus Christ to ten virgins who are waiting for their bridegroom to appear. Five of them make preparations to bring oil for their lamps while the others do not. When the bridegroom appears, the five virgins who had not prepared miss their opportunity while the five who made preparations entered in to marital bliss. This parable has many lessons but one that I have drawn from it is of course being prepared for the Savior's return. Maybe that is why my mom picked that scripture. She had a glimpse into eternity and saw its splendor and wanted everyone to have the opportunity to experience it. I, however, have often wondered why God chose to use marriage to describe the relationship between Christ and His church.
When I first saw my husband, I was immediately drawn to his spirit. It was just something about him. I didn't even know his name and when I went to his church to conduct a workshop, we didn't even have a conversation. The next time I conducted a workshop at the church, we only briefly talked. However, that evening I sent him a facebook request and he accepted. He sent me a message that evening and the rest is well...history. We only dated for a few months before we got engaged. The following year we got married. Corey later shared with me that when he first saw me, God told him that I would be his wife.
I can honestly say that it was worth the wait to let God bring the right man into my life. I have been married before but I didn't wait for God's timing and I have had to deal with the consequences of trying to make something work that God did not ordain. God however in His infinite mercy sent me someone who would be there for me through thick and thin. Corey was worth the wait. When I lost the ability to walk, he could have thrown in the towel. He could have gotten tired of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of three boys that were not biologically his, but he didn't. He could have become overwhelmed with the burden of financially taking care of the household when I could no longer work, but he has been a pillar of strength. He has been patient with me through some of the darkest hours and no matter how many times I have tried to push him away, he continues to love me. No matter how frustrated, ill or even down right angry I get, his response is always, "It's gonna be okay."
Corey has shown me that the expression of marriage is the ultimate display of God's abiding love for us. In marriage there is a leaving of mother and father and a cleaving to your spouse. When we come to Christ He is calling us to leave our old life and cleave to Him. In marriage the two flesh become one. The ultimate goal in our relationship with God is that there be such a oneness of mind, a oneness of deed and action that we become like Christ. We are to be His sheep and so in tune with Him that we hear His voice despite any chaos in our lives. As a wife submits to her husband, we in turn are to submit to God. In our relationship with God, sometimes we don't want to wait on Him even though He knows what is best for us. God is so patient and loving that He lets us have our pity parties and tantrums yet He is still there waiting with open arms when we are ready to submit to Him. The five virgins who did not prepare for the bridegroom lost their opportunity to experience God's best. God is calling each and every one of us to enter into relationship with Him, but we can't be too busy doing other things that we miss God. We have to be willing to wait on our change to come, no matter how long it takes. We cannot grow weary in well doing less we meet the fate of the five virgins and miss out on our blessing.
My mom has since gone on to be with the Lord, but she got her wish - she preached that message to me and I am grateful for the gift God gave me because of it. I can truly say without any reservation - it was worth the wait to see the manifestation of God's love through this union we call marriage. I can only imagine what it will be like to see His face in eternity. I don't know when that day will come but I know it will be worth the wait.
Thank you mom for teaching me such a valuable lesson. God is love.
Until next time....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be You!
I decided recently to endeavor to read the entire Bible from beginning to end. It's a daunting task so y'all pray for me but I am excited about the journey and what God is going to show me through this new adventure. When I have done devotions in the past, I would normally just randomly pick a scripture or find passages based on a situation that I was dealing with. While I continue to do that, this is a new journey that I am on. I started the other day and began reading about the Creation and how God formed man out of the dust of the earth and.... something happened.
I have always been a reserved person. I guess the proper term to use is that I am an introvert. Some people have perceived my reserved and quiet spirit for weakness. Others have perceived it as being snooty or stuck up. Believe me I have heard it all. My dad has always been a quiet soul so I guess I got it from him. I used to wish I could be more outgoing and sociable but I finally resolved that it is just not me. The people who have taken the time to get to know me realize that yes I am quiet at times but there is so much more to me than just that. I like to laugh and joke and have a good time but a lot of people don't get the opportunity to see that. I used to question myself and whether it was something about me that made me unapproachable or if I just needed to force myself to be more outgoing and then I read Genesis and all of my reservations began to dissipate.
In the beginning, God said, "Let us make man in our own image and our own likeness." (Genesis 1:26) It is interesting to note that God called all of the animals into existence. He spoke and a lion came to be. He said a word and a bird began flying in the air. There is no grand description of how God formed each and every animal individually. Yet when it came to man, God said let us make man. God took the dust of the earth and formed man and then He imparted His very DNA into His unique design and man became a living soul. Now I can't even tell you the number of times that I have read that scripture. I have heard it taken as a text and preached by mighty men and women of God but on this particular time I received divine revelation as it relates to my own life.
God used the dust of the earth to form man. When you think about dust, it is something that is practically useless. You cannot use dust to produce anything. It has no value, no source of nourishment yet God used it to form man. He took the time to take something that seemed useless and molded and shaped it into something mighty and powerful. He took His breath and imparted it into this lifeless creation and it became something. He made something out of nothing.
There have been times in my life where I have felt worthless. I have felt like there was no plan in place for my life. I have dwelt in past mistakes and regrets. I have longed for a do-over. There have been times when I have questioned who I am. I have looked at others and said to myself, "Why can't I be more outgoing like her or why can't I be more outspoken?" Then I realized in that moment of reading Genesis that God made me exactly who He wanted me to be. I don't have to be like other people because I am unique. God molded and shaped every part of who I am. He took the time to think about what would make me special and different. He peeked into my future and knew my quiet spirit would come in handy. He saw the struggles I would face and knew that sometimes I would have to sit in the silence and be able to handle it. When God made me, He made something out of nothing.
I want to encourage you today that if you have ever felt like you weren't good enough, or pretty enough or smart enough that it is just a lie straight from the pit of hell. God did not just speak you into existence. No, He molded and shaped every part of who you are. Just like the potter takes a piece of clay and molds it and shapes it until it becomes a masterpiece, you are the product of God's great design. He took the time to look into your future and give you everything you would need to complete this journey we call life.
When I was pregnant with my twin boys I remember feeling so heavy. I was so tired of being pregnant. All I wanted to do is hold my babies and it seemed like my due date was never going to come. Then in early December I went into labor but my due date wasn't until March. I was paralyzed with fear wondering if my babies would be okay because I knew it was too early. I laid flat on my back in the hospital for three weeks until I delivered them at 32 weeks. They were hooked up to monitors and feeding tubes and I longed to have that time back to nurture and care for them in my womb but I couldn't get that time back. Thankfully my boys came through that difficult time without any lasting effects but I would have much rather endured that time of pregnancy than to watch them struggle.
Have you ever wondered why pregnancy takes 9 months? Yes in the natural there is a developmental process. It takes time for the organs to develop. It takes time for the lungs to gain enough strength so that the infant can breathe on his or her own. This is all true but I believe that spiritual development is also going on and that does not happen over night. While in the womb I believe God is imparting gifts, talents and anointing upon that child. God is looking at every trial that the baby will face and giving him or her unique traits that will help them navigate through life successfully. That molding and shaping process that took place in the Garden of Eden is still happening today. What a wonderful miracle!
Don't ever doubt who you are. You are good enough. You have purpose. God is with you and for you. There will always be people who don't understand you. There will always be people who say, "Why can't you be more like this or more like that?" When people speak those things into your life just look them dead in the eyes and say, "God made me who I am. He made something out of nothing."
"And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7
Until next time.....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be You.
When my oldest son came to me and said he wanted to join the band, I was so excited. I have always wanted to play an instrument but let's just say my patience is a little thin so I never stayed committed to it. So when Jay told me he wanted to play an instrument I encouraged him to not only start but to follow through and take pride in his craft. He started out playing the clarinet and then transitioned to the tuba. I would often listen to him practice at home and every day he got better and better. When he had concerts, the band would practice a little before the concert began and it was amazing to see them all together. They had all practiced individually and when they came together they produced this one holistic sound.
When I first got sick, I didn't stop pressing. I was on a praise team. I was still teaching Sunday School. I continued to serve despite the pain I was in. Then it got to the point where my health continued to decline and I couldn't do the things that I used to do and it left me frustrated. My spirit wanted to continue but my body just wouldn't cooperate. I wondered what in the world was going on. I was already serving in the church, reading my Bible and paying my tithes. God did not have to force me to do anything because I was a willing servant. I looked at others being blessed and I felt like I was missing something. Did I do something wrong? Was my heart in the wrong place? Did I sin and fall short of God's glory? Then I began to realize that every trial and tribulation in my life is a part of God's purpose and plan for me. The devil wanted me to replay those negative questions over and over in my mind so I could drift into the pit of despair. I have since embraced the fact that because I am a believer there is nothing in my life that happens by chance or by coincidence. My very footsteps are ordered by the Lord. God is not surprised or taken off guard by my situation. It is a part of the plan.
I remember watching Jay practicing with the band and it was interesting to see how the director noticed when the string section needed to be more pronounced or the bass section was too loud. If she heard one section that sounded a little off, she urged them to replay their notes over again. When I heard them, it was all one sound. I couldn't really hear those distinctions. The director however knew that the orchestra would not be complete if one section was missing. Such as it is in our own lives. God knows that we need the trial and tribulation because it not only develops our faith but it pushes us forward to destiny. If we don't go through the tough times we will miss out on the totality of all our lives can become.
My situation is not a punishment from God and neither is yours. The God I serve is a loving and compassionate God and anything He allows us to go through is ultimately for our good. God has adopted us into His family. Those that He loves, He chastens. It may not always feel good and we may not understand it while we are going through it but every situation that we face pushes us closer and closer to our promise. Your life is like an orchestra. Every test and trial, every tribulation and every hardship is writing the lyrics to your own unique song. If one part is missing, your masterpiece will be incomplete. At the end of the day we have to realize that God's will is going to be done in our lives. We need to follow the director of our lives and listen to His directions. When we yield to His plan, the world will begin to hear the beautiful music that our lives produce.
When I listened to Jay in the band, I knew what instrument he was playing but I couldn't pick him out of the crowd. The orchestra was one sound. All of the sections were blended together beautifully. Yes he worked hard on his craft. There were times when he got frustrated while practicing but it was all preparation for the big stage. Jay was playing his instrument so seamlessly that I had forgotten about those nights that he wanted to quit. It was as if he had played that instrument all his life. When you come out of your storm, there will not be any residue left. Yes the flames may get hot but God has graced you to withstand the heat. On the other side of the pressing is complete and total victory. People won't be able to see what you've gone through. All they will be able to see is God's glory manifested through you. Stay in the fight. I can't wait to hear your song!!
Until next time....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be You!
I started watching the Hunger Games Series a few weeks ago. I hadn't read the books so I knew nothing about the plot of the story but here's the gist of the series: to avoid political uprising, the Capital randomly selects one male and female child from each of 12 districts to participate in a fight to the death with one lone survivor. During the Hunger Games, these children are placed in extreme conditions with insurmountable odds against them. As I watched this series, I thought about my situation and how at times it felt barren and devoid of life.
Then I thought about the son of Jonathan in II Samuel 9 who was placed in Lo-debar. Lo-debar was a city where there was barrenness, no productivity and essentially the place of the forgotten. Lo-debar actually means "no pasture." It was a place where nothing would grow. There are times in all of our lives where we will be tossed into Lo-debar and it feels like we are forgotten. I've been there. There have been nights where I just cried myself to sleep wondering if there would ever be a change in my situation. I longed for deliverance but it seemed that deliverance was no where to be found. The most detrimental thing about Lo-debar is that there is no upward mobility. Once you are there, you become stagnant. Since nothing grows in Lo-debar the life is slowly drained from you and if you are not careful, death is imminent.
What I have discovered in my own Lo-debar is that it is a place of transition. Lo-debar is not my final destination. I cannot look at what is going on around me as an indication of what my future will bring but I must remain hopeful and look for the promises of God to become a reality in my life. All the while that Jonathan's son Mephibosheth was in Lo-debar, David was looking to restore him. He thought he had been forgotten but in the midst of feeling hopeless, plans were being made for his restoration. David found him and brought him out of Lo-debar and into his proper place - the palace.
As I sat and watched the Hunger Games, I was left with a feeling of peace knowing that in the end of the movie the main character defeated her enemies and found rest. After all of the destruction, death, and turmoil the main character faced, she navigated through her personal Lo-debar and suddenly she was lying in green pastures. As a result, I thought about my own Lo-debar experience yet I remain hopeful that my days of palace living are on the way. God has not forgotten about His children. David reminds us in the 23rd Psalm that even though we may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death, God is right there with us in the midst of our darkest hours. God is working to bring about deliverance. Yes there will be moments when you are afraid. Yes there will be moments when you have to cry. Yes there will be days when you feel like giving up. But in those times remember that God is making a way of escape for you. He never sleeps. All we have to do is navigate through Lo-debar and not become infected with the spirit of Lo-debar.
Today affirm yourself with these words: My dream is not dead. My vision will become a reality. I will give birth to my promise.
What has your own Lo-debar experience taught you?
Until next time....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be YOU!
From the time I was a little girl, my parents instilled upon me the power of prayer. I would see my mom overcome great obstacles in her life and I know it was all because of prayer. I heard sermons about prayer and read Scriptures reemphasizing what I had heard all my life. As a result I became a prayer warrior. I would find myself praying in the car on the way to work - eyes open of course! I would feel the urging to pray for people that God would lay on my heart and I would do it without hesitation. I faced battles and my first instinct was to pray.
Then when my illness left me confined to a wheelchair for the second time....I lost the fervency I once had in prayer. Even though I had prayed my way through storms before, sometimes life can knock you down so hard that you lose the zeal and thirst you once had. All of a sudden, I didn't feel like praying. I could not even come up with the words to say. How could this happen? My prayers had seen me through sickness, the loss of loved ones, financial troubles yet in what seemed like an instant, I did not feel like praying.
When I would sit in the silence, I knew that God was longing to hear from me but I did not know what to say to Him. I felt like Elijah who had once called down fire from Heaven and later was hiding from Jezebel under a juniper tree. How did such a mighty man of God like Elijah go from declaring and decreeing to towering in fear? I have asked myself that same question as it relates to my own life. I don't have a magic answer to that question but what I am gaining from those moments is that sometimes the silence is good because it gives each of us an opportunity to sit in our truth. Sometimes we can get so busy hearing ourselves talk that we don't take the time to listen. Many of us are afraid of the silence. The silence was scary for me because it was uncomfortable. I was no longer in control of what was going to happen next. I could only wait. I had to nurse my wounds and come to the realization that I was letting my situation define who God is in my life instead of letting God show me who He is through my situation.
Because of God's omniscience, He knew that my current situation would leave me in a dry place. He also knew that once I became thirsty enough, I would return to the fountain and drink. Isn't it amazing how God uses the dry places in our life to reiterate how much we need Him! As I sat in the silence void of prayer, God was still drawing me to Him. I didn't ignore the silence but I sat in it and eventually I found my way to the fountain to quench my thirst.
The urge to pray began to rekindle, but I had to reconnect to God again. I bought a book called, Pocket Prayers - 40 Simple Prayers that Bring Peace and Rest by Max Lucado and it was life changing. I highly recommend it! Each page starts with a scripture and ends with a corresponding prayer. My husband and I use it every morning. At first that was the only prayer that I rendered to God. Soon enough, however the words began to emerge and prayer began to flow from my lips. My relationship with God has gone to a different level. This does not mean that I am exempt from ever going to that place again. It just means that now I am aware that life can sometimes lead us down a path that we never thought we would travel. Ignorance is a deadly weapon the enemy uses to keep us bound. I am glad to say that I am free today because I yielded to the lesson God was trying to teach me.
There are still times, however that I don't feel like praying and when that happens, I sit in the silence, unveil my truth and let God minister to me. He always does.
What have you learned or seen God do through your prayer life? I would love to hear your testimonies, lessons learned, etc.
Until next time....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be You.