Can I Have A Little More Time God

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It was during a Sunday morning worship service that the Lord impressed upon me to do something I never dreamed I would do. For years, I had been praying for confidence, growth in knowledge, security, and to become what I was meant to be in God’s eyes… Y’all, God was calling me to attend college after twenty years of being out of High School – which I barely graduated due to bad grades – Truth!

I had so many questions as to why He would choose such an avenue to answer those prayers. I was reluctant to follow Him because I had gotten comfortable praying. Just being honest! I thought those prayers would never get answered. Fear and the unknown gripped me. At that moment, He instructed me to step to the altar as an act of my surrender to His will and an abandonment of mine. Yikes! I began arguing with God. I told Him all the reasons why His timing was off. For one, the service had just started and it was not time for the “altar call.” Tradition says those are meant for the end of service, right? In my stance of pride, I told God I would surrender when I got home, in private. Well, that did not set well with the Holy Spirit and as I felt His presence resend I could not get to that altar fast enough!

I feared God at that moment more than I feared the unknown and the people that would witness my actions.

Have you ever argued with God?

Have you ever questioned His calling in your life?

Have you ever postponed obedience?

In the book of Matthew and Luke, there is a discussion between a couple of disciples and Jesus regarding the call to follow Him. One of them wanted to bury his father first, but Jesus told him to let the dead bury their own. This can sound cruel, but biblical commentators speculate that his Father was not dead and could live many years to follow. This disciple was asking for more time before stepping into obedience to Jesus’ call on his life.

Perhaps he feared his family and others would not understand why he was following Jesus. Perhaps the sacrifice of leaving his family and community was too weighty. Nonetheless, his response was inadequate to Jesus. Delayed obedience to Jesus is disobedience.

In Matthew 9:23 we learn that Jesus got in the boat and the disciples followed Him. They chose to sacrifice relationships, what was comfortable, and their reputation to follow Him. Their allegiance to Christ surpassed their allegiance to everyone and anything else.

No matter what God is calling us to, even if it doesn’t make sense right now, our faith at that moment must become bigger than our fears. God’s purpose for His calling is bigger than us.

If they had not followed Christ, they would have missed out on life-changing events. For instance, immediately after they had gotten in the boat with Jesus a horrific storm arose (Jesus never promised life would be without trials as they followed Him). Jesus got up from His seated position in the boat and rebuked the winds and the sea bringing about a great calm. Then, when they reached the other side they witnessed Jesus commanding demons, with one word “go,” to flee from two possessed men into a herd of pigs that ran off into the sea drowning. To read the full story go to Matthew 8:23-34.

If I had not followed Jesus’ call that day, during worship, I would have sacrificed seeing Him work in my life. I would have missed experiencing God and Him answering prayers from years ago. I gained confidence, started a small business, and graduated with honors… Me? With honors? Only God could pull that off. The sacrifice was uncomfortable, and it was hard. But living in disobedience to a call you may not fully understand forges greater sacrifice and heartache.

Is God calling you to something bigger than yourself? Are you hesitating to follow Him?

If it is a clear call from God don’t argue.  Don’t question.  Trust Him. Choose to step into His boat and follow Him. He will calm the storms of life and He will protect you because you are His and He loves you with an everlasting love. He will never call you to anything that is not intended for your good and His glory. Romans 8:28-30

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” (Psalms 56:3 NIV)

 

 

 

 

I Was Not Honest With God

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Can you recall a time you were ministered to through song? Maybe it led you into deeper intimacy with God, brought joy to a sad season, caused praise to be on your lips as opposed to grumbling, or reminded you that you’re not alone. Maybe only a phrase of it jumped into your heart causing an impact in your moment.

It is not uncommon for God to use songs to refine my walk with Him. On one particular day while driving around, running errands, Francesca Battistelli’s song, “If We’re Honest” came on the radio. One part of her song resonated with me, “Mercy is waiting on the other side if we are honest.” It was as if God was saying, “Jodi, you have not been completely honest with ME and that is why you are struggling to find MY peace.” I wanted to slam on the brakes! I had recently brought Him several weighty concerns. I wanted to defend myself before God and remind Him of my surrender of them. However, as I searched my heart and re-evaluated my actions it became clear. I managed to withhold just enough from Him so I could still have some control, some say so, and some influence on my outcome.

What was I thinking?

Why was I not trusting God with it all?

How about you? Do you struggle to surrender to God?

I am aware that for some the word surrender does not set well. I mean who wants to tap out and give up? But with the proper perspective, surrender is a worship word. When we are willing to let go of anything that hinders our relationship with God, allowing Him to be Lord of our lives, we are demonstrating God is God and we are not.

Jesus implores us to release our everything to Him. Consider the following scriptures:

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)

We have permission to reassign responsibility on God for all the details, all our worries, and the outcome of it all.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NKJV)

When we fully surrender to Him we are grafted into His plans and His ways and can do anything through Him.

“…Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34 NKJV)

Why would we not want to deny ourselves of worry, anxiety, confusion, despair…? Perhaps we cannot see the mercy He will give us on the other side. Mercy that gently loves us, covers us and restores us to Himself. Or perhaps it is because we lack faith in a trustworthy God.

As I considered what God revealed to me about not being honest with Him, I repented seeking His forgiveness. Why, might you ask? Because I was indeed telling Him that I could not trust Him with my concerns and I was trying to be god and lord of my circumstances. Immediately upon my repentance, God provided a peace I cannot explain and the fruit of my obedience was more than I deserved. Over those next few days, God’s mercy and grace walked me through a trying time of medical test, surgery, and recovery that apart from Him I would have been a hot mess.

To be honest with you surrendering to God is easier said than done, and I fail at it way too often. However, it is a necessary action if we truly want to walk in obedience allowing Him to be Lord and authority in our lives. The next time you hear your favorite song played, ask God to allow it to fall afresh on your ears. He may use it to impact your moment like never before.

What do you need to be honest with God about today? Mercy is just on the other side!

For fun, I have broken the word surrender down so we can remember the blessing behind the action.

Submit

Unleash

Release                                     The Action of Surrender

Reassign

Emptying


Newness

Dependence                            The Promise of Surrender

Entering

Rest

Is It Well With My Soul?

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I was perusing through a department store trying to escape my emotions. Honestly, I wanted to feel numb, even for just a moment. I slowly walked through each aisle capturing words on decorative wall hangings. One of them caused me to take a long pause. It read, “It is well with my soul.” I asked myself if that was true for me. The answer was no. No, it was not well with my soul. Life had been feeling difficult. Goals out of reach. Loneliness and depression setting in. Things happening out of my control. I wanted it all to be well with my soul, but it was not something I could magically make happen. As I continued my perusing I found myself surrounded by words of encouragement on these wall hangings.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…

Love bears all things…

Amazing grace…

God is good…

Faith…

I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you…

Choose joy…

Be still and know…

You get the picture. I chuckled because I was not in a Christian store! Here I was surrounded by God’s Word causing me to think and address some of my emotions.

Have you ever felt things were not well with your soul?

Have you ever felt your purpose or goals were out of reach?

Have you ever felt confused by your emotions?

Me too!

I know that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33) When I find my joy gone, and my soul in a drought, I go back to His Word. His Word always speaks clarity to what I am struggling with.

Back at home from the store, I began my daily reading in Deuteronomy and God brought to light something so simple and yet profound. It is found in chapter 30:11,14

“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.”

Let that word wash (or spoken from my true southern dialect “warsh”) over you for a moment. Read it again.

Now, receive this next truth that only God can accomplish. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you.

He will be with you.

He will not fail you or forsake you.

Do not fear or be dismayed.”

If what His Word says is true, and I believe it is, then why does it ‘feel’ like it is not? It is because our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

The enemy (Satan) wanted me to be numb. He wanted me to not address what I was experiencing. But God wanted the opposite for me. God surrounded me with His truths, His promises, His commands, and drew me into His Word in Deuteronomy. He was pursuing me, letting me know that things can be well with my soul. I needed to focus and acknowledge that He is sovereign, He goes before me and yet never leaves me, and what He is desiring me to do is not too difficult.

What He is desiring you to do is not too difficult!

We can trust that if God has planned it, He will do it. (Isaiah 46:11b)

Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

It can be well with our souls no matter the battle we are in. There is no storm that He cannot calm, nor any depth of despair He cannot pull us from. Let praise be on our lips for His word is in our hearts, and ever so near to us. As we trust Him with what we are trying to escape, He will work all things out for the good.

 

 

 

 

I Saw God In Flesh

mydesignOn my morning walk with the Lord, I prayed that He would reveal Himself to me. A moment later, I noticed a man just ahead of me. He was walking slowly, dragging a white bag to his trashcan.  I noticed his extremely thin frame and how it was a struggle to lift the bag up into the can. As I approached where he was, he smiled and gave a good morning greeting. I stopped, replied, and asked how he was doing. He proceeded to tell me that he has cancer along with a heap of other health issues. He said his cancer had gone into remission but now, he is living one day at a time. My natural reaction was to ask him if he knew the Lord as his Savior, and I did.

Have you ever felt the urgency to ask someone about their eternal security?

We said our goodbyes, and I continued on my walk. I began to weep! God had revealed Himself through this man to me. Yes, he had only days to live, but God showed me His grace for this man. His love. His strength. His comfort. His sovereignty. It was nearly too much for me to comprehend.

Have you ever experienced God in such a way?

Not long into my walk, I found a quarter on the road, and Matthew 25 came to mind. As I rolled it around in my hand, I asked the Lord for more clarity. Would you believe that on my way back home I found a dime? It was clear to me that I was to look up Matthew 25:10. I could not get home fast enough to see what His Word would reveal!

Matthew 25 tells the story of ten virgins invited to participate in a wedding.  The virgins, like bridesmaids, were asked to bring oil lamps to light the way for a procession of some sort.  Five of the virgins came prepared with enough oil for the occasion.  They were ready when the Bridegroom arrived. The other five were simply not ready. They had no oil to light their lamps when the Bridegroom came. They frantically rushed to purchase more oil, but by the time they returned, the door to the wedding had been shut.  It was too late.  The verse the Lord led me to on my walk, verse 10, reveals the harsh reality of this story …

“And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.”

Verses 11-13: “Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”  The bridesmaids? You and me. The Bridegroom? Jesus. The wedding feast? Eternal life. Five were ready. Five were not.

When I asked the man about his salvation, he proclaimed that he knew the Lord as his Savior. I asked when that happened for him. He said, “Five years ago, I realized I was a religious man for many years, but when I almost died, I realized I needed to know the Lord as my Savior.” He also told me that he was ready to die; All with a smile and peace glowing from his face. Like Matthew 25:10 reads, ‘he is ready’.  I was compelled to remind him that God allowed him to still be alive today because He was not done with him. I urged him to share with others the strength and presence of God he had experienced.

Can you relate to this man? Are you a religious person without a personal relationship with Christ? Are you ready to meet the Bridegroom?

My friend, we are not promised tomorrow. Today is the day to know the Lord; To have a personal relationship with Him. To know that you know, that you know, you will spend eternity with Him when you die.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Time is of the essence so, what are you waiting for? Click ( here )to pray and know Jesus today as your Lord and Savior.

If reading this brought someone to mind that you are unsure of their salvation, do not wait any longer to ask the question!  Their eternity may be on the line.

I do not think it was a coincidence that I met this man, then found a quarter and dime leading me to Matthew 25:10.  I asked God to reveal Himself to me, and He did!  Wherever your “walk” may lead you today … seek to find Him along the way.   Whatever happens … will be no coincidence!

Is It All About You OR God’s Bigger Plan?

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Ever experienced God’s grace? I have many times. My sins pile high so if it were not for His unmerited favor towards me, I would be hopeless. God has fought for me, protected me, provided for me, been patient with me, and continues to forgive me. He has carried me through my brokenness and healed my wounds. So why do I continue to be stubborn and rebellious with Him at times? Why do I think my victories are about me? Why is the nature of my heart still willing to become prideful?

Have you asked yourself the same questions?

I do not have all the answers but I do know that our victory is based on God’s graciousness and not our righteousness.

In Deuteronomy 9:4-6, Moses spoke hard truths to the Israelites that apply to us today. He warned them not to become self-righteous, and that their God-given victories were not just about or for them.

Moses knew that God would go before them into their promised land, allowing their enemies to fall quickly. He also knew God’s people. They may have thought the victory was theirs because of their own righteousness.  Three times Moses warns them not to think in such a way.

Not because of your righteousness, but because of their wickedness…

“Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, ‘because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you.”

Not because of your righteousness, but because of their wickedness…

“It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Not because of your righteousness lest you forget your nature…

“Know then it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people.

“You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day I knew you.” (9:24)

What a picture of God’s grace!

We can miss what God is unfolding when we think our victory over the enemy is in response to our works. God blesses us not just for our own sake, but for Himself, as well.  He is allowing us to be a part of His work. We can miss this when we yield to our own nature and think it is all about us. Like the Israelites, we too are a stubborn people that are rebellious. So, let’s not allow our righteousness to turn into self-righteousness.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1John 1:8)

Don’t miss the fact that the Israelites would have victory because it was God that would go before them and subdue their enemies. Whatever victory or blessing you receive; it is because God chooses to go before you while extending His grace.

Praise Him and keep your heart clean and upright before a Holy God. God is the one due the glory!

 

When To Stay-When To Go

When to stay when to goEver relocated your family for a job assignment? We moved several times while in the military. Each move required packing up our belongings, emotions, and what was familiar. Uncertainties of when we would move, where we would go, and how long we would remain was part of military life. We were at the mercy of orders handed down from Command. We learned to depend on God for comfort, wisdom, and guidance.

Are you in the process of a move?

Are you packing up your belongings, emotions, and all that is familiar?

If your answer is yes, let me comfort you with a truth. God is already where you are going. He has your back. He is working out all the details and preparing new friendships… He is also working within you a deeper dependence on Him. He wants you to be settled in Him when your circumstances feel unsettling.

God shows us in Numbers 9:15-23 how He moved the Israelites through a cycle in an effort to grow them in complete dependence, obedience, and trust in Him.

God used a cloud by day and the appearance of fire by night (representing His presence) as a sign for when they were to move, where they were to move to, and how long they were to remain. If the cloud was settled upon the tabernacle, they were to camp and remain, but if it had moved, they were to set out.

This was the cycle upon God’s command:

Set Out-Camp-Remain

Set Out-Camp-Remain

Sometimes they would remain 2 days, a month, or a year…

I imagine the Israelites waking each morning, wiping their sleepy eyes, stumbling to the entrance of their tents, and slowly pulling the curtain back to see if God’s presence was settled upon the tabernacle, or if it had moved.

They looked for His presence and leading daily.

Can we say we are doing the same thing today? Are we wiping the sleepy off of our eyes expecting to see Him each morning? Are we trusting Him as He leads us?

Relocating can make us weary. It can lead us to shift our focus away from God and onto ourselves.  When that happens, we can feel misled, unsure of our decision, and unsettled.

But, if we choose to apply Proverbs 3:5-6, we will find a settling peace and comfort in knowing we can trust God even when things do not make sense and they are hard.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. (HCSB)

The Lord will be at our side. He is a friend to the upright and blesses the home of the righteous. So, no matter where we are in the cycle of setting out-setting up- or remaining, God is at work. Look for His presence and leading daily.  He is faithful to provide comfort, wisdom, and guidance.

 

 

 

 

 

Perspective Shift

IMG_0136Ever felt ill-equipped? Feeling like you don’t have the necessary skill, ability or resources to do or be what God has called you to? I have felt it!

Ill-equipped to:

Witness for Christ

Fulfill my purpose

Forgive

Love

Be a wife

Be a mother

Be a friend

1 Chronicles 22 transformed my perspective from feeling ill-equipped to fully equipped.

The desire of David’s heart was to glorify God and equip Solomon, his son, to do likewise.

David labored to provide all the resources and skilled laborers necessary to build the sanctuary.

Solomon had all the resources he needed, yet he became afraid and believed the lie that he was ill-equipped for the calling ahead. In verse thirteen David told him to be strong and courageous and not to fear or be dismayed.

David was encouraging Solomon that although the task seemed daunting he ought not be discouraged for God was with him.

Lean in closer and listen up!

David said, “of the gold, the silver and the bronze and the iron there is no limit. Arise and work, and may the Lord be with you.”  (1 Chronicles 22:16)

Solomon only needed to take the next step and start building.

Y’all!

God has provided us with unlimited provisions to fulfill what He has called us to do or be! We need only tap into the source and get to work.

In Him we are equipped with limitless:

Grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, wisdom, compassion, discernment, Gifts, talents, access to Himself, friendship, help…

Not only is He our help but He places others in our path with special skills to come along side us.

If God calls us to a task, He will equip us. Paul’s own testimony of this is true. “I am sure that God who began the good work in you will keep on working in you until the day Jesus Christ comes again.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

Maybe you’re asking yourself how to even begin using the provisions God has set before you.

Verse nineteen answers: “Set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.”

When you seek the Lord, you will find Him. The same God who called Solomon and equipped him is the same God who calls you. We can trust in God to equip us for our calling because He promises to do so in His word.

Do not be discouraged or dismayed instead be strong and courageous because the Lord is with you.

Let’s transform our perspective from being ill-equipped to fully equipped. The Lord will be glorified through us. Through Jesus we are equipped to witness for Him, fulfill our purpose, forgive, love, and be what others need us to be to them.