Blog, Home, Life, Family, Encouragement

Is Your Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

I am sure you have heard the famous question of, “Do you see the glass as half empty or half full?” This question is usually asked when trying to determine if a person is pessimistic or optimistic.

However, I recently heard another pastor (I don’t remember who) state that what people are forgetting is that the glass if refillable!

WOW!

Such an obvious yet deep statement; one that I never really looked at before now.

It is typical of the world we live in to make you believe there are only two options; in this case half empty or half full. In other cases, it may look like; we are to believe what the government and the ‘majority’ are saying or stand against them.

Pushing an outrageous agenda that an individual is either supportive of the misguided opinion or you are a hate filled bigot who must be stopped is another example of today’s society deceiving you to believe it is one or the other.

BUT GOD! There is ALWAYS going to be the original set standard of truth, morality, purpose, and creation. The Bible warns us of the days that the world will perceive lies as truth and truth as lies. We must remember our roots and stand strong like a tree that is planted by the water– we shall NOT be moved.

Going back to the cup analogy; there is another popular saying that comes to mind and that is, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” Referring to self-care, if you continue to pour out your love, patience, understanding, and so on, but you never refill the cup eventually you will have nothing left to pour out; your glass will be empty.

The point is, you do not have to be conformed to the worlds’ view and perception.

The glass is neither half full nor half empty– the glass is REFILLABLE!

When you are feeling down and like your glass is half empty, I encourage you to dig into scripture and fill your glass back up with good, pure water (the Word) and have confidence in knowing that the Lord knows we all need a ‘refill’ that is why His Word tells us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

God knows that the world is going to persecute, distort, and attempt to leave you feeling empty. That is why His Word, the Bible, is full of encouragement, truth, and promises you and I can count on.

We must be careful not to buy-in to the lie that our cups are half empty and we definitely do not want to be refilling our cup with the ways of the world.

If you don’t refill with the correct pure water (truth, the Word of God, and Jesus), your cup will contain filthy, tainted water of the world; which can leave you feeling more empty than ever before.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Lord, I come to You this morning so thankful and humble for Your promises and that You are a promise keeper. Father, sometimes we see our glass as half full and other times half empty. God, You know our hearts and struggles, forgive us for quickly falling trap to lies in the world. God I pray You help us to remember that You are our cup and our cup is refillable! God remind us that we cannot pour from an empty cup and that we need You, Your Word, and Your faithfulness to refill us with good and pure water. Lord help us to remember to call on You when we are feeling weak or empty. Help us to not allow the world to fill our cup with dirty tainted water that will only poison our souls and those around us. Lord, I cry out today fill our cups! Give us the renewed strength, patience, and love we need to continue to spread Your love and kindness to others. I thank you for Your many blessings and claim these promises today in the name of Jesus.

Amen


Blog, Devotionals, Home, Life, Family, Encouragement

The Poison of Bitter Fruit

Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Life has a way of handing each of us less than ideal circumstances when we least expect it. These difficult life events can have an astounding impact on our character and the results we produce throughout life. Our circumstances, trials, and tribulations can make us better or bitter.

Just as the scripture above states, a good tree (a person who is spiritually sound, rooted in the truth, and connected to God) bears good fruit, but a bad tree (a person who is spiritually lost, rooted in the ways of the world, and disconnected from God) bears bad fruit.

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit just as a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

In Galatians 5:19-21 we are warned that those who produce works of the flesh (bad fruit) will not inherit the kingdom of God.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Bible tells us what the fruits of the Spirit (good fruit) are in Galatians 5:22-23 and then warns us again in Galatians 5:24-26 to not walk or live outside of the Spirit as this produces bad fruit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Our purpose and role in the world is to be a good tree that consistently produces good fruit; sharing the love of Christ with every person we encounter daily.

If we are attempting to carry our burdens alone, apart from God’s help, power, and authority, we will quickly begin to see the poison of our bad fruit seeping into the lives of those around us.

Maybe you are thinking; that is me, the fruits I am producing are not good. Perhaps you think I am ‘mostly good’ but I do not think you need God to be a ‘healthy tree that produces healthy good fruits’. Some of you may even be thinking I have accepted Christ that makes me a good tree only producing good fruit.

We need to look at the details of what make a tree ‘good and healthy’, producing good fruit. When comparing to our spiritual life a good tree would need particular care that a bad tree would not have.

A good tree would first start off as a ‘good seed’ in this case it starts with the acceptance of Jesus Christ into your heart as your Lord and Savior. From this seed, the tree begins to sprout roots which will be what supports and strengthens the tree to be able to stand throughout its life.

Once the tree has a set of strong roots it slowly begins to sprout up towards the sun, in attempt to get the light and nutrients it needs to continue to live, grow and thrive. Another important part of a ‘good tree’ (spiritually speaking or literally speaking) is proper care. Seedlings and full grown trees alike must be watered daily. The water in our spiritual life is the constant pouring in to our hearts of God’s word.

As the tree grows and branches begin to form we must prune out anything that is harmful or hindering it’s growth. Sometimes pruning is necessary in our life as we grow spiritually, to eliminate possible trouble areas that threaten the quality of our fruits and our overall tree health.

Tree Lifecycle

Good seed – water/light for nutrients -roots form and tree is growing – branches sprout – pruning to shape the tree and remove anything threatening its fruit production – finally produces good fruit consistently

A quick overview of a solid healthy good fruit producing tree would look like this spiritually.

  • Person accepts Jesus Christ into their hearts as their Lord and Savior. (the good seed)
  • Then the person would water their seed daily by reading scripture and seeking God daily; inputting the necessary nutrients needed to ensure the tree has strong roots and continues to grow. (the water/nutrients)
  • The spiritual tree forms with roots deep in biblical morals, beliefs, and truth. From there the tree continues to be watered, the tree continues to grow, and branches begin to sprout.
  • At this point the tree has a stable core and root system. Enabling it to stand and withstand any storm that comes its way. The branches are forming and it is time to prune out any branches that are hindering our growth. (removing and healing parts of our life that are damaged and/or sinful to ensure our tree stays strong and healthy preparing to produce good fruit.
  • Finally good fruit is produced from a good and healthy tree: love, peace, joy, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control

I am pretty confident in saying most people have heard the saying “you reap what you sow”. In other words you do good you get good; you do bad you get bad. I could not agree more; however, I would like everyone to look into this claim a little deeper.

The fruit we produce are the seeds we are sowing into the lives of those around us, including those that we love. Children, spouses, siblings, parents, and grandparents are some of the most influenced by the seeds we sow.

Now that we have seen what it looks like to be a good tree bearing good fruit, take a look at what it may look like to be a ‘bad tree’ bearing ‘bad fruit’.

  • Failure to accept God or denial of His existence. (bad seed)
  • Failure to water and give seed the proper nutrients to grow healthy, strong, good roots. (no biblical truth inputted into their lives)
  • Tree sprouts but the core and roots are weak and unable to hold the tree firmly upright. Causing it to sway, crack, and feel the pressures of life’s storms. (core and root system is not built on sound truth, leaving it vulnerable when difficulties strike.)
  • Tree begins to form branches and preparing for fruit, however the tree cannot hold the weight of the newly formed branches (life circumstances, pressure, and emotions) and we do not have the proper tools to ‘prune’ the tree. (leaving the damage and sinful ways still attached to the trunk/core; weighing it down causing its fruit to be far less than ideal.
  • The tree produces bad fruit; fruit that is damaged, diseased, unhealthy, and destructive. The Bible gives us the examples of bad fruits; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.

When we are living a life that is not centered around God and rooted in the truth (His Word-the Bible) the fruits (actions and results) we are producing lead to our own self destruction and it plants ‘bad seeds’ in the lives of those we care about.

Just as the good fruit plants seeds of hope, love and truth. Bad fruit will poison the life of those around us causing bad seeds to take root in their lives or cause their good fruit to transform to fleshly bitter fruit.

It is true that we act, speak, and even think like those who we are spending majority of our time with. What we take in, is what we put out. This is why it is key to plant the good seed of salvation into your life and properly care for it by watering it with God’s Word.

The great news is it doesn’t matter how big your ‘bad fruit tree’ is; there is ALWAYS the option to stop feeding the bad fruit tree and plant a new good seed, the seed of salvation and truth in Jesus Christ. Just as a typical fruit tree will die off if you stop watering it; so will your internal spiritual fruit tree.

Reflection

Everyday we make the choice as to which tree we will water and the type of ‘fruit’ we will produce. Look within yourself and think of the ways you act, speak, and think.

What kind of fruit are you TRULY producing?

  • Is it positive?
  • Is it God centered and truth based?
  • Does it line up with the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-26?

Is your inner spiritual tree a ‘good tree producing good fruit’ or ‘is it a bad tree producing bad fruit’?

  • What kind of tree do you want to have?
  • What changes if any do you feel you need to make to produce ‘good fruit’?
  • What areas of your life do you think could use some ‘pruning’ (perhaps an area you struggle in)?

Call to Action

Do you want to start over and plant the ‘good seed’ of salvation within you?

  • Say a prayer for salvation and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
  • Start watering the seed daily by reading your Bible.
  • Pray and Study God’s Word to ensure your new tree is well rooted and strong.
  • Seek God’s guidance on any ‘pruning’ or changes that you may need to make to protect your tree from producing bitter, fleshly fruit.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for sending Your Son to save us, to live within us, and enable us to produce good and healthy fruit in our lives and those around us. Lord God, forgive me for not properly caring for my inner spiritual tree, for not studying Your Word and seeking Your guidance in all I do. Lord if there are any areas in my life that I need to prune out for the sake of Your kingdom and to ensure I am producing good fruit and sowing good seeds into the lives of my loved ones. Lord God, help me to know where I may have poisoned others fruit by my bitterness and show me if and how I can sow new good seeds.

I pray that each person who reads this blog has open ears, open eyes, and most importantly an open heart to hear Your truth. I pray that You would help each person to truly seek their heart and have discernment on the type of fruit they are truly sowing into the lives of others. I pray that they would feel Your love and the Holy Spirit would move within them and help them to take the step of faith to accept the seed of salvation if they have not already and to ignite the desire to water it with the truth in God’s Word.

I pray You will bless each and every person who seeks You with all their heart and lead their steps in the way you want them to go. It is in Jesus mighty name I pray.

Amen

Blog, Devotionals, Home, Life, Family, Encouragement

Daily Devo- New Year, New Beginnings

2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

The new year has finally arrived and many of us are hoping for a better year then 2020. The new year seems to be the time people choose to make an effort to change something in their life. New year resolutions for things like weight loss, to stop smoking, eating healthier, to exercise and so on.

However most of these new years resolutions do not make it passed a week or so. This is likely because people are trying to make these changes within their own will power; which rarely ever works. The Bible tells us that without God we can do nothing, but with God we will bear much fruit. With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)

John 15:5-7 NKJV

“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. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

This year I want to encourage each of you to make changes that will last. Make changes that will bear great fruit and lead you to a deeper connection with God.

The Bible tells us that when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior that we become new creations in Him. The old passes away and all things are made new. In God we get a fresh start, a blank slate, and new beginnings.

Are you ready for a new year– new you?

God is waiting for you. Change is inevitable; the changes could be bad or good. However, even the bad changes have purpose in our life; they help us to grow and mold us into who we are.

Change is meant to polish you to make you shine brighter

When we make the ultimate, radical change and choose life over death, committing our lives to God and His kingdom we are made new in His image. His word tells us to forget the old things and focus on what God is doing in our life currently. Explaining that He can make ways when there seems to be no way.

Isaiah 43: 18-19 NKJV

18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

Change can be scary and uncomfortable when we are going through it, however God reminds us that His plans are for us are good and prosperous; they are meant to give us hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Often times when we choose to hand our life over to God; to renew our minds and save ourselves from our own sinful destruction; we will notice we will lose things from our former self. Things such as friends, family members, habits, and more, but God promises that He will replace these things with something far better.

The story of Job is a perfect example of this. He lost his health, his wealth, and all of his children died, but he kept his faith in God. Guess what?!? When the trial was over God blessed Job with far more than he had before.

Job 42:12 NKJV

12 Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys.

This year make the ultimate change and commit your life to God. If you seek Him above all else, He will guide your path and bless your life.

Proverbs 16:3

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

Matthew 6:33 NKJV

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for Your safety and protection throughout last year. Lord, although 2020 was full of uncertainties there is still a lot to be thankful for and I am truly blessed by Your mighty hand.

Lord a new year is upon us which means new obstacles, new trials, and many many new blessings. I pray that as we kick off the new year that as a nation we would dedicate our lives and future to You. That we would relay solely on Your guidance, direction, and protection. I pray as we walk through each day we would live a bold and courageous life for You.

I pray those that are lost would seek You and commit their lives to You; accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I pray that You would remind us that change is not always easy but it is necessary to live a fulfilling and prosperous life. I pray that Your will be done in each of our lives in Jesus mighty name I pray.

Amen

Blog, Devotionals, Life, Family, Encouragement

Daily Devo- The Heart of a Servant

God loves a joyful giver. We are called to be servants of the Lord- but what does this mean? Servants of the Lord are not only diligently seeking to serve Him, but also seeking to serve other’s in His name.

We are called to be the ‘hands and feet’ of the Lord, serving others just as Jesus did when He walked the earth. (Matthew 20:28) The intent of our heart is important to God. We should not be serving others to get recognition or repayment of any kind, but because we want to show other’s the love of Christ.

Philippians 2:3-5

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:7 that we should serve people as if we were serving the Lord and not man.

Serving others does not necessarily have to cost you money- there are plenty of ways to serve others and spread the love of Christ in our daily lives. The easiest way of giving is as simple as showing kindness to others.

  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Hold the door for someone.
  • Offer your seat up to your elders.
  • Volunteer
  • Lend a helping hand when you see it is needed (without being asked)
  • Praying for someone
  • Donate items you no longer need to someone who is in need instead of selling them.
  • Donate your time to listen or talk to someone who needs it.

The key to having a servants heart is actively seeking those in your community who needs encouragement, a helping hand, and to feel the love of Christ– without expecting anything in return!

1 Corinthians 15:58

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Challenge

I challenge you today to pray before you begin your day to day activities. Asking God to put people in your path that you can be a blessing too and to show you who they are. Ask God to help you be the light to others.

Reflect on Scripture

John 13:12-17

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

The above scripture tells us that we are to look to Jesus as the example of how we should be serving others. He was a servant and we are no greater then Him.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for sending Jesus to be the ultimate example of Your love and mercy. Lord, forgive me for having a selfish mindset and not always seeking to serve others. Lord, I pray that You would touch each person’s heart and help us to be better servants for You. Search my heart God and show me how I can be more obedient to Your call to serve. I pray that others would see Your love through me. I pray that I can be a light in Your name for those in the world facing dark seasons. I pray as we go forward with our day that You would guide our steps, send people to cross our paths so that we can be a blessing to them. Show me how I can help others and bring glory to Your kingdom. In Jesus might name I pray.

Amen

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Breaking Chains and Healing Trauma

We all experience events in life that are less than ideal. However, some events that people experience the pain and hurt goes much deeper than just the surface. Likely, we have all known someone that has been through a horrible loss or survived a difficult situation. When an event is so terrible that the pain and hurt cuts deep into our souls this is what counselor’s call trauma. Those who have had traumatic events happen in their life need help healing the wounds it caused. When healing is not sought after or completed for those that experienced the trauma– they are likely to grow up and damage others, including their own families.

There are two types of trauma– invasion trauma and abandonment trauma.

Invasion trauma is something that did happen to a person and caused damage.

Abandonment trauma is when something did NOT happen to a person that creates damage. (feeling unloved, not protected, or nurtured)

Both affect the four aspects of people’s lives: emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual.

Invasion Trauma

  • Emotional Invasion- when people feel criticized, shamed, or blamed verbally or nonverbally. It occurs when people are talked out of their feelings–‘Big girls don’t cry’ or ‘Christians don’t feel that way’. It can also occur when an adult authority figure reverses roles leaving the child to be a caregiver instead of receiving.
  • Physical Invasion- when someone is abused physically. This type of invasion can cause permanent physical damage. The emotional affect of this can also be experienced if someone lives in a home in which someone else is being physically abused.
  • Sexual Invasion- is when a person is touched or penetrated in sexual areas outside of a mutual relationship or marriage. This is a broad description as a person having consensual sex outside of God’s Plan can have traumatizing effects as well. This type of invasion can also occur if someone is teased or criticized about their bodies..
  • Spiritual Invasion- when a person is led to believe they are unworthy of God’s love and grace, even if well intended it could result in shame that many people can’t seem to shake.

Abandonment Trauma

  • Emotional abandonment- occurs when love, attention, care, nurture, and affirmation are not given. Resulting in loneliness.
  • Physical abandonment- happens when a person’s needs for food, shelter, and clothing are not met. People who do not receive positive ‘touch’- cuddles and hugs- can form what is called ‘touch deprivation’ Another form can happen when people do not receive the needed information for healthy physical self- care.
  • Sexual abandonment- occurs when parents or other responsible adults do not teach their children about healthy sexuality, not having the correct information can lead to devastating results.
  • Spiritual abandonment- occurs when healthy spiritual teachings are not available to children.

Sometimes in life the above categories can overlap. Damage in one part of a persons life can carry over to other areas, depending on the situation that caused the damage.

Effects of Trauma

Unhealed trauma can lead to symptoms like anxiety, depression, panic disorders, anger, loneliness, attachment disorders, and addictions of all kinds. Panic, anxiety, flashbacks, and anger sometimes are classified as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Trauma survivors can cope in a variety of ways- regardless if the trauma is remembered or not. Some may subconsciously seek to repeat the trauma in their adult lives, in attempt to have a different outcome. Some will create relationships with people who treat them poorly or some go the opposite way, and avoid and person or group of people who trigger their past memories of the trauma.

Healing Trauma

Trauma survivors need a number of things to recover from the trauma experienced

  • to have an education on the nature of the trauma- sometimes denial will need to be faced
  • need to have someone to listen that is comforting, accepting, and non-judgmental- someone that believes them and offers them hope of healing
  • need help in expressing their anger about their trauma- anger with the perpetrator and possibly God too. Education on how a loving God would allow trauma to happen could be helpful.
  • assistance on how to grieve the losses that the trauma has caused in their life
  • to understand that they did not deserve what happened to them and that they certainly did NOT cause it
  • assistance on developing boundaries so that the will not be further harmed in old, new, or existing relationships
  • to see the positive strengths that resulted from the trauma endured and the healing process
  • to find a way to forgive (the ultimate spiritual victory)- forgive the perpetrator, forgive themselves, and ask God to forgive them both

What the Bible says about trauma

Being a Christian does not guarantee you a pain free life. Sometimes our faith exposes us to difficulties and struggles we would not otherwise have been through. Here are a few note worthy things to know about life’s traumas:

  • Suffering is not always a punishment. God does allow people to suffer the consequences for their sinful choices, but that does not mean that every time we suffer it is because we are being punished. God uses suffering to strengthen us– to give us knowledge and life experience so that we can empathize with others– to shake us up when we are stagnant or losing our way– and sometimes God uses suffering to build our trust in Him.

    Psalm 46:1-11

46 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge

  • The key is to realize God does NOT leave us when we are suffering.

    Psalm 34:18
    The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
  • God will reward us for the suffering that we endure for His sake

    Matthew 5:10
    Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • God will heal you and bind up your wounds.

    Psalm 147:2-3
    The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
    He heals the brokenhearted
    And binds up their wounds.

    Psalm 107:20
    20 He sent His word and healed them,
    And delivered them from their destructions.
  • God adopts us into His family- we are never truly alone

    Psalm 27:10
    10 When my father and my mother forsake me,
    Then the Lord will take care of me.
  • God will direct our paths, if we trust in Him and not our own ways.

    Proverbs 3:5-8
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    And lean not on your own understanding;
    In all your ways acknowledge Him,
    And He shall direct your paths.
    Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    Fear the Lord and depart from evil
    It will be health to your flesh,
    And strength to your bones.

True healing and trust in God comes when we can look at our trauma from a different perspective. Learning to ask what can I learn or how can I grow from this instead of asking why me.

God does not always remove us from the traumatic situation but He does always help us through. He is our strength, when we are weak; He is near to the brokenhearted; and He will never leave us nor forsake us. If we trust in Him, He will heal us and deliver us from our shame, our guilt, and all other fleshly feelings that bind us.

Seek His truth and a relationship with Him and He will set you free!

Notes from Mark Laaser on healing the wounds that bind you

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for Your safety and protection throughout all difficulties that we face in life. Lord I pray that each person who reads this and has experienced trauma and it has had a lasting effect on the their life, would find freedom and hope in this message. Forgive me for running from You and blaming You instead of trusting in You and seeking Your guidance. Lord I pray You would work in each of their lives and bring peace through You so that they will glorify Your kingdom. Touch each heart and be their strength to seek healing in You. Lord, I pray that each person would find forgiveness in their hearts for themselves and those who have hurt them. I pray that you would give them discernment in their thoughts and feelings, that they would know who they are in You and not fall prey to the lies of Satan. I pray every chain from the trauma in life that has bound us would be broke in the name of Jesus. Lord, teach us how to trust in You, guide our steps, and help us to not lean on our own understanding, but seek healing and answers through you. It is in Jesus name I pray

Amen

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Daily Devo- 6 Characteristics of Strong Families

Think about the last time you remember facing a situation that threatened your life– what were you last thoughts? Were you fearful for your job– bank accounts– status– or dirty dishes in the sink?

Probably not! Aside from our relationship with Jesus the next important thing in our life is family. Our family is our most important responsibility, achievement, and legacy. What we teach our children daily– through our words and actions– is crucial. The quality of family is important to our happiness, emotional well-being, and mental health.

Happy strong families have these 6 characteristics in common.

Commitment

The warm fuzzy feeling and loving environment in a home comes from commitment. It offers a shelter for family members against the destructive feelings of fear, anxiety, and loneliness.

Ephesians 5:25-28 NKJV

The heart of the commitment to a family unit is the dedication to the marriage relationship. God sees the commitment so important that He strongly condemns any violation of that marital relationship. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

Commitment means to be there and never abandon each other– doing whatever it takes to love one another as we should.

Appreciation

Expressing appreciation and affection strengthen relationships and build strong families. God has made it known that He wants to be appreciated. One example in the Bible tells of Jesus hearing the pleas of ten lepers who cried out for healing– and He healed all ten. However, only one of them came to say thank you. Jesus was pleased with the one that came back to give Him thanks and glory– He was displeased by the nine who did not.
(Luke 17:11-19)

Members in strong families express appreciation for even the small things. Showing gratitude– pointing out the good qualities in one another– encouraging each other– and sharing humor and affection.

Communication

Every person needs to know they are part of a whole. No one wants to feel alone. Elijah was becoming in low spirits when he was the only one standing up for God. Feeling alone carries its own mixture of feelings of fear and hopelessness. God assured Elijah that he was not alone.

Healthy communication is key in the process of having the sense of belonging– it helps us to feel connected to one another by exchanging information. Healthy communication also helps us with problem solving and conflict resolution in constructive ways.

Quality Time

Typically our best memories are from simple quality time spent with our family and friends– time that did not require a bunch of money or some form of elaborate plans.

Solomon warns us in Ecclesiastes that the energy, time, and talents that we extend to things that are not of God’s will is a waste of time. Members of strong families spend a lot of time together playing, talking, laughing, having fun, and just hanging out. We need large quantities of good and healthy quality time together for families to flourish.

Our time is in high demand, which is what makes the quality time together such a precious gift.

Coping with Stress and Crises

People who are part of strong families are not exempt from stress or crises– they face the same daily challenges and frustrations as everyone else. The difference is that those in strong families call upon their commitment to one another and their communication abilities to resolve the issue. They manage to find good in the situation regardless if the only good they see is having each other. They rely heavily on their faith in God through times of difficulty.

Spiritual Well-Being

The importance of having a spiritual center in God cannot be stressed enough. Strong families rely upon the power above and beyond themselves– it is the glue that keeps them strong and holds them together. Jesus talks about how important it is to have a foundation in Christ.

Matthew 7:24-15

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

Spiritual foundations give meaning and purpose to our lives– giving us freedom from fear, guilt, anxiety, and low self-esteem– as well as giving us hope, encouragement, and a confident outlook on life.

Spiritual foundations are the basis of all the guidelines we follow for daily living. Honesty, forgiveness, patience, kindness, and helping others. Families that have strong spiritual well-being know that God is there watching, guiding, and helping them every step of the way. They know they can turn to God at any time for help. (James 1:5)

When people believe in these basic truths and abide in God’s Word– they know their life has direction and with God’s help, they can know what is right and wrong. They have found value in putting God’s Word into practice.

James 1:22 tells us that we are called to ‘be doers of the Word, and not only hearers’

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for this message. Open our hearts and minds to hear your Word and your direction. Thank you for giving us the tools to build strong foundations that no storm can destroy. Forgive me for not seeking Your word and direction in my life and for my family from the beginning. Restore the relationships that have been affected by my lack of faith and willingness to stand upon your truth. Help me to grow in the six characteristics for strong families. God, we need your guidance and direction to know how to guide our children in the right direction– passing along Your foundational truths to building strong families. It is in Jesus name I pray.

Amen

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Daily Devo- Jesus Teaches Us to Pray

23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.

Matthew 14:23 NKJV

Jesus is the ultimate example of the importance of prayer. Jesus prayed in public and in private. He prayed with and for the disciples- He openly prayed for others. Jesus commanded prayer- encouraged prayer- taught prayer- and modeled a healthy prayer life.

During Jesus’ life he often left his disciples and stepped away from His ministry to have alone time in prayer.

Jesus revealed that prayer is much more than request-making or seeking guidance. He teaches us that prayer also drives us for the following-

  • for worship
  • for expressions of praise
  • for a way to show adoration of Him
  • for confession
  • for thanksgiving to God.

In Luke 11:1-4 when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray- He gave the example of what we call ‘The Lords Prayer”.

Prayer was not just a lengthy word exercise for Jesus, it was a connection and the way to communicate with God. Jesus would pour his heart and soul into His prayers. It was a time of great expression from His spirit. An intense intimacy with God that does not just form overnight. Jesus spent years praying, seeking, and spending time with God to reach the kind of intimacy that His disciples observed in Jesus while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:36-46)

Luke 24:13-32 tells the story of two disciples that walked with Jesus on the day of His resurrection from just outside of Jerusalem to Emmaus. The gospel reveals that they walked and talked with Jesus for several hours but they did not know it was Him.

When mealtime came Jesus prayed over the bread and than broke it- this is when the disciples eyes were opened and they knew it was Him.

Notice that it was something to do with the characteristics of Jesus’ prayer that confirmed to the disciples that it was Him that they had spent all that time with on their journey to Emmaus.

Prayer was the center of Jesus’ life. The Bible is full of examples on different ways and reasons that Jesus prayed.

If Jesus needed alone time in prayer and He is God’s son- how much more do you think that we need prayer to be the center of our life?

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for the power of prayer and for giving us Jesus as the ultimate example. Lord forgive us for not coming to you more in prayer. Open our hearts and eyes to the necessity of pray and fill us with the desire to be more intimate with you. Remind us God that prayer helps us to build a relationship with you. I pray that Your message on Jesus’ prayer life is made clear to each person who reads this. Thank you Lord for Your patience and forgiveness in Jesus mighty name I pray.

Amen


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Daily Devo: Self-Worth

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:29-31 NKJV

This parable illustrates a few different characteristics of God. In the scripture it talks about how sparrows are sold cheap and God protects them and keeps them safe within His will. This shows that God cares and loves each and every one of us.

It further explains that God knows the amount of hairs on our head. This may seem trivial or like ‘small potatoes’ in the big picture. However, it shows God’s great power and knowledge. God knows every hair on our head but He also knows every want, need, desire, fear, worry, etc. and He cares for each of them in our lives.

Scripture also explains that we are far more valuable than the sparrows. So if God is interested in protecting and caring for the sparrows and we are more valuable then they- than we should have peace in knowing God cares and finds us valuable no matter what our circumstances may look like.

In God’s eyes we are worth more than gold. Do not let what others think or say about you determine your self-worth.

Your worth was determined upon conception.

God says you are worthy- You are loved- You are protected under His wings

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for being a Father who loves, care, and protects His children. Thank you for showing me in Your word that I am more valuable than gold in Your eyes. God forgive me for believing what the world says is my worth. God help me to remember every day that I am Yours and that I find my worth in You alone. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen

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Daily Devo- Take A Stand

Always stand up for what is right and good, even if you feel like you stand alone! Now is the time for people all around the world to be taking a stand. Too many people live their life ‘on the fence’ so to speak. Trying to float through life in a neutral- uncontroversial way- being easily swayed back and forth between two opinion’s: truth and deception.

On one side of the fence: the world- on the other- God’s kingdom.

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

1 John 5:19 NKJV

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

1 John 2:15-16 NKJV

God’s kingdom representing truth, love, patience, faithfulness, meekness, kindness, self-control, etc. The world’s side represents the skewed views of truth and morality- confusing what is right and wrong and misleading people down a destructive path. It is full of deceit, violence, hatred, strife, pride, greed, anger, etc.

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Colossians 3:12-17 NKJV

During a time where emotions are high and our nation is divided more than ever- we need to be the light in an otherwise dark world.

The biggest problem non-believers have with Christians is they say we are hypocrites.

This is because we aren’t deciding where we stand and choosing to take the stand regardless of what others think or feel. We are saying one thing and doing the opposite. When they look at us on the outside and see we are no different than others in the world, we are hurting the image of God.

This doesn’t mean we have to walk through life being over the top religious. God calls us to be who we are- in Him. Remember, it’s about the relationship with God not organized religion. However, we also can’t go through life ‘willy-nilly’ doing whatever we like without any regard of the consequences to our actions.

Often times we are the only example some non-believers ever see of God- we are to be living in God’s kingdom at all times. Once we have made the choice to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior- we are in God and His holy spirit dwells within us. We are new creatures and the world should be able to see there is a difference in us. We are no longer of this world.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

There are many controversial subjects going on around the world today, in which the media and government have tried to skew as acceptable and right. Things that are clearly spelled out in the Bible as wrong, unrighteous, and some even as an abomination to Him.

We need to remember that the truth is in Him. God is truth. We do not follow the beliefs of the government or anyone else for that matter- except God.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6 NKJV

The whole justice and moral measurement system originated from the Bible and what God has laid out as right and wrong. It seems as if the world has forgotten about God and our moral compass. Now the world is running on personal feelings- which is causing the nation to fall deeper into sin and further away from God.

I have found myself treading lightly around some of today’s controversial topics- in order to ensure I didn’t offend anyone. However, I don’t believe this is what God wants from us.

The more I studied and prayed for our nation the more I realized how God had to be feeling when He sees our nation falling into the traps of Satan and quickly self-destructing.

We have to be very careful as to what we grasp on to as truth and allow into our life and to guide our moral compass.

I believe that God is telling us today to PICK A SIDE!

It’s time to get off the fence and take a stand for what is right and good in the eyes of the Lord. In a time like this- we are the voice for God. We can not stand by and allow the world to fall at the hands of deceit.

If we know something is wrong- yet the world is telling us that it’s okay and acceptable-we must remember we are NOT of this world. We are set apart and made new in His image.

This does not mean we have to be rude or make a big scene when in a situation that is clearly against what the Bible says and what God approves of. But we also do not have to participate or entertain the idea(s) that is of a sinful nature.

As Christians we are the example of what God does for a person’s life and how living with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, truly sets us apart from the world. If those around us can’t see a difference in us- we are doing the Holy Spirit a huge injustice.

We stand up for our kids when we feel like the school teacher has done them wrong
We stand up for friends and family when others speak against them
We stand up for the injustice in the wake of police brutality
We stand up against anyone or anything that threatens our well being
But, why do we not stand up for God and His truth?

TODAY IS THE DAY TO STAND UP!

Well what if I offend someone?, you may be thinking. Well, that’s just too bad. As long as you are taking a stand from a place of love, peace, and God’s defense- speaking with respect and gentleness- You have no reason to fear any thing. God is with you.

Besides, do you not think God is offended by our lack of standing up for what’s right- offended by the behavior and actions of those who are misconstruing the truth. I am sure He is- But He is a forgiving and merciful God if we repent from our sinful ways.

I ask you today, is there something that comes to mind that you have been on the fence about? Something you know is wrong- but you have been justifying why you are not taking a stand and picking a side about it?

Are you standing in a lukewarm position- neither hot or cold in your relationship with God?

And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.

1 Kings 18:21 NKJV

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

Matthew 12:30 NKJV

15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth

Revelation 3:15-16 NKJV

In the above scriptures you can see we are better off to be hot or cold but not lukewarm. This is why I am urging you all today to take a stand- get off the fence- and defend what we know is proven to be good and right with God.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being a merciful and forgiving a God. A God that is never changing- always near- and loves abundantly. Lord, we thank you for this message to take a stand. I confess and ask You to forgive me for straddling the fence in particular areas of my life. I pray that you would open the eyes of each person’s heart- let them see You- Your truth- and feel Your presence among them. I pray that You would expose to each of us any area of our life that we are straddling the fence on- give us the wisdom and clarity to take a stand in and for God’s Kingdom. Lord I pray that You would fill each of us with confidence and boldness in the Holy Spirit. Draw near to each one of us- give us discernment to know what is truth and what is deceit from the world. I pray through the help of the Holy Spirit I am able to be a light for You- a beacon of hope and truth in the dark world around us. I pray that we would learn to stand up and step out in faith- knowing we are not of this world in Jesus mighty name I pray.

Amen

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Invest in your eternity: Make the dash count

The day my life changed and I truly started enjoying life, was when I realized that I was NOT living a life that counted. I woke up each day just to go through the motions. I was not enjoying my life, in fact I didn’t even like my life. I was miserable. I lived to please everyone besides God and myself. I did this for years! Not just with family but significant others and friends too! Everyone and everything came before God and my own well being. This led to being used, abused, and all around taken advantage of. I was a people pleaser and lived for the acceptance and love of others.

I felt as if my value came from others as if pleasing them was the only way I was “happy” with myself. After years of disappoinment, hurt, and the feeling of utter failure, I began to accept that some people will NEVER be pleased. My value and worth does not come from them but from God. He created us each differently with a purpose and plan in mind. We are all wonderfully and perfectly made with our own gifts, trials, and triumphs!

Just as we have a birth certificate we also will have a death certificate. On our headstone there will be a birthdate and a death date along with a little dash in between- the dash is what it is all about. The dash represents the life you lived while on Earth, the dash is what people remember about you and your life, and most importantly what God holds you accountable for.

Romans 14:12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

Life is but a mist, a fast runner, a breath, a wisp of smoke, a shadow, here today gone tomorrow — these are all metaphors used to describe life in the Bible. Think about that for a minute, let it really sink in, our days are numbered and our time on Earth is limited. We have to understand and accept that some day we are going to die and it’s the choices and life we live during our time here that counts.

Knowing and accepting our time here is limited causes us to examine and alter what our actual priorites are. Knowing the end of something is coming, changes how we approach what is happening in the present. In a way we are all terminal once we are born but if we choose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we have eternal life- not here on Earth- but in Heaven. Now that is something to be excited about!

We need to be thinking more about eternity now- I mean afterall we will spend more time there then our short lived life here on Earth. Our residency on Earth is temporary- what happens after we die is eternal.

1 Peter 1:17- If you address as Father, the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in [reverent] fear [of Him] and with profound respect for Him throughout the time of your stay on earth.

Things in this world are temporary and can never truly fulfill us. A realtionship with Jesus will, you will find peace beyond understanding, find joy in each day, and learn to love the life you live as you fulfill your purpose. Celebrate each day as the gift it is from God. Wake up believing it is imporant to live today and that there will never be another day like today.

Being “full of the world” is where waking up stressed out, overwhelmed, worried, and full of anxiety comes from. Because we are human- we often try to control cirumtances that are out of our control. We should be handing over each need, worry, and situation to God.

As we begin to invest our time into forming a realtionship with God, we will begin to feel and see the changes in our life. God isn’t in the business of knocking you out and waking you up changed. As if it were some surgery being performed. He is more the- here is the anestisia- enough to get you through but you are still awake and aware of what is happening. In fact, it is a process that you have to continually agree to as if you are “signing off” as you go. Everything in life is based on the freedom of choice.

We should be living a life with a sense of urgency. The word someday is so damaging as it robs us of today. Someday I will go to church. Someday I will finish school. Someday I will chase that dream. Why not today? We should have a set of priorities that help us stay on track and know where to properly invest our time. We need not live in a “frantic life” but one that is properly prioritized to ensure a happy, healthy, and eternally beneficial. We often hear the phrase Invest in your future- I encourage you to think deeper and invest in your eternity.

Your enemy- the devil- may know he can’t make you do “bad things” but he can make you “busy” with a set of mixed up priorities and a “someday” attitude. Causing you to be too busy to think about eternity.

I ask you today are you living a life you love? A purposeful, joyful, fulfilling life- one that you will be proud to stand before our Lord and Savior and take accountability for? Are you making your time on Earth count?

We are not designed or intended to live in shame, worry, anxiety, or fear. I encourage you to evaulate your priorities and make time for a realtionship with God. Seek Him above all things, look to Him for direction, wisdom, and clarity, ask God to provide your needs and desires. Find your purpose and make “the dash” of life count!

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.