I attend an amazing church, World Worship Church in Charlotte, NC (you should hang out with us some time). Our Pastor, Lloyd Phillip Bustard, not only encourages us to THINK BIG about the plans God has for us, but he also encourages us to DO BIG things for God. He started a series last week on growing...Today, I had the privilege of thinking BIG about growth and writing today's blog post for our church!
Words to Live by
“At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes, says the Lord.” ~Zephaniah 3:20
Home is Where the Heart is
I’m from a small town in South Carolina, and I love (did I mention I ‘love’) my hometown. For me, home, brings a sense of familiarity, peace and confidence that has helped shape who I am today.
While I love the place I live now (and it feels more like home than it did years ago), it’s just not the small town I was raised in South Carolina.
That does not mean my current dwelling doesn’t have advantages or things to offer. It doesn’t mean I prefer to go back to live in South Carolina. It does mean when we make plans to travel home, my heart leaps with joy—because South Carolina will always have my heart.
The Bible tells us that we will be brought home. For believers, home is with our Heavenly Father, it’s a place that brings peace, confidence and trust. Home is the place in which we will receive “praise among all the peoples of the earth.” Home (our heavenly home) is where our hearts should dwell.
This world can bring frustration, confusion and temptation. And sometimes, it can seem too burdensome to bear. Don’t freight! You can go home. At home there’s peace, at home there’s joy and at home you can rebuild your confidence to face another day.
Visit home in your quiet time with Jesus today.
Visit your heavenly home through prayer today. You’ll be restored.
Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing me to visit home as often as I need. Home is a place I can always count on no matter what I face. I can always phone home! Thank you for knowing we’d need home. Thank you for thinking of every need we’ll ever have in this life. I'm grateful for your love and having the opportunity to sit back, relax and become rejuvenated at home with you. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Words to Live by
“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, not yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” ~Ecclesiastes 9:11
I have so much respect for cross country runners. I recall seeing the runners take great strides to develop their skill. They’d run early in the morning and train until late in the evenings.
I also watched those on the track team, spending the same amount of time perfecting their gifts and talents. They too, would spend countless hours strengthening their bodies and eating and drinking the right things in order to develop.
But, both groups prepared for the race.
You are running a race and in order to finish you must train. Training brings aches and pains along the way. It stretches you to do more than you’ve done before, pushes you to use muscles that maybe you didn’t know you had.
Train! Identify the places in your life that you want to grow and work out.
Maybe you want to read and study the Bible more. Pick a dedicated time and stick to reading and studying.
Perhaps you want to start a business. Choose a block of time to build the skill you lack in order to obtain the success you desire.
Don’t just admire the runners who seemingly sprint across the finish line, waving their arms in victory—train for your race and finish it!
You’re already a winner.
Determine the places you need to develop skill in order to accomplish your goals and develop a plan to build your skill.
Dear Lord, show me the places I need to grow and develop. Then God, clearly help me establish how to reach my goals. I know you’ve given me the desires in my heart, help me pace myself and run the race before me. Don’t allow me to become weary. Help me remain focus during my training season, so that I may run with liberty to the finish line. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
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Words to Live by
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” ~Pslam 126 5-6 NIV
I’m Not Crying—I’m Fertilizing
Frankly speaking, there are days in which women and men are left in tears (yes, real men cry).
Days were the weights in our world seem stacked on and far above our heads.
Days were the tipping point has tipped and the ‘what else could go wrong’ has gone.
These are the days were you sometimes find eye liquid meeting your cheeks, your neck and your shirt.
Several months ago, I had one of these days. It felt like everything that could rear its ugly head did that day. Backing into a parking space at work I found myself bawling because the weights felt too heavy to carry in that moment.
I was comforted by reading, “Those who sow in tears will reap in songs of joy.”
In this life, there will be trouble, there will be pressures and there will be days when enough is already too much, Jesus told us we’d have these experiences (John 16:33).
However, as believers, we can take heart because Jesus left us His peace.
Much like any form of vegetation, there are times in which weeds grow, resoiling has to occur and water is needed in order to sustain the life of that which is growing and planted.
When the weeds have grown around your feet, when the topsoil needs replacing, cry. Your tears are fertilizing the places you’ve sown.
No, the day may not shift in your favor immediately. Things may still feel like they are getting your best, take heart—our God is greater. Don’t see your tears as defeat—rather, see them fertilizing the soil in places you’ve sown—your song of joy is coming.
Rejoice because your song of joy is coming!
Heavenly Father, when the weights of my world are much too much to bear, hide me in your loving care. When my eyes are filled and my heart is on “E,” remind me that my tears are good for sowing. When I’m faced with trouble on every hand, remind me to trade those for peace instead. And when everything is said and done, my heart will find rest in your precious Son, Amen.
Photo Credit: emails4lovers.blogspot.com
Words to Live by
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” ~1 Corinthians 6:19b-20
I remember purchasing my first car. I was so excited because it was a car I’d wanted for a very, very long time. Before deciding on the final purchase, I recall test driving the car, asking for a full tank of gas and a new wash and wax before I left the lot. I knew once I signed my name on the dotted line, the car belonged to me.
I was responsible for the car note, insurance, maintenance and anything else involved with the vehicle. It was mine.
Driving off the lot was so rewarding, I’d negotiated the price and gotten everything I asked for during the sale.
I took care of my car, kept the inside clean, washed the outside weekly or biweekly (depending on the weather), kept the oil changed, tires rotated, made sure not to make any spills. I loved that car.
Two years later, driving home from work, the brakes would not stop the car. Spinning across the highway while being hit from every direction, my car was totaled. But even with all the damages, it was still mine.
The same is true with our bodies. We do not belong to ourselves, we belong to God. He bought us with a price, and no matter how messed up we are, we still belong to Him.
How we treat ourselves matters to Him dearly. He did not purchase us with the blood of His only son to see us misuse or mistreat ourselves. Therefore, how you treat your body should reflect the love God has for you when He bought you.
Having sex before marriage (protected or unprotected), cursing, drinking, smoking, over use of drugs, eating unhealthy, or even over eating contaminates our body—God’s purchase.
He bought us for His glory. We cannot effectively complete the work He has for us if we mistreat or misuse His purchase. God wants all of you, even that piece that you’re trying so hard to hide behind the smile, necktie, designer purse, hairstyle (cut or doo)—He paid for you. He loves you! And much like any purchase we make, He wants what He paid for during the sale.
You see, God signed for you when death wanted victory. You were bought with a price—act like it!
Find an area in your personal life to treat God’s purchase better.
Heavenly Father, thank you for paying my debt through your son, Jesus. Because He died, I have the right to the tree of life. God, I will treat myself better today and for the rest of my life—remembering that I am bought with a price. Thank you for seeing me worth the price you paid. You didn’t make negotiations and you took me “as is.” I love you Lord and pray this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Words to Live by
“The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm…” Joel 2:24-25 NIV
The “What Ifs”
Having graduated college years ago, I feel I understand “this me” a bit more than me all those years ago.
And, admittedly, I often think…“what if I’d chosen a different major,” “what if I’d gone to a different college,” “what if I’d taken that job…” what if, what if, what if.
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking “what if” from time to time; I’m sure it happens to everyone every now and again.
While there is nothing wrong with reflection and understanding your current self a bit deeper, we cannot allow the “what if” moments to turn into our way of thinking and approaching life.
Give all your “what if” moments to God.
What if God decided not to send His Son?
What if God allowed death to have victory?
What if God had chosen not to extend deliverance or healing? What if, what if, what if…
If we reverse those “what if” moments, we may see the blessing in some of those things not going the way we planned.
If God didn’t send Jesus—epic fail!
If God allowed death to win—no point of living!
If God chose to keep deliverance and healing—Heartache City!
We could spend all day going over our “what if” moments, but despite those opportunities we feel we may have missed or overlooked at the time, God was and is in control.
And, He, being the loving Father that He is will restore the years you may feel were stolen from you or didn’t go the way you planned.
Remember, it’s all working together for your good because you love Him, and you are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
His plan is still in motion, what if you trust it, knowing “the threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. [And, you will be repaid] for the years the locusts have eaten.
Write down some things God is getting ready to restore for you!
Heavenly Father, I give all my “what if” moments to you, trusting that you are in control. Thank you for helping me to see how valuable your plan is for my life. I trust your ways above my own, in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Photo Credit: http://cynicalbabblings.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/the-no-free-lunch-principle/
Words to live by
“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” ~Jeremiah 18:1-4
I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day.
And as my fingers pressed it, still
It moved and yielded to my will.
I came again when days were past:
The bit of clay was hard at last.
The form I gave it still it bore,
And I could fashion it no more!
I took a piece of living clay,
And gently pressed it day by day,
And moulded with my power and art
A young child’s soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years had gone:
It was a man I looked upon.
He still that early impress bore,
And I could fashion it no more!
From 5th to 12th grade, I took advanced art courses called, “Art Visions.” Those courses taught me some of the intricacies of art: lead, the mixing of colors, textures, various techniques and sculpting. From sculpting, I learned that clay becomes its smoothest after hours of sculpting, water, etc. However, once the clay hardens, if the sculpture desires to change the design, he or she has to break the mold in order to restart.
God is our potter and we are the clay. When He sees us, He sees the pieces of our identity that He desires to shape, mold and change for His glory. Meaning, sometimes we will have to be broken in order for Him to start anew, and smooth out our imperfections.
However, if we fix our hearts to remember we are not in control, and make ourselves pliable to the Holy Spirit, we remain like the wet clay in the potter’s hands, we are open to being molded and shaped by God.
Being reshaped in some areas may be painful, it may even present another place that needs attention, but it’s all for God’s glory. After all, we are His designs.
Stop fighting the change. Be pliable! God has great things He wants to do in your life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for being the potter of my life. God, I ask that you shape and reshape me to your liking, for your glory. I know that your plan is better and greater than my own. I love you Lord, and trust your plan in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Words to Live by
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33
Standing, with his back facing the traffic, he dangled a sign from his right hand.
Green light! Close enough to see it, the sign read, “Homeless! Lost my job, family to support-please help.”
We have all needed something in our lives, and if a need has yet to present itself thus far, it’s more than 99.999% likely to occur throughout a lifetime.
Jesus, in John 16:33, tells us that in this life we will have trouble. We can replace the word trouble for: disappointment, setbacks, failures or heartache, BUT, we can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world—He has won.
But for some, God’s winning power cannot be accessed because they don’t know Him.
God cannot fight for you, if you have not made Him Lord over your life. He cannot fight for you if you are still trying to do everything in your own strength.
God desires to become Lord over your problems, your heart, your disappointments, frustrations and every situation you face—if you’ll have Him. His power will work for peace, love, joy, and anything else you need, but He can’t be homeless. He needs a place to dwell.
Will you allow God to dwell within you? Will you allow His sweet spirit to rest over your life? Will you make Him your choice no matter the situation?
You do not have to travel this journey alone; you don’t have to experience emptiness.
Give God a home in your heart—He will work as an everlasting food.
Give God a home in your heart.
Dear Lord, I (insert your name), confess that I am a sinner. But today, I confess with my mouth and believe in my heart that God raised you from the dead, and I graciously accept your salvation. Lord I make my heart your home today. Dwell within me Lord, that I am experience your overcoming power. Thank you for receiving me into the kingdom of God. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Words to Live by
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.” ~Romans 8:38-39 NIV
He Loves Me, He Loves Me -NOT-
Shortly after the break up, I found myself plucking the petals of a wild-flower saying, “he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not,” needless to say, no matter the verdict of the last petal—it was over. My elementary love had come and gone.
Sometimes, it can feel like the things we’ve done will cause or could cause God to love us less or not at all—the times we sinned knowing our actions went against His will. Our minds become so fixed with the sin that we shy away from forgiveness.
It is a trick of the enemy to believe God is sitting, plucking a flower, reciting, “I love him, I love him not; I love her, I love her not.”
He is too loving to become that fickle.
The bible tells us that nothing will “be able to separate us from the love of God.”
It does not matter to Him that you lied, that you had sex before you were married, a baby out wedlock, joined in on the gossip, judged or misjudged your neighbor, sped through town, yelled at your spouse, became frustrated with your boss —He still loves you. Yes, He has guidelines and His forgiveness and compassion do not give us authorization to go against His will or not attempt to do better or be better the next time around; however our mistakes and shortcomings don’t impede His love for us.
Perchance you stop plucking the flower thinking His love will change, and realize, “He loves you, He loves you”…you can scratch out the NOT!
Live forgiven, knowing He love you!
Dear Lord, thank you for reminding me that my past failures, current failures and future failures do not define your love for me. God I pray for those who are bound in their minds and hearts, believing you do not love them because they lack perfection. God, I am grateful that you allow nothing to separate us from each other. I love you Lord and I’m very aware that you love me. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Words to Live by
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and return not thither, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater.” ~Isaiah 55:9-10
Seed to the Sower
In your heart, there are passions, ideas, dreams and desires. There’s a need to do, accomplish and become.
But, do you every get the feeling that you need more in order to accomplish all the things God has called you do?
For many, when you see a need there is an inkling to help solve or sow into the situation.
During those times, there is often or can be a lack of seed. In other words, you need more time, more money, or more manpower.
God promised to give “seed to the sower.” God will not give an idea, dream or desire to help without making provision.
You may not see it right now, it may not feel that you have enough resources to do or complete the tasks God has placed in your heart, ask God for your seeds.
You are a sower, and He promised seed! You have what it takes. Declare your resources, declare that you have what you need to steward your heart’s missions.
Don’t become faint at heart. Don’t get weary in your well-doing. God has promised seed. Ask for your seeds! Ask for your resources in order to do what He has called you to do.
Ask God for your seeds! You need resources to do what He has called you to do.
Dear Lord, thank you for making me a sower and for providing seeds. I declare that I have all the resources I need in order to make your vision and plans a reality. Thank you for trusting me with tasks, thank you for endowing me with wisdom to see through your eyes. God I call forth my seeds today. I call forth every resource in the kingdom of heaven to manifest itself on earth. I give you praise and honor for providing seeds today. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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