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July 26, 2017

The Voice of the Heart

Written by Remaliah Evans

Silence is powerful. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent and discerning if they hold their tongue (Proverbs 17:28 NIV). Learning to be quiet has kept me from much outside turmoil, however verbal silence does not always address the heart issues within. Holding our tongue is a first step toward maturity, not the end result. The mouth reveals the heart. As Jesus said, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. What we say out loud and the inner dialogue we have with ourselves reveals our heart.

There are times when words escape my mouth, and I immediately wish I could take them back. I can’t.  Instead of focusing on the misspoken words, I make a choice to look at my heart.  I don’t always like what I see there, but that praise God that I am being transformed by Him everyday. As we take them time to look at our heart, God is faithful to reveal the areas in that need softening and healing.

King David gives us an excellent prayer regarding our heart. In Psalms 51:10 he prays “create in me a clean heart, Oh God and renew a right spirit within me.” That is a powerful prayer. David was well acquainted with sin and sin’s consequences, and he was crying out to God for help. We are to rely on God, His word, and the power of the Holy Spirit. It can be easy get offended or stay offended when we are not seeking God daily. Yet, it amazes me that when we do seek God daily, the offense still comes, however it is abundantly easier to forgive and walk in love.

When we fail we must choose get up and forgive as Jesus has so faithfully forgiven us.  I am an over thinker and anger seems to be the only emotion I know at times. So when I’m offended I can overthink the situation and then just sit there and get angrier and angrier all by myself unless I go to God, choose to forgive, and repent for my unforgiveness. We are deceived if we think unforgiveness and resentment is hidden deep within; the roots might be deep but the fruit is usually on our lips. I don’t ever want to hurt someone or displease God in what I say, so I am constantly forgiving, making the choice not be offended, and then asking God to create a clean heart within me.

The treasure in this process is experiencing God’s great love for us. He reminds me to pray when someone offends me and when I’m complaining to Him about the offense. Do you know how hard it is stay angry with someone you’re praying for? It’s virtually impossible because as the Holy Spirit leads us, we learn to pray God’s goodness and promises for them. When I have tried to villainize someone in my mind, the Lord is quick show me my part in the problem, and also remind me of the goodness within that other person.  I often ask God to allow me to see people how He sees them, because God always sees someone who is worth dying for.

Beyond wanting a clean heart so that I can please God, I also want a clean heart so that my vision is clear. When my heart is dirty, my vision is blurry, meaning I see and I hear everything incorrectly. If I’m already offended then it doesn’t take much for something else to offend me. If I am holding on to sin, shame, and rejection then it’s hard for me hear God speak and it’s hard to receive correction or apply wisdom because I’m distracted and hiding.  Like the prodigal Son, we can always repent and pray because God is with us.

In Psalms 139:7-8 David says,  “where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” It seems David has come to the end of himself and realized that he can’t run from God; that’s a lesson in itself. In this verse we find that God is faithful to stay with us even when we are stubborn in our hearts. That said, this verse is not a license to stay stubborn and rebellious. The Lord is faithful to keep calling us that He may restore us into right relationship with Him.

As we mature in Christ, our goal is to write His word on heart so that we do not sin against Him. Our heart can be so filled with the word of God that we sound like our Father, we know exactly what His voice sounds like, and we know what is on His heart.

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July 13, 2017

The Power of Words

I never realized how much negative words could affect my life. I would use words like “now you know that was so stupid, I can never get anything right.” I would hear words like this growing up: “You will never amount to anything,” “You will probably be a tomboy when you grow up.”  As I grew older, I noticed that the negative words spoken over my life had an adverse bad effect on my life in as a teen and as an adult. I felt like a failure because I did not achieve certain award and accomplishments in high school- all because of the words that I had spoken over my life and because of the words that I allowed others to speak over my life.
Then I received Jesus as my Savior and Lord, and I found out that life and death are in the power of the tongue. I started thinking about the words before I would release them out of my mouth. I also watched the words that I would speak to my son. I never called him stupid. Instead, I would use words to encourage him and build him up. The words we speak to and over our children are life-changing. Build and encourage your kids each day.
My granddaughter came over to spend the weekend with me, and she shared that her teacher said that she was a slow learner. I had her repeat Romans 8:37 and Philippians 4:13 which states that she is more than a conquer and that she can do all things through Christ that gives her strength. She put this BIG smile on her face and gave me a BIG hug, and she said, “thank you granny I am not slow I am a winner, and I can do all things through Christ that gives me the strength to accomplish all of my goals.” I let her know that she is beautiful and wonderfully made as well according to scriptures.
Let us start speaking words of life into our lives and not words of death. Proverbs 18:21 ESV: Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Ephesians 4:29:  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Proverbs 15:1: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up.
Sometimes the way we answer someone can be very severe.  Proverbs 21:23 ESV says Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. Now that is a hard one because I can be very opinionated at times, but I am learning.  The word of God has much to say regarding words. So let’s study and become DOER’s of God’s word and not hearers only deceiving ourselves (James 1:22).
Words that I have spoken in the past have gotten me in a world of trouble. Now I use wisdom and discernment, and I try my best to think before I speak, and this saves me from unnecessary predicaments. Proverbs 21:23: Whoever guards his mouth and tongue, keeps his soul from troubles.
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June 15, 2017

Who’s Your Hero?

Written by Judy Smith

My family and I were watching a movie together at home with my great grandson. During the movie the hero stole a police car, rammed it into a building, and set fire to the building in order to smoke out the men inside. He then illegally bugged a room, held a receptionist against her will, and hacked into a computer system. Despite this laundry list of crime and mayhem he was deemed the hero of the story.

My grandson and his wife began discussing the trend toward bad boy heroes. “Where are the heroes with values that children should pay attention to?” they asked. My great grandson loves Jesus and understands the importance of honesty and integrity. However these law-breaking “heroes” really grab his attention.

Many of today’s heroes aren’t merely flawed, they have a dark side. They have angry streaks, and use illegal and immoral means to win the day in the name of their cause. Even some of the heroes of the faith in the Bible had moments of moral failure, and poor judgment. When we set our hero standard by anyone but Jesus, we risk forming an inadequate definition of a hero.

Jesus always spoke truth. He sacrificed everything for those He loves. Jesus is our protector, conqueror, and has flawless character. Revelation 17:14 “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

As I continued discussing heroes with my great grandson I shared with him that one of my heroes is Corrie ten Boom. She and her sister Betsy were prisoners in a concentration camp because they had hidden Jews in their home. When Corrie first arrived to the concentration camp she told her sister Betsy that she could not bear the lice that lived in their filthy blankets and mattress. Betsy replied, “thank God for everything, even the lice.

It turns out that because of the lice, the officers and guards kept their distance, allowing Corrie and Betsy to hold bible studies without fear. Eventually Corrie made it out of the concentration camp. God can turn our problem into a blessing. I had the privilege of meeting Corrie ten Boom before she passed at a church in Lynwood California. I was a new Christian and she was the first Christian hero that I admired. Who are your heroes?

Thank the Lord for His beautiful example and all of the others that He brings into your life. He is faithful to bring you those that will uplift you, encourage you, and keep pointing you back to Him. Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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June 3, 2017

Crippled At The Table

Written by Kelly Elders

Have you ever felt so inadequate? You have all these dreams and goals yet there is this inadequacy that you struggle to develop? You’ve read, listened and tried your best to develop this area yet it’s still a struggle. What if you weren’t meant to be great at everything but at one thing? Would you need God if you were great in everything? Would you need others if you could do it all?

Maybe it’s your heart that seems so crippled with fear, worry, stress or depression? Does your heart struggle to forgive, move forward or love those who wrong you? You find yourself trying yet struggling with insecurities and every time you are inspired you can only see all of your flaws.

God invites all of us to the table, the weary, the hurting, the gifted, the inadequate, the fearful, the depressed, wherever you find yourself today. He invites us to sit and to be covered at his table. When we sit at His table He covers all of our faults, fears and yes even sin. We come imperfect before a perfect God because Jesus is our covering.

2 Samuel 9:7-10

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”

Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family.10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.”

HE WAS INVITED WITH NO COVER CHARGE

Just as Mephibosheth never earned his place at the table. He only humbly bowed before David. He shouldn’t even have been left alive according to tradition but he remained. Most wouldn’t have considered him a threat, courageous or even worthy yet David the king invited him to eat with him every day. No matter your area of struggle you are invited by the King to take part in all He has to offer. It’s not a matter of accepting sin or weaknesses but to know that we are no longer defined by them. Where we are weak He is strong.

The table is a place of freedom, provision and acceptance. We need to make time to sit with Him and there He will give us all we need. He has prepared a place for each of us to sit but it is our responsibility to come to His table.

The Parable of the Banquet Luke 14:21

21The servant returned and reported all this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’

WHERE YOU LACK GOD LINKS

Where do you feel crippled? What area in your life makes you feel inadequate? Maybe you are really creative and have an idea to sell your items but have no business skills and you never move forward with the possibilities. Ask God to link you to the right people. We are connected for a reason and purpose. Some of the best pastors and leaders lead well not because they can do everything but are connected with people who can. The leader doesn’t have to be the most gifted or even the most talented as long as they connect themselves with those who are gifted in the areas they lack. It was God himself that said it was not good for man to be alone. We are better together than any one of us alone.

Mephibosheth didn’t have the ability to work the field or even the capacity but David connected him to those who did. He enjoyed the benefits while someone else had the ability. I believe we are being connected to the right people which will bring us into our purpose and rightful position.

Your name is on the invite but will you take time to sit with Him today? Ask God to link you to those you need and those who need you!

For more from Kelly Elders, please visit KellyElders.com

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May 18, 2017

A Woman Who Builds

 Written by Kelly Elders

Women Who Build Themselves

Jude 20-21 But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!

When you know you are accepted and loved then you will be able to love and be accepting of others. So many times when we are rejected or mistreated we think its about us but the truth is, its more about the other person. We need to resolve that we are loved and accepted by the One who really matters! Build yourselves strong in His Holy Spirit and no one will be able to tear it down.

Colossians 3:12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

There are some things we never leave home without like our underwear! I can only hope. He is telling us to make Love the “must have” in our wardrobe. The Love hat is the first thing we put on in the morning before we put on mom hat, business hat, work hat, ministry hat or anything other hat. Put on love and wear it well!

Women Who Build One Another

When I think of success in ministry, it is when others find success. Ministry is about others not ourselves. If you aren’t lifting others and moving them forward are you really doing ministry? We need to be cheering others on and forward. We don’t have time to compete, compare or criticize. Understand, your destiny has your name written on it and no one else can replace you. It was created and designed with you in mind. What God gives you, no one can take from you and what God takes from you, let it go. Insecurities will keep you from propelling others forward and in turn limits God’s ability to use you.

Women Who Build The Kingdom 

There are two types of builders. First, you have the Demo Builder. She has a hammer in one hand and a sledge hammer in the other. She designs and builds and it looks like its coming along very well but soon she is frustrated and begins using the sledge hammer to tear down all she has built. Sometimes it’s because what she has began to build doesn’t seem enough, she second guesses herself, or someone begins to criticize what she is building. If that person was building they wouldn’t have time to criticize what you are building. So its a constant starting over to either please others or impress others. God isn’t looking for cookie cutter homes but for a custom built home that no one else can build.

1 Chronicles 7:20-27 Descendants of Ephraim

20 The descendants of Ephraim were Shuthelah, Bered, Tahath, Eleadah, Tahath,21 Zabad, Shuthelah, Ezer, and Elead. These two were killed trying to steal livestock from the local farmers near Gath. 22 Their father, Ephraim, mourned for them a long time, and his relatives came to comfort him. 23 Afterward Ephraim slept with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Ephraim named him Beriah because of the tragedy his family had suffered. 24 He had a daughter named Sheerah. She built the towns of Lower and Upper Beth-horon and Uzzen-sheerah.

Next, you have the Bold Builder, Sheerah. When her father, who was Joseph’s son, lost his sons he was so defeated. His sons were thieves and taking what didn’t belong to them. They were trying to succeed by taking from others and they lost their lives in the process.

Through all the grief of Ephraim you never read that he clung to his daughter or even looked to her ability but the chronicler mentions her name in the middle of a genealogy in which most of the women are never recorded. It contains fathers and sons yet we get this small and brief mention of a woman who dared to build! God will always make your story read by someone.

She was the granddaughter of Joseph who knew something about overseeing a city. Building was in her DNA! Sheerah had a vision and a dream and was able to build 3 cities. Can you imagine, during the time when women were not empowered and she builds not one but 3 cities! What could we build if we had a vision? She may have not had the cheering from her family but apparently she had a vision others believed and helped her bring to pass. She must have orchestrated contractors, mason workers and others to do the work. They trusted her ability to see a city that did not yet exist.

It says she built in the low and high place. No matter what situation you find yourself today high or low, choose to build. She built a city in the Lower Beth-Horon, a low place. You can build in a low place. Candice Lightner who lost her daughter due to a drunk driver chose to build in a low place. She developed MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, which helped bring awareness and change laws. She knew how to build in the low place.

Maybe today you are in a high place of position and influence, build! Use your place to build. Sheerah built Upper Beth-Horon, a high place. Every First Lady of the U.S. uses their position to make a difference whether in human rights, education or equal rights. Many have paved the way women enjoy today. If you are in a high place do as Esther did, use your influence to build. She saved the people of God just by using her influence with the king. She was born for this cause to save much people alive. You were born to build!

All you need is a vision, a will to do and love and nothing can stop you from building that dream, that child, that marriage or the kingdom! There is a Builder within us all.

For more from Kelly Elders, please visit KellyElders.com

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May 11, 2017

Brighter and Brighter

Four years ago I lost my Mom. On the day she died I remember thinking, “who’s gonna pray for me now?” I know that’s an extremely selfish thought, but it’s the truth.

My Mom and I fought regularly. Still, she prayed for me relentlessly. There is nothing like the power of a praying Mom, a Mom that declares the Word of God over her children. James 5:16 NLT reads the earnest prayers of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Praying parents emulate Jesus because Jesus lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). There is power in prayer and in the promises of God.

I experienced the power of His promises even as I grieved. We grieve when we lose someone we love, and we grieve when we lose something that we love such a job or exciting opportunity. Even so, grieving eventually ends because we have the promises of God. Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us that there is a time to mourn and time to dance, and God promises to heal the brokenhearted and bind up our wounds (Psalms 147:3). Jesus promises that we have the Holy Spirit as our Comforter, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, and Strengthener (John 14:26 AMP), and the Word promises that our path shines brighter and brighter until it reaches its full strength and glory (Proverbs 4:18 AMP).

Mourning passed as I walked through the grieving process with God, and realized that I could trust Him with my future. Mourning passed as I realized I could trust Him to heal my heart and wounds. He was and is my Comforter and Ever-Present Help even when the pain felt unbearable and never-ending. As I grieved I felt pain like I’ve never felt before and my mind was nearly consumed with crazy-making thoughts because I just wanted to make the pain end. For the first time in my life I could understand how mental breakdowns occur.

Guilt, anger, and loss nearly crushed me. But God IS His Word and He flooded me with His Truth and counsel. He reminded me that I have the mind of Christ, that He loved me, and He told me to start expressing my emotions. God’s voice is unparalleled because it is absolute Truth always motivated by unconditional love. I knew that if I was not obedient I would likely lose my mind. It was challenging, yet God had already led me to a support group, surrounded me with supportive praying family and friends, and His grace secured me. Mourning passed because God promised that my path shines brighter and brighter. No matter what happens, He has already guaranteed that my future is brighter than my past. It was hard to believe that when I was grieving, however God has been beyond faithful to me.

How could my life grow brighter after death and loss? Only God can do that, and He did it for me. He placed three faithful women in my life that call me daughter. They cover me in prayer and nurture my growth. I’ve known two of them for nearly a decade, and one since I was eight years old. Last week, I remembered how I asked “who’s gonna pray for me now?”  The next day one of women told me “you are my daughter and I cover you in prayer.”

I cried when she said that she was covering me in prayer because I knew that God was answering me. Mom is not replaceable, yet God graciously provided loving people just for me ahead of time. One of the other women proudly calls me her daughter every time I see her and when she introduces me to others. It means a great deal to me because despite our quarrels, Mom was always proud of me and she believed in me. It’s not a coincidence that I still have a motherly figure in my life that is genuinely proud of me. Not because of what I do, only because I am her daughter. She was placed in my path to make it brighter.

My path is brighter than it was when Mom died because mourning has passed and I will see her in Heaven. My path is brighter because I know that God is still answering the prayers that she prayed for me. Mom always prayed for my protection and favor, and I have never had a broken bone or surgery, and I frequently enjoy favor and God-given opportunities. My path is brighter because I am growing closer to Him- my God who answers prayer, heals my heart, and keeps His promises.

Mom’s, may you be wildly celebrated and honored this Mother’s Day and always. Thank you for praying and declaring God’s promises over your children. Thank you for showing them who Jesus is and thank you for your unrelenting love. God loves you and your children. Your path, and the paths of your children will grow brighter and brighter. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you and your children all the days of your lives, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalms 23:6). Happy Mother’s Day!

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April 20, 2017

Guard Your Mind

Written by Beverly Richardson

Well, just this morning I felt like giving up on my God ordained assignment. I start thinking about every reason why I should not be on the assignment. Why God, did You choose me for this job? It is so hard, I cannot do it. I do not have time. I began thinking about how far I had to drive. I watched the daily news that said the price of gas was going to increase. I tried to think of all kinds of excuses why I wanted to quit my assignment before the assignment was complete. I had allowed these thoughts to fill my mind. Fear and worry set in, and I had no reason to be fearful or worried about anything. Then I realized that I had not spent enough time with God, in His word lately. I had to cast all of my cares on God because he cares for me.  I repented and asked God for forgiveness, and then I as able to get back on track.

We should be well aware of the various ways in which Satan works. He attacks believers when he thinks it will be to his advantage. Especially after a great experience, or right before someone is going to begin a new opportunity. He also attacks when believers are vulnerable physically or mentally, and when Satan believers when are alone. Christians, therefore, must always be on guard.  How do we guard our minds against the attacks of the enemy:

Action 1: Pray

Our first response to a spiritual attack should not be panic, but prayer. We can’t fight effectively in our own strength. But when we ask God for help and seek His power we experience victory.

Action 2:  Speak And Believe The Truth

Jesus personifies truth. In John 14:6 Jesus says I am the truth. Satan is a liar. Jesus said this about him: He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars (John 8:44). Satan’s native tongue is deceit. One of the best ways to combat his untruth is to surround ourselves, our families, and our minds with truth.

Action 3:  Choose Not To Fear

The natural reaction to a spiritual attack is first fear, then worry. If we stay in that place of panic, we forget to do the first two actions: pray and speak the truth. And if we camp in fear’s tent, we shrink back from the joy and power Jesus wants to give us in the midst of the battle. Ultimately, this comes down to a question of our trust in God. Do we believe God is bigger than our worry? Than Satan’s attack against us? Than the fears that keep us up at night? We have a choice to give into fearful thinking or surrender it to God, and trust His word.

Action 4: Let Go Of Control

When we encounter a spiritual battle, we tend to want to make everything right immediately. We want the fight to stop, so we try to fix the situation. We can’t micromanage stressful situations. We can’t orchestrate outcomes. We are not God, yet we can utilize the guidance, strategy and grace that He liberally provides.

We must always be aware of the thoughts that travel through our minds. 2 Corinthians 10:5 Cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. In Proverbs 23:7 we read For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

To stay free, we must vigilantly guard our thought life and choose to give our burdens to God.

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April 7, 2017

The Middle

I was a daring, and nearly fearless child, raised on a farm. I would pick up snakes, climb trees, and distress my Grandmother. Concerned for my safety, she went through great lengths to instill a tremendous fear in me of snakes and heights. To this day, I am still a little wary of both.  I have asked the Lord to help me overcome these fears because I know that I am strong in the power of His might, and fear is not of God according to Ephesians 6:10 and 2 Timothy 1:7.

I know God helps me overcome fear because Psalms 34:4 reads: “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” I eventually touched a snake again and even rode roller coasters. Just as God helped me with those fears, I am confident He is healing and moving me past my deep hurts and issues as I consistently pray to Him.

Everything we undertake in life has a beginning and an end, therefore we should aim to start strong and finish well. Typically, we are excited at the beginning of an opportunity such as a relationship or a new venture; and we’re also happy in the end when we can celebrate our achievements and taste the satisfaction fulfilled desires.  The middle is another story because somewhere between the beginning and the end we face our greatest challenges.

The middle is where we develop the determination necessary to overcome and grow. We learn to finish what we start, and we become increasingly grateful that we don’t have to endure alone! Whenever we find ourselves frustrated, tired, or facing the temptation to give up, we can ask God for His strength and wisdom. We can decide in our heart to take authority over every fear that attempts to creep back in when we face difficult situations.

What fears are you struggling with today? Perhaps the fear of financial security? Fear of failure? Fears concerning your children? Is the fear so intense that you are hindered from experiencing the abundant life Jesus promises to His followers? Fear stands for: False Expectations Appearing Real. What unreal expectation are you living under that is keeping you in fear?

Get in the presence of God and trust Him. Don’t be afraid for He is your strength and song. His power is unlimited! When we are completely surrendered to Him it draws His power into our needs. However, fear can block the flow of His strength into us. Concentrate on trusting Him fully.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “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.”

Start strong, continue trusting, and finish well.

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March 24, 2017

Distractions

Written by Beverly A. Richardson

I woke up this morning and it was raining outside. I grabbed my bible and my blanket, and lay on the couch to study the word. A thought came to my mind to check my Facebook page for comments, distraction #1. I then checked my Instagram, distraction #2. After checking Facebook and Instagram, I was compelled to watch the news, distraction #3, and then I started thinking about dinner so I got up to take something out of the freezer, distraction #4, and then answered the phone, distraction #5.

Before I realized it, the day was almost over and I had not given God first place in my life. I was not seeking God’s Kingdom. Matthew 6:33 states, “but seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Media, texts, work obligations, and family duties demand our attention almost every minute of every day, and lately I’ve been distracted by world issues and events in my own life.

Yet the word of God says that this world will pass away, and Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that we should keep our eyes on Him and then we will obtain peace. The Lord does not want us in a whirlwind of distraction or to lose sight of the purpose that He has for us.

I had to evaluate my relationships to determine if any of them were a distraction because we can unintentionally allow any kind of relationship to distract us from God. We need relationship with others, but if a relationship becomes more important to us than God, the relationship becomes a distraction. God calls us to love one another in 1 John 3:11 therefore love is an act of obedience to God. But we cannot forget about God in the process. We need to make sure we are giving God ample time every day.

I discovered that in order to grow in Christ, I needed to feed my spirit daily. Television, social media, and talking on the phone did not profit my life. They were distractions feeding my flesh. As John 6:63 states, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” I need the life of God’s word, daily.

I realized that I had allowed distractions to steal my time with God; I will not get that time back. Now I intentionally spend more time praying, reading the bible, meditating on His word and confessing the word over my life.

I had to ask God’s forgiveness for the times I had allowed distractions to prevent me from handling responsibility or facing difficult situations. I chose to renounce the spirit of distraction, take authority and use the keys of the kingdom to get rid of the distractions in my life. Matthew 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” I repented for allowing distractions to creep into my life and steal time from my relationship with God. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I had to ask the Holy Spirit to help me control my thought life and help me prioritize my time and schedules. Something that helped me was writing my to-do list for the following day each evening.  

It seems that distraction and procrastination are intertwined. It’s rare to find one without some trace of the other. When we procrastinate, we succumb to the distractions around us, putting off work as we choose instant gratification. The quickest way to break the procrastination? Realizing that emotions should not guide our choices. If we only do what we “feel” like doing, we miss opportunities to mature, develop, and discover purpose.  

Choosing to remain focused will limit distractions. Psalms 86:11: Teach me your way, O LORD; I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name. Colossians 3:1-2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Distractions are inevitable, however we can choose to stay focused on God and His ways. We learn to do this by studying His Word and praying for His guidance. We then apply the truth of His Word, remain mindful of the areas and ways that tend to become distractions, and make the decision to faithfully manage our time. It’s not always easy, but we have God’s help.

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March 16, 2017

Everyday Irritations

Written by Lawanda Martinez

What has you inflamed and irritated? Is your mind racing? Do you feel as if you’re banging your head against a wall or do you just plain have a headache? Are you frantic with fear, panicking in an attempt to escape? Are you longing for relief? Psalms 23 could contain the very remedy that you’re searching for. Psalm 23 is generally narrated during times of death and grief, and often recited at funerals. Yet that depiction is only one facet of the Psalm. Think about the signature Life Builder bracelet that all first time guests receive. This bracelet reflects a great deal of light because it is multifaceted. The 23rd Psalm has many facets. One of the facets in the illustration of how the good shepherd cares for his sheep may be the very remedy that beautifully reflects the light needed to calm irritations.  David was a good shepherd who paid careful attention to his sheep. He noticed when his sheep were troubled. Sheep are especially bothered by nasal flies. These little flies buzz around the sheep’s head, attempting to lay eggs on the sheep’s nose. If the eggs hatch it will form a worm-like larvae. The larvae worm then works its way up the nasal passages into the sheep’s head, creating intense irritation and inflammation.

To relieve these agonizing irritations, sheep deliberately beat their heads against trees or anything nearby. They will rub their head in the muddy soil and smack their head against wood. In extreme cases of intense infestation, a sheep may even kill itself. Advanced stages of nasal fly infection can even lead to blindness. When nose flies hover around the flock, some of the sheep become frantic with fear and panic in their attempt to escape their tormentors. As a result, those fearful sheep create a disturbance amongst the flock. There are times we may respond to irritations in the same way. Maybe it started with being nosy, getting in other people’s business. It could have been a situation that overwhelmed you with fear and anxiety. Maybe you continued focusing on the negativity in your life and a larvae worm was formed. You may have tried many ways to get relief like the sheep, but only found yourself muddied and dirtied. In your fear you may have even disrupted the flock and caused them to become fearful too.

 It is a good thing that the shepherd knows the season when the flies are amongst the flock. This reveals another facet of this Psalm- a remedy for the irritation. During fly season the shepherd applies an antidote to the sheep’s head. He prepares a homemade oil remedy to smear over the sheep’s nose and head to protect the sheep from the nose flies. If the sheep were chaotic and frantic this oil remedy would cause the sheep to calm down and feed quietly again, in peaceful contentment. This cure could very well be what David meant when he wrote, “Thou anointest my head with oil,” as it was the only antidote to the sheep’s irritation. What are you smearing or saturating your mind with. Is it thoughts of panic, worry or fear? Is it fault-finding, judging or criticizing others? Is it lies about your identity? If that is the case, keep this in mind, we too can apply an oil antidote to our heads named Holy Spirit. Isaiah 61:1 KJV describes the Holy Spirit as oil, The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.

 The irritation can start by judging others or getting offended and irritated with people. However we should not dwell on negativity. We are to love; in fact we are commanded to love one another. One of the prescriptions and instructions that teach us how to love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:5-6 NKJV Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 If a person who causes irritation, it would be so much more beneficial to love them to life instead of judging them to death. Loving them to life empowers both of you with love.  Let us draw closer to the Good Shepherd and allow him to anoint our head with oil today. Let us abide in His peaceful contentment and rest, this way we can assemble together in peace and feed with the flock.

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