Thursday, February 28, 2019

Transformed and renewed

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." 

It's about staying focused on God. It's easy for us to get distracted by so many things, but we must use as much discipline as possible in order to meditate (reflect, ponder, think) on the things of the Lord. For those of you on the right road, stay on it and don't veer off from the positive road you're on. Keep going, because the enemy wants us to get sidetracked. It doesn't matter what comes against you. It doesn't matter what comes against me. God has our back. Yes, so we have to focus, because that's the key, right? Focus is the key to transforming our minds and continuously renewing it by reading God's word and keeping an on-going relationship with Him. Those things never get old and they are never overrated. It's about seeking His face (Matthew 6:33) and talking to Him about absolutely anything you need to talk to Him about. His door is always open to us.

The point is to stay on our A-game ok, which means being in a state of transformation and renewing for the better. It's about being better every day as much as we can, right? Renewed creations in Christ. And staying in His good, pleasing, and perfect will. It's an on-going process, but we will be able to do it, because of the God who lives in us. That's it.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

God will lead you

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
"The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people." Exodus 13:21/22

That's was what happened when the Lord lead the Israelites out of Egypt -- after the pain and bondage they were in. And God will also lead you out of any challenging situation you may be in right now. If you are in a good place today, then that's awesome. God brought you through. And ff you going through some changes, then let this be inspiration that God will give you a pillar of fire at night as He leads you and a pillar of cloud in the daylight as He guides you. That's right, He will take care of you. He will lead you. Walk in His ways and watch where He takes you. You will get to the promised land. Stay encouraged in your walk. 
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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Let's just do it

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
Are you focused on the important things God wants you to do or are you letting distractions get the best of you? Is time running out for you or are you using your time wisely? Do you know the time is now to do what the Lord told us to do? Let me tell you, I know all about distractions and I know all about lazy time. And I don't want anybody else to live there. I spent too much time there years ago and that was then and this is now. I'm not going back to those ho-hum days of doing nothing and being nothing. I know all about putting things off and procrastinating like it was nobody's business and I know those are not traits that help anybody. So, I'm asking these questions to you and I'm asking them for I. That's right. 

The point is, we don't know when we may run out of time, right? So let's just do it, right? Why not just do what it is we're here to do? So far, it's not too late as long as our vision still lives in our heart, God will still honor it. He still gives us the desires of our heart even when we miss opportunities. In other words, He still opens the avenues we need Him to open, but we have to get started on the vision He has for us. Psalm 37:4 says to delight ourselves in the Lord, and He will give us the desires of our heart. We just start have to take our time here seriously, because it will be a shame for our time to run out. We just have to start from where we are now, work hard, and move on to the great things the Lord has for us. When we do that, we will make it. 
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Monday, February 25, 2019

Girl in the mirror

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
I’m going to make a change for once in my life. It's going to feel real good, I'm going to make a difference, I'm going to make it right. As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat, this wind is blowing my mind. I see the kids in the street with not enough to eat. Who am I to be blind pretending not to see their needs? A summer's disregard, a broken bottle top, and one man's soul. They follow each other on the wind you know, because they got nowhere to go. That's why I want you to know, I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways and no message could have been any clearer. If you want you make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make a change.

I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love. It's time that I realize that there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan, could it be really me pretending that they're not alone? A widow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart, and a washed-out dream. They follow the pattern of the wind you see, because they got no place to be. That's why I'm starting with me. I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change. I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. You have to get it right while you've got the time, because when you close your heart, then you close your mind. I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm going to make a change. It's going to feel real good. Just lift yourself. You got to start with yourself. I’m going to make that change today. You got to move. You got to stand up, stand up, stand up, and lift yourself. You know it. You know it. Your know it. Make that change.

Those are the lyrics to Michael Jackson's song, Man in the Mirror. And those lyrics along with 2 Corinthians 5:17 are such a reminder and a conviction to me today, that I am indeed a new creation who has much work to do in my life. And I am starting with myself -- with the girl in the mirror, to make things right -- yes, to make things the way the Lord would have me to make them. I'm starting with the girl in the mirror. I'm starting to change my ways. I'm starting with the girl in the mirror. I'm making the world a better place. Today. 
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Sunday, February 24, 2019

A joyful heart


Have you ever heard that, “a joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones?” (Proverbs 17:22). 


When we have a cheerful, happy, and exuberant heart, it's like getting good medicine from God without having to down one single pill. Isn't that awesome? All we have to do is get into the presence of the Lord and just like that -- automatically, our entire countenance can change in an instant. Our spirit can be rejuvenated that quickly, like great medicine. Considering that, I rather be spiritually medicated on the Lord than anything else, wouldn't you? When we continuously develop and refine our relationship with Him, we can't help but be in better spirits and have a better and stronger heart. There can be chaos going on all around us and we can be the only one with a calm and joyous heart. That's because we know where our strength lies and when we know that we have a spirit that's alive and kicking when we are with God. It's good medicine! Then we can roll up our sleeves and get to doing the work of the Lord. That's what good medicine will do for us. 
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Saturday, February 23, 2019

"Making a Private Appointment for Public Influence": When Misfits Become Kings: Book Study Part 7 (weekly podcast episode #34)

Follow along with blog post/transcript below.

Do you know that when we make it a priority to meet with God -- to make appointments with Him -- then amazing things happen? Yes, it's true. And meeting with God means we get public rewards and public influence which can mean something different from person to person. On page 87, Casto says, he believes public reward is the power of God demonstrated through our lives. In other words, it's not how we are viewed by our family, friends, or social media -- it's how God views us. 

I just posted a quote a on my Instagram page and it says, "My whole mindset has changed. I don't even have the energy to do certain things and be around [certain] people anymore. I'm just at the point in my life where if something feels like it's draining me, or fighting with my peace of mind and happiness, I'm not dealing with it." That quote came from Trent Shelton and I'm on Trent today, because he's speaking my language. He's where I am in my life and I'm so feeling his message. You can tell he's been through some things and what I like about him is his new heart. Yes, I like his passion for helping others based on his walk.  I like that he's using his past heartache and pain to positively impact others. He didn't take his experiences and try to hide them. He's sharing part of his life with the world and he's having a major impact. His "private appointments" with God are paying off it seems, right? 

How many of us are taking advantage of our appointments with God? How many of us want our journey to help people? I'm not taking playing patty-cake here either. I'm talking real and lasting change in somebody's life based on our life -- based on our walk. How many of us are trying to hide our story? How many of us are too prideful to share our experiences and testimonies with people? Hmmmm. I'm not saying we have to get on social media and pour our hearts out like Trent and myself do. That public of a platform is not part of everybody's purpose, so I get that. What I'm saying though, is that we have to open our mouths and stop saying we are too anxious or scared or nervous to do it. When we say things like that it is our pride talking, because we are worried about how people will view us -- how they see us. So we actually make it all about us. Believe what I'm saying here, because I lived what I'm saying ok? That was me a few years ago. I was so concerned about what people would say about me and I sat around being too scared to put myself out there. That mindset doesn't honor or please God. It pleases the devil and the people in his camp -- the people who are running scared. And those can be Christians and non-Christians. So, if you're living in fear, that thinking does not come from the Lord (2 Timothy 1:7). 

If we desire to help people -- if we desire a life of public influence (which has nothing to do with numbers, by the way), we have to act. James 2:17 says that faith without works is dead and if we are influencing anybody outside of ourselves, that's public influence. We're going to have to get out of ourselves and stop worrying about things we fear that don't even exist anyway. Many of the things we convince ourselves we fear are in our minds. I had to realize that in my own life. I was scared for absolutely no reason. What a waste of time. 

On page 71, Casto says, "God never designed you to find your approval in man. He wants you to receive your approval from Him, your Creator. We live stressed and complicated misfit lives because we are living for the wrong praise. We once again, must renew our minds and find our source of strength from a secret life with God." Makes sense, right? Who are we trying to please here? Nobody's opinion of us should matter as much as God's does and when we make private appointments with Him, He gives us the power and strength to walk in boldness and confidence. It's true. I'm living that today and it comes with freedom. Yes, I feel free that I can do what I'm doing and I know I got the approval and the go-ahead from God to do it. How does that all work? Well, as I said in previous episodes of this book study -- when we make time for God He makes time for us. And He gives us a peace that transcends all understanding that we know we're on the right track. We know what we're doing and we know we are doing it for the right reason. To make an impact. And when we do that, major impact starts to happen when we operate that way. Major impact happens when we have great communication with the Creator, the Lord God. It's as simple as that. Nothing complicated. We can all do it.  

We just have to know who we are in Christ. And we have to make time -- make private appointments with God to do so. That's how we refine our purpose. That's how it works. That's how we get leverage in helping people, so we are able to do that for as long as God wants us to. Casto says on page 72, that "we must separate ourselves from those who bend to peer pressure, political correctness, and popularity. We live not for an audience of this world; we live for an audience of one, [God]." It's about weeding out the distractions, remember? It's about establishing a private meeting place with just us and God in order for public and private success to happen. We're successful when God follows us wherever we go. And as Casto says on page 90, "let us learn this principle of success; the reward in public only comes to those who make an appointment with God in secret [in private]." All of that happens when we meet with God on a continuous basis.  
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Jesus gives mercy

"Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road."

Isn't that another great testimony about God's mercy? That story comes from Mark 10:46-52 and it's encouraging for a number of reasons. Namely, that Jesus had mercy on a blind man who called out to Him and his sight was restored. And it's a story of perseverance, because the blind man didn't give up, no matter the people who were trying to silence him. In fact, He cried out to the Lord even more. Isn't it wonderful to know that no matter who is trying to shut us up, shut us out, or shut us down, God is the final authority? He is the one who will be there when all may seem lost. With faith, anything is possible for those who believe. And with faith, the Lord will have mercy on us. 
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Friday, February 22, 2019

Lady wisdom


"You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight. She’s worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary. Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition. Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete. She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight—and be blessed! With Lady Wisdom, God formed Earth; with Madame Insight, he raised Heaven."
Need I say more about Proverbs 3:13-19? It's about wisdom today everybody -- knowledge plus application. Yes, that's wisdom and Solomon, the writer of the majority of Proverbs, said when we make friends with her -- Lady Wisdom -- it's more than money in the bank. Makes sense, right? Because wisdom has long life. Wisdom has leverage. And wisdom stands the test of time. Oh yes, it can hold water and it's a sure foundation. The Word of God -- the bible, is always a great start (and finish), to gaining it. Wisdom, the very tree of life. 
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Thursday, February 21, 2019

The blessed diligent

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with transcript below.
The blessed diligent are called blessed for a reason. It's because they do not stop. They continue on even when they're tired. Yes, the Lord blesses the diligent, the active, the persistent, the laborious. Proverbs 10:4 says, "poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich." 

That verse is saying something, isn't it? And can I be real today? Thank you. Listen, we can't expect to go to the next level if we are lazy, careless, and neglectful, right? We have to take our goals and aspirations seriously. Because God made each of us unique and wonderful, so there's room for everybody to do what they were born to do. Yes, nobody else has your DNA and nobody has mine. So let's take our rightful name -- the blessed diligent. That't it. 
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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

God is at work

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with transcript below.

Isaiah 43:19 says, "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

God is working. Do you feel it? Do you sense it? Because, He's doing what only He can do -- something abundantly amazing. Something fresh. Something that needs to change for the better. Isn't that great news? I hope you're ready, because great things are coming, so continue to believe it and say it. If you believe it, you can achieve it. So, don't limit yourself by what is seen with your natural eyes. Put your unlimited faith on and trust in what God's Word says, which is so much. Remember Philippians 4:13 says 'you can do all things through Him who strengthens you.' So believe that new things are coming and better things are coming. Be strong in the Lord. Just to believe that sometimes we have to be strong in the Lord, right? And no matter how things look right now, God is still in the picture and He is doing a new thing. That's right. That means God is at work. And that's a hallelujah moment right there.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

David, the giant

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
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I've heard many people tell the story of David and the evil giant Goliath, but I've never heard anyone say that there were actually two giants in the story. One was Goliath and the other was David. Yes David. 

1 Samuel 17 tells the story of how David killed the giant punk Goliath by casting a stone that hit him in the forehead. Goliath wasn't used to anyone going up against him. He would taunt the people of God and they were all afraid of him. He was a bully that ran his mouth all the time, but David was the one who eventually shut it forever. Who would have ever thought the little ruddy David would be the one who defeated a great big giant?

Goliath was the natural giant standing at "six cubits and a span" (v 4), which meant he stood 9'6"! Yet David was the real giant and although he was naturally short compared to even regular sized men, he ran towards Goliath. He didn't run away. That's the epitome of a giant, isn't it? It's a great example of a spiritual giant, a mighty warrior, a champion, and a survivor. Goliath went up against a much bigger giant than himself and he lost. That's what happens when we put God first, which is what David did. David was a winner, because he sought the Lord in his battles. And I would imagine that you yourself are like David, because you are still standing after going against a giant like Goliath. Your giant may have been a huge mountain of problems in front of you, but you're standing in triumph, because you didn't back down either. And for that, you are a giant too. Yes you are. 
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Monday, February 18, 2019

Speak Lord

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
Do you know God talks to people everyday? The question is, do we hear what He has to tell us?

I don't know about you, but I can most definitely identify with that. I remember a time when I let life's problems and challenges drown out the voice of God. I didn't hear Him, because my focus was on other things. My concentration was on worrying about the things in life that were causing me pain. That's exactly what I did and I missed Him in so many ways. But that was then and this is now. I know that instead of running away from God, I should have been running to Him. I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn't work through any situation in my life if God wasn't a part of it. And I came to understand that I needed Him and I wanted to hear from Him. I needed Him to help me sort out some things in my life and He did just that. Isaiah 40:28:31 says:

Have you not known?Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Let those words be food for your soul as you tune into what the Lord has for your life. Be encouraged as you continue your awesome journey and conversation with the Lord. He wants to hear from you and I would bet that you want to hear from Him, as well. He will speak when we listen.
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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Shouts of joy

Psalm 126:5/6 says: “those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” And another version says: “those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.” 

Ain’t God good? That is what He wants His people to know. That you will be restored; you will be vindicated; and you will get back everything you lost and more. Yes, take heart and know He would restore you and give you glory. Just stay encouraged in Him. Because yes, He will give you more — more joy and more abundance.

Don’t lose hope; don’t give up; and don’t give in. The Lord is with you. He never left you. Remember your shouts of joy.
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Saturday, February 16, 2019

"Secret Prayers, Public Shadows": When Misfits Become Kings: Book Study Part 6 (weekly podcast episode #33)

Follow along with blog post/transcript below.

"Prayer is the door that allows God to get involved more precisely in the affairs of our lives." That quote comes from Mark Casto, author of the book, When Misfits Become Kings. It's part 6 of our on-going book study, chapter 5 titled, Secret Prayers, Public Shadows. 

Do you have a prayer life where you speak to God and He speaks to you? If so, awesome, God's shadow and power follows you. If not, well I'm here to tell you that you can have a secret (or intimate) prayer life. Secret prayers involve speaking to God and reading His Word. I'm finally getting to the point where I'm starting to know what the secret place really means in my life. I have been saved for about 20 years now and God continues to reveal Himself to me, so for me that secret place is real. And I meet God there in a way that works for me. Your secret place and its process may differ from mine, so you have to do what works for you. God is a big God, so it's all good.  

Casto says, on page 59, "the secret place is where instructions are given, wisdom is supplied, deliverance is released, healing is received, and grace is released for misfits to become the person God has created us to be. To do it in secret is to learn to walk closely with God privately so that you can unlock your full destiny publicly. It's clear here that we all need a physical place where we can meet with God and get what He has for us, right? I know where that place is for me. Where is it for you? When we want real intimacy with God our secret place can't be where anyone else is, because that would mean distractions. It has to be just us and God. That's it. So each of us needs that place we can go to when nobody else is present. How often that is depends on your relationship with God. It varies from person to person. Just know that being intimate with God often occurs during difficult "war-like" times (as was with Moses in Exodus 33:18), however, we should continue that intimacy during times of "peace." 

Speaking of secret places and a time of war, I remember a difficult time in my life when I was going through something surreal. It was though I was living a dream or more like a nightmare, yet God was with me the entire time. My prayer life was on another level during that time and my relationship with God went there too -- an entirely new level. The holy spirit was strong and if I didn't have secret/intimate prayers, my life would be much different. I thank God for the secret place and today I still meet God there. And this is the thing: when we meet God there, He meets us there, and we see His work publicly through our lives. Yes, His shadow follows us continuously. And because God is God and He will speak anywhere at anytime, we have to be disciplined enough to take advantage of that. Therefore, quiet intimate time is crucial to know how we proceed. We can't hear Him with noise and noise can be absolutely anything (social media, phones, TV, internet, family, friends). Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. Bottom line: if we want to hear from God; if we want to be used in a mighty way, then we have to make time for God. 

On page 59, Casto says, "I wonder how many settled for a mediocre misfit life, barely accomplishing the purpose for their existence, because they did not learn to find the secret place." That was me at a point in my life because I didn't take things to God as much as I should have, so of course I would often miss Him. That was a time when I didn't believe in myself as much as I do today. Case-in-point: I remember being at a conference a few years ago and I had gotten the last ticket to meet the conference headliner. I was beyond excited. I had paid $400 for that ticket and I couldn't believe I was one of 30 women who were blessed enough to get a coaching session with her. I had my business plan I wanted to run by her and I was ready. When it was time for the session, instead of asking where we were meeting, I ended up having lunch alone outside the venue, I did that instead of attending the session. I often think back to that time and I often ask myself why I didn't just walk around and ask one of the many helpers in the red shirts. I think deep down I may have been afraid of success and just didn't believe I could be a part of such a group. Ironically and this may sound crazy, that was a time when I actually thought highly of myself. Yet in retrospect I wasn't as confident as I thought I was. I was of little faith; I doubted my abilities; and that was just a few short years ago. If my secret prayers were more solid I would have walked boldly around that place until somebody told me where to go. That was another lesson for me. It was a lesson that I needed to be more resolute and steadfast in my prayer and in my faith. The secret places help us get there. Casto says on page 59, "the men and women who have shaken the world are those who found a place of solitude with God." When we know God intimately, doubt doesn't exist. Confidence does -- godly confidence.

Secret prayers, public shadows -- it's about us speaking (praying); reading God's Word and hearing what He has to say through them. John 15:7 says, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."  Casto says on page 66, "my prayer is that you will respond to the invitation to the secret place and learn to abide in Jesus and His Word, because you will be fruitful. A fruitful generation abiding in the Word will not fall away when put in public view because they are connected so deeply to the Vine." And on page 70 he says, "go into the secret place and spend time with God, because those who pray in secret will begin to see they are fit to carry public shadows" [shadows meaning God is with them]. And I say amen to that. 
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You will make it

Do you know that it doesn't matter what comes our way, we will make it? Yes, believe it, because when we know the promises the Lord God has made over our lives, we will make it. We can’t concern ourselves with nonsense, negativity, or vindictiveness. We have to stay focused on truth, positivity, and forgiveness. Jesus stood for those great things, because He was love and walked in love (1 John 4). And Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will noset you ablaze.” 

So believe that you will make it and you will, as you continue to fight for your right to do so. We have to rise, shine, and stand. Past, present, and future circumstances don’t matter. What matters is that God is in control of the things we can’t control. And when we do all we can do to stand on God’s Word, on His love, He will come through for us. We will make it.
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Friday, February 15, 2019

God remembers

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
I've come to remind you that God remembers what He promised you. He still has favor, grace and mercy for you and His promises never come back void when we believe Him at His word. He is also and always will be a forgiving God. We have to have faith that He will do what He said He would. 

And when we put all our trust in God and not the enemy (the devil, because he is a liar, a big one), God will be there forever and ever, amen. While the enemy wants to convince God's people that there's nothing for them, God is saying He still has something for you. Remember, Jeremiah 29:11? It says, "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."

God remembers us. So we can rely on Him and His word and that makes speaking over our lives easier. Proverbs 30:6 says God is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do you see yourself the way He sees you? Why not see yourself victorious? Why not visualize yourself doing that thing you always think about when you lay your head on that pillow? Yes, those magnificent things you read about others, can be you. Somebody has to do them. Why can't it be you? Why can’t it be me? It's never too late. Never. God remembers.
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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Yes, God will use you

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
I read two quotes the other day. One said, "hitting rock bottom has produced greater leaders than having an easy life" and the other said, "there are no strong people who have had an easy past." And I totally agree with both of them. 

Let me ask you this: Can you name one person in the bible who was a great leader who didn't go through anything? Can you a great leader who wasn't in the bible who didn't go through anything? I cannot. So, what does that mean? It means that if we have been through tough waters and we're willing to admit it, acknowledge it, and shame the devil, then God can indeed use us. On the flip side, if we live in denial and act as though we live a pristine life of perfection and never suffered shame, defeat, humiliation, trauma, hurt, embarrassment, loss, difficulty, pain, betrayal, confusion, etc., then God won't waste a minute on using us to connect with people. I mean comon', we haven't been through at least one of those things in our lives that has made an impact on us? That has changed us in some way that we've learned from? We haven't been through any of those things? Nothing? If we can't testify to what and how God brought us through, then we won't be able to relate to people on any deep level in which they can grow from our valley; desert, and wilderness experience. If we are so prideful that we can't tell our testimony, because it makes us uncomfortable or uneasy, then we refuse to understand what's really going on and how God's kingdom works. 

2 Timothy 1:8 says "therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord." And not only does that mean not to ashamed of God. It means not to be ashamed of what He's done for us. So here are the million-dollar questions: How are we willing to be used by God? And what are we willing to share about our lives that will set someone free? They're questions only we can answer for ourselves. Just something to ponder today.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Hope and faith

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
Today a student said something that really touched me. She said she loved the future. I never heard anybody say that, especially a teenager. I told her I thought she loved the future, because it meant she had hope and hope is a great thing to have. I told her there were many people who didn't have hope and who didn't look forward to tomorrow. And that she was looking forward to the unknown, because she knew it had great things in store for her. I can be around a person like that forever. I just love that type of energy, because it's contagious.

Hope and faith are pretty much the same thing, because alot of hope -- if that's possible -- equals a mustard seed of faith. And you know about mustard seeds. They're excessively small, but once they burst open, watch out. It's an explosion of goodness all over. Don't you just love a faithful attitude? I do. Jesus said, "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

I do believe that young student had it today. She did. She had mustard seed faith. She probably had even more than that. Like that young student today, I too, look forward to the future, because my hope and faith allows me to know it has great things in store for me too. I will continue to believe that. And if I believe it for my life, I certainly believe it for yours. 
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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

God's word works when we work it

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
I have a friend who is a backsliding Christian. Yet she continuously uses God's word over her life. She's not living the way a traditional Christian lives, but let me tell you, she believes what the bible says and she has several verses that she quotes all the time. Her life is pretty abundant too. What do you think about that?

I can tell you what I think about it and that is, God's word works when we work it. It doesn't work for just Christians, right? We see it working for non-Christians too. Now why do you think that is? Well, for starters, they believe what they speak over their lives. They believe it and they make things happen. They don't just recite scripture, pray, wait until the cows come home, sit around, and do nothing. They get out there and they do the thing. Yes, they are serious about what God says they can do and you see it in their lives. In the book, When Misfits Become Kings, author Mark Casto says, "If God spoke it, His principles work even if a heathen applied it, because it's God's Word.' (page 47). Further proof is in Isaiah 55:11, which says, "so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

Listen, God's word works when we work it. God's word doesn't work if we don't believe it or if we think manna is going to fall from the sky. We have to get moving and grooving, because let me tell you, we are more powerful with God than without Him. So why not be all we can be? Why not walk and run with the grace, favor, and mercy God gives only to His children, which we are when we call ourselves Christians, right? Why not be truly blessed, because let me say this, God is not a respecter of persons. He will bless those who bless Him and it doesn't matter what we say about it; it doesn't matter what they look like; and it doesn't matter how we think they should act. God will bless anybody regardless of how anybody feels about it and whether anybody understands it or not. He's God. We need to recognize that and start acting like we know who we are in Christ. If we don't, then we will see others getting the blessings we are supposed to get and we can't mad about it either. I'm just keeping it real. 
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Monday, February 11, 2019

Different paths

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
So I was looking at a person who posted her podcast numbers on a social media site. And I have to admit, they were very impressive. Her podcast was only published for less than 6 months and her growth was remarkable. While looking at her post I thought about my numbers and how much longer I had my podcast, but how much smaller my numbers were. And for a quick moment I began to ask God why, but it wasn't 2 seconds later -- literally -- that I stopped mid-thought and said, 'I'm happy for her podcast and I'm happy for my podcast too.' 

You see how quickly I shifted my thoughts? You see how quickly I chose to be happy for someone else? You see how quickly I could have wasted time on thinking her podcast and mine had anything to do with each other? I could have gotten in another head space that was totally ridiculous and unnecessary. Yet I refused to waste my time and if I wasn't careful I could have put unrealistic expectations on myself and on God when that wasn't what He had in mind for me. You see, what God has for me is for me at the time He has it for me. Not a moment sooner and not a moment later. I accept that and I'm moving to His beat, nobody else's. It doesn't matter how much anybody else seems to be blowing up, I'm focusing on me, myself, and I. Plus, I have no idea how things came to be with the next person. What if their foundation is shaky? We have to be careful.

I'm just doing things God's way and I love the peace of mind I have in doing it His way. I can look myself in the mirror and say all is well with my soul. And that's a big deal. So, I've come to encourage you that if anybody seems to be moving full steam ahead and you're not, take heart, God still has you covered. And He hasn't forgotten about you. We just have to be conscious of our mindsets and realize our path is different than the next person's. Consistency is key, so keep pumping out that great content and focus on your path. Philippians 4:7 says, "and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Keep trusting God, stay on your path, and you will get to where it is He's taking you. 
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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Jesus

Have you ever the story about how Jesus came to be baptized? This is how it happened:

"And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (1 John 1:19-28).

That story involved John who was chosen by God to baptize Jesus and was given a hard time by, who else? The Pharissees, the religious ones -- opposed to spiritual ones -- who judged people and who questioned everything. Yet John knew what was up and he knew who was coming, Jesus. "And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16/17).

Thank you Jesus for coming to the world and dying for us. What a sacrifice you made. We will never be able to thank you enough.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

"Public Signs that Lead to Secret Encounters": When Misfits Become Kings: Book Study Part 5 (weekly podcast episode #32)

Follow along with blog post/transcript below.

"Do you want God's hand only, or would you like to experience His face?" That quote comes from Mark Casto (page 42) in his book, When Misfits Become Kings. And in our on-going book study part 5, chapter 4 titled, "Public Signs that Lead to Secret Encounters", the chapter is about the misfits God uses who have a relationship with Him and who don't simply watch Him in action in other people's lives. No, they are the people who hear from God themselves. 

We know that having continuous communication with God enables us to know what He wants from us and to proceed accordingly, right? A godly relationship helps us to weed out the erroneous, false, misleading, and wrong statements and comments people sometimes make to us. We have to know within ourselves what 'thus says the Lord' and we have to keep it moving even if those people are people of God. We have to know the voice of the Lord for ourselves, otherwise we can get things mixed up if we're not careful. 

In this chapter, Casto is saying we must know the "public" signs of God and that happens when we have a relationship with Him. In other words, we have to know how God operates in our lives or we may miss Him. I have made that mistake a few times in my life. There was one time when I didn't rely on God as much as I should have. If someone I respected told me something from God, I would take it as gospel over even if I didn't sense it was best for my life for that time. Sometimes God doesn't give us a word to move immediately. It may be a future word. So we have to pray over it and seek more information and details from God. A short time back if a person was a prophet and gave me a word, I especially paid attention, which was fine. The problem was, their words were not always a current word for my life, but I would often move too fast and mess things up, because I didn't consult God about the details and the direction He would have me to go in my life. What I realize now is that if we want to go to where it is God is taking us, we must be able to know His voice just as Moses did when he was leading the Israelites out of Egypt. One of Moses' public sign's from God was the burning bush. What are some ways God talks to you? It's about our relationship with Him and anybody can establish one. 

Casto says on page 43, that "Despite his own view of himself as a stutterer, ex-murderer, and sheep caretaker, Moses responded to God's invitation for a personal relationship. It was out of this relationship that God caused him to rise above the excuses and failures of his misfit ideas and do mighty things in his lifetime." James 4:8 says, "Come close to God, and God will come close to you. And that's what Moses did. That's what we all can do. On page 45 Casto says, 'God wants lovers of Him, not simply laborers. We become laborers for God, because we are lovers of Him, in which lovers will always outwork laborers. Laborers work for pay, but lovers work for a relationship and a vision bigger then themselves.' I often tell my kids and my students, if they're willing to outwork the next person, because they truly believe in what they're doing and they're doing it for the right reasons, they will make it. We have to believe in what we're doing. We will never have lasting power and we will never have leverage if we do not believe and love the Lord God and at least trust where He's taking us. God is the secret weapon. He's our secret sauce. We can't do it without Him. How many of us have what we need from the Lord? We're going to need what He has for us. We will need it if we want God to do big things in our lives. In other words, we have to be willing to spend time with Him and not only on Sundays.

Speaking of Sundays, when I leave church I am eager to get to where I'm going and do things I desire. Most of us are, right? But I have to consciously make an effort to remember what my pastor talked about; how he preached the word; how the word relates to my life; and how God wants to use me. If I don't make a real attempt to do that and to really focus on the word, it was like I just sat there and got a feel-good motivational word and as soon as I get up it's over and done with. I refuse to live such a life. I attend my church for much more than that. And God expects more from us anyway, right? On page 46 Casto says, "Moses was a lover of God. Had it not been for his radical, personal encounter with the Lord through a burning bush, the stories of history would be a lot different." Moses understood what the deal was. He didn't need to yell it from the rooftops. All he needed to do was to stay in God's presence and go where God wanted him to go. And he knew by doing that, that God would be with him. He knew the real secret. How many of us know that, as well? It's something each of us has to answer for ourselves. 

As Casto says on page 46, "Wherever you are God; that's where I want to be." And that's what's up and God is seeking those of us who know His heart. Who know who He is. Who know His voice. Remember, just as Moses saw the public sign of the burning bush in Exodus 3, we too, have signs from God we can be in tune with when we have a personal relationship with Him. And when we know how God speaks in our lives, that's fire -- our very own version of our own burning bush.  
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Pray about everything

"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies."

That was Paul in Philippians 4:7-17, talking to the people to get things right and order by not worrying. And instead, praying and of course loving the Lord God in the process. That's advice for us today, isn't it? Sure is.  
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Friday, February 8, 2019

Don't stop, keep going

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
There are so many remarkable people in the bible who went through the fire, but because of their faith, they come out unscathed. They didn't give in or they didn't give up when their back was against the wall. They continued on despite any obstacle around them. Do you know, when challenges come, if we will just continue to hang in there and keep trudging along, something great is bound to happen? It may not be right away, but eventually it will happen. Hebrews 11 tells about many of those people. 

Sometimes I listen to a podcast or follow someone on social media and I love love love what they're doing. I look forward to listening to them or seeing what they're doing, because I get so much out of what the're doing or what they're saying. They're either full of wisdom, really funny, or they just have that something unique that makes them interesting and engaging to look at or listen to. They add highlights to my life. Then one day I go to find them and they are no longer producing their podcast or their social media. It's like they fell off the face of the earth and I get so disappointed. I say, 'gosh what a shame, they had something great going on; they were on to something, and they just stopped.' But I often wonder if they stopped, because they got tired, because they didn't see anything happening for so long and they just gave up. 

I think all of us in this space know what it feels like to want to stop, because the grind does get hard. There's no doubt about that, yet I wouldn't do it -- I'm not giving up, because what else would I do? I can't imagine doing anything different than what I'm doing now. I'm not stopping. I'm going to keep going no matter what. You keep going too, because there's someone out there who loves your content and loves what you're putting out there. Listen, we get alot from you so please stay with it, because you are a bright spot in someone's day. I'm telling you. And just in case you hardly hear it, I'm letting you know right now that we want you to keep going. 
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Thursday, February 7, 2019

The true light

Daily Devotional Podcast. Follow along with blog post.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”). For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." (1 John 1:1-18)

There you have it, the breathing word. In the beginning. The true light and the only light. The true word and the only word. Once you have the light and once you have the word in you, oh wow, you know what you have, right? You have power; you have strength; you have stability; you have energy; you have eternity, and the list goes on.