Around this time of year, people tend to have a desire to give more. We spend Thanksgiving with families and thank God for His goodness year-round. Then we spend the latter part of the year, sharing His goodness with others; whether it be buying gifts for loved ones or giving back to someone less fortunate. Our family has chosen to focus on others during the Christmas season.
Our birthdays are fairly close to Christmas with mine in November and my husband’s birthday at the beginning of December, so we have already received out heart’s desire right before the big day. We figure that we are blessed to be a blessing to someone else during this season. And even though we have only been married for two years, each year God finds a way to show us a family that we can be a blessing to. It’s rewarding not only because we are obedient to God, but because we are graced to share in spreading hope and cheer to families who may have given up. I am reminded of John 3:16, one of the most iconic verses in the Bible, where it shows us how God gave His best to us. It reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
In this season of giving, let's remember the greatest gift of all that God gave us, his son Jesus Christ. He gave His one and only son which I am sure was pretty hard to do knowing what hardships that His son was going to have to endure in the future, but He still gave. This is best known as sacrificial giving – giving where it costs you something. We can learn from this example. Ask the Holy Spirit, what ways can you give that may cost you something or make you a little uncomfortable. I am not telling you to empty your bank account for someone; your sacrificial giving may not even include money (wow! I know shocker right). The most expensive gift that you can give someone is your time; you can never get your time back or make more time at the end of the day. Holy Spirit may lead you to give some time at your local nursing home, greeting and spending time with the elderly that don’t have family to visit them. Holy Spirit may lead you to watch your nieces and/or nephews to give your family a break for a date night. There are numerous ways that we can give sacrificially that does not involve money, so don’t believe the lie of the Enemy that may have you believing that you have nothing to give.
So, this Christmas I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone, and ask God “How can I be a blessing to someone this Christmas season?” You may be surprised at what you hear, but be obedient. Your reward is far reaching. This may turn into a tradition for you and your family and it may continue to spread out throughout the year and become a way of living.
Happy Giving and Merry Christmas!!
- Sanitra Fain
I still remember waking up at a friend's house around 4AM. It was chilly, the end of one season and the beginning of another. The date was Friday, January 29, 2016. I was relocating from Florida to Virginia. I was nervous, excited, and more numb than anything else. Who did I know in Virginia besides my husband-to-be, Jonathan? What would life be like in this new season, state, city, church... in my new life?
I got dressed. Packed up my things and hopped in the car. This friend of mine is wise, intelligent, well-lived, well-traveled, a fabulous mom and wife, and successful in her career field. During our car ride, she shared a personal challenge that she was facing. She encouraged me to know that no matter where we find ourselves in life, there will be challenges we must overcome. I cannot say the conversation was what I thought it would be yet it was everything I needed. I think I forgot to mention that this friend is more than a friend, but she is a mentor and a role model. Not too often do mentors always share their current challenges, but this time she did and it provided me this unusual sense of comfort and reassurance that I was more than ready to overcome and conquer the challenges that would come in my new life.
Fast forward one month...
The initial newness had worn off. I was still using my GPS to navigate Richmond yet was more comfortable getting out and about. I found myself unhappy and lost. I began to question God and what I thought for sure I heard Him say. It was hard to express because I was finally living in the same town as Jon but the leap was so long (literally in miles) to Virginia that I had not ever really thought about there being a period of no lights, no cameras, just action.
See, back in Florida, I was doing weekly, live tv interviews, writing for national publications, had just started a national political group, and was really getting in a nice groove. Two and half years before my move to Virginia I had moved from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, and that was rough. But I was finding my place. I had found a nice groove with my job and enjoying life. As you can imagine, my life got even better when I reconnected with Jon and we started dating. All in all, life was good, not perfect, but good.
So here I am in Virginia, with a new job, a new church home, a new state and city to learn. I found myself unhappy and missing home and my comfort zone.
I questioned God..
"Where did I miss you God?"
"God, why did you tell me to accept this job?"
"God, why was I mislead? Why did you allow me to be in such a hostile place?"
It was tough. I mean TOUGH.
Over the months to follow, I questioned, "Who is Chelsi Henry Bennett?"
And, I was led back to quiet times with Jesus.
I had to dive deep into my heart and allow God in to speak truths to me. I had to be reminded that my purpose was greater than writing for national publications. I had to be reminded that my identity was not in what I did OR who people thought I was. I was reminded identity is found by spending time with God through prayer and reading the Bible. God made it clear to me that I while I seemed hidden, He was protecting and preparing me. And, I had to trust Him through the pain, mistreatment, being lied on, talked about, and just misunderstood. I had to trust that in my new life, this new season, He had a plan and purpose for me. I had to trust He had a purpose for me there being in Virginia with no cameras or lights.
God just wanted me. He didn't want Chelsi P. Henry who was on for cameras. He didn't want Chelsi P. Henry that was constantly striving for more success. He wanted the Chelsi He knew before I was formed in my mother's womb. He wanted the Chelsi who as a teenager would fast for days and weeks to hear His voice. He wanted the Chelsi that wasn't primarily guided by advisors telling her the next best political move.
God wanted the Chelsi who just wanted to seek Him. WHEEEEEWWW!
Where do you find yourself when no one is looking, when life is super tough, when how you imagined life becomes a distant fairytale? When you are doing everything you know to be right and still aren't getting a break?
WHO ARE YOU? How do you see yourself? How does God see you?
In September, we did a 30-day campaign called, "In Christ I Am..." It was birthed from my identity search over the last few months. If you missed out, please visit our Instagram page. See, I know the things God has called me to, I just haven't seen them manifested in my life as I thought they would. I have wondered where and if I missed God?
Now, on Sunday, October 23rd, almost eight months later, my certainty is in the faithfulness of God, not myself or my current position or future position. My certainty is in the fact that my Lord and Savior had to swear by His own name because there was no greater. My certainty is in the fact that I serve the God who is Alpha and Omega. My certainty is in the fact that I KNOW all that God has done in my life and how far He has brought me and surely He will continue His work in my life (Phil 1:6).
So, while there are no lights or cameras shining in my face, there is action. While I haven't written for a while or sent a newsletter to my list, there is action. God has been doing intensive surgery on my heart, my emotions, and my dreams and goals. God has been setting up things in private for me to enjoy. God has been opening doors that truly no man can close. And, more importantly, God has entrusted me to start a young adult ministry with my husband (www.TheReturnRVA.com), pour into young women, and be able to watch the Word work miracles in their lives.
Dear friend, today I encourage you to embrace and ENJOY where God has you. There are seasons in life and where you are is not where you will always be. Yet, if you know who you are in Christ, you will be able to celebrate the blessings and stand firm in storms.
Chelsi Henry Bennett is the Founder of AlwaysPraying.com. She is a transplant to Virginia and President and CEO of The CHB Group (www.chbgrp.com). She is married to her favorite pastor, Jonathan and serves with him in ministry at The Return RVA. Follow Chelsi on social media: @chelsihbennett
Hope is the cornerstone of our faith. Without hope, we have absolutely nothing. According to Webster’s dictionary, hope is defined as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” It further defines hope as “a person or thing in which expectations are centered.” Similarly, Scripture offers us a Biblical definition of hope. According to the Hebrew and Greek translation of the word hope, it is an indication of certainty. Actually, more than an indication; it is a confident expectation. A confident expectation!!! I really like the sound of that and I like what that means. It means that when I have hope, when you have hope, it is a certainty, a confident expectation in the desired outcome. What comfort that gives me and what comfort it should give you. It is a sure certainty that what God has promised in the Word is true, He will never fail you (Romans 8:24-25).
Hebrew 11: 1 tells us that “now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” To hope is to trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something, or someone or to expect something beneficial in the future. Today, at this very moment, we all have things we hope for. Collectively, we have the hope for eternal life or as Jeremiah tells us in chapter 14 verse 22, “our hope is in you.” God is beyond worthy of our trust and of our certainty. Hope is a proper response to the promises of God (Hebrew 6:18).
What are you hoping for today?
We all pray and ask God for a host of things. According to a recent Gallup poll, unemployment is at the top of the list of concerns for people in America. Therefore, many prayers are directed towards being employment opportunities in this turbulent world economy. We must have hope that God is with us as we seek jobs. We must have hope that God will open doors that no man can close and close doors that no man can open. We must have hope in the plans and purposes God has for our lives. The certainty we walk in because of hope is certainty in the sovereignty of God.
Do you trust His plans and purposes for your life?
I share with you today, that whatever goodness you are hoping for that aligns with the Word of God, know that simply because you have hope it naturally leads to joy, boldness, faith and love and in hope we can find great comfort (Romans 5:2).
Let’s keep hoping today!
In Luke 11:1, one of the disciples petitioned, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Many people have the same plea today. Prayer appears to be something complicated, but it does not have to be. Some may think that you have to use certain phrases during your prayer time or repeat what you have heard your pastor say from the pulpit. However, God just wants to hear our heart. One definition in Merriam-Webster defines prayer as “an earnest request or wish.” For me, prayer is simply an opportunity for us to thank God for his many blessings, petition Him to intervene in our lives, and praise Him for his glory and faithfulness. My hope is to share my heart on some fundamentals as it relates to prayer. May you be edified and God glorified.
For starters, our attitude and mindset towards prayer is important. Ask yourself: Do you believe God is listening when you pray? Proverbs 15:29 clearly addresses the truth of this question. God hears the prayers of the righteous. We must remind ourselves of this truth when the enemy or other people may try to convince us that we are just “talking to the wind.” We may have to even encourage ourselves of this truth when we are facing a situation that seems impossible and baffles us. Let’s say it ALOUD: God hears the prayers of the righteous.
Now that our foundation is set on that truth, we must address our heart when entering into prayer. In Mark 11:23-25, Jesus encouraged the disciples that as long as they did not have any doubt in their heart they could pray for anything and they could receive it. Now let’s be clear, this is not an ALL ACCESS PASS to have whatever our little heart desires. One thing that I remind myself of when I pray, “How will God get the glory out of this answered prayer?” When I ask myself this question, my focus is Christ-centered and not self-centered. This is also supported in scripture when Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36). Jesus also addresses having unforgiveness in our hearts while praying. Carrying an offense against someone else in our hearts can hinder the power of God’s forgiveness in our lives. We have to lay the hurt aside and receive the love of God. Our love for people is a direct reflection of our love for God and the truth of his Word (I John 4:20-21). God desires to be in intimate relationship with each of us. See, the God of the Universe redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made sin for us. When God redeemed us that brought us into right fellowship with Him. So who are we to hold unforgiveness in our hearts to someone who may have offended us. Ultimately letting that sin go frees us to live for Christ.
Once your heart is clear of unforgiveness and open to the power of faith in God, you can begin to pray. While I cannot direct you in what exact words to say, I can help to guide you into a common structure for prayer. First, open up your prayer with thanksgiving to God for all the things He has done for you. If you have a hard time thinking of something to thank God for, just think you are alive and breathing, some people cannot say the same. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, enter his court with praise.” When you start off by thanking God for his goodness, it sets the tone of your prayer. It allows God to know that you have a grateful heart towards Him. You are also reminding yourself of the many great things that God has already done for you. Next, you can ask God for help regarding your situation. If you are praying for someone else, this is when you would ask God for wisdom regarding this person’s situation. When asking God to intervene into your situation, it may be helpful to look up scripture regarding the situation. Let’s look at an example: You may be dealing with a lot of stress at your job therefore asking God to give you peace, and to help you not to worry. One scripture that comes to mind that you can use, is Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Praying something as simple as “God give me your peace which others won’t be able to understand but I will be able to experience, so that I can move forward with my life stress free.” Using scripture in your prayers helps to keep your focus on what God has said about your situation in His word. In Romans 10:17, faith is stated to come by hearing God’s Word. So praying God’s word helps to build your faith in what God can do through your prayers. Concluding your prayer with praise for what God is going to do is also an act of faith. It shows that you believe in God’s Word and have no doubt (James 1:6).
With all that has been said the most important thing to keep in mind is the freedom that Christ has given us. He created us and knows our quirks and hang-ups. Don’t allow what you think about yourself to hold you back from praying. Remember God has already redeemed us so now we have to the freedom to live for him. Start communicating with God with heartfelt sincerity and He will receive it. He knows how to mature and grow us. Don’t allow the enemy to trick you into thinking you have to be perfect to begin praying or that there is ONE perfect way to pray. God just wants to talk to us as His children and for us to trust that He will work all things out for the good of His purpose in our lives (Romans 8:28)!
The first time I saw "War Room", I was sitting next to a friend and her husband. She began chatting about education and politics, two areas I am very passionate about. She provided insight that only God would know that I needed to hear. As the movie started, I was smiling from ear-to-ear at the wisdom that my friend had shared. Little did I know how phenomenal the movie would be.
During the movie, I laughed, cried, prayed, forgave people, worshipped, praised God, and shouted for joy a few times.
I left out of the movie with my friend and her husband and we began to talk about another area that I needed some wisdom in. This particular area she had already walked through and immediately began to share her successes and downfalls. I stood listening in awe.
Let's be clear, I was not in awe of these moments because I had not been believing God for stuff, but because I had not been using my "crazy faith." I had slacked off on some of my personal prayer requests and more often praying and believing God to answer the needs others through my prayer ministry, Always Praying. Or trying to make things happen or people respond the way I wanted, which of course, the movie spoke directly to me and my need to learn how to fight the right way.
A few days later I was thinking about the movie and thinking about how I was once EXTREMELY bold with my faith. I would share Jesus with people on the way to class, ask my waiters/waitresses if they knew Jesus, invite and carpool people to church, etc. Many of my dear friends remember these days because they would be standing along side me ministering to people. I enjoyed sharing Jesus.
"What happened?", I thought. I still share Jesus yet not with the same conviction and fervency.
Watching Ms. Clara reminded me that God is still the same, yesterday, today and forever. When she said, "He can't be fired and He will not retire", my faith was being stirred at the very core. She is talking about the God I serve, and hopefully you serve, too. She was reminding viewers that their circumstances do not determine the presence or faithfulness of God.
So, I had this thought, "Lord, bring someone in my path that I can talk to Jesus about."
I am at the nail salon and talking with the nail technician. She was updating me on her life as she changed the polish on my nails. I listened. She even mentioned that her former roommates in college were Christians who did not know how to have any fun. My ears perked up and my heart leaped. I sat there thinking how will I tell her that Christianity is not boring! We continued and little did I know she was raised in the church. She had attended churches I attended and we knew some of the same people. She mentioned something happened that pushed her away from church. I am not one to really pry (probably because I am super private), so I didn't. I prefer for people to open up when they are ready versus prying out information, unless of course, I feel led to ask. In this case, I was listening and interjecting every now and again. Finally, as she was finishing my toes, she shared what pushed her away from church AND God. Oh, my heart broke. I reassured her that God's love for her never changed and the words she heard from a loved one were not the heart of God. (Please join me in praying she forgives the loved one and her relationship with Jesus is restored).
I left out knowing God heard my thought! You can imagine how excited I was... just to share Jesus. It was a great start back in the saddle of sharing Jesus in times where I would normally be focused on relaxing or planning the rest of my day.
We have to fact the truth that everyone you and I share Jesus with will not accept Him. And, that is okay. Nor will everyone we pray for experience the blessings and freedom of God we desire for them. It is important for you and I to remember, we may be placed in someone's path to plant or water the seed. It is God who does the harvesting and answering of prayers, not us. Please do not be discouraged when you do not see immediate results. I know in the movie, everything happened in less than two hours, but in real life that could be two days or two weeks or two months or two years or longer. It is okay. Trust in God because He loves you and cares about everything concerning you.
I decided to see the movie for a second time.
It was even better!! This time around I heard things that I had missed in the first viewing. This time around I knew I needed to do more than just reflect on the movie and its many lessons, I needed to act.
After the movies, I dashed to find a new prayer journal. I needed a fresh start. I needed to be more diligent about writing out scriptures and my prayers and not be stuck on my phone (it is okay if you use your phone :) I just get distracted easily when I am on it). I needed to accept that I had allowed some personal and professional disappointments to dampen my outlook in life. But no more!
I immediately started writing in my journal. The first page is below.
I woke up the next day worried about an issue. I was concerned about this issue and needed some direction and wisdom. I went on to work as normal. I saw a friend and he asked me to go to lunch. I said, "Sure!" His wife joined us and the conversation lead to them speaking to my concerns and fears. She was open and transparent in the areas that I needed to hear. She wasn't telling me something she heard or read about, she was telling me how she walked through that particular season in life. I'm grateful that God cares so much about me that he would divinely send someone who had successfully walked through where I am!!
The old me would have said that these and many other things this week had just been a coincidence. The "crazy faith" walker in me knows it was God. He is so gentle and always on time. There was NO way for this couple to know what I was struggling with. But God did and had me walk to a back room after my meeting that I may have missed if I was rushing out (like I normally am).
Lastly, I wrote out some prayers for friends- those I like a lot and those who sometimes seem like enemies to me. I was talking to one friend and as I spoke with them and they shared their issues (which they had not like this before), I realized that my prayer was literally, word for word exactly what they were feeling. My mouth dropped open for a minute. I did not say anything to my friend, yet took another note that as I have been writing down prayers, praying, and stepping out in faith, God is meeting me where I am (James 4:8).
And, no prayer is not a way for you and I to get God to do whatever we want Him to do. Some prayers will take time. Some may not answered. Others He will answer the same day or hour. I am okay with it all because after trying to live my life and being in control, I know that His way is the best way and that no matter how I much plan and try to predict the future, I will never be prepared for everything unless I am connected and listening to His voice.
War Room was the perfect reminder of the power of prayer. I needed to be reminded that the same way I stand and pray for others through Always Praying, is the same way I should be fighting in many areas of my life. I needed that gentle reminder that I will continue to be kicking against a brick wall if I do seek God in every area of my life like I try and plan for it.
I am determined to fight the right way-- in prayer! If you have not seen War Room, SEE IT!!
If you need prayer, share your request at: AlwaysPraying.com. We would to pray with you!
You’ve heard it said, but do you honestly believe it’s true?
You can cast away all these failures and, instead, cling to The One who makes all things new
You’re only condemned if you elect to stay in those chains
So why not relinquish your struggles to The One who’s ALREADY endured that pain?
If we’ll confess our sins one to another, we’ll have no reason to hide
And, maybe just then, we’ll finally rid ourselves of this filthy thing called Pride
We have no need to be faultless; it’s an endeavor we cannot undertake
So open your heart to your fellow man, and let’s take back the meaning of doing it “For Christ’s sake”
He tells us we’re no longer condemned, if only we choose to accept
Yet, so often we’ll refuse because we simply can’t help but see ourselves as inept
He tells us we’re no longer condemned, if only we choose to believe
And, instead, we’ll deny because we’re so conditioned to think we’re forced to grieve
Those hurts you feel; those mistakes you’ve made – you’re allowed to let them go
Cast those demons aside, for latching on will only allow them to grow
That Enemy’s lies can only grab hold of us if we allow him to persist
So, starting today, let’s only accepts words from The One who allowed us to nail Him by the wrist
You are NOT condemned
It’s nothing but a trick; nothing but another lie
You are NOT condemned
The Lord feels compassion for every tear you’ve cried
You are NOT condemned
From His words, waters of everlasting life will spring
You are NOT condemned
You need just to turn your heart over to The Everlasting King
You are NOT condemned!
He wants nothing more than for you to give up all that pain and bother
You are NOT condemned!
Let truths speak into your soul that only come from your Eternal Father
You are NOT condemned!
He implores you to look up towards His face, then you’ll see
YOU ARE NOT CONDEMNED!
He took it all away when He agreed to hang from that tree.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
-John 3:17 (KJV)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death
-Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
-2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
-Revelation 21:4 (NLT)
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
-Psalm 34:22 (ESV)
Each and every day a person faces numerous temptations. No matter how young or old you may be, no matter where you grow up, no matter how much money you have; we all face temptations. Some temptations are more obvious than others. However, the temptations we face are abundant and will continue throughout our life. Even men and women who have been in the church for decades face temptations. We all have heard the saying that Satan comes to “steal, kill, and destroy.” (John 10:10) Satan’s plan is to destroy us and pull us away from living the life that Christ has called for us to live.
Throughout life, we all sin. We sin daily and sometimes we may sin without realizing it on the spot. Many of our sins come from falling into temptations. Although we know we will sin daily, we should not settle for falling deeper and deeper into temptation. We should work each day to defeat the evil temptations that come to our mind and heart.
This past Sunday, my father preached about living righteous in an unrighteous world. We are living in a world full of evil. The world continues to walk farther and farther away from the hands of God and his Gospel. As Christians we should have an attitude that wants to defeat the temptations that hurt our lives and pull us away from Christ’s calling and purpose for our lives.
So how do we defeat the temptation? We keep our hearts focused on Christ.
We must pray. Prayer is our daily communication with God. We can talk to him at any point of the day. Through prayer communicate with the Lord what you are going through and the temptations that you are facing. He will help you.
We must continue to read God’s word. Through the Gospel, we receive our instructions for our time on Earth. The Bible is full of examples of people who fell into temptation. In some cases, the temptation they fell into ruined them. In other cases, a person would realize their temptation, work to defeat it, and turn their life to Christ. Reading God’s Word should give us positive thoughts on Christ. Our eyes must be fixed on the Glory of the Lord, His promise, and his purpose for our lives. In His Word, we find scriptures that help us to overcome temptation.
We must stay focused. Our relationship with Christ should be the most important thing in our live. We should work to grow and improve our relationship with Him. As we walk with him, our trust in Him will grow. By studying God’s Word, a Christian learns more about temptation and how to defeat those temptations. Sometimes defeating temptation may be as simple as completely avoiding a situation that may put you in a situation where that temptation may appear. In other cases, defeating temptation may be a slow (and maybe rough) process. But with Christ, accountability partners, and prayer you can overcome temptation.
Many people fall to temptation without caring. Falling into temptation prohibits us from living out God’s grand plan for our life. JC Watts says that “Character is who you are when nobody is watching.” There are many people who attempt to be a person of high character when everyone is watching. However, behind closed doors they fall into a constant temptation without a care. No matter what benefit you think may come from following temptation, it will not compare to the Glory of the Lord. Through prayer, reading God’s word, and staying focused on the Lord’s calling we will gain knowledge of how to better fight the temptations that we face daily.
Though you may face many temptations or one huge temptation, run to Jesus, His Word, and a community of prayer warriors.
Starting over can be a scary experience. Moving to a new city with no friends or family for a new job. Going back to college after not being in a classroom in 10 years. Ending a relationship and being single again. Saying "I do" and having to start life as a wife or husband. Saying "I do"...again. Having a baby and beginning parenthood. Yikes! As exciting as new beginnings can be, we have to admit it is scary.
Often as we tread uncharted territory, we find ourselves messing up more than getting it right. Temptation presents itself and like a newly walking baby, we plant our feet, maybe try to turn our heads, but fall right down into what is comfortable. For example, New Year's resolutions. We have a goal, set out to attain it and find ourselves falling flat on our faces. Ok, let's not dance around it. You want to lose weight. You say "This year is it. New beginning for my nutrition and health." You do well the first few days then because you weren't mentally prepared, the family barbecue for Martin Luther King Day comes around and your plate is loaded with everything that causes you to gain weight. Or that one time that you knew sex before marriage was not what God wants, but you refused to get an accountability partner, pray about lusting, confess your heart idols to Jesus, and focus on His love for you. Then you wind up convicted and miserable about having sex...again. Too real?
Temptations rise in all of our lives. More often than we would like to admit, we succumb to self-satisfying desires. As believers, we are blessed to know that is not all of our story. Our failures are not our finish. Jesus is our finish. Our lack of overcoming temptation is not what defines us, but instead it is His love for us.
We definitely need a new way to live, be, think, relate, and love. But starting over, beginning anew, square one...all of those things for me cause feelings of anxiety, pressure, unpreparedness, and instability. But, there will be a time where everything will be made new. A new beginning won't be scary, daunting, or overwhelming. When God makes things new, they are peaceful, comforting, perfect, and welcomed.
Good news, great joy
Everything is new - Joel and Amy Davis
A few weeks ago, I sang those words with the praise team at church. They seemed to give me hope, excitement, joy like never before. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5 ESV)
Are you excited yet? My God, our God, one day will make everything new. All of the disrupted peace in the earth, broken relationships, consequences for sin, results of evil running rampant, but good news, great joy, everything will be new! Every wrong will be right. Everything out of place will be perfected because God said He would. We can rest assured that God redeem and restore things as beautifully as only He can. I can hardly wait. I'm ready for Him to make relationships new. Sins against my body, new. Injustices, new. The church, new. Familial hurt, new. Generational curses, new. Failed attempts at resisting temptation, new, Poverty, new. Sins curses, new. His version of new is more than we could ever imagine.
I'm ready for His new beginning. Are you?
I saw. I know. It happened again.
No, you can change. Allow me in. Regret, guilt; let them go. It's ok.
This is not an apologetic relationship.
Remember how I took you just as you were?
Ok, good - then stop with all the justifying.
Do you realize that you limit me when you feel it’s necessary to add reasoning behind all the mistakes?
You are forgiven, not just temporarily given a trial pass.
That does not only correspond to what happened in your past.
I have news for you: your future is going to be filled with them as well.
Together, we can see you through to overcome these sins.
Together, we can do all things.
All things are possible; you’ve spoken that one to me many times before.
But do you actually believe what you are speaking?
Understand that it says “with” me.
All right, if you do understand, then stop trying to accomplish it on your own.
Don’t just tell me what you know; put action behind your faith.
Shame, disgust, pain; please let them go.
How do you think I see you?
Do you actually believe I see shame and disgust when I look down upon you?
Of course not.
I see a once cracked vessel that has been restored, made new.
I see a redeemed soul that wants to share love with anyone they meet.
I see a heart purified and a mind cleansed, set apart from the past.
I see one who doesn’t understand everything, who CAN’T understand everything, and yet still strives to know more about me every day.
Yes, I saw this time too.
Not everything is going to be instant.
You can turn away from what holds you back.
In truth, it is simply holding you down.
Maybe I can’t show you what I have next for you until I know you are truly ready.
However, that does NOT mean it’s not there.
Are you hearing that?
I ALREADY have it for you.
All you have to do is accept it and stop looking back.
What held you down before is gone.
Never believe you have any reason to hide from me.
Yes, I saw, but I never said I expected you to be perfect.
I have given you what you need to overcome this.
I can equip you, but I will NOT force you.
You CAN turn away from this.
Yes, I know how powerful and devastating an addiction can be.
But that enemy was already defeated.
This really is no fair fight once you can realize that you have me on your side.
I have ALWAYS been on your side.
Of course; I will always stay on your side.
We already won.
You never needed to make this your fight, anyways; it already took place.
It can only become your fight if you subject yourself to believing the enemy is a worthy adversary.
Start treating him as such.
I do hear you.
In those times you think you have gotten no response, I am still there.
I will never leave nor forsake you; I know you remember that verse too.
Those aren’t just words; they are my promise to you.
Yes, my covenant.
Just like the one you took for me.
I remember that day quite well, do you?
Good, then you can understand how powerful my desire is to help you along your path.
The day you took that covenant, you showed that you realized I was there.
I was there all along, but that act of you recognizing my presence, that is a day I will never forget.
I know you’ve heard about the rejoicing that takes place around here, but just wait until you actually witness and experience and feel and absorb that moment with all of us.
Maybe after you see that for yourself, you can begin to understand why I love you as I do and would never turn my back away from you.
I know. I saw.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness." Ephesians 6:10-18
Sing this song with me. You know it.
"It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
Ok, now that we've gotten that out, it's Christmas time! For so many it's the most wonderful time of their year. The precisely decorated houses. Towering and twinkling Christmas trees. Hilarious commercials. The seemingly scheduled Facebook arguments over 'Xmas vs Christmas'. It's that time of year for family, friends, connections and bonding. *deep happy sigh*
While some see all of the positives this season has to offer, others are running on fumes. Literally the gas tank is empty. The sign has been flashing. But the engine somehow is still moving...barely. If you are like me, you find yourself working and moving in this state of tired, but determined ambition. The end of the year is approaching. You have completed 17 out of 20 resolutions for 2014. Just a few more, and you just are convinced you can do it. You have no idea where you're getting the energy or inspiration to make the next step, but you know that their is a race to run...and who else better to do it?
The holidays can be a time where we force ourselves to prove how greater, better, richer, smarter, etc., we are than our friends, family, and our previous self. That gets tiring. You get worn down and out before you ever get the chance to enjoy yourself. But why? It is because you haven't received God's love.
If you know you are loved by God, you act like it. It shows. (1 John 4:13) Receive the love of God. The love of God looks like the sacrifice Jesus made. Living in the knowledge that God loves you changes everything!! (Gal. 2:20)
When you operate out of God's great love for us, you don't have to worry about having the biggest box, giving the most expensive watch, or planning the biggest surprise. The pressure to deliver is off of you. (Gal 1:10) No more tired, weary days. No one is expecting you to be the hero. Jesus already did that. Receive the love given from God. (John 3:16) Only when you have His love can you give freely and happily. When you're giving of the love you have received, it's not forced or exhausting. It's exciting to see how Jesus begins working in someone else's life. Receive Love...and pass it on. (1 John 4:19)
Now when you sing this last verse of the song, your heart will glow when loved ones are near. Know that you won't be drained, dreading, or dreary of having loved ones near. You can now give because of the love you have received. Not of yourself, out of performance, or pretending but because God loves you.
"It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
There'll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When love ones are near
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"
Always Praying Blogger
Here young adults share their struggles and victories to encourage you on your Christian journey. You are never alone! God is with and for you and we always praying for you!