What Has Anger Done For You Lately?

James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this.  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

One of the most difficult verses in the bible to hear and follow.  We all get angry sometimes, and we all say things we shouldn’t in that moment of anger.  Hurtful, hateful things that should never be uttered.  Many of us don’t live in anger daily, we just have moments of irritation or frustration that hit us.

There are many, however, that do live in a constant state of anger and bitterness.  Their entire lives revolve around the need to lash out in hate and rage.  Maybe something terrible has happened to them in the past.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be to go through life with the burden of being constantly angry and bitter resting upon their shoulders.  Maybe it is a result of someone else’s harsh words.  I don’t know what causes it, but I know it can’t be fun to live your life trapped in anger and bitterness.  I’ve been avoiding news outlets and social media a lot lately, simply because I’m overwhelmed by all the anger and bitterness I see posted.  I’m shocked by the things people say to one another, simply because they have a different point of view.  I’m staggered by the amount of judgement passed on others because they think differently from someone else.  I’m amazed, that in our oh so modern culture, we still have a horrendous number of people bullying others if they express a thought that doesn’t match theirs.  The anger, the hatred, the bitterness, it leads me to believe that there is a lot of work going on in this world by the enemy.  The enemy is trying his best to drive people apart.  You see, a broken culture starts with broken relationships.  Broken relationships start with anger and bitterness.

Are you one of those people who lives trapped in a bubble of bitterness on a daily basis?  Let me ask you a question…how has living an angry and bitter life helped you?  How has it contributed one drop of anything positive in your life?  Has it helped your health in any way?  I would take a guess and say that, if anything, it’s actually hurt your health.  The stress caused by anger and bitterness can do enormous damage to your health and body.  Have you slept any better at night because of anger and bitterness?  I seriously doubt it.  Has it helped your relationships with your spouse or significant other, your children, parents, siblings, family and friends.  I doubt that as well.  I know for me personally, if I have a friend who lives in constant anger and bitterness, I’m going to separate myself from them.  I still love them and pray for them, but I will not allow myself to be dragged down into that bitterness with them.

So, we know that it’s not helping you, but who, exactly is that anger and bitterness hurting?  Is it hurting the person who hurt you?  Do they even KNOW the resentment you hold toward them?  Do they go home at night upset because you are angry with them?  Or do they even care?  Let’s face it, they probably either don’t know or care, so it’s not really hurting them.  The only person it’s hurting is you.  It’s hurting your health.  It’s hurting your relationships.  It’s hurting your soul.  You have to let go of all that hurt, anger and bitterness.  I know, it’s not easy, but for your own sake, you have to do it.

How, you ask?  You must turn it over to God.  You must forgive the person who hurt you.  Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary for your own wellbeing and happiness.  You can’t truly be happy and filled with joy until you learn to forgive.  Forgive them and release it all to God, you will be amazed at how your life can be transformed.  Imagine..no longer having to bear the weight of all that rage, anger and bitterness.  Imagine being free to laugh, free to love, free to be all you are called to be.  You can’t live a joyful life, you can’t fulfill your purpose until you let go of the past, forgive those who have hurt you (whether they ask you to or not, whether they care or not), ask God to forgive YOU for holding on to that bitterness for so long, and follow the path He has laid out for you.

I’m going to issue a challenge now.  Give it one day.  One whole day, to not say anything negative, angry or bitter.  When you open your mouth, let it only be positive words that come out.  If you can’t think of anything positive, just try keeping your mouth closed, it’s really not that hard.  Give it one day, then see how you feel when you lay your head down that night.  Maybe, just maybe, you will sleep a little better.  Maybe, it will help you to see that bitterness is a virus that needs to be out of your life.  Maybe it will help you seek God to overcome that anger, to release it and live the joyful life He wants for you.

Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

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In the Home Stretch…

Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

IMG_3894Here we are folks, in the home stretch of this year’s fasting and praying.  I know I’ve told you there are a LOT of things I’ve been fasting and praying for.  Health situations for me and various family members, doors of opportunity to be opened, revival in our churches, schools, nation and world, different prayer requests from friends, the children in our church and community, the list is a long one.  I know it’s long, but hey, someone once said that not every prayer request I pray will get answered, but 100% of prayers never prayed won’t get answered, so I figure I better cover my bases.

I’ve been saying all through this fast that I truly feel strongly that something big is coming, that God was going to do something awesome, but I didn’t know yet what it could be.  I feel like part of this “something big” took place right before my very eyes this past Sunday morning.

I lead a small group for first grade girls every Sunday morning.  As we were in our class, we were chatting and I brought up salvation.  I talked to these beautiful, precious girls, and asked them if they truly believed in Jesus and loved him.  They looked back at me and nodded with so much faith and trust in their bright and shining eyes.  I asked if there were any girls there that had not yet asked Jesus into their hearts.  Six girls raised their hands, and I asked if that was something they wanted to do, ask Him into their hearts.  Again, with faith and trust shining in their eyes, they said yes, they did.

Then something truly beautiful happened, as our whole class bowed our heads, I had these girls repeat a prayer of salvation.  I was overcome with emotion as every girl in the class said the prayer.  I have led this prayer before, but I had never had a response from this many children in such a small class.  Just this.  If not a single other prayer I fasted over gets answered, this was over and abundantly more than I could have imagined.  Six lives devoted to Jesus now.  Six souls saved.  And think of all the other people these lives will touch as they grow older.  Just think of the people they can lead to Christ.  Just think of the impact they can have in this world, and now they do it in Jesus’ name.

And guess what?  It wasn’t just these six girls who were saved last Sunday.  That very night I received a text from our children’s pastor that another little boy prayed with our church’s pastor and he also received salvation.  Seven!  Seven souls saved that day.  I’m overcome with emotion now, just thinking about it.  How wonderful, how glorious our God is.

We still have a few days of fasting and praying left, and I don’t intend to waste it.  I’m continuing to pray over these children and many others.  I’m continuing my fast and I’m being faithful.  You know why?  Because God’s been faithful to me.  He’s going to continue to be faithful.  He’s going to continue to do great and mighty things.

Thank You Lord, for your faithfulness, for Your love, for your salvation.  I pray over these children, that You continue to do Your works in them and through them.

1 Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

 

A Word of Encouragement

Oh my gracious, ya’ll….fasting is hard!  Yesterday was a little hard for me, I just kept having that sweet-tooth craving for sugar.  Everywhere I turned, leftover Christmas stocking candy seemed to call out to me and mock me.  But, you know what?  I made it, and we are half-way through this fast.

You know what got me through?  The knowledge that Jesus himself suffered through forty days of fasting in the desert, even through Satan’s temptations.  I’m not just talking about sweets & breads, I’m talking EVERYTHING!  For forty days!  Not only that, He suffered the most horrible beatings, He was spat upon, He was derided, He was hung up on that cross, for me.  For imperfect, unworthy me!  He let Himself be hung up on that cross, slowly, painfully waiting and praying until His last breath, crying out, “It is finished” within that last breath, all to save me, you, my children, everyone on Earth.  Why?  Because He loves us THAT MUCH!  I can’t even begin to imagine what He suffered because of His love for us.  If He can do all that, guys….seriously, me fasting sugar and suffering a few cravings isn’t even a drop in the bucket.  He deserves a whole lot more than what I can give Him.

Yes, He deserves my all, my everything, and I’m giving my all to Him.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could make it in this crazy, mixed-up world without Him.  I sure don’t want to even try.  Even when the little things in life start to get to me, I’m able to stop and tell God, “thank You!”  I know I’m late and traffic is horrible, but thank you God.  Making me sit here at this light is probably Your way of preventing some terrible accident if I were just a few miles down the road.  I know life seems to be pressing in on me right now, but thank You God, because with all the pressure of life, I know You are also teaching me something.  Thank You God, just for being with me all the time, throughout every single circumstance, through the good and bad.

He deserves our all, our everything.  Through every circumstance, He deserves our praise.  Through all the ups and downs, He deserves our attention.  Through every trial, He deserves our faith in His wisdom.  Thy will be done, Lord.  I thank You for Your wisdom, Your mercy, Your grace in my life.  I thank you for Your will, Lord, because I know Your will is always to provide what’s best for me.

So be encouraged.  Yes, we still have 11 more days of fasting to go, but we are half-way through.  We can do this, you can do this.  You know why you are going to get through this?  Because He has something great planned, I just know it.  He’s working in us, He’s working through us.  You may see it now, or you may not see it for a few weeks or months, but He’s doing something wonderful.  Be faithful and steadfast in you fasting and prayer, He WILL reward your faithfulness.

John 3:16, “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.”

Isaiah 40:31, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 43:2, “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 not set you ablaze.”

1 Samuel 12:24, “Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things He has done for you.”

Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

1 Corinthians 2:9, “But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him'”

 

 

What Is Your Quicksand?

quicksandI saw this meme the other day that gave me a good laugh.  It said, “When I was younger I thought that quicksand was going to be a much bigger problem than it is.”  The pictures in the meme depict scenes from various television shows and movies from my youth where hero’s were on the verge of being smothered by quicksand.  It was quite a normal thing in the 80’s (yes, I know, I’m telling my age) for quicksand to be featured in every t.v. show.  I had no doubt that it was out there, somewhere.  When I would play in the woods around my house, I always carried a big stick, not for keeping snakes away, but to poke the ground in front of me to make sure there was no quicksand.

1o9a7708It’s comical now, as I look back, but there’s a little bit of truth in that quicksand too.  I have quicksand in my life now, in several forms.  If any of you are friends with me on facebook, you have seen about my greatest downfall, my greatest addiction, none other than the Chocolate Cream Double Stuff Oreo.  I don’t know what it is about them, but I simply MUST have two after lunch and two after dinner.  Let’s be real here, those things are the bomb!  Chocolate Cream Double Stuff Oreo’s are my quicksand.  There’s absolutely nothing about them that is healthy.  It’s full of sugar, calories, fat and I don’t even WANT to know what else.  They can’t possibly be helping me stay healthy in anyway, and even contribute toward the future possibility of developing some horrible disease like diabetes.  I don’t seem to care though.  I continue eating them with absolute glee.

There are plenty of other things in my life that can be considered quicksand.  I actually love anything with sugar in it.  I love Cokes.  I know, I’m from Georgia, so all soda’s are called Coke here, but Coke is the only KIND of soda I love.  I loved Coke’s so much, and drank so much of that particular quicksand, I developed ulcers.  I now only drink Coke once in a while.  That particular quicksand literally ate holes in my stomach..ouch!  Quicksand is detrimental to all that God has equipped you with, and I’m not just talking about your health.  How about your emotions?  Do you experience jealousy?  Anger?  Bitterness?  Hate?  Loathing?  Depression?  Addiction?  These are all examples of quicksand in our lives.

I have good news, though!  God can clear that quicksand right out of your life?  I drank so many Cokes because of the addiction to caffeine.  I never developed a taste for coffee of any kind, so I had to get my source of caffeine from carbonated beverages.  With the help of God, I was able to easily kick that long-time addiction to caffeine and Cokes.  Right now, I’m on day 8 of our church wide fast.  The first 3 days were the hardest, being a total food fast, and for the rest of the fast, I am giving up all breads and sweets.  That means that addiction I have to those delicious, delectable Oreo’s are being put aside so I can pray and worship my God, and converse with Him.  Guess what?  I can honestly say I’m not missing those cookies.  He’s enough for me.  I don’t feel like I have to run to the pantry and grab some sugary, diabetes inducing snack to get me through.  His grace is sufficient for me.

Whatever your quicksand is, He is more than enough to get you across it.  His grace is more than sufficient for you.  Lay it before Him and let Him take care of it.  Whether your quicksand is junk food, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, depression, anger, bitterness….it doesn’t matter, give it all over to God and let Him be that rope to pull you up out of the quicksand.

Isaiah 58:6, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?”

Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Isaiah 41:13, “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.'”

A Time To Testify

I did it!  I made it through the first three days of my fast, which are the hardest because they were my total food fast days, and came out alive and well.  I knew my God would take care of me through it.  I’m not saying I didn’t get cranky at times, or rather, “hangry”.  I warned my poor boys it would happen, and it did.  That’s when I would take a moment, and really start praying for God to use that time to strengthen me, to give me clarity and to speak to me.  I’m happy to say, no one was injured by my hangry-ness, we all survived.  I’m also happy to report that my cheese omelet and sausage I consumed like a rabid beast this morning were absolutely divine!  Oh, I’m still continuing on the fast, but now I’m fasting other foods.  Foods that I love, and can’t seem to live without.  Sweets, I’m fasting sweets, okay?  That means no Fudge Double Stuff Oreo’s for me.  No chocolate anything.  I can do it though, God will give me the fortitude.

I was pretty sure I would hear from God by the end of the 3rd fasting day.  I was positive He would speak something profound into my spirit.  I even awoke at 3 a.m. this morning, my usual chatting with God time, and I just KNEW He was going to reveal something to me then.  So I prayed some more, and I was quiet and listened, and…I fell asleep.

It happened in the shower of all places.  I was singing in my best Hillsong voice (my guy’s aren’t too fond of my best Hillsong voice by the way), when a word kept flashing before me, over and over.  Testimony. Over and over, I kept seeing it.  What?  Nothing has happened yet, I’m only on the 4th day of my fast, what am I going to use for my testimony?  How about this, how about I talk about what God has done for me in the past?  Hmm…everyone has already heard my testimony about my vocal cords. If you haven’t heard that testimony, you can read about it here.  Amazing as that one is, I hate to keep repeating the same one to the same audience over and over.

Then God helps me remember the other things.  For instance, did you know I almost lost my first born son in child birth?  That’s right, things went terribly wrong, and he almost died, but through the grace of God, he’s alive and well.  Did you know that things went horribly wrong with my second birth?  I lost so much blood, I started having seizures and they wouldn’t even let him stay with me in my room unless someone else was there.  I was scheduled to receive a blood transfusion, but for some reason, the doctor changed his mind, much to the shock of the nurses who let me know they thought that was a mistake.  God took care of me though.  He built my blood supply back up to where it needed to be.  How about the time my youngest, the wild one, tried to take a joy ride in my husbands truck.  He snuck into the truck, knocked it out of gear and it started rolling.  We live at the top of a steep hill, so the truck started rolling backwards, but God sent an angel (that’s the only conclusion we can come up with), an angel who turned the wheel of the truck, backing it perfectly into our neighbor’s driveway, and even into their garage.  Granted, the garage door was closed at the time, but the parking job was still commendable.  His door flew open and he was thrown from the truck, hitting his head on the driveway.  Can you imagine if the truck had rolled one more foot, and he was under it?  I’ve imagined every horrible scenario that could have played out, but it didn’t through the grace of God.  How about finances.  We aren’t rich.  Not even close.  We make it month to month basically, but we are always faithful with our tithes and finances.  When I told my husband years ago that I really felt God was telling me I needed to quit work and stay home with the boys, he didn’t question my sanity.  He supported me fully.  He works extremely hard to provide for our family, and God always evens out our finances.  When we aren’t sure we are going to make it, God is faithful.  And back to my vocal cords, yes, I’ve been healed, I’m talking and singing badly again.  But..did you know that my actual vocal cords are barely moving or functioning?  God has given me a voice, yet not from my vocal cords.  Wow, isn’t that crazy and amazing?  Who but my God can do that.

These are just a few of the moments I remember from my past that I know God was at work on our behalf.  I’m sure there are so many other times He’s been working for me that I’m not even aware of.  It’s the same for you, too.  He’s doing so much good for you.  Maybe you can’t see it right now, but He is.  I’ve had really, really dark days, and come out on the other side stronger and better because I’ve been through those times.

On my 4th day of the fast, I’m filled with the knowledge that this year is going to be blessed.  It’s going to be a wonderful year for me and my family.  God is going to do amazing things for us, yet again.  I’m not saying I’m going to wake up in the morning and find a winning lottery ticket next to my bed (but wouldn’t that be nice?), but I am saying that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, in every fiber of my being, that God has plans for us this year.  That’s what He’s revealed to me.  He’s working in me.  Something is happening.  I don’t know what, I don’t know when, but He’s doing something.  All I have to do is follow His will, and see where He takes me.

Lord, have Your way in me, do Your will, help me to be who You have called me to be and fulfill Your purpose in my life.

Luke 8:39, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”

A New Year’s Revival

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I never have.  I think it stems from the fact that, as far as I know, I’ve never met a person who has actually kept a New Years resolution.  Oh, they always start off strong, but somewhere along the way, life happens.  There are too many other things to get in the way of that exercise program, or monitoring that low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.  So, what’s the point of making a resolution that we know we aren’t going to keep?

I am, however, starting my new year off with fasting and prayer.  Prayer for a New Year’s Revival.  I’m talking, a revival of epic proportions, one such as we have never seen in our lifetime.  I’m sure a lot of you have heard about the great revival that went on in 2016 in Burlington, North Carolina.  It was amazing.  It went on and on, more and more people pledging their hearts to God than they ever anticipated.  I would love to see nothing more than a revival which results in more souls to be saved across the globe, than we could possibly imagine.  More people who get to walk those streets of gold with us.

I’m constantly amazed at the cruelty in this world.  The hateful, harsh comments on a news thread.  The acts of violence.  The self-loathing.  This isn’t of God!  These cruel actions come from cold, closed off hearts.  These are actions the enemy is rejoicing in.  It’s up to each of us to bring more light to the world, instead of the darkness inhabiting it now.  I don’t know about you, but when I get to heaven, I don’t want to see a list of people I COULD have made a difference in the lives of, I COULD have prayed for, I COULD have led to Christ, but didn’t.  Rather, I want to hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”  I want to see people celebrating with me, friends, loved one’s, strangers, and know that I’ve done all I could to serve my God and build His kingdom.

There is a really great way to get a revival of this size kicked off, you can all join me in that prayer.  Pray for a revival to take place in YOU!  That’s right, I said in you.  See, a revival of that size can’t happen unless it starts in each of us, whether we’ve been saved already or not.  I pray for that very thing, a revival in me, in my family, our churches, schools, cities, states, governments, nations, across the entire world.

Psalm 85:6, “Will You not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in You?”

Psalm 80:19, “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!  Let Your face shine, that we may be saved!”

2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Preparing For Fasting

Our church wide fast kicks off tomorrow.  My plan is total food fast for the first three days, then no sugar or breads throughout the rest of the 21 day fast.  I’ve been preparing for the fast for a little while already.  Preparing as in praying about it.  Asking God to help me focus on Him during this fast, asking Him to help me be strong through out the fast, asking Him to speak to me, use me, reveal things to me, bless me and my family, anoint me and my family, praying for our nation, praying for a revolution causing more souls to be saved in 2017 than we’ve ever seen before, asking Him to give us back the closeness He and I once had.

I have a confession to make…last year, I consciously made a decision NOT to participate in the fast.  I don’t know why I elected not to do it, but I did, and there you have it.  I have another confession…throughout the entire year of 2016, I noticed that I felt almost a disconnection from my closeness that I had at one time with God.  Oh, I still loved Him with all my heart, I still served Him, but I didn’t hear from Him as I once did.  I couldn’t figure out what I had been doing wrong to lose that insight I once had.  I’ve been praying for God to give us that closeness again.

It all came together for me in today’s sermon, as our pastor spoke about giving God our firsts.  That’s what the fast is about.  At the beginning of every year, our church fasts and prays, and we give God our firsts, just as He asks us to do in the Bible.

Exodus 23:19, “You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God..”

Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

That’s what I did wrong, I didn’t give God my firsts in 2016.  I tithed, I worshiped, I prayed, I served, but I didn’t devote those first few days to praying and talking to Him, to spending time with Him.  That’s where my disconnection from our closeness came from, from my unwillingness to give my firsts of the new year.   

I won’t make that mistake again, my firsts for 2017 belong to God.  I’m excited to begin spending my time with God in the next 21 days.  I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me, my family, my church and my nation.  I can’t wait to just be with my Abba Daddy and share our talks again.  If you are joining in on the fast this year, I want to encourage you.  It’s not easy, especially if you are fasting all food at the beginning as I and many others are, but it IS worth it.  Amazing things can happen through fasting and prayer.  God doesn’t NEED your firsts, you money, time, servitude, but He does want it.  He wants to have the bond with you.  He wants to share with you, to build you up, to love you.  All you have to do is give Him your firsts…

2 Samuel 12:15-17, “And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick.  David therefore sought God on behalf of the child.  And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of the house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.” 

Daniel 10:3, “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”