I Choose To Trust

Making a resolution means to make a decision or to be determined. This is my New Year’s resolution: To trust God. Every single day and in every single area of my life! This isn’t difficult at all to do when life is grand and nothing major is happening. We think “I trust You, I’ll follow You, wherever You lead, Lord I’ll follow”. And then life happens! Financial problems, health scares, loss of a job, lose a loved one (2, to be exact this year). And without even realizing it sometimes, we’re faced with a choice: freak out or trust God? I don’t think it’s too far fetched to say that most of us tend to freak out at the first sight of an obstacle. We immediately go into overdrive trying to fix “it”. I know it’s natural to be afraid, life is stinking scary sometimes! It’s what we choose to do with that fear that will make a difference. David got it right on when he penned these words in Psalm 56:3: When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.

Let’s face it, we have no control over the obstacles that life throws at us. But what if we looked at our obstacle (fear) as a fork in the road. I can either open up Gods Word and trust what He says or…. I can worry about it, which btw is a dead end! There’s a whole chapter in Matthew that tells us where worrying leads, nowhere! So this year, I’m going to take Him at His Word:

Do not be terrified …….., for the Lord your God, Who is among you, is a great and awesome God. Deuteronomy 7:21

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)

God is faithful. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow! I choose to trust Him!

Happiness Is Overrated

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away.
(Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns)

Habbakkuk 3:17-18 ~ Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen, and no cattle in the stalls, YET I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God, my Savior.

Habakkuk 3:19 ~ The Sovereign LORD is my STRENGTH….. He ENABLES me to go on the heights.

Look to the Sovereign Lord of the universe, the One who created you. Storms in life WILL come, praise Him anyway- you WILL get knocked down, keep fighting anyway- people WILL hate you, love them anyway! He not only strengthens us for the journey, but He also enables us! He gives us the ability, the power, He equips us and makes impossibilities – possible! We lose our joy when we try to do things in our own strength. SEEK Him, TRUST Him, and KNOW that He’s with you. Psalm 139:5 (The Message) says I look behind me and You’re there, then up ahead and You’re there, too–  Your reassuring presence, coming and going. The NIV says “You hem me in– behind and before….” What an awesome picture of God’s presence in our lives!

Being happy is NOT the same as having joy. Happiness really is overrated. Just like any other emotion that we experience, feeling happy will come and go. But joy that comes from God, CANNOT be shaken! We “lose” our joy when we allow fear to take up residence in our lives instead of faith.

Psalm 94:18-19 ~ When I said, “my foot is slipping”, Your unfailing love, LORD, supported  me. When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought JOY to my soul. 

BELIEVE and TRUST! God’s got this!

1 John 5:5 ~ Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Staying Focused

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith………. Hebrews 12:2

Or in my own words (thanks to Websters Dictionary 😉  Let us decide to steadily direct our focus on Jesus, the Originator/ Creator  and the One Who brings to completion and makes things perfect…….

WHY do we need to fix our eyes on Him? Glad you asked!  Let’s move back to the latter part of  Hebrews 12 verse 1 …….let us throw everything off that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked for us.  We’re only able to throw off everything that hinders us by fixing our eyes on Jesus. What are some of the things in your life that are hindering you from being the Christian God has called you to be? Fear, discouragement, criticism, unforgiveness, bitterness, disppointment….. the list could go on and on. It’s a daily struggle. Our flesh is always battling for control over our spirit. Satan is always trying to steal our joy, take our peace, and keep us from growing in Christ. But, he can only do that if we take our focus off of Christ. Jesus is the only One Who ever started the “race” and “finished” it perfectly. He’s not only our example, but He has also empowered us with His Holy Spirit so that we too, can finish this race called life! And not just finish it but get to where He is and hear Him say “Well done, my good and faithful servant”.

**Side note: If we hope to perseverewhich by the way means to maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacle or discouragemt, (love that!) then we need to fix our eyes on Him. So then of course I would simply ask what’s your purpose? What are you willing to strive for? No matter the cost, the distance, whether you’re among hundreds or if you’re the only one? Is there something you’re living for that’s bigger than yourself? or should I say Someone?**

Can’t you just hear Him whispering “fix your eyes on me, stay focused, don’t look to the left or the right, don’t look back and don’t look too far ahead. I was with you yesterday, I’m with you today, and I’m already there waiting for you tomorrow. I’ve got this!” And I’m sure that He does because He always has! He is Who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do.

Our part is opening our Bible (God’s Love Letter), and meditate on it DAILY! Psalm 119:9 -11 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word. I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.

We need to be praying, pray at all times and in all circumstances. When things are good and when things are bad, pray! Philippians 4: 6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Worship Him! If we live to be 100 years old and God never does anything else for us, never answers anymore of our prayers, He is still praiseworthy. The sacrifice He made by dying on the cross for us is more than any of us has ever deserved. Psalm 130:3-4 If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness……

And with that, I will leave you with some of the words of this awesome song that we sing in church:

O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free!                                                                                                                                                                                                         Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, Helen H. Lemmel, 1922)

Joy Comes In The Morning

I was reminded of Gods goodness the other day as I was getting my hair cut with one of the sweet ladies  that has been cutting my hair for the last couple of years. She was talking about Destiny’s cancer and how scary it must have been for our family to get that news. I still find it hard to talk about what the shock did to my family because (1) there are no words and (2) I cry everytime I try! But she looked at me and asked this question, “Nikki, how did you get through that with such peace?” It wasn’t the question that got me but the way she asked the question. She wasn’t just talking to be talking, it was much deeper than that. She’s a Christian and I’m sure she already knew the “right” answer.

Philippians 4:7says The peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And that is the right answer, that kind of peace can only come from God. But she was digging deeper than that, she wanted to know the reason for the hope that I had and still have. What was it that made me so sure that Destiny was going to be okay? So, I went on to tell her of the Promise that God had given me when Destiny was going through her first set of scans. At that time we knew she had cancer but we had no idea what kind it was, was it just treatable or would it be curable? We didn’t know what stage it was or what we were facing. I was praying over Destiny as she was going into the big machine. Here’s what God said…..

Psalm 30:5 Weeping may endure through the night, BUT joy comes in the morning.

There is no denying that it came from God and there was no doubt that He was telling me that she was going to be okay. When God whispers to your heart like that, it’s unmistakable! After 5 months of chemo and 14 rounds of radiation she was given the all clear! God is so good! We can’t always see what God’s painting until He’s done with the picture. And there are some pictures that we’ll never see until we’re done with this life, but He is in control and we can ALWAYS trust Him. Things happen in life that are real hard to handle sometimes, but no matter how big lifes struggles may get, God is always bigger. He is our Jehovah Shalom – our peace,  and every storm we face He brings calmness, He is Jehovah Jireh – our Provider, He is El Shaddai – God Almighty, He is sufficient for our deepest needs, He is El Elyon – in control, Sovereign and we can go to Him with our circumstances, He is our Abba- Father, because we can run to Him and rest in the security of His everlasting arms! It’s awesome how God used that one question to remind me of not only how good He is, but also of His nearness. He is not a far away God. Yes! God is good! Let’s not stop seeking Him, let’s live to exalt Him everyday and in all our circumstances. I pray that everyone knows of His love and mercy.

John 3:16 says For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him, will not perish but have eternal life.

Now go back and replace the worldwith your name. Because even if Jesus died on the Cross for only one person He still would have done it. No matter who you are or what you’ve done His sacrifice is sufficient. You can never be “good enough” or work enough on your own to earn the Salvation that can only come from what He did for you. It’s a gift from God because of the love that He has for us.

Get Up!

                John 11:3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus “Lord, the one You love is sick.”

There are hurting people everywhere we look, (and more often than not we don’t have to look any further than our mirror). No matter where we are or where we go we can find someone who is in need. People are in pain, people are dying, people are sad all around us. Illnesses, death, divorce, loneliness, drugs and alcohol, all kinds of punches that life throws at us. What do we do? How do we find the strength to get up when we’ve been knocked down? What do we do when we see others knocked down? If we can’t get back up how are we going to help anyone else get up? As Christians we’re called to get up! You never hear Jesus tell anyone to “stay down” or “lay low”. Our life goal should be 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. I’ve never seen someone win a fight laying down! We are called to pray and encourage one another. Don’t shrink back when life throws you an upper cut. Call on Jesus, just like the sisters of Lazarus did, “the one you love is sick” they said. Whens the last time we called out to Jesus for someone? Or went out of our way to encourage someone who was down? Or, are we the ones guilty of knocking them down with our words and with our actions? We’re supposed to be HIS hands and feet, not the devils. Sometimes we look so much like the rest of the world that non believers can’t tell the difference. We might wear our shirts with Christian logos on them or wear our Cross necklaces. And probably even make it to Church every time the doors are open, but do we have it on the inside, where it really matters? Sure we’re willing to stand in the shallow part of the Water, but we’re too afraid to go deep. Everyone goes through trials and temptations in life, there’s no exceptions! Seek God’s face, call on the Name of Jesus.

John 11:4 When He heard this, Jesus said,”This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (There was a higher purpose for Lazarus’ life than just his circumstances…. we have a higher purpose too!) Verses 5 and 6 says Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days. The Bible goes on to tell us that He goes back to Judea (where Lazarus was) even though the Jews there before had tried to stone Him. He wasn’t afraid. He tells us over and over again in His Word to not be afraid. But when something comes our way that moves us out of our comfort zone, we fall apart. Why? If Christian means follower of Christ why aren’t we following HIS example? I know we’re only human and we’re nowhere near perfect. It’s definitely okay to cry and get down occasionally but why are we staying down? Why are we not getting back up?

When Jesus returns to Judea John 11:17 He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. And after talking to and comforting Lazarus’ sisters the Bible says He wept. John 11:35 He wasn’t crying because He thought there was no hope, He was crying because of the compassion He had for the people. Jesus goes to the tomb and after the stone to the entrance is moved…. He called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them “take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Get up! Take off your grave clothes, wipe your face off, stop wallowing in your circumstances, come out! The only one going to show up for your pity party is the devil. God is calling us to get up and come out! The victory has already been won…. even death can’t beat us. When Jesus rose on the third day He conquered death! There will be obstacles but God has made a way. When there looks like there’s no hope, Jesus shows up! Get up…. you were made for such a time as this, but you can’t move forward for God if you’re laying down with your grave clothes on. God wants us to get up! Need a hand? Reach up to God. Know someone who needs a hand? Point them to Him. He’s always reaching for us but we have to choose to take His Hand.

Psalm 91:14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him for he acknowledges My Name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him My Salvation.

 

 

Holding The Masters Hand

I don’t even know how to start this one. I just can’t seem to find the right words or maybe it’s all still too fresh. Or maybe I’m still just absolutely stunned by how good God has been to me and my family this year. I’ve tried to write this at least 5 times now and I just can’t find the right words! Bare with me as I try…..my 13 year old daughter Destiny, was diagnosed with cancer on January 25th of this year. We were told on February 2nd that she had a tumor in her right lung and all the lymphnodes from her diaphram up was covered in cancer. She was stage 4. The cancer was Hodgkins Lymphoma. I remember as they took her back into surgery her looking at me with tears running down her face, she said ” I’m scared.” I asked her what she was most scared of, and she replied that she was scared of going into surgery by herself, I reminded her that she wasn’t alone. God was with her. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was watch her being wheeled in one direction as I walked the other, knowing that she was afraid. This would begin my journey to learning what it really meant to wholeheartedly trust God. You see, I had thought I trusted God, but now there was absolutely no other option. I prayed, I begged, I pleaded with God. Sometimes no words would even come but the tears were there and all that I could find the energy to say was “God I need You”. And He was always there with me surrounding me with His peace and comforting me with His goodness. Reminding me that there was hope. Whispering His promises back to the innermost parts of my being. Reminding me to trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

As a mom I’ve prided myself in always being there for my kids and “fixing” them when they were hurt or sick, but this one was totally out of my control. I was learning to …..trust God with all of my heart….. And everytime my mind wondered too far ahead I would get terrified, but God was right there to remind me that everything was going to be okay, I just needed to trust Him.

Psalm 30:5 ….weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. God gave me this promise very early on and I came back to it over and over again. God said, you may be in the dark place of the tunnel right now but just hold My Hand I’m gonna walk you through it and there will be light at the end. And that’s the promise He gives all of us who are called His children. You don’t have to face another day in this dark, scary, and uncertain place alone.

Isaiah 41:13 says For I am the Lord your God, Who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘do not fear I will help you’. What an awesome God He is! He could’ve stopped when He made the way for us to have salvation through His Son Jesus, but He didn’t. He walks with us hand in hand everyday so that we will never have to face anything on our own in this life! If God is for us who or what can be against us? Nothing that we face or will ever face will be bigger than God.

There’s a whole lot more to this story that I plan on sharing but for now I will end by telling you that on August 15th, Destiny will be getting her port out because she no longer has cancer! Thank You Lord.

Who Am I?

Some days I feel so inadequate, like no matter what I do I continuously fall short. Always wondering what people are thinking, how do they see me? WHY do I care? Sure I should care somewhat but not to the point that I let it influence my every move. I shouldn’t base my decisions because of what others might think. Peoples opinions don’t/shouldn’t set the mark for me to be who/what I am. I think when Jesus said deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me He meant totally denying myself, even my downfalls and insecurities. Even if I feel like I’m going to pass out or I’m shaking all over….. do it anyway. Speak out even when it’s uncomfortable. Stand up for whats right even if your the only one. What does it mean to deny ourselves? Living for Gods will and denying my own desires, not allowing selfish ambitions or negative thoughts to hold me back from Christ’ work. Stop caring what I look like or what I sound like and letting God use me even when its uncomfortable, when I’m unsure, insecure and just really don’t think I can. Moses had a great calling on his life, to lead Gods people out of Egypt, out of slavery. And even Moses questions himself in Exodus 3:11 he says to God, “WHO am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Isrealites out of Egypt?” Has God ever asked you to do something and you answer Him by questioning Him!?! He’s God, yet we question whether or not He knows what He’s doing! (Don’t worry I’m guilty of it too!) But He answers us the same way He did Moses in vs. 12 “I will be with you…..”It doesn’t matter who we are, what we look like, how much we have to give, or whatever else it may be that we tell ourselves at the time as to why we can’t do something. The Gospel is not about us, it’s about Who He is and what He did for us on the Cross at Calvary. But Moses continues to doubt himself in 4:1 ….”what if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘the LORD did not appear to you’?” and I love what God does here vs. 2 Then the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” Did you see that?! God will use whatever is in our hands if we allow Him!! Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, even our circumstances….. give it to God and let Him show us what He can do with it! Moses had a staff in his hand, whats in yours?

In vs. 10Moses continues to plead with God… “O Lord I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”and here is Gods answer, vs.11-12 …”Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and teach you what to say.”God promises He will help us but just like Moses and some of you who are reading this, I still will doubt myself from time to time. I doubt myself as a wife, as a mother, as a friend, in my job…. even as a Christian. So how do we rise above our doubts and fears (deny ourselves) and believe what God tells us? Who am I? I may continue to doubt my fleshly being but I will never doubt who God says I am. I am a child of God (John 1:12), I am a branch of the True Vine (John 15:5), I am a friend of Jesus (John 15:15), I have been justified and redeemed (Romans 3:24), I am NOT a slave to sin (Romans 6:6), I am a fellow heir with Christ (Romans 8:17), and I am accepted by Christ! (Romans 15:7)

 Luke 9:23 Jesus said,” If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” It’s going to take faith to deny ourselves, our doubts and fears, and allow Christ to live through us. Pray continually and seek His will for our lives. We can do it because God says so! So I’ve made this promise to myself and I hope you use it too the next time God calls us to step out, let’s ask ourselves, WHO AM I? I’m Gods…. That’s who I am!

God bless you for reading and I pray that God guides and directs your every move today. Amen.