Faith is a Choice!

“Feed your faith and starve your doubts” ~Kenneth Hagin

Fork in the road

 

NFL player for the Baltimore Ravens had 3 dogs. One of these was a Canary Mastiff that Terrence Cody paid $4000 to purchase, and an additional $4000 to import. Out of three dogs, only two dogs were allowed to live inside the home, while the other dog was housed in a crate in the garage. The garage dog ~the $8000 Canary Mastiff~ was ignored, neglected, abandoned, and literally starved to death! The dogs living inside the home, prospered and were in great health.

As I read this article, I was appalled and angry.  To make us all feel a little better, Cody did go to jail for his crime. But I had one burning question that I have not found the answer to: WHY starve one and not the others?????

As I read this, the Lord begin to relate this real life tragic account to the battle that rages in all of us between fear and faith. We will inevitably feed one, and starve the other.

Jesus Follower, singer and song writer Jason Upton once said, that we will put our faith in fear over and over, even though fear disappoints us time and time again.

I want us all to think about that. We WILL put faith in something, so why not put our faith in Jesus Christ? Here’s what fear says: you will fail; you won’t amount to anything; your new boss is going to hate you; you’re stuck in this dead end job; you’re a terrible parent; you’re forgotten, you’re in this all alone, and on and on and on. This doesn’t even cover all of the fearful unknowns and what if’s!! Ask yourself this question…….do you want to hear that everyday????

Here’s what our faith will tell us, “. . .For He – God ]Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!” Hebrews 13:5 ampc

Ask yourself the same question…..do you want to hear THAT everyday from a loving Heavenly Father; your warrior and defender; your provider and healer; your deliverer and your Salvation! If you want to hear positive encouragement everyday, for the rest of your life, THEN FEED YOUR FAITH and starve your fear. Choose life!

Let faith live with you, and put your fear out of doors! Did you know that the most frequent command in the Bible is: do not be afraid; fear not; and do not fear! WOW! Let that sink in for a moment. Now apply that good old common sense God gives each of us……why do you think He tells us do not be afraid?

Many are the reasons, but one is this: fear will always undermine faith and stop us dead in our tracks. Fear is crippling, but Faith in Jesus Christ sets the captive free! We cannot travel down two roads. We can’t ride the fence. You must make a choice.

Faith is a choice!
Fear is a choice!

So choose life! The choice is yours.  Fear is always out to get you, and will leave you laying in the dust: crippled and wounded. But Faith in God is always out to prosper you. God’s plans for us are good and will prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11).  It is His desire that we prosper and remain in health (3 John 1:2). God said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down relax My hold on you! Assuredly not” (Hebrews 13:5 ampc)!

“Feed your faith and starve your doubts” ~Kenneth Hagin

 

 

 

 

 

When I’m in the Valley, He Points To The Mountain Top

I went through one of the darkest most difficult times in my life over a decade ago. I was deep in the Valley, suffering grief, loss, and  financial hardships. I literally could not see my way out: no light at the end of the tunnel. My ship was sinking, and I was desperate!

What I learned was….I was desperate for God! Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I got on my face before my loving and compassionate Father. He held my hand through every challenge; through every pain; through every shed tear; through every fear; through every attack; through my grief, anger, resentment,un-forgiveness, and isolation. He held my hand while I experienced every hard emotion of my rock bottom.

He taught me how to pray; how to find contentment and joy in the smallest of things. He taught me how to read His Word, and the Holy Spirit gave me understanding. He would encourage me every day to not give up. His grace taught me how to brush myself off as I made mistake after mistake. He taught me how to forgive, how to love Him, others and myself.  NO, my situation did not change right away, but my outlook did. He turned my focus from the valley toward the mountain where He was taking me.

“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3

God held my hand in the valley, all the while lifting my head toward the mountain top. I want to encourage you today.  If you are walking in the valley, you are not alone! Your Father is with you! I can assure you that this” valley season” will not last. Hold fast to hope! Hope fast to your faith! There is a mountain top waiting with your name on it!!!

“God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not,  I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!” Hebrews 13:5 ampc

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 msg

Feeling like Jupiter

The planet Jupiter’s iconic red spot is actually a storm of monumental proportions. This red spot has become a distinguishing characteristic for children trying to identify planets. Imagine three Earth’s put together….that’s how big this storm is. Furthermore, it’s been raging for hundreds of years with winds that reach 425 miles per hour!!

In 1969, Camille, a category 5 hurricane brought 190 mile per hour sustained winds when it made landfall in Mississippi. And who can forget 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast states with winds reaching 174 miles per hour.  Just days ago, Hurricane Florence hit our Southern East Coast with wind gusts up to 105 miles per hour.

These furious winds, combined with atmospheric pressure changes, force the ocean to rise beyond its borders creating what we call storm surge.  This results in devastating and destructive flooding. These catastrophic storms are deadly and costly, but thank God they do not last for hundreds of years like Jupiter’s red spot.

Over the years many scientists have pondered not only the size of the red spot, but they are curious as to why this storm hasn’t fizzled out after a few centuries. From start to finish, the average hurricanes here on Earth are measure by hours or days.

Hurricanes always form over the sea, and take days to develop, and grow in size and strength. The warm moisture from the ocean actually fuels the storm. So what eventually stops the hurricane? Without fail, the moment it makes landfall, the storm begins to degrade and lose momentum because it has lost its fuel. Secondly, the solid ground creates friction, further compromising the storm’s structure. Conditions become unfavorable for the storm. Simply put, it falls apart, and will soon come to an end.

Solid ground! That’s the answer! That’s the reason Jupiter’s storm has been raging for centuries. Jupiter: this giant ball of gas, has no solid ground and no defense against the raging storm.

Thank God that HE is our Solid Rock! He is our defense and safe place!

The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer. My God is my rock—I take refuge in Him!—He’s my shield, my salvation’s strength, my place of safety.” Psalm 18: 2 ceb

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:2 nlt

He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life. My help and glory are in God —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for Him. God is a safe place to be.” Psalm 62:6-8 msg

Are you feeling a bit like Jupiter?  You may be weary from the storm, and your flesh and your heart may fail….. but God will be your Rock and He will give you strength….. always.  (Psalm 73:26 ampc)

Draw near to God (your solid ground), and He will draw near to you, and the pressures of your storm will dissipate. “He will heal your broken heart and He will bind your wounds!” (Psalm147:3)

I thank God that He is our firm foundation, and our solid ground! He makes our storms fall apart!

A Changed Mind….An Unchanged Circumstance

Peace iv

While many may not admit it, Christians often struggle with doubt, anxiety, tormenting thoughts, fear, and the like. All of which will promptly steel your peace and be long gone before you even realize it. The thief in the night, you might say. I’ve been there recently. And this is the comforting word the Holy Spirit gave me:

My circumstances do not have to change in order for me to experience God’s freedom from tormenting thoughts. I can have God’s peace in the midst of a stressed filled situation!
His grace is enough!

Your circumstance may not change, but your mind can!!!! Keep your thoughts fixed on God, and He is sure to keep His promise of peace!

 

 

My Weapon! My Praise! My Prayer!

Prayer is my weapon
Prayer is my praise
Prayer is my connection to the God of my days

Crying out in grief; in sorrow; in utter desperation
My aching heart soothed in a wash of anticipation

As He bends down to listen
To every word spoken

Every sound, every thought, making its way
To my Father who knows I’m broken

Who collects my tears, knows my sorrows and removes my fears
He holds my hand every step of the way
Lifts my head, turns my sorrow to praise

He hears it all! My petitions made known!
Boldly brought before His throne

There I stand after having said all,
Voicing my worship to the God of my soul

Praising Him for Perfect Love covering imperfections
Seeing beyond faults
Transforming me to His reflection

He only, deserves my attention
My thoughts, my ways
Worshiping a God that defies comprehension

His thoughts, His ways much higher than mine
Yet on me His love does shine

Overcome and amazed, my heart in awe
Standing still in His Presence
Know that HE! IS! GOD!

A Warrior before me Who teaches me to fight
With weapons of warfare full of His might

Armed by His Word on the tip of my tongue,
I speak out truths that have already won
The battle. I will not be discouraged, I will not be afraid

Because I know that prayer is my weapon
Prayer is my praise
Prayer is my connection to the God of My days

by Tracey Ray

Psalms 3:3, Isaiah 41:13, Psalms 116:2, Psalm 56:8 , Psalms 34:4

Greater Things Happen When You Let Go

“Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

To hold onto “something” is to try to maintain your sense of control….to doubt that God can handle it. So we keep deceiving ourselves that WE got this! We don’t want to admit that we fear letting go. We are afraid to lose control: but in truth, we never had control.

God is in control. The buck stops with Him. He is Sovereign. Supreme. The Creator is in control of His Creation. Who better to release my “something” to than my Creator?

I can assure you that God is far more capable to handle life’s problems than we are. We are limited. God is not!

Look at it this way.

I’m restricted to natural ability, but God is unleashed in supernatural power.

I am lacking, but God is abundant and bountiful.

My knowledge is obstructed and hindered, but God is All Knowing.

I am limited in every way, but God is limitless in all ways.

I may be weak, but God is strong.

I fail, but God never fails!

I am faulty, but God is Perfect in all His ways.

From this perspective, the answer seems clear. Release your “something” to the Almighty, All Powerful, All Knowing, All Sufficient God, and allow Him to release the fullness of His power over your situation.

There is peace and comfort when we let go and let God take over. Greater things happen when we let go. I want greater things, don’t you? Unleash His fullness over your life today, and know that HE IS GOD!

 

Come Out Of Your Hiding Place: It’s Not Safe There Anymore

Have you ever gone through a hardship, and you didn’t want to share it with anyone? But this trial dominates your every waking moment, and even invades your dreams. It seems to last so long, it has become part of you: changing your demeanor, steeling your joy and causing you to become impatient. You bring this crippling secret with you to work, and back home again.  It rides with you to church and back home again. You’re doing a great job hiding your storm.…your suffering…. And your burden.

This is MY story! Years ago I would hide my trials, and I did a good job of it. But WHY? Friends, that is the million dollar question! And I have some million dollar reasons! Don’t we all? By nature, I’m a relatively quiet person that doesn’t like a lot of drama. And I didn’t want to be THAT person that always has an issue. You know, THAT person you avoid when you see them coming? So there’s that.

But I was afraid of what people would think; afraid they would think I’m weak; afraid they would judge me harshly. And some pretty significant past hurts caused me to withdraw and distrust people. I basically kept everyone at arm’s length. When you boil down my million dollar reasons, only one thing remained: fear! Fear was driving me to hunker down behind a wall and harbor my storms and hardships like a dirty little secret. But hiding my trials wasn’t as safe as I thought it was.

I felt so alone! And boy was I tired. I was carrying a weight and a burden I wasn’t meant to bear. I thought I was casting my care on God (1 Peter 5:7); I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping this between me and God…….so I thought.

This is why we shouldn’t rely on what we THINK we know: rely on what God knows. (Proverbs 3:5)

I relentlessly pounded out my prayers and maintained my sleepy faith, so I just knew that change was coming. And it was, just not quite how I thought. I expected God to speak to my storm and tell it to be still, but instead He spoke to me and told me to be still and listen. Not once does He talk about my situation. Not once does He mention one single thing about the hard time I was going through. Not one thing.

Instead God tells me to let my walls come down, and to let others in during my trial instead of afterwards. God explains that it is important for others to see His glory revealed in the midst of my difficulty.  He tells me to stop hiding my storms, and that I’ve been depriving others of walking in their God-given gifts to encourage me and lift me up with prayer and spiritual support.

God will use whatever means He so chooses to help me, and in this case His gentle rebuke made me aware I was limiting God’s power by limiting God’s people. God used my storm to teach me before He carried me through to the other side.

I had to become vulnerable again, and connect with His people. It was a risky proposition that scared me to death: but it wasn’t safe to stay hidden behind my wall anymore. It didn’t mean that people wouldn’t hurt my feelings, and it could mean that someone might indeed think I’m weak. But remember, I’m not relying on man. I’m trusting in what God told me to do. So I did it.  It wasn’t easy, but it was extremely freeing. I began to feel the weights lift off of me. I didn’t have to bear my secret storm alone. I didn’t have to be perfect. Doing what God asked of me, took the pressure off that I had placed on myself…that fear had placed there. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than ours. Thank God for that, because what *I* was doing wasn’t working. Sometimes WE think we have it all figured out, and we are just too stubborn to make a change.

I encourage you to learn from my mistakes. Please don’t shut out God’s people: be still and listen to HIS strategy for overcoming trials. Galatians 6:2 clearly tells us to “Help carry each other’s burdens. In this way you will follow Christ’s teachings.” There are folks eager to help you in your time of need, just like they were for me, and God will lead you to the right people.