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

Releasing Faith & Power; Praying Scriptures

There is nothing more powerful than praying out scriptures. I’ve been praying this prayer- these scriptures- below, and I wanted to share it with you. Change the pronouns to fit your dear loved one, and even pray this over yourself; and stand back and see the glory of God’s Word fulfilled!

God will direct and order __________________’s steps. (Proverbs 16:9, Psalm 37:23) And even though she has many plans, the Lord’s plans for her will prevail!  (Proverbs 19:21) Not only are His plans for her are good, (Jeremiah 29:11)  but when the time is right, God Himself will make it happen. (Isaiah 60:22)  With Love in His eyes, He will teach her, and give her instructions.  (Psalm 32:8) The Lord is her Shepherd, (Psalm 23:1) and He will continually guide her and will satisfy every need! (Isaiah 58:11) Her times are in His hands! (Psalm 31:15)

In faith, I declare this in the name of Jesus because I believe that God’s Word is full of power, and is alive and active for me and my family today!!

 

What I Say Matters

Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe!” Psalm 116:2 tlb

We had gone out to supper at a nice restaurant, with a pretty nice 45 minute wait. While waiting, a shadow caught my eye of someone  s-l-o-w-l-y walking toward the waiting area.  The shadow looked to be that  of an elderly person with a severely hunched back. I was already feeling sorry for this individual.

Then, the shadowy figure came into the light and I saw a father walking with his young son. This tall man was hunched over with arms around his son; and walking ever so slowly as to hang on his every word.

What could an 8 or 9 year old boy have to say to his father that is so captivating, as to garner such undivided attention in a busy restaurant? What can WE say to our Father that would garner His undivided attention?  The answer: SAY ANYTHING! SAY EVERYTHING!

Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe!” Psalm 116:2 tlb

Picturing this father and son is a great first step toward changing our image of, and our idea of who we THINK God is…………………furthermore, it’s a great first step in changing our idea of how we THINK God relates to us.

Simply put, God loves us, and He is eager to bend down His ear to listen to what we have to say. Never again let the enemy tell you that you are not important, and that what you have to say doesn’t matter. This scripture tells us differently. We are His sons and daughters.

 

Not Forgotten

“Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me” Psalm 66:20

I used to love to try out new recipes. Ya know, from scratch: the ones that don’t come in a box.  I would be excited to shop for every ingredient; thrilled to make sure my kitchen was clean and prepped; and then I’d make sure my day was dedicated to the big task ahead. I’m all in….fully invested. Before long, the kitchen is messy again, and I begin to wonder if this was such a good idea after all, not to mention my growing concern about how this new dish will turn out. Or worse, what if I neglect to turn the timer on and I forget it’s in the oven?

Sometimes we approach our prayers like this! We toil and labor over prayer and we don’t get desired results, or we simply forget about it.

Prayers can be like meals: some are done in 15 minutes, some are take hours in a slow cooker. You may even think God is the one who has forgotten about your petitions! He has not!

Isaiah 49:15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though SHE may forget, I WILL NOT FORGET YOU!”

Wow that is powerful!! Not only that, but He keeps all of His promises (2 Chronicles 6:14)! Whatever He has spoken WILL come to pass! No Word from the Lord will ever fail (Luke 1:37)!  He cannot tell a lie (Hebrews 6:18)! And He has not rejected your prayers (Psalm 66:20)!

God has not forgotten you or your prayers! So cling to the promises in His Word; cling the Words the Holy Spirit has spoken to you about your circumstances; These Words from God will come to pass, it’s only a matter of time.

Long after we’ve forgotten, God has NOT forgotten!
Rest assured that when the time is right, you will see the evidence of God’s faithfulness!!!

Isaiah 60:22 “When the time is right, I the Lord will make it happen.”

Into The Deep

At eight months old, my daughter didn’t know how to swim, much less hold her breath. Yet my husband would confidently carry her in his arms into the deep water of the ocean. This girl- who was still eating sea shells and sand, was fearlessly and joyously caught in the rapture of the moment. Why wasn’t she afraid? She was with her father.

WE can go into the deep with God. No more hesitation. No more excuses: you don’t have to be a Bible scholar…..you don’t have to be saved for a certain amount of time….you don’t have to know church etiquette…..and you don’t have to have your ducks in a row before venturing into the deep!  Let’ get caught up in the joyous and fearless wonder of Jesus Christ!! Don’t be afraid. You are with your Heavenly Father!

Take a moment in the Presence of God right now.  Click this link and let the words of this worshipful song become a prayer! Boldly go into the deep!!!

“Into The Deep” by Citipointe Live

Deep

VERSE
When my hands stretch out towards the sky
You never let me run dry
When I dive in-to the depths of You
My heart is made anew… Jesus in You

CHORUS
Your love is a flood and I’m
Caught in the current of Your living waters
It’s Your love… it’s Your love

Your Presence is a flood
And I’m caught in the wonder
You have taken me over
You have won… my heart

BRIDGE
Into the deep I will go with You
Sub-merge my feet… to my head in all of You
As your Presence falls
I am drowned in Your love
Immerse me….. immerse me

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

If You Want A Bonfire, Why Are You Collecting Twigs?

I love it when my husband Mike builds a fire for our indoor fire place or outdoor fire pit. The first thing he does is prepare. He walks around our yard gathering dry twigs and small sticks, also known as starter wood. He places the small twigs atop balled up newspaper and poof! Fire! But my husband doesn’t leave the fire, he watches and tends to it, because starter fires don’t last long as those dry twigs are too quickly consumed. Next step is adding larger pieces of dry wood to maintain a healthy strong fire.

I also love it when my husband shares with me spiritual nuggets he received during his private time with God. This devotion is one of his spiritual nuggets.  In sum, we all want a nice roaring spiritual fire at our churches. But we aren’t willing to put in the spiritual preparation time outside of church. That’s right, the fire at church doesn’t originate at church: it begins within the hearts of each one of us. But many people blame the Praise & Worship Team or the Pastor for not stoking their twiggy fire! If you want to experience the fire on Sunday, stop bringing twigs!!

“Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out.” Leviticus 6:13

It is our responsibility to fan the flames; to keep it burning by adding fuel; and then to lay down our sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15)! Spending time daily in the Presence of God is like cutting substantial pieces of fire wood that we can bring with us on Sunday: it keeps the fire continually burning!

Do we eat only once a week? Gas up the car only once a year? Tend the lawn only once each summer? Sleep only one night a week? Surely you see where this is going? We need to tend to our spiritual needs DAILY, just like we tend to our physical needs! No one else can do this for us. When we neglect the Presence of God, our flame dies out. If you want the fire, you’ve got the gather wood!

Victory is in Returning to the Battlefield

Keep going back to your prayer room! It is where the battle is won! The Holy Spirit taught me this years ago.

Don’t give up!
Don’t give in!
Never Retreat!

The victory is in returning to the battlefield (Your prayer room).

Satan knows there is power in our prayers. Prayer is our defense AND our offense. No wonder his mission is to stop those prayers.

Like a raging battle, he is bombarding us with attacks to intimidate us and scare us into retreat. Satan shows us casualties of war, and tells us victory is impossible; but God says nothing is impossible (Mathew 19:26); and we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)!

Satan will make you grow weary in waiting on answered prayer, in an effort to get you to give up; but God says they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Satan makes us think we are outnumbered, and that we are fighting this battle alone; but GOD IS FIGHTING FOR US (Exodus 14:14)!  and He will never, never fail us or forsake us (Psalm 23:4, Hebrews 13:5).

Satan wants us to abandon all hope…he may tell you that there is no help for you or your situation; but God gives help just in the nick of time, and He gives us grace for every situation (Hebrews 4:16).

Satan wants us to feel like our prayers are useless and ineffective; but God says the prayers of the righteous avail much (James 5:16). AND we have been made the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus, so our prayers are mighty through God (Romans 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:21)!

Remember: our enemy knows there is POWER IN OUR PRAYERS…..but do YOU  know there is power in YOUR prayers?. Stand on the truth of God, and rely on HIS promises. Every Word God has ever spoken WILL come to pass (Luke 1:37). No matter how bad your situation looks, no matter the odds stacked against you, no matter what…..always go back to your prayer room, it is where the battle is won!! You can’t take ground if you don’t return to the battlefield. Be strong! Be courageous! Do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)!!!

Do you doubt yourself; think you don’t know HOW to pray?
Do you have negative associations or ideas about prayer?
CLICK HERE if you feel like: My Prayer Isn’t Good Enough!

Is That What He Really Said???

Satan: Did God really say that you couldn’t have any of the fruit in the garden? Really?
Eve: No, that’s not what God said. Of course we can eat the fruit. There’s only one tree we’re supposed to avoid at all costs. It’s the tree in the middle of the garden. We could die if we even touch it, much less eat its fruit.
Satan: Well, that’s a lie!! Here’s the real truth: if you eat that fruit, you’re gonna be just like God: wise. You’ll know what He knows. You are definitely NOT going to die.
Eve: Hmm…let me reconsider. Maybe I did misunderstand what God said.

Eve takes a lot of ridicule from church folks and non-church folks. Everybody blames poor Eve for the struggles of this life, and she is the butt of many jokes. But I can identify with Eve’s conflict: I’ve been in her shoes recently.

A few weeks ago, God told me something….several times. It was just one word, but it was a very important word. A word that defined a course of action that I should take. A single word specifically for a family issue I was dealing with. Before I tell you the rest of the story, I want to point out a few things about Eve.

Consider that Eve walked with God daily!! She was accustomed to His voice, His ways and His love. In other words, she was as close to God the Father as any human could ever get. Furthermore, Eve did not seek the counsel of the Satan….he sought her out just as soon as God had spoken to her. I gotta tell ya, if Eve can be deceived: we can all be deceived. So, instead of being hard on her for chomping the fruit, perhaps we can learn something from her experience.

Now, the rest of my story. As soon as God gave me that one word, Satan paid me a visit. As with Eve, he began to offer me some unsolicited interpretation. It made sense to me……..at first. I began to think that this is what God meant by that one word. I almost munched down on some fruit myself, but something in my spirit told me to pray further; to come back to God again, presenting HIM with the word and asking HIM for clarity. God gave it to me, and it was nothing at all like the lie Satan tried to sell me. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite. I would have made a grave mistake for my family had I listened to Satan’s twisted reasonings.

So what do we learn from Eve’s account?

  1. God speaks to us
  2. Satan immediately challenges God’s word
  3. Satan offers free interpretations telling us what God really meant to say. In other words, Satan outright lies to us. He is the father of lies (John 8:44)
  4. We begin to look at God’s word differently. Factoring in the lie, we now re-evaluate and alter God’s word.
  5. After hearing both sides (God’s & Satan’s), Eve took matters into her own hands and relied on her own reasoning. One Bible version said, Eve was ‘convinced.’ What a fatal mistake. What will you do?

We never have to go to step 5. Don’t rely on what you think you know, rely on what God knows (Proverbs 3:5-7).  Always go back to The Source: God Himself. The Holy Spirit will provide clarity. Lastly, God cannot tell a lie (Hebrews 6:18). He will always tell us the truth!

They Have Stunkers

What a good reminder that God IS listening to me and responding to me. Furthermore, He is waiting on me to talk to Him.

Godspeaks2us

“Oh!! Mrs. Tracey, we are talking about bees.” And with a bit of pride three year old Marion says, “But don’t touch them, they have stunkers. If you touch them you could get stunk.”

While this childlike blooper brought a moment of comic relief, it did not interfere with our continued conversation about bees. I knew exactly what she meant.

And so it is with God. We don’t have to be perfect, and our conversations with God don’t have to be flawless. He isn’t looking for perfection and correctness. As a matter of fact, we learn from Mathew 18:3 that He wants us to come to Him like a child.

Before children learn to speak, they babble with confidence. They do so boldly; and frankly they are uninhibited by their circumstances or the adults around them. We’ve all heard a baby verbalize during the quietest moments of a church service…

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