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Never Stop Praying

I recently went through a major disappointment – I had been praying about a certain situation for a long time only to find out something that would seemingly make that happening impossible. But here’s the thing, all along the way, I truly believed I felt God leading me in that direction. (No, I’m not going to tell you what I’m talking about). So what do you do when you feel God leading you one way and don’t understand how it could possibly happen?

“Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

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Alright, now go have a good day, that’s your verse of the week.

No, I’m kidding. But seriously, if you truly believe that the Holy Spirit is leading you to do something don’t give up on it. Some things take time. Some things take a hell of a lot of prayer.

Now, I want to unpack that a little bit. I don’t know if this thing is going to happen, but I trust that God is working all things for my good because I love Him (Romans 8:28 NIV). So I trust that if it’s for my good, it will happen. 

Sometimes praying is all we can do. And I don’t mean that it should be a last resort. Here’s what I mean:

#1 Sometimes the only thing that we can do for the situation is to pray, because nothing else will help.

#2 Prayer is literally more important than anything else you can say or do, so to rely on prayer and prayer alone is not weak but the strongest thing you can do.

Now go pray and have a good week, y’all,

Amanda

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Waiting on God’s Timing

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“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

First thing’s first: listen.

Don’t rush whatever it is that you want.  If you are clearly being lead to by the Holy Spirit to “wait” there’s a reason for it!

If it’s not so clear whether the answer is “wait” or “no.” That doesn’t mean keep trying.  You can put it aside for now to see if God leads you back to it. If not it wasn’t meant to be in the first place.

In the mean time, grow closer in your relationship with God, listen for His leading and grow in your relationships with others.

If it’s others you’re waiting on, be patient and graceful with them.  Reflect God’s grace and love with them through it. Help them, distance yourself when you need to and allow them to do the same, but always be there to encourage them in their faith as well, even if you can’t do it face to face.

It is not following God’s plan for your life to disobey Him and rush anything before He had it planned for you.  Don’t, it will be better for your life and significantly better for your relationship with Christ to obey Him.

Second, be willing to allow God to work in this season of your life!

He’s going to work whether you “let” Him or not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fully submit to His authority over your life so that He can better use you. You can grow significantly in a season of waiting.  They can be some of the sweetest seasons when you look back on them, even though they don’t feel like it at the time.

Even at 18 I’ve had enough seasons of waiting to prepare me for a lifetime. They’re not fun, and they may seem like you’re at a standstill.  They’re often a season of immense growth, though. But God’s always at work, even if you don’t see it.  We may not be able to see His work today, tomorrow, or during our lifetime, but His plan will prevail.

“The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken — who can change his plans? When his hand is raised, who can stop him?” Isaiah 14:27 NLT

We serve an all-powerful God, so when He is leading you to wait on something, there’s good reason.  Trust in that.  There’s better for the moment or possibly even for the future..

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“Come to Me.”

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I have been hearing these words from God for days.  Instead of going to the One who saved my soul with my burdens, it’s easier to look everywhere else for answers. But here’s what Jesus says:

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NLT

There’s a few things about this that I want to address:

#1: It’s a command.

Jesus doesn’t say “Come if you want.”  It’s not up in the air of whether or not you should seek refuge in Him.  He says do it.  Why does He command us to seek refuge in Him rather than in something else?

#2: He knows what’s best for us: Himself.

Jesus doesn’t command us to seek refuge in Him to hold us there and never let us leave.  When we do seek refuge in Him, we wouldn’t want to leave.  Why would we want to walk away from someone that would lay down His life for us? Someone who offers eternal life with Him, a full and abundant life, and to give us rest from the burdens of this world? Our rest needs to be in Him and in nothing else.  We can try to find rest other places, but ultimately God has to the source of rest for our souls.

Just seek Him and you find that He was there all along, waiting for you to turn to Him.  He wants you with all of your junk.  Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, that junk doesn’t matter any more.

 

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I Don’t Make Plans

"Road" by Daniele Marcucci taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/chibuz/2544464654/in/photolist-4SR3Gf-8v88Q5-cdAGUs-8J6Csu-rneWMX-7CDhR4-7g2mpG-6J6kv7-7RbVA8-5qpkUT-8So1SK-cZ9EHf-hbAzGZ-3tSNxQ-6tiZfk-fQ7HN3-EFnhdz-35fmmp-7CDhTg-5aTQPQ-6HJVbT-5EW7JU-JYBj7-fdhfUR-bWenqH-FACZAE-d8Ne1N-7NYdeR-ecJ2ea-dbG7De-6JgtQ8-bjKENV-4Bo5g-5d3Jyp-9saARK-bDqiv1-pMjEe2-4r763U-pmUXEd-frzX4b-5jbTAb-JFbkk-8keTpq-btb3ei-e6EKzr-9y2Soa-pzB6LC-88AcqS-6soVY-6HydVy
“Road” by Daniele Marcucci taken from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

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Let me clarify before we start, I’m not saying I don’t make plans for the near future.  Like this week, next week, next month. We’re talking about the more distant future in this post.  But in all reality, God can change any of our plans if He wants to.  I really am a planner when it comes to the near future.  But when it comes to my future plans, I’m not.

Yes, I have goals and dreams that may sound like plans but they’re not.  My only plan is to follow God wherever He leads.  And that may be somewhere completely and totally different than I intended, so why make plans of my own when God knows exactly where I belong?

“‘For I know the plans I have for you, ‘ declares the LORD ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Who was God addressing in this? The nation of Israel when they were exiled in Babylon.  Even though they were in a terrible situation, He still had a plan for them.  So does this verse actually apply to us as individuals as well? Yes of course it does, there is a spiritual principle that is to be passed down here.  But the context of the verse must be understood. God’s plan wasn’t to take them out of exile.  It was to prosper them right where they were.

Our plans and God’s plans may look like exact opposites at times.  I used to hate writing, then God gave me a passion for it.  I don’t know what roads He’ll take me down in my life, so why would I try to plan out every detail of my life?

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Living in Our Own Little World

My view from the plane flying into Cancun last week!
My view from the plane flying into Cancun last week!

 

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This was a breathtaking sight after being pretty anxious about my plane ride to Mexico.  Especially knowing that I was about to land and within a few hours my feet would be in the sand (to my disappointment, the beach on my resort wasn’t that nice, but we could walk just up the beach to a gorgeous lagoon.) Anyways, I got a little sidetracked there, sorry.

On our flight, I was thinking about how easy it is to only see life from our own point of view and get caught up in our own “little” lives, if i might call them that, and forget about the world around us.  I was reminded last week that there’s an entire world out there beyond this little world I’m living in.  This doesn’t apply to everyone, but a lot of us –including myself– tend to isolate ourselves from the world around us so that we don’t have to see the pain and suffering of others.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV (Verse of the Week)

Why do we do that?

We don’t know how to approach people we don’t know anymore (especially my generation).  But that’s okay.  Messily approaching someone is better than not approaching them at all.  Just go in with an attitude of compassion and genuine concern for them and we might create real relationships.

We’re scared to get hurt ourselves. We think that if we get too connected and care too much about other people’s feelings we will hurt with them and I think we’re afraid of that.

We can’t be afraid.  We have to remember that there’s so much more than our normal circle, whether large or small We have to be around people that we aren’t always with in order to fulfill the great commission:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NIV

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Slaves to Unforgiveness (Part 2)

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“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” (Psalm 22:1 NIV)

How often, in some form or another, do we, like Jesus–use these words?

It’s okay for us to be mad or upset with God.  But we can’t be overcome with our anger. We have to be willing to go to God, even while we are mad at Him, and literally ask Him to help us to forgive Him. Because He’s the one who can heal our hearts; even when they are hard against Him.

We have to spend some serious time with God, including both some confession time and worship.  Because there might be things that you didn’t even realize you did in your anger against Him that will get in the way of your relationship with Him.  It’s incredibly easy to fall into a place of deep anger with God without even realizing it.

I’ve found myself completely overwhelmed lately, with schoolwork, with planning other things, with just flat out busyness. So I have to spend some time right now, even in my craziness and look back a year or so to where I was so mad at God that I honestly didn’t even want to pray. Because no matter how overwhelmed I am right now, I’m not in a place where my only thought is:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1 NIV)

The beautiful thing is, when Jesus said these words on the cross (Matthew 27:46), He knew that God could have saved His life yet God chose not to because Jesus, the sinless Son of God, came to earth to die for the sins of man.

God never abandoned me, He had already sent His son to die in my place before I was born. Any thought that He did just made me angry without even realizing i was angry. That brings me back to this week’s verse of the week:

“A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” 2 Peter 2:19 NIV

 

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Slaves to Unforgiveness (Part 1)

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I think it’s funny how God likes to use my own words against me in a “haha, not funny” kind of way.  I’m writing a devotional right now, so I’m going through and editing it and  came to a portion when I discussed forgiveness. I felt like I was getting a smack in the face.  From myself.

 

“A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” 2 Peter 2:19 NIV

There is a particular situation that I will not actually go into the details with that I let get into my head way further than I knew it could go.  I played out situations in my head with this person that I thought could happen that I knew would never happen because I thought they were mad at me or would turn the tables on me, when in all reality it was solely a one-way street.  I was the only slave.  I’m pretty sure they don’t have a clue that I’m upset with them, and what I wasn’t getting until now was, it doesn’t matter.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walking in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 4:32-5:2 NIV

As followers of Christ, we are called to strive to live as Jesus did.  This means forgiving others.  When we hold on to unforgiveness, we’re not truly loving.  We’re not acting as Christ would.

“A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” John 13:34 NIV

So, this whole time I just wanted to be heard.  To be listened to.

I had to come to the realization that I wasn’t going to change them.  I had to change my expectations for them.  Because in all reality, they weren’t fair.  I don’t get to expect people to act the same way I expect myself to act.  Nor do I get to expect people to be mind readers.

What did Jesus say about forgiveness? You forgive people over and over if they sin against you (Matthew 18:21-22).  He didn’t say just if they only offend you a little bit, or once you’ve relished in your anger a little bit, then forgive them. There were no conditions. Just like there are no conditions to our forgiveness.

Part 2 will be up tomorrow! 🙂

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Take Heart

941596_596980710311949_1072752366_nCourtesy of Amplify Church

Verse of the week: “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.”-John 16:33

I love this verse and always have. It’s my favorite verse. And we can all relate to it.

All of us will have troubles. We are all going to have trials and struggles that will make us say to ourselves, “I can’t do this anymore.”

And that’s when we run away from God. And that is just what Satan wants: for us to run away from God. Satan dresses himself up as everything we ever wanted and tempts us and wants to take everything away from us that we have with God.

And he will.

If we let him.

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

We need to trust in God because He is the only thing in this world who can help us; the only one in this cruel world that can quench our overwhelming thirst and desire to be heard and have good things come out of it.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”-Romans 8:38-39

God is going to love us no matter what. And that amazes me. This unconditional love never ceases to amaze me. A man died on a cross over 2000 years ago so we could live.

So, my question for you is:

Will you take heart?

 

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“Give Thanks to God”

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Verse of the Week: “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 NLT

Today I give thanks to God.  It marks 10 months seizure free.  When I look back over the last 10 months, I see a lot but what I see the most is growth.  I have grown in my relationship with God so much as a result of struggling in the past 10 months and can actually say that I am at the point where I can 100% agree with Paul when he wrote:

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he say, ‘My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.’  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT

The funny thing is, I found this passage right around the time that I was diagnosed with epilepsy.  Right when I needed it most.  Right when I needed to hear that an apostle begged God to take his pain away from him.  But God didn’t take it, because He knew what was best for Paul.  Just like He didn’t take my epilepsy away when I begged Him to, because God’s perspective is eternal, while mine is momentary, because that’s all I physically can see.

In what seemed like a long time span, that was really was not at all, God has literally used epilepsy to actually be a blessing in several ways that I can already see, including being in the process of writing a book, graduating from high school a year early, and getting my pup (pictured above!)

As a result, I can now see that God put this obstacle in my life to strengthen me and stretch me so that He could use me and therefore I can be thankful for God’s ability to see the greater picture when I can only see what is happening in this moment. When we still give thanks to God in the deepest pain, that witnesses to our relationship with Jesus Christ the most powerfully.

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Fear of Fulfilling the Great Comission

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This week’s Verse of the Week is Acts 1:8- Stop.  Do you know what this verse is?  Before I include it, (I’ve linked to it, so you can look at the whole verse at the bottom of this post!) this should be one of the defining verses of our faith. So why isn’t it one that we know by heart?  It’s been on my heart a lot lately that we do not know this enough and therefore fail to act on it, so you’ll probably see this verse popping up a lot.  And when I say a lot take my word for it. 🙂

Acts 1:8

How come this statement of Jesus isn’t written everywhere? I’m going to break it in half, because I believe there are two reasons that have are also one in the same.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Acts 1:8a NLT

To be completely honest, I think we’ve gotten really good at focusing on God the Father and Jesus Christ in the church and shying away from truly talking about the Holy Spirit.  Why?  We’re scared.

We’re scared we might scare people.

We’re scared we might say the wrong thing (we probably will and we do all the time about other things too which is okay because we’re humans, too.)

We’re scared people might get too spiritual.

Yep, I said that.  What if people actually started doing crazy things in the name of Jesus instead of sitting in church on Sundays and Wednesdays and went and did something about what they believed.  What if they started saying people were going to be healed and believed it? What if they started a new business that was completely and totally honoring to God?  What if that drew them away from the amount of time they spent at church?  I think the church is afraid of that.

“‘I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.’ You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!'” John 14:12-14 NLT

Why?

We’re scared that the this “radical” faith might scare people that are totally comfortable not living that way and they might stop coming to church.

We, as in the Western church, might actually face some sort of persecution.  People aren’t particularly bothered by others going to a meeting on Sundays and Wednesdays.  When they start to get annoyed is when they actually defend and live out their beliefs.  That’s when we’ll run into some road blocks.  Here’s the thing.  Jesus said we are supposed to be persecuted, right?  So when we’re not being persecuted I think we need to look around and say, “We’re doing something wrong.” John 15:20

The Holy Spirit is a gift.  Why would we not appreciate and focus on such a gift?

“If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Luke 11:13 NLT

My second point still revolves around fear, but more around the fear of literally going and fulfilling the Great Commission which we are empowered to do because of the Holy Spirit.

“You will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8b NLT

We shake at the call to tell people about Jesus, especially if it means going out of our comfort zone as Jesus was saying we are to do here.  Sometimes that might mean moving halfway across the world.  To others it may mean staying where you are but going way beyond yourself in your ministry.  Reaching out to someone you would really rather not. Moving to that area of town where no one else really wants to go but you know that that’s where Jesus have you.    Whatever it means for you personally the function of the church as a whole depends on each individual member? Don’t believe me?

“The church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.” Ephesians 1:23 NLT

Can’t one body part being out of commission mean the whole body is as well? We don’t want the church to walk with a limp, do we?  We want it to thrive and for that to happen, it must be one, depending on each individual part to function as intended by God.

We have to trust that God has a plan for each individual member of the church.  We don’t get to choose that, as much as we might like to.  (When I was in high school I always hated writing, but it’s literally one of my favorite things to do now.  Why? Because I’m doing it to glorify God and it gives me joy.)

 

 

“But you receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere– in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NLT  This is the Great Commission! Jesus’ last words; we value all of Jesus words but we should especially value these.

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“Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you.” John 15:20 NLT

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