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What If My Quiet Times Are Anything but Quiet?

I’m sitting in my oversized chair, Bible in one hand and journal in the other. The words, quiet time keep bombarding my head. What does “quiet time” really mean? I’m gazing out the window meditating on who God is as I watch the leaves blow on the trees. But my supposedly quiet time is interrupted with other thoughts.

My mind went back to a pamphlet I read years ago that spoke of “quiet time.” In this pamphlet were statements from women as follows: “She wakes up an hour before her kids. She spends time in the Bible, praying and journaling every day. She makes it a priority.” 

I kinda chuckled to myself and thought. The women in the pamphlet are correct about spending time with God---because that is vitally important. But, how realistically are they consistent in their routine of “quiet time?’

I no longer have the responsibility of raising children, so finding quiet time should be a breeze. Being able to spend hours in Bible reading/studying should be no problem. So why are there times when I find myself struggling during “quiet time?”

The thought often comes to mind if I’m doing “quiet time” right? Am I spending enough time in “quiet time?” Is getting up at the crack of dawn a prerequisite for “quiet time?” How can I quiet my mind during “quiet time?” Yes, I have all of these thoughts running through my mind during “quiet time!”

You see my struggle with “quiet time” does not consist of interference due to other people. My struggle with “quiet time” starts in my mind. My prayers have occurred at all times of the day, in a variety of places that usually are nothing but quiet. Under the cover of a shower I have let me tears fall at the feet of Jesus. In traffic while running errands I have desperately sought God’s direction. Other days sitting at my desk gazing at the computer asking for guidance as to what blog I should write, to the stares out of my window seeking a calm spirit.

My mind is not always neat and tidy. Sometimes there are seasons in life where I reflect and wonder if my efforts during “quiet time” are enough.

In one of Jesus most famed sermons, He spoke on prayer, saying. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Most of us are probably very familiar with this passage of scripture. But have you ever taken the time to notice the words that ARE NOT present? Hmmmmm…. intriguing? The words not present are: The “right words to say” when asking are not suggested.  A “perfect hour” to seek The Lord is not in the directions and prerequisites of “neat and tidy” when knocking is never mentioned.
The words not mentioned in this passage are not included because Jesus doesn’t demand perfection in our pursuit of God during “quiet time”. He encourages our persistence in the pursuit.

The “the right words”, “a perfect hour” and the “neat and tidy” are all conditions of being perfect when we come before Jesus in our pursuit of having “quiet time” with God. Jesus doesn’t want us to come to him steeped in perfection while in pursuit of Him, He wants us to come vulnerable and transparent.

The greatest thing about the words that are not present in this passage is it demonstrates a big grace-filled God who is more concerned with our relationship with him and not the words we say while trying to develop a relationship with Him.

Our Lord sees our not so neat and tidy minds, our daily shortcomings and the unanswered questions during our personal Bible study. He sees our unconventional “quiet time” locations and He knows those occasions when we have fallen asleep in the midst of prayer. Yet, He still loves us!
 
 
PEARLStoPONDER:  Any whispers of doubt attempting to discourage or condemn you in your pursuit of “quiet time” are from the enemy.
         
Jeremiah 29:13--And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Matthew 7:7-8--Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Romans 8:1--There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
 

When You’re Not Sure You Like the True You

Have you ever heard the phrase, “just be yourself?” Then someone says, “why are you wearing that?” or “You like that?” Within you become instantly uncomfortable being yourself.

I’ve even told myself, “just be yourself.” Especially when I’m getting ready to meet new people or walk into a situation where I feel a bit awaked or uncomfortable.

In the past, and yes even sometimes now, I think about if I’m the true me, others won’t like me. This isn’t something I’ve made up in my mind—I’ve face situations where I was the “real me” and faced people’s displeasures.

But I’ve learned and come to accept I cannot change people’s opinions of me. And more importantly I certainly should not be changing the way God made me! So, the questions are no longer “will others like me? “but “will I like myself?”

The funny part of this, God has something specific to say about how we think about how He made us. Scripture says:  “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” (Romans 9:20 ESV).

In this passage of scripture God calls Himself the molder of me (and you). As our Maker, He knew exactly what He was doing when He made us the way we are. Talkative, quiet, energetic, laid back, creative, or the one who often is just the observer. God knew these were traits He would use along with the gifts He has given each of us. The traits we possess when honed by God, will glorify Him.

When God made us, He knew exactly what He was doing! He knew you needed to be an extrovert or introvert, outgoing and energetic or laid back and quiet. God not only tells us to not question why He made us a certain way, but He gets to decide how He will use His creation!

I had to learn the true reason why we need to know in the depths of our souls who we are. God made us, what He made is good and He will use what He made for His glory!

 
PEARLStoPONDER: Thank you Father for making me exactly the way you made me! There is a part of me that I’m struggling with liking about myself. Help me that part of me the way you see and molded me.

Isaiah 45:9--“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’   or ‘Your work has no handles’?

Romans 9:20-- But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

1 John 4:19--We love because he first loved us.
 

Good Stress, Bad Stress, What’s the Difference?

In our fast-paced culture that is filled with so many uncertainties, finding balance often times feel impossible. There is so much pressure to fill up every moment of the day and the fulfillment of filling up every moment of our day is often looked at as an achievement. We all aspire balance. But the reality, balance is usually fleeting.

Where do we draw the line between the positive stress of taking care of family, meeting goals and being productive verses the bad stress that comes when we knowingly extend ourselves outside of healthy boundaries and live our life without limits.

God desires for us to live balanced lives. So how does one determine if they have lives filled with good stress or bad stress? And if burdened by bad stress how to gain balance for your life?

The balance for our lives happens when we can truthfully identify good and bad stress in our lives so that neither stress will become a burden. Granted, we all have some sort of burden that we carry. However, God does not intend for us to carry the weight of that burden alone. He wants us to give it to Him.

Good Stress happens when we get excited, our pulse gets faster and our hormones start pumping but there is no fear or threat associated with this type of stress. Good stress invigorates us! It usually comes when we are doing something we enjoy or choose to do on our own accord. One of the benefits of good stress is it helps us to grow resilience which equips us with the tools to stay emotionally healthy when faced with difficulties.

Bad Stress can also be known as distress. Identified by easily being agitated, having trouble winding down at the end of the day, feeling low self-esteem, fatigue and a general sense of feeling unwell. If not careful too much good stress can become bad stress!  

Our bodies are not made for chronic or constant stress (stress that you feel on a daily basis). This increases the likelihood that you will struggle with things like unanswered internal illness, anxiety and depression. No matter how exciting it is when we are able to “get to do something.” If we don’t give ourselves proper rest, the endeavors of “getting to do something” will start to leave us feeling overwhelmed or depleted, thus good stress turns into bad stress.

God desires for us to live a joy-filled life. Although we all go through difficult seasons, constant distress should not be our “normal.” 

Ultimately, the quest for balance involves seeking peace for our mind, bodies and homes. God’s gift to us is access to peace regardless of our circumstances.
 
Practical Ideas to Manage Your Stress
1. Figure out what is causing your stress. Journaling possible triggers. Once identified think about positive ways to minimize that trigger by adjusting attitude, incorporating prayer, readjusting schedules and or commitments.
2. Cultivate relationships you can rely on. Sometimes relationships can be a source of stress. Reevaluate all relationships and if needed re-establish new boundaries. On the other hand, healthy relationships can be a great source of comfort when you are feeling distress. Identify an accountable confidant that you trust to pray for and with you when you’re feeling stretched thin. Allow these people to carry some of the stress when you are feeling overwhelmed. 
3. Find things that you can do to help YOU de-stress. When we don’t allow ourselves the space to process our stress, we begin to experience more anger and frustration in our daily lives. Give yourself permission and space to release your stress by doing things that are joyful to you.
4. Get proper rest and get professional help when you need it. Sleep matters!!! When we don’t get proper rest, we become prone to putting ourselves in mental health danger. If you find yourself in a chronic constant battle with stress, anxiety, and depression, it is time to reach out for professional help. Never be afraid or ashamed to say “I NEED HELP!”
 
PEARLStoPONDER:  Because stress never goes away. It is important to be vigilant in investing in your own mental and physical well-being. Finding balance is an essential element of living healthy lives and being good stewards of our bodies.

Matthew 11:28-- Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

2 Corinthians 3:17-- Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

John 14:27-- Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
 

Learning to Persevere

According to dictionary.com perseverance is a steady persistence in a course of action; a purpose, a state; especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.

 Perseverance is essential in the journey of the Christian life. We do not mature without learning to persevere and we do not learn to persevere without trouble, storms and problems.

Keys in learning to persevere is to realize that trouble is normal. We must remember that God is with us in the storm and we should look for God to use us in our storm.

Use me in the storm? Yes!  I know, who really wants to be used in the storm? What we really want is to get out of the storm and to get out of it quickly. God does not wait until we get through the storm to use us. He will use us while in the midst of our storms, IF we allow Him to do so.

We’ve all been guilty of the trying to forecast any future storms by naively stating what we would do if found in a particular storm. We’ve also often looked back on past storms and share what we’ve learned from it. But God is NOT looking for the predicable hypothetical what you would do, or the reminiscing of what you did. God is looking for those who are willing to be used by HIM in the midst of the violent raging unpredictable storm.

A known biblical character, Joseph. He had been betrayed by his brother, kidnapped, taken to a foreign land, sold into slavery, falsely accused and thrown into prison. Whew! What a storm. Yet, even in the midst of Joseph’s troubles, he looked to God and asked God to use him.

I can hear the wheels in y’all heads churning…if I was Joseph, I would do….LOL. During Josephs storm he basically declares, “I cannot do this, but God can do this through me.” (Genesis 41:16). Throughout Josephs storms he lets God use him over and over again. Can we, will we, have we been able to say the same?

No matter how treacherous the storm, we always have a platform to be used by God. The platform is making God the goal and not just escaping your trouble.

I know, in the midst of the storm it’s challenging to focus on how we will allow God to use us, all we want is to escape the storm. And we often yell, “God get me out of this storm!”

A major tool in perseverance is having a higher goal. What is the higher goal than just escaping the storm?

Remember Joseph and his storm? Do you not think he wanted to be out of that storm? Of course, he did! But what he wanted more was to honor God in the midst of his storm {the higher goal}.

As we continue on our journey of perseverance, we will find ourselves like Joseph, transformed. Mature and complete with the understanding that storms will come and the realization that God is always with you. But the higher goal is to honor God through our lives by allowing Him to use us in the midst of the storm.


PEARLStoPONDER: Let’s not just get by in our storms. Let’s get better by growing in Christ through perseverance.

Psalms 40:1-5--I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

James 1:3-5--Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
 

Friend Wounds

You never saw it coming!! Out of nowhere your friend makes a remark that cuts you to the depths of your soul. With head turned and a dumbfounded look you’re wondering if you said something or did anything to trigger such a hurtful stinging remark that provoked such a fierce blow.

Had you misunderstood your friendship? Were you no longer friends and now enemies?

When we receive what I lovingly call “friend wounds” from someone who is supposed to love us can break our hearts and wound us in ways we never thought to imagine. “Friend wounds” shut us down and damages trust. It often leaves us with the questions “what happened and why did it happen?

Good news! Jesus experienced the same thing with His friends. Yet, He continued to love past the hurt of “friend wounds.” Can we love past the hurt? And what does loving past the hurt look like? I must admit loving past the hurt and the execution of loving past the hurt will be different for each friendship dynamic. Are we capable of loving past the hurt? Absolutely! The real question is are we willing to do what Jesus did, and love past the hurt of “friend wounds?”

As we know, neglected and buried wounds don’t heal, so it’s vitally important that we deal with them. God promises to help us deal with our wounds. When we bring our wounds to Him, He can mend our heart and teach us how to love past the hurt.

Loving past the hurt of “friend wounds” begins with the following:

1. Forgiveness: I’m sure at times you have been less than the perfectly attentive friend. Therefore, extend some grace to your friend as well as for yourself. The one who holds a grudge hurts the most. Remember God overlooks and takes a lot to remain in a relationship with us, so it’s ok to overlook some faults of your friend. (Colossians 3:13--Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye).

2. Be patient and constant in prayer: Learn to apply prayer to your emotional wounds often. Think of your prayer as medicine. The right medicine{prayer} will gradually heal “friend wounds” as well as the emotional trauma extending from the “friend wounds.” Healing is a gradual process. Therefore, exercise patience as you pray for your friend and the attitude of your heart. (Romans 12:12--Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer).

3. Extend an olive branch: Is it necessary to rehash all the gory details in order to make peace and move on? Granted depending on the wound, some things will need to be discussed. However, try seeking peace by going to your friend and saying, “I’ve sensed some tension and hurt between us, how can we make it right? This may not always work if the friend is not willing to communicate. But making the effort to reconcile (even if you were the one wronged) opens the door for communication and healing. (Matthew 5:24--Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift).

4. Don’t gang up: Often when we are wounded, we are tempted to recruit others to be on “our side.” This is not a good idea and usually doesn’t help. If you need advice to help navigate through your hurt, seek out counsel from someone who isn’t involved or genuinely able to remain neutral with the best interest of both people. (Proverbs 10:12-- Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins).

5. Occasional friendly fire is to be expected: Friendships involve people with different ideas and thoughts that usually coexist with no issues. However, there will be times when those same coexisting differences can cause a fire. The more we care about someone the more the fire from that person can hurt us. If we understand, even the best of friends there will be a little pain at times. Understanding this helps to minimize the hurt from the shock of the fire. It’s usually not the fire that causes the wound but the shock of the fire coming from your friend. (James 4:4-- From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?).

I know how badly wounds from a friend can hurt! But I encourage you to not seek revenge but to seek God’s face. Spend time in His presence to allow His love to heal you. Always remember God can create something beautiful out of each any wound, even the wound of a friend.
 
PEARLStoPONDER: At some point in our lives we have been hurt by a friend due to a thoughtless remark, selfishness, irritability or just downright meanness. You can view it as something terrible that will always hurt you or as something that God can use for His good and glory. Remember ALL wounds heal if the proper medicine is used.

Psalm 147:3--He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

Proverbs 20:22-- Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.

1 Peter 3:9-- Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
 

How Can I Hold on When it Feels Like God is Holding Out?

In today’s climate with all the unjust, unrest and uncertainties a scenario came to my mind. The scenario goes like this: “A little girl is all dressed up in her fancy dress, shoes and pearls. She has prepared snacks, decorated table, handmade napkins and tea. All she needed was her mom’s “special tea set.” Her mother was busy and said to the daughter give me fifteen minutes and I’ll get it for you. The little girl was so excited to present her tea party for her family that she could not wait the fifteen minutes for her mother to get the “special tea set.” So, the little girl took it upon herself to get it. All of a sudden, crash!! Glass is shattered all over the floor! Following were the sounds of a shrilling wail. The mother knew what happened. The little girl sobbed over the wreckage at her feet. She cried, “mom I’m sorry, I got tired of waiting and I wasn’t sure if you would keep your promise of getting me the “special tea set.” “I wish I would have been more patient the little girl sobbed.”

As I think about all the shattered glass in people’s lives today, whether it’s literal glass or the shattered glass of hope, it brings to mind that faith without patience falls short thus leaving us sobbing over shattered glass.

The little girl in my head scenario wanted to trust the word of her mother, but without patience she didn’t have the fortitude to wait for its fulfillment. We too are often times like this little girl. We say we trust God but we don’t have or we choose not to exercise patience to wait for the manifestation.

As I pondered on my head scenario, I thought, I trust God’s Word. I believe if He says it, He will do it. However, in the midst of me pondering, I also realized trusting God to keep His promises requires more than just confidence in saying I trust God’s Word; it demands endurance as well. It made me think. How well is my endurance?

God knows our endurance can and will be tested. That is why His Word reminds us over and over that faith and patience are partners. One without the other will leave us fatigued, dangling in discouragement and oftentimes fearful.

Today’s climate has all of us waiting on something. The end of the pandemic, the end of unjust and unrest. It looks like there is no positive means for the foreseeable future. However, I know God’s Word can be trusted. Waiting on God isn’t easy but with patience it’s possible. So, hang in there! Don’t stop believing! On the other side of your wait is a promise fulfilled.

PEARLStoPONDER: Faith alone gives us boldness to trust God’s Word. Patience alone is what keeps us holding on.  But patience and faith as partners gives us courage to trust God’s timing when it seems like He is holding out.

Psalm: 27:14-- Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Romans 8:25-- But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Hebrews 6:12-- That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 10:23-- Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised.

James 1:4-- But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
 

Finding Blessings in God’s Delay

At some point in our lives we have sat in a hospital waiting room while a loved one had surgery, delivered a baby or waited on some type of testing result? During this time there are many ways we try to keep ourselves busy while waiting. We stand, sit, drink coffee, scroll through our phones and we even pace.

Hospital waiting rooms symbolize how we can feel during seasons of unanswered prayers. Unfortunately, when God seems to delay answering our prayer, we wonder if God loves us or if He has forgotten about us. It’s especially harder when it seems like God is answering everyone else’s’ prayers!

When we are in our waiting room season, it often feels like we just can’t bear another day. However, our waiting room time doesn’t have to be wasted time. I have had times in my waiting room season of continual praying for specific situations, I learned that in the space between what I’m waiting for and the actual outcome, God was working just as much on my heart as He was about my situation.

In 1 Samuel chapter 1, Hannah wrestled in a symbolic waiting room as she struggled with infertility. Not only was Hannah dealing with barrenness but she also lived with relatives who did not or chose not to understand her pain.

Hannah hit an emotional rock bottom did during her waiting room season. Although she hit an emotional rock bottom, she possessed strength she didn’t realize she had. Her strength was manifested in what she did, she took real feelings to God. Even her messy and angry and emotions. In this season she remembers God’s power and asks Him to make the impossible to happen in her life. During her waiting room season Hannah did something that is very difficult for most to do; she had a radical act of worship. Her radical act of worship consisted of her giving back to God before she ever receives from God!

Hannah shows us the path to finding blessing in God’s delay is to shift from the impatient mindset of “I’m waiting for God” to…. towards a gratitude base posture of “I’m worshipping God for….” As we worship God by remembering who He is, His faithfulness and His promises, we position ourselves to be blessed by His presence in our life. Worship also lifts the heavy burden of waiting from our life!

I want to point out, after Hannah prayed her circumstances remained the same, but she was different. “She went her way and ate something; her face was no longer sad.” After Hanna’s worship encounter with God, her heart and mind were uplifted although her waiting room journey was not over.

Are we like Hannah? Can we choose to worship rather than focusing on impatiently waiting?

PEARLStoPONDER: If you are in a waiting room season, don’t loose hope! Worship God and remember He is at work in you as much as He is at work in your circumstance.

1 Samuel 1:6-8-- And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?

1 Samuel 1:10-11-- 1And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. 11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

1 Samuel 1:18--  And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.
 

OMG! Is This Me?

Time and time again Jesus called out a group of religious people called the Pharisees for believing and acting on the belief that they were better than everyone else simply because they followed all the religious rules of that day. They thought they had it all figured out!
 
How often have we or better yet, let me rephrase this? Have you ever, or do you know someone who believed or acted on the belief that you (they) are better than someone else simply because you (they)go to church weekly, study and pray?
 
During Jesus time on earth, there was one group of people He called out more than any other.

Tax collectors? Nope. Adulterers? I don’t think so. Murderers? I mean they’re bad, but no. It was the Pharisees! 

I know you’re probably thinking, that was so long ago. We don’t have Pharisees today do we? The true answer….yes! If we’re honest we all have been guilty of Pharisee tendencies. The question is do we hold on to those tendencies?

Four ways to know if you have  a Pharisaical heart and to hopefully help change your heart for the better.

1. Eager to Point Out Other’s Flaws: This Pharisaical flaw is eager to tell others what they did wrong. This flaw is very demeaning and lacks constructive criticism.
*Examine your own heart first, really look at why you’re so excited to point out the flaws in the person you’re confronting, and choose to work on yourself before calling out someone else.

2.You Get Defensive When Someone Points Out Your Flaws: This builds right on the first sign that you have a Pharisaical heart—while you might be eager to point out the shortcomings in those around you, you get overly-defensive whenever someone “dares” to say that you’re wrong or less than perfect.
*We all have flaws. If someone comes to you in love with constructive criticism, we should be quick to invite feedback rather than putting our guard up! If we're not, we may be missing out on the ways Jesus desires to mature us.

3.You’re an Expert on EVERYTHING: Your viewpoint (on any subject) is the right way all the time it’s all or nothing. This is the right way...and everything and everyone else is wrong. There is no gray, no in-between. 
*No one is right on everything. Be open to receiving that someone else knows something you don’t.

4.You’ve Forgotten Your Deep Need for Jesus: Probably the most devastating symptom of a Pharisaical heart, is when we forget our own deep need for Jesus, his grace and forgiveness. This becomes evident when statements of pride, gossip and jealousy are spoken out of our mouths, “I wish people would read their Bible more like I do.” “She parties all weekend long. I’d never say it to her face. But I can’t believe it.” “I have reasons for the things I do, but they have everything perfect and they still mess it up.”
*We all need Jesus, desperately, but when our hearts become more Pharisaical than humble, we tend to forget how great that need is. The insignificant sins of others are magnified while your own blatant sins are minimized. When we forget how great of a need we have for Jesus, each and every day, something fundamental changes in us. We stop viewing each day as a gift, and instead look at our lives as a thing we’ve earned.

Oddly enough the people (Pharisees) who were the loudest in criticizing Jesus, were also the same group of people who quickly looked to kill him when he challenged them. OMG! Is this me? Am I a modern-day Pharisee who is quick to criticize someone else and in doing so I kill that person’s spirit?
If you fall into any of the four points listed above, don’t fret. Change for the better can happen at any moment. Where there is life there is hope. (Proverbs 23:18)

PEARLStoPONDER: Let’s be honest! All of us at some point have fallen into one of the above four categories. I know I have. I praise God for shining a light on my Pharisaical heart. But more importantly I thank God for giving me the grace and knowledge to change my Pharisaical heart to a heart that’s pleasing to Him. If He did it for me, He can do it for you too!
 
Luke 18:11-14: 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
 
 

Little Black Dress of Faith

I remember being at one of my college friends’ home and her mom use to always say, “every woman must have a little black dress in her closet.” “You know that one dress you can go to for almost any occasion.” In my head I’m thinking I don’t have one of those. From that day her words forever rang in my mind. (RIH Mrs. O.C.).

As I thought about Mrs. O.C. and her must have little black dress it brought to mind another must have. An essential must have for every woman to possess and wear that we all will look good in. Wisdom! I consider this the little black dress of faith.

Unfortunately, in today’s society it can be tricky to make wise decisions and choices. We’re surrounded by conflicting messages. Messages that oppose the wisdom of God as revealed in scripture. We’re often hit from all sides with opinions, posts, tweets about what people have and want to do as well as about what people think is right or wrong. All with the attempt to sway our thoughts in their direction.

With all that noise going on, we must understand there is a difference between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world. God’s wisdom consists of peace, love, gentleness and a willingness to yield to others. Full of mercy and good deeds.

No matter how many little black dresses we have in our closets there is that “one” that makes you feel absolutely amazing when you put it on. That is what God’s wisdom will do for us. When we walk in His wisdom and make choices based on His wisdom not matter what or how others may think, we will feel absolutely amazing.

God’s wisdom will keep you from venting negative frustrations about another person, instead allow you to be a woman of peace and have a peaceful discussion. God’s wisdom gives you a choice to stand on the faith of His word even when it’s contrary and looks crazy to others.

Where is your little black dress of faith? In the cleaners to remove unwanted dirt? Crumbled on the floor because you lost hope? Or Hanging in your closet ready to wear to show off your fabulousness?

Join me in putting on and keeping in ready condition one of the most essential garments we as women can wear, the little black dress of faith!

PEARLStoPONDER: Allow the little black dress of faith to be a reminder of God’s infinite wisdom.
 
Proverbs 1:7--The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 4:7--Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

1 Corinthians 1:25--Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

James 1:5-- If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 3:17--But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
 

Thankful for Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

 
Have you ever tried to imagine the volume of prayer request God receives on a daily basis? “Lord help me pay my bills!” “Heal and restore my marriage!” “Keep my children and family safe!” Heal my ailing parents!” “When will this pandemic end!” “Bless me bountifully!” Whew!! Just thinking about the volume of request makes me tired..lol. Notice the exclamation marks behind each request. Usually when we bring our request before God, we want an answer RIGHT NOW! Fortunately, our God not only hears our volume of request He is also capable of handling all the request. But that does not mean He will answer our request when we want as we want.

As I think about the abundance of request laid on God, it brings to mind how often do we express our thankfulness not just in the answered prayers but in those request that have yet to be answered. Is your expression of gratitude limited to a prayer to meal time or before you drive your car for the day?

Are you conscious of the request God has answered two days ago, two months ago and even five years ago, or are those request so far in the past that the impact is no longer relevant?

Are you so focused on tomorrow waiting on God to fulfill your future needs that you balk at the right now answered request?

God is the same yesterday, today and forever more. If He was gracious to answer your request yesterday, and merciful to answer them on today don’t fret about tomorrows answer.

We’ve all been guilty of wanting to know if God will answer our request, especially the way “we” want it answered.

Stop for a moment and bask in the request that God has answered in the now.

Doesn’t if feel fantastic to relish in the glory of God’s right now answered request?
 
PEARLStoPONDER: Yesterdays answered request is a reminder of todays answered request giving the assurance of tomorrow answered request.
 
Matthew 6:34- “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

John 16:23--In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you

Hebrews 13:8-- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

1 John 5:14-15--And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
 
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