THE STRUGGLE IS REAL, BUT SO IS GOD

THE STRUGGLE

How many times have you been going through a tough time or major disappointment and you hear someone say, ” all you have to do is trust God or all you have to do is believe?” By the time you finish listening to them, you feel as if your situation or circumstance is insignificant and most likely your fault because you’re not trusting God enough and, on top of that, that you are failing God as a Christian. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been there, but now I realize that other people are dealing with that same sense of failure.

There are various scenarios that we are dealing with on an every day basis. Some are single parents raising children without a support system. Some are working several jobs just trying to make ends meet. Some have spouses that have walked away, or jobs that have ended. Some are dealing with abuse, rape, molestation, illnesses, or deep insecurities. Whatever the case may be, there is a struggle and it is definitely real. It’s more than enough to make you wonder about yourself, your faith, and at times, even the existence of God.

We get caught up in our situations and our emotions. We find ourselves trying our hardest to put on a brave smile, taking a deep breath, and muddling through each day, feeling like we are alone. At the end of the day, we feel like we are a disappointment to God as well as ourselves.

The struggle is real. It’s not all in our minds and it’s not that we don’t have enough faith. It’s really just life. And because we are not walking in each other’s shoes, dealing with the scenarios in each other’s lives; we have no right to make light of another person’s situation. We certainly shouldn’t just throw out short, curt statements regarding the faith of others.

What we should always do is encourage each other in grace and love. We encourage each other by recognizing the struggle is real for that person and remind them that God is real also and He’s much bigger than our struggles. We should encourage each other to be open and honest with God. We don’t have to put on a brave face for God because He knows how we really feel. Believe it or not, He can handle our anger, disappointment, frustration, and disgust. He wants us to come to Him with all of our concerns and burdens. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us.

God is our Creator, the giver and sustainer of all life, and the word tells us that His ears are open unto the cry of the righteous. We must remember that no matter how much we think we mess up or how much we think we fail, if we are a born again believer, then we are still the righteous because of the blood of Jesus that covers us.

Therefore, we must cry out to Him concerning all things. Yes, we live in a world where struggle is inevitable because everybody is going through something, but even through all of that God is real and He is with us. He will see us through. As a matter of fact, if He hadn’t been with us all along, we would have truly given up by now. Yet, here we are surviving the struggle nonetheless. Let us make every effort to acknowledge each other in the time of challenge and encourage one another in the grace and ability of the Lord.

CONFIRM OR DELETE?

CONFIRM OR DELETE

I’m quite sure someone would almost have to be literally living under a rock to not know the meaning of these two words in regards to social media. Assuredly, finding someone age 12 and up that does not interact with some type of social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Skype, SnapChat, Hootsuite, or KiK, is uncommon. These outlets are the buzz of all society.

As I was leaving the grocery store today, I saw a young lady crossing the parking lot looking down at her phone the entire time, a young man that works at the store pushing the trash cart out slowly as he stared down at his phone, and a woman at the stoplight, head down checking her phone while waiting for the light to change. Now I can’t leave myself out because as soon as I put the bags in the car, I checked my phone. Every spare moment we get now are spent on smartphones, tablets, or laptops scrolling through other people’s lives.

Imagine if we spent that much energy, focus, and fascination on God. He is yearning for us to spend that kind of time with Him. He wants us to be so engrossed with Him that we can’t wait until we get a break to talk with Him. After all He has done for us, sometimes we are so caught up, that all we manage to squeak out during the day is a quick, “Thank you, God,” and even that has no real sincerity.

We say God is our everything, our only hope, and the reason we face the day, but how often do we really show Him how much we appreciate Him? God already told us in Exodus 20 that He is a jealous God and we shall not have any other gods before Him. Anything we value or love more than God, we have made a god in our lives.

In Proverbs 8:17, God states, “I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me.” 1 Chronicles 16:11 states, “Seek the lord and his strength, seek his face continually.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us that if we humble ourselves and pray, and seek his face and turn from our wicked ways, He will hear from Heaven and heal our land.

He is waiting for us to seek Him with our whole heart, soul, and mind. He is waiting for us to just catch a glimpse of the kingdom as He sees it. That is the key to achieving our greatest desires.

Imagine the power and knowledge we could obtain if we spent a fraction of the time we spend on social media sources on truly seeking the heart and mind of God.

God desires to take us to realms in His glory that are unimaginable to us, but we have to want it too.

Starting today, let us purpose in our hearts and minds to draw nigh unto the Lord, our God, that we may become the people He has created and destined us to be.

Will you confirm or delete?

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?

what's on your mind

I love commercials that ask viewers a question. The Capitol One credit card’s newest commercial has actor Samuel L Jackson asking, “What’s in your wallet?” I love it. It challenges viewers to think about something opposed to just telling or informing them about something.

Recently, my sister and I were discussing the fact that our minds can be so busy that it can actually affect our memory and even our thought process. Most of us do lead very busy lives. On an everyday basis we deal with our jobs, our spouses, our children, running a household, friends and family, and last but certainly not least, our church duties.

With all of these things on our minds, it is easy to lose focus on God.  However, God understands that we live in a busy world because He is the one that blessed us with all these things; the job, the spouse, the children. That’s why He reminds us in His word how important it is to keep our minds on Him through all things.

Romans 12:2 tells us to, “Be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” In other words, if our minds are only full of day-to-day routine activities and concerns, there is no room to seek the will of God for our lives.

Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that God will keep us in perfect peace if we keep our minds stayed on Him. When our minds are on God and the things of the kingdom, we are not easily frustrated or overwhelmed. Yes, we do live in a natural world and have to attend to natural things, but with God first, his grace carries us through with peace of mind.

Just in case we don’t exactly know how to keep our minds on God, some helpful suggestions can be found in Philippians 4:8. “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” There it is. The simplest of instructions for a Christian’s mindset.

Our lives are called to be busy, but in all that we do, let us purpose within our hearts to be mindful of our Creator, and remember that he deserves all the praise, glory, and honor.

DETHRONING OUR EMOTIONS

EMOTIONS

Every one of us are born with feelings or emotions. God created us that way. He made us in his image and that includes our feelings. The bible tells us that God loves us, has compassion on us, and also gets angry with us. He gave us these emotions to enhance our lives through our experiences. Imagine life if you couldn’t feel love, joy, or happiness.

Since we live in a natural world, it is so easy to lose focus and allow our emotions to rule our actions. We’ve all experienced moments when we were angry or frustrated and lashed out at someone verbally or on the other hand, gave them the silent treatment. At some point and time, we’ve all let our feelings drive our interactions with others. It is a normal, human reaction.

Recently, my life has taken a seat on a roller coaster ride that seemed to speed through extreme emotions. In a short span of time, I experienced hurt, betrayal, anger, disappointment, sadness, frustration, worry, pride, joy, and happiness.

However, during this time of vulnerability, God reminded me that he is the regulator that keeps us sane. He knew we wouldn’t be able to handle our emotions on our own, therefore, He gives us instructions in his word concerning this.

Galations 5:16-24 reminds us that we, ” … must walk in the Spirit and we shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Our flesh tells us that we should fuss at someone when we are angry or frustrated. Our flesh tells us we should walk away from people that hurt us and never look back, but God tells us to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us through those tempting moments.

2 Corinthians 10:5 explains that we have to, “…bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” That let’s us know that if we don’t take control, these emotions will reign and be king in our lives rather than God.

When we turn on the TV or radio, all we hear are stories of murder, violence, theft, rape, and suicide because of those who chose to react to their feelings. As Christians, we can’t allow our emotions to rule us. We are to be an example of Christ, a light to an otherwise dark world. We are chosen and set apart to show that our lives are governed by God, and not ourselves.

I am a witness that when my emotions are challenged to the point that I may act out of character, humbling myself to God is the only way to achieve a desirable result.

Let us to continue to be mindful of who really reigns in our lives and our ultimate purpose, which is to bring glory to God.

AGAINST ALL ODDS

Against-all-odds----4f47e48f7a8bd_hires

Every day that we are given the opportunity to open our eyes is filled with natural life issues. Some days are filled with goals being achieved, giants slayed, doors opened, and many other personal and business triumphs. Then there are those days that it seems chaos is everywhere. There are issues on the job, problems with the children and/or spouse, financial issues, personal disappointments, and a number of other troublesome matters.

For some, the latter description of our days seem to fit our situations a little more accurately than the first description. I will be the first to admit that I relate better to the latter days. On my selfish days, I have the audacity to think I’m the only one working through these issues, but I know that I’m not. As I talk with and encourage others, I realize everyone is going through something. Our situations may not be the exact same, but at times, we are all dealing with some seemingly overwhelming circumstances.

However, this is when we have to remind ourselves that even through all of this, we were given the opportunity to wake up in a brand new day. Not just a brand new day, but a brand new day with God. He knows about everything that happened yesterday, what’s going to happen today, and what tomorrow will bring. He understands that sometimes we feel overwhelmed and feel like giving up. That’s why He has given His word to comfort us and remind us that no matter what it looks like, we are winners.

2 Corinthians 4-8 tells how destructive things may appear, yet, we will not be broken. The word of God states, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed, we are perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed.”  This describes some of those days mentioned before.

The odds show that for people that don’t know Christ, destruction is inevitable, but because we have the strength of the Almighty in us, we will win against all odds. We just have to know that God is with us and with Him we will never lose. Verse 7 of the same chapter reminds us that, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Simply put, on our own, we can’t make it, but with God, we can and will make it. Against all odds, we will make it. Against every upset, every disappointment, every sorrow, every down fall, every short coming, every obstacle, every snare laid, every betrayal, every hurt, and every thought that is contrary to the word of God, we will make it.

Let us take heart and grasp who we are in God. Against all odds, we are winners.

CHANCE AND OPPORTUNITY

CHANCE AND OPPORTUNITY

Years ago when I first gave my life to Christ, I was so excited. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited in a more grounded, realistic way. Back then it was a brand new, everything-is-instantly-well, unrealistic type of excitement. I was a babe in Christ and on fire for the things of the Lord.

After a few months, I met a young man that told me he used to be a minister. He said he had been ordained at the age of 13. Now that was a disappointment to me because this young man drank everyday, hung out in night clubs, and had left his wife. In my newly found Christianity, I could not fathom the idea that anyone could have a relationship with Jesus and turn away to do the things he was doing. My reply was, “Oh! I could never do that.”

A while after that, a person I was really fond of in the church I was attending became involved in a relationship that eventually drew her away from God. Again, stunned and confused, I allowed my mouth to say, “How in the world could she let that happen?

By chance, I found myself presented with a similar opportunity, and guess what? I ended up in a predicament of my own. As a matter of fact, I actually ended up leaving the church for a while.

I learned valuable lessons that have stuck with me. God tells us in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”  He tells us that we are not to judge one another. Romans 2:1 states that God is the only rightful judge and he is the only one that has the authority to do so. How can we judge others when we are sinners ourselves? God knows our course and our hearts.

It is so easy to look at the short comings and down falls of others and render our self righteous statements like, “I would never do that” or “How could they do that?” It’s easy because it’s not our situation. We weren’t experiencing that person’s circumstances. We were not in that person’s shoes. We fail to realize that was a stepping stone in their learning experience. God knows all about them just like he knows all about us.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 informs us that…”time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Every one of us is presented with plenty of chances and opportunities that could cause us to get distracted on this Christian journey. Many times we may pass the test and avoid the misstep, but there will be times when unsuitable choices will be made. We must remember that we have many duties as a Christian, but judging each other is not one of them.

Let us not condemn and look down on our brothers and sisters, but lift them up, encourage them, and pray they are strengthened in the Lord.

MOTHER’S FIRST

 

From the first moment her eyes saw your face, she was in love with you.

From the first moment she held you in her arms, she knew she would do anything to protect you.

From the first moment she heard you cry, her only thought was to comfort you.

From the first moment she saw your smile, she knew you were the most beautiful person she’d seen.

From the first moment she heard you laugh, she knew she wanted to hear that sound for the rest of her life.

From the first moment you took a step, she knew she was going to walk with you wherever you went.

From the first moment you stepped into school, she knew you could be whatever you wanted to be.

From the first moment you had your first hurt, she wished she could carry them all for you.

From the first moment you fell in love, she prayed you would stay in love forever.

From the first moment you announced you were having your own, she was happy her love would be shared.

She was your first nurse.

She was your first play mate.

She was your first teacher.

She was your first friend.

She was your first date.

She was your first example of love.

She understands you when no else does.

She supports you through good and bad times.

She loves you unselfishly and consistently with all of her heart.

She holds the most important job in the world.

She is a mother.

 

S M Forrest

MOTHERS, STILL THE SAME

In today’s society, the traditional roles for men and women have changed dramatically. The TV inspired June Cleaver mother type of woman has faded in the background and more socially and financially independent women have emerged. Many women wear the hat as the sole bread winner in the household and others share the responsibility equally with their husbands.

Over the last sixty years, women have evolved from stay at home moms to business owners, corporate leaders, astronauts, famous athletes, world renowned scientists, doctors, and even political leaders. They have faced and overcome many challenges and continue to rise to success in many careers that were once dominated by men. Yes, women have achieved and broken quite a few barriers, but our greatest achievement has always been and will continue to carry out the God intended role of being a mother.

God honors mothers. He has anointed women with the pure strength and knowledge to be mothers. We can see this throughout the bible. The role of being a mother was so important in the bible that women without children were shunned by biblical society. Women were considered blessed by the Lord if they were able to have children. In 1 Samuel 1 & 2, Hannah is a perfect example of a woman that bore horrible ridicule and suffered from depression because of the fact she couldn’t have children. She begged God incessantly and made a great promise to God if he would just allow how to have a child. God heard her prayer and favored her. She became the mother of Samuel, the prophet.

Many people think of the role of a woman and mother only as being subservient or submissive to the man, but God honored them much more than that. He entrusted the care of the gift of children to mothers. Yes, the man worked for the money, but God gave the responsibility of handling the household to the woman. In Proverbs 31: 25-30, a description is given of a mother taking care of the household, making wise purchases, teaching and disciplining the children, dealing patiently with those around her, and ultimately making her family and God proud.

In Proverbs 22: 6, states mothers train children in the way that they should go. Now some may think that this is implied to just fathers, but God follows it up in verse 20 of the same chapter by stating, “…and forsake not the law of thy mother.”

Mothers are strong enough to manage a household, train and discipline her children, nurture and comfort them, be an example by living a spirit-filled life flowered in grace, kindness and patience, and still be attentive to her husband.

A godly mother is favored and honored by God. We know this to be true because He gave them the most important job in the world.

 

S M Forrest

 

 

JUST IN CASE

JUST IN CASE

I’ve read a few articles lately in which the authors expressed their strong discontent with the Christian faith and its followers. As I was reading their views, I tried to remain objective and really pay attention to what they were saying. I will be honest and say that I could understand many of the points that were made.

I’ve witnessed Christians being mean and cruel to others. I also know that some can be very harsh and judgmental. I agree with the fact that there is disease, poverty, oppression, death, wickedness, and disasters throughout the world. I get it. If I was on the outside looking in, I would feel the same way. As a matter of fact, there are times I have questions too. I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit that I don’t have all the answers. No one does, whether they admit it or not. Some things God reveals to us and some He does not.

The true doctrine of our belief is not harmful, but benefits us through our life’s journey, as well as giving us the hope of comfort in eternity. Our faith is about loving each other past the faults and flaws. It hinges on treating every one the way we would want to be treated. Every principle from the dangers of idolatry to fornication is designed to protect us from unnecessary pain, worry, and stress. If we love people as we love ourselves, we will not do things to hurt them such as killing, stealing, having sex with another person’s mate, lying to one another, etc. These are hurtful things. If we keep in mind that we wouldn’t want that done to us, then we wouldn’t do it to someone else. A simple law of reciprocity.

Our Christian faith promotes living peaceably with all men as stated in Romans 12:18, and being kind and compassionate, forgiving one another as stated in Ephesians 4:32. These are the true principles of the Christian doctrine, whether other believers walk in it or not. It doesn’t change the doctrine itself.

Our Christian faith promises that if we accept the selfless act of Jesus taking the blame for all of our sins and enduring the punishment for us himself, we will receive an eternal reward. A reward of living with no more pain, suffering, death, or sadness. We’re just asked to invite him into our hearts and show the same love that he showed us to everyone else. That’s all we have to do to receive the gift of eternal life in a glorious place called heaven.

Think about how car insurance is used. We get a car maybe when we are 18 years old. We pay a premium every month for the rest of our driving lives for every car that we own for protection, just in case something happens. Many, many years of money being paid for something that may never happen. Some people never get into an accident, but they’ve paid insurance for 50 or more years, or as long as they were able to drive. They don’t get their money back and they didn’t even receive a reward.

I’d rather take my chances believing God is real, heaven is real, and hell is real rather than going through life not believing and it turns out to be true.

Just in case it’s all real, I will not have lost anything either way.

NO SUPER HUMANS OR SUPER CHRISTIANS

SUPER HUMAN

We often face certain things or situations in life that challenge us to rise above them and every one does not handle them the same. What we must know is that every one does struggle with something. We make mistakes. We stumble and sometimes fall. We’ve been angry and said something we shouldn’t have or done something we shouldn’t have done. Or perhaps we reacted in a way that wasn’t thought out. Whatever the scenario may be, it doesn’t matter. It has happened and still happens to all of us.

We experience real human emotions and sometimes we react in very human ways. Do we regret these actions? Sure. Can we go back and change them? No. Sometimes we may just simply feel overwhelmed. Does this mean that we don’t love God? No. Does it mean we are not trusting God? Certainly not. It just means we are going through situations as regular human beings. During these times, it is so easy for our emotions to be manipulated by the enemy and it can cause us to be overwhelmed by guilt. That is a trick of the enemy to hold us down and make us want to give up because we feel like we’ve failed God. What we have to realize is that God already knows we’re human. He made us human. We are made in his image, but we are still very much human and there is no such thing as a super human.

Psalm 103:14 reminds us of this by stating, “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” That lets us know that he has not forgotten we are human, but has compassion for us because he knows we will do human things. Now that does not give us an excuse to intentionally do things that we know are wrong. God forbid. It’s just that he doesn’t expect us to be perfect. However, he does expect us to keep striving to be an example of his love and righteousness.

We are not super Christians either. It doesn’t matter how many things we are doing right, or rather I should say that we think we are doing right; it does not make us invincible. We are still human. We are not perfect, Christian or not. Romans 3:23 reminds us super Christians that, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” You see, once again God reminds us that we are not perfect.

Therefore, when we make mistakes or fall short on something, don’t let it set us back or cause us to give up. Most important, don’t continue to beat ourselves up or allow the enemy to beat us up about it. Repent, confess it, ask for forgiveness, and move on in the Lord. We are all humans saved by grace to walk out the eternal purpose of God in this earth. God does not need perfect people, only people that love Him and will allow Him to accompany them on this Christian journey. Be encouraged in the Lord.