Are You a Genuine Friend?

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“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about the friendships in my life. I’ve strengthened some and let some go. The circle I keep has gotten smaller and fewer as I’ve gotten older. I make acquaintances easily, but maintaining and strengthening existing friendships in this season of life is a little difficult for me. I have friends I can go see a movie with but having people in my life who will walk side by side with me through the messiness of life is a little more challenging.

There are people I talk to and who speak life into me but over the past year I’ve built walls around my heart and I’m very guarded in specific areas. I’m not as vulnerable as I used to be. I think when you’ve been hurt a lot you train yourself not to get too close to other people in fear of being hurt or worse rejected.  Genuine friendships matter to me, especially in this area but they’re rare.

Genuine friends spend time with you.

Genuine friends are there to catch us when we fall.

Genuine friends are the ones there for us when the whole world walks out. 

Genuine friends accept and love us as we are. 

Genuine friends pray for you and with you.

Genuine friends are transparent with you. 

Genuine friends are the ones who stick closer than a brother.

Genuine friends inspire, encourage, and challenge you to be the best version of yourself.

I’m sure there are other characteristics of genuine friendships, but these stick out most to me. As I think through my friendships, I know what kind of friendships I want and the kind of friend I need to be.  Our friendships and relationships with others matter, especially as followers of Jesus.  They should draw us closer to Christ and His image not away from it.

This week take an inventory of your relationships and pray over them. 

Are you a genuine friend?

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Ask, Seek, Knock

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“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

I love when God shows up and finds ways to get my attention. Matthew 7:7 has been a verse that has shown itself a few times this week and it’s only Tuesday. There are plans on my heart and I know only the Lord’s plans will ultimately prevail.  To know the direction He wants me to move in, I have to ask and seek Him in everything.

God will make His way known if the desires of my heart are in His will.

Time and time again, especially lately, He has proven Himself faithful. I’ve been attentive but I get impatient in the waiting.  When I sit at His feet daily, He reminds me to trust Him in this time of waiting and preparation.

God’s ways will always be higher than ours and He wants us to ask and seek Him daily before making big decisions. 

Ask.

Seek.

Knock.

What a timely reminder.

Lord, you know the desires of my heart. Help me to ask and seek You in everything. Don’t let me move unless You tell me to first. In Jesus name, amen.

Are you asking and seeking the Lord daily before making big decisions? 

#heartcheck

The Missing Link

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The more time I’ve spent in the Word and with the Lord over the past few weeks, I’m realizing the missing link to almost everything in our life.

The Holy Spirit.

It’s missing from our relationships, friendships, Churches, everything. I’ve had individual and collective experiences with the Spirit and I can’t and will not deny its power in my life. The experience is supernatural and powerful.

Most people talk of the Spirit and being filled with it, but to live by it, to obey it, and watch it work naturally in our life is nothing short of incredible. I get speechless and emotional thinking about it.

We talk about it,  but do we really understand how the Holy Spirit works?

I do.

Over the past month I’ve seen the Spirit’s work evident in my life. I don’t say this to brag, but to make y’all aware. The Holy Spirit is real and will work in our life when we’re open to its movement.

The Holy Spirit enables us to do the work God has called us to do and we cannot do anything in our life apart from it.

Almost everything I tried doing on my own last year fell apart. I won’t negate those few moments when I knew God was present, but those experiences never lasted and I realize looking back they weren’t meant to. I tried doing things in my own power and strength whether they were Godly or not, but apart from the Spirit, they weren’t fruitful.

When we act on our own wants and desires the Spirit won’t move. But with the Spirit’s leading and help, we can change the world. 

There have been many times lately the Spirit has told me things to do and I’ve been hesitant, but I know if I walk away from the Spirit’s direction, I will regret it. Many things will call for attention and they can be distracting. They will distract us from God’s best for us but with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

In order to do everything God wants from us, we have to make the Spirit known in everything.

Is the Spirit missing in your life? Ask God to help make it known. 

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When Rejection Resurfaces

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Last week, someone I used to really like and care for said something hurtful to me and feelings of rejection resurfaced. What is it about me that people can’t love and appreciate? That was the first thought that crossed my mind.

I’m realizing the more people reject me, I need more of Jesus in my life.

Rejection hurts. No matter which end you fall on, it hurts terribly.  I know in my heart God loves me. He sees my weaknesses as strengths and works through my faults and flaws. However, others can’t and most won’t. This is the reality of life. You’re only good for someone until they no longer need you. Whatever else we have to offer, it doesn’t matter.

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself, but these are feelings I live with daily. Even when God is good, I don’t feel good enough. This hurts to admit, but it’s the truth. Rejection has followed me around for the past several years and no matter who’s the source of it, it hurts worse as I get older.

I want to be the kind of woman who knows her worth in Christ and walks in that identity. I want to stand firm on who God says I am and not let other people’s treatment towards me bring me down. This is an area I’ve continued to struggle with for five years and it hasn’t gotten easier. Sadly, I don’t think it will.

I am hopeful though. I know God is here with me and will guide my heart with the truth of His Word. He always does. He reminds me I’m loved, valued, cherished, and accepted exactly as I am.

Today, if feelings of rejection resurface, rest in this truth.

How do you handle rejection?

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Always Pray and Never Give Up

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“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “– Luke 18:1

This is the second time I’ve been led to this verse and I really needed the reminder today. I’ve been ready to throw in the towel and each time I’m ready to quit, God reminds me to seek, trust, and wait for Him. He doesn’t want me to quit, He wants me to see whatever He’s doing through to the end.

I’ll be honest though, it’s hard. In my mind, I can already see the outcome and I don’t want to go through it again.  I went through seasons of dry spells in my prayer life when God and I weren’t on the best of terms. My prayer life has been active a lot more over the past few months because I know in my heart I need His words to comfort me.

God wants us pray continually, repeatedly, and not give up meeting with Him when things get hard. He tells us in scripture anything is possible if we believe. 

I want the kind of faith that doesn’t quit.

How’s your prayer life lately?

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Show Us How To Increase Our Faith

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“Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive. The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” – Luke 17:4-5

Days like today I wonder how I can sit with doubt or question God’s hand in current situations. Each time I ask for a sign, He provides. Loud and clear. He has yet to fail me in this area, but I still waiver in faith.

In this morning’s reading, the disciples knew they needed more faith. Why? Because they were conflicted in the area of forgiveness. And right now, so am I.

The past month or so has been a whirlwind. My life is changing and so is my heart. But I still have issues in trusting and believing. In February, I was deceived and lied to by someone I thought would be a long-time friend.  Not soon after, I was confronted with an area of my past I thought had been long gone and buried. These things prevent me from trusting the Lord completely because in the back of my mind, I’m wondering when the ball will drop and trust will be broken again.

Forgiving others for repeated hurt is hard but it’s the only way faith can work. When people are genuinely sorry for the way they’ve hurt us, scripture tells us we must forgive them. 

I want to walk in the freedom of forgiveness and obey scripture. I spent a lot of time being bitter, resentful, and angry between 2014-2015. Thankfully, God has worked in my heart and life to correct me in this area.

As we learn to forgive our faith in God increases.  If there’s a person in your life who needs your forgiveness, obey scripture and forgive them. This doesn’t mean what they’ve done to you didn’t happen or you’re forced to forget. Forgiveness isn’t about them, it’s about you. 

Lord, show us how to increase our faith. 

Has your faith been weakened lately because of unforgiveness?

Being A Proverbs 31 Woman

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“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”Proverbs 31:12

The Proverbs 31 woman has always intimidated me. Each time I’m led to read these verses, I’m only reminded of how I fall short in being this kind of woman. This of course is due in part to my issues with insecurity and not feeling good or worthy enough.

As women, it’s difficult navigating through life without a reality check. It’s especially difficult when following the Lord and He convicts us of areas that need improvement. This morning’s reading is only a reminder to me that I will encounter difficult people in my life and have difficult relationships, it’s a part of life. But I want to learn to be helpful, not hurtful with my words and above all, my actions.

I want to be the kind of woman men brag about to their family and friends. I want to be the kind of woman who is gentle with the hearts of the ones God brings into my life. I want to be the kind of person people can look back and say I made a difference in some area of their life.  I want to be a wife my husband is proud to have at his side.  I want my husband to know he can count on me to lift him up not put him down. That he’s appreciated, loved, and no matter what, I’ll always do my best to protect his life and heart.

This is what Jesus does and it’s only right we do too.

I’m not perfect and those close to me know how often I struggle with being kind and patient. But the more time I spend with the Lord, He softens those hard places and reminds me of the kind of woman I need to be.

Women play a vital role in the lives of others, especially men. How we treat other people matters and it’s especially true in our relationships.  Ask God to help you honor them with your words, thoughts, and actions.  This pleases God and it will make a world of difference.

Ladies, is there someone in your life you need to treat better?  Start now.

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The Problem With Procrastination

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“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”

 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.  You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” – Haggai 1:1-6

What are you waiting for?

This is the question I ask myself as I read this morning’s verses.  No one likes to admit they’re lazy in their faith. I know I don’t. But most of our lives are spent waiting for God to move when He’s been waiting for us to do what He’s already asked us to.

When we procrastinate doing God’s Work, we need to re-prioritize. Things in our life need to be shifted or dropped in order to put God first. 

If we’re spending time with God each day, He tells us what to do. It’s getting from the knowing to doing that most of us have a hard time with. Many things in our life can prevent us from doing God’s will. Situations from my past kept me from moving forward for over a year and I became spiritually apathetic.

When procrastination becomes a pattern of life, it puts limits on our faith.  God tells us what we should be doing but like the Israelites, we keep putting it off.

I wish I could say each time God speaks to me, I jump at the opportunity to obey but I don’t.  This morning’s reading is a reminder and warning. When God tells us to do something, we must not delay.  We make time for the things that matter most to us. If God matters to us, we’ll do what He tells us to without stalling. God wants us to be proactive in our faith. He wants us to live the life He’s called us to but we need to do our part.

Today, make God a priority and stop procrastinating. 

What are you waiting for?

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What Being Single At 32 Will Teach You

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Honestly, I didn’t think I’d still be single. I thought I’d be married with children by now.  God must have other plans.

This the reality I live with – God has a different plan for my life than I thought I wanted. 

I’ll be frank. I hate being single. It’s bothered me more in the past year than any other time in my life. Most of the time, I just write it off as I’m just lonely and need someone in my life who can fill a void. But the truth is, I don’t hate being single because I’m lonely. I hate it because there’s a part of me who believes I’m going to die alone.

As a woman who believes in the Lord, standing firm in my own convictions and realizing, settling would go against God’s will and best for me in this area.  Men say they want a woman who loves the Lord with her whole heart and follows Him closely, yet, at the end of the day, most settle. I’ve met married people unhappy in their marriages so they flirt their way through other people hoping they will erase the ache. I’ve met single people afraid of commitment so they settle for dead end relationships.

One of the most difficult things for me is knowing what I want, that God has it covered, to going my own way, doing this dating thing my way, and hope for the best. But it doesn’t work that way. I know what obedience in this area feels like and it’s the way I feel now.

I know God wouldn’t have led me to the people He has over the years without their lessons. Lessons about what I truly need and want in my relationships and never settling for less than I know I deserve.

Love is blind, but with God as my guide, He makes those things clear. 

Being single at 32 is not the love story I envisioned for my life. I saw things differently, very differently, but it’s just proof I know nothing. When I asked God into my life back in 2011, I also allowed Him into my heart. And though my heart is messy, He’s always protected me. Though there were times it didn’t feel like protection, looking back, I know He knew what I needed better than I ever did.

The brutal reality is, I could be single for another year, 10 years, or God could choose to leave me single. The unknowing is the difficult part of it too but there’s also beauty in watching God’s plan for my life unfold before me. 

God’s fingerprints are all over this area in my life and though it’s difficult at times to trust, surrendering this area of my life to Him completely is freeing. I don’t have to search for the man God has designed and prepared for me. He will bring him into my life when He knows I’m ready and without my help.

If you’re single like me, surrender this area of your life to God completely and leave it there. Trust His plan over yours and your heart with Him over your lusts and wants.

Singleness isn’t punishment, it’s preparation. God is preparing the love of my life the way He’s preparing me.

I trust Him. 

 Will you?

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Where Are You Putting Your Trust?

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“Don’t put your trust in mere humans.
    They are as frail as breath.
    What good are they?” – Isaiah 2:22 (NLT)

In most areas of our life, we need to trust the Lord, not people. 

I’ve been hurt a lot so trusting people lately is difficult.  I’ve said this repeatedly over the past few weeks as I’ve been having a difficult time trusting not only the Lord, but also questioning whether or not some things are in alignment with His will or if I’m leaning on my own understanding instead of His. I think it’s a mixture of all these things.

This morning’s verse reminded me not only do I need to trust in the Lord and Him alone, but I also need to pay attention to how much I’m relying on other people to do what only God can. 

I know God is working in my life, it’s pretty obvious. I won’t sit here and deny it, I can’t.  But, God wants me to trust Him and Him only.  People are limited and unreliable. God is faithful, and is the same yesterday, today, and forever; unchanging.

Today, I’m choosing to trust Him above everything and everyone else.

Will you?

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Unqualified by Steven Furtick [Book Review]

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I’ve been listening to Steven Furtick for about 4 years now and he is one of my favorite pastors. Unqualified is the first book I’ve read by Steven and it couldn’t have  spoke to me at the right time.

We all have weaknesses and sometimes we live in our weaknesses instead allowing God to use them for good. Furtick reminds us God loves unqualifed people.

There have been a few times in my life when I didn’t feel qualified to do God’s will. I was encouraged and inspired by Steven’s reminder God uses broken people to fulfill His purpose. We don’t have to be perfect to be used by Him.

At times, I know my behavior and actions don’t please the Lord. Yet, God still speaks and works in my life. No matter what I’ve done or how rotten I feel, He still loves me enough to remind I can still be used to accomplish His plans.

Unqualified is a reminder as long as we’re here, imperfections and all, we’re still usable by the Lord.

About Steven Furtick

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. The church has been listed by Outreach Magazine as one of the fastest growing and largest churches in America.

Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still.

Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

Check out Elevation Church here.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

How Stubborn Are You?

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“So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” – Psalm 81:12

On a scale of 1-10, how stubborn are you? I’m somewhere between a 5 and 6.

2015 was spent doing things my own way without God’s direction. I built relationships with other people thinking it was His will and though I saw Him move in those brief moments, the foundation wasn’t there.  I decided I was tired of disappointment so I continued on my own path until a moment of crisis halted my plans and He intervened.

I remember several times throughout the year when I was angry with God and how my life wasn’t going. I was mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired. I did things my own way for about a year until I got a reality check. I realize now how stubborn I was.

Sometimes God allows us to continue in our disobedience and run our own race. God could have intervened any time in those moments even before my moment of crisis, but He allowed my plans to fall apart to bring me to repentance. This was His plan all along.

I don’t like to admit how stubborn I really am. Any woman who wants to follow the Lord in all her ways doesn’t like to admit failure. I’ve failed plenty. It’s a moment by moment decision in my everyday life to either follow the Lord or continue in my stubbornness and do life my way. I already know the end result so there’s no point in going down that road any more.

God wants to turn our stubbornness into steadfastness. 

Today, will you let Him?

#heartcheck

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