WHERE IS GOD IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR STORM?

Today I want to look at two passages found in scripture, one found in the old testament and one found in the new testament. I believe both of these passages show God’s sovereign hand over all things, storms and all. With things still so unsteady in the current state in our world, I think this is the perfect reminder to trust God in ALL circumstances.

All right, let’s dive into a story about a King of Judah found in the old testament. [ 2 Chronicles 33:10-20 ]

A little back story, up until this point, it was hit or miss with the kings of Judah. What do I mean by that? It was hit or miss if they followed the Lord or if they did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Not every king in Judah followed the Lord like King David or King Solomon. A lot of them did evil in the eyes of the Lord, worshiped idols, and this caused the Lord to become angry and He displayed his wrath on his own people when they did not obey, listen, or follow His ways.

One king in particular that I want to study with you today is King Manasseh. Hold onto your bible and be prepared, this story is about to knock your socks off. King Manasseh did evil in the eyes of the Lord, he established alters for false gods, he worshiped these false gods, he sacrificed his children (UM WHAT?), basically this guy was the worst of the worst. He was all sorts of jacked up.

Before I continue, let’s be real for a minute. Don’t we do this too? You may not be sacrificing your children (I hope you don’t even think twice about this), but don’t we put things before the Lord? Don’t we worship idols? Yep, we do. We can be honest here. Money, sex, technology, cars, houses, you name it, we worship worldly things that lead to a never-ending cycle of wanting what does not fully satisfy us.

Back to the story. God spoke to the people of Judah and to Manasseh, and what do you think they did? They ignored Him (with their track record, are you surprised? I’m not) and this is where the story takes a turn…
The Lord had Manasseh taken as a prisoner by the king of Assyria. The Lord without question, allowed him to be captured and taken as a prisoner – think about this (we will talk about this in a moment). Now, they didn’t just take him as a prisoner, but they put a hook in his nose, bound him up with bronze shackles, and took him to Babylon. I think Manasseh was thinking, “I am not longer in control, I do not have the strength on my own to get myself out of this situation. I need help.” Have you ever been backed into a corner like that? Have you ever been caught up in a storm in your life that you realize you cannot by your own strength get yourself out? You aren’t the only one. Look at what happens next with Manasseh…
“In his distress, he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.” [ 2 Chronicles 33: 12-13 ]

There is so much to unpack here, but I will give you my main take away from this story… The Lord allowed Manasseh to be captured, to be caught up in a storm on purpose, SO THAT he would realize that God is the one and only true God.

In God’s sovereignty willingly allowed Manasseh to be taken a prisoner by his enemy, caught up in a storm so that he would be knocked down, so he could then look up and realize that God is in control and He is trustworthy. So, how does this relate to us now present day? God wants us to abide in Him and trust Him fully to carry us, which is why I believe that God sometimes willingly allows us to enter into a storm SO that we realize we need Him.

We can see almost this same theme in the new testament when Jesus calms the storm. [ Mark 4:35-41 ]

Up until this point, Jesus has been teaching and after His teaching when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went on a boat to cross to the other side of the land (side note: notice how Jesus takes time to get away from the crowds to have time to rest and refuel. We should have this same take on our own lives!). When they were on the boat, Jesus rests his eyes and takes a nap. Meanwhile, a storm comes and let’s just put it this way, the disciples were freaking out. I can only imagine what the disciples were thinking and feeling, but it was enough to have them wake up Jesus and ask, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Have you ever felt that way towards God? Maybe you’re in a season now where you’re asking God the same thing, “Father don’t you see I’m close to drowning? I can’t see the end of this storm. God if you love me at all, help me, save me!” I’d be lying if I said I haven’t prayed that prayer before. When my eyes are so fixed on my circumstances, I have a hard time seeing God’s hand over my life. My faith is weary because I see what I am going through here on earth thinking the Lord has abandoned me. However, I know the truth. I know that “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” [ Psalm 9:10 ]

Back to Mark 4… Jesus woke up, with absolute zero fear, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves “Quiet! Be still!” Just by the power of His words, the wind calmed and the waves ceased. Jesus then said to the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Gosh, can’t you just sense the power in these questions Jesus is asking the disciples? The disciples have witnessed Jesus heal people, surely they would have believed that He was in control of all things?

Sadly, we do the exact same thing. We know the truth that is in the Word. We know that God raised Jesus from the dead after He was killed and buried. God is the God of the impossible, it is who He is. That should be enough for us to know and trust that God is whom He says He is, that He alone is in sole control. Yet, when we take our eyes off of Jesus and put our eyes on our present circumstances, our trust goes to the temporary things rather than our Father. Jesus shows His sovereign hand in calming the storm. If we only trust Him, with the outcome of our circumstances He will take care of us in the storm. Where are you placing your trust? In the hands of Jesus or in your circumstances?

All it takes is a mustard seed of faith and that’s all God wants from you. Choose to trust in the one who is sovereign over all things here on earth and above in Heaven. Choose to trust that the storm you are in is producing character and shaping you into who God has created you to be. Choose to trust that God is working all things out for His glory and for our good.

GOD’S NOT WORRIED, SO WHY DO I WORRY?

You guys, we are living in some intense, uncertain times right now. I am not here to simply just talk about the coronavirus and entice you to panic or become fearful. I mean, between all the crazy going on with this coronavirus and our leaders guiding us and figuring out what is best for our country and the world at this time… I just want to encourage YOU today. 

I want to start out by saying, that WE, as believers, are NOT given a spirit of fear… we are not called to be fearful. Fear is of the enemy, NOT of God. As believers, we have been given a spirit of power, love, and self-control ( 2 TIMOTHY 1:7 ). I want to start off by saying this because this truth holds a lot of weight. This is who we are as children of God. We do not have a spirit of fear. SO, let me then say that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but of fear. It is normal to have doubts. It is normal to have those feelings of doubt or questions… but it’s a whole new ball game when you start to label yourself as being fearful and putting a label on something that strikes up fear. You see when you are fearful about a circumstance or situation ( for example, the coronavirus ) you are essentially putting all your weight and faith into the current circumstance. RATHER THAN, putting your faith into the one who is forever in control, which is God. 

So, let me ask you… ( and be honest ) WHERE ARE YOU PUTTING YOUR FAITH? Are you putting your faith in the current circumstance/ situation of your life OR are you putting your faith in God?

Throughout this whole situation that our country and the world have been faced with, I have held tightly to the word and God’s. God’s word is FULLY alive. Jesus is alive. God is in full control over what is going on right now and this is what I mean by that… He knows exactly what is going on right now. He is not surprised one bit about what is going on right now. He has always known. He is in control of the past, present, and future. Think of it this way, the Lord provides for the birds… who don’t hold as much value as us… so if the Lord provides for the birds and honestly, all of the animals, He will surely provide for us ( MATTHEW 6:26 ). In any season of life, God will provide for you. He is so dang faithful to us. I have experienced his faithfulness in my own life so I can confidently say to you that he upholds his word.

I want to leave you with these few points to think about :

  • God will provide for you, but it takes you to have faith in Him. If you’re a small business owner or if you are unable to work right now due to the coronavirus, instead of stressing about what will happen and the things that you need to take care of ( bills, children, food, etc) give that anxiety to the Lord. I know that’s way easier said than done… but please believe me. When you surrender any and all of your control or anxiety to the Lord, you will experience his peace and spirit of comfort.
  • Stay connected with your community. Yes, we should be complying with social distancing protocols BUT that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay connected with your community. Take advantage of social media right now with facetime or apps to stay connected with your friends and family. For me, my disciple group downloaded the HouseParty App to carry on with our usual DG meeting. While yes, this isn’t “ideal” we have to make the most of the situation.
  • Take advantage of this time to dig into God’s word. Personally, I am using this time to spend more quality with the Lord. I’ve been studying the word/ devotionals, following my usual devotional my church has, honestly doing all the things I can right now to make the best use of my time. Currently, my church is doing daily devotionals and we have started online worship gatherings to hear the word and to still praise God.
  • God is in complete and total control over EVERYTHING. So if God’s not worried right now about what the next step is going to be, why should we be worrying? Think of it this way, God is the captain of our team. Since he is the captain, his attitude determines the attitude of his team ( the church ). God is calm, not anxious, and in control… therefore we should follow his leadership in being calm, not letting anxiety, and fear rule us. You may not have control over your circumstances, but you do have control over your actions and how you respond to the circumstances that surround you.

The biggest thing we can be doing right now is following our leaders, being cautious/social distancing AND  ( most importantly ) be praying and leaning into the Lord at this time. He will see us all through this, you can trust him on that.

– BE STILL –

He says, “Be still & know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

How many times a day do you think you spend stressing, worrying, accumulating anxiety? Within a week, how many times do you find yourself trying to control every part of your life? My guess is that it is probably more than one time. For me, I can spend minutes which turns into hours of stressing, specifically over my grades and school.

This two weekends ago I went on a trip up to St. Louis from a Thursday to a Sunday. The following Monday I had an anatomy exam. I was dealing with a lot of conflicts during the week. I failed my previous anatomy exam so I was extremely hesitant about going on the trip because I was worried that I was not going to prioritize my studying. Overall, I was very nervous and stressed about the fact I had an exam the day after I came home. I did the best I could with finding a balance between studying and spending time with my family. Still, I found myself very stressed because I was terrified I was going to fail this exam and ultimately fail the class.

I received a box of prayer cards as a gift and I decided that once a week or every other week I will randomly choose a card and hang it on my bathroom mirror (so I would see it every day). The one I picked the night before my exam was Psalm 46:10. even though I “randomly” picked this verse, I know it wasn’t random at all. It goes without saying, God’s timing is perfect. I choose to meditate on this verse, pray it, know it in full.

God showed who he was to me through this verse and for that, am so thankful.

YOU CANNOT BEAT A RIVER INTO SUBMISSION

Written by Jack Pues

Doctor Strange – Surrender

If you haven’t seen the movie, Doctor Strange, I urge you to see it. The movie starts off by showing us the life of Dr. Stephen Strange as a surgeon until he gets in a serious accident, which takes away the use of his hands. He looks for any type of medical help that’ll cure him, but the only help he finds lies within a mystical sanctuary. There he starts to learn about the power of the mystic arts, in order to become powerful enough to heal his hands. The movie goes on to show his journey as a sorcerer, as well as a person. Of course, it has the traditional elements of a comic-book movie, but there’s so much more to it. There is a particular scene where Strange’s teacher, the Ancient One, is trying to teach Strange to let go of all that he knows and accept that this art and power is real, despite whether or not it makes sense. She says to him, “You cannot beat a river into submission. You have to surrender to its current and use its power as your own.” He finally listens to her and embraces his power and all that comes with it. In my opinion, this is the turning point of the movie. After that, Strange excels in the mystic arts. I have thought about that ever since, and I realized something recently: this teaching is one of the most essential parts of faith and our relationship with God.

I was asked in a Bible study recently if I think that I have the power to heal as Jesus did, whether it’s the blind, deaf, sick, etc. I didn’t really know how to answer. It was something I had never considered before. I know Jesus did it, and I have heard miracles such as that happen before with others as well, but I never thought it was something I could do. I thought, “Well, maybe through God’s grace and power, I don’t see why not.” While I was thinking about all of this, the quote from Doctor Strange popped in my head. I immediately tried to relate the two together, and through that, I found my answer. I feel that most Christians, or even people, have prayed for miracles before, and even just for simple things that they desperately want or need. I also feel like so many believers, while praying for God’s intercession, rely more on themselves rather than Him. Many do not fully submit, or “surrender,” to the power of God. God is our river, and His strength, love, and hope are its current. When we try to do it all by ourselves and try to interject our own will into His river, we’re actively fighting against the current. Instead, I urge you all to flow in His embrace. Let Him guide you. Believe that He loves you more than all things. Surrender yourself to Him, and I promise you will see a change in your life. Once you surrender, you will feel his peace and grace. Once you place your WHOLE faith and belief into Him, the Holy Spirit will fill you with the power to do extraordinary things. This was my answer to the question. If we truly believe in God, believe in what he has done, what Jesus’ has done and taught us, and completely surrender ourselves to Him, anything is possible. I think Casting Crowns’ song “Just Be Held” puts it best: “And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control, There’s freedom in surrender, Lay it down and let it go.” You only weaken yourself in your own control, but you are free and strong in Christ when you allow Him to hold you, and float in His current.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

One of the many things I learned in that bible study was that God is on His knee offering us His love and eternal life always. We have the choice to accept Him or not. I promise that if you accept Him…you will be powerful, free, and satisfied.

 

1 year

Today marks one year since I posted my first blog post on here. Reflecting on my posts on the website and on my Instagram, looking through my old prayers, requests, notes, and thoughts on this blog, I have realized how much I have grown from just sharing my thoughts and the word of God.

I’ve been through several different seasons since I started this blog – each has taught me valuable lessons and you can certainly tell by the blog posts I’ve written. I have also learned a heck of a lot about myself – my interests and my dislikes, who I want to be as a person.

I fall short more times than I can count, yet God still loves me and picks me back up. He knows I’m broken and have a fragile heart, but he still sees me as courageous and he provides me with the strength I need. He says I am worthy and beautiful, which is more than I think of myself, but I am trying to rest in that truth. THE SAME GOES FOR YOU!

I see such a huge future for this blog, whether it’s just me who reads it, 10 people, or 100. Numbers in my mind do not matter. However, I truly only care about the 1. The 1 person needs Jesus or a word of encouragement. That has always been my hope and prayer for this blog, that one person comes to know how loved they are in the eyes of Jesus. If one day this impacts 100 people, praise God. But, truly it is the one that God wants and he wants your heart more than anything.

I am forever thankful for this blog, thank God for his faithfulness! Here is to many more years of Jesus loving encouragement!

READ MY FIRST BLOG POST HERE: Why The Beautiful & Brave

READ MY TESTIMONY HERE: My Story

AN HONEST PRAYER

sitting. watching. admiring. waiting. praying. 

image1 (1).jpeg

God what a sinner I am. How I have fallen short time and time again, yet you still love me. I look out at the sunrise admiring your creation, the strokes of the color you so intricately painted together.

You are so good and holy. I feel unworthy to say I am yours, but the fact is that I am worthy. You, in fact, call me your child. You love me even when I am far gone.

Oh, how I love to watch you paint the sky. Your majesty. Heavenly Father. You are good. So perfect and wonderful. Everything I am not. Yet you still love me and my selfish heart.

His works are wondrous. I am so thankful I was able to watch the sunrise this morning. Spending time admiring this painting of the sky was breathtaking.

 

THE WAITING

I can say with almost full confidence I am in a season of waiting. I can see my future dreams + aspirations within reach, but I still have a long way to go. This is hard for me because I so wish I had things accomplished now, or at least next week. So, I am working on appreciating the journey & the waiting.

good things take time

I. What does it look like to be in a season of waiting?

From my own experience, waiting for me seems to look like I am constantly just running the race, doing my work, & staying focused on what lies ahead. Right now I can see the goals + plan God has laid out before me, right now I am just learning patience.

II. What should you do while you are waiting?

Pray. Take time to do your work right. Spend a little more time bettering yourself. Take moments to breathe/ recognize what is going on in the present moment. Sometimes it takes a few months, maybe a few years to reach that point you are waiting for. But, appreciate the journey. You may be waiting for your dream job, waiting on a relationship to heal, waiting to figure out what your purpose is, whatever it may be, just appreciate the journey, even if it is a long, dark road. God would not put you through something if he did not think you would make it, plus he is with you every step of the way.

III. What do you do when the waiting is over?

Praise God for his goodness + thank him for giving you the strength to make it to this point. Celebrate! Whether you landed your dream job/career or your relationship with a loved one is healed, celebrate the good news. Remember to stay focus + just as patient as you were when you were in that season of waiting.

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF ENCOURAGED?

Sometimes, most of the time, I have a difficult time staying encouraged. People encourage me, they give me pep talks, I get hyped up, then an hour later I find myself in the same spot I was last time.

SO, how do we keep ourselves encouraged, even when our circumstances seem to be pulling us in another direction?

  • Speak truth over my life, I find that this helps my mood stay positive. 

    Today will be a good day.

    You are a blessing.

    You are loved.

  • Encourage someone else – when you encourage others, it can help you remember to stay positive.
  • Read your bible or some encouraging words – I find that if I fill my mind with encouraging words from either the bible or simply in a book / devotional, my day completely turns around.
  • Listen to positive, uplifting music!
  • B R E A T H E !

“God is in her, she will not fall.” || Psalm 46:5

I find that these work 100% of the time when it comes to encouraging myself and others. Usually, when I get overwhelmed by something, which it does not take a lot for that to happy, I have to constantly remind myself that I am not in control of things. Knowing this truth helps allow my mind to stand still + be present. I have such a difficult time moving too fast and forgetting to focus on what is happening at that moment.

The mind feasts on what it focuses on. What consumes my thinking will be the making or the breaking of my identity. – Lysa TerKeurst from Uninvited 

The last thing I would like to address is the important fact that we are like sponges. What we feed our mind, we absorb.. we take in. If we are constantly feeding our mind negative + hateful thoughts, that’s who we will become. If we focus too much on the future, rather than the present, we will find ourselves always wanting more + seeking things rather than being present in the moment we are in now. Focusing on the negative will eventually lead you down a path of a negative identity. NOW, if we feed our mind positive, uplifting, + encouraging thoughts/words, our identity will become exactly that. Which in my opinion, will leave you better off now and in the long run.

THE ISLAND OF ISOLATION

Every once in a while I fall into a season of feeling like I am being left out or I am falling behind in life. I have been so consumed with school and starting a new job that I have been having these thoughts that 1) I don’t have friends anymore, 2) everyone has forgotten about me, and 3) that I just don’t have a purpose.

How silly of me to think these things, but sadly when I start thinking stuff like this, my mind just keeps on wandering and going down a path of negative, non-God maximized thoughts. I go into a phase of minimizing God and maximizing my weaknesses.

However, I am being reminded that being “left out” is not what God’s goal is here. I think he is wanting me to realize that I am being set apart versus being set aside – and I have struggled with coming to understand this, I am still trying to make sense of things.

I believe sometimes we have to go through times in our life to somewhat get ourselves together, ready and prepared for our future endeavors essentially God puts us through these seasons of either feeling alone or left out to really help us focus on our purpose and our future.

Lamentations 3: 22-26 || Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

In the midst of disappointments and conflicts in our lives that leave us feeling alone or left out, remember that God wouldn’t put you through anything that wasn’t beneficial to you somehow (yes, that includes heartbreak too). There is always a purpose to pain, disappointment, happiness, joy, and sorrow – don’t allow any of that to stop you from letting God work in your life.

Get off the island of isolation and be here in the present!

ENOUGH

I’ve written about this before, and I will again and again. YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH.

You are enough. I promise. Anyone is crazy to say you aren’t and they are crazy for not giving you the love and appreciation you deserve.

The confidence I have seems to only be for a fleeting moment. I constantly desire what others have rather than look and say, “I have enough. I am enough.” I struggle just like the next person does. I am not a saint. I am not perfect. My humanness is hard to hide and it is extremely difficult most of the time to work on it. One minute I feel like I am making progress, the next minute I find that I have taken 5 steps back. You seriously think he wants YOU of all people? You think she wants to be your friend? I think to myself all the time, “What am I doing wrong? How can I be better in this aspect of my life? Why am I not good enough for this person? I do not have what it takes. I do not have enough. I am not enough.” The moment I start to build myself back up, words and thoughts creep into my mind tearing the effort and work I had back down to dust, down to absolutely nothing. This leaves me feeling so hopeless and confused. Will I ever get back that now destroyed progress?

In the midst of these thoughts and words that are so damaging, I hear a quiet and soft voice speaking to me. A soft reassuring, gentle voice speaking to me… “My daughter… do not forget who you are, do not let this world crumble and tear you down. Look at me, look at who I am. I will provide what you need. Put your trust in me. My love is sweeter than anything you have ever tasted. My words will bring you peace. I will protect you. I will be your rock. Abide in me.”

You know, when you feel small and pushed to the side, it is hard to see anything past that. It is easy to get stuck in the mindset that because this person makes me feel small and unimportant, that that is who and what I am – small and unimportant. But that is not the case, whether you believe it or not. Just because someone treats you like you are unimportant does not mean that is what you are. God certainly does not look at you and think, “This person is unimportant to me.” Absolutely not. He looks at you and thinks, “Perfect. Redeemed. That is my son. That is my daughter. I love who they are and who I have created them to be.”

So, since all of this is true, why do I still struggle with feeling unimportant, small, uninvited, unworthy, unloved by the ones in my life? It’s the enemy. He wants you to feel isolated. However, when you are rooted in the fullness and love of Christ, you will be able to stand against the enemy.

John 15:5-7 || I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 

A SIDE NOTE: Be kind to yourself and to others. I cannot stress that enough. Be positive. Speak supportive and encouraging affirmations to yourself and to others. You never know what a simple smile or kind word may do to someone’s heart. Everyone is on a different journey and everyone is battling something. You have the power within you to spread the gospel and the love of God. Take advantage of it.