Go Directly To God

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By: Savanna Howell

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:26-27)

 These verses really hit home the other day. I had a really bad dream.  I saw something that was pure evil and I woke up not knowing what to do. I knew I could go to the internet, which I did, and it only brought confusion and fear.  I then thought maybe I  go look at  a dream book but the Holy Spirit wasn’t letting me.  I just felt a warning in my spirit not to do that. I went to my mom and asked her for guidance. She suggested I  get in a quiet place with the Lord and ask Him to give me revelation of the dream. I knew this was wisdom because after hearing her suggestion, the Lord brought this scripture to mind.

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. (James 4:8 NLT)

God always confirms with his Word. So I made the decision to go to God directly.  He was wanting me to trust Him, lean on Him and for Him to be my source and guide.

As I waited on Him,  He began to reveal to me more than I could have ever have found out on my own devices. He showed me the meaning of the dream and the strategy of the enemy to try and destroy the good that the Father has done in my family. God laid a specific prayer plan out for me to stop the plan of the enemy with the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

This experience showed me the true power that comes from trusting God and going to  Him first instead of man. If you are struggling with something and seeking wisdom, discernment or revelation in an area of your life, I encourage you to come close to God.  I am living testimony of his promise in James 4:8.  He will come close to you.  Get alone and get quiet with God and listen. I have no doubt, in His perfect timing, He too will guide you and direct you. He will lay out the perfect plan for you and answer your prayers.  Trust in Him and remember His ways will always be confirmed by His Word.

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A Future With The Lord

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By: Hannah Schelling

We all go through tough seasons. The past few weeks has been one of those tough seasons for me. As I reflected and prayed about why God was allowing this tough, dark time in my life, I felt the Lord say “I am teaching you in these times Hannah to come to me. I want you to come to me with everything. I am a compassionate Father who desires a close relationship with you. Hannah, I want you to need Me, to rely on Me, and to trust Me. I want you to believe what I have to say about you. You are My daughter. Let Me tell you who you are to Me so you can recognize everything else as a lie. I want you to come to Me with the decisions you need to make and not to this world, more than that stop trying to do things in my own strength.”

After graduating high school I planned on attending East Carolina University in the spring semester of my freshman year. I was excited, a little nervous, but ready to see what God had in store for me at this new school in a new town. During the fall I began attending the local community college. As the days went by I began to see the needs my family had at home and thought maybe it would be better to just stay home, continuing community college and helping my family. I began to pray and ask God to show me what He wanted me to do. I asked Him to make His will for me clear because I went from a clear goal of attending ECU, to wondering if I should stay home, to quickly feeling lost and confused in the direction I needed to take for my future.

As I continued to press into God and my desire to help my family I began to sense I might be compromising the plans God had for me to go away. Many questions flooded my mind. Could I do both? I didn’t want to compromise God’s plan for my life, but wouldn’t God also want me to help my family? What would happen if I wasn’t there to give my family the help they needed? If I could still go to school and help my family wouldn’t that be a win-win? Wouldn’t it be selfish of me to chase my dream of going away to school when there was a need and a community college right here at home? Can anyone else relate to the flood of questions that enters your mind when you are find yourself in a state of confusion, lost and looking for God’s direction? Has anyone else wondered if you were compromising God’s call in your life? Has anyone else wondered if you were worth it?

I sat in silence waiting and wondering if God was going to answer me, confirm to me where I was to be. Why was He so quiet? What I was once so sure of was now nothing but utter confusion. I began to pray that God would give me a clear sign, make it known where He wanted me and the peace and the courage to walk in His truth would be given to me whatever His answer. I was holding on in the silence and the wait choosing with every bit of strength I had that God would answer my prayer. I held on in the darkest of days, even though some days I felt I was holding on by a thread. It was a grueling wait.

Then just the other day, my mom walked in the door and came to me and said “Hannah, I want you to pursue your plans to go to ECU in the spring”. I was blown away. God answered my prayer through my mom, the very one I was so desperately trying to help. In that very moment, God moved in my heart and brought me the peace and clarity I had been praying for. In a simple moment and through the words of my mom God brought me peace and the excitement returned. He is so faithful. I am beginning to realize I am worth the sacrifice, I don’t ever want to compromise God’s plan for my life, and that I need to trust my family and all things to God. He will take care of me and He will take care of them.

I once heard “anxiety is a result of picturing your future without God in it.” God is in my yesterdays, my todays and my tomorrows and so anxiety and worry have no place in my life or in yours. When you are praying for answers will you take this trust journey with me and begin to truly walk in expectancy that He will come through for you in His perfect timing and not worry. God is in our future, so we don’t have to worry about it. He is always a step ahead of us. Don’t move until God does. Do not wander into the future aimlessly. Remember that each day is a part of your walk; embrace the journey, even the dark times as you are learning to go to your Father with everything and trust God’s plan for you. On the other side of your tough season you will find yourself closer to God than ever. I know I am! Take advantage of this time and pray harder than ever before and in this season more than any other, give Him thanks for His grace and love for you. Believe He will come through with an answer. I heard stated, “The reality of His presence with you, now and forevermore, outshines any fantasy you could ever imagine.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  (Luke 12:22-25)

Envision your life with Jesus in it. His sacrifice is mighty enough to erase all of the lies you believe about yourself, and makes you worthy of the righteousness we have in Him. Trust he will guide you in any decision you need to make. Grab hold of His hand reaching out to you, and never let it go. Together let’s embrace our future with God.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.(Luke 12:34)

Standing in Adversity

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By: Dawn Ashley

 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13 NIV)

Sunday morning I was awaken by the Lord. I say that because I woke up to this “Victory is standing in adversity not walking away”. I did not hear an audible voice but this was the first thing on my mind when I woke and honestly friends I am just not good enough to manufacture such a message.  This did not follow any personal struggle, prayer or dream and I didn’t eat Mexican the night before. Later that day I realized this was my week to write the devotion for Oaks and the Lord was giving me the message.  I began to pray, seek His Word and His heart.  I knew I was to be intentional in what the Lord wanted me to share.  In doing so God ministered to the depths of my heart and overwhelmed me with how He was literally constructing a message right before my eyes, woven through this simple, yet profound word and the pages of His Word.  That is when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt God Almighty has caused His Word to come alive.  I hope this speaks to you as profoundly as it did me.

 We all want to live on the mountain top but the reality is we often have to go through the valley, the times of adversity, to reach the mountain.  In other words, the only way to the mountain is through the valley.  I am a firm believer that God doesn’t take us to something that He doesn’t take us through first. Sometimes to take us to the mountain he has to take us through the valley/through adversity. 

 Standing in the face of adversity simply put means “standing” on God’s truth, the Word of God, in the midst of the difficult time.  Adversity is necessary in our lives. If we allow God, He will use it to build our faith.  In adversity, if we look,  we will see God and the need for Jesus in our lives in a real and personal way.  And be encouraged, adversity is only temporary; a stepping stone to the mountain.  Maybe God needs to teach us something?  Maybe He needs to refine something in us?  But friends, hold on to this.  Our present suffering becomes our future glory!  Our future glory – glory revealed in us and we will be liberated from bondage and brought into freedom!  Now that my friends is VICTORY!  That is worth the standing. Don’t give up my friends. Don’t stop standing on God’s truth no matter what you are walking through.  You don’t know how close you are to that mountain, to your breakthrough, your freedom, your victory! 

 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope thatthe creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21 NIV)

Don’t walk away, don’t give up. If you do it will cost you the very thing you long for. Keep standing.  You are more than a conqueror.  You have God on your side and….

If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 NIV)

Be Strong and Courageous

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By:  Roslyn Maglione

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”

 

The last two weeks in Charlotte have been difficult for police officers.  But as I evaluate, I believe it has been challenging for everyone in America having to come to grips with the racial divide in this country.  I don’t think there was one person who saw the events dealing with the several police shootings in cities across the United States not ponder their thoughts, feelings, and stance on the role of a police officer and racial issues. No matter what you position is on these concerns, there is no easy answer or fix and the wounds on both sides will take time to heal.

On my 6th day of 12 hour shifts, as I drove home after 7 pm so I could briefly greet my family, eat, get a few house chores done, and go to bed to get up early the next morning; I found it extremely discouraging that many people would rather believe posts on social media then to trust evidence and facts.  For me to think that there are people in this country that truly believe everything police do is untrustworthy and to be doubted, made me actually cry. I called my husband and asked if we could afford for me to resign from the police department and give up my retirement. Although I am just three years from full retirement, I almost could not bear to think about having to be thought of as a liar, a “pig”, a racist, dishonest, and mean-spirited by people who have never even met me for 36 more months of my life.  In my 25+ year career, I have prided myself as being honest, caring, fair to all I serve, and having the highest integrity.  Of course my husband told me that we would be fine and that he would support any decision I made because he wants to protect me and assure my happiness.  When I hung up the phone with him, I drove silently in my car and God told me to be still, to let Him lead me.  God reminded of the many people I have helped in the last 25 years, the good work I have completed, and the importance of my job.  He told me to be strong and courageous, and to not forget how His own son was mistreated, yet forgave all and died for their sins.

I know I still have three years to dedicate to all people who need help, seek safety, and justice.  I will not let a few make me abandon the path God has laid out for me.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9