Hold Onto Your Faith

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by Michelle Meeks

A song a friend and I wrote a few years ago keeps coming to my mind over and over again. I guess because my friends and I all seem to be waiting for a breakthrough in an area in our lives. For me, it has to do with a dream He placed in my heart a long time ago. I knew He had a lot of work to do in me before this dream would come to fruition. Sometimes the work was quick; other times it was slow. There were also times, like now, that I feel I’m at a standstill. I start to wonder if this dream will ever happen. Once, I thought I could see it coming, but now, not so much. Honestly, I want to quit.

I guess that’s where this song comes in.

Hold Onto Your Faith

Everyday seems like a battle. An uphill climb to the finish line.

But I’ll hold onto my faith, I’ll fight the good fight,

I’ll run the race, til I cross the finish line.

Because where would I be if not for His grace.

He gave His life for me, how can I not give, He’s counting on me,

To be the hands and feet of Jesus.

When you’re passing through life’s fires, know He’s by your side always.

Just hold onto your faith, and fight the good fight

Keep running the race, til you cross the finish line.

Unfortunately, this life is a battle. Sometimes that battle is against ourselves. God has to work in us before we can receive our dream or breakthrough. Other times we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in hight places” (Ephesians 6:12). It’s hard. I’ll be the first one to tell you I have often wanted to quit. It’s been ten years since this dream began. But, as He often reminds me, “Don’t quit. Don’t give up on your faith in Me. Look what all I gave up for you. Look at how far you’ve come. Yes, it’s a battle, but I Am with you to see you through to the end.” So, if you are like me, waiting on a dream, a promise, a breakthrough, don’t give up. He’s counting on us. In the end it will be more than worth it.

1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

1 Corinthian 9: 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

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Preparing For A Winter Season

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by Tina Coble

As it gets colder outside, I notice everyone is beginning to prepare for the changing season.  They turn on their heat in their homes, wear warmer clothes, and even prepare meals, like soup, to warm their bodies.

I began to wonder, “Do I change when I am walking through a spiritual winter season?” To be honest, this is something I struggle with. Usually when I start walking through a season of hardship, I let my flesh take over for a while. I sit and soak in a pour pitiful me attitude. Sometimes I just stand where I am and don’t change my actions.

I believe God is teaching me and others how to adjust to the different seasons in life. Like the devoted gardener who stays busy in the winter making preparations for the spring, we must tend our spiritual winters as best we can. Hopefully, when the next Winter season comes, I am more prepared than the last time.

This is what the Lord has been sharing:

“When it gets cold and hardness comes on you, do you allow the warmth of My love to pull you through? Do you get on your knees, and invite Me to come warm your situation? Do you put on praise music to allow the flow of My Spirit to change the atmosphere? Do you allow me to embrace and love you right where you are?” These are hard question. I know Jesus wants to come and warm up any cold area in our life, but it takes effort on our part to make a change in how we view our situation.

Do you put on the Armor of God to protect you just like you put on a jacket to protect you from the cold.

The Armor of God/ Ephesians 6:10-18

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Do you trust this season will end? Do you trust  I am walking with you at all times?

Be patient and resolve to wait on God. “…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Stay alert for signs of love and comfort from God. The Israelites thought God had abandoned them in the desert, yet there was a pillar of fire by night, a pillar of cloud by day, and manna every day. How dense could they be? Where did they think these miracles came from? Sometimes we feel so sorry for ourselves we fail to notice God’s love, often poured out through the actions of others.

If you are experiencing a spiritual winter now, remember this is a natural cycle and will not last forever. Don’t despair and don’t give up on God!

The seasons of nature are often reflected in the seasons of our lives and the seasons of our soul. All the spiritual giants I’ve known, personally or by reading about them, have had periods in their spiritual lives during which they felt very distant from any relationship with God. These are often called dry spells or desert times, and they can be accompanied by feelings of abandonment, despair, and confusion. So I pray that if you are walking in a Winter Season that God speaks to you right where you are to prepare/walk through this season with him.

Rejoice in The Lord Always

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by Dawn Fisher

One thing I love about living in North Carolina is the changing of the seasons.  I love fall and seeing the color that abounds all round us and the crisp cool air that settles in.  I also love spring. Again a season of color as flowers begin to bloom, birds begin to chirp, and the sun brings in warmer air. These are my two favorite seasons.  What about the cold of winter, and the heat of summer?  Not my favorite, yet both are seasons I still find beauty in.  I love a beautiful snow fall and throwing on my boots and favorite jeans.  I love beach trips and family vacations, which are always a part of our summer.  I embrace each season knowing when I am not enjoying a bitter cold day, spring is on its way.

As I am walking a “winter season” in my personal life, I wonder why I cannot embrace it by holding onto God’s promise that spring follows winter?  Instead I find myself not tolerating this season well at all on most days.  I don’t embrace the season, I just beg and plead for God to take me from this season into the next.  On a spiritual note, I only want to live in the spring and summer seasons.  I want the new beginnings of spring and the fire of God in the summer.  Don’t you?

However, I believe God is saying to me, and would say to you too, is don’t miss me. Don’t miss my colors, attributes, and the faces of my character I want to show you in the fall.  Don’t miss me in the coldest darkest times of your life, because this is when my mercies and presence are the closest and the warmth of my embrace will feel like no other.  Don’t’ we find the tenderness of God in this season?  Without the fall and winter seasons of our spiritual life, we would never experience the compassion and love of God.

In fact, did you know many people think some parts of the earth are hotter, because they are nearer to the sun?  This is not true.  It’s also not true that God is closer to us in the hot summer seasons where we feel the fire of God.  God is with us regardless of our season.  He is with us in all our seasons, showing us who He is, teaching us, and preparing us for the next season.  The reality is the earth leans toward the sun…shouldn’t we too lean toward the “son” to feel the warmth of our Savior.  He shines in our lives regardless of the season.

Don’t we too need all the seasons. They all hold beauty if we find God in them.  Today, regardless of what season you are in, I ask you, where is God?  Is he close?  Is He for you?  What part of who He is does He want to show you in this season?  How is He preparing you for the next?  Will you, regardless of where you are, instead of asking God for a new season and complaining, giving up, threatening to quit on God will you ,

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4

Will you trust God?

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;”  – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Prayer:  Lord thank you that you are always with us regardless of our season.  Forgive us for missing you, denying you or running from you in the fall or winter of our spiritual journeys.  Help us find the beauty of you there.  Help us to find keep a teachable spirit and to rest in the warmth of your love during those times like never before.  Grow our faith and our trust in you and may we cling to your promise of hope and not wavier.  Oh Lord and for the new life of spring you bring in abundance and the fire of your Spirit that falls in those hot summer seasons of our life, Lord we give you praise.  We choose today Lord to rejoice in you always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!

Keep Your Eyes On Me

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by Tina Coble

I was sound asleep one morning when Jesus woke me up at 3am.  I heard Him say, “Keep your eyes on Me.”  I asked Him what do you mean?  He repeated Himself by saying, “Keep your eyes on Me.”  I asked Him again what he meant.  Was something bad coming?  Why is this so important for me to remember?   Again, I heard Him say, “Keep your eyes on Me.”

In Bible studies I have taught and in ministry, I have told others to keep their eyes on Jesus.  I have claimed keeping your eyes on Jesus as an important part of your walk with God.  Now, He was waking me up in the middle of the night to make sure I kept my eyes on Him.  Not knowing exactly why He was telling me this, I decided to dig into His Word for clarification.  He led me to Mark 5:25.

In this story, Jesus, surrounded by a large crowd, was on his way to heal a dying child.  On his way, a woman, who had been sick with bleeding for twelve years, came up behind him and touched his cloak. She had been to doctors for help and spent all she had but only got worse.  She knew if she could only touch Jesus’s clothing, she would be healed.  She wasn’t bothered by the large crowd surrounding Jesus.  Her focus was Him.  The instant she touched his cloak, she was freed from her suffering.  Jesus told her, her faith had healed her.

This woman was at the end of herself.  She didn’t have any where else to go for healing or know anything else to do.  She had a problem no one could solve.  She needed to reach out and touch Jesus.  She didn’t care she had to fight through the crowd to get to him.  Her only concern was getting to him.  Sometimes, we need to reach the end of ourselves and what we can do.  It is at the end of ourselves we find Jesus is who we need.

Are you at the end of yourself?  Do you feel you have no place else to turn because all you do seems meaningless? hopeless?  Do you need to reach out and touch Jesus?  Jesus is waiting.  You may think he’s too busy caring for others.  As you read in this story, Jesus was on his way to help a dying child but stopped for this woman and healed her.  He will stop for you too.  He wants you to come to him and be healed.

After reading this story and thinking about my life, I realize I come to the Lord with strong faith and believe. Then, I take my eyes off of him.  My attention becomes focused on what is or isn’t happening around me and what I can do to fix things.  I miss him in the “crowd” of my worry and hopelessness.

Maybe you are praying.  You know God hears you, but nothing is happening. Maybe things are getting worse. Jesus tells us to hold on and keep our eyes on him. No matter what is going on around you, keep your focus on Him.  God is faithful and will answer our prayers.

Heavenly Father, help me keep my eyes on you no matter what my circumstances are.  Help me not to be distracted by worry or hopelessness.  Let my eyes be fixed on you and trust in you and who you are and what your word tells me.  Keep me in perfect peace.  Amen

Hebrews 12:2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

 

A Heart Healed


by Michelle Meeks

Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

I’m sure if I asked any of you if you had ever been hurt, your answer would be yes. Hurt can come in many forms: rejection, offense, death of a loved one, abuse…the list goes on.  Unfortunately, my way of “dealing” with hurt when I was younger was to bury my feelings.  I would cry sometimes, but usually no one knew.  On the outside I was fine, but on the inside, each hurt resulted in a brick being laid around my heart. To protect myself from hurt or rejection, I didn’t allow people to get close. As a result I lost friendships. I centered my world around my boyfriend. In doing this, I limited my chances of getting hurt.  He became everything to me. We married after I graduated from college. We had a small group of friends we began to socialized with, and I began to slowly open up my heart, but after a few years I found myself right back in that same place again,  hurt and rejected .  This time I decided I didn’t need friends any more, it wasn’t worth the pain. The walls around my heart were tall.  I thought nothing or no one will hurt me again. I was wrong. It was about this time, my Dad was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.  I only thought I knew pain before.  This was  the deepest hurt I had ever known. This hurt penetrated every brick I had bracketed my heart with.  I remember lying in bed making a conscious decision to never feel this kind of hurt again. I still thought I had the power to keep my heart from feeling pain. I had to find a way. This was simply unbearable. As a result I closed off my heart to everyone. I chose anger as my reaction to any kind of hurt. Anger at God, my so called friends, and my husband and yes even my dad.  My husband,, who stood by me as he watched me push everyone else away, was the only one I had left, so he took the brunt of most of my anger, especially after my Dad died.  I never thought during this time what I might be doing to his heart, all I could think of was protecting my own.

Fast forward about 4 years, yes I lived like this, angry at the world, for 4 long years. I started attending a Disciple Bible Study, listening to Christian radio, and eventually I attended a Christian retreat called “The Walk To Emmaus”.  God was watering this hard, barren ground in my heart. Soil I had not tended to in a long time, I was too worried about protecting it to tend to it. But on this walk, God began the process of healing my heart. I asked God to forgive me for being angry with Him, but I still wasn’t sure about giving Him my whole heart.  He brought Godly friends into my life and used them to teach me about trust.  He gave me a safe place within this group of women to learn how to share what I was feeling.  Whether it was anger, sorrow, happiness…I could trust them with my heart. All along He was teaching me I could trust Him with it again too.  God was so patient with me. Yet, when it was time He came along side me and He walked me through the places of my heart I did not want to go and He loved me and showed me the gift of friendship and how much I was missing out on by closing my heart. You see not only did I not feel pain during this time, but I also had felt no love.  This was my greatest desire.

Recently God took me full circle, all the way to the core of me. He completely healed my heart.  One night, during a Bible study I was doing, we were asked to pray for a woman.  The first time I met her a few months ago, I thought, “She has the heart of Jesus.”  So, as each person prayed, I began to cry.  All I could think was this person carries the heart of Jesus, the Jesus who loves me and wants all of me, my whole heart.  When my turn came, I knelt at her feet.   As she wrapped her arms around me, I felt like Jesus himself was wrapping his arms around me.  The room and people around me disappeared.  It was if I had fallen into my Father’s arms. As He held me, all the pain, hurt, and grief I had kept buried in my heart over the years poured out of me.  Each tear I cried, He wiped away, healing all the broken pieces of my heart.  I don’t know how long I cried.  I do know, that night, Jesus healed me.

Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalms 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me…He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”

Are you like how I was, building walls around your heart to protect it?  Keeping people at a distance?  Do you find yourself lonely and longing to be loved and accepted?  Ladies, building walls won’t protect your heart, it will actually hurt it.  God created us to be loved and to love.  We can’t do that when we barricade our hearts.  Trust God with your heart and pray for Godly friends to love you as well

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending your Son to heal my broken heart. I pray that each person reading this, who has a broken heart, will ask You to heal theirs as well.  I pray they will invite you into every area of their heart, so You can mend it and make them whole again.  I pray for any barricades they have erected around their hearts, You will break down.  I pray they feel how much You love them and accept them and that You will bring Godly friends into their lives to love them as well.  Make them whole so they can be loved and love again.  Amen.

“I Will Be With You”

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by Kelly Waite

Exodus 3: 11-12

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 And God said, “I will be with you”. 

As I lay awake around 2:00 am in a hotel bed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,  fear began to set in.  We had arrived in Addis early the morning before and caught up on some rest from two days of traveling.  We made our way to the care center where our son was living and spent time getting to know him.  It was an amazing day filled with incredible joy. The range of emotion is complicated to say the least.  We had come to a place that had remained hidden in our dreams and prayers; but now here it was in the flesh.  Up until this point I never imagined that fear would set in, but it did, like a huge weight sitting upon my chest.

Sometimes when God calls us to something we get excited and can’t wait on His timing to walk it out.  That was me.  I knew that we were called to international adoption.  First, with our two children who are from China and then to our son who lives in Ethiopia.  There was no question in my mind, no doubt.  However, after meeting my son and heading back to the hotel room, full of emotions, I lay in bed and fear crept in.  Fear lied to me and told me  I could not do this. It said my hands were already full with 4 children at home.  How was I going to get anything done with 3 toddlers running around the house, was I ever going to find myself again, did I miss God?  Fear tries to manipulate you into doing what it wants you to do.  It wants you to run away from whatever God is calling you to.

Thank goodness I didn’t fall for fear’s lies and manipulation or I would have taken the next plane home.  Instead I surrendered my life once again to God.  I called upon His sweet mercies and heard His sweet words say to me “I will be with you”.  You see God doesn’t call us to something and then leave us there alone to fend for ourselves.  No, He is always with us.  Just as God called Moses to something that he felt inadequate to do, He told him, “I will be with you”.

Is there something God has called you to, something that you know in the depths of your soul are words spoken directly to your heart from God himself?  Then don’t let fear invade those dreams.  Walk them out with the one who says, “I will be with you”.

Prayer:

Lord I pray that you would instill boldness and peace where fear resides. That you would cast away any doubt and enable your people to walk in their calling today.  I pray for an excitement to stir in their hearts because they know that you will be with them.  In Jesus name, Amen.