Prayer

I have been thinking a lot about prayer lately. If you are new to praying it can seem like a daunting task. The reality is that there is no right or wrong way to pray. God knows your heart, and if the words don’t come out its ok “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26. Cry out to him, tell him your fears, and how you feel- he is there in your pain and he is listening. For myself, prayer is something I have grown up doing. It’s a daily conversation with God about my day, my gratitude for what he has given me, and asking for what I feel I need. However lately I have felt an overwhelming need to pray for other people. Let’s face it, there has been a great need for prayer these last few months. I’m sure you know someone who has been struggling with depression, anger, illness or loneliness during Covid-19; or maybe you yourself are feeling this way. Everyone has days where we need to be lifted up by others, where we may not have the strength ourselves to do so. And by lifting others up to God in prayer are we not giving them the greatest act of love we can offer? “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

Recently I have also learned that I can pray over others. This revelation came as quite a shock and I had to do some more research for myself. I grew up Catholic, and in the Catholic faith the only people that were permitted to lay hands on another and pray over them were those that were ordained. However, in this journey I am on, I have learned that the place to get all the answers I need is in the bible. I opened my bible and started to search for passages that state who can lay hands on another and pray. As I was searching, I found that before Christ came, only the priests and elders etc were performing the anointing (this mostly refers to the anointing of sheep, other animals, or oils as a sacrifice to God) unless God himself spoke and commanded. However, after Christ came, (who was fully human and fully God) he opened a direct path for all humans to God through him. He sent the Holy Spirit to live within each one of us “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Romans 8:9. If each one of us has the Holy Spirit living in us, and our heart is pure and our faith unwavering, we can call upon Him to heal others. We can also ask God to anoint oi; eliminate all impurities within it, and to make it holy for the work of His glory. We can then anoint another with the oil and pray for their healing, wisdom, and understanding. By allowing a person to anoint you and pray over you, you’re inviting the Holy Spirit to be present and intercede on behalf of God to hear your prayers. But be careful who you allow to pray over you. Be sure that they are in right-standing with God, and that their heart is pure.

I wont lie, it was very strange and awkward at first. I stumbled with words in my head. But like I said before, that’s ok! God knows my heart and my intentions. It became easier and more natural the more I opened myself up to the Holy Spirit and let go of my own reservations. I have learned that there is nothing more beautiful or pure than to love someone so much that you pray over them and have the strength of your faith and belief intercede on their behalf. It is a feeling I will never be able to explain. The blessings God shows us when we put others before ourselves is amazing.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
John 14:12-14

Overcoming fear

I have always struggled with public speaking. As far as I am concerned it is catastrophically crippling. I do not do well even in small groups and am likely to stay silent. My face turns beat red if I am called upon and I freeze up like a deer in headlights. It is not only terrifying, but also very embarrassing. I WANTED to get better but didnt know how…. until now!

I was reflecting on The Word during one of my daily devotions. I have recently added these devotionals to my morning routine, and I am enjoying them immensely. This specific one was about fear, now this is something I know all too well! As a matter of fact it has been the center of my prayers for a while now; “Lord give me the courage to stand up and speak your word” or “Please take my fear away and allow me to share my testimony today” and so on. Needless to say that when this topic arose in my guided devotion I smiled and chuckled a little. Coincidence? I think not (see previous entry).

The verse being discussed and reflected on was 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” This specific verse resonated deep within me. It spoke to me; The Lord spoke to me! Almost as if I heard Him myself saying…Do not be afraid; ask and I will be there with you. You see, fear is not of God. I feel it most when I take my eyes off Him and start thinking about my circumstances or feelings about what I need to do. If fear is not of God, then fear is of Satan, right? So, in order to abolish fear, I need to keep my eyes on God; stay focused on Him in ALL that I do. Now I don’t expect that going in front of a crowd will be easy just because I have decided to follow Jesus, but I do KNOW that He will be with me, guiding me; and I find comfort in that. These are very wise words, but I figure using them will take some time and practice.

Having said that; Fear is easy, Faith is hard. Anything worth doing is hard, or so I have been told. In order to practice what I am preaching I will have to trust in The Lord to take care of me and lean on Him. I need to realize that no matter what happens He is there to support me. If by sharing His word with others somehow causes me pain then it’s a small sacrifice I am willing to make; after all Jesus died for me…so my pain seems insignificant now doesn’t it?!

By staying silent am I not betraying my Lord? Am I not acting as if I am ashamed of Him who is Holy? I dare not ever be ashamed of all He has done. I will shout my good graces with all of my heart and all my voice, for He has done marvelous things for me and He is good. He IS an awesome God!

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?”
-Psalm 118:6

Are you proud?

I want to discuss Humility vs Pride today. I have been trying to write this for a few days now, and I am struggling. I have the words but every time I start, I see myself in a light I do not care for. I’m sure I was led to write about this so that I could see myself in that way, and I shouldn’t like it right? If I don’t like what I see then I should change it, correct? So why is this so hard for me to accept? I guess I never saw myself as a boastful person, someone who is full of pride. As humans most of us struggle with pride. We are always looking for that pat on the back, that recognition, or that sympathy; “Look at me”, Look what I did”, “my life just sucks” etc. We are always looking inwards towards ourselves are we not?

The bible says that we should be shining our light on God. We were, in fact, created to bring glory to God, right? And if we should be giving God the glory for everything we are, we have, and we do, then by constantly looking inwards we are committing an act that is detestable in Gods sight, no? This is where I get all caught up in myself again (I know that is pride talking but I am truly grieved that I have been so boastful in my life). So I decided to do something about it and look into what the Word tells me about Humility so I may learn to be humble.

In 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 it states “ Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” In this verse Paul was talking about many of the people in Corinth who were poor and weak. They humbled themselves before God and God saved them. In this He was showing the clever and strong of Corinth that they were too weak to save themselves; he was giving them a chance to be humble. If they did this, then He would save them also. This reminds us that we must not be proud, and it is essential that we be humble in front of God.

And again in 1 Corinthians 4:6-7 “Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” Everything we have (or subsequently don’t have) is a gift from God. All our talents, skills, looks, intelligence, influence is a gift, therefore you cannot boast about having these qualities/things. They are not from you, without God you would not have them. And on the flip side you must not despair about not having enough, because what you DO have is a gift from God. Your life is a gift from God, therefore be humbled and give Him glory.

In the same way in James 4:13-17 “ Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” The Lord wills us to live, for as long as He chooses. Our life is a gift from God, our heart beats for as long as God allows it to beat.

Our greatest example of Humility is the death of Jesus. Colossians 3:12-13 “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins”. Christ humbled himself before God “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”( Luke 22:42) and fulfilled the scripture by dying on the cross and absolving all sin. Humility is rooted in forgiveness.

Jesus was sent to earth as a humble servant, not a king. He asks us to do the same “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. “(Philippians 2:3-4). We are called to serve others as Christ served. God serves us everyday; he gives us shelter, food, life etc. Live your life to lift others up, not in vanity. Christ tells us himself “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Mark 10:43-45)

I am turning a new leaf. I am not going to be perfect and I’m grateful God doesn’t expect perfection. I want to be a humble servant of God for my brothers and sisters, and with the proper tools (my bible) I will do better every day and ask for forgiveness for my failures. There will be many, and that is ok, as long as I keep putting Gods graces first. I urge you to look inside yourself and see where you stand with God.

“I choose grace, I choose mercy
I choose love and all it means
I choose grace, cause I need the power
And I need to walk in humility

Just how often have I let You down
And all the hope around me
Break a gentle heart along with mine
You keep holding out Your arms again
Just the way you found me
And you carry me across another line
Hear me cry
No more pride”
                                                             -Twila paris
                                                             I choose grace

We were created to praise God

What do you do when you are stressed?  When you are happy?  When your prayers are answered?  When they aren’t?  Do you have different responses to each of these situations?  For me I choose to praise God, in all situations I praise God.  

​We were created to praise God.  He created all things, so all gory and praise belongs to Him.  There are many ways to praise God, although most people associate praise with music.  Although singing is one attribute of praise “Praise the Lord; for the Lord is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant” Psalm 135:3, there are many different ways to praise him.   There is humility “And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the Lord your God.  And all the congregation blessed the :Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the Lord, and the king“ 1 Chronicles 29:20, dancing “Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp”  Psalm 149:3,and lifting up your hands “Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name“ Psalm 63:4.  

​Sometimes we struggle to see the big picture of what God has done for us.  This usually leads to complaining and grumpiness.  This is the opposite of praise.  God views complaining and ungratefulness as a sin, as this is the opposite of what we were created for.  By losing sight of the goodness of God, we are committing a sin.  God reminds us of that in the story of the Israelites being delivered out of Egypt (Numbers 14: 26-33)  

​On the flip side, if we are thankful and praise God we will be filled with the Holy Spirit “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” 2 Thessalonians 2:13. Praise can be a powerful tool for us.   It can help pull us out of depression, heal our troubles, empower us during times of trials, sustain us in our persecutions and bring us into Gods presence.  

​There are countless reasons to praise God.  First and foremost, he sent his only Son to die on the cross for our sins, saving us from eternal damnation.   God continually gives us reasons to glorify his name; he purifies us from all unrighteousness, heals our hearts and illnesses, frees is from the power of sin and restores our souls.  

​So my question for you is do you thank him daily? Weekly?  Do you praise his name?  Do you recognize his works in your many blessings?  “Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

​For me I love music.  I find that singing praises to my Lord soothes my soul and brings me peace (although my ability to do this on key is questionable lol).  If I am hurting or looking for answers I will humble myself before my Lord and fall to the ground and pray, thanking him for all he has done for me. 

​ Everyday I praise him-EVERYDAY; even on the rough days I find a reason to praise him.  I encourage you to do the same, and watch how God will change your life!

God Alone by Tolu Odukoya-Ijogun

If You give me a reason, Lord I will praise You

Without a reason, I will still praise You

If You give me a miracle, yes I will praise You

Without a miracle, I will still praise You (2x)

For You are God alone, You are God

Reigning in Majesty, Lord You reign

King of authority, Authority

You are God alone, You are God “

Waiting on the Lord

Sometimes I feel as if I cant go on, as if I can do this anymore. So I pray for change, I beg for release, I cry out to God…and nothing happens. Today I want to talk a bit about Waiting on the Lord. Its easy to say, but not so easy to do right? We try to bargain with God, tell him we cant go on if he doesn’t answer us now, if he doesn’t make the changes we are requesting in our prayers. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 Paul says “For we would not, Brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead”. Paul was conveying that they were beyond their ability to endure their circumstances and expected to die, they had more than they could handle. So, they stopped relying on themselves and started relying on God. Essentially Paul is trying to get us to understand that God gives us more than we can handle so that we will depend on Him and Him alone. Instead of feeling hopeless and despaired let’s try to reach out to God, lean on Him; let him be our strength to endure this season in our life.

Everyone has hardships and difficulties at some point. We are called to look at these moments as “Joyful”, not to be mistaken as happy. This is how as Christians we develop a closer, deeper, and more personal relationship and trust in God (James 1:2-4). If we were never tested do you think we would lean on God? Would you need Him? Would you ask for His presence in your life? Probably not.

God works in our waiting, if we are silent and wait on Him then your blessings will be plentiful. If you aren’t still and willing to wait, then you cant become what God created you to be. He has a plan for your life, and if you wait on Him it will be revealed to you in His time- Not yours! God is faithful. He will give you the strength you need for each day if you just trust in him.

This of course does not mean that God will grant you everything you ask for. He sees the path he has laid out for you and will answer you if it fits into his plan for your life. Sometimes what we ask for is not what we need. We should be grateful that our Lord is so loving and gracious that he would not do anything to harm the future he has set out for us.

“You know friends some people have problems
with patience. When they call God they want
him to come running right then. God don’t
always work that way. See He’s God when He
get there and He can do anything but fail.
Job is one of those that had patience and
he learned to wait on the Lord. And there’s a
Scripture that tells us if we wait on the Lord
He shall renew our strength.
But every now and then we need to tell God to
teach us, and just teach us how to wait. Oh thank you Jesus

Chorus:
They that wait upon the Lord
Shall renew their strength
They shall mount upon the wings of an eagle
They shall run and not faint
They shall walk and not faint
Teach me Lord
Teach me Lord how to wait”
                                                                                       -Teach Me To Wait
                                                                                         by Rev. F.C. Barnes

Is forgiveness really for everyone?

I’m sure at some point in your life you have felt as though you have committed a sin so big that you could never be forgiven for it right? I know I have. What did you do about it? Did you dwell on it for days, weeks, years even? Did you beat yourself up repeatedly while constantly praying for forgiveness? Again, I know I have. So, lets go to The Word and see what it says about sin and forgiveness so we may better understand.

In Hebrews 9:22 it states “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission”; Ephesians 1:7 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” and Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

As we learn about following Jesus and committing our lives to Him, we become more aware of how we fail to live up to the standard of love Jesus has shown us. By failing and owning our failures we consistently get to experience Gods love and commitment to us; The Good News that Jesus died on the cross and rose for the forgiveness of all our sins.

So, what about those sins we find to bad to bare, the ones that we have trouble believing God can forgive us for and maybe can’t even forgive ourselves? Let me first say that your sin is no better or worse than anyone else’s. All sin is evil according to God; and Christ’s death is more than enough, many times over, to cover all the wrong we have done or will ever do. NO SIN IS BEYOND GODS FORGIVENESS. By not forgiving yourself and not believing you can be forgiven, you are saying that Christs death was not enough. By carrying around your guilt and drowning in sorrow and regret you are implying that redemption through Jesus was not enough to pay for all our sins; that His payment was inadequate. If this is true then the Bible must have been lying, because there are many verses that speak of Gods unwavering forgiveness; “whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” Acts 2:21. All our sins (past, present and future) are forgiven because Christ offered His own blood as the sacrifice for our sins. Our forgiveness comes as soon as we ask for it and is forgotten by God “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” Isaiah 43:25.

So how about we take our failures as an opportunity to reflect? Lets think about why we follow Jesus in the first place and how much He loves you, YES you! He was crucified for YOU! He rose from the dead for YOU! He loves you so much he did all of this so YOU can be forgiven of your sins.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by his wounds you have been healed”
1 Peter 2:24

Is God speaking to me?

Over this journey I have realized that I need to listen to God, this is my first step to knowing Him wholly. I need to have a personal relationship with God. But how? I don’t know about you but when I want to know how to do something, I usually look it up. In most cases it’s on google (and although google will work here I went straight to the source) but in this situation I decided it best to go right to The Bible!

My one burning question is How do I know God is talking to me? Let’s see, if I look in my bible, I will see many different ways God spoke to his people. The Bible tells me that God appeared to Moses in a burning bush, and Solomon saw God in a dream, whereas Samuel heard God calling out to him. These are a few of so many examples of God speaking to his children. By far my favourite example is Samuel. I can relate to his story. In case you didn’t know, Samuel was raised by Eli (a high priest). One night God called out to him “Samuel” and he went to Eli saying “here I am”. Eli had not called him and told him to return to bed. The Lord called him again, and again Samuel went to Eli. By the third time Eli realized it was the Lord calling Samuel, so he instructed him to answer, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”. Only then did Samuel recognize Gods voice. You see sometimes God speaks to us and we don’t hear him, we can’t understand him, or we don’t realize its Him speaking.

Although the Bible gave me examples of people in the past, I still had questions. Like how will I know? How will he speak to me? And so on. I reached out to my Pastor. Let me tell you, when I need answers, she is the best place to get them! Not only is she knowledgeable, but she also refers me back to the Word and makes me figure it out on my own. So, let me share with you some of what I learned during our conversation.

First off, God spoke to His people before and He still does today “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matthew 10:20). God sent us the Holy Spirit to be our communicator and to lead us all into truth. The Holy Spirit dwells within each of us, all we need to do is allow Him in. It is a gift from both God the Father and God the Son. After Jesus’ departure from Earth he promised that they would send the Holy Spirit to help spread the message of God (John 14:16-17)

Secondly, God speaks in many different ways. The way he speaks to me may differ from the way he speaks to you. I know of people that have visions or dreams. I know of others that see signs. Sometimes He is found in someone else’s voice (a coincidental statement made to confirm what you are thinking or an uplifting message). And some simply hear his voice or feel a “nagging” for something to be done or said. No matter how God speaks to you it is up to you to listen.

Lastly, God can’t speak to you unless you invite Him in and are silent. You need to pray ask God to give you the knowledge and wisdom to understand His voice. Sit in silence with God, in thanksgiving for all He has done for you and pray. You will learn to recognize His voice, and once you do you will be forever changed!

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”
John 10:27

My story, my start

For those who don’t know me my name is Alyssa. I have 4 beautiful almost grown children, a wonderful husband, and great friends. But despite all of that I was lost. I was searching for meaning in my life, for purpose. I was searching for God. Now I was fortunate enough to realize that God was who I was missing…so the search began. Its strange to search for someone you cant tangibly find. And I wasn’t sure how or where to start. You see I was raised Catholic and have attended church since I was a child. So, the concept of God wasn’t foreign to me, yet I didn’t feel as though I KNEW Him. I yearned to know Him.

I must go back a little, so you understand where I was emotionally and mentally. I went through some difficulties when I was younger, and it was my faith that brought me through all of it. But during that time, I was lost so far inside myself I couldn’t see it. I functioned on a level of necessity for my children. I woke up, got them to school, went to work, fed them, and went to bed. That was all. I had no life left inside me. I was a shell of the once vibrant person I had been. I truly felt as if I didn’t deserve my children, that I was unfit as a parent, daughter, spouse. Its funny how one person can do that to you without you even realizing its happening. How one person can steal your life away from you. I struggled for years like this, alone (or so I thought). My family and friends had been taken away from me, so it just left us; my spouse, my children and myself; Alone. I tried to be the best mom I could with what little I had left inside me. I was permitted very minimal contact with my parents. They plotted to get me back to the woman they knew I was, and the first step would be the hardest. After much thought they realized the only way to get me back was to buy a house. My father signed a mortgage with me and before I knew it, we were moving down the road from them. I would have my parents again. This changed my path and gave me hope when I thought I had none. Slowly I found strength I didn’t know I still had inside me and left him. It took more than once, and over two years for me to leave for good, but I did it. And yes, I would have emotional scars and challenges that would lie ahead of me. It took many years and a lot of love and patience from the people around me to get me through, and I now realize God was present in all those people. Although I didn’t recognize Him then, I can now say that God was with me every hour, every day of my life. He was in the shadows holding me up when I had no strength to stand on my own. He got me through every day even when I couldn’t see Him and didn’t believe He was there. He loved me so much he brought me through the storm and saved my children.

So fast forward, I am married to the most loving and patient partner I could ever want. My children have grown into caring, compassionate young adults. My family and friends are prominent in my life and supportive in every way. I have a good job. My life seems perfect right? Yet I was lost. You see even though I believed that God had helped me along the way, and I gave Him glory for my many blessings I was searching. I wanted to know God on a personal level. I yearned for that relationship with Him. So, I was looking… but where? How? I had no idea what to do so I fell back to what I had been taught so long ago and I prayed.

God is funny, sometimes he shows up in ways that you don’t expect. In my case it was a coworker I didn’t know well. One day he turned to me and revealed what he saw in me. I didn’t even really know this guy, but for some reason I believed him. That started conversations on faith and life. This blossomed into a friendship like no other I have experienced. During this time, the need for Gods presence in my life was getting stronger and I started actively searching for a way to fill that void. The more I spoke to my new friend I saw the love he had for the Lord. I could see Gods love and presence radiate around him and IN him. I wrestled with asking him to attend his church, but after a few weeks I finally gave in and asked. This one single moment, one simple question, changed my life.

That was about 9 months ago. Every day I’m learning more about Gods word and His promises. Every day I love Him more. I am learning to lean on Jesus and His promises for me. I am learning to walk a path of righteousness. I am learning to walk by faith and not sight. I am learning to trust in Him. I don’t know where the future will lead me, but I am excited to find out what My Lord has planned for me.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding”
Proverbs 3:5