The Power of Prayer

 

Prayer
prer/noun
  1. a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.

“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24

Elijah

Your prayers for someone else could change their whole life. 

In this scripture, Jesus tells us that our prayer is powerful. He encourages us to take our needs, our pain, our happiness and our whole selves to him in prayer. Prayer is our direct connection to our Father. As the definition explains above, it’s an expression of thankfulness or an object of worship.

Prayer is the opportunity for God to hear everything on your heart from your own mouth. It’s his opportunity to speak to you in the areas you need help.

For me, the most powerful use of prayer is to direct my words toward someone else. When I start to feel selfish, I pray for someone else. I take the attention off of me to learn selflessness. This allows God to work on my heart and use me to influence others around me.

prayer box

Put your prayers in a box to keep your petitions close to your heart.

Have you ever thought about praying for someone instead of cursing them? When someone does you wrong or you feel that pang of envy, pray that God blesses them with happiness and health. Pray as hard as you can that God showers them with love because with each petition, another layer of stone is crumbling off your own heart.

What have you experienced when you gave yourself to prayer?

13 Scriptures that Support 13 Reasons Why Real Life Issues

The new Netflix original series “Thirteen Reasons Why” is blowing up everywhere. Based on a book by Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why centralizes around the suicide of a 17-year-old high schooler, Hannah, and her audio suicide note

From episode one, I was hooked. There are so many real life scenarios that teens and adults face these days. But instead of looking at it like it was revolutionary information, I turned to the scriptures that support these themes that the bible has been telling us for centuries.

13 reasons why

Love Your Neighbor

Throughout the whole story, the characters are just plain hateful. And because of their lack of love for their fellow classmates, another scar is added to their peers’ already cracked surfaces. The bible specifically tells us “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Mark 12:31

If for one second these characters would have stopped to put themselves in their peers’ shoes, this heart breaking end would’ve been different. Think about all of the times arguments would have gone differently if someone would have just considered what you were going through.

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” – 1 Peter 3:8

Forgiveness

The escalation of every event in this story boils down to unforgiveness. Every character here, as it is in real life, is guilty of some mistake. Their refusal to forgive one another builds towards broken friendships and death. The bible tells us in Matthew 6:15 that if we don’t forget others, God will not forgive us. “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Can you imagine being punished for every mistake you have ever made? From accidentally breaking a pencil to breaking a heart? 13 Reasons Why is a realistic depiction of unforgiveness and the calamity it brings.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

Accountability and Reputation

Almost everyone in this story passed the buck, even down to Hannah blaming everyone for her suicide. Each character has done something wrong whether it was an accident or not. The characters lack of acceptance of their own faults add to Hannah’s pain and the impossible resolution of the problem. But in the end, everyone will be held accountable for their words and actions.

“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:36 – 37

In life, when we constantly blame others for our mistakes, or refuse to even accept we did something wrong, we only ruin our reputation. We then become the liar or the untrustworthy friend as we see the characters become in this story.

“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold.” – Proverbs 22:1

Free Will

We always have a decision. We always have the ability to do the right thing. This pressure of decisions is seen throughout the entire story line. As it is in real life, each of these characters had the opportunity to say NO and be different. God always provides a way out from any situation. The bible tells us we will never be tested beyond what we can bear. And that is exactly what these characters chose to ignore.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful;he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Love

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31

Pretty self-explanatory right? The best way to avoid conflict is to treat others as yourself. Would you slander or humiliate yourself? Chances are, the answer is no. So why do we as a society feel that it is a necessary part of life to bring each other down?

Not one person in this entire story worked to uplift their peer. They treated each other like diseases and just hoped they’d eventually disappear.

Consequences

We see the butterfly effect throughout this story. One bad thing happens and caused another and another and another. One person lies, then another cheats, then another hides the truth and eventually someone dies. I pray that your consequences will never be so dire but for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. No sin goes unnoticed and God allows us to experiences these consequences in order for us to grow.

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” – Galatians 6:7-8

Gossip

It all started with one rumor. One little fib that was multiplied and morphed into an incorrect label. This story is the definition of how gossip can ruin a life. Have you ever made a statement that was not entirely true? When it go back to you was it something you’d like to be remembered for?

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29

Gossip is hurtful and easy to fall into. If you are not a part of the problem or the solution, it’s gossip and you have no place being a part of the conversation.

Love Your Enemy

“But love our enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” – Luke 6:35

Sometimes there is no line between friend and foe, but Jesus calls us to love those who persecute and hurt us. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).” When you choose to be loving towards someone who despises you, you are giving God an opportunity to revive their stone heart.

The characters in this story sought revenge instead and every time it ended badly. Think about the times you’ve been wronged. What would the outcome be if you hadn’t reacted but allowed God to work instead?

Truth

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

Most of the pain caused in this story is the characters inability to share the truth. Like a block of cement, their secrets weighed them down to the point of death. This scripture doesn’t just mean to be honest, it physically means that God is truth and he will set you free. Truth breaks all the chains the world tries to put on us and delivers us to everlasting life.

In no way do I knock what Asher has done with this story. These real life issues need to be addressed because they shouldn’t exist. Maybe stories like this will be a wake up call for society to pay attention to each other and really embrace what The Beatles proclaimed from rooftops, “Love is all you need. “

Living Like Christ Is Coming Tomorrow

I recently started a study plan entitled “Freedom From All Fear.” It covers everything from peer pressure to worry. In the last couple of days, I’ve been focusing on not worrying about the big scary world but instead focusing on Jesus’ homecoming.

matthew 24

In Matthew 24, Jesus prophesies about the wars and terror we see on the news everyday.

“And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic…” – Matthew 24:6

He assures us that we are to expect these things to happen because they foreshadow his homecoming. He doesn’t say it will end immediately but these events will progress.

“Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.” – Matthew 24:6-7

Although these things are painful to hear, Jesus did not give us this prophecy to scare us into hiding under a rock. He was giving us hope and encouragement that He will soon be following. God’s timing is not always our timing – it could be today or in years.

I want to live like He will arrive in several hours even if realistically it may be a 100 years. Jesus’ arrival should be every Christians dream. I can’t wait until the day when all of this insanity in the world just disappears – when everything is finally perfect.

But TODAY, I am still in an imperfect world fighting to share the Gospel of Jesus. Living as if Christ will knock on my door at any moment is what drives me to be obedient. It drives to me to be thankful for every moment I have on earth, whether good or bad. Because every moment draws me closer and closer to meeting with God. And at that moment, I want to proudly stand tall and feel confident that I did my very best with the days I was given.

I challenge you to reflect on your own day. Are you living as if Jesus will be here tomorrow or are you hoping for centuries to clean up your act?

 

Learning to Follow

All my life I was taught to make decisions. To create my own destiny and carve out my own path. I was never taught to follow…until I decided to follow God.

Gate

Over the years, I had gotten used to calling my own shots. To make the same mistakes over and over and hope someone how the result would change. That’s the definition of insanity right?

But when I began learning the Gospel of Jesus my mind opened up to a whole new way of living. God calls us to follow because He’s already got everything figured out. We no longer have to infinitely make the same bad decision because God already mapped it for us.

The first thing I learned about following Jesus is it’s hard. I’ve had to allow to completely reprogram my mind to stopping relying on the world’s game of chance and start having faith in Him.

 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13 – 14

The bible tells me that following God will not be easy and that many people will choose not to. But it also tells me that my reward is everlasting life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

So what will you choose? Insanity or life?

Scriptures to Get Through Rough Days

Some days seems to fly by while others appear never-ending. For those days that I am struggling to make it, I have few go to scriptures that encourage me to push through. Whether you’re struggling with a person or a feeling, I hope these will help remind you that God loves you and always offers a helping hand.

scriptures

Proverbs 3:5

“Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding.”

Isaiah 41:10

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

1 Peter 3:9

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.”

Isaiah 43:25

“I-yes-I alone- will blot out your sins for me own sake and will never think of them again.”

Hebrews 11:1

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Please share your favorites in the comments below!

Jesus Saved Me

So here’s my story. I’ve debated over and over if I was ready to be vulnerable enough to share it. It’s a little nerve-wracking because I’m allowing so many into this personal story. But after sharing with my congregation and within women’s events, I’ve learned to embrace my trials. Warning: this is a long story and has a happy ending

3-16

John 3:16

I officially dedicated my life to God and decided to follow Jesus November 10, 2015. This was my baptism day. This was such an amazing experience and start to a whole life. So here’s everything that happened before.

My husband and I began dating in high school and like any other 16-year-olds, we were madly in love. We did everything together including trying to control each others lives even down to what family members we approved of. In short, this didn’t turn our well.

With hormones and attitudes high, we both were kicked out of each others houses for periods and shunned on by our family members. I can even remember fighting with his 13-year-old niece and her mom. When looking back, all of our arguments were so comical. (The best part is that his sister is now one of my closest friends. God really is good!)

I was so insecure for so many years that I couldn’t imagine losing him to another person. This need for control and jealousy only led to heart-break and pushed us further away from each other. We cheated and lied and didn’t treat our relationship with  respect. So in 2014, we broke up for real.

We both went our separate ways. I absorbed myself in UNLV and my sorority and he acted like a single dude. One day, he met a fellow student who invited him to bible talk and a few hours later, he was studying the bible for the first time.

Since we weren’t talking, I had no idea. I head it through the grapevine that he was baptized and I couldn’t believe it! The guy who hated when I dragged him to my church plays and despised everything about the sermon was now a follower of Jesus.

For the next few months, he began bugging me to come out to bible talk. Since my hatred for all the terrible things that happened in the past was still raging, I ignored him. After I couldn’t take one more annoying text message, I finally agreed.

I stayed for exactly 15 minutes and bolted. I wasn’t ready to see him but he was so different. So nice and loving and genuinely wanted to be my friend – no gimmicks. I still continued to ignore his requests for coming back to bible talk even though something was eating me inside knowing that I did need Jesus but was too prideful to admit it.

So one night on my friends 21st birthday, I hit rock bottom. I was in a terrible long distance relationship with the world’s worst boyfriend and was at a club surrounded by people who only came for the free booze. At that moment, I was a mess. I left the club and practically ran to my car in tears and called the only person I knew would answer, my husband.

At 1 a.m., he showed up at the top of a parking lot to let me cry out my mistakes and share the Gospel of Jesus. For many of you, all of this may seem crazy. But when you’ve literally lost your identity, hearing that Jesus loves your and wants to give you a new life means everything.

From that night, I started attending bible talk regularly and made friends with several of the girls attending. We started studying the bible and my life radically began to change. I started repairing broken relationships within my own family, with my parents and sister, and even starting fixing things with my husband’s family.

In August 2015 we started dating for the final time with a whole new ideal. Our relationship would glorify God at every outlet and we would not allow ourselves to be the same people we were in the past. In November, I was officially baptized and I haven’t looked back.

baptism

From that huge decision to follow Jesus, my life has been turned upside down. Miracles upon miracles have been poured out because I chose to not be of this world. Here are just a few:

  • My parents began repairing their marriage that was on the verge of divorce.
    • They’re now leading the married ministry at their church!
  • My father stopped drinking after years of alcoholism and we actually have a relationship!
    • Most days I can’t even recognize the old scary man he used to be. Through endless prayer from our family, God performed this miracle and gave him a new life.
  • My husband and I are happily married and always striving to put God first.
  • My sister-in-law and her husband gave their lives to Christ.
    • This was the sister I almost fist fought and God gave me the opportunity to share my life and his word to bring her home to his Kingdom.

I could go on and on about the miracles God has performed in my life since I chose to follow him. If you’re wondering if there is more to this life than devastation and heart ache, Jesus is the answer. He died a perfect man in hopes that YOU would find your way home.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

I encourage you to open your bible and see what God has in store for you.

My 1 Peter Promise

For the last several months, my church as been going through a 1 Peter series. We’ve dived into the history, gone verse by verse and even been challenged to ask the hard questions. After reflecting on the entire study, I’ve been able to solidify my 1 Peter promise of living a beautiful life.

1-peter

There are four main purposes of the book of 1 Peter:

  1. Remember what you have in Christ.
  2. Practice what you profess.
  3. Endure suffering.
  4. Focus on Christ (love each other and impact the lost).

From this study, I’ve learned more about my heavenly citizenship and that the knowledge of this inheritance should bring joy (1 Peter 1:3-6). I’ve come to better understand that trials test the trustworthiness of our faith and it is an opportunity for God to refine out impurities to reveal a new me. (1 Peter 1:7-9).

Living a beautiful life, as detailed in this study, is a requirement not an option. We do it because we are loved by God, because this world is not our home and because we were created to stand out among the masses. I’ve learned that this beautiful life also calls for submission to authority (1 Peter 2:13 – 17) because it is God’s will. It’s about serving the Lord first and submitting with a voluntary attitude (1 Peter 3: 1 -12).

As Christians, our example is Christ and we have been delivered from damnation. But this freedom is not an excuse to cover up for evil in our lives. We are called to suffer for doing right (as Christ did) so we can show God in all we do (1 Peter 2:11 – 12). We should allow ourselves to not be guilty of what others accuse us of. But instead set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts and filter EVERYTHING through him (1 Peter 3:13 – 17).

In this book, Peter even detailed practical ways to live the beautiful life we’ve been given. As disciples, we will be persecuted for our beliefs and our life style. Our friends and family will criticize our new lives and doubt our change. 1 Peter 4:1-6, instructs us to have the same mindset as Christ daily and prepare ourselves for this inevitable battle with the world. We are living for God.

When the road gets rough, the answer is always to pray (1 Peter 4:7-11). God will always be there and tell you what to do if you listen. Use your gifts to glorify God and be hospitable especially when people don’t deserve it. The enemy is standing like a crouching lion waiting to pounce. But don’t fret. Stand firm in your faith and God will restore you.

Are you willing to live the beautiful life God is asking? I encourage you to read 1 Peter build your faith to live as God is calling you to.

 

Reason for the Season

The holiday season is upon us and 2016 is wrapping up. With a tree filled with presents and a fridge filled with desserts, I’ve begun reflecting on what this time of my life really means.

jesus

2016 has been filled with blessings and heart ache. God has been molding me into a wife and stronger disciple. But this season isn’t just about me. As the famous phrase goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

Many many years ago, a child that would save the world was born to an average couple. God chose Mary and Joseph to help raise the Messiah that would one day be our king.

This season celebrates so much of what God has taught us through his son. We give more. We love more. We forgive quicker and we smile bigger.

God is teaching me patience and to follow the path He has chosen for me. I’m learning to let go of where I think I should be in my career. Instead, I’m allowing God to guide me, even if it’s to a future I’ve never dreamed of.

“When one door closes another one opens.” I am a firm believer that when God closes a door on what seems to be a perfect opportunity, He is opening one that is even great than I can imagine.

What is God teaching you that will shape you in the year to come?

Living by Your Heavenly Citizenship

As Christians, we are foreigners to the world. We belong in Heaven. 1 Peter instructs and encourages us to embrace our heavenly citizenship (1 Peter 1:1-2) and never take this gift for granted.

daughter-of-king

We are given a new birth in Christ that radically changes us.

“Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” – John 3:5

Our thoughts and actions are so insanely transformed that we are able to be obedient to God and live a life pleasing to him. Jesus gives us this strength because he is a living hope.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

He trains us and teaches us how to live a righteous life because we are called for greatness. We are sons and daughters of the king and our lives should reflect our royalty.

“6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials 7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; ” 1 Peter 1:6-7

So are you living in joyful obedience as the royal priesthood that you are? If not, what impurity is in your faith that God is trying to burn out?

The Truth About Modesty

modesty

When I used to hear the word modesty, I immediately thought of Little House on the Prairie. I thought of long floor length dresses, fringe and all together a boring style. But I was missing the point.

Once I began studying the bible (coming up on two years ago) and surrounding myself with godly women, my eyes opened to what God expects of me as a woman.

“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,” 1 Timothy 2:9

This short scripture blew my mind. Never once had I even thought about what message my clothing was projecting. I was only concerned about my opinion of my outfit. In actuality, I was just looking for attention because I needed someone else to build my confidence.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Being modest doesn’t mean cloaking yourself in hand knitted dresses and bonnets. It’s paying attention to whether you are showing the world that you are a follow of Christ or if you are just devoted to yourself.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh,the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not from the Father but from the world.” – 1 John 2:15-16