Character, Prayer, Sin

The Key to Prayer

How important are your prayers? Do you care if your prayers are not just heard, but that they are answered? Any person who desires heard and answered prayers should continue on. Many can agree that the Word of God gives assurance. The Word is also filled with many promises. In fact, the Word promises, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT) What does the prayer that gets results looks like? That was my question to God; how can I get results?

His response was not what I was looking for, but was the only way I could see results in what I pray for. What He told me was not that I needed to pray louder, longer, or memorize more scriptures. He told me this through His Word. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm66:18 NLT) I had stuff in my heart. I was holding on to unforgiveness. I was complaining silently because things were not going how I wanted them to go and to Him these things were sins. I needed to be set free from these things before He could hear my prayers and answer them.

Listen to this conversation recorded by David in Psalm 66:16-20: Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me. David, the “man after God’s own heart” had stuff in his heart, but once he confessed those things and allowed God to free him, he got answered prayers.

What have you been praying for lately, that has not yet been answered? Is there any unforgiveness, doubt, hatred, self-pity, lovelessness, or revenge lurking in your heart? The only way to know is to allow the Father to search it because He said, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT)

Dear Daddy,

I thank You for Your love. Father, I ask that the love that You have for me would cause me respond in repentance. Lord, I don’t have time to waste so I give my heart to You asking that You would search it and free me from every sin that would cause Your ears to be deaf to my prayer. I thank You for grace and hearing my cries. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you take some time out today and allow the Lord to search your heart. Just as a home inspector searches a house for a home buyer and finds everything wrong with the house, let the Spirit of God do that for you on today. Yes, it will hurt, but your prayers will begin to be answered according to the Father’s will.

How do you maintain a clean heart or are you in need of a prayer partner to pray with you today for your heart? Please share your thoughts or needs below.

Please click here to vote for EmpowerMoments in the 2012 BlackWeblog Awards!

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Mrs. Lisa M. Purnell-Marshall is happily married to the wonderful and inspiring Antoine L. Marshall. She is the proud mother of two gorgeous girls. Her voice is one of the leading and authentic voices for breast-feeding, especially for the African-American community and Generation Y. She currently works inside of her home and plans to become a professional licensed lactation consultant in 2014. She and her family are members at Spirit of Liberty Church located in Markham, IL. Embracing the love that God has for her, Lisa labors to live an acceptable and pure life through the leading and keeping of the Holy Spirit so that her attitude, words, and actions attract the glory of God. In her free time she loves receiving manis and pedis. Her favorite promises that she find comfort and reassurance in are: Psalm34:19: “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” and Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

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Accountability, Change, Character, Growth/Maturity, Word of God

My Favorite Smart App

I, like many other people these days, own a smartphone. For a very long time my husband and I chose to not get one. We were happy with our basic flips until our carrier gave us a great deal on some smart phones. Once we purchased them, we discovered that with smartphones you can utilize many applications or “smart apps.”

One of my favorite applications is my battery and data usage app. It tracks my usage, manages functions on my phone, and informs me when my phone is about to die. Having this app allows me to receive feed back from my phone that assists me to make changes, such as if I have a low battery and I’m away from my charger, with a swipe of my finger, I can go to my settings and turn my screens back light off. This gives me extra usage until I am able to charge my phone.

One of the exciting things about smartphones and their apps is having access to data about things that matter to me. Getting feedback from apps has made it possible for me to change my behavior based on the information received. I went from subconscious use to paying more attention to what I am doing. This is a simple example of an approach that made a difference for me.

The Word of God has become a spiritual application for me. It’s my spiritual location app. It let’s me know when I’m doubtful, complaining, prideful, fearful, anxious, bitter, jealous, lonely, faithless, prayer-less, unbelieving and so much more.

I’m currently studying the book of Joshua. I’m learning that Joshua and I have a lot more in common than I thought. One of the things I adore about him is he made mistakes, but He consistently obeyed the word of the Lord. God spoke to Joshua a lot and he obeyed. The other comforting thing I adore is God understood Joshua was human, had fears, and anxieties. Geesh, he had to try and fulfill Moses’ shoes.

What the Father wanted Joshua to know through it all is, He had a loving concern for him. He wanted to meet Joshua’s needs. The Lord gave Joshua these profound instructions and at the same time made it a promise: Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8 NIV) 

After using my “spiritual app” or Bible yesterday I have to admit I have not lived a life like this, but I’m going to! One of the things about using the  of God and using it regularly is we can access the wisdom of God and thank God that His Word is just not a smart app, but it’s everything and He fulfills His every word.

Dear Daddy,

Father, gives us the grace to believe in Your Word and obey it. If You told us to not fear let us not fear, if you tell us to trust help us to trust. I thank You, Holy Spirit, for being the “greater” within us and giving us results in the area of our belief. Your Word shows us your love and gives us hope and a future! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to access open your spiritual application aka the Word of God. Allow the app to download information to you so that you can make the appropriate changes in your life. I EMPOWER you to, where ever you are, stop, and give your Father some praise! I truly believe if you commit to obeying the words of the Lord, your obedience will bring blessing now and in eternity. This is a new day for you! No longer will you just have the Word of God, but you will regularly read it, meditate on it, speak it, and obey it. You will receive the strength you need to carry out the will of God over your life.

Would you share with us a time that the Word showed you exactly where you were and what you needed to do to change?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: How Are You Framing Your World?

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Mrs. Lisa M. Purnell-Marshall is happily married to the wonderful and inspiring Antoine L. Marshall. She is the proud mother of two gorgeous girls. Her voice is one of the leading and authentic voices for breast-feeding, especially for the African-American community and Generation Y. She currently works inside of her home and plans to become a professional licensed lactation consultant in 2014. She and her family are members at Spirit of Liberty Church located in Markham, IL. Embracing the love that God has for her, Lisa labors to live an acceptable and pure life through the leading and keeping of the Holy Spirit so that her attitude, words, and actions attract the glory of God. In her free time she loves receiving manis and pedis. Her favorite promises that she find comfort and reassurance in are: Psalm34:19: “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” and Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Attitude, Back To School Series, Character, Direction/Guidance, Self-Control, Speech

Back To School: Trifling!

School has begun for most students across the world so for the next two weeks, EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.   Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

Thinking back over the 18 plus years of schooling I have embarked upon in my lifetime, I immediately thought of a multitude of joyous occasions to share with our EmpowerMoments readers.  It was then that I recognized that the most influential lesson I learned was a result of my very first suspension from school.  As my Spanish teacher distributed the graded exams from the week prior, I laughed and giggled with my tenth grade friends certain that I had passed with flying colors.  When the paper arrived on my desk full of red marks, my first reaction was to blurt out, “This is trifling!”  As I searched the entire sheet for an indication as to why I received such a low score, my teacher approached my desk and sent me directly to the principal because ‘I called her trifling!’

Trifling!

It was when I arrived in the office that I realized just how serious everyone else was taking this one word.  In my mind it was my phrase of the month, nothing more than a mere cliché that I had adapted for everything. I was issued a two-day suspension and a phone call to my parent; I became even more enraged because of the disciplinary actions taken.  My verbiage of choice was not one that deserved a bleep or a sensor; yet, I was being penalized to the fullest extent of my school district.

“For your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the tongue of the crafty.  Your own mouth condemns you and not I; your own lips testify against you.” (Job 15:5-6 AMP)

Two days of suspension and a month after being grounded, I still didn’t fully understand what I had done wrong in this situation to have my social life placed on pause.  Back then I chose to use the word in a very loose context but the definition was purely insulting.  It did not make total sense until I grew older and developed a personal connection with God for myself.  Just as my teacher felt disrespected by my preferred adjective, I would be even more appalled if my relationship with the Father was labeled with such an offensive and harsh term.  Recently, a guy that I know challenged the depth of my love for Christ in a joking manner, but I ended up feeling the sting of his words much like my teacher did back in 2000.  At first I wanted to send him to the nearest principal’s office to be reprimanded when I remembered that Romans 10:9 boldly states that if I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead, I am saved without dispute.  It was then that I realized just how serious my actions were years ago and I FINALLY accepted my punishment.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for allowing me to learn the lessons, even if they occur years later.  Help me to stay sensitive to the words I speak into the atmosphere for they can easily become applicable to my life.  Fill me with words of Your love so that people will be able to see You and none of me.  Please keep me grounded in You that my ears, eyes, and mouth gates will continuously bring glory to Your Kingdom at all times.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Women of God, I EMPOWER you to think back over your days and look at the bigger picture of it all.  Even the happiest times taught you a lesson that can help you to become a better Christian.  Never allow the enemy an opportunity to let his “trifling” ways shine through on a child of God like you.  Have a Blessed week. ☺

What moments from your past or current school days have taught you lessons in becoming a better Christian?

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Ms. Latasha Sampson is an accomplished writer who is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Human Resources Management.  She resides in Nashville, Tennessee where she is a faithful member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. She serves tirelessly with the Evangelism Team there.  Latasha also works at Mt. Zion as a member of the Administrative Support Staff. Her favorite scripture is “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.” Isaiah 54:17

Attitude, Character, Evangelism, Fruit of the Spirit, Growth/Maturity, Jesus, Righteousness

Throwback Thursday: Kissed By The Sun

It’s Throwback Thursday! This EmpowerMoment was originally published on July 25, 2011. Enjoy this blast from the past!

This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him. (Ephesians 4:13 CEV)

On July 16th, my husband and I celebrated our six year anniversary. For my gift, he took me on a four day cruise to the Bahamas. Only a handful of people knew our secret destination but upon my return it was very evident to everyone that I had been somewhere. Once I returned to work, everyone I encountered immediately exclaimed, “You really got a tan; where have you been?” As a writer, it was only natural that I came up with a creative and quirky response. So each time someone inquired, I smiled and said, “Yes, I’ve been kissed by the sun! (And oh yeah, we went to the Bahamas!)”

The fact that I had been on vacation on the beautiful, sunny beaches of the Bahamas was literally written all over my face. I had spent time in the sun and it showed. Likewise, when we have spent time with the Son, it should show! When you’ve had an encounter with Jesus, people around you should know without a shadow of a doubt.

…What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him… (1 John 3:2 MSG)

This revelation led me to do a self-evaluation. What notable transitions have taken place in my life since I have been on this Christian journey? Since my encounter with Jesus has my attitude changed? Am I more patient? Do I smile more? Do I love harder? Am I more forgiving? Am I less selfish and more selfless? What about me says that I have been kissed by the Son?

Ironically, being kissed by the Son has a drastically different effect than being kissed by the sun. While my sun-kissed skin was noticeably darker, my Son-kissed life should be remarkably brighter. “And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 MSG) When people come into my presence is there a certain glow that is ever present suggesting that I have unspeakable joy? Is anyone in my life wondering, “Where has she been and who has she been with because she is really brighter?”

Dear Daddy,

Please help me to recognize the areas of my life that may not exemplify that I have spent time with Jesus. Help me to correct those things so that everyone I encounter will be able to see that I have spent time with the Son. May they see less of me and more of You. If they don’t know Jesus personally, I pray that my life be a living sermon, spreading the Gospel to the unsaved. May our relationship grow so deep that my old fleshy ways no longer rise to the surface. I am just interested in becoming more and more like You every day! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to do a self-examination and determine if your life exemplifies that you’ve had an encounter with Jesus.  If you cannot answer yes, choose to make a change TODAY! If you can answer yes in some areas but not all, choose to make a change TODAY! It doesn’t matter if you have been with Jesus for 10 years or 10 minutes; it should be apparent that you have been kissed by the Son, as your complexion should be brighter!

Ladies, how can you tell when others have been kissed by the Son? Share your story with us.

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: When The Green Card Comes Down

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Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant.  She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments.  As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible more than anything. Her driving inspiration is when God says to her: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11) She currently resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful husband and two lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

Character, Courage, Honesty/Truth, Integrity, Leadership

Lacking Integrity

…As long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.  I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. (Job 27: 3-5 NIV)

Recently, a friend called me for my advice on a matter.  My friend, a current graduate student, explained to me that she had been assigned a partner by her teacher to do a PowerPoint project on leadership and integrity.  Well, my friend took the initiative to start the project, contact her partner, and do the research.  She also emailed the PowerPoint to her partner in the middle of completing the assignment with some things that were left  that the partner could complete, but the partner failed to do that and my friend had to complete them herself.  My friend had completed the project with very little communication and no help from her partner until the night before it had to be submitted.  This time the partner told her that she was finally looking over the project.  It was then the partner put her name on the project, added one quote and a paragraph, and submitted it to the teacher.  The partner didn’t know that my friend had already submitted the project over to the teacher with a note saying in a nutshell that her partner did not fully communicate or help with the project.  So my friend wanted to know if she had done the right thing by telling her teacher.

Later that day I received another call from my friend saying that she wished she hadn’t said anything because the partner still got credit for her work and earned an easy B.  As my friend shared all of this with me, I thought and told her, “How ironic that the lesson was on integrity.”

However, this is not what solely sparked my EmpowerMoment.  Whether the partner was right or wrong is not why I am writing this EM.  This situation led me to remember the time God had to teach me about integrity.

Now, I am a person who is virtuous and trustworthy.  I have also been told by others that I am trustworthy, loyal, honest and a person who people can trust with their lives.  However, I too had to be reminded by God that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23 NIV)

Some years ago my church was studying and learning about revival and during this time I had to pray and ask God to search my heart for any sin I was committing knowingly or unknowingly.  One of the things that God brought to me was lying on my timesheet, recording I arrived at this time or worked X amount of hours knowing it was untrue.

Yet, I felt justified because my job and my then part-time position was flexible and if I had to be in class or go downtown to drop off paperwork I could leave work with no questions asked.  I felt justified because I have always struggled with tardiness, not that I can’t or haven’t been on time.  I felt justified because some days I would even stay later to make up hours.  I felt justified because I thought I couldn’t be the only one doing this.  No matter how much I felt justified, I was still wrong.  If I said I could work from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., then that means I need to be there at 10 a.m. consistently, not at 12 noon whether someone is watching or NOT.  I have to do the right thing whether it’s popular or NOT.  I have to hold fast to my morals whether I am patted on the back or NOT.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)

My heart was heavy about this and I sincerely repented of lying and deceiving.  I took for granted my job, that no one was standing over my shoulders, and that people trusted me.  After God exposed my sin to me and forgave me, He wasn’t done with me.  I had to confess to my boss.  I did and ladies it humbled me and scared me!  I was scared of the result of my confession.  My boss listened, didn’t make me feel worse than I felt, was glad that I confessed and really appreciated my honesty.  Later on my boss made sure the employees had more accountability with our timesheets and consistency and I think that was because of what I had done.  I am relieved to say that I did not get terminated and I was more punctual than ever, but if I did run late I would make a phone call and not lie on my timesheet.  I learned a lesson on integrity and I have been on my job now for about 11 years.

Dear Daddy, 

Thank You for Your righteousness, holiness and justness.  Thank You for Your mercy and unfailing love too.  Thank You for exposing some things in my life so that I can have better character and unadulterated faith.  Thank You for Your forgiveness and giving me humility to confess my sins.  Help me to exude Christ-like character each day no matter the cost.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to live a life worthy of your calling you have received (Ephesians 4:1).  Watch for creeping sin because sin not only displeases God but also blinds your perception of things.  Exude Godly character whether someone is looking or not.  Hold fast to your faith and your morals.  Do not compromise your integrity for anyone including yourself!

Take the time to read about Job (Job 1, 2 and 27:1-5) and Joseph (Genesis 39), two people who maintained their integrity even in difficult times or situations.

Ladies, has God ever had to check your integrity? How did you recover? Share your story with us.

Read a Related EmpowerMoment: Can God Trust You?

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Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write!  Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program.  She help assists Chicago public high school students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college.  She, like many of her students, is the first of her family to graduate from college.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English-Professional & Technical Writing.  God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a Compassion Person and Encourager and so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better thru her support, actions and writing.  Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus

Accountability, Character, Righteousness, Sin

Better Check Yourself

I have been reading Leviticus and I must admit that it is not one of my favorite books of the Bible. I found myself once or twice nodding off while reading the book. I even raised an eyebrow and thought how meticulous the Israelites, under the Old Covenant, had to be when presenting an offering or sacrifice and their selves ceremonially clean to God. As I neared the end of Leviticus, I asked God, “Why am I reading this?”

It was then while reading Leviticus 21:16-18, the light bulb came on or shall I say the Holy Spirit answered my question. “Don’t come before God any kind of way.”

You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart form the nations to be my own. (Leviticus 20:26 NIV)

I should constantly examine myself and my walk with the Lord. Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind. (Psalms 26:2 NIV) I should also check how I approach God in my prayer, praise and time with Him.Every time I read the Word or pray, my phone rings. Although I am actually better at this and I rarely answer it now, I would interrupt my time with God and answer it. Excuse me God; I know this is Your time and You come first, but something has come up is what I’m saying to God. As always, I should have sent the caller to voicemail. After talking to the person, I would go back and try to talk with God and it wouldn’t be the same. There are times when I have come before the Lord not only with my prayer requests, but with daydreams, thoughts of what I have to do, and a Santa Claus list.

Can you identify with this? Do you, like me, read the Word while lying down, ignoring God telling you to get up. God knows and you know too that you will fall asleep if you don’t get up. Have you rushed prayer or shortened your praise? Your breakthrough or answer could have been that very next minute. How many times have we come before God with unforgiveness, bitterness or an unwillingness to obey?

God wants His people to realize that although we are under the New Covenant, He still wants us to be holy. It was not an option then and it is not an option now. God wants His people to be holy, undefiled and without a blemish as He is. Does that mean we, as believers of Christ, will never sin? No. But we should hate sin as God does and not be mastered by it. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14 NIV) We are not perfect but we should be cultivating a perfect heart, one that is full of God’s love as well as undivided towards God. We should be maturing spiritually, seeking God’s presence and obeying His every command. Our love and desire for Him should outweigh our love and desire for the world. Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4b NIV)

Let’s be attentive to how we present ourselves to God:

  • Come correct. Confess your sins and repent sincerely. Have a pure heart, an uncluttered mind and make your petitions before God with the right motives. Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22 NIV)
    When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3 NIV)
  • Have the Fear of the Lord. God doesn’t want you to be intimidated or shaking in your boots. Come boldly before the throne of grace with respect, reverence and honor of our God!
  • Acknowledge who He is; glorify Him and praise His Holy Name!
  • Come with His Word. Get to know God through His Word. Saturate in it and obey it. Speak His promises back to Him.
  • Have a forgiving heart.
  • Bring humility and your undivided heart. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34 NIV)
  • Be consistent and come expecting!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your Son Jesus being our scapegoat and for sacrificing Himself that I may have salvation, mercy and an eternal inheritance. Thank You for reminding me that I am to respect You, honor You, love You wholeheartedly, obey You and be mindful of Your Presence and Power. You are an all consuming fire! You are the Only Wise God, Pure and Holy. You are a Jealous God! Thank You for the New Covenant and help me to keep my part of the covenant. You are Worthy and a Covenant Keeper! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to check yourself. Your relationship with God requires you to look good on the inside FIRST! Let God purify you and consecrate you so that your reflection resembles His Son. Be ye holy as He is holy!  Ask God to show you how He sees you as you are reminded to check yourselves.

How have you been presenting yourselves to God? What changes do you believe you need to make?

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Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write! Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program. She help assists Chicago public high school students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college. She, like many of her students, is the first of her family to graduate from college. She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English-Professional & Technical Writing. God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a Compassion Person and Encourager and so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better thru her support, actions and writing. Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.