Focus, Motivation, Persistance, Self-Control

You Got This!

The other day I was mentally gearing myself up to dedicate more time and energy to a healthier lifestyle. I was reflecting and became frustrated because I thought, “Lord, why do I have this constant battle with food!” It is not the exercise, I did Insanity and jogged afterwards. But I have a love affair with food. I can start my day off well with egg whites, spinach, and tomatoes with a side of green tea, snack on humus and carrots later, then have a whopping burger and fries for lunch, because I HAD to have it! I was talking to my husband about this and all the excuses of being so far away from my close group of runners and work-out-a-holic buddies and we both came to the conclusion that sometimes you have just have to GET IT DONE! You have to find and inner motivation to get going and keep going. Your success is not dependent on other people. Well, I reflected more and continued my conversations with God regarding my focus and He replied,

More in You“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.” I Corinthians 10:13 NIV

I was so empowered at that moment. I read it over and over understanding and realizing that God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can overcome. I can overcome these pesky temptations with trigger foods. The more and more I thanked God for providing this insight the more clarity I gained with being focused on this vision.

Many times the enemy will come in to distract us and cover our eyes with defeat. Not only did Paul teach us “I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength,” but God just reminded me that He is faithful and will provide a way out!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for reminding me in Your Word that You will not allow temptation to greet me if I can’t overcome. Thank You for making me feel strong in knowing that not only have You already equipped me to be able to overcome it, but that You are faithful and provide an exit and an escape. Lord, I thank You for strengthening me and giving me power through Your Word, Your love, and Your faithfulness. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to OVERCOME IT! You got this! Your battle may not be food. It may be sex, shopping, lying, or some other distraction that does not allow you to be your best self in God. God will not allow these things to come to you if He didn’t provide a way out. Stay watchful, He has a way out of this!

What tactics do you use to overcome temptation?

Please help us bless and EMPOWER homeless women and their children as the beginning of a new school year nears!  For more information on how you can donate and help make a difference, please click here http://www.gofundme.com/cfeux8

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As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is a university administrator. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV) Khalilah also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment. Her passion is mentoring young women and marriage empowerment. She resides in Orange Beach, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their two daughters. They are members of New Beginnings Christian Center in Foley, AL.

Enemies, Gentleness, Love, Prayer, Self-Control, Testimony Series

My Testimony: A Testy Testimony

Happy New Year EmpowerMoments family! We have surely missed you! As we kick off the new year, we are beginning with a series entitled “Testimonies & Lessons”. We believe Revelation 12:11 when it says that we overcome by the word of our testimonies. We pray that our testimony and lessons from last year will EMPOWER you to triumph this year! May God bless you and make 2014 the greatest year of your life thus far!

Have you ever wished you weren’t a Christian just so you could claim ignorance when you intentionally did something wrong? Or have you ever wished you weren’t a Christian so you would not feel convicted to be an example of Christ for someone who is unsaved or for someone who you really don’t like. Until the latter part of last year, I had not had that experience. I was in a position where I had to “deal” with this person who I thought was rather unpleasant and had a habit of rubbing people the wrong way. The situation was very challenging. I was often in positions where I had to spend unwanted time with her. I would think to myself, “Lord, please help me to remain gracious and suppress my flesh.” I mean I just really didn’t like her, so much so I dreaded the thought of her. Moreover, I felt like my feelings were warranted because of her ugly ways and actions.  I really just wanted to “go off” on her one good time. But I was convicted by the fact that I am a Christian who is supposed to help bring others to Christ. What kind of witness would I be if I acted irrationally and out of character just to satisfy my fleshly desires? So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17 ESV)

I greatly battled with this. I even wished that she was a Christian so that at least it would be less pressure to “do the right thing” because Christians understand that Christians don’t always act “Christian” right? (How ridiculous is that thought? Guess I was really desperate.) But noooo, it would be too easy for her to be Christian and that would diminish the lesson God was teaching me. She is a deist of sorts. Deism, according to the freedictionary.com, is the belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation. My experience with her was so challenging that I would think, “really, God, I ask You to increase my walk with You and this is what You do?”

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. (Luke 6: 27-31 ESV)

I was soooo frustrated. I don’t recall there ever being a time in my life where I felt so ill toward someone. I realized it was negatively impacting my life!  If I were to ever conquer this situation, God was going to have to help me! And help me He did…

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. (Romans 12:14 NLT) This was so much harder than I thought and I thought I had been doing this my whole life. Certain situations really put certain scripture in perspective for you.

I started to PRAY more, not just for me, but FOR HER. I prayed on how to deal with her. I prayed on how to deal with myself regarding my feelings and thoughts toward her. I prayed to have her removed from my immediate surroundings. Then, believe it or not, over time I found myself praying for her “for real”, her heart, her salvation, her life and her situations. Over time, I didn’t dread the thought or sight of her as much. I wanted my life and light to reflect Christ toward her. I intentionally tried to set a good example even when she tested my resolve. It has now become easier to have a conversation with her and I could care less if she’s in “my space” or not. I guess the saying is true: “Prayer may not change the person, but it’ll change you.” Later, as God would have it, she was relocated to another area and we didn’t have to share the same space anymore. Funny how God works huh?

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for teaching lessons we unknowingly need to learn. Thanks for seeing past our emotions and for forgiving us when we don’t act like You would have us too. Thanks for strengthening our relationship with You through new experiences. Help us to pray for those who do us wrong and trust that You will handle it all in Your time. You said You would make our enemies our footstool, and we know that all things work together for our good. Thank You for the revelation and the unlikely testimony. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Tired, tried and tested sisters, I EMPOWER you to push past your feelings and give the situation to Jesus. I EMPOWER you to know that the test comes before the testimony! I EMPOWER you to hold on to the Word and abide by it no matter how trying or tempting the situation is. I EMPOWER you to pray for your enemies genuinely and sincerely! I EMPOWER you to go from test to testimony!

Ladies, who is God laying on your heart to pray for during your tests?

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Mrs. Coretta Collins is a wife and mother who enjoys reading, writing, movies and spending time with family and friends. She is avid about health, healing and helping which serves her well as a registered nurse and recent Family Nurse Practitioner graduate. Striving to be led by the Lord throughout life and having overcome significant challenges, her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Coretta is a member of St. John A.M.E. Church in Birmingham, Alabama. She resides in Calera, Alabama with her awesome husband and two wonderful sons.

Attitude, Growth/Maturity, Self-Control, Speech

Be Quiet!

I like working alone and working with people, but it is not always easy working with others.  You have to experience a lot when working or collaborating with others.  I have learned in all my years of working that sometimes there are a lot of miscommunication, egos, pride, selfishness, control issues, backstabbing, intimidation, stress, etc. to contend with.  I can go on and on but then it would turn into complaining.

Yesterday, I attended several meetings at work back to back (by the way I hate meetings most of the time).  In one meeting, I observed, listened and for the umpteenth time I could sense tension, ego and pride in the air.  I admit a little of this came from me also.  I sat listening and then was invited to speak up about a concern I had.  As one of the meeting attendees addressed the concern, I listened and then responded to what sounded like me and my staff’s work being demeaned again.  You might ask, “Well was it constructive criticism?”  In this case it wasn’t constructive.  I have dealt with people’s arrogance, pride and control issues on my job for some time now and because of this I am sometimes in defense mode.  As I responded, I felt a little nervous voicing my concern. After all, I’m not very confrontational.  However, I became offended, grew defensive and could feel my voice rise an octave.  Yet God intervened.  As the person kept talking and I became more offended, God shushed me.  A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11 NIV)

In my head, I was thinking a lot of thoughts.  I wanted to shout aloud, “My staff have degrees too and are qualified to do the work; trust us.  We double check our work.  We work very hard; we are passionate about what we do.  We have been here longer than you. Why can’t you see that we are here to help you?  Why are you making me feel inferior?  Why are you lying?  Why do I have to sit in these repetitive meetings?  We are getting nowhere.”  Instead of verbally releasing these thoughts, God helped me to shut up my thoughts and keep my mouth closed.

God reminded me that He was my defender and that He will defend me.  He reminded me that I am above and not beneath, the head and not the tail.  He reminded me that I am not inferior and I should not also make others feel inferior.  He also let me know that I was being proud even in my thoughts.   Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12 NIV)

So, I shut up and I listened because I knew I would be acting proudly by boasting and taking offense to what the other person was saying and maybe didn’t mean it to the full extent.  I sat there thinking that I don’t have to throw up my resume` or accolades like they do.  By the Holy Spirit helping me to take those thoughts captive and make it obedient to Christ and by Christ revealing to me that I was treading proud grounds, I let go trying to defend myself.  How would it look if I, a Christian, acted in a proud, offensive and defensive manner?

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your mercy and Your gently rebukes.  Thank You for reminding me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I am above and not beneath, the head and not the tail.  Thank You for also being my defender and having great thoughts towards me.  Help me to remember this when someone offends or hurts me.  Help me to not be easily offended but to walk in love and maintain patience with others and in every situation.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to be quiet!  Stop trying to defend yourself and let God come to your defense.  Clothe yourself in humility and don’t be easily offended.  Don’t easily offend others also.  Walk in love because love conquers all. 

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Lord, Help Me Watch My Mouth

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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 compassionate 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.

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

Encouragement, God's Love, Growth/Maturity, Honesty/Truth, Self-Control, Sin, Spirit of Religion

Emotions Make You…

Is it okay to feel overwhelmed?  To feel overworked, but still poor?  To feel so tired your feet and back are sore?  Do you wish you had someone to walk through it with you and hold your hand?

Can a Christian be mad?  Regardless of it all, am I supposed to always be glad?  Is it alright for people to do me wrong and sometimes I want to respond with a fight, or am I supposed to turn the other cheek and move on with my life?

Can a single Christian be lonely in the city? God is a constant sense of company, but is it wrong to want someone else to adore me?  What if I lose the fight with these sexual desires called lust?  If I act on these cravings, am I no longer worthy of God’s trust?  If I give into sin is that the end?

Everything that I mentioned in the above passage has to do with emotions or physical actions.   Does being a Christian make you no longer human?  The answer is ‘no’.   It is okay as to feel, even as a Christian.  We attempt to mask our feelings behind a facade of Bible verses and silent curses.  We want people to think that we are always trusting in the Lord and never have a fear; however, that is not my reality.

“Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not ignore my cry for help! Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles. My enemies shout at me, making loud and wicked threats. They bring trouble on me and angrily hunt me down. My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking.”  (Psalm 55:1-5 NLT)

Even in the Bible there are many instances of feelings of hurt, sadness, anger, pain, lust, fear, and many others.  However, God loved them all regardless of these things.  It is okay to know that God will love you too regardless of your momentary downfalls.

Dear Daddy,

I come before You asking You to give me control over my feelings and emotions.  Please allow me to remember that it is okay to feel, but how I react on these emotions is the key.  Give me the strength to be able to walk away from certain situations and help me to keep You at the forefront of my life.  I pray for the ability to let go and know that when I feel overwhelmed You have my back!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to EMPOWER yourself!  There will be days when you feel like you want to quit, but GOD will be your constant source of encouragement.  I EMPOWER you to come to terms with your emotions and not try to hide them.  Embrace your feelings, have a moment, then move on and put it behind you.

Have you too been overwhelmed by life and your emotions?  What are some things and emotions you have to release into God’s hands today?

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Ms. Sherita Shelton currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Professional Counseling and is currently pursuing her counseling license.  Sherita works as a therapist and case manager for children as well as adults.  She facilitates groups for single women and offers mentoring and individual counseling for her clients.  Sherita’s favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lot not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Encouragement, Growth/Maturity, Inspirational, Organization, Righteousness, Self-Control

One Room at a Time

It’s that time of year again, SPRING CLEANING!  Every year I go into spring cleaning with extremely high ambitions of demolishing the clutter in my house, organizing everything into its proper place, and throwing away or giving away all un-needed items.

I always set out to implement a 3-step process:

1) Take EVERYTHING out

2) Go through everything, throwing things away or putting them in the goodwill box

3) Put things back into place in an organized manner

I always had good intentions but mostly my efforts only resulted in chaos, personal frustration and the end result of me giving up.  My house ended up looking worse than it did when I started and I would just throw everything into a closet or a spare room to get it out of the way.

NOT THIS YEAR! I am determined to complete my mission of spring cleaning my home.  I have done away with my old process and adopted a new one–ONE ROOM AT A TIME WITH HELP!  Instead of trying to do everything for every part of the house all at once, I’m going to go room by room purging and organizing.  I am also going to enlist the help of friends.   As I was putting the finishing touches on my spring cleaning plan, God revealed to me how this strategy also applies in my spiritual walk.

When I became saved, I tried to implement the three step process to “cleanliness” or sainthood:

1)      I took everything out and exposed everything in my life that did not line up with Christ

2)      I  tried to get rid of everything that was not like Christ – ALL AT ONCE

3)      I put myself back together in a way that was pleasing to God

My efforts to do this only left me with a feeling of hopelessness, frustration, and not much cleaner or “saintly” than when I started out on my mission.  As He saw me grasping at straws not getting results, God pulled my coattail and gave me a new strategy…ONE ROOM AT A TIME WITH HELP!

Paul told the church at Philippi to “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” (Philippians 2:12b NIV)  This statement would not have been considered necessary if as a Christian you were expected to get everything together all at once.  God taught me how to see and set goals for growth in the various areas (rooms) of my life.  God calmed me when I was discouraged that my “rooms” were not getting clean fast enough, and He reminded me that the race is not given to the swift nor to the strong but to the one that endures to the end.  God instructed me to keep going, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

Lastly, this strategy imperatively depends on the WITH HELP piece.  I had to learn that I needed God’s help in everything I do; I could not clean myself up alone.  God has specifically told us that, “… I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me and I in them will produce much fruit.  For apart from me you can do nothing…” (John 15:5 NIV)  I thank God for giving me this strategy and I have seen so much growth in my walk with Christ since WE started to wholeheartedly implement it.  Now it’s time to apply this strategy to the cleaning of my house; let me get to work, this might take a while!! *Rolls sleeves up* ONE ROOM AT A TIME WITH HELP!!!!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for being my “…help in the time of trouble…” (Psalms 46:1b)  I thank You for helping me to clean out every area of my life.  I thank You for being patient with me and helping me to persevere through the process of life change.  Please help me to stay the course and not stop until EVERY area of my life is ENTIRELY pleasing in Your sight.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to CLEAN your spiritual house one “room” at a time.  Be sure to constantly enlist the help of your friend, THE friend, the one who sticks closer than a brother, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to help you get it all done.  Our ultimate goal is to be just like Christ; we are not to stop working until we have reached that goal!

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Cleaning for Company

Ms. Katrina Richard is an up and coming professional residing in Chicago, Illinois.  She strives to incorporate knowledge and life-skills to teenagers in her profession as a high school history teacher.  Katrina is very active in her church community where she serves in the prayer ministry as well as in the nursery.  She has a passion for serving in the lesser known areas of ministry because she believes every facet of ministry is important to kingdom building and spiritual development of the believers. Her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Patience, Self-Control, Trials

Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet? This is a question I’m certain parents cannot stand to hear while on a road trip, on the way to a family member’s gathering, or even a trip to McDonald’s. The anticipation of the arrival to partake in festivities can cause slight impatience for children. Because children’s minds are so focused on the activities after the arrival, the journey can seem long and frustrating. I found myself doing the same thing to my spiritual Father while journeying through the wilderness to reach my purpose!

Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2 NLT)

God allowed His chosen people to go through the wilderness but it was to humble, test, and develop them. This had to happen before reaching the Promised Land. I am in the same position. The wilderness is not an easy place to dwell; however, it’s a process that I can’t escape while being developed into kingdom purpose.  The wilderness is a dry place, but yet a place of provision and preparation.

For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. (Deuteronomy 8:4 NLT)

God is so merciful that while He prepares us for His purpose, He makes provision even in a place that seems unproductive or unfruitful. In this place of preparation, God has provided my EVERY need. Even though I feel that nothing is changing or happening, God has a perfect plan for my life. So while I’m being humbled and tested by limited finances and not having the things I desire, my continual obedience to God’s commands shows that I can be trusted with my promised land.

Just like children, my mind shifts to the promised land and sometimes causes me to become annoyed with the wilderness. It seems as if it is taking forever to reach purpose! It took God’s chosen people forty years to reach the Promised Land! I’m sure, like me, they were asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. (1 Peter 3:8 NLT)

While waiting on God’s plan to come in fruition, we must trust that He knows what He’s doing! We can’t rush perfection; His timing and plan is perfect. So we must wait with expectation and exercise the fruit of the Spirit, patience. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. (Hebrews 6:12 NLT)

Dear Daddy,

I thank You for developing me. I thank You for Your enduring power that keeps me standing on Your word and trusting Your plan. Father, help me to have purpose vision like You! I thank You that I will come out of my development phase better than the way I began.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to walk through the wilderness to make sure you’re prepared for the promised land! I EMPOWER you not to leave training before your time! While traveling down the path of purpose, remember not to murmur and complain. Continue to allow God to grow you up while testing you. NEVER stop obeying His commands and watch your predestined future manifest right before your eyes! I EMPOWER you not to make an eleven day journey turn into forty years (Deuteronomy 1:2) and thank God for the promised land. Don’t you dare ask, “Are you there yet?”

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Confessions from an Impatient Christian

Ms. Rodnisha L. Anderson resides in Chicago, IL and serves as an elder at Life Redeeming Ministries. She works diligently with the Singles and Intercessory ministries. She is married to the Lord and becomes whatever she needs to become to reach the people for the building of God’s kingdom. Rodnisha truly desires to witness successful single women thriving in the kingdom of God.  Her favorite scripture is 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

Growth/Maturity, Self-Control, Sin

The Pharaoh Syndrome

Our prayers when we are in trouble:

“God, if you bless me with this job, I promise to become a regular tither.”

“Lord, please let this test come back negative and I swear I will stop having sex.”

“If you get me out of this legal situation, I promise to serve You.”

“If You open a door for me to start this business, I promise I will help someone else start theirs.”

Our prayers a few months, days, or even hours after God grants us grace:

“God, thank You for my first check.  I know I promised to give You 10%, but I have to take care of these bills first.”

“Please forgive me Lord, but a sister has needs. Every good and perfect gift is from You…and sex is good!”

“Thank You Lord for saving me from going to jail, but I have to get back in these streets.”

“Lord, I praise You for my business but I don’t have time to help anyone else. My company needs all of my attention.”

How many times have you found yourself being a repeat offender? I’ll give you a second to think about it and be really honest with yourself. I will be the first to admit that I have made God some promises that I didn’t keep. When we are facing challenges and adversity, it is so easy to strike a deal with God. “If You do this, then I will do this.” The problem with our twisted version of “Let’s Make a Deal” is that we seldom hold up our end of the bargain. We find ourselves in trouble and run to the trouble fixer. In desperation, we negotiate with God to get out of our bind but we never make good on our promises. It’s official; we have been diagnosed with the Pharaoh Syndrome…

In the book of Exodus, God commanded Moses to go before Pharaoh and demand that he let the Israelites leave Egypt. Knowing that Pharaoh would not heed the request, God sent a series of plagues to display His power to Pharaoh. After the first six plagues (Blood, Frogs, Gnats, Flies, Livestock, Coils) Pharaoh still refused to let all of the children of Israel leave. It wasn’t until the Lord brought on the Plague of Hail that Pharaoh finally repented and promised to allow God’s people to exit Egypt.

Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the LORD, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer.”  (Exodus 9:27-28 NIV)

Shortly after his promise before God, the Lord made the thunder and hail stop but Pharaoh’s heart was still hardened and he refused to release the Israelites.

Next the Plague of Locusts overtook Egypt and once again Pharaoh made a promise that he had no intention of keeping:

Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the LORD your God to take this deadly plague away from me.”  (Exodus 10:16-17 NIV)

Of course he still didn’t honor his word and refused to let the people go. So God brought two more plagues on the Egyptians. The last straw for Pharaoh was the Plague of the Firstborn. Every firstborn in Egypt was killed including Pharaoh’s firstborn all the way to the firstborn of any livestock. It was only after that drastic measure that Pharaoh finally said “Go!” and meant it!

During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested.  Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.” (Exodus 12:21-32 NIV)

Pharaoh repeated a vicious cycle of making and breaking promises to God. He, just like many of us, found himself in a bind, admitted his fault, asked God for mercy, promised to change but as soon as he got what he wanted went back to doing the same thing. The Pharaoh Syndrome has to stop here!

Read the entire story: Exodus 8-12

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your grace and mercy that are brand new everyday! Please forgive me for the times that I made a vow to stop or start doing something and I never followed through on my word. Show me where I have fallen short and need improvement. Help me to become a true woman of my word. God, please heal me from the Pharaoh Syndrome. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to kill the Pharaoh Syndrome in your life! Whatever “thing” that you keep bringing before God, I EMPOWER you to kill that as well. Don’t force God to make it to the last plague before you change your ways. After you have slain that “thing”, I EMPOWER you to make good on the promises that you’ve made unto God.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Tick Tock

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 and other non-fiction pieces. 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.

Attitude, Encouragement, Growth/Maturity, Righteousness, Self-Control

The Pursuit of Righteousness

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Many of us have heard these words from the U.S. Declaration of Independence at least once in our lifetimes—words written so eloquently and evidencing much spiritual truth.  It is true that in the sight of God we were all created equal, “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28 NIV).  Also, through Christ we were granted the right to eternal life (John 3:16) and freedom through God’s Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17).  What we were not created to do, however, is to simply pursue happiness.  Although God does not intend for us to live a miserable life, God calls us to something greater than the pursuit of happiness.  God desires that we pursue righteousness!  “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God; and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33 KJV); “Seek the Lord…Seek righteousness, seek humility” (Zephaniah 2:3 NIV); “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord…” (Isaiah 51:1 NIV).

Today, I encourage you to pursue righteousness and not happiness.  After all, God has already promised that if we seek his righteousness, all other things including happiness shall come (Matthew 6:33).  Below are three reminders that I hope will guide you in your pursuit of righteousness:

1.  Pursuing Righteousness means that we are pursuing Christ.  Through scripture we learn that Christ is our righteousness (Jeremiah 33:16; 1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV).  Therefore, we pursue righteousness when we follow after Him who is righteousness.

2.  Our relationship with Christ makes us righteous before God.  One of the benefits of salvation is that we are imputed righteousness and placed in right relationship with God.  Pursuing righteousness therefore requires that we accept Christ as our Savior.  “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:22-24 NIV).

3.  The righteousness that we receive through Christ allows us to stand bold and victorious when we are faced with hard times.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:10; 14 NIV).

Dear Daddy, 

Thank You for being our Savior and our Righteousness.  Help us to pursue righteousness by learning first to follow You.  Forgive us for the times that we have pursued something other than that which is within Your will.  We thank You and bless You for Your loving kindness.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to pursue righteousness in Christ Jesus.  Seek to follow Him daily and know that it is through His righteousness that you can stand boldly against the enemy but more importantly in the presence of the True and Living God.

Ms. Latasha McCrary is an active member of St. Luke Christian Church in Huntsville, AL where she serves as a Young Adult Facilitator and is training as a Life Skills Coach. She is passionate about the practice of law and views her profession as an extension of her calling to serve. Latasha firmly believes that “Service is the price we pay for the space we occupy” and is grateful for God’s continuing favor evidenced in her life. “By this I know that you favor me, because you have not let my enemies triumph over me.” (Psalms 41:11)

Attitude, Growth/Maturity, Self-Control

Self Improvement

“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 ESV

I want to better myself. I want to be a better me. I want to strengthen some of my weaknesses and eliminate some of my immature flaws. Does this sound like your conscience? Or do you catch yourself saying, “I wish I was patient like her, or a mother like she is, or smart like so and so, or dared to dream and actually act upon them like she does.” 

A few years ago I went through some character searching situations. I had an attitude I wanted change, a zeal I wanted to regain, and a confidence I wanted to discover. I wanted to change.

As Christians, there is only one way to change, the book of Romans states it best.  “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV) There is a secular song that I actually do not know its full contents, but I sing often the chorus often. I won’t reference it because I don’t even know the artist or the context of the entire song, but the chorus says, “If you want to be somebody else, change your mind.” Now this can be taken two ways. To either stop trying to be like someone else, or if you want to change who you are you have to change your thinking. I use it with the latter interpretation. When I wanted to be someone else (kinder, nicer, more mature, less petty, better in speech, more of a lover, more approachable) I had to change my way of thinking; I had to change my mind.

If we were honest with ourselves we would know that we could probably work on some of our flaws that do not imitate God. I had a knack for popping off at the mouth with an attitude abruptly if I ever felt offended, but I wanted to change that. If I wanted to imitate Him I had to realize, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3 NKJV) I was not slow to anger and realized this tagged me as being unapproachable. How could I exude patience and kindness? I had to again turn to the Word of God.   “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:19-24 NIV)

If I wanted to better my life and strengthen my character I had to change my thinking, change my attitude, and most of all change my mind. There are blessings in obedience, and I wanted that.

“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 ESV) I have endless goals of who I want to be in Christ. This is a daily struggle that only God can determine I reach, but I can definitely focus on the things I can handle right now. I can make plans to follow Him, but only He knows how to strengthen and establish my character, and I walk in faith believing He will help me along the way.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for bringing me to the reality of self-construction. Thank You for making me realize when I need to change some things about me and the plan that is placed in Your Word to do so. Lord, I ask that You continue to make me uncomfortable with not being like You, but hungry to be more like You. I ask that You guide my heart and mind so that I may not conform to what’s popular, but to what’s Holy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to be the Woman you desire to be in Christ. I have a faith sheet that I created a few years ago that listed things I wanted to strengthen. I don’t look at it every day or even every month, but it helps me to focus on working on being the Woman God wants me to be. It includes characteristics that His Word says pleases Him.

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As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She teaches Young Adult Bible Study and Sunday School and also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment.  Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their energetic three-year old daughter. They attend St. Luke Christian ChurchCheck out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.