Forgiveness, Obedience

Because God Said So!

The Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father which art in Heaven

Hallowed be they name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And FORGIVE us our debts, as we FORGIVE our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.   (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV)

How many times have you spoken the words, “Do you forgive me?” or had someone ask you that question?  I battled this scenario just recently, and saying I forgive you was the last thing on my mind.  First, I was hurt and I wanted revenge.  Secondly, all I could think about was the hurt, therefore I wanted more revenge.  I was a mad Black woman!  I had come up with all types of schemes in my head to get back at the person who had lied and hurt me.  I didn’t care about letting it go because I was hurting too badly.  It’s funny how we can plan a step by step revenge attack, but God see’s the steps and intervenes without our knowledge.

One of my friends called me the particular morning that I was planning to launch my attack.  I answered and she started telling me about the Steve Harvey show that morning.  She told me how Steve was talking about “revenge.”  He was basically saying it’s not worth it because what goes around keeps coming back around and the best thing to do is forgive. She added, “It’s the God-like thing to do.”  At that point I was in total shock that she called me to talk about the very thing that I was plotting to get– revenge! How did she know I was thinking that?  I knew then God was intervening my foolish plans.  For, anger and revenge are of the devil.

And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.  For anger gives a foothold to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT)

You must not hold on to any bitter hurts, rage or anger. You must not fight each other or say bad things about each other.  You must not think or act because of spite. You should be friends and you should be kind to each other. You must forgive each other, just as God forgave you.  God forgave you because of Christ. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT)

I knew that I had to forgive this person, but I just kept thinking, “They hurt me, why must I forgive them?”

Then I reflected on what Peter asked Jesus:

“Lord, if my brother keeps on hurting me, how many times should I forgive him? He asked. Should I forgive him seven times?”

“ No not just seven times, but forgive him seventy times seven times, Jesus said” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT)

It seemed as though everywhere I turned forgiveness was tapping me on my shoulder.  It wasn’t anything but the God in me forcing me to do what was right.

Forgive people when they do wrong things to you.  If you forgive them, your Father in heaven will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive them, your Father will not forgive you.”  (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)

With all sincerity in my heart, I did it.  I forgave them.

Dear Daddy,

I thank You for being in my life.   I sometimes get so emotionally out of control, but I’m glad You love me so much that You help me regain my self-control.  I thank You for placing forgiveness in my heart.  Although the flesh wants to make me battle my problems alone, I thank You for helping me to grow in the spirit.  Please continue to order my steps.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to forgive.   Forgive even when you don’t want to or feel that the pain is too deep.  Pray that God places forgiveness in your heart.  I know it isn’t easy, but when God says do it, we must do itWhy? Simply because He said so!

Ms. Hassanah White is a dedicated member of Faith Walkers Church in Birmingham, Alabama where their motto is to “Walk it out by Faith.”  She also serves as a member of the Praise Dance Ministry.  Hassanah is a true professional in the realm of marketing and customer service.  She’s a proud mother of a very energetic little boy named Jaden.  Hassanah believes laughter and prayer are the best medicines for any situation.  Her favorite scripture is Hebrews 11:6: “And without Faith it is impossible to please GOD, because anyone who comes to Him must BELIEVE that He exists and that He REWARDS those who earnestly seek Him.”

Assignment, Gifts/Talents, Goals & Dreams, Obedience

He Answered The Call…Will You?

We are all born with greatness. We are all called for a purpose bigger than we can imagine. The question is, will we answer the call or will we run? On this day, I reflect on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He saw a need and answered a call to leadership, a call to service, a call to sacrifice.  He was an ordinary man that with God and a dream team was able to do extraordinary things for the uplift of millions.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On Dr. King’s birthday we remember that although he wasn’t the first, he defied the norm as he fought for justice and equality. His opposition to racism, bigotry and segregation even in the face of death furthered the case of civil rights. His very resistance to oppression and the oppressors was an example of his faith put into action. Dr. King knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was called for a purpose greater than himself. He also knew that what he was doing could have him killed but he believed that what he was doing was right and that drove him to see his vision fulfilled.  Through his leadership he inspired others to lead and many others to act in the name of freedom and righteousness. He walked out his faith.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31: 8-9 NIV

In his actions, Dr. King obeyed the scriptures as he spoke up for those who could not speak up for themselves. There were people like him, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Rev. James Orange, Rev. Lowry and many many others who unselfishly bored the brunt of the Civil Rights Movement so that we could have a chance at opportunity. They made a difference because they chose to defend the rights of the poor and needy. They made a difference because they put the needs of the community before their own. Many years later and people are still hurting all around us. They are depressed, oppressed, poor and needy. Will you speak up for them?

What is God’s calling for your life? Are you answering or are you running? Many of us have a ministry, a movement, a purpose that He has called us to fulfill; however, we are sitting and waiting, hoping that maybe God will call someone else, maybe someone else will step up to the plate. If not you, then who? If not now, then when? What are you waiting on to move? What He has called you to do is for you and no one else.

Undoubtedly, Dr. King may have thought there were people who were older, wiser, smarter, sharper and with more resources but he took a leap of faith. He answered the calling on his life and for him it cost him his life. Although he knew that day would come it didn’t stop him from being obedient to the calling on his life. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:30 NIV

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for people like Dr. King. On his birthday, we honor his obedience to Your word. Heavenly Father, give us the courage to follow the calling You have placed on our lives. Help us to believe in ourselves but more importantly increase our faith in You knowing that You will equip us with all that we need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you to answer the call. If you need clarity on your purpose, pray and ask God to reveal it to you. Write down the vision and ask God to order your steps but whatever you do MOVE. Be obedient to His word. Be obedient to God’s calling on your life.

In Celebration of Dr. King, enjoy Stevie Wonder’s tribute to him: 

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Advocate or Performer?

Ms. Chancee` Lundy currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is a small business co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend, community servant, and child of God. She is passionate about causes that truly uplift the community. One of her favorite scriptures is Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Best of 2011 Series, Obedience

Best of 2011: #7 – The Night We Almost Died

We are featuring our top EmpowerMoments of 2011. They made us laugh and they made us cry. They comforted us during troubled times and made us uncomfortable in our mess. But most important, they EMPOWERED us to be greater women all around! We are better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, servants and employees. We have been EMPOWERED to love harder, forgive more and listen better. We thank God for EmpowerMoments! Enjoy the Best of Series!

“…Obedience is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22 NLT)

It was a balmy night in August of 2010. We were on the second leg of our European Excursion. We had waited so long to experience one of the infamous “foam parties” in Ibiza, Spain. So imagine how excited we were to find out that one was taking place at Club Amnesia on the first night of our visit. That was a double treat because way back in the day Jay-Z had piqued our interest in Club Amnesia when he mentioned it in one of his songs. Surely, this was going to be one of the best nights of our lives—WRONG, that would be the night that we almost died…

On our way into club, the majority of our group decided that 60 Euros was too steep of a price to pay to get in. Oh, but not the “Final Four.” We had traveled too far and already spent a nice amount of money to get there not to indulge in the foam party. So the group left us and we paid for our ticket into party paradise. Little did we know, we were buying a ticket into hell on earth and that would be the night that we almost died…

Once inside the massive warehouse type structure, we were amazed at the number of people inside. There had to be at least 5,000 partygoers. In the midst of this sea of people, it seemed that the “Final Four” just didn’t belong. I instantly heard a still, small voice whisper, “You should leave now.” My thoughts were, “Surely, I’m not about to leave now, especially after I just paid about $80 in US currency to get in! Let’s get this party started!” I suppressed that inner voice because it was speaking against what I felt I should do. What I didn’t understand was that that voice was trying to save my life because that would be the night that I almost died…

As we waited patiently for the foam party to commence, we witnessed things that I cannot even begin to explain here. Things that would be illegal to do in public here; things that you would be ashamed to tell your mother you saw; things that would make you cover your eyes but then peek just to be sure it was really happening; most important, things that would vex your spirit man. Yes, I know you are sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what could have really been that bad. Well, on stage entertainment included men having live and real relations with one another. Yes, it was just that bad. As we stood there and realized that we were planted right in the middle of a present day Sodom & Gomorrah, each of us heard that still, small voice say, “It’s time for you to leave.” Individually, God was speaking to each of us but we weren’t aware of that.  So we all ignored that command because we didn’t want to spoil the fun for the other three.  What we didn’t realize is that we wouldn’t have been spoiling the fun for each other, we would have been saving each others’ lives because that would be the night we almost died…

As the night passed, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with the environment yet annoyed with this voice that kept trying to ruin my experience. I was convinced that if we could just hold out until 2am for the foam party, all of my feelings of uneasiness would subside. I ventured off and found out that we were in the wrong room for the foam party. As I walked back to retrieve the group and let them know that it was just about time for the foam to be released, that voice rose again. Only that time it wasn’t still and small at all. It was more like a loud, thunderous voice that said, “LEAVE NOW!”We can’t leave now. It’s finally time for the foam party and we have been waiting for this!” I proceeded to grab the girls so that we could have the time of our life. I should’ve been grabbing them and heading for the nearest exit as we were about to literally experience a taste of death on the night we almost died…

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 NIV)

We ran excitedly to the foam party room and tried to press our way to the front. However, there were so many other people in there that we couldn’t get as close as we desired. Settling for our post in the middle of the room, we braced ourselves for the release of the foam! I thought, “Yes! Finally, the moment we’ve been waiting for!” And the countdown began: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5-4-3-2-1…

What happened after 1 is still kind of sketchy. What I can tell you is that the foam was released and my breath was instantly taken away. It literally felt like a hand was choking the life out of my body. I couldn’t open my eyes; it felt as if someone has glued my eye lids shut.  I saw my life flash before my eyes. I couldn’t speak so my spirit cried out to God. “PLEASE don’t let me die in this place! I have a husband and two girls that I have to return home to. Save me Jesus!” It was at that moment that the grip was released from my neck and I was able to catch my breath and open my eyes. I searched frantically for my friends and saw that they were in distress too. Ironically enough, we were the ONLY ones under this attack; everyone else was still dancing and enjoying the party. Why? Because that was the night that Satan desired to kill us…

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 NIV)

This small passage of scripture embodies our entire lesson for today. Satan had already asked God for permission to attack each of us that night.  However, Jesus was interceding on our behalf. He was praying that our faith in Him would allow us to obey that voice inside of us urging us to leave. Our faith is about more than just believing in God. It is about hearing and heeding His commands and knowing that if He is telling us to do something, it HAS to be for our good.

In the latter part of verse 32, Jesus tells Peter (Simon) to strengthen his brothers after he has turned back. Here is where we failed terribly. When we heard the Holy Spirit speaking, we should have turned our back on our desires and strengthened each other to do the same.

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for all of the times when I blatantly disobeyed You. Lord, I know that You have my best interest in mind. Teach me to know Your voice for Your Word says Your sheep listen to You. Thank You for covering me when I know You told me to go and I stayed or when You told me no and I chose yes or when You said be quiet and I still spoke.  Lord, give me the will to obey You and Your Word at all times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I didn’t share that long story with you to entertain you. However, I shared it with you to EMPOWER you to obey God ALWAYS! Obey when it makes sense and even when it doesn’t. Your life depends on your obedience!

Today’s EmpowerMoment is dedicated to three of the “Final Four”: LaTosha Brown, Kristi Cofield & Chancee` Lundy. May each of you hear and heed His voice daily!

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Consider Your Ways!

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.

Assignment, Goals & Dreams, God's Promises, Growth/Maturity, Obedience, Procrastination, Spirit of Fear, Submission/Surrendering, Trials, Trusting God

POWER IN MOTION!

To borrow a page from Khalilah’s scientific notebook, one of my favorite concepts in Physics is the concept of Potential and Kinetic Energy. To simplify it, Potential Energy is energy that is stored up and Kinetic Energy is energy in motion. Use your imagination and visualize this example. A rubber band alone is just a rubber band; but, a rubber band changed from it’s original position and stretched has enormous Potential. It is storing up its energy for a time in which it will be released.  The Potential of that rubber band lies in its stretched state and when it is released it becomes Kinetic. When you pull a rubber band a little bit it has little bounce back, but when it is stretched to its maximum, once released it is really going to “pop” and I don’t mean break.

Some of us have been stretched while some of us are in a stretched state right now. Sometimes we wonder, “how did we get here?” External forces such as family, finances, friends and careers have us in a state where we are stretched. We wonder why things are happening to us and we have not recovered. We have great ideas and visions (potential) but we have decided on our own that they should not be released or maybe God has not released us to execute them.  We want to move but God says, “Not now, I am not finished storing up what you will need when I release you. You haven’t been stretched enough.” Some of us God has told to MOVE on all of the energy He has stored in us but we have gotten stuck in our Potential state.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah 1:5 KJV We are told in this scripture that God gave us Potential while we were still in the womb. Our very movement (Kinetic) from the birth canal to the world was the release of Potential Energy. We were born to move.

When I looked up the etymology of Potential it comes from the Latin meaning, “what’s possible” or “power” and Kinetic comes from the Latin and means “moving, putting in motion.” God has given each of us POWER IN MOTION. Consider the track hurdler. Before they move their legs to jump, there is a tremendous amount of Power that will allow them to physically move (Kinetic) and cross the hurdle. This Power (Potential) did not just appear overnight. The hurdler has stored energy that is a result of physical conditioning (becoming spiritually fit), building of muscle (reading the Bible), learning the proper technique and then there is the actual implementation (application of faith or applying what God has given you). You can’t stand in front of a hurdle and just decide to jump but there is a starting position that you have to run (prepare) and build up the momentum so that you can have the Power to get to the other side. Now let’s be honest. There are some people who have the ability to jump a hurdle; however, to jump a hurdle also requires focus and courage. Some people have conditioned themselves and have the Power but they lack focus or they fear the hurdle. They have all of this Potential but are scared to MOVE. Could this be you?

Faith in itself is the combination of Potential and Kinetic Energy. You have faith because you have all of these stored up beliefs, testimonies and examples of what God can and will do; however, it’s not really faith until it is put into motion. Consider this: James 2:17 (KJV) tells us that …Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. This is given in the perfect illustration through Abraham in James 2: 20-24 KJV– But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for birthing me into this world with Potential. As You reveal my Potential to me, give me the courage and the focus to transform that Potential Energy into Kinetic Energy in my life. As life experiences stretch me, remind me that the trials are only storing up my Potential so that my bounce back will be greater. Help me to remember that my return will be exceedingly and abundantly above ALL that I can think or imagine.  Help me to remember that having faith is having POWER IN MOTION. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies I EMPOWER you today to discover your Potential. What has God stored in you that you are waiting to be released or you are sitting on and refuse to release? Has God told you to move on something but you have decided on your own to wait? What are you waiting for? Decide today to transform that Potential Energy to Kinetic Energy and put POWER IN MOTION!

Ms. Chancee` Lundy currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is a small business co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend, community servant, and child of God. She is passionate about causes that truly uplift the community. One of her favorite scriptures is Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Faith, Listening, Motivation, Obedience, Procrastination, Submission/Surrendering, Trusting God

It’s Time to Move!

Before her passing, my grandmother would sing a song entitled, “You Gotta Move.”  The lyrics read in part: “You got to move; you got to move…when the Lord gets ready, you got to move.”  Although simple on surface, these words embody a powerful truth for women of faith.  When God says move, it’s time to move!

The idea of movement in response to God is evidenced clearly in the life of Abraham.  “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your land, your relatives, and your father’s house.  Go to the land that I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1 GW)

Although these words were spoken to Abraham thousands of years ago, for many of us they still hold true.  God has instructed us to leave behind unhealthy relationships, careers, social environments, living quarters, attitudes, and yes, even ministry associations.  These things have kept us from walking into the fullness of our destiny with God.  It is therefore time to move.   “[W]e must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us.”  (Hebrews 12:1 GW) “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must rid yourself of all such things.” (Colossians 3:5-8 NIV)

What is keeping you from moving?  Is it comfort? Uncertainty? Fear? Impatience?  Whatever the answer may be, consider the first three words of the text: “The Lord said.”  If the Lord said it, it’s divine instruction.  It’s not subject to consideration or debate.  “When the Lord gets ready, you got to move.” 

Although leaving things behind may be difficult, when God instructs us to do something, it is designed for our good.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT) God loves us and will not lead us down the wrong path.  When God instructed Abraham to move, it positioned Abraham for an even greater blessing.  Abraham could not have received the promises of God if he had not obeyed God’s instruction.  Has God told you to go somewhere? Have you obeyed?

When God instructs us to leave certain things behind, it is important to remember that God does not tell us to leave without a command to “Go.”  Leaving one place always means that we are headed to a new one.  The places that God will take us in the midst of obedience are intended to move us closer to our destiny.  Hence, we can either remain stagnant where we are (consider Lot’s wife turning into the pillar of salt in Genesis 19:26) or we can move with God and avail ourselves to the fullness of His blessings.

Finally, as we begin to move, we must remember God’s words, “I will show you.”  God promises to be our guide.  We have nothing to fear.  God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV) 

When God says move, it is indeed time to move.  Letting things go can often be scary, but remember that God is moving us to higher heights.  We must learn to trust Him and know that He is leading us onto the right path.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your enduring love and patience.  Help us to hear Your instructions and follow.  You have commanded us to walk by faith and not by sight.  Help us to remember that Your promise comes through such faith.  Teach us how to operate in obedience and move according to Your will.  Continue to walk with us and show us Your way.  Guide us into the path of our destiny that we may glorify Your holy name.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to take heed to God’s instruction, let go, and MOVE.  The path to righteousness does not always bring ease, but God has promised to be our guide.  I EMPOWER you to trust God and know that the fullness of His joy resides in the path that He has designed for you.

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)

Obedience

But Everyone Else is Doing It!

I started doing yoga in college.  It helped my flexibility and it truly relaxed me.  I even participated in a yoga class twice a week until recently when I was told that I could not do it anymore.  This all started when I gave my students a group project.  As a history teacher I must follow the curriculum for World Studies which includes teaching about the world’s five major religions.  Needless to say, I dread this unit for obvious reasons.  This year I assigned each group of students one of the religions and the students had to create a poster and present information on their assigned religion to me and the rest of the class.

During the presentation on Hinduism, one of the students stated that yoga is a Hindu religious practice. I said “WHAT?! That’s not true!  Where did you get that from?!”  As I picked up my red pen ready to slash points from their grade for presenting inaccurate information, the students showed me their research which was from a reliable source and went on to explain the origins of yoga.  I apologized to the students and put my red pen down but that messed me up for the rest of the day.

Even after seeing their research, I was still not convinced so I did my own and came up with the same thing.  Since the kids’ presentation, I heard the Spirit saying, “It’s true, you must stop doing yoga!”  To be totally honest I ignored the Spirit and even went to my yoga class, BUT GOD!  My spirit would not sit still, I could not get comfortable in class, and every time the instructor called out a pose my spirit screamed, “NO!!”  It got to the point where I just left!  I got in my car and asked God why.  “Why can’t I do yoga?  Lord, you know that I don’t do it for religious reasons; I’m sold out for you!  Other Christians are doing it and its fine for them, why can’t I do it?  EVERYBODY ELSE is doing it!”

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV)

YOU cannot do what everyone else does!

“But God, it’s just stretching, and I’m not doing it with the heart of someone who follows Hinduism, I follow you.”

“Abstain (avoid, run from) all APPEARANCE of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

I had to stop questioning and fighting and submit.  What we must understand is that God, “…knows the plans he has for us…” (Jeremiah 29:11a)  God wants each and every one of us to reach our fullest potential in Him.  In order to do that we must be SET APART!  We cannot do what everyone else does, EVEN fellow Christians.  We must submit to God’s will so that He can use us to build the kingdom of God to the point where when we talk about living for God, we’ll be able to proudly proclaim, “EVERYBODY’S DOING IT!”

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for setting us apart.  Thank You for the favor You have on our lives.  Thank You for loving us so much that You don’t allow us to be comfortable outside of Your will.  Please forgive us for the times that we ignored You and did our own thing in order to be a part of the crowd.  We ask that You strengthen our spirit of conviction like never before.  We desire to be completely sold out for You.  We Love you and appreciate everything you are in our lives!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to pray and seek God for the areas in which He wants to set you apart.  Understand that I’m not talking about sin.  These things are not usually sin but can and WILL hinder you from reaching your destiny and can and WILL hurt your witness for God.  “Everything is permissible—but not everything is beneficial, everything is permissible but not everything is constructive…” (1st Corinthians 10:23 NIV) In other words, just because it is not necessarily sin does NOT mean that we should be doing it.

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.”

Assignment, Growth/Maturity, Obedience, Prayer, Self-Control, Speech, Submission/Surrendering, Trust

Can God Trust You?

Not long ago, I found myself asking a crucial question, “Can God trust you?”  This came to mind after calling a friend soliciting prayers for one of our sisters in Christ.  “What’s wrong with asking someone to pray?” you ask.  The problem is this: God revealed the young lady’s need for prayer to me.  No where in the revelation did He ask me to solicit prayer from others or to reveal even the slightest information concerning my sister.

In reflection, I thought about the confidentiality clause at the end of my emails:  

The information transmitted in this email may contain privileged confidential information belonging to the sender.  THIS TRANSMISSION OF PRIVILEGED INFORMATION IS INTENDED TO BE USED ONLY BY THE PERSON OR ENTITY NOTED ABOVE.

Convicted!  God transmitted privileged information to me, for me, and I leaked it to a third party.  It seems like such an innocent thing, because no malice was intended.  Nevertheless, it boils down to good stewardship.  Often we talk about stewardship in the context of finances, but stewardship is the responsibility to manage all the resources that God has given to you in a manner that will bring glory to our Father.  To be a steward is to be an overseer of the things which God has entrusted to you.  

In meditation, God sent me to the story of Eli’s two sons.  Eli was a priest who had two sons that were also priests.  During Eli’s time, the priests served a critical function amongst God’s people.  Their responsibility was to handle very carefully the things of God (Leviticus 22:2 NLT).  The problem, however, is that Eli’s sons dishonored the Lord by mishandling their responsibility.  “Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests.” (1 Samuel 2:12 NLT).  As a result of their dishonor and Eli’s failure to correct the problem, God punished Eli’s entire family.  His sons were killed and God stripped his descendents of the ability to serve as priests (1 Samuel 2:27-31 NLT).

Just as Eli’s sons mishandled their responsibility over the matters of God, we also serve as poor stewards when we fail to properly oversee the information or things that God has entrusted to us.  At times, God provides us with discernment or reveals things to us which are intended only for us.  The information is not revealed for the purpose of inquiry, sharing, or gossip.  If God intended for it to be known to the general public, He could have orchestrated a public announcement.  Since He entrusted it to us, we must be careful to deal with the information in confidence.  God desires that we follow His instructions only.  We should, therefore, treat them as though our lives depended on it (as was the case with Eli’s sons).  Keep in mind that often people are reluctant to open up about their hurt out of fear that they will be exploited.  Don’t let it be said that you created the opportunity for exploitation by mishandling the matters of God.

Dear Daddy,

Forgive me for the times when I have mishandled the responsibility that You have placed upon me.  Help me to be a good steward, to operate in confidence, and to carry out Your instructions only.  Teach me how to be careful so that I don’t exploit my brothers and sisters.  As my responsibility in the Kingdom increases, help me to serve faithfully so that I can hear Your words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.” (Matthew 25:23 NLT) In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to handle carefully the responsibility which God has entrusted to you.  Be good stewards and understand that, in doing so, you have the potential to bring forth strength and healing for God’s people. 

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Since Much is Demanded

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)

God's Protection, Obedience, Patience, Self-Control

The Hustler Gets Hustled!

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

I had just enough time to get from the nail shop in Walmart to my new job at the church.  Pleased with my hot orange polish, I left out smiling only to be approached by a guy as soon as I crossed the threshold.  “I got a laptop for sale Ms. Lady.”  I proceeded to my car and yelled, “I’m good!”  He pulled his car directly behind mine so that I had no choice but to hear him out.  He went on to say that the computers were going for the low rate of $250.00 but since he liked me I could make him an offer that he couldn’t refuse. “You tell me how much you want to pay!!”  Those words were music to my ears and I decided to take a closer look.

The computer was nicely packaged in plastic and bubble wrap with a sales information sheet on top listing all the great features of this SONY computer.  I was sold! “I only have $100.00, take it or leave it!” My hard core “hustling” skills were coming to surface and he took the bait.  Next thing I knew I was praising God in my head because only He could have made that happen, right?!  God knew I needed a laptop for school and the prices in the store were outrageous, so to find one this cheap had to be a blessing.

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:9 NIV

As I placed my money in his car, I decided to ignore the “voice” telling me to take my money back.  Instead I decided to take down his number just in case my computer didn’t work.   After completing the transaction I got in my car and headed to work with only 8 minutes to spare.  As I drove God starting screaming at me, demanding that I immediately pull my car over and check my merchandise.  Lo and behold, after making my way through the endless layers of packaging, I finally cracked the box open only to find 4 packs of notebook paper!!! I used to be the #1 hustler and I had just been HUSTLED!!!

I instantly went into panic mode asking God why this happened to me.  I called my sister and she told me to calm down and ask God what was my lesson in the situation.  I took her advice and at that very moment God dealt with me stating, “I give you FAVOR everywhere you go so what makes you think that I would have you buy a laptop out of someone’s car?  You were supposed to wait for Me to make provisions for you when the time was right!”  Just when I felt convicted enough to leave well enough alone, He went on to say, “I tried to stop the deal by telling you to take your money back but you chose to ignore Me!” At that point I was left to figure out how to maintain on my upcoming weekend trip minus that $100.

“… after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10 NIV

Ladies, that weekend God took care of everything for me while I was out of town.  However, if I had not allowed my old “hustling” mentality to surface days prior, I would have returned from Atlanta with more than I lost! This one encounter with the enemy cost me $100 but the lessons learned were priceless:  #1-The enemy comes in ALL forms!  #2-The devil will tempt you with things that you want and need.  BEWARE!  #3- Listen for GOD to give you the okay before moving too suddenly! He speaks to us all the time but are we really listening? #4- Thank God for the test no matter how big or small, even if you fail the first time!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for the tests! I understand that they are opportunities for You to teach me to rely on You more.  The world we live in encourages me to figure things out on my own but I must understand it is not about me.  Help me to hear Your voice louder than the enemy’s that I might make the right decision even in the most uncertain conditions.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Sistahs, I EMPOWER you to LISTEN and LISTEN good to what God has to say!! Believe me, it will save you time, energy, and MONEY! Put your old ways behind you and adopt God’s way of doing things! Be Blessed!! 🙂

Read more about heeding God’s warnings in The Night We Almost Died

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.  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

Are you interested in joining the EmpowerMoments team? Click here to find out more about us!

Inspirational, Obedience, Praise/Worship

Loosed to Worship

“And Jesus, seeing her, called to her, and said to her, Woman thou art loosed from thine infirmity.  And he laid his hands upon her; and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” (Luke 13:12 KJV)

Over a decade ago, Pastor T.D. Jakes was praised for his book (and eventually the movie) Woman Thou Art Loosed.  From his work, many have taken the obvious point that God has loosed us from the bondage that has prevented us from believing in and pursuing our destinies through Christ.  This is true.  God has indeed freed us!  The focus of this EmpowerMoment, however, is not upon the fact that we have been made free, but upon the question “Why?”

Why has God freed us?  Why did He bring you through that relationship?  Why did He allow you to survive that incident?  Why did He provide your healing? Why did He bless your career and/or finances?—GOD HAS LOOSED YOU TO WORSHIP!

Throughout the bible, we discover that God’s deliverance of His people is connected to worship.  In Exodus, after hundreds of years of suffering, God frees Israelfrom slavery.  In doing so, He repeatedly emphasizes the fact that Israelis to be free to worship Him.  “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so they may worship me.” (Exodus 8:1 NIV)

Unlike Israel, most of us have not endured physical captivity by man.  Instead, many of us are like the woman in Luke—bound by our circumstances.  Nevertheless, whether holistically or in part, God has provided deliverance in many areas of our lives.  He now seeks a worshipful response. 

When the woman in Luke was loosed from her infirmity, she immediately began to praise God.  Similarly, when we reflect on how God has freed us from our various issues, let us also remember to respond in worship.  If God has brought you through any struggle or burden in life, don’t be ashamed to give Him the praise and worship that is due.  Don’t be afraid to share the greatness of God, to lift your hands in worship, or to open your mouth in praise.  God has loosed you to worship!  Therefore, “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for the deliverance that You have brought to my life.  When I am careless or reluctant, help me to remember that I have been loosed to worship.  Help me not to worship only when life seems problem free.  However, let me remember that Your deliverance is always cause for a worshipful response. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to recognize that God has loosed you to worship.  I EMPOWER you to open your mouths, lift your hands, and respond to a great God with great praise!

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)

Contentment, Encouragement, Growth/Maturity, Obedience, Patience, Stress, Trials

Throw Me In!

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty,  that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel  3: 16-18 NIV

We as Christians often think that God is a superhero and will come and rescue us right on time. While it is true He is an on time God; He doesn’t always “rescue” us like we imagine or hope. So you were praying that God would save your marriage, but you went home last night to find that all his bags are packed and he has changed his phone number. You were praying for God to heal that loved one and although they seemed to be recovering you just got the phone call that they passed while you were asleep. You have been unemployed for months; you finally get an interview only to find out they hire someone who is the boss’s cousin.

What do you do when you prayed and it did not seem to work out how you thought it would? God is the God of abundance, right? Where is your abundance? Where is your breakthrough?

Many of us know the story of Daniel and the lion’s den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace, but what we sometimes forget is that Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. The Hebrew boys had to be thrown into the furnace. God did not deliver them from the trial, but God brought them through it. We want God to save us from trials and tribulations, but honestly that’s not Biblical. He never said that we would not have the trials; He just promised to be there with us.

The devil wants us to fear the trial, to think we cannot possibly make it through this situation. Truth of the matter is in our own strength we can’t. We must answer like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:        “ the God we serve is able to deliver us from it”.

As I write this EmpowerMoment I am going through it. Things in my personal and professional life have just completely unraveled. A few weeks ago my best friends and I decided we wanted to purposely seek God’s will for our lives. We decided to look at seven areas of our lives we wanted Him to radically change and decided to purposely step out of our comfort zones. The first week was great! Then suddenly things in my life started breaking down. I never get sick, but I ended up with a sickness that had me in bed for two days. People in my life that I had purposely stopped communicating with started contacting me out of the blue. My son turned 15 months and hit an “I’m going to scream to the top of my lungs” crying stage, testing my patience. Money that I was expecting to receive with no issue is now tied up and I cannot get to it. What is going on? I am being thrown into the furnace.

All this happened after I challenged God that I wanted a more personal relationship with Him. It happened after I said that I was going to submit myself unto Him completely. It’s like the minute those words were spoken every area of my life that could be touched was being completely turned upside down.  I just decided this morning that I am ready to tell God, “Throw me in. I am ready to be sacrificed so You get the glory from my story.”

“Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see life with a clearer view again.”  Alex Tan

Dear Daddy,

Thank You so much for using every situation to bring YOU glory. Help me to remember that You can use anything for my good.  Remind me that victory has already been won by You. Trials come to remind me that earth is not my home and that You are the source of my strength. Help me to press into You when the devil tries to pull me away. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Lovely Ladies, I EMPOWER you to not be discouraged by the trials you are facing, but be encouraged by WHO is with you on this journey.  Hopefully in the end, like Job, you will be able to say: Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 13:15 KJV). Keep your eyes on the final prize. Keep pushing.

Ms. Renee` N. Chaffin is a single mother who has a heart for helping those less fortunate. She has been active in the non-profit sector, whether through volunteerism or professionally, for the past six years.  She is passionate about sharing the love of God, her testimony and empowering people to discover their true potential that was bestowed on them by King of the Universe. Renee` is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration. While on her pursuit of higher education, she is on a seven year journey to challenge God to do ‘exceedingly and abundantly above all she can imagine’ in seven areas over the next seven years. Check out her journey at http://radical7even.wordpress.com. Her favorite scripture is I Peter 5:6: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”