Anxiety, Back To School Series, Motives

Back to School: What Excites You

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.  Read this week as our writers will share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  So, come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

I can’t sleep.  I’m so anxious, excited.  Clothes laid out, sleeping on my hands so my fresh new hairdo won’t mess up.  New clean white kicks.  I’m ready to impress everyone so they can see how “sharp” I am. Oooh, I hope “Johnny” notices me since I’ve matured a lot over the summer.  I’m ready!  I’m on Cloud 9! I wake up before normal time.  I get dressed.  I don’t have an appetite for breakfast because my nerves are going crazy.  It’s officially the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.  Seeing my friends is priceless.  The different teenage groups gather, and the hating nature begins. It’s day one of an unpredictable school year.

It’s funny how at the tender age of 15 I was anxious and trying to impress those around me.  I was so excited for the first day of school, not even being aware how the preparation for the first day was going to affect me and the rest of my life.  My excitement stemmed more from trying to impress my peers. However, I wasn’t putting my energy into trying to impress the right person.

The first mistake we commonly make in life is being anxious. Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.” (NLT)

 Secondly, we focus on ourselves way too much.  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility considers others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others.  Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5 NLT)  I wonder if Jesus was selfish and told God, “Daddy I’m sorry, but I’m not shedding anything for people that don’t like me.”  I’m so glad Jesus is not like man.

Last but not least, we are here for a purpose of pleasing God.  There’s nothing wrong with us being excited or having joy.  God wants that for us.  But God also wants our hearts to be connected to Him, our spiritual desires to be with Him, and our fulfillment of life to surround Him.  As women we should seek God.  May we find complete fulfillment in the relationship with Him.  Psalms 63:1-5 says it best, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and wary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of food; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” (NLT)

Dear Daddy ,

You are my joy and I thank You for all You are to me.  Thank  You, Lord, for speaking to my heart so that I may hear You.  Help me to seek Your approval and not that of man. I love you Lord.  You are my everything and all I need to excite me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to survey your life and see what or who excites you? Who are you seeking to please? If God is not first on your list, I EMPOWER you to re-prioritize. It’s okay to be excited about the first day of school, work, marriage, etc. but it’s important not to forget who blessed you with those first days!

In what areas have you sought man’s approval over God’s? How did you overcome that?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: The Ultimate People Pleaser

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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.”

Attitude, Black Music Month Series, God's Provisons, Growth/Maturity, Honesty/Truth, Motives

I Ain’t Saying She’s a Gold Digger…

In honor of our last Black Music Month post, here’s a throwback! (This EmpowerMoment was originally shared on April, 19, 2011.) Happy Black Music Month! Dance as if no one is watching!

Yesterday I was listening to one of my favorite artists, Kanye West. As the lyrics of Gold Digger blared through my headphones, I pondered on the meaning of “gold digger.” I even went as far to look up the definition on the semi-credible urbandictionary.com. According to one of the contributors there, a gold digger is “any man or woman who is in a relationship with another person because of their economic status.” Another stated that a gold digger is “a girl who is only with you for what you can do or buy for them.” After reading those definitions, I was proud to say that I am not and have never been classified as a gold digger. However, just as quickly as I could proudly stick my chest out and make my proclamation, God reminded me that there were some definitely some gold digging tendencies in my past. In a flash, he started reminding of how I used to dig for gold…

Remember when I wanted to talk to you so you could get to know me intimately and all you wanted to talk about was what you wanted or what I could do for you? Remember when I gave you joy, peace and unconditional love, yet all you wanted to ask me for were material things? Remember when you would go to church and if I hadn’t blessed you with a few extra dollars in your pocket, you would sit with your arms folded, not wanting to give me any praise? But if I increased your bank account, enlarged your territory or gave you a new ride, you were tearing the church up with your praise.  It seems you only walked with me for what I could do for you, not because you were genuinely interested in knowing who I was. So yes dear child of mine, you were a GOLD DIGGER too!

POW! He quickly busted my little bubble but boy was He so right!

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1NIV)

“For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalms 50:10 NIV)

Wow! I really used to be a gold digger! I was using the One who owns and has access to EVERYTHING. His economic status surpasses everyone else’s and I was taking full advantage of that. I was abusing our relationship simply because He told me that I could have whatever I asked in His name. (John 14:14) I immediately asked Him to forgive me for my old gold diggin’ ways.

The interesting thing about this whole scenario is that if I would have been seeking His face, His hand would have come automatically. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33 NLT)

Please take time to evaluate your relationship with God. Is it a gold digger and sugar daddy scenario or are you the obedient, loving daughter who genuinely cares for her Father? I encourage you to assess your situation and ask yourself when was the last time you put your hands up in worship instead of putting your hands out for a blessing. When was the last time you spoke to Him just to say I need You and not that I need this or that? If you can’t recall…I ain’t saying you a gold digger, but…

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for the times that I acted as a gold digger in our relationship. I want You for more than what You can do for me. I want to praise you for who You are and not just for what You can do. I want to know You intimately. Teach me to seek Your face and not Your hand. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to leave your gold digging tendencies behind. EMPOWER your relationship with God by taking time to really get to know Him for who He is.

As you listen to Kanye’s version of a “Gold Digger”, check your motives:

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Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant. She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments. As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible 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, Growth/Maturity, Motives

Pure Motives = Rewards

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 NIV)

Did you notice that this scripture says, “Your motives could keep you from receiving your reward from our Father”? That’s a penetrating thought, right? Recently, I read this, but I didn’t quite understand how this applied to me or what it really meant. The revelation honestly didn’t download into my heart until it was time for me to submit this EmpowerMoment. While I attempted for a whole week to write an EmpowerMoment, I kept getting what some call ‘writer’s block.’ I started to sense there was a greater issue at hand. God was trying to tell me something thus I couldn’t write. I prayed and started to type but that didn’t work. I would type a full EmpowerMoment and delete it. This happened like four times so I took a real prayer break and I was lead to the Word of God. The Holy Spirit led me to Matthew 6. Jesus was teaching on giving, fasting, and prayer.

The giving part attracted my attention and it was the area that God wanted to EMPOWER me in, so in return I could EMPOWER you. My problem of not knowing what to write for this EmpowerMoment was an issue with the motive of my heart. I was more focused on looking good as a writer. I was focused on using the right words to link my ideas and how would I look to you (the readers) instead of allowing my EmpowerMoment to give Him glory. I was focused on choosing words that would make me seem like I’m talented instead of leading to His word. I was trying to display my time of studying and memorization of scripture instead of letting Him be seen. The word of God was so clear, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 NIV) Once I made aware of this, I quickly confessed it to the Father and asked Him to forgive me. I asked for His help to be wiser in the area of my motives.

Our hearts are very wicked and we can be ignorant at times. We even deceive ourselves into thinking that what we are doing is ok, especially if we can attach religion to it. Our lives and all that we do should not be for man nor man’s benefit (or even our very own), but should be for the glory of God! There is nothing wrong with doing things, but when the “thing” becomes the center or motive for doing it, it’s wrong! If one continues unrepentant then it becomes sin. For example, there’s nothing wrong with wearing designer clothing, moving up the corporate ladder, wearing make-up, or even being a part of ministry. But when your motive is to flaunt what you have to others or you seek to attract others to you and your made-up “greatness”, then it becomes a problem. God did not create dust (yes we are dust; see Psalm103:14) to be attracted to dust, but to worship and glorify Him and Him alone!

Our motives matter more than anything else to God. It’s not what we do, but why do we do it. My “it” was writing this EmpowerMoment. Let me also point out that if I didn’t pray and truly give the Holy Spirit authorization to search my heart and find the root issue to why I couldn’t write, then I too would have been deceived . I would have thought that what I was doing was ok. I would have submitted my writing, felt good because I met a deadline, and maybe got a couple of views and comments, but I would’ve lost my ultimate reward.

My ultimate reward can only be given to me by God based on me having pure motives.  My new math equation is pure motive for the Glory of God equals reward (Pure Motives = Rewards)!  Our Father doesn’t want us doing things or giving things for notice or to please men. This also applies to practicing our righteousness (our relationship with Jesus, prayer lives, reading our bibles, going to church, and etc.)

So what should my motive be continuing on as a writer or anything else I find myself doing? Our motive should always be to bring Him GLORY! Not to pat ourselves on the back or look good before others, but “…whether you eat or drink or WHATEVER you do, do it ALL for the glory of God.” (1Corinthians10:31 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Father, we first give thanks to You for being so understanding of our feebleness. Your Word declares that we are just dust and without Your supernatural life in us we are nothing. Heavenly Father, empower and strengthen us. Breathe new life in us. Give us hearts that look towards You and not other dust. Expose the negative motives of our hearts and get the glory from all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today, I EMPOWER you to get silent before the Father for self-examination. Ask Him to expose any motive that will not get you a glorified return and know that He will reward you!

Have you ever found yourself seeking the glory of man instead of the Father and have a testimony of deliverance and freedom? Please share your story with us!

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