God, Intimacy with God

Faulty Connection

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15: 4-7 NIV

lightning_usb_cable_0_5_m-250x331For the past few weeks, I’ve been experiencing technology issues. Besides my usual bouts with a raggedly phone (smile), my computer connection has been awful. Allow me to explain. Recently I purchased a PC monitor for my Apple Macbook (laptop). If you know anything about Apple products, you can attest that they are only designed to connect with other Apple products unless there is some sort of connector that bridge the two. Because I wanted a larger screen to read from at the office, I ordered flat screen PC monitors and the only cords that would allow the two to work together. Imagine my disappointment and frustration when my monitor kept blacking out, blinking and having the static screen. Of course, I tried to fix the issue my self but quickly resorted to borrowing other colleague’s monitors while they were not in the office. Even with the use of their monitor, I kept having the same issue. Unfortunately, after all of my attempts to connect I decided to send the monitor back for a replacement. While waiting on my replacement, I decide to borrow a colleague’s monitor one last time; however, this time I borrowed everything, the monitor and the connector. Voila magic! Everything worked perfectly.

Previously, I was convinced that the monitor was the source of the problem. Until that moment, it never crossed my mind that the Thunderbolt connector could be faulty. Because of this one malfunctioning device, the monitor could not properly receive and display information from the source (my laptop). This faulty connection kept me from the outcome I desired.

Just like this defective piece of equipment sometimes our connection to the Father is faulty. Have you ever had a faulty connection to Him? Perhaps you were waiting on some results to manifest in your life or you reached out time and time again but it seems as though your prayers weren’t getting through. Maybe you noticed a shift in your relationship with Him. You used to pray, praise and fast but now the relationship has become more of an asking spree. Your connection is faulty because you didn’t nurture the relationship or the tools you are using to connect aren’t the best ones for the relationship that you seek. It’s not enough to attend church God wants an intimate relationship with you and that takes a deeper connection.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matt 6:33 KJV

You are my friends if you do what I command. John 15:14 NIV

In all of the preceding scriptures, one thing is clear the connection that we have to God is important. If He is the vine and you are a branch from that vine, your life will reflect one that remains connected to the vine. The connection that you have to Him is gained through seeking His kingdom. To seek the kingdom, you will exemplify kingdom minded behavior. You will seek God’s friendship through your obedience to His commandments. Think about it. It is impossible for you to have a strong connection to someone that you don’t have a relationship with. Work on building your relationship with the Father and I guarantee you will replace any faulty connection.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for the revelation of Your Word. Lately, my connection to You has seemed a bit faulty. Thank You for helping me realize that it is my relationship that determines the strength of my connection. Help me to rebuild the prayer, praise, fasting, obedient life that is pleasing to You. Repair my brokenness and remove me from the things that have caused my faulty connection. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Ladies today I EMPOWER you to examine your connection to God. Are you in right relationship with Him? If there is any wavering on this answer, I encourage you to build or rebuild your relationship with Him. He earnestly desires to call you friend.

How would you encourage others to build a relationship with Christ?

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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Chancee` Lundy lives in Washington, DC and is an entrepreneur as she is the co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC, an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend and community servant. She has used her gift of public speaking to lead workshops across the globe speaking to crowds as large as 10,000 people. Her guiding scriptures this week are Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.

Photo credit: Mac Rumors

God, Intimacy with God

Closer to God

From the earliest I can remember, I have loved to learn. I was a voracious reader and read any and everything I could get my hands on. I was the child who wanted summer break to be over, so school could begin again. I read through encyclopedias and highlighted new words in dictionaries. I just wanted to know everything!

My spiritual journey has reflected the same characteristics. Even at a young age, I took notes on Sunday sermons. If something interested or intrigued me, I would research it more on my own time. My father, who was a pastor, would be the recipient of all of my curious questions on Christianity and the Bible. I loved attending conferences and workshops, and eventually my quest for knowledge led me to seminary.

Although we serve a majestic, holy and awesome God and will never be able to tap into the fullness of Who He really is, we have the privilege of getting to know more about Him every day. Our God does not stand off looking down on us. Through Jesus Christ, we are able to come close to the Lord and get to know Him intimately.

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (John 15:15 NLT)

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. (James 4:8 NLT)

Yet, how often do we go after a closer relationship with the Lord? Even myself, with all of my chasing after knowledge, I have to make it a priority to chase after relationship as well. We have been given so much through the gift of salvation. However, many of us miss out on our benefits. We should be seeking to know more and more about the Lord on a daily basis.

It’s like when two people fall in love. They spend hours talking to each other, finding out things about each other, and getting to know how the other person ticks. And good relationships thrive on keeping that communication open, building on the initial foundation and allowing the happenings of life to reveal the intricacies of each person. As each person learns something about their love they are able to love their partner more effectively because of that knowledge. It takes work and effort to keep this up as time passes and changes come as people grow. But real love is up to the task.

When was the last time you learned something new about the God you serve? When was the last time you shared a time of intimacy with Him? When was the last time the Lord revealed something new to you?

Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6 KJV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You so much for loving me! Thank You for giving me the privilege to know You intimately. As I take time to come into Your Presence, allow me to hear Your voice and all that You have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to enhance your relationship with the Lord. I EMPOWER you to go after a deeper knowledge of the God you serve. I EMPOWER you to tap into your benefits as a friend of God Almighty!

What ways are you drawing closer to God?

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Tiara Wilkinson hosts the devotional blog “My Morning Ti” which encourages believers in their Christian walk. She also serves as the Youth Leader and on the Pastoral Care Team at Christ Worship Center in Riverdale, Illinois. Tiara will be publishing her first book “Days of Destiny and Purpose” in the spring of 2014. Her favorite passage of the Bible is Psalm 27 which reminds us that the Lord is our strength, so we have no reason to fear anything.

Focus, God, God's Grace

My Secret Ingredient…

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. (James 4:8 NLT)

This time of year many women are celebrating Christmas with their families, enjoying vacation time, and sharing cookie recipes!  Even though those things are okay, this is also a good time for reflection.  I, myself, usually take a journey through my journals and agenda books that I have been keeping through the year.  I try to see what has made it to “primary” position in my life and what I need to work on for the next year.

This being humbly said, finally my need for God is recognized and 2012 has proved it.  Yes, after evaluating this year, I can honestly say that I have been more productive in the things of God and my natural life.  I have been praying more, spending time in my word more, giving more, and following Christ more.  How is this?  I was honestly struggling in 2011 in my relationship with the Lord.  I was not reading my word daily, praying daily, or practicing what I believed and that was okay with me.  This year (2012) was totally different; I had a craving to get into my word, a desire to do for others more than myself, and a belief in the Lord for impossible things this year.

What is my secret to my success in 2012?  The secret is having a daily relationship with the Lord and drawing closer to Him that has caused me to have humility and greater faith in His abilities.  The same God who directs the earth in its orbit and who rises and sets the sun has become my top priority and in return He supplies me with daily strength and grace to follow Him.

Being a complete individual, gracious wife, loving mom and a dependable friend is what I am. The only thing that has helped me become these things is my relationship with God.  It’s closer than the past years and I believe that it will only grow closer by grace.

Our personal relationships with the Father have more impact on our daily lives than we give credit to.  Paying attention to it is something that can have a significant, positive impact on our work and personal relationships.  I’m working daily to have a Jesus-centered personal life that will spill in abundance into my other relationships and obligations. 

My question now is do you believe that God upholds the universe?  Changes the seasons?  Gives life?  If you have the faith for these things, then rest assure that He will never prove that He is unable to fulfill His own promises towards you.  Your relationship with Him matters and once He becomes FIRST on your agenda, and schedule, then every other area in your life will be affected for the advancement of His kingdom.  That’s it—the secret to my life—I have learned to draw closer to God daily.

Dear Daddy,

We look to You as we end this year and begin another one.  We render our hearts to You now, asking that You would humble us so that we may receive Your grace.  We desire to walk with You Lord and we believe that You would come along and take our hands. Thank You for Your everlasting love.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you to turn it around in 2013!  If you know you haven’t drawn closer to the Lord as you would like to or done so in the past, you can begin right away to change that.  Just do one small thing that you said you would do, each day.  Start off by spending the first 5 minutes of your morning with Him or joining a small group to go through your bible.  Just act on His word and come close to God, and God will come close to you. 

Share with us your progress or this coming year’s actions you will take to have a Jesus-centered life.

Read a related EM:  Are You There God, It’s Me Chancee?

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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.”

God, God's Love

Selfish Love

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

Being in a relationship with a selfish or self-centered person is never a good thing.  Someone who only thinks of him/herself all of the time, shows no concern for your feelings, thoughts, ideas or needs and never listens to anything you say can leave you feeling insecure, unwanted, and maybe even depressed.

Shame on me!

Recently, I’ve been very selfish in my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  I’ve been putting my needs and wants in front of what I know is important to strengthening the relationship I want with Him.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33 NLT)  I’ve been disregarding His Word, His perspective and that which matters to Him.

But I love Him!

I’ve been on the receiving end of such selfish behaviors in a past relationship.  It was very hard for me to believe that I was loved when I was being neglected and treated badly.  I wanted to run away from this relationship and be alone because I hated the way I was being treated!

God isn’t running from me though!

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV)  He loves me so much that He still wants to be in this relationship and He’s willing to forgive me!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your unconditional love.  Thank You for Your constant willingness to forgive me when I fall short.  Please continue to work on me so that I will become the person You have destined me to be.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to run back to God!  Recognize that He wants nothing more than to be in love with you!

Can you tell us a moment where you knew you were being selfish with God and putting others and things before Him?

Read a related EmpowerMoment:  It’s NOT All About ME!

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 Ms. Tiffany Huff is the devoted mother of two boys, a blogger, lover of food and travel, and aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for helping others live out their purposes. She is looking forward to growing in her walk and honoring God through sharing her EmpowerMoments. One of her meditation scriptures is Romans 12:2: “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.”

Accountability, Anxiety, God, Motivation

Comfort Zones

A friend once told me how another person we knew had the chance to elevate in her company.  This person rejected the opportunity because she wanted to keep her housing subsidy.  It perplexed us because this was a chance to elevate and make more money.  My friend concluded that this person was too comfortable where she was.  Comfort and comfort zones are two different things and I believe God is not fond of the latter.

Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. (Exodus 4:10-14 NIV)

Have you ever feared success or trying something new?  Have you ever made excuses, like Moses, about why you felt you couldn’t do something?  Do you feel like your life is at a stand still but feel unmotivated to take the next step?  Are you comfortable with things just the way they are?  Do you hate change?  Are you like some Christians who just go to church, sit in the pew and then go back home only to repeat this every Sunday?  No action outside the pews, no reaching out to others, no pursuing God deeper and no higher expectations, and is this just fine with you?  Moses was leading the Israelites out of years and years of bondage and along the way there were challenges that caused them to fear and consider their comfort zone.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” (Exodus 13:17 NIV) 

They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”  (Exodus 14:11-12 NIV)

My recent family trip was supposed to include all of my family and friends, not just my immediate family.  However, a lot of family and friends backed out for various reasons:  graduations, no money, other events occurring at the same time, etc.  I was disappointed that none of my friends and immediate family was attending the trip.  I always take vacations with my immediate family and friends. I always feel safe traveling with them.  I always know what to expect.  Not this time.  I was flying and attending the trip with my other family who I don’t often see.  I went back and forth with reasons why I shouldn’t go. I was in my comfort zone!  Flying with my immediate family doesn’t ensure my safety.  God does.  I didn’t know what to expect but God did.  Going on this trip allowed me to bond with my other family members and I enjoyed myself.  It also motivates me to travel more with other loved ones, friends and even alone.

Stepping out of your comfort zone means you are stepping out on your faith.  Stepping out of your comfort zone means you trust God all the way and with the outcome.  Stepping out of your comfort zone means you are leaving your fears behind.  Stepping out of your comfort zone means you can allow yourself to spiritually grow.  Had I stayed in my comfort zone, I would continue to make excuses and let fear hinder me from taking the next step in my life.  I would never embrace my fear of speaking in front of others and read my poetry aloud.  I would have never made it to that interview and got my job.  I would never get back out there and started dating.  My future husband is not going to magically appear on my couch.  I would never want to try anything new (I have got to try zip lining one day)!

Dear Daddy,

You are the God of all comfort but I know You don’t want me to settle for less than what You have purposed for me.  You are the perfecter and the finisher of our faith.  I thank You for seeing the bigger picture concerning all of Your creation.  Write Your vision upon my heart and help me to see what You see.  Help me to step out of my comfort zone and live the life You have purposed me to live.  Help me get rid of the fears, excuses and doubts; and help me to take the next step I need to take to walk according to Your will and live a fulfilled life.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to check your faith and your trust in God.  Ask Him to reveal to you what your comfort zones are and to give you His grace and strength to come out believing that His word cannot return to Him void.  Come out of your comfort zones and check your fears at the door for He did not give you a spirit of fear, but that of power, love and a sound mind!

Are you currently stuck in or have you recently moved out of your comfort zone? Share your story with us in the comment section.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: It’s Time To Move!

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

Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God, God's Love, Love, Miscellaneous, Restoration

The Dress

This past week I pulled a dress out of my closet that had been hanging there for over three years. The reason it’s been in the closet so long is two-fold:

1. I had gained weight and not been able to fit the dress since I last wore it.

2. It was the dress I wore to the funeral of my first love, the father of my children.

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I was going to make my health a priority. As I made lifestyle changes, I started shedding the excess weight I’d been carrying around. Although I didn’t know where I would wear the dress next, I knew I would be able to wear it in a matter of time. When I took it out of the closet last week, I had no problem putting it on and it actually looked better than it had the first time I wore it! But it was bittersweet.

I was now going to wear the dress to the funeral of my nephew, my sister’s son.

One day last week, I was on my way to the mall to purchase the last outfit I would ever buy my nephew, the one he would go to his grave in. It was then that God began to speak to me about the dress. He told me that while I considered this dress as my ‘funeral dress’, it was a representative of so much more. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV)

The black dress actually represents God’s love for me! He loves me so much that He has built me up and given me the strength to face the challenges of the black dress each and every time I have been confronted with them. When I had to bury the father of my children, God made sure that I stood strong, was able to love and comfort my children and recognize that even though I was hurting about how he was taken, I got better instead of bitter because of the love of God! When I had given up on myself and my desire to live a healthy lifestyle, was overpowered by the fear of gaining all the weight back again, there that black dress hung as a symbol of strength once again, reminding me that God loves me and will give me the strength to overcome the battle I have with my weight. On those mornings when I didn’t want to get up and do my workout, I could see that black dress; it stood out amongst all the clutter in the closet and I continued to push through.

As I was trying to mentally prepare myself to go back to the funeral home to make the final preparations for the homegoing service of my nephew—whom I will always remember as the snotty nosed little brother I never had, who I have lost so much sleep over this past week because of the way he was taken—I recognized once again that when it came time to step into that black dress and head to the funeral, the love of God would be all around me, holding me up and giving me the strength I needed to take each and every step that day!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for always being the strength that I need when I feel I have nothing more to give, say or do. Thank You for loving me through all of the good and bad times and assuring me that You will always be right by my side. I pray that when doubt begins to creep in, I will first look up and call on Your name because I know that I can do all things through You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Mighty ladies of God, today I EMPOWER you to embrace the strength that you have as an heir to the kingdom of your heavenly Father! Refuse to allow the doubt of people and situations to have any effect on that which you know to be true and continue to stand on His word!

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Ms. Tiffany Huff is the devoted mother of two boys, a blogger, lover of food and travel, and aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for helping others live out their purposes. She is looking forward to growing in her walk and honoring God through sharing her EmpowerMoments. One of her meditation scriptures is Romans 12:2: “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.”

Direction/Guidance, Friendships, God, Growth/Maturity

WWJD

A few years ago, you couldn’t look anywhere without seeing the four letter acronym WWJD.  It was printed on wristbands, t-shirts, bags, banners, bookmarks, you name it.  What Would Jesus Do?!  

Then suddenly, just as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared.

I’ve noticed recently that sometimes my faith can be just like this, a FAD.  One moment I am standing on His word, calling out to Him for all things and not worrying or stressing about anything.  Then something unexpected comes along.  I am angry, hurt, or confused, and before I know it, I am on the phone with a friend and she is full of answers that start with “what I would do if I were you…” 

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9 NIV)

A wise man once told me, “Don’t go to people, go to God.”  It doesn’t get much simpler than that.  No matter what you are going through, God can and will handle it.  You see, it’s always easy for others to tell you what they would do if faced with your situation, concern or issue.  However, there isn’t anyone that can give you the word that you need to get through but our Heavenly Father.

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for always being there for me when I need You, even when I am not deserving.  Thank You for Your Living Word that I can go to for whatever I need, whenever I need it.  I pray that You will continue to impress upon me that You are my sole provider of all things and I need to seek guidance from You before I go to anyone else.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to seek ye first the kingdom of GOD!  No matter how big or small, nothing is impossible for our heavenly father.  Before making a decision, go to Him in prayer or try to find a scripture that speaks to the situations that you are dealing with.  I EMPOWER you to go to the Word of God to answer WWJD and not seek answers from others for what they would do.

What areas do you know that you need to ask yourself WWJD, versus asking your friends what they would do?

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Ms. Tiffany Huff is the devoted mother of two boys, a blogger, lover of food and travel, and aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for helping others live out their purposes. She is looking forward to growing in her walk and honoring God through sharing her EmpowerMoments. One of her meditation scriptures is Romans 12:2: “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.”