Faith, Praise/Worship, Prayer, Word of God

Just Do It!

 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 NIV

But how…

The above scripture used to seem so complex to me. Sure, I knew that I was sinning, wrong, wayward, and lost. But “HOW” was I supposed to get back on track. I would see all of these charismatic people, on fire for the Word, rarely doubting God and I would wonder “HOW” did they do it. People would tell me,  “pray about it,” “it will get better” or, “be patient.” I would often wonder, but “HOW?” How am I supposed to be close to God? How do I start a relationship with Him? How do I pray without sounding weird? How do I begin to remove the sin (that I relished in) out of my life? How?

Many years later, being on the other side of this question, I’ve learned that Nike actually declares one of the most profound statements of my time; JUST DO IT! I remember speaking to one of my mentees and she said, “How do I begin to read my Bible?” Now, depending on who you talk to, some will say start at Genesis, start at Psalms, start at Proverbs, start at Matthew, and so on. But what I have come to learn is to “Just do it.”  There is no perfect way to read God’s Word. Sure, there are ways to scholarly advance throughout the Bible, or ways to dissect it better, but in layman’s terms, JUST DO IT.  Pray before you open it, ask God to enter your heart and mind, and trust that what you read will become embedded in your heart.

How do we pray? In Bible School we are taught to pray as Jesus did, but for me, at one time I couldn’t even understand that. I knew the Lord’s Prayer but I didn’t feel like I was being sincere. One day I literally lay on the floor, face down, and sat quiet. I began to think about all the great things that have happened in my life, the awesome “coincidences” that I knew only God could do, and I just started reciting them in thanks. I had to Just Do It!

In addition to becoming connected to a supportive body of believers, here are some tips that gave me a boost along my walk with God:

  1. How do I study God’s Word? Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV) I wanted to correctly handle God’s Word, but how? I found a Sunday School book and started following its lessons and it grew from there. It may seem weird, but it helped me to focus on “learning” God’s Word. Stop by a church and ask them for one, I’m sure they’ll give you one.
  2. How do I pray in power? I wanted to be able to pray boldly not wavering in doubt. Opening your mouth to God in prayer is power in itself. But what I wanted was to feel connected, comfortable (not complacent) enough to focus on God, and strong enough to pray for others. But how? I kept doing it, over and over and over.  I started by making a prayer list. I would write down the things I wanted to say including who and what I wanted to pray for. Next, I would read my “list” to God. This was how I started learning how to converse with Him. The more I prayed, the more in tune I became. Praying without ceasing and believing that God heard me revealed His power.
  3. How do I exhibit faith? Having faith is understanding its definition. Faith is to have complete trust or belief in something. I was very skeptical of having faith that God actually cared about every little thing in my life. But I had to JUST DO IT. I had to talk daily to Him, and make a decision that I was NOT going to try and solve all of life’s problems. I had to literally shove worry out of my mind and trust that God was going to work it out. I actually believed that God would not let me down and that His Word was true. I have professional training in the science field, so naturally I like to solve things. There is always a cause and effect, whether immediate or delayed. But I can’t take that approach with faith. I have to leave it there, believing that God will lead me to the solution or He will just fix it!

Dear Daddy,

I want to really be able to say that I can call You Daddy. I want to know that when I pray You hear me. I want to be able to read Your Word and actually understand what it means. I want to grow in faith and believe that You really do care about something as small as me being upset about my appearance to something as grand as the health of my children. Lord, please send tangible examples and wise people my way so that I can continue to cultivate my relationship with You. Starting today, I am going to JUST DO IT! I am going to “try it out” and pray that I grow and feel Your Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, many of us are learning how to grow in Christ. Today I EMPOWER you to JUST DO IT! It may be reading more, praying more, worshipping deeper or praising louder, but JUST DO IT! Do it in faith, believing that God knows your heart and will receive your truth with open arms.

What are some tips you have for those of us “starting out” in Christ? Share with us some ways that you strengthen your walk with God.

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: Two Way Street

Please vote for EmpowerMoments in the finals for the Black Weblog Awards: Best Series: Single in the City; Best Writing in A Blog; and Best Faith Based Blog. Click here to vote.

___________________________________________________________________

As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is a College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She and her husband serve as Co-Service leaders and Co-Group leaders of SustainedLove, which supports marriage get-a-ways from Family Life. Khalilah also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment. Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their two daughters. They attend Vaughn Forest Church. Check out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

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

My Favorite Smart App

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Daddy,

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________________

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.”

Growth/Maturity, Word of God

Extreme Appetite

Lately I’ve had an EXTREME appetite.  I eat breakfast before going in to work, a snack after getting to work, lunch, a snack when I get home, then dinner.  I used to eat once maybe twice a day, not because I was trying not to eat, but because I just did not have an appetite.  I saw the results of not eating regularly in my energy level, physical appearance, not to mention my weight.  Several months ago, I made a decision to improve my overall health and part of that improvement plan was eating consistently.

In the beginning it was a real struggle.  I would literally force myself to eat. While the effort was tedious, I knew it was necessary in order to improve my overall health and well-being.  Day by day my appetite increased until now it is EXTREME.  As a matter of fact, I’m munching on grapes as I type this EmpowerMoment.

As I reflect on the growth of my physical appetite, I cannot help but think about the growth of my spiritual appetite as well.  I used to only “eat” on Sunday.  I wasn’t choosing not to, I just did not have an “appetite”.  If I read my Bible it was to find something specific and then I was done.  The result of this was:

1)      Low energy level – I couldn’t handle ANYTHING. I would give in to depression at the slightest disappointment, fall into sin at the simplest temptation, and drop my destiny at the least point of opposition. 

2)      Lackluster Appearance – I was living a somewhat frayed lifestyle, and it SHOWED!! Yes I was still cute on the outside but, “…the Lord does not look at the things man looks at, man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart…” (1 Samuel 16:7b NIV) and my heart was jacked up!  I had an attitude, a temper and it was all about what I wanted to do.

As God began to deal with me I began to realize that my issues would get worse if I didn’t start EATING.  “Blessed is the [wo]man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But [her] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law [s]he meditates day and night.  [She] is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever [she] does prospers…” (Psalms 1:1-3 NIV)  

I made the decision to begin eating spiritual food (reading my Bible) everyday from that point on.  This was not easy; there were some days when I had to again force myself to eat.  It seemed like right when I started reading my Bible I would get so sleepy, or there was ALWAYS something else I needed to be doing instead.  However, as I continued my commitment to improve my overall spiritual well-being, my appetite for the Word of God steadily increased.  My appetite for the Word is not at the level of my appetite for food yet, but I’m working on it!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for increasing my desire to learn more about You.  Sharpen my understanding of Your word and take me to another level.  I ask that You reveal Yourself to me like never before.  I decree and declare that I will receive a fresh word, EVERY time I study and spend time with You.  I thank You and praise You for all these things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to EAT!  God wants you to partake of spiritual food EVERYDAY, not just on Sunday.  I promise not only will it be a nourishing meal, it will give you the strength to handle EVERYTHING that you must deal with through the week AND your appearance (your heart) will be much healthier.

 Have you noticed your spiritual appetite changing? Share your story with us below.

__________________________________________________________________________________

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.”

Attitude, Growth/Maturity, Patience, Prayer, Speech, Spiritual Warfare

Are You Strapped?

I know what you are probably thinking…Well much to your surprise I’m talking about being Holy Ghost strapped!  There is no need to bring guns or knives to a spiritual battle because the trick to winning is having God on your side.  Consequently, every day we are blessed to wake up we are forced to go to war with the world.  As quick as God can give you breath in your lungs, the devil is plotting ways to make it your last.  That is why it is imperative that every time we make a move in the natural, we are spiritually STRAPPED! 

Recently I officially made a promise to God that I would start my days by communing with Him first.  I was going strong, praying each morning without hesitation, until one day I woke up and began my daily routine minus that key component. 

After running several errands, I decided to stop over a friend’s house that I hadn’t seen in a while.  As soon as I entered the door I sensed a bit of hostility from her family member, but I chose to ignore it.  The atmosphere grew more tense the longer I stayed and conversed with her.  Before I knew it, I was engaged in a heated debate with her relative that was quickly turning sour.  Next, I was calling this man everything BUT a child of God!  Once I realized that I had allowed this person to take me out of my character I immediately left.  At that point it was too late because the damage was done!

By the time I made it home I was no longer angry at him but instead I was extremely disappointed in myself.  I felt ashamed at the fact that I behaved that way–the way I USED to!  I wondered how God felt about the ugly things that I screamed during my tirade. I was saying things that I USED to say without thinking twice!  I was even more confused that I was able to regress to that state of mind so easily considering all the spiritual progress that I had made thus far.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take a stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:10-11 NIV)

Amidst all of my uncertainty, a thought ran across my mind that I was unable to disregard.  “I didn’t take a moment to STRAP up today!”  The enemy knew that my spirit was weak because I was too busy to guard myself that morning.  Ladies, if you didn’t know, now you do–spiritual warfare is real! Each day that God gives us is one more day satan is trying to steal from us.  Therefore, we have to take a moment out of our hectic schedules to suit up in the full armor of God!  He is ready to cover us from head to toe, but the question is will we make time to protect ourselves?

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for not making time for You to dress me in Your armor.  Help me to make OUR time a priority at the start of my day so that I am protected throughout the day.  I know that You have plans for me that the enemy is trying to destroy, but as long as I am under Your covering those mischievous attempts are null and void.  Have Your way Lord.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER each of you to STRAP up every morning.  We may think that it’s just an ordinary day, but the enemy believes otherwise.  Spending a few moments with Jesus in the AM can help you avoid crazy situations because your ammunition will be locked and loaded! Be Blessed! 🙂

Ms. Latasha Sampson is an accomplished writer who is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Human Resources Management.  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