Encouragement, Inspirational, Pain, Trials, Trusting God, Worry

He is Still God, Even in the Plains

Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they.” (1 Kings 20:23 NASB)

I had been praying and seeking God for answers but it seemed as if He didn’t hear me. I was looking through my Bible searching scriptures that would assure me that trouble doesn’t last always. I was listening to music to motivate me and to remind me that He will be with me always. I even read my EmpowerMoments trying to get motivated. Guess what, none of these things were working. It seemed as if nothing was working in my favor. The devil had really been doing his job. My family had been acting crazy. My finances were low. I have never had so many pink and red notices at the same time. I was really starting to hate my job. My baby had become more mischievous then she had ever been. Like I said, NOTHING was working in my favor.

In 1 Kings 20: 22-29, it discusses how a prophet came to the King of Israel and told him that King Aram and the Syrians were going to attack again in the plains. King Aram’s advisor told him that God was a God of the mountains because Israel won the battle on the mountains. The advisor told King Aram that they could attack Israel in the plains because their god was not a god of the plains. King Aram figured if he could get Israel to the plains then they could definitely defeat them. They were in for a surprise. The same God that allowed Israel to defeat King Aram and his army on the mountain is the same God that would allow them to win in the plains. “Just then a holy man approached the king of Israel saying, this is God’s word: Because Aram said, ‘God is a god of the mountains and not a god of the valleys, I’ll hand over this huge army to you. Then you’ll know that I am God.’ ” (1 Kings 20:28 MSG)

After reading that, I thought back to the times when everything was going great in my life and I could easily talk about the goodness of God. I often heard myself saying I’m connected; I definitely can get a prayer through. I was on the mountain and being on the mountain is an awesome feeling! All of my bills were paid. My family was a gift from God. My job was a blessing from God. I thought from that point I would never let my bills get behind. I would love and cherish everyone that was connected to me. I was like the children of Israel that had defeated the army on the mountain.  Then I took a trip to the valley…

I didn’t realize that the devil was trying to find another way to slip in and attack me. I knew how to get the devil off of me when I was on the mountain but when he unexpectedly tried to destroy me at my lowest point, I didn’t know what to do. Instead of my faith increasing, it decreased. I kept thinkg, “What is going to happen next?” Every time I asked that question something else happened. I quickly forgot about all the previous times that I was in the valley and God made sure I was victorious. When all those pink shut off notices were in the mail, I was trying to figure it out. When my job became a dismal and glum place to work, I tried to figured it out. God reminded me to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31: 6 NIV) God had to remind me that He is the same God when everything is going bad, that He is when I don’t have a care or worry in the world. He is the same God, even in the valley!

I felt like the Syrians, I didn’t realize I doubted God when I was in the Valley. I am guilty of thinking that God is a God of the mountains because when things were going good it was easy to praise God. The devil wanted me to believe that he could devour me at my lowest point. Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. (1 Peter 5: 8- 11 MSG)

As I reflected on my relationship with God and realized that every time I’ve been in the valley my God has brought me out. I reflected on the times that I had marriage problems, health problems, financial problems and even relationship problems and God fixed it. I realized that God is the same God, even in the plains!

Dear Daddy,

I thank You for forgiving and protecting me even when I took You for granted. I thank You God for letting me know that You are the same God when things are going bad that You are when things are going great. Continue teaching me how to trust You even when it seems as if nothing is working in my favor. Lord thank You for being the same God in the valley, that You are in the mountains. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Women of God, I EMPOWER you to trust God through the good and the bad. I EMPOWER you to know that if you have faith in God and believe that He can do anything but fail, you can start walking in your victory despite your circumstances. I EMPOWER you to remember that God is bigger than your valley! Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8: 37 NKJV). I EMPOWER  you to remember that God is the same God, even in the valley!

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Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor in training of The Christ For All People International Church. She is passionate about sharing the word of God with everyone she encounters. As a professional, Keviyona is a teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She loves her ministry of teaching and changing children’s lives. She is a devoted wife and mother of a wonderful daughter. Two of her favorite scriptures are Jeremiah 1: 5: “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” and Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

Blessings, Encouragement, God's Protection, God's Provisons, Growth/Maturity, Inspirational, Stress, Trials, Trusting God

When it Rains, it Pours!

Growing up, during hard times I would hear my mother say, “When it rains, it pours.”  At times, she would sing a song called The Rain Keeps Falling Down.  The lyrics read: “If you’ve never had any rain in your life, wait a while…If you think things are always going to be up and never down, wait a while…Oh the rain keeps falling down. The rain keeps falling down.”

Ladies, have you ever been in a place in your life where you’ve felt like the rain KEEPS falling down?  I mean the times when it seems like you keep experiencing travesty after travesty?  Times when, before you can see your way through one difficult circumstance, you find yourself in another?  Well, if you’ve ever been in this predicament, you have officially experienced a storm.  Webster’s dictionary defines a storm as “a heavy fall of rain.”  It’s not just rain, but it’s pouring down rain.  Spiritually, it’s when you constantly feel attacks not just in one place of your life but in many.  These are attacks against your family, finances, job, ministry, prayer life, peace of mind, and everything else.  When it seems that everywhere you turn the rain keeps falling down, you are in a spiritual storm.

A great example of a storm occurs in the life of Job.  Job was an upright man who feared God, yet one day a messenger reported that thieves had attacked his servants and took all of his donkeys and oxen.  “While he was still speaking, another messenger came” and reported that fire fell from the sky and burned up Job’s sheep and servants.  “While he was still speaking, another messenger came” and reported that three raiding parties carried away Job’s camel and killed his servants.  “While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came” and reported that a mighty wind struck the house of Job’s eldest son and killed all of his children. (See Job 1:13-19 NIV).  Every time that Job experienced one bad report, another travesty occurred.  Job was dealing with a storm.

The story of Job is a great not simply because we can see the storm at work in Job’s life, but because Job demonstrates how one can continue to worship and trust God in the midst of a storm.  Despite all that Job experienced, the Bible says that “he fell to the ground in worship.”  (Job 1:20 NIV).  I believe that Job was able to endure the storm, because he never lost sight of the fact that God had not forsaken him.  Even in a stormy situation, Job declared, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end…I will see God.” (Job 19:25-26 NIV).

In our storms, we must remind ourselves that God is still with us.  Because He is with us, we can withstand any storm!  Webster’s second definition of storm is “a mass attack on a defended position.”  Ladies, this is where we rejoice!  A storm is an attack, but it’s an attack against something that’s defended.  In the middle of a storm, God is our protection and defense.  When the storms are raging in our lives, God has the power to speak peace to our storms as well as the power to give us peace in spite of the storm.  “Then they send up their cry to the Lord in their sorrow, and he gives them salvation out of all their troubles.  He makes the storm into a calm, so that the waves are at peace.”  Psalm 107:28-29 (NIV); “And [Jesus] arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  (Mark 4:39 KJV).  In the above passages not only does God calm the storm, but in Mark we find that Jesus was in the middle of the storm with His disciples all the time.  Just as Jesus was with His disciples, we can be confident that He is also with us.  “Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20 KJV).

Ladies, it is true that when it rains it pours.  But, let us not be discouraged by the rain.  We may be in a storm, but we have the best defense a gal could have!  “The Lord is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.” (Psalm 94:22 KJV).  Be encouraged!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for helping me to see that storms are part of life’s journey.  When I find myself in a storm, teach me to bow down in worship like Your servant Job.  Help me to remember that in all situations, You are my defender and, at the right time, You will speak peace to my storm.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to face every storm with the confidence that God is your defense.  Know that you are not without protection, for the battle is not yours, it’s the Lord’s!

Check out these related EmpowerMoments: Sheltered and It Takes a Storm

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)

Encouragement, Faith, Inspirational, Stress, Trials, Trusting God

Such Is Life

The night before leaving Seattle, I made plans to leave for the airport two hours early to make a timely arrival for my departure.  I was faithfully executing my plan but soon discovered that my plan was not the plan.  Nothing happened as I intended.  Upon check out, the hotel computer crashed.  My train arrived late and took 45 minutes to travel to the airport instead of 35.  At the airport, security held up the line just as I was having my license checked.  I was delayed further by security when they manually checked my luggage and ran it through the scanner twice.  After running like Flo-Jo trying to make it to my gate, I took the last available seat on the flight just one minute prior to take off.  I was highly frustrated, but that was not the end. 

As we approached the runway, the pilot announced that we were returning to the gate due to a medical emergency.  It was an hour later before we actually departed.  As we impatiently waited, several passengers mumbled because it was very likely that many of us would miss our connecting flights.  It was in that moment that God revealed to me this lesson—Such is life.

As I mulled over all the “unnecessary” delays and numerous frustrations, an older man beside me responded “Such is life!”  Here was a guy who was sure to miss his flight, yet he seemed so calm.  He told me that he had accepted that he would not make his flight and that he would just get a hotel and fly out tomorrow.  He did not mumble nor complain.  He simply remarked, “Such is life.”  After observing him, I began to ponder the statement and its truth.  Regardless of how much we plan in advance or how faithful we may be, there are times when things just don’t go as we intend. 

Such is life that despite our relationship with Christ, we are not exempt from calamity and trouble.  Throughout the Bible we discover that even the most devout Christians encountered difficulty.  Job, a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil, lost all of his wealth, children, and servants in a matter of days.  Joseph, a man committed to pleasing God, was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery by his brothers, and sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  Paul, one of the greatest and most faithful apostles, found himself facing death for preaching the gospel.  Just as these men did not live problem-free lives, neither shall we.  Therefore, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12 NIV)

Since life shall undoubtedly bring us trouble, the question is not whether we shall encounter problems, but how we handle the problems that we encounter.  When we face trouble, roadblocks, and detours in life, God does not want us to complain.  Instead, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2 NIV)  Life is not always going to be easy—Such is life!  Like the old man on my plane, there will be many times when we have to roll with the punches.  We can’t allow every distraction to steer us off course.  Instead, we are called to endure as a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3 NIV) so that we may glorify our Father.

As you reflect on the trouble that you may be encountering at this moment, consider the words of the Apostle Paul: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed…Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:8; 17-18 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for helping us to understand that some things in life just are.  Teach us not to complain and not to be easily distracted but to remember that Your Word equips us to overcome every problem that we encounter.  Remind us of Your Word daily and help us to glorify You by the way we choose to respond to life’s trials.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to approach life’s problems with a positive attitude.  Stop getting frustrated by the problem and focus on the One who can provide resolution.  I EMPOWER you to walk in faith remembering that, although we are destined to encounter trouble, trouble does not last always.

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)

Finances, God's Protection, Inspirational, Marriage, Money, Self-Control, Speech, Stress, Submission/Surrendering, Trusting God

It Takes a Storm to Prove How Strong Your House Is

One night it was raining so hard that I woke up and started to pray. “God, please cover my house and my family in Jesus’ name.” The rain was beating against the windows and the lightening was flashing. I commanded the storm to pass my house and not let any harm or danger come upon it. The storm passed and the only thing that happened was that our lights went out.

Well even though the physical storm had passed and the house, my husband and daughter were physically safe, there was all hell breaking loose on the inside. Those of you who are married know that a financial strain can put a marriage in a bind. Well the past few months have been challenging  for my family because our finances took a dive. Bills were past due and in jeopardy of being cut off and we didn’t know where we would get the money to pay them. When money is funny every other part of the marriage is too. I started saying some harsh things to my husband and vice versa. We started arguing more and we stopped healthy communication all together. Yes, I know the scripture: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:8, NKJV).” But I wasn’t abiding by it because I was angry and all I kept thinking was I don’t want to be the one to have to cover all of the bills. Instead of realizing that my husband and I are one, I became angry and start hitting him below the belt by throwing out hints about the bills. Honey, I opened the door and let the devil all the way in!

I was also lacking attention from husband. His father is terminally ill but I still wanted him to be with me all the time. Yeah I know, what was wrong with me? Why was I being so selfish? Why was I discouraging my husband instead of easing his pain? I started speaking death into my marriage and my household. Guess what? I almost murdered my marriage by not being the virtuous woman God called me to be. Whatever my husband would say I would go off not realizing that he also was longing for attention. Every chance I got I would tell him to get out or we could end our marriage immediately. I thank God for do overs!

Through all of this not once did I say, “God please cover my family through this storm.” I never even thought or cared about what my husband was feeling until one night I decided to take my frustrations to God because no one else was giving me the information I needed. I found out that we were in a terrible storm and my house would be blown down if I didn’t get my foundation in order.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7: 24-27 NIV)

I am guilty and very aware that I was not obeying the word of God. I should have been calming the storm but I was adding fuel to the fire. “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (2 Timothy 2:23-24 NIV)

One day I was watching the Weather Channel and storm stories was on. When various earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes and other storms hit the earth most houses were destroyed. The only houses that were still standing were the houses built on extremely strong foundations. I related this to my life and I had to take a step back and look into my situation and see how strong my foundation was. I needed to find out would my foundation crack at the first signs of rain or wind. “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7 NLT) I needed to calm the storm in my life by reading the Word and praying to God.

One of my favorite songs is “I Told the Storm” by Greg O’Quin:

I told the storm to pass
Storm you can’t last
Go away – I command you to move today
Storm – when God speaks;
Storm – you’ve got to cease
That’s what I told storm!

When I started commanding the storm to pass God started working my situation out. Remember, it takes a storm to prove how strong your house is!

Dear Daddy,

Even though storms may arise in my home sometimes I am glad that You left Your word to help me build a strong foundation so my house would not crumble. I thank You for calming my storms when I could not calm them. I thank You for giving me a strong foundation to weather the storms of life. I pray that You cover my family and my house from physical, mental and spiritual storms and if I do encounter them I pray that You lead and guide me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to build a strong foundation in God by praying, fasting, reading your bible, finding a word-based church and surrounding yourself with Christian, God–fearing people that can lead and guide you. I EMPOWER you to build a strong foundation so that when the storms of life start raging your house will not be broken or destroyed.

Greg O’Quin’s “I Told the Storm”:

Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor in training of The Christ For All People International Church. She is passionate about sharing the word of God with everyone she encounters. As a professional, Keviyona is a teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She loves her ministry of teaching and changing children’s lives. She is a devoted wife and mother of a wonderful daughter. Two of her favorite scriptures are Jeremiah 1: 5 – 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 and Proverbs 29:18 –  Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Faith, God's Protection, Trusting God

Resting in the Storm

A few nights ago, I was awakened by an unexpected storm.  The gusts of rain and wind were so violent that I immediately found myself in darkness as the connection to my source of power was interrupted.  My gut reaction was to panic.  After all, I had no clue how severe the storm might be.  Naturally, I started reaching out to friends, hoping that they could somehow help me with the problem I was experiencing.  One friend instantly replied that the storm would pass within five minutes.  “Great! It’s almost over,” I thought.  Well, twenty minutes passed and the storm was still raging.

So what do we do when we find ourselves in the midst life’s storms?  In a dark place?  Disconnected from our source of power?  With no clue of how long or fierce the storm may be? What can we do when the people we seek for help just don’t have the right answers?  Psalm 37:7 says, “Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for Him.” (ASV)

That night when I realized that I was in a storm and that I had no control over it, I finally began to lie down and just rest.  I had already prayed about it.  Now, it was time to trust that God would care for me and remain faithful to His word.  The storm lasted all night, but by daybreak the storm had passed, I had rested, and God protected me through the process.

In the same way that I needed to trust God with my natural storm, we must also trust God through our spiritual storms.  As Christians, we know that the enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy our faith in God.  Nevertheless, despite Satan’s relentless attempts to take us by storm, God’s simple yet divine solution is that we rest.  Of course we must prepare ourselves with the armor of God daily and remain alert to the devil’s schemes.  Yet, when we have done all that we can do according to the Word, God’s desire is that we rest in assurance that He will carry us through the storm. 

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…[God] will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the Lord, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:1-11 NIV).

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for keeping me in the midst of life’s storms.  Teach me how to rest and know that You are God. When I am faced with a storm, help me to remember Your servant’s words which state, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken…my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me.”(Psalm 16:8-10 NLT).  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to rest!  Be assured that God is faithful to His Word and know that He is prepared to carry you through each and every storm.

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

Faith, God's Protection, Obedience, Spiritual Warfare, Trusting God

The Night We Almost Died…

“…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!

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.

God, God's Love, God's Protection, God's Provisons, Inspirational, Relationships, Trusting God

I Carried You…

…It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (Matthew 9:12 NIV)

On Thursday of last week I was in the midst of preparing to pack up the house before my husband arrived with the U-Haul, plan two baby showers for which I was serving as hostess, and complete a major project at work the next morning. I knew this weekend was approaching so all week I tried to gear up and stay focused and ignore my need for rest. While I was packing, my daughter accidently bumped her head on the wooden base board of our bed frame while playing on the floor. Hearing the loud thump and the screams that came after, I ran to her to find her covering her eye. “Lord please don’t let me see a gash, her face is too cute. (Not kidding)….beats pass, okay whew, no gash, just a bump.” As I consoled her and finally settled her down I knew that a bump that hard could cause a concussion, so I started observing and assessing her, pupils and all. She finally rested to sleep and I figured it was just a hard bump that would probably incur a head ache in the morning.

That next morning I proceeded to take my shower while she lay in the bed watching her favorite morning show on Nick Jr. As I exited the shower I heard cries of “Moooommy, I threw up!” And sure enough, my head board and sheets were covered. Taking her to the bathroom to clean her up I noticed that she was oddly lethargic. In my head I thought “This must be a concussion, vomiting is a symptom!!” Rebuke in effect!!  Upon further assessment, she confirmed that she was not feeling well, and the vomit came….again! (Must be a concussion!)

At this point I knew that all plans for the day had to take an immediate back seat because MY BABY WAS SICK.  I drove to the doctor and made my appointment while en route. As the nurse told me that I could come on in, I was parking the car! Talk about proactive. The pediatrician suspected a concussion as well, so we were sent for a CT scan. While waiting on the registration process at the Pediatrics Unit of the hospital, I had to stand for about 20 minutes answering registration questions. The receptionist said, “Ma’am, I know your arms are tired (I was holding my child), I will try to hurry in a minute.”  Here is where my Empowermoment was birthed. I replied, “Ma’am, it is quite alright. My baby is sick, and if I had to hold her in my arms for 20 weeks I would.”

That’s just how God does us. When we are at our lowest point, He is there holding us until we get better. As soon as my daughter became sick, I went to clean her up. God will help you clean up your mess, because He loves you that much!  I was at the doctor’s office before she even accepted the appointment. God has already arrived to the problem before you even knew it existed. Ever heard “the squeaky wheel gets the oil?” God loves us so much that even though it seems as if He has better things to do, when His child is hurting, He is there to hold them along the way. When you are sick in your spirit, broken in your heart, or crushed in your soul, God is holding you until you get better.  The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. ( Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)

“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, we would walk side by side through life, but when I needed you most, I saw only one set of footprints in the sand. The Lord replied, “I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trials and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints it was then that I carried you.” (Excerpt from “Footprints in the Sand”)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for being there for me and running to my rescue when I am at my weakest. Help me to remember that You love me. And although I go through trials and tribulations You are right there helping me to heal so that You can restore me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you today to rest in the comfort of knowing that God knows all about your tough situation and that He is there to carry you through it. 

Read the entire poem, “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson

Praise Report: The CT scan results were negative and my little Twinkle Toes is back to prancing around on her tippie toes, WITHOUT A SCRATCH OR BRUISE. God is able!

As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6.  She teaches Young Adult Bible Study and Sunday School and also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment.  Khalilah resides in Huntsville, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their energetic three-year old daughter where they attend St. Luke Christian Church.

Faith, God's Love, God's Protection, Inspirational, Obedience, Trusting God

It Ain’t Over!

I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore: but He hath not given me over unto death (Psalms 118:17-18 KJV).

A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from my employer stating that the program that I worked for would be ending because the grant was ending. I already knew this and I even have another job lined up but it’s still shocking to see it in writing. I started to wonder “what if” I didn’t have a job what would I do. God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a Son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23: 19 NIV). Why would I even have to wonder when God said it ain’t over? I thought about so many other difficult times that I have endured in my life and God rescued me. When there was nowhere to go and no one to turn to, He provided comfort. I thought of a time when I thought my marriage was over and I didn’t want to listen to anyone but God told me, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:16 NIV) See even when I thought I had the answers and I could solve the problem on my own God told me, “It ain’t over!” Times when I wanted to walk away from situations on my own God would have to stop me because I didn’t have the authority to decide when it was over. I was led to this scripture: (…God promised me that he would never leave me, nor forsake me (Hebrew 13:15 KJV). God had to speak to me and ask why would I doubt and even have to think about “what ifs” when He knows my beginning and my end.

During these trying times, I like to read Ezekiel 37: 1- 14.  In this story, Ezekiel had a vision that he was in a field of dry bones and God spoke to him and told him to prophesy to the bones and speak life into them and he obeyed. God told Ezekiel that this was the same thing he needed to do to the people of Israel. Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’(NIV) Despite what Israel had done God still wanted to show them that He had the final say so. It doesn’t matter what you have been through or what you are going through remember “It ain’t over!”

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for keeping me and protecting me in situations where I thought I had lost the battle. Thank You Lord for forgiving me and still blessing me when I doubted who You were to me. I thank You for being with me to the end. I thank You Lord for letting Your will be done in my life despite what I felt or thought. I thank You for having the final say so in my life and teaching me that it ain’t over until You say it’s over! In Jesus Name, Amen!

Today, I EMPOWER you to know that it ain’t over, until God says it’s over! It doesn’t matter if you have been laid off or fired, if your spouse is not acting right or your kids are acting crazy. I want to EMPOWER you to look to the hills from whence cometh your help! Let God take control of your life and let Him lead and guide you. God will give you peace in the midst of your storm. It ain’t over!

Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor in training of The Christ For All People International Church. She is passionate about sharing the word of God with everyone she encounters. As a professional, Keviyona is a teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She loves her ministry of teaching and changing children’s lives. She is a devoted wife and mother of a wonderful daughter. Two of her favorite scriptures are Jeremiah 1: 5 – 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 and Proverbs 29:18 –  Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.