Encouragement, God's Grace, Motivation, Purpose, Self Love, Self-Esteem, Self-Worth, Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursday: An Unlikely Candidate

It’s Throwback Thursday! This EmpowerMoment was originally published on March 30, 2011. Enjoy this blast from the past!

Recently a friend asked me to do something and she told me that God told her to use me. If she were standing in front of me, surely she would have been given the side eye, neckroll, folded arms, lip smack with a loud foot stomp. I tried to laugh it off because I knew that surely God wasn’t using me to do anything. Either she was wrong or God surely hadn’t been paying attention. I think I have been to church two times this year (more if you count my attendance via streamingfaith.com) and I know that my sporadic opening and closing of the Bible couldn’t count for true study of the Word. I do the occasional fast and have talked “about Him” a lot but I only talk “to Him” on occasion. While I yearn for a closer relationship with God, our current casual encounters would not make me the likely candidate…or so I thought.

In the midst of belittling myself and coming up with all of the excuses of why He couldn’t have picked this mediocre Christian, the Spirit reminded me:  God often uses UNLIKELY people to carry out His will and draw them closer to Him!

Joshua 2:1 reveals: “Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. Of all of the people that God could have chosen to use as a vessel for this huge undertaking, God chose a WHORE. Imagine that! I am sure there were other people in Jericho who would have allowed the men to secretly lodge with them as they planned to overtake the city, but God chose Rahab. In return for her cooperation and faith, her and her family’s lives were spared in the destruction of the city.

Saul of Tarsus hated Christians.  “Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.” (Acts 8:3) As a matter of fact, he hated Christians so much that he learned about their Christian friends in Damascus by somehow getting the letters they were writing to them in prison. Being the over zealous persecutor that he was, Saul journeyed to Damascus to round up more Christians for prison; however, on this trip God had a different purpose. Acts 9 reveals Saul’s total transformation. Jesus met Saul on his journey and confronted him directly “Saul, Saul why do you prosecute me?” After meeting Jesus on his journey, Saul began to sing a different tune. The Lord blinded him and sent him into the city leaving instructions with Ananias. Responding to Ananias’ doubts of Saul’s transformation, God spoke to him in Acts 9:15. “But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”Saul later changed his name to Paul and went from Christian persecutor to Christian missionary.  Paul went on to write 13 books of the New Testament (Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Thessalonians, I and II Timothy, Titus and Philemon) I am sure that Paul, when reflecting on his life, found it remarkable that God would choose him with his shady past to spread the gospel and save souls.

There are many “unlikely” candidate stories in the Bible, but as I reflected on these two I realized that this task could be my opportunity to do God’s will and in the process become more than just an associate with Him. It had less to do with the task and more about developing our own personal relationship. It would require that I study the Word, pray, manage my time and have the ability to relay the knowledge He gives me to others. For many this is an easy task; however, my haphazard approach to my spiritual life would have to be restructured. To do this task we would have to spend time together. My task was to write you an EmpowerMoment.

Although I was initially discouraged, I thought about my life and my accomplishments. I have always been the “unlikely candidate.” A mother with mental illness, brothers incarcerated and on drugs, welfare recipient, and the list can go on, but through it all God sustained me while chaos went on all around me. According to the world’s statistics I should have been a teenage mom or at least a high school dropout but God’s plan for my life was different. I was the “unlikely candidate” that graduated from high school, college, got a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering, ran a multi-million dollar organization, got a great job (QUIT!) and am now co-CEO of a company. My “unlikely candidate” testimony probably makes me one of the BEST candidates. Who am I to doubt God?

Throughout our lives God often taps us on the shoulder for “special” assignments but we allow our personal insecurities to hinder us from carrying out His will. “Lord why me?” is the question we often ask. The larger question you should ask is, “Lord why not me?” God is our biggest cheerleader; He wouldn’t give us an assignment without the ability to complete it.  Romans 8:30 proclaims,And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”  You may be on the flip side of this message. Maybe God has sent an “unlikely candidate” to you with a message but you didn’t receive it because she was dressed like Rahab or their Christian resume` wasn’t strong enough. Whatever side of the table you are sitting on, know that God picks and chooses His own instruments. Don’t allow your personal insecurities or doubts about the messenger cause you to miss out on what God has preordained for YOU.

Dear Daddy,

Help me to recognize the divine assignments You have given me in my life. Cast out any spirits of confusion or doubt that would make me believe that I am not equipped to carry out Your will. Encourage my soul and give me a spirit of discernment so that I can recognize the messages that You have for me even when they don’t come in the package I’m expecting. Lord, continue to increase my faith and order my steps according to Your word. Allow me to draw closer to You and use me as a vessel to bless others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today EMPOWER yourself by making a conscious decision to do something that God has been tapping you on the shoulder to do. Whether it’s to speak to someone you haven’t spoke to in years or to take your life in a totally different direction, JUST DO IT! He’s ready, He’s waiting on YOU!

Are you having feelings of inadequacy about a task that God has given you? Share your experience below; we want to encourage you!

Read a related EmpowerMoment: He Sees the Best!

___________________________________________________________________

Ms. Chancee` Lundy lives in Atlanta, Georgia 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: every where 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 strengtheneth me.”

Attitude, Black Music Month Series, Fruit of the Spirit, Growth/Maturity, Motivation, Self Forgiveness

I’m Changing

June is Black Music Month! To celebrate, each of our EmpowerMoments will be based on Black music for the entire month. This includes Black songwriters, producers or performers. Stay tuned as we use various genres of Black music to tell our stories and exemplify the beauty of God’s love! Happy Black Music Month! Dance as if no one is watching!

I always find it interesting when I hear people tell other folks around them that they’ve changed. It’s almost as if we should be avoiding change like the plague. When did changing get such a bad rep? After all, as Christians, aren’t we called to be transformed and changed? (See 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Can you reflect on the previous 12 months and say that something about you has changed for the better? Has your attitude and disposition become more positive? Do you have more faith? Have you told less lies? Have you been a more loving wife? Have you become more patient with your children? Are you a better steward of your finances? What about you is evident that you are changing?

As you ponder that question, let’s visit one of the greatest stories of change in the Bible as witnessed in the life of the Apostle Paul. His change was so dramatic that his name even changed. Paul started off as Saul, a persecutor of the Christian Church, but was changed…

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. (Acts 9:1)

He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:4-6)

So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God! (Acts 9:17-20)

If someone who desired and plotted to annihilate the Christian church can be changed and used, surely God has the power to remake you and me!

I think that we often get discouraged because we don’t see growth in every area of our lives immediately, but that’s a trick of the enemy. He likes to make us think that since we aren’t what we ought to be, then we should just give up. No, the key to encouraging yourself is celebrating your progress. Maybe your attitude isn’t always the best, but you don’t curse out the cashier when she screws up your order anymore. Maybe you still have little spats with your husband, but you’ve learned the true definition of submission and apply it in your home. Celebrate how far God has brought you and you will have the motivation you need to continue to press on. Although trite, the colloquialism, “Not what I should be, but thank God I ain’t what I used to be” is our anthem! The word changing indicates that we are going through an iterative process and must be continually remolded and remodeled. Our spin on the Potter’s Wheel is never-ending.

In today’s theme song, Whitney Houston says, “I’m changing, but I need your hand.” Understand that you cannot and will not change on your own. You must have the help of our Father in heaven and the great thing is that He has promised to help, if you only ask for His assistance.

As stated before, Saul was transformed to Paul. I like to think of it as going from Sin to Praise. Remembering how far you’ve come and all of the sin that He has brought (or is bringing) you out of is reason for praise! Even though you are not everything that you desire to be, I dare you to stand up and thank God as you proudly proclaim, “I’m changing!”

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for inspiring and helping me to change. I need Your hand during this process of change in my life. I pray that if there is any area of my life that needs to be changed, that I haven’t submitted to You, that You give me the desire to change it. My ultimate goal is to be more like You every day, so please help me with that constant transformation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to continue changing! Strive to become the woman that God predestined you to be. When people tell you that you’ve changed, smile and say, “Yes! With His help, I’m changing!”

Read the full story of Saul’s conversion to Paul in Acts 9 and Acts 22.

Reflect on how much He’s changed you as you listen to the late Whitney Houston’s “I’m Changing”

___________________________________________________________________

Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant. She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments. As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible and other non-fiction pieces. Her driving inspiration is when God says to her: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) She currently resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful husband and two lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

Jesus, Righteousness, Salvation, She is Me Series, Sin

She is Me: Lydia

In honor of National Women’s History Month, EmpowerMoments is featuring a special series called ‘She is Me’.  Each writer will parallel her own life with that of a Biblical woman to enlighten and EMPOWER youCheers to being a WOMAN!

In Need of a COMPLETE Makeover

For much of my childhood, I attended church either with my mother or my grandmother. At the age of 13, I was baptized and it seemed like I had arrived to my spiritual destination. I loved going to church for the ‘feeling’ and chills that the experience gave me and that was pretty much the depth of my spirituality. Over the course of my teenage years, I learned to pray and carried that practice away to college with me. I learned what it meant to worship God and made sure that was a part of my life as well. So, I was praying to God, worshipping Him, going to church and doing extremely well in school. Surely, God was well pleased with my life, right?! Well maybe He would have been if all of those wonderful things weren’t diluted with drunkenness, promiscuity, fornication, drugs, lies, hatred, bitterness, spitefulness, revenge—this list could go on for several miles. I had a form of godliness, but it was not pleasing to God. Here is where Lydia’s world meets mine.

And on the Sabbath day we went outside the [city’s] gate to the bank of the river where we supposed there was an [accustomed] place of prayer, and we sat down and addressed the women who had assembled there.

One of those who listened to us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in fabrics dyed in purple. She was [already] a worshiper of God, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. (Acts 16:13-15 AMP)

From this short passage of scripture, we can tell that Lydia knew and worshipped God just like me. She was at a prayer meeting, so prayer was definitely a part of her lifestyle similar to mine. She also made an acceptable living by selling fine textiles; likewise, I’ve always excelled in school and held great jobs. With such an awesome resume`, what was she missing? Why were we so much alike?  Well, the fact that God had to open her heart to receive Paul’s message indicates that she obviously hadn’t accepted Jesus and allowed His Spirit to reside there…and neither had I. How do I know? Long before Jesus made His earthly appearance, God made a promise to mankind: I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36-25-27 NIV) If His Spirit were residing INSIDE of me, change would have been evident. Both Lydia and I had a form of godliness but had been denying the power of Jesus (See 2 Timothy 3:5).

It doesn’t tell us exactly what Paul shared with Lydia on the riverbank, but I can imagine that it was similar to what he had preached before: “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus…Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:32-33, 38)

Praise God that our stories did not end before we really knew Jesus! Shortly before graduating college, God truly opened my heart to receive the changing power of His Spirit. I confessed, again, that Jesus would be Lord over my life and that time I truly meant it! My family was changed as a result of my change and so it was with Lydia. “And when she was baptized along with her household, she earnestly entreated us, saying, If in your opinion I am one really convinced [that Jesus is the Messiah and the Author of salvation] and that I will be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. And she induced us [to do it]… So [Paul and Silas] left the prison and went to Lydia’s house; and when they had seen the brethren, they warned and urged and consoled and encouraged them and departed.” (Acts 16:15,40 AMP) Not only were Lydia and her family saved, but she opened her home so that Paul and Silas could proclaim the Gospel there. It’s amazing to understand just how much of an impact Lydia’s acceptance to the Gospel had on multitudes of other people. Your obedience and willingness to accept Jesus’ transformative power in your life is connected to so many other people’s destinies!

Ladies, consider this a warning alarm! It’s time to get serious and stop playing church. Yes, your outward appearance may resemble Jesus, but are you sure that you are truly a joint heir to God’s treasures? If you cannot answer yes to that question, it’s not too late for you! He has given you another day to make it right. Jesus is waiting with open arms to greet you. He welcomed Lydia and I with our distorted, self-righteous views and I know that He will welcome you too!

To welcome Jesus into your heart, read the following prayer aloud:

Dear Daddy,

I recognize that I am a mess and that I have messed up. I ask that You forgive me for the things that I have done that were not pleasing to You. Forgive me for the things that I realize were sins and even those that I did not realize were sins. I believe that Jesus died specifically for me, but on the third day He rose again. By that belief alone, I am saved. I ask that You soften my heart to Your Spirit that now dwells inside of me. I want to be made into a new creature. I want to be more and more like you each day. Thank You for this gift of salvation! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

If you said this prayer, we are excited and would love to hear from you! Click here to contact us.

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to let Jesus give you a complete makeover! It’s not enough just to ‘look’ like Him; ask for the complete package that includes making you act, think, speak and walk like Him!

Get your FREEBIES! Click here to enter!

Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant.  She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments.  As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible and other non-fiction pieces. Her driving inspiration is when God says to her: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11) She currently resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful husband and two lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.