Saturday, December 25, 2010

Five Gifts for Christmas

Merry Christmas! This past Sunday my pastor shared a message on the "5 Gifts that you can give every Christmas." Since Christmas is here, I wanted to take a few moments to share these five gifts with everyone. These will make great gifts that are sure to bless the receiver!

The first gift is to "Say nice things when you [we] don't have to." It's an odd gift, yes, but it's very useful around the holidays, especially when we find ourselves around a lot of people we may or may not get along with. Christmas gatherings can be trying times. Emotions are high, stress levels are out the window, and people are put in some pretty tight situations. The best thing to remember is to speak to one another with encouraging words that build up not break down (or spark past arguments and disagreements).
I Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..."

The second gift is the gift of simply "Being Ourselves." Family gatherings can really put the pressure on to be someone other than ourselves. We haven't seen some of these people since last Christmas and they're going to want to know what we've been up to. We've already heard that 'Suzy Jane' is the VP of Marketing with her big Fortune 500 Company, how can we compete with that? We suddenly feel that our volunteer work at the church and our ordinary 9 to 5 job isn't 'good enough' so we try to build ourselves up with a little stretch of the truth here and there. Psalm 139:13-14 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Instead of covering up who God has created us to be, we need to be openly giving Him praise and sharing our gifts with others. God has made us exactly the way He wanted to. We are His creation and are "fearfully and wonderfully made." The best gift we can give others is to be ourselves.

Our third gift is to "Be a Specimen of Joy." There's a lot of things going on in the World that can bring us down. Yes, there is suffering, disease, and poverty, but there is also hope, mercy, grace, and love. No matter how bad things may seem to be, God is still on the throne and in control of every thing, big or small, that is happening around us. This is comforting news that should give us great excitement and joy; a joy that we simply cannot contain. Let's remember to share the joy and the reason for that joy with those around us!

The fourth gift is the gift of "Dealing with offensive behavior directly." When there's a lot of people together there's bound to be a few toes (and egos) stepped on. What's the first thing we usually do when someone says or does something offensive to us? We tell the person standing the closest to us. Before long we've talked about the offense with everyone but the offender. Matthew 18:15 tells us "If a brother sins against you, go to him privately and confront him with his fault. If he listens and confesses it, you have won back a brother." How true those words are! If we keep the situation to ourselves and seek out the offender privately then we can save a lot of time and trouble. The problem can be smoothed out and the entire day or evening won't be ruined. Time is such a precious treasure; don't spend it sulking.

The fifth and final gift is to remember to "Make people, not stuff the priority this Christmas." Jesus is the reason for the season; He came to seek and save the lost and to give us life abundantly (Luke 19:10; John 10:10). He made us a priority. He stepped out of a glory filled Heavenly realm into a dark and dusty Earth. People, not stuff, were His priority. We need to do the same. Christmas may be the only opportunity we get to tell friends and family about Christ; make it count!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sounds of Christmas: Jesus Is Coming!

The sounds of Christmas. There's a lot of sounds going around at the this time of year; speeding cars, busy shoppers rushing around the store, lots of children laughing (and crying), cheering crowds at holiday sports games, tuning of instruments preparing for an outdoor Christmas concert, the steady beeping of the checkout lines, and of course the fast tapping of fingers across the keyboard and the click of the mouse as Christmas gifts and messages are sent across the super highway.
There were similar sounds of busyness that first Christmas too. The entire Roman Empire was abuzz with busy travelers trying to reach their cities of origin for the census. Roadways were packed with chariots, carts, horses, and mules. Animals crying, children crying, people shouting, whips cracking, these were the sounds of that first Christmas. A world of busy, preoccupied individuals trying to make it to their destination on time. Shop keepers shouting along the way hoping someone would stop and buy their goods. Beggars with outstretched arms pleading with the travelers to have pity on them and toss a coin or two their way.
Two different worlds, yet the same familiar rushing, busy sounds of Christmas. What would happen if the world stopped everything for a time of silence? What would we hear? Standing outside in the coolness of the evening, looking up at the dark, clear sky filled with stars, I stand listening to the silence and imagine what it must have been like for the shepherds, wise men, and Mary and Joseph. The angels singing to announce the birth of a King, the Savior of the world! The awe of a miraculous star beckoning to "follow me." The worried sighs of a distraught husband accompanied by the screams of a woman in labor. Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!
Those were the sounds of Christmas that the world didn't hear that night. They were too busy to stop and listen. They were about their own business when the most important business of the great God of the Universe was taking place. What about us today? We know the story. We know the sounds of what happened. But, are we stopping to listen and remember? We're about our crazy holiday schedules with so much to get done, but do we realize or even understand the importance and magnitude of the business our Father God has given us? Are we not about our Father's business? If not, what's keeping us so preoccupied and busy that we're forgetting the real meaning of Christmas and the work that should occupy our lives every day of the year? Sit quietly before the Lord and ask Him to reveal the sounds of Christmas. Stop in the middle of everything and reflect on the work God has given us to do. Be about His business by spreading His love and the message of His saving grace to those who've not heard. Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Chance to Write

The following is an essay I recently submitted to a writer's contest. Winners have since been announced and although I was not one of them, I am deeply grateful for the contest and its theme "When Writing Made a Difference." I was encouraged to take a look at why I write and who I write for. God revealed many things to me that I had long since forgotten. I encourage each of you to ask yourselves "When ____ Made a Difference." Fill in the blank with something that encourages and motivates your life. Ask yourself how God has used that to make a difference in life. Praise Him for it and ask for His continued guidance in fulfilling the gifts He's given.

Words are always present. I find them floating around in my head throughout the day. They swim across my dreams at night. They call to me in the quietness begging me to write. I hear them, but I don’t always listen. I want to write. I’ve been told that I write with such heart and conviction. When I stop writing, readers ask for more. Something inside of me is set free when words finally make it to paper, but so often they remain hidden within my quiet soul. The enemy fills my mind with doubts and despair, whispering, “You’ll never be good enough. There are so many publishers; you’ll never find one to take a chance on you. Blogs don’t count. E-mails aren’t credible. Look at all of the pages that you’ve yet to publish. Stop while you can and find a real job.” I fight to escape these lies, but they take hold and I stop mid sentence leaving pages void of thought.

This was the writing void I found myself in before I discovered the writings of Amy Carmichael. As a young woman, Amy recognized a call on her life to take the message of Jesus Christ to people in distant lands. In her mid twenties, Amy found herself taking on a lifelong position as a missionary in India. It was for this reason that a close friend of mine encouraged me to read Amy’s biography entitled A Chance to Die written by author and missionary Elizabeth Elliot. I picked up the book expecting to be filled with an excitement and yearning to head to the mission field overseas, but instead I re-discovered the writing mission God placed within my heart years ago. Amy Carmichael was not only a great missionary, but she was also an extraordinary writer.

The most unique part of Amy’s life as a writer was that she never intended to be a published author. She simply wrote because of the passion within her to express the need of the ministry and the people she served. She kept a daily journal, wrote letters of praise to staff, sent encouraging words to friends, and mailed hundreds of newsletters home to family and friends. Amy followed no guidelines. She went against tradition and wrote from her heart sharing the harsh realities of missionary life, the desperate need for workers, and the miraculous ways God provided for the people both spiritually and physically. She would often receive letters back from the mission offices at home asking her to edit and reconstruct her words to fit within the guidelines of the church or community. On one occasion, when her work did go before publishers, Amy was asked to re-write her manuscript making missions work more appealing to readers. Amy refused and instead sent back a new title for her work, which was Things as They Are.

Amy Carmichael did not write with the intention of making money for herself, raising money for missions, or to become one of the greatest writers of her time. God gave her a gift with words and she honored that gift by writing. She devoted hours upon hours to using words to express her heart and love for the people and God she served. The only guidelines Amy Carmichael adhered to were the ones written within her heart. She left the end results of all of her writings to the will of God and it was He who ensured that her writings caught the eyes of the publishers in order to reach a greater multitude of readers.

The writings of Amy Carmichael re-ignited the writer within me. I’ve come to realize that I write because I’m a writer. A passion burns within me to communicate the words God has given me. I write not to raise money, make a living, or become a well known author (although that would be nice). I write because it is my life, my soul, my very being. If God so grants me the privilege of becoming a published author, I will be ecstatic beyond words. Should my words never reach a published market, yet somehow find their way to the one reader that needs them most, I will be in awe that such a mighty God would allow me to be part of such mighty works of His love!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Long Night - Lots to Learn

The moments on the mountain, as Oswald Chambers wrote, are merely meant to be an inspiration; something to inspire and re-ignite the flame within us. The view from the mountaintop is so serene, majestic and full of beauty. It can be described in hundreds of ways, yet no words can accurately portray what the eye has seen and the very heart within has leapt for joy over. I know. I've tried. I'm writing from atop a mountain at this very moment. Physically, I'm on the top of the Smokey Mountain range. Spiritually, I was walking on air up until about an hour and a half ago when a loud noise scared me half to death. A visit from the police, encouragement from a neighbor, and words of wisdom from friends and family later and I'm still afraid. I pray to the Lord to hush the pounding of my heart, settle the uneasiness of my stomach, and give rest to my soul. Psalm 4:8 says, "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety." Lord I need that sleep this night, but I'm afraid to close my eyes. Help me in this I pray. You have already turned this situation into your glory in that I am writing again. It's been months since I've put a word to paper some way or another. Perhaps sleep is what I've spiritually been doing too long, at least in the writing sense. It's time to take up my pen and paper or laptop and pour out the very being You've given me; a being filled with your words that your people need to hear. David Platt's book Radical devotes a segment of chapter four to the very fact that we are to enjoy Your grace and spread your glory. I confess for too long I have basked in the glow of your grace, yet have not spread the news, lessons, and thoughts you've given me to others for the sake of your glory. Forgive me Lord. Write within me. Allow the words to flow by your grace and for your glory and yours alone. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Face the Storm

It rained this morning and I mean hard drops of rain. It started out slowly. I was walking the beach and could feel a few drops here and there. By the time I made it back to the beach in front of the room the rain had really started coming down. I was about to go in when I stopped and asked myself, "What are you doing?" There's no thunder or lightning. Hang out a little while." So I did. I had the beach to myself, the pool, and the hot tub. No one was around. It was pouring. My hat's visor blocked the rain from my face as I enjoyed a wonderful swim. Beneath the waters there was calm and silence. The rain was pounding the surface, but I was safe under the water. Even when I came up for air and eventually went to sit in the hot tub, the pounding rain continued, but I realized it wasn't really all that bad.

We have storms in life. We talk about them a lot, because like summer rain in Florida, they can be pretty frequent. This morning's storm was rough, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Beneath the surface of the water I found peace. The sun wasn't blazing down on me. The wind was keeping me cool. It was a perfect morning at the beach despite the rain. It can be a beautiful day in life too, despite the storms brewing. There's nothing going to happen that you can't handle with God's help. At first glance the storm seems fierce, but once you get to know it better, recognize what's going on and why, you will find peace in the arms of the Father who will see you through.

Take some time this week to walk in the rain, dance in the wind, and face the storm. With God leading you through, there's no need to worry or wait until it passes. Face it head on with the power of God and find out what's on the other side!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Prayer For You, My Friends

Lord, before I check my e-mail and get distracted by all of the junk as well as the daily roles of life, I come to you first to lift up this prayer for my friends.

Dear Lord,

I ask that you fill my  friends with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Fill them Lord so that they may live a life worthy of You and may please You in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in Your knowledge. May they be strengthened with all power according to your glorious might Father. May each of them have great endurance and patience joyfully giving thanks to You O Lord who has qualified them to share in the inheritance of the saints in Your Kingdom of Light. (Colossians 1:9-12)

In Jesus' Precious Name,
Amen


Friends, this is a great way to pray the scripture for one another. These verses in Colossians 1:9-12 were shared with my by a dear friend, and now I pray them for each of you! You can also pray this scripture during your own trying times in life. What an amazing reminder that God is in control and it is He who we look to for our daily steps in life!

Blessings and Prayers to Each of You!
Amanda

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pray It Out

Since the closing of one of my favorite gyms, I've turned to the in home walking series by Leslie Sansone for my regular aerobic/cardio workout. Don't let the name fool you, the Walk at Home series is way more than walking! It actually comes on a variety of levels. The one I'm doing is a high impact aerobic workout that involves some intense attention to lunges, squats, weights and resistance. It's no wonder between every set of moves that we're encouraged to "walk it out" before moving on. It's some tough stuff, but walking it out allows for a break without actually stopping the work out or losing momentum.

I'm finding the same is true when it comes to those out of control, intense moments in life. We face some crazy situations and we don't always know how to handle them. Sometimes it's easier to vent to someone about it or dwell on the situation trying to solve it ourselves. This method, however, stops us in our tracks and we lose momentum. Things come to a complete halt and we find it nearly impossible to move forward.   

Sometimes we need to "walk it out" or in these types of circumstances, we need to pray it out. God is waiting for us to come to Him with all of our needs and fears. He is our ultimate counselor and when we bring our troubles to Him, He will show us how to handle them. This was something that I had to put into practice several times this weekend. Little dilemmas found their way into my mind and I was on the verge of panic when I picked up Jesus Calling and read the daily devotional reminding me to come to God and to speak to Him not just in prayer time, but all of the time.



Through each circumstance, I took a time out to pray it out and talk it over with the Lord. I didn't put my life on hold until the answer was revealed. I kept going, kept up the pace, and continued walking while at the same time talking it out. God hasn't revealed all the answers yet, but I'm trusting Him to guide me one step at a time. He has answered the main prayer of helping me not to turn the small problems into something huge and I know He will reveal the solution in His time.

The next time things take an overwhelming turn for the worst, just pray it out. Don't stop in life, just take a breather and keep moving while talking it over with the One with all the answers. The journey is a lot more fulfilling when we stay in communication with our Guide!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day Six and Day Seven - Keep On Praying!

Wow! What an amazing weekend of prayer this has been. I didn't post on day six because I was just taking a day to unplug and rest in the Lord and the new lessons He is teaching me. It was nice not to have a particular schedule for the day; I just let the day flow and I went along with it. I thought about day one - coming into God's presence; day two - drinking of God's Word; day three - listening for God's voice/hearing from Him, day four - seeking God in the quiet; day five - again seeking Him and turning to keep my focus on Him; and then day six - living and resting in God's Joy and Peace (His presence).

Day seven, today, was a wonderful surprise from the Lord. Back when I started this prayer week with my church, I learned of the six principles listed on day one through six above. I also learned from the ministry I work with, to treat this week as the six days of marching around Jericho and on day seven shouting with praise and Joy knowing and believing that God will bring down the walls in my life and help me move on in Him.

Honestly, I wasn't sure how day seven would go. Truth be told, I didn't plan anything for any of the prayer days. I let God plan and move me and that was a completely new experience! It was no surprise that I woke up this morning with a clear path from the Lord. Walls are going to come down, but it's going to take time. I am committing to another full week of prayer as this week. I'm taking it one day or one week at a time, but hoping I can get myself in a permanent prayer fast of leaving behind self and devoting an extra hour a day to prayer. This has been a life changing time of spiritual growth and I have absolutely loved it...the good, the bad, and the ugly...LOL!

Another wonderful experience today was during this morning's worship service at church. It was a great wrap up to the church wide week of prayer and an intro to the next sermon series on God's grace. At the end of the service we closed with a time of music and prayer pouring our hearts out in song while others went to the front to pray and pray over others. Near the closing, the song grew louder and we began singing louder and shouting praises to the Lord. That's when it hit me. We were shouting on day seven and the walls were coming down! Another path, although not completely clear, was revealed and I left the service with a sense of God's affirmation to continue in Him and continue practicing the reality of His presence no matter how I feel.

It's been a great week of new experiences, new lessons, and some face to face moments learning a few not so simple lessons about myself. I am excited to continue in this prayer fast as well as keep posting as often as possible. God has blessed my life and through your responses, I am seeing that He has blessed your life. Praise be to His name. The walls are not all down, the paths are not all clear, but one thing is for sure, prayer and open communication with the only One who is truly in charge of my life MUST continue. The great God of the Universe wants to talk to me and I am listening! Holy Spirit help me continue!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day Five Prayer Fast: Seek and Turn

Come. Drink. Listen. Seek. Turn. Live in Joy and Peace.

Day five in this week devoted to prayer finds me seeking and turning. How?

Today started with a prayer and a reminder from Jesus Calling not only to give troubles over to the Lord, but also to leave them there and move on to the next thing. As I look back on the fun I had today with my niece and family, I realize that is what I did. This evening, however, when things died down, I felt the need to pray some things out and seek the Father. Did I? Honestly, No. I tuned into a few more television programs and read a few more e-mails until one of those e-mails hit a little too close to the core of what needed to be prayed over. Only then, and slowly, did I turn off the television, let go, and let God.

The words "Seek Him" came to mind and I asked, "Lord, how in the world am I supposed to seek You?" The thought had been near all evening and while I thought I was trying to find ways to do that, I was really looking for more things to keep me preoccupied and away from the ultimate sit down one on one. The moment I asked how do I seek, the Lord pointed out that all I have to do is come to Him, drink of His word and listen. Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Seeking began with praising; praising God for His mercy, grace, and love and praising Him for the direction I know and am believing He will give. Seeking Him caused me to turn my eyes, ears, heart and soul towards Him and truly pray out what was going through my mind. Things I had not thought of or even considered came to mind and I was worried. Even though we were to come into this week of prayer leaving the planning up to God, I still had what I thought was a sense of the things the Lord would cover this week; apparently I was wrong. I had some alarms and definitely had to take a moment to remind myself to give them over to God and ask for His help to leave them with Him and move to the next step. It wasn't easy and just when I thought it was hopeless, God surprised me!

It's not about the feelings involved in prayer or that special sense or feeling that God is there; it's the everyday practice of the presence of God and the reality of God with us that is key. When I was stripped of these notions and concepts and truly open to whatever the Lord wanted to say, when I stepped down and allowed Him to step up, that's when I heard from Him. That's the moment I was completely caught off guard. God laid something entirely out of the blue on my heart and although it cannot be shared here or now (because it will be typed up later), I can do nothing but praise God for His surprise and direction and ask that He bless the project that He has so clearly defined.

Praise God for His all knowing, ever present, all powerful wisdom in all that He gives us. Even when we think it is a horrible circumstance, God means it for good. Seeking Him Has led to a turning point in one area and I am praying, praising, and trusting for the Lord's continued direction in other areas.  Please know that I am praying for the same for You, my church, missions, family, and friends!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Prayer Fast Day Four - Quietness

Fourth day of prayer and the earth continues to shake beneath my feet as I sit quietly before the Lord in prayer. This morning began with prayer texts from a close friend along with a reading from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest plus the day's reading from Jesus Calling.

Jesus Calling confirmed the day's assignment to simply rest before the Lord and take time to sit quietly in His presence. Psalm 37:7 says, "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself..." I felt relief from those words and a sense of freedom as I just let go. The words stayed with me as I took a walk with the dog followed by a 2 mile bike ride.

Back from the time outdoors, I sat down for time with My Utmost for His Highest. I began with the reading for August 4th (even though today is August 5th) and kept going backwards reading various devotionals through July and back at the end of June. There was a lot of information packed in there and much to dwell on. I have much to pray over the next few days. I'll leave off with the reading for July 22, which is also available online at: http://www.myutmost.org/07/0722.html.


 


SANCTIFICATION

"This is the will of God, even your sanctification." 1 Thessalonians 4:3

The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Many of us spend so much time in the place of death that we get sepulchral. There is always a battle royal before sanctification, always something that tugs with resentment against the demands of Jesus Christ. Immediately the Spirit of God begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle begins. "If any man come to Me and hate not . . his own life, he cannot be My disciple."

The Spirit of God in the process of sanctification will strip me until I am nothing but "myself," that is the place of death. Am I willing to be "myself," and nothing more - no friends, no father, no brother, no self-interest - simply ready for death? That is the condition of sanctification. No wonder Jesus said: "I came not to send peace, but a sword." This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us faint. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus on this point. "But it is so stern," we say; "He cannot wish me to do that." 

Our Lord is stern; and He does wish us to do that.

Am I willing to reduce myself simply to "me," determinedly to strip myself of all my friends think of me, of all I think of myself, and to hand that simple naked self over to God? Immediately I am, He will sanctify me wholly, and my life will be free from earnestness in connection with every thing but God.
When I pray - "Lord, show me what sanctification means for me," He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me. (1 Cor. 1:30.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Earth Is Shaking - Prayer Day Three

The Earth may not literally be shaking as I write this, but it is definitely safe to say that the Lord is shaking the ground beneath my feet. The moment I joined in for devoted prayer this week, God began working in very evident ways. Day one, I came into the presence of the Lord; day two I drank of His word; and now on this third day of prayer I find myself listening intently. I have to be honest that I did not intentionally begin this third day of prayer ready to listen and devote myself to prayer, but the Lord is moving, things are definitely shaking up, and I am at a loss for words.

Comfort zones and "safe" areas are being shaken and things are being looked at in a new light. God is moving and I am learning to sit still and allow Him to speak into my life and move me. I don't know how things will move or how I will move physically or spiritually. Thanks to a wonderful morning in prayer with a close friend, I know now that I am to simply sit and listen giving this time over to the Lord and waiting for Him to reveal what His plan is. I only have to be willing, able, and available for what He has in store.

The remaining days of prayer this week will be devoted to silence and prayer. A friend shared with me the words found in Joshua. The Lord told Joshua and his mighty army to march around the city of Jericho for six days silently and wait for Him to reveal His plan. Six days of silence were followed by day seven when the Lord gave the command for all the children of Israel to shout in unison and praise to Him. On that day, the walls fell. The city was given to them. The victory was theirs. All they had to do was follow the Lord; He had done the work and rewarded them with victory. (Joshua 5:13 - 6:15).

It is my prayer to do the same these six days of prayer waiting for God to reveal His plan and purpose on day seven. I am praying and believing the Lord will provide and break down the walls in my life hindering me from being all that He wants me to be. I invite all of my friends and family to pray with me during this time!

Blessings,
Amanda

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Prayer Requests for Day Two

Special prayer requests to go along with today's day of prayer:

Highland Park Prayer Requests

  1. Prayer for Pastor Brett Rickey for spiritual protection, strength and discernment
  2. Prayer for Pastor Brett's family
  3. Prayer for the church, church family, community, missions
  4. Prayer for direction and confirmation from God as He opens many new opportunities
Pastor Brett's blog is available here: Cool Leadings
    Ministry to Women
    1. Prayer for Liz (executive director) for spiritual protection, strength and discernment
    2. Prayer for Liz's family
    3. Prayer for the women we are serving.
    4. Prayer for direction of the ministry, and God's provision over all needs
    5. Prayer for ministry partners and their families - Special prayer for those who are fighting cancer (Howell, Stan, JP, Ms. Stull)

    It's Not Always Pretty - Day 2 in the Prayer Fast!

    It's day 2 in the week of devoted, intentional prayer at my church and through the ministry I work with and God is not holding back! I'm realizing that my devotion/quiet time with God prior to this time of specific prayer was not near long enough, deep enough, or devoted enough on my part. I was breezing through some scripture, sending up a quick prayer and off I went.

    The past two days, I've allowed myself to really stop and sit and think, speak, be silent, pray, sing, and be still before God. It's not easy and it's not pretty. When we bring ourselves to a stopping point, our world literally stands still and everything that we have taken in through our five senses comes rushing back to us and we realize just what we're living in and around on a daily basis. Pain, sorrow, peace, joy; it's all there and it's not always easy to digest. The Lord is using this prayer time to teach me that if I would slow down in every second of my life and dwell on what is happening, I would learn to lift it to Him immediately in prayer before walking on. Doing this eases the burden from my shoulders and assures me that things are covered under the mighty wings of the Father because I've given it to Him and let it go. (Letting go is key!)

    Thank you Father! Forgive me for taking so long to come to you. Your timing is perfect. Thank you for being faithful to me even when I was not to You. I am blessed and growing knowing that you are with me on the high places and in the low valleys!

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    God Is Calling His People to Pray!

    This just in! If you've read my earlier post, you know by now that my church is in the midst of a week of devoted prayer 24/7!

    This evening, I received an e-mail from my good friend and the director of the ministry I am serving full time with. She devoted this past weekend to prayer and believes God is calling her and the ministry partners of LUV to 24/7 prayer this week!

    Friends, God is speaking through His people and His church. He is calling us to come to  Him and hear from Him; to be refreshed and equipped spiritually and physically. I write these words during another hour devoted specifically to prayer for my church, community, family, friends, missions around the world. God is speaking and He is using the words my pastor preached on this past Sunday from Isaiah 55. Below is the scripture from Isaiah. As you read it, think on these 6 key imperatives that God gives us when He wants us to move (from Pastor Brett Rickey's sermon; check out HPNaz.org)

    1.) Come  2.) Drink  3.) Listen  4.) Seek  5.) Turn  6.) Live in Joy and Peace

    Please click on this link to read Isaiah 55!!

    Day One of 24/7 Prayer at HPNaz!

    My church, Highland Park Church of the Nazarene, has just kicked off a 24/7 prayer week this week and I'm excited to share a daily blog on my experiences with God through this particular week devoted to prayer. Here's the first entry:

    I wasn't able to attend the prayer kick off Sunday night, but spent an hour in prayer after the service Sunday morning. I'm really excited to be on board and spending at least an hour in prayer each day especially this week. Yesterday's prayer time was more than an hour and was just filled with praise for what God has, is, and will be doing in my life, HPNaz, this community, and missions around the world. God is teaching me to take the first step and just "come" to Him!

    Blessings!
    Amanda

    P.S. - You can follow HPNaz's pastor Brett Rickey's blog at Cool Leadings

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Choose your battles and fight them through prayer!

    There's a popular phrase and a sound piece of advice floating around that sounds a little like this; "Choose your battles wisely." It's a warning and a reminder of sorts that we need to pick our battles wisely. There are sometimes we just aren't going to get anywhere much less come up with a win. It's up to us to weigh in the situation and find whether it's worth fighting for or if we simply need to let it go and keep walking.

    In Matthew 5, verse 39, Jesus tells says, "Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." In other words, sometimes you have to take the blow and keep walking. There's a time to fight and a time to turn the other cheek.

    But this isn't the end of the advice given by Jesus here in Matthew. In fact, just a few verses down in Matthew 5:44, Jesus says to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." In the physical world around us, yes, there are battles that we must pick to fight or simply walk away from. Spiritually, in the battle  between good and evil forces working behind the scenes, the battle is never an option. We are called to join at all times by joining in prayer for those we are up against.

    Life happens and we may not like the way things turn out. A lot of anger comes from situations and circumstances that we have no control over. It would be easy to walk away and physically, we may need to, but spiritually we need to recognize just who is really at work here and determine to fight back with time spent on our knees in prayer. Sometimes it's not so obvious to us that Satan is moving among situations occurring in our lives, but we need to open our eyes and be aware of his attacks. We must be ready for them and choose to take action by taking it to the Lord in prayer.

    There is no task, no situation, no circumstance, no person for that matter that the Lord cannot work a mighty miracle in. Praying for our enemies is praying for another chance to be a light in the life of someone who is lost or has stumbled from the path. The power of the church, the power of the believers, is prayer. "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20). Physically, choose your battles wisely. Spiritually, get up and fight through prayer for greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world (I John 4:4).

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    Quench Summer Thirst


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    Have you ever noticed how everything seems to slow down when the school year begins to wrap up? I’m not even in school nor do I have children, but I can feel the atmosphere of restlessness and anticipation for summer vacation. The temperature is rising and our body is slowing down. Lazy days of summer are here and it’s time to redeem all of that vacation time!

    Ecclesiastes  3:1 tells us “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” We have entered a time of rest and relaxation; a time when we can rejuvenate our bodies physically with some down time around the pool, on the road with family, or on the couch for a quiet afternoon.

    Our body is not the only thing that needs a time of refreshment. Our soul seeks the Lord and works within us daily leading us on the path the Lord has chosen for us. To keep up the pace, we spend time in the Word of God refilling ourselves with His truth, yet we may find ourselves running on spiritual empty over the summer when our guard is down and our routine Bible study is on hiatus. This is something we have to be prepared to handle.

    In Psalm 63:1, David writes of how his soul thirsts for God and longs for him as in a dry and weary land. Just as we stock up on bottled water and sunblock for all of those fun hours in the sun, we need to make sure we keep our soul hydrated routinely and anoint it with the oil of prayer and time in the Word of God.
     
    When prepping for vacation this summer, don’t forget to prep the soul! Throw in a devotional book, inspirational novel, or a daily reading of the Word along with the other essentials. Jesus says that “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). Now that's refreshing!

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Freedom

    Dwelling on the 4th of July weekend brought many thoughts to mind about our freedom as a country, as American citizens, and as individuals in Christ. The first thoughts that came to mind were of America's freedom and the price it cost hundreds of thousands of soldiers from all military branches, all ages, race, and sex. Freedom, as they say, is not free. Sure, maybe it is for us but that's because we're reaping the benefits and blessings of a generation before us that gave their lives for that freedom. What are we doing now for the generations of tomorrow?

    "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1).

    Galatians 5:1 reminds us that the first act of sacrifice in exchange for freedom was demonstrated by Jesus Christ. He chose to give His sinless life as a sacrifice on the cross so that we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Him. It is Christ that commands that we lay down our lives and make sacrifices for those we love. It is His example and His commands that make up the foundation of America and the principles used by our Founding Fathers to establish this Nation.

    Notice the last part of Galatians 5:1, which states "stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." It's an outright cry that we not allow ourselves, individuals who have been set free in Christ, to be sucked back into the guilt and burdens of our sin believing that all freedom and hope is lost. Christ paid the price, don't refuse it, stand up for it. The same can be said for the freedom we have as Americans. Men and women have fought to set us free, so why are we letting ourselves be talked right out of our freedoms?

    The 4th of July is a time to celebrate the freedom we have and honor those who died protecting such a freedom. Let it also be a reminder of the ultimate freedom we have received in Christ. Above all, let it be a reminder that we are in fact free, but it is not free, it was bought with a price and will continue to require such sacrifice. Are we willing to stand firm?

    Sunday, July 4, 2010

    Umbrellas of Life

    It's a rainy day here in not so sunny Florida. Just moments ago my dog Dakota and I were out in the downpour. It was only sprinkling when I suggested a quick walk. Naturally, by the time we got outside the sprinkling turned into a light mist, which eventually became a steady rain.

    There was no sign of lightning and no sounds of thunder, so I took out my umbrella and off we went. Cars drove by and passengers stared, probably wondering what in the world we were doing. Dakota was soaked, but trotting along happy to play in the rain. I held tightly to the umbrella and continued walking in the downpour amazed at the way the umbrella kept me dry.

    In life, God makes sure we have access to a variety of umbrellas to protect us from the world around us. Before we were born, Jesus gave His life for us providing us with a covering of forgiveness, salvation, and life everlasting. When we entered this world, our parents became a field of protection teaching us right from wrong. Growing up, friends came alongside us forming a buffer between us and the distractions of the world. Even now, friends and family continue to cover us in prayer.

    Hebrews 12:1 reminds us, "since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1)

    We are not alone on this journey. God has graciously provided us with numerous umbrellas and "cloud of witnesses" to encourage, and support us along the way! Let us be strong in the Lord and run the race He has given us in life.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Weather Forecast

    Taking a Saturday off for a day to rest, relax, and just flip around the television, I stumbled across several commercials pushing a variety of newscasts boasting the best weather forecasts. I guess the amount of commercials relating to the weather comes with the territory of living in a hurricane prone area. The competition, apparently, is tough. Every news station wants to have the best meteorologists and the most up to date weather information available. One station even went so far as to say that the directions for the day, details, instructions, and preparations that people crave before stepping out the door can all be met through the forecast given by their meteorologists.

    When I heard that, I asked myself, "Wow, am I really listening to a commercial for the weather?" I mean, that is exactly what we all need to start our day, but we don't need to tune into the weather, we need to tune into God! Taking a moment to view the weather each day is not a big deal, but hearing a commercial portray that their weather report can fulfill a person’s needs to get through the day is pretty sad.

    We all crave daily instructions on how to navigate through life, but we need to make sure our day starts not with man’s answers, but with God’s. He provides all the information we need to get through the day and only the day before us. There’s no need for a seven day forecast. He knows what we need and He’s already working on our behalf. All He asks of us is to focus on Him and the new day He has given us. When we wake up tomorrow, let’s remember to reach for the Word and not the remote. The weather forecast, since it’s apparently broadcast every ten minutes, will be there later!

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Acceptance with Joy

    John 15:10-11, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

    There has been a lot of acceptance going around in the devotionals and scripture passages I've been studying lately. I've also started reading a book called Hinds' Feet on High Places, which talks quite a bit about acceptance particularly acceptance with joy.

    In a recent devotional, we learned of accepting God's will for loss or gain. (If you didn't get a chance to read it, just click here to check it out!) Despite how we feel at any given time, God knows what's best and He will never send us in the wrong direction or lead us to a place that we cannot handle in His strength. By the end of the devotional, we realized that we must let go, let God be in control, and accept His perfect will without question.

    This week, I learned we have to take acceptance a step further by choosing to accept God's will with a servant's heart and an attitude of joy. It's not enough to grit our teeth and say, "Fine, God, you're right, I'm wrong, so get on with it." Instead we need to confess our lack of faith, ask the Holy Spirit to build us up in trust, and relinquish our will and attitude to the Father. It's not easy that's for sure. So many times we fight against the path God has laid out for us arguing that there must be some other way. We take a look at the path and its twists and turns down the road and start backing away. Thankfully, the Lord doesn't give up and we eventually give in and head down the path soon realizing that it's not near as bad as we thought it would be. We reach the end of the journey with an overwhelming joy; a joy we should have carried with us throughout the entire trip. Just imagine how much more we can be used by God to accomplish great things along life's path when we choose to practice an attitude of acceptance with joy.

    Step up to the challenge this week and the weeks to come. When God asks us to do something, let's start with an attitude of prayer giving all doubts, fears, and negativity to God. Let's ask the Holy Spirit to release His fruit within our life enabling us to choose joy despite the circumstances. Acceptance with joy; what a combination!

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Acceptance

    Faced with the death of her dear friend and ministry partner Ponnammal, missionary Amy Carmichael wrote the following:

    "It is not by giving us back what He has taken that our Lord teaches us His deepest lessons, but by patiently waiting beside us till we can say: I accept the will of my God as good and acceptable and perfect, for loss or for gain."  --Amy Carmichael, Gold Cord

    Amy wrote these words in dealing with loss, yet they ring true for so many different situations in life. I had originally written thoughts and a devotional relating to this excerpt a couple of weeks ago, but today all of it was deleted by mistake. I am upset, but I realized it was a test in the very topic of acceptance. I don't feel like writing down everything again, but I must trust that God's will is perfect and that He must have something else He would like me to write instead. So, here goes...

    Acceptance is hard. When things happen that we can't control, we want to stop time and start again. We ask why and we question the reasoning behind it; which in essence is questioning God. We refuse to accept because acceptance means to acknowledge that the situation did occur and our lives will never be the same again. What we don't realize is that our refusal to accept is also our refusal to move on. We plant our feet firm in the in between where, in our minds, time stands still refusing to move forward or backward.

    "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)
     
    "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." (Jeremiah 29:11)

    Acceptance starts with thankfulness and trust. Thankfulness for God's provision in the past and trust in His continued provision in the present and into the future. God's plan are greater than ours and if He is making changes in our life then He must have a purpose for it. When this happens, we need to trust Him and walk in full availability and flexibility along the altered path He's given. Whether we believe it or not, His way is best.

    "To accept the will of God never leads to the miserable feeling that it is useless to strive anymore...He asks us to cooperate with Him, actively willing what He wills, our only aim His glory. To accept in this sense is to come with all the desire of the mind unto the place which the Lord shall choose, and to minister in the name of the Lord there..." --Amy Carmichael, Gold by Moonlight

    Accepting God's will and moving on in Him, although difficult, never causes regrets or the endless questions of "what if?" Coming to peace with God's instructions and humbling ourselves before Him frees us to move forward in Him and with Him. Moving forward after losing my article was a lot easier than I thought. The new writing shared here is a lot deeper than what was first written. In fact, I have learned more myself. Just the same, moving on after the death of a loved one or other situations opens up opportunities that would not have been possible if events had not happened the way God intended. Acceptance is a huge step to take, but remember, we are not taking it alone. The moment we accept the will of the Father, He reaches out for our hand and says, "OK then, let's move on."

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    The Reality of Reality Television

    Reality television has been the "hot topic" in television for years now. Most reality shows center around a celebrity's life or involve a competition to create the next  model, dancer, singer, designer, chef, etc. They give audiences a look into the lives of others and motivate us to cheer them on or brush them off. But there's a new type of reality television that's growing rapidly. It's reality programming that follows the life of addicts, hoarders, criminals, and many more. This is a type of television that needs to knock the reality of what's going on in the world around us back to the front of our thoughts and prayer life.

    Flipping through television channels, I came across several new reality shows highlighting the pain, suffering, bondage, and sense of hopelessness among hundreds of people across the Nation. It broke my heart. My own life has has had times of darkness and depression followed by counseling and healing. I knew what I went through was not even the tip of the iceberg of problems people face, but what I saw on television blew my mind away. Even my time working in the homeless shelter and pregnancy center didn't prepare me for the stories heard and seen on the television. A verse in Matthew came to mind after recently watching one of these shows.

    Matthew 9:36, "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd."

    Jesus looked out into the crowds and saw a people in need of a Savior; sheep in need of a shepherd. His disciples, like you and I, most likely saw people of different shapes, sizes, colors, sexes. Jesus saw inside the heart and minds of the people and saw addicts, murders, thieves, adulterers, and prostitutes. He saw the reality and He was moved with compassion to reach out and help.

    It's difficult to watch shows like these, but they are important reminders to be in prayer for others. Jesus was moved with compassion and so should we. We are called to love one another and pray for one another. It's often very easy for us to do this with the people that are in our immediate circle and even more so if someone in that circle is suffering with an addition. For those we don't know, they are literally out of sight and out of mind, but they are the ones who often need it most.

    The next time we flip through shows like "Addicted" on Discovery Health or "Hoarders" on TLC and A&E, let's take some time to watch and learn what these individuals are going through and spend some time in prayer for them. They need are our help and even though we may not be physically able to help in person, we can be in prayer for them and donate/volunteer to ministries and community agencies that can provide for their physical and spiritual needs. Let's show some compassion.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Quietness

    It's been several days since I've posted on this blog. The days have been quiet in my writing mind, but most definitely not quiet in life. Life continues on whether we're ready for it or not, but praise God for never sending us things we cannot handle or sending us in the wrong direction. The past several days have been spent with family, with friends, and in times of prayer and reading the Bible, Jesus Calling, Learning of God, and other daily readings. It's been a time of refilling my mind with God's Word and listening to His voice in the midst of an unpredictable and often chaotic world.

    A friend of mine once made the comment that "life just happens." She was right. Life does just happen, but not even the smallest of events in life happens without God. Whether we are believers or not, God is involved in our life. He is here waiting for us to turn to Him. He is here waiting for us to call out to Him. Life's trials and hardships become overwhelming when we forget that we are not alone and that God is here to help us.

    Many excerpts in the devotionals I've been reading have been about focusing on God and being still before Him. I put this to the test the other day when a million things seemed to be revolving out of control all around me. I stayed home from church, sat down for quiet time, and tried to focus on God and God alone. I found my mind wandering numerous times, but instead of staying in "wander"land, I asked God for help. He filled my mind with praises and songs from my childhood Sunday School classes. It was great. I realized that appointments for later in the day, things I had to do in a couple of days, all of it - it didn't matter. The now time was time with God and complete focus on Him gave me a relaxing, restful peace.  

    As a result of allowing God to rule the day many things were revealed to me about decisions that needed to be made and paths that needed to be taken over the next couple of days. I'm not going to say the peace didn't wear off when I was back in the here and now of every day life, but my relationship with the Father was stronger and I didn't panic when the unknown came my way.

    I'm a work in progress and learning to be still before God and at peace with Him, through Him, and for Him is a long process. Praise God for His patience and praise for His hand holding comfort. Life just happens. It's pretty crazy, but it's not out of control. Life is in the hands of God and when we leave it there and accept the days He gives us one at a time, we learn to enjoy them in the fullness of His joy so much more!

    Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

    Isaiah 41:13, "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    Squirrels

    There are a lot of squirrels scurrying across the road near my home. The crazy things just dart out in front of a moving vehicle without thinking. I'm sure if I need a brake job, it will be because of the squirrels! I know, sometimes it's safer to keep going then to give your passenger whip lash for the sake of a small squirrel. But trust me, when you've accidentally hit one and heard the big thud and felt the bump through the steering wheel, you'll brake for squirrels too!

    I've actually learned a few things from these peculiar little creatures. The main lesson: Don't Turn Back! Most accidents involving squirrels occur because the poor little things run across the road and instead of making it safely to the other side, they get scared and turn around to run back never realizing there's not enough time. It's so sad and foolish on their part. I've seen them on the opposite curb safe from the oncoming vehicle and then for no reason just turn around and run back into the road. They never should have second guessed themselves.

    I don't know about you, but I do that a lot in my own life. I second guess my instincts and turn around only to find myself in worse trouble than I started with. When we seek the Lord's will and listen for His voice, we need to commit to following Him and never look back despite the criticism and rejections coming at us. When God says move, we move. When He says stop, we stop. We can trust Him to lead us forward. If He says don't look back, then we better push forward and not look back.

    "As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away...But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt" (Genesis 19:16 & 26).

    Looking back has consequences. Dwelling on the past instead of moving forward into the future causes us to miss out on what the Lord has in store for us. Philippians 3:13-14 says, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Don't look back!

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    A Lesson from Super Nintendo...LOL

    OK, put on your game hat and travel with me to the time of Super Nintendo! I know that's a strange request, but I need you to remember the days of Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country :) These were my two favorite games to play growing up (well in high school...lol). My favorites mostly because I could actually play the entire game, beat each level, and conquer the final chapter over and over!

    Back to the point, in each of these games there are parts where you have to play in the dark. The screen actually goes dark and although you can still hear the music and the sounds of approaching enemies, you can't see anything save for the small light around your character. These used to be the most difficult stages especially in Donkey Kong Country where you had to shoot Donkey Kong from one barrel to the next without actually being able to see where the next barrel was. It was always a relief to get through these sections of the board and find a way back to the fullness of light. Yes it was just a game, but those were some tense moments!

    What triggered this trip down memory lane? Well, this morning's quiet time with God. The reading for May 18 from Sarah Young's Jesus Calling speaks of following God completely and trusting Him to lead the way throughout the day. "Do not blindly follow your habitual route, or you will miss what I have prepared for you" (p. 145). When we try and walk our own path, we place blinders on ourselves and allow for no outside interference as we travel. We think we have everything planned out perfectly and we just march ahead not realizing all of the opportunities we are passing by. However, when we allow God to lead, He removes the blinders and opens up a world of service and adventure to us.

    It's kind of like the video games described above. When we think we can do it ourselves, we're causing our entire world to be darkened out, save for the little light we have shining in front of us. Sure we can make it through the day, but we're missing out on a lot! When we give our day to the Lord and allow Him to lead, He fills our path with His fullness and light. Everything is lit up and we can see clearly the paths leading to danger and the paths leading to abundant joy! When we allow ourselves to see the world around us as God sees it, we realize our path is vast and the opportunities are numerous. How much greater a journey when He is leading!

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    We're not the only ones...

    OK, so I'm a huge fan of Diner Dash! It's one of my favorite ways to just chill out and get my mind off of everything going on around me. It's a mind boggling "time management" game that can really drive me crazy. In order to win, you have to get faster and faster at seating guests, serving food, drinks, and keeping everyone super happy. When I go out to restaurants and see how slow the service is, I think to myself, "Obviously this team of servers has not been trained on Diner Dash!" LOL.

    I've been stuck on level 10 of the Pharaoh's Feast for I don't know how long. I was so fed up with it that I stopped playing the game altogether. But then today I decided to check out message boards and see if anyone else was or is having the same trouble. Sure enough there were messages across the Internet asking for help followed by posts on just what to do. Within 45 minutes I had finally passed the level!

    A lot of times when I'm having computer trouble or need some cheat codes for a video game (lol), I'll go online and check out the message boards on Google, Yahoo! or whatever. There are so many people out there that surely I cannot be the only one having trouble. As of today I have yet to find an answer when searching through the message boards.

    There's a life lesson in this, of course :)  Our Father God has given us His message board, the Holy Bible, to flip through whenever we're having trouble, need a pick me up, want to cry, laugh, praise His name, etc. Hundreds of people back in Bible times have experienced the same situations we have. OK, so the setting and time frame is completely different, but more often than not the circumstances, the human emotions, relations, and attitudes are just the same. If we flip through this Holy message board then we're going to find a solution to what's bothering us. Again, I have yet to look through the Word of God and not find the answers!

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Watch Out For The Enemy Of Self

    It's so easy to get caught up in self when everything around us is practically screaming at us to take care of ourselves first and do all for the glory of self. The Bible, however, plainly tells how to do all to the glory of God and seek His Kingdom first and not ourselves (I Corinthians 10:31, Matthew 6:33). It seems that just when things start moving forward, I trip over my own two feet and fall several steps back. Things are going great and I get too sure of myself. I lose focus and before long the enemy has crept into my thoughts convincing me that I need to change because I'll never be smart enough, thin enough, confident enough, and on and on he goes. This happened recently. (OK, it happens a lot, but it's an ongoing battle I'm determined by the grace of God not to lose!) I was all psyched about getting ready for an upcoming mission trip (another story for another day) and all the sudden things started to fall through. I should've realized the enemy would be on the attack as soon as I said yes to go on the trip, but I was caught off guard and I began to doubt. Thankfully the Lord used the blog of a 21 year old girl serving in Uganda to remind me what going and serving is all about. It was a good "kick int he pants" kind of reminder that got my eyes off of me and back on Christ. Surprisingly enough tonight's devotional reading was about being prepared for the attacks of the enemy. The writer listed three things we need to do to be ready. 1.) We need to know our enemy; read God's Word, learn about the ways of the enemy and be ready to attack. 2.) We need to recognize our own areas of weakness and be in prayer for strength to overcome and move past them. If we fail to recognize these areas the enemy will attack there first and will tear us apart! 3.) We need to know what our weapons are. We are in a spiritual warfare and ordinary weapons are not going to save us. We need the Word of God; we need to put on His armor (Ephesians 6:10-18)! Lord, I'm praying for strength to stand against the attacks of the enemy. I'm praising you for opening my eyes to this battle and pushing me forward through the words of a young girl. Be with each of us as we read and work to carry out these lessons from You. In Jesus Name, Amen