Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Feel So Much Better Now

I just love it when I attend a service and leave all stirred up meditating and reflecting on the message that was preached. Today's message preached by Dr. Mary Chapman, the director of EPPOM Ministries was entitled "Get Rid Of The Weight". When she announced the title of the sermon I knew that it was a custom made message from the Lord just for me. Today's post is inspired by the Lord leading me to share my personal reflections on the message preached today.

God has a way of getting our attention and confirming what He has already told us. My prayer this morning was "Lord, help me to truly give it all to you and leave it there." Then, the message at the service today was "Get Rid Of The Weight". This was no coincidence. You see, for a while I had been holding onto some unnecessary weights. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why I felt so drained and was having such a hard time making my way to the next level but it became clear to me this afternoon that I was having such a difficult time moving forward because I had so many things weighing me down and slowing down my progress. The devil IS a liar. I will go forth in Jesus' name!

It's really easy for us to tell other people to "let go and let God" or to "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord" but sometimes we get so caught up in everything going on around us and trying to remedy every problem that we forget to take heed to our own advice. I wasn't able to hear the entire message but I believe the Lord blessed me to hear just enough to cause me to examine myself and make some necessary changes. The Word of God should take residence in our spirits and cause us to want to make some changes.

We cannot effectively lift one another up in prayer or in any other capacity if we ourselves are heavy ladened and burdened but thanks be to God that Jesus came to give us rest Matthew 11:28.

As I listened to the message I thought about all the many new directions I had been being pulled in. I have my family concerns, ministry concerns and business to handle with the books I have been writing. I had friends with problems, relatives with problems and siblings that insist on having destination weddings every few months. In all of this, I began to spend an excessive amount of time trying to figure out how I was going to be everywhere and everything for everyone that I forgot that all I needed to do was to focus on my primary role as a Child Of God and allow God to take care of the rest. I was so engulfed with trying to get things done that I forgot to simply surrender and say "Thy will be done".

I had so many places to be at one time and so many responsibilities to take care of that I felt there just weren't enough hours in a day. Imagine that: me thinking that God had not created enough hours in a day when He told us that He would supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory - "all" means that He has even given me ample time to take care of everything that I needed to take care of. Perhaps I should have changed my prayer long ago from asking God to give me more time or more resources to teach me to be a better steward over that which He has already given me. God is not going to add increase when we aren't properly managing what He has already given us (See Matthew 25:21).

(Some of us are quick to quote that scripture when we are thinking of material or monetary needs but what about time and patience? "All" means everything.)

The whole point was that some of the things that "I needed" to take care of were not really things that I "needed" to take care of. We have responsibilities here on earth but we also have a responsibility to heed the advice we are given in the 12Th chapter of the book of Hebrews which reads: "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," (see Hebrews 12:1-2).

It is a sin to worry. When we worry, we are in essence lacking the faith that God is who He said that He is. God is The Great "I AM". The bible tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). So not only was I weighed down with all the many cares of the world but I was also sinning by worrying because God doesn't want me to worry but to believe and seek Him in everything as He is a rewarder to those the diligently seek after Him.

The preacher was definitely hitting close to home as she ministered. And you know what? It is well with my soul. I thank God that she was obedient to the voice of the Lord and preached Get Rid Of The Weight from Hebrews 12:1-2 because I was liberated by the message. I already knew that God had the situation under control but me being the oldest child and a mother, I tend to try to "make things" happen and I can't always do that. I came to the realization that I could not continue to profess with my mouth that it was all in God's hands and in my mind still try to makes plans and preparations. After all works without faith is dead.

So whatever you may be going through emotionally, financially or mentally that seems like it's too much to bear - let it go. I have and it sure feels good. Maybe you've tried to let it go but you just can't seem to truly hand it all over to the Lord, I'll agree with you in prayer right now that the un-forgiveness, stress, worry, doubt, fear, etc. are all gone in Jesus' name. If you don't feel comfortable with a public post, you can also e-mail me at shanitawaters@waterplantgrowth.com.

If this post had an audio clip, I would probably be singing the old hymn " I feel better so much much better as I lay my burdens down..."

So as I close this post but never my prayers for you remember that it is not the will of the father for us to have overwhelming and stressful lives but that we may have life and have it more abundantly.


Shanita Waters
By His Stripes We Are Healed, Author
Now offering Manuscript Typing Services

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Tell Me Your Business So I Can Pray For You"

“I need to get up in your business so that I will know what to pray about”. This was one of the most disturbing statements I’ve ever heard a minister of the gospel stand up and make before a congregation (and I’ve heard my share of disturbing comments in church). Needless to say, I didn’t share my prayer requests with him but instead I began to pray for him and those that believed what he said to be true. During the following service, this minister preached about some of the things he learned when the members shared their prayer requests. Through this and experiences like it, I’ve come to learn the hard way that you can’t share everything with every body – not even your minister. There are some things that we have to go to God directly about for ourselves.

As Christians we are able enter into the presence of God and commune with Him on our own behalf (Hebrews 10:19-22) . Although it is a blessing to have other Christians willing to pray for us and with us, we must remember to pray for ourselves. In the Old Testament, we needed someone to offer sacrifices go to God on our behalf but now we have free access to boldly approach God because we are cleansed through the blood Jesus shed for us. Not only are we able to go to God whenever and wherever we want to, but the Holy Spirit is constantly praying on our behalf for all of our needs - even those that we don’t even realize that we have (Romans 8:26). Unfortunately, many Christians forget this when a problem arises. At times of weakness they turn to man instead of God for direction. God does not want us to rely on our own reasoning or the reasoning of others. He wants us to seek Him first in everything and He will give us instruction (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Perhaps the problem is that we don’t want to wait for instruction. We live in an era where everything is instant. We have computers everywhere and I believe that we sometimes forget that God is not a computer. We think we can input the problem and within seconds, He will output the solution. Sometimes God will answer us immediately. Other times God wants us to be still and know that He is God. Sometimes God wants us to go through some tests so that He can bring us out with a testimony that he may be glorified. When we don’t get instant answers, some of us have a tendency of thinking that maybe someone else can pray a prayer or get their prayer through more quickly so we end up petitioning everyone else to petition God on our behalf when all we needed to do was ask in faith and wait on God in the first place. Then after we share everything with everyone, we’re hurt when people mask their nosiness as concern and delve into our personal lives. That’s what happened in the congregation after the minister told the people that he needed to get in their business so that he would know what to pray about instead of praying that God’s will would be done or praying as he was led by the Spirit of God.

Some people believe that because a man or woman of God may have a title or stand in a certain office in the church that God will answer their prayers more quickly than their own. In turn, they end up feeding people (like the minister I mentioned earlier) some of their inner-most problems and concerns. Some Christians cannot resist the temptation to share information that you may consider to be sacred. God is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t matter if you are a bishop or a lay member – you can go to God for yourself.

Now, I’m not saying that there is something wrong with having prayer partners or prayer groups. Nor do I believe that all ministers are like the minister that obviously just wanted to know what was going on so that he would have a timely sermon topic. But beware, watch as well as pray because there are people like this out there. Jesus said that we are to pray one for another. He also said that when two or three gathers in His name that He is in the midst (Matthew 18:20). However, if upon evaluation of the time you spend in prayer you realize that the majority the time you spend praying is with a prayer partner or in corporate prayer, please consider spending some one on one time with the Lord where you are unrestricted and can freely talk to Him. Remember prayer is two-way communication with God. He will listen to you but He wants to speak to you as well.

How do you feel about publicly stating your prayer concerns publically? Do you “tell all” or are you like me and keep it real simple with statements like “pray my strength in the Lord” to avoid disclosing personal information? Have you ever had you prayer concern spread throughout your fellowship? Let me know. I’d like to hear from you.

Shanita Waters
By His Stripes We Are Healed, Author
Now offering Book Tying Services

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Get Out Of The Way And Follow The Way

Gospel recording artist, Yolanda Adams makes some of the most meaningful, beautiful, popular Contemporary Christian music around today. My personal favorite is the song entitled Step Aside. The whole idea of the song is that God has everything under control and instead of us interfering; we should simply "step aside" and allow God to work everything out in His time in His way.

It’s really easy for me to listen to the lyrics as they minister to my sprit. I even enjoy singing along. However, when it’s time to apply the lyrics and principles Ms. Adams sings about it’s not always so simple and enjoyable anymore. If you are anything like me, you like to plan ahead. You pray and hope for the best but there’s that small part inside of you that wants to prepare for the worst. You know what God said and what He is able to do but at times you find yourself drafting up a contingency plan just in case God does not answer your prayer as you see fit. This is not the will of the Father. God wants us to fully rely on Him and trust that He knows what’s best for us. His plans for us are good and not of evil.

As I read and meditated on Psalm 46, the very first verse spoke to my spirit. It reads: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (NIV). What does this mean? He is our refuge; our safe place. We can hide ourselves in Him and no one or nothing can touch us. No words can harm us. No ill thoughts can concern us - not even those of our own. Every lie and every scheme that the enemy has concocted will never prosper because God protects us. He is our refuge.

He is our strength. Everything that we are not mentally, physically, emotionally or even financially able to handle – He will handle it for us. All we have to do is step aside and be shielded and protected. This fight is not our fight. We don’t know the enemy’s next move but God does. God is omniscient; He sees all and knows all. Why would we go into a battle blindly that was won over 2000 years ago when we are already victorious in Christ Jesus?

He is an ever-present help in trouble. Because He is an ever-present help that means that there is no reason to worry about how we are going to handle this situation or that situation because we are not it alone. God is with us. And if God is for us, who could be against us? Not only is He with us but He is an “ever-present” help. That means that He won’t run out when the going gets tough. He won’t be there one minute and gone the next. He is in it for the long haul. Whether we want His help or not- He is there.

But why wouldn’t we want His help? That’s easy; we as people like to take matters into our own hands. When we don’t acknowledge God first and wait for His instruction, we end up getting in the way instead of following The Way and interfering with God’s way. Then it takes longer for our change to come because God has to fix the mess we created before He is able to fix the original problem.

As the songwriter says, "while we’re sitting there trying to figure it out Jesus has already worked it out". Jesus is the way the truth and the life. So we need to get out of the way, step aside and follow The Way.

Shanita Waters
Author of By His Stripes We Are Healed
visit my site www.waterplantgrowth.com
Now offering typist/transcription services

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lord, Don't Let Me Go!

Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel:"I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, 'You shall not cross the Jordan.' The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said. 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 31:1-3,8)

Can you imagine working on your job for 40 years and suddenly one day being let go for something you done wrong years ago? Can you imagine working hard, serving and sacrificing your self for others only to learn that while everyone else is moving on to the next level that you will not be able to go and partake in the joy with them? How would you feel if after starting a great work or ministry for the Kingdom of God you weren't able to reap the blessings of all of the hard worked you sowed?

Well, this is what happened to Moses. God used Moses to speak to Pharaoh and instruct him to let His people go. He used Moses as the messenger, a judge and a prophet. Moses was also used to deliver the 10 commandments to the Children of Israel and was even appointed to be the leader through the wilderness for 40 years. However because of Moses' disobedience, he was not allowed to cross over into the Land of Canaan. Moses had to pass the torch on to Joshua to carry out the assignment that was originally his and help prepare Joshua for his new assignment. Moses had to do all of this knowing that it was soon time for him to die. Not only did Moses prepare Joshua to posses the Land as the Lord instructed him to, he also encouraged Him in the Lord.

For a lot of us, that would be a difficult task to accept. Some of us may have questioned God, told Him that it wasn't fair and maybe not even wanted to help Joshua feeling that it was our "rightful position" to be the first one into the Promised Land after all the serving we did. But not Moses. Moses understood that although God forgave him, there were still lasting consequences to his actions. (See Numbers Chapter 20)

As believers we must learn to follow the Word of God to the "T", He has given us clear instructions in the 66 books of the bible and through His Holy Spirit which lives in us. When we disobey God, we are in essence telling Him that our way is better. We must move how God tells us to move and when God says to move. Delayed obedience is still disobedience.

So as we seek the Lord and meditate on His Word, let's examine ourselves. We want to be in position and on task. We do not want to labor for the Lord only to find out that we are doing the right thing but the wrong way or in the wrong place.

Shanita Waters
Author of By His Stripes We Are Healed
visit my site www.waterplantgrowth.com
Now offering typist/transcription services

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm Forgiven, Does That Mean I'm Exempt?

A lot of people seem to think that once we've dedicated our lives to the Lord and started to follow Christ that all is forgiven and the past is magically erased and we are excused from everything we did in our past lives and it's repercussions. It's true that God forgives us and casts our sins into the sea never to bring them up again. However, we still must face the consequences for our actions.

Yesterday my husband and I were sitting in the living room watching TV. We were babysitting for a close friend of ours . Our friend is a Christian and attends church on the regular basis. She brings her son with her during the weekday services as well. Anyway, out of nowhere the child knelt down and began to imitate Muslim prayer. Immediately, we stopped him and told him not to do that knowing that his mother was raising him as a Christian. I thought about it later and questioned whether or not we were out of place for stopping the boy (age 5) from praying but that's another post for another time.

I called his mother and told her what happened and how we responded. She thanked us for stopping him and told us that her ex husband is a Muslim. Since the divorce they had been both trying to teach their son to worship God. The only problem was that our friend serves Jesus Christ, the true and living God. Her ex husband is not a believer.

Later on that evening when our friend came to pick her son up, she explained that she had always been a Christian and was warned many times that she shouldn't marry a man of a different faith because it would cause problems down the line when trying to raise their children. She decided to marry the man regardless of what the bible said, God said, her pastor said and everyone else that cared for her said. Now she has to fight daily to teach her son the truth when he is constantly subjected to Muslim worship when he goes to visit his father on the weekend. Our friend is no longer married to her husband and is forgiven by the Lord for making this ungodly decision and union but she still has to carry this cross of fighting for her son's soul salvation. Not to mention the father has weekend visitation so the boy isn't able to go to Sunday service.

Our friend has remarried since her divorce and had two other children who are being raised in the admiration of the Lord. Her new husband is afraid that her son will be a negative influence on the other children and is very adamant about his wife telling her ex husband to stop teaching the boy his religious beliefs. (This is another post for another time) But the mother really cannot expect to infringe upon someone else's religious beliefs and rights with their child.

This story is just one illustration of how our forgiveness doesn't equal exemption. Are you (or anyone you know) still paying for some sin you've committed from your past that seems to be a huge thorn in your flesh that won't go away? If so, how are you handling it and what advice would you offer others with the same battle?

(By the way, my friend has given me permission to post this story.)

Shanita Waters
Author of By His Stripes We Are Healed
visit my site www.waterplantgrowth.comNow offering typist/transcription services