unSTUCK

I can’t express enough how thankful I was for the year 2018. I was at a stand-still. I felt so stuck. God brought me back to a place I convinced myself that I escaped forever. At 28 years old, I was pushed to confront the little girl within me that was still raging for justice for the hurt I experienced growing up. I experienced a childhood I needed to heal from. I sobbed my heart out and embraced that little girl. I had to be where I was for her to be healed. She was stuck. I was still waiting for God to defend me and proved my anger over the years was justified. It was that I was lost, rebellious and reckless. Some things were done and said to me when no one was watching. People barely paid attention when my hurt was expressed in anger. When I messed up and could not seem to merely get it right. I hugged her and told her she was free; she was loved, she was enough. She has always been enough. God had vindicated me. It wasn’t how and when I thought he would, but I am blessed AND HIGHLY FAVORED. I regained freedom in forgiveness. It was a moment of brokenness for me. I was thankful for another altar build where I could rely on God with that fearful part of me. 

It was a season of growth, pruning and character building for me.

At the time I could only describe it as “feeling stuck.”

I wasn’t sure how to move forward or seek God about how I was feeling.  There were times when I felt insignificant, at times frustrated, and depressed even. I thought I had to learn how to cope, but God was showing me the root of my issues. It was always more painless to cope than to heal. Healing meant I needed to surrender that hurt little girl, I had to feel that main, and see how ugly that scar was. I realized God fought for me already AND WON! There was no need for me to continue to defend myself. I no longer desired to fight that same old battle. I could not answer destiny’s call hauling her along hidden in the shadows. I know the direction God is pulling me in, but I felt STUCK! I felt like I was in a position where I was incapable to move. I couldn’t go forward. I certainly had no desires to go backward. I wanted to get away from where I was, but I was unable to.

I had to deal with the unpleasant things I was unable to change or get away from. 

I was progressing and changing but I still felt stuck, not at the same level or stage I started the year with but by the things I could no longer run from. It was challenging to achieve the things I wanted to do, formerly did, or even had planned to do. I was frustrated. I didn’t know how or when I would ever move on from where I was. I wanted to implore God, why here of all places? I felt desolate. I realized God was at work, doing something more extraordinary and bigger than myself. God wanted to spend more time with me. He was dealing with me. The instruments he used didn’t matter if they brought out a change in me. It was time for me to grow.  Whatever made me uncomfortable was what I needed to get closer and deeper in Him. What will you sacrifice to see yourself the way God perceives you? 

God trained me to be empowered and equipped for the task at hand. He prompted me to draw strength and encouragement from Him through His Word, and during my prayer time. 

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and beforethou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11 

I faced many unpredicted battles, roadblocks, setbacks, mountains, and giants along the way and I thought, how am I ever going to win? It’s supposed to be my undefeated season. God’s Word helped me realize it still was and will always be through Jesus. NO MATTER WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE!

God was my peace and my motivation. God encouraged me to see beyond my distractions and fears. 

In the end, I was able to say…

“…If God be for [me], who can be against [me]?” Romans 8:31

I am becoming who God destined for me to be. Speaking of “Becoming” I’m looking forward to reading Michelle Obama’s book.

Isaiah 43:2 speak to my entire life story,

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

Resistance represents a part of the journey. I thought I was just stuck and focused on everything I was not doing. I won battles that could only be fought alone in the presence of God. I rested in Him. When I felt insignificant, I rested. When I was vexed, I rested. When I couldn’t discern what to do, I rested. When I felt unaccomplished, I rested. When happiness felt far-fetched, I rested. When I was frustrated, I rested. By rest, I don’t mean sleep all day or do nothing. I mean I put in work when and where I could. I trusted God’s Word and His plan for me. I managed whatever time I had to prepare and planned for what’s henceforth. When I won, I rested. I rested because I recognized there will be other battles, but I rejoiced in him for every battle and minor victory I already won. This year I’m resting in knowing it is my season to soar like the eagle God says I am! 

My vision is direct. My goals are set. Faith without works is dead! 

An eagle will NEVER surrender to the size or strength of its prey. It will consistently put up a fight to win its prey or regain its territory. I told myself this and now I’m telling you, disregard what is behind you and be brave like an eagle. Fight to preserve what you love. Don’t devote another thought to the size of your enemy. King David didn’t. He completely trusted in God. He knew there was a cause. There will constantly be a cause. Put differently, identify your “why” and remember it. Fight for your vision. Be clear and focus on getting results. Grasp the bigger picture. Don’t complain about the storm, rise higher and SOAR ABOVE it. That’s what an eagle would do. An eagle flies into the storm and uses the wind of it to rise higher. Confront your challenges and when you feel tired implement the wind of them to rest and rise higher. Change. Grow. Learn something new. Defy the critics! You don’t possess time in your 24 hours. Make plans to soar higher!

We were created in the image and likeness of God. We ought to comprehend some things from that. Myles Munroe said it best, “God identifies himself with the eagle.” “If an eagle meets another bird at top flight, it has to be another eagle. They are the only birds that can fly at their altitude. If you keep running into pigeons, and ducks, and ‘tubaka’ doves you are flying excessively low. Eagles NEVER flock! You will exclusively discover them one at a time. What you think is more important than what you do.” Don’t let culture or traditions trap the God-given abilities you were born with. He also said, “convention makes no room for creativity. It doesn’t allow you to believe beyond the norm. The secret to anyone rising is what happens in their belief system.” Don’t limit yourself to failures, or other people’s perspective, believe who God says you are. The rest will be history!

SHIFT YOUR MINDSET AND SOAR!

Chosen Vessels

“God, I thank you that I am a chosen vessel!” -Cyvonne Davy

I thank God that I’m a chosen vessel. I was adopted and accepted by God. If you don’t know who He is, His name is JESUS. He picked me. He chose me. I was selected among several others by God. I’m a vessel for God’s Spirit and to carry out his purpose. I am validated in Him. I am who God says I am. For these reasons I am purpose driven. When you realize you were hand-picked by Christ you will not understand. This interview with founder and CEO of Chosen Vessels Apparel touched me, blessed me, and encouraged me! Faint Adams is beautiful, driven, funny, and a boss lady. She is one of the many hardworking women that I am glad to know and introduced to you through this interview. I learned a lot. Enough from me, let us get to why you’re here.

What is Chosen Vessels?

Chosen Vessels Apparel is a Christian Lifestyle brand that has a host of apparel such as t-shirts, hats, totes, etc. Chosen Vessels is a brand that can be worn by people of all ages. It is a brand that believes you can love God and be stylish through your apparel.

What do you believe and how has it influenced Chosen Vessels?

I believe that God gives everyone gifts and talents. It’s up to us, however, to cultivate them. Chosen Vessels is a “Christian” lifestyle brand and everything we put out is meant to make that statement. Whenever you see a CVA shirt, you will know that we strive to spread the love of God in everything we print. 

What was the first shirt you ever made? How do you feel about it now?

The first shirt I ever made was a shirt for Christmas when I was about 8 years old. It was something my mother and I would do for the holidays with her grand-kids and myself. I remember it like yesterday; making a shirt for my birthday using puffy paint and making a shirt for Father’s Day for my dad. Since my birthday typically falls in close proximity to Father’s Day, I would find joy in being able to create shirts for him as a gift. Going to Michael’s, Joann’s Fabric and Hobby Lobby always excited me and I can remember the feeling of purchasing hot glue guns, fabric and other crafting supplies. I never imagined that was God cultivating the gifts in me that would one day become my source of income. As far as the first Christian shirt, that was Acts 2:38. What inspired me was wanting to create a witnessing tool on my job.

How do you decide what to sell online or in retail?

Demographics play a huge role into deciding what to sell. Shirts that may be trendy and on high demand in one area, might not be so in another. For instance, in Michigan it begins to cool down around April. That is not the case in Florida. When customers are asking for hoodies there, it make sense to provide them for customers in cooler climates versus in retail in Florida where it is hot during that same time of the year. Additionally, some of our apparel does better in person via vendor opportunities than they do online. For this reason, we’ll take more of those items that we know need to be seen in person in order for the vision to be seen by consumers.

How do you decide what items to incorporate into a line?

Right now, we have about 25 shirt graphics/designs waiting to be released. The majority of our shirt designs come during a church sermon, while reading the bible, or from a thought that I am having. I have come to realize that just because you get an idea, does not necessarily mean that it needs to be released right then. You must truly be willing to figure out what it means for God’s people and when to release it. Ultimately Chosen Vessels is a ministry and we prepare our designs the same as any other minister would decide what sermon to deliver.

What is your strongest truth?

My strongest truth is that if it goes against what you believe and if it goes against God’s word, DON’T DO IT! The temporary reward or gratification may seem to be astounding and too hard to pass up, but if God has something for you, you’ll NEVER have to compromise your beliefs nor His word to receive it.

What are the best shoes to wear with a Chosen Vessels shirt?

That really depends on your style. Believe it or not, I am a sneaker-head, so I’ll match mine with a good pair of J’s. The beautiful thing about our shirts is the versatility. You can literally take the same shirt and pair it with sneakers one day, flip flops the next and then heels, a tulle skirt and a blazer the next. We love to see how our customers wear our shirts based off their own style and personality.

How much power does your customers have?

Hopefully they have that HOLY GHOST POWER!!!! LOL just kidding. I listen to their suggestions and watch the latest trends. There have been times when they’ve given us great suggestions that we incorporated into our designs. What I have found to be true though is that less is more, and you can’t please everyone. So, although we would love to take everything into consideration, we aren’t able to. We do love feedback! It helps us to see if we’ve grown, what we can improve and what their thoughts are concerning the brand.

What differentiates Chosen Vessels from competition?

Firstly, I want to bust a myth. People say if you’re so focused on yourself and your brand, you won’t have time to focus on the competition. I completely disagree. Paying attention to your competition can show you what NOT to do. The apparel business is a huge market and the “Christian” apparel business is huge. Most people and brands use “Christian” lightly and loosely. However, we strive to show in our brand that our God has a name, Jesus, and we’ll use that anytime we can. Like I said before, our shirts make statements and end up being great witnessing tools. For us, it’s not just about money, it’s genuinely about soul winning and witnessing. We love hearing how people have worn our shirts and had an opportunity opened up to talk about the scripture or the saying. Many times, friends have gotten baptized after discussing the shirt or strangers will approach people while working out and ask questions, which is what we want happening. This company literally started because the company we were working with told us we had to quit converting people; but that’s our goal. Witnessing can be hard for some people, so when we hear them say they have used our shirts as a conversation starter and gained the boldness they’ve been desiring, it makes everything worth it. We do what we do for the Kingdom of God, not for ourselves. You don’t have to compromise or collaborate with conflicting values/beliefs to be successful.

How committed are you?

I’m committed so much and love the brand so much that I sacrificed and left my job three months ago to run the business full time. We’re currently wrapping up a three-week summer tour. Our goal was to put the brand in front of as many people as possible.

Who can wear Chosen Vessels?

Anyone who loves God and loves being stylish can wear Chosen Vessels.

Tell us something about your background?

I will tell you something quirky about me: I am a very funny, easy going person BUT I hate being up front in the limelight. I am a behind the scenes person. However, this tour has stretched me outside of my comfort zone. I talked to people for as long as they wanted, but I got nervous the more people found out that I am the owner of the company.

How comfortable are you working with models to build your brand?

I am extremely comfortable working with models. Currently, Chosen Vessels utilizes a group of individuals who have been with the company for several years as models and brand ambassadors. We have used models in various social media posts, stories as well as brand/company videos and photographs.

14) What is the most difficult aspect of being an entrepreneur?

The most difficult aspect is being realistic and being a Saint. We’re not just entrepreneurs or “Christian” entrepreneurs. As a Saint, you might be asked to do things that are against what you believe. Learning how to say no was difficult but extremely necessary. Another difficulty is the fact that social media makes it look super easy, but they don’t see all the late nights and early mornings. Nor do they see the sacrifices. There are so many elements that go into it such as maintaining your spirituality, prayer life, putting each area of your life in its proper place. You MUST be a great manager of your time so that you have time for yourself, your family, and sticking to and maintaining your values despite what other companies may be doing. Many people think being an entrepreneur is simply owning a business. Starting a business is easy, sustaining and maintaining it is an entirely different thing. I’ve learned that you must give people the grace NOT to believe in you. Not everyone is a visionary and that is okay. They might not be equipped to handle your vision. Many entrepreneurs say you must be able keep going even when the excitement is no longer there. There are times where you might not get paid, but God always provides. Often He’ll send someone at the right time to offer an encouraging word that will help you see your “why” and keep going. Being an entrepreneur has increased my faith because it has taught me the true meaning of daily bread.

What should we look forward to from Chosen Vessels?

We just completed our first mini tour which is the kickoff to our brand expansion efforts. We’re also gearing up to launch our fall line in the next month or so.

I truly hope this encourages someone to keep going and continue pressing for their vision. I had my website up for an ENTIRE YEAR before I made my first online sale. NOW there are days where we’ll do 70-75 orders in one day. That aren’t itemized orders, they’re grouped orders. If we itemize them, it would come out to be much more. Entrepreneurship is NOT easy by any means, but it is SO worth it. No one will believe in your vision more than you.

Be sure to follow Faint Adams on Instagram (@ceofaint & @chosenvesselsinc) and Facebook. Subscribe via email for the latest changes, new releases, exclusive offers, sales and more. You don’t want to miss any of it. Chosen Vessels is looking forward to being in Tennessee this October and in California in November. Stay connected so you don’t miss the next tour to your city and state or one nearby.

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ChosenVesselsApparel.com

#HandPickedByChrist

Fruit NOT Fruits

We all love fruits, right? Some of us make sure we get our daily servings however we can. I know some of you would say you like some fruits but not all, and that is okay. While some of you are allergic to certain types of fruits. Can we all agree the vegetables’ crew can just have tomatoes? I love tomatoes by the way.

Are you familiar with THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT found in Galatians 5:22-23? I can safely say many of us are.

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

While I was doing some thinking my mind somehow ended up on fruits and the Fruit of the Spirit. This happens enough for me to know it’s God trying to teach me something. One thing I quickly realized was how often Galatians 5:22-23 is misquoted. Unlike the natural fruits that we love, like, or hate the Fruit of the Spirit is ONE WHOLE FRUIT. We cannot pick and choose which part of it we need the most. While a fruit is growing you need all parts of it. I noticed that a lot of times the 9 distinct parts listed by Paul are often treated or mentioned as 9 different fruits. Verse 22 says “FRUIT” which is singular and implies it is one whole fruit with 9 various parts or layers. Paul was intentional in say fruit instead of fruits.

Fruit: “the developed ovary of a seed plant with its contents and accessory parts”

This definition of a fruit suits Galatians 5:22-23. In verse 22 of chapter 5, Paul said “but the Fruit of The Spirit is…” so the Holy Spirit is that seed plant which develops the Fruit of the Spirit with its content and accessory parts. You can tell a tree by its fruit. Others should be able to tell who we are when we are filled with the Holy Ghost. Growth should be happening in our lives in 9 areas of the Fruit of the Spirit SIMULTANEOUSLY. As they are parts that make up the one fruit. Our fruit can either stem from the Holy Spirit or from the flesh. Anything that is stemmed from the flesh produces sin and death. “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death”, James 1:14-15.

The Fruit of the Spirit deals with our moral character. Only the Spirit of God can develop our moral character to be Christlike. Christlike moral character results from the qualities that the Fruit of the Spirit produces. We must be led by the Spirit and not by our flesh. The Fruit of the Spirit is not a checklist to see which one we have, like, or prefer more than the others. It’s certainly not something we can produce on our own. I am still learning and growing in ALL parts of the Fruit of the Spirit. I don’t believe it’s something we master then pat ourselves in the back for it. I think if we are living they will continue to grow and mature in us. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit! You must first and foremost be filled with the Holy Ghost to produce his fruit.

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Fruit takes time to grow. The Fruit of the Spirit takes time to grow. Not all parts of a fruit are noticeable at a glance. Sometimes we need to cut and peel parts to see what’s underneath and at the core of a fruit. While not all parts of a fruit are edible, all parts serve an important purpose. The Fruit of the Spirit will be evident in how we live and conduct ourselves throughout our day. Paul was purposeful in his usage of a fruit to describe the unity of moral character produced by the Spirit. The different layers are connected to make up the Fruit. It’s also not a coincidence the 9 different layers can be categorized into 3 major categories as they deal with 3 different aspects of moral character.

Love, Joy, Peace

These three are a direct result of a relationship with God. It’s not possible to have them apart from God. Everything follows love. I imagine love to be the layer that covers and protect all the others. It is the foundation for all the others. Joy builds up on love and peace follows.

Long-suffering, Gentleness, Goodness

These three are the manifestation of the first three layers. When we are filled with the love, joy, and peace of God we can demonstrate patient endurance, kindness, and being good to others. They are strengthened through tests and trials. It’s not possible to consistently manifest these things in our flesh. A sincere relationship with God will teach us these things. We will be able to express the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 and Jesus talked about in Matthew 22: 34-40 concerning the first and great commandment.

Faith, Meekness, Temperance

These three layers are seen when we face oppositions, challenges, and must make difficult choices. What we believe to be true determines the course of our actions. Learning to exercise self-control doesn’t happen overnight. We grow in faith and learn to be humble.

All these nine layers are the product of one fruit produced in us by the Holy Spirit. the fruit of the spirit cannot come from anything or anyone else other than the Holy Ghost. Love is the foundation of that fruit. We learn to love God through a relationship with him and through his love we learn to love others. This fulfills the law. Paul explained the fruit of the Spirit as a direct result of a Spirit-led life which fulfills the law and not work against it. the Fruit of the Spirit is made up of qualities that fulfill the law. Paul made it clear that with this Fruit we are not under the law (verse 23). There is no law against the Fruit of the Spirit! The Holy Spirit needs to be the primary influence of our minds and moral conduct.

We need all parts of the fruit of the Spirit. unlike the natural fruits, we eat it is all important and beneficial. We need them all equally not one part more than the other. My most favorite natural fruits are MANGOES! I love LOVE, Luuuuuuvvvvve mangoes. You can take a girl off the Island, but you can’t take the island out of her. I also love avocados, strawberries, green apples, and a few other island fruits. The Lord created bananas for his monkeys, let us let them have bananas. You will not convince me otherwise. While I can pick and choose which fruits I enjoy eating I can’t live without the FRUIT of the Spirit.

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The Little Foxes

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Songs of Solomon 2:15

The context of the verse is Solomon and his bride delighting in one another, which started in chapter 1 of the book and carried on to chapter 2. Verse 15 of chapter 2 caught my attention. I was wondering what the little foxes could be and how they would ruin their vines. Foxes are animals usually symbolic of deceit. They’re known for being subtle and crafty. Does this remind you of anyone? There are diverse ways this verse could be applied. I thought of it in terms of relationships. My relationship with my husband, my relationship with God, and The Church’s relationship with Christ.

“take us the foxes”

Whatever the foxes are, this right here is telling me that I can’t catch them on my own. It’s implying teamwork, “US”. Like Solomon and his bride, my husband and I need to strategize as a team against the foxes.

“the little foxes”

This tells me “the foxes” isn’t one huge fox or many huge foxes but several small ones. The trivial things. The petty things that are subtle. The things that get brushed off or go unnoticed but has lasting and damaging effects.

“that spoil the vine”

These little foxes apparently can cause some considerable damage. When something is spoiled it just needs to be thrown away. It can no longer serve its purpose. It’s no longer fit for use. We really need to beware of these little foxes; intentionally paying attention.

“for our vines have tender grapes”

“Tender grapes” here to me implies something that is already fruitful. It’s delicate, growing, and maturing. Unless the little foxes are caught those fruitful vines and tender grapes will be spoiled.

Solomon and his bride compared their relationship to a vineyard that is fruitful. His bride concluded that if they don’t come together to protect it, it will be ruined by the little foxes. Likewise, my marriage and my relationship with my husband will be ruined if we don’t work together against the little foxes that can destroy a marriage or intimacy. The same is true for my relationship with God. God is faithful in doing his part. I need to stay alert and beware of the little foxes that can destroy my relationship with Christ. I don’t have to do it alone either. I have his Holy Spirit to help me maintain our relationship. Both relationships need to be guarded against the forces that will stunt their growth and fruitfulness.

The following 7 little foxes can spoil any good relationship:

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In my relationship with Christ these little foxes can be sinful appetites, lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, the pride of life, comprise with worldly standards, disobedience, and indulgence in the desires of the flesh. I’m thankful for the power of the Holy Ghost to help me overcome these things in our relationship. He helps me to live a godly lifestyle that will keep our relationship growing and thriving.

This scripture can also be seen in relations to “The Church” (Bride of Christ) and its relationship with Jesus (The Groomsman). There are many little foxes that will attempt to spoil this relationship. The primary little fox in relations to this specific scripture is false lying prophets. The prophet Ezekiel talk about them in Ezekiel 13:4-16. The Apostle Peter also talk about them in 2 Peter 2:1-3. These are people who come in the name of the Lord and claim God said things he had not said. They cause people to believe the lies they are speaking and hope in them. God is against them. They seduce people away from the truth of God. The false teachers that are teaching heresies and their own truths that cannot be found in scripture. They will not go unpunished. God cast the angels that sinned down to hell for judgment. He will do the same with all false teachers and lying prophets that are deceiving his bride. They’re mentioned again by John in Revelation 2:2. These are people claiming to be an apostle but are liars who will be exposed by God in the end. Foxes are known to be destructive to vineyards. If the church is not cautious these little foxes can spoil many in the church through false doctrine and teachings.

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TEAMWORK, unity, is one sure way to catch the little foxes and destroy them. Whether it’s alongside your spouse or with the Holy Ghost, we need more than just ourselves to prevent our fruitful vines and tender grapes from being spoiled. We might be able to identify the little foxes individually, but it takes working with one another to conquer them. Solomon’s bride realized what they had was special, but it would take the two of them to protect it.

 

BEWARE OF THE LITTLE FOXES!

Broken and Poured Out

Many of us, myself included, are ashamed and afraid to be seen by others in our broken stages. Often that is when we can be poured out before God and be used the most by him.

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When I hear the word “broken” it’s usually about something or someone that is damaged, not fit for use, or able to fulfill its designed purpose. Broken means reduced to fragments, not functioning properly or out of working order, weakened in strength or spirit, and having given up all hope or being defeated. That’s basically the opposite of being complete, connected or wholesome. The Bible, however, gave me a different or should I say better perspective of brokenness.

Psalm 34 verse 18 says, “the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit”. This verse is referring to our hearts being broken over our sins. When we are truly sorry for our sins, which is brokenness, the Lord is present according to this verse. How awesome is that? To know that God is present in my brokenness. I believe for this to happen we must spend time getting to know Jesus and building an intimate relationship with him. This kind of response to sin is a result of time spent alone in God’s word and presence.

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“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls”. Matthew 11:29

A broken heart and spirit is an acceptable sacrifice to God. Outside of this biblical or godly context, it’s unacceptable. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”, Psalm 51 verse 17. God desires a repentant heart. A heart broken with sorrows for sin. Just as King David was in Psalm51 after the prophet Nathan came to him after he sinned with Bathsheba. True worship in spirit and in truth comes from a heart broken over sin and poured out before God.

There’s purpose in being broken and poured out. God will show up to heal us from the wounds of sin, forgive us, comfort us from our sorrow, then bind up our wounds. His presence can then fill us up with truth and righteousness. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds”, Psalm 147 verse 3. Being broken and poured out results in us humbling ourselves before God.

Once we are broken we can empty ourselves and allow the Spirit of God to fill us. We can then pour out in worship and be an effective vessel to demonstrate God’s love, goodness, and mercy. God allows us to be broken to rebuild us for his glory. Our brokenness is supposed to draw us to the presence of God as he is near. Too many times we tend to hind in shame or fear. Pride can easily cause us to miss his presence!

In Psalm 34 verse 18 brokenhearted in its Hebrew origin “nishbar lev”, the one with a broken heart, is referring to our inner life, our affections, mind, and will. We can submit these things to God when we are broken and poured out before him. Our inner life of thoughts and feeling is usually expressed in our actions. When we are inwardly shattered we need God’s divine help and deliverance. Hence why he is near, but we must pour out and allow him to fill us up. We will miss him if we are full of ourselves and everything else contrary to his word. A heart that is humbled at God’s displeasure for sin is tender and willing to bend to God’s will. Then, God “will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit”, Psalm 51 verse 9.

Unfortunately, it does take an actual heartbreak sometimes to get us into the state of brokenness. However we get there, God will be near. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, Matthew 5 verse 3.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9

 

The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. Isaiah 57:15

 

My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. Isaiah 66:2

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15 MORE YEARS

What if Hezekiah didn’t pray?

What would have happened if Hezekiah didn’t have a lifestyle of prayer?

At 25 years old Hezekiah became the 13th king of Judah in Jerusalem. I imagined that to be a lot of pressure and responsibility at 25. He reigned 29 years. He followed King David’s examples and commandments God gave to Moses. He did what was pleasing in the sight of God. The books of 2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32, and Isaiah 36-39 give an account of his reign over Judah. As I studied his life I asked myself, what if he never prayed? What if his lifestyle wasn’t on of prayer? He was clearly a man that feared the Lord and reverence the things of God.

“And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did”. 2 Kings 18:3 

He destroyed the altars of false worship and idols (gods) the Israelites made for themselves. He even destroyed the “brazen serpent that Moses had made”, because the Israelites had developed the habit of sacrificing to it. They were living like pagans. They named it “Nehushtan” (The Old Serpent). Satan is the only Old serpent in the garden I can think of. This was obviously a terrible thing. Pagan practices had become their norm. Hezekiah had every right as the appointed king and servant of God to destroy these things and bring order back into the kingdom. He did it the way God instructed David and Moses. He reopened the House of The Lord, which his father had closed. He had the priest and Levites consecrate themselves and the House of the Lord. He restored proper worship and sacrifice.

“he trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him”. 2 Kings 18:5

Hezekiah was without a doubt a remarkable king because he feared the Lord (2 Kings 18:6-7). He had oppositions, but he was able to overcome them because God was with him. Four years into his reign a part of Israel, Samaria, was taken captive by the king of Assyria. This was “because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them”, (2 Kings 18:12). I believe the same thing happened to us when we refuse to obey the word of God. Satan captures us, and we become slaves of sin. Towards the end of Hezekiah’s reign, he became deathly ill. God sends the prophet Isaiah to let him know he will not recover from his illness, he is going to die. Can you imagine being Hezekiah at that point? Based on your current lifestyle how would you react to such news? I don’t know about you, but my heart would’ve dropped a little bit. I would be wondering what sin I committed to bring that upon myself. I hope my response would be prayer and trust in God.

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Hezekiah did what he has always done during his reign, he prayed. “Then he turned his face to the fall, and prayed unto the LORD”, (2 Kings 20:2). He was a praying man. Whatever trials Hezekiah faced (Assyrian Kings, rebellious Israel) he responded by first seeking God through prayer. He also sought the prophet Isaiah to hear what the Lord had to say concerning Judah. In his prayer, Hezekiah reminded God of his relationship with him, how he was careful to obey him and did what was pleasing in his sight. Before Isaiah could leave God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and observed his tears. He instructed Isaiah to go back and tell him he heard his prayer. God promised to give him 15 more years, heal him, and deliver him from the Assyrian king, (2 Kings 20:4-6). Why would God examine Hezekiah’s tears? Our motives matter when we pray. God knows our heart. He knows our thoughts before we even have them. Hezekiah didn’t necessarily pray because he was afraid to die, he was concerned about bringing glory to God. He was focused on God’s promises. He knew his death wouldn’t bring glory to God and his enemy would win. He wanted God to fulfill his promises and prove his faithfulness. It’s powerful when we pray the will of God. He will answer. Our prayers should be to bring glory to God and fulfill his will. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts”, (James 4:3). James is reminding us if our motives are wrong when we pray we will not receive what we asked for. Our prayers shouldn’t be selfish prayers what will only bring us pleasure. God will not answer prayers that are disguised to fulfill unrighteous agendas.

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What would we know of Hezekiah today had he not live a lifestyle pleasing to God? There’s no need to imagine, just read about some of the other kings during his lifetime. Because Hezekiah had a relationship with God, he could boldly go to him in prayer. He was always confident in God’s ability to deliver them. His complete trust in God made him confident. He was constantly seeking God for answers and direction, not just the day he found out he would be deathly ill. I believe he studied the word of God and knew what his will was. Therefore, he knew what kind of prayer to pray. He was faithful in keeping the instructions God gave them through Moses. He was a submitted king. I don’t think he was perfect and never did any wrong. I think he was intentional about doing what he knew God required of him. God answered him speedily because he prayed the will of God.

“Pray without ceasing”, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Not only is prayer a means to communicate with God but it also helps strengthen our relationship with God. Hezekiah’s story encouraged me to restore order in my life wherever there’s a need for it. We can easily fool ourselves by our own judgment thinking we are doing enough or we’re where we ought to be. Every day I see things and I hear things that remind me I am not praying enough. I want to pray more than just one hour a day. I want to always pray the will of God and remind him of his promises. Answered prayer is powerful and a testimony unto God for his glory. I want to know more and more of God’s word to know what to pray when I pray. Like Hezekiah, I want to be a prayerful woman whose life reflects it for God’s glory alone. I want the Lord to be able to count on me to do what I know is right and pleasing in his sight. I don’t know about you, but I want to pray kingdom prayers that will get God’s attention. I want to pray about everything God gives me the authority to pray for. Hezekiah’s story could’ve ended with him dying from his illness had he not humbled himself and prayed.

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How has Hezekiah’s story encouraged you?

What’s one thing today I can pray for you about?

REJECT REJECTION

Do you ever ask yourself, what is it about rejection that hurt so much?

I can still recall the very first time I felt rejected. At the tender age of ten. I experienced rejection from someone I was supposed to look up to as my role model. This person was supposed to make me feel loved and protected. It sent me on a mission to prove that I was worthy of that person’s love and approval. That mission was short lived. My heart was filled with anger and resentment. I put up a guard and promised myself to never allow anyone else to make me feel that way again. I felt like if someone close to me could hurt me that way others would attempt much worse. I became very defensive and critical of myself. My emotions spiraled out of control and my self-worth diminished. I lost count after that of how many more times I was rejected and rejected other people myself. I didn’t know the God who loves me yet and how he was going to wrap me in his arms to restore everything in me that was shattered, stolen, and broken. Today, I can say hallelujah thank you, Jesus! He thought I was worth saving. He changed my life. I am saved, free, and whole. I no longer fear rejection. At the age of ten, I didn’t know how to deal with being rejected or how it could possibly make me better. As I got older, I learned how I felt after being rejected did a lot more damage than what was done to me. I had more control than I realized. I was able to learn from being rejected after that and become better. I learned not to get caught up with what did or didn’t happen to me and press forward. I learned to not allow my emotions to control me. I had to stop allowing what happened to me determine what happened in me.

Rejection is defined as “the dismissing or refusing of a proposal or idea”, “the state of being rejected”. To reject is “to refuse to accept, consider, receive, or hear, submit to or take for some purpose”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to feel ignored or feel like I’m being dismissed. Being rejected is a part of life. It’s a small part of life in my opinion but it can cause so much damage. Many of us after being rejected are left with a damaged mood, unstable emotions, filled with anger, and a low self-esteem. We become very critical of ourselves and other people. Often, we develop a strong need to belong or be accepted. The truth is you will be rejected many times, not every everyone will like you or accept you, and that is okay. Many people in the Bible dealt with rejection. God’s prophets were rejected by his very own chosen people, the Israelites. They were hated and killed by them for giving them the word God gave them. The people didn’t want to hear them or listened to them. The Apostles faced many trials and rejection. Jesus sends them out and warned them that they would be hated and rejected by the world just as he was. Jesus, who is God, came among us to save us and he was rejected and crucified. If we can all be honest we have knowingly rejected other people. At some point in our lives, many of us rejected the call of God to save us, even though he died for us while we were yet sinners. He chose us, and we rejected him. Too many of us today are still rejecting his call.

“He came to his own people, and even they rejected him”. John 1:11

“He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weakness he carried; it was our sorrows that weighted him down. And we thought his troubles were punished from God, a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all”. Isaiah 53:3-6

“if the world hates you, remember that it hated me first”. John 15:18

The next time you feel rejected:

  • Pray and give it to God. He cares!
  • Read the word. Redirect your thoughts to what God said.
  • Make your rejection a redirection.
  • Build your self-worth.
  • Work on improving your life.
  • Understand you’re not always rejected because of you.
  • Make a conscious decision to not live for another person’s approval.

In 1 Peter 2:4 Peter said, “you are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, be he was chosen by God for great honor”. Other people can reject you, but their rejection may be a part of God’s process to process you for greatness. It could just be God’s plan to redirect you and use you for a great honor. God will not reject his people, and you can give your cares to him (Psalms 94:4; 1 Peter 5:7). You can rest assured, in the end, “we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them”, Romans 8:28.

 

REJECT REJECTION!

ACTS OF LOVE

MATTHEW 25:40

Spread joy, kindness, and love.

Matthew 25:31-46

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

We often measure the importance of things or people by how much time we are willing to invest in them. We invest time in things or relationships that are important to us. 1 John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” In other words, loving anyone requires action.  God gave himself for us because he loved us (John 3:16). It was an unconditional sacrifice of love. A person can give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving. Whenever we give our time to anything or anyone, we are making a sacrifice. Sacrifice is an attribute of love.

PURPOSE

The word purpose is defined as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”. God (Jesus) is the reason for which you and I are created. He is the reason for which you and I exist. Your parents may or may not have planned for your existence but God was intentional about each one of us. God is the reason we are so. Many parents simply wanted a child but God determined who you would be. You were God’s plan. He intentionally designed each one of us. He intended your existence. Proverbs 20:18 says, “plans succeed through good counsel.” However, God consulted himself when he created Adam and Eve, the earth, and the universe. The Lord is sovereign. He does not need anyone’s counsel. What God will simply is. God intentionally designed our lives and determine our destiny. Everything has a purpose. “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All the glory to him forever! Amen.”, Romans 11:36. Mankind and creation have a purpose and it is to glorify God. “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship”, Psalms 19:1. As mankind, our ultimate purpose is to “fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty”, Ecclesiastes 12:13. Regardless of how many years we live and what we accomplish in life, it is all meaningless if we don’t fear God and keep his commands. It is all meaningless outside of God. All of who we are and what we do should glorify God our creator. If we fall into the hands of others God can deliver us. However, “it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God”, Hebrews 10:31.

God knows our beginning and he knows our end; he has given us the free will to choose eternal life or eternal damnation. Life and purpose starts and ends with God. Proverbs 19:21 says, “you can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.”  Because the Lord is sovereign he says, “only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish”, Isaiah 46:10. God has all wisdom, he sees each one of our conduct, and he alone determines what we deserve (Jeremiah 32:9). He does great and mighty things. Everyone’s purpose is a great and mighty act of God. “But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken”, Psalms 33:11.

 

To find my purpose, I had to turn to God.

Life doesn’t start with me.

Everything begins with Him.

When I asked myself, the answers were all revelations to dead ends.

The creator of all things has the answers.

I didn’t give life to myself.

I couldn’t tell myself what God created me for.

I didn’t find purpose in confidence.

A relationship didn’t give me purpose.

Clothes and shoes didn’t give me purpose.

A pretty face didn’t give me purpose.

My talents didn’t give me purpose.

My place of origin did not give me purpose.

Education did not give me purpose.

My family didn’t give me purpose.

I stopped searching for my purpose in all the wrong places.

I read the book God inspired for me.

My purpose is written in his word.

I found my purpose in knowing who God is and who he called me to be.

 

“For You formed my inward parts. You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You. When I was made in secret.”

Psalms 139:13-14

 

“You were made by God and for God- and until you understand that, life will never make sense”. It all started with God. You’re not an accident, none of us are. He thought of you long before time. He created the world with each one of us in mind. Purpose and identity are found in Christ!

 

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,

for through him God created everything

in the heavenly realms and on earth.

He made the things we can see

and the things we can’t see—

such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.

Everything was created through him and for him.

He existed before anything else,

and he holds all creation together.

Colossians 1:15-17

 

 

GET RID OF BITTERNESS

When I was in high school I dated this guy and in my mind, I thought he was it. It was real for me. This man did everything wrong you could have imagined; from lying to cheating with multiple women, and even being in other relationships. We broke up once and like any naïve, clueless, loyal woman “in love” with too much time invested I took him back. Nothing had changed, he was worse than before. I thought I could eventually change him and he’d realize I was worth more than that and do right by me. It is heartbreaking when a man can look you in the eye and say I love you, you can trust me, while he’s lying to you and cheating on you knowing you are loyal and faithful to him. He was only committed in words to my face, nothing else, nothing more. One day, he decided the military was the option for him and it was best we separated until he was ready in the future. I made sure to let him know that was it for me. There will never be a future for us. I had enough, I already sacrificed too much, I’m worth more than that, I deserve better, and would never be an us from that day forward. That day was in September 2009. I promised myself I would never let another use me or take advantage of me that way.

He wasn’t God’s will for my life. I had made a very costly mistake and unwise decision. We weren’t in a godly relationship, that eventually cost me my deepest regret & most precious part of me. I grieved it years after. I felt so ashamed, embarrassed, felt betrayed, guilty, heartbroken. I experienced so much regret and was extremely BITTER. I cried for days; not over him or losing a man worth keeping. I cried because I invested so much of myself in a person and relationship that I could never get back. I cried for the time and years wasted that could not be undone. I cried because I experienced some painful things no one should. I cried because I needed to release the pain I felt. From September 2009 to the end of that year I made it my goal to get myself together and focus on the things that matter. I stopped crying and turn to God. That was the only sure way I knew to stop the pain I felt and be restored. Through prayer and reading God’s Word I was over him and over it all. It was then God taught me true love 1 John 4:8. I meditated on that scripture and studied it, along with many others about love.

I thought I was good but throughout my pain and hurting process, the seed of bitterness grew within me. It took root and flourished. I despised all men and wanted nothing to do with any man. I couldn’t wait for that guy to hurt the way he had hurt me. I wanted him to suffer so he could feel the pain I felt. In my heart, I had murdered him (“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer:” 1 John 3:15). I didn’t understand why God allowed him to hurt me and continued living. I didn’t want him to exist or ever have to look at him. I felt like he didn’t deserve any mercy. I was bitter and hateful and didn’t even realize it. I never thought I was capable of such feelings. I thought I was better than that. I began to have a series of dreams where my ex was begging me for forgiveness, “please forgive me”. Each time in each dream I would reply NO then walk away. I talked to my godmother about the dreams and she advised me to pray, God was trying to show me something.

I prayed to God. I asked him to help me understand the dreams and their meaning. I asked God to expose anything that was left in me I was still holding on, anything that was hidden from my knowledge. I didn’t believe I could ever hate anyone. I asked God to reveal it to someone and send that person to me. About a weeks later, my pastor at the time called me early Saturday morning to speak with me about a vision God gave him while he was in prayer. I didn’t have a close/trusting relationship with him or ever talked to him about the things that happened to me. He told me while he was praying God gave him a vision of God and myself. God was trying to take something away from me but I wasn’t letting it go. He said he’s not 100% sure what it was but from what God showed him it might be anger, hurt, or bitterness. As soon as he said that I remembered the prayer I prayed. I told him I knew what he was talking about and he told me then you should know what to do.

I went straight to my room that day and poured my heart out to God. I wept like I never had before. I told God how hurt I was, how betrayed I felt, how that guy never apologized to me for any hurt he caused me, I asked God to consider all the wrongs this man had done to me, how evil he was for hurting me and betraying my trust, and how I didn’t deserve any of it. God listened. As I sat silently before him. God pulled out a mirror and he led me to consider it. He asked me, what about you? Your own poor decisions allowed some of your hurt. You contributed to your own heartache. Why haven’t you trust me? I have been loyal and faithful to you. Why haven’t you accepted my love? I have pursued you. My love is pure. What about how you’ve wronged me and disobeyed my Word? How you ignored my warnings? At that moment, I realized how messed up I was myself, the lack of heart and respect I had for God and his Word, how I had defile myself, how lost and confused I had been, how broken I truly was, and how I was not any better than him. God gave me the scripture “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” Matthew 6:15. Just like my ex I needed forgiveness, I never apologize to God for my wrongs, I was a sinner in need of grace and salvation, and I had wrong God on so many levels and ways. Forgiving was no longer a choice. That was the day I begin to fall in love with God and his Word.

Bitterness is a poisonous root. Anger, depression, anxiety are all things that grow out of the root of bitterness. We complain when we’re bitter and unable to see God working on our behalf. I expressed to God I didn’t how to let go, and where to begin uprooting my bitterness. I didn’t have the strength. I told God I didn’t know how to truly forgive but if he showed me how I would do it. God did it. I repented of my sins and wrongs. God taught me several more scriptures about forgiveness. I have all my hurt, regret, anger, and bitterness to God. I left it there at his feet then allowed him to restore me. He stayed very close and healed my broken heart. He gave me peace and I found true love in him. He has since been my model for love and forgiveness. I could, later on, write a letter to my ex and express that I forgave him for everything. I forgave him because God had forgiven me. He never apologized or said I’m sorry. I was no longer searching or waiting for that. I found peace and LOVE, God himself. No man can compare to that.

If you want to heal from emotional wounds:

Let God rescue you from death and forgive all your sins Isaiah 38:17

Bitterness will hold you captive by sin Acts 8:23. Let it go.

Ask yourself: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!” Psalms 43:5

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” Ephesians 4:31

 

God is love! True love, forgiveness, and healing start with God.

 

God allowed it all to save me from a terrible situation. He had a better plan and a future for me. I’m married to one of the best husbands any woman could hope for. I would not trade the joy, peace, and amazing husband God blessed me with for anything I had then.

Once In A Lifetime