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What Happens When the Door Closes and you are in the Storm?

This is the post excerpt.

Reflection on our lives reveals that we have overcome many obstacles. The last challenge was just resolved, and now another stormy trial has come into our lives. A storm may include the loss of our jobs, finances, health, relationships, marriages, and even the death of a loved one.

It’s just too much! We feel overwhelmed with the present and unexpected life events. Our reaction of anxiety or anger to this storm [sometimes called a wilderness experience] can open the door leading to the emotional chaos of fear, worry, anxiety, sadness, and depression.

It is natural for our emotions to escalate at disproportionate levels when we perceive our hardships as impossible. Nevertheless, these negative emotions leave us spiritually disoriented, forgetting that God is in control. Trials, sorrows, and difficulties are designed to give us spiritual growth and dependency on God. Without faith, we cannot please God or believe in His promises.

Our Heavenly Father continues to allow the storms to redirect our focus to Him. Our faith must be unrealistic. Not looking at our circumstances, but to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Remember, we are never alone. Jesus is with us in every stormy trial.

When the disciples were in the boat, fearing for their lives, Jesus appeared to them by walking on the water. “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27). Peter stepped out on the water but became distracted by the raging waves. He began to sink because he took his eyes off of Jesus.

The human effort of faith and trust and Jesus’ Divine intervention always ends in victory! During the challenges of a raging storm, Jesus is saying, “Come to Me.” Yes, brothers and sisters, “Go Ahead! Walk on the Water. © Sonya D. Johnson 2022

The Game of Chance

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:12

A concept is causing significant dissension and division among Christians–prosperity! When we hear messages based on God promising us wealth, we will react in one of two ways, “It’s a false teaching” or “Yes, Jesus says to ask anything in His name, and He will do it.” Yet, Jesus has told us “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…” Matthew 6:19, first part.

Sin has given us a natural longing to desire the things we do not have. Is it possible for us to be content? The answer of yes or no is an individual one, which reveals our relationship with Jesus Christ. We will explore the response of no, which many hesitate to say. They usually respond with, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19). And the conflict of truth versus error begins.

The Desire–Are you familiar with the phrase, “Some people are their own worst enemy?” We begin the decline into sin by our heartfelt desires. We have entered Satan’s Game of Chance as inexperienced players at this stage. But Pride continually urges us to pursue our dreams. Unsure of ourselves, we seek and select people who agree that we should follow our hearts. We make sure that we keep our strategies a secret, especially from the Saints of God who always say, “Pray and wait on God.” We grow weary of God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11. So, we begin listening to…the Influencers.

The Influencers persuade us to chase our dreams now. Many have become successful in the financial arena. We readily listen to the testimonials of social media’s elite, successful entrepreneurs or peruse the websites of powerful investment companies. JP Morgan advertises, “Set up a call or virtual meeting with a J.P. Morgan Advisor to discuss your investment goals and help keep them on track.”

An unequally yoked relationship is today’s believers’ second most prevalent deception. We have lost control of our senses, especially our eyesight. When children are younger, they are immature and desire the pleasant things they see. Yet, as they mature if taught restraint, they learn that not everything pleasing to the eyes is good for you.

The Rebellion–In these last days, Satan’s two deceptions are causing an internal conflict for first place in our hearts, seeking prosperity and having unequally yoked relationships with unbelievers. Chasing wealth and giving into lustful desires has many “Christians” renouncing God. Because compromise has overtaken the desire to obey God, they worship God with works–attending church or making tax-deductible contributions. But their minds are far from giving God the reverence of total obedience. “For let, not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:7-8).

The desire for what we do not possess has existed since the conflict with Lucifer in heaven. Adam and Eve gave up immortality and face-to-face communion with Jesus in the Garden of Eden for the deceptive lie of having God-like omnipotence–knowing all. We do not care! The Bible provides God-breathed historical accuracy in the Scriptures of fallen humanity and proof of God’s love, grace, mercies, and restoration. Yet, pursuing our desires becomes the driving force, and we willingly become players in the Game.

The Knocking on the Door of Our Hearts–“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).

The Failure–Because our Heavenly Father loves us, He intervenes, and our dreams that we brought into fruition fail. The loss of our financial investment, or the business falters into bankruptcy, and the relationship [no matter how dedicated you loved] is over when the unbeliever continually disappoints or walks away without remorse.

The Choice–God’s Restoration: With heartfelt sorrow, we confess and repent, [leaving the sinful Game] and receive spiritual restoration from the blood of Jesus Christ. “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight…” (Psalm 51:3-4).

The Choice–Remain a Player: Many become angry and depressed, blaming God for not blessing their pursuits or relationships. They embrace the trending belief, “You can’t have success without failures,” and they decide to develop different strategies and continue to pursue their desires. Pride consoles them as they up the ante, “I’ll develop different strategies or find another individual with different values.” Now they have no need for God’s divine direction. They think of themselves as experienced players in the Game of Chance.

The Apostle Paul has forewarned us in 2 Timothy 3 regarding the condition of the last days. There is no middle ground. The player is seeking earthly rewards. But the righteous believe Jesus’ promise to supply all of our needs. We ask in prayer for God’s will to be done and patiently wait for God’s blessings. “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:7).

Prayer: God, we thank You for seeking us to save our souls when we have wandered away. We pray for forgiveness, not because of the devastating consequences we have suffered. But because we desire to leave the Game of Sinful pleasures. Today, we surrender our hearts and ask to renew our covenant vow with You. In Jesus’ Worthy Name, we pray. Amen.

Who Was Our Best Example of Faith?

Sharing this Daily Devotional by D. Winn

I have often asked groups of people to nominate whom they believe to be the best example of “faith” in the Bible. Most people favor the familiar heroes of faith: Abraham, Job, Moses, or Elijah. Some mention John the Baptist or David.

When asked to explain their choices, people usually speak of those events, such as Abraham’s offering of Isaac, in which people do remarkable things that don’t appear to make any sense. For many Christians it appears that faith has more to do with blind incredulity than with a life-changing relationship.

Jesus Christ is our best example of faithfulness!

Jesus spoke explicitly of His faith relationship with divinity outside of Himself: “I do nothing on my own authority, but in all that I say, I have been taught by my Father.  He who sent me is present with me, and has not left me alone; for I always do what is acceptable to him” (John 8:28, 29, N.E.B.).  The divinity that charged Jesus’ life with power and purpose was not His own, but His Father’s.

Prayer: God, we pray for an increase in faith and the desire to obey Your will for our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Living With Joyful Anticipation

We have so much to be thankful for. Yes, God’s mercies are new every day. Great is His Faithfulness! We have provisions, protection, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and God’s overwhelming love, as demonstrated by many scriptural promises. “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving devotion.'” (Jeremiah 31:3).

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, for God has said: ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. I will never leave you or forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)

Yet, many live with anxiety and worries regarding a situation or the future. And then there are the overconfident individuals who are self-reliant–directing their steps by using prior experience or strategies without ever thinking of asking for Divine intervention. Last, we have people who always run to friends and family to resolve their hardships.

How did believers who Christ says be one with Him become so diverse in our mindsets? It is not surprising that unbelievers do not trust God when they see and hear the inconsistencies [faithlessness] of those who say God is great! We must stop living with fear and self-reliance. We are privileged to serve God and represent Jesus to an unbelieving world.

God never expected us to figure life out. He knows the opposition [spiritual warfare] that we face every day. God promises to take care of us. “God can do nothing for me until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do the impossible.” Oswald Chambers

Seek God first every morning, always praying throughout the day and ending with an evening prayer of gratitude. Pray earnestly for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Decide to fully trust in God by anticipating the fruition of His promises in your life.

Reflect on your life journey and acknowledge that God worked supernatural miracles to bring you through as blessed and highly favored. Live in joyful anticipation of blessings every day! Change your way of thinking by entirely relying on God, our Heavenly Father. Behold, is there anything too hard for me?

God desires that we have cheerful dispositions even in times of hardships. Faith in God gives us inner peace and the ability to possess childlike expectancy. Remember that our living is not in vain. One glorious day we will behold our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Prayer: God, we thank You for loving us, for the gift of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, and for Your long-suffering toward us. We pray for the renewal of our minds. And we praise You with joyful anticipation as You continue to direct our lives. We pray in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

Measuring Our Love

Can you imagine being in love, yet the person who says they love you opposes your morals and values and constantly disagrees with you? We would agree that the individual is not in love with you.

“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:10, 14)

Many who claim to love Christ are in opposition to His commands found in the Scriptures. Serving God requires total surrender–we give all or we do not have a relationship with Jesus. Our half-hearted commitment is counted as nothing.

Obedience to Christ is the standard by which He measures our love for Him.

I can recall my dear friend Susan [who is resting in the grave until Jesus comes] saying, “When you understand what being in love with Jesus is, you pray for guidance regarding every decision and wait for the Holy Spirit’s answer.”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Pray and ask God to reveal every desire in your heart that prevents your obedience to Him. What things in your life do not reflect total surrender and obedience to Christ?

Prayer: God, we pray for forgiveness for doing things our way. Please anoint us with Your Holy Spirit that our hearts may align will Your perfect will. We ask for wisdom and discernment. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Why Doesn’t God Keep Us From Falling Into Sin As He Promised?

God’s Promise: “Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.” Jude 1:24 NLT

God created us with the free will of choice. Adam and Eve were given the command, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 3 16).

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. We disagree with God regarding the condition of our hearts [our minds]. When was the last time you admitted that your heart was wicked? Maybe never. Christians have the tendency to blame falling into sin on Satan. Yet, we willingly fall into temptation by following the sinful desires of our hearts and disobeying God.

God’s Warning: “For we do not wrestle [fight] against flesh and blood but against principalities against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Satan is not Omniscient [All-knowing], but He and his evil angels observe our behaviors. Many children and teenagers are involved in deviant behaviors because their parents or caregivers do not pay attention to their activities or the people they interact with. The worldly conversations, the programs with sex and profanity, and the immodest clothing are easily seen by the evil one.

God’s Promise: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Memory: I can recall overhearing my coworkers having a conversation about going to a restaurant with a separate bar for an after-work drink on Friday to relax and start the weekend off right. About 30 minutes later, they sent over a shy and passive co-worker who knew that I was a Christian but said to me, “Oh, we’re going on Friday to a restaurant after work just to get together.” I responded with a smile, “No, thank you.”

The consequence of declining their offer was isolation. No more greetings of good morning, random chit chats, or eating lunch together. Yet, God provided. A male coworker said to me, “Sonya, I know what happened and if you need assistance, just ask me. He always said, Good Morning.” The walk with Christ always causes separation from unbelievers. Yet, obedience has its rewards–peace, joy, and the assurance of eternal life.

God’s Promise: “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you Victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4)

Our Responsibility: Even when Satan attempts to use people who appear non-threatening to tempt us, we have immediate access to the Holy Spirit by praying a silent prayer for guidance. Yes, we can always walk away from temptation and pray for the Holy Spirit to anoint us, who gives us wisdom and spiritual discernment.

Human effort plus Divine Intervention equals Victory!

Our Responsibility: We acknowledge that we are always responsible for falling into temptation and committing grievous sins against God. Practice telling others, “No, thank you.” Remember, God can never fail! Jesus paid the price through His death to protect us from the traps of temptation and redeem us from the end that sin promises.

Prayer: God, we thank you for the spiritual protection you have blessed us with. Help us to rely on the Holy Spirit and our sound minds to resist and say no to Satan’s snares of temptation. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

The Domino Effect of Brokenness On Our Relationship with Christ

There is a significant difference between physical healing and emotional healing. With proper care, a broken bone will heal in 6-20 weeks or more if in-depth physical trauma is involved. Even so, the body initiates the healing process immediately from physical injuries.

Emotional neglect or trauma can occur in childhood or as an adult from various situations. The absence of love always produces a broken child or adult. And sadly, the mind does not have the capability of healing itself without Divine intervention. Even if the individual appears to be okay, triggers will cause the brokenness to surface.

Therapeutic intervention from Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Therapists, Behavioral Health specialists, and Addiction Counselors can only teach behavior modification, coping mechanisms, and prescribing medications for their clients.

After working as a Registered Nurse in Behavioral/Mental Health for 20 years, I do not speak against therapeutic intervention. Yet, only Jesus Christ, the Creator of the human mind, can provide complete healing and restoration.

Without Divine healing, we continue to mistreat ourselves and others and make decisions that negatively affect our lives. In 2022, Christian believers face three issues: (1) The inability to love. (2) Uncontrolled emotional responses–insecurity, loneliness, fear, anxiety, depression, overly needy, and sadness. (3) Staying in unhealthy relationships–either toxic, abusive, dependent, or with someone for years who is unable to love, provide financially, or remains emotionally distant.

How many women are waiting to become a wife to a man who says, “It isn’t the right time?” And countless married women and men readily express their loneliness on social media platforms.

Do you want to be healed?

Why is it imperative that we go to God for help? God, who is love, created us in love and defines a healthy emotional state of mind in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. The root of all emotional issues is having the wrong perception of love. It could be a familial trait that indicates learned behavior [lack of affection and positive reinforcement]. Or abject abuse and neglect produced an unloved child who matures into an adult who is broken.

Why is it necessary to speak about emotional brokenness?

“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.'” (Matthew 22:37 NLT)

Whether we have a deficit or the people we are involved with, emotional health impacts one’s spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. Emotionally unhealthy people cannot have productive relationships, not even with God! Brokenness prevents us from understanding that God is love! We will view God as a punitive Judge instead of a loving, Heavenly Father. It takes God to break the cycle! We have to make a free will choice to pray and ask for God’s help to become whole.

Throughout His short life on earth, Jesus Christ focused on faith-based healing.

“That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.” (Matthew 8:16)

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” (Matthew 9:35)

The question that Jesus asked the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda was, “Do you want to be healed?” is the same question He is asking the emotionally broken in 2022.

Prayer: Jesus, we pray in faith asking for Your healing touch and anointing of our minds to rid us of all emotional brokenness. Thank You for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Your name. Amen.

What is Worship?

Worship is our response of love to the love and greatness of God, our Heavenly Father.

Worship extends beyond praise, singing, praying, studying the Bible, and attending church. To truly magnify our Lord and Savior can only happen from the depths of a loving and dedicated heart.

We make worship a priority because God deserves our best. We worship God when we put Him first!

Worship is the surrender and dedication of our lives to God, our Creator! Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. We are a temple in which the Holy Spirit lives.

Worship God in faith and with total obedience. Give God honor because of His goodness, glory, and authority in our lives. To God be the glory!

Prayer: God, we face many distractions. Please help us to redirect our focus and attention to You. We love You. Thank You for never-ending love, grace, and mercies. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.