Tag Archives: Jesus

Surviving The Valley

It’s been so long since I’ve used this space I almost feel like an intruder….lol. I feel like I should give an explanation as to why I’ve been away for so long but if I begin to delve into the details; multiple deaths in my family, moving to Jamaica, starting my Masters degree, etcetera, etcetera, I might be here for an insanely long time and may never get to share what’s currently on my heart. So with that being said, I’m back. Whether for a moment or for good this time is still to be discovered, but I’m glad that I’m in a space where I can communicate openly about my life and encounters with God again!

Today, after a long period of searching and reassessing my life and my relationship with God, I was reminded of a key principle in understanding who God is and reaching out to Him. I’ll go back a little before telling you what that principle is, so you don’t feel out of the loop and I don’t seem like I’m rambling on about everything and nothing in particular.

Have you ever hit a really low place spiritually, where you feel like you’re no where close to God and you’re praying that you’d have even a slight encounter with Him again so you can keep going? Now, this feeling may not be a result of sin or wrong doing, but simply a result of feeling drained by the stresses of life and literally having to take life one day at a time and dealing with each crisis in the moment. It may resemble waking up each day and praying, all the while not being certain if God is even listening or hearing you. Maybe you’re trying to worship and you just can’t find the right words or the right song and it’s as though you’re occupying an empty space and reaching out in futility. In such a moment, have you ever asked God “Where are you?” or “Why won’t you talk to me?” or even “Why have you forsaken me?”. If you’ve been here at any point in life, welcome to the club.

That was me for the past couple months. I woke up each day and I grappled with praying and worshipping and many days I felt abandoned by God. I wanted so badly to hear His voice or feel His presence or at least get some form of confirmation that I was still within His will and plan for my life. And for months I battled, and doubted, and cried because it felt like I was grabbing at straws. I felt like at some point, God got fed up and just couldn’t be bothered to meet with me anymore. I can’t begin to tell you how empty and painful that was for me. To go from being in God’s presence daily and feeling Him close to me, to feeling like there was a wall between us and trying to figure out how to get past it. Of course during this time I kept seeing those memes online that say “the teacher is quiet during the test” and “God has promised not to leave you or forsake you”. These, while comforting momentarily, never proved to be enough to sustain me and definitely didn’t renew my peace. I needed something more, something solid, heck, I needed God!

Then today happened. Today I woke up and was reminded of John 1:1 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I know, this is a serious “what?” moment because it’s such a simple verse to combat all the drama I was facing. But, as simple as it seems, that one verse gave me the breakthrough I was so desperately looking for. You see, I’ve been reading my bible, but only because I’ve been taught to read it. I’ve been told time and time again that reading my bible should be part of my daily routine and so in my low place, I read because of religion and not relationship. What that means is, I wasn’t reading my bible because I wanted to know more about God or because I wanted to apply it’s principles to my life, I was reading it because it became a part of my routine, a chore almost. When I felt drained I cast the bible aside and believed that its words could not offer the comfort I needed, because it wasn’t God speaking directly to me – and ultimately, that’s what I wanted.

This morning though, I was reminded that interacting with the bible is one of the most intimate ways of interacting with God. It gives us insight into the heart of God, the principles and standards He operates by, His thoughts towards us and His promises which He is faithful and true to uphold. This morning, I was reminded that when I feel like I have no emotional connection to God, I still have direct access to Him through His word.

So, what now? What happens now that I’ve rediscovered the truth and simple answer to knowing God and maintaining my relationship with Him? Well, it’s simple, now I move from living out my Christianity as a chore to truly embracing all that God has to offer me through His word. Now, I read with purpose and I live in faith understanding that when God says he’ll never leave me nor forsake me, He means it. Now, I work on my relationship with God and not my christian religion. I’m going back to basics, seeking God’s truth daily through His word and living them out as much as possible every day.

I’ll be honest, a part of me wants to say that this is basic stuff and chastise myself for forgetting it, but I’m more inclined to indulge the part of me that’s grateful for my valley experience because it reminded me that my walk with God is not an emotional one. It’s not about feeling warm and fuzzy inside and being brought to tears every time I think about God. It’s about being sober minded, and living a principled life that’s pleasing to God. My Christianity is about having faith that God is with me always and trusting Him to be my guide even when I don’t “feel” like He’s close.

As I continue to seek God and walk in His ways I’m grateful for the reminder that I have access to Him always even when I “think” He isn’t there.

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Repentance: A Little Man’s Perspective

JesusZacchaeus

I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Zacchaeus. I’m amazed that so many lessons can be learned from 10 bible verses which tell the story of an inquisitive man’s encounter with Christ.

Today I’d like to discuss Zacchaeus’ response to Christ, how his encounter caused a change in his character and God’s ability to exceed our expectations of Him.

The first thing to note in this story is that Zacchaeus had no intention of MEETING Jesus when he climbed in that tree. In verse 3 of Luke 19 it says that

“he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.”

Put frankly Zacchaeus simply wanted to put a face to the name of a man everyone was talking about, but because he was short and the crowd was thick he had to take what could be deemed as extreme measures to accomplish his goal. When he climbed into that tree on the day that  Jesus was passing he was not expecting to have an encounter with God. He really just thought he had figured out a way to overcome the problem he faced: being too short to see.

That day however, Zacchaeus got more than he bargained for and his encounter with Christ made Him a better man. In the account of this story, the bible tells us that Jesus stood under the tree and acknowledged Zacchaeus by name and then proceeded to go to his home to share a meal with him. Can you imagine Zacchaeus’ surprise when Christ decided to meet with him, a dishonest man, who was hated by many?

The exhilarating part of this story for me is how Zacchaeus responded to being in Christ’s presence. Verse 8 of Luke chapter 19 says

Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”

What we see is that while in God’s presence Zacchaeus not only acknowledged his wrong doings but he also made decisions to do what was necessary to reimburse those persons whom he stole from. Zacchaeus’ response to Christ has within it a clear model of what repentance looks like. Repentance is the acknowledgement of your sin and a decision to no longer do that thing which displeases God. It requires us to confess to God that we were wrong and sometimes it means doing what is necessary to undo some of the hurt we caused through our ungodly actions. Zacchaeus also teaches us that Godly encounters – through prayer, worship, the word of God, prophesies, dreams, visions, etc. – help us to change those things which are displeasing to God while building our character.

In addition to Zacchaeus’ response in this story I can’t help but admire and appreciate God’s ability to meet us at the point of our needs – even when we don’t realise how badly we need Him – and to exceed every possible expectation we have of Him at the same time.

I remember once I prayed and asked God for a new job because I felt stagnant in the one I had at the moment. Mere weeks after talking to God about it I got an answer to my prayer in the most unexpected way. God did not give me a new job. Instead, he allowed the managing director of the company I worked for to see my potential for a position I was not qualified for and because of that, I was transferred to another department and promoted. The ironic thing is, I wasn’t only unqualified but I was the youngest and most recent addition to the staff. Most of my colleagues could not understand the decision made by my manager but I knew it was God’s way of exceeding my expectations of him. Needless to say I went on to be very successful at that job and before I resigned I was responsible for spearheading major developmental projects for the company.

I guess what I’m getting at ideally, is the fact that it is possible to encounter God and see a change in our lives and circumstances because of that encounter. It is possible to experience the power of God to influence change in us and to see ourselves move from a place of sin to a place of repentance and restoration in Christ. Like Zacchaeus, we may not be expecting a life changing encounter with God but once we have a desire or an expectation of Him, He can meet and exceed all that we desire.

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Living a Purpose Driven Life in the Temptation Era

flying-airplane-wallpaper

What do you think would be the consequences if an airline pilot midway to a destination decides to change the course; without permission from his superiors, because of an interest he has at another (off route) location? Allow me to put that illustration into perspective.

You’re on a flight heading to an important meeting on behalf of your company. This meeting could mean make or break for the company’s future and so it’s imperative that everything goes well. The meeting was called on very short notice so, unfortunately as soon as you land you’re going to have to take a taxi and go straight there; you won’t even have time to check into your hotel first. Now imagine that you’re on the flight with the “flighty” pilot, who steers the aircraft away from it’s intended destination because of a new found interest of his that isn’t on the way to where he’s going. Can you imagine the horror? All that you and your colleagues would have worked on would be destroyed, simply because the pilot could not resist the temptation that pulled him away from his purpose.

A lot of times this is what happens in the life of believers. We who have been ordained by God to fulfill a purpose in the kingdom are sometimes tempted to steer off course and instead of practicing self control; understanding the importance of our purpose, we give in to temptation not recognizing that there might be great consequences afterwards.

Temptation to step off course is not unique to us. Christ too faced such temptation while he walked the earth. In Matthew 17:21-23 we see a great example of this. In this passage Christ had begun to tell the disciples that he would have to suffer many things at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes and that he would be killed and be raised from the dead after three days. It was in that moment that temptation came through Peter.

The devil used Peter to present a new perspective on the situation. Peter, whom I imagine must have been very emotional at the time started to rebuke Christ, telling Him that he should not have to suffer these things because of who he was. I don’t know about you but that seems like a pretty good argument. I can just see Peter in my mind’s eye telling Christ how great He was and reminding Him of how many great things He accomplished and how much more he can do on earth. Peter must have been so persuasive in His attempt to stop Christ from facing the cross.

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Thankfully Christ knew His purpose and was driven by it! Jesus’ response has  in it the secret  to surviving in the temptation era (V.23).

 

1. First thing first, Christ knew His purpose. One of the main ways to resist temptation and remained focused on your purpose is to know what you have been called to do. You might be wondering “how do I know if I’m called to do anything?” or “how do I know what my purpose is?”. First thing first we all have a purpose as ambassadors of Christ to represent him and preach the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:20). Secondly we can pray and ask God to reveal to us what is His purpose for our lives as it relates to the kingdom of heaven and he will reveal it to us.

2. Secondly, don’t be afraid to call the devil’s tricks for what it is. Jesus recognized that the devil was using Peter (who was close to him) to present the distraction. Because he knew it wasn’t really Peter but Satan working through Peter he spoke to the devil directly. Sometimes the enemy uses things and people close to us as a means of pulling us away from our purpose. However once we know our purpose we will be able to discern the tricks of the devil and like Christ rebuke him and send him on his way.

3.Thirdly, we need to know the difference between the things of God and the things of men. Everything that is of God can be found in the word of God. If there is something presenting itself to you that is not in alignment with God’s word or with your calling then you know that it is not of God for you to indulge in that thing. Anything, regardless of how good or pleasant it seems, regardless of how great the intention might be, once it pulls you away from the things of God and your purpose in Christ it is a trick of the enemy. In praying it is important for every believer to ask God for the spirit of discernment. We need to depend on God to help us to discern clearly the things that are of him and the things that are not.

The world we live in today presents many, many delightful things that may cause us to drift away from what God has ordained for our lives. However the word of God along with God’s mercy and grace can keep us on the path of righteousness. Let us not be like to fictional pilot above, who carelessly steers off course without realizing that the course ahead is much more important and rewarding than the distraction on the side. All of our purposes can be attained if we keep our eyes fixed on the things above and trust God to keep us till that time when His will is accomplished in our lives.

 

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Seeking The Lost – Christine Caine

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Ezekiel 34:16  “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”

It is so natural, after being rescued, to simply go back to your life, to business-as-usual. After a harrowing experience, you’re yearning for normalcy. You want to—and sometimes do—forget that hopeless, horrifying moment of being forgotten in darkness. Going back there to warn others is hard work—and trying to rescue others in those perilous places sounds risky. It’s true—many of us fear the lost, and because of that, we’re reluctant to go out into the world to seek them.

Why would we fear the lost? Maybe because, often, they’re so needy and desperate. We’re afraid that they will attach themselves to us, leech-like, and beg for one thing after another: our time, our money, our emotional support, a place in our homes (“just until I get back on my feet”), a ride to work—and on and on.

Or we might fear them because they are so “other” than us. A different lifestyle and different life choices. They may have different language and clothing styles, different food and music preferences, and a different sense of humor. Will they accept us? Will they laugh at us behind our backs? Will they despise us even as we sacrifice for them? Are they, perhaps, even a danger to us? Might they be willing to take by force those things we don’t offer freely? Will we feel uncomfortable, uneasy, in their midst?

When Jesus urged Peter to feed his sheep, he didn’t offer a list of excuses he would accept. “Feed my sheep—unless it becomes inconvenient or the sheep become too demanding. Feed my sheep—unless you’re afraid of the big ram who protects the flock. Feed my sheep—unless you’re afraid they’ll charge you, snatch the food out of your hand, and trample you.” He just asked Peter to feed his sheep.

For the desperate, the hungry, the oppressed, for those in pain, no rescue can come soon enough. And when the lost call to us for rescue, God doesn’t command us to be supermen. He commands us to be willing. He’ll do the rest.

There are so many who have no way out, unless we rescue them. The words of the prophets take on new meaning. Isaiah 6:8 records a vow that comes from the place of knowing what it means to be rescued: “Here I am, Lord. Send me!

Point to Ponder

Are you willing to say to God, “I remember what it is like to be lost, and I’m ready to be sent out to rescue others?” It’s a commitment born of thankfulness.

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Firstly God

right-priorities

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

As 2014 approaches and I take time out to reflect, I find myself pondering the concept of truly putting God first. When I was younger I perceived that the only persons indebted to God completely were the leaders and elders of the church. I never saw the need for me to place Him first in my life until I “was of age” and because of that God was never at the forefront of anything in my life.

Matthew 6:33 proved to me how very wrong my perception was. In this passage God gives an instruction to Seek Him First and he doesn’t categorize that request. I’ve realized that I didn’t always put God first this past year. So many times God tried to make an appointment with me and because of MY SCHEDULE I put that meeting off. Maybe you can relate to what I’m saying. Sometimes I’m so caught up in achieving goals I’ve set out for the day, week or month that I don’t allow God to change my plans to suit His. I hear him calling me to more prayer or longer hours in His word, but because these things would mess up my agenda I ignore the tugging of my heart and only give to God what I deem sufficient to keep me in His presence.  So many times I neglected to shift an appointment to attend prayer services or other things pertaining to God and somewhere along the way I only did God’s will when it was convenient to me.

In my reflection of me and my relationship with God in 2013, while I have had some GREAT experiences with my Savior, I am thankful for His mercy and grace. I am thankful that although I don’t always get it right or surrender my all to Him he still showers me with His blessings and gives His angels charge over me. I realize that God’s hand is always upon me, even in my disobedience and I can’t help but think of the wondrous encounters I might have missed out on because I let Him play second fiddle in my life.

No one is too old or too young to serve God in spirit and in truth. There is nothing we could have done that could separate us from the love of Christ and he doesn’t expect leaders and elders only to Seek Him First. God wants to release His blessings on ALL His people but the only way to truly enjoy these blessings and see them in abundance is to make Him a priority in our lives.  God’s desires and promises to us are vast and He wants to fulfill each of these in the life of every believer. However, we must satisfy the criteria set by Him if we wish to stand firmly on His promises

I challenge you to join with me as we embrace the New Year, to take God at His word and Seek Him FIRST. I guarantee, you will see His promises fulfilled in your life as walk in the abundance and overflow of His blessings.

Have a blessed 2014 everyone!

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By Your Own Measure

gavel on white background

Matthew 7: 1-2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

This past week I’ve been meditating on the above scripture and trying to figure out how it should be applied practically to my life. It’s easy to say “Judge not that you be not judged” but if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, it’s really not that easy to  satisfy the first part of this command.

Naturally, we judge people, things and situations. We form some type of opinion about certain things and based on what our perceptions are regarding that thing we act a particular way. I honestly don’t see that as a problem, however there is a problem if you are judging based on a standard which you can’t maintain or achieve.

You know that saying, “don’t judge me, till you’ve walked a mile in my shoes”? I think that’s what God is trying to teach us in this passage of scripture. Don’t just look at the onset of something and determine what standard should be set regarding it. So many times I’ve opened my mouth and declared that someone was wrong for the way they were dealing with a situation or the way they are handling something in their lives. In my heart I have rebuked so many people because they don’t meet a level of righteousness I believe they should (especially if that person is in ministry). But today I thank God for revelation and His spirit of conviction.

For the past month or two God has been pulling me back. He’s been calling on me to shut up and wait. He’s been giving me the same experiences that others are having so I can understand that it’s not always easy to attain righteousness. It’s a process that He has to take us through and that we have to trust Him with. God began to show me that sometimes when I judge what others are doing on the forefront I’m using the wrong measurement because I have no idea what He is doing in the background to bring them to that place He needs them to be.

Then I was warned! The same measurement I use when I judge, is the same measurement which will be given to me at the time of my judgement. That warning goes for all of us. Stop and analyze your response to others. Analyze the way you look at different people and circumstances and determine whether the measurement you are giving to them will be a good measurement for you when your time for judgement comes. Do you give mercy and grace, do you chastise in love or even give second chances? All of these encompasses your judgement of others.

So, today I encourage you and myself, to be careful about the measurement we apply when judging anything in our lives. By default a level of judgement is applied to every circumstance in life but we need to exercise wisdom and understanding as children of God so that we don’t bring upon ourselves harsh and unreasonable judgement. It’s okay to take notice, keep quiet and take some things to God in prayer trusting that he will do with it what we can’t.

So what will your response be the next time you see or hear of something you’re not in agreement with? What level of measurement will you use?

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Daily Dose – Tell Somebody

tell-somebody

Mark 5:19……………..“Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”

Go home to your friends and TELL them!

This command was given to a man who Jesus freed from a legion of demons. The once possessed man wanted to go with Jesus after he was delivered but Christ told him to go home instead and let others know of the goodness of God.

We too have the same mandate. We need to tell people, in fact not just anyone, we need to tell our friends what God has done for us. It’s not just enough to say you’re a Christian and go to church on a Sunday, you need to be specific sometimes and tell others exactly what God has done for you and why you’re thankful to Him. God requires that we tell people, especially those close to us, what he has done for us.

Today I give you a challenge. Before you leave this page, I challenge you to leave a comment below expressing what Christ has done for you and why you’re thankful.

I’ll start – God has blessed me with a best friend that has the same passion for Him as I do and who I can go to at anytime for spiritual support. Sometimes it feels like he made us with each other in mind and ordained that we would be friends for life. Without her friendship I know my walk with Christ would have been tougher. So today I thank Him for placing Candace in my life as a spiritual sister. 

Now it’s your turn, what have God done for you?

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Daily Dose – Thy Will Be Done

prostrate

Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

I have been pondering the above scripture for some time now and I can’t begin to express the excitement I feel when I say the four bold words above. YOUR WILL BE DONE!

It takes a level of humility, trust and faith to sincerely pray such a prayer. So many times I have repeated the Our Father prayer and not realized the true magnitude of its words. Only now as God is taking me through a season of pruning and grooming that my eyes have been opened and my heart blessed with various revelations in this scripture.  While there are many parts of this prayer I can expound upon, tonight I will focus on those four words in verse 10 of Matthew chapter 6.

I believe that we have been boxing God in by praying for things and not accepting that what we ask for may not be what God intends for our life.

2 Timothy 1:8-9 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to HIS OWN PURPOSE and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

When God saved and called us it was according to HIS purpose. God has an intended purpose for each of our lives and sometimes we don’t fully understand what it is, so we try to shape our lives a particular way, by praying for specific things which we sincerely believe are in alignment with God’s design for us. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking God for what is in our hearts, however we need to be mindful that if what we want is not what God intends for our life then we need to accept His will when it is manifested in our lives.

The manifestation of God’s will outside of ones desire is exemplified in Luke 22:42-43 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

This was the night Jesus would be betrayed and he went to His father earnestly asking to not have to face the pain of the cross. In His prayer Christ acknowledged that His Father’s will should be done above all else. Here we see that instead of removing the cross from Jesus’ destiny, God instead strengthened Him for the rest of the journey.

I believe that this is what is happening today with a lot of believers. We are asking God for things and praying about circumstances with the expectation that God is going to say yes. We have not considered that what we desire may not be God’s will for our lives. It is very possible that some of the things the people of God are asking for will not come the way we’re expecting it. Some of the things may not come at all because they are not in alignment with God’s will for our lives. The problem lies not in the answer from God, but in our ability or willingness to accept an answer contrary to what we desire.

As I type I realize that I am guilty of such actions. I ask God for things sometimes and I really do expect Him to give it to me or to work out situations in a particular way, in a specific time frame and I don’t leave room for His will to be done in my life. God’s will for Jesus on the cross was our salvation. If he had taken the cross from Christ, if Jesus’ blood was not shed we would not have the promise of eternal life today. Clearly the will of God supersedes the desires of men.

It’s time for change. It’s time for us to mean what we say when we pray. It’s time for God’s children to trust His will for our lives and embrace the purpose for which we have been called!

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Real Talk – Commitment Brings Control

Give it to God

II Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. NKJV

As I sit and reflect on the month gone, God’s spirit takes me back to the beginning of this month when Pastor Ali spoke to the church on the importance of letting God be in control. In His sermon Pastor asked the church if God is in control regardless of how we live. Of course the answer to that question was NO! You see because God has given us free will, His intervention on matters in our lives is determined by our willingness for Him to intervene. Therefore if our lives do not reflect or communicate as much to God then He cannot keep those things which we have held on to and refuse to put in His care.

As the month progressed it was revealed that we can interpret the above scripture two ways. Firstly God cannot control what we don’t commit to Him. There are so many battles the church face because we do not commit situations, tribulations, cares, worries and other such things into God’s care. We say that we love God and we trust His will, but we continue to try and live this life based on our own strength and understanding.

Secondly we see that whatever we commit to God He is able to keep. God’s word is true and He is faithful to what word, therefore we can rely on Him to stand true to it.  I have always been career motivated and so in the past I would constantly be battling with ways to advance my career in a particular direction. Earlier last year, when I began my relationship with Christ, I committed my job to God’s care and the rewards and peace of that commitment is simply amazing (you can ask me for details).

I know what you’re probably saying, “Keela you don’t understand. You don’t know how hard it is to let go of the things I’m dealing with. You have no idea what my battle entails”.  You’re probably right, I might not understand your particular situation but I do understand this; God’s word is true and if the bible says He is able to keep what we commit to Him then He really is able to do it. It’s up to us to trust His word and His love and give everything over to Him so He can have His way with it.

God doesn’t ask us to do anything without telling us how to do it. So, here’s how to start. Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  If we are to find strength to commit things in our lives to God we first have to take our eyes off of those things and look toward Him. In so doing we will learn to trust His desire for our lives and we will begin to understand His true capabilities in keeping everything we commit to Him. So don’t take my word for it, try the remedy in Matthew 6:33 and begin to see what great things God will do with those things you commit to Him.

I hope you all have a blessed month.

Keela!

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