DRAW NEARER TO GOD, WHEN YOU FEEL LOST (PART 1)
Written by Minister Valerie Lawrence
James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and he will near to you.”
Let me share with you about drawing nearer to God when you feel lost.
We all have had this feeling of being lost. It can be extremely difficult to handle because you feel isolated and left to handle finding your way on your own. Most of us try to figure our way back to someplace familiar. Some of us turn on our GPS, or call a friend who knows the way. I know I stop and ask someone who knows where to go.
Being lost is scary. It is uncertain. You feel isolated, alone, and frustrated in trying so many paths to find your way back. This pain when traveling is real, and even scarier concerning your direction in life.
The fear in being lost leads most of us to turn our heads at every voice just trying to hear a voice that sounds familiar. When lost we want to hear a voice that sounds reassuring and certain. We want to hear a voice that lets us keep hoping we are on the right path.
Feeling lost today? Here is God’s voice in this devotional to give you hope. Get closer to Him so you can hear Him clearly. But you say how?
I can hear you now, “but God is in heaven, and we are here on earth. How do I get closer to Him?” The closeness I am talking about is not achieved physically. We draw near to God through prayer and worship. Psalms 22:3 lets us know that God turns His attention to the worship from His people.
In other words, true worship turns all of our attention to Christ as He turns His attention to us. As we keep approaching God through worship, prayer, submission to Him, we find comfort in His presence, light for our path and purpose for our journey.
David knew what it felt to be lost, and confirmed that drawing near to God’s voice brings comfort. He said, “By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.” Psalms 119:105 MSG
When we come to God with a humble heart, and submit to His will, and with a desire to glorify Him as Lord over our lives we draw nearer to God.
Dear God. I come before You with a humble heart. I hereby submit to Your will. I desire to glorify You as Lord over my life. Wow, I really did not understand what that meant in full before, but now I want to draw nearer to you God. I want to change my life for the better. I submit to your ways and come before you humbled. You are perfection and I fall short of your standard everyday through sin. Amen!
DRAW NEARER TO GOD, WHEN YOU FEEL LOST PART 2
Written by Minister Valerie Lawrence
James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and he will near to you.”
Let me clarify some things!
- You will not get closer to God without being humble and vulnerable. You have to trust someone when you are lost. You’ve tried yourself, why not try God?
- You must draw near with confidence. Have faith. Build your faith by trying God, and watch it grow as you go from victory to victory and then faith to faith.
- Draw near to God with a clean conscience. You don’t have to be perfect, God covers us with His perfection and accepts us right where we are. As you approach God, ask God to clean your heart and clear the sin that blocks your vision of Him so that you can see Him and approach with confidence. [See Hebrews 10:22 to study this more.]
You see my brother and sister, God loves us, and wants the very best for us because we are His children. God never wants his children to feel lost, or to even think that they are lost. We are never lost to God. Talk to God, he will hear you and comfort you, and redirect you, and give you clarity, and assurance, and life.
I know I wanted to change my life for the better. I wanted to get to the right path. I wanted to find fulfillment. I wanted my days to have meaning. I wanted to laugh and smile and live again. I drew near to God by crying out to Him, spending time with Him, worshipping Him, fellowshipping with other believers, and my church family, and what I found was peace, strength, hope, joy, love, and life.
I don’t care what you are going through, if you are feeling lost right now, that feeling is not the end for you! Experiencing a broken marriage? Have a child that dropped out of school? About to be evicted? Are you working two jobs and still can’t make ends meet? Asking, “Where is the help going to come from”? Thinking, “where is the God that I have heard so much about”? Ever find yourself saying, “I am so lost”? Ever find yourself saying, “I have never had a real relationship with this friendly God you are speaking of.”? Ever find yourself feeling like you are outside of God’s availability to be loved? This is not the end.
God is for all of us who seek him, he especially wants those that are bored (with life), burned (by people and experiences from the past), and bypassed (unable to connect with God, church culture or His people). My friend you meet all the qualifications to hear his voice, connect and get on the right path if you simply draw near to Him.
Our Father desires to save his lost children, we should not be ashamed of our past. You need to hear this today – just know that your past is forgiven, and God loves you.
My friend you were lost, but you are no longer lost, you have found the best friend that you could ever have in your life, stop looking, you have found your “Heavenly Father.”
As I am drawing near to you God, make your promises become real in my life. I conclude this time with you and am now prepared to experience peace, strength, hope, joy, love, and life. Amen!
DON’T JUDGE A BLESSING BY ITS COVER
Written by Minister Tamika Edwards
How many times have you missed out on a prime opportunity or divine encounter because you expected God’s move to be accompanied by fireworks, bells, or whistles? God’s power can be wrapped up in ordinary, unexciting, mundane tasks and instructions during the course of our everyday lives, and if we are not careful, we can abort or delay our breakthrough, healing, and manifestation of the fullness of God’s power in our lives.
In 2 Kings 5:5-14, the bible tells a story of a mighty man of valor, with whom God was pleased. His name was Naaman, and he was the commander of the Syrian army. Naaman was revered by the king of Syria because he defeated Syria’s enemies with the help of the Lord. Naaman just had one problem – he had leprosy, a skin disease that was characterized by shame and disfiguring skin legions.
God allowed a servant girl to recommend that Naaman go to the prophet [Elisha] in Samaria to be cured. Naaman just knew that he would have to pay a hefty price to rid himself of this disease, so he loaded up his treasures, best clothing, and even got a letter of endorsement from his king to give to the king of Israel.
Naaman got on his horse and chariot and arrived at Elisha’s home, prepared for the grand solution to his problem. Elisha sent someone outside to give Naaman these simple instructions: “Go wash seven times in the Jordan River. Then you’ll be completely cured.”
Naaman felt insulted and offended. Surely, for an infectious disease such as leprosy there had to be more to it. Certainly, God could not be answering his prayer by sending a message through some unnamed person. And what happened to the magic wand? The fireworks?
We sometimes wonder how a great and mighty God can respond in such simple, unassuming ways that we fail to appreciate and accept the sovereignty of God.
God sends a seemingly ordinary person to minister healing, but we look for a pastor to anoint our head with oil.
God sends us a message through a child in our own home, but we look for a special word from a prophet in a church.
Sometimes we approach God with a big ask, and to help justify the grace He so freely extends, we offer him our sacrifices – church attendance, tithes and offerings and our service. When His simple instruction is not equivalent to our big ask, we grumble and are thrown off just as Naaman was.
The truth is all God wants from us is our obedience (1 Samuel 15:22). He works in ways we do not understand, but if we follow His instruction – strange, unreasonable and insignificant as they may seem – we will experience the transformative and restorative power of an immeasurable God. And even then, “These things are merely a whisper of God’s power at work. How little we would understand if this whisper ever turned into thunder! (Job 26:14).
Even after Naaman grumbled and complained, his servants told him that if Elisha had asked him to do something difficult, he would have done it, so Namaan went to the Jordan River and dipped seven times. He was instantly cured.
What big ask do you have of God? What answers are you missing because the remedy He has given and the people he has chosen to deliver the solution are not as typical as you would expect? Listen to God and heed His instruction. Trust Him and obey.
Lord, we acknowledge that you are omniscient, so you know everything about us – our desires, needs, shortcomings and weaknesses; you are omnipresent, so while you are attending to the needs of people in Asia, South America and Africa, you are also seeing about us, right here where we are; you are omnipotent, so you have the unmatched power to change any circumstance in our lives that we think is impossible to deal with. We also recognize that you are sovereign and perfect in all your ways, so help us to trust you and not judge your blessing based upon our limited knowledge and understanding. We do not ever want to miss out on what you have for us or who you have sent to minister to us. We know that sometimes you work things out on our behalf in a way that we do not understand, so please open our eyes to see and our ears to hear, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
IT HURTS TO HEAL
Written by Minister Jackie Warren
A few months ago, I suffered a bad injury to my left knee because of a hard and very painful fall. I remember laying on the ground thinking to myself, “your knee must be broken,” because I had hit the ground so hard and could not move.
When the ambulance arrived, of course they had to move my leg to position me upright, which required me to bend my knee despite the excruciating pain I felt. That day and in the weeks to follow, I had to undergo x-rays and visits to pain specialists. I had to use crutches to get around.
After about three weeks of being on crutches, the swelling began to decrease, and I visited the orthopedic doctor who ordered an MRI. Based on the results, it was determined that 6-8 weeks of Physical Therapy would be the best course of action to avoid any surgical procedures.
As if I had not already been in pain, I would now have to subject myself to someone touching the area that hurt the most, subject myself to someone moving my leg and then returning home to deal with pain and swelling that would follow.
Surprisingly, I spent the most rewarded time getting to know Jesus as my healer all over again. You see, He began to use my situation to liken Himself to a Physical Therapist so that I would not run away from the healing process but embrace it despite the pain I felt. He began to help me understand that healing does not mean that I would not hurt. It did not mean that I would be pain free. It meant that just like my Physical Therapist had to touch the areas that were sore, bend my leg at the knee, and assign exercises to strengthen my knee; He too has to touch our wounds and move them in ways that we do not want Him to so that we properly and healthily heal.
Isaiah 53:5 (NIV) says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” I want you know that Jesus is more aware of where you hurt than you know. This verse reminds us that even Jesus had wounds that hurt but His hurt resulted in our healing. Healing from disappointments, abandonment, rejection, addictions, and the like. Does “It Hurt to Heal?” The answer is yes, but no matter the hurt, He is waiting to be your Physical Therapist and make you whole again!
NEEDS…YES / WANTS TOO
Written by Pastor Sean Edwards
The critical areas of our lives all make demands of us. These critical areas include our finances, careers, businesses, social circles, physical bodies, families, romantic interests, legal affairs, and God. These areas and relationships are vessels that constantly drain and always need to be filled (maintained with resources).
The good news is – “God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19b AMP
Most of us want our unnecessary vessels filled as well. Here’s the problem – we get annoyed with God choosing to pour into our unnecessary vessels at His discretion and in His own timing.
The expensive car, the overpriced living quarters, expensive phones, and model spouses are not needs, they are wants, and truthfully unnecessary. God has not promised to fulfill our unnecessary wants, or when we want.
There is nothing wrong with bringing additional vessels beyond our needs to God for Him to fill. Philippians 4:6 tells us that we are to bring every circumstance, request and want to God in prayer, without worry or anxiety.
There are things we should consider however when we approach God with our wants.
- Approach God with the right motives. Make God and His will your priority.
- An attitude of gratitude goes a long way. Be fully aware of God’s grace and provision in bringing you this far and meeting your needs.
- Bring your cares before Him. Just know that you are already full. If He never does anything else He’s already done what He said He would do.
Don’t be surprised if God provides you with the desire of your heart or reconditions your thoughts to where you realize that there was something deeper that you really wanted in your unnecessary want that God is already supplying or will supply in meeting your every need.
God help me to trust your pour and your timing! Amen!
ORDER MY STEPS
Written by Minister Wendy Williams Ugwuja and Pastor Sean Edwards
Order my steps in Your word; let no sin rule over me.
Psalms 119:133 Berean Study Bible
Everywhere you turn experts offer “Steps to Success.” King David, the author of our scripture desperately wanted this type of direction to succeed in life and specifically on his spiritual journey. To that end, David wrote, “Order my steps in Your word; let no sin rule over me” (Psalms 119:133 Berean Study Bible).
There are three things in particular to notice about David’s request:
(1) David is seeking order in his life.
(2) David wanted God’s Word to provide the guidance that would bring order to his life.
(3) David knew that God’s Word would keep sin from ruling over him.
David ascended to great heights, became a King from a runt, and was known as a man after God’s own heart. He became a success. Here are some things I learned from David’s success journey in God and from this text that we can apply today to also be successful in life and specifically on our spiritual journeys.
- Like David, ask God to order your steps in God’s Word. Pray that God would help you to make the decision to live a life of order that is grounded in HIS Word.
- Pray for strength to say “no” to the things that bring disorder.
- Beware of things in life that appear glamorous at first glimpse but instead bring disruption to the order, purpose, and plans that God has intended for you. Once you allow those things that bring disorder to become a part of your life the result is sin overcoming you.
- Remember, ‘All that glitters isn’t gold.’ Disorder will cause a negative impact on your family, career, finances, health, and spiritual journey.
- Study God’s Word. David is believed to have written, “Your Word is a lamp for my feet a light on my path.” (See Psalms 119:105 NIV). Make His Word a lamp for your feet and a light on your path as well. You can distinguish order from disorder by studying God’s Word. For those of us that are tired of disorder, tired of confusion, and tired of being overcome by sin, let us also turn to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to order our steps in His Word.
Heavenly Father, You are the air we breathe. We realize that without Your guidance we are lost. Please order our steps in Your Word. Give us the strength to say no to the things that bring disorder. Help us to make the decision to live a life of order that is grounded in Your Word. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
Written by Minister Wendy Williams Ugwuja
Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.
3 John 1:2 NLT
Rules have become such an integral part of our society. In my twenty plus years of teaching, the first few days in the classroom with my students are always spent focusing on rules.
I remember doing a study on the Golden Rules. Google defines the Golden Rules as “basic principles that should always be followed to ensure success in general or in a particular activity.” Many of us live our lives (knowingly or unknowingly) based on some principles presented as Golden Rules.
One example of a Golden Rule is, “Treasure your body for it is the vessel that guides you through your life.”
I dare say that the writer of 3 John would agree with this Golden Rule. The writer states, Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit (3 John 1:2 NLT).
Our “religious” eyes may have been quick to spot that we need to be “strong in spirit” based on this verse. Many of us may be surprised to see that 3 John 1:2 also expresses a hope for us to be healthy in body.
Can you think of some reasons that God would want us to have a healthy body? A healthy body increases our chances of living a long life. A healthy body enables us to fulfill God’s purpose of establishing His kingdom here on earth (Matthew 6:10).
As we continue to strive to connect to God spiritually, let’s be sure to place an equal importance on a healthy lifestyle that incorporates eating and drinking that strengthens and nourishes the body as well as developing a regimen that includes frequent exercise.
Heavenly Father, thank You for life! Help me to take care of the body that you gave me. My body is your temple. Help me to have discipline to reject the foods and drinks that make me weak and sick. Give me the wisdom to select the foods and drinks that bring health, healing, and strength to my physical body. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!
SING A SONG!
Written by Brother Dwight
In 1975, the ‘prophet’ Maurice White from noted music group Earth, Wind and Fire penned a sermon to music. He wrote,
“When you feel down and out,
Sing a song,
it’ll make your day
It’s the time to shout
Sing a song
it will make a way…
Bring your heart to believing
Sing a song
Life ain’t about no retrieving
Sing a song
Give yourself what you need
Smile, smile, smile and believe
Sing a song!”
The song hit number one on the Billboard Soul songs chart and hovered at the top of the charts for weeks. The song has since been sampled by Beyonce, Take Six, and gospel group Point of Grace. Clearly, many people have resonated with this simple encouragement!
As part of the Faith Place worship team, we have learned the power of song to declare victory over circumstances. We have spent time in rehearsals sharing our burdens with each other, then praying about it and then sealing God’s promises over our lives in song and harmony.
Prayer changes things for sure. Yet sometimes we forget the power of a song and its impact over our attitude and perspective.
It takes a lot of faith to sing when you are going through difficult times. When your latest credit score reminds you that you cannot move forward, most of us won’t burst out in song! When you just had a major argument with a loved one I can’t imagine that your next move is to jump into Kirk Franklin or Fantasia mode!
The scripture does remind us about the literal ground-breaking power of singing to Heaven in the middle of your circumstances.
Acts 16:22-25; 26 CEV in the Bible shares an important story about two believers who used the power of Singing a Song in the middle of their circumstances. Let’s read it-
The crowd joined in the attack on Paul and Silas. Then the officials tore the clothes off the two men and ordered them to be beaten with a whip. 23After they had been badly beaten, they were put in jail, and the jailer was told to guard them carefully. 24The jailer did as he was told. He put them deep inside the jail and chained their feet to heavy blocks of wood. 25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God, while the other prisoners listened.
I can see how the men prayed to God for help after being unfairly beaten and imprisoned. However their “singing praises” is what really caught my attention! For most of us, just their prayer alone would be sufficient to get God’s attention and comfort them in the middle of their imprisonment. Singing in those circumstances just doesn’t seem authentic or natural to the conditions they were placed in.
I give a huge shout out to Paul and Silas who did not disconnect the two expressions! Prayer was the foundation and continues to be the foundation of our faith and communication to God. However, I dare you to take a Paul and Silas approach and seal your prayers with a song! Sing your victory into existence. Don’t be too disturbed if other people are listening. Your song may free them too!
We don’t know if Paul and Silas were good singers or not. Chances are, even the best singers won’t sound great after being flogged, jailed and chained. Your voice quality won’t matter to heaven when you sing. God hears, He knows and He understands! As a matter of fact, God is the one that places the right song on our hearts in our times of struggle.
The Message version of scripture captures my recommendation to you so beautifully in Job 35,
“When times get bad, people cry out for help.
they cry for relief from being kicked around,
But never give God a thought when things go well,
when God puts spontaneous songs in their hearts,
When God sets out the entire creation as a science classroom,
using birds and beasts to teach wisdom.”
Wow! What song is God giving you RIGHT NOW?! Go ahead and sing it. Go ahead and declare his praises right in the middle of your jail! Don’t worry about what is next, don’t worry about the sound and don’t worry about how to fix it. Just SING A SONG!
God thank you for making us a part of the Faith Place and for this opportunity to come together to learn and worship. We thank you for the power of song to declare victory over circumstances. While our burdens have imprisoned us God, we come to you about it, and we lean on your promises over our lives now, and in song and harmony. Amen!
P.S. If you want to know how the power of song impacted Paul and Silas then just read Acts 16 verse 26. Prepare to be “shaken” when God decides to sing back to you
In 2021 to simplify our lives we are prioritizing the things that matter most:
• Staying one with Jesus
• Becoming more like Jesus
• Doing what Jesus did
To create space for these priorities God prescribed us “R.E.S.T.”
By example God taught us to stop aspirational striving for a rhythmic pattern of time (Shabbat) after we have worked:
“And God blesses the seventh day, and sanctifies it, for in it He has ceased (Shabbat) from all His work which God had created for making.”
Genesis 2:3 LSV
By permission God makes us restfully present (Nuakh) while we are on assignment:
“And YHWH God takes the man, and causes him to rest (Nuakh) in the Garden of Eden, to serve it and to keep it.”
Genesis 2:15 LSV
What does Shabbat R.E.S.T. and Nuakh R.E.S.T. practically look like in 2021:
Here are practical suggestions from Author Rachel Chester-
- It might mean putting your phone away to protect yourself from anxiety or comparison.
- It might be letting go of perfectly planned schedules.
- It might be taking on less work than you think you should be accomplishing.
Let’s SIMPLIFY, and make room for priorities, by R.E.S.T.ing.
By Dwight Curwen
4 I asked the Lord for help,
and he saved me
from all my fears.
5 Keep your eyes on the Lord!
You will shine like the sun
and never blush with shame.
6 I was a nobody, but I prayed,
and the Lord saved me
from all my troubles.
7 If you honor the Lord,
his angel will protect you.
It’s Springtime in 2021. We are months past the New Year’s Resolution phase. Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Most of us have received our tax refunds and may have already spent it in its entirety. We are about to end the first quarter of the year.
In reflection, have you already had to ask the Lord for serious help this year? In 2021, have you already been in desperate situations that required some serious support and intervention? Has the expected beauty of spring’s colorful new blossoms been overshadowed by the darkness of your fears?
If your answer to any of the above questions is a resounding “yes” then know that there was someone who could identify with you. Thousands of years ago, King David penned the words that so much reflect some of how we feel today. He asked the Lord for help from his fears. He felt like a “nobody”. He knew what it was to feel shame and to have many troubles.
Despite the troubles David endured he figured something out. If you ask the Lord for help, then he will help you. If you keep your eyes on the Lord then he will protect you from shame. In verse 7, he highlights a really powerful statement. “If you honor the Lord, his angel will protect you”. In other words, if we give God his proper place and respect in our lives then he sends us an angel to watch over us. For every situation that we may encounter there will be God’s angel around us to make sure that we are okay.
If ever you feel alone or feel insecure, just know that making God a priority brings a return that is not limited to April 15th. His expression of love can’t be captured by any romantic holiday. He is more than just a fresh start; He is our beginning and our end. He has assigned an angel to those that love him. There is protection awaiting you. God answers prayers. He delivers his children. Be encouraged by these age old words that STILL holds true. God be praised!
- Do I submit my concerns to God whole-heartedly or do I try to solve my problems on my own?
- Have I given honor to God this year with my words, actions and deeds?
- How can I begin to practically make God the priority figure in my life?
By Kalia Wright
I have the horrible habit of leaving my computer on for hours at a time. Just the thought of going through each program to shut down is exhausting. I usually avoid doing so.
By leaving my computer on, I can quickly jump right back into whatever it is I’m working on. To properly maintain a computer however, it must go off at some point, and shut down.
My bad habit of not shutting down my computer caught up with me one day when my computer crashed. Nothing worked properly, and I could not get on the internet! I tried all the tricks I had learned over the years, but nothing worked. I finally came to terms with the fact that I had to shut down, restart my computer, and reboot, even if it meant losing important tabs, documents and assignments.
I fought the obvious solution of shutting down to restart and reboot because I didn’t want to first lose what I had been holding on to for so long and to avoid the lengthy 3-step process.
Fearing the shutting down process? Fearing the wait that comes with restarting and rebooting?Are you holding on to things that you have way past the time to give them up?
God is calling us to shut down, so that He can restart and reboot us every day.
Like my computer, God can only fix what is broken once we first shut down, rest from our efforts, restart, and reboot. We must not fight His calling to start anew or we may never discover our true calling in life, according to God’s will. Paul taught us that best. Consider below.
The Apostle Paul had a deep seeded hatred for those who believed in Jesus. Paul devoted his life to persecuting anyone who dared to believe in Jesus.
God appeared to Paul and the encounter persuaded Paul to a life completely devoted to Christ. This turn around was just the opposite of what Paul was holding on to. Despite the challenges he would face after his conversion, Paul’s new conviction in God and His promises were enough to sustain him on his new spiritual journey.
If you are still holding on to anger, resentment, or pain, like Paul, you too must shut down your own efforts of trying to fix or medicate things yourself, restart and know you are due for a reboot. God cannot be fully present in our lives if we don’t shut down, and submit everything to him for a start anew.
What has been holding you back from your divine purpose may seem too hard to get rid of, but you must not underestimate what God has in store for you on the other side of your surrender (shut down). Consider these scriptures to help you when you feel it’s too hard or maybe not worth the yielding to turn off and allow God to reboot you-
Romans 8:28: We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose
1 John 1:7: But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away
Mark 9:23: Jesus replied, “Why do you say ‘if you can’? Anything is possible for someone who has faith!
Shut down, restart and reboot.