Posted in Faith, Life

Am I Following God’s Commands For My Life?

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors.

– Deuteronomy 8:1 –

As Christians, God commands us to do several things such as love one another, serve one another, pray for one another, and bear one another’s burdens. Yes, it is true. God wants us to obey every single one of His commands every single day.

However, I believe there are specific commands He wants us to focus on today. Not tomorrow. Today!

As I read and meditated on this verse, Deuteronomy 8:1. I was reminded to be mindful. To be aware of the promptings and convictions God is giving me today. Likewise, I believe God wants you to obey every one of those promptings and convictions, those commands He has given YOU specifically.

Today.

I had to pause for a moment and ask God,

Lord, what commands have you given me for today?

As I sat there in my room in front of my desk, God gently responded,

“Crystal, my beautiful and want to know-it-all daughter, I want you to trust me with all your heart and not to lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, in everything you do, I want you to submit it all to me. Let go of what you cannot control. Allow Me to make your paths straight.”

God literally answered my question with His Word! He quoted Proverbs 3:5-6 to me. The tears began to slowly make their way down my cheeks as I heard His voice whisper this truth to me.

God knows me perfectly. He knows you perfectly too! He knows us far to well because He created us. With every day that passes by and every experience I encounter, God is growing my faith.

What is God commanding you to do today?

Pause for a while before reading along. Ask God what He wants you to do today.

What are some things He wants you to surrender?

What person(s) does He want you to forgive today?

Search your heart. Allow Him to respond to your question.

He wants to.

He will.

God desires for us to obey His commands because He wants to bless us. Deuteronomy 8:1 confirms that, “Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors.”

Without our obedience to His commands, to His convictions, His promptings, we cannot receive His blessings. And we will not be in position to enter and seize the promises of God for our life.

I want to live life to the fullest the way God designed it (John 10:10). I want every area of my life to increase and prosper.

I’m sure you too want to witness God’s blessings over your life. In your finances, relationships, and health. If we want to experience this increase in our lives, we must follow and obey every command God gives us daily.

Dear Lord, I want to enter and possess every promise you have predestined for me. Please help me and strengthen me to follow every command you give me every single day for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Encouraging you always,

Crystal

Posted in Depression, Faith, Life

5 Practical Ways to Endure Your Anguish

As humans we have all experienced some sort of hurt, pain, grief, suffering, and distress. Otherwise known as anguish. Anguish comes and goes. For some of us, anguish lasts longer than what we anticipated. But what do you do when anguish does not leave you as quickly as you hoped?

There are two ways in which we can deal with the anguish in our lives. We can either choose to dwell in the negativity of it. Or we can choose to endure it.

To dwell means to live in a given condition or to continue in a given state.

To endure means to hold out against, to sustain without impairment or yielding; to undergo.

There is a woman in the Bible who experienced anguish herself. She teaches us how to endure it in five practical ways. Her name is Hannah. I highly encourage you to read her story in 1 Samuel 1.

  1. Pray

Hannah could not have children. She was infertile. Due to her circumstance, there was a woman by the name of Peninnah who is described as Hannah’s rival. Peninnah intentionally and constantly would provoke Hannah for the sole purpose of irritating her.

For years, Peninnah was mean to Hannah and teased her about her infertility. As a result, Hannah would not eat and would oftentimes cry. In other words, Hannah was depressed. However, Hannah’s depression and situation did not stop her from praying. In her deep anguish, Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly (1 Samuel 1:10).

There are going to be times in which you will not be well. Maybe you’re not doing well now. Whatever your circumstance is, it’s not bad enough, crazy enough, or impossible for God. Rather than waiting around listening to the lies of the devil, rise up and fight through prayer!

Hannah did not allow Peninnah’s words to define her. Instead, Hannah prayed despite how she was feeling. Friend, don’t allow the lies, negativity of others, and your current circumstance to define you.

  1. Pour Your Heart Out To God

Hannah was not ashamed of her depression. She openly prayed before others about her bitterness and most importantly entrusted God with it. People won’t always understand your anguish. But God does. Hannah understood this, which is why she poured her heart out to God (1 Samuel 1:15).

Have you felt ashamed for feeling a certain way?

Unfortunately, a lot of us feel ashamed about feeling depressed. A lot of it has to do with the negative stigma that comes with it and how others view it. However, depression is simply a natural feeling and at times a severe medical condition that people experience as a result of their circumstances.

Feeling depressed is not a bad thing. It’s not a sin either. Depression is part of being human. However, God desires for us to endure our depression and not dwell in it. Pouring our heart out to Him about what we’re going through is considered enduring depression.

Friend, feeling shame about your depression is not God’s desire for you. The devil will want you to feel ashamed so you don’t go to God and pray about it. The devil knows that when you do, God can and will give you a grace and strength to get through it.

  1. Express How You Are Feeling To Trustworthy Friends

Hannah did not only express how she felt to God. She also expressed how she felt to Eli the priest (1 Samuel 1:15-16). In doing so, Hannah was allowing peace and comfort to come into her life. After Hannah had poured out her heart to God and expressed her sorrow to Eli, she started to eat again and was no longer sad (1 Samuel 1:18).

There is power in our willingness to open up with God and with each other! Last week I wrote a blog titled, Do You Have Friends In Your Life? In this blog, I write about the importance of having friends. This is exactly why. Because having trustworthy friends to share our deepest sorrows with help alleviate the stress and anguish from our lives.

Do you honestly express yourself to others when you’re going through a bad season? Or are you ashamed to do so?

The Bible tells us in James 5:16 to confess our sins to each other and to pray for one another so we can be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful! Similarly, in Galatians 6:2, we are told to carry each other’s burdens.

Friend, you were created for companionship, first with God then with each other. Isolation is not the solution as we’ve already read in James 5:16 and Galatians 6:2.

  1. Choose To Worship No Matter What

While Hannah continued to pray and wait on God for her miracle, she worshiped before the Lord. After she had made a promise to God, and time passed, Hannah did not become impatient. She continued to pray and worship God through her anguish. Not knowing whether God would answer her prayer or not. Eventually, God did answer Hannah’s prayer of wanting a son (1 Samuel 1:20).

Like Hannah, we too should worship God no matter the outcome. God is worthy of our worship no matter our circumstances.

  1. Keep The Faith In God’s Promises

Hannah’s faith kept her steady. She endured her anguish mostly through prayer. She placed her faith above her condition of infertility. What about you? Do you still have faith when you’re in a season of suffering? Or do you allow your circumstances to affect your faith in God?

If you find yourself in a season of anguish, what are you doing to endure it?

The devil’s plan is for you to dwell in your depression rather than endure it. God’s plan is for you to endure it just like Hannah did. If she got through it by applying these 5 practical ways, you can too!

Friend, you are not alone in your anguish. God is there and He is more than willing to help you endure it if you simply allow Him in.

Let’s chat:

Which of the 5 practical ways mentioned above do you need to implement more in your life? How can you start implementing them?

Posted in Faith, Life

Getting Over The Confusion

I’m not even going to ask because I am more than sure you have been confused before. Am I right? Some of us are confused every day about the simplest things like what to wear or eat for lunch. But other times we are confused about more serious matters like life, people, beliefs, etc. You name it!

Being confused is not easy to navigate through. There are lots of questions left unanswered that we, as humans want to desperately find answers to. What’s worse is that confusion births side effects such as fear, anger, and uncertainty. It manifests itself through these negative emotions. Bottom line, confusion is the root of this chaos.

Confusion is a roadblock to peace, joy, and confidence. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to live the rest of my life confused. I don’t want my life to be a mosaic of fear, worry, anger, and uncertainty. I want my life to overflow with peace, joy, and confidence to the point where others are filled by it. And the only way that will happen is if our faith is rooted in what God says.

Have you ever witnessed or gone through something in your life that left you confused? Perhaps an experience or encounter with something or someone? I have.

I remember fasting coffee and social media for a week and praying for specific areas in my life that I wanted to see breakthrough in. My prayer focus was on Matthew 7:7-8,

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, everyone who seeks, finds. And everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

That particular week I was asking God to prompt the man He has set apart for me to pursue me. I told God I would seek His will no matter what presents itself, and that I would also seek His wisdom, clarity, and direction for my life. Lastly, I told God I would knock on the doors of prosperity, opportunity, and favor.

Fast forward almost a month later, an unexpected person made his way into my life. Yes, a guy started to pursue me! Of course I had completely forgotten about the prayer I made almost a month ago. However, as I got to know this guy, I found myself attracted to his personality, values, goals and dreams for his life. There was just one thing I was not attracted to…

His looks.

I started to feel so confused about whether I should give this guy a chance or not. It was in that moment where God reminded me of the prayer I made literally a month ago from that date I was feeling confused. Honestly, the only reason I continued to get to know this guy was because he could potentially be God’s answer to my prayer.

Long story short, what I thought could be the start of something beautiful and meaningful didn’t end up working out. Things didn’t unfold the way I expected or hoped for. I started to feel confused again. Why would God answer my prayer and then not allow things to work out between us? I couldn’t understand the why of this experience until much later.

The devil used my confusion and frustration to his advantage like he always does. But rather than allowing him to consume my mind with anger, fear, and uncertainty, I chose to rise above them and press through. To ask, seek, and knock for answers just like I did before. Surely God did not fail. He answered!

I was determined to get an answer from God regarding my situation. I sat there in my room quietly waiting and asking, Lord, is [name of person] the right man for me? I don’t want to feel like he’s the right man for me. I want to know he is. As I waited, God answered through a previous blog I had written: Are They Worth The Risk.

God reminded me of the free will he gives us. He desires for us to choose His will above ours. He won’t force us to do anything unwillingly. It was in that moment where God’s peace embraced my heart. He reminded me that love is a choice, not a feeling. There is no such thing as “The One.” There are only the “Right Ones.”

God gives us the wisdom to choose who we want to choose every day for the rest of our lives despite what the world or life throws at us. So even though I was willing to move forward with the relationship, he chose not to and I respected that.

With every experience we go through, God uses it to expose our heart and test our faith. Even though I prayed Matthew 7:7-8 and God indeed answered, the confusion crippled in from the expectation I had that did not come to pass. I truly believe God used this experience to test my faith.

Was I still going to pray Matthew 7:7-8 and believe God answers even if the results of my prayer weren’t what I expected or hoped for? Or was I going to allow the confusion of the unexpected results consume me?

Friends, God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The passion translation quotes, “For God is the God of harmony, not confusion.” I really like the message translation though, “When we worship the right way, God doesn’t stir us up into confusion; He brings us into harmony.”

My encouragement to you is this. If you currently find yourself confused about something or someone, don’t dwell in it. Ask, seek, and knock for answers. Ask, seek, and knock for clarity and most importantly, for peace. God will indeed answer because His Word promises that in Matthew 7:7-8.

Let’s get over the confusion together. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13). One last thing,

“All the disappointment in the world will never change the promises of God, the reality of Jesus, or His destiny for our lives. Everything we experience ultimately becomes a tool we can use to serve others. There are divine appointments beyond our disappointments if we’re willing to embrace the unexpected.”

– Christine Caine

P.s Make time to listen to PEACE by Amanda Cook. Be encouraged and pass it on by sharing this blog.

Encouraging you always,

– Crystal

Posted in Faith, Love

LOVE Defined (Book Review)

Hi lovelies! I am so excited to share with you a few of the major take-a ways I got from reading this book, Love Defined, by sisters Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird. In their book, Bethany and Kristen teach the reader how to embrace God’s vision for lasting love and satisfying relationships.

Some of us have been taught wrong on how to navigate love and relationships for far too long. I not only want to encourage you to read this great book for yourself, I also want to give you a short insight on the biblical based points in which Bethany and Kristen write about.

Beginning with chapter two, seeing through the Fairy Tale Facade, Bethany and Kristen write about Hollywood’s false front and how it takes a lot more than good looks and passion to maintain long-term love. Good looks will eventually fade, then what? Passion won’t always be there, then what?

Beautiful sisters, there is nothing Holy about Hollywood! We must stop fantasizing about having relationships like Hollywood portrays them. Instead, we must learn to crave and desire true love, which can only be found in Jesus Christ. Only then will we be able to embrace God’s vision for lasting love and satisfying relationships.

The Fairy Tale Facade consists of lies, deception, and selfishness. None of which are Christ like. In chapter three, the Merry-Go-Round Method for Modern Relationships, authors Bethany and Kristen describe the five-step process of this method (the wrong method to navigate relationships). Briefly, these steps include: (1) catch the right guy (2) coast on infatuation (3) concentrate on your feelings (4) count on him to satisfy you, and (5) cry when it fails, then go back to the beginning and do it all over again.

Does any of it sound familiar? It does to me! I was that girl on the “Merry-Go-Round” a few years ago before I learned and understood God’s vision for lasting love and satisfying relationships. I’ll admit, even though I’ve learned from my ignorant view of love and relationships, there are times that if I’m not careful, I can easily fall into the Merry-Go-Round Method once again.

Let’s take a moment to unpack steps 2, 3 and 4. Infatuation is a big mistake we as single girls tend to make when it comes to dating or even getting to know someone on a friendship level. If you have mentally planned your wedding with the guy, darling, you have officially entered the infatuation stage. That’s not a good thing!

Infatuation is a form of idolatry. You are constantly thinking about this guy, planning your wedding and honeymoon with him in mind, and wondering if what he said or did means anything. Infatuating about a guy will only cause heartache and disappointment when you soon find out he’s just not into you.

Concentrating on our feelings rather than on God’s truth and wisdom is the second mistake we as modern day women commit. We are quick to make decisions based on how we feel instead of taking time to seek wisdom for moving forward in a relationship. Our feelings should not dictate our actions. Our feelings are indicators for searching wise counsel.

The primary goal of the Merry-Go-Round Method, as Bethany and Kristen describe it, “is rooted in and fueled by a desire to please self (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 37).” Rather than bringing God glory, this method is driven by personal happiness. God’s ultimate design for relationships is to bring him honor and glory.

Depending on a man for your personal satisfaction is like drinking coffee on a hot summer day and expecting your thirst to be quenched. No one can truly satisfy us the way Jesus can. The cycle of heartache and devastation will never end unless we change our way of viewing love and relationships. We must choose a Christ-centered approach if we want to see change happen in our love life.

“Who we marry is just as important as why we marry (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 58).” Kristen and Bethany also write about the purpose of marriage and marrying the right guy. Marriage is much more than a wedding date and butterfly feelings. Marriage is about glorifying God and serving Him along with your spouse. Our goal should be to marry a man whom we could serve the Lord effectively. Kristen and Bethany provide the reader with three must-have qualities to look for in a future husband.

#1: Look for a man with VISION

“A man considering marriage doesn’t need to have every single tiny detail of his life together, but he does need to have a vision for where he is going and where he wants to lead you, his wife (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 160).”

#2: Look for a man with PASSION

“Choose to marry a man who is passionate about the Lord now. This is a must-have quality in a future husband (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 161).”

#3: Look for a man with PURPOSE

“Choose to marry a man who understands his God-given purpose (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 162).”

What Kind of Husband Do You Want to Spend the Rest of Your Life With?

“A man whose life is marked by these things and who lives for the Lord is the type of person the Bible regards as wise to marry (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 163).”

Ladies, I can go on and on about what Kristen and Bethany teach us in their book, but I rather have you read it for yourself. Please consider reading this book and allow God to show you his best for your romantic relationships.

You can connect with Kristen and Bethany on their website: girldefined.com

Posted in Faith

A Beautiful Story

What’s your story? Wait! Your story is still being written. Perhaps your story has a beginning, but I assure you the ending is still being written. We all have a story to tell and share with those we encounter throughout the course of our lives. Despite the fact our story is still being written, we have a beginning and a present part of it to share with others. There’s no perfect story, but there is a beautiful one.

Your story is beautiful, not because it has a good beginning, or an amazing present. Your story is beautiful because the author of it is perfect. Every chapter of your life, whether good, bad or ugly, is strategically being incorporated into God’s book of your life. Our life is like a book. The contents of it have been pre-established by God. However, the way we respond and navigate through the chapters of our life will determine how soon we experience our story’s glorious ending.

My story may look A LOT different than yours, and that’s OK. Our lives weren’t created to be similar to the lives of others. How ineffective would that be for humanity? Your story is unique because you are unique, and you can only leave the impact it was designed for you to leave on this earth. So instead of comparing the chapters of your story to the chapters of someone else’s story, celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God in someones current chapter of their life.

Celebrating the victories of others when you’re expecting that same victory for yourself can be extremely difficult. Difficulties as well as challenges and unexpected circumstances enhance the beauty of your story. How? You may ask. Well, to be honest with you, nothing beautiful comes or happens just because. Seriously, can you think of something that is beautiful without it having endured a process?

From food, to clothing or jewelry and anything else you can possibly wear or use, there was a process and detailed steps to become the finished product. Similarly, the journey you are on and everything you encounter or experience is enhancing the beauty of your story. Remember, your story is already beautiful because of the final chapter it promises. The final chapter of your story promises you success, victory, blessings and a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10).

Although the current chapter of your life may not be one of success, victory or satisfaction, there is a chapter worth looking forward to. The final chapter, which will complete the beautiful story God has begun in your life. This chapter will be worth every hardship, scar and disappointment of the previous chapters you’ve come across.

So, my encouragement to you is this, rather than waiting miserably for that glorious chapter to flip its pages into your life, CHOOSE to wait with an expectant and thankful heart. Believe God’s promises for your life. Don’t lose time by not believing. God knows your situation. He knows the current chapter of your life you are living in because he is strategically orchestrating every moment and every aspect of it to bring you to the next chapter of your life.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the confidence of what we hope for and the assurance of what we do not see. What does that mean? It means you believe and trust the process, the journey and every chapter of your life, even when you can’t see the evidence of what you’re hoping for. Don’t lose faith. Faith is what enables you to keep persevering despite the setbacks and challenges.

God always writes a beautiful story from beginning to ending. He’s the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). Don’t let go of your faith yet. Don’t let go ever. Let God have his way in your life (you’ll be glad you did a few chapters later). Let him silence your doubt with hope. Remind yourself that God makes all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). He’s not done with you yet. He knows what’s best for you in every chapter of your life. Trust Him.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, strengthen me to rise above my circumstances. Help me understand that my circumstances do not define my future. My story is beautiful regardless of the good, bad or ugly I’ve experienced up until now and even what is to come. I trust your plans are good and worth every scar, hurt and disappointment. Thank you for the beautiful story you’re writing in me. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.

Side note: I highly encourage you to listen to the song Beautiful Story by The Belonging Co. Be encouraged!