Archives for posts with tag: Blindness Challenge

O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly, (Psalm 5:1-3, NLT).

Day 21—We made it. Wow! What a journey this past three weeks has been. In the beginning of the challenge, I told you that one of the primary reasons why I started this challenge was in response to story about a pastor who after a yearlong journey of “living without God” decided that He was now an atheist. I wanted to challenge myself and my readers to see what life looked when we actively pursued God. So what did we learn?

The first thing that we probably discovered was that life is not easy. In Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus told His disciples, “’Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul,’” (NIV).

The Message translation puts it this way:

“’Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’”

The moment that we decided to embark on this challenge, the devil got busy. There were obstacles and roadblocks that attempted to make our journey difficult. However, here is what I learned. Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world, (1 John 4:4). In John 16:33, Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world,” (NLT).

The name of Jesus is greater than any other name in this world, (Philippians 2:9). The name of Jesus is greater than death, Satan, sickness, sadness, fear, debt, worry, loneness, anger, and the list goes on and on.

As I officially close this 21-day challenge, I issue this lifetime challenge. Embrace the verses in Psalm 5:1-3:

O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly, (Psalm 5:1-3, NLT).

Know that God is not deaf to our prayers. Psalm 6:9 says “The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer,” (NLT). The verse does not says that God might answer our prayers. It said that He WILL answer our prayers. Today, know that as we wait patiently on God’s answers to manifest, the answer is already waiting in the wings.

Lord, more than 2000 years ago, you sent your one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die for all our transgressions. Lord, we thank you. We thank you for your mercy and your deliverance. On Jesus’ final moments on the cross He spoke the final words that confirmed our destiny on Earth and in Heaven. Jesus’ final words were: It is finished! Lord, thank you that everything that has ever been promised to us has already been delivered since before the beginning of time. Lord, we thank you that IT IS FINISHED!

This is what the Lord says:  ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future.  They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. ‘But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.  Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.  Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit, Jeremiah 17:5-8, NLT.

A few days ago, I came across the above scripture while reading my devotional.  It really got me thinking.  Where is my trust?  In whom do I place my confidence?  Is it truly in God, or is it in man?

The Bible says that God will open doors in our lives that no one can shut (Revelation 3:8).  This does not mean that God does not use people as His vessels.  It simply means that the opportunities we seek are not man’s to bestow.  No man can give us our “big breaks.”  Again, this doesn’t mean that God does not give us favor with people in high positions.  It simply means that our destiny is not contingent upon another man’s approval, or disapproval.  This should be a relief for many of us.  Here is why.  David said it best in 1 Chronicles 17:27: “For when you grant a blessing, O Lord, it is an eternal blessing,” (NLT)!  When God says yes, the answer is YES!  He does not lie, and He does not change His mind, (Number 23:19).

You and I have to start to refocus our thinking.  The opportunities that we are awaiting are not going to come from our bosses, company executives, publishing companies, television directors or anyone for that matter.  It will come from God only.  He might use those people as His vessels.  He might not.  For example, God could promote you at work, and never include your boss in the process.  God could have you write a book or score a film and never go through conventional channels.  Yes, there will be people involved in each step of the way because we do not live in an isolated world.  However, the opportunity will come from God and God alone.

I believe that once we recognize that only God controls or destiny, we will stop tiptoeing around people and their opinions.  The Bible says, “The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me,” (Psalm 118:6, NLT)? The answer is nothing.

Today, as we round the bend of our 21-day challenge, I say that we focus more on pleasing God than pleasing others. Once we aim to please God, we would have done right by man. This does not mean that man will always be pleased with us, it just means that we have done the best that we could. That’s all we can do!

Today’s prayer:

Lord, we thank you that whenever you grant a blessing, it is an eternal blessing. We thank you for who you are. We honor your name. Thank you for each person reading this prayer today. Lord, please bless every heart’s desire. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Have you ever wondered whether it (whatever it may be) was all worth it? Well, you are in good company. During the middle of John the Baptist’s deepest pain, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus whether or not He (Jesus) was the chosen one. Essentially, John the Baptist wanted to know whether the sacrifices and the choices he made were all worth it (Luke 7:18-35, NLT).

James 1:5-8 says:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

These verses tell us that we should:

  1. Ask God for what we want.
  2. Don’t waiver.
  3. KNOW that we have received what we have asked for.

I know today that there are people right now who are struggling with their faith in God. You feel like you have made sacrifices. You have trusted God. You have stepped out on faith, but you still have not seen what it is that you have believed for. I ask that you just hold on. Apply the formula found in James 1:5-8.

  1. Ask God for what you want.
  2. Don’t waiver.
  3. KNOW that you have received what you have asked for.

Early in the Book of Genesis, a great flood washed over the earth. Noah and all the animals were weathering the storm aboard the ark. It must have felt like the storm was not going to relent. I wonder if Noah ever questioned whether he would survive the flood. I wonder if Noah questioned whether God had forgotten about him.

During the greatest storms in our lives, it is easy for us to think that God has forgotten about us. Thankfully, He does not forget. Genesis 1:8 says, “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede,” (NLT).

Just know that God has not forgotten us and left us to fend for ourselves in the storm. At just the right time, He will cause the tides to recede and to relent.

Today, I pray that your floodwaters will recede and that God will answer your prayers. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

One of my favorite books growing up was “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” by Judy Bloom. I love the sentiment of the title. It’s a question that we have all asked God.

Today, we ask: Are you there God? It’s me, (insert your name). In our fallen world it’s easy to question God’s whereabouts. There are so many social and political issues that overwhelm the news. It’s easy to wonder if God cares about His World–If He cares about you. Why is God so seemingly quite?  Are you there God? It’s me! That seems to be the cry of a generation.

One of the Scriptures that God laid on my heart a few days ago was John 29:20. “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Many of the daily occurrences in our fallen world serve to challenge our belief in God’s existence.  Sometimes, if we look through the lenses of our natural eyes, we might be inclined to question whether or not God cares about His people. We might even ask ourselves, “Why should God care about us? We are just mere men.” Fortunately, the Bible reminds us that God does care about His creation.  Psalms 8:4-6 says:

 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet, (KJV).

God cares so much about the intimate details of our lives that He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.

Our finite knowledge cannot begin to explain the things of God. I don’t know why God sometimes appears silent when we need Him the most. I don’t really know whether He is, silent, that is. Maybe we miss His voice that sometimes comes in a whisper. The nature of these questions are too complex for me. However, I do know this. Gideon asked for a sign of God’s favor, and he got it. David asked for protection, and his enemies fled. The woman with the issue of blood needed health and was healed when she touched the hem of Jesus’ clothing. What do you need? Shout it from the rooftop. Scream His name! Petition His promises! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Are you there? It’s me!

Today’s Prayer: Lord, we come to you with hearts surrendered. Are you there? It’s me. Lord, hear our heart’s cry. Lord, show us your unrelenting love. Give us a sign like you did for Gideon. Today, we ask that you show us a sign of your awe and might. Lord, grant us protection as you did for David. Make our enemies our footstools. Heal our bodies like you did for the woman with the issue of blood. Lord, we thank you, and we bless you. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Yesterday, I watched an episode of House Hunters International where a young, American woman from Maryland made preparations to move to Paris to pursue a career as a nutritionist. As she searched for an apartment in and around the big city, her realtor constantly told her that in order to achieve her dream of living in a Parisian-style apartment that fit into her budget, she would have to make some compromises. Ultimately, she reminded her that, “You can’t have it all.”

The realtor’s words got my wheels turning. How many of these catchphrases have we embraced and taken as truth? Who says we can’t have it all. I believe that this saying and many other catchphrases of its kind are lies the devil told to keep us confined by the walls of mediocrity. If God said it, we can do it, and we can have it. This made me think. What other lies have the devil told and disguised them as aphorisms?

1. You can’t have it all.
2. No good deeds go unpunished.
3. All good things must come to an end.
4. Nice/Good guys/gals finish last.
5. It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. No, it’s not over until God says it’s over.
6. The devil’s in the details.

The Bible says that the power of life and death lies in the tongue. We have to be cognizant of the things we say because they sow the seeds for what we will eventually believe and become.

Today’s Prayer:
Lord, we stand on the Word of God. We declare what it says. We speak life into our dreams. We thank you, and we praise your name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires,” (Psalm 37:4, NLT).

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Numbers 29:19, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through,” (NLT)?  Let’s just take a moment to breakdown that verse.

  1. God is not a man
  2. God does not lie.
  3. Man is known to lie.
  4. Since God is not man, He does not lie.
  5. God is not human.
  6. Humans are known to change their mind.
  7. Since God is not human, He does not change His mind.

**The answers to the rhetorical questions asked in Numbers 29:19 are found in the beginning of the verse!

  1. Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
    1. Since God does not lie, He cannot fail to act.  Failure to act would mean going back on His word, which would mean lying.  Since God does not lie, He has to act.
  2. Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
    1. Since God does not change His mind. He has to carry through His promises.  Failure to carry through a promise would mean that He changed His mind, and the verse tells us that He does not change His mind.

One of my favorite sayings about the Bible come from a Pastor by the name of Joseph Prince.  He says that Scripture should always answer Scripture.  My interpretation of that quote is: Truth should always answer the truth.  The Bible says, “Do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world,” (1 John 4:1, NLT). In other words, the truth will always be verified by itself. A lie can never be verified by the truth, it can only be discredited or disproven. So with that said, we will use Number 29:19 to confirm Psalms 37:4.

God is not a man so He does not lie. Psalms 37:4 says that if we take delight in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart.  Since God does not lie, if we take delight in Him, He WILL give us the desires of our hearts.  If we have not seen God fulfil the desires of our hearts, the questions become:

  1. Are we taking delight in the Lord?
  2. Do we know our heart’s desires?
    1. Are we looking in the right places?

Speaking of Scripture answering Scripture, Philippians 2:13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him,” (NLT).   If we are taking delight in God, we never have to worry if our desires are from Him or from our own accord.  For example, we would never have to wonder whether a desire to kill another human is from God or not.  Delighting ourselves in God would mean reading our Bible, which would tell us that killing is wrong and would not delight God.  Therefore if we are seeking God with all our heart, and truly trusting in Him, most likely, our desires have been set there by Him.  I say most likely because each of us must have a dialogue with God to determine whether or not our desires are from Him.

What I am about to say next is based on my own experiences.  Nonetheless, I do believe that most people could relate.  Taking delight in God isn’t usually where most of us fall short.  Our lack of manifestation usually results from a loss of faith and hope.  I believe that at some point we have allowed the stresses and the weight of life  to steal our joy.  Remember when we were children.  Back then, we thought anything was possible.  However, with each disappointment, we have become more and more jaded and we scale back on the scope of our dreams.  In the process, we have lost sight of our heart’s desires.  I believe that we have to go back to the drawing board and re-determine what our hopes and desires are.  If we don’t know what they are, the likelihood of us receiving them is slim.  James 4:2 says, ‘Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it,” (NLT).  Yes, we have to ask God for what we want!  However that’s only half the story.  The full verse in context reads:

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure, (James 4:1-4, NLT).

Again, this is another example of Scripture answering Scripture.  If we take delight in the Lord, He will give us the desires of OUR hearts, not our neighbor’s heart.  However, we have to make sure that our desires are what we want, not what we covet.  We shouldn’t want something just because someone else has it.  Also, we have to ensure that our motives are correct.  For example, it’s not wrong to want the latest, “baddest” car.  Our desire for wanting a great ride is not inherently bad, but if our sole reason for wanting the vehicle is to show off or to make others jealous, then we might want to check our motives.

My challenge today is this: We need to go back to the drawing board and really revisit our heart’s desires.  What were our childhood dreams?  If we could do or have anything in the world, what would that dream look like?  If we are walking with God and we still haven’t seen the manifestation of our dream, maybe we have to redefine our dreams.  If our dreams aren’t clearly defined in our heads, how would we even recognize them if God were to give them to us right now?  Habakkuk 2:2-3 says, “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. 3 This vision is for a future time.  It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed,’” (NLT).  God is a God of order.  He does things in due time and due season.  However, we always have to make sure that the holdup is not on our end.

Today’s prayer:

Lord, we come before you knowing that you are not a man or a human, so you do not lie and you do not change your mind. We ask that as we delight in you that you will grant us the desires of our heart. Lord, we also ask today that you remind us what it feel like to dream. Remind us what if felt like when we believe that we could do anything or be anyone. We thank you. We bless you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

© 2015 Khadine Alston.  All Rights Reserved.  Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Today (January 19, 2015), in America, our country will pay homage to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In August, we will commemorate the 52nd anniversary of his revolutionary I Have a Dream speech.

Revelation 22:13 says that God is Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end. However, we are but a mist, (James 4:14). God’s purpose for our lives spans far beyond our final breath. When Dr. King said that he had a dream that all men and women would enjoy the inalienable rights granted to them by God, I do not think that he could have possibly imagined the magnitude of its impact. The revelation of his dream did not simultaneously manifest. The unveiling of the layers has taken years, and the layers are still unfolding. Indeed, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways, (Isaiah 55:8-9).

As we move into Day 15, I challenge you to press into God. There are dreams on your heart that are so ridiculously impossible, that only the mighty power of God can bring them into fruition. Many of the dreams that God has placed on your heart are so big that it will take a generation to bring them to completion. But tonight I charge that God will give you victory in the mighty name of Jesus. You will ignite the flame of the torch. God will use you to accomplish great things.

Lord, I speak prophetically over every single person reading this page, in the name of Jesus Christ. Lord, I plea the blood of Jesus over every person, every home, every town, every city, and every village. I pray that just as the death angels in the book of Exodus (Exodus 12:12-13) passed over the houses that were anointed by the blood, no harm will become those who have been anointed by the blood of Jesus Christ. I pray that all strongholds and familial curses will be broken. I pray that every person reading this page will stand on the Word of God. Lord, I pray that men and women will begin to walk into their destiny. Lord, I pray that the people of God will begin to impact a generation for Christ. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!

Relationship Checklist Pic

So many of us have such a clear idea of what we want in a friend or a romantic companion.  But, how do we compare to that list?

Today marks the fourteenth day of our 21-day Challenge.  The purpose of this challenge is for us to fearlessly trust God for 21 days.  A big part of trusting God requires us to take a look at ourselves.  Over the past few days, I have blogged about different topics in an attempt to challenge our perspective.  Today, I want to challenge all of us, myself included, to be the person on our relationship checklist.

Many of us, at some point, have asked God to bless us with relationships, whether platonic or romantic.  We want God to bring the “perfect” people into our lives, but we have not taken stock as to whether or not we are that person we are praying for.  We have to remember that we are not the only ones with wants and needs.  Other people have the same prayerful expectation of the people that they want God to bring into their lives.  Perhaps, we need to spend today determining what our expectations of relationships are and comparing ourselves to that list.  Below is a sample checklist and some ideas of how we can check ourselves against that list.

Relationship checklist:

  • God Fearing
    • How is your relationship with God?  How is your relationship with other people?
    • “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see,” (1 John 4:20, NLT)?
  • Generous/Kind
    • Do you share your resources (i.e. your time, your money, your belongings)?
  • Trustworthy/Has integrity
    • How do you act when no one is looking?
  • Thoughtful/Understanding
    • When was the last time you did something “just because?”
    • Even something as simple as sending a text to say “hello” could mean the world to someone else.
  • Forgiving
    • Do you hold a grudge, or do you let things slide?
  • Patient
    • Do you understand that others might not be as quick on the uptake as you, and therefore, it takes them longer to get things that might take you a shorter time?
  • Good listener
    • Do you actively listen, or are you always waiting for a pause in the conversation to initiate your turn to talk?
  • Caring
    • Can you see past other people’s shortcomings?
    • How do you treat others who aren’t your friend?
    • How do you treat people you don’t like?
  • Loving
    • How do you talk to and about people?
    • Are you quick to judge and point out other people’s faults?
  • Even-tempered
    • Are you quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, (James 1:19).

I am so grateful for those of you who have gone the distance with me on this challenge.  It truly has been a remarkable experience.  Even though we haven’t quite reached our 21-day mark, I have learned so much about God and myself in the process.  I’d like to share with you some of the things that I have learned.

  • When all is said and done, and everyone has left, the only one left standing is God.
    • “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” (Proverbs, 18:24, NIV).  God is the only one who will ever love us unconditionally.  He knows our strengths, our weaknesses, and our shortcomings, yet He chooses to love us anyway.  We can talk to Him about anything without fear of judgment.  He keeps our secrets.  He is trustworthy.  Most of all, He is the only one with the power to deliver us from our circumstances.
  • Don’t let other people disqualify you from the race that God has set forth for you.
    • Sometimes the people in our lives can’t see beyond our lives, ours pasts, our shortcomings and our aptitude to recognize our calling.  The truth is, it isn’t their place to validate God’s plan.  Oftentimes, people who bash others are acting out of their own insecurities.  More times than not, jealousy is at the root.  There are people in our lives who want to dictate how, when and if God should bless us.  Thankfully, our future is not their call.
    • Not everyone on our team is our fan.  Remember Jesus, the Son of God?  Even He faced skepticism about his calling from the very people around Him.  According to Jesus, “no prophet is accepted in his own hometown,” (Luke 4:24, NLT).
  • Be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). 
    • Our attempt to fill silence with useless chatter could be our biggest downfall.  If we would just listen to what people are saying, and not saying, we would know who people are long before they have the opportunity to show us.
  • Sometimes, relationships run their course.  
    • We are not God.  We cannot save everyone.  As difficult as it might be, we have to learn to step back and allow God to do His work in others as He did in us.  We should remember that everyone does not run life’s race at the same pace.  Our efforts to allow others to catch up with us could very well be the thing that is slowing us down.
  • Letting go is really just that. 
    • A few years ago, I took swimming lessons at the YMCA.  The very first thing that they taught us was how to float.  I was very fearful of the water.  My fear made learning VERY difficult.  Every time the instructor told us to release our bodies in the water, I couldn’t.  I always had to have one foot touching the bottom of the pool.  I think that is how many of us live our spiritual lives.  God tells us to cast ALL our burdens on Him, yet we have a Plan B.  We half-heartedly follow His instructions just in case He fails.  My friend, that’s not faith.  That’s fear.  Letting go means that both feet must come off the ground.
  • Trust your Holy Spirit. 
    • Some people call the voice in the back of our heads instinct, but I choose to call it the Holy Spirit.
  • Surround yourself with eagles.
    • The Bible says iron sharpens iron, Psalm 27:17.  The only way that you and I are ever going to maximize our full potential is by surrounding ourselves with likeminded people.

As we move into Day 11, one of the greatest piece of advice I have is, “Just say no!”

Not every good thing is worth doing. While an activity or a deed might be inherently good, it doesn’t mean that we have to do it. We have to prioritize our time and make sure that we are spending it appropriately. One of the reasons that I believe that many of us are not further along on our path is because we keep getting distracted by peripheral events. Sometimes, we just have to say “no.”

We cannot spend our lives being people pleaser. There is only one of us, and there is only a finite amount of activities that we can do in a given day. At some point, saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. It is important that we take stock and evaluate to whom and to what we say yes and no to. Before I move on, I have to say this. In love and friendship, there will be times where we have to deny ourselves to help others. If we have never sacrificed ourselves (e.g. our time, our support, our money, etc.) for some else’s benefit, then we are selfish and probably not a good friend. Sorry. It’s true! With that being said, we have to weigh the amount of times we say no to ourselves against the amount of time we say yes to others. If we are constantly saying no to ourselves by constantly appeasing others, that is a gross imbalance. At that point, we have to re-shift our priorities. People who love us will understand when we occasionally say no. If they don’t, that is their problem and not ours.

In order to be where God needs us to be and not stretch ourselves too thin, we have to determine what is important. Even in the church, I see people stretching themselves thin because someone guilted them into a ministry that God never assigned them to. While serving in Sunday School and singing on the choir are all good things, it might not be the right thing for everyone. We don’t have to pursue every good thing. That’s why there are billions of people on the Earth. Each person is called to do something specific. For our happiness, wellness, and sanity, we have to learn to say no.

Today’s Prayer: Father, give us discernment regarding the things that we spend our time on. Give us the courage to say no to the things that waste our time or the things that are sent to distract us from our assignments. Also, give us the courage and the strength to pursue the things that you have laid on our hearts. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!