My Wilderness Heart & His Promises

The children of Israel missed the purpose of the wilderness.  It was meant to perfect them and not destroy them.  When they were delivered from slavery, God led them to the wilderness.  They weren’t meant to stay there forever, it was in preparation for the promised land.  In Deuteronomy 8:2-3, God explains through Moses the purpose of the wilderness.  It was to humble them, to test what was in their heart and to see if they would obey God.  They weren’t prepared to possess the promise, they had to go through a spiritual detox if you will.  The first generation REFUSED to let the wilderness perfect them. They CONSTANTLY complained, lacked faith, refused to obey God, created idols and in many ways flat out rejected God!  Time revealed that the real wilderness was in their heart! 

If we get the promise when we still have a wilderness heart, the promise will prove to be a curse instead of a blessing.  The state of our heart towards God will determine our ability to possess and rightly steward His promises.  What has been your response when going through a wilderness season?  Do you see it for what it is and praise God for perfecting you and preparing you?  Or are you like the children of Israel and constantly complain and refuse to allow God to perform surgery on your wilderness heart?  A promise is on the other side of the wilderness, I encourage you to submit to the process!

James 1:2-4 NLT Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

What Satisfies Your Hunger?

Do I hunger for the bread of heaven or the things of this world?  What I consume the most determines the answer to that question.  If my focus is on gaining more money, status and pleasure from this world, then my diet will reflect that. Most of my time and energy will be spent on feeding my flesh while my spirit man starves.  The things of this world bring temporary satisfaction and it will fade and leave me hungrier than before. However, when I am hungry for more of God, spending time in His presence becomes my main priority.  I don’t make excuses as to why I can’t, I make it happen.  Real hunger births desperation and desperate people are driven to action.  I love that my Jesus responds in a very loud way to people who are desperate for Him; ask Blind Bartimaeus and the Woman with the issue of blood. Truth is, I become satisfied and never hunger again when I continually feast on Jesus, the bread of life.

The ongoing question we must all ask ourselves is, “Am I willing to deny myself the “bread” of this world so that I may feast on the bread of life?”  What’s your answer?

John 6:35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Eat All Of It. Mathew 4 Bible Study

In Mathew 4 Jesus was extremely hungry because He had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. The devil tried to take advantage of Jesus’ vulnerable state and tempted Him to turn stone into bread to satisfy His hunger. Jesus responds to the devil that man should not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mathew 4:4). Notice Jesus didn’t say we should live on SOME of the word but ALL of it! Many only want to feast on the feel-good parts of the word of God; quick to get the dessert and would rather skip over the meat and potatoes so to speak. Without hesitation, we gobble down scriptures that tell us that God is going to prosper us. We push off our plates the parts that admonishes us to bear good fruit and the warnings that follow. We want to feast on passages that tells us He will protect us from our enemies,  but are hesitant to eat the parts that tells us about the consequences of our sin and the fact that followers of Christ will suffer.  However, to be fully nourished spiritually, we must take heed to Jesus’ statement in Mathew 4:4 and EAT all the word!

 

Creative Devotion With Children

I normally get up before the children to have my quiet time with the Lord. Then later when I have devotion with them, I share what I studied in my devotional time. I love this approach because it gives me an opportunity to teach what I just learned, which further solidifies the lesson for me.

In this post, I shared the insights I received from reading the genealogy of Jesus in Mathew 1 during my personal devotion. When it was time to have devotion with the children on the same topic, I took a more creative approach. I believe it is important to encourage the children to get a deeper understanding of scripture, but this process doesn’t have to be boring!
After reading Mathew 1:1-17 as a group, I divided the children into groups of two. I assigned each group one indivi dual that was mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. Each group had to read a passage of scripture that gave more details about their assigned individual. For example, group 1 was assigned Ruth and they were asked to read the entire book of Ruth since it is short. Group 2 had Jacob and they read Genesis 27. The 3rd and final group got David and read 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12. Each group was given 30-40 mins to read their assigned passage and then come up with a creative way to present what they learned to the large group. One group wrote a rap, the other two did a dramatic presentation with props, and drew pictures to retell the story. This helps them to learn in different ways and helps to break up the monotony of devotion. It helps that my voice is not the only voice that they hear, and they are given some “ownership.” The movement also helps the younger ones to not check out. Also, when the children present what they just learned, this helps me to assess if they have really grasped what they read. The children really enjoy this approach to devotion and thinking outside the box. I would love to hear from you, what are creative ways that you have devotion with your children?

Be Blessed,
Anika

 

But God! Mathew 1 Bible Study

I was never one to pay attention to genealogies in the bible because they bored me. However, my perspective is changing as I continue to study the bible and learn more about the different characters. For example, as my knowledge continues to grow, I get excited about the genealogy in Mathew 1. I see so many, “But God,” examples in this passage. Allow me to explain.
I see names like Rahab who WAS a prostitute.
Jacob who WAS a deceiver.
Ruth who WAS a pagan.
The key word is WAS. These people had a marred past BUT GOD!
But God forgave them.
But God used them for His glory.
Their past did not hinder God from using them and ultimately changing them! I love this because I am living this truth. My life is a continuous ‘BUT GOD’ testimony!
It’s not your past mistakes that disqualifies you. Instead, its your decision to continue in those mistakes and not come to the one who is able to make all things new…again and again!
I would love to hear from you. Do you have a “But God” testimony? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Be Blessed,
Anika

2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

They Got On My Nerves And God Gave Me A Hug

I had an awesome Mother’s Day. I really did. I was feeling warm and fuzzy inside and was just so grateful to be a mother.

HOWEVER, the warm and fuzzes disappeared yesterday. I mean all the way disappeared. I was trying to process some not so good news that I received in the morning. Then my children worked my already worked nerves. Praise God for the grace to not yell like a mad woman, instead I lifted my heart to God in prayer. After the kids left for school, I prayed and cried some more. I was so exhausted midday that I decided to take a nap. Ten minutes into my nap, the doorbell rang…3 times! I was not happy. Reluctantly I got out of bed and looked through my bedroom window and saw the vehicle of a sweet friend that attends our church.  I yelled out the window and told her I was coming down. When I opened the door, she handed me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I asked her what they were for and she told me no reason. She smiled, gave me a hug and then left. I took the flowers and went and sat on my couch and cried. Even though she didn’t know all that was going on, she was on assignment to give me flowers and a hug from my heavenly Father.

I was so overwhelmed by the love and concern of God. In that moment He ministered to me and let me know that my tears and prayers that I prayed that morning did not go unnoticed. He saw and heard me. Only a true and living God can do that. I continue to be absolutely amazed at how He ministers to me in such personal ways. His love for me is mind blowing. It makes me want to serve Him even more! Be encouraged, God hears your prayers and sees your tears.

Psalm 34:18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.