A Return to Destiny

Luke 15:17 NIV
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!

A Return to Destiny
This past weekend I decided to have a relaxing day that consisted of a marathon of one of my favorite childhood sitcoms “A Different World”. I watch re-run after re-run and I can’t seem to get enough of the love story of Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert. They started off as college friends, but as destiny would have it that would later become husband and wife, however it wasn’t an easy route to get there. Their friendship began in college and lead to them dating. After graduation Whitley received a job offer out of state. Dwayne had some uncertainties about their long distance relationship, but as he was about to watch destiny board the train he realized she was the one and proposed. Later in the story as they were preparing for their engagement party Dwayne Wayne began having uncertainties again about his future with Whitley and strayed away by dating another woman. Whitley discovered Dwayne’s feelings and called the engagement off. Whitley was able to move on with her life, met a senator, Mr. Byron Douglas, fell in love, and they became engaged. This entire time Dwayne is still somewhat a part of Whitley’s life as he is on the campaign staff for the senator and he watches as his destiny gets away from him. On the day of the wedding Whitley prepared as normal. She walked down the aisle to meet her groom, Byron, but something happens. Dwayne is back home sick that his destiny is getting away from him. He comes to his senses and decides to attend the wedding. As the vows are being recited Whitley experiences some uncertainty. Dwayne steps in begging her to be his bride. She apologies to Byron, runs from the altar and destiny meets again. Now Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert are finally married as they were destined to be.

As I pondered on this love story I was drawn to the story of the Prodigal Son and how God is a God of second chances. When we stray away from our destiny God has a way of knocking us to our senses to get us to where He desires us to be. Sometimes it takes for us to hit rock bottom first, but God’s ultimate will shall come to pass.

The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31) lived with his father. All of a sudden he decided he wanted his inheritance sooner rather than later. For whatever reason the father decided to give him the money. The Prodigal Son took off from the place that had all that he needed. I can imagine the father was hurt and possibly disappointed by his son’s actions but he still granted his son’s request. Scripture tells us the Prodigal Son went far from home, lived life on the wild side, and blew all of his money. He was broke. To make matters worse the country he moved to experienced a famine meaning there was a scarcity of food and he experienced starvation. Out of desperation he had to secure a job in the pigs pin, but was still unable to eat. The Prodigal Son was starving, lacking, and truly hit rock bottom.

How many of us have been like Dwayne Wayne or the Prodigal Son where we had what we needed in front of us or God has us in the right place, but we abandoned it either for our own self-satisfaction or our own uncertainties in life? Have you ever walked away from a marriage or a relationship only to find that after dating several people that person you walked away from was perfect for you? Have you ever been on a job and wanted to quit, you did quit, only finding that life unemployed was far worse than life on that job you left? Have you ever walked away from your family only to find no one else loves you unconditionally like they do? Have you ever dropped out of school only to find out that the degree program was the key to your future? In life we can walk away from some of the best blessings God has for us only to find out that everything of the world is not for us. As a parent I believe the father knew by giving his son the money in advance that things would not turn out like the Prodigal Son may have thought. As parents sometimes we have to let our children learn lessons the hard way which I believe this is why the father distributed the inheritance early. Likewise, our heavenly father knows that sometimes it takes a storm to get us on track. It takes for us to go into a world wind of confusion or to get knocked down in life for some of us to align with the plans God has for us.

In our focus scripture today, Luke 15:17, we find that the Prodigal Son “came to his senses”. After his rock bottom experience he realized he was starving to death in a foreign country, but in familiar territory his father had all that he needed. At his father’s house there was plenty of food and servants to serve the food. The Prodigal Son came to his senses and went back to where he was supposed to be. The parable teaches us that the father represents God and when we return to God He is a God of second chances. When we return to the father he loves us unconditionally and will still provide everything we need regardless of our faults. He is a forgiving God and only want’s what is best for His children.

The old saying is true “you miss a good thing once it’s gone.” In order for us to come to a place of common sense in our rock bottom experience we have to truly surrender to God and to His will for our lives. We must stay connected to our Lord and savior and rely on his plans for our life and not our plans. Often times circumstances seem strange to us and plans do not unfold as we desire them to, but God’s ways are higher than our ways and God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8) When we find ourselves in a place of uncertainty and not knowing what the future holds it’s important to seek God for the wisdom, knowledge, and guidance we need for us to make choices that would lead us to the Jeremiah 29:11 promises he has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us.

The beauty to the ending of the parable is before the Prodigal Son made it home his father spotted him from a distance and welcomed him back with loving arms and a celebration. The father immediately called out to the servants to bring a ring, a robe, sandals, and a fatted calf for his son. He already had everything waiting on his sons return before the son made it to the door step.

Our heavenly father is so awesome! We’ve all made mistakes and poor decisions in our life. We’ve found ourselves in a place of void knowing that surely God has more for us than where we are at right now. We may have disappointed and hurt some people as a result of our actions. God is so awesome that he is confident we will come to our senses. He already has everything we need and He is just waiting for us to return to where we are supposed to be. Today if you find yourself like Dwayne Wayne or the Prodigal Son, then I challenge you to seek God in your quiet time for clarity and direction so that you too can return to your destiny that is waiting for you and already prepared. Be blessed and be encouraged.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, we thank you for loving us unconditionally. We thank you that you are a forgiving God and a God of another chance. Father, forgive us for the times we’ve gone astray from the plans you had for our lives. Forgive us when we made poor decisions in our places of uncertainty. Forgive us for hurting people in the process of our mess. There may be some people we have to apologize to. Give us the strength to apologize and soften the hearts for those individuals to forgive us. Lord, some of us recognize that we are in rock bottom circumstances right now. We recognize that surely you have more in store for us then this. We recognize there may be people we hurt in the process of our own mess and mishaps. Father we come asking you today for second chances and for you to return us to those places and/or people you desire us to be. Father as we surrender to you today and to your will we pray that the presence of your spirit would hover over us in a powerful way. Lord send forth the spirit of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and counsel that we may know exactly where we are to be and what we are to do. Give us the strength and obedience to follow the plans you have for us and to walk away from our plans that do not line up with your will. Lord we know that whatever you have in store for us is better than anything we could try to do on our own. Help us just to trust you with our future knowing that your ways are always what’s best. We know that you are all powerful and nothing is too difficult for you to repair. We thank you that you are a God of restoration and ask that you would fix every area of our life that we have messed up. Thank you in advance and we ask these things in your precious son Jesus name. Amen.

~Written by Felicia McKnight~

P.S. As I was writing this Feevotional the song, “For Your Glory” by Tasha Cobbs truly ministered to my heart and I pray it will bless you as well. Click here to listen.

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HOLD ON!

Job 6:11 NIV
“What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?”

HOLD ON!
I will publicly admit, “I refuse to get on a roller coaster!” I do not go to amusement parks because I am terrified of those things. You get into the little car or seat depending on the type of ride, then you are strapped in with a safety harness by the amusement park personnel. Once given the green light, the roller coaster slowly creeps up a hill. You can hardly see the peak and without warning you suddenly drop at a high rate of speed, you go through twist and turns, ups and downs, more sudden drops and then finally the speed slows down and you come to a stop. The ride is over. The safety harness miraculously kept you secure through the ride, and you have a racing heart as a souvenir for a two minute roller coaster ride. Whew! Personally I don’t understand the purpose and excitement of the ride and good luck convincing me to get on one.

Unfortunately I don’t have the same option to refuse the roller coaster ride called life. At times we can go through life minding our business and then suddenly and without warning something happens that knocks you down and sends you round and round until you have a breakthrough. Sometimes you may be hit with one issue and other times you have a season of “If it ain’t one thing it’s another.” The trials of life are definitely not fun and there is no thrill in the journey. There are times you won’t understand why you are going through what you go through and you don’t see your way out. The good news is in the trials of life you have a safety harness called “God’s promises” to keep you safe and secure so you do not fall off of the ride.

In our scripture passage today Job asked the same question many of us have asked when life is not looking in our favor, “What strength do I have that I should still hope?” There are times when we go through the storm and we don’t understand the circumstances. There are times we get so knocked down one can’t imagine ever smiling or happy again. It can get rough, painful, and dark, and hope seems far from the imagination. My friends, I am here to remind you today there is a reason to HOLD ON and there is hope.

First, we are not exempt from hard times. 1 Peter 4:12 says “dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you.” John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus suffered a great deal and his last account of suffering was at the cross. Jesus overcame the cross through the power of His resurrection. Through the power of His resurrection He overcame the attack of the enemy and He overcame whatever it is you are going through right now. The scripture says that “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” The things He has left for us are the promises in His Holy Word, the Bible. Whatever you are going through there is a promise, our safety harness, for you to HOLD ON to as you go through the trial of life. John 16:33 says “that you may have peace”. As you meditate and HOLD ON to the promises of God He promises that “you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because you trust in God.” (Isaiah 26:3) As you HOLD ON to your promise you have to trust God that His word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11).

Secondly, when you go through trials you are not alone. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) There is another promise to HOLD ON to, “God saves those crushed in spirit.” When Jesus resurrected He left the power of the Holy Spirit to be with you, to intercede on your behalf and to whisper God’s promises to you. I know there are times we as humans go through things that we no way want to share with others, but tell God and the Holy Spirit. They are a safe place. God wants you to cast all of your worries and anxieties to Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

When you go through trials “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer”. (Romans 12:12) In other words you have so many more blessings in your life to count and to focus on. It’s up to you to write them down, count them one by one, and rejoice over what God has done. You’ve been through trials before and God did not leave you there. Rejoice that if He did it before, then God can do it again! Remain patient. God is not a God of details, so he is not going to send you a text message or a calendar appointment saying “your trial will end on this day.” You don’t know when your breakthrough will come, but HOLD ON to the promise that it will come in God’s appointed time. (Habakkuk 2:3) Continue to pray daily. God hears your prayers. (Psalm 66:19)

“But I don’t have the strength to endure. I have nothing to live for.” (Job 6:11 NLT) You may very well feel like Job in that you do not have the strength to be patient and endure, but HOLD ON to God’s promise that “you can do ALL things through Christ who gives you strength”. (Philippians 4:13) HOLD ON to the promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Your suffering is only temporary. HOLD ON to the promises of 1 Peter 5:10 “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation”. Do you see the hope that you have to HOLD ON to? God will restore you, support you, strengthen you, and give you a firm foundation! HOLD ON to the promises of 2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” There it is again….your troubles are only temporary and what God has for you far outweighs what you are going through in the right now.

In Job 6:11 Job felt like he had absolutely nothing to live for. He cried, pouted, questioned God, and begged God to take His life, but God was not fazed by Job’s depression or temper tantrums. In Job’s depression he had the strength to endure 36 more chapters. In Job 42 God worked all things out for Job’s good. Job HELD ON to his rollercoaster and as a result God restored Job’s fortunes (v.10), God blessed Job and the second half of his life was greater (v.12), and Job lived a long and full life (v.17)

I have had more than I cared to endure of life’s roller coasters. I have been knocked down, blindsided, financial issues, terminated long-term friendships, relationship issues, family issues, heart break, grief, family deaths, but I am a living testimony that I am still standing with joy and peace that no circumstance or human could ever take away. My Romans 8:28 is that I am now able to share my testimony with others and give them light and hope for their roller coaster ride. If my temporary suffering was meant to bring hope into another individuals life then I gladly count it all joy! My dear friend I don’t know how your roller coaster ride will end. I can only assure you that if you HOLD ON to God’s promises and receive his unconditional love and peace that in time your ride will be over. Just HOLD ON!

Prayer
Heavenly Father, we count it all joy when we face many trials knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience. We thank you that patience will have its perfect work, so that we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Lord as we face the challenges of life give us the peace we need, the comfort we need, the support system that we need to endure. We HOLD ON to the hope knowing that all that we are going through will somehow work for our good because we love you. We HOLD ON to the hope that our current circumstance is not the end to our story. We may not see the outcome right now, and we may never know why we had to go through certain trials, but help us to put all of our hope and trust in you that you hear our prayers and will deliver us at the appointed time. Lord, we come lifting all those who are deeply depressed and contemplating suicide because they feel all hope is gone. We pray that you stop their thoughts and plans of suicide right now in the name of Jesus. Overflow these individuals with your unconditional love and hug them with your peace and comfort. Remind them that in you they have everything to live for and nothing to lose. Send your promises our way concerning the matters of our heart that we may have hope to HOLD ON to. Lord, give us the strength to just HOLD ON! We thank you that you hear our prayer and ask all these things in your precious son Jesus name. Amen

Further Reading: Psalm 34 is a scripture passage that brought me hope during times I felt like there wasn’t any hope. Be blessed and be encouraged!

~Written by Felicia McKnight~

So Close You Can See It – Part III

Joshua 3

So Close You Can See It – Part III
In “So Close You Can See It – Part I” we learned that waiting is a time of preparation. We can wait actively on God by preparing for our crossover or in some cases we can wait by being still and trusting in God’s sovereignty. In “So Close You Can See It – Part II” we find in Joshua 3 waiting is a time of consecration. We consecrate ourselves by 1) Repenting from our sins; 2) Spending time with God; 3) Throwing off habits and behaviors that do not align with God; and 4) Surrounding ourselves with supportive and positive people. As we continue through Joshua 3 we find that waiting is a time for God’s miracles.

WAITING IS A TIME OF MIRACLES

Joshua 3:15-17
“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground”

Verses 15-17 remind us that God specializes in impossible and difficult situations. In Joshua 3:1 the Israelites camped out at the Jordan River before crossing over it. Can you visualize sitting at the edge of a body of water? Sometimes you can look across the water and you see something. It may look like trees, buildings, or people. The distance is so far you can see something; however you cannot fully identify all of the details of the objects you are looking at. Often when we are waiting on something we are faced with many challenges and obstacles. We know what God promised us, but things look so fuzzy we feel like the reality does not match the promise. God will place us in a position where we must operate in a place of faith and fully trust Him that what He promised is what we will receive.

During the harvest time season scripture (verse 15) tells us that the Jordan River was overflowing and swollen. This implies that the water was so deep there was no way the Israelites could just walk in or through the water. I can imagine as the Israelites camped out for three days they questioned “How are we going to cross over a river that is at flood stage?” However, they exercised their faith and their feet touched the swollen waters and then God parted them. Did you catch that? They had to step out on faith and in deep water believing that God would work the situation out, and God did! When we face obstacles we have to keep pressing forward knowing that if God promised it to us, then He will make a way for us to overcome any obstacle to get what He has for His children.

In Part I I gave my testimony of my home purchase. When I was ready for home ownership the builder was no longer making The Jefferson floor plans. After searching for a home in other parts of town I stepped out on faith, went back to my desired neighborhood and all of a sudden a Jefferson model was available. I found out in that process that the lady who originally put a deposit on my home all of a sudden had a need to get into a home immediately. She cancelled the contract and moved to a home that was completed within the neighborhood, but on a different street.

There are two lessons we can learn from this part of the testimony. First, from the lady’s perspective sometimes what we want is not always what God has for us. We have to truly submit to God and take our hands off so that He can give us what He desires. Not our will, but God’s will should be accomplished. Second, from my perspective of the testimony when God has a blessing for us tailor made with our name on it nothing and no one can stop you from receiving what God has for you. No matter how hard it looks, no matter who has their hands on your blessing, when God gets ready to release it to you He will part rivers and cancel contracts just so you can have what God promised you. God can do things suddenly and immediately just as he parted the rivers of the Jordan. Reflecting on the story of Job, he knew that in the midst of all of his trials that God can do anything and nothing can stop God (Job 42:2). God indeed showed up in Job’s challenging situation, God showed up in the Israelites situation, and God will show up for you. The blessing is not only what you receive, but the blessing is also in the miracle of how God chooses to allow it to get to you.

Whatever you are dreaming of and believing in God for no matter how challenging the situation may look, keep believing. Dream big, surrender the dream to God, and watch God do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that you can imagine or ask for. Sometimes a situation may become so cloudy that you can’t see the forest for the trees. As you delight in God daily He will give you the wisdom, clarity, and direction you need to cross over into the victorious and abundant life He has for you. While it may be hard to see in the right now you very well may be so close to your blessing that you can see it. Be Blessed and encouraged.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, we thank you that as we delight ourselves in you that you will grant us the desires of our hearts. As we draw closer to you we thank you that you are molding the desires of our heart to reflect your perfect will for our life. As we continue to wait on our appointed time help us to remain in a place of preparation and consecration as we wait on you to move. Show us what we should be changing in our character to be prepared for what you have in store for us. Build us up in a way that we are being formed into your image and likeness daily. Give us wisdom and clarity to show us situations, habits, and people we may need to omit from our lives so that we may be free to receive the abundant life you have for us. Give us the strength and the faith to wait on you and trust that all things are working together for our good. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayers exceedingly, abundantly, above all we could ask or dream of in your appointed time. In Jesus Name. Amen

~Written by Felicia McKnight~

So Close You Can See It – Part II

Joshua 3

So Close You Can See It – Part II

In “So Close You Can See It – Part I” we learned that waiting is a time of preparation. We can wait actively on God by preparing for our crossover. In some cases we can wait by being still and trusting in our sovereign God. As we continue to read through Joshua 3 we also learn that waiting is a time for consecration and reflection.

WAITING IS A TIME FOR CONSECRATION AND REFLECTION

Joshua 3:5
Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”

As we wait on God our waiting period is a time to evaluate who we are and how we are living. It is a time to compare the who we are right now to the who we need to be when we cross over. In verse 5 the command to the Israelites is “to consecrate themselves” while they wait, and the promise is “the Lord will do amazing things among them”. Consecrate means to set apart or to devote or dedicate to a purpose. To set apart means there may be some behaviors, habits, or people you need to let go of. It is a time to separate from common things and focus on the Lord. When God gets ready to do something amazing in our lives we must be completely prepared. Our character and lifestyle needs to match the destiny God has for us. I hear you asking “how can we consecrate ourselves?”

First, we can consecrate ourselves by asking for forgiveness of our sins and repenting from any wrong attitudes, wrong behaviors, wrong thinking, or any unforgiveness. Pray, and ask God to reveal the areas to you that you need forgiveness of. God said in His word, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) Once you receive forgiveness and repent you open the door for God’s miracles in your life.

Second, we can consecrate ourselves by spending time alone with God. If you are not already doing so try to pick a specific time each day to spend with God. Many pastors and authors suggest beginning with 15 minutes a day and increasing as you adjust to your alone time. Be sure to select a time that will not be interrupted. Your time should consist of studying and meditating on God’s word and prayer. One of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” When we seek after God and put Him first He will ensure our needs are met.

Third, we can consecrate ourselves by examining our life. What habits, behaviors, and thoughts do we have that may hinder us from being all that God desires us to be or may be coming in between your relationship with God. As I stated in my testimony in Part I, I worked on my finances. I knew that home ownership was a huge responsibility. I knew that once I became a home owner I could no longer manage finances as I had done so in the past, but it was time to develop new financial habits.

Finally, we can consecrate ourselves by surrounding ourselves with like-minded people. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) There is a popular e-mail that circulates frequently that states “everyone cannot sit on your front row.” As you reflect look at the people in your life. Are they individuals who are building you up or are they tearing you down? Do they bring more heartache and confusion than peace and joy? We want to have people in our lives that can encourage us by speaking words of life to us and praying for us. As we mature in Christ our friendship circles will change. Yes, even long term friendships may fade away. Everyone may not be able to handle where you are going or accept the new creature in Christ you become.

I recently heard Pastor Paula White say “if it’s part of your destiny you can’t lose it and if it isn’t you can’t keep it.” As you wait and consecrate yourself before God reflect on what and who can cross over to the other side of the Jordan River with you. Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Consecration is a time of separation, so if something or someone is a hindrance to you and your future, then let go, so that you are fully prepared for the amazing things God wants to do in your life.

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Ultimately as we wait we are maturing in God. We are being strengthened and renewed into the men and women of God we are called to be. We are blessed as we hunger for God and seek after His ways knowing and trusting that we will receive the desires of our heart according to God’s perfect will. (Matthew 5:6)

I pray you were blessed on today. Next week we will continue with the final point in our study on Joshua 3. Be blessed and be encouraged.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, we thank you for revealing to us the importance of consecration as we prepare and wait to receive the abundant life you have for us. As we spend time with you reveal to us the areas we need to seek forgiveness and repent from so that we can be in the right position for you to bless us. Reveal to us thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, and people that we need to remove from our lives for good. Thank you that as we delight in you and as we wait on you our strength is being renewed daily. In Jesus Name. Amen

~Written by Felicia McKnight~