The Wait Is Almost Over

The Wait Is Almost Over
Written by Felicia McKnight

Genesis 8:6-12 NIV
After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

Have you ever had a season in your life where you had to wait? Maybe you are like me and in the waiting room of life right now. You are believing in God for some things and have prayed until you ran out of things to pray about yet you had to wait? God sent you through a storm before the blessing. The storm refined you, purified you, and/or prepared you for what God was about to bless you with. Once the storm was over you thought that God was about to release what he promised into your life, but he had you wait again. Am I hitting home with anyone?

This is exactly what happened with Noah in the book of Genesis. Noah was a righteous man who lived during a time of corruption. God decided he would destroy the earth but save Noah and two of each living creature.

“I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.“ (Genesis 6:17-18)

“Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” (Genesis 7:4)

God informed Noah of what was about to happen and He gave Noah specific instructions of how he was to get through the storm he was about to encounter. Many times God will send us through a storm, but He will not tell us how long. He may give us specific instructions on what to do along the way. Our obedience to do what God tells us to do is the key to getting out of the storm at the appointed time. In Genesis God was gracious enough to inform Noah that it would rain for forty days and forty nights. I couldn’t help but to think if I were Noah how I would handle this situation. Prayerfully I would operate in a place of obedience by getting into a position of faith and trust God to do what He said he would do over the next forty days. Personally, I would have thought that once night forty was over I could hop off of the boat and life was back to normal and time to be fruitful and multiple, but that was not the case. When I go back and re-read the passage all God said was that it would rain forty days and forty nights. He did not say when they could get off of the boat. Although the storm was over Noah still had to wait for the promise of the covenant to come to pass.

As I was reading this passage of scripture in the story of Noah I was reminded that God will send us through storms to get to the promises He has for us. Although the actual storm may be over there is still a period of waiting on the promise. Noah was in a period I refer to as “In Between Blessings.” He was blessed to survive coming out of a forty day flood and was waiting on the waters to recede so he could live a normal life again. Noah was waiting for His breakthrough to get off the boat and waiting for God to fulfill his promise of survival to them.

“But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” (Genesis 8:1)

Being in between blessings can have its challenges. You’ve already had to go through tough times and you don’t know how much longer until you receive your breakthrough. The storm is over however there are some remnants of it that remain. Your energy is drained. Your hope is almost gone. You’ve cried and prayed all you can pray. You have to muster up more strength to get over the last few hurdles and to the finish line. The good news is God does not forget and He remembers all of us. Noah had a dove that he kept sending out to check on the water. Each day the water went down little by little. While Noah was waiting God was preparing the earth again. While we are waiting God is preparing us and all people and components that play a part in our destiny. Just like Noah kept sending the dove out to check on the circumstances often times God is gracious enough to send us blessings that relate to what we are waiting on to let us know he has not forgotten about us, and that He is working behind the scenes for what He has in store.

I know there is someone reading this today that is like me. We are in a long season of waiting. It can often be a time of uncertainty, fear, and frustration not knowing what God is up to. Things seem long and crazy. Noah may not have understood a thing that was happening. All He knew is that God established a covenant with him and that He would eventually get off of the ark. Just like Noah trusted God would fulfil his word for Noah and his family’s survival we have to trust God to be faithful to the word and promise He has given us for our personal life. No matter what the situation looks like right now, no matter how long it is taking God is faithful. “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Some of us are in the phase of “in between blessings”. Praise God we survived the storm and rejoice for what is on the way. Although you or I are not where we desire to be we can rejoice that we are not where we were. We survived the bad stuff. Whew! Hallelujah! Be encouraged today and know the wait is almost over!

Prayer
Heavenly Father, we thank you that we’ve survived the storm. We may not be at the point we’ve been praying for and believing in you for, but we praise you that you have sustained us and kept us thus far. Some of us have grown tired and weary as we wait. Some of us have little strength. Some of us our faith started off big but it has been reduced to the size of a mustard seed. Some of us are on the verge of giving up on hope. Today I lift up every reader who falls into this category asking that you would renew our strength and restore our faith. Just like Noah had a dove I pray that you send us a sign and gleam of hope of things to come. Something that will strengthen us and remind us that you are at work, that you’ve heard our prayer and that you have not forgotten about us. Lord today we need just a gentle personal reminder that the wait is almost over. We thank you that you are at work behind the scenes. We thank you that you are causing all things to work out for the good. We give you all glory, honor, and praise. We rejoice that what you are working on is bigger than what we could have ever asked you for or imagined in our life. To God be the glory. In Jesus Name. Amen

Love As God Loves

Love As God Loves
Written by Felicia McKnight

Matthew 22:39
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

God has given us two commandments in the New Testament. Last week we discussed the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:37-38) The second part of that commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)

In order to know how to love your neighbor you first have to explore and master loving yourself. If I were to ask you to make a list of what you like about yourself and what you dislike about yourself what would you list? Which side would be greater, the likes or the dislikes? It’s amazing how we can sit down to complete a task like this and many will find all the negative things wrong verses the positive things that are right. We all have flaws and quirks and areas we need to work on, but we also have some great things about us. We all have been through some things and done some things we are ashamed of, but we also have some amazing things to brag about.

Sometimes that list of negatives can cause us to look down on ourselves and make us feel less than who we really are. The enemy will cause us to dislike ourselves when our mind goes to that negative place. The good news is “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV). When Jesus died on the cross as each nail was hammered so was your guilt and shame. God is a forgiving God that has wiped away all of your sins and remembers them no more when you receive His forgiveness. If God can forgive you then you have no choice but to forgive yourself and let go of all guilt and shame. When you look at the negatives remember that God said in His word that you are the apple of His eye. If God thinks this about you, then surely you can think it of yourself. (Zechariah 2:8) I encourage you in your quiet time today to reflect on yourself and dwell on the amazing, wonderful, person that you are. Love on and encourage yourself. Leave a love note for yourself as a reminder that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

Loving yourself is to see yourself as God sees you. When you see yourself as God sees you, then you are able to establish loving your neighbor as yourself. You love your neighbor as yourself by seeing them as God sees all of us and loves all of us.

Because of our human nature loving your neighbor has its challenges. When you love as God loves you have to be able to see people for who they really are the good and the bad? God loved us while we were yet still sinners. (Romans 5:8) Despite the bad, can you love them anyway? Our neighbors will hurt us from time to time and not respond to us in a loving way, but how many times have we hurt and disappointed God? He still loves us anyway. He still forgives us anyhow. Can you still love your neighbor in spite of?

Love is not always challenging and at times it can be very easy to love thy neighbor. It is a blessing to have loving, caring individuals in our life who show love to us. These are the special people that we should always cherish and let them know from time to time how much they are appreciated.

Happy love month! Be Blessed and Encouraged!

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for the greatest gift, LOVE. Thank you for choosing us and loving us first. Strengthen us to look beyond our faults and to love ourselves as you love us. As we love our selves more and more strengthen us to love our neighbors as you desire us to love them. Give us the strength to operate in a place of obedience and LOVE. In Jesus Name. Amen

Loving Him With All of Me

Loving Him With All of Me
Written by Felicia McKnight

Matthew 22:37-38
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Last week we focused on the love that God has for us. He loved us so much that He gave up His one and only son for us on the cross. How do you love someone back who gave up such a great sacrifice for you? Jesus tells us we love God back by loving Him with all of who we are: our heart, our soul, and our mind.

Inside this body of ours lies our soul which is made up of our mind, will, and emotions. This is the part of us where our choices are made and where the sanctification of God in our lives takes place.
Our Mind – What we think.
Our Will – What we choose.
Our Emotions – What we feel.

We have choices in each of these areas in our lives. By loving God with all of us we have to consider some things.

In our mind, are our thoughts pleasing to God?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

In our will, are we making choices pleasing to God? Are we demanding our will to be done or are we allowing God’s will to be done in our lives?
“I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:30)

In our emotions, do they line up with the word of God?
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

To love God with all of who we are is to give God all of who we are. We have to surrender every part of us to our Heavenly Father. We have to die to ourselves daily. “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) It is certainly not an easy task to do and is a process to surrender all to God. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (1 Corinthians 4:16) God still loves us anyway whether we have it all together or not. God gave up so much for our salvation and a relationship with him. In return we can make daily attempts to honor His greatest commandment by loving Him back with all of us. When we can align the way we think, choose, and feel with God, then we are honoring Him, but loving Him with all of us. Be blessed and encouraged.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us so much that you gave up your only son. Give us the wisdom and the strength to die to our flesh daily that we may be pleasing to you by fulfilling your greatest commandment to love you back with all of our heart, mind, and soul. In Jesus Name. Amen

A Special Gift – To: YOU – From: God

A Special Gift – To: YOU – From: God
Written by Felicia McKnight

John 3:16 Amplified
For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

Well, 2014 seems to be moving right along. It is now February also known as the love month. This means I see the word “Valentine” plastered everywhere along with red and pink hearts and Xs and O’s symbolic for affection. Everyday my e-mail inbox has been filled with e-mails saying “Gifts to Get Him or Her” or “Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas.” As I scrolled through each e-mail I had a light bulb moment that during this time we tend to express our love towards those special people in our lives by purchasing special gifts.

Our scripture today reminds us that God loved us so much that He gave a special gift for each one of us. It is one gift that all can benefit from. We didn’t have to hint around to God what love gift we desire of Him. Before God formed the foundation of this world He knew there was a special gift He would have to give each one of us to demonstrate His love for us. That gift is the death of His only son Jesus Christ on the cross. For those of us who are Christians (we believe in Jesus Christ and have received Him as our Lord and Savior), this special gift saved us from the pits of hell, death, and separation from God. This gift didn’t just accomplish saving us from death, but it is a gift that keeps on giving. This is not an annual gift. Matter of fact time is not a factor with this gift. It never runs out or gets old or tarnishes. It is a gift that promises us eternal life with our Heavenly Father. This gift is not just for me and it is not just for you. It is not for us to keep tucked away in the safe or a jewelry box. It is a gift that God desires to share with all who will believe in Him. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

With some gifts you may get in an argument with your spouse or significant other and decide not to gift them anything at all on Valentine’s Day. This gift from God is so special that it doesn’t matter how we’ve acted or what we’ve done. It doesn’t matter if we messed up. God loves us so much that He will not take this gift from us. It is ours for eternity. “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8 NIV)

This gift I can’t give you, but I can share it. This special gift is from God, to YOU! Do you receive it?

Love Letter From God
Dear [Insert Your Name here]:
Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you and before you were born I set you apart. (Jeremiah 1:5) I chose you to be Holy and blameless in my sight. (Ephesians 1:4) I created you to be in my image and my likeness. (Genesis 1:26) You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) I knew that one day you would mess up and I know you will never be perfect (Romans 3:23), but I love you anyway. While you were yet still a sinner (Romans 5:8) I came up with a plan to redeem you. I loved you and valued you so much that I gave up my precious and only son by way of death to free you of sin. I love you enough that I want you to myself for eternity and I have paved the way for you to have eternal life by way of the cross. (John 3:16) No matter what you did in your past I still love you. I accept you. Even if you messed up last night or before you read this I still love you. I forgive you. I am patient with you and my love will always remain. (Psalm 145:8). If you would have me as your eternal love, then believe in me. Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that I am your Lord and that I was raised from the dead. If you believe, then my forgiveness and my Lordship is yours for eternity. (Romans 10:9-10) I love you my child. Yes, I am talking to you reading this right now. I love you and there is nothing or no one that can change that. (Romans 8:38-39)
Love,
God