God Our Protector (Back To School Edition)

God Our Protector
Written by Felicia McKnight
8/25/2014

(Note: If you have a child in any type of school system, then you will want to read today’s devotion.)

Psalm 121:5-8
The LORD protects you;
the LORD is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day
or the moon by night.
The LORD will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
The LORD will protect your coming and going
both now and forever.

I am slowly becoming convinced that strange things happen to me so that I can have something to write about each week. One Saturday evening I went into Office Depot to print out some documents since my printer at home is broken. I was grateful as I found a parking spot just in front of the store. I went in for about 10 minutes and walked out with my documents in hand. When I walked out of the store to my surprise there were several cop cars with their flashing lights on, people standing outside looking panicked and frazzled, and a police officer preparing to enter into Old Navy. Old Navy is in the same shopping strip right next door to Office Depot.

There were two women standing directly in front of my car and to my disappointment an unattended police vehicle with its sirens on was blocking my car. I had several thoughts going on in my mind and was not happy that my car was blocked in and there was nothing I could do about it. I did what most of us would do and asked the women in front of my car what was going on. They informed me that a robbery was in progress inside of Old Navy. Several police officers rushed into the store with their guns drawn and everyone was asked to evacuate the store. The police officer that I seen outside had just put his gun away according to the witnesses. I now go from calm to panic and said out loud “Great, my car is blocked in and I am stuck here!” I watch enough news to know that bullets are random. I was not trying to have any photo opportunities for social media or to share with my friends and family. I just wanted to get out of this crime scene and home safe.

The lady that I was talking to started walking and she yelled back at me that I was not blocked in and that with her guidance she would help back me out of the parking spot. I went to see what she was talking about. The police car was very close, but I decided I would trust this woman’s guidance and pray I would not owe the city a bill later. I got in my car and with a few tight turns of the steering wheel and her direction I was out of the parking spot without hitting the police car or the woman and home safe. Whew!

This encounter reminded me that God is my protector. I can’t help but to wonder how many times I have been in a position of danger without my knowledge yet somehow God protected me from harm’s way. I thought about where I parked at. If I would have parked one spot over I would have been blocked in. God knew the errands I had to run, what was about to take place and had the right parking spot available just for me. When that police officer pulled up to the scene little did he know the angels that have charge over me pushed his car just a few inches up, so that I would be able to get out of dangers way safely. God is my protector!

God is not just my protector, but He protects all of us! I have had so many times where I was running late to work. When I finally get on the freeway an accident may have just occurred. Had I have been on time that day either that could have been me or I could have witnessed it, but God protects. I’m sure that has happened to many of us. Or there are times you may have come close to being hit by a vehicle on the road way, but somehow you were just missed from being in a collision. As we go through each day we have to place our trust in God and allow him to guide our steps. He has eyes all around and can keep us and protect us not just in our vehicles, but everywhere we go.

I love Psalm 121! Today, I read it in peace as I prepare to send my daughter off to her first day of high school (sniffle…tear) and as many of you send your children off to school and college. It is heart breaking every year when we see the breaking news that some tragic event takes place in the school systems killing innocent children. We as parents send our children to school expecting them to come home. We can’t keep our eyes on them at all times, but we serve a God that can. I am convinced that we must send our children to school daily covered in prayer. As you send your children off to school send them with the covering of Psalm 121 and Psalm 91. I repeat keep your children in daily prayer and send them off in peace knowing God has a legion of angels around them protecting them.

Psalm 91:11 NIV/NLT
For God will command his angels concerning (insert your name and child’s name) to guard you in all your ways (NIV) and he will order his angels to protect (insert your name and child’s name) wherever you go (NLT).

In this back to school edition of Feevotionals today’s prayer is a special prayer for all of our children headed back to school whether it be day care, elementary, junior high, high school or college.

Heavenly Father we come to you today acknowledging you as God our protector. Lord, I lift up all of our children who are headed off to school today. We pray Psalm 121 over them that you would protect them everywhere they go. Place your legion of angels around them and order their steps to keep them out of harm’s way. Protect them from violence and accidents. Protect our student athletes from health aliments and sports injuries. Protect every limb and let not one of them be broken. Protect our children as they travel on school buses, vans, and charter buses. Get them to their destinations and back home safely. Protect our children from life-threating dares and challenges and give them the wisdom to be strong enough to say no to anything that may harm their life. Give our children the wisdom to keep their eyes focused on You and their academics and not the foolish things of this world. I pray for a hedge of protection around every day care, school, and university that you would protect them from random acts of violence. I pray for all those with mental health issues and anger issues that they will seek the appropriate help rather than resolving the issues with violence and taking innocent lives. I pray for every educator that you will strengthen them this school year. Give them the wisdom to deal with the students appropriately in all of their daily encounters. I pray for every parent that you may keep our minds at peace while our children are out of our sight. Lord, we give you all the glory, honor, and praise. Amen

For every reader of today’s Feevotional my prayer for you is:
May God command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways and protect you everywhere you go. May he be the shelter by your side and protect you from all of harm’s way. May God protect your life and protect your coming and your going both now and forever more. Amen

Be Blessed and Encouraged on this back to school Monday!

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Lessons From An Immobilized Foot

Lessons From An Immobilized Foot
Written by Felicia McKnight
8/20/2014

Psalm 46:10 NKJV
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

I am convinced that our almighty God, the creator of heaven, earth, you and me speaks to us in all sorts of ways and through all of His creation. I was especially blown away when God decided to use my recent encounter with my injured foot to teach me a spiritual lesson.

This summer I launched out on my journey for the second time to become a jogger. That was a failed attempt when I once again injured my foot. I thought this was a one day injury but the swelling and the pain persisted for several weeks. After not being able to wear shoes or have successful workouts I finally decided to stop operating in my gift of procrastination and go to the doctor. When I arrived for my first visit the doctor predicted that I had a stress fracture and would possibly need to wear a boot. Before he finalized his diagnosis he first ordered an x-ray which did not show a stress fracture and then an MRI to look more internally at the bones and tissue around my foot. Throughout this process I was hoping and praying I would not be put into one of those non-fashionable boots. I kept thinking about how hot it would be if I had to wear one and how it did not match my fabulous summer shoe collection.

As I waited patiently in between doctor appointments and reflected on the benefits of wearing a boot for the proper healing God begin to speak to me “Be Still and know that I am God.” Being still in its literal sense is something hard for me to do. I guess I take after my grandmother in that I do not know how to sit down somewhere and be still. Sleep is as close to I can get at being still. I struggle with being still. As a toddler I know time outs were not an effective punishment for me because it required me to be still. As I continue to journey through this life God is determined to have His way with me and show me how to “BE STILL and know that He is God.” Maybe there is someone reading this that is like me. We try to help God out and fix things or make things happen in our own strength and ability. The God we serve just wants us to be still and trust Him and know that He is God! As I reflected on this spiritual lesson that God keeps trying to get me to pass I realized He decided once again to give me a lesson from an immobilized foot on being still and knowing that He is God.

Lesson #1: Let God Fix it
My foot had been injured for several weeks yet I continued to go about my daily business. I did not go to the doctor or urgent care when I initially sustained the injury. I still continued to work out only making matters worse. My foot continued to swell causing me not to be able to where closed shoes. The pain went from my foot up my leg to my knee. I have no clue what else may have suffered because I didn’t seek proper medical attention right away. How many times do we find ourselves needing God to fix some area or relationship in our life yet we continuously get in His way? The more we interfere with matters the worse things get. Remember Sarah and Abraham? Sarah tried to get in God’s way and speed things up by having Hagar conceive a baby for her husband. Sarah’s interference only made matter’s worse. It created strife in her home and caused another individual to get hurt.

In my case I simply needed to go to a doctor and let their area of expertise handle my injury. Likewise in life we need to bring our matters before God when they arise instead of trying to solve our problems on our own. God is sovereign. He sees all and He knows all. He knows exactly what it will take to fix our situation. He knows the end from the beginning and the journey it will take to get there. He knows how to cause all things to work together for the good.

Lesson #2: Being Still Is a Time For Self Examination
After my first visit with a physician my next step was to have an x-ray. If the x-ray did not show a fracture, then I would need a MRI. The purpose of these tests was to allow the doctor to see what the natural eye could not see. When a fracture did not appear in my x-ray I had to get the MRI, because the MRI allowed them to see the tissue and other components of my foot that would not be picked up by an x-ray.

When we are going through challenging times often the problem we see with our natural ability is not the problem that ultimately needs the repair. When we are still and waiting on God He uses those opportunities for an in depth look at our soul. It’s an opportunity to see what areas He needs to work on in us so that we are ready for all that He has in store for our lives. Many times God won’t fix the situation until he fixes us first.

Lesson #3: While You Are Still Remain In God’s Presence
After the doctors reviewed my x-ray and MRI it was determined that I would be placed in a boot. The good news is it’s only for a few short weeks. Whew! Wearing the boot allowed my foot the opportunity to rest and be still. It was immobilized so that I would not put normal daily pressure on it. It allowed my foot the opportunity to be in a secure place so that no further injuries were sustained and the healing process could take place.

While you are allowing God to work on you and your circumstances rest in Him. Pray more. Read the word more about what God is speaking to you or what the Bible has to say about your circumstances. While you are resting in God you are in a safe and a secure place that will allow transformation to take place. God wants us to be secure in Him and in His presence. God wants us to be still in His word and in His promises.

Psalm 91:1-4 NIV
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Lesson #4: While You Are Still God is Working
While my foot is in the boot being still in a safe and secure place there is a healing taking place behind the scenes. My natural eye cannot watch the fracture mend or the muscles heal, but I can rest assure that while my foot is secure in its boot there is a healing taking place. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)

God wants us to be still and know that He is the God we read about in the pages of the Bible and that He is faithful to perform His word. He wants us to be still and know that He is faithful and will keep His promises. God wants us to trust Him and know that he is working behind the scenes. We can’t always see what God is doing. We don’t always know how God is doing it. All we know is that it will be done and whatever we are waiting on God for will surely come to pass. We just need to be still and KNOW that He is God. “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 NIV) “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

What is it that you are waiting on God to do? Do you keep getting in His way to accomplish your desired outcome in your own strength instead of relying on God’s power? Are you waiting on God to show up in your finances? Be still and KNOW that he is Jehovah Jireh. Are you waiting on God to heal you in some physical area or to heal a relationship? Be still and know that He is Jehovah Raphe. Are you in need of a peace of mind and searching for it in places other than the word of God? Be still and know that He is Jehovah Shalom. Whatever need you are facing today surrender it to God. Rest in His safety and in his security knowing that He is working it out by His power and his might. One thing I know about God is that if we take our hands off and let Him take control He can do exceedingly, abundantly, above all we could ask Him for, think or imagine. Be still today and know that He is an Ephesians 3:20 God. Be blessed and encouraged.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, we praise you for being the Sovereign God that you are. We thank you that you see every aspect of our life and that you know the beginning from the end. Thank you for the reminder today that as problems arise we need to only be still and rest in you while you work out our situations according to your plan. Thank you for the inner transformation that takes place during the time of stillness and thank you for the outcome that will be exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask you for or imagine. In Jesus Name. Amen

Grace Not Grudges

Grace Not Grudges
Written by Felicia McKnight
8/13/14

Matthew 18:15 NIV
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

While attending my women’s devotional group meeting the Holy Spirt spoke to us and said, “We have to extend grace and not grudges.” It held a profound meaning to our topic of discussion; however it hit home with me and some experiences that I encountered in my own life.

I went to the doctor for a problem that I had been experiencing. I typically go to this particular office because I am able to get a same day appointment, and I am normally in and out within 45 minutes to one hour. On this particular day my wait time was extremely long. I went through the normal check in process. I was called back within 15 minutes. My vital signs were taken, and then I was placed in a room colder than Alaska….at least it felt that way. While in there shivering I brought a book I had been reading. I managed to read two long chapters of the book, check my work e-mail, my personal e-mail and stare at the wall and still no one had come in to see me. I had been at the appointment an hour already and I had grown frustrated, because I needed to get back to work for a meeting and I had missed lunch. I stepped out of the room to see if I had been forgotten about, and the medical assistant informed me I would be seen next. Next turned into another 15 minutes of waiting. I stepped out again and just as I was stepping out the doctor was coming out of the room and I was told she would be there shortly.

Now my disclaimer to this story is that I can be a confrontational person in the sense that if I experience a problem with someone or something I make it known at that time. I don’t like having to hold on to things for days or weeks unless I just have to. If I am extremely upset I have learned to allow time to cool off so that I don’t say words that can’t be taken back. In this case I was more frustrated than angry until the next scene of this story took place.

The doctor entered the room and I let her know I was extremely frustrated that I had to wait an hour for her to come into the room. While I waited no one bothered to inform me that the wait time was longer than normal. With an attitude she corrected me and told me that I had “only” waited 40 minutes and she proceeded to tell me about her issues and the issues at the clinic. As she proceeded to talk in an unprofessional tone my anger level quickly elevated. A million things were going on in my mind. First, of all I couldn’t believe the doctor was talking to me that way. As a patient I did not care about those things. I just wanted the medical team to display some customer service and for my problem to be treated. It’s safe to say I escalated from frustrated to angry really quick and my issue still had not been looked at. Also, running through my mind is that I had to remember I am also an employee of this organization. As mad as I was I had to pray for Jesus to guard my tongue so that I did not say anything that would misrepresent Christ nor get myself in trouble with my employer.

At this point I was so mad I didn’t even want this woman to touch me at all. Now I am angrier because I’ve wasted over an hour waiting and now debating with this woman who next had the nerve to ask if I still wanted to be treated. I took one of those deep breaths that is also a quick prayer, because I was trying my best not to go off on the lady and I was determined I was going to be treated but it wasn’t going to be by her. Before I could say anything she told me she did not need the attitude from me and was going to get her boss. Once again I was blown away because I did not curse this woman out nor did I have a nasty attitude with her. I just simply expressed my concern with the lack of customer service and now her attitude. For me my prayer was answered immediately, because little did she know my letter of complaint was already drafted in my head to him.

Her boss, the Medical Director, finally came in. At this point I was boiling yet I remained as calm as possible. Woo Sah! I let him know what had taken place and that her behavior was completely unprofessional and unacceptable. When he seen my badge he went on to give me some inside information as to why things were so slow that day. As a Human Resources professional who knows what goes on behind the scenes I could totally understand from an operational standpoint why things were backed up, but as a patient everything that had taken place was still unacceptable especially this woman’s behavior. The Medical Director was very compassionate and sympathetic. He treated me and I was well on my way. I had some other test that I had to do and I was even extended favor in the process so I didn’t have to wait even longer. Before I left the office the Medical Director asked if it was OK for him to bring the physician back in so we could all talk and that’s where our scripture for today comes in. Yes, I was going somewhere with this story.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (Matthew 18:15-16 NIV)

The physician returned to the room and we had a brief conversation. I reminded them that I may have been an employee of the organization and can understand the behind the scenes stuff that caused this incident. However as a patient and if I was anyone else this once again was not acceptable and I expressed all of my concerns about the entire visit. She apologized to me in front of the Medical Director. I did let him know that she has provided care to me before and I’ve never had this type of issue. Then something strange happened. The physician asked the Medical Director to leave so we could both talk. I had no clue what was about to take place next but let’s just say I was praying I remembered I was a Christian with whatever was going to take place.

The physician went on to tell me about the bad day she was having and her frustrations with being overbooked that day and some other things. She sincerely apologized and said that when I was upset my complaint was the spark that lit her fire causing her to become defensive and go off on me. When she explained herself that is when grace kicked in. Ultimately she was just having a bad day. I can understand that as we all have bad days from time to time that cause our emotions to get the best of us. I was able to receive her apology and let her know that there were no hard feelings. After we talked a little more she even hugged me as I walked out of the door. This experience ministered to me after I cooled off and looked for God in the situation.

As a Christian when I heard her excuses the first time I could have been more compassionate yet I was not. I was grateful that God used the Medical Director to allow the physician and myself to talk out our differences. I was also grateful that I was open to the idea as I know most people would not have been. We were able to work things out and now all is well.

My story was in a professional setting, but it certainly applies to all relationships. As we go through life we will encounter many confrontations with individuals. If we handle them appropriately then our Christian light can shine. Our scripture reminds us today that God wants us to work things out with others. He wants us to be at peace with one another. “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 NLT) Life is too short to hold on to the hurt, pain, and frustrations people cause us. It is a blessing when we can discuss our issues with the other party and walk away in peace. It is a blessing to be at peace with someone rather than walking around with negative feelings towards that person which often leads to unforgiveness or what we may call a grudge. “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18 NIV)

I remember prior to my doctor’s office experience I went to someone to address their faults and the hurt they caused me. Out of that we were able to have a peaceful conversation and I was so full of peace. Since I genuinely cared about that friendship I didn’t want to keep walking in silence with those unresolved issues. I trusted that if I prayed and allowed God to go before me then all would be well.

I like the message version best:
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. (Matthew 18:15 Message)

When we find ourselves in challenging circumstances with people we have to pause and ask God how He wants us to handle the situation. According to scripture God wants us to attempt to work it out and be at peace with our neighbor. We can approach people in love and have civilized conversations to work out the matters of our heart. The bible says that if they listen then you know you have a friend. It is such a blessing, a joy and a peace when you are able to walk away with a matter resolved and a friendship still intact.

Who do you need to resolve matters with on today? Pray and ask God to guide you on your approach and prayerfully you too can walk away with a friend. Be Blessed and Encouraged on today.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, I lift up all of us who have experienced some hurt, disappointment, and frustration from someone we care about. For those of us holding on to it I pray that you will guide us on an approach to resolve these matters with that individual. Guard our mind and our lips to say the right words that will bring forth a heavenly resolution. We pray for both parties that hearts would be softened and receptive to the conversation and the matters at hand. We know that you are the God who heals and may your healing touch be on each of these relationships. Sometimes people do have bad days that cause the emotions to win over our character. Give us the wisdom and strength to extend forgiveness, compassion and grace. May grudges never be an option. In Jesus Name. Amen

My God Who Hears

My God Who Hears
Written by Felicia McKnight
8/6/2014

Psalm 116:1-2 NIV
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

I was reading this psalm recently in a class and I got sucked into it like a good Saturday afternoon Lifetime Movie. As I was reading the Psalm I had to do a double take, because it felt like the Psalm of Felicia and not David’s Psalm. Today I am singing at the top of my lungs, “I LOVE THE LORD, because he heard my voice. He heard my cry for his favor!” It is a joy to be able to sing that song with personal truth behind it. Before I can tell you the good news I have to share the background information.

My personal life has been on a whirlwind now for the past two years. Without sharing the details I will just say I felt exactly like Psalm 116:3, “The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow.” My distress and my sorrow have been great. I am an encourager and a praying woman. I find myself lifting up everyone else and seeing their breakthroughs yet when it came to my prayers I felt like they were not being answered or heard. There were days I questioned God. I knew He had to hear me when I prayed, because He was answering the prayers of the people I had been praying for yet I was still crying out for His mercy and a release from what I had been going through. I often wondered if God had selective hearing. Was there a reason why my personal requests were not being heard? I’m just being honest and I am sure many of you have felt the same way.

I recently attended a weekend silent prayer retreat. I was so excited that I was going to have my time with just me and God. The week leading up to the retreat I prepared my heart and my mind. I wrote down every matter of my heart that had burdened me. I wrote down my hopes and dreams that I was still waiting to come to pass. I wrote down all of the hurt and pain that I needed a healing from. I wrote down everything that I had been petitioning God for and I was just ready to hear what my Heavenly Father had to say and I was ready for my miracle and my breakthrough.

While I was at the retreat God did exactly what I longed for Him to do. He spoke, He healed, and He delivered me! God had a lot to say to me and I was so overwhelmed by all that I experienced at the retreat. I had a breakthrough moment with God. While at the retreat there was a time where we all had the opportunity to share what we experienced. As I listened to each woman, and as I reflected on my own experience I was reassured God hears us all. Personally I was excited God heard my voice. Verse 2 says “he turned his ear to me.” Not only did God listen to all of the women at the retreat, but He is so omnipresent that He was able to listen to me and my long list of prayers.

I walked away from the retreat refreshed, full of joy, and in the overflow of God’s goodness and His glory. I experienced some amazing things. As I reflect on Psalm 116 it’s amazing to finally look back over the scriptures that I have prayed and meditated on through the dark season and to finally see them come to pass in my life. I am in awww at the awesome God that I serve. I don’t know why I am so overwhelmed, because He is just being the God that He said He would be. God is faithful to His word.

Psalm 116:8-9 NIV
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living
.

I’m sharing my testimony today because I know there are so many people out their struggling. I know there is someone reading this that is in their dark season. I know there is someone questioning if God hears. I know there is someone crying out “how much longer Lord?” I know there is someone reading this on an emotional rollercoaster. I know there is someone out there who can’t take another blow. I know exactly how you feel. Today I can testify that God hears you, He sees you, and He is listening. I know your journey may seem like an eternity. Mine certainly did. I refused to accept the pit as a reality. I looked at all the people around me and how God had moved miraculously and supernaturally in their life. I continued to stand on God’s word and believed by faith that if God can do it for them, then He can do it for me too. And you know what, HE DID!

I repeat…..
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2 NIV)

All will be well with your soul. Be Blessed and Encouraged on today!

Prayer
Heavenly Father, I share with the world today how much I love you and how grateful I am to have you as my Heavenly Father. My prayer today is that every reader be reminded that you are the God who hears and the God who delivers. Give each person strength in whatever challenges they face. Give them the measure of grace to make it through each day. May we all continue to keep our eyes gazed on you knowing that you hear us and this too shall pass. May your grace, mercy, and favor be on us all. Amen