Praying With Boldness| By Tori Savoy

Throughout my life, I have come against some mighty adversities. I have learned that no matter the battle, the outcome is determined by fighting on my knees in prayer. When I began to come before the Lord with boldness and confidence in prayer, I saw mighty things changing in my life.


As Christians, I think we sometimes take prayer for granted. It is something we do from the moment we are saved, but sometimes it so easily becomes a chore. We begin to recite typical Christian phrases to sound “holy” in our prayers and feel good about our prayer quality. It can so easily become a rehearsed speech rather than a conversation with our loving father.

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Matthew 6:7

As a young child, I would pray fervently – believing all my prayers would come to pass. However, as some prayers over the years went unanswered, I began to doubt the importance of my prayers. Instead of believing what I was praying, I slipped into a routine of praying passively. I would only pray for the things that seemed attainable – mostly things that I could control the outcome of.

Although I did not suffer from deferred hope with this method of prayer, I also did not see the hand of God in my life. It was not until into my early marriage that I truly began to see the power of my prayers. I am sure you’re thinking my mind was changed when God miraculously answered one of my prayers. Actually, no. I realized the power of my prayers when I saw that the devil was threatened by them.

Early in my marriage, God placed on my heart to pray for my husband and our marriage. At first, I did not understand why. We had no specific marital problems and were still basically in that newlywed  stage. Nonetheless, I listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit and prayed over my marriage and truly believed every word I spoke over my husband and I.

Later that evening, something broke loose between the two of us. I do not remember the exact circumstances, but both of us became edgy with one another. Sitting up that night, frustrated at my husband, God revealed to me that this very thing happened because of my prayers.

The devil, seeing how powerful my faith was during that prayer time earlier that morning, decided to shake my faith and put a stop to my prayers.

If the devil becomes threatened by your faith, he will do everything in his power to remove the source of your faith. He wants to leave you hopeless. Your faith and your prayers will stop him right in his tracks and leave him powerless.

Once I realized this, I knew the devil, not my husband, was the real enemy. In that moment, I rebuked the devil and began to pray even harder. If my one little prayer that morning intimidated him, I would pray several more times a day until he was powerless. Never had my faith in prayer been stronger.

Today, not only have I seen the benefits of praying for my marriage, but as well as other areas of my life. When I turned my prayers from praying passively to praying with boldness and confidence that God can accomplish the impossible, I began to see chains break and things restored.

“…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” James 5:16

At the head of 2019, I am proclaiming this the “year of prayer”. I encourage you to join me in praying with boldness and faith as we see strongholds break and lives made new this year. I pray over each of you proclaiming freedom, peace, abundance, joy, success, and unending love.

“Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.’ If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’’ Matthew 21:21-22

Advertisements

Let Us Return to the Lord| By Tori Savoy

freely-caique-silva-4307

“Just give up on me. I am not worth it any longer,” I told, or basically yelled, toward God.

My guilt had overwhelmed me, and I felt as if I would never be good enough to be loved by a perfect Savior. Even though I knew God gives us forgiveness, I could not quite forgive myself enough to accept God’s love again. I kept failing Him time and time again. I did not feel deserving of His love. All I felt was shame.

But Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) tells us differently.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)

37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The love of God is something we could never earn, and if we cannot earn it, how could we lose access to it?

One of the most impactful books of the Bible for me is the book of Hosea. A prophet of God, Hosea was given instructions to take Gomer, a prostitute, as his wife. Yet, over the course of their marriage, she remained unfaithful and went chasing after her lovers.

Eventually, she became used up and worthless to the point no man wanted her. However, Hosea bought her back for a costly price.

“She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, “I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.'” Hosea 2:7 (NIV)

“When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, ‘Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD.’” Hosea 1:2 (NIV)

This story is a representation of God’s love for us. We have chased after our lovers whether that be a person, money, or success to fulfill us. God knew before we were even born that we would rebel and be unfaithful to him. Yet, He willingly chose to go to the cross and pay the highest price for our souls.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Yes, there will be consequences to our decisions, but God is always waiting with open arms to forgive and shower us in love.

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” Hosea 6:1 (NIV)

The Devil will fill your heart with shame. But God will shower it in forgiveness. The Enemy will make you feel hatred for yourself. But God will reign down His love upon you. No matter how broken you return, God just wants you back in His arms so He can mend you.

If you are dealing with guilt over mistakes you have made, God is calling you to return to him. He is waiting with open arms and unending love for you. Nothing can separate you from that love, and no love of this world can compare to the love of a Savior.

Do You Even Know Me?| By Tori Savoy

jacob-ufkes-195221-unsplash

Marriage is one of those things that’s beautiful and ugly all in one. It has a way of exposing your true character and teaching you lessons you never realized you needed. Marriage is a representation of the covenant we share with God and just about every struggle and every victory can be related back to our walk with God.

This is something I have found true in my own marriage.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only wife who has been guilty of being upset because their husband was not listening to them or was not taking part in conversation.

Our minds are wired to relate intimacy to the emotional connections that happen through conversation. We want our husband to listen to our long story or allow us to vent about our days while responding in a way that shows he is genuinely interested. Words are our intimacy, and when we do not get it, we feel alone and less than as if we are no longer interesting to our husband.

How does this relate to our relationship with Jesus? EVERYTHING!

As I was upset over this very thing one day, God showed me this is exactly how I treat Him. When I neglect to talk with Him and listen to what He is trying to say to me, He feels neglected. It causes my relationship with Him to become disconnected.

A relationship with both man and God requires spiritual and emotional intimacy. This is why prayer life is so important.

Matthew 7:22-23 says “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

‭‭In our marriage, it takes work and intimacy to know one another. Saying you are married is one thing and knowing your spouse is another. Have you ever told your husband, “Do you even know me anymore?”

As I sat sulking to myself over this very question, God reached down to me and said “Do you even know ME?”

Sadly, my answer was not one to be proud of.

You see, God doesn’t want us to just claim to be a Christian, but wants us to pursue an intimate relationship with Him.

God is begging for your attention and wants you to seek intimacy with him through your prayer life. Just as you desire that intimacy with your husband.

Think back to when you and your husband or significant other had first met. All you both wanted to do was get to know one another. Me and my husband spent hours on the phone talking about anything and everything.

The same thing happens when we first become saved. But just as a romantic relationship requires us to continue to work at communicating and igniting that spark, our relationship with God must be pursued daily.

I challenge you to dig deeper into a relationship with God and truly desire to know Him and his love in a fuller capacity.

“I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭2:19-20

 

I Refuse: When Life Tries To Steal Your Joy| By Tori Savoy

joy column

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;” Isaiah 55:12

Joy. It is a feeling that seems so simple, yet the pressures of life somehow seem to complicate it.

How many times have you begun a day with the intention of having a joyful attitude? But then, you get stuck in traffic, arrive late at work, deal with an angry customer, spill food on your brand new blouse, forget an appointment you have, and anything else to spoil your day. Now joy is the last word in your vocabulary, and your attitude is stuck sour.

When me and my husband were dating, I went through a rough time in my life. Being happy did not come easy with the hussle and bussle of college, a full-time job, and the dwindling relationships I was dealing with. However, one day he said something that stuck with me.

“God has given you joy. Refuse to let the Devil take it.”

In that moment, I realized that joy is gift. And just like Christmas or birthday gifts, this gift is free regardless of where my life is at the time.

Our joy should not be dependent upon our surroundings because our source of joy is God, not the world and certainly not the Devil. However, the Devil will try to use the things of this world to steal this great gift we have been given. He knows that nothing can stand in our way if we learn to have joy in tribulation.

God’s word says to “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice” (Phil 4:4 ESV).

It does not say rejoice when life is splendid. It says to rejoice ALWAYS. Even when it seems as if life is completely against you.

There’s a song we use to sing at my church until we could not sing anymore. The lyrics state “I refuse, I won’t let nobody steal my joy!”

So I challenge you. Don’t let anybody or any circumstance steal the joy that Jesus has given to you as a free gift. You wouldn’t take your most treasured Christmas gift and throw it in the trash just because you had a string of bad “gifts”. So why throw away the precious gift of joy God has for you? Remember, although sorrow lasts for the night, joy comes in the morning.

“Wait on the Lord”| By Jasmine Beard

wait“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalms 27:14 KJV

This scripture ran through my head constantly as I approached the end of my undergraduate career.

College wasn’t the easiest thing I have ever dealt with and certainly not the hardest. But, at the peak of a grueling 18-hour course load and a 100-page thesis I was conducting, I was glad the end was finally near.

This was the moment I had waited for and worked towards for 4.5 years, my entire adulthood. I had an assurance in my heart that the months following graduation would be some of my highest yet.

I felt as though I could dream again, outside the confines of a four-walled classroom, and overbearing course work. I thought to myself the sky is the limit, and quotes from the book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” danced in my head.

“Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!”

After graduation, I started my search for a job. Nothing suited my fancy, so I continued to work at the job I had throughout college until I figured things out.

At one time, I had all these plans for my life, “maybe I would be a missionary in Uganda, maybe a bestselling author, or a stay at home mom,” I would think to myself.

As months, post-graduation passed, those plans or wishful thoughts became a distant memory. I felt lost, I felt as though I had no passion, and I had no clue where I was headed.

I figured maybe I had made the wrong decision to get a degree in Communication, and that maybe I would be better suited to be a teacher. Writing and being surrounded by children had always been some of my biggest passions.

I searched the Internet through and through on different ways to become a teacher without having a degree in Education. I was in luck there was a program that allowed individuals that had a Bachelor’s degree to become a certified teacher in Louisiana within a short time span.

I figured I could work at a local preschool while I worked towards my certification in education.

When I landed a job at a local pre-school I was ecstatic to pour into the lives of little ones and discover more about the education field.

My first day was grueling, I found myself sitting in my car crying out to God saying, “why, why, God, this is not what I planned at all.” In that moment, I heard a still small voice say, “allow this to make you better, and not bitter.”

I wiped my tears and figured if this is meant to make me better it’ll sure feel better than it does today.

WRONG.

I committed to working at the pre-school for a year. Firstly, because I had no idea where I was going, but certainly not in education. Secondly, because I hated the way job hopping looked on a résumé. And lastly, I was curious to find out how God would make me better in this situation.

You see I had forgotten the other lines in the book that read:

“I’m sorry to say so

but, sadly, it’s true

that Bang-ups

and Hang-ups

can happen to you.”

Geez, if only I had remembered that sooner.

In a world with drive thru restaurants and instant gratification at its finger tips patience can be a character quality that majority of people have struggled with at one time or another.

Either I could run from the what God wanted to do in my heart or I could dive in head first. God had been in the business of making me patient for years. Time and time again I would resist and yet again He would have to rein me in and tell me to be patient.

This time I figured I wasn’t going to get anywhere unless, I finally surrendered and let God teach me the virtue patience.

Patience is the power or capacity to endure without complaint in something difficult or disagreeable; forbearance, long suffering.

There’s a saying “nothing in the world worth having comes easy.”

And patience, though worth having it certainly does not come easy.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalms 37:4 ESV

When we have desires inside of us that line up with scripture and do not go away with time, most likely that desire is there to stay.

Whether it be a desire for a career, a spouse, ministry, children, or freedom from an illness; we as people can at times grow weary when we do not get the desires of our heart in the timeframe we see fit.

When we place a desire on the Lord with a time line we can hinder God’s blessings. We figure if he didn’t do it, he won’t ever do it. That is a lie from Satan. Never in scripture does God say, “pray and if I don’t answer feel free to figure things out on your own.”

We have a God that loves us and desires to provide what our heart’s desire. But, our God is holy and he knows what we need, how we need it, and most importantly when we need it.

The Bible does say,

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5 NIV

Maybe you have a desire today. Maybe you have prayed year after year with nothing insight to give you hope in that desire.

Know that God is much bigger than any desire you have, trust him. And remember in the time of waiting to allow Him to make you better and do not grow bitter.

wait2

 

 

Who?| By Jasmine Beard

In the months after I gave my life to Christ, I began to experience true love. I always thought going to church and being a good person would ensure a personal ticket to Heaven. But, through my experience of salvation I realized that was not the case.

I began to delve deep into the Bible. I had the same Bible since I was nine years-old. It was hot pink with florets all over the cover. The title page read, “Teen edition NIV version.” I didn’t know if this Bible was like the all the other Bibles. I figured it was what I had and I might as well read it.

I was super excited to learn about the Bible which had just been collecting dust on my bookshelf for years. I opened and dived right into the book of Genesis. This book was familiar, I read these familiar stories as a child in a children’s Bible. As I continued to read I discovered all the different books in the Bible and different sections.

After reading Genesis I began reading the book of Matthew. This was the first book in the Bible that really jumped off the pages to me. The book details the descendants of Christ, His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection. Like I previously said, I didn’t have much knowledge of Jesus before becoming a Christian.

In movies and pictures, I had seen prior to this, Jesus was always a man with a skinny frame and long dark hair- far from a picture of strength and a depiction of what a man who would save the world would look like.

The gospel of Matthew painted a much different picture of Christ in my mind. The man Matthew described was a man of strength and dignity. He was a man of miracles that changed the atmosphere when he entered it. I remember feeling in the moment that I had never heard of a life that displayed love so perfectly.

When I entered my second year of high school the person I had always been had changed. And man did others change. Instead of just talking about guys between the ooing and ahing my peers began to experiment with the opposite sex and tell me all they were experiencing.

At age 14, I longed to be loved and craved attention. But, deep down something just told me boys weren’t the answer. Something told me that wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I thought sex was about love, but even at that young age I knew what I was hearing didn’t sound like love.

I began to dive deeper into my new faith found in Jesus. James 4:8 ESV says,

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”

I would lie in my bed and pray. I would ask the Lord what his likes and dislikes were about me. I would read His word for affirmation and revelation of how I should be living my life. He filled every longing and every craving I had for attention and experiences other people were having.

Jesus is a personal God. Not a God you should hide from. A God you should run to. While this world is beautiful and offers nice things, I have found it all falls empty in comparison to the love and freedom I have experienced in Christ.

My prayer is through my experiences and revelations written on this blog people will be encouraged to simply give that “Jesus thing” a try. I did and I’ve been forever changed.

Romans 5:8 ESV

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

praying

Where?

After my cousin passed away, I thought about death a lot. And eventually I began to have a repetitive dream of my own funeral. For a suicidal teen, the dreams were somewhat satisfying to me, as morbid as that sounds. I began to tell my best friend that I thought I was going to die soon because of the dreams I was having.

Around that time I began visiting a local church’s youth group as well as a weekly Bible study. I mostly went because I enjoyed getting out of the house and spending time with friends. At the time, I thought simply believing in a god or deity made a person a Christian.

I believed in God my creator. I read all the children’s Bibles as a child – at least, the first few chapters about creation. I knew about the God who created the Heavens and the Earth and the God who created Adam and Eve, but anything past that I had no knowledge of.

I had heard of the name Jesus and that He was the son of God. I took that information at face value and I guess I believed it, but that still didn’t mean much to me.

The summer after my freshman year of high school finally arrived, and the church I had been attending was having a youth camp that June. I wanted one thing that summer, and it was change. I wanted to be different and to feel different than I was. I didn’t want to feel depressed and have a cloud of shame and guilt floating over me. I didn’t know if that was possible or if it would happen, but I hoped.

On my way to the youth camp, as I rode with my best friend and Bible study teacher, I began to tell them about the dreams I had been having. I told them I thought the dreams were weird, and that I thought I would die soon.

My small group leader’s response baffled me. Instead of playing along with my morbid view of my dream, she instead believed the dream was symbolic and that the dream represented my old self dying and my new self being born. I had no idea what that meant, but her response somehow gave me the assurance I needed.

On the first night of camp, we were shown clips of The Passion of the Christ. In the clips, men beat Jesus beyond recognition. They continuously yelled at him and showed no empathy for the pain inflicted upon him. Before this moment, I did not know anything about what Jesus had done on the cross or what His blood represented. I suddenly began to weep like never before. Goosebumps filled my arms and legs, and the blinders finally fell off my eyes.

In that moment, I experienced peace for the first time. After the clips, the pastor gave a quick message about salvation. He told us Jesus died on the cross and took the punishment for all our sin. And that He did this so we could all be forgiven of our sin and have eternal life in Heaven with Him.

That night, light shined on the emptiness I had held onto for years. I realized I no longer had to live a life full of depression and rebellion. When the pastor gave an invitation to receive Christ as Savior and Lord, I didn’t just walk. I ran to the altar.

It was in that moment I realized life is worth living. There is life after death, that Heaven and Hell were no longer things I read about in a story book or just places I heard about, but they were real. And I now knew through Jesus I could have eternal life in Heaven.

Romans 5:6-8 ESV

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person— though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

Why?| By Jasmine Beard

Often times the who’s, the what’s, and the how’s of life can be pondering questions in our souls. For me the question was, why? Why do trees exist?  Why are people here? Why do people die? Why are people here in the first place? But, most of all why am I here?

These “why” questions clouded my fourteen-year-old mind. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to be here, I have no reason to live, what’s the point of all of this, why am I even here?”

On the outside, I had everything going for me. I had great friends and supportive parents. I was talented and pretty, and I appeared seemingly cheerful on the outside. But, on the inside I was breaking, constantly pondering suicide and a way out from this world.

At this time in my life everything was changing. I had just started high school, and the course work got heavier and harder. I was in school with 18-year-old guys who were “pursuing me” and suggesting anything other than gentlemen like behavior.  People dressed differently and spoke differently.

On the outside I was just like my peers. I wore the tight shirts and short skirts. I yelled and spoke the profanity, spitting them out at any time I had the chance. I also gloated at the attention I received from boys.

You see my entire life I had been teased for not acting “black enough”. From the ages 12 to 14, I made it my mission to become black enough. I thought to myself, “I just want to be able to hangout with the black kids, and fit in.”

For some reason the color of my skin wasn’t enough for the ones who teased me. I figured being loud, disrespectful, and obnoxious is what they want. And if that’s what I have to do to fit in, I’ll do it.

But, on the inside I felt as though I was dying and suffocating in the pain of trying to fit in and trying to be a rebellious teenager. At fourteen, the persona I was playing was cracking. I didn’t like being angry all the time. I didn’t like tight clothes. I didn’t want to use profanity. I didn’t want to talk to guys who didn’t have the right intentions.

Fourteen was the first time I truly grasped death at least in a carnal way. I had experienced death of grandparents in the past, but I just didn’t quite get it. It wasn’t until six people within nine months passed away in my family, the last being my fifteen-year-old cousin who I went through virtually every grade with. I was in complete disbelief that a person the same age as me could seemingly be fine in the morning and just be gone that same day in the afternoon.

On top of all the self-hate I had inside my heart towards myself, everything was falling apart. I didn’t understand why everyone was dying and wished I could fix it.

Once the fact that my cousin had passed away began to set in, my question stopped being, “why”, but “where?” Where did Jordan go? Did he go to Heaven? Did he go to Hell? Was any of that really real? I always thought I believed in those places, but it wasn’t until this loss in my family that those places became a reality to me.