Behold Your King| By Heaven Harris

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“Girl, you are a precious daughter of the King!”

Sounds amazing right? Who doesn’t enjoy being called a princess?  I know I do!

But who is your King?  Do you know Him? I mean, really know Him?

“Women, teachers, let’s shift our emphasis from ‘girl, you are a precious daughter of the King’ to ‘behold your King’,” -Jen Wilkin

I read this quote recently, and it has not stopped burning deeply inside me since. I have heard for years that I am a princess of the Most High God, that I am royalty.  It is right here in scripture.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light.”  -1 Peter 2:9.  

Learning I was royalty when I first surrendered my life to Jesus was quite amazing, and my heart still skips a beat when I hear it. However, the depth and true wonder of that statement was still not eternalized within.

Growing up, my self- image, my vision if you will, was that of a peasant girl.  I always pictured myself and even dreamt of being dirtied up, scouring in a corner wearing filthy rags and begging for scraps from the table where royalty laid their hands.  No number of compliments or words could change that movie reel playing over and over in my mind.

But JESUS.

I encountered Him.  I encountered His love and experienced His passion for me. I sat at His feet beholding His beauty and all He had to offer. I began to know him. – know him intimately, freely.   From then on, as the days passed, and I continued to lay myself bare at the altar of this mighty King, I realized my rags were stripped away and replaced with His robes of righteousness.

Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Have you allowed yourself the chance to lay before the feet of Jesus and simply behold who He is and let Him begin to portray Himself on you?

“We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces.  And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus.  We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another.  And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (TPT)

The only way to understand how to walk out the royal name given to us is to be in the presence of royalty. The more of your life you spend willingly in that sacred place, the more you will be able to mirror and walk out being His princess and complete the calling He has on your life.

My charge to you is this…

Find your secret place.  Set everything and anything aside and sit and behold the creator of the universe, the maker of your heart, the one whose face shines like the sun.  Let Him take over everything you think you are or aren’t, and let Him become the mirror to your reflection! I promise, you will never walk away from the moments disappointed.  Behold your King.

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Your Wasteland is Your Wonderland| By Heaven Harris

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February 7, 2007. A day seared in my mind forever. This was the day that I found out my dad had committed suicide. I woke up that day like any other day, and by the end of it, I felt like a freight truck had hit me at 100 miles an hour.  I was broken, lost, confused, angry, and sad. So many emotions, and life just seemed to stop for me in those moments. My grief overcame me and blinded me to even see that God was in my midst. My once good life was now laid barren and broken before me, and I had no clue what to do with those broken pieces.

What could God possibly do with an orphan daughter and how could He possibly use such a tragic situation for any good at all?

How many times have you asked such questions? Maybe your wasteland came from the loss of a child, or the job that fell through, or maybe the countless times you hoped to see the plus sign on the end of that pregnancy test. Maybe you are living the single life longer than you ever anticipated, or maybe it’s the divorce that you feel like follows you like a scarlet letter.

No matter your questions, no matter your wasteland, first thing is first…

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18

The next thing I will tell you is Romans 8:28 tells us that He works ALL things together for good.

You may be wondering how that is even possible. Believe me. I have been there. You may be there now.  You may be wondering how such pain could be good for anything. Know that it is not wasted. You may just be in a place that requires a perspective change.

We all know the quote, “One person’s trash, is another person’s treasure.”

I have heard it my whole life and always knew it referred to perspective, but until I began to truly serve God, perspective was something I focused very little on.  As my maturity in the Lord grew, so did my understanding of how important it is to have God’s perspective on EVERYTHING. As seasons pass by, as the storms rage and trials blindside us, without proper perspective, sinking sand is our foundation. As a result, we end up wandering in our wasteland.

Unfortunately, as human flesh would have it, I have become narrow sighted too often and found it extremely difficult to walk in God’s perspective of every situation.  Some situations hurt too bad or seemed to impossible in human form. There were times when I couldn’t see the purpose in the pain and was demanding all the answers NOW.

As I was walking through the season following my father’s passing, I read an analogy that really opened my heart to God’s ability to turn it all around with just a little perspective change.  I realized in that moment that my wasteland was God’s wonderland.

The analogy was about two clay vases. One is in immaculate condition with not a single scratch or hole in it; a beautiful piece of pottery. The other one is not so beautiful on the surface.  Its edges are rough, there are big gaping holes all over it. It looks like something you would throw away without hesitation.

If I turned the lights out and placed a lit candle in each vase, something interesting happens.  In the first vase, perfect in form, the light from the candle shines beautifully out the top of the vase.  Now the second vase, once the candle is placed inside, through every hole and scratch, that light is illuminating its surroundings.

It’s all about perspective.

You, my friend, are the vase.  You aren’t perfect. None of us are. You have gaping holes in your life as it has side swiped you and broke you down. But the light of Jesus can shine so much brighter through those rough places and empty spaces.

“Your lives light up the world. Let others see your light from a distance, for how can you hide a city that stands on a hilltop?” Matthew 5:14 (TPT)

God’s desire is to set you apart and use even the hurts and pains of life to glorify Himself. If you will just allow Him to shift your perspective, you will realize that we don’t serve a moderately big God, but a God that is GRAND!!!

Your wasteland is God’s opportunity to write your story.

For me, that wasteland became a platform for me to share my heart with others who have not only found themselves struggling with family or friends who deal with suicide, but I have also had the opportunity to share the love of God with those who directly deal with depression and suicidal thoughts.  God has opened so many doors in my pain for His love to not only heal those I was reaching, but also my own heart.

When I felt like trash, God was right there to remind me that I am His treasure, and so are you.  You are God’s treasure and His love for you is immense.

I encourage you today to hand Him over your trash and let Him turn it into His treasure.

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

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“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.

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Now.| By Jasmine Beard

It’s been nine years now since I gave my life to Christ. These years have been great, they have not only come with triumphs, but trials as well.

I wish I could tell you that I’ve never had a depressed thought again, that I’ve never questioned God’s love for me, and that I’ve trusted God in every area of my life, but that would be false.

Matthew 5:45 NKJV says,

“… For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”

You see life is hard for the believer and the unbeliever. The only difference with a believer is that they don’t walk through this roller coaster we call life alone.

In high school my relationship with God was filled with mostly triumphs. I had trials, but all failed into comparison to the new found peace I found in Christ.

When college started, I found myself miles away from my best friend and without a church home. Life was so uncertain. Life as I once knew it was changing again. Real life was beginning, and real life is where our faith can be truly tested.

I was no longer with all the people I grew up with. I had new found independence from my parents and was surrounded by all types of people from different backgrounds.  When I finally found a new church home, I felt welcomed, but so alone. I didn’t have the familiarity of my other church friends, leaders, or pastors. While I smiled at the new church, I was silently falling back into depression and isolating myself from others.

I would leave church service early and go to a local park and cry. From my childhood, I had always dealt a bit with rejection. That spirit of rejection began to magnify when I isolated myself and began to listen to the lies Satan whispered in my ear.

“They don’t like you.”

“You’re weird.”

“You’ll never fit in.”

“You’re all alone.”

I began to cry out to God. I began to say those very lies to God.

I would say,

“Jesus I feel so alone.”

“Why isn’t my family here with me?”

“I don’t fit in here.”

“Nobody loves me.”

To those lies, He would respond in truth.

“You are not alone.”

“You are loved.”

“I am here with you.”

When the Holy Spirit would whisper that truth to me, I found comfort and peace in His words. As I began to stand on the truth of the Holy Spirit, the word of God got louder, and the lies from Satan began to silence.

That is one example of a trial I endured and walked through. Some trials in my life have been smaller than this one, but most much larger. However,the size of the trial fails in comparison to the size of my God.

I have since graduated college and continue to attend that same church. The same church that I once felt so alone in, I can now call the people there my family. My mother has given her life to Christ, and I have since seen God do great things in and around my life.

I am not defined by the trials I have walked through. By walking with Christ, my trials do not overtake me. I overtake my trials by walking through them with Christ guiding my every step.

Psalm 119:105 NKJV

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

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