You’ve got to keep going for now. Your part in His kingdom is needed ~

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I was inspired by this one line from one of Ann Voskamp’s devotion (A Letter for the Long Haul) that showed up in my inbox just when I seemed to really need this kind of encouragement. It is easy to underestimate our part in the Kingdom, yet if we each played our role (no matter how insignificant and small it seemed in our own eyes) the tapestry of the pieces woven together from all of God’s saints do surely tell an amazing story!

There isn’t a book devoted to the life of Mary Magdalene for example, but her part in God’s revealed story is significant to say the least. To get out of bed on a morning when her heart was heavy and full of grief from the loss of a dear friend who had set her free and given her such a great sense of belonging could not have been easy. Her part in His kingdom was needed—because shortly after her waking up early to visit His grave, re-living the horror she had witnessed the previous few days of Jesus’ suffering, I’m sure Mary did not consider herself to be on an important mission, but she was. Only moments later—Jesus would call her by name AND send her to deliver perhaps the most important messages in all of history!

“…go and tell My brothers, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God”. John summarizes this discourse in Chapter 20 of his gospel in this way. Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the LORD!” And she told them what He had said to her.

Five little simple words, but a world-shaking, generation changing kind of a difference! I doubt very highly that Mary had considered her walk to the tomb that morning a significant part in building God’s kingdom. She had no idea just what she was about to walk into. This post resurrection story of our risen Christ would simply not be the same without Mary putting one foot in front of the other and pressing F O R W A R D in spite her pain, confusion and feeling bewildered. She was not the Chief of Staff at a world leading organization, she was not well known for any major accomplishments, she was simply a girl—a woman—a person like you and me who chose to be brave in spite the fear that had gripped the little sheep whose Shepherd had been struck, wounded and buried for three long days.

You too must keep doing the hard things my friend! Hard things like getting out of bed, getting on your knees once more for that colleague for whose soul your heart continues to travail, cracking that Bible open for your daily bread, loving your street with tears and a cold cup of water, digging around that seed you planted in the dirt that you await to sprout as you watch over it in the same way your heavenly Father watches over His own word to fulfill it ~

No surrender; no retreat. No turning back and no giving up hope! You’ve got to keep going for now. Your part in His kingdom is needed. You keep doing those BIG things that seem so small because ultimately, it is about you moving forward that terrifies the enemy. We don’t know when we might be leaving some of the greatest marks on the world. It all matters my friend—ALL!

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7 Reasons Why You Should Intentionally Invest in your Child’s Spiritual Growth

 

Patience (Yellow, Blue JosiahKids Shirts)

I started working with teenagers at my church in New Jersey when I was only 21 yrs old. As I packed up and left for Bible School, I was already sure of two main things. The window to influence a child for good closes quite quickly. And two, it is better—much better to start early. For many years, I have spoken to parents in the wee hours of the night agonizing over their teenagers and young adult children. I knew earlier on that once I became a parent, it would be imperative to pour in as much good as I possibly can into the lives of my children (and any others) that God would place along my path. Unfortunately, not all parents see the value of their child’s spiritual formation. Many times (athletics, academics, a life of ease and excellence in everything else) has been prioritized over a child’s relationship with God. This breaks my heart. I thought I’d try to provide a few persuasive reasons why your child’s spiritual formation should be at the very top of your family’s priority.

  1. As a Sunday School teacher, I can personally attest that what your child receives on Sunday morning is possibly equivalent to taking a vitamin once a week. It’s helpful yes, but by no means can it replace the trouble you take to prepare a nutritious meal that your kids rely on for their health and sustenance. You are a spirit. You live in a body. When it’s all over, our bodies will return to the dust, and the spirit will return to God who breathed His breath of life into us. Your child’s spiritual stamina should be of greater value than the value we have placed on ensuring our food is (authentic, organic, locally grown well-seasoned, natural, pesticide free) as seen on TV, blogs and media campaigns. Do that, yes! But put in more effort to feed the Spirit man—nothing can match the wisdom, guidance, protection, and leading that God will provide your kids when you invest in nourishing their spirit. Don’t settle for spiritual undernourishment.

 

  1. We are always (ONE) generation removed from following God wholeheartedly. Hezekiah loved and feared God greatly. He destroyed idol worship in Israel, sought to please God, and cried out to the LORD to heal him from a grave illness. God heard him, answered him and added 15 years to his life—even blessing him with a son; Manasseh (see 2 Kings 21). This son of a God-fearing man did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than all the kings of Israel combined. He led the entire nation astray, provoking the LORD who answered Judah with disaster everywhere. Just because you fear God, does not mean your children will follow in your footsteps. You and I must work to ensure we give our children a sure faith of their own. You will never know the evil you will restrain by investing from the front end. Think of it this way: every evil we know was invented and or imagined by someones child.

 

  1. The Bible is transparent about the good God seeks to do in the lives of His people, but it also warns to beware of the schemes, seductions, and enticing of the evil one who comes to steal, kill and to destroy. If the enemy can discourage, derail, disconnect and distract (us) and our kids early, this means he will have less work to do later. Michael Jackson had amazing skill and talent, but there was an open door. Satan is actively seeking to plant seeds of doubt about your child’s identity, purpose and calling. Did God really say? I’m I beautiful? Do I really fit in? Is this really wrong? Notice that all three times when Satan attacked Jesus in His most vulnerable state, though HE was the Son of God—He answered: It is written. It is written. It is written. Can your child competently rebuttal and refute Satan’s lies? Read (Deuteronomy 11:18-21) God gave this responsibility to the Fathers and Mothers—not the child. We are to own this!

 

  1. We never quite know when difficulty will come knocking on our family’s individual doors. On what should have been an ordinary day, Joseph was sold into Egypt as a slave by his own brothers, Daniel as a boy found himself in Babylonian captivity, the little servant girl was snatched from her own family in Israel by the Assyrians and given as plunder (a slave) to Naaman’s wife. Never did it occur to any of these young people that their lives would change so drastically in one given day. I too personally know the pain of deep loss that came knocking so unexpectedly—leaving my “perfect” childhood a shattered wreck. In all instances (including my own) it was GOD—knowing HIM really, well that saved the day! For Joseph, Daniel and the little servant girl they all brought MASSIVE national change because they knew the God of their fathers!

 

  1. I am yet to find a better discourse given on this topic than that Christ himself gave in Matthew 6. There are SO many good things said in that one chapter, it is impossible to add them all into this one bullet point (so read it). If I had to choose a single highlight from that chapter, it would have to be: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) What things? Whatever you have need of! Apparently, God already knows that you need clothing, food, shelter—that He does not want you to worry about it and or spend all your time focused on amassing wealth or temporary things. He promises to supply ALL your needs if you will just dare to put Him first!

 

  1. Listen to what Malachi says while addressing an issue of spiritual and marital fidelity (2:15). Has not the one God made you? You belong to Him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring! SO be on your guard… Though it might be nice to do, God is not in the least concerned that we should raise Him the next generation of Gold medal champions. He is not even concerned that our children make it to the NBA, NFL or bring home the FIFA world cup. Rather, what would please HIM most is to have us raise Him children who fear and reverence His great name. Think about it, the Bible says Eli raised (worthless sons). God literally had to destroy them. Hophni and Phinehas were unfit to serve as priests before God. Their story is chilling—they completely lost the fear of God. Their father Eli had also lost his spiritual vitality and could not restrain his sons from doing evil. He could not even discern that this tiny little Samuel running around in the LORD’s temple—was his own replacement. All three men died on the same day. God had raised a new prophet for Himself. Samuel would serve God for the next 40years! Our children must be fit to serve the living God.

 

  1. I can think of no greater complement from the living God than to hear HIM say of King David: “I have found a man after my own heart.” What that simply means, is that I have found a person who has likes and dislikes like my own. He is passionate about my passions. He loves what I love. He hates what I hate. He is not perfect, but he strives to please me and brings me great joy! Wouldn’t we all love for God to feel this way about our children? Let me submit to you, parents. Your children cannot love a God they do not know. In order for their hearts to be in sync with the heart of the God of heaven, they must first begin with the very first verse (in the beginning, God…) and make their way to the very end of the revealed story of the heart of God. There are no shortcuts. They must take the stairs one step at a time into the heart of God!

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Your Prayer Is Heard!

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I was upstairs in our Master bathroom the other day, just about to begin working on my usual evening routine. With my phone in hand, I pulled up an audio file from my playlists, scrolled through 33 options and thought—this will be perfect as I shower! It was a message I had saved from a Women’s Conference I had attended back in 2014 by Lisa Bevere. I hit play, but no sound. Come on! I powered off the phone and tried again. My husband was out of town so I was home alone with our girls. We had just finished their showers, homework, and dinner when I left them in the living room watching Odd Squad so I could shower as well.

Discontented, but ready to move on to the next thing, I decided to just jump in the shower and sing instead. I love music! Halfway through the shower, I began to hear Lisa’s sermon. It was surprisingly very clear, but the sound was coming from our bedroom—right outside the double doors that lead to our bathroom. I was confused. The phone (I could see it) was still by the sink in the bathroom. But the familiar sermon was playing and the unforgettable narratives Lisa tells in her “Lioness Arising” message were captivating my heart yet again.

You see, I had completely forgotten that my phone was connected to our Brookstone Bluetooth Speaker which was downstairs sitting on the kitchen counter. So all along, while my girls were trying to watch TV, they were hearing Lisa speaking from the kitchen-SMILE! Each time I had restarted the phone, they heard the message start again and again. I know! I assumed it wasn’t working—I was wrong, it was. The girls (they are ages 6 and 8 now) were so interested in Lisa’s message that they had literally stopped watching their kid’s show, carried the speaker upstairs, placed it as close to (me) as possible so that I could hear what they knew I was hoping to hear.

They seemed to understand something very important. Mommy has no idea this thing is playing just fine down here.  Apparently, proximity affects reception?! Who knew? Lol!

As soon as I opened the bathroom doors—the very first thought that crossed my mind was, “what thoughtful girls I have!” They were sitting right by the speaker, laughing and engaged.  They understood my need AND sought to help me out. All three of us were blessed immensely when it was all said and done! That message was incredible. The very next thought that followed without much thinking was the thought you read as the title of this devotion. Isn’t this almost always the case? We’re in a situation, we pray about it. We pray again, but we hear NOTHING. We throw our hand up in complete frustration. What’s the use? God does not hear us. This is not true. In fact, quite the opposite is true. God is hearing you just fine. You just don’t know how clearly He hears you.

That Bluetooth speaker is one of the clearest sound systems we have ever owned in our house!

And as I got to thinking about it, is not prayer wired precisely in that same exact way? It channels out of our hearts (spoken and unspoken sorrows, burdens, pain, tears, fears, struggles) right into the presence of the ONE these are intended for—a caring and HEARING God. In fact, God says this about Himself (Psalm 94:9 does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?) We may hear nothing but silence, but believe me if the angels were to carry God’s Ultra-Clear-Bluetooth within our proximity, we would seriously leap for JOY and lose the worry that plagues us. When the posture of our heart is humble, receptive and willing to search out God by CONNECTING with Him in prayer for guidance, provision, wisdom, healing, joy, and hope—heaven’s virtual Bluetooth (automatically turns on). You and I have no need to babble, repeat ourselves over and over or second-guess whether HE hears us. All that’s left is for us to believe that yes, indeed the sound of our prayers is CLEAR and AUDIBLE in God’s presence. So we must talk to Him like we talk to a trusted friend and believe that He will do for us what we have asked of Him! Here’s why we can…

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to HIS will, HE hears us. And if we know that HE hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of HIM. (1 John 5:14-15)cropped-marlene-maina-signature-black-and-white-jji.png