Anna's Alcove

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Author: Anna (page 1 of 9)

Do Not Fear

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity
(of cowardice, of craven and cringing fear),

but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love
and of a calm and well-balanced mind

and discipline and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

After taking a few minutes to scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook this morning, my heart was saddened. With the recent election results and the fact that a non-political person was elected to office, there’s a huge spirit of fear taking over our nation. People are lashing out, saying we’re doomed as a nation and basically disrespecting those in authority over us… and it’s all because of fear.

As Christians, we’re not made to fear. We should be the positive light shining brightly on social media, encouraging people to trust our Almighty God. “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1) No matter how bad things seem right now or how ridiculous it may sound to say we elected a reality show host to be the 45th president of our nation, there’s no need to let fear take control.

Try to trust that God has everything under control, because He does. Look on the positive side of things. At least we don’t have a really corrupted politician in the presidential seat and there’s always checks and balances in case things really get out of hand. Don’t let fear steal your joy. Remember, “the thief does not come except to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Everything will work out. God has a plan. We just have to trust him and respect those in authority.

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Reap the Benefits

Don’t you just love it when God unexpectedly hits home a truth that you’ve always known about but never took the time to meditate on? That’s exactly what happened to me yesterday. It’s a simple truth, but once I spent some time reading and talking with God about it, the revelation of what it actually means for my life took hold and got me all excited about living as a child of the Most High!

All this past week, I’ve been listening to Dan Mohler’s “School of Kingdom Living” series. He’s been speaking on our identity in Christ and what standing in that revelation means for our everyday lives – from praying continually for each other (Colossians 1:9) or learning how to have an actual relationship with our heavenly Father.

One of the verses he mentioned was Psalm 103:1-5.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Does anything in this passage stick out to you? It certainly did for me!

As I was reading along with Dan, he pointed out the word “benefits.” Defined as “an advantage of profit gained from something” or “to receive an advantage, profit, gain,” it’s a word that doesn’t have any strings attached. It’s a gift you receive by being a part of something.

Well, I immediately shut off the laptop and spent some time asking God what He had for me in this passage. I read it again… and was completely floored by the realization of how incredibly blessed we are as followers of Christ. We get all of these things – forgiveness, healing, redemption, crowns, satisfaction and youth – just by being a child of the Most High God! There are no conditions and no stipulations. It’s all completely free!

Take a moment to evaluate your life. Where has God shown up? What things has He unexpectedly provided before you even asked for them? How have you been healed? I know it can be hard at times to see the blessings during the difficult times, but taking the time to meditate on how He has blessed us in the past can help to open our eyes for the blessings that are to come.

If you’re having trouble coming up with more than one or two blessings, ask Him to show you examples that you may have missed. He’s faithful and will be happy to share with you. For “the Lord your God is in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).

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Be Radiant

Have you ever read or heard a verse that leaves you puzzling for days? Whether you’re a new Christian or have been a believer for a while, God’s Word always has something new to offer. There are so many levels to the letter that He’s written us in the Bible that there’s no way that we could know and understand everything about our heavenly Father. It’s  a constant learning process.

A couple weeks ago, I encountered this verse in two completely different setting. The first one was an online speaker I was listening to (Katie Souza) and she was talking about how God is light and how we’re able to speak light because His Holy Spirit dwells within us. The second instance was after a powerful prayer time at church, where a majority of my church family (including me) received prayer for freedom in Christ.

The verse was Isaiah 60:1 (AMP), and it reads like this:

“Arise [from the depression and prostration
in which circumstances have kept you – rise to a new life]!
Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord),
for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!”

At first, I didn’t take much notice of it. I acknowledged it as a good verse to think about and probably posted it as my Facebook status for that day. Then I heard it repeated by my pastor on Sunday and he expounded on the fact that we’re not called to just sit back during this thing called life. We’re called to freedom in Christ and the power that comes with that is too great for us to not act upon.

That caught my attention.

So, throughout the last two weeks, I’ve been puzzling over what this verse could mean for my own individual walk with Christ. I came to the obvious conclusions – yes, the old me is dead and I am made completely new, the glory of the Lord is mine and I am the light of the world. But I knew there had to be more to it than that.

I kept pondering… and then it hit me.

The only way I can truly shine for Christ and become that light is to hunger after His word! If I’m continuously thinking about His Word, meditating on what it could mean for my life and diving into the Word for more, I won’t be able to contain the fire that will ignite in me. God doesn’t want lukewarm Christians; He wants us to be on fire for Him, to be a light that attracts the lost, to reveal the truth that is within us…

to “be radiant with the glory of the Lord”!

Don’t settle for less. Make an effort to spend time in the Word every day. Ask for a spiritual hunger and revelation if you find yourself struggling. God wants nothing more than to reveal Himself to you and when you ask, He will most certainly follow through. 🙂

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Greater Is He That Is In Us

Have you ever found yourself wishing for a miracle?

There are numerous times where Christians want God to step in to save them, whether it’s dealing with a financial situation, an unexpected injury or some other joy-stealing circumstance. In most cases, we’re praying for God to make the first move, but what if He’s waiting to perform the  greater work through us?

Let me explain what I’m getting at. In John 14:12-14, it says:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also;
and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father.
And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

Remember how I was alluding to the greater power that is at work within us in previous posts? The minute the Holy Spirit enters our life, He immediately starts transforming us into the image of Christ. Sometimes it starts out slowly and other times it’s an instant change, but in the end, we have the mind of Christ. What does that mean? Exactly what John 14:12 says! As long as we believe in Him, we have the power to do greater works than Christ did because He is seated victoriously at the right hand of the Father.

So, how does this work? That’s where the second part of John 14:12-14 comes in. All we have to do is ask. Now, keep in mind that He doesn’t say He will do it “immediately,” “right away,” or anything like that; it’s all based on God’s timing. But we have the assurance that there is a greater power at work within us and that God has heard our prayers and will follow through on His promise of doing something about it.

The bottom line is, don’t hesitate to ask for a miracle. It doesn’t matter what the situation is – our God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8)! He is our Healer (Psalm 41:2-3)! He is our Provider (Phil. 4:19)! He will never change, which means that we can always count on Him to raise us up with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

He might choose to step in and save the day or He might want us to take authority over the situation in Jesus name and perform the miracle through us. No matter what the circumstances are, we can rest assured that our God is faithful and will never fail us nor forsake us. (Deut. 31:6)

 

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You Are Complete in Him

The spirit of fear is a nasty thing to contend with. It can creep up, whisper lies into your ear and convince you of something that hasn’t even happened yet, leaving you curled up in a little ball, holding your head, shaking and squeezing your eyes shut in an attempt to block it all out.

If you’ve ever dealt with fear and anxiety, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Ever since meeting my wonderful husband, God has been taking me on an incredible journey to reveal who I am in Him and what it means to truly live as a daughter of the Most High. During that process, He’s brought to light how much of a hold fear had on me and how I needed to be set free of it in order to fully imitate Christ’s lifestyle.

Fear and worry used to be a big thing in my life. Whenever events or situations came up, my first response would be to worry about all the “what ifs.” What if they don’t like me? What if this sickness turns into a horrible disease? What if our plans don’t work out? What if I never get married? What if I fail at being a Christian?

And the list goes on and on.

The spirit of fear is something the devil traps us with, making us think that it’s part of who we are and something we just have to deal with for the rest of our lives. But what many of us don’t realize is the complete freedom that is waiting for us in Christ! All we have to do is take hold of it and believe in His goodness and grace. As Dan Mohler said in his “School of Kingdom Living” series:

Don’t take to heart what the devil throws at you,
for you have already been delivered! It’s not who you are!

You don’t have to listen to the lies. Why? Romans 8:1 puts it plainly:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)

As long as we have God on our side, we can stand firm in our faith and turn to the One who saves whenever we feel another bout of fear coming on. Now, I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy. I struggled for three consecutive months to rid my life of fear and anxiety – crying out to God, leaning on my husband, curling up in a ball just wishing the world would leave me alone.

But once you come to a realization of what it means to live as a child of the Most High God, it becomes easier to reject the lies that the devil throws at you. “Once you’ve submitted to God, you’ve already resisted the devil. There’s no need to tire yourself out by fighting” (Dan Mohler). It’s all about having the mindset of Christ and continually being refreshed by the Spirit.

How do you accomplish that? Through communion and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Spend time in the Word. Pray. Talk with God and wait for Him to respond. “The key to resisting the devil and making him flee is to build yourself up in God” (Dan Mohler)

 “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
and you are complete in Him,
who is the head of all principality and power.”
(Col. 2:9-10)

You are loved by the Creator of all things. Praise Him in the dark times and He will set you free!

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Righteous Identity Through Godly Reality

Many times we have trouble fully grasping the potential we have as sons and daughters of the Most High God. If you haven’t been taught about what it means to stand firm in your identity and to operate in the Spirit on a daily basis, then coming to a complete understanding of who we are in Christ can be a tough step to take.

Let’s start by reading the first part of Colossians 1:21, where we see a brief description of who we were before accepting Christ :

“And you, who one were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works,”

Not a pretty picture, right? But thankfully doesn’t stop there. Let’s read the rest of the verse:

“…yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death,
to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.

So, what does this mean for us as followers of Christ?

Well, for one thing, we don’t have to give in to the lies that the devil keeps whispering in our ear. As Dan Mohler said in his “School of Kingdom Living” series, “Don’t take to heart what the devil is throwing at you, for you’ve already been delivered.” The minute you decided to believe in Christ, your old, sinful self died and you took on a new identity (Christ’s). This means that you’re “above reproach” in God’s eyes, so whenever the devil tries his tricks, all you have to do is stand firm in the reality of your identity and turn your focus toward heaven.

I’m not saying it’s easy the first time, but the more you practice praising Jesus and thanking Him amidst your low points, the easier it gets to focus on Him and not the situation.

The next part of understanding what it means to be “holy, blameless and above reproach” is to operate in our “righteous identity through godly reality” (Dan Mohler). Since we are completely made new in Christ,  we have ability to see the world through His eyes and make a difference. All we have to do is ask Him to show us. By opening your heart and mind to what the Spirit has to say or listening to those nudges to pray for people, you’re starting to take a step toward operating within the spiritual realm.

What it really all comes down to is knowing who you are in Christ. Don’t give into the lies; stand firm in the reality that you are a “new creation,” “holy, blameless and above reproach!”

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Realizing Our Identity in Christ

“Love has been perfected among us in this:
that we may have boldness in the day of judgement;
because as He is, so are we in this world.”
(1 John 4:17)

Read that last line one more time – “…because as He is, so are we in this world.”

Now take a moment to really think about it. If you still don’t fully comprehend it, that’s just fine. It took me over a year to figure out what that part of the verse meant in my life and, to tell you the truth, I’m still getting revelations about it.

It all comes down to your identity. Do you really understand who you are in Christ? What being a son and daughter of the Most High God means for your life? Dan Mohler, a pastor known for his enthusiasm and unashamed passion for Christ, has a series on YouTube called “School of Kingdom Living.” It details who we are in Christ and how a realization of that identity can completely change our lives.

One of his points is that Christians tend to base their potential in Christ off of what they feel. If they don’t feel super spiritual one day or if they’ve stumbled in some way the next, then it’s as if they’ve fallen to the bottom of the slippery slope and have to crawl their way back up to the top. That’s not the way it is at all, according to Mohler:

“He did not die to expose that you’re sinners.
He died to remove sins and to expose that you’re sons!”
(Dan Mohler)

It’s not like we have to earn a certain number of points in order to perform miracles in the Spirit or to hear from God. He sees you as a completely new creation and is ready to reveal Himself to you in this moment.   All you have to do is confess or declare that it’s not you that stumbled and thank God that the old you is dead and gone. Praise Him for making you a brand new creation and step into the revelation that Christ is still within you. There’s no way you could ever lose your sonship.

Overall, it’s an understanding of love that opens our hearts and minds to this revelation. By believing that “love has been perfected among us in this…” we realize who we are in Christ. Through that, we can live by what we believe and manifest that in the world around us. So don’t get down on yourself about how you may have messed up or how far you have to go to obtain that level of righteousness.

Receive and accept the identity that has been granted to you today through Christ!

 

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Re-Igniting the Fire of Passionate Worship

What would you do if you caught a glimpse of the throne room of God? Dance for joy? Gawk in awe? Fall flat on your face out of respect and fear? Sadly, these aren’t the responses of many Christians who participate in worship. Whether it’s singing in church on Sunday morning or gathered with a group of believers on a week night, worship is supposed to bring you into the presence of the Most High God. Yet most times our “worship” can seem like just another song that happens to be on the agenda. If our focus and our heart aren’t in the right place, what was meant to be a special time in the throne room of our Heavenly Father can easily turn into a less-than-meaningful experience.

Worship requires a certain level of intentionality, passion and focus. So, how do you achieve this? Spend time in His Word! No, I don’t mean just anywhere in the Scriptures. Seek out passages that talk directly about His glory. For example, this past week, my small group read through Ezekiel 1, where he describes the vision he had of the glory of God:

“… a whirlwind… a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself;
and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber.”
(1:4)

“… within it came the likeness of four creatures…
Each one had four faces and each one had four wings…

each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side,
each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had a face of an eagle.”
(1:5-6, 10)

“The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures
was the color of an awesome crystal,

stretched out over their heads… and above the firmament over their heads
was the likeness of a throne,

in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness
with the appearance of a man high above it.”
(1:22, 26)

“…and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were,
the appearance of fire with brightness all around.
Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day,
so was the appearance of the brightness all around it.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of God.”
(1:27-28)

Just take a moment to picture all of that. Read through those portions again if you have to. It’s pretty amazing, right?

DSCN1310-2Once you obtain a revelation of how awesome our God is, the intentionality, passion and focus of worship should happen naturally. I find that reading and picturing passages like the one in Ezekiel help me to focus on God’s glory during a time of worship. I mean, it’s super difficult to be nonchalant in worship while picturing something as wonderful as the throne room and majesty of God.

Worship was meant to be a tangible experience for every believer. It shouldn’t become a routine. It shouldn’t be obligatory. Worship should be a time of expressing your love and awe of who God is. It’s an intimate time with your Creator who loved you enough to give up His own Son in order to secure your redemption. Don’t waste a moment of it.

“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father,
to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
(Rev. 1:6)

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Bask in the Presence

“He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weigh of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of this afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful
You are and how great Your affections are for me.” 

“How He Loves Us” is one of my absolute favorite worship songs and it’s recently become my life goal… to realize just how much God loves me! Have you ever taken a moment to just meditate on how vast and how deep that love must be?

Let me tell you, it’s something worth contemplating 🙂

Ever since marriage, God has been opening my eyes and heart to the meaning of pursuing a love that never fails and what is actually possible when we live our lives in complete dependence on Him.

 

DSCN7908I recently joined the worship team at my church as a second female vocalist. Over the last few months, we have done two outreach events at different parks (one in Easton, PA, and the other in Quakertown, PA) and He has shown up every time. We just did the outreach in Quakertown this evening and I was told before we started that God was going to speak to me during our worship time. Of course that got me all excited and, sure enough, about halfway through singing I hear this voice in my head that said, “I love you, My child.”

Woah.

I grinned and kept right on singing, just losing myself in the worship and not worrying about the people who might be watching (which is a new thing for me, because a few months back, I would be super nervous about singing in front of people).

Then I heard this: “Just bask in My presence. Pursue me and I will do things that are beyond your wildest dreams.”

Imagine the tears of joy that welled up when the next song was “How He Loves Us:”

“And we are His portion and He is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
if His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest.”

When God speaks, it’s not always a clear voice. He’s spoken to me in so many different ways – creation, His Word, a thought, books, photos, people – and this was just a crystal clear thought that came outta nowhere and stuck in my mind. I’ve been asking God to reveal Himself to me in new ways each day and He has! In Matthew 7:7-8 it says:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives and him who seeks finds and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

It’s that simple. All we have to do is ask.

God loves us. We are His special, chosen people who He wants to bless (1 Peter 2:9). During the short time that I’ve been on the worship team, He has opened my eyes to the true meaning of worship and how freeing it can be. It doesn’t have to be a routine, gotta-get-it right-every-time type of thing. Yes, you have to be good stewards of your talents and practice, but don’t get so caught up on the technicalities that you lose sight of the reason you’re up there.

As the author of Hebrews said in chapter 13:

“Therefore, by Him, let us continuously offer the sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of your lips, giving thanks to His name.” (vs. 15)

Make it a daily practice to bask in His presence and in His Word. Pursue your Heavenly Father and He will come running to meet you! Once you realize or remember the joy and wonder of being in constant praise and adoration of our Savior, you’ll never want to stop 🙂

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But first… praise!

God has a knack for blowing me away with how awesome He is!

Ok, so a couple weeks ago, I was reading the story of Jehoshaphat, which can be found in 2 Chronicles 20.

Jerusalem was surrounded by a mass of enemies – the Moabites, Ammonites and others – and the situation was looking pretty grim. It seemed like there was no way the Israelite army could win this battle. So their king, Jehoshaphat, did the most logical thing… he stood in the house of the Lord before the entire assembly of Jerusalem and declared:

“O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations,
and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?
… If disaster comes upon us – sword, judgement, pestilence or famine – we will stand before this temple
and in Your presence… and cry out to You in our affliction and You will hear and save.” (vs. 6, 9)

Uhh, what? Even if they starve, are tortured or killed, they would still stand before their God, assured that He would save them? Why did the king say this?

“For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us;
nor do we know what to do,
but our eyes are upon You.” (vs. 12)

Ah, there it is.

King Jehoshaphat realized there was no way they could defeat the enemy on their own power. The only thing that could possibly save them in some way was their God – our God of today – who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and never forsakes His people or His promises (Deuteronomy 31:6).

So how did they prepare for this impossible battle?

The king’s pep talk can be found in verse 17: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them for the Lord is with you.”

Wait a minute. They won’t need to fight? How can the king be certain of this?

Ohh, just you wait. It gets better 🙂

Ok, so far we know where Jehoshaphat stood and that he was completely depending on God for this victory, but how in the world was He going to carry out this amazing rescue without losing a single Israelite?

Well, the king’s next move was to bow before the Lord and worship Him, with the Levites and others standing “to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high” (vs. 19). Then he encouraged them to “believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (vs. 20b)…

… and then appointed more singers to praise the Lord.

Hold on. More singing? Uhh, didn’t they have at least three massive armies outside their gates waiting to completely destroy them?

“Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon,
Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated…
so when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude;
and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped” (vs. 22, 24).

DSCN1805Salvation happened immediately! See? Right when they BEGAN to sing – not during, not an hour or two after, but when they first started! – God swept in and ambushed the enemy.

Yikes! I can’t even begin to imagine what it must’ve been like for the armies outside the walls. Maybe they could hear the praises and singing coming from the city and were scoffing at the people inside. Maybe they were partying and drinking, celebrating their coming victory a little early. Who knows?

All we do know is that when Judah came out of the city the next day, they saw fields filled with dead bodies, possibly the embers of multiple fires still burning and ragged tents and flags blowing in the gentle breeze.

And get this: it took them 3 days to cart away the loot from all the camps.

Three days!! Talk about abundant blessings from God 🙂

“Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front  of them,
to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies…
Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around” (vs. 27, 30).

Why do we fear? Seriously, if our God can take care of multitudes of soldiers whose end goal was to take out Judah completely, then why do we fear in today’s society? We already know where we’re going when we leave this earth and we have the assurance of God’s promises and faithfulness during our life here.

And did you catch that last part?

“God gave him rest all around”

That is the epitome of Matthew 11:28: “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Don’t stress about what’s coming up in life. Praise Him first. In all things, praise! And He will give you rest 🙂

(didn’t I tell you my God is pretty awesome?)

 

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