Welcome to 2022: A Bit About The New Year, Jonah, and Forgiveness

Happy New Year 2022 from yours truly!

Welcome to 2022!

This first post of 2022 is going to be pretty simple and casual because, to be honest, things are already starting to get crazy busy, and my mind can’t focus long enough this week to spend 3+ hours writing anything!

First order of business, I just want to say thank you to everyone who is reading this and beginning the new year by keeping up with Breathe Pray Repeat. It means SO much to me! Second order of business, I wanted to share a thought with you today on something that’s been on my mind for a while now, and it involves perception, forgiveness, human nature, and the account of Jonah.

From all the things I’ve heard said about Jonah throughout my life, I’d say the dude gets a pretty bad rap. Of course, he did literally try to run away from God’s commandment and was angry when God wanted to show others mercy, only being truly distressed when his plant died. But if I’m going to be completely honest with you, I have to say that I find Jonah incredibly relatable. You see, it’s easy when we read the Word to separate ourselves from the people we’re reading about as though we would never act or think like they did when they made mistakes. Sometimes, it’s easy to think of them as mere 2-D historical figures playing out a role in our heads rather than real, regular people. When we do that, we forget our own human nature.

Jonah did NOT like the people of Nineveh to say the least, and as I read a little about Nineveh, I began to understand why Jonah felt as he did. Nahum called it “the bloody city,” and witchcraft, murder, fornication, and other evils were abundant in Nineveh’s society (see Nahum 3). Suffice it to say, they were a truly wicked people committing unspeakable horrors and egregious evils. It’s completely understandable why Jonah, who knew full well what kind of people the Ninevites were, would not want God to pardon them (however wrong he was in his response).

Put yourself for a moment in Jonah’s sandals. You’ve seen and heard what the Ninevites do, and then all of a sudden, God tells you to go preach to them, and knowing God, you KNOW He will show them mercy. And (because you know how much evil they’ve done), you don’t want them to be given mercy. No. You want them to be punished. After all, how could they do all that evil and then get a free pass?

Ay, but there’s the rub. Therein lies the flaw in your thinking. And therein lies the point of the book of Jonah.

It isn’t about all the bad things the people of Nineveh did. They truly repented, and God always honors true repentance, and He offers forgiveness and mercy even though we don’t deserve it.

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Romans 9:14-15 (KJV)

Our human nature doesn’t want to look past people’s mistakes. That’s why we often want to hold grudges against others for hurting us. That may even be why we may want to judge Jonah for the mistakes he made. Our expectations of others can make us forget our own human nature and flaws.

God extended grace and mercy to the people of Nineveh as He does to you and me. He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins if we turn from our wicked ways and seek after Him. Jonah shows us an interesting study of human nature, but it also shows us that God wants us to be forgiving towards others as well.

No matter what so-and-so did or said to hurt you or others, forgive them. No, they don’t deserve mercy, but neither do you. God GIVES us grace. We don’t earn or deserve it. Our flesh causes us to judge others and hold grudges, but it’s the Spirit of God within us that helps us show mercy and love.

So, that’s it for today! It’s true that even after what we know about Jonah, I still relate to the dude for how real and imperfect he is. There is an account out there that states he came to his senses after the end of the recorded book of Jonah and praised God, so there IS hope even for us stubborn people!

Thanks for reading the first BPR post of 2022! There should be a guest post on here in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that as well.

God Bless,

Caitlin

The Reason Why Jesus Came: Reflecting on 2021

This is the last post of Breathe Pray Repeat…

…of 2021.

2021 has been an interesting year. For some, it’s been better than 2020, but for others, not so much. There’s been a lot of grief and loss for far too many this year. I know quite a few people who have lost loved ones, and my own family has been affected by grief after my grandmother and uncle passed away this summer. People are suffering, and just when it seems that burden has lifted, something else often happens to cause more grief.

As I began to reflect on this Christmas season and the mood many are feeling at the end of this year, I thought again of the song my church’s youth group sang for Christmas:

“For the broken, the unworthy, You came. Jesus, You came. For the wounded, for the hurting, for the lost, and for the lonely, You came. Jesus, You came.”

When I think of all the pain and loss many of us are feeling at the end of this year, I remember we’re exactly the kind of people Jesus came for. As Jehovah, He hadn’t experienced the same kind of sadness and grief and weariness until He wrapped Himself in flesh and became the Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ. He chose to walk and live among us and suffer sadness, grief, and persecution ALL for us. When Lazarus died, Jesus cried. So, He knew and knows what loss feels like.

You may feel defeated, weary, and weak, but Jesus came to lift that burden and give you hope. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

We have hope we’ll be reunited in Glory with our loved ones who have passed. We have hope we’ll get through every trial and come out of it stronger than before. When the joy of the Lord is your strength, you can learn to find joy and gladness even in the midst of less-than-ideal circumstances.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:13 (KJV)

As I look back over this year, I see a lot of sorrow and hardship for my own family. But I also see a lot of good memories. I see a lot of good people who have been there for us and with us through it all. I see how God carried us through our loss. I see how God blessed me with a job that I desperately needed. I can see the blessings of God even through the bitterness of difficult times.

And that gives me hope—hope for a great 2022 even if some things don’t go my way.

As you’re reading this, if you’ve suffered some kind of hardship this year, I want you to know Jesus came for you. He came to be your comfort on those sleepless and sorrow-filled nights. He came to be your strength when you can’t stand another day. He came to fight your battles against spirits of depression, infirmity, and despair. He came so that you might have life more abundantly, and He came to give you salvation and a future with Him.

Jesus, our Jehovah, had the first word in the beginning, and He has the final say.

This Christmas and New Year season, remember that you are never alone in whatever struggle you’re facing or battle you’re going through. Remember that you’re the reason why Jesus came.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:21-23 (KJV)

*****

Thank you to everyone who has read Breathe Pray Repeat this year, and a very special thank you to every person who wrote a guest post on BPR! You are all amazing, and I’m so thankful for you. I hope to bring more great content to you in 2022 and more great posts from guests that will encourage you and draw you closer to our God.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

~Caitlin

5 Ways to Avoid the Pitfall of Pride

“Everyone, look at me! I did a thing!”

That’s what many of us may often think or even say when we want people to pay attention to our accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong—I believe it’s okay to acknowledge when you’ve done something halfway decent. After all, it certainly isn’t helpful to tear yourself down when you’re doing your best. But attracting others’ attention to your own strengths or talents often leads to pride. And what follows pride?

Destruction.

We’ll go over 5 ways you can avoid the pitfall of pride in your walk with God. Today’s post is inspired by and taken from notes to a lesson by Tony Wyatt Jr, an associate pastor and the young adult leader at my church. (You can check out a full guest post by Bro. Tony on spiritual food for the soul through this link.)

1. Seek God in the good AND the bad.

“Lord, I need you,” is easy to say when things aren’t going so great. It’s easy to run to God when life is falling apart.

Now, I’ll admit it. I’ve certainly struggled with maintaining consistent, quality prayer time and Bible reading when things were going great. You may know how it is. You don’t have a pressing, dire need at the moment aside from the usual future goals and desires. You start to get a little distracted. Your prayer times don’t seem as fervent as they were just a few months ago. You’re reading fewer chapters of the Bible a day. Maybe you’re even going a day or two in a row without really connecting with God.

Whether it’s your job, school, kids, or other responsibilities, life tends to find extra things to distract us with when the status quo is pretty manageable. But the less we pray and study the Word, the more we’re almost telling God, “Eh, I got this for now.”

Cue narrator voice: “She did not have this for now.”

It seems as though many of us may feel we need God less in the good times. We run to God when the going gets tough, but when things are looking up, we prefer to rely on ourselves.

You see, those bad moments will test our faith and hopefully strengthen it, but those good moments will prove our resolve to have a strong relationship with God. When you seek Him in the good times as well, you’re showing God that you understand you still need Him and that you WANT more of Him. If you find yourself in a rut because things are pretty peachy, and you’re getting distracted, choose a time of day when you can give God your full attention and seek Him harder than before. Continue to fast, continue to pray, continue to study the Word, and God will take you deeper than before.

2. Let go of your desire to prove yourself.

Pride often develops through the desire to prove to yourself and others what you can do. When we focus on proving our talents or accomplishments to others, we’re obsessing over our abilities.

“I can do it. Just watch me. Look what I can do. Just wait. They’ll see.”

We don’t have to prove ourselves to others. The only one we should truly seek to please is God.

Jesus was literally God wrapped in the flesh, but he approached others, especially those who argued against him, not with a prideful attitude but with a meek and gentle spirit.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it now robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Philippians 2:5-7 (KJV)

Jesus made himself like a servant, and so we should follow His lead. Instead of trying to prove yourself to others, focus on serving others and pleasing God.

3. Don’t boast about your accomplishments.

This one takes us back to the opening of this post. Boasting about what you can do emphasizes the self.

It’s all about me. Look how talented I am. Susie can’t sing like I can. Bobby isn’t as smart as I am. I’m leagues above them. Pay attention to me!

Here’s a good thing to practice each time you accomplish something or improve a skill: tell yourself, “It’s because of God that I could do this. It’s His power and ability, not mine.”

When I was in college, every time I passed a test that I was terrified I’d fail, I knew it was God who got me through it. Trust me. I took an advanced Spanish class as part of my degree requirements, and while I can speak baby Spanish, I couldn’t speak it fluently to save my life. The final was a ten-minute, one-on-one conversation with my Spanish professor. To this day, I have no idea what I said during that conversation, and I have no idea how I passed with flying colors. I’ve joked that it’s because my professor must have taken pity on me, but truly, I know it was God.

Every good thing you do, every accomplishment, every skill you earn, remember that it’s because of God that you can do those things. In a culture that is all about the self, be the one that makes it about Jesus. Be the one that boasts of His power and accomplishments.

You may have a lot of talent and great achievements, and it’s okay to be pleased with a job well done, but remember this: God is the one who blessed you with your accomplishments and abilities.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

1 Peter 1:5 (KJV)

4. Put others before yourself.

You should also be the one who puts others before yourself. This society loves the term “self-love.” Now, it’s true that you can’t truly love and help others if you hate yourself. However, people tend to go overboard with the self-love concept nowadays.

“I need that $500 spa treatment. The kids can go without a few essentials this month. It’s my time.”

Remember the old saying you might have learned in Sunday school? J – O – Y.

Jesus.

Others.

You.

Put Jesus first. Put others second. Then comes you.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 (KJV)

Jesus’ ministry was all about helping others, healing the sick, showing mercy, and loving the needy. And that is what the church should be all about—reflecting the character of Christ, pointing people toward Him.

Pride is all about putting yourself first. True love is all about putting others first.

5. Be happy with what God gives you.

Finally, you do need to be content with what God has given you. Now, don’t mistake complacency as the same thing as contentment. I believe complacency and a lack of drive or willingness also bring about destruction as pride does, but contentment is about accepting what you have and finding ways to be pleased with it. (Side note: that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to be better or improve the skills God has given you.)

A prideful spirit boasts as though the things you have are because of your abilities, but it isn’t just that God is the one who has given you skills and abilities, He’s also the one who has blessed you with a home, food, clothes, and a job and provided for all your needs. And if you have such a need, He is the one who can fulfill it.

Matthew 8:20 shows us that Jesus didn’t even have a house or place to stay every night, but he was content: “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

Paul wrote of his contentment even when he was imprisoned in Philippians 4:

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:11-13 (KJV)

In verse 13, Paul hit at the key to avoid being prideful. I can do all things through Christ. Many people think of this verse as referring to just accomplishments or skills when Paul says, “I can do all things.” Sure, it does apply to those things, but Bro. Tony made the connection here between this statement and Paul’s circumstances when he taught this lesson recently.

Paul was able to endure his circumstances through Christ. It’s through Him that we can do all things, meaning we can endure hardship, overcome trials, experience loss, pain, disappointment, and heartbreak, and still trust in God, be content with what He’s given us, and finish the race strong through Christ who is our strength.

We don’t have the ability on our own to achieve great things. We don’t even have the ability to endure difficult times on our own and come through them stronger and wiser. It’s His Spirit within us that gives us that ability.

So, what’s the key to avoid being prideful?

Practice giving everything back to God—the praise, the glory, the credit.

He, not you, deserves it all.

A Thank-You Note to My Readers

Dear BPR readers,

Today’s post is simple. I want to thank you all for keeping up with and reading Breathe Pray Repeat this year. As my schedule has changed, I’ve changed up how often I release posts from twice a week to once a week to once every two weeks, but I truly appreciate every one of you who has kept up with these posts and stuck around even when BPR went on a brief hiatus.

To put it simply, for real, y’all are THE best!

I’ve dubbed BPR as the little blog that could because although BPR is a little blog with a small following, it still CAN glorify God and encourage others. It doesn’t matter if what you can do for God and others is small, if you have the ability and desire, then do your best, give it to God, and give Him the glory. He gave His life for us and died for our sins, so the least we can do is give what we have to Him. The least we can do each day is say “thank you” to the One who loves us no matter how many times we’ve messed up.

As my Pastor preached yesterday, Thanksgiving is a day we should reflect on 3 things for which we should be thankful:

  • God’s grace
  • God’s goodness
  • God’s guidance

Grace is something we cannot earn but is a gift from God. Because of His goodness, we receive grace and forgiveness for our sins. Because of His goodness, we are still alive, given another day to worship and live for Him. And because of His guidance, we can walk down the right path.

I don’t know about you, but I am particularly thankful to God for every time He’s shown me grace and goodness and has guided me when I’ve made a mistake. He is the road that takes us back to the path of righteousness. No matter what we may do or say, God doesn’t give us what we deserve but gives us what we don’t deserve – another chance and unending love and mercy.

I hope you all have a wonderful celebration with friends and family this week. There will be no blog post this Friday, and the next post will drop on the 10th of December.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Caitlin

3 Keys to Endurance

You’re going to make it. Just hold on.

Things you tell yourself when the going gets tough and your resolve is wearing thin.

Sometimes, life can be just too much, you know? Your finances are tight, there’s not enough time in the day or the week to get things done, and your bones begin to ache from all the stress. Maybe you’re tired from work, family drama, or just life. Maybe you’re tired of hearing about all the negative things in the news. Maybe you’re tired of waiting for things to get better.

Sometimes, you just want to lie down, escape, forget about all the stress, struggles, and negative news. Sometimes, you wonder how you’ll get through this.

When will I get to the end of this situation?
When will things finally get better?
How does one endure to the end?

Whether it’s life issues you’re struggling with or anxiously awaiting the day when the Lord calls us home so we can finally be free from this sin-sick world, here are three keys that may help you in unlocking your ability to endure to the end.

1. Though you may be tired, maintain your walk with God every day.

When I was without a full-time job for over a year, the waiting was getting pretty tiresome. There’d be days where I’d feel more confident than others, but on the days where I felt the deadline getting closer and the fear of being jobless with no insurance setting in, I often just wanted to take a nap, watch or read something, or do ANYTHING to take my mind off my fears.

What I discovered was the only thing that gave me peace and strength to overcome that situation was when I met with God each day and dove deeper into the Word.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)

Keeping up our prayer time then allows God to fill us with His peace that, in turn, keeps us going.

When you’re waiting for a blessing or just trying to get through a trial, perhaps the most important key to enduring that time is keeping up your relationship with God every day. It seems simple, but often our flesh needs simple reminders to get us back on the right track.

Often, my flesh wanted a quick and easy distraction, but those quick and easy distractions didn’t give me strength. They didn’t increase my faith in God. So, I studied Job. I read through the epistles. I made a point to set my phone aside and out of sight during my prayer time in order to get closer to God. And during that time, I grew. I developed my relationship with God.

Through prayer and reading the Word, we increase in the strength we need to endure.

2. Though you may feel overwhelmed, keep up your church attendance.

As my childhood pastor and lifelong spiritual leader Bishop Eddings has always said, “Church attendance is critical to survival.”

God never intended His church to be made up of scattered saints who never congregate together. It isn’t His Will for us to go to church only when we feel like it and to skip service and stay home when we “just can’t deal.”

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:25 (KJV)

As we get closer to Christ’s return, we must be committed to attending church even more.

Sure, we’re human. I’ve certainly woken up on Sunday mornings and wished I could sleep in and not have to dress up and go anywhere that day. For many people, when they have a lot on their plate, attending church is the first thing they bump off their list.

But as the song says, “I need you, you need me. We’re all a part of God’s body.” We need each other to survive. When we fellowship with the saints of God, when we worship together, pray together, and glean from the Word together, we increase in strength.

Instead of skipping church when life has you overwhelmed, get to church early to pray with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes, going to church and fellowshipping with your church family can be the healthy distraction you need to get through a difficult situation.

3. Though you may want to isolate yourself, confide in a friend or mentor.

Trying to endure financial, personal, or spiritual struggles alone will deplete your strength and wear thin whatever resolve you have left.

We must talk to God and read His Word, yes, but God doesn’t want us to be without His church. We must keep up our church attendance and fellowship with the saints, yes, but even that may not be quite enough to help us endure a trial.

Tell someone you trust what you’re going through and ask them to help pray for you about it.

This doesn’t come easy to introverted people like me who prefer to “suffer in silence,” as they say. The longer I was without a job and the more rejection emails I received, the more desperate and miserable I became. Though I was keeping up my devotional time and attending church, I needed a bit more help.

Finally, I mustered up the courage to reach out to a trusted mentor and spiritual leader whose advise and kind words and prayers encouraged me. Suddenly, I had a new confidence and assurance that everything was going to be all right. I believed again that I was going to make it. I would endure.

Find someone–a friend or mentor–to support you. If you have no one else, you should definetly always go to your pastor for guidance and prayer, and even if you do have someone, don’t forsake the importance of seeking wise counsel from your pastor.

So, if you’re reading this and feeling weary of an internal struggle or external pressures, you will endure if you do not give up.

Pray. Study the Word. Go to church. Talk to someone.

Endurance requires daily commitment to resisting distraction and defeat.

So, then, how committed are you to enduring until the end?

“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Matthew 24:13 (KJV)

On the Potter’s Wheel: A Guest Post by Camrie Houck

Tears slipped down my cheeks as I roared down that road in that little red car.

“Jesus, why am I so broken?” I uttered as I felt as though I couldn’t be put together again. I felt like I was damaged beyond repair.

But Jesus.

As I sobbed, I felt God’s comfort wrap around me, and I heard him say, “Yes, you may be broken, but you’re in the best place you can be. You’re broken, but you’re in my hands.”

Just these past few weeks, I have been broken. While life spun along around me, I stayed in the hands of the Potter, the very best place to be. When it feels as if everything in life is breaking us down, when life feels as though it’s completely and totally spinning out of control, you very well may be on the Potter’s Wheel.

Rest assured, dear friend, that even on the Potter’s Wheel, you are still in the hands of Jesus. Perhaps sufferings come not as a thing meant to break us, but to reshape us.

Sometimes, things that we have picked up in life, calloused wounds, and attributes that we are not meant to have are broken off of the jar known as “us.” We often misinterpret the surgical knife in the hands of the most knowledgeable surgeon as a knife murderously held at our throats. We mistake what was meant to reshape us for something that will break us.

Sometimes, some things come so that the glory of God might be revealed. As 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of power may be of God and not of us.”

Moving on to verses 8-9, we read this:

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (KJV)

Rest in this, dear friend.

“Perhaps sufferings come not as a thing meant to break us, but to reshape us.

Camrie Houck

You may feel as though there is something wrong everywhere you look. You may be perplexed, persecuted, and cast down, BUT you are not destroyed, you are not in despair, you are not forsaken.

You ARE in the hands of the man who loves you the most. The God of the universe who desires to commune with us.

Remember, even in the breaking, even in the shaping, even on the Potter’s Wheel, you are in the hands of Jesus.

*****

From a young age, Camrie has loved to write. Starting a blog has been a long-time dream of hers, so she finally took the leap and started her blog, Camrie Writes, in September 2021. On any given day, you can find Camrie working on her first book, teaching, or talking with family and friends about teaching or writing. Camrie is also a full-time public school substitute teacher and is studying to teach middle school. Be sure to follow along with her blog on Facebook or Instagram (@camrie_writes)!

Why You Should Put God First

I didn’t think it was that big a deal back then.

All summer long, year after year during my early teens, I often spent my mornings playing old video games. It was the first thing I’d do each day. I’d wake up, pop Spyro the Dragon into the PlayStation, and for several hours, I would do nothing else. When I got older and played video games less, I spent weekends watching movies and tv shows all day. Prioritizing my time well at 15 years old didn’t seem to be that important. I didn’t understand then that it was holding me back in my relationship with God.

Esau placed instant gratification over pleasing God. In Genesis 25, we read how he sold his birthright to his brother Jacob simply because he was hungry:

And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 25:31-34 (KJV)

Esau had no self-control nor did he place enough value in the things of God. Instead, he cared more about pleasing his flesh. We must be careful of the things we allow ourselves to consume lest they consume us. This often leads to idolatry. (In case you missed it, check out this post on how to get rid of the idols in your life.)

I know today’s post is rather simple, and most of you may have heard the story of Esau selling his birthright 100 times already. This post has been in the middle of my post queue for several months now, but I felt the need today to share it with you all. Perhaps this reminder is just for me, or perhaps it’s for someone reading this who has found that their priorities are out of order.

There have been many times (especially in college) when I became busy and started each day without prayer and studying the Word. Those days tended to be very chaotic, my mood wasn’t that great, and I never got everything done that I wanted to do. And I remember thinking by the end of the very bad, no good, and horrible day that if I’d just put God first, if I hadn’t let myself become distracted, if I hadn’t sacrificed the things of God for my own self-satisfaction, then the day might have gone better.

Putting God first doesn’t mean we won’t have bad days, but it ensures that our minds stay focused on what is most important. When we tend to our relationship with God, God will tend to the things in our lives that need His care.

Putting our flesh before God leads to sin and a lack of spiritual growth.

We can’t mature spiritually if we don’t endeavor each day to spend time with God and read His Word. Those who are spiritually immature often find themselves experiencing dry periods as well. When I’ve been in a spiritually dry period, it’s often because I had some growing to do. It takes a dry place to make one realize she needs to read and pray more in order for God’s Spirit to pour into and revive hers.

We must seek the rain of His Spirit and the well of His living water when we’re in a dry period, whether it’s due to mixed-up priorities, distractions, or what have you. We must examine ourselves and get rid of anything holding us back. God will take us to deep places when we seek after more of Him.

Some things to consider today:

  • What is your morning routine like?
  • How are you putting God first in your life?
  • Is there anything holding you back in your relationship with God?

The things of this world are fleeting as are the little pleasures that satisfy our flesh. But putting God first will bring us eternal joy and peace through a healthy relationship with Him.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Mark 8:36 (KJV)

This Is My Testimony

Don’t stop praying.

Recently, I came to understand the significance of persevering in prayer when God fulfilled a great need in my life. And with it, He increased my faith and gave me a testimony that I hope will bless and encourage whoever who reads it.

******

Lately, I’ve been singing the song “Jireh” a lot, but it has taken on new meaning for me ever since August 23rd. On that Monday, God blessed me with the full-time job I’d been praying about for over a year.

You see, I graduated college in May of 2020 and still had not found a full-time job. God blessed me with a part-time job as an online writing tutor last summer, and in the meantime, I had applied for hundreds of jobs in writing, editing, teaching, marketing, communications, clerical work, and the like.

Until about spring of this year, I never had a call back. Zilch. Nada. Nothing but rejection emails. I desperately needed a job.

As a diabetic still on my mother’s insurance and who will soon turn 26, my mind kept going to worst-case scenarios in which I wouldn’t be able to afford insulin and would end up back in the hospital. I went through cycle after cycle of applying for a round of jobs, believing God would open the door, hearing nothing back, getting discouraged, and taking a week or two off of applying until the pang of fear motivated me to search and apply for more jobs.

2021 came, and I set a deadline. God would bless me with a job by June. Come late spring, promising opportunities started to arise. I got calls back and emails that said employers were interested. Come summer, I started getting interviews. Still, nothing worked out.

June passed.

Then, I landed an interview for my dream job as an editor for a Christian company. I was the only candidate, so I was SURE this was the job God had for me. The interview went very well. The lady and I talked for an hour. I knew I could handle every job responsibility we discussed. She seemed very pleased. The following Wednesday, I received the rejection email:

“Thank you for your interest. Mrs. __ is declining to extend an offer at this time, but she wishes you the very best.”

How thoughtful of her.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t crushed. The news hit me harder than I expected. The following day, I hardly left my bed.

What was I going to do? Where else could I apply?
I’d tried everything else. All I could think was, God, help.

I sought counsel from trusted spiritual leaders, and when God helped me get back up again, I applied for more jobs the following week.

July passed.

The deadline to enroll in private insurance was getting closer. I needed a job right away, not in a couple of months, not by the end of the year. NOW. Unfortunately, my options were limited. It may sound picky to say, but I knew I wasn’t cut out to work in a customer-based role, and the thought of working a job that had nothing to do with my degree and that I wouldn’t be able to use my skills in nearly defeated me.

I knew what I’d prayed for so many times.

God, I need a full-time job with good pay, that I can use the skills I have in, and that will give me good insurance so I can keep my doctor.

I’d prayed that prayer since the beginning, and after all my worrying by the end of the day, I knew that God knew exactly what I needed. And He would supply. Somehow.

My sister put me onto an opening at an insurance company where she works. An associate underwriter job. I looked over the job description. Not exactly related to my degree, but unexpectedly, the description of the role and duties fit my experience as a writing tutor perfectly. Put very simply, I’d be working from a queue and reviewing documents for changes and accuracy. Nothing I wasn’t familiar with as a remote essay-writing tutor. My sister also checked the available doctors through the insurance the company offered and found all of my doctors were in-network, which was very important to me.

In that moment, I thought about my specific prayer for God to provide me with a job that would allow me to utilize the skills and experience I had and that would provide me with good insurance. Then, I applied. After a day or so, a recruiter contacted me to begin the process of interviewing me.

Take these tests. Set up a phone interview. Set up a video interview. Video interview went well. Oh, but you won’t hear from us for at least a couple of weeks while we interview others.

Great. And here I’d been praying that they’d call me the next day to hire me.

A week went by. The insurance deadline passed. All the while, I kept seeing posts on social media about a 12th hour miracle and that God was about to open doors for someone.

So, I claimed it and did everything I could to squelch fear.

God will provide, whether it’s with this job or another. He knows what I need, I kept reminding myself.

Sunday, August 22nd. I heard a minister in my church talk about speaking in faith in pre-service prayer. He told the story of a man who needed a job and prayed for one in a Sunday service. After the service, a woman came up to the man, offering him a job.

I wish that would happen to me, I thought.

That night, I prayed again in faith that the company would call me the next day to offer me the job. On Monday, I was out with my mother at Walmart when they called me.

Oh, no. This is it.

Worried, I let it go to voicemail.

What if it’s a rejection call? What if they just want another interview?

I’d been through so many interviews, I could hardly stand the stress of going through another.

I got home and called back right away, and the hiring manager said the words I’d been praying to hear for a long time:

“I’ve got an offer for you.”

I sat down on my bed and just listened as she detailed the job. Though I wouldn’t have expected it, it was exactly what I had prayed for all along.

This was taken the day before I got the good news, but this was 100% the face I made when I heard the recruiter say those wonderful words!

You see, even though there were many moments when I worried, doubted, and even feared that God might not fulfill my need on time, I did not quit praying for my miracle. As a wonderful mentor reminded me during a low point, we have to pray past our nothing—that moment when you’ve prayed until your body is limp, and yet nothing seems to change.

God is faithful. God will provide for you. He knows your needs, and He will never fail you. He knows your desires and wants to bless you with them if you will first delight in Him.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by feelings of disappointment in the waiting, but don’t let your emotions make you forget God’s neverending love for you. As a father loves to see the light in his child’s eyes when that child opens up gifts at Christmas, so does our Heavenly Father love to bless us with good desires that bring us joy.

David described an example of God’s endless love for us and of His goodness in Psalms:

“Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

Psalms 37:3-5 (KJV)

David also said several verses later that, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalms 37:25, KJV).

If we are ever going to see a victory, we cannot give up in the waiting. Continue to pray. Don’t underestimate the power behind speaking in faith and declaring your victory in the Name of Jesus. Live for God according to His Word and Will and walk forward in righteousness.

He fights our battles for us and wins the victory. All we have to do is praise Him for it in advance. Our Jehovah Jireh is enough.

He has never failed me and never will. My God came through for me, and I know He will do it for you.

Don’t stop praying!

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

Spiritual Food for the Soul: A Guest Post by Tony Wyatt Jr.

One of my favorite questions to ask someone is “What is your favorite food?” What is your favorite restaurant? Food is one of my favorite subjects to discuss.

Why? Because I love food!

Whether it is a huge burger piled with bacon and cheese or my favorite Mexican restaurant, I want food!

As I am typing this, I am thinking about what I am going to put in the smoker today to cook. Will it be chicken wings tossed with Suckle Busters Clucker Dust? Maybe a bacon wrapped pork loin stuffed with jalapenos and cream cheese. Or we could go with a beef brisket cooked to absolute perfection.

Photos courtesy of Tony Wyatt Jr.

Okay, I’ll stop boring some of you with all these details as some of you may just eat to survive only.

Food is essential to life! You cannot thrive physically without food.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Just as you need food physically, you also need to feed your spirit man. You can starve to death if you do not eat. The question is what kinds of food are you consuming spiritually? You will be offered food from this world to eat, but you cannot survive spiritually on the world’s food.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV)

One of my favorite dudes in the Bible is Daniel. He made a choice to refuse food that was not good for him. Instead, Daniel chose to eat what God wanted him to eat.

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Daniel 1:8 (KJV)

We have to refuse what this culture puts in front of us to consume if we are going to survive. Reject the bad and feed yourself with the good.

How do we feed ourselves spiritually? I’m glad you asked!

1. Consume the Word of God every day.

Your spirit needs to eat.

Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV)

Don’t starve yourself by neglecting the Word. If you have to, start small. You don’t have to feel that you’re required to read an entire book of the Bible in a day.

My mom always used to get on to me for inhaling my food so that I could go back outside and play.

Slow down. Consume it slowly. Enjoy the food.

Quality over quantity. You get more out of the Word if you study it deeply than by just trying to check off a box on a reading plan.

Food for thought: Devotionals are also a good way to get into consuming the Word of God daily.

[Editor’s note: Check out this great devotional at the Pentecostal Publishing House for starting out!]

2. Prayer

We have to pray if we are going to survive. Don’t starve yourself by neglecting prayer.

“Pray without ceasing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)

Prayer is like lifting weights physically. You get more powerful the more you do it. However, to hear the voice of God in prayer, you must turn off the noise and distractions.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:6 (KJV)

So, go set that phone in another room. Turn off the TV and feed your spirit man some food.

Bon appétit!

********

Tony is an associate pastor at Apostolic New Testament Church in Mount Vernon, Missouri, and before that, he served as the youth pastor for more than 20 years. He is also the current Hyphen leader over young and single adults. You can hear his sermons by following the Apostolic New Testament Church Facebook page. To get a taste of Tony’s barbequing and meat-smoking skills and to keep up with his ministry, check out his Instagram: @tonycwjr.

How to Handle Peer Pressure

If we live boldly for Jesus, we’ll stand out like a green leaf full of life amidst leaves that have dried up and begun to wither.

What do you do when you want to fit in but know you were called to stand out?

Welcome to the world of peer pressure where people you want to impress want you to do something that you don’t feel right about. Many of us who perhaps went to public school know what this is like. Now, I attended private school from the 5th grade and on, but until the 4th grade, I went to public school like most kids do and experienced a bit of peer pressure early on.

It was the first grade, and I was in Mrs. Patton’s class—a wonderful teacher. She was young and sweet and had us do action songs for fun. During one particular song (when I was wearing a matching cardigan, tank top, and skirt set), the boy and girl who sat next to me kept motioning me to remove my cardigan, which would leave my arms exposed in the tank top I had on underneath. I did not quite understand modesty or separation at this time. All I knew was that I was raised not to reveal my shoulders in public.

I remember the boy looking back at me and smiling as he nodded when I reached up to my cardigan to begin to remove it. I was a bit confused, unsure of what he and the girl meant at first. I liked them. They were cool kids. They made me laugh. Still, I had a sense that I shouldn’t do what they asked.

Then, the boy said, “Do it,” as he clapped to the action song.

So, I did, and he and the girl nodded again and cheered me on before looking back at Mrs. Patton to see the next action in the song. I don’t remember how long I kept my cardigan off, but I know I had it on when I left school that day. I never told anyone. What I did seemed harmless, but something inside my first-grader mind knew that my mom would be disappointed if she knew.

That was the only example of giving into peer pressure that I have from my public school years, but it helped me understand as I got older how to handle and how not to handle peer pressure.

1. Fall in Love with Pleasing Jesus

If we are to resist peer pressure, then we must first fall in love with Jesus and living a life that is pleasing to Him.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

1 John 2:15-17 (KJV)

When I first caved to peer pressure, I didn’t fully understand what I believed or why I believed it yet. As I got older, stayed in church, and developed a love for reading the Word, my love for dressing modestly to reflect His glory grew stronger. Eventually, I didn’t imagine what I might look like if I didn’t wear skirts or if I did wear makeup. Eventually, I didn’t groan and complain about having to find dresses with modest necklines. Eventually, I didn’t care about what others thought of the way I dressed because I fell in love with a lifestyle that was pleasing to my God.

2. Don’t Cave

I caved to peer pressure in the first grade, but it taught me a lesson not to do that again. I was lucky that I wasn’t pressured to do much worse when I was in public school, but many are not so lucky.

Some students may be pressured to smoke or do drugs. Some students may be pressured to go too far with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Some adults may even be pressured to do these things by coworkers or to go to a coworkers’ outing where they drink and party. Whatever you do, don’t cave in to others’ demands that make you uncomfortable and that you know are not pleasing in God’s eyes.

Paul wrote in Romans that we are to be a holy and acceptable living sacrifice to God:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)

It is only reasonable that we live for God in righteousness and resist the ways of the world. Sometimes, our flesh finds a way to confuse us, however.

I can remember times when I was a teenager and was around others who were listening to inappropriate music and talking about movies I wouldn’t dare share with my parents. I can remember feeling they shouldn’t be doing those things, but still I bopped my head to the music with them. I can remember thinking that I shouldn’t have been with them, but part of me wanted them to like me.

If you cave to peer pressure, then even if that thing that you end up doing doesn’t seem that harmless, it may invite spirits into your life that will linger with you longer than you’ll realize. And those spirits may influence you to do or say things in the future that will take you further from God.

Caving to peer pressure is dangerous for your spiritual survival.

3. Stand Strong and Love Others

Boldly embrace a lifestyle of separation from this world.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

2 Corinthians 6:17 (KJV)

The older I became, the more I loved being a born-again Apostolic who doesn’t look, dress, talk, or act like the world. By this time when peer pressure came knocking, I was able to keep from even opening the door and inviting it into my living room. However, as one lives a lifestyle of righteousness and separation, one should not become too prideful of that.

When friends or coworkers invite you to a bar to hangout, don’t respond by turning up your nose in a self-righteous attitude. That does not reflect the character of Christ, and it certainly does not make others want to go to church with you. As we stand strong in this faith, we must love others like Christ does.

Love those who invite you to those parties that you know you won’t go to. Decline politely, and if they ask why, take that moment to share your beliefs. Witness to the peers who pressure you out of love for them, not out of condemning them. They need to know that there is a better life than giving in to worldly lusts, and we are the ones who can show it to them by standing apart from this world.

After all, it is the love of Christ through us that compels people to live for God. We can resist peer pressure by becoming more like Jesus and hiding His Word in our hearts, and when we do, His love in us will draw others to Him.