Unfriended

I saw that two real friends, people I have known for years, unfollowed me. Gasp!

Not long ago my husband and I were having a conversation about relationships. As he thought about a ‘friend’ he said to me, “I wonder what he really thinks of me? No, I really don’t care because it doesn’t matter.”

I told him about an app I have on my phone for one social media website. The app shows me who has stopped following me and who new followers are. I mainly use the app because of the accounts that follow only to unfollow later. I delete those accounts allowing me to interact with those who truly want to stay connected.

I simply have to release this to You and not care why

A few days before my conversation with my husband I was doing a routine deletion of these follow/unfollow accounts and I saw that two real friends, people I have known for years, unfollowed me. Gasp! I also noticed that they had not unfollowed other mutual friends. Yes, of course I looked! It is entirely possible it was done by accident as I have done this before. Or, maybe it wasn’t. As I thought about the possibilities of why, I decided not to fret. I told Jesus I simply have to release this to You and not care why. In that moment I experienced such a peace and calmness in my heart.

Human nature might be to immediately unfollow the real friends who have unfollowed us [oh, I thought about it!] but Holy Spirit reminded me of Whose I am. My identity is not found in who follows/unfollows me or how many likes I get [this is a delicate balance in the writing world because we are told we need to have a platform with followers, again all we can do is give this to God and allow Him to promote us and not be overwhelmed by striving for numbers]. My identity is in Jesus and Jesus alone. It would be exhausting to please everyone so I aim to please the only One that matters.

And at the end of the day the only thing that matters is if I shared Jesus with everyone I met so they would want Him to.

Perfect or Surrender

Some days it’s all about the prayer because if it isn’t then I’ll decide to do things on my own.

I use to be the queen of checklists. Okay, I still make lists. It’s either that or you’ll find me standing in front of the pantry wondering why I am there.

A checklist is how I use to approach my relationship with God.
Read my Bible ✅
Prayed✅
Did my Bible study✅
But this strenuous system soon burned me out and my time with Jesus became more of a chore than a relationship.

Jesus has taught me to live in the gray area where grace resides.

Terese Belme

I still practice the ‘check marks’ daily but I don’t put pressure on myself to spend time with Jesus in a certain way or in a certain amount of time. I suppose I should also add I am a black and white thinker and a rule follower and over the years Jesus has taught me to live in the gray area where grace resides.

These days it is so freeing to sit in His presence and choose to allow Him to show me how our time together will be. Some days I am immersed in His word and only have time to offer up a few prayers. Some days it’s all about the prayer because if it isn’t then I’ll decide to do things on my own and that can turn out disastrous for me and those around me. Some days its simply sitting in His lavish love not uttering a word-this one definitely takes practice! And, yes, some days all the check marks are accomplished but they are no longer check marks rather the ebb and flow of Holy Spirit guiding me.

What fills God’s love tank is that you simply choose to spend time with Him.

Today I bless you with a growing desire to spend more time in His presence.

Don’t Stop Now

When my mom opened the door her heart sank. She knew the only reason these men stood in front of her was as bearers of sad news.

The year was 1968. Two men, dressed in their Army uniforms came to our front door. One was an officer the other a chaplain. When my mom opened the door her heart sank. She knew the only reason these men stood in front of her was as bearers of sad news. She immediately thought that my brother, who was eighteen and had been drafted after he graduated from high school and sent to Vietnam, had been killed in combat. But these somber men who carried the news of a soldier’s death had the wrong house. Sadly, our neighbors son was the soldier not coming home.

My mom, devout in her religion, prayed three times a day everyday for my brother until he came home safely but not unscathed. He told us many stories with too many close calls. Stories of how he ought to have died but miraculously survived.

Maybe you’ve heard the expression prayer changes things. I believe prayer does change things but more than that I believe prayer changes the atmosphere around us. Prayer is a very real weapon that can stop the enemy dead in his tracks. Prayer infiltrates the unseen world like a stealth bomber causing ripples in the air not seen by the human eye and shakes up the constant warfare going on around us.

The Apostle Paul was a prayer warrior and an intercessor. He considered it an honor and a joy to pray for others. He knew the power of prayer and reminded others he was praying for them consistently. Paul’s discipleship heart was that all believers know and follow God’s will for their life. Asking God to fill them with His knowledge through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. So he prayed.

Maybe you don’t have anyone praying for you or perhaps you are a part of multiple prayer circles. I want to encourage you that I am praying for you asking God to fill you with His spiritual knowledge and wisdom drawing you closer to Him day by day. I am praying you will hear Him and desire to be obedient to what He tells you and what He shows you.

Prayer is our authority in Christ. Prayer changes things. Prayer changes the atmosphere.

#bestealth

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Life’s Simplicity

Don’t even think about following the bread crumb trail of evil—you’ll end up with worse than bread crumbs.

Life really can be simple but our human nature is to convolute our life by attempting to take control rather than surrender all to Him. And I am grateful in His grace He chooses to continue to teach me how to simplify my life.

Fearing the Lord is honoring Him. Following His guidance. Speaking words that encourage and brighten the life of others. Troubling thoughts that are given to Jesus and asking for Him to replace them with His thoughts about our identity in Him. Actions that cause others to take notice that there is something wonderfully different about you!

Shunning evil is turning aside from it. Don’t even think about following the bread crumb trail of evil—you’ll end up with worse than bread crumbs. This doesn’t mean we turn away from the evil being committed around us and around the world, no, rather in those instances we ask God how can we be a part of the change for His kingdom.

I love the word nourishment! It makes me think of satisfaction. God is our satisfaction in all areas of our life. Another reason to stay connected to Him daily for His nourishment to flow to us non-stop! Truly, the choice is ours it didn’t stop when we chose Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. Everyday we have the opportunity to choose Jesus. Not for salvation purposes [that choice is one time] but to choose Him daily for His wisdom, guidance, knowledge on how to live life.

Fear, shun, nourish. I pray you choose all three today and every day!

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Don’t Wait!

Over the years she had lovingly spent time writing her memoir. She wanted to tell her story of survival so others could know and experience the hope she had in Jesus. She was close to finishing [I had been praying for God’s miraculous healing on earth to be the final chapter she would write before being published] when my sweet friend went home to be with Jesus after a short illness.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Matthew 6:14.

The last time I saw my friend was when I went to walk her two beloved Goldens that were feeling a bit stir crazy because their momma hadn’t been able to take them to the park. I sat and talked with my friend for a few minutes and at the time she didn’t know the full extent of what was going on with her health except that her body was railing against her. My friend had the gift of prophecy which she knew and embraced. She also had the gift of evangelism and I’m not sure she realized that. She had no filter when it came to telling others about Jesus and why they ought to put their faith and trust in Him!

As I read Matthew 6:14 I thought about my friend which led me to think about how truly short life on earth is [none of us know when God will call us home]. I wondered, did my friend have any regrets? Were there people she had always meant to forgive or say sorry to and thought, ‘Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow?’ I don’t know the answers to these questions but I do know there is no time like the present.

God has given us the beautiful gifts of confession, repentance and forgiveness. Jesus is faithful to show us the sin and unforgiveness in our life and Holy Spirit is always ready to help us confess, repent and forgive.

If there are others you need to forgive or if you need to say sorry or if you need to confess and repent—don’t wait until tomorrow because tomorrow may never come.

Even in death on earth my friend leaves a ‘no filter’ unashamed legacy of loving and following Jesus.

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God’s Favor Over Sullied Food

Deep red and thick with the fragrance of fresh herbs and spices with an aroma so enticing my family and I would sneak dips of french bread into its richness while it was still cooking on the stove. But she knew, my momma always knew right when we were dipping and would call out, “Put the lid down.” Every Sunday my momma made her delicious homemade spaghetti sauce with enough pasta to feed an army and we welcomed whomever stopped by to enjoy a feast with us. Most Sunday’s she made meatballs to add to her sauce but every once in a while she added freshly made Italian sausage from my cousin’s store. Her oil and vinegar salad dressing was always perfect. She didn’t measure out the oil or vinegar she just knew by taste. My momma loved to cook, she was an excellent cook and baker and loved when her table was full with others enjoying the feast she prepared.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Daniel 1:8

While Daniel and his friends were in captivity the king had ordered they be fed from his own house; the royal food and wine. Daniel was not about to allow himself and his friends to be sullied by the king’s food that most likely included meat, fish, lamb, fowl and nuts, fruit and vegetables along with the wine to drink.

Many times other things look much tastier than what is already on our table. When what is on our table is from God nothing else compares in taste, smell, texture and satisfaction. God offers us food and drink that will never spoil regardless of how tasty something looks elsewhere.

We do have a choice to make. Will we choose what appears royally pleasing to the eye with aromas that seem delectable or will we choose the feast God has placed before us continually satiating our hunger?

I am afraid of my lord the king.

Daniel 1:10b

The chief official charged with overseeing Daniel and his friends was afraid that if he allowed them to forego the royal food and wine the king would punish him. Nonetheless, God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to them.

God does the same for us. He causes others to show us favor and sympathy which is a beautifully tangible reminder to us that His favor rests upon us simply because we have chosen Him and we are His kids!

As we stay connected to God [remembering there is no perfect way to spend time with Him except to ask Holy Spirit what that looks like for you on any given day] we don’t need to be concerned about fear. Jesus defeated fear and as we stand in His love for us fear has no chance at all.

Royal food and drink—we have no need because the Lord directs our steps directly to where His provision waits for us.

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He Calls You His

Their names were changed. Have you ever done a name change? When I was thirteen I added the name Marie to my middle name. When I applied for my driver’s license I added my second middle name to my license, without question or legal proof of the addition. Times were much different when I was 16!

The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:

Daniel was called Belteshazzar.

Hananiah was called Shadrach.

Mishael was called Meshach.

Azariah was called Abednego.

Daniel 1:7 NIV

Nebuchadnezzar took these four noble men of Israel, not coincidentally, from the lineage of Jesus, the tribe of Judah, and fed them daily delicacies from his own kitchen. He placed them in training for three years at which time they would serve the king. But, he changed their names.

But God had named them first.

  • Daniel’s name means God is my judge.
  • Hananiah’s name means God has been gracious.
  • Mishael’s name means who is what God is?
  • Azariah’s name means God has helped me.

As mentioned earlier, they were in training for three years before they would begin to serve the king. It can be like that in our life at times. We feel, sense, hear God’s call and anointing on our life but there is preparation to do.

When God calls us to His will for our life He begins by training us. Sometimes training is short and sometimes it can be a long process. He is always gracious and kind to show us each next step when He feels we are ready to move on.

Many times training involves an assessment of our heart by us. Perhaps there are things we are to confess and repent of so we can receive God’s healing and deliverance.

Training reminds us to be patient and wait for God to move. Many times easier said than done. However, we can trust that He has His will for our life under control. Our responsibility is to do only what he shows us regardless of all our wonderful ideas! As God trains us He opens doors of opportunity for us according to His timing and not any sooner.

Like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, who identified with the tribe of Judah, our identity is in Jesus the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

Nebuchadnezzar had their names changed to those of Babylonian god’s. As if that would cause them to disobey God. Their Hebrew names say it all, especially later in their story when they would find themselves in a fiery furnace.

  • God judged them worthy and righteous not to die.
  • God was gracious to them.
  • God helped them.
  • God reminded Nebuchadnezzar that no one is like God!

Our faithfulness is to God alone. These four men are excellent examples of a life lived believing in and trusting God. And we can be confident that whatever name the enemy calls us. God calls us His.

Builder of the Family Name

I often marvel at the grace and humbleness of royal families that are in the news frequently. They always seem to have a smile on their face and always seem to be kind to the press and paparazzi even as our culture has an odd sense of curiosity about them. They always seem mindful of their behavior upholding the family name.

Johoiakim was king of Judah during a period of time when Nebuchadezzar, king of Babylon took Judah captive. Nebuchadezzar ordered his chief of court to gather Israelite men from the royal family and place them in Nebuchadezzar’s service.

These royal men were builders of their family name. Through them the continuance of the Nation of Israel would be born.

Likewise, every believer in Jesus, the moment they believe, becomes a part of this ancient royal family. We may not wear crowns, and robes, and jewels of old and we may not be followed incessantly by the press and photographers. But we are royalty. We are sons and daughters of the Most High King. We are princes and princesses in the kingdom of God.

We have a royal duty and responsibility to not only build our heavenly family name but to bear our family name with integrity. To be honest, kind, gracious and humble. To practice forgiveness and learn how to hold one another accountable for Christlike behavior. Please don’t misinterpret. Accountability does not mean we are better than each other. Accountability is loving one another in Jesus and learning His characteristics together.

Accountability requires discipleship which is critical to a believer’s life. When we are open to be discipled and to disciple we grow together in our faith. We enter into community with one another and allow ourselves to ask our core circle of friends to hold us accountable.

I am blessed by a group of women who hold me accountable. They have no problem speaking truth, sometimes hard truth into my life. I welcome their voice in my life. They help keep me from tumbling down the rabbit hole of spiritual darkness.

Accountability partners. Don’t leave home without them.

Today’s reading is Daniel 1:3-4. Ask God for His revelation and journal any words, impressions or thoughts. Meditate and pray on these.

Shalom!