“Valley Squatters”

The legal definition of a squatter is a person who occupies real property without a claim of right or title.

This week’s blog post is for those of us who have been living as Valley Squatters. Instead of passing through the Valley, we are trying to live there; but that’s not our property, nor is it our final destination! I have been there. Tired of trying, but not seeing any progression; becoming entangled with the cares of this world. Knowing the Valley is not it for me, but becoming discouraged by the many shrubs and trees, it can become difficult to see the pathway out. This is especially true when we blame ourselves and believe that we are there because of something we did.

Yea, though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).

I believe we all will have to walk through the Valley at some point in life, but we are not meant to live there! Think about Squatters Rights: oftentimes, they have so many days to remain where they have been dwelling before they have to vacate. This is the way we should approach our Valley experiences. We should know that we only have a certain amount of time before we have to get out of there. It was never meant for us to live there or dwell there indefinitely.

If we are not careful we could try to stay there and make the Valley our permanent home because of fear, fear of failure, fear of what’s ahead; and some of us will even try to convince others who have made the decision to keep moving to stay. We will try to get them to stay with us, we will try to control them with our fear, and that is not what God has predestined for us. We are to pass through and as we are passing through, and we gain strength, it is our responsibility to help pull others through as well. We can not stay there!

It is so important for every Believer to have a firm foundation upon which we can build our faith. We can have victory passing through the Valley. We need the knowledge, through the Word of God and relationship with Him, to help us endure the journey, without getting discouraged or giving up. We must refuse to settle for living as Valley Squatters. We can stop the horse and pony show; trying to convince ourselves and others that we are happy or content. We cannot afford to waste time settling there in hopelessness and despair. Purpose and Destiny awaits us.

Let’s Pray:
Lord God, I am so glad that You are a very present help in times of trouble. You said, even if we make our bed in hell, You are there with us. Your Word declares that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. My prayer is that You will help me stay my course and pass through the Valley. Father give me the endurance to keep moving, no matter what obstacles I may face. Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil. Lead me along Your paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. I decree I will not become a Valley Squatter because I am an Overcomer! In Jesus name, Amen.

So, That Settles It. Pass Through the Valley. Stay focused! Remember, you are not a Valley Squatter! It’s not your home. You don’t have to fear, God is with you and He will comfort you. Keep going. The best is yet to come!

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The actual definition of a Fingerprint, is the impression or mark left by the underside of the tips of the fingers or thumbs. The impression is formed by a pattern of ridges on the skin surface. This pattern is unique for each individual and therefore can serve as a means of identification. Think about when a child touches the window or a white wall with stained hands and everyone can see the child’s Fingerprints. We can leave that same kind of impression on the lives of the people we encounter. So, when they meet others who are facing some of the same issues they once faced, they will be able to use what we shared with them and encourage others. They will remember us every time they share with others, hence our individual/unique Fingerprint will touch the lives of many through one initial touch.

Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another (Romans 14:16-19).

In this life, we all have an opportunity each day to leave our Fingerprints on the hearts of those we encounter, the things we touch, and the works we complete. It’s up to us whether it is a good impression or a stain. We can either allow the oil of joy to flow through us and bless others, or leave them with the stain of bitter discontentment. There are already way too many people who are haphazardly, and sadly some intentionally, leaving horrible scars and stains on the hearts of others, let’s not add to the number. Instead, let’s try to minimize the impact of those negative wounds with something positive.

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Recently, I had the privilege of witnessing some of the works of my hands from over 8 or 9 years ago. It felt so good to hear and be reminded of how my actions or words impacted the lives of others, simply by doing what I was placed here to do. Now, my Fingerprints are imprinted on their hearts and in their minds and they are forever grateful. I know many of us have undoubtedly left our Fingerprint on something or someone we have touched in our lives. So, this week, let’s make it intentional; not for vainglory or the applause of men, but simply because we realize that we have the power to impact the lives of others in a positive way, and all it takes is to do what we were designed to do: Bless others.

Let’s Pray:

Lord, thank You so much for loving me in spite of me. God help me to endeavor each day to leave the Fingerprints of love, joy, peace, patience, and gentleness upon the hearts and minds of every person I encounter. Father, give me Your Divine Wisdom to never be overcome with evil, but instead to always overcome evil with good. My desire is for people to see You when they see me and to hear You when I speak. I want my Fingerprint to resemble Yours in the lives of everyone I touch. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me; Father strengthen me to be the Best me You predestined me to be, and in turn, share that greatness with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

So, That Settles It, make it your life’s work to reach old age and look back over your life and smile knowing that you left your Fingerprint on the lives of many; and even though they may not always mention you, that which you imparted into them has not only blessed them, but will continue to bless others for generations to come.

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“Fit In or Stand Out”

Why is it that some people try so hard to Fit In, while others try just as hard to Stand Out? I am reminded of a woman I knew who earnestly desired to be accepted by a group of women, but she was initially rejected. Later on, for whatever reason, this same group of women decided to accept her, and she couldn’t be more happy. I was perplexed, because I am the total opposite; I have never Fit In, even when I wanted to. I have accepted it, and now I embrace standing out.

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ (1 Peter 3:15-16 NLT).

The Battle Between Fitting In or Standing Out:

Maybe you can relate to the woman who felt she had to Fit In. If so, this week I want to encourage you to be okay with Standing Out. Trying to Fit In is hard work! You have to be everything the group says you should be, you risk losing yourself as you try to please others, and you will undoubtedly have to compromise something(s) at some point. I have found that many times, the people who try so hard to Fit In are those who are not secure in their own identity, so they try to Fit In and allow their worth to be predicated upon the opinions of those in the group. When you Fit In you are subject to the reputation of the group. So, if it’s a group of “Gossipers,” guess what? Whether you do it or not, you are now considered a “Gossiper.” If it’s a group of “Silly Women,” you are now classified as such, guilty by association.

Now, when I reference Standing Out, I don’t mean performing flamboyant acts in hopes of gaining attention. No, I am actually referring to the man/woman who has been bought with a price and claimed for the Kingdom of God. You Stand Out even when you try to Fit In. To you, initially, it feels like rejection, because the group can’t relate to you; and until you come to terms with it, you despise the thought of Standing Out. If you find yourself in this situation, you have two choices: Try harder to Fit In and fail miserably, or accept that you were meant to Stand Out. For those of us who have been ordained to Stand Out, we must remember that it’s not just about us, but it’s so that lives can be saved and people delivered and set free. We must boldly speak the Word, in season and out of season; when people like it and when they don’t. Even though we may feel alone at times, we have to remember that God is always with us, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Finding Proper Balance:

Fitting In is not a bad thing because we have to be able to get along with others and dwell together in unity. So, we all should be able to Fit In as needed (get along with and work well with others); however, we should not HAVE to Fit In to feel validated. When you are called to Stand Out, maintaining proper balance is so important because there are times when you may have to get down in the trenches or in the fire to pull others out that they too might be saved. But hear me, reaching down to pull others up does not mean that you should have to compromise, or try to Fit In, to win them over. NO! Standing Out requires a level of boldness and confidence in God knowing that even if they reject the invitation, they aren’t rejecting you, but they are rejecting God. We have to maintain a pure heart and know that if we are called to Stand Out, it’s not about us, but it’s for the Glory of the Kingdom of God.

Let’s Pray:

Father God, I thank You for every blessing You have bestowed upon me. Lord, I thank You for strengthening me to embrace Standing Out. Your Word declares we should be in the world but not of the world. Guide me as I come out from among them and be separate. Help me to always remember and honor Your Word which tells us to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers; for light has no fellowship with darkness. Comfort me in those difficult times when I must Stand Out, for I realize that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus name, Amen.

So, That Settles It. We have been called to Stand Out and boldly do what God has commissioned us to do. You may never Fit In, but you can definitely Stand Out!

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).

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“First Responders “

A woman I know was recently in an auto accident. She told how initially she was in shock and she just sat there with her hands glued to the steering wheel and her foot on the brake, until the First Responders placed her on the stretcher. She was unable to speak or move, so those trying to help her had to interpret what she needed. This made me think of the skill set required of First Responders.

As we all know, First Responders are responsible for going immediately to the scene of an accident or emergency to provide assistance. How true is this for those of us who have been called to pray and intercede on behalf of others? Do you have someone who calls you First whenever he/she is in trouble, facing a difficult situation, or just needs prayer? If so, you may be a First Responder.

First Responders Save Lives! They are the first to arrive on the scene to assist victims until a paramedic arrives; so they must be skilled in assessing injuries, caring for immediate wounds, and even assisting in childbirth.

As Intercessors (Spiritual First Responders) we too Save Lives! Sometimes people are hurting, but they cannot articulate, or don’t really know what they need, so we have to in turn, try and interpret (Thank God for the Holy Spirit) their need. We must stand in the gap until the person can stand on his/her own. We have to assess injuries (accurately discern the root of the problem/issue/pain) and care for immediate wounds (address urgent physical needs that we ourselves can meet). We may even be called to assist in childbirth (helping someone push past the pain as they give birth to their destiny).

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5:14-15).

First Responders have to go through training before they are released into the field. The training they receive prepares them to execute efficiently and quickly in a variety of emergency situations. They must be prepared to help those in need, even when it’s inconvenient for them. They may get calls late at night, when they are busy, and even when they are tired.

As Intercessors and Prayer Warriors, we must do the same. Training, you ask? Yes, we train by studying God’s Word, praying, and spending time in His presence. The more training we have, the more equipped we will be to discern the needs of others and administer prayers accurately, praying God’s Will, and not asking amiss.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere (Ephesians 6:18 NLT).

Let’s Pray:
Father God, I thank You so much for all You have done for me. Lord, I know the importance of remaining in You and Your words remaining in me; for according to Your word, by doing so I can ask for anything and it will be granted. For it is written, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer.”  Father, when I call upon You and pray to You, let me always hear You. When I seek You I hope to always find You. As long as You hear and answer, I will continue to pray without ceasing. This is my prayer, in Jesus name, Amen.

So, That Settles It, for some of us, we are called to be First Responders. Our job is important and bears a great deal of responsibility. People’s lives depend on not just our skills, but also our obedience and commitment. Will you accept the call?

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