Meaningful Living in the Hashtag Age

Posts tagged ‘love’

I’m Satisfied

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I was baptized at 12 years old but I wasn’t spiritually awakened until 23. Young and ambitious, my approach to living was to seek gratification first instead of placing God at the head of my life. I, like many people at that age, struggled to discern what was good for my soul verses what was bad for my salvation.

My experience in building a relationship with God can best be described as finding water in the middle of dry and deserted land. For years, I’d walked through the hot sands weak, dehydrated, and in desperate need of nourishment but God found and restored me. He protected me from my own depraved decisions, He prevented me from walking in the shadows of immorality, and He shielded me from the influence of bad company. It is because of His love that I can testify to the power of His salvation.

While I stumbled through the desert looking for water, God was building wells all around me. One-by-one He filled them with an everlasting flow of His love and strategically placed them in my path. But my fears and worldliness often caused me to overlook the table that he had prepared before me. And as my faith grew, my vision improved and eventually God’s destiny for my life became clearer. I knew, in time, my thirst would finally be satisfied.

What I learned over the years is that there is no well deeper, wider, or more sustaining than one filled with God’s love. He can pour out oceans of his kindness and patience and still have oceans more to give. That’s what makes Him a wonderful Father – His children are incapable of being thirsty in His presence.

The salvation that I needed was greater than the salvation that I sought. God knew this, and He allowed me to experience the faultiness of my small ambitions by forcing me to feel the weariness of a thirsty soul. I was walking in the desert looking for a cup filled with tap water when God had prepared before me a cool and life-sustaining stream.

God is the only one that can satisfy our needs. Scripture teaches us in Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” In Psalms 61:1, it reads: “My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is not water.” And in Psalm 36:7-9, it states: “How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house: you give drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

By drinking from God’s fountain of life we find peace sustained by His strength and wisdom. We are rejuvenated each time we swallow a morsel of His word and drink a thimble of His grace. It is in God’s everlasting waters that we are exposed to His light and provided a clearer understanding of His destiny for our life.

As we struggle to find satisfaction in an insatiable world, we should never forget that God is always at work building wells in dry and weary places. Through faithfulness we will find our way to His sustaining stream and learn to drink daily from His living waters.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for thee, O God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)

“Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture said, streams of living water will flow from him.’” (John 7:37)

This original article was published in the May 2016 issue of The Mount Christian Magazine

Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel and Founder of The Charity Supper Club, a program designed to raise money to benefit local charities and families in need.

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Dance!

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Our spiritual dance is a powerful weapon against the enemy. It is a successive movement endowed by a harmonic beat. A reaction, sometimes physical but mostly spiritual, that serves as a gateway to our Heavenly Father’s ensemble of praise. It is our manifestation of joy that arises at the culmination of mourning.

Our spiritual dance is symbolic of our faith in God’s renewal process. At the end of a season of hurt and pain, God transforms us by the renewal of our mind in preparation for the next season. Our spiritual dance is a celebration of what He has done for us and how boldly He brings us through tough times in our lives. It is because of this renewal that the grieving mother who just buried her child can still rejoice and a man who recently lost his job can find comfort and peace in spite of their circumstances.

The Bible teaches us that spiritual dancing is a form of praise. In Psalm 150:4, we are reminded to praise Him with tambourine and dance, praise him with strings and pipe. And in Jeremiah 31:13, it reads: Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

I believe that when we embark on a spiritual dance empowered by our triumph over difficult times we are mounting an attack on the devil. After we have dressed for victory by putting on the full armor of God, we move in unison through our spiritual dance towards defeating the enemy. Our movement forces Satan to see us as God sees us – as conquerors filled with grace. Whether we pirouette like a beautiful ballerina, sway like a Chicago freestyler or simply bow our heads in prayer, our spiritual dance is kindled by His majestic orchestra, which permeates a sound that awakens the soul.

A Christian’s eagerness to dance is often a sign that the storm is coming to an end. Our dance reflects our desire to ruin Satan’s plans to keep us immobilized and afraid. It reminds him of God parting the Red Sea and Jesus feeding the masses with five loaves of bread and two fish – miracles only an awesome God can give.  When we dance, Satan is assured that his limited power cannot stop us from believing in an all-powerful God.

In his attempt to control our heart and mind, our spiritual dance is a thorn planted deep within Satan’s side. A constant reminder that we are covered by God’s love and evil has no power over us.

Through His blessings and grace, God creates the sweetest melody. And when he does, and the doors of His salvation are opened to us, we must find it in our hearts to praise him with every instrument we have. Our dance should not be led by darkness; it should only be led by the Holy Spirit.

I dance for you, Lord. I dance with you. I dance in celebration of you. It is my praise.

Psalm 149:3 ESV

Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!

Ecclesiastes 3:4 ESV

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Psalm 30:11 ESV

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.

This article and photo appeared in the April 2016 issue of The Mount Christian Magazine. To subscribe go to http://www.mt-ararat.org/2015-04-30-15-47-47/the-mount-magazine.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel and Founder of The Charity Supper Club, a program designed to raise money to benefit local charities and families in need.

 

The Promise

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Originally published in the January 2016 issue of The Mount Magazine.

I am trapped inside a small box. My legs are bent at the knee, my torso is folded over, and my head is bowed down. I cannot move, I cannot breathe, and I cannot break free. What I can control are my thoughts; what I struggle to control are my emotions.

I cry out to God for help but nothing happens. He does not come; He does not give me freedom, and my fears smother me. Where is God, does He hear my prayers?

But instead of setting me free, God reminds me of a promise He made to me when I was a little girl. In the innocence of my youth, He came into my life and spoke to me in a way I could understand. He told me of His love, and He gave me songs of praise to place in my heart. He taught me about rainbows, butterflies and the warmth of sunny days. He gave me peace.

I did not understand what peace was at that age, nor did I know that it would be my friend when I needed it most. I did not believe that it was a blessing only God could give.

So I lived on, and year after year, life came as it would. Ups and downs, trials and tribulations, pains and joys. I lost my mom, I lost my friend, and I lost my nephew. I cried, I fought, and I struggled. And then I found myself trapped inside the small box.

Inside the box there is no joy, no laughter, and no promise of peace. There is no room to stretch my legs, to move my head, or to unfold my arms. So I remained bowed down; cramped, scared and confused.

Days pass and nothing changes. I cry out again, but God never comes. Instead He continues to remind me of His promise, and this time I remember the details. I remember where I was when He gave it to me; I remember the joy it brought me even as a young girl.

He made the promise on a sunny day while I was hunting four-leaf clovers in the grass. My legs were folded under me, my head bowed down. God’s voice sounded like whispers inside a sea shell. I listened deeply within my spirit and that’s when I heard Him say, “Look up, but not with your eyes; find me with your heart. Seek me within your spirit, and know I am always there.”

The promise was whispered to me as a child, remembered in my weakest moment, and stamped on my heart in the darkest time of my life. It was unshakeable.

While inside the box, I took God’s Word as my own and I combined His promise with what I’d learned through my Bible lessons. I could hear Him say through Scripture, “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11).

I heard Him call for me to be strong.  He said, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). And then I heard a voice demand that I stand up, break free of my fears and know that He is God.

Even in my weakened state I became encouraged; I became a conqueror. I stood firm to my feet, and the walls of the box fell on all sides. It could no longer hold me, so I resumed my place in peace and found the strength to move on.

How often do we find ourselves trapped inside the small box of despair, forgetting the promises God has made to us over the years, accepting defeat in spite of His mercy and grace? How often do we feel God’s absence, forgetting that he will never leave or forsake us? God is planted deep within our hearts; His presence is always there.

When we cannot find the strength to look up from a low place, we must turn our hearts toward the heavens and let God lift us up through His Word and His promises. We must remember that we are winners.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel and Founder of The Charity Supper Club, a program designed to raise money to benefit local charities and families in need.

 

You Only Get One…..

 

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Life is a precious gift and incredible journey. There are many distractions that get in the way of “living” life. Jobs, school, family, and bills are just a few of the many things that interfere with enjoying life to the fullest. On a recent trip to Dubai (UAE), I had the opportunity to visit the Spice Souk. The aroma of dazzling spices like saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, and peppercorn along with amazing fragrance of dried flowers for tea permeated the air. It was in that moment I was reminded I only get one life and it’s OK to slow down and just breathe.

Job33:4
The spirit of God made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Pamela Cook – Photography & Inspirational Words

Awesome God, Make Me Whole!

 

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There is a spiritual lesson in the making of a patchwork quilt. An early American pastime, the art of quilting used the imaginative designs crafted by women gathered in a quilting bee. Patchwork blocks made from fabric scraps and salvaged material accumulated from memorable events and treasured possessions are stitched and sewn into individual designs then aggregated into useful pieces. Colorful and oddly shaped fabric is cut, assembled and attached to create a complete work of art with three layers – the patchwork, the insulation and the backing – which is mended into a quilting masterpiece that is often passed down from generation to generation.

When I think of God’s masterful work to make me whole I see my life as a patchwork quilt. Scraps and salvaged parts of a life well-lived but often hard-fought cut, paired, and mended together by the hands of a loving God.  Each patch exemplifies my faith, my character and my capacity to love. Each layer is insulated by the Word and the strength of my salvation.  God is my Potter, my Maker, my Restorer and my Redeemer. Through His craftsmanship He has turned this spoiled vessel into something new. And He has transformed the tattered pieces of my life and restored me into a purposeful and enduring believer.

God has taken the jagged edges of my faith and cut away the doubt and uncertainty. He took the rough and uneven ends of my spirit and smooth away the unmanageable parts. God attacks the obscurity of sin that seeps into my mind and leaves me with the courage, through His salvation, to stay strong and to move forward with confidence.

I am His work of art. Tattered, bruised and weak, I am made strong through the love of an omnipotent God.  Even in my brokenness he can craft me into something whole.  His Word insulates my life and reminds me that the real work to living out my destiny is done inside and not on the peripheral of my flesh. My backing, or my foundation, is God’s love – a sweet but firm fortress of strength that keeps me humble and strong.

A Christian’s life is a work in progress. There is no day that passes that God isn’t cutting, pairing and mending our broken parts to make us whole again. He is the Creator of all things good. Resting in His arms guarantee us that we will be equipped and restored, beautifully packaged and secured through His love.

Jeremiah 18:3-4

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.

2 Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.

Isaiah 64:8

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel and Founder of The Charity Supper Club, a program designed to raise money to benefit local charities and families in need.

This piece was printed in the March 2015 issue of The Mount Christian Lifestyle Magazine.

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OMG! Obedience. Mercy. Grace.

Check out my article in the Nov. Issue of The Mount Christian Magazine.

Check out my article in the Nov. Issue of The Mount Christian Magazine.

To view the complete November issue of The Mount Christian Magazine, go to
http://mt-ararat.org/images/MtMag_November2014.pdf http://wp.me/p4xDb7-39

The Courage to be Kind

Check out my blog post, The Courage to be Kind.

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