You Are Royalty

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IDENTITY

1 Peter 2:9 – “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

I love God—with all that is within me; but I have to admit that for a good portion of my life as a Christian, this notion of being a part of His royal priesthood never really took root in me. I don’t really know why; I just never thought of myself as royalty or as a “royal priest.” But there it is in black and white! It’s what I am; it’s part of my identity in Christ, and it’s a key component of who He calls us to be.

A royal priest…What does that even mean? Well, according to Peter, we, as Christians…all of us…are the chosen people of God; and as his royal priesthood, we to be holy, set apart. As we receive the love and favor that He imbues into our lives; we are to be an example to those around us, showing His love to everyone we encounter, extolling His goodness, and lifting our voices in praise.

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This is a vital role that God calls us to fulfill, but it is so easy to prioritize the other roles and facets of our identity that beckon to us in this world and cause us to put God and our kingdom work on the back burner. It’s so simple to abandon our praises as we forget God’s goodness in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. It’s so easy to forget His charge to love one another as we endure the slights of those who don’t know Him. It’s so easy to just ignore this calling. So simple…

I guess the question we have to ask ourselves is, do we want to follow the ways of the world or the ways of God? Do we want to go our own way, do our own thing, or fulfill the role and calling that God has placed on our lives—the call to be holy, set apart, separate from the ways of this world…to live a life that is worthy of God’s Royal Priesthood?

You are royalty. As a Christian, you are one of the chosen people of God, and as such, you are a part of His royal priesthood. But you have a choice of how (and whether) you will fulfill this role. What will you choose?

Thoughts, reactions, or testimonies? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Shine Your Light!

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Lovely images obtained from

  1. https://render.otoy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1814
  2. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/c2/ec/00/c2ec0008c259720b7b66f4739f34f132.jpg
  3. https://artofthechristianninja.com/2014/09/09/be-the-frame-not-the-picture/

Be Free

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Galatians 5:1 – “It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

I have such mixed emotions when I read this passage! It warms my heart ❤ when I think of all Christ has done to set me free! It’s a shame, though, that I don’t always embrace that freedom. Christ died on the cross to loose the spiritual shackles that kept me bound—He made the ultimate sacrifice for me. As a result, freedom is mine if I want it! But despite this truth, I often find myself slipping back into old habits that don’t serve me or making decisions that move me backwards into metaphorical bondage instead of forward into freedom.

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In Galatians 5:1, Paul reminds us that Christ set us free for a reason, and that we are now to walk confidently in that freedom, never again allowing ourselves to be “burdened by a yoke of slavery.” This verse has served as a reminder for me on countless occasions that God has a path for me and a purpose for my life, and that I cannot fulfill that purpose when I fall back into old habits and behaviors that kept me bound in the past. I WANT to be FREE! I want to be unhindered and embrace the freedom that Christ bought for me with His sacrifice; and I want to use that liberty to fulfill God’s purpose for my life. But in the end, it’s all up to me. And so, I must stand firm and make the decision (sometimes multiple times a day) that I am not going backwards. I am moving forward. I will not be bound. I. Am. FREE.

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Has God delivered you from something to which your flesh keeps pulling you back? Determine today that you are FREE and that you will not go backwards. Be free! Fulfill your purpose. BE. FREE.

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John 8:32 – “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Song: Israel Houghton – Moving Forward

Thoughts, reactions, or testimonies? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Shine Your Light!

Your First Love

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LOVE

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

I have to say that I’m a little excited. For the first time in a long time, I am in a happy, healthy, stable relationship with a man that I love and who shows me every day that I am loved in return. It’s pretty amazing…love; and as I sit here this morning pondering the notion, I can’t help but think about my First Love…the One who taught me what it is to truly love and be loved, unconditionally, in return. I even brought out one of my favorite love letters that He wrote to me. In it, He tells me…

“I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Sigh…Isn’t He dreamy? 🙂 ❤

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In all seriousness, I must admit that every single time that I read this verse it touches my heart and makes it swell. He…the Creator of the universe…LOVES flawed, imperfect, frustrating ME…with an EVERLASTING love… It will never end! His love is boundless! And the reality is that no other love on this earth will ever compare to the love that God has for each and every one of us…a love that is endless and impenetrable. NOTHING can get in its way…neither life nor death, height nor depth, nor anything in all creation can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39).

And so…whether you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day today or not…whether you are single and searching, single and satisfied, in a dating/courting relationship, or a veteran spouse…whether you are contemplating love or just trying to ignore it altogether…take a moment today to celebrate your First Love…the God of all creation, who loves YOU beyond measure. You. Are. Loved.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Song: First Love by Kirk Franklin

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Agape Love

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Agape

LOVE

(I thought I’d re-post this one from 2014 in honor of Valentine’s Day)

Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Reflections: Have you ever felt truly loved? I’m not talking about that fly by night, flash in the pan, fleeting love; I’m talking about everlasting, AGAPE LOVE, where you are seen and known and cherished unconditionally and beyond measure…the type of love that, in reality, you can only find in the heart of your Heavenly Father…

Our souls long for this love, our hearts yearn for this connection; but far too often…

We seek it in all the wrong places

In a sea of blank faces

In the company of false friends

Winding up at dead ends…

…And ultimately, we end up feeling unfulfilled, because THAT love—that soul-fulfilling, heart-wrenching, mind-blowing, never-ending love—is only available in one place: the arms of our almighty God.

As Valentine’s Day draws near, and we are surrounded by people consumed by the pursuit of love, know that you don’t have to look far to find it. You have only to look to the Father, who waits for you with open arms and an open heart to hold you close, take away your cares, and give you peace and love that surpasses anything you’ve ever known.

Happy (Almost) Valentine’s Day! (You are truly loved!)

Song: How He Loves Us by New Breed (Original)/How He Loves Us by Anthony Evans (Remake)

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Giving Your All

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LOVE

(Our theme for this month! ❤️😊)

1 Corinthians 2:9b – “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

I read this passage the other morning, and it made my heart smile to think of the abundant life that God wants for us. He wants to give us so much, and all He asks for in return is our love. We’re not talking about that love that simply gives lip service to our relationship with God, we’re talking about truly LOVING Him—with your heart, mind, and soul. It seems like such a small request when compared to what He promises in return—blessings the likes of which we have never seen or heard, and of which our minds have never even conceived. This is what He has in store for us if we would only fully surrender our hearts to Him. He doesn’t promise that the road will always be easy once we surrender (in fact, Jesus assures us that we will experience troubles), but throughout it all, we know His promises; and we can be assured of the abundant, unimaginable blessings that wait for us on the other side of life’s valleys.

Above all else, as you move through life’s highs and lows, know that you are loved beyond measure; that you are never, ever alone; and that what God has in store for you is better than anything you’ve ever dreamed of!

Shine Your Light!

Thoughts, reactions, or testimonies? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Love Thy Neighbor

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LOVE
(Our Theme for the Month!)

Galatians 5:14 – “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

It seems so simple, the call to love your neighbor…to be kind and considerate, and to treat those you encounter as you would want to be treated. I find, though, that this is not something that comes naturally to everyone. Almost everyone and everything around us urges people to look out for themselves, please themselves, do what’s good for themselves…It’s so rare that we receive messages that convey this key command from God—Love your neighbor as yourself—to be selfless, sacrificing, and to consider someone else’s well-being above your own.

This decree becomes even more challenging to fulfill when we consider the fact that the “neighbor” to which God refers is not only your friend, your relative, or your loved one; but also your enemy, your adversary, the proverbial bane of your existence. Loving them as you love yourself?? THAT’S when things get really tough and really interesting. I think it’s important to note, here, that loving someone does not equate to serving as their proverbial punching bag. It doesn’t mean that you have to just sit there and accept unacceptable behavior. I think that God simply means that we are to show them the grace and mercy in their flawed state that God shows us daily in ours. In doing so, we begin to create spaces for change, for reconciliation, for redemption, and hopefully, for salvation.

So, in the end, the mission is clear—Love thy neighbor. Your love, your patience, your acceptance may be the very thing needed to bring about a miraculous and life-changing work in someone else’s life.

Song: Speak Life by Toby Mac
Song: Set the World on Fire by Britt Nicole

Thoughts, reactions, or testimonies? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Shine Your Light!

(This was a billboard I saw while driving one day that made me smile as I paused in the middle of my road rage lol)

Tied up in Knots

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SURRENDER (Part 3)

I just read a devotional from Joyce Meyer in “Promises for Your Everyday Life” that equated the problems in our lives to a series of knots in numerous shoestrings. She pointed out that just as it took a length of time for us to get all tangled up in our knotted mess, it will take time to get to a place where we unravel those knots and are free from the tangle. Thankfully, God is hard at work helping us to break free, and he unravels each knot with his infinite patience…never giving up, never making the situation worse…in His perfect timing, He slowly works to make us whole again.

I thought of a similar analogy involving my bi-weekly massages and these incessant knots that my therapist always finds in my shoulders (that’s where I hold my stress). They’ve been there for years, and many a therapist have gone about trying to break them up and relieve my pain…but I always refuse to let them! Why? Because it HURTS! I have spent YEARS growing those knots through my stress and worry and poor self-care, and they do NOT want to go away easily. They’ve become a part of me, and I’ve grown accustomed to them. Besides, it’s easier to deal with the occasional discomfort and limitations of the knots than the painful process of working them out.

It’s the same way with God, when he tries to relieve us of our “knots.” The process can sometimes be long and painful…and those knots might even feel like a part of us now, because we’re so used to them. But if we can endure the painful process and get to the other side…allowing God to do His work in us, then we are so much better off for it! In the end, we are freer, able to bend and stretch and grow in so many more directions…stronger because now our (spiritual) muscles can bear more, and we are better prepared (without those incessant knots restricting us) to go about the business of fulfilling the calling that God has placed upon our lives.

Is God trying to loose a few knots in your life? Are you resisting the process or opening yourself up to endure the discomfort so that God can take you to a better place in Him? Don’t stay tied up in knots! Surrender to the process, and let God do the work in you to set you free from the tangled mess!

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Philippians 1:6 – “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 2:8 – “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Jeremiah 18:3-4 – “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.”

Psalm 66:10 – “For You, O God, have proved us; You have tried us as silver is tried, refined, and purified.”

Song: Potter’s House by Vashawn Mitchell

Song: Refine Me by Ayiesha Woods

Thoughts, reactions, or testimonies? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Shine Your Light!

Wonderful images taken from

  1. http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=48861
  2. http://www.robertcorneliusphotography.com/blog/but-i-didnt-push-the-button

The Everyman

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SURRENDER

The other morning, I was thinking about how much Jesus was like the “everyman.” He wrestled with anger and fear; He felt disappointment when His friends let Him down; He experienced loss, rejection, false love, and betrayal…trying situations and emotions that most of us have experienced at one point or another in our lives. But the difference between Jesus and so many of us (outside of His being the Son of God and all 🙂 ) is that He knew exactly where to turn when He endured these earthly trials. He turned to His Heavenly Father and gave himself over, fully, to God’s will and His way. He surrendered Himself completely to God’s plan for His life; and in return, God gifted Him with abundant wisdom, unshakable peace, boundless courage, unfailing love, and a power beyond anything the Earth had ever seen!


What wonders could we accomplish, what mountains could we move, what strongholds could we demolish if we were only willing to give God our whole selves…holding NOTHING back? We would be earth shakers, mighty warriors of God, bringing His light and His love to a desperate and dying world and demonstrating with clarity to all around us the power and freedom that lies in complete and total surrender to God.

Luke 22:43 – “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Thoughts, reactions, or testimonies? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Song: He Wants It All by Forever Jones

Shine Your Light!

Embrace Your Superpower!

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SPIRITUAL GIFTS

1 Corinthians 12:7 – To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

The other day, my brother and I were talking about his uncanny ability to accurately judge a person’s character within a few seconds (minutes?) of meeting him. I’ve always known that he had this talent, but I took it with a grain of salt until he revealed during this particular conversation that sometimes, it was almost as if he could see something dark clinging to certain people who made him more wary. I was taken aback, because this indicated that he’d been gifted with the ability to discern things in the spiritual realm, and that I’d better start heeding his impressions moving forward.

I have to admit that I was just a little jealous. It was like he had this cool superpower! How great is it to be able to discern people’s character before they’ve said a single word!? My gift was so completely different and seemed paltry in comparison. I had this somewhat less exceptional (and not always useful) gift of always seeing the best in people, until their dark or hidden side emerged and the relationship (friendly, romantic, familial, or otherwise) blew up in my face. My penchant for seeing the good has actually made me increasingly wary of opening up to people and trusting them and their permanency in my life.

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I pondered this for a while on that day, and eventually realized that this insight into the light in someone’s character wasn’t all bad. In fact, I began to understand that this tendency was a reflection of the gift of empathy—my own superpower! 🙂 I have always been hypersensitive to other people’s feelings, to the point of almost experiencing physical discomfort at the sight of pain in others. I’ve also had a penchant for understanding innately the emotions that certain scenarios and experiences trigger in others, which helps me understand (and empathize with) why they sometimes misguidedly embrace the dark side. This gift, while challenging at times, is the perfect complement to my calling to help and serve. As always, God knows what He’s doing!

We all have our spiritual gifts and talents, although they may manifest in different ways and at different times for different people. It’s easy to look longingly at someone else’s gift and think it’s the best thing in the world; but know that someone else may be looking at you in the exact same way. Your gift is special, useful, and uniquely tailor-made just for you and the calling God has placed on Your life. Embrace your gift, be grateful for it, and use it wisely and in love. After all, it’s pretty cool to have your own God-given superpower. 🙂

Thoughts, reactions, or testimonies? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Shine your light!

1 Corinthians 12:4 – There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.

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Discarding Distractions

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FOCUS

 Romans 12:2 – “And do not be confirmed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

I’m easily distracted. When I focus on something, I do it with a laser-like intensity, but I can only focus on one thing at a time; and with so many things in my life in need of my singular attention, I find that as soon as I see something shiny, my focus redirects, and I’m off to put out that other fire over there. 😳

With all of these life priorities battling for my attention, it’s easy to lose sight of the one thing that should always be my primary focal point—God. If I am truly making Him the center of my life, my focus, then I can’t allow anything else to distract me from my efforts to seek Him with all of my heart. Life can get hectic, and it’s easy to let our minds become filled with and focused on the things of this world—good and bad; but when we allow that to happen, we begin to replace God as our center, as we allow our minds to become focused on the wrong things.

The Word says that we are to be transformed by “the renewing of our minds.” This verse can mean a thousand different things to a thousand different people, but one thing is sure—this process of renewal is an opportunity to train our minds to see (and seek) God in every situation. The good news is that He’s never hard to find; and when we focus on His presence, and His good and perfect will for our lives, He gifts us with a sense of peace, joy, and love that provide us with everything we need to face the hectic day ahead.

See Also:

Psalm 105:4 – “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore.”

Jeremiah 29:13 – “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Thoughts, reactions, or testimonies? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!