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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

When I decided to go on a 10-day fast in January of 2014, I expected to grow closer to God and to be able to understand His will for me with greater clarity. I asked myself what I needed most from Him at that time, and my answer was two-fold: I needed clarification and guidance. I wanted to hear His soft, undeniable voice internally whispering His will for me. I wanted to feel His spirit and confirmation.

 I began my fast hoping to receive clarification about a situation that I had been feeling guilty about. It was a circumstance that I had no control over. Still, I could not shed the burden of guilt and I continually tried to make amends for the ill behavior of others. I was reminded by my sister in Christ not to force doors open that God had shut. Yet, somehow I felt it was my duty to make everything right for everyone.

 During the first day of my fast, God blessed me with a revelation. He showed me that the burden had never been mine to carry. Although I knew this to be truth, somehow I had been unable to grasp the concept. While fasting and praying, God helped me to realize that if He had wanted me to take care of it, He would have made the provision for me to do so. But He hadn’t. I understood. Not only was the door shut, it was locked. And finally, I was able to relinquish an unnecessary burden.

 There was another kind of guilt that resurfaced while I was fasting. This one revolved around a particular television series. I had allowed it to entertain me with all of its profanity and behavior. For one hour each week, I found myself firmly planted in front of the television set ready for the drama the show was sure to bring. I was so attracted to the performance that I made sure I had my DVR set to record the entire series in case I missed an episode. That was my vice. It was like a soap opera, always ending on a cliff-hanger. But it was an ungodly cliff-hanger, and deep down inside I knew better.

 This type of guilt did not require fasting. This one simply required me to obey the word of God and diligently protect what my eyes see and what my ears hear. Watching the weekly program had always produced a twinge of guilt in me, and I would promptly try to eradicate the feeling by justifying my actions. But how do you justify not obeying the word of God? The guilt would not recede, and I questioned myself – did I really want to invite this negativity into my home every week? I had to confess that I did not, so I made the decision, while fasting, to stop watching it.  

 The guidance I sought from God was of a financial nature. Although working part-time, I pondered if I should decrease my hours even more. My logic was that this would give me more time to dedicate to my love of writing, and explore other avenues of the craft as well. The answer did not come quickly. As a matter of fact, it did not come at all while I was fasting. But God had a plan. It just hadn’t been revealed to me yet.

 Eighteen days after the fast had ended, I reached out to a literary agency inquiring about an intern position as a content editor. The owner told me that she had recently received several projects and had been praying to God, telling Him that she needed more help. There was my guidance. God, in His omnipotence, had devised the master plan! I had my answer. There was no need to decrease my hours, and I could still expand my writing and explore other avenues of my craft. 

 Through fasting, I found peace of mind, deliverance, and direction – everything I was seeking. I know my path is determined by wherever God leads me. My only desire is to recognize when He is leading and to follow Him. Much like spring is a time of renewal, so too is fasting. And by the grace of God, I will be renewed, reviewed, rejuvenated, and improved – not just once a year, but whenever needed through the power of prayer and regular fasting.

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I’ve had several jobs during my life time – dish washer, waitress, data entry clerk, surgical technician, and a career as a registered nurse. With each of these positions, there was always something lacking. I felt a yearning for something more, a feeling that I was meant to be doing something else. Deep down inside I knew what it was. I knew because I had been doing it since the age of ten. The something else I was meant to do was write.

It began with poetry, and then progressed to short stories – just a page or two. I remember walking into bookstores and seeing the selection of books displayed on the tables. I told myself that one day my book would be displayed on one of those tables as well.

By the time I was in my early twenties, I was a data entry clerk by day and an aspiring freelance writer by night. I submitted short stories to various magazine publications on a regular basis – and was rejected by them just as often. I also freelanced for a local newspaper for a brief period of time.

I tried to remain faithful to my purpose. I enrolled in the university and majored in mass communications. But life has a way of distracting you. At the time, I was a divorced mother of three with a full-time job (that had nothing to do with writing by the way). I became exhausted trying to juggle school, family and work so I chose to discontinue my education.

After working for eight years as a data entry clerk, I returned to college and became a surgical/ob technician, later graduating with a degree as a registered nurse (again…nothing to do with writing).

In 2008, my youngest child graduated from high school. I continued working as a nurse until the restlessness began two years later. I realized that my dream of becoming a published author remained unfulfilled. Sure, I had freelanced for a local newspaper briefly, but I wanted to write a book. My unfulfilled prediction of seeing my own book sitting on a table in a bookstore began to nag at my soul.

I had worked as a nurse for sixteen years, and maintained an on again/off again relationship with writing that had lasted for more than forty-one years. I began to ponder why I had pursued a career as a registered nurse instead of pursuing my dream of becoming a writer.

I looked to God for the answer and for His guidance, and I found it in Revelations Chapter 4, Verse 11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Through these words of wisdom, I came to understand why my purpose had remained unfulfilled.

Although God had instilled the gift of writing in me, it had not been my time to use it. I had strayed away from Him, and had abused the gift He’d given me by using it to write about ungodly things. Once I rededicated myself to Jesus Christ, the new me began to infuse itself into my writing.

After eight months of prayer, I ended my nursing career and fully embraced my God- given purpose. I began writing for the glory of God. My affirmation that I was on the right track came when my debut novel Yesterday’s Eyes was published in 2012.

Today, as I journey through the second half of my life, I continue to fulfill my purpose. I have a part time job that involves writing ninety percent of the time, I am a freelance content writer, and I have recently expanded my purpose to include the world of content editing which I discovered I enjoy a great deal.

Trusting in the Lord has become a lesson in faith and a victory for me. With God’s help, I am able to identify and remove anything that threatens to distract me from my true purpose. I now reject the toxicity of phrases like ‘later’, ‘one day’, and ‘when I retire’.

Today is the day!

Through my writing, I can be used by God for His glory over and over. Fulfilling my purpose has not made me financially rich, but I am rich in spirit and I am doing what I was meant to do. Even though it took forty-one years for me to embrace my true purpose, I can say quite happily, “Better late than never”.

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Faith requires action. Otherwise it’s useless. The Bible tells us, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26 (KJV)

As Christians, we claim faith in God but some of us continue to live a life full of worry, stress, anger, fear, or depression. Of course, there are situations that sometimes cause these legitimate emotions to appear. But we should not continuously live in such an emotional state.

Psalm 23:4 reads, “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.” (KJV)

We must put some work behind our faith, and believe in God’s promise to protect and comfort us during our period of trial and tribulation.

For God is not a liar.

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To Be Continued

We all have a story to tell. Never mind the beginning chapters; how will your story end?

Will it end with you being the same way – broke down, lost and confused – that you were at the beginning of the book? Or will you end on a triumphant note, standing tall, knowing at last who you are, why you were created, and where you’re headed.

The first few chapters of your novel may be painful, filled with all sorts of emotional issues and baggage weighing you down. Page 119 might take us with you on your treacherous journey through quicksand, but page 207 might find us standing along side you on solid, not sinking, ground.

That’s your story.

Someone else’s story might take them a little longer to reach victory. We may have to suffer with them through 300 pages of stumbling across rocky ground. And page 305 might find them still stumbling.

To those I say, put on the whole armour of God. The enemy is not playing with you. You need to get geared up.

Ephesians 6:13-17 tells us, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (KJV)

Can you see the metaphor? The whole armour of God – that’s the protection of God in the form of His truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and Word (Bible). Clinging to all of these becomes our armour, our protection. It’s no wonder that we are told in Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;…”

How will your story end? How do you want it to end? Surrender yourself to Jesus Christ. Trust and obey Him. He will grant you everlasting life – and that’s what I call a happy ending!

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A Truthful Life

We are always a work in progress. But through Christ’ strength, we can live a blameless life.

The Word tells us that if we will humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, He will lift us up.  (James 4:10 KJV)

It calls for a surrendering of our own will and an obedience to Christ. 

By His lifting us up, Christ proves Philippians 4:13 -“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” – to be true. 

Yes, we are constantly a work in progress. But if we say we love the Lord, let us not make excuses for unjustifiable behavior. Let us continue striving to stay on the pathway of righteousness, settling for nothing less than a truthful life.

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Hello all!

If you would like to listen to my live interview please click on the link below:

http://www.artistfirst2.com/ArtistFirst_Maxine_Thompson_2012-12-03.mp3

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This poem is for anyone dealing with a troubled spirit – depression, addiction, anger, fear, confusion or some other unnamed source.

You may think you’re going through it alone, but you’re not…your actions affect the reactions of others.

Most importantly, you don’t have to go through it alone. Jesus is waiting to carry your load. He will carry you through.

Ask the Savior to help you. Surrender, trust, and believe.

Wasted

It is not your intention
to disrupt them,
But there is something unspeakable
in the air.

It is their intention
to draw the line,
to mask their love
with a persona
that doesn’t care.

And so they cry,
but only inside.
And you’ll never know
how much they love you.

So

You continue your path,
destructive, full of wrath.
Not knowing
how much reaping
you must sow.

But you do know
you can not slay your demons alone.
You can’t denounce them
without the blood shed by Christ.

Still your utterances are countless
and of useless meaning.
You pray heartless prayers
that will not suffice.

And so you suffer,
rebellious and hurt.
But it is not a solitary pain.

For those who love you,
it is contagious,
and they suffer
again
and again.

Don’t let the day come
when God’s voice becomes silent,
when He is no more knocking on your door.

For if that should happen,
you will have strayed too far,
and a life – your life –
will be wasted
for evermore…

© 2012

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Job suffered through many trials and tribulations ranging from the deaths of his children to the boils that covered his entire body. His friends believed he had committed some sin in order for such evil to fall upon him. This caused Job even more anguish because he was a righteous man, and he knew he had done nothing wrong.

He couldn’t understand why he had to endure such tragedies, and he questioned God. When God answered him, it was in the form of Him reminding Job of who it was that had created all things in the universe.

God asked Job what role he had played in the creation process in order to help him realize the omnipotence of God. His questioning of Job was effective because Job began to realize how insignificant he was. Job’s statement in Chapter 42:6, “…I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes”, is evidence of him humbling himself before God.

Job came out of his trials and tribulations understanding the nature of suffering to be that sometimes both the good and the bad must be dealt with, and that even though his suffering was through no fault of his own, he still had to know (and believe) that God was in control. Even though his trust and faith were put to the test, he continued to turn to God for answers. The Bible tells us that Job “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” during this time. (Job 1:22) And in the end, he was rewarded twice as much for his obedience and faithfulness.

It’s a good lesson in suffering. At some point, all of us will go through – or have already gone through – a period of trials and tribulations. If we are servants of Jesus Christ, we would do well to emulate Job because as long as we hold steadfast to God in the midst of trouble, He will see us through. Even when it feels like God is nowhere around. He Is…

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In the book of Ecclesiastes, The Preacher shares with the reader his observations about life. His conclusions, are that yes, life does have meaning. But the meaning lies in how we live. A life that is lived in constant pursuit of material gain, one where the acquisition of excess comes at the cost of emotional and physical sacrifice is to me a life that is in constant motion…but for all the wrong reasons. The Preacher called it vanity. And I agree.

Everyone must and should earn their own way. That is not in question. But to what degree? The hustle and bustle of a daily “grind” can be toxic to us if we despise the very activity that we rush off to each morning. It can also be detrimental to our health as it is bound to produce an unnecessary amount of stress on a daily basis. Yet, for the sake of recognition and/or material gain, we will endure such a level of un-fulfillment until old age relieves us of that task or the toxicity of it all fills us with disease.

Life does have meaning when looked at from the right perspective. It is a gift from God. And not only did He give us life, He gave us “directions” (the Bible) on how to live it. All we need to do is ask for His guidance and help in understanding and following those directions.

Once we understand the real meaning of life – what our true purpose is – we become free to put everything else into its proper perspective. Revelations Chapter 4, verse 11 tells us why we were created:
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

And The Preacher sums it up in Ecclesiastes Chapter 12, verse 13 by saying, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Everything else we do should be secondary.

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