Journalling

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Nov 182016
 

journallingYesterday I spoke about soaking and how it is a good idea to journal after your soaking. Now I have two types of journals – my bullet journal for plans, lists, etc. and then the journal I want to speak about today. In this journal I write down not only how I am doing, the things I am dealing with, how I slept and the things I am grateful for but also things that I feel God is saying to me.

These things are not necessarily tied up with my soaking times but when God does speak to me directly during the soaking times and I feel it is something I need to make note of then I write this down in my journal. Sometimes God will speak to me at other times and through other things and then I will write down what I feel He is saying then.

I find the good thing about having a journal to write down what God is telling you and what you are going through is that you can look back after a few months, or even a few years, and see how far you have come and the lessons you have learned along the way.

There aren’t really any tricks or rules to this type of journal but just be receptive to God’s voice and believe that you can hear Him talking to you and then write down whatever He says. At times you may be wrong and instead of it being the voice of God it could be your own thoughts or desires but that is fine, you will learn that over time and there have been times when I have gone back and torn pages out of my journals because I realize that it wasn’t God’s voice but just my desires at the time. Still having a record will allow you to look back and see what was right and what was wrong and how far you have come.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

Do you practice soaking?

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Nov 172016
 

Do you practice soaking? Do you even know what I mean when I say that soaking is one of the greatest spiritual disciplines in my opinion? I know that many churches don’t teach it and yet for me it is so powerful and has so many benefits. I aim to do it for about half an hour a day, preferably in the morning, and although I don’t always manage it, it can make a huge difference to my day when I do.

Soaking is when you put together a play list of worship songs that can play automatically and then you just lie there quietly trying to focus on the words of the songs and what God is telling you – don’t pray, don’t journal, just listen at this time. So often in our relationship with God we get used to just talking but never listening. This is a time when you just listen and let God speak to you.

I suggest about 15 minutes to half an hour at a time (more if you can afford it) as for the first few minutes (sometimes longer) you might find that your mind is very distracted and not really listening to what God is trying to tell you or focussing on the words of the songs. Then hopefully before the 15mins-half an hour is up you would have managed to bring your thoughts under control and would have heard something that God is trying to say to you.

It is also important the type of songs you choose: I have a few soaking playlists that I put together on Youtube but they all contain mainly quiet, worship songs although some of them may be slightly louder worship songs. I think it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to soak to christian metal though and definitely no secular music (for this time anyway, I do listen to secular music at other times though).

Some of the songs I have on my soaking playlists are:

  1. In His Time (since God is often telling me to wait and this helps encourage me in the waiting)
  2. Hear my Heart by Sheri Easter
  3. He Will Carry you
  4. Trust in You by Lauren Daigle
  5. On my knees by Jacqi Velasquez
  6. Because He lives I can face tomorrow
  7. You are my hiding place
  8. Good, good Father by Casting Crowns
  9. Oceans by Hillsongs

I have quite a few others but already this should give you more than enough to put together a good soaking time. For me the benefits of soaking are that it can make my day so much more peaceful and God speaks to me through it about all sorts of things I am going through. At times I end up in tears as I release some of the struggles I have been dealing with and let God bring me healing. Although you can’t journal while you soak I strongly recommend a time of journalling just after that so that you can keep a record of what God is doing and not forget what He has told you during this time (I will cover journalling tomorrow). I have also found that soaking can be a great springboard to prayer and have often gone straight into a time of prayer after soaking because as I am soaking God brings to mind things I need to pray into and my prayer life has been enriched by soaking as well.

If you have never practiced soaking before then I strongly recommend you give it a try. If it’s been a while since you’ve done it then I encourage you to do it again. God is longing to spend more time with you.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

How to Fight

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Nov 162016
 

I love the movie The War Room by the Kendrick brothers because it has so many incredible lessons about prayer and really helped revolutionize my prayer life. In that movie it says that people often lose because they don’t really know how to fight or who the real enemy is. The whole movie goes on to show how our battle is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities that can only be beaten in prayer and submission to God. It tells the story of how a woman saves her marriage by stopping fighting her husband and starting to win battles on her knees. If you haven’t watched it then I strongly recommend that you do.

Instead of fighting one another let’s take our requests to God – whether it is to save a marriage, someone’s salvation, or whatever situation you may be facing. When we try to fight people we are just going to lose and make them defensive and angry and get nowhere but if we take our requests to God and fight our battle on our knees with targeted, specific prayers based on God’s Word then we can’t help but win.

Here are some things that I have found useful in developing my prayer life:

  1. Make a list of the things you want to pray about or the people you want to pray for.
  2. Find Scriptures which relate to your prayer request and use those to pray where possible.
  3. If you have any unforgiveness in your heart towards someone you are praying for always forgive them first (no matter how many times you need to do this.)
  4. Ask God to forgive you for holding unforgiveness or anything you may have done wrong in the situation.
  5. Thank God for answers to prayer.

Initially I wrote out the exact words of the prayers I wanted to pray into specific situations and would use these but over time I found that my prayers would change. I still find that these are useful and sometimes I will update them with new full prayers. Then when I am feeling like I don’t really know how to pray I may use them word for word or I may just use them as a springboard from which to continue praying.

Prayer is our most important resource and battle strategy. Prayer not only develops our relationship with God but also helps us win battles here on earth so I encourage you to pray as much as possible and see how it changes your life.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

What are you thinking about?

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Nov 152016
 

Phillipians tells us “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Phil 4:8) but do your thoughts always reflect these qualities? I have to admit that mine don’t always. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I can tend to worry a bit much and have a tendency towards depression but I know that this is not where God wants me to live.

So how do we overcome this and work on making our thought life more pure, noble, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy, etc? I believe that this comes down to ‘taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ’ and renewing our mind.

Firstly, we need to be aware of what we are thinking and how we think and whenever we catch ourselves thinking something that is not in line with God’s Word that we refuse that thought and change our minds. It takes discipline and is not always easy but when we do it, it really does make a difference.

Secondly, renew our minds. We need to be aware of what we are allowing into our minds and how this is affecting our thought life. I think different things affect different people in different ways and what is bad for one person may not necessarily be bad for another and vice versa but the important thing is to look at what thoughts follow from that – does it leave you thinking about things that are right, noble, pure, lovely and admirable? Or does it leave you stressed, depressed and thinking negatively? Learn your triggers and where possible stop allowing them into your mind.

Take time soaking in God’s presence. Listening to Christian music and letting God speak to me has been a real life saver for me. As I quietly lie in His presence and just let words of good Christian music wash over me and speak to me I find that my spirits are lifted and I am better able to face whatever situation I am facing with a more positive mindset.

If you, like me, have struggles with your thought life then try these things and believe that God will help you develop the type of thought life that would please Him.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

It’s a New Season

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Nov 142016
 

This year has been an incredibly tough year for me and I know for so many other people as well. Yesterday however as I was sitting in our church worship service I felt God tell me that the old has gone and the new has come. It is time to start putting all the troubles, the difficulties, stresses and depression behind me and to move into a new, exciting season.

In Song of Solomon 2:11-12 it says

See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.”

Sometimes I believe God allows us to go through difficult times like this year in order to grow us, to draw us closer to Him or to teach us something. I know that I have grown a lot in this year. My prayer life is far better than it ever was and my relationship with God generally has grown so much. As I realized I had to turn to God to get through some of the situations I was facing, He came through and gave me strength and drew me closer to Him.

However after the storms have passed the sun will always shine and I don’t believe God will ever leave us in a permanent place of struggle and difficulty. He will just take the time He needs to accomplish the work He wants to do in our lives and then He will lead us into something even better.

I trust that this encouraging Word wasn’t just for me but that many of you who have been struggling through trying circumstances this year will see breakthrough.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

What does your morning look like?

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Nov 112016
 

A little while ago I read “Morning Miracle” by Hal Elrod, it is not a Christian book but it has changed my life. It encourages you to get up early every day and do some things that are going to make a significant impact to your life. Although he suggests six things you can do he also states that you can adapt your morning to suit you so that you get the most out of it and so this is what I have done.

His first thing he recommends is a time of silence which he says can be prayer, meditation, or anything where you are silent for one minute or longer. I use this time every morning, as soon as I wake up, as a short prayer time (I have a longer prayer time later in the day.) This short prayer time is really just time for me to ask God to help me and give me strength through the day and also pray for those close to me briefly.

Another thing I do in the morning (for approximately half an hour) is soaking – listening to Christian music and allowing God to minister to me through it. This is a wonderful time to just rest in God’s presence.

I also have my Bible reading in the morning, I don’t spend too long on this but generally read about two chapters and take short notes.

In addition to this I do a few other things like exercise, journal, read, etc. I wake up every day just before 5am and only really need to start getting ready for work (other than having breakfast and something to drink) at about 7am so this gives me two hours to fit in all these activities which really make a big difference to my day. I know that I am putting God first (literally) and I receive His strength to get me through the day (very necessary with the difficult year I am just trying to get through!)

Honestly, I never thought I would get into spending so much time with God so early in the morning. I always used to say how I preferred afternoon or evening quiet times because then I didn’t feel rushed and like I was just ‘trying to get God out of the way’ before rushing into my day but the truth is that I have found that if I start the day with God then I am in a better mindset to cope with everything else that is coming my way. Starting the day with prayer and soaking actually wakes me up relaxed and helps to relieve my stress levels.

So how do you start your day? Let me encourage you, even if you think you are ‘NOT a morning person’ to attempt to wake up half an hour to an hour earlier and make more time for God in the morning. You really will find that it changes your day and gives you a better perspective as you face your every day life and the challenges it brings.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

True Beauty

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Nov 102016
 

make-up-1432391-639x852Lately I have been getting more interest in external beauty – last year I did a professional make-up course through makeup.school and this year I have been getting advice about my wardrobe from lindapaige.com but I have also been thinking about what it means to be truly beautiful. For me true beauty goes way beyond how much we weigh, what we wear and how well we do our make-up, for me true beauty is really a matter of the heart. A truly beautiful woman is one who reflects the fruit of the Holy Spirit in her daily life.

In Galatians 5:22-23 we read “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.” If we reflect these qualities in our lives then I believe we will truly be beautiful. External beauty is subjective and often we tend to put down our own beauty and emphasize the beauty of others but no one can argue that someone who is loving, joyful patient, radiates peace, is kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled is a beautiful person and someone you want to be around. 

So although my external beauty routine may consist of a skin care regimen morning and evening, doing my make up in the morning, setting out nice clothes to wear the next day in the evening and doing exercise; my ‘true beauty’ routine also consists of soaking (spending time listening to worship music and letting God minister to me through it), prayer and spending time in God’s Word. I believe that as I make more time for these activities that I will be better able to reflect the fruit of the Spirit and therefore be a more beautiful person.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good on the outside but let us not forget to take time to develop our inner beauty as well. I encourage you to spend time developing skills like learning how to correctly apply make up and develop your own sense of style with regards to your wardrobe but I also want to encourage you to focus on your relationship with God and how you are reflecting that to others – are you loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled and do you reflect the peace of Christ in your life?

 Posted by at 8:00 am

Psalm 23

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Nov 092016
 

sheep-1315608-640x480“The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

Have you ever really meditated on Psalm 23? This is one chapter in the Bible that most of us know off by heart or have heard many times before but if we really dig deep into this chapter there are so many amazing promises.

God is our Good Shepherd and He will give us everything we need – if we are worried about any provision we can read this verse and know that God will provide for all our needs.

Are you going through a difficult, stressful time? I know so many of us are but we can rest in knowing that He will lead us beside quiet streams – He will bring us to a place of rest and relaxation in Him. He will give us peace.

He will guide our paths and fulfil His plans for our lives. He will guide us and direct us even when we can’t see which way to turn.

No matter what we are going through, even if it is the valley of the shadow of death, we know that God is always close beside us and will bring us through. Trust in Him and meditate on this verse to see what God is saying to you through it.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

Do Not Worry

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Nov 082016
 

i-m-not-sure-1438977-640x644I have to admit that by nature I am a bit of a worrier. I tend to worry often and even over little things. However I have been realizing that when we worry it is basically saying that God is not big enough or strong enough or …. enough to take care of whatever problem it is we are facing.

Think about this, we say we serve an all-powerful, almighty God who made the universe just by speaking but He can’t handle my little situation. Perhaps it is not such a little situation in human terms, this year one of my big worries was that my Dad has had cancer. Humanly speaking cancer is a big thing and I don’t think too many people would argue that. When someone tells you your Dad has “stage 4, inoperable, fast-growing cancer” I think it is almost natural to worry but even in these situations we need to see that the God who made the human body to begin with is perfectly able to heal it as well. This has certainly not been easy to do but we have seen my Dad’s health improve dramatically and are still trusting for a complete miracle.

More often than not though the things we tend to worry about are little things – deadlines, day to day problems, etc. Honestly I have worried about things that I know I have done just because a deadline for that thing was coming up and I needed to remind myself that it was done. Do we think that God is not able to handle these little every day problems?

The Bible actually gives us a command not to worry, it says “Do not worry”, and so I am trying to learn to trust God more and believe that He is more than able to handle any and every situation I face from the small deadlines to the cancers. I pray He gives us a greater revelation of Himself so that we know it is foolish to worry and that we believe that He will take care of everything that concerns us.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

Holding on with Open Arms

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Nov 072016
 

sepia-childs-series-2-1525734-640x480I remember once asking a friend what she had done when God had given her a promise but it did not look like it was going as planned, eventually she did receive her promise and it was after this that I had asked her how she had handled the inbetween time that is often so hard. She told me ‘you need to hold on with open arms’. At the time I didn’t quite understand how to do this but now I believe God has given me a revelation of what this means.

Sometimes we feel God has given us a promise, or we have dreams we want to see fulfilled but they are not happening immediately and at times we may wonder whether we have heard God or not or if we are going to receive our dreams or not. Sometimes we may feel God is not giving us a direct ‘no’ or ‘yes’ about a particular question and I believe in all these situations we need to hold on with open arms.

We need to present both options to God: God this is my dream/this is what I feel You have said and this is that dream not coming true/You saying ‘no’ or I heard God wrong; ‘You have Your way in my life’. To me ‘holding on with open arms’ is complete submission to God’s will, we may have heard right or we may have heard wrong, God may want us to have our dream or He may not, We may get a ‘no’ or we may get a ‘yes’; but whatever happens we are in complete submission to what God wants to do in our lives.

This place is not an easy place to be but it is the best place to be. We know that God has good plans for our lives and that if we leave it all up to Him then we will receive far better and far more than we could ever make happen in our own strength.

Whatever situation you are facing today I encourage you to hold on with open arms, present your requests to God but let Him direct your paths. He will make all things beautiful in His time.

 Posted by at 8:00 am