You Have Planted Much, But Harvested Little

So, I’ve kind of been in a funk lately. Funk = a time of laziness and feeling unmotivated to do anything. I have been searching to find my motivation and just haven’t had any luck until recently. This weekend was Half Price Books 50% off one item sale. I am embarrassed to confess to you that I went to 3 different Half Price Book stores in one day in search of a particular book and ended up buying 5 books total. And yes, I used my 50% off at each store! One of the books I got was a book called Made To Crave. It is a book about how we should be craving the Lord and not craving food (something I struggle with, as evident by my current weight). While reading this book the author shares a passage in Haggai that opened my eyes and stirred conviction.
Here’s the passage if you would like to read it first;
Haggai 1:2-9
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house. ’” Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin? ” Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, ” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 
In the book of Haggai, the Jews began building an alter and foundations for the temple, but their enemies made it difficult for them to continue building so the brushed the task aside. 10 years later, the Lord’s temple still hadn’t been built. In verse 4, the Lord speaks through Haggai and says “Is it a time for you yourself to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” This verse really opened my eyes. The Jews had made building their own homes a priority and completely abandoned the task the Lord had set before them. Each year something else seemed to be more important, something else was always a higher priority. They had time to do the things they really wanted to do, they had time to put paneling up in their own homes while neglecting the home of the Lord.
How many times in our own lives do we choose to do the things we want instead of investing in the Lord? How many times do we choose to sleep in instead of waking up to do our quiet time, or watch TV when we could be spending time praying to the one who created us. How many things in our life are taking priority over our relationship with the Lord?
For me this passage woke me up in more than one way. First, being reminded that God absolutely needs to be first priority in my life and those things that are so trivial should never be placed before him. I love that the Lord reminds us that no matter how much effort and energy we put into things in life we will not be fulfilled unless we put him first (verse 6). And secondly, as I continue to work on honoring the Lord with my body. Things like exercise and eating healthy should not be pushed to the side or saved for tomorrow. Just as things consume my mind and my attention and take me away from spending time with the Lord, Satan also uses those things to distract me from being active and eating healthy. This is an area in my life I have been investing so much time in and Satan knows that, Satan isn’t going to just lie down and play nice, he is going to fight, harder and harder every day to distract me and make other things seem more important. 
What things in your life are you pushing aside that the Lord has called you to invest time and energy in? What things in your life are you investing time and energy in when you should be focusing more on Him?

Don’t Stop Believing

Lately, there has been a reoccurring theme in my life… If you want something to happen you have to BELIEVE it will happen and it will! I don’t understand why that concept is so hard for us to grasp. God has been tugging on my heart about the importance of changing my thought process, the power of positive thinking if you will. I think often times, we defeat ourselves and allow Satan to use our own insecurities and self doubt to make us think we don’t deserve the things we desire in life. Guess what?? That is a lie!! You absolutely deserve everything you desire and the Lord promises to give us our desires if we are committed to Him (Psalm 37).
The Lord tells us over and OVER again in his word how important our beliefs are. In Mark He tells us that whatever we ask for in prayer if we BELIEVE that we will receive it, it WILL be ours (Mark 11:24). Also in Mark he tells us that EVERYTHING is possible for him who BELIEVES! (Mark 9:23) In Matthew He says that faith, as tiny as a mustard seed has the power to move mountains.
Here is a recent example of how God helped me connect the dots and really understand what this means…
Many of you know that I recently took a test to get certified to teach. Several of my friends and family were praying for me as a studied and prepared for the test and almost everyone I talked to said the message, in very different ways, “You’ve got this,” “I’ll pray, but you don’t need it I know you did good,” “I know you passed, why are you worrying about it,” “God wouldn’t have brought you here if this isn’t where He wanted you.” Everyone in my life seemed to have complete confidence that I passed the test, except for me. I studied so much but the day of the test I just didn’t feel confident at all, I knew the only way I was going to get a passing score was because that is what the Lord intended. Because of my doubt, I prayed, daily, over and over and over again and as I was driving home from work I was just praying again to the Lord…
Me: Lord, I pray that you would continue to prepare my heart for the results that are to come, I pray that you would continue to remind me that you have control and you have a plan. I pray that if the results don’t go the way I’m hoping that you would just help me be at peace about it.
God: “If the results don’t go the way you hope?” Why are you doubting me? Just thank me Brandy!
Me: Just thank you???? What are you talking about, I don’t have the test results yet.
God: Exactly!!! I know what my plan is, you need to trust in my plan. Just thank me!
I was suddenly filled with excitement and confidence that I had passed this test. God lifted all the anxiety and the doubt I was feeling and replaced it with joy, peace and contentment. And the next morning I got the test results, PASSED!
God reminded me of the verses in Mark and Matthew that I had read before and I just kept reminding myself of His promise that if I believe I have received it, it will be mine. So now I’m implementing that in all areas of my life.
–    I believe that I have passed this test because God wants me to be a teacher and I believe that even though I haven’t gotten a job offer yet I WILL be a teacher.
–    I believe that God has a man waiting and faithfully praying for me daily in anticipation of meeting me one day.
–    I believe that the changes I have been making in my life will soon reflect the outwardly beauty that I possess on the inside.
Do you believe the things in the bible are written because the Lord intended us to read them? I do! I believe every word written was intended to be read, meditated on and applied, so I will make an effort to continue to apply these truths to my life. I hope you have been encouraged by this blog and will also begin to meditate on the verses above and start to wholeheartedly believe the things you are asking God for in prayer.

“Hi, I’m Jackie!”

“There she is again, why do I keep seeing her, she is everywhere…
Oh no, she’s walking over here, why is she walking over here,
please walk past me, please walk past me,
surely she’s not walking toward me… to talk to me!!
Oh my gosh yes she is, what do I do, what do I say, why is she walking over here?”
“Hi, I’m Jackie!”

Nope, that’s not an excerpt from a book, those are the thoughts going through my head as a 13 year old, when a bubbly, bright eyed, energetic red head was walking toward me at church one morning. I was so painfully shy at the time and so completely controlled by anxiety that when the words “Hi, I’m Jackie” came out of her mouth I just began to cry. I had no clue why this girl wanted to be my friend. I couldn’t understand why this social butterfly, who could so easily make friends with anyone, would want to be friends with the awkward girl sitting by herself. But oh how thankful I am that she befriended me, I love her to pieces!!

I don’t share that story with everyone but I am choosing to share it today because today I got a text that said “That’s so awesome! You HAD to be a leader. That’s one of your many gifts!” As I read that text to myself God struck me with overwhelming joy. Never in a million years did I think the word “leader” would be used to describe the shy, bashful, anxiety driven teenager that cried when people talked to her. Never in a million years did I think the word “leader” would be used to describe the girl who had to get special permission from teachers not to do oral presentations because she would have a panic attack and hyperventilate in front of the entire class. NEVER did I think this was the path God was taking me on.

Several months ago I felt the Lord calling me to step up and lead a community group, I ignored His tug on my heart saying “I’m not ready God, I’m not strong enough in my faith to lead other girls in their walk.” I was so focused on the “I” part that I never heard God shouting “You are equipped because I have equipped you!” God knew what he was doing the whole time but my self doubt and Satan’s loud voice won and I ignored God and continued to ignore Him despite the overwhelming tug on my heart. While I was going through equipped disciple I came across a verse in Acts where Paul is speaking to the Lord and he asks “‘What shall I do, Lord?’ and the Lord replies ‘Get up,’ and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.” That verse opened my eyes to see that I had been seeking God’s direction in my life and wondering when he was going to give me the answer and He had already told me multiple times to “Get up and go!”

Over the last 2 weeks the Lord again has been speaking to my heart and I had been prayerfully considering speaking to WM staff about leading a small group at the upcoming Launch retreat. Without any knowledge whatsoever this had been on my heart, a girlfriend said to me “Are you going to lead a small group at launch?” Those words trampled all over the doubt Satan had been once again placing in my mind and gave me the ability to clearly hear the Lord saying “Get up and go Brandy.” So I did and today I received confirmation that the Lord will be using me in that way. The Lord continues to prove his faithfulness, and continues to reassure me that He has a far better plan for my life than I could ever have imagined and I am so excited to see where He will be taking me next.

I hope as you read this blog you will carefully listen to what God is trying to say to you and find the courage and strength to follow where He is leading. Remember, God does not call the equipped, but he equips the called!

1 Corinthians 1: 25-29 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[a] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being[b] might boast in the presence of God.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.