The Holy Spirit—My Guide & Friend

The Holy Spirit—My Guide & Friend

We receive this peace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

If we have given our lives over to Jesus and are following Him we have the very spirit of Jesus Christ living in us! He is always present, interceding and guiding us into truth and peace, in and out of the storm.

What is His purpose? It is that you will live with peace and joy in your heart, knowing that He loves you and nothing will come between you and Him, no matter the situation. It is that you will be made righteous, that you may display the gifts of His Spirit and show Him to a dying world.

Prayer is always God’s plan to connect us to Him but now more than ever, we need to be praying earnestly for God to draw us to Himself and praying about all that’s happening around us.

We have access to the very Spirit of Christ in His Holy Spirit who will intercede for us when we don’t know what to ask for!

~ Romans 8:26-28

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[ the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

“Our prayers are not always answered by a specific action. Sometimes our prayers are answered with a shift in our attitude or in our emotions. After prayers we may find that confidence has replaced our fear, contentment has replaced our desire, hope has replaced our despair, comfort has replaced our grief, patience has replaced our frustration, joy has replaced our spirit of heaviness and love has replaced our anger. I know many of us are shaken by the events in the past few weeks so, let’s look at Isaiah and see how he coped:

When Isaiah’s life was shaken, he responded by looking up. As a result, he had a fresh vision of the Lord. This is the time to look up…from our knees! Let’s ask God to give us a fresh vision of Himself. Because, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear… since He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from…the deadly pestilence…You will not fear the terror of night…nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…” Anne Graham Lotz

Has Your Life Been Resurrected?

Has Your Life Been Resurrected?

John 1:1,14, Titus 3:5, Luke 1:28, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Matthew 27:3-4, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, and Colossians 3:1

For those of us who have suffered the trauma of abortion, can agree that every part of our being, physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional, has been broken and shattered into a million pieces. We found ourselves barely able to function and as a result we chose unhealthy mechanisms to cope with our state of despair; such as alcohol, sex, drugs, shopping, unhealthy relationships or anything that could fill the black hole in our heart. There is only one person who can pick up the shattered pieces of our broken lives and fill the hole in our heart and that is Jesus the only begotten Son of God. Have you truly met the Savior, the lover of your soul? Have you been led out of the darkness and chains, into His glorious healing light?

Where were you when you found Jesus? I was 34 years old and literally on my back laying on my couch for weeks at a time, and thinking this is not living, I am barely surviving, and wanting to end this torment of a life. My depression was so severe that I was incapable of getting on with my life and daily responsibilities. I was a broken, depressed, addicted, suicidal mess. On the outside, I pretended to have a perfect life, but inside I was dying and it became exceedingly more difficult to put on my mask every day. The only thing that kept me from formulating a plan to end my life were my 2 children who were very young, at the time around 7 and 8. I could not abandon them and leave them without a mother.

My husband had been on a quest to find the truth about Jesus and he was attending several churches in our area. In my desperation, I told him I wanted to attend church with him on one such Sunday. All four of us attended a small Baptist church in Browns Mills, NJ on January 2, 1994. For the next four weeks we would attend church as a family for Sunday School, Sunday Service, and on Sunday and Wednesday night meetings. My heart and mind were being saturated with the Bible, the Living Word of God (John 1:1,14). My Spirit was slowly being regenerated or reborn (Titus 3:5). My eyes and ears were opened and I heard things I had never heard before, and I had attended church my whole life. I heard that Jesus was born of a virgin teenager, a woman blessed and chosen by God, (Luke 1:28) but no different from you or I. He lived a sinless life, (2 Corinthians 5:21) was betrayed by Judas Iscariot for 30 pieces of silver, (Matthew 27:3-4) was tortured and crucified on a cross, died, was buried and rose again on the third day. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) He is alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. (Colossians 3:1) When I realized that Jesus loved me so much that He died for me and He took upon himself my sins and He willingly died for me. I was finally broken of my self-sufficiency and pride and I humbled myself before God and I asked Him to forgive my sins and I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.

The most memorable life transforming day of my life was on February 6, 1994 when I became a born-again believer in Jesus. I will never forget that evening after Church when I was of all things, smoking a cigarette in my garage; that addiction took longer to stop than my drinking which stopped immediately. It was a clear crisp beautiful February evening and looking up I saw the moon and stars and I had this overwhelming feeling inside that something happened, I felt my spirit quicken in me and I said, “I feel you in me, I am changed, thank you Jesus.” Tears streamed down my cheeks and I was filled with gratitude, love, and hope for the first time in my life, I felt completely loved.

Have you encountered Jesus?

Once you do you will never be the same.

Tell me your story, where were you when Jesus found you?

Blessings,

Toni

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Fear vs Faith

Fear vs Faith

John 16:33, John 14:27, and 2nd Timothy 1:7

When I was a little girl, I feared so much in my life, especially in my home where I should have felt safe. I can remember fear always being with me. At a very young age, while laying in my crib my older brother would come in and silently hover over my face, to frighten me. For years he tormented me in so many ways, including sexual molestation when I was an adolescent but no one came to my rescue. My parents were mostly present but unaware; they were not able to care for us individually since there were so many of us; I had 14 brothers & sisters. They were busy working, training us to do household chores, taking care of the home and keeping us afloat. My mom was not a communicator and didn’t engage in individual conversation with us. And my father was a very angry man who took his frustration out on us kids, so in fear I hid from him when he came home from work. But that was not always an option.

Over the years, I learned that if others saw my fear, they would take advantage of and sometimes prey on me. Eventually I learned to mask my fear with a false persona of self-confidence to prevent anyone from getting too close and hurting me emotionally. I worked really hard to provide for myself and created a perception that I could overcome any threat that came into my life; I was convinced, I could protect myself. This worked as long as I was able to control my environment. But that is not reality. We know there are many situations we can’t control, including our relationships with others!

Into my early teens my life spiraled out of control with promiscuity, broken relationships, drug and alcohol abuse until I came to the point that I lost what sliver of hope I had and felt an overwhelming sense of despair. Fear ruled my thoughts and no matter how hard I tried to bury it; it was always present in my heart. I continued on this destructive path, trying to bury the pain, until one day I found myself pregnant and this situation stopped me in my tracks! I feared that my lifestyle would be exposed, I was ashamed and feared what others would think of me. I was single, in my 20’s and didn’t really know the father, so I had an abortion. That is when I found myself unable to cope with my decisions, especially the one that took the life of my child. This choice brought me to a point of extreme crisis. I couldn’t move past this decision which was always in my thoughts and defined who I had become.

During the time span of my disfunction, from the age of 14, I can remember followers of Jesus telling me about Him, but I was afraid of getting involved in what I thought was the rigid religion I grew up in that had nothing to offer me except judgement. For 11 years Jesus sought me out and one day, ironically, 9 months after my abortion, He opened my eyes to see His truth and, on that day, I asked forgiveness for all my sins and invited Him to be my Lord and Savior. As I began to walk with Him and explore the bible, I read that He would care for me and that I could exchange my fear for faith in Him, and in His promises!

As a new Christian, just learning about the ways of God and who I was in Him, I continued to operate out of fear. But over time, I came to understand that fear and faith cannot co-exist. One will always negate the other. This was a life changing truth for me!

For the past two or so weeks we’ve been listening to the world and experts tell us to, “Be afraid, fear for our health, the health of our family members, the economy, losing our jobs, not having enough to sustain us, to avoid all social contact, that things are going to get much worse, that there is a silent killer among us!”

The government entities have closed down the parks, schools, restaurants, businesses and more. The stock market is plummeting and the world is reacting in panic, wondering what the future holds for them and their children. Many are selfishly hoarding goods in the event they have to be quarantined. There is uncertainty all around us. While I’m very aware of what’s happening and that we have good cause to experience this fear and concern, I want to share 2 perspectives that I hope will help us put things into perspective.

And I heard Satan Say, “I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down business, schools, places of worship, and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil. I will isolate them so I can more easily attack and cause great fear, so they will lose all hope.”

Then, Jesus said: “I will bring together neighbors, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table, I will help people slow down and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rest and rely upon me and not the world, their money, or possessions. I will provide for all their needs.”

What are you fearful of?

How do you respond when you cannot control your environment?

The Lord has given us His Word to show us how we can be encouraged through difficult times and not to react in fear.

We read in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you; not as the world gives do, I give to you. let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

2 Tim 1:7, “For God gave us not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”

 

In Christ’s love,

Luci

Read more of Luci’s blog posts here!

Why Didn’t I Trust You, Lord?

Why Didn’t I Trust You, Lord?

This week, it will be 39 years since I had my abortion back in 1980 as a 21-year-old college student. I was far from home and far from God. Why didn’t I trust You Lord and have my baby? Why couldn’t I go to my parents and say I made a mistake? I was paralyzed with fear, anxiety, and torment.

Why didn’t Eve trust God? He was not trying to control them or hold back anything good from them. He was protecting them. Why does God not want us to have sex before marriage? Is He trying to control us or rather, protect us? Sin is destructive, it hurts our relationships with God and others, and it cost our children their lives.

I didn’t trust you Lord because I was not following Your laws and I was not seeking Your wisdom in my life. I was in the clutches of the enemy who was directing my steps and tormenting me to do evil and ungodly things. I was blinded by my own woundedness and my unhealthy coping mechanisms due to my depression, loneliness, isolation, and torment. My spirit was grieved, and suicide became a real consideration, especially after that horrific day: the day I took my baby’s life. But You Lord are gracious and kind, and You pursued me until I came to the end of myself and relinquished control of my life to You. That glorious day was February 6, 1994. I finally realized my life was a mess. I was so lonely and hungered for true healing and fulfillment in my life. I no longer wanted to just get by; I wanted to truly live. In John 10:10 we read Jesus’ Words, The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Going forward from here, how do I trust God and give Him access to all of me? First, I must believe in my heart that He truly loves me and has my best interests at heart. I must recognize that His love does not compare with any other love in this world. It is pure, holy, unselfish, gentle, and eternal. I must repent and turn from my sins and recognize that Jesus died on the cross for MY SINS!!! In Romans 10:9-10, 13, That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

I am so grateful for all the pain and brokenness I have experienced in my life, because it is the very thing that brought me to God.

In His love and service,

—Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Gifts from God & Giving Gifts with Purpose

Gifts from God & Giving Gifts with Purpose

It’s that time of year that we are thinking about giving and receiving gifts. And today I want to share my heart on the topic as well as share some spiritual insight.

When I was a child, we had very little by way of gifts as my parents couldn’t afford much with 15 children. I don’t know how but they always managed to give us one or two gifts a piece. They would get us one toy and an item of clothing which we cherished because most of what we had were hand me downs.

But I really wasn’t longing for material gifts; Instinctively I longed for the gifts that come from the healthy kind of love a child would expect from her parents, like affection, healthy interaction, guidance, acceptance, and encouragement to become the best I could be. I had a deep longing to feel safe and cherished.

As I grew into my adolescence, I discovered that needless material possessions, dysfunctional relationships and substance abuse could temporarily substitute for those things that I lacked and truly longed for. It wasn’t my intent but I set out on a self-destructive path which caused me to establish unhealthy patterns and relationships. When I did receive a material gift with a personal touch, it gave me a great sense of belonging and worth. For example, at 13, on a rare occasion, while my oldest brother was home to visit, he took me shopping and bought me a new outfit. I felt so loved! But it wasn’t the actual gift that moved me, it was the fact that he took time out, saw a need in me and made me feel so special!

As I grew into my 20’s, the Lord opened my eyes to Him and having tried to live life my way which was causing great pain and broken relationships, I surrendered to Him, not knowing all that it involved, jumped in and simply believed He loved me and that my life would be better. I was in for a wonderful surprise in how my life improved!

As God began to pour into me and bless me with all the good gifts, he has for us, I had an overwhelming desire to pour His blessings back out. And over the years, I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to give so much to others. And others have been so generous to me in the giving of gifts.

I’ve always had lots of fun choosing the “perfect” thing for each person I was giving to. It’s so much fun for me to see their delighted response to what they receive. According to Acts 20:35 “it is more blessed to give than receive.” I have found it to be true in my life. But then I had to learn that receiving gifts with humility and thanks is just as important because the giver receives a blessing as well as the recipient. I also discovered that I didn’t have to spend much $ to give the most meaningful gifts!

So, as times passes, my perspective on giving gifts has changed. And, more often, I’m giving with the desire to move others closer to the heart of God. Because that is the gift that will be the most meaningful and have eternal benefits.

As an example of giving with meaning, when a dear friend’s husband suddenly died of a heart attack while the two of them were entering the church one Sunday morning, I made a mix of worship songs for her because she loved music that praises the Lord. It didn’t cost very much but it helped her focus on Jesus, during a time of great struggle.

As I consider how we give and receive gifts, it got me wondering how God gives gifts and for what purpose. And what we can learn from His ways. As I researched and prayed, the Holy Spirit showed me just how much He does give and the wonderful ways it works in our lives.

So, here are some of the many gifts God gives us:

Protection: Before I even knew Jesus, He kept me safe in my disfunction and very bad life decisions. So many times, I could have died or fallen so deep into my sin that I would not have found my way out on my own. I remember one time while hitch hiking to the laundry mat from my apt. I was picked up by a guy who dropped me off where I asked him to but as I was getting out of the car, he hit me over the head with a heavy object. It hurt so bad but didn’t knock me unconscious. As I got out of the car rubbing my head, he was racing down the road with the passenger door still open. I can only imagine what his intentions were! I believe the Holy Spirit was there protecting me. I am so thankful!

Provision: Before I knew Jesus, He was providing for me and meeting my material needs, for many years.

Revelation: He reveals himself to each of us uniquely, speaking to us and meeting us where we are in our lives. Being from a very large family, I’m especially thankful that He treats me special, as if I were His only child! Can you relate to this?

Forgiveness: He forgave all my offenses from my past, present and future and I chose to repent and turn from them. But even when I went back to some sinful habits, He never abandoned me. He is always available to help me sort out my mess when I come to Him.

Guidance: I’ve prayed for direction so many times when I didn’t know which way to turn or what choice was best and He guided me!

Favor & Salvation: When Jesus saved me, I felt as if I was unworthy of any love or acceptance but He adopted me and taught me the meaning of unconditional love and acceptance. His gift of salvation is irrevocable if we truly repent and surrender our hearts to Him.

We read in Romans 8:32 that “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” God loves us so much! He wants to shower us with gifts and blessing in this life and the one to come!

His Word: It gives me hope and helps me understand my connection to Him and what He expects of me

Prayer: This is one of the main ways we connect with our Lord. It is a gift He gives so we can communicate our hearts to Him.

Our Role: Being used of God to fulfill His eternal plan at this time in history. God’s timing is perfect and we were chosen for such a time as this! How incredible is it that God allows us to be part of His plan?

His Holy Spirit: In Acts 2:38 we read, “And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” This is Jesus in me! One of the gifts I am most thankful for! He is my constant companion.

So, what gifts can we give to the Lord; what does He desire?

God wants us to trust in His Son as Savior and Lord.

He wants us to “become conformed to the image of His Son.

He delights in our praises to Him.

He desires for us to spend time with Him.

He calls us to love one another and serve Him with humility.

The gifts God desires from us have the distinct purpose of making us righteous, in good relationship to Him and loving one another. If you notice, it’s all about relationship with Him and the body of Christ. It’s never about performing works for the sake of that alone.

God is loving and gracious, always wants what is best for us. Let’s praise Him together during this most beautiful time of year.

In Christ’s love,

Luci

Read more of Luci’s blog posts here!