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New Beginnings

A New Season And Transition!

By Angela Willingham

2012-10-17

As I was thinking about transformation, I thought about all of the different stages of life that we go through.  When I first shared the idea of this lesson with Kim, our Executive Director, I told her we were going to do a lesson entitled, "Who Am I- Role Changes".  The issue as I saw it was how we go from role to role and we especially woman tend to identify ourselves by our roles.  As a child we are someone's daugher.  As a woman we become someone's wife or mother.  When the role changes due to the natural flow of things or due to some unforeseen situation we sometimes find ourselves in a place where we no longer know who or whose we are.  No longer working at a company we have been at for many years, we are no longer the manager, superviisor or CEO.  So if we are no longer who ever our title says we are who are we?  Who are we when the kids leave home and now we are left at home a lone with no one to nurture or mommy?  The bible says in 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,

A Time for Everything

3 For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

Know who you are apart from the roles you play.  It is important to have a sense of your own identity separate and apart from the role you play.  Roles change, who you are should not be based on the role, but on who you were purposed and created to be.  I am my son's mother and my grandson's G-Ma, but that is not who I am or what defines me.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Whether my son and grandson are around or not, I am a woman called by and chosen by God.  A woman fearfully and wonderfully made.  Who are you?  How do you define yourself, by your role, by your purpose or by your creator?

Recognize that seasons change.  Just like seasons change in nature seasons also change in our lives.  Babies grow into children, children into teenagers, teenagers into adults, adults into parents and grandparents.  All are different stages of the same life.  A baby can never be a wife and a little girl cannot be a mother, unless it is with a doll.  You have to let go of the old season in order to embrace and move into the new one. 

We have to be ready for the changes to take place.  We have to accept them.  As we grow and change, some season changes will come easily and others will be difficult.  New levels of maturity will prepare us for the new places that we are supposed to go.  It will be a natural move if we don't fight it by trying to stay in an old place.  Be willing to let go as God directs, knowing that the next place He has for you is better, because it is moving you forward. 

 Season changes that could be difficult:

  • Becoming an adult
  • Becoming a husband or wife
  • Becoming a parent
  • Children growing up and leaving home
  • Facing aging and health challenges associated with it
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Retirement

What season are you in? 

Can you identify anything in the season you are currently in that would tell you where you are? 

Are you accepting it and handling it gracefully or are you struggling? 

Can you identify what is making it difficult or easy?

Letting go of the old to embrace the new:

In order to embrace the new you, you have to erase the old rehearsed songs you use to play in your head about yourself.  If the change was a physical one you have to stop seeing yourself as the old person.  Example if you lost weight stop looking in the mirror and seeing the person that was over weight.

If the change was in attitude stop seeing yourself as the person with the bad attitude.  Personally, this is one that I keep going back and looking at God in awe about.  Why?  Because I know what He has done and I am grateful.

If you were a door mat stop seeing yourself as a door mat.  You are now secure, loving yourself with expectations of what you want and how people will treat you. 

Walk into  your new season and embrace it.  Don't allow other people or things to dictate who or how you will be.  I read a message from Apostle Jonetta that said in the fall season leaves fall from the tree.  You cannot reattach those leaves to the tree when the spring season comes.  Those leaves are dead.  They can serve a new purpose and be used to make mulch, that can fertilize the tree and other plants, but they will never be leaves reattached to that tree again.  New leaves will grow, because the tree has been fertilized by the mulch the old leaves made.  The old experiences and relationships are like the old leaves, good for mulch, something you can grow from, but they cannot be reattached the same way because you should have grown from the experience.  People that leave your life, especially after hurtful experiences cannot be just picked up and stuck back in position, something will have to change to make a new relationship if that is God's intention for you and for them. 

Be careful not to bring old stuff into your new season.  The person may belong there, but how they come back in is key.  If it was drama before they should not re-enter with the same old drama.  Remember this is a new season!

Take some time to identify your season and to see how you are handling it.

 

Financial Transformation!

By Kimberley McNeil

2012-10-11

Have you ever worried about finances?  I know I have.  Actually, I have spent several sleepless nights agonizing about making ends meet.  I remember screening my calls to avoid bill collectors as I had nothing to tell them besides, “You’ll get your money when I have it.”  I can recall several times that I lied to friends who invited me out because I just did not have the money to enjoy a simple meal.  I am also reminded of how I felt inadequate as a mother when I could not provide what I deemed the “best” things for my children.

During my divorce proceedings, I discovered that my credit was used to help finance my former husband’s new life.  Since we were married at the time charges were made, I found myself being responsible for half of these charges.  I was angered not only at him, but at the court, and at God.  How could someone so loving let me get stuck paying for another’s lifestyle?

I remember crying out to God one night as I was feeling so overwhelmed, and he answered me.  I remember Him sharing that it would not be easy, but if I made wise choices daily, I would eventually come out of the dark path of debit. 

Perhaps my story is not similar to yours, but if we are truly honest with each other, we have both asked the same question, “How did I get so far into debt.”

There are several factors that can lead us into debt.

Ignorance: While listening to most people speak about finances; I realized that most people were not taught about finances.  No one shared information on budgeting, financial planning, or the appropriate use of credit.  Shortly after turning eighteen, regardless of being employed, we received offers from credit card companies luring us with statements, “No interest for six months.”  Or, we’d go to a furniture store that advertised, “No payments for three years,” not realizing that at the end of those years, a whopping interest rate would be awaiting us at the end of the term. 

Not being able to separate wants from needs:  In some cases, it is easy to distinguish this.  For example, if you have small children, diapers are a need.  Bathroom tissue is a need.   Ice cream –definitely a want.  In other cases, it may not be so simple.  For example, I may need a new pair of shoes; however, I but a pair of $90 pair of Nike shoes instead of the $30 Champion shoes.  The truth is that although we needed shoes, we wanted the prestige of the name, so we bought the more expensive brand.

Lack of discipline:  Have you ever gone to the store thinking that I’m just going in for one thing, and come out with a cart full of stuff?   Then, ask the question as you are unloading, “how did this happen?”  I know I have.  The truth is that without discipline, we can find ourselves in financial peril due to impulse buying and overspending.

Not knowing and understanding sound financial principals can launch us into working for money, instead of having money work for us.  We can find ourselves being overcome by debt due to our ill-informed choices. 

Emotional Factors:  All of us have a desire to be liked, right?  And, some of us have found ourselves in debt trying to gain the approval and/or affections of others.  For example, a young lady I know shared that she was stressed out because she used a portion of her rent money to finance concert tickets for a gentleman she was trying to impress.  I remember the tears welling up in her eyes as she shared that he stopped returning her calls shortly after this event.  Now, she didn’t have the rent or the guy.

For you, it may not be the affection of another, but the feeling of needing to compete with others in your circle.  As humans, we often measure our success by what or how much we have as compared with others.  Whoever coined the phrase, “Keeping up with the Jones’” must have found his or herself buying things to say to their friends or neighbors, “Yes, we have that too.”  We may have it, but as we often find out, the price we pay may be higher, as we are spending sleepless nights trying to figure out how to pay for it. 

As a parent, I sometimes found myself sphering from obligations to fund children’s activities.  I did not want to feel like a bad mother, so I would take a bit of money from here and there to fund their various endeavors with the intent of paying it back with my next paycheck.  Unfortunately, something unexpected usually occurred during the next paycheck leaving me scrambling to meet my obligations. 

For many of us overcome by debt, we find ourselves being so overwhelmed that give up hope in ever being able to manage our finances.  But, if we start applying sound principals as a part of our daily lives, we can find that slowly but surely, we can rise above financial ruin.

One of the first things we must do is to change our outlook on money and finances.  We must recognize the purpose of money.  Money is to be used as a means to assist us in honoring our financial responsibilities, and not the answer to our problems.  An abundance of money does not guarantee happiness, or longevity of wealth.   We see many athletes, celebrities and lottery winners on the brink of bankruptcy, trying to sell or pawn purchased with money they thought would never end.    Money is a resource, and should be used wisely.   

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Secondly, we must know the state of our finances.  This requires honesty.  Once we know how much we actually make (not including overtime, bonuses, etc.), and what are true expenses are, and when they are due we can more effectively manage our finances.  For many of this, this can be quite a daunting task, but it is well worth it.  Many experts recommend keeping a simple notebook or computer program listing monthly income and expenses.  For many, visualizing where money goes provides both the positives and negatives or where our money goes.  It also allows us to adjust our habits and make better decisions,

Proverbs 27: 23 tells us, “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds."

Third, we must realistically look and plan for futuristic expenses.  By putting a bit of money away for savings and upcoming expenses, we can reduce trying to scramble when major or minor expenses arise.  For example, when I was making less money, I paid for my oil changes by saving ten dollars a month (five dollars each check), as shelling out fifty dollars at one time caused hardship.   By breaking up this expense in smaller pieces, I was not inconvenienced, or felt the stress of trying to come up with the money.  This technique can also be used for saving money.  My suggestion is to get a savings account that does not have a debit/or credit card attached to it.  That way, you actually have to go and get the money, which will prompt you to think about whether you really need it.

Proverbs 21:20 says, “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” 

Make sound, informed decisions.  This can require some research on our part.  There are times that we need to weigh the pros and cons of decisions.  My walking partner and I were talking about this a few weeks ago.  He said that when he and his family were starting off, he made the choice (and sacrifice) to buy certified used vehicles instead of personally owned cars.  Since he had no clue of how to fix cars, he decided that the warranty car offered was worth more than having to deal with expenses resulting from buying a car from someone who may not have been as truthful about the car’s reliability.  Although he and his family drove a very simple car, he was able to take comfort in knowing that the car would transport his family safely. 

Research can also be as simple as tracking sales for items that we need.  Most stores have a pattern of how they eliminate overstock items.  If we can wait for something to go on sale, than wait.  Or, if we know that a retailer will match a price, ask for price matching. 

An informed decision can also be whether we buy something cheaper immediately, or save a bit extra and purchase a better product in the future.  When we start looking at simple things such as: how much something will be used, who will be using it or how long do we need to use the item, we can make our dollars stretch further. 

Additionally, don’t make decisions out of emotion.  When we are sad, angry or upset, we tend to make decisions on what makes us feel good, and not based upon what is good for us and our family.  When you’re about to make an impulse decision, ask yourself whether a decision needs to be made at this moment, and if not, don’t make the decision.  Many times we find ourselves overcommitting our resources because of momentary floods of emotion.  I found myself committing to feeding children (while struggling to make my ends meet) during an emotional night of self-pity following my divorce.  The truth was that I could not afford it, but I saw those poor eyes and was hooked.  As I struggled to pay, I found myself being resentful of my “good deed” because I simply didn’t have the money.  I remember feeling so ashamed when I had to call and say I could not honor my commitment.  And, to tell you the truth, the person on the other end of the line was neither sympathetic nor empathetic to my situation.

Luke 14:28-30 provides, "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” 

Additionally, be wise in who you confide in concerning your financial dealings.  If one is unable to handle their finances, chances are they will be unable to assist you with yours.   If you do not know of anyone who practices sound financial principals, check out your local used bookstore or library.  You can find many good books and or articles on building sound financial principals. 

Some may use the information you shared for their gain.  I remember sharing with a person I was living with that my parents blessed me with five-hundred dollars.  Within 72 hours, I used four-hundred of it because they “suddenly” had issues with paying their portion of the rent.  I remember them asking periodically whether my parents intended on blessing me again, as I later found out they were planning to finance a weekend of fun for themselves and their friends. 

Proverbs 13:20 informs us that “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

Finally, don’t be afraid to begin.   Many of us never reach sound financial principals because we never start.  If we start making better choices daily, we will find that slowly but surely, our finances will be transformed.

 

 

Transformation of the Spirit     

By Almarice "Reesy" Barnett-Beatty   

10/4/12

Draw Thou my soul, O Christ, closer to Thine;
Breathe into every wish Thy will divine;
Raised my low self above, won by Thy deathless love,
Ever, O Christ, through mine let Thy life shine.

Lead forth my soul, O Christ, one with Thine own,
Joyful to follow Thee through paths unknown;
In Thee my strength renew; give me Thy work to do;
Through me Thy truth be shown, Thy love made known.

Not for myself alone may my prayer be;
Lift Thou Thy world, O Christ, closer to Thee;
Cleanse it from guilt and wrong; teach it salvation's song
Till earth, as Heaven, fulfills God's holy will.

So far we have been dealing w/ Transformation as a whole. We have talked about Transformation of the mind, Last week we talked about transformation of the body. Now this week, And I pray, every day of our lives we will deal with Transformation of the Spirit. Or you may say Soul.

In either case (Spirit or Soul) we are dealing w/ the inside of our bodies. Transformation: that has the possibility to change the outside. (EVIDENCE seen)  

Question: If I said describe a change that occurs on the inside?(image or saying )What do you think of ?  (A Change of heart, a feeling in your heart , a change on the inside that cause you to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, If I was them. Compassion)

Scripture reference :  2 Corinthians  5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed
away; behold, all things are become.

So when think of an inner change, the image that comes to mind is a Butterfly.  If we look at the life of a Butterfly, we can see that the butterfly begins its life as a caterpillar. ( A worm) in the dirt- crawling around trying to find its way in the dirt and filth. Much like how God finds us in the filth ( our sins )  But once we give our life to Christ. We are saved. He will pick us up out of the dirt and filth. * From the Ashes, God transform us by revealing the beauty hidden beneath the ashes. The beauty within,

Next like the butterfly we begin the next process, the caterpillar then goes into a covering while metamorphosing the butterfly is protected inside the cocoon. The same can be said about us. While we are yet changing (God Is covering us through this process) Old things are passed away – out outer nature is wasting away ( day by day ) But our inner selves are being renewed, changed.

Spiritual Transformation begins w/ the Holy Spirit. Not by the human flesh ROMANS 8:13-14 . For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are lead by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

So in this process it is not something we can do alone. In this process it deals w/us excepting Christ and our Lord and Savior. Once we have accepted, Christ the Holy Spirit is willing and ready to jump in. The Holy Spirit begins to work in within us. The Holy Spirit dwells in our earthly bodies. Now that we have a new nature, A new body we don’t stop there. The extent of our transformation is not only the job of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the God works in conjunction w/ or is in fellowship w/out spirit. , making intercession w/ our spirit. ( Romans 8:22-28) We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

The Holy Spirit gives us the power to change, to stop sinning. Which we were powerless to stop before without the holy spirit. (2 Corinthians 5: 17). Now even in this process while we are yet changing – We as people tend to get discourage or back slide or we slip back in or old habits. Why? We as Christians sometimes have this false notion that once we accept Christ in our lives that, that is all we have to do. NO work, nothing else. (WRONG)

I think Mayo Angelo says it best :                                                                                                            

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

We as Christians and as people seem to lose focus when things don’t seem to happen right away. Here are 3 reasons why we lose focus.

  • We forget what direction we were leaded to or head in another direction.
  • We stop yielding to God’s Will. ( We begin to drift away from a tighter relationship w/ God . OR even we just straight tell God no!
  • We are not trusting God TO KEEP HIS PROMISE TO GIVE US VICTORY. That is why we tend to walk defeated.

As believers in order to transform WITH IN we have to have Faith – to believe in the truth-believe in God .

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Here is where we should get joy.  Because if we are believing in GOD, Have faith in God. We should get a new focus, a FRESH vision of the Lord. After our perception is changed. We need and must, shift our focus from People, Possessions & Problems (NO MORE DRAMA) Focus on God. God’s renewing and doing a new thing in you.

Our Salvation, self realization or our connection to the Devine will of God. Will ultimately lead to the conflict in spirit, liberation from the things that spiritual bind us. (2 Cor 3:17) God wants us release, delivered, Freed from bondage.

Like the butterfly coming out of its shell. We are made new , We are beautiful, God’s spirit dwelling within us. , transforms us and making us new. Brand new. 

2 Cor 5:7: For we walk by faith and not by sight.

We cannot have transformation of our spirit w/ out God or without the help or the ultimate Spirit – The Holy spirit.  (2 COR 3:17) Transformation of the Spirit deals w/ Freedom,  deliverance,  peace. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we learn what God’s desires for our lives are. Transformation of the Spirit deals w/ things we have within. Sometimes those things are not always pleasant. IT can bring pain even deep rooted pain. But God brings us to it so he can get us through it. These are the things we need to learn to let go. Let go of old stuff.

But like the butterfly process , the transformation of the spirit is a process. I have found no short cut , no magic wand , no quick fix to become the person God Desires. But know even in this process, evil does not have the last word. God does.

We should never underestimate the pain that will be involved. ( Just Like the caterpillar transform into the butterfly. Dealing with its change and what's going on in the inside. )Don't be discourage. Never forget what' happening to us . We are being changed into the likeness of God. 

Song references: Larry Trotter My Worship is for real.

You don't know my story

All the things that I've been through.

You can't feel my pain, what I had to go through to get here.

You'll never understand my praise. Don't try to figure it out.

I love music and God loves to talk to me through it. I think it's wher I hear him best. It feeds my soul. The next song is title : Change

Change

A change, has come over me. He changed my life and now I'm free.

He wash away all my sins. He made me whole.

A wonderful change has come over me .He changed my life complete and now I sit at his feet.

I'm so glad he changed me.

GOD keeps his promises. Trust and have faith in him and you will witness the transformation of the spirit. With change there should be evidence and conformation. Remember God has our best future in his hands. We only need to trust in whatever it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transformation Of The Mind!

By Angela Willingham

 2012-09-12

Scripture Reference-

Romans 12:2

New International Version (NIV)

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 New Living Translation (NLT)

 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

 The Message (MSG)

 Place Your Life Before God

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Every one of us has to experience transformation in our lives.  Issues start in our minds.  That is where the real battle takes place.  The enemy places a thought in your mind that you know is not real.  Or it could be real just not necessary or one we need to dwell on.  It is a thought designed to get us off track.

 Have you ever allowed your thoughts to lead you in a direction that you knew was not real, but you didn’t realize you were off until you had already started down the wrong street?

 How do you know the difference between the real and the false reports of the enemy?

 How do you deal with that thought? 

 From your own life identify some of the thoughts that have attempted to get you off track.

 How do you keep those thoughts from taking over and causing confusion in your life?

 What do you think about the saying, every real and lasting change, starts with a change of mind?

The only way to stay away from negative thoughts, attitudes and mind sets is to renew your mind on a regular basis. 

  •  Studying the word of God helps us to identify the things that are right and the things that are wrong.  Studying the word does not mean you have to spend hours in bible study.  Start with a short devotional reading every day.  Romans 12:2
  • Surround yourself with other likeminded people.  Those that are trying to make something of their lives just like you are.  What happens when you surround yourself with people that are not moving in a positive direction?  What affect do their words and actions have on you and your sense of direction?  Hebrews 10:25
  • Stop it at the root.  As soon as you sense a negative thought or attitude trying to permeate your spirit, say oh no, we are not having that here and pull back from it pray against it.  You do not have to receive every negative spirit that tries to attach itself to you.  2 Corinthians 10:3-5
  • Grow in Relationship with Christ so that you can develop the mind of Christ.  1 Corinthians 2:16

The longer you stay out of fellowship with God and other believers the more access you give the enemy to you.  One day leads into another and soon you have given over so much ground to him that you don’t even realize what has happened.  I know you have heard the story of the frog that was put into the pot of water to boil.  The water was room temperature-normal.  The heat was slowly increased.  It was done at such a slow rate that the frog never noticed it until it was to late.  That is the same thing that can happen to us if we are not careful. 

Pray for God to show you areas of your mind that need to be transformed.  Ask Him to show you the old mindsets that you have forgotten about and attitudes that have gone unchecked.  Areas that have been allowed to go unattended and are now like wounds festering and in need of attention. 

As God transforms your mind you won’t even recognize yourself.  The things you use to complain about are no longer complaint worthy.  The stuff you use to judge in others is now an issue for prayer.  You begin to see the good in things that all you could see before was bad.  When you get to this point you will know that your mind has truly been transformed. 

What are you thinking about now? 

What has control of your mind? 

What pushes and pulls your trigger?

Has your mind been transformed or are you still in bondage to the enemy?  Maybe not in every area but some area.  Maybe it is a past hurt or desire not to be hurt.  Maybe it is a fear that you just can't shake.  Whatever it is, it is time to serve the enemy his eviction notice and move on with your life with your mind in tact.

 

Transformation Is A Process, Best Done From The Inside Out!  Part 1

By Angela Willingham

2012-08-23

I originally wrote this article for our weekly message but knew that God wanted me to deal with it as part of our New Beginnings Life Group Series.  Before we start I have to make a statement and that would be to take this personal.  Don't look at other people you know and think they ought to get this, look at yourself.  Ask yourself the hard questions and allow God, not your mind or your own reasoning to dictate whether or not you have it all together.  Many times we think we do, but we are dead wrong.  We are operating out of our flesh, not out of the Spirit of God.  Gifted yes, called yes, but still not operating out of the spirit of God or according to the biblical pattern.  The days of the angry black women, trying to do ministry are coming to an end.  The days of the Jezebel spirit running homes, businesses and ministries is coming to an end.  The days of masks, looking good on the outside while being all torn up on the inside our over.  It is time to do this thing God's way and be transformed from the inside out, so before we start turn off all of your defense mechanisms.  Turn off all of the old rehearsed excuses for you being the way you are and open up to what, who and how God wants you to be.

I got a call from The Fitness Angel.  He wanted me to know that he had found a place that could convert our old Temple Time VHS video into a DVD.  He went on to say how funny it was to watch it and see how we use to look back then.  He told me, "you were heavier then, you could use this to show people how far you have come".  I kind of laughed but didn't.  I knew what he was looking at were the changes on the outside, but I knew that there had been even greater changes on the inside.  If I am honest I know that he really is spiritually connected, so he may have seen the inner changes as well, God knows he saw enough of the angry black woman prayer warrior back in the day.

Is God working on you?

Is God trying to get your attention in some areas of your life?

Are you going with God or are you resisting?

Do you think the problem is really everybody else?

When God called me to this, I had no idea what it would entail.  I knew the focus.  We had an evangelistic fitness ministry, yet I was unprepared for what that meant to me personally.  I kept trying to focus on getting the weight off to be an example to those that would come to our classes or through our doors.  Never understanding getting the physical weight off was not God's primary concern.  How many of you know that anybody can get the physical weight off?  There are all kinds of options and opportunities to do that, but the real plan of God is for us to be really fit from the inside out.  There are fitness centers every where, new weight loss products every day.  I talked to a friend the other day and she told me it was time for them to get back on their HCG.  Something you take to lose the weight for a specified period of time.  Go off of it and then go back to it.  There are weight loss surgeries.  So losing the physical weight can be done.  But I could not lose it, the way I thought I should.  God had a greater plan for me and for my life. 

Honestly, I had taken our little fitness survey at church and it showed I was strong spiritually and needed to work on the physical and relational component.  How many of you know that prayer warriors sometimes struggle in their relationships?  Connected to God all day long or so it seems from the world and the churches stand point but missing something key.  Religious but not relational.  I knew all of the right scriptures and could pray for you all day long.  Not where I needed to be in compassion and not even knowing it.  Thinking I had this spiritual thing together.  Wrong!  God wanted to change me from the inside out.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.   He desired for me and for you to be completely new, not warmed up, not a sore that had not healed, but new-transformed.  If you really change the inside the outside will look better with no real change at all.

How many of you think you got it together spiritually?  If you are not showing love, real love, not superficial love you are missing it! 

Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him and could have stopped that but he didn't.  Spiritually we won't allow people to come near us because of certain things about them that we don't like.  Is that the biblical pattern of Jesus?  Sometimes you have to allow the enemy to come in close, so he can do what he has to do to propel you forward, to assist you in your transformation. change, conversion.

Have you ever had an experience that seemed bad, but you realize it was part of your forward movement, part of your transformation?

How did you handle it?

Were you angry?

Did you realize it was part of God's plan or did you fight against it?

In the things you are going through or been through can you see God at work?

Take the time to see yourself where you are right now.  Are you honestly where God wants you to be spiritually, physically, emotionally and relationally?  Are you saying the right words and going through the right motions, but not really feeling it or allowing God to do it through you?  Are you operating more out of your flesh and what you know to do, than out of the spirit of God?  It is time to be honest with God and with ourselves.  Over the next few weeks we are going to be talking about getting fit from the inside out.  Really being transformed.  No more harsh tones or bad attitudes.  We will be praying for God to pour out His spirit on all flesh.  It's time for flesh to die and God's spirit to truly reign.

Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 5:17

Joel 2:25

 
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