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Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

At the request of many I am posting this prayer. If ever there was a time to call our faith into action, it is now. Please consider praying for our Nation and Christians being persecuted around the world:

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

Nahum 1:7 ESV

Gracious God,

You are holy. You are mighty, awesome in power and mercy. You are worthy of all praise! I think about the enormity of who and what You are and am overcome with my own meekness and humility. Lord, I recognize that our very existence, our purpose, and the balance of the entire world, rests in the palm of your hand. Lord, I do trust in your plan for the unfolding of the lives of all Christians and the future of this world and beyond. I am grateful for this truth, for You are mighty, gracious, and merciful. I acknowledge your omniscience, your sovereignty and hope to honor You with my faith in You, my prayers and my trust. Your will be done, Lord.

Lord, we humble ourselves before you as we pray for our country in this time of breakdown. Help us all to turn to You for the answers on how to stop the insanity of our time. We are grateful to live in a country that offers equality for all, which is professed in its very foundation, and for the intended freedom that “a nation under God” is meant to provide. We long to live in a land that holds true to fairness, equality, respect, courtesy, generosity, and morality, but our hearts are troubled to see how rapidly all of this is deteriorating. Lord, there is so much social unrest, irrational behaviors by many, name calling and blame given to those with opposing opinions, and contentious politics. All of which is fueling greater unrest. Further, the slanted or inaccurate information being presented in the news, internet and all forms of social media is promoting doubt or even disgust in the social systems which we once believed to be trust worthy. The fear and panic all this generates, in addition to the health threat from the pandemic crisis, now defines our present decomposing reality. How do we discern truth when there is no definable truth? We are witnessing a breakdown of society and the cost is the loss of dignity, human decency, integrity of humanity and hope for our future. We find ourselves looking down and around us, consumed with worry and not looking up to You, in whom we know to place our trust. Please Lord, forgive us and have mercy. We now look to You and pray for an end to all the civil unrest displayed in violence, mocking hatred to those with dissenting opinions, and the destruction and damage of communities left in ruin. Nothing can be resolved in this volatile atmosphere, yet people persist. Come Lord Jesus, lead us back to You before all hope is lost.

Lord, we grieve for the cause of this, as our hearts break for any injustice, any form of brutality by anyone, thus we ask you into the hearts and minds of all. Please be merciful. Remove any blinders of those acting out in malice. Let America reconcile itself back to You. Please guide the leaders of this nation toward rational thought, affirming steps toward reconciliation, resolutions, truth, dignity and most of all peace. Let us come together to find solutions, not create more problems. Please Lord, help us for we cannot do anything of value without You. We need You. Let your love for all mankind be the antidote for hatred, bitterness or rage. Let rational discussion come back into our communities. Let us recognize truth. Let us see one another as You do, through eyes of compassion, love, understanding and concern.

Break down the walls of hatred and divisiveness Lord, for we know who the real enemy is. It isn’t a singular person, organization, group or political party. It is the evil one who has gained a foothold in our world and only by your grace can we stand firm and remain honorable, righteous and protected. Only through Your love can true reconciliation come. AMEN.

Blessed are all who take refuge in You, Lord God.

Ref. Psalms 2:13

Lord, we also pray for all Christians around the world, especially for those being persecuted and mistreated because of their faith in You. May we all stand united, unified as one, in the body. Let us all be strengthened by Your Spirit. Let our collective light shine brightly, like a city on the hill. Let us stand up for the righteous truth of who You are and who You say we are. Allow us to see one another as you do, through the lens of love for all mankind. We are all your children. Let us have a hand in restoring dignity, respect and peace to our nation and elsewhere. I pray all these things in your mighty name, Jesus.

Amen

Confidential prayers or inquires please email me at: dear.maria@mjrodero.com

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What Is God’s Will For Your Life?

Heavenly Father,

You are Glorious! You are all powerful and all knowing. All honor and glory are yours, Lord God! I am humbled to come before you in reverent prayer, praising You, seeking your love, your wisdom, and your guidance. Thank you for making your presence known while I bow before You and petition on behalf of fellow believers who need You desperately. Lord, I am inadequate on my own, an imperfect vessel, but You, Lord, are flawless and your mercy and love for those who desire a relationship with you, are boundless. Time and time again, you have proven this to be true. Thank you for loving us so much that You took our sins upon you, sacrificing yourself, suffering an excruciatingly painful death. You paid it all. You are the resurrection and the life! We praise You! Only by your power and your will can I offer anything of value as I pray on behalf of those seeking hope, healing, and help. As I pray over their pressing concerns, please speak to me. Allow your Spirit to convict me of any area in my being that needs cleansing and forgiveness. Allow your Spirit to flow through me and guide my prayers. Thank You for your answers that will surely come; answers that have great purpose and meaning in your eternal Kingdom.

It is my prayer that your will be done, Lord, now and forever! Amen

(In Him, I Pray)

“If it is God’s will.” – This phrase I say frequently when I pray, but why? Why the question of uncertainty? It isn’t just a manner of speech. I don’t just throw that sentence around as a casual ending to a prayer, or do I? I guess the real question is how can I be sure to discern God’s will for my life or the lives of others and how can my prayers make a difference?

I assume we believers are alike in that we desire to follow God by faith and trust in His Word. We want to live, “God’s will for our life,” for we understand that there is nothing and no other who could design a more beautiful life for each of us than the Lord Almighty, God of all Creation. Yet, there are times when we are uncertain what God’s will truly is for us and for those for whom we pray. For example, we may experience a time of suffering and question how it could be God’s will that we are hurting. Or, we pray for healing for those who are deathly ill, but as we pray we are uncertain if God will actually heal them as we request. We wonder if it might be God’s will that they return to their heavenly home. Others may ask for prayer to be free from chronic pain, but are unsure if their pain is intended for God’s purposes which might be saving them from a worse fate. It is in these moments we say, “If it be your will, heal them, save them, Lord.”

Truly, there are times when it is hard to discern God’s will or intention within our circumstance. So I ask you, do you believe it is it our job to discern God’s will in order to pray effectively, or is it our job to simply trust God with every prayer?

Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26, ESV)

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 groanings 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. (Romans 8:26-27, ESV)

Let us stick to the fact that all of God’s promises hold true: Jesus offers His cloak of grace that covers us allowing us to confidently come before the Father to receive mercy and help in our time of need, He promises to prosper us and not harm us, promises to strengthen us and uphold us with his right hand, promises to never leave us nor forsake us, promises to walk alongside us and guide us, promises to love us and to befriend us, to give us hope, life and an eternal resting place in His kingdom, among many others. (ref.: Jeremiah 29:11, Isaiah 41:10, Hebrews 4:16). These promises are all true, for God is incapable of lies or deceit. For that reason, I believe the best course to affirming the will of God for us is by reminding ourselves what God’s promises are and who God says we are (for we are victors, royalty and chosen). When we do this, there is no room for doubt. His will for us is good. In that truth we should place our trust. Our only job is to bring our sincere heart before Him in reverence and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, believing that all that follows is His best and most perfect will in every situation.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. that is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

2 Corinthians 1, ESV

I am at a point in my life where I recognize that everything is worth praying about. For prayer does what worrying, hoping, fretting, or overthinking cannot. It opens up the direct line of communication with God. It allows us to place our petitions, prayers and concerns into the hands of the one who can guide it best for the good of all concerned. Understanding God wants what is best for us means knowing His answer to any prayer is what is always in our best interest. Sometimes, the best answer is something only God knows. That is why I go to Him in faith and reverence. Perhaps we are not meant to understand, but simply trust Him. Perhaps in a moment of crisis, there is no answer because God’s perfect timing is yet to come. Thus, patience may be needed as much as trust.

God is good and his perspective is eternal. His intervention in our lives comes about from His love for us, His desire to have a personal relationship with us and grow us spiritually; all assuring us our eternal salvation. God must have goals for our spiritual growth. I assume these are among His goals for our spiritual success and achievement. When we doubt them, we limit His ability to work in our lives. When we don’t let Him lead and when we don’t wait on His answer, we are acting as if we don’t trust his plan for provision and His purpose for us. Our role is to believe in the power of his salvation, trust Him in every situation, to be patient, wise, calm and cool, kind, accepting and, thereby, grow in our ability to respond more like Him. In that space we will begin to understand the will of God and our prayers become more meaningful and effective.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen

2 Peter 3:18, ESV

We pray in faith, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to communicate our pureness of heart, our desires, and belief that God hears every prayer and cares for His people. It is after praying in this light we find answers that can turn around the worry to joy in a completely unexpected, out of nowhere kind of way. Even more, when believers are joined together, aligned with God’s will, the response can be immediate. For, the power of prayer becomes stronger when prayed together with other believers.

“For where two or three gather as my followers, I am there among them.”

Matthew 18:20, NLT

This is not magic, well wishing or fantasy, but truth. Enacting the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, praying together as one and utilizing the spiritual connection God offers, is a blessing which allows for the grace of God to come into every area of our lives. It brings God’s will into focus.

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.

Romans 8:27, ESV

I know what it’s like to feel helpless when loved ones are hurting or sick and there seems to be nothing we, alone, can do to help. I also know what it is like to be looking up from the pit of despair when all of life seems broken and pointless. I have reached the end of myself at various times of trial in my life. I attest that my walk of faith has lead me through heartache, breakdowns and tragedies. I faltered many times by believing God wanted to punish me for my mistakes or failings and I am here to tell you that only by surrendering all of myself in prayer to God (loosening my grip on my problems or pain, raising my white flag of surrender, handing all my worry, stress, guilt and anxiety over to God, asking for His help) did I find miraculous answers to all my prayers, instantaneous change of circumstance, healing and restoration. I am talking about life altering, complete healing and restoration. It is my testimony that prayer in the Spirit transforms and aligns your life with the will of God. It can bring you to new heights of joy, peace, clarity, wisdom, love and deep devotion to the creator of the universe. It can impact your life, and in the lives of everyone you care about. In seconds, it can set you on a path or a life course that you were always intended to be on; the ideal course God had always planned for you – one more glorious than you can ever imagine. It also has the power to impact those you pray for in a glorious way. The key is to approach prayer in genuine faith, believing it’s power, persevering regardless of struggle or circumstance and trusting in its outcome as God’s will most of all.

I’m not writing to tell you what to do. I am not selling you a bill of goods and the last thing I would ever wish to do is give you false hope. I am hoping to expand your awareness of this powerful and glorious communication between you and God through the Holy Spirit is immediately available for you. The more you surrender and grow in grace, the more the Holy Spirit intercedes. I encourage you to try it. If you do, you’ll instantly experience blessings of comfort and peace and that is only the beginning.

Let me pray for you!

My intention with this blog is to provide a resource for prayer over concerns and issues in the lives of people who are following Jesus, or to help those seeking answers about Him. My ability to write meaningful prayers in the spirit come after listening well, hearing the issues of my beloved brothers or sisters – taking in their truth, and kneeling before the Lord in prayer. It is there I best share my heart with Him. From that time and place of devotion, I have been told that my ability to put a meaningful prayer into words has an impact. Some have responded by telling me that they have received more blessings than they dreamed possible by my putting into words the feelings they couldn’t clearly express and having it prayed over by believers. I would consider it an honor to do the same for you.

I feel compelled to offer this as a service onto the Lord. I will also ask followers of my prayer blog to join me in praying over your prayer request (anonymously or otherwise) which is assured to make a greater spiritual impact for all involved.

I am not at all sure where God may lead us through this format, but I do know that at this moment He wants me to let you know that you are loved – that you are His. He created you with intention and a specific purpose. In Him, you were always meant for great joy, purpose, peace and in relationship with Him. He wants you to trust Him in every area of your life. Start the journey to deeper faith today!

I believe it is God’s will to offer a prayer for you and that He will continue to honor this blog and bring forth wisdom and hope to all who come by it.

It is In Him, I Pray:

Lord, I declare how truly amazing You are and how grateful I am to be your child! You gave everything to keep us from eternal separation from the Father. What’s more, You have given to us such power and connection to You in our prayers. You have left a portion of yourself with each of us when You endowed us with the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us as we pray. Please allow us to draw ever near for we need You. We clearly see that it is You, alone, who can transform us. Lord, it is about your power and your strength in our lives, and your love and care for us that is the fulfillment of your promises. Help us to come humbly before you and align our prayers with your will. Let us grow in wisdom and grace as we pray. Help us develop deeper faith from time in prayer and in your presence.

As it should be, may your will be done, Amen.

P.S. Does any of this resonate with you? Do you consider it basic information or a worthwhile read? Are you already aware of the power of prayer? Do you have questions or comments? Please let me know. I would love to receive feedback. Please feel free to respond below in the comment area. If you would like to pray for others please click on the follow link below. Note: any confidential correspondence can be sent to my personal email at: dear.maria@mjrodero.com

Thank you and God Bless you!

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On Becoming a Mother

In Honor of My Mother

I woke this morning with a singular emotional thought. It was about motherhood and the gift it truly is to be a mother. I was consumed with tearful gratitude for the blessing I have received to have the amazing Mother I do, and to be a mother of four wonderful and inspiring children. How gracious God has been to me to allow it!

I thought a lot about the emotion, love, dedication and struggle that comes with motherhood. Initially, it is a process not only forged with exuberant joy and heightened hopeful expectation, but also pain, hormones, discomfort and possible nausea. Regardless of what is experienced up until birth, there is a constant vibrating echo of love and hope for the future. Mother’s go into motherhood knowing the personal challenges and potential risks they will experience, but they do it willingly and knowingly for they trust in the blessing and the outcome. They gently rub their growing belly for mutual comfort, speak tender words of love and grace, and they pray for all things bright, beautiful, and possible for their child.

This is where we start as mothers and where we draw near when we need to work through the moments when joy of being a mother seems difficult to retain. When we are faced with conflict, attitude, a messy house, or thoughtless action by our beloved children, we find strength there, in our love, purpose, and persevering role as mother. A friend gently reminded me, “”Draw near to the source of love that gave you the gift of your children. Remember, Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, “whatever is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Ref. Philippians 4:8)

This is where I hope you will find me, always reflecting of the beauty and grace God gives me every day of my life in my role as a mother and daughter. If you are a mother, a child of a mother, or both, please know I am praying for you with sincere best wishes.

Today, whether you are reflecting on your role in your own family, your mothering tendencies in your friendships or on the beauty and grace found in cherished memories of our own mothers, let this day be filled with joy and gladness. Receive due grace and allow yourself to receive it for the gift this relationship truly is!

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:31 KJV

Happy Mother’s Day to all! May God’s blessings be on you this day and every day!

In His name, I pray

Maria

bouquet of pink roses

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Relationships That Form Us

Dear Readers and Friends,

My heart and prayers are with you and what concerns you. I am praying daily for the world, our nation, for those that have succumbed to the COVID-19 virus and their families, those impacted economically, in addition to other individual prayer requests that come my way. The global crisis we are all facing, justifies our anxiety and our concerns bordering on fear. Our new reality is unsettling to be certain and, to make matters worse, much of it is truly out of our control. If you’re like me, you’re unsure what to do and convinced that you’re not doing enough. That being said, there is something we all can do to affect positive change and keep us from being overcome with concern. Now is a time like no other to fight back fear by enacting our faith through fervent prayer and trust in God of all creation, for He who knows all and sees all. Let us praise Him, lean on His power and authority as we pray for all mankind. Let us call upon the the Holy Spirit within us, declaring God’s promises and who He says we are, as we ask for guidance, healing, restoration and peace. Let us trust Jesus, our Savior and Friend, for all things. With the prompting of the Holy Spirit we can be assured we are doing our part in the unfolding of God’s plan (Ref. Ephesians 3:14-20). Please take this opportunity to express your trust in Him through prayer. Know that He cares about you and everything that concerns you. And, let me know how you are doing. Any specific concerns you would like me to pray over your life can be sent to me privately at: dear.maria@mjrodero.com

May God bless and keep you always,

Maria

The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine, or than any one can who has not felt how roughly they may be pulled without breaking.

Anne Brontë. Agnes Grey

Confined! Right now that is where we are. That is how we feel, especially when schools, restaurants, and businesses (virtually everything) are closed and we are asked to shelter in place together at home. We are told to be happy for the family time this situation allots. We are told to take time with one another, be grateful and get creative. We are being told to keep the sunny side up in our family community while our world order and systems everywhere have been flipped upside down. It seems quite unrealistic, doesn’t it?

Well, I believe it is fair to say that it can be an uphill battle against anxiety, irritation and frustration under our current circumstances. In close quarters, any conflict that was easily avoided with former obligations and activities outside the home, those things under the surface of relationships that threatened harmony, are most likely now exposed and causing tension or worse. From personal experience, I can relate. As a family, we have lived through hurricanes and blizzards that have kept our family housebound and without power for weeks. We have also faced various times of financial brokenness. Let me just say, it wasn’t always pretty, but we got through it with God’s help.

Perhaps your wondering what to do about it in your own home? Before cabin fever lights the fuse under these issues and causes potentially irreparable damage in your relationships, there are a few things I recommend: 1) Create a plan for your day, but be flexible because nothing is perfect 2) Set boundaries and expectations for family members 3) Give everyone a job they are responsible for in the home (even the little ones) 4) Allow yourself “time outs” when needed 5) Designate time for daily prayer and self-reflection 6) Love well – Be present and really listen to one another before you react 7) Have reasonable expectations with yourself and your loved ones.

Remember, everyone longs to be heard, seen, appreciated and respected especially by members of their own family. Also, the uncertainty and change of our current situation is felt by everyone. Recognize that they may process it differently than you, and emotions can be heightened. So, when the children are fighting in front of you or are acting out, it is because they want your attention or reassurance. When your spouse or sibling does that thing that drives you mad, they want your reaction. In both examples, you have a choice. You can confront it, ignore it or redirect the situation with grace.

Perception Is Reality

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As the youngest child of eight children, I struggled with feeling truly loved and valued. In fact, I fought against feeling ignored which translated into feeling unworthy of love in my own mind. Time and time again I tried to prove my value to my family, which was mostly unsuccessful, because they were all busy with their own agendas. It ended usually with me stomping off sad and angry. There is no blame here. This is about my perception of my reality. We were all driven to prove our worth, parents and children alike. Love was something we accomplished, something we earned.

To this day, in my most intimate relationships, to ignore me is one of the most effective ways to hurt me. I find it cruel. With God’s help I counteract it by remembering who God says I am: I am worthy, I am valued, I am loved, I am His child.

Exposing this to you, writing a blog for the world to see, is an act of bravery. I confront real fear of rejection, but it is Christ, His exemplary life, that makes me brave. I no longer become callous to those who reject me or ignore what I say, for I remember all Jesus did for mankind while knowing He was rejected, yet He did it for us anyway. Through knowledge of God’s love, I process hurt most effectively through prayer, forgiveness, reading His Word and being open to effective communication.

Start your next step forward in gladness, because of the unconditional love God offers you, and be thankful. In that head space, the Holy Spirit, who is always within you and driven by God’s grace, can initiate a clear understanding and direction on how you can be present for others.

Reach out to your loved ones in faith. Forgive and give your sincere heart, for we have all been that child who has felt the sting of rejection. Who knows? Your response through love, may start a trend in your family that could last a lifetime.

Just my thoughts in hopes to help as we all navigate through this unprecedented time, together.

In Him, I pray!

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Disappointment, Rebellion, and Wisdom

Dear Maria,

In Christ, I have made advancements in acquiring levels of peace from my daily devotionals and prayer, but I still find myself feeling surprisingly down, depressed, and even disappointed at times. I wonder what it will take to move forward and let myself live “happily ever after,” and be at peace at all times. I guess I am asking how can I be free from my past or hurts that bring me down? Getting to the place of rejoicing in the Lord at all times, in every circumstance, seems unrealistic and unobtainable. Is it? Or is it just me?

Sincerely,

Seeking Grace at all times

Dear Grace-Seeker,

Its sounds like you have made great strides in you faith walk. Rest in that for a moment and praise God for the growth and grace He has provided you to do so. The question you raise may be more common than you think. Before we explore the answer, I have a question for you. When you pray and seek the Lord, are you waiting on God’s response? Are you taking time to hear His answers or are you moving forward without it?

As you know, prayer opens up a conversation with our Lord. Like any conversation, it requires a two way line of communication, a series of questions, comments and responses. When God responds, consider it like good counsel for your soul. Believe God wants to answer your prayers and petitions. Trust in it, and be patient that God cares and will answer in His timing, His way. Remember, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. (Jeremiah 17:7, NIV). If you are impatient or don’t expect an answer, it is easy to forge ahead and take back the authority you gave to Him in prayer. Moving forward without him will draw you down into a hole of futility where nothing gets truly resolved. It is there where we all tend to fall back into unresolved issues that plague us.

I will say this, no human is perfect so if that is what you seek, you may never find it. On the other hand, if growing in grace is your greatest hope, know that you are pleasing God when you praise Him, seek His guidance, trust and wait for His leading. If you fall, recognize it, pray it out, and find your way to get back up, forgive yourself and press forward. Its about taking steps toward growth and healing. We are all a spiritual work in progress. We gain wisdom and peace as we actively work out our salvation.

In Argentina, there was a river that ran through our backyard when we lived there for a time, much like the photo at the top of this post. One summer, our boys attempted to dam up the river by placing big rocks, even boulders across it. Just when they were making progress and growing exhausted from their plan, the water crested and pushed all the top boulders off their dam line. My eldest scrambled to push one boulder back up on top, but failed and, in the process, nearly lost his finger nail. That was the end of their mission. Everything changed when we had to go to the emergency room. Luckily, his hands were so cold from the frigid water, and his nail was still hanging by a thread, that the doctor was able to successfully place it back his nail bed and it healed over time.

Falling into despair happens, but staying there and holding onto pain and regret from your past, is like placing rocks, even boulders, in a smooth flowing river bed. The water continues to flow, but now, with your efforts to block it, the water breaks upon the rocks you place in it path, and it causes disruption and a change in its intended direction. It may even find its way around you, avoiding you completely. Regardless of how many rocks you place, it can never stop the river from pressing forward, continuing on its natural course and the harder you try, the greater the risk that it might take you under. So, be careful and tread lightly. Now imagine that the water is God’s grace that wants to flow to you. If that were true, would you continue to block its flow?

Obviously, I speak from experience in more ways than one. On a certain level, I recognize how futile it is to hold onto the weight of a sorry past that wants to consume me. For a long time, I allowed guilt, regret and hurt inflicted upon me to keep me down, discouraged and depressed. It wasn’t until I prayed to God in praise, placed my trust in Him for release and guidance, that I was able to break free and live on in a far healthier way. The more I released to His care the more freedom I experienced in His grace. Now that I know what it feels like in this state of gratitude, I work hard to not slip back into a state of regret or sadness, by praising the Lord in every circumstance.

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:18 NKJV

God’s grace is upon us, ready to be received. When we rejoice in Him, it flows down like a glistening stream. Bathe yourself in praise to the Lord and watch how it covers, how it cleanses and transforms your attitude, emotional and spiritual. It causes the disappointment to roll away and replaces it with the splendor of God’s presence, where joy, peace and love reside.

Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Psalms 37:4 NKJV

I heard Charles Stanley once say, “we are all self-oriented people,” so don’t be so hard on yourself when you revert back into a state of sadness, especially when things aren’t going your way. Recognize it, but take action to release it back to God.

Perhaps you’ve been hurt or have regrets, or someone has hurt you in a way you can’t break free in forgiveness. I don’t know the extend of your situation, neither how much pain you have experienced, nor when it occurred. But, from personal experience, I have come to understand that disappointment is like grief, in that it takes time to process and time to heal. It takes work. To be free of it you must take action to chip away at it. If you don’t, if you linger in that head space for too long, it becomes like one of those rocks placed in the river. You block the flow and the very intention of God’s plan for your life. Make the decision to break free by taking action and praising Him in a sincerity that is undeniable. Through praise you begin to focus on who God is, not where you are stuck. Seek Him. Recognize he is doing something to effect your life in a great and healing way. In fact, God is always at work, doing something He longs to share with you.

If it brings comfort to you, know that we all struggle with staying the true course. Remember, past sorrows and disappointments are what, most likely, prompted you to seek God in the first place, which is a good thing. However, if you fall back in regret, self-loathing or a pity party, it can hold you in mental chains, like handcuffs you’ve placed on you own wrists behind your back. How can you reach forward that way? You can’t. You must choose to let go and break those chains. With God’s help, through praising Him, recognizing the God of all Creation, trusting Him and asking Him for help, you can face any consequences that may come by trusting and reaching up and forward for the life intended for you. Reach out to the Lord and declare He is the one who created you, loves you beyond all measure, and carries you through. Thank Him for that. In Him, where grace flows, if you let it, you can stop trying to take control of something that was never designed to be under your control, nor limited by your control. Grace is something designed to be guided by God and solely received through faith and trust.

The Lord knows everything – there is nothing hidden from Him. He can make a new way especially if you welcome Him into every area of your life. Shift your perspective to acknowledge the one who gives purpose to your life – to your Savior who pad it all. In Him, you will have an abundant life worth celebrating.

It can be hard to let go, but not letting go of pain and unforgiveness is a form of rebellion, believe it or not, as is striving to be perfect. For when you strive for perfection you are actually working toward trying to no longer need the Lord. The only striving that is worthy is the striving to rely on the Lord, walk with Him more consistently and allowing yourself to grow in the knowledge of our miraculous Lord and Savior.

There is a purpose for you and your life – every moment of it!

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Jams 1: 4-6, NIV

It takes time to let things go. The important thing is to recognize that you need to let go of your sadness in order to live to your best ability. Please recognize that no one is condemning you because you haven’t let go yet, and neither should you condemn yourself. That would be pointless and not what God wants for you. In fact, He paid it all so that you wouldn’t be condemned! So instead, be gentle with yourself and be honest, as well, as you work to peel away levels of sadness, disappointment, and hurts. If you do, I can promise that the liberation and joy that comes with each step forward will encourage you to continue the process until you are finally and completely free in Christ.

I hope you find my thoughts helpful and encouraging to you. I pray that God will continue to lead you into a deeper understanding of His love and grace for you and for your release of any heartache that holds you back. Keep seeking and striving for time with Him each day and let me know how you are growing in grace. May the peace of God be yours always! In Him, I pray, AMEN

Hello Reader,

How are you doing? How am I doing? I would love some honest feedback. More importantly, confidential prayer requests or questions can be submitted to my attention only at: dear.maria@mjrodero.com

Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

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The Action of One Matters!

Dear Maria,

I am so tired of being the only one who seems to care about serving God, helping others in need, and doing the right thing. I look all around me and no one seems to care about anything or anyone but themselves. Yet, I jump in, feet first in situations, when I feel it is the right thing to do. Sometimes, I feel unappreciated and dismissed as crazy to keep helping. Don’t even get me started on lack of gratitude. Even my spouse doesn’t want to hear another word about me following my heart, in faith. All he sees is my exhaustion and he wants me to put my energy in our family, only, and take care of his needs. I am at the end of my rope, figuratively speaking. I don’t want to deny doing good for God, but I don’t know how to do it all? Any advice?

Sincerely,

Drained & Unappreciated

Dear Friend,

This concern speaks to my heart, because I know what it is like to feel pushed beyond my physical limits for a cause I believe is spiritually worthy, only to be mocked for it by those closest to me; mostly because they feel their needs aren’t being met. It can make you feel like you are alone, misunderstood and not appreciated for your efforts. Worse, the conflict makes you doubt God and it feels like you are losing your strength and ability to discern God’s will for your life.

First, let me say that you are not alone. Not only do many believers find themselves at this crossroads between burnout or pressing on from time to time, but most importantly, God sees your effort and your heart to help others. He is with you always. However, let there be no doubt, this conflict can be a spiritual battle. The work you are doing may not be God inspired, but inspired for other reasons. The best way to get clarity that what you are doing is God’s will, isn’t through physical fighting, arguing, or persevering on the present track that is obviously exhausting you, mentally and physically. It is accomplished by equipping your mind with the right spiritual focus and attitude.

The first step in the right direction is to stop everything you are currently doing and seek the Lord. Pray and prepare to receive the Holy Spirit into your thinking. Pray for discernment on what the Lord is actually asking of you. Then listen for the reply. The Lord does push believers at times to grow us spiritually, but He doesn’t want you burned out to the point of giving up. On the contrary, He longs to see your joy and uplifted spirit for the work He inspires in you. The challenge is accepting and knowing that what you are hearing in Spirit is truly a call to action from God. We can jump in and help those in need, but that doesn’t mean it is always the Lord asking it of us. Sometimes we feel obligated to fulfill every need before us for reasons outside of the will of God. We are human and we can’t be everything to everyone and it truly shouldn’t be about us. We are not equipped to carry the burden of the world on our shoulders, but God is. He sacrificed everything for us, and we are free in Him. Yet, he pinpoints those he wants to take action in certain situations, those whom he asks to impact the lives of others. He asks us to get involved in specific situations, not because He needs us necessarily, but because He wants us to share in the blessing of His love for all mankind. We are simply His vessel, a witness to the miracle of His grace. If we are doing the very thing He is prompting in our Spirit base to do, we receive the reward of being part of His will. When He nudges, and we act, we are blessed and at peace. We are not weary, but uplifted and energized. It is truly a wonderful place to be.

If what you’re doing (for the Lord) drains you and gives no peace then stop doing it and rest in Him. Wait for the nudge. It will be clear as day.

All that being said, life is a balancing act. Sometimes what we feel inspired to do for God, will seem in conflict with other needs in your life. Sometimes you will feel your actions on God’s behalf will go against the grain, create more problems than seem worthwhile. Again, remember that God wants you to thrive. He wants what is best for you and he wants you to honor your marriage and family. So, let God help you with your concerns of your spouse and family as well. Pray to God for guidance on how to meet and care for the needs of your family, while acting on the request of the Spirit. The answer will come, for God is with you. Don’t neglect one over the other, but find compromise by letting your spouse know that what you are doing is important to you, therefore it needs to be respected. Then ask for understanding and be open and willing to find a solution suitable for both. If none can be found in the moment, ask for time to make it up in the future and commit yourself to it. In grace, let reason be your guide. Who knows, maybe your spouse has a role to play in this as well!

If you choose to take my advice, as I believe God is directing, write to me and let me know the outcome. Remember, I am praying for you. Amen

It is In Him, I pray,

Maria


You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Put blinders on and plow right ahead.

George Lucas

Life for me now, is about trying to honor God each day before anyone or anything else. It is a place I am happy to be, and it took my lifetime to get here. It will only continue if I continue to pursue the Lord and seek His wisdom and grace each day.

This question about taking action for God brought my biblical response directly to the story of Noah and the Arc. Noah was a righteous man in the eyes of God. Not only was he and his family spared from death in the great flood, because he found favor with God, but God Almighty also gave him a job to do, and Noah obeyed. (Ref. Genesis 6) Some might say he obeyed blindly; never looking right or left but straight ahead, negating the scorn and mockery of people of his time, pushing himself physically and perhaps even mentally to build the Ark, and completing his task without question. It is because of his faithfulness that God blesses us. Because of his actions, God gave humanity a second chance:

“And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

Genesis 8:21-22 NLT

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Noah gave up, decided what God asked of him was too much for him, or asked God to pick someone else? Do you think Noah understood that his loyalty and faith would be the pivotal point for all humanity or was he simply obedient to the command of God?

Regardless of your answer, Noah’s actions mattered and so do yours.

Have you ever heard God speak to you and you acted on it? Or in a more subtle way, have you felt a “nudge” from the Holy Spirit to do something unexpected? Perhaps not on such a grand scale as building a huge vessel to save creation, but a spiritual push just the same, to do something that wasn’t on your plan for the day? Perhaps you’re in the middle of checking something off your “to do” list and a person comes to mind and you are overcome with a desire to call them. When you do, you realize that person is in crisis or in need of encouragement over a critical decision they are having to make? Now, let me ask the contrary. Have you ignored that voice or nudge and have come to regret it? Did you dismiss it because it seems like a small thing or something you rationalize away as something you can do later?

It may seem like a small thing to you, but to the Holy Spirit, a nudge is not a small thing. It is coming from the spiritual presence within you that links you to Almighty God. The outcome could be the difference between life and death, hope and despair, giving up or giving in, and could have ripple effects for many generations. Only God knows the true extent and purpose of that nudge, and when it comes to you, He is asking you to act. You are being asked to take a step of faith and make an impact. No matter its effect on you personally, the one that you are aware of, God will always be pleased with you and your act of obedience. That counts as a blessing for we Christians.

So let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

galatians 6:9 NLT

Even this blog is an act of obedience – a sacrifice of time and responding to the nudge of God. I have been challenged whether or not to continue, but I continue to write and pray over each entry with God, believing it will impact the person intended by God in a meaningful way. Let me know if it is helping you, for that is my driving force to write. Emails for my eyes only can be sent through my personal email address at: dear.maria@mjrodero.com

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, It is in You I lift my arms in reverence and praise. I give all honor and glory to You, merciful Lord. I am so grateful for your faithfulness in my life and the lives of all believers. Please help us all to recognize your voice and your call to action. Let us not get discouraged, or act out of selfish ambition or need, but rest in your grace and act as you direct us and be uplifted. We long to grow in this way because we love you and hope to grow ever closer in relationship with You. Thank you for your love and for sharing your grace with us. May your will be done, now and forever! AMEN

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Make A Splash

Dear Maria,

I have great love for the Lord, but I have a hard time sharing the gospel with non-believers. I am awkward with my words and fumble when I try to bring it up. Fear of rejection keeps me quiet. What do I do?

– Struggling Believer

Dear Struggling Believer,

Have you ever participated in a team building exercise? I am referring to the one where you let yourself fall backwards, while trusting in others to catch you? I have and the first time, especially, is the most mentally challenging. Your mind goes through doubts and bouts of uncertainty and perhaps even panic. However, once you let yourself go, and you find yourself caught by protective arms that keep you from falling, you feel instantly exhilarated and joyful! Without true courage, trust in others, and fighting off the voice of doubt and fear, the beneficial experience is lost. When you do it, you learn that you are not alone, that you will be protected from the fall by something other than your own strength. You must be brave, but you don’t have to brave it alone, because your bravery and courage are met with loving action that saves and protects you.

This is a lot like your faith. Did it ever occur to you how brave you are to act on your faith, especially when you expose or profess it to the world, where many view it as a weakness or even delusional? You demonstrate spiritual strength when you place your trust in the knowledge of God’s love and purpose and it makes you step forward regardless of the outcome. It takes courage to trust that God meets you there and won’t let you fall!

If you are not there yet, you might be wondering how do you get there. The answer is simple: prayer and practice. The only hindrance is your understanding of how God sees you and how much you feel you can trust Him. Do you realize that you are as transparent to God as a drop of water on a lens. He sees through every part of you. There is nothing you can hide from Him: no secret, no undivulged pride, no guilt, no personal struggle or act of love. While praying, it is pointless to not open yourself completely and sincerely before the Lord.

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 97:10 NIV

Prepare your heart and mind to be right with God before you act. Remember, God does not tolerate sin of any kind. In fact, He turns away from it. You have been given the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice so that you are cloaked in His grace, thereby your petitions can be made before God. Still, the only way to be cleansed of sin, which is defined as any thought, word or deed that separates you from God, is through the remission of them. Pray and ask God for forgiveness of your sins, known or unknown, for there may be behaviors, attitudes or actions that you are not recognizing as sin. He wants to cleanse your soul in order to grow your spiritual connection in the best way possible. Once cleansed, your connection is unhindered and trust in Him is strengthened.

Admitting anything that we might see as weakness or inadequacy in ourselves before the Lord is the beginning of a sincere, genuine loving relationship between us and the Father. There is intention in why God created us imperfect. He wants us to need Him, learn the value of trusting Him and placing our hope in Him. He wants to be the author and perfecter of our faith (Ref. Hebrews 12:2). When we feel inadequate, we come before Him and ask for His help. He hears our prayer and responds in grace. How wonderful it is to have a Father who loves us unconditionally. We can always trust He is in our corner if we ask Him to be there!

I profess that I am inadequate on my own when it comes to sharing my faith to non-believers. I don’t always do it right, but when I step out in faith and trust, God always shows up and does something amazing I never anticipated or imagined. He gives me words that impact the person. He calms my Spirit to just plant the seed and let it go, for the work of the Spirit belongs to the Spirit. He subdues my fear and focus on myself, and lets me zero in on the truth of the person in front of me, their pain, their hurt, and reason for their anger and resistance of God’s love.

When I step out with the Holy Spirit leading the way, I am blessed to have experienced how God can do so much with my “so little.” Every sense of accomplishment in my life, comes from a source greater than myself. Miracles, personal success, survival of trauma or removal of abuse, true peace and exuberant joy are all the result of God showing up and intervening on my behalf. Sometimes, when I step out with my “so little” and trust Him for the rest, the answer comes from an unexpected source – either another person steps in to take over, unsolicited prayer and concern comes my way, dramatic change of circumstance shifts my perspective and hope is restored, what appears to be chance encounter (which it isn’t) changes everything in a heart beat, etc. I show up willing to bring my small offering of faith and trust, and God blows me away by answering the call. Where I thought the challenge was on me alone, transforms into a situation where I become a mere witness of something great, something truly miraculous.

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Matthew 8:27 NIV

To be part of that change we must be willing to bring what little faith and hope we can offer to the Lord, and trust that God will use it for His glory. My “so little” is so small that I think of my offering like a single drop of water, where gallons are required to effect a change. By the amazing nature of the Holy Spirit the multitudes gather together to join me and my life and faith is changed forever.

God is the Creator of all things, including us. Just as every drop of rain is designed for the purpose of replenishing moisture to the earth, we are designed with a collective purpose as well – to share His love and grace with the world. To honor and praise Him. One drop of rain does very little on its own. However, combine enough droplets and a rain shower forms that can transform the landscape. Puddles become streams, become rivers, etc. Plants grow and flowers bloom. Insects thrive and life is renewed and flourishing. It is the same with sharing our faith.

The Holy Spirit works through us all, connecting believers and transforming us in thought and action – making an impact through our prayer and thought life and our spiritual connection to God and His will for our life. Sharing that beauty is a gift to others.

Even how I am responding to your question, requires a great deal of spiritual connection and trust in our Lord. Without the Holy Spirit in command of my writing, every shared thought would be pointless – just letters and phrases on a page. It only has value if the message is God breathed – His message flowing directly to you, the reader. If it touches you in a deep and meaningful way, if it speaks to you and addresses your private thoughts never shared with anyone but God, than it is as it should be and I thank the Holy Spirit for His inspiration. Remember to act as the Spirit encourages or convicts. Don’t fool yourself that it isn’t powerful. It is a message from God to you so don’t squander it! When you do act on it, He will show up and walk alongside you. Know it and believe it!

Trust God and His promises to keep you, never leave you nor forsake you. He promises to give you a hope and a life worth living. Please take my advise. Don’t try to hold yourself together by your own strength or try to prove your faith by going it alone. Trust God will be there to catch and use you. Let yourself fall into His care, for the Lord has command over water and the seas. Allow yourself to be gathered up by Him, like moisture in the clouds. That way you can be part of the down pour of His grace. It is then you will make a worthy splash!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, What a true comfort to know that You love us so greatly that You sacrificed your son so that we could have a way back into a right relationship with You. Praise our Lord Jesus for his life, sacrifice, death, and resurrection. We come before You in prayer and ask for your guidance and protection as we step out into the world to share the gospel. Fortify us with the knowledge of your love for us and your promises to never leave us or forsake us. If we must face adversity, fears, or if we must fall, we can be brave knowing that You are there to catch us. Thank You for the blessing of your unconditional love and faithfulness.

Amen

If you have a question or comments please feel free to share. Private thoughts or prayer requests can be submitted to my personal email at: dear.maria@mjrodero.com

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Seek His Face

Did you really take a look at this photograph? If not, please do. Can you see His face?

You might think this image fabricated or retouched. However, I attest that it is an unaltered photograph taken with my smartphone from my balcony a few years back.

That particular afternoon, I had stepped outside after praying and praising God, feeling particularly uplifted with a sense of God’s grace upon me from the time I spent in prayer and the personal revelations it awarded me. Thankful and content, I breathed deep and took in the glorious sunset, immersed in its awesome beauty – another day ending, strikingly manifested against the backdrop of God’s creation. It was so beautiful, I simply had to take a picture. It wasn’t until after reviewing the image that I saw the enormous face reflected in the clouds. When I did, my heart leapt in an acute awareness that God is far more immense than I could ever humanly fathom. Truly, I believe it to be something affirming from God.

God Is Greater Than We Can Imagine!

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. (1 Chronicles 16:11 NIV)

Look up! He is there. He is in the clouds on display and in the midst of your trials. He is not only in the trenches, but He is holding your hand, He is whispering comforting truth to your heart, and leading the charge in your victories. He is everywhere and His glory is all around you.

Let this moment be a time when you become aware of God’s presence within you and all around you. Tune out the clamor of the world and tune into seeking God in the calm and clarity of a single thought: God is always reaching out to you in love. Be still, acknowledge Him, accept His love, and let this truth transform your perspective and your life.

Prayer

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek (Psalms 27:8 NIV)

Lord Jesus, it is your face, your presence we seek, for in You we are humbled, comforted, at peace and made complete. Nothing compares to You. Thank You for loving us, for showing us how vast and deep your desire is to make yourself known to us, in order to give us encouragement and hope. May your name be praised forever and ever.

It is in Your name, We pray

Amen

Have you experienced a miracle similar to this? Has the Lord shown himself to you in a unique way? Do you need prayer? Confidential prayer or comments can be emailed to me at:

dear.maria@mjrodero.com

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To God be all the glory!

Welcome to my prayer blog! This is a safe place to share praise, concerns, heartbreak or even circumstances that bring you to your knees, seeking answers and a connection with God the Father of all creation. I started this prayer blog at the suggestion of women in my circle who have expressed sincere appreciation for the prayers I write over their lives. I am a devout follower of Christ, whose life has been saved by grace time and time again. I give God all the glory for my healing and redemption. I long to give hope to anyone seeking the same.

God has clearly commanded us to pray for one another and put our faith into action. For Jesus prays for all believers when He said, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17: 20-21 NIV)

Consider this site like a spiritual online version of “Dear Abby”:

  • A place where your concerns are heard, respected, and prayed over
  • An opportunity to receive a written prayer response to your situation, created in the Spirit
  • A place designed to help draw you back into a right relationship with God
  • A place to strengthen faith through the power of prayer
  • A space that allows the Lord to show you His immeasurable grace

It is my intention to write prayers and thoughts in response to concerns brought to my attention, as I walk alongside fellow believers who share their hearts. Discretion is paramount, as well as sincere consideration of the importance of what is shared.

Let us begin this journey together; drawing ever closer into an intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through prayer and submission.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, my redeemer and my strength, how grateful I am to begin this journey online with You at the center of it all. May the information contained within and the responses shared, not only be pleasing to you, Oh Lord, but filled with wisdom that comes from Your Holy Spirit. Be our guide Lord, for we need you desperately. Praise be to God in the Highest! Amen

Confidential prayers or inquires please email me at: dear.maria@mjrodero.com

Declare Every Season As Good

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV)

Question:

I am a writer and have been facing writer’s block. I want so desperately to write something meaningful for all whom God leads to read my work, but the harder I try the worse my problem gets? What should I do?

Answer:

Dear friend,

As believers we all know that it is God who has the final say in the best way to move forward in our lives. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. (Proverbs 9:10, NLT) Thus, coming before Him and asking Him to lead you forward is the best course of action you could take, for He knows what is best. Don’t let Satan dismantle your joy because of a temporary circumstance or set back you are facing. Don’t believe his lies and fall into a pit of despair. No friend, it is time to shift your focus that is presently on you and put your focus on God Almighty.

God loves you and is right there to comfort you, guide you, and grow you. But remember, although He comes alongside you with love, He is Power in every sense of the word. It is all the more reason to be awestruck when you recognize that God, who commands the universe, who determines life and death, longs to comfort you, encourage you and speak to you! Even if what you are experiencing feels bad, it is not punishment. I am sure you know the term, “tough love.” We all need spiritual pruning from time to time to get our priorities realigned with the Lord’s plans and purposes for us.

Be wise, and know when to quit your present striving and seek the Lord. (Ref. Proverbs 23:4 NLT)

In the moment that you feel distressed, lost, confused, deeply disconnected or sad, find your way to pray. Before Him, remind yourself of His promises. Relive the times He stepped in and saved you from circumstances, others, and even yourself. Think on all He has done for you and remain confident in God, the Creator of all things. He created the sun to shine down on the earth to allow for all life and our existence. He will continue to produce new life and direction in your spirit as well as all the earth, as He sees fit.

He has a plan and knows what is best, so let Him be your guide. The only way to be assured you are honoring Him and following Him, is by surrendering your will to the Lord and asking Him to show you the way. Be open to His plan. Trust in Him. Seek His forgiveness for trying to go it alone. Jesus said, “Yes I am the vine you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them will produce much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NLT) Honor Him by acknowledging how great and vast He truly is. Then your personal unraveling, (writer’s) block, or impasse will disappear and a new hope will rise up. If you let Him, he will always lead you into victory and an abundant life filled with the fruits of the Spirit. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT) Amen

Let me know how it goes. I will be praying for you,

MJ

As Christians, our life is about our faith in Jesus Christ and how we choose to cultivate our relationship with God each day. Yet, this can be challenging, especially when Satan takes bits and pieces of our joy away because of the difficulties we face. From temporary set backs to extreme trials he tries to undermine our faith through it all. He tries to convince us of his lies – that we are being punished, or worse, that we need to keep trying to earn grace. He manipulates situations and promotes doubt about the genuine unconditional love God has for us. He wants us to focus inward on our lack and ourselves and distract us from the truth that God is in charge. In an effort to hold us back from reaching out with arms open wide to receive our Lord and Creator, like a tree with its extended branches welcoming the sun, he tries to cut us down, shift our focus, and deceive by telling us that our struggles are too big for anyone or anything to fix. Thankfully, we know better because we know who our God is!

However, there is another challenge that comes from another source entirely. I comes from the Lord Himself, when He needs to reshape us and redirect our spiritual growth and direction.

We all want to believe that what we do pleases God and we find great joy by doing things in His name. We hope it will allow for a happier life; one with less strife. However, we know we are not promised a life without challenges. Instead, we are promised that God is with us every step of the way and that He has a specific plan and purpose for our life. We acknowledge that God loves us and longs to comfort us. Out of love, He disciplines (not punishes) us, and works to grow us in ways we never thought possible. It is up to us to reject the voice of doubt and discouragement that Satan throws at us, and ask for prayer which fortifies us. We can trust in the Lord and choose to remain confident that God shines upon us, like the sun, so that we grow in His radiance. If He chooses, He will generate new life in us no matter the season. If we submit to His will, we allow God to decide: how He wants us to grow, when it is time for growth, when to store us up for periods of drought or hibernation, as well as determine the precise time to produce a glorious spiritual harvest in us. Remember, God’s word is settled in heaven and we live by the power of God (Ref. Psalms 68).

So the question remains, how can we be sure we are honoring the Lord with our daily decisions and actions? How can we be assured we are accomplishing His will for us at all times, thereby reaping the greatest spiritual harvest possible? My answer may seem simple, but I have found it profoundly true yet easily dismissed. It is the sacrifice of our time alone, our connection with God that brings forth spiritual growth, protection, and direction, our true path and purpose, and the greatest blessings. Making the sacrifice of time alone with God a priority does dramatically more for us than any action we take on our own, no matter how well intentioned it may be.

We can be prayer warriors for others, writers trying to share His grace on paper, we can be responders to the needs of the church, or serving Him by sharing His love with non-believers, etc. This is all well and good, but if the action we take isn’t God inspired, the true and distinguished path He designed for our life, we run the risk of eventually drying up or dying out and all our striving becomes wasted time, in essence, meaningless. This is when the Lord moves in to redirect our priorities and our actions by helping us realize how much we need Him above all else. Remember, He is the vine and we are the branches (ref. John 15:5) Apart from Him we can do nothing of value for His kingdom and His purposes. It is there we find ourselves in need of spiritual pruning.

I don’t know how a tree feels about being pruned, but for me personally, it never feels good being pruned, especially when I have spent a lot of time and effort, sacrificing much and thinking I am doing the right thing only to find out that I need to quit and redirect my efforts or completely start over! However, after a lifetime of experiencing significant spiritual pruning, to the point that I am not sure who I started out as, I am grateful for the dramatic cuts that promoted a new direction and a new hope that it no longer matters who I was before. I am grateful for who I am becoming; who God is forming me to be.

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV

One of the greatest risk we run as Christians is to forget to value growing our own personal relationship with God above all else. We get so busy answering the needs of others that we forget our own needs. Like anything in creation, we need constant connection with the life force and its elements to ensure our growth and survival. The healthiest trees give the best shade and fruit for the harvest.

How do you respond when your faith doesn’t help you to produce good fruit? What do you do when every action you take, in His name, leads to a dead end or wears you out? What do you do when you feel like you’re in a spiritual winter and nothing is happening? Or where do you turn when you are suffering through the heat of personal conflicts or failed relationships with no relief in sight? How do you respond when there are no answers for the “whys?” and “what ifs?” that come when mourning the loss of a loved one? Do you become angry and abandon your faith? Do you isolate yourself from the world? Do you complain, panic, give up, or allow stress to consume you and sleepless nights to drain you? Or, do you get on your knees and surrender your will over to God and seek His comfort and His grace and direction?

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:6 NLT)

If you can’t tell by now, I enjoy nature and relating myself to it. I especially love gardening. There is something about cultivating new life that I find incredibly rewarding. I work hard in spring and summer to give each plant every opportunity for a fruitful life. I used to believe that each of the four seasons generated a distinct response from nature, but I have noticed that life never stops pushing forward regardless of the time of year. Depending on the amount of sunshine, moisture and the plant itself, the order of seasons and plant life cycles can have their exceptions. For example, I have an arugula plant in my garden that grow underneath the snow and ice. I could make a salad of it in mid winter if I wanted to. Then, there are the bushes that form a hedge in my yard that contradict spring. Up until late June they look dried up and dead with no indication that life will ever spring forth. So much so, that I seriously considered pulling them out by their roots during our first spring in our home. Instead of bothering with the hard work of removing them, I left them alone. Late that season, nearly mid summer, buds began to form, and compacted, curled leaves pushed their way through the bark, eventually exploding onto each branch. The violet blooms were huge and gorgeous through late fall. In all, I till the soil, water the garden, and I prune the dead parts. I wait, watch over it and trust in its growth.

What I am trying to say is that I do my part while I trust God to inspire growth.

How do you prepare your spiritual self for God’s harvest in your own life? Do you accept every season of life with grace, patience and peace? Do you accept the times of growth, harvest, and prepare yourself for times for times of storing up and waiting for God to grow you once again in His timing? Are your current efforts to do good, that once flourished, now dying off and you don’t know what more to do to change that? Fear not, but trust in Him, for God has the final say in which of your branches will produce a healthy harvest and which ones need to be pruned or removed all together. Your role is to trust in God, the Master Gardener of your life, and listen to His voice for direction and His voice only!

Regardless of season, if you are going through pruning, please recognize it for what it is. It isn’t punishment or the enemy allowing for it. God has the final say and it is He who allows it. It is redirection of growth as your Creator sees fit. It is what is best for you to ultimately grow and flourish where He has planted you. Believe it is done in sincere love for you and in your best interest. Trust Him for the outcome.

It is time to pray, just you alone with God. Find your place and space of quiet, calm, peace. With arms folded, or stretched out, or whatever works best for you. Welcome God’s glorious life giving presence upon you. Speak from your heart, tell Him how grateful you are that He is your God. Praise him, and cry out your troubles. This is your time to realign your spirit with God’s. When silence prevails, and peace is restored, listen to what He has to say to you. It may come like a whisper, but the message will be loud and clear, for God wants you on the best path possible for your life. Act in great hope on that message, even if that means to stop everything and rest. Act as God directs and you will see that your harvest will be more plentiful than you can possibly imagine.

That is how it works best for me and countless others. Try it. If you do, let me know how it works for you. And, please know that I am praying for you.

In Him, I pray! Amen

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