Preparation and Training

Some of us set goals, accomplish them, and seem to slay life’s challenges with little effort. Often times, this success comes down to preparation. In one way or another we have been trained to prepare in ways that equip us to handle a specific set of challenges. Think about things like CPR, how to change a tire, or cooking your famous recipe. What are you prepared for? What have you planned for? And, what happens when you’re not prepared?

There is significant purpose in each process of preparation God takes us through. We must be faithful to the things and experiences God places in between us and our goals, our desires and calling. The life of David is a great example of this! He was anointed to be king of Israel but, what stood between him and his calling? Sheep. David wasn’t groomed to be a king but rather a shepherd. He couldn’t have walked into a palace and perfectly reigned – at least not with the heart God desired of him – not yet. David had to remain faithful in tending his father’s sheep until his time of preparation was complete. It is believed that David wrote Psalm 23 in his adolescence, can you imagine God downloading that type of wisdom at such a young age?! It was all a part of his divine preparation. God gave David the training and experience he needed to reign and rule a kingdom in a field of sheep!

I can say that I’ve gone through most of my life unprepared to accomplish what I desired but with a heart willing to learn along the way. Sometimes it’s okay to take a step back and say, ”God, I don’t want to mess this up, please prepare me for the next season and I’m okay with whatever it looks like.Your will be done.” While that can be a scary prayer because God’s preparation is usually unconventional, His promotions sometimes look like terminations and blessings often come on the other side of a challenge. Stay the course and hold on to His promises, they don’t expire! With God, the preparation always has value and the struggle gives us strength. God is always good!

Be blessed and know that all of heaven is cheering for you!

 

Because He’s Worthy

Lisa Santelli, GFC Lutz

Worthy. It’s a word that carries distinction. Beauty. Set apart. A word I’ve reserved only for God, but lately, I’ve seen so many wearing it proudly on their shirts or engraved in jewelry. How can that be? If God IS worthy, how can this word be used to describe others, as well? That’s the question I’ve been wrestling with lately.

Per Webster’s 1828 dictionary, worthy is defined as: to be exalted; deserving; having worth or excellence. All characteristics of God. There is no other to be exalted or lifted up than the one and only true God. Again, I ask, how can I use a word like worthy to describe myself?

On a recent trip, I came across a hat with the word “worthy” on it.  Already in the worthy-wrestle, I walked right by thinking, “I can’t wear that!” But the Holy Spirit had a different tone and nudged me to buy the hat. For the first part of the trip, the hat stayed packaged up neatly, tags attached, you know, just in case I decided to return it. Then, towards the end of the trip, I woke up to some tough news. News that I would have to shake off for the time being and I knew it would take every effort of relying on God to carry me through those next few days.  So, that morning, I grabbed the hat, tore off the tags, and tugged it on my head. In that moment of feeling such defeat, God crowned me with grace-laced strength, and a new definition of worthy formed.

Colossians 1:10 says, So that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him; bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, so that you may have greater endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints inheritances in the light.

When we are walking with the Lord, we are in step with Him. Our worthiness comes through the righteousness of God. Through our repentance and acceptance that Jesus is Lord and Savior of the world, we are made worthy. It doesn’t demand perfection. It doesn’t hold on to `past mistakes. It doesn’t measure how many good works we perform. We are made worthy through our heart’s surrender.

We are worthy:
– To be loved. (Psalm 36:7)
– To be valued. (Proverbs 3:15)
– To be protected. (Psalm 91:4)
– To be provided. (Matthew 6:26)
– To be redeemed. (John 8:36)

Beloved friend, you are worthy. No matter what hardship you are facing, any lie you have been told, or mistake you made. Through Jesus, you are made worthy. We are not to be exalted, but we are worthy to receive every ounce of grace, love, strength and provision that God shines on us. So, straighten that crown, or in my case, hat, and walk worthy knowing the Lord delights in you.

 

Are You Ready?

Alexa Zerrate, GFC South Tampa

A few weeks ago I was invited to be a part of a Bible Study and would be going to the house of a woman I had never met before. In the pictures and all over her house, it seemed as if her life was perfect. 

Before leaving, I took the time to chat with her for a bit and thanked her for allowing me to enter her home. I complimented her on the pictures on the wall and on her child’s drawings. She shared more pictures with me, until I asked “who is that?”… Her tears started to fall down her cheeks and suddenly she opened her heart to share one of her biggest struggles and one of the things that is currently making her feel helpless.

In that moment, I knew I had been called to that house for another reason. God had a divine appointment. She needed a sister in Christ who would lift her up, encourage her to continue running her race, to lift her arms in worship, and to pray with her.

In Galatians 6:2 it says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 it says “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

When I left her house, all I could think about was, “What if I was so caught up in my life that I didn’t take the time to listen to her? What if I was not in God’s word every day learning more about Jesus? Would I have been ready for this moment? Would I have been able to be the person to lift her up and pray for her?”

Today, I encourage you to take that step of faith when God places you in the right place at the right time. We don’t have to know it all or be perfect. We just need to love Jesus, spend time with Him, and read His word. Let’s equip ourselves so when preparation meets opportunity, We. Are. Ready!

Action –> Promises

Lisa Tobias, GFC South Tampa

Have you ever struggled with doubts about your calling? Or, have you struggled to believe that your unique gifts can help build God’s Kingdom? I must confess that I definitely have.

When my husband experienced a pretty dramatic career change from personal trainer to pastor, doubt started to creep into my head. I asked myself, “Do I need to make a career change, too? Is what I do as a Pilates instructor important enough?” Fast forward a few years later when I had to close my Pilates studio, the doubting and questioning came rushing back in again.

I went to God with my doubts and questions.

In Matthew 7:7 it says, “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the doors shall be open.”

Ask. Seek. Knock. 

Those are three action words that let us know there is something we can actively do or initiate that will bring us the answers, direction, and opportunities that we are seeking.

Take notice that each action word has an accompanied promise, from God:

Shall Receive, Will Find, and Shall be open.

Knowing those promises were available to me, I began to ASK God through prayer and fasting, and in faith, that He would reveal and confirm my calling and gifts.  It is God’s will that we know what His calling is for us. He wants us to know! Our part is to ask and pray, in faith and with expectation, that He will show us.

I created more space to SEEK God. Diligently seek HIM and His word. I went into a deep dive study on the subjects of calling and gifts, soaking up podcasts, audiobooks, and online studies from gifted pastors and authors.  It was like a treasure hunt, finding clues along the way! God is so faithful to reveal special insights and understanding of scripture through this process. And, He is faithful to show us glimpses of His will for our life when we seek Him.

I was also willing to KNOCK on different doors. Willing to explore other opportunities, learn a new skill set, try a different position at work, serve someplace new in the church. Through it all I constantly prayed for God to close the doors that weren’t going to fulfill His purpose for me. Many of those doors slammed shut, some slowly closed. During this journey God was slowly lighting my path, showing glimpses of a new vision/future, and confirming my gifts and my calling.

Friends, I can finally write about this with complete freedom and confidence knowing what my unique gifts and calling are and how I can use them to benefit God’s Kingdom.

If you are in a place of doubt, I encourage you to continue to seek Him, praise Him, and press on in faith. He will come through on His promises!