Pressure Cookin’?

Sunday morning my pastor gave an analogy of this world being much like a pressure cooker and you know me…my brain was like, “Oooh, that’d be a cool drawing!” He also gave us Deuteronomy 8:1-20 and encouraged us to read it this week. As I read through those twenty verses, I couldn’t help but picture so many mamas and women I know…maybe not personally, but through social media or work that often times feel “pressurized”. They are living under the constant pressure of the demands that this world has on us…family, work, friends, church, and the list could go on for an eternity. I see it in their Facebook posts and Instagram stories…and believe it or not, my heart hurts for them.

Maybe you’re that woman. The one that is about to explode. The one that is a ticking, time-bomb of emotions. I can remember my grandmother (my dad’s mom) cooking with a pressure cooker when I was younger. Her pinto beans from that gigantic pot were heavenly…some of the best I’ve ever eaten! Pair it with her cornbread and you might just think you’ve entered the pearly gates…but I can hear her now saying, “Don’t get too close because that pot can blow up!”…especially if you don’t know what you are doing when it comes to cooking with one. Well, in life…we don’t really know what we are doing, now do we? We pretend…we try and keep up with those around us and compare our lives to everyone else’s, only to most days feel like what comes off our stove isn’t worth eating. We rely too much on our own ability and that ends up blowing up in our face. We are constantly stirring and shaking our pots, when God is saying, “Simmer down, I got this.”

In Deuteronomy 8, Moses is reminding the Israelites of all that God had done for them. I especially love verses 7-9…”For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams of water, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills, a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without shortage, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper.”

You might feel like you are in the pressure cooker right now…about to bust, but I know one thing is for sure, God will release the steam! Just allow Him to soak into your being and you will feel the pressure quickly leave! You can’t do it alone…remember how you got to where you are….it wasn’t on your own doing, but by your Heavenly Father. He has a purpose for you…and it isn’t living under constant pressure from the world! The answer to your problems aren’t found in this world, but in His Word! That’s where the pressure is released and you can take off the lid to your problems in prayer and trust that he will lead you out of your own wilderness.

Trust Him tonight. He can speak peace over the pressure and remove you from the burner that is this ever-changing world. The Lord hasn’t changed since Moses’ day…He’ll do the same for you tonight as He did in the desert for His people many years ago.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

In my Journaling Bible, the heading above Chapter 4 says, “A Life Pleasing to God”. As I was reading the first 12 verses, it talks about sexual purity, loving each other, living in peace, minding your own business and making an impact on the world (lost people).

As I was reading, some of the things that Paul wrote about are easy as a Christian to do, but then there are other things that may be a little harder. However, as I was meditating over the verses and thinking about discussions we’ve had at church, my spirit was drawn to remember a life pleasing to God is filled with one thing…

FAITH.

If we want to please God, it isn’t about checking off a list of things to do or not to do, it’s about trusting Him with every aspect of our lives. When we walk in faith everything else falls into place and are hearts are centered around honoring Him. Faith is putting what we believe into action and walking (sometimes blindly) because we know that God doesn’t call us into an area or place that He has not already equipped us to enter!

I have faith because I have seen God do the impossible in my life and there is no other explanation except God. I have faith in God because I believe everything in the Bible from Genesis to maps. I have faith because I have the utmost confidence that God is bigger than me and I am incapable of anything on my own…it is by His power that I am able to do anything on this of eternity.

A life pleasing to God is about honoring Him above everything else…and that comes with the blessed assurance that as long as I am seeking Him daily and trusting Him every minute, my eternity is secure! Faith will not just save you. It will protect you, provide for you, defend and empower you.

FAITH. That’s all it takes to life a life pleasing to God. The hardest part is taking that first step…but I promise you won’t regret it. Faith will cause you to bloom when then world is withering away…now, that’s pleases me!

The yoke of sin

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

If you are caught up in sin, Satan is your taskmaster. You are his servant. Break the yoke of sin through Christ Jesus. There is freedom there. Don’t let Satan continue to control you, friend.

This world and it’s master (Satan) will have you so caught up in chains, yoked in bondage and burdened down that you lose your identity. Remember that your identity is found in who God says you are! Satan wants you tied up to your failures and sin, so he can’t use them against you…Christ wants to forgive you and allow you to use them for His glory. He can take the mess you are in and make it a message!

You can be free.

Psalm Pillow Talk

I was reading in Psalm 149 tonight and I absolutely love verse 5! It says:

“Let the godly exalt in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.”

I got this image in my head of just jumping on my bed praising God for how marvelous He is to me! Now, I can’t literally jump on my bed, cause my bed might not hold all of me, but I can get it drawn to remind me that we have so much to praise God for that we could praise Him 24/7 and it still wouldn’t be enough!

I know it’s not easy to praise God after you have been crying into your pillow, but when we praise Him in the moments when our spirit is weak and we feel like we don’t have a song to sing, we see a shift in our mood and our heart is tuned to our blessings and not our burdens! Sometimes we have to sing a new song to the Lord (verse 1) because we gain a fresh awareness of His mercy, grace and love when we choose to praise Him in our pain!

Jumping on the bed as a kid always felt so freeing and made me feel light as a feather when you fell down on the soft pillows and sink into the mattress. Well, good news is we can get that same feeling by praising the Lord! You are free, the weight of your problems are cast upon His shoulders and you can sink into your pillow and fall asleep under the cover of His wings!

Be a Unicorn

Sunday mornings sermon from Psalm 92 caught my attention at verse 10. I am always looking for a way to illustrate The Word so I can better apply it to my life. Well, in verse 10, David talks about a unicorn. Now, let me say that some translations say wild ox…but for my mental image, I went with unicorn. It’s much more fun to draw unicorns than an ox, anyways. I went home and did some research on unicorns in the Bible and still can’t conclude if the rainbow-haired, majestic beauty that we see on everything from t-shirts to cartoons is what once roamed the earth with the likes of dinosaurs and dodo birds. Maybe they were talking about a rhinoceros…I don’t really know and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. However, for this verse a unicorn seems to fit the scenario or the application I took from reading and studying, so just humor me. 😂

But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.” (KJV)

Now, if you remember back to when David was anointed by Samuel with the horn of oil, it was symbolic or representative of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon David to be all that God proclaimed he would be. Now, a horn represents strength in an animal and in the context of David’s writing it is the exalting of the Lord’s power! We are not perishing, but triumphing over the enemy through Jesus Christ our Savior and the power of the Holy Spirit which lives within us. That power makes us unique…like that rainbow-haired creature with its sparkling horn that stands out against all the other “horses in the field.” They always are pictured with their heads up and their horn pointing toward the sky! That’s how we should be as faithful believers in The Word of God…heads up and looking to The Lord!

We should walk with spunk and remember where our spiritual power is initiated. We are exalted and anointed above the world…so we must walk with a different step and look a little out of place among the world around us. Now, that shouldn’t make us arrogant or prideful, but should humble us to always be seeking fresh oil to accomplish God’s will for our lives. When David was anointed with oil, he became a different man…unique…the only man “after God’s own heart. I know we haven’t ever seen a living, breathing unicorn…and I can’t for certain say they ever existed, but I know they serve as a good example to live a life uniquely devoted to the anointing that was placed over our heads when we accepted Jesus as our Savior!

I seen a shirt once that said, “ALWAYS BE YOURSELF, unless you can be a Unicorn…then ALWAYS be a UNICORN. Now, let’s apply that to Biblical living…I believe we should ALWAYS live in our anointing! Sometimes it requires fresh oil as we enter new seasons in our lives, but God is there to exalt our horn and lift it up…strengthening us for the journey! We are being watching closely, friend. So, like the t-shirt said, always be a unicorn. 😉

Security

There’s “top knotch” security in Psalm 91, friend.

Walk in it today, tomorrow and every day. Let each work soak into your heart as you read it below and be reminded that you are covered, protected, guarded, rescued and most importantly, loved by and Almighty God. I don’t need to say anything else.

Psalm 91

1Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5

This blog post is weighing heavy on me. Why? Probably because I know that it will step on some toes, but when God convicts me of something, I like to share it. Now, don’t read me wrong, I’m not saying just because God is teaching me, that maybe He will prick your heart, too…but I believe that we can learn from each other. I see a lot of “self love” happening in the world and I find myself having to consciously tell myself, “my life is not about me”, because it’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves.

As you continue to read, don’t think I am crazy…well, if you read this blog, you probably already do, but that’s another topic for another day 🤪😂. Writing helps me and when my thoughts are on paper (or a computer screen) I can go back to see how I have grown. This is sort of my journal at times, which is good for me, but maybe not for you if you are following along. Okay, where was I?

Oh yeah…

I was watching an Instagram story yesterday of a lady that shares clothing, her home and endorses products for different companies as a way to support her family…not sure how I found her, but I did and I was intrigued…maybe I follow her, I dunno. Well, she was talking about the conviction of taking a break from all her Instagram pictures and stories because she felt like it wasn’t the direction God wanted for her life. She said she felt like she was asking people to buy things and sharing out of what felt like necessity…her family, products, staged photos of her home and other things. She has been taking a “break” since September and I caught her “comeback” video explaining this decision. She said she has been really struggling on what to do and how the direction of her page will go in the future. As I was listening, I cried with her, because I have been struggling with this area of my life…especially when it comes to my business. I feel like to stay competitive and keep up with other businesses like mine, I needed to be doing Facebook live videos, Instagram stories and sharing my life more. I know it sounds silly, but it’s like I want to be that person…but that’s not who I am. I really try to remove “Me” from the equation and insert God in most instances…and I feel like sitting in front of my phone recording videos is not removing “Me”.

On Sunday morning, one of the pastor’s scripture references came from 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

Yup. Insert my toe stompin’ and revelation…

I felt like God was speaking to my heart in this area that I struggle with (almost daily), because I am the face of my business and I want to be successful. I know it seems silly, but when you are self-employed, if you don’t work, you don’t make money. There is no vacation pay. I don’t worry about money, per se, but I do worry about the sustainment of my business over time and keeping things fresh, new and getting people in the door. However, as I have really thought about it since writing the verses down on Sunday morning…I feel like God said to me:

“Don’t fall into the trap of being a celebrity in your own world. I will make sure you can do what you love and bless your business as long as you remember where the blessing originated. It didn’t start with you, Ashlee. It started with Me. A daily Facebook video or Instagram story isn’t going to grow your business or sustain it…I will take care of it and you. Don’t put the focus on self, put it on Me. Dont focus on the extra money you could make, shift your focus to how you can bless others with what you have been given and you will never be broke! Don’t get proud. Don’t think that you are the best and get caught up boasting about what you are doing, but keep being “you” and give Me the glory for how far you have come. Just as it didn’t start with you, it doesn’t end with you either. When I am ready for you to change directions…you will know. Keep pressing forward and don’t deny the power of God to anyone…in doing so, instead of people turning away, they will flock to you, because they see Me. This world craves love, and I am the originator of love. Don’t focus on anything but giving people the best of you each day and I will take care of the rest. Don’t worry about success…you are blessed.”

We are called to be different from this world. Now, let me reiterate…if you do live videos on social media or have a bunch of selfies on your profile, I am not saying you are doomed to hell or anything remotely close. I just feel like we get so caught up in trying to be everything to everyone else that we forget who is The Source of everything! We spend so much time talking about ourselves and everything else, then God gets the leftover time in our day/week. I really felt like God gave me direction on why it’s not for me and to stop feeling pressured to do something that I don’t feel comfortable doing just to “keep up”. If you have struggled with dying to yourself and the love of this world, just remember that it’s who we are…we are born loving ourselves. As a child of God, we must enthrone Him…when doing so, “self” is dethroned and the other characteristics Timothy mentioned at the beginning of Chapter 3 cannot be initiated. Those traits have the opportunity to grow when we cultivate a spirit of self, but wither and die when we are sowing the Spirit of the Lord! God doesn’t want you to keep up, but keep pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ! (Phil 3:14)