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  • Kingdom Decision-making: My first lessons as a momma-to-be

    (photo courtesy: http://kmlv.org)

    by  Emily Rose Massey


    With a theatre and dance degree in my back pocket, trying my best to ignore the questions from fellow classmates, I had just recently chose to not move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. God was moving in my life in a mighty way, and I was learning to truly listen to Him for the first time in my life. Although I had become born-again when I was 16, I never fully surrendered my entire life to the Lord; it was a long six years of tug-of-war for it. Thankfully, after college loosened its grip around my focus, my eyes had been opened to my selfishness, and I was back on the right path into the arms of the Father and His will for me.

    I sat there on my bed, Bible cracked open, listening to my new favorite Bible teacher, and trusting that my days of unemployment were soon ending. It had been almost nine months since graduating college, and I still had no prospects of a job, let alone any direction as to what I was supposed to do for a living.

    After the teaching had ended, I remember hearing the announcer list the details of where their ministry was located. I had no idea that this very influential, world-wide ministry was a mere 45 minute drive from where I lived! Suddenly, a desire rose in my heart that would stay with me for the next four years.

    “Lord, I don’t know if you would ever use me in ministry because of the past that I have lived, but if I become a serious student of your Word and learn to walk faithfully with you, I would love to someday work for this ministry,” I prayed.

    Of course the enemy then gave me a long laundry-list of all the reasons that I would never be good enough to work in full-time ministry:

    • In an adulterous relationship with a married man at age 18
    • Lost virginity at 19 to someone who you were not married to
    • Had well over 10 sexual partners throughout college
    • Future alcoholic
    • Liar
    • Cheat
    • Full of pride…

    “Shut up, devil!”

    Although the enemy’s laundry-list was factual, the truth was that I was a new creation in Christ Jesus and God was not done with me yet!

    For the next four years, I would under-go what I like to call my “process on the Potter’s wheel.” Like a potter prepares the clay to become a vessel to be used, I learned how to yield myself to God the Potter’s hands. It was painful and extremely uncomfortable, but looking back, it was so worth it, and still is, because I know God will never be done working on my heart. I, by no means, have arrived as a Christian.

    But I have arrived as an employee of that world-wide ministry!

    God heard the cry as I sat on my bed that morning during my unemployment days and all of the other prayers that I declared in the season where He sharpened me while working in a medical office for four long years. He divinely positioned me in the ministry that had impacted my faith-walk, especially when I was taking my first baby steps as an obedient Christ-follower.

    And after only a little over a year here, He has asked me to lay it down to take on another role in His Kingdom…

    …a mother.

    I could begin to ask why He would give me a desire of my heart (and His heart) that I had believed to happen for so long, and then so quickly ask me to end the season.

    But I know that the Bible tells us that “Obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22).

    I know that I am not the only woman who has faced making the decision between their career and motherhood. I also know that not every woman’s situation is like mine. Ultimately, you need to be obedient to what the Lord is calling YOU to do.

    Yes, leaving a job that you worked so hard to obtain may feel like sacrifice, but that isn’t what God is after.

    He’s after your will being in-line with His. He’s after you seeking first His Kingdom and all of His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

    When weighing options regarding big decisions, there is a level of trusting God, even when things don’t make a lot of sense to our human minds. We are not to lean upon on our own understanding, according to Proverbs 3:5.

    In regards to not returning to work after the birth of our little boy, I needed to lean on God’s wisdom. I also needed to ultimately be lead with peace and not make the decision based upon what was logical or definitely not make the decision out of fear.

    2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind” (NKJV).

    My husband and I spent a lot of time in prayer about the decision that was before us and clearly heard the Lord tell us that He wanted me to stay at home and raise our son. Despite our unanswered questions, immediately, we were surrounded by God’s peace as well as His joy, which is our constant strength.

    We still understand that this next season will involve a lot of trust, but God has always proved Himself faithful time and time again. He hears our prayers, no matter how big or how small.

    All He asks is that we not only trust Him, but obey His Kingdom ways.

    As a mom-to-be, I am looking forward to instilling this lesson into my son and passing on these Kingdom lessons to a new generation.

    Whatever decisions you are faced with right now, know that God will give you direction. Even if you have to lay down a desire He gave you in the first place, and transition to another Kingdom assignment, you will never be disappointed when you know that you are exactly in the middle of His will for you.

     

     

  • Unity of Believing AND Doing

    by  Emily Rose Massey


    (photo curtesy of http://www.catholicismusa.com)

    Several months ago, I completed a spiritual gifts assessment through LifeWay Christian Resources. My top gift was the gift of Faith (I scored a 100% on all the statements regarding Faith).

    Definition of the Gift of Faith via Spritualgiftstest.com:

    "The gift of faith is rooted in one’s saving faith in Christ and the trust that comes through a close relationship with the Savior.  Those with this gift have a trust and confidence in God that allows them to live boldly for Him and manifest that faith in mighty ways."

    I wasn’t totally surprised by this, as many people have made mention of how strong my faith is, especially during difficult seasons that many may be crushed by.

    I’ve experienced God’s faithfulness in so many ways- blessings with divine appointments/opportunities, financial wisdom, and amazingly divine provision…can someone say “checks in the mail unexpectedly?!"- yes, manna does still fall from the sky, my friends!) that my only response is to believe Him.

    Pretty simple.

    But I sense that many believers don’t truly take the time to believe God- to trust Him at His Word.

    Instead of waiting on His direction, they take matters into their own hands and rely on their own strength, abilities, and intellect, especially in the area of decision-making and moving into new seasons or in new directions.

    I’ve been guilty of this, especially as a goal-oriented and driven person.

    My persistence has helped me achieve many of my goals, but there have also been times where my pushing persistence has pushed me right off of the path of God’s best for me.

    All of a sudden, I found myself out of the perfect will of God very quickly all because I didn’t take the time to inquire of the Lord before I took a step towards what I called "the desires of my heart."

    Let's look at the life of King David...

    Any time David faced a situation where he had a decision to make, he sought out the counsel of God.

    He was totally capable (the Bible calls him an anointed king) of making the decisions on his own regarding war strategies and ruling his kingdom and moving out on those decisions. He was a very skilled warrior and a mighty leader and king over Israel, yet he still relied on the Lord’s direction before he ever made a move.

    Here are two passages in the Bible that David inquired of the Lord regarding the same situation:

    1 Samuel 23:1-3“Then they told David, ‘Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and they are robbing the threshing floors.’” The Philistines had besieged Keilah, a fortified city within Judah’s borders (Josh. 15:21,44). “Therefore David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’” As anointed king, David considered himself Israel’s protector. The apostate King Saul had neglected the public safety, but David loved his country and desired to free it from its enemies. Yet he would not act without first seeking the Lord’s counsel. Though he was busy hiding from Saul, he thought of Keilah’s welfare.

    And the LORD said to David, ‘Go and attack the Philistines, and save Keilah.’” The Lord responded immediately to David’s inquiry, and promised that David would save Keilah. But David’s 600 men said to him, “We are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” This presented a real problem to David: If his men were unwilling to follow him, how could he save the besieged city? His men were afraid of being caught between the Philistines and Saul’s army. Unlike David their eyes were not on God, but on their difficult circumstances.

    1 Samuel 23:4-5Then David inquired of the LORD once again.” David was not paralyzed by the fear of his men. He knew that God, who had said fight the Philistines and save Keilah, could easily make his men willing to follow him. David did not rebuke his warriors, but he turned once more to Jehovah. “And the LORD answered and said, ‘Arise, go down to Keilah. For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.’” The Lord did not ignore David’s second inquiry. He not only responded to David’s request, but gave an answer which was even more explicit than the first. Motivated by God’s divine promise, David and his followers conquered the Philistines, saved Keilah and took their cattle for much-needed food.”

    Now, by all means, I do not imply that we are not to lift a finger and just wait for God to do all the work- that would be sheer laziness! He's given us the gifts, abilities, and brains to accomplish His will in the earth, so I know He wants us to use them for His glory!

    But I am implying that we should include God in our “game-plan,” like King David did.

    There is a reason the Bible calls David “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). David longed to be in the will of God at all times.

    So what does all of this have to do with the gift of faith?

    Well, I’m so glad you asked! :)

    You've heard "Faith without works is dead." This comes from the book of James in the Bible. 

    I LOVE how the Message translation reads...

    James 2:24-26 The Message (MSG)

    21-24 Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?

    25-26 The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse."

    People like David, Abraham, and Rahab (and me) who have been given a strong gift of faith (the gift to have trust and confidence in God that allows them to live boldly for Him and manifest that faith in mighty ways) should never be looked at as lazy for simply believing and trusting that God will give us direction, provision, or divine intervention before we move.

    Those with the gift of faith don’t like to “kick down doors,” but aren’t afraid to persistently knock or wait for another door to open (if the Lord gives them instruction to).

    Believing for God to provide or make a way is a strong foundation for my prayers regarding decision-making or new seasons/directions and the fuel to wait for His instruction or answer. Once He answers (whether with specific guidance, divine appointments/opportunities, finances, provision, etc), I know, like David, to DO all that I can in the abilities, anointing, talent, finances, intelligence, etc that God has given me.

    Don't assume those who are believing God to come on the scene to help aren't willing to do the work along side of Him.

    I do the possible, and trust that God will be working behind the scenes doing the impossible.

    "That seamless unity of believing and doing.." 

  • Watch Your Mouth!

    by  Emily Rose Massey


    My mind has been focused on basic faith principles and watching my words a lot lately. Paul and I are standing and believing for a lot right now and the enemy wants nothing more than for me to fall into doubt and unbelief.

    Can I get honest?

    I was finding myself speaking against God’s promises- and I seriously don’t mean to because I don’t want to curse what God has blessed.

    Mark 11 tells us that we can have whatsoever we say. We can speak to our mountain and tell it to be removed and cast into the sea. If we believe in our hearts and do not doubt, it will be so.

    I truly believe that with all of my heart.

    But sometimes, my head doesn’t want to buy into it.

    My constant struggle with this usually involves money. Most of the time, my head is trying to calculate how we could possibly afford certain financial decisions or be provided for important necessities (even though I constantly declare the Lord as our Provider).

    And after listening to a faith teaching by Kenneth E. Hagin, “The Father of the Word of Faith Movement,” he said that is ok.

    This dichotomy starts to become a problem when we allow our thoughts to turn into words that come out of our mouth.

    “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” –Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

    …my husband would be so proud that I quoted Proverbs… :)

    We MUST keep watch over our words. Our lives, our circumstances, our finances, our relationships depend on it.

    We are either speaking life into our existence here on earth or we are causing our situations to die or self-destruct.

    SPEAK LIFE!

  • Simplify Your Faith Walk!

    by Emily Rose Massey


    Monday marked six years ago that I started my journey back to the Father’s arms after being a rebellious, prodigal daughter for several years- choosing to live in painful disobedience instead of what I knew deep down in my heart was right.

    Like my book, The Vessel, describes, my journey was definitely a process, as I slowly released my will and surrendered to the Hands of the Potter, allowing Him to mold my heart and life into what seemed best to Him.

    Over the course of these last six years, I have definitely felt the ebb and flow, the mountains and valleys, of the Christian walk. I’ve over-complicated it with self-righteousness, over-analyzed teachings of the Word of God, and even relied on my performance and works (of which I can thank my performance-driven/approval seeking old mentality and religious up-bringing for that), instead of Jesus’ work on the Cross.

    It wasn’t until recently, I’d say within the last year and half, that I learned to get back to the basics of Christianity (of which I first heard about at an altar-call when I was 16 at a youth conference) - The Love of God shown through the Cross and the Bloody sacrifice of Jesus, a John 3:16 understanding of the gospel.

    Because I’ve truly embraced that simple, yet powerful truth, I have been able to have a relationship my Heavenly Father unlike anything I ever thought was possible. I struggled with my view of God because of my weak and broken relationship with my earthly father and because religion highlighted the angry, Old Testament God more than His loving and patient character and the promises of the new covenant.

    And it is those promises that I cling to (although I embrace the promises found in the Old Testament as well) that keep me walking. It is the Cross that is at the very core of the gospel message that keeps me believing in God’s goodness, faithfulness, and overwhelming love.

    There is such a peace (and many other fruit of the Spirit) that comes when you rest in the shadow of the Cross and in what Jesus has done for you and I. It is so simple to grasp, yet so profound.

    There are also so many amazing topics that you can study in the Word of God that will take you deeper in your Christian journey, and I encourage you dig and keep on digging.

    But I don’t want you to lose sight of the basics, the foundation for which our Christianity is built upon- abiding in Christ and all that He has done for us.

    If you keep your eyes on Jesus and His sacrifice, all other difficulties that you may face in this life won’t be able to shake you because of your security, provision, and abundance found only in abiding in Jesus, the Vine.

     That’s why John 15 is probably one of my favorite passages in the gospels:

    “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

    “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will[b] ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

    “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

    11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.17 These things I command you, that you love one another” (NKJV).

    Abiding is what empowers us to be fruitful and loving Christians. And like Jesus explains in chapter 13 of John (vs 35), the world will know that we are Jesus’ followers when we love one another.

    The love that was shown to us through the Cross is the love that we then pour out to others. That love is what will set us apart and brings more people into their destined relationship with their Creator and Father.

    So if you are finding yourself becoming overwhelmed on your journey of faith, which is described as a race (a marathon, not a sprint) in Hebrews 12, maybe it’s time to simplify and bring it back to the basics so that you will have the endurance to walk on and at times, run full-speed ahead.

    Our faith-walk as Christians is not an easy one, and is called a fight for a reason (1 Timothy 6:12), but it is a rewarding one- not only here on earth, but in the Age to come!

    Keep calm (with your eyes fixed on the Cross), and walk on!

  • Unconnect/Reconnect

    by Emily Rose Massey


    “Good morning, sweetheart,” I hear my wonderful husband whisper to me as my eyes struggle to open. I grab my cell phone and begin to scroll through my notifications from the night before.

    “I love you.”

    “I love you too,” I mumble as I continue to fix my attention on my cell phone, an inanimate object that didn’t hold me as I fell asleep last night, instead of this sweet man that is standing in front of me that God has given to me. My husband lovingly snatched my cellphone from my hand and looked at me straight in the eyes, longing for me to share a moment with him before he went off to work that day. The sad thing is, this isn’t the first and only time I have done this to him or others for that matter.

    Now, I know that I’m not the only one who has grabbed their cellphone first thing in the morning or stared at the screen during dinner with a friend, so I have to ask:

    When did we get so consumed with technology that we’ve allowed it to capture our complete attention more than an actual human being?

    This is a topic that I believe has come to the surface recently in social spheres ("Look Up" Spoken Word by Gary Turk), especially for me after this encounter with my husband that seemed to wake me up and question where my focus is headed. I saw the hurt in his eyes when all he wanted was a little attention before he started his day. Imagine how God must feel when we not only choose other people before Him, but THINGS.

    I want to dig even deeper and ask is this dependency on electronics and technology also affecting our relationship with the Lord?

    Matthew 6:33 asks us to seek the Lord FIRST.

    That means putting Him first in our lives at all times, even the first few moments of our day. He is the One who graciously woke us up, gave us the breath in our lungs, and provided us another opportunity to live another day. He deserves our devotion the moment our eyes pop open, even if it is a mere “thank you, God” before our feet even hit the floor.

    As we live in the great information age, we are bombarded with opportunities to fill our time and our minds with so many things that can so easily replace our time of fellowship with the Lord. Information available to us, literally at our fingertips, at all times, is wonderful gift, but that mobile device that we carry around in our purses and pockets can also be a mobile distraction that follows us everywhere we go.

    Although our cellphones, tablets, iPods, laptops, etc are not evil, I do believe we need to be cautious as to how much time we are devoting to them. We need to be aware of where we are directing our focus. We need to be attentive of what is capturing our attention.

    Perhaps you may not have an issue with technology distracting you from the Lord- good for you! Stay strong and be an accountability partner for those around you who are easily pulled away from the things of God because of the ever-increasing information age.

    But if you are like me and you are finding yourself with limited time to spend with Jesus in the secret place, I challenge you to ask the Lord if there is something you can arrange in your schedule to allow better time management. Also, ask Him if He would like for you to fast (technology, that is) something that could be causing division between you and Him.

    Devote specific time every day to spend some quiet time in fellowship with God and reading your Bible, without your cellphone or iPad within reach- turn them off during that time.

    Be thankful for the benefits of the tools and global connections that technology brings us, but don’t allow technology to rob you of your connection to Jesus.

    Let’s refocus and reconnect with the Lord!