A Prayer for Graduates

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Dear Father,

We come to you on behalf of every graduate. Lord, we know that you have a divine purpose and plan for them. We thank you for the path that lies before each graduate. Your word says that you have plans of prosperity and not harm. You plan to give them a hope and a future. We ask that you bless every graduate with an assurance in your word and what it says concerning their lives. We ask that you will place a desire in them to hunger and thirst after your righteousness, so they may be filled. Fill them with your spirit so that as they follow your plan for their lives, others will come to know you because of your light shining so brightly through them. Put them before great men and women so they may be conduits of your love, grace, and goodness. Stir up every gift within them so they may do the work of your kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.

When the enemy comes in like a flood like we know he will, Lord lift up a standard. We cancel any of his schemes and assignments against them. You are their great defender. Surround them with a fiery hedge of protection, give your angels charge over them, and cover them with your precious blood. Help them to be a light in these times of darkness and use them to do great works in you. We thank you in advance for every promise you have declared over their lives and the great work that you will do in and through them.

In your son Jesus’ mighty name, we pray.

Amen.

©️ FREE 2021. All Rights Reserved.

You Are

From light breaking through the darkness of night,

To the wind that gently breezes and guides a child’s kite.

From the heartbeat at conception as a sign of new life,

To milk in the breast of a mother whose infant holds tight.

From every inhale and exhale as a our lungs breath in and out,

To the sounds of worship, some which are silent and some shout.

From oceans so vast that the eyes cannot see where they extend,

To the galaxies near and beyond, the tapestry of your majesty has no end.

Everlasting, Enduring, Empowering, Endless, Eternal…

God, You Are.

© 2019 NiaCara Lawrence

Trust His Plans

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All of my life, I have been a planner and an overachiever. By the time I was in high school, I had at least the 20 years of my life mapped out. I would graduate from high school, attend a 4-year university, go to medical school, and become an Ob/Gyn. Thereafter, I would buy a home and travel the rest of my life. How many of you know that my life now resembles less than 50% of the way I planned it? Where were my husband and children? What about my 18-year teaching career and all of the other things I have done in my life? Good question! They were not originally part of my plan. However, they have by far brought the most joy out of me and my life.

Now, let me be honest. I sometimes wonder what my life as a doctor would have been like because I have always been intrigued by science and the human body. That is the reason I decided to pursue a degree in Biology. It is also why I taught science for 18 years. When I think about how God’s plan for my life has evolved since I was 14 years old, I am very grateful. I may not have become a doctor but I have taught numerous students who have become doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals, lawyers, teachers, artists, and so much more. I have been blessed to attend graduations, weddings, baptisms, and baby dedications. Would I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people of all ages and pour into them? Maybe in some other capacity but I am so grateful for what God has done.

I think sometimes we tend to get so focused on what could have been that we forget to live in the moment and recognize what God is currently doing in our lives. When we do, we miss out on the joy of living in the “now” of God’s plan and all of the valuable lessons that He is teaching us. Yes, I could have been a successful physician. Yes, I could have been around the world and back by now. Yes, I may have even had more money than I do right now. But was that God’s plan for my life? If it was, He would have brought it to pass. That is why is so important to not lean to our understanding and seek to acknowledge in every way, so He can direct our paths as instructed in Proverbs 3:5-6. Only He knows what lies ahead and the plans He ultimately has for us. As His children, we have to learn and believe it with our whole hearts. We have to learn to be content in any and every circumstance. We have to be intentional in our gratitude for the life He has blessed us with, even if it doesn’t look like what we imagined.
When we shift the posture of our hearts, our eyes will shift too. We start to see things differently. Then, we can live in expectation and excitement about lies ahead of us even when fear tries to creep in and rob us of trusting God.

Do you have anything in your life that seems to cause you to worry instead of hope for the future? What do you fear? Maybe things don’t necessarily look like you wanted them to. Don’t lose hope. Don’t allow the enemy to cause you to fall into his trap. He knows your future. So, he desperately desires to distract you from the promises of God. If so, ask God to restore your hope and give you a glimpse of what’s to come. He will do it. Don’t worry about where you are going because God is already there and He has good plans for you.

Rest in His promise found in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

Be blessed!

2021 FREE. All Right Reserved.

God Doesn’t Need Your Help

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11  For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
12  O LORD of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trusts in You! (Psalm 84:11-12, NASB)

God’s plan for us takes into account all of our talents, gifts, skills, and dispositions. He plans to mature us and bring certain aspects of our lives to pass at a certain time. But sometimes God’s timing is not our own. And that fact causes some dissonance for us. The intensity of our desire, the feelings of perceived need we have sometimes overrule our spirit’s will to wait on God. Abram and Sarai’s journey to the son God promised them is a perfect example of how our desires can lead us to shortcut God’s plan for us.

God told Abram he would be the father of many nations. To do that, he had to be somebody’s daddy. Of course Sarai, his wife would assume it would be through her. Well, that wasn’t happening. So, the story goes that she convinces Abram to marry her maid and have a child with her. Well, Sarai’s plan shortcuts God’s will. And it wreaked havoc in their family. Her desire to be used by God, her need to fulfill her husband’s desire caused her to step outside of God’s will to make it happen on her own. If I’m honest, I totally understand Sarai’s impatience. And I’m, sure you do too. Have you ever had something you know was coming, but it wasn’t coming fast enough, so you decided to do what you could to help it along? I know I’m guilty!

However, in those moments, rarely do we consider how those choices, those deliberate choices affect our direction. Our shortcuts are grounded in pride; how we feel we need to help God out.
Did you read that? How we need to help God out. That’s ridiculous to even type. Abram should have told his wife, Bye, Sarai! Go sit down and be patient while God does His thing.

Throughout their ordeal, I know Sarah and Abraham were changed. They came to know God more deeply, more intimately. They came to rely on him more than they did before. They got to see His will come to pass. To me, this deeper knowledge and understanding, and even God’s fulfillment of His promise (despite their behavior), is just more evidence that God surely will work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

If you take one thing away from this devotional today, it is God does not need your help! Each time you are tempted to help Him out, remind yourself that God has all things, knows all things,
and can do all things. And on that alone, nothing you can do will enhance His plan for your life.

Dr. Charles Stanley said something that stuck with me on a message about shortcutting God’s will.
He said:
God makes a promise.
Faith believes it.
Hope anticipates it.
Patience waits quietly for it.

Many Blessings!

Wait on the Lord

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Since leaving my job of 17 years in August 2018, I have been in a time of waiting. I have not been given instructions about my next career move or even if I will even return to my field. Although I have done several temporary jobs over the last few years, in the meantime, I’ve been enjoying my time at home with my children while they participate in virtual learning. I have found a new love, crafting. It has brought me so much joy and peace. So, many different things have taken place in my life. 

Initially, I was very anxious and continuously applying for positions in my field. Eventually, I stopped and decided to focus on the last instructions God had given me. He had told me to focus on my writing and my family. So, I began to do just that. In doing so, I’ve experienced so much peace about my future. In light of all that has happened in the world since 2018, I have been convinced that I am exactly where He wants me to be. How could I be so sure? Because I have seen Him gradually align various areas of my life, develop me, and give me freedom. Some things have occurred that I could not have happened without God’s hands on them. 

Therefore, I have resolved that I will not move until He speaks. I will trust in Him. I also had to commit to change how I wait. Initially, I anxious for something to happen but now I am resting in him and praising Him for the journey. I am more intentional about embracing my NOW and all of the possibilities it brings. You see how we wait for God to move matters. When we complain, we make it an arduous task and torment ourselves. However, when we choose to have an attitude of gratitude, we shift the atmosphere of our lives and posture ourselves for greater works of God in and around us. 

Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint.” Therefore, how we wait on God matters. We have to wait in a way that is conducive to us receiving renewal, strength, refreshing, restoration, and eventually reward. 

What are you waiting on God to do in your life? Have you grown weary in your waiting? Have you become fearful or even doubtful of whether or not He will come through for you? If He is will is not a question, God is faithful in all His promises. If He said it, it will surely come to pass. So, I say,” Dear Friend, wait on the Lord”. 

Be blessed. 

© FREE 2021 All Rights Reserved.

How Are You Living?

Last week, my sweet husband, asked me a very important question. He asked,”If you knew you were going to die soon, what would you do?” My mind immediately started to ponder the question. How would I live? What would I do differently? How would I decide to spend the rest of my time? All of which are very powerful questions. Likewise, their answers were even more powerful because they caused me to really reevaluate my life and how I am living it.

Each answer is very personal. So, I won’t go into intimate details but I will say one thing. I would definitely be even more intentional about all areas of my life. Over the last 5 or 6 years, I’ve made alot of changes as a result of plenty self-evaluation. I have evaluated my career, relationships, parenting, wellness, and so many other areas. Although I have made alot of changes, there are still so much more I could do or be more intentional about.

Today, I want to ask you the same question,”If you knew your time was ending here on Earth, how would you live the life you have left? Would you be more present in your relationships? Would you shut all all distractions and hone in only on your family or those most important you? How would you spend your days? These are all very intense questions. Many of which I’m still trying to construct an answer or plan for.

One thing I know for sure is that I don’t want to leave this earth without using every gift God has blessed me with. I don’t want to leave without giving all the love He has given me. I don’t want to let all that He has brought me through to be in vain. I don’t want to not embrace and cherish every moment He has given me to praise and worship Him. I don’t to leave here with His work undone. I want to live for His purpose, on purpose. Don’t you? He came that we may have life and have it more abundantly.

John 10:10 TPT A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect —life in its fullness until you overflow!

So I ask, “What does that look like in your life? Are you living your life for His purpose with intent? Is life happening to you or by you living in and for Him?”

Let Us Pray…Father, we thank you for your divine plan and purpose for our lives. Help us to seek your will and wisdom on how we should live in a way that pleases you. In doing so, you’ve promised us life more abundantly which can only be found in you. Lord, you’ve given us the gift of life so that through you we may live a life of intent and great love. Teach us to do just that. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

A River Runs Through

Bring all your sorrow, your guilt, and your pain,

Bring all your burdens, your fears, and your chains.

Bring your disappointment and even every sin,

Bring it all. It doesn’t matter what shape you are in.

Release, exhale, drop, let everything go,

Because the answer is near and soon it shall flow.

Full of all you need to experience new life,

Full of what’s needed to make all death alive.

Lean in. Can you feel it’s rhythm on the cusp of the wind?

The river is knocking.  Will you let Him in?

No matter what you’re facing the river runs through.

He is coming to deliver, set free, and make new.

The river runs through mountains high, valleys low,

The river can reach no matter how far you go.

Oh, there is a river from which you can drink and thirst no more.

That river is Jesus. Praise His name forevermore!

River run through and make us anew.

River run through and fill us with truth.

River run through and drive out all doubt.

River run through because its you we cannot live without.

FREE 2021 All Rights Reserved.

Trust Him

This morning, I thank God for continuing to confirm His plan for my life. I just want to encourage you today. If God tells you to do something, do it regardless of how crazy it seems or how you/others may feel about it. Be wise. Every opportunity that sounds good may not be what God desires for your life. The opportunity may be a good one but it may not be right for you. However, when pursuing a God instructed path, it may be scary at first but you have to trust that if He said it, He has you covered. Initially, you may have to walk alone but as long as you are following His lead, help is on the way.

I can remember how much I dreaded having to go to Grambling because I knew that there would be some things involved that I didn’t want to deal with. Although what I dreaded did occur, God had already made provision and I developed so much. If I had not gone, I wouldn’t have met my husband and so many other beautiful people. I learned so much about God being my friend, provider, protector, and vindicator. I also learned the importance of listening to Him for instruction. From personal experience, I can tell you that nothing that God has told me to do has ever made sense to me but it has always worked out for me.

Sometimes, God has to change the scenery of your life in order to allow you to see Him in a new way. We can’t afford to play it safe and remain comfortable in our faith walk. If we do, we will never even scratch the surface of what God wants to do in our lives. Even Jesus had a wilderness. He had to face it in order to be prepared for what lied ahead. God blesses our obedience. It’s just that plan and simple. Will you trust and obey Him today?

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Pedestals

Pedestals were meant to bring objects up higher,

Not for us to place men upon so we can admire.

Nor to exalt ourselves above others and say look at me,

Or put our lives on display for all the world to see.

Who are we except filthy rags washed clean by lamb’s blood?

Or wretches merely saved my grace and perfect love.

Do we really have anything worthy of envy?

When we’re all an inch short of falling and our hearts being empty.

When we are all striving with hopes to one day see His face,

While we grow weary of the toils that come with this race.

If we opened our closets, what would our skeletons say?

If our prayers of deliverance could be heard, would our admirers turn away?

Because we are all in need of His grace with every step we take,

How dare we boast in our flesh and His goodness we forsake?

If humility were our breath, we would surely die.

Because we have a tendency to puff up our flesh too high.

If there’s any lifting up, it should only be of the Father.

Man-made pedestals don’t last forever so why do we even bother.

He said, “If I be lifted up, I’ll draw all men unto me”.

But that’s hard to do when WE are all others can see.

© 2019 FREE All Rights Reserved.

Reflect

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This week is Holy Week. It is the week that Jesus was on His way to a horrific death on a cross, accused, whipped, died on the cross, buried, and rose from the dead. I have been trying to simply meditate on what that must have felt like. How did He feel? What was on His mind knowing His fate? How did He feel when He arose from the dead? I could only imagine the array of feelings He must have felt. I am sure none of us will ever come close to knowing the magnitude of the weight on His shoulders. We have all experienced hardship but nothing comparable to His. Yet, Hebrews 12:2 says,” Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Although what was ahead for Him was bleak, He was still hopeful. His eyes were on His destiny and the outcome of His obedience. His heart of fixed on US, all the souls He’d save.

Would I be willing to endure punishment for something I didn’t do? Would you? Would you be willing to die for sinners whom you came to save that spat on and mocked you? We find it difficult to bear the persecution part of it, let alone the punishment. Yet, He did it just for us. What great love? What great courage? What great strength? What great devotion to the Father? 

As we approach Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, let us reflect on the sacrifice that was made so that we may have a right to the tree of life. Do our lives show that we truly understand the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Saviour? Are we living lives that honor Him and are reflective of gratitude? 

Let Us Pray:

Father, we thank you for loving us the way that only you can. We thank you that your love for us was greater than our sin. Help us to reflect on the meaning of this week and to remember its implication for our lives. We ask that you forgive us for the times that we have taken it for granted and lived in any way that hasn’t reflective of your glory. Let us remember the cross not just on holidays but every day. Help us to be living epistles of men so that others may come to know you and receive your gift of salvation. Help us to know your son, Jesus, in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering. So, one day being conformed unto His death, we too shall be raised again to live in eternity with you. 

In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. 

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