Empowered by Jesus: Let Go of Control.

“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Lord,

Please, forgive me for thinking I could control today’s events by manipulating environmental conditions. I desperately wanted to expedite the timing and possibly the outcome(s) of all my circumstances. Help me trust in your character instead, and in your faithfulness, promises and most importantly in your eternal masterplan.

You are the One who has control over our lives!

You orchestrate the details of all life happenings then map out how new beginnings unfold.

You created the heavens and the earth, and every living creature in today’s world. God even breathed ‘the breath of life’ into the man’s  nostrils at the very beginning of biblical times! (Genesis 2:7).

Without you, I would not be alive today. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm‬ ‭139:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬- I praise you for the miracles and blessings in my life today. You are in control, not I.

Control is an illusion!

If I think I am in full control over my life, then I am living a lie. It is a subtle, recurrent strategy from the father of lies, our enemy, who wants for us to disregard God’s will. He is crafty in drafting an illusion; he is a con artist. He wants for us to remain in bondage to our sinful nature and be apart from you, Lord. The enemy is jealous of our intimate fellowship and wants to steal our joy, destroy our present and future and enslave us once again!

But, Christ has defeated the enemy on our behalf.

We have the gift to make a choice, thank goodness Lord! We have free will.

Our ability to make a decision is a heavenly treasure. God wants us to be intentional and prayerful when making choices. The Holy Spirit, our eternal companion and coach, will guides us in decision-making if we pray first.

Thank you, Lord, for being a reliable and trustworthy Helper.

It is our decision whether we surrender to God’s will or not, whether we are obedient to His commands or not, whether we partner up with Him in our day to day activities or not, whether we choose to engage in earthly distractions or fruitless habits like ‘retail therapy’ or not.

Ultimately, God wants us to partner with Him in today’s journey and in all of our decision-making opportunities.

God encourages us to choose wisely so we may not be enslaved to idols ever again. Idolatry is anything that pulls away from our intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Everytime I spend time in frivolous spending or complaining or even perfectionism, the Holy Spirit convicts me of what truly matters.

I need to repent, surrender my desires, and follow Him!

His desire is for me to be always free and alive; “Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free—not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.” Galatians‬ ‭5:1‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Jesús is the light to our path; “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

We do not have control in Life.

When tragedy occurs, God is already there on our behalf!

Several years ago…

My sister and I had it ‘all’ planned out prior to her international trip. We had mapped out the ‘perfect’ plan, the projected timeframe and all of the details for the action plan. We had explored all available options together in the best interest of our elderly parents.

We thought “we were ready to go.” We were wrong!

I was consulting 90 minutes away from home and was about to take a lunch break when I received a phone call from my sister. I was intrigued yet surprised by her unexpected call and even had a fleeting thought, “she must have forgotten to say something else about her trip…” I was calm and relaxed.

When I answered the phone, I heard her trembling and high-pitched tone of voice, “Dad just had a heart attack and died…” She was still in shock and I was too!

Our lives were drastically altered by the unexpected and overwhelming sense of grief and loss. She was in Venezuela and I was in the United States, many thousand of miles apart.

I felt helpless when I realized my passport had expired, and there was no available international flights at the time! I was unable to attend dad’s funeral. I was heart-broken, grief stricken and alone. Many even judged me for not being at dad’s funeral and only a couple of people reached out throughout the painful journey of loss and loneliness.

In my walk thru the valleys of emotional distress and sorrow, God was my only source of refuge, comfort and hope. The Lord is near the broken-hearted and to those whose spirits are crushed (Psalm 34:18).

Praising Jesus! He truly understands.

He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

He even weeps with us  (Luke 22:62).

God does not waste our emotional pain ever!

The only control we have is in our decision-making process when we make choices today. We can believe in His promises rather than feeling hopeless, choose Hope over despair, be with Jesus instead of being lonely, and choose meditation rather than fruitless habits such as retail therapy.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

After dad’s funeral, the intensity from family estate planning and challenging, work demands led to anger, fear and despair. My needless shopping spinned out of control for another season.

I did not handle my grief well at the onset of this major loss until I brought this hardship to the Lord’s attention one afternoon. I knelt down in front of the Cross, surrendered my heart and trusted Him with the healing process.

Out of angst and helplessness, I chose to dig into the book of Psalms one day at a time. I inscribed His verses at Sunrise and Sunset, recited selected verse throughout the day, journaled my mixed emotions and believed in His eternal promises one moment at a time. When I entrusted my emotional distress and grief to the Lord, my soul was refreshed. Only then, I was able to get a grip of my needless spending habit.

“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.” Psalm‬ ‭61:2-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Praising Jesus for His healing!

How did I let go of control?! When I realized I did not have control over  my circumstances and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me thru chaos, confusion and hatred one event at a time.

I was flexible and receptive to the soft whispers of the Holy Spirit and did not hold too tight my daily schedule, routine or agenda for the day.

When we choose to follow His ways, He sets us free.

I am choosing Life and Prosperity today, Lord. I want to be free for the rest of my life and not be enslaved ever again.

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change… the courage to change the things I can… and the wisdom to know the difference’ (Reinhold Niebuhr)

in Jesus’ name I bravely pray and boldly praise you,

Amen.

Let us sit at the Lord’s feet:

Inscribe and meditate on 2 Peter 1:1-12

Memory Verse: 2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
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Weekly Challenge: Consider a budget for Holiday shopping this year and add it to your household budget. Review budget goals weekly. Track your daily expenses.

Tip for the week: Do not spend more money than you earn. Pray over your finances daily.

Photo courtesy: Iong Sitaula @Splasher

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Empowered by Jesus: Trust.

E180D773-CC22-48B9-BE1F-BD79C8F3D197Photo Courtesy: David Clode @ Splasher

Lord,

“I never knew you intimately!”

Please forgive me for not reaching out to you sooner. You always called me into fellowship but I was way too busy with all sorts of earthly distractions. Busyness is my worst enemy still today. You waited patiently for me to come to my senses.

“I am so glad you did!”

You are a Faithful God and my only constant source of fulfillment today. The Truth reminds me at Sunrise,  “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I believed in a forgiving, compassionate and merciful God but never took time to build a relationship. I just did not know where to begin. I was lost and dead in my transgressions for way too long.

Life was empty, purposeless and meaningless without Jesus Christ. I was a dead walking woman who had lost hope at the end of my thirties. I was living in desperate times. I was so desperate for Your living water and did not even know it back then. I drank from all sort of wells and was never pleased. I wanted more.

When I focused on temporary circumstances whether it was a shopping extravaganza, a relationship, achievement or perfectionism at work or career, I was never fulfilled. When the adrenaline rush would fade away, I would pursue for more. Some individuals described it as insanity; ‘doing’ the same thing over and over again, and expecting different outcomes. Even though I shopped often, I expected to build a retirement plan. I budgeted differently over the years and expected to budget well for retirement. Fortunately, the vicious cycle somewhat improved and it drastically had an impact on my financial future!

“My life was unmanageable for quite some time! How did the never-ending cycle begin?”

I am not sure but I still remember how much fun it was to shop with my folks back then.

As I was finishing graduate school in my late twenties, I remember telling dad I was exhausted and stressed out over time-sensitive projects. I was insecure, afraid and fatigued after a long week of work duties and demanding deadlines in school. I didn’t think I was going to finish the program successfully. I was a nervous wreck and anxious when I arrived at my folks’ home one afternoon.

“Do you have time to visit a car dealership?” Dad asked.

His invitation was unexpected but I was excited for another outing with my parents. I was emotionally spent over my academic performance and this outing was an excellent way not to think about any of my concerns.

Every time I spent quality time with both of my parents, life was uncomplicated and fun. I will always cherish our unforgettable memories from the past.

By the end of the evening, my folks had gifted me a brand new automobile. The leather smell of the interior seats of the vehicle made a long-lasting impression. I still remember today!

“How awesome was that?”   I was fortunate to have generous parents, I know.

The fruitless habit was then established. If I needed to relax or feel better, I would step out of the house and engage in ‘retail therapy’. I was careless about the budget and retirement plan.

”How insane was that?!”

I am not blaming dad for needless spending today or ever. I take full responsibility for my own actions and past insanity over my finances.

Have you ever noticed a pattern of thoughts or feelings or even circumstances you may react to? We usually experience a distinct thought, emotion and/or environmental trigger(s) prior to our action(s).

I recently identified a pattern in my thought life. The pattern changes depending on the time of the day and/or the circumstances. Some common thoughts, related emotions, and triggers were the following,  “I am exhausted (physical state/trigger), I worked hard all day long (thought) so let me browse the internet (action)” or “I am having a bad day (trigger) so let me take a break and check out the sale announcements (actions)” or “I have extra money (trigger) so why not shop?!” or “I love what I just saw on FB (trigger), I want one (thought).”

Were you able to journal your thoughts, emotions and circumstances prior to fruitless habit last week?

Once I have a thought about shopping an item or two, I tend to think about it often. I may even obsess over the upcoming sales or limited edition. I then proceed to think about the functionality (if any), value or the benefits of the desirable item, spend a considerable amount of time browsing the internet and comparing prices. By the time I am finished with my ‘due diligence’, I am convinced the item is needed or else I would think I am missing out. After the item is purchased, I lose interest shortly thereafter.  Sometimes, I even forget I own it and may even purchase it once again!

It all starts with an initial thought, emotion or circumstance to begin the cycle. Once it starts, the inability to stop is evident.  At this point, I’ve asked myself, “Who has time to budget?!”

”I hope you do, my friend.”

God encourages us to think about what is true, helpful, inspiring, trustworthy and ‘necessary’. (Philippians 4:8)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am learning to trust you, Lord, much more today. I have been peaceful and joyful since I surrendered my heart.

I still remember the winter morning I repented of all of my sins, asked Jesus to come into my heart and began to trust in the power of the Holy Spirit.

“It was snowing on the date I realized… You were the only way, the truth, and the life. No one knows our Father unless we know you first” (John 14:6).

My life has been transformed since Jesus Christ has been the central focus of my life.

It has been like the metamorphosis of a butterfly. Butterflies evolve and change over time. My life has evolved gradually over the past decade. I am still work in progress though. It has been a transformation from a reckless lifestyle to a peaceful style of living.

EB979FE9-DC4B-4B49-8C00-5DC0B96BF5ADPhoto Courtesy: Andrea Reiman @ Splasher

My attitude, mindset, and perspective are being renewed every day when I read your Word at sunrise. The Holy Spirit is my Helper and definitely an empowering life coach, and your precepts are teaching me how to establish new boundaries in self-care and be a better manager of my finances.

Lord, I still need help with retail shopping.

https://youtu.be/Waitmz6C100

“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm‬ ‭119:81‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice,” Psalm‬ ‭95:1-7‬ ‭NIV

Yes, Lord!

You are my Salvation, Redeemer, the great King above all gods and my only source of Hope today.

I have been redeemed and transformed with a new purpose.

In Jesus’ name, I boldly praise,

Amen.

Let us sit at the Lord’s feet:

Inscribe and Meditate John 4: 10-26

Memory Verse:  John 4: 13-14 “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Weekly Challenge

Consider identifying at least seven, relaxing activities that are available at work, home or in your local community. Give priority to free activities. For instance, an afternoon walk in your neighborhood with a neighbor, friend or spouse.

Personally, I enjoy adult coloring during controversial conference calls at work. It relaxes me and decreases the likelihood for me to shop online after the meeting.

Choose one activity every day, and Journal if you were relaxed or not at the end of the activity. If you were relaxed, did you have any ‘shopping’ urges?

Tip for the week: Consider throwing away ‘sale announcements’ before you open the mail correspondence.

Empowered by Jesus, First Step!

“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭17:20‬ ‭NIV

Lord, I surrender a fruitless yet socially acceptable habit.

Yes, You heard me right! A fruitless habit.

The Holy Spirit convicted me of an endless, reckless cycle a couple of years ago. A cycle characterized by the adrenaline rush of excitement followed by a deep sense of regret, shame, and guilt.

The cycle repeats itself over and over again and it is out of control once again.

I surrender, Lord.

“I love to shop, Lord.”

I am sure you have witnessed a long-standing pattern of frivolous spending since early adulthood. Please forgive me for being prideful; I thought I could change the circumstances all on my own. “I was wrong!” I have been unwilling to pray over this never-ending cycle. I was in denial all along. I humbly surrender my heart once again. You have delivered me from other strongholds (2 Corinthians 1: 9-11) in the past so I am familiarized with the power of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I am finally weary and burdened over the endless cycle of reckless spending.

The more money I earn, the more I want to spend. I remember working four consulting jobs for three consecutive years so I could have the extra cash flow for online shopping. How did I do it? I am still trying to figure it out myself! It was insanity I assure you. I was emotionally and physically spent from working so many hours a day. Exhaustion fired up the needless shopping cycle and it repeated itself over the years.

“Yes, Lord! I admit I am powerless over online shopping and my finances have been out of control. I am craving for a change in lifestyle today. I do believe in resurrected life, help me with my unbelief.”

It is so much fun to shop rather than feel frustrated, alone, angry or exhausted. “Who has time to dwell on these emotions?! As a matter of fact, I am upset right now and I am already thinking about taking advantage of the 20% coupon readily available to me in my yahoo account.”

Please help! I have an urge to shop right now, Lord.

Many individuals find pleasure in drinking wine on weekends, others delight in baking desserts and some may even lose track of time and money at the casinos. Personally, I find satisfaction in shopping online; it is easy, convenient and available on my smartphone wherever I go. The best part of it all the stores are never closed.

At the end of the day, we all want to feel better and perhaps even forget about our most recent challenges, sorrows, and related distress. These recreational outlets give us temporarily relief and our emotions may be positively altered… When we are ready to pursue more pleasurable moments, we then anticipate the next shopping trip, or next exotic drink, or tasty midnight snacks, or another gambling escapade.

There is nothing wrong with any of these fun-filled activities as long as we do them in ‘moderation’ and it does not interfere with our quality of life and/or relationships, finance or health.

“What’s the common denominator?!”

These are all entertaining by nature and socially acceptable. These habits distract and relieve us from the discomfort of ‘day-to-day’ emotional stress.

Lord, I always thought I managed my emotions well. But, I realized not too long ago I thrive in busyness and this tendency helps me avoid processing my emotions in constructive ways.

I am going to need your support throughout the day until I find new ways of coping with today’s fast-paced, stressful work day! I don’t want to spend money unless it is necessary.

“I no longer want to feel repulsed after I shop either”, I scolded myself the other day.

Help me not find refuge in retail therapy but in your Word. Your truth guides me and is a light to my path when struggling with a challenge or adversity.

Some experts say it takes 66 days to build a new habit and others have concluded it only takes 21 days. I bet no one really knows how long it takes but you do, Lord.

No matter how long it takes, I am ready for the first step in recovery and I admit I have lost control over the budget.  Help me differentiate between the desires of the flesh and the real needs one day at a time, the antecedents of impulsive shopping, and creative exit plan when experiencing cravings. Your word reminded me at sunrise that there is always a ‘way out’ when faced with a temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). So, Help me be less distracted by enticing marketing strategies and be much more focused on purchasing those items I truly need.

I am inviting you to walk alongside me.

Every time I surrender an area of my life, I experience a sense of loss of control; it is quite uncomfortable I must admit.

“Be patient. I am doing something new” (Isaiah 43:19), I hear you say every time!

I was taught to be confident and bold in childhood and not to be vulnerable or weak. So, I am establishing new boundaries as I am learning how to cope with adversity.

Setbacks are to be expected. I don’t want to be discouraged.

Just know I am committed this time around! Help me find strength and inner peace in you when faced with another opportunity for needless spending.  Your grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) if I fail along the way. I know you will give me the strength I need to let go of this unproductive habit over time.

You have been refining my character gradually, and I truly appreciate your compassion, unconditional love, and never-ending Grace. Even though I am uncomfortable with these upcoming changes, I know saving money has a favorable impact on my retirement plan.

By trusting in you, I can let go and allow you to map out a new journey on my behalf. Your plan is always so much better than any of my other plans.

I know that well!

Jeremiah 32:27 reminds me of your mighty power and nothing is impossible for you, Lord. If the circumstances are difficult for me, you can relentlessly work it all out for my good.

In Christ, your beloved daughter is able to conquer any barrier and be free from wasteful habits. Nothing is impossible for you. I do believe so help me with my unbelief.

In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen

Let us sit at the Lord’s feet:

Inscribe and Meditate 2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Memory Verse:  “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him, we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Weekly Challenge:

Consider journaling about your thoughts, emotions and/or circumstances prior to a shopping experience. You will discover the triggers or antecedents of needless shopping.

Label this challenge, the ‘needs vs. wants shopping extravaganza.’ Then consider the following questions; “Do I truly need this now? or can I wait for next month?” On the second column, “Can I afford it now or do I need to add it to the budget for later?” In the third column, “How am I feeling at the time of the shopping urge?” In the fourth column, what are the circumstances I am facing at the time of the urge? Record your answers in a notebook.

You are welcome to share with us your experience in the comments below.

Tip for the week: Declutter your email account by deleting ‘sale announcements’ before you read them.

53236182-AF02-4B53-A0B5-B19FAD74CD82Photo courtesy: Franciele Cunhan@ Splasher

Surrendering the Next Shopping Spree!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6)

As I prepare my heart and mind for the upcoming Holiday season, I want to drink more of your living water, be refreshed and be led by the Holy Spirit (John 4:10).

In today’s world, I am easily distracted by online shopping!

“Lord, I have been thoughtless once again over financial decisions. Please forgive me” 

You then gently whispered, “I have the right to do anything,” you say —- but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything —but not everything is constructive.” 1 Corinthians 10:23

When I glance at my smartphone, I view all sorts of time-sensitive bundles and discounts. I even receive text messages on upcoming deals and exclusives from my favorite shops.

In less than a minute, I am able to select a vibrant color and/or suitable size on a clothing item or a trendy font for a monogrammed tote. By just clicking ‘send to cart’, the item can be fully paid for and be delivered in a matter of days. The free shipping alleviates the buyer’s remorse. The expedited delivery excites me to no end!

Yes, I’ve been careless with money, have recently disregarded the home budget and overlooked future, critical expenses! There is nothing I can hide from you. The struggle is real, Lord. I need the Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf.

704D80FF-77B9-402D-8627-5360E1EE2B62Photo courtesy: Rawpixel @ Splasher.

I want to be mindful of how I spend every dollar I earn. I need more of you, Jesus, and less from today’s cyber world.

I am surrendering my heart this morning for the first time after wrestling with shopping urges for decades.

Change the desires of my heart, and teach me valuable lessons along the way. I want to be more mindful of sound financial decisions. I don’t want to incur debt. Decrease my worldly desires one day at a time!

I am ready to surrender shopping sprees. I’ve realized I am powerless over frivolous spending. I am saying “YES” to a monthly budget.

I want to think clearly and objectively before every purchase. Do I truly need the item?  Or can I wait for another month?

Help me make wiser choices during the upcoming Holiday season.

Thanks for steady employment, financial stability and a fulfilling career.

I believe in the power of Christ so transform my finances one day at a time.

In Jesus’ name, I pray Amen.