Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Lost Art of Intercession

Intercession is defined as “the act of interceding; a prayer, petition, or entreaty in favor of another”.  Many of us when we pray, we pray for ourselves but we also pray for others.  We pray for others to be healed, to be saved, and to be restored. However, even in the midst of all this, we still experience so much devastation around us. People are still dying. People are still taking their lives. People still refuse to fully surrender their lives to God. It makes me think, are we praying as fervently as we used to or have we lost the art of intercession? Have we become so caught up in praying for ourselves that we forget to pray for the needs of others? I know that I have been guilty of this plenty of times. I will spend like 15 minutes asking God about things concerning my life and my family and like five minutes on everyone else.  However, recently I have been feeling the need to pray more zealously for others and I’m not just talking about those here in my home, church, and neighborhood. I’m talking about praying for people all over the world. I even felt the need to pray for celebrities. I don’t even know these people and they surely don’t know me but I just feel the need to cover them in prayer daily. 
In the Bible, I have noticed that anytime something would go wrong or the people would sin against God, there was always that one person who would go to God pleading for mercy on their behalf. We can see that in the story of Moses (the book of Exodus), Hezekiah,(2 Kings) Ezra, Nehemiah, etc.  They would be so devastated by what was going on around them that it would cause them to pray on the people’s behalf. They didn’t just say a two second prayer. Instead, the bible says they would weep, mourn, and fast (Nehemiah 1:4-11).  After all that has been going on in our world as of lately, I feel this continual need to intercede on behalf of our country/world.  We may not see it now, but our prayers are being heard. How many times have we seen sick people healed instantly after the church gathered in prayer? Or how about when your family member gets baptized after many years of running from the gift of grace that patiently awaited them?  Prayers work. No one can ever try to tell me differently. The Bible even says that the prayers of the righteous availeth much (James 5:16).  I like how the New American Bible Standard version puts it, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much”.  We can accomplish so much if we would restore the art of intercession. I pray that we would all feel the need to pray for others because Lord knows our world needs it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

Today my pastor preached a sermon entitled “Who told you?”  He read from Genesis 3:8-11 and Psalm 139:14.  Psalm 139:14 is a very well known psalm. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well”. I have heard this verse many times. I have had people say it to me and I have read it to myself.  But until today I don’t think I truly grasped the full meaning of it.  He spoke on how the society of today tries to tell us what is acceptable. They try to tell us how to look, what to wear, what to say and the list goes on. They try to tell us that if we don’t have long hair, a skinny body, blue eyes, etc that we are not deemed acceptable in their eyes.  This can seem pretty intimidating.  As much as we know these standards are not the standards we should live by, we sometimes find ourselves falling right in line with them.  I for one am guilty.

Time after time, I would compare myself to others. I have felt down about my appearance. I have felt like I wasn’t pretty enough. I allowed people to make me feel like I was not good enough. I would constantly be compared to my cousins and sister because I was not as skinny as them and my hair wasn’t as long as theirs.  After a while I started believing these things about myself.  I used to feel like no one would ever like me because my hair is not super long and because I am not skinny. Some might think, girl you are crazy for ever feeling that way. It’s easier said than done. I would have my good days where I would feel super confident about myself but then there were some days I truly despised looking in the mirror. I would cry and read Psalm 139 while trying to remind myself that I was made in the image of God. Therefore none of these things could be true. However, that confidence and assurance would only last but for so long until I went back into the same routine of feeling down about myself.

As my pastor spoke today, he kept asking this question, “Who told you? Who told you?”.  In my spirit, I kept asking myself this very same question. Who told me that I was not pretty enough because my hair is not flowing in my back like rapunzel? Who told me that I have to be a certain size and have a certain body shape to be found attractive? Who told me? Well I guess the answer to that question is some family members, the devil, but most importantly ME. I allowed what others were saying about me to become my reality. I started to see what they were saying every time I looked in a mirror. I began to feed myself these same lies. As my pastor continued to preach and the tears rolled down my eyes, I could hear God saying enough is enough.  When are you going to believe that none of these things could ever be true because I have made you in my image? When are you going to believe that what society thinks of you is not what I think of you? When will you see yourself the way I see you? I knelt down before Him and automatically began to thank Him for speaking to my heart. Never again will I allow insecurities to consume me. It won’t be easy but I will always put up a fight. I will continually hide this word in my heart. Goodbye negativity. Goodbye insecurities. God made me this way for a reason. Its either people take me as I am or they know where the exit is.
Maybe you might find yourself struggling with insecurities. When these insecurities arise, ask yourself “Who told me this is true?” Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Don’t just let it be another scripture that you know how to quote but declare it over your insecurities. May you be healed and made whole again. 

~Akeila XoXo 

Monday, May 12, 2014

I Will Follow You

So Ive been on this journey of reading my Bible from the absolute beginning and what a journey it has been! Stories that have been told and preached about so many times all contain new revelation for me. I've been learning and most importantly growing. With that being said, I am currently in the book of Ruth. It is such a short book yet filled with so much depth and various life lessons. In the first chapter alone, there is so much going on. As we all know, Naomi loses her husband as well as her two sons. One of the sons were married to Ruth. Naomi decides it is time to travel back to her land and her two daughter-in-laws leave with her. However, while they are on their way, she tells them to go back. She has nothing to offer them anymore. She tells them that she doesn't have any more sons for them to marry, so whats the point of them going with her? The two girls cried and refused to leave. Naomi was persistent in her request for them to return back to their homes and to their god. Orpah finally gave in and returned home. However, Ruth was not budging.  She refused to leave Naomi. She clung to her. Ruth was adamant about going with Naomi to this new unknown land and she was willing to give up the familiar to venture into unfamiliar territory. (Ruth 1:16-17).

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Sea of Doubt

As humans we all experience moments of doubt. It's how we are set up. When bad things happen, we begin to doubt that it will ever turn around for the better. As believers, we are taught that we should give no place to doubt because we should never, EVER doubt God. We know that He is faithful in fulfilling His promises and we know that nothing is impossible for Him. However, no matter how hard we try, from time to time doubt creeps in. It consumes us. It makes us question every thing that has happened up until that exact moment that things are not going too well.  I've done the tango with doubt may of times in my life and it's definitely not a good feeling. I'm sure it doesn't make God feel good either because it means we doubt Him and his power.   While we may have all experienced this at some time or another, trust me you are not alone. There were even people, great leaders in the Bible who doubted God. 
            One specific story I want to touch on is in the book of Joshua. After the Israelites shout down the walls of Jericho, The Lord gives them specific instructions. He tells them that all the gold and fancy stuff (Chapter 6 v 18-19) were to be brought back as a sacrifice to Him. The Israelites were not to take it for themselves. However, you know there always has to be that one person who seems to miss the memo or in this case blatantly disobey the instructions. The Lord helped them to cross over the Jordan River just like He did when they were coming out of Egypt and crossing the Red Sea. Once they got to the other side, He helped them to defeat their enemies. But once it was discovered that the Lord's command was disobeyed, He departed from them. He allowed their enemies to defeat them. Now Joshua began to feel so discouraged. He was probably thinking, man God was just hanging with us. He was just helping us to fight our enemies off. He was with us crossing the river. So where is He now that our enemies have defeated us?
            In that one moment, all Joshua felt was doubt. It didn't matter that God had helped them defeat thousands of armies and conquer lands they never imagined they would someday possess. Chapter 7:7 says that Joshua cried out. He even thought it was better that they stayed on the other side of the Jordan River.  The Bible says that sin separates us from God, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hearIsaiah 59:2.  When we sin, we can feel as if God is no longer with us. We can feel as if He is so far from us. It can also cause us to doubt. In that one moment that we feel He is no longer there, we can doubt every single thing He has done for us in the past. We forget how faithful He has been to us even though we haven't always been faithful. We forget how He has guided our every footstep. It is important for us to remember that even though we sin, God hasn't given up on us. He loves the sinner but not the sin. His word says that if we ask for forgiveness that He is just to forgive us  (1 John 1:9).

Even though we mess up and we might feel like He is no longer there, never doubt who God was before you made that mistake. And never doubt who He is because He is still there. He will always love us no matter what we do.

 So if you find yourself in one of these moments, don't allow yourself to be swallowed by the sea of doubt. Trust in The Lord. He will always be faithful to us. Just remember to walk in obedience and when you do that, there will be no room for doubt because God will continually show up and show us how powerful He is in our lives.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Do NOT be Deceived

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient." —Ephesians 5:6

Everyone knows the story of Adam and Eve.  Eve was deceived by the serpent and in turn caused Adam to sin, leading to some severe consequences.  If i had to describe Eve I would describe her as naive and lacking wisdom.  She knew what was expected of her but was easily mislead.  Why was she so easily deceived by the serpent?  I think it is because what she saw in front of her looked so appealing.  It looked delightful and it appeared as if it would give her the desires of her heart.  She desired to acquire the wisdom that would only come by her eating the fruit (Genesis 3:6). 

Eve can represent a lot of us young women today. We all desire something whether it is to be loved, pursued by someone, meet our future spouse, etc.  However, when it seems like these desires are not being fulfilled quick enough or doubt begins to creep in, other things begin to look appealing.  When the serpent appears before us with his alternative to our desires, all of a sudden what he is offering seems like the best and only option.  We must be careful not to let the serpent deceive us because what he has to offer will only bring satisfaction but for a moment.  In the end we will face consequences like Eve.  That one moment of deception in the Garden not only caused her to suffer but also lead to the suffering of those around her.  Be wise and trust in God.  Be confident in knowing that He is withholding nothing from you.  This is exactly where He wants you to be in this exact moment. Remember to always delight yourself in the Lord and HE (not the serpent) will give you the desires of your heart.