Your baggage belongs to Jesus

John 4:1-26

Baggage is something we all carry.  I’m not referring to a suitcase. I’m talking about emotional baggage.  Heavy burdens that come in all shapes and sizes.  These things can become very cumbersome to carry, weighing us down to the point of stifling us.  Most of us have spent awhile collecting these things. The load can get so heavy at times we have to stop right where we are, taking a moment to rest and readjust the weight. Other times we try and seek relief with things like alcohol, drugs, food, shopping or even relationships; but that isn’t healthy and it only gives us temporary relief; the key word is temporary.  We find moving forward with our lives and making healthy decisions difficult, when all we can really think about is this giant load we’re dragging around and the pain we feel.  It can be exhausting.

We also carry small pieces of baggage.  You know, the ones other people can’t see but we know they’re there.  We do a good job hiding them so nobody sees us carrying them.  Sometimes our pockets get so full, nothing else will fit.  We walk around uncomfortable all the time afraid someone might get a glimpse of what we’re trying so hard to hide.

And lastly, the baggage we didn’t realize we were still carrying.   We’ve gotten so used to the way it feels we sort of forgot all about it.  Then we run into someone we haven’t seen for a while and we’re thrown into a situation that takes us back to a place, in our mind, we thought we would never go again.  Then the issue suddenly rears its ugly head.

If any of these scenarios sound like you and you’re tired of carrying this heavy load, look no further, I have an answer for you.  A permanent solution.  The same man who carried a heavy cross up Calvary’s mountain, can and will carry your baggage.  Jesus doesn’t care who you are.  He doesn’t care where you’ve been and He doesn’t care what you have done.  The amazing thing is He loves us and He WANTS to do this for you.  Most importantly- He gave up His life, to do this for you.

In John Chapter 4, we read about Jesus meeting the woman at the well.  She could not understand why he was talking with her and asking her for a drink of water; she was a Samaritan and Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans.  Jesus didn’t care, He was offering her a new way of life. Regardless of who she was and regardless of what she had done.

Verses 16-18 Read as follows, He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back. I have no husband,” she replied.  Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

This woman was no doubt carrying baggage.  After 5 relationships that had ended for one reason or another.  Her baggage may have been getting pretty heavy.  But God…..

Our Heavenly Father doesn’t care where we’ve been, He cares where we are headed and how we feel while we get there.

If you are carrying around a heavy load, stop…… He will meet you right where you are and you can lay it at His feet.  If you have concealed baggage let God reach in and take it away.  You’re secret pocket where you carry around the things you hide from the world; is no secret to Him…..Give Him permission to reach in and He will take it.  And, ask Him to reveal all your hidden baggage. You may not even realize you’re still hauling it around.

The Bible says in Matthew 11:28 (NKJV), Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  The definition of heavy-laden is 1. Loaded with great weight.  And 2. Burdened with grievous cares.

And 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says, Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

What happened to the woman at the well? She believed and received.  She accepted His offer of living water and handed over her burdens.  And in verses 39-42 we read, Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!”  When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Jesus paid the price for our sins; He paid for our freedom. Don’t we owe it to Him to stop trying to live our life on our own and allow Him to have His way……

He carried the cross. He can carry your baggage!!!

Cindy Montgomery, New Beginnings Outreach Ministries

Perplexed But Not Desperate

2 Corinthians 4:4-16

I had the privilege to speak in church a few weeks ago.  I say privilege because any time I get to talk about Jesus it’s exciting.  I love sharing the love and blessings He has poured out on me with others.  Although, I have to step out of my comfort zone because I am not a public speaker; when the Lord lays something on my heart I feel like I’m going to burst and I push through the feelings of not wanting to talk in front of a group because I know it’s what He’s asking me to do.  I choose to be obedient because He sufficiently broke me, which is a good thing, and all I want is to walk in obedience the rest of my days.

But, since the day after I spoke, January 25, 2017, to be exact I have been attacked, beaten down and targeted from all sides and every angle.  I have been sick physically as well as many other issues.   This has caused me to use my most proven battle tactic and a phrase I tell myself is the best thing to do during times of crisis, “Stop, Drop and PRAY!!!

Even though I have been seeking Him and trusting Him to work all these things out for good.  I feel a bit overwhelmed.  Just when I think I’ve got this down, I have to suffer through some more growing pains.  Which is never pleasant.  The enemy will sometimes come at us from a different front too.  And then what, foreign territory.  An attack we weren’t expecting and from out of nowhere.  What do we do?

We praise God for teaching and instructing us and allowing us to grow in a new area.  We tell the enemy of this world that although this is new territory for us, it is not new territory for our Father.  We don’t allow the enemy of this world to gain ground in our lives and we keep our eyes on Jesus.

I was feeling perplexed which means 1. Filled with confusion or bewilderment; puzzled.  2. Full of complications or difficulty; involved.* adjective puzzled, confused, stumped, baffled, bewildered, mixed up, muddled, bemused, confounded, mystified, fazed, dumfounded, nonplussed, befuddled, flummoxed. Mentally uncertain addled, adulated, confounded, confused, muddle-headed, turbid.

Then I realized it was time to take a stand with a boldness of the Holy Spirit that the Lord has filled me with.  Verse 8 in 1 Corinthians 4, tells me that even though I am perplexed I am not driven to despair.  And that even though I am pressed on every side by troubles I will not be crushed.  If you believe Gods word to be truth then you have to believe this, receive this and stand on this.

I am choosing to stand up, even though I have felt like sitting down.  I am choosing to raise up my shield of faith. And through that act I will be protected from ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one, (see Ephesians 6).  Even as I write this, my perplexed feeling is fading and a feeling of strength is rising up within me, because God has promised to give strength to the weak. Remember,…… we are fragile, God is not,  we are weak, God is not, we are broken, God is not, we are lost, we are troubled, we are bruised and desperate, but God is not. Therefore, we have overcome all these things because we are made perfect in HIM.

I decided to share this because God deserves all glory!!!  And just when the enemy thinks I’m getting defeated I will stand up and claim a victory for the Lord!!!  Our eyes should not rest on our current troubles but on the promises of our Father and the certain victory that awaits.

Pray with me.  Father God, Let your Holy Spirit fill us up to overflowing with a boldness, with a peace and with courage and strength.  Let us feel Your presence settle on us and saturate us through and through.  Even though we face difficulties in this life, use these circumstances to mold us into people you can use to bring you glory.  Give us wisdom and discernment to know how to handle these situations and struggles in a way that is pleasing to you.  Your word tells us, You did not make us with a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.  Let us rest in and believe on those words as we face life’s problems.  Let us place all our trust in You.  In Jesus Precious Name We Pray, Amen.

Cindy Montgomery, New Beginnings Outreach Ministries, Women’s Ministry Leader

Living in the Light

1 John 1:5-7, in the NIV says, This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

Have you ever been surrounded by total darkness.  I mean literally total darkness.  It’s something we don’t often experience.  There’s usually some form of light making its way into the darkness.  Either the moon, a street light or the light from a distant house or oncoming vehicle.  There are occasions however, where we find ourselves surrounded by a total blackout.  I’ve been there; feeling my way along a wall for that much sought after light switch.  Or in the event of a power outage, for candle and matches or a flashlight, because suddenly we are in desperate need of a source of light.

When we choose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior suddenly He becomes our source of light. I think of it like this.  If we are standing in the dark with our eyes closed and the light is turned on.  We won’t see the light unless we open our eyes.  The same thing happens when we receive Jesus.  The light of the Lord will shine into our lives but if we fail to open the eyes of our heart we won’t be able to see His light.   The light will be there but we won’t be taking advantage of it.  We have to learn to shed our old habits and let God have full access to our lives if we want some necessary changes to occur and develop a habit of living in His light.

I was one of those people who chose Jesus, but then walked around in darkness. It wasn’t complete darkness; not a total blackout, but I had just enough light to see.  I decided what areas of my life I was going to share with God, instead of letting Him have access to every part of me.  I wasn’t able to accept His forgiveness and accept the truth; He cares about every part of me.  Even the broken parts.  Those parts I was ashamed of and wanted to keep in the dark, God desired to shine His light in those areas and fix my brokenness.

We allow things like shame, complacency, pride, addiction, oppression, chaos, judgmental attitudes, disbelief, misunderstandings, and low self-esteem, should I go on? To simmer in our lives.  All of these things, all these lies, these imperfections are not of God and it is not in His plan for our life.  Those things are darkness and in Him these is no darkness.  By learning to allow Him to shine in every area of our life He exposes hidden sin, lies we have believed and all the things we struggle with. He wants us to invite Him in to those area, exposing everything with light and He cleans up the mess.

Are we being completely honest with ourselves about our fellowship with Him? It can become a way of life to lie to ourselves about the condition of our relationship with our Savior.  We can become complacent.  Are we living in truth, or is our life shrouded in false truths?  In how much darkness are we walking?  I believe by reading these verses in 1 John no amount of darkness should be acceptable to us as believers, we should strive to be in and of the Light.

After much prayer and self-examination I now choose to walk in the light, I now choose to walk in the truth, I choose to face God full on and trust me it’s a beautiful picture.  Turning to face Him, exposing all the areas of my life, allowing Him to have complete and total access and spending time to make sure He is first, is the best decision I could ever have made for my relationship with my Savior. It was a process.  And it’s a choice I have to make every day because I am stubborn, I get distracted very easily and I get lazy.  Thankfully he doesn’t see my failures and imperfections. I know, I am a work in progress and His word says, He delights in me!

Begin to speak positive things into your own life.  Say and believe, I decree and declare, I am a child of God.  I am marked and sealed in Him.  I am precious in His eyes. He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.   I believe He is the light of the world and in Him there is no darkness at all.   I will surrender every part of my life to Him.  Empty me out of me and fill me up with you God!!!

Here’s the thing….Jesus died on the cross for you (and me).  He didn’t die so we could walk around saved yet stumbling along in the darkness.  He not only wants the lost to be saved, He wants the saved to live in victory.  Victory won’t come unless you expose the lies, unless you stop trying to do this life on your own and realize He is what gives our lives beauty and meaning; HE IS LIFE!!!  He knows all the secrets you carry, he has already seen every dark corner but He wants you to invite Him to turn on the Light.

You are the desire of His heart, make Him the desire of yours and let His light shine in!!!

Cindy Montgomery, New Beginning’s Outreach Ministry Women’s Leader

JESUS

Jesus, God’s Son, sent as His gift to the world.  His gift to each of us.  How many times we’ve heard His name.  But, just how often do we stop, really stop and drink it all in. And think about His life…..

His birth was foretold through many prophecies in the Old Testament including Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (KJV)

Most people whether you’re a parent or not have held a newborn infant in their arms.  Jesus, was once a newborn infant tiny, fragile and he smelled like a new baby.  He cried when he was hungry or uncomfortable just like every other baby ever born.  His mother, experienced the emotion of holding her child for the first time.  She looked down into his tiny little face and fell in love. I’m sure the magnitude of the importance this child would play on the world was in her mind……. But I also can imagine as she looked into that tiny face she simply saw her infant son.

Her baby would be named Jesus because an angel had told Joseph this when he appeared to Mary’s betrothed.  So on the baby’s eighth day of life according the Law in Leviticus 12, He was taken to the temple by Mary and Joseph, circumcised and officially given the name Jesus.  Also, according to this law they were to present a year old lamb for burnt offering for the purification process.  If she cannot afford a lamb she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons.  In Luke 24, God’s word tells us Jesus parents presented two doves or two young pigeons for the burnt offering.  It seems by this scripture that even though God could have chosen His son be born into the most wealthy and financially stable home in this world, He chose a humble family.  How profound, the Mother of the Savior of the world took the least expensive of the sacrifices.

He grew, and I’m sure in the eyes of His mother He grew quickly.  I imagine He experienced everything a toddler experiences, including bumps, bruises and mischief.  I wonder if Mary guarded Him ever more carefully because she knew He was God’s son.

The Bible doesn’t speak much about His adolescent years. But each year His family would travel three days from their home in Nazareth to Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of the Passover.  In Luke 2, he writes about what happened on the trip the year Jesus was twelve.  And to make a long story short, He was lost from His parents for three days.  And after looking everywhere they found Him in the temple.  I can just imagine, as a mother, Mary couldn’t decide whether to scoop Him up and hug Him or box His ears for scaring her so badly.  But Jesus answered, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know I was in my Father’s house?”  Jesus was Mary and Joseph’s child but He was God’s Son. In Luke 2:51, he tells us Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

When He was 30 He began His ministry, He was baptized by John and spent the next forty days fasting.  Then He was tempted and tempted and tempted again. But He stood strong and showed us that His battle was fought and won by using the words of His father.  And His faithfulness made Him stronger.

I don’t think there are big enough words to describe his ministry.  The beauty, the stories, the healing and miracles.  His teaching; we can read and re-read and each time learn and grow.  His parables impact our lives still today and can be compared to almost every situation we find ourselves in.  Seeking Him, desiring Him, having a passion for Him makes our lives worth living.

I think I will end there…..We should think on His life.  The Baby, The Child, The Man.  The Teacher, The Preacher, The Healer, The Master, Immanuel,  The Lamb of God, The Anointed One,  The Son of God, His gift to the World.  His gift to you.

 Cindy Montgomery, New Beginning’s Outreach Ministries Women’s Ministry Leader

Sink, Swim or Walk on the Water

Matthew 14:22-33 (NIV)

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Many times in my life I have felt like Peter.  Some time ago I made the decision to step out of the boat.  I no longer wanted to stay in that place of safety. (Anytime we choose to go deeper with God there are always some growing pains involved.)  I decided to get out and walk toward Jesus. The desire of my heart was to move closer and closer toward Him.  However, there was a time I began to feel myself sink.  Just like Peter, I doubted.  I doubted myself and, although it’s painful to admit, I doubted Him.  When the storm began raging the wind distracted me. But then He spoke in that familiar voice and got my attention; He reached out took a hold of my hand and pulled me back up.

There was another time I started to sink, but this time He remained silent for just a bit.  He knew there was something in me that had to be accomplished.  Once I sank down deep enough I had to start swimming. I flailed around, struggling to keep my head above water.  It felt like I was swimming forever.  I just couldn’t quite figure out how to get myself back up on the surface of the water. What was Jesus doing while I was battling the waves and current?

I believe He was watching and waiting on me.  Waiting for me to surrender and stop fighting.  To realize how tiring it is to try and do life on my own.  Waiting for that moment when He knew I was ready to stop trying to save myself and take His hand.

It’s those times in our life God uses to grow our faith.  When we learn to rely on Him and seek Him in the good times and the bad; whether the sun is out or we’re in the midst of a terrible storm. To declare that He is the Lord of each and every part of our lives.

After we go through the sink and swim process, this is where it gets really good. Walking on the water.  To trust Him and not doubt, to have courage and not be afraid.  Once we learn Jesus is all we need, walking on water come as naturally as walking on solid ground.  The distractions of the wind and waves, those distractions of the world fade away in the power of His presence.

If you choose to stay in the boat your relationship with Him won’t grow deeper. If you want to develop that personal connection you have to go to Him. But remember without Him we sink, we swim and eventually we drown.

Your courage comes when you place all your trust in Him.  Get out of the boat, take His hand and walk.

Cindy Montgomery, New Beginnings Outreach Ministries, Women’s Leader

 

 

One More Night with The Frogs

Exodus 8:1-14

When visualizing this passage of scripture one cannot help but to imagine the stink and the filth as well as the misery of frogs being everywhere the Egyptians turned; in their beds, baths, ovens, closets as there was no way of getting away from them everywhere they turned were frogs. But the ironic thing about this story is that when Moses asked Pharaoh when he wanted him to pray that the frogs would go away Pharaoh’s response was tomorrow. God was willing, able and had desire to get rid of the Frogs that day but Pharaoh chose tomorrow. This writing is not to expound on Pharaoh and his frogs this writing is to ask you what are the frogs that are on, around, beside, and inside, you and your life. Things that have you in bondage, that have been plaguing your life, things that keep you messed up spiritually, emotionally and physically. God is saying to you I am willing to set you free, able to set you free and you go to church, you do some right things, but you hold on to that thing. You tell God I want to be free, I want the change, I want the best for my life but I want it tomorrow!

In 2008 Nike ran an ad campaign stating: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow. Today you are in yesterday’s tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation, today is the day you are going to begin the journey of ridding yourself of shame, guilt, regret, unforgiveness and today is the day you are going to step into the new things that God has for you, the thing that you have been telling yourself I will do it tomorrow. Why spend one more night with the Frogs in your life stuck in a moment. Today is your day! Seize it!

Barry Pelphrey, Senior Pastor New Beginnings Outreach Ministries

 

Facing Your Giant

We all have a giant in our life, some of us have more than one.  Giants are different for each person.  It can be a circumstance we are facing.  A recurring sin that we struggle to overcome.  An abuse we have suffered, a loss.  Actually the list goes on and on.

Giants can become overwhelming if we try to face them on our own.  We can become tired, hopeless and desperate.  Thankfully, we don’t have to face our giants by ourselves.  God has already helped people overcome many giants and He desires to help us add our names to the list of overcomers.  His word is filled with everything we need.  Stop feeling defeated and tap in to the resources that you have right in front of youWhat, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8:31 NIV

I’m going to suggest to you 4 steps when facing your giant:

  1. Pray- Surrender you giants to God. He already knows every giant you’re facing but calling it out and surrendering it to God is all about you. It’s getting your mind in the right place to start working through the situation.  Confronting it and calling it out is the first step in slaying your giant.  The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 17:47 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.  Meet your giant head on.

Consistent daily prayer and quiet time with the Lord is essential if we are serious about this.  Jesus often slipped away and spent time alone in pray.  If it was important for Him how much more important is it for us?  Be bold in your prayers.  Praying is serious business.  It can determine whether we are weak or powerful.  How can we expect to have a relationship with our Father and have a powerful life if we never talk to Him.

  1. Plan– Form a plan of attack. If you are doing battle with a giant, possibly more than one giant, becoming overwhelmed is not uncommon. Sit down with God and talk about it.  Don’t just ask Him to fix it.  Ask Him for wisdom, discernment and supernatural insight.  God sees our situations differently than we see them, so ask Him to guide you through this process.  James 1:5 says,” If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

He may direct you to a particular scripture.  He may help you write a prayer tailored just for your battle.  There could be a brother or sister in Christ that you should ask to stand in agreement for a victory and pray with you.  Forming an organized plan of attack will help you gain strength and become more powerful against your enemy.

  1. Persist– Be persistent- Breakthroughs can happen quickly or they can take a long time. But don’t give up. God’s word says, With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.  Ephesians 6:18 (AMP)

As you face your giant you may have small victories along the way, battles fought and battles won; you might fight through some things before you giant is completely defeated.  These struggles make us stronger and, when handled His way, they also bring God glory.

  1. Peace– Find Peace. True peace is something only God can give us. Find this place of peace as you ride out this storm.  Learn to accept His timing and even in the midst of a battle we can have that peace that passes all understanding.  Philippians 4:7 says, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

**Most of us tend to focus on our problems. But, it steals our joy and contentment and controls our life.   Remember there’s not a problem we face that is too big for our God. Getting down on our knees will cause us to rise up in our spirit.  Stop trying to face your giant alone. Seek God in your struggle.  Trust Him to arm you will all the ammunition you need and be bold. II Timothy 1:7 says, “God did not make us with a spirit of fear, but of power of love and a sound mind.

 Cindy Montgomery, Women’s Leader New Beginning’s Outreach Ministries