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Rivers of Impossibility

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But He brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land He promised on oath to our ancestors. Deuteronomy 6:23

I wanted to write a post about things in life that block us from getting to where God wants to take us. I wanted to write about impossible things like… infertility, lack of finances, not being recognized for promotion, or not being within God’s timing. I wanted to blame our inability to access our blessing on our circumstances. I wanted to make the connection between us and God’s people who stood on the bank of the Jordan River looking at the raging current wondering how God was going to bring them into their Promised Land. I wanted a simple formula that would get us all through. That’s what I wanted to write.

Instead I sensed God wanting me to write about a personal time when I stood on the edge of a raging current wondering if I could ever pass through it.

Here’s my story:

It started when I was fifteen and came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Afterward I tried to live for Him. Sometimes I did it very well; other times I failed miserably. By the time I was in my twenties I settled into what I call a “fence sitting” Christian life. Comfortably I sat with one foot firmly planted in the kingdom of God and the other foot firmly planted in the world. I liked my comfortable place where I could be both worldly and Christian at the same time. What I didn’t like were the bouts of shame and guilt that came as a result of my sinful ways.

All the while I knew God had something better for me, but I was unwilling to step out into the raging current called obedience. The enemy convinced me that a life of obedience wouldn’t be fun. I bought his lie hook line and sinker.

Luckily God wasn’t willing to leave me there. He didn’t bring me out of sin and darkness to leave me wandering in my own homemade wilderness. So He orchestrated some events that led me to the edge of decision.

I’ll never forget the Sunday morning I sat in church and listened as the pastor challenged me to make a decision to go all in. Ironically in the car ride home Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “Dive”, played on the radio and I belted out the words:

I’m diving in, I’m going deep, in over my head I want to be Caught in the rush, tossed in the flow, in over my head I want to go The river’s deep, the river’s wide, the river’s water is alive So sink or swim, I’m diving in

Despite the raging water I dove in. I decided I wanted the better life God had for me more than my comfortable position on the fence. Pushing past my self-made barrier I gave God my whole life and haven’t looked back.

As the Israelites stood on the bank of the Jordan knowing that God’s blessing was waiting for them on the other side of the raging river I believe each person had to come to a similar place. They all had to move past self-made barriers of doubt and fear of the unknown. With God’s presence going before them each man had to step out in faith believing God would hold back the current.

While the Israelites faced a real river of impossibility you and I also face barriers that lodge themselves in the way of where God wants to take us. Some are self-made like mine, others aren’t. No matter what they are, they aren’t impassible if God wants to take us someplace.

It doesn’t take faith to stay comfortable, but it takes great faith to follow God into the deep waters of uncharted territory.

Do you need to make the jump? Go ahead… focus your eyes on God’s presence and ignore the raging waters of doubt. Jump in the water’s fine!

Sheree

By |September 28th, 2014|4 Comments|

Sneak Peek

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Dear God,

I sense you calling me into something new. But… can you give me a few more details, a sneak peek so that I can know for sure?

Thanks! XOXO

This may not be our exact prayer, but we’ve all at least thought it!

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase,” and Stormie Omartain has written an entire book called, “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On”. Both speak to our desperate desire of wanting to know more than we do about the places God is taking us.

As Christians we know that faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we don’t yet see. (Hebrews 1:11) We know we are supposed to have that kind of faith, but most of us would love a glimpse into the future to give us the confidence we need to step into the new places God leads us to.

The truth is, sometimes God gives us a sneak peek and sometimes He requires blind faith. This week I believe He gave me a sneak peek through the story of Joshua sending over two spies to check out Jericho. (Joshua 2) If you find yourself at the threshold of something new keep reading.

As two million people sat on the bank of the Jordan gathering their supplies and waiting for God’s word to move, Joshua was secretly waiting for a report of what to expect once they got there. Three days later he got the report. The two spies told a tale of the walled off city, a prostitute named Rehab who unexpectedly protected them, of hiding for three days undetectable by their enemy and ultimately of the fear their enemy had about their impending arrival. Joshua received the glimpse he needed for the confidence to step out in faith.

If you find yourself sitting on the bank waiting for a report before you take the next big step I believe this story holds the sneak peek you need to step out in confidence. Below is the report God has given on your next step.

Here’s your sneak peek into the future as told by the two spies:

  1. Yes, the place God is taking you is walled off by your enemy. But… THERE ISN’T A WALL GOD CAN’T BRING DOWN IF IT’S WHERE HE IS TAKING YOU! God has a plan to get you in and He is able to hide you in unexpected ways. The spies never dreamed God would use a prostitute to help them. You and I can’t even imagine how He will orchestrate our help.
  2. While the enemy has issued a “seek and destroy” order on our mission, God will hide us from his efforts. It’s no coincidence the spies were hidden for three days undetectable by their enemy. Think about… Jesus was dead for three days and it looked like the enemy won- but three days later He rose from the dead conquering sin and death. While our enemy would love to seek and destroy our mission, he is fighting a losing battle. AS YOU AND I STEP TOWARD THE THINGS GOD CALLS US TO, WE HAVE TO REMEMBER… THE ENEMY IS ALREADY DEFEATED AND HE KNOWS IT! No matter how close he gets to us, we are under God’s protection.
  3. Our next move is bigger than we think. You and I are such small thinkers. We are so focused on the here and now that we fail to see God’s bigger picture. OUR NEXT MOVE – OUR EVERY STEP- IS ABOUT MORE THAN JUST US! The spies went to check out their competition, or so they thought. Their real mission was to bring salvation to a prostitute and her family. Yes, God takes us to new places. And in those places He expects us to bring the message of His salvation to those who are marked for destruction.

 

If you have been waiting for a sneak peek before you take a step into the unknown place you sense God leading you, here it is…

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

 

It’s the great commission most of us omit from our decision making process. We want to see the safety of our next step and God wants us to see the greater mission in that step.

Go ahead- take the step – God’s got your back!  But… don’t lose sight of the real reason He’s moving you up the ladder. When you get there don’t be tempted to view it as just your next step to a bigger better thing. There’s a purpose for each step and lost souls along the way. God is positioning you in places to bring hope to those marked for destruction.

Let’s step out together. If you’ve been waiting for the green light share a comment of how this message has encouraged you to take the next step.

Sheree

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By |September 17th, 2014|1 Comment|

Are We There Yet?

Madison

 

It was 1971 when my family moved from California to Georgia. I’ll never forget the long car trip and my mother’s response to my incessant whining, “Are we there yet?” No matter how many times I asked, she always answered, “We’ll be there when you see red dirt, green grass growing all the way to the street, rolling hills and trees everywhere.” Her description painted a stark contrast to the desert like landscape I had known. I couldn’t wait to see this place she so fondly described.

Can I confess something to you?

Sometimes I still feel like the little girl in the back seat asking, “Are we there yet?” God is in the driver seat. He knows where we are headed, and like my mother, He has painted a beautiful picture of the place He is taking me.

Interestingly I’ve noticed I’m not the only one who’s asking the question. Many of the women I meet and counsel also express frustration in not being where they thought they would be. They too long for the better life God promises.

Like a mirage that disappears the closer you get to it; the “good life” we envisioned is always shifting just past our reach.

As I consider the probabilities of why God has so many of us in a waiting season I can’t help but think about the promise God gave Abraham of a land He would give to him and his descendants. Four hundred years after His promise to Abraham they finally got close enough to send some men to check it out. Sure enough God’s description was accurate; the land flowed with milk and honey. But, much to their surprise it was also filled with giants.

Instantly the problem shifted from a timing issue to a possession issue. God’s timing had finally arrived, but if they wanted it… they would have to fight for it. Unfortunately the first generation that was given the opportunity to fight retreated in fear. Forty years later their kids came to the same place ready to fight.

All this has made me reconsider the journey we are on. Could it be that our issue has shifted from a timing issue to a possession issue and we didn’t even realize it? Is it possible that God has already brought us to the River Jordan only to have us push pause on our own journey?

I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly what I’ve done in my journey. After coming a long way and encountering a few giants I inadvertently pressed pause retreating in fear.

But, and it’s a big but… I’ve resolved to not let another generation do what my generation has been given the task to do. I’m going in for battle to take what rightfully belongs to me. And I’d like to invite you to do the same.

Over the next ten weeks I am going to be blogging about Israel’s fight to take their Promised Land from the giants who held its possession. I believe the answers we need to move forward will be found in the example God gave us through their story.

As God told Joshua in the first chapter of his book, “Moses is dead. Now then, you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give them.”

Are you ready to fight? I am by no means Joshua… but I’m ready to lead the charge. I’m ready to “Be strong and courageous!”

If this post has caused the warrior in you to want to rise up against the giants who threaten your inheritance, leave a comment and make a declaration. Let’s go to battle together!

Sheree

PS: If you’ve happened on this blog and are not a regular subscriber I hope you’ll decide to be one. Please take a minute to subscribe so you don’t miss my weekly posts.

By |September 11th, 2014|13 Comments|

You’re Hired

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But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

1 Peter 2:9-12 (The Message Translation)

 

You may not think you applied for the job, but when you said yes to God’s offer of salvation you were automatically hired as one of His representatives.

I know what you’re probably thinking because it’s what I think, too: the job is overwhelming, and I’m not qualified. But God’s Word not only assures us that He can use us despite our inadequacies, it also gives us many examples of how He used ordinary men and women just like us.

One of my favorite Bible stories of God using an ordinary man as His representative to accomplish great things is that of Elijah. James 5:17 tells us that he was an ordinary man who prayed that it would not rain, and it didn’t for three and a half years. His prayer made a bold statement to a nation that needed to know the one true God who controls everything, including the rain.

Elijah’s bold faith wasn’t easy to live out. His prediction for no rain caused him to be a wanted man. There was a price to pay, but in the end a nation saw the God Elijah represented.

Making a stand for God sometimes puts us in vulnerable situations. Mentioning the name of Jesus in a workplace environment these days can cost you your job. Mentioning Him at a dinner party with casual friends can cause you to be ostracized from the group.

Most Christians wish they could see miraculous answers to their prayers like Elijah did when he prayed for no rain. We want bold lives that reflect God’s glory to an unbelieving world. However, most of us are unwilling to take our job as Christ’s representatives seriously. Instead of standing up for what we believe, we quietly blend into the crowd around us.

God doesn’t’ call everyone to pray and believe for a three and a half year drought. He doesn’t ask everyone to quit their job and go into fulltime ministry like He did me. But He does ask all Christians to share the hope that is within them.

Here are 3 key steps we have to take in order for others to see Christ through us:

  1. Speak up- Someone was brave enough to tell you about Christ, share the gift.
  2. Watch how you live- Whether you realize it or not people are watching how you live out your faith and as a byproduct they are judging the God you serve by the life you live.
  3. Decide it’s worth the cost- We all want to hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Realizing those words come when we’ve actually done something to deserve them should help us to decide it’s worth the cost.

You’ve been chosen to represent God here on earth. As you set out to make Him known don’t forget that His best representatives have all been ordinary people just like you who simply decided to let His glory shine through their lives.

Shine On My Friends!

Sheree

By |August 5th, 2014|2 Comments|

When Your Brook Dries Up

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It happens to all of us at some point in life. Everything is going along just fine and then one day we notice things are starting to change. We hear rumors of downsizing, notice a nagging health issue or sense things are different in a relationship. We thought we had our lives figured out and suddenly our life’s stream has been dialed down to a trickle and the thing we have learned to count on eventually dries up. Now what? Will we trust God, or trust the thing we’ve become accustomed to?

 

Sometime later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 1 Kings 17:7

Elijah knew this predicament well. God had led him to the Brook of Kerith sometime earlier.  Things had gone well there. The ravens had fed him and the brook had provided much needed water during the drought; but it too eventually dried up.

When our streams turn to a trickle, it is sometimes God’s way of closing one door in our lives to prepare us for what’s next. Other times God wants to know that we will trust Him when it looks like we can’t. How will we react when we watch our provision shrink, our health deteriorate or our relationships falling apart?  Will we trust God even when we don’t see the evidence of His help? Will we move on without His direction?

Elijah didn’t move on until God told him to. He didn’t try to solve his own problem and he didn’t complain about it either. He simply trusted God and waited.

Trusting in God’s provision and His timing are perhaps two of the hardest things to do especially when what we’ve become accustomed to fades away.

If you’re brook is drying up I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have I wrongly trusted something other than God?
  2. Am I resting in His timing or my own logic?
  3. Has He given me the green light to move on?
  4. Am I willing to stay where I am until He says move?
  5. Am I complaining about my situation?

 

The Kerith Brook had dried up, but God’s supernatural provision for Elijah didn’t; it just changed locations. When God told Elijah to move on to Zarephath he provided a widow there who would feed him.

Our brooks may dry up, and it may seem like God waits to the very last second to lead us to our next place of provision, but it’s in trusting Him that we will see the miracle of His provision.

Blessings,

Sheree

By |July 16th, 2014|0 Comments|

Pharaoh’s Who Launch Us

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I’ve had the privilege of meeting several high profile Christian authors and speakers, and I whenever I do I always ask the same question. “How did you launch your ministry?” I want to know, because I want a formula for success.

Each time I’ve asked the question I gotten a similar answer, “I finally quit trying to make it happen.” When I’ve pressed them to elaborate each has told a story of working hard trying to get noticed only to wind up frustrated. The key to their success was not in their ability to make it happen, but rather in their determination to serve God with their gifts where He had them. Eventually someone noticed them.

Joseph knew what it was like to serve faithfully for many years without being noticed. As a former slave, then prisoner, he faithfully served those around him with little recognition.

He was desperate to see his dreams come true and unable to make them happen on his own. 

We’ve heard it said it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. In Joseph’s case it wasn’t who he knew, but who knew him. When Joseph’s former cell mate heard that Pharaoh had questions concerning a dream he knew just who to call. That day Pharaoh launched Joseph into his dream. Instantly he went from prisoner to second in command of all Egypt.

So, how do we get a Pharaoh to notice us? Here are 4 steps to Joseph’s formula for success:

  1. Realize it has nothing to do with you. As a slave, then prisoner, Joseph had no other choice. He couldn’t make it happen. Despite our freedom, we really can’t either.
  2. Consider the options where you are today. Instead of focusing on your future hopes and dreams and being frustrated because they haven’t happened, focus on what you can do today. If you aren’t serving faithfully where God has you today, who’s going to notice you?
  3. Give your dream back to God. He gave it to you- now give it back to Him and allow Him to work it out. It’s so much easier that way!
  4. Trust God’s timing. When the time is right God will orchestrate our meeting with Pharaoh.

While I haven’t arrived at my dream of being a published author and national speaker I have seen some major progress. In each step toward my dream I’ve had to follow Joseph’s example before God has sent a “Pharaoh” with a need that I was created to fill.

As you wait on your dreams I encourage you to ask yourself these questions: What need were you created to fill? Who is watching you? Will they have something to say about you when God sends a Pharaoh with a need that you were created to fill?

 

Blessings,

Sheree

By |July 9th, 2014|1 Comment|

Prisons That Hold Us Back

Prison

 

I’ve been in prison and I don’t mind talking about it. Of course I was wrongly accused, but that didn’t lesson my sentence. It was a dark lonely place, and no. . . I’m not actually talking about jail. Instead I’m talking about a season of feeling stuck, held back, and overlooked. No doors were opening, no opportunities were surfacing, and there didn’t seem to be a way out.

 

Perhaps I’ve exaggerated a little. But who doesn’t know what it feels like to be passed up for a promotion, overlooked in a relationship, forgotten, or just plain stuck? Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to move on we can’t.

Joseph knew what it felt like to be stuck, only his prison was a literal one. He found himself sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit and stuck behind bars that held him back from the dreams God gave him.

However, in the midst of his misery came a glimmer of hope when two unlikely cell mates showed up with dreams of their own. After correctly interpreting their dreams, Joseph asked that he would be remembered. Eventually, after two long years, Joseph was remembered and the kindness he had shown his former cell mate led to not only his release—but also to the fulfillment of his dream (Genesis 39-41).

Joseph’s prison story gives us some great examples of how to handle ourselves in the prisons that hold us back from our dreams. Below are three attributes Joseph exhibited while stuck in prison:

1) Do your best where you are. Scripture tells us Joseph found favor with the prison warden and was put in charge of all the prisoners and everything that went on there. When his release finally came he walked away with both leadership skills and a good referral if he ever needed it.

2) Think of others’ needs. Joseph immediately noticed the anguish of the cup bearer and the baker. He took initiative to share his gift of dream interpretation. In the end, his unsolicited kindness paid off.

3) Give God credit. Joseph didn’t take credit for interpreting the dreams, instead he gave all the credit to God. Self-promoters rely on their own abilities. God-promoters have the pleasure of watching God do miraculous things in their lives.

If you are stuck in a “prison” with seemingly no way out, I encourage you to follow Joseph’s example. God can do great things with a person who is willing to make the most of the harshest situation. I know because He has done it in my life over and over again.

Don’t let your prison experience keep you bound in discouragement. Choose today to trust God’s timing.

 

By |June 30th, 2014|1 Comment|

Palaces That Prepare Us

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Is it just me, or have you ever wondered what happened after Cinderella and Prince Charming rode off into the sunset? As a little girl I bought the happily- ever-after ending hook line and sinker; as a grown woman I know what palace life is really like.

Despite what my real life experiences have taught me, I still get caught off guard when my expectations fall short of my reality.

I’ll never forget the day I landed my first full time job in ministry. I thought I had arrived. For years I had dreamed of what it would be like to work for God. I knew the job wasn’t my final destination, but it sure felt like I was finally at my happily ever after. My head was full of all the wonderful things I was going to do for God now that He had brought me to my palace, so to speak. Needless to say, palace life has been harder than I expected.

Lately I’ve been studying the life of Joseph and I’ve wondered if he too might have grappled to reconcile his expectations with his reality. Obviously he must have been disappointed when his brothers sold him as a slave. But I wonder what he thought when he was purchased by Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, and put in charge of his entire household. Could he have thought, Someone has finally recognized my potential; I’m finally at a place where my dreams could come true?

If you know Joseph’s story then you know Potiphar’s palace was only another step in his journey. Yes, it was a place where he would gain valuable leadership experience but also a place where his character would be tested. Which makes me wonder, could our dream job be more about our preparation than happily ever after?

There’s something deep within us that yearns for the happy ending. I believe we can experience joy during the journey by remembering these three truths:

  1. This is not our final destination; all of life is preparing us for the ultimate happy ending when we meet Jesus face to face.
  2. There will be tests. Make no mistake. . . our dream job, dream marriage, and dream life will bring challenges to test us. (Thankfully they are all open book tests; the Bible gives us the answers we need!)
  3. What we do with the gap between expectation and reality determines our level of satisfaction. We choose our response when life doesn’t turn out the way we expected. Joseph’s life story gives us an excellent example of how to move past our past and toward the ultimate call of God on our lives. In the end he considered it more valuable that God’s will was done than his comfort compromised.

What palace is God using to prepare you? Are you passing the tests, or has your chosen response kept you from enjoying the journey? If I’m honest, I have to admit that the gap between my expectation and my reality caught me off guard. I haven’t passed all of the tests. But today I’m determined to consider God’s will more valuable than my own comfort. I choose joy in the midst of my circumstances and I thank God that He is still preparing me for the ultimate happy ending.

 

Sharing the journey of faith,

Sheree

By |June 25th, 2014|5 Comments|

Pitfalls And Dreams

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Shouldn’t your God-given dream, purpose, or calling come easy?

Seven years ago God gave me a huge dream for ministry. In it I saw myself on stage in a big arena preaching His word and making a great impact for His kingdom. I thought, Watch out Beth Moore here I come! Seven years have passed and so far no big arena, which often leaves me wondering why God gave me such a big dream.

I wish my story was unique, but I meet frustrated dreamers all the time. So why does God give us big dreams and then let us fall into pits of hopelessness over them?

 

One of my favorite Bible stories is about a dreamer named Joseph. God gave him a big dream in which his brothers bowed down to him. The next thing he knew, his jealous brothers threw him in a pit, sold him into slavery, and then he was hauled off to Egypt. I’m sure this wasn’t the outcome he expected.

After studying Joseph’s life and comparing it to mine, I’ve come to realize that a big dream is often what God gives us to get us moving in the right direction.  I have to admit that I wouldn’t have left my successful secular career for anything less than a big dream. In Joseph’s case, Egypt was the right direction and the pit was just the first stop.

I believe every dreamer can make their way out of the pit and back onto the road toward their dream by learning from these three pitfalls:

1) Thinking it’s going to be easy. This is the biggest trap the enemy sets and the place most dreamers quit. Don’t give up! It’s worth the fight or God wouldn’t have given you the dream in the first place!

2) Thinking others will support your dream. Joseph’s lack of support from his brothers was what catapulted him in the right direction even though it may have seemed like the wrong direction.

3) Thinking hardships aren’t part of the process. Joseph faced many hardships before his dream ever came true. These hardships shaped his character so he could be the right person for his God-given dream.

Today if you find yourself stuck in a pit with your God-given dream looming so far ahead that it seems impossible to reach, just remember you are one step closer to it today than you were yesterday!

Keep dreaming my friends!

Sheree

 

By |June 16th, 2014|4 Comments|

My Golden Gate Experience

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On a recent trip to San Francisco I heard a sermon that changed my life. Not to be corny, but I believe it’s the golden gate that I’ve needed to cross over in order to reach my destiny and I want to share my experience with you.

The sermon was on bitterness and unforgiveness, a problem I didn’t think I had. However, the clue that told me different was when the pastor asked, “Are you rehearsing, rehashing or replaying an offense?” It was the bullet between my eyes so to speak. Immediately I recounted several recent conversations. Indeed I had a problem with bitterness and unforgiveness.

So how was I blinded from seeing the realization of my predicament? I didn’t see it because my bitterness and un-forgiveness was not directed at any one person or event. Instead it was the result of my season of life in which I’ve felt forgotten by God, held back and over looked. Without realizing it my rehearsing, rehashing and replaying of the past few years of disappointments had rendered me bitter. (I’m just keeping it real!)

The sermon was from the life of Joseph, a story I know well so I almost tuned out. What hit me was when the pastor talked about the names Joseph gave his two sons. The first, Manasseh, which means, “God has made me forget all my trouble.” And the second Ephraim, which means, “God has blessed me in my land of affliction.”

As I reflected on my last three years and what started it all, (my battle with cancer), it feels like a bad dream that didn’t really happen. God is helping me forget my trouble. While cancer has come and gone other problems have come and stayed and I’ve continue to live in a land of affliction. Even so, God has blessed me with much fruit in the land of my affliction.

Upon further reflection of Joseph’s story I noted that his sons were born after he became second in command of Egypt, but before his brothers showed up. Part of Joseph’s dream had come true- his sheaves of grain had risen and his brothers were suffering the effects of the drought. The total fulfillment of the dream with his brother’s bowing to him was right around the corner.  Yet before his dream was completely realized, he had made peace with God and his lot in life.

Joseph’s famous words, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”, rang in my ears. My bitterness toward my season of life had kept me from seeing that God intended to use it for the saving of many lives. I didn’t have a band of brothers to forgive, I needed to forgive God. That was the golden gate I needed to cross. I needed to make peace with God and my lot in life.

Do you need to cross the golden gate of forgiveness and let go of bitterness? God can’t fulfill our dreams until we do.

Blessings,

Sheree

By |June 10th, 2014|11 Comments|