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Christian discipleship for women, God's love, Spiritual growth mindset for women, Prompted to pray

My Friend,


This past week my family and I attended a high school divisional track meet. It was freezing, but we enjoyed seeing so many talented athletes compete as we huddled under layers of blankets. Every once in a while our conversation there in the bleachers would be interrupted as we heard the bang from the starting gun, telling the anticipating athletes it was time to run. And off they’d go.


At one point during the hours of us sitting there, a friend and I found ourselves talking about her son and the encouragement he gave a friend. I mentioned something about him hearing God and responding to God’s nudge. It’s then my friend said something that to this day remains highlighted in my mind. She said, “When someone comes to mind, you pray.”


It was such a straightforward statement, bringing clarity and simplicity to something so powerful. You know what? I think I can handle responding to a little nudge like that - it’s something I can do. I can pray for someone when the Holy Spirit places them on my mind. And although this wasn’t a new revelation to me, it was a succinct reminder. Did you know the Holy Spirit helps us in this way?



Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the Helper. (Love that. God knows this girl can use all the help she can get!) Jesus went on to share a couple examples of what the Holy Spirit does, such as teaching us and reminding us of what He said. It shouldn’t surprise us that the Holy Spirit would bring people to mind, as well, so we can pray for them, partnering with Him as He helps them.



But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26 ESV


A week earlier I was at my children’s junior high track meet. I had walked down the length of the field to be closer to my daughter as she participated in the long jump. I was so focused on her that I wasn’t prepared when the gun went off for the 100-meter dash. It didn’t make matters any better that I just happened to be standing near the starting line. (That got the ole heart pumping! I’m pretty sure I experienced some sort of body spasm as well!)


I wasn’t ready for the signal that it was time for the runners to take off. I wasn’t listening for it. It makes me wonder how often I have missed the prompting of the Holy Spirit because I was focused on other things in life - I wasn’t anticipating Him communicating with me. I’m pretty sure that people have popped into my head before, and I just let them pass on through without a second thought or a prayer said for them. Has anyone come to your mind recently that seemed quite “random” to you? I’m guessing we both are going to be much more aware of who we are thinking about from now on, aren’t we?


Does this mean we just stand there and wait to pray until we are given the go-ahead? No. We need to be proactive in our prayer lives. What an honor and privilege to be able to come before God freely, often, and boldly. (Hebrews. 4:16) I have a list of people and things I talk to Him about regularly. I might even put a reminder on my phone to help prompt me. (Stole that idea from Sarah!) But what a tremendous comfort knowing that the Holy Spirit, who knows all and sees all, will put people on our hearts who need prayer - people we weren't previously aware of. What a gift!


You may have heard people say they had a sudden strong urge to pray for their children. Later they discovered that their children were protected in an accident that was occurring at that time. This is wonderful, and it happens. But often we experience a gentle nudge, not a strong urge. Also, when we pray for someone who comes to mind, we may never hear of how our prayer affected them. We may even ask them about “that day,” and they may say everything was fine, nothing noteworthy to report. We may want to go away from such a conversation thinking our prayer wasn’t needed or didn’t accomplish something. But it could quite well be that they had an unnoteworthy day BECAUSE of our prayer.


If we find someone on our mind without a reason for them being there, might we take a moment to pray for them. The Holy Spirit invites us to join Him in helping people through prayer. Don’t be surprised if after you’ve prayed for that person, if the Holy Spirit encourages you to call, text, write, or visit them, as well.


So the runners line up, ears tuned in, waiting for the gun to sound, telling them to run. As believers are we tuned in to the prompts of the Holy Spirit, encouraging us to pray for someone? Or are we too distracted by what’s happening on the sidelines to be prepared to listen for Him?


Lord,

I ask that You would help us to be aware of Your whispers. Help us to recognize when people come to our mind that have no earthly reason for being there. May we be ready to come before You with those we think of. May we be aware of the race we are in and be ready to receive prompts from You.


And Lord, I thank You for my friend. You are aware of her every need, care, and concern. I place her before You, knowing Your desire is to touch her with Your Presence and peace. Give her wisdom, protection, and strength for the race set before her, and may she run with joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


In the starting blocks,

Candace





Discipleship for women, when God prompts you to pray, Spiritual growth mindset for women, God's love





Want to learn how to walk wisely in these times? The enemy, that is Satan, is out to steal, kill and destroy. It is important to recognize his lies and identify how Satan will try to attack you. Find Christian growth mindset inspiration for women here and learn your identity in Christ to overcome. First love discipleship for women will encourage you every step of the way.
How to Identify the Enemy's Traps

Hello Friend!


April 1st fell on a school day this year. As I dropped my kids off at the bus, I told them, “Be wise. It’s April Fool’s Day.” And as the bus drove away I realized how crazy it was to encourage someone to be especially wise on one certain day of the year.


We need to be wise every day, don’t we? We have a real enemy, wanting to engage us and fool us, and it’s not the kid sitting next to us in class.


Conversations from over the past few months are flooding my mind right now. So many were tied to difficult things people were facing, their battles, their encounters with our enemy. The majority of those battles found their fighting ground on the acreage of their minds. Some people were immediately aware of what was going. Others had unknowingly swallowed lies and made them a part of their life. Be wise is what I had told my children…


Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16 ESV


Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her (wisdom), and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. Proverbs 4:5-6 ESV - Parenthesis - my addition


Looking back on my life and those conversations with others, I realize the attacks we face are often aimed at certain targets. Now this isn’t an exhaustive list, but I’d like to share a few of the main ones. Before I begin, there is something that a friend and I discussed that I’d like to share first.


During the battle, the enemy may use numerous arrows and a variety of kinds shot from different directions. We can get distracted by them as our attention is drawn to each one. But what is their target? My friend and I discovered we need to focus on where they are headed and protect the target instead of trying to stop each individual arrow. (How exhausting!) Now back to those targets...


A few basic targets:

Our Identity: Our enemy wants us to identify with our “old man” (who we were before Christ) or any identity that doesn’t line up with who God says we are. Christ died and rose again to provide us with a new identity among other things. (Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:6, I Peter 2:9) We are no longer identified with our sin but with His righteousness. We need to remind ourselves we are new creatures in Christ. (II Corinthians 5:17) Our behavior grows out of our identity, so WHO we believe ourselves to be is HUGE!


Our Future: God has good plans for our future. (Jeremiah 29:11) He created us and has things for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) The enemy will try to steal or destroy our future. He will try to distract us and get us to disqualify ourselves, or shrink back from what God is calling us to.


Our Past: Our enemy loves reminding us of every wrong we have ever committed. It’s hard for us to move forward with God when we are constantly looking backward, mourning our mistakes. (Philippians 3:13-14) If this is an area you are struggling in, ask God to help you fully receive the forgiveness Christ paid for you to have. (Isaiah 1:18, Psalm 103:12, Ephesians 1:7-8) Also, ask Him to help you forgive yourself.


Our Relationships: God refers to us as sheep in the Bible numerous times. Sheep are better protected when they stay with the flock. Don’t let the enemy convince you to battle alone. He wants to separate and isolate us from those we draw strength, encouragement, and wisdom from. He may tell you that you are just trying to draw from their strength and faith, and you really need to rely on yourself. Don’t fall for it. (Hebrews 10:24-25, I Thessalonians 5:11, Romans 1:12)


Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8 ESV


Want to learn how to walk wisely in these times? The enemy, that is Satan, is out to steal, kill and destroy. It is important to recognize his lies and identify how Satan will try to attack you. Find Christian growth mindset inspiration for women here and learn your identity in Christ to overcome. First love discipleship for women will encourage you every step of the way.
How to identify the enemy's traps

Not sure if you are in a battle? Here are a few clues:

Fear: This is a big clue. Are you feeling a paralyzing or underlying fear? Or maybe you are being driven by it? It doesn’t matter what is the reason or cause of it, fear is not from God. If you are living under it, ask a friend to pray with you and thank God that His desire is to free you from it. (II Timothy 1:7, Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:6-7)


Condemnation: Another one of his calling cards is condemnation. Are you weighed down by shame? Our enemy loves putting shame on us for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Watch for it. He will give a good argument why you should feel bad - we did, afterall, do those things. But Christ! His blood washed us clean. (Romans 8:1, John 3:18, Ephesians 2:8-9, I John 1:9)


Confusion: The enemy’s presence breeds confusion, not clarity and peace. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to clean up the confusion by attempting to figure everything out. Kick out the source of the confusion, the enemy, and let God’s peace guard your mind in Christ Jesus. (Isaiah 26:3, I Corinthians 14:33a)


Want to learn how to walk wisely in these times? The enemy, that is Satan, is out to steal, kill and destroy. It is important to recognize his lies and identify how Satan will try to attack you. Find Christian growth mindset inspiration for women here and learn your identity in Christ to overcome. First love discipleship for women will encourage you every step of the way.
How to identify the enemy's traps

Like my children, I want to give you a hug and tell you to be wise continuously. Don’t put it on for one day of the year and walk around unaware the rest of the time. The enemy is going to try to fool you. Might we remember to be wise,...


“...so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” II Corinthians 2:11 ESV


We aren’t ignorant anymore, are we, my friend?!!


Candace


P.S. And for the record - both my kids have got me on April Fool’s Day. One had me experiencing fear for a moment. (There may have been a fake spider involved.) And the other one made me mad. (My computer and what I now know to be a dried paint blob. Nuff said.)






Want to learn how to walk wisely in these times? The enemy, that is Satan, is out to steal, kill and destroy. It is important to recognize his lies and identify how Satan will try to attack you. Find Christian growth mindset inspiration for women here and learn your identity in Christ to overcome. First love discipleship for women will encourage you every step of the way.
How to identify the enemy's traps


And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”


- Matthew 6: 28-30 ESV






Last summer, I started to become a bit obsessed with plants. I had just moved into a house and wanted a flower bed in our front yard to add some beauty to our new home. However, even as I aspired to be a “plant lady,” I did not yet have the knowledge to actually be one. Realizing I lacked expertise, I reached out to some friends for help. They happily taught me which plants would do well in my flower bed and even gave me several plants from their own gardens to get me started. I dug the earth, planted, watered, and then watched as my first flower bed came to life. It was beautiful, and I felt accomplished. But then winter came. The temperature dropped and the bright colors faded and everything in my flower bed turned brown. Throughout the winter months, I seriously doubted that anything would regrow in the spring.



Today, as I witnessed irises unfolding in my front yard, I was amazed. I planted them last August; it is now April. The blooms are a beautiful purple with an intricate yellow pattern on each petal. Behind the irises, daffodils shed their final hues, and beside these white flowers, an azalea blushes pink. As I marvel at the beauty of these plants, I am reminded to “consider the lilies…”


When I’ve read this passage in Matthew in the past, I’ve mostly interpreted it as a comforting reminder that God will provide my most basic needs. But as I see my garden coming back to life, and as I consider the complexity of each flower I’ve planted, this verse takes on new meaning: God knows the plants!


God knows exactly what each plant needs. Have you ever gone to Lowe’s or a greenhouse and looked at those little tags on each plant? It gives the plant’s name, how much water it needs, a “hardiness” rating, the best temperature, the type of soil it requires, and any other important information the gardener will need. These tags are vital for someone like me who doesn’t have much plant knowledge. Each plant has its own set of care instructions, some more detailed than others.


Take orchids for example. Orchids are beautiful, but also very delicate. If grown indoors, their temperature must stay between 59-86 degrees. Full morning sun is their preference, but they need shade in the afternoon. Orchids require extra plant food at least once a month (more often during peak growing season), and you must wait for their soil to completely dry out before watering. The most common reason for failed growth is overwatering. Orchids require repotting, they will only bloom in the specified light, they need proper air circulation in the room to thrive and some orchids cannot survive together. Some are so sensitive that you need to wash your hands after touching one species before you touch another!


In contrast, we have pansies. These flowers are among the hardiest and easiest flowers to grow. They can withstand the winter temperatures of Virginia. Pansies can be planted when the summer weather fades and the cool of fall arrives, withstanding the cold of winter only to bloom again in the spring. They are dormant (like most plants) in the winter and then bloom again in the spring without much care.


My point in sharing about orchids and pansies is that their differences extend beyond simply the amount of water they need. Each plant is unique and must therefore be cared for in a specific way to thrive.


So it is with us. God, the Master gardener, knows us intimately. While it is comforting to know that God provides the clothes, water, and food for us, God also knows exactly what we need to thrive and grow. He knows the details of our souls and personalities. He has created each of us with a different “tag” that explains exactly what we need not only to survive, but to thrive. God wrote those tags for each of us. Mine might say something like: Thrives on committed friendships. Likes black tea in the morning. Worshiping through music draws her close to Me.



God cares that we thrive. As it says in Ephesians 2:10, He has prepared good works for each of us to walk in. He knows what those unique “good works” are and the steps it will take for us to fulfill the potential He’s given us. He desires that we grow physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in every single realm of life, because as we do, we reflect more of Him. As we reflect more of Him, He gets more and more glory because the fruit in our lives is born of His work in us. Just like the iris in my front yard survived the winter and is blooming beautifully, God is also taking care of us holistically so that we can grow and thrive in all seasons. God knows the plants. And He knows you.



Casey Bodlak. lives in Richmond, Va with her husband and two little babies. Emmaus (2 years old) and Ember ( 4 months). She is currently a stay at home Mom, and is learning to embrace that roll. She really loves the outdoors and spending time with people. She has recently gotten into writing, and the Lord has been teaching her through these little day to day connections.