Bloom & Boom

When you plant a seed, whatever plant it may be, it grows with the right natural elements such as sunlight and water. You can also buy things to help like Miracle-Gro. Put a seed in the right soil and it will just grow and keep growing till it is fully grown. But, if you try and plant something in a drought without watering it because you are waiting on rain, it won’t grow. It will just die with the potential of what it could have grown up to be.

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Psalms 1:3 KJV

If you feel like you can’t grow where you’re at, it’s because you are trying to grow something without nurturing it and eventually you are robbing yourself of that blessing or calling. God plants you in places on purpose. You are where you are at for a certain reason. You cannot sit in a drought and expect God to grow you. You have to nurture your calling in that season of doubt or fear or whatever you’re going through. If you feel like you’re not good enough, pray about it because you can grow from that feeling if you pray through it. Like the old saying goes, “You grow through what you go through”. And it’s the truth. If you feel stuck in where you’re at, just keep praying for growth. Keep practicing if you’re a musician. Keep praying for wisdom if you want to be a speaker or a writer in His kingdom. Keep serving humbly no matter what you want to do. Because that is what you have to do in your season of drought or else you will be left with a seed that had so much potential, but unfortunately died. Nurture your faith. Nurture what God gave you or you’re left with less than what you started with. If you can’t appreciate what you have to nurture, how will you appreciate more?

“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,”

1 Peter 2:1-4 KJV

Instead of letting sin and evil things grow in your dry season, let love and the fact that God chose you to serve Him grow. If we forget the feel of His presence, sin can come in and grow just as quick as blessings. We often let this feeling of being lost from His presence keep us from feeling Him in the midst of our chaos. When all along He is right there. Just reach out and say His name. You are precious in His sight and you only need Him to grow.

Daily prayer and reading your bible repeatedly isn’t just good for your spiritual growth. It is also good to keep you planted in what good works He has brought you to. If He has called you to do something for His kingdom, you need to know more about Him before He can use you. It’s kind of like turning in a resume to a company you have never heard of and don’t know anything about the position you are applying for. If you don’t know where to grow, let God plant you. And just bloom where you are. That’s all it takes.

Chelsea Hockensmith Bio

His Promise Still Stands

There is a pattern to the life of faith that often follows a sequence of promise –> excitement –> waiting –> doubting –> testing –> refining –> reinforcement and –> eventual fulfillment.  This is essential to grasp if we ever hope to serve God as mature  women in the faith.

Instant gratification and impatience have become hallmarks of our society. We only have to “tolerate” 5-15 seconds of advertising before getting to a Youtube video. We are promised “instant weight loss,” “instant success,” and “3 Easy Steps…” to achieve just about anything.

Waiting, enduring, and learning patience, exercises of the will and character that have been integral to Biblical faith for thousands of years are not exactly hot topics in an age where we can scroll through our boredom at the rate of 13 Instagram pictures a second.

For now, I just want to highlight 3 appropriate responses to God during a season of waiting, waiting….and maybe even waiting some more:

1)     Gratitude for God’s Abundant Mercy

When God asks you to wait for His perfect timing you have to recognize that this is actually a form of His mercy to you.  By forcing us to wait, God protects us from becoming spoiled children and develops our character.  We will never be effective servants of the King if we are too much like the spoiled rich girl who has Daddy wrapped around her finger and always gets what she wants, right when she wants it.

He wants us to be people of character who recognize that the world does not revolve around us.  So He often asks us to wait and learn patience.  You should thank Him for this, because when God asks you to wait, He is actually doing you a favor.

As Paul says, when we are waiting on God,

“we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.”  (Romans 5:3)

2)     Hope in God’s Anticipated Action  

Although this is one of the more counter-intuitive aspects of our walk with God, it is actually the case that the longer God makes you wait for something He has promised the more your faith and expectation in the fulfillment of His Word should grow.

The longer you wait, the closer He is getting to fulfilling His word and the more that reality should propel you to even more faith and hope in what is about to come to pass.

Even as you are waiting on God don’t miss the opportunity to praise Him for what He is about to do.

For “salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Rom 13:11).

Even though seasons of waiting can tend to wear us down, forcing us to face our own doubts, fears, and insecurities, always remember to praise the Lord in the midst of your waiting.

3)     Surrender to God’s Perfect Purposes

We all start out in our relationship with God wanting to be more or less in control of the operation. This is called idolatry.

Yes we want God, but we kind of want Him on our own terms.  We want a God we can fashion and shape, a God who will serve our needs and our agenda.  It is especially in the moments of waiting on God to do things His own way, in His own time, that reveal to us just how deeply entrenched the idolatry truly is within our hearts.

Part of why God is making us wait, is for us to fully let go of our own will.

And in that surrender you will find a comfort in knowing that God is God, that He does not need your advice, that His ways are higher and better than your ways, and that He is good to the deepest core of His being.

“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36). 

And the Joy of Fulfillment is coming…

Whether you are currently waiting on a personal promise God has given to you specifically, or are simply longing for the promise of eternal salvation and deliverance that we all share as followers of Jesus, always remember that no waiting on God is in vain.

He never forgets, He never goes back on His Word, and the joy you will experience on the day of your vindication will be that much greater simply because you waited well.

“And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.  This is the LORD for whom we have waited.  Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation” (Isaiah 25:9).

“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.  As surely as the sun rises He will appear.  And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hosea 6:3).

Francesca Vitug Bio

10 Truths To Tell Yourself

1. Your worth is not determined by what just anyone tells you.
“Live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won’t find yourself begging
others for scraps of love.” -Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited

2. You are loved unconditionally.
“Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that
he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in
the world, he loved them unto the end.” John 13:1.
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that
loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to
him.” -John 14:21.

3. You are never, ever alone.
“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy
God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” -Deuteronomy 31:6
“And the LORD, He [is] the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not
leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” -Deuteronomy 31:8

4. You are forgiven.
“When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” -Luke 5:20

5. You are beautiful.
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works,
And [that] my soul knows very well.” -Psalms 139:14

6. You were given a promise that is un-breakable.
“For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as
the Lord our God will call.” -Acts 2:39
“For all the promises of God in Him [are] Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God
through us.” -2 Corinthians 1:20

7. You are protected.
“The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.” -2 Samuel 22:3

8. You are blessed.
“Behold, I have received [a command] to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse
it.” -Numbers 23:20
“Blessings [are] on the head of the righteous, But violence covers the mouth of the
wicked.” -Proverbs 10:6

9. You are going to be okay, even if you don’t feel okay right now. (And if you do, it’s gonna stay that way!)
“Cast all your care on him because he cares for you.” -1 Peter 5:7

10. You have a purpose.
“Upon your inception you, yes you, were given a very specific purpose that only you
can accomplish. You were placed into a certain region of the world, into a certain family, into a certain culture that only you are capable of reaching.” -Nicole Soto, Worth It

Sabrina Hope

I’m Engaged!

I don’t want to be that annoying girl. You know, the one that talks about her boo and relationship all the time? But, can you let a girl testify!

I recently got engaged to an incredible man of God and I never knew the human heart had the capacity to feel this much love and joy. I’m 25 and we dated for a year and eight months. This is a little older and a little longer than most traditional “church culture” relationships. But, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Why? Because it was God’s perfect timing. I would like to share a bit of advice to the woman who’s finger has yet to be graced by a ring.

I encourage you ladies to never compare and envy the women around you. That’s a dangerous thing to do. Because that’s when you try to take your love story out of God’s hands and write it yourself. But, I assure you- He’s a way better author.

Be content as a single woman. Do not wait for life to start. Before I met Jericho, I had my own apartment, had become our church’s youth leader, was finishing up college, and was pursuing God’s will for my life as an individual. Granted, I wasn’t against a relationship, but I wasn’t seeking it out either. If you are not content without a relationship, you never will be with one.

Expect God to surpass your expectations! I know many women have created lists, naming off each characteristic they want in their future husband. If you’ve done that, I don’t want to discourage you. But, God superseded my expectations and dreams. Jericho is not what I envisioned! Even the way we met. I am the pastor’s daughter of a small church in Tallahassee (a lot of people don’t even know that’s the capital of Florida). I would’ve never thought God would’ve led the love of my life through our church doors as a FSU college student from New Jersey, a new resident of Tallahassee, who found our church online.

Don’t settle for mediocre. Be with someone who wows you! Where you have to seriously ask yourself, is this person real? “Too good to be true” does not exist with God. It is true no matter how unbelievably amazing! If we truly believe God is miraculous and a miracle worker, why can’t we expect Him to display that in our future spouse?

There’s been a debate over if there’s “the one” or if it’s simply a choice and God blesses whomever you choose. I don’t want to get too involved, but I will say that prayer, fasting, and seeking advice from Godly counsel is necessary when dating and moving towards marriage. It is the scariest and most stressful decision ever! But, God confirms His Word. It may not be easy, but He will make His way known. He is not the author of confusion. Genesis 24 gives us a perfect example of that when the servant prayed for the spouse God wanted for Isaac. God led Rebekah to the well and made it known the individual He wanted Isaac to marry according to His will.

Be encouraged, ladies, no matter your age or situation. Fairy tales are real if you do it His way. Trust and believe. Don’t rush His timing or doubt His will.

“Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” – Psalm 37:4-5

To my darling husband-to-be, “I hold you in my heart, for we have shared together God’s blessings.” – Philippians 1:7 

Charity Huba

Humility

I don’t want you all to think I am up here on a high horse, preaching at you. I myself struggle with being humble, I have to check myself often. I hope you all do too, it is so important that we are thinking about our actions and our words throughout our days.

Let’s look at some scriptures that tell us the importance of humility, because the Bible does mention being humble or humility often.

1 Peter 5:5-7 (NKJV) 5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to [your] elders. Yes, all of [you] be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”] 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

This scripture states that we are to submit ourselves, what does that mean? Some
synonyms of submission are complaint, obedient, meek, and yielding.
So this scripture is telling us to be obedient and compliant to our elders and to be humble, because why?

Because it says that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
I want God’s grace, and more importantly I NEED God’s grace. So I am going to do
what He says, I am going to submit to my authority and my peers, I am going to clothe myself in humility, I am going to cast all of my cares on Him because He can care for me better than anyone else.

Micah 6:7-8 (NKJV) 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, Ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn [for] my transgression, The fruit of my body [for] the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O man, what [is] good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

In this passage, someone is asking what the Lord will be pleased with- will God be pleased with thousands of rams, what about ten thousand rivers of oil, what about if I sacrifice my child for my sins.. but the answer is much more simple than that. It says that the Lord requires you to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him. The Lord requires this of us.

Luke 14:11 (NKJV) “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”.

This verse is pretty cut and dry, not a lot of room for interpretation. It says that if you
exalt yourself, meaning you think about yourself in a position of greatness, you will be humbled. It says that if you humble yourself, you will be exalted, meaning raised to a position of greatness in God.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want God to have to humble me. Being humbled
hurts. I want to check myself, and humble myself, so that God doesn’t have to.
But you know what, if He has to do it, I would rather be humbled by Jesus, then not be pleasing to Him, and not be with Him for eternity.

Philippians 2:5-8 (NKJV) 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, [and] coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to [the point of] death, even the death of the cross.

When I read this verse, it hit me hard.

I want you guys to really grasp what this verse is explaining to us- it is telling us that Jesus, who is the form of God and equal with Him, came in the likeness of us; He did not come as a millionaire like He could have, He did not come as a King like He could have, He came as an ordinary baby, an ordinary man. He humbled himself, and wrapped Himself in flesh. He humbled himself and was obedient- even to the point of death. Think about that. Jesus humbled Himself, and was obedient enough to say okay to dying on the cross for us. And all He is asking us to do, is to follow His Word, to humble ourselves. He isn’t asking us to be tortured and nailed to a cross, He already did that for us.

We have established the importance of humility- but what is it really?

Most of us understand that pride is the opposite of humility. What is pride? Pride is when you focus on who is right and your own glory, it reveals your character. Humility is when you focus on what is right and God’s glory, it reveals God’s character.

Maybe you are not prideful on purpose, and you don’t understand how pridefulness comes into your daily life. Let me give you some examples of how it happens- pride comes in when you compare, when we think we are owed something. Pride comes in when you pity yourself, and only focus on your weaknesses. Pride comes in when you are self reliant, when we think that we have our acts together. Pride comes in when we want recognition or when we expect others to acknowledge us.

Humility is, like a quote which I recently read, not necessarily when we think less of ourselves, but it is when think about ourselves less. True humility can be understood like this:

H-honoring God above yourself

U-understanding your need for grace

M-mourning over your sin

I-illuminating God’s glory

L-looking for ways to serve others

I-ignoring your pride

T-trusting God’s plan over your own

Y-yearning to worship

The Bible says that Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Proverbs 11:2). So I want to challenge us to strive to be humble, be more aware of our actions and attitudes, and check ourselves and make sure we are pleasing to God.

Sabrina Hope

Voices of This World

Dear fellow Apostolic Girl,

We live in a world that tells you, as a woman, that to be feminine means to not submit to authority, that to dress like a woman makes you look weak, that when you become a wife and mother, and take care of your household, that you give up your independence, future, and opportunities.

This is my second entry as an Apostolic Girl blogger, and I want to tell you that you are powerful, that in your submission you are crowned with glory and anointing, and that you are beautiful. And in this world that tries to tell you otherwise, I admonish you to guard your mind and your heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says “the heart is deceitful above all else, who can know it?”

When you do not guard your heart, you make yourself susceptible to the influence of this carnal and sinful world. As some of you may have experienced in your past, this is a dangerous and vulnerable place to be. The principalities of this world will try and make you believe that you are treated unfairly, that you shouldn’t have to submit or be humble, that you deserve recognition for all of your accomplishments and acts of service. Thoughts and attitudes like these will begin to poison and darken your heart.

In contrast, submission and humility are exactly what we should strive for. God sees your private devotion and servant-hood.  He walks with you in every journey or path you take. When you submit, HE sees. When you are humble, HE sees. When you serve the kingdom of God without recognition, HE sees.

There are so many voices in this world. And sometimes it can be hard to discern God’s. The most dangerous of these voices are the false ones that come from within the church. Those in whom you trust, that are giving you misguided direction. You will only be able to discern the voice of God if you build a relationship with Him. When you get to know Him, His voice, His thoughts.

You must be careful about what you open your mind to. Whether it be movies, books, or even educations that can lead you astray. Pray for your mind. Pray for your heart. Pray for the armor of God to be utilized every morning before you walk out your door. For without it, you are walking into the world without spiritual protection. Know that you are crowned with glory. That you are anointed and powerful. Do not let the voices of the world take that away.

Disney may say to “Follow Your Heart.”  But, please don’t. The heart will deceive you. The heart will make you feel emotions that are not of the Lord. Follow the Holy spirit that lives inside of you. The one that will guide you in the right direction. The voice that will speak clarity to you in the midst of the fog. Who are you allowing to speak into your life?

 

Bethany Marsh

Texas Strong

I sit here, watching the rain come down just thinking about my Texas. My Texas is filling with water. My Texas is structurally falling apart. My Texas is hurting. My home, the place where I was born and raised, is hurting and my heart is breaking. With every passing hour, there is another picture of homes being torn apart and another picture of people crying out for rescue. With every passing hour, there is more destruction happening in my Texas.

But in every passing hour, I see hope, I see love, I see unity, I see God. I see God in a man carrying children out of the water and into safety. I see God in mothers shielding their children from the rain. I see God in strangers grabbing their boats and heading into disaster to rescue their neighbors. I see God in companies supplying basic needs. I see God in people sheltering each other from the storm. I see God in people loving others. I see God in Houston today. My state might be hurting, but God’s love is more evident than ever.

Today as I stare at the rain I can’t help but think of Matthew 5:45 and Isaiah 43:2. The Bible says that it will rain on the just and the unjust. Rain will come whether it is actual water falling from the sky or metaphorical rain in your life, you must expect rain. However in that rain, God promises in Isaiah 43:2 that when you pass through the waters, He will be with you. He will be the emergency responder heading into the storm to rescue you. He will be the family offering you shelter. He will be the neighbor sharing food and water. He will be with you wherever you go, even unto the end of the earth (Matthew 28:20).

I am proud of my Texas. I am proud of the unity I see in this beautiful state and in this beautiful country. I am proud to call myself a Texan and an American. I am proud of my fellow Texans and Americans helping those in need. I am praying for my neighbors in this time of need. Along with others, I want to be light for God in the midst of this time of darkness. I want to represent the Lord and represent Texas Strong.

about sarah

Sarah Barnhill, 21, is from Texas and is the middle sibling out of three girls in the Barnhill family. She recently graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with her Bachelor’s degree. Her favorite snack happens to be Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos!