My name is Janelle Keith and I’m addicted to coffee. I live in Oklahoma with two cats (don’t judge), and my loving husband, Terry. I have a big story of losing 132 lbs. and am wholly devoted to Jesus, my Savior instead of my sweet savior of chocolate. God uses my passion for writing, speaking life and encouragement, plus positive eating habits as He punches through your heart barriers. We are all under His grace and drawn in by His giant love of each one of us. You can connect with me more here: http://www.janellekeith.com.
You may be familiar with the stories in Exodus when Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt. I have read the stories many times myself, learned them in Sunday School and in sermon messages. But today when I read about the plague of the frogs, something jumped off the page.
Making hard changes was also on my mind.
God gave Moses the directive to go to Pharaoh and ask for freedom for the Israelites. But the Bibles says that God gave Pharaoh a hard heart as well during all the plagues. Pharaoh refuses to release, Moses continues his pleas.
God compassionately relented with each plague before the next one hit. It wasn't until God struck down all the first born, did Pharaoh realize that God was the real God, and Moses was a man of his word.
What did I learn about hard changes?
Sin can be like the plagues or piles of "deadness" in the corners of our lives. We make decisions based on what is good for us and what pleases us. Then habits soon form and honestly we get a little lazy in following through. Don't we tend to think of rules as just that something to follow but optional if we don't feel like following them?
When I was reading the story of the plagues and how Moses persistently beseeched Pharaoh, it occurred to me how sometimes we make what the Bible says optional or we bring up as a correcting point but rarely follow through because it requires something from us to follow through. Would it be true that we often allow some "dead" or unfruitful things in our lives as a comfort or reward?
Often I've found myself hiding out behind piles of fear, pride, bitterness, lust, anger, or disobedience...whatever the plague is, that's held me back from obeying God's directives in my life. Once my heart softened to His Voice however, I simply removed those fruitless habits to experience God's best life.
With the new year and the "new things" that we want to accomplish, I believe that God doesn't want to redress our lives for comfort and convenience but asks us to allow all newness of His mercy and grace make a difference in our behavior, habits, and changes. Give up what's causing a stench in your life, or some habit that is tearing you down or dragging back you to backslide. He prefers a whole new year for you rather than redressing something that feels right. We are rendered ineffective when we allow change only as a fad, trend or convenience.
God's best isn't an "optional" commitment, it's a full time, all in, 27/4 daily surrender to commit to following His ways and thriving on how the Bible says to live. After all, God is committed to each of us until the very end. Jesus took care of that on the cross and dealt it the death blow, so why do we still try to fix ourselves when it's our perspective that needs to change?
Often Jesus changed the perspective of the sick, diseased, the Pharisees, the disciples, the multitudes of the hungry, and thirsty, and the blind, the lepers before He healed them. Our sin causes a stench in Heaven, that's why Jesus came to take all that. Maybe you aren't aware.... but bad habits are hidden everywhere and a big place to hide a bunch of negatives is in the mind!
The best course of action I've taken is to cut them out completely. Yes, hard. But it does get easier over time when making one at a time. I've found it's better to rid yourself of these bad habits over trying to resist them for a time. It's harder to share space with something that will eventually start plaguing your life again. But be assured that when mess ups happen (and they do because we are human) God comes in quickly and is ever ready with HIS clean up crew.
Three years ago when I stepped out of the radio studio I had no real clear goals other than the fact that I wanted to reach the lost with the Gospel, be involved in connecting with people, and help to build God’s Church all over the world. At the time, I knew what He had laid on my heart to do concerning the nations, and I’ve held Africa in the deepest recesses of my heart.
I didn’t know what the next step would involve, but God simply asked if I would trust Him in my next move. Yes, I said move. When that word first came to my awareness, I was a bit shocked. I had been asking God to use me in a bigger way but was thinking (although very limited in my finite mind), I imagined a new plan would come to fruition someday.
I also believed that I would write books someday and several would be published for many to read. I never knew HOW or WHEN these dreams and trips would come to pass, but currently, as I sit here typing this, I see things unfold that I once could not even articulate.
Today on the fresh heels of Thanksgiving and returning from Africa, I am even more grateful and in awe of what has occurred in the past three years. I have no magic formula, but over the years here is what I have learned:
Give yourself the space to dream again.
Get involved in your local church.
Do wholeheartedly whatever is before you.
Don’t have any agenda, but serve willingly.
Wait for God to open doors.
Submit to leadership.
Trust God because He is always in control when we are not.
There is no wasted experience; God uses everything.
God makes a way where there seems to be no way.
Stay the course.
Always remain part of something bigger than you.
Surround yourself with wise advisors.
Do nothing from selfish ambition.
Keep stretching and growing.
Rally others to journey with you.
Bloom where God plants you.
Believe God for who He says He is.
Bonus: Obey God, He will not lead you astray.
Now I assume you are thinking, this makes a fancy pants list and all, but why should this work for you? Or perhaps you have different goals than I. Both could be true. When you consider the infinite plans that God has for all of us, it’s easy to think small about what God can do through us.
The biggest truth I have realized over time is we rarely know the details of the journey when we start; like Abraham, we often go forth not knowing where we are going. But when you keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and the covenant promises, He will always take you to your destination. Whether you come kickin’ and screamin’ or run willingly to Him, either way, God always knows what journey is best for each of us. He is the only One who knows us better than we know ourselves and has gifted each person the uniqueness that makes us who we are.
He is good at being our Judge, our Father, and but also our Friend. Some additional thoughts about following God are (and it’s important to remember these things too!)
God’s plans will…
Take longer than you think,
Cost more than you think,
Hurt more than you think,
BUT GOD AND you are…
Braver than you know,
Stronger than you seem,
Smarter than you think,
And loved more than you know.
Recently I was shopping with my husband and he purchased the above saying on a wooden sign. I asked him why he wanted to buy that for me and he said, “I will not always be with you, but I want you to remember these things.” The Lord also encourages believers in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” As if you are the only one, God steps into time, to author your story, and to develop you with a unique plan all your own but He loves it when you partner with Him in the grander scheme of His plans.
When you don’t know what to do, take the next step and trust God. Sometimes it looks like you are going in a different direction than you thought, but obedience is worth it. And when you grab ahold of the Father’s heart for you, then you will realize you are loved more than you know. His heart will lead you no other way but the right way. Follow, trust, and take heart. Oh and hang on, it’s wild out here!
The other day I spent some time on some much needed "knee mail." I confessed my broken heart to the Lord. It was messy and let's just say I could've invested some money in Kleenex stock. Yes, the tears came way too easy and I was overwhelmed. What could possibly cause such a deep emotional response from within?
I let my heart touch the sky and released my pain.
In the last four months I lost both my mom, 91, and dad, 94, to Alzheimer's disease. We were personally involved in their care for almost three years. I don't know if you've been down this road but it's hard, specific and each parent required different care.
The details were love-driven but the sentiments were often lost in the details and mostly confusing to my parents. What we experienced as a family was challenging and difficult. But I sit here today to encourage you, if you are looking at a similar situation, there's peace available to you by the measure of God's grace that goes before you.
I have many stories I'm collecting in a book which will someday help someone, I just feel it. Role reversal in families is often hard, isolating and intense. However, I learned the most about peace of God who offers this peace by going through it. There are seasons in life only experienced by going through it.
"We do what we have to do." says every mom.
With any big decisions, and we all face them, wouldn't it be helpful to have a manual of knowledge with all the answers? You know it would. Wouldn't it be comforting to know you could just "tube it" to get the answers you needed? The world as we know it is asking "Dr. Google" for everything. I am reminded we do have such a resource to help us figure things out what life sets before us.
We do what we have to do because the Holy Spirit helps us.
Jesus said (in His last few hours on earth) it was best and good for Him to leave so the Helper could come and be our advocate. It is good for man to release what he can't do and find the Help to cover what man can't do. That's not to say you don't have a part in God's business, you do. You simply trust God has you covered and He is working out things according to His best plan for you and you do the next thing as He leads. God peace protects you from making wrong decisions. I am grateful today HE is my Shepherd and knows what I need, even before I have need of it.
Yes, He's so good at being God and our good, good Father. He anticipates needs before you have any needs. Think about this: God who has NO needs meets ALL of yours. And He knows every one of your needs and is at the ready to meet you and show you. So let us fix our eyes, look to the hills, look up and live a vertical life. Let's reflect His countenance, and meet Him in the morning and again remind ourselves in the evening. Could it be said if we simply live with God, we won't be fighting the will of God?
Life is a great teacher and I'm taking many notes. (By the way, I heard a preacher say once there's a special gate in Heaven for us note takers!) With God's help, He makes the ways of faith known to you and for you. It's His grace goes before you and secures your mind. It's His peace assures you when everything isn’t going okay. There's comfort in sharing with friends and receiving godly counsel. Encouragement can come in many ways, and God loves to use you to help people too. Hard times teach you to lean upon Him and look to Him to help point the way for others in healing and keeping peace.
Keeping our head up is the challenge, as well as fighting discouragement plus trudging through life on our own strength. There are other times when God loves to grow us through situations which cause us to trust in Him in no uncertain terms, with the eyes of faith. When we believe He leads through adversity by His character, then we see the wonder of who God really is. Only God can give this kind of holy assurance to help us let go of the things we can't control. And nothing can replace such kind of peaceful assurance!
How have you seen God's peace in your life?