Let Your Light Shine


In Honor of Father’s Day, I’m sharing a story about the wonderful time I had with my Dad during my second visit to his native country of Ecuador! I pray you’ll enjoy reading about some of our adventures.

In July 2010, God made a way for me to go on a short-term missions trip to my Dad’s hometown in Ecuador. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would travel to Ecuador as a missionary! It was such a treat as the first week was focused on visiting humble communities in the Andes mountains at the altitudes of 11,000 feet above sea level.

The second week was devoted to visiting my large extended family and sight-seeing with my Dad.

It was during my second week that we traveled to the jungles of Ecuador and got to take a speed boat ride on the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon. It was quite an adventure for my Dad and I. My cousin Byron and his sister and her husband and their daughter joined us on the trip.

That evening when we returned to the town named Misawaji where we were staying, we were celebrating my cousin’s husband’s birthday at a restaurant and we had one rather chunky, white candle for him to blow out. After the celebration, I distinctly remember my cousin Byron asking what he should do with the candle and my Dad telling him that he should hang onto it “just in case” so he put it in his pocket and we all soon called it a night. The next day we drove some four hours to the tourist town of Baños which is known for its thermal springs and beautiful waterfalls.

I had been there briefly in 2003, but this time my family was determined to take me to the waterfall called El Pailón del Diablo or the Devil’s Cauldron. I didn’t like the name, but I like waterfalls so the six of us set off on our journey even though it was already close to dusk. So we’re walking and talking and taking photos and enjoying the smaller waterfalls along the way. I think it had been raining the day before, so we’re slowly descending down slippery, stone steps and also walking under a canopy of trees in the middle of basically a forest. I don’t think any of us knew how far we would have to walk, but despite the fact that it was getting darker and darker we were determined to get a glimpse of this famous waterfall.

By the time we reached our destination, the official walkway to view the waterfall was closed so we had to take an alternate route which to my horror meant that to view the waterfall we would have to step onto a narrow, wooden bridge that I can only describe as the bridge from the “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” movie. Just imagine crossing the bridge pictured below except the bridge I’m referring to was much higher and it was night! (To view other people’s pictures of the actual site, click here).


My cousin and my Dad just about ran over the bridge. I, on the other hand, froze for a moment as it was pitch dark by now and all I could hear was the sound of the rushing water beneath us and all around us. But I had come too far to turn back, so I said a prayer and basically said,”Ok Lord, I trust you. I’m in your hands.” With that I breathed, stepped onto the rickety bridge and was escorted to the middle so I could see the waterfall. I really couldn’t see much because it was so dark but that was just fine as for me the victory was having the courage to just stand on that bridge! Of course, the adventure didn’t stop there.

Now we had to climb back up the path in the dark!

This is where the spiritual applications started coming to me. There we were, the 6 of us stranded in a forest at night with no real plan. And then by the grace of God, my cousin Byron remembered the birthday candle and the matches in his pants pocket! God knew we would need them for this trip! So with Byron in the lead with the candle in hand, we all stayed close so we could see where we were going. Suddenly all these Bible verses started coming to life for me like, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Yes, for when I trailed too far behind my cousin Byron, I couldn’t see where I was going. I had to stay near the light! No matter if I couldn’t see anything else around me. I had to focus on the light!

I was also reminded that we are called to be the light of the world! During that journey, I saw the great impact that just one shining light has in a dark place! We didn’t have a big torch or a spotlight with us. For most of that trip, all we had was that one candle and that’s all we needed! God wants us to shine that brightly so that the lost will find their way to the One True Light which is Jesus! (John 8:12)

So while I probably wouldn’t make that trip near dusk ever again, I am so grateful for the truths that God showed me that day. Let’s all remember to let the light of Christ shine through us!

If you enjoyed reading about these adventures, feel free to leave a comment below!

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I was walking past a church a few weeks ago when the sign for one of their upcoming sermons caught my attention.  It spoke to me so much that I had to take the photo that’s included above.

“Pray & Never Give Up!”  I love how they even added an exclamation point at the end of the statement.

It reminds me of the acronym P.U.S.H which stands for Pray Until Something Happens!

I honestly believe that once we understand how much power there is in prayer, we’ll be praying non-stop morning, noon, and night! It won’t feel like a chore or duty. It really is a conversation with our Heavenly Father.

And it includes the whole trinity! We have access to the Father through the name of His Son Jesus (Ephesians 2:18), and the Holy Spirit helps us pray according to God’s will. Glory!

There’s nothing super fancy about how and when you should pray. Just be honest and tell God what’s on your heart. He already knows, but He wants you to spend time with Him.

Below are just a few Bible verses about prayer to help jump-start your prayer life.

When should we pray? The Bible says we are to pray continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

What should we pray about? “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”  (Ephesians 6:18)

What should our attitude be like when praying? “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4)

We can approach God’s throne of grace with boldness because of Jesus.  “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:17-16)

Remember, Jesus is interceding for us! “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Hebrews 8:34)

Not sure what to say? Let the Holy Spirit help! “… the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)

Yes, God is sovereign so we can’t boss Him around and twist His arm to do what we’d like, but He does hear His children!  He hears us when we cry out to Him and call on the name of Jesus!

Just think of all those times you whispered, shouted or ran through prayers in your mind. Think of how you received answers to those prayers. Seriously, think about that mess He got you through, that loved one He healed or that bill that got paid right before the deadline. Think of that door that closed because something better was coming, that accident you avoided or that unexpected surprise that could only have come from God Almighty!

Yes, God answers prayers! His answers are either yes, no or wait.

So what have you been praying about? Are you thinking of quitting? May I encourage you to P.U.S.H.!

Our Heavenly Father loves to hear you pray. As the sign above says, Pray and Never Give Up!

Not sure where to start? Let’s pray right now:

Father, I thank you that you love us and hear us. I thank you that you have a Great Plan and Purpose for our lives. Help us in our time of need and forgive us when we say or do things that aren’t pleasing to you. Thank you that you have promised to never leave us nor forsake. Give us the grace we need to face any trial that comes our way knowing that your Grace is Sufficient! We ask this in the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen!

I hope this encouraged you. If so, feel free to leave a comment below.

If you’re just starting your walk with the Lord, congratulations! Please feel free to click here to learn more. 

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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The Trust Factor

adamentmeat / Foter.com / CC BY


I recently wrapped up my second tour of jury duty. While there’s no convenient time to be picked for a case, I didn’t really mind completing my latest civic duty. I’m thankful that America still gives people fair trials!

As I entered the courtroom for the first time, I was delighted to see the following words in big, gold letters right above where the judge presides, “In God We Trust.”

I was comforted to see that God still has a place in courtrooms!

One of the afternoons, while we were waiting for a witness to load a Powerpoint presentation to share with the courtroom, I sat there staring at the sign.  As I looked at the words, I felt the Lord ask me, “Do you trust me? Then Relax.”

That’s just like God to want to calm my anxious thoughts for that day. It was the perfect reminder that walking with God means handing our cares, worries, doubts and fears over to Him.

“In God We Trust” needs to be more than a nice plaque on the wall or words on our currency. It needs to be our lifestyle.

We need to trust God for our daily provision, our protection, for guidance, etc…

It’s definitely much easier to say than do, no?  As my Pastor likes to point out, if you know how much God loves you, you can trust Him!

I find that when I take my eyes off of Jesus and focus on my problems, I forget who it is that I am trusting in.  If you need a reminder of who God Almighty is, here’s a list of some of my favorite names for God that are found in the Bible. They help me remember all of His wonderful attributes:

Alpha and Omega – “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” (Revelation 1:8)

Faithful and True – “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.” (Revelation 19:11)

Jehovah Jireh (Provider) – “So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.'” (Genesis 22:14)

Jehovah Rophe (Healer) – “He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.'” (Exodus 15:26)

I AM – “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)

Immanuel – “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (Matthew 1:23)

Our Redeemer – “Our Redeemer—the Lord Almighty is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 47:4)

Whenever you start losing focus, I pray that you will remember how wonderful and powerful and mighty our Sovereign God is! Remember, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE with God!

I hope this encouraged you! It sure did encourage me! Feel free to share a comment below.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Sign Language

Lessons from traffic signs

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I was walking past a very busy intersection the other day when I came across this traffic light with all the signs pictured above.

Believe it or not, each sign can be applied to our spiritual life. I’ll start from bottom to top:

No U-turns – Whenever you see this sign, you know that no matter how badly you’d like to change directions and retreat back the way you came from that is just not an option at this intersection. When you see this sign, you have no choice but to move ahead and to keep going forward. The same can be true about your spiritual life. There will be times when you are tempted to cower in fear or to give into confusion, doubt or despair. When you come to those times in your spiritual journey, PRAY and ask God to give you the boldness and courage to keep forging ahead no matter what!  “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:39)

Wait for the green light – When you’re in a hurry, you may be tempted to speed through the intersection, but the sign in the middle says to wait!  It even gives you a time frame. It doesn’t say to wait forever. It says to wait for the light to turn green. In times of waiting on God, remain alert, yet patient. Just as you hopefully wouldn’t dare run through a red light if you were driving, you should hold steady and wait for God’s direction before you proceed! “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

The green light – Yes, the time will come when the light turns green and you get the “all clear” sign to move ahead. Just like you wouldn’t remain in neutral or in park at a green light, don’t stall when you hear God telling you to Go Forth! Even if that means taking one baby step closer to God and closer to your purpose, ask God to give you the peace to take that step knowing that He is with you. “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,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19)

In your walk with the Lord, you are either moving towards Him or away from Him. My prayer is that you will have the courage to not back down, the patience to wait for God’s timing and the boldness to step out when God calls you.

If this encouraged you, feel free to leave a comment!

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


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Worship While You Wait

jDevaun / Music Photos / CC BY-ND


During my recent trip to visit my sister and her family, I agreed to download a free game app on my phone for my then 7-year-old nephew. He was super excited that he was going to get to play the new game.

However, my phone was really slow so it was taking a long time for the game to download.

Thankfully, instead of getting impatient or complaining about the delay my nephew simply said, “Let’s sing a song while we wait.”

I was so impressed by his great attitude. I was also a bit convicted.

How many times have I had to wait on God for something and have not kept the right attitude?  Sometimes the last thing I think about doing is singing!

Anyone else find it easier to complain, lament, doubt, get angry, frustrated, impatient, worry or become fearful, etc…Go ahead, be honest.

And yet lately, God has been impressing on my spirit that He wants me to rejoice even while waiting. In fact, in a sermon I heard recently the Pastor encouraged the congregation to “Praise Him through the process!”

Right! Why didn’t I think of that! There is so much power when you praise God despite what your circumstances look like! By faith, you can thank Him even before you see the victory.

There are so many instances in the Bible where the praise came before the win. I’m reminded of King Jehoshaphat. He had a vast army advancing towards him. After He fasted and sought the Lord, God assured Jehoshaphat that He would fight for him and His people.

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” (2 Chronicles 20:17).

How did Jehoshaphat respond?  He and the people bowed down and worshiped God and the next morning, “After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:21)

Notice, the worshipers went out ahead of the soldiers! As they began to praise and sing to the Lord, God sent ambushes against their enemies. (2 Chronicles 20:22)

I’m also reminded of Paul and Silas who were stripped, beaten with rods, flogged and shackled in prison. They had every reason to have a supreme venting session, pity party or to be downright depressed. What were they doing while they were waiting?

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” (Acts 16:25-26)

There’s no telling what God will do as a result of hearing you praise Him!

So next time you find yourself waiting, I hope you will remember to sing songs unto the Lord, keep reading the Word and count your blessings, etc.. If you’re having trouble, ask God to help you be patient and grateful.

Keep your heart right and before you know it, you will be enjoying the fruit of your patience!

Let the rejoicing begin!

If this encouraged you, feel free to leave a comment below.

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Divine Design

majamarko / Butterfly Photos / CC BY-NC-ND


In honor of Mother’s Day, I’ve asked my Mom to share some encouraging thoughts with you.  Blessings!

I have always loved butterflies! The last time I visited the Bronx Zoo, I was amazed at seeing all the beautiful butterflies in the Butterfly Garden. Each one had its own unique design and colors. No two looked alike.

How wonderful God is that He would take His time to design each and every butterfly.

God has taken great care to create each and every one of us as well. He has patience with us as we transform from ordinary caterpillars into exquisite and unique butterflies! We are all precious in His sight!

Remember that you are special to God and that you are created in His image. He loves you more than you can imagine!

 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

If this encouraged you, feel free to leave a comment below.

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Pretty Pleeease

juni xu / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


The other day during lunch, I swung by McDonald’s for a quick bite (no judging please). As I started to walk to my seat, I noticed a girl glued to the display case where that week’s toys were showcased. The girl, probably around the age of 7 or so, was mesmerized by all the dolls smiling at her.

After staring down the toys, she went straight to her dad who was on the line and began declaring, “A Happy Meal. I want a Happy Meal. Pleeease. I want a Happy Meal. Pleeease.”

Her dad calmly said yes, but she was so busy begging that she didn’t hear him. She made one final plea, “Pleeease, a Happy Meal.”  Then it must have dawned on her that he had already agreed to her request. Finally, there was silence.

It’s easy for us to feel aghast over how she reacted, but if we’re really honest aren’t we all guilty of sometimes acting that way with our Heavenly Father?  We get enthralled by something and get fixated on it. We go to God and in essence whine just like that little girl. “Pleeease God. I waaant, this…. Pleeease…”

It’s ok to say, “Ouch,” and then, “Amen.”

Yes, I’m thankful that we can go to God with any request we have.  And I’m so thankful that He is patient with us. But next time we’re obsessing over our petitions and laying out suggestions (or demands) for how we think God should answer our prayers, let’s stop and remember to worship the Giver and not the gifts!

Our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we even ask. And He knows how to give good gifts.  Next time you catch yourself focused just on that “Happy Meal” and perhaps whining like a little kid,  I hope you’ll take a moment to stop begging and start thanking and praising God instead.

Who knows, if we stop and listen to what God is saying to us we might be surprised to hear that He’s already said, “Yes,” to our request.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:13-15)

 I hope you were encouraged. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Seasons do Change

A Rose Revisited

The rose I wrote about in A Picture of Perseverance never ceases to amaze me. If you recall, the stunning rose stood by itself last year in all its beauty.

The picture in the middle is what the rose looked like earlier this year. Yes, the rose survived the winter, but it had lost all its leaves. It looked completely dead and devoid of any future. It was sad to see it so bare, but we all know what happens after a rough winter…

Spring comes and new life begins! The photo on the right is of the rose just last Wednesday. Look at all those leaves that have already grown back!

Isn’t that how our life seems sometimes?

There are times when we think that’s it. It’s over. There’s NO WAY we can survive whatever it is we’re going through. All we can see is loss all around us. But after much trials, tears, tests, etc…we wake up one day and realize we’re still standing. The future may look bleak ….

But God! He promises to give us a crown of beauty for ashes. (Isaiah 61:3)

Even after the coldest, darkest, loneliest winters, He can bring hope and love and joy and peace.

What is that rose doing today? Still shining. Still fighting. And still having the audacity to bring forth life!

Friend, if you are tempted to give up those hopes, dreams, plans or visions that God has given you, don’t you dare quit!  God works in seasons. Be like that rose that just keeps on blooming no matter what!

God will bring you through with a new song in your heart and a praise in your mouth!

He will restore the years the locusts have eaten. (Joel 2:25) He will turn your tears into dancing!  (Ecclesiastes 3:4 and Psalm 30:11) That’s His Word to us believers.

It may not happen overnight, but it will happen. Before you know it, you’ll see new life springing up in your situation as well! Go ahead, start thanking God even now!

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.”

(Isaiah 61:1-3)

I pray this encouraged you!  Feel free to leave a comment below.





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Heads up!

Lessons from window washers

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Ah, New York City. The concrete jungle where skyscrapers abound. Of all the different ways that people can make a living in the Big Apple, I’m always quite fascinated by the window washers. Yes, those brave souls that enter into those suspended work platforms that slowly inch their way up and down some of the world’s tallest office buildings!

I look at them and I am amazed that they have the courage to do that kind of job!

Did you know that there’s a lot we could learn from those daring workers? For instance:

Trust: Being suspended in midair in midtown (or anywhere) is no easy task. They have to trust that the platform will hold them. They have to believe that they will be kept safe.

Patience: The workers are painstakingly lowered floor by floor. They have to clean window by window. Row by row. There’s no shortcuts when you’re cleaning the outside of buildings that stretch up into the sky.

Teamwork: Many times there are two workers in one platform. They need to work at a similar pace. They also need to look out for each other. Hopefully, they enjoy each other’s company.

Perseverance: They’re working outdoors, so they’re battling the elements on a daily basis. The sun must beat down on them on most days. Other days, they must contend with the wind or even rain.

Now let’s take a moment to compare some of the above characteristics of good window washers with our walk with the Lord:

Trust: How is your faith today? Are you leaning and resting in the palm of God’s hand knowing that He is in Control?

Patience: How are you handling God’s timetable? Are you still getting frustrated that things are not moving faster, or are you at peace with God’s pace?

Teamwork: How well are you getting along with others? Are you working on resolving conflicts or are you battling right and left with family, friends or co-workers?

Perseverance: Are you committed to sticking with it no matter what? Or are you ready to quit and give up in certain areas of your life?

I know it’s not always easy to trust, be patient, be a team player or to persevere. I hope the photo above will help remind you of these important characteristics and will encourage you to keep allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you and through you.

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”      (Galatians 5:22)

Were you encouraged?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

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*BlueMoon / Love Photos / CC BY-NC


The other day I was minding my business while walking to the train station to go to work. It was an ordinary Thursday morning. I saw this lady coming towards me with her dog, but I thought nothing of it. I grew up with dogs, so normally I’m not afraid of them at all.

But as the Rottweiler got closer, it barked right at me. No biggie. I kinda laughed it off, but when the beast lunged at me that was a whole other story! My laugh instantly turned into some nervous sound that I can only describe as a yelp. In that moment, I knew that if Cujo wanted me for breakfast there was no way his petite owner could stop him.

Thankfully, he couldn’t quite reach me because of his leash. He immediately lost interest in me. The owner quickly apologized. I just stayed silent and continued down the block.

When I got to the corner and was out of harms way, I started laughing at my reaction. I also started wondering what that was all about. I knew there had to be some reason for this incident. Something more than just being mindful and not sleepwalking on my way to work in the morning. I had walked this way hundreds of times and had never seen this dog before.

What was this all about?

The lesson soon came into focus. I felt like the Lord was showing me that that is how the enemy works. He can bark, and snarl, and lunge at us believers and take his best swipes and throw fiery dart after fiery dart at us, but in the end he is allowed to get only so close to us because God is there to protect us! The enemy still has to bow down to the name of Jesus. What a Mighty Savior we have!

I don’t know what kind of battles you’re facing today, but I’m here to remind you that the enemy is a liar and he is defeated!

Don’t just take my word for it. The verse that comes to mind is “… no weapon forged against you will prevail..” (Isaiah 54:17)

If you think of Job, remember that the enemy had to abide by the guidelines that God gave him. (Job 1:12, 2:6)

No matter what you are going through today, know that God is still on the throne and still very much in Control! He is with you and will fight for you!

Let’s remember to always put on the full armor of God:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

(Ephesians 6:10-18)

I hope this helped encourage you! Feel free to leave a comment below.

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