Entirety

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!
Hello everyone,
I just wanted to share something that has been on my heart for a while, I hope you all gain something from this. These past couple weeks I have been struggling with not giving God my entirety. And I feel like it’s something we all can struggle with from time to time. There’s just so many things that distract and pull us away from God such as media, men, women, work, family, and school. The list can go on, and on. But we have to constantly remember that, that’s the enemy trying to distract us from being where God wants us to be. The enemy is out seeking to kill, steal, and destroy. He doesn’t want us to enter into heaven. He wants us to be destroyed just like He will be.
Entirety is defined as the whole or total amount of something and that to me is just the key to having a wonderful relationship with God. Psalm 51:1-2 speaks to me because it’s talking about Gods unconditional love, but we can only truly get this love through entirety. Let’s break it down. The first stanza says: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love”. What is steadfast love well it’s loyal, resolute, constant, unchanging intimacy/ affection. David purposely describes Gods love to us because he wanted to show how amazingly merciful God is. David had to entirely put his whole being into asking God for mercy. He didn’t say I hope you have mercy on me or can you have mercy on me, he simply stated a command because he knew that if he put his entirety in asking God for mercy He would give it. The next part of this verse says: ” according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions”. Here we again see David referencing God’s mercy but he adds an adjective abundant. Abundant is defined as plentiful, prolific, overflowing, over sufficient, basically David was describing again in entirety just how amazing God is with his mercy. He knows that with God’s abundant mercy that He can blot out his transgressions/ offenses. Verse 1  just encourages me and makes me just sit in awe with how awesome and unfathomable God is! He gives  His steadfast love, His abundant mercy, and so much more to us as free gifts.Like I know we get gifts from people but no earthly gift can compare to these eternal gifts. And all we have to do to receive these gifts is to ask entirely. But I know sometimes it doesn’t always come when we want it too, but all we can do is be patient and know that God is looking out for what’s best for us.
Then in verse 2 of Psalms 51 we have David basically saying cleanse me, wash me entirely y’all not paying attention. He didn’t say wash me somewhat he said wash me thoroughly, completely, entirely, rigorously. That means we can’t just say oh God wash me with just my addiction to lust, or God just wash my lying problem, we have to ask God to wash us entirely and also cleanse us from our sins. This includes the root of our transgressions and also just the continuing problem of our transgression. He states transgressions and sins separately which show how distinct we have to be when we are asking God for mercy and forgiveness. We have to everyday give God our entirety. We already know that God is a jealous God, and he doesn’t force us to give Him our all. He allows us to choose. But wouldn’t you rather have an awesome, unfathomable God  entirely in your life because then nothing formed against you can prosper. Yes we know that different things can happen in a blink of an eye, but if we give God our entirety then none of that other stuff matters because we have an eternal, non-suffering, perfect home waiting for us. This temporary home has nothing on that. So lastly let’s be diligent in fully giving God our all. He never said it would be easy and yes there will be times when we slip up, but the moment we do we need to call on God for mercy. Because we already know it’s abundant, which means it never runs out. I hope you all have an amazing week, and continue to pray for me and the rest of Infinite Focus members, we are all going through our own struggles and the only way to nip them in the bud is through prayer. Love y’all.

The Importance of Fasting

What does it mean to fast?

So, fasting is not just about starving yourself and making yourself miserable. Fasting is a way to say, “Lord, I surrender myself to you.” During your season of fasting, you understand that your way, your thoughts, your opinions, your perspectives mean nothing. You desire to do things God’s way. You desire to have his hand and guidance on your life and circumstances. So, you can fast from literally anything. I believe that the Holy Spirit leads us to fast form certain things. Maybe you spend too much time on Facebook. Think about all the things you can become exposed to on social media. Think about how that affects you? Do you become insecure by comparing yourself to other people on social media? Do you find yourself looking at lust-provoking pictures? It may be helpful to one, purge your account, two, logout for a season. Use the time you would normally use for Facebook to either pray or get into God’s word. You can use this same method for anything else you want to fast from. If you want to fast from food, you can use the time you would normally eat lunch to pray or get into God’s word. The time you use to watch certain shows, watch a sermon instead. The time you would use to listen to certain songs, listen to gospel music. Fasting is really about replacing the time you spend to please your flesh to spend time with God. It disciplines your flesh.

Detox your Spirit

The purpose of fasting is to deny your flesh and detox your spirit in order to get closer to Christ. We can become so easily distracted by everyday life. Our time is consumed with social media, work, school, family, friends and everything else we have going on. Everything we see, the music we listen to, the conversations we have all have the potential to influence our spirit. It’s so important to fade out unnecessary voices and detox our spirit.

Deny Your Flesh

The war between our spirit man and our flesh is a constant battle that we have to fight on a daily basis. Our flesh wants to do everything our spirit doesn’t want to. If your spirit says, “Stop!” Your flesh says, “Go!” “But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” {Galatians 5:16-17} When it seems like you’re bombarded with awful thoughts, you become really short and impatient with people, you no longer have a genuine desire to do the things of God—it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate yourself. Where is most of your time being spent? What does your prayer life look like? How often do you get into God’s word?  It may be time to go on a fast.

How is fasting a benefit to you?

You can read on several accounts where people in the bible went on a fast before making an important decision. When your spirit is cluttered by the things of the world, it becomes almost impossible to see and hear clearly from God. Fasting removes the blindfolds of lust from your eyes and allows you to see what God wants you to see. It has the power to drown out irrelevant voices and opinions concerning your life and circumstances. Fasting can give you fresh perspective concerning your life and the circumstances you may be up against. It has the power to break strongholds and chains. If you desire to see the power of God rest on your life, fasting must become a normal part of your spiritual regimen. It doesn’t have to be extreme, it doesn’t have to be every day and you don’t have to make a public announcement when you decide to do it.

 

Here’s a list of bible verses that emphasize the importance of fasting:

Isaiah 58:3-7

Matthew 6:16-18

Joel 2:12-13

[Disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list of scriptures that supports the idea of fasting. You are encouraged to research and allow God to speak to your heart concerning this topic.]

Fast from Social Media/Music/TV Shows

It’s important to walk into your season of fasting with expectancy. What are you hoping to gain from the Lord by fasting from this certain item? Is it a healthier self-image? Is it to remove lust-provoking images from your mind? Is it to remove any jealousy or bitterness that may have creeped into your heart from comparing yourself to others on social media? Is it to learn how to be more productive with your time? Is it all of the above?

Log out of all social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Snap chat, Instagram, ect)

Delete certain music stations from your Pandora

Look into Gospel/Christian music that speaks to your heart

Find sermons online that speak to your heart

Have the urge to scroll through Facebook? Scroll through your bible instead. What’s an area that you currently struggle with? Is it self-image? Look up what God says about your image and allow his word to renew your mind and change your perspective.

Have the urge to be “nosey” and see what others are doing on Snapchat? Get into God’s presence if you can. What is God saying in this season of your life? Where does he want your focus?

Maybe you have a desire to get into the heart of worship? This is the perfect opportunity for you to learn how to engage into the Spirit. This is also an opportunity for you to flow within your gifts whether it be through singing, dancing, writing, drawing, ect. God will teach you how to allow his Spirit to flow your gifts.

Don’t set yourself up for failure. You may have to change the notifications on your phone to make sure you don’t accidentally click on any apps. You may have to delete the entire app for a season to make sure that it doesn’t happen at all.

At the end of the day, ask yourself: What did I learn? What did I gain?

Be reflective.

 

Fast from food

There are different ways you can fast from food. You can either fast in a way that you eliminate certain food groups or you can fast by missing meals. Have a lack of self-control when it comes to food? Need God to give you a different perspective on your health and body image? Consider fasting from certain food items with the intentions of gaining a Godly perspective.

It’s important to be prepared when fasting from food. It may be helpful to plan out your meals and make sure you have groceries on hand that will accommodate your fast. For example, if you decide to fast from processed foods then make sure you meal prep ahead of time so it’s easier for you to stay faithful to your fast.

Look up different recipes as well as scriptures that can help you gain this new perspective.

If you decide to fast during certain meal times, use that time you would usually use to eat and spend time with God. For example, read your word during your lunch break or spend time in prayer.

 

How to tell people you’re on a fast

Of course, you don’t have to make a public service announcement about your plans to fast. However, you find yourself in a situation where you have to relay that message to someone. Understand this, saying “I’m on a fast,” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s really about the intentions of your heart. This is only something you share with people to set boundaries and not gain attention.

 

In case you mess up…

Understand this, people make mistakes. I make them, you make them, we all make them. But, when you make a mistake the point is to not quit. Don’t give up on your fast because you accidentally ate a donut. Keep pushing. One way to not mess up is to AVOID focusing on what you have to lose but, focus on what you have to gain. If I say to myself, “Okay, I have 3 hours, 17 minutes and 34 seconds until I can eat again.” That makes it harder for me to focus on what God is saying or doing during my season of fasting. Shift your focus on Christ. Don’t allow the enemy to discourage you and don’t beat yourself up over this.

 

Continue..

Lastly, continue to grow and develop on what you learn during your fast. Don’t allow what you learned to slip in one ear and out of the other. Don’t allow 7 days be the end of your urgency to seek God. Keep seeking, keep trusting and keep fighting.

Encouragement for the End of a Rough Semester

So, this semster has been rough. Let me share my personal testimony. I started this semester off just like everyone else believing that it would be successful and productive. I committed myself to so many things which included taking 17 credit hours, working 2 jobs, starting a research project, and co-leading a campus ministry. I realized that it would be a huge responsibility but, I figured I could handle it. Now, here it is the end of the semester and I’m not sure if I’m going to pass one of my classes. Now, I understand that faith without works is dead so, if you don’t study why complain about recieving a bad grade, right? In my case, I studied but, it wasn’t enough and I felt like I could never fit in the time. I was constantly sleep deprived and I dealt with a lot of anxiety. So, it wasn’t like I was being lazy or not putting in any effort. I spent so many nights talking to God about my grades and all I really wanted was to avoid putting myself into this situation again. Yes, again! This semester I spent so much time praying, worshipping, fasting and getting into God’s word like I never have before. I’m so thankful that he gave me some perspective concerning my situation. The following are key lessons that God taught me this semester:

God loves me.

God loves me and he loves you too. Even after you make mistakes. Even if you’re that student who decided to give up–he loves you too. This semester was of no surprise to him. Actually, this semester was included into his plan. When we think about God’s plan for our lives, we are lead to believe that his plan only includes the beautiful, praise-worthy things that happen. Your mistakes, shortcomings, failures and whatever else are included into his plan also. God has the ability to turn any negative situation around and use it for his glory. Psalm 40 is one of my favorite scriptures. David speaks about being preserved by God’s lovingkindness. He also mentions how God delievered him out of a pit or the KJV reads, “miry clay, ” and God did it without wanting anything. That’s grace. So, even after this rough semester, even if your GPA takes a downward turn, remember the lovingkindness that God has for you. If God called you to be a teacher, nurse, doctor, lawyer ect., he will make a way for that to happen because of his lovingkindness towards you.

God wants my heart.

God wants your heart too. He cares about your heart more than he does about your GPA. He still cares about your GPA; however, your GPA isn’t going to get you into his kingdom. It’s all about priorities. Trials, tests, struggles, challenges, and obstacles are not  designed to make you miserable. They’re designed to make you closer to God. This semester I had to be more dependent upon God and less on myself. In moments where I felt weak, God proved himself to be strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9 &10). I saw God moving on my situation. Did my grades improve? Not really but, there was a change within my heart. I can honestly say that this situation has taught me how to be genuinely content in every season. Because of this situation, I know God better now than I knew him before. I’m more faithful to him now than I was before. I love God more now than I loved him before. I understand that faith moves beyond my situation. Faith says that I believe that God can change this situation but, even if it doesn’t change, it will still work out for my good. (Romans 8:28)

 

I just want to encourage you all to grow during this season. Get into God’s word and allow God to speak to your heart and give you perspective concerning your situation.

With Love,

-Ari

 

Boldness

Hey everyone! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July. Something that’s been on my heart for a while is Boldness for God. It’s something I believe we all struggle with especially with the different bombardments that come our way. I especially believe with the different events that are happening in the media with regard to police and African Americans that we need to stay near and close to God. We have to be bold for Him because we are inching near to the second coming. I just think of the verse that says the love of many will grow cold (Matthew 24:12) and that is what I am seeing, so many lives being lost all due to just sin and pain in this world. But we should be encouraged because this earth is not our home (2 Corinthians 5:1, 2Cor 4:18), and although we have grown attached to this place, one day we will be in perfect eternity with God. He will judge each and everyone of us and where some will be with Him forever others sadly will be in total isolation separated from God. Lets all aim to be ready for when Jesus comes again.

Boldness is our willingness to venture out and do the right thing at the right time, regardless of the barriers or fears we may encounter. This enables us to speak the truth, and perform a task without fear of the consequences or results, because, it is the right, and Biblical thing to do. It is realizing that God is in control. He is there within, and beside us, and He will take care of us. Therefore, we do not need to fear what others can do; rather, we are to concentrate on our character and call, and do it with passion and conviction.

A verse that really spoke to me and I hope speaks to you about boldness is Ephesians 6:18-20 “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.” This verse just drives home the importance of being ready all the time, and asking God to help you be bold when the time comes. People in this world need the love of God, that is the only remedy/cure that anyone could ever give, because God is love.

The following is a excerpt from a devotion on Boldness that I found uplifting. Hope you enjoy! The link to the whole thing is below!

 

Acts 28:31 says that we should be proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

The Bible tells us that as Christians we are to be a mirror image of God , that we should be a reflection of his joy, peace, and love everywhere we go. We may be the only chance that person seated near us will ever get to hear about how much God loves them.

We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Cor 3:18

We should never miss an opportunity to spread the good news of Jesus. Go Into all the world the Bible says! We as Christians often think that this refers to the missionaries preaching in remote parts of the world and ministering to those in the secluded far corners of the earth.

While that is extremely important, the man seated next to us in a lobby on a Wednesday afternoon is every bit as important to God. It’s no accident that we are seated near a certain person on a particular day. We all have divine appointments set up in advance by God.

I challenge you and myself to live in boldness for God. Before leaving our houses, let’s ask Him to put someone in our paths today that needs to hear an encouraging word of hope. Be a blessing where ever we go and we will be the ones who are blessed.

http://www1.cbn.com/be-bold-god

Give it to God

Have you ever gone through challenges or difficult times in your life that seem to have rocked your world? When doors close and people walk out of our lives, the enemy wants us to amplify our problems and have us believe that God has forgotten about us. We can literally worry ourselves to death thinking about how, when, where and why. It is in those difficult times that God wants to develop us and push us closer to him. Don’t give the enemy any room to influence your purpose. I just love that we serve a God who genuinely loves us. God doesn’t want us to figure it how because he’s already figured it out. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” That’s it and that’s all. Begin to approach God by giving him your problems. Give God your pain. Give God your struggles. Tell God, “Lord, I don’t know how but, I trust that you know how.” “God, I don’t know when but, I trust the one who has the future in his hands.” When we do this, we exchange our worry for peace. We exchange our sorrow for joy. We must remember that we serve a God who is bigger than anything life presents us.

I pray that you were blessed by this message. I love you all and I’m praying for you. ❤

Humility

Humble: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.

Synonyms: meek, deferential, respectful, submissive, diffident, self-effacing, and unassertive

For many years, I believed that being humble simply meant being modest enough to not boast about the things I have or the things I can do. Recently, the Lord has been dealing heavily with me on humility. Initially, I couldn’t help but think that this message doesn’t necessarily apply to me. I began to ask God, “God, I know I’m not arrogant or cocky, so what does this mean?” God began to show me that humility is a form of submission unto God. Luke 14:11 reads, “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. To humble yourself could mean to consult God before making decisions. This can be difficult to do at times because we’re a generation who likes to have things done conveniently and quickly. The enemy likes to make us believe that waiting on God equals missing opportunity. I’m learning that waiting on God’s direction is more beneficial than stepping out on my own and making decisions. To ignore the instruction of God and make moves according to my understanding is exalting myself, but to acknowledge the truth of God and apply it to my situation is humbling myself unto the Lord. [Proverbs 3:5-6] Humbling yourself could mean also mean choosing to love someone after they’ve given you every reason not to. When people mistreat you, it’s easy to want to cut someone off. However, if God is telling you to show more love to this person then that’s what you need to do—humble yourself. So, this week I encourage you to consider God in EVERYTHING you do. Humble yourself to his voice and he will direct you.

1 Peter 5:7

James 4:6 & 10

Isaiah 57:15

Humility

The Greatest Commandment

I can recall many times when I doubted my relationship with Christ. There were some individuals around me who just seemed like, “Super Christians,” in my eyes. These individuals seem to have everything together and know everything there is know about the word of God. I would allow the game of comparison to intimidate, discourage and define my relationship with God. Several times I would ask myself, “What’s the key to living a perfect Christian life?” “Why does living for God seem so effortless for others but almost near impossible for me?” I would go through constant cycles of being a “Super Christian” and being a “Mediocre Christian,” you know—doing enough just to get by or so I thought. Then God began to show me that this walk is not as complicated as I thought it to be. He reminded me of the word “love.” If you consider the genuine relationships that are developed in your life, there are certain things you just won’t do simply because you love them. Matthew 22:37-38 reads, “ Jesus said unto him, THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD GOD WITH ALL THY HEART AND WITH ALL THY SOUL AND WITH ALL THY MIND. This is the first and greatest commandment.” It is to my conviction that the Lord considers this the greatest commandment of all because love is the single most powerful motive ever created. Love lead God to descend from heaven to be created in the flesh and sacrifice his own blood for our salvation.

I believe where many individuals find struggle is following religion instead of loving God. The motives behind religion include fulfilling the law of the land. If you think about it this way, many of us won’t break the law simply because we don’t want to end up in jail. I’ve been to several church services where salvation was presented as an escape way out of hell. Although denying Christ does have a consequence, we must remember that our salvation was based on love and not merely an escape route. Salvation gives us an opportunity to be with God, who is love. God wants to us to get to know him, fall in love with him and touch the world with his love. When you love God, obeying his word doesn’t feel like a burden. When you love God, spending time with him doesn’t seem like a chore. It’s similar to being in an intimate relationship. What if you discovered that your significant other only wanted to be with you because he/she didn’t want to be lonely? Nothing about you particularly interested him/her; you’re just simply a companion. You couldn’t help but think that you have so much more to offer this person. Or, what if your significant other never really wanted to spend time with you? They do it because they feel obligated in part, not because they actually enjoy being with you. I encourage you to evaluate where you are with God. Is your relationship with God based on love or is it based on the fear of going to hell? Do you have a genuine relationship with God or is it a religious commitment? Below you will find practical tips on how to grow deeper into your relationship with God.

1. Know God for Yourself
The only way to know God is to spend time with him. Get into his word. Communicate with God through prayer and worship. Don’t depend on your pastor or even a blog post to teach you all you need to know about God. [2 Peter 2:2] God wants you to seek him. He knows our heart. Be vulnerable with him and ask him to give you a genuine love for him.

2. Work Out Your Own Salvation
[Philippians 2:12] Don’t allow people to tell you how your walk with Christ should be. Don’t get me wrong, going to church and things of that matter are awesome! Yes, do it! However, you MUST BE LEAD BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. The holy spirit will give you discernment on what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate in your walk with Christ. If you’re not careful, people may try to condemn you based off of THEIR own theology or try to dilute your zeal because it’s something THEY don’t think is necessary. Some individuals may have you believe things that aren’t necessarily true, according to God’s word. The bible says to test the spirits [1 John 4:1] That’s why it’s important to be lead by the Spirit and to know the word of God for yourself. God is the one who presented salvation to you so, allow God to define your walk with him.

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Understand that what looks like fine silver on the outside may be rusted and tarnished on the inside. We don’t know the condition of a person’s heart. Don’t be so focused on someone else that you miss your own potential. If you’re not careful, you’ll soon realize that the game of comparison is a gateway to other issues such as jealousy and covetousness. [Luke 12:15] Before you know it, you may be secretly wishing to have someone else’s life or you may become bitter because it seems like, “God isn’t blessing me the way he blesses them.” There is something that God wants to develop in your unique situation, allow him to do it.

4. Continue
When you mess up, repent and keep going. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. The enemy wants to stagnate your growth by making you feel condemned. He wants you to forgot that you serve a God who loves you. He wants you to not even consider that God’s grace is made sufficient in your weakness. [2 Corinthians 12:9] The fact that you’re able to read this blog says that God granted you yet another chance to get things right with him. It doesn’t matter what you did or how recent you did it, change direction (repent) and move forward in God. Everyday we have to strive to be more like Christ. [2 Corinthians 3:18] So, think of this as a journey that we must continue.

5. Detox
There are so many toxins in our environment. I believe that being physically healthy requires an occasional detoxing. Likewise, there are so many things in our environment that influences our spirit man. Social media, television, and music can influence our spirituality. I use to be fan of a particular T.V show that’s been trending the nation for a couple of years now. I remember that there was an intimate scene that involved two males. I quickly reacted by turning the television to avoid seeing them interact and then I turned back once I felt the scene was over and continued to watch the show. Later that night, I can remember having sexually provoking dreams that I wouldn’t dare share with anyone. God began to show me that I was being influenced by demonic spirits that I invited in by watching that show. I was watching something that exploited the hatred of God. The thing is, you can’t really expect to abstain from sexual immortality if you listen to music, watch shows, or even like posts that encourages it. These things can clutter our spirit and cause us to become desensitized to the Spirit of God. I encourage you to take time to fast and detox your spirit from the influences of this world. [Romans 12:2] IF you have to unfollow people, block people, delete certain music and stop watching certain shows, do whatever is necessary to increase your growth in God.

6. Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People
It’s good to be around people who are on the same mission. People who can edify you and increase your growth with God. [Romans 14:19] I encourage you to not just attend church but, become involved. Join small groups, bible studies, ect. Don’t be afraid to open up to others because you never know who may benefit from the testament of your journey. Don’t feel like you have to endure this journey alone. God will set people in your path who love you and want to be there to help you. Be lead by him and be patient.

I hope that this encourages someone! Please share this message with whomever you believe will benefit from this. 🙂 worship