Tag Archive | Yolonda Tonette Sanders

P.U.S.H.

pray

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” — James 5:16, NIV

Many of you may be familiar with the acronym P.U.S.H., which stands for pray until something happens. Last night as I laid in bed, I thought about the power of prayer and how much prayer has changed my life. I reflected on many prayer requests that I’ve had over the years—some that have been answered and some on which I am still awaiting manifestations. Some prayers were easy to communicate (e.g., bless this food that I’m about to receive) while others took more oomph out of me (e.g., help me to forgive). I’ve even prayed about what some would consider minor issues (e.g., my Bluetooth not working in my car) and major things (e.g., healing of someone with cancer). Whether big or small, easy or hard, I am confident that God hears our prayers (1 John 5:14).

One key that I’ve learned when praying is to be transparent. My prayers are raw. I hold nothing back from God. I recall a time when I felt pure hatred building in my heart for someone. As a believer, I know that God calls us to love everyone, so the fact that I was hating this person convicted me. So, I prayed. And, honey, my initial prayers were nothing nice. They started out something to this effect:

God, I don’t want to pray for this person. I’m only doing it because You tell us to pray for our enemies. I don’t mean anything I say. I don’t want you to bless her. I don’t want you to save her. I want her to burn in hell for what she’s done.

Ouch! That definitely wasn’t Christ-like.  It was brutally honest. There was no need to pretend that I felt otherwise. God already knew, and for Him to turn things around, I needed to confess the ugliness that was inside of me. The rest of the prayer was something like this:

I know that these feelings are not representative of who I am in You. Jesus, I need You to soften my heart. I want to love as You love. I want to forgive as You forgive. I want others to see me and see You in me. God, I cannot forgive her on my own. No matter how I feel about her or what she’s done, You love her, and I need to love her, too. Please help.

I prayed nearly every day and before I knew it, I started meaning everything that I said about God blessing and saving her. I don’t know if she ever gave her life to Christ or what she’s doing nowadays. The only thing I know for sure is that God completely changed my view of her. Whenever she crosses my mind now, I will say a brief prayer, “Lord, I pray that she knows You and has allowed you to heal her from her pain.”

While God does not always answer prayers in the way we want Him to, He will always use prayer to instill His fruit in us. The person giving her life to Christ is not under my control or even His. She has to make a choice to do so. Nevertheless, God used that situation as a character-building experience. I, too, had a choice. Had I not surrendered to Him, I would have continued down an emotionally destructive path.

When we pray, the external situation may not change, or it might take time to do so, but change can begin in you immediately. Prayer can renew your faith, give you a different perspective about things, and fill you with internal peace amid chaos. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” James 5:16b. Prayer works! So, P.U.S.H.—pray until something happens. That something may come packaged differently than you expected, but if you believe in God’s Word, then you can rest in His sovereignty.

If there are prayer requests that you’d like to share, please do so. I’d be honored to pray on your behalf.

A Message from God – a poem by Yolonda Tonette Sanders

 

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“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” — Romans 5:19

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be understood” — Romans 8:26

“Pray without ceasing” — 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Everyone was born into sin
Because of how Adam behaved
So I sent My Son to die on the cross
So that all might be saved

You often feel that you’re not worthy
Well I can’t argue with that
But I am filled with grace and mercy
So I’ll cut you some slack

Why do you always remind yourself
Of the person in the past
No longer the same, I’ve changed your name
Your sins have been forgiven at last

Remember to pray continuously
It’s important that we communicate
I may not come when you expect Me to
But relax, I’m always on time, I’m never late

Not really sure how or what to pray
Just be genuine and do your best
At times when you’re not sure about what to say
My Holy Spirit will do the rest

Concerned that others will reject the change
And remember what you were
If so, they forget who I am
Because with Me, anything can occur

Others may try to put you down
But My Word is always true
Worry not about what they say
Find comfort in the fact that I anointed you

You may have committed many sins
Others may have committed just a few
But the blood that it took to save them
Is the same blood that it took to save you

(c) Yolonda Tonette Sanders

All I Want is to Love You – a poem by M.S.Lowndes

 

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For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Romans 8:38–39, NKJV

Come to my refreshing waters,
Let your fretting cease
Cast your burdens upon me
And I will give you peace

Always know I love you
And won’t leave you alone
So when you face the darkness,
You won’t face it on your own

When you’re in need of a friend
To listen to your cares,
Know that I will be that friend
To hear your desperate prayers

I know just how you’re feeling
Before you kneel to pray
So nothing will surprise me
In what you want to say

And I will not condemn you
When you confess your sins,
I just long for you to come
And let my love come in

I am here to heal you
And protect you from harm,
For all I want is to love you
And hold you in my arms.

(c) M.S.Lowndes

Love = Action

 

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“If you love Me, keep My commandments”

John 14:15, NKJV

Jesus made it plain about how we are to demonstrate love for Him — through our obedience. A similar mandate was given in the Old Testament with the Deuteronomic covenant. (See Deut. 5:10; 6:5–6; 7:9; 10:12–13; 11:13, 22). The bottom line is that those of us who claim to love God, can’t settle for lip service only. We must act according to His Word.

Whenever our words misalign with our actions, people will always believe what we do rather than what we say. For example, if a man or woman claims to love a spouse and yet habitually commits adultery, his or her love will be questioned. If parents love their children, they don’t intentionally mistreat them or put them in harm’s way. If we love Jesus, we won’t purposely misrepresent Him.

As humans, sometimes our words and actions will contradict one another. We have this thing called flesh that gets in the way of us naturally displaying perfect love. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation where you have done something for which you felt horrible because your actions did not align with the core of your values and beliefs, but I sure have. I recall a time in December of 2017 when I completely lost my cool about a customer service issue that I’d been waiting to have resolved since October of that same year. When I say that I lost it, that old flesh that had been crucified with Christ (Gal. 5:24) was resurrected, and honey, it was nothing nice. The call ended with me hanging up because I’d said things to which I could not recover.

It would be easy for me to make excuses for my behavior — 2017 was the year I lost both my mom and favorite aunt, became an empty nester, healing from a broken friendship, etc. I was under a lot of stress, no doubt, but none of that justifies wrong actions. I’m sure the woman with whom I had spoken would have been shocked to know that I’m a firm believer who writes and promotes Christ. That bothered me. I was so disturbed by my own behavior that I ultimately let the issue go without seeking further resolution.

Even our best efforts to live right will fall short (Is. 64:6; Rom. 3:23). It doesn’t mean that we should quit trying. Unlike us, God’s actions and words are always congruent. He promises to forgive us when we fall short (1 John 1:9). While our love for God will not be displayed perfectly, it should compel us to desire and strive to live by the fruit of His Spirit rather than our flesh (Gal. 5:19–23). Yep, we will mess up. #Humanity. Remember, God loves us so much that He won’t leave us in our mess. When we love Him back, we won’t want to stay there either.

Consider any areas in your life where you have settled for living contrary to His way. Now, determine if you love Him enough to turn those areas of your life to Him.

A Fresh Start

 

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“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness”

Lamentations 3:22-23, NKJV

Being honest with ourselves is not an easy thing to do, and yet, it’s a necessary component (in my humble opinion) for growth. I had to admit to myself that I’d been slacking when it came to spending quality time with God. The busyness of school, publishing, writing, etc. had resulted in what I referred to as spiritual quickies. I read the Word each day via a devotion or the Bible app’s daily verse, but it was more of a checklist action. I wasn’t taking the time to meditate on or internalize the Word as I should.

I suspect that one reason this bothered me so was because my top love language is quality time. I demonstrate my love through the investment of my time. Whether it’s simply hanging out and having fun, helping a loved one work through a crisis, or setting aside time to work on projects of my own or others, I do so because I love what I do and those with and for whom I do it. Though 2018 brought new challenges into my life via the doctoral program, I still maintained my relationships. I even talked to God on a regular basis, but I wasn’t consistently taking time to be with Him.

I felt the void and I didn’t like it.

Nope, not one bit!

Yet, it took a while for my behavior to change because I’d gotten accustomed my quick interactions with God. It was as if I would hurry and get my time with God out the way because I had a paper due . . . project deadline . . . business meeting, or whatever else was on my agenda that day.

I wasn’t and still am not focused on the amount of time. Unlike one of the characters I created, I do not wake up every morning and spend three hours praying and studying the Word, feeling like I’m “less saved” if I fall short of that time. I’m not legalistic or robotic about my spiritual walk. Rather, my focus was and is on the value of the time spent, and I knew in my heart that I was not valuing time with God as I should.

Admitting my shortcomings to myself and God is one thing. Admitting them to others is something different. I shared with a few friends who encouraged me as I worked to change my behavior. I had no intentions of sharing publicly. However, as I prayed about what to write this month, I kept feeling like I needed to be transparent about this struggle. One of the reasons it took me so long to write this month is because I really didn’t want to talk about this on the internet! God, really! Do I have to? We’re good now. It’s okay that no one else knows. Or, so I thought. But, this thing called obedience gets me every time and I don’t have peace until I do something I’m supposed to do! (That’s another story for another day!) I can only trust that my sharing will be a blessing to someone else.

If you have been struggling to spend quality time with God, here are a few things I hope you take away from this post.

  1. God is not mad at you. When recently thinking about a not yet answered prayer in my life, I flat out said, “God are You mad at me?” Kid you not, after I asked the question, I saw a t-shirt that read: God is not mad at you, He’s mad about you. I smiled. Message received! God loves you so much (Romans 8:38–39). He’s patiently waiting for you to give Him the space He deserves in your life.
  2. There’s no greater relationship we can have in this world than the one with God. Your spouse, significant other, or BFF may understand you to an extent, but only the Lord can reach into the crevices of those deep places in your heart (Psalm 107:9).
  3. Whether you’ve neglected time with God or have turned away from him altogether, as long as you still have breath in your body, it’s not too late to start again. His mercies are new every day. Today is a new day, so how about getting a fresh start?

I Wonder . . .

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” 2 Chron. 7:14, NIV

I Wonder . . .

I wonder if our government would be stronger if we, particularly Christians stopped acting like God is a republican or democrat and recognize that He is holy.

I wonder how much more effective our prayers would be if we stopped playing the in-group/out-group game, realizing that there is corruption on both sides of the aisle and began praying for politicians, in general, not just the ones we like and want to “win.”

I wonder how many believers spend more time praying for President Trump than criticizing or complaining about him.

Oh, I wonder . . .

I wonder how impactful our churches would be if we didn’t act like our denomination is the only one who has it “right” and realized that God is not Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, etc., but once again, He is holy.

I wonder if our places of worship would exude humility if we cared less about titles and more about the ministry. Why isn’t the moniker of brother or sister good enough?

I wonder how many souls would be saved if we stopped focusing on having the “biggest” or the “best” buildings, celebrations, or choirs/praise teams, and instead, concentrated on giving our best efforts to witnessing to others for Christ.

Oh, I wonder . . .

I wonder how much the world would change if we were all others-centered instead of self-centered.

I wonder if our children would grow up and stray less from the Word if we modeled Christ in our homes and not just in public.

I wonder how much more effective our witness would be if we didn’t pretend to be perfect but admitted our struggles and how we get through them with Christ rather than act like we are the holiest of holy.

Oh, I wonder . . .

I wonder how much stronger sermons would be if preachers stopped using the pulpit as a platform to promote their preferences (political, personal, or otherwise) and strictly stuck to the Word.

I wonder how much more people would listen if we stopped lecturing and trying to change them and trusted the Holy Spirit to work in their lives.

I wonder how long it will take for people to get that consistent and sincere prayer is the key to true change.

Oh, I wonder . . .

Christianity and the Development of Character, Scholarship, and Leadership

“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope,” Rom. 5:4, NKJV

Character. Scholarship. Leadership. Those are fundamental tenants of the doctoral program in which I am enrolled. As I reflect on these principles, I see that they not only apply to my educational journey but also to my spiritual journey.

Character is the core of our being. It’s the thing that determines if a person handles accomplishments with humility or pride. Character reveals if someone is trustworthy, honest, or values loyalty. Character is not who others think we are, but it’s who we are when no one is watching. While we can fool others sometimes, we can never deceive God because He sees our hearts.

In my doctoral program, scholarship refers to the program’s aim to train students how to have informed views (as opposed to believing something without knowing why) and then to appropriately apply what we learn. As I think about scholarship in relation to my spiritual walk, I am drawn to Paul’s instructions to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:15 (NKJV) to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” As Christians, we must be assiduous about studying Scripture so that we can correctly apply the Word to our lives and share it with others. As we learn and internalize the Word, it will have a profound impact on our character.

Finally, leadership involves having influence and power over others. The Bible shows examples of how leadership was used for good and for evil. For example, when David was king, he used his power for self-serving interests when he took advantage of Bathsheba and subsequently arranged for her husband to be killed (2 Sam. 11). We also see positive examples of David’s leadership throughout Scripture. One instance that stands out to me is how David carefully instructed Solomon about Solomon’s new role before David passed away (1 Kings: 1–9). As king, David had led many others, but at that moment he was leading his son.

Leadership is multi-dimensional. A person doesn’t have to have a title to be a leader. Furthermore, one’s leadership can be passive (1 Pet. 3:1). The bottom line is that we never know who’s watching us and the impact that our behavior will have on others. It is important that leaders be persons of good character. As we see in David’s life, there’s a dichotomy of good and bad that can exist within a single person. Yet, even with his shortcomings, David was still a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22).

Our character is shaped by our life experiences and how we respond to them. I’m not necessarily shouting “Amen” right here because experiences can be painful. It would be great to skip the experiences and get to the end result. (By the way, it would be nice to receive my doctorate by avoiding the tuition payments, long hours of studying, and writing of many papers, but that ain’t gonna happen!) Rom. 5:4 makes it apparent that our character is shaped by our trials. As you go through your character-building experiences, cling to the Word. Not only will you build your own spiritual muscles, but you have no idea how the way you walk through your journey will impact others.