Inner Strength (Guest Post)

I’m so excited to introduce you to my prayer, women’s ministry and writing partner, Tope Keku. I started attending her Sunday School class about seven years ago, just as I was beginning my journey to heal from Childhood Sexual Abuse. She has consistently been there for me, prayed with me and pointed me to the truth in God’s word. She is a master storyteller and the excerpt below is just one devotion from her new book, Weathering Storms: Finding Treasures in the Ruins. Her words always resonate with me and help me to grow in my identity in Christ. Be sure to follow her blog at Hidden Treasures and Riches and you can purchase her book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, WalMart and Christian Book Distributors.

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources, he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

Ephesians 3:16 NLT

Inner Strength by: Tope Keku

A few years ago, I was thirty pounds overweight. I realized that losing weight meant I had to make changes. I struggled initially to determine the plan of action, but I decided that losing weight required effort and being intentional. My plan was simple. Every night before going to bed, I had a talk with myself as I laid out my exercise clothes and shoes. 

It took time to be consistent, but twelve years later I am still working this plan. I have gained physical and spiritual strength, as I now view my exercise time as a way to connect with God in prayer.

In our spiritual life, we may be out of shape and need to “lose a few pounds.” Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:16–19 NLT) is a great prayer to own as we seek inner strength to grow in wisdom and knowledge. #Weathering Storms by @TopeKeku

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you consistently, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. 

Paul’s prayer helps me to better align my prayers with God’s heart. Often, when I think about my struggles, I want relief. But God’s plans rarely lead to an immediate answer. That’s when I must learn to endure, because “endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:4 ESV). 

Cultivating inner strength builds our resilience, perseverance, and character. #Weathering Storms by @TopeKeku

What weights are you willing to shed to gain God’s inner strength? Personalize Paul’s prayer and ask God to help you.

Prayer:

Lord, I praise you for the privileges I have in you. Help me tap into your unlimited resources to gain inner strength and wisdom to pursue your purpose for my life. Thank you for using the very things I kick against to teach me patience, compassion, love, empathy, and speaking the truth in love. Thank you for instructing me in the way of wisdom and guiding me on a straight path. 

About Tope:

Dr. Temitope Keku is a scientist, author, speaker, coach, mentor, and Bible teacher. Her passion is to inspire women to discover the hidden treasures in adversity, grow in their faith and embrace Jesus, the true source of hope. You can find out more about her ministry at Hidden Treasures and Riches

You know, believe and obey God’s voice.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:27

I stood there at the register in Walmart patiently waiting for the cashier to ring up my items, when I felt God impress on my heart to give her the cash in my wallet. What? It wasn’t a lot of money, but I dismissed the thought because I wasn’t sure about handing her cash. As I headed out with both hands on my cart, I glanced back and felt the tug again.  

I paused and wrestled with the possibilities, “How do I just walk up and give her cash? What if I get her in trouble? That is crazy! Did God really say…?”

As I walked towards the exit, I noticed there was a bank in the store with a set of envelopes on the counter for deposits.  I got an envelope and put the cash in it with a sweet note. I walked back and handed it to her and she placed it in her pocket with a puzzled smile.

Later that evening at a meeting, I shared some things I felt like God was wanting to shift. No one in the room wanted to make any of the changes. After hearing the questions and the concerns from others, I left feeling bewildered. My mind started to fill with doubt, again.

Did God really say….?

This is just one day, but I could go on and on about how often this plays out in my life. Unfortunately, I don’t always get it right. It has tripped me more than once.  It’s really nothing new.  This is an old trick of the enemy.  

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? 

Genesis 3:1

Did God really say? 

I’m learning to pay close attention when I think “Did God really say?” because I know the enemy’s goal is to create doubt, confusion, and disobedience.

His goal is to get me disoriented enough to give up or mess up. It’s the main reason I took a break from writing this series. I started writing this series in the middle of a very stressful time and for deeply personal reasons. 

It’s still stressful and personal, but I’m onto his schemes now. I am weary, but I am not giving up. 

Did God really say? 

Yes, He did.  

Prayer: 

Jesus, forgive me when I get weary and let doubt and confusion creep in. Help me to be strong against the schemes of the enemy. Help me to abide in you and help me to listen. Jesus, help me to hear you, believe you and obey you. Give me faith to know your promises are true even when my eyes do not see them. Give me strength to obey. Help me to be in fellowship with you at all times.  Speak Lord, your servant is listening.  

  • Are you hearing, “Did God really say?” 
  • Is the enemy using his classic tactics to get you off of your game?
  • What do you do to overcome the doubt and get back on track?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comments below.

You meditate on His Promises

My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.

Psalm 119:148

For many years, I have heard those awful mean voices in my head that tell me I am not enough. Over and over, they declare that I am not good enough, I am not smart enough, and I am not strong enough.  Whatever the challenge, they scream “You can’t do this!” And when I fail, I hear the awful taunting of “I told you so. Why do you even try?”    

It’s awful.

I wish I could tell you those mean voices are gone and that I don’t hear them anymore, but they are still there. However, I don’t hear them as often and they are not as loud as they used to be.  

What changed? 

I started talking back to them. I started declaring God’s promises to me and I’d say it right back to them.  

“You can’t do it. You will never be able to do it.”

  • Oh yeah? Well I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  

“You are going to fail. This is going to be a big flop.”

  • Maybe I will fail. Maybe this will flop, but I am still going to try. Even if it fails, it will be okay. I will keep going. God is with me. He will never leave me nor forsake me.  

“Who do you think you are?” 

  •  Glad you asked. Me? I am chosen, loved, adored, precious, the apple of His eye and His princess.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

“Why bother? You are a nobody and nobody cares.”

  • HE cares. He leaves the 99 to find the one, and He found me and rescued me. I am His, and He cares deeply for me. He can use me to help others, even if it is just one.

“Don’t do it. You will regret it.”

  • I am going to do it. I will regret not trying. I may very well regret it, but then again, maybe I won’t. Either way, He is with me.

I am still a work in progress, but I am learning to fight back. The enemy has taken enough ground from me.

If you have mean voices in your head screaming at you, it can be challenging. It used to keep me frozen in fear. What helped me to thaw?  I found freedom in Christ and in His promises. The Truth will set you free.

For if you embrace the truth, it will release more freedom into your lives.

John 8:32 TPT

Discover the truth of what He says about you in His Word. Declare it over yourself daily. Memorize these truths, and recite them as needed. Write them down. Write down the lessons you learn from them. Implant them in your mind and your heart. Continue to make them so loud in your life that the mean voices become just a whisper.

I made a bookmark to remind me of His promises, and I will be happy to send you one in the mail. Email me at journeypink@gmail.com with your address. May His truth saturate your entire being. 

What truths help you to shut down the mean voices in your head?

You are designed for community.

I know what it is like to have a heart walled-off from others.  I remember what it felt like to protect my heart and not let anyone get close. 

And then I found community. 

It felt safe. 

I slowly let my guard down.  

I discovered there was freedom in vulnerability. 

I learned I was not alone. It wasn’t just me. 

It felt risky putting my heart out there, especially when the loud voices in my head warned me that I would regret it.  

I wish I could say it was pain free.  It wasn’t. 

It is risky to put your whole heart out there, but there is also great reward.  

My natural response to pain is to isolate myself. I just shut-down. If I stay to myself and never let anyone in, then there will be no disagreements, no misunderstandings, no disappointments, and no broken friendships.  

It felt normal to isolate myself because that is how I survived my childhood. I never wanted anyone to know my struggles so I built walls around my heart for my own protection. 

In community, those walls fell one by one.  Once the walls were down and I felt pain, my first instinct was to put the walls back up. 

Luckily, my counselor encouraged me to persevere.  She encouraged me to learn from my experiences and to keep going. 

I reluctantly stayed in community, and I remained open.  Was it pain-free? 

N-O.  NO. 

While I have experienced pain in community, I have also received tremendous support, encouragement, and affirmation.  

I’ve said, “You can do this!” and I’ve heard, “You’ve got this!”

I’ve experienced grace and I’ve learned to give grace.  

I’ve asked for forgiveness, and I’ve learned to forgive. 

I’ve prayed for others, and they’ve tenderly prayed for me. 

I’ve laughed. I’ve celebrated. I’ve wept. 

Community is not perfect. 

Community is messy and it’s beautiful.  In community, as you engage with others you will discover more about yourself. 

You will make mistakes and you will achieve milestones. 

You will truly begin to believe in others and you will know that they believe in you. 

Community is imperfect togetherness, full of risk and reward.  Some call it a tribe, but I think of it as a gathering of brave souls willing to show up.  

I know how hard it is to show up.  I remember showing up and not saying anything for months. When I first said something, I remember the alarms pounding in my head demanding I just stay quiet.  

The enemy wanted to keep me isolated. He wanted me to be alone in my pain and struggles.  He wanted me to be quiet. When I was isolated and quiet, I was ineffective.  

Something significant shifted in me when I gathered in community.  I found healing, I discovered my voice and I realized my purpose.

We were not created to do life alone.  We were designed to gather in community. 

If you feel like you are isolated and alone, please know there is a place for you at the table where grace abounds and love wins, every time.  

Let’s show up.  

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:22-25 MSG