A Walk Through the Wilderness

Jill Tomlinson, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer, co-founder of Transcend Ministries

Jill Tomlinson, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer, co-founder of Transcend Ministries

This is a little different from my typical article writings. It is very personal, and I share it all with the knowing that someone somewhere will read it and be encouraged in the Lord.

A few months ago the Lord asked me to write another book. Forgiven, Favored, & Free  would be a book that would empower His sons and daughters to live more fully in the inheritance He provided through Jesus. It would be a book that focused wholly on the finished work of Jesus and our complete identity and victory in Him.

It was April when my family returned from a ministry trip to Australia and I finished the manuscript that He laid on my heart in the same month. Both were “high” points in my life and there was a sweet sense of amazement and satisfaction. I was thankful and life was good. I knew beyond a doubt that I was living out God’s will for my life. The moment of victory appeared short-lived, however, as the waters began to rise around me and my family almost immediately.

I was hit suddenly with sickness and painful physical symptoms. Our family was bombarded from many different directions with seemingly insurmountable issues. In the natural, everything seemed to be falling apart. It was as though I had been pushed from the mountaintop and thrown into the valley literally overnight. I felt as if I was lost in the wilderness. But I knew truth and I chose to stand upon it. Even as I prayed, took my authority in Christ, and spoke the Word over my body, family, and life, my physical symptoms intensified and other problems seemed to get more complex. Using my faith seemed to get me nowhere. Still, I held onto the hope of Christ and the message of His finished work.

The physical pain was almost constant. Some days were really dark, lonely, and at times the intensity of the battle was more than what I thought I could bear. I was fighting, but most days I felt like a wounded warrior at best. For the most part I kept it to myself. Only a few close and trusted friends and family knew about any of it simply because I didn’t want to give the enemy any ammunition.

More than once on this journey I cried. More than once I questioned what I really believe.  More than once I wanted to give up. More than once I heard the words of my accuser, Satan…how can you preach a Gospel that doesn’t work in your own life…where is God in all of this anyway…you are living a lie….give up…don’t print that book…this doesn’t work…you don’t really believe…you are not called…you can’t possibly minister to anyone…you are weak…you are sick….God doesn’t even care…retreat.

Oh, but Hallelujah! More than once, the Spirit of God comforted me. More than once He spoke to me…do not give up…submit to Me by staying in agreement with My Word…resist the devil and he WILL flee…hold on…stand fast…the enemy is trying to steal My Word that has been planted in you…you are Mine…I am for you…I have called you…do not cast off your confidence…I am Truth…you are strong…you are healed…you are whole…I love you.

Hebrews 10 35-36 don't throw away your confidence

I also heard the sweet voice of God repeatedly instruct me to rest—not only spiritually in Him, but physically. I heeded His voice and while I still had ministry engagements and things to do, I made rest a priority. I stopped writing. I cut out everything that was unnecessary, and I spent hours listening for God and pouring my heart out to Him. Sometimes it was in the middle of the night when I was in too much pain to sleep. Sometimes it was in the car for hours as we drove across the country to minister. I felt nothing. The forest got darker, the symptoms became more painful, the problems lingered. There were many times I was discouraged and afraid. Still, I rested, I listened, I meditated on truth, and I waited.

Finally, breakthrough came in the depths of my soul though not the way I expected. The revelation of God broke through the darkness somewhere along the way and I felt a sweet release in my spirit. Nearly four months later, I am writing again for the first time because it’s time. While I did not awaken this morning to a problem free life or a symptom free body, my heart is free, my mind is clear, and I am rejoicing in true victory. For true victory isn’t the absence of problems. It is, instead, the presence of Jesus.

Through it all I have learned much. My beliefs are more solidified than ever before. My God is good and faithful. My roots are deeper, and my passion more fierce. At the center of my life, family, writing, teaching, and ministry is the Word of God—the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the abundant life He provided. It is the only true message of healing, hope, and victory that exists. Any other message falls short of pure truth and fails to deliver. The enemy seeks to steal the message, but Jesus prevails!

Whatever you face today know that BECAUSE OF JESUS, for every tear there is greater peace, for every doubt and lie there is greater truth, for every hurt there is greater healing, for every sin there is greater grace, for every loss there is greater restoration, for every disappointment there is greater hope, and for every defeat there is greater victory. Fix your eyes on Jesus—the Prince of Peace. He knows the way out of the wilderness even when you cannot see!

– Jill

Jill is an author, writer, speaker, and teacher. In her book, No More Lies, Jill leads others through the same journey of biblical truth that brought her freedom and wholeness. Jill and her husband, Jimmy, are the founders of Transcend Ministries—a ministry dedicated to empowering the body of Christ and making disciples worldwide through teaching, writing, and evangelism. They reside in Colorado and have four amazing children—two daughters, a son, and a son-in-law. For more information or to order her book visit www.transcendministries.org.

Learn more about Jill Tomlinson here.

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Come, Lord Jesus!

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come scoffing and following their own desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” –2 Peter 3:3-4

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

It pains my heart when I see and hear of all the evil going on in the world today and think of the day of the Lord’s return rapidly approaching. Like past scoffers who did not believe the Lord would ever return, so there are some today who carry on about their business not giving a passing thought toward repenting for their sins and entering into a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ. Oh that their hearts would soften and believe in the work of the cross!

God desires that no one perishes in sin. For the Bible says, “but do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. 2 Peter 3:8-10

For Christians that means there is more work to do in sharing the Gospel. For the unbeliever, Jesus is still waiting for sinners who will repent and turn to Him. He says, “Behold, I am coming soon, “bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.”Revelation 22:12 And in the preceding verse, he says, “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”Revelation 22:11

“Blessed are those who wash their robes (conscience-cleansing in the blood of Christ), so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murders and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” –Revelation 22:14-15

The Holy Spirit and the Bride (the Church) continues to extend the invitation to all the world to come to Jesus and experience the joys of salvation in Christ. He is that living water of life still available as a free gift in a world that is desperately dying of thirst. Sinner man or Sinner woman come and drink! We don’t know the day or the hour, but Jesus is coming soon and unexpectedly. That’s good news to those who trust in Him, but a terrible message for those who have rejected Him and stand under the judgment of God.

Behold I come quickly hour glass

May we remain watchful for that glorious day. May we take to heart the words of Jesus when He exhorted us to “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”Luke 21:34-36

“So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  Hebrews 9:28

May we say confidently, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

-Jason

Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.

Promotion From the Threshing Floor

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. -2 Corinthians 4:17 (New International Version)

Would you want a promotion if it meant your absolute discomfort and breaking away from the familiar?

At this moment, I’m in a stretching, transitional, deeper trusting, more in His Presence, wilderness period with the Lord. Things God did before in my life, is not what He’s doing today. He’s doing something new which requires my daily, minute-by-minute trust in Him. As God told the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19, New International Version)

Yes, I do perceive this new thing coming! I’ve perceived it for some time. I asked Him for it. I asked Him for the adventure, the journey, no matter how uncomfortable. My desire to always know the next steps, I wanted to break away from that. That’s exactly what He’s doing! UGH! I knew the temporary discomfort would increase my faith, draw me nearer to Him, further conform me into the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ, shake off whatever is not beneficial to the journey, build endurance and fearlessness, and produce fruit that I could use to further bless and equip the Body of Christ. I’m preparing for promotion/progress in God.

Yesterday, I came across notes I wrote in late May while watching Joel Olsteen’s program. The subject is on the threshing floor. A threshing floor is a hard, level surface in which grain is threshed/beaten so the edible parts of the grain are separated from the chaff, or the worthless part of the grain. The threshing floor was/is usually located outdoors and exposed to wind to blow away the chaff.

Here are the notes I jotted then, forgot about and upon finding, are an encouragement. Hopefully, the words will encourage you to view life’s threshing floor as a necessary process in your promotion/progress:

“The threshing floor…God will use to separate me from what is limiting me. It was never designed to be permanent. There is a great harvest in front of me. Don’t let the enemy take what belongs to me.  All of us go through these ‘threshing floor’ experiences because God is preparing me for the good opportunities ahead. I’ll have a greater confidence in God because of. The threshing floor is not defeating me…it is promoting me. The bumps in the road are not random. God will use the situation to refine me. Will come out more refined. Less chaff, more wheat. The threshing floor is where things die so new things can be birthed and live! God has to close a door to open a new door. God, cut me back so I can bear much fruit. Pruning in the uncomfortable times so I can bloom to new growth.”

farmer+hand+threshing

Praise! This is why I have joy in the journey because I am expectant; I believe in the vision.

I know right now there are several of you on life’s threshing floor. Certainly, Satan will seek to convince  you that God has abandoned you or is punishing you. Don’t believe the lies. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us that, “For the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jeremiah 29:11 assures His People that God’s plans are to “prosper us, not to harm us; to give us hope and a future.” Some people, because of their love for you, would rather pull you off of the threshing floor to ease your discomfort. I say, let’s go through it!

If you find yourself on the threshing floor, it is for your PROMOTION not destruction. Stay strong, have joy in the journey and get ready to bear more fruit! God bless you!

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

Consequentialism in Romans

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Abortion. Evolution. Homosexuality. These are three of several hot-button issues that people approach with varying beliefs and opinions. Convinced in their minds of these beliefs and opinions, many have suppressed God’s truth/exchanged His Truth on these issues for a lie. But believing in a lie doesn’t make the truth any less true. Consequently, because of those who have suppressed the truth, we are seeing God’s wrath poured out in our communities, nation and world. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18 (English Standard Version)

What happens when we push for such beliefs, freedoms and opinions and God lets us have it our way? When God turns us over to our own hearts, it’s like He is saying to us, “Is this what you really want?”

Charles Holmes, writer and FreedomSquared.org contributor

Charles Holmes, researcher and writer, FreedomSquared.org

Proud of my friend, VATG radio show guest, a prayer partner and brother-in-Christ, Charles Holmes, Jr., researcher and writer for Christian think tank FreedomSquared.org. I am pleased to share with you his excellent article “Consequentialism in Romans,” as the Book of Romans lays out the consequences to these issues. His article outlines the many ways that we suppress the truth and the real reasons behind the accelerated deterioration happening in our nation.

http://www.freedomsquared.org/consequentialism-in-romans/

I pray the message speaks to your heart in those places where you may have suppressed the truth. Thank you Chuck, for sharing this powerful message with us. God bless you.

-Nicole

The Best Counselor

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (English Standard Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Praise be to the Most High! The Creator of heaven and earth! Praise! To the only God who has created the creatures of the land, water and us human beings! Praise him even more for providing a way in which we can now fellowship with Him again through Jesus Christ, His Son.

For you were once alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. Colossians 1:22-23

In our chosen passage of scripture we’re encouraged by the Prophet Isaiah’s Hope in the Messiah to come. For the Messiah was to bring relief in the midst of the people’s distresses and they would share in His victories. He would be called Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and Wonderful Counselor. Do we see Jesus as our Counselor?

Often times we depend too much on others instead of Him. While it is beneficial to have intimate support systems in our families and friends, our best counselor is Jesus Christ. For God has promised, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”Psalm 32:8

Isaiah 9-6 for unto us a child is born

Man is of a fallen nature and consequently they can only provide but so much help! Jesus is of an uncontaminated and sinless spirit for the Bible says that “the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear.” Isaiah 11:2-3

But it’s my prayer that we don’t only inquire of him when we get into trouble. Our days ought to be bathed in prayer for he is available at all hours of the day and all hours of the night. The Psalmist knew this very well when he said, “I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.–Psalm 16:7-8

You say, “But Jesus said He’s coming back someday. How can he counsel me now?” Friend, He has left you a Helper; One who can provide the same help in which you’ve received from Christ himself. For the Bible says, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26

I may be physically short in person but I am tall on my knees in prayer! The world may put their trust in men and their counsels “but for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge that I may tell of all your works.” –Psalm 73:28 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! Psalm 34:8-9 Amen

-Jason

Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.

VATG in Photos: Joyful Fellowship Within the Body of Christ

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Gratefully, God created us to fellowship with one another. Whether family, friends, spouses, children, colleagues, neighbors, classmates, customers or others, we can enjoy relationships based on shared interests or pursuits. Yet, I’ve experienced through the years (and perhaps you have too) a deeper, unexplainable joy shared among Believers when in fellowship with other Believers. What’s most striking is when such unity is felt across miles, time zones, geographical boundaries, through phone calls, emails and social media—perhaps never having met one another face to face. Such joy! Sometimes when speaking with my brothers and sisters in Christ I’ve said, “Can we do this all day, every day?!” While here on Earth, we’re experiencing a snippet of that joy of which we’ll taste fully and eternally one day.

Such joy was experienced during a recent surprise trip from her home in California to Washington, D.C. made by my/our dear sister in Christ and Voices Against the Grain ministry team member, Ana Martinez. A quick, 12-hour stopover with her family allowed Ana and I to meet for the first time in person since Ana joined our ministry team in August 2013!! A blessing to fellowship face to face! We’ve shared many phone calls and emails encouraging, sharing words of wisdom, praying with each other. We’ve hosted radio shows together separated by West Coast/East Coast time zones but joined by technology and united in Spirit.

Thank you Lord for the joyful fellowship you have created within the Body of Christ! Separated by miles but united in Spirit, I look forward to when all six of us ministry team members can fellowship face to face!  I also look forward to meeting other brothers and sisters in Christ who God has connected us to since launching the ministry in May 2013. I hope in reading this, you too have enjoyed that special and joyful fellowship experienced among Believers. Christ Jesus truly is our joy!

Photos below!

-Nicole

Nicole and Ana enjoy time at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Ana caught up with Nicole in D.C. (where Nicole resides) during a quick trip.

Ana Martinez (left) and Nicole D. Hayes (right) enjoy time at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.  Ana caught up with Nicole in D.C. (where Nicole resides) during a quick trip. (Photo courtesy: Ana’s sister “Milli.” Thank you Milli for capturing our moment!)

More smiles! A great time in fellowship!

More smiles! A great time in fellowship! (Photo courtesy: Ana’s sister “Milli”)

Fashionably fabulous ladies in the cold! VATG Digital Media Coordinator Destiney Bishop and Nicole D. Hayes enjoy a time of fellowship in November 2014 prior to Destiney's move from Maryland to New York. So much fun!

Fashionably fabulous ladies in the cold! VATG Digital Media Coordinator Destiney Bishop (left) and Nicole D. Hayes (right) enjoy a time of fellowship in November 2014 prior to Destiney’s move from Maryland to New York. So much fun!

More VATG team member photos here.