I Think We Will Be Surprised!

 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

I think we will be surprised, saints! We will be surprised by who comes to Christ in these last days. It may be someone you think least receptive and most stubborn. But this is what we’ve been praying for.

Remember: like you, they were also chosen before the foundations of the earth were laid. God knew them before He formed them in their mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). In human eyes we might say they’re slow in coming out of darkness, but through God’s sovereignty and pursuit, they are right on time. They are His sheep yet to join us in the sheep pen. One fold, one Good Shepherd.

The drawing process is not a formula and remains a mystery. We don’t know how God’s efforts are culminating in a person. We don’t know how God is stirring within their hearts. It’s not for us to know for it is a work of the Holy Spirit. The beauty is when we choose to cooperate with God’s efforts. This irritates Satan because it’s evident that God is present.

Recently, I viewed powerful online testimonies of Christians who were not always walking the path of eternal life. Whether near death, outrunning the bullet from a murderous drug dealer, or drowning in feelings of despair and hopelessness, they had nothing left. They had tried everything else and were left more broken than before. They were empty. They had come to the very end of themselves. They desperately cried out and called upon our loving God. They called out to Jesus to rescue them from their hell and their hurts. They remembered the prayers of loved ones. They had heard others speak of His unconditional love and ability to restore. They thought that if Jesus is indeed the One True God, then He was the only One who could save them.

They had no vanity, no pride and zero desire to assert their rights. They knew they were sinners and undeserving of any mercy. But they desperately hoped that the rumors were true: that if they called out to Him, He would answer. He was their only hope of any chance for a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

“Then you will call upon me and come to pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

prisoner

Saints: Are You Laboring for the 11th Hour Harvest of God’s Elect? The Time is NOW

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. (John 4:35)

It’s almost reaping time, dear saints! The last harvest is coming in. I am seeing more inklings and evidence of this especially from those I assumed were owned by the world yet God has been lovingly pursuing them in all of their mess. For those of us already in the Body of Christ, we are not to be mad at those who come into God’s Kingdom by the skin of their teeth and receive the same reward as those who have long served the Lord.

Matthew 20:1-16 speaks about the 11th hour. God’s people were grumbling working in the vineyard because some “came to the party late” and still received the same earnings, wages as those who had worked the vineyard longer. “The last of the harvest of God’s Elect are coming in” is what God is saying to the Body of Christ. They are sealed in His Blood. His Children receive the same inheritance. We rejoice whether they’ve known Christ most of their life or at the 11th hour! What joyful fellowship we will experience for eternity with our Savior! To feast with our fellow brothers and sisters at His table!!

Harvest worker
Prepare for the harvest, saints! They are coming! From those steeped in sin and waywardness to the person of intellectual pride and stubbornness—this is what we have been praying for, Hallelujah! Pray that those who God is drawing will heed His voice and turn to Him. Pray for hearts and minds to be transformed by His Word. Keep planting seeds of love, light and truth. Be intentional. Accept those divine appointments no matter how inconvenient. Continue to be a compelling witness because you are compelled by your love for God that those seeking may know Him.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Love and 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.

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10 Things I Shouldn’t Do But Do Anyway

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Ms. Goody Two-Shoes. Rule-follower. Frowns on those who repeatedly break the rules. From the time I invited Jesus Christ into my heart as my Savior at age 12 and even before, I’ve desired to obey Him because of my love for Him. I’ve also experienced the blessings of obedience and encourage it all the more.

However, I’ve also had to crucify pride and self-righteousness that have easily and unsuspectingly reared their heads when I’d previously compare what sins I hadn’t committed to what other people had done.

Prior to being saved, I lied about the smallest things to my parents to avoid punishment (ex: blaming my brother for the last bottle of soda consumed, or blaming him if something got broke). After getting saved, if my mom said something that I knew was untrue, I’d correct her. Finally, one day she said, “Nikki, stop it with that holier than thou stuff!!” (She was a Christian too)

I’ve come to understand, as the Scottish Baptist evangelist and author of My Utmost for His HighestOswald Chambers (1874-1917), said: “As long as our eyes are upon our own personal whiteness we shall never get near the reality of Redemption. Workers break down because their desire is for their own whiteness, and not for God.”

We will never be perfect. We are imperfect vessels. Yet, for those of us in relationship with Christ Jesus, we are being perfected through the righteousness of Christ. We are saved not by our record, but by Christ’s record. I don’t have to prove anything to Him. I don’t have to be perfect. He loves me regardless. He chose me for His work before I was formed in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5) and knew my faults. Yes, I desire to obey Him because I love Him—not to prove myself holier than thou.

Thankfully, He has chosen to use imperfect vessels like me and you to be co-workers with Him, to advance His Kingdom on this earth. We labor in this work as we continue to be sanctified/being made holy and shaped more into the image of Christ.

 

Cutie baby black girl

 

As an imperfect vessel, I share with you 10 things I shouldn’t do, but do anyway.   🙂

  1. Sometimes I eat dessert first. (My grandma’s voice repeats in my head saying, “You’ll spoil your dinner.”)
  2. Sometimes out of haste and laziness, I yank the cord from the wall rather than properly grabbing the plug from the outlet.
  3. Sometimes I wipe potato chip salt and grease on my jeans while consuming the entire bag in one sitting.
  4. Out of haste, I’ve shaved my brows instead of plucking, waxing or threading them (BAD move!).
  5. I don’t untie my tennis shoes when taking them off.
  6. I yank the one gray hair from my head that springs up occasionally (I know the tale about more gray hairs appearing if you do this. So far that hasn’t happened.).
  7. I imagine saying the words “I’m going to bust your (bleep)” if someone has done something that angers me.
  8. I still frown at people who disobey rules, particularly those that are clearly displayed.
  9. I’ve caved to cravings during a few fasts.
  10. Sometimes I stay up way too late watching 80’s TV shows (good TV!). Then end up hitting the snooze button in the morning. Ugh.

Thank goodness, He loves me anyway. Care to share your list?  Yes, this could get interesting.   🙂

-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.

 

Are You a “Profess”-ional?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Are you good at what you do? Most likely, you’ll answer “yes” to this question, particularly if you consider yourself a professional. Professional…the word in itself indicates a level of expertise beyond amateur. It suggests years of study, investment, implementation, tweaking, marketing and perhaps instructing others. It’s what helps you “bring home the bacon.” It’s the reason you have a LinkedIn page, business cards, résumé, website, storefront, etc., so others can know what skills you offer. It’s the reason you attend certain networking events to connect with other professionals in your field and similar fields. Whether you’re a professional dancer, driver, event planner, photographer, singer, writer or occupy another profession, you are good at displaying what you do.

Professionals

But for all that we’ve assumed the word “professional” to mean and imply, what if we’ve only viewed it from a worldly context and not a spiritual context?

During a recent bible study I participated, we discussed the word “professional” and its origin. Per Merriam-Webster, “profession” is defined as “relating to a job that requires special education, training or skill” or “participating in for gain or livelihood.” Yet the etymology, or origin of “profession” comes from the root word “profess.” It means to “declare openly.” In the Latin, “profess,” “profession” and “to call” has been combined to create “professional.”

As Believers, we are to publicly profess God’s call on our lives. This is our “profession.” People have likened “professional” to careers, but it originally meant our calling in the Kingdom of God. A beautiful tapestry that God has created in giving you and me a purpose! God told the prophet Jeremiah, who was preordained to declare the word of the Lord, that “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5). 

jeremiah 1;5 white

God has created you to boldly, unapologetically, unabashedly and confidently walk in your calling. God has intentionally created, elected, equipped, glorified, justified, predestined (Romans 8:30) and qualified you for your calling. The enemy and this world seeks to derail it and cause you to question it. Your gifts (Proverbs 18:16) and passions are part of your calling. Indeed, you are a called professional and you are good at what you’ve been called to do. If you are still seeking to understand your calling, ask God to reveal it to 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.

 

Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag!

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Copycats…right down to the jeans you wear, to how you style your hair, to the same schools you attended, degrees you earned to the professional titles you hold…and now to the SAME RED bag (purse) you carry. Where does it end??

The good news: I keep it real. The bad news: I keep it real. 

This topic is inspired by a powerful phone conversation I enjoyed with a dear friend a couple weeks ago. We’re alike in many ways, understanding very well each other’s line of thought, moral base, systems for operating, etc. The crescendo of our conversation entered the two-hour mark and by that time I responded to her, “Preach, woman!”

In short, she shared how a former college classmate and work colleague has copied her path. It’s questionable if the particular profession she’s patterned after my friend’s is even her true heart’s desire. The copycat simply fixed her eyes on the heights my friend’s path has taken her to and she wanted to acquire that same territory. My friend’s unique path has become the copycat’s idol. So much so, that she purchased the SAME red bag that my friend carries. Lord help!   lrg-red-bag

In my keeping it real with you, understand these three truths:

TRUTH 1: Everybody wants your formula for obtaining YOUR success. But they could hardly know all the sweat, tears, frustrations, lessons learned, starts and fits, doubts, pep talks, prayers, worries, second and third winds that are intricately blended into your “secret sauce.” They simply want the cookie-cutter pattern, the 11 secret herbs and spices without going through the laborious efforts, the hills and valleys or the necessary stretching to reach the next level.

TRUTH 2: It’s a privilege to mentor someone to aid them in successfully walking out their own unique path. It’s also a blessing that perhaps you’ve lived your life in such a way that people desire to pattern their lives after you. But taken too far, it becomes idolatry. The only One we should seek, pursue and pattern our very lives after is Jesus Christ.

TRUTH 3: You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). No carbon copies. God says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (New International Version). You’ve been set apart—for His purposes—for paths and purposes unique to you, not to be compared to others. You’ve been equipped with unique gifts to reach a specific population of people. As told in Proverbs 18:16, A person’s gift opens doors for him/her, bringing him/her access before important people. (International Standard Version)

Our God is Awesome! God is always doing new things (Isaiah 43:19)! We should always be growing, doing new things because this is what He desires for us! Frankly, what God did for you in 2013, won’t be the same thing He does for you in 2015! So those who seek to copy you and get your “secret sauce” will be working from old material! God is already directing you somewhere new!

There’s no secret formula, only to walk the path you are called to.

Get your own color bag because we’re already onto the ‘new.’ Mama’s got a brand new bag!

-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.

Look to Christ Above All Else

Psalm 28:7-The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (New International Version)

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Where do you put your trust? In riches and wealth? The size of your house? Your car? Your bank account? Your education? Your profession?  In man? Your physical strength? Your appearance?

All of these things can be gone instantly.  What you’ve accomplished or obtained is not merely by your own strength. God uniquely formed you and knew you by name in your mother’s womb as stated in Jeremiah 1:5. He is the Creator of all things and He is worthy to be praised in the time of plenty and in the time of lack.

The treasures of this world will fade away. Only God can restore all that has been lost. Only He can heal the broken heart. Accomplishments are great but living out His will for your life is greater!

I encourage you dear brothers and sisters to continue to put your faith and trust in Christ. Look to Him above all things and He will be your strength and shield. The world trusts in that which is meaningless. God does not love you more or less due to your outward appearance. He is concerned with all matters of the heart. Stop chasing the wind and praise Him for all that He has already done in your life. Look to God, not man, to fulfill your needs.

Isaiah 66:23-24-From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. 24- “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (New International Version)

-Ana

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative is Georgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.