The Importance of Hope

The one thing that we, as Christians, can never lose besides our faith and trust in God, is our hope in the Lord during trying times. If you lose hope in what God can do to change your circumstances, you will not find another answer.  Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is the anticipation and expectation that God will turn everything around and bring you out of the storm.  Hope is a powerful thing if you are ever forced to walk through a severe storm in your life.  For some, it will be the difference as to whether or not they make it all the way through the storm or not.

When your circumstances are tempting you to lose your hope in God, you must remember that God is able to bring goodness out of difficulty; God is able to bring life out of death and God is able to bring joy out of pain.  No one’s journey on this earth will be easy, but it is a journey that requires you to have hope in God.  God made you and He has saved you. No one else can take His place.  Believers have something non-believers don’t have. We have Almighty God who has the power to deliver us from any circumstances that come our way.  Trouble can come in an instant and that is why our hope and trust in God must remain active at all times.  Hope tells your mind that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Faith, mixed with trust, joined with hope, is a three-fold cord that will keep you intact during your struggles so that you make it to the finish line.  But if you lose your hope anywhere along the line, and your faith and trust levels decrease, you are putting handcuffs on your deliverance. God can only work with you if you are still out there on the playing field trying to win.  He will not work with you if you are sitting on the bench wallowing in your own self-pity!  You can only win in this life is you stay on the playing field and you keep pressing on.

Our hope, as Christians, is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ. If you are going through a struggle of any kind right now and it looks like your dream is not going to happen, visualize Jesus standing at the end of a tunnel holding your dream in the palm of His hand. Keep that vision in the front of your mind and see it when you start to doubt or want to give up.  Your faith is vitally important. It is the difference between life and death.  It is the difference between seeing your dream come to pass, or letting it pass you by.  No matter how tough your circumstances are right now, nothing will happen if you have lost hope, but everything can happen if you keep hope alive.

 

 

 

The Goodness of God

Have you ever sat down and considered just how good God has been to you?  If you have, I’m sure you are just over-whelmed at the mercy and goodness of God.  God’s blessings and benefits to us should leave us speechless and on our faces in total gratitude.  Our hearts should be full of joy and our eyes full of tears when we recognize the depth of God’s love for us.  Think about the prayers you have prayed from the bottom of your heart knowing that God, and only God, could help you.  And then one day you find out that God not only heard you, but He answered you by doing exceedingly above what you asked for.

How do you thank God for forgiving you of all your sins?  How do you thank God for healing all of your diseases?  How do you thank God for reaching down into the pit and placing you in a palace? How do you thank God for taking what Satan meant to harm you and turning it around for your good?  The short answer is – you can’t!  You will never be able to pay back God for all His gifts to you because you can’t out-give God!  God is the greatest Giver of all! Everything we have is a gift from God, but we should live in a state of gratefulness and be determined to render to God all that we are capable of.

Most people never consider God’s blessings to them.  They don’t realize that God is still giving to them day after day.  Until we are sick, we forget to thank God for our ability to get out of bed every day and get ourselves dressed.  But these are all gifts from God and we need to let Him know how grateful we are to have them. Psalm 116:12 says “what shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?’  Now, there are many ways to show God how much we love Him; in other words there are many ways to give back to God. You can give God some of your time. It doesn’t take much to spend 5, 10 minutes alone with God.  Talk to Him; tell Him how much you love Him; tell him how grateful you are for all He has done for you and your family.  Give back to God by being a good example of a wife, mother, husband, father, friend and by being a good boss or employee.  2 Corinthians 5: 20 says that we ‘are ambassadors for Christ.”  You are an ambassador at home, in the workplace and every where you go.  You give to God when you forgive a wrong that has been done to you.  You also give to God by the way you treat people. Treat others the same way you want to be treated.

Remember, your giving, no matter what form it is in, is a reflection of your love for God and your gratitude for His grace and gifts to you.  God is good and He desires that all of His children give out of love and reverence for Him so that the world will know that He is love and loved us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son so that we might have life and life more abundantly.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

One of life’s greatest blessings is to have a godly mother.  Mothers carried us inside their wombs for nine months, and endured the painful birthing process. That alone deserves a medal of honor.  Nobody can argue that mothers give significantly more of themselves to raising their children on a daily basis than they get credit for.  Yet, mothers rarely receive the honor they truly deserve. So everyone, take advantage of this opportunity you have to say thank you to the one person  in your life who is responsible for raising you, loving you, protecting you and who made sacrifice after sacrifice for you.

Mothers, when your children were babies, you probably dedicated them to God and as you watch them grow up, remember that God has a plan and a purpose for them.  Let your children see your faith in action.  Children learn much by observation and they are always watching, probably more than you know.   Do all you can to influence your children to live a godly life; pray for them; have compassion, and stand firm on your faith.  Countless mothers have learned to let go and let God do a work in their children that only He can do and they have learned that God is faithful.

For those of us who no longer have our mothers  here with us, pay honor to them by carrying out the desire of their hearts and that is to serve Jesus Christ all the days of our lives.  If you have a godly legacy, keep the torch burning by passing on the faith that has sustained so many before you.  Spiritual legacies are eternal and invaluable.  Heaven and earth will one day pass away but if you are walking in the salvation and faith of your godly mother, seeing you in Heaven will be her reward.

Mothers, we thank you and honor you and pray God’s blessing upon you!

 

 

Find His Grace – Find His Favor

All of us will go through a period of feeling so overwhelmed that we think we can’t take it.  We become overwhelmed by life itself, by people, by our circumstances; by the demands placed on us and it isn’t always easy.  It’s important that we understand that God knows our abilities.  He knows what we are capable of.  He knows what we can and cannot handle.  One of the many attributes of God is that He is an architect.  God has designed you just like an architect designs a building.  Understand that even though an architect never drives a bulldozer, or picks up a hammer or nail, he builds the building with specs to determine what grade of concrete, and steel and wood he must put in the building.  He designs it in a way to determine how much weight the building can stand.  You have been designed by God. He designed your strengths, your will, your personality and your tenacity and He already knows how well you will stand up under pressure.  He knows exactly what you have been designed to do in your lifetime and He knows that when the time comes, you will be able to handle the challenges you face.

The Bible says that God is faithful, and he will not allow us to be tempted beyond our abilities and that He will provide us a way of escape so that we may endure.  So when God says you are able to endure it, it is more than a word of encouragement.  It’s a word from the architect who constructed you, and He knows what you are design to do and what you were not meant to do.  That’s why you’re not going through what someone else you know is going through. They have the grace for it – you don’t! Your test and your temptation is determined by your construction and God’s purpose for you.  You can’t take what has been designed for someone else and they can’t take what has been designed for you! God’s grace is given to you exactly when you need it and you will find that it is more than sufficient.

God’s favor follows His grace and that is the key to over-coming every challenge that will come your way.  You only get to see what you are made of when your must endure the burdens that are put on your shoulders alone to carry.  You have a job to do and only you can do it.  You have a purpose to fulfill and only you can fulfill it.  You will win every time not only because of who you are but who you belong to.  Look for the grace of God in your life and you will also find His favor.

How to Deal with Problems

How do you deal with problems that come your way?  Many of us respond in the flesh and allow our problems to upset us, frustrate us and make us angry.  We often will grumble and complain and wonder why is this happening to me?  That is the natural part of us taking control, but as a Believer, we must have a totally different response and look at our problems from a Biblical point of view.  If you believe that ALL things will work together for your good, then you must first stop and consider Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Paul isn’t saying that we should be thankful for the problem; but he is saying that a problem is an opportunity for you to grow in Christ.

As you know there are many different types of problems; some are simple and can be resolved quickly but others are more complex and might be beyond your ability to solve on your own. You must not run from these problems or refuse to deal with them.  These problems must be given to God and you must be willing to accept God’s way of handling these problems.  Often, we pray about our problems in such a way that we are actually telling God how we want Him to respond.  You must remember that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts; so when we take our problems to God we must have faith and trust that it will all work together for our good.

You might find it difficult to patiently wait on the Lord.  You might be tempted to become frustrated and even angry if things are not working out the way you expected but it is your responsibility to let the spirit of God within you over-rule your flesh.  You have the power to be still and let God be God but it is a choice you must make.  God holds us accountable for our attitudes just as much as He holds us accountable for our actions.  A self-righteous attitude, a angry attitude or an unforgiving attitude will block God from providing your way of escape.  It is important that you evaluate your attitude and emotions when you are dealing with a problem beyond your control.  Remember, God knows and sees your heart.

Problems can make you fearful if you are focusing on the situation and not on God.  But God has not given you a spirit of fear and if you find yourself becoming fearful, speak to your mountain and let faith take charge.  Fear will stop you from responding the way God expects you to.  Fear does not bring honor to God, in fact, it dishonors Him because if you believe that God will never leave you; if you believe that nothing is too difficult for God, fear says ‘I don’t believe God is who He says He is!”  On the other hand, not having fear means you are standing on Psalms 118:6 that says “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” A man is known by what he does or says when he is under pressure, and your attitude and emotional state will indicate whether you are trusting God or if you are not.

Be mindful of how you respond to the problems that you encounter on your journey.  Don’t consider yourself a victim.  If you belong to Christ, you are more than a conqueror.  Christ died so that you can live in victory.  Grab a hold of that truth and let the peace of God reign in your heart today.

Ready for a Promotion?

When God feels that we have learned what we need to know on one level, He will take us to the next spiritual level where we are to learn new things.  Just like school children, Believers are to be growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ year after year.  The events that you have gone through should have added wisdom to your life and if that same thing should happen to you again, you would respond differently because you know more than before. In other words, you should be forever changing, becoming more and more Christ like as time goes by.

This change in your development is a transition from one degree of faith to the next.  It is the job of the Holy Spirit to make these changes within us.  God wants your life to be forever developing you so that you fulfill God’s plan and purposes for your life.  There are certain steps that you need to remember as you go from one level to the next.  The first key is when God is ready to move you, you must ‘go’ when He tells you, and you must continue to follow the Lord in your next level.  Don’t be anxious and get ahead of God; let God lead you. If following God has gotten you this far, why would you want to stop doing the very thing that got you this far?

Secondly, you must be prepared to leave the multitude behind!  There isn’t room for the crowd in your destiny; the crowd didn’t pay the price you paid to get promoted.  The multitude mentality is one of negativity. The multitude is more concerned about what you can do for them and not what they can do for you! Next, you must watch your confession.  We must be careful about what we say, especially during the storms of life!  We must remember to say what God says about every situation! Stand on God’s word and its promises.

Last, learn to handle the storms you encounter along the way. If you will get to know Jesus during the quite times of you’re life you will know Him during the storms!  Don’t let the crisis in your life discourage you, interfere with you or stop you from fulfilling God’s plan for your life.  Once you have the revelation of where God is taking you next, get on the offensive and tell Satan that you are more than a conqueror.  When in a crisis remember that there is nothing you will ever face that God cannot control.

As you journey through life, you never know what lies ahead of you. Don’t get so blessed and then forget about the Lord.  Being in the same boat with Jesus is where you want to be no matter who you are or where you are going.  Jesus makes all the difference and He wants us to trust Him on the good days and on the bad days.  Don’t live your life in fear.  Your response to the challenges you face will tell God if you are ready to go to the next level.  First the test and then the promotion.  Trust in the power and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life and you will move forward successfully.

Growing From Faith to Faith

As Christians we all want to be successful in what God has called us to do.  True success is determined by our ability to walk by faith, growing from faith to faith.  The righteousness of God is walking in the will of God.  We must be people of faith who are allowing the righteousness of God to dwell in us as we go from faith to faith.  There will be times in our lives when we need an extra measure of faith to get us to the next level God wants to take us.

Your growth as a follower of Christ will depend on your ability to submit to God’s authority.  Abraham submitted to the authority of God and showed his obedience by not withholding his son when told to sacrifice Isaac.  He passed this test of obedience and was allowed to keep what he was willing to let go of.  You, like Abraham, should be totally convinced that nothing is impossible with God.  It’s also important that you press on no matter what you are facing.  It doesn’t matter if you are in the valley or on the mountain top, God has promised never to leave nor forsake you and your faith should propel you to keep fighting the good fight of faith no matter what.

People of faith do not allow their faith to waiver even when others are living in doubt or mocking them for their belief.  Faith causes you to do what God has called you to do regardless of the support you may not receive from people who don’t understand your commitment to God.  You have a calling on your life, and you should walk in humility knowing that God is for you and believing that it is better to obey God rather than man.  Walking by faith will also allow you to act and not just talk about what you believe.  Your actions speak louder than words and saying that you believe but living a life that shows no evidence that you believe is meaningless.

God is calling all of us at various times to new levels of faith and some of these levels will require great faith.  Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”   Great faith says that you are fully persuaded, you are 100% convinced, you have no doubts.  You might have come this far by faith, but it will take great faith for you to receive all that God has for you.  Your journey on this earth will take you through many experiences; some will be hard, some will be painful and some will convince a person of less faith to throw in the towel, but remember that ‘without faith it is impossible to please God.’

Passion Week

Christians have so much to be thankful for and at the very top of the list is the gift of salvation.  This week, known as Passion Week, commemorates the last week of Jesus’ ministry on earth.  It began as a celebration with the people not understanding that this King of kings did not come to set up a political kingdom on earth, but He came to establish the spiritual kingdom of God which is powerful and eternal.

Jesus experienced many things during the last week of his life, such as the Passover he shared with his disciples; washing His disciple’s feet and being betrayed by Judas.  He also spent time accepting the will of His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He was later arrested and horribly beaten,  and on Friday, He was crucified and laid in a tomb.  All of this came as no surprise to Jesus, yet it was the most difficult thing He was called upon to do – give His life for the salvation of mankind.  Jesus had one purpose and that was to save the lost and He fulfilled that purpose after living just 33 years.

The life of Jesus is an example of how every child of God is to pattern their own life.  The kingdom of God is the exact opposite of worldly principles.  When we are living in the flesh we want to be served, but Jesus came as a servant to all and expects His followers to show their greatness by their service to others.  It is the nature of man to want to be first, to seek recognition for their accomplishments, but Jesus taught us that the first will be last and the last will become first.  Jesus showed us what it means to be humble.  He showed us how we must fulfill the will of God for our lives and how to be totally submitted to our heavenly Father.

This week is a time to reflect upon all that Jesus Christ did for the children of God.  He paid the ultimately price to reconcile man back to God which only He could do.  Take time to thank Him.  Show God how grateful you are for His grace and His mercy. Finally, examine yourself to be sure that you have laid down everything that could keep you from fulfilling your destiny.  Make sure that you are fully persuaded that the Word of God is true.  Be confident that you are giving God the honor due Him by putting Him first in your life, loving and forgiving as Jesus did, and most of all make sure that you are telling those who do not yet know Jesus as their Lord and Savior that He is extending His arms out to them today and whosoever calls upon His name shall be saved.

Waiting on God?

People in general do not like to wait, yet it’s safe to say that we  spend a lot of our time waiting.  Probably all of us are waiting for something at this very moment.  You might be waiting for a new job or a new contract.  You might be waiting to see if you get a loan to buy a car or house. You might even be waiting for the right girl or guy to marry.  We all have to wait whether we like it or not and one of the hardest things we will have to do on this earth is to wait on God.  If you are seeking God about anything, there are 3 things you should commit to do.

The first thing you should do is to be faithful. The things you do every day, especially the little things that make up the routine of life, those are the seeds of your future that you sow every day. Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”  This verse challenges us to take seriously the ordinary responsibilities of life and make sure we do them right. Many of us spend a lot of time day wishing that we were someone else and in some other place and get tired on our daily tasks.  But we should do everything unto the Lord whether it is washing dishes, being a school teacher or being a surgeon – do it right.  Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way: “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. If you are a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Beethoven composed music; do it so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.”

The second thing you must do is to always be ready. You don’t know when God will move on your behalf.  God didn’t invent the clock – man did.  God sees you, He has heard your prayer and you must believe that He is working things out for your good behind the scenes.  Keep the faith and show God that you are committed to Him and you trust Him.  Keep your eyes upon Jesus and be ready at all times.  Your dream could be just one prayer away.

The third thing is to be bold and courageous.  Go boldly before the throne of grace and lay your petitions at the Lord’s feet. Do a little self talk and remind yourself that God loves you and He has great plans for you.  God’s delays are not denials.  Don’t allow your present circumstances to hold you captive. Speak out boldly declare that nothing is impossible with God and stand firm on His promises.

Isaiah 40:31 “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  If you are waiting on God be faithful, be ready, and last but not least, be bold and courageous and your reward will be great.

 

Standing at a Crossroad

All of us are, or have been, or will be at a cross road at some time in our life.  Standing at the crossroad, we begin to wonder how and when will we hear God’s word to us on what He wants us to do next.  The goal of every Believer should be to make their life count for something; to make sure that at the end of their life, the legacy they leave behind has made a difference and has left a mark on this world to make it a better place.  It’s not fun being at a crossroad because you don’t know where or what to do;  but you are sure of one thing – that something is changing within you.

You begin to ask yourself the inevitable questions:  What will I do when God makes His will known? What if I don’t want to do it?  Do I have the time? Do I have the gifts and talents, the skill set for this task?  Am I a “good enough” person to fill this role?  But God’s Word is proof that the one who calls is also the one who quips.  Therefore, if the call is of God, the answer to all the above questions is yes.

Do you feel like you are being challenged for something bigger, something unfamiliar?  If so, it’s important to learn to wait on God and not get ahead of Him.  You  don’t want to go off on your own, doing your own thing without the blessing and favor of God on your life.  There are four things you should do when at a crossroad and that is to stand, look, ask, and walk.  We are to stand on the promises in the Word of God.  We are to look or keep our eyes upon Jesus who is the author of our faith.  Next, we are to ask God for wisdom and guidance on what He would have us to do, and last we are to walk in the ways of the Lord.  If we follow this formula, we will please God and be successful in all we do.

I would like to paraphrase a couple of lines from Robert Frost.  My version goes this way: “Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the one Christ traveled by, And that has made all the difference!”