“Yet, I Will Rejoice.”

Life is unpredictable. We never know what we will face from one day to the next. It is beyond our control.  What we do control is our response to the trials before us.  Are circumstances going to increase your faith or dampen your spirits?  Will your attitude glorify God or be defined as full of doubt and fear?  We must recognize that our trials are not about us, but about other people. Through our trails, God may be creating a situation to allow our response to be a testimony to someone else.  God only gets the glory if we go through difficult situation with a heart that trusts God and with a mouth that never ceases to praise Him.  We have to go through our trials and tribulations giving God the glory so that others will know that He is able.  You have got to come to the ‘yet’ in your life, which means God hasn’t delivered you yet. Habakkuk 3:18 says “ Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.”

A joyful attitude is a choice and is available to everyone and it comes through an intimate and personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  When you trust in God to be your strength,  He will give you something that you cannot give yourself. When everyone else is looking at their obstacles, God makes our feet like hinds feet.  We have the ability to go higher.  We are able to see what others can’t see. Our trust and faith in God enables us to see beyond what is directly in front of us.  We see ourselves overcoming every obstacle and it takes hinds feet to push us to that higher level, a level above the normal, a supernatural level.  One moment we are facing destruction but suddenly things begin to turn around for our good. Joy is the evidence that we know our ‘yet’ surely will come because God is faithful and He is a promise keeper.

Faith’s answer to disappointment must always be: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in the God of my salvation”.  Being certain of the ‘yet’ will enable us to live above the circumstances instead of under them.  ‘Yet’ holds onto faith even when nothing makes sense and when troubles seem more than you can bear.  Fix your eyes upon the Lord when in discouraging circumstances and you will find a source of everlasting joy that will glorify God.  No matter what others do, it is about what you choose to do when God hasn’t delivered you yet.  It’s your choice….it’s all up to you!

The God Of The Impossible

Have you ever come to the conclusion that there was something in your life that you very much wanted but that it seemed impossible to happen? You thought about it, you dreamed about it yet you accepted the fact that it will never happen.  The dictionary defines the word ‘impossible’ as ‘incapable of being or incapable of occurring.” I’m sure that many of you feel that way or have felt that way in the past. You have asked God for the impossible because there is no way you could bring it to pass on your own. And, it doesn’t have to be something materialistic; it could be your not being able to forgive a certain person for something they did in the past to you. Or, it could be you need a healing miracle for yourself or a loved one. But the good news is that because of Jesus Christ we always have hope; Why? Because with God ‘all things are possible.’ That dream, that forgiveness, that healing, they are all possible.

So the question is – How do we get there from here? How do we move from impossible to possible? The answer is not difficult at all – the answer is PRAYER! Prayer is the key that opens the spiritual doors to the ‘all things are possible’ in the kingdom of God. When life overwhelms us, the best thing we can do is keep our eyes upon Jesus. Jesus wants to encourage us; He wants to lift us up and He wants to give us strength when we need it. You will be encouraged; your burdens seem lighter and you find strength after you have spent time in prayer. This is what being in the presence of the Lord will do for you. Do you realize that no matter what you have prayed about – no matter how impossible it appears to be – God is able to do more than that? With God you always get more!

We serve the God of the impossible, and we should pray impossible prayers with confidence. Prayer brings us peace and when we pray and know it’s God’s will, we are given a peace that passes all understanding. God created the universe and continues to hold it together. How much more can He do with your life if you believe that He is able! God is able but you won’t experience this if you do not make prayer a part of your everyday life. I encourage you to pray impossible prayers – to launch out into the deep and pray God-sized prayers. God loves it when we pray for the impossible, when we believe Him for things that are beyond our abilities. He is looking for those with faith who will still press through in prayer when the going seems absolutely impossible. Faith is always praying. Prayer is always believing. Give God everything that seems impossible to you and believe that He is the God of the impossible.

“In All Things Give Thanks”

Have you ever done something that you thought was special for another person and they in turn just took it for granted – they never thanked you for doing it?  As we approach Thanksgiving this week, let’s all remind ourselves of what we should be thankful for. Psychologists tell us that sincere gratitude or thanksgiving is the healthiest of all human emotions.  They say that gratitude produces more positive emotional energy than any other attitude in life.  You see the act of giving thanks is not only good for the giver but also good for the person on the receiving end.   When people are not grateful they tend to complain more and that is not good because not only does God hear your words of gratitude, He also hears your words when you complain and He doesn’t like it.  Numbers 11:1 says “And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it.”

The Masai Tribe in Africa have a unique way of expressing their gratitude.  When they want to say thank you to someone who has helped them, they quietly sit on the ground in front of the hut of the person who did them the favor for hours at a time.  They are not only telling the person how thankful they are, but they are also showing the whole tribe how grateful they are.  Ungratefulness is one of the worst of all sins especially when we enjoy the blessings of life, food, home, friends, health, and live in a land of freedom and never even say “thank you” to God. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I don’t think we can ever give too much praise and glory to God.  Our hearts should be over-flowing with thanksgiving for who He is, what He has already done and what He has planned for our future.  I pray that our hearts will turn back to God and we will once again give God pre-eminence in our lives. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says “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 will forgive their sins and heal their land.” Now is a good time for the people of God to humble ourselves, pray and seek His face to bring unity, love and peace to this divided nation.  If we don’t, then who will?

Your Words Matter

Words are incredibly powerful. They can build up, encourage, and motivate or they can also tear down and deeply hurt others.  Our words will either create something good and positive, or they will create something negative – something we really don’t want. Proverbs 18:21 says “death and life are in the power of the tongue; and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  The success or failure of a Christian is based on the positive or negative confessions they make on a daily basis.  A true confession of faith will always agree with the Word of God so we must learn to speak words that are positive and encouraging.  Your faith will never rise above the level of your positive confessions.

An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them to make it through the day.  A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill their spirit to the point that they give up and stop trying.  When Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the desert,  He used words only from scripture to fight and resist the devil.  He knew the power and force behind the words that are God-breathed.   With our words we can agree with God or agree with the devil; the choice is ours to make.  It is easy and uncaring to speak ungodly words, but it takes real effort and desire to speak words of love and faith.

God does not want us to use our words as a weapon to tear another person down. He wants us to use our words to bless others.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We should not under-estimate the value of an encouraging word for it just may provide great comfort at just the right time to make a big difference in someone’s life.  I’m sure that you can remember a time when you were at the end of your rope ready to give up and someone crossed your path that day with a word that lifted your heart and gave you the boost you needed to hang on just a little while longer.

Job 22: 28 says “Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee; and the light shall shine upon thy way.” Exercise your faith and build God’s word into your life. The power behind God’s word will change your circumstances; it will even change the atmosphere around you. Speak positively not only for yourself but for those around you who might be struggling with the challenges of life who need to hear words of faith and receive hope that only you can give them.

Your Destiny

How are we able to believe that God does indeed have a destiny for us when the pressures of life make us think that our destiny is out of our reach?  I can assure you that every one of us has a destiny and it is God’s ultimate plan for your life.  Jeremiah 29:11says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Too often people allow adversity to become the final verdict over their lives.  They faithfully poured themselves into something that was close to their heart only to one day see that it did not turn out to be what they had envisioned. There is a feeling of defeat that can penetrate your soul that could cause you to question your self-worth, let alone think that you have a bright future.  This would be true if we allow the enemy to have his way but Romans 8:37 tells us “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Because we are more than conquerors, we have more than enough within us to walk into the destiny that God has already ordained for our life.

One factor that can hinder you while you are pursuing your destiny is negative words from others.  Many times others can see your destiny even when you can’t, and if it’s a person that does not want to see you succeed, chances are, they won’t have any problem offering words of discouragement.  Words like: “I’ve seen a lot of people fail in that area.”  Or “you don’t have enough experience.”  I suggest that you use wisdom and discernment in determining who you should share your hopes and dreams with.  Ask the Lord to make you as wise as a serpent yet harmless as a dove, as stated in Matthew 10:16.  In the fullness of time the will of God will be done in your life, but can you fight the good fight of faith and endure to the end?

God’s destiny for you will not change.  God cannot change.  He made a promise and God is a promise keeper.  We must learn not to measure the power of God by our circumstances.  God’s destiny for you isn’t based on how you feel, or what you are going through or what you can’t see ahead of you.  You might think that you are stuck in a situation and that nothing good lies in your future, but nothing is further from the truth!  You don’t know the end of your story; it hasn’t happened yet.  Be assured that God has a plan to take you from where you are now to where He has planned for you.  Trust Him and never doubt no matter what it looks like right now.

 

Don’t Throw This Away!

Hebrews 10:35 says “So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded.” In other words, your encouragement for today comes from yesterday’s victories.  Remember that time when your back was up against the wall and there was no way out? Suddenly, God, with all of his grace and mercy came and rescued you.  Or, that time when out of nowhere good things just started happening in your life that you could not explain?  Or, that time when you were very sick but God has given you more time. Take a stroll down memory lane and you will always end up on a street named GRACE! That’s why our encouragement for today comes from yesterday’s victories.

God’s Word is infallible.  In other words, it is without error and since it is without error that makes it true.  God cannot lie.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  He is the one who can just think it and it happens, and if He said that ‘you will be richly rewarded’ you will be richly rewarded!  However, you must have patience and faith to endure. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We have to have faith from the beginning to the very end.  Faith is continuous; we must walk by faith day by day.  The reward, the fulfillment of God’s promise, will be waiting after your faith has been tested, but if we are ever going to receive the reward, we must remain faithful to the end.  We just don’t become faithful over night; it’s a growing process.  A mark of mature faith is a faith that continues when it seems that there is no answer.

Too many people are throwing away their eternal reward because Satan is bringing doubts into their minds concerning God’s ability to fulfill His promises.  The reward of continuing to walk with God far outweighs the alternative that Satan offers, so it is imperative that you do not throw away the confidence you have in God.  Confidence is something that we either have or don’t have.   It is fully trusting in someone or something with the assurance that what you believe is true.  One of the reasons so many people lack confidence is because at the first sign of struggle they give up.  What happened to Peter’s faith while walking on water?  Little by little doubts set in. In every test we will have to make our decision as to whether we are going to trust God or not. God will not allow Satan to destroy us. He will not allow us to fall.  Just as He did with Peter, He will always reach out and pick us up.  God not only cares but He has the power to overcome anything that faces us, no matter how hopeless it may seem to us.

Confident people are not controlled by doubt and fear.  Their faith changes everything especially the way they live.  Confident people remember what God did for them yesterday and are confident that He will do it again.  So, live your life trusting God to fulfill His promises in His own time and in His own way and if you do, you will be ‘richly rewarded.’

Your Promised Land

Are you where you imagined you’d be at this age? And God told them “You have stayed long enough in this mount.”(Deut. 1:6) God wants us to pass through the place we are now to a place He has in mind.  Everyone in life has his promised land. Unfortunately, some people will not reach that place but some will reach it. Many people are on a merry-go-round (going nowhere fast) and they are comfortable.  Their expectations, or lack thereof, doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for them so they remain exactly where they are. They continue to do what they are currently doing and they are getting the same results.

Some people won’t reach their promised land because they are focused on the obstacles rather than on their goal.  Obstacles are the frightening things you see when you take your eyes off of your objective.  Your greatest crisis will come because of the fear of the problem and not the presence of the problem.  If you focus on the difficulties, you will never take the risks necessary to move forward. Instead of working on a strategy to overcome the difficulties, some people decide that they just can’t do it. They chose to walk by sight and not by faith.  When you stop using your spiritual sight you will see only the obstacles in front of you and you will not possess the wisdom to realize that God has a plan.  God’s plan is designed to move you from the place you are now into the place He has prepared for you.

God told the children of Israel that they would have to fight for their promised land and that is true for us today.  It is not our job to question how God will fight for us.  You will never see the blue print of your journey.  It is our responsibility to take God at His word and move forward in confidence and not be intimidated by the fiery darts of the enemy.  Intimidation sees giants; faith reduces the giants to grasshoppers.  Faith pushes you into the realm of the supernatural thus making your battles an uneven fight in your favor. God loves uneven battles because He gets all the glory.

Don’t continue to go around the same mountain any longer.  Put your faith to work and enter into your promised land.  Your promised land is a place of abundance; a place of prosperity and a place of peace for you.

God Loves to Bring Good Out Of Bad

God takes things we would never dream He could use and He uses them in such a way to mold us into the mature believers He wants us to be. That is why the Bible says that ‘all things work together for our good. (Romans 8:28). The things you wish were most removed from your life are often the very things that God is using to shape and build your character so that you become most like Him.

On earth there will always be opposition of one kind or another. When opposition comes, it’s easy to get your focus off the Lord and onto your problems. That is why Paul told us to “set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col. 3:2). When faced with opposition, you have several options: you can run from it; you can try to avoid the inevitable and pretend that it is not there, or you can meet it head on and work through it. The last option is God’s will for you because God wants you to allow opposition to drive you to a greater dependence on Him. John 10:10 says that ‘Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy.’ Don’t allow Satan to steal the life God has planned for you.

God’s goal is to prepare you for the place He wants to bring you to. You must trust God’s plan for you even if you don’t understand the oppositions in your life right now. Life is not a series of random accidents.   There is a purpose and meaning for your life. God knows what’s going on with you. Nothing can come into the life of a child of God without God being aware of it.  I am not saying that everything that happens to you in life is God’s perfect will.  That’s just not true.  There are a lot of things that are not God’s will but God is an expert at bringing good out of bad.

God loves to turn misery into ministry. He wants to use that opposition you have for good in your life. God is in control – never doubt that! Our world is in need of people who have faced opposition head on and rose to the challenge and are now telling others how to do it. Remember, ‘they overcame by….the word of their testimony.” (Rev.12:11).

The Fruit Of Patience

We all know people who are short-tempered: people who lose patience quickly and blow up in anger. God does not want His children to live in agitation but in peace. God is patient, and His Spirit produces the fruit of patience in us. Patience means the ability to hold one’s temper for a long time. It is the ability that allows us to look at people and not at their circumstances or behavior. A patient person is able to endure much pain and suffering without complaining. Patience has to do with having a fairly long fuse, being able to absorb life’s annoyances without exploding in anger. Proverbs 15: 18 tells us the consequences of being impatient. “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” An impatient person is annoyed, intolerant, worried and has a desire to seek revenge. Patience shows self-restraint and allows a person to think before he acts. When we are patient, we leave room for God to work in our hearts and we lay down our schedule and trust in God’s. When we’re patient, we can absorb life’s irritations and annoyances. We can absorb them the way a good thick towel absorbs splatters and spills. Being impatient prevent us from seeing, as our Lord wants us to see, that all things will work together for our good. We should always place our trust in the Lord and not let the temporary things of life bother or distract us from our purpose and call.

God has been incredibly patient with us. 2 Peter 3:9b says “ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Since patience is a fruit of the Spirit, we can only possess patience through the power and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We must “put on” Christ, meaning we must conduct our lives in the same way Christ would if He were in our position.  That is how we please God.  There are several reasons why we should practice patience.  First, patience acknowledges that you realize that you are not perfect.  Matthew 7: 1,2 says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” No one in the Bible was perfect except Jesus himself, and you and I will never be perfect.  So how can we judge and be impatient with others?  Secondly, being patient shows that you have inner peace because impatience reflects an inner turmoil which should not be so if you have faith.  God gives us the power through the Spirit to have great endurance and patience and in light of all that God has done for us, we have a peace and joy not found in the world.

We can only have patience with others if we have faith in God.  Our faith assures us that we know that God is in control of every situation we might find ourselves in.  If you believe the Word of God, you will not let stress or doubt enter your mind.  Allow the fruit of patience to be evident in your life and be patient as God is patient. God wants us all to be like Him and He has given us His Spirit to make it possible.

 

 

Embrace Change

There is one fact in life that we all know to be true and that is everything must change; nothing stays the same.  From the moment we are born we are changing.  Our mind and bodies grow and develop as we mature into an adult.  We move to different places, the school year ends, we take a job or we change jobs until the day we retire which is a long anticipated change for many.  Seasons change; winter turns into spring, spring into summer and summer into fall.  The people around us also change.  We watch our children grow and become adults on their own.  Our friends, come and go and while all of these changes are going on, the world we know is constantly changing.  We wish things would stay the same but change will come, whether we want it to or not.

The question becomes how do we cope with change?  Just because we are living in a changing environment, we must not become overwhelmed by change.  Change per se is neither good nor bad; it’s what we make of it.  Change brings opportunities for growth, for learning, for real happiness.  We should not fear change but attempt to find out the greater purpose that can come about through it. Maybe a change is necessary to keep you from doing things your way to doing things the way God would have you do them.  So, why not meet change with a positive attitude and an open mind?

It’s not what happens to you in life that determines your future.  It is how you respond to what happens that determines your future. Analyze what your thoughts, plans, and goals are.  Do they line up with the vision and destiny God has planned for your life?  If not, renew your mind.  Allow God’s vision to become your vision.  If handling change is difficult for you, pray the Serenity Prayer and ask God to “grant you the serenity to accept the things you cannot change; the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference.”  When you change what you believe from I can’t to I can, you open the door for God to cover your weakness with His strength.   Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Remember, the life God has planned for you is bigger and better than the one you are living now!