“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” Psalm 100:1-2
As we step into 2015, we hold great expectations and goals for the New Year. We anticipate change whether good or bad, but either way we go forward with hope or anxiety entering into the unknown.
As we confess our resolutions, plans, and goals, we may feel overwhelmed, yet hopeful of what is to come. However, we often put a time limit on success. When we don’t meet those expectations, we experience disappointment and we feel like a failure.
We live in a time-based society. We are consumed by hectic schedules and unrealistic demands. The Lord is not limited to time. He orchestrates our lives according to His intricate plan for our lives. He plants the right connections, family, friends, enemies, challenges, obstacles, struggles, and experiences in our lives for a purpose.
Some people are just for a season while others are rooted in our lives for longevity. “Each experience is not a result of luck or coincidence. It is the result of His divine plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11.
The ups, as well as the downs, are part of our development and growth process. It doesn’t take much to praise God in the easy times. However, when we are locked into bondage, it is hard to trust, praise, read the Bible and rest in the Lord.
We all have different prisons: A failed marriage, a friend or family member who has committed suicide or has died in a tragic accident, depression, drugs or alcohol addictions, poverty, job loss, natural disaster aftermath, or terminal illness.
We struggle with our identities: Low confidence, self-esteem issues, jealousy, competitiveness, egos, and status. We may even be in a good place in life, but still, feel like we can’t breathe; stuck in a routine, and trapped in mediocrity.
All of our life issues send us on an emotional rollercoaster ride that is rooted in fear, anxieties, abuse, torment, confusion, isolation, procrastination, temptation, sadness, and discouragement.
When we have negative feelings and experiences, it sucks our energy dry. We are stagnate and idle. We are unable to focus or can’t seem to move forward.
The best thing to do when you have moments of despair is to praise the Lord no matter how hard it may be. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s true.
However, if you are dealing with serious issues such as a chemical substance or physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse, you will need to seek rehab and/or counseling immediately.
All throughout the Bible, music is emphasized. The whole chapter of Psalms exhorts the Lord. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people. It is the best way to get God’s attention. This is a form of worship and communication with God that builds relationships not only in the good times but in the worst of times.
Satan’s desire is to shut our mouth in prayer and worship. His whole goal is to steal our joy, hope, faith, and truth. He wars with us to establish lies into our minds and hearts. However, where God is present the devil can’t reside. Where there is light, darkness is obliterated.
Do you ever notice when you listen to music you start to feel better when you’re down? Music speaks to our soul. It is a powerful force. It stirs up emotions. When we listen to worship music it lifts our spirit. It encourages and inspires us. It gives us hope to go on. When you sing to the Lord, you open your heart to Him. You rejoice in his love, grace, and mercy even through pain, you begin the healing process.
It’s not about how we feel inside when we are singing or listening to music, but it’s because of who God is that makes worship so special and powerful. When you magnify Him, your problems become smaller and you enlarge His territory to work in your life. Your focus is now on the solution and not the problem.
Whatever trouble or prison you may be in, open your mouth and shout unto the Lord for He is worthy to be praised. “Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.” Psalm 95:2
We are transformed by His power. He has kept us under the safety of His wings. We are released from whatever is holding us back once we renew our minds and align our thoughts with God’s thoughts. This is a season of action and redemption. Accept no limitations as we move forward in faith with high expectations in this New Year.
In 2015, receive God’s promises and blessings for you and your family.
Singing praises to the King, we are set free, in Jesus’ Name.
“And at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundation of the prison were shaken and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed.” Acts 16:25-26.
“Thou has turned my mourning into dancing thou has put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” Psalm 30:11
During this season, we are busy preparing for the biggest day of the year: Baking cookies, stringing lights on the tree, attending Christmas parties, going shopping, and wrapping presents.
Christmas can also be a very depressing and lonely time of the year for many. While family and friends gather together, many are left alone. Others are left without gifts, food, or shelter. Others may have lost a loved one and Christmas is just not the same anymore. It can crush someone’s spirit when they don’t feel joy and cannot celebrate as others do.
Jesus cares. It’s through Him that we share His same spirit to help and assist one another in life. A kind word, a hug, a listening ear, a warm touch, or simply a smile can heal unspoken wounds or silent tears.
Jesus is with you in the most desperate of times. His name, “Emmanuel” means God with us. Yes, we may ignore his presence when everything is going great in our lives, but He never leaves us regardless if we acknowledge him or not. He patiently waits for us to come to Him. He is patient and kind and loves us more than we will ever know.
Through all the exciting festivities, I challenge you to take time out during the holiday season to focus on the reason for the season which is the birth of Christ. The Lord sent His Son for our salvation which is the greatest gift in the world. His presence is forever with us. We are part of His heavenly family once we acknowledge Him and accept Him into our hearts as our Lord and Savior.
I-pads, tablets, iPhones, the latest video games, or flat-screen TVs will never compare. Jesus is the greatest Christmas presence ever known.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Luke 2:14
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” Matt 12:25
As we eagerly wait for Spring to arrive and leave the harsh, bitter Winter behind, our minds are focused on warmer weather, budding flowers and spending time outside. We welcome fresh renewal by purging the old items we no longer want, cleaning our homes and reorganizing our spaces.
The foundation of our living space should be a peaceful dwelling place. I usually refer to home as “My sanctuary.” It’s a place where you should be comfortable and it should provide an escape from the outside world.
Sadly enough, some people do not have a steady foundation. Their homes are built on disrespect, lack of trust, abuse or neglect. Instead of the home being a place of refuge, it’s a place of war consisting of conflicts, stress and strife.
When your spirit (also known as your “temple” or “house”) is out of order, it mirrors your personal space. The confusion often felt on the inside manifests itself in the physical realm.
When your space is clean, organized and quiet, you have the opportunity to think better and even have more peace. You will also have harmony, balance in your home, and increase in productivity.
The same way we clean a house; we should clean our spirit daily. We need to give up: Sin, temptation, lust, jealousy, gossip and bad language. We also need to let go of the past, purge negative thinking and release pain, guilt or shame. We should forgive others, accept what we cannot change and begin to move forward with faith and hope. If there’s anything that is blocking us from getting closer to the Lord, we need to relinquish and surrender to be set free. When we welcome Christ into the midst of our house, the atmosphere will change (internally and externally). “Thou will show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11
“All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit is good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matt 12:31-34
“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, I will return into my house from which I came out; and when he is come, he finds it empty, swept and garnished. Then goes he and takes with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” Matt 12: 43-45
“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord; till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12-13
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit; and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb 4:12
“Therefore whosoever hears this sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house (spirit) upon a rock; And when the rain descended, and the floods came; and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. (The Word of God). And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell and great was the fall of it.” Matt 7: 24-27
“Blessed is the man that trusts in the Lord and whose hope is in the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:7
As we entered 2014, we also entered into one of the coldest weather conditions in U.S. history. Meteorologist explained this strange weather patterns as, “The Polar Vortex.”
It’s a very thought-provoking term, “Vortex” which is defined as a “Whirlwind” which includes a second definition meaning, “A condition that you can’t get out of.”
Have you ever been in a situation or circumstance that you just don’t know how to escape? It’s like you’re wrapped in a spider’s web of confusion, fear, despair, isolation, discouragement, hopelessness, depression, frustration, pain, or worry. You don’t have the answers and the future looks bleak. You have tried to consult friends, family possibly even professionals with no resolve.
It’s very hard to trust the Lord when you’re life has flipped upside down and turned inside out. It’s even harder if you don’t know God, his promises, or His character. “That I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection” Philippians 3:10
Your life may have exploded and you’re left to pick up the pieces. When facing challenges, it’s hard to focus on the positive or have an optimistic attitude. I’m not going to lie but it’s a struggle we all face. The only difference is those who have experienced the Lord and those who have not. People tend to believe in coincidences, luck, or happenstance without acknowledging the spiritual forces at work in their lives. We are living in very dangerous times in which it will require the power of God to overcome problems, situations, and circumstances.
You may not feel like God is listening to your prayers but God is working behind the scenes. You may not understand why it is taking so long for your prayers to be answered but God is not under our time table or calendar. He is working things out according to His will and plan for your life. You were designed for a special purpose. The Lord wants a relationship with you not just sudden requests when things go wrong in your life. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
The Lord allows certain things to happen in our lives to prepare us and shape us for His purpose. Of course, not all of the things we experience is God’s will, but He will turn things around for our good. We must develop faith and patience in prayer and our daily lives. “That you be not slothful, but f followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” Heb 6:12, 15
Back to the “Polar Vortex,” The snowstorms have caused major disasters, increased depression, stress, isolation, and unfortunately roadside deaths.
All activity was frozen for a period of time. People were either stuck in their homes or on the roads. Somehow, I feel God was slowing us down so we would do absolutely nothing so He could get our attention! We were stuck, isolated, and frustrated! But, we still did not pay attention. It was time to yield and cease all activity. However, we continued to go about our business and let the weather stress us out.
Once we release the stress of dealing with cold, miserable weather and other things that we can’t control, we will free ourselves of things that we simply can’t change. By coming to this acceptance, we enter into peace. In the process, seasons change, and flowers bloom. It’s through this process, we gradually come through whatever storm we may be dealing with in life. Unfortunately, the whole process may be postponed, delayed, or slowed down. Although it may be an inconvenience or an uncomfortable situation, we will get through it and obtain victory in the end.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:14
Do you ever feel like you are constantly going in circles? Using a lot of energy but not getting anywhere?
As we enter into a New Year, we set out to make new plans and set new goals. We often want to make so many changes that we become overwhelmed in the first few weeks of the year that we eventually return to our old ways of thinking and doing. Our enthusiasm quickly fizzles and by the end of the year we are feeling depressed for what we haven’t accomplished.
Motivation and hope is the most important thing to hold onto during the year. I truly believe that’s why the majority of people get stuck, get off track or simply quit.
Most people try to make preparations and major decisions in their own power but they do not realize that they need guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. It takes prayer, stillness, worship and relationship with the Lord to supply spiritual power to make the changes that you anticipate.
Unfortunately, we have a fast food mentality and expect things to work instantly. Text messaging, Wi-Fi connections, social media communications have spoiled us. Patience is no longer an option, but with God it is the ONLY option. He requires us to have patience. Through time we are molded into His character. “I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” Psalm 130:6
I recently read a book that contained brief chapters. I finished the book on December 31st to be exact. I believe that I was motivated to complete the book at record speed because of the short chapters that it provided.
Instead of setting such high goals at the beginning of the year, we should try setting attainable, short term goals that should be reviewed on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. Don’t worry if you mess up or fall off your schedule. Just start over. “It is the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed because His compassion fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lam 3:22-23
Our biggest resolution should be striving to be better than the day before. Don’t carry the burdens of last year. Even though there are things that have not changed as of yet, try to have a new, fresh perspective. Things will eventually shift because nothing in life remains the same. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corth 5:17
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Old things have passed away, behold I am doing a new thing.”
Use each day to work towards your goals, but take time to rest. Resting is essential to productivity. You cannot think clearly if you are constantly running on empty which also requires a healthy diet. When you align your mental, physical and spiritual self, you will regain fulfillment and peace. A balanced life is essential for victorious results.
If you have consistency, determination and resiliency, you will see the fruits of your labor. Preparation, organization and delegation also plays a big part in managing your goals and plans. By the end of the year, you will experience transformation in ways that you could never imagine. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:6
“For I know the plans that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jer 29:11
Christmas is a time for gathering with family and friends. It’s a time of great activities and celebration. During this time of year, we are busy putting the decorations on the tree, cooking extravagant meals, baking Christmas cookies and shopping for that special gift.
Sometimes we are so wrapped up in the holiday activities that we forget about our priorities and responsibilities until the upcoming year which brings on additional stress.
For others, it’s a time of sadness because of a lack or loss. We may have lost a loved one and may still be mourning the loss. Others may not have the means to buy gifts and food which are highlights of the Christmas season. Just having the basic necessities is a struggle.
This time of year can be very sad and depressing in the hearts of the elderly who are left alone or the sick waiting for their pain to go away.
Unfortunately, life brings on difficult situations that may be very difficult to handle. Whether you’re on the top of a mountain or in the valley, God is with us. He does not discriminate. Jesus is the greatest gift that was ever given to us. His Love surpasses all that we could ever achieve or want. Every moment we breathe is a gift from God.
We will continue to search for things and strive for more to fill the void in our lives. In the end, things get broken, lost, forgotten, worn out or you just get plain tired of it. Those things that made us so happy at one time; leaves us feeling empty.
The void in our lives can only be filled with the love of Jesus. There is healing in the name of Jesus: Deliverance in the name of Jesus; Protection in the name of Jesus; Provision in the name of Jesus; Power in the name of Jesus.
We must remember his presence as we go about celebrating the festivities and know that He remains forever with us as believers. We should take solitude time during the holiday to commune with him. You are His treasured joy and He welcomes relationship with you. “He will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.”
If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior or you would like to rededicate your life to him, simply open your heart to him and pray the following prayer in faith to receive Jesus as your Lord.
“Heavenly Father, I come to you in the Name of Jesus, Your word says, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” and “If thou shalt confess with your mouth that the Lord, Jesus died for our sins and shall believe in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Acts 2:21; Romans 10:9 I pray that you will forgive me of my sins, renew my mind, cleanse me and make me whole by the power of the Holy Spirit. I make you my Lord and Savior of my life to guide me, protect me and teach me all things. In Jesus Name. Amen.
“And, she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. And all this was done; that it might be fulfilled which was spoke of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child; and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son; and he called his name Jesus.” S. Matthew1:21-25