The Labyrinth of Life

 16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do;  I will not forsake them.  Isaiah 42:16

Do you feel that you’re on a road to nowhere? That life has pushed you down a twisted path that is based on poor choices and decisions and uncontrolled circumstances determined by external sources?

The more effort you put into your life, the more energy is sucked out of you. No matter what you try to do seems to work. Even though you may feel like you will never get to your destination, your life is constantly being diverted and misdirected. From dead ends, left turns and wrong turns that lead to right turns, it’s like a labyrinth of frustration, confusion, aggravation, not to mention stress. You may feel like a rat on a wheel, running to nowhere.

Just because you can’t see a way out, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. The forced direction that you experience, may possibly be how the Lord orders and directs your steps. With each twist and turn, the Lord is guiding your steps to the purpose and plan he has for your life. Who said life was easy? It’s not a direct shot even for the best of us. Some people may have fewer turns than others, yet we will hopefully end up exactly where we need to be.

Before you make a decision, you should always check your spirit. Do you have peace with your decision? Does something feel off? Do you feel nervous, tense, or afraid?

The Holy Spirit guides you with a sense of peace. He offers wisdom and guidance. Do not ignore your intuition. That is the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Fear can be very tricky because it can be a warning sign prior to danger, but it can also be a false alarm from satan himself. Either way, fear is not of God and you must learn to test the spirit prior to making any decision.

No matter where you are on your journey, keep on moving. God is not the master of confusion and He did not create you for failure. If you get tired and weary along the way, take a break or just pause for a minute (praise break), recharge your battery (meditate on scriptures), and walk-in faith (prayer).

The Lord has the ultimate blueprint and knows what He’s doing even if you don’t. He has the ultimate global positioning system (GPS). Let Him lead the way because He will never lead you wrong. “He will lead you by the still waters.” Psalm 23:2

 But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.  Proverbs 4:18

Embracing New Beginnings

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.  23 They are new every morning;
    great is thy faithfulness.  Lam 3:22-23

 As we enter a new year, it is refreshing to start again. When the sun rises, it promises us a new day to anticipate and expect positive changes in our lives.  We gain enthusiasm and motivation to begin new projects, set new goals and even finish tasks that we didn’t quite finish last year.

On the other hand, you may wake up in discouragement, resentment, regret, worry or fear. You may not have the excitement or motivation to even get out of bed. You just want to pull the covers over your head and hide from the world because you just don’t want to deal with all the crap that life brings your way. It may feel it’s pointless to begin again because you have not seen the fruits of your labor or experienced laughter, happiness or joy in a long time. In every problem, there is an opportunity. We must see our problems with spiritual eyes.  

In the Bible, it states, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5

Whatever season you may be experiencing, you must remember that it is only for a season. The uncomfortable situation or circumstance you’re facing is not impossible with God. The foundation of the Word of God promises us that we are overcomers despite all the challenges and obstacles we face.

Subconsciously, it feels like the month of January seems to set off how well the year will turn out. We must constantly put our thoughts and perspectives in check. We may get anxious about what we will encounter in the New Year. It’s very easy to lean towards negativity, self-doubt and fear. Our mindset must be elevated so we can produce and achieve those anticipated goals, visions and dreams that we hold in hearts. We should enter a new year with clarity and a peaceful spirit.  We can set the pace with our ability to control our thoughts. “Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ Jesus.” 2 Corth 10:5

It all begins with the choices we make each day. We must follow through in obedience. We should listen to instructions, take heed to suggestions and receive wise counsel when needed. The smallest steps can make a big difference in the final outcome. Do we allow the weather to determine our mood? Or, do we allow negative people affect our whole day? We have power over our emotions and behavior with what we allow to influence our lives. If you didn’t like how your year went last year or the year before, you can analyze what went wrong and try to change it.

Some things that happen to us is out of our control, but we can look forward with hope knowing that nothing in life remains the same. As long as we hold onto hope, we can overcome. “Let us glory in tribulation also knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience, and experience hope: And hope makes us not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:3-5

One more thing we should consider, we should not be overwhelmed with all the demands in life.  Live in the moment. Live on purpose. Sometimes we just need to slow down. The constant flow of instant gratification and instant information at our fingertips destroys our ability to wait. We must learn patience. Learn to do what we can with the time that is given to us. We must learn to be good stewards of our time. “Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Heb 6:12

Cheers to new beginnings!

Additional Scripture References:

2 Peter 1:4-11

Isaiah 43:19

Lam 3

Finishing the Race

woman-girl-silhouette joggerIn dedication to all those who were affected by the Boston Marathon Bombings

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:14

When you start a race, the ultimate goal is to be the first one to cross the finish line. Winning feels great. It is an indication that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. It demonstrates strength, pride, determination and commitment. Integrity also illustrates the true character of a winner as long as honesty and playing fairly is part of the performance.

In high school, I was a sprinter on the track team. I also remember that I would exhaust all of my energy from the beginning to the end of the race because I was running the 50 to 100 mile dash. However, runners who compete in a long distance race must conserve their energy and concentrate on keeping a steady pace throughout the race. By the end, runners get a burst of adrenaline, momentum and speed.

The navigation through life is very similar to the challenges and obstacles we face in a marathon. Everyone has a dream or goal that they want to accomplish. They set out to fulfill their ambitions. Their main objective is to gain status, fame, money, material objects, a wife or husband, children, dog, house and car.  Well, you get the idea, anything related to the world’s idea of success and prosperity. Often, moving through life anxiously without enjoying the moment in time.

To achieve our goals, some lose their morals and values. They will lie or cheat. They will even ignore certain situations. Once they gain the success they’ve worked so hard for, they often grasp a tight hold on it as well as developing greed or envy. In fear of losing what they’ve gained, they forget the most simple and precious moments or to acknowledge others along the way.

We often see children rushing to grow up too fast or a couple rushing to get married. We do not take the time to enjoy each stage of life. Before we even graduate from school, we wish we were in college. By the time, we’re in college we wish we were married. By the time, we’re married, we wish we had children. Even in the most general or daily activities, it causes us to rush through life. We rush to our jobs every morning. We rush to the grocery store to complete errands. We rush to get the latest fashion or model car. Everything is a constant rush and we nearly want to hurt somebody if they get in our way.

Often times when we finally get to our destination, we have many regrets, failures, heartaches and sorrow because all to many times we’ve rushed through the natural process of life and missed out on valuable time. Often times, we could of avoided mistakes or bad decisions if we just took the time to focus on priorities and appreciate the time in that moment. “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Eccles 7:8

Satan can often trick us into thinking that we are running out of time. However, procrastination and fear is definitely part of the enemy’s tactic to keep us from moving forward. Sometimes, even paralyzing us.

However, through God’s grace, mercy and timing, He will work all things out for our good in His own perfect timing. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted: A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away; A time to rent; and a time to sow; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Eccles 3:1-8

Unlike the sprinter, the long distance runner realizes that each step is closer than the one before. While keeping abreast of their pace, they understand and appreciate the moment they’re given while keeping their eye of the prize. They can even accept if their competitor passes them by and know that not all is lost. They keep moving ahead with determination. Even though they are tired and out of breath, they pick up momentum. As they approach the finish line, they strive forward to victory. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run; and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” I John 5:4

Resurrection Power

“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door where Jesus laid. His countenance was like lightening and His raiment was as white as snow. And for fear of Him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and behold, He goes before you into Galilee, there shall ye see Him.” Matt 28:1-7

The death, burial and resurrection is the most important declaration of faith we can pronounce in our hearts and in the world. Jesus is alive and lives within us. As another Easter passes away, we should keep the remembrance of Jesus’s sacrifice with us daily.

We should walk with the authority that Jesus has given us. We have the same resurrection power that Jesus has because He lives within each believer. Time passes, weather shifts, people change, yet there is one man who walked the earth over 2000 years ago who was crowned with thorns, falsely accused and sentenced to death. At one moment, the crowd was raving over him and the next minute, they yelled, “Crucify Him!” He was mocked and beaten while He stumbled carrying a wooden cross. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we our healed.” Isaiah 52:5

“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. Isaiah 52:7

He is a man who does not change. His love remains the same. No matter what we’ve done we can ask for forgiveness. It’s a special, unconditional love that the human mind cannot comprehend. It is a deep-rooted love that allowed Christ to take the penalty for our sins. He did not come to condemn the world, but to redeem the world. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever shall believe in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

So, as we go about our week, let’s carry Easter in our hearts and minds daily and share Jesus’s story with a lost and desperate world.

“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I’m with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen Matt 28:19-20

Light in the Midst of Darkness

Last week, I was on my way home and had a negative thought that I’m  not representing the Lord very well because I’ve been in such a very dismal mood.  I was running low on energy and feeling very down.  I took notice of my environment and saw that mostly everyone either looked mad at the world,  extremely serious or just had no expression at all.  I rarely see a smile on anyone’s face in my daily travels and it’s even rare that I see strangers extend a hint of friendliness or politeness to one another.  I started to really examine how society as well as my own community has deteriorated. There is no more respect for others. Values have been washed away and morals have been erased. Our youth are running wild and companies are stealing, lying and cheating with no repercussions or penalties.

As a representative of Christ, our actions should reflect the love of Christ in everything we do and say.  In such a chaotic world, I sometimes feel that my actions will not mean anything in comparison to how much needs to be done in the world that we live in. It has left me feeling powerless and that I cannot possibly shine God’s light in such a dark world.

Strangely, I felt like I was becoming part of the darkness and it scared me. I quickly was reminded how powerful our thoughts are and how we should guard our thoughts and keep it under the obedience of Christ.   I also started to think about how strong God’s power is to illuminate light in the darkness. How quickly I forgot that I can’t do this in my own power! I realized that God has placed me in a specific environment to carry out His purpose. I’m not suppose to grow weary or burn out because of life’s circumstances. Jesus said, ” I am the light of the world.”  John 9:5. “It’s through Him, we move and have our being.” I’m also reminded of the scripture. “It’s not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” said the Lord. We must not grow tired in times of distress or frustration.  When we carry the Holy Spirit within us, we have the ability to change the atmosphere in any environment. We also have the ability to draw strength from the Lord. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” I realized that somewhere along the line I must have lost that inner joy that came from the Lord.  It’s in the secret place of the most High when I  praise His name that I find strength. This is where I realized that I had lost my focus.  When you put the Lord first, many eternal promises are fulfilled and you lack nothing including joy, strength and His light.

It was very strong for me to post this intimate story because I’ve had about five confirmations this past week in regard to shining God’s light. It’s God’s way of nudging me to write for His purpose. I don’t believe in coincidences and I know there is someone who needs to read this message right now.  So take an introspective look at yourself today and find the light within because  “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a  lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. So let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. “

I Peter 2

Renewing Your Mind

As we anxiously wait for the first day of summer, let us not forget this is the perfect time to reflect on the goals we set during the beginning of the year. We are halfway through 2010. Let us not to forget to evaluate our lives and what we plan to achieve by the end of the year. We are always reminded during Spring to clean out the clutter, so we may receive new things.

Let us not forget to clean out our minds which include bad memories and habits, defeated thoughts and attitudes or anything else that may be holding us back from receiving what God has promised us as His children. “Behold, I am doing a new thing. Old things have passed away. Behold, I make all things new.” II Corth 5:17

Refocus on Priorities

It’s important to take time to reflect on your life in a positive way. Don’t beat yourself up for goals that you haven’t attained just yet. But, just learn to refocus on priorities and set small goals to work towards what you desire to achieve.

Build a Support System

Also, you must pay close attention to your social environment. You should build a strong support system of family, friends, neighbors, classmates and church associates.

What type of people do you surround yourself? Make sure you are surrounding yourself with positive people who will inspire, encourage and motivate you. Pay attention to the details of the heart of people that you interact with on a daily basis. What are their motives or intentions? Are their actions and words positive or negative? Take note of their behavior and decide whether you choose to be around them. You are valuable and so is your time.

You should spend time expanding your mind. If you don’t enjoy reading, make it a point to watch a movie or documentary that will give you a different perspective on life. You need to refresh your mind. Water your mind with knowledge and watch it grow. In scripture it states, “My people will perish for the lack of knowledge.” So, don’t be afraid to surround yourself with people who think differently than you do. Expose yourself to new cultures, races, creeds, religions or non-religious people. Be open to new ideas, opinions and thoughts. You can have a healthy conversation without having a debate or argument. That’s what makes life interesting. You do not have to agree with the person, but please make sure you respect them.

Guard Your Heart and Thoughts

It’s important to guard your thoughts. It’s so easy to dwell on negative emotions or words that will eventually influence your mind and behavior. Be mindful of what you allow to enter into your mind. There are many negative influences that surround us in the world and it doesn’t take long for a negative seed to be planted in your mind which eventually takes root. It’s much like weeds growing among beautiful, green grass. Weeds tend to multiply quickly and destroy the view. If you feed your mind junk, that’s exactly what you will eventually believe or think.

We are constantly influenced by images, words and stereotypes that influence the way we think. We have been so programmed that we often do not really learn to think for ourselves anymore. Don’t rely on gossip or rumors, but confront the source to get the correct information. Let’s be conscious of what we choose to listen to since this has a strong impact on how we see ourselves and others and can eventually influence our overall behavior.

Fill your mind with God’s word. It’s the most important thing you can do to withstand the attacks from the enemy. The only way to win the battles that come against you is to put on the armor of the Lord. To overcome the storms of life, you must read and study God’s word. It’s filled with power, truth, protection, guidance and His promises. Through daily mediation on God’s word, you will start to build faith, strength and courage to overcome the challenges and obstacles that you face. Through prayer, you will build a relationship with the Lord and will be shielded through your trials and tribulations. Even though bad things will still happen, hold onto your faith. You will have to endure many tests in life. Keeping your heart and mind grounded in the word of God, will eventually lead you to the harvest He has prepared for you.

Developing a Foundation of Prayer

forgive-and-let-go

Those who diligently seek me shall find me.

Building a relationship with Jesus requires daily communication with Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” “Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.” Prov 3

We may lose sight of the importance of daily prayer due to a busy schedule, but we must put God first in all our endeavors for His protection, grace, mercy and provision.

His grace is sufficient. He provides blessings to the just and the unjust, but when you are in a relationship with Him you are open to receive the many benefits and promises that He gives freely to His children.

Prayer is more than asking God to do or give you something. It’s an act of worship and praise.

It’s in the quiet moments when we acknowledge who He is that provides us peace, inner joy and strength to go through our day with high expectations. When we pray over our lives and others, we will gain a sense of inner harmony and peace despite what we may encounter through the day.

Sometimes we may feel our prayers go unanswered, but God has our best interest at heart. It must be His will not our own. Everything happens for a higher and greater purpose that we may not understand at the time, but through faith, obedience and patience, we will inherit the promises of God.

God works in seasons. Abraham and Sarah, The Apostle Paul, Daniel, Joseph, Job and Moses are examples of people who had to endure and wait for the promises of God.

I write this piece to encourage you to endure any situation, circumstance or obstacle. I am a living example of the realities of deterred dreams, dealing with extreme difficulties and disappointments, but God never fails and His word does not return void. (Isaiah 55:11)