Focus

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward–to Jesus.

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision–you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don’t waver. Stay on track, steady in God. Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves. (Philippians 3 & 4, The Message Bible)

Belief

It’s the beginning of a new year and although the calendar has been changed, God is not moved by the date on your calendar! However, how many of us think that with the beginning of the New Year we need to make new goals, new resolutions, and create a new vision – only to be disappointed and discouraged within the month because we have not met those goals, dreams, plans, and new resolutions?

As you start this New Year, I would like to encourage you to try something new. Don’t do the same thing you’ve done every year – don’t make futile, unreasonable expectations for yourself. Instead, spend some time with God, pray in the Holy Spirit and get His plan for you for this year. Then, make your plans in accordance with His plan for your life.

When you have His plan – His vision – for your life, you can go forward with great expectation. What you believe in your heart will determine your expectation level. If you expect to success, you will surely succeed. On the other hand, if you expect to fail or think thoughts of failure, you will undoubtedly fail. What you believe in your heart is what you will become on the outside.

If you want a personal breakthrough in your life, you will want to change what you believe in your heart because your belief system will determine your level of expectation. In turn, your expectation will determine your actions. John Maxwell says a “belief is a habit of mind in which confidence becomes a conviction that you embrace. In the long run a belief is more than an idea that a person possesses. It is an idea that possesses a person.”

Benjamin Franklin said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed.” If you want to achieve something great this year, or in the future, you must be willing to be disappointed; however, you must expect to succeed. Although you will make mistakes, you must expect to win and keep on trying because you will eventually succeed.

Contrary to what many people think, life doesn’t get better by chance, it gets better by a choice to change. It’s the change in your thoughts that create a change in your actions which creates the results you desire in life. If you don’t believe in something, you won’t be able to live it. I challenge you this year to be the kind of person that wants to get things done without the concern of making mistakes and failing.

Believe in yourself, your gifts and your talents and go confidently in the direction of your dreams this year! Proverbs 23:7a says, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he…” If you want different results this year, change what you are thinking!

Victory Enforced

At church last night, a friend shared a Bible verse with me that’s my new ‘refrigerator’ verse! I’m so excited about it because this verse has stirred up that ‘bulldog tenacity’ attitude inside me to enforce the enemy’s defeat in my life and will bring great victory and joy to my life. I recognize this verse as a new weapon in my spiritual arsenal to use against the enemy when he tries to attack me again with the same symptoms in my body or my life that I’ve previously overcome.

She shared Nahum 1:9 with me, “…He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time.”  OMG! (Oh my gosh!) That was a light bulb moment for me! I got so excited when she read that to me. When I got home I had to read it for myself!  Nahum 1:7-9 reads, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him. But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, and darkness will pursue His enemies. What do you conspire against the LORD? He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time.”

This is a Selah verse for me!  I’ve paused and I’ve thought about this…not just last night but it was on my mind again this morning! This verse is an answer to prayer because I have an issue, actually several, that keep trying to come back in my body and my life that torment me; HOWEVER, I now have this verse – God’s promise to me – to use on my enemy to enforce his defeat in my body and my life!  How awesome is that?!!  

God has given me the authority to enforce the utter end of my enemy and the affliction he tries to bring back into my body and life will not rise up against me a second time! Hallelujah!!! That is victory my friend!!  

I challenge you, as you read this, to take this verse and make it your own. Enforce the enemy’s defeat in your life today! Settle in your heart and in your mind that you don’t have to live with whatever sickness or disease the enemy is trying to put in your body; or the poverty and lack he tries to bring to any area of your life. Think about it; get ahold of it: “Affliction will not rise up a second time.”

Generosity

As I sit by our Christmas tree in the quiet, stillness of the predawn morning, I enjoy looking at the glowing red lights shining a reflection on the red ornaments with gift boxes and tissue paper hiding the special gifts for our family and friends. Proverbs 11:25 comes to mind, “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” 

I remember several years ago, we had no gifts under the tree for our children, yet they had gifts Christmas morning. Generous souls blessed our family and they were blessed in the process.     

Since then, we’ve been able to give to others and we couldn’t help but be blessed ourselves. The joy that fills your heart when you give is a true blessing from God.  What a treat it has been to see our children, who are actually young adults now, plan what they are going to give to their friends and family this Christmas. They are so excited. Little do they know the blessing and joy they will experience in their hearts as they give to others.     

How much more exciting it is to give an eternal gift; a life changing gift of a word fitly spoken in due season or an act of kindness that has a “priceless” price tag on it? You know what I’m talking about – simply showing someone the love of God through your kind actions and words!     

Kindness and giving are not just for the holiday season; it’s for everyday life!  As you give, give generously; you can’t help but be blessed generously in return.  My prayer for you is that you will not only embrace a lifestyle of generous giving, but that you will embrace God’s love for you and let Him bless you lavishly in return. His desire as your Heavenly Daddy is to pour out His love on you – and he does that through other people.     

Pride would keep you from receiving anything from God or others; however, a humble person has learned to receive by simply being like Father Abraham.  He received by faith beforehand by simply saying “Thank You!”

Yes and Amen!

“God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.” Romans 8:29-30

     As 2011 comes to a close, God’s promise is still with you, helping you to fulfill your dreams, hopes, goals and desires! This has been an awesome year for us. Dreams have been rekindled; new dreams have been birthed; and goals are becoming a reality. The promise of restoration of what the enemy has stolen from us is manifesting. The tests and trials that have come to pass in our lives have proven the Word of God works for us because we chose to stand on the promises of God!

     I have come to the realization that once the Word of God is planted in your heart, the thief comes immediately to steal it through tests and trials. When a person becomes on fire for God and starts sowing His Word in their heart, the enemy will try to steal that Word before it takes root and changes their life. That’s why bad things happen to good people. The enemy doesn’t care about you; he just wants to get the Word of God out of your mouth and out of your heart to keep you in a defeated state of mind.     

When you recognize the enemy and his ways you can defeat him with the Word of God every time; however, you have to open your mouth and speak to him using God’s Word to enforce his defeat in your life! You may not see change after the first scripture you quote, but as you walk by faith and not by sight and keep quoting the Word, you will see victory in your life!     

God is no respecter of persons. The good work he began in you, He will be faithful to complete it!  Don’t be moved by a date on the calendar – although this calendar year is coming to a close, God is not finished with you. Your dreams and goals are not over. Keep moving forward in faith and you will see the end of what you have been praying for; the manifestation will come!  It has no choice but to come to you if you don’t give up. The enemy will try to delay it, but he can’t stop it when you know who you are in Christ! Your faith will bring a manifestation of what your heart desires!      

 All of God’s promises to you are Yes and Amen!  “Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge–a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.” 2 Corinthians 1:20-22, The Message Bible

God Answers Prayers

In Exodus 33:12-23, Moses told God that He said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight,and he asked God to let him see His face; see His Glory so Moses and the people would know God’s way, His grace, and His presence. Then Moses told God, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”  And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Moses wanted to see God’s face; however, that was not possible at that time. Fast forward 1500 years to Matthew 17:1-3 to the day Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”

Now is the time to evaluate your faith!  Do you have faith to stand and believe for 1500 years? We know the answer to that question!!  Some people can’t believe for a day while others stand in faith for years to see answers to their prayers.  As you think about Moses’ desire to see God’s face being fulfilled when he looked into the face of Jesus, know that it doesn’t matter how long it takes for the answer of your prayer to manifest – God will answer your prayer.

Keep believing; keep confessing the answer to your situation; and watch God bring a manifestation of what you are praying and asking Him for.  It will surely come to pass if you don’t faint, grow weary or give up!

Faith

“All things are possible!” I choose daily to live on the positive, believing side of life. I purpose to stay on the positive side, the side that says, “I believe I can do it!” It’s a choice that sometimes is made consciously moment by moment, day by day. It’s not always easy and I wish I could say that I’ve always been positive, but in keeping it real, there’s days when the negative outweighed the positive! However, I’ve set my mind – it’s a choice – to be positive.

I’ve come to the realization that it’s heart issue. I must believe in my heart, and so do you! God’s Word tells us at least one time when Jesus corrected His disciples for being hardhearted.

It started when Thomas made a faithless decision after hearing reports that Jesus was raised from the dead. Thomas told his fellow disciples, “Except I shall see [Jesus]…I will not believe.” John 20:25. Shortly afterward, Jesus “appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen.” Mark 16:14.

 Thomas is called “faithless” by Jesus in John 20:27, because he not only rejected God’s Word, but what Jesus said over the past three years, as well as the testimonies of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus rebuked not only Thomas, but all the disciples for their “hardness of heart.” Their hearts were hard because none of them were in the habit of believing. Like many believers today, the disciples had processed almost everything they heard and saw through their minds, instead of their hearts.

Many Christians fail to understand that faith is a definite, purposeful act of the heart. It isn’t a mental exercise, nor is it accepting something as fact. That’s merely giving mental assent and reasoning with the mind. You can mentally acknowledge that something’s true, but never believe it in your heart.

Real Bible faith is a matter of the heart, and it carries with it God-given responsibilities. When a man came to Jesus for help with his son he said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” Mark 9:17-18. Then he challenged Jesus with this statement “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Mark 9:22.  When the father pleaded for compassion, Jesus put the responsibility back on him, saying, “’If you can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23.

 The boy’s father wanted Jesus to do his believing for him; however, Jesus can’t do that for you. Finally the man broke down in tears and cried out, “Lord, I do believe; help my unbelief” Mark 9:24. Although he was believing in his heart, he was having trouble believing in his head. His heart was saying, I believe, I believe, I believe! But his mind was resisting. Had this man known Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding,” he wouldn’t have had a problem with his head. He could’ve trusted more in his heart and less in his head.

When you put God’s word first place in your life, it conditions your heart to be in the habit of believing. As you constantly feed your heart the Word, you’ll realize that it’s actually God speaking to you personally and that it’s not just information to store in your head.
 
At that point, you must make a quality decision that your body and its physical senses will never override God’s Word in any given situation. If your body screams, “I’m sick!” don’t allow the natural, physical evidence to be the final authority in regards to what you believe. Instead, go to God’s Love Letter as your final authority and read “By [Jesus’] wounds you are healed” in 1 Peter 2:24. It will get out of your head and into your heart. It will get you out of the impossible and into the possible, then you’ll get into the habit of living on the positive, believing side of life.

Triumphant

Paul said we are persecuted but not forsaken. We’re cast down but not destroyed. One translation says, knocked down but not knocked out! Just because the devil is able to get a punch in on you, just because something is delayed, just because something is hindered, just because the symptoms stay longer than you think they should….don’t cast your confidence away. Don’t give up and quit! Don’t listen to the raven saying “Never more!  You answer the bell again. If you’ll just keep answering the bell, you’re going to win. God said so! Keep answering the bell because you don’t know which bell it is that has your victory attached to it. You don’t know which bell is going to be the last bell, the last round causing you to win. But one thing is certain, if you lay there in the middle of the floor with your face in the carpet crying and you don’t answer the bell, you’ve lost. The only way for you to lose, is to quit and throw in the towel.

You may feel like you have a broken leg, a skinned up head, a cut ear, fractured nose, and you’re just seeing out of one eye…when you hear the bell ring you reach down on the inside where the Greater One lives and you answer that bell one more time. You keep saying “it is written” and God has promised me…the  unchangeable word of God says “I WILL ALWAYS TRIUMPH, ALWAYS WIN! ALWAYS! Through Christ Jesus.”

Say this out loud right now….I ALWAYS, always, triumph, through Christ Jesus.  I refuse to quit.  I refuse to give up.  I refuse to be discouraged.  I refuse to be dismayed.  I always triumph in Christ! Say it like you mean it! Say it until it takes hold of you in your spirit man and it gets rooted deep inside you. “I ALWAYS, triumph.” 

The Message says “God leads us in one perpetual victory parade.”  That’s ALWAYS!

Purpose

Have you ever wondered why you are here – right now, doing what you’re doing? You may have had thoughts that you were not planned by your parents or that they really didn’t want you, or you may be the result of a rape incident. Quite frankly, all that doesn’t matter!

According to Jeremiah 1:5, God knew you before you were ever conceived. The Word says, “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you… that’s what I had in mind for you.” Jeremiah 1:5

And, not only that, He loves you with an everlasting love according to Jeremiah 31:3. “The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love;

Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” So you see, it really doesn’t matter what your parents thought about you or how you came into existence, because God has a purpose for your life, and He loves you passionately and forever…so much so, that He knows the exact number of hairs on your head! Matthew 10:29-31

“You may not know Him, be He knows everything about you.” Psalm 139:1.He knows you intimately; to include your biggest dreams and your deepest fears. He loves you no matter what you do, how you act, or what you think! There’s nothing you can do to make Him love you more than He does right now. Plus, there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you any less! His love for you doesn’t change.

He is intimately involved in every area of your life; it doesn’t matter how insignificant it may be to you, God chose you when He planned creation and He’s promised to never leave you or forsake you. Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” To Him, you aren’t just another statistic; you are incredibly unique, with a special purpose only you can fulfill.

It’s sad to say, but many of us have been taught that God sits in heaven just waiting for us to mess up and then He punishes us. We’ve been taught that He is very legalistic and there’s no room for error, which is so contrary to the Word of God. He draws us to Himself with lovingkindnes. God is a merciful God, His mercies are new every morning and they endure for forever. Actually, He’s not distant or angry, but He is the complete expression of love. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16 ESV

The fact is this – you don’t have to do anything special to receive God’s love and grace. You just have to receive His offer of eternal life and put your trust in Him. The more you spend time with Him, the more you will trust Him, the more you trust Him the more your heart will be knit to His and His purpose for your life will be realized. And remember Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for,” because He is the perfect Father. Matthew 5:48

Believe

“Have faith in God,” replied Jesus to them. “I tell you that if anyone should say to this hill, ‘Get up and throw yourself into the sea’, and without any doubt in his heart believe that what he says will happen, then it will happen! That is why I tell you, whatever you pray about and ask for, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, you must forgive anything that you are holding against anyone else, and your Heavenly Father will forgive you your sins.” Mark 11: 22-26 – J.B. Phillips New Testament.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just beginning your walk of faith or if you’ve been walking by faith for many years, Mark 11:24 is your baseline verse to stand on when you want to receive something from God! The prayer of faith won’t work unless you believe in your heart.

Sometimes believing is easier than it is at other times; however, the key is to learn to take God at His word and stand! Mark 11:24 tells us how simple it is… “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – English Standard Version. There is something magical that happens when you bin believing. Not in a weird sense, but it’s a sense of confidential settling in your spirit man that you will receive what you’ve asked God to give you.

When you fail to receive what you’re believing God for, many times it’s because you’re walking by sight and not by faith in the promises God’s given you in His Word. When this happens it’s called “Thomas” faith. I’m sure you’ve heard someone called Doubting Thomas before. This comes from John 20:25, “So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

However, you should desire to walk in faith like Abraham walked in faith. In Romans 4:18-19, it reads, “against hope believed in hope…according to that which was spoken…and being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body…” Abraham didn’t consider his natural circumstances. Instead, he believed he already received God’s promises many years before he actually saw the answer to his prayer, and Sarah gave birth to Isaac.

The Word says to believe that you receive when you pray, and you will have it. More often than not, people don’t receive when they pray because they are so tied to the natural realm instead of the spiritual realm. They want to reason everything out in their minds and see it with their natural eyes first, and then they’ll believe they’ve received it.

It’s takes effort to believe God’s Word and stand on His promises, but it’s time to go beyond your five physical senses and take God at His Word. You must renew your mind with the Word of God or your own thinking will try to keep you in the natural realm. Faith is believing God’s Word in your heart…just as Jesus said in Mark 11:23, “….all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you”.

To grow spiritually, be persistent in believing God’s Word in your heart, and you’ll grow strong in faith – no matter what your head tells you, you’ll get results.