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!”

Relationships

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)  Who have you been associating with over the past few weeks or months that has sharpened you spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially?  A recent trip to the Smokey Mountains presented this subject to me; as a matter of fact, it was an in-your-face presentation! Up close and personal presentation!

I will tell you straight up – I was sharpened! My flesh was in great pain. My emotions and attitudes were called to attention. Change was on the horizon!

Imagine a dull knife blade being laid on the grinding stone to be sharpened by the blade smith.  Although the metal resists, the pressure of the blade against the stone creates a smooth, razor sharp edge removing all the dull edges. A knife sharpener doesn’t always move quickly, but applies steady, consistent pressure. To sharpen a good quality steel knife that is new, he uses a high quality, diamond, knife sharpening steel. A few strokes every time before being used and it will keep the knife razor sharp.

It is the same principle when you position yourself to be sharpened by a friend. Find that “diamond” friend who will speak high quality words into your life so you’ll be sharpened to a razor sharp edge.

If the knife is very dull, a carpenter’s sharpening flat stone is very good at reviving the knife’s edge. Just be aware that the angle you sharpen a knife at is crucial. It’s best to take dull knives to a professional sharpener, and then maintain them as noted above. There will be times in our life when we get dull.  As painful as it may be at the moment, present yourself you to your “diamond” friend and allow their words to sharpen you.  At times, it may not be the words you want to hear; however, a “diamond” friend will present those hard words to turn dull edges into razors sharp tools.   

Contrary to what some people believe, sharp knives cut people far less than blunt knives. When a knife is sharp, less pressure is used to cut. Care for your knives and they will last a lifetime.  How fitting for this subject.  When you stay sharpen by the Word of God and the relationships you cultivate, you don’t hurt other people and you can help others become sharp.  The sharper you are, the less pressure you have to withstand. 

Take time to hang out with those people who will sharpen you and help you become a better person.

Provision

When you come to the end of yourself – there you are!! Usually empty handed, disappointed, frustrated, and broken hearted. Probably wondering why things are working the way you thought they should be.

Been there! Done that! Got the t-shirt!!! Wore it out!! How about you?  Well guess what, when you find yourself in this position, you can always look up and find help; usually a prayer’s whisper away, because God is always watching and listening, waiting to answer your call. He doesn’t sleep or slumber.  Psalm 121:4

At the alter, my alter – white sitting behind my car’s steering wheel driving to town – last month, I had a come to Jesus meeting! I simply ask him why I wasn’t receiving the things I’d been believing Him for.  He told me it was because I was putting my expectations in the wrong places, on the wrong people. I could hardly believe it, but knew it was, in fact, true!

I repented, asked him to forgive me for not trusting Him, made a simple heart adjustment, and the results have been amazing! 

I share the victories and blessings this past month with you because I want to brag on my Father God – El Shaddai – the God who is more than enough! The All Sufficient One!

He bought me a sewing machine in a nice wood cabinet. He brought more babycaring jobs to my daughters. He gave two of my daughters with jobs at a boutique of which they have been blessed with awesome, stylish clothes and accessories. He blessed me with a four-day trip out of town with friends. He blessed our family with unexpected, delicious food. He blessed me with the opportunity to be a blessing to someone else by doing yard work, which I love! My husband and daughters fixed an awesome dinner for birthday. And I got a raise with my job.

I’ve been overwhelmed with His goodness to me this past month…and it’s all because I changed the focus of my expectation to Him, El Shaddai – The All Sufficient One!!!  Thank you, Lord. I will magnify you because you delight in my prosperity! Psalm 35:27 

He will do the same for you because He’s no respecter of persons.  Just trust Him and believe that He is faithful to His Word.

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!

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.

Creativity

Have you ever wanted to step out and begin a new project, a new business, a new job, learn a new computer program or anything new, but lacked the self-confidence or certainty to believe that you could actually be successful?

I challenge you today to break free! I challenge you to believe in yourself! When you realize Who lives on the inside of you, it will be easier to believe in yourself and step out into the unknown.

You may be asking yourself, “Who lives on the inside of me?” It’s pretty phenomenal when you stop and take some time to think about it: The fullness of the Godhead bodily lives on the inside of you.

Now, you may be asking yourself “What does that mean?” Here is your answer!! “Live creatively, friends…make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Colossians 2:8-10 NASB. I also like how the English Standard Version reads, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”

I found a definition of creativity online that explains it this way: Creativity is coming up with a solution or idea that is non-conformist, original to you. It’s your own way of doing something, but not just that, after all, people have their own ways of speaking or walking but you wouldn’t call them creative! Creativity is something done with flair- something that makes people say or think, ‘I would never have thought of doing it (whatever it is) like that’. Creativity can be inspired internally by a thought or a feeling or is a response to external stimuli such as a beautiful landscape…creativity can be a way of coping or organizing your thoughts and feelings…just look at the word itself for a definition: CREATE; it’s when we create something new!”

Of all places the Creator, or Holy Spirit, could choose to live, He picked your heart! The Creator of the universe lives on the inside of you! The Creator that spoke this beautiful world into existence and it still exists today. The Creator that spoke galaxies into existence and we still enjoy them today. The same creative power is available to you – you just have to tap into the grace to be creative. It doesn’t matter if you are creating a floral arrangement or a business plan, the creative power is available for you.

Proverbs 8:12 in the King James Version reads, “I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.” The Young’s Literal Translation reads, “I, wisdom, have dwelt with prudence, and a knowledge of devices I find out.”

Today is your day! You can do it! Step out in faith and ask the Holy Spirit, the Creator of the universe, to help you be creative. Don’t be afraid to fail because the Word of God tells you that “everything you set your hands to is blessed and will prosper.” Deuteronomy 28:8.

Believe in your heart that you will be creative. Confess the scriptures above over yourself and thank God that He’s given you creative ideas and abilities. Before you know it, you will have the desires of your heart to be creative.

Gratefulness

Today is going to be a great day! It doesn’t matter what I see in the natural realm or how I feel! I decide today the type of day I’m going to have before my feet hit the floor. Before I get out of bed I thank God that He’s given me another day to experience Him and share His love with others.

As Smith Wigglesworth says, he tells himself the kind of day he’s going to have. That one statement has had such a profound impact on my life that I tell myself every day that I’m going to have a great day and it’s going to be better in every way than the day before!

I’m so thankful for what God has done, and continues to do for me. I praise Him for where He’s brought me from and of course, where He’s taking me. As I thank Him and love on Him, His presence fills my room.

Do you want to experience God’s presence? Begin by being grateful. Thank Him for the things He’s done for you – the big as well as the small things. I was reminded of the significance of being grateful this past week when my daughter put in a children’s CD we used to listen to when my children were young. The song was “Count your many blessings, count them one by one, and see what God has done!”

As I began thanking God for our new home, that we are all healthy, that our monthly expenses are taken care of, that bills are being paid off, that all our family is born again, that the lawn mower is repaired and working great, that we have hot showers, and food to eat, His presence just enveloped me and all I could do was surrender to His loving embrace.

You see, I have a lot to be thankful for because I remember at various points in my life, I didn’t have the things I was thanking God for. And then, I was reminded that my Pastor’s wife told me every time I paid a bill, had great food to eat, experienced good health, and most recently the repair of our riding lawn mower – it was a visual demonstration and reinforcement of the enemy’s defeat in my life.

So, I ask you today, what are you grateful for? What has God done for you? What can you thank God for today that will reinforce the enemy’s defeat in your life that will launch you into the realization that you were created to live the victorious life?

Take a few minutes and thank Him today for everything He’s done for you!