How God transformed me

I don’t know everything about the Bible. I don’t understand everything about the Bible. I don’t know everything about God. I don’t understand everything about God. What I do know and what I do understand is how God can change you and transform your life. I know that He has the power to make you into a new creation and give you a new life that surpasses anything you could imagine. The Bible talks about it. Jesus talks about it. My life testimony talks about it. The Christian life is more than following rules and principles. It is not about a religion. It is about living a life that is centered around love, truth and God. It is a life that keeps you grounded in the knowledge of a love that is higher than any human love. It is the conviction that the Spirit of God is alive and well and that He dwells in you. It is real. God is not fake. He is used in many circles to create a fake reality but there is nothing fake about His goodness, His compassion, His love and His peace. Friend, there is an amazing transformation that can take place in your life today. God provides it, the Holy Spirit orchestrates it and Jesus upholds it.

A spiritual transformation occurs when we first accept the Lord. Hope rises. Joy bounces into our sphere and unbelievable love sets in. I remember feeling like my life had taken a turn for the best. I remember thinking there was much more to life than I had thought. Life has not been the same. I will never be the same. First it was fireworks, bliss and excitement. Then the honeymoon stage ended quickly when I was hit by the harsh reality that even though I had changed, life around me had not changed. Life still came at me with its heap of problems and its catalog of tribulations. The new life started to sound like a dream I had just woken up from. I refused to think that it wouldn’t last but nothing seemed to sustain the transformation. Then something clicked and I received an important revelation.

When we make Jesus our Savior, our spirit gets renewed. The transformation takes place in our spirit. Our spirit gets a new lease on life and it goes through an initial phase of joy because it is regenerated and it is impacted by God Himself. Think about that. How great is that? We feel invincible. We feel better than we have ever felt. Our mind on the other hand doesn’t get renewed. It still holds the same old patterns and it is still subject to all sorts of negative thoughts. That truth is not something I had learned in Christian 101. I let my mind with its old ways take over me and before I knew it my mind was in control and my spirit was heavily influenced by it. My mind was so overwhelming that I couldn’t feel any of the changes. This lasted for years. It was as if my renewed spirit was a prisoner of my mind. Once I understood the power of my mind I was able to get back to living the transformed life again.

This is how God allowed me to get back to the transformation and live it out to a higher degree. First I made up my mind and decided to line up my thinking with what the Lord said about me. I dug deep in the Word and I found out who I was meant to be. I also decided to stay connected to God. I decided to make Him my priority. I gave in. I turned from the ways that blocked Him and I embraced His promises. It takes obedience and dedication, friend. The transformation does happen and it can last if you stay in that new relationship. If you make a conscious effort to praise God, communicate with Him, acknowledge the Holy Spirit in all yours way then you can see a permanent change. It’s a decision of the heart that makes the change come alive. Imagine feeling a warm blanket around your spirit every day. Imagine feeling joy and peace when things are not good. Imagine having love for strangers. God transforms and He can do all of that for you and me. Lean in and give in to Him. There is much more to this Christian life than we know.

Suggested reading: Romans 12:2; 1 Peter 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Claim your rights to God’s best

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). The enemy’s main interest is to steal what belongs to us. God’s main interest is to restore what was stolen and to give us even more. Robbery, murder and destruction are the enemy’s actions. Life, fullness and abundance are God’s actions in our lives. We are victims of the enemy’s actions way too often. He steals our joy, he kills our hope and he destroys our dreams. It is time we believed that God’s positive actions can counteract the enemy’s deeds. It is time we claimed what rightfully belonged to us. This week I am encouraging you to claim your rights in Christ and believe you are under the protection of God. The enemy’s actions can throw you off but God is the God of restoration. What has been taken from you will be replaced by something even better!

Thieves often act in darkness. They like to steal at night when people are sleeping or not around. When you least expect it, they come in and take what’s yours. There are many instances of theft during the day as well but thieves tend to hide their faces. The enemy will hide and act in the dark. He takes on many forms and takes your belonging under your nose or when you are away. Ask God to provide a good surveillance system. His system consists of a combination of the Holy Spirit and angels that minister to us. If you don’t have faith in what angels can do, ask God for discernment. Ask Him to help you be alert when the thief comes. Let God give you filters that will prevent the thief from stealing your joy, killing your hope and destroying your dreams. Socialize with the Holy Spirit and you will get the filters you need. Draw close to God and He will maintain peace, joy, patience, faith and other blessings even when the thief is roaming around you.

As you grow in the knowledge of who you are in Christ, you will recognize your rights. You will be able to claim them in the face of the enemy. When the enemy wants to play with your mind, you will be able to stop him in his track and claim a sound mind and victory over your thoughts. Get to know your rights. Read the Word of God. Meditate on it. Get revelation of what you can expect as a child of God. There is much more than meets the eye. There is an abundance of joy and peace that surpass all understanding. God is much bigger than we imagine Him to be. Claim your blessings every day this week. Start every day with a declaration of what God will do for you. Claim blessings and favor. Claim protection for you and your loved ones. Claim promotion in all areas of life. Claim progress and advancement. Claim victory and success. Claim love for others and for yourself. Claim citizenship in the Kingdom and receive your perks and benefits now. Make this week a week of claiming your rights and see a better day. Claim your rights to God’s best. The best is what He wants for you. Stay encouraged!

Suggested reading: Luke 19:10; John 6:51; 2 Peter 1:11

A spiritual practice that will (positively) impact your life

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24). How much room are you giving to worship in your life? Is worship one of those automatic behaviors that come naturally to you or is it more of a learned behavior you are still working on? If you look at the men and the women of God in the Bible, worship was a big part of their everyday lives. They worshiped the way you and I breathe. Worship was as important to them as oxygen.

Worship is a spiritual expression of adoration to God. God is Spirit. We can connect with Him best through our spirit. This is why the Holy Spirit plays a major role in the life of the believer. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us. He sent Him so He could guide us and help us connect with Him. Our spirit can communicate well with God through different spiritual practices. Worship is a beautiful spiritual practice that links us to God. Today I want to encourage you to make worship a habit. Let it be a daily practice that comes to you as easily as talking to any person you know.

I really enjoy the Message version of John 4:24. It helps shed some light on the meaning of the scripture. It says “God is sheer being itself – Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” Worship through music is a powerful way to show adoration to God. When we worship we should shut the world out and open up to God. It is a time of contemplation when we look at how good, how holy and wonderful the Lord is. Worship is proclaiming that we are grateful for the salvation provided and that it is such a big event in our lives that we want to sing about it all the time.

Worship pulls you into God’s presence. I love doing it because it makes me look at life through a different set of eyes. I see life through His eyes because He invites Himself into my sphere even more when I worship. Worship is the window that lets more of God into the atmosphere. It’s the resounding sound of adoration. It’s the expression of gratitude. It’s the voice of peace. It’s the voice of love. It’s the voice of victory. Worship focuses on Jesus and therefore it focuses on the answer to life’s problems. Worship allows things to shift in our lives and fall into place in an amazing way. It enables us to turn the page and stay on the same page as the Lord. Worship puts us in the same seating section as David, Paul and other worshippers who know the powerful secret of worship.

Learn to worship the Lord often. Your spirit will thank you for it. Worship drops power into our spirit and gives a boost to our mind. It’s a healthy practice that cleanses the soul and refreshes our entire being. What could be better than setting time aside to focus on the Lord? He loves your worship. He loves your words. He loves when you fix your eyes on Him and just dive into His presence. Worship has made my spiritual life a much stronger life. It has taught me a lot about staying in the presence of the One who saves. There is an unprecedented transformation phase that comes with worship. Let the transformation begin. Worship your heart out. Lay it all out for the Lord. Do it for His glory. Minimize yourself and maximize Him during worship. Let your spirit express thanks and adore the Lord. Don’t wait until Sunday to get into worship mode. Do it every day. You will see incredible results in your spiritual life. Start this habit today and stick with it!

Suggested reading: 1 Chronicles 16:23-31; Psalm 99; Romans 12:1-2

Patience with each other

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Ephesians 4:2). This is not one of the most popular verses that you hear in sermons or in messages all that much. We hear a lot about patience. Mainly patience for ourselves. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit and we often look at it as meaning patience for things to happen in our lives. The age of “instant everything” is against the definition of patience that the Bible talks about. We are so used to getting everything so quickly and so fast that we have a hard time growing in patience. Now take humility, gentleness and patience and you will have a sweet cocktail that very few people drink. Yet it is a concoction that we should be used to. These are the ingredients that are needed to create a succulent recipe for peace. Peace is what we should strive for as Christians. Peace with ourselves and peace with others. I want to take a few minutes to dig more into Ephesians 4:2. Could the message in this verse help change the political and the social atmosphere that has been so oppressive?

My focus is going to be on patience in this verse but I would like to spend a few moments on the opening line: “Always be humble and gentle.” How often do we forget the importance of these words? We are not told to be humble and gentle occasionally, when it’s convenient or when we can get something out of it. This command is for all the time. Humility is a word that has lost its meaning in this world. Humility or humbleness is a modest or low view of one’s importance. The world of selfies and instant gratification undermines humility. Humility is not hip. It’s not popular these days. It’s an old concept that is seen as an attitude that can’t get you ahead in life. We are not encouraged to be humble and gentle by the media. We are told to be selfish and fierce. People don’t get their way and it creates conflicts. Could “humble and gentle” be a step in the right direction when dealing with moving toward more peace? It sounds like it would make a difference.

Developing patience is a great skill to have that keeps us grounded in faith. Faith requires for us to be quietly patient and not lose hope. Patience is also a great asset when it comes to interacting with others. Ephesians 4:2 emphasizes the vitality of patience with other people. This includes friends, family and anyone we might run into. It is patience towards the child who can’t get his acts together. It’s patience towards those who are constantly rebelling. It’s patience towards the person who gets on your nerves at work. It’s patience towards the car in front of you that goes 20 miles per hour on the highway. It is patience towards yourself when you are not where you think you should. It’s taking the time to love yourself and being patient with the process. Making allowance for each other’s faults is recognizing that no one is perfect and that you yourself are not perfect so patience is key. Make allowances for yourself in love. Make allowances for everyone in love. Living in peace with yourself and with others is a sign of spiritual maturity. Keep practicing it!

Suggested reading: Colossians 3:12-13; 1 Corinthians 13:7; 1 Peter 3:15

When God is your plan A

Two days ago things got pretty chaotic at work. It all happened during my second class. I found out there had been a computer error that had occurred while I had administered a test. Fixing the problem was a real headache. I had to change my plans. I had a great lesson plan I was excited about. I had a strong plan but I needed to scrap it and do something totally different. Doesn’t that mirror what happens in life? We have a plan. We think we know how things are going to go and all of a sudden a glitch throws everything out the window. What do we do then? Who is going to back us up when we deal with hard problems? Where do we go for help? Who has our back? My assurance is in the Lord. I can do all things through the One who strengthens me. He strengthens me. I don’t strengthen me. He is the power behind it all. He is my backup. He is not my backup plan though. He is my plan A!

A plan A is your first resort. You go with your plan A knowing that it will go through and it will work. Two days ago my plan A didn’t work. It felt like I had failed in front of my students. Panic wanted to set in but I stopped it. You see, no matter what happens I have another plan A that is secure and safe. My plan A covers all situations. I may have had a specific plan A for my class but the plan A that supersedes all plans was also in place. God’s plan is my plan A. I trust that He has something for me even when my natural plans have gone wrong. My old self would have hated technology and blamed it for ruining my day. My new self is aware of a higher plan. There is a plan that says “Greater is the One that is in me than the one that is in this world.” It says “Greater is the One that is in me than technology glitches and computer problems.” I love that plan and I adhere to that plan.

Plan A will make you do and say things that will confuse the enemy. Instead of throwing a fit you compose yourself, take a deep breath and thank the Lord that He is in control. Plan A makes you speak with boldness and makes you declare that there are no mountains too high and if the mountain is high, God will help you climb it and get on the other side with no problem. Plan A makes you smile when you should be crying. It makes you stare at the problem in the face and refuse to be intimidated. It makes you roll up your sleeves and let God go to work for you through you. Plan A is a lifetime coverage that ensures you will make it. It’s the peace plan, the love plan, the faith plan and the joy plan all in one. It is extremely comprehensive. If you forget what plan A looks like, remember that the Lord said “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Let God always be your plan A!

Suggested reading: Proverbs 19:21; Matthew 6:25-34; Ephesians 2:8-9

Let God do the work

I like prayer requests. I take them seriously. I have a prayer wall in my loft and I add prayers to it. Prayer is sort of a hobby for me. I love quiet time and I love meditative time. They fit very well with my personality. One thing I used to struggle with when it came to prayer was thinking that it was on me if people received the answer they were waiting for. I would spend time in prayer for them and expect that they would get what they needed if I had prayed well enough or long enough. Little did I I know that prayer requests are presented to God for Him to do His job and not for me to worry about any of it. If we go into prayer with worry on our mind, we go into prayer with a block. We start the prayer journey with a roadblock right away and it is hard to get passed it. It’s like getting ready to go out but we have built a fence that prevents us from leaving the yard. We get stuck in the yard and we go around and around without getting anywhere. If you are praying for someone today or if you have a personal request for the Lord, remember to let God do the work. Worry will not make things go faster or better.

I see prayer as an attitude of the heart. It is expressed in words and words are important but the Lord looks at our heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 says “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” The thought of wanting to help someone by praying for him or her displays the good intentions of our heart. The Lord knows that and He sees that. The fact that you turn to God with a request shows that your heart is in the right place. God knows what we want and what we need before we say it. He loves for us to express what’s in our heart. The idea that He doesn’t care what we look like but He cares about our heart is very important when dealing with prayer. It tells us that we don’t have to be rich, famous, a super pastor, a prophet to pray to God and expect a blessing. As long as we give a voice to our heart and we put forth some good intentions, we are on the right prayer path.

The prayer path has many obstacles that our mind creates. Like I mentioned before, worry is one of those obstacles. Worry negates faith as we know. Thinking that our prayers are answered based on who we are is another obstacle. It is a burden we put on ourselves. Having that mentality is basically putting on God’s shoes and doing all the walking ourselves. We don’t have that kind of power. We need to let God be God and let Him take care of the work that is needed. I can’t heal anyone. I can’t bless anyone. I can’t give real peace to anyone. I can’t change someone’s life completely. Only God can. What I can do is release worry, anxiety and the perception that I have an impact on the results. What I can do is ask knowing that He will take care of everything. I am able to do that now. I am able to get into my prayer closet without wearing heavy garments of stress. Don’t let your head get in the way of your prayer life. Keep praying for others and for yourself and relax in the confidence of His love. Let God do the work!

Suggested reading: Proverbs 16:2; Jeremiah 12:3; 1 Peter 5:7

Don’t be discouraged (Part 2)

A few months ago I wrote a message entitled “Don’t be discouraged”. We all need some encouragement from time to time or all the time. I don’t know of anyone who isn’t dealing with some kind of problem. I used to think that some people had a perfect life. I quickly realized that people know how to mask their pain or hide their issues. No one is immune to hardships and life’s headaches. There is no vaccine against trials but there is remedy to all of our difficulties. The remedy won’t stop the annoyances of life to occur but the remedy will help us deal with them and stay strong in spite of the troubles. God holds the remedy and He has the antidote for whatever you are going through. Let me repeat what I said months ago; Don’t be discouraged. Things might look like they will never change for you but you would be surprised what the Lord can do in an instant. He specializes in reversing the worst-case scenarios. He has seen worse than anything you might be facing and He has conquered worse than anything you are struggling with.

When the going gets tough it’s very easy to want to throw in the towel and forget about our faith. I can tell you that growing up there was a number of times when I couldn’t understand why I was going through so much at such a young age. Things changed when I accepted the Lord into my life when I was 14. Hope had a new and beautiful face; the face of Jesus. I had never experienced anything that comforting and that powerful ever before. I used to struggle so much that I didn’t believe that peace and happiness existed. They were foreign concepts and feelings to me. Misery is all I knew. When the change took place, God didn’t become my religion. He became my lifestyle and my life has never been the same. What I learned is that there will always be a way. God can always get you out of the biggest ditches. When you get stuck in the mud of life, He has a way of pulling you out and cleaning you up. You won’t be in the mud forever. As a matter of fact, you might feel like you are sinking but He will keep you above the dirt. The key is it not to give up and to keep on keeping on.

“Don’t give up” is what I hear in my spirit every time I start to feel that the pressure of my circumstances is too much to handle. It’s amazing how when you spend time in the Word and with the Lord, you automatically get those pushes towards hope. If you only spend an hour or two with Him on Sunday, the rest of the week will make you weak as they say. I can boldly say that my strength is in the Lord. It’s not me. It’s Him. I wouldn’t be here without Him. I wouldn’t be writing this if it weren’t for Him. I just want to remind you of what we all need to hear; Don’t give up. Keep your head up. The best is (still) yet to come. Your future is brighter than you think. Your problem is probably huge today but it is not bigger than our God. In a nanosecond your whole situation can change for the better. Don’t underestimate what the Lord can do for you. Stay encouraged. The God of the impossible is going to strike again!

Suggested reading: John 14:27; John 16:33; 1 John 5:4