Thank you!

“Thank you” are two simple words that go a long way. I love hearing those words spoken not just to me but in general. I think it is so nice and actually powerful when someone takes the time to say “Thank you.” We teach those two words to children knowing that those words will help them grow as good citizens. However, we tend to lose those words as we get older. They don’t always make it into the most spoken words among adults. There are choice words that take the place of this nice expression of gratitude. Gratitude is probably the most underrated attitude these days and yet it is vital in this world where hate is rampant. I am inviting you today to maintain your “Thank you’s” and to let them be louder than the disrespect and ingratitude that exist. Let your “Thank you ” be heard. Thank the Lord at all times and thank anyone you can thank like it’s your job. “Thank you” will change your defeated mentality into a winner’s mentality. “Thank you” will enable you to win against all the harshness that seems to be prevailing nowadays. “Thank you” manifests kindness and we all need a lot of it. 

When I think of the times where I have felt the most connected to God, I always remember that gratitude has played a major role in that connection. The Lord wants us to be thankful and He wants us to keep a thankful attitude at all times. Whining overpowers thanksgiving in many circles including Christian circles. God never said “Whine your heart out and you will experience major spiritual breakthroughs” but we act as if that is what He said. Whining gives us a license to express all the negativity we want without feeling too guilty about it. Venting is a coverup for whining and it seems acceptable. Venting and whining are siblings that see complaining as a way of life. They are not in the same family as “Thank you.” “Thank you” has a quiet and peaceful whisper whereas venting is loud and obnoxious. Whining is a crying wolf while “Thank you” is a singing sheep. “Thank you” offers appreciation and recognizes someone’s merit. Let our “Thank you’s” take over our “I hate you’s.”

If you want to live a life of peace and attract good things into your life, say “Thank you” all the time. Thank the Lord for the smallest things. Let your attitude say “Thanks”. Show Him how much you appreciate all He does. The more you do it and the more blessings you will receive. “Thank you” opens many doors and it is the key to many problems. Now, take “Thank you” and combine it with faith and you have the winning formula. The two together speak gratitude for things that have not happened yet. They believe and they trust and they know there will be a way so they show their appreciation for what’s to come. Project your “Thank you’s” and project your victories. Be thankful for what’s to come. Show your faith by saying “Thank you, Lord” even when your mind wants to say “Lord, I really don’t know about this, Lord.” Thank the Lord for the battles He has won on your behalf. Stare at obstacles in the face and say “Thank You, Lord this obstruction doesn’t stand a chance.” “Thank you” spreads kindness and it calls for victory. Use those two words more. Be the kind and confident person you were meant to be. Thank you!

Suggested reading: Jeremiah 30:19; Psalm 9:1; 2 Corinthians 4:15

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When love erases pain

I don’t need to go far to see the pain that humankind is facing. I don’t need to go outside of my circle of friends to see that people are having a hard time. I see individuals who are suffering privately or openly. For some reason this seems to hit me more around this time of the year but I know the struggle is constant. Today I am writing from the heart to say that I know what the pain is. I am writing to say that I also know there is relief available. I am writing to say that the suffering often lasts longer than we wish but peace can come at the least expected time. 

My answer to the pain I see around me is God but not God as seen in theologies, doctrines, man-made ideas or even inside the door of many churches. I am referring to God who comes down to our level to meet us where we are. My personal God interacts with me on a level that defies human interactions. He goes past the color of my skin. He is not concerned about politics. He is not worried about if I like blue more than green. He cares about the condition of my heart and soul. He is concerned about my happiness. Friend, He sees your pain. He understands your suffering. He is not deaf to your cries. You might need to shave off some of the layers that were imposed on Him by people, by ideologies, by the Church sometimes or by your mind. Once you get through the layers and reach the core of who He is, change will come. 

I can say from experience that reaching the core of what Love is all about, transformed my life. I am not the same person I was 4 years ago. I had been a Christian for most of my life but it didn’t mean too much. You see, until you experience true Love and you embrace it, you can miss out on God. I love the Bible, I respect it and I read it all the time but if I don’t read it with the eyes of Love, I could create doctrines that would serve me and not serve the real purpose. The real purpose is to get us to know God and to get closer to Him. Yet we focus on key scriptures that support a harsh and punitive God or that strip Him off His power. I do believe in miracles. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for His miracles and I do believe they are all rooted in Love. Seeing Love as the base for who He is, is a great revelation that leads to freedom from pain. 

I am not belittling your pain by saying “Just believe in Love and your pain will go away.” Believing that God is love gives a boost to our faith and allows us to see Him as Someone who cares enough to deal with our suffering. It helps us trust that He can scrape off the pain on the walls of our heart until we are pain-free and our hearts have a fresh coating of love paint on them. Love can neutralize the power of pain. If you are suffering today, use Love as an eradication tool for your pain. How? Let God demonstrate love through you. Be the Love this crying world needs. Start with your circle of friends and show them what Love can do. Speak the language of love instead of a theological jargon that people won’t relate to. Forget the “Thou shall” and broadcast the “You will make it.” People need to have hope speak to their heart and not condemnation speak to their mind. Be an advocate for Love in your world and your pain will go away in the process. 

Suggested reading: Matthew 5:4; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Romans 5:3-4; Romans 8:18

Keep your house clean, keep your mind beautiful 

Yesterday I briefly mentioned how our mind is a beautiful house. It is supposed to be anyway. It should be this peaceful place where we entertain friendly guests but we end up letting unwanted visitors in all the time. I also talked about worry being an annoying guest and the need to “de-personify” worry and to destroy it since it is a pest. There are many pests that try to take root in the house of our mind. Being aware of their toxic influence is helpful. God has the best pesticides you can think of. The key is to access them and to use them all the time. You see, the enemy uses our mind as his playground. He dumps the sand of doubt in our head and he pushes us down the swing of fear as much as he can. Reclaim your house and tear down the playground of misery that he loves to establish on top of our peaceful mind. I want my house to be clean and quiet all the time. I don’t want fear, doubt and their bugging friends to infest the beautiful place that was given to me. Let’s be proactive and let’s make sure we are well-equipped to keep the peace and to maintain a clean environment. 

Doubt is a nuisance that likes to creep in as much as it can. It feeds on fear and it feeds on the need to take matters into our own hands. It’s the pest that contradicts faith and that tries to take it down by questioning everything. Doubt stands in the way. It stands between God and us. Its primary role is to create separation. I like to use past victories as a remedy for doubt. We are not to dwell on the past but remembering how God got us out of a ditch in the past can cause us to push doubt away from our mind. 1 Chronicles 16:15 instructs us to “Remember His covenant forever.” His covenant is permanent and it stays powerful. He promised to come through for us and to bless us. Use the pesticide of remembering the covenant every time doubt shows up. Spray good old memories of past blessings on it and spray the power of the covenant all over your house. 

A clean house has no clutter. Keeping our mind clear is a good way to keep it clean. I find meditative prayer to be a very efficient tool against a cluttered mind. Give it a shot. Meditate on God and on His goodness. Meditate on the positive. We are encouraged to think of what’s pure and what’s good. The more we do it, the cleaner we will keep the house. Meditation allows us to wait on the Lord and to hear from the Lord. What we hear is clean and beautiful. If you meditate daily on the things of the Lord, you will purge the bad and the ugly and keep the good in your house. 

What I am saying today is that we have to continually be cognizant of what goes on in our mind. It is very important because our mind is very independent from our heart and our spirit and we need to renew it a lot otherwise we will find ourselves all over the place. We will vacillate and go back and forth. We will be what they call Christian yo-yos that go up and doubt in their faith. Christians that crumble easily under pressure. The topic of the mind should never go away. Let’s keep our mind pest-free. Prayer is my favorite pesticide. Find out which one is the best for you. Once you know for sure, have it at the ready and use it generously. Keep your house nice and clean. Your spiritual health depends on it. Your life will be so much better and you will walk hand in hand with God’s truth. It’s time to clean, vacuum and dust your house. Keep your mind beautiful!

Suggested reading: 2 Timothy 4:5; Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:8

Perfect imperfect vessels

When I rejected religion, I found out that it was the best thing I could have done. I had lived in a prison. I had lived in a prison of rules, principles and constraints. My goal was to be the best I could be in order to buy my way into Heaven. Religion was good at shaming me and at keeping me from getting closer to God ironically. To me God was the God of masses and He wasn’t interested in individuals. The only individuals He favored were the chosen few. The ones who held the secrets to life with God. The ones who were privileged and kept apart from others. The pope, pastors, elders and preachers appeared to be special people who truly knew God and I was in a separate class. I was in the class of sinners that had to work very hard to even hope to get where they were. Then I renounced religion and I decided to draw near to God and to get to know Him for myself. The closer I got, the more I understood that God cares about each and every one of us and He is no respecter of people. He doesn’t see elders as being more important than laymen. I understood that I could be a vessel for God just like any pastor or any church leader. The truth is that God can use anyone as a vessel. No one is perfect but in His eyes we were made perfect through Christ. We are perfect imperfect vessels!
 

I have written about being a vessel before. When you understand that God can use you anytime and in any way He wants, it’s a great realization. It helps you comprehend your worth and it makes you more aware of your actions. The whole idea behind a relationship with God is to implement the idea of loving God and loving others. When you love God and you love others, you will serve as a bridge between the two. You are the liaison. You role is to communicate His love to this desperate world and to help others as much as possible by following His lead. What we need to accept is that we don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect vessel. A perfect vessel is someone who is willing and available. That’s all it takes. Don’t worry about what you did in the past. Don’t worry about the mistakes you made yesterday or earlier today. If you are willing and available, you are good to go. God used a donkey in the Bible. He gave a donkey the ability to talk in the Old Testament. This should be an indication to you that God can give you the ability to talk as well and say what is needed to be said. There are many imperfect people that were vessels for God in the Bible. Noah was a drunk, Jacob was a liar, Abraham was very old, Samson was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, Elijah was suicidal, Peter denied Christ and Saul/Paul persecuted believers. No one is perfect and we have to keep that in mind and be ok with that otherwise it will stall us.

 
If you have never sinned or if you are perfect, you are Jesus. If you are, we need to have coffee or you need to text me. I found that in religious circles, many people have bought into the idea that they are better than other people because they consider their sin to be less significant. I am not encouraging anyone to sin. I am just pointing out that opening oneself to the fact that we can all be vessels despite our shortcomings is essential. God can accomplish great things through you. Think about that. Let that sink in. Don’t let your mind stop you. The enemy will always point out your mistakes and your failures. God is not interested in that. When the enemy points the finger, remind him of the Cross. When the enemy highlights your faults, show him the scriptures you have highlighted in your heart. When the enemy talks to you about your past mistakes, talk to him about his future as outlined in the Word. You are the perfect vessel, friend. Rejoice that you are being used for the greater good. It doesn’t matter where you came from, you are headed to a wonderful place where giving and loving come naturally. Don’t underestimate all you can do. You could be the next Noah or the next Paul. Stay encouraged!

Suggested reading: Numbers 22:21-39; Ezra 6:14; John 4:34

A prayer just for you this week

Friend, I have prayed for you. As a matter of fact I just prayed for you before writing this message. I prayed that the Lord would bless whoever finds this message today and that He would manifest His amazing love in ways that defy all understanding. I prayed for blessings, peace, joy, deliverance, breakthroughs and faith. I also prayed in the Spirit for all unknown needs you might have. It doesn’t matter if I don’t know what you are facing. What matters is that I prayed to the One who knows everything and who can do all things. He knows exactly what He is doing and He answers prayers better than we can ever expect Him to. Today as this new week is starting, I want you to stay encouraged and to keep the faith. God is about to take your need and turn it into a blessing for you and for others. Keep an attitude of expectancy. Hold on to God’s promises. They haven’t changed. You will get what you need. His timing is impeccable. God is watching over you and He cares about you morethan you will ever know. The prayer will take effect. Know that something very good is coming your way. 

The Bible explains that when two people come together in agreement, they will receive whatever they ask. Today I am asking you to come in agreement with me and believe that your need is being take care of as we speak and that God is answering your prayer. Agree that nothing is impossible with God. Agree that there are no mountains too high for Him. Agree that no obstacles can stand in your way. Agree that once prayers go up, blessings come down. Agree that God hears all the time and that He is not deaf to your requests. Agree that God can enlighten you and guide you in a way you have never been guided before. Agree that your breakthrough is on the way and that God is lining up great things. Agree that fear and worry should have no place in your life and that banishing them will allow you to stay in the peace the Lord already provided. Agree that you will enjoy the life you have now and find the good behind the bad. Agree that you deserve the best and no one should dictate how you should lead your life. Agree that goodness and love is what God is all about. Agree to keep your mind clear of all distractions and diversion that don’t concur with God’s truth. Agree to be blessed. 

Now do me a favor. Find someone you can pray for this week. Choose someone you don’t know well. It could be someone who knows the Lord or someone who doesn’t. Just pick someone and pray that his or her week be blessed. Spread the love. Give a few minutes of your time to someone by being in prayer for that person. Pray for the things I prayed for you. Speak blessings and prosperity (of all kinds) into that person’s life. Encourage someone. Help someone hear from God through you. Be a vessel and let the Holy Spirit guide you. Enjoy this new week. Hold on to peace and embrace the blessings the Lord is about to pour into your life!

Suggested reading: Matthew 18:19; Acts 1:14; Philippians 2:3-4

God’s red lights

Yesterday I was driving to the airport and I hit a lot of red lights so it took me a while to get out of my town. It’s pretty unusual to have that many red lights. It made me think of how God likes to give us a red light so we can slow down and mostly so we can stop. A red light is not a bad sign. It helps avoid accidents and it gives us time to pause and reflect. Today I want to talk to you about God’s red lights. I want to encourage you to look at those red lights as signs from Heaven that are meant to help and not to deter us. I know a lot of people that would just keep on going if there were no red lights. They would just drive non stop and not focus on what’s on the road. Why are there red lights? They help regulate traffic, adjust its flow and give pedestrians a chance to cross. A world with no red lights would be a world where motorists would dominate the roads and walkers would have no way to get anywhere. We have to wait our turn to either cross or to drive. God loves regulation and order. In our chaotic lives we have to recognize when it is our turn to keep driving and when we have to let others have their way so to speak. 

The rules of traffic are a good metaphor for our lives. When we get a green light we are free to go ahead. A yellow light indicates that we have to proceed with caution or slow down and a red light brings us to a halt. I find it easier to recognize it when God gives me a green light. The red lights are what I struggle with the most because they seem to stall my progress. A red light could look like a setback when in reality it’s the Lord preventing us from going too fast or from getting into trouble or from having an accident. I was recently making a lot of progress in my walk with the Lord or at least so it seemed. Then I hit a wall. I was stagnant and I stayed where I was for a while. I prayed about it and I finally understood that the stop that I had run into was meant to help me meditate on what I had learned from the Lord. We need the time to digest what the Lord teaches us. We need time to stop and analyze things with the help of the Holy Spirit. Once the Lord deems us ready, He will give us the green light again. A red light is a great opportunity to reflect and grow. Don’t despise the red lights in your life!

I love the idea that a red light allows us to let other people walk and cross. It enables them to make progress in a way. Red lights are a way to give priority to others, to give them the right of way. Think about how powerful that is. God’s red lights are meant to help others. They are not just meant to stop you. Love works the same way. Love gives priority to others and it knows when it is time to stop and give someone a hand. A red light also gives us a chance to rest for a quick moment. God never intended for us to go, go, go all the time. We need time to rest and enjoy the scenery. Next time you are at a red light, think about what it’s doing for you and what it’s doing for others. God’s red lights are a helpful sign!

Suggested reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1; Matthew 11:28; 1 Peter 5:7

The Lord is calling 

Lately every time I have been in deep meditative prayer I have been getting a picture of the Lord calling me. I see Him beckoning me in my mind. It’s not a clear picture but I see Him the way I imagine Him without seeing His face completely. Some would say it is an impression on the inside by the Holy Spirit. I kept getting that image so I started meditating over it to get a better understanding of what it means. Yesterday I was reminded of the scripture that says “Come toMe, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The Lord is calling us. He is telling us to go to Him. I then understood that the Lord had been trying to get my attention so that I would only focus on Him or at least focus on Him more. I am aware of His presence all the time and for Him to call me didn’t make sense to me. I wanted to say “I know You are right here. I have come to You.” His message was more profound than I had thought. God is calling us to come to Him all the time. Why? It doesn’t matter how close He is to us we tend to put distance between Him and us. He doesn’t move away. We are the ones that go astray. Here are two things that make us walk away from the Lord often unconsciously. 

Can you imagine the Lord sitting right next to you on your couch but yet you feel like He is a hundred miles away? The number one source of distance is our head. For some reason we love to just go with what our head tells us. We believe in our thoughts more than anything else. It’s always as if we were saying “Since I am thinking it, it must be true.” We are so close to our mind that it often takes precedence over everything else. We love to think. We live in a world where intellectual curiosity is encouraged and rewarded. I don’t believe it is bad at all. I just know that too much thinking down the wrong path can be very detrimental. We need to get ahold of our thinking and recognize when it is getting out of control. The “out of control” stage is very easy to access. Give your mind a few minutes and you will go from being happy to not wanting to see or talk to anyone just because of the poisonous thoughts that came to you. Any thought that push you away from the Lord and from His truth is toxic. Any negative thought is toxic. Make a list of your thoughts and you will get a better picture of what you need to neutralize and get rid of. Faith needs to play a big role when dealing with your mind. By faith you know that God is near you and He would never leave you. Hold on to that!

Our focus on the world is another obstacle that can prevent us from being close to God. It’s up to us how much of the world we are allowing to influence us or to be a part of our daily lives. The Bible doesn’t say we should live as if we didn’t belong here. We are in this world but not of this world. We should enjoy the world because the Lord created it but loving the world over the Lord is an automatic barrier. We can love the world so much that the barrier is almost insurmountable. The love of money is a wall that we put up between the Lord and ourselves. Wealth can become a god. Fame and pride are two other obstacles based on the love of the world. Being popular and being loved by many people can hinder our walk with the Lord. If only we could understand that our lives are all for His glory not ours. In the meantime the Lord is calling us. Jesus is telling us to come to Him. Let’s follow His lead and let’s make sure we stay close to Him. He knows what’s best for us. Let’s answer the call!
Suggested reading: Matthew 11:29; John 6:37; John 7:37