Stay strong

Courage is something we all need and it is uplifting to see that we are told to be courageous many times in the Bible. I find it encouraging because if it said a few times it means that it is doable. We can be courageous. The Lord wouldn’t ask us to do something out of reach. It does often feel like we have to reach out and grab the hand of courage and hang on to it very tight until we make it through. The Lord’s hand is the ultimate hand of courage. If we hold on to Him He will carry us through the worst times in our lives. We need to be courageous and brave indeed. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to” Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” We can be courageous and strong in the Lord. It is not our power and not our strength. I have noticed that when things get really bad, something really good is coming right behind it. It seems that the enemy likes to turn up the heat when a blessing is on the way. He wants to distract us and discourage us and that is why we should be courageous. It might look like things are going to get worse and worse and they do sometimes. However, if we stay in faith even during the trials, we will experience an unprecedented victory. Let’s stay strong. 

I like to think that I can put up with a lot and that I can remain strong in many situations. Then something out of the blue comes up that tests my strength. The only One that gets me through it is the Lord. His comforting voice appeases me. This reminds me of when I am working out at the gym. At times the weights are too heavy and I want to give up. Then my trainer motivates me and his voice helps me. It’s the same thing with the Holy Spirit. When I feel like giving up, His voice inside of me stimulates me. Here is something that has proven to work for me. When the opposition gets strong, I know that the Lord is going to do something stronger. I don’t welcome the opposition but I see it as a sign that something amazingly good is about to take place. When Jesus was born there was a lot of opposition. King Herod tried to get Him killed. Many babies were killed. The enemy knew the King of kings was going to do some major damage to his kingdom. Nonetheless the opposition didn’t get its way and the Savior lived and accomplished the most beautiful thing ever. 

Friend, look at your trials today as a platform to not only exercise your faith but to also show the enemy that truly the Lord in you is stronger than him. Threaten the opposition with the words of the Lord. Don’t give in. Don’t give up. It’s not always easy but stay strong and be courageous. Stay motivated by the voice of the Holy Spirit. His voice is in His Word, in sermons, in music and in prayer as well. You are stronger than you think. It’s time you were reminded of the One who is in you and with you. He can do all things and He certainly can spot you when you are doing some heavy lifting. Stay strong! The enemy wouldn’t be coming at you so fiercely if there wasn’t anything great around the corner. Keep walking and keep going. You are going to make it to the corner of Blessed Street and Amazing Avenue. The Lord has a way to surprise us with unexpected blessings. Don’t lose faith! Your strength is in the Lord!

Suggested reading: Deuteronomy 31:6-8; 1 Chronicles 28:20; 1 Corinthians 15:58

It will work out for the best 

Yesterday I had a 4 pm training session at the gym. I had not brought a change of clothes with me to work so I had to stop by my house. When I got home I found a notice from FedEx saying that a package was waiting for me at the post office. Because of my busy schedule, I figured I wouldn’t be able to go to the post office until the end of next week. As I was ready to leave my house, my trainer texted and said that something had come up and he had to cancel our session. This allowed me to go to the post office and get the package that I had been waiting for patiently. The other interesting thing is that I had received a letter from my bank and I had been wanting to call them to talk about refinancing my house. I had time to call them as well and an hour later I was pre-approved. Everything worked out nicely. The Lord told me deep down inside that this is exactly how He operates. He makes sure that all things work out for our best. What happened yesterday was on a small or medium scale but He takes care of the big things as well. If only we could look at the big picture and see that God paints it all for us, we would have a different perspective on life. God is the maker and we are the clay. Today I want you to think of God as the master painter in charge of painting all the details of your life. The big and small ones. If you stay in faith you will be introduced to marvelous and beautiful paintings and you will understand that God is working on your behalf even when things are not going well. 

I’ve always liked the idea of “a big picture.” The big picture of our lives reveals our purpose and why we are here. My conviction is that I am here to serve the Lord and I live for Him. Am I always aware of it? No. Should I be? Yes, definitely. That is my journey and my destination. When I look at the big picture, I can’t see it all. That’s why they call it the big picture. It is so big that we can’t see all of its features. The best thing to do with this big picture is to trust the Lord. We need to rely on Him and believe that He has everything figured out. We don’t and even when we think we do, the picture is so big that we miss some of it. I like to proclaim that God knows what He is doing. The post office, the gym session being canceled and the call to the bank are just a small example but all of these details working together to form the perfect line-up for my afternoon were God ordained. What boggles my mind is that the Lord had planned this a long time ago. Even before I was born. Friend, God knows all the details of what you want and what you need. He knows you better than you know yourself and He knows what will happen to you. He is never shocked by the bad breaks. Trust Him. He can change a bad break into a blessed opportunity. 

Looking back I can see how God’s hand has been busy taking care of me and my loved ones. I trust that it is important to recognize it and to thank Him for everything He does for us. It is good to be aware and to be appreciative. I once asked Him to open my eyes to what He does so I wouldn’t miss a thing. It is a good prayer to say. How many times has God intervened but our mind was too cluttered to understand it? God has some great plans for your life. Plans to bless you and to lift you up. He is in charge. Rely on Him. Make Him your source and your resource. He longs to be in a partnership with you and shower you with love. Let go of the paint brushes. Let Him do what He does best. Keep praying. Keep praising. Stay strong in the Lord. It will all work out for the best. The Lord will make sure it does!

Suggested reading: Romans 8:28; 1 Peter 5:10; James 1:3-4

Don’t get discouraged 

“Don’t get discouraged” is what I heard deep down in my spirit when I was praying a few days ago. I noticed that the more time I spent in prayer and in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the easier it was to hear from the Lord. Those words came like a quiet thunder and hit my heart just where I needed them to hit. The beauty of it all is that those encouraging words stayed with me for a while. I had one of the most fulfilling day because God’s words had echoed His love in me with a resounding encouragement that trumped anything that came against me that day. One word from God and our whole demeanor and attitude can change in an instant. Today I want to transfer that message to you and tell you to not get discouraged. I am sure you can find a hundred reasons why you should give up right now but it only takes one reason to hold on tight and to make it through. That reason is that the Lord is speaking to you and telling you “Child, don’t get discouraged. I’ve got this. I can reverse any situation. Any mess that the enemy has created I will change and you will be blessed.”

I am one of those people who can withstand quite a bit but I have my weaknesses just like anyone else. One thing I have learned is that I have to relentlessly turn to the Lord in all situations. No matter how desperate I get, I find that the only anchor I can hold on to for dear life is the Lord. He always has the answer. He always has a good word and He always has my back. It often feels like I am spinning my wheels trying to figure out how things will turn out and if something good is coming my way soon. Then I am reminded that something good is here now. I am reminded that God is in control. I am reminded that my best days are before me and not behind me. I am reminded that there is so much power available with the Lord that nothing can ever stand in His way. He is by my side so nothing can stand in my way either. We are a team and we move around together. Better yet, He moves about with me wherever I go. The enemy can’t laugh for too long because I have resurrection power backing me up. I am not my own strength; the Lord is my strength!

Discouragement is that feeling that leaves you hopeless and that leaves you flat on your back with no relief in sight. The enemy loves to use that as a weapon to break our spirit and to weaken us. He knows what a threat we are to him and he tries to intimidate us so we give up and give him control of our lives. If you are not someone he has to contend with he will leave you alone and let you perish in a corner away from the Lord. His problem is that you are not one to stay away from God, friend. Your relationship with Jesus is an abomination to him. Take the arrows of discouragement he points at you and change them into stepping stones that will rise you up higher and closer to God. Your tough situation is an indication that you are doing something right in the Lord so don’t give up. Stay strong in the Lord. Let Him speak encouragement to your heart. Stand your ground. Don’t let discouragement blind you. Dazzle discouragement with the light of the Lord. Speak victory into your situation. You were meant to make it and make it beautifully in Jesus name. Don’t get discouraged. The Lord is on your side!

Suggested reading: 2 Chronicles 15:7; Joshua 1:9; Mark 10:27

You are forgiven 

It’s sad to think that many people don’t see God as a merciful God. They perceive Him as an angry God who is out to get them. They think that their sins are keeping them away from God all the time. This is far from being the truth. For one thing, God sent His Son so we could have eternal life and so that our sins would be forgiven. I love the message of eternal life but I also love the part that tells us that are sins are forgiven. Sin shouldn’t be taboo. We need to talk about it in the light of the Word of God. He forgives us. That doesn’t give us a license to sin but it is reassurance that every time we do sin, and we all do, there is forgiveness available. Micah 7:18-19 says “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” God has mercy and God is love first and foremost and love forgives and forgets.

I learned at a young age the importance of repentance. I make it a point to repent every day when I pray. It’s just a way for me to recognize who I am and what the Lord did. Repenting knowing that God forgives you is a great principle because it magnifies the archetypes; us being forgiven sinners and God being God in all His forgiving glory. It shows that we trust that God is always forgiving and it shows major respect for Him. What message are we sending if we never take the time to ask for forgiveness? Are we saying it doesn’t matter if we sin because Jesus was on the Cross? Repenting daily is like saying “Jesus died on the Cross for me and His atonement of my sins is still relevant today. I sin every day and He can forgive every day. Therefore I need to ask for forgiveness knowing that He will always forgive me.”

The key is to trust and believe that when we ask for forgiveness we receive it. How powerful it is to know that Jesus’ blood cleanses us and makes us whiter than the snow! It is a confidence booster. It allows us to go to the throne of God and ask for what we need. Once we know we are forgiven it’s easier to ask and know we shall receive. Let’s not hold on to sin but let’s release it every day by asking for forgiveness. Jesus in Matthew 4:17 admonished us to repent. We repented once when we accepted Him as our Savior but we have to continue to repent because we sin every day. Matthew 3:8 says “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Keeping with it means we need to continually do it. No one is perfect other than Jesus. Friend, we have a Lord who loves us and forgives us. Let’s not bring condemnation on ourselves but let’s give it all up and give it to God daily. 

Suggested reading: Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 50:20; Psalm 103:8-9

Give a hug to someone today 

Hugs are a great sign of affection. People hug a lot here in America. More than in Europe from what I can tell from experience. A hug is a way of saying “Hey you are loved and let me show you how warm my love can be around you.” As I was getting ready for work, it came to me that Jesus must have been a hugger. Jesus is love. Hugging is a beautiful display of love. I can only imagine how He must have hugged His disciples and His family back then. Maybe He was the biggest hugger of all. Maybe He hugged everyone even the rejects of society that He spent time with. He expressed no discrimination and no hate towards anyone. Jesus hasn’t changed. Could it be that He is hugging you all day every day but you are unaware of it?

Our God is always close to us and yet we tend to put distance between Him and us. We do that with our head. Our head is very good at looking at what’s around and making everything else look like it doesn’t exist because we can’t see it. God wants communion and proximity with us. He loves it when we remember Him and when we live with the awareness of His presence. If Jesus were to come to your house tonight, He would stand very close to you. He wouldn’t think about personal space. He would pour His love into you just by looking at you. Jesus personified the greatest commandment of all ; love your neighbor as yourself. He still does today. He loves you so very much that He gave you the Holy Spirit. He gave you His Spirit so you would feel His embrace and experience His hugs all the time. 

I want to get a bigger understanding of God’s love and connect with Jesus on a higher level. I want to live my life knowing that His hugs are a daily occurrence. The air you breathe, the blessings, big or small, that you have are all part of the demonstration of God’s love. You can see His hugs all around you. You can see them in your family, your friends and nature. His hugs are in the joy He gives you and the peace He makes you feel. God’s hugs abound and we need to keep our eyes open to them and let ourselves be wrapped in His loving arms. If you are in pain today for any reason, think about the loving arms of the Father. Think about Jesus’ hugs that never end. Train your head to let your heart accept the love and put your mind on mute so you can feel the hug. God loves you more than you will ever know. He has a hug for you for every minute of every day. Stay encouraged. His love will prevail. Stay in faith! Give a hug to someone today and spread the love!

Suggested reading: Romans 13:10; 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Peter 4:8

Not more than you can handle 

A few days ago my friend told me that he had a lot going on and he had too much on his plate. There is verse in the Bible that literally says Hod won’t give us more than we can handle. However, it made me think of 1 Corinthians 10:13. This verse says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” We find the idea here that God won’t give us more than we can handle. Why then is it that we sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed? To answer that question, I will also use 1 Peter 4:12and James 1:2-4. The Message translation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 puts the word “test” next to the word “temptation.” Any test or trial that comes your way can be handled. You don’t have to do it all on your own. God is your helper and if your plate is too full, it’s time to turn to the one who empties the dishes!

When I was in grad school, I was very active in the school community and I often felt like I had way too much on my plate. I remember thinking it would be nice if I had an assistant. I put a lot on myself because I had the “busy bug.” You have the busy bug when you feel like you have to be busy every minute of every day. It was a very common bug in school and I tried to avoid it for years but I fell prey to it. It’s very contagious. When we have too much going on, it could be that we have imposed all this busy work on ourselves. It is wise to look for help and for guidance. The Holy Spirit does an amazing job when it comes to showing us what we need to adjust and change in our lives. Present your full plate to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to show you what you put on yourself and what you could or should get rid of.

Now, there are times when our plate is full as a result of trials that show up unexpectedly. 1 Peter 4:12 declares “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” We tend to wonder why we go through so many tribulations and we are often taken aback by what life dumps on our lap. These trials are bound to happen. It doesn’t mean they will be the end of us. It means that we all have tough times to deal with but we have a tougher God those tough times have to contend with. Think of people who have no relationship with the Lord. They also get their share of difficulties but they have no way out. If you have a lot on your plate today, rest assured that it will happen from time to time but be confident that God will clear your plate in no time.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) A full plate rarely equates a happy eater. What I mean by that is that when your plate is full, you are not the happiest person on earth because it’s excessive. Trials and problems rob us of our joy and bring distress most of the time. However, we are encouraged to count it all joy. We are told to stay in faith and keep the joy burning in our heart because the Lord will get us out of our predicament and in the process our faith will get stronger. Friend, persevere. Stay strong in your faith. Know that God can turn your worst situation into the best story ever written. Pray and ask Him to take care of your plate. Ask Him to replace those hard to digest foods on your plate and give you delicious dishes that will satisfy you for a long time. If you feel you have too much, change your perspective and remind yourself that God would never give you too much. You just have to have faith that He will help you. God won’t put more on your plate than you can handle. Give Him your leftovers!

Suggested reading: Daniel 3:17; 2 Timothy 4:18; 2 Peter 2:9

Believe in the impossible 

I believe that testimonies can be truly encouraging and uplifting so I want to share what the Lord did for me yesterday. Yesterday was my birthday. I didn’t know what to expect but I started the day the usual way with prayer, thanksgiving and great affirmations. I post my messages daily on WordPress and after prayer I looked at my phone. There was a message from WordPress saying that today was my 500th message. It was quite a milestone that I had never thought I would reach but it all happened thanks to the Lord. It had a special meaning for me because it was my birthday. Birthdays are milestones that remind us of how great our Lord is since He makes it possible for us to see another year. Getting older is a blessing. It surely beats the alternative. 

Getting that 500 message notification first thing in the morning set the tone for the day. It was a way for the Lord to show me that what I didn’t think would happen actually happened. He is in control and He can do the impossible. If there was one present I could give you today and every day, it would be the gift of hope in the Lord and hope in His love. I want my legacy to be about Jesus’ love and about how He does the impossible even when we think things can never change. My prayer is that every single one of you get to experience Him the way we all should. His love is the biggest and most wonderful thing there is in the universe. He is larger than life. 

Now I want you to think about the one thing that you believe is the least likely to happen in your life. Think of something you would like to see happen but you just don’t have enough confidence that it will ever come to pass. Present it to the Lord. Just open your heart to Him and share that one thing with Him. Tell Him you know He is the God of the impossible and that you did what you could on your end and now you are turning it over to Him so He can do what He knows best. God is not idle. He listens. Going to Him with your request shows some degree of faith. That’s all He needs. Give Him faith the size of a mustard seed and He can take it, plant it, run with it and turn into a sturdy tree that produces great fruit. God will take the little you have and give you “the big” He has in return. 

Another unexpected gift showed up in a surprising form. The night before I had prayed twice. I always start with meditative prayer but for once I felt led to go straight into regular prayer. I did that the first time. Then I wanted to pray some more because it was so good. Second time I went straight to prayer again. The next day same thing happened in the morning. No meditative prayer. After work I met up with the one I consider to be my spiritual mentor. She is the one who helped me reconnect with God years ago. We were talking and she said the Lord had shared with her that I should stick to regular payer for a while. Now how awesome is our God! I was dumbfounded. This was exactly what I had felt in my heart but I didn’t even tell her. God of the impossible is here with us, friend. Hold on to Him. Get to know Him better. Make Him your priority always. You will never be disappointed!

Suggested reading: Matthew 19:26; Matthew 17:20; Luke 18:27