Stay where praise abounds

When someone says he or she is in a bad place it means that things are not going well. It means that they are in a place where the physical, the emotional or the spiritual environment is not good. Many of us have found ourselves in such a terrible place. Being in a bad place is definitely not where God wants us to be. I was praying the other morning when I kept hearing in my spirit “Stay where praise abounds.” This beautiful recommendation opened my eyes to the reality of where the Lord wants us to be. Staying where praise abounds is more than staying in a place where there is worship and praise. Let’s explore the stunning place where the Lord wants us to be.

First of all we need to remember that any place where praise abounds is a place where the Lord is. God wants us to be in a place where we are aware of His presence and where His presence is abundant. Reaching such a great place is possible through praise first and foremost. He does inhabit the praises of His people. Get into praise mode anytime and you will bring the Spirit down so to speak. Praises are like a magnet for the Holy Spirit. He loves our praises. He knows how good they are for us and how much they can clear up the air. When you are in a bad place, pack your sorrow bags and move to the place of praise. It is a place of peace and positive change.

Staying where praise abounds also implies staying positive. Praises are positive utterances. They show we recognize God’s goodness and therefore we keep a positive attitude. When the going gets tough try all you can to stay positive where praise abounds. Do your best to cling on to the positive character of God. Stay where He is. Don’t follow the lead of those who love to stay in a miserable mindset. Lock yourself in the presence of the Lord. Stay where praise abounds and you will get a boost.

Staying where praise abounds starts with stepping out of the bad place and stepping into a setting where hope is high and faith is kept. You can get there by making sure you surround yourself with people that are positive, people that will lift up your spirits and people that will help you. However, it is important to note that the suggestion is to stay and not to go so we are already in a place of praise and our goal is to stay in it. We are there but when something tries to steal our joy it feels like we have left that place. We do leave it in many instances but that place is where we started off if we have a relationship with the Lord. We may not be aware of it but it is our legal resting place In Jesus’ name. Friend, don’t let the adversity move you from your place of praise. When you take a trip outside of the God abiding place, turn back around and return where the praise is! Stay where praise abounds!

Suggested reading: Deuteronomy 10:21; Psalm 22:3; Psalm 50:23

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Dream bigger

There is nothing too big for God if you believe it. We are given according to our measure of faith. The bigger the faith, the bigger the outcome. Little faith perceives little things but big faith sees God with no limitations. What we ask in prayer we can get if we believe. Believe big and the answer to your prayers will be big. Work on believing bigger. Work on developing a faith that will take your dreams to a higher level. Focus your energy on getting to know God better. It will allow your faith to grow exponentially. There is absolutely nothing God won’t do for you. Share His mind and you will discover secrets that defy your imagination. Share His mind and you will think that the impossible is totally possible. Dream bigger and believe bigger. Say outrageous prayers trusting that God can do the most outrageously wonderful things ever.

I like to think that I am a big dreamer but when I read my Bible I find myself challenged to expand my dreams and expect even more. Miracles, signs and wonders are rampant in the Word of God and they were never meant to be limited to biblical times. If we developed our faith in them, we would see more of them. Jesus said that He couldn’t perform miracles where people didn’t believe. Let’s not be one of those who don’t believe that He can do great things today. Let’s get things moving by saying prayers that ask for more than we have ever asked before.

Sharing the mind of God is not an easy task. We can’t ever share His mind completely but we can get a glimpse of how He thinks. This comes through renewing our mind and through siding with Him all the time. When the world says something can’t be done, if we side with God and say it can be done, we are (partially) sharing His mind. If you spend a lot of time with someone who has a great mind, with great ideas and a great outlook on life, you end up being influenced by his or her mind if you are open to it. The key is to be open to God’s mind. We ought to stop resisting what He says in His Word. If you want to find out what’s on His mind, open His Word. It is spelled out for you and me.

I am a big fan of out-of-this world prayers. I tend to pray them when I get filled up with the joy of the Spirit or when I am touched by His love. My goal is to stay in contact with His goodness so that the excitement of praying big keeps going. I encourage you to say bold prayers. Expand your faith horizon and look at big things. Stay within His will but ask for more. Remember “impossible” is not in His vocabulary but it is a common word that we know too well. Get disconnected from that word. Let the world hold on to that word and make sure you become best friends with the word “possible”. Dare to believe. Dream bigger! God does make dreams come true!

Suggested reading: Ephesians 3:20; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Romans 4:21

Why giving freely is worth it

“Freely you have received; freely give” are the words Jesus told His disciples when talking about the ability they had received to heal the sick and set the captives free. These words got stuck in my spirit for a bit the other day and they came alive as I was driving back from work. Everything that God has given you and me has been free. All spiritual, emotional and physical blessings have been free. When we think of big ticket items such as grace and mercy, it is amazing that they were given freely. The Lord paid the price. He paid the price so we can receive these things free of charge. Now His command is to give to others freely as we got freely. Are we giving mercy freely to others or does it come with a price?

Before I talk more about mercy, I need you to note that the idea of receiving from God is attached to the idea of giving to others. God gives us so we can give to others and this way He can get all the glory. God gives us so we can enjoy good things and so we can in turn distribute what He has given us to other people. When I started to receive amazing peace from the Lord, I couldn’t believe how much peace was available. I had never felt that in my life ever before. It seemed unreal. I felt unreal but it was real. After a while I wanted to share that peace and I have found ways thanks to Him to communicate His peace to others. What I get freely I need to give back freely.

Mercy is compassion or forgiveness toward someone whom it is within our power to punish or harm. Mercy is very powerful. It is forgiveness on steroids. It is amplified compassion. God gives us mercy freely. It’s not something we deserve but He gives it to us regardless. What are we to do with it? We are supposed to enjoy its fulness and live our lives knowing we are forgiven. What else can we do with it? We should show mercy to others. We should be slow to judge and quick to be merciful. Mercy should be our footstool. We should stand on it all the time so we can get to a higher level of spirituality. No one should be deprived of being shown mercy.

There is so much we can give others beyond material goods. There is so much love that is needed everywhere. There is so much hope that is being sought everywhere. There is so much joy to be had. There is so much acceptance that needs to be shown all around us. Let’s keep mercy as the canopy that covers everything we have to offer. Let our actions be tainted by mercy. Let mercy be the language we speak to one another. Let us be givers and not just receivers. Freely we have received, freely we ought to give. When you give you get blessed and you receive even more. It is so worth it to give freely. It’s a beautiful way to honor God. Show mercy today and every day!

Suggested reading: 2 Samuel 24:14; Psalm 145:9; Matthew 10:8

Three things you can expect this week

When a new week begins we tend to focus on the negative. We think about all the work that is coming up. We think about what could go wrong. It’s part of our human nature to think that way and the tragic world events are not helping. However, as a Christian there is a lot of good that we should be expecting. With God on our side we should have great expectations. We should expect joy, success, peace, love, growth, blessings and strength to overcome anything that comes our way. Here are three things you can expect this week.

1. Peace in the middle of chaos. This sounds contradictory but although chaos will come we shouldn’t expect it to overwhelm us. With God on our side we have access to peace when the world around is in turmoil. The Lord is saturated with peace. He can also saturate us with peace. When you need peace, say a simple prayer in faith. You could say something like this; “Lord, You are the author of peace. There is peace that surpasses all understanding in You and as your child I have a right to that peace. I am asking you to wrap me in Your peace and to set my heart at ease In Jesus’ name.”

2. Bursting with joy. The holiday season is upon us and if you focus on all the commercial aspect of the holidays you will get the idea that joy is only limited to this period. Now, God is a God of joy and there is joy in His house. You belong in His house. Joy is yours today and every day and not just on Christmas Day. Claim your rights to joy. Believe that joy is in you and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you. He can make you burst out with joy even when there is misery around you.

3. Favor every day. God will give you favor. As a matter of fact you are already highly favored of the Lord but you might not know it or you might not believe it. Show gratitude about favor. Thank the Lord every morning before you start the day. Thank Him for the favor that is on you. Thank Him for taking care of you and for giving you front row seats in the events of life. You are supposed to be a spectator of great situations that occur because you have God’s favor on your life.

The amount of blessings you and I should expect is huge. God loves to bestow blessings upon us. He loves to walk hand in hand with us all week. It’s up to us to decide to hold on to His hand or to let go and do our own thing. Let’s line up with His will. Let’s adhere to His ways. Let’s continue to seek His face and continue to worship Him. Let’s expect the best to come and not zero in on the negative things that could happen. We can’t prevent some bad things to take place but we are equipped to deal with them. Stay encouraged. It’s going to be a great week in Jesus’ name!

Suggested reading: Psalm 94:19; Proverbs 3:4; Philippians 4:7

How to increase your faith

There is a spectrum of faith. Some people are on at the start of the spectrum, some people are somewhere along that continuum and others are more towards the end of the spectrum. The good news is that it only takes a mustard seed of faith to belong to the faith family. God will meet you where you are but it is advisable to grow in faith. There is always room for improvement when it comes to faith even for those who are closer to the end of the spectrum. How can we increase our faith? What does it take to grow in faith and move up the continuum?

The parable of the mustard seed explains that our faith can grow. I did some research and I found out that a mustard seed can grow and become a 9 foot-plant. That is quite a growth. What are the best conditions for a seed to grow? It primarily needs good soil,water and sun. I am going to examine these three elements and see how they can help us increase our faith.

1. A good soil is fundamental. If we want to give our faith a good foundation, we need to plant our seed in the solid ground of the Word of God. His Word is the soil we should be putting our trust in. How do we plant in that great soil? We do it by studying the Word and meditating on it. A closed Bible sitting on the shelf is not going to help. We are not going to learn what the Word says by osmosis. We need to dig in the soil of the Word on a regular basis.

2. Water gives life. We can’t live without it. The same goes for our faith. Water symbolizes purity and fertility. Purity comes from association with God. As we are trying to increase in faith we need to communicate with God and let His purity and holiness rub off on us. I sound like a broken record when I say that it is important to pray every day but a prayer-less life is not a life lived with the awareness of God. He is the author of faith. Spending time with Him will give our faith a boost.

3. Once our seed is planted and watered often, we will need the sun to keep our faith vibrant and strong. The sun here is the light of the Lord that brings joy, peace, hope. To stay in faith you have to keep a positive attitude and embrace joy. You have to let your faith be showered with the sun of peace and the sun of positivity. Faith will not grow well if it is always exposed to the dark clouds of negativity.

Above all else love is needed to grow in faith. Love is the nutrient that allows your seed of faith to grow into a strong and solid plant. God’s Word represents God and God is Love so you can say that Love is part of the good soil for faith. Keep at it. Don’t get discouraged. Work on developing your faith. Use good soil, water, sun and nutrients and your faith will be 9 feet tall!

Suggested reading: Matthew 13:31-32; Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:5-6

Let your faith touch the Lord

A lot of people have been sick. This is a good season for the pharmaceutical industry. People are investing in all types of lozenges, pills and tablets. Even if you are not sick there are tablets you can take to prevent symptoms. It made me think about how the Word of God is medicine for our body and our spirit. It also helps prevent spiritual chaos. There are many verses that help stop symptoms before they come. Do you have a list of verses that you use on a regular basis as preventive? Psalm 91 is a passage I use every day. I put it in my own words.

When I read it, I substitute “you” with “I”. I put myself in the psalm. As a child of God I fit right in. I find that personalizing the Bible makes it more attainable to our mind and to our understanding. The Bible was written a long time ago but it can be adapted to our modern time. The woman with the issue of blood could nowadays be a woman with cancer. That woman couldn’t find any relief from any doctors. She knew that if she could only touch Jesus’ cloak she would be healed. How many of us believe that if we could only touch Him we could get healed?

Now I am not talking about physically touching Him here. I am referring to reaching out to Him. Stretching out our hand towards Him and receiving what we need in faith. It doesn’t have to be a physical healing. Those seem to be harder to achieve with faith but they do take place. I am alluding to emotional and spiritual healing. If we have the attitude of the woman with the issue of blood and we firmly believe that Jesus has the solution where everyone else failed, we are good to go.

The woman with the issue of blood had spent all the money she had on doctors and instead of getting better she got worse. Then she heard about Jesus and knew that if she could only touch His clothes, she could get healed. In order for her to believe, she had to hear about Him first. Keep hearing about Jesus. Keep reading about Him in His Word. Stir your faith up. Focus on Him. Make Him the center of your focus. Listen to what He does in other people’s lives. The more you will hear the more you will know that if you can only “touch His clothes” you will get healed.

When you touch someone, you make contact with that person. How can you make contact with Jesus? It happens through prayer, praise and worship. P.P.W is the magic formula. It will get you where you need to be. There is underestimated power in P.P.W. This formula allows you to touch the garment of the Lord so to speak. It will transform you and bless you while you are in communion with Him. Develop the faith of the woman with the issue of blood. Keep hearing the Word. Keep building up your faith in the Lord’s ability to heal all situations. Keep wanting to make contact with Him. You might have spent all the energy you had on certain relationships that didn’t lead anywhere productive. Spend your energy on a relationship with the Lord. It will bring great relief to your life and peace will be part of the remedial package He has to offer. You can touch His clothes today!

Suggested reading: Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48

When you are in pain

I have had my share of physical and emotional pain just like anyone else. 6 years ago I was in a lot of physical pain. My stomach hurt all the time. I spent countless nights in pain. Nights when I felt very nauseous and weak. However during those hard times there was one name that helped. There was one name that took me out of my misery every time. There was one name that gave me relief over and over again. The name of Jesus soothed the pain. The name of Jesus brought me peace. In the midnight hour I called on Him when no one was around, when no one could do anything for me. He answered the call that no one would pick up.

I know how much pain can isolate you. I know how much pain can alienate you and pull you away from God. Pain makes us wonder. It makes us question. Pain makes us want to scream, complain and scold Him because of what’s going on. The Lord knows pain. The Bible explains that Jesus carried our pain. This selfless act was announced before He even came to earth. Isaiah 53:4 declares “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted.” It is hard to conceive when you are in the middle of suffering. It is hard to embrace when you can’t think because you are in so much. It is difficult but it leads the way to healing. It leads the way to hope and to possibilities.

It’s in the midst of pain that we need to find our way to hope. Without hope we can’t have faith and without faith we can’t obtain what we need. If you are in emotional or physical pain today I am encouraging you to to reach out for hope. I am encouraging you to to ask God the Father for hope to come back and inhabit your dwelling. Cry out to Him. In the middle of the night open up to Him. Let Him know you can’t do this alone. Use simple words. Just pray a little as long as you pray. God will meet you half way and will carry you the rest of the way.

As I was experiencing too much I had to undergo an endoscopy. When I came out of that small surgical procedure, I quickly found out that I had lost my regular speech. I couldn’t speak without blocking on words and stuttering. I sounded like I had had a stroke. Doctors were puzzled. I had an MRI. They tried many tests. They couldn’t really explain it. I spent 13 weeks with a distorted speech. 13 weeks when I was ashamed to go to the store because I sounded so different. 13 weeks when teaching was an ordeal. 13 weeks of therapy at Yale hospital. I wasn’t strong in my faith but the Lord was my only resort. I remember the healing took place almost overnight. I stunned my speech therapist. People who had given up on seeing me get better were happily surprised. Friend, don’t give up. Pain might be all you know now but trust that with the Lord there will be a gain. You will not only gain more faith but you will gain peace again. Hold on to Him. Your midnight hour is on the way!

Suggested reading: Matthew 8:17; Romans 4:25; 1 Peter 2:24