Tune out the world 

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day when all of a sudden I became very aware of my surroundings. The voices, the laughter of the kids, the sounds and the noise were too much for me. I could barely hear what my friend was trying to tell me. His voice drowned in the chaos around me. The voices of the kids and the sounds of the start of a busy morning at school were stronger than my friend’s voice. My friend and I had to go to a different room to continue our conversation. Then it dawned on me that there are times when the Lord is talking to us but the voices of the world prevent us from hearing what He has to say. There are some many voices that demand our attention. They try to overtake our thinking and stifle the one voice that matters the most. Have you ever been in that situation? Do you ever feel like you need to pull the Lord into a different room so you can continue your conversation with Him?

When I am home praying it is so easy to connect with the Lord. I live in a very quiet area where peace pitched its tent in the middle of my house a long time ago. The environment I live in allows me to get into meditative prayer fairly quickly and I can stay there for a while. When I am in my own space, hearing from the Lord is not hard. Do you have a place you can go to where it is just you and the Lord? It’s when I step outside that the challenges get dropped on my lap. As soon as I leave my peaceful sphere I have to contend with the world and hearing what the Lord has to say takes more effort. However, I have found a solution to this dilemma. I maximize my time with the Lord and that way I can recognize His voice in the middle of a busy crowd. It takes practice. It takes effort. It takes dedication. It takes patience but it is well worth it. 

Maximizing time with God can be achieved by reading the Word, seeking His face in prayer and developing a passion for Him. The more we long for Him, the more we will get because He is a good Father and He gives us when we ask Him. Kids can tell their parents’ voice apart from other voices because they are used to hearing them. The same applies to us. We will be able to tell the Lord’s voice apart from other people’s voices if we keep on hearing His Word and hearing from the Holy Spirit. When the voices of the world are getting louder, let’s go to a different room and wait on the Lord. Let’s wait until we hear from Him. Let’s wait prayerfully. Let’s wait with gratitude. Let’s wait for Him because He always shows up. He always talks to us. His voice comes through various venues but it is audible to the ones who wait for it in faith. The voice of the Holy Spirit is very subtle. He is quite the gentleman. Let’s not hesitate to quiet down the sounds around us so we can enjoy the soft voice of the One who speaks wisdom and truth. Tune out the world, tune into the Lord!

Suggested reading: Jeremiah 33:3; John 10:27; John 16:13

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Love is what changed my life 

What do I pray about? I pray about many different things every day but I do have recurring themes and recurring requests and victory declarations. One of my daily requests is for an invasion of the world. I ask the Lord for a huge invasion that would take over the entire world. I pray for love to invade every corner of the planet. I pray for a mass invasion that won’t leave any stone unturned. I pray for love to make a hole in the hardest hearts and plant a seed that would turn into a flower of hope. I pray that people would get to experience a transformation in their lives. It starts with love. 

We can long for miracles, we can long for power but it all starts with love. The most radical changes in our lives will come when we give in to love. You might have read the comment that Jesus never said to follow other Christians but He said “Follow Me.” If we take that to heart we might start seeing more representations of true love instead of the high profile versions of hatred that are masked by hypocrisy and self-righteousness. Today my message is about love. Yes, love will make a way. It was true yesterday, it is still true today and it will be true forever. Love is what changed my life. 

I have mentioned the breakthrough that shattered my life in a positive way in 2013. I say “shattered” because it destroyed all my preconceived ideas about what walking in love with the Lord means. It shook the core of my spiritual center and made me realize that love is indeed needed for a revolution that can transcend all the things we have learned in life. It’s not about might. It’s not about sounding spiritually savvy. It’s about accepting love. Yes, the revolution in my life came when I accepted love. We talk about giving love but do we open ourselves to God’s Love? Isn’t it the first step to understanding love. In 2013 I let myself go and I let myself accept God’s love. I opened myself to Him. He took me as I was. He embraced me in my imperfection because His perfection covered my sins. My advice to you is to never let anyone make you feel like you are not deserving of God’s love. Thinking that way is a roadblock on the map of your life. No one has the right to make you feel inferior or unloveable. Not even other Christians. Follow Jesus. Don’t follow people. 

The power of love is tremendous. The power of accepting love is beyond amazing. Once you believe that God has unlimited love for you you have paved the way for blessings that are greater than anything you have seen before you were taken over by His love. His love shows you that you are deserving of the best. It tells you that you were made in His image and that you are more than fine by Him. Embracing His love helps you live in faith. You think “Well, God loves me so He will take care of me.” Today is a good day to reflect upon love and think that you should be a recipient of love. See yourself in that role and it will be easier for you to give love. When you are a recipient of love you gain the confidence that anything is possible. That confidence helped me move into a closer relationship with the Lord in 2013. It made me understand that it is all about love. God is all about love. It’s time we went back to the definition of what love is all about and what Christ is all about. His love changed my life and it will change yours too!

Suggested reading: Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 136:26; John 3:16

The cycle of the Christian life

The cycle of life is a series of events that happen during life. I have been thinking about how there is sometimes a cycle of the Christian life. That cycle has a series of events that come and go and some are repeated. As a teacher I can’t help but liken the cycle of the Christian life to a school year in the life of a teacher. I am going to get into more details but first I would like to say that if you find yourself in some type of a rut or a Christian routine where redundancy is ruling your life, look to get out of it. Break the cycle. Work on breaking the cycle. I will conclude with some suggestions on how to do that. 

The first phase of the cycle of the Christian life is anticipation. It’s the same for teachers at the beginning of the year. We are all excited and anticipate the year to be great and fantastic. We are full of new ideas and new energy. When you first accept the Lord into your life, you are vibrating highly with anticipation and with enthusiasm. It’s fresh, it’s new, it’s exciting. The new birth as some people like to call it is the most invigorating part of being saved for many. The goal is to maintain that level of joy and excitement. The reality is that after a while the fun anticipation part turns into something less desirable. The next stage is survival. 

The survival stage is when you get hit by a big dose of reality and life is trying to dissuade you from adhering to what you now know as true. Life tries to get you down. All you have learned about life in Christ doesn’t seem to work. You are faced with so much adversity that you can’t remember any of the promises and God takes a backseat in the car of your life. It’s not always that dismal but we all go through a phase where we have to survive and hope to make it. The honeymoon phase of the new life is gone. Now is the time to see what our faith is really made of. Then comes a phase of merriment and hope. For a teacher this coincides with the holidays. For a Christian this is when we hear a new sermon or we get a word of encouragement that gets us back on track. It is a great moment but oftentimes it is just one more phase in the cycle because before we know it we hit another phase that brings more disillusionment. 

More phases will ensue. There will be a phase of rejuvenation again, a phase of reflection where we will question things or we will think about the good and weigh it against the bad and then another phase of anticipation and excitement will come. My advice to you is to break the cycle. Ask the Lord to show you how to get out of this cycle of ups and downs of our faith. I am not talking about getting rid of trials and tribulations. I am talking about the roller coaster ride of our faith where we go to mountains tops and then down to the valleys in no time. The Lord can bring consistency in our lives and it comes with the unwavering connection with the Holy Spirit. In 2013 the cycle of monotony was broken in my life. I found a new fresh approach to life with Christ and it has stayed with me ever since. I still face difficulties but the level of anticipation and excitement is pretty much the same no matter the season. Pray against that cycle if you are in it. Ask God for assistance. There is so much more to this Christian life than we know. 

Suggested reading: John 17:3; John 8:12; Romans 8:10

The bridge that will get you to the other side 

I have seen the Golden Gate Bridge a couple of times and each time I have found it to be breathtaking. This huge structure was built back in the 1930’s. It stands between San Francisco and Sausalito. Thanks to this massive overpass, traveling between San Francisco and the northern region was made easier. It bridges a gap that could only be crossed by boat or by air before that. Now you can walk, bike or drive across the bridge. This made me think of how God created the bridge that closes the gap between where we are now and where we are destined to go. He is the One that makes it possible for us to go above the seas and just walk right into our destiny. Do you see the Lord as the bridge to your breakthrough? Do you rely on Him to get across to the other side? He has the ability to do that. Whatever you are going through right now keep in mind that God will bridge the gap and He is standing tall as a massive structure that will enable you to get places comfortably. You might have to walk, to bike or to drive but you will get there. He will make sure of it.

If we are going to think of God as a bridge, we have to remember that Jesus is the way to God. He is the bridge that allows us to get to God. Isn’t it wonderful that God made Himself the bridge that gets us to Him? He chose His only Son to make that happen. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are one. To get to God you need to go through God. There is no better way to get to Him than to believe in His Son. You and I have the best bridge possible. All we need to do is trust in Him. When I pray to God I pray in the name of Jesus. I have seen Him in my mind as a bridge. I have seen the Cross as a bridge. The other great thing about the Lord being the bridge is that with Him we can always get to God. Jesus won’t make us pay a toll or restrict our lane when we need to reach the Father. He is the way, the truth and the life. He has bridged the gap between you and God the Father. You have free access. Hold on to that truth!

If a breakthrough is what you are waiting for, start walking on the bridge. Start walking in faith knowing that the Lord is getting you to your answer. God is the creator of faith. Faith is the bridge that gets us to God. Tap into your faith and keep walking. Don’t look down at the waters. Don’t look up at flying vultures in the sky. Stay confident. God has cleared all the lanes for you. There might be a traffic jam on the way but don’t think of it as a delay. God is molding you and helping you develop patience. It’s better to be patient than to run into an accident on your way to your breakthrough. God is much more solid than any bridge. He doesn’t collapse under pressure and He doesn’t cave in when He sees the enemy. Today I want you to believe that you are going to make it and your breakthrough is ahead of you. Stay in faith. God is leading you the right way. Keep walking in faith. Do not worry and do not be afraid. Things will get better. Take His Word for it. You are trusting a God who would part the seas for you if there was no bridge to where you need to be. Keep that in mind!

Suggested reading: Isaiah 43:16; John 14:6; Philemon 2:13-14

Keeping a firm grip on God’s Word

When I pray I often hold the Bible in my hand. During meditative prayer and even during worship I like to hold on to God’s Word. In times of crisis I often carry it around in my house. It is symbolic. I hold on to the Word of God because His Word is my source of strength and It holds the truth I need to remember at all times. When we hold on to something it denotes that we are not letting go of it. That’s what I like to do. I like to not let go of the Word. What does that actually mean to hold on to God’s Word? It means that no matter what comes our way, our grip on God’s Word is the same. It means that there might be obstacles on our path but we will use the Word of God to go over the hurdles. We use the Word to flatten up problems and rise above dismal circumstances. Holding on to God’s Word implies that we continue to speak the Word despite the world. There is power in the Word. Hold on to power. Hold on tight. A firm grip will take you far. 

“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7). Jesus made this promise to us. This promise has to do with holding on to His Word. If we hold on to it by keeping His words in us, we can ask whatever we wish and it will be done for us. Whatever we wish that is in accordance with God’s Word will be attained if we stay true to His Word. It sounds simple doesn’t it? Yet holding on to God’s Word is a daily challenge. We get tossed around by the waves of the sea of the world. One thought pops into our head and God becomes a far away concept. One bad break can send us back years on our faith walk. The enemy will do all he can to remove our grip on the Bible. However there is still hope. The Lord said “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge “ (Hosea 4:6). We know the truth. The goal is to keep knowing the truth so to speak. 

There is one amazing way to remain in the knowledge of the truth of God; being reliant on the Holy Spirit. He is the ultimate helper. He is the One who can help us abide by God’s Word. First we need to acknowledge Him and to be aware of how important He is. He can’t be separated from God. He can’t be separated from the Word. He is the liaison between the Lord and us. He is the incredible gift that Jesus gave us. If someone gives you the perfect gift you better take it and be grateful for it. I am grateful for the Holy Spirit. I thank the Lord for Him every single day. 

After acknowledging the Spirit we ought to invite Him into our lives all the time. He is always there but inviting Him shows that we can’t live without Him. It shows dependence. Every time you feel like you are letting go of the Word, invite the Holy Spirit and ask for help. He will keep the Word firm in your hand and He will bless you with more knowledge than you thought possible!

Suggested reading: Psalm 37:4; John 14:13; 1 John 5:14

When God is our muse 

Let me tell you how much I love Jesus. I love, love, love the Lord! It’s something I used to have a hard time sharing or talking about until I realized that it was too big of a secret to keep. I realized that this love was nothing to be ashamed of because people are openly in love with all sorts of things and all sorts of people. It’s my right and my due diligence to talk about the One I love and to just marvel at who He is. He loved me first. He loved you and me even before our parents. When someone loves you, you should show them respect and love them back. The Lord said “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). What happens when we keep His commands? Well, He said that He would ask His Father and He would send the Holy Spirit. It is a done deal. The Holy Spirit is here. Jesus sent Him and He is with us. He is a Person, the third Person of the Trinity. He is the Person that was birthed out of love. My encouragement today is for you to love the Lord and love the Holy Spirit even more. Let’s respect them and keep His commands. Let’s work on loving the Lord more and let’s be ok with sharing how much we love Him. 

People often use the ones they love as an inspiration. Jesus is my muse. He is my inspiration every day. I live by Him, through Him and for Him. He inspires me. He motivates me. He makes me want to be a better person. He makes me want to be more like Him. A muse is a source of inspiration for creativity. I am not a creative person but the Lord stimulates creativity in me. I am not talking about artistic creativity but creativity in general. “Imagination” is a good synonym for creativity that helps us understand its meaning even more. I find inspiration for my imagination and my dreams in the Lord. He inspires me to dream big, to think outside the religious box, to think higher than earthly things, to dream up actions that will reveal Him to the world through me. I want my imagination to be saturated by the Lord with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. I aspire to let my creativity be flooded by God’s words and by His love. 

Letting God be our muse is a fun way to live. Why? God is fun. He is full of joy. He wants us to be joyful. He wants us to contaminate others with His joy. He desires for you and me to contemplate Him in prayer and in quiet time and then go into the world and depict what we saw as accurately as we can. You have heard that you might be the only Bible some people will ever read. In order to reflect the Word of God correctly, we ought to not only spend time in It but we should also spend time with the Lord. I say that all the time because it is so vital. The artist needs to stare at his/her muse for a while to get inspired. Let’s stare at the Lord for a while to get inspired. Let’s keep His commands at the forefront of our lives. The Lord is an amazing muse. Let Him permeate all that you do, think or say. Before long you will become a solid incarnation of the best muse ever!

Suggested reading: 1 John 2:3-5; 2 John 1:6; Ephesians 6:24

Letting God have His way

If you are familiar with Jesus Culture’s music you know that Chris, one of the lead singers often says “Have your way Lord.” It is a powerful statement. It expresses submission and surrender. How many of us are willing to be totally submitted to God? How many of us can say that “Have your way Lord” is our way of life? It takes a lot of dedication and commitment. Could it be the answer to a lot of our prayers? We all question everything at some point. We all get to a point where nothing seems to work or to happen and we can’t get God to do anything for us or at least that’s how it feels. God is not a genie and He is not a machine we can operate or switch on and off. He is the One and only who can truly impact our existence in an extremely positive manner if we let Him have His way. The path of least resistance is the best path to embark on with the Lord. Are you willing to go down that path?

I understand how “Have your way Lord” can sound like a major sacrifice. We are so used to having our way and we are afraid to let go of control. However, giving up our way for the best way possible is actually a blessing and not a sacrifice. Could it be that God has better blessings for us than we can imagine but we think He can only bless us the way we envision it? Could it be that our way hasn’t worked because it clashes with His? We want the best out of life and we have an idea of what the best looks like. God’s ways are not our ways. As long as we keep our thinking from expanding, we will be confined to small thinking when God is a God of big thinking. It’s time we let go of our ego and let God be God in our lives not the way we would like Him to be but the way He truly is. 

“Have your way Lord” is a declaration of faith. It’s a display of confidence in who He is. It’s knowing that He is almighty and that we are nothing without Him. It’s letting Him take the wheel and drive us around. It’s being in the passenger seat and trusting that we are going in the right direction and that our journey there will be both enriching and formidable. Let’s get familiar with God’s ways. If we feel led to pray, we should pray. If we feel led to show love to the unloved ones we should do exactly that. If we feel led to encourage people we should encourage away. If we feel led to seek peace we should look for peace. If we feel led to forgive someone who hurt us decades ago we should forgive that person. If we feel led to rejoice and spread joy we should spread away. All these things are letting God have His way in our lives. Let’s do it. Let our actions and our words reflect our commitment to let God have His way. It will pave the way to an even more intimate relationship with Him!

Suggested reading: Psalm 25:4; Psalm 86:11; Luke 20:21