Dare to Believe

So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 (NIV)

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

With all the devastation taking place around us, do you find yourself feeling extremely discouraged? Perhaps the external turmoil has made a way into your heart and it feels as though a war is now raging inside. Perhaps you or someone you love has experienced great loss and it is consuming your thoughts. Odds are you didn’t mean to lose focus but the magnitude of the issue high-jacked your sense of peace and challenged everything you’ve believed to be true.

One thing is certain; the enemy in all his craftiness is out to destroy your faith. His tactic is to magnify what’s seen with the naked eye to the point that your spiritual eye is in a state of paralysis. Unfortunately, we have our flesh working against us on a constant basis. It goes into deep mourning over the loss of physical comfort and perceived stability to the point that many times we start to doubt God’s love for us when we’re allowed to go through hardship. The enemy knows that if he is able to get us to take on the mindset of a victim then his work is done because once the mindset is adopted, it’s like trying to stay afloat amidst quicksand.

Nevertheless, the external circumstances that we experience in this life should never be used as a thermostat to gage the depth of God’s love for us. Outside forces have absolutely no bearing as to whether we should consider ourselves blessed or cursed. Even still, in the center of what seems to be utter chaos, dare to take God at His Word. Believe that He will work all things out for your good and know that if it doesn’t look good at the moment, it’s only because He’s not done transforming the ashes of your loss into beauty.

Prayer

Lord, despite how things appear at the moment, I chose to believe wholehearted that Your Word is not just strokes of a pen on a paper but as I sprinkle it with a measure of faith, it will come to life, stand at attention and accomplish everything You’ve purposed.

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Revenge

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. – Romans 12:19 (NLT)

At times, do you find your thoughts stuck in a replay mode over an offense? Perhaps someone has wronged you and you’re afraid that if you let your guard down enough to forgive the offense, you’ll subject yourself to the vulnerability of being hurt all over again. Better yet, perhaps you’re fixated on it because you want them to pay immensely for what they’ve done. In that, your mind justifies the repetitive thoughts because as you replay the offense, you think of a craftier way to make them pay. In your mind’s eye, you actually have power over them at the moment.

Nevertheless, even though you feel empowered for a moment, it only offers a false sense of retribution because it is technically not yours to attain. Despite the fact that you made them pay in your mind’s eye, in order to reach the empowerment high again, you’ll need to come up with a new and more painful way of getting back at them. It merely represents an insatiable appetite that can’t be quenched.

Only the Lord can customize the retaliation tactic. He and only he knows exactly what it will take to make that person recognize the error of their ways. You, on the other hand, do have a part in the process but it’s not to render a collection notice for the offense. Your part is to issue a warrant to your thoughts and give it a life sentence without parole.

Prayer

Lord, help me to surrender my pain at the foot of the cross. I trade in the painful memories for a complete sense of peace and healing that only You can give.

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Faith Makes Hope Float

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Do you feel as though you’re in a perpetual holding pattern at this time in life? Perhaps God has placed a promise in your heart but when you peer into the reality of your situation, everything is quite the contrary. Perhaps the things that have offered a sense of security and peace of mind in the past are no longer offering stability. Even still, everything around you looks like utter chaos and you reason that it will take a divine intervention to turn things around.

As we look to God’s Word, truth be told, people and things were never meant to produce a sense of security. Although God may use people and things as instruments to deliver stability and security, He is the Ultimate Source. Many times He allows things around us to be shaken and uses it as a weeding process to show us, one by one, the things that can’t be trusted as our source, so that we will readjust our faith and hope on the one and only True Source.

Nevertheless, the enemy hopes that the chaos around you will produce doubt and defeat but God uses the uncertain times to get us to lean in closer, listen intently and rise up from the rubble in victory. As you’re firmly anchored by faith in God’s promise, hope will keep you afloat during the transition period as you’re persevering until the promise becomes a reality. Hope sees through the invisible, looks beyond the perceived intangible and achieves the impossible.

Prayer

Lord, thanks for tucking a promise deep within my heart and providing hope which keeps me afloat and transforms my “hope so” into my “know so” as I live out the “dash” until the promise comes to pass.

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Heeding God’s Still Small Voice

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” – Joshua 6:2-5 (NIV)

Have you ever felt a prompting to do something but quickly dismissed it because it seemed so unconventional? You may have chalked it up to a faulty connection. Even still, you may be so busy and bombarded with life that you throw plans out there aimlessly and merely do whatever sticks. Hence, instead of doing life on purpose, life is doing you, so to speak. You may even feel as though you’re being tossed around and getting bumps and bruises along the way.

All too often we don’t achieve much success in our day because we hear from the Lord but don’t listen, better yet, we don’t heed His instructions. Despite the fact that His instructions are typically unconventional, they are indeed very strategic and if heeded, will render us victorious. That is, victorious by the Lord’s standards and definition. Nevertheless, even if our circumstance doesn’t appear victorious at the moment, God’s perspective encompasses every aspect, from start to finish. As we continue to put one foot in front of the other in obedience, we will witness all the victory that He has in store for us.

Contrary to the world, which yells commands and mixed messages as though speaking through a megaphone, God speaks with a still small voice, not because He wants to see us frantically searching for the right answers to life situations but because He wants us to lean in closer and nurture the relationship along the journey. We must fine tune our spiritual ear which comes by turning down the volume of life long enough to pray and take in His Word. As a matter of fact, He would love to give to us freely but many times, the Word remains as lifeless ink on a page and powerless in our own lives until we activate it by receiving it, believing in it and speaking it as though we have already received it.

Prayer

Lord, how I long to receive all the victory that You have in store for me. May I take the time to fine tune my spiritual ear and heed your voice. May I never let the noise of the world overpower Your still small voice.

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Letting Go of Old Wounds

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. – Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

Do you ever have emotions that surface out of the blue that leave you wondering, “where did that come from”? Perhaps without much thought you unleash those emotions on those around you and reason that their actions provoked your response. After all, someone has to pay for the emotional pain that you’ve experienced.

Truth be told, many times we carry around the residue of old wounds and it taints our “perception meter”. As our perception is clouded and our emotions are demanding justice for the pain, we tend to throw daggers loosely at targets that were never meant to receive them. What could have potentially proven to be a healthy relationship is now tainted by those old wounds.

Nevertheless, it is important to come to the realization that enough damage has already been done by what we’ve experienced in the past. The enemy has gotten far too much satisfaction by the pain that has been caused. Furthermore, Jesus has already paid the price. It is past time that we receive the healing balm that He gives so freely and allow our current relationships to flourish and bloom as they were intended to do so.

Prayer

Lord, I thank You for helping me to recognize that enough damage has been done by the painful experiences in my past. I receive the clean slate that you’re providing. I chose to let go of the ashes and receive the beauty that you have to offer.

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Overcoming Mediocrity

And now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he who became the great Shepherd of the sheep by an everlasting agreement between God and you, signed with his blood, produce in you through the power of Christ all that is pleasing to him. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen. – Hebrews 13:20-21 (TLB)

Are you living a life of mediocrity? Perhaps you’d love to make a difference in the world but you’ve reasoned that the timing isn’t right or you just don’t have what it takes. Even still, you can’t seem to peel yourself away from the warm fuzzy feeling that surrounds familiarity. Perhaps you envy someone who is truly making a difference but reason that you’re not capable of creating such an impact because God hasn’t blessed you with an extra measure of faith and creativity as He did that individual.

Truth be told, every individual was put on this earth to accomplish something very specific and dynamic for the Lord. The major requirement is a willing spirit. We must come to a place where we say, “Yes Lord, no matter what”! It shouldn’t be conditional such as, “Yes Lord, only if it makes sense” or “Yes Lord, as long as it doesn’t cause me discomfort”.

Nevertheless, having a profound impact in the world doesn’t require a supernatural person but it does require believing in the ability of a supernatural God. It requires a belief that despite your shortcomings, God is willing and able to accomplish profound things in you and through you. It requires an acceptance that as an individual, you’re not the center of the universe but you are a key piece to an overall puzzle created to point mankind to the Him and glorify Him in the process.

Prayer

Lord, thanks for using me as I am, not requiring perfection before I can be used but requiring a willing spirit. I realize that it will typically not make perfect sense and there will be a cost involved but even still, I’ve been created to serve. Thus, for that reason, I choose to step out of the boat into unchartered waters in order to fulfill my calling and build a closer relationship with You in the process.

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Is Your Life a Success Story?

When David’s time to die approached, he charged his son Solomon, saying, “I’m about to go the way of all the earth, but you—be strong; show what you’re made of! Do what God tells you. Walk in the paths he shows you: Follow the life-map absolutely, keep an eye out for the signposts, his course for life set out in the revelation to Moses; then you’ll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go. Then God will confirm what he promised me when he said, ‘If your sons watch their step, staying true to me heart and soul, you’ll always have a successor on Israel’s throne.’ – 1 Kings 2:1-4 (MSG)

Is your life a success story? Perhaps you are discouraged and depressed because you don’t feel that you are as far along as you had hoped. You may have created a list of milestones that you wanted to reach by a specific age, only to find that you’ve accomplished very few. Perhaps life circumstances have caused the set back.

As you are analyzing your life accomplishments, it is important to refrain from comparing yourself to others. Although on the exterior they may appear to be a success, you have no idea what they had to go through to get to that point. Also, it may just very well be their season to flourish. Even still, your day will certainly come if you don’t give up.

Nevertheless, success has less to do with reaching certain milestones as much as it has to do with the journey itself. Success is putting one foot in front of the other in the right direction each and every day. Success is the compilation of those days as you press forward, despite the struggle. Success is not perfection but unwavering devotion to that which you have been tailor-made to accomplish during your journey on this earth.

Prayer

Lord, thanks for reminding me that at this exact moment, my life is a success story! I’m grateful that it’s not solely about reaching a pinnacle point but more about my day in and day out journey as I pay heed to Your instruction and carry out my purpose for existence.

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Are You Building Someone Else’s Dream?

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

Do you ever examine your life and wonder how you got to this point on your journey in this life? Perhaps it feels as though you are entrapped in building someone else’s dream. It may involve your spouse, a family member, boss or even a friend. In this, there is obviously one problem, they’re the one who is reaping the benefits and you’re merely contributing to their gain.

Nevertheless, this scenario typically occurs as a result of unhealthy boundaries on the part of everyone who is involved. The one who’s contributing to the erection of someone else’s dream, typically does so in pursuit of approval and acceptance. The one whose empire is being erected, more times than not, uses manipulation and control to create an illusion of a debt that can never be repaid. Hence, just when you feel as though you’ve served them well, they demand more of your time and attention.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is time to go back to the drawing board with God. There is one primary thing to consider. What is the specific assignment that God is calling you to fulfill? Refrain from allowing your motive to be masked as a desire to fulfill of a good deed. Furthermore, if your daily routine is contrary to what God is calling you to do, it is imperative to come to the realization that this is outright disobedience and it’s time to return God to His rightful place as Lord over your life and schedule.

Prayer

Lord, I come before Your throne with thanksgiving for the reminder that I have been given a unique personalized assignment to fulfill while I’m on this earth. Show me where I’ve allowed a breach in the boundaries that You’ve prompted me to create. Give me the courage to reinstate those boundaries, regardless of the resistance that I might face. May my life pursuit be to hear, “well done good and faithful servant”, as I finish my race on this earth.

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Allowing the Sinful Nature to be the Boss of You?

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7:15-25 (NLT)

Have you recently experienced a negative consequence for your actions? Perhaps you are still flirting with a behavior that’s not exactly beneficial for you or those around you. It may be something that seems as insignificant as not giving your body the proper care it needs or engaging in a careless act that could prove to be harmful to you or others. Perhaps you’ve ignored the little convicting voice so much so that you no longer view it as being wrong.

Unfortunately, many of us require a negative consequence to get our attention. At which point, the way we respond to the consequence is extremely important. It is imperative that we take ownership of our actions, repent and course correct immediately. We want to refrain from blaming God for allowing the consequence to befall us or ignore the sewing and reaping principle by responding as a mere victim of circumstance.

Fortunately, God loves us enough to periodically administer and or allow consequences to barge into our lives and stop us in our tracks. It may seem painful at the time but even still, He gives His stamp of approval because He knows it is essential for our growth. Otherwise, the sin nature that battles against our spirit would lead us down a self-destructive path or a path that destroys our connection with people and the things around us.

Prayer

Lord, thank You for dying on the cross so that the sin nature of my flesh could be crucified. Thank You for allowing me to experience consequences along my journey in this life so that my flesh will align with the Holy Spirit that you left as a deposit to dwell and guide within me.

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Protective Orders

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Are you waiting on God to deliver you from your current circumstance? Perhaps it feels as though He has placed a restraining order on your life and you’re bound to your present struggle. You may even feel a bit claustrophobic, as though this situation has you boxed in tightly on all sides.

One thing is certain, God’s timetable and ours is typically light years apart, so to speak. Moving ahead of God’s timetable would essentially place us in a danger zone. As we walk outside of His perfect will, there is a possibility that we’ll subject ourselves to issues that we otherwise would not have had to experience.

Rest assured, if God has you boxed in, this is the best place for the time being. It is actually a protective order that He’s placed over your life as He prepares you and everything around you to be conducive as He moves you into the new season. It is imperative that you hold tightly to God’s promises and trust Him through the journey.

Prayer

Lord, despite the stress and strain that I’m experiencing, thank You for keeping me from moving ahead prematurely. Thanks for Your perfect timetable and ability to change my situation as You see fit.

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