Keep smiling!

The Lord’s smile is wide and bright. He is always smiling. He is always rejoicing and His joy is out of this world. Jesus smiles at everyone. He doesn’t frown and He doesn’t hate anyone. He is the King of love and the King of joy. We need to see Him that way. We need to see Him for who He is. His smile is healing and powerful. Jesus smiles. Yes, He does, friend. Today I want to reinforce the truth that we have a joyful God who wants us to spread His love and His joy. He is looking for people who will let His smile shine through. He wants to smile through you and me. He wants to touch the world with His smile. He desires for everyone to be impacted by His love and you and I can be major contributors to this distribution of love. We ought to keep that spiritual image of our smiling God. Too many people have been introduced to a God who punishes and who segregates. Too many words have been twisted and false doctrines and ideas have been formed despite the reality that Jesus is love. God is smiling today. God is smiling this very minute and someone needs His smile. Someone is looking for His love. Someone could be saved by His smile. We can be the vessels of His love and we can give Jesus a face so the world can see His truth. Let’s be the faces of the Lord. Let’s be the smiles that heal this hurting world.

First it is important that we learn that the Lord smiles at us. It is such a reassuring thought. It is a comforting truth that we should carry in our hearts. He is constantly smiling and inviting us into His joyful realm. When we are down, He smiles to bring us back to joy. When we are happy, He smiles and joins in our happiness. God smiles and everything changes. I have had many instances when I was a bit discouraged and during prayer I saw the Lord’s smile. I didn’t literally see His face but He showed me He was smiling by comforting me and giving me a major dose of hope. His smile is contagious. His smile is very special. His smile spells out love. His smile can change our moods and our days just like that. God doesn’t intend for any of us to be sad but life happens and circumstances can steal our smiles. However, for every stolen smile, there is a smile from Heaven that can make us forget the pain and suffering. Like the Bible says, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face” and God’s heart is definitely glad and His face is cheerful. Remember that He is smiling at you now because He loves you and rejoices over you all the time. There is nothing you can do that will make God stop loving you and smiling at you.

You probably know people who can use a smile today. You probably know people who are distraught and discouraged. They need the Lord’s smile. They need the power of His smile and you can help spread His cheer and bring peace back into those people’s lives. Keep smiling, friend! Keep embracing the Lord’s love and joy and keep spreading the peace. Your smile is crucial because it can make someone’s day. It is significant because it represents Jesus and it can be the only Jesus some people will ever know. Your smile matters. The Lord in you matters and people are longing to meet Him. Introduce Jesus to the world through your smile and through your positive disposition. There is Someone sacred and unique behind your smile. There is Jesus and He will show you what to do to assist someone who needs His smile. You can give hope. You can demonstrate that there is always a way and that Jesus is life. Don’t underestimate your smile. Let Jesus smile through you. Let His love flow through you. He is smiling at you so you can smile at others and heal them with His love. Keep smiling! May God bless you and protect you and remember that He will always love you!

Suggested reading: Zephaniah 3:17; Proverbs 15:13-14; 1 John 3:1

God will turn it around

One thing I know about God and I often mention is that He is the God of the impossible. He can do all things and He can change anything and everything. I am developing my faith in that truth and I am enjoying the journey. I have my opportunities to see God doing the impossible in my life and I have many opportunities to succumb to doubt and live in fear. God is bigger than doubt and fear and He is teaching me how to conquer them and how to turn those negative opportunities into great occasions when I can see His glory manifested. The God of the impossible can’t be stopped. My God can’t be stopped. My mind puts up walls at times but my faith is getting stronger and it tears down the walls that try to separate me from the God of the impossible. When I read my Bible and I go over accounts of God’s mercy and grace and accounts of His miracles, I am in awe. The God of the Bible is the same God that is in me and that lives with me today. God lives with me. That is how I see it and that is how I live my life. I have to let Him be completely in control and impress my life with His power to do the impossible. I have ways to go but I thank God that I am on my way. I remember a time when I was in a pinch and I didn’t know what to do. Everything became very dark very quickly and I couldn’t see the sun so to speak. I couldn’t see the Son. I needed help. I needed comfort. It was one of those impossible situations and I had no idea how I was going to get out of it. Then the Lord said He would turn it around. He said to my heart, “Do not worry. I’ve got this. I am going to turn your situation around.”

My first reaction was that I was daydreaming and I was hearing what I wanted to hear. However, those words were etched into my heart and I couldn’t get away from them. The Holy Spirit, our great counselor, has a way of speaking hope and encouragement into our hearts and if we take Him seriously, He seriously does what He says He will do. “Do not worry,” He said. Isn’t it one of the most beautiful things you can hear when you are panicking? It helps me tremendously. If the God of the universe tells me not to worry, I better not worry because He is in charge and He can do all things. The One who parted the seas and changed water into wine can definitely change my trial into triumph. I spent some time in prayer. I spent some time meditating on His words so I could get the fullness of what He was implying. He was implying that even though things didn’t look good, there was no reason to worry because He will make things good again. Not only can He improve our situations but He can make them even better. I was all ears. I was ready to pay attention to His directions and so I thanked Him for taking care of my circumstances.

God did turn it around. He came out of nowhere with a blessing out of this world. At least that is how it felt. I had not expected Him to rescue me the way He did but He took care of me and He replaced my fear with peace. He covered me with His love and He gave me strength. When things are rough, we lose strength, energy and drive. God turned my situation around and He gave me more than enough. My budget had been tight but I had God and I had faith and He provided amazingly. This was a long time ago but I will never forget how He came through for me. He always knows what to do and how to blow my mind. If you are going through financial difficulties, if you are in a pinch, if you don’t know what to do anymore, pray to the God who can turn it around. He will do it. He will change things for you. Keep on praying. Don’t lose hope! Something great will happen. God will surprise you and give you a blessing that will outweigh the pain that I have been through. He is going to turn your mourning into dancing and He will clothe you with gladness. The Lord is smiling at you now. He is not worried about your situation. He knows how to handle it and what to do to make you be at peace again. Rejoice! Peace is coming and joy is going to come bursting in. May God bless you and protect you and remember that He will always love you!

Suggested reading: Psalm 30:11; Isaiah 25:8;Ephesians 3:20

God’s presence can be your biggest weapon

God’s presence can be your biggest weapon. First of all I have to say that God’s presence is always there whether we know it or not. Whether we feel it or not, He is there. Sometimes we experience Him more than other times. Sometimes His presence is so strong that it is tangible. It changes the atmosphere and it changes us. I have been in church services where the presence of the Lord was so strong that you could feel it and it was more real than the chair I was sitting on. It felt like God had entered the church and sat among the congregation. That powerful presence comes when faith is in the house, our hearts are open and praise is our offering. I have also experienced the presence and the glory of the Lord in my own house. We don’t need a church to encounter God. I found that out in the most amazing way. I remember praising the Lord and worshipping in the comfort of my dorm room in college. What made the presence manifest was the desire to see Him lifted up and an open invitation through my heart. I wanted to adore Him and please Him. It didn’t happen right away but after doing it for a few days in a row, I saw the glory. I felt the presence and I was filled with so much peace and so much joy that I couldn’t believe it was real. It all stayed with me and every morning I would check and see if it was still there and it was. What I had done was create an environment where the Spirit of Jesus could move freely and where His praises were stronger than the negativity of the world.

I saturated myself with the presence of the Lord by praising Him every morning and every night and having prayer sessions throughout the day. Jesus was all I could think of and I had discovered that I could be friends with Him and I could fellowship with Him all the time. This was the start of the journey I am still on today. I still praise Him and pray to Him every day and His presence has become something familiar, comforting and encouraging. Why is it a weapon? His presence is a weapon because it reminds me that I don’t have to face life alone. It encourages me and it builds me up. It puts Jesus in the center and it gives me a reason to worship Him even when things are not going well. Do I have days when the presence is not that obvious? Absolutely! Those days are when I need to isolate myself more and get into praise mode. I have not praised the Lord without ever reaching a higher level of faith and reverence. When you are aware of His presence, you just want to bow down before Him and exalt Him. His presence keeps us in a place of adoration and a place of openness. We can be open to receiving and to welcoming what He has to give us.

God is always present and His love for you is always the same. Next time the enemy tries to steal your joy and tries to harm your faith, remind him that God is still the same and the enemy has still lost the battle. God’s presence is the weapon you can brandish when the enemy comes. Speak about the Lord and lift up His name. Thank Him for being with you and thank Him that His presence is always around. Thank Him that you are protected and that no weapon formed against you shall prosper. Thank Him that the weapon of His presence will always work and bless you. Thank Him that every day of the week you have the weapon that can stop the devil in its tracks and you have nothing to worry about. Thank God that He inhabits your praises and every time you extol Him, the world fades away and He shows up in a great way. You are going to make it this week because the Lord won’t leave your side. You have all you need. You have Jesus. You have peace. You have love. You have joy. You have victory and all your needs are met according to the Lord’s riches. Don’t fear. Don’t worry. The Lord is your weapon and nothing will overcome you. May God bless you and protect you and remember that He will always love you!

Suggested reading: Exodus 33:14; Hebrews 13:5; James 4:8

10 nuggets of wisdom for your Saturday (Part 169)

Worry is a form of meditation but it’s meditating on the negative. Stop negative meditation. Wash it away with the Word of God. Recalibrate and meditate on the Lord

God can make you an overcomer no matter what you are facing in life. Give Him your time. Let Him be your priority. 

Our reaction reveals our position. It shows us where we stand in our faith. If we react with doubt and fear, we need to anchor ourselves more in the Lord

The victory is yours in the name of Jesus. Keep proclaiming His name over every circumstance. Jesus won it all on the cross and He is making it available to you as you stay in faith!

There is a fountain of joy from Heaven that never runs dry. Jump in it with the power of praise. Praise your way back to joy when sorrow has dried up your spirit. Praise the Lord for His joy!

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hope is the same yesterday, today and forever. Love is the same yesterday, today and forever. God’s ability to bless you is the same yesterday, today and forever. Stay encouraged by the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever!

God knows you by name and He loves hearing your name. Listen to Him calling through every page of His Word. His Word is about you. He died for you and He is calling your beautiful name today because He loves you!

God’s fire is inextinguishable. You can’t put it out. You can crush it. Get His fire inside your spirit. Get His zeal and His enthusiasm. Get close to God and His love will be burning in you all the time. 

When things get tough, go for a walk. Go on a walk with the Lord. Let Him reassure you, comfort you and encourage you. Open His Word and you will be on a walk down peaceful lane where you can get restored and you can get all the help you need!

Hope is following you. Hope is near you. Hope is in you. Don’t underestimate the hope that the Lord has put in you. It’s always around you. Sometimes you need to look deep down or look around to find it but it is there waiting for you. Attach yourself to hope in the Lord always!

Suggested reading: Hebrews 11:1; Colossians 1:27; 1 Peter 1:3

Communicate with the Holy Spirit

What would you ask Jesus if you saw Him face to face? What would you want Him to tell you if He walked into your bedroom and sat next to you? Have you ever thought about that? I used to ask these questions to myself all the time. Then I realized that He is always here. He is always around. He sent His Spirit to be with us so we could have our questions answered and so we could experience Him sitting next to us. Having a relationship with the Holy Spirit, being Holy Spirit conscious, honoring and respecting the Holy Spirit are all very important. Jesus gave us His Spirit as a gift and we can’t ignore Him or overlook Him. I overlooked the Holy Spirit for too long. I did not receive the precious gift of the Lord. I was too busy being religious and I missed out on the greatest One. Jesus didn’t send the Holy Spirit so we could have Him only when we are drowning. The Spirit will help us for sure but He is there for us so we can have a relationship with God all the time. The Holy Spirit is the link between God and us. We can’t get to know God without the Holy Spirit. We can’t get close to Jesus without the Holy Spirit. It’s time we embraced the divine gift. It’s time we acknowledged the Holy Spirit. He wants to be close to us and to be the family that He is. My prayer life, my praise life, my faith life and my spiritual life all improved when I started including the Holy Spirit. Today I want to invite you to invite the Holy Spirit into every part of your life. Talk to Him. Pray with Him. Listen to Him. Sing thanks to Him. The Holy Spirit will get you close to Jesus in a new way when you let Him be in control.

What makes a good and solid relationship? Many people would say that communication is key. If we want to have a good relationship with the Holy Spirit, we need to turn that key every day and use it to open the door to His greatness. Yes, the Holy Spirit is great! He is God. He is the Lord. He is amazing. He is our family and He is with us and in us. He was dormant in me for years because I didn’t know how to approach Him. I wasn’t sure what the proper etiquette was. I was too formal and too rigid in my thinking. I saw Him more as a distant judge and I didn’t dare to talk to Him unless I was saying one of my mundane prayers. Then He sort of burst and exploded into my life. He came and invaded my life. He showed up and gave me a new lease on life. He didn’t come alone. He came with joy, peace and love. He came with an immense smile and with a huge amount of love. I experienced Him through love. I once was told that when the Holy Spirit would be part of my everyday life, He would be there in a big way. I didn’t know what it meant until it happened. I didn’t look for Him directly. I put the key in the door and turned it. The key was communication but it had the form of praise. I got to know the Spirit better through praise and worship. I started to get up early, very early every morning to praise the Lord. The goal was to pray but it always began with praise. I would sing a few songs and get into the zone. That zone was the Jesus zone. A place where Jesus was lifted up and His presence was tangible. Praise works, friend. Praise brings the Lord unto the scene. There is no specific formula. It just has to come from the heart and to be centered around Jesus.

Praising and worshipping is how I tapped into the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, one thing that is very important to remember is that the desire to praise and pray comes from the Holy Spirit. He is the instigator. He is the originator. He puts those desires in us and when we lean on Him and go with His flow, we are in full communication with Him. Why? When we pray and praise, we offer words and adoration to the Lord. In return, He shows up and He talks to us. He has many ways of talking to us. He will use the best way that can get your attention. He wants to hear from us. He wants to hear us. He wants to be intimate with us. I often see worship and praise as an opportunity for the Spirit of Jesus to express Himself through us and to us. The Bible talks about praise hundreds of times for a reason. It is a powerful way to communicate with the Lord. I get messages when I praise and pray. I get an impartation of joy, of love, of peace. The Holy Spirit does that. When you are in communion with Him, you receive parts of Him. He won’t leave you empty and He won’t disappoint you. Talk and He will listen. Listen and He will talk. He will always point at Jesus. He will always encourage you to be the best worshipper you can be, the best Jesus lover you can be and the best person you can be in Jesus. Develop that relationship and get to know Him. He is more than incredible. He is miraculous and loving. Communicate with the Holy Spirit every day. It will make your life so much better!

Suggested reading: John 14:16; Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 3:17

It’s a new day

God’s mercies are new every day. I love that! Today is a new day, friend! Hope for the best. Hope for God’s best. Great things can happen today. Leave yesterday behind and focus on what the Lord is doing in your life today. Know that He is blessing you all the time and when you let your faith take control, His blessings get out of control. You are going to experience so much more peace than you have before. Trust that His peace is part of this new today. His new mercies come with a new set of joy, peace, love and more. All these amazing things are coming today. Have faith that they belong to you and you will see what Jesus does for you. New day, same God. New opportunities, same God. New mercies, same God. What God did yesterday, He can do today and in an even bigger way. What the devil stole yesterday can be restored today. Anything can happen in the name of Jesus. There is a new breakthrough on the way. Don’t let your mind tell you that things will never get better. Today is the day you can see how great the Lord is and you can rejoice over Him because He created today for you. This day will not go by without you being blessed. Embrace the newness and embrace the goodness of God. It’s a new day and you are going to have new experiences in the name of the Lord and you are going to have an awareness of God in your life. Don’t focus on what happened in the past. Look at what today is bringing into your life. It is good and amazing and it is coming from the Lord. Today is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it!

 Today there is a reason to rejoice. Not only is it a new day and something great could happen but it is also a day that the Lord made. He makes every day. Good things can happen during the day He made. Now, the enemy will inject some of his venom during the day to try and spoil it for you but don’t let yourself be troubled. God is by your side today and He is in charge. At the start of the day, show the Lord you believe He is in charge. Declare Him over your life. Declare Him over your day. Denounce the lies of the enemy and proclaim the truth of the Lord. The truth is that you are blessed. The truth is that Jesus is your Savior and nothing can take that away from you. Today is the Lord’s day and you are the blessed recipient of that day. God is putting things together just for you and they are wonderful things. Today you are entitled to the best the Lord has to offer. Develop that mentality. Rewire your mind with the Word of God and learn that the Lord wants you to be blessed. Discover how His new mercies are available for you every single day. It’s a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance with the Lord. Don’t get discouraged if yesterday wasn’t great. Today is going to make up for the sadness of yesterday. Seize the day by seizing the truth of the Gospel. Jesus is your Lord and He provided for today when He died on the cross and came back from the dead. The power of His resurrection is in every hour of today!

Get on the boat of gladness and make it a point to stay positive all day. Celebrate the Lord Thank Him for this incredible day. Accept His gladness and remain in the power of His joy. Keep your head up. Remember that God has made a way and His way is still in front of you. The obstacles and the hurdles of yesterday are going to get out of the way. God has a path to His blessings and that is where you are going to walk today. You are going to stay on His path and walk with confidence knowing that God has a plan for you and it is out of this world. Today is a new day and you are being touched by the Holy Spirit again. His fresh fire is coming upon you as you stay in faith. He is filling you with His presence so you can make the most of today. Thank God for today. I am glad and excited for you because today anything good can happen to you. Keep your hopes up and expect the best in Jesus’ name. New mercies will give you what you need and more. God is planning a day to remember. Remember to thank Him and to stay grateful. Enjoy this new day! God will be with you all the way!

Suggested reading: Psalm 118:24; Luke 6:36; Hebrews 4:16

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Why is it that we act like He has changed and He is not in control anymore? I think that is something we should ponder until we get to the realization that He is indeed the same today. His love and His power have not faded. His compassion and His goodness are as bright as they were back when He came to earth. His desire to heal and to set people free is still alive and His ability to do that has not been altered. Jesus said that He could not perform miracles in places where people did not believe in Him. Could it be that our faith is not strong enough these days? Could it be that we have faith in a God that doesn’t measure up to the Jesus of the Bible? Could it be that we have considered Him a God of the past and today we think we have to fend for ourselves? There could be many different reasons but there is one thing for sure. All the reasons that we have nurtured and that have kept us from seeing Jesus as He truly is can’t change the truth. The truth will set us free and the truth is that Jesus will never ever change and that truth will set us free when we accept it and embrace it. It will set us free from our boundaries and from the bubble where the world is powerful and Jesus is small. I used to have a small Jesus. My problems were mountains compared to Him and the world seemed very overwhelming. My small Jesus couldn’t do much. He was good and loving but He would disappear as soon as difficulties would show up. I had the wrong Jesus. He wasn’t the Jesus of the Bible. He was the Jesus of my own creation. He was the result of my own thoughts, my own fears and my own apprehension. He was based on what people said about Him and not on what the Word of God said about Him. Never get second hand information about the Lord. You will end up with a modified version of the Lord almighty.

Today I want to reiterate the truth that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. That verse of the Bible, that declaration of truth is loaded with hope and with power. It is a verse that I suggest you meditate on along with verses that talk about what Jesus is like. Read about His grace and mercy. Read about His miracles. Read about the power of His love. Read about the cross. Read about the resurrection. Read about His power of forgiveness. Read about His power of redemption. Read about His Spirit. Read about the faith He inspires. Read about His ability to do the impossible. Read about His joy and His peace. Read about His power to set the captives free. Read about how He conquered the world. Read about what He has to say about you. Read about how much He adores you. Read about Jesus. Pray about what you read. Trust and believe what you read. Let your vision of Him be bigger than your fears and stronger than your doubts. Read about Jesus with your mind and with your heart. Get closer to Him. Not just in your head but let your spirit draw near to Him. Develop a longing heart. A heart that beats just for Him and that can’t wait to spend time with Him every day. Get a clearer picture of who Jesus is. Your faith in Him will move mountains just like it is supposed to do. Jesus once said that if we had faith in Him, our faith would move mountains. That will always be the case. Stir yourself up. Jesus is the same!

Can the miracles that are reported in the Bible happen today? I believe it wholeheartedly. We are also told that bigger miracles can take place for those who believe in Him. Push the limitations of your mind. Grow your faith. The God of miracles is here today. Revive Him in your heart. Welcome Him into your life. God can only be as big to you as you allow Him to be. It is your faith that gives Him the power to intervene in your life. He can do anything and He can perform miracles. Your trials and tribulations today are not too big for Jesus. Follow Him like the people who followed Him wherever He went. Touch His garment with your faith. Reach out and touch Him. Declare that one touch is enough. That touch is your faith stretched out. Be more than the people who followed Him for a short while. Be a disciple. Be one of those who would not leave His side and who worshipped Him. He is the same, friend. You are following the Savior of the universe. Remind your problems and your mind that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. You don’t have to worry about anything. Jesus is by your side!

Suggested reading: Malachi 13:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17

The best way to interrupt your day

As I was praying yesterday I spent some time meditating on prayer. I thought about the importance of prayer because it has been a strong recurring theme lately. The Lord is showing me how crucial our prayer life is. Before I had a prayer life, I have to say that life was not easy. Life is still challenging but my prayer life impacts every difficulty I encounter and it makes things so much better. A prayer life is a life that revolves around prayer. It is a life where your schedule is built around God. You don’t squeeze God in. You make Him the focus of the day so everything else has to align with your commitment to the Lord. To me, prayer is more than words uttered to God. There is a lot of praise and worship going on during my prayer time and gratitude is a big part of it as well. I also listen to God. Sometimes my prayers are all about listening. I quiet my mind and I come before the Lord ready to receive. I have dedicated times when I am in prayer but I most recently learned about interrupting my day with prayer. I puncture the day with prayer time and it is the best thing ever!

I call those daily interruptions the best part of my day. My day used to be about my day meaning that the busyness of the day was my priority. My schedule and my agenda dominated my thinking and played a major role in my day more than God. Now I interrupt the busyness of the day with God. He is the constant thread throughout the day and I make that thread more apparent by letting my love for God stand out several times a day. The interruptions were planned at first but now they are more spontaneous. I have my praise breaks, my prayer times and my “joy injections”. They are all injections. We need to inject Jesus into our days as often as possible. He makes the day more enjoyable and He brings so much peace and joy. Praying to Him all day is the best habit I have ever developed because it increases my faith. It stops me from getting anxious and it neutralizes stress when it tries to control me. Prayer is the perfect ingredient for a great day with God. It is the interruption you need because it won’t let you sink into a hole of fear and distress.

The daily interruptions are a powerful way to stay connected with God. You can hear from Him and receive wisdom throughout the day. They are what you need to maintain a healthy relationship with the Lord. They can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more. The more you have them, the more you will understand how they work because every time you take the time to pray you take the time to be in sync with the Holy Spirit. He will guide you and encourage you. He will tell when to take a praise break and when to dive into a prayer session. With time and practice it will become second nature and you will be able to pray without ceasing like the Bible says. God deserves most of our attention and a few sessions a day is something we can do and it is worth it. The spiritual boost you will gain from the daily “God interruptions” is going to change you on the inside and bless you on the outside. Have daily interruptions for God. Let your day be all about Him.

Suggested reading: Psalm 139:17-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Ephesians 1:18

God has it all figured out

I scheduled my covid vaccine earlier this week like many other educators. I couldn’t get an appointment until later in the month. Then last night I saw that some earlier appointments had opened up. I canceled mine and tried to get one of the earlier ones. I tried for over an hour and I couldn’t get anything even though there seemed to be open slots online. I was frustrated to say the least but I didn’t want to go to bed feeling that way. I know how bad it is for my spirit and for my head. I even thought I wouldn’t be able to pray properly. Then I got into prayer mode and the Lord took over. It was as if He were taking my hand and telling me to join Him in His joy and in His peace. You know how it is when you are frustrated and angry and you don’t want to be around happy and fun people. It is different with the Lord. When I feel down, I look up and all I see is His love and it makes me want to touch Him. I got closer to Him and I let go. I let myself go and I let myself be touched by what He had to offer. The website had offered me grief and frustration but the Lord was about to replace it with gladness and serenity. He did just that. He traded my frustration for His goodness. I embraced His goodness and even though it was late, I stayed in prayer for a while. What filled me with gladness was that He told my heart not to worry and that He had a plan. He said He had it all figured out. Those words went right from my spiritual ears to my heart. It is what I needed to hear and it gave me tremendous peace. The Lord always has it all figured out. He is not clueless and He is not at a loss for a solution. He has always had the best solutions to our worst problems.

Not being able to get a covid vaccine appointment wasn’t a big problem. It was more of a nuisance than anything else and it bothered me. However, after my gladness session with the Lord, I found myself at peace and full of what I call “faith energy.” Faith energy is like a burst of faith that comes through at times. It is a boost and a step forward in the right direction on the faith continuum. God knew what I needed and He had it all figured out. That is what helped my faith. Knowing that He is in control was enough for me. My faith was blasting praises in my head and my heart was warm and glad. God has that effect on us. He makes us feel warm on the inside and His gladness in us shows on the outside. I could have spent the night trying to come up with a plan. All He wanted me to do was to trust Him. When I got up, I decided to call the vaccine center and see if they could help me. By that time there were absolutely no appointments available online. Calling sounded like a desperate move that was not going to lead anywhere but when you know God has it figured out, you go with His flow. I called at 7 am and I was on hold for 40 minutes when someone picked up. I explained my situation and the lady said she would try to see what she could do. She found a time slot for me for tomorrow Friday with the vaccine I was hoping to get. Come to find out the first appointment I had and canceled was another vaccine. God had it all figured out. What seemed like a (small) nightmare for an hour or so turned out to be an opportunity for the Lord to show me what He does best.

God will always show us that He has everything under control when we trust Him. We can choose to panic and lose hope or we can stick with God and follow His lead. That is what He wants us to do. Follow Him and not question Him. Every time we doubt or we give in to fear, we question God. We question His ability to help us and to save us. He never fails. He can’t fail us. He knows everything from A to Z and He doesn’t miss any letter in between. If you are trying to figure out the next steps in your life, take a step back and let the Lord lead you. Take a step back and give Him a chance to reveal His plan to you. His plan is to prosper you and to bless you. He won’t let your circumstances destroy you. He will destroy them for you. He knows how to get you out of the biggest mess and how to help in any situation you might find yourself in. God has it all figured out. Don’t worry. His plans are always the best!

Suggested reading: Exodus 15:2; Nehemiah 8:10; Luke 15:25-26

When you walk in the valley of the shadow of death

When you walk down the valley of death, nothing seems to bring you joy. There seems to be no hope on the horizon and you are in a mental prison where negative thoughts are criminal and positive thoughts are forbidden. We all walk through the valley of the shadow of death at some point. We have short or long trips down that valley. It is a place of despair and of sadness. The Lord tells us that when we are down in the valley, we shouldn’t be afraid and we shouldn’t be intimidated. Why? Because He is with us in the valley. David wrote about the dreadful valley in Psalm 23 and declared that even when he was the valley, he feared no evil. He had no fear when he was down there because he knew who his God was. He had total faith in God’s ability to rescue him and to protect him. You and I have the same God David had by his side in the valley of death. Our God is our refuge and our shelter. We could be in the deepest valley of death but nothing will separate us from God’s love. We could be going through the most excruciating time but the pain and the suffering are not too big for our God. When we go through the valley of the shadow of death, we need to turn to God. He might appear to be missing in action but that is just a spiritual optical illusion. God has not left but the mental prison has taken over and we ought to get out of there. Today I want to encourage you to turn to God and to trust Him in the deep valleys of death. Learn to rely on His love and to declare just like David that you will fear no evil because you know who your God is.

Even though you might be walking through the darkest valleys, you have nothing to fear because the Lord your Shepherd is there to assist you and to bless you. How does His company impact the valley of death? You have to look at what God is like. He is love, He is joy, He is almighty and powerful and He is peace among many other amazing things. When you are in the valley, He can give you love, peace, joy, faith, patience, self-control, long suffering, protection and hope. What you need to do is tap into the power of the Holy Spirit. That power is available when you pray. Prayer brings the Lord into the scene. Prayer opens a realm of possibilities. Prayer is made possible by the Holy Spirit. Every time you feel like praying or you are led to pray, it is because of the nudge from the Holy Spirit. It could appear to be a simple act or a natural thing but it is coming from the Holy Spirit. As a believer, you have the Holy Spirit in you. He is your biggest ally and your biggest strength. He is your connection to God and you should maximize that connection. Pray in the valley and speak. Pray in the valley and listen to the Lord. Speak and declare that you are with the Lord in the valley. Speak over your circumstances in the valley. Walk around the valley with confidence trusting that your Shepherd is there with you and that His rod and His staff comfort you like David said. When I first read about the Lord’s rod and staff, I had to look up those two words.

 A shepherd has a rod and staff. A rod is a strong stick used to ward off wild animals and to protect the sheep. Here the rod symbolizes the strength and the protection of God. The staff is a long stick with a hook on it that allows the shepherd to save a sheep if it has fallen in a hole. The staff also symbolizes God’s protection and His love and care for us as well as His power to rescue us. God has a rod and a staff with Him when he is walking in the valley by your side. You have nothing to fear in the valley. Call on the Lord for help. Thank Him for His rod and His staff. Know that He will use them to get you out of the valley. You can walk in faith with your eyes fixed on the Lord. It is important that you can see the Lord when you are in the valley. If He is nowhere to be seen, change your focus. Sing to Him. Exalt Him. Praise yourself back to His presence. He doesn’t go anywhere but like I mentioned before, your mind takes you away from Him and hides Him from you. Renew your mind with singing and with the Word of God. You should always be able to see the Lord so to speak whether you are in the valley or not. I have long days when I am so busy that I can’t see the Lord. Sometimes I lose sight of Him just a few hours into my day. I am learning that as long as I can get back to Him quickly I am ok. A prayer or a few words of gratitude bring me back to Him. Find what helps you be in the presence of the Lord as often as possible. The Lord is with you today and every day. Valley or no valley He is there for you and with you. Don’t lose hope. Stay encouraged, friend!

Suggested reading: Psalm 23; Psalm 91; Acts 18:9-10