Respond to life with love

I can see how hardships can make people bitter toward life and toward other people. A tough life usually hardens the heart. I admire those who despite trials and suffering can still love and be kind to anyone. Keeping a good and positive attitude toward life is commendable. I have met people in the church who are great role models of love. They love others all the time. They probably have “off days” but I have never seen them on those more negative days. Then there are people who don’t believe in God but whose love is massive. They love unconditionally and they can teach anyone that love is the best way to live. Their love is exemplary and they fight for love. I thank the Lord for love and I am so grateful for the hearts of those who always stand for love no matter what is going on in their lives. As followers of Christ, we have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and love is the first fruit. At least love should be the first fruit but oftentimes it is not. Faith, peace and joy are regarded as crucial fruit and love comes after. However, without love the rest of the fruit doesn’t make sense. It is like having fruit that has no seed in it, not core, no substance and no taste. It is like an empty vessel whose exterior looks solid but it is missing the most important content. God is love and He desires for us to have love more than anything else. We pursue treasures and wealth of the earth when God wants us to pursue love first. We pray for financial blessings and worldly success because after all we live in this world, but the Lord tells us to seek love and to walk in love. Seek first the kingdom of God means seek love. Seek God and God is love. If only our most repeated prayers were about having more love, we would see a change in this world. We would see an army of soldiers  whose love is the most powerful weapon they own and whose mission is to eradicate hate and division. Division is what the enemy wants. He wants us to be separated from God and separated from other people because the first commandment is to love God and love others like ourselves. The enemy also works hard at making us not love ourselves. He knows that low-self esteem leads to disliking others and it is a hurdle on the track of walking in love. Today I want to encourage you to seek love first. I want to encourage you to make love your goal in life and to focus on the King of love so you can see His kingdom manifested here on earth.

 

The unrest in this country and in cities across the globe is devastating. It looks like we are heading toward a war. A political and religious war. Injustice and discrimination have taken a toll on people and violence is rampant. People’s hearts have been violated and anger is growing all over the place. Love has taken a backseat and people’s number one agenda items are anything but love. I am not taking sides and I don’t want to make this political but what I know is that the Lord calls us to walk in love and to react to life with love. There is a need to start anything we do with love and this implies nurturing love and making it our priority. We might have to rewrite the order of our spiritual harvest. If we are collecting the fruit of peace and the fruit of joy but we are neglecting the fruit of love, it’s time we start looking for the bigger fruit. The Spirit of God put love in our hearts. His love needs to be activated and for some of us this requires work. Disliking others is very easy and simple but it doesn’t have to be our default setting. As a matter of fact, we ought to reset our hearts and let God invade the space in our spirits. If love is not what we allow to grow in our hearts guess what’s going to take its place. Love just like faith needs to be exercised. It should be seen as a muscle and it should be developed over time. We can always love more just like we could always have more faith. If love is more important than faith, and it is, love is a bigger seed. Faith and love work together. Let’s take our mustard seed of faith and the seed of love and give the Spirit of God a chance to grow a tree of love in us. That fruit of love can grow and grow and reach great proportions. It is that tree of love that can uproot negativity and hate.

 

We can choose how we react to life and reacting with love is key. It is reacting to life the way Jesus does. He is love 24/7 and He knows nothing but love. His love is unconditional and it can conquer anything. His love can go into the valleys of hate and leave the land filled with peace and hope. His love is the best response to the worst expressions of hate. Today we ought to walk in love even more because hatred has gained momentum and it is moving across the world at a fast pace. Let’s stop hate in its tracks and put our foot down by showing love. Let’s refuse to succumb to discrimination, hate and segregation. Let’s replace the jars of hate with vessels of love. Let’s be fruitful and give love from the heart as the Holy Spirit directs us. Let’s fall in love with love again and give it our best shot. Let’s make love contagious again. Let’s make love the language that people long to learn again. Let’s love for no reason. Let’s love with no motives other than to love others like Jesus said we should. Let’s resist the temptation to get angry and mad. Let’s give in to God. Let’s give life the God response and not the hate response. You and I can make an impact and we can make love famous (again). My prayer is that we reach the hearts of those who have gone cold and that we can warm them up with showers of love. Let’s treat life with love and we will create a chain reaction where people will pass love around and squash hatred. Let’s walk in love!

Suggested reading: 1 Corinthians 16:14; 1 John 4:8; 1 Peter 4:8

What happens when you are filled with God’s Word?

Yesterday I woke up hearing “The battle is still going on but Jesus won the war.” I heard it deep down inside over and over again. I also heard “Jesus is more than enough and His grace is sufficient.” Out of the abundance of the heart comes revelation. If our hearts are filled with doubt and doctrines of the world, those negative things will speak to us first thing in the morning. If we fill our hearts with God’s hope and His Word, God will speak to us first thing in the morning. I used to be a huge fan of music. I listened to different types of music including Christian music but it wasn’t the main genre I gravitated toward. What spoke to me first thing in the morning were lyrics of songs that depressed me or that gave me a false sense of peace. I knew those words too well and they made up the frame of my thinking to the point where I could barely get out of that negative structure. I knew about Jesus’ victory but defeat is all my heart could see. I couldn’t understand why I was so down and why things always went astray even though I believed in the Lord. 

 

My problem was that I believed in the world more. My cup was full but it was mostly filled with the wrong water. I was thirsty for spirituality but I kept drinking the negativity. I could say that my cup was overflowing with the wrong content. God should be our number one. That is how it works. That is how we win the battles. That is how we can thrive as believers. That is how we are intended to be. Today I want to encourage you to fill up your cup with the Lord. Let Him fill you up to the brim. Let Him give you what you need. Replace the world with the Lord. Your heart will speak to you  and say exactly what you need to hear at the right time. Let God be the overflow in your life. Cut off the junk that is making you drown on the inside.

 

I get so encouraged when I hear uplifting messages from the Spirit of God out of nowhere. Those messages seem to hit home even more first thing in the morning because they set the tone for the day. I listen to them and I repeat them to myself through the day. When Jesus says that His grace is sufficient for us, He means it. He means that we have nothing to be afraid of, we have nothing to fear because He is more than enough for us. Our problems could seem to be a lot but Jesus is much more than those problems. Let’s not be intimidated by how big our trials are. Jesus already judged and assessed the situation and He says “I can handle this more than easily. I’ve got it. Nothing is too hard for Me.” Those are words that touch your heart and pierce your soul. You feel comforted, protected and strong when you hear them. You need to hear them and you can get to that point of hearing them all the time when you put the right words in front of you. Put the words of the Lord in front of you as much as you can. Read His Word. Pray His Word. Sing His Word. You need to get filled up and you need to stay full of Him. Ask the Lord to saturate you with His presence. Ignite the process by giving Him first place.

 

When discouragement comes, we have two choices; we can give in to it or we can fight it. I suggest fighting it every time. Fight it with the weapon of praise and fight it with the word of your testimony. Let that word be a word of how great your God is. Don’t let the negativity get to you by making you say all the wrong things about your situation. You see, misery loves company and when you start having self-pity parties, you end up with a host of negative agents that keep you in a negative cycle. When negativity comes at you, fight back with positivity. It may sound simple but it does wonders. There is positivity in you. The Lord is in you and He is the most positive One there is. Dig deep inside of you and extract the Lord’s positivity. The more you do it, the more it will become a reflex. Those positive reflexes can save you every time. They are habits that we ought to develop. Watch what you watch! Watch what you listen to. Watch what you allow in you. There is so much junk in the world that wants to form a pile of garbage in you that will turn you into a dumpster of sadness and defeat. The enemy will dump his worst lines into your spirit and prevent you from rising up when you fall. Don’t feed your spirit junk. Give yourself manna from Heaven. Feed your spirit the good Word of God.

 

I like to thank Jesus for the Holy Spirit. I thank Him every single day. Isn’t it just amazing that His Spirit dwells in us? I emphasize it and it is so real to me. It guides me and it steers my thinking in the right direction. It points me toward the ocean of hope and I ride the waves of peace every chance I get. I still have to fight the good fight of faith every day but I have an Insider who gives me all the information I need when I need it. The Holy Spirit is the Insider who knows it all and who can give us all. I rely on Him and He speaks. He reveals. He gives. He counsels. He encourages. He shows up. He shows off. He shuts down the enemy. My prayer is that you and I continue to get filled with the knowledge that the Lord is more than enough. His love is the most powerful force in the universe. We have nothing to fear and nothing to worry about. Let’s stay filled up with the wisdom of God. Let’s stay encouraged and let’s stay strong in the Lord.

Suggested reading: John 8:32; John 16:13; Ephesians 5:18

This is how I pray

Once I learned that prayers were more than requests, my prayer life changed completely. I found out that prayer was more like a ceremony. It was more like a ceremony of interaction with God. Interaction and communication are key elements when it comes to prayer. Prayer is a form of communication where both parties are engaged. It shouldn’t be a passive recitation of memorized lines that sound good but that are empty at the same time. When we get into prayer, we engage with God and He actively engages with us. Prayer exalts the Lord and puts Him at the center of our focus. It is an engaged act of adoration and surrender. God comes first when  we pray. Our request and needs come last. Why? If we put Him first everything else will be added into us. When I started to look at prayer from that angle, I started seeing things I had never seen before and I started experiencing a level of God’s impact on my life that I had never had before. Prayer is that time when God imparts His presence and changes us on the inside. Today I want to encourage you to be actively engaged with God when you pray. See prayer as more than words. It is a beautiful love letter from your heart to God’s and from His heart to yours.

 

When I say that prayer is a ceremony I am not saying that it is anything formal. I think that “formal” makes it less intimate and more complicated than it is. Prayer is time set aside to be with the Lord and to magnify Him. It’s a chance to give Him credit and to learn about Him. It’s a two-way street where we can walk to God and He walks down to us. God is the center of prayer so we should expect Him to show up. What if you don’t see Him or feel Him? He doesn’t live in our feelings. He always shows up and we know that through faith. Faith is what fuels our prayers. Faith makes it all happen. The Holy Spirit is also a main player in prayer. He gives us the desire to pray. You might not be aware of it but the Spirit of God leads you to pray. He does it subtly or He can do it in a big way.

 

When you feel an urge to pray, it’s the Holy Spirit knocking at the door of your spirit. You open the door by getting into prayer mode. What happens after that is up to you. You can continue to be led by Him or you can do your own thing. The Bible says that we should open up the gates with praise. Starting prayers with praise is what made my prayers stand out from what they used to be. It is what made me see prayer more as a ceremony or a time of adoration. Jesus should come first in our prayers and He is in our praises so entering prayer with praise is like giving Him the front seat. I spend a good part of my prayer time in praise. I glorify Him. It is a precious time. Joy comes in. Peace shows up. Praise and adoration are fun times! They make prayer time a more personal time with the Lord. I sing songs I know or songs I have made up. What matters is that I start prayer with praise. I go into prayer through the gate of bliss and joy.

 

Gratitude and thanksgiving are a natural segue during my prayer time. I thank the Lord for His kindness and His goodness. I thank Him for the people in my life. I give Him the glory for saving my life. Then I ask Him to guide me and to change me so I can be more like Him. I give Him anything and everything I am holding on that is getting in the way. I ask for forgiveness and I forgive those who have not treated me well. I also pray for them. Then I pray for my family and friends. I keep a log of people’s prayer requests and I thank the Lord for answering those requests. Now, during the whole time after praise and adoration I remain attentive because the Lord often interrupts me and gives me messages. I sit there and listen. It is quite a wonderful daily experience. I love being “interrupted” by the Lord. His voice is what I want to hear.

 

Prayer is such a personal and intimate event with the Lord. I pray that your prayer time is always the best time of the day. I pray that you get to know Jesus more than anyone in the world. I pray that you realize how powerful your relationship can be with the Lord. I pray that He floods your spirit with revelation and your heart with His love. I pray that you pray every day and that every time you get more and more in love with Jesus!

Suggested reading: Jeremiah 29:12; Psalm 102:17; Philippians 4:6

Hold on to the Chain-breaker

When I was getting ready to pray the other day, the Lord kept whispering to heart telling me about the chains that people face. He said that He was the Chain breaker and that we ought to see Him as the One who can break every chain. It reminded me of Paul and Silas when they were in jail. I can picture shackles on their ankles. I can see the chains that kept them there. How did they react to their situation? The chains were there but they had joy in their hearts. The chains didn’t sadden them. They ignored their physical chains. They spent their time praising the Lord and praying despite the chains. Why? They had other chains that made them captives of the Lord. They were close to the Lord. Their hearts had chains around them that made them prisoners of the Gospel of Jesus. Those were the best kind of chains that you can wish for. They are chains of freedom. Chains that hold you in a good place. You might be facing some harmful chains right now. The enemy probably has you bound and captive to habits, addictions or to problems. Problems can be chains that weigh us down. Those chains can appear to be unbreakable. The chains of debts can seem to be permanent. The chains of sorrow can be overwhelming. The chains of fear can be too much. The chains of loss can be devastating. Today I am here to tell you that the Lord can break any chain. There is no chain too hard for Him. He can bring you deliverance today. He can set you free from what is weighing you down and from what is devastating you. 

 

A chain is a series of metal links that fasten or secure objects. The chains the enemy uses are physical, emotional and spiritual links that keep people fastened to negative circumstances. They keep people from moving in certain areas of their lives. The enemy is there to destroy, kill and steal so these chains allow him to destroy progress, kill hope and steal areas of our lives. He takes from people and leaves them no hope of recovery. His chains are meant to hurt and to paralyze. They stop us from advancing and from walking on our path. The enemy tries to erase the path before us and he meddles with God’s promises. One of the biggest chains he puts in people’s lives is the chain of doubt and worry. He is an expert at keeping people fastened to worry and doubt. Those two evil feelings blind us and delete faith. They kill joy and they destroy the foundation of our faith. However, God can break any chains. He is not intimidated by how long someone has been bound by evil chains or by the size of the chains. There is nothing in your life that Jesus can’t fix. There is no mountain too high that the Lord can’t overcome. Your chains might be looking more like a pile of suffering and trials but that pile was taken care of on the cross. Tell that mountain of chains to move. Speak to it and condemn it in the name of Jesus. It will have to go. It can’t resist the name above all names when that name is spoken in faith.

 

I am extremely inspired by how Paul and Silas reacted when they were bound by the chains of jail. They didn’t let the chains faze them. They continued to be who they had been. This is key. If you are trying to deal with chains today, remember that the chains don’t change the child of God that you are. The Lord in you is still the same. The Holy Spirit still dwells in you. Don’t let the opposition play with your mind and make you think that you will never be set free or that you don’t have what it takes to see freedom again. Freedom dwells in you. The Chain-breaker is right there with you. Instead of holding on to what is destroying you, hold on to the Chain-breaker. Hold on to Jesus. Fix your eyes on Him and let Him break those chains. Start singing. Praise Him. Make those praises loud and clear. Praise Him with songs and praise Him with your life. Continue to honor Him. Hold on to Him by praying to Him all the time. The chains will fall. Don’t look at them. Look at hope. Look at the promises. The chains will fall in the name of Jesus. When you hold on to the Lord, the chains can’t stay. Jesus breaks all yokes and bondages. Stay encouraged. The Chain-breaker is doing what He knows best when you do what is best. Praising Him, praying and being thankful is always what’s best. See those chains come off in Jesus’ name!

Suggested reading: Galatians 5:1; 1 Peter 5:8; James 4:7

Recharge your batteries with God

One thing that has become clear through the years is how I can renew my strength in the Lord. I find that He has what it takes to change my level of energy, to give me a boost, to give me rest and to renew my spiritual and emotional make-up. He is the One who can recharge my batteries. I didn’t know that for the longest time. I thought it was all in my hands and that I had to fend for myself when it came to recharging myself. After a long day at work, after a tough season, after a period of spiritual staleness, it is hard to get filled with God again so to speak. I love the reality of being filled with God. His Spirit is in us but there is a need to be refilled with His presence. Why? We empty ourselves of Him every time we let more of the world in. It doesn’t mean that He leaves us. It means that we reduce the space we give Him in us. The less space He has, the less we will be aware of Him. Isn’t the goal to acknowledge Him in all we do? To be able to do that we have to be aware of Him. Being Holy Spirit-conscious is key. I believe it is what makes some Christians stand out. If we are filled with the Spirit all the time, it will be difficult for life to get us down and to defeat us. My message today is an encouragement to stay filled with the Spirit by recharging your spiritual batteries. I encourage you to not only be filled as much as you can but I also encourage you to rely on the Lord to do the refilling when needed. Rest in the Lord and you will soar like an eagle. Rest in the Lord and you will be well-surrounded. Rest in the Lord and you will have peace that is tangible, noticeable and indelible.

 

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength”. This verse, Isaiah 40:31, spells out what we need to do to recharge our batteries. Waiting on the Lord will get us there. Back when I first received the Holy Spirit in a big way, I had some of the most wonderful days of my life. I was just content being in the moment and enjoying the Lord. Everything was so much better because of Jesus. Every day felt like Jesus was in everything. I could see beauty, peace, joy in everything because the Holy Spirit kept pointing me toward Jesus. I remember being in college sitting at my desk and thinking “This is the best day of my life.” Every day was the best day. I was thrilled by life because the source of my life was highlighted. The Spirit of the Lord highlighted Jesus to a high degree that removed all fear. Nothing seemed impossible. Everything was an opportunity for a great lesson or a great blessing. Now, the one thing I also noticed was that when I would get tired, it wasn’t easy to stay filled with the joy of the Lord. His presence was still there but negative emotions were felt and fatigue made things look a bit darker. What helped was waiting on the Lord. I would go to my prayer closet and shut myself in there. It would take me a few minutes to settle down but then I would just focus on Jesus until His peace invaded my heart and drowned my mind. I went through that many times. It mostly happened in the evening. I would wait on the Lord. Sometimes I would play some Christian music and listen or sing along. The goal was to stay focused on Jesus. When we wait on Him, He shows up. He doesn’t come physically but we become more sensitive to Him and that is how we win the battles! It is a lot better than a physical experience. He touches our spirits and leaves us with a presence that settles all matters.

 

I believe the enemy has many evil strategies and one of them is to make us think that we don’t need to recharge our spiritual batteries. He lets people think that physical energy is the most important one. It does matter but our spirituality is primordial. We connect with God through our spirits. When we are tired, there is a disconnect and we can’t communicate with the Lord that well. That is where the enemy wants the body of Christ to be. He wants to see a major disconnection from God in the body of Christ. The physical influences the spiritual so when we are run down we should rest. When I wait on the Lord in the evening, I usually just go to bed after that. I wake up refreshed and ready to go. It has become a habit.  I did go through years of wilderness when the Lord ceased to be my priority. I have been back to where I was before and more about 7 years ago. I still see the need to rest in the Lord and get my wings again. Nothing has changed there. Jesus needed to sleep and rest and to spend time alone with His Father. Spend time with your Father away from the crowds and your energy will come back. Spend time with Him one and one and He will reveal a new way of thinking and living to you. You will become strong again. Meditate on this message and you will see doors of rejuvenation open every day. Rest in the Lord, wait on Him and your batteries will be recharged!

 

Suggested reading: Isaiah 40:31; Job 36:5; 2 Corinthians 13:9

 

The power of magnifying God

I have seasonal allergies and I am also allergic to dust mites. This means that I keep my house as clean as possible and since I am staying home all the time, I have to be even more diligent when it comes to cleaning and to keeping the environment allergen-free. It can be a struggle. I was looking up symptoms the other day online. I was trying to understand some of the physical reactions I have had. I have never had such strong symptoms but I also have never had to be home for such a long time. I went online every day for a while trying to find solutions so I could avoid the drowsiness that comes with allergy meds. My mind was fixed on the symptoms and the problem until I got into prayer and I was led to focus on the solution. We tend to spend most of our time learning about the problem when we should be learning about the solution or the cure. When problems arise, our minds can go into problem-solving mode but that mode is often crippled by fear, anxiety and despair. We magnify the problem. Researching about the symptoms and the issues attached to my allergies didn’t help. It stressed me out. Have you ever been sick or injured and looked up the sickness or the injury online? Have you ever looked up side effects for medications? Have you looked at the worst-case scenario for a situation you were in? You can go from having a cold to thinking you have cancer. You can go from feeling sad to having a broken heart. You can go from having money issues to seeing yourself going bankrupt. God always wants to put an end to that way of thinking. He is not in favor of overthinking and overindulging in misery, in what ifs and in worst case scenarios. He is the best case scenario and that is what we should focus on.

Focusing on the problem and thinking about it all the time will fester in our minds and create greater problems that don’t even exist. The more we think about them, the more real they become to us. Today I want to encourage to focus on the solution, focus on the answer, focus on the Lord. There is a need to magnify God when things are going wrong. We should always magnify Him but when we are going through trials, we need an even bigger magnifying glass. A magnifying glass is a lens with a handle, that enlarges an image. When symptoms are driving us crazy and trials are keeping us up at night, we ought to grab that magnifying glass and enlarge the Lord. God is big enough as He is. He is bigger than anything and anyone so He doesn’t need to be enlarged per say but our minds shrink Him when the going gets tough. A lot of our problems lie in our minds. A lot of the issues we face, we face in our heads. Our minds are an arena where players and fighters come in freely and wrestle constantly. Those fighters should be kicked out. They should be diminished and abolished. We can achieve the abolishment of negative thoughts through the amplification of the Lord.

The magnifying glass I am talking about is especially important. The handle we use to hold that glass matters. The Word of God is that handle. It allows us to hold the lens, our vision and perception, and to glorify the Lord. The lens is how we see the world. It is the filter for our minds. Watching the world through the lens of fear and worry will only magnify the negative. It’s that lens that produces huge images of defeat, of failure and of destruction. I used to be an expert at using that negative lens. I used to be particularly good at projecting movies with very bad endings in my mind. I think that is why I was drawn to sad movies and dramas that spoke to my fears. I changed the filter. I changed the lens. The Holy Spirit helped me. He directed me and pointed me to the Word of God constantly until it became a habit. God will assist us in trading destructive habits for uplifting habits.

Holding the right lens and magnifying the Lord must become a habit. It takes practice and dedication.  There is comfort in what we are used to so we need to go past that comfort level and get into a new comfort zone where God is magnified. The lens of the Word of God is effective when used all the time. God is bigger than my symptoms. That is for sure. God is bigger than my difficulties. That is for sure. God is bigger than the negative chatter in my mind. That is for sure. I keep grabbing that magnifying glass and it does wonders for my mind and for my spirit. Praise is another handle for my magnifying glass. It has proven to be one of the most powerful filters in my life. It makes Jesus look like a giant compared to my bad circumstances. It shows me how God truly is. He is still mighty and loving. He can still do the impossible. He can heal. He can perform miracles. Praise opens my eyes to the reality of God and closes my eyes to the negativity of the world. Magnify Jesus today and every day. Your life will never be the same when you resort to the power of magnifying the Lord!

Suggested reading: Zephaniah 3:17; Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 6:10

God’s freedom trails

Life is a journey. Every day we embark on a path that takes us to our destiny. There are many trails on this journey. Passages with things left behind. Some trails are easy to follow and others are complicated and difficult. Some trails are pleasant and they are a scenic route while others are dire straits where obstacles and trials seem to turn up at every step of the way. Throughout my life I have identified some trails that led to captivity or that were plainly trails of imprisonment. Some of those trails kept me in bondage. They didn’t take me to a place of peace but they kept me under the yoke of oppression. I am sure you can find those trails in your own life. Trails that you can’t get out of and that generate chaos and confusion along the way. The Lord doesn’t want us in bondage. He came to set us free and to give us peace. He came so we could trade captivity for freedom. The other day as I was getting into prayer, the Holy Spirit whispered the words “The freedom trails of the Lord.” He said it softly deep down on the inside. His words caught my attention. God has freedom trails for all of us. He has paths of peace and harmony that will change our lives. Today I want to encourage you to pursue the freedom trails of the Lord. Seek the Lord’s kingdom and you will find the trails that lead to freedom. Ask and you shall receive. Desire freedom and let God make your paths straight and peaceful. Don’t stay stuck in the trails of captivity. God has much better for you!

A trail is a series of signs or marks that were left behind by someone or something. The enemy leaves a trail of oppression and bondage on some paths of our lives. When we don’t know the Lord, we follow the trails of the enemy and we walk along a path strewn with deception, eternal death, condemnation and doom. Being saved doesn’t mean that there are no marks left by the enemy on our paths. The marks of eternal sin and spiritual death are removed but some negative trails still show up in our lives. We follow those signs and end up in troubling situations. The enemy knows how to present those signs in an appealing way. He puts them on our path and make them glimmer like gold. All that glitters is not gold as you know and we realize it when it’s too late. The good news is that it’s never too late with the Lord. God can reverse anything. He can take the marks left behind by the enemy and destroy them. The enemy comes to destroy us but the Lord is here to destroy the powers of the enemy in our lives. Every sign and mark of negativity on our paths is an opportunity for the Lord to get us to freedom. What the enemy meant for evil is meant for good by the Lord. There is freedom on the way for you, friend. It doesn’t matter how much bondage you have been living in. God has trails of freedom for you and He is leading you there in Jesus’ name.

I suggest you identify the trails that have kept you in bondage. Are there areas of your life where there is no freedom? It could be areas in your thinking. It could be in your finances. It could be in your relationships. It could be in your prayer life. It could be in your personality. Negative trails appear in places we least expect and they can be dominant. They key is to find those negative signs. The Holy Spirit can unveil trails that we never knew existed. He can show us that we have been going down the wrong path even though we thought we were going down a scenic route of serenity. God gives peace that surpasses all understanding. The enemy gives an illusion of peace that gets stuck in our understanding. We understand it and we accept it as the ultimate peace when in reality there is a price to pay that is attached to that “peace.” Riches can be a source of such fake peace. People find comfort and refuge in their wealth. Having money is not bad. It’s the love of money that is dangerous especially when we equate money to happiness and success. God provides and He gives exceedingly more than we can imagine but He never meant for money to be the path to our salvation and to our joy. God’s peace is centered on God and nothing else. His freedom comes from Him and nothing else.

My prayer for you today is that you get to see the Lord’s freedom trails and that you are free indeed. Obstacles will always be on the way but the freedom trails of the Lord will also be there. The Lord came to set you free in every part of your life. Take His yoke upon you and know that His burden is light. The enemy’s yoke has no right to be in our lives. Let’s give it to the Lord. Let’s show the enemy who the King of our lives is. The freedom trails of the Lord can be a reality in our lives. Let’s make the Lord a priority. Let’s stay in the Word. Let’s proclaim our freedom in the name of Jesus. Freedom is leaving signs on your path and you are going to see them!

Suggested reading: Matthew 11:25-30; John 8:36; 2 Corinthians 3:17

God knows what’s coming next

With this new global situation, a lot of schools are closed and learning is happening online. I post my lessons every day for my students. It is a new way of teaching that comes with its own set of challenges. Checking the work and then planning for the next day has been part of the challenge. I sometimes must wait and see how the kids understood the lesson before I can develop one for the next day. The question that comes to my mind often is “what’s the next step?” or “what’s the next part of the plan?”  I have also asked myself what the next step was in my life. I have wondered what was coming next. I have wondered where I needed to go next and what steps to take to get there. The truth is that God knows all our steps.

 

The Lord knows where we came from, where we are now and where we are going. The next steps are not anything we should worry about. God has all the steps of His plan. We are not supposed to figure everything out on our own. Who knows when this pandemic will end? Who knows what our towns and cities will be like when it is over? Who knows what the next part of God’s plan is? God knows. God knows it all and He is not worried one bit about it. The Lord knew this pandemic was coming and He did not make any changes to His Word and to His promises. He didn’t attach a spiritual addendum to the end of His Book stating that He is not in control anymore. Your next steps are clear to God and He will lead you through each one of them.

When I present myself vulnerable to the Lord and I tell Him I don’t know where I am going next, He always shows me the way. His Word is a lamp into our paths. When we are unsure of the future or unsure of where to go next, it looks like we are in the dark and we see no light. We can’t see the next few steps. We can’t see the path we are supposed to follow. We can’t walk and we can’t move. Uncertainty and fear have a way of paralyzing us and keeping us in one spot. Spiritual and emotional paralyses are real and they give way to physical paralysis.

 

God is a moving God. He has always been moving. When He created the world, His Spirit was in constant movement. God is still moving today and He can take us on a moving journey where we are going places that our minds can’t fathom but our hearts can accept in faith. When I turn to God for my next steps, He sets everything in motion. He likes it when I humble myself and I go to Him for help. It is what is needed for Him to get me where I should to be. Now, He leads me in various ways but the number one place where I am made aware of the next steps is in prayer.


Praying about our future can sound cliché but it is always relevant.
Our prayer about what’s coming next should be a prayer of surrender. It is crucial to put ourselves in God’s hands instead of asking Him to do as we say. I used to tell God what He had to do next in my life. I used to have a list of all the events that should take place in my life and God had to figure out the best way to make these things happen. In other words, I used to play God as if I knew better. I never got anywhere other than the land of frustration and doubt. When we pray and we ask God to do it our way and the answer doesn’t come, doubt settles in. The enemy wants us to ask God to do it our way because he knows it will result in doubt and suffering. God knows best. When we look for direction from Him, we need to let Him lead the way. You can say, “Lord, I don’t know what’s coming next but I know You have it all planned out. I trust in Your plan and I ask you to show me the way. You are in control and I am honored to be led by Your Spirit.”

 

Give God free range. Let Him take your foot of faith and put it in front of your other foot for you. Let Him be the leader of the lane of your future. Stay in that lane in faith. God will not only take care of every step; He will make sure that you are protected and well surrounded as you move forward. His angels are deployed when we pray in faith. They will lift you so you don’t get hurt on the way. God has a plan. Your future is in His hands. Don’t worry about tomorrow. God knew about your tomorrow way before your yesterday. Stay in peace. Stay in praise. God knows all the next steps and they are taking you to a good, good place!

Suggested reading: Isaiah 30:21; Isaiah 58:11; John 14:26

Experiencing the goodness of God

God is good. God is good all the time. Life might be tough. Life might be rough but life never changes God. God’s goodness is constant. It doesn’t waver. It doesn’t change. It is more stable than the ground you walk on. God’s goodness is a ground that can’t be shaken. It is a solid ground on which we can walk, we can run, we can grow. God’s stability is unparalleled and yet we focus more on the instability of the world. We say that the only thing that is constant is change. We see change as something we should expect all the time. That approach tarnishes the way we see God. We picture Him as a changing God who is good when all is good and He is absent when we are going through difficulties. We run into trouble and we imagine that God runs away from us when the going gets tough. God doesn’t run away. He stays right by our side no matter what we go through. His goodness is at the fingertip of our faith. We can reach it with our hand of faith anytime even in hard times. God is good every single day of our lives. He changes our lives so we can taste His goodness. He changes our bad circumstances so we can experience His goodness. However, it shouldn’t take a “rescue mission” from God for us to see His goodness. We ought to enjoy God’s goodness every day. Today I want to talk about the goodness of God and how we can experience it all the time. God’s goodness can be our lifestyle and not our life-long wish that makes a cameo from time to time.


David says that he will proclaim the goodness of God and talk about His salvation all day long.
If you read through the Psalms, you will notice that David emphasizes the goodness of God and glorifies God because He is good. If we want to see God’s goodness, we need to start proclaiming it every day. We need to invite God’s goodness into our lives by declaring that God is good. This should become a habit. Setting time aside every day to talk about how good how God is will change our lives. It will allow us to understand that God is always good. It will linger in our minds and it will settle in our spirits. I like singing to the Lord in the morning. I love singing along Christian songs that magnify Jesus but I also love coming up with my own songs. I start my prayers with worship and praise. I declare that the Lord is almighty and that His goodness endures forever. The verb “endure” is key. To endure is to stand the test of time. Something that endures stays the same no matter what happens. God’s goodness breaks the record of endurance so to speak. If God’s goodness were in a race with the world’s wickedness, His goodness would win every time. There is no competition between the world’s evil ways and God’s goodness. Exalt the Lord’s goodness as much as possible and your spiritual eyes will be open to a new reality.

Thanking God for His goodness is another important factor when it comes to experiencing God’s goodness. I lift up the Lord for being good and I thank Him for being good. Now, I don’t thank Him only on sunny days. Come what may, I thank the Lord. When there is a storm, I thank God for His goodness. When I am stranded in an ocean of confusion, I thank God for His goodness. When unexpected bills make their way to my house, I thank God for His goodness. When the world seems to be falling apart, I thank God for His goodness. God’s goodness doesn’t hinge upon outside circumstances. It depends on God Himself. God defines His goodness. Our situation shouldn’t dictate if God is good or not. God’s essence is good. If we focus on the Lord, if we keep our eyes on Jesus, we will see that His goodness stays the same. God’s Word is one of the best promoters of God’s goodness. Spend time reading about His goodness. Write about His goodness in your life and keep reading what you write. It will boost your faith in His goodness.

When your declaration of how good God is is bigger than your thoughts of how bad the world is, you put yourself on a platform. You ascend to a platform where you can live out God’s goodness. You put yourself in a place where you can receive God’s goodness. God wants you to live out His goodness. He wants your faith in His goodness to guide your day and to lead the way. When you trust that God is good all the time, doubt and fear cannot derail you. God is good so He desires for you to be blessed. Your problems today cannot stop the goodness of God in your life unless you let them. Your failures and lacks cannot stop you from experiencing God’s goodness when you stay in faith and you proclaim that God is good all the time. You have a good, good God who loves you very, very much. Expect His goodness. Expect His love. God is good to you night and day. Proclaim His goodness every day!

Suggested reading: Psalm 71:15-24; Mark 10:18; James 1:17

When your faith takes a beating

Faith is like a muscle that we can flex. It needs to be strengthened and it needs to be exercised. Faith is like a muscle that gives a punch to our tough circumstances. It is the punch that knocks the opposition down. The stronger the faith, the stronger the punch. When life comes at you with some low unexpected blows, your faith can retaliate with peace, with confidence in God and with hope. Strong faith or blind faith doesn’t look at the situation at all. It looks at Jesus who handles all situations. Blind faith doesn’t see defeat. It sees victory. It doesn’t allow fear to dominate us. It dominates fear by putting it in a headlock. Faith calls the shots when the enemy tries to shoot us with bullets of discouragement. Faith gives us courage.

Faith gives us boldness and resilience. However, sometimes bad circumstances keep piling up. They form a mountain that is too heavy for us to bear. Our faith muscles get weak under the pressure of that pile of negativity. We try to stay strong but the enemy finds the weakness that atrophies our faith. What should we do when our faith takes a beating? When our ability to deal with life’s punches is diminished, we need to increase the One who killed death and its cohort of negativity. Today I want to encourage you to keep fighting the good fight of faith even when you are feeling too weak to lift a faith muscle. Remind yourself of where your strength comes from. Remind yourself of Who is fighting your battles. Get back in the ring and let the best Coach spot you, guide you and strengthen you. You might have lost a few battles along the way but the Lord won the war for you and you will get to the finish line, the victory line.

It’s amazing how much stronger we can get if we work out regularly following an effective workout routine. I used to exercise with a trainer and I would notice great changes in my body week after week. Faith works the same way. When you exercise it regularly, you get great results. Exercising implies putting pressure on our bodies in order to develop resistance and strength. Exercising our faith means applying pressure to it so that we can build it up. How do we do that? First, we need the proper foundation. The Word of God and the counsel of the Holy Spirit provide the foundation and the background we need. Our faith should be based on what God says. Our faith should be rooted in the Lord and His promises. We ought to have a personal connection with God where we are fed the truth and we are given the spiritual food that will nourish our faith. This should be a daily occurrence. God’s Word should be a part of our lives on the regular. Meditating on the Word gives us the faith structure on which we can build our house of faith.

When our foundation stays in place by regular “inhaling” of God’s Word, practice should be welcomed. The only way we are going to practice is by applying what we learned. Applying faith happens when things go wrong and faith is our resort. If everything is always going well, we can’t apply our faith and we can’t develop it. We dread trials and adversity. They are destabilizing but we can look at them as opportunities to get more faith muscles. If there is no pressure on our faith muscles, they won’t grow. When life beats you up and leaves your spiritual, your emotional and your physical body in a bad condition, run to the One who can recondition everything. The beating can deplete you of faith but it doesn’t mean that your Lord is weaker. Our faith can fluctuate but Jesus stays the same.

When your faith gets a beating, look to the founder and the author of your faith. Take yourself out of the picture and let the Lord show you the bigger picture. In the bigger picture He will point out that He is in control. He is in every part of the picture of your life. He is constant and He is still in control. Talk to the Holy Spirit. Let Him coach you back to faith. Pray and ask for help. Tell the Lord you need assistance. Focus on Him. Focus on His muscles so to speak. He will reveal Himself mighty and powerful again. He will lift you up and give you a boost again. The author of your faith is also the author of the victory chapters of your life. There are many of those chapters and when you leave it up to Him, He starts writing a new chapter where hope is everywhere, peace is back on the throne of your mind and faith makes a comeback with a bigger punch. Don’t give up. When you are weak, the Lord is strong. Keep praying when you are weak. You will see how strong your God is!

Suggested reading: Psalm 73:26; Isaiah 40:29; 2 Corinthians 12:10