Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the GLORY of the Lord has risen upon you! (Isaiah 60:1)
The sun shall no more be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you, but the Lord shall be to you an everlasting light, and your God your GLORY and your BEAUTY. (Isaiah 60:19)
To my utter delight, I awoke early from slumber last week and tip toed to the kitchen while my precious ones were still asleep. I giggled with joy as I put a Starbucks capsule into the Kerig machine and pushed “brew.” Then with my coffee in hand, I found my favorite spot and pulled the Word of God close. This was a rare treat from heaven and I knew that God had ordained this time for us.
Time with God – my glory, my beauty.
With every sip of caffine and bite of God’s word, I began to feel invigorated and ready to ponder the New Year. You see, with the state of our country and my own personal brokeness within 2012, I was somewhat apprehensive of the New Year. But then I found Isaiah 60 and just as the clouds are lifted due to a change of atmosphere, my concerns quickly floated away as God’s presence filled the room.
Embracing God – my glory, my beauty.
God began to show me that even with present darkness – there will be an unleashing within God’s people as we embrace Him as our glory and our beauty in 2013.
Instead of grief, there will be His Glory
Instead of despair, there will be His Joy
Instead of defeat, there will be His Victory
Instead of shame, there will be His Honor
Instead of ashes, there will be His Beauty
Instead of devastation, there will be His Restoration
Instead of retreat, there will be His Rising
God – your glory, your beauty.
Glory – “everything that makes God beautiful and great, it is a bright light from God.”
Beauty- “qualities that delight the eye, ear, mind or heart, loveliness, elegance, a particular grace.”
Hence, the closer we live to the Lord, our outward appearance will be transformed and become more glorious and beautiful.
2013 is the year to arise and shine and to be radiant in the Lord. It is not a matter of how we feel, it is a matter of allowing God to be our glory and our beauty. No longer will the sun or moon be our light, but the Lord will be unto us an everlasting light. May His glory and beauty shine through us as never before. And remember – do not allow this world to darken your spirit for this is the year to rise up and shine as never before.
2013 – God’s year of Glory and Beauty.
Happy New Year!
PS: For all my Atlanta peeps – I am doing a series in January & February at Cumberland Community Church. Let me know if you can attend. Blessings!
“What I am trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.” -Matthew 6:32, Message Translation
Have you ever received a gift so beautifully wrapped that you hated to open it? While it may have been tempting to sit the package on a shelf and just stare at it, I think most of us have too much curiosity to not open it and see what is inside! After all, someone took time out of his or her day just to buy you a gift and it would be rude to not open it – right? Yet, so many of us have unopened gifts from God each and everyday. When life gets busy we often fail to respond to God’s gift giving. We can become all consumed with going to work, running errands, paying our bills and taking care of the tyranny of the urgent that we never open the gifts God has placed before us.
According to the scripture above, we have to stop being preoccupied with getting in order to receive something. Do you mean that God wants me to relax and receive a gift from Him everyday? Yes! Let me ask you a question: What are you in need of today? Whatever you maybe facing, God has the right gift of wisdom, peace and faith to help you overcome every test and trial. So, I encourage you to unwrap and receive what God is longing to give you. Be expectant for a gift from heaven to fall upon you today!
Remember that: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17
It’s time to rest and receive gifts from Heaven! Watch out for unexpected gifts to fall into your lap. There are gifts that have been stored up, gifts that are just because He loves you, gifts so beautifully wrapped – but you are to open them – not just stare at their beauty. Happy unwrapping!
Lord, help me to stop and receive the gift you are longing to give me this day. You know exactly what I need. Forgive me for being so preoccupied with life that I fail to spend time with You. Thank you for the gift of salvation and all that it contains. I choose to receive Your joy, peace, protection, healing, favor, provision, forgiveness, wisdom and anything else You see that I am in need of today. Thank you Lord for lavishing me with more gifts than I know what to do with. You are the greatest gift I have ever received in my life and I praise you! Amen.
“Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!” Psalm 42:11, NLT
Has your life ever seemed to be going smoothly, but then out of nowhere a circumstance arises and you are suddenly full of fear? Fear is something all of us battle at one time or another. I have learned over the years when fear emerges that somehow, somewhere, I began to place my hope in something or someone other than God.
Take our economy for instance. If we place our hope in the housing market right now, we are going to battle fear and anxiety. And what about the Presidential election in just a few weeks? If we place our hope in a nominee and he is not chosen, what then? If your choice for 2012 is not elected, you may be tempted to give into overwhelming fear. But if we place our hope in God -Who reigns over the housing market and Who reigns over America’s choice for President, we can remain in perfect peace!
So let me ask you, to what or whom is your hope placed in today? Is your hope placed in man, your bank account, beauty, performance or your children? If your hope is placed in anything of this world, you will be gravely disappointed. But if your hope is in Jesus Christ, then everything will be a-okay and you can rest in His perfect peace.
If you are battling fear and discouragement today, I encourage you to place your hope in God. Begin to rehearse all that He has done for you. Let thanksgiving take over your worried mind. No matter what you are going through, God is for you and fighting on your behalf. Psalm 44:8 tells us to give glory to God all day long and constantly praise His name. It’s time for us to once again receive God’s love and give Him glory all day long. God is faithful and He will never let us down.
Remember to cast your vote in a few weeks, but again, no matter who wins this election, you can remain in perfect peace. God knew who would be President in 2012 before you were in your mother’s womb. God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind. And whoever wins, we are called by God to uphold them in prayer. It does not matter what we think or what party we are affiliated with. God is in control and we are to rest in Him.
Lord, I give you all my fears this day. Forgive me for placing my hope in anything other than You. You are my God and You reign over every situation in my life. I declare faith to arise within my spirit. I rebuke every attack of the enemy and ask according to Psalm 37:14-15, that when the wicked draws their sword at me, they will in return be stabbed through the heart with their own swords and their bows will be broken in Jesus Name. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. And I make a decision today that no matter who is elected President, I will not fear and I will respect this man of authority through prayer. Amen.”
Their descendants will be recognized and honored among the nations. Everyone will realize that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” Isaiah 61:9, NLT
Ask any of my closest friends and they will tell you that one of my mantras in life is, “Go where there is favor!” In my opinion, life is too short to spend time with those who do not celebrate you and the gifts God has placed in your life. Think about this for a moment. You are God’s unique creation in Christ and even during hard times, God’s love and favor rests upon us, as we trust in His Word.
When we choose to live for God and follow His plan for our life, we cannot help but experience supernatural favor. Our scripture above tells us that not only will we be seen as God’s favored but our descendants will also be recognized and honored among the nations. And did you know that we are promised to obtain favor even with our enemies? Proverbs 16:7 states, “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”
There was a situation several years ago where I clearly was in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was no sign of favor anywhere. I felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Nothing I did worked, which I came to realize was a clue that I had somewhere, somehow, gotten off track. I had become so accustomed to receiving God’s favor everywhere I went that when it wasn’t there, it was a bizarre experience for me and one that I do not want to repeat anytime soon. It did not take me long before I realized that I unknowingly had stepped out of God’s path for my life. I was swayed by man’s opinion rather than seeking God for where I needed to be for such a time as this. Hence, I made a change as quickly as possible and I found myself once again living where God’s favor reigns.
I believe there are times in each of our lives when God allows us to walk through difficult places to stretch us and show us what is really within our hearts (Deuteronomy 8:2). Yet when God leads us to a valley, He promises to provide us everything we need, including His rod and a staff to comfort us (Psalm 23). The question is, has God led us to this valley or did we unknowingly step out of the path of life and lead ourselves there? Selah (pause and think about this for a moment). If this is the case, then we can run to God and trust that He is bigger than every circumstance in our life. He loves us and will show us His path of life.
It is my prayer that we continually live in God’s favor and that when people see us coming, whether at the grocery store or in our workplace, they will declare, “Surely they are BLESSED of God.”
“Lord, show me Your path. I long to be where Your favor is for me and my family. Forgive me for the times when I trusted in anything other than You. You are my God and when I follow Your path I cannot help but walk in the favor of God. Make every crooked place straight in my life and may everyone around me see supernatural favor on my life. Amen.”
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in TRIUMPH IN CHRIST, and through us manifests the fragrance of His knowledge in EVERY PLACE. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15
Are there days when you “feel” totally defeated? And are there times when your circumstances sometimes pile on top of you to the point that you can barely breathe? Well, no matter what you are facing – God will lead you to triumph in Christ!
Let me encourage you today:
Do not give up. Do not lose sight of who you are and to whom you belong. You are the righteousness of God. You are His beloved child. You are an over-comer in Christ Jesus. No weapon formed against you can prosper. Every idle and dishonest word that is spoken against you, God will condemn. You are the apple of God’s eye. He formed you in your mother’s womb. You are not forgotten and never forsaken. You are above and not beneath. You are the head and not the tail. The blessings of the Lord will chase you and overtake you. What the enemy meant for evil, God will turn it around and use it for your good. Our God is willing and able. He is your healer. He is your Abba Father. He is your provider. He is your vindicator. He is mercy. He is grace. He is love. He is EVERYTHING you need!
What is that “place” you need victory in today? If you allow Him, Christ will lead you to triumph in that very place. And as you walk out this victory, God’s fragrance will manifest around you. Whether you realize it or not – People watch you and they know something is different about you. They notice the smile on your face even through you are walking through the greatest trial of your life. They see a peace resting over you that no words can describe. And according to the scripture above – they will also see you TRIUMPH in EVERY PLACE!
Smith Wigglesworth (one of my faith heroes) said it well: “Great faith is the product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs come only out of great trials. Every stumbling block must become a stepping stone. And every opposition must become an opportunity.”
“Lord, You lead me in triumph in every place of my life. You will not leave me in the valley of the shadow of death. You send your rod and staff to comfort me and you will pull me out of the pit of destruction. Many will see my life and give praise to Your Name. You are Jesus. Your Name is above every name. This situation that I am walking through must bow its knee at your Word. I declare triumph. I declare Your fragrance be manifest in my life. Thank You for your love and mercy. I worship You Jesus. You are everything I need.” Amen.
“And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he (Elisha) answered, “Do not fear for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:16-17
Let’s just imagine that one morning you wake up only to see your greatest enemy and his army ready to take you down. What would you do? How would you respond? Most of us would do exactly as Elisha’s servant did above – respond in sheer panic and run to someone, anyone, who could help us. We would probably also scream out, “ What should we do?” Our eyes would be so overwhelmed with the fact that this enemy army is just outside our door and ready to strike that fear would more than likely paralyze us.
Ok, maybe your home is not literally surrounded by an enemy but I bet there is something the devil is surrounding you with fear – maybe its your health, your finances or your children’s future – and you maybe asking today “what should I do?”
Elisha’s response to “what should we do?” in 2 Kings 6:16-17 was in faith. Faith requires seeing into another dimension – the invisible. Fear paralyzes us, but faith propels us to see things from God’s perspective. Notice that Elisha did not ask God to simply show his servant another miracle; he asked for his servant to see another dimension. Elisha prayed. God revealed. The Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw horses and chariots of fire all around him. Seeing into the invisible is a key to victorious praying – discerning spiritual issues from God’s perspective rather than man’s. Instead of focusing on the the enemy’s intentions, it’s time that we focus on God’s angelic strike-force!I am praying for you right now, “Lord, open her eyes that she may see.” May God show you His perspective and may you see that there are more for you than against you. And remember that you fight FROM victory not FOR victory.
Prayer: “Lord, open my eyes to see You in every situation. I will no longer allow fear to paralyze me but allow faith in Who You are propel me forward. While fear causes me to pull back – faith pushes me forward into Your plans for my life. Your plans are always to prosper me and to do me good in the end. I may feel as if I am surrounded by the enemy today, but I declare that if You are for me, who can be against me. Open the eyes of my heart that I may see You. Send Your angels concerning me today. May You go before me today and make every crooked place straight. Amen.”
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you; take your everyday ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God – you’ll be changed from the inside out.” Romans 12:1-2, Message Translation
There are days when all I feel like I do is get up, pour myself a cup of coffee, spend a few precious moments in God’s Word, pick up the house, run errands, return emails, make dinner, (pick up the house again!!) and finally fall into bed only to do it all over again the next day! Maybe your days are filled with driving to work, making business calls or taking care of your elderly parents. But, no matter what stage of life we are in – we can become bored with our daily routines and forget to embrace each day as a gift from God.
What stood out to me in the scripture above is the challenge Paul gives us to embrace our everyday, ordinary life as worship to God. I have found that if we choose to worship God everyday (no matter how mundane our tasks may seem) an overflowing joy will fill our hearts. God will help us see that what we do each day is not ordinary – but extraordinary! While, the world may perceive what we do as meaningless, God knows our hearts and He sees our acts of everyday life as worship to Him.
Did you know that as you go about your everyday, ordinary life, that you are changing eternal souls? You are influencing someone’s life today, whether you realize it or not. Your encouragement and heartfelt concern for a co-worker, fellow mom or a grocery store clerk can literally alter their destiny!
Maybe you are a businessperson, minister or teacher. You need to know that every client you encourage, sermon that you preach or child that you impact is shaping an eternal destiny. The truth is, there are thousands of people who need what you do mindlessly each day. It may be your smile, uplifting word or a mastery skill that you perform at your job. But someone, somewhere, is in need of what you do in your everyday, ordinary life. Choosing to worship God through your everyday life will not only change you, but everyone around you as well!
“Lord, I give you my everyday, ordinary life: my sleeping, eating, going to work and walking around life as worship to You. I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus and what He thinks about me as I go about my daily tasks. Father, open my eyes to see how my life can be a blessing to those around me. Help me to see those who are hurting and need the gift that is within me. Someone, somewhere is in need of what I do in my everyday, ordinary life. May You use my life to glorify You. Take my ordinary and turn it into extraordinary this day.” Amen.
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32
Our culture today tells us to: “Look out for #1, don’t trust anyone and I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine.“ What people don’t realize is that this type of living is fear-based. 1 Timothy 1:7 tells us thatGod has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.Fear encourages us to horde, withhold and to only give with strings attached. But as children of God, we are able to freely give because our Father in heaven freely gave His son, Jesus on the cross for us.
Giving with no strings attached is freedom not only for you, but also for the person to whom you are giving the gift, because there is no form of control or manipulation involved. Giving freely is under the covenant of grace, but giving with strings attached is under the law. Nothing can hold us captive if we can freely give with no strings attached. No position, amount of money, title, or status symbol can have control over us if we are able to freely give.
I want to encourage you to bless someone today and when you give to him or her, do it freely, expecting nothing in return. Maybe you can help someone pay a bill, pray for someone in a time of need or drop off some groceries to a person in need – just because!
The truth is, we can give with no stings attached because we can trust that our Father in heaven will always provide for us. He will always take care of us in abundance. Psalm 37:25-26 states, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendant begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and His descendants are blessed.”You are not forgotten. Trust in God and keep your eyes on Him. He will bring whatever you need to pass as you freely give to others.
Prayer:”Lord, thank you for loving me with no strings attached. I am secure in the fact that You love me and have good plans for my life. Help me to not give into fear, but allow Your power, love and a sound mind to change the way I think. Show me someone who is in need today. I choose to give freely because You gave freely to me. I love you Jesus. Amen.”
“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me (as a vital necessity) and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13, AMP
There was a time when my husband and I were asking God to bless us with TWINS…okay, I know what some of you are thinking, but it was our hearts desire at that time. We diligently prayed for a double blessing, but our ultrasound made it clear that there was only one heartbeat within my womb. And although we were thankful for one healthy heartbeat, I will admit that for forty-eight hours, my husband and I moped around our home in disappointment due to what we considered “unanswered prayer.” Another time that comes to mind is with a past boyfriend. I remember praying that he would fall in love with me and choose me to be his wife – all the while – my prayers were lovingly answered with a “no” because God had my best in mind.
You see, my husband is the perfect one for me and the same is true concerning my daughter, although twins are a huge blessing, God knew what we could handle and once again we thank God for His way of answering our prayers. God knew the desire of my heart to marry and have a family and He answered our prayers with His plans for welfare and peace, to give us hope in our final outcome.
The scripture above tells us that God always hears our prayers and heeds each one.With some of our prayers requests He answers us with a “yes” (and boy do we love it when this happens!!), there are also times as in my examples above when God lovingly answers us with a “no” in order that our future outcome will be good, and other times He answers us with “wait.” Just recently I thought God answered “no” to a request of mine, only to find out a few months later that I needed to “wait” so that He could make a good situation even better! Bottom, line, we can rest in the fact that God knows about our personal situation and He has good plans for our life.
How many times have we pouted and complained to God for not answering our prayers, when He was simply answering it with a “no” or “wait?” God knows ALL things and He is the One who knows what we can handle. It comes down to knowing God’s will for our life and trusting that He has good plans for us. Our amazing God longs to bless us, heal us, restore us and prosper us. We are promised in Isaiah 5:11 that when we pray God’s Word it will never return back void.
“Lord, thank you for always hearing my prayers. I declare that You have good plans for me. Your plans are full of hope for my final outcome and I align myself up with Your Word today. I give you everything heavy on my heart and I ask that Your perfect will be done. As I seek and inquire of You this day, I will rest in that fact that You gave your life to heal, restore and bless me. I grab onto the Word of God and declare that it will not return back void, but will prosper in the thing for which You sent it (Isaiah 55:11). Amen.”
Tracy became a Christian at the age of 16 and her life was changed forever. She went from being a depressed, suicidal, rebellious teenager to a dynamic leader for Christ. Immediately after accepting Jesus as her Savior, Tracy fought the school board in order to begin a Bible study on school grounds at her high school in Illinois. The dramatic transformation in Tracy's life has inspired many, including her own mother, to give their lives to Christ.