Monday, January 31

Gems Upon His Heart

Did you know you are a precious gemstone upon the heart and shoulders of Jesus?

In the Old Testament, God commanded that Aaron and his sons be set apart for the priesthood forever, “that he should sanctify the most holy things, to burn incense before the Lord, to minister to Him, and to give the blessing in His name forever.” (1 Chron. 23:13 NKJV)

God gave instructions to Moses on how to construct their garments, such as the ephod, the breastplate, and all the other articles. He directed that two beryl or onyx stones be engraved with the names of Aaron’s sons, six on each stone, and that one stone be placed on each shoulder.

Why? “So Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders as a memorial,” (Ex. 28:12 NKJV) as a remembrance when he went before the Lord on their behalf.

God also instructed that the breastplate be woven of fine linen in gold, scarlet, blue, and purple, used for royalty and sacred items. On it was to be placed the beautiful gemstones of emerald, topaz, turquoise, sapphire, amethyst, diamond, and others. The original birthstones!

God said, “And the stones shall have the names of the sons of Israel, twelve according to their names” (Ex. 28:21 NKJV), where they would be kept close to the heart of the priest.

As the high priest, Aaron was to bear the names of the family of God upon his shoulders and his heart. Aaron was a type of Christ, bearing divine authority before God as the family’s advocate for their sins.

In the book of Isaiah, the prophecy of Jesus says that “the government shall be upon His shoulder,” (Is. 9:6 KJV) the government or rule and dominion. In biblical times, the shoulder was the symbol of responsibility, authority, and power. Speaking of Himself, Jesus said to the Father, “You have given Him authority over all flesh.” (John 17:2a NKJV)

Hebrews 6:20 tells us that Jesus is our High Priest forever. As He goes before the Father on our behalf, He bears our names before the Father as a memorial. He is our Advocate. The disciple John wrote, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1 NKJV)

Jesus, our High Priest and Advocate, bears our names as beautiful gemstones upon His heart and upon His shoulders before the Father.

The Lord once spoke of this to me...

“As Aaron wore the ephod embellished with the memorial stones of Israel, bearing their names upon his shoulders and his heart, so the Lord Jesus bears upon His shoulders and heart the names of His family, as engraved precious gemstones, for a remembrance forever.

“He bears the weight of your sin, and, upon His heart, He bears the twelve tribal stones, or birthstones, bearing the weight of your names upon His loving, forgiving Heart...

‘Say to Me, Lord, take now upon Your shoulders my name and bear my burden and take me upon Your heart and forgive my sin. Bring back my love as at the first. Wash and cleanse me of my sins. Remove my sackcloth and ashes and dress me in fine, white garments of linen, veil my face, and place a crown on my head..

“Say to Me, Keep me as that precious gemstone close to Your heart.”

Did you know you were a precious gemstone upon the heart of your Lord?


Thursday, January 27

Hallowed Be Thy Name

“Hallowed be Your name.”
(Matt. 6:9 NKJV and others)

(This is the second part of The Model Prayer series.)

Other versions of the above verse say...

* “May Your name always be kept holy.” New Living Translation
* “Help us to honor Your name.” Contemporary English Version
* “Uphold the holiness of Your name.” Common English Bible
* “Let Thy name be sanctified.” Darby Translation

The Greek word for holy means purify, consecrate, venerate, declare sacred, set apart, and sanctify.

What is so important about God’s Name?

Beginning in Genesis 1, the Creator of the universe is known as Elohim, which is plural, meaning supreme God or the Triune God, as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 2:4, Jehovah Elohim is used. Jehovah means the Existing or Eternal One, or the Lord.

To reveal more of Himself, God said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh … I am Jehovah… I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty [El-Shaddai], but by My name the Lord [Yahweh—the redemptive name of God] I did not make Myself known to them [in acts and great miracles].” (Ex. 6:1a, 2b Masoretic Text, Ex. 6:3 Amp)

The mere mention of the name of another god on the lips of one of God’s people profaned His Name. God told Israel, “In all I have said to you take heed; do not mention the name of other gods [either in blessing or cursing]; do not let such speech be heard from your mouth.” (Ex. 23:13 Amp)

At one time, the title Baali was applied to God. However, during the reign of Ahab, his wife Jezebel promoted the proliferation of idolatry and commanded the slaying of Jehovah’s prophets. Consequently, Baali became associated with the worship rituals and practices of Baal and conveyed a sense of shame.

Because of this, God directed Hosea to change His name. He desired that Israel keep His name and His presence pure and holy.

He said, “And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call Me Ishi; and shalt call Me no more Baali … For I will take away the names of the Baals out of her mouth; and they shall no more be remembered by their name … And I will betroth you to Me forever. Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in mercy, and in compassions. I will even betroth you to Me in faithfulness. And you shall know Jehovah.” (Hos. 2:16 KJV, Hos. 2:17, 19-20 MasT)

The use of the name Baali placed Israel in more of a subservient relationship with God as owner. Baali means my lord, but not in the sense we think of today. It was a title of respect and subservience.

Jehovah no longer wanted a relationship as a master or owner but as a Husband,
betrothed to His people, that they would know Him intimately. He told Israel through Jeremiah, “Return, faithless people...for I am your Husband.” (Jer. 3:14 NIV)

In the third commandment, God said, “You shall not use or repeat the name of the Lord your God in vain [that is, lightly or frivolously, in false affirmations or profanely]; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (Ex. 20:7 Amp)

The same Hebrew word is used in the above verse for use, repeat, and takes and means to lift up, exalt, extol, regard, respect, receive, magnify, marry, and so on.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are joined with Him through salvation, becoming a part “of His body, of His flesh and of His bones,” (Eph. 5:30 NKJV) as a divine oneness of being His Bride.

Would you say or do anything that is crude, immoral, or disrespectful to your spouse? To embarrass your spouse or speak against him/her in any way? Bring shame on his/her name?

What we say and do reflects on God’s Most Holy Name, on the name of our heavenly Bridegroom. On a scale of one to ten, how are you doing in keeping the Lord’s name holy? Is there room for improvement?

As the Lord told Moses, “You must not treat Me as common and ordinary. Revere Me and hallow Me, for I, the Lord, made you holy to Myself.” (Lev. 22:32 TLB)

~~Lord, help me to keep your precious Name holy!~~


Monday, January 24

The Winter of My...

What does winter say to your heart?

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.”
~Andrew Wyeth

Winter is when...

* a season of rest ravages nature’s beauty.
* bare branches stand out as scary stickmen.
* blustery winds whip the last of the dead, fallen leaves...into the neighbor’s yard.
* the sky glooms in shades of gray.
* a vale of cold grief shrouds the land, interred in an intangible grave.
* all appears lost.

But deep inside the earth and plants, the sap of life quivers, quietly awaiting its appointed resurrection.

The Lord once said to me, “During the long winter months, when nature has seemingly lost all its beauty, life still flows deep within its darkest recesses. The trees appear naked and dead without their leaves and blooms. The ground seems hard and bare without the beauty of flowers and grass. But, in reality, life is ever-present, ever-flowing.

“It flows in the sap that is deep within the trees. It stirs within the seeds of flowers yet to bloom. Both are quietly at work, awaiting their appointed time to be awakened and spring to life...”

Do your trials appear as winter starkness? Tempestuous seasons of life swoop down upon us through storms of bereavement, affliction, or adversity, which can leave us heartbroken and lifeless.

What is your winter circumstance? The winter of what? Would you fill in the blank with...

* scary stickmen of financial woes?
* blustery winds of divorce?
* gray clouds of depression?
* cold grief for the loss of a loved one?
* all appears lost?

In all your heartaches, do you sense the underlying rumbling of that divine sap of Life? God’s Spirit of regeneration still flows within you. Your time of renewal will come.

The Lord said, “Sometimes My people must also endure their long winter months of travail when their fruit seems to have withered and their branches seem bare. But deep within their roots, My Spirit moves with eternal life.

“All may seem dark, lost, and devoid of life and beauty, but, in such a life lived with Me, My work still goes on...Allow My Life to flow through you, especially in the darkest of times, so then will you be renewed.”

No winter is so warm or so cold as that which lies in the heart. As a twist on what Victor Hugo said, “Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.”

Does your life feel as though you have lost all your beauty? Are the first signs of decay setting in, causing you to feel bare and fruitless? Has your inner strength diminished? Is your heart filled with the flowing of Eternal Life?

As you wait out those bleak seasons, expecting God’s answers and renewed inner beauty and strength, you can be assured it will come, as Isaiah said, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Is. 40:31 NKJV)

In the winter of your waiting...

...may you experience a time of renewal.
...may your winter blossom with new life.
...may your heartache be massaged into joy.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing.
Now it springs forth.”
(Is. 43:19a Amp)

This post is part of the One Word Blog Carnival at on the topic of winter. Check out Peter's site for some great entries.


Friday, January 21

The Model Prayer


Did you cringe or smile when you read that word? Do you spend enough time in prayer?

Whatever the amount of time each of us spends on our knees, it can always be improved.

Since our precious Lord gave us an example of how to pray, I thought I would take what has been dubbed The Lord’s Prayer, or as the New King James Version entitles it, The Model Prayer, and make it a series.

In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus gives us the prototype, “Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
may Your name be kept holy.
May Your Kingdom come soon.
May Your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.” (NLT)

Some manuscripts add, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” I love that part!

Is prayer important? According to Jesus, it is. He spent a great deal of time on His knees. If He went to the garden, the hillside, or some other secluded place to spend time with His Father, how can we not think it is more important in our lives?

If God is our heavenly Father, how do we talk to Him? What tone do we use? Do we speak to Him...

* in respect, or disrespect, as we would our earthly father?
* in kind tones or in grumpiness?
* in belief of unbelief?
* in trust or in doubt?
* by shaking our fists at Him or raising our hands in praise?

Do we tell Him of our tender love for Him, or do we continually question Him as to why things are happening? Do we tell Him of our unreserved confidence in Him that He will always fulfill His promises? Do we praise Him for Who He is? Do we sit silently at His feet, just to be near Him?

Prayer is a private, exclusive audience with the King of heaven, spending time in His presence to worship Him and to love Him.

Prayer is like a child appealing to its father. Has your child ever crawled up in your lap just to snuggle with you because he or she loves you? Do you ever crawl up in the Father’s lap just to love on Him? He delights in that, just as you do.

Prayer is the development of our personal relationship with the Lord, as an intimate friend.

Prayer is communicating with the Lord, having an honest, heart-to-heart talk with Him. For this reason, prayer is a conversation, not a monologue! Conversing with Him implies listening to Him.

Prayer takes many forms, whether with many words, sitting silently, a look or glance of faith in the Lord’s direction, or on our faces on the floor, bawling into the carpet.

Though we have virtually perfected our horizontal conversations, we have seriously failed in our Vertical one. This spirit-converse can be found only when one retreats to that quiet place to listen for the intimate whisperings the Holy Spirit brings us from our Beloved Bridegroom.

David said of being in the Lord’s house, as only The Message can state it, “That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, the perfect getaway far from the buzz of traffic.” (Ps. 27:4) The frazzled racket of the world has deafened our ears to the whispers of heaven. If we don’t silence all the cacophony, we will never hear the voice of the Lord.

How important is prayer to us? “One day Jesus told His disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes.” (Luke 18:1 TLB)

~~Lord, may I sit at Your precious feet just to be with You and learn of You. Give me the strength to wait the timing of your answers.~~


Monday, January 17

The Kingdom Parallel

This is not theology and is by no means complete. It is merely a thought-provoking (and fun) illustration that I thought you might enjoy…

In days gone by, when a king or a sovereign of a country wanted to spread his authority and influence to a new territory, he sent his son as an ambassador (or he sent an ambassador) to represent his kingdom in a foreign land and set up a foreign mission office or embassy.

An ambassador is a citizen of a country and is chosen or appointed by the ruler of his country. He is sent to a foreign land to represent his ruler on an official mission to establish a base of operation for transacting business for the home government.

During his stay, he lives in the embassy, which is the site of all official business conducted for the government it represents. The embassy is a gated community, the ambassador’s safe haven from any enemies or intruders.

Unless invited, a citizen of the foreign land (as an enemy) may not enter the sealed off district without the consent of its ambassador, because the representative of the kingdom has control of the gate.

Therefore, to enter the front gate, a citizen of the foreign land must first get permission or be issued an invitation by the ambassador. The ambassador has been given the keys of authority to lock and unlock the gate.

The ambassador is sent to represent the traits, customs, and so on, of his ruler and his country. Where the embassy of the kingdom exists, the language of the kingdom is spoken. The ambassador’s speech then reflects on the king. The land of his birth can be distinguished the minute he opens his mouth. His accent and language are a give-away, for he is speaking the language of his kingdom, his homeland tongue.

While on this foreign mission as the ruler’s spokesman, the ambassador carries the authority of the word of the ruler of his country, upholding the commands and laws of the homeland. He is critical to the ruler’s efforts of establishing a forefront of the ruler’s presence in a foreign land.

Our personal application: The Father, the King of heaven, sent His Son as His Ambassador to extend His Kingdom on earth.

As the king appointed or chose those whom He desired to represent him to other nations, we have been appointed as well. As Jesus said to the disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” (John 15:16 NKJV)

We were all “aliens from the commonwealth” (Eph. 2:12 NKJV) until we became naturalized or citizens of the Kingdom. We are “fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,” (Eph. 2:19 NKJV) living as outposts in a foreign land, in the land of the enemy.

Our Sovereign Ruler has endowed us with the rights, freedoms, privileges, immunities, and duties of citizenship of the Kingdom. We also have the right to be protected by the Kings’ army to defend us from any enemy that would attack the embassy gate. But we are also expected to obey our duties as citizens.

Within the confines of our gated community, we are protected; it is our safe haven. We have control of the gate. We have the keys of the Kingdom.

We carry the authority of the Word of our Sovereign while we are on our mission for Him. We play a critical role in His efforts to expand His Kingdom to others.

As a citizen of God’s Kingdom, what we say reflects on our King. The words we speak will identify which kingdom we represent, letting everyone know our native Homeland. We are to exhibit the character of the One that sent us, reflecting graciously on the Sovereign of our Homeland.

As the law outside the compound of the embassy is the enemy’s territory, so we are to stay out of the world’s manner of doing things. The world’s system has no place in a believer’s life.

As we have been chosen and have accepted this responsibility, we carry on the mission of our Ruler amidst diverse and hostile natives. We represent our King as ambassadors to a world of foreigners.

We are to make known the dominion of our King, to give His perspectives on life, to show others what life is like in the Kingdom in which we live, and to recruit new citizens for the Kingdom.

As Jesus sent the disciples out into the world to spread the influence of the Kingdom, He has also sent us to do the same. Therefore, having been commissioned by God to do the business of the Kingdom, we are to go to foreign places to represent the Name and the work of the Sovereign One sending us...

“Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this-that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:19-20 TLB)

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else.”
(Matt. 6:33a NLT)


Thursday, January 13

Hearing the Voice of God

***As my daughter is visiting, I haven’t been able to finish a new post. So, I am sharing with you an article that I wrote a few years ago for our church paper. At the time, Celebration was the church’s Wednesday night service.***

Recently, as my husband and I were leaving the sanctuary after Celebration, we were stopped and asked if we would counsel with a deaf couple. As Decision Counselors (now called Decision Guides), we have never counseled with the deaf. Even though I had taken sign language classes, we both felt a little apprehensive and, yet, at the same time, we felt challenged. God will always give us His strength when we are weak. And we really needed His strength!

With hand gestures flowing rapidly from one person to another, our interpreter spoke to the young couple seated before us. We had the privilege of counseling with Grace and Sam. Being part of a conversation with the hearing impaired is a very humbling experience. In this situation, Norman and I were indeed the handicapped ones.

Grace and Sam wanted to talk to counselors about being baptized. They shared about their salvation and love for the Lord. They will be married soon and they wanted their lives to be in covenant with the Lord. So, at a recent Saturday night service, they came to church to be baptized.

All those to be baptized came into the baptismal as a group. As Grace and Sam waited their turn, Dave Stone [our pastor] baptized the others first, and as each one went under, Sam raised his hand in praise to the Lord. What a glorious sight!

As their friends and Grace’s father looked on, Dave baptized this precious couple. Teary eyed, I sat riveted to my seat as we, along with the congregation, witnessed the outward expression of their inward confession, as an interpreter conveyed the message of Dave’s words to Grace and Sam. Their hands then waved the sign for praise. What a privilege to have been a part of this.

After the service, we told Grace and Sam that we loved them and would be praying for them. We all hugged and said we would see each other later. In total silence, Norman and I walked up the aisle, hand in hand; our hearts too full of God’s goodness to break the spell with words.

Walking through the parking lot, I broke the silence by saying, “I’m totally amazed how awesome God is. He hears us even when we have no voice to speak to Him. He knows the voice of His children. He hears us no matter what our handicap.”

On the ride home, I tried to imagine a world of total stillness, but I could not imagine my life without ever having heard my grandmother sing The Old Rugged Cross. (My grandmother has been dead for almost forty years, yet, to this day, I still cannot sing it without crying and thinking of her.)

I could not imagine never experiencing the joy of hearing my children call me Mommy. I could not imagine never having my soul touched by the sounds of my husband telling me that he loves me. I could not imagine never being afforded the luxury of hearing the name of Jesus preached in a sermon.

Yet, at the same time, I could only imagine my auditory nerves never being blasted by the sounds of hard rock or rap music, or people arguing, or the dog whining, or the garbage language in movies. Oh, to imagine that none of these had the ability to invade my world! I could have an uninterrupted quiet time with the Lord, anytime, anywhere. He hears us no matter what our handicap – or situation.

I pray God will lay His hand of blessing on Grace and Sam and that He will always be the center of their lives. Sam mentioned after the service that he wished to be used of the Lord. The interpreter told him that the Deaf Taskforce needed someone to teach a Bible study class. Go for it, Sam! God will always use those with willing hearts as His instruments.

~Oh, Lord, thank You for allowing us to be used as those instruments that sit in readiness at Your feet. Only You know what our capabilities are and what we can accomplish. You would not send us out unless You thought we were fit for the task.

Thank You that You bend low with Your hand cupped to Your ear, waiting patiently to hear the melodies of praise from our hearts. I praise You that You use the Holy Spirit as Your tuning fork to fine-tune us for Your service. Your harmony is the sweetest when played on those instruments that lay closest to Your feet. May we be so close to Your feet that we always hear Your Still Small Voice.~~


Monday, January 10

Ah, Sweet Freedom!

What comes to your mind when you think of freedom? How about…

*free with no curfews
*free with no restrictions
*free to go where you please
*free to be with whomever you desire
*free to do what you want when you want
*free with no strings attached to anyone or anything

If we follow after these, are we truly free? The truth is that the world gives us a false perception of freedom. It leads us down a dark path, sometimes with no return.

So, what is freedom? Part of the dictionaries’ definitions says that it means exemption from the power and control of another, not in bondage.

Jesus died to release use from our bondage to the enemy, “For He has rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and brought us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who bought our freedom with His blood and forgave us all our sins.” (Col. 1:13-14 TLB)

If Jesus disentangled us from the enemy’s web of bondage, then we need to heed Paul’s advice to the Galatians, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1 NKJV)

Therefore, freedom does not mean free to do what one pleases. We cannot go back into sinful ways. As Peter said, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16 NIV)

Freedom is never free; there is always a cost. Somewhere along the line, someone had to pay for whatever freedom we enjoy. Just as many have lost their lives in service to this country to give us physical freedom from our tangible enemies, so Jesus gave His life to give us spiritual freedom from our invisible enemy...for eternity!

God sent Jesus to free us from sin, as the Word says, “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” (Rom. 6:14 NLT)

We cannot keep returning for a taste of the world, like nibbling on appetizers. Pretty soon, we find ourselves eating a full meal of it, all the way through to dessert, and paying a dear price for it.

When we accept the Christian life, we welcome a new form of rule into our lives. I know, sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Free when controlled. It is freedom from the world and freedom in the Lord.

Paul told the Colossians, “You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world?” (Col. 2:20 NLT)

Only when we are under control of the Holy Spirit are we then truly free, as Paul said, “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor. 3:17 NLT)

When we know true freedom in Christ, we are then released to be all that God created us to be as we follow that True Path God has designed for us, which is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

The disciple John wrote, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:36 NLT) But do we place our lives totally in His hands, trusting and depending on Him to have authority over us? How free are we?

We should again heed Paul’s words to the Galatians, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Gal. 5:14 NLT)

My prayer for you all: “Dear friends, God the Father chose you long ago and knew you would become His children. And the Holy Spirit has been at work in your hearts, cleansing you with the blood of Jesus Christ and making you to please Him. May God bless you richly and grant you increasing freedom from all anxiety and fear.” (1 Peter 1:2 TLB)


Friday, January 7

Stepping into the Unknown

A new Year. A new beginning. A new unknown territory.

A scary journey at times. I wonder...will I have the courage to step out into the unknown as Abraham did...

“He went without knowing where he was going.” (Heb. 11:8b NLT)

As I stand here with my toes on the threshold of the New Year, positioned on the border of unknown territory, I know that God knows where He and I are going. Do I then go forward in faith’s victory to possess this New Year...or remain frozen in victim’s defeat, allowing it to possess me?

A myriad of challenges will confront me each day. How will I handle them?

As Jesus once said to a man whom He was about to heal, “Step forward.” (Mark 3:3b NKJV) Will I step forward believing and trusting for the answer to that which I need, remembering what God has done for me in the past? Or will I hang back in the shadows afraid to move ahead, forgetting God’s providence?

Just as God told Isaiah, He says you and me, “Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like Me.” (Is. 46:9 NLT)

God will again make His provisions available in the New Year for it is in His plan for each of us. He says, “I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jer. 29:11 Msg)

However, His plan will only unfold daily, as we trust Him for each step.

As God led every step of the Israelites’ journey to the new land, so He still leads us today. When we take those wobbly steps into the unknown, what will this new land hold for us?

We may encounter...

* joys unspeakable
* smooth paths of guidance
* lush pastures of provision
* varied hilltop experiences
* spiritual blessings in abundance

However, we may also encounter...

* desert dryness
* valley mists and fogs
* wilderness wanderings
* gremlins hiding behind bushes
* paths with potholes and pitfalls
* steep uphill climbs and dangerous downhill slides

Challenges will meet us at every turn; some easier to handle than others. But God will work in all the ups and downs of those trials, heartaches, and blessings.

He does this for us because of His compassion and mercy. Jeremiah tells us, “Yet there is one ray of hope: His compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness; His loving-kindness begins afresh each day.” (Lam. 3:21-23 TLB)

Be assured that no matter what happens on your journey this year, He is the source of your fresh mercies every morning. He will never fail you. He will walk by your side along each rocky bend in the road and carry you through each heartache and loss.

God will see you through to the end of next year. Will you live as Abraham...“By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country.” (Heb. 11:9a NKJV)

We live our outward days on earth as in a foreign country, for we abide in God’s Kingdom of promise within us. Therefore, each day brings a new threshold into eternity. How can we not welcome it with willing feet and open arms?

I am ready to step into the journey of each new day of this year, greeting each one in faith and with God’s mercy.

How about you? Are you ready? How will you greet the challenges of your new journey?

I’m finishing this post with a different twist...a quote from Dr. Seuss, with one word change...

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your [journey] is waiting,
So...get on your way!”

May each day, though filled with a trial, bring you a smile and a blessing!

**This post is part of Christian's Writers blog chain. Please visit the other posts listed in the sidebar. Thanks!**


Tuesday, January 4

New Year's Blessings

As all of you readers are precious to me, this is my New Year’s prayer and blessing for each of you...

I pray health and peace will greet you and your family at every turn of the New Year. May blessings overtake you, as God’s servants Goodness and Mercy pursue you throughout the days to come.

May the Lord’s shadow of forgiveness be thrown over the disappointments and troubles of the year now closed, while His Light is cast as a beacon of guidance to His safe haven of the days yet to be explored.

May you lean more upon your Beloved’s breast to seek His presence, just to be near Him, than to seek His handouts.

May you know the presence of the great Immanuel, God with you, every second of every day.

May the answers to your prayers be swift and understood. May your obedience to the Holy Spirit be greater than the year closing.

May the Lord “make you have a surplus of prosperity” and “open to you His good treasury.” (Deut. 28:11a, 12a Amp) May He “bless you in all the work of your hands.” (Deut. 24:19b Amp)

May His eyes be upon your household from the beginning of the year until the end of the year. And may the sounds of joy fill every room of your house.

May you know your Beloved Lord better at the end of this new year than you did at the end of last year.

Each of you is a special instrument that is being fine-tuned for great service - to play beautiful music for the Master Conductor. You must first learn to be through much practice before you can learn to do that which He strikes at the cords of your heart to do for Him.

He uses only those instruments that are in tune with His great purposes. His harmony is the sweetest when played on the instruments that lay closest to His feet. And I know that you sit adoringly at His precious feet - in true devotion and affection, in true worship and praise. All will be well. He loves you.

“Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 Amp)

May you see great glory in your household in the New Year!

From my heart to yours...


Monday, January 3

I Dare You to Change book tour

Today, I bring you an interview with Bil Cornelius, the author of I Dare You to Change. If you’d like a chance to win a copy of the book, be sure to leave a comment at the end of this post.

Q: What was your inspiration when writing your new book, I Dare You to Change?

My inspiration was actually desperation to change myself. All of us have areas we need to change, yet few make the changes they want. Making this even worse is the fact that those who do change, when asked, give us a humble platitude for how they did it like, “well, I’m just lucky,” or “you know, God is just good to me.”

Those are both true for the changed individual, but I guarantee they also had a plan in place and they worked their plan. I wanted to take the mystery out of life change without taking the miracle out with it.

Q: Why do you think God places promises beyond a person’s current reach?

God is interested in our growth more than our comfort. One of the biggest reasons why God gives us dreams bigger than our abilities is so we have to depend upon Him for their accomplishment. Another phrase I use often is people use people to get tasks done, but God uses tasks to get people done! He gives you an assignment bigger than you are for one reason only…to grow you.

Q: How can a person protect herself/himself from slipping back into old habits?

The best protection from moving backwards is to always be moving forwards! This is why setting new goals is a continuing process…or, as the Bible says, we go from glory to glory! Accountability is important as well as a strong routine, but nothing takes the place of forward movement!

Q: How does someone go about changing their life when they feel so overwhelmed?

The first step when wanting to change something in your life, especially if overwhelmed, is to pray and break it down into bite-size chunks of change. The prayer part is obvious, but most people don’t do it. Prayer releases God’s confidence in you, so you have the vision and power from God to move forward.

What comes next is a good strategy: if something is overwhelming you, it’s typically because we are thinking of changing everything at once (or one really large change) rather than breaking into a series of smaller changes.

You may not be able to own a high rise in New York City, but you can buy a small fixer-upper home, work on it, get it rented, and then do it again. If you are consistent enough with this, within a few years you can sell it, take your profits, and reinvest them into a 4 to 6 unit.

Sell this a few years later and you can invest into a 15 to 20 unit. Sell this a few years later and reinvest into a small office building. Sell this…you get the point. It’s all about taking baby steps first. Another angle is if you want to lose 50 pounds, lose 5 first and keep going.

Q: You write that encouragement is important. Who has been your greatest encourager?

My greatest encouragers vary, but the most consistent are the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and my wife Jessica. My time with God keeps me going, and when I’m stuck, nothing can replace a loving example and encouraging word that comes from my closest friend in the universe, Jessica. She always knows just what to say when I need it.

* Click here to see the book trailer.

* I Dare You to Change website

* For a sample chapter, click here.

* Click here to purchase the book at Amazon.