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December 2020

31 Dec – A Brand New Year

A brand new year is ahead of us, but before we step into it, right now would be a good time to stop and assess what we are planning on taking with us into the New Year.

What hopes, dreams and goals are we carrying forward, and what baggage, weights, and burdens are we still dragging along with us that we need to drop off?  

Everyone who has a heartbeat has life, but God wants more tha for us to be just breathing. Jesus came to give us fullness and abundant life “(John 10:10) The Greek word translated “life” is ZOE. It’s a small Greek word with a significant meaning.

Zoe is not just being alive but also experiencing a real and genuine life that is overflowing, active and vigorous. To be devoted to God, blessed in this world and with confidence and expectation of eternity spent with Jesus. 

God wants us to experience life as He intended it to be. Jesus came to save people from the torment of eternal hell and give a God-kind of life in abundance. It’s not just waiting for people when they die and go to heaven, but for right now.

However, it’s our choice. If you have asked Jesus into your life, then LIFE (ZOE) has been deposited in your spirit. But our souls, thoughts, emotions, and, consequently, our actions need that God kind of life always flows into them. The world’s way is not God’s idea of life.

You can release this ZOE life and enjoy it now. One way you do that is by letting go of your old habits and any thoughts, emotions, or actions which are contrary to God’s Word. You let go of disappointments, un-forgiveness, bitterness, hurts and lack and immerse yourself in what God says in His word. It’s in spending time in His presence, being with others who want His life too, and in acting upon what He says every day.

I encourage you to take an inventory of how you have been living. What do you want more of and how do you want your future to look?

Ask yourself honestly if you are merely existing, and if so, do you want God’s abundant and overflowing life instead?

Take some time today to assess and to let go of any baggage. Make plans, seek after God, and start running into the New Year.

Hebrews 12:1 in the Bible says” Let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings and entangles us, and let us run….
Looking away from all that will distract us to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith”.

But one thing I do, forgetting those thing which are behind and reaching forward to those thing which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 3:12-14)

Prayer: Lord, thank you for all that you have done in my life over the past year. Please help me assess my life and see where I need to offload baggage and show me what to focus upon to look forward to the future. In Jesus name Amen.

30 Dec – One Word For The Year

There is real power in focus and honing our attention on what is important. It gives us direction and acts as a compass to guide us when we become confused, weary or distracted.

A helpful key to assisting me in keeping focused on the things that truly matter and on which to anchor my actions is choosing one word for the year. I place it on my vision board alongside all that I want to achieve for the year as a daily visual reminder. My vision and goals then get filtered through this one word. If my word was freedom, then my plans are directed to find freedom – financial freedom, spiritual freedom, emotional freedom etc. One word helps me stay focused on my goals.

I’ve discovered that having a particular word for each year also helps define what God wants me to concentrate on each day. It takes faith and courage to not go through our days merely existing, but to live with a purpose and joy, whilst making a positive difference in the world.

Having a word for the year where we have inquired after and are listening to God about what He wants us to focus and grow in, helps us filter all of our lives through His “One Word” for us and help us not get off course discouraged.

I love the apostle Paul’s passionate words about what his life was all about. Paul said, “For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognising and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly]” (Philippians 3:8 AMP)

Paul lived an amazing, exciting, meaningful life. Regardless of the high and lows, he remained steadfast and fulfilled His calling. And as a result, he was able to say towards the end of his life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Today I encourage you to take steps to utilise the simple and powerful tool of identifying “One Word” for the coming year. Ask God to help and to reveal it to you by asking the question, “What do you want to do in me and through me this year? Then write down what comes to your mind and heart.

One word can change and transform everything. Keep it where you can see it as a regular reminder and share it with those who will support you as you live your “One Word” out this New Yeare. 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for vision and a focus for the year ahead. Please help me discover my one word so I can make the most of every day and opportunity. In Jesus Name Amen.

29 Dec – Share Your Real Story

In recent years, celebrities and influencers have chosen to post images and stories of what their lives are like behind the scenes. They’re revealing their world, and that it isn’t always about leading some glamorous lifestyle that they and the media have previously portrayed.

Shooting behind the scenes and choosing to be real; without filters, makeup, expensive clothes, and editing can make people feel vulnerable, which is something most of us would avoid at all costs. Primarily, because being vulnerable exposes us to the risk of being attacked, harmed, and misunderstood somehow.  

Most people don’t have millions of followers on social media or people interested in their every comment or photo, but that doesn’t change that fact that we want to portray a particular image and narrative about our lives to the rest of the world. Even when we have a win or breakthrough in our lives, we often shy away from sharing it with others, because we fear what they may think or we like to keep our lives private. Sadly, this can lead people who are struggling or who have been through trauma or heartache to believe that no one will understand what they are going through, as everyone around them tends to make their lives appear perfect.

But it’s powerful when people choose to share what they have travelled through and overcome. It gives hope, inspiration, reminds us of God’s power and goodness and the product of not giving up.

The challenge is allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to share when it’s personal or has been a hidden problem or hurt. Jesus however encourages us to tell our story, as he told the man who he’d delivered from a demon and radically changed his life to “return home and declare how much God has done for you“. The man went away proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done and no doubt helped and encouraged a whole lot of people in the process. (Luke 8:39)

Today be encouraged by the testimony of those who have overcome difficulties and seen God move mountains in their lives. God is no respecter of persons but faith. What he’s done for one he’ll do for another. (Romans 2:11)  Likewise, if you have something to share with others, don’t be afraid to tell your story as it might be the catalyst for a breakthrough in someone else’s life.  

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.” (Psalm 105:1)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Prayer: Lord, thank you for all that you have done and are doing in my life. Please help me be bold enough to share with others when I have a breakthrough and draw encouragement from others and your Word. In Jesus name Amen

28 Dec – Time For Transition

Transition by definition is the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. It is often uncomfortable, and we can even feel lost when faced with such seasons in life. That’s because transition involves change, adjustments and movement.

Even when something we desire, such as meeting someone, getting married, travelling, having children, studying, or stepping into a new role or career path, changes to take us to the next phase of our life must occur, and that can be not easy. They force us from the familiar and into the unknown, and if we are not self-aware we can resist or feel very unsure and hesitant about what we are going through and whether we even want to “go there”.

To help us transition its helpful to identify why we may be feeling resistant and take time to face these concerns. Often, it’s just like we don’t know what will happen next, and want to stay in our comfort zone rather than face the unknown challenge. Other reasons for resistance can be holding onto things, or we would rather live in yesterday’s familiar than step into what God has for us next.

Transition, however, is an inevitable part of life. It’s something we must learn to accept as graciously as possible. It’s helpful also to remember that God is in the midst of all our lives if we allow Him to be. He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between, and He only wants the best for us. If God changes or adjusts something, it is to get something good to us. Instead of fighting the transition process, He encourages us to look at the positives, embrace the process, move forward and keep going until we are on steadier ground.

Today if you are facing, or are in the midst of transition, take some time to examine your concerns and talk to God about them. Then choose to look for the positives in the changes you are facing, knowing that when you put God in charge of the steps you take, He will safely guide you through every change, transition and adjustment you’ll ever have to go through, whilst getting you securely to the other side.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)

Prayer: Lord, please help me trust you with every season of my life and the inevitable transitions I must go through. I want to keep growing and moving forward, so please help me look for the positives and keep going even when it gets hard or feel out of my comfort zone. In Jesus name Amen

27 Dec – How Are You Feeling?

When we are in touch with what we are feeling our emotions can reveal what’s hidden in our hearts and what we love, trust and fear.

God has an order to how He has created us in that He made us have feelings and emotions, but we are to be governed not by these feelings but by the truth of what He says about us and our lives.

He never planned for us to primarily allow our feelings to form our thoughts and responses about Him, our circumstances or our future. However, neither does he want us to live void of emotions and to feel nothing.

“Our emotions are designed to be gauges, not guides, and to report and not dictate to us. They help us discern how hopeful we are and highlight what we value and believe. If we are struggling to keep our emotions from leading us into places we’d best not go, or into pity parties, hissy fits, outbursts of anger, moodiness and depression, then there is a problem.

The problem arises when our emotions have stopped being gauges and have become our guides, and we grow accustomed to listening and being led by them. 

Instead, God calls us to be people who live life at a deeper level, continually feeding our spirits and who we are with whatever is beneficial and good for us. It’s from this place, with and in God that the issues of life spring, and it’s also where we discover how to love fully and walk in grace, humility, integrity, and peace.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the spring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Today, if you are struggling with your emotions, I encourage you to ask for God’s help to get in touch with what you are feeling and to put things in their proper order in your inner world. Seek God  for HIs wisdom, peace and guidance so that your emotions become a blessing  to enrich your life, rather than a stumbling block to your happiness. 

God gave us a spirit, not of fear but power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Prayer: Lord, please help me keep you at the centre of who I am and what I think, feel and act. That my feelings will be a gauge to my heart’s condition to help me understand how I am feeling, but that your truth would be my guide as to how I respond and live today. In Jesus name amen

 

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26 Dec – You Are Loved

One of the things I love about my husband, Philip, is how generous he is with his six children and grandchildren. He freely gives his time and finances to do whatever he can to bless them.

This week our youngest daughter Shontelle is enjoying her Dad’s generosity. She is the youngest of our daughters and the only girl still living at home. One of her gifts for Christmas was a shopping trip, and Philip bravely asked how much she thought was a reasonable amount to spend. After much deliberation and her revealing she was hesitant to ask for what she wanted, they agreed upon an amount.

As Shontelle is the youngest of four girls, she has invariably received many hand-me-downs from her older sisters which she has appreciated and always graciously accepted.  However, this has also meant she has not always had the opportunity to explore and express her unique style and personality in the way she dresses. Shontelle shared this reasoning with her Dad, including her fear of appearing greedy or ungrateful.

I love what Philip did next as he gently told his beautiful 15-year-old baby girl that it wasn’t okay with him that she had so many hand-me-downs and didn’t feel her wardrobe was her own. He then agreed to give her the full amount she had requested and commended her on her attitude to ask rather than demand.

As we talked, I realized how often we feel the same way when asking anything of God – our heavenly Father. We can hesitate to speak honestly with Him, don’t even think to ask for what we desire, believe he’s too busy for us, expect a no or for him to not answer at all.

But just as Philip did everything to grant our daughters request, God the ultimate Father feels the same way about us. He is El-Shaddai – all-sufficient one, Abba Father and Papa.

He wants us to ask for what we desire and to be honest with Him about the things in our heart. The bible describes the Father’s love for us as lavish; meaning generous, extravagant and one who gives generously.  He gave up everything for us that we would enjoy full, overflowing abundant life so unless it’s detrimental to who we are and the destiny upon our life he promises that he won’t withhold any good thing from us.

As you look at the year ahead and all that is in your heart, remember that you have a good, good Father who extravagantly loves you and actively looks for ways to pour out His love upon you. Seek Him today, be honest, and “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full”. (John 16:24)

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” (1 John 3:1)

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord bestows favour and honour; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11 NIV)

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things.” (Romans 8:32)

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

Prayer: Lord, thank you that you are always seeking ways to bless and care for me. Please help me let go of any mindsets or hurts that might prevent me from seeing you as the loving, generous Father you are. I’m believing and asking for…..In Jesus name Amen.

25 Dec – Nothing Will Stop God’s Plan

One of the things I’ve discovered about God is that His plans won’t be thwarted – as in stopped or prevented. No matter what the situation God will be working behind the scenes and lining up things to come together at the appointed time. There may be difficulties, mistakes and even roadblocks along our journey but if we stick with God and continue to walk in faith and love, His plan and purpose for our lives will come to pass.

A great example of God’s plans not being stopped is the account of Jesus’ birth. No matter how immense the odds were against Jesus safely arriving God just kept on with his preparation and plan to save the world. Threats of stoning Mary as an adulteress, a confused Joseph who was going to quietly disconnect himself from Mary so she would have been left alone, and an unwed mother. A census which meant travelling heavily pregnant, no accommodation to give birth in and a murderous, jealous King intent on killing Jesus were all not enough to stop God’s plan to bring peace, hope and salvation to the world from happening.

When I read of the faith and tenacity of Mary and Joseph and the outworking of God’s plan I am encouraged because they were ordinary people entrusted with an extraordinary call on their lives. They chose to align themselves with God’s purpose and said, “yes” to His plan, trusting Him enough to step out in faith and believe what He had spoken.

Regardless of any efforts to undermine and destroy God’s plan to bring hope, joy and forgiveness to the world nothing could stop His purpose from being fulfilled. He won, and He is still winning because He also says He has plans for each one of us. Plans to give us a hope, plans not to harm us but to give us a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) Plans to do exceedingly more than we can ask or think or possibly imagine. Plans, which when He starts He will be faithful to complete. (Ephesians 3:20; Hebrews 13:8).

Today no matter where you have come from or may be going through, know that if you stay holding onto Jesus and keep walking in faith and love, His purpose and plan for your life cannot and will not be stopped. He is the same yesterday, today and forever and faithful to complete all that He has started in you. Bring your questions, requests, dreams, your heart’s desires to Him and trust that as you choose to seek Him and His ways first and to delight in Him with all your heart He will bring it to pass, because our plans when aligned with His plans will not be thwarted!

Prayer: Lord thank you that nothing can permanently stand in the way of your plan for my life as I keep walking with you in faith and love. There may be difficulties along the road but with you by my side I’m going to be okay. Help me to remember that today. In Jesus name amen

24 Dec – This Is The Day

It’s Christmas tomorrow and for many people it will be a very different from other Christmas’ as many people are still separated from their families, friends and loved ones.

To be honest I haven’t been looking forward to Christmas at all, as it’s the first time since our children were born that we won’t have the majority of our six kids around us to celebrate. Covid, job loss, delays in relocating and state border closures have created a Christmas like no other for our family.

However waking up early today I sensed Jesus wanted to encourage me. I heard Him whisper to my heart, “This is the Day…this is the day that the Lord has made, so rejoice in it.” Essentially I was getting a timely reminder that each and every day is a day that God has made for us. He wants us to choose to find joy in it because as we do we will overcome and be able to keep our joy no matter the circumstances. If God says we can rejoice in the day, then with his help we can or He wouldn’t ask.

So today I chose to be thankful for “this day”. I woke my husband and two youngest children up and we spent the next few hours at the beach enjoying a very early morning swim, then home to wrap presents and to enjoy the air conditioning on a 40 degree day. We prepared our Christmas Eve meal and tomorrow’s breakfast and chatted to three of our adult children on the phone, who are spending Christmas Eve together 4000 km’s away.

This Day, and every day we wake up is one God has made for us. Regardless of what may be happening around us, the important aspect to focus on is what is happening within us. Today I encourage you, as Jesus encouraged me this morning, to take a moment. Seek some perspective, give thanks, look at what you do have and endeavour to make the most of the day you’ve been given because,“This is the day the Lord has made;We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

Praying much blessing for you and your family. Merry Christmas.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Prov 3:5-6)

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

Prayer: Lord, thank you for this day that you have made. Please help me to find you in it and to rejoice and be glad today. In Jesus name Amen.

23 Dec – God Works All Things Together For Our Good

As I look back over the past year I am reminded of the verse in the bible that says, “We are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives.” (Romans 8:28 TPT)

God loves us and when we allow Him to get involved in our lives and circumstances He will work good out of them. It may sometimes look and feel terrible when we are travelling through it, but God seems to know how to work miracles out of our messes, make us stronger where we were once weak and bring light into our darkness.

It’s been a challenging year and at times most of us have probably wondered where the next “hit” was going to come from. Yet in amongst the difficulties there was and is Jesus. Jesus who remains constant, steady and sovereign and who promises He will work all things together for our good.

I’ve discovered over time that even if some of that good may take longer to become visible, it’s in the hidden places that God works to bring everything together for our benefit. It’s in the hard places that we are made to shine, much like a piece of coal becomes a diamond only when placed under extreme pressure and heat.

God does not orchestrate our difficulties, but He does promise to work in and through them and to bring fruitfulness through anything we journey through. That promise is regardless of what the world and the devil tries to throw or use against us.

Which is why we can face today, tomorrow and the New year with confidence. For even in the midst of crazy days we can and will triumph. We are more than conquerors; we are stronger than we think and there is nothing in the universe that can separate or weaken God’s love, care and concern for us. (Romans 8:37-39)

Today I encourage you to reflect on your year. Acknowledge the tough places, give any hurt and disappointments over to God, look for His hand of blessing upon your life and then rest assured that He has gone ahead to make a way. And remember if it’s not good yet, then He’s not done yet.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God who are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)

Jesus said, “And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33 TPT)

Prayer: Lord thank you for being with me every step of the way. I give you any hurts and disappointments and choose today to trust that you are working to bring good out of every circumstance and that there are better things ahead. In Jesus name amen

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