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14 Dec – Answers

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Today I had a conversation with our two youngest children. They were asking me that if something doesn’t happen immediately after you pray does that mean it hasn’t happened or is it that you just can’t see it and you need to keep believing?

We talked about several different instances in the bible where Jesus spoke into situations or to people and what happened as a result. We deduced that God doesn’t always repeat what He has done before in answer to our requests and prayers. He will quite possibly do something different each time. Plus just because we can’t physically see something happening right away, does not mean that there is nothing happening!

Sometimes the answer is instantly obvious, such as when Jesus and his disciples found themselves in the middle of a furious storm. Jesus got up and spoke to the wind and the waves and they died down and were completely calm.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:37-40)

Yet other times when Jesus spoke into a situation nothing immediately and visibly seemed to change. An example is when Jesus and his disciples were walking along the road and Jesus was hungry and came to a fig tree that had no fruit. He spoke to the fig tree and said, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again”. The fig tree however didn’t suddenly shrivel up instantly before Jesus and his disciple’s eyes. No! Nothing visibly looked like it had changed; yet on returning the next morning along “that road again they all saw the fig tree had withered from the roots. “Peter remembered and said to Jesus “Rabbi, look! The tree you cursed has withered!” (Mark 11:14; 20-21)

So often when we pray or receive prayer we can miss what God is doing or give up on our faith because we underestiamte what God is doing behind the scenes or beneath the surface, and we can mistakenly presume nothing has happened.

But Jesus’ example in prayer teaches us that:

1. It’s by faith that we receive the things we speak and ask for. Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of believing and faith. He encouraged them after seeing the result and power of faith filled words to “Have faith in God, and “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22-24).

If we lack faith the bible says to seek God and His way of doing things, and to build our confidence in His ability by hearing and speaking His word. His word and He are one, and it’s powerful when it gets down on the inside of us, and we allow it to transform us from the inside out.

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”(Romans 10:17)

2. Things don’t always happen the same way twice. Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and you’ll soon discover that Jesus didn’t always pray, speak and minister exactly the same way. Sometimes He just spoke the Word, sometimes He spoke and then physically did something such as when he put mud on people’s eyes, or even spat on them.

Seek God for His methods and way of working in each situation you face, rather than acting in presumption.

3. The answer to our prayer is not always immediately visible. The fig tree looked like any other fig tree even after Jesus had spoken to it. Yet at Jesus’ spoken word something had began to change. That tree beneath the surface, at it’s core and root had begun to shrivel up. Jesus’ words and faith had already worked, but it was only the next morning that the disciples were able to “see it”.

When you pray or receive prayer for something don’t look simply in the physical realm for evidence of your answer. Stand believing in the truth of God’s word and the effective power of your prayer, knowing that “whatever we ask for in prayer will be ours if we continue to believe and speak God’s word”. (Mark 11:22-24)

Today, be encouraged that when you pray God will be working. Even if you can’t see anything physically, don’t underestimate that He will be working behind the scenes, at the root of the issue, and on the inside of us. Take heart and trust in God’s faithfulness and goodness, as you praise Him for your answers.

Prayer: Lord thankyou that at your word things change, and that even if I can’t see the changes, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Help me to stand on your word, and to keep speaking and believing in your promises until I fully receive in every way. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

13 Dec – The Power Of Perseverance

 

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Perseverance is persistence, tenacity and the effort required to do something and keep believing even when it’s hard.

The bible talks about perseverance and that persevering in our faith produces steadfastness. When this “steadfastness has its full effect it says it’s so, “that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4;12)

Learning to persevere in life and in our faith is an important part of living the life God has planned for us. When we fail to persevere through difficulties, setbacks or things we may be afraid of or find challenging we will be far more prone to keep giving up, which is not something God wants for us. He doesn’t give up, He remains faithful and He always says, “Keep going, keep running your race, keep believing and keep moving forward with me.” That’s because He wants us to fulfil the purpose for which He made us so that we would be able to live the full and overflowing life that He has planned and desires for us.  Plus we also have a great cloud of witnesses in heavenly places who cheer us on and encourage us to keep persevering. ((John 10:10;Hebrews 12:1-2)

Today I encourage you to keep running your own particular race in pursuit of all that you desire. God has a dream and destiny for all of us and will strengthen us to hold steady as we persevere until we reap a harvest. Hang in there, keep the vision before you and just keep running..

Prayer: Lord please strengthen and encourage me today to persevere so that at the appointed time I will reap the reward of not quitting. Thankyou that I can do all things because you give me strength. In Jesus name Amen.

12 Dec – Decide What Is Non-Negotiable!

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If we want to succeed in life we will need to have things in our lives which are non-negotiable. By non-negotiable I mean they are not open to discussion or modification, but are things that are an essential feature of who and what we do and are.

But in a world where so many things are said to be fluid and open for negotiation, choosing to live by a set principles, beliefs and habits is often seen to be an unusual. It is however the way that many of the most successful and influential people throughout history have chosen to live. Take for example every elite athlete who trains everyday. Their habit of exercise and practicing their skills daily is a non-negotiable in their life, and because of their consistency it helps them reach the top of their game. Or the top business people, musicians, artists, academics, leaders in their field and those who hold positions of influence and power; all of them, if you study their lives have daily habits, convictions and principles that they live by on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, year in and year out.

However when we choose to live with these things that are non-negotiable  we best be prepared for them to at times become an inconvenience to us, because we will inevitably have to choose to be consistent and resist the temptation to go along with everyone else, which perhaps will set us at odds with those around us. When others are wavering on their truths, beliefs and disciplines, we’ll have to decide as to whether we will respond in the face of peer pressure and inconvenience or stick to our convictions.

Today what are the non-negotiables in your life? What principles, beliefs and habits do you hold to and consistently live by?

Do you live by a certain moral code, live with integrity; do you follow what God says in His word regarding honesty, lifestyle, relationships and how to conduct yourself?

Do you have certain habits and routines that you practice daily, that over time will help you succeed and attain your goals?

Because how we choose to live and the practices we make a habit and part of our daily routine will invariably determine our success, the depth of our relationships, the quality of our walk with God and the fulfilment of our dreams.

Today decide what your non-negotiables are; pray and ask for God’s help to hold true to them and then go out and live them.

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise….understand what the Lord wants you to do”(Ephesians 5:15;17 NLT)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”(Romans 12:2)

Prayer: Lord please help me to stick to my convictions and healthy habits so that they become my non-negotaibles, which will help lead me to success in every area of my life. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

11 Dec – Strengthen Your Imagination

We possess both physical eyes to see into the natural world as well as spiritual eyes, which can enable us to see the future and spirit realm.

There are over 400 scriptures in the Bible referring to imaginations, dreams and visions and our imaginations can be an “on ramp” into heavenly places.

The Greek word for mind in is this passage is “dianoia” (dee-an-oy-ah) or imagination; the centre of power in our mind.

First Peter 1:13 tells us, “Gird up the loins of your mind.” Loins (which involves the centre back muscles, are regarded as the centre of physical strength and power.)When we gird up the “Loins of our mind” we strengthen our imagination.

God gave Abraham a vision of the stars of the sky and told him he would have many descendants (Gen. 15:5), and that produced faith in Abraham’s heart (Gen. 15:6).

It was an example of godly imagery, where Abraham girded up the loins of his mind – his imagination to see what God saw, which produced faith in Him.

There’s a saying a picture is worth a 1000 words, so when we see something, it has the power to change us much more than when we simply think a thought. 

Today don’t fix your thoughts and imagination on problems, defeat and worry.  That uses your imagination to empower fear and anxiety. Use it instead to magnify the bigness of God and begin to imagine all that God will do in your life. Take the scriptures and promises He has given you and imagine and dream with them.  Whatever He has put in your heart to do – picture that!

Prayer: Lord thank you for my imagination. Help me to see what you see and to gird up my mind and strengthen it with your thoughts, visions  and plan for my life.  I picture good things for my life knowing that all things are possible in you. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

 

 

10 Dec – Holding Steady

I’ve been thinking about how important it is to hold steady. Especially when things in our lives get busy, out of balance, we come under pressure or face anything else that might cause our world to become unhinged.

As I was contemplating this I came to the conclusion that as long as we are anchored to something steady and reliable we will ourselves remain steady. It’s much like a sailing boat which has a sail designed to catch the wind. Without the sail up a boat gets buffeted about by the wind and the waves and doesn’t really go anywhere fast. Yet when the sails are in place and the boat is facing the right direction it catches the wind and travels where the sailor wishes it to go. However an important part of the whole process isn’t just about the sails being up, but also what the sail is attached to. On every vessel there is a vertical pole called a mast and a horizontal pole called a boom which the main sails are anchored to. If the sail isn’t anchored properly to the mast or the boom it will flap about in the wind and do very little, and more than likely cause injury to those on board. Yet when the sails are anchored firmly to both the mast and the boom they are able to catch the wind and travel at amazing speeds across the water.

When things feel out of our control and we feel buffeted about by the “winds of life” there is something we can do to steady our world. The key is to know what our anchor points in life are. For me Jesus and what He says in His word are my mast and my boom is knowing and walking inmy purpose. If I keep my focus and heart anchored on Jesus and my purpose I know I will be okay because all my choices are anchored on a firm foundation and everything I do and am is attached to those points. As the wind of opportunity and God’s hand on my life moves and blows I can simply catch the wind and enjoy the ride.

Today I encourage you to secure your “sails” to firm anchor points so that you might have a firm foundation to hold you steady as you catch the wind and travel forward into your destiny.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.” (Psalm 62:2)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you are in control and in you all things hold together. Please help me to have the wisdom to know who and what my anchor points are and to secure my life to those things, so that I am not buffeted around by life but instead will catch the wind in my sails. In Jesus name Amen

9 Dec – Have Courage

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The bible repeatedly refers to courage and also to be of “good cheer”, as in Mark 6:50 when Jesus gave the command to the disciples when they saw Him walking on the water and started freaking out.

“Because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Mark 6:50)

The Greek word courage and good cheer literally means “boldness and confidence” In God’s terms courage is the opposite of fear.

Personally I have had to learn to be courageous. As a child I was very timid. I wasn’t particularly brave and was often scared of doing anything new or that took me out of my comfort zone. I missed out on a lot being like that, and it is the motivation which causes me to encourage our own children and those I get the opportunity to share with, to not live in fear but to be courageous.

I’ve discovered that fear limits; it steals, and it squeezes the life out of us. Instead of running towards life and trying and experiencing new things, fear causes us to run and hide, always stepping backwards or sideways instead of forwards.

Being courageous is a gift. It’s a gift we receive when we realise how much we are loved and cared for by God. The more we understand the depth of His love for us the more courageous we become. That knowledge increases as we spend time with Him, as we pray, as we read His word and as we learn all His promises for us.

Courage also increases from being filled with the Holy Spirit and His power, and knowing that the one who is with us is greater than any adversary or threat. Plus we have a myriad of angels who are ready and waiting to assist us.

For He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4)

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14)

When I started to understand and spend time with God I realised I didn’t have to fear because He really is with me. He strengthens me when I am weak, He gives me words to speak when I have none; He releases wisdom, boldness  and power to walk wherever He asks me to go. I know angels go wherever I go, and they have my back at all times. They’re my helpers!

Today if you are lacking courage, don’t be afraid. Be of good cheer because God, when you ask Him into your life promises that He will be with you; to help, to strengthen and to enable you to do whatever you need to do. Where you lack strength He says He is strong in us. Where you lack wisdom He says ask and He will give it. Where you are timid He says He will make you bold.

Courage is a gift that is available to all of us. Its just takes knowing who we are, and who is on our side. Today “Be of good courage, do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. (Joshua 1:9)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you promise that when I invite you into my life you will never leave me. Help me to understand your promises, and to take the time to know and you  because courage is found in knowing how much you love and care for me; and understanding that there are resources from heaven available to me. Help me to be courageous today.  In Jesus name Amen

 

 

 

8 Dec – Facing The Pain

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While this time of the year is a joyous time of celebration, it can for many people also expose pain. Unfortunately many times when we feel pain rather than seeking to find the root of the pain and a solution we instead look for a sedative or numbing agent. These can be different things for different people. Some seek drugs, alcohol, relationships, keeping busy and any other distraction they can think of to escape facing the pain.

But whether we like it or not pain serves an important purpose and role in our lives by alerting us to injuries such as a physical injury or an emotional, mental or spiritual hurt. That’s because the correcting purpose of pain tells us that something is wrong. If we didn’t feel pain, we wouldn’t know we were sick or suffering and therefore wouldn’t seek an answer and cure for our pain.

The thing I continually discover about experiencing pain is that God can work in and through our lives in the midst of suffering if we allow Him into that space. Our painful experiences He can and will use in us to heighten our senses and to give us a greater awareness of our need for healing and to get to the root of issues, and it also can remind us of the more important things in life: of our need for God, for love, family, hope and what our purpose is. It can increase our strength, resolve, resilience, endurance, maturity, and empathy for others.

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

Today be encouraged that no matter what you may be facing or have been through not to be afraid of facing the pain. You are never alone in that space for God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us and that He will perfect all that concerns us. Jesus knows what it is to suffer even unto death, to be beaten, misunderstood and rejected and He will help you work through your pain and lift the burden off your shoulders to bring you peace.

Rather than trying to numb or medicate our suffering lets choose to face the pain and any of its scars. Jesus is right there ready and waiting to help us through, and if we allow Him He will work gently within us and help make us whole again.

He (Jesus) was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. As we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised and we did not esteem him. Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows. Yet we esteemed him stricken smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him and by his stripes we are healed.”(Isaiah 53:3-5)

Prayer: Lord please help me to face any pain I feel in life so that with you I can work through the cause and be healed inside and out. In Jesus name Amen.

7 Dec – Why Would You Want Me?

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We all know our our own shortcomings, failures and bad habits and if truth be told we can often be afraid that if someone else gets too close they will see these things and then have every reason to reject us.

Because of that we ask ourselves ourselves. “Why would anyone want to have anything to do with me if they really knew what I was like?” Yet  God doesn’t seem to take what we may think of ourselves into account when He comes knocking. The list of those who stand out as being what we might think an unusual choice for God to even notice, let alone use to do amazing things in and through their lives, is endless.

Just picking up a bible will reveal that God doesn’t just look at what people do or even achieve. We often are prone to look at outward appearances; how smart, attractive, clean living, successful, and even “spiritual” people are, yet that doesn’t seem to be all that God sees when you examine some of the accounts of the men and women who became friends of God. Men like Abraham who was a pagan, sun worshipper who God called to follow Him, Rahab, the town prostitute who not only slept around, but got paid for it; King David who one minute was playing worship songs out in the fields and the next minute can be found committing adultery with a woman which resulted in her getting pregnant, and then organising to have her actual husband killed in battle to cover his own tracks. Mary Magdalene who was demonically afflicted, Zacchehus who was a thief and a cheat, Peter who was a loud, bumbling fisherman, and a crazy possessed man who hid naked in a cemetery. (Gen 12; 2 Sam 11:1-27; Joshua 2; Luke 8:1-3; Luke 19:1-10; Matt 14:18-22; Mark 56:1-20)

All these people were not the type you would expect God to want or choose to use to do great things and yet their stories and lives are recorded as being exactly whom and what God wanted. Why? Simply because God looks not only at the things we do and appear to be, but He also looks at our hearts. The condition of our hearts is what is most important to Him and all He asks is, “Do you want me, and the life I have to offer you?”

Because He offers it with an outstretched hand for us to walk with Him step by step. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, or to never make a mistake, but simply to do our very best to follow after and get to know Him, and to then learn from Him how to live the abundant life He wants for us. (John 10:10)

The choice is ours everyday, even if it feels like a risk, to not keep questioning and beating ourselves up about our failings but instead to choose to follow Him; because to put it very simply, He does want us!

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height.. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT)

Prayer: Jesus even though sometimes its difficult to understand why you would want me, I’m choosing to believe you do, because you gave up your life for me. Help me to choose the life you offer me and then please help me to walk with you everyday. In Jesus name Amen.

 

6 Dec – Five Things For Success

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Those close to me will know that this year has been a particularly difficult one in numerous areas of my life. Sometimes life throws curve balls, not everybody is kind, stuff happens and change is inevitable.

However we are what we focus and think upon and it’s in what we determine to do everyday that will see us not only walk through the valleys, but also will enable us to come out the other side stronger, wiser and with our dreams intact.

There are no surprises for God and whatever we may face, you can be sure He has a plan, process and way through.

One key I’ve repeatedly discovered is to be consistent, for its, “in consistency that the power lies to overcome”.

In determining to be more consistent it’s helpful to choose five things to consistently do everyday that will help you remain focused on the future, encourage you to activate your faith and will fix your attention and what you are speaking and thinking, off the problem and onto God and His solution.

An example of these five things  that I try to do everyday are:

  1. To pray and read God’s Word everyday – We find God and who He is when we read His words. The bible is a living book and God and His Word are one. It’s His guidebook to us for living; how to walk in wisdom, overcome and find our purpose and destiny. (2 Tim 3:16; Prov 4:20-22)
  2. To exercise – it relieves stress and will cause us to feel better about ourselves. People who exercise regularly are more positive, confident and solution focused. (1 Cor 3:16-17)
  3. To listen to positive faith-filled messages – faith comes by hearing and so what we hear is vitally important to our success and achieving all that God has for us. Feed what you want to develop in your life and starve what you don’t. (Romans 10:17)
  4. To read – Reading increases our understanding, knowledge and confidence. There is wisdom in much counsel so gain knowledge from the best and take your talent and make it a skill by gaining knowledge and understanding (Prov 15:22)
  5. To think, declare and visualise the direction you wish to take and the dream God has put in your heart.As a man thinks so shall he be.” (Prov 23:7) What we “see” will create in us a vision for the future, which will then help us decide how to live today.

Today I encourage you to stop, pray and ask God to help you define the 5 things that you can put into action in your life.

Then determine that you will consistently do these 5 things everyday to help you achieve your dreams, ensure you keep running even when the going gets tough and which will cause you to have success.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Prayer: Lord I know the plans your have for my life are good. Please help me to put into action those things that will help me achieve and see the dreams you have placed in my heart come to pass. Please fill me with your strength and the capacity to be consistent in all I do and am today. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

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