A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance.

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“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As a child, I spent countless hours at our family’s country house, ‘La Morita’. We would travel there every weekend with relatives and friends. The adults would play cards, dominoes or bingo in the evenings after a tasty home-made meal. All of the children would laugh often when sharing stories at the hammocks zone, play Marco Polo at the pool, ride horses in town or hike the mountains at sunrise.

I certainly miss ‘La Morita’. Those memorable times were filled with joy. I don’t remember experiencing any sadness then. Our families were united, loved one another, and were energized by fellowship, outdoor activities and mesmerized by the beauty of nature.

As I grew older, I soon realized life was not ‘picture perfect’. There are moments filled with contentment and other times filled with great distress, anger, emotional pain, grief and/or sorrow.

God promised to be right there with us thru it all – the fun, the boring, the best, the ugly and the worst times.

The Lord is our Refuge. He will never leave us nor forsake us. That is His promise.

When dad passed away, mom relocated back to our home country in South America. Since then, I have only seen her once. We don’t get to walk at the local park nor shop at ‘Sawgrass Mills’ Shopping Center anymore. It has been over two years since I last had a meal with mom at the table. I miss her voice, enthusiasm and most importantly her presence. I wish I could sit with you right now and share the details of my next trip to Florida. The truth is I may never be able to visit mom again and this is a reality I have recently come to terms with. I am in a season of loss, grief and sorrow indeed. It is time to weep, mourn and embrace the loss of mom’s current living situation, geographical distance and deteriorating health conditions.

Are you grieving at this moment, my friend? Are you reminiscing on ‘how’ your past circumstances are quite different than todays? Perhaps, you are facing an ‘unexpected’ loss and you are quite overwhelmed with the intensity and impact of the sudden challenge.

Do not be dismayed or broken-hearted, my friend.

We are in a season of grief but His mercies are new every morning. Today is filled with opportunities for us to briefly reminisce about the past then spend the rest of the time counting our blessings. We have been blessed for all the countless memories and unforgettable moments with our loved ones. They have left their ‘forever’ fingerprints on our minds, hearts and souls. My heart rejoices every time I think of mom.

Let us not dwell on the emotional distress or pain of our recent past. Let us acknowledge our loss, lament and journal our painful thoughts until we are comforted by His promises. Our Lord listens to our melancholic cries and painful thoughts and He comforts our shattered hearts over time.

We will dance once again as soon as our hearts are healed and restored.

Lord, there are so many seasons in our lives and some are difficult to process and get thru. I know we may be in the midst of a tough season. As we lament our losses, we know you are comforting us with your faithfulness, morning mercies and compassion … You hear all of our cries and wipe our tears away. You heal our brokenness and bind our deep wounds. You are our only Hope and Refuge. Turn the gaze of our hearts towards the beauty of all of your promises and fill our hearts with never-ending Hope.

Lord, I’m willing to embrace the new season in life. Spring is here! Flowers are blooming. I want to rejoice once again. Jesus, hold my hand and come with me and waltz together at the dance floor.

In Jesus’ name we boldly pray, Amen.

“You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,” Psalm‬ ‭10:17‬ ‭NIV

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm‬ ‭147:3‬ ‭NIV

“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm‬ ‭9:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm‬ ‭27:4‬ ‭NIV

Photo courtesy: Jared Weiss @ Splasher

A Steadfast Love

When reading the book of Hosea in preparation for an online Bible study, I was so overwhelmed that I did not finish the rest of the book that night. I immediately shut the Bible and sat in my recliner silently for a few minutes.

I was in shock the way the Holy Spirit convicted me.

The prophet, Hosea, was encouraged to marry Gomer, a prostitute. Gomer was promiscuous yet Hosea faithfully loved his beloved wife.  I was blown away by Hosea’s steadfast love.

Hosea 5: 4 highlighted the importance of acknowledging God in everyday pursuits. I was appalled when I was convicted of my sinful nature; ” … a spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord.” My initial thoughts were, “Me? not possible!”  yet I felt repugnant.  When I envisioned myself having ‘a spirit of an harlotry’, I was ashamed for grieving the Holy Spirit then.

In the book of Hosea, the ‘spirit of prostitution’ addressed Israel as a nation who had been unfaithful to the Lord, and disregarded His commands. The nation was corrupted and rebellious. Israel maintained a ‘spirit of prostitution’ when the people did not acknowledge the Lord.

A couple of years ago, the Holy Spirit had convicted me of excessive retail shopping. As much as I have been mindful of frivolous spending in the recent past, I continue to overindulge myself. I always find the best excuses such as, “I truly need this new tote for the upcoming trip.” In my most recent retail experience, I even messaged the retailer and encouraged her to ship the personalized item no later than the 10th of this month. I was precise and persuasive. I was a woman on a ‘lifestyle’ mission.

Have you ever been in pursuit of joy? Have you ever been in pursuit of satisfaction? I find both satisfaction and joy in retail therapy. Do you have a personal habit that you wish to break but have not been able to do so as of yet?

I realized how much I had grieved the Holy Spirit that afternoon. I had monogrammed another handbag for an upcoming trip. If you and I were having a late afternoon coffee break, I would have shared with you how much I love to shop. I spend time on the internet searching for beautiful totes. I am quite obsessed with totes, I admit. When I shop,  I forget about the reckless, spending habit and my unwillingness to change my desires. It sure is an ongoing struggle!

Every time I choose retail therapy, my soul is not fulfilled and it will never be. Nothing on this earth will fulfill my deepest longings. When I fail to pray, I am not relying on His comfort or rest. When I neglect His Word and do not step out in obedience, I am being rebellious. When I do not acknowledge His presence in today’s plan, I am being self-reliant and prideful. The book of Hosea convicted me of having a ‘spirit of a prostitution’ when I obsess over anything else for either joy, satisfaction or relief and disregard the Holy Spirit’s conviction.

Lord, please forgive me for not acknowledging your ways or stepping out in obedience.

The Lord will remain faithful in the midst of our sinful acts.

He wants for all of us to repent, change our careless ways and acknowledge His presence in all we do. “…Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:2-3 NIV)

Lord, please forgive me if I get so distracted by frivolous spending that it drives me away from your presence. I know I can be rebellious, disobedient, prideful or unwilling to change my selfish ways. I can be quite stubborn too.

Help me. Forgive me. Love me. Do not give up on me. You are a God of second chances.

I dislike having the ‘spirit of a prostitute’ but every time I pursue pleasure instead of God’s ways, I am exchanging His eternal perspectives for temporary ones. I am exchanging a Holy Beautiful lifestyle for a lustful lifestyle that may lead me astray.

Lord, I want to renew my mind and change my actions so I may pursue a Holy Beautiful Lifestyle always.  I pray I acknowledge you in everything I do, be prayerful and press on.

Jesus answered, “It is written: worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” (Luke 4: 8 NIV)

God is steadfast and His reckless love is bountiful.

Psalm 51: 1-12 (NIV)

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so  you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

In Jesus’ name I boldly pray, Amen.

Photo courtesy: Ornella Binni @ Splasher

Abide in Me

When life gets hectic, I have a choice whether to take the next step or honor a break. I can either slow down and pace myself or continue to hustle ‘non-stop’ all day long.

The Lord wants me to spend time with Him throughout the day, every day. I will bear fruit in everything I do when I rely on His wisdom and strength.

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

When I don’t rely on the Lord for His rest and wisdom, I am typically frustrated, exhausted or even ill at the end of the day. Has your energy ever been depleted at the end of the week? I literally crashed this past weekend. I was emotionally and physically spent. I felt overwhelmed, overly anxious, empty and had a headache for a couple of days. When I neglect the Lord, I typically rush thru my morning readings and fail to take short breaks throughout the day. I do not take time to pray when facing adversity.

This is a typical response of my self-reliant tendencies or should I say pride? I may be in such a rush that I can barely whisper at Him and say, “I’ve got this, Lord, I don’t need your help right now. Take a break and allow me to take the lead.” Who am I kidding? This attitude will not help me get too far ahead. I will not bear much fruit.

Our bodies react to life stressors when working under these conditions for a prolonged period of time without much rest. Cumulative stress has an adverse impact on our lives without a doubt. It affects us emotionally, physically and spiritually over time.

Let us be mindful of our time with the Lord so we may bear much fruit at the end of the workday and be able to manage stressors in a healthy manner.

I cannot accomplish much without Him. Even if it is an on-going struggle, I can never overlook this issue ever again.

Help me, Lord, to be wise with my schedule at work. I want to maintain a reasonable life balance so I may care for my mental, physical and spiritual well-being throughout the day. I need rest and frequent breaks to stop and meditate on your precious Word. I want to relax at the end of each day, dig deep in your Word, maintain good nutrition and sleep hygiene so I may not be burned out by the end of the week.

In Jesus’ name, I boldly pray.

Amen.

“LORD, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.” Jeremiah‬ ‭17:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation‬ ‭22:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”John‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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Enjoy The Process!

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the Heaven…He has made everything beautiful in its time…” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-2, 5 NIV‬‬

There will always be a season for a “fresh start” whether it is a new career, a church community, a job, a friendship or even a ministry. I delight in the freshness of ‘new beginnings’. When we embark on a new path, it is normal for us to expect favorable outcomes right away. In a world of instant gratification, I like for circumstances to unfold quickly in my favor or be resolved immediately.

When I was in High School, I wanted to finish the academic coursework in three years… When I was a young adult, I wanted to marry and move out of the house… When I was in college, I wanted to graduate in less than four years! I tend to rush. I sure do. As I got older, I soon realized there are no shortcuts or healthy quick fixes in life.

Time is of the essence! Be still and know He is in control of our lives. (Psalm 46:10) Let us sit back, relax and be present in the moment.

We may need additional time to select a new career path. It takes a while to get settled in a new community. There is usually a learning curve to master and be proficient at new tasks. In relationships, we need time to learn one another and build trust. If we are serving in ministry, we may need to wait for direction, wisdom, and understanding.

God’s timetable is different than ours! His ways are higher than ours. His timing and plans are perfect. Let us be open-minded and flexible in the midst of our wait. It may take longer than expected!

If we want to be fruitful in life, let us break down our goals, and zero into specific action steps. Just know, God is orchestrating all of our circumstances and He does not miss a beat! Over the course of time, suitable conditions will flourish. God makes everything beautiful in His time. He is in charge of the Harvest.

The more I wait and persevere, the more I trust His plan. In my last wait, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the following;

Let us honor our new beginnings and trust His timing. Do not rush or grow weary. “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” Acts‬ ‭27:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Let us take a leap of Faith and take the next step without anxiety or distress. Do not be afraid. “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage!…” Matthew‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In Christ, we have His wisdom to face challenges along the way. Do not doubt yourself. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Do not be distracted by external circumstances “…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Lord, help us be in your presence so we may experience serenity in the midst of our wait.“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NIV

In Jesus’ name, I boldly praise and pray.

Amen

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Be Well-Rested!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Lord,

I am lifting up all of my burdens and hardships to You at this moment.

Help me find rest for my soul so I may be ready for tomorrow’s battlefield.

At times, I am quite overwhelmed with simple tasks, intricate relationships at work or at home with my loved ones.

It is an ongoing struggle, Lord!

In You alone, I find my rest. I want to be mindful of regular breaks throughout the day so I may rest in Your Word always.

The most important event of my day is to focus on You, Lord. I want to focus on You day and night.

Yes, Lord, I will always need your wisdom and inner strength even when I am feeling brave or confident about troubling circumstances.

Help me not to be weary or burdened.

One of my biggest challenges is to forgive those who have hurt me in the past… You want me to forgive immediately (Colossians 3:13 NIV) just the way You have forgiven me. Not once or twice, but seventy times seven! Lord, this is a true challenge when I am still hurting. Help me forgive everyone and help me be discerning as I move forward in relationships.

Help me be hopeful always, and restore all distant relationships.

Our Lord is the Prince of Peace and does not want for my heart to be troubled (John 14:27 NIV). He is always with me wherever I go (Psalm 118:6 NIV).

Praising Jesus for His Faithfulness, peace, forgiveness and compassion.

Lord, give me wisdom and discernment to do good so I may not only forgive but bless others at all times.

Strengthen my heart. Renew my mind. Refresh my soul.

I need to fight “the good fight” and do all the work you have prepared me to do.

I want to be well-rested so I may be courageous and Brave in all I do in Christ.

In Jesus’ name I boldly praise and pray,

Your beloved daughter,

Amen.

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If you would like to journal as you rest on God’s Word, check out the selected Scriptures in the “Bible Reading Journal: Rest and Be Refreshed.”

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794685421/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_api_i_H9LuCbD7CVR03 #Amazon

Photo: Tami Parker Theobald

Empowered by Jesus: Original by Design.

Lord,

Thank you for creating me in your image. I am ‘original’ by design. Even though I am a sinner, I am your beloved daughter. I deeply treasure the royal kinship with the King of kings. I am loved and forever cherished by our Heavenly Father and His only Son.

”How amazing is that?!” I am a child of God (John 1:12).

His truth reminds me of how wonderfully I was created even though I tend to be self-critical at times. Let me never forget ‘whose I am’ ever again. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm‬ ‭139:1-4, 14, 24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am … Chosen. Forgiven. Redeemed. Loved. Treasured. Set Apart to God.

“How special is that?!” I am unique and one of a kind.

No one can snatch me out of my Father’s hand either (John 10). I feel protected and secured right about now, Lord.

You always hold me close to your heart.

I praise you boldly and will sing a song of Thanksgiving always!

I am alive and well in Jesus Christ.

Let me be mindful of our enemy though, the father of lies, who wants to destroy or distort our  well-being and your divine master plan. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” John 10:10 NIV. The enemy planted the seeds of doubt and insecurity and convinced me I was ‘not good enough’!
Back in high school…
My girlfriends and I were gathered outdoors in the patio for a short recess and held an informal conversation about college. Everyone was inspired about future possibilities and asked relevant questions to the School Counselor. When our morning break ended, everyone rushed to their scheduled classes except me. I was unassured of the aptitudes needed to succeed in college so I asked for the counselor’s opinion.
After a brief silence, she answered gently “I don’t see you in college.”
“Ugh? Did I hear correctly?” I silently asked myself, was downhearted then walked away in disbelief.
Was I not good enough for college?” this sentence repeatedly echoed in my mind for the rest of my high school years. Discouragement settled in my heart soon thereafter. I never inquired again about college admission, SAT prep courses or career choices.
The self-deprecating message ‘not good enough’ replayed in my mind intermittently for almost three decades. It was a lie the enemy had planted in my mind and it played out throughout college and career life. I never thought I was good enough.
Academic life was ferocious
But God…
He granted me the confidence to overcome insecurities, fear, and doubt. By breaking down challenging tasks into manageable action steps, developing effective study habits, and learning from past mistakes, I overcame hurdles in both my personal life and career development. In Christ, my spirit was renewed every day, a steadfast character was built, and spiritual maturity evolved over the years.
The unexpected materialized twenty years after high school graduation!
I poured some Colombian coffee in a mug, grabbed the wireless headphones out of the leather tote then rushed to the home office at sunrise, “Lord help me be alert, organized and articulate in today’s conference call”  I whispered to myself. As I dialed the conference number, I meditated on His promise, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” Ephesians 3:20 (NIV).
I was astonished about the progress all team members had made so far in previous conference calls.
I was invigorated when the State Commissioner’s genuine appreciation for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was initially displayed.  ABA is a treatment modality for children and adolescents who are diagnosed with intellectual disability and pervasive developmental disorder.
Never in my wildest dreams, did I expect to be in a regional leadership role much less conversing with a State Commissioner at 8 a.m. on a monthly basis! God’s vision is bountiful. I’m not letting the enemy plant another seed of doubt in my mind ever again.
No more lies, Satan, not today or ever again!

Lord, you have orchestrated favorable circumstances in my life. When these circumstances are unexpected, overwhelming or tragic, you give me the strength to persevere thru it all.

I am shifting my attention and focus to your heavenly ways and I will embrace your never-ending grace when I fail or experience setbacks. I know you love me even though I’ve got plenty of character defects (John 16).

“I am a work in progress.”

You are a forgiving, loyal and merciful God. You love me for who I am even at my worst. I am devoting the rest of my life to serve and worship you, “Serve and worship the awe-inspiring God. Recognize his greatness and bow before him, trembling with reverence in his presence.” Psalms‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭TPT‬‬

My heart is filled with gratitude, Lord.

Some say I have a type A personality. Others may not even notice the difference! I am much more interested in what you have to say, my Lord. Help me not be bothered by others’ critical opinions.

Man’s critical opinion is irrelevant. Your eternal view matters to me the most.

“How can I maintain eternal focus today, Lord?” I have asked myself repeatedly over the years. There are so many distractions, temptations, and earthly influences.

The more I know your truth, the more I witness how your truth has set me free.

I am engraving all of your precepts in my heart so I may never forget them or sin against you (Psalm 119:11). I enjoy meditating and discovering heavenly treasures in your Word every day! I take captive every thought on fruitless habits and ask for your strength to overcome temptations.

Apart from you, I cannot do anything, Lord (Psalm 16:2, John 15:5).

Yes, Lord! Help me overcome today’s temptations.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John‬ ‭15:5, 7-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

When I am drifting away or get distracted Lord, gently nudge me back to you so I may abide in you and bear much fruit. Your spirit of truth guides me and shows me how to persevere thru turmoil, confusion, chaos, and uncertainties (John 16:13). In the midst of life happenings, I would like to grow spiritually and be much more steadfast in my walk with Jesus.

The Holy Spirit gifts us with a range of blessings. Thank you, Jesus, for the power and blessings of our forever companion, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit filled life is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness. goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

I need help with self-control, Lord.

I believe but help me with my unbelief when it comes to frivolous spending. I have thought of  being ‘not good enough’ to build a retirement plan. I know this is a lie!  Help me stop and walk away from the next shopping extravaganza. Some days I do well and other days I just want to shop non-stop. One of my current concerns is to manage the finances well and display self-control when faced with temptations over the Holidays. I want to be content with all I have today. I’ve got enough! Help me stay within the boundaries of my established budget. I am worthy of maintaining a solid retirement account. Yes, Lord! I know you want me to be a good steward of your resources.

I know if I rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, I will have the strength to walk away from needless spending. I need wisdom every time I make financial decisions and your strength to walk away from temptations of all types.

In Jesus’ name,

I bravely pray.

Amen.

Let us sit at the Lord’s feet:

Inscribe and Meditate: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Memory Verse: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:3-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Weekly Challenge:

Identify a lie that has played out in your life over the years. Pray for God to replace it with His Truth.

Weekly Tip:

His Truth will set you free (John 8:32).

 

Photo Courtesy: Javier Reyes @ Splasher89CF692D-36A3-4CA8-BA9A-4BAE7064998C

Empowered by Jesus: Let Go of Control.

“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Lord,

Please, forgive me for thinking I could control today’s events by manipulating environmental conditions. I desperately wanted to expedite the timing and possibly the outcome(s) of all my circumstances. Help me trust in your character instead, and in your faithfulness, promises and most importantly in your eternal masterplan.

You are the One who has control over our lives!

You orchestrate the details of all life happenings then map out how new beginnings unfold.

You created the heavens and the earth, and every living creature in today’s world. God even breathed ‘the breath of life’ into the man’s  nostrils at the very beginning of biblical times! (Genesis 2:7).

Without you, I would not be alive today. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm‬ ‭139:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬- I praise you for the miracles and blessings in my life today. You are in control, not I.

Control is an illusion!

If I think I am in full control over my life, then I am living a lie. It is a subtle, recurrent strategy from the father of lies, our enemy, who wants for us to disregard God’s will. He is crafty in drafting an illusion; he is a con artist. He wants for us to remain in bondage to our sinful nature and be apart from you, Lord. The enemy is jealous of our intimate fellowship and wants to steal our joy, destroy our present and future and enslave us once again!

But, Christ has defeated the enemy on our behalf.

We have the gift to make a choice, thank goodness Lord! We have free will.

Our ability to make a decision is a heavenly treasure. God wants us to be intentional and prayerful when making choices. The Holy Spirit, our eternal companion and coach, will guides us in decision-making if we pray first.

Thank you, Lord, for being a reliable and trustworthy Helper.

It is our decision whether we surrender to God’s will or not, whether we are obedient to His commands or not, whether we partner up with Him in our day to day activities or not, whether we choose to engage in earthly distractions or fruitless habits like ‘retail therapy’ or not.

Ultimately, God wants us to partner with Him in today’s journey and in all of our decision-making opportunities.

God encourages us to choose wisely so we may not be enslaved to idols ever again. Idolatry is anything that pulls away from our intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Everytime I spend time in frivolous spending or complaining or even perfectionism, the Holy Spirit convicts me of what truly matters.

I need to repent, surrender my desires, and follow Him!

His desire is for me to be always free and alive; “Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free—not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.” Galatians‬ ‭5:1‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Jesús is the light to our path; “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

We do not have control in Life.

When tragedy occurs, God is already there on our behalf!

Several years ago…

My sister and I had it ‘all’ planned out prior to her international trip. We had mapped out the ‘perfect’ plan, the projected timeframe and all of the details for the action plan. We had explored all available options together in the best interest of our elderly parents.

We thought “we were ready to go.” We were wrong!

I was consulting 90 minutes away from home and was about to take a lunch break when I received a phone call from my sister. I was intrigued yet surprised by her unexpected call and even had a fleeting thought, “she must have forgotten to say something else about her trip…” I was calm and relaxed.

When I answered the phone, I heard her trembling and high-pitched tone of voice, “Dad just had a heart attack and died…” She was still in shock and I was too!

Our lives were drastically altered by the unexpected and overwhelming sense of grief and loss. She was in Venezuela and I was in the United States, many thousand of miles apart.

I felt helpless when I realized my passport had expired, and there was no available international flights at the time! I was unable to attend dad’s funeral. I was heart-broken, grief stricken and alone. Many even judged me for not being at dad’s funeral and only a couple of people reached out throughout the painful journey of loss and loneliness.

In my walk thru the valleys of emotional distress and sorrow, God was my only source of refuge, comfort and hope. The Lord is near the broken-hearted and to those whose spirits are crushed (Psalm 34:18).

Praising Jesus! He truly understands.

He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

He even weeps with us  (Luke 22:62).

God does not waste our emotional pain ever!

The only control we have is in our decision-making process when we make choices today. We can believe in His promises rather than feeling hopeless, choose Hope over despair, be with Jesus instead of being lonely, and choose meditation rather than fruitless habits such as retail therapy.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

After dad’s funeral, the intensity from family estate planning and challenging, work demands led to anger, fear and despair. My needless shopping spinned out of control for another season.

I did not handle my grief well at the onset of this major loss until I brought this hardship to the Lord’s attention one afternoon. I knelt down in front of the Cross, surrendered my heart and trusted Him with the healing process.

Out of angst and helplessness, I chose to dig into the book of Psalms one day at a time. I inscribed His verses at Sunrise and Sunset, recited selected verse throughout the day, journaled my mixed emotions and believed in His eternal promises one moment at a time. When I entrusted my emotional distress and grief to the Lord, my soul was refreshed. Only then, I was able to get a grip of my needless spending habit.

“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.” Psalm‬ ‭61:2-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Praising Jesus for His healing!

How did I let go of control?! When I realized I did not have control over  my circumstances and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me thru chaos, confusion and hatred one event at a time.

I was flexible and receptive to the soft whispers of the Holy Spirit and did not hold too tight my daily schedule, routine or agenda for the day.

When we choose to follow His ways, He sets us free.

I am choosing Life and Prosperity today, Lord. I want to be free for the rest of my life and not be enslaved ever again.

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change… the courage to change the things I can… and the wisdom to know the difference’ (Reinhold Niebuhr)

in Jesus’ name I bravely pray and boldly praise you,

Amen.

Let us sit at the Lord’s feet:

Inscribe and meditate on 2 Peter 1:1-12

Memory Verse: 2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
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Weekly Challenge: Consider a budget for Holiday shopping this year and add it to your household budget. Review budget goals weekly. Track your daily expenses.

Tip for the week: Do not spend more money than you earn. Pray over your finances daily.

Photo courtesy: Iong Sitaula @Splasher

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His Grace

“For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ!” Ephesians 2:8 TPT

I enjoy exchanging gifts at parties. I delight in seasonal wrapping papers and colorful gift bags along with a hand-written note honoring my special guest.

I cherish time spent with family and friends.

Beautifully wrapped presents are memorable, but hand-written notes are treasures inscribed in one’s heart!

All perfect gifts are from above (James 1:17).

There is only one gift that brought me to Christ.

His Grace.

7F488BA7-4160-4582-808A-D2C81A9A026CPhoto credit: Ben White @ Splasher

Lord,

When I accepted your grace, my heart and mind were eternally transformed.  Your compassion and unmerited favor are the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrew 13:8).

Thank goodness, I didn’t have to earn Salvation! It was freely given.

Please forgive me if I was stubborn at first, but I was a lost soul. Because of my sinful nature, I disrespected you in so many ways. I was headed to self-destruction. (Proverbs 1:19)

My heart was choked with unforgiveness, anger, resentment, and pride. I was blindfolded by these emotions! The heart is deceitful and cannot be fully trusted (Jeremiah 17:9).

I had accomplished so much in life yet never acknowledged you along the way! I was self-reliant and possibly obsessed with pursuing the ‘American dream’.

Thanks for not giving up on me all of these years.

I now realize how broken I was but you redeemed me and made me whole.

How did I do it?

One winter morning, I repented of my sins, invited you into my heart, surrendered my life at the foot of the Cross, accepted you as my Lord and Savior, and most importantly I walked away from a self-destructive lifestyle and never looked back again!

You delivered me from hell and saved my soul (Psalm 103: 4). I’m a new person in Christ, refreshed and renewed (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I value every reward from above.

How about you my friend? Have you accepted His Grace today?

In Jesus’ name, I praise.

Amen.