Commit your works to the LORD [submit and trust them to Him], And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance]. – Proverbs 16:3 AMP
It is a new year, but the same devil is still prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, manipulate, deceive, and destroy (1 Peter 5:8). While the calendar, your mindset, and attitude may be changing, many of the same problems from last year will attempt to define you this year. To successfully overcome the old schemes of the enemy and transition into a new season of love, happiness, purpose, and overflow you are going to have to be disciplined, intentional, and fearless.
No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:11 BSB
According to studies, 80 percent of New Year Resolutions fail by February. They fail because we make declarations and vision boards but do not follow through with action plans. Action plans are the steps we take to transform our visions into reality and that requires discipline, and discipline requires us to sacrifice short-term satisfaction for long-term gains.
Discipline takes the form of boundaries in our personal, spiritual, financial, and emotional lives. If you want to be the best version of yourself this year, you are going to have to create and enforce boundaries. That may mean changing some of your lifestyle habits (staying home instead of going out), altering how you think about yourself (you are more than a conqueror), and being more mindful of the people you are allowing into your life (everyone should not have access to you). The more boundaries you adhere to, the better off your life will be.
Plan carefully and you will have plenty; if you act too quickly, you will never have enough. - Proverbs 21:5 GNT
We tend to be intentional about things that are inconsequential. We are more intentional about the clothes, shoes, and accessories we wear, cars we drive, and pictures we post on social media than we are about the people we associate with, things we consume, and feelings we express. In your next season, you are going to have to be more intentional about your relationships, emotions, health, and worship.
Be more intentional about praying, attending church, and reading your Bible. Be more intentional about reaching out to friends, returning messages, and spending quality time with loved ones. Be more intentional about your health, the foods you eat, and exercising. Be more intentional about budgeting your money. Be more intentional about how you are living your life and watch as God reward you for your obedience.
The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can man do to me? – Psalm 118:6 NLT
To be great, you are going to have to be fearless. That means you must stop negotiating with negative thoughts, pessimistic people, and self-sabotaging behaviors over your future and instead trust that God, who orders your steps, will meet your every need.
Being fearless does not mean being careless, but it does mean being disciplined, intentional, and clear on the endeavors you pursue this year. So, take a chance and bet on yourself, not succumbing to your misgivings or criticism, but instead aggressively pursuing the things God has placed on your heart.
I am so happy for the things God is about to do for you in this new year. Your business will thrive, a new relationship awaits you, your promotion is imminent, your health is improving, and your joy is returning. Embrace all that God has for you by being disciplined, intentional, and fearless. Do not allow the old tricks of the enemy to stop you from taking advantage of the new opportunities that await you this year. Yes, the devil is the same, but the blessings will be new!
May the Lord himself, who is our source of peace, give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all. - 2 Thessalonians 3:16 GNT
Peace is defined as a state of calm and harmony between your mind, body, and soul. The Greek word for peace is εἰρήνην (eiréné) which can be interpreted as “. . . the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing [apart] from God and content with its earthly [circumstances]. . .”
Before Christ is arrested and crucified, He takes the time to remind His disciples in John 14 that He is leaving them with peace. Now, Jesus did not have much time to waste, and you would think that He would have used what little time He had left to remind the disciples of the importance of love, forgiveness, or prayer, but instead he reminds them of His peace.
So, why does Jesus highlight peace before the cross? Because He knew that this world would try to substitute His peace with one that is contrary to His teachings.
The Peace the World Gives
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. - John 14:27 NIV
The peace the world gives are really problems designed to look like solutions. The peace of this world tells us that if we just get married that we will be happy, that if we get the job, we will be fulfilled, or that if we get more money, we will not have any more difficulties. All those things require you to work in-order to obtain peace, but Christ informed us that peace is a gift that He gives us, meaning it is something we accept and not work for.
The Peace That God Gives
The peace that God gives does not equate to the absence of problems; instead, it requires us to acknowledge His presence in our problems. God’s peace is the type of peace that will allow you to sleep in the middle of a storm (Matthew 8:24), that will give you the confidence to face your giants and allow you to declare; regardless of your situation and circumstances, that all things will work out for your good (Romans 8:28).
So, if you want peace in your life, do not look for it in people or things, instead accept it from God.
Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. - Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP
On October 26, 2018, at 5 A.M. a knock at my front door startled me out of my sleep. The knock wasn’t from a friend or a neighbor, it was from the police. I was only a few hours away from boarding a plane, traveling to Costa Rica, and celebrating my 33rd birthday. Instead, I found myself in jail, in distress, and in pain. Trouble knocked at my door that morning, and I answered it. When I say I answered it, what I mean is I tried to resolve and make sense of what was happening to me without going to God first.
What trouble has knocked at your door that you answered? Maybe it was a layoff you were not expecting, a disappointing medical report, collection notice, eviction, separation, or unexpected death. Oftentimes, when we find ourselves in a situation that we never imagined we would be in - we try to take care of it on our own. Instead of trusting God, we look for solutions in people, money, material goods, and self-sabotaging behaviors.
There are some things that people, money, drugs, sex, etc. cannot fix or heal. For those things, you need God. I know I did. Money got me out of jail and got me a lawyer, but it could not give me my freedom - only God could do that. Freedom, not in the form of deliverance from my troubles, but in knowing that regardless of my situation and circumstances that God is fighting for me (Exodus 14:14). And if God is fighting for us, what troubles can stand against us (Romans 8:31)?
Set-up by God
So, when trouble knocks at your door, let God answer it. You should let God answer it because He is the one who invited it. If you do not believe God invites trouble, just look at the story of Job:
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil… One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” - Job 1:1, 6-8 NIV
God asked Satan “where have you come from?” and Satan answered from roaming the earth. We know from 1 Peter 5:8, that the devil roams the earth like a roaring lion, looking for someone to attack. Now God, being completely unprovoked, offers Job to Satan for him to attack. Why would God invite Satan to attack Job, a good man who was blameless, honest, and upright? Because God uses our trials to strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.
God knows what He put within you and what you can withstand. He knows that though you may stumble, you will not be overwhelmed, because He is holding your hand (Psalm 37:24). Therefore, do not try to fix every problem, respond to every situation, or lose sleep worrying about how you are going to survive the attack of the enemy. Instead, place your faith in God, seek Him vigorously, hold on to His unchanging hand, and watch as He deliberately makes everything beautiful at the right time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
“The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But it does not sink deep into them; they believe only for a while but when the time of testing comes, they fall away.” – Luke 8:13 GNT
Our faith must be constantly renewed, protected, and managed. If not, we run the risk of losing it - the one thing that can help us navigate the darkness that surrounds us during times of uncertainty, anxiety, and lonesomeness. Now faith is the assurance of the things we hope for and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). But it becomes difficult for us to remain faith filled when all we can see are setbacks and sorrow around us.
There have been many times in my life where I felt like abandoning my faith. Times when I did not see the value in trusting God, as my world was crumbling around me. Maybe that is where you are today - feeling that as time goes on, the hope you once had for a marriage, child, job, healing, recovery, or breakthrough is waning. We are often taught that faith is asking God for something and waiting patiently until He provides it to us. But I learned that faith is believing that God can do it even if He doesn’t do it.
For three years I asked God to have the criminal charge against me dismissed and I am now going on year four without any resolution, but I still believe that God can do it. For three years I prayed for a job and haven’t received one, but I still believe that God can provide. My family prayed for my uncle to be healed from COVID and he died, yet I still trust God as a healer.
Do not define your faith by a setback, poor result, or an unanswered prayer. Faith isn’t about receiving something from God; it is declaring like Martha did after the death of her brother when she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:21-22). Martha asked Jesus to save her brother, her brother died, yet she still believed and had faith in God’s supreme authority.
Your faith, then, does not rest on human wisdom but on God's power.
- 1 Corinthians 2:5 GNT
The Grace To Go On
God does not always give us what we ask for. Sometimes the sickness ends in death, the womb remains barren, the relationship dissolves, the job lays you off, and the rent isn’t paid. That doesn’t mean that God has forgotten about you, that He doesn’t love you, or hasn’t heard your prayers - it means that He is going to provide you with the grace to withstand your disappointment.
When we don’t receive what we have been asking God for, the enemy uses our disillusionment to separate us from God. He wants to rob us of our faith because he knows that it is impossible for us to please God without it (Hebrews 11:6). So, he encourages us to place our faith in people, money, material goods, and things that make us feel good, but ultimately, leaves us hopeless. Remember, there is no relief in the words of the devil.
When the time of your testing comes, do not fall away. You may be disappointed, afraid, and apprehensive, but still believe that even now God can save, heal, deliver, and redeem you. Your situation and circumstances are in God’s hands. Trust and believe in Him and He will renew you.
God makes a home for the lonely; He leads the prisoners into prosperity, Only the stubborn and rebellious dwell in a parched land. - Psalm 68:6 AMP
We do not have an issue asking God to provide for us. When we want a job, we pray for it. When we want a spouse, we pray for him or her. When we want healing, money, or a breakthrough, we ask God for it. There is nothing wrong with trusting God to provide for us - scripture tells us that He will supply every need of ours (Philippians 4:19) and withhold no good things from us (Psalm 84:11). Thank God when He provides but remember that the same God who gives also takes away (Job 1:21).
What do you do when God takes away? What do you do when the job you thought you would retire from lays you off? What do you do when the person you thought you would spend the rest of your life with is gone? What do you do when your health fails, car is repossessed, and house is foreclosed on? What do you do when the things you were depending on in one season of your life, are now unavailable in the next?
Dry No More
A prophet named Elijah, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to King Ahab, “In the name of the Lord, the living God of Israel, whom I serve, I tell you that there will be no dew or rain for the next two or three years until I say so.”
Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Leave this place and go east and hide yourself near Cherith Brook, east of the Jordan. The brook will supply you with water to drink, and I have commanded ravens to bring you food there.”
Elijah obeyed the Lord's command and went and stayed by Cherith Brook. He drank water from the brook, and ravens brought him bread and meat every morning and every evening. After a while the brook dried up because of the lack of rain.
Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Now go to the town of Zarephath, near Sidon, and stay there. I have commanded a widow who lives there to feed you.” - 1 Kings 17:1-9 GNT
During a period of drought, God provided for Elijah. He supplied Elijah with everything he needed to survive during that season of his life, but when that season was over, God took away the very thing he provided to Elijah. Now, the text does not say that the ravens stop bringing food to Elijah, all it says is that the brook dried up. That would have been a problem if Elijah did not have the power to make it rain, but he proclaimed earlier, “there will be no rain… until I say so.” Elijah could have indeed survived by the dry brook, but why just survive when God wants you to thrive?
Elijah had a choice to make; he could stay where God was or move to where God is. He chose to obey God’s commands and trust that where God was taking him was better than what God had taken away from him. Our problem is we stay at the dry brook and like Jonah we complain when God tries to move us into something better by taking away the things and people we were depending on (Jonah 4:8). So, we stay on the dry job, we stay in the dry relationship, and continue making dry decisions when God wants to move us into something better.
God removes people and things from our lives when He wants to make room for the overflow. Leave your dry brooks behind and trust and believe that God will provide for you as He guides you.
New blog(s) posted every month.