It’s Time to Take Back our Joy in the Lord.

I try to put my full confidence and trust in the Lord; but sometimes the battles seem so overwhelming that I struggle with it. I go to my prayer closet and pray fervently about a situation or a challenge, then, I leave the closet and before I can make it to the door, fear attacks me and I am thinking about the hows, and whens, and what ifs, and uncertainty sets in to my steps. It doesn’t take long for the empowerment to leave me. I am my greatest hindrance to walking in faith.

There, I admit that I am just about as normal a person as I can be. In my own flesh I can do nothing. I am meek and hesitant to stand up against the onslaught of the enemy when he comes in like a flood–but alas, I think about what the bible says, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). He already knows the plans that he has for us and the Lord is telling me that it is okay to be fearful, but if you are fearful, you don’t have to receive it because it is not of God.

Why would I allow Satan to overtake my life with fear, when I know that the Lord has already defeated the enemy? Yet, sometimes we do get weary in well-doing and we say or do things that are contrary to what we should be doing. Not terrible, awful things, but something that could be just as detrimental to our spiritual health: we lose our joy and confidence in the Lord.

Maybe he hasn’t answered a prayer for you, and you are discouraged because it seems that everyone on the planet has it so much better than you do. Doesn’t God even care about all of the sacrifices you have made? or the time or money you have invested in the ministry? We can allow the enemy to tangle us up in so much bitterness that it becomes anger. This day, I bind the spirit of fear and bitterness and release a Spirit of Thankfulness. I am a firm believer that if I learn to focus on being thankful, that it heals all of the times that I felt that I had nothing to be thankful for.

Breathing without assistance is such a blessing, but we take for granted the very breath the Lord allows for us to take. On the other hand, if you do need breathing assistance, you still can be thankful that there is the technology available that will help you to breathe.

No matter what circumstances you may find yourself in, during a season of life, finding something to be thankful for and proclaiming it will keep you in line with God’s purpose for your life, and it will also shield you from the attacks of the enemy.

Ecclesiastes 3

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

It is time that we take back the gift of God, the good of all our labour (Ecclesiastes 3:13).

In this week’s Lattereign, we learn how to keep Trusting in Quiet Confidence.

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Fret Not: Learn to Trust God!

No matter what we are facing at this point in our lives, we have God’s promise that he will be with us. The bible instructs us in Psalm 37 to not worry about “evildoers.” Instead, he shows us a plan to finding God’s favor:

Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.

First, he gives us guidance, and then he tells us what will happen if we obey. Every answer you need can be found in the word of God, so it’s important to read it. I know. My life gets overwhelmingly busy, too, but this year I am really trying to focus on getting my priorities straight. It’s true that we have a tendency to try to work everything out on our own, but sometimes, our independent selves, forgets that to have success in navigating the course of life, we need a compass! That compass is the word of God. Prayer ushers us into his presence, where we can give our petitions, but reading the word helps us to know what to do.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who never listens? They talk and talk and talk and when you try to speak, they are still having their own conversation, or they may even get distracted and walk off to talk to someone else who will listen. It can be frustrating, but isn’t there times when we treat prayer this way? Always whining and complaining to the Lord, but never just spending time in his presence and listening.

Sometimes the Lord whispers our name. It’s time that we learn to shut out all of the voices that say we are worthless, going to fail, never succeed, mess up, get sick, go broke, and anything else negative; and start to open up our spiritual ears to listen to what the spirit of the Lord has to say about us:

Isaiah 61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.

For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.

10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

Can you hear the hope in these verses of scripture? Yet, we allow the enemy to try to steal our joy when we should be putting him under our feet. The Lord is offering us peace, today, and not only peace but a “peace that passes all understanding.” The question is, are you willing to lay aside every weight, and pick up your sword (the word of God) and defend yourself? You have no need to fear, because The Lord has already won the battle. He needs for us to trust him.

This week’s Lattereign, shows us how and why we need to Wait on God’s Promises to Unfold.

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The Lord Will Make a Way out of No Way.

“I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” What other choice do we have if we want to live life more abundantly? Today, survival is all about making the right choices in life. It’s not always the easiest choices, or the ones that will cause the least amount of controversy. Living in a family that doesn’t understand why we go to church “all the time” can cause conflicts.

When I was growing up, it was a given that on Friday night, my Daddy would come home and already decide that I was not going to go to Sunday school. It could be the last thing on my mind, but he knew that he wanted to make sure that I stayed home to help my mother with housework. Only she didn’t do housework on Sundays, and the only reason she stayed at home was because she was hesitant about leaving Daddy home alone, fearing that he might fall asleep and burn the house down, accidentally.

Every few hours, he reminded me that there was no need to get dressed for Sunday school, because I was needed at home. I always said, “yes, sir,” but inside, another part of my heart would break off because I needed to go. I was hungry to find peace and joy and whatever else I was missing. I was only a preteen then, and naturally, my parents knew what was best.

Then, Sunday came, and I got up and mom would tell me to get dressed and not to worry about what Daddy had said. So, I got up and dressed and there I was waiting and praying that somehow Daddy would have forgotten what he had said, so I could go. Mr. Simpson, drove the church van, and he took the time to get to know Daddy. Every chance he got he would speak to him and invite him to church. Daddy always politely said, no, but it never dissuaded him from trying. For years, he tried.

I remember walking outside on the screened in porch, and wondering if I would make it to the van alive, because daddy had found his shot gun, and he was threatening to stop the van. One time, he had the gun out and when we came back home, Daddy was passed out on the porch steps with the loaded gun laying across his chest.

I stepped over him to get into the house, and mama, carefully took the gun out of his hands, unloaded it and hid it. When he woke up, all he ever asked for was dinner. He had forgotten all about it: but for the longest time, I couldn’t forget. I relied on prayer and the bible to show me what to do. After I was old enough to leave home, mama started going back to a Pentecostal church. She prayed for Daddy, and later he did repent and get baptized.

Waiting on God is worth all of the heartache, the tears, the sleepless nights spent praying, because the Lord is working all things for our good, even when we don’t realize that he is working.

I wonder what would have happened, if I had given up hope? To this day, I still remember the past, but it wasn’t always dreadful, because with the bad, the Lord filled our home with love. Prayer and hope saturated our home to fight against the spirits that would try to take our joy. Like the song goes, “Little is much when God is in it! Labor not for wealth or fame: There’s a crown, and you can win it, if you go in Jesus’ Name.”

In this week’s Lattereign, we explore the importance of waiting on the Lord. The Wait and the Win

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Another Year, Another Decade, Another Opportunity to Make a Difference

We have reached a milestone in our lives with the opening of a brand new year, and decade. It is good to know that we can have hope in the middle of winter. Another year, another decade, another opportunity to make a difference.

Reflecting on where God brought me from and thinking about what he has allowed me to accomplish, I can’t see that my minuscule contribution has made much of a difference. You see, it’s easy to get discouraged if we depend on our own memory, because we are our worst critics. The small things, the baby steps we take to grow our ministries, often seem so insignificant when we are focused on the work in progress. It isn’t until we can see the big picture that we understand that it takes everyone doing their part to complete the task.

God instructed Nehemiah to build the walls around Jerusalem so he could defend himself against the enemies.  He had other people willing to build their part of the wall. Each person worked on the wall while protecting their part of it. If any one person decided that they weren’t needed, and if they had stopped, it would have been dangerous for all others involved. Everyone worked together to complete the task, and ultimately the wall was built.

It’s time to look at the world through God’s eyes. In this week’s Lattereign we see that the Lord is the one who leads us, and he alone has the power to keep us.   2020 Vision Staying Committed

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You have Made it This Far; There’s No Turning Back

This year has had highs and lows, and sometimes we were uncertain if what we had to face would be considered a high or a low point in our lives. You see, it is in the high points that we are grateful that the Lord is blessing us and all is going well; but even though all is going well, let’s not forget to keep praying, because as much as we love the high points, we need the low points to keep us close to the Lord.

Wait? Are you telling me that a low point draws us closer to the Lord? In the low points of our lives we have a tendency to seek after the Lord more frequently. Our mind is stayed on the word of God and on his promises that he gives to us. Low points are not always easy to experience, and it may require us to feel alone, or abandoned by everyone that we love.

It is in the low points that we are more likely to look to the Lord as David writes about in Psalm 121:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Some of the greatest victories in my spiritual life has been won in the low points of my walk with the Lord. Over the years, I have learned that it is better to lift up the name of Jesus no matter what you are going through, because focusing on the problem makes it seem much bigger than it really is. God is greater than any problem that I face.

I could allow Satan to stop me from accomplishing anything, but I choose to keep doing my best even when I don’t see the results of my efforts. The bible tells us to encourage ourselves in the Lord. It will not serve any good purpose if we wait for others to recognize our efforts. If there is not one ounce of recognition, I choose to keep moving forward and to focus on what is really important in life: finishing the race by doing the will of God.

Yes, this year has not always been kind to us, because it seems that there were many low points, but I am grateful that we also had high points. There have been many  miracles that we often took for granted. It’s easy to become accustomed to living a good life; it’s a greater challenge to stay faithful when life isn’t as easy as you’d like it to be. It could come in the form of finances, health, or relationships. It’s time to give it completely over to the Lord, to handle. In the coming year, we should challenge ourselves to have “2020 Vision.”

It is the last Sunday of the year, and I declare peace and prosperity on you and your family this year.  In this week’s Lattereign, we look forward to the new year, 2020 A Great Year for Great Promises.

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The Gifts Worth Giving

It never fails this time of year: what should be a time of renewal and hope often turns into a race of frantic proportions. To the mall, to the store, to the house, to the family, to the neighbor’s house, back to the store, and back to the mall, and to the grocery store, and to work, and to church, and to the wherever else there is to go… You should get the point: Life is happening all around us, and in many cases, if we aren’t paying attention, it can pass us by and leave us wondering, what happened? and where did it all go?

Every year we face the same memories that try to pull us down to a simpler time in our childhood, when the most important thing we could think of was getting an orange, an apple, hard candy, and maybe a candy cane if we were lucky in our stocking.

Presents were practical, and needed, and maybe something special that we really didn’t need. It was all planned out. Daddy could never wait until Christmas morning to wake us up. His prime time to wake us up was 3:00 A.M. Christmas Day. We got up easily enough, and often stayed up, but Daddy always went back to bed after we opened gifts.

Wrapping paper strewn all over the living room, usually stayed there until it was officially morning. In all of the years that we went through that routine before I left home, not once did I feel deprived or unloved because the gifts were scarce. It never crossed our minds to count the number of gifts that we each received, or the cost; everything was appreciated.

I look back on that time in my life and I realize just how blessed I was, and how blessed that I truly am. There is nothing that I need in this world that I don’t already have. My desires for this season is the gifts of hope, health, prosperity, and peace to all.

In this week’s Lattereign we are reminded that while gift exchanges are traditional, that Your Time is the Most Precious Gift.

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I Choose to Stand Strong.

I was wondering if I am that tree that is planted by the waters? I shall not be moved. In all of the years that I have lived for the Lord,  I believe at no other time have I felt the urgency to get our house in order, yet, I still feel that there is much to do. The tree is still; it is stationary. It is strong. It appears alone. How many times have we all felt alone?

Loneliness can sneak into our lives when we begin to isolate ourselves from those who matter the most in our lives. It isn’t necessary to be away from people to be alone. Loneliness can be felt in a crowded room. Together we will stand for those who may feel this way, especially this time of year. For some people this season is overwhelming with grief and despair. They long for the storybook Christmas’s depicted in the movies.

They may be missing loved ones long departed, or a relationship that didn’t last, or just have a general feeling of being discouraged with life in general. It is important to set aside some time for prayer, and spending time in his presence can get everything back into a proper perspective.

In the alone times of my life I have found greater strength to move forward with God’s plan and purpose. It isn’t easy to feel alone, but those times have proven the most beneficial for my spiritual growth. I know without any doubt that the Lord is the master of my storm and if he did it before, he will do it again.

In this week’s Lattereign we find that Jesus Christ is more than enough.

Jesus Christ More Than Enough

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Never Forget the Sacrifices Made for Our Salvation

We have all been guilty of it: that is, taking for granted that the life we are living will not change. Now, change can be seen as an improvement, or an inconvenience, but at this time of year, change is more of an unsettling surprise, even if the change is a good change. The reality is if you want to see change, then something has to change.

In the moment, it may not feel like it’s for the best, because we are often moved out of our comfort zones, but to experience life changes that will grow us spiritually, we must be willing to allow the Lord to work in our lives. It may require getting rid of some things to make room for the more important blessings that the Lord desires for us. Are we willing to go through this time of adjustment?

I can admit that when the Lord is ready to take me through a time of spiritual growth it is not always easy. I have found that I may spend more time in prayer and even doubt myself. Did I really hear from God or is it just my own selfish desires that is moving me in this direction? Am I putting God’s agenda, first, before my own? Who will get the glory for what the Lord is leading me to do? Will it be man’s praise that I desire? or, am I more hopeful that the Lord will accept my offering of love and service?

Many times, people who are in ministry have a tendency to shy away from the limelight. It makes them uncomfortable, as it should. To God be all the glory, and honor, and power, Amen!

In the world we are living in, change sometimes moves us out of our comfort zone, and into a place where we are fearful of devastating landmines (those unplanned circumstances that interrupts our agendas) It can be a bit unsettling if we aren’t flexible. Instead of handling problems as they come, we spend our time trying to avoid them all as they are relentlessly hurled at us through space. They continue to pile up, and we become so overwhelmed trying to fix everything, that we don’t even know where to start.

Honestly, it may even require us to hide somewhere behind a barrier, temporarily, so we can catch our breath. The refuge that I run to is my prayer closet. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. The time spent in prayer is sufficient to recharge you to face another day. It puts life in perspective. Nothing is too hard for God so when we talk to the Lord, we can have a peace that passes all understanding. He is high and lifted up and his train fills the temple. The Lord has won every battle that he has fought on our behalf. No sports team ever recorded can boast of that kind of statistic.

Then, if God is on the winning side, wouldn’t it make sense for us to seek after him? I want to follow the one who always wins. It isn’t easy to stand alone, but if I must do that to be saved, then, so be it. I have a made up mind to live for the Lord, and worship him in spirit and in truth. No weapon formed against me shall prosper, so I might as well learn how to be the change that is pleasing to the Lord, and encourage as many people as I meet to live for the Lord. After all, he is the winner, and if we stand with him, we can never lose.

In this week’s Lattereign, we look at how distracted people can be this time of year. It is a reminder to never forget who we serve and how blessed we are to be able to do so.

‘Twas the Night Before Jesus Came

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God’s Peace Passes all Understanding

In the world we live in, today, there are too many obstacles that would try to keep us blocked from having the peace of God in our lives. We may have served the Lord for decades, but some circumstances may confront us with our health and safety and we temporarily forget that the God we serve has already won the victory over every circumstance. Fear can be debilitating at times, but, today, I give encouragement to you if you are living in this phase of your life: God has not forgotten his love for you, he is still in control.

I admit that I have been guilty of forgetting and allowing the enemy to rob me of sleep and peace, but no matter how much he tries to overwhelm me with fear, I choose to hold my banner high. God is faithful, and he promised that he would never fail me. I have nothing to fear, no matter what I have to face during this life. The key to keeping the victory is to go through the circumstances you are required to overcome. It will make you stronger when you learn to trust the Lord no matter what. Romans 8: 28, says this, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

That means all things, so who am I to doubt God can fulfill his promises to me? If the answers have not happened it is because it is the will of God that I wait for the promise. Waiting doesn’t mean that I sit and stop serving. In the upper room, the disciples were instructed to wait until…. Until what? The promise came to pass. They already knew that the comforter was coming, so they continually prayed until it happened. What would have happened if they were so busy that they didn’t tarry at the altar? They may have left empty.

My heart is overwhelmed of your goodness to me. Lord, I know that I never have deserved your mercy and grace, but that didn’t stop you from extending it to me. It is humbling at times to think about what you brought me through and how that in spite of all of the mistakes I made in my past, you were ready to wash my past away and paint me a new future that included you.

There’s no turning back, now. I left all of the heartache and emptiness behind when I decided that I wanted to live for you. It was my choice to live, and it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. Knowing that the alternative would lead to destruction and despair and a separation from you for eternal life: I have no other good option to make. Living for you has been peace and love, and joy, and so much more. I can stand in the midst of the storms now and know that you are holding me up with your right hand. I will not fall as long as I know who I can depend on to be there, ever faithful by my side.

People will sometimes make mistakes and fail to live up to my expectations, but the Lord is always ready to help me to get back on track. I know that my redeemer liveth. Tonight, I can rest in the knowledge that Jesus Christ love me, and that he cares what I am facing in my life. Even when I don’t know what I am actually feeling or struggling with in my spirit, he knows, and understands that what I really need is time to talk to him. My life is in his hands, because he promised to never let me go, and I’m okay with that.

In this week’s Lattereign, we are encouraged to rise above our circumstances in  I Will Lift UP Mine Eyes unto the hills.

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There’s Only One Way to Walk: One Foot in Front of the Other.

Have you ever felt totally lost? It seems that every direction you start to go in doesn’t feel quite right so you go back and try something else, until you find yourself walking in circles with not a single hint of progress to show for it. It’s too overwhelming sometimes to just make a plan and go do whatever.

Lord, you expect me to get out of my safety zone and do what? But Lord, you know that there are so many people who want to criticize my efforts, shoot down my ideas before I have ever even run them through the process of prayer and sharing them with others. I sit there with my mouth closed tightly, bursting inside, knowing that I surely heard from God because I am not that clever to think of such a great idea. but I am silently frustrated, because with the next breath, I know that if I don’t act on it, it will probably leave my thoughts. Off to the back of my mind to needle me even more without me remembering what was so great about the idea in the first place.

I know that I heard from God, yet my silent contemplation overwhelms my sleep. Tossing and turning and wondering how and what and when and where  it will come to pass and if I will be able to formulate a plan to make it happen. It all floods into my thoughts as I try to rest. Prayer is supposed to unravel these types of frustrations, but I sit in my prayer closet, knowing that I need to speak it out, and still I wrestle with my lack of zeal that had to be squashed in order to make it another day.

And, what about that day? It is still 24 hours of my life that I will not be able to redeem, so how I spend it matters. Please help me not to squander the precious minutes of my life with trivial tasks that do not matter in the greater plan.

Cleaning and working, and all of the other chores have their place, but if I neglect my time with you, Lord, what will it matter in the long run? When the day is done, we will never be able to relive it. Our hope is to just do better with the time we have left on this earth. Take the time to think long and hard about what you will allow to occupy your time. My regret is the countless hours and days and years that are just a blur now that I could have planned better to be more effective. I know it sounds cliche’, but I regret the time lost that I could have used to make a difference.

When life is spent, how do you want people to remember you? How much time you took to clean your house? or to shop? or engage in entertainment? Will you be remembered for the way that you always had a smile on your face, or as one who took the time to encourage those who were facing dire decisions? or, who listened when it was hard to sort out a problem? Will they see the tears that you shed on their behalf? or the joy that you expressed when they got their answered prayer?

That day will come, but I have decided that it is not, today. In this week’s Lattereign, the Lord has given us an opportunity to declare that Today is a brand new day.

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