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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I Surrender All, or Am I Kidding Myself?

It truly sounds good, noble, in fact, to claim that we surrender all. However, I struggle with letting things go. If there is a problem, I want to nurture it, cuddle it, ponder over a solution, worry about it, fret about it, maybe even, shed a few tears over it, but at the end of the day, after expending all of that energy on working through the problem to reach a solution, I do everything but surrender all.

Surrendering all, means that I allow the Lord to take charge and work out his plan in my life. It means that it is no longer necessary to spend sleepless hours complaining to God about something that if I would just be willing to offer up my petitions to the throne room, he would be able to solve it, speedily. But no, after all, I know best. I am the “educated ” one who has faced these types of problems before, so I don’t need to wait on the Lord, this time: unfortunately, that is my greatest problem: my “I” is blocking the answers to my prayers from coming.

Isn’t it time to just stop being in control? Probably the most difficult thing I have ever had to face in my life, was when I had to admit that I had run out of options. Lost and undone, there was nowhere left for me to turn but to the Lord. He didn’t ridicule me further because I waited a long time before I turned my life over to him. No, the Lord was merciful and he welcomed me into his opened arms.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. It washes the soul, and can completely turn your life around. You may feel that there are those people that you could never forgive. Asking for forgiveness is not designed to make the offender feel better, it is for the one who has been hurt. Forgiveness brings healing, and freedom to live again. Those willing to forgive can watch the Lord move into their life and turn things around. Isn’t it time to open up the window of your soul to receive from the Lord?

In this week’s Lattereign, we are reminded of Joshua and Caleb who believed the report of the Lord and then, we are asked Whose Report will you believe?

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It’s A Privilege to Serve

Thank you for your service, Veterans. We celebrate you. It is a privilege to serve, and although I have never served in the military; I am grateful to those who sacrificed so much of their time with family to do so. My life is richer because of your commitment to serve our country.

Many people have not had the opportunity to serve our great country, but we have chosen to serve in other ways. The Lord desires for us to be willing to serve; so there must be a blessing that will only come through having a servant’s heart. Are we willing to step aside of the limelight and serve? Cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming floors, taking out the trash; mopping; cleaning windows; preparing meals, and so much more, can be thought of as demoralizing, menial, unimportant tasks that really aren’t recognized; unless they are left undone. No one may ever say one word about the neglect; but if left undone; they may find another place to worship.

It is a privilege to serve; it matters what your attitude is when faced with the hidden tasks that are important to the administration of the church. I am thankful for the ones who gladly serve. Jesus was the greatest example of servanthood. He washed the disciples’ feet, he helped in every way that he could, not thinking that he was above the tasks, but gladly doing it as an act of worship.

Lord, I am thankful that you have given me the opportunity to recognize those men and women who have served in the military to keep us safe and free, in this week’s LattereignVeterans Day- A Time of Reflection (opens in a new window)

 

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Whatsoever Your Hand Findeth to Do; Do it!

handsI can’t be complacent as long as there is work to do! Nothing will ever get accomplished if we don’t begin to be the change that we would like to see happen in our ministries; or in our lives, in general, but what will it take for us to get results?

Faith

Faith to believe without doubt. Why would God give you the desire to do more, if he didn’t know that you were capable of doing more than you ever thought possible? After all, aren’t we just fulfilling his will and purpose for our lives? In our own minds and hearts we could have selfish motives such as wanting to exalt ourselves instead of exercising good old-fashioned humility; and it stops us cold from taking that leap of faith.

It’s not what we can do that is great; it is what we will allow the Lord to do through us even when we don’t believe that we are professional, or qualified, or worthy enough to do it.  

Think about a child learning to walk. Those first steps are exhilarating; yet the falls could be quite ugly creating goose egg bumps on tiny foreheads, along with the awkward thuds that come with falling. Children don’t hold their failures of taking first steps awkwardly, against the ultimate goals in their lives: to walk, and then to eventually run everywhere that their little feet will take them.

No, after the crocodile tears are shed, they carefully scoot over to somewhere sturdy, take a hold on it, pull up to their feet and do it again, and they will probably fall, again, and again, until eventually, they will run through the house with abandon without even giving it a second thought.

How many times have we shut the door on opportunities that the Lord has opened wide for us to walk through, because we didn’t feel like we could take that leap of faith required to receive the blessings?

More times than I can even count, I have been guilty of having doubts: oh, Lord, you know that will never work for me; Who would even want to read what I have to say? And through the years, as I reflect back on the beginnings of the writing ministry the Lord called me to, I can shake my head at my own dose of insecurity. If I had not followed God’s plan, my life would have been so empty, today, while I would have missed one of the greatest privileges that I’ve ever had; to share what the Lord gives me as I fight to keep doing the perfect will of God in my life.

Do I still doubt my abilities to write? Absolutely, especially when there are times that I am trying to dip the water from a dry well. Then, I go to the Word, and I drink freely, until the writing is no longer about me, but all about what the Lord desires. It is only then that the words can flow freely on the page.

I started the In the Time of the Lattereign blog in 2013, because I felt that my local church newsletter, The Lattereign, established in 1995, was not reaching as many people as it could. I am still praying about how to reach more people with this blog. Keep me in prayer as the Lord unfolds his plan.

At the top of this page is a water pump that is in my garden. It isn’t connected to a water source, but it is a reminder to me that I must stay connected to the living water.

We all get weary in well-doing, and sometimes discouraged when our steps are not perfect, but through it all, if we can remember this one thing: that God is the one who is directing our steps, and no matter how much we look at the mountains we must climb over; the Lord is busy clearing the way for us to follow, throwing our adversaries to the left, and to the right, so that we have a clear path straight through to our next victory.

We will be safe, if we don’t look to the left or to the right, but to Jesus Christ who is the author and the finisher of our faith. He knows the way, because he is the way, and his wish for us is this:

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2).

This week’s Lattereign, admonishes us to  Trust God to Strengthen Your Hands. (This opens in a new window)

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