The Peace and Joy Component

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I expect the best day of my life spiritually, relationally, and financially in Jesus name.

I listened to a story recently about a young woman who thought that she was following God’s call on her life. When she took a new job, she discovered that the stress involved in the move from a job she loved, to the one that she thought God had for her, was overwhelming. She loved the new job as well and had held this job eleven years before, but now, with two kids at home and a husband who had allowed her to take control, the commitment was too much.

Her expectations were shattered. The enemy looks for chinks on our armor. He prowls around looking for our Achilles heel, a place to dig at us, to erode our relationship with God and our faith in Him. This woman fell into the trap of asking “Why” when she was simply to say “Okay”.

In Romans 15:13, Paul says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” This woman ended up in the pit of despair brought by the overwhelming tasks in front of her. She was relying on her own power instead of the power of the Holy Spirit. God brought her to an understanding that she had taken on more responsibility at home than she needed to. When she was taken out of the picture because of the ensuing depression, she watched her husband step up and be the leader that God intended him to be.

God’s plans for our lives works. He laid out … in the Bible, His instruction manual … all that we need to know in order to live a life of peace and joy. When we pray for someone, we need to have the confidence that we are where God wants us to be … according to His word … so we can reflect that confidence to the people we pray for.

When we obtain our power to pray from the Holy Spirit, He gives us the right words to speak, knowing, more than we, exactly what that person needs to hear and how to successfully build a prayer than will instill confidence into the person we’re praying for.

Have you ever had the opportunity to replace a worried frown on a person’s face with a smile after you have prayed with them? Watching them walk away with confidence in the God you’ve pointed them to, is amazing. Your joy and peace will be complete when the Holy Spirit is your power source instead of relying on your own strength. Try it today.

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Dread or Anticipation

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I expect to have powerful divine appointments today to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to prophesy life, to lead people to Christ, to bring deliverance, to release signs and wonders, and to bless every place I go.

Do you get up in the morning expecting or dreading? One dictionary describes expectation as eager anticipation, as in eyes shining with expectation, especially of success or gain. The person who is filled with expectation is excited, ready to face the day with anticipation of all that it has in store.

Dread, on the other hand, happens when we anticipate with alarm, distaste, or reluctance. It denotes profound fear or terror. It also speaks of anticipation but fearful anticipation, like a visit with the school principal or the diagnosis of a life altering disease.

Placing our feet on the floor in the morning with dread would make one want to remain encased in the blankets that have cocooned us all night, to never get up again. But when life is filled with expectation, it’s as if we can’t wait for another day to start. We rush through our early morning preparations with an ‘I can’t wait‘ attitude.

That’s what God wants us to feel like every morning of our lives. He wants us to look for those special appointments He has planned for us, opportunities to pray with people, to serve those whom He places in our path that day. In Acts 5, verse 15, Luke recounts what happened when the apostle Peter walked among the people. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.”

Peter anticipated with expectation. He was prepared to serve, to heal, to pray for God’s intervention in the lives of the people he encountered that day. And because he walked with expectation, no one took him by surprise. I am sure he was excited to see God work through him, who wouldn’t be, but he did not fear the outcome.

Can you imagine what your life would be like, how it would change, if you woke with expectation, excited to see how God was going to use you this day? Each minute, while conducting the everyday, mundane tasks before you, you’d be filled with sensitivity to those around you in ways that would let them know they were special to you. How can you help him or her and how can you share God’s love in this situation.

Jump out of bed tomorrow, filled with the expectation that Peter must have felt. How is God going to touch people through you or who is He going to bring across your path who needs a word of encouragement. Anticipate, don’t dread and see how different life will be … for you and those around you.

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Kingdom Thinking

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Have you ever heard something and thought to yourself that what the person said is a fabrication? Yet, many seem to listen and believe, because the person talking has power or position or writes a newspaper column. You wonder how those around aren’t seeing the lie in his words, as you do. Do they have blinders on, you ask yourself.

In a way, they do. They are blinded by the world around them and the culture they live in. They are blinded by circumstances, and their past experiences. They live preconditioned to believe whatever someone with more money says, or someone who is an elected official. Listen to the world viewpoint of a policeman who deals with crime and people’s dishonesty day in and day out and you’ll discover his jaundiced outlook on life.

Unless that person is a Christ follower. Paul, an exposed zealot, and persecutor of Christ who met the Lord on the roadway one day, tells us in 1 Corinthians 2, verse 16, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” He understood the difference. He knew what he believed and who he listened to before he met Christ and how his thinking changed after he had his encounter with God.

Paul tells us that we have the mind of Christ, the author of all truth. Christ said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life …” If we’ve asked Jesus to sit on the throne of our life, to guide us, then we have His knowledge of truth or fiction that the world does not have. They do not have the filter or discernment that we have access to, and so they listen to lies as if it were truth.

When someone comes to you to ask for prayer, do you see the truth behind their words? Are you able to pray just what that person needs. God is not the only one listening when you pray. Have you ever encountered a look of astonishment on the face of that person whom you’ve laid before the Lord? The words you spoke touched the heart of the matter even if they hadn’t spoken them aloud. A man once told me that I had a direct line to God but in reality I have the mind of Christ because I am a Christ follower.

Know whom you believe and why you believe it. Learn the difference between what’s been given to you because you follow Christ, and what the rest of the world lacks because they don’t. Don’t judge them by the same standards but love them into the Kingdom so that they, too, will have the Mind of Christ.

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Discard the Foolish

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I have the wisdom of God today. I will think the right thoughts, say the right words, and make the right decision in every situation I face.

One dictionary described wisdom as the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting. It said that other terms for wisdom are insight, common sense, or good judgment. Henry David Thoreau said, “It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” Wisdom is the sum of learning through the ages and, in that regard, Maya Angelou said, “In those homely sayings was couched the collective wisdom of generations.” She was talking about wise teachings of the ancient sages. Wisdom is a wise outlook, plan, or course of action.

It is the hope of every parent to teach wisdom to their children. They strive, when their children are young, to instill within them the ability to make wise choices because they know, usually from experience, that the choices we make in our youth go with us into adulthood and beyond. During the teen years, however, most (not all) children figure that mom and dad know little to nothing about their world and life in general. They make a decision, whether conscious or not, to listen to everyone else, but never to mom and dad, the people who love them the most.

So what other sources of wisdom can a parent instill in their children when they are young, so that when they become insignificant, the child will still have a reference manual that they will adhere to? Unfortunately, in the world in which we live, that source is gathering dust in a lot of houses or is altogether non-existent. And parents and pastors do not have the answers to refute a school system designed to make that source seem like a collection of fairy tales.

The source of all wisdom is the Bible and the author, God Himself. In Proverbs 2, verse 6, the Bible says, “ For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. What an awesome opportunity we have to pick God’s brain before we make a decision. James was the brother of Jesus Christ so he knew firsthand the kind of wisdom that is available to us.

Wisdom from sources, other than God, is man’s wisdom. Often, we choose to listen to wisdom from a finite brain instead of from the infinite Majestic Creator of the Universe and beyond. Does that make sense to you? Where does faith come into your thinking? Wisdom is something we can ask God for, as James told us, and God will answer. Yes He can work through people, but we need to have a vast understanding of His word in order to be discerning about the people we listen to. Studying the scriptures lays the foundation for clear thinking and allows us to take in the good and discard the foolish.

Before you pray for someone, ask for wisdom. Seek the words that God would have you say to a person and then pray His words for that person … or for yourself. Wisdom is knowing who to listen to and that kind of wisdom can only be gleaned from God. Study His word, get to know Him and everything else will fall into place.

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On Your Knees

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A mother prays for her child suffering from leukemia. A son prays for his father whom he is not ready to relinquish to God and heaven just yet. A neighbor prays with a woman who has just been told she has breast cancer. They are all asking God for a miracle. They are asking Him to remove the mountain in their life.

In Mark 11:23-24, we read, “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” The trouble with mountains is that what looks like a mountain to one person is only a hill to another. God is the one who determines the size of a person’s mountain and He faithfully walks with each person who seeks Him.

But does He answer the way we want Him to or does He know what’s best? A TV show a few years ago was titled ‘Father Knows Best’ and, while it did depict a few times when the father figure made mistakes, God, our heavenly father never does. He really does know what’s best for the person we’re praying for and for the person who does the praying. He will either take the mountain away, walk you through it, or take you from the mountain to be with Him.

When we pray for a sick child, we can’t imagine a win/win situation. Losing a parent leaves a large hole in our lives, and those who are left behind when a young woman dies of cancer, are devastated. We want God to intervene, to do a miracle and sometimes He chooses to heal immediately, the miracle we seek. At other times, His miracle is walking us through the situation. A young family watched and prayed as their little nine-year-old girl lost her hair, and wavered on the brink of death for several months. Today she is the mother of two active children and cancer-free. God walked right beside them the entire time.

We know miracles happen today just as they did when Jesus walked the earth. The problem is, we are so self-sufficient we often do not recognize them. We give credit to a doctor or a certain medicine when in fact it is all about God and His timing. God knows what we need to build a relationship with Him and that is His goal. Prayer is a conduit in that relationship, a means to reach out to Him, our lifeline.

Are you a rebellious child who stomps their foot when things don’t go their way. Or is it possible for you to submit to the Father’s timetable and goals? Are you open to believing that God loves you just the way you are but does not intend to leave you there? Do you know that He loves your friend, your daughter, more than you do and knows what’s best for you and them? Prayer will strengthen and place you just where the Father wants you … on your knees.

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A Walk to Remember

As I speak God’s promises, they come to pass. They stop all attacks, assaults, oppression, and fear from my

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life.

Last night I was walking on a snow covered roadway, enjoying the quiet of a winter evening. Snowflakes fluttered down all around me, slip-sliding this way and that through the frozen air, past streetlights, and around buildings. My breath hung in the air, windless, except when a car drove past. The whole scene was filled with peace and, even though I am not thrilled with the length of winter in Canada, God’s grace surrounded me with beauty and contentment flowed through my soul.

Have you ever had a time like that, when nothing could make life more fulfilling? One hymn writer summed it all up when he wrote, “It is well with my soul.” He had lost most of his family and yet he could say, with God a major part of his life, that his soul was at peace.

There are many, people who live next door or we see at the supermarket, who have never experienced that peace and contentment. They are in constant struggle to accomplish this or that, to do better, to be better, to have more. Taking the time to walk along a roadway and enjoy the Lord’s creation is not part of their schedule. Their lives are filled with stress, struggle, and discontent.

These are the people we are called to pray with and for. In 2 Peter, Chapter 1, verses 2-4, Peter begins his letter with a salutation. He says, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Then he reminds us, “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.”

Peter, although he walked with Jesus, side by side, was not always as confident of his faith as he recorded in these words. He had to grow spiritually and most of that growth happened long after Jesus returned to His Father in heaven. Peter learned to rely on God through the trials in his life that forced him to remember the words spoken to him by Jesus on those long country roads as they walked together. He writes them so we can be reminded when things are not going our way, that peace and grace come from God.

Contentment aside from God is almost impossible. Without Him, we get caught up in the world of materialism, a worship of things and position. There is never enough in that world. Our sense of contentment draws those who strive for more and better. They see the peace that radiates from us because we walk closely with Jesus. That peace opens doors, provides an opportunity to pray for them, to share our faith with them.

When was the last time you looked around at all that you have and felt complete? We are so blessed in this country and have so much to be thankful for. Spend time thanking God for your life and then open the door to pray with a neighbor or a fellow biker. Remember that ‘His divine power has given us everything’ and that our life has been blessed by Him. Tell someone about Him so they can feel the contentment that belonging to Jesus brings. Take a walk and remember.

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Biker Blessing

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Displayed on the windshield or the forks of a motorcycle, you will often see a sticker that says the biker has been blessed and the year. Motorcycle riders know that they need to ride defensively because some vehicle during that riding season may not see them and cause an accident. For a biker, that accident is often critical. So they accept a prayer for safety during the riding season whether they are believers or not. Then they receive a sticker reminding them that they have been prayed for.

It is the one time for many to acknowledge that God is in control and that He can send His angels of protection. Every time they see the sticker, they are reminded that God is and one day, they will stop ignoring Him. At least that is the hope of those who conduct these Biker Blessing events.

Another time when prayer is important, and this time mostly to Christian Bikers, is when they begin a journey, whether it’s a two-hour trip or an all-day destination. Bikers pray for God’s hand of protection, for alertness, and for the motorists to see them clearly with no animals any closer than the tree line. Protection is something they seek for the day ahead.

In Luke, chapter 10, verse19, the Bible says, “I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” It reminds us that our authority over the things that would harm us comes from God. We acknowledge His control over our lives, as Christ-followers, and He will either walk us around the situation, through the situation or take us out of the situation to live with Him for eternity.

In the book of Daniel, we read about three young men who were thrown into a firey furnace because they would not bow down and worship the golden stature of the king of Babylon. They pleaded with God to protect them but said that even if He would not, they would not bow down to the stature. Their resolve was, “Either way, I win.” They knew that God would protect them one way or the other.

And He did. He brought them out of the fiery furnace and even walked with them in it. Our petitions before a Holy God are not always in line with what He wants to do in our lives but no matter the answer, either way, we win if we are followers of Jesus Christ. Prayer is our lifeline. That’s when we seek the only one who has all the answers and when we can best acknowledge that He is the answer to life’s problems.

We have authority, Dr. Luke says. God has given us the right, as His children, to do battle against the evil that is perpetrated against us. The enemy prowls round to seek, kill, and destroy but we have the power to thwart his plans for us by seeking the face of God through prayer. Don’t begin your day, whether riding a motorcycle or not, without turning it over to the Lord. Don’t travel without Him as your pilot. Pray in all things, believing that He has your back.

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Wisdom Seekers

I have insight. I have wisdom. I have ideas and divine strategies. I have authority.

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Where do you seek wisdom? Do you resort to text books or the internet? Do you have a peer group who you can rely on to share their wisdom? What about the senior members of your family? Has it ever occurred to you that they have lived a good many years more than you have and have gained wisdom and knowledge that cannot be obtained any place else?

The senior members of a family used to be the first ones whom a young woman or a young man would seek when they wanted to know something. Communities were built around family members as children were born or fields were planted and harvested. The young sat at the feet of the older members to pick their brain, to learn, and to listen. Leviticus 19, verse 32 says, “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.”

Not so today. Seniors are ignored in most families as someone who is out of the loop, can’t possibly understand what the younger generation is going through or are too far behind the times. Respect for age is a lost art, even in Japan where, at one time, senior parents lived with their children, were venerated and cared for. These days, the largest population of homeless, in Japan, is seniors.

Our ultimate source of wisdom is God. The Bible says, in James 1:5-8, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” Seeking wisdom from God is a good thing to do.

When we pray for a medical miracle, do we only accept a complete healing miraculously from God or do we accept healing from God-appointed sources like doctors and pharmacologists? Where do you think they got the knowledge to do what they do? If we ignore the people God places in our life as sources of wisdom, how long will it be before God refers to us as double-minded because we did not recognize His intervention when we asked for it.

The family structure was designed by God for a reason. Parents’ guide their children; teach them along the pathway of life, as God planned. They are told to seek His advice when teaching and training a child where he should go, so if they are doing that, why aren’t young people listening anymore?

There are many active seniors living a lot longer than they used to. But one day, they will disappear from the lives of those God has entrusted to them. One day their wisdom, their insight, their experience will disappear unless the younger generation decides that the ideas they share are worth listening to and implementing. Wisdom comes from God and parents, grandparents carry it to the world.

Look around. Who do you know, that you could spent time with, and pick their brain? What about the older gentleman living all by himself next door? Or the older woman who sits alone day after day with a ton of information in her brain that could benefit anyone willing to listen. Maybe you have a parent who has walked where you walk and could smooth over some of the rough edges, show you that this problem or that one is not as bad as you think it is while you are in the midst of it. For the seniors out there, take the time to listen, offer advice when asked, but above all, accept when your advice is not adhered to … this time. Maybe it will be next time.

Our greatest prayer warriors are the senior generation. They do utilize their God-given wisdom when they pray for friends and family. It is their prayers that can change the circumstances in a young person’s life as they intervene before the God of the Universe. Wisdom from God attached to a fervent prayer warrior can do spiritual battle like no other. Find your prayer warrior and show them the respect they deserve.

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Nervous Accomplishment

I remember a few years ago, when I decided that it was time I began crossing items off my bucket list. For those of you who have not given your mortality a lot of thought, a bucket list is the things you’ve always wanted to do or want to do before you die.

That year, I decided to become a certified scuba diver. I had done a couple of dives in Key West, Florida so knew I’d like it. I enrolled in a course, did all the classroom work, spent the required time trying everything out in the water, and then, on the third day, drove to the beach again where I would do the certification test in the water. I was nervous.

A verse flowed to the surface of my mind. It moved the fear aside, as I suited up and began to walk into the water. In the book of Philippians, chapter 4, verse 13 says, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” That verse gave me the confidence to complete the requirement for scuba certification. Even at forty feet, when the instructor left me to find a couple of other students, I was able to remain calm as I concentrated on that verse.

Now, I really don’t believe that God meant for us to rely on those words to accomplish personal goals as much as to accomplish the things He asks us to do for His honor and glory.  There are times when God asks us to step out of our comfort zone into a situation that makes us feel uncomfortable. During those times, He promises to give us the strength to obey and accomplish what He has asked us to do.

Sometimes, placing ourselves in a situation where we can pray for another human being makes us feel uncomfortable. We’re not used to praying out loud or in front of someone else, but there’s this person looking you in the eye, expecting. God will give you the strength for that situation.

Rely, not on your own strength, but on the strength that God has for you, seeking His words, and His compassion for that person. Be confident that God already knows the problem and He will use you to touch the life of another human being … if you rely on Him and Him alone. You may still be nervous inside but you will accomplish whatever is set before you with Him.

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Trusting Confidence

The story of Abraham and Isaac is a familiar one to many who have spent any time in the Bible or attended Sunday school as a child. God asked Abraham to take Isaac up the mountain, and once there, to sacrifice him to the Lord. Abraham had been walking with the Lord for many years by this time so He, in obedience, packed all that would be needed to build an altar, and took his son to the top of the mountain to meet God.

Abraham demonstrated a level of trust in God that few of us have experienced. We trust in our mechanical devices or our electronic devices far more than we trust the God of the Universe. We trust that an airplane will fly or a bridge will hold as we drive over it. How many times have we seen pictures on TV about airplane crashes or a bridge that collapsed just as rush hour traffic was at its thickest? We trust in the work of man’s hands, rather than God who has never failed us and is always available when we need Him.

Trust is an issue when we pray. We ask something of God and yet, we don’t really trust that He will deliver an answer, even a negative one. Abraham knew and believed God when He said that He would make a great nation out of Abraham’s descendants. He trusted that God would do as He said and use Isaac for that purpose. So, while I am sure His heart was heavy, he planned to do exactly as God asked. His obedience is well recorded in Biblical history.

The Bible records some of David’s anguish at various times in his life in the book of Psalms. King David was a songwriter and the words he recorded came from his heart. In Psalm 91, verses 2 and 3, he says, “I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.” David was placing his trust in God for all the trials that he faced.

Abraham and Isaac arrived at the place God told him about, prepared the altar and lay Isaac across it. The Bible does not record Isaac’s dismay at being a sacrifice but I am sure words were exchanged between father and son. The father demonstrated trust and God honored him by providing an alternative for the sacrifice in the form of a ram caught in a nearby bush. God knew Abraham’s heart and knew that he was planning to follow the Lord’s instructions to the letter. Genesis 22:5 – He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

When we trust that God will answer our prayers, as David prayed and as Abraham’s heart probably did, even though he did not voice a request, our prayers are more powerful and full of confidence. People listen and are then, themselves, filled with confidence in the God of creation. A confident pray-er displays unlimited trust in God and His abilities, not their own.

Are you a confident pray-er? Do you trust God for the answers to your prayers and the prayers you pray for others? When we place our trust in God, not man, we can be sure that He will answer, either yes, no, or maybe, but that whatever His answer, it is for our best.

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