This Can Be The Year by Sonya

 

ID 54901128 © Nastia1983 | Dreamstime.comThis can be the year where God says, “Well done good and faithful servant!”  As we reflect on 2015 and remember the good and bad moments, we can strengthen by what we learned and bring our new insight into 2016.   Most importantly we can grow more deeply in our faith with God and fall even deeper in love with HIM. My goal for 2016 is to spiritually grow closer to God and be a brighter light for HIM. I don’t want to stay the same in my spiritual walk but to be transformed by the renewing of my mind and spirit. I desire to fall in love with Him all over again and develop the traits and character of Christ. How do we do that?

As I was praying, God told me three areas: to see more like Him, speak more like Him and to think more like Him. This first area can be hard if we have blinders up and can’t see the things that God sees. Our prayer should be in this area that God would lift those blinders so we can see where He wants us.  If that is giving a friendly smile at the grocery store when we see someone is down or seeing a homeless person and not walking away but doing something about it or seeing how we can help someone that has lost their job or loved one.  God show us how to have your lenses and see the light in the darkness of the world. Let us be that light this year!

The second area is to speak more like Him.  This area God is working overtime on me as I can encourage everyone else around me but at times the closest ones I love are the ones I speak to most harshly. As James put it, this is not right!  My mouth should be a reflection of Christ and blessings and life should pour from it not words to tear someone down.  The way we speak has a lot to do with what is going on in our heart.  God may have to make over our heart in this New Year to allow His words to flow out of us and be a vessel of His truth!

The third area is to think more like Him.  My mind is the backbone of how I see things and speak because if I don’t have a sound mind in Christ, I am going to look at life differently and not see, speak, and think the things of God. How we think is crucial in our spiritual walk and in order for us to look like Christ this year we have to renew our minds. Romans 12:2 says it perfectly, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect!”

In 2016, our desire should be to line up with His will and follow Him wholeheartedly. Let’s not sit back in this New Year and think this is going to happen on its own. Take action, this can be your year to see, to speak, and to think more clearly like Jesus. I want to look more like Jesus by the end of 2016 and that is God’s desire for each of you! Will you join me? Can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for each of you! Let’s get started!

 

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Peace by Bombi

 

ID 47558191 © Rocketclips, Inc. | Dreamstime.com

 

So it’s 2016, where did 2015 go? Maybe you had the best year yet, maybe it was the worst you’d ever had. Wherever you find yourself, I pray you find your place of peace in 2016. You see tribulations and trials are waiting right around the corner. The Bible even said that they not only will come, but they must come. You know what else will come? Some good times, some funny stuff, some smiles, and many blessings. With all of the New Year’s resolutions and last year’s reflections, I hope you can see yourself standing in the place of peace.

I say these things because this past year has been such a mixed bag and if I had no grounding and no seeking Jesus for peace, I could have read into so many things incorrectly. God has given me grace to stay patient in the face of some confusing situations. Had I faced these things just a few short years ago, I don’t know if I would have had the spiritual stamina to just hold my peace. But that’s just what I’ve done. Not because I prayed 20 hours out of 24, or fasted for forty days and forty nights. It was because in the morning, or at night, or during the day, when I was facing the unfortunate events, I would simply think “Jesus.” Not in a disrespectful and vain way, but in an honest way. A sober way. A way that was calling out his precious name. Jesus, I need you. Jesus help me. Jesus, give me wisdom. It’s been these simple prayers in my heart that I have found the quiet strength I needed to keep my gaze steady and my faith from flailing.

I hope someone hears me as they read these words. I hope someone knows that they are not alone when they are facing things they never dreamed they would, and instead of eloquently praying they are stopped in their tracks and left with the simplicity of calling on the name of Jesus. I hope someone is realizing that the name of Jesus is a strong tower, that the name of Jesus is the name above all names, that demons have to flee at that name, that sickness will leave at that name. That hearts will be healed at the mention of that name and minds will be kept in perfect peace.

Happy New Year my friends, peace be unto you!

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust you. Isaiah 26:3 NIV

 

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The Eraser by Kenika

 

 

ID 50492655 © Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com

Regret is a horrible, awful, time-consuming enemy to your future.  I live my life in a reflective state. Which means I am constantly overviewing past decisions, critiquing current decisions, or contemplating the implications of future decisions.  I stay in one of those three places at all times.  Because I am analytical in this sense, I often have to fight the urge to be overtaken with regret.  If I spend too much time in the past, I think of all the things I could have or should have done differently.  Then, I start listing all the things I would do over, the specific events or people that I wish I could erase.

I was looking at photos from a couple of years ago and I stumbled across a picture I posted of my aunt at her last birthday party before she passed away.  I immediately got emotional and it took me a minute to pinpoint exactly why.  I eventually came to terms with the fact that I had been cursing a situation I was in because I got so hurt.  I would often think or say, “I wish that never happened.”  I regretted it and I wanted to rid myself of its consequences and all parties involved.  The tricky part of it though, is that if this situation hadn’t taken place, I wouldn’t have been in attendance at that final birthday party.  I also wouldn’t have spent an entire week with my aunt laughing, catching up, and talking about the future for, what I now know, was the last time.  That time is so precious to me, and I will cherish it forever.

The decision I made seemed like a poor choice that brought me much suffering, but because of it, something absolutely priceless and beautiful came out of it.  Now I can wholeheartedly say that if only for those moments I had with her, I wouldn’t trade any of it.  I made the choice to stop beating myself up over it, and whatever your situation may be I encourage you to do the same.  Perhaps you were vulnerable and honest with the opening of your heart, and you got hurt as a result.  There is nothing wrong with that.  As easy as it would be to take a life-size eraser and go back and eliminate all of our mistakes, that would inevitably cause a ripple effect that would destroy every lesson, blessing, and unexpected miracle that came about as a result.  It’s hard to believe, but sometimes beauty is birthed out of tragedy.  Instead of erasing the past build from it, learn from it, and keep getting better and better as a result of it.

 

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Committed To Joy by Trish

ID 45120953 © Mimagephotography | Dreamstime.com

As a new year approaches I have several friends who have chosen a “word for the year” and to them that word represents what their area of growth or encouragement is for the next 12 months. I’ve adopted this same tradition and before 2015 came to a close, I thought carefully about the area where I need to grow in and maintain.  For me that word is JOY.

For the most part I’m known to be the encourager in a group, always smiling, always eager to be a resource of joy to and for others. However there are many times when my joy “tank” is empty and in those moments, I feel depleted and defeated and why is that? The joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) Joy is not only essential for the benefit of serving and sharing with others, it is your personal source of strength!

Having a heart full of joy means you choose to look at life through a different set of lenses. Not the “rose colored” ones where everything is perfect but rather, vision to see beyond your present circumstance and find the faithfulness of God woven through your life’s story. I believe this is why according to Hebrews 12:2 Jesus was able to endure the cross.  It was the joy that was set BEFORE Him. This tells me that joy has vision and it sees into the future!

As ladies let’s be aware of what can steal our joy. Now if you’re like me, when I get up in the morning I have my coffee and in those first few moments of a brand new day, all is well with the world. I have joy in my heart and then throughout the day the JK’s show up. JOY KILLERS!

I don’t know what your JK’s are maybe it’s slow moving drivers in rush hour traffic, perhaps it’s the “honey-do” list that continues to grow and those being “small” things, we know that people are facing even bigger Joy Killers like a loss of a loved one, failed relationship, financial pressure. Whatever is trying to rob you of your joy, recognize it, confront it and fight for your right to live your life with God’s joy!

My fiancé and I have been preparing for our wedding in less than 6 months and there was a scenario recently that completely stole my joy. In that moment, I didn’t even want my joy back and I wanted to be upset.  Ever felt that way, before? My incredible fiancé had to remind me that I was not facing a disaster and I had an opportunity to choose how I would allow the “imperfect” to influence me. What a blessing to know we have a choice in how we respond to life’s situations!

I have decided to be committed to joy this year.  This means I have the ability to access joy at any time. I heard a great scenario while visiting a church recently. The pastor stated that he hates it when his vehicle runs out of gas and here’s the reason why. When he runs out of gas it’s not because he has not passed by filling stations that could supply him with what he needed or that he didn’t have the resources in his account to access the fuel, it has been a matter of him being negligent in not accessing appropriately what was made available to him. He said it’s the same concept with our joy and peace.  Jesus has provided access for us to tap into His joy and His peace but we have to make time and effort to obtain what He’s already provided. This was good news to me. This means I have the ability to access joy no matter what. Now, I may need a moment or two or fifty to remind myself but it doesn’t negate the fact that I have access to joy in my life at any given moment.

The Bible tells us that in the presence of the Lord there is fullness of joy!  (Psalm 16:11) So while my situation may be less than glamorous, convenient or even fair, as I invite and acknowledge the presence of God throughout my day, I not only have the benefit of having God right there with me as my present help but He comes bearing gifts and joy happens to be just one of them.

Let’s start the New Year off with a commitment to joy and as we keep our joy tank filled, we’ll be a greater blessing to those around us as we freely share what we’re filled with!

 

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