This is the Year| By Jasmine Beard

Year after year, people make resolutions, set goals, and even come up with a plan to change for the new year.

I am all about plans and goals, but I definitely do not think they have to be designated just for the beginning of the year.

Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2 (NKJV)

It is never too early or too late to evaluate your life and start again, dream again, and redo something you have failed at in the past.

For the past two years I have planned to read the One Year Bible. And both years sometime around March, I have gotten so far behind in my Bible plan that I forfeit it all together and settle for shorter more attainable Bible reading goals.

You would think this year I wouldn’t even put reading the One Year Bible on my goal list.  But come November of 2019, I had already purchased the one year Bible and by December I was already questioning my decision. I would think to myself, “why did I even buy that?”, “I probably won’t finish it, just like every other year.”, “maybe I should have committed to reading the One Year Bible on my phone, that way it would be easier to face defeat when I don’t complete it.”

It was in that precise moment that the Holy Spirit quickened me, He said, “with that way of thinking and speaking to yourself you will fail, change your thinking.”

Phew! 

Past failures can leave us hopeless and can stop us from even setting goals.

We think to ourselves, “maybe I am just meant to be fat”, “maybe I am always going to deal with fear and anxiety”, “I will never be able to follow a budget”.

And believe it or not those words have power. I mean God used words to create the earth and all its livelihood. And even Adam created the names of animals by his words.

So, do not discredit the power of your words. Whether spoken out loud or inwardly they can have a major effect on your mind and can be the demise of you not finishing or accomplishing the goals you so desperately need to.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue..” Proverbs 18:21 NKJV

This is the year.

It is the year that you can accomplish that goal and can be free from what you have always wanted to be free from.

Some of my biggest accomplishments goal wise have been because of God’s grace carrying me to the finish line, amazing accountability, and mindset.

Today, if you know that you are not capable of achieving that goal. Change your way of thinking to think “I don’t have to achieve this goal, but God can through me.”

If your goal involves better health, a better financial state, a life free from anxiety, guess what? God desires that for you too and will give you the grace to complete it.

So trust God, change the way you speak about those goals, and surround yourself with community that will hold you accountable to your goals.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Life Is Not a Race| By Jasmine Beard

We live in a world that is super fast-paced. So long dial-up internet, buffering, and anything that brings the slightest inconvenience. We now carry the internet in the palm of our hands and can get any fancy restaurant to deliver us meals to our home.

I have often considered myself a runner. Not in the athletic way (although that is a goal in 2019), but just in a life sort of way. I have often wanted to pass through circumstances and situations in my life, skip chapters, peek to the next page, or to the end of the book.

I often say, “I am not in a competition with others, but in a competition all on my own.”

However, something I have noticed while running is that I miss things, I overlook things, and I forget to catch my breath and appreciate where I am, who I am with, and the journey we call life.

When the Bible talks about Jesus traveling, it never mentions that he ran somewhere. Think about it. He walked, and walked, and sometimes took a boat or a donkey. But never ever ran (atleast to my knowledge).

Jesus was not anxious as I can sometimes find myself to be, he did not worry about tomorrow, when His arrival time was, or what others were doing or saying about Him.

He simply walked. He walked the path God had paved for Him since the creation of the earth. Jesus had a certainty and a trust in God for where His life was headed and the miracles He could do without Him being in a hurry.

I think my nature to plan and run everywhere is because I sometimes think I have something to prove naysayers wrong and push my potential to its peak. Instead of fully relying on God in my life journey, I can at times rush to accomplish what my mind is set on.

This is a ploy from the enemy. He loves to see us run, gasping for breath, and losing stamina. If we run and even walk in our own strength, it is vain. We are instead to walk with God and allow Him to be the light unto our paths, no matter the pace we are going.

Jesus walked many places and was never in a hurry. The death and resurrection of Lazarus in John 11:1-41 (read here) reminds me of Jesus’ lack of urgency.

When Jesus got word that Lazarus (a dear friend of his) was sick, He did not urgently run to his aid. He trusted the word of the Lord and chose to wait and then walk.

John 41:4-11 (NLT) says,

4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”

5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,

6 he stayed where he was for the next two days.

7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”

8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”

9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world.

10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”

11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”

Wow, not a sense of panic or a desire to run in urgency. Jesus did not allow other people’s anxieties, thoughts of/for Him, or urgencies to cause Him to rush God’s plan to bring resurrection life back to Lazarus. He simply walked at the pace He felt led to and let God lead His path.

Maybe you are in life, and you feel less accomplished than most. People tell you you need to hurry up, that you are losing time, or maybe these are words you speak to yourself. I want to encourage you today to pause, wait, and walk. Walk the path that God paved for you since the creation of the earth. No competition, just you and God, walking this life journey out together.

New Year Reminders|By Stephanie Cain

We are freshly into a new year. I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly sure where 2018 went. Nevertheless, the new year is here, and with it comes the wave of “New Year, New Me” resolutions. Discounts on gym memberships and things to help you organize every part of your life are at an all time high. In the middle of all of that, I would like to take a moment to remind us of a few things.

First, just breathe and be still. The Lord says to “Be still.” In the our society today it can be so easy to get caught up in striving for “perfection” which often means pushing yourself, your time, your body, and your money to the max. Be sure to take time to also be still with the Lord.

Second, you do not have to have your entire life planned out for the next 365 days. You don’t have to have all your meals planned, workout days mapped, and new routines scheduled to the minute. The Bible says,

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

Please do not take this as me saying planning and goal setting is wrong. Laying out steps to reach goals is important and often requires taking control of the flesh which is an important spiritual discipline.However, what would our 2019 look like if we took time out to seek the Lord for what His plans are for us this year? Maybe He’s calling you to a new ministry in your church, or to open up your home more for fellowship. Maybe He wants you to take a year to focus on prayer. Walking in and fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives will bring a much bigger sense of accomplishment, joy, and peace than reaching any of our goals.

Lastly, if you are like the majority of us, and you give up on your resolutions by January 16th, please know that you are not defined by that failure. Remember that you are chosen, cherished, loved, and purchased with an immeasurable price. Hold fast to the truths that nothing is impossible through Christ and in Him we can overcome the world because He already has! You do not have to accept defeat. This life on earth is a race with many legs. Keep going with the Lord!

I pray that 2019 is a year of spiritual growth for you. That this year would be a year of overcoming the world. Most of all, I pray that this year is a year of salvation. Salvation for those around you, and if you haven’t accepted Christ, that it is a year of salvation for you. Looking forward to all that God is going to do in our lives this year.