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)

Interruptions or Opportunities?| Teoria Murray

One lazy Sunday afternoon, I was lounging in bed engrossed in a good book, relishing in the rarity of a weekend off work. I planned to immerse myself in the peace and quiet, only moving from my bedroom to the kitchen and back again as needed.   

In the middle of my relaxation, the doorbell rang, and I dragged myself to the door. It was my aunt and uncle, making a spontaneous visit. Before I could greet them, I had the wind knocked out of me by an enthusiastic hug around my abdomen. My 7-year-old cousin Hannah gave me a wide smile. 

“Teoria! I’ve been wanting to play with you all day!” she gushed.

I swallowed a sigh and returned her embrace. My relaxation would be put on hold for the moment.

We have all felt the frustration of being interrupted or delayed. We can find ourselves interrupted or thrown off course by long lines, needy neighbors, traffic, or loved ones in crisis.

On a larger scale, sometimes God interrupts our plans with His own. When Jesus was born into our world, it was in a place and at a time when no one was expecting Him. Zacharias, an elderly priest with a beloved but barren wife, was faithfully serving in the temple of the Lord when an angel appeared. Prayers, perhaps long abandoned, were answered in the pronouncement that he would be the father of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. Though initially he doubted, Zacharias experienced the faithfulness of God.

Months later, Mary was interrupted by the news that she would bear the Savior. She was engaged to be married in a culture where even the suggestion of impropriety carried severe penalties. Yet ,she embraced her calling, responding to the angel,

 “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” (Luke 1:38 NLT)

On the night Christ was born in Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were involved in the quiet mundane routine of tending their sheep. Their ordinary night was transformed by the appearance of a multitude of angels announcing the Savior’s birth. God chose an unlikely group of men in an unlikely location and showcased His glory to them. With great joy, they went in search of Jesus and found Him just as they had been told. Like the shepherds, wise men from the East received revelation of the birth of the king of the Jews and traveled to Bethlehem, following a star. Their faith was rewarded when they found the child Jesus and were able to worship Him and present Him with gifts.

These divine interruptions were more important than those affected could have imagined at the time. 

Christian author Ellen G. White once wrote, “God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.” 

To experience God’s best and highest desires for us, we must be in step with Him in our daily lives. This is only possible through consistent prayer and the study of God’s word, so we can recognize His voice. 

Most of us will not experience the appearance of angels to redirect our path. Instead, we may hear God calling us aside in the counsel of a spiritual advisor, a new and unexpected opportunity, or even a closed door. At these times, we have a decision to make because God will not force our hand. 

Mary could have chosen not to be a vessel and nurturer for God’s Son, preferring to follow the plan she had already envisioned for her life.  The shepherds could have continued their duties as usual. The wisemen could have dismissed the star that guided them and returned to their studies. God would have chosen others to carry on His plans, but those who refused would have missed out in a big way.

It is wise to have plans and goals for each day, but let’s not be too rigid. Always leave room for miracles, because what looks to us like falling off track may actually be God setting us up for an amazing journey. So the next time you are interrupted, pause and seek God’s word on the matter. That apparent delay could be a blessing in disguise.

Your Will be Done| By Zuzana Niedelova

Looking for a job can be lots of hard work. Most of us have been there. Our enthusiasm at the beginning slowly drops and changes to discouragement, and suddenly, we are only a step away from frustration.

That is what happened to me a few weeks ago. After a dreadfully difficult season, I came to a point when I was applying for any and every job that I came across, but nothing seemed to work out in my favor. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, an ad popped up in my browser saying a Christian youth working organization was hiring.

The position seemed like all I ever wanted – working with young people from various backgrounds and organizing projects to bring a bit of Jesus into their lives. It would even work around my part-time studies and the other job I do – perfect. So I applied and started praying: 

“Lord, I’ll be honest. This job looks amazing, and I’d absolutely love to do it, but if it’s not something you want for me, make it clear. Your will be done!”

The time went by, and I still had that prayer in the back of my head – you know the best, Lord, do your work.

A day before the application deadline, I was hanging out with a friend who happened to be looking for a job too. She was a youth worker as well. As her friend, I told her about this opportunity. Long story short, she got the job, and I did not.

Did I know it was not the most strategic move? Of course I did. Did I help her find the application and figure out what to do? You bet I did. Was I upset when she told me she got the job? Well, how could I be?

Throughout the whole time I was praying, “Lord, I trust you, do it your way.”

So when I had that chat trying to convince her to apply, I knew it was not lowering my chances to get the position.

I knew if God wanted me to work with those specific young people, I would. If He had someone better than me, great! I would not want to be in God’s way of blessing others. So when she came to me with a deep regret in her eyes and told me she was offered the position, I was filled with joy, not only because she needed this kind of change, but because God’s will for the place was to use my good friend who I became so proud of.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 (NKJV)

Often, it is so easy to pray for God’s will to be done here on earth, but how many times do we actually trust Him as strongly as we proclaim we do? To be honest, my reaction surprised me a little bit too. I thought I would have been hurt much more if I had not gotten the job, let alone if my friend got it instead.

But you know what? It does not matter.

It does not matter because if we pray for God’s will to be done, we give up all of our expectations, humble ourselves and choose to trust no matter what happens.

We give up the right to think we know what is the best; we are willing to follow God even if it does not match our own plan. Praying for God’s will to be done does not mean everything will work out for us, but we can be sure it will work out for His Kingdom, if we only trust Him enough to rejoice in that.

Take a minute now, close your eyes if you can and pretend you are all alone. Forget everything you need to do or what you have just done. It is only you and the Lord.

Can you see how good He is?

How mighty and loving He is?

That He is on your side?

Are you going to trust him and pray for His will to be done, leaving your hopes and ideas behind? Do not worry. He is a good Father, and He is holding you in His mighty hand. His will be done.

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.