You will indeed go out with joy
and be peacefully guided;
the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
The scorching Georgia heat radiated off the black tar of the parking lot where I stood waiting to meet my son. He was running late, and I was quickly running out of patience. To make the most of the delay, I pulled out my cell phone to check emails. But as soon as I read the first sentence, the sickening sight of a blank screen and dying battery appeared, and my frustration level escalated.
I felt a slight, welcomed breeze blow through my hair as I looked for a shady place to sit, and I glanced toward the sky to see if a summer storm might be brewing. That’s when I noticed the lone tree topped with limbs forming a perfectly shaped cross. The beautiful scene stopped me in my tracks as I felt God nudging me with a reminder that my day had been so jammed with appointments and to-do lists, I had not taken time out for HIM. He too had been waiting for His child to meet Him…and she was too busy.
“Holy goosebumps” tingled from head to toe as I felt God bending down reminding me to align my priorities appropriately. He paused my schedule right there in the blazing hot parking lot to send me a sign of His love. The tree He destined as my messenger also served as my shade from the scorching sun. I remembered the verse from Isaiah,
“You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
Joy and peace were blatantly absent from the hours leading up tho this moment, but my frustration melted into joy while I treasured this heaven-sent gift. I did not schedule this divine appointment, but I am so thankful that He interrupted my chaotic life with a holy meeting.
I pray that God will open your eyes and ears to the sights and sounds of mountains singing and trees clapping their praise to Him…or growing their limbs in the shape of a cross! Make your time with Him a priority, and He will fill you with joy and guide you peacefully through your day.
“Look! I’m making everything new.
Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”
On the first day of a brand New Year, are you looking forward to closing the door on your past and opening the door to your future? Perhaps you are glad for the chance to breathe in the freshness of the new possibilities that the coming year might bring. Are there pages (or entire chapters?) that you would like to delete from your life’s story? “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.” Ephesians 3:14 – 17 (MSG)
By opening the door of your life to Christ, He promises to bring about a glorious transformation inside of you, and you’ll be renewed from the inside out. There’s no better way to start out the new year than by accepting the gift of a fresh start with God. He alone can erase the pain of your past and the mistakes you’ve made along the way. You don’t have to spruce up for God or clean up your act before turning to Him. He meets you right where you are with His limitless love and grace. By inviting Christ to be the center of your life, He’ll be the compass guiding you along the path to your very best future.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12: 1-2 (MSG)
Now take a deep breath, close the door to your past, open the door to your best future, and step through to a new life with God!
- “In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord. Isaiah 66:9 (NCV)
- Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2(NIV)
“So the impossible is possible with God.”
Luke 1:37 (VOICE)
With God, nothing is impossible! What an encouraging, universal truth. Though the demands you face today may seem insurmountable in light of your own limitations and weaknesses, remind yourself that The God of All Possibilities is right beside you, as an ever-present help. He simply asks that you trust Him and stay connected to His limitless resources through each moment of the day. When anxiety invades your thoughts and you feel overwhelmed, turn your attention away from obstacles and difficulties and focus on His capabilities, rather than your inabilities. When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. Remember that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than you could ever imagine or request in your wildest dreams.
If your life’s purposes and actions are directly aligned with God’s will, nothing can derail you. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, every moment of your day. Trust Him to illuminate each step of your journey and to equip you to handle any problems that come your way. It’s through your weaknesses that God displays His infinite strength, so His power working through you is an unstoppable combination!
- “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)
- “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV)
- “God is our shelter and our strength. When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. So why run and hide?” Psalm 46:1 (VOICE)
- “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
- “But he said to me, “My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So I am very happy to brag about how weak I am. Then Christ’s power can rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIRV)
- “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)
“We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything
to work toward something good and beautiful
when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.”
Romans 8:28 (VOICE)
Do you know certain individuals who can always take the “lemons” in life and make lemonade ~ those people who can seemingly make the best out of the worst situations? You may wonder how they do it. How can they possibly keep a smile on their face and joy in their heart when their world seems to be falling apart? It’s likely that those individuals have a quiet confidence from within ~ the confidence that their Heavenly Father is orchestrating everything in their lives ~ even the bad things ~ to create a beautiful masterpiece.
Let’s face it, life’s not always perfect. No one is immune to the imperfections of this world. Things happen. Mistakes are made. Accidents occur. Tragedy strikes. Relationships fall apart. Diseases spread. Bad decisions lead to terrible outcomes. But regardless of the situation, the Master Craftsman promises His children that He is able to pick up the broken pieces and fashion them into something good and lovely. He is able to take the problems and difficulties in your life and use them for your benefit. Trust that His wisdom is sufficient to weave every detail of your life (both good and bad) into a beautiful pattern, transforming you more into His likeness. As your trust in Him grows, you will spend less time looking backward, wishing things could be different, and more time looking ahead with hope and anticipation of the future He is preparing for you.
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” Jeremiah 17:7
“Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams,
a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift.
And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great.
The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders.
His name? His name we’ll know in many ways—
He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing,
Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6 (VOICE)
What an amazing birth announcement this beautiful passage describes ~
A child is born. Sweet breathed, living gift to the world. Hope of all hopes. Dream of our dreams. Even with his tiny features and dewy hair…He is Great.
His name? He will be known by many names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Christ the Lord, Dear Father Everlasting, Ever-present Never-failing, Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace, Messiah, Son of God…Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.
The good news about Jesus is that He came for ALL…even the least of the least ~ the plain, the ordinary, the sinners, the misfits, the outcasts. He came for YOU! Jesus is your gift from God. As we celebrate the birth of our precious Savior, thank God for His living gift to the world!
- “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:9 – 12 (NIV)
- “For God so loved the world, that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)
“No matter what happens, always be thankful ~
For this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (TLB)
It’s easy to have a grateful heart when life is moving in a positive direction, when there is smooth sailing ahead, when showers of blessings are raining down upon your head, when everything is “right” in your world. But it’s not so easy to be thankful when you face adversities, illness, financial pressures, relationship problems, or other trials. Yet grateful people seem to have an inner feeling of contentment, a supernatural sense of joy that can only come out of a thankful heart. They find ways to be thankful, even in the deepest valleys of life. Ungrateful people are grumpy, constantly complaining, and find it difficult to be happy in life. They haven’t realized that the “secret” to happiness is simply having an attitude of gratitude…no matter what happens.
If you are continually focused on the things you don’t have, you can never be grateful for the blessings you do have! God wants you to be thankful…no matter what. He knows exactly what you are going through, and when you thank Him in those tough times, your focus turns to Him instead of your problems. It’s amazing how the simple act of acknowledging His presence in your life makes Him seem larger and your problems seem smaller. Trusting that He works everything out for your good is one key to being thankful in ALL circumstances.
Take time today to focus on being thankful. Express your gratitude to God for His constant presence in your life and His never-ending love and mercy toward you.