I WILL Wednesday 1/22/2020

I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  Psalm 34:1

One of the most well known “I WILLs” in scripture is Psalm 34:1. It was written from a cave when David was hiding from King Saul. Ironically, while he was hiding, many others found David and began to follow him. They joined David on the run. Saul sought to take his life. All that he knew had changed. And now others had come under his care. Not ideal circumstances, but from what should have been a dismal situation, came a beautiful song of praise.

The entire Psalm is filled with admonishments, as David gives encouragement when he himself could have used it.
“oh magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together” (v. 3)
“Taste and see that the Lord Is good” (v.8)
“Fear the Lord you holy people” (v.9)
Here David only uttered what would be an encouragement to others and to himself. Praise continually.

It is difficult to praise and complain at the same time. Near impossible! Complaining keeps you in self pity. Praise lifts you out of that pit! Choose praise! Praise continually.

It is interesting to note that this Psalm was written like an acrostic poem in Hebrew. Each line starts with a letter in the Hebrew alphabet. This was a feature used to help the people remember and rehearse these truths over and over. David wanted them (and us) to remember this situation changing strategy. Praise the Lord at all times. Don’t let your circumstances change you, keep a praise on your lips and watch God move.

Can a beautiful song of praise rise from your dismal situation? Will you raise a hallelujah in the presence of enemies? Will you lift every praise to God when you are pressed on every side? Can you let praises rise from the inside so that you can be lifted up? Choose praise, and praise continually! Make this powerful declaration, “I WILL bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

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Do Not Despise Small Beginnings

Well, we are three weeks into 2020! The New Year’s excitement is waning and many are settling into their “normal.” Some are still grinding away at their goals, but, for some, discouragement and even disappointment is starting to set in. It’s not for lack of effort, or lack of motivation, but lack of results. Three weeks of advertising and promoting and only a few sales. Three weeks of praying, fasting, and dedication to a reading plan and no apparent breakthrough. Three weeks of diet and exercise and only a few pounds lost. Or worse, only three short weeks and already messed up, or, even worse, given up!

Last week we saw, in Zechariah 4, that Zerubbabel received encouragement to continue the work of rebuilding the temple.  (The Limits of Your Best) Discouragement had set in, and the Lord’s messenger reminded him, that it’s not by his power or might, but only by the Spirit of the Lord would the work be completed  (Zechariah 4:6 ).

A second part of this message speaks volumes to us. The Messenger goes on to pose the question, “Who dares despise the day of small things . . . ?” (Zechariah 4:10). Sadly, I’m guilty. I sometimes look at my meager results and wish things would move along a little—no a lot faster. And because it is not, I feel defeated and deflated. This is a hard one for me. I know that starting small is par for the course, but slow growth can be discouraging and frustrating. It is at these times, that I need this reminder not to despise small beginnings. The passage goes on to tell us why. “. . . for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT). He lovingly looks on to see us start the work He’s assigned to us. Our faithful Father’s eyes watch over the work and sees to it’s completion. Philippians 1:6 admonishes us to be “confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Don’t resent small beginnings! If God has given you the vision, resist discouragement. It may start out small but hold on.  He may give you a glimpse of the end result.  You may feel ready for that end right now, but you have to walk through each season of growth, preparation, and refining.  Starting small allows you to GROW through the process.

If your heart has been stirred with expectancy, don’t let your expectation dwindle. Don’t let small beginnings hinder you.  If God gave it to you, trust Him to bless it, grow it, and cause it to prosper and bear fruit.

Blessing,

EB

**read the other posts in this series Write the Vision (2020)  and The Limits of Your Best.

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The Limits of Your Best

Nothing pains me more, as a teacher, then for a student to truly do their best and still end up with a poor score. I know that all students can learn but they all don’t get it at the same time. So, to see one of my kiddos put their all into something and it be a failure is disheartening. It reminds me that there are limits to our best. Our best can take us but so far and sometimes, even at our best, we end up with failure.

As we continue to launch out towards the things of God in 2020, we can run full speed ahead—right into a wall because there are limits to our best. You can be a great speaker, but still struggle with reaching certain people. You may be an outstanding writer, but your words can fall on deaf ears. You might be the most methodical person, but your attention to details and out-of-the-box thinking cannot move the supernatural.

If you go in your own strength, the end will be less than God’s best. Your best pales in comparison to God’s best. There really is no comparison!

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When Zerubbabel set out to rebuild the temple, progress was halted and he became discouraged. A messenger of the Lord came and assured Zerubbabel that the work would be completed, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit”  (Zechariah 4:6 ).   His mission would be accomplished, but it would not be because of Zerubbabel’s skills or abilities, it would not be because of his gifts and talents. Any mission that God ordains can only be accomplished by His Spirit. What begins in the Spirit—that vision, that calling, that God-sized idea— cannot be completed in flesh. Only by the Spirit of God can we walk out the vision and calling He has entrusted into our hands.

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As you run with the vision God has given you, know that your best will only take you so far. Don’t rely on your own strength, skills, or abilities. Trust the supernatural empowerment of the Holy Spirit who can go places you can’t go, who can reach people you can’t reach and who can accomplish what you, even at your best, cannot accomplish.

#2020 #clearvision

(Have you written the vision? Write the Vision (2020)

I Will Wednesday 01/08/2020

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.  Psalm 27:1-3      

Happy New Year!

For many of us, the new year brings renewed focus. We look at our dreams and aspirations and we set out to put practices in place that help us reach those goals. If you are anything like me, you do this year after year. Some years we do well, but most often, by February, we’re adjusting our plan or even resigning to defeat. So many times obstacles appear and deter us from our goals. One main deterrent is fear.

Fear can stop us in our tracks and make us succumb to doubt.

King David thwarted fear with his confession found in Psalm 27. Though enemies threatened him and uncertainties loomed, David said “in this I WILL be confident.” “In this” refers to the truths declared at the beginning of the passage. Two beautiful truths that we can rest in.

The first truth, “the Lord is my light and salvation.” Darkness cannot cause me to fear, because The Lord is my light, He illuminates my path. No darkness can exist in the presence of His brilliance. Enemies cannot cause me to fear because the Lord is my salvation, He rescues and He saves. No enemy is a match for the power of God.

The second truth, “the Lord is the strength of my life”. King David was a skilled warrior. He was victorious in battle many times, but He never attributed his success to his own skills or abilities. He knew that, only in the Lord’s strength, could he win. The word strength here can be translated “Stronghold”-a fortified place of protection. In God’s strength I can only prevail.

We, too, can look forward with confidence knowing that we walk in the Lord’s illuminating light, in His Divine protection, and in His unrivaled strength. Then, come what may, we can say I WILL be confident.

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Write the Vision (2020)

Most of us enter the new year full of zeal and fervor. Excitement stirs at the potential of new beginnings. Dreams, goals, and visions are the words of the day and we start off running hard towards the things God has for us. Unfortunately, the zeal fades and the fervor is soon lost and we settle back into the ho-hum of everyday life. Believe it or not, a new year holds no power to change anything but the date. Nothing changes unless you change!

One specific practice we need to put in place is writing down the vision, the dream or the plan God has given you. Vision board gatherings are very popular, but sometimes they focus more on what we want and not on the things God has designed for us.  We should plan, we should have dreams and goals, but remember “it is the Lord’s will that prevails (Proverbs 19:21 ).” We must ensure that we have what God has said cemented in our minds and memories so that when we see it come to past we know that it is God and we will praise Him for it.

The book of Habakkuk gives us a look at God’s instructions to this prophet. Habakkuk bore the heavy weight of His people. He prayed and God gave him an answer. Then God gave him these instructions, “Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets that he who reads it may run with it (Habakkuk 2:2 ).  When you write down the vision, plainly, just as you’ve received, you as well as others are more inclined to run with it. This involves a few things. First, acknowledge the vision for your life. You have to see it and embrace it (Habakkuk’s name means one who embraces). Then, you have to make it known. No, not to everyone! Allow the Holy Spirit, through His wisdom, to lead you to someone who you can share with.

Several other scriptures speak of the importance of writing things down. When God allowed Moses and the Israelites to defeat the enemy that came up against them, He told him to write down the account of victory (Exodus 17:14 ). When God promised Jeremiah that He would restore Israel, He told him to write it down so that Jeremiah would have a record of God’s promise (Jeremiah 30:2 ).  As a teacher, I often have my students write the things they are learning in their own handwriting, because it helps the concepts to become cemented in their minds. God’s desire for our lives should be so rooted in our hearts and minds that we run with passion toward His plans.

And you want to run with the vision! But please understand what running with the vision entails. You must have patience. That seems contradictory—“you are asking me to run and wait?” Yes! You want to go in God’s timing so that you will have kingdom success. As God told Habakkuk “if it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time”  (Habakkuk 2:3 ).

To run with the vision, you have to do something. While you wait, pray, study, research, worship, prepare.  Be ready when doors open.  Also, put in place some spiritual checkpoints, some dates on the calendar where you check in on your forward progress. Be intentional about what you do for the Lord and watch Him bless the work He has called you to. Don’t leave 2020 with regrets! Write the vision then run with it.

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I WILL Wednesday 12/4/19

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

I WILL love you, oh Lord. Psalm 18:1

In today’s I WILL passage, King David declares that he will love the Lord. This is very timely for the Advent season. This season is all about love. God loves us so much that He sent His Son. ( John 3:16) Jesus loves us so much that He came to earth to show us the way and became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (John 1:1; Romans 5:8 ).  With love on display in such a beautiful way, we are compelled to respond.

Sadly, such a beautiful love has been rejected by a sinful world. Instead of embracing this love, some turn to the pleasures of sin that only provide temporary gratification. Even still, God’s love pursues us, seeking to change our hearts by His grace, favor, mercy, goodness, and kindness. God took the initiative, He made the first move. Therefore, “we love because He first loved us”( 1 John 4:19 ).

We should love the Lord God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus says that it is the greatest commandment, and also to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Let’s make an intentional effort, this holiday season and every day, to love. First, love the Lord emphatically. Then love others, which should be a natural extension of our love for God. And not just with words! Intentionally demonstrate love! Love is the reason Jesus came. That’s why we can say, I WILL LOVE!

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I WILL Wednesday 11/27/19

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I WILL trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

This is another praise filled passage from the heart of King David. He ascribed to the Lord, the glory due unto His name (Psalm 29:2 ).  Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Strength, Shield, Horn of Salvation, and Stronghold are the attributes used to describe God. They are the reasons David could confidently say “My God . . . in whom I will trust.” Every beautiful truth about our Father proves that He is fully trustworthy.

Though this is true, many believers struggle in the area of trust. We believe, yes, truly believe, but when it comes to seeing the fruit in our own lives, we stop short of trusting with abandon. Even when we want to. Especially when we need to.

Some translations read “in whom I take refuge.”  To take refuge is to find a safe place. This reminds me of the old hymn “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” The hymn writer shares about a sweet, tender place in his relationship with the Lord—a place of trust. That is a place where we can lay our burdens down, cast our cares at His feet, and receive the comfort and strength we sometimes so desperately need. The hymn writer ends the chorus in the popular hymn with the line, “O, for grace to trust Him more.” The days that I need to trust the most, are usually the days that my faith fails.  That’s when I pray,  “Father, give me the grace to trust you more.”  He is faithful to give me the grace that I need to confidently trust.  That’s why I will confess daily, I WILL trust!

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