At the beginning of 2013, I was definitely not looking forward to it. So many terrible things had already happened at the start of the year. I really cried a lot during the beginning of 2013. I can’t even remember how many nights I’ve spent crying.

The decisions I’ve had to make this year were important and the kind of decisions that you weigh carefully, the kind of decisions that help shape you as a person. I went in to 2013 with one goal: PATIENCE. It was a lofty goal and one of the virtues I lack most. The result, now that the year is almost over, has been overwhelmingly positive. I feel that I’ve grown considerably and been hugely productive.  So if last year was an exercise in patience (and, yes, it certainly was), 2014 will be an exercise in hard work and love.  I don’t suspect that next year will be easy, but I know with God’s help and his enduring strength I will make.

There have been moments of extreme, uncontrollable laughter with friends and family, of which there have been so very many…and each and every one might not be specifically memorable, but without these moments I simply wouldn’t be able to make it through the hard days. It is the moments of pure joy that make life worth living.

To sum it up, 2013 has changed me. I have grown significantly spiritually. I’m no longer going to slack and procrastinate needlessly. I need to work hard. I got to push myself to be the best I possibly can. For the upcoming 2014, I am going to drive myself to do better.

Thank you so much to all who follows my blog,  read my devotionals and to all reader, commentator, and those who liked my posts … This year has been great, and I am sure we will have a better year in 2014 ….

My dear friends here’s hoping the new year will be every way complete.  I wish you all a prosperous and peaceful 2014, a year to enjoy life for the blessing it truly is. With happiness, success, good health and all that makes life sweet.

Hope for Tomorrow

Scripture Reference: 2 Timothy 1:7

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control 2 Timothy 1:7. 

I am certain, as the sun inched its way over the mountains that morning, that neither Goliath nor the Israelites had any idea that this day would be different. A young handsome teenager stepped into the valley of fear, fresh from the presence of God.

David, the youngest in a family of eight boys could not believe the scene before him. Tossing the giant’s threats and obvious advantage aside, David refused to accept what he saw. Instead, he chose to believe what he knew in his heart; this giant was going down. With simple but certain faith and unreserved confidence in God, David stepped through the fear, ushering in the mighty presence and power of God. Goliath not only met David that day, He met the Lord of Heaven and earth. And the giant fell! Giants always fall in the presence of God.

We stand on the threshold of a new year – a new beginning! If you are like me, you face 2014 with mixed emotions. Personally, I am thrilled that I survived 2013! There were certainly moments when I wondered if I would.

Financial surprises seemed constant.

Yep! I am glad to see 2013 go, but I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness and provision every day of that year. I learned so much. I didn’t always like God’s plan for teaching me His truths, and honestly, I often failed to understand why things had to happen the way they did. But I can also say with assurance that God was with me every step of the way – and His presence was more than enough to get me through it all.

Still, I am excited about a fresh start, a brand new set of days overflowing with new dreams and unmarked possibilities, but I also know this year is crammed full of the unknown as well as a giant or two.

I am not a fan of giants, and if I am brutally honest, I have to admit that the unknown fashions a pocket of fear in my heart where questions and doubts thrive. I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I do know that I have to face that fear and refuse to let it take up residence in my heart and mind.

The good news is what lies ahead is no surprise to God. In fact, He has already been where you and I are going. That reason alone empowers us to face every tomorrow with hope, knowing that whatever touches us passes through His hands, with His permission.

It is not God’s plan for us to dwell in fear or for fear to rule our lives. He has already set in motion the defeat and fall of every giant we will ever face. Our responsibility is to step through our fear, facing every giant in God’s power and with His promises. The Holy Spirit will guide the path of His truth to its destined mark, taking down the giants lurking in the shadows of every tomorrow.

He is the same yesterday, today and forever! The days ahead are saturated with the memory of Goliath’s fall when one very unlikely shepherd boy chose to put his trust in Almighty God, the Giant Killer. We can make that same choice.

So then friend, I ask you, what is there to fear?

Father, I come to You by faith, laying every fear and worry at Your feet. I am not sure what this year holds for me, but I do know You are with me every step of the way. When I am tempted to worry, please remind me to trust You. When fear attacks, help me choose to pray instead of panic, knowing You are my Lord and my Shepherd. I praise You for Your faithfulness in my life, even when I don’t understand and can’t see the next step. I praise You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Posted by Fay-Ann Swearing

December 31, 2013

Copyright 2013 by Daily Devotionals. All right reserved

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Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year

Scripture Reference: Haggai 1:5

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?
11. What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?
12. What area of your life most needs simplifying and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?
13. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?
14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?
16. What is your most important financial goal this year and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?
17. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?
18. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?
19. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
21. What one thing do you most regret about last year and what will you do about it this year?
22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?
23. In what area of your life do you most need growth and what will you do about it this year?
24. What’s the most important trip you want to take this year?
25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?
26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?
27. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?
28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?
29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?
30. What’s the most important new item you want to buy this year?
31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year? 

The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn’t considered the question.

If you’ve found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace — in a day planner, calendar, bulletin board, etc. — where you can review them more frequently than once a year.

So let’s evaluate our lives, make plans and goals and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let’s also remember our dependence on our King who said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

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Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

A Quiet Place to Rest

Text: Mark 6:31
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'”

When we don’t allow time to rest and regroup from the stresses of life, we allow cracks in our spirit that make us emotionally and spiritually fragile. We keep going at break-neck speeds, rarely slowing down long enough to be refreshed.

Mark 6:31 highlights the fact that even Jesus Himself found it important to get away for a while, to slow down and cease activity. The Bible records this event.

Jesus urged His disciples to get to a quiet place. In doing so they would find rest. Being alone and quiet would restore their weary spirits.

For many of us, the stretch between Christmas to New Years Day is a whirlwind of activity. In our fast-paced society, we rarely are intentional to create a quiet place and spend time resting. As a result, stress chisels away, creating tiny cracks that although barely visible, could cause us to shatter under the go-go-go pressures of everyday life, much less the holidays.

Let’s purpose to take time to slow down, get away and rest. To find solitude in a hushed place alone with our Savior, even if only for an hour.

If we make time to answer Jesus’ call to go away with Him to a quiet place, we can crack-proof our spirits, making them strong and rendering us ready to handle life. A few quiet moments spent with Him can help make us strong enough to fulfill God’s assignments for us this season.

Dear Lord, help me intentionally carve out time to reconnect with You in a quiet spot. I know You are waiting. I want to seek Your face and find true rest. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Have You Opened Your Gifts?

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Jesus is the greatest person who has ever lived; each year we celebrate His Birth as the coming of our salvation.

Salvation is the greatest gift of all. Salvation is the only gift that everyone really needs.

Salvation is presented to us as the ultimate Christmas gift in what is perhaps the best known verse of the Bible.

This Christmas do you have that greatest security? Do you know that you have received the greatest possession of all—Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Sometimes Christmas is especially hard for those who compare what they want with what others get. But the good news is that as a Christian, God has given us everything in Christ.

All we have to do is unwrap and  experience all that He has given to us.

Because of our sin—we are all debtors to God’s Righteousness; so we need forgiveness.

Because of our sin—we are all guilty convicts in God’s sight; so we need justification.

Because of our sin—we are all dead in our trespasses and sin; so we need regeneration.

Because of our sin—we are all enemies of God; so we need reconciliation.

Because of our sin—we are all strangers to God; so we need adoption.

Because of our sin—we are all slaves to unrighteousness; so we need redemption.

Because of our sin—we are all defiled; so we need sanctification.

Keep this list in your Bible, at home, on your computer, put one on your mirror where you start your day and in your car. Where ever you need to keep reminding yourself of what great thing God has done for us.

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Making the Most of Your Relationships

Text: St. John 3:16

Whether with friends, family, spouses, parents, or children, the holidays can be a special time to rekindle meaningful relationships, if we take the time for it.

Focus on Who You Have in Your Life: It’s important to keep in mind that just as joyous as the holidays can be, for many people, they are a time of heartache and pain. They are an aching reminder of relationships that have been broken or loved ones that were lost or longings that have not yet been fulfilled. Sometimes, it’s hard to connect when you are feeling hurt and alone. Making the most of our relationships during the holidays requires a shift in thinking that causes us to focus on the people God has placed in our lives here and now.  
Time passes so quickly, and every year is one less year we’ll have to invest in the ones we love. Rather than wishing for what could be, it’s important to begin savor what actually is.

Through it’s true that every season of life comes with its blessings and it’s struggles, it’s important to make the most of the blessings. This holiday season, be deliberate to be thankful for the people in your life. Invest in Relationships, Not Thing.

We can get so caught up in the things that we can fail to remember that the real blessings in our lives are the relationships we’ve been given- our relationship with God, and our relationship with others. More than anything, the Holidays are about experiencing God’s love; a God who loved us so much that He left His world to join us in ours. He reached down with His love and grace to connect with us, and to bring us a Savior. Making the most out of the holidays means that we take the time to relish in the love of God, and then allow it to overflow from our lives and into the lives of those around us. According to God’s word, that’s really what life comes down to: loving God, and loving others.

Rather than becoming consumed in things this time of year, let us take the opportunity to engage relationships. Let’s focus more on being together, rather than giving things to one another; on loving each other with our actions and our words, not just with our money. Because at the end of the day, the greatest gift that we can really give is our love.  

This moment I challenge you to take a look at the quality of your interactions with others, not just the quantity.

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The Imperishable Seed

1 Peter 1:23
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.”

It does no good to scatter seed which has no hope of germination and growth. As we walk out into the field, we must remember that God’s message of Salvation is not about a new set of regulations; we are not saved by trying extra hard to live according to God’s commandments. His commands are an essential guide for our spiritual walk, but no amount of obedience, done outside the path of faith, will ever result in the transformation which identifies us as a child of God.

Our self-effort will never yield eternal life and we hinder the harvest when we spread such a message! When Jesus was talking with Nicodemus, He said, “no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). He then said this second birth is not of the flesh but of the Spirit. When we believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sin, God’s grace gives us a spiritual birth as a new creation; “The old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Peter wrote to those who already believed in Jesus. They had been “born again” and had become “new creations” in Christ, but they had come under great persecution for their faith. Peter encouraged them (and us) to remember the eternal nature of our second birth. Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry

Living a Life of Praise

As we open to Luke 2:36, and are introduced to the life of Anna, I’d ask you to underline two words in your mind. First, in v. 36 “she was of great age”—underline in your mind OLD. Second, in v. 37 “a widow of about 84 years”—underline in your mind ALONE.

In two words you could describe the woman we are going to meet today. Anna was OLD and ALONE. Yet from this account God gives to us, this old and alone woman was also vibrant, filled with joy, overflowing with God’s Word and in love with the Lord. She is just what any woman who knows the Lord would want to become…

The presence of God brings life and hope to even those who by every other measure should be hopeless. Anna lived and walked in hope and saw God’s Hand all about her life. She was willing to be what God wanted her to be—even if it’s not much by others estimation! She was a “nobody” to everyone except to God.

Lesson number one: Grace-energized women like Anna can be old but not hopeless.

Lesson number two: Grace-energized women like Anna can know pain but not bitterness.

Lesson number three: Grace-energized women like Anna can know limits but not uselessness.

Lesson number four: Grace-energized women like Anna can know loneliness but not emptiness.

Anna was a woman with a life energized by grace, and dominated by the consequences of wonderful choices that she made.

I believe Anna is a model of what a godly, grace-energized woman ought to be. She heard, read and believed God’s Word enough to want to live it by God’s grace! That is all that God is looking for today. Women who believe Him enough to want to do His will as declared in the Bible. I hope that you are such a woman today!

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God – The Giver of Good Gifts

Matthew 2:10-11 “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

God gave the greatest gift of all – His love wrapped up in His Son, Jesus. God’s love changes everything and everyone it touches. It protects and breathes life and purpose into every minute of every day. God’s love is a gift beyond measure that surrounds us and covers us when the fires of life rain down.

Colossians 2:13-14 “Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.”

God’s love is an unconditional love – a love with no strings attached and a gift that breathes life and joy and celebration into every moment of every day. Jesus came, at the request of God, spelling Himself out in a language you and I can understand – a message of love that exists to give.

There is no condemnation with Him, friend. He adores you just as you are. He wants to spend time with you, laugh with you, dry your tears and fill your heart with new dreams. Today, no matter where you are or where you have been, He stands – just waiting for you. Come to Him. Accept Him. No matter how ugly the sin may be or how great the failure in your life, He loves you. Come to His love. Receive His gift of life and celebrate God, the Giver of every good and perfect gift!

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The Lord Is with You – And that’s a Promise

Text: Luke 1:28

The Lord is with you           

When Gabriel suddenly appeared to Mary, she needed that same reassurance. “The Lord is with you,” he said. The reminder of God’s presence in her life would be crucial for the news that Gabriel was about to deliver.         

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a Son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:29-33)

“Do not be afraid,” God said to Abram (Genesis 15:1).

“Do not be afraid,” God said to Joshua (Joshua 8:1).

“Do not be afraid,” the angel said to Zechariah (Luke 1:13).

“Do not be afraid,” the angel said to the shepherds (Luke 2:10).

In Mary’s own song of praise she cried out, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Mary was chosen because of God’s grace, just like you and me. She was just an ordinary girl with an extraordinary calling.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)

Mary’s question didn’t mean she doubted what the angel said was true. She simply questioned the logistics and sought clarity and direction. Her wonderment did not mean she was reluctant. She was just confused about the physiology of the process. She had never slept with a man, so how was this possible?

The angel answered: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:35-3)

The angel saw the purity of her heart and went on to explain exactly how this would occur. In a day when women were not formally taught the Scriptures, when they were not allowed to sit under a rabbi’s teaching, Mary had a front row seat with one of God’s personal messengers for private tutoring.

She believed by faith. She obeyed by choice. And she remembered that God was with her every step of the way.

During this hectic time of year, filled with long to-do lists and stressful family dynamics, remember this: God is with you!

Heavenly Father, thank You for the promise that You will never leave me. Even when I can’t feel Your presence, I trust by faith that You are here. Help me to be a woman who believes You and not a woman who is tossed to and fro by her feelings. In Jesus Name.

Posted by Fay-Ann Swearing
December 18, 2013
Copyright 2013, Daily Devotionals. All rights reserved.

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