By Nathalie Corniel

 

2016 Will be the Best year of your life If it is the Best Year of your life Spiritually.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.      Philippians 3:13-14

 

A new year is a natural time to make resolutions and goals.  Whether you make resolutions or not,  make a decision for 2016, to grow spiritually.  Commit to put Gfireworks_tampaod first in everything you do.  When you put God first, you are declaring your dependence on him!

What distractions keep you from seeking God daily?  The enemy likes to keep us distracted even with good stuff.  Is there one thing that if changed would make the biggest difference in you life?  Before you send that e-mail, get on Facebook, go to work, start texting, get busy with your day;  make a decision to prioritize your time with Christ and let God be the first thing you seek before anything else in the day.

You can put him first by just thanking him for allowing you to see the sun rise!  Another way to grow spiritually is by prayer and fasting. It might be deciding to fast a meal, media or anything that distracts you from getting closer to God.  Prayer increases your faith and helps you grow spiritually.  Fasting disconnects us from the world and allows us to give our attention to God.  When you decide to fast and pray it helps you refocus on the spiritual, and invites God in your life.  You find yourself believing God for greater things and waiting on him for answers to specific prayers.

You can also allow him to talk to you by reading his Word.  If we don’t spend time with God, how can we get to know Him better and call Him friend?  One way is to use the Bible Reading Plan distributed this past weekend at church.  If you didn’t get one, the church’s website GFConline.com also has it under “NEW HERE”.  You can also find fantastic Bible reading plans on the YouVersion Bible APP.

A new series call [RE]SET starts January 9th and 10th at GFC.  Pastor Craig will walk us through how we could all use an opportunity to reset and make the spiritual, physical, financial and emotional changes we’ve always wanted to make.  [RE]SET will help us begin 2016 with new passion and hope in what God can do in our lives.

2016 Will be the Best year of your life If it is the Best Year of your life Spiritually.

God bless and Happy New Year!

 

By Krisann Snow

 

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

 

Kevin, my younger brother towers over me. He must have eaten more Wheaties as a kid because he is 6’5” and I am 5’3”. Needless to say, whenever we go anywhere together we are never in step with one another. He is always ten steps ahead of me and I am always out of breath to catch up with him. Why? Because we are not on the same level.

Unfortunately our Christian walk can feel the same way. I sometimes feel out of step with God and where he is taking me or what He is teaching me. Maybe today you feel like God is moving a little too slow in your life, that he isn’t hearing your prayers or making things happen.

On the other hand, maybe it feels like its hard to keep up with God, that he is challenYoung female legs walking towards the sunset on a dirt roadging you or pushing you out of our comfort zone. Whatever your circumstances, just know that there is a learning process that happens when we walk with the Lord. The awesome news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ entered our world to get on our level. He desires to be with us and walk with us. The more time I spend with Kevin, learning about his personality and hearing his voice, the easier it is to walk with him.

Walking with the Spirit is much the same. The more time you spend with God, in prayer and reading his Word, the easier it becomes to walk with His Spirit. He will lead you and guide you.

Prayer: “Holy Spirit, help me to keep in step with you today. As I read your Word, open my eyes to
what it means for my life. Give me an opportunity today to hear your voice and follow your lead. Thank you Jesus for coming down to my level, that I can enjoy time spent with you. Amen”

 

 

By Xiomara Rivera

 

“I am God’s masterpiece! He has created “ME” anew in Christ Jesus, so I can do the good things he planned for “ME” long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

If I truly believe this and have faith in God’s promises, then how dare I, in the same thread of thought, doubt myself and my worthiness of abundant blessings? If God brings you to it then he will bring you through it, right? It is written in his word that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Roman 8:28

Before being saved, during the early days of my Christian walk and even some moments today, I’ve worked really hard to manipulate events, people and time so that the outcome favors me. I know now that I lacked faith in every sense of the word. It was as if I had to help God.

Now, being a more seasoned Christian, I have more faith in what God has already laid out for me so long ago. I do not get in the way of God’s masterplan he has created in me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the Almighty Lord and Savior. (Psalm 139:14)  I am his masterpiece!

I realize that no degree, socio-economic standard or societal pressures will predict who I am and what my purpose is destined to be. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper me and not harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)  My life and purpose are in his hands!

There is a part that is mine… I work hard, study hard and serve unselfishly and the rest is in God’s hands.  In this way, I know I am enough! The masterplan is in plamasterpiece-design-oriental-persian-carpet-garden-colorful-flowers-interwoven-patterns-46266714ce. I must not fear what’s ahead, control it in any way and/or embellish it to impress anyone. I have been given the spirit of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I can truly say that I believe that today with all my heart. I have learned to love my
imperfect self and my imperfect ways because it is perfect in God’s image. His masterwork in me has the perfect colors, brightness, tones and light shining over me.  His light will shine so bright over me and through me showing off his Masterpiece. All I had to do is surrender to him and let him paint.

I hope you are encouraged to lean more on God and let Him show you what he is working in you!

By Pam Otto

 

My intentions were good, the timing was perfect, and there was no agenda for the day. Ahhh, my short vacation had begun and I was certain that my morning time alone with God on the beach was going to be “productive and anointed.” My checklist was short: Bible, blanket, journal, coffee- Yep, perfect!

My plan was to start my day devouring Gods Word while hearing the waves ease upon the sandy shore, certain that God would reveal to me all that I’d been seeking from Him. I sat, looked around, inhaled, read and prayed with anticipation.

As I sat, I found my mindwandering…hmm, butterfly, bug, noise, breeze…I kept catching myself thinking “Come on, reel it in, focus! Why do my thoughts wander off so much? Is my brain working right? Do I have ADD? I seem so distracted in spite of my intent on concentrating on hearing from God!”

Others started walking on the beach, collecting shells, running, stretching, moving…it seemed these distractions were just enough to deter my focus on hearing from God.

maresa-pryor-gulf-island-national-seashore-santa-rosa-island-florida

In my frustration and desire to accomplish my goal, I picked up one of my favorite old devotionals and began reading the days entry; it said, “God is waiting in the depths of your being to speak to you if you would be still enough to hear His voice.” Oh good, confirmation!

But wait, there’s more: It went on to say “Don’t be caught off guard by a thousand voices and sounds from without and within; words, questions, voices of the world, struggles, even temptations of the enemy.” No way! ~ maybe I’m not the only one who struggles with distractions and diversions.

God brought me to Psalm 46:10 which says “Be still and know that I am God!” This verse jumped off the page as a reminder that my job was to be still, (wait, lean into, be attentive) and know,(believe, acknowledge, fully trust) Him. You see, the enemy is out to get us any way he can, and he will use any tactic, including something as benign as small distractions, noises or a lack of focus.

We need to be on guard for the big and small ways that keep us from that true deep connection with God that each of us need and desire. The great part is that Gods Word is more-than-enough, and our Great Big God is more-than-able to meet each of us right where we are, distractions included!

James 4:8 says “Come near to God and He will come near to you!” Lets claim His Word and His promises over our sometimes hurried, scurried thoughts and lives. Lets devour all that He has for us as we diligently meet with Him in the busy seasons as well as the scheduled slower seasons of our lives.

I determined that the hard part isn’t really ‘hearing God’… the hard part is often learning to be still enough in order to really listen!

By Mary Giraldo

 

About a year ago I read a devotional that referenced three little words that spoke volumes to me, “Faith trumps logic”. The term trump is used in card games; it refers to a suit that outranks all other suits for the duration of a hand.

Logic is defined as a proper or reasonable way of thinking about something, sound reasoning.So in other words, faith outranks rational thinking.

As I reflected on the meaning behind this, I was reminded of the many times I’ve seen this played out in my life; the moments when faith won over logic. We read about this very thing in the Bible over and over. Moses stood before the Red Sea with thousands of Israelites behind him, the Egyptians hot on their tails.faith-trust_zps16605886

I can picture in my mind the trembling and fear that overtook those who looked out over the vast sea.
Moses probably stood and endlessly repeated in his mind the many promises that God had already spoken to him. As the Israelites berated him with words of scorn and regret for following him, Moses cries out,

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

 Moses raises his staff and God parts the sea allowing them to safely cross. Logically, seas do not part and you most certainly don’t walk across and remain dry. At that moment, faith was all Moses had to work with.

Nine years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and for nine years I have taken a daily medication administered by syringe. Year after year I would go for MRI’s to see where I was with the progression of this disease. Every year we would talk about the damage that was occurring, but in my mind I stood firm in faith knowing that God was ultimately in control.

I have often told others that I knew one day God would heal me, even if that meant when I was face to face with Jesus. After many years of injections my body was tired of the daily routine, my skin was starting to harden at injection sites and it was getting harder and harder to administer the shots. I began to intentionally pray about an alternative.

Many people have said that those with MS can manage symptoms or even be healed if you just change your diet. As a person with MS, I was always bothered by the simplicity offered behind this idea; why do so many people continue to battle this disease if it were that easy? After 9 years I was finally ready to step out in faith and trust God with the outcome. Logically, this method of treatment does not always work; but faith gives me confidence in what I hope for and assurance about what I do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

It has been five months since my last injection and every morning my feet are able to feel every fiber of the carpet bedside my bed, I praise God; when I catch a glimpse of alcohol wipes or empty sharps containers, I can’t help but smile and praise God.

Logic told me this is just the “cards that I’ve been dealt” and I’ll need to deal with it the best I can, but if we’re talking in card terminology, I am reminded that faith trumps logic.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27