How to be happy in the midst of your troubles

We are humans and it is not easy to smile or feel  happy when we are experiencing difficulties. I have learned over the years, that life is not always easy, and even if you are experiencing troubles, it’s better to embrace happiness than to feel sad over your life.

When you choose to embrace happiness, you are putting the anxieties of your life in God’s hands. In 1 Peter 5:7, the Bible states that we should cast all our cares on Him, for He cares for us. Jesus offers to give us rest if we would go to Him with our burdens (Matt 11:28-29).

When you thank God for all things, you are embracing happiness. The Bible states that all things work together for good (Rom 8:28) to those who are called according to God’s purposes and that we should be thankful in all things, for this is the will of God concerning us (1Thes 5:18).

Instead of exhibiting ingratitude, we can choose to be happy and to praise God for his infinite love, kindness, mercy, and faithfulness. He has shown love by forgiving us, kindness, mercy and faithfulness by providing for us, by healing us and by keeping us alive. Let us embrace happiness even in the midst of our troubles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Should Celebrate Life and Live with Hope

I want to thank all of you for attending Christian Resource Network, Inc. 2018 Open House, and pray that God will help us as we journey forward. The title of my message is Why we Should Celebrate Life and Live with Hope.”

Oprah Winfrey once said “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” What does that mean for all of us? It means that in the midst of life-storms, life’s troubles, life-issues, life-struggles or what you chose to call them, all of us should celebrate life.

Today, I am going to look at why we should celebrate life, how we should celebrate life with others and how we should celebrate life in the midst of struggles and disappointments. I will tell a story about a Russian girl who celebrated life even in the midst of her disabilities and I will give examples from my own life-journey.

  1. Why we should celebrate life

 We should celebrate life, because I believe, God has put us on this earth for a purpose. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We see here that God’s plan for us is to give us hope and a future. Celebrating life does  that, it gives us hope and a future.

2. How we should celebrate life with others?

We should celebrate life by loving God and loving our neighbor. In Mark 12:30-31, God says we should ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  If we do not understand our purposes for celebrating life, we see from this scripture, that we are to honor God and live in communion with Him. Why? God is who keeps us. He loves us unconditionally. It is by grace that we have been saved, not of our own doing; it is by the grace of God who sent his son to take away the sin of the world. God has fashioned us to be his own. He has sealed us with eternal life through grace. We should love our neighbor as ourselves.

The story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 is an example of loving your neighbor. The Samaritan, who saw a man lying at the sidewalk after being beaten by robbers, had compassion on the man and carried the man on his donkey to an inn and paid the innkeeper to care for the man. How many of us in this room will do that today? We should celebrate life by also loving ourselves-I believe all of us in this room know how to care for and love ourselves.

3. We should celebrate life even when we go through overwhelming problems or disappointments.

a. Example of the Russian girl:

Jessica was born to teenage parents who were not sure what to do with her as she was born with severe disabilities- no legs, so they left her in a hospital. An American family adopted her and helped Jessica to celebrate life even with severe disabilities, by swimming for the special Olympics where she won twelve trophies in three Paralympic games. Jessica’s story became so newsworthy that it led to her desire to find her biological parents and siblings and when she did find them, she welcomed them with joy, not with anger. This is how Jessica viewed her disability: “I think that real disability is a negative attitude towards life. Despite the fact that I have no legs below the knees, I do not consider myself disabled.”  Jessica celebrated life and lived with hope.

b. Example from my own life:

Life seems to cave in on me daily, as I care for my special-needs daughter, but yet, when I felt like giving up, I could not and would not. I realize that hope keeps bubbling up inside me when I think of the goodness of God and all that He has done for me. God has kept me strong and in good health, so I can press on to the high mark in Christ Jesus. I am not my own, I have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Because I am not my own, I can go through immense problems, because nothing can separate me from God’s love. (Rom 8:38-39). When I am going through these troubles, the Almighty God is not only holding my hand through them, but is guiding me through them, and He is loving me through them. There is nothing too hard for Him in your situation and in mine.

The question that you are asking yourself is why am I here at this luncheon? I came to tell you how happy you have made me feel in the past few years, I wanted to thank you for supporting me in numerous ways: with your prayers and with your love.  We are all here to celebrate life together and to tell of the great things that God has shown us, to tell of how God has helped us and how God has healed us. My hope is that this celebration will leave an indelible mark on all of us.

God is ushering Christian Resource Network, Inc. into unknown territories and I will need prayers and your moral support in every way possible. But God, who is mighty, knows what He wants and He uses us, His ambassadors on the earth, as His vessels to expand His kingdom. I hope that this is simply the beginning of our celebration of life together and hope that we can continue to celebrate the gift of life and help others to celebrate their lives by opening doors for them to realize their potential.

I want to end by stating a quote by Osho, Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within: “Be the celebrators, celebrate! Already there is too much—the flowers have bloomed, the birds are singing, the sun is there in the sky—celebrate it! You are breathing and you are alive and you have consciousness, celebrate it!” May God bless you

 

Review Your Life and Make Changes

Have you ever taken an inventory of your life? Without checking in on your own life and being aware of what is happening to you, you can’t make changes. This past weekend, I became aware of the issues I faced and decided that I needed to make changes. I don’t know what issues you are faced with, but today, I will discuss some common issues that we all face, including unforgiveness, guilt and fear, why we need to make changes to our lives, and how to go about making those changes.

Let me begin by discussing u-nforgiveness which is one of the most common issues facing families today. An example of how unforgiveness comes about is when a family member or friend may have said something about you or done something to you that left you unforgiving. You held on to that emotion for years refusing to let it go and it turned into bitterness, hatred, anger, loneliness, possibly jealousy and those emotions became a hedge between your friendship with your family member or friend. You felt prideful and refused to settle your differences with that individual, so you ignore the individual in family gatherings and the situation got worse. I remember times when I dealt with unforgiveness over little things.

A second major issue is feeling guilty. This guilt may have come about because you were unforgiving to someone, did not speak to that individual, and now, you feel guilty about your action. Guilt may have also come about because you felt that you were the cause of your parents’ divorce or separation and you carried that guilt for years and now it has affected your own relationships. My guilt started when my mother and father would ask me which of them, I loved more; I could not answer that question so I was put in a position for years to please others even when I would choke with displeasure. My most recent guilt feeling was attended a function because I didn’t want to hurt the person’s feelings.

A third issue that most people experience is fear which I believe is the root cause of so many life- issues. Fear cripples so many people. I believe un-forgiveness, bitterness, anger, guilt procrastination are prolonged because of fear. People do not want to face others and apologize for having been unforgiving, bitter or guilty. They are afraid of how others will perceive them. People express fears in many ways,  including fear of dying, fear of getting sick, fear of being in financial bondage, fear of flying and fear of driving over bridges. For years I suffered with fear of heights which led to fear of driving over bridges and highways.

Why do we need to make changes to the emotions that we face? The answer to this is clear–we must make changes if we want to move forward and realize success in our lives. People do not know or care if you or I suffer with unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, guilt or fears. We hurt ourselves, our families and friends, when we experience these emotions.

How do we go about making these changes? We must confront our emotions. Choose to love rather than be unforgiving to others. Colossians 3:13 13 states that we are to: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the LORD forgave you.” Be the first one to step up and make amends. The quality of your relationships will improve. Chose freedom rather than being locked up in the prison of your guilt.

One writer stated that.“The feelings of guilt takes away self-confidence, reduces self-esteem welcomes fear, confusion, disappointment, depression and other areas.” Face your fears and gain calmness and confidence. William Jennings Bryan stated that “The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.

What to do when your life issues are keeping you down.

I am not a Counselor, but I have mentored quite a few people and I am a person who has had my share of life issues. The question is: “What to do when life issues are keeping you down?”

Let us picture a person who feels down. He/she may feel fearful of the outcome of his/her life. Fear may turn into anxiety and worry, which may tend to turn into depression. When you feel depressed you are submitting to a feeling that may hinder you in many ways. Some people may feel that they can’t go on, so they may decide to stay in bed and do nothing. Depression can lead to over-eating or under eating and can then affect other areas of your life (which are outside the scope of this article).

Before embarking on a feeling which leads to so many issues, think about ways that you can help yourself and others. Here are a some:

1. Pray through the issues. When you pray, you are asking God for strength and you are submitting the issues to him. Didn’t God say to” ‘Come to me all you who are weary and are heavy laden and I will give you rest?’ “(Matt11:28)

2. Read and study God’s word for His words are life {Phil 2:16).

3. Know that you are God’s child and He will never leave or forsake you (Joshua 1:5).

 

4. Do not concentrate on the issues to the point where they take complete control over your life; concentrate on God and keep your faith alive (Heb11:1).

 

5.  Involve yourself in Charity work so you can help others. Freely you have received, freely you should give (Matt 10:8) .

 

6. Take good care of yourself, eat healthy and exercise regularly. Doing so will help your mind and body.

 

7. Maintain good relationships and have a prayer partner with whom you can pray.

 

We Have Victory Through Jesus Christ.

 

We know the story of how the Lord, Jesus, for whom John referred to as the Word (1 John 1:1), came down from heaven as the Son of Man and lived among us, identified with our pain, died, and rose again the third day (1 Cor 15:4) and brought hope (1 Tim 1:1) to a dying world. By His death, Jesus spared us from the wrath of sin (Acts 15:11), and by His resurrection, we have abundant life (John 11:25). He Who descended, also ascended to heaven, and is now seated at the right hand of God, the Father, interceding for us all (Romans 8:34).

This is the same Jesus who said, “I will not leave or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5) and that He would go away and send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to be our guide (John 14:16). Apostle Paul reminded us that “all things work together for our good (Rom 8:28).” In other words, regardless of the intensity of our struggles, we must take them to Jesus who has made a promise that He will not forsake us; He will fight our battles (2 Chron 32:8) and cause the situation to work out for our good.  While we are surrounded by a tumultuous world, we must not lose heart, for we have victory through Jesus Christ, our resurrected Lord and Savior.

All Things are Possible to Those who Believe

In the weeks to come, I am going to keep you posted on what is taking place with our daughter Jo-an. I am thrilled to see how far she has come. God gives me the strength to care for her and the faith to expect great things. With Him, all things are possible (Matt 19:26).

Yesterday, my assistant Ali and I took Jo-an for her voice lesson. Remember the angel that I met at Staples? Well, she is amazing at what she does.  Vic plays the piano, plays  other instruments and teaches voice lessons. It was wonderful to hear  Jo-an sing “Amazing Grace.”

This song reminds me that it is by God’s grace that you and I are saved, through faith(Eph 2:8-10). God knew that we needed a Savior, His Son Jesus, to die on the cross to pay our sin debt in full. Grace is a gift from God; it is God’s unconditional love for us-His unmerited favor given to us not because we are deserving of it or because of works we have done.We have been justified by faith and have peace with God and now, we have access to God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2).

Since we have this access, why are we living below our blessings? Have you been praying for healing for your loved one like I have, or been praying to receive something from the Lord? Apply your faith. Keep believing; keep expecting. The Bible says: Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you (Matt7:7). Remember, all things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23).

 

Wait until Your Change Comes

Hello friends:

I want to encourage everyone who is going through a test in his/her life, to trust God. He does not lie (Numb 23:19). Wait on him regardless of how long it takes, for God is faithful (Deut 7:9). He promises never to leave or forsake you (Deut 31:8). Wait until your change comes.God has given me patience to wait on Him and I am so grateful that I have come to this point.

Now, I want to encourage you not to give up. God loves you and me and in the process of our difficulties, He is doing a makeover. Even when our problems are still unsolved, He is drawing us to himself, building our character, our faith, our patience, our love for one another and producing the fruit of the Spirit  (Gal 5:22-23) in our lives.

May God be praised.

In His Service,
Joan M. Blake

 

Understanding why we should pray

We should pray because prayer is approaching God in a spirit of worship, magnifying and exalting Him for who He is. Rev 4:11 states that God is worthy to receive honor, glory and power, for he created all things and by His will they exist and were created. He is Holy (Ps 99:5), the mighty God and the God of all Gods (Deut.10:17). He is faithful and just (Deut 7:9), the forgiver of our sins (Matt 9:6), our deliverer (Ps 18:1), and our sustainer (Ps 121:5), the one who opens doors that no one can shut (John10:9), our provider (2 Co 9:8), our healer (Ps103:3), and to Jesus our supreme authority, monarch of the universe, the giver of eternal life (John 17:2), to all who would believe in Him. You and I pray because God listens to our prayers (1Pet 3:12); He delights in our praises (Ps 22:3); He answers prayers according to His will; and change occurs. We recognize that we can do nothing without God and our earthly existence is dependent on Him.

Hope in the Midst of Despair

In the past months and prior, there has been tension in the USA and abroad over the killings of innocent people. You are wondering where is God in all of this? Do we still have hope?

My dear friends, God is still supreme in the midst of disaster; the plans He has for people and nations never change. We can go back in history and we notice that God’s plans for his people Israel didn’t fail. It started with Joseph, Jacob’s younger son, who was sold by his older brothers to the Ishmaelites, and who became a leader to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. Joseph was put in charge of Potiphar’s household but Potiphar’s wife saw that as an opportunity to get close to Joseph and when Joseph didn’t respond to her advances, she had him put in jail.

But God gave Joseph favor in prison and the warden put Joseph in charge of the prisoners, and he interpreted dreams for the cupbearer and the baker who were previously employed by Pharaoh. The cupbearer was reinstated to his position while the baker was hanged. Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him, but two years past and nothing happened until Pharaohhad a dream and no one can interpret it. Joseph told him that there would be seven years of harvest followed by seven years of draught.

Joseph was placed as Governor of the whole region to oversee the food storage. Eventually, his brothers came from Canaan to purchase grain and recognized who he was and reconciled with Joseph. The entire family and other Canaanites moved to Egypt because of the economy, but Joseph had died and a new king was placed who did not spare anyone. When the Israelites had no livestock to barter for grain, they were forced to work as slaves. God heard their cry when they cried to God for help and this was the basis for the long road from Egypt back to Canaan.

God used Moses, with the rod, someone who couldn’t speak well, to speak to Pharaoh and tell him “Let my people go.” All the perils the Israelites experienced, including hunger and thirst, God provided with manna and water in the desert. The rod was used to bring about plagues in Egypt as well as to part the seas so that the Israelites could walk on dry land as well as bring the seas to its original place so that Pharaoh’s armies could be destroyed.

The Israelites were not a perfect people. They sinned by being angry, doubting God, and worshiping idols. Some died and never made it to the promised land. God has always given them as well as you and I, a second chance. His words were and still are: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and move from their wicked ways, I will hear their cries and heal their land.” God is saying this to us today. Will we hear his voice and turn from our wicked ways? If we do, He will heal our land. Prayer is the hope we have in God.

Prayer to Know and Walk with Purpose

God had a plan for you before the foundation of the world. That plan was made exclusively for you to walk in. Sometimes, struggles come to deter us from walking in God’s divine plan. Please read the following prayer and answer the question: “What is holding you from attaining your purpose?”

To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under
the heaven(Eccl 3:1kjv)

Father,
Creator of all things
And Master of everything,
I have been wandering for a long time,
Not knowing my purpose in this life.
I rebuke distractions that come my way,
In the name of Jesus.
I am determined to seek Your face, God,
To know my purpose,
And to walk in my destiny.
I pray that you will teach me
To submit to Your authority
And to walk with purpose,
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer was taken from Prayer and Meditation: Finding Comfort, Hope, and Purpose in the Midst of Your Storm, by Joan M. Blake copyright 2011 key to Life Publishing Company, Boston MA.