With the Right Environment, Every Acorn Grows Into an Oak

Inspiration: “Then He said, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.’” ~ Luke 13:18-19, New King James Version

Insight: Every acorn has within itself an oak tree that will provide the surety of shade, shelter, sustenance, and security once it has been safely planted in fertile soil. The potential of the acorn resides in its seed which will only be nourished and nurtured in the proper environment. When the acorn seed establishes its root system in the earth, the potential of the oak tree will be released to become what it was meant to become even though atmospheric conditions may not always be ideal.

Like the acorn, we each possess potential that is in alignment with our original purpose which is God’s predestined intent for our lives. We must ensure that we are rooted and grounded in the proper environment by nurturing our relationship with God, reading and applying biblical principles to our lives, and using our gifts and talents for God in our service to Him and those we are called to reach. When we focus on maintaining the root system of our faith, we will continue to enjoy the benefits of continued growth and expanded opportunities to give the best of who we are and what we possess to serve a greater purpose for the sake of God’s kingdom.

Prayer to Ignite Action: Dear Lord, I recognize that the life You have given me on this earth is akin to a seed that is planted in the ground. My desire is to be nurtured, instructed, and even corrected as I continue to grow through the pruning process that is necessary for my maturity. I thank You that I am planted in the fertile soil of a good church that teaches Your Word without compromise to strengthen my foundation. As I grow, I will share what I have learned and mastered with others in my circle of influence to expand Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Believing is Seeing

Inspiration: “It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.” –2 Corinthians 5:7, The Message Bible

Insight: An old adage says, “Seeing is believing.” However, I have found the converse of this comment to be true, especially in the life of Christians. The Bible clearly states that “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). It is important to visualize goals and dreams, but we will never see what we do not first believe. Before we see anything, the mind must firmly take hold of what the heart hopes for to conceptualize it, and then, visualize it. The desires of our hearts cannot manifest until our thoughts process those desires into mental images that motivate us to move into action. Believing, then, is seeing. And seeing a thing before it materializes takes faith, which is useless without works according to James 2:18, 20 and 26. Visions are inspired by thinkers who become doers.

Prayer to Ignite Action: Father, today I pray that I will be encouraged by what I believe despite what I see. Strengthen my faith so that it sustains me and keeps me going with the expectation of seeing what You have promised me. I will be led forward in hot pursuit of Your perfect will for me as I keep my eyes fixed upon and my faith firmly grounded in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Advice from God

Inspiration:
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17, King James Version)

Insight:
It is wonderful to receive counsel and advice from others who have both education and experience in matters that pertain to our personal or professional lives. There are also other resources that can sharpen our edge. Nevertheless, we cannot rely on human and natural resources alone to assist in defining who we are and in determining our destiny. These important details must be discovered as we search and find our identity and destiny in God–the Omniscient One who knows all and possesses all wisdom. He has the answers to all of our questions and will guide us by His all-seeing eye in the direction that we should go, instructing us along the way. There are times when others will come alongside us and share valuable pearls of wisdom, but the mystery, mission and motives of our mind, heart and soul can only be revealed to us by our Maker whose desire is to give to us every good and perfect gift. The greatest gift that we can receive other than salvation through Jesus Christ is wisdom, understanding, and discernment of life.

Prayer to Ignite Action:
God, I thank You for those who have given me wise counsel as needed in my life, and I ask Your blessings upon them as they continue to mentor others.  I especially am grateful that I can depend upon You first as the source of infinite wisdom and the giver of every good and perfect gift.  I pray that the gifts I have been given will be developed to full maturity in me for the sake of building Your kingdom and blessing the lives of others.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Everyone Can Shine

Inspiration:
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:14-16, New King James Version

Insight:
No person is insignificant, nor is any gift or talent that each person possesses. Sadly, some people belittle or use others to make themselves look better, shine brighter, or appear bigger. In reality, such behavior is detrimental for it diminishes character, integrity, and trust.

Everyone has the ability to shine in our respective areas of expertise and influence and to make life richer by intentionally seeking to better ourselves and the sphere of persons assigned to our stewardship. There are a myriad of ways to add value by recognizing the good that resides in the people around us and the capabilities of our minds and hands, for in so doing, we will bring out the best in ourselves and those closest to us.

Prayer to Ignite Action:
God, You are the light of my life. Your light provides direction, clarity, and manifested purpose for me. Today, I will let Your light shine through me to reflect Your glory and excellence everywhere I go in the midst of everyone I meet. Let my character, integrity, and abilities exemplify who You are in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Stubbornness is (Sometimes) a Good Thing

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Luke 19:10, King James Version

Insight:
According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, to persist means “to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition.” In this way, stubbornness can be used for a good purpose as we remain fixed and focused in our present position which will determine our life’s future condition. When we know that God is guiding our steps, then we can continue in the direction of His leading even when others do not understand or agree.  The passion of our heart will continue to fuel the fire that burns within us to press on while remaining true to our God-given purpose and our authentic selves.

There is no greater example of persistence than that of Jesus Christ who, despite persecution, fulfilled His purpose of coming to earth to seek and save those who were and are lost through His birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. May the Spirit of Christ and the persistence He possesses also reside within you today.

Prayer to Ignite Action:
Dear God, I adore You and am grateful that the persistence of Your Son, Jesus Christ, caused Him to fulfill the mission of coming to earth to seek and save all who were and are lost.  Thank You for living in my heart and saving me from my sins.  Today, I pray for those who are still lost and need to be redeemed and renewed.  Please use me to draw those closest to me into a loving relationship with You.  I pray that through the confession of sin and belief in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, many will be sought after and saved today.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Value Life’s Surprises

“Behold, God [is] mighty, and despiseth not [any: he is] mighty in strength [and] wisdom.” 
Job 36:5, King James Version

Insight:
Life is full of surprises, certainties, pleasure and pain. Whether expected or unexpected, explainable or unexplainable, we can gain much from all these experiences by learning and valuing what we can from each moment with the use of our rake and pitchfork. No matter what comes our way, we have the choice like Job of raking in that which is relevant and pitching out what is irrelevant or of no use whatsoever. Using this method to manage the moments that ebb and flow through our lives allows us to respond rather than to react to what happens around us as God continues to grant us grace, strength, and wisdom.

Prayer to Ignite Action:
Heavenly Father, this is another day that You have blessed and kept me.  I thank  You that I am still here in spite of the challenges I’ve faced.  My prayer today is that You will grant me the wisdom to discern the difference between what is needed for my destiny and what must be discarded.  I will rake in everything that is useful and pitch out all that is irrelevant so that I can focus more clearly and serve You more faithfully.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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God, the Good Shepherd

Inspiration:
“[A Psalm of David.] The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
Psalm 23:1-6, King James Version

Insight:
One of my most favorite passages of scripture learned during my childhood years was Psalm 23. As I grew older, I came to appreciate the many ways in which God, as the Good Shepherd led me through the green pastures of fertile, fruitful, lush landscapes of life as well as through the dark, dismal valleys of death’s shadow. One thing was certain: “Surely goodness and mercy followed me all the days of my life!”

No matter what encounters we experience, and regardless of the people who cross our path, we must choose to embrace the goodness and mercy of God that is always present, for it carries and stays with us through all the vicissitudes of life. Being grateful for the twin blessings of goodness and mercy keeps us focused on God’s promises, provisions, protection and peace.

Prayer to Ignite Action:
Dear God, I call You Shepherd because You lovingly care for, look after, and provide for all of my needs. I confess that there is nothing missing, lacking, or broken in my life today. I have the assurance of knowing that You are with me every moment to protect me and to fill me with Your peace in every situation that I face today. Thank You that goodness and mercy are with me always. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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We Know Who Holds the Future

Inspiration:
“‘I know what I’m doing.  I have it all planned out–plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.  When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.  When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.  Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.’ GOD’s Decree.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a, The Message Bible)

Insight:
An old adage says, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” In the midst of uncertain economic environments, unstable emotions, unreliable relationships, and undisclosed information, we can be sure that God has all the answers that we need if we only seek Him for wisdom and direction. Our confidence lies in God who knows the plans He established for us and the world before time began. Even though we may not understand all of the events that unfold before our eyes, we must trust that God is in complete control and that He will guide our will, words and ways despite what we see, hear or feel. Our hope and guarantees rest in God, and God abides with and resides in all who receive Him.

Prayer to Ignite Action:
God, You hold my future in Your hands.  I trust You completely, knowing that You will not leave, forsake or disappoint me because You are the One who knows what is best for me.  Even when all around me seem to be sinking sand, upon Christ the solid rock I’ll continue to stand.  All of my hope rests in You.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Nothing Too Hard for God

Inspiration:
“And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, [thou that art] highly favoured, the Lord [is] with thee: blessed [art] thou among women.  And when she saw [him], she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.  And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou has found favour with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS… Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God… For with God nothing shall be impossible.” 
–Luke 1:28-31, 34-35, 37, King James Version

Insight:
When the virgin Mary was told by the angel that she would birth the Savior of the world, she questioned how this would happen. The angel replied that the Holy Spirit would come upon and overshadow her, “for with God, nothing is impossible.” This response is good news to all of us as well, for it reminds us that anything that is to be accomplished for God’s purpose and the benefit of others requires supernatural ability because our natural ability alone is not enough. That which seems to be difficult or impossible is made easier and possible when we allow the work of the Holy Spirit to overshadow our finite mentality and frail humanity. There is nothing too hard for God to handle on our behalf. He has a storehouse filled with knowledge, wisdom, strength, mercy, grace, favor, and peace that are only a prayer away, and therefore, at our disposal at a moment’s notice. As we prepare ourselves by accomplishing what we are capable of, God will see to it that the rest is taken care of to ensure that the dreams He has incubated within us are birthed to full term.

Prayer to Ignite Action:
Heavenly Father, I know that with You nothing is impossible.  Today, I thank You for transforming my mind to believe You for what otherwise would be impossible without Your power working in and through me.  My faith looks up to Thee, oh Lamb of Calvary, for the fulfillment of every God-ordained dream and vision for me and those closest to me.  I pray that You will bring to completion every plan that is in agreement with Your purpose for my life in the right season and timing.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Turn Your Past Into a Launching Pad

Inspiration:
Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses.  Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.  Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!  You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him.  This is the key to your life.  And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Deuteronomy 30:19-20, New Living Translation

Insight:
We have the power to take perceived experiences and limitations of the past, whether good, bad or indifferent, and transform them into lessons and a launching pad of possibilities for our present and future. The difficulties of days gone by can either diminish us, define us or draw us closer to our dreams as we glean from what we have learned to move forward and become the best we can be in our relationships and areas of responsibility. No one can take away our power to choose but ourselves, nor can anyone keep us from progressing in life unless we abdicate that responsibility by allowing them to do so.

Jim Rohn once said, “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” Choose to design your present by eliminating unhappiness and pursuing joy today. As we wave goodbye to yesterday and yesteryear and bid hello to today and our future, let us prepare ourselves for greater areas of responsibility, accountability, opportunity and possibility to do what we’ve never done and to go where we’ve never gone before. God and countless others are waiting for us to stop spectating and to start participating by giving the best of ourselves and living our best lives.

Prayer to Ignite Action:
Father God, You created us with “free will” and the power to choose.  Today, I willingly choose to love You, obey Your Word and live my life fully for the sake of those who will one day follow in my footsteps as I continue to follow You.  I choose life and blessings by embracing joy over sadness, health over sickness, prosperity over poverty, and friendliness over loneliness.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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