Looking Forward

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The past I had, I cannot change.
The past I had, no more remains.
It brought me to this time and place.
It helped me see my Savior’s face.

Can you take a few minutes and really think about these few lines? I mean really think about it. Every person alive has a past. Some can be proud of their accomplishments, but most of us look back and see our mistakes, the blunders, and the paralyzing results of the many sins we committed. If we look back through our eyes, most of us remember our pain and shame.

Sometimes there are those who long to bring those feelings back into play in this present moment. It might be the enemy throwing our past in our face, trying to trip us up. We know the enemy does it to prevent us from realizing exactly who we are in the Lord. On the other hand, it might be members of our own family or even a church member. Some will do it out of anger or even un-forgiveness. Others attack our past mistakes out of jealousy. They could resent our calling or position in the body of Christ.

These few lines at the beginning came from the Lord one night as I was struggling with my past. I knew the Lord had forgiven me, but I could not let go of the past. How could anyone love me and especially the Lord? My sins seemed higher than highest mountain in the world. They seemed darker than the darkest night. Yet, the Lord kept ministering that His forgiveness had no boundaries. His love was wider, deeper, and higher than anything I could ever imagine. As I had repented, He had cast my sin far away. In fact, He threw it as far as the east is from the west.

Changing our past is impossible. There is no way to go back in time and re-do or alter a single second or act. Your past is unchangeable. However, praise His name, His forgiveness can overcome all of it. As we come to the Lord seeking forgiveness, as we cry out in our pain and agony, He opens His arms and welcomes us into His family, by the blood of the Lamb. Added to that, His forgiveness is unending, and He never brings our past up to bring us back down. He convicts, but He never condemns. It is through our past that we saw our need for a Savior and began seeking His face. Our past brings us to that place of salvation.

However, the marvelous thing He revealed over the years is that no matter what our failures are, He is more than able to bring glory to His name even in the worse of our failures. Yes! It seems impossible but it is through our experiences and failures that we are able to minister to others sharing with them how the Lord worked in our life. By allowing others to see what the Lord has accomplished in our life, we may plant a seed of hope in them. Others will see the changes in our life and want to walk through that same door to victory.

I have seen the Lord do this numerous times, not only in my life but also in the life of others. To know that the Lord can take the worse times of my life and redeem them for good is a miracle to me. As bad as your past may be, when you allow the Lord to turn the table on what the enemy wanted to use to bring you down , He brings glory to His name. Let the cry of your heart be “Lord, use me, use my past for Your Glory, for Your kingdom. Amen.”

None Can Compare

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Who can compare to the Lord we serve? No one does! What great achievements can anyone do that can measure up to His mighty works. None! The truth is no one will ever love you, care for you, and provide for you as the Lord does. Let that sink in for just a moment. It doesn’t matter how much your parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse or children and grandchildren love you or you love them, it will still not compare to the unending eternal love that has been shown to you throughout the ages.

Before you were a speck in your parents’ eye, or before they were speck in their parents’ eye, the God we serve knew all about you. In fact, even before forming the earth your Heavenly Father had already called you by your name. He knew the very moment of your conception, the second of your delivery, and listened for the sound of your first cry and said “This one is Mine!”

He waited with great anticipation for the moment you would listen to the call on your life to receive His gift of salvation. Divine provision was made with the sacrifice of His Only Son for your redemption from the wages of sin. Jesus paid the price to give you the right to become a child of the Most High. Shedding His precious blood Jesus laid His life down for YOU! This costly gift allows your adoption into the family of God.

His promises are true. His love is eternal. His guidance is perfect. His timing never fails. He listens to every cry and prayer of your voice. Every tear you cry is precious in His sight and saved in a bottle. He encamps His angels around you. His path and direction for your life will become clear in His timing.
He hides you in the safety of His shadow. He speaks peace to the storm. Provision is made on your behalf. He is your rear guard. He is your Captain! He is the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. He is your Savior, your Redeemer, and a present Help in time of trouble. His counsel is perfect, but requires us to follow it. He is your Healer. He is your strength. He is the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega and the beginning and the end.

The Lord has chosen you! There is a reason you were born at this time and place. He desires a one-on-one relationship with you. No one can take your place or replace you in your calling. You are His, His beloved and His future Bride. His plan is to spend eternity with you.

Nothing can compare. No one can equal His power, His love, or His might. No matter how young, how old, how healthy, how sick you are, He is right there with you. He will always be there. He promises it in His word. Hang on to His promise. Honestly, hang on to every promise in His Word. They were yours yesterday, and they are yours for today, and tomorrow. Grab hold to His Word. Read it, believe it, and stand strong in what He says. Who can compare to the Lord we serve? NO ONE praise God! We serve the One True Lord of the entire Universe. Praise His Holy Name!

Say What!

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Sharing our testimony is not always about sharing the deep dark secrets in our past. When we witness for the Lord, sometimes it might be about an event that took place last month or even yesterday. The point is that we share with others what the Lord has accomplished, is accomplishing at the moment or even what we are praying about and believing for this time in our life. As others listen to our words of faith and trust, we never know how the Lord will use it in the heart of our listeners. Let’s face the facts, that at times, we will have a scoffer ridicule us for believing in ‘those old fashion fairy tales’. But you and I both know where we have been and what we have been through. We know that we know that we know that this is more than any old wives tale or wishful thinking. If we are honest, most of us know that without the Lord’s intervention there is a very good chance we could be dead now.

How many have seen the Lord answering a prayer request? There is a testimony. An older brother in the Lord recently shared with me that he prayed for favor before a job interview. A couple of days afterwards, the phone rings and he hears the words “Sir, the job is yours!” After a year and a half of looking, of being turned down at every corner he hears an answer to his prayer. How many people could be encouraged by his testimony of answered prayer?

Or it’s the couple who want to reach out and minister to those that are considered the outcast of society, the homeless, the man or woman living on the street. Yes, it’s true some might be there by choice, but often that is not the situation. There were events that took place in their life forcing them out without shelter without hope. The Lord has listened to their cry and opened the door for them to join forces with other churches. Their goal: to provide a few articles of food and clothing to bring hope to these lost souls. Is it working? Yes! They were amazed at the gratefulness of every individual that received their small token. So their vision and faith have increased.

It’s the mother who honors her son’s memory by mailing condolence cards to other families enduring the same agony. Imagine her surprise while attending a grief seminar several hours away from home to discover one of the recipients is also there. She hears their testimony of how her card ministered to their aching heart. Both families have been touched by tragedy and yet the Lord has used their testimony to encourage one another.

It’s the pastor who shares his past and how the Lord touched him in spite of his sin. Now he preaches and proclaims the Word of the Lord, knowing that his past is just that his past. It’s the young man who has struggled with alcohol and is finally free of its grip. It’s the mother praying for her children and seeing them one by one turn back to the Lord. It’s the wife who has struggled with the truth that her husband walked out on their family but is finally feeling peace once more. Or the spouse who made it through another day without their soulmate and are once more feeling the Lord touch their heart. Perhaps, a single mom has seen the Lord answer a prayer for food for her family in a miraculous way.

Yes, we all have a testimony. Some are about the big things that have taken place in their life. Others are about the smaller things. But all have a testimony to share about the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness to His children. Yes, your testimony might feel insignificant, but you can rest in the knowledge that the Lord will use it, somehow and someway. He will use it when you least expect it and on the most unlikely person.

So stand strong, stand tall and proclaim the goodness of the Lord you serve. Your testimony will make a difference. How can I be so sure? Because He said and I believe it. Mark 5:18-20 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

So be a mouthpiece for the Lord. Lift up your voice and declare His goodness in your life. You don’t have to stand behind a pulpit or preach a sermon to be an effective witness for the Lord. The Lord has blessed and accomplished so much in your life and your story can give hope to another. So rise up and declare the works of the Lord to those He places in your path.

Open Wide

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“I don’t want anyone to know about my past.” “No one wants hear me talk about myself and how bad I was.” “What good will it do to share what the Lord has done in my life?” “Me, testify? Yea, right!” Often this is exactly how we feel when we hear others sharing where they were before the Lord got a hold of them. We dodge the question when asked to share or just refuse. Yet the Word encourages us to share our testimony.

How many times have you sat in a service or listened to a friend share what the Lord has ministered in their life, you are amazed at how it touched your heart. Many years ago a friend spoke of her life before Christ. She was a wild child and the result was giving up a child for adoption. I was shocked, oh not at her mistakes but that our story were similar. There was one major difference. She had not only felt the forgiveness of the Lord, but she had worked past the shame and guilt into a freedom that can truly only come from the Lord. At that time, I had never experienced that freedom from the disgrace before. But through her testimony, I saw a glimpse of hope. Yes, hope that the Lord could bring me to that place also.

Most people are afraid that if people know the ‘truth’ of who they were before they came to the Lord that they will be rejected. Others know that there are those who will always look down their ‘self-righteousness nose’ at their failure. But the truth is every single person that has every walked the face of this earth has failed and fallen flat on their face. They might be able to hide the acts or convince others that it just was not it seemed to be, but the truth is, other than our Lord Jesus, no one is perfect. All have fallen short of the glory of God.

The Word reveals that same truth from cover to cover. We see the failures and the redemption of the individuals of the Lord. Abraham failed to wait for God’s timing, yet the Lord still kept His promise that Abraham would have an heir with Sarah. Rahab was a harlot, yet the Lord used her to protect His men. She eventually married an Israelite and is an ancestor of the Lord. Jonah ran from the call on his life to preach a strong word to the Nineveh, yet the Lord boxed him in until he was willing to follow the Lord’s instructions. David was man after God’s on heart, but he still fell into sexual sin with Bathsheba. Or Saul of Tarsus as he persecuted God’s people. They all faced failures but the Lord saw past that truth and moved in their life.

It is possible that as you follow the leading of the Lord and share what He has accomplished in your life that He will use it to touch the heart of another. Because you see, it’s not so much about our failures, mistakes or gross sin, it is all about His mercy, grace, love and forgiveness. It’s about knowing every shortcoming is not too difficult for the Lord to forgive. Even after coming to the Lord, we will fail but as we come before His throne of grace, we are once more washed in His precious blood and made whole before Him.
Titus 3:3-5 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Yes, be encouraged and open your mouth. Share where you have come from. Share His mercy towards you. Share His grace and love. Let your past be a testimony for good. Allow the Lord to take the bad and use it for His glory. Let your testimony touch the hearts of those who need to see hope. Let them see that the hope the Lord has placed in you is available for them. Lift up your voice and let His praises ring out.

How will you answer?

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The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day outside. The trees are gradually changing colors and falling to the ground in anticipation of the coming winter season. The birds are floating on the wind, even as the squirrels have been gathering the acorns and other stores for their nest in the treetops. Yet, not a single one of us know what could occur in our life tomorrow, next week or even tonight. If only… if only we could look in a magic ball to see, what our future holds. Yet, do we really want to know the reality of what tomorrow will bring. What if we knew something terrible was happening next week? Could we stand strong and face it? Perhaps we would run and hide in a dark room praying the event would pass us by without bring the harm.

However there are events and calling in our future that the Lord does reveal. Why? Because He knows that, we need a hope for our future. No one wants to drift through life like a piece of wood floating endlessly on the surface of the ocean. We need a sense of direction. In reality, most of us need to understand that we have a ‘job’ or a calling in our life. We want to know that we have a purpose. Without that sense of direction, we struggle to know why we are here.

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. The vision it is talking about, is not physically seeing something, but being able to see something mentally, a dream or a revelation. All of us need to have a dream. It’s a dream that should be ever evolving and changing. It is a hope for our future, think about it for a moment. This applies to individuals, families, and especially churches. We need that sense of direction to help guide our footsteps in the path the Lord is placing before us.

Think about David. Here is a young man, the youngest son in the family. He was the one left to deal with the flock while all his brothers were busy elsewhere. Yet, after the Lord rejects King Saul, it is David who is anointed to be the next king over Israel. There was no fanfare, or parade. As Samuel pours the oil over the young man’s head, can you imagine how David’s heart must have raced at his words, “You will be the next king!” Wow! Most of us would be like “Let’s get this show on the road.” However, it did not happen immediately,

David spent years, yes years, before the vision became a reality. He faced Goliath, avoided spears, ran for his life, lived in a cave, and fought many battles long before that crown was placed on his head. However, during those years, he learned so much that would benefit him as king. As he ran for his life, this young man learned to rule the few hundred men who followed him. His small ranks were men who were distressed, men in debt, and those discontented. He learned to handle the disputes and heartaches of the men who followed him. These experiences helped him become a good king.

The disciples left behind their old ways of life to become fishers of men. Saul of Tarsus tormented the saints until the day the Lord revealed his future and the persecutor became a preacher. The Lord called Jeremiah to be a prophet for even before his birth. Abraham heard the call to be the father of a nation years before the birth of the promised heir. Throughout the Word, we can see the changes in the life of God’s people as they pressed into more of the Lord.

There is a call on every single one of us in some way or form either big or small. Maybe yours is behind the scenes in the role of a servant. Others may be in front of a crowd. No matter what the call is, you can rest in the knowledge that the Lord will reveal His heart and the path for you. Even now, the Lord is ministering to some of you that a change is coming into your life. Prepare for it. Press in more in prayer, in the Word and into His presence. You are valuable to Lord no matter what the call is on your life. You have a purpose, and you have a call.

He Understands

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The women hung onto every word as the various speakers shared their heartbreak. Most had lost a child, another one lost her nephew, but everyone was grieving in some way. Everyone was struggling with grief in some way. Others have been betrayed by a dear friend, or moving and leaving family behind or even changing a beloved job. There is one phrase from that day has stayed with me since that day. “It’s okay not to be okay.” However, when we know that we are not okay, we feel like a complete failure. As Christians, we know we should trust the Lord completely. We know what the Word says, but somehow nothing seems real, except the pain we feel.

The enemy of our soul convinces us that we are alone in our current battle, the heartache, or the hard times. By persuading us that we are alone, our exposure to isolation becomes even more entrenched in our spirit. In our struggle, we make an effort to continue to trust in the Lord, somedays are easier than the day before. Other days, we lose the battle and wonder “Why? Why, Lord! This is too hard. I can’t hold on much longer! Where are You?”

As I meditated on this reality, I thought about the many friends and loved ones who are grieving in one way or another. It’s the single mom whose child suffers from deadly seizures. Or the parents who watch their child dealing with heart problems. Perhaps some are watching a child grow-up with a health issues that will never allow them a ‘normal’ life. Then there is the daughter watching her mom undergoing treatment for cancer. Or the parents who are dealing with their son after a traumatic brain injury. They are thankful his life was spared but how do you deal with an adult son whose whole life has been changed.

It’s the mate who has lost their other half, their better half and struggle to survive day to day alone. Or the mother who lost an only child. Possibly it is the deserted mate left for another. The pain is real and seems to be ongoing, never ending. Doesn’t our heavenly Father know how much we are hurting? Does He even care? When is going to end?

However, the Lord dropped a thought into my heart that day. In fact, I asked Him “God, how could You watch the agony of Your Son as He was beaten, tortured and died. How could You deal with the reality that He did nothing wrong that justified what happened to Him? I just do not understand! How could You watch what they did and not step in?” Slowly the Lord began ministering to my spirit. His heart was breaking with every punch, every hair plucked, and every nail was driven. Yes, He is God but His pain was just as real as ours.

Let that sink in, His heart broke over the pain of His Child. He felt the same agony as we do when we are grieving for a lost loved one. He suffered as the Lord drew His final breath. He knew the ultimate plan but it doesn’t change the pain He felt as He watched His Son suffer. Our Father knows what we feel because He has felt it. Does it make things any easier? Honestly, yes! It helps because we can hold on to the truth that God really does understand our pain. He knows! He understands our pain, our suffering, and our agony. He feels the same heartache we do.

This reality, this truth brings comfort. He knows! He understands! Does it change your outcome? Not really, but it does ease the pain of feeling alone and desolated. It does tell you that you can trust Him more than ever. He is walking every step of the way with you. You are not alone. No, you are never alone, your Heavenly God is right there with you.

Through His Eyes

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Everyone wants to be loved. They want someone to give them a hug, make them feel wanted and accepted. Too often in the world, people are pushed away for simple reasons. They might be considered too fat, too dumb, too smart, or have a bad attitude according to the individual pushing them away. Yet, thank the Lord, He NEVER pushes us away.

He looks at us through eyes that see who we really are and who we were created to be. His eyes are filled with love, and compassion. After years of struggling with alcoholism a man finally became clean and sober. Unfortunately, a few years later he fell off the wagon. Immediately, he began berating and beating himself up. He felt worthless, useless and a complete failure. As he sat in a dark room, he contemplated suicide. How could the Lord ever forgive him? Suddenly, the Lord spoke softly to his heart. Even through these are not His exact words, they do convey what He ministered to the broken man. “You see your failures and faults, but you forget I see beyond the mistakes of yesterday or even yesteryear. I see your heart in the light of eternity. I see the truth of you who are called to be.” Those few sentences changed his life forever.

The same is true in your life and mine today. He sees beyond all our mess and sees who we were meant to be. Allow Him to reveal His heart toward you today. Allow Him to reveal who you are, and who you are called to me. Allow the Lord to reveal His perfect love to you. You will be forever changed.

What’s the Answer

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Have you taken time to think about what a true follower of Jesus really means? Often, someone thinks it is going to a church, walking down to the front and simply joining the membership. They think as long as their name is on the role they are safe. Believe me I am not knocking church membership, but there is more to becoming a Christian than writing your name on a piece of paper. Think about it this way, I can write my name on my daughter’s checkbook, but it does not entitle me to the money in her bank account.

Others think, “I have been in church my whole life. I have tried to be good and live according to the Bible. My parents and my grandparents are Christians and so am I.” Going to a church does not get you into heaven. Just because your parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles are Christians; that does not mean you are automatically a Christian. You can’t ride into heaven on someone’s shirttails. God does not have any grandchildren. When we become a Christian, we are adopted into His family as His child.

I recently heard of an older man who had been in a church all his life. He was a good man; many considered him a great Christian man. He worked in the church, helping every way he could. One Sunday after a particularly fiery message, at the altar call this old man stood up making his way to the altar. “I want to get saved!” This man sat every Sunday in this church but had never given his heart to the Lord for over fifty years. For the first time, he acknowledged he was not a Christian even through his whole life revolved around the church.

My associate pastor made a statement in the sermon Sunday morning, that someone stated, “as long as I can slide into heaven, I am ok with that.” My first impression was someone sliding in as in baseball trying to steal a base. How can anyone honestly believe that they can ‘steal or slide’ into heaven and be safe? How many people feel this way? There are also the people who think, “I am too young to be tied down to ‘religion’ I will get right with God later.” Yet, we all know that tomorrow is promised to no one.

Take a moment and think about the disciples that began following Jesus as He walked the earth. These men and women were willing to lay aside everything, family, homes, and jobs for a chance to listen to the teacher. They were willing to place Him first in their life. He became their number one focus. Yet, in today’s society, anyone one who does ‘that’ is a fanatic. I have actually heard someone make the statement that “God knows that things are different now, He knows my heart! Life is busy and too short to be in church all the time.” How they would feel if God had that same attitude and was too busy to listen to them, or their prayers?

People must come to the foot of the cross on their own merits and face their own sins. There are absolutely no exceptions to that. I can’t write your name in the Lamb’s book of life any more that you can write mine. As we come to the cross, we are able to see our heart and sins in the light of His love and recognize our need for a Savior. There is no one, no not one single person, who is worthy of walking, crawling, sliding or talking their way into heaven. We can’t earn, buy or trade our way into heaven. There is only one way that we can freely pass the threshold and that is by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

He laid His life down for your salvation. He was beaten, whipped, and tortured for all your sins and transgressions. No one took His life. Jesus willingly carried your sins to cross and laid His life down to make provision for your salvation. He suffered the consequences of the wages of death for you. If no one else on earth ever came to salvation but you, He still would have given His life freely. Why, because He loves you; His love for you is that strong. He wants to spend eternity with you. With such a gift as that, is He not worthy of a place of prominence in your life? Doesn’t He deserve all your love? No one else could ever pay the price that He has paid. He gave His all for you. Yes, He gave His all for you! So the question now is; are you willing to give Him your best?

Not going to give up

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Sometimes we get so busy and involved in ‘things’ around us that we lose sight of our true mission in life. We are to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul and all that is within us. When hard times comes we distance our self not only from people but often from the Lord also, because face it, we feel let down. What did I do wrong to deserve this? Why didn’t the Lord protect me? I thought that as His child, He was going to guard me and keep me safe from all harm!

But the truth is we live in a fallen world. Adam and Eve messed up paradise a long time ago and their descendants have been paying for it ever since. Just look at Cain and Abel. Abel didn’t have an issue with Cain; however out of jealousy and rage he paid the price. David was threatened by his own King. Saul pursued him with every intention of killing him. Abigail was in a bad marriage. Hannah was barren. Jacob walked with a limp and the list could go on and on. That is part of living in a fallen world.

Life often seems unfair, especially when bad things happen and you are struggling to see the light at the end of our tunnel. Yet, even in the midst of all your hardships, you can count on one thing. The Lord is faithful! He will always be there for you. He has never left you and he never will. Every single promise is real and He will see you through. Every single step you take, He is right there with you.

Why does the Lord care so much for you? He cares because you are special in His sight. Even before you were a twinkle in your mom’s eye, He cared for you. Actually, even before your grandmother thought of your mom, He already loved you with an everlasting love. That truth amazes me. To know that the Creator of this universe was waiting for you and me is astounding.

Even when you neglect your relationship with the Lord, He still loves you. When you withdraw from His presence when you feel abandoned, He does not walk away giving up on you. When you mistrust Him after being wounded by someone, He waits for you to see the truth of His love and compassion. When the ceilings are brass and your prayers fall to the floor, He reminds you in His word that He never leaves you nor forsakes you.

Yes, hard times come and go, but His love never gives up on us. He cared for you yesterday, He cares for you today, and He will still care for you tomorrow. Nothing and no one care change that. Hang on to His promises! Hang on to His truth! Isaiah 46:3-4 “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, Who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

He’s Here

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There are days when you can just feel the presence of the Lord from that first moment when you open your eyes. You might wake up with a song floating through your mind and at times the song is not at the beginning. Even in your sleep the Lord is ministering to you. Just think about that for a moment, you spirit is awake even if your body is sleeping and the Holy Spirit is right there with you. No matter what you are going through, what is happening in your life the Lord is right there beside you.

There are other days that you wonder where He is. You may be in between a rock and a hard place, but remember you are standing on the Rock of your salvation. You may feel you are out in the middle of the ocean, lost at sea, He is right there in the boat with you. Maybe you are standing in the midst of a dark valley, but He is walking beside you. Are you struggling in the pit of despair, stand on the truth He is the Lifter of your head. Maybe it feels like you are lost, He always knows exactly where you are.

The Word reveals that nothing, absolutely NOTHING is too hard for Him. And no matter what is happening around us, He will make a way. In the deepest ocean, darkest night, highest mountain, lowest valley or driest desert – He will make a way. Stand on His promises! Stand in faith! Stand on His word that He is right there with you. He will keep His promises.

Isaiah 45:2-3 ‘I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.