Published by Barbara Bryant on 06 Jan 2016

You Just Got a Do-Over

I hope you’re ready for some great news this New Year!

I just watched the movie City Slickers for the fifth time, because there was too much to absorb the first four times around. As I watched this movie unfold, I was struck again by the magnitude of this incredible story. In the movie, Billy Crystal plays a radio advertising salesman going through a mid-life crisis. He and his friends spice up their boring, mundane existence by signing up for a cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado—an experience that changes them all forever. An epiphany, to be sure.

At the end of the movie they’re preparing to return to New York and the familiar routine, when Billy Crystal explains to his friend the concept of a “do-over.” “Do you remember,” he says, “when you used to play ball as a kid? Sometimes when you messed things up, you would get a “do-over.” A second chance to swing at the ball.

That’s what you’re getting now. You’re getting a “do-over.” In fact, it happens every January 1, when we’re all given a “do-over” – the opportunity to start fresh–and do it again within the next 365 days.

Perhaps you failed in your relationship with God in 2015. Maybe you messed up, made bad choices or had wrong priorities. Perhaps you failed to move forward in ministry like you should have. Maybe you didn’t pray enough, fast enough or failed to study God’s Word. Perhaps you suffered an embarrassing and stunning defeat and your spirit is saying, “If only I could begin again, things would be different. If only I could do things over, I would do them right.” Whatever the case, the good news is that you get a “do-over” in the New Year. You get another chance to make things right because the God of many chances wants to give you a do-over in 2016.

When we start over we never really start completely over! The reality is that God doesn’t waste anything. He uses every part of our past–the good, the bad and the ugly, to weave from our lives a beautiful tapestry that becomes an incredible life message and a powerful testimony of His faithfulness and tender compassion. And through that process He gets the glory, while we get stronger and more mature—ultimately becoming more like Jesus, which is the goal.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the young man and the rich executive. The young man asked the older man, “How did you come to be so successful?” and the man responded, “Two words, good decisions!” And the young man said, “How did you learn to make good decisions?’ and the man responded, “One word, experience.” “Well, where do you get experience? “Two words.” said the successful executive, “bad decisions!” So you see, we never start completely over because God takes everything we’ve ever learned and creates a brand new and victorious outcome through it all.

The best news of all is that our God is the God of new beginnings and He specializes in do-overs. He can take a broken life and set it straight again. He can take a hopeless situation and infuse it with hope. Isaiah 43:19 says, “Behold I will do a new thing…” I like the New Living Translation that reads: “For I am about to do something new.”

My friend, forget the former things; refuse to dwell on the past. You just got a “do over,” so let me encourage you to go for it in Christ Jesus!

Happy New Year.

Published by Barbara Bryant on 23 Nov 2015

Who’ll Say Grace?

When my youngest son Stedmon was small, before each meal he would ask, “Who’ll say grace?” I always responded, “I think this is a good day for Stedmon to say grace.” My oldest son, Steven would usually respond, “I’ll say grace because Stedmon prays too long.” As usual, I chuckled.

At age eleven, my oldest son Steven would pray a different kind of prayer–a prayer based on thanksgiving. He began every prayer with this phrase: “Thank you, Jesus.”

“Thank you, Jesus for my mom and dad.”

“Thank you, Jesus for my brother.”

“Thank you, Jesus for my dog.”

“Thank you, Jesus for our food……”

Although his prayers were short and simple at such a young age, Steven’s prayers were always quite sincere and very meaningful. His prayer was a constant reminder of how important it is to recognize and appreciate the kindness of our Lord and to express our thanks in words.

As you enter the Thanksgiving season this year, who’ll say grace before your meal? Who will give thanks to God for His goodness throughout the year? Who will let God know how much you appreciate His underserved blessings? Who will thank God for the wide range of miracles and healings He’s blessed you with? Who will give thanks to God for the good things that happened, especially those that came out of a bad situation? Who will thank God for always being a very present help in times of trouble?

When we remember what God has done for us and express our gratitude-we actually touch His very heart.

This year, let’s truly focus on the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving when we say grace. It can be easy to go through the motions of saying “thank you” without actually feeling thankful, so guard your heart, actually taking time to meditate on the incredible love and blessings of our wonderful God. Our sincere thanks is the very best gift we can offer to God, out of a heart overflowing with gratitude. Remember that Jesus thanked God and asked Him to bless the food before His meals, and even the Apostle Paul prayed with sincere thanksgiving for God’s generous provision. He said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

So I ask, “Who’ll say grace?”

May “grace” this Thanksgiving Day go far beyond the routine blessing, of the annual holiday feast. I pray that your “grace” will give thanks to God because we, who have been blessed so abundantly, should also be abundantly grateful, not only because God is deeply moved by our gratitude, but because we owe Him everything!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Published by Barbara Bryant on 14 Sep 2015

It Is Closer Than It Appears

When driving a vehicle, you must be very careful when judging the location of other cars on the highway when using the passenger side mirror. The passenger side mirror is quite different from the driver’s side mirror. In most modern-day cars, the passenger side mirror has a sticker that reads “Objects may be closer than they appear.” This statement is written on the mirror to caution drivers before changing lanes or parking. This statement tells the driver that the other car is not as far away as it appears. Too often in the body of Christ, we move into a parked position (giving up) or a changing lane position (considering doing something else) when God has not answered our prayer by a certain deadline. We pray for something to happen and because we don’t see evidence in the natural, we begin to think God is not going to honor what we’ve asked Him to do. I’m writing today to tell you to hold on. Your answer, your blessing, your miracle, your open door is much closer than it appears.

Waiting on God to move might seem endless. It may seem that all hope is gone and you’ve been left behind, but that’s a bold-faced lie from the pit of hell. So pick yourself up, wipe the tears from your eyes and kick your faith back into high gear. God has not forgotten you, and He has not overlooked you. Don’t let your hands [or faith] be weak, for your work [prayers] shall be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7, author paraphrase).

I know it’s hard to live by faith in “things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). However, Hebrews 10:35 says, “When you have done the will of God, you will receive what is promised.” I love the “you will receive” part of the scripture. It’s a declaration–a fact you can take to the bank. It’s an announcement that something has really occurred—a transaction has already taken place. So walk-out your day declaring “Any day now.” Prophesy to your situation that “it shall come to pass.” Speak it and declare it. Do not doubt your unlimited God because any day now it’s going to happen.

I strongly believe God has commanded me to tell you that the very thing you’ve been waiting for God to do, “is much closer than it appears.” Therefore, I encourage you not to become weary in well doing: for in due season you shall reap, if you faint not” (Galatians 6:9). Release your faith and watch God perform His Word. More than once we’re told in the Scriptures, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Get ready, God is about to do something that seems impossible to you – and it’s much closer than appears—much closer than you think!

Published by Barbara Bryant on 13 Jul 2015

Stopping To Recharge

For a long time I resisted the idea of carrying a cell phone. But as much as I have to communicate from the road, my cell phone has become essential. It is battery operated, which means that it will not run indefinitely. And it is no fun to be in a situation where you really need to communicate, and you find your cell phone DOA. So every few days, I make sure to plug my cell phone into a charger, so it is good to go again. Just as a cell phone needs down time to recharge, so do you and I. We need to take time for adequate rest and reflection. In fact, God created us that way. Rest is one of the Sabbath principles that He built into our design plan at creation, because He did not intend for us to work all the time. In Genesis 49:15 God said that rest is a good thing.

Several years ago I found myself with way too many commitments in too few days. I was nervous and tense about it. I was impatient with people, speeding toward every appointment, and feeling irritated at those unexpected but predictable interruptions that are part of everyday life. Before long, everything in my life reflected the tension of my harried coping style. It was becoming unbearable and agonizing.

One evening after supper I distinctly remembered the wise words of my youngest son, Stedmon. When he was seven years old, he wanted to share something that happened at school that day. In a breathless tone he said, “Mom, I want to tell you something, and I’ll tell you really, really fast.” Suddenly realizing his frustration, I answered, “Son, you can tell me–and you don’t have to tell me really, really fast. Say it slowly.” I will never forget his answer: “Mom, then listen slowly.” His words taught me a valuable lesson I will never forget…to slow down.

Are you rushing headlong through the fast lane? If so you are stressed, fatigued, impatient, irritable, and addicted to the adrenaline rush. At this rate, you’ll find yourself going over the edge or sending the people around you running for cover. You have to stop to recharge. As much as you might not want to hear it, the truth is that your physical and emotional batteries cannot run indefinitely without a complete breakdown of all systems.

As Christians, often times we’re in too big of a rush and find ourselves spinning out of control. Next, comes the “crash and burn” phase, which we all want to avoid. However, there is a stress reduction prescription found in the Word of God. Mark 6, verse 31 says, “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Where can you go to get rest? Into the desert! A quiet place where you are isolated and inaccessible, with no interruptions. A place that shifts you, into down time.

It’s the down time that recharges the battery of my cell phone. It’s the down time that allows my battery to reset, revitalize and renew. It is the down time that regenerates and rejuvenates my physical, emotional and spiritual batteries. If I don’t give my phone battery that recovery time, it eventually won’t work at all. The same applies to recharging our bodies with rest.

Though we may believe otherwise, resting is not a waste of time. Rather it’s much like giving your body a mini-vacation to prepare for the next day, while it gives your brain a chance to sort things out. And much like the cell phone battery, without recovery time, eventually those systems will break down and fail. Rest has the effect of recharging all systems so we can run again at full power.

As a card-carrying ex-workaholic myself I know how easy it is to fill every moment until there isn’t a spare second to breathe. And while it may make us feel indispensible, its cost is enormous in emotional peace, in close relationships, and even in performance and creativity. God created in us the need to take time out to rest and restore so that in the end we actually accomplish much more in much less time.

You may admit that you need rest. But that won’t happen unless you make a non-negotiable commitment to do it. Make it part of your regular routine. Stand back, re-examine your priorities, and literally schedule regular times to recharge. Write them on your calendar. For example, set a firm quitting time. A time when you step out of your normal routine and you do nothing but rest. You may argue, “I’m too busy to take a time-out.” Well, I’m saying “You’re too busy not to.” Without balancing mechanisms such as rest and relaxation, you will literally burn out and be of little use to the kingdom of God.  So stop and recharge.

Published by Barbara Bryant on 30 Mar 2015

God, Not Satan Makes the Final Call

The term ‘final call’ means the final or last word–the ultimate resolution. If a decision or someone’s authority is final, it cannot be challenged, changed or questioned.

The word “final” also means something that happens at the end of an event or series of events. In Mark 8:31 we read: “He (Jesus) then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” In this case the final call was that after three days He would rise again.

This is a message of hope in a hopeless situation–a message of great victory in a time of overwhelming defeat. It is a message of triumph where it appears that all is lost. Just when everyone was ready to give up hope, Jesus said that when all was said and done, He would rise again. In other words, reject me, crucify me, denounce me, defame me, torment me, inflict pain upon me, but I will still be the last man standing.

Consider the night when Jesus was arrested—clearly Satan was on the rampage, doing everything in his power to destroy the Son of God. In Luke 22:3-31 Jesus spoke this profound word to those who came to arrest him in the dark: “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this hour and the power of darkness are yours” (Luke 22:52-53). In John 10:18 He said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” In other words He was saying to Satan: “Boast not yourself over the hand that made you, Satan. You have one hour. What you do, do quickly.”

Jesus’ words confirm that God was and is sovereign even over Satan’s hand during persecution. Nothing could have happened to Him outside of His Father’s sovereign will. And because He’s the same yesterday, today and forever, we too can be confident that nothing happens to us outside of God’s sovereign will. God, not Satan, makes the final call. Our lives are in His hands–not Satan’s. That’s why Jesus was so sure that His Father was in control, even when He was about to die. It was also how He could say, “After three days I will rise again.”

Just as Satan went after Jesus, he often comes after Christians. However, even in the midst of our own suffering, we must declare that we will rise again in the name of the Lord because it’s God who makes the final call. No matter how difficult our struggles, we can be certain that we will rise again with the help of the Lord. In fact, we will rise up, filled with more power than when we went down.

Who killed Jesus? There’s no point in asking, because He’s not dead. After all was said and done, the final call was that He would rise again and He did. So will you.

I’m So Glad Jesus Lives,

 

Published by Admin@Exodus2015 on 10 Mar 2015

Cheer Up! The End is Better Than The Beginning

Beginnings are important. But endings always trump beginnings. People don’t receive rewards and recognition, or personal satisfaction for how they began. It’s how they end that counts. It’s a good thing when things begin well. Yet it’s even better when all is well that ends well.

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote the following: “The end of a matter is better than its beginning…” (Eccl. 7:8, NIV). In other words, how you start in life is not as important as how you end.

Some things end naturally like seasons or interests. We welcome them into our lives and move on. And some things are brought to an end by others, whose decisions are beyond our control, so we must move on. Some things end because we decide it’s time to make changes.

No matter how inconvenient or stressful it might be, we cannot control things that end naturally or things that end due to the decisions of others. But we get to choose how we will respond—what kind of attitude we have. Will we choose to be bitter or better? And we can also determine to end things that we know are not in our best interests. One of the greatest gifts and responsibilities we have is the ability to decide when enough is enough and choose to make better, wiser decisions.

Do you have things in your life that need to end? Resolve to end them and move on to do more with your gifts and talents. Harmful relationships, addictions, bad jobs, useless habits, wrong company, and such, will never improve your situation, so end them and move on.

Beginnings are important and should be good, strong and thorough, but the end of a thing normally overshadows its beginning. The end of a thing by far outweighs its beginning because the end is the final summation of the impact of a life, a thing or a matter. If the end of a matter is bad, it is the only impression that men will carry away. However, no matter how terrible the beginning, if the end is glorious, that’s the final, indelible impression that will last forever!

As believers, it’s important that we end our race well and in God’s will. How we end our race is far more important than all the intervening years. It’s the final legacy and the cap stone on our labor that matters.

If you’re in a dark period of your life, don’t despair, the sun will shine again. Don’t be discouraged because “your thing” didn’t begin well. Don’t become frustrated because you couldn’t get “your thing” off the ground. You dare not let the beginning ruin your chances at a winning end. So change your focus. Keep moving through the process and remember that the end is better than the beginning!

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