Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's not over!

On Israel Houghton's latest album, there's a track that says, "It's not over, it's not finished, it's not ending...It's only the beginning. When God is in it, all things are new."

That statement could not be any more true! You see, several times we look back at our lives, whether we've been Christians for a long time or whether we've only just begun our walk, and we realise that we have wasted a lot of time on things that were not important. There were detours along our path that took us to places we shouldn't have been, places we didn't want to be in and places we were forced to be in. These things took up precious time and resources and many of the goals we have for our lives were not realised.

You get to see friends moving forwards, moving at the speed of light past you and you can't help but wondering, "Lord, when am I going to get to do all those wonderful things you have promised."

But guess what? IT'S NOT OVER! Life isn't over. As long as you're breathing it is still possible to reach your goals. They may not happen at the time you wanted them to, but it's not over. Your friends may be moving through life at the speed of light, but some things are best done a bit slower and as you grow older and wiser, you realise that it was a good thing that God made you wait to do certain things.

When God makes a promise, He keeps it. Sometimes His promises are conditional and there are certain things you need to do in order for other things to happen, but God always keeps his end of the bargain. He is always just waiting for you to get to the right stage of maturity before He pours out His blessings. You see, for your own good, there are some things that God just won't give you until you're ready. If you haven't learnt to spend money wisely and He has promised you financial freedom, you probably won't get a great new job until you learn to manage the salary of the smaller one. So sometimes, we are actually the ones holding our promises back.

Even if you've met the conditions of your promise, don't give up if you don't see anything happening, because remember, God's timing is what matters, not ours, no matter how old you think you may be getting. It's not over, God is not finished. There's still time to accomplish your goals. Write them down and write down the promises God made to you concerning them. Remind yourself that it's not over until God says so.

When God is in it, All things are New!

Have a blessed day!

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is Holiness Attainable?

You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own. (Leviticus 20:26 NLT)

The word holy means having a spiritually pure quality. Nobody else on earth is holy like God. No person place or thing, not in the true sense of the word. So why then does he ask us to be holy like him? Sometimes it feels like you might just be fighting a losing battle, trying to be holy like God. But I'm reminded by the fact that God only gives us stuff we can handle, so if he has asked that we remain holy then it's fair enough to say that holiness is indeed attainable.

What I like about God's request is that in asking us to be holy as He is holy, he has requested that we strive for the rest of our lives to be like Him. God knows that as human beings with our sinful nature, we will fall sometimes, but his request reminds us to keep going. It's almost as if the minute we fall, our conscience whispers to us, "get up, be holy", so we get up and we keep moving. What that continuous request does, is cause us to grow, so that as time progresses, the things that use to trip us up and threaten our holiness before God, no longer even catch a passes glance from us. We grow simply by heeding the call to be holy each day.

Holiness doesn't mean that we have to walk around dressed in robes, hiding our faces and and ignoring the fun things in life though. It means that whilst we enjoy these fun things we are to remember that we are different from the people around us and even though we love them, we can't be like them. Holiness means recognizing that your body is God's house and it should be kept clean. Holiness means recognizing that you are special and living that way. Not with your head stuck in the clouds ignoring those around you, but with the understanding that you are to be different.

So God is our standard for holiness, and He's the ultimate standard since nobody else is as holy as Him. So like the saying goes, if you reach the for the moon, even if you don't get the there, you'll land among the stars. However, for our purposes, I'd like to say that when you land among the stars you are in an even better position to head for the moon again.

Be blessed everyone and have a Holy day!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Christian Discipline

Self-discipline has so many applications in so many areas of our lives. Success in almost anything requires an attitude of self-discipline. In order to succeed at school we must be disciplined enough to apply ourselves to our studies continuously. Keeping healthy requires that we discipline ourselves and hold back on some of the things that we would love to eat. It also takes discipline to stick to an exercise regimen.

The same holds true for our Christian walk. It takes discipline to wake up an hour earlier every morning to spend extra time in prayer. It takes discipline to make changes to your lifestyle. It takes discipline to walk away from relationships that are damaging to your Christian life. Self-discipline therefore is an essential attribute for maintaining a healthy Christian life, just as it is essential in our natural lives.

How then do you build discipline? Good question. I've been trying to develop mine for a very long time now. I still have not arrived, but I can tell you what has worked for me so far.

First and foremost, in order to be disciplined and diligent about anything, you have to want it. That thing has to be part of your bigger life goals. For example, you will only be disciplined about school work if earning a degree someday is part of the larger goals you have for your life. If you aren't all that interested in school and what lies beyond it, then you won't apply yourself to it. The same is true with Christianity. If you aren't interested in a deep relationship with God then there will be no desire to make the extra effort required to build one. So step one in the process towards discipline is to analyze your wants. Do you want a deeper relationship with God?

After you know what you want, you must make some kind of effort towards gaining it right? You can't expect to just sit still and watch things happen. Nothing will ever happen that way. So the next step is to actually move. Do something. Set your alarm. Set reminders on your computer. Put up stickers in your room to remind you. Do what it takes. Like the Nike slogan says, just do it. Sometimes we just need to get off our butts and just do what you need to do. Nobody else can do it for you. The effort must be yours. So really this process of discipline is actually about you. What do you want and how are you planning to get it? It will always start and end with you actually doing something. So one day at a time, one step at a time DO SOMETHING. Get up, get going!

If you want the power of God to manifest even greater in your life, then you have to do something. Build your relationship, spend the time growing your spiritual muscles. Get moving!

Have a discipline-filled day!    

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo                 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stay Focused!

In a world filled with distractions, one of the hardest things to do is remain focused. There's so much happening in our lives, so many things that cause stress or come under the guise of helping us relax but what they really do is take us away from the things that are most important.

One of the most important elements required for a Christian walk to be successful is focus. We need to know where we're going and why in order to get there. Our eyes must always be kept on Christ or else we'll begin to sink. Peter had a hard time remaining focused when he was walking on water with Christ. I don't blame him, the waves were moving all around him and in the middle of his walk it must have suddenly dawned on him that he was walking on water! I'm pretty sure that the devil had a hand in whispering that to him, providing a distraction just long enough for Peter to shift his focus.

It has always been super easy for me to lose focus, I sometimes joke and say that I have the attention span of a mosquito. Doesn't matter what I'm doing, if a butterfly passes by me, it's going take my attention and probably keep it for a little while, just long enough for me to forget what I was doing! Needless to say then, that my Christian life has suffered a bit because of this lack of focus. God has spoken many promises to me over the years and I always tend to forget them when they are most important. When you forget the promises, you forget why you are doing what you are doing and it becomes easy to lose hope and faith. That's what makes focus so important.

My encouragement to you is to keep your eyes steady on Christ, remember his promises, cut out the distractions that will cause you to forget why you are doing what you are doing. Sometimes you just need to step away from the noise of social networking, committee meetings, and even family. Steal a moment for yourself , bask in God's presence and let him remind you of what's important. Don't lose focus, it's the worst thing that could happen to your Christian walk.

Stay Focused!

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

When God's desires become Yours

A few posts ago, we talked about throwing temper tantrums when God doesn't give us exactly what we want. A sure sign of Christian maturity is watching the thing we want most walk away from us and being able to say, "God, it wasn't your will for me, so I'm OK with that."

Christian growth is about getting to the point in your life where your desires for your life is what God desires for your life. It takes years of trusting God and years of developing your faith, but when you get to that place, it's one of the most amazing experiences.

Of course, most times I write a post, it's out of my own experiences. So here I am now, on the lonely road, watching the one thing I prayed and asked God for specifically (I actually stood and pointed at it and said "God, I want THAT one"), walk away from me. My heart is a little sad, but that's because I'm human, not because I'm mourning. My desires for my life is what God desires for me.

I'm a little amazed at myself because only a few short months ago, I would have thrown a temper tantrum and today I'm totally calm, that's how I know that God has been doing amazing work in me.

So what's the next step? What do you do when the one thing you wanted is no longer in the picture? Well, you wait of course. Over the course of the fifteen years I've been a Christian, I've learned that God never takes something away from you just for the sake of doing so, He does it because it's in the way of the REAL thing that he wants to give you. That excites me for one awesome reason. In the party of life, God is the one guest you always invite because he always brings  an AMAZING gift.

Christian maturity has the added bonus of keeping you focused whilst God gets your gift ready. Whilst He does that, you must be ready yourself because His gifts ALWAYS have conditions.  Christian maturity is about the marriage of faith, hope and trust. When these three come together, it is easy to remain focused on the ultimate goal, not on the one thing you wanted which slipped out of your grasp.

So today, don't mourn for what you have lost, but be joyful, because the gift your God is preparing must be something really awesome!
Be blessed!

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Loving on your God

You know how everybody always says that a relationship with God should be treated like any other relationship? You talk to Him like a friend, rely on Him like a father etc.

Well, today I was thinking, what if we treated God the same way we did the love of our lives? We say we love Him right? When you're in love with someone don't you call them everyday for no reason other than to say hi? Don't you tell them how you feel? Aren't you concerned about how your actions will make them feel? Don't you try to do things to keep your relationship fresh? And doesn't it pain you to realize that the relationship is going badly; I'm sure you'd do anything you could to fix it right?

So how about we start treating our relationship with God like that? How about we make talking to him daily our number one priority? How about we not only tell him how much we really love him, but show him also by doing the things that please him?  How about we keep our relationship fresh by trying to learn something new about Him as often as we can? How about we spend time in his presence just "chilling" with Him, instead of asking for something every time you meet with Him?

Isn't that what a REAL relationship is about; cherishing the person you love and the moments you spend with Him? Doing the things that pleases Him? If you notice that your relationship may be dying then do what you must to rekindle it.

If you love your God, then show it! Love on your God! Wake up each day and tell Him how you really feel about Him before you even think of asking for anything. Show Him that you care by following his commandments and His directions for your life. Maintain your relationship, don't let God do all the talking, the seeking and the loving. Pull away from the daily hubbub of your life and just "be" with Him.


Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

True Joy transcends your circumstances!

There's a difference between Joy and happiness and its a pretty big difference. Nehemiah instructed the people of Jerusalem, "Don't be dejected and sad because the joy of the Lord is your strength." I believe that you can be joyful even when you are not happy with a  situation.

Real joy does not rely on the circumstances around you the way happiness does.  You are happy on your wedding day or on the day your child is born. You will not be happy if you lose your job. Happiness requires that things go right around you. As a Christian, if you haven't found out yet, you will find out soon, that things don't always go the way we want it to. The enemy is seeking every opportunity he can to sabotage our plans and God's plan for us.

So how then can we be joyful? True joy comes from God. Knowing that He loves us and that He's got our backs is an amazing thing. True joy transcends our circumstances. True joy allows us to keep walking forward when your circumstances dictate that you sit down. True joy comes from a spirit that knows that God is still in control so it isn't affected by our situations.

True joy comes from God, happiness comes from earthly pleasures.

Today you can smile even when things aren't going right because you know that God has got your back. His joy is your strength and will propeller you forward.


Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Trusting God with your Future

Until very recently, it was hard for me to let go of my plans for myself and for my future. It wasn't that I didn't trust God to take care of me, but not knowing EXACTLY how things were going to turn out and what direction we would be going in was killing me.

You see, like a lot of Christians, I wanted to trust God on my terms. I wanted to provide the road map and simply instruct God to make it work. But guess what, it doesn't work that way. God doesn't work according to our plans, He works only on His terms. Why does He work like that? Because He has the BIG picture. You see, God knows what lies ahead for us at every turn in the road. He knows when the devil is going to attack, why and how. So don't you think it is a good idea to trust the person with all that knowledge.

This is probably my third post on trust, simply because it is a huge issue for me and I know, a huge issue for a lot of other Christians. I'm going through a very difficult time right now and through most of it, I've managed to keep a smile on my face. Yesterday, somebody looked at me thoughtfully and told me "You know, you're a very strong person." I simply smiled without responding because I know how much I cry and scream at night when there's no one around. I know how much I yell at God for not allowing things to work out my way. But I'm still smiling right? Why? Because through everything, even though things are not working out exactly as I want them to, God holds my future in His hands, and I've finally figured out the secret, His plans for my future are excellent, even though I don't know exactly what they are.

I've found new meaning in the phrase, "The joy of the Lord is my strength" because the smile on my face is God's response to my prayers. I can smile genuinely and be joyful even when I am not happy and that's what keeps me sane. That's what keeps me able to function when my world seems to be falling apart. There are some things as a Christian that you'll never really understand until you experience it and for me, this was one of them.

So, I've finally learnt to trust God with my future, and daily, when I'm tempted to scream at God, I'm reminded, "Trust me with you Future". It's a giant step but it really helped to know that the master of the universe is interested in what you're going to eat tomorrow.

Through trials and adversities, if we learn to stand still a moment knowing that our God is awesome and interested in us, we could learn to trust his plans for our future, we could learn to lean on Him and not worry so much. We could learn to smile when we've lost our jobs, our hope and maybe even a little faith, not because we're happy but because we've got a joy that will never go away.

Trust God with your future, His plans are perfect and will work if you don't interfere.

When the oceans rise and thunders roar,
He will soar with you above the storm.
Be still, know that he is God!

Trust God with your future! (Jeremiah 29:11)

This devotion and others like it can be found in one book (kindle or paperback)
To purchase, simply click the link below.

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Finding Romeo - FREE

We spent five Mondays examining the issues dealt with in the book "Finding Romeo" and I'm sure that those who followed the discussions will agree that they were five interesting topics. Some of them are topics that many Christians shy away from but that's the point of "Finding Romeo." A lot of Christian authors shy away from certain issues that are a reality in our world, trying not to offend others and scare away readers, but I think it's time that some things are dealt with the same way that we live through them.

Today is a good day to walk down memory lane with me and revisit some of the discussions. It's not too late to add your own views and Today you have a unique opportunity. If you have a Kindle, then Finding Romeo is FREE! For today and tomorrow ONLY, as in, it will not be free on Kindle again in the foreseeable future.

Grab a copy of the book and join in the discussions. Let me know what you think about Daynia and Richard and the complexities of their tumultuous romance.

Here are the discussions, be blessed and let us know what you think.

Now, before the fun's over, head on over to Amazon and beef up your kindle with a free copy of "Finding Romeo"

Lies, betrayal and deceit. That’s what Daynia gets when all she really wants is her Romeo, someone to save her from the dead end she calls her life. When Richard rides in, she’s convinced that he’s the one and latches on, hanging on to him for dear life. If only…

Richard is haunted by his own past and finds Daynia to be a welcomed distraction. When ex-girlfriend Kayla returns to claim her beau, Richard is left with a decision that he is unwilling to make.

How much is a girl willing to take before she realizes that her dream Romeo is really a nightmare?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Are you an Ungrateful Human?

So yesterday morning I was getting ready for church and I was doing something I always do, praying under my breath whilst doing something else. I was praying about a particular situation that has been haunting me for a little while - hence the reason I was praying whilst dressing. Anyways, in the middle of my muttered prayer a thought hit me quite suddenly - Human beings are the most ungrateful creatures on the planet!

What? Where did that come from? Well, listen to this. If you were walking along the road and stopped at an intersection to cross, you look both ways and it's clear so you decide to cross. Just as you step onto the roadway, a car comes barrelling around the corner about to hit you. Out of the blue, a total stranger jumps out into the street and pulls you away from the oncoming vehicle, saving your life. You are so stunned and elated that you can't stop saying thank you. The stranger is bashful and thinks nothing of his act, after all, you're another human being and as far as he sees it, he just couldn't let you die. But here's the twist, would you after being so thankful to this stranger for saving your life, now turn around and tell him, "hey, I'm hungry aren't you going to feed me?" There's no way you'd do that right? I mean that man saved your life, at this point you need nothing else from him in order to be thankful right?

Newsflash, we do that to God every single day. He saved us, he's clothed us and fed us, but instead of being satisfied with the last thing he did for us, we ask for more, and more and more. "Hey God, what about the mortgage?" As soon as he's done that we yell, "Hey God, how come you didn't take care of my student loans too?"

Now don't get me wrong, the Bible clearly tells us that God will supply ALL of our needs. However, in a lot of cases we have lost focus on the real relationship with God. That relationship is not about how many bills he can clear for us or anything else of that sort. It's based purely on his love for us. As a matter of fact, without his love, we simply wouldn't exist. His love was most evident when he saved us from eternal death. He's the stranger who walked into the path of the oncoming vehicle just to pull us out of the way and we're grateful for all of two seconds before we bring the next request to Him.

My encouragement to us all today is to concentrate on being thankful to God a little bit more. He knows about the rent and the bills and the job that we so desperately need, but guess what, you're still standing, so that means that he's always been on the job, keeping you alive, so say thank you for that. Instead of bombarding him with requests, build a relationship, a real one, one that involves getting to know him. He knows your heart and by sheer virtue of your tight relationship with him, he'll provide your NEEDS. It doesn't mean that you don't have to ask, because the Bible does say to "Ask and it shall be given unto you" (Matt 7:7) but it also says:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo