Tag Archives: New Year

A New Year full of HOPE!

Yes! The lovingkindness and compassion from our Creator never cease and never fail!

Let us give thanks to the LORD for all His blessings throughout 2018, but also let us give thanks for all the challenges and difficult moments that we experienced, those were opportunities to grow and to understand that there is HOPE ahead, because God is certainly the source of HOPE!

And if you do not know God personally yet; this is a perfect time to open and give your heart to the lover of your soul, Jesus, the only true God and Savior. God is indeed your Creator but He also wants to be your Father. He sent His only Son, Jesus to offer Himself in perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. When we were lost in our sin, God thought of us, and gave us hope by sending His Son to died on a cross to pay for our sin and to give us HOPE for a new life. God wants to embrace us as a loving father embrace and protect his little child, as His Word clearly says:

“and I [Jesus] give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me [Jesus], is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I [Jesus] and the Father [The Creator] are one.” (John 10:28-30)

Today could be the day of  your salvation!
If you want to learn more, contact us at Towards Excellence.

A Blessed Christmas and an Extraordinary New Year!

Matthew 2:5-12  (ESV)

5 They [the wise men] told him [Herod], “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

 

 

111 – Preprayer for the NEW YEAR

By Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz

Let us join Anne…Preprayer for the New Year!  Let us intercede for our nations, families and ourselves!

* Please click here  to listen to Anne pray this prayer.

*****

The unmistakable sound of the Shofar could be heard coming from the wall surrounding Jerusalem, echoing across the sun-scorched valley. The blowing of the trumpet heralded great public distress and was used to summon the people. It was the first century B.C. and a severe drought was threatening the very existence of the city. So the city elders called for the people to gather outside the city walls. Then they sent for Honi.

Honi was an old man who, after this day, became known as the Circle-Drawer. Because when he was summoned, the elders asked him, “Pray that rain may fall.” Honi prayed, but nothing happened. So he drew a circle around himself in the dust of the ground, and prayed again, “O Lord of the world, Your children have turned their faces to me… I swear by Your great name that I will not stir from here until You have pity on Your children.”

The rain began to fall, one large drop at a time. But Honi protested, “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill the cisterns, pits, and caverns.”

In answer to his prayer, the heavens opened and the waters descended in a violent gully-washer that threatened to flood the city. So once again, Honi pleaded, “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of goodwill, blessing and graciousness.” It is said, and recorded by the Jewish historian, Josephus, that in response to Honi’s third prayer, a long, soaking rain began to fall that ended the three-year drought. [1] Honi had prevailed in prayer.[2]

As I look ahead into 2016, I feel compelled to draw a circle around this city, this state, this nation… and pray! Until God answers. Do the same. Please. On this first day of the New Year, draw your own circle. Then pray for everything that’s inside of it.

…Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate… Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing. Joel 2:13-14

O God of creation. We bow before You acknowledging Your greatness and Your glory. No one compares FB_IMG_1451701190863to You. No one is Your equal. We look at Your creation and marvel at the infinite power and wisdom that are Yours. Nothing is beyond Your reach. “You bring out all the starry host one by one, and call them each by name. Because of Your great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing…You pitch a tent for the sun…It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat…Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.” [3] There is nowhere in all the Universe where You are not. Surely Your arm “…is not too short to save, nor [Your] ear too dull to hear.”[4]

I acknowledge You as ___________________

Yet we honestly confess: when terrorists randomly kill; when women and children detonate themselves as suicide bombers; when innocent people are grabbed from behind and stabbed in the back; when floods, tornadoes, and storms ravage our land; when our national leaders don’t lead; when our business leaders lie; when our political leaders put their own interests before the people’s; when our spiritual leaders contradict Your Word; when our social leaders divide; when our allies become our enemies and our enemies become our allies…what’s going on? Where are You?

We are tempted to think You are…
Distracted…disengaged…disinterested,
Inattentive…inactive…impotent,
Out-maneuvered…out-moded…out-classed,
Unable…unaffected…and even unaware…
of our fear… our helplessness…our confusion…our outrage. Why do You seem so small while our problems, disasters, and enemies seem so large?

Why ___________________?

Help us to regain our focus.

God of our fathers. Lord of the nations. You are the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. No one can understand Your ways. But we turn to You. We return to You. Now. “Are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You.”[5]

Did we not establish our nation as one under God? Have we not pledged, “In God We Trust”? But now we find ourselves constantly bombarded with the shrill voices of those who demand we distance ourselves from You; that You are just one of many gods, if You are a god at all; that we cannot risk offending each other by calling on Your name. We hear the enemy insinuating that You are “not fixing this” because You can’t fix this. Our faith is being assaulted.

And so our spirits rise up within us and throw off the smothering cloak of spiritual oppression and political correctness. We shout Your Name. You are Yahweh. Jehovah–the personal God. The great I AM–the eternal God. The All-mighty–the Powerful God. You are Jesus. Savior. Immanuel. God with us, never to leave or forsake us. Your power has not been diluted or depleted over the ages. You are just as powerful…just as much in authority…as You were in Creation; in the deliverance of Your people from Egypt and in the parting of the Red Sea. You are the One who sends down the fire.[6] Who fells the giants.[7] Who makes wars to cease.[8] Who raises the dead![9]

I shout Your name: ___________________

As we look ahead into the New Year, we choose to place our trust in You. If “…the kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord,”[10] we trust in You. If “…the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging,”[11] we trust in You. Though …”nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall…,”[12] we trust in You. When …”the wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright…,[13]” we trust in You. We trust You. We trust You!

I trust You when ___________________
I trust You for ___________________

We are told that we can worship You in our own churches, but we cannot bring You into the marketplace or the workplace; into the State House or the school house; onto the battlefield or the football field; into the courtroom or the back room or the bedroom. As though the God of gods can be contained, boxed in, restricted, bound, hidden. We laugh at such foolishness and exalt You as the Most High God who strides the winds of the earth. The clouds are the dust of Your feet.[14] The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain You.[15] How much less any local church building. We invite You to have Your way in our lives. In our state. In our nation. Within our circle.

I invite You into my ___________________

Now arise, O Lord God. Look on us, Your people who are called by Your name. Listen to us, as we cry out to You on behalf of our nation. Do not reject us. Have pity on us.

We feel the encroaching evil. Darkness and gloom are descending. Those who hate us are infiltrating us. Those who are dedicated to destroying us are all around us. Are You at the head of this army? Is this the beginning of the Day of the Lord? Have we tried Your patience and crossed the line into Your judgment? Are You holding us accountable for our sin and rebellion and defiance, for our profanity and blasphemy and idolatry? “You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before You when You are angry?”[16] Are You?

Most Holy God. As we draw a circle around ourselves, we want to make everything right with You within that circle. So we confess our sin. You are righteous. We are not. You always do the right thing. We have done wrong. We are covered with shame because we know better. We have had generations of blessing and prosperity, yet we have refused to thank You, and instead give ourselves credit for what has come from Your hand. We have agreed with those who contradict Your Word. We have turned away from Your truth, and believed lies. We have treated life casually. We have destroyed our environment selfishly. We have passed by the needy uncaringly. We have demanded entitlements defiantly. We have not listened to those who have warned us of the consequences of drifting from You.

I confess my sin of ___________________
I will stop ___________________
I will turn away from ___________________
Thank You for forgiving and cleansing me of ___________________

And now, as we look into 2016, we come face to face with a mess. What can be done to save us from ourselves? Even as the question reverberates in our minds, the answer is given: the solution to our spiritual and moral meltdown—to the restoration of the crumbling foundation of our nation—is not politics, nor the economy, nor health care, nor welfare or immigration reforms, nor free higher education, nor the court system, nor corporate or Wall Street regulation. You are the Answer. You are the Solution. Yet instead of turning to You, we seem to be turning farther and farther away from You. But not now. Now we turn back. We turn around. We re-turn to You. We run to You. We cling to You. We plead with You…

Turn to us! Draw near to us![17] If You do not help us, we will be defenseless. If You do not protect us, we will be exposed to danger. If You do not deliver us from evil, we will be overcome by it. If You do not have plans to give us hope and a future, we will slide into the past tense as a nation.[18] Into oblivion.

Father of all mercies. You have said that our land is a land that You, the Lord our God, cares for; that Your eyes are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.[19] As You look on our nation from this day forward, from January 1st to December 31st, 2016, we ask for what we know we don’t deserve. We ask for Your blessing. Please…

  • Bless our national and local elections. Raise up men and women who will lead us back to you. Raise up another Asa, who was fully committed to the Lord all his life.[20] Raise up another Jehoshaphat who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.[21] Raise up another Josiah who renewed the covenant of his people with You—“to follow the Lord and keep His commands.”[22] Raise up leaders of moral and spiritual integrity who have a strong faith and a healthy reverence for You and therefore the wisdom to make right decisions. Put Your choice in the Oval Office.
  • Bless our homeland security teams. Give them eyes to see the bad guys, ears to hear the evil chatter, minds to understand the tweets and codes, and the will to act before the enemy does. Protect us from evil.
  • Bless our policemen and firemen, our armed forces and border patrol—all those who risk their lives to keep us safe. Restore to them the respect they deserve. Protect their lives and their families. Bring to the light of justice any corruption and abuse so that we can trust those in uniform. Guard those who guard us.
  • Bless our judges and prosecutors. Cause them to serve faithfully and wholeheartedly, remembering that they are accountable to You.[23] Punish those who do wrong. Encourage those who do right.
  • Bless my ___________________

You are the Fountainhead from whom all blessings flow. The list of our needs and our requests is endless. Please. Bless our doctors. Our lawyers. Our bankers. Our teachers. Our commissioners. Our farmers.

  • Bless our preachers, Bible teachers, and seminary professors. Like Ezra of old, stir their hearts to be devoted to You first, then to the study and the preaching of Your Word.[24] When they preach or teach, compel them to preach the Word, not books about the Word. Motivate them with holy fear of standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account for the way they have impacted others by their words and by their deeds. Remove those whose lives are out of sync with their lips. Raise up a generation of spiritual leaders that You approve of as workmen who do not need to be ashamed because they correctly handle the word of truth. [25] Fill them to overflowing with Your Spirit.
  • Bless our families. The unloving spirits of infidelity, dishonesty, treachery, hypocrisy, immorality, pornography, and adultery are sweeping through our homes. The enemy seems to be attacking us on every level, on every front. A vast army of evil seems to have been unleashed against the home. Especially the homes and families of Christ-followers. “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”[26] We plead for Your divine protection. We plead for Your divine wisdom to counter the attacks so that our families are strengthened in their relationship with You. Be the center of our homes.
  • Lord of love, we pray for You to bless our enemies. Yes, we do. Open their ears to the Truth. Open their minds to understand the Gospel. Open their hearts to long for Your love. Draw them to Yourself as moths are drawn to a flame. Your Light is stronger than their darkness. Bring them into the Light. Save them for all eternity. BUT if they reject You, we ask that You turn them on each other. Distract them. Destroy them. Prevent them from continuing to attack and persecute the righteous.
  • Lastly, O God our Father, bless us. Bless me. Make me into a vessel of honor, an instrument “…for noble purposes, made holy, useful to our Master and prepared to do any good work.”[27] I know the night is coming when work for You will cease.[28] Help me to redeem the time. Use me now for Your Kingdom and Your glory. Open my lips to boldly and fearlessly make known the Gospel:[29] the Good News of redemption for the past…hope for the future… joy for the present regardless of circumstances… love that is unconditional, boundless, and eternal[30]…found at the Cross. Open my lips to just give Jesus to a world that is increasingly desperate. Use me as an ambassador of peace on earth by first leading people into a right relationship with You, then with each other. When the world around me unravels, help me to stand strong on my faith in You. And when people see me standing strong, help them to see You.
  • Bless me.

Make me into ___________________
Help me to ___________________
Use me for ___________________

And now, God of grace, as we preprayer for the New Year, we ask bottom-line that You fill our circles with Your glory. Send down Your Holy Spirit in fullness. Ignite the fire of revival in our own hearts. Protect us. Defend us. Comfort us. Empower us. Equip us as we put on the full armor of God so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes…so that when the day of evil comes, we may be able to stand our ground…taking up the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God…and pray. With this in mind, we remain self-controlled and alert while we keep on praying until we prevail in prayer.[31] And we keep on watching expectantly. Is 2016 the year of Your return? We hope so! Come Lord Jesus…[32]

For the glory of Your name…

Amen.

* Please click here  to view the PDF version of this prayer.

**********

[1] I first read the story of Honi in the introduction to Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker. The account I’ve shared in this book is based on the writings of Josephus, a first-century scholar and very credible historian who was born in Jerusalem shortly after the first coming of Jesus Christ. His writings are held in high regard, and have been used by the secular world as the primary source for both Jewish and Christian history.
[2] Taken from The Daniel Prayer; Chapter 7; Anne Graham Lotz; by permission Zondervan Publishing; May 2016
[3] Isaiah 40:25-26, Psalm 19:4, 6; 139:7-8
[4] Isaiah 59:1
[5] 2 Chronicles 20:6
[6] 2 Chronicles 7:1
[7] 1 Samuel 17:1-50
[8] Psalm 46:9
[9] 2 Kings 4:1-37; Luke 7:11-16; 8:40-42, 49-56; Ephesians 1:17-21
[10] Psalm 2:2
[11] Psalm 46:2-3
[12] Psalm 46:6
[13] Psalm 37:14
[14] Nahum 1:3
[15] 2 Chronicles 6:18
[16] Psalm 76:7
[17] James 4:8
[18] Jeremiah 29:11-13
[19] Deuteronomy 11:12
[20] 2 Chronicles 15:1-17
[21] 2 Chronicles 19:4-20:32
[22] 2 Chronicles 34:1-33
[23] 2 Chronicles 19:8-11
[24] Ezra 7:10
[25] 2 Timothy 2:15; 4:1-2
[26] 2 Chronicles 20:12
[27] 2 Timothy 2:21
[28] John 9:4
[29] Ephesians 6:19
[30] Ephesians 3:14-19
[31] Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Peter 4:7
[32] Revelation 22:20

Copyright © 2016 Anne Graham Lotz (AnGeL Ministries) Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved http://www.annegrahamlotz.org

Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, ´God with us´.”

(Matthew 1:23)

Season´s Greetings from Towards Excellence!

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

What Happens when the Lights Go out?

A couple weeks ago, because of the work I do in communications, I visited a public school in a marginal urban sector of a city on the coast of my country.

I had the opportunity to have a brief time of sharing with a group of little boys and girls, about 30 of them. They were all friendly and playful. Some had mischievous looks about them and others a look of total innocence. But there were a few who couldn’t hide deep anguish and their faces reflected frustration, annoyance and sadness in spite of their young age. When our work and interaction with these little ones finished, on a more informal note I decided to ask them, “What do we celebrate at Christmas?” Can you imagine their answers? Well, here are a few:

– “It’s a party time!”
– “Santa comes at Christmas!”
– “Christmas is happiness!”
– “We get gifts!”
– “It’s Santa Claus’ party!”

When I was about to give up waiting for another kind of answer, one little girl shyly raised her hand and said, “We celebrate the Baby Jesus at Christmas.”

And now as the year is almost at its end, our city is clad in lights and expensive decorations. People are out shopping, preparing big dinners, hiding gifts under the Christmas tree and telling the little ones they must be good so Santa Claus will bring them Christmas presents.

Now it’s not a bad thing to dress up for a party, to share special food with family and friends or to take part in a wholesome celebration –there’s nothing really bad about any of that.  What is really sad is that during this special time of the year, “everybody gets crazy,” as I heard someone say. Traffic is terrible, stores stay open long hours and it seems they aren’t able to accommodate so many people, and social obligations pile up. It seems that all the stress of an entire year accumulates into just two days while people search for the “right gift” for each obligation.

Sadly enough, these little children only about 7 years old that I had the opportunity to meet just recently are the clear reflection of our society. For them, Christmas is a time of lights, decorations, gifts and a fantastic story that with a little luck might come true for them.

Only one in a group of thirty seemed to have a slight idea of the true meaning of Christmas. One in thirty seemed to understand that the “best gift” a person can give a loved one –or even themselves- is “Jesus,” who more than two thousand years ago came to this world as a sweet baby. Yes, Emmanuel  -God with us- came with the only purpose of giving His life as a sacrifice for humankind, for those of us who have faith to believe at least three important things:

– That we are sinners. That there is not even one righteous person in this world.
– That we can do absolutely nothing for ourselves to cleanse our sin. Not even the best works can wipe away the smallest or most hidden sin we have.
– That only the precious blood of Jesus Christ poured out in sacrifice on the cross can cleanse us of all evil and all sin.

This is possible if we have faith to open our heart to Jesus, the only true God, and invite Him to be the Savior and Lord of our lives.

When the lights go out after the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations and all the nonsense begins to return to normal and people have to begin to worry about the oversized debts they have acquired during this season and get back to the normal stress of daily life, there is one light that will stay on throughout the year. Just one single light that will shine in the darkness. Just one single light that will glow in the darkness of society’s stress, suffering, fear, weariness, hatred, frustration and loneliness. Just one single light… That light has been, is and will be Jesus Christ, who said of Himself,

“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”  (John 8:12)

Do you want to walk in the light in 2014? I urge you to do so, to choose to walk in the light. Choose to turn off the artificial lights of vain celebrations and trivialities and decide for Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. Putting Jesus in charge of your life is the best and most important decision you can make. When you decide for Christ, His light will wash the darkness from your life and the radiance of the all-powerful God will light your path during this New Year.

May Jesus Christ, the Giver of Life and the Light of the World shine on you during 2014!

Towards Excellence recommends the following link if you want to know more about Jesus, the Light of the World:  http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/