Archive for Uncategorized

Series Speak By Your Acts, Not With Your Mouth Part 3

Part 3: Are You Willing to Take a Stand?

As I stated in my last blog, we all have choices to make in this life. It was never guaranteed that it would be stress free or without trials. I like the fact that we are given a choice. I do not relish the idea of a trial, but if it would lead me to make better decisions and use of wisdom, then I say, “let’s do it.”  I want to remove the dross from my life that has weighed me down and hindered my relationship with God. Trials are not meant to be easy.

  • They can be a result of temptation that you surrendered to and now suffer the consequences. An example I found within myself   Out of this trial, I saw how I caused my pain because my pride refused to listen and apply the wisdom offered. I wanted to punish myself for past mistakes and I chose something I already was very fond of to do so. My lack of listening caused me to continue in my sin and to experience the consequences of not listening. My weakness was food. I loved it and I never objected to eating anything I wanted. I used it to comfort me during the loss of a family member and soon it became an obsession for me. I naively, I suspect arrogantly, dismissed the advice, and said I have it handled. Yes, I had it handled if no control was the goal, if medical visit one after the other was the price…sorry for the sarcasm. I had spent a great deal of the rest of my life fighting this and falling every time. All because I refused to listen. It was only God’s mercy that got through to me.
  • They also can be a learning lesson that tests your faith. The Holy Spirit can convict you in one area of your life in which a flaw has to be addressed and corrected. Remember that in the end we want to grow more Christ-like. We need to ask for understanding and see where it is He is leading us or asking of us. We need strengthening in a certain aspect of our life that is essential for what we have been called for. The trial is worth learning the lesson!
  • We may need an attitude adjustment. The reason the Road Not Taken (a fabulous poem by Robert Frost) is because we fear that road and its restrictions. We may need to learn self-discipline or self-control. During the trial it may seem (due to our lack of all the information/comprehension), the road is too long and too hard to endure. We give in to sin or give up because of that. Honestly, most people crave the road of least resistance, but there is always a purpose to fight that. We need to be positive and trust God. He devised the plan for each of us and we need to obey and walk in faith to accomplish it.

Anything that brings us closer to God is always worth it! Our faith is vital in our relationship with God. Mountains cannot be moved without it. What if Abraham refused to offer Isaac as a sacrifice as asked? What if Joseph broke away from his brothers and managed to escape the chains of slavery because he would not be subjected to that? What if Israel because of Joseph’s rebellion had no way to receive food during a famine? They walked on faith and took the risk. They were rewarded with righteousness for their faith and obedience. When we look at just the obstacles that can overcome us, we shrivel up and walk away, but few walk on faith and continue forward. God’s might is with them and sustains them.

Now the question I beg to ask is where do you stand? Are you willing to risk your life and run for the right cause or are you running away to save your earthly vessel? Only you can answer that. Only you can determine if you have the courage to face the situation whatever it may be.

Wars have been fought and won because men chose to honor God and obey and not run away. Our current military and our veterans risked their life to save our country, not their own neck. Look at how the apostles lived and died. Some were beheaded, crucified upside down and were beaten to death like James. James even prayed as he was dying for those that were attacking him. Does this remind you of someone much greater who prayed and said to forgive them for they know not what they do?

I apologize because I do not want to sound like I am preaching, for I do not have that gift. However, what will it take for us to commit to Christ? I personally do not desire to be complacent and avoid the issue at hand. I by no means have courage, but my whole being is calling me to rise up and to take a stand. I am at the point that if I must do so alone, then I must. My relationship with God is the stronger desire. You have a choice.

So, what do we do?

  • I would start out by praying and asking for assistance.
  • Pour out your heart to God.
  • Ask for more discernment and wisdom to determine if this is where you are being led.
  • Fast with fervent prayer.

I know man is impatient in nature. I understand that, but here when we desire a strong need to have an answer immediately, we need to up the ante. Go to your war room and think about this. Set up a plan to fast and include prayer. Have a set time to do this and stick to it. An answer will come one way or another. When God sees our desire to be faithful and the urgency of our prayer is made known, only then will He hear us and answer us.

Sometimes we “jump the gun” so to speak and make a decision that way. Our timing is off or something else needs to be answered that helps us with this request. Do not give up, continue, and pray fervently. He does answer.

Ponder the following verses about God’s understand and His knowledge of the intent of our hearts to determine where you are in your walk for Christ and if you are ready to go that next step. Look at Jeremiah 17: 9-10; Romans 8:27, Proverbs 3:5-6 and 1 Timothy 1:5.

Jeremiah 17: 9-10

            “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”

Romans 8:27

            “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

            “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

1 Timothy 1:5

            Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:”

It all boils down to what are you willing to do for God? Whom do you serve? Once we can tear these questions apart and digest the meaty aspects of them, we can get resolution. We need to decide if we really want to pick up our cross and follow. Focus on your intent and then take action. I hope this series has helped you. Take care and God bless!

Speak By Your Acts, Not With Your Mouth Part 2

Are You Willing to Accept This Gift and Do His Will?

My last blog looked at the story of salvation through the lens of the sacrifice of Jesus as told through the gospels. My question is how we process this and follow this request. We need to understand what a sacrifice means. According to Oxford Dictionary Sacrifice is defined as “surrendering a possession as an offering to God.”

We must then ask ourselves what are we willing to sacrifice to honor God? Are we willing to give our time, devotion/service to the Lord? Are we willing to go into unfamiliar territory to do so? What exactly does it mean to pick up your cross daily to follow Him? I believe this centers around our choice. We are placed with a short span of time to make choices that affect and shape our relationship with God. Are you willing to be a missionary if you are called to do so? Can man change his normal habits to reflect and honor God?

It boils down to this:  Do we profess to love and honor God, but we refuse to take a stand or voice that love? Is our commitment coming from our heart or is it coming only from our mouth? Do not be reluctant to share everything with God. Importance of fellowship is key with God.

Unfortunately, we have many who profess (for whatever agenda they have deemed to stand upon) but have no desire or intention to progress further and grow fruit from their actions. Why do we fail to follow through on this request?  Do we want to be like the Pharisees and appear to be for God, but refuse to live it out in our lives? Sadly, our relationship is what we put into it, and we reap whatever we sow or refuse to sow.  Are we refusing this precious gift of grace?

Right now, we are at a crucial point in time, and many are still sitting on the bench and watching it unfold instead of standing up and doing something. Are we willing to pick up our cross and follow faithfully or is that asking too much, and we bide our time by not getting involved? Are we striving to take the safe route with little or no risk or are we willing to risk all we have to follow Christ?

Before I delve into this further, I want to stress the importance of fellowship with one another. Again, I rely on the definition from the Oxford Dictionary, fellowship means “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests.”  When we gather to meet with our fellow brothers and sisters for the sole purpose of honoring and worshiping our Lord, we rely on the strength of fellowship. I look at fellowship as a reinforcement of our beliefs toward God. We are to be present as the whole body of the church, and comfort or encourage whenever it is needed. We are to warn one another of the dangers of falling and we are to gather and pull together to strengthen our resolve and relationship with God.

Here are some bible verses we can meditate on that define the importance of fellowship. It is more than going to a building and praising God. It is necessary for the remnant to do so and stay connected with one another.

Hebrews 10:23-25

                “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

1 Corinthians 1:9

            “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Acts 2:42

            “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Thus, true fellowship is considered a community in which everyone is treated with equity. We can serve in fellowship in a multitude of ways, but they must all be in servitude and praise to the Triune God. What does fellowship look like?

In Darcy Reimer’s blog (https://www.intheriver.ca/blog/9-characteristics-of-biblical-fellowship) she describes nine characteristics of fellowship.

  • Authenticity which is expressed by sharing our true feelings.
  • Mutuality is obtained by encouraging one another.
  • Empathy is displayed by supporting each other (the best way to support one another is by remaining in the truth).
  • Mercy is when we forgive one another.
  • Honesty is when we speak the truth in love!
  • Humility is when we can admit our weaknesses to one another.
  • Courtesy is when we respect our differences.
  • Confidentiality is when we do not gossip. Some may think that it is okay to share one’s confidence with fellow believers. We need to honor their confidentiality, but if the issue is a dangerous topic or leads one to veer off the path, we need to ask if we may share our concern with an elder or a pastor first.
  • Frequency is when we make the group a priority.

Look at the importance of this message by meditating on the following verses and then applying wisdom.

1 John 1:3 (focus on the Triune God)

            “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

1 John 1:7

            “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Leviticus 26:12 (fulfillment of the promise)

            And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”

2 Corinthians 13:14 (focuses on the Holy Spirit)

                        “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”

Once we can see the importance of fellowship, we must then focus on the sacrifice we all must make if we want to follow Jesus. Again, your sacrifice can range from servitude at your church, forfeiting the necessary time each day to dedicate it to the Word. getting involved in your community, following a cause to help those in need are just some examples.  We need to focus on the person (Jesus) and do the work he asks of us. Some choices may be easier than others. Some may require more sacrifice, and some can ask you to make the hard choice.

Pick up your cross and follow means that we are to be obedient to God. We follow wherever He asks us to go or do whatever He asks of us. We do not cherry pick, but faithfully follow despite the obstacles or interference in our way. The good news is that He has equipped us with the necessary skills that we need to do His will.

In my next blog I want to explore what sacrifice really is and how we need to apply it to our everyday life. My emphasis will be on our choice to stand up or remain silent.  Take care and God bless!

Series on Speak By Your Acts, Not With Your Mouth

Part One

The Gift of Salvation

What does a relationship mean to you? Is it one-sided or a mutual love and respect for the other parties involved? Why do so many claim to have a personal connection with our Lord, yet fail to commit to that relationship? Is it mere profession for an unknown or hidden agenda or is it coming straight from our hearts? We will look at all of this and so much more, but before I delve deeper into this, I wanted to share with you the reader about a gift we neither earned nor deserved, but were extended grace, nonetheless.

We begin by remembering the greatest love story of all time. A love so deep that could not be achieved without the hand of God. It is more than the sacrifice one made for atonement. It is the sending of a Savior to save the world and to reconcile us with God. Walk with me for a moment and remember…

Last month we celebrated Resurrection Day in which our Lord and Savior Jesus rose from the dead. He paid the ultimate price when He sacrificed His life so that we could be reconciled to God. I put a lot of value into Holy Week each year. I take each day and reminisce about what happened over two thousand years ago. The timeline of events for Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. I am ecstatic when Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but sad to say this was to fulfill prophecy and the joy would soon diminish. I can just imagine the enthusiasm of the crowd as they toss their coats over the colt that He rides upon on the path honoring His arrival into the great city. Everyone is overjoyed that he has arrived. The week starts off so promising and yet darkness will soon make an appearance that will casts a shadow over the remaining days of the week   By Monday one can see His righteous anger on display when he overturns the tables on the moneymakers in the temple. Men who were determined to make a profit and forgo the respect of Our Father’s House. Jesus is bold and calls them out on their hypocrisy. Tuesday starts off with Jesus going to the Mount of Olives to pray. Jesus passes by a withered fig tree which produces no fruit, and He speaks to the disciples about the importance of faith. Faith without works is indeed dead! He begins the Discourses at the Mount and foretells the destruction of Jerusalem and end of the age. He does this through parables and symbolic language/signs about end times events which include His second coming and the final judgment. Meanwhile the chief priests and elders were challenging His authority. They plotted to arrest Him and sought after someone to lead them to him. Judas, one of his disciples, sold his soul to them for the price of thirty pieces of silver. By Thursday He asks several disciples to go to the owner of the inn and to prepare the room for the Passover dinner. A somber turn in events is revealed. Several lessons are learned during that dinner. Jesus begins by washing the feet of His disciples. He shows through this humble act of service, how believers should love and treat one another. The feast begins and it was here that Jesus would fulfill the meaning of Passover by sacrificing his body and blood. He foreshadows his death and mentions again the sacrifice that will be made. He states that someone will betray him this night. As they looked around at each other the lessons were just beginning. It was here that He began the Lord’s Supper and instructed them as to what this meant. The body would be broken, and the blood would be shed for the ultimate sacrifice. The Lord’s Supper represents to us the followers to do this act of faith in remembrance of Him and His sacrifice. As they shared bread amongst themselves, Jesus foretold that the bread represented His body that was to be sacrificed. As He passed the glass of wine around and asked them to sip it for it will represent the shedding of His blood for us. He then said He would not partake of this again until He returns for His church. Confused and not understanding the full meaning of this sacrifice, they partook in this supper. He also called Peter out who stated that he would never leave Christ but Jesus stated that Satan was fighting hard for Peter. He told Peter before the rooster crows thrice he would have denied Jesus three times. He begins the night with some powerful lessons for them to remember and the foretelling of the fulfillment of prophecy.

After the meal they left to go to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that Jesus prayed so hard to God the Father so fervently that his sweat became like blood drops. Later that night Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss to signal the Sanhedrin whom to arrest. The night gets much worse. Caiaphas (the High Priest) and the Sanhedrin question Him intensely – trying to hold His words against him. Peter during this time denies Jesus thrice and the rooster crows. He weeps at when he realizes that he denied Christ.. Pilate questions Jesus and though he finds no reason for his death, he washes his hands of the matter and obliges the people who were calling for His crucifixion.

The gloomy Friday approaches and Jesus endures so much pain. The crowd was incited to turn against him and call for his death. He was scorned, mocked, beaten, falsely accused, and abandoned by the people. After the trials he was sentenced to death by one of the most horrible methods at the time. At the cross soldiers spit on him, cast lots for his clothes, and pierced his head with a crown of thorns. To add insult to injury they had Jesus even carry His own cross until he was unable to do so and then they had Simon from Cyrene finish the long journey by carrying the cross for him. At Calvary they nailed our King to the cross. They offered him gall when he was thirsty and continued to taunt him and even utter for him to save himself if He was the Son of God as he claimed. Yet Jesus, turned the other cheek and asked God to forgive them for they knew not what they did. He committed His spirit into God’s hands, breathed His last breath and then died. To make sure that he was dead they pierced his side and the blood and water emptied out.

Joseph of Arimathea took the body down and placed Jesus into the tomb he purchased for His body. Guards were set in front of the tomb and the day of preparation for the body was at hand.

Ah but Sunday was coming, and it would bring joy out of the sorrow. Mary and others arrived early to embalm the Lord, but He was not there. They wept for they did not know where Jesus’ body was, but an angel appeared to say Jesus was not there. He announced that He is risen. They ran to the disciples to tell them what they saw, and they too ran to the grave to check on this.

God wants us to make an unconditional sacrifice, but mankind wants to set his own conditions to do so. We look at the best interest or convenience for ourselves; thus, not honoring His will.

My next blog will delve into the precious gift and grace and what it means.  God bless!

Time to Stand and Apply Wisdom

Part two of If Not Us series

In my last blog I discussed the issue at hand which is that we fail to address our problems in a timely manner or if at all. We are so used to sweeping things under the rug or telling ourselves we will deal with this at a later date. What is the old adage ?  Out of sight and out of mind. We wallow in our problem or mess until we decide to do something.

Unfortunately, right now is the perfect example. Our country is in shambles. We have division and no unity whatsoever.  We have children being taken right in front of us and no one bats an eye.  Everyone is willing to go to war, but few are trying to find a peaceful resolution.  Basically, we are all talking out of both sides of our mouth and nothing gets addressed or resolved.

My last blog showed through many examples how we are to look out for one another and take care of those that are unable to care for themselves.  We have an ample supply of pithy remarks, but it appears to be all for show.  Why? Because we can talk the talk, but we cannot walk it.  Problems must be addressed! In order to find the most viable solution we need to apply the ideas at hand.  Without application the concept just hangs in mid-air. Just think of how far we could have come if we applied action to the concept at hand!

First, we need to use wisdom. What is wisdom? Per Oxford Dictionary it is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise. When you seek to resolve a question or issue you go to a counsel of others and inquire of their wisdom.  We acknowledge their experience in handling conflict. As noted in James 3:13 and in James 1:5 he states the attributes of wisdom and the importance of obtaining wisdom:

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.”

            “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

God does not rebuke or criticize us when we seek wisdom.  He gladly grants us wisdom. People gravitate to the wise for advice. They see the fruit of the wise. A wise person continues to grow even as they age as Job 12:12 states:

            “Is not wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long-life bring understanding?”

We are instructed to delve deep into the Word to seek knowledge and gain wisdom.  When we do so, take a moment and apply this to your life.  Look at past behavior and assess if it was applied to the situation at the time of your struggle.  Did you adhere to it or did you decide you can get yourself out of this mess on your own?  Drop the veil and earnestly seek the answer.  People are stubborn and once they have a mindset of how to solve something (or fail to address it) they stick to that pattern.  Our pride rears its head and we listen to ourselves and not to others who may have gone through what we are going through.  A case in point, the Israelites thought that they could handle anything and soon they experienced everything despite God warning them through the prophets.  They refused to listen and apply wisdom. What resulted? Repeatedly, they fell and cried out to the Lord for help. He answered them and sent help in the form of the prophets, but they refused to listen.  They were that petulant child who had to have his or her way.  They rebelled (threw a tantrum) until they got what they desired; thus suffering the consequences of their lack of insight or wisdom.  This is where we are at right now! I pray we do not make the same mistakes.

Once we have acquired good sound counsel, we must look at our intention on how to resolve the issue.  Do we intend to comply and add to the problem by being complacent or do we intend to stop this issue now and avoid further damage?  What are we hoping to accomplish and where do we draw the line?  Boundaries must be set. It is here that we must decide who we are, to whom we belong and seek wisdom to achieve our intentions. Resolution does not mean we are constantly planning the stages or strategy of this battle.  There comes a time in which we must move past the plan and put it into motion.

Putting a plan into motion takes courage to face whatever comes from the battle.  Wisdom is found in Deuteronomy 31:6 when Joshua is encouraged to step forward and follow God’s plan to have the walls of Jericho fall. Joshua may have hesitated at some point, but God wanted faithfulness and action. Read the verse to feel the power of His message:

            “Be courageous and strong. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

We have God’s promise and assurance that he will remain with us during our struggle.  His word holds up every time. There is no need to procrastinate, but rather this promise should motivate you to continue and pursue your objective.

Once the plan is in motion you need to trust that God will lead you down the right path. He is the one who will establish our steps and His Holy Spirit will enable us to speak the truth.  Look at the following verses below:

In Proverbs 16:9 we learn to lean on God and set our foolish pride/arrogance aside.  We do not have all the answers, so we must walk in faith and listen for His guidance.

            “A man’s heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps.”

In Luke 12:12 we learn to wait on the Lord and wait for the Holy Spirit to speak through us during times such as this.

            “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

In conclusion we have God’s assurance to stand by us during our struggle, his guidance on how to resolve our issue, His encouragement to follow through on that plan or strategy; thus action needs to be taken, and the confidence that He has equipped us with all that we need to continue on and walk in faith.  Trust Him. Rely on His power alone. Address the problem, assess the situation, strategize, and act on it, but first seek His wisdom and the wisdom of a wise counsel.  Pray unceasingly and face whatever lies ahead. God bless. You are in the hands of God!

If Not Us, Then Who?

Part One: The Issue

As I was reading through my daily search for the truth via The Bible, I let my mind ponder a few things.  Then I began to pray and let all my frustration, guilt, anger, concern, hope and yes, joy, come out during this time with my Lord.

Unless you have been living under a rock, remain in a deep coma, or just are unaware of the environment around you, one can see that we are in deep trouble. Our country is hanging on by a thin thread, people are on their last nerve, and the fight between good and evil has jumped up a notch or two these past few decades. Folks I am pointing out how far we have fallen and stating that we need to stop being complacent and start waking up.  God has been speaking loud and clear, yet our eyes are still closed and our ears are not open. 

Can this be turned around? Only if God decides to give us another chance, but we need to make a move first.  Just like the Israelites went after other gods/false gods, we, too, have strayed.  Once again God extends His love and grace to us as 2 Chronicles 7:14 points out. 

            If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

 Yet many, especially those who profess to love Him, continue in their sin and do not look back and see the damage that resulted from our bad behavior.  We failed to repent, humble ourselves and comply.  We are indeed stubborn, proud, and unable to apologize for our actions.  Here we are again unfortunately, but now we have become the Israelites sinning the same way.

One trait we never seem to tire of is our ability to complain. Why is this happening? We ask. Why don’t you answer us? We ask. He always answers, but we continue to seek an answer that will satisfy us and refuse to accept the one He provides.

So, as I was reading in the book of Jeremiah, the song Do Something by Matthew West popped into my head.  In the song he pleads with God to do something for all the people that are struggling.  God swiftly responds that He has heard and answered the request for help.  God’s response was “I did, I created you.”  Let’s look at this nugget of wisdom and expound on this. 

One might be asking why would God, who sees all and knows everything, ask us to do something.  He has the power to resolve this. Not so fast, stop and think about it. We are constantly told throughout the Word to look out for one another and to treat each other as we would expect to be treated. In fact, let’s look at Galatians 6:2 for a moment.

            Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

God commands us to take care of others in need.  We are not to ignore or deny it but respond.  In part two of this series, I will get into this requirement deeper. Since we are commanded to respond that would mean to follow Christ and honor that law because of our love for Him and our moral obligation.  This is a priority and we have attached a work ethic to support this.

A work ethic is defined as a principle that demonstrates hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward.  It can be further explained by the following characteristics:

  • Integrity. One of the most important workplace ethics is integrity. …
  • Honesty. Being an honest individual means you do not deceive others by giving out misleading information. …
  • Discipline. …
  • Fair and respect. …
  • Responsible and accountable.

What results from this? Our rewards – gifts from God. Jesus tells us several times (Matthew 5:12 and Luke 6:23 are such examples) that our work for doing good in His name will be rewarded in heaven.  These are gifts from God, so that we cannot boast about this.  Our reward will be a crown that we receive as a good and faithful servant and then we, in turn, place it at His feet, as our thank you for His grace and love.  There are five crowns that we can receive for our faithfulness upon serving Him.  The Crown of Life, the Incorruptible Crown, the Crown of Righteousness, the Crown of Glory, and the Crown of Rejoicing.  Our works did not get us into heaven, only our salvation and a relationship with Christ allows us to be received into heaven.  However, our works have everything to do with the rewards we are gifted upon arrival. This proves that hard work will produce good fruit and will be rewarded.  When our focus is on Jesus and not ourselves, we can do good and help others if we adhere to a strong work ethic.

This ties into our moral obligation to help others.  What does this mean and what is an obligation? It is an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment. Or a debt of gratitude for a service or favor.  We are created to look after those in need, those without a voice, and those who cannot take care of themselves.  We were meant to help others. Therein lies the problem. We fail to look past the nose on our face and see those God has placed before us.  We are meant to lift up others, encourage and yes, help.  Ponder on some of these verses to recognize how big of a problem this is and why we must rectify it now by standing up.  I know there are a lot of verses to ponder, but there is a reason God stresses this message!

Hebrews 13:16

             “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Galatians 6:9

             “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Proverbs 3:27

             “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”

Proverbs 11:25

            “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Proverbs 19:17

            “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”

Proverbs 22:9

            “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”

John 15:12-13

             My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Matthew 5:16 and 5:42

            “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

            “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Romans 12:10 and 12:13

            Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

            “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Philippians 2:3-4

            “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Luke 3:11, 6:30-31, and 12:33-34

            “John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’”

            “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

            “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

James 2:14-17

            What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Deuteronomy 15:11

            “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.”

Isaiah 1:17 and 58:10

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless;  plead the case of the widow.”

“and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

            “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Acts 20:35

             In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Ephesians 2:10

            “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Now that we can see the importance of this command, we can identify the problem (our complacency and apathy) and now we must seek to resolve it. We are called and we must respond. It is imperative that we Do Something! In my next blog, which is part two of this series, I will delve deeper into this matter. Be determined and keep yourself composed. It is time to Stand Up and Move Onward Christian soldiers

Take care and God bless.

The Joy of Being Tested

My previous blog was about taking chances and beginning the search to find Jesus. Today, I would like to explore the joy we can obtain through testing. Yes, you read correctly, I said finding the joy in our tests/trials. Allow me to expound on this a bit more.

When we were children, we tended to think everything was great and wonderful. Each day became a new adventure filled with anticipation or excitement. As we got older our new experiences made their way onto the path of our lives and challenged us deeper. They could result in uncomfortableness, tension, and yes, they can be painful to walk through. As our body was growing so were our minds. Each day was a new discovery about us and our responses (emotions unfortunately included), resulting in learning about the environment around us. We were taught these lessons for a reason. God is not vindictive, and He does not aim to cause us harm. However, He does want us to grow into the person He designed us to be. That path will and does consists of many thorns. However, we need to stay focused and learn how to recognize these thorns to either deal with them or remove them.

God is upfront. He established what His laws are and how we are to live under them. He placed these laws in His Word for us to learn and lean upon as we encounter new experiences that allow us the ability to make wise choices. I rely on The Bible to stay connected with God. It is alive and He does speak to us through it. Below I will list a few verses scattered throughout the Bible that show us the necessity of testing. God stresses His point through repetition. There is a reason a subject is mentioned multiple times.

Keep in mind that everyone gets tested. There are no exceptions, and you cannot talk yourself out of it. Read Genesis 22:1-22 when Abraham was told to sacrifice his son to God. His obedience to God was tested. In Psalms 26:2 we seek and ask God to examine our hearts so that we would be faithful and transparent to God.

Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”  “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”  Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”  Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”  “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”  13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”  15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”  19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. 20 Sometime later Abraham was told, “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.”

            “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;”

Along with this in 2 Corinthians 13:5 we are instructed to examine our hearts to become accountable for our actions.

            “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”

Just as important is how we are to look out for one another – especially those who cannot look after themselves as Proverbs 31:8-9 states.

            “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly;defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

He teaches us this principle because of His deep love for us as Job 7:17-18 can attest to.

            “What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention, that you examine them every morning and test them every moment?”

He instructs us in 1 Peter 1:17 and Exodus 16:4 the importance of following His law and instructions; whereas we can see His Sovereignty displayed and how we are to revere Him as noted in Deuteronomy 8:2-3.

            “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.”

            “Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.”

            “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and allowed you to be hungry and fed you with manna, [a substance] which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, so that He might make you understand [by personal experience] that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”

Testing can provide benefits for the believer. Let us look at James 1:2-3; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3; and 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 to explore this further.

            “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

            “This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

            “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.”

            “…or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Testing makes you stronger. When faced with a trial we learn to persevere. Our Lord uses these tests to remove the dross and refine us to make us sanctified in His eyes. When we are aligned with the will of God, we are used to doing the work of Christ and serve for His righteousness.

Finally, it grounds us – humbles us. It demonstrates that we need to depend on Him and that is more than sufficient.

God does not want to harm us, but teach us how to love, how to grow in our relationship with Him, and how to serve others as we were created to do. When we have the Holy Spirit working within us, we carry Him everywhere with us. He will lead us, shape us/refine, correct us when needed, and carry us when we can not walk on our own. These trials are an extension of His vast love for us. It is amazing that He finds value within us. Do not dread the trial but look it straight in the eye and know God is there and will never leave you where you are. Trust that, accept the challenge and lesson and give all the glory to Him. I hope this helps you. God bless!

The Cost One Must Pay to Follow Christ

I previously talked about the spiritual war that we are currently in and now I would like to address the grounds for that war.  In a spiritual war the bone of contention is that there are two sides fighting for different outcomes.  One side is fighting for darkness to reign and the other side is fighting for light to stand, shine on and defeat the darkness.  Imagine being attacked just because of your beliefs.  Every day arrows are flung at you.  Taunts thrown about and violence incurs from all of this.  You, my Christian friend, are currently in a war whether you like it or not and persecution is coming our way. Sacrifice will be a choice to make or to run from and death will be the casualty of this war.  I am not trying to alarm you, but rather to prepare you for what lies ahead.  As we turn to The Bible, we see many times that persecution occurs and that even Jesus himself was persecuted. 

First, let us get a clearer definition of what persecution is and what it means to be persecuted.  Persecution means to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict specifically: to cause to suffer because of said belief (Merriam-Webster).  In most countries the Christian believer has been persecuted and often, dies from this persecution.  The US has not seen much the full depth of persecution, but it is on the way and it will cost every believer.  You may lose your livelihood, your friends, and yes, even your life.  We are all called to stand up during these trials for God and the greater good and sacrifice must be surrendered to God alone.

We need to get into the right frame of mind.  Jesus gave his life for us and we must now make a choice.  Do we continue to follow Him and stand up or do we bail and seeks to satisfy our own needs and risk spending eternity in Hell?  I chose to stand even when it is hard.  I chose to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.  When I asked Jesus into my life, I made my choice.  I said I will follow you and I stand behind that statement no matter the cost.

He taught me to love my neighbor so why would I leave them at their lowest point?  I have been commissioned to spread the gospel and I want to see a great awakening that brings many more to our Lord.  I refuse to give up on that.  We know the reason for war, but who are the opponents and where is this war being waged?  The opponents are good versus evil as we learn in Ephesians 6:11-12, the devil is behind this along with his minions.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Once you know who the opponent is, only then can you truly begin to strategize – put a plan into motion.  As Christians we know Jesus won the war and God, when He predestined us, gave us every spiritual blessing, and equipped us for this fight.  We have it because of Him, and we eventually won it because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Ephesians 6:14-18 continues to explain what the soldier for Christ must wear to prepare for this war.

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”

Though this war is waged in a different realm, we feel the after-effects on our physical earth.  Throughout life we have had our ups and downs.  The valleys were barren at times and the harvest was full at other times, but we took everything for granted and we forgot how truly blessed we have been.  As each year passes, the rift grows wider – the lines that once were solid and well defined, are now blurred and harder to identify.  I am not sure what this fight will fully entail, but keep in mind that we brought ourselves here due to complacency and ungratefulness, and by not keeping God first in our life.  We may get a respite with time to grow and repent or this may be the end of our nation.  Time will tell one way or another, but with either scenario, I choose to stand up.

During this current political climate, I believe that we need to ask God for strength to endure the fight and courage to make a stand.   Jesus is and will always be with us.  He has personally experienced persecution and tells us that we, too, will experience it.  Matthew 16:24-26 calls us to turn from (deny) our sin and follow him.  By doing this we trust Jesus to break the power of sin in our lives.  We now live for Christ and we identify with His rejection, shame, suffering and death.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

Do not worry or be anxious, but accept that this is the cost a Christian must pay to follow Him as we see in several verses:  Matthew 5:10-11 tells us that we are blessed when we are persecuted by this world, Paul suggests that we find contentment in 2 Corinthians12:10, 2 Timothy 3:12 guarantees that all Christians suffer persecution, albeit on different levels, Romans 8:35 shows us that it brings us closer to God when we suffer persecution, Matthew 5:44 tells us to pray for those who cause harm to us and Mark 10:29-30 tells us of the future promises of things to come.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.”

Yet there is more.  1 Peter 5:8 warns us about the enemy, whereas Psalms 23:4 assures and comforts us throughout this battle.

                        Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

I do notice that a lot of people are pinning their hopes on one another or on our President, but that does not cut it.  Mankind cannot save us.  We all are weak and fall short of His glory. Our hope only lies at His feet and with Him.  We serve the one in control and we surrender all that we are and endure whatever comes out of that surrender or choice.  Bow before Jesus alone and walk as a soldier off to war knowing that His presence is there and is felt.  You are an ambassador for the Lord.  It is our privilege and honor to serve Him and to follow His example.  Carry on, hold on to your faith, and let Him lead you.  You will not go astray wherever He tells you to go.  Be obedient and faithful and one day when you meet, you will hear “thank you my good and faithful servant.”

Our objective is to serve our Lord.  We cling to the above verses to strengthen us and guide us as we go into this deep valley.  Our strategy is to continue to pray for wisdom and the right words to soothe the tension that looms over us.  Ask God to use us as the needed conduit to bring others into the light and stave off the risk of many lives ending way too soon.  Only He can bring us through this and only we can decide if we are more than a mere profession of words claiming to be someone or something that we may not be.  Our action speaks the louder volume and as painful as it is to experience, let alone imagine, we must walk down this path.  We have others to lift and encourage, we have others who do not have a voice and need someone to defend them.  Do not fear this war, but rather fight it with all that you have.  You are a soldier with a cause for Christ.  Let the fiery arrows flung at you fly by or hit you.  His strength is all you need.  Endure and run the race and in the end your reward will be an eternity with Jesus.  The fight, the persecution is all worth it to spend an eternity with God.  March on with hope in your heart and your head held high.  He already has the victory!  God bless.

The Withered Will Blossom Again

I have had a tough time sleeping the past few days. My heart has been full, and I have something I need to say. I have this deep concern that we are heading down an extremely dangerous path. One, that if we fail to turn ourselves around, will bring us more than just a state of devastation. There will irreversible destruction. I am not trying to be overly dramatic and paint a dark picture. I just want to portray a very real possibility. We have led ourselves here, but maybe if we now can see and learn from our past, we may have a short window open to change.

This is a spiritual issue my fellow brothers and sisters-in-Christ and not a world issue. That, in and of itself, is already steamrolling on its own volution. My concern today is the state of the church. What chaffs my behind, is that if we stop and think, we can turn this around quickly. However, we are not thinking and with a heavy dose of pride, we fail to stand together. We misunderstand what the true meaning of fellowship is about.

I am not addressing someone having their feelings hurt, for this wound is much deeper. I am not stating it is anyone’s specific church, but rather “The Church” which makes up the body of Christ. We have left several doors open for the enemy to intrude, steal, and conquer. Will someone please close the doors! Nail them shut!

I do not know when the change came about. In fact, I suspect it has been this way from the very beginning. In the beginning when it was new the apostles grasped the importance of it. Our Lord Jesus gave His life for it. Why are we so determined to profess our quest for unity and stop right there? Is this a profession of faith or is this considered a trend? Were people using the church for their own personal agenda? When did we stop working together and praying unceasingly? How did we let ourselves drift apart and decide to settle matters all on our own?

As I type this my local church has a weekly prayer drive and we drive throughout the community and pray for the people and the local establishments. Prayer is supposed to be our most important and effective tool, yet we cannot seem to agree to meet and do this. A car or two – a person here and there – but no real obligation except for a few faithful ones. Why? Isn’t it most important to put Jesus first? Did Jesus walk away? I can assure all throughout the bible we have plenty of examples of how Jesus makes time to pray and do the will of the Father. Is this angering you as it is me? It should!

It is as if we are playing at church when it suits us and then the rest of the time we live for the world. Meditate on this last statement. We were put on this earth for a reason. We have work to do for the Lord. The church needs to be unified and that is why we need to participate in fellowship to achieve this.

So, what is fellowship? Good question. Throughout the bible fellowship is mentioned over twenty times alone in the New Testament. God repeats themes and words that are meant to be interpreted as having a strong reference/importance. This is not a typo on the part of the author, but a statement or theme of purpose that we are to examine and follow as we proceed to do the will of God. A body works together to maintain balance and for a smooth existence. Fellowship is the glue that holds all the parts together. It is essential! The hand needs the fingers and the wrist to fully support it. Without the leg for support our derriere cannot hold us up on its own.

The church needs every cog to move effectively and with one goal in mind:  Serving God. When a fellow brother or sister is down, we gather to lift him or her up. When someone is facing a battle, we arm ourselves with the word and stand with that person.

In the Greek language fellowship is the word Koinonia. It means to hold something in common. The church is supposed to be the body of Christ. We are to be united and to stand with one another during trials. We are to comfort and encourage during the storm. All pieces must work together or otherwise the body cannot stand. We are called to be faithful and obedient to serve the will of our Father. He tells us to do so joyously, and together much can be achieved if we do so. We pray fervently and unceasingly. However, this falls apart when we decide to choose which parts are to work together and which parts are okay to neglect. We let divisiveness take over and as a result, we fail to observe our Father’s commandments and laws.

Meditate on these verses and let the concept of fellowship seep into your soul. Keep in mind it is just as important and powerful as praise and worship. It is built alongside with obedience on the foundation of our Savior Jesus. It runs on pure love; thus, providing more than enough motivation.

1 Corinthians 1:9 

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

1 John 1:3; 1:7

            “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

            “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

          “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Proverbs 27:17

            “Iron sharpens iron,  and one man sharpens another.[

Matthew 18:20

            “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Acts 2:42

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Romans 1:12

            “That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”

John 17:21-23

            “…that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

1 Corinthians 12:12

            “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”

2 Corinthians 6:14; 13:14

            “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

            “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Psalms 55:14

            “We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.”

As I read this, I see we are called to fellowship and sweet counsel. This action should stir us up and lead to our loving one another and doing good works for God. We need to mutually encourage one another and keep the others sharp and focused. It is the backbone that needs to be paid more attention to remain healthy. When we fail to observe fellowship, we fail to work together. Right now, the days are long and uncertain. This issue needs to be addressed and followed now more than ever, Jesus is with us, and we have work to do for the kingdom. Let us stand together and spread the good news. Let us not be afraid to continue to meet no matter how dark this world gets. It will get worse, but our light still needs to shine and point towards Jesus. Do not put this on a back burner only to ignore until a future date. Time is short and the church has much work to do. Reach out for your brother or sister’s hand and stand united for the right cause. Jesus is the glue that will bind us. He said He would never leave us and that is in His word. Trust it. Practice it. Follow it and rejoice that many will respond and become a part of the family. Take care and God bless.

Patience My Friend is Golden

We are so blessed in this life to receive the lessons that God brings our way.  At times, being unaware or naïve, we tend to overlook these gems, but the more that you delve into His word you begin to see the blessing that only His wisdom can bring.

The greatest lesson that I have gleaned from the book of Job is the use of patience during trials and I believe that we all can relate to that.  Many of us have been in trials in which we must wait to see what the storm is bringing and revealing.  The main problem for man, however, is that we are not accustomed to waiting.  We always want to know why, and we demand answers now. Yes, we are stubborn indeed.

We have forgotten where we came from and whose we are!  We are born into this world with nothing and what we receive, or sow is the gift of God as Job 1:21 points out.

            “And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

God had blessed Job with a wife and children, land to manage and so much more and he prospered greatly.  Satan came to God with a proposition.  He wanted to prove man’s frailty and susceptibility to being tempted.  He further argued that man would not only fall into temptation, but that he would also curse God.

It was God who suggested Job.  Job was a faithful man who followed the Lord.  He was tempted, but because he had been so richly blessed by God, he could resist temptation.  Job knew he started with nothing, yet he was blessed greatly for his righteousness.  We often presume that God owes us something.  Again, go back to Job 1:21 and it stresses that we came with nothing and we leave with nothing.  Anything we receive during this lifetime is indeed a blessing and should be acknowledged as such.

Satan accepted the offer of testing Job.  He was certain that Job would not only fall into temptation, but he would denounce God.  God gave His authorization to tempt Job, but Satan could not kill Job.  After a parting of ways, Satan began to put his plan into motion.  He was going to tempt Job and make him suffer throughout this test.

Naively, many of us assume that once we come to Christ, nothing bad would befall us.  On the contrary, I found that when I gave my life to Christ, I endured more heartache.  My soul was not the world’s, but it now belonged to God.  We are still tempted, we still sin despite our desire not to, and we will suffer consequences for our actions.  I am not pointing fingers, but rather I would like us to take the storms that come our way and navigate through them.  How do we do this?  We put our trust in God and let Him lead.  We grow impatient and want answers now, but what are we willing to give in return?  Are we willing to take a deep look at ourselves and admit when we make mistakes and fall?  Do we take it to God, or do we just assume that all is okay?  Wake up!  We must acknowledge our actions and accept the consequences that may result from this.  We cannot sit in the corner and ask why me?  People, we are sinners, and we do things that we are not supposed to do, yet God wants to refine us and remove the dross from our lives.  I used to have a “wicked” temper and I was too quick with the comeback.  My sarcasm was spot on, but I was doing wrong and harming someone with my words.  God taught me several lessons to point this out and now I try to think before I speak.  I do not want to cause anyone harm by my words and I do feel bad if I slip.  However, I take it to God and confess and try not to go back to my old nature.  This is just one of the lessons I have been taught and it usually came during a hardship or low point.  God wanted my attention, and this was a productive way to get it.

I am not saying Job was doing anything wrong, but nevertheless an important lesson was being taught.  So, let us explore this further, shall we?

After Job lost everything:  family, cattle, and his health to mention a few, his “friends” came to console him.  Careful who you let in the door during your weakest hours.  They may be a familiar face or seem concerned, but they keep their real reason concealed from you – at least at first.

Everyone has a few fair-weathered friends and as usual they show up at the lowest point of your life and seem to have all the answers.  They talk, assume, continue talking, and then tell you what you either did wrong or advise you as how to correct the matter at hand.  Job’s so-called friends are no different than those we know today.  He listened to what they had to say, but like so many of these types of friends, they did not hear how Job responded.  They were determined to keep him under their thumbs by pointing out what he lost and why he lost it.  In their minds he committed a grievous sin against God, and he was being punished for this.  They jumped to conclusions people.  I know several people who always assume and place blame without having the whole story.  They were pompous and acted very condescending to Job.  He let God down, but they failed to apply that to their own life.  I liken this to going to court and having the prosecutor presenting the case and then the jury feels they heard enough and found the defendant guilty.  No opposing counsel to present his side.  Their minds were made up and everyone was ready for the sentencing to begin.

However, let us take a quick look at what these friends did do right.  They traveled to come and see him and mourned with him and sat with him for seven days.  On the seventh day they began to speak.  They empathized and administered to Job during these first few days.   Whenever we go through a dark valley it is humbling when we see those faces that we have become accustomed to.  A person who is willing to travel, hold your hand during a crisis, bend an ear to listen to your pain and administer care is a treasured jewel.  They were indeed on point for all of this.  But then they spoke!

It is hard enough going through a hardship and tried to get re-acclimated to new situations and settings.  Having those around you who have not experienced what you are going through but advising you nonetheless on what they perceive you did wrong, can shake you to the core or limit of tolerance.

These friends started off with good intentions, but then they had to get their point across.  The first mistake is that they try to speak for God.  They point their fingers at Job and accuse him of the mess that he is in due to disobedience.  No one should ever speak for God.  God was not punishing Job.  At the beginning of all this Satan approached God and arrogantly stated he could get someone to curse God through the difficulties of life.  God suggested Job someone who was faithful and obedient.  That does not sound like punishment to me!  God was making a point that a true follower will stand on the truth and not curse God during the rough patches of life.  Job was an example set, not a punishment.  God allowed this to happen and that makes the difference.  Sometimes when we suffer it can be a test to strengthen our faith, or some other purpose is coming out of that trial that God wants to direct you to.  The friends assumed the worst yet failed to seek God for answers.  They should have taken note to the earlier conversations they had with Job when they empathized with him.  They should have encouraged Job to continue and endure the hardship.  They should have said they would stand by him no matter what.  Advising him to wait to hear from God.  We all tend to jump the gun and assume first, and only after the trial is over, we see the real reason for the trial breaking through.

I went through many painful times and some of those times the trial seemed to be impossible, and I wanted to just stop going on.  However, during some of these times it was the trial that propelled me to something different and more rewarding.  We need to pray on this, and we need to wait for the answer or revelation.  Trust him!

The final part of this blog that I want to focus on is the lessons we should have recognized about our God.  First, God not only knows all, but He sees all – right down to the most minute detail.  In Hebrews 4:15-16 we learn to draw strength from Jesus who has been tempted.

            “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Job revered God, but he failed to see all that God encompasses.  He questioned God, but where he went wrong is that he expected to be told why or receive justification for this trial.  I do not believe God minds when we earnestly and respectfully ask Him questions.  However, we have no authority to demand answers or justification.  It is out of His nature that we get answers from time to time.  Keep in mind we have just a glimpse of what is, and we lack the knowledge and comprehension of seeing the whole picture.

In Job 2:10, Job gives us an important piece of wisdom.  His wife basically tells him to curse God for his misery and he responds as follows:

            “But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.  Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

As I mentioned before, nowhere in The Bible is it mentioned that everything will be sunshine and roses once you come to Christ.  We will suffer trials and hardships.  However, as Paul points out, we need to be content no matter the circumstance.  We are all just a breath away from death.

My next point is that God establishes the time and limits of our trials.  Everything is on His timing.  We just need to focus on Him and continue despite the trial.  Some trials that I have gone through seemed to last forever.  As I continue to grow, I see that whenever I was being moved elsewhere or beginning a new chapter, the trial seemed unbearably long.  Again, we must reason that since we have just a glimpse, we cannot see what details must be met before the trial ends.  Waiting is hard – ask Job.

During trials do not focus on why, but how I can grow from this lesson.  Most of us, myself included back in the day, used comebacks to justify our need for vindication of the trial.  For example, I demanded payback if I was wronged, or I am going to show you how fast I will heal mentality.  I was young and arrogant; thus, I needed this trial to learn how to accept the hardship, pray on it and grow.  His patience was graciously extended to me during these times and for that I am grateful.  God’s reasons are beyond our understanding as Elihu pointed out to Job in 33:12-22.  He states that God is greater than man and who can contend against him. Man has charges against God (as Job pleads his innocence) and because of our limitations, we are unable to justify those charges.  Arrogantly, man still is determined to defend himself before God.  We need to listen for God to speak to us whether it be through His word or in a dream or vision as He spoke to the people in the Old Testament.  As we go through a trial, do not focus on our justification of our actions, but rather we should seek God and ask for His wisdom and guidance through this.

Seek the lesson being taught and do not look at your situation in which you ask why you are going through this.  Why will never be answered unless God wants us to know.  Place your trust in the Lord in the face of anguish.  Once the lesson is taught you will receive your reward in whatever form it may come.  For some it will be a wiser perspective, for some it may involve a new chapter to write and explore.  Our God is faithful, good, and true.

We must learn to wait, listen, and then act.  In my next blog of this series, I am going to take a closer look at Joseph and his time in prison.  There is a nugget of insight on what we learn when we persevere.  Until then take care and God bless.

Hope Never Hurts

Whenever things start to get a little out of hand and you doubt your ability to muster enough energy to get through it, do you ever wonder if it is worth all the hassle?  The crisis of the day seems to be too much to absorb, let alone, face.  It is here that you need to gather your thoughts and concerns and take it directly to God.

You may be asking why or why me?  Am I ever going to catch a break?  Calm down and then get down on your knees and pray.  God promises throughout The Bible that He is always there and will never leave us.  He tells us to ask Him for help or answers and yes, even assures our future contentment and peace of mind when we choose to surrender it all to Him.

Prayer is underrated and often discarded.  We know how to cry out for help, but do we remember to praise Him throughout the good and the bad?  As we make that private time between ourselves, the Lord lets us revel in the intimacy of it.  We have the honor of talking with God.  He genuinely wants to hear from us and asks that we lean on Him during the good and the bad.  However, this should not be used only as an admission of our sins, we truly need to confess and repent for those, but we need to be fortified as well.  I call it a refueling of our souls.  As we kneel in prayer let us remember all that He has done, is doing and will do for us.  We have so much to be grateful for!

We are entering holy ground when we go to our prayer room and talk with Him.  Thank Him for the blessings, praise all that He has done, talk and then wait for Him to respond.  Sometimes as I pray a verse will pop into my head.  I know what the Bible says, but I do not (especially as I get older) remember all the verses word by word or I can mention the book, but not remember the chapter or verse.   He knows what you are referencing.  I have my bible with me as I pray, and I have a journal to take notes.  The tools I mentioned are also a great way to look back and see how far you have come on this journey, what knowledge you have gained and the clarity that now replaces the once foggy picture that is your life.  As I begin to speak, I concentrate on what I have learned today or what has He reminded or convicted me of.  Listen and enjoy the beauty of the silence.  His voice will speak to you.  Do not be afraid to let your emotions out.  Cry when you feel like crying and rejoice when joy comes over you.  Take each moment as just that – a moment.  Absorb it and let His mere presence lift you up.  So, raise those hands, shed those tears, bang your chest if needed, but always show Him reverence and respect.  Praise Him always and when finished, then leave the room and meditate on what you have experienced and learned.  Let the joy seep in and then focus on the hope that was borne out of this time with our Lord.

Take away this bit of advice:  not all is always revealed at once.  It is His timing, and we must learn how to be patient and learn how to endure the trials life brings us.

I have chosen two amazing individuals from The Bible.  I chose Job for his patience and Joseph (Jacob’s favorite) for his endurance.  When I walked down their paths, I felt their pain and anguish and I learned determination and strength to continue my journey.  Everyone has a story, and everyone has a lesson wrapped inside of that story.  Let us, in this series, look at these two believers and maybe unravel our own story a bit.  My first blog in the series will focus on Job and then the last blog of the series will focus on Joseph.  Take care and God bless. 

Older Posts »