Do Not Be Silent

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The apostles prayed for boldness (Acts 4:29-30), but the Lord didn’t give them boldness just to speak His word boldly, but to live His word boldly.  Prior to this prayer, Jesus’ disciples scattered after he was arrested.  And they all forsook Him and fled  (Mark 14:50).  Peter denied ever knowing Jesus – three times (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 18).

Some believers call it persecution when someone talks about them or doesn’t like them, but there were men of God that were threatened, tortured, stoned, sawn in half, beaten and imprisoned because they did miracles in the name of Jesus and taught in His name.  Let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name  (Acts 4:17).  Despite the warnings and threats, the apostles kept speaking of what they had seen and heard (Acts 4:20).  And even after being beaten or sent to prison, they would rejoice and continue to preach the Lord Jesus Christ.

…and when they had called the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.   And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ (Acts 5:40-42).

The enemy wants us to be afraid because when a person walks in fear, it’s hard for them to walk in power, love and a sound mind – and it is these three things that defeat him (2 Timothy 1:7).  Fear has torment with worry, troubles and cares.  Fear will even cause you to become silent.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent’ (Acts 18:9, NIV).

John the Baptist preached repentance.  Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand  (Matthew 3:2).  And he didn’t care who you were, where you came from or what your title or position was.  John the Baptist approached a king (Herod) and told him that what he was doing was wrong.  It is not lawful (right) for you to have your brother’s wife  (Mark 6:18; Leviticus 20:21).  Although Herod and his wife wanted to kill John, he didn’t because he respected the anointing on his life so he placed him in prison instead.

And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet (Matthew 14:5).

Herodias had a grudge against John and wanted to kill him, but she could not because Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he continually kept him safe. When he heard John [speak], he was very perplexed, but he enjoyed listening to him (Mark 6:19-20, AMP).

This wasn’t a situation where the surviving brother married his brother’s childless widow so that they may have a child to carry the deceased brother’s name (Deuteronomy 25:5).  Herodias was not a widow and she had a daughter.  This relationship started out as an adulterous affair.

John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery” (Matthew 14:4, MSG).

John denounced Herod’s marriage to her as adulterous (VOICE).

John the Baptist had now become an enemy to Herodias because he preached the truth to her.  He preached something she didn’t want to hear.  His message was a call to repent or change, but she didn’t want to change.   Maybe John wasn’t telling them to divorce, but to repent for what they had done and to go back to the people they hurt and apologize.

God wasn’t condemning them.  He wasn’t trying to humiliate or embarrass them, but people who get easily offended don’t really understand how much God loves them.  God didn’t have to send a prophet to Herod and Herodias, but because He is longsuffering and doesn’t want any of us to perish, but instead come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), he sent John.

Herodias knew her husband wasn’t going to kill John so she waited for an opportunity to kill him.  And when a convenient day was come  (Mark 6:21).  That day was Herod’s birthday.  He invited very high officials to help him celebrate.  During the celebration, Herodias’ daughter danced for him.  Maybe you never thought about this, but what kind of dance did she perform that “pleased” her uncle/daddy (and all those men in attendance?  And out of excitement and a good feeling, he promised to give her whatever she asked.

After he made this promise to his niece/daughter, she went to her mom to ask what she should she ask for.  And she said, The head of John the Baptist  (Mark 6:23).  Herodias was led by the spirit of Jezebel.  And unfortunately, she was leading, teaching and training her daughter to live and behave just like her.  According to Revelation 2:20, Jezebel seduces God’s servants to commit fornication.  (Her job is to bring down those whom God has exalted and to defile that which is holy and without blemish, leaving them with a spot or wrinkle).

This is the spirit that told Herodias that it was alright to be with her brother-in-law.  This is the same spirit that ‘used’ Herodias’ daughter to dance before those men and to kill a prophet.  The enemy (in Herodias) knew he couldn’t touch John the Baptist, but all he needed was a body, a willing vessel – someone ignorant and easily deceived – to carry out his plan.

The enemy wasn’t just after John the Baptist because he was a messenger or a prophet, but he wanted to silence him because he was ‘the voice’.  He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord  (John 1:23).

This is what God has called us to be – the voice!  And He doesn’t want us to be afraid of their faces (Jeremiah 1:8).  I know sometimes we don’t speak up because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or we don’t want anyone to be mad with us, but what we don’t understand is that sometimes our silence is mistaken as agreement.  When you refuse to speak against it, they will think that you must be for  it.  ‘Speaking the truth in love’ doesn’t mean that the truth won’t hurt your feelings or that a person is supposed to speak to you in a sweet, soft voice, but it does mean that someone loves you enough to tell you the truth.

Let me be clear because I don’t want anyone to misinterpret or misunderstand what I’m saying. This blog isn’t about being bold enough to tell people about themselves. This is about taking a bold stand for righteousness. This is about being holy because God is holy.

I remember one day making a comment at work (that wasn’t nice) and the coworker who heard it, laughed, but then she said, ‘I wasn’t expecting that to come out of your mouth’. You talk about conviction.  I had to repent.  We may not quote scriptures or carry a bible around at work, but people are watching me and they are watching you, too.  They know there is something different about you.  They are watching how you live and if Jesus could see the faith of the men who brought the paralytic to Him through the roof of a house, then people can see our faith.  They may make fun of you or distance themselves from you because of what and Who you believe, but don’t take it personal.  They are not distancing themselves from you, but they are distancing themselves from the Light.  For every wrongdoer hates the Light, and does not come to the Light [but shrinks from it] for fear that his [sinful, worthless] activities will be exposed and condemned  (John 3:20).

I think about the many times I compromised truth just so that people wouldn’t be angry with me or in hopes that they would like me, and you know what?  All those things I did to ‘keep the peace’, gave me no peace.  I’m not telling you that fear will not come, but speak anyway – and not just through word only because sometimes the Word you live speaks better than the Word you speak.

Let your life speak. Do not be silent.

 

[Reference scriptures: Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29]

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If God Gives It to You, Will You Give It Back to Him?

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And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you (1 Samuel 1:11, NLT).

Elkanah had two wives.

Well, that was the first problem.

The second problem was one of his wives, Hannah, was unable to have children.  Can you imagine having everything you need to conceive (reproductive organs) only to be unable to produce or to give life?  The scriptures never mentioned that she was in this condition because of something she or her parents did or that the devil did this, but it was God who had shut up her womb (1 Samuel 1:5-6).

This woman was unable to do the one thing she should have been able to do for her husband – give him children.  Some women don’t know what it’s like to become pregnant while others know what it feels like to carry something inside of them that was once alive only for it to later die.  Either way, it can be very disappointing for a woman who desires to be a mother.

Maybe your physical womb isn’t shut up, but maybe there are words or promises that God gave you that seem to be ‘shut up’.  Usually when someone uses the term, ‘shut up’, they want you to stop speaking and maybe right now it feels like that vision, dream or promise will never speak (Habakkuk 2:3).

Peninnah isn’t just described as Elkanah’s other wife, but she was also described as one of the names to describe the devil – adversary (1 Samuel 1:6; 1 Peter 5:8).  I don’t know how many years this went on, but year after year, her adversary made fun of her.  She made her feel bad about not being able to have children and she would provoke her trying to get a reaction.  I’m sure Peninnah said things such as:

Elkanah doesn’t really love you.

You will never be a mother.

You will never have children.

Hannah never talked back to her adversary like Jesus did when he was tempted of the devil in the wilderness and soon the words of her adversary made her fret (to be worried, anxious, easily annoyed or irritated).  She stopped eating and cried all the time.  She was sad and depressed and there was nothing Elkanah could do or say to make her feel better.  When Elkanah gave a sacrifice to the Lord, he gave portions of his sacrifice to Peninnah and her children, but because Hannah didn’t have any children, he gave her a worthy or double portion.  He loved Hannah more than he loved Peninnah, but that didn’t comfort Hannah either.  (That could be one of the reasons why Peninnah hated her so much.  Hannah had something (love) that she could never earn despite having many sons and daughters for Elkanah).

You can be married to a wonderful person, but sometimes your spouse doesn’t know what to say or do.  Hannah, why do you weep?  Why do you not eat?  And why is your heart grieved?  Am I not better to you than ten sons?  Elkanah meant well, but he just didn’t understand.  He was talking to her about something he had never experienced.  He already had children.  He knew the joy of having children.  Hannah didn’t.

But one of the things I love about Hannah was her persistence.  When it was time to go to Shiloh every year, she got up, got dressed and went with her husband.  She did this faithfully for years.  She could have decided to stay home because of her adversary.  In fact, that’s exactly what Peninnah wanted her to do, but Hannah didn’t give up.

The next thing that I love about Hannah is she stopped feeling sorry for herself.  When she had enough, she got up (vs 9) and did something about her situation.  She was bitter, she was angry and she was hurting, but in spite of how she felt, she went to the temple and prayed to the Lord.  Only babies cry when they want something because they aren’t able to form words yet, but Hannah wasn’t a baby and it was time for her to grow up.  It was time for her to stop crying (about what she didn’t have) and to start talking.

There was nothing wrong with Hannah wanting a child, but why did she want a child?  To shut Peninnah up?  To say to her, How ya like me now?  One of the reasons why our prayers may go unanswered isn’t because God didn’t hear us, but we may have prayed amiss (James 4:3).  In other words, we asked for things that would only please us instead of asking for things that would please God.

If, in fact, she did have selfish desires, her desires soon changed.  Hannah no longer wanted this child for herself and she promised God that if He gave her a male child that she would give him back to Him.  She asked God to give her something that HE could use for Himself and for His glory.

To some people, it may seem harsh that God would shut a woman’s womb, but there was purpose in what He did.  God knew exactly what He was doing.  If her womb hadn’t been shut up, Hannah would have never sought God the way she did.  Sometimes asking isn’t enough.  You have to also seek and knock (Matthew 7:7-8).  And yes, it was a fight.  Do you think she always felt like walking to Shiloh with Peninnah alongside her?  You don’t think she thought about giving up?  It had now been a long time of waiting, but she kept pressing.  She kept getting up.  She didn’t run from the fight and she didn’t quit when it seemed hard.  Instead, she learned how to fight. Lord, teach our hands to war and our fingers to fight  (Psalm 144:1).

I told you earlier that Hannah’s husband couldn’t comfort her, but the word did.  While Hannah was in the temple, Eli saw her lips moving, but he couldn’t hear what she was saying.  Eli assumed that Hannah must have been drinking because of the way she was carrying on in the temple, but the only thing she was pouring out was her heart to God, not wine.  After Hannah explained to Eli that she wasn’t drunk, he gave her a word.  Go in peace and the God of Israel grant you your petition that you have asked of Him  (1 Samuel 1:17).  She heard and she believed him.  It’s not that the things you are hoping for is impossible.  It may be that you got weary and stopped believing along the way.  If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believe  (Mark 9:23).  Hannah had lost hope, but after she received the word, Hannah ate and she was no longer sad.  The next morning, they got up early, worshipped the Lord, returned home and she put her faith to work (vs 19).

Elkanah went to the temple every year to sacrifice to the Lord, but I believe Hannah gave a better sacrifice.  Before Hannah gave God her son, she gave something better – herself.  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  You see, God had a plan, but He needed a willing and obedient vessel to get His plan here on earth.  For years, Hannah was just going to the temple, but now she was becoming HIS temple – a place where God could live and do what He wanted to do.  Because of the sins of Eli and his sons, God was raising up someone who would do what HE wanted him to do.  Samuel was going to be ordained as the prophet of the Lord.

To give something back to someone means you must return it to its owner.  So just in case you didn’t know, ‘it’ all belongs to God.  I think sometimes we look at giving (and not just money) as a loss – that once we give it away, it’s gone and we’ll probably never get it back again, but that’s not true.  If you don’t give what you have, that’s all you will ever have.  Look at Hannah.  All she prayed for was to have one male child, but the moment she gave him to the Lord, she received more than what she asked for.  Hannah gave her ‘first’ and only child to the Lord and He gave her five children (1 Samuel 2:21).

So many times, we want God to give us something, but what are we willing to give to HIM for all that He has given to us?  You may want a new car because you’re tired of the old one, but God may want you to use it to transport others.  You may want a home because you want your own place and you want some privacy, but God may want you to use that home to start a bible study.  You may want more money so you can buy more things for yourself, but God may want you to use that money to care for the needs of others.  Some of us think that material things are the blessing, but no – you are the blessing!

Now think about the thing you’ve been constantly praying for.  Why do you want it?  Remember, God doesn’t want to give us anything that we will honor more than Him.  He wants to only give us those things that causes us to remember Him, not to forget Him.

And if God gives it to you, will you give it back to Him?

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:27-28).

Honor God

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honor: to grant someone respect and authority in your life; high esteem made public; to treat with submission

Eli had two sons, Phinehas and Hophni. They were sleeping with the women in the temple, lying and taking the sacrifices that belonged to God for themselves.  When it was brought to Eli’s attention what his sons were doing, he rebuked them, but he allowed this wickedness to continue.  One day, a man of God went to Eli and reminded him that out of all the tribes of Israel, God chose the tribe (Levi) that he was born into to be priests for Him, to sacrifice upon His altar, to burn incense and to wear priestly robes as they served Him.  God made a promise to his ancestors that the tribe of Levi would always be HIS priests, but because Eli honored his sons more than he honored God, his family would die prematurely.

In the meantime, the Israelites went to battle and were defeated by the Philistines.  The elders of Israel had this idea to take the ark of the covenant to the next battle in hopes that it would save them.  The people carried the ark of the covenant and Eli’s sons stayed with the ark. Isn’t that something?  Phinehas and Hophni wouldn’t honor or respect God with their bodies or with their substance, but now they wanted to honor Him – because they wanted something from Him.

But God doesn’t overlook sin.  Eli was warned.  The people described in Romans 1:18-24 reminded me of Eli’s sons. They exchanged the glory of God for an image that wasn’t of God.  They did what they wanted to do.  They thought they were wise without Him.  They used their bodies for their pleasure, but not for God’s pleasure.  Because God didn’t do what they wanted Him to do, they created in their minds ideas of what God was like and what He wanted them to do.  They worshipped the god they made instead of the God who made them.

Because the sins continued, the glory of God departed. As a result, Israel lost to the Philistines, the sons died and the ark of the covenant was stolen by the Philistines.  When Eli heard the news, he fell backwards off of the seat and broke his neck. When Eli’s daughter-in-law heard about it, she died during childbirth and the baby was named Ichabod, meaning the glory is departed from Israel.

Someone once told me, God is everywhere.  He is at every church.

God is everywhere, but His glory isn’t.

Everyone likes to have ‘good church’, but God desires us to be a ‘changed church’. The glory of God is described as God’s greatness, presence, power, beauty and character, but in 2 Corinthians 3:18, we read that the purpose of God’s glory is to change us into His image.  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.  Sometimes when people read that scripture, they read it as something that will happen after we leave this earth, but this is what God wants to do in us now.

When the glory of God appears, we see God as He is.  In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord (Isaiah 6:1). He also saw seraphims crying to one another, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. He not only saw the image of God, but he saw himself and the people he hung around.  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5).  Revelation just doesn’t come so you can have knowledge of something, but it comes to bring transformation.  He saw who he was, but he also saw what he should become. This is why we need His glory.

After Isaiah confessed his sins, one of the seraphims took a live coal from the altar and laid it on Isaiah’s mouth and said, This has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged  (Isaiah 6:7)If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And that’s what He did for Isaiah upon his confession.  After Isaiah spoke, God spoke. Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Because of the change that took place in  Isaiah, God knew that when Isaiah spoke, he would be speaking for  HIM and for all of heaven. God needs someone who will say what HE said and not what they want to say.

But I don’t want to confine God’s glory to a temple (the church building) because our bodies are also called the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).  For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people  (1 Corinthians 6:16).

It has always been God’s desire to live in us and to walk in us, but we must first do something.  Come out from among them, and be ye separate (remember Isaiah was in the midst of a people with unclean lips), says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you  (2 Corinthians 6:16-17). In other words, change.  Change your ways. Change who/what you hang around.  Change what you’ve been doing.  Change what you’ve been listening to.  Change what you’ve been speaking.

Have you ever lost something good and wished you could get it back? Can you imagine what it was like when the Spirit of God departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14)?  I don’t want you and I to ever know what it feels like to not feel God’s presence or to not hear His voice.  So, we must do what Eli didn’t do.

Honor God. 

Paul urged children in Ephesians 6:2 to honor their parents.  How do children honor their parents?  By obeying them.  And just like a parent, God is honored when His children do what He tells us to do. This people draw nigh to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me  (Matthew 15:8). Honor is not just spoken.  It is shown. 

Prayer: Lord, help us to honor You in everything we do and not just what we say.

[References: 1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-36; 1 Samuel 4; Isaiah 6:1-8]

How Much Time Do You Think You Have Left?

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As of today, I have lived  approximately 23,101,457 minutes, 385,024 hours, 527 months, 2,291 weeks, and 16,042 days, but when I began to evaluate how I manage my time, I realized that I really haven’t been living.

How much time do you think you have left?

The days of our lives are seventy years, and if by reason of strength, they are eighty years (Psalm 90:10, NKJV).

You have determined the length of my days, and my life is nothing compared to You. Even the longest life is only a breath (Psalm 39:5, VOICE).

We have been given 24 hours, 1,440 minutes and 86, 400 seconds in a day.

Take a moment and answer these questions:

How many hours do you sleep in a day?

How many hours do you work a day?

How many hours do you talk on the phone a day?

How many hours you do spend on social media a day?

How many hours do you watch television a day?

How many hours do you spend doing nothing (idle)?

Examine the last ten years of your life.  Maybe you could have had two college degrees by now.  Maybe you could have been a homeowner by now.  Maybe you could have written a book by now.  If you had put aside $100 every pay period for the last ten years (if you’re paid biweekly), you would have saved $26,000 by now.

You can’t get those years back.  They are gone, but can you see the value of time? Do you remember those times you were awaken out of your sleep?  You could have read, worked on something God told you to do or prayed, but instead you rolled over to go back to sleep.  Look at how much time you gave to people that you knew wasn’t even worth your time.  Look at how long you were angry with someone.  Think about all the times you said you were bored.

Have you ever noticed that the words we use to describe how we use our time are the same words we use to describe how we use money?  We talk about spending time, losing time, wasting time, etc.  Paul even tells us to buy back time.  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil  (Ephesians 5:16)When people invest their money, they invest in hopes of receiving a return or gaining a profit.  They also expect the return to be greater than the investment.  We are to invest our time for the Lord and invest in others the same way we invest our money.

I will never be able to stand before the Lord and tell Him that He never gave me time or a chance.  Time and chance happens to them ALL (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Didn’t God give Jezebel space to repent (Revelation 2:21)?  When Hezekiah was sick unto death, didn’t God send Isaiah to tell him what he should do.  Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live  (Isaiah 38:1).  The moment Hezekiah repented (Isaiah 38:2), God told Isaiah to tell him that He heard him, He saw his tears and He added 15 years to his life.  AND I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria and I will defend this city  (Isaiah 38: 6).  For some of us, the answer to our problem is just one word – repentance.  All it takes is turning from what we were doing to what God wants us to do.  Redeem the time.

Do not spend whatever time you have left on this earth angry, sad or feeling sorry for yourself.  Make the best use of your time. Making the very most of your time on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence, because the days are filled with evil  (Ephesians 5:16, AMP).

For what is your life? It is even vapour that appear for a little time, and then vanish away  (James 4:14).

For all flesh is as grass…the grass withers  (1 Peter 1:24).

You don’t have as much time as you think you do.  I’m sure the five foolish virgins who spent their time sleeping rather than preparing for the bridegroom thought they had plenty of time until his arrival (Matthew 25:1-13).  Or what about the lord who put his servant in charge of everything (Luke 12:35-40)?  He gave him a job.  He gave him purpose.  To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven  (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  He gave him time and chance. He gave him something to do for HIS servants – not for himself – until he returned.

God doesn’t want us to stand idle in these last days (Matthew 20:6). Below are just a few things we ought to do until the return of Christ.

Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise (Ephesians 5:15).

Love one another, as I have loved you (John 15:12).

Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit (John 15:16).

As believers, we have plenty of work to do.  The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few  (Matthew 9:37).  Not only has God given us work to do, but He has given us enough time to do it.  We don’t have time to waste.  Time is precious and fleeting.  I pray that we all become good stewards of the time God has given us.  May we use every moment and opportunity to do what we were placed on this earth to do – before it’s too late.

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is (Psalm 39:4, NLT).

 

God Will Not Disappoint You

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disappointed: sad or discouraged because someone or something failed to fulfill one’s hopes or expectations

Have you ever thought you were getting a job or a promotion only to find out that you didn’t get it?

Have you ever met someone who you thought was ‘the one’ only to find out that he/she wasn’t?

Do you feel like you always get excited about something only to be disappointed – again?

God told Moses what to say to the Israelites, but he was afraid that they would not believe him.  They will say, The Lord has not appeared to you  (Exodus 4:1).  But Moses obeyed.  He returned to Egypt like God told him to.  Israel accepts Moses as their leader and he was okay with that.  Pharaoh rejects him and he was okay with that, too.  Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go  (Exodus 5:2).

But after Pharaoh told Moses no, he told the taskmasters and their officers to no longer supply Israel with straw to make bricks.  Not only did Israel have to find their own straw, but they still had to make the same number of bricks and they were beaten (Exodus 5:16).

Now Israel rejects Moses. They didn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore.  May the Lord look upon you and judge you. For you have caused us to be hated by Pharaoh and his servants. You have put a sword in their hand to kill us  (Exodus 5:21, NLV).

This was not okay.  It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.  He did exactly what God told him to do and now they were angry with him. Moses went back to God.  Not only did he tell God about how the people were being treated after his meeting with Pharaoh, but he also told God that He didn’t do what He said he was going to do.  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people and You have not delivered your people at all  (Exodus 5:23).  Moses was disappointed and he felt like God had lied to him.

Jacob also experienced disappointment.  His uncle, Laban, had two daughters named Leah and Rachel.  When I was younger, I was told that Leah was the ugly one and Rachel was the beautiful one, but that’s not what the scriptures tell us.  In fact, the scriptures only speak of one part of Leah’s body that was flawed or less beautiful than the other parts.

Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance (Genesis 29:17, AMP).

There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face (NLT).

There was no brightness to Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful shape and was lovely to look at (VOICE).

Jacob loved Rachel (Genesis 29:18).  He loved her so much that he served her father for seven years just so that he may have her as his wife, but on the day of the wedding feast, Laban gave Jacob his eldest daughter, Leah, and not Rachel.  Jacob didn’t know this until the following morning.  Can you imagine how he felt?  He asked specifically for Rachel, but instead he was given Leah.

What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?  (Genesis 29:25).

Now, Jacob was tricked by his uncle and I know that some of you think that Jacob deserved it because he deceived his own father.  Despite everything he did, God loved Jacob (Malachi 1:2, Romans 9:13) and He loves you and me, too.

I know Jacob didn’t want Leah and he was disappointed that she was now his wife.  Maybe he did feel like he deserved what happened to him because of what he did to his father and brother, but what we fail to realize is our mistakes and our plans don’t change God’s plan.  Your mess-ups can’t mess up God’s plan.  I know Rachel looked better.  It appeared that she had everything that he wanted, but what he wanted was barren, empty and unable to produce children (initially).  It wasn’t what was on the outside of Rachel, but what was on the inside of Leah that God needed.

This was God’s plan: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life  (John 3:16).  And guess whose lineage Jesus was born through?  It wasn’t through Rachel.  Abraham begot Isaac, and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brethren (Matthew 1:2).  Judah was Leah’s mother.

For some people, it feels like you’re always getting disappointed, but your disappointment didn’t come from God.  It came from the people and things you placed your hope in. Despite what Laban did, Jacob kept serving because he knew what he could have and he wanted Rachel that much.  And Jacob served seven years for Rachel  (Genesis 29:20). Do you know what God has promised? Do you want what God has promised?  If Jacob can serve someone who lied to him, we can continue to serve Someone who cannot lie.

God did exactly what He told Moses he was going to do to Pharaoh, BUT Moses had to continue to do the things that God told him to do.  Don’t stop doing what God told you to do.  Put your hope and trust in what God said.  We don’t always understand HIS plan, but He knows what He is doing.  So, before you go to God complaining about what He didn’t do, what is it that you haven’t done yet?

Maybe you prefer ‘Rachel’ (not necessarily a person, but a thing or a situation), but God gave you ‘Leah’ because Leah will put your faith to work.  Maybe you’ve been comfortable for too long and God gave you Leah to push you out of your comfort zone.  It is out of Leah that the promise will come.  God will give you favor because of Leah.  And one day, you will realize that if it wasn’t for Leah, you wouldn’t have prayed as much as you did.  If it wasn’t for Leah, you would have still been serving yourself rather than serving others.  Rachel would have only drawn you away from God, but Leah brought you closer to God.

God is not keeping any good thing from you.  I know not receiving the thing you were hoping for made you feel like a failure.  I know it hurts. I know it made you cry, but what you thought was a disappointment was really a blessing.  No one likes the feeling of rejection.  No one likes to be told no, but the promises of God are still yes and Amen.

Believe that God is good, believe that His plan is good, believe that He only gives good things, and this time you will not be disappointed.

Those who hope in ME will not be disappointed  (Isaiah 49:23, NIV).

Humble Yourself

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humble: to surrender, to subdue by self-denial, to depend on God

Naaman was described in the bible as a man who was great, honorable and mighty, but he had a problem.  He was a leper (2 Kings 5:1).  We are not told how long he was in this condition.  The bible doesn’t mention that he was trying to seek help from anyone or anything, but I’m sure like some of us, he was probably trying to figure out what to do or how to fix his problem.   I can only imagine his relief once his wife told him that her mistress knew a prophet that could heal him of his leprosy.

I know leprosy was addressed as an incurable disease, but there was a woman in the book of Numbers who was healed of leprosy.  She wasn’t born with it.  She became leprous after she spoke against her brother and God’s servant, Moses.  When Moses interceded on her behalf, God healed her.  I don’t know if Naaman had ever heard of Miriam, but he had faith to believe that he would be healed.  Had he not believed, he would have never left Syria.

But when he arrived to Elisha’s house, the prophet didn’t come outside. He sent his messenger instead to give Naaman simple instructions.  Maybe because of his position, he was used to being treated a certain way, but he didn’t get the special treatment he was expecting.  Not only was he told what to do, but he was told what will be done for him ‘if’ he obeyed.  And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean”  (2 Kings 5:10).

Naaman just didn’t have a problem with the message, but he had a problem with the messenger.  This was a servant, not a prophet, telling him what to do.  Instead of doing what he was told, he was offended and angry. But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy’  (2 Kings 5:11).

Just like Naaman, we have it all planned out and we think we know how God is going to do it, but God doesn’t think the way we think (Isaiah 55:8). Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage  (2 Kings 5:12).  Naaman thought his way was better.

Does it seem like you’re always struggling (a long effort to deal with something that is difficult or that causes problems)?  I’m not saying that we will never go through anything, but we have told people in the church, The struggle is over, but we didn’t tell them the struggle won’t be over until they do what God told them to do.

It’s so easy to blame the devil, people or God for what we’re going through, but it’s not them.  It’s you.  You are struggling because of you.  You are struggling because of the choices YOU made or refuse to make.  Your current condition isn’t incurable (not able to be changed or corrected).  Some of you have said, But I tried.  Yes, you did try – your way, but did you try it God’s way?

Naaman had good servants.  They held him accountable for his behavior.  And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?”  (2 Kings 5:13). What they were really saying was, If you were told to do something that you wanted to do, you would have done it.  You see, when Naaman left for Israel, he took ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold and ten new outfits.  He didn’t have a problem giving his money, but that’s not what was asked of him.

Sometimes, God will ask you to give the very thing that you’re holding onto or is holding you back – that is keeping you from receiving what you’re asking or praying for.  Remember the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life?  Although he had money and possessions, he knew there was something missing.  He wasn’t whole.  When Jesus mentioned the commandments, he was so proud of himself because he wasn’t doing any of those things (committing adultery, killing, stealing, lying or disrespecting his parents).  He liked what Jesus was saying at first, but then Jesus said something that he didn’t like.  Sell all that you have, distribute them to the poor, and follow Me  (Luke 18:22).  The ruler walked away sad because he was very rich.  He wanted what he was asking for, but he wanted it on his own terms.

Although Naaman didn’t want to do it, when he got tired of being in the condition he was in, he humbled himself and obeyed.  One of the reasons why people aren’t ‘healed’ in certain areas of their lives is because of pride.  Pride is when you think your way is better than God’s way.  It is when you think you are always right.  Sometimes you will have to apologize even when you didn’t do anything wrong.  Pride will tell you not to apologize until they apologize first.  Pride will never admit it is wrong.  Unfortunately, some great relationships have been destroyed because we were more concerned about being right rather than living right.

I think back to some things that God told me to do, but I didn’t do them.  The instructions weren’t hard or impossible.  They were so simple, but I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to.  I thought there was another way or a better way.  There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death  (Proverbs 14:12)

Paul was a Pharisee and he thought the things he were doing were right.  He persecuted and jailed anyone who preached or followed the teachings of Jesus Christ.  But one day as he was traveling to Damascus to put followers of Christ in jail, a light from heaven shined around him and he heard a voice.  It was Jesus.  Saul, why do you persecute Me? (Acts 9:4).  Jesus told Saul that in trying to hurt Him, he was hurting himself.  Instead of Saul continuing to do what he thought was right, he humbled himself and asked, Lord, what will you have me to do?  (Acts 9:6).

This is what God wants us to ask Him.  Maybe we haven’t asked this question because we’re afraid of what His answer will be.  He doesn’t want us to trust in ourselves, but to trust in Him and do what He wants us to do.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths  (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Health wasn’t restored to Naaman after dipping in the water the first, third or fifth time.  To see results, he had to obey God fully, not partially.  The good news is that Naaman just didn’t receive his healing, but he also learned who God is.  Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel  (2 Kings 5:15).

We are so close to the very thing God has promised us, but pride and disobedience will keep us from receiving what was promised.  Remember, God fights against those who are proud, but he helps those who are humble (James 4:6).

Humble yourself.

 

Be Faithful

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faithful: trustworthy, reliable, consistent, not changing in behavior or attitude, believing

Joseph’s brothers hated him so much that they considered killing him.  What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood?  (Genesis 37:26).  They decided instead to sell him to the Ishmeelites and the Ishmeelites then sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.

Despite what happened to Joseph, he served well in Potiphar’s house.  Potiphar saw that the Lord was with him and he later made Joseph overseer of his house.  Things were going well until Potiphar’s wife accused him of attempted rape.  Potiphar then put Joseph in prison.

While in prison, the keeper of the prison placed all the prisoners under Joseph’s supervision.  When Pharaoh threw his butler and baker in prison, the captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph and he served  them also (Genesis 40:4).  One morning, Joseph noticed that the butler and baker were sad (Genesis 40:6).  They both had a dream, but they didn’t understand it.  Joseph didn’t withhold his gift.  He interpreted their dreams.  The baker was going to be hung on a tree, but the butler would be restored to his position in three days.  Joseph told the butler that once his dream came to pass, not to forget about him.

But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon  (Genesis 40:14-15).  But the butler forgot about him (Genesis 40:23).

Even though Joseph was ready for that season of his life to be over, it wasn’t time yet.  He had to stay in prison just a little while longer. He had to be patient and patience isn’t always about waiting.  Patience is more about what you are doing while you are waiting.  Some of us are just like Joseph.  We wish God would hurry up.  We think we are ready to receive what God has promised, but God is watching your faithfulness.  God is watching what you do with the little.  Maybe the reason why you’re still where you are now  is because you aren’t ready for what’s next.

Things didn’t always go the way Joseph liked, but he remained faithful in every  season – in his father’s house, in the pit, in Potiphar’s house, and in jail.  Joseph had every reason to be angry, bitter and disappointed, but his attitude remained the same.  What Joseph went through should have hardened his heart, but he wasn’t like Naomi.  He didn’t allow circumstances and hard times to change him or his name.  He didn’t allow what was sweet to turn bitter.  He didn’t send anyone away or isolate himself from others. He worked – consistently – as unto the Lord, not unto man.  He kept giving.  He kept sowing seed, not knowing which seed was going to produce.

And one day, the gift that he gave sometime ago opened doors and brought him before a great man.  He was then made ruler over Pharaoh’s house, his substance and all the land of Egypt.  He would also discipline Pharaoh’s princes if needed and teach the elders wisdom (Psalm 105:22).

Everything he went through brought him to this season.  During the waiting period, Joseph proved to be reliable and trustworthy.  He served when it was comfortable (home).  He served when it was uncomfortable (jail).  Before he became ruler over others, he learned how to submit to those who had rule over him.

Beautiful story, right?  But the story doesn’t end there.  Remember, his dream hadn’t come to pass yet (Genesis 37:6-10). 

A famine came and it was all over the face of the earth.  This is why Joseph was sent (Psalm 105:17).  All countries had to go to Egypt to buy corn.  Jacob sent his sons (Joseph’s brothers) to buy corn because of the famine.  When his brothers came before him, they bowed before him.  Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them  (Genesis 42:9).

When Joseph’s brothers saw him, they didn’t even recognize him (Genesis 42:8).  I don’t believe it was because his looks changed.  I think it was because he changed.  Joseph had a lot of growing up to do (and so do I).  I can only imagine how Joseph felt walking around with a coat that no one else had, but he was stripped of pride and anything that shouldn’t have been in his heart or mind.  God wants to transform us in such a way that people can no longer see us, but they see Him.  Pharaoh didn’t even serve Joseph’s God, but he recognized Him.  Do you remember when Pharaoh needed someone to interpret his dreams?  He called his magicians and wise men, but they couldn’t help him.  He saw the distinction between them and Joseph.  Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit in him?  (Genesis 41:38).

We think that the dream is beautiful, but there is beauty in what God is doing in us right now.  When God completed His work, Joseph wasn’t full of pride, hate, anger or bitterness.  In fact, when his brothers gave him money for corn, not only did he return it, but he gave them more than what they had.  When Joseph’s brothers threw him in an empty pit, they sat down and ate a meal.  Joseph didn’t even have water in the pit, but he didn’t treat them the way they treated him. He opened his home to them.  He gave them water to drink.  He gave them bread to eat.  He washed their feet.  He even fed their donkeys.

And he did all of this without an apology.  It’s easy to help someone who has helped you, but can you help someone who has hurt you?  Joseph couldn’t do it on his own, but he trusted God to do it through him.  I’m amazed at Joseph’s forgiveness towards his brothers, but I’m even more amazed at his faithfulness towards God.

You may be on a job that you don’t like, but be faithful.  If God gave you a spouse, be faithful.  Maybe God told you that he was going to send help to the ministry, but it seems like more people are leaving than coming.  Be faithful.

When I was younger, I sang on the youth choir every third Sunday.  On the days I sang, I attended church twice – 7:00 and 11:00 a.m.  I remember one morning after church, the late Reverend Johnson shook my hand and called me ‘faithful’.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but the reason why he said this was because it didn’t matter who sang or who didn’t sing.  I showed up.  He knew that most young people like to stay in bed late on Sunday mornings, but I got up early even when I didn’t feel like it.

In the last ten years, I’ve quit things when it didn’t seem like it was working or it didn’t seem like it would get better or it just didn’t feel good.  I just didn’t give it time and you must give things time to grow, but I wanted God to do it now.  I realize now that I was only thinking about myself.  I wasn’t thinking about my family or the people that would need what I have.  I knew what I wanted, but I never thought about what God wanted.

Many are called, but few are chosen  (Matthew 22:14).  You are the Joseph of your family.  You were chosen.  Let God discipline, chastise and correct you now in private before He reveals you in public.  Let Him change you.  Let Him make you.  Let Him do to you what the potter does to the clay.

I’ve been called faithful before and I want to be called faithful again.

Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:21, 23)