Don’t Let the Old Keep You From the New

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It is always important to be focused when you’re behind the wheel, but I try to be even more focused when driving to a place that I’ve never been before.  I don’t even like to answer my cell phone while I’m driving because the only voice I want to hear is, ‘In one mile, turn left’ or ‘You have reached your destination’.

Because I don’t know where I’m going, I have to trust the voice of a woman on my phone – who I don’t know and have never met – to take me to a place that I’ve never been before. To reach my destination, I must pay close attention to her instructions and follow them.

It’s the same way with God. We have never been where God is wanting to take us, but we have to trust that He knows the way. In fact, He is the Way.  All we have to do is obey His instructions. 

When Jesus asked the impotent man if he wanted to be whole, he was really asking the man to make a decision. The man told Jesus that he had no one to put him in the pool when the water was troubled, but then he makes a surprising statement. But while I am coming, another steps down before me (John 5:7).

Wait a minute.

His problem wasn’t that he couldn’t move. His problem was he kept stopping.  His problem was he kept getting distracted. Have you ever noticed that the moment something new is about to happen in your life, the old comes? Old things. Things that God delivered you from. Old boyfriends or girlfriends. Old ways.

Old things are nothing but distractions.  Distractions come to confuse you, to take you in many directions (except for the right direction) and to keep you from possessing the thing that God has said He has given you. This man was at the right place. He was near the pool. He was so close, but he was more focused on the people than the pool. 

The old wants to keep you from entering into the new. It is waiting and seeking for an opportunity to enter back into your life, but this time you will be wise and not foolish. You will no longer be taken advantage of by the enemy. Though you may stumble, you will not fall.  You will please the Lord.

The enemy only brings old things. He may use a different person this time, but it’s still the same old thing. Just remember…you are new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV).

Therefore if any man be in Christ, let him be a new creature. Old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new (GNV).

Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence (GW).

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Live on What Is Left

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A woman came to Elisha crying because her husband was now dead.  Not only was her husband one of Elisha’s servants, but he was a man who feared the Lord.  Unfortunately, he owed a man money and now that man was coming to take away her sons. He was going to make them work to pay off a debt that they didn’t even owe.

The prophet asked the woman, What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in your house? She initially told him that she didn’t have anything, but then she remembered she had something left – a pot of oil. 

Sometimes when you suffer a loss (death, divorce, etc), it seems like you have nothing left. You don’t know how to move on.  Your confidence or self-esteem is low.  You’re sad. You’re angry.  But the one thing that remained in this woman’s life never lost its value.  She probably couldn’t see any good in what she was going through, but the oil was still good.  It was still worth something.  It could still be used.

Elisha told the woman to borrow empty vessels from her neighbors.  Then, he told her to take what she had left (her oil and her sons), go home and shut the door. She and her sons poured the oil in the vessels. When she asked her sons for another vessel, they told her there were no vessels, but she still had oil left.

After she followed the instructions Elisha gave her, she went to the man of God to find out what she should do next.  (Your obedience is important). Go, sell the oil and pay your debt. You and your sons can live on what is left (2 Kings 4:7, NIV). 

This woman already had what she needed, but she didn’t understand what she had.  Elisha never did anything.  He just told her what to do to show her what was in her.  She just wasn’t a woman or a mother or a wife.  She was a businesswoman.  Sell the oil.  Had he done everything for her, she would have come to him the next time she had a problem – and the next time, and the next time. 

There is nothing wrong with desiring a husband, but don’t get married because you’re lonely or because you’re tired of paying bills. This woman had no idea that her husband was going to die this soon. And he didn’t just leave her.  He left her with his problem – his debt.  The man God gives you will not be perfect.  Just like you have problems, they have problems, too.  Instead of looking for someone to complete you, become complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10).

Don’t focus on what you lost.  Focus on what you have left.  Some of us have been crying over what we lost or what someone did to us or what was stolen from us.  The enemy may have stolen some things, but he didn’t steal everything.  Take what you have left and live.  Take what you have left and give it to God. Give Him your best praise. Give Him your worship. 

If you’re going to focus on anything, focus on how good God has been to you.  Focus on how He spared you and gave you another chance.  I know some people have left you and some things have left you, but HE never left you. I will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5). 

Stop crying over what you lost and thank God for what you have left.

 

[Scripture reference: 2 Kings 4:1-7]

Where Ministry Begins

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Ministry doesn’t begin behind the pulpit. It begins behind the walls of your home.

Responsibility of the parent:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8, NKJV).

Responsibility of the husband:

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7, NLT).

Responsibility of the wife:

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate, not as inferior, but out of respect for the responsibilities entrusted to husbands and their accountability to God, and so partnering with them] so that even if some do not obey the word of God, they may be won over to Christ without discussion by the godly lives of their wives (1 Peter 3:1, AMP).

Responsibility of adult children/grandchildren:

But if a widow has children or grandchildren, they should learn to serve God by taking care of her, as she once took care of them. This is what God wants them to do (1 Timothy 5:4, CEV).

The first place to do God’s work is in the home (1 Timothy 5:4, WE).

 

 

 

Come Up

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According to Psalm 99:6, Moses and Aaron were God’s priests, but He just didn’t want them to be His priests.  He wanted the children of Israel to be His priests, also.  And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). God brought them out of Egypt to bring them to Himself.

The Lord told Moses that He wanted to speak to the children of Israel on the mount, but before they could present themselves to Him, Moses had to first sanctify them and then they had to wash their clothes. On the third day, Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, but they were not allowed to go up on the mount.  They stood at the foot of the mountain.

But when they saw the thunderings, the lightnings, the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they removed (moved away) and stood afar off (Exodus 20:18).  Moses immediately explained to them that God came to test them. God didn’t want them to be afraid of Him, but He wanted them to walk in the fear of the Lord (reverence, respect) so that they wouldn’t sin against Him.  But they chose to stand afar off while Moses drew near to God.

God picked the right person when He picked Moses to deliver His people.  I know Moses wasn’t in bondage for over 400 years, but he was a Hebrew who was raised as an Egyptian.  He learned the ways and the gods of the Egyptians too, but the difference between him and the Israelites was that he left what was behind him for Who was before Him.  By faith, he forsook Egypt (Hebrews 11:27).

One of the reasons why the Israelites kept disobeying God and going back to things God delivered them from was because they were too close to their old ways and to what was familiar.  And that was me, too.  There were doors that I kept open.  There were things and people that I refused to let go of, but what I didn’t understand was that it was those things that were hindering me and keeping me from drawing closer to God.  I didn’t understand that when I left the door open, I gave place or room to the devil (Ephesians 4:27).  I gave him an opportunity to operate in my life and to defeat me in areas that Jesus had already defeated him in.

Joseph showed us a great example of what it means to walk in the fear of the Lord. When Potiphar’s wife tried to sleep with him, he refused. My master has kept back nothing from me. He has given me everything, but he did not give me you, his wife. Because he’s been so good to me, how can I do this wickedness? How can I sin against God (Genesis 39:9, paraphrased)? The way Joseph honored Potiphar is the way we ought to honor God.  Because God has given us all things, we should give Him all of us.

The Lord is not a God afar off (Jeremiah 23:23), but some of us have been afar off from Him. God wants us to come to the mountain because the mountain is where God gives His word, laws and commandments (Exodus 24:12).  The mountain is where God wants to teach you (Isaiah 2:3). The mountain is where change takes place (Matthew 17:2).  The mountain is where God reveals (Matthew 17:5).

If Christ is in you, then you are in Him and He now calls you a new creature, but some of you are still too close to old things.  You’re too close to your past. Don’t remain at the foot of the mountain.  Come closer.  Come up higher. Let God show you who are you.  God doesn’t want you to be ignorant.  He doesn’t want Satan to deceive you and take advantage of you any longer.

When Jesus saw the fig tree, all He saw was leaves.  That was a problem because He was hungry (Matthew 21:18), but He didn’t speak to the problem.  He spoke to the root of the problem. And in the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots (Mark 11:20). Sometimes all you can see is the problem, but let God show you the root of your problem. Let Him show you what you are closest to and what is keeping you from getting closer to Him. 

And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me on the mountain and stay there (Exodus 24:12, NIV).

[Scripture references: Exodus 19 – 20]

 

Remember What the Lord Has Done for You

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After Moses read God’s instructions, laws and commands to the children of Israel, they made an agreement with their mouths. All that the Lord has said, we will do and be obedient (Exodus 24:7).

But their hearts were from far Him. Make us gods, which shall go before us (Exodus 32:1).

Throughout their journey in the wilderness, the Lord had to always remind them of what He said or what He did for them.

Don’t forget the Lord your God.

Don’t forget how you provoked the Lord in the wilderness.

Don’t forget the covenant I made with you.

Remember when you came out of Egypt.

Remember what I did to Pharaoh.

Remember how I kept you for 40 years in the wilderness.

Your clothes and your shoes didn’t wear out.

There were fiery serpents and scorpions in that great and terrible wilderness, but they didn’t harm you.

You never went hungry for I gave you fresh manna from heaven every day.

There was drought and no water, but you didn’t die of thirst.

In Judges 6, the Israelites were crying to God.  The Lord had given them over to their enemies for seven years because they did evil in His sight.  God allowed the Midianites to destroy their crops and to take everything that belonged to them – their land, sheep, oxen and donkeys. Prior to this, He warned them not to serve the gods of the Amorites once they lived in their land, but they didn’t obey His voice. 

They forgot that they had cried to the Lord before, but God sent them help (Moses).  He brought them out of Egypt.  He brought them out of bondage. He delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians and their oppressors.  He drove their enemies out and gave the Israelites their land. God set them free, but they kept returning to the things that placed them back in bondage.

I’m reminded of the man who had an infirmity for 38 years.  After he received his healing, Jesus found him later in the temple and said, You are made whole.  Sin no more, lest a worse thing come to you (John 5:14).  For Jesus to tell him not to sin any more meant that he was in that condition because of sin. I believe this is what Jesus was really saying to that man then and this is what He is saying to us now:

I forgave you.  Despite your past, I gave you a future.  Remember what I did for you.  I’ve shown you how good I am.  I gave you another chance.  You are whole now. Don’t go back.  Remember what happened the last time.  Don’t return to the thing that made you sick.  If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.  Stay free. Stay whole.  Show others what I’ve done for you so that they may know what I can do for them. 

I know sometimes we wish that God would erase all the painful memories of our past, but I told the Lord recently that there are some memories that I don’t want to forget because if I forget it, I may repeat it. 

May we always remember what the Lord has done for us.

[Scripture references: Exodus 13:3; Deuteronomy 4:23, 7:18, 8:1-18, 9:7; Judges 6:1-10; John 5:1-9, 14-15]

 

A Letter to My Brother

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Dear Brother,

People today use the word, love, loosely.

But you have found real love – through God.

Love forgave you.

Love stayed when everyone else left.

Love prayed you through some difficult times.

Love built you up, not tear you down.

King Lemuel didn’t say a good woman was rare. He said a virtuous woman was rare.  One of the definitions of virtuous is strength.  To strengthen your muscles, you have to lift, push and pull.  She didn’t gain this strength overnight.  She went through some things to become what you see today and because she didn’t give up, it strengthened her faith in God, her love for God and for you.

Please don’t take her for granted.  Remember when you were single.  Remember when you desired to be married.  You were looking.  You were searching.  When you found a wife, you just didn’t find her, but you found favor from the Lord.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22).

God has been very good to you.  Despite all the bad things you’ve done, God still gave you a ‘good thing’.  Even though you’re not perfect, He gave you what was right and perfect for you. Enjoy her (Proverbs 5:18).  Do good to her.  Respect her.  Love her.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).

Then the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him (Genesis 2:18).

Don’t let the enemy deceive you.  There are a lot of beautiful women out there and there are a lot of good women out there, but you already have the help you need. You don’t have to look anymore. 

                                                                                                                                                 Love,

Your Sister in Christ

Don’t Forget the Lord

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Before God delivered His people out of Egypt, he told them that He was going to bless them – for every tear, for every burden, and for every year of oppression.  The Israelites helped build the cities of Pithom and Rameses so that Pharaoh could store his treasure.  They made mortar and bricks and they did all types of work in the field.  It was hard and rigorous yet they were never compensated.  Pharaoh used them and never paid them for the work they did. What Pharaoh thought he was laying up for himself in his storehouses were actually being laid up for the children of Israel (Proverbs 13:22).  Yes, the Israelites were about to get paid.

And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians and it shall come to pass, that when you go, you shall not go empty (Exodus 3:21).

It took a while, but after the Lord sent the tenth plague – after the death of every Egyptian firstborn (including Pharaoh’s firstborn son), Pharaoh told Moses and the Israelites to get out and because they wanted them to leave their land immediately, they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for.

Let every man borrow (ask) of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, jewels of silver and jewels of gold (Exodus 11:2).

In Exodus 32, Moses is on the mount with God.  The Israelites thought Moses was taking too long to come down from the mountain and they were tired of waiting on him. That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt – who knows what’s happened to him?  (Some of us still get this way when it seems like God is taking too long to do what He promised or we don’t feel Him or we don’t hear Him).

Even though God had delivered them, brought them through the Red Sea on dry land and drowned their enemies, they still had a problem trusting Someone who they couldn’t see.  So, they asked Aaron to make them something that they could see.  And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron  (Exodus 32:3).  After all God had done for them, they took what God gave them and offered it for a golden calf that couldn’t speak to them the way God did, destroy their enemies, deliver them or save them. 

They thought Moses had forgotten them when it was actually them who had forgotten God. They forgot to bless the One who had remembered to bless them.  I’m sure they had probably thought about all the things they would do with their newfound wealth and yes, God gives us all things to enjoy, but the blessing wasn’t just for them.

Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them (Exodus 25:8).

This is the offering…gold, and silver, and brass (Exodus 25:3)

Despite their ways, God still loved them and He wanted to live with them, live in them and walk in them.  He wanted them to be His people and He wanted to be their God. He wanted a relationship.

After they worshipped the golden calf, God wanted to destroy all of them, but Moses interceded on their behalf and God changed His mind.  Although God was angry with them, He told Moses and the people to go to the land that He promised them (Exodus 33:1).  He made a promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and He couldn’t take His word back.  God is not a man that He should lie.  There were going to be consequences for their sin (Exodus 32:34), but they were going to enter the land – because of a promise.

Some of you think that God has forgotten you, but He hasn’t.  Has He said, and will He not do it  (Numbers 23:19)?  Because of a promise, God is going to bless you – for every hurt, every disappointment, every tear.  Some of you were even underpaid and treated unfairly on your jobs, but God is going to restore.

And when God does it, don’t forget about Him.

Beware that in your plenty, you don’t forget the Lord and begin to disobey Him (Deuteronomy 8:11, TLB).