The Day God Used a Child

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One day after church, I was standing outside with two adults and a small child. As I was talking to one of the adults, the child asked me a question. I won’t repeat what he said, but let’s just say this child ‘called me out’. I was shocked, embarrassed and speechless.

I couldn’t believe he had just spoken to me that way, but what really made me mad was that the two adults standing by were his parents and they said nothing. They didn’t correct him nor did they apologize to me. So, what did I do? I accused the parents of talking about me in front of their child, but they both denied it.

I knew I was doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing, but I couldn’t figure out how this child knew what I was doing. I thought no one knew. I thought no one saw me, but the Lord opened the mouth of a child to open my eyes.

In Numbers 22, Balak, the king of Moab, saw what the Israelites did to the Amorites and he was afraid. He knew a man named Balaam and he knew that whoever Balaam blessed was blessed and whoever he cursed was cursed. He then sent his messengers (with money) to Balaam so that he might place a curse on the people that God called His people. Balaam told the men that he would talk to God and then tell them whatever God told him. God made it very clear to Balaam that the people Balak wanted to curse were blessed and he was not to go with Balak’s men.

The next day, Balaam told the men that God didn’t give him permission to go with them so Balak made a better offer and it sounded really good. Not only did he offer riches and honor, but he offered to do whatever Balaam asked. Balaam knew what God said the first time, but he went back to God concerning the same thing to see if He would change His mind.

God told Balaam to go with the men if they called him the following morning, but when Balaam went with Balak’s men, God became angry. I don’t believe God would tell him to go and then be angry because he went. Maybe it wasn’t about who Balaam went with, but about why he went with them. In 2 Peter 2:15, Balaam is described as a man who loved the wages of unrighteousness (wrongdoing; wickedness; doing harm).

While Balaam was traveling, the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way. The angel drew his sword to kill Balaam three times, but each time the donkey protected him. Balaam beat his donkey each time because he couldn’t see what his donkey saw and he didn’t understand what she was doing.  But after the third beating, the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey and then He opened Balaam’s eyes.

The reason why God used a child that day was because when He spoke to me, I wouldn’t listen to Him. He used adults, but I wouldn’t listen to them so He used someone that I least expected. He used someone who I didn’t think He would use. Because I refused to put away childish things, He used a child to speak to a child (me). It may have been a little boy’s mouth, but it was God’s words.

God saw what I couldn’t see. He saw me going in the wrong direction and He knew the way I was going would have either killed me or destroyed me. Yes, Balaam’s foot was crushed against a wall along the way, but he lived to repent for the things he had done.  He was given another chance and so was I.

I wanted to discipline that child the same way Balaam disciplined his donkey, but it wasn’t the child that needed rebuke.

It was me.

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You’ve Been in This Long Enough

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Although you remember what happened the last time you disobeyed God, the enemy will try to convince you that if you do it again, the next time will be different, but that’s a lie. The truth is if you do it again, the result will either be the same as the last time or it may be worse.

The longer you disobey God, the longer you will stay on ‘this mount’. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful that when we don’t pass the test, God allows us to take the test again, but when will we get tired of taking the same test? When will we get tired of going around the same circle?

You have dwelt long enough in this mount (Deuteronomy 1:6, KJV).

Jesus defeated our enemies. He stripped principalities and powers. He exposed them publicly. He brought them to open shame. He won victory over them. He showed the world that our enemies are powerless. He led them away as captives. He took from them what was taken from Adam and gave it to us. He received power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing (Revelation 5:12) and then he gave them to us.

Don’t let the enemy trick you. Every time I obeyed the flesh or the devil, something God gave me was stolen. I gave back to the enemy what God gave to me. But Jesus didn’t lose and we’re not going to lose – anymore. Turn and take your journey and go to the mount of the Amorites and to all the places near (Deuteronomy 1:7). God gave the Israelites specific instructions, but nothing happened until they did what He told them to do.

Staying on ‘this mount’ is a choice. You can move at any time, but you must make up your mind.  You don’t have to remain here when there is something far better ahead of you. What God promised you is near. It is not afar off, but you must decide and do what He told you to do, not what you want to do.

You have dwelt long enough in fear, doubt, shame, hurt, disappointment, unforgiveness and anger. Don’t let these things keep you from possessing what God promised you.

Just Receive

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receive: to be given something; to come in possession of something; to accept from another by hearing or listening; to be a recipient; to act as a container for

The Jews argued among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (John 6:52-53).

When those who followed Jesus heard him talking about eating flesh and drinking blood, they probably thought, This man is crazy. Is this some type of cult?  Although they heard him, they didn’t understand him. This is a hard saying: who can understand it? (John 6:60). And because they didn’t understand, they complained and many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him.

For my flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed (John 6:55).

Those who heard the words of Jesus should have been able to relate to what he was saying because he was speaking their language. They knew about offering sacrifices according to the law. Words such as flesh and blood were familiar to them, but they still missed it.

For years, they had been sacrificing animals for their sins, but what they were doing didn’t last because they had to do it again and again. But now the Word was made flesh (Jesus).  God sent Jesus to become both the High Priest and the sacrifice. And even though he would only sacrifice himself once, that one time would last forever.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword (Revelation 1:16).

Before Jesus was pierced, he was laid on the cross. Before the priest cut the animal, it was laid on the altar. Prior to the priest cutting the animal, all he saw was the outer, but the moment he cut the animal, what was inside of it was exposed for all to see. This is what the word of God does. It exposes thoughts, motives and intentions of the heart. It shows us who we really are. In Genesis 1:4, his word divided the light from the darkness.

In order for the word to do what it was sent out to do, it will require us to lay down our will and our ways. It will require us to become a living sacrifice. It will require us to say like Jesus said, Not my will, but Your will be done. Just like the followers in John 6, some of us were raised to think a certain way – at home and in church. We were taught to believe a certain way and to do things a certain way for years, but some of the things we’ve been doing hasn’t worked.  

Jesus wasn’t asking them to do something that they were used to doing. He wasn’t asking them to purchase and to sacrifice another animal. In fact, he wasn’t asking them to give Him something. He was asking them to receive something. Receive change. Receive the words of the Father and receive what His Son came to do for them.

If you don’t understand a thing, then ask for understanding and God will give it to you. I know it’s different, it’s not what you’re used to and you always do it ‘this way’, but don’t walk away from God or reject what He said because you don’t understand what He’s doing or because it doesn’t make sense right now. Anytime God sends His word, He sends it to help you, not to harm you or offend you.

Just receive it.

 

[Scripture references: John 6:51-66; John 1:14; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 10:1-14; Romans 12:1]

Let God Rebuild You

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rebuild: to build something again after it has been damaged; repair; to return something to its original state

The Jews were imprisoned and enslaved for 70 years in Babylon.  When they were led captive, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, burned and destroyed God’s temple, the walls and gates.

We’ve read and taught about the broken walls, but have you ever thought about the broken people who returned to Jerusalem after 70 years? The temple was later rebuilt, but the walls and gates were still in the same condition – broken down and burned. Because of this, the people were in great affliction and reproach (Nehemiah 1:3). These people were hurting. They were ashamed of the condition of their city. All they could see was devastation, loss, defeat, ruin, and rubbish.

I know it sounds like what they went through was bad, but it was actually for their good. You see, the reason why they were in captivity was because they disobeyed God. If you transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations (Nehemiah 1:8). But God didn’t leave them. He didn’t reject them. He just waited for them to turn back to Him (Nehemiah 1:9).

While enslaved in Babylon, I believe they realized how good God was to them – that He wasn’t unfair or hard (when compared to the Babylonians).  They realized how much He loved them. They learned that it was better to do what He told them to do rather than to do what they wanted to do. What God allowed the Babylonians to do to them wasn’t to harm them, but to help them. Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good (Deuteronomy 8:5, NLT).

But before there was a rebuilding, there had to be repenting.  Nehemiah confessed his sins and the sins of Israel (Nehemiah 1:5-11). He just didn’t tell the Lord ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Forgive me’.  He acknowledged what they did and admitted that it was wrong.

The people that returned to Jerusalem after captivity was called the remnant (Nehemiah 1:3). They were the ones that remained.  They survived.  Even though it didn’t feel good (the results of disobedience), they endured the chastening. Someone once said that if disobedience got you in the situation you’re in, then obedience can get you out. So true!

For years, I believed a certain way, I thought a certain way, and I behaved a certain way.  Just like Eve, I knew what God said, but because what I heard sounded good and what I saw looked pleasant to the eyes, I disobeyed God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they hid and sometimes we hide because we think that God doesn’t want to look at us anymore. We’re ashamed of ourselves and what we’ve done so we think God is mad at us or ashamed of us, but God says, If you return to Me, I’ll return to you.

I couldn’t see things clearly because of the walls (lies) that the enemy had built in my life, but every time I hear a sure word or receive revelation concerning something I’m dealing with now, the walls begin to fall. God is tearing down every belief, thought and lie of the enemy so that He can build me the way He wants me to be. Is not my word like as a fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29)?

God wants to take away the old so He can give you something new – a new heart and a new spirit. He wants to remove the stubborn heart and replace it with an obedient heart (Ezekiel 36:26).  Some have lost strength along the way and some have lost their trust and faith in God and in His word, but God is able to restore and rebuild those things, too. 

Let God rebuild you so that you can help rebuild others. 

Let Us Do Better

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When Moses sent out men to investigate the land that God was giving Israel, ten spies came back with the report of how strong the people were that lived in that land. One of the people that they were referring to were the Amalekites (Exodus 13:29).  These were the same people that attacked Israel right after God had delivered them from Egypt. They waited until Israel was tired and weary and they targeted those who were weak, who had fallen behind and were isolated from the others (Deuteronomy 25:18). When God brought Israel out, He brought them out wealthy (Exodus 3:21) so I’m sure they robbed Israel as well. Shortly after the attack, Israel fought the Amalekites and won, but God promised that He was going to destroy every Amalekite for what they did to His children (Exodus 17:14-16, Deuteronomy 25:17-19).

Israel wanted a king. God didn’t think it was a good idea, but He gave them what they asked for. In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel, a prophet of God, anoints Saul as king. It was time for God to fulfil the promise He made to his children and He was going to use Saul to carry it out.  I remember what Amalek did to Israel, how he waited for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass (1 Samuel 15:2-3). This scripture proves to us that God is not forgetful. Maybe it’s been years since God said it, but God loves you, He has not forgotten you nor has He forgotten the promise He made. If He said it, He shall do it.

Saul just had one job, but he didn’t do everything God told him to do. He spared the king of the Amalekites and he kept the best sheep, oxen and lambs and all that was good (1 Samuel 15:8-9). God told Samuel what Saul had done and now Samuel was grieved and cried all night to the Lord. The next morning, Samuel goes to meet with Saul. When Saul sees Samuel, he tells him of his obedience, but all Samuel hears is disobedience.  What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? Saul then blames his men. THEY have brought them from the Amalekites. And then he assures Samuel that the animals weren’t for him, but they were to be sacrificed to the Lord (1 Samuel 15:15).

Even after Samuel explains to Saul what he has done, Saul still tells him that he obeyed God, but the people didn’t (1 Samuel 15:20-21). Saul heard what God said yet he spared the king of Amalek.  He also saw what the people were doing yet he refused to stop them. He was king, but He allowed the people to do what they wanted to do.

And Samuel said, Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to listen than to offer the fat of rams (1 Sam 15:22).

Samuel never said that the sacrifice of animals wasn’t good, but his obedience would have been better. God never asked Saul for sheep or lambs. Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).  God wanted his body. He wanted total obedience.  He wanted holiness. When you obey God, you sacrifice (or kill) your will and your ways.

There have been things God told me to do in the past and just like Saul, I did some things, but I didn’t do everything He told me to do. The sad part is that I wanted God to overlook my disobedience, but to accept my sacrifice. But Lord, look at the other things I’ve done for you. The only way to please God is to give Him what He wants, not what you want to give Him.

The Amalekites lived on the southern part of the land that God promised to give to Israel, but before Israel could possess the land, Saul was told to kill everything. I know that the enemy doesn’t want us to get those things that God promised us, but in studying this passage of scripture, I realized that it’s not always the devil or people that are trying to stop me, but it’s me and my disobedience that keeps me from ‘possessing the land’.

One of the things that God told me recently was, If you can’t obey Me, I can’t trust you. And if God can’t trust me, then He can’t trust me with the things that He wants to give me.  Anytime God tells you to do something and you don’t do it, you just don’t reject His word, but you reject Him. When Saul rejected God’s word, God rejected Him as king.

But we will not be like Saul. We will kill it, let it go, cut it off and we will separate ourselves from those things that separate us from God’s will. We will honor God and we will honor the ‘Samuels’ He has placed in our lives.  

At one time or another, we have all done what we thought was good, but let us do better.

To obey God is better than sacrifice.

A Time to Speak

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I was listening to a sermon recently. Well, just a snippet. In his message, the pastor talked about how he had always preached about the conversation between Eve and the serpent in the garden as if Adam wasn’t there and he often asked the question, Where was Adam?

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her and he did eat (Genesis 3:6, KJV).

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it (NIV).

The pastor went on to say that based upon the above scripture, Adam wasn’t absent, but he was silent. After listening to the message, I thought about myself as well as the body of Christ.  Is this the present-day church? Have we become silent? Have we become weary and stopped saying what God said?

And the woman said to the serpent, we may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die (Genesis 3:2-3). Both Adam and Eve heard God say the same thing. Adam knew that what the serpent said was not what God said, but he said nothing.

I know that some things will take place on the earth because it is written and the scriptures must be fulfilled, but what about those things that we have allowed to happen on the earth because we stopped speaking or stopped praying.  Instead of waiting until something tragic happens and posting ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with you’ on social media, how about we bind, cancel, rebuke and pray against evil plots and plans before they happen? Our community, our nation, our leadership and our children – our future – need us to speak up. They need us to pray. 

I know what it’s like to stop speaking the word or praying for things I was believing God for. The reason why I stopped was because it seemed like nothing was going to happen. Maybe it’s God’s will.  But years later, I realized that the reason why those things didn’t come to pass was because I stopped speaking. You have not, because you ask not (James 4:2). I gave up – not because I was tired, but because I was lazy. Things weren’t happening fast enough and I got discouraged while waiting, but let me show you why it’s important to keep speaking and to keep praying.

Bless the Lord, you his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word (Psalm 103:20).

After Herod had killed James, he had arrested Peter, but the church never stopped praying to God concerning Peter (Acts 12:5). The night that Herod was planning to bring Peter to trial, Peter was sleeping, but the saints were praying.  While he was sleeping, an angel of the Lord appeared, struck Peter on his side and told him to get up.  When he got up, his chains fell off his hands. The angel then told him to clothe himself, put on his sandals and follow him. They passed the first and second guard. When they approached the iron gate that led to the city, the gate opened on its own. After walking down one street, the angel left Peter.

And when Peter had come to himself, he said, Now I know that the Lord has sent his angel and has delivered me out of the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews (Acts 12:11). Many had gathered together to pray on his behalf and while they were praying, the answer to their prayers (Peter) knocked on the door (Acts 10:12-13).

Something does happen when we pray.

Another example is when Belteshazzar (Daniel) fasted and prayed for understanding. It didn’t seem like anything was happening, but he didn’t stop praying. Finally, God sent an angel to Daniel to let him know that from the first day he spoke, his words were heard and that he had come for his words. God had already answered his prayer, but there was a fight going on for 21 days (Daniel 10:12-13).  While the angel was fighting to get the answer to Daniel, there was another fighting to block or to keep the answer from getting to Daniel.

Some of us thought that God didn’t hear us, but He did hear you. The enemy knows he can’t stop God so he’s trying to stop you – from believing God and obeying God.  He wants you to give up, but this is not the time to faint. This is the time to pray. Men ought always to pray, and not to faint (Luke 18:1).

If you have stopped speaking God’s word, start speaking again. It’s not that you are waiting on the angels to do something, but they are waiting on you to say something. We aren’t always obedient, but His angels are always obedient and they are ready to do what God said. They know His voice and they are waiting to hear the voice of His word. It’s time to give God’s word a voice.

It’s time to speak.

Happy Father’s Day!

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I remember some years ago being angry with my dad and blaming him for some things. I thought that if he had done some things differently, then my life would have turned out differently.

But one day, I became a parent – and you know what?  I’ve made mistakes and poor choices that may or may not have affected my children.

I realize now that my dad did the best he could for his family.  At that time, I was so focused on the wrong that he did that I forgot about all the things he did right.

As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, I just wanted to make a list of some of those ‘right’ things.

1.    He married my mom.

2.    He was never lazy. He was a hard worker.  He worked six days a week.

3.    Instead of making other people rich, he learned how to make money for his family. He became a business owner (without a college degree).

4.    He didn’t send me to church. He made sure I went to church with him every Sunday.

5.    He attended PTO meetings.

6.    When I went to college, I had no idea what financial aid was.

7.    When I divorced my husband and didn’t have a place to stay, he opened his home to his two grandchildren and me. (He didn’t have to do that. I’m sure he was happy he finally had the house all to himself).

8.    In recent years, he always thanks me and tells me how much he appreciates the things I do for him.

But the best thing I remember about my dad is:

9.    He moved his mother in with him to help take care of my sister and me after my mom’s passing (I was 13 months old).  When his mother was no longer able to take care of us, he made sure she was taken care of until the day she died.

With all the flaws, mistakes and shortcomings, my dad is still a great man. (He will be turning 83 years old next month).

Whether your dad is present or absent in your life, be grateful that God used him to get you here. I pray that the love and forgiveness extended to you from your Heavenly Father teaches you how to love and forgive your earthly father (as well as the father of your children, ladies). May God restore broken relationships to those who are estranged from their fathers and to those whose fathers have passed away, may you experience God’s strength, comfort and healing this weekend.

Happy Father’s Day – today and every day!