Month: April 2016

God Hasn’t Changed His Mind About You

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Cross Design Ministry Background Valley

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? (Psalm 8:4, ESV)

I just want to encourage someone today who thinks that God is disappointed in them, that they will never please God or that they will never be who God called them to be.

There were times where I felt like God picked the wrong person and it wasn’t too long ago that I laid across my bed asking God to take my life. I think You made a mistake.  I’ll never get it right.  I’m always messing up.  I was asking God to give up on me, but He couldn’t break the promise He made to me long ago.  I’ll never leave you nor forsake you  (Hebrews 13:5).

Not everybody is sent by God, but just like Jesus, you were sent into the world by Your Father to do His will (John 3:16; John 16:28; John 4:34). In Acts 2:22, Jesus is described as a man approved of God by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did by him. Jesus couldn’t do nothing on His own and He only did what he saw his Father doing.

God planned for us to be like His Son (Romans 8:29). He wants us to obey Him like His Son did and not only does He want us to do the works Jesus did, but greater. You were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and He knows what He chose when He chose you. He knew you before you were in your mother’s womb. He knitted you together. He knows the number of hairs on your head. You were called according to HIS purpose and He approves of those He called. You are not a mistake. You were planned.

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called and whom he called, them he also justified and whom he justified, he also glorified  (Romans 8:30).

We don’t always understand God’s ‘picks’, but He chooses what the world considers foolish to shame and confound the wise. He deliberately chooses men and women that the culture overlooks, exploits and abuses. He chooses these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’ (1 Corinthians 1:27, MSG).

God is doing what He promised, but sometimes He does things in a way that you and I don’t like or understand. I’ll give you a good example. Another change took place on my job recently and I didn’t like it. When my supervisor told me that she was moving me to another area of the office, I got angry. This was the third time they were moving me. Did I have to move furniture? No.  Did I have to move boxes? No.  So why was I upset? Well, when I first started working there, I was in the very back of the office. Then, they moved me to the front office, but I was in the corner (hidden), but this time they moved me to the very front where I’m now visible to the public – and this made me uncomfortable. I was so focused on what my supervisor did to  me that I couldn’t see what God was doing for  me. He literally promoted me from the back to the front. He was trusting me with more responsibilities. He was putting me on display – and I didn’t even realize it. I totally missed it.

My point is this – God said months ago that promotion was coming and He didn’t change His mind. He did what He said. You may look at it as nothing, but how we react to the little  promotion reveals whether or not we are ready for the big  promotion. I’m sure at one time you received a letter in the mail stating that you were qualified or pre-qualified for a credit card. Well, just because you are qualified, doesn’t mean that you are approved. The credit card company or bank has to run your credit report first before you can be approved. It must be proven…and we must be proven also.

But getting back to what I was saying earlier…

God is not against you. He is for you. Even if others won’t forgive you, know that Christ has forgiven you. If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. You have been cleared of all guilt. You have been made  the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Whatever the devil has accused you of or keeps holding over your head is being thrown out of court today. Whatever he knows about your past will not be used against you to discredit you in the future. The blood of Jesus has erased your name from every demonic court case and file. Any evidence he can use against you has been erased. You will not be tried or judged by the wicked. Jesus is Your Defender. He has settled your case and the devil has lost – again.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes and in some cases, they weren’t mistakes. I deliberately disobeyed God, but He hasn’t given up on me. In fact, God recently reminded me of something He told me over 20 years ago. He hasn’t forgotten me and He hasn’t forgotten you nor has He forgotten what He said concerning you. That promise or word that came out of the mouth of God has not been altered. He hasn’t changed His mind. What He has promised to give you is still for you – IF you want it.

Sometimes we don’t understand why God loves us so much and sometimes we don’t feel worthy, but to God, we never lost our value. You are still precious to Him. You are His beloved, you will be just like His Son, and you will hear Him say that He is well pleased with you.

God hasn’t changed His mind about you so don’t you change your mind about Him…He loves you.

Don’t Despise the Chastening of the Lord

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de·spise: strongly dislike; have no respect for

chas·ten: to correct by suffering; to purify; to prune; to cause one to be more humble

My dad was very strict growing up. He wouldn’t let me do anything I wanted to do, but my older sister got to stay out all night. She got to go places I couldn’t go. It wasn’t fair. Why did he treat me differently than my sister? How I wished I could be like everybody else. I wanted to do what everyone else was doing, but my dad wouldn’t let me.

I remember the day my dad came to visit me after the birth of my first child. As he sat in the living room looking at me holding my daughter, I thanked him for being hard on me. I thanked him for not letting me hang around just anybody. No, I didn’t like it then, but I appreciated it now. His love and his ‘no’ protected me from many things.

Have you ever wondered why God wouldn’t let you have something that you really wanted or why He wouldn’t let you do whatever you wanted to do?

In Hebrews 12:5, God speaks to us as His sons (and daughters) and we should feel honored that He calls us son. Not only did He choose us (John 15:16), but He adopted us into His family (Ephesians 1:5). All of God’s children receive correction and discipline. No one is exempt. Even though you are an adult  now, you are still a child – of God. You may be grown, but you’re not too grown to receive correction. And just because He calls you His child, doesn’t mean that He doesn’t expect you to grow up.

Our parents chastened us for a few days (Hebrews 12:10), but God corrects us all of our days here on earth. They corrected us based on what seemed good to them. God corrects us based on what is good for us. They did what they thought was best, but God knows what is best. Everything He does is for your good. God doesn’t love us by giving us whatever we want. He loves us by disciplining us. If He didn’t care about you, He wouldn’t correct you. His discipline is proof that He loves you.

No chastening for the present seem to be joyous (Hebrews 12:11). It may seem grievous to us, but what about God’s Spirit? We grieve Him when we don’t obey Him. No, we don’t enjoy being disciplined. It won’t always feel good, but you will see the good that comes from it. It hurts at the time because He doesn’t want us to repeat it, but He wants us to learn from it. God wants us to bear good fruit and after you learn the lesson from His chastening, it produces the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

The only time Jesus wants us to become like little children is when we humble ourselves as children. Everything is not going to always go our way. You may not always understand what God is doing, but He’s not trying to harm you. So don’t get mad with God. Don’t take it personal when He corrects you. If you believe that God is good, you should also believe that what He is doing in your life is good. There is no reason to be sad. Happy is the man who God corrects  (Job 5:17). Don’t lose heart or give up because of rebuke. Endure God’s chastening because what you endure is disciplining you.

Both Matthew and Mark wrote about a woman who had an alabaster box of very precious ointment, which was used to anoint Jesus. Because the disciples didn’t understand what she was doing or why she was doing it, they became angry and asked why she wasted the ointment when she could have sold it and given the money to the poor. Jesus immediately rebuked His disciples for bothering the woman, but it was Judas who took offense and later betrayed Jesus. Don’t be like Judas. Don’t let offense, anger or anything separate you from God or from the love of God.

God is not against you. He is for you (Romans 8:31). God is not punishing you. He is training you. You are going somewhere (in Him) and God is training you up in the way you should go. He’s training you to be a leader, a parent, a spouse. He’s training you for success. He’s training you to be trustworthy, faithful and obedient. Jesus had to learn obedience also, but it was from the things He suffered. You may not like the way God deals with you, but this is how God treats His children. Sometimes the enemy will tell you that no one loves you, but you are loved. If He didn’t love you, He wouldn’t discipline you. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten  (Revelation 3:19).

The reason why you are treated differently is because you are different. You are not like everyone else. God doesn’t have spoiled children. He that spares his rod hates his son, but he that loves him, chastens him early  (Proverbs 13:24). He doesn’t wait until it’s too late. He starts disciplining and training us early.

When Jesus rebuked the winds and the sea, they obeyed Him and when He rebukes us, we are to repent and obey Him also…

Don’t despise the chastening of the Lord.

Finish It

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Finish line painted on asphalt

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sit not down first, and count the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  (Luke 14:28)

I was 23 when I got married. I think I got married seven or eight months after meeting him. I’m not sure why there was a rush, but we didn’t take the time to get to know each other. We lived in two different states. There was no pre-marital counseling. I can’t speak for him, but I know I didn’t count the cost and before we reached our first wedding anniversary, my vow changed from ‘I do’ to ‘I don’t’. I was ready to pack up my things and move back home. The only reason why I stayed as long as I did was because my dad wouldn’t come and pick me up. (You laugh, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

When I said my wedding vows, I was just repeating what the preacher said. I never thought about what I was saying or what those words meant. I made a promise in the moment that I couldn’t keep once I was out of the moment. Preparing the wedding was easy, but I didn’t know what it took to build  a marriage and I didn’t know the work  that was involved in staying married. It’s easy to be faithful and committed for better, but what about for worse?

Jesus never told anyone who made the decision to follow Him that it would be easy.

And a certain scribe came and said unto Him, “Master, I will follow You wherever You go”. And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:19-20).

And He said unto another, Follow Me, but he said, Lord, let me first go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God (Luke 9:59-60).

In Luke 14, Jesus was teaching great multitudes about discipleship. The number of people following Him increased, but Jesus wasn’t impressed by the numbers. Not everyone following Him wanted to be discipled. To become a disciple, you had to be made a disciple and not everyone wants to go through what it takes to be made. Jesus tells them three things that will keep them from being true disciples:

1)  If your relationship with others (parent, spouse, children, etc) can easily affect your relationship with Him and if you can’t love Him more than you love your own life, you can’t be His disciple (Luke 14:26).

2)  If you are not willing to endure whatever may come, you can’t be His disciple (Luke 14:27).

3)  If you don’t forsake or give up all, you can’t be His disciple (Luke 14:33).

To explain it further, Jesus used three examples: building a tower, a king making war against another king and salt. Let’s address the builder. First of all, you must save your money because it takes money to build a tower, but this is not the only cost you must consider. Building a tower also takes time. How long will it take?  It requires a lot of work. How many hours a day will you invest in this project?  Also, you can’t do this alone. You will need the help of others (architects, contractors, landscapers, etc). Can you be trusted with this task? People are depending on you. You can’t just quit on them. Yes, the enemy will tell you that it’s too hard. He will even send people to discourage you – to get you to focus on what you see (or don’t see yet).Things may go wrong in the building process and things may not go as smoothly as you thought it would, but that doesn’t mean you should ‘pack your bags and go back home’. This is not the time to quit! Preparing the site and laying down the foundation is the easy part, but will you be able to finish what you started?

You got saved through faith. If it took faith to start, it is going to take faith to finish. Count the cost. You will have to invest time in reading your bible and in much prayer. You will need the support and help of other believers (Hebrews 10:25). It will not always be easy. In this world, you will have tribulation, the world will hate you, you will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake, you will be betrayed, men will say all manner of evil against you falsely (for Christ’s sake), but you will have to learn how to endure some things. Endure means that you don’t let anything or anyone stop you. What you go through may seem difficult, but don’t stop. Go through it patiently. If you decided to believe God yesterday, then decide to believe Him today and believe Him tomorrow. Do not quit. Stand firm in the faith so that you can say what Jesus said – It is finished.

There was a time when many of Jesus’ disciples went back and walked no more with Him (John 6:6). Some of us are thinking about going back because someone offended us at church or your marriage failed or you lost your job or because God’s way seems too difficult. He has already promised that He will never leave you. Don’t leave Him just because it feels like He left you. He never left.  God is telling us the same thing that Elijah told the prophets of Baal – Make up your minds! If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him  (1 Kings 18:21).

Are you ready to fully commit yourself to Him? Are you ready to present your whole body as a living sacrifice? If you are going to follow God, follow Him all the way. He doesn’t want you to put your hand to the plow in the beginning only to look back in the middle. Anyone who does this is not fit (useful or qualified) for the kingdom of God. Last month, I was sad and disappointed about something and the Lord said to me, Just because you haven’t received what you prayed for yet, doesn’t mean that I don’t care. I cared enough to spare you. He had a very good point. If you don’t get the things you want or if things don’t go the way you think they should go, will you still love Him? Will you still trust Him? Will you still obey Him? Or will you leave Him also?

You may not understand the price Jesus paid, but what He endured was worth it and when you count the cost of following Him, you will realize that it is worth it also. To follow Christ will cost you something, but the cost of following Him is much better than the cost of not following Him.

Be encouraged…and finish it!

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith ~ 2 Timothy 4:7

There Is Nothing Stopping You

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Yesterday morning, I put some of my daughter’s belongings on the floor. When she came into the room, she just stood there like she couldn’t get to the other side. From where I was standing, it looked simple and easy to me. She had a choice to either go around it or go over it, but maybe she couldn’t see this from where she was standing. (Sometimes you have to change your position). When I got tired of her standing there, I finally said, There is nothing stopping you.

Apostle Paul knew what he used to be.  I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man  (1 Timothy 1:13). And he knew that people didn’t forget what he did.  Lord, these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you  (Acts 22:19). He even consented to Stephen’s death, but he didn’t allow what he used to be to stop him from becoming what he would be.

He was a Pharisee (Acts 26:5), very intelligent and didn’t lack knowledge, but God didn’t want him and He doesn’t want us to be people who study the word, but yet refuse to become what we read about. You study the scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very scriptures that testify of me yet you refuse to come to me to have life  (John 5:39-40).

To many, Paul was a horrible person, but God knew that what he did was out of ignorance and unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13). Inside of Paul was the wheat and tares and God allowed them to grow together, but at the right time He showed mercy and separated them. People may have counted him out, but God counted him faithful, putting him in the ministry (1 Timothy 1:12). After all the awful things he had done to God’s people, Paul didn’t think he deserved to be called an apostle, but by the grace of God I am what I am  (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Are you still trying to figure out what kind of life you should live? Well, God wants you to live a life that pleases Him and that will reveal His Son to others. This is why it’s never good to compare your life with the lives of others or to wish to be someone other than who God created you to be. 2 Corinthians 10:12 tells us that whoever compares themselves to another are without understanding and are not wise. There is nothing wrong with desiring more in life, but those things that you are lusting after doesn’t make you great. You will never find greatness outside of you because it is already in you. Greater is He that is in you.

Comparing can make you feel bad about yourself. It steals your joy. It makes you feel like you’re losing while everyone else is winning. When you don’t know what you should be doing, it’s easy to become angry with those who are doing. Instead of trying to become what you think people want you to be, ask God the same question Paul asked Christ – What will you have me to do?

Comparing also reveals how ungrateful we are and that we really don’t like God’s plan for our lives, but despite how you feel, God still loves you and although you can’t see it right now, His plan for you is good. It’s all about how you see yourself and this is the area that the enemy attacks a lot of us in. He wants you to see yourself as a grasshopper even though there is a Giant in you. You may think that you are a mess or just like my daughter, all you can see is a mess before you, but God can turn your mess into a message. He will give you grace to get to the other side and He will even tell you in bits and pieces how to get there. When Paul asked Jesus what he wanted him to do, Jesus didn’t tell him everything at first. He told him to go to the city and once he obeyed that instruction, then He would tell him what to do next (Acts 9:6). Don’t think God isn’t doing anything. He is doing what He said, but He’s not doing it all at once. He is doing it in stages. Stages are steps of a process. Each step is maturing and developing you and proving you trustworthy and faithful to the call.

Just like Paul, God wants to make you a witness for Him. Do you remember the woman at the well? Many of the Samaritans believed because of her testimony. Yes, the enemy will send things to stop you from becoming what God separated and called you to be, but even what he sends can’t stop you. Sometimes it is what you think about yourself that stops you, but think yourself victorious. You may have failed in certain areas, but you are not a failure. Let your past (even the tares) be a testimony to many that God not only changed you, but He can change them, too. You have a bright future ahead of you because the blood of Jesus has separated you from your past. You know what that means? Not even your past can stop you! So let us thank God that He didn’t erase our future because of our past, but that He erased our past because of our future.

There is nothing stopping you.