Month: December 2016
There are some people who fall, but get right back up again. Then, there are others who fall, but have a harder time getting up. Sometimes it’s not what people have said about you that keeps you down, but what you think about yourself that keeps you down.
In John 5, the writer tells us of a sheep market or gate in Jerusalem. Sheep were led through this gate to the temple where they were sacrificed. The sins of the people were placed upon the sheep to cleanse them of their sins, but right next to the gate was a pool, called Bethesda, filled with a lot of people – a great multitude – who needed to be cleansed of their sicknesses. They were impotent, blind, halt and withered. Some of them became a burden to others because they had to be carried, lifted and transported from one place to another. These people were overlooked, forgotten, abandoned and rejected. No one wanted them while they were not well. Where were their families? Where were their friends?
But Jesus was there.
One of the people lying at the pool was a man who had an infirmity for thirty eight years. The scriptures didn’t tell us that he had been this way since birth, but thirty eight years was too long. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). Jesus knew how long he had been in that condition and asked him if he wanted to be made whole. The man told Jesus, Sir, I have no man to put me in the pool (John 5:7). Not only was he waiting for the move of the water, but he was waiting on someone to carry him into the pool. He sounded helpless, but he also sounded like he was blaming others for his current state. If someone would have put me in the pool, I wouldn’t be here. I’m still sick because of them. It’s their fault. But Jesus never asked this man about other people. He asked a question so that the man may examine himself, not others.
Jesus didn’t say it to this man, but I believe He is telling a lot of us this: You could have been up a long time ago. In fact, you should have been walking by now. Don’t get me wrong. I do believe God will carry you, but at some point He wants you to learn how to walk. He wants you to grow up and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop thinking everyone is against you. Stop regretting what happened. Stop living in the past.
Sometimes, just like this man, we’re waiting on a person. We’re waiting on someone to do what God says we can do. We’re waiting on the pastor to do it. We’re waiting until the wife comes or the husband comes and then we’ll do. We’re waiting until the money comes and then we’ll give. Why don’t you give what you have now? Why don’t you do what God has told you to do now? If you’re not doing anything with little, why would God trust you with much?
Jesus didn’t take him by the hand and lift him up like Peter with the man who was lame from his mother’s womb (Acts 3:7). Instead, He gave him a word. Rise, take up your bed, and walk (John 5:8). The impotent man believed he would receive his healing through the water, but he received it through the word. God doesn’t always heal or perform miracles the way we think. We expect Him to do it one way, but He may do it another way. What I want you to understand is this: Jesus told him to do something, the man did it and he was immediately made whole. This man literally walked in obedience and in faith. Had he not obeyed the word, he would have never received his healing. No one had to carry him anymore.
I can be so hard on myself. Sometimes I beat myself up like a drum. Seriously. But falling doesn’t mean failure. I’m learning now that had I not fallen, I would have never learned how to walk. For the last few months, I’ve been praying Psalm 51:10. Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me. I’ve also been asking the Holy Spirit to help me move on and let go of things (and people). Will the enemy remind you of things you did to someone or things someone did to you? Yes, but every day I am choosing to forgive – and that includes myself. Jesus has already made me free (Galatians 5:1), but now I must choose to walk in that freedom. It’s a choice.
You will recover from where you have fallen. You are going to make it. Time is too precious. Don’t spend another moment living in regret, worry or anger. This man walked for the first time in thirty eight years – and so can you! It doesn’t matter how many times you have fallen. You’ve been lying there long enough. Rise again. Take up your ‘bed’. Don’t use excuses anymore. Don’t blame anyone for what happened to you…and walk.
For though I fall, I will rise again (Micah 7:8).
And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him (Joshua 6:5).
You can’t avoid hurt. It happens. Either you will hurt someone or someone will hurt you – and it’s not always intentional.
In the Old Testament, walls were used to keep out enemies. Today, people build up walls to protect their hearts. Maybe you’ve met someone who was labeled as being guarded, stuck up or standoffish, but what they really saw were walls. These walls are like the wall of Jericho. Nothing good could go out and nothing good could come in. Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in (Joshua 6:1).
The enemy builds a wall in your life using bad experiences. Every brick has a name – hurt, rejection, shame, and disappointment as well as many others, but his walls are built on lies, not truth.
It’s my fault.
No one will ever love me.
I’ll never get it right.
I’m not smart enough.
The walls we use to keep out hurt really hurt and isolate us. When Jesus withdrew himself, he did so to pray – not to keep himself from being rejected or hurt. Had he isolated himself from others, the woman with the issue of the blood would have never touched his garment and receive her healing.
Oftentimes, we use walls to hide behind anger and hurt, but you can’t heal what you hide or cover. He that covers [his sins] shall not prosper (Proverbs 28:13a). Walls blocks out the light (truth) and this keeps you from learning and growing in the Lord. It keeps out the truth about yourself and causes you to believe something that is not true, which is deception. How we see or think of ourselves is very important. For as he thinks in his heart, so is he [in behavior] Proverbs 23:7, AMP.
Living behind these walls is imprisonment. It limits you causing you to only go but so far. All you do is go around and around in a wall – repeating the same cycle and the same mistakes. To be fully effective and used the way God wants to use you, the walls must come down. God can use the hurt and whatever else you had to go through to build a testimony. You can and will overcome by the word of your testimony, but this means you must talk from a place of victory, not a victim.
God told Joshua, Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, I have given you (Joshua 1:3). He gave him a promise. Even while Jericho was securely shut up, the first thing God told Joshua in chapter six was, See (Joshua 6:2). It didn’t matter what happened. It didn’t matter who did it. It didn’t matter how things looked at that very moment. God wanted Joshua to see himself possessing the land. I have given unto your hand Jericho.
God had already given it to him, but there was something Joshua and the people had to do for the next seven days for that promise to manifest. Do not be discouraged if the walls do not come down on the first day or the seventh day. Remember, this wall wasn’t built in a day. It was built over a course of years. It may have begun at birth (rejection or abandonment) or after losing a loved one (grief, sorrow) or maybe after a divorce (brokenhearted).
Like Joshua, believe God and believe what He said. Despite the bad, believe that He will complete the good work He began in you. Believe that by His stripes, you were and are healed. Believe that no weapon formed against you will prosper. Believe that God will restore the years.
If you truly want to be free from the walls the enemy built, ask God what you need to do and then do it. Don’t do it and then stop because nothing has happened yet. Do it until your expectation is fulfilled.
Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God and lay it to the root of every bad tree and every lie and cut it down – and watch every wall that the enemy built fall down.
One day, Jesus told a parable of a certain man who had two sons (Matthew 21:28). The man went to his first son and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard’.
- Go (move, take a different course).
- Work (assignment).
- Today (now).
I’m not sure what these men were doing when their father called them, but he apparently had a different plan for them – to work in HIS vineyard. It reminded me of when Simon Peter and Andrew were casting their nets to catch fish and Jesus told them, Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Prior to the invitation, they had been working for themselves and for their families, but this day Jesus called them to work for his Father.
The man didn’t ask his sons if they wanted to go. He told them to go. This wasn’t about what they wanted to do. This was about what he needed them to do. He sent both of them to his vineyard to plant and to water so that it would bring forth fruit. The first son’s response was, I will not. Initially, he didn’t want to change. He was stubborn and disobedient, but afterward he repented and went. The man went to his second son and said the exact same words. The son said, I go, sir, but he never went.
The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few (Matthew 9:37).
God just doesn’t want us to attend church every week. There is work to do. Just like Joseph, God has sent us ahead of the famine (Psalm 105:16-17). There are people who have a need and God needs us to be in our place to meet their need. God doesn’t want us to be like the second son who hears the word, but refuses to do the word.
The first son almost missed a great opportunity, but he believed and went to his father’s vineyard. The second son saw his brother go to work. He saw the change and the ‘fruit’ of his labor, but still refused to change. To be honest, I don’t think he wanted to work. I think he is like some of us who just expects our Father to do everything.
If faith does not have works [deeds and actions of obedience to back it up], it is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective] (James 2:17).
God told Abraham that a great nation would come out of him. He was going to make his name great. And not only was He was going to bless him, but He was going to make him a blessing. How do we know that Abraham believed God? Because He obeyed God. He moved toward the promise God made. He went to get what God had given him. Some of us have missed out on things that God has promised us because we refuse to do the first thing He told us to do.
Your blessing is in the obedience.
Maybe God is not telling you to leave a certain location or to walk away from some people, but maybe you need to leave the lies that the enemy has told you – what you can’t do and what you will never be. Sometimes there are things such as hurt and unforgiveness that are keeping us from moving forward. Joseph could have blamed a lot of people for what he was going through – his brothers, Potiphar’s wife and the butler who forgot about him. It seemed like the people who he was sent to help, only hurt him. My point is this: The longer he stayed angry and bitter, the longer he would have stayed in prison (mentally). And in Joseph’s case, he didn’t have a lot of time to waste. A famine was coming and his family as well as many others needed him to be free from prison.
In John 5:4, an angel would go into the pool at a certain season so it was important that one be ready at all times. Whoever stepped in the water first after the angel troubled the water would be made whole of any disease he had. I don’t know how long the impotent man had been lying at the pool, but he had an infirmity for 38 years. According to this man, he kept missing his healing because someone would always step down before him. One day, Jesus saw the man lying at the pool. He knew how long he had been in that condition and He gave him another opportunity to be healed, but the man had to want it. Do you want to be whole?
It’s not too late for you. God has not counted you out. A missed opportunity doesn’t have to be a lost opportunity. Another opportunity is coming to you. I believe God is going to do something even greater in this next season. And just like the impotent man, He doesn’t want any of us to miss it. He wants you to be a part of what He is doing. In fact, He wants to do it through you. He wants to use you greatly in this next season. He wants to make you whole. He wants to restore years to you.
If you believe it, then do the thing that you’ve said in your heart, I’m not going to do it or I’m afraid to do it or I don’t want to do it. Maybe some of you are thinking, I’ve done what the Lord told me to do and nothing has happened yet. The key word is yet. It may not have happened the last time, but it will happen – if you don’t faint. Try it again. Believe Him again. God wants you to see His goodness.
Don’t miss it!
You are they which have continued with me in my temptations (Luke 22:28).
When Jesus made this statement, none of His disciples had deserted Him yet. No one had denied Him yet. They were the ones that had remained when everyone else had left (John 6:66). The Lord tells them furthermore what has been appointed for them in the future, but before they could share in His glory, they had to first share in His suffering. Then He said to Peter, Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not; and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren (vs 31-32).
If Satan is asking about you, it’s because you are a threat to his kingdom. He knew Peter was a threat. He knew that Peter (just like Jesus) was sent to destroy his works. He wasn’t afraid of what Peter was doing now (works). He was afraid of what Peter was going to do (greater works). Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto my Father (John 14:12). One day, Peter would be filled with the Holy Ghost. He would no longer deny Christ, but he would receive holy boldness. The sick would even be brought into the streets so that when he passed by, his shadow (with healing power) would fall on some of them.
The word, sift, means to examine thoroughly so as to isolate that which is important or useful. It means to separate and to scatter. This is what the enemy wanted to do to Peter. He wanted Peter to separate and isolate himself from God and the brethren (the people who could help and strengthen him). He wanted to take away the very word that was sown in his heart. The enemy knows that all things are possible to him that believes and this is what he wanted to attack – his belief and his faith.
I know that Peter heard what Jesus said, but I’m not sure that he understood what He was saying. He then told Jesus, Lord, I’m ready to go with you, both to prison and to death (vs 33). After Peter spoke these words, the test came.
While Jesus was praying in Gethsemane, he told his disciples to pray that they don’t fall or enter into temptation (just for one hour), but instead they slept. When Jesus was arrested, Peter became fearful and followed from afar. He didn’t just deny Him one time, but He denied Him three times. While Peter spoke the third time, the cock crew and the Lord turned and looked at Peter (vs 61). He then went outside and cried. I know if it was me, I would have been beating myself up, thinking that Jesus was mad or disappointed in me.
But one day, an angel told Mary Magdalene and Mary (the mother of James) to tell Jesus’ disciples AND Peter, Jesus is going to Galilee ahead of you and you will see him there as he told you (Mark 16:7). Can you imagine how Peter felt? The angel called Peter by name. Jesus wanted to see him, too.
I have called you by your name and you are Mine (Isaiah 43:1).
Before my son’s basketball games started, he would tell me about his practices. One day, he told me he was sore. Another day, he told me he sprained his ankle. My thought was, If basketball brings that much pain or discomfort, why won’t he just stop playing? So I asked, Why are you still playing basketball? What makes you go back to practice? He said, It makes me stronger. (That was from the mouth of a 14-year-old).
In order for your faith to grow from little to great, it has to go through something. It has to be tested. Many in the Old Testament were made strong and became mighty through faith (Hebrews 11:34). The enemy is after your faith because it is your faith that wins the victory over Him and the world (1 John 5:4).
And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us. And if we know He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (1 John 5:14-15).
Don’t throw away your confidence. Have faith in God. He is not a man that He should lie. Don’t beat yourself up about things you have done or said in the past. Remember the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet? Luke described her as a sinner (7:37). Her sins were many, but Jesus forgave them all (7:47). Just like Peter, you are going to make it because Jesus is sitting on the right hand of the Father praying for you. The sifting and the testing didn’t destroy Peter. It only made him better and stronger. And because he was strong, he could now bear the infirmities of the weak and strengthen others.
You may have failed in some areas of your life, but your faith is not going to fail.