Month: February 2017

Don’t Go Back

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Exodus 2:23 tells us that the cry of the Israelites went up before the Lord due to their bondage.  They were tired of what they were going through.  They were tired of the abuse, the beatings, the burdens, and unfair treatment.  God heard and He answered their cry.  The Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall see them again no more forever  (Exodus 14:13).

One moment, they were praising God for rescuing them (Exodus 15:1), but later they complained and wanted to go back to the very thing that made them cry.  How could this be?  According to Exodus 12:41, it had been 430 years of slavery.  They had lived this way for a long time and they were set in their ways.  Things weren’t that good, but it was the only life they had known.  It was familiar.

They brought up the past a lot.  They talked about what they missed in Egypt – the fish, cucumbers, lemons, leeks, onions and garlic.  I believe they wanted what God promised, but I don’t think they liked the way He was taking them to get to the promise.  They also weren’t patient, but it is only through patience and faith that one inherits the promise (Hebrews 6:12).  One example of this was when Moses took too long on the mount.  What did they do?  They went right back to their old ways and asked Aaron to make them gods.  If they served the Egyptians, it is possible that they also served their gods.

God wants to do a new thing, but some of us won’t give God a chance.  As soon as it feels like nothing is happening or will ever happen, we consider going back to old things – old relationships, old conversations, old habits.  We’d rather walk by what we see or feel than walk by faith.  Some of us haven’t received the things God promised because we don’t want to let go of our old ways.   Jesus warned against putting new wine in old wineskins because the old wineskin is not in the best condition to receive something new or something good.  It is not fit for its use or purpose. You see, new wine forces the wineskin to expand, but if the old wineskin can only stretch to a certain point because of its poor condition, then it will be ruined and lose whatever it is given.   But unlike old wineskins, we can stretch, grow and change – IF we want to.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

If you’re single and desire to be married one day, sometimes it will feel like you will never meet him or her.  The devil will try to make you feel like there’s nothing better than what you used to have.  For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness  (Exodus 14:12).  But the devil lied again.  It wasn’t really that good.  The temptation to settle or to go back to a relationship or something from your past (that wasn’t good) will come and although the wait seems long, I will tell you what God told the Israelites:

You must not go back that way ever again  (Deuteronomy 17:16).

When a person considers going back, it’s because he doesn’t believe that there’s something better ahead.  Unfortunately, some people have returned to old things not knowing that ‘one more time’ could be their ‘last time’.  The very thing that God delivered you from is looking for an opportunity to come back in your life, but this time it won’t return alone.  It will bring seven other spirits and you will be in worse shape than before.  The King James Version describes it as the ‘last’ state (Matthew 12:45).

You will be left behind if you keep thinking about what you left behind.  Let it go and let go of the way YOU do things.  Your way isn’t always the right way and sometimes it is our ways that get in the way.  Your ways are not My ways  (Isaiah 55:8).

New wineskins don’t resist new wine.  It allows the new wine to change its form.  It works with it.  It expands with it.  When Jesus told Simon and Andrew to follow Him and he will make them to become fishers of men (Mark 1:17), He never told them what to leave.  They just knew that what they had was no longer needed – not for where Jesus was taking them. And straightway they left their nets, and followed him  (Mark 1:18).

Unless you’re going back to apologize or to give thanks, don’t go back.  What God has is better than what you once had.

 

Let It Be

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Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:38, NJKV).

God sent an angel to Mary.  Gabriel told her she was going to become a mother.  You shall conceive in your womb  (vs 31).  He also told her what she would carry and who He would become.  He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest  (vs 32).

All of this sounded good, but Mary had one question.  How can this be?  (vs 34).  How was she going to have a baby?  She was a virgin and she wasn’t married yet.  The angel explained to her who would do the work – the Holy Ghost (vs 35).  It wouldn’t be by her power or by Joseph’s might.  It would be by HIS Spirit.

The angel knew that what he told Mary sounded impossible so to build her faith, he told her about her cousin (vs 36).  Elizabeth was barren and too old to be a mother. No one ever thought she would have a child, but in three months she was going to have a son.

The impossible is possible – with God.

The angel said what God told him to say.  Now, Mary had to make a decision.  According to Luke 1:38, she decided to serve the Lord.  I am the servant of the Lord.  Mary had no idea what she was about to go through.  She didn’t know that she would have to leave her home, leave their families and flee to Egypt during the night to protect her son.  Even though Simeon prophesied that she would suffer as though she had been stabbed with a sword, she didn’t know that meant watching her son being mocked, beaten, spat on and crucified.  My point is this: Even though she didn’t have all of the details, she surrendered.  She trusted God.  She wanted what God wanted and she was willing to do whatever He commanded.  Her response to God was, Use meDo what You want, not what I want.

Maybe God has told you what you are going to do for Him and who you are going to become and just like Mary, you either looked at your past or your present condition, and wondered how.  How is this going to happen?  I don’t have a college degree.  I don’t have a spouse.  I don’t have that much money in the bank.  I don’t know anyone who could help me. I don’t speak very well in front of people.

But I will tell you what Gabriel told Mary.  The Lord is with you  (vs 28).  You don’t have to be afraid.  You were chosen for this.  What you are carrying and will bring forth is great.  What you must go through is going to save and deliver many.

Stop running.  Stop resisting.  Stop fighting God and let it be – according to His word.  Let it happen.  Stop trying to figure it out.  Stop thinking about yourself and think about those who are hurting.  Think about those who are bound.  Think about those who are not saved.  This isn’t about you.  Forget about your plans and find out what His plan is.  Make a decision.

Mary’s mind was made up. 

It didn’t matter that Elizabeth was old or that Mary wasn’t married.  God is able to perform what He promised.  No word from Him will ever fail.  If He said it, then He will do it.  All He needs from you is your obedience.  All He needs is a ‘yes’.  What has been hard for you is not too hard for the Lord.

Maybe you’re thinking about what happened the last time.  Like Simon, you tried and nothing happened.  We have toiled all night and have taken nothing  (Luke 5:5). You were disappointed.  You had enough.  You were even thinking about giving up.

But, try again.  Trust God again.  Nevertheless at your word, I will let down the net  (Luke 5:5).  Sometimes we have this picture of how the ministry, the marriage, the career, or the children should be, but let go of what or how you think it should be. You have to believe that what God wants to give you is better than what you’re holding onto.  Let it go and…

Let it be.

Don’t Quit

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quit: to stop, leave a place or person, let go, to admit defeat

I know the one thing Jesus had against the church of Ephesus was that they left their first love, but He saw their works, their labor and their patience.  He knew that they had not given up.  Despite the long wait, they continued to serve Him.  They were patient.  They kept going.  They kept trying.  They suffered for the sake of His name without quitting.

If you’re going to quit anything, quit giving up. 

I know you are wondering, When is God going to do it?  When will it come to pass?  For some of you, it feels like you’ve been waiting for a long time, but I want to encourage you with these words: The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise (2 Peter 3:9).  You may think that He is late, but everything God does is at the right time.

Some of you reading this want to quit.  You want to quit church.  You want to quit that ministry.  You want to give up on that marriage.  You want to give up on that child. You want to walk off that job.  I know it seems like nothing is happening.  It seems like God isn’t doing anything, but He is always working (John 5:17, NLT).

The reason why some of you can’t quit is because God won’t let you.  Don’t you realize how far you’ve come?  Don’t you realize that God has been with you all the way?  You can try to give up.  You can try to run and hide from what God has called you to do and to be, but just like Peter, people will recognize you because you can’t hide that light under a bushel.  I don’t care how dark it seems in your life.  It is not able to put out the light that is in you.

But a certain maid saw him (Peter) as he sat by the fire and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him (Luke 22:56).

And after a little while another saw him and said, You are also of them (Luke 22:58).

And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean (Luke 22:59).

It wasn’t long ago that I was lying on my bed thinking about all the poor choices I made, the people I hurt, the people that hurt me, the things I’ve lost and the things that were stolen from me.  I was comparing my life to others.  I was giving up.  I was asking God to give up on me.  I began to think that every word I read in the bible and every word spoken to me were lies.  (Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about).  But even though I was ready to let Him go, He wouldn’t let me go.  He wouldn’t leave me alone.

At this point in your life, you couldn’t walk away even if you wanted to because His lovingkindness keeps drawing you back.  Every time you said you weren’t going back to church, you went right back.  You started praying again.  You started believing again.  Just when you thought you couldn’t go any further, God gave you new strength to go on and to press on.  In the last few months, God has proven Himself to me.  I cannot deny Him or His existence.  Even when things weren’t going good in my life, He remained good to me.  He never left me.  He was with me and is still with me.

Listen.  Don’t beat yourself up about the past and don’t feel sorry for yourself.  Think about the steps and strides you have made.  Yes, you have failed some tests, but think about the great testimony that will come out of what you’ve been through.  Think about the people who will be set free and delivered because of your testimony – because you refused to give up.  You may not be what you should be, but you’re not what you used to be either.  You may not be where you want to be, but you will get there –

IF you don’t quit.