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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.

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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!

While You’re Waiting

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The Lord told Joshua that he was giving him and the children of Israel the city of Jericho, but how was this going to happen? The walls were high, the gates were tightly shut, and the children of Israel were unable to enter in. 

After God told them what He was going to do, He told them what they needed to do.  Every day for six days, they had to go around the city one time. They could not shout or make any noise.  They didn’t complain about what they had to do every day.  They didn’t complain about what hadn’t happened yet.  They didn’t speak in unbelief.  They believed what God told them and remained silent for six days.

They got up early in the morning, marched and then returned to the camp.  They did the same thing every day – over and over again. They kept obeying God. They didn’t quit.  They were consistent.  They remained faithful even when it seemed like nothing was going to happen. 

But the wall was still standing.

I know a lot of us don’t like to wait for anything, but there will always be something you have to wait for.  You have to wait in line. You have to wait until the light turns green. You have to wait in traffic.  You have to wait until the food is prepared.

The Israelites had to wait patiently for the walls of Jericho to fall.  Hebrews 6:12 tells us that we must imitate or follow those who inherited the promises of God through faith and patience.  Maybe you haven’t received some things (yet) because you won’t let patience have its perfect work.  

Lord, when are you going to do it? I’m tired of this. I’m ready for this to be over. You’re taking too long 

If you can endure and learn to wait, James 1:4 tells you all the things that you will become.  But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  Change will take place. You will be spiritually mature. You will grow from what you’re going through. Your faith will be fully developed and you will be ready to receive those things you have been waiting for. 

On the seventh day, the children of Israel didn’t march around the city one time.  They marched seven times, the priests blew their trumpets, the people shouted, and the wall fell down flat.  

I know some of you want to give up, but I pray that God won’t let you. You’re probably doing everything you can to get out of your current situation.  You’re trying to move.  You are looking for a new job every day, but nothing is happening.  That’s because God is not going to let you get out of this one prematurely.  That situation that you don’t like is the very thing that is helping you to grow.  God allowed Joseph to be placed in the pit and he couldn’t get out until someone lifted him out of it.  God also allowed him to be placed in prison and Joseph had to stay there until someone released him. 

The quicker you can humble yourself, the quicker God can exalt you. 

Joshua and the children of Israel taught us what to do while we are waiting – obey God.  Some of you know what God said, but you are not looking at the word.  You are looking at your situation.  You are looking at the environment you live in and it looks like what God said will never happen, but it doesn’t matter who is occupying the city right now or how long they have been there.  It doesn’t matter how wide or how high the walls appear.  Don’t worry about how long it’s been or how long you’ve been waiting.  No matter how securely shut the gates are, nothing can keep God’s promises out.

So don’t be impatient, don’t be anxious and don’t give up. Wait on the Lord, and while you’re waiting, encourage yourself, encourage others and God will strengthen you as you obey Him.

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).

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).