Before God delivered His people out of Egypt, he told them that He was going to bless them – for every tear, for every burden, and for every year of oppression. The Israelites helped build the cities of Pithom and Rameses so that Pharaoh could store his treasure. They made mortar and bricks and they did all types of work in the field. It was hard and rigorous yet they were never compensated. Pharaoh used them and never paid them for the work they did. What Pharaoh thought he was laying up for himself in his storehouses were actually being laid up for the children of Israel (Proverbs 13:22). Yes, the Israelites were about to get paid.
And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians and it shall come to pass, that when you go, you shall not go empty (Exodus 3:21).
It took a while, but after the Lord sent the tenth plague – after the death of every Egyptian firstborn (including Pharaoh’s firstborn son), Pharaoh told Moses and the Israelites to get out and because they wanted them to leave their land immediately, they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for.
Let every man borrow (ask) of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, jewels of silver and jewels of gold (Exodus 11:2).
In Exodus 32, Moses is on the mount with God. The Israelites thought Moses was taking too long to come down from the mountain and they were tired of waiting on him. That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt – who knows what’s happened to him? (Some of us still get this way when it seems like God is taking too long to do what He promised or we don’t feel Him or we don’t hear Him).
Even though God had delivered them, brought them through the Red Sea on dry land and drowned their enemies, they still had a problem trusting Someone who they couldn’t see. So, they asked Aaron to make them something that they could see. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron (Exodus 32:3). After all God had done for them, they took what God gave them and offered it for a golden calf that couldn’t speak to them the way God did, destroy their enemies, deliver them or save them.
They thought Moses had forgotten them when it was actually them who had forgotten God. They forgot to bless the One who had remembered to bless them. I’m sure they had probably thought about all the things they would do with their newfound wealth and yes, God gives us all things to enjoy, but the blessing wasn’t just for them.
Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them (Exodus 25:8).
This is the offering…gold, and silver, and brass (Exodus 25:3)
Despite their ways, God still loved them and He wanted to live with them, live in them and walk in them. He wanted them to be His people and He wanted to be their God. He wanted a relationship.
After they worshipped the golden calf, God wanted to destroy all of them, but Moses interceded on their behalf and God changed His mind. Although God was angry with them, He told Moses and the people to go to the land that He promised them (Exodus 33:1). He made a promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and He couldn’t take His word back. God is not a man that He should lie. There were going to be consequences for their sin (Exodus 32:34), but they were going to enter the land – because of a promise.
Some of you think that God has forgotten you, but He hasn’t. Has He said, and will He not do it (Numbers 23:19)? Because of a promise, God is going to bless you – for every hurt, every disappointment, every tear. Some of you were even underpaid and treated unfairly on your jobs, but God is going to restore.
And when God does it, don’t forget about Him.
Beware that in your plenty, you don’t forget the Lord and begin to disobey Him (Deuteronomy 8:11, TLB).
clean: free from contamination, free from guilt, separated from anything that makes one unclean
Before the priests could enter the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, they had to wash their hands and feet in the outer court. They had to appear before God clean.
I recently asked the Lord to make me clean and the reason why I asked Him to do this is because sometimes we engage in things that corrupts us (Exodus 32:7). You may immediately think I’m talking about sexual sins, but sometimes it is our conversations that corrupts us. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:29).
Then, I began reading about lepers in the bible. Leprosy is spread by direct contact and the reason why lepers were in the condition they were in was because of what or who they touched. But sometimes, leprosy was a result of indirect contact (no physical touch). For example, Miriam became leprous when she ‘touched’ God’s servant, Moses, with her mouth by speaking against him.
The Pharisees and scribes thought Jesus and his disciples were unclean because they didn’t practice the tradition of the elders, which was washing their hands before eating bread. In the tabernacle, you had to first wash yourself at the laver before you approached the table of showbread and according to Leviticus 24:9 and Matthew 12:4, it was lawful for priests to eat the shewbread. The Pharisees and scribes thought they were in the Holy Place and Holy of Holies because of what they knew, but they were still in the outer court because of Who they didn’t know and because of what was in their hearts. Jesus then explained to them that it wasn’t what was on the outside, but what was on the inside – in a man’s heart, that made him unclean.
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defiles (make unclean) the man (Mark 7:21-23).
God doesn’t want us to be people that appear righteous to others outwardly, but full of hypocrisy and sin inwardly (Matthew 23:28). For so long, we’ve been focused on what it looks like or what we look like – the outward appearance, but let God clean you in the inside first. If you only clean the outside of the cup, then it’s not really clean – and no one wants to drink from a dirty cup.
Not only did Jesus loved us, but he washed us from our sins in His own blood and He made us priests to God (Revelation 1:5-6).
That he might present it (the church) to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27).
I believe we all want to be healed from something, but the question is: Do you want to be clean? Do you want to stop doing the things that made you sick, depressed, brokenhearted and unclean to begin with? God doesn’t want us to be like the pig, who after it is washed, returns to the mud again (2 Peter 2:22).
I have asked the Lord to clean me, but I am also asking for His help to stay clean.
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make clean (Matthew 8:2).
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).
How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word (Psalm 119:9, NLT).
Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:17).
In Luke 5, Jesus tells Simon to go out where it was deeper and let down his nets. Simon wasn’t by himself. His partners, James and John (the sons of Zebedee), were also with him. When they did what Jesus told them to do, they caught a lot of fish and their net broke (vs 6).
In John 20, the disciples are having a meeting with the doors locked for fear of the Jews. Jesus had now risen from the dead and he came to the disciples while they were meeting and said, Peace be unto you; as my Father has sent me, I am sending you. After he said this, he breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Ghost (vs 22).
In John 21, Simon Peter goes fishing again. The other disciples (Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee and two others) decide to go with him. Again, they caught nothing. This time Jesus appears to them on the shore. This is his third appearance after the resurrection. He doesn’t call them his disciples or his friends, but instead he calls them children and asked if they had any meat (vs 5). They said, No. Jesus then tells them that if they throw the net on the right side of the ship, they will find fish.
They threw the net, but they were unable to pull the net back in the boat because there were so many fish. In fact, they are described as dragging the net (vs 8). Simon Peter then helps draw the net to land (vs 11).
What caught my attention was that even though they caught 153 fish that day and they dragged their net, the net did not break (vs 11). It did not tear. No fish escaped. They lost nothing.
I’m sure if some of you read and study these passage of scriptures, the Lord will reveal something different to you, but this is what the Lord shared with me.
I blessed you before, but you lost some things. But if you will let me do what I want to do – if you will let me fill you the way I want to fill you, this time when I bless you, you will lose nothing.
Your net will not break.
On this past Monday, the Lord shared with me what it really means to serve at my church. Serving is more than just teaching Sunday school or singing on the praise team. Sometimes serving is sweeping the church, vacuuming the carpet, picking the trash off the floor, just to name a few.
I work with some pretty cool people on my job, but there is one young lady who started recently that is teaching me a lot about attitude and character. First of all, she was hired for one position, but right now the company needs her to work in the area that is needed the most. What I love about her is that no one has to tell her what she needs to do and she does what is asked of her. She doesn’t complain, she is very helpful and always cheerful.
One day, a patient told her that one of the public restrooms needed to be cleaned. She never turned around and said, I’m not doing it. Who wants to do it? She immediately found gloves and cleaned the mess. Yes, the new girl!
Now, I’ve been there for almost four years and if it was me, my attitude would have been, They don’t pay me enough to clean no restroom. That is not in my job description.
But that’s the wrong attitude. You see, I want God to trust me with doing the ‘big’ things, but He is not going to give me the ‘big’ things until I faithfully do the ‘little’ things. Maybe your attitude was like mine. You don’t think you should do certain things. You think you’re better than that. That’s not your job. That’s someone else’s job. But the truth is – we’re not better than anyone else. If I clean at home (without pay), then what was the problem?
To serve means to obey. It also means to be of use – not when you feel like being used, but when you are needed. Sometimes you will have to go out of your way. Sometimes it will be inconvenient for you, but convenient for others. We don’t see it this way, but when you serve, you become the answer to a problem. Isn’t that what we want to be? An answer and not the problem. People have enough of their own problems. They are looking for an answer.
One of the things managers and pastors love is when they don’t have to always tell you to do something. They like it when you don’t wait for someone else to do it, but you see what needs to be done and you do it.
Even though the Lord was dealing with me about serving at my church, we should also serve well at home, on our jobs or wherever God sends us. Our attitude should be that we are doing it for the Lord, not for people (Colossians 3:23). Serve Him with gladness. Become a cheerful giver (and not just with your money). Don’t offer Him sacrifices that are blind, sick, or broken (Malachi 1:8; Leviticus 22:22), but give Him what You want Him to give you. Give Him your best!
I was raised a certain way and there were areas of my life where I needed to be disciplined, but I wasn’t disciplined. I’m not blaming the people who helped raised me, but for most of my life I’ve been like the ones who stood idle, waiting for someone to ‘hire’ them (Matthew 20:6-7). I didn’t look for something to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10). I waited for someone to tell me what to do.
But even though I’ve been that way for a long time, you know what?
I can change.
I know the moment I got saved, the Holy Spirit entered me, but years later I was asking to receive the filling of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:1-4). It didn’t happen immediately, but I didn’t give up or become frustrated because I knew that God wanted to give this to me. All I had to do was ask.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13)
At that time, I didn’t understand the purpose of being filled. All I remember is that I heard a very close friend of mine pray in a heavenly language and I wanted that. What I didn’t understand was that God wanted me to do more than just speak in tongues.
My pastor started teaching about the gift of the Holy Ghost last month and when I began to compare my life with those who were filled in the bible, I realized something was wrong – not with them, but with me. I had been walking in fear for years, but those who were filled, walked in the spirit of power, love and a sound mind. What was I afraid of? Was I afraid of being ‘fully’ led or controlled by His Spirit? Did I really think I was in control of my life? (Well, I need to fire myself because apparently, I haven’t been doing a good job of managing my life).
I also noticed the repeated cycles and patterns in my life – the ‘tricks’ I kept falling for. I realized the inconsistency and unfaithfulness. I would start a thing, but never finish. I know the Lord sees that I’m trying to live right. I’m trying to do this and I’m trying not to do that and that’s good, but the thing that God wants to do in me and through me will not be done by my power or might. It will only be done by His Spirit.
I now realize that I was no different than the Israelites in the wilderness. What I’ve been trying to do for 40 years, God could have done in 11 days – by His Spirit. It shouldn’t take you 40 years to forgive someone! It shouldn’t take you 40 years to walk in your calling! (I’m just saying).
It’s not that I’m not saved. I am. It’s not that I didn’t receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. I did, but God wants to complete the ‘good work’ He started. It started with salvation, but He wants to do so much more in my life and in the life of others. He wants to anoint me with the Holy Ghost and power so that I will go about doing good and healing those oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). If I am filled with His Spirit, I will be led by His Spirit (Luke 4:1). If I am filled with His Spirit, I will walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
For years, we’ve had ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ programs and we’ve talked about walking in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. And I do believe that there are Christians who are trying to walk in these areas, but they are trying to do it without the Helper (John 14:26, NKJV). We have been trying for years to do things for God – without God. The reason why Jesus prayed to the Father to send the Holy Spirit to us is because we needed help, but we’ve been trying to live without His help. I don’t care how hard you try. You’re not going to see the fruit without the Spirit because it is the Spirit who bears the fruit – and His fruit doesn’t come and go. It remains (John 15:16, Galatians 5:22-23).
When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul, He ‘turned’ him into another man and this is what the Holy Spirit wants to do in us – change us. I believe a lot of us (including myself) want change, but either we’re afraid to change or we’re afraid to trust or both, but we’re missing out on so much. The Holy Spirit wants to teach you how to pray. He wants to guide you into all truth. He wants to give you gifts. He wants to empower you so that you may shine as lights, be blameless and be the sons/daughters of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.
God has shown some of you what He’s going to do through visions and dreams. He has promised you things through his word and through prophecy and like Mary, you’re wondering, How shall this be? How will this happen? The same answer the angel told Mary then is the same answer for your situation now. The Holy Spirit (Luke 1:34-35).
My prayer is that we will all want change and want to be changed and may all the things you’ve been trying to do in your own strength for years be done this year – by His Spirit.
Not by power, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).
This past Sunday, I got the opportunity to repent – not just to my pastors, but to the entire church for not being in my place.
I had some things in common with Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid (but not anymore). She was the one chosen to bear Sarai and Abram’s child. But after Hagar got pregnant, I think she started to smell herself. No, really. I think she either felt herself equal to Sarai (as she had become Abram’s wife to bear his child) or she thought she was better than Sarai because she was able to do something that Sarai wasn’t able to do, which was to carry Abram’s child.
She was blessed with such an honor to carry their child, but she forgot who she was. She forgot she was still Sarai’s handmaid. She became too familiar with her. Hagar’s problem was she no longer respected the anointing on Sarai’s life. She didn’t honor the woman of God.
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine (1 Timothy 5:17).
Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17).
Sarai was not some mere woman. When God spoke concerning Sarai, He said, ‘I will bless her and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her’ (Genesis 17:16). Hagar may have been the new wife, but Sarai was still the ‘first lady’.
Sarai didn’t like Hagar’s attitude and disrespect towards her so she told Abram about it. Abram, being the smart man he was, changed his name to Bennett. My name is Bennett and I ain’t in it. Just joking. But seriously, he told his wife that he was going to stay out of it, that she was her maid and this was between them.
When Sarai took matters into her own hands, Hagar ran away. I can only imagine what Hagar was thinking when she left. Who does she think she is? She can’t have no baby. I’m having his baby. They are going to need me before I need them.
But do you know what I loved most about this passage of scripture?
Abram didn’t run after Hagar to try to convince her to come back. Sarai didn’t run after her, crying and begging her to come back. I don’t know how long Hagar was in the wilderness, but I do know it was good for her to be there because there were some things in her that needed to die and where she was caused her to grow up. No one took her position or her place, but if she really wanted it – if she was really serious this time, she was going to have to return to the place she left and take it back.
One day, the angel of the Lord found Hagar in the wilderness and asked her two questions:
1) Where did you come from?
2) Where are you going?
She didn’t have a problem answering the first question, but she couldn’t answer the second question because she didn’t know what she was going to do. She didn’t have a plan because she ran from the plan that was created for her.
Now I know that Isaac was the plan and he was the promise of God, but when Sarai told her husband to marry her handmaid, Abram came in agreement with it and God honored it. (I didn’t say God liked her idea, but He honored it). At any time, God could have stopped this plan and He could have shut up Hagar’s womb, but He didn’t. He allowed it to be because that was what Sarai wanted.
By asking the above questions, the Lord wanted her to realize that she was going the wrong way – that she needed to change her direction. I don’t think Hagar wanted to remain in the wilderness, but she may have been too proud to go back. But God dealt with her. He spoke to her through an angel. Return to your mistress and submit yourself. What he was really saying was:
You were wrong, Hagar. Go back.
You were wrong, Hagar. Apologize.
You were wrong, Hagar. Make it right.
But maybe she was afraid. What was Sarai going to do to her once she returned? What were the people going to say? Would Abram and Sarai receive her back?
So, the angel gave her a word that gave her the confidence to go back. I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count (Genesis 16:10, AMP). That was God’s way of letting her know:
I see you (Genesis 16:13).
I haven’t forgotten you.
I didn’t leave you. You left Me.
You’re still a part of the plan.
I haven’t taken back what I gave you (Ishmael).
I will still use you.
I will bless you.
So, Hagar got back in her place and in her position and I’ve decided to do the same. Please know that repentance was just the first step. Even after Hagar returned to her mistress, there were things she had to do and there will be things that I will have to do because Hagar didn’t see what the angel said until she did what the angel said.
[Scripture reference: Genesis 16]
plan: a decision to do something; to devise a way to overcome difficulties; a step-by-step method
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11, KJV).
He doesn’t think about you the way you think about yourself nor does He regret the decision He made concerning you.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
When God devised a plan, He included you in it. He didn’t leave you out of His plan.
And, what is His plan?
His plan is to save you.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).
His plan is to deliver you.
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father (Galatians 1:3-4).
His plan is to heal you.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
His plan is to fill you with His Spirit.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).
Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)
His plan is to use you to bring others to Him.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
Your adversary is always trying to put what’s behind you, in front of you. He wants you to focus on the past, but God doesn’t care about your past. He cares about your future.
There is so much that God wants to do through you, but there is so much He wants to do in you – first.
Don’t worry about your plans (that didn’t work out), for His plan is better.
His plan is not to harm you, but His plan is to bless you.
Follow His plan.
Trust the plan.