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Be Faithful

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faithful: trustworthy, reliable, consistent, not changing in behavior or attitude, believing

Joseph’s brothers hated him so much that they considered killing him.  What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood?  (Genesis 37:26).  They decided instead to sell him to the Ishmeelites and the Ishmeelites then sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.

Despite what happened to Joseph, he served well in Potiphar’s house.  Potiphar saw that the Lord was with him and he later made Joseph overseer of his house.  Things were going well until Potiphar’s wife accused him of attempted rape.  Potiphar then put Joseph in prison.

While in prison, the keeper of the prison placed all the prisoners under Joseph’s supervision.  When Pharaoh threw his butler and baker in prison, the captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph and he served  them also (Genesis 40:4).  One morning, Joseph noticed that the butler and baker were sad (Genesis 40:6).  They both had a dream, but they didn’t understand it.  Joseph didn’t withhold his gift.  He interpreted their dreams.  The baker was going to be hung on a tree, but the butler would be restored to his position in three days.  Joseph told the butler that once his dream came to pass, not to forget about him.

But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon  (Genesis 40:14-15).  But the butler forgot about him (Genesis 40:23).

Even though Joseph was ready for that season of his life to be over, it wasn’t time yet.  He had to stay in prison just a little while longer. He had to be patient and patience isn’t always about waiting.  Patience is more about what you are doing while you are waiting.  Some of us are just like Joseph.  We wish God would hurry up.  We think we are ready to receive what God has promised, but God is watching your faithfulness.  God is watching what you do with the little.  Maybe the reason why you’re still where you are now  is because you aren’t ready for what’s next.

Things didn’t always go the way Joseph liked, but he remained faithful in every  season – in his father’s house, in the pit, in Potiphar’s house, and in jail.  Joseph had every reason to be angry, bitter and disappointed, but his attitude remained the same.  What Joseph went through should have hardened his heart, but he wasn’t like Naomi.  He didn’t allow circumstances and hard times to change him or his name.  He didn’t allow what was sweet to turn bitter.  He didn’t send anyone away or isolate himself from others. He worked – consistently – as unto the Lord, not unto man.  He kept giving.  He kept sowing seed, not knowing which seed was going to produce.

And one day, the gift that he gave sometime ago opened doors and brought him before a great man.  He was then made ruler over Pharaoh’s house, his substance and all the land of Egypt.  He would also discipline Pharaoh’s princes if needed and teach the elders wisdom (Psalm 105:22).

Everything he went through brought him to this season.  During the waiting period, Joseph proved to be reliable and trustworthy.  He served when it was comfortable (home).  He served when it was uncomfortable (jail).  Before he became ruler over others, he learned how to submit to those who had rule over him.

Beautiful story, right?  But the story doesn’t end there.  Remember, his dream hadn’t come to pass yet (Genesis 37:6-10). 

A famine came and it was all over the face of the earth.  This is why Joseph was sent (Psalm 105:17).  All countries had to go to Egypt to buy corn.  Jacob sent his sons (Joseph’s brothers) to buy corn because of the famine.  When his brothers came before him, they bowed before him.  Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them  (Genesis 42:9).

When Joseph’s brothers saw him, they didn’t even recognize him (Genesis 42:8).  I don’t believe it was because his looks changed.  I think it was because he changed.  Joseph had a lot of growing up to do (and so do I).  I can only imagine how Joseph felt walking around with a coat that no one else had, but he was stripped of pride and anything that shouldn’t have been in his heart or mind.  God wants to transform us in such a way that people can no longer see us, but they see Him.  Pharaoh didn’t even serve Joseph’s God, but he recognized Him.  Do you remember when Pharaoh needed someone to interpret his dreams?  He called his magicians and wise men, but they couldn’t help him.  He saw the distinction between them and Joseph.  Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit in him?  (Genesis 41:38).

We think that the dream is beautiful, but there is beauty in what God is doing in us right now.  When God completed His work, Joseph wasn’t full of pride, hate, anger or bitterness.  In fact, when his brothers gave him money for corn, not only did he return it, but he gave them more than what they had.  When Joseph’s brothers threw him in an empty pit, they sat down and ate a meal.  Joseph didn’t even have water in the pit, but he didn’t treat them the way they treated him. He opened his home to them.  He gave them water to drink.  He gave them bread to eat.  He washed their feet.  He even fed their donkeys.

And he did all of this without an apology.  It’s easy to help someone who has helped you, but can you help someone who has hurt you?  Joseph couldn’t do it on his own, but he trusted God to do it through him.  I’m amazed at Joseph’s forgiveness towards his brothers, but I’m even more amazed at his faithfulness towards God.

You may be on a job that you don’t like, but be faithful.  If God gave you a spouse, be faithful.  Maybe God told you that he was going to send help to the ministry, but it seems like more people are leaving than coming.  Be faithful.

When I was younger, I sang on the youth choir every third Sunday.  On the days I sang, I attended church twice – 7:00 and 11:00 a.m.  I remember one morning after church, the late Reverend Johnson shook my hand and called me ‘faithful’.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but the reason why he said this was because it didn’t matter who sang or who didn’t sing.  I showed up.  He knew that most young people like to stay in bed late on Sunday mornings, but I got up early even when I didn’t feel like it.

In the last ten years, I’ve quit things when it didn’t seem like it was working or it didn’t seem like it would get better or it just didn’t feel good.  I just didn’t give it time and you must give things time to grow, but I wanted God to do it now.  I realize now that I was only thinking about myself.  I wasn’t thinking about my family or the people that would need what I have.  I knew what I wanted, but I never thought about what God wanted.

Many are called, but few are chosen  (Matthew 22:14).  You are the Joseph of your family.  You were chosen.  Let God discipline, chastise and correct you now in private before He reveals you in public.  Let Him change you.  Let Him make you.  Let Him do to you what the potter does to the clay.

I’ve been called faithful before and I want to be called faithful again.

Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:21, 23)

 

Possess Your Souls

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possess: to win; to own; to contend; not giving way to adverse circumstances

More and more people are choosing to live a healthier lifestyle.  They are going to the gym every day.  They are drinking more water.  Some have even decided to become vegans.  I, on the other hand, am like Paul, who believed every creature of God is good and is to be received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 3-4).  While I’m so glad that we’ve decided to take better care of our bodies, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we cared for our souls the way we care for our bodies?

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul  (Matthew 16:26)?

There are some things that are hard to get back.  We see this when Esau sells his birthright to his brother.  We also see this in the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10).  This wasn’t her only coin.  She had nine other coins, but it wasn’t until she lost one that she understood the value of what she had.  She knew something was missing in her life and she wanted it back.

I’m not sure how this woman lost her coin, but what I do know is that this woman lit a candle, swept the house and searched diligently through the dust and dirt until she found it.  To find it, she had to separate herself.  No distractions.  In fact, her friends and neighbors aren’t mentioned until after  she found the coin.

There are some people and situations that you will have to walk away from.  And no, that’s not being mean.  That’s being wise.  It means you are learning to guard your heart with all diligence.  It means that you now understand how precious you are and you are pulling away from anything or anyone that will pull you back into what God pulled you out of.

One of the tricks of the enemy is to get you to join yourself to the wrong people while separating you from the right people.  Sometimes our relationships look like the picture below.

The ox knows how to plow and the donkey knows how to plow, but it’s just not wise for them to plow together.  It would be better for the ox to plow with an animal that has its nature or character.  It should be joined with an animal that would work with it and not against it.  I know we didn’t choose the families we were born into, but we can choose our friends.  Choose people who will help you, not hold you back.

Another way the enemy tries to get to your soul is through sexual immorality.  There is no need to boast about what foods you don’t put in your body if you commit sins that affect both your body and soul.  We’ve heard it and we have read it, but I don’t think we really understand that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit – that He is in us to help us.  He helps us to win and to overcome temptations.

King Lemuel begins Proverbs 31 by sharing with us the words of his mother.  I believe the best advice his mother gave him is found in Proverbs 31:3 – Give not your strength to women  (Proverbs 31:3).  Throughout the book of Proverbs, we read about the strange woman (2:16), the evil woman (6:24), the whorish woman (6:26), the foolish woman (9:13) and the adulterous woman (30:20).  His mother wanted him to join himself to a wise woman who builds her house (which includes him), not a woman who is known to tear apart her house or break up other people’s houses.

Have you ever watched the movie, Fireproof? Do you remember the salt and pepper demonstration? Michael glued two salt and pepper shakers together to show Caleb what happens when two souls become one.  At the end of the demonstration, Caleb started to pull the two shakers apart, but he was warned not to because he would either break one of them or even worse – the both of them.

The reason why satan tries to break up marriages or tempt people to lay with someone who is not their wife or husband (fornication as well adultery) is to destroy souls.  He wants to ruin you emotionally and spiritually.  He wants you to feel so used and damaged that you think it is impossible for God to ever use you.  He wants to put an end to what God wants to do before it is even started.

Some of you are carrying unforgiveness, hurt, shame, fear, bitterness and anger because of who you joined yourselves to. They all weren’t bad people, but they were the wrong  people simply because they weren’t right  for you.  But these things that you are carrying contaminate your souls. They wear you down and make you sick in your body.  They hinder your prayers and they keep you from moving forward.

But most of all, these things weaken your faith in God.  It will cause you to back away rather than to draw near to God. The enemy recognizes the power of one (unity).  He knows the power of love and he doesn’t want you to love like you used to.  He knows the power of your prayers (John 14:13-14).  And he knows what your faith can do – overcome him! For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith  (1 John 5:4).

In Luke 21, Jesus warned the disciples of the signs that will precede his return. The first thing he mentioned was deception (vs 8).  Many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ…but don’t follow them.  The purpose of deception is to get you to exchange what is of value for something of little or no value.  (Esau exchanged his birthright for one morsel of meat; Hebrews 12:6). After he lists all the events that will take place, he says, In your patience possess your souls  (vs 19).

The soul consists of the mind, will and emotions.  The enemy attacks your soul because that is the area where you think, feel emotions and make decisions.  When a person is deceived, he is made to believe something that is not  true.  He is misled by a false appearance.  Deception has caused many ‘believers’ to leave the very place where God sent them or planted them to grow.  It has even caused them to leave families (spouses and children) for what they thought was better.

Your soul is precious and valuable.  You are precious and valuable to God.  Don’t exchange what you have for something that you don’t need.  It is important that you take good care of your body, but also guard your soul.  Choose your thoughts and be careful with your words.  Don’t be impatient like Esau who acted like he would have fainted had he not eaten right away.  Wait on God.  And don’t be deceived like Eve.  One of the reasons why she ate of the tree was because it was pleasant to the eyes (Genesis 3:6).  Let us make sure that whatever we do is pleasing to God, and not just to our eyes.

Possess your souls.

 

Rest, but Don’t Quit

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walk: the way you conduct yourself; to live in obedience; to move; to go through

Throughout his ministry, Jesus walked a lot.  There was this one time that he needed to travel through Samaria.  When he arrived to Sychar, a city of Samaria, he was tired (John 4:4).  What I love about this passage of scripture is that when Jesus got tired, he didn’t quit.  He didn’t give up.  He stopped and rested.

Jesus, therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well  (John 4:6, KJV).

So Jesus, tired as He was from His journey, sat down [to rest] by the well  (John 4:6, AMPC).

As believing Christians, we walk a lot too.  Well, we are supposed to.

Let us walk honestly  (Romans 13:13).

For we walk by faith  (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Walk in the spirit  (Galatians 5:16).

And walk in love  (Ephesians 5:2).

Walk as children of light  (Ephesians 5:8).

That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing  (Colossians 1:10).

And this is love, that we walk after his commandments  (2 John 1:6).

Throughout the bible, we are told how we should walk.  I know we don’t always walk how we were taught to walk.  I know you’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I want to encourage every person who is reading this.

Keep walking!

Do you remember when Paul was in a ship with some other prisoners?  While they were sailing, Paul perceived that they would suffer hurt and much damage (Acts 27:10).  He wasn’t just talking about the ship, but he was talking about their lives being in danger.  But the centurion wouldn’t listen.  He believed the master and owner of the ship more than the words spoken by Paul.

Sometimes we believe the words of people more than the word of God. 

When a violent wind came, they were tossed about on the ship.  To save themselves, they had to throw things off the ship to reduce the weight.  They experienced seasickness, stress and they were without food for a long time.  Have you ever thought back to some decisions you made and said, If I had only listened?  Paul told them that they should have listened to him, but he knew they were already feeling bad so he didn’t make them feel worse.  He didn’t condemn them.  He told them to cheer up.  There will be no loss of life among you, but only loss of the ship  (Acts 27:22, AMP).

Maybe you didn’t listen when God warned you, but don’t dwell over it.  Don’t beat yourself over it.  Cheer up.  The enemy wants you to feel like you’re a failure.  He wants you to think that you can’t do anything right.  You’re always messing up.  You do good for a little while, but then you do something foolish just before the breakthrough or before the promise can be fulfilled in your life.  For some of you, there are people who have blamed you for the choices they  made.  They made you think it was your fault.  They made you feel like you were a bad person.  Yes, you have made some bad choices, but that doesn’t make you a bad person.  Everything wasn’t your fault.

I don’t care what people have said about you.  You won’t miss it this time.  You have been the tail for too long, but things are about to turn around for you.  No, God hasn’t changed His mind about you.  He wants to bless you.  If you will obey His voice and do all that He has commanded you to do, God will make you the head (Deuteronomy 28:1, 13).  You don’t have to force it.  HE will do it.

So don’t look back.  I don’t want you to regret anything.  I don’t want you to worry about it anymore.  I don’t want you to sit too long.  Get up and ‘walk’.  Don’t stop doing what works just because it seems like it’s not working.  I know you wish you could have done some things differently, but guess what?  You still can.  It’s not too late for you.  Every day that God gives you is another chance and another opportunity to do things differently.

I told you earlier that Jesus needed to go through Samaria.  When Jesus sat down to rest, he ministered to a woman who was ‘tired’ too – tired of going from man to man, tired of the hurt, tired of the disappointment – looking, searching and hoping.  Is he the one?  Will this one love me the way I deserve to be loved?  This woman was so busy looking for someone to love her that she never learned to love herself.  But she met Jesus – and he spoke to her like no other man had ever spoken to her before.  What this MAN did for  her made her forget about what all the other men did to  her.

You need  to go through what you’re going through.  It’s going to help somebody.  Someone has lost hope, but you’re about to give someone hope again.  I know you get weary at times along the way. Sometimes you want to give up, but keep walking in what God told you to do.

And when you get tired, rest.

Rest in the promise God made to you.  Become like Paul who believed God and believed that it would be as it was told to him (Acts 27:25).  Be at peace with what God said and as you place your hope in Him, He will renew your strength and you will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Rest, but don’t quit.

Believe Again

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believe: accept something as true; to accept the evidence of; to have confidence in the truth; to be persuaded; to trust; to expect with confidence

Have you ever wondered why certain things hadn’t happened in your life yet?  While I was praying one afternoon, I got my answer.  ‘You stopped believing.  You gave up’. 

It is hard to receive anything from the Lord when you don’t believe.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man think that he will receive anything from the Lord  (James 1:6-7).

I didn’t have a problem believing that God heard me when I prayed for others, but I started feeling like God didn’t hear me when I prayed for myself.  That doesn’t make sense, does it?  Aren’t Christians called ‘believers’?  What happened to me along the way?  Was I upset because I asked God for something and He didn’t give it to me?  Did I think God was punishing me for something I did in the past?  Have I been disappointed so many times that I stopped expecting anything good to happen to me?  Or was I just impatient?

Jairus only had one child.  She was 12 years old and she was dying.  He went to Jesus, fell at his feet (worship) and made his prayer request known.  My little daughter lies at the point of death: I pray you, come and lay your hands on her, that she may be healed and she shall live  (Mark 5:23).

Jesus heard him and began walking towards his home.  Jairus believed that Jesus was going to answer his prayer, but then Jairus had to do something that we all don’t like to do.  He had to wait.  As they were walking, a woman, who was diseased with an issue of blood for 12 years, touched the hem of Jesus’ garment (Matthew 9:20).

That’s right.  Jairus had to stand there and watch someone else get what he prayed for.  And according to the scriptures, Jesus doesn’t keep walking after the woman touches him.  He stops and begins talking to this woman.  I can only imagine how Jairus felt.  It is during times like these that we feel God is taking too long and that He has forgotten about us.  You feel like you’re running out of time and you wish Jesus would hurry up.

We are never told that Jairus celebrated this woman’s healing or that he rejoiced with her.  You would have thought that witnessing someone else’s healing would have built his faith, but then he gets some bad news.  There came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Your daughter is dead: why trouble the Master any further?  (Mark 5:35).   He was basically telling Jairus that it was too late and that he ought to give up.  Jesus must have known that he was discouraged because He immediately said to him, Be not afraid. Only believe  (Mark 5:36)Do you know what Jesus was really saying to him?  Despite what has happened, believe Me again.  Trust Me again and I shall do what I said.  And guess what? Jairus did just that.  When Jesus resumed walking to his home, Jairus followed him.

Jairus and this woman were very different.  Jairus asked Jesus to touch his daughter.   The woman, on the other hand, didn’t wait for Jesus to touch her.  She touched him.  She mixed faith with works.  For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole  (Matthew 9:21).  What you tell yourself is important.  If there’s anybody who should have had low self-esteem or felt rejected, it should have been this woman.  She should have been somewhere alone, isolated from everyone, embarrassed about her condition, feeling unloved and unwanted.  It had already been twelve years now and that’s a long time, but she didn’t give up.

It is also very important that you’re careful about what you think on.  Not every thought is from God.  What the woman said to herself started as a thought.  Some of you right now are thinking that you will never get married or have children or be who God has called you to be.  It seems like things are happening for everyone else except you and the moment you get discouraged, you say things like, ‘I guess I’ll be single for the rest of my life’ or ‘Maybe it wasn’t meant for me to have children’ or ‘Nothing will ever change’. I loved the fact that when Jairus got the news his daughter died, Jesus never allowed him to open his mouth and speak against the very thing he was praying and believing.  One of the reasons why the enemy attacks the area of your belief is because he knows that ALL things are possible to him that believes (Mark 9:23) and he doesn’t want you to get everything God has promised you.

Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole  (Luke 8:50).  Jairus only wanted his daughter to be healed from one thing, but Jesus wanted her to be whole (healed in every area of her life).  This is another problem we have.  A lot of times, we become angry or bitter because we didn’t get the one thing we prayed for, but God wants to do exceeding abundantly above that which you are asking.  I’ll give you a good example.  A friend of mine had a sick grandmother.  For months, she prayed for her grandmother to be healed, but her grandmother died shortly thereafter.  The good news is that before she died, she received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.  Please understand that there was nothing wrong with my friend praying for her healing, but God wanted to give her grandmother something better.  God didn’t want her healed physically, but sick spiritually.  He didn’t want her grandmother to live apart from Him – not here on earth and not for an eternity.  Although we don’t always understand why certain things happen, we must always remember that His plan for us is good.

Do you remember the father who had a demon-possessed son?  When Jesus told him that all things are possible to him that believe, the father said, Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief  (Mark 9:24).  I love how honest and humble this man was.  This is what he was really saying:  Lord, I believe in this area, but I’m having trouble believing in that area.  Please help me in the areas that I don’t believe.  Help me to trust You.  I want us to be like the men and women described in Hebrews 11:13.  Some of them didn’t receive the things God promised, but they still  believed God.  In fact, they died believing God.

I’ve heard stories of people who went through a painful divorce and swore they would never get married again, but one day they gave love another chance.  They trusted again.  They didn’t allow a bad relationship to keep them from a good relationship.  So, I’m going to give Love another chance.  I’m going to pray the above prayer as many times as needed.  I’m not going to let bad experiences separate me from Christ.  When I first got saved, I was like a little child. Trust wasn’t an issue.  I believed everything God said…and I want that again – for me as well as for you.

Believe again.

 

[Scripture references: Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:41-56]

Be Like a Tree That Is Planted

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When it was told to Jesus that his mother and brothers were outside looking for him, he told them, Whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, sister and mother  (Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35)First, Jesus defines what true relationship is with the Father.  Then, he tells a parable about four different soils to show us where we are in our relationship with the Father (sower).

As the sower sowed seed, some fell by the way side, some fell among thorns and some fell on good ground, but I want to talk about the seed that fell on stony places (Matthew 13:5).  Out of all the soils, this seed was the only one that sprouted quickly, but because it wasn’t rooted deep enough, it lacked water and had very little soil, it burned and withered away as soon as the sun arose.  Unfortunately, it never did what it was planted to do.  It never produced fruit. 

The seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11).  The seed that fell on stony places are like those who receive the word of God with joy.  They are excited about hearing the word. They believe at first, but as soon as things get hard or as soon as problems come, the excitement wears off, they give up and they stop believing.  Matthew and Mark tells us that affliction and persecution comes as a result of the word.  It comes the moment you decide you are going to live the word and not just hear the word.

Luke didn’t use the word, stony.  He tells us that some of the seed fell on a rock (Luke 8:6).  I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how much preaching, teaching or prophecies that I hear.  If I refuse to change my ways, to obey God or to resist temptation, I am always going to be a ‘rocky’ Christian – in today, out tomorrow.  Up today, down tomorrow.  Believe God today, doubt God tomorrow.

Everything starts in seed form, but God never intended for it to remain a seed.  God desires change.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).

You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain (John 15:16).

Did you know that something can grow quickly and yet still not be fully mature?  Every seed has the potential to grow, but it can’t fully  grow in certain conditions.  If you neglect a plant and it dies, then you can’t neglect the word and expect to grow.  You must hear the word again and again.  This is how faith comes.

God doesn’t want us to be like the fig tree mentioned in Luke 13.  After three years, there was still no figs on this tree.  One of the things I learned about a fig tree is that it cannot bear fruit until it first reaches maturity.  Think about how disappointed you would be if you planted a tree, but year after year you never saw any fruit. Now think about the people who are waiting for you to grow into what God has called you to be.  Think about the people who need you to be obedient in this season.  Think about those who are stumbling because you refuse to be a burning and shining light (John 5:35).

There are things we have missed because we uprooted ourselves too quickly.  Because we thought God was taking too long or because the truth offended us, we moved and planted ourselves somewhere else – but you will soon realize that you aren’t mature enough for the place you moved to.  I remember one year we had a bad storm.  As I was driving the following day, I noticed all the trees that didn’t make it – that weren’t able to endure the storm.  Because they weren’t ready or prepared for what was coming, some of them were bent over, some were broken while others were completely uprooted.  God doesn’t want this to happen to us.

If you run every time things get difficult or uncomfortable, you are only running from the things that can make you grow.  You are delaying the promise.  You are making the wait longer.  The purpose of planting is for growth.  Wherever God has planted you, stay there.  He placed you there so that you may grow in wisdom and in stature.  Let where you are develop godly character and the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

I know some bad things have happened in your life.  You probably thought it was unfair and you can’t understand why it happened.  You were mad with people and with God, but don’t let ‘life’ keep you from growing.  God has given you grace to grow through it.  Stop getting mad and offended over things so easily and grow up.  The enemy wants you to be rooted in bitterness, which can contaminate and ruin the lives of others (Hebrews 12:15), but God wants us to be rooted and built up in him (Colossians 2:7) so we can help rebuild (not ruin) lives.

It amazes me how God knew from the very beginning who would bear fruit and who would not, yet He gave us seed anyway.  God loves you that much.  He wants you to prosper and He wants you to bring forth your fruit in your season, but this will never happen if you don’t remain planted.  God doesn’t want you moving from church to church or from relationship to relationship.  He is not confused.  He knows the plan He has for you.

This is why relationship with the Father is so important.  Going to church once or twice a week is not enough.  Spend time with Him and learn of Him.  Learn His voice.  Learn how to trust Him so that when things get rocky, you don’t get rocky and leave Him, but you remain in the Vine.

Jesus told those who believed on him that if they continued in his word, then they were his disciples indeed (John 8:31).  Some of us don’t have a problem starting a thing.  We have a problem continuing a thing.  You know – sticking it out and consistently obeying God.  Some believers want to be a tree, but they don’t want God to deal with their root – of pride, bitterness and all those things that keep us from bearing good fruit.  Remember, you are not just bearing fruit for yourself, but you are bearing fruit to plant seeds in others so that they may bear fruit, also.  Be fruitful and multiply.

Just don’t be like a tree, but be like a tree that is planted.

Why Do You Go to Church?

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In Mark 1 and Luke 4, we are told about a man who had an unclean or evil spirit.  He wasn’t at home or hanging out in the streets.  He was at church.  I don’t know if this was his first time going to the synagogue or if he was a faithful churchgoer.  Why was he there?  Was he looking for answers?  Was he looking for help?

Like a lot of Christians today, he probably looked like he had it altogether on the outside.  I say this because he wasn’t described like the demon possessed man who wore no clothes, cut himself and lived in the tombs (Mark 5).  The church members and the teachers probably didn’t know what this man was dealing with inwardly.  Every Sabbath, scribes would teach the law, but none of their words gave life.  No one was healed.  No one was raised from the dead.  No one was delivered from yokes, burdens, devils or oppression in these meetings.

The spirit that was in this man was like the serpent that was hiding in the cold until Paul laid a bundle of sticks on the fire (Acts 28).  No one was ministering to this man the way Jesus had ministered to the woman at the well.  He told me all that ever I did  (John 4:39). This man sat quietly in a cold synagogue until the word came in the form of a burning fire.

Can you imagine the looks on their faces when they heard what was speaking through this man?  Those who knew him knew that it was not him speaking.  Can you also imagine how they felt when this man was set free?  Well, it didn’t take long for the news to spread.  When Jesus left the synagogue, he went to Peter’s house and healed his mother-in-law who was sick with a fever.  Mark 1:33 tells us that “all the city” was waiting at the front door to be healed of something.

Jesus was different.  He wasn’t like the scribes who just preached a good word and sent everyone home.  He spoke with power and authority.  He demonstrated what he preached.  Signs and wonders followed.  He just didn’t say what He heard his Father say, but He did what his Father did (John 5:19).

I grew up going to church because I didn’t have a choice.  I had to go, but now as an adult, have you ever asked yourself, Why do I go to church?  Some of us go to hear a good word and to be encouraged for the week and that’s good, but what about the person who sits beside you, in front of you or behind you?  There is someone in church hurting, but you can’t see their wounds.  There is someone crying, but you can’t see their tears.

Thank God for pastors, but they can’t do everything.  Just like how you expect the pastor to show up when you are in the hospital or show up to the funeral when your loved one has passed away or show up to preach on Sundays, the pastor needs us to show up.  Every gift is needed.  Some of us are like the man at the pool who was waiting for someone to put him in the pool when we should be walking by now and helping others to get in the pool.

God wants what we hear in church to be demonstrated outside of the church.  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only  (James 1:22).  I don’t think we realize how much people are watching us – at work, at home, while you’re driving your car.  They see your attitude.  They see how you treat your spouse and your children.  They are following our lives – and not just on social media.

The writer of Hebrews warns us to not stop meeting with other believers (Hebrews 10:25).  Go to church.  You don’t know who needs strength or encouragement.  If you only look at church as a building to go to when you need something, you’ve got it all wrong.  Your presence is very important.  We need you to be present and functioning.  As I said in my last blog, if Elijah hadn’t showed up – if he hadn’t done what God told him to do, the widow and her son would have died.

I think about the times I struggled to get out of bed to go to church.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I sometimes struggle to go to work too, but I get up because I want that paycheck.  Unless you are self-employed, most of us don’t show up to work when we want to because we would be fired, yet we show up to church when we want to.  I’ve learned that those times I didn’t want to go church was when I really needed to go the most.

The next time you attend church, go with an expectation – not just to get something, but to give something.  Give a hug.  Give a smile.  Let someone know that God hasn’t forgotten them.  Let them know that God still loves them.  You don’t know what people are dealing with.  Let them know that God is not punishing them or that He’s disappointed in them.  Sometimes as Christians, we act like the disciples, who when they saw a boy that was blind from birth, they immediately assumed  it was because either the boy sinned or his parents sinned, but it was so that God could show others what He could do for this boy as well as for them.

I haven’t always treated everybody right.  At times, I’ve been judgmental and hypocritical, but I’m learning to give to others what God has given me.  I’ve decided that I don’t want to be the reason why someone falls, but I want to be the reason why they get back up again.

Going to church was a ritual for me.  It was something to do, but now I see it as an opportunity to be.

Don’t just go to church.  Be the church.

 

It’s Time to Move

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In 1 Kings 17:2-3, the Lord told Elijah to hide by a brook.  When he did what God told him to do, God took care of him.  Not only did he have water to drink, but God commanded the ravens to feed him every morning and evening.  One day, the brook dried up because there was no rain.

If God commanded the ravens, surely He could have commanded the brook, but He allowed the brook to dry up.  Prior to this, Elijah was satisfied.  He was comfortable.  He didn’t have a thirst or a hunger for anything, but now he did.  He wasn’t satisfied with where he was and he didn’t want to remain in that condition anymore.

The word of the Lord came to Elijah.  Not only did God tell him to move, but He told him where to move to.  Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Zidon and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you  (vs 9).  Sometimes God leaves out the details.  He never told Elijah that the widow woman had a need.  All He told him was that she would feed him.

When he arrived at the gate of the city, he saw the widow gathering sticks (I guess that meant she was about to cook something).  He asked her for some water.  As she was going to get the water, he asked for a morsel of bread.  First, the woman told him what she didn’t have.  I have not a cake  (vs 12).  Then, she told him what she did have – a handful of meal in a barrel, a little oil in a cruse and two sticks. This was her last meal and this meal wasn’t just for her, but it was for her son also.

This woman didn’t want to die and she didn’t want her son to die, but she was preparing to die because she didn’t know what else to do.  She didn’t know where her next meal was coming from.  It didn’t look like things were going to get better and now she had a man – a perfect stranger – asking her, an unmarried mother, for her last.

I hear the conversations of single mothers from time to time.  They love their children, but sometimes they are tired – tired of raising their children alone, tired of the daily routine, tired of trying to provide, tired of missing field trips and Awards Day.  It hurts when you can’t do what you would like to do for your children.  You want them to enjoy their childhood.  You want them to be happy.  You don’t want them to worry about adult things such as bills and other responsibilities.

I can only imagine how strong this woman was trying to be for her son.  She was trying to keep it together, but sometimes we just want someone to come and ‘save’ us.  You know, take care of all our problems.  Well, God did send a man in her life, but He didn’t send him to be her husband.  (I had to point that out because sometimes a single woman/mother is so anxious to be married or in a relationship that she confuses ‘help’ with ‘husband’).  Elijah didn’t give her any food or money.  He didn’t get her out of debt or out of poverty, but he showed  her how to get out.  He showed her how to trust again.  All she had to do was obey the instructions.  All she had to do was give the very thing that she was afraid  of losing.

Wow.

Sometimes we are so focused on what we want that we don’t see what others need.  Let’s look at it this way: Had Elijah not moved, the widow and her son would have died.  Our obedience to God is so important.  It was so easy for Elijah to get comfortable at the brook.  It was so easy to trust God for the things he could see.  Life was good. He had water, bread, and meat every day, but God didn’t send him there to stay.  He was only there to pass through.  I’m sure he got used to the daily routine.  I bet he thought he had God figured out.  He knew exactly what time the raven would feed him, but when the brook dried up and the raven stopped coming, he had to trust God through a woman who only had a handful of meal, a little  oil and two sticks.  The widow was being tested, also.  Whoever is faithful with little will also be faithful with much  (Luke 16:10).

I wanted to know how far and at what length this man went to obey God and to meet this widow.  What was the distance between Cherith and Zarephath?  One source on the internet reported it was approximately 85 miles.  Another source reported it was between 80 to 100 miles.  I don’t know if Elijah got there by foot or by a horse, but that was a long journey if you didn’t have a car.  Did he get tired along the way?  Did he want to stop?  Did he want to turn around?  Did he eat?  Did he drink?  What did he have to give up?

Just like Elijah, you will never have to worry about your need when you put HIS kingdom first. God will supply your need according to His riches in glory.  So if you’re lacking in an area, it’s probably in the area that you refuse to give to God or to trust Him in.  When the widow woman gave her last, she and her household had a lot left over (1 Kings 17:15).

I know you have these great ideas and plans about what you want to do, but God has a better plan – and it includes more than just you.  The devil may have used you in the past to hurt and to betray people, but God is going to use you to help people.

God is going to allow some things to happen – not to hurt you or to punish you, but to cause you to make the decision to move.  I’m not talking about moving to another city or to another state.  I’m talking about moving toward His purpose for you – moving toward the reason why you were born.  If you don’t move, you will never discover who you are and in case no one ever told you – You are a blessing.  God knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  The word God placed in your mouth is like a hammer that breaks a rock into pieces and the anointing on your life is able to destroy the yokes of many.

This is why you can’t remain where you are. 

You have dwelled in your feelings, fear, self-pity, isolation and hurt long enough.  It is time to get up and leave those things behind.  It is time to turn (change; repent), take your journey and go to where God is leading you (Deuteronomy 1:6-7, paraphrase).  Don’t be ashamed of where you came from.  Don’t be ashamed of the things you have done.  Don’t even compare yourself to others.  Do what the widow did and use what you have.  God is going to give you instructions.  They will be simple, not hard and difficult.

We were created to do more than what we are doing.  As sons and daughters of God, we don’t have to stand idle because no one will hire us (Matthew 20:6-7).  There is plenty of work to do.  The harvest is plenteous (Matthew 9:37), but you won’t realize this until you stop looking after your own things and start looking on the things of others (Philippians 2:4).

Someone has a need and they are praying for you to move.