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.

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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.

Don’t Settle

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The children of Reuben and Gad had a lot of cattle.  God promised them a land flowing with milk and honey, but they saw the land of Jazer and Gilead and thought it would be a great place for their cattle.  They thought it would be better.  They went to Moses, the priest and the princes of the congregation about their plan (not God’s plan).  May we settle here instead of crossing the Jordan into the promised land?  (Numbers 32:5, VOICE).  Moses couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Shall your brothers go to war and shall you sit here? (vs 6).

In Numbers 20, Moses was told he wouldn’t enter the promised land.  The Lord spake to Moses and Aaron, Because you didn’t believe me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them  (vs 12).  Here we have Moses, who wanted to enter in, but couldn’t while the Reubenites and Gadites had the opportunity to enter in, but chose not to.  Moses couldn’t believe that they came this far only to settle here  when God wanted to give them there.  He was also concerned that it would discourage the others from going across to the land that the Lord had given them.  Eventually, half of the tribe of Manasseh decided not to cross over either. Our decisions do affect other people. 

Moses told the Reubenites and Gadites that they were just like their ancestors (Numbers 32:8).   When Moses sent their ancestors to survey the land, they went as far as the valley of Eschol, took one look at the land and quit.  They discouraged the others who wanted to go by telling them how strong and tall the people were that inhabited the land and that they wouldn’t be able to go up against them.  God was so angry with them that He made them (with the exception of Caleb and Joshua) wander in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation (20 years old and older) died out.

The Reubenites and Gadites vowed to help the others fight and to cross over, but their minds were made up.  They were content.  They didn’t want to go any further.  Now that may have been fine for them, but that’s not okay for us.  Don’t settle.  Don’t accept something or someone just because you don’t see what God said yet.

God has better for you. 

God has already given what He promised, but you must want it. You must go and possess it.  Wishing and hoping is not enough.  Going to church and hearing the word is not enough.  You must do what the word says.  Some of us are trying to find different ways to enter into the promise, but there is only one way – obedience.  This is how Caleb and Joshua entered in.  They followed God completely (vs 11).  And lazy people don’t inherit the promise.  You can’t be like the five foolish virgins who expect other people to have oil for them – and for you.  Get your own oil!  Do what you are supposed to do.  Use what God gave you.

In Mark 6:45, Jesus revealed to the disciples their destination, but He never told them what would happen during the journey.  And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship and to go to the other side to Bethsaida  (vs 22).  On the way there – in the middle, the wind was blowing against them and their ship was tossing because of the strong waves.  Jesus saw them struggling, trying to row the boat.  Even though the journey was hard, they never stopped rowing.  They did what Jesus told them to do.  They kept moving toward the other side.  They kept resisting the wind and the waves.  They made it to the other side (with Jesus in the ship with them) and so will you. The enemy wants you to get discouraged in the middle.  He wants you to give up and settle where you are.  If you are going to become settled in anything, become settled in the word.  Come in agreement with God and accept what He said as true.  Don’t sit here  when God has promised you there.  God wants to give you more than what you can see.

But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Please understand that this isn’t just about receiving ‘material things’ on the other side.  This is about discovering who we are in Christ (here) and doing what we were anointed to do (there).  The enemy wants us to remain in the middle, straddling the fence (lukewarm), halt between two opinions.  He doesn’t want us to grow spiritually.  He wants us to just go to church and have a ‘good time’.  He wants us to be hearers only – always learning and getting new information and revelation, but never understanding the truth (2 Timothy 3:7).

Let’s look at this another way.  When the disciples entered the ship with Jesus, a severe storm came (Matthew 8:23).  The ship was covered with waves.  Jesus was sleeping while the disciples were panicking.  When they woke Him up, He asked, Why are you fearful, you of little faith  (vs 26)?  Jesus rebuked the winds and the sea and they got to the other side.  On the other side, they met two men possessed with devils living among tombs (vs 28).  Now do you see why the enemy fights you so hard?  The reason why he doesn’t want you to cross over to the other side is because he doesn’t want you to heal those he oppressed.

Let us not be like the tribes that only thought about what they wanted for themselves.  God doesn’t just want us to go to the other side, but He wants us to help someone else get to the other side, too.

I pray that we all cross over and enter into what God has promised.

Be Not Ashamed

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ashamed: feeling of fear or shame which prevents a person from doing a thing

When God made Adam and Eve, they were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25).  They were told not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but the serpent deceived Eve.   Despite what God said, Eve ate of the tree and then she gave some to her husband and he ate it.  They disobeyed God based upon what it looked like.  It looked good and it looked like nothing would happen if they ate it.  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was pleasant to the eyes… (Genesis 3:6).  They sinned and sin led to shame and fear.   And he (Adam) said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself  (Genesis 3:10).  When someone walks in shame, this is how the enemy makes them feel:

I don’t deserve anything good because I did something bad.

I’m always messing up.

I wish I could move far away.

I was so stupid.

I’ll just keep to myself. 

The bad thing is that we not only back away from people, but we back away from God.  Where are you  (Genesis 3:9)?

God created Adam and Eve to rule over everything He had given them.  When you read about them or anyone else in the bible who ran or hid (for example, Elijah and Moses), these were powerful men of God.  The reason why the enemy comes after powerful men and women of God is because he is afraid of them.  He knows you are a threat. He is afraid that the anointing on your life will destroy the yokes he placed upon people.  He is afraid that you will free many from their bondage.  He is afraid that you will tear down the walls that He built.  He also knows that if he can get you to walk in shame (or guilt or condemnation), you won’t walk in power.  To defeat the enemy, you can’t walk in shame or fear, but you must walk in the spirit of power, love and a sound mind.

You don’t think the woman at the well was ashamed?  This woman already had five husbands and now she was on the sixth husband.  I can only imagine how much she was talked about.   She probably got involved with the same type of men – the ones who belittled her and used her.   I know she felt stupid at times.  I know she was tired of the cycle.  I know she was tired of being disappointed and lied to.  But one day, she met Jesus at the well.  He didn’t humiliate her or embarrass her.  He didn’t condemn her.  He talked to her in a way that no other man had before.   He told her all the things she ever did.  The scriptures tell us that she left her waterpot, but I don’t think that’s the only thing she left.  I believe she left that sixth husband.  I believe she left shame.  She started smiling again.  In the Old Testament, you read of women going to the well together, but this woman went alone.  After her meeting with Jesus, she didn’t isolate herself anymore.  The devil wanted to silence her, but she was talking again.  She testified of Jesus and what He did in her life and many believed and received Him because of her testimony.

She probably thought God couldn’t use her because of her past.  There is nothing so dirty in your past that the blood of Jesus cannot cleanse.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness  (1 John 1:9).   There is NOW no condemnation (guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Jesus rejected the shame (Hebrews 12:2) and we should reject it, too.   Let Him make you free.  God is not ashamed of you. You don’t have to cover yourselves with fig leaves.  Let His love cover all your sins.  Let Him make you whole.

May God give you double for your shame and may you never be put to shame again.

Become Someone God Can Trust

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When someone has bad credit, it’s not the end of the world for them.  They can learn how to build their credit.  Paying off credit card debt and paying bills on time are just some of the ways you can build your credit as it shows others that you are responsible and that you can be trusted with more (a home, a car or more credit).  There are classes and seminars on how to build your credit, but how do you build trust?  How do you regain it after you have lost it?

To answer those questions, I’m going to use the parable of the unjust servant in Luke 16.  Jesus told his disciples about a rich man who had a steward.  I don’t know how well he knew him or if he knew him at all, but the rich man trusted him to manage what belonged to him.   The first verse tells us that the steward wasted the rich man’s goods.  I’m not sure if he was stealing money or making foolish decisions with what he was given, but what we do know is that he was dishonest.

Jesus never said how long the steward had been doing this, but I’m sure he did it multiple times thinking he would never get caught.  The rich man had no idea that he was being taken advantage of.  In fact, someone else brought it to his attention.  When he learned of what was going on, he called his steward and told him what he heard.  He didn’t want to just take someone else’s word so he told his steward to give him an account or a report of what he was doing with what he had been given, but in the meantime, he could not be his manager because he could no longer be trusted.

This man allowed a good opportunity to pass or to be lost.  The scriptures never stated that the steward admitted to the accusation, but apparently he knew what he was doing was wrong because he wasted no time trying to make things right.  He started thinking about his future.  What was he going to do next? I cannot dig and I am ashamed to beg  (verse 3).  I think he probably could have digged for a living, but he just didn’t want to.  He probably looked at digging as a menial job.  It was beneath him.  He was too smart for that.  He had managerial and accounting skills, but to dig ditches seemed more like a demotion than a promotion.  And he was too proud to become a beggar, but he knew he had to do something – and fast.

Since it seemed like he was about to be fired, there was a possibility that he was also going to be homeless so he came up with a plan to befriend his lord’s debtors.  A man that has friends must show himself friendly (Proverbs 18:24).  The steward called everyone who owed his lord and made a deal with them.  He basically cut their bills in half.  I can only imagine how grateful they were to this man.  They didn’t have to pay all the money owed. The steward knew that if he needed a place to stay that someone would remember what he did for them and open their home to him.  Smart, huh?

When he reported to his lord what he did, the rich man commended him – not for being unjust, but for being wise (vs 8).  We don’t know if the rich man fired him or allowed him to continue to manage his goods, but this parable teaches the just how we ought to be regarding our relationship with God and with people.

Take responsibility for what YOU did.  So, you messed up?  Don’t be angry at others or blame THEM for something YOU did.   Like David, acknowledge what you did (Psalm 51:3).  Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another, that you may be healed  (James 5:16)Apply this scripture to your life so that you may be healed – emotionally (heart), spiritually (soul) and physically (body).

Building will take work and time.  Sometimes an apology is not enough.  The foundation is very important so you want to build on what will stand and what will last.  Trust must be built on truth, not lies – so be honest.  The servant immediately started working.  I don’t know how many hours or weeks or months it took, but he didn’t stop until he collected from every debtor (probably in hopes that his lord would change his mind).  Now, there is a possibility that the individual(s) involved may not forgive you or give you another chance, but no matter what happens, make up in your mind that you are going to do to others what you would have them to do to you (Matthew 7:12).  And don’t worry about what others are doing to you.  You are only accountable for what you do with what God has given you.

Do what you do for the Lord rather than for men.   Sometimes we do the right thing for people, but with wrong motives and sometimes we do the right thing only when we know someone is watching us, but do it even when no one is watching.  Show that you can be trusted at all times – no matter who is watching.  People don’t see everything we do, but the eyes of the Lord is everywhere. Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the Lord  (Jeremiah 23:24).

Respect what others have.  It is not yours.  What the steward took or wasted belonged to someone else.  It was not his and he was not entitled to do whatever he wanted to do with it.  Let’s examine how you are in the workplace.  Do you take personal items from work?  If so and your manager doesn’t know about it, you’re a thief.  You are getting paid to work, but are you spending more time on social media or on your phone or taking breaks?  Would you hire you?  Would you give yourself a promotion?  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?  (vs 12).

Love in deed and in truth.  If you are really sorry, don’t just say it.  Show it.  I know none of us are perfect, but please stop using that as an excuse not to change or to do whatever you want to do.  I pray that we all get to the place where we truly love God again because when we love Him, we will obey Him.  And this is love, that we walk after his commandments  (2 John 6, KJV).

Judas didn’t betray Jesus by himself.  He made a covenant with some of the chief priests and captains, but we hear more about Judas than the others.  That’s because Judas knew better.  He walked with Jesus.  They didn’t.  He betrayed Jesus for selfish reasons, but when he realized what he did, he probably thought, What have I done?  Judas tried to make things right.  He tried to return the thirty pieces of silver.  I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood  (Matthew 27:4).  The same people that he sinned with no longer wanted anything to do with him.  They got what they wanted and they had no more use or need for Judas.

Judas saw Jesus forgive others yet he didn’t believe he would be forgiven so he hung himself.  Some of us are the same way.  We think that what we’ve done is unforgivable.  Some of us still walk in condemnation and shame over things that we did, but God is not disappointed in you and He is not ashamed of you.  He still loves you.  People may never forget what you did, but God remembers it no more.  Take the truth, which is the word of God, and build your trust in what HE said about you and not what people said about you.  Trust God to turn things around.  Trust God to make everything beautiful in His time.  Trust that all things will work together for good.  God didn’t hurt you nor did He fail you.  The only reason why some of us have trust issues is because we trusted the wrong people.

Sometimes when people get mad, they give what is called the silent treatment, but God isn’t like that.  Think about all the things you and I have done to God or to His people, yet He still speaks to us.  If God is dealing with you and He is sending people to encourage you, it’s because He loves you and He wants to do what He promised. He wants to prove Himself to you.  Maybe certain people will never trust you again – maybe they will never speak to you again, but if you ask God to forgive you, He will forgive you.  Let what happened draw you closer to God, not further away and let it teach you how to value the things and people God has gave you.

Become someone who God can trust.

Let Where You Are Prepare You for Where You’re Going

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Sometimes you think you’re okay in certain areas until those areas are tested.  I recently experienced an incident on my job with another co-worker and I’ll just say it wasn’t good.

First of all, I didn’t use the ‘think before you speak’ method.  I spoke out of anger.  The day following the incident, I told myself (before walking into the building) that I was going to be ‘adult’ about it.  That meant no silent treatment, no attitude and I was going to work like nothing had happened the day before.  Why?  Because the eyes of Lord are everywhere.  He was watching me and He could see what others couldn’t see – my heart.  When my co-worker spoke to me, I responded, but inwardly I was saying, Don’t look at me and don’t talk to me.  Sound like a grown-up, right?

The next day (or maybe it was two days later), I was better.  I smiled.  I said ‘thank you’.  I listened and responded (in a nice manner).  I was disappointed by what happened, but I wasn’t angry anymore.  I was no longer expecting an apology and I made up in my mind that I was going to make the best out of a bad situation.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you  (Matthew 5:44).  I’ve heard that scripture before, but what I heard and what I knew was about to be tested.

The word of the Lord tried him  (Psalm 105:19).

I thought I was doing pretty good.  I forgave her.  I spoke to her (when she spoke to me of course).  And now I was praying for her.  I was kind of proud of myself.  I felt like I grew a few inches taller – and then I was told to check on her.  Come on, Jesus.  Really?   I didn’t want to check on her, but God reminded me of two things: 1) He gave me grace, and 2) He didn’t give it to me because I deserved it.  He gave it to me because I needed it – and she needed it, too.   

I didn’t do it immediately, but when I finally texted her, she was happy to hear from me.  At the end of the conversation, she told me twice that she loved me.  It’s so easy to say those three words when everything is going well, but can you show it when everything is not going well?

Well, since I wasn’t ready to say it, I wanted to at least be able to show it.  I didn’t want to bring up the past and I didn’t want to treat her the way she treated me.  Do not repay evil for evil or insult for insult  (1 Peter 3:9).  That’s what ministry is all about.  Ministry is not preaching behind the pulpit and it doesn’t just occur in the church.  Ministry is every place the soles of your feet tread upon – your home, your job, the grocery store, etc.

Joseph went through some ups and down.  One moment he was reporting to his dad about what his brothers were doing.  The next moment he was thrown in a pit and sold into slavery.  One moment he was serving an officer of Pharaoh.  The next moment he was accused of trying to assault the officer’s wife and sent to prison, yet he ministered and served even while in prison.  Why do you look so sad today?  (Genesis 40:7).   He helped someone else with their dream even though his dream hadn’t come to pass yet.

The word, promotion, means to move forward or to advance.  We use that word in school when someone goes to the next grade or level.  When we use that same word in the workplace, we think it means having a title and getting more money, but when God talks about promotion, it is about developing growth and character.  Promotion is not just about getting.  It is about giving – to God and to others.

Joseph learned how to submit to others, to forgive, to let go of pride, and how to love.  He wasn’t just going through. He was growing through and at the right time God promoted him.  Pharaoh set him over his house, his people and over all the land of Egypt.  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God so that HE many exalt you in due time  (1 Peter 5:6).

Some years ago, the Lord told me that a promotion was coming (at another job), but I didn’t receive what God promised because of fear, laziness and I had the wrong attitude.  I wanted everything to come easy.  I didn’t want to go through anything.  I didn’t want to endure anything and eventually I gave up.  I walked off that job – the same job where God said He was going to promote me.  I didn’t give the word a chance.

God still sits as a refiner and purifier of silver (Malachi 3:3).  Fire is applied during the refining process because it causes what is hidden to be revealed and rise to the surface.  The Lord sees the heart  (1 Samuel 16:7).  God doesn’t use fire to destroy us.  He uses it to change us.  Like silver, you and I are valuable and precious to God, but He wants to remove the dross (impurities) from the silver so that we will be ready for HIS use (Proverbs 25:4).

Some of you may not have a job, but God has given all of us responsibilities, gifts and talents.  Promotion will come, but to be used the way God wants to use you, let Him separate the dross from the silver so that others can see HIM in the silver.

Don’t run from it.  Don’t complain about it.  Don’t give up on it. Let where you are prepare you for where you are going.