The Egyptians recognized that the Israelites were more and mightier than they were. According to The Living Bible version, they saw them as becoming dangerous. So, they came up with a plan to put them in bondage and to make them slaves when God actually called them His son (Exodus 4:22). Come on, let us deal wisely with them. For the next 400 plus years, the Israelites were servants to the Egyptians. They built their cities. They made them rich while they remained poor.
But before the enemy had a plan, God had a plan to send a deliverer named Moses to bring them out of that land into a good land. They saw themselves as slaves, but they were heirs to what was promised to their fathers. They were wealthy. They were landowners. Cities belonged to them and God was going to restore everything that they lost.
To keep you from becoming what God made you to be – to keep you from knowing who you really are, the enemy came up with a plan to put you in bondage because he is afraid of you. He is afraid of who you will become. He is afraid of what you can do to his kingdom. He doesn’t want you to discover just how mighty you are in God.
I remember being a quiet (I still am at times), but confident little girl. I remember sitting on my porch calling something mine that I hadn’t even possessed yet. But the enemy had a plan – the loss of my mother as a toddler, molestation, unholy covenants, depression, divorce, just to name a few. Even at a young age, he was after that confidence, which produces a great reward.
Although our words are powerful, our thoughts are powerful, too. One of the reasons why the enemy attacks your mind is because he knows that God will do exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or THINK according to the power that is at work in you.
God told Joshua, See, I have given into your hand Jericho. God had already given them the city. Yes, someone else was occupying it, but it didn’t belong to them. To enter into the Promised Land, the Israelites had to go through Jericho. They couldn’t go over it or around it. They had to go through it and some of us don’t like to go through anything. But between where they were and where God wanted to take them was a wall. Before the wall fell down, they had to ‘see’ themselves possessing the city.
The enemy fights you the most in your mind. He doesn’t want you to see yourself blessed, prosperous, happy, intelligent, powerful or mighty. The enemy has used bad situations in your life to build a wall. The wall of Jericho was at least 15 feet high. The enemy wants to use a wall to keep you from entering into what God promised you. He also wants to keep you from seeing who you really are and what you can do.
The moment you accepted Christ as your Savior, you were delivered from a bad land and brought into a good land. In exchange for your past, He gave you hope and a future. You are mighty and the weapons God gave you are mighty through God. It pulls down strongholds (thoughts that are contrary to God’s word).
Our responsibility is to believe God’s word and to do what it says. Strongholds are built on lies, but they can be torn down by the truth. So, read the word of God and listen to it daily so that it can transform the way you think and the way you live. Find scriptures in the bible that tell you who you are in Christ and speak those words until every wall the enemy built through lies, deceit and imagination fall flat down like the wall of Jericho.
You are more and mightier than you think.
rebuild: to build something again after it has been damaged; repair; to return something to its original state
The Jews were imprisoned and enslaved for 70 years in Babylon. When they were led captive, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, burned and destroyed God’s temple, the walls and gates.
We’ve read and taught about the broken walls, but have you ever thought about the broken people who returned to Jerusalem after 70 years? The temple was later rebuilt, but the walls and gates were still in the same condition – broken down and burned. Because of this, the people were in great affliction and reproach (Nehemiah 1:3). These people were hurting. They were ashamed of the condition of their city. All they could see was devastation, loss, defeat, ruin, and rubbish.
I know it sounds like what they went through was bad, but it was actually for their good. You see, the reason why they were in captivity was because they disobeyed God. If you transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations (Nehemiah 1:8). But God didn’t leave them. He didn’t reject them. He just waited for them to turn back to Him (Nehemiah 1:9).
While enslaved in Babylon, I believe they realized how good God was to them – that He wasn’t unfair or hard (when compared to the Babylonians). They realized how much He loved them. They learned that it was better to do what He told them to do rather than to do what they wanted to do. What God allowed the Babylonians to do to them wasn’t to harm them, but to help them. Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good (Deuteronomy 8:5, NLT).
But before there was a rebuilding, there had to be repenting. Nehemiah confessed his sins and the sins of Israel (Nehemiah 1:5-11). He just didn’t tell the Lord ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Forgive me’. He acknowledged what they did and admitted that it was wrong.
The people that returned to Jerusalem after captivity was called the remnant (Nehemiah 1:3). They were the ones that remained. They survived. Even though it didn’t feel good (the results of disobedience), they endured the chastening. Someone once said that if disobedience got you in the situation you’re in, then obedience can get you out. So true!
For years, I believed a certain way, I thought a certain way, and I behaved a certain way. Just like Eve, I knew what God said, but because what I heard sounded good and what I saw looked pleasant to the eyes, I disobeyed God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they hid and sometimes we hide because we think that God doesn’t want to look at us anymore. We’re ashamed of ourselves and what we’ve done so we think God is mad at us or ashamed of us, but God says, If you return to Me, I’ll return to you.
I couldn’t see things clearly because of the walls (lies) that the enemy had built in my life, but every time I hear a sure word or receive revelation concerning something I’m dealing with now, the walls begin to fall. God is tearing down every belief, thought and lie of the enemy so that He can build me the way He wants me to be. Is not my word like as a fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29)?
God wants to take away the old so He can give you something new – a new heart and a new spirit. He wants to remove the stubborn heart and replace it with an obedient heart (Ezekiel 36:26). Some have lost strength along the way and some have lost their trust and faith in God and in His word, but God is able to restore and rebuild those things, too.
Let God rebuild you so that you can help rebuild others.
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.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sit not down first, and count the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? (Luke 14:28)
I was 23 when I got married. I think I got married seven or eight months after meeting him. I’m not sure why there was a rush, but we didn’t take the time to get to know each other. We lived in two different states. There was no pre-marital counseling. I can’t speak for him, but I know I didn’t count the cost and before we reached our first wedding anniversary, my vow changed from ‘I do’ to ‘I don’t’. I was ready to pack up my things and move back home. The only reason why I stayed as long as I did was because my dad wouldn’t come and pick me up. (You laugh, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
When I said my wedding vows, I was just repeating what the preacher said. I never thought about what I was saying or what those words meant. I made a promise in the moment that I couldn’t keep once I was out of the moment. Preparing the wedding was easy, but I didn’t know what it took to build a marriage and I didn’t know the work that was involved in staying married. It’s easy to be faithful and committed for better, but what about for worse?
Jesus never told anyone who made the decision to follow Him that it would be easy.
And a certain scribe came and said unto Him, “Master, I will follow You wherever You go”. And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:19-20).
And He said unto another, Follow Me, but he said, Lord, let me first go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God (Luke 9:59-60).
In Luke 14, Jesus was teaching great multitudes about discipleship. The number of people following Him increased, but Jesus wasn’t impressed by the numbers. Not everyone following Him wanted to be discipled. To become a disciple, you had to be made a disciple and not everyone wants to go through what it takes to be made. Jesus tells them three things that will keep them from being true disciples:
1) If your relationship with others (parent, spouse, children, etc) can easily affect your relationship with Him and if you can’t love Him more than you love your own life, you can’t be His disciple (Luke 14:26).
2) If you are not willing to endure whatever may come, you can’t be His disciple (Luke 14:27).
3) If you don’t forsake or give up all, you can’t be His disciple (Luke 14:33).
To explain it further, Jesus used three examples: building a tower, a king making war against another king and salt. Let’s address the builder. First of all, you must save your money because it takes money to build a tower, but this is not the only cost you must consider. Building a tower also takes time. How long will it take? It requires a lot of work. How many hours a day will you invest in this project? Also, you can’t do this alone. You will need the help of others (architects, contractors, landscapers, etc). Can you be trusted with this task? People are depending on you. You can’t just quit on them. Yes, the enemy will tell you that it’s too hard. He will even send people to discourage you – to get you to focus on what you see (or don’t see yet).Things may go wrong in the building process and things may not go as smoothly as you thought it would, but that doesn’t mean you should ‘pack your bags and go back home’. This is not the time to quit! Preparing the site and laying down the foundation is the easy part, but will you be able to finish what you started?
You got saved through faith. If it took faith to start, it is going to take faith to finish. Count the cost. You will have to invest time in reading your bible and in much prayer. You will need the support and help of other believers (Hebrews 10:25). It will not always be easy. In this world, you will have tribulation, the world will hate you, you will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake, you will be betrayed, men will say all manner of evil against you falsely (for Christ’s sake), but you will have to learn how to endure some things. Endure means that you don’t let anything or anyone stop you. What you go through may seem difficult, but don’t stop. Go through it patiently. If you decided to believe God yesterday, then decide to believe Him today and believe Him tomorrow. Do not quit. Stand firm in the faith so that you can say what Jesus said – It is finished.
There was a time when many of Jesus’ disciples went back and walked no more with Him (John 6:6). Some of us are thinking about going back because someone offended us at church or your marriage failed or you lost your job or because God’s way seems too difficult. He has already promised that He will never leave you. Don’t leave Him just because it feels like He left you. He never left. God is telling us the same thing that Elijah told the prophets of Baal – Make up your minds! If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him (1 Kings 18:21).
Are you ready to fully commit yourself to Him? Are you ready to present your whole body as a living sacrifice? If you are going to follow God, follow Him all the way. He doesn’t want you to put your hand to the plow in the beginning only to look back in the middle. Anyone who does this is not fit (useful or qualified) for the kingdom of God. Last month, I was sad and disappointed about something and the Lord said to me, Just because you haven’t received what you prayed for yet, doesn’t mean that I don’t care. I cared enough to spare you. He had a very good point. If you don’t get the things you want or if things don’t go the way you think they should go, will you still love Him? Will you still trust Him? Will you still obey Him? Or will you leave Him also?
You may not understand the price Jesus paid, but what He endured was worth it and when you count the cost of following Him, you will realize that it is worth it also. To follow Christ will cost you something, but the cost of following Him is much better than the cost of not following Him.
Be encouraged…and finish it!
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith ~ 2 Timothy 4:7