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Give Honor

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You can’t talk about the relationship between Ruth and Naomi without talking about honor. To honor someone is to grant a person a position of respect and authority and to value someone highly.

I believe one of the reasons why some of us haven’t seen God do what He promised is because we refuse to honor and respect the people who He has placed in our lives to guide us, to train us and to help us. Seven months ago, God toId me something regarding my pastors that I will never forget: They are not perfect, but they can help get you to where you need to be.

When Ruth honored Naomi, she honored God. We sometimes don’t see it this way, but when Naomi gave Ruth instructions, it was God giving Ruth instructions. It’s interesting how some of us go to church Sunday after Sunday and yet still struggle to believe what the man or woman of God said, but Ruth believed what Naomi said. The moment she obeyed, God blessed her.

You will only obey what you honor.

One of the reasons why we are so quick to leave a thing or a person is because we were never really committed to begin with. When things got tough, Ruth stuck it out with Naomi. Where you go, I go. Your people will be my people, and your God my God (Ruth 1:14, 16). She had the option to leave, but she chose to stay. When we get our feelings hurt, when someone offends us or when things aren’t going the way we planned, some of us leave (Orpah).  We leave the church. We leave good friendships.  We walk away from the very thing that God is trying to give to us.

We don’t know all the details, but Ruth went through some things. She lost a husband. She faced a famine. She had to go out and work – something she didn’t have to do prior to her husband’s death. But despite the difficulties she faced, she remained faithful.

Naomi and Ruth were two different women from different backgrounds. They had different beliefs. They didn’t serve the same God. One was much older than the other, but despite the differences, Ruth took very good care of who God had placed in her life. And Naomi wasn’t even her biological mother. She was her mother-in-law, but because Ruth took care of Naomi, God had to take care of her.

Ruth’s life would have never become as great as it did had she not honored who God had placed in her life. And I’m not just talking about the fact that she got another husband or a child out of this situation, but look at how God used Ruth to get Jesus here to us. And Boaz begat Obed of Ruth…and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born, who is called Christ (Matthew 1:5, 16).

Let us learn to honor others. You don’t know what it is that God is trying to birth out of you. God knows what you need (as well as the generation after you) and He knows how to get it to you, but sometimes it will come through people that you didn’t expect it to come through or through people who don’t always say what you want to hear.

But before you get upset or offended, remember it is God’s message. They are just the messenger.

Give respect to those you should respect and honor those you should honor (Romans 13:7, CEB).

It’s Not the Time to Give Up

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Lord, I know You won’t give up on me, but please help ME not to give up on ME.

Give What You Have

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“You may not have what others have, but you have something.”

 

But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold! But I will give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, get up and start walking” (Acts 3:6, CEV).

Just Say No

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And the devil, taking him up into a high mountain, showed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give you, and the glory of them: for that is delivered to me and to whoever I will I give it.
If you therefore will worship me, all this shall be yours.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get behind me, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord yout God, and him only shall you serve (Luke 4:5-8).

When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he tempted him with all the things in the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

Yes, the word of God is full of power, but one of the most powerful words you can tell the devil is no.

In the above passage, we read that Jesus responded to the devil with scripture, but all he was saying was no.

The Israelites couldn’t enter the Promised Land until they passed the test in the wilderness. Jesus didn’t enter into public ministry until he passed the test in the wilderness.

When satan tempts you, he shows you what he will give you (pleasure, enjoyment, fun), but he never shows you the consequences of your choices (sorrow). How do you know when you’re about to enter into the thing that God promised you? Because the devil will come to you, offering to give you things to keep you from getting the things God promised you.

Say no to his lies.

Say no to his advances.

Say no to his temptations.

Just say no.

Make Me

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make: to prepare; to cause a person or thing to become something

Caleb was 40 years old when God made a promise that he and Joshua would possess the land. The ten spies, whose report caused all of the congregation to complain against God, died immediately, but He let Caleb and Joshua live (Numbers 14:36-38).

It had been forty five years since the promise was made, but Caleb held fast all those years. He didn’t let go and he didn’t give up until Joshua blessed him. At the age of 85, he reminded Joshua of what the Lord promised him through Moses. But my servant Caleb, because he had a different spirit and has followed me fully, him will I bring into the land where into he went and his seed shall possess it (Numbers 14:24). He reminded Joshua how he followed the Lord, how his faith pleased the Lord. Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it (Numbers 13:30).

And when he was finish presenting his case, he told Joshua, Give me this mountain that the Lord spoke of on that day. He didn’t beg Joshua for it because he knew that what he was asking for belonged to him. So, Joshua blessed him and gave him his inheritance.

When was the last time you put God in remembrance of His word? When was the last time you proved Him? When was the last time you presented your case to Him? When was the last time you pleased Him? But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

God didn’t keep and preserve Caleb all those years for nothing. He was still alive because the promise was still alive. But just like Caleb knew what God said, we must know what God said through His word.  He also knew that the word he heard was for him and his seed and he believed.

An heir is one who receives what is allotted to him through sonship. The word, child, comes from the greek word, nepios, which means an immature Christian, one who is untaught or haven’t grown in spiritual understanding and power. Caleb had the attitude and character of an heir, not a child.

Maybe the reason why some of us haven’t received what has been promised to us yet is because although we are heirs, we are still a child in certain areas (Galatians 4:1). As parents, there are certain things that we would never entrust to our children until they were mature enough for it. And as the children of God, many of us are asking for things, but we aren’t ready for the things we are asking for.

When the younger son asked his father for the portion of goods that belonged to him, the father gave it to him only for him to squander it foolishly. But he learned through what he went through that he should have said, Make me (Luke 15:19) before he said, Give me (Luke 15:12).

We’re asking God to give us things (and that’s fine), but let us ask God to make us for what He wants to give us.

If God Gives It to You, Will You Give It Back to Him?

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And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you (1 Samuel 1:11, NLT).

Elkanah had two wives.

Well, that was the first problem.

The second problem was one of his wives, Hannah, was unable to have children.  Can you imagine having everything you need to conceive (reproductive organs) only to be unable to produce or to give life?  The scriptures never mentioned that she was in this condition because of something she or her parents did or that the devil did this, but it was God who had shut up her womb (1 Samuel 1:5-6).

This woman was unable to do the one thing she should have been able to do for her husband – give him children.  Some women don’t know what it’s like to become pregnant while others know what it feels like to carry something inside of them that was once alive only for it to later die.  Either way, it can be very disappointing for a woman who desires to be a mother.

Maybe your physical womb isn’t shut up, but maybe there are words or promises that God gave you that seem to be ‘shut up’.  Usually when someone uses the term, ‘shut up’, they want you to stop speaking and maybe right now it feels like that vision, dream or promise will never speak (Habakkuk 2:3).

Peninnah isn’t just described as Elkanah’s other wife, but she was also described as one of the names to describe the devil – adversary (1 Samuel 1:6; 1 Peter 5:8).  I don’t know how many years this went on, but year after year, her adversary made fun of her.  She made her feel bad about not being able to have children and she would provoke her trying to get a reaction.  I’m sure Peninnah said things such as:

Elkanah doesn’t really love you.

You will never be a mother.

You will never have children.

Hannah never talked back to her adversary like Jesus did when he was tempted of the devil in the wilderness and soon the words of her adversary made her fret (to be worried, anxious, easily annoyed or irritated).  She stopped eating and cried all the time.  She was sad and depressed and there was nothing Elkanah could do or say to make her feel better.  When Elkanah gave a sacrifice to the Lord, he gave portions of his sacrifice to Peninnah and her children, but because Hannah didn’t have any children, he gave her a worthy or double portion.  He loved Hannah more than he loved Peninnah, but that didn’t comfort Hannah either.  (That could be one of the reasons why Peninnah hated her so much.  Hannah had something (love) that she could never earn despite having many sons and daughters for Elkanah).

You can be married to a wonderful person, but sometimes your spouse doesn’t know what to say or do.  Hannah, why do you weep?  Why do you not eat?  And why is your heart grieved?  Am I not better to you than ten sons?  Elkanah meant well, but he just didn’t understand.  He was talking to her about something he had never experienced.  He already had children.  He knew the joy of having children.  Hannah didn’t.

But one of the things I love about Hannah was her persistence.  When it was time to go to Shiloh every year, she got up, got dressed and went with her husband.  She did this faithfully for years.  She could have decided to stay home because of her adversary.  In fact, that’s exactly what Peninnah wanted her to do, but Hannah didn’t give up.

The next thing that I love about Hannah is she stopped feeling sorry for herself.  When she had enough, she got up (vs 9) and did something about her situation.  She was bitter, she was angry and she was hurting, but in spite of how she felt, she went to the temple and prayed to the Lord.  Only babies cry when they want something because they aren’t able to form words yet, but Hannah wasn’t a baby and it was time for her to grow up.  It was time for her to stop crying (about what she didn’t have) and to start talking.

There was nothing wrong with Hannah wanting a child, but why did she want a child?  To shut Peninnah up?  To say to her, How ya like me now?  One of the reasons why our prayers may go unanswered isn’t because God didn’t hear us, but we may have prayed amiss (James 4:3).  In other words, we asked for things that would only please us instead of asking for things that would please God.

If, in fact, she did have selfish desires, her desires soon changed.  Hannah no longer wanted this child for herself and she promised God that if He gave her a male child that she would give him back to Him.  She asked God to give her something that HE could use for Himself and for His glory.

To some people, it may seem harsh that God would shut a woman’s womb, but there was purpose in what He did.  God knew exactly what He was doing.  If her womb hadn’t been shut up, Hannah would have never sought God the way she did.  Sometimes asking isn’t enough.  You have to also seek and knock (Matthew 7:7-8).  And yes, it was a fight.  Do you think she always felt like walking to Shiloh with Peninnah alongside her?  You don’t think she thought about giving up?  It had now been a long time of waiting, but she kept pressing.  She kept getting up.  She didn’t run from the fight and she didn’t quit when it seemed hard.  Instead, she learned how to fight. Lord, teach our hands to war and our fingers to fight  (Psalm 144:1).

I told you earlier that Hannah’s husband couldn’t comfort her, but the word did.  While Hannah was in the temple, Eli saw her lips moving, but he couldn’t hear what she was saying.  Eli assumed that Hannah must have been drinking because of the way she was carrying on in the temple, but the only thing she was pouring out was her heart to God, not wine.  After Hannah explained to Eli that she wasn’t drunk, he gave her a word.  Go in peace and the God of Israel grant you your petition that you have asked of Him  (1 Samuel 1:17).  She heard and she believed him.  It’s not that the things you are hoping for is impossible.  It may be that you got weary and stopped believing along the way.  If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believe  (Mark 9:23).  Hannah had lost hope, but after she received the word, Hannah ate and she was no longer sad.  The next morning, they got up early, worshipped the Lord, returned home and she put her faith to work (vs 19).

Elkanah went to the temple every year to sacrifice to the Lord, but I believe Hannah gave a better sacrifice.  Before Hannah gave God her son, she gave something better – herself.  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  You see, God had a plan, but He needed a willing and obedient vessel to get His plan here on earth.  For years, Hannah was just going to the temple, but now she was becoming HIS temple – a place where God could live and do what He wanted to do.  Because of the sins of Eli and his sons, God was raising up someone who would do what HE wanted him to do.  Samuel was going to be ordained as the prophet of the Lord.

To give something back to someone means you must return it to its owner.  So just in case you didn’t know, ‘it’ all belongs to God.  I think sometimes we look at giving (and not just money) as a loss – that once we give it away, it’s gone and we’ll probably never get it back again, but that’s not true.  If you don’t give what you have, that’s all you will ever have.  Look at Hannah.  All she prayed for was to have one male child, but the moment she gave him to the Lord, she received more than what she asked for.  Hannah gave her ‘first’ and only child to the Lord and He gave her five children (1 Samuel 2:21).

So many times, we want God to give us something, but what are we willing to give to HIM for all that He has given to us?  You may want a new car because you’re tired of the old one, but God may want you to use it to transport others.  You may want a home because you want your own place and you want some privacy, but God may want you to use that home to start a bible study.  You may want more money so you can buy more things for yourself, but God may want you to use that money to care for the needs of others.  Some of us think that material things are the blessing, but no – you are the blessing!

Now think about the thing you’ve been constantly praying for.  Why do you want it?  Remember, God doesn’t want to give us anything that we will honor more than Him.  He wants to only give us those things that causes us to remember Him, not to forget Him.

And if God gives it to you, will you give it back to Him?

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:27-28).

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.