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Don’t Let Go

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I think sometimes we give up too quickly.

If we don’t get the promotion or the loan or the new home, we quickly assume that it must not be a part of God’s will or plan. And some of us don’t even try again or fight through prayer and fasting because we want everything to come easy.

Sometimes we blame the devil, but maybe it is God using your enemy. Sometimes God hardens the hearts of the supervisor or the loan officer as he did with Pharaoh. Maybe the opposition comes to see how bad you really want the thing you’ve been praying for.

Other times, we blame God, but it is the enemy at work. He is the one behind the disappointment, the hurt, and the rejection. He doesn’t want you to ever receive what Christ has already given you. The enemy already knows that He can’t stop God, but he is hoping that he can stop you. He is betting on you to give up. He is hoping that you quit. 

It is going to take a strong hand, but whatever God promised you, the enemy is going to let it go. In the meantime, he is hoping that you will let go of God and every blessing He promised, but he will be disappointed.

I know sometimes it seems like certain things will never happen for you, but don’t faint while doing good.  You can’t spend the rest of your life blaming the devil or being angry with God. Sometimes it’s not them. It’s you. It’s your disobedience. It’s your laziness.

For every no, you are about to hear a yes – if you don’t faint. But you must make up in your mind that in this season you will not let God go until He blesses you.

And he said, I will not let you go, except you bless me (Genesis 32:26).

The Lord Is Not Slack

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My daughter recently tried out for varsity cheerleader and she made it. I am so proud of her, but I couldn’t help but think that that was once my desire. I, too, wanted to be a cheerleader. In fact, one of my classmates was willing to help me and prepare me for tryouts, but I just talked about it. I never prepared for it.

Two things my daughter taught me:

    1. What you refuse to do, someone else will do.

    2. If you want it, you must go after it.

And Joshua said to the children of Israel, How long are you slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers has given you? (Joshua 18:3)

God had given land to twelve tribes, but only five tribes had possessed what was promised to them. Why didn’t the remaining seven tribes go after it? I don’t know if they had gotten weary along the way, but they just stopped and settled for where they were and for what they had. Joshua, however, described them as being slack. The word, slack, means to move slow, to not hold fast, and to waste time.

Some of us are slack. We talk about all the things we want to do and what we want to be, but we procrastinate. We put off for tomorrow what we should do today. We make excuses. We find time to do everything else except the thing that we should be doing. We start doing what God told us to do and then we stop.

The word ‘stay’ appears 62 times in the bible and the word ‘wait’ appears in the bible 106 times, but the word ‘go’ appears in the bible 1,542 times (King James Version).

Sometimes we think that God is moving too slow. The problem isn’t that God hasn’t sent His word. The problem is we won’t go. God has already given us what He promised. It is yours, but you must go and possess it.

God is not slack concerning His promises and neither should we.

How Far Are You Willing to Go?

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Now the Lord had said to Abram, Get out of your country from your family and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.

I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing (Genesis 12:1-2).

God is telling some of you what He told Abram because He wants you to go where you’ve never gone before and He wants you to do what you’ve never done before.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11:8).

Abraham had faith and obeyed God. He was told to go to the land that God had said would be his, and he left for a country he had never seen (Contemporary English Version).

Faith motivated Abraham to obey God’s call and leave the familiar to discover the territory he was destined to inherit from God. So he left with only a promise and without even knowing ahead of time where he was going, Abraham stepped out in faith (The Passion Translation).

To go to a place that you don’t know sometimes will require you to leave a place that you do know. For Abram to become what God promised in Genesis 12:2, he had to first obey Genesis 12:1. Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is to leave certain people. Abram couldn’t leave Lot. That was his nephew. But the thing Abram found hard to do finally had to be done. There had to be a separation.

Sometimes the person you refuse to let go of is the person who is keeping you from seeing what God promised. The moment Lot left Abraham to enter the land he had chosen, then Abraham could see what God had promised.

And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot was separated from him, Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward and westward. For all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever (Genesis 13:14).

You are different, but you keep fighting to remain the same. You are not like the others, but you try to be like them. Like Israel, you want what the other nations have when they be should desiring what you have. You should be like Peter, who chose to walk on water while others chose to stay in the ship.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13).

God is making you, but you’re fighting the way He is taking you because the way is not always easy. You fight it because you would rather walk with many than to walk with a few, but the way that many are taking leads to destruction.

When I talk about going to a place in God that you’ve never been before, I’m not talking about a physical location. I’m talking about a spiritual location. I’m talking about your relationship with Him. I’m talking about getting closer to Him than you’ve ever been before. I’m talking about you drawing so close to Him that He asks, Who touched me?

God wants us to come up higher and to come closer. Zaccheus climbed a tree to see Jesus. Moses climbed a mountain and God spoke to him face to face as a man speaks to his friend.

Terah took his grandson (Lot), his son (Abram) and his daughter-in-law (Sarai) and they left Ur to go to the land of Canaan, but when they reached Haran, they settled there. Abram’s father died never entering Canaan. Abram, on the other hand, refused to settle and he chose to go all the way.

Now…

Do you want to go to a place in God that you’ve never been before? And if so, how far are you willing to go?

You’ve Been in This Long Enough

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Although you remember what happened the last time you disobeyed God, the enemy will try to convince you that if you do it again, the next time will be different, but that’s a lie. The truth is if you do it again, the result will either be the same as the last time or it may be worse.

The longer you disobey God, the longer you will stay on ‘this mount’. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful that when we don’t pass the test, God allows us to take the test again, but when will we get tired of taking the same test? When will we get tired of going around the same circle?

You have dwelt long enough in this mount (Deuteronomy 1:6, KJV).

Jesus defeated our enemies. He stripped principalities and powers. He exposed them publicly. He brought them to open shame. He won victory over them. He showed the world that our enemies are powerless. He led them away as captives. He took from them what was taken from Adam and gave it to us. He received power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing (Revelation 5:12) and then he gave them to us.

Don’t let the enemy trick you. Every time I obeyed the flesh or the devil, something God gave me was stolen. I gave back to the enemy what God gave to me. But Jesus didn’t lose and we’re not going to lose – anymore. Turn and take your journey and go to the mount of the Amorites and to all the places near (Deuteronomy 1:7). God gave the Israelites specific instructions, but nothing happened until they did what He told them to do.

Staying on ‘this mount’ is a choice. You can move at any time, but you must make up your mind.  You don’t have to remain here when there is something far better ahead of you. What God promised you is near. It is not afar off, but you must decide and do what He told you to do, not what you want to do.

You have dwelt long enough in fear, doubt, shame, hurt, disappointment, unforgiveness and anger. Don’t let these things keep you from possessing what God promised you.

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.

 

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.

Let It Be

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Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:38, NJKV).

God sent an angel to Mary.  Gabriel told her she was going to become a mother.  You shall conceive in your womb  (vs 31).  He also told her what she would carry and who He would become.  He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest  (vs 32).

All of this sounded good, but Mary had one question.  How can this be?  (vs 34).  How was she going to have a baby?  She was a virgin and she wasn’t married yet.  The angel explained to her who would do the work – the Holy Ghost (vs 35).  It wouldn’t be by her power or by Joseph’s might.  It would be by HIS Spirit.

The angel knew that what he told Mary sounded impossible so to build her faith, he told her about her cousin (vs 36).  Elizabeth was barren and too old to be a mother. No one ever thought she would have a child, but in three months she was going to have a son.

The impossible is possible – with God.

The angel said what God told him to say.  Now, Mary had to make a decision.  According to Luke 1:38, she decided to serve the Lord.  I am the servant of the Lord.  Mary had no idea what she was about to go through.  She didn’t know that she would have to leave her home, leave their families and flee to Egypt during the night to protect her son.  Even though Simeon prophesied that she would suffer as though she had been stabbed with a sword, she didn’t know that meant watching her son being mocked, beaten, spat on and crucified.  My point is this: Even though she didn’t have all of the details, she surrendered.  She trusted God.  She wanted what God wanted and she was willing to do whatever He commanded.  Her response to God was, Use meDo what You want, not what I want.

Maybe God has told you what you are going to do for Him and who you are going to become and just like Mary, you either looked at your past or your present condition, and wondered how.  How is this going to happen?  I don’t have a college degree.  I don’t have a spouse.  I don’t have that much money in the bank.  I don’t know anyone who could help me. I don’t speak very well in front of people.

But I will tell you what Gabriel told Mary.  The Lord is with you  (vs 28).  You don’t have to be afraid.  You were chosen for this.  What you are carrying and will bring forth is great.  What you must go through is going to save and deliver many.

Stop running.  Stop resisting.  Stop fighting God and let it be – according to His word.  Let it happen.  Stop trying to figure it out.  Stop thinking about yourself and think about those who are hurting.  Think about those who are bound.  Think about those who are not saved.  This isn’t about you.  Forget about your plans and find out what His plan is.  Make a decision.

Mary’s mind was made up. 

It didn’t matter that Elizabeth was old or that Mary wasn’t married.  God is able to perform what He promised.  No word from Him will ever fail.  If He said it, then He will do it.  All He needs from you is your obedience.  All He needs is a ‘yes’.  What has been hard for you is not too hard for the Lord.

Maybe you’re thinking about what happened the last time.  Like Simon, you tried and nothing happened.  We have toiled all night and have taken nothing  (Luke 5:5). You were disappointed.  You had enough.  You were even thinking about giving up.

But, try again.  Trust God again.  Nevertheless at your word, I will let down the net  (Luke 5:5).  Sometimes we have this picture of how the ministry, the marriage, the career, or the children should be, but let go of what or how you think it should be. You have to believe that what God wants to give you is better than what you’re holding onto.  Let it go and…

Let it be.