humble

Living Single V

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Even though God has told me on three separate occasions that He was going to bless me with a husband, I got weary along the way. It’s been almost twelve years since my divorce and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever marry again.

Maybe God changed His mind.

Maybe you don’t deserve a husband.

Maybe the person God had for you married someone else.

That’s what the enemy was telling me.

I knew the last relationship I was involved in wasn’t going to last because he wasn’t what God described, but because I was tired of waiting and tired of being alone, I settled. I thought God had forgotten about me. I had become this woman that I didn’t like – desperate, begging for love and attention. To be in that relationship, I had to compromise, but what I was doing to please man wasn’t pleasing to God. I made sacrifices hoping to make someone happy, but when was I going to become a sacrifice to God? When was I going to make Him happy?

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 (Romans 12:1).

God said that if His people, who are called by His name, will humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and He will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14). A lot of us want God to hear us when we pray, we want Him to forgive us and to heal us, but some of us only want to pray, but we don’t want to turn.

I repented to God for not trusting Him and for making a decision without consulting Him first.

Although that was good, it wasn’t enough. I had to also turn.

So I let Ishmael go so that what God promised (Isaac) can come.

 

Humble Yourself

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humble: to surrender, to subdue by self-denial, to depend on God

Naaman was described in the bible as a man who was great, honorable and mighty, but he had a problem.  He was a leper (2 Kings 5:1).  We are not told how long he was in this condition.  The bible doesn’t mention that he was trying to seek help from anyone or anything, but I’m sure like some of us, he was probably trying to figure out what to do or how to fix his problem.   I can only imagine his relief once his wife told him that her mistress knew a prophet that could heal him of his leprosy.

I know leprosy was addressed as an incurable disease, but there was a woman in the book of Numbers who was healed of leprosy.  She wasn’t born with it.  She became leprous after she spoke against her brother and God’s servant, Moses.  When Moses interceded on her behalf, God healed her.  I don’t know if Naaman had ever heard of Miriam, but he had faith to believe that he would be healed.  Had he not believed, he would have never left Syria.

But when he arrived to Elisha’s house, the prophet didn’t come outside. He sent his messenger instead to give Naaman simple instructions.  Maybe because of his position, he was used to being treated a certain way, but he didn’t get the special treatment he was expecting.  Not only was he told what to do, but he was told what will be done for him ‘if’ he obeyed.  And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean”  (2 Kings 5:10).

Naaman just didn’t have a problem with the message, but he had a problem with the messenger.  This was a servant, not a prophet, telling him what to do.  Instead of doing what he was told, he was offended and angry. But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy’  (2 Kings 5:11).

Just like Naaman, we have it all planned out and we think we know how God is going to do it, but God doesn’t think the way we think (Isaiah 55:8). Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage  (2 Kings 5:12).  Naaman thought his way was better.

Does it seem like you’re always struggling (a long effort to deal with something that is difficult or that causes problems)?  I’m not saying that we will never go through anything, but we have told people in the church, The struggle is over, but we didn’t tell them the struggle won’t be over until they do what God told them to do.

It’s so easy to blame the devil, people or God for what we’re going through, but it’s not them.  It’s you.  You are struggling because of you.  You are struggling because of the choices YOU made or refuse to make.  Your current condition isn’t incurable (not able to be changed or corrected).  Some of you have said, But I tried.  Yes, you did try – your way, but did you try it God’s way?

Naaman had good servants.  They held him accountable for his behavior.  And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?”  (2 Kings 5:13). What they were really saying was, If you were told to do something that you wanted to do, you would have done it.  You see, when Naaman left for Israel, he took ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold and ten new outfits.  He didn’t have a problem giving his money, but that’s not what was asked of him.

Sometimes, God will ask you to give the very thing that you’re holding onto or is holding you back – that is keeping you from receiving what you’re asking or praying for.  Remember the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life?  Although he had money and possessions, he knew there was something missing.  He wasn’t whole.  When Jesus mentioned the commandments, he was so proud of himself because he wasn’t doing any of those things (committing adultery, killing, stealing, lying or disrespecting his parents).  He liked what Jesus was saying at first, but then Jesus said something that he didn’t like.  Sell all that you have, distribute them to the poor, and follow Me  (Luke 18:22).  The ruler walked away sad because he was very rich.  He wanted what he was asking for, but he wanted it on his own terms.

Although Naaman didn’t want to do it, when he got tired of being in the condition he was in, he humbled himself and obeyed.  One of the reasons why people aren’t ‘healed’ in certain areas of their lives is because of pride.  Pride is when you think your way is better than God’s way.  It is when you think you are always right.  Sometimes you will have to apologize even when you didn’t do anything wrong.  Pride will tell you not to apologize until they apologize first.  Pride will never admit it is wrong.  Unfortunately, some great relationships have been destroyed because we were more concerned about being right rather than living right.

I think back to some things that God told me to do, but I didn’t do them.  The instructions weren’t hard or impossible.  They were so simple, but I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to.  I thought there was another way or a better way.  There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death  (Proverbs 14:12)

Paul was a Pharisee and he thought the things he were doing were right.  He persecuted and jailed anyone who preached or followed the teachings of Jesus Christ.  But one day as he was traveling to Damascus to put followers of Christ in jail, a light from heaven shined around him and he heard a voice.  It was Jesus.  Saul, why do you persecute Me? (Acts 9:4).  Jesus told Saul that in trying to hurt Him, he was hurting himself.  Instead of Saul continuing to do what he thought was right, he humbled himself and asked, Lord, what will you have me to do?  (Acts 9:6).

This is what God wants us to ask Him.  Maybe we haven’t asked this question because we’re afraid of what His answer will be.  He doesn’t want us to trust in ourselves, but to trust in Him and do what He wants us to do.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths  (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Health wasn’t restored to Naaman after dipping in the water the first, third or fifth time.  To see results, he had to obey God fully, not partially.  The good news is that Naaman just didn’t receive his healing, but he also learned who God is.  Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel  (2 Kings 5:15).

We are so close to the very thing God has promised us, but pride and disobedience will keep us from receiving what was promised.  Remember, God fights against those who are proud, but he helps those who are humble (James 4:6).

Humble yourself.

 

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

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

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.

Learn to Wait

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wait: stay where one is or delay action until a particular time; to stay in place with expectation

I think one of the reasons why we get ourselves in a mess from time to time is because we don’t want to wait.

In Luke 15, a certain man had two sons and the younger son had a waiting problem, too.  Father, give me the share (portion) of property (estate, inheritance) that is coming to me (vs 12, ESV).  According to his statement, it wasn’t his time – yet.  Normally, a person has to die before his/her property is transferred to another person, but this young man couldn’t wait for his father to die.  He wanted to possess what was promised to him NOW.  There is a right time for everything, but when you refuse to wait, impatience leads to stupid mistakes (Proverbs 14:29, CEB).

He was where he needed to be, but not many days after receiving what rightfully belonged to him, he left for a country that was far away – from his father, from his position and from the life already chosen for him.  Had he understood all  that his father had, he would have never asked for a portion.  His father was training him and preparing him for what was coming to him, but he left the process prematurely.  He thought he knew more than his father.  He thought he had it figured out.  What he didn’t know was that responsibility came with the inheritance.  I’m not sure of his age, but asking for something only to use it on oneself was a sign of immaturity.

Sometimes the enemy will try to convince you that you’re missing out on something or that you’re running out of time. I don’t know what he was in search of, but whatever it was, he never found it because it was in the place that he left.  He wasted his substance living a life contrary to the one that he was taught.  He knew right from wrong.  The moment he spent it all, a mighty famine came and he began to be in want.  He wasn’t prepared for a time such as this.  When he lived with his father, he didn’t want for anything, but in this country, he had to toil and no one gave him anything.  He was feeding another’s man pigs, but he himself was hungry – so hungry that he desired to eat what the pigs were eating.  No one cared for him or took care of him like his father.

I’m not sure how long he worked in the fields, but he was literally in a mess – a pig’s mess, to be exact.  He probably was afraid to go back home.  What would his father say?  Would his father receive him again?  Maybe he was too ashamed to go back home so he tried to stick it out.  He tried to fix what he messed up.  He tried to make things work.  But one day, he finally came to his senses.  He remembered that his father was rich and had hired servants.  So, if his father was rich, that meant he was rich, too.

Some of us have been in situations longer than we should have been.  You’re not waiting on God. God is waiting on you to come to yourself.  The younger son made a choice – to arise and go (vs 18).  Yes, he could have left at anytime, but he had to first want to leave.  He had to get tired of being in that situation.  He could have said, I want to go home, but I don’t have the money, which would have been a true statement, but he didn’t let anything stop him.  He had been in that field long enough.

Make a choice, not excuses.

This young man didn’t wallow in guilt or self-pity.  He didn’t beat himself up over his mistakes.  He walked away from his past and walked into his future.  You must do what he did and lay aside the weight.  You’re not going to go very far in life (or in ministry) being bitter, angry, refusing to forgive, blaming other people or refusing to do what God told you to do.  The ability to get up – to arise – is in you.  The only person who is stopping you is you.

It was going to be a long journey back home, but that journey was life changing because it caused him to humble himself and to repent of his sin (vs 21).  What was so beautiful about this parable was that in the end, he got what his father wanted him to have all along – the best!

Bring forth the best  (vs 22).

To every purpose, there is time.  Don’t focus on the time – When is God going to do it?  Focus on the purpose – What am I doing now?  I know we want things now, but if you learn to wait, you will not be disappointed because the Lord is good to those who wait for HIM (Lamentations 3:25).

A Prayer for All Saints

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Father, forgive us for sinning against you.  Forgive us for grieving your Holy Spirit.   May believers everywhere humble themselves, pray, seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways.  Lead us to true repentance by Your Spirit.  May we return to our posts as watchmen on the wall, not keeping silent day or night.

By Your Spirit, raise up those who are spiritually dead and spiritually sleeping.  I pray that we return to our first love and to our first works.  Raise up apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers after Your own heart, who will do all that You have commanded them to do.  Raise up pastors who will feed Your people with knowledge and understanding.  I pray for the manifestation of the sons of the God.

Give us a thirst and hunger for righteousness.  Restore the joy of our salvation.  Help us by Your Spirit to stir up the gift of God and to not neglect the gift that is in us.  May You find us with our loins girded about and our lights burning.

The gates of hell will not prevail against the church.  We will not faint.  Our faith will not fail.  Ever demonic plan and plot sent to put us under is going under now.  I break it in many pieces in the name of Jesus.  I command Your light to shine in our churches, homes, businesses, communities and cities and to expose every work of the devil in the name of Jesus.

I bind and rebuke the spirit of dissension, discord and division against the church and I loose the spirit of love.  I loose the spirit of power.  I assassinate every demonic assignment sent to assassinate, paralyze, destroy and slowly silence Your people.  Shame, embarrassment and humiliation will not come to our doors, but it shall be the portion of the wicked.

Forgive us for the way we treat our brothers and sisters.  Forgive us for hurting those whom You have sent to help us.  Forgive us for not obeying those that have rule over us.  Forgive us for not submitting to them.  Help us to be slow to anger and quick to forgive.  Help us to love You with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor.  We repent of selfishness, pride, slothfulness, complacency and disobedience.  Forgive us for seeking to be served when You have sent us to serve and to give life to others.

I pray that we all become serious about You.  May we seek a real relationship with You.  Forgive us for playing games.  Forgive us for seeking after those things that the heathen seek after.  Forgive us for trying to conform to this world.  Forgive us for withholding the truth and help us to speak the truth in love.  Forgive us for just wanting to be hearers and not doers also.  May we be the church that Your Son is coming back for – holy and without blemish.

Thank You for being patient with us, thank You that You don’t want any of us to perish and thank You for giving us space to repent.  Amen.

You Are in the Right Place

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Have you ever felt like you were on the wrong job or in the wrong city or married to the wrong person? For some of you who are reading this, God is saying, You are in the right place.  The Israelites probably felt like the wilderness was the wrong place, but God led them through the right place for forty years to humble them, to prove them and to know what was in their hearts, whether they would obey Him or not (Deuteronomy 8:2). When God delivered them from Egypt, they danced and praised Him with their mouths, but to know what was in their hearts, they had to be tested (proven). He allowed them to go hungry just to see how they would react (Deuteronomy 8:3). In the wilderness, He was stripping them of pride and teaching them how to trust and to solely depend on Him. God wanted them to obey Him so that they would live, prosper, enter and own the land that He promised their ancestors (Deuteronomy 8:1, MSG). He was trying to give them something. He wanted them to have what their ancestors never had.

Last week, my manager told me that she was giving me more responsibilities because I wasn’t created to just do what I was doing and that there was more in me. I loved all the things she was saying until she said, ‘And I’m going to squeeze it out of you’. Squeeze??? Sounds like it’s going to hurt and it sounds uncomfortable, too. There are a lot of things that may not sound good, but it is good for you. You see, nothing can grow when it is comfortable. What God was doing then in them is what He is doing now in us. The purpose of the humbling and the testing is so that He may do you good in the latter end (Deuteronomy 8:16). He is preparing us for the good that He wants to give us, but can He trust us? When He does what He said, will we forget Him?

God is also doing in us what He did in the earth on the first day of creation. He is still separating light and darkness. The bible tells us that God saw that the light was good, but He never said darkness was good (Genesis 3:4). God loved the world so much that He gave us the true Light and now it’s time for us to be the children of light. We are in the world, but the world shouldn’t be in us. We can’t make a difference if we choose to remain the same as the world. What fellowship can light have with darkness? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord  (2 Corinthians 6:17).

Let us become like the two blind men who wanted what Jesus came to give them. Jesus had just left Jairus’ house. The ruler’s daughter was pronounced dead, but now she was alive. The blind men heard about what happened, faith came based upon what they heard and they followed Jesus. If Jesus could raise up that young girl, surely He could restore their sight. The bible tells us that the men cried, but Jesus kept walking. They also asked Jesus to have mercy on them, but Jesus kept walking. Then, Jesus went inside a house. Anyone else would have thought that Jesus didn’t hear them or He didn’t care or maybe they didn’t deserve it, but these men didn’t stay outside. They didn’t turn back around and they didn’t give up. Instead, they continued to seek Him and they followed Him inside the house. It wasn’t their crying that moved Him, but it was their ‘Yes, Lord’ (Matthew 9:28) and their faith that moved Him (Matthew 9:29).

God didn’t force it on them and He’s not going to force it on you. You have to want what God has given you. Not only were these men in the right place to hear what Jesus had done, but their hearts were in the right place. They believed what they heard. The King James version tells us that Jesus told the men, According to your faith be it unto you, but I love what The Message version says: Become what you believe  (Matthew 9:29). The reason why some of us haven’t become what we heard is because we don’t believe. The reason why certain things haven’t come into existence yet is because we don’t believe. You must believe that God is able to do this (Matthew 9:28).

In the wilderness, God brought water out of a very hard rock (Deuteronomy 8:15) and He is able to bring forth much more out of His people – even the stubborn, the proud or the ones set in their ways – IF we would become willing and obedient. Just as dead Lazarus was commanded to come forth, so shall every gift, every calling, every word and every fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) come forth because God has commanded it. The church as well as the world needs what’s in you. Don’t resist what God is doing because it’s uncomfortable and don’t give up because it seems too hard because there is nothing too hard for the Lord.

Today, believe that God has you in the right place. Believe that He knows what He is doing. He is good and everything He does or allows the enemy to do still works together for good to them that love Him and to them who are the called according to His purpose. It may look like nothing good can come from the wilderness and it may look like nothing can grow there, but trust God.

You are in the right place.