allow: to give permission; to give consent; to let happen; to let enter; to permit by neglect
People often ask, Why would God allow this to happen? But the real question is, Why did WE allow this to happen?
God has given His children power over all the power of the enemy. God has given us dominion over all the earth. It is our job to help the helpless and those in need. We are to defend those who can’t defend themselves. We are to give justice to the poor and to the orphan. It is our responsibility to pray always and continually for all people because the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:2).
God has appointed watchmen who will not keep silent day or night and who will give Him no rest. We are to be watchful and alert because there is an adversary who is looking for someone to attack and devour.
God brought things to Adam to see what he would call them. He named cattle, birds, and beasts. He even named his wife. What are you calling your marriage? What are you calling your child? What are you saying about yourself? What are you calling that situation? Are you calling it what you see or what it should be? Are you praying for your leaders (political and spiritual)? Are you praying for your country? Are you praying for your city? Are you praying for people or are you talking about them? Are you praying for children other than your own?
When bad things happen, we ask, Where is God? But God is asking, Where are you, Adam? God placed us in the garden for a purpose. We are supposed to be keeping the garden. We are supposed to be watching as well as praying. We are supposed to protect what God has given us. We are supposed to obey God and do what He tells us to do.
So, stop blaming God for what you allowed.
God will only allow what you allow.
I promise you that God in heaven will allow whatever you allow on earth, but he will not allow anything you don’t allow (Matthew 18:18, CEV).
[Scripture references: Luke 10:19; Genesis 3:9; Psalm 82; 1 Peter 5:8; James 5:16; Isaiah 62:2; Genesis 1: 26; Genesis 2:19-20]
I’ll admit it. I like nice things so if someone wants to buy me something nice, I’ll take it.
The Lord wanted me to get rid of it – not because of what it was, but because of who it came from. I’ll give you a good example of what I mean. If a married man buys a single woman a gift without his wife having knowledge of it, that’s wrong and God is not pleased. In fact, God doesn’t have brides. He has one bride – the church and he’s faithful and true to His bride.
I’m not saying that the Lord doesn’t use people to bless us, but He doesn’t hide or lie about what He does. His blessing makes one rich and there is no sorrow added to it. When the enemy gives you something, sorrow comes with it. Maybe not immediately, but it will come. Also, what he gives comes with strings attached. All these things I will give you IF you will fall down and worship me (Matthew 4:9). There is something he expects in return and the thing he wants is more valuable than things. It is so valuable that it could not be purchased with money, but only with Jesus’ blood. And that’s you and your soul.
I wasn’t battling with obeying God. My mind was made up. As soon as I got home, those gifts were leaving my house, but then I realized I didn’t have the money to buy it myself.
Then the Lord said, I can afford you.
I laughed so hard and I felt so silly.
Of course, He can afford me. He made me and He is able take care of me.
So, yeah. I got rid of the gifts and I’m happy – because I obeyed God.
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.
The Lord told Joshua that he was giving him and the children of Israel the city of Jericho, but how was this going to happen? The walls were high, the gates were tightly shut, and the children of Israel were unable to enter in.
After God told them what He was going to do, He told them what they needed to do. Every day for six days, they had to go around the city one time. They could not shout or make any noise. They didn’t complain about what they had to do every day. They didn’t complain about what hadn’t happened yet. They didn’t speak in unbelief. They believed what God told them and remained silent for six days.
They got up early in the morning, marched and then returned to the camp. They did the same thing every day – over and over again. They kept obeying God. They didn’t quit. They were consistent. They remained faithful even when it seemed like nothing was going to happen.
But the wall was still standing.
I know a lot of us don’t like to wait for anything, but there will always be something you have to wait for. You have to wait in line. You have to wait until the light turns green. You have to wait in traffic. You have to wait until the food is prepared.
The Israelites had to wait patiently for the walls of Jericho to fall. Hebrews 6:12 tells us that we must imitate or follow those who inherited the promises of God through faith and patience. Maybe you haven’t received some things (yet) because you won’t let patience have its perfect work.
Lord, when are you going to do it? I’m tired of this. I’m ready for this to be over. You’re taking too long.
If you can endure and learn to wait, James 1:4 tells you all the things that you will become. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Change will take place. You will be spiritually mature. You will grow from what you’re going through. Your faith will be fully developed and you will be ready to receive those things you have been waiting for.
On the seventh day, the children of Israel didn’t march around the city one time. They marched seven times, the priests blew their trumpets, the people shouted, and the wall fell down flat.
I know some of you want to give up, but I pray that God won’t let you. You’re probably doing everything you can to get out of your current situation. You’re trying to move. You are looking for a new job every day, but nothing is happening. That’s because God is not going to let you get out of this one prematurely. That situation that you don’t like is the very thing that is helping you to grow. God allowed Joseph to be placed in the pit and he couldn’t get out until someone lifted him out of it. God also allowed him to be placed in prison and Joseph had to stay there until someone released him.
The quicker you can humble yourself, the quicker God can exalt you.
Joshua and the children of Israel taught us what to do while we are waiting – obey God. Some of you know what God said, but you are not looking at the word. You are looking at your situation. You are looking at the environment you live in and it looks like what God said will never happen, but it doesn’t matter who is occupying the city right now or how long they have been there. It doesn’t matter how wide or how high the walls appear. Don’t worry about how long it’s been or how long you’ve been waiting. No matter how securely shut the gates are, nothing can keep God’s promises out.
So don’t be impatient, don’t be anxious and don’t give up. Wait on the Lord, and while you’re waiting, encourage yourself, encourage others and God will strengthen you as you obey Him.
After Moses read God’s instructions, laws and commands to the children of Israel, they made an agreement with their mouths. All that the Lord has said, we will do and be obedient (Exodus 24:7).
But their hearts were from far Him. Make us gods, which shall go before us (Exodus 32:1).
Throughout their journey in the wilderness, the Lord had to always remind them of what He said or what He did for them.
Don’t forget the Lord your God.
Don’t forget how you provoked the Lord in the wilderness.
Don’t forget the covenant I made with you.
Remember when you came out of Egypt.
Remember what I did to Pharaoh.
Remember how I kept you for 40 years in the wilderness.
Your clothes and your shoes didn’t wear out.
There were fiery serpents and scorpions in that great and terrible wilderness, but they didn’t harm you.
You never went hungry for I gave you fresh manna from heaven every day.
There was drought and no water, but you didn’t die of thirst.
In Judges 6, the Israelites were crying to God. The Lord had given them over to their enemies for seven years because they did evil in His sight. God allowed the Midianites to destroy their crops and to take everything that belonged to them – their land, sheep, oxen and donkeys. Prior to this, He warned them not to serve the gods of the Amorites once they lived in their land, but they didn’t obey His voice.
They forgot that they had cried to the Lord before, but God sent them help (Moses). He brought them out of Egypt. He brought them out of bondage. He delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians and their oppressors. He drove their enemies out and gave the Israelites their land. God set them free, but they kept returning to the things that placed them back in bondage.
I’m reminded of the man who had an infirmity for 38 years. After he received his healing, Jesus found him later in the temple and said, You are made whole. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come to you (John 5:14). For Jesus to tell him not to sin any more meant that he was in that condition because of sin. I believe this is what Jesus was really saying to that man then and this is what He is saying to us now:
I forgave you. Despite your past, I gave you a future. Remember what I did for you. I’ve shown you how good I am. I gave you another chance. You are whole now. Don’t go back. Remember what happened the last time. Don’t return to the thing that made you sick. If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed. Stay free. Stay whole. Show others what I’ve done for you so that they may know what I can do for them.
I know sometimes we wish that God would erase all the painful memories of our past, but I told the Lord recently that there are some memories that I don’t want to forget because if I forget it, I may repeat it.
May we always remember what the Lord has done for us.
[Scripture references: Exodus 13:3; Deuteronomy 4:23, 7:18, 8:1-18, 9:7; Judges 6:1-10; John 5:1-9, 14-15]
On this past Monday, the Lord shared with me what it really means to serve at my church. Serving is more than just teaching Sunday school or singing on the praise team. Sometimes serving is sweeping the church, vacuuming the carpet, picking the trash off the floor, just to name a few.
I work with some pretty cool people on my job, but there is one young lady who started recently that is teaching me a lot about attitude and character. First of all, she was hired for one position, but right now the company needs her to work in the area that is needed the most. What I love about her is that no one has to tell her what she needs to do and she does what is asked of her. She doesn’t complain, she is very helpful and always cheerful.
One day, a patient told her that one of the public restrooms needed to be cleaned. She never turned around and said, I’m not doing it. Who wants to do it? She immediately found gloves and cleaned the mess. Yes, the new girl!
Now, I’ve been there for almost four years and if it was me, my attitude would have been, They don’t pay me enough to clean no restroom. That is not in my job description.
But that’s the wrong attitude. You see, I want God to trust me with doing the ‘big’ things, but He is not going to give me the ‘big’ things until I faithfully do the ‘little’ things. Maybe your attitude was like mine. You don’t think you should do certain things. You think you’re better than that. That’s not your job. That’s someone else’s job. But the truth is – we’re not better than anyone else. If I clean at home (without pay), then what was the problem?
To serve means to obey. It also means to be of use – not when you feel like being used, but when you are needed. Sometimes you will have to go out of your way. Sometimes it will be inconvenient for you, but convenient for others. We don’t see it this way, but when you serve, you become the answer to a problem. Isn’t that what we want to be? An answer and not the problem. People have enough of their own problems. They are looking for an answer.
One of the things managers and pastors love is when they don’t have to always tell you to do something. They like it when you don’t wait for someone else to do it, but you see what needs to be done and you do it.
Even though the Lord was dealing with me about serving at my church, we should also serve well at home, on our jobs or wherever God sends us. Our attitude should be that we are doing it for the Lord, not for people (Colossians 3:23). Serve Him with gladness. Become a cheerful giver (and not just with your money). Don’t offer Him sacrifices that are blind, sick, or broken (Malachi 1:8; Leviticus 22:22), but give Him what You want Him to give you. Give Him your best!
I was raised a certain way and there were areas of my life where I needed to be disciplined, but I wasn’t disciplined. I’m not blaming the people who helped raised me, but for most of my life I’ve been like the ones who stood idle, waiting for someone to ‘hire’ them (Matthew 20:6-7). I didn’t look for something to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10). I waited for someone to tell me what to do.
But even though I’ve been that way for a long time, you know what?
I can change.
This past Sunday, I got the opportunity to repent – not just to my pastors, but to the entire church for not being in my place.
I had some things in common with Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid (but not anymore). She was the one chosen to bear Sarai and Abram’s child. But after Hagar got pregnant, I think she started to smell herself. No, really. I think she either felt herself equal to Sarai (as she had become Abram’s wife to bear his child) or she thought she was better than Sarai because she was able to do something that Sarai wasn’t able to do, which was to carry Abram’s child.
She was blessed with such an honor to carry their child, but she forgot who she was. She forgot she was still Sarai’s handmaid. She became too familiar with her. Hagar’s problem was she no longer respected the anointing on Sarai’s life. She didn’t honor the woman of God.
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine (1 Timothy 5:17).
Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17).
Sarai was not some mere woman. When God spoke concerning Sarai, He said, ‘I will bless her and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her’ (Genesis 17:16). Hagar may have been the new wife, but Sarai was still the ‘first lady’.
Sarai didn’t like Hagar’s attitude and disrespect towards her so she told Abram about it. Abram, being the smart man he was, changed his name to Bennett. My name is Bennett and I ain’t in it. Just joking. But seriously, he told his wife that he was going to stay out of it, that she was her maid and this was between them.
When Sarai took matters into her own hands, Hagar ran away. I can only imagine what Hagar was thinking when she left. Who does she think she is? She can’t have no baby. I’m having his baby. They are going to need me before I need them.
But do you know what I loved most about this passage of scripture?
Abram didn’t run after Hagar to try to convince her to come back. Sarai didn’t run after her, crying and begging her to come back. I don’t know how long Hagar was in the wilderness, but I do know it was good for her to be there because there were some things in her that needed to die and where she was caused her to grow up. No one took her position or her place, but if she really wanted it – if she was really serious this time, she was going to have to return to the place she left and take it back.
One day, the angel of the Lord found Hagar in the wilderness and asked her two questions:
1) Where did you come from?
2) Where are you going?
She didn’t have a problem answering the first question, but she couldn’t answer the second question because she didn’t know what she was going to do. She didn’t have a plan because she ran from the plan that was created for her.
Now I know that Isaac was the plan and he was the promise of God, but when Sarai told her husband to marry her handmaid, Abram came in agreement with it and God honored it. (I didn’t say God liked her idea, but He honored it). At any time, God could have stopped this plan and He could have shut up Hagar’s womb, but He didn’t. He allowed it to be because that was what Sarai wanted.
By asking the above questions, the Lord wanted her to realize that she was going the wrong way – that she needed to change her direction. I don’t think Hagar wanted to remain in the wilderness, but she may have been too proud to go back. But God dealt with her. He spoke to her through an angel. Return to your mistress and submit yourself. What he was really saying was:
You were wrong, Hagar. Go back.
You were wrong, Hagar. Apologize.
You were wrong, Hagar. Make it right.
But maybe she was afraid. What was Sarai going to do to her once she returned? What were the people going to say? Would Abram and Sarai receive her back?
So, the angel gave her a word that gave her the confidence to go back. I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count (Genesis 16:10, AMP). That was God’s way of letting her know:
I see you (Genesis 16:13).
I haven’t forgotten you.
I didn’t leave you. You left Me.
You’re still a part of the plan.
I haven’t taken back what I gave you (Ishmael).
I will still use you.
I will bless you.
So, Hagar got back in her place and in her position and I’ve decided to do the same. Please know that repentance was just the first step. Even after Hagar returned to her mistress, there were things she had to do and there will be things that I will have to do because Hagar didn’t see what the angel said until she did what the angel said.
[Scripture reference: Genesis 16]