restore

Do You Know What You Have?

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Give me the portion of goods that fall to me (Luke 15:12). The prodigal son knew what belonged to his father and if his father had it, that meant he had it.  His father gave him what he asked for, but his problems began when he stopped obeying what he was taught by his father. He started doing things that sons shouldn’t do. The moment he disobeyed, he became a slave – to sin, debt, poverty.

But one day, his eyes were opened. He realized that he didn’t have to live the way he was living. He remembered that his father, who he had left, had hired servants who had enough bread. The prodigal son wasn’t just in a distant country, but he was in a distant relationship with his father. The moment he returned to his father, everything he lost was restored. The servants placed on him a robe, sandals and a ring. The ring signified that when he decreed a thing, it would be established and no one could change or alter what he had spoken.

The elder son was angry because he saw his brother living the way he should have been living. Although he had read the commandments and had not sinned against them, he still didn’t understand what belonged to him. All that I have is yours (Luke 15:31). Even though he took his anger out on his brother and father, he was really angry at himself because he didn’t know how to access what his father had already given him.

While the household was celebrating the return of the prodigal son, the elder son was outside when he should have been inside. He couldn’t believe his ears. Why were they celebrating? How could his brother who left his house and his country to become a citizen of another country, lose everything, return to his house and get back everything he lost? To him, that wasn’t fair, but it was fair. When the prodigal son asked for his portion, the father divided it between the elder and the younger. The elder had the same thing as his brother, but he didn’t do anything with what was given to him. (This reminds me of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30).

It took the prodigal son becoming a slave to discover that he was a son. He discovered that the things he was under were the things that he was created to rule over. He wasn’t created to toil or to beg.

The elder and the prodigal son lived in the same house. They had the same father. Isn’t it interesting how you can go to the same church with someone and hear the same sermon and the same instructions yet you’re still at the Jordan while others have already crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land? What did they do that you refused to do? Perhaps the problem has been that we like to hear a good word, but we don’t do anything with the information we hear in church because sometimes it’s not easy.

Do you think that leaving a country that was afar off to return to his home was easy for the prodigal son? It was a fight, but he walked until he walked himself out of his situation.

There is an enemy who is angry because he lost. He is angry that he got kicked out of heaven and he is doing everything he can to get you kicked out of the garden like Adam. He doesn’t want you to know who you are and what you have. He doesn’t want you to get everything that belongs to you.

Don’t do what the elder son did. He told the father what he didn’t have and what his father never gave him (Luke 15:29). Some of us do the same thing.

I don’t have the money to purchase a home.

I don’t have anyone to help me.

I don’t have a college degree.

This is why God asked Moses, What is that in your hand? Elisha asked the widow, What do you have in the house? I think sometimes we are so focused on what we don’t have that we can’t see what we do have. 

May God not only reveal what He has given to us, but I pray that we use it for Him.  

Refuse to be a church that is a hearer, but not a doer of the word.

 

You Still Win

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It was the enemy’s plan to get you involved in situations and relationships that he knew would leave you broke, brokenhearted, hurt or bitter in the end. Like Eve, you didn’t understand what you had or what God had given you. You took the enemy’s bait because you liked what you saw and you thought you were missing something.  

The devil wants you to see yourself as a loser, but it was he who lost. How do I know? Well, just look at yourself. What the enemy was hoping would happen to you, didn’t happen. It didn’t work.

So, he lost. You didn’t.

Not only did he lose, but he lost you.

Yes, you were down for a moment, but you got up again.

You still win.

Did you want to give up? Yes. Did you want to walk away? Yes, but God didn’t let you. The word of God is so deeply rooted in you that you couldn’t walk away from the Word even if you wanted to.

God brought you through it and He brought you out of it. You’re not in it anymore. It’s behind you. Stop looking back.

No, you didn’t count the cost before you got involved, but don’t waste any more time counting your losses. Stop counting your mistakes.

You may have lost some things, but there is nothing that you have lost that God can’t restore and there is nothing broken that He cannot fix.

You still win.

Let God Rebuild You

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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. 

Don’t Forget the Lord

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Before God delivered His people out of Egypt, he told them that He was going to bless them – for every tear, for every burden, and for every year of oppression.  The Israelites helped build the cities of Pithom and Rameses so that Pharaoh could store his treasure.  They made mortar and bricks and they did all types of work in the field.  It was hard and rigorous yet they were never compensated.  Pharaoh used them and never paid them for the work they did. What Pharaoh thought he was laying up for himself in his storehouses were actually being laid up for the children of Israel (Proverbs 13:22).  Yes, the Israelites were about to get paid.

And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians and it shall come to pass, that when you go, you shall not go empty (Exodus 3:21).

It took a while, but after the Lord sent the tenth plague – after the death of every Egyptian firstborn (including Pharaoh’s firstborn son), Pharaoh told Moses and the Israelites to get out and because they wanted them to leave their land immediately, they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for.

Let every man borrow (ask) of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, jewels of silver and jewels of gold (Exodus 11:2).

In Exodus 32, Moses is on the mount with God.  The Israelites thought Moses was taking too long to come down from the mountain and they were tired of waiting on him. That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt – who knows what’s happened to him?  (Some of us still get this way when it seems like God is taking too long to do what He promised or we don’t feel Him or we don’t hear Him).

Even though God had delivered them, brought them through the Red Sea on dry land and drowned their enemies, they still had a problem trusting Someone who they couldn’t see.  So, they asked Aaron to make them something that they could see.  And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron  (Exodus 32:3).  After all God had done for them, they took what God gave them and offered it for a golden calf that couldn’t speak to them the way God did, destroy their enemies, deliver them or save them. 

They thought Moses had forgotten them when it was actually them who had forgotten God. They forgot to bless the One who had remembered to bless them.  I’m sure they had probably thought about all the things they would do with their newfound wealth and yes, God gives us all things to enjoy, but the blessing wasn’t just for them.

Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them (Exodus 25:8).

This is the offering…gold, and silver, and brass (Exodus 25:3)

Despite their ways, God still loved them and He wanted to live with them, live in them and walk in them.  He wanted them to be His people and He wanted to be their God. He wanted a relationship.

After they worshipped the golden calf, God wanted to destroy all of them, but Moses interceded on their behalf and God changed His mind.  Although God was angry with them, He told Moses and the people to go to the land that He promised them (Exodus 33:1).  He made a promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and He couldn’t take His word back.  God is not a man that He should lie.  There were going to be consequences for their sin (Exodus 32:34), but they were going to enter the land – because of a promise.

Some of you think that God has forgotten you, but He hasn’t.  Has He said, and will He not do it  (Numbers 23:19)?  Because of a promise, God is going to bless you – for every hurt, every disappointment, every tear.  Some of you were even underpaid and treated unfairly on your jobs, but God is going to restore.

And when God does it, don’t forget about Him.

Beware that in your plenty, you don’t forget the Lord and begin to disobey Him (Deuteronomy 8:11, TLB).

New Year Blessings

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God is giving you new strength for the new year.  I’m not saying things will be easier next year, but as you obey God, things will get better.

My prayer for you is that you don’t faint before you see the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 27:13).  May the areas you failed in during the previous years, you now succeed and overcome them in the upcoming years.  May you be wiser this new year than you were last year.

You’re going to have work harder this coming year.  Keep praying, but do not use prayer as a substitute for work.  God has given you much and He requires much from you. 

Whatever you stopped believing God for, I pray that you believe again and trust God again.  May you enjoy the blessing of the Lord that makes rich and adds no sorrow with it.  You know what sorrow feels like, but now you will know HIS joy. 

To those of you who were deceived and tricked out of something or who had something stolen from them, may God avenge you speedily.  For every year that was stolen, lost or missed (even from your childhood), I pray that He restores those years  – in one year. 

It’s not too late for God to do what He promised.  He is faithful that promised.  God began a good work in YOU and He is going to complete it. 

Happy New Year!!!

You Haven’t Lost

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Image result for death samson

lost: cannot be recovered; beyond your reach

I think at one time or another we have either taught or believed that Samson lost, but when you study the story of his life, this man of God didn’t have a sad ending (as some might think).

Samson married a woman from Timnath.  Then, he slept with a prostitute from Gaza.  Neither one of their names is mentioned, but we will never forget the name of the third woman from the valley of Sorek whom he joined himself to – Delilah.  He loved this woman (Judges 16:4).  With the exception of his marriage (which according to Judges 14:4 was a part of God’s plan), Samson didn’t do a very good job of choosing the right women.  Another area where he tripped up in was in his conversation.  There was a time when the Pharisees got together and plotted how they might entangle Jesus in his talk (Matthew 22:15).  Samson’s enemies, the Philistines, did the same thing.  Unfortunately, Samson failed the test.  He told Delilah all his heart (Judges 16:17).  Sometimes, we talk too much and become ensnared by our own words.

The Philistines paid Delilah to find out where Samson’s great strength lied.  He had no idea that the woman he loved made friends with his enemies.  It was all fun and games at first.  He lied and teased Delilah three times.  Each time he broke free before his enemies could capture him, but the fourth time he got caught and it was going to be difficult to break free this time.  Not only did they bind him, but they afflicted him also (put his eyes out).

Samson was at his lowest point. He couldn’t see and he was forced to grind grain in prison. He was working for his enemies when his enemies should have been working for him. He lost some things – his sight, his strength, and not to mention, the Lord departed from him (Judges 16:20).  Now to me, that’s a great loss, but it wasn’t over for him.  Just like the woman caught in the act of adultery, Samson was getting another chance.  His hair was growing – again (Judges 16:22).

The consequences of his actions didn’t feel good, but it humbled him.  No chastening seems joyous at the time.  Instead, it seems sad, uncomfortable and painful, but in the end it produces fruit (Hebrews 12:11).  I don’t know how many years Samson was in prison.  I don’t know how many years it took for his hair to grow back, but what I do know is that his hair wasn’t the only thing that was growing.  If you refuse to complain or despise the Lord’s correction – if you will endure what you must  go through – you will grow from it.  It will make you better.

Samson’s enemies thought they won.  Our god has delivered into our hands our enemy and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us  (Judges 16:24).  Samson was no longer a threat to them, but little did they know that God was restoring what Samson lost.

One day, the Philistines called for Samson out of the prison house.  They celebrated this man’s fall.  They tormented him. They laughed at him. They made fun of him. They humiliated him, but Samson won in the end.  They called on their god, but Samson humbled himself and called upon his God. O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee  (Judges 16:28).  God had never forgotten Samson, but the moment Samson remembered God, God used Samson again – and even greater than before.

You may have lost some things, but you didn’t lose. Your enemies are not going to rejoice over you anymore (Judges 16:23).  The only reason why Samson died was because he requested to die with his enemies (Judges 16:30), but he didn’t lose. He defeated more enemies in the end than he did in the twenty years he ruled Israel.  He was even listed as one of the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:32).

You are going to rejoice again.  You are going to laugh again.  God is going to restore you and every year that was stolen. You may have failed in some area(s) of your life, but you are not a failure.  For a just man falls seven times and rises up again  (Proverbs 24:16).

You will rise again.

It is not the end for you.  There is still hope for you.  Your enemies are expecting you to fail, they are expecting you to give up, they are expecting you to lose, but their expectation shall be cut off.  It may feel more like pain than joy right now, but it is making you stronger and mightier.  And soon, you will no longer remember the pain because of the joy that shall come.

You haven’t lost.