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Be Faithful

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faithful: trustworthy, reliable, consistent, not changing in behavior or attitude, believing

Joseph’s brothers hated him so much that they considered killing him.  What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood?  (Genesis 37:26).  They decided instead to sell him to the Ishmeelites and the Ishmeelites then sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.

Despite what happened to Joseph, he served well in Potiphar’s house.  Potiphar saw that the Lord was with him and he later made Joseph overseer of his house.  Things were going well until Potiphar’s wife accused him of attempted rape.  Potiphar then put Joseph in prison.

While in prison, the keeper of the prison placed all the prisoners under Joseph’s supervision.  When Pharaoh threw his butler and baker in prison, the captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph and he served  them also (Genesis 40:4).  One morning, Joseph noticed that the butler and baker were sad (Genesis 40:6).  They both had a dream, but they didn’t understand it.  Joseph didn’t withhold his gift.  He interpreted their dreams.  The baker was going to be hung on a tree, but the butler would be restored to his position in three days.  Joseph told the butler that once his dream came to pass, not to forget about him.

But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon  (Genesis 40:14-15).  But the butler forgot about him (Genesis 40:23).

Even though Joseph was ready for that season of his life to be over, it wasn’t time yet.  He had to stay in prison just a little while longer. He had to be patient and patience isn’t always about waiting.  Patience is more about what you are doing while you are waiting.  Some of us are just like Joseph.  We wish God would hurry up.  We think we are ready to receive what God has promised, but God is watching your faithfulness.  God is watching what you do with the little.  Maybe the reason why you’re still where you are now  is because you aren’t ready for what’s next.

Things didn’t always go the way Joseph liked, but he remained faithful in every  season – in his father’s house, in the pit, in Potiphar’s house, and in jail.  Joseph had every reason to be angry, bitter and disappointed, but his attitude remained the same.  What Joseph went through should have hardened his heart, but he wasn’t like Naomi.  He didn’t allow circumstances and hard times to change him or his name.  He didn’t allow what was sweet to turn bitter.  He didn’t send anyone away or isolate himself from others. He worked – consistently – as unto the Lord, not unto man.  He kept giving.  He kept sowing seed, not knowing which seed was going to produce.

And one day, the gift that he gave sometime ago opened doors and brought him before a great man.  He was then made ruler over Pharaoh’s house, his substance and all the land of Egypt.  He would also discipline Pharaoh’s princes if needed and teach the elders wisdom (Psalm 105:22).

Everything he went through brought him to this season.  During the waiting period, Joseph proved to be reliable and trustworthy.  He served when it was comfortable (home).  He served when it was uncomfortable (jail).  Before he became ruler over others, he learned how to submit to those who had rule over him.

Beautiful story, right?  But the story doesn’t end there.  Remember, his dream hadn’t come to pass yet (Genesis 37:6-10). 

A famine came and it was all over the face of the earth.  This is why Joseph was sent (Psalm 105:17).  All countries had to go to Egypt to buy corn.  Jacob sent his sons (Joseph’s brothers) to buy corn because of the famine.  When his brothers came before him, they bowed before him.  Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them  (Genesis 42:9).

When Joseph’s brothers saw him, they didn’t even recognize him (Genesis 42:8).  I don’t believe it was because his looks changed.  I think it was because he changed.  Joseph had a lot of growing up to do (and so do I).  I can only imagine how Joseph felt walking around with a coat that no one else had, but he was stripped of pride and anything that shouldn’t have been in his heart or mind.  God wants to transform us in such a way that people can no longer see us, but they see Him.  Pharaoh didn’t even serve Joseph’s God, but he recognized Him.  Do you remember when Pharaoh needed someone to interpret his dreams?  He called his magicians and wise men, but they couldn’t help him.  He saw the distinction between them and Joseph.  Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit in him?  (Genesis 41:38).

We think that the dream is beautiful, but there is beauty in what God is doing in us right now.  When God completed His work, Joseph wasn’t full of pride, hate, anger or bitterness.  In fact, when his brothers gave him money for corn, not only did he return it, but he gave them more than what they had.  When Joseph’s brothers threw him in an empty pit, they sat down and ate a meal.  Joseph didn’t even have water in the pit, but he didn’t treat them the way they treated him. He opened his home to them.  He gave them water to drink.  He gave them bread to eat.  He washed their feet.  He even fed their donkeys.

And he did all of this without an apology.  It’s easy to help someone who has helped you, but can you help someone who has hurt you?  Joseph couldn’t do it on his own, but he trusted God to do it through him.  I’m amazed at Joseph’s forgiveness towards his brothers, but I’m even more amazed at his faithfulness towards God.

You may be on a job that you don’t like, but be faithful.  If God gave you a spouse, be faithful.  Maybe God told you that he was going to send help to the ministry, but it seems like more people are leaving than coming.  Be faithful.

When I was younger, I sang on the youth choir every third Sunday.  On the days I sang, I attended church twice – 7:00 and 11:00 a.m.  I remember one morning after church, the late Reverend Johnson shook my hand and called me ‘faithful’.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but the reason why he said this was because it didn’t matter who sang or who didn’t sing.  I showed up.  He knew that most young people like to stay in bed late on Sunday mornings, but I got up early even when I didn’t feel like it.

In the last ten years, I’ve quit things when it didn’t seem like it was working or it didn’t seem like it would get better or it just didn’t feel good.  I just didn’t give it time and you must give things time to grow, but I wanted God to do it now.  I realize now that I was only thinking about myself.  I wasn’t thinking about my family or the people that would need what I have.  I knew what I wanted, but I never thought about what God wanted.

Many are called, but few are chosen  (Matthew 22:14).  You are the Joseph of your family.  You were chosen.  Let God discipline, chastise and correct you now in private before He reveals you in public.  Let Him change you.  Let Him make you.  Let Him do to you what the potter does to the clay.

I’ve been called faithful before and I want to be called faithful again.

Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:21, 23)

 

It’s Time to Move

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In 1 Kings 17:2-3, the Lord told Elijah to hide by a brook.  When he did what God told him to do, God took care of him.  Not only did he have water to drink, but God commanded the ravens to feed him every morning and evening.  One day, the brook dried up because there was no rain.

If God commanded the ravens, surely He could have commanded the brook, but He allowed the brook to dry up.  Prior to this, Elijah was satisfied.  He was comfortable.  He didn’t have a thirst or a hunger for anything, but now he did.  He wasn’t satisfied with where he was and he didn’t want to remain in that condition anymore.

The word of the Lord came to Elijah.  Not only did God tell him to move, but He told him where to move to.  Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Zidon and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you  (vs 9).  Sometimes God leaves out the details.  He never told Elijah that the widow woman had a need.  All He told him was that she would feed him.

When he arrived at the gate of the city, he saw the widow gathering sticks (I guess that meant she was about to cook something).  He asked her for some water.  As she was going to get the water, he asked for a morsel of bread.  First, the woman told him what she didn’t have.  I have not a cake  (vs 12).  Then, she told him what she did have – a handful of meal in a barrel, a little oil in a cruse and two sticks. This was her last meal and this meal wasn’t just for her, but it was for her son also.

This woman didn’t want to die and she didn’t want her son to die, but she was preparing to die because she didn’t know what else to do.  She didn’t know where her next meal was coming from.  It didn’t look like things were going to get better and now she had a man – a perfect stranger – asking her, an unmarried mother, for her last.

I hear the conversations of single mothers from time to time.  They love their children, but sometimes they are tired – tired of raising their children alone, tired of the daily routine, tired of trying to provide, tired of missing field trips and Awards Day.  It hurts when you can’t do what you would like to do for your children.  You want them to enjoy their childhood.  You want them to be happy.  You don’t want them to worry about adult things such as bills and other responsibilities.

I can only imagine how strong this woman was trying to be for her son.  She was trying to keep it together, but sometimes we just want someone to come and ‘save’ us.  You know, take care of all our problems.  Well, God did send a man in her life, but He didn’t send him to be her husband.  (I had to point that out because sometimes a single woman/mother is so anxious to be married or in a relationship that she confuses ‘help’ with ‘husband’).  Elijah didn’t give her any food or money.  He didn’t get her out of debt or out of poverty, but he showed  her how to get out.  He showed her how to trust again.  All she had to do was obey the instructions.  All she had to do was give the very thing that she was afraid  of losing.

Wow.

Sometimes we are so focused on what we want that we don’t see what others need.  Let’s look at it this way: Had Elijah not moved, the widow and her son would have died.  Our obedience to God is so important.  It was so easy for Elijah to get comfortable at the brook.  It was so easy to trust God for the things he could see.  Life was good. He had water, bread, and meat every day, but God didn’t send him there to stay.  He was only there to pass through.  I’m sure he got used to the daily routine.  I bet he thought he had God figured out.  He knew exactly what time the raven would feed him, but when the brook dried up and the raven stopped coming, he had to trust God through a woman who only had a handful of meal, a little  oil and two sticks.  The widow was being tested, also.  Whoever is faithful with little will also be faithful with much  (Luke 16:10).

I wanted to know how far and at what length this man went to obey God and to meet this widow.  What was the distance between Cherith and Zarephath?  One source on the internet reported it was approximately 85 miles.  Another source reported it was between 80 to 100 miles.  I don’t know if Elijah got there by foot or by a horse, but that was a long journey if you didn’t have a car.  Did he get tired along the way?  Did he want to stop?  Did he want to turn around?  Did he eat?  Did he drink?  What did he have to give up?

Just like Elijah, you will never have to worry about your need when you put HIS kingdom first. God will supply your need according to His riches in glory.  So if you’re lacking in an area, it’s probably in the area that you refuse to give to God or to trust Him in.  When the widow woman gave her last, she and her household had a lot left over (1 Kings 17:15).

I know you have these great ideas and plans about what you want to do, but God has a better plan – and it includes more than just you.  The devil may have used you in the past to hurt and to betray people, but God is going to use you to help people.

God is going to allow some things to happen – not to hurt you or to punish you, but to cause you to make the decision to move.  I’m not talking about moving to another city or to another state.  I’m talking about moving toward His purpose for you – moving toward the reason why you were born.  If you don’t move, you will never discover who you are and in case no one ever told you – You are a blessing.  God knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  The word God placed in your mouth is like a hammer that breaks a rock into pieces and the anointing on your life is able to destroy the yokes of many.

This is why you can’t remain where you are. 

You have dwelled in your feelings, fear, self-pity, isolation and hurt long enough.  It is time to get up and leave those things behind.  It is time to turn (change; repent), take your journey and go to where God is leading you (Deuteronomy 1:6-7, paraphrase).  Don’t be ashamed of where you came from.  Don’t be ashamed of the things you have done.  Don’t even compare yourself to others.  Do what the widow did and use what you have.  God is going to give you instructions.  They will be simple, not hard and difficult.

We were created to do more than what we are doing.  As sons and daughters of God, we don’t have to stand idle because no one will hire us (Matthew 20:6-7).  There is plenty of work to do.  The harvest is plenteous (Matthew 9:37), but you won’t realize this until you stop looking after your own things and start looking on the things of others (Philippians 2:4).

Someone has a need and they are praying for you to move.

Become Someone God Can Trust

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When someone has bad credit, it’s not the end of the world for them.  They can learn how to build their credit.  Paying off credit card debt and paying bills on time are just some of the ways you can build your credit as it shows others that you are responsible and that you can be trusted with more (a home, a car or more credit).  There are classes and seminars on how to build your credit, but how do you build trust?  How do you regain it after you have lost it?

To answer those questions, I’m going to use the parable of the unjust servant in Luke 16.  Jesus told his disciples about a rich man who had a steward.  I don’t know how well he knew him or if he knew him at all, but the rich man trusted him to manage what belonged to him.   The first verse tells us that the steward wasted the rich man’s goods.  I’m not sure if he was stealing money or making foolish decisions with what he was given, but what we do know is that he was dishonest.

Jesus never said how long the steward had been doing this, but I’m sure he did it multiple times thinking he would never get caught.  The rich man had no idea that he was being taken advantage of.  In fact, someone else brought it to his attention.  When he learned of what was going on, he called his steward and told him what he heard.  He didn’t want to just take someone else’s word so he told his steward to give him an account or a report of what he was doing with what he had been given, but in the meantime, he could not be his manager because he could no longer be trusted.

This man allowed a good opportunity to pass or to be lost.  The scriptures never stated that the steward admitted to the accusation, but apparently he knew what he was doing was wrong because he wasted no time trying to make things right.  He started thinking about his future.  What was he going to do next? I cannot dig and I am ashamed to beg  (verse 3).  I think he probably could have digged for a living, but he just didn’t want to.  He probably looked at digging as a menial job.  It was beneath him.  He was too smart for that.  He had managerial and accounting skills, but to dig ditches seemed more like a demotion than a promotion.  And he was too proud to become a beggar, but he knew he had to do something – and fast.

Since it seemed like he was about to be fired, there was a possibility that he was also going to be homeless so he came up with a plan to befriend his lord’s debtors.  A man that has friends must show himself friendly (Proverbs 18:24).  The steward called everyone who owed his lord and made a deal with them.  He basically cut their bills in half.  I can only imagine how grateful they were to this man.  They didn’t have to pay all the money owed. The steward knew that if he needed a place to stay that someone would remember what he did for them and open their home to him.  Smart, huh?

When he reported to his lord what he did, the rich man commended him – not for being unjust, but for being wise (vs 8).  We don’t know if the rich man fired him or allowed him to continue to manage his goods, but this parable teaches the just how we ought to be regarding our relationship with God and with people.

Take responsibility for what YOU did.  So, you messed up?  Don’t be angry at others or blame THEM for something YOU did.   Like David, acknowledge what you did (Psalm 51:3).  Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another, that you may be healed  (James 5:16)Apply this scripture to your life so that you may be healed – emotionally (heart), spiritually (soul) and physically (body).

Building will take work and time.  Sometimes an apology is not enough.  The foundation is very important so you want to build on what will stand and what will last.  Trust must be built on truth, not lies – so be honest.  The servant immediately started working.  I don’t know how many hours or weeks or months it took, but he didn’t stop until he collected from every debtor (probably in hopes that his lord would change his mind).  Now, there is a possibility that the individual(s) involved may not forgive you or give you another chance, but no matter what happens, make up in your mind that you are going to do to others what you would have them to do to you (Matthew 7:12).  And don’t worry about what others are doing to you.  You are only accountable for what you do with what God has given you.

Do what you do for the Lord rather than for men.   Sometimes we do the right thing for people, but with wrong motives and sometimes we do the right thing only when we know someone is watching us, but do it even when no one is watching.  Show that you can be trusted at all times – no matter who is watching.  People don’t see everything we do, but the eyes of the Lord is everywhere. Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the Lord  (Jeremiah 23:24).

Respect what others have.  It is not yours.  What the steward took or wasted belonged to someone else.  It was not his and he was not entitled to do whatever he wanted to do with it.  Let’s examine how you are in the workplace.  Do you take personal items from work?  If so and your manager doesn’t know about it, you’re a thief.  You are getting paid to work, but are you spending more time on social media or on your phone or taking breaks?  Would you hire you?  Would you give yourself a promotion?  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?  (vs 12).

Love in deed and in truth.  If you are really sorry, don’t just say it.  Show it.  I know none of us are perfect, but please stop using that as an excuse not to change or to do whatever you want to do.  I pray that we all get to the place where we truly love God again because when we love Him, we will obey Him.  And this is love, that we walk after his commandments  (2 John 6, KJV).

Judas didn’t betray Jesus by himself.  He made a covenant with some of the chief priests and captains, but we hear more about Judas than the others.  That’s because Judas knew better.  He walked with Jesus.  They didn’t.  He betrayed Jesus for selfish reasons, but when he realized what he did, he probably thought, What have I done?  Judas tried to make things right.  He tried to return the thirty pieces of silver.  I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood  (Matthew 27:4).  The same people that he sinned with no longer wanted anything to do with him.  They got what they wanted and they had no more use or need for Judas.

Judas saw Jesus forgive others yet he didn’t believe he would be forgiven so he hung himself.  Some of us are the same way.  We think that what we’ve done is unforgivable.  Some of us still walk in condemnation and shame over things that we did, but God is not disappointed in you and He is not ashamed of you.  He still loves you.  People may never forget what you did, but God remembers it no more.  Take the truth, which is the word of God, and build your trust in what HE said about you and not what people said about you.  Trust God to turn things around.  Trust God to make everything beautiful in His time.  Trust that all things will work together for good.  God didn’t hurt you nor did He fail you.  The only reason why some of us have trust issues is because we trusted the wrong people.

Sometimes when people get mad, they give what is called the silent treatment, but God isn’t like that.  Think about all the things you and I have done to God or to His people, yet He still speaks to us.  If God is dealing with you and He is sending people to encourage you, it’s because He loves you and He wants to do what He promised. He wants to prove Himself to you.  Maybe certain people will never trust you again – maybe they will never speak to you again, but if you ask God to forgive you, He will forgive you.  Let what happened draw you closer to God, not further away and let it teach you how to value the things and people God has gave you.

Become someone who God can trust.

Don’t Quit

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quit: to stop, leave a place or person, let go, to admit defeat

I know the one thing Jesus had against the church of Ephesus was that they left their first love, but He saw their works, their labor and their patience.  He knew that they had not given up.  Despite the long wait, they continued to serve Him.  They were patient.  They kept going.  They kept trying.  They suffered for the sake of His name without quitting.

If you’re going to quit anything, quit giving up. 

I know you are wondering, When is God going to do it?  When will it come to pass?  For some of you, it feels like you’ve been waiting for a long time, but I want to encourage you with these words: The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise (2 Peter 3:9).  You may think that He is late, but everything God does is at the right time.

Some of you reading this want to quit.  You want to quit church.  You want to quit that ministry.  You want to give up on that marriage.  You want to give up on that child. You want to walk off that job.  I know it seems like nothing is happening.  It seems like God isn’t doing anything, but He is always working (John 5:17, NLT).

The reason why some of you can’t quit is because God won’t let you.  Don’t you realize how far you’ve come?  Don’t you realize that God has been with you all the way?  You can try to give up.  You can try to run and hide from what God has called you to do and to be, but just like Peter, people will recognize you because you can’t hide that light under a bushel.  I don’t care how dark it seems in your life.  It is not able to put out the light that is in you.

But a certain maid saw him (Peter) as he sat by the fire and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him (Luke 22:56).

And after a little while another saw him and said, You are also of them (Luke 22:58).

And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean (Luke 22:59).

It wasn’t long ago that I was lying on my bed thinking about all the poor choices I made, the people I hurt, the people that hurt me, the things I’ve lost and the things that were stolen from me.  I was comparing my life to others.  I was giving up.  I was asking God to give up on me.  I began to think that every word I read in the bible and every word spoken to me were lies.  (Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about).  But even though I was ready to let Him go, He wouldn’t let me go.  He wouldn’t leave me alone.

At this point in your life, you couldn’t walk away even if you wanted to because His lovingkindness keeps drawing you back.  Every time you said you weren’t going back to church, you went right back.  You started praying again.  You started believing again.  Just when you thought you couldn’t go any further, God gave you new strength to go on and to press on.  In the last few months, God has proven Himself to me.  I cannot deny Him or His existence.  Even when things weren’t going good in my life, He remained good to me.  He never left me.  He was with me and is still with me.

Listen.  Don’t beat yourself up about the past and don’t feel sorry for yourself.  Think about the steps and strides you have made.  Yes, you have failed some tests, but think about the great testimony that will come out of what you’ve been through.  Think about the people who will be set free and delivered because of your testimony – because you refused to give up.  You may not be what you should be, but you’re not what you used to be either.  You may not be where you want to be, but you will get there –

IF you don’t quit.

 

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).