There is a special seed inside of you. In it holds potential, talent, and a beautiful gift that is ready to sprout and bring forth fruit in its season. Don’t stop the process. Don’t get in the way of the gift God wants to work through you. Let it grow!
There are going to be times when people won’t have your back. There will be moments when you feel like you are going alone. Rest assured, God knows where you are in life. Encourage yourself in the Lord even if no one else is supporting you! “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David ENCOURAGED HIMSELF IN THE LORD HIS GOD.” 1 Samuel 30:6
One thing I have reluctantly had to admit is that I don’t always have Abraham faith. When one really delves into his story, his story was laden with change. Change, often times, is something I have been pretty resistant to.
Let’s face it, leaving your own home is no small feat (Genesis 12:1), especially during the Bible era. In our day we have options to hop back on a plane and usually, there are provisions and backup plans that are available if that adventurous leap of faith didn’t work out. And, this could all be done in a matter of hours.
I imagine it wasn’t quite that easy back then. But, then again, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe not having easy access to falling back into one’s comfort zone is a blessing in disguise for it forces that venture forward. It forces us to take on new terrain and enter new callings as we try to acclimate and navigate our new surroundings and circumstances.
Often I feel the ease of looking back hinders our progress. Unchartered territories can be scary, uncomfortable, and demanding of our time, talent, and emotions. But what if it leads to something greater? What if that step of faith allows you to do something miraculous that you could never see yourself doing? What if it opened new doors of opportunity that you never could have imagined being able to walk through?
I guess that’s why it’s called faith. Almost blindly, without full perception and without knowing where every piece of the puzzle already fits, we are asked to play along anyway. Engage in the unknown no matter what the current reality says. After all, according to the Bible, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1).
Comfort zones, though they appear safe, are in fact very dangerous. Walking in the land of familiarity may seem like a sure bet but in them lays unexpected traps. Traps where dreams lose their freshness. Traps where ideas lose their strength to be propelled forward. Traps where talents get wasted in this pit of unseen snares.
God has always wanted the best for all His people. But, when He calls, it is up to them to make the move. He may not be asking you to leave your homeland, but where or what do you feel Him pulling you toward? What area of your comfort zone has become so stale that now it too is very uncomfortable, yet, you’re still too afraid to make a move?
If Abraham had not put action behind his calling, he would have never been dubbed the father of faith, and so many things in our biblical history would not be traced back to his stepping out moment.
I wonder if we boldly step out today, what miraculous future events will point back to our time when we chose to leave the safety of our comfort zones?
One thing is for sure if we stay where we are, and if we keeping doing the same thing over and over again, nothing will ever change. Don’t substitute comfort and reluctance to change for what can be. Who knows what God wants to write in your future story? Step out of your comfort zone and let Him write something amazing!
“Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I,” Isaiah 52:6, KJV
The taunting of the enemy was too much to bear at times. Captivity kept them bound and ridicule and defeat kept them shackled in despair. God’s people have suffered under bondage due to their own spiritual neglect, but God in His grace and mercy, showed them a compassionate heart and sought for their redemption. He was going to bring them back. All hope was not lost, He will redeem.
Reading this, I know there are times when we seemed locked in my life. If things are going okay and we are dwelling in peace, well then, that’s okay, lock me in! But when we feel defeated by burdens and enemies, it’s hard to believe deliverance is on the horizon.
In Isaiah 52:6 God displayed His personal investment in His people’s redemption. When He brought them out there was going to be no doubt in their mind that He is the one that fought for them, loved then and redeemed them.
Doubt is the enemy of our faith. We often try to walk by faith and not by sight but end up walking by sight and not by faith even though it is the very things we see that make us question. How is this going to turn out? Will I ever see the light of day? Doubt is a killer of dreams. Doubt already erases the possibility of something better because it doesn’t see it. Doubt is a robber of paradise and a hinderer of what can be.
But God is looking to change the focus of His people from their circumstances to their God. Four times He refers to Himself in this verse as the One who orchestrates and fulfills all for them. “My people . . . My name . . . I am He . . . It is I,” and He wants His people to know it.
My people: “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture,” (Ps. 100:3, KJV). A shepherd’s job is to care for, lead and guide, and supply for the sheep. Isn’t it wonderful that despite their disobedience God was not ready to relinquish ownership of His own? Israel may have gotten themselves into captivity but they were still His people and because of that God was still willing to take a leading role in their care and in ours. Being identified as God’s people is a special privilege but it only comes to those who are under a covenant with God. Galatians 3:29 says, “And if ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,” (KJV). Abraham was under a covenant with God (Gen. 15:18-21). Those that come under Christ now receive the same benefits as His “people,” (see also Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 3:23). You are God’s people, therefore, He wants you to know that He wants to take care of you and love you as His own!
- My name: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into, and is safe,” (Pr. 18:10, KJV). There’s something about applying God’s name to deliverance. When someone puts their name on something it signifies ownership. People also sign their names to documents to state that they will perform a deed stated therein. His people shall “know my name.” His name will be glorified and remembered for their deliverance. He signed it and He declared it!
- I am He that doth speak: God is the author of all. In the beginning “I am He” spoke things into existence and it obeyed. That which He called forth manifested itself into reality. It went from a holy thought to a physical appearance because “I am He” spoke. When God speaks people better pay attention. Especially when He is speaking of your deliverance, as He was with His people. “For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I speak shall come to pass …,” (Ezekiel 12:25, KJV). His word is infallible and “I am He’s” word will be fulfilled in your life and you better know it!
- It is I: This takes me back to the time when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and commanded Moses to go to Egypt. Moses asked, “What shall I say unto them?” (Ex. 3:13, KJV). God’s response, “I AM THAT I AM . . . I AM hath sent me unto you,” (Ex. 3:14, KJV). When one is waiting on deliverance they have to realize it’s all about God! His mark of sovereignty is over His whole plan. God referred to Himself as the total of all they needed to know!
Difficult times are never pleasant but when we know who it is that is on our side, we have nothing to fear in waiting for our deliverance. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31, KJV). Isaiah 52:6 claims He is there with you; He’s the one fighting for you; He’s the one planning your deliverance; He’s the one speaking it over your life; He’s the one that owns all of this and will redeem His people out of it. It’s all about Him! In the midst of it all, He’s got you covered! It’s all about Him, in the midst of it all, He will be glorified! It’s all about Him and God is in control!
We quote it, sing songs about it, outwardly rejoice in it; but, how much do you really believe it or apply it to our lives, circumstances, and troubles?
If we were to review some of the marvels of God as we know it, we would see out of nothing a world being brought into existence. We would see where there is no life, the dead have been raised to life. We would see on the strength of nothing but His command, stars and planets being suspended in midair, hanging on absolutely nothing, as if an invisible hook were holding them in place.
All of these events testify to His power and strength to do what we readily admit is the impossible. But, God’s power goes beyond Creation, performing miracles, and shocking us with the impossible that becomes very possible in His hands. God’s power is also alive and very available to help each and every one of us in our lives today, as well.
And, here is the beauty in that.
His power to help is not contingent on anything we bring to the table. It does not matter our skills or abilities, our wealth or the lack thereof. It doesn’t even matter the number of this or that that we try to bring into the mix of everything He wants to do in our lives.
In 2 Chronicles 14:11, we see where it says, “And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee,” (emphasis mine). This Scripture prayer has often been my own that I have personally prayed and incorporated in my requests to God when I felt totally overwhelmed. For many of times I know I had nothing to offer. I know I had no power to personally make a change in a certain circumstance. I didn’t have the numbers that would chalk up to win on my behalf. There were times when I know I didn’t have the experience that says I was qualified to do this or that. I had absolutely nothing to add to the mix to benefit me for a positive outcome. Yet, it is nothing for God to still step in and help and to show His power strong in my life and yours.
If you are struggling with the same feelings or dealing with a daunting situation, know that God’s power can and will still work for you today. What we have is not as important as what God has, and what He can do in our lives today. He is the one who has the power to help!
In your celebrating don’t leave out the main reason for celebrating: God; for this isn’t just a normal day. It’s a day of giving thanks to the One who only truly deserves it. No matter the history behind the day or the traditions that follow, God is our ultimate reason for thanks!
Yes, I know. Trust me, I know. It is too easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and forget to stay focused on the real meaning behind them.
After all, I am expected to have an immaculate house, be able to put a five-star feast on the table, look happy even though I have been up half the night, and on, and on, and on. I FEEL YOU! In this area, we all do our very best to make the holidays most enjoyable for everyone involved. We primp, we cook, and we do what we have to do to pull it all off.
Can I tell you, Thanksgiving is a day not like another? Its whole focus rests on a God who keeps His promises. God has promised that every need we have will be supplied. He declares in His Word that…
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Job 1:20-22 “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”
Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Job 19:25-27 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”
Anytime we see a “…” in a sentence it expresses a train of thought and direction or a transition if you will. That “…” is very important to this message.
Times of transition can be good and bad. When one is engrossed in unpleasant circumstances a nice change of pace can be just what the doctor ordered. It breathes new life into you and lifts your spirits high making you feel as if you are on cloud nine. At the same time, when one is entering times of affliction, lack of any sort of substandard anything compared to what they are used to, the feelings of dread and just suffering through take over.
There are different seasons that everyone goes through in life. There are times of joy and there are times of pain. While we don’t mind dealing with the seasons of joy and happiness that come our way, a whole other story could be told for the times of pain and suffering we encounter.
There are seasons, even for the Christian, that come that are not too pleasant. There are times when the people of God had to endure trials and tribulations. There are episodes of turmoil that have wiggled their way into our families, our lives, our jobs, and our finances.
Sometimes difficult and new stuff pops up out of nowhere, things you weren’t looking to happen in this season of life, and it has blindsided you and caught you off guard. There may be things that surprised you and now you just don’t know which way you are going. The road hasn’t always been easy to travel. We are looking for the new. We need a transition. We are in need of a “…” moment.
It’s time to move from the victim mentality and don a praise mentality. It’s time to move from the feeling defeated mentality to no matter what’s going in my life, “…Lord, I just want to thank You” mentality.
A praise mentality says no matter the situation we are going through I still have a reason to worship. We still have a reason to lift our hands in utter adoration! We still have a reason to fall to our knees in prayer! We still have a reason to believe His grace and mercy is at work in our lives! I still have a reason to say, “Thank You!”
Job is one of the most figurative Bible characters who we surmise as suffering outside of Jesus Christ our Savior. So, I figured if anybody can teach us how to be thankful despite what we’re going through it could be Job.
Job was a man whom God describes in the Bible as being upright and perfect, Job 1:8. He is known for turning himself away from the path of evil, not giving it a foothold in his life. Yet, in his righteous living, he was still susceptible to being tested in some of the worse ways possible. He lost everything from possessions down to the very people he loved the most in life.
Job’s experiences can be summed up in that one word: suffering. Job knew suffering. Job knew what it was like to love and lose; to have and to have not. What’s more is he lost everything at the same time, piling traumatic event after traumatic event on till he thought his heart couldn’t take any more (read Job 1-2 for greater detail).
Sitting in a pile of ashes with seemingly nothing left, could he at least find comfort in the good word of a friend? Will they speak encouragement to help him carry the weight of his burdensome troubles?
The answer sadly is, “No.” His friends started out with good intentions but by the time they reach chapter 4, Job’s friends became what is known as “miserable comforters.” They decided to chime in with their opinions of what was right and wrong. This was where their attempts at comfort went downhill. They berated Job and blamed him for all that he was going through.
Job literally had no one and the weight of the world was upon his shoulders, but his response to his trials is what blew my mind away. When things first began to unravel for him, in the verses we read in chapter 1 he shaved his head, fell down on his face and he worshipped.
The words that came out of his mouth were of praise and thanks. He said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!
That word “blessed” is synonymous with celebrating God with praise in spite of. That word blessed is acknowledging God is good no matter what the circumstances around me say. That word blessed is also translated in the New and Old Testament to give thanks! “Blessed be the name of the LORD!” Job, with his shaved head of sorrow and humble spirit, gave God thanks amid the sorrow he was going through!
His response reminds me of Psalm 34:1 where the psalmist proclaimed, “I will bless the Lord at all times and His praise shall continually be in my mouth!” I will thank God always and I will never stop celebrating His goodness! I will show God gratitude always and I will never stop lifting Him up. I will appreciate God even in this and I will never stop recognizing that He and He only is God of my life.
Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” My always for all things may not look the way I want it to right now, but Lord I thank You, is what he’s saying! I am not saying thank you because I like problems, but I am saying thank You because I know the God I serve. I am saying thank you because He is working on the inside to change things on the outside. I am saying thank you because God is setting us up for a future that is glorious in Him! Therefore, “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I am in Christ; therefore I give thanks! I have been washed by the blood, therefore I give thanks. Yes, life hurts sometimes and yes, the walls come crashing down sometimes, but I owe God a praise. I thank God for seeing me through every trouble, every storm that blows my way! “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”
Job’s response went even further than this. In Job 19, he said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives.” Things were not exactly turning in his favor. At that time, his today didn’t look any better than his yesterday. His friends are still in his face challenging him with their accusations. But, despite his personal persecutions, he emphatically declares, “I know . . .”
Knowing speaks of assurance. A declaration of knowing tells doubt there is no place here for you. “Know” is certain that this is what it is. And, what he is certain of is “my redeemer liveth.” God is alive and will always be alive. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Revelation 1:8).
“He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” Job knew that God was and is the end-all of all authority, victory and power. Standing upon anything denotes mastery and dominion of said object. Job knew where his trust lies. In God who is victorious: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him,” (Psalm 68:1). Paul, speaking of Christ said He, “hath put all things under his feet…,” (Ephesians 1:22). Even this.
“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” There is hope beyond the here and now. Physically, it didn’t look good for Job. He had “sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown,” (Job 2:7). He, in dealing with the pain of his body and the pain of his heart must have thought there is not that much more time left. At one point of desperation, things had gotten so bad, Job prayed for death (see Job 6:8-9).
Despite it all, he knew that there was a better day beyond the corruption of his flesh. His body, when the time came, would lie in the ground and the worms would have their way with him, but he looked forward to another glorious time when “in my flesh shall I see God.” Things were hard for Job, but in his speech, you can still see his faith alive and active in what he believes: and he believes GOD! Therefore, “I bless God! I give God thanks!”
Job teaches us how to respond to God in midst of trials and troubles. He may have been down, especially when his friends attacked him, but he still recognized God for who He is. He basically transitioned his mentality to shift his focus from what was before him to the God who can save Him.
Yes, he grew weary and even questioned why he was going through what he was going through. Who wouldn’t? But, through it all you still see his faith in God come to the forefront in the midst of his story.
In the end, Job was blessed with a double portion of blessings. God testified of Job to his friends. God spoke up for Job and said, “My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath,” (Job 42:7).
It’s not too late for God to turn it around and to testify on your behalf. The week of Thanksgiving is here, and this year is not over yet. There is still room for a blessing. And, even if not – if God never does another thing for us, can we say, “Lord, I thank You?”
At the end of the day, as hard as it may be sometimes, we must transition our thinking and say “… But Lord, I thank YOU!”