“Remain Strong in God!”

One morning as I was making a cup of coffee I ran out of creamer and had to open a new container.  I unscrewed the top and picked and picked at the protective seal underneath to no avail.  I couldn’t get it to rip off for anything.  Finally, out of frustration, I reached into the dishwasher and grabbed a knife and punctured a small hole in the top of the seal.  After that, it was easy for me to put my finger in the hole and manipulate the seal for its ultimate removal.  Coffee time!

This had me thinking about how the enemy works in our lives.  As long as we stay sealed up in Christ the enemy can pick and pick but our packaging in Him remains strong.  No wonder Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1-3) felt such a compelling urge to get the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt to their full strength once again.  Wherever there is a hole or a breach in any structure it allows an opportunity for an enemy to poke his nose into and gaining access to manipulate the circumstances of life.  It makes his job easier.

Paul encourages us, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord,” (1 Corinthians 15:58).  Our diligence will pay off after a while.  We must be like a wall without a breach.  We must take our cue from Nehemiah to patch up any deficiencies in our spiritual walls.  We are the ones who have to be “steadfast and unmovable” to have our work count in the end.  If we stop building and maintaining our walls then they will fall to utter ruin and we will have nothing to show for our work.

We must work at the upkeep of all that God has given us.  “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not,” (Galatians 6:9).  Our press matters.  Our work matters.  Our walls matter.  We must continue forth with the mentality of Nehemiah when he stated, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down…” (Nehemiah 6:3).  The enemy wants to thwart your work so that holes and weaknesses can be left for him to poke and manipulate.  But, if we want to “reap” then we must not “faint.”  We must push forth in doing good and leave the benefits to God.

Obtaining coffee creamer that morning was a struggle until I broke the seal.  Don’t let the enemy break your seal.  Stay covered in Christ and push forth until the end for your reward is coming.  Now is not the time to give in or give up.  If necessary, ask God to help you repair what is broken that you may be whole once again.  Remain strong in God!  You can do this!

Be blessed.

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“Before there was Egypt, there was a promise!”

Many times when we discuss the land of Egypt within the confines of the Bible, our minds automatically trackback to the time when the children of Israel were in bondage there.  We see them under the weight of the taskmasters, dealing with oppressive circumstances that are beyond their control.  They stand by and watch as some are beaten, others are killed; lack and degrading situations run rampant throughout their time there.  Fear, hatred, and jealousy by others drove them to the place where they are residing; a place where tough days seem like they will never come to an end.

Often times, when people find themselves in a hard spot of life, or when they find themselves coming up short and just not happy with the way things are turning out at this particular time, they refer to that circumstance as their place of “Egypt.”  This is where heartbreak and troubling times lie.  This is the place where it seems everything is fighting against them and no matter what one does it just doesn’t appear that they will ever come out on top.  People may not have taskmaster’s whips to deal with, but other things just lash and lash out at them, making it hard to get back up again.

As hard as this may be to believe, I assure you your Egypt will not last forever.  I’m sure the children of Israel had doubts about this.  After all, their time there lasted about four hundred years.  Yet, even before this family of seventy ventured into the land and grew to the astronomical numbers we see in Exodus, God knew all about their time there before they were even there.

In Genesis 15:13 God told Abram, “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”  Outside of that prophecy God also said, “And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance,” (Genesis 15:14).  In this we see, there was a promise before they even set one foot in Egypt; before they even encountered a problem, God already had a blessing lined up for when they came out.

Today, we fight against so many unknowns.  We deal with all the this and that’s of life that it simply just weighs one down.  One might not find themselves in a literal state of captivity, but something just sits on them heavy, becoming an almost unbearable burden, that they just don’t know what to do.  With a feeling of exasperation, some just give up, content just to go through the motions of life, without grabbing hold of the feeling of hope because of the fear of being let down again, just to drift back into that state of uncertainty once more.

But, I am here to tell you today, continue hoping and never give up.  Your “Egypt” is not lost on God.  God knows what you are facing.  He knows every disappointment you are dealing with.  He knows every struggle you are battling.  He knows everything that you are fighting through and that’s fighting against you.

It may be hard to see the proverbial silver lining in a dark cloud at times or the light at the end of the tunnel, but we have something better.  We have a promise!  God told Abram when his people came out, they were coming out better than when they went in.  God was going to judge those who did them wrong, and God was going to bless them greatly.

Another promise Abram received was in a few verses prior to those noted above.  God told him, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be,” (Genesis 15:5).  Not only were they going to be blessed, but they were going to come out increased in the people they were.  To go from one individual to the millions they would come out to be, they were going to grow not only in number but in experience through their troubling times.  They would have to learn to endure some stuff in order to be the people who would eventually be fit to take on the Promised Land.

While it may at times seem like the hard times are breaking you, they may be actually making you.  So remember, before there was Egypt, there was a promise.  And, I don’t know about you, but I will take a promise of God over a so-called silver lining any day.  The promises of God are sure.  Through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are told, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us,” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

In other words, no matter what you are facing today, Jesus has you covered.  No matter the obstacles or hard places that make you feel like you are in Egypt and you just want to give up, God has an unfailing promise of His love, grace, mercy, peace, and deliverance through even the most difficult circumstances.

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Your Little Stuff Matters!

“I don’t have enough in me.”

“My gift is not as great as theirs.”

“The anointing is me is not as strong as another.”

“I can’t do this.”

“I don’t have enough to work with.”

“I am too small.”

“I don’t have someone supporting me like that.”

Have you ever struggled with the idea of you don’t have enough in you to make a difference or a positive impact? Do you feel God pulling you into an area faith but the fear that your “little bit of stuff” is not enough and it’s holding you back?

Many people struggle with thoughts such as these. If it’s not big, it won’t work. But God never called us to big things. But, what He did do was call us to step out in faith believing in Him, in where He wants to take us.

There is to be no inferiority complex among God’s people. We are not depending on what we bring to the table. Our dependence is upon Him and what He does with what we bring. God is the one that establishes the work of our hands (Psalms 90:17). God is the one who gives the increase off of what we do (1 Corinthians 3:7). Therefore, it doesn’t matter what we think of the size of what we bring because God is the one working behind the scenes; God is the one who works in it to outsize all.

All He asks of us is to step out in faith and work with what He gave you.

“For who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10). Every great tree that stands tall in the forest started from a small thing; from a seed. Your “small thing” is the seed of your gift that God is waiting for you to plant so that He can cause it to grow. An unplanted seed will not flourish and neither will your gift.

Don’t shun it because you think it’s not big enough. Don’t toss it to the side because you think it’s not good enough and doesn’t matter. It’s not about what you bring; it’s all about what He does with what you bring.

Luke 16:10 tells us, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much . . .” God wants to see what you do with the “least” before He turns it into “much.” Won’t you plant your little seed today?

Little stuff matters. If you don’t think so, take encouragement from these little critters:

“There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:

The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer,

The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;

The locusts have not king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;

The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces,” (Proverbs 30:24-28).

You see, it’s not about size or strength, but the wisdom God gives to those who render their little bit of stuff to Him in service. Size doesn’t matter to God because He is the God of increase. What matters most with God is our faithfulness in rendering what we do have to Him and trusting Him to let it grow.

“Little things make big things happen” (John Wooden). 

Especially, when God is in it. So, don’t cast it off. Work it!

Blessings.

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“Today, I Walk!” | Word For Life Says

The way one walks says a lot about them.  When I’m grocery shopping I’m a beast.  My walk is hard for my family to keep up with (which is why I shop alone, for the most part).  I can hit five or six different stores in one day of grocery shopping (I know prices by heart and refuse to pay more for it or I want a certain store brand – pray for me :)).  The way I walk shows everyone in my path, “I don’t play!”

You are identified by how you walk.  You can tell if someone is tired by the way they walk.  They may seem just a little slower and less focused due to exhaustion.  If someone walks with a limp they can be identified as being sore or perhaps injured.  A straight, persistent gait can imply confidence.  Someone with pep in their step can give the impression of happiness.  People pay attention to the way you walk.

People are not the only ones who pay attention to our walk.  God is watching each life that goes before Him.  That’s what the word walk means in the Bible.  It speaks of one’s life or conversation.  Their daily day-to-day affairs.  Colossians 1:10 exhorts us, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.” (KJV).  Your walk matters.

The psalmist knew to whom he was living.  He did not possess his own life.  He did not own his own steps.  While he strode across the face of this earth, “in the land of the living,” he was walking “before the Lord.”

How many days do we waste living our days for other people?  How much stress do we put on ourselves to please other people?  It’s okay to work in cooperation with others, but we don’t live or walk for them!

Choose today to live and walk before the Lord.  Being a people pleaser will mess up your stride.  If you really want to advance spiritually and in this world, live your life “before the Lord.”  His opinion is the only one that matters.

Free yourself from the chains and shackles of people’s approval.  If you are straight with God – then, you are straight!  He’s the one that loves you!  He’s the one that saved you!  He’s the one that brought you to this new day.  Use it to walk “before the Lord!”

Today, I walk before the Lord!

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“Know Real Love!”

 

“. . . Because the Lord your God loves you,” Deuteronomy 23:5, NKJV

Those last three words, “God loves you,” are a salve for the broken-hearted and for hurting souls everywhere. If nobody else tells you, it’s three little words that God wants you to know, “God loves you.” If nobody else will show you, God said, “I will!”

Human emotions are so fickle. One day we’re up and the next we are down. Depending on which phase of life we are in our perception of reality can be altered by how we feel about the moment we are currently in. If we’re up, then it’s not hard to fathom love coming from everywhere, centering on us and making us feel good about ourselves. But, it is just the opposite when we are experiencing a downward phase. We can be living in a whole house full of people, right under the same roof as yourself, and feel completely devoid of love; feeling empty, as you try to hand out to others what you don’t feel coming to you. Love!

Love is nothing to play with. It’s not a joke. It’s a passion that dwells inside each of us hungering to be fed, wanting to be filled. I don’t know anyone in their right mind who doesn’t want to be loved. Who in the world is there that doesn’t want to be cherished by another? Who doesn’t want to feel cherished by another? Who doesn’t want the tender security of love wrapped around them, embracing them until every inch of one’s heart can feel that affectionate overflow?

To deny the need for love is to deny the way God created us. 1 John 4:8, NKJV, says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Love is instilled in each of us as part of His creation. “God is love,” and in the Book of Genesis we read, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . .” (1:26, NKJV). We were made to feel and do as God does, and that means love, also.

“God loves you!” Throughout the pages of the Bible, the overflow of all He feels for us is pronounced over and over again. He has plenty of evidence to mark the extremes of His love for us. Here in Deuteronomy 23:5, He is noted as reversing a curse because He loves His people. But His ultimate show of love came when He initiated His plan to reverse the curse of sin once and for all. The plan was successful but it didn’t come without a price. His love for us cost the life of His Son, John 3:16. All that was done so that one day we might experience the joy of what it really means to be loved; such a tender embrace wrapped around us that can’t be felt anywhere else.

“God loves you!” While human love can and will be fickle, God said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you,” (Jeremiah 31:3, NKJV). There will come a day when “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love,” (Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV). That’s the tender embrace in action; that strong love that quiets everything else and gives us rest. It’s like stepping into His arms, the arms of love and crying it all out, and feeling nothing but His love. Knowing that God loves us in such a way inspires us for today. When one feels this love, it makes the broken heart feel revived and the hurting soul feels lifted once again. We may not always get the love from humanity that we seek, (and I won’t downplay the need for that), but “God loves you!” Unlike our human counterparts and those we seek affection from; God’s love will not fail us. It’s the real thing!

 

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“How Blessed Are You?” | Word For Life Says

 

There is no deep thought here or great spiritual revelation, just a question, “How blessed are you?”  One day I was sitting outside and just watching the trees blow lightly in the breeze.  I was listening to one of my favorite sounds of summer, the locusts in the trees.  I felt the warmth of the sun while watching the birds busy on the branch across from me.  My mind asked me, “How blessed are you?”  It’s kind of a rhetorical question because we are soooo blessed.  Not with great material possessions or new positions of honor, but with life.  Every day we are living is a blessing from the Lord.  Every day we breathe, no matter the outcome, is a wonderful gift from God.  Every moment with our families is to be treasured no matter how much they can pluck your nerves sometimes( 🙂 ).  Every day we get to experience is a day someone else didn’t get to enjoy.  Every book we get to read is a story that’s something special.  Every blog we get to meander over is a joy of fellowship bringing together people from around the world.  Every moment, every second of every day is God saying, “I’m still here.  I still love you.  I’m still in control of it all.”

“How blessed are you?”  I’m very blessed and I don’t take one day God has given me for granted.  Everything He pours into my life is a major blessing.  As I said, no deep revelation, just a question from a very grateful heart on today.  Enjoy your blessings today!!!

 

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“Know That God Hears!”

 

“I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place,”  Psalm 118:5, NKJV

It was one of those moments in prayer when you could utter no words, tearing streaming down your face, and only one phrase keeps repeating itself in the heart. That was me one night and try as I might to redirect my prayer, the Holy Spirit within me kept drawing me back to Psalm 118:5. I couldn’t get past it. After several attempts to lead my own prayer, I acquiesced.

There had to be a reason why my heart stayed so solely on this one verse. A revelation struck in the midst, telling me that I needed to be reassured that God hears me.  Sometimes the heart, as faithful as it can be, needs the additional support of knowing God hears.

“I called on the LORD!” God has so many wonderful characteristics and attributes, but one of the things that always strikes me as impressive is the fact that He hears my prayers, Psalm 54:2. In all lowliness of mind and heart, we come before Him freely. The Sovereign of the universe becomes attentive to us, to our needs, and bows down His ear to take on our concerns. He doesn’t have to but He is mindful of us, Psalm 8:4. He centers Himself to focus wholly and completely on us.

“The LORD answered me!” God responds! Our deepest heart’s desires do not fall on deaf ears. God is not playing cat and mouse with us. He wants us to seek Him that He may be found. “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near,” (Isaiah 55:6, NKJV). Then, He can respond!

How would we receive it if God verbally and clearly answered us? I, honestly, would probably freak out. But, answer us He does! How often have we gone in prayer, and the Sovereign of the universe has moved and acted on our behalf? Too many times to count! Often in my prayers, I am always thanking Him for inter-weaving Himself through every area of my life because I may not have heard an answer, but I can see His response. I can see Him moving mountains and obstacles. I can feel Him bringing peace in the midst of the storm. I wonder at His glorious love for us that causes Him to respond.

“Set me in a broad place.” Distressing times are tight. It feels as though you really can’t move this way or that. You feel locked in and bound up as if unseen shackles are imprisoning you. But, when God answers prayer, you feel release. You feel a freedom that was once a dream. It no longer feels like the walls are caving in on you, rather with a Herculean strength of the spirit, you feel like you can now push some stuff out of your life and move on.

My heavenly Father hears me! There’s no need to get too deep with words here. Sometimes we just need to be reassured of these old, simple truths. God hears me! Take that, and go in the peace of God today.

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“Beauty For Ashes!”

Messed up.
Tore up.
Jacked up.
Crazy!
 
Upside down.
Turned around.
Mind blown.
Thoughts, hazy!
 
Life crashes.
Dreams smashes.
Walls cave.
Crumbled messes!
 
Hope gone.
Pressure on.
What now?
Lord blesses!
 
Picked up.
Restored again.
Enemies –
God smashes!
 
Joy back.
Despair sacked.
Exchanged now,
Beauty for ashes!

“To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…,” Isaiah 61:3

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“Glorify God!”

“Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness,”
Psalm 29:1-2

Alpha and Omega! The First and the Last! He that was, and is, and is to come! Majesty! Omnipotent! Omniscient! Heavenly Father! King of all kings, and LORD of all lords! El Shaddai! He that is worthy of all honor and all praise! He, our Father who art in heaven, is worthy of all honor and all praise. His name is to be glorified. His name is to be magnified.

Ah, we know God by these titles and many, many more. Or, at least, we should. God is worthy to hear His children speak reverently about Him on a continual basis. Daily the praises of who He is in our life should pour from our lips, recognizing Him for His glorious nature. But, may I venture to say, that to truly glorify God is to go beyond the words of our lips. It is something that should be manifested in our daily lives. After all, actions do speak louder than words and for the world to see what a mighty God we serve – they will witness it through the way we glorify Him with our lives.

Matthew 5:16 exhorts us to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The world needs a visual display of how this thing works. They need someone to show them how to shine; how to live this life the way God designed for mankind to live it. This world lacks good representation. “We are ambassadors for Christ,” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Before He left this world to return to heaven, Jesus said, “I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” (John 17:4). We, who are now saved, as ambassadors, are to carry on the work of glorifying our heavenly Father. As Jesus Himself pointed out, it goes beyond lip service; rather it is a life that has obediently followed Him and “worked.”

Again, actions really do speak louder than words! What Jesus did and what we have to do in our daily lives are exactly the same. Jesus said, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” And, He teaches His disciples that in order for the world to glorify God, they need to “see your good works” and then they will “glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16).

So, you see, praising God with your lips is one thing. But, glorifying God with your life is something totally different. Glorifying God is the manifestation of the praise that is living on the inside of you, working on the outside for all men to see. Is your life today fulfilling the command of David in Psalm 29? Are we giving unto the Lord what is His due? It was Jesus’ main goal in life. Is it ours?

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“Do It with Passion!”

 

There is one thing that really gets me going and that is seeing someone work their gift or talent with passion.  Oh, I have seen people operate in the blessings of the Lord with dryness and being very dispassionate about what they were doing, and can I tell you, there is no comparison.

Talent, skill and position can only carry you so far in life because if what you are working in is not a drawing force eventually people will stop paying attention to you; eventually people will become just as dispassionate about what you are trying to put forth.  John Maxwell said,

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”

I agree wholeheartedly.  People want to follow one that gets their soul stirred up.  People want to walk the same course as one who is set ablaze for a cause; who is consumed with a yearning to get things done and to excel to be all that God has called them to be.

That word consumes gives the idea of allowing oneself to be spent for the cause.  John 2:17 spoke of Jesus in this sense when it says, “And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house has eaten me up.”  Other versions actually use the word “consume,” (see also Psalm 69:9).  This was said after He overthrew the tables in the temple.  His passion for God’s house stirred inside of Him and would not allow Him to pass by and watch what was going on without saying or doing something about it.  Jesus spent Himself for the cause of God.

In Psalm 119:139 also talks of being taken over with passion.  “My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.”  The cause of God was so alive in him that the psalmist couldn’t help but to be cut to the heart when others would come against His word.

Where the Spirit of God operates there can be no dull or dry commitment.  It’s all the way or nothing at all.  There has to be fervency, (Rom. 12:11).  One has to be on fire with and for what God has placed on the inside of them.

“It is the Spirit who gives life,” (John 6:63, NASB).  There is no deadness when the Spirit of God is in full operation and if you are passionate about what God has given you, you should be Spirit-led, Spirit-full, and Spirit-alive!  You should be on fire with passion!

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”  Put your all into it!  Let what God has placed on the inside of you bubble up and boil over to the outside that men “may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (Mt. 5:16).  The things you do may or may not gain attention but the things you do with passion draws people closer to Him.  God gets the glory when people see what He is doing through you and they want to be a part of it.

Live life passionately.  Live life like the Spirit of God is alive in you; live life on fire for Him.  If you are going to sing, let your voice ring out with a burning love till it reaches the souls of others drawing them in.  If you play the drums then beat them like the heart of God beats in you.  If you are going to write, write that your words are felt more than they are read.  If you are going to preach, preach as if the cloud from the glory of the Lord has already filled the temple beckoning men to take notice of His presence.  The same is true for any gift or talent God has placed in you.  Whatever you do, whatever your gift, whatever your skill do it with passion!

I don’t know if God is calling you to overthrow some tables but I do know that He is calling you to operate like He’s alive in you.  He’s calling you to use your might and be passionate about what He has given you!

Be blessed.

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