“You f…… B…..!” Is the epithet he hurled at me. Did I get your attention? As people who faithfully follow Jesus we are not excluded from our share of anger, vitriol and harassment; if not even more. Christ believers are supposed to share the gospel of Christ and fulfill the call of The Great Commission by telling others about our redeeming Savior. Preachers admonish parishioners at church services worldwide on Sunday mornings to “tell others about Jesus!” I often think: What about those who do not want to be told about God? In today’s climate, I cannot tell you how many times telling others about the goodness of God met me with indifference, hatred and disdain. People are either atheist, agnostic, apatheist or new agers. Hey, different people follow different religions — I get that — and are as passionate about their beliefs as I am about mine. In a few instances, some people I spoke to even tried to get me to convert to their religion. More, other people that I spoke to were deeply hurt by “religious” people and ran as fast as they could away from anyone who uttered the name God. Then there are those who like to challenge your beliefs, undermine your knowledge in God, and corner you into a debate about religion. I’ve learned long ago not to debate God’s word. And then there are those whom I believe are actually tired, miserable, broken and overtaken by their sins but refuse to submit to God out of distrust and/or rebellion. Thus, they attack the “God” in you!
The person who made the offensive comment to me was someone I loved dearly. He was like a brother to me. You know the type of person that is very judgmental, condescending, rude, aggressive and confrontational? This describes my dear friend. He had practically driven away every one in his family and our circle of friends because of his behavior, but I refused to give up on him. “I will love him like Christ loved, and continue telling him about God,” is what I told myself. Nonetheless, at every meeting, dinner, get together with him I left feeling drained, insulted, berated, picked apart and belittled.
But this last meeting was on a whole nother level. It’s as if he came with an agenda to provoke me to respond to his antics. The cheerful person that I am, he began to attack my happiness asking me “Why are you smiling so much? There’s nothing to smile about!” Can you believe it? Someone’s mad at you for smiling! I quickly told him what’s inside reflects on the outside and would he rather I be miserable like him? I know … I know I probably shouldn’t have said that but I just could not believe what I was hearing. He criticized everything from God, my natural hair and character, to my joyful personality. Then it dawned on me how far God had brought me from a few years ago; He took away all my pain and replaced it with His joy! I then began sharing with my friend details of my background and the things God had brought me through, and telling him that’s where my joy comes from. Telling him about the goodness of God in my life seemed to make him even more confrontational. He started badgering religion, religious people and Jesus. I told him that I’m sorry that he feels that way but God is a redeemer and if he would just open up and try to get to know God his life could change too. He said he doesn’t need God and his life is fine without him.
I had to go there! … Albeit nicely. I told him the truth. I told him that his communication with others comes off as negative, aggressive and rude. Sure, we all have our bad days, but to live in a place of perpetual rudeness is a reflective character trait. I reminded him of a couple of people we know that he personally hurt deeply. He took no responsibility and shifted blame on everyone else. He then said that he was a good person and “does good” for others. I told him good works does not make up for the hurt and pain he leaves in his aftermath. I invited him to invite God into his life. I was then met with anger, harsh words, and berating. So much so, I had to walk away from this person whom I considered a dear friend. What truly has the world come to? If you’re smiling it’s fake. If you’re nice you have an ulterior motive. If you’re a Christian you’re hateful because you believe what the Bible says. It’s hard out here in these streets! The Bible forewarned of times such as these.
In Isaiah 5:20, the Bible warns of calling good evil and evil good.
By the time I got home I was in tears and had a pow-wow with God. “God, how could he talk to me like that? Why would he curse me out like that?” It was then God began to pour into my spirit how His Son Jesus was cursed, beaten, and murdered because He shared the good news. It was as if He asked me “Was I more important than His son? Was I better than His son?” If Jesus had to suffer persecution so will you, my child! Wow! It was a wake up call! I had to apologize for my own entitlement and shortsightedness.
How many times have we asked God to “use us” for His kingdom and the assignment does not come as we expect? Truthfully, many do as the aforementioned: question God and walk away from the gospel completely when they are deeply hurt. And truthfully speaking, it is not the person attacking you but the spirit in them. It is often because many people do not want to turn away from their sins, they have been hurt and are afraid to trust God, or they need to test the “God in you” because they need to know He’s real. They are really looking for something to believe in and need to know that this God you speak so highly of is really a redeemer. If we, who proclaim this Christ, buckle at every insult then it gives opposers the finger to mock God and question His power in our lives. I have had it happen time and time again. But what I felt God was speaking to me in this situation is that he used me to plant a seed of salvation. Many hurting people put on a tough exterior but deep down they are yearning for help. God is so loving, he hears their inward cries. When someone touches God’s heart, He usually sends many people to speak into their life.
Life is hard. Sin has hardened people, but our hearts must not become hardened.
This situation with my friend is what I call a ‘Come to Jesus moment.’ We who serve Christ often too have to come to Him and lay at his feet and cry as a little baby. Life is hard. Sin has hardened people, but our hearts must not become hardened. We must do as Paul admonishes,”fight the good fight of faith” and finish our race — bruises, scars, wounds and all!
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Isaiah 35:4
While meditating on Isaiah 35 this morning, my heart was quickened and renewed with the assurance that we will see God’s glory in the midst of our dry desert, and the excellency of our God in every situation that we go through.
In Isaiah 35:1, it says your wilderness and dry land shall be glad and your desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose. It goes on to say your desert will blossom abundantly! If you understand it in its natural context it seems like an oxymoron. When one thinks of a desert they attribute it to barrenness, dryness, emptiness, and isolation. But when we go back and read in Isaiah 35: 1, it says “the Solitary place shall be glad for them.” It is saying this solitary place is good for you because it is teaching you how to be strong, it is equipping you with spiritual armor, and forcing you to rely on and trust God even though your situation looks dismal in the physical. More, the solitary place is where your faith is being developed, and where your praise is born. Calling down prayer rain is to send praise up to heaven.
In Isaiah 35:6, it says in the desert the tongue of the dumb will sing. It says upon this singing waters shall break out and streams shall flow in the desert. I believe it is saying the tongue of the ‘unlearned’ will learn how to praise and worship their God, and upon doing so rivers of blessings shall flow into their barren places and dry lands.
The desert is where you learn how to praise God before the victory. The desert is where you learn to thank Him for the many blessings He has already bestowed upon you. The desert is where you praise Him for the trials in your life because you know according to “His excellency,” everything will work out for your good. It is where you thank Him for your desert experience because it is truly a blessing in disguise. And lastly, the desert is where you learn how to praise God in advance for answers still to come.
Wow! What an amazing finish to this year! God so blessed me to finish “His” book: Don’t just breakthrough, BREAK FREE! I say His book because I had totally different intentions when I started writing the tome. But beloved, God had to bring me through various trials and deliver me from some things in order for me to understand the gist of what I was writing about! Including: stubborness, unforgiveness, pride, homelessness, joblessness and debilitating sickness. I payed the price with blood, sweat and tears! It took me nearly 7 years to finish this book!
I now realize if it had been published when I first started writing it, it would have been verbiage and not experience. It would have been words but no substance. It reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. God had to allow me to be thrown into the fiery furnace to test this word that I was proclaiming; He had to test my faith by fire! Luke 22:31-32 says, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail!
So like clay, instead of being burned up, my faith has been refined into a beautiful vessel! Hallelujah! A vessel for salvation, a vessel of hope, a vessel of light to the lost, depressed, and those that are struggling to live another day!
Many of you may know I’ve recently lost a dear loved one. You never really realize the magnitude of death until it knocks on your door. When I was writing this book, for some reason God put on my heart to write:
“From time to time, God will send you a travel companion to help you along your way [on life’s journey]. Although you may be tempted to get upset when they leave, don’t!” Page 237.
I couldn’t understand at the time why I had written that as I never really lost anyone close to me to death. While editing the final chapters of the book, when I reread that sentence, I wept.
Beloved, God knows the trials we will endure before we can ever conceive of them. Surely, we can never understand why God allows good people to die violently, but oh how He loves us and protects and keeps us in the midst of life’s storms. I love you and God bless you!
Lord, help me be the person you want me to be. Lord, help me to know that I have a purpose divinely ordered by You! Do not let me succumb to peer pressure or what other’s think of me! Give me boldness and confidence to stand on truth, morality, righteousness and most importantly God!
Take away the need to please people! Help me to know that your voice speaks through me and has spoken through those before me and will speak through generations to come to keep the fire burning for Jesus Christ!
Many are called, but few are chosen! Help me to continue to walk the straight and narrow path because many are distractions along the way; wide is the gate that leads to destruction.
1 Thessalonians 2:4
We always speak as God wants us to, because He has judged us worthy to be entrusted with the Good News. We do not try to please men, but to please God, who tests our motives. (GNB)
Lord fill me each morning with your constant love so that I will continuously have a song in my heart and be joyful all my life. Lord you awaken me each morning, you awaken my ear to hear as the learned. Give me as much happiness as the sadness you gave me during all my years of misery.
What is life but a vapor that dissipates and is carried off by the wind! We are like weeds that sprout in the morning, that grow and burst into bloom, then dry up and die in the evening! A few years on this earth is all we have, maybe more if we are strong.Yet they bring trouble and sorrow, then life is soon over then we are gone!
Teach us how short our lives are so we will not waste any time! Direct me in that which I am called to do so that it glorifies and honors your name! Lord my God, let me see your blessing on my life! Give me success in alI I do!
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
You may be reading this right now and and are going through your own personal storm. We go through different seasons in our lives and perhaps at this current moment your season is sickness, joblessness, loneliness, an impending bill that you don’t know how it’s going to get paid, or where the money is going to come from. Perhaps your season is hopelessness, depression and despair; no matter how much you pray or read the Bible, sadness glooms over you. Perhaps your season is a wayward loved one; a rebellious child, a cheating spouse, a backslidden relative, or a cantankerous boss.
Beloved, the verse in Jeremiah admonishes us to be like a tree planted by the water. Water represents peace, stillness and calm. Water is soothing and relaxing. It says it “sends out its roots by the stream.” The steam is Jesus! The verse is saying to grab a hold of God. He is the peace that will still the storm. More so, not only cling to Him, but be rooted and grounded in Him! That no matter what way the wind blows, your faith, trust, and livelihood will be in Jesus Christ! Beloved, even though torrential rain may pour down, your leaves will remain green and intact. If we define green it is stated as:
The color of life, renewal, nature, and energy. It is associated with growth, harmony, freshness, safety, fertility, and environment.
It means that whatever season you go through, God is right there with you! You may face horrendous trials, but God will give you the strength, courage, and boldness to go through it! And the best part, the verse says you won’t cease to bear fruit. While you are going through these trials, God is producing sweet fruit in you: patience, long suffering, forgiveness. Joy! Joy in the midst of your trials! Amen!
James 1:2-4 says, My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Matthew 9:20-22 ESV)
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44 ESV)
*Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38 ESV)
CAST YOUR CARES ON THE LORD
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV)
A good friend passed this story along to me. I loved it so much I just wanted to share the message!
Me: God can I ask you a question?
Me: Promise you won’t get mad
God: I promise
Me: Why did you let so much stuff happen to me today?
God: What do you mean?
Me: Well, I woke up late,
Me: My car took forever to start,
Me: At lunch they made my sandwich wrong and I had to wait,
Me: On the way home, my phone went DEAD, just as I picked up a call…
God: All right…
Me: And on top of it all, when I got home I just wanted to soak my feet in my new foot massager and relax, but it wouldn’t work!!! Nothing went right today! Why did you do that?
God: Let me see, the Death Angel was at your bed this morning and I had to send one of the other angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that
Me: (humbled) OH
GOD: I didn’t let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that would have hit you if you were on the road.
God: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick and I didn’t want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn’t afford to miss work.
Me: (embarrassed) Ok
God: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give false witness about what you said on that call, I didn’t even let you talk to them so you would be covered.
Me: (softly) I see God…
God: Oh and that foot massager, it had a shortage that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn’t think you wanted to be in the dark.
Me: I’m sorry God
God: Don’t be sorry, just learn to trust me…in all things, the good and the bad.
Me: I will trust you
God: And don’t doubt that my plan for your day is always better than your plan.
Me: I won’t God. And let me just tell you God, thank you for everything today.
God: You’re welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I love looking after my children…
Commentary: what a wonderful admonition to teach us to walk by faith and not by sight. We have the faintest idea of how God protects us on a day-to-day basis from spiritual attacks, forseen and unforseen, by the enemy. This story reminded me that no matter what I may go through or how I may feel, to trust God, because He’s always in control!
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
As a new year is beckoning us one can’t help but ponder the challenges, obstacles, twisting and winding roads that have met us. Some are still paralyzed perhaps, by this past year’s events. Maybe you have experienced a personal loss; whether it was the loss of a loved one, career, home or quite simply…hope. You may be tempted to carry into the new year the burdens of yesterday; a quite heavy load that oft times seem impossible to carry. Sometimes even wondering where was God through those sleepless nights and unbearable days.
According to Matthew 28:20 God says “…Lo I am with you always.” He was right there by your side! So I ask you, my brothers and sisters to perhaps think about your situations from a different perspective. Was there a common theme related to the pain, struggle, and hardship you endured this past year? Perhaps there was an area in your life God needed to bring to your attention. Maybe God allowed it to prune, refine, and complete you.
The theme that was a constant challenge in my life this past year was in the area of relationships. It seemed like I was being attacked on every side and in every aspect of my relationships; whether personal, family, or professional. After tirelessly, and frustratingly trying to work things out in my own strength I was humbled to my knees in prayer. God began to show me things about myself that I had not submitted to His will. In each relationship God used the other person to show me a mirror reflection of myself! The traits that I often had problems with in others were some of the same traits God was trying to perfect in me. Wow! And, on the other hand, I also struggled with character traits in others that were the extreme opposite of mine! Nonetheless, I could see how God allowed those situations to make me aware of my own behavior. When I realized the things that I was doing out of habit, stubbornness, or selfishness it was truly a wake up call! It wasn’t comfortable going through that season but I’m glad that I did! I learned a lot from those experiences and am very thankful God showed me what was in my own heart!
So I now ask you to revisit your trials and tests from the previous year. Now that you are looking at them through spiritual glasses, were there trying areas in your life where maybe God was building your character or maturing you spiritually? Spiritual growth often comes in the form of pain. It’s in those tough times that you learn how to depend on God. You strengthen your faith muscle when God delivers you out of trial after trial! Hallelujah! That’s how you get your spiritual wings and begin to fly! The more trials overcome, the closer you are to being free. Let’s go into the new year soaring!
~HaPpy NeW YeAr!