Take back what the devil stole from you!

All the cities which the Philistines had captured between Eckron and Gath were returned to Israel, and so Israel got back all its territory. And there was peace between Israel and the Canaanites. GNB
1 Samuel 7:14

As a Christian, no doubt we will experience peaks and valleys, highs and lows on this journey. More, tantamount to weather seasons, we will go through different spiritual seasons–the summer’s, winter’s, spring’s, and fall’s of our Christian walk. Some people love the change of seasons; personally I would love if it could stay summer all year around! I love summer and everything that comes along with it: feeling the sun on my face, beaches,  barbecues, wearing lighter clothing, outdoor events. I hate Winter! I hate being cold and the seclusion that oftentimes comes with it because of frigid temperatures especially in the northern part of the United States.

As my dread of the physical Winter season, as so the Winter season of my Christian walk. I know we have to go through changes as disciples because that’s how we learn and grow. But truthfully, I’d rather my Christian season stay summer: peaceful, joyous, serene, still, and calm. But in life, everything has to have a balance in order to grow. We will face challanges, trials, loss, attacks, persecutions and the like. There will be times of silence, not understanding God’s purpose and times when it seems like you are doing everything right but you aren’t yielding any fruit! It seems like you are not advancing, moving forward; but perhaps going backwards! It seems like the enemy is taking over your territory.

Prosperity gospel will tell you that you’re not favored by God, you need to plant a large financial seed, or perhaps you are not living right. Beloved, I disagree! You can be doing all you know how to do, living righteously and are at a standstill in certian areas of your life. God loves you, you are always favored by Him, but there are several factors why God may allow these seasons:

1. He’s trying to reach you.

Let’s face it! Some of us learn our lessons quickly and some of us are like the mule that Psalms 32:9 mentions:

Don’t be stubborn like a horse or mule. [They need] a bit and bridle in their mouth to restrain them, or they will not come near you. 

Translation: God has to sternly guide you to follow His will. I’m perfectly guilty of that. He may be trying to call attention to a certian area of your life that you may not even be aware of that’s not glorifying Him: greed, gossip, complaining, selfishness, negativity, self-righteousness. The longer it takes to get the lesson, the longer you’ll be in this spiritual class.

2. God’s teaching you to trust and wait on Him.

How many of us when a trial comes, we first pick up the phone and call a parent, a loved one, or a friend. Or, how many of us our first reaction to a crisis is panic or fear? Sometimes God has to isolate you so that He is the only one you have to turn to. More, I’ve had to learn to take a deep breath when problems occur, don’t let my thoughts run amuck and grab hold of the Bible and find scriptures of hope, perserverance, and God’s faithfulness and MEDITATE on them.

3. Unrepentant sin or idol worship.

The passage in 1 Samuel speaks of the Israelites’ petition to Samuel to pray that God will save them from the hands of the Philistines, but in the interim they were worshipping man made idols (statues). Are their any idols in your life that you may have placed before God, love it so much that you refuse to give it up? Pornography, fornication, gluttony, adultery, material things, lying, stealing, dishonenest business dealings, just to name a few.

The Philistines had already slaughtered four thousand men of the Israelite army and had taken the sacred Lord’s Covenant Box. Samuel’s reply to the Israelites in 1 Samuel 7:3 was to turn to God with all of their hearts and get rid of their idols. He told them to dedicate themselves completely to the Lord, worship Him only and He will resue them from the power of the Philistines. Some of you, God is saying if you turn away from willing sin and idols He will deliver you.

1 Samuel 7:10

The Philistines moved forward to attack; but just then the Lord thundered from Heaven against them. They became completely confused and fled in panic.

Beloved, if you let go of anything in your life that is separating you from true fellowship with God, He will chase away any spirit that may be holding you in bondage and preventing you from advancing in other areas of your life. All of the cities in your life that the enemy has captured because of unrepentant sin or idol worship, God will return back to you! He will give you peace, joy, a future and hope! Jeremiah 29:11

-Puah Neiel

Overcoming Loneliness and Isolation

I was made a servant of the gospel by God’s special gift, which He gave me through the working of His power. Ephesian 3:7

The above verse is commentary from Apostle Paul, mentioning his implantation in God’s kingdom as a disciple of the most high. Paul says in the aforementioned verse, I was “ made a servant” of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not that he went in his own volition or was a follower of Jesus. Quite the opposite! Many who are familiar with Paul’s story knows that before his conversion from Saul, he was a diabolical opponent of Jesus’ teachings and followers of Christ. Paul persecuted and killed those who followed Christ and deemed to eradicate the movement of the gospel. It was on the road to Damascus that Jesus appeared to Paul and reprimanded him for persecuting him, closed his eyes of darkness and thus gave him the gift to see (Acts 9:4-15).

So what does this so called “gift” have to do with loneliness and isolation? In Ephesians 4:7, Paul says that each one of us has received a special gift in proportion to what Christ has given. You see beloved, God didn’t just strike Paul blind, I believe the blindness was a metaphor for Paul’s spiritual darkness. Paul thought he was doing a noble, lawful thing by persecuting followers of Christ. He thought he was preserving the current religious laws of the land. God shut paul’s eyes to show him the evil, wicked, and immoral life he was living through pride, self-righteousness, and murder. And God, through Ananias, revealed to Paul that the only way His eyes could be truly opened to the spirit realm and receive true sight is to be touched by God! (Acts 9:12). Even Ananias pleaded with the Lord that this man was too wicked and evil! But I love how the Lord says in Acts 9:15, “Go your way, for he is my chosen vessel to bear my name before nations and kings, and the children of Israel.

Beloved, God chose Paul as his disciple, opened his eyes to a deeper understanding of the things of God that most Christ followers at that time couldn’t comprehend, and gave him many spiritual gifts. One being a gift of deliverance (or exorcism), when he cast out a spirit of divination in a girl in the village whom merchants were using for profit. (Acts 16:18). But the irony is that with these spiritual gifts will come loneliness and isolation! Even on Paul’s spiritual journey there were moments of loneliness and isolation. Recall when Mark deserted Paul and Barnabas when they were spreading the gospel in Pamphylia, which later caused contention between Paul and his cohort Barnabas and they too would eventually part ways.

Ephesians 4:11

It was He who gave gifts to mankind; he appointed some to be pastors and teachers. (12) He did this to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ. (GNB).

How many of you God has given a gift and you denied it because of  your own personal dreams, goals, or worldly ambitions. Or, how many of you have denied His gift because you feel like you aren’t qualified to represent God like Paul, or do not have your life together. But does not God say in 1 Corinthians 1:27, that He uses things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful (NLT). More, some even deny the gift because of concern with pleasing spouse or family. 1 Corinthians 7:33 says, a married man concerns himself with worldly matters, because he wants to please his wife; and he is pulled in two directions. And more — this part many women do not want to hear: 1 Corinthians 7:34, says an unmarried woman or a virgin concerns herself with the Lord’s work, because she wants to be dedicated both body and spirit. There are so many woman who are depressed and feel alone because they want to get married and feel like God does not favor them because He has not given them a husband. I speak to many of these women and a common consensus, I find, is a lack of Biblical study, or even spending time with the Lord. Many, men and women, do not spend intimate personal time with Christ to learn His heart, His leading, His direction for finding a mate. They have a void within themselves, an emptiness that they think only a man or woman can fill when Jesus is already waiting at the altar; He already fell in love with you, but you’re trying to fill that love outside of Him! I wonder if women and men would concern themselves with the Lord’s work and be dedicated to Him in body and spirit first, how many would attract mates who are drawn to them because of their worship of Christ – because they are operating in their gift! Amen!

More, I find that the people God does truly call or give a spiritual gift, often do not want to go! It’s the ones that God does not call that are the ones that are happy to let you know with titles of a Dr., prophet, prophetess, a preacher a pastor etc. before their names. Sadly, some go to push their own agenda, or propaganda. But those that are truly called to proclaim the gospel, there can be, in the beginning, an inward struggle. It takes a letting go of the person’s plans, goals and ambitions; laying down of their life to follow Christ. Beloved that is not an easy task! The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:12, that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted! Who in their natural mind would want to sign up to be persecuted? That’s why it is a struggle for some! Beloved, the spirits that operate in this world are wicked and evil, you are going to be persecuted anyway, so why not for Christ? The devil will only give you temporary satisfaction. The devil makes deals. Whatever he gives you he wants to collect something else  for it in return!

Romans 11:29 says,

For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable!

Amen! That means that when God gives it to you, He expects nothing in return! The “gifts” of God are irrevocable! Many people want to be in control of their own lives and the lives of others, so they turn to dealing in the occult to get gifts from the devil. You best believe whatever satan gives you he wants a return on his investment! Why do you think you read about so many people involved in these types of practices who commit suicide or murder, or perform other bizarre behaviors that are incomprehensible? Beloved, there is a spiritual realm and it is real! Granted, when a person submits to God’s call, as 2 Timothy 3:12 says, will suffer persecution because the devil will do everything he can to stop the Gospel of Jesus Christ; that will involve times of loneliness, rejection and isolation. Some people will simply think you have become too religious, some will now feel uncomfortable around you; feeling like they can no longer do things around you that they used to do in fear of judgement, and other times God will allow periods of being alone to teach you how to hear His voice; to teach you how to love Him, and to perfect your gifts.

Beloved, that’s why we must constantly do our part and work on our personal relationship with Christ. Work on learning His heart, what pleases Him, and learning His ways. If not, we will turn inward and blame Christ and develop and angry attitude towards Him simply because we don’t understand with our limited thinking. We will begin to blame God for our mishaps when the enemy is simply the devil, and not God!

As people called in Christ, God has given us a gift. In Ephesians 3:3, Paul says that God revealed to him the “Secret plan.” I love that verse because those die-hard followers of Christ know this secret! No matter how much they are persecuted by satan and his cohorts, they keep fighting because God has opened their eyes in the spirit realm. Like gifts, anyone can obtain the secret but some are too busy with the world’s system: money, recognition, power, wealth. More, some are just too busy with the ordinary day-to-day goings on of life to get His secrets or gifts to defeat the enemies in their lives! It has to be a strong desire to live holy and righteous and to want to know the truth of God to really receive this gift. Paul says in Ephesians 3:5, that God has revealed this secret by the spirit to His Holy apostles and prophets. Sadly, some people in church don’t have the gifts, though they sit Sunday after Sunday in their designated church pews only socializing with their inner church circles, while new converts are often isolated and lost in a new environment to eventually stop attending church altogether. Some are even so concerned about recognition within the church that they neglect their own family’s needs and do not even call or check on sick family members or neighbors in their neighborhood outside of their church, outside of their church ministry or without receiving recognition. Sadly, these have not yet received the gift! I say yet because beloved, I have been on both sides of the fence. I am so thankful to God that He has lifted the veil, and opened my eyes like Paul, and it is only because of deep prayer, and wanting God’s heart that He gave me true vision!

It is truly a gift to be sensitive to others’ needs. You never know what people are going through or if one day they may decide to take their lives because they feel like no one cares. Even if people may slight our greetings or invitations we must put our own feelings aside and not let a spirit of rejection enter our hearts and become embittered or angry. We must keep reaching out to God’s people, despite rejection. And this I will tell you takes much patience and diligent prayer. Somehow, we have turned into a me me generation. What are people doing for me, or how can this benefit me. I will be the first to vouch for this because I was this way for years. But what I had noticed was it was a generational curse passed down my lineage. It was a spirit of pride operating in my family and I was determined to break the cycle!

Moreover, sometimes God will allow loneliness and isolation so you have no other choice but to go to Him; so you have no choice but to cry out to Him! When God is ready to elevate you to the next level in your spiritual growth, He will remove the cushion of family, friends, and sometimes church members! It will seem like in the physical everyone is acting up or abandoning you, but in the spirit God is pulling up the weeds, planting new soil, killing the infestation of dead religion! — creating new fruit in you! A servant that is going to be used by God must first learn how to serve. Nowadays, everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame, everyone wants to be in the spotlight without first learning humility; how to cater to their brothers and sisters’ needs first. Sadly, with the resources of social media, I believe it is exacerbating selfishness, self-marketing and self-promotion. As humans we are so driven by our ego and the constant need of validation, recognition to prove ourselves, our worth or talent. Hard we may try, we still fall victim to the world’s propaganda and ideologies, when God calls us to be the exact opposite: to validate others, build up others’ self-esteem; help others to recognize their gifts and help nurture it! We look at shepherds as leading the flock, but in essence shepherds serve their flock: nurturing, caring for, and feeding each and everyone.

If you are to be a shepherd for Christ, you must grasp this lesson. Get it! Ingrain it! If we are to be used of Christ, we must put ourselves aside; our egos, and serve God’s people! I’m not just talking about in church, but in everyday life. Serve your family first: call your family, check in with them if you haven’t heard from them in a while – not text or email, but be a compassionate voice on the other end of the line. Serve at your job by being a listening ear to a despondent co-worker. Serve a person on the bus by giving up your seat, and showing the love and generosity of Christ. Serve your neighbors by introducing yourself, and letting them know you are available should they ever need anything. Beloved, that’s showing the heart of God and using your gifts! Serve from a place of humility, lowliness, not self-validation, recognition; putting others before ourselves, their needs, wants – most, putting God’s love before our own need for love. It was once said, “whatever you need, give it away.” Beloved, that’s how you truly overcome loneliness and isolation. Give yours away! It’s hard, I know because we all want to feel loved and needed, but for some of us, God has made us self-sustainers and has given us his self-sustaining love that we grasp stronger than most. These that understand this love in a deeper more profound way, He calls to spread that love to others who feel lonely and unloved; those who are weaker in the faith.

The problem is we began to get jealous of God’s love for others and turn inward and ask, “what about me, Lord?” When God has equipped us with all the love we will ever need in Him! We just have to learn how to tap into it!

So today I look at my Christian walk through new eyes, a new perspective. God calls us to go out and feed His sheep, only then will we cure our own loneliness!

-Puah Neiel

Rooted in God

“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.”

Jeremiah 17:7,8

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.


@healingbalmcafe

God Has Not Forgotten You: The Death Of Trayvon Martin 

When one becomes a Christian, God commands that you pick up your cross and follow Him! That requires letting go of all worldly plans, goals and desires. He sets us on a new course in Him. Oftentimes it may not be finite, sometimes He just reroutes our course. Like the children of Israel, sometimes God has to bring us through the desert before we can get to the promised land. But how long it takes to get there is most times up to you. I will be the first to tell you, if you go in obedience your plight will be much easier and may be faster. Many times we stall God’s plans for us by walking in disobedience and rebellion, or having a negative, complaining and bad attitude. But Beloved, still there are no guarantees.

It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority (Acts 1:7).

Many other times God may be tearing down the walls we have built around ourselves and rebuilding us up in Him. Jeremiah 31:4-18. He takes us through hunger, distress and dry patches in the desert; often testing our faith, like our Father Abraham whom He tested with His beloved son Issac. He is teaching us patience, endurance, building up the character traits needed in us to be soldiers in this Christian army. Beloved, we come to God as weaklings. We think we are strong because we have been surviving off of the world system; flattery, social status, economic position. We have gotten our identity from the world’s modicum of success. God has to come in, clean house and teach us that our identity is solely in him, not of the things of this world! Beloved God is a GAME CHANGER! When in the world, we are looking through the dim eyes of success. When we give our lives to God, He can elevate us beyond what we can ever conceive of in our limited mind. He works in the supernatural! He can do exceedingly, abundantly whatever we think or ask (Ephesians 3:20). God has not forgotten you!

Joel 2:25 says:

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25 NKJV)

Moreover, Christ had to literally carry His own cross while beaten, battered, bloody and bruised. Here on this earth, those that are called to Christ must do the same. We must carry our cross; which is heavy on our backs as sickness, dis-ease, burdens and human loss; all while being beaten and bruised by the wicked spirits that work in the darkness of this world — often through the hands of man.

This brings to date the current Trayvon Martin situation. Some are deeming it profiling, racism, or a hate crime. Beloved, can I tell you that it’s neither! It is a spiritual battle! The eyes are the windows to the soul. When you look into George Zimmerman’s eyes, they emanate coldness, darkness, and lifelessness. Let us not forget our father Jesus Christ was the sacrificial lamb that was slain so you and I could be free! Satan and his kingdom worked through the insecurities, classism and hatred of man to slay Christ. The death of Trayvon Martin is an ever present reminder that souls, minds, and the heart of man still needs to be free from the grips of sin and fallen humanity. The war still rages between good and evil. If we look at this situation in the physical it is a tragedy indeed, but looking from the eyes of spirituality, God sent one of his children down to earth for an appointed time to do His will, and God has called Him back home! He is in a much better place than us, for he is sitting at the Father’s feet, while we are yet here to fight the good fight. Of course, it is of great pain and loss when we lose a loved one, but let us not forget we are only here on borrowed time. Beloved, God has not forgotten us! He knows His plans for us before we are even born. Some of us will have to suffer the wrath of the devil; persecution, hatred, and even death! And let us not discount Mr. Zimmerman, also a life that was lost in the wilderness that only God can bring back home!

God is the Resolution

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!

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