Psalm 46:1 tells us that "God is our refuge and strength and a very present help in trouble." What comforting words those are for the times in which we live! This world is hopeless and of no comfort or help for the people in it.
17 lives were completely changed, in a moment, all of a sudden, without warning, yesterday, when a shooter came to a High School and started shooting students. We have heard this story before on too many occasions. It is more than tragic! There are no words! I don't know if any knew the Lord, but prayer is needed for the families of the victims.
All of the news anchors and commentators all ended up saying the same thing....in so many words, no one knows what to do about the senseless killings of our youth. As I listened, I sensed the hopelessness and confusion in the voices of everyone who had something to say.
God is the only refuge for a dying world. Sin rules, and will continue to rule. When God, in the Garden of Eden, said to Adam and Eve, "What is this that thou hast done?", they could have never entered into the potency, the depth, or even a microcosm of what God was actually saying to them. Their one act of disobedience, plunged all of the world and creation into sin. Sin that has unfolded more and more, down through the ages. The face of sin has a dark, dark, evil, and satanic hold upon the earth. Its victims are leaving this earth and ending up in a Christ-less eternity.
Satan has targeted our youth! It usually starts from within the family structure. Once he has the family, he undoubtedly gets their children. There are many young people who are greatly troubled deep within. They act out and satan fills their hearts with evil and uses them like puppets on a string. But for the grace of God, go I.
As a painter/artist, I am often inspired to paint stories that bring hope or healing or something positive and good. I am presently working on a collage piece that speaks to our need to 'Catch A Child'. Each one of us are in a position to take at least one young person under our wing to mentor them, to encourage them, or to assist them in any way that we can. I strongly suggest we take that ministry up. I'm speaking about sacrificing our own precious time to work with them outside of the church walls!!! Ask God to give you a young person, suited for you, one who can benefit from your testimony, and experiences in your life.
We already know that Jesus is the answer for the world today. We know what He is able to do. Let's be a part of the healing process in a sin sick, and dying world!
Time is winding down, and we are closer and closer to our eternal home. Let's make the mark we are suppose to make on the planet while there is still time, while we yet have breath, while it is still day!
There are always decisions that have to be made. They range from, routine decisions to critical decisions. Sometimes we may decide to do something based on what we think is the best possible option for us, at the time. Whatever process we use to decide a matter, the outcome will always speak to whether it was the better thing to do or not.
As Christians, the Lord God never leaves us to figure things out on our own. He knows that's virtually impossible for us to to do. There are things that we could never anticipate or be prepared to for. Since He knows about everything concerning us, what we will need, and in what way we will need it, He should be the one making the final decision, not us.
It is absolutely necessary, and important to inquire of God on all matters, not some, but all! Don't take anything for granted. Whether it's a big decision or a little decision, they both require the right answer.
David inquires of God, and He gets an answer with direction. Surely, the outcome was victorious! There was another point in time where David didn't inquire of God and assumed that because God answered him a yes before, that He would undoubtedly do the same, and he, David, was wrong! They got slaughtered in battle simply because he thought that God's answer for the same situation would yield the same results as before.
It doesn't matter how God may have answered us in the past, we must go to Him afresh and ask for His mind, His will, and His permission to do or not do something! This is crucial! Never assume anything where God is concerned. He sees the beginning, middle, and the end of a situation, we can't. He is there to protect us from unnecessary problems, and to make sure that we get the blessing.
Oftentimes, we fail to ask God for His permission or go ahead on a matter because we lack the faith to believe that He has our best at heart. We want what we want, and we don't want God to step in and possibly halt, stop, or say 'No' to us, so we proceed with what we want to do, and then pray afterwards for His blessing. It doesn't work that way, unfortunately. We cannot deal with God that way and expect to get His best for us.
One of the other things we do, at times, is to run a situation down to someone we trust to see what their take is on it. Now that is okay if the person is spiritual minded, but we still have to consult God. That individual may answer us according to their own prejudices, feelings, desires, or common sense. That's not god enough, because we could still make a bad decision.
The answer God gives is tailor made just for you and me! His answer takes in every facet of our lives, present and future. God knows five years down the line, where that single decision would leave us or our family.
Never trust what seems to be the obvious answer! Only trust God! Inquire of Him, and wait for His response. If it seems as if He is taking a long time, it means that He has the situation under His control and in the fullness of His time, He will answer. Remember, things aren't always what they seem. Our emergency, is usually not God's urgency. He knows exactly how long to let things go for. He knows the situation we're in. Sometimes the most obvious thing to do is the very thing we shouldn't do at the time.
When we are walking in fellowship with God, (spending time in His presence, praying and reading) consistently, we are in tune with God. When we are in tune with Him, we are looking to see where He will lead, and where He will direct. The minute God answers, we will know what to do!
If we are living carnally, (worldly lifestyle), we won't hear from God. We won't have the direction and help we need from Him. The Scripture tells us that when there is sin in our lives, God won't answer us. Our prayers will not reach him at all!
I have seen what one wrong decision can do to a man or woman. The rolling ball affect is a disastrous spill out. One bad choice can lead to 10 bad consequences. There are consequences that run the course of a person's life. There are things that one cannot un-do. Everyone in close proximity of the bad decision maker can suffer as well, especially in a family.
In the Bible, Naomi's husband made a bad decision by taking his family to Moab. Their sons married Moabitish women, and they shouldn't have. Naomi's husband died there and her two sons. All three women became widows in Moab. Did hubby mean his family harm? No! Absolutely not! He took them there to avoid the famine that had hit their land. He figured that if he went there, they would have food and provisions and then he would go back to their land when things got better. They stayed there for years, in Moab. They settled in and didn't go back. Naomi eventually goes back, and because of God's mercy and grace, He blesses her and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. The other daughter-in-law didn't go with them. This was the result of one bad decision. They did the obvious thing which was to avoid the famine, but that was the wrong thing to do. Better they suffered through the famine staying right where God wanted them, than to go to Moab.
Let's make it a practice to Inquire of God for every little and big thing. Let us trust God because He has our best at heart!
Alexander, the coppersmith, did much evil to the Apostle Paul. Paul committed him and the situation to God. He didn't take revenge, neither did he run and tell others.
Barnabas and Paul had a fierce disagreement. It was so bad that they had to cease from traveling together, and go their separate ways. Sometimes, we have to agree to disagree. Some things get settled in time. They eventually came back together.
Hindrances are not all bad. The Apostle Paul was hindered from visiting one of the assemblies. He states that Satan hindered him. Instead, he wrote a letter to them to address what he would have if he had seen them. If God had allowed Paul to make that visit, we would not have the Epistle of Paul, The Apostle To The Thessalonians. God sometimes allows us to be hindered and kept from executing something or going somewhere. Paul's hinderance not only benefitted the saints at that time, but us as well, many years later.
Don't share your ideas and dreams with just anyone! Not everyone will respect it. Not everyone wants to see you succeed. Not everyone is in your corner. Your Dreams and Spiritual Aspirations are from God! Is something gnawing at you that you can't seem to get away from? God plants desires within us for a reason. Joseph had a dream and he shared it with his family members. He was only a teenager at the time. His dream came true 17 years or so later. His brothers had no respect for him or his dreams, but they later realized that Joseph's dream came true, and was to the saving of their lives!
Mary of Bethany sat at the feet of Jesus on three occasions. 1. For learning. 2. For comfort. 3. For worship.
Dorcas used her talents to minister to others in their time of need. In doing so, she helped to relieve the burdens of many.
Lois was a grandmother who capitalized on the teachable moments she had with her grandson, Timothy.
Ruth had a positive influence on her daughter-in-law, Naomi. Ruth's advice to Naomi was well received and followed. It led to a great blessing in the end for them both.
Mary Magdalene knew what she had been saved from! Her affection and attachment to the Lord was steady and strong.
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your heart and all your soul." Ecc. 9:10
There is so much that competes for our time and attention. Sometimes we are fooled into thinking that we need to attach ourselves to certain things or activities because on the surface, they appear to be necessary. The question we should always ask ourselves is this; will these things deter or hinder me from the goal I'm trying to reach?
It take conscientious effort to achieve anything in life! It takes vision, hard work, rising early each day, with determination. This requires discipline and knowing when to say, "NO" to a lot of other things that would divide your attention and get you off track.
When I think about the men and women who have managed to achieve great things, there is one thing they all had in common; they were focused individuals. They met every obstacle with courage, not wavering or giving up. There were lots of situations they encountered that threatened everything they were trying to do, but they endured as they remained focused.
There will be times when you will have to bypass what's seemingly, a 'good' opportunity, in order to succeed and accomplish your goal. Not every opportunity, or offer that comes your way is necessary to get involved in, unless it will enhance, enrich, or advance your vision. Some things are just a waste of time!
Know when to graciously bow out of an invitation. Keep your focus! Don't get side tracked or bamboozled into thinking that you will gain anything valuable from getting involved with stuff that cannot grow you, develop you or increase your chances for upward mobility. Always remember, distractions come in nice little packages!
Keeping your focus may also involve a cost! You may loose a few people along the way, be talked about, negatively, while gaining a few enemies. Keep your focus regardless! Anyone worth a seat in the front row of your life will earn it by being supportive during your journey! The rest, you don't need!
Focused individuals are meticulous, and careful. Whatever they are working on, or working towards, shows the amount of time and attention they gave it. They are not sloppy, neither careless, or mediocre. They have high standards for themselves. They are always looking for ways to improve, and they are constantly learning and growing in their purpose. They take on challenges and tackle things that are difficult. They surround themselves with people who know more than they do, who have also achieved their goals in spite of obstacles.
God expects that His children will produce nothing less than their best! He has given us all of the resources we need to be successful. There is absolutely no reason why we should fall beneath His expectations or leave this world without making the mark we were born to make.
Whatever you put your hands to do, work it as if God, Himself, will put His stamp of approval on it before it even gets a chance to be seen by others. Work for His approval and His approval only! Set aside, or toss anything that will slow you down, keeping you from accomplishing your goal. By any means necessary, KEEP YOUR FOCUS!
God keeps books that have information about His people recorded in them! He keeps 'A Book of Remembrance', 'A Book of Tears', 'The Book of Life', and other books that are mentioned as, "And The Books Were Opened" [Rev. 20:12].
The Book of Remembrance
God appreciates spiritual conversations! Every time He hears one, He records it! Just think about this; God is so happy when He hears others mentioning Him. He keeps it in remembrance by having it recorded. "Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name" [Malachi 3:16].
The Book of Tears
God beholds every tear you and I cry; especially the ones due to mistreatment and abuse! God knows and He cares about us. He keeps record of our tears. They do not go unnoticed. God knows everything about our situation, even the stuff we can't see or know about. He hears everything people are saying about us, behind our back. "You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book" [Psalm 56:8]?
The Book of Life
All who are saved have their names recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life! "And I saw the dead, small and great stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works" [Rev. 20:12].
If God records events and situations, shouldn't we do the same? In 1984 I started keeping a 'Spiritual' journal. I recorded my prayer requests and the date I made it as well as the date God answered. I recorded the opportunities the Lord gave me in which to serve Him. I also kept a list of all those I was praying for with their requests and the day God answered them. I continue to keep a spiritual journal to this day!
There are things we all remember throughout our lives, but there is so much we have forgotten. It is good to record our spiritual journey here, and that includes the good, the bad, and the ugly events God allows us to encounter.
The Benefits of Recording Your Spiritual Journey
It's been 33 years of recording my spiritual journey. I've gone through quite a few three subject notebooks. A couple of times a year, I randomly pick one, and read through it. I am amazed at how many answered prayers I had forgotten about. It's a good thing I wrote them down! When I looked at how the Lord answered my prayers and the span of time He took to do so, I got an interesting glimpse into how 'He handles me'. I saw a consistent pattern. That was something important for me to take note of!
Often, we become frustrated with God for taking so long to respond to our prayers. We feel ignored or perhaps put on the back burner. There were times I felt that God wasn't getting around to my situation. How wrong was I? I was able to understand a little of what God was doing with me all those days in between when He was silent. God was simply preparing me to receive the answer I so desperately wanted. He was making me spiritually and mentally ready.
One of the major benefits I received from keeping a 'Spiritual Journal', was to see how God was dealing with me. He handles each of us differently! He knows us intimately and He knows how much pressure is needed for us to become more like Christ. He also knows what type of 'Dross' needs to be removed from our lives. God uses all of our situations and circumstances to produce more and more godly character in us.
Keep A Spiritual Journal!
I am encouraged each time I open one of my journals and see how God had been incredibly faithful to me! There are some prayer requests that I recorded, in the 90's, that have recently been answered. Yes, sometimes we have to wait a while. It is confirmation and proof that God will answer prayer!
I encourage you to keep a record of your spiritual journey. You will literally be able to count your blessings by naming them one by one. It's a New Year! What better time to start than right now!
God tells us what type of people will cross our path. "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" [Matthew 5:44].
Love your enemies (those who are totally against you). This love does not involve emotions. *Do the highest good toward them*. It's impossible to have warm feelings towards a person who hates you.
Bless those who curse you (those who wish evil and bad on you). Wish them well; wanting only good for them.
Do Good to them who hate you (those who have contempt for you or despise you). As soon as an opportunity arises where you can do a good deed for them, do it.
Pray for those who despitefully use you (those who are abusive towards you emotionally, and or physically, those who accuse you falsely, threaten you, insult you, slander you, defame your character or mistreat you). Pray for those who keep doing this to you. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may have to separate yourself from them.
Love is also shown by what you don't do and how you don't respond to them. Love is shown by what you say, as well as what you don't say against them to others. When the opportunity presents itself, show an act of love as oppose to retaliation. You don't have to like them.
God knows the antidote and medicine that will work for each of these types of persons. It doesn't sound as if it makes any sense, but God has chosen an exact response that will work for them and for you. You may even have to exercise a few of these antidotes on one individual.
Tough times are inescapable! Tough times led to Moses' greatness!
Tough times will either develop you or destroy you!
All tough times are conquerable! Learn the key to survival!
Trials not only help us to grow, but they are God's way of making us look just like His son, Jesus, (provided we endure them).
Painful experiences are sent into our lives, by God, that we might share in His sufferings.
Persecution...all who live godly will suffer something!
Discouragement is satan's all time favorite way to put out our lights. Satan feels threatened by each Christian who is faithful to God. He is determined to find some way to stop you!
Your mission daily is to shine brightly and brilliantly for God in whatever circumstances He has you in.
Your experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly can become someone's pot of Gold! don't be reluctant to share what God has done for you!
God is watching you! What does He see? What does He hear?
Time cannot be saved, so use it wisely. Make the most of each day!
The two most powerful words are: "Thank You"! Think of persons to thank for something valuable and rewarding that they have added to your life. Call them up and thank them!
"From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation." -Numbers 3:3
There is a cap on our age when it comes to certain areas of service for the Lord. God's intentions were that the youthful years of our lives be used for Him! That vigor, energy, and sharp mind, is valuable to God and His kingdom!
In today's society, those same things are given to the world and its interests. The world will certainly find good use for it, but as a Christian, God expects you to give it to Him!
God requires our best! When we are active, lively, energetic, and alert, we stand a better chance of fulfilling our purpose. Individuals who get saved much later in life, loose out on the opportunity to serve in this way. It is imperative that all ages come to know Christ, but as far as service goes, and fulfilling your God-given purpose, they are limited.
In Numbers chapter 3:3, it is clear that the work that needed to be done required those who fell within the age mentioned. When they got beyond 50, there would be other areas of service for them to do. God never puts His people out to pasture! We humans do, but God doesn't! There were things that needed to be carried and assembled where the Tabernacle was concerned, that required strength, energy, and vigor. The older ones were no longer able to fill the position.
God is faithful and wise! He will always show His people areas that are a better fit for them as they age. He has work to fill everyone's hands. The important thing is to know when you ought to step aside from a particular ministry area. I have seen people hold on to ministry areas, daring anyone to even look like they were going to suggest that they step down. This is pride in all of its glory! They fail to see that they are doing a dis-service to the people of God and unable to be as effective as they once were.
When we faithfully walk with God, He shows us the ministry areas that are will within our ability. He knows what is suitable for the amount of energy, strength, and mental focus that remains. If you are moving further down on the scale of middle-age, be encouraged! There is plenty for you to do and shoes for you to fill! As long as you wake up each day, and are still breathing, God has work for you to do!
One of the things that I wish there were more servants available for, is 'Mentoring'! This is a great ministry work for those who are spiritual minded and older! The older bring wisdom and experience to the table and knowledge of the word. They can guide younger believers along in the faith and help to equip them with the necessary tools and skills needed to serve the Lord. I speak to females and males in this regard.
There are many who need phone ministry because they are home bound or sick, while others have limited time due to their jobs. I have been greatly encouraged and helped by a simple phone call from, a sister, when I was raising my children. The fact that someone thought about me that day, and called to listen and to pray with me, made all the difference in my week!
I know that we are all the way deep in the technological age, but I still get notes in the mail! They are supportive and highly encouraging! I appreciate every one I get! That is a ministry all in itself. I know a sister who has a card ministry and she is faithful. I have received 36 years of cards from her!
We don't ever have to fight to serve, for there is 'Room At The Top' for all of God's children! Just remember, you won't be able to do what you do now in the same way, forever! Be open to new ministry areas and new ways in which to serve God!
Nehemiah met with great opposition when trying to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem, but he stayed up on that wall even when his own people started to loose faith!
Ezra was focused and obedient to God during the Babylonian captivity. He prepared (past tense) his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach it. We cannot teach what we do not know!
Jonah wasted time and good energy running from the will of God. His choices and decisions impacted innocent people on that ship, and he suffered the consequences.
Ruth had a 'Naomi' who was far from perfect. She was an older woman wearing her grief on her shirt sleeve, but Ruth saw something beyond the disappointments of an old woman. Ruth clung to her and got her blessing. So, who are you mentoring?
Gray hair has a spiritual meaning, but not every silver haired head is a crown of glory. Being a Christian who is obedient makes the difference!
Rising early each day with a purpose not only helps you to accomplish more, but it will make you a better manager of your time and energy.
Being in optimum health will allow you to serve the Lord better. Start by taking one thing that needs to change in your diet, and eliminate it.
Your enemy is aiming to set you up daily! Surprise him!
Everyone will not like you. It's okay because they're not suppose to.
God knows what you are capable of, and so does satan!
He purposely tries to block and stop your progress most of the time.
You have a protective device against enemy forces!
Put it on daily! Wear the Whole Armor of God! The principalities, and powers, and rulers of darkness, are hoping that you won't!
Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might!
Never opt for mediocrity! Do your best, not for man, but for God, as if He's the one who will be the recipient, because He is!
Endure trials because they will make for a banging resume!
Endurance qualifies you as an experienced representative for God!
God is your witness!
Don't feel the need to answer to accusations against you that aren't true. The Lord didn't. He never answered the chief priests when they accused Him of doing things He never did!
You were created to be a 'Woman' or 'Man' for a reason!
God is counting on you to succeed! You must make God look good!!!
Don't let your failures and weaknesses hold you back!
Work on them, but don't let them hinder you from moving forward!
Many are the afflictions of the righteous!
God will deliver you! Cast not away your confidence!
As a writer, I enjoy giving you the honest side of truth! As an artist, I create what doesn't exist. Each day I look for new and creative ways to use every ability God has so graciously given me.