For as long as I can remember, I've heard "Christians" say that what the world is longing for can only be found in Christ Jesus. When I was younger, attending church regularly with my grandparents, I didn't know what that meant. When I became a teenager, I often wondered what that actually looked like. I am older now and I can personally testify to the truth of that statement that I heard so often. I now know what it feels, and looks like.
Over the course of my Christian journey, I've run into all types of believers. Some were very knowledgable in the Word of God, while others were always faithfully attending church meetings, and then there were those who just seem to be busily involved in various ministry areas.
I guess deep down inside, I was always searching for the Christian who was happy, and contented. I was interested in keeping company with those who knew God personally and who had something new and fresh to say about Him. I wanted to hear powerful testimonies of God's miraculous power and the ways in which He showed love to His people.
As the years went on, I heard less and less testimonies let alone powerful ones. There were fewer and fewer people sharing the Lord on a personal, intimate level with. All I seemed to encounter was the general shop talk and socializing. I began to wonder about this title "Christian".
I know from personal experience that when I am enjoying anyone, relationship wise, I look forward to being with and around them. I can't help but speak of them to others because of the affect they're having on me. The same can be said about our one on one relationship with the Lord God. That's where everything in our life springs from.
When we are in an open honest relationship with God, we can speak freely to Him about all of our secrets. We can unveil to Him the dark hidden places in our heart that no one knows about. We can trust Him with all of our thoughts, and feelings, knowing He will always do right by us. This is where our Happiness, Peace, and Contentment lies! It can only be found in a honest, trusted, relationship with the Lord God.
So why is it some of us who warm the church bench with sad faces? Faces of boredom, emptiness, and discontent is what I've been seeing for quite some time. There are those who snap at you, ignore you, barely part their lips to greet you, and those who roll their eyes at you, and those who avoid you altogether.
How can we carry the title or claim of "Christian" when we are behaving in ways that don't go hand in hand with the faith?
I've come to the conclusion that perhaps some of us have not been cultivating much a relationship with God at all. That's the bottom line. James4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." Jeremiah 29:11 states, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Do we believe that?
God knows all about you and what you need. Only He can make you Happy, at Peace, with Contentment despite what you may be going through, and despite what may be happening all around you. Don't warm a church bench in misery or take on the title "Christian" if you aren't living in the good of it. Get in close with the Lord and let Him meet you right where you are. Let Him show you how to be fulfilled on the inside.
HAVE A BLESSED THANKSGIVING!
In order to see what may be lurking behind the curtain, we have to pull it back and take a look. When we are dealing with people, it's not so easy to do. Behind all negative, and offensive behavior are things that lurk in the shadows. Some of those things have been there for a long time.
For the most part, people don't know why they do the things they do. They may have a lack of 'Self Awareness'. Most people spend their lives reacting to life as oppose to taking the time to stop and assess what's really going on and find the appropriate response.
We all have a past. Some of us have had some pretty difficult things to deal with as a result. Often, we are shaped by our experiences from childhood. I am not a psychologist or a professional counselor, but I have dealt with a lot of horrid situations in my life over the years, and I know from personal experience what negative things, over time, can do to a person.
When I gave my heart to Christ, I learned that He could be trusted. I started discussing all of my issues with God and He has helped me to sort out each one, It is a process, but I was willing to take a real good look at what was lurking behind my curtain.
Over the years, I've dealt with difficult people in the church and outside of the church. Had I not dealt with my own stuff, I would not have been able to identify what I was looking at with others. Anyone who poses a real difficulty for you is showing you a bit of what's behind their curtain. I'm not speaking about disagreements, misunderstandings, or minor infractions. I'm referring to more serious behavior patterns that are seen consistently over a good span of time.
What I have found to be their struggle:
These individuals can pose great difficulty to others. They often don't do well in interacting with others. They have trouble keeping healthy relationships. They can tell you what other people's problems are, but they never discern what theirs is. They are hiding behind the curtain!
If you are dealing with anyone who seems similar to what is listed above, start by praying for them, for real. Prayer is key to being able to navigate without animosity when thrust together with them. If you happen to be living with them, pray and fast for them and yourself. Their behavior can make you hostile, furious, lash out, and become bitter against them. It's only natural for one to experience those emotions. Prayer helps to soften our spirits and bring about a deeper understanding. Prayer and fasting will keep you from reacting to the negativity. Prayer and fasting also gives clarity and will help you to maintain your love for them.
Being a Christian does not exempt us from attacks, being hated, being lied on, being misunderstood, or hurt. It's part of our journey here. It won't last forever, but God can help us endure and learn to handle difficult persons. Difficult people is God's specialty.
Always remember this; The Lord was verbally abused, physically abused, cursed at, slapped, lied on, spat on, accused of things He did not do, hated, scorned, and rejected, then murdered. Who better to pour our hearts out to? Who better to talk over our situations with? Who better to hand over the difficult stuff in our lives to, so He can make it right and bring about the healing that is needed? Tell Him all about it....Perhaps your situation may need a third party to get involved. Counseling is a good thing. God has provided that source of help for us as well.
Keep trusting, keep believing, He sees, He knows, He has a remedy for your situation!
"A fool's wrath (anger) is known at once (right away), but a prudent (wise) man covers shame (lets the insult go)." Proverbs 1216
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
"Cast all of your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
Whether a person is rich or poor, middle class, or prominent, everyone wants peace and contentment in their lives.
I have watched people fill their heart and fill their lives with all sorts of things and still no peace, still no happiness or contentment. What a sad, sad, thing that is.
There is that momentary happiness that comes with winning the lotto, an increase in ones income, a new relationship, or a new job. But none of those things can provide what a soul cries out for.
You may be someone who has experienced a bad hand that was dealt to you and you've chosen to look for peace by drinking your sorrows away. Some people spend every dime they make buying stuff they feel would make them happy, but it doesn't work.
We can try to fill our souls with all kinds of things, and never have the peace we need because peace and contentment cannot be found in tangible things or in any person other than God!
If you are searching for peace and happiness, don't spend your life looking in the wrong places. If everything you've tried hasn't worked, why keep doing it? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the same results. Aren't you worth more than that?
Stop blaming others for your unhappiness. Stop drowning in your sorrows with drugs, or alcohol, or sex. Stop allowing depression to run your life. Stop hating on people who seemingly have what you're longing for. Why treat yourself as if you aren't deserving of the very thing you're longing for?
This very moment, this very second, you can be free from heartaches by placing your faith and trust in God. This very God of the bible, gave His very own son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins. He died to set you free from all the pain and unhappiness that you have encountered in this life. He has promised in His word, the bible, to give you peace, joy, and contentment. His promises are true. He can right the wrongs that you have suffered in this life.
I'm not talking 'Religion'! Lots of people go to church, and gravitate towards 'doing stuff in the church' or giving their money, and still no peace in their lives. They think it will come by doing stuff, giving their time, or of their resources. This is nothing but 'Religion'. It doesn't involved the heart or a relationship with God. A relationship with God brings about 'CHANGE' in your life and 'CHANGE' in your circumstances!
Are you willing to continue another day doing the same old thing over and over again that never seems to bring better results? How many more mornings are you going to wake up feeling depressed, and stressed? It's your call. I trust that you will make a different choice today....
There are so many false teachers out there preaching their own doctrine. Each have a tremendous following. The only way to know if you are hearing 'Truth' or not, is to know enough of the word of God for yourself.
Everything I hear, I look to see where it lines up with the word of God. There's a lot of messages being preached that cater to the emotions. Some preaching sounds so good, you'd automatically think it was authentic in its truth, but it's an imposter.
How well do you know your bible? What is it that you want to hear preached? Today, you hardly hear preachers on Television talk about 'Sin', and that's a serious problem right there. They talk about everything else except for the lifestyle a true believer is to have. You hear those 'Feel Good' messages, the ones that go down easy without a challenge to rise to a higher level of accountability.
Don't neglect reading and studying your bible. This is imperative! There's so many voices out there speaking all sorts of things. Question any preaching from individuals who have aligned themselves comfortably with unbelievers. The word of God clearly states that since the world hated Christ, they will automatically hate His followers. How could a believer be accepted in the company of unregenerate men and partner with them in their endeavors?
Don't be deceived! Always check what you hear against the written word of God! Don't be fooled!
The Bible has quite a bit to say about relationships; marital, friends, and family are the most obvious ones that seem to come to mind. But there is another category under the umbrella of 'Relationships' that often go unnoticed and unattended. I am speaking about 'Connections'. We generally only see connecting with someone when it benefits us. We really don't know what we truly need from others. We think we know, but we don't.
Have you ever wondered about all the people who came across your path in your lifetime that never ended up being a part of your social circle throughout the years? The individuals who you forgot all about because they apparently didn't have a place at the table, so you thought.
God is wise, and God is smart! God is a people person who is in the business of connecting humans in a most needed way. The flip side to that is that we, as humans, use our own formula for deciding on who is vital to connect with and who is not.
I had to think about all of the people who came across my path and where are they now. I can remember the ones who weren't around me for very long and wondered what the purpose was for our meeting up in the first place. Life has a way of teaching you valuable lessons. This is what I have learned.
There are people we are suppose to meet and connect with even if only for a short while. These people bring something valuable to the table of our lives in ways we don't realize at the time. Sometimes we don't look beyond what we want from the relationship or don't want. We're focused on the personal aspect of it all. We hardly ever ask why God has put this individual in front of us.
Some persons are to be with us throughout the journey while others are there to bring an extraordinary value to our lives. They enhance, they help us to sparkle, and grow. They may not be there to make us feel good, or stroke our ego, or to make us comfortable. God has them there to challenge us in areas of our lives with the intent to make us better and brighter.
Who were the persons you chose to discard from your life, and I'm not talking about the ones who were toxic, they needed that dispossess notice you gave them. I am speaking about the people you may have closed the door on for other reasons. Maybe they were of a different background, educational level, or ethnicity. Perhaps they were too mature, and seemingly, too serious.
It is so important to make connections with people in general. You'll never know the benefit you're to receive from them. The opportunity for what God had for you through connecting with them won't come along again. Sometimes it's a one time deal.
Pay close attention to everyone who comes across your path, especially the ones you didn't choose for your circle of associates. Ask God why they are there and to help you to see what they bring to the table. Ask God to show you the reason they are there so that you won't miss out on having your life enhanced, or miss out on an important life lesson.
The people we ignore, and overlook, have learned something vital about us as well. They walked away with knowledge and understanding, of our level of depth, and a sense of what our priorities are in life. They would actually never try to approach us again. Now, whose loss will that be? The loss is both theirs, and ours.
Let's keep an open mind concerning people and the seat they are to have at the table. Never underestimate their value and worth. Don't short change yourself, or rob yourself of the blessings, benefit, and opportunity God wants you to have!
There is such beauty and attractiveness when a believer exudes peace and calm as a character trait. That's not to say that they have an easy going life; quite the contrary! It simply means that they have found the more excellent way to navigate through life's hurdles, curve balls, and struggles.
We have a perfect example in Mary of Bethany. She made it her priority to sit in the presence of her Lord. That was her desire above all else. When she was desirous to learn from Jesus, she sat at His feet. When Lazarus, her brother, died, she was found at the feet of Jesus addressing the sorrow and loss she felt. When there was a time for Worship, she was found, yet again, at the feet of her Lord washing His feet with her hair. So we see three crucial times when Mary was found in the right position, in the right place, in communion with the Lord God.
So where does one find strength? It is found in an intimate relationship with God. In doing so, there is peace and a quiet confidence that washes over you. The trials, the disappointments, the afflictions, and the sudden storm can create turbulence in our spirit, but despite that, its effect will be replaced with peace and calm. When God gives peace, who can come along and disturb you?
Take your burdens to God and let Him know with all honesty how you feel about what you are experiencing and then drop that burden off right there in His presence. Get up and keep it moving. God will keep you in perfect peace when you keep your mind focused on Him!
Quiet Confidence Vs. Unrest. Unrest yields insecurities that spill out all over the place. Have you ever been around a person who didn't exhibit quiet confidence? They are usually found constantly irritated, annoyed, frustrated, and striking out at others. They can be found minding other people's spiritual business, gossiping, tattling, and whispering about people. This is because they are disturbed spiritually and are not working out their issues with God. They have failed to find that place of rest as Mary did.
Your ability to be strong is dependent upon this quiet confidence. The strength you need is crucial to your submitting to God's will, while waiting on Him to take care of whatever you need taken care of.
Life can be challenging and hard at times, and that is a fact, but knowing how to navigate through it all is everything.
I wish I could tell you that life has been smooth sailing, but I can't. What I have learned and still am learning is that there will always be hurdles, and challenges to get over. There will be unexpected events and times when you want to run the other way. You and I will experience problems that we just don't want to deal with. It's that real.
I am learning how to swing at every curve ball that comes my way. This is something that can only be taught by God Himself. The challenges we're facing today don't have to be faced alone. God knows the way, and He knows every curve in the ball. There is no one greater or better to help us in our time of need.
So the next time you're up to bat and something unexpected comes, let God show you how to swing that bat! He has this magnificent thing called, "Grace". Grace gives you and me the ability to tolerate, put up with, and deal with unpleasant situations. It helps us to face our worse nightmare and not loose our minds. God's grace stabilizes us and gives us peace in the midst of the storm.
I don't know what you are going through right now, but you are not alone. I too, am facing some hard things, and I am holding on to the one who knows exactly what to do about it all. He has come to see about me and He will do the same for you. Keep trusting, keep believing, keep praying and keep reading God's word!
People are being destroyed all over the world, daily; atrocities of all sorts that are mainly due to race, continues to threaten lives. What a shame, what a mess we're in.
Since the color of my skin bars me from being entitled to justice, fairness, consideration, respect, opportunities, and the proper application of the law, what's left? It seems to me that from the beginning of time, we have been targeted with one sole purpose in mind, and that is to annihilate the
I find it mind boggling, that what God saw was good, has now become an endangered specie. For the most part, one single race has determined that we have no right to not only belong, but to be alive. Things on this earth will never get better, let's just understand that. The bible clearly states it.
I have lived long enough to see what's important to see, and I've also experienced some horrific stuff. If I ask Christians the question, "Where can man be safe"? I'd get the text book response like, "Only in Jesus"! I agree whole heartedly, but that should not be the only place!
This morning I read the account of Saul when he was consenting to the death of Stephen. When Saul had that Damascus road experience, he became a changed man, for real. It took a minute for Christians to be able to trust that there was a true conversion, but the Holy Spirit of God helped them to cast away their fear of Saul. It was like night and day. Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, was changed from the inside out. That's what true conversion means and looks like.
So...the world is killing us off at an alarming, rapid rate, either that, or locking us up. In different parts of the world, some are being persecuted and separated from loved ones because of their faith. Others of us are being killed during church service.
In the meantime, while these things are happening, our local churches, or assemblies, have become less and less of a safe space. I don't know about you, but the world is a very dangerous place and within the church walls, some of us have taken on the attitude of the unregenerate man. We handle the Lord's Holy things, and one another, with lips that say one thing, while our actions speak to another. There is prejudice, injustice, maligning, lying one to another, verbal assaults, sowing discord, and hatred among some. Does that sound like a safe space to you?
If a safe space cannot be found within the church walls, with those who say they are the Lord's, where can it be found? People will only stay where they are wanted and treated with the utmost respect. How do you define, 'Conversion' and What are you doing to help create a safe space for others?
I support small home groups where bible study takes place, and heart felt and honest exchange can be had. You can really get to know people in that type of setting as well as be ministered to where you need it the most. Perhaps we need to get back to the basics in Christianity. The world has us running a rat race that has resulted in our lack of true fellowship, and love and care of one another; and these things aught not to be so!
My great aunt shared a profound thought with me seven years ago, right before she passed away. I have always had great appreciation for the elderly. Over the years, I have learned the most from them. "Patricia, always look to see what's behind the counter", she said. Aunt Willie went on to explain that what we see in the showcase window looks so beautiful. The glass case displays the item under the bright light, with other items around it, with the velvet cloth that it sits on, etc. She went on to say that when you examine a thing up close, it doesn't look the same as it did in the showcase window.
That was my last life lesson from my aunt that hot blistering day in Atlanta Georgia. Although we have had other deep conversations, I will always remember that one.
How often do we look behind the counter? Do we examine people, situations, or things for purchase with a close eye or can we even identify what we are really looking at? Is what we're looking at authentic, genuine, made with integrity, and exquisite?
Failure to look behind the counter will cost us every time! When we fail to pay close attention to what a person is saying, or what they didn't say that they should have said, we're putting ourselves at risk for either a broken relationship, or a loss along the way. Ask yourself, "Did you see what you saw?"
With the busyness of things around us in this sick and fast paced world, we sometimes don't take the time to look deeper into what people are actually saying to us. They speak with reactions, responses, the lack thereof, negative language, facial expressions, and a host of other types of communication. Some of us will run something said to us by a trusted friend, expecting them to decipher the code of another's words to us when we know deep down inside, in the back, in the corner, in the dark, in the booth, they meant us no good.
After looking behind the counter, are you prepared to turn that item upside down, all around before you invest in it, or do you just pay for it and run out the store? Did you examine it closely to see if it was really what you wanted?
I have learned to ask the questions that need to be asked, and there were even times I took the item back to the store the next day or that same day asking for a refund.
Let's take the necessary time to evaluate everything in our lives before we make a commitment. Before you call someone your best friend, give it time to be tested. If the other person runs away, let them! Never be so desperate, that you settle for something that will eventually hurt you, disappoint you, or cause you loss and grief in the end!
Genesis 37:24 "And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it."
Genesis 37:27 "Come let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, "
Have you ever been the recipient of hatred, ostracizing, or plotted against? Rejoice, for here lies your greatness!
In the story of Joseph, his brethren did the very same thing. He was hated by them and they wanted to get rid of him. Imagine that, his own brethren. I'm here to tell you that we can do our own brethren the same injustice. As a matter of fact, some of us have done just that.
Often, the reasons for such treatment is due to ones resentment of God. Yes, any individual who behaves this way and treats his brothers or sisters in this way is actually saying to God that they resent the fact that He has either withheld something from them, is unfair towards them, and they are so angry about it that they will now take matters into their own hands and exact punishment on someone else who seems to have what they feel they deserve. This act comes in the form of many things like:
1. Speaking evil against you to others (sowing discord among the Lord's people)
2. Hindering you from participating in events
3. Excluding you
4. Lying on you
5. Hateful acts against you
6. Ostracizing you
The list, unfortunately, goes on.
The very thing Joseph's brethren were jealous about and didn’t want to happen, happened anyway. No one can stop God’s will or plan for your purpose in life when you are obedient and found in the right spiritual condition.
People will try to hinder, and it looks as if their tactics are working because you are being hindered for real, but they have no idea that the Lord is allowing the hindrance to fulfill His will and purpose for you. We may get bent out of shape and feel they are gaining their way against us (being used of satan), but God factored in all of those things from the day He set out to use you for His glory.
Joseph’s brothers played right into the hands of God! Joseph got what was for him! The problems his brethren caused only strengthened him and made him mightier in the hands of God. So who gets the last laugh???
In this account, God humbles his brethren greatly. God factors in the past evil done against Joseph. Now they answer to what they did to him. Now they are under duress. They now have become fearful. Now the evil they pushed to the back of their minds have now been placed to the forefront and they are brought into remembrance of what they did against their brother.
Joseph is exalted….his brethren are humbled.
Never retaliate for the evil done against you. God is allowing it for His purposes and your good. Blessing comes at the end of suffering and enduring injustice.
God gives good pay back and revenge is sweet when it’s left to Him to exercise it.
All of their evil against Joseph propelled him into greatness!
“You meant it for evil, but God planned it for good!
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.