"For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption."
WHAT WILL YOUR EPITAPH SAY?
Epitaph: a phrase or statement written in memory of a person who has died, especially as an inscription on a tombstone.
I attend lots of funerals and each year, the numbers are increasing. The Word of God encourages us to attend funerals because funerals make you think about things that you ordinarily wouldn't think about. At a funeral, you listen carefully to what is being said about the deceased. You tend to internalize what happened to them and the words that are being preached (should there be a gospel message shared.).
Although I am a Christian, I take in deeply, the things I hear as I sit through funeral after funeral. I too, am challenged about many things.
While setting my own house in order, a few years ago, the man who assisted me at the Cemetery, thought it strange that I would want to deal with those matters at my age. I told him that I was not a last minute person and I wouldn't leave that burden on my children. I told him that I was a 'Planner' and that it was a necessary evil, so to speak.
As I passed tombstone after tombstone, I saw all types of sayings and comments left by loved ones on behalf of the deceased. Some were comical and interestingly funny, while others were more serious in nature, warning the living who would pass by. I took it to heart. I even saw the graves of my relatives nearby and I mourned the loss over the years, especially, my grandparents because although they were flawed, like us all, they did one thing right, and that was; leading me to Christ!
That day at the Cemetery, I thought about what my own tombstone would say...and then I thought again...."Patricia, it will speak about whatever lasting impression you left behind with all who knew you." And then, I seriously began to wonder myself.
I know what I want my 'Epitaph' to say about me, but have I been living up to it? What would you want yours to say about you? Are you living up to those words you want etched in stone?
It's something for us to think about. I know that the words etched in stone with my name on it has to be words that count for all eternity. It has to reflect a life that was invested in Christ and His people and others. In one sentence it has to wrap up the total essence of my life lived here on earth.
Remember, we are all writing the essence of our 'Epitaph' daily! We are leaving a lasting impression on all who know us! We are living it out before them in the total truth of who we are, not the truth of who we want to appear to be!
May we attend many funerals, and we will, for those who are middle-aged. May we hear and take it to heart.
SERVE YOUR GENERATION WELL!
EXCELLENCE FOR GOD!
"Full of good works and alms deeds."
We live in a society where putting our abilities and talents on display can earn us great things in return, provided we are deemed good enough. This is not a good thing. For how can I, how could I, take what God has so graciously given me and let anyone 'Rate' or 'Judge' its value??? This is a sin!
We have been created by the 'Master Creator' Himself and He has given each of His children a portion of Himself, stamped in us from birth. Our natural abilities have been given to us by God. We are to develop them and bring them to the highest level of functioning that we can. Then, we are to offer them back to God in humble service for His use and for His glory.
Dorcas was spiritual minded where her talents and abilities were concerned. Now, she may have been a little more well off than other women in her region, but she definitely was not selfish or conceited. She was a woman who was observant and discerning.
She was a woman who gave her very best. She didn't just throw things together. Every ounce of love and care went into what she gave and did for others.
Dorcas knew what the needs were in her community. She had a tool that she committed to God. Her 'Needle' brought comfort, help and blessing to many widows.
When it was heard that Dorcas had died, the grief was overwhelming, especially for those who benefitted from her ministry. I could only imagine. Who's benefitting from your ministry, talent or ability?
God, who sits high and looks low had a plan all of His own for Dorcas and the people who knew her. God used Peter to raise her from the dead. Can you imagine? One would ask, "Why did God allow her to die in the first place if He knew He would raise her from the dead"? Who is in the position to ask God anything? He is sovereign! He does as He pleases with people.
God was definitely looking for more, for Dorcas and the people. He has an unorthodox way of doing things that simply do not make sense, to us, anyway.
Dorcas used her talent and ability to help others and now God was looking to increase and broaden her territory through her death and resurrection. When the widow's grief was turned to tears of joy, what a time of worship that was! This act of raising Dorcas from the dead spread all over and her testimony ended up becoming phenomenal, especially to those who did not know her. For those who knew her, they were spiritually impacted beyond the ministry they had known her for.
Dorcas' ministry would now take on a life of its own, differently than before. More powerful and impactful than before!
Sadly, among some of us, as believers, we pride ourselves on our individual 'Service' to God, yet we are mediocre in doing so. Some brothers who 'Bring the Word', don't give much time to study and meditation of the word like in times past and they expect people to walk away fed and full and rejoicing. While others of us, haphazardly, handle the talent we've been given. We run and skim over the Sunday school lessons the morning of, without prayer, and study during the week. We throw our songs together just to get through them or we do the bare minimum in preparing what we are responsible for.
Let us think on Dorcas and what it took for her to do what she did and see what we can learn from her. God deserves our very best! We all have been given different levels of ability; work yours to the highest potential that you can! Be an effective, powerful, servant who has mastered his or her craft!!! God deserves more than we give Him!
1 Kings 7:13, 14 ; 2 Chronicles 2:14
"And now I have sent a skillful man, endowed with understanding, Huram my master craftsman, the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, purple and blue, fine linen and crimson, and to make an engraving and to accomplish any plan which may be given to him, with your skillful men and with the skillful men of my lord David your father."
Whenever we read about anyone in Scripture and see the mother mentioned by name or just as mother, there is definitely something vital and powerful for us to take a look at!
Hiram or Huram's mother ended up becoming a single parent due to widowhood. She raised a child that was talented and skillful. Despite her loss, she kept the household going. His father was also a skilled man. He learned from his father. Huram honed in on his skills and perfected them and as a result, he got the opportunity to work for Solomon in the building of the temple. Solomon requested him for the work of metal and other furnishings for his magnificent Temple.
No doubt, Huram's mother directed his talents and guided them in the direction of what was beautiful and lasting.
Mothers have the greatest influence and impact on the lives of their children. The fathers do too, but in a different way.
If a mother harbors resentment and hatred for people, her children will also hate those same individuals. I have personally seen this. It is one of the many evils I have witnessed under the sun.
Whatever state, spiritually and mentally and emotionally a mother is in, her offspring will be greatly affected in tremendous ways for the good or for the bad.
Children hardly ever do what you say, they do what you do!!!! Before a child learns to speak, they are observing their parents and watching their responses and actions carefully. They are quietly learning how to interact with others based on how their mother does.
Before a child is born, the emotional circumstances of the mother plays an important role in the spirit of the unborn child. It is very deep and profound how God has created the female body in light of baring children.
Mothers have to be emotionally stable, and at peace within themselves. They need to be mature and settled in order to produce stable, happy, and healthy children.
So....what sort of mother are you? What kind of influence are you having on your offspring or will have on them? What power source are you looking to, as a mother, to help guide you through motherhood? What type of child or children will you be unleashing upon society?
here is nothing more beautiful and commendable than a mom who pays close attention to her child's emotional makeup. A mom who pays attention will come to see the talent and ability her child possesses. She will then look for ways to hone in on those skills and help to develop her child for God's honor and glory. Mothers should always be looking to guide her children's talents in the direction of what will make a contribution to the kingdom of heaven.
This world if filled with talented, skilled persons, but to what end??
May we as mothers and grandmothers pay closer attention to our children and look to God to see how we can influence and guide them. Let us nurture and build lives for the Kingdom of God.
1 Cor. 10:32
"Do not cause anyone to stumble."
STUMBLE: To almost fall due to lost of balance or tripping.
We can become a stumbling block to others in ways we do not even realize. Sometimes it's something we were constantly heard saying, or seen doing. It could be something we failed to uphold yet we expected others to. At other times it was the way we treated people and the things we said to others about them.
A stumble could lead to a fall. One's spiritual progress could be hindered. We all know that no one's perfect, but that cannot be the excuse for the lack of personal responsibility when it comes to others.
I have seen what happens to a brother or sister in Christ who were stumbled. Some have been discouraged and turned off and won't set their feet back into any 'Church', while others have come to hate Christians and Christianity. I have stated in one of my posts, a couple of weeks ago, that I won't criticize such persons because I clearly understand where they are coming from.
Unfortunately, and sadly, our journey here on earth, will not keep us from stumbling blocks or offenses. Scripture admonishes us to avoid at all costs, being a stumbling block to others.
Stumbling others is a very serious thing, yet, one cannot, for the rest of their lives allow it to stagnate their spiritual growth or keep them from coming to know the Lord. But, it can be a real tough thing to get over, depending on the severity and degree of the thing that was done.
When King David sin egregiously, (adultery, murder, etc.), many were stumbled by him until the day he died. That's how intense it can be.
Leaders must be above reproach! They must examine themselves constantly and so must the rest of us. We don't get a pass just because we are not in some leadership role. The congregants must sit in judgement of themselves and make efforts to not mis-represent what they say they believe (hypocrisy) by engaging in ungodly behavior. We set the examples for the younger ones. The younger ones, coming along, will do as we do! It doesn't matter what we preach or what we say. Bad or ungodly behavior breeds much of the same within our churches.
If we should fail and cause someone an offense, or potentially cause them to stumble, we should go and address it before it does any damage. I have more respect for the Christian who admits they were wrong and apologizes (which allows us to be gained one to the other), than the one who acts as though nothing happen; because that individual would lose me FOREVER! There are some of us who think that we are above correction! They are the worst!!! PRIDE IS A KILLER!
It doesn't matter what your area of service or gifting is, if you go around stumbling people, you are ineffective!! You will have no influence and your words will fall to the ground. You will be despised.
Let's make every effort to care about others and watch our words and actions, examining each one carefully, before we let them out of the gate. Ask yourself, "If I say this or do that or be seen with this person, what signal could I be sending and could this stumble someone?"
2 Cor. 1:4
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
I don't know about you, but when I think back on 37 years of my Christian walk with God, what stands out the most are the individuals who were 'Real'. When I say 'Real', they were imperfectly holy, if there is such a thing.
The things that have impacted me the most have been all the testimonies shared with me from believers who had fallen in love with the Lord. They faced tough challenges and many times they had no answers for the situations they found themselves in, yet, they simply remained faithful to God. It was as simple as that for them.
As they shared their many accounts of God's faithfulness to them, in spite of themselves, I was encouraged because through them, God was letting me know that despite my weaknesses and failures, He was going to hang in there with me and bless me regardless.
The Lord constantly reminds me of the testimonies of others and brings them to mind just when I need them the most.
Not everyone who has come across my path has impacted me in that way. But it has been the ones who were authentic and real in their faith!
I have never benefitted from the 'One liners' or the 'Praise The Lord' greetings. Never! The individuals who have just been their true selves as they shared their triumphs and their struggles and the powerful manifestations of the Lord in their lives, have given me strength for my journey and I will never forget what they have told me. I am still living off of their words today!
There is something so attractive and beautiful about being your authentic self. After all, humans are pretty much transparent after a while, so you might as well be you and do you. Nothing is worse than finding out that a person isn't who they made you to believe they were.
It is this same authenticity that leads others to Christ. People are looking for honesty and truth and the real deal. The world has already lied to them and now they are looking for what's true.
Your struggles, and my struggles, your triumphs, and my triumphs, were meant to be shared in order to help someone else gain a few steps closer to God. Let's not fail on purpose (by doing something we know is wrong) or fail because we've been careless or carnal, but let us use all we've been given and all we've experienced to help strengthen the body of Christ!
I don't know if you noticed, but the local church is shrinking dramatically and the power from the word has lost its punch; God hasn't changed, but the vessels have. We need to live Christ and share Christ while we still have the chance!
2 Samuel 13: 1-4
Dysfunctional Families Are Toxic!!!
The problems in David's household started when He sinned with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed in battle. If he only knew what all of that would have led to, he would have thought twice and reigned his lustful passion in.
David had eight wives! This was against God's law and way for His people. There are always consequences for every act of disobedience! David's household was dysfunctional and toxic. He, personally, based on repentance, and his relationship with God, was called a man after God's own heart because he knew how to repent, but the consequences of his sins left his family in tremendous trouble.
David had a daughter named, Tamar. She was young and pretty and she was a virgin. One of David's sons was sick in lust for his half sister, Tamar, and with the help of his despicable cousin, Jonadab, a scheme was set in place on how to get Tamar to Amnon's house so he could sleep with her. The end result was that she, Tamar, begged her half brother, Amnon, to let her go and not force himself on her because it was wrong and she also told him that he would end up looking like a fool before their people. She also stated that he would ruin her chances for marriage and then where would she go? He didn't care. He raped her and then he kicked her out. With all of that sexual lust and love he had, with the same intensity he hated her after he satisfied his flesh.
She was now ruined. Her brother, Absalom questioned her and she told him what happened. He took her into his house to live and told her not to say anything about it. David found out and all he did was get angry. He never did anything about it. Look at the failure in that family. Look at the level of dysfunction within their walls. Look at the position Tamar was in - in that no family member fought for her or protected her. She suffered for the rest of her life.
Well...we know how the story ended; two years go by, Absalom sets up a plot and kills his half brother Amnon for the rape of his sister, Tamar. After that, more things happen in that family that continued the toxic fall out.
We don't get to choose the families we were born into, unfortunately, we are helpless and subject to whatever our parents do and not do. If our parents are sinful and corrupt, we share in the consequences of their lifestyle. Even some so called, 'Christian' families are filled with repeating the dysfunctional cycle.
Let's face it, David was a terrible father. He failed to rebuke his adult children for their sins and he loved them to a fault. He did nothing to comfort his daughter, Tamar.
The innocent always suffer in dysfunctional, toxic families but God holds a soothing balm for the innocent ones. I speak from personal experience. I share my testimony in my book, 'Called To Suffer' (amazon).
I can testify to the healing process of God and His compassion and mercy on me despite the family I was born into. I am forever grateful to the Lord for showing me how to 'STOP THE CYCLE' by making sure it didn't visit the next generation (my children). Sometimes you have to separate yourself from your own family for your sanity and health's sake. It may not be an easy thing to do, but a necessary thing to do. God makes sure that any who are forced to make that choice, find family elsewhere.
If you can relate to this post, know that God loves and cares about you more than you know. Go to Him and ask Him to show you what to do. He will send others to help you and God, Himself, will give you a good future (Jeremiah 29:11).