We all have one. We all have a story to tell that glorifies God as it speaks to His power and incredible grace manifested in our life!
I barely hear testimonies these days from believers. Why is that? We socialize, we gather on occasion, and we talk shop talk, and that's okay, but where are the testimonies of the Lord? The stories that testify of His power and might in our day to day lives and the answered prayers. The record of what He's done for us lately seems to be lagging far behind and relegated to the accounts we repeat from twenty years ago.
We are living in dangerous and difficult times that are filled with challenges and hard situations. Christians everywhere are being tested in ways like never before. I have the blessed privilege to read about the suffering and the blessings of Christians in faraway lands, and how they are remaining hopeful and trusting God in the midst of their loss. Some are incarcerated for being Christians while others have been killed for their faith, leaving behind their families and loved ones. Yet, the ones who remain are trusting in God regardless. It really makes me wonder about my own commitment to God.
We have been given a testimony the moment we accepted Christ as our personal Saviour. Our life up until that point is part of our testimony that we should never be ashamed of. People need to hear how the Lord God has delivered us and changed our life for the better.
Each of our testimonies are different and cannot be compared. Each of us are unique and God's purpose in saving us packs a punch that can impact the lives of those who hear it.
A believer's testimony is like Gold! It is valuable, needed and is powerful! Don't sit on it! Don't shrink from it! Don't be ashamed of your past! You have a story to tell so go and tell it every opportunity you get. Tell others how God has been good to you; let them know that God can do the same for them!
From our youth we have nurtured many things that have attached themselves to us sticking like glue. Some of the things we've nurtured were needed and necessary like for instance, bathing daily, eating and talking. Those are necessary habits that we are most comfortable doing and have established for many years.
Along the way we have also picked up bad habits. Those are the things that we participated in that bring no positive value to our lives; for instance, lying, gossiping, laziness and making excuses.
The longer we participate in either habit, the more difficult it will be to get rid of them. It has been said that "Good habits are hard to break and bad habits are hard to break." It is so true!
As Christians, we are exhorted in God's Word by instruction to be good, do good, and to obey the Lord God. The Word of God tells us what to put on (behavior wise) and what to put off (Ephesians 4:22-24). This verse speaks about stopping behavior that we had before we came to Christ and to put on the things that are associated with the new man, the regenerated man, the saved man with the Spirit of God who now indwells him. We need to employ the Lord's help in any area of our lives that lean towards bad habits. God expects us o make the effort to change all that we need to change in our life.
Bad habits are besetting sins. They are strongholds in our lives. They keep us from growing and making spiritual progress. They also hold us back naturally. These bad habits can impact work relationships, job performance and keep opportunities from coming our way.
A damaging bad habit is the habit of lying. When we're kids, we lie to keep from getting into trouble. When we're older and still are lying, we're now in the habit forming phase. When we are full grown adults and choose to lie, we have nurtured a bad habit and now it is ingrained within us to keep on lying. If a believer finds himself or herself in this predicament, they will be hard pressed to quit the habit.
Proverbs 28:13 tells us to confess and forsake our sin. "Whoever conceals their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them they will receive mercy." It's not enough to confess our sin, there must be a desire to stop doing them. If we don't forsake them, they will swallow us up and disqualify us from serving the Lord with a good and effective testimony. Others will see what our problem is and we will bear the shame that goes along with it.
Let us go before God with all sincerity to break any bad habits we have and lean hard on God for His power to help us to break them!
Criticism: Judge a person unfavorably, fault finding.
1 Thessalonians 5: 11 says, "Therefore encourage one another and build up one another."
Hebrews 10:24 says, "Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds."
A critical spirit can be very damaging to others. A critical spirited person looks to find fault and never seems to show true support with encouragement. This is a malady among believers.
Godly criticism can come into play when there are legitimate signs and or acts of sinful behavior being displayed or ungodly words being used. There is a time and a place for it.
I have personally experienced critical spirited persons and over time it wore on me to the point where I learned to keep my distance. No matter how I tried on occasion to give the benefit of doubt, it would never fail, more criticism came. I couldn't help but think that the individual was masking an underlying problem.
Critical people tend to give unwanted, unsolicited advice. They seem to be blindly insensitive to others, unless you are a family member or person in their camp whom they approve of. Sometimes a lack of affirmation in a person's childhood causes them to later become a person who is critical of others.
The damage critical people do is far reaching. They eventually alienate others because they turn them off. Critical people have a lot of pride. How dare you walk into a room and don't speak to them first? "Did you not see me?", they exclaim.
I am mindful of what the scripture teaches on the subject of encouragement. Encouragement goes a long way. It can make a powerful difference in a person's life. We all need encouragement. Let us make an effort to encourage others be it little progress that a person is making or a big accomplishment. Let us encourage others when we see spiritual strides amidst great difficulties and challenges. Let us acknowledge those who are using the talent and skill God has given them.
"When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me."
Many have grown up with not only the absence of a father in the home, but no connection whatsoever to who their father is or was, while others had a dad at home, yet there wasn't an intimate relationship between he and them. There is dysfunction in each of these cases. There is an exception by way of the loss of a dad due to death. Many children have grieved the loss of their dad's untimely passing and it has thrown them into lots of troubles due to the anguish and pain they couldn't live with. This indeed is catastrophic to say the least.
There was a point in time where it was thought that if a male child had a good loving mother, he should be able to weather the storms of life and be a well-adjusted member of society. A boy can have the best mother on planet earth, but she can't teach him how to be a man. God has so designed the family structure in such a way where the male (father) plays a different, and much needed role than that of the woman. Having a good mother is not a substitute for that. Many men have had good mothers and they still ended up in prison, on drugs and repeating the cycle of dysfunction.
The definition of dysfunction is something that is unhealthy and abnormal in behavior and interaction. In the above verse David states for a fact that if his parents did forsake him (fail in their parental responsibility and duties), he knew that God would be there to pick up the slack psychologically, emotionally and mentally. He was sure of it.
Much of our world is reeling from dysfunction of some kind. The men are to be the leaders and the protectors of the family and when that fails, the family unit comes crashing down. We see the ill effects of this every day in society. Many incarcerated men didn't have healthy relationships with their father, for those who knew their father. Some had no male presence in the home and if there was someone, they may have been their abusers. There's no wonder that such a large population of men have taken up years of residency in the prison system.
What about the men who are not in jail, or strung out on drugs? How have they managed to survive it all? In my observations I've noticed that some men who bore a father wound promised themselves that if they had children they would do differently, and many have raised their children well. How was this possible? They disciplined themselves out of love to choose healthy ways of handling their children and not only their children, their spouses as well. This is commendable.
There is a population of men, that I noticed, who continued to struggle with childhood deficits all throughout their lives, their marriage and subsequently, in the raising of children. For those who had neither wife nor child, they continued to make decisions that were based out of a dysfunctional upbringing. They abused women who they dated, verbally and or physically, they lived double lives pretending to be someone else and they didn't have good interpersonal relationships.
What about the Christian male? Is he any different? Should he be different? From the time one accepts the Lord as their personal Savior, God affords them the right to joy and happiness with all the success to follow. Obedience to God's laws ensures each believer that they have the power to overcome every obstacle that comes their way. God promises us in His Word that He can and will make the difference in our lives. He is the restorer of years. I know this from personal experience. Life for me has been no crystal stair, believe me, but with God's help, grace and mercy, I've overcome! The Christian man, father, and husband has the opportunity to heal from his father wound by simply opening up to God about the hurt and pain he has endured with no fault of his own. Talking to God in prayer consistently about it eventually brings healing and the strength to change oneself. Before that can even happen, the man must admit that he is functioning at a deficit and that he is in need of help. He must recognize and confess that he isn't emotionally and psychologically healthy because of it.
God is tenderhearted and there for those who have had to live without their loving father due to death. God certainly understands all of what comes with that. God is there for those who have and are struggling with the woes and pain of it all.
It is sad and disturbing when I look around and see Christian males who are middle aged and older still being controlled by childhood deficits. It is seen in the way they handle everyone around them. It can be heard in their speech, their choices and decisions and in their attitudes when they don't get what they want. Some are verbally abusive and physically abusive while others show a disdain for women by relegating the woman to what they want them to be for them. Some will remain in marriages solely because of the perks and the standard of living they enjoy due to that woman's hard work. If a man chooses not to take advantage of all God has afforded, then nothing can be done for him. God does judge such behavior.
A Call for Mentors:
There is such a need for mentorship programs in our local churches. This need has been in existence for many years now.
There are churches that have been answering the call for mentors. If you are a male who has healed from your father wound, please consider mentoring a young man who is in need of a male figure. Go before God in prayer to send you the right youth for you to influence spiritually and emotionally in hopes to bring healing into their life.
God expects men to heal and come full circle. God has placed His Holy Spirit within you to enable you the strength to work through your issues and make you a better man, a man God can find His delight in. May you experience God's grace and help in this matter.
"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." Proverbs 16:32
A mighty warrior subdues individuals by overpowering them in some way. He conquers by force.
It takes self-control to not react or respond out of anger. The person who retaliates against you, to get back at you because you made them to feel some kind of way is out of control. The individual who takes vengeance on another for any reason is out of control. Anyone who goes and spread negative things about you is out of control and a person who orchestrates a plot against you is also out of control. The person who influences others against you is out of control as well.
All of these actions come from anger within a person. They have not learned to rule their spirit. They are actually very weak persons. All they can do is go around unleashing their anger and bitterness on others. They refuse to learn to deal with their emotions in a healthy, non-destructive way. They lack spiritual maturity. What about the 'nice nasty' person who uses a seemingly pleasant way of cutting you down or insulting you in a way that is condescending? They too have hidden anger issues and choose to strike out in ways that won't make it appear as if they have a problem with you. These individuals get angry easily and they act on it.
One wonders if they experienced emotional repression in their childhood where their feelings were rejected, not heard, criticized or not valued. Perhaps they ended up going through life feeling as if they always get the raw end of the stick. Sometimes it's those childhood deficits that bring about frustration and anger. This can be a breeding ground for behaviors such as jealousy, envy and a manipulative spirit within a child. Some adults are still fighting the battles they lost as a child. Perhaps they weren't liked much by their peers and they were out on a mission to prove that they are better than them. These things follow people into adulthood and if not dealt with from an early age by talking it out with a parent or trusted party, they continue to be on that quest to prove that they are better, smarter and popular. Regardless of one's painful childhood experiences, God never approves of such behaviors among His children and furthermore He disapproves of this type of anger issues pointed towards anyone.
As an aside, if you are raising children, give them a safe space with you where they can express their feelings whether you as their parent, or guardian agree with them or not. Don't make them swallow their feelings because eventually they will rebel. It is healthy to express one's emotions. That's why God gave us the ability to feel in the first place and we were given tears that we may cry if need be. Just picture someone who at every turn tries to shut you down. What will that end up doing to you?
Becoming a Christian and having a relationship with God should help lay these things to rest and help in controlling disappointment, anger and retaliation, but somehow for some, it keeps spilling out. This shows that there's a lack in their spiritual development and their refusal to accept God's help in this area of their life.
Some Christians may even think that they can control such behavior on their own, but they can't. Self-control requires a power beyond oneself. One must employ the help of God.
God's Word gives wisdom for handling anger. He gives a right perspective from which to view what caused the anger in the first place. One must be willing to get to the origin of why they are so quick to become angry and agitated in that way.
Quick tempered persons take everything personally and it leads to out-of-control behavior.
Let's face it, there's enough stuff out here and people to make you lose your mind if you're not careful; it's a tough world, but as a believer, God gives us tools to use and advice as to how to manage our emotions, our thinking, and our reactions. That is why it is imperative that we draw near to God so that we can be empowered and helped in gaining self-control.
You want to be a godly man or woman who knows how to control their anger. This is commendable.
"Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2 Timothy 3:12
What a strong statement of fact is given in the above verse! As Christians, we generally opt out of all situations that even remotely look like it could bring us suffering.
Although we have the blessing of God upon our lives as believers, we are called to suffer for Christ. Just let that sink in for a moment. It has taken me some years to wrap my brain around that fact. Let's take a look at some popular Bible characters that experienced suffering while trying to live obedient lives for God.
Naboth in 1 kings 21:1-16
He had a vineyard that apparently, was in a choice spot and King Ahab wanted it. It didn't matter that it was an inheritance given to Naboth, Ahab wanted it for his own. When Naboth refused, King Ahab told his wife, Jezebel, about it and she worked an evil plan that ended up in the demise of Naboth. The thing is this, God allowed this innocent man to lose his life while doing what was right.
Abel in Genesis 4
He is the brother of Cain, whose parents were Adam and Eve. Cain was angry because God accepted Abel's offering above his and he went out and killed his brother. Again, another innocent person loses their life for doing the right thing.
Joseph in Genesis chapters 37-50
Joseph's brothers were jealous of him because he was honored by their father in a way that made him special in his eyes. They decided to get rid of him and that they did. They hatched a plan that ended up separating Joseph from his entire family for many years. Joseph's life took a bunch of twists and turns as a result, and he ended up in some very dangerous situations that were all beyond his control.
David in 1 Samuel 18
After David kills Goliath and the women sing his praises, King Saul becomes disturbed with jealousy and now resents David. Long story short, Saul seeks the life of David on different occasions driving him away from even his best friend Jonathan.
Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:14
Paul states clearly that a certain person, as he names him, Alexander the coppersmith, has done a lot of evil against him.
Gideon in Judges 6:5
God has chosen Gideon to be a judge in Israel during a very difficult time, a time when they were under God's judgement for their disobedience. They cried out to God for help from their enemies, the Midianites, and God raised up Gideon as an answer to their prayers. Israel's full deliverance meant that there would be a battle that had to take place. Their enemies were not going to leave them alone that easily. In Judges 7, Gideon goes to war with 100 men.
Mordecai in Esther 5:9-14
Haman hated Mordecai because he refused to bow to him when he saw him. Haman erects gallows to hang Mordecai on and he intended to end Mordecai's life because he was a Jew who disrespected him.
Jesus in the New Testament
Jesus suffered so many things that led up to His death, the death of the cross.
These individuals endured sufferings of various sorts and remained steadfast and faithful to God despite how hard things got for them. They placed their unwavering faith and trust in the promises of God. They did what was right regardless of the backlash and the attacks. Let me just say that-that is not easy to do. It's difficult even for the best of Christians. Rejection, ostracizing, scorn, lies, vicious attacks and humiliation is not a welcomed thing for any of us.
We are told in the Word of God to expect to suffer, to prepare for it and to endure it. It comes with the territory of being a Christian, especially if you want to honor and obey God.
God gives us the grace (ability and tolerance) to suffer for Him. Some suffering looks like the list above, while others may or could result in the loss of life, job, home, or reputation. No matter how we look at it-it will not be easy. Yet, we are not to shrink from it should we be faced with some form of suffering.
Evil men are getting worse and worse, and we are living in a time where Christians in the United States of America could find themselves under great suffering as we await the Lord's return for us. Ask yourself, "Where am I at on the subject of suffering for Christ?"
"Wicked people want to hurt people. They are digging a deep hole for people to fall into. But they fall into the hole themselves!" (Psalms 7:15 Easy)
Revenge may seem sweet, but the aftermath is dangerous. It's never advised that we try to 'get back' at someone for something they did to us. There are always consequences for evil acts of retaliation.
What a person fails to realize is that they are digging a pit for themselves. It's been said that when you dig a pit for someone else, dig another for yourself.
In the book of Esther, we see the outcome of Haman who hated Mordecai because he refuses to bow down to him. Haman in his wrath went home and told his family and he built a Gallo to hang Mordecai on. His plot failed. God says, what a man sows he will reap (Galatians 6:7). When Esther tells the matter to the king and who it was that put it in motion, the king had that man, Haman, hung on the very Gallos he built for Mordecai.
When Daniel's accusers caused him to be thrown into a den of lions because he was found praying and didn't honor the king's decree, which was set in place with evil intent, their plan also failed. God quieted those lions by squelching their hunger and they left Daniel alone. What were the consequences for such an evil act? Daniel's accusers along with their wives and children were thrown to the very same lions and were mauled and eaten before they hit the ground.
In situations where someone does you wrong, or any evil act, leave them to God. It's only a matter of time and they will experience the same thing happening to them. Charles Stanley said, "we reap what we sow, more than we've sown and for longer than we've sown it." That is scary!
Ultimately, revenge is not sweet after all. It comes with a price tag that most are not willing to pay.
"But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him." Genesis 37:4
It doesn't matter how many times I read about the life of Joseph, there's always something different that comes across. There are a lot of modern-day Josephs around. Individuals who have suffered at the hands of their own family members, or church family. These situations are always sad and unfortunate.
In Joseph's case, his brothers were jealous and envious of him and that led to their hatred and ultimate ill treatment of him. They proved how much they didn't want him around by their actions. Hatred and resentment can be dangerous, but it should never characterize anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian.
Hatred is usually a problem within the hater. This type of emotion comes from a deep place within the person. It springs from a painful issue they've been living with and for whatever reasons has not sought to get the help and healing they need to break free of it.
Jealousy, envy and resentment eat away at the individual. It grows legs and arms and soon defiles everyone around them. It sows discord among the Lord's people, it separates friends, and it causes strife.
Joseph's brothers thought that once they got rid of him their problems would be over, but it was just beginning. It is never a good thing or a wise thing to do acts of evil. For what a man sows he will surely reap, says the Bible (Galatians 6:7). The consequence for doing an evil act is far greater than you could ever imagine. It's been said that when you dig a pit for someone, dig another one for yourself because you will certainly be the recipient of the same misfortune. In other words, you will suffer too. "Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them" (Proverbs 26:27).
Ten of Joseph's brothers learned that lesson the hard way. It is such a sad story but with a glorious end. Evil never wins in God's economy. It's interesting how God allowed the evil against Joseph. It resulted in other harmful things, but God had a place and plan for it all. Thank God for His great wisdom in planning things out for us. All we can see is the painful evil act done against us, but God sees the blessed end He has in mind.
If those brothers knew how the story would end, they would have never done what they did. They didn't even consider their father, Jacob, or the devastation they were bringing on him and the entire family. They were selfish and cruel. God always makes sure that those who execute evil get what they deserve, even if they are a child of God. God has no favorites and His judgement for such things will fall.
It's unfortunate that sometimes within the family of God His children haven't learned how to appreciate and value one another. It is written in His Word that we are to esteem others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
The incredible success and blessing that was bestowed upon Joseph despite his sufferings says it all. God looked out for him and protected him through it all. Though his brothers meant it for evil, Joseph could say in the end that God planned it for Good. This he told them to their faces (Genesis 50:20). Little did they know that Joseph would save the lives of their entire family of 70 persons. We must be careful how we handle the Lord's people and people in general for we do not know if we'll need them in the end. We have no idea why God placed them within the family and the divine purpose they are to serve.
"Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." 2 Chronicles 20:12
It is a most common response when one is overwhelmed, to panic. Fear sets in quickly and if we're not careful, despair will follow. There are situations in life that can throw us overboard. What do we do? How do we handle those times in our lives?
In this passage King Jehoshaphat was told that a great multitude is coming against him in battle. The scripture tells us that Jehoshaphat felt the fear and that fear was real (vs. 3). But we're also told that the first thing he did was to go to God about it. That's what we must do. We have to seek the face of almighty God for His help and direction. To be afraid is not a sin, reacting out of that fear is.
At times, there are situations that will require us to fast and pray. The people fasted as they asked for help from the Lord God. That is crucial. Sometimes prayer alone is sufficient for the need while at other times fasting must accompany those prayers.
Are you in the midst of a challenging time in your life? Are you going through deep trials or afflictions? Run to God seeking His face and help in your time of need. He has the answer, and He will give the victory. He will navigate you through.
It's so important to keep our eyes on God each and every day because there are so many distractions that are designed to take our minds off of spiritual things. The enemy does not want you or I to draw near to God and to be poised and ready to hear His voice. Distractions like entertainment, social activities, the flood of news and media sensation, movies and things of the sort are all intended to fill our minds and time in such a way where we won't connect with God via prayer and the study of His Word. Believe me, it seems to be working with many Christians these days. When crisis happens, trials, or afflictions, we are hard pressed to have peace in the storm because we may have been following from a far off, spiritually speaking. This is how fear can consume us and try to make us react and respond when we become afraid.
Let us keep our eyes on God in the good times when we are not experiencing trials so that we will be ready when they come for they will come. If we desire to live in obedience to God and His Word, we will have many trials and we will suffer persecution, so the Bible says. "Yea all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:12
"It is written: man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of my mouth." Matthew 4:4
We must get beyond praying for our needs only (our family, our job, etc.). We should prepare our hearts for the Lord and His things.
Praying and preparing our heart helps us to know the will of God. We should be concerned about what concerns God.