"Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment." John 12:3
It's a known fact that being in close proximity with others often leaves something behind. Whether it is a comment, a thought shared, or a tone of voice, we leave lasting impressions on one another.
When I was eight years old, my grandfather signed me up for piano lessons with an African American, middle-aged woman, in Harlem. She had a studio on 116th street and 5th Avenue. I can remember it as if it were yesterday. It was a long narrow room with Baby Grand pianos lined up against the circumference of the walls. The pianos were worn, but they played beautifully. Sometimes there would be a student on each bench playing their notes. Those lessons were five dollars an hour. I didn't know it then, but that was a steal of a price!
Although I don't recall her name, I do remember what she left behind. She wore the reddest lipstick I had ever seen and costume jewelry flanked her neck as it hung down the middle of her breasts. She always wore dresses. What I will never forget is that awful smelling perfume. It was as if she bathed in it. It was loud, and strong, and overwhelming to say the least. It nauseated me. It was hard for me to concentrate because my stomach felt sick. I had to endure this every week. I guess I got use to it, because I did learn how to read the notes and play piano.
By the time my grandfather returned to pick me up, paid her the five dollars, and asked how I was getting on, I would run to the black winged Dodge parked out front. What I noticed was that the smell of her perfume lingered even in the car. I couldn't get that smell to go away. I opened the windows in hopes that it would dissipate, but it clung to me. I could even taste it. Every week for one hour, she left a lasting impression on me and it was mainly from her perfume.
What lasting fragrance are you leaving behind when others walk away from your presence? Are they inspired, refreshed, encouraged, or strengthened?
Mary left such an impression on all who were in her presence that day when she anointed the feet of Jesus. I'm pretty sure that as that odor of ointment filled the air, it sat on those in close proximity. That smell lingered and traveled where those who were a distance off caught a whiff of it.
What is the last thing a person recalls after we have walked away from them? What will they remember when we're gone? How did we make them feel in the process? Would they look forward to seeing or hearing from us again?
Yes, we all leave a fragrance behind that is directly connected to who we are. The question is, "What type of fragrance do we want to fill the atmosphere?"
2 Samuel 18:9-17; 1 Kings 2:5; 26-34
So what can we learn from the story of Joab? Joab was the son of Zeruiah, and the commander of King David's army. He was not only a great warrior, but he was also a shrewd politician. He could play both sides against the middle to serve himself.
Joab disobeyed King David's commands on a few occasions. He killed two men, Abner and Amasa, during peace time, and he did not bring Absolom, the king's son, back from battle alive, instead, he killed him. Joab clashed heads with King David over political and personal issues a couple of times. When King David decided to show mercy to someone, Joab was ready to have them killed. Joab was a man who was vengeful, selfish, and looked for ways where he could succeed in the kingdom. This sounds a lot like some of us in the body of Christ, unfortunately.
Joab also was ready to follow Adonijah, Solomon's older brother, who was trying to take the throne from Solomon. Joab knew that Adonijah should have been next in line to take the throne as the eldest, and he wanted to position himself right under him, but God had for Solomon to rule as Israel's third king.
When King David became old, he told Solomon to kill Joab because of the things he had done years earlier. Solomon did just that.
What can we learn from Joab's service to his king?
2 Samuel 18, 19:1-8 (just a few scriptures).**
"Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions." Proverbs 4:25
Focus on your mission and purpose in this life!
God has given each of us something to do for His kingdom. We have a mission to accomplish for His glory. As you hear about new laws, and new bills being passed, let not your heart be troubled. We were forewarned by the scriptures exactly what we can expect in this dispensation and time. I'd much rather focus all my energy and strength fulfilling the purpose for which I was saved to serve.
Fix your eyes!
By all means, be aware of all that is going on around you, and in your sphere of the world, but don't take your eyes off of Jesus! The noise of the world has a way of making us look to the left and to the right. We are running a race of endurance that can only be run by looking straight ahead at the finish line. Distractions causes us to loose our pace, and our momentum. If our eyes are fixed on the Lord and His word, we will be able to help one another run the race that is set before us.
Things are going to get much worse moving forward!
This is only the beginning of the down hill journey on this earth, but we can trust God to navigate us through! He is our strength, our guide, and our literal salvation. Pray about all you hear and see. Be salt, and be light in the midst of the darkness. Represent Christ wherever you go! Be a soldier that's on a mission who's seeking to get the job done!
These things can be distractions, depending on how we use them!
Keep The Faith!
2 Timothy 3:12
"Yea, and all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
THE LORD GOD EXPERIENCED AND ENDURED THE FOLLOWING FROM PEOPLE:
On days when you think no one understands, or no one can feel your pain, look up and be reminded that 'Jesus Can'. He knows exactly what it feels like. Who better to comfort us in our time of trial but the Lord God!
Sometimes our greatest challenges, and greatest trials are from the hands of those we know personally. Within the Christian community and without the Christian community, and from your own family members as well, you'll experience some of the same things Christ did! Keep your head up and hold on to the Lord. He will give you the ability to cope, to tolerate, and to navigate through it all.
Remember this, all who suffer with Christ will reign with Christ. It's an honor to be counted worthy to suffer for His name!
A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. Prov. 10:1
Solomon said this. He aught to know. Look at the family he came from. Solomon learned, from observing his older brothers, how not to be, and where you could end up in the end. King David had such sadness with his sons. What a burden they proved to be. King David had only to blame himself for the destructive outcome of his family. For you see, it was all due to the consequences of his own sins. When David took what wasn't his (Bathsheba), and murdered an innocent man (her husband, Uriah), he sealed the fate of his own family. The sword never left his house.
Let's take a look at David's family. Amnon rapes Tamar, his half-sister and forever ruins her life. Absalom, his older brother, finds out about it, two years later, and has his brother Amnon killed. Absalom sleeps with his father's concubines in the face of all Israel, in plain sight, and forms a coo against his own father, King David. Adonijah makes several attempts to prevent his younger brother, Solomon, from becoming king. Adonijah was older and normally he would have been next in line for the throne, but God decided differently. God chose Solomon to be king. Solomon had to sternly address his own mother on the issue of her son Adonijah who tried to use her to get the position he so coveted.
Solomon saw or knew some things within his own family that was unreal, horrible, and destructive. There was jealousy, envy, evil, and treacherous behavior, crimes, sexual assaults, murder, lies, and deception. What older sibling could he look to for advice let alone godly advice? He saw the character and the lack of integrity his brothers had.
Some of us have experienced negative things within our own family that have forever impacted our lives. It does happen, more often than not. Just like God did in David's household, He does for others. In the midst of all the murder and mayhem, God raises up a Solomon!
God is grieved when the family structure fails to be what it ought to be. Children are the innocent victims in it all. They are hard pressed to be emotionally, and psychologically whole. When you are born into a severely dysfunctional situation, you're already doomed before you get started. Children growing up in such environments become conditioned, and more than likely will repeat the cycle of dysfunction.
Hope can be found in Jesus! He can help us break that cycle! He gives power, real power to escape the chains of a terrible life. You and I are not responsible for what we were born into, after all, we didn't pick our family, but we can certainly do differently.
Having Christ in your life makes all the difference! You can now become what God intended you to be. You can rise above it all and lead your family into a new way of thinking and being. Bad Family Blood doesn't have to be what runs through your veins!
"Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be move."
God assigns certain trials and situations with our names on it. He has a spiritual purpose in it all. He knows the weight of the burden and how we feel. He sees the affect it’s having on us. So, He sends His grace, that special enabling ingredient, that helps us to bear up under the strain of it all. He sends an encouraging word directly from His lips to our hearts to cheer us along the rough path.
Sometimes He allows the tongues of others to spew discouragements, accusations, and negative things as He did with Job. Job’s closest friends began to tell him why he was in the situation he was in. Oh how much that must have hurt. Even Job’s wife put in her personal assessment and request under the circumstances. She felt he needed to turn on God, walk away, and just die. She was bending, buckling, and bowing under the circumstances; understandably so.
I reserve criticism for Mrs. Job, because she was in great grief and under great strain. She had lost all of her beautiful children all at once. All of her hopes and dreams for them were dashed, and her future without them was extremely bleak. She was a mother in great pain. She lost all faith in God, and she wanted her husband to do the same.
Things can get that tough for us when God chooses to assign trials with our names on them. I know from personal experience how hard it can get as you are trying to hold on to your faith and endure what was sent your way. I too have experienced the harsh criticisms from those looking on. It can add insult to injury, and emotionally handicap you, but God sees it all and knew everything that would happen before he sent that trial your way.
God provides everything needed to endure the storm with your faith in tact, while developing more within you. He has a beautiful way of communicating with us during these times, and in those moments when He is silent, He is still speaking, although it’s hard to hear His voice. In those silent times, He wants us to remember His written word to us. There are bible verses that become precious, crucial, and powerful to us when we read and meditate on them. They give off such power, and as a result, we’re able to keep keeping on.
God provides resources for us that enable us to persevere and get through the hard times. Job had some of God’s resources too. He had his faith, prayer, and the words of God that he had heard and known at that time. We have the entire word of God in the form of a bible.
Only God can sustain what He has gifted to us. Looking back, I can see how the crisis, and trials of the past were ‘gifts’ to me from God. I despised them then, but I cherish them now because I’ve seen the benefit and outcome of going through hard times. We mainly learn in hindsight. Hindsight is 20/20. I have a greater measure of understanding about God and who He is. I’ve tasted of that power that raised Jesus from the dead. I ended us seeing how much He loved me and the intensity of His desire for me to come into the blessings He was holding in His hands for me. This perspective can only be gotten through enduring trials. It’s tough, but it’s worth it all.
Hannah became seriously depressed and stopped eating because she was deep in the throws of a trial (1 Samuel 1). David became depressed and wanted to die because he felt that eventually his adversary, King Saul, would kill him. David stops complaining about the problem and begins to pray (Psalm 13). Job, in all of his distress, and physical illness, regrets the day he was born. He is depressed and in great sorrow. He keeps having long discourses with God and eventually, God responds (Job 3; Job 38-41). When God responds to Jobs questions, he comes into a greater knowledge and understanding of God and how He operates. He learns that God's sovereignty (God can do as He so pleases) rules!
When life gets really hard packing a punch, it's perfectly okay to cry and to let your emotions go. That's why you were given tears! Cry, cry, and cry some more! You must feel the pain of your circumstances. Never try to dull the pain with anything! You must feel every aspect of your trial. God intends on using all of your trials as a ministry to others! Cast your burden on the Lord and remember this; God collects every tear you cry. "You keep track of my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in the book" (Psalm 56:8)? God records all of our tears and puts them into His bottle. He will crystalize those tears and give them back in the form of pearls! I lie to you not! I have my own set of pearls and I give you the honest side of truth!
I can't recall hearing so many accusations against political figures as I've heard in the past year. When all you hear is account after account of lies being told to the American people, it's terrible, horrible, and repulsive, to say the least!
I was in a conversation with someone, when they commented, "Everyone lies"! I looked at them with disdain and surprise and they looked back at me with a look that said, "You don't know this!?
It is beyond sad when the world at large has no regard for the truth! But, I really could care less about the world; what concerns me is the community of folk who profess Christianity because they have been called to a higher standard! God is very clear on what He thinks of Lying, Liars, and Lies.
So, what are some of the reasons that cause one to lie?
Any way you look at it, lying is a serious problem. I don't care if the whole world finds it okay, God says it is wrong! It is a sin! It is unacceptable, and punishable.
Prov. 6:16, 17 says, "These six things does the Lord 'Hate', and seven are an abomination (detestable) to Him. A proud look, a 'Lying Tonge'."
Have you ever been lied to or lied on? It's an awful thing. Being lied on can cause pain, and suffering. Being lied to, causes mistrust, and loss of respect. Lies destroy reputation, and it damages the local church body; even the liar gets his or her reputation ruined eventually.
What about those individuals who say, "I never lied, I just said", so and so." The truth of it is that although they didn't state the lie outright, it's still a lie because they caused someone to believe something that wasn't true. That is called intentionally deceiving a person!
Prov. 12:19 clearly states, "Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment." Lies don't and won't last or prevail. Sooner or later, the truth wins out and the liar is exposed for all to see! So, if you are ever in a situation where you were lied to or lied on, it's only a matter of time for the truth to come out. I have seen this happen. In all actuality, you need to pray for the person who is doing the lying because the judgement of God will fall on them when they least expect it. God will not suffer a liar to persist in what they are doing. And should this liar spread lies on you, remember this; It is God who shuts mouths! He will literally shut them up by exposing them!
There's another category of lying out there. It is the habitual liar. They are called 'Pathological Liars' because they chronically lie, and easily lie. Here is the problem with lying. It can become a habit! Once a person takes up lying, and get a PHD in it, it's almost virtually impossible for them to stop. This can be dangerous. This type of liar can cause a person to get killed. Rev. 21:8 says, "All liars shall have their part in the lake of fire." This speaks to pathological, habitual liars. They obviously know not God.
What disturbs me deeply is the liar who lies unnecessarily. They fell into a situation that placed their back against the wall, and they consciously chose to lie. That really bothers me. They didn't have to handle the matter that way. They end up loosing their reputation and those who once trusted them, don't anymore. Even their ministry is compromised, and becomes a stumbling block.
2 Cor. 8:21 says, "Provide things honest before God and man." Not only are we to be honest before God, we are to be honest and have honest dealings with all men; and that means everyone. Ps. 31:18 states, "Let lying lips be put to silence, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous." This verse tells us that the liar will be silenced eventually. The lies they take pleasure in speaking, is causing pain and sorrow as they express deep hatred and disapproval for the person they are lying on. God plans on shutting their mouth!
I will end with this verse. "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches."! Lying does matter! It matters a great deal to God! NO ONE RESPECTS A LIAR!
As the year comes to a close, I find myself in reflective mode, as usual. There was a tremendous amount of stuff to ponder. It was important to take a trip down memory lane.
I, in no way, want to take away from all the wonderful grandfathers out there! They are most valuable and have served as wonderful examples for the next generation to follow. Of course, I don't speak in absolutes, but many have done an outstanding job and have earned the title, 'Grandfather'.
There are things that are distinctly different when it comes to 'Grandmothers'. Although they have raised children, they somehow have the where withal to give to the next generation. They muster up the energy that's needed. I'm speaking of mental energy, and the psychological energy to see what needs tending to in the family structure. They quietly pitch in, while reserving their judgement for prayer and sometimes fasting.
Grandparents are God's gift to the less experienced parent, and the buffer for the children. Think about it for a moment. They have learned from experience what the more excellent way is. The mistakes they may have made in the past with their own children, has tempered them, softened them, and made them more empathetic and patient.
I have found that perspective is everything! Sometimes as a parent, your discernment and judgement works off of your own childhood experiences, be it good or bad. You use good ole common sense, right from wrong, and simply, 'Because I said so'. When you become a grandparent, you operate a little differently. Although you see things the same as before, you now see them in a more balanced way.
Age has a way of bringing together experience and patience. The patience we may not have had with our own children, somehow kick in with our very first grandchild. It's a phenomenal thing to see and to experience. I chuckle as I write this blog because only God knows how that happens.
I would like to focus a little on 'Grandmothers' and their prayers. God so graciously used my grandmother's prayers. I had no idea. I am living off of many of her prayers today, and will until the day I die or until I am translated into heaven. I now know what some of her prayer requests were on my behalf. All I have to do is take a look at all of the good choices I've made in life. Even the bad ones that resulted in a good end speak to the specific, well defined prayers she spoke to God as she brought me before Him day after day. You see, a grandmother's prayers are so uniquely designed to take in all possible detours and the disobedience of an erring child.
Grandmothers know the ins and outs of all the situations young ones can get themselves into. We'd be amazed if we eaves dropped on their conversations with God. Blessed is every woman who takes her grand parenting seriously, with a spiritual twist!
As a woman, grandma can enter into the things that a male cannot. God has designed her heart to be intuitive, intense, discerning, and sincere. They are the nurturers and the grand - nurturer who never slumbers or sleeps. What a tremendous virtue little ones and the older ones have when they spend time with her. Grandchildren have no idea that when they go to grandma's house, it's so much more than candy, cake, and ice-cream. They have now come in contact with pure wisdom, power, and love at its best! Add to that, the prayers she sends up, and it's on!
There are many who are grandparents who may have failed at parenting, who try to do better with the next generation. Some are successful with it while others repeat the same mistakes of the past. This is sadly unfortunate. If you have had a grandmother who was an overall solid good mother to her children, you are blessed! Learn from her, value and appreciate her if she is still living. Ponder, and remember her if she is gone. Follow her example.
We know that our grandparents weren't perfect, but many were righteous, God fearing people. They have left you and I a legacy of faith with a host of other valuables we can draw from. Take a little time, as the year is on its way out, and take a trip down memory lane; see the many jewels you have been left, take it in, and turn and praise the Lord for His mercy, His wisdom, and His wonderful love towards you!
I can only imagine the disappointment and displeasure God has experienced due to the breach in relationships among His people. He is grieved. He is angered by it, especially when it goes on for years and years, because it limits His hand of blessing upon the individuals who are at fault. The local church becomes hindered as well.
For the life of me, I do not understand why humans would rather feed and nurture a riff rather than heal it. God gives clear instructions on how to mend fences and how to effectively get along despite our differences. He knew we would clash every now and again, so He gives healthy, godly solutions in order to work out our differences with respect.
If a person has offended you, you have a leg to stand on, and you have every right to confront them, to help them see where they have wronged you. For the person who runs to others, to complain about someone, I scarcely doubt they were the offended party at all. It may just be that they have an issue that doesn't qualify as an offense.
God desires that there be healing in broken relationships. The problem comes in when individuals refuse to do their part in the healing process. Mind you, not every quarrel or disagreement is an offense.
God is not interested in our worship of Him, until we go and make things right with our brother or sister. "Leave your sacrifice there at the altar. First go and be reconciled to that person, then come and offer your sacrifice to God" (Matt. 5:24). Scripture tells us to confess our sins to God. He also tells us to confess the wrong we've done, to each other. This is the part many fail to do.
No one should know that there was a breach between you and another person. It must remain between you and that person alone. It does not involve others. When you bring others into it, you have now sown discord among the Lord's people. This is an abomination to God. He detests this type of thing, yet we do it time and time again. You can always tell who knows what, by the way they are now responding to you, or reacting to you. It is one of the worst things that saints can do. It impacts the entire church.
It should be the desire of individuals to resolve their issues. It should never go on for months, let alone years. God gives a time span for the fault to be rectified. Don't let Sunday come and you have an unresolved issue with your brother. That is the time span. There are seven days to a week and which ever day the offense occurred, that's the amount of time, before Sunday, that it should be resolved. I have found that when persons have a desire to honor and please the Lord, these matters get ironed out quickly. When they don't, it leaves room for speculation. It shows a lack of spirituality, and an unwillingness to be obedient. It also shows a lack of true love on the part of the person resisting. Sometimes both parties are resistant to do what needs to be done.
Failure to work out offenses causes the matter to grow and fester, thereby infecting others. It doesn't matter how much we may try to cover this sin, we will not prosper. "He who conceals his sins will not prosper" (Prov. 28:13).
HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE DO WHEN WE ARE TRYING TO HIDE A SIN AGAINST OUR BROTHER:
In some cases, the party isn't offended at all by the negative action on our part. They simply have been forewarned by our behavior, and have decided to step back and limit their dealings with us.
Some of us have it twisted. We think that just because a person is a Christian, that we can get away with taking them for granted, and that they should always give us what we want when we come to them. I don't read that anywhere in the Bible. But I have read where it clearly states, "Whatsoever a man sows, that he shall also reap" (Gal. 6:7), "A brother offended, is harder to be won than a strong city", (Prov. 18:19). In other words, when we choose to treat a person a certain way, for whatever reasons, we must be prepared for the outcome of such treatment. Once a person sees our character and manner of handling them, they wisely pull back. We are not to take advantage of one another or take each other for granted.
Many blessings have been lost because we don't handle one another properly. We should be enjoying all that we have with one another, but instead, we ruin relationships among the Lord's people, and we refuse to make things right.
We've pretty much come to the end of another year. Let's examine ourselves. Let's not let the next year roll in with old issues that are unresolved. Confess your fault to God, and then go and confess it to your brother or sister while there is still time.
The world loves to sing the praises of those who are world renown, or of celebrity status. Rightfully so; they have earned their props. They have proven that they have mastered their craft. The end result is success and accolades, with notoriety. But who are they working for? To whom do they praise? The applause from the world, awards, and money is as best as it will get for them on this earth.
God is most concerned with what has Eternal Value. When He saved you and me, He expected us to produce to the best of our ability. He, the Lord God, portioned out ability and giftedness according to what He knew each individual could successfully bring to past. He gave each of us what was right up our alley, and what we were good at naturally. He said to tweak it, develop it, nurture it, and use it for His honor and glory upon the earth.
There is Eternal Value connected to all that God has given to us. Unfortunately, not all have taken seriously what God has so graciously bestowed upon them, and how sad is that.
The gifted preacher, or minister of the word, behind closed doors, must be prayed up, and in the word reading and studying it at all times in order to be a vessel ready to be used at the right time. The same goes for any ministry area, be it Sunday school work, outreach endeavors, music ministry, teachers of the word, etc. No one is exempt from the spiritual responsibilities that come with being a mouth piece for God.
We should take a lesson from the world in this regard. The world is good at what they do. Why aren't we? Have you and I taken what God has placed in our hands and developed it to its fullest potential? Have we nurtured and cultivated everything that we know how to do as far as service for God goes? Have we focused our energy on those things in order to be effective and efficient with them?
Is This where you are?
1. Failure to study, train or learn more about what you have a level of skill in.
2. Where you were five or ten years ago is where you still are with it.
3. The skill has diminished.
4. Opportunities aren't coming.
5. Not where you ought to be with it.
God expects you and I to be:
Perfect/Complete in know how
Passionate, Strong belief and conviction
Are you driven with 'Passion' or have you settled for where you find yourself? It takes 'Passion' to accomplish things for God. Passion is what keeps a person seeking and pursuing. It gets them up each day engaged in the skill they've been given. They never rest, they are always learning new things and new ways to use that thing for God. Without passion, you will be hard pressed to grow, and improve, or even master what you've been given.
The amount of time we invest in a thing speaks to where we're at with it, and the level of result we can expect from it.
There are some skills that cannot be recovered once neglected. If God gave a person physical strength to serve Him, he'd better start as early as possible in all seriousness, because physical strength will diminish with age and lack of good health. Perhaps he gave some the gift of music, that too will diminish with age and lack of health. These things cannot be recovered if years of neglect set in.
In order to be Ambassadors for Christ, we must be effective. God has given us everything to be powerful upon the earth, right where He has placed us. We must not neglect our calling!
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might!
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.