"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Corinthians 6:2
Never before in my lifetime have I experienced a pandemic that made the entire world come to a screeching halt! That alone should tell us something! That in itself should send off an alarm within each person's heart!
The entertainment world has shut down from Broadway productions, stage technicians, and ticket offices. Their musicians and singers are out of jobs, and without paychecks. Many have been fired and now must apply for unemployment. A large number of employees in our nation are out of work until further notice. The Cruise Boat industry has been stagnant and those who relied on jobs with them are presently not working. There are no concerts, or tours, available. Jazz festivals have stopped, the Ballet has ceased, and Opera right along with it. All of our theatres are closed. There are thousands of more jobs attached to all of these organizations that help them to operate and to accommodate us. Have you ever seen anything like this?
This certainly is a time to stop, and reflect on life, and the future. It's a time to examine lifestyle, and the very meaning of life. It is a time to hear what God, your creator, and my creator, is saying and have been saying to us. Long before the pandemic, God has been trying to get the attention of man. He has used all sorts of situations to get mankind to stop for a moment and hear His voice. Some have stopped and gave God an ear and have been granted eternal life and a love like none other.
So as you continue in whatever situation this pandemic has you in, please, take this word of advice and set things right with God. Tomorrow is not promised to you, even if you don't get Covid-19; you are living on borrowed time. God's word is so very true. Is He speaking to you? Don't ignore Him for your life depends on listening to His voice. You won't have very long to respond to God's call of salvation for it is available 'TODAY'!
That word, 'ALONE', is a word we do not like! We will do everything in our power to steer clear of what that word implies.
From the time we're young, we learn to gravitate towards people. After all, we have been created to be social beings. We choose a social circle of friends and from there we build our sense of community. As we become young adults, friendships become even more important to us. The bonds we forge with others often help to support and carry us through life's challenges and triumphs. As we embark upon middle-age, we learn that all we really need are a couple of reliable, faithful and true friends to take with us along the rest of the journey.
God gives friendships and it is truly a blessing to us to have them; even the Lord had friends. He had 12 friends who were around Him often, and three were in His inner circle. With this being said, there are times when the Lord God will take some of us and separate us unto Himself. Overall, as believers we are all separated unto Him, Psalm 4:3 says, "But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is Godly." He also takes some of us and carves out a different life and lifestyle.
God takes some of His children and secludes them away from the constant socializing, and general activities because He has a particular mission for them. His desire is to use them in a way that doesn't include the social life they would normally gravitate to. He allows the connections they had with others to diminish for what ever reasons. This is sometimes God's way of preparing them for a particular ministry work that requires little to no distractions.
Often, the ministries that blest us the most come from individuals who have closed themselves in with God. You'd be surprised to know what a day in their life is like. There is no going to the mall as a leisure thing to do, they aren't hanging with friends, they don't engage in entertainment much and they are usually 'ALONE' at times when the rest of the world isn't.
In order to be successful in ministry work, or to be effective in ministry, one must know when to come away from the business of life. When the Lord walked this earth, His 12 friends experienced Him leaving them alone. The Lord could be found up in a mountain praying and communing with God. There were times when Jesus wanted to be 'ALONE' with God. He knew when those times were.
We can accomplish so much more, as Christians, if we only understood the blessedness in being 'ALONE'. Some of us want to make a big impact for God, but we don't want to separate ourselves from friendships and frequent socializing.
God has called you and I for a particular mission. We must answer that call. We cannot give God excuses for why we haven't accomplished what He gave us to do.
Let's be mindful of this and while there is still time, socialize less, engage in entertainment less, and come aside and enjoy Christ more! Let Him make you the power source He intended you to be!
BE AN ESTHER, bold and courageous enough to stand for the truth, to voice your opinion and fight for the good of others, even when it means to sacrifice yourself. If God has put you in a position, it is for a purpose. Never be afraid to heed to that inner voice.
BE A RUTH, loyal in all your relationships, walk the extra mile and don't quit when things get tough. Someday, you'll see why it was all worth the effort.
BE A LYDIA, let your homes be open, let your hands be generous, let your hearts be big enough to help anyone in need. Joy is greatest when shared.
BE A HANNAH, never cease to pray. It will never be in vain.
BE A MARY, humble and submissive. You don't have to be great for God to use you, you just need to obey.
BE A DORCAS, use your talents, however small it may seem to bring a smile on someone's face. You'll never know how much it can mean to someone.
BE AN ABIGAIL, remember how each decision can turn your life around for good or bad. Be wise.
BE AN ELIZABETH, never doubt what God can do. He is the God of many miracles.
BE A MARY MAGDALENE, never let your mistakes and judgments of other people stop you from experiencing the joy of Jehovah.
BE A REBEKAH, never forget that true beauty lies within. Draw all your loveliness closer to God through your Christ-like character.
BE A SARAH, age doesn't matter, Trust and Believe that all things are possible with God according to His time.
Church Picnics and Bus Trips
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
We woulda done more but... we got caught up in the activities and the social aspect of it all. We woulda accomplished more if we weren't so selfish, while showing respect of persons.
We coulda reached out more, cared more about others beyond our social circle. We coulda buried pride, and the flesh.
We shoulda spent more time getting to know who people were in the fellowship and outside of the fellowship. We shoulda appreciated what everyone brought to the table. We shoulda stopped gossiping and maligning others. We shoulda been pure with our intentions. We shoulda made a lot more phone calls to those who had no family in the church. We shoulda used our skills to strengthen rather than put ourselves on display. We shoulda walked into church in a better spiritual condition. We shoulda loved one another and accepted the differences. We shoulda helped where the help was needed. We shoulda held each other in high esteem. We shoulda recognized that God was watching. We shoulda checked our prejudices at the door while confessing its sin. There is so much that we shoulda done and now that we are not gathering together as in the past, what will we do differently if given another opportunity?
As Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to His Word, So would we in these latter days, hear and obey our Lord. There would we hear His blessed voice and gaze upon His face, would learn in meekness at His feet what is the woman's place.
Not to usurp authority or take the place of men, yet she can serve in other ways, as did the women then. With ready mind to do His will, like those of long ago, with willing heart to serve Him well, true loyalty to show.
Like Hannah, Miriam, Deborah, she may His praises speak; she may lead other women on; she may support the weak; she may train children for the Lord; uphold the fainting heart, inspiring with a steadfast faith the men to do their part.
Like Sarah, and like others, too, her husband to obey, with willing hands prepare a feast when strangers come that way, and thus, like Sarah, entertain an angel unaware; "Ye did it unto Me," He'll say, whose eyes are everywhere.
Like her who did at Shunem dwell, God's servants to receive; like Abigail in David's day the hungry to relieve; and so we might pursue the tale of women long ago, who served the Lord in simple faith while yet they dwelt below.
Who wait upon the Lord their God shall mount on eagle wings, and elder women, taught of Him, are teachers of good things: to teach young women to be wise, discreet, and good, and kind, to serve the Lord with gladsome heart, and with a quiet mind.
The elder may the younger teach, the young, those younger still; thus shall they help each other on to do His blessed will, to follow Him, the lowly One, and walk in His blest ways, and thus in all they have to do to live unto His praise.
The care of immaturity, of childhood and of youth, to lead the young and wayward feet along the paths of truth, to train them in right ways to go from e'en their earliest days, so they shall still, when older grown, be found in wisdom's ways.
To care for all her household well, and bring up worthy sons, to help the poor with kindly deeds, relieve afflicted ones; to comfort those in sore distress, and succor bring to all who need her help, as Phoebe helped the great apostle Paul.
Like Persis, Lydia, Tabitha, to labor for the Lord, spend time and substance for the poor and earn a rich reward; to practice hospitality, and oft resort to prayer, to follow on with stedfast mind in all good works to share.
Such is the woman's worthy place of service to her Lord; so shall she do His blessed will according to His Word. Who would not gladly serve Him thus? Who would not count it good to hear the Master say at last, "She hath done what she could"?
We are certainly in times of great distractions! During this pandemic of sickness and death, there has been nothing but turmoil on the earth.
There are some very important issues on the table that need addressing as far as this world is concerned. Racism has increased and so have the deaths it has caused. There are marches, rallies, and protest all around the world. Yes, the issues need to be addressed and dealt with.
Social media has been bombarded with many distractions. If we, as believers, are not careful, we will find ourselves carried away with social issues, political issues, and the like.
It is so easy for us to be distracted. Entertainment is a huge distraction for some, as well as some good things, like, our hobbies, or personal interests. We are reminded in Hebrews 12:1 "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith NKJV)." In other words, "we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that won't let us go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us (CEV)". Weights are not sin, a weight in our lives can be things that are hobbies, or your job can become a weight. Anything that takes up a lot of our time and attention is a weight.
We have to fight off distractions. They don't go away on their own. A key part of the above verse is the line, 'Looking unto Jesus'. We can't keep our own minds focused on what we should focus on unless our eyes are on the Lord daily.
Many of us are not able to physically gather together in our local churches as before, and this provides a greater danger for distractions to over take us.
It is Satan's pleasure and joy to keep us preoccupied with everything that is going on in the world, good and bad. No matter what is going on, don't allow yourself to become consumed with it all. Ask God to show you what role you should play for such a time as this, but do not become distracted from the overall purpose God has for you!
We live in a world that is constantly changing. It changes for the bad as well as for the good. I can look back through time and see some changes that were profitable and helpful, yet the more things change the more things remain the same.
As we see the horrors of the heart of sinful man played out right before our faces, and hear the helpless cries of the Black race, it is overwhelming. Racism and injustices have been in existence since the biblical age. Moses' sister, Miriam, was prejudice against his second wife, and as a result of her comments against her, she became a leper. That alone shows us that God hates prejudice. It is mentioned again in James 2: 1, 9, it says that we can't say we have faith in the Lord Jesus and show partiality. It is a sin!
We are in for more change to take place in this world. We are in hazardous and dangerous times. So what can we do? How do we weather the storms created by evil men? How do we navigate here on earth and still maintain our joy in the Lord? My comfort lies in the never changing one! There is nothing else and no one else we can count on in this world but God! He has left us promises, and assurances, and we've got to hold on to His Word. That's how we make the journey here with our joy in tack. Joy isn't the same as happiness. Happiness is conditional, but joy is a permanent state of the heart no matter what happens.
God promises to never change and God cannot lie! You and I have got to hold on to His unchanging hand! We've got to trust that He knows exactly what He is doing in allowing all the stuff that we see. He has promised to take care of those who belong to Him.
So as you see things change politically, socially, and in the religious sector, take courage. Stay close to the Lord God. Read, study, and meditate on His word. Tell Him all about your aches and pains, and trust Him to turn things in your favor! I know because I can testify to the tremendous power He has worked on my behalf. All of my success comes from the Lord!
Keep Trusting, Keep Believing No Matter What Is Happening On This Earth!
Racism is a learned behavior! No one is born hating another human being! It is taught first from within one's home. Parents have the greatest influence on their children.
God cares about people no matter the race or skin color. Deuteronomy 10:17 tells us that God is impartial. God shows no favoritism and accepts all people from every nation who put their trust in Him (Acts 10:34-35).
Prejudice, racism, or showing favoritism is a sin according to James 2:9.
The whole earth is under the influence of Satan. This is where racism stems from. The heart of men who know not Christ, as the son of God, have hearts full of corruption and it spills out in their actions towards others. Some people are worse than an animal because an animal doesn't have the ability to reason rationally, neither does an animal have intellect, but man does. There is no excuse for RACISM!
The atrocities that have been repeatedly visited upon African Americans is evidence and proof of sin which has corrupted the heart of man. It has reached such dangerous proportions that the entire black race is not only once again outraged, but we have had ENOUGH! The cries of the black race have been ignored for centuries! God is angered by this! God says He is angry with those who are wicked, everyday (Psalm 7:11)!
So where does that leave us who say we are Christians? What part do we have in all of this? As we watched the intentional, murder of George Floyd, and the officers who stood by and watched as Officer Derek Chauvin poured out his hatred for the entire black race on a black man, something had to of burned within us. We must raise our voices and speak up and speak out against such heinous crimes! We must not be silent!
Racism and acts of hate hurt and destroy all of us including those who are racist!
These are perilous times with more to come, unfortunately. None of these events have taken God by surprise for He warns us in His Word that the things that would take place on the face of this earth were going to put us in dangerous and hazardous situations (2Tim. 3:1).
The fact that you are living at this time confirms that God has you here to do your part as a believer. Not only are you and I to be salt and light, but we are to speak out against unrighteousness and injustice just as Jesus did. We have access to an entire world without ever leaving our homes so we have no excuse for not verbally standing up for what is right!
Racism within the body of Christ is the worst of all, in my opinion. I have personally experienced it and challenged it when it was happening. It amazes me how some Christians can justify what they do by calling it something else. I know racism when I see it. Let's just call it what it is! We have a responsibility not to avert our eyes when any brother or sister shows favoritism, exclusion, or prejudice. It is not to be tolerated!
Are Christians of other races outraged by the assaults and murders of black people? Where are their voices, I wonder. Although I know they could never understand the plight of the black man, I do expect that their hearts would be so affected that they couldn't help but speak out against such injustice especially when they have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. How can they remain silent?
As I continue to live through these events, I am permitted, by God, to be angry, but with self control, bringing no offense or harm to any persons. I am to pray for all involved and share the cure for sin, which is salvation, God's saving grace.
God is about inclusion and unity within the body of Christ (Gal. 3:28). We have been brought into oneness in Christ, so let us be about unity, and inclusion within the body of Christ, loving all men!
Proverbs 25:4 "Silver must be purified before it can be used to make something of value." (CEV)
The process of making anything from silver is very interesting. The Refiner has to apply intense heat to remove all the impurities. Once that is done, they now have something of value.
The Bible also uses this imagery in relation to our hearts, and subsequently our lives. How does God go about the refining process with you and I? Well, He applies the heat on us using trials, afflictions, and pressure to remove anything that shouldn't be there. He challenges us concerning the areas of our lives that need tending to, like that lie we told, that act of deception we used on another, and many other things we have fallen prey to. This process can be a painful one.
The end result of every situation God takes us through should make us better. But what happens if we aren't getting better? What happens if we resist His discipline, His correction, and His chastisement? When we resist what God is trying to do in our lives, we remain un-usable, unproductive, non-effective in service, and disqualified for what He planned for us to do.
You see, when the dross (impurities) are removed from our heart, the silver is now able to shine and glisten as it was suppose to. Only the best silver that's tried and true gets to be made into jewelry because by that time it has become valuable enough for people to want to possess it. That is what God is trying to do with us. He wants us to shine so that others will be impacted enough to want their own spiritual relationship with Him.
The flesh (all that is unlike Christ)
Evil speaking, gossip, maligning others
God will put us through fiery trials in order to refine us and make us more like Him. His aim is to produce a vessel that shines forth with great value while putting Him on display at the same time.
Does Your Silver Shine?
There are times we find ourselves in personal situations that require us to make certain decisions. As Christians, generally speaking, we know overall what God's mind is for us but, when it comes to our own individual circumstances, we need a specific word from Him that is tailor-made for us.
It's important to pray openly and honestly about everything we're experiencing or going through; don't leave out any details, even if it's stuff you're not proud of. Let God know that you trust Him enough to handle whatever it is, and do leave the results to Him as well.
Sometimes God will show us an interesting path to take that isn't what we had in mind when we prayed. God has a way of intervening in our lives and guiding us through sticky situations. After all, He knows all of the particulars we're dealing with, He knows all the people who are involved or who may get involved, and He knows all of the possible pitfalls we may encounter. We're just looking at the mountain in front of us, but God sees the falling rocks, the holes, and the dangers as we try to navigate our way through. He's knows which way to go, which way to handle what needs handling, and He knows when it's time to do so.
There may come a time when we need an 'OUT' because it's a no win situation we're looking at. God shows us how to handle those too. I know, I have been there. God is concerned with us growing and prospering in our lives and I'm referring to things that are not spiritual things only. Our everyday lives and the events in it are important to God. Things relating to our jobs, home and family, our health, friends, etc. impact our lives greatly.
God sees all the circumstances we're in. He has something to say about each one. That is why we should commit everything to God in prayer regularly. Don't take anything for granted. There may be relationships that are hindering us from moving forward in life, while there are others that are simply unhealthy for us. We may need to exchange one job for another, or make a crucial decision concerning our health.
God will always let you know when to make a change, when to get a second opinion, and when to simply 'let go'.
Don't make your own decisions about terminating friendships, leaving your job, or considering a particular medical procedure until you speak with God about it, then 'Wait' for His answer. That's very important!
In conclusion, pray about everything, and trust God for your particular situation. Ask God for the wisdom needed to handle whatever challenges you're facing right now. No one, and I mean 'NO ONE' can tell you exactly how to handle your personal affairs! There are ins and outs to every situation. You have to hear from God Himself with specific instructions for each circumstance in your life!