“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

When we truly love the Lord, there is a trust that begins to form and to grow. Through that trust, we begin to see things the Lord’s way, because we trust that He has our best interest at heart. In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord states, “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This was written to the ones who were not only taken captive by the Babylonians, but to the ones who survived the grueling march to Babylon. Some didn’t make it. Whenever we don’t trust in the Lord, we go off course. Whenever we lean to our own understanding, we go off course. Whenever we don’t acknowledge Him, we go off course. Our paths are being directed away from Him and into danger. Our lives are like airplanes and God is the air traffic controller directing us. The pilot is the Holy Spirt. We are trying to make it safely to our destination. We are trying to enter through the narrow gate. The Word tells us in Matthew 7:14, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” We have to trust in God giving the Holy Spirit the coordinates to get us to where we need to be going. When we allow our flesh in the pilot’s seat, we will be headed to destruction where wide is the gate and broad is the way. And guess what, the Bible says you will have plenty of company. There are not many who will accept the call of Proverbs 3:5-6. You will not find many traveling that path with you. It will sometimes get lonely. But if you will not get weary in well doing, the Lord will direct your path to a place where there will be no more dying or sickness. You will be fitted with your white robe and a crown. A place is prepared for you! Don’t you want to go? Let us all be reminded that the road we are all on leads somewhere. Either we are headed down a dead end or down a path of glory. If you are headed down a dead end, there is still time to turn around. And if you are on the path that leads to glory, don’t turn back or turn around.

 

Be blessed and be encouraged.

The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.

1 Samuel 17:3

Israel had gathered their forces at this crucial place and stood in the way of the advancing Philistine army. If the Philistines could push forward without resistance, they would lay claim to the lands of the Israelites which held their capital, their loved ones, and all which they possessed. The two opposing forces were at a stalemate, each facing the other. The reason that neither army would move from their position to attack the other was because it would mean that they would give up their high ground, which was their strategic advantage. It is not strategically sound to fight uphill.

My brothers and sisters, the enemy wants you to give up your high ground. The enemy wants to draw you from where God has elevated you. The enemy tries to pull you down to his level. Don’t fall from where God has placed you by falling for the tactics of the enemy. Don’t fall back into old habits and old relationships.  Rise above petty arguments. Rise above nonsense. Don’t get pulled into drama.  There is too much at stake. You have too much to lose, while the enemy has already lost. The Lord says in Isaiah 54:15, “Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me. Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.”  Whoever the enemy sends at you will fall! You don’t have to fight uphill. Don’t give in to the enemy by giving up your high ground!

Be blessed and be encouraged!

“And Moses built an alter and called its name, The Lord Is My Banner,”

Exodus 17:15

This portion of Scripture began with the Israelites engaged in their favorite past time hobby on their journey to the promised land, complaining.  They complained about everything, and this time was no different.  At some point you would think that they would have figured out that if they were to seek God and would have asked Him for what they needed, rather than mumble and complain about what they needed, the trip would have gone a lot better.  Each journey that we undertake after receiving instructions from God is similar to the children of Israel’s. It is about trust in God.

But now the Israelites must learn to rely on God in battle like they had to learn to depend on Him for food and water, because the Amalakites raised up against them. After Moses instructs Joshua to choose men to go and fight, Moses chose a high place to view the action. As Moses held up his hands to lift up the rod of God, the children of Israel would be victorious. It had less to do with how well the Israelites fought and more to do with God’s power.  When we learn we do not fight our battles in our own power and our own might but with the power of God on the inside of us, we are assured victory.  When we lift up the name of Jesus, rather than lifting up our own name. God is lifting up a standard, so don’t let Him down. When our brothers and sisters get weary, we should be positioned to help hold them up.  If we are the body of Christ, then the arm is in the same fight as the leg. We are united under one banner. The blood-stained banner. All for one and one for all, for that’s the way God intended.

Whatever thing rises up against you this week, know that the victory is already won. God has gone before you and has claimed victory.  God already knows what you need and when you need it.  He is Jehovah Nissi. He is mighty in battle. And after God raises you up victoriously, build an alter on your issue and proclaim that “The Lord is My Banner!”

Be blessed and be encouraged!

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
The struggle is real!  As Christians, we are taught that if we have a struggle we are to take it to God in prayer.  We are taught that God will look upon our condition and our situation and that He will answer our prayer.  Well Paul did as instructed.  Paul didn’t just do it on one occasion, but he pleaded with God on three separate times to remove the thorn in the flesh that was given to him. The answer Paul received was not one that we have been taught enough to receive.  The answer was not one that would call for one to normally rejoice.  The answer was “No.”  We don’t celebrate a “No”, we fall out over a “No”.  The Lord’s response was that He needed not to remove the thing afflicting Paul because the Lord’s grace was sufficient for Paul.  The Lord’s strength or power is at it’s most absolute and complete when we are made weak.  The Lord does not force anything on us.  Our strength is an enemy to His strength.  God has use of our weakness.  How amazing that when we are at our most imperfect, the Lord is perfect.  That’s what grace is.  Something not earned or deserved.  You can’t buy it.  But the Lord gives it freely.  Someone has been looking for an answer to something.  Someone has been praying “God help.”   And in the midst of your pleading and praying, there seems to be no answer given.  Maybe that is your answer.  Maybe the power that you are looking for to get you out of that situation is God’s grace.  Not by your might or your strength, but by just leaning and depending on the Lord.  He doesn’t have to give you healing, when He is healing.  He doesn’t have to give you peace, when He is peace.  There is no peace without Grace.  God is all you need.  Remember this one thing today,  when you are at your lowest, you still have access to a name in which there is none greater in heaven or in the earth.  Not only do you have access to that name, but you have a treasure in earthen vessels whose excellency of power is not of us but of God!  There is something powerful on the inside of you that is made perfect when activated by your weakness.  Don’t have fear, have faith.  Give that struggle to God, and watch Him work it out so you won’t be stressed out!
Be blessed and be encouraged!

Now therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or persuade you like this, and do not believe him; for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers.  How much less will your God deliver you from my hand?

2 Chronicles 32:15

In the early days of Hezekiah being king of Judah, he undertook a remarkable effort to return the hearts of the people to God.  Hezekiah understood that the condition brought on by disobedience was the real reason for the condition of the people.  Sometimes we fail to realize that some of the things that we are going through, some of the things attacking and affecting our health, our families, our finances are due to our reaping from our previous sowing.  Sometimes we don’t reap right off.  Hezekiah was determined to exchange God’s wrath for His protection over Judah.  But Hezekiah realized what so many of us have experienced.  When you get busy for the Lord, the enemy gets nervous.  The king of Assyria, Sennacherib, gathered his forces and encamped around the cities of Judah.  Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib came to make war against Jerusalem. 

Sennacherib sent a messenger to threaten and to place fear in the people.  In those days, although battles were fought by men, each nation had its own god and it was the gods who did battle.  Whichever side arose victorious meant that their god was greater.  But Sennacherib didn’t realize who he was up against because Hezekiah’s God has never lost a battle.  In the taunt of the messenger, he spoke of all the cities, all the people, and all the gods who could not stand against them.  He told them that Hezekiah was misleading them in thinking that their God would allow them to be victorious over their undefeated king, army, and essentially the god of the Assyrians.  That’s where the problem lies.  Hezekiah didn’t serve a god like other nations, he served the one true God.  And because Hezeziah prayed to the only God, and not to any god, the enemy was defeated and God was glorified in victory.

We have Paul to remind us that we are hard-pressed on all sides, yet we are not crushed.  Just like with Hezekiah and the people, we sometimes get surrounded by things with the intent of conquering us.  Taunting us menacingly.  And although we are not crushed, we fill a pressing.  But I have come to remind you that just like with Hezekiah, you serve The only God, not a god, who has never lost a battle.  The Lord who sits on the throne, high and lifted up, whose train fills the temple.  I ask you today, whose word do you believe?  Because Hezekiah turned to the Lord in his hour of need, the Lord heard him and was moved into action.  Although God sits on the throne, He doesn’t mind getting up for His children.  No matter what comes up against you, God is for you.  And if God is for you, who can be against you?  Who or what can prevail over our God?  In your hour of need, go to God.  Make your request known and then watch God move. 

Be blessed and be encouraged!

Then He said to another, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

Luke 9:59

After Jesus was denied passage through a village of the Samaritan’s on His way to Jerusalem, we find Him and his followers making their way on an alternate route. While journeying on the road, three men found themselves in the presence of Jesus. Each man discussed following Jesus, but the second man tells Jesus that he would follow after he returned home to bury his father. This was a stalling technique, the opportunity of a life time had presented itself and the man offered up excuses. How many times have we missed out on an opportunity of a lifetime? How many times have we passed on things that would change our lives and our fortunes? How many times have we missed the call? Our lives only get better by change and not by chance. That thing that is stopping you from following Jesus or following Him more closely is already under the power of Jesus, so give it to Him.  Excuses hinder results.  Jesus is offering you the chance of a lifetime and He wants to change your life and change your posture. Don’t walk back into your past, walk forward into your freedom. Opportunity can set you up for life, or regret can set you up for failure. Why be like the man and walk to death when you can walk with eternal life with Jesus?

Be blessed and be encouraged!

“Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

Genesis 28:15

Jacob was instructed by his mother Rebekah to flee from his father’s home, and to take refuge in Haran. Jacob’s older brother Esau was intent on killing him for stealing his blessing. On the way to Haran, the Lord comes to Jacob in a dream. At the end of the dream, the Lord passes on the promises of Abraham and Isaac to Jacob. This happens during the first few days of Jacob’s journey. What I love about this verse of Scripture is that the Lord assures Jacob of His presence in his life. This is important for anyone who has received a Word from God. God stands with His Word.

If you keep God’s Word, God will keep you.  Not only that, but wherever God’s Word leads you, God will go with you as well. Like Visa, God is everywhere you want to be. David tells us in Psalms 139 that the presence of the Lord is everywhere. If I ascend up into heaven, thou are there. I love the Lord’s assurance to Jacob that wherever he went, the Lord would bring him back to His promise.

Wherever you go, know that the Lord is with you, and He goes with you. His Word is with you and it goes with you. And that same Word is where the Lord will bring you back to. God’s promise for you has not gone anywhere. That Word spoken over you has not left you. God is in the process and in the result. The power of this verse is that in you receiving your promise, the Lord promises that He will not stop working until you get that promise. Hallelujah!

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:1
This letter, written by John, was directed to address the situation of people leaving the church due to disagreements and conflicts. John’s letter was one in an effort to stabilize and to encourage. Trouble had hit the local church in the form of false teachings and doctrines, which created confusion amongst the believers. John’s reference to them as “little children” shows that no matter how we grow and mature in the faith, there is still room to increase in learning. John assures them that they are guaranteed victory over what was going on in their current situation because of the presence of God’s Spirit on the inside of them. And because of the presence of His Spirit, they also had discernment. Discernment is the ability to decide truth from error and it is the responsibility for every Christian to be discerning. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:21, we are to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
We must be careful to listen to the great Holy Spirit that is within us, rather than the confusing spirits that inhabit the world. There are no shortage of teachings and doctrines that possess some semblance of truth. But the old folks have a saying that a partial truth is a whole lie. We are to test the spirit of a thing to see if it is of God. It doesn’t have to pass the smell test, but it does have to pass the spirit test. My nose can be fooled, but the Spirit ain’t nobody’s fool. It doesn’t have to pass the eye test, because we see what we want to see sometimes. The Spirit sees what human eyes cannot see. It doesn’t have to meet the ear test, because it may sound right in my flesh. Nothing but the Holy Spirit is able to give us the discernment needed to make the right decision for our soul. We make decisions everyday, and they range from small to great. Make sure you are using wisdom. Make sure your decisions line up with what the Holy Spirit has instructed.
Be blessed and be encouraged!

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.”

1 Samuel 16:7

Reason #17,988 of why I love the Lord is because it’s not how you look or how you measure up on the outside, but your condition on the inside.  Looks can be and oftentimes are deceiving.  We are sometimes fixated on what we think looks like God, or what we think God is looking for.  What does a sinner look like?  What does a Christian look like?  The answer to both questions may be a surprise to some, however, the answer is the same.  The answer comes as if out of an Outkast song, “Me and you, your mama and your cousin too!”  God doesn’t look at your physical appearance, He looks at the spiritual condition of your heart.

While some of us may profess to possessing the knowledge of this our actions prove something different.  Let us not forget that the Bible says in Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags”.  No one is better than the next.  As a matter of fact, if it had not been for grace and mercy and the Lord on our side, it could and should have been the other way.

The difference is that we had a yes.  Your yes stands out more than your looks and your stature.

God doesn’t hold gold teeth, tattoos, dreads, or what man sees against you because He’s busy looking at your heart. If God used a donkey and a burning bush, why can’t he use someone the world, and even some in the church look at as a nobody?  Someone who has flaws? God chooses the foolish things of the world to put shame to the wise.

God is calling a multitude of people who don’t exactly look like the traditional worshipper. He is calling people out of homosexuality. He is calling people out of drug abuse. He is calling people out of promiscuity.  He is calling people out of alcoholism. He is calling people out of pornography. He is calling people out of the stripclub.

God is calling out all these people and preparing a place where He can deliver, change, and heal them.  God is also calling some of us out as well, because we don’t have the heart to accept them.  We don’t have to accept the sin, but there is a soul attached that we must help.  Just because we don’t look like what we have been through, it doesn’t mean that we hold it against someone else.

If the church is to function as a hospital, we are the spiritual equivalent of the health care worker looking to save the life of every person in need of help. Medical personnel don’t refuse to help people because of their appearance or stature. They have a code of conduct, and the Bible is ours.  Be blessed and be encouraged!

Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week as Jesus entered triumphantly into Jerusalem, cheered on by a crowd while riding a donkey. This moment fulfilled prophecy was recorded in Zechariah 9:9. This was a very busy week in the life of Jesus, there was a lot accomplished in a little bit of time. Jesus knew that His time had come and that there was still much to accomplish. But in all the haste, Jesus never forgot His purpose. Jesus didn’t allow what He was facing to turn Him around. He didn’t allow His feelings to get the best of Him, He would not let betrayal discourage Him, and He didn’t allow what others were or were not doing keep him from purpose. What He was sent to do and what He would become in the lives of so many was far greater.

As we proceed through this week, let us remember Jesus and the great sacrifice He gave for us. Let us be reminded of His single mindedness as it came to His faithfulness and obedience in spite of it all. How He overcame the world, let us adopt the same mind as was in Christ Jesus. Let us be diligent in every undertaking for the Father. Our time on this earth is far spent and one day we will be called home. We too need to accomplish much for God in the little time we have. Stay faithful to the calling, make every moment matter, and keep your hand on the plow until the work is done. Stay on the battlefield until the battle is over.  Our work is not done until we hear those life affirming words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler of many things: enter into the joy of your lord.”

 

Be blessed and be encouraged!