Be Strong in the Lord!

Ephesians 6:10 – Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. NKJV

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Sometimes I like to stop all of the busyness of life and just spend time with God. Of course, writing a blog keeps me in the word and praying, but it’s just nice sometimes to pull away and enjoy Him. So that’s what I have been doing. It was yesterday when He spoke a word to my heart that I didn’t even know I needed to hear, and it blessed me. So I want to share a little bit from our time.

This is an interesting time in my life. I have moved to a new church. I am trying to get a ministry going. And I’m in school again while working full-time. I’m excited and grateful about these endeavors, but sometimes I start to feel overwhelmed with it all.

So here I was, worshipping and praying with no real agenda and no requests I was willing to bring to Him when He spoke to my spirit about being strong. Of course, the first scripture that comes to mind when I think of being strong is our key verse:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Ephesians 6:10 NKJV

I understand that the only strength that I can lay hold to is the strength that I get from relying on Him. I know that even when I don’t realize I need His strength, it’s because He is so good at supplying it. So I completely relate to His encouragement to me to stay connected to His strength at this time.

There are occasions in the Bible where God encouraged others to be strong. A familiar event was when Joshua had to lead the children of Israel after Moses’ death:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9 NKJV

Joshua was hesitant to move out from the place of mourning into the Promised Land. He was hesitant to take Moses’ place. But God spoke to Joshua and told him to be strong and that He would be with him wherever he went.

That’s very encouraging! Especially when you sense in your heart that God is telling you to do a thing or to go to a place that may feel overwhelming to you. Finding a new church, returning to school, preparing for retirement, or getting a new job all comes with uncertainties. They take us out of our comfort zone, the thing that we are used to doing. It’s a great comfort to realize that if He sends us, He’s asking us to trust the plan because He will be with us in the plan. Joshua obeyed God’s voice and found Him to be as faithful as He promised.

Another incident happened to Daniel. He had been fasting and praying when an angel appeared to him:

Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!”

Daniel 10:18 NKJV

Daniel was overwhelmed with the vision that God had shown to him about the children of Israel. What he witnessed caused him to become weak at the knees. But the angel told him to be strong and not to fear. He was strengthened at that moment by the message from God. It’s not always through a transition in your life that you need to be strong. You may need to be strong to be there for others through their difficult moments. Or you may need to be strong as others suffer, knowing that relying on the strength of God is what is needed.

I think of Daniel as I think about the mass shootings that are happening across the country. It’s enough to make you run into the house, lock the doors, and hide. But we have to continue to live and trust God for the strength to not be overcome with grief and fear.

My heart is especially hurting for the school community in Texas. Like the ones in Buffalo, those families are hurting at the senseless violence that has overtaken their lives. These events and others may cause us to become fearful, but in times like these, we must be strong. And we should be praying!

Paul wrote some very encouraging words in 1 Corinthians:

 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NKJV

Stay watchful, and alert! We need not be fearful but must pay attention to our environment when we are out and about. Stand fast in the faith; this is not the time for wavering. God is still good, and He is still on the throne. Where sin abounds, grace abounds the more. Be brave and strong. There is no time for cowering from the enemy; it’s time to pray like never before. And let all that we do be done with love. Don’t give in to hatred and violence. Let love have its perfect work in our hearts! We need His strength today in great measure!

If you are in transition or wondering about how you will make it through a challenging time in your life, you can take heart with these words: Be strong!

Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”

Isaiah 35:4 NKJV

Challenging times are ahead for us all. Transitions will continue to be a part of living. But through it all, God tells us to be strong. I didn’t know I needed those words before I heard them, but I was strengthened when I heard them. Maybe you didn’t realize that you needed to hear them either, but here they are: Be strong! In Him and with Him, we can be strong because His strength is being perfected in us. Wonderful Jesus!

Wait For Confirmation!

1 Samuel 1:23-So Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the Lord establish His word.” Then the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

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The account of the birth of the prophet Samuel is filled with drama. We have Hannah, his mother, who is barren and desperate to have a child. We have Elkanah, her husband, who feels like she should just be glad that she has a wonderful husband who loves her so much. Then there is Penninah, the other wife of Elkanah, who has given him sons and daughters and has no trouble reminding Hannah that she is barren. It’s just a lot going on in this chapter.

But one year, when they go to the feast, Hannah is at her wit’s end with a desire to have a son. While the family is celebrating and eating, she’s fasting and praying, crying out to the God, who seems to be silent to her request. As she is praying, the priest Eli witnesses her lips moving, thinking that she is drunk:

Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Get rid of your wine.”

1 Samuel 1:4 AMP

But Hannah wasn’t drunk with wine but with the misery of being barren. She was pouring out her heart to God. While she was praying, she made a deal with God that if He gave her a son, she would give him back to the Lord to serve the Lord all the days of his life. And although no words were heard, her mannerisms caught the eye of the priest. She explained to Eli that her heart was heavy and she was just crying out to God over the burden of her heart. Then Eli pronounced a blessing over Hannah:

“Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” 

1 Samuel 1:17 AMP

Hannah did indeed receive the petition of her heart from God. When it was time to return to the feast, she told her husband:

I will not go up until the child is weaned; and then I will bring him, so that he may appear before the Lord and remain there as long as he lives.”

1 Samuel 1:22 AMP

Elkanah was not with Hannah when she pledged Samuel to the Lord. Today, mothers may have a say over their children, but they really didn’t have the final say during Hannah’s life and culture. The Bible clearly states that if a wife makes a vow and the husband vetoes it, it is null and void (See Numbers 30:6-8).

Elkanah did not overrule Hannah’s vow, but he cautioned her to be sure that God was confirming His word in the situation. Elkanah’s word to Hannah leaped in my spirit as I reread this account. Making vows, or claiming God said something to us, or that we are obeying the voice of God is not a lite thing before the Lord. Even as New Testament believers, we must be careful of what we attribute to God or what God has said to us.

We can probably all recall a time when we or someone we know has said that God told us to do something. How many brides or grooms have declared with boldness that God told them to marry someone? I know I did! How many of us have heard that God told someone to leave their spouse? I have heard it on more than one occasion. How many people have said that God has called them into the ministry? It’s not uncommon to hear people say that God told them to do something.

In Hannah’s case, she promised God to give Him Samuel permanently. Her husband told her to be sure that God was in what she was doing because once it was done, it was done! Trusting God to confirm a decision that we are making is wisdom. David wrote these words:

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Psalm 37:5 NKJV

When God is in the decision-making process, His stamp of approval is on the decision. When we say that we need to make a decision and we don’t have time to wait on God, that’s a clear sign that we need to wait on Him. There are some decisions that we can’t afford to get wrong, and having God confirm a word to us or from us can say a lot of pain and disappointment in the future.

I mentioned that I was a person who said that God told me to marry my husband. We met in a military airport in Sicily, and he invited me to dinner. I wasn’t hungry, but I went with him. He seemed to be known by people at the airport (he was a pilot), and many saw me leave with him. I took the risk. We had a nice time sharing our faith in the Lord.

A few months later, he called me at my base in Italy, on a whim. I was passing by the payphone and just happened to answer it. Months later, when we were both back in the states, I called his base looking for him, as I had promised. We decided to get together. He told me that God had said I was to be his wife on our second date. That wasn’t my first time hearing that from a man, but I decided I needed to pray because I really liked him.

My prayer to God was simple, “Is this the one, or do I look for another?” I heard God speak to my spirit, and He told me to look no further. We were married four months later and have been married for 35 years. Not cohabitating and barely making it, but living in a loving, God-centered relationship. It wasn’t enough for him to tell me what God said. I needed to have God confirm that to me.

Through the years, I have genuinely come to appreciate the confirmation of what I believe God is saying to me. When I trust Him and wait for His confirmation, He brings to pass the thing that I am trusting Him for. When I don’t wait, I have to pray to get through something I could have avoided. Not always things that could be considered sin but things that drain my time and energy, or become problematic in getting it done.

Jesus spoke to Ananias about visiting Saul on the street called Straight. Ananias didn’t move until he was sure Jesus wanted him to do that. God wanted Peter to go over to Cornelius’ house to share the gospel. Knowing that Peter would need confirmation to do this, God spoke to him in a vision. Paul wanted to go to Asia to preach, but God didn’t confirm it, He sent Paul to Macedonia instead. Mary was told that she would give birth to Son of God, but she wanted confirmation that the angel wasn’t leading her astray. He said to her that Elizabeth was pregnant in her old age.

Throughout the word of God, in both the Old and New Testament, is a validation of the truth of what Elkanah said to Hannah, “Be sure that God is speaking”! Taking time to hear from God about any decision is a good thing; however, taking time for important decisions is wise. Remember, that if you ever feel like you don’t have to wait for God, that is a clear indication that you need to wait on God. Wonderful Jesus!

Remember the Lord!

 Deuteronomy 8:18- “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” NKJV

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There are things, people, and events in life that we feel as if we will never forget. I will never forget the night I was filled with the Spirit of God. I will never forget the first time I met my husband. I will never forget the birth of our girls, the first time I preached.

But then there are some things I hope to never remember again. If possible, I wish to have amnesia over those events so that they can be permanently removed from my psyche. Sadly, that’s not how it goes.

Interestingly, we have difficulty letting go and forgetting those things we shouldn’t remember while having difficulty remembering those things we should remember.

Such was the case with the children of Israel. As the children of Israel stood before the Red Sea with the army of Egyptians coming toward them, they soon forgot all of the plagues and thus the miraculous signs that God had performed in Egypt:

Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”

Exodus 14:11-12 NKJV

They forgot how horrible it was to be in Egyptian bondage, and they forgot how mighty God was in the face of their difficulties. Faced with possible death, or so they thought, they could not remember God. Neither could they remember His works. All they saw at that time was the Red Sea before them, the army behind them, and they remembered Egypt. But they should have been working to forget Egypt!

Later, when they arrived at the Promised Land, Moses sent out twelve spies. Ten returned with a negative report, while two returned with a report of hope, vision, and the possibilities with God. Listen to the response of the children of Israel when they heard there were giants in the land:

 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!… So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”

Numbers 14:2,4 NKJV

They forgot God again! They forgot about the crossing over on dry land and the parting of the Red Sea. They forgot about water coming out of the rock. They forgot about bitter water turning into sweet water at Meribah. And they forgot about being delivered by the mighty hand of God from Egypt. As a matter of fact, they wanted to return.

In Deuteronomy 8, Moses takes time to share with the children of Israel the Law. And in doing this, he takes them down memory lane to remind them of the goodness of the Lord to them, exhorting them not to forget the Lord:

Remember the Lord, Moses cried!

  • Remember, He brought you out of the land of Egypt!
  • Remember, He kept you these forty years in the wilderness!
  • Remember, He fed you with manna!
  • Remember, He didn’t allow your clothes to wear out!
  • Remember, He didn’t allow your feet to swell from all of that walking around!
  • Remember, He is giving you this good land that He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Remember the Lord!

Why would Moses have to tell them to remember the God that they had experienced, just as he had? The God who had been so good to them? Moses answers this question:

And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth

Deuteronomy 8:18a NKJV

Moses understood that the promised land had many blessings for the children of Israel, and he understood the dangers of wealth! Moses knew that when life was no longer difficult for them and they had all of their material needs met, they could easily think that they had done all of this independent of God!

No longer to be slaves depending on others for their next meal, a corner to sleep in, or a ration of oil. When you get into this land, abundance is waiting for you, and you will be wealthy. But I caution you, Moses said, remember the Lord, for He is prospering you! He will be the reason you succeed!

Moses continues to tell them why they are walking into a land of great wealth:

That He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers,

Deuteronomy 8:18b NKV

God promised Abraham that 400 years after his death, He would bring Abraham’s descendants to Canaan to inherit the land. God promised Abraham a nation of people. God promised that He would be with them and would prosper them. God fulfilled the covenant that He swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when they entered the promised land. Because of this fulfillment, Moses told the children of Israel that they were not to forget God but to remember Him!

That message rings with just as much warning today as it did when Moses originally spoke it. We are to remember the Lord our God because He is the One who enables us to get wealth. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty wealthy compared to my parents. Actually, I’m pretty wealthy now compared to my beginnings. My first job yielded me $1.85 an hour, approximately 75 dollars a week. I make more than 75 dollars in a day today! I am wealthy! To God be the glory! I was thankful then, and I am grateful now. Even more so because I remember that the Lord has prospered me.

How Americans see wealth, I am not even close to being wealthy, but when I look back on where I came from to where I am now, I most definitely am wealthy. Again, to God be all the glory! My husband and I enjoy walks in the evenings where we talk about what’s going on in our lives, with our ladies, church, or jobs. And we always walk back in the door, grateful! God has not only been good to us, but He is also good to us now! We can’t contribute our lives to our smarts or our abilities, only to God! And guess what? Neither can you!

No matter where you are in regard to material wealth, all that you have is because God has been good to you! It doesn’t matter if you have a bunch of letters following behind your name or before your name; you have gotten to that place of success because God has been good to you! It may seem like your talent opened that door or got you that great record deal or contract with the team, but it was God, not you! And if you haven’t remembered that in a while, I encourage you to stop and remember today that it is the Lord who enabled you to gain the wealth you have today!

Why? To establish His covenant in the earth for we are blessed with Abraham:

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Galatians 3:13-14 NKJV

Thank God for Jesus! All we have, all we are, is because of Him and through Him! Remember the Lord, for it is He who has empowered you to become wealthy! Wonderful Jesus!

It Doesn’t Matter Where You Go!

1 Samuel 10:21-22- And Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they sought him, he could not be found. Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, “Has the man come here yet?” And the Lord answered, “There he is, hidden among the equipment.”

I love the fact that God doesn’t have to look for me because He always knows where I am at! I was reminded of this truth in the Bible just this week.

Take Saul as an example! Saul was the son of a powerful man in the tribe of Benjamin, whose name was Kish. The Bible shares the fact that Saul was tall and handsome. He had everything going for him, and I am sure that he felt it was enough. Then one day, his father’s donkeys turned up missing. Why Kish asked Saul to go with a servant to look for the donkeys, he probably couldn’t say, but he did. And Saul went.

While Saul was out hunting for the donkeys, he met Samuel the prophet. Samuel proceeded to tell Saul that he was chosen by God to be king but to keep it to himself for the moment. On the day that it was time for the anointing, Saul was nowhere to be found. As a matter of fact, Samuel had to get divine help to find out where Saul had disappeared to:

But when they sought him, he could not be found. Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, “Has the man come here yet?” And the Lord answered, “There he is, hidden among the equipment.”

1 Samuel 10:22 NKJV

God told them exactly where to find Saul. He was hiding among the equipment. Here God is getting ready to have him anointed as the king of Israel, and he is in hiding. When God has an assignment on your life, you can run and even hide, but He knows where you are at. Even when you change your locale, He isn’t surprised by it, and it changes nothing!

Jonah would be able to tell you that! God had an assignment for Jonah! Jonah didn’t want to do the assignment. So he left his home and got on a boat headed in the opposite direction.

But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Jonah 1:3 NKJV

Jonah was a prophet of God, and yet he hadn’t realized that he couldn’t flee the presence of God! Even David understood this truth!

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

Psa;m 139 NKJV

Yet, Jonah ran, only to run smack dab into God! There is no getting away from Him! David said,

If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139:8-10 NKJV

If you have been trying to outrun God, stop wasting your time, because you cannot do it. Wherever you go, He is already there. That should bring comfort and not fear. That should make you shout and not fret, because He cares enough about you, about us, to always know where we are at!

Cornelius’ encounter with God also sheds light on the fact that God knows where we are at all times. Cornelius was a Gentile in the Italian army. Somehow he had become interested in the God of Israel and had begun to pray and to give as a way to acknowledge the faith he had embraced.

About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God

Acts 10:3-4 NKJV

God took notice of Cornelius’ alms and his prayers and sent an angel to him. God wanted to bless Cornelius but He wanted to use Peter to bless him. Peter wasn’t at home, and God knew that, but He also knew where Peter was lodging and what he was doing.

Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” 

Acts 10:5-6 NKJV

God knew exactly where Peter was at that precise moment, and he told Cornelius. In faith, Cornelius sends his servants to the address given to him, and Peter is there. I’ve heard people say that if you aren’t at church when God starts blessing, you will miss out on your blessing. Maybe! But since God knows where you live, He can come to where you live, work, or even vacation, and bless you! All addresses are known to Him and by Him!

Another person who can testify to this matter is also named Saul, but his name was changed to Paul. Saul was headed to Damascus to round up some more Christians to persecute when he ran into Jesus. After his encounter with Jesus, he was blinded for a time. Some men who were traveling with him took him to a place to stay. While he was there, God spoke to Ananias, His servant:

So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

Acts 9:11-12 NKJV

Ananias wasn’t interested in meeting up with Saul, the persecutor. But God wanted to use Ananias to bless Saul. God gave Ananias the exact location of where Saul was at that time, and Ananias found him as the Lord said that he would!

We serve an amazing God. Whenever we try and place Him in a box with our theology or our experiences, we should know that it isn’t happening. It doesn’t matter where we go in this life, God will always be able to find us because He never loses sight of us. He knows where we are at all times and He knows how to get people to us to bless us! If we run from Him, that only shows our lack of faith that we can’t outrun God or hide from Him. But over and again He has shown us in His word that we are important enough to Him that we can’t hide from His presence!

And why would we even want to hide from His presence, when He loves us and wants what is best for us! Wonderful Jesus!

Jacob’s Mom!

Genesis 25:21-22- Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah, his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her, and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. NKJV

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How well I remember carrying each of our girls. Some of the memories are fond, and some of them are not. But I remember well the times I would pray over them as they were in my womb. As I have watched them over the years turn into the godly young women that they are, I see the fruitfulness of those prayers.

Rebekah was the wife of Isaac, and the Bible says that she was barren. Isaac knew that God could provide children to a barren woman; after all, his mom had been barren and gave birth to him in her old age. So Isaac prayed to God and asked Him to bless Rebekah with a child. God responded and blessed her with twins, Jacob and Esau!

They didn’t have ultrasounds at that time, so there was no help to tell her what was going on inside her womb. Although she had never experienced pregnancy before, she noticed that something was going on in her womb that seemed to be unusual. Not that ultrasound would have been able to help her!

But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

Genesis 25:22 NKJV

Rebekah prayed about the children in her womb. She wanted to know what was happening inside of her and why? God responded:

“Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.”

Genesis 25:23 NKJV

Wow! That’s a lot to take in. Rebekah may have known that she had two babies, but she didn’t know that she was carrying two nations in her womb. That’s pretty special! Before she could rejoice over that, God revealed to her that one nation would be stronger than the other and that the older son would serve the younger son.

I am sure that Rebekah didn’t know what to make of this word from God. We know that she was a wise young lady when she was chosen to be Isaac’s bride. We know from the scriptures that he loved her, and she was a great comfort to him. Things were going well, and now she would give birth to two mighty men who would both be patriarchs of their own nation. What was she to do moving forward?

As a mother, I learned early the value of praying over our children. Not wanting to take anything from their wonderful father, today it’s not about him! I prayed about everything concerning them. I prayed about the schools they attended, their teachers, their assignments, and their friends. I prayed about them coming to know Jesus at a young age and that their salvation would be real and their convictions would be strong. I prayed they would love God, love to work in His kingdom, be tithers, stay chaste, etc.

I prayed about the paths they would walk in and the careers they would choose, and I prayed and am still praying for the godly men that will someday claim their hearts. No matter how old children are, they will always require our prayers.

Motherhood isn’t easy, but it is special. As our children’s first teachers, we can greatly influence their lives. We can be a positive source of influence or negatively influence them. With Rebekah’s twins, we can see that her grown children may have had a different perspective on how their mother influenced their lives. Whatever they would say, we are sure that she did influence both of their lives.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.

Psalm 127:4 NKJV

A warrior directs his aim in the path he wants his arrow to travel. Much like we are to direct our children. We shouldn’t force our children to go a certain way, but we can certainly nurture and point them in certain directions.

One day I walked into the room where my husband and one of our daughters were conversing. She shared with him that she wanted to take a year off from her academics. In her junior year, she was completing high school and wanted to work on her music. I listened for a few minutes, and then I said that she had two options: stay in high school for her senior year or begin college. Those were her only choices. She wasn’t happy at the time, but she went to college and did well. She was an excellent student, and while I wasn’t interested in telling her what she had to major in, I felt it was important to let her know that she had to stay in school. (Again, not taking anything away from the influence of her father, because she followed in his footsteps in so many ways, it’s funny!)

We were spared a lot of trauma and drama in raising our girls through the years. Prayer was the vehicle that kept me sane as the mother of three beautiful, talented, and independent-thinking young ladies. Whether I was praying with my husband, my friends, or solo, I learned to take our girls to God in prayer.

That’s how Rebekah started her journey of motherhood. She prayed about her children. While the Bible doesn’t give us much information about her relationship with them, we know that she had a favorite son, Jacob. We also know that she decided God needed her help in bringing about His will in Jacob’s life. I’m sure I didn’t do it all correctly, either. But I wonder what Rebekah’s sons would have been if she had ended the way she started? Inquiring of the Lord!

Nevertheless, Rebekah’s son Jacob became Israel, patriarch of the nation of Israel. His life was a challenge since he was named a deceiver, but Jacob went on to have some real encounters with the Lord. God was with him when he went to live with Laban. We know that because he met God on the way and had the kind of encounter we all would like to have:

Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Genesis 28:12 NKJV

Jacob knew that God was in that place. He decreed that if God would be with him and bring him back safely to his father’s land, God would be his God. On his way back home, he had another encounter with God where God changed his name from Jacob to Israel! Rebekah’s son may have not gotten it all right at the beginning of his years, but he did in his later years.

Mothers! It isn’t too late to start praying over your children! If you started and slacked off, take up the challenge again. Prayer makes all the difference in the lives of our children. Even when we pray, there are so many obstacles and challenges before our children, but praying minimizes and even stops a lot of the plans of the wicked one. I believe that when Jacob left his mother to go to her brother’s home, she once again began to pray. His latter years were greater than his first! He had an encounter with God that put him on God’s path for him. I believe his mother was a great part of that!

Let me take this time to wish every mother a wonderful time on the day that is all about you, Mother’s Day! We do our best, pray our way through, and trust God! None of us are perfect but know that we are perfectly suited to raise our children; that’s why they are ours! Be encouraged, and keep up the great work that God has given you! Wonderful Jesus!

Rooted & Built Up!

Colossians 2:6-7- As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. NKJV

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In my last blog, we looked at the first part of this verse and discussed what it looks like to make an adjustment in our lives as we walk before the Lord. There is no way to come in contact with the Word of God and remain unaffected. A change must come!

Paul says that we are to be rooted in Christ. We may recall from a science class that the roots of a plant draw water and nutrients necessary for the plant’s life. A spiritual connection is most definitely found in this natural analogy.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV

A tree or plant with good roots produces good fruit. So is the believer in Christ! We are blessed and fruitful. We don’t become afraid because of heat or drought. The weather doesn’t affect the tree any more than circumstances affect us because our hope and trust is in the Lord! We are rooted in Him!

Paul also encouraged us to be built up in Him! Paul wrote this to the church of Ephesus:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV

Isn’t this wonderful news? We are no longer strangers, sinners, without God. We are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s own household. As such, we are being built on the same foundation that the apostles and prophets of the New Testament was built on, and Jesus is the chief cornerstone! In layman terms, the cornerstone joins two walls together so that they won’t fall apart!

Jesus joined the Jews and the Gentiles together in Him. Everything is being fitted together that we might grow into a holy temple in the Lord. Not only that, we are being built together to be a dwelling place for God in the Spirit!

Paul is not referencing a casual acquaintance with the Lord. He is not even thinking of a shallow knowledge of the Lord. Paul is instructing us, the church, how to be anchored or rooted in Christ, then he tells us why this is so important. God wants to dwell in holy vessels, and He wants to dwell in us. Therefore, we must be holy as He is holy! Peter said it like this:

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:4-5 NKJV

What a blessing to think that God has such high standards for us. He doesn’t see us as some ole dirty worthless worm. No! He says through His apostles that we are being built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices that He finds acceptable through Jesus! That’s amazing!

Lastly, Paul encourages us to be established in the faith! I believe the New Living Translation helps us to understand Paul’s train of thinking:

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:7 NLT

This reference to faith refers to the truth that we believe about Jesus! We need to be fixed, strong, established in the what we believe. Paul had to continuously encourage the Jewish and Gentile believers to remain established in the teachings of Jesus. It was tempting, maybe even easy, to fall back and that which they were comfortable with, but Paul knew the dangers of that:

But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

Colossians 1:23 NLT

This encouragement is necessary today for us! Stuff is floating all over the internet and the television waves. If we aren’t careful to remain established in the truth of God’s word, we may find ourselves away from His word and involved in some other things that resembled Him but, in the end, weren’t Him. Paul suggested that we stick with what we were taught about Jesus! The only time we leave that, is when we realize it wasn’t truth at all.

For example. Some people believe that Paul teaches that it is best to live as a single person and to remain celibate. That’s not what he teaches. He teaches that it is okay to be married and it’s okay to be single. However you find yourself, do it for the glory of God. And yes, single people should be celibate! So if you were told you had to be single to truly serve God and therefore you shunned marriage, that would be an instance where you can leave that teaching because it is not scriptural. I hope that makes sense!

Then Paul tells us to do all of this, abounding in it with thankfulness. The life of the believer should be a life that abounds. Abounding gives a picture of living your best life! God wants us to live our best life! He isn’t calling us to barely get by or even think our life has to resemble another person’s life. He wants us to live the best life that He has for us, with thanksgiving!

I don’t need to explain what thanksgiving looks like! We all understand what it looks and sounds like. All-day long, and every chance we get, we should be giving Him thanks for all He has done!

If we are rooted, built up and established in the Lord, it is because He has His hand on our lives, and we are being led by His Spirit! That’s something for which we should all be thankful! Wonderful Jesus!

Make the Adjustment!

Colossians 2:6- As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. NKJV

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Paul starts by saying that as we have received Christ the Lord, we are to walk in Him. What does that mean? I like how the Amplified version reads:

As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him.

Colossians 2:6 AMP

According to this version of the scriptures, our walk in the Lord is a regulation of our lives and conduct that agree with Him and adapt to Him. In other words, once we become Christians, although we are physically the same people, (though some of us change even outwardly), our lives ought to change.

Let’s stop and think about what it means to regulate our lives. Webster defines the term regulate as:

To adjust by rule, method or established mode; as, to regulate weights and measures; to regulate the assize of bread; to regulate our moral conduct by the laws of God and of society; to regulate our manners by the customary forms.

Webster Dictionary, 1828

I find it interesting that to regulate means to adjust. Many people who come into the church today believe that the gospel has to adjust to them. Because God is such a loving God, He made exceptions for them and their sin and they don’t have to adjust to Him or His laws. The church and other believers have to lovingly adjust to them if we are followers of Christ. That’s not how the scripture reads.

When we received the Lord Jesus, it was because at that moment in time we saw ourselves as He saw us, people in need of a Savior. People who understood that we were lost, perishing, without a way to make things better. So we called out to Him for salvation. And He delivered it! At that time, we were willing to do whatever needed to be done to receive Jesus and His salvation. That’s how we first received Him.

We also received Him by faith. I like how Paul described that moment in time:

 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed… 

Ephesians 1:13 NKJV

Paul said that we trusted in Him after we heard the word of truth! Truth and His goodness brought us to the altar of repentance where we first believed. So according to our text, we are to walk in the truth of the gospel that caused faith for salvation to rise in our souls! Pretty simple!

Then we are to adjust our lives to the truth of His holy word. Not what others think that looks like, for example (long dresses, no make-up, no fashion sense, or a somber personality)! Please!!

But there are some things that the word says that we need to adjust to. I’ll share only a few quick ones:

Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

Ephesians 4:25 NKJV

Yes! If you lied to save yourself embarrassment or penalty of consequences, you are to adjust your lifestyle to that of an individual who now tells the truth. Will you slip? Probably! But if you trust it to the Savior and ask for His help, you will experience much more victory! The adjustment is worth it!

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 

Ephesians 4:26 NKJV

How is that possible? Simple when your anger is righteous indignation! When you get angry about the things that God gets angry about. How do you keep from sinning? Pray! Take that anger to God and let Him show you His perspective, or what He wants you to do about a thing. I get angry when I see people living beneath their privilege in Christ. I don’t walk up to them and yell, “Hey! Don’t you know God has so much more for you? Just stop it already!” No! I go to God and pray for them asking Him is there something more that I am supposed to be doing? Sometimes it is yes, and sometimes I just pray and keep moving. Make adjustments!

Nor give place to the devil.

Ephesians 4:27 NKJV

Walking in the Lord means that you don’t give place to the devil! He was your master, but you now have a greater Master, Jesus! So there should not be a sense of obligation to yield to every negative thing that the devil throws at you! Adjust your life!

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

Ephesians 4:28 NKJV

This is what an adjustment looks like! If you were a thief, stop stealing! Go get a job and obtain your money and things in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord! Someone I know had her car stolen. It’s ridiculous to think that you work and get a car or anything, and some thief comes along and thinks they have a right to it! No! So stop being that person and adjust to the person Christ wants you to be!

Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].

Ephesians 4:29 AMP

I had to return to the Amplified to get some help! Unwholesome words that are foul, profane, worthless, or vulgar should not come out of your mouth. Maybe you had a potty mouth before you came to Jesus, but you have to adjust to having a clean mouth. Your speech has to be for building up others and blessing people, not that other stuff you used to do! Adjust, adjust, adjust! We all have to!

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him], by whom you were sealed and marked [branded as God’s own] for the day of redemption [the final deliverance from the consequences of sin].

Ephesians 4:30 AMP

Here’s a beautiful picture of regulating our lives in Him. We seek to please Him and not to cause Him grief! Whatever we had in our old lives that caused us to see our need for the Savior was as displeasing to Him then as they are now! You cannot continue to live life as you have always lived it! There should be a change. A notable change! A “people looking at you like you are strange” change! How about a change that makes your “old friends run from you” change! Adjustment is a must! For all of us! Seeking to please Him brings about an undeniable change!

This was not my original intent for the blog tonight but since it is flowing, I’ll flow with it!

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]

Ephesians 4:31

We have to regulate our lives according to His word. We can’t say we act a certain way because of our age! We can’t fall back on our background or personality or anything else as a valid reason for ungodly behaviors and attitudes. We have to adjust to the One who has saved us and delivered us. It’s a lifetime of adjusting. It doesn’t always happen overnight, although the miraculous does occur. Mostly, and honestly, we get up every single day (it seems) deciding to adjust our lives and attitudes to His life and attitude.

Wonderful Jesus!

Though the Mountains Shake!

Psalm 46:2-3- Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah NKJV

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There are times when I have to stop and focus on the Lord! That is what this week has been for me, our time. As I sit here right now, all I can think about is the majesty of God!

The psalmist wrote:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1 NKJV

God is! He is as real today as He was when the psalmist penned these words, or when He introduced Himself in Genesis. He is as real today as when He spoke to Noah and told him to build the ark, or to Abram when He told him to leave his land. God is real!

The writer of Hebrews wrote:

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is

Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

Faith begins with realizing that God is! There are times when people say that “He is up high but He looks down low” and I want to say that God may reside in the heavens, but He is right here with us also. Not distanced and waiting to be called, but with us already.

The psalmist told us that God is our refuge. Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives us this meaning for refuge:

That which shelters or protects from danger, distress or calamity; a strong hold which protects by its strength, or a sanctuary which secures safety by its sacredness; any place inaccessible to an enemy.

Webster Dicitionary 1828

The psalmist used the word for refuge to help us to gain a picture of the God we serve. He is the One who shelters and protects us from danger, distress, or calamity. He is a stronghold for us and protects us by His strength. He is our sanctuary and therefore He secures our safety by His holiness. And when we are in Him, we are inaccessible to the enemy.

I know human nature. You may be thinking that isn’t your testimony. You can name how Sister So and So had something really bad happen to her and she was a devout Christian. You and I both probably can name more than one. However, the word says:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1 NKJV

Maybe we need to start focusing on what the word says about God, trusting that word, and leaving the rest for Him to worry about. For He is our refuge and our strength!

I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:1-2 NKJV

David realized that God was his refuge and his strength. When David went up against Goliath, he did it in the strength of his God. When he went out against the Philistines, he did so in the strength of his God. Our God.

Today I was remembering when my brother passed away. The day I found out was also the day I was scheduled to teach Bible study. I hurt desperately, but I needed to spend time in the Word so that grief wouldn’t overcome me. Therefore, I decided to teach anyway. But I knew it was impossible to accomplish in my strength, so I traded my weakness and pain for His strength. He didn’t fail me. He’s never failed to provide the strength that I have needed because He is my Strength!

Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Psalm 46:2-3 NKJV

Trouble will find its way to our doors, as it found its way to David’s door! The psalmist knew where his help and his strength came from, just as David knew.

He said that he chose not to fear. David said the same thing in one of his psalms, that he chose not to fear. He was a warrior in the true nature of being a warrior. He faced death at the edge of a sword on many occasions. He fought God’s enemies and his own enemies. His life was in danger and he was a wanted man, so David had to remind himself not to embrace fear. And there are going to be times in our lives when we will have to remind ourselves not to fear, and to keep trusting God!

The psalmist wrote that if the earth moved, he wasn’t going to allow fear to overtake him. He said that if the mountains were carried into the sea, he wasn’t giving into fear. Mountains being carried into the sea is pretty impossible, but the psalmist said that if it was possible for the mountains to be carried into the sea, he wasn’t giving into fear. He was probably looking at those mountains in Jerusalem when he penned those words!

Then he spoke of waters roaring and being troubled. That psalmist didn’t know what we know, but he believed anyway; his God was Lord over the troubled waters! In Matthew 14, Jesus walked on top of troubled waters that rocked the boat and caused fear to arise in the disciples’ hearts! But the psalmist didn’t know that Jesus would walk on water, he understood that Jesus could walk on water! So a tumultuous sea didn’t bother him because his trust was in the One who was his refuge and his strength! We know Jesus walked on troubled waters, and we know He parted waters, so we can take heart in the midst of troubled waters!

In the next part of this verse, the psalmist said that even if the mountains started to shake at the swelling of the seas, he was going to be alright! In other words, if the waters in the sea got out of control and caused the mountains to shake, he wasn’t going to participate! He was sticking with God!

Our society is looking like it is out of control. Stuff is happening everywhere! People are groaning and moaning about the state of things. Who can we trust? We can trust God in the midst of the chaos! Stating that He is our refuge and strength is more than a cliche, more than positive thinking! It’s more than just willing ourselves to think of good things. It’s declaring like the psalmist that our trust is in the God who is! The God who delivered David over and over again. The One who delivered the children of Israel countless times. The God who walked on water, and even spoke to it to be still! The One who has delivered you and me out of some tough situations. The One who will do it again!

You may have to open your mouth and declare out of the hard place that your God is God and there is none besides Him! You may have to declare that whatever your situation is, you will not give in to fear! You can speak to those raging waters and tell them you take courage in Jesus! You can speak to the storms of life and tell them you will not be moved because as you speak words of truth, you agree with God!

Find peace and safety in the God who is! The God who is your refuge and your strength! The God who is whatever you need today. Decide that even if the mountains start shaking at all the trouble going on, your help and trust is in the Lord, and you are not afraid! Wonderful Jesus!

Planted By Rivers of Waters-Repost!

Psalm 1:3 – “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” NKJV

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planted-by-rivers-of-waters.mp3

When I saw this picture, it certainly reminded me of our text for today! Waters flowing, greenery on both sides of the river, and a call to the soul of anyone who loves the great outdoors! Unfortunately, that isn’t me! I can enjoy beautiful scenery like this, or in a movie; but when it comes to this type of nature, let’s just say, I’ll pass! Having said that, I can see the imagery that the psalmist was painting when he said that a blessed man shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.

I pick up verse 3 today, but I must revisit verse 2. We’ve already discussed that a blessed man loves God’s law. In our case, that would be the Bible. A godly man, who loves the Word, is a man who is planted, rooted, and grounded in the Word. He draws his spiritual strength and nourishment from God’s word, much as a tree draws water and nutrients from a river, which is necessary for sustaining life and growth!

The prophet Jeremiah used similar words to describe the man who is blessed:

Jeremiah 17:7-8 – “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord . For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” NKJV

Jeremiah confirms that a man who is blessed is a man with roots! Roots are important to the tree, but they are also important to the soil. Roots give stability to the tree and provide it with nutrients, but it also keeps the soil from eroding. Stable people have a way of keeping those around them, from falling apart. Their strength is easily transferable to those who may be in need, being a blessing because they are blessed.

The psalmist tells us three important things about this tree that is planted, which we understand symbolizes a blessed man:

First, it brings forth its fruit in its season. This sounds a lot like dependability. As a kid I ate a lot of fruit from the trees in the neighborhood: pears, plums, and figs, to name a few. We knew in the summer that we would be able to play outside all day without the need to go in for lunch because we were surrounded by fruit-bearing trees. Some neighbors would ask us to help them harvest the trees and would allow us to have access to them when we wanted them. And honestly, sometimes we would just go and take what we wanted! We depended on those trees in the summertime. When Jesus went to the fig tree and found no fruit, I can well imagine His disappointment in that tree! A godly man is expected to have good fruit in his season, just as we expect fruit to be on fruit-bearing trees in their season!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

This blessed man is an attractive man. I already shared my husband’s way with our girls, but let me tell you, I’m his number one girl. When we met, I saw the fruit of the spirit in his life and was drawn to him. Are you looking for a husband? Make sure he is bearing the fruit of godliness and not just talking about it. Talk is really cheap when you are thinking of committing yourself to a marital relationship! Look for the real deal!

Second, its leaf shall not wither. Jeremiah helps us to understand this a little better. He writes that the leaf will be green and will not be anxious in a drought. He’s planted by waters. Photosynthesis is always happening within a tree that is well-watered and filled with nutrients from that water. Therefore, the leaves are healthy, vibrant, and green. Even in a drought, it doesn’t affect the tree by the waters. Blessed people are not concerned in times of famine or drought because they are planted near the flow of life; a river whose stream makes glad! The Word is a great source of nourishment in a drought. This pandemic has created a drought for many, but those planted in the Word, are still flourishing! Their leaves are still green and healthy! Does that mean that they don’t experience hardship? Not at all! But when things settle down, the blessed will be found standing!

Lastly, whatever he does shall prosper. That’s what God told Joshua!

Joshua 1:8 – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” NKJV

The word of God causes us to prosper and to have good success! God said it several times and in several ways. The blessed man will be successful and prosperous! It doesn’t get any plainer than that! If you are a carpenter, then God will cause your carpentry to prosper and be successful. If you are a teacher, like I am, then God can cause you to be successful and prosper. Whatever the arena, wherever you go, your way will prosper and you will have good success!

Let me stop here and say what Jesus said many times, “Be it done to you according to your faith!” If you believe this is only about your spiritual well-being, then that’s where you will prosper and have good success. If you believe this applies to your finances and life, again, that’s what you will have. But if you believe it applies to everything that God has for you, including, “every spiritual blessing”, and every natural benefit, yep, that’s what you will receive.

I just sensed that sometimes, we don’t feel like we are blessed because of a lack of material things, the trials we go through, or the fact that we are still single, childless, or jobless. These things can mark the blessed person’s life. But what I wanted to help you to understand, is what God has helped me to understand: the most blessed person in the world is the person who is living their life with God by His standards! And when you get these other things, they won’t pull you off because you know they are the benefits of you being blessed and not the things that make you blessed! Hope that makes sense! Wonderful Jesus!