Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Hab 3:17-18)~ When we see troubles approach, stress can do a number on us; from putting up walls of personal defense to outright panic. A good hope through grace is founded in Holy fear. When things happen in life, we must look back upon the experiences we’ve come through before, and observe what great things God has done for us, and so we can not only recover from our stresses, but be filled with Holy joy. We must resolve to delight and triumph in the Lord; for even when all is gone, God is not gone. Those who, when things are great and rich in life enjoyed God in all, when emptied and poor, can still enjoy all in God. They can sit down upon the heap of the ruins of their creature- comforts, and even then praise the Lord, as the God of their salvation, the salvation of the soul, and rejoice in Him as such, in their greatest distresses. Joy in the Lord is especially good to us when we meet with losses and crosses in the world. Even when earthly provisions are cut off, we may be supplied by the graces and comforts of God’s Spirit. Then we shall be strong for spiritual warfare and work, and with enlargement of heart may run the way of His commandments, and outrun our troubles. And we shall be successful in spiritual undertakings. What began our times with fear and trembling, will end with joy and triumph. When a negative depressing thought pops into your mind, count your blessings, and continue counting them, until your thoughts move in a positive direction. Positive thoughts restore positive perspective. Take positive action! It is the only appropriate response to negative thoughts. They are not welcome, and they don’t stand a chance when you take positive action. Keep your head up! God can handle this…so SO CAN YOU!
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing (Phil 3:13-16)~~ Today I can choose to carry over the upsets and negativities of yesterday, but I woke up early today, excited about all that I get to do before the day is over. Indeed I have responsibilities to fulfill because today, like every day before, I get to choose the kind of day I am going to have. Today, I can choose to complain because the weather may be rainy, or I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free. Today, I can choose to grumble about my health, or I can rejoice that I am alive. Today, I can choose to be regretful about missed opportunities from yesterday, or I can seize the moment and take advantage of the new opportunities that today brings. Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping. What today will be like for me is up to me, and I am determined to make the most of it..! Yesterday belongs to history and there’s absolutely nothing you can do with or about it! Today is yours…what will you CHOOSE to do with it?
Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain. And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested (1 Chr 4:9-10)~ The blessing of God is greater than any curse of the enemy! No matter what the enemy called you because of your past; no matter what failures you’ve experienced or what defeat you’ve experienced, that is NOT where God intends that you stay! God has a blessing for you but you have to CHOOSE to walk in the blessing – God can’t take you to the penthouse if you are choosing to dwell in the gutter! Just because life was this way or that way when you grew up doesn’t mean you have to hold your present and future hostage to those standards. God created you for victory, so that you don’t have to live like the loser that the enemy calls you to be! Through Him we will push down our enemies; Through His name we will trample those who rise up against us (Ps 44:5). No weapon formed against us shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against us in judgment He shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And our righteousness is from God (Isa 54:17). God says ‘Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you’ (Luke 10:19). We have dominion over everything the enemy has ever thought of to throw in front of us! So, if you’re going to ask God for that blessing, ask that He would bless you ‘indeed’ – ask for EVERYTHING God has for you – no just enough to get by – it’s not greedy to do this, it’s faith in what God promises He will do! He is not a just enough God, He is a God of abundance! Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly (Ps 84:11). And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham (Gen 28:4). God doesn’t trickle down blessings as if He’s got a limited supply or as if He wants to tease you with a little here and there – but when we trust Him – ask Him in faith, TRY HIM, He opens up the windows of Heaven and pours out a blessing that is beyond our capacity to receive (Mal 3:10). He can do it according to His riches and glory and He WILL do it because we are faithful in Him. God gives us the blessings of life and the authority to walk in them, and everyone that receives the blessing must learn how to walk in the blessing through good character; having trustworthiness and honor – rather than under the curse of the darts of the enemy. Not only will God bless us ‘indeed’ but He will keep His hand upon us, keeping us from low-ness and keeping us from being a bad representative of His glory! No matter what we were called or how we called the past, how we walk in our blessing determines whether or not we have the character to cancel the curse of the enemy!
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old (Isa 43:18)~~ Good or bad, one of the biggest adversaries of our mind is our memory of the past. In the good, we cling to things we loved and we try to retain that part of that era of our lives. It gets tough though when circumstances that made those good memories possible change and we have to fight for what once was. We get so nostalgic about things and now they’re not what they used to be… what a disappointment! What an impact that has on us! In the bad, we hold onto grudges of things or people that hurt us before and we keep giving the devil free advertising to come forward with us, making our present and future people and experiences suffer the wrath of our past hurt! We are so dysfunctionally connected to our past that we can’t have a good life today for being so ‘clingy’ to what was yesterday; wishing the good thing never ended and trying to keep things like they were. While we eventually move past the longing for former good days, while learning to be blessed by the happiness they brought us, the same can’t be said about getting past the pain of a bad experience. We fall into the trap of staying mad at a pain that is no longer affecting us and consequently the memory of that pain is strong enough to even keep us from loving! The strongest force in the universe is love and the enemy knows when he stops us from loving, he has a blank slate to not only us, but everyone and everything about us. Friends we have to learn to remember our past and learn from it but also believe in the power of God’s love in us and faith in Him that today and tomorrow will be okay, regardless of yesterday. We can’t be so focused on what was that we can’t see what is and what can be! God says: Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (Isa 43:19). Stop bringing up what was and giving life to that which is dead and move on….you can’t keep what was and you can’t change it! But – You have the ability to re-create it or to heal from it! Enjoy today and be blessed with right now and the future. There is so much that you are missing and letting get away by holding onto your past! God says the new thing shall spring forth. Our past is not something we should be carrying but that we should use it to move forward while we get better as a result of it. Good or bad, it should make us better, not bitter. We must have faith that things will be okay rather than fear that forgiving and releasing the bad will expose us to more bad or that the changes from the good cannot be good still. When we keep holding on to whatever past we have, refusing to grow or heal, we take away the significance of the blessings that are in our hand for today and tomorrow. Yes, we literally block our own blessings! God put the keys in your hand, gave you all the approval you need to drive and even placed you in the driver’s seat with a clear road, that beautiful ride is running but you won’t get in gear. You’re still saying you just can’t do it! You have to engage to move on. Things don’t just GET better with time, GOD sets things in order but YOU have to make the move! The past is what it is … “passed”… and it CAN’T HURT YOU unless you decide you’re gonna try to live in it today. It doesn’t work like that! Look, I’ve had some good days and I’ve had some hills to climb, but I am faithful that good or bad, what was in my past is my catalyst to SPRING FORTH! For the bad things, I’ve learned to forgive AND move on, because harbored hatred hinders my healing…read that again: forgive AND move on…you must do both! For the good things, I am inspired that God, who began that good work in me, will continue it, not end it… because His gifts are irrevocable… As I move forward until the day of the return of Jesus Christ!
Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad. (Prov 12:25)~ Care, fear, and sorrow upon our spirits deprive us of the drive and vigor in what is to be done, or courage in what is to be born of us. When we are facing challenges and negativity around us and those around us are speaking in negative context, it’s easy to stay discouraged and depressed and without any desire to progress. A trial in someone’s life can cause them to focus on fear and walk away from the blessings the Lord intends for them. When a person is seeing nothing but negative, they will even start to believe that they don’t have what it takes to be successful or happy. Now more than ever, we need to automatically let the encouragement flow. We need to tell others how much we love them, how we value them, and tell them that they are talented and creative. Our words can be what keeps a person going; our compliments can put a spring back into their step. Always remember, with your words you carry life-giving water. A good word from God, applied by faith, makes the heart glad. You carry hope, healing, encouragement and new beginnings, and you can pour it out everywhere you go. The Word says death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov 18:21) and it is so. Today, choose to speak encouragement. Choose to speak victory and faith. Instead of telling people what they’re doing wrong, instead of pointing out all their faults, find what they are doing right. Focus on the good. There are already enough critical, judgmental people in the world. Let’s be people who lift up others and restore them. Let’s be the light of Jesus in the world.
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good (Rom 12:9)~ ~ God’s love for us is unconditional and unmerited. He loves us in spite of our disobedience, our weakness, our sin and our selfishness. Unconditional love is sincere, free from deceit, and without unmeaning and deceitful compliments. Like the love of parents to their children; which is more tender and natural than any other; unforced, unconstrained: unconditional love gives itself without regard. There are no parameters that determine the point of nor possibility of love. Consider that Christ loves us so much that WHILE we were yet sinners, He died for us! (Rom 5:8). He didn’t wait for us to “get right” before He loved us. He doesn’t love us “as long as” we meet some criteria, standard or measure of performance. He doesn’t turn His love off and on depending on how he feels or what mood He’s in. Here is our example then… You either have love in your heart or you don’t. When you carry real love in your heart, there are no determining factors. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…(1 Cor 13:4-8). From the cross Christ cried out on behalf of those that crucified Him, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” If our Lord loved even those who were putting Him to His death THAT much, can you imagine how much He loves you — His child through faith and who seeks to please Him?
The Measure of His love is that He loves without Measure!
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isa 40:31); Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord; But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 58,57)~ Sometimes I feel like I’m spinning my wheels on things in life and get nowhere. In fact I get so frustrated from all of the challenges that I even get to the point of throwing my hands up and saying ‘why even try anymore’. Then God answers “My word will not return to me void…” and for some reason, “tired” is not an option! That reassurance is the renewing of strength that I needed! Friend, God promises that your efforts are paying off and that you will reap what you sow! Thank Him for what He’s already done and that in Christ you have the victory. Your efforts are simply the manifestation of His word that will do as He has intended! Stay in the battle.. Don’t quit just because it gets tough! The work you do after it gets tough is the work that will get you across the line to success! Tired is not an option when it comes to the Lord and HE will be your strength and buckler!
The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression (Prov 19:11); Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil (Eph 4:26-27); For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:20); The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace (Ex 14:14)~~ how many times has someone or something just gotten under your skin and really ticked you off…to the point that you reacted with a full head of steam…full of passion and anger…and then said or worse..did something you most likely regretted? Some people seem to have a mission in life to make you mad. Some of US seem to have a mission in life to BE mad. We walk around with a chip on our shoulder as if we have a God given right to have a bad attitude (but let’s stay on topic). As children of God, we are not exempt from things upsetting us and we certainly are not immune to emotions getting the best of us. But AS CHILDREN OF GOD, we are also progressive in our growth. We walk this life and through our relationship with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit sent back as our ‘comforter’ (John 14:16), become different in how we handle ourselves in those moments in time. We have come to learn that if we hold our response, it most likely will change…and after all is done, we realize that our cooler head prevailed and we were glad to have reconsidered our reaction. We realize that just because we feel wronged, we don’t create the “right” by responding with wrong. We have learned to take heed of anger and ungoverned passions. If there is just occasion to express displeasure at what is wrong, and to reprove, we must see that it be without sin. We give place to the devil, when the first motions of sin are not grievous to our souls; when we consent to them; and when we repeat an evil deed. The wrath of man does not bring about the righteousness of God – – Responding in anger, bitterness and wrath masks all rationality and annihilates that fruit of the Spirit we so much need..self-control! Give NO place to the devil- but In faith and prayer, let God have the vengeance that belongs to Him, and He will calm you and keep you in His perfect peace as you stay your mind on Him and trust in Him, in all things! Be blessed!
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isa 40:31)~ so many of us are looking for that blessing, that breakthrough, that change. And while we look and believe, we sit! Yes, all things are possible to him who believes and has faith; but as we believe, we can’t just sit and think things will change. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20) Keep in mind, those who had faith when Jesus walked all had an action corresponding to it. The woman with the issue of blood didn’t just wait for Jesus to come touch her for her healing, she had to make her way through resistance that was keeping her from Him (the crowd) and the effort of action in her faith made her whole; the impotent man at the pool had a healing from Jesus, sure he did, but he had to rise up, take up his bed and walk in the faith that Jesus made Him whole. Friend, we all have healing and blessings in The Lord but our faith is just a belief until we take a step in it. Martin Luther King Jr is famous for saying that Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. We know the top of the staircase is there but we’ll never get there standing at the bottom watching it in awe of its height or greatness! Isaiah says they that wait on The Lord renew their strength…that strength is to be USED to MOUNT UP with the wings of Eagles; to RUN the race set before us and to WALK in the paths of His righteousness, that we will NOT FAINT in adversity, but PROSPER and PERSEVERE! Christ has healed our spiritual diseases, let us GO wherever he sends us, and TAKE UP whatever he lays upon us. So often we look for our blessings but we sit in that ‘unblessed’ situation and continue to sit in our stuff; when all we had to do was move in the blessing we believed God for and we would see the difference. See, God doesn’t always take the situation away from you and He sometimes won’t take you out of the situation. Many times the blessing is in the actual enduring and the process of going through. We may not always be clear on which way we have to move but one thing we can be certain of is that we HAVE TO MOVE! The proof of our spiritual cure is not just our belief, but our RISING and WALKING; in faith; in Him!