Thursday, January 31, 2013

When God is silent

“When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him” (1 Samuel 28:5–6).

Sometimes God is silent. He is silent in our prayers. He is silent in our circumstances. He is silent in our relationships. His silence can be deafening because it seems that His silence is ill timed. In most cases, His silence revolves around a real need you are experiencing. You may feel that God is disinterested or that He does not care. The silence of God can be an overwhelming place to occupy and still trust Him.

Your predicament could be like a heavy bar bell on your chest with no spotter available to assist you. You feel all alone and unable to fix the problem or correct the issue. You do not even know where to start. You are in despair, at the tipping point of depression. Anger has clouded your reason, and heaven seems indifferent to your hurt.
Or, on the other hand, you are “suffering” from success and prosperity; yet God feels distant and disconnected. You have honored Him in the process, but He has not seemed to honor you with His warm and affirming presence. What is going on?  What is God up to? What does He want you to do next for the good of His kingdom?

Indeed, God’s silence is your opportunity to remain faithful, even when you are unsure of His intentions for your life. He is God and we are not; therefore, we do not have to pressure ourselves to figure out everything that is going on, or what God is doing behind the scences of my situation.  Trust and believe He is always aware as you are the apple of His eye (Zech. 2:8). Managing the big picture is in His job description, not yours; so rest in His silence. Refuse to become restless, resentful, or rebellious. But still you ask, “Why the silence?”

There may be two possible reasons for God’s silence: sin or sanctification; or it may be a combination of both. When God withholds His blessing and direction for your life, it may be the direct consequence of sin in your life. This is why regular confession and repentance of sin are critical for the follower of Christ. This is like breathing for your soul. Sin is like cotton in the ears of our heart; thus, God’s voice becomes muffled, unclear, and eventually silent. Your removal of sin clears the wax from the ears of your heart.

God’s silence may be used for your sanctification. He is in the process of making you more and more like His Son Jesus Christ. This is not always fun, though it is needed to learn God’s ways and His purpose for your life. Even if He is silent, do what you know is right today, and trust Him with the next step. Do not let silence overwhelm you; rather, use it as a springboard to trust God’s faithfulness.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Win it

As we sit at the end of the first month of the year we must still be reminded that it is still the beginning of a New Year and no matter how things are for you right now you should be seriously glad and joyfully happy because the grace of the Lord made a way for you to be here.  After all that last year and the beginning of this year has brought you, beloved I want you to be reminded that you have crossed the threshold of a year that you have never seen before and will not ever see again and by the mercy of a loving God you are in it.  No doubt this year brings to all of us the blessings and burdens of its uncertainties, and we are already feeling some of them most likely.  There are and I know have been moments where you confronted obstacles that you will need faith in God to conquer, there will be times when you are faced with blessings that will flood you like a rapidly running river that overflows its river banks, and there will be seasons where you plant and have to wait for the increase to come.  No matter what you are faced with my prayer for you is that you would win it while you're in it.

If there is anybody in the world that knows how to win it, and serves as a great teacher for us it is that great Apostle for Tarsus, the man of God whose name is Paul.  He is the kind of man that wins no matter what he finds himself in.  If Paul is in trouble he says "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed..." (2 Cor. 4:8a); if he was having a bout with depression he would cheer himself up by saying "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice" (Phil. 4:4) and if Paul was facing enemies that hated him he would declare with boldness "and we know that all things work together for good for those that love the Lord..."(Romans 8:28a)!  You see, Paul was not just in it, but he knew how to win while he was in it.

As we walk in this year it is my belief that God wants you to not just be in it, but to win it while you're in it.  And there is a verse that will show you step-by-step how to do it.  Here's what it says, "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,  According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.   For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you" (Philippians 1:19-24).  What Paul is saying is that I have an attitude that says I plan to win no matter what and DJ Khalid and company ain't got nothing on this.  If Paul can win while he's in it you can too!  The question here is this, how do we win it while you're in it?

First of all, if you are going to win it you have to have an attitude of complete deliverance.  There's an old saying that comes from the words of a hymn that holds true, and older saints used it quite a bit.  When they did not know how things were going to work here's what they would say "The Lord will make a way somehow!"  This was simply a way of saying the Lord has brought me to where I am and now I am trapped between a rock and a hard place and I do not know how I am going to make it on my own.  But, with God with me I am certain of this, everything is going to be alright.  Paul gives us the makeup of the "somehow" that leads to his complete deliverance and victory.  He says, "I know".  He then says "...your prayers..."  And finally he adds for a point of clarity "....the supply."  In a nutshell Paul says it's been rough man, but it's okay because God is going to deliver me.  There is an interesting figure of speech here called a metenomy.  It is the intermingling of one idea for another.  Paul says it was your prayers but it was God's provisions.  The more I know, and the more you pray the more God supplies.  The word used to describe the supply is epichorgia.  It is the same term used to describe the flowing waters of a river.  Like God's blessings and provisions in your life it flows all of the time.  Beloved I declare and decree for your life, that the blessing of the Lord will flow in your life all year long, and overtake you.  It will flow in every season summer, winter, spring and fall.  It will flow on good days and tough days as there is no such thing as a bad day.  The river will flow and it means that God will keep on providing.  The blessing of this Year in your life is going to be this, God is going to provide for you like you have never seen Him do before.       

If you are going to win it you must have the attitude of confident discovery.  I do not know how many of you all do this, but I am as guilty as I can be.  But, I have learned how to live the Christian life with a degree of expectancy.  I know that God is able and I live expecting God to do things for me that no one else could ever do.  I walk with God expecting God to do supernatural things.  I expect great things from the Lord, as miracles signs and wonders follow them that believe (Mark 16:17).  It is my spiritual attitude that I live with each day.  I have learned that if you expect nothing you often get nothing.  But, when you expect great things from a great God, He does great things for you.  This is the attitude of the Apostle Paul in Philippi.  In fact, he says " earnest expectation...."  It is a tongue twister in the Greek.  It comes from the word apokatadokia.  It is a trilogy of words that make up one word.  Apo means to lift the head.  Kata means to stretch the neck.  And, dokia means to strain the eye.  Thus, great expectation means to lift the head, stretch the neck and strain the eye.  That is the position that you should be in when you are looking for God to move in your life.  If you are not it is because you are not expecting anything from God at all.  But, there are those of you that are expecting healing, blessing, deliverance and strength in this year and because you are expecting it from God it is going to come to pass. 

If you are going to win it you must have an attitude of Christ-Centered determination.  Here's the bottom line to this I pray you don't miss it.  The enemy wants you to quit.  He wants you to give up.  He wants you to lose.  He wants you to worry about things that you cannot control, lose sight of things that are real, forget about God's goodness and lose.  But, if you are going to win in life you have to be determined to do it.  Listen to the words of Paul here.  They are filled with this attitude of spiritual determination.  They are far reaching and deep flowing.  Here's what he says "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain."  What words of total determination.  Paul says I am going to win no matter what.  If I live, I win Jesus is with me.  If I die, I win because I've always desired to be near the Lord anyway.  If I live, I win because I help you in the faith.  If I die, I win I'll be done with all of this.  I am determined to win.  When you are determined to do something everyone else thinks that you're crazy.  If you are determined to pray, hell shutters.  If you are determined to worship, demons panic.  If you are determined to press your way, quitters will talk about you.  But, when you win everybody will want to be a part of your blessing and your victory.  So here's what I think, why wait to celebrate a victory when you can shout about it right now.  Ladies and gentlemen this is the year of your blessing because you are not just in, you are in it with an attitude to win it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snake with legs

Snakes with legs? I know you are probably like Brown what in the world are you getting ready to bring forth today?   Trust and believe after you finish reading this you will be like, what a concept, and thanks for helping me deal with this particular kind of snake that isn't that rare.  Let me describe for you what a snake with legs is:  People that walk into your life with a smile on their face with a knife hidden behind their backs.  Snakes with legs!  People that will tell you that they love you while all of the time digging a ditch for your demise.  Snakes with legs!  Nice people with nasty habits that will seek to do unholy things to you all for the purpose of watching you suffer.  Snakes with legs!  People that will get close to you to find your weaknesses and then exploit them so that you end up living on the down and out and not on the up and up!  Snakes with legs!  People that will do their best to take your peaceful moments of heaven and give you hell.  Folks that want to take your rest and give you ruin.  Evil people that would do their very best to destroy your destiny and wreck your future.  But, here is what life's lessons have taught me, you will never beat a snake being a snake, you have to rise above them.

In Genesis 3:14-15, Adam and Eve encounter a snake with legs.  Here's what the Bible says, "And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (KJV).  You see, God does not keep us from snakes because they bring you the testing that leads to your blessing.  The question is what lessons do we learn from this snake with legs in Genesis that will help us deal with ours that we see everyday?
First we learn the lesson of subtle destruction.  Remember this, the reason why your snakes hate you is because they hate the God that keeps on blessing you.  It is not you that they hate, they hate your God.  According to doctrine of the angelic conflict God created angels for the purpose of worship.  Michael was the angel of warfare, Gabriel was the angel of the Word, and Lucifer was the angel of Worship.  Lucifer (Satan, the Serpent/snake) was kicked out of heaven and was placed on the earth.  And instead of God putting another angel in his place, God made you to take his place.  This is why all snakes hate to see you coming with the favor of God resting upon you because you took their place.  

Secondly, we learn the lesson of spiritual distraction.  The job of any real snake is to get you to do what the Lord told you not to do.  According to the text, Adam and Eve can have every tree in the garden except for one.  And the serpent gets Eve to consider the one tree that she does not have.  It was distraction at its best.  But, my friends remember this, the best medicine for distraction is outward gratitude and public celebration.  You see, if you are thankful for what you have you can never miss what you never had.  This is why jealousy, envy and unthankfulness all come from snakes with legs.  A saint knows that everything that they have came from God.  A saint knows that God has been good no matter what they may or may not have.  A real saint knows that to be thankful for what you have is to also shout about what God has never let you miss.  If you want your snakes to eat your dust grab a thanksigiving and don't let it go. 
Lastly beloved, we learn the lesson of sacred deliverance.  If you try beating a snake at his game you will always lose.  You have to have someone that can handle them for you.  God tells the serpent that the seed of a woman would bruise his head.  Here's the problem, women have ovaries and not seeds.  So what seed was the Lord talking about?  It would be a seed that would come from a virgin that would change the face of time; a seed that would be born in Bethlehem; a seed that would cause wise men to come from the East just to worship Him; a seed that would make Herod attempt a genocide; a seed that would die on a cross and do away with snakes once and for all.  Here's the greatest shout of the day, you have a God that is a serpent specialist and He will deal with your snakes for you.  In fact, He takes them and uses them as a footstool for your life as you grow in His.
Yes, we have snakes with legs that come walking through our life trying to destroy everything, but more importantly you have a Savior with power that will fight your battles for you.  Let go and let God handle it and victory will always be yours.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting out of a pit

Many of us reading this right now just like me writing it are familiar with some of life's tough spots.  There are some of you that know what it's like to find yourself in the relational hole, the financial ditch of economic despair, the spiritual pit of unforgiveness, and the physical mine of an illness that just will not leave you alone.  But, in spite of that, no matter how deep your ditch may be there is a God that can help you get out of it.  Here's what the Psalmist says, "I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD" (Psalms 40:1-3, KJV).  You see, if God got the Psalmist out of his predicament He can do the same for you.  Here's the question for us to ponder what must you do to get out of a pit?

First of all you must persevere with your petitions/prayers.  Listen, no matter how bad it seems, no matter how rough it gets and no matter how much it frustrates you never ever stop praying.  Prayer is the key to your spiritual victory so pray your way through it.  Listen to the words of this passage.  "I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined unto me and heard my cry."  Now get this, the word used for "cry" should be translated as silent whisper.  Better still it should be interpreted as a prayer that no one could hear at all.  Have you ever had a hurt so deep that you could not pray at all?  Here's some news for you to remember, God still heard your cry, as he can even hear the silent cries of the heart that is in despair and pain.  When life puts you in a pit don't you dare stop praying.  

Second, you must progress through the process.  Please hold on to this wonderful truth and never let it go.  God still does miracles, He is still a miracle working, life transforming, healing, delivering, saving,  providing God who still does for you what no other can do.  Sometimes miracles happen in one moment.  But, most miracles happen moment-by-moment.  When a miracle happens like this, God sends you through a three step process.  The text says, "...He brought me up also out of an horrible pit...and set my feet upon a rock..."  The Lord you serve brings you UP, OUT and OVER.  Our God is strong enough to bring you "up" no matter how deep your problem.  He brings you "out" no matter how bad it may seem.  He carries you "over" to solid ground.  It is the process that produces the product.  You don't recieve promise without enduring process, as it is the process that develops the character to appreciate and walk in the fullness of the promise.  You see, there will be people who will want your product, but they have not gone through your process.  When you have progressed through the process you end up with a product that says, "God did it just for me." 

Lastly, you must give the Lord praise that is personal and heard by all.  If the Lord has never ever done anything for you feel free to keep silent and say nothing to anyone about Him.  But, if the Lord has ever delivered you out of a hopeless pit before, then you owe Him as well as yourself a praise that is public and personal, as we overcome by the word of our testimony (Rev. 12:11)  The Psalmist says, "...He placed a new song in my mouth...many shall see it and fear..."  Now here's a good question, how do you see a song?  You see a song by looking at lyrics that keep on living that refuse to die.  Here's some news that should make a tear fall from your eye, when people see you they should see a song like "Amazing Grace", run into the Lord's "Blessed Assurance", and get happy about that cause "I'm Glad about it

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Inside out

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord knows an outward appearance may or may not be an indicator of what’s in the heart. A smile on the outside can still mask a frown on the inside. An outwardly positive attitude may still wrestle with negative feelings from past hurt. A handsome man may maintain an ugly heart, while a beautiful woman can project an unattractive spirit. Good looks do not guarantee a grace filled life. God goes straight to the heart of what matters most: humility, fear of God and love.

Is your heart in the hand of your heavenly Father? Like a heat seeking missile, is your heart’s desire hot for the things of God? The praise of people may lead you to think more highly of your contributions than Christ’s. So, invite the Holy Spirit to translate man’s praise into a tool to purify your heart. He will burn away impure motives and replace them with righteous ones. After all, your life is all of grace or none at all. You stay qualified for God by keeping a heart for God.

“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:10-11

The eyes of men are attracted to attractive Kings of strong stature, but the eyes of the Lord look for humble shepherds with a heart for service. Indeed, we are wise to keep our aspirations in line with Almighty God’s. We don’t obsess with our outward appearance for it fades away, but we do adorn our spirit with the grace of God for its beauty is eternal. Our heavenly Father specializes in making His children cute and adorable. The inner work of the Spirit shapes our soul for God.

Therefore, select and follow leaders who are qualified by God. Avoid smooth talkers with a hard heart. Take your time at work to hire not only those who can get the job done, but who get it done with a humble hurt. Wait on marriage for the one whose heart seeks the Lord and who seeks to serve others. Ask the Lord to give you a mental and emotional diagnostic to discern a person’s spirit. Better to invest in those with ordinary abilities and looks, but with an extraordinary heart.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Make humility a priority

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).

Pride will eventually give way to humility. It may not happen overnight. It may have to follow a painful process, because pride can be very, very stubborn. Like an embedded splinter deep in the flesh of your foot, it is hard to remove. You cannot remove it alone, and there is constant throbbing and pain until it is extracted.

This is the plight of pride. Pain and suffering are its cohorts. Pride provides a false sense of security. Spiritually minded people know it is only a matter of time until a fall, as pride will catch up with you. Humility was once a staple in your spiritual diet, but success has squelched your humility and subtly replaced it with pride. Authority without accountability generates pride.

The more authority you possess, the more you are required to submit to accountability. Otherwise, you cannot handle this freewheeling power. Your behavior defaults to pride without the checkmate of humility. This is true in relationships, business, ministry, and churches. Beware of obsessing over control.

Paranoia is an application of pride. You are fearful of losing control. It is better to hand over control than to lose control. Humility gives control, while pride grasps for it. So be open and humble about your insecurities. We are all insecure to some degree. Humility builds security, and pride tears it down. The humble have nothing to hide. So root out pride, replacing it with humility.

The process of pride’s removal begins with submission to Christ. It is acknowledging His lordship and ownership over your life. He is in control. He is large and in charge. Nothing in your life has sneaked up on God. He can be trusted. He holds your life, family, health, and career in His hand. You start by humbly bowing to God with your head and heart. He is to be feared and loved.

You have the awesome opportunity to worship and adore Him. When you walk with God, you walk in humility. Pride cannot coexist in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Pride is extinguished in the presence of Jesus. Pride is like a roach lurking in the dark recesses of your heart. The Holy Spirit’s light reveals pride and convicts you during times of prayer and Scripture meditation.

The second offense to pride is praying people. Ask people to pray for humility to infiltrate and occupy your life. You want the occupation of humility on the soil of your heart and mind. Be transparent with others about your sins and shortcomings. Talk about them with the motive for change.

Humble yourself, and trust God to humble others. It is easy to recognize pride in others while it is still looming in your spirit. Run from spiritual pride. It is the worst kind. It is insidious. It is self-righteousness in nature, and it chokes the Holy Spirit. Humility grows in an environment of honesty, openness, prayer, and change. Be a change agent on behalf of the humble.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Train up a child

“Pains as of a woman in childbirth come to him, but he is a child without wisdom; when the time arrives, he does not come to the opening of the womb.” Hosea 13:13

Children need to be taught wisdom. Yes, sometimes it’s hard for them to grasp its meaning because of their age and stage in life. Wisdom comes through understanding and applying God’s Word to life's experiences. Many individuals are limited in their perspective of both, so wisdom guides them away from unwise decision-making. Wisdom is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give your child. Therefore, make its knowledge inviting and practical.
Tell stories of individuals who made wise decisions and the positive effects that followed. Then contrast these uplifting illustrations with those who chose an unwise path and suffered harm as a result. Stories stir the heart and illuminate the mind. We owe it to our offspring/s to engage them in conversations about real live people. Otherwise they remain oblivious, in a bubble of unrealistic living, basically naive to life itself. Wisdom comes by allowing them to spread their wings and begin decision-making while they still live under your roof, so if you have children loosen up the noose you have around their neck some and trust in the power of God through prayer as you cover them in prayer when they are away from you.
Start out while they're young by helping them make money decisions by giving them chores and allowance for chores done so they learn early responsbility, earning power, saving, giving, and the value of a dollar. Show them the pattern of “share, save, and spend” from your own financial management. Then lead them to do the same. Watch them smile as they experience the joy of generosity. Be proud as their discipline and patience grows. They will be able to save for something they want, purchasing their prize with cash. Be an example of smart spending, you may become a recipient of its fruit as your child learns how to be a savvy shopper.  Financial wisdom is a practical gift whose principals you can use to train your child (Ephesians 6:4).
Good judgment in choosing friends is another facet of teaching your child the ways of wisdom. Make sure children understand the propensity to be like the people they “hang out with” (Proverbs 13:20). It’s wise to choose friends whose faith is growing and robust. Go with friends who lift up, instead of those who pull down. It is unwise to flirt with friendships that dilute growth with God. Discuss why they need to avoid friendships that become a wedge between child and parent. Wisdom does not settle for the shallow acceptance of just any friend. Wisdom has a high standard for friendship. Challenge your children to pray for friends who complement their faith, who move them closer to their heavenly Father. Wise friends rub off on your children in wise ways.
Lastly, discuss with your child regularly the wisdom of God. He gives wisdom (Proverbs 2:6). Read with them from the Bible, and discuss the meanings of particular verses. Make the discussion of Scripture a part of your everyday life. When you train up your child they will begin to in their own innocent way hold you accountable to the truth God is teaching you.
You cannot improve on the wisdom of the Lord. God’s wisdom will follow them the rest of their lives. It will be with them when you are absent. You can be at peace when you have a child who is wise in the ways of God. You are wise when your goal is to grow a wise child, as wise children become wise adults.

Monday, January 7, 2013


“At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment” (Proverbs 7:6–7).

Most young people yearn for someone to invest time and wisdom into them. They know deep in their hearts they need help to handle heartaches. Their naïve knowledge has yet to graduate them from the school of hard knocks; so they need loving and wise instruction. Who in your circle of influence is a candidate for your caring attention?

It may be a son or daughter, a colleague at work, or a friend from church. God places people in our lives for a purpose. Perhaps you prayerfully pursue a mentor relationship with a teachable young person. He or she can learn from your mistakes as much or more than from your wise choices.

Mentors are not perfect, just wiser from failure and humbled by success. Look around and ask the Lord to lead you to a young person who may be edging toward the wrong direction. Reach out to that young person. By doing so, you will have returned the favor to someone who loved you.

Indeed, mentors take time for others because they are eternally grateful for those who took time for them. Gratitude to God is a great reason to go the extra mile with someone younger. Read books together, maybe a book a month for a year. Meet over coffee to discuss how the book challenged your thinking and changed your behavior for the better.

A young leader can preclude problems when she is able to model the wise habits of her mentor. Always invite an older adult into your life who can educate you in the ways of God. Moreover, the mentor process is valuable to both parties. It provides accountability, encouragement, love, and obedience to Christ’s commands. Mentor young people so they follow the right path, and in turn help someone else do the same.