I have a family member that I usually label with a less-than-loving name when I think of them. Of course, when that happens, I feel convicted. The other day it hit me, I need to stop that practice and replace it with a more positive one.
When my first wife and I were planning our family, I had a vivid dream. In it, God said, “Your firstborn child will be a boy, and you are to name him ‘Joshua David, and he is to become a mighty spiritual warrior.’” That became the first time I realized the importance God puts on names.
We know He changed Abram’s name to Abraham because he was to be the father of many nations. (Genesis 17)
Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter because he was to be a rock that Jesus would build his church on. (Mat. 16:18)
With this awareness and knowledge, I have decided to start calling the family member I mentioned in the opening by what they should be in Christ. Praying for them that they become the person God wants them to be. I am also going to be careful what I call other people. Even those that cut me off on the road!
With God’s help, may we all become whom He intended.
You don’t have to watch the news for very long before you will see someone got caught. It doesn’t matter for what, either. Stealing, murder, inappropriate behavior, etc. It seems that, for the most part, no matter what someone has done or how long ago, the truth comes out.
People don’t just have to be on TV to be guilty of doing wrong. The world is full of individuals that choose to do evil. It’s not always murder or stealing but something that hurts someone else. It’s difficult to watch these less-than-perfect ones seemingly get by with inflicting pain on another.
Guess what? They don’t, and they won’t!
For there is nothing hidden that shall not be disclosed, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come out into the open. Luk. 8:17 (AMPC)
There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. Luk. 12:2-3 (NIV)
I am just as guilty. I have said and done things I am not proud of either. I have hurt people that never asked to be inflicted. By recognizing Jesus Christ is the Son of God and by accepting Jesus into my life and asking him to forgive me of all of those wrongdoings, they are forgiven.
I will admit, though we may have to wait a long time to see it, knowing that those who have hurt us will be dealt with is reassuring that they won’t get away with it after all. Everyone someday will know the truth. The lies will no longer be believed. On that day, the only judgment that will matter is God’s!
I have heard it said several times the shortest story is this; For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. This week, I have witnessed that short story come true. It has broken my heart, yet I am not even related to the child. The sadness has consumed my thoughts. I have prayed for the parents and the family a lot.
What do you say to someone personally connected to this tragic event or any other gut-wrenching life situation? Words are so hard to come by. I asked April for help, and she replied, “You’re the writer!” I admit everything that came to my mind seemed so empty.
I read in Richard Exley’s book, “Blue Collar Christianity,” that sometimes, just being there is enough. Touching their arm, placing yours around their shoulder, or holding their hand if appropriate speaks volumes. It tells the individual walking waist-deep in grief, hurt, or pain that you are there with them and that you wish they weren’t going through this experience, but at least they are not going through it alone.
Of course, God is right there with them as well. And the Holy Spirit is the greatest comforter, but people can’t see them, and some fail to realize they are there. They can see people who care, though, so they find comfort in knowing that people care. Another reason to express your concern the best you can. Some will cook a meal, and others will send a card or flowers. Some might show up in person and give a hug. As I wound up doing, you can always ask God what to say. Regardless of whether the words were correct doesn’t matter; they know I care.
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever— John 14:16 (AMPC)
Prayer: “Father God, be with the family that has suffered this traumatic loss. Holy Spirit, comfort them. Help them today and in the days to come. As they search desperately for a reason and for someone to blame, may they not blame you, God, but understand this happened because we live in a world of free will and, therefore, of sin. May they run closer to you, God, and not from you. And God, I pray this for anyone in the world who is struggling, hurting, and needing you. Amen.”
I’ve been reading from the Book of Psalms. I have noticed, mainly David’s, some Psalms were written where David tells God what to do. As if he is God’s supervisor or God needs to be told how to be God. Take the one below for instance:
4-5 Wake up and see for yourself! You’re God, God-of-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God! Get on the job and take care of these pagans, don’t be soft on these hard cases.
11-13 Don’t make quick work of them, God, lest my people forget. Bring them down in slow motion, take them apart piece by piece. Let all their mean-mouthed arrogance catch up with them, Catch them out and bring them down —every muttered curse —every barefaced lie. Finish them off in fine style! Finish them off for good!
I think you get the idea. But I must ask, are we sometimes doing the same thing? Are there times in our prayers and conversations with God we try to tell Him how to answer our requests? I know I’m guilty of doing this, especially after an individual hurts me.
Okay, first of all, God doesn’t need a supervisor! He knows how to deal with every kind of person very well because He knows their heart and motives. He knows things about them we could never know. Also, He hopes that his way of dealing with an individual would ultimately bring them into a relationship with him. From scripture, we know that God has his way of doing things and why.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isa. 55:8-9 (NIV)
So we have to trust God. There is nothing wrong with asking Him to take care of a situation or a particular person, but we have no business trying to tell Him how. God doesn’t have someone over Him. You cannot speak to his boss, and you don’t need to.
I can not read music, nor can I write it. I can only imagine how satisfying it must be to write a piece of music, especially a concerto. I could at one time read it but not anymore. One thing I recall, though, is that there are high notes and low notes, and when you put them all together, they make music. Hopefully, something that sounds good and is pleasing to the ear.
As we live our lives, there are high notes, and there are low notes. It seems as if we remember the low notes the most. Throughout my life, I have had several “low notes.” Some were flatter than others. (Get it?)
It amazes me how, when we surrender our lives unto God, how He can take “all” of our life, the high and low notes, and make beautiful music. One might even say, “A concerto.” It also amazes me how the almighty God, the greatest composer, can orchestrate every part of our lives while simultaneously the lives of others, and the result is of his good pleasure.
The other day, I was going to go outside and do some cleaning, but as I was about to go through the door, I got a phone call from a friend. I took the call, and we talked for about 38 minutes. Shortly after I ended the call, I went outside and started working. A man walking by started talking to me. As we spoke, he brought up God and then commented on being unsure if one could go to heaven.
I spoke and told him he could be absolutely sure and how. He didn’t seem to accept what I was saying until I told him how much God loved him. I told him God wanted to make sure that we met. I told him I would have been outside earlier if my friend hadn’t called me. I want to add that I could have ignored my friend’s call and called him back later. He would have understood. If that had happened, I wonder if the man I met outside would have missed heaven by 38 minutes. You see, it’s important to spend time with people. They matter. All of heaven is about people.
Live for God. Allow him to ordain your steps. Don’t take for granted those interruptions. They may seem like a low note to you, but God may be playing a high note. Either way, I assure you the resulting melody will be pleasing to the ear.
The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord, Psa. 37:23a (AMP)
I was in a college speech class. There were no women, so the language and topics could be crude, even from the professor. One week our assignment was a free subject talk. God asked me to share about Him, his son, Jesus, and explain salvation. I was scared but wanted to be obedient, so I wrote out my talk.
Two days before I was scheduled to give my talk, I developed a nasty sore in my throat. My great-grandmother rubbed Merthiolate on it with a long Q-Tip. It wasn’t going away, so I scheduled a doctor’s visit. Yep, my appointment was on the same day and time I was to give my talk. (Ummm, Satan?)
I took my notes with me the day before, and as it turned out, the guy seated in front of me was not prepared to give his talk. I suggested to the professor that I give my talk in his place as I would not be there the next day. He pondered, then agreed. So I got up and preached my first sermon. Silence until the professor said, “Well, Amen!”
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” 1 Cor. 3:6 (NIV)
Even though we may be fearful of the opinions of men, what they think of us, it is better to obey God and not think twice about our reputation. Planting seeds and watering those seeds is so important. Without those two steps, there could be no harvest. We cannot know the results of our actions as farmers for God until we get to heaven!
Oh! The following day I canceled my appointment as my nasty soar was gone, as well as any signs of it!
By now, most of us have probably heard one minister or another tells us that the distance from the Red Sea to the Promise Land was an eleven-day walk. So the Israelites could have gone from captivity and slavery to a land flowing with milk and honey after a few days of walking. What happened? You might be asking. “Fear.” The majority of them listened to the ten spies who reported why they couldn’t take the land God was giving them instead of the two men of God full of faith. The ten assumed they were being called to battle. They failed to understand the battle is the Lord’s!
The result of listening to men who struggled with fear instead of God was walking in the desert for forty years. This is so difficult for me to understand, They had just witnessed God separating the Red Sea, and they walked to the other side on dry ground, and then, if that wasn’t enough to prove God’s mighty power, they watched as He closed the Red Sea drowning, eradicating their enemy! Faith should have been the last thing they lacked.
I know I have not walked in their sandals, but I would like to think I would have agreed with the men of faith who reported they could do it. It seems that many people will listen to men instead of God. No, they may not wander in a desert as a result, but they certainly do miss out on everything God has for them.
It seems as if some, who do not know God personally, have more respect for Him and his power than some believers do! I guarantee Israel’s enemies were scared. Imagine the testimony to all who are watching your life, whether you realize it or not, when they see God’s mighty hand at work in you. Have you ever thought about the fact that percentage-wise, there are only a handful of ministries in the world that are affecting the world for God’s glory? That is because those leaders dared to believe God instead of men!
Has God instructed you to go or do something that looks impossible for a mortal man? Remember this:
Jesus looked at them and replied, “This is impossible for mere humans, but for God all things are possible.” Mat. 19:26 (NET)
If He has, go for it. Follow God every step as He leads you into the land He desires to give you. Put your foot in the exact same spot where God’s foot just left. Don’t look to the left or the right. Don’t expect your journey to take place the same way God did it for someone else either. Cover your ears if you have to so you aren’t tempted to listen to negative thoughts.
When I was accepting my first position as a youth minister at a church that said they couldn’t pay me a salary, my father told me I was crazy and forbade me to go. I was twenty-one and hadn’t lived under his roof for three years. I listened to my heavenly Father, who told me to go. I listened to the CEO of heaven instead, and without a salary from the church, my needs were met.
At the beginning of 2023, April and I stepped out in faith to meet a need. We were excited about taking this step, especially April. She could use her gifting and trained skills to bless families. At first, things were going well. Then one by one, the families chose to go in a different direction. It was as if they were turning their nose up at what April brought to the table.
As I pondered these events, I compared the families’ actions to refusing filet mignon and, instead, choosing to go dumpster diving. In other words, God wanted to bless these families with a loving, faithful servant of his, and they were turning their backs on her. Their behavior reminded me of the Israelites, which will be discussed in another blog post.
April and I’s savings account took a huge hit making this opportunity possible. And with no one seeking April’s services, covering our added expenses month to month was like watching a gas pump running in reverse regarding our savings account. It was hemorrhaging. We needed God to perform a miracle.
About the same time these events began unfolding, I started rereading Psalms but this time from The Message version. What stood out to me was how much complaining there is about God and his behavior. Take the following verses:
Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day? Wake up! Don’t you care what happens to us? Why do you bury your face in the pillow? Why pretend things are just fine with us? And here we are—flat on our faces in the dirt, held down with a boot on our necks. Get up and come to our rescue. If you love us so much, Help us! Ps. 44:23-26 (MSG)
Asking, “What is causing these people to say these things to God?” one can only point to one reason, “Fear!” I have to admit, I could now understand these individuals. Watching our savings account dwindle, I, too, was asking, “What are you doing, God? Why won’t you help and rescue us in our time of need?
I was trying to think of any possibilities that would keep us from living on the street. I checked into one course of action, but then I sensed God’s Spirit whisper, “Don’t turn to men for what you are asking God to do.” Out of fear, I almost put our house on the market, but it didn’t feel right.
I enlarged my prayer circle. A friend told me that God shared with her, “The bigger the miracle, the bigger the group praying needs to be.” I sensed divine direction and followed it. I took action, and God answered one of my prayers three days later. I had to ask God, “What is it with you and three days?” Then I laughed. He did too. I think.
The following week we got another answer to prayer for April. You won’t find our home on Zillow.com, and in a few months, our savings account will return to a respectable level. God doesn’t sleep, and we are always on his mind. He knows when things are not fine in our lives, but it is always okay to express what we are feeling and going through to Him. It’s never fun going through the valleys of life. I’m not a fan of having my faith tested, but with that confession, let me wrap this up with two thoughts. Both, though tuff, brought me some comfort:
The tester wants you to pass. The tempter wants you to fail.
6 This makes you very happy. But now for a short time different kinds of troubles may make you sad. 7 These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold. Gold can be proved to be pure by fire, but gold can be destroyed. But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ comes again. 1 Peter 1:6-7 (ICB)
Okay. One more:
16-18 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 2 Cor. 4:17-18 (MSG)