I keep returning to this verse:
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. —John 12:42-43
and now I know why.
Have you ever felt a faith-rooted challenge? Seriously, have you ever faced a circumstance when before doing something, or saying something, you knew your beliefs were being challenged? Have you ever received too much change back from a cashier and pondered if you should return the surplus amount? Have you ever heard a discriminatory joke and everyone around you laughed? Has a supervisor ever asked you to forge numbers on a report? Have you ever been tempted to gossip? What did you do? How does your response measure up when compared to what you say you believe? Do you love praise from men more than you love praise from God? More so, do you fear men more? It’s ok. Be honest with yourself. The Christian…challenged.
As I type this, I know that I am being challenged to spiritually grow. In time I will write more about that, but for now this is what I will say: I was hurt. I have been healed. I must help. To remain in my comfort zone would be selfish. I know what is in me is meant to be shared. Am I alone? Are you letting hurt hinder you from reaching your full potential? Has your naiveté about people affected your trust in God’s word? You are not alone. Many Christians are consciously opting to play it safe because of this manifestation of angst. Fear has a funny way of containing people–Christian people–in that way. Even leaders–YES, Christian leaders–are faced with this controlling agent.
It is easy to get loss in the crowd’s mediocrity—to be silent when God is urging you to speak, to go along to get along, to be ordinary and deny the extraordinary creation of that which you are. It is easy…until it isn’t.
As you evaluate your life ask yourself, “Am I being led by man or by God?” This is an important question. Everyone has an audience. Someone, somewhere is always watching you–judging you—making observations about you. Do they see the God who you say you believe or the man of whom you are afraid?
You have been challenged.
Today I did something sooooooo incredibly awesome as a result of accepting an invitation to be a Guest Messenger at a church. Listen to the message I delivered earlier today. No worries—it’s less than 18 minutes. (LOL!) I hope it is a blessing to you!
The older I become, the more I am realizing how I spend time and the conversations I am having with those whom I spend time. It is an interesting awareness which I am finding, more and more, makes me conscious of my part in dialogues. Let’s face it: We, each of us, have a responsibility when communicating—as the listener and the talker.
Yeah, yeah, yeah….I know you’ve heard this before. I had too, but recently I had an experience which reminded me that people will use you as their audience to justify their point of view and how easy it is to be that audience for them when you lose your conversational focus.
A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” —John 9:24-25
People will see Truth in you. They understand the value of your concurrence. You better understand your worth—spiritually. It has physical manifestations…and you better believe an audience that tunes in nonstop.
Here, I saw a perfect example of the application of conversational focus. In short, he was not persuaded by the excitement surrounding the discussion. He was not influenced by the person speaking to him nor his entourage. Fear was secondary.
Instead, this man did two things. He listened and when he spoke, he spoke only Truth. When you speak, do you only speak Truth? Were you blind and now can see?
Have you ever had awareness that someone was attempting to set you up to fall—or shall I say to fail? How do you handle those situations? Is your response the same as it was five years ago?
They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. —John 8:6-9
This passage, I ponder. Typically, I have heard it tackle the notion(s) of judgment and/or sin. Haven’t you heard the maxim, Let he who is without sin cast the first stone? You may have even said it yourself and watched how quickly it stopped direct, verbal allegations while saving you from considering revisiting your before I was saved days.
This passage serves as a timely mental note for me, as I am reminded of how much I have grown and how I need to continue to consciously grow. There was a time when I would become insulted by people who would enter my space to set traps. As a result, my response would be driven by a negative, emotional root. (What a waste of energy!) Fortunately, I have gained a deeper understanding of spiritual warfare. In turn, I have learned how to quiet my emotions and at times limit my speech. (See: Silent, Yes Truth ) The blessing is in the knowing.
You know, it is okay to give those desiring to entrap you a chance to back away from their original plan. This may, at times, mean positioning yourself in a non-threatening way. Warning: Discipline and discernment are required!
For those who persist however, do not be afraid to straighten up and SPEAK CONCISE TRUTH, not for the sake of conversation, then continue to do what you were doing. Trust that Truth will be heard. Remember, you are your Father’s child.
Don’t get caught up. The soul saved may just be your own.
Are you sick? Really…are you?
One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” —John 5:5-6
It is easy to admit when you are physically ill, isn’t it? Feeling under the weather is a status society accepts and many times wishes of healing, prayers, and positive vibes quickly follow. Taking medication, sipping tea, and getting plenty of rest are ready remedies to mend you to rejoin your peers in activities of life. If only it were really THAT simple—are you sick? Really…are you? When was the last time you looked into your own eyes, into your own truth, to gauge your mental and spiritual well-being? When was the last time you faced your fears and insecurities, your shortcomings and weaknesses, all of those things that hold you back from being the best YOU that you can be and asked yourself, “Do you want to get well?” How long have you held yourself in bondage??? Seriously, do you want to get well?
It seems like a lifetime ago now, but there was a time when I found myself totally exhausted. Thankful I had not been in that condition for thirty-eight years, but I had been in it far too long. The time had come for me to face my truth. I stepped away from the distractions–from the parasitic noise I allowed to influence my life. I surveyed my landscape, and was brutally honest about my condition. Looking into my eyes I asked myself, “Do you want to get well?” My answer would be life-changing.
“YES,” my soul shouted! Then, I cried… for two weeks. Without my full comprehension, my cleansing had begun. What I later realized was that with every tear I shed, a weight was being lifted. I believe God was patiently waiting on me to get to the YES! I needed to consciously want to get well. THANK GOD I WANTED HEALING!
I could go on and on about the positive life-changes I have made which are a direct result of my decision to heal, and of the blessings these changes have brought. It is all founded, however, on deepening my relationship with God and on trusting His promises. I had compromised this focus before. As a result, I became enervated. Lesson learned!
Are there things in your life, in yourself that you want healed? Is it time for you to take a timeout—to get in a quiet place and have an honest conversation with God about your condition? Do not sleep on YOU! Do not sleep on HIM! Do not get to the end of your life only to WAKE UP with a Should-a, Would-a, Could-a List. Do you want better for your WHOLE life? If so, do not become satisfied with simply being a get well-wisher! God wants you healed! Take action! You have rested long enough!
It started as a whisper…a reocccuring remembrance of Deuteronomy 15:6:
When the Lord your God blesses you as He promised you, then you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow….
For weeks, I would be reminded of these very words. I tried to ignore these nudges, but they only grew louder. There was no denying that the time had come for me to consciously get out of debt! Why? Well, I could list numerous reasons. I mean really, who desires to remain in debt? Sure, it can become comfortable—similar to walking around in circles for 40 years. Circular walking makes me dizzy though. I want what He has Promised!
So last year at this time, I was receiving student loan and credit card bills fully aware that I needed to PAY THEM OFF sooner than later! I had no clue how I would do this. Admittedly, I was not in a position where I had extra money. (Who really has extra money though?) Times were definitely hard and there I was being consumed by a divine pressing that I could not disregard. Have you ever been there? Maybe it was not with your finances, but in any area of your life??? Have you ever felt God telling you to do something and you wanted to do it, but you did not know how? For me, getting out of debt sooner than later would be entirely God’s work. I would more or less be a functional spectator because it was truly outside of my control. It really came down to me believing that God would do it if I simply followed His lead. Once I surrendered to this belief, He revealed to me enough of the why to encourage me along the way.
As I write this, I am smiling because of what happened next. A few days after my surrender, if not the very next morning, I was watching Joyce Meyer on television. (For those of you who may not know about the ministry God has given to her, see: http://www.joycemeyer.org/ ) Well, I was actually listening to her because for some reason that morning I was unusually sleepy. At the end of her broadcast, however, she announced that she was giving away a FREE book on getting out of debt. You would have thought an alarm was blaring in my ear if you saw the way I instantly jumped out of bed. All I had to do was email/tweet/call/contact the ministry and they would send it. I know God did that for ME! As I fought sleep, I did not know I was fighting to receive a blessing (but in hindsight it was clear). I got my copy on April 30, 2015.
On September 5th (2015), I paid off my credit card debt. Today, I paid off my student loan debt. (Thank you Joyce Meyer for allowing God to use you to bless me!) The beginning was the hardest, but it was fun seeing the progress in both myself and in the reduced balances. God is so awesome! Throughout the whole process, He allowed me to treat myself (and others) regularly along the way. He is amazing and I am in awe.
Excitedly, I am moving on to complete the next steps of the why. It is a process. Be encouraged! Be obedient! God will provide the how! Just trust Him! It’s time to build!
This morning, I was reflecting on a number of things when this thought came to my consciousness, “When the light comes on, the crickets stop chirping.”
Then I read these timely verses:
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” —John 3:19-21
Good versus evil? Light versus darkness? Truth versus lies? Have you ever taken a moment to really consider these forces—to give proper respect to what they are and how they are? I have been thinking…
about how effective and powerful Christian fellowship would be if all who profess their love for Christ fought to love each other. Sure, it sounds easy…to love your Sister, to love your Brother. Love, however, is an action word. In my Wendy Williams’ voice, “How you actin’?”
There is so much devastation living in dark places, perpetrating as solid Rock for building beautiful structures upon. No one shouts about the heap of dead fruit being produced, yet armies boldly plot to destroy healthy blooms. Is that where the confusion resides? Do people get a pass because they profess the same faith? Do we not know the tree from the fruit? No one remembers the biblical lessons about Jesus’ anger regarding making His house a den of thieves? (You know that’s real, right?)
Oh but the presence of light…. Its illumination changes the atmosphere. Its very power is undeniable. UNDENIABLE and formidably respected by the doers of deeds in the dark. UNDENIABLE and contagiously inspiring to those doing deeds through God. So, shelve your fear and radiate. Your presence has Light affects.
People will cheer for you when you do what they want you to do, especially if what you are doing is trendy. They have no loyalty to you, but to that thing they want. Understand THAT.
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. —John 2:23-25
Recently I had the blessing to be placed in a situation that confirmed my spiritual growth. Progress makes me happy! My change in perception provided me with spiritual protection. I was able to see the attacks thrown at me fall by the wayside. If I did not respect the opposition, I would have laughed. I do respect the opposition, however, so I stood firm and discerned. Are you at that place—the place where people can cheer or disrespect you and you receive it in the same way? It would be nice to think that I am there consistently, but my truth is that I am not (there yet). I do see much maturity though. Life continues to present opportunities which enable me to measure my development. Noting, these experiences are important.
A few days ago, I complimented a man’s temperament. I have watched him over a course of time sit calmly when disrespected and when complimented. I do not know what he is experiencing internally, but his outward disposition never seems to change. He is smooth and I appreciate his example of leadership. He exemplifies traits all great leaders have. He understands the purpose and importance of his role. He is clear concerning his assigned mission and committed to its completion. In addition, he discerns the operation of people. Sounds easy right? Of course it does, but it requires a lot of discipline.
Smiling, I see progress…but I still have work to do.